• Published 13th Nov 2017
  • 892 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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Centre of Eternity

Gracia looked around at all the ponies. “I tried weak magical effects near you, and each of you detected some of them. Looks like all of you have one aspect of at least a novice level, which allows you to perceive corresponding phenomena.”

“Do tell us about these aspects,” Curiosity said.

I felt a strong impatience in her voice. In her situation I would feel the same, I think. She was waiting to hear about an ability that might be very useful for her country.

“Your aspect is Matter; what you heard was the air around you being manipulated,” Gracia said. “But you can shift this perception to any other sense, if you practice.”

Medley jumped into the air, shouting, “Oh, me! What about me?”

“Your aspect is called Correspondence, it is perception and manipulation of space around you. You can also expand your physical senses with this aspect.”

“What about me and Gloaming?” Rainbow asked. “We haven’t felt anything unusual.”

“Both of you are accustomed to your abilities, and therefore it seems a natural product of your mind,” Gracia said. “But you have sensed no wind. What you felt was pure force, applied magically without any actual air movements. And Gloaming, what you saw as colours were different aspects of magic. So your aspect is Prime. That may also be a reason why you can see cellular automata in your mind so well—you are not only imagining them, but perceiving them.”

“That’s awesome,” Rainbow said. “Do you think it helps me fly fast?”

“Yes, it should,” I said. “Your wings give you some feedback, but the aspect of Force can give you more information. And maybe even some instinctive knowledge about air movements at supersonic speeds.”

“That actually explains a lot,” Gloaming said. “Many ponies tell me I’m a magic prodigy, and now I have a reason why it comes so easily to me. Can the aspect of Prime help me if I want to create a new automata I haven’t tried before, for example?”

“Even at the novice level it would help,” Gracia said. “Because you will perceive a difference between actual and imaginary automata, so you can correct your magic in real time.”

“I thought so,” Gloaming said. “So, you can detect magic produced with the aspects on other ponies?”

“Yes, and you can detect it yourself when you have some practice. I will tell you when I use some magic, so you can study my example. Later you can even perform a wide area detection effect, using all the elements.”

“I can do that?” Gloaming asked. “Sorry, silly question. With all the elements I believe I can. I will also invite Shimmering and Triple Apple over in the evening, so could you also check them, please?”

“Of course, I want to study your relations to your common genius, so I will help them to determine their aspects, too,” Gracia said.

“And about these aspects.” Medley turned to Gracia. “Can we tell them about cheating?”

“These ponies are your friends,” Gracia said, looking around at them. “We don’t need to keep it secret.”

“Keep what secret?” Curiosity asked.

“Well,” Medley said. “Please don’t be angry at me, but Gracia told me that every practitioner of Invisible Magic finds a way to cheat death sooner or later, in one way or another. I don’t understand how to do that, but it should only be matter of time...”

I hadn’t known about that. I'd suspected that Gracia was older than she looked, but I assumed she could have achieved that with her great proficiency in life magic.

“Medley, my dear,” Curiosity came to her and hugged her. “You know that no sane pony wants to die. And personally I’m glad that you won’t pass away.”

“I agree,” Gloaming said. “And I can only hope science will help us too, before we die.”

She looked at Rainbow, who nodded then suddenly turned her snout away.

“Thank you, girls,” Medley said.

She sat quietly for a minute, then turned to Gracia.

“Can we use our connections to the same genius to transfer my cheating ability to others?”

“No, unfortunately.” Gracia said. “Our genii can’t manipulate Invisible Magic. But you or another element bearer can study the aspect of life.”

“Of course, thank you.” Medley jumped and hugged Gracia.

“So how can we progress with this aspect magic?” Curiosity asked. “Feeling or hearing different substances is nice, in my case, but you said mages could manipulate substances with my aspect.”

“You can try manipulation after you study perception with your aspect,” Gracia said. “If you feel like it is beyond your limit, you may need to strengthen the link between you and the genius. That is another complicated topic, but in general you may simply need more experience with magic.”

“Yes, like going to the spirit world,” I said. “But you would do better to reach your limit with your current level of mastery.”

“Whenever Disaccord comes back,” Curiosity said, “we should be prepared to do our best.”

“Me too,” Medley said.

“I agree,” Gloaming said. “Shimmering and Triple Apple will support us, I’m sure.”

Yes, girl-power in action! Or, considering that they are small horses, should it be called horse-power?

“We already have a problem with doppelgängers, now another potential threat,” Gloaming said.

“Why are doppelgängers a problem?” Gracia asked with a smile. “They look pretty harmless to me, according to your stories.”

“Because they easily replaced my brother and his fiancée,” Gloaming said, lifting her hind leg and turning her ears backward. Couldn’t anypony could be replaced?”

Rainbow turned to Gloaming, but didn’t ask anything. Probably Gloaming or someone else had told her about doppelgängers already.

“Gloaming, are you sure you aren’t coming to a conclusion based on your emotions?” Medley asked.

“Yes, darling,” Curiosity said. “And aren’t you being too broad?”

“Et tu, Medley?” Gloaming said.

“Please wait a moment to calm yourself,” Medley said. “Now ask yourself, how likely is it that all of us could be replaced?”

