• Published 13th Nov 2017
  • 908 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.

  • ...

Falling off the Edge of the World

“Rainbow, why are you wearing panties on your head?”

“Panties?” Rainbow tried to look at her own forehead. “What are those?”

“Well, underwear,” I said. “Things you wear on your skin, under your clothes.”

“But I don’t wear things on my skin.” Rainbow twitched her ears, which were stuck out from the panties’ leg holes. “I have fur.”

I giggled, looking on her ears. I checked my backpack, finding all extra pairs of underwear still inside.

“Okay, I will ask another way. Where did you get this thing on your head?”

“Curiosity made this hat for me,” Rainbow said. “I wear it if my head feels cold.”

Her fur disappeared, followed by Rainbow herself, then by the pant—er, the hat. The blurry scenery reassembled itself into Gloaming’s guest room as I gradually woke up.

Rainbow had already gotten up, it seemed. Once I was standing I went to find Rainbow and Gloaming.

Gloaming was in the main library hall, working on several books and making notes in the journal. For a moment I imagined her with a pair of panties on her head, like in that stupid dream.

“Good morning,” she said, not looking away from her work, “I already ate, and prepared breakfast for you and Rainbow.

“Thank you. I assume Rainbow is in the kitchen?”

“Yes, she woke up just before you.”

I nodded and went to the kitchen. Rainbow sat at a low table, slowly eating some dried fruits.

“Good morning, did you sleep well?” I asked.

“I can’t complain,” she said. “I even had a nice dream about what we talked about yesterday, you know...”

“Something about us hugging?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “But wait, how did you know?”

“That part wasn’t a dream.” I checked the door, but Gloaming remained in the other room. “We hugged, then you fell asleep. You also whispered something to me, but it was too quiet to understand.”

“Oh, I see.” Her snout became deep sapphire.

For a moment I wondered what she had whispered to me, but I decided not to ask. Maybe she would tell me later. We ate in silence, and then returned to the main room. Medley was already there.

“Hi girls, Curiosity will come by in a minute,” she said, then turned to Gloaming. “Have you found anything?”

“I found something about the spirits I mentioned yesterday,” Gloaming said.

“Well, it sounds familiar,” Medley said, “but I can’t remember where I heard it before. And I know I can easily make a mistake and choose the wrong book, so I’ll let you know if I remember anything else.”

“There are two mentions of this spirit,” Gloaming said. “The first one doesn’t have a name, while the second one says zebras shouldn't speak the name of the spirit. But it may be a precaution, to avoid calling on her unintentionally.”

“That’s funny,” Medley said, “I remember a mare like that. Some ponies are afraid of speaking her name.”

I was about to say something, but a knock at the door interrupted me. Gloaming went to the door and let Curiosity in.

“Why they are afraid?” I asked, once I had Medley’s attention again.

“Let me show you,” she said, smiling. “Dispersion!”

I was pleased to hear a name of pony I could understand on the first try but—

“Don't speak her name!” Rainbow exclaimed.

“Don't be silly, you can't summon a pony just by saying her name.” Gloaming rolled her eyes. “She isn't some kind of she-demon, ready to conquer ponies with her unholy knowledge of statistics and probability. Oh, now I'm talking nonsense too. It’s contagious.”

“You know our town is like a magnet to strange events, and people.” Curiosity gave Gloaming a pat on the back. “Maybe the queen secretly sends her in case other ponies can't solve some problems, like back-up.”

At this point I realized why I understood the name. I still remembered some things from my math classes in high school, and I recognized the term from probability theory.

“Back to our main topic,” Curiosity said to Gloaming, “have you found anything?”

“I’m not sure,” Gloaming said, “Curiosity, could you please have a look here?”

Gloaming illuminated part of the text with her magic, and Curiosity came to the table to read it over her shoulder.

“Looks like the mistress of the dark river is the same as the spirit who can bring the dead back to life,” Curiosity said, and glanced over at Gloaming, who suddenly looked depressed. “What’s wrong?”

“Don’t you understand?” Gloaming asked. “She can bring back the ponies we lost! Why didn’t she do that?”

“You told me you had to offer something in exchange,” I said. “It may be something very valuable or difficult to obtain, and because of that the mistress can’t bring back all dead ponies.”

“Then why would she ask for compensation in the first place?” Gloaming asked. “I don’t think ponies or zebras could really offer anything equivalent in exchange. That means she doesn’t actually need the exchange in the first place, so she just can do that for free. So why doesn’t she?”

“Maybe she expects problems with that, like overpopulation,” I said.

“Don’t you get it?” Gloaming said, as if she hadn’t heard me. “If she doesn’t want to restore the dead, it’s the same as killing all of them! You see, she is responsible for genocide in every country in the world! If any of you have any deceased ancestors, she is responsible—”

“That’s enough,” Curiosity said, cutting her off. She stood right before Gloaming and looked directly in her eyes.

“The mistress may not be able to do so at a large scale,” Curiosity said. “Or she may have other reasons not to do that. I partly agree with you, but you can’t blame somepony for inaction without knowing more.”

Gloaming make a sound, similar to snarling. Medley giggled.

“Fine,” Gloaming said. “I... Maybe you’re right. But I still don’t like it.”

Gloaming decided to make a break in her research as she became too agitated with the topic. Instead she tried to tell me more about ponies magic, but the explanations in her overexcited state of mind were hard to understand. I excused myself and went out to look around the town, giving her a chance to do something else. In the same time I tried to comprehend her explanation of the teleportation process. So far I understood that a pony needed to send a mark to a desired place, and only then start the main spell.

I noticed a pony with a cerise shag cut and a bandaged leg walking on the street. Wait a minute, wasn't she the same pony I saw on my first day here? The one with a flower on her flank and a daffodil coat. But medical treatment should have been sufficient to heal her in the last three days. She even looked strained, maybe she was in pain? That was even more unusual. I had to find out more... from a distance.

I walked where I intended to go, turned into an alley between two houses and stopped there. The mare with the cerise shag went on the street about twenty meters in front of me without noticing my attention. I waited a minute before following her.

She walked and walked. It felt like she should have already reached her destination several times, but instead she just walked some more. Eventually I realized we were heading towards the outskirts of town.

If she was going into the forest... Well, I decided I should follow her there, too. Though I wondered whether I should talk to her once we’d entered the forest, or wait until something happened. It felt better to wait, because she could only escape with teleportation, and few ponies could do it as fast as Gloaming.

The mare with the cerise shag did, in time, enter the forest. I followed her one street over, checking for any ponies nearby before I transformed into my crow-form. I flew to the forest, making several rounds over the tree-tops until I located her. As she walked further into the forest, I moved ahead of her and sat on a tree so I could monitor while she walked beneath me. When nothing interesting happened, I just repeated the manoeuvre.

On the third repeat she stopped and looked around. It was funny, how almost no one looked up, even around trees where an adversary could climb up and hide. She didn’t even look above the ground level, as I hid myself in the canopy.

After apparently deciding she was safe, she sat on her haunches and began to remove her bandage. I didn't see what was under it, because in the next moment her eyes glowed green, her fur disappeared and she became a doppelgänger.

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