• Published 13th Nov 2017
  • 877 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.

  • ...

Over the Rainbow

“Why do you prioritise your objectives in this way?” the queen asked.

“Good skill in Invisible Magic may save many lives,” Gracia said, “maybe not right now, but very soon. So it will have a bigger impact on your society then my help with healthcare.”

“That is reasonable,” the queen said, nodding as she turned to me. “Do you have any questions for me, Lady Snowy Clothes?”

“Yes, I have some, Ma'am. But I hope not to waste your time. Would you please let me know if any questions would be best answered by someone else?”

“Of course,” the queen said. “But keep in mind that we don't receive guests from other worlds very often, so I am prepared to spend some time here. And if Lady Gracia also want to ask something, please don't hesitate to do so. In fact, I shall apply that courtesy to the whole court.”

“Ma'am,” I said, “how have you managed to stop ageing? My people have been trying to do that for centuries. The best the Coalition can do requires repeated procedures and high-level magic, but we're nowhere close to a one-time cure.”

“I was born as a unicorn, but I have found a way to integrate the magic of all three pony races into one being. I did this to have more power to help other ponies, but as a side effect I stopped ageing.”

“Have you repeated this process on any other ponies, Ma'am?” Gracia asked.

“Yes, my own sister decided to try first. She transformed successfully, but the changes to her brain negatively affected her personality. I managed to deal with it, but my sister exiled herself for many years.”

“I don’t think I have heard of this fact, Your Majesty,” Curiosity said.

“You can find it in some historical texts, but it isn't widely known, just because it is ancient history by now. Most people in other countries and some ponies these days believe in the legendary version of that story. Supposedly, my sister wanted to usurp my power, but I defeated and exiled her. Then I sent her to the moon, of all places.”

The queen smiled, but it looked forced.

“People of the past even began to see an image of a pony on the moon’s surface, during my sister's exile,” she continued. “The Mare in the Moon, they called it. Some of you may have learned about this in school, where a pony sees patterns where none actually exists.”

“Why the moon, Ma'am?” Curiosity asked.

“Do you remember the old myths, that were created by inhabitants of neighbouring countries?” the queen asked. “About me and my sister being godlike beings, who move the sun and the moon? Later they created even more myths to explain the sun’s movement before my birth. Like some other magical people, with less power individually, collectively moving the sun. They even considered my flank-mark as evidence of my magical connection with the sun.”

She turned slightly to show her mark to me and Gracia. It was a small, stylized image of a sun.

“So, answering your question: possibly because of this imaginary magical connection with the moon, or because of the imaginary picture of a mare in the moon.”

Well, even I could conclude something like this, if I had only so much information, and if I lived in the Middle Ages. But still, moving the sun—how powerful would they be? Even if the sun was a small one and it was orbiting the planet for some reason, it would need to be potent enough to heat the whole planet. Considering the distance it could be much smaller than the Earth’s sun, but still...

“And your sister’s mark is in the shape of the moon, Ma'am,” Gloaming said. “But you never told me how you got these mark.”

“Oh, that was simple, really,” the queen said, smiling. “I was very fond of astronomy during my foalhood. And my sister too. I also have a question for you, Lady Snowy Clothes. Why does the Coalition want to cooperate with other organisations, and even countries, from other worlds? It isn't the only way to get something useful from others.”

“What do you mean, not the only way, Ma'am?” I asked.

“For example, some of our neighboring countries may officially cooperate with us, but groups of their citizens prefer to rob our ponies. Of course, the guards watch for potential robbers, and try to catch them.”

“I see.” So, why didn’t the Coalition rob other worlds, like extracting resources without any dialogue with the natives? “There are two reasons, I think. First, the Council was founded by people who prefer peaceful and cooperative solutions. Second, they analysed possible outcomes and decided that it would be a very efficient strategy to cooperate whenever possible.”

“Our High Council came to a similar conclusion,” the queen said. “Our foals even study the cooperation dilemma in schools now, as a part of decision theory.”

“Ma'am, you talk like people from the Coalition Council,” I said.

“I second that, Ma'am,” Gracia said. “If you were an Earth resident, I believe they would ask you to join the Council.”

“I'm flattered, Ladies,” the queen said. “This is yet more evidence that we can work together. I understand that we can quite easily exchange information, but how might we transport people and cargo between our worlds?”

“I think practitioners of Invisible Magic can help,” Gracia said. “You have at least two, Ma'am, and the Coalition also has some. We can transport even large amounts of cargo.”

“And we can also investigate other means of transportation,” I added.

“That's good. But could these travels be dangerous?” the queen asked. “Could you bring lethal bacteria from your planet, or something harmless from our world that would become lethal in yours?”

“When a person travels through the spirit world or uses Invisible magic, the process of travel also works as a barrier,” Gracia said, “which usually removes potential vectors. Even so, on my arrival I checked myself and Lady Snowy Clothes for anything dangerous, and found nothing.”

“I can add that the Coalition could arrange a special travelling point to check everyone for potential infections,” I said.

“We can do the same,” the queen said. “Lady Gracia, how do you wish to proceed with studying our healthcare system?”

“When I arrived, Ma'am, I started scanning the health of every pony around using my magic to get information,” Gracia said. “I would also like to get some medical literature soon, and to visit a hospital or two. After I gather more information, I can make some suggestions to your doctors here, based on standards of Earth medicine.”

“In that case I will find a doctor to assist you in this undertaking,” the queen said. “I understand that I can't directly detect the magic you use, neither Invisible nor your regular magic. But can you detect our magic?”

