• 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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Living in the Sunlight

Gloaming stood five meters away from me, which put me too far away to charge but too close to dodge. I had to distract her somehow, then I could escape or hide.

“Well, you can check my body somehow,” I said. “Like, making a magic scan...”

“It may work,” Gloaming said. Her eyes narrowed, and her stance relaxed, but the magic glow didn't dim or disperse. “Are you willing to submit yourself for such an examination?”

“Of course...” As I answered, I heard a knock on the entrance door.

Gloaming turned her muzzle to the door, and I immediately changed back to the crow and took wing. Gloaming sent an almost-transparent purple beam to me, but missed by maybe a metre or so, hitting the wall with no apparent effect. I made several sharp turns in the air, in an attempt to avoid more attacks. Nothing else came; Gloaming just stared at me, following my evasive flight with her gaze.

There was another knock, and she snorted in frustration before running to the door. I used the distraction to find a place on the bookshelves where I could hide. I hoped Gloaming liked to align books on the front line of shelves, so if books were smaller, there was plenty of space to hide a fifty centimetre long bird like me. It took several seconds to find a space, but I managed to squeeze in behind the books just as she opened the door. After hiding I walked behind the books to another end of the shelf until I found a gap between books, wide enough to watch and listen to the Gloaming and her guests.

“How are you doing?” One of the guests said.

They were about to say something else, but Gloaming interrupted.

“Where is this bird?” She moved from the door to the centre of the room.

“What bird?” Another voice said.

I could finally see the newcomers, as they followed Gloaming from the door and stood next to her. One had a rather long, straight, pink mane with a similarly long tail. She had a very light yellow coat and an image of something small and pink on her flank. The mare with a pink mane was a bit shorter than Gloaming and had a slim build, and had two rather big bags on her sides. The other one had a mane with an explosion of colour, I counted at least five shades in her tousle. She had a light cerulean coat.

Gloaming looked around her once more and turned to other ponies. “Anyway, the doors are closed and she can’t escape this room right now. What can I do for you?”

“Sorry if we disrupted anything,” the one with the pink mane said, her face mostly hidden behind it. “But I would like to return the books I took earlier.”

“Of course...” Gloaming said, mentioning her name. “Just put them on the table, I’ll sort them later.”

So, the name could be... Shimmering something? The images on her haunches seemed to depict some small winged creatures, most likely butterflies. I couldn't say for sure, because she had turned in such a way that I couldn’t examine them. And unfortunately I couldn't relate these images to her name.

While the other mare's most distinctive feature was her mane and tail, she also had a rainbow-coloured streak and a cloud as her haunch-mark. Until I learned her real name, I could call her the rainbow mane. Or just Rainbow. She was a bit shorter than Shimmering, but I noticed that she was rather muscled despite her wiry frame. She also looked a bit worn out, judging from tangles in her tail and an uneven texture of her coat. Had she gone running recently?

“And you haven’t interrupted anything; I just had an unusual visitor before you both came,” Gloaming added.

Shimmering nodded, then sat and let her bags slide to the floor. She took one of the bags with her mouth and moved it on the table. Then she took the bag from another side and lifted, that made books slide from the bag to the table. After that she repeated the same procedure with the second bag, and began to arrange the books in two piles.

Gloaming didn’t ask for the names of her guests, so I assumed she knew them.

“What kind of visitor?” Rainbow asked. “You said something about a bird.”

“As a matter of fact I did,” Gloaming said. She turned to her guests. “You see, a white bird came to the library and talked to me. At first I thought it was just a strange talking animal, but soon she told me she could change her form and become a member of a different species. She also asked about doppelgängers, and then transformed into a strange creature, similar to a griffin.”

Didn’t she remember that I hadn’t asked about the doppelgängers, but about the incident in the capital? But I suppose that wouldn’t prove anything, since even a doppelgänger could ask about recent news.

“Oh,” Shimmering shivered and brushed her forehoof against the pile of books she made. “I’m sorry, but I haven’t seen anything like this. But what kind of bird it was?” she asked, and started arranging books again.

“I think she was a crow.” Gloaming absently looked at the books on the table.

“Well, doppelgängers can mimic different ponies, so why they can’t change to birds?” Rainbow asked.

“I think I doubted it myself, before I saw this transformation with my own eyes. I asked her how she can prove she doesn’t work with doppelgängers, but before I could learn anything you knocked and she hid.”

Shimmering finished with her books and turned to Gloaming. “But how could she hide here?”

