• 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.

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The Culture of Night

“So, what have you found while I was out?” I asked.

“Unfortunately, not much,” Gloaming said. “We skimmed through some books about myths and legends. There are several hints about powerful beings who could have an influence on Medleys abilities, but I think we should talk with the queen first. She probably knows something I'd never find in any book.”

“I also sent a request to the Coalition,” Gracia said, “and did some research myself. Unfortunately most of my findings only apply to Earth, and it's rare for anyone with that kind of power to bother themselves with other worlds.”

“I agree, at least I don't hear much about that,” I said. “But it’s possible that if someone like that lives on Earth, someone similar could live here. You know, like how they both have people like you and Medley.”

“You can make a list of people from Earth who have sufficient powers,” Gloaming said, “and look for similarities in our lists.”

“Yes, we do have some time before our audience with the queen.” Curiosity said.

“Let's make two lists,” Gracia suggested, “then we can compare them, and combine them into one.”

I nodded and got out my pen and notebook. I'm not sure if someone from the Coalition would be responsible for this, let alone anyone from the Council. More likely the mysterious girl who helped to organize the Coalition, maybe Gracia knew about her. There were also at least two people who helped the Coalition from time to time, and who could possibly do something like that.

After several minutes I went with my list to Gracia. She offered me her list.

“I can't say I know many of them,” I said. “And I put almost everyone I know in my list.”

“I see,” Gracia said. “So I will add people from your list to mine. What do you think, who may have a counterpart here?”

“Well, possibly all of them, but we should tell everyone about their main abilities, then we can correlate it with what the ponies know,” I said. “And speaking of counterparts, I met someone in another world, where I got the most interesting flying lesson. Sorry, I don’t remember the name of this world. She’s some kind of lead guardian of the world, and controls its borders.”

Some of the ponies were listening to our conversation with interest. Medley even looked over the lists, but unfortunately she couldn't read Earth languages.

“She asked for some favours in return for leading us back to Earth,” I said. “And this reminded me of Leja. I also know a guy from another world, he made deals too, but he offered chances to win different prizes. Some were physical things, some were abilities. For example, I bet some clothes and I got a ball, which glowed in the dark. After I bet a gemstone I got an amulet with unknown powers. Also, he called himself a prince of chaos, so he might be a counterpart of the embodiment of chaos here.”

“And who is this Leja person?” Rainbow asked.

“It's kind of a mystery.” I tried to shrug my shoulders, but it wasn't easy on four legs. “She can exchange one thing for another, and these things could even be your abilities. She must be a powerful mage, if she can do that.”

“What kind of things and abilities?” Gloaming said. She even took her journal and prepared to write.

“She can give you knowledge, but I don’t think she’s interested in receiving it,” I said.

“She doesn't give away artifacts often, preferring to provide knowledge on how to find them,” Gracia said. “So she mostly provides others with abilities and knowledge.”

“According to the legends, the mistress of the dark river did something similar,” Medley said. “Can Leja be called, if somepony knows her in person, or even just her name?”

“She can be, yes,” Gracia said. “Not many people know about her anyway.”

“Good, so the mistress of the dark river would be our first candidate,” Gloaming said. “Even if she can't help Medley directly, she could provide some valuable information. But I don’t know if I want to meet her or not.”

“Do you still think she’s responsible for genocide?” Curiosity asked.

Gloaming looked at her forelegs, saying nothing.

“Anyway, who else do you have in this list?” Medley asked.

Gracia and I told the ponies about each person in the list and what we knew about them. Together we chose three candidates who might have known something about Invisible Magic and how it worked. Gracia proposed two persons, one of whom was a vampire from the Yunnan province of China, and also a warlock and an ally of the Coalition. Another was an American mage I knew nothing about.

“Girls, it's time to go to our audience,” Gloaming said. “We may have found something interesting, but we can continue our research later.”

As Curiosity had told us, this meeting would be less official. We went to the town hall anyway, because it was created especially for those kinds of events.

A single guard met us at the entrance and showed us to a banquet hall. There was a long table with pillows on both sides. The guard stood next to the door, while another guard in the room announced that he was going to tell the queen about our visit.

We stood in the hall until Queen Azure Sky came and greeted us. We waited until the queen sat, and followed her example.

“Please tell me about your recent exploits,” she began, smiling.

“Your Majesty, we have found several possibilities for what we can do about the embodiment of chaos, including new information about the elements,” Gloaming said. “We also found a problem with Medley's learning, and a possible solution can also help us against Disaccord.”

The queen nodded. Gloaming got her journal out of her saddlebag and put it on the table. A pony came to the room and put a cup of some beverage in front of each of us.

“Lady Gracia also proposed we find doppelgängers and talk to them,” Gloaming said. “So Ladies Snowy Clothes, Rainbow and Medley went to them and learned some things, including an account of their history. Lady Snowy Clothes later found a doppelgänger in town, and we learned that they could easily become victims to some biased ponies.”

“You’ve really done a lot, since we last spoke,” the queen said. “Please tell me what you found about the elements.”