“Yes, Ma'am. My abilities allow me to perceive your magic.”

“In that case I would ask you to assist us with one more thing,” the queen said. “A long time ago, my sister and I confronted a creature who used another form of magic. Despite my power and support from my sister, we couldn't fight him, and we couldn't persuade him to leave ponies to their own devices. While looking for a solution, we found a legend about six mystical elements, which can be used by six ponies. After comparing the legends we finally found these ponies and a method to activate the power of the elements, then we managed to defeat our foe. But unfortunately we are still not sure how it all works.”

Was that what Gloaming decided not to tell me about? I remembered that the Coalition also knew about many unexplained phenomena, and these elements were surely similar phenomena for ponies.

“I will look at these elements, and your foe, Ma'am,” Gracia said. “I believe Lady Snowy Clothes should also look, because she has her own unique expertise. What can you tell me about these elements?”

“We called them the elements of harmony, because they require a great deal of understanding and trust between the six bearers,” the queen said. “They should want to achieve the same goal with the elements, or just trust one of them enough to command the elements for the rest.”

“Could you show us these elements, Ma'am?” I asked.

“The elements themselves are pieces of enchanted jewellery, but we can't identify the enchantments with our magic,” the queen said. “They are stored in a secured location now, but you can have a look at the element bearers. All of them are present here, they are Lady Gloaming and her five friends.”

Oh, that's why she invited Gloaming and company too... Sly queen.

Gracia nodded and looked at Gloaming for several seconds, then to each of her friends.

“Lady Gloaming, could you please recollect what you thought and felt, when you used the elements for the last time?” Gracia asked.

“Well, I felt my friends agree with me, and I thought together we could do something incredible,” Gloaming said.

Gracia studied Gloaming for about a minute, then turned to the queen.

“I haven't seen anything like this before,” Gracia said, “but I believe that each of the six mares is connected to the same magical genius. And as far as I can tell, this genius is the same as mine, so their magic should be the same as the magic of Earth’s mages.”

“The genius is an invisible entity that is responsible for manipulating matter and energy, correct?” the queen said.

“Yes, it is the source of a mage's magic,” Gracia said. “Most mages believe it is a kind of machine, or even a living organism, possibly created artificially. The better you understand your genius, the more complicated and powerful magic you can cast. That means these mares have two kinds of magic. Well, except Lady Medley, she has three.”

“Actually, they may have one more,” I said.

Everyone looked at me.

“You see, ponies may have a powerful spirit-side due to the nature of the spirit world here,” I said. “There are also several effects that you can't explain with regular pony magic. Lady Gracia, do other ponies in the town have mage's genii?”

Gracia looked around for a minute.

“No, I don't detect any others.”

“So spirit magic might produce some of this unexplained phenomena,” I said.

“Interesting idea,” the queen said. “Can we test it?”

“I believe so, Ma'am” Gracia said. “First, we choose some effects that can manifest with the help of spirit magic. I can suppress effects from a specific area of magic, so we can see if it suppresses or disrupts pony magic. I haven't noticed any evident effects of spirit magic, but it can be very weak, and may manifest only in certain cases.”

“I can also look for manifestations of any spirit magic,” I said. “I have a theory that spirit magic can help with instinctive effects, and with effects that require ordered fields of magical structures.”

“Please do, Ladies,” the queen said. “I also ask you to check the remains of our old foe. When we used the elements on him, he was transformed into stone. I hope it wasn't permanent, as pony magic can't do anything with him now.”

“I can check him when we finish here, Ma'am,” Gracia said. “If anyone would like to accompany me, please let me know.”

“Thank you, Lady Gracia,” the queen said. “The statue can be found in the gardens next to our castle in the capital. Lady Gloaming can show you the exact location.”

The queen asked Gracia to show her how she was going to travel to the castle gardens, after Gracia told her she didn't need to take the train. Gracia simply opened a door to an adjacent room, and asked everyone who wanted to go with her to close their eyes before stepping into the door frame, and to follow her. Triple Apple went back to work, Shimmering decided to go home, but Gloaming, Curiosity and Medley went with me and Gracia. And, of course, Rainbow followed me too.

I opened my eyes after four steps and found a beautiful garden around me. Every plant looked healthy and I didn’t see a single dead branch. Gloaming quickly found her bearings, and led us to the statue.

“The queen told us about her old foe,” I said while walking, “but does he have a name? She didn’t mention one.”

“Good question.” Gloaming looked at me, then ahead of her. She walked for some time silently. “The last time he was seen alive was ages ago. Our language has changed much since then, we even changed the alphabet. So I can't even pronounce his original name. But if I remember correctly, in some books he is called Disaccord.”

“It would be sad, if we find a way to make him alive again, and we can't even understand each other,” Medley said.

“You are correct,” Gloaming said. “We don't have records of any speech from that time. And even if one of the queens remembers some words from this era, her memory might be biased by the contemporary language.”

In less than a minute we came to a grey, stone statue of some kind of chimera. He had a more or less equine head, but his four legs and two wings were all from different creatures. I could only conclude that one foreleg looked like it was took from a bird of prey, and another foreleg from some kind of feline.

“That is the embodiment of chaos,” Curiosity said, stopping before the statue.

“Disaccord,” Gloaming said.

Medley nodded to the statue. “Yep, that's him.”

For the first time since I'd met her in this world, Gracia looked confused.

“It's empty,” she said.

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