Gloaming looked at her, then at Curiosity. “Well, on second thought, not likely. Sorry.”

“I would like to add that I haven't found any of them in the town, though I haven’t scanned every inhabitant here,” Gracia said. “And there are none in the castle. You can use some of your medical diagnostics methods to spot them if you need to. After that you can just talk to them and ask why they do that.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t think I quite follow you,” Curiosity said. “We may have means to find them, but we will have to check a great many ponies to discover even one doppelgänger.”

“Maybe Gracia can find them?” Medley asked.

“I should be able to,” Gracia said. “I can send a group of ponies to them, as a diplomatic mission of some sort.”

“Really?” Gloaming said. “I can go, then, and finally talk to them—”

“No, darling, you shouldn't,” Curiosity interrupted. “You can't be unprejudiced.”

Gloaming looked at her. “Right, you are correct. Maybe some of you can go?”

Gloaming turned to the other ponies.

“I may be partial too,” Curiosity said.

“I can go,” I said. It would be interesting to talk to another intelligent species here.

“Hm, that is a good idea,” Gloaming said. “You aren't a pony, so they may be less aggressive towards you, even if they expect problems from our side.”

Rainbow looked at me for a moment. “I should go too,” she said, looking back to Gloaming. “I don't remember this incident with your brother, so I have no hard feelings towards them.”

“Take me, take me,” Medley said, jumping again.

“I see an advantage here,” I said. “Rainbow and I can fly away in case of any problems. Medley can retreat using Invisible Magic.”

“Wait, Snowy Clothes, haven’t you forgotten about your performance later today?” Curiosity asked.

“Oh!” I reached for my phone to check the time. “Thank you, I should go to the rehearsal soon. Can we meet the doppelgängers afterwards?”

“I think so,” Gloaming said. “It would be only late evening.”

“Good, so let’s go after my concert.”

“In that case I will return home,” Curiosity said, “If you need me, you know where to find me.” She nodded and left the library.

“I’ll be back soon, once I tell my employers I'll be gone for a while,” Medley said.

“I also need to check when the weather service is expecting me back,” Rainbow said. “See you soon.”

Medley and Rainbow left, leaving me with Gloaming and Gracia.

“By the way,” Gracia said, “I can translate your songs for the audience with magic.”

“Oh, that would be great!” I said.

“Then I will come by before it starts,” she said, on her way out. “Until then I will be visiting the town clinic, if you need me.”

After Gracia left the library, I thought about the songs we had tried the day before. I would have to start practicing some of them before singing them to the ponies.

But what would I sing? Something about love, definitely. Besides that, perhaps some songs about traveling, also some about mysterious things like magic.

By the time I checked my phone, it was time to leave.

“Don’t forget to come to the concert,” I said.

“I won’t, I asked Curiosity to fetch me to be sure,” Gloaming said. “I heard that ponies from the capital would be coming, too.”

“Really? How far it is from here?”

“About forty kilometers,” she said.

“Isn’t that a long way to go for just a concert?”

“Not at all, our trains are quite fast,” Gloaming said.

“That's good. So, see you there.”

I left the library and went to the outskirts of town, where the stage was located. It seemed like there were more ponies than the day before, but it might have been my imagination. I slowed down and looked around. I would have to ask Medley, she should know how many ponies from other cities we had.

The stage was visible from a distance, located at the foot of a hill. I could recognise lighting and sound equipment on the stage, and when I came closer I noticed Medley. She told me that the musicians would come soon, so I began my voice exercises.

Naturally, Melodic Song and Juvenile Grape came very soon and we began rehearsals. Melodic Song had really done her homework; her instrument complemented my voice very well, even though she still used sixteen tones. Harpy was a bit late, so she got involved in the middle of our third song.

Some spectators had gathered by then. Most of them I didn’t recognize, but in the middle of our rehearsal Curiosity and Gloaming came by. By the end I counted around fifty ponies.

We finished only a bit later than planned, and I agreed with the musicians on a twenty minute break before the actual performance. I walked down to the grounds around the scene. Some of the ponies waved their forelegs to me, so I waved back.

I looked around from a new perspective, glad to be out of the stage-lights for a moment. It was good that the natural form of the valley allowed all ponies to see the scene. Also the green plane with occasional small bushes was a good surrounding for a performance.

After the break I went backstage and waited with the musicians. Medley came to me from the front and helped to attach a wireless microphone to my head. The musicians already had microphones on their instruments.

“Don’t worry, we still have time until the beginning,” Medley said. “And if we start earlier, you can say something to the crowd. So, please come out when I call your names.”

It didn’t help me to calm down, because I had no idea what I could say. But Medley went to announce us anyway.

In a minute I heard her amplified voice calling me. Then I noticed a strange roaring from the audience. When I came closer I tried to discern what was happening despite the bright lighting. As my eyes adjusted, I could see many ponies stomped their hooves on the ground creating this sound.

Medley announced Melodic Song, Juvenile Grape and Harpy. They stood around me, and I turned to the audience once more. As Medley didn’t say anything about welcoming remarks, I assumed it was time. The illumination still hindered my vision and even induced some tears, but I didn’t care. I just sang.

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