“Thanks to Ladies Snowy Clothes and Gracia, we found that each element bearer has a basic understanding of one of nine aspects of magic,” Gloaming said. She mentioned what we had found together, including what she’d learned about the ponies absent from the first test. “Later we found, that Lady Triple Apple has the aspect of life, and Lady Shimmering has the aspect of mind.”

“How hard is it to improve these aspects?” the queen asked. “And is it possible to study more aspects?”

“Improving them depends on the strength of the connection between a person and their genius, Your Majesty,” Gracia said. “It is relatively easy if you understand your genius enough to go to the next level. If you don't, you need to improve the connection, usually by reaching your current limits and pushing past them.”

Gracia made a pause and looked at me.

“You can also travel to the spirit world, Your Majesty,” I said. “It often brings new experiences, and improves the connection. I can help with that, as well as Lady Gracia.”

Azure Sky nodded.

I thought for a moment about what I had just said. If anyone in this world could master traveling to the spirit world or other spirit-related magic, Azure Sky would be the most likely candidate. The next would be Gloaming.

“If the bearers of the elements want to study magic the same way Earth mages do, they will study other aspects,” Gracia said. “I can personally teach several aspects, and they can also teach each other. But it would be better to study their own aspect more before teaching it. It is more efficient when a mage teaches not the maximum level of her aspect, but a lower one.”

“Thank you, Ladies, for your help,” the queen said. “It is good to know more about the elements, and to have ponies who can operate the same magic as the embodiment of chaos.”

“And regarding my problems,” Medley said, “Gracia and I found that I can't travel to other worlds myself, but somepony else could transport me. So we looked for anypony powerful enough to block my Invisible Magic. And the girls...” she giggled. “Sorry, the Ladies found several candidates.”

“Right,” Gloaming said, “we’ve created a list of beings in our world who can possibly block Invisible Magic, or provide us with information about it. We made a separate list of powerful beings from Earth, and correlated the two lists. We found only one correlation, somepony called the mistress of the dark river. We also found two beings on Earth who might be able to help us.”

“We can also look for their counterparts here, Your Majesty,” Curiosity said, “but it is very unlikely we would find them, as one of them is a mage like Gracia, and the other is a vampire.”

“So we can use our best chance first and look for the mistress of the dark river,” Gloaming said. She paused for a moment, keeping her face relaxed. “Her possible counterpart on Earth could exchange things and abilities for knowledge and other abilities, so she could help with Disaccord.”

“I also believe, Ma'am,” Gracia said, “that our numerical superiority would help us.”

“Why, Lady Gracia?” the queen asked.

“Because we have the whole state of ponies to propose something to the mistress of the dark river,” Gracia said, “and our opponent is only one person, albeit powerful.”

“That is reasonable,” the queen said. “I would also like to solve that peacefully. Please tell me about doppelgängers, then we will discuss how we might find the mistress of the dark river.”

I told the queen the history of doppelgängers and how their queen deceived us. Then I told how I noticed the injured pony and found that she was a doppelgänger.

“And this doctor is blackmailing her, forcing her to donate parts of her body for research.” I finished my story.

Queen Azure Sky stopped smiling and only nodded. She looked similar to Gracia, when I told her about the doctor.

“If I were younger, I would personally arrest this doctor and organise a public trial,” the queen said. “One of my favourite punishments, back in the day, was castration, but I'm not sure this doctor caused enough harm to justify that.”

Curiosity squeaked, before covering her mouth with a hoof. Other ponies around the table looked at each other nervously. Even the guards flinched a little.

“We lived in a different milieu, I suppose, and we didn't have reeducation and rehabilitation programs like we have today,” the queen said. “But that kind of punishment helped to make future generations better, as sterilised ponies couldn't leave descendants. But we stopped practicing it a long time ago, so I will send a counsellor to investigate this case.”

“Ma'am, could you tell Lady Gracia and me how you prevent crimes?” I asked.

“We eliminated poverty and the scarcity of many goods in the beginning of my reign, because I motivated scientists to create more nutritious crops and ways to build houses more efficiently. We also have very good education compared to other countries. These factors already remove many reasons for crimes. And if something happens, we have counsellors to help ponies solve their problems, and we do not isolate them from society, like other states do. We mostly use fines instead, to compensate for any harm.”

“Yes,” Gloaming said, “we have special centres for criminals who need more attention. In the most severe cases, for example, we put them in a deep sleep and they study how to live normal lives in their dreams. We can compress weeks of rehabilitation in one day of sleep, and they couldn't harm real ponies in case of any latent malice.”

“We even import criminals from other countries,” the queen said, smiling, “because it is cheaper for them to send their citizens to us for a month or two than to put them in their own prisons, not to mention the risk of escape or recidivism.

“Anyway, I'm glad you found so much about doppelgängers. I would like some of you to meet Queen Golden Beryl once more, as representatives of our state. We should arrange civilized relations and spread correct information about them, so ponies won't continue to fear them.”

“We would gladly go, Ma'am,” Curiosity said. Other ponies nodded.

“That was very interesting information about criminals, Ma'am,” I said. “But are there other unusual import and export products in your country?”

“A good question Lady Snowy Clothes. Not everypony remembers this from their school courses, but we also export exotic food. Not only products of agriculture, but also different kinds of meat. Including pony meat.”

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