“She changed back to her bird form,” Gloaming said, “and hid somewhere when I opened the door for you. I didn’t get a chance to look around thoroughly.”

“Well, we should look for it, if this thing is a doppelgänger,” Rainbow said, who then made a small circle around the other ponies as she looked for me.

“I’m sorry, but are you sure?” Shimmering asked. “I mean when we found about doppelgängers in the capital and tried to catch them, they didn’t become birds and fly away. But it would have helped them to escape more easily, don’t you think?”

“Good point.” Gloaming waved her muzzle up and down several times. “If they really could change to birds and fly away, they could escape before we captured one of them. Though, even that didn’t help us, since another one of them became a guard and freed the captured one. But even in this case they could help each other without difficulties if they could fly or just change to a smaller animal...”

Shimmering appeared smart enough despite her shy nature. And not so aggressive as her rainbow-coloured friend. Of course, if the doppelgängers are changing breeds like me, maybe they can change only to non-flying animals, but I hadn’t heard of a whole species who can change both their appearance and body size. But still, it doesn’t mean that there are no such creatures in this world.

“I think we should find this bird and interrogate her,” Rainbow said.

“But please think about what are you going to do,” Shimmering said, almost as loud as other ponies. For her it sounded as if she nearly screamed. “If she represents some other species, it may cause problems with future relations with them.”

“You’re right,” Gloaming said, nodding vigorously. “We should consider both alternatives, that she may be with doppelgängers or that she may not, and choose the best course of action.”

She started pacing back and forth near the other two ponies.

“I also remembered that some other pony has told me before, sorry, I’m not sure who exactly,” Shimmering said. “I mean, the doppelgängers who appeared in the capital may not represent the whole species of them. So even if this bird is one of them, she may be from another group.”

“You’re right, we really should work it out as diplomatically as possible,” Gloaming said.

I haven’t thought about that, that there may be different kinds of doppelgängers. If they have equine-type doppelgängers who mimic ponies, there may be doppelgängers who mimic other species. Also they may have different cultures and ways of life.

Suddenly Shimmering jumped and looked around.

“I'm very sorry, I need to go to my animals,” she said, walking backward to the entrance door. “I hope you will tell me about everything later. Until next time.”

She bumped into the wall near the door, made a small smile to the remaining ponies, and walked out of the library.

“I also have something to do,” Rainbow said to Gloaming, “but I want to sort out this situation, so I will stay for now.”

Gloaming gazed at her, a bit disapprovingly, if I understood correctly.

“We need to find her and get some answers.” Gloaming paused for a moment, looking around the room at all her bookshelves. “But I just finished reorganizing...”

“Don’t you know any spells that’ll scan the whole room, like to find living beings?” Rainbow asked. “I’ve heard guards can do something like that.”

“They can for sure,” Gloaming said. “I know some of the effects and their structures, but I haven’t trained to make them quickly. I can try it only as a last resort.”

“Before removing the books, I guess,” Rainbow said, smirking.

I wondered, could she use some effect or device to see in the infrared spectrum? In that case ponies could find me pretty easily, looking for heat trails on my shelf.

Gloaming looked around the room. “Let’s call her first, maybe we can talk without any more, um, undiplomatic measures. Snowy Clothes, I suppose you can hear me.”

“That’s her name?” Rainbow asked. “Not bad, actually...”

“I can blast all the books from the shelves, and possibly you, too,” Gloaming said, slightly louder, “but as Shimmering said, we haven't seen doppelgängers transform like you do. So maybe we can get along. I only need some more evidence to support your story.”

She didn’t sound angry or agitated anymore, so maybe it was a good idea to show myself. But I should discuss some terms first; I have some time before they can find me by my voice, I think.

“I can hear you,” I said. “I will stick what I said about medical examination. Can you do that?”

Both ponies turned their ears to me, then turned their heads, looking for me in the shelf.

Rainbow pointed her foreleg to my general direction. “She’s somewhere in this shelf.”

“I know, but don’t rush ahead,” Gloaming said to Rainbow, before turning to me. “I know some anatomy, but I would prefer to call for a doctor. I can say that we would like to check you after a long journey, to confirm that everything is fine.”

“Fine, I will come out and I’m not going to run until a doctor can check me,” I said. “One of you can stand near the entrance, if you wish.”

“I can do that,” Rainbow said.

Gloaming walked to a wall with two buttons, red and yellow. “I can call a doctor from here,” she said. “These buttons are designed to call for help in case of any emergency. The red one is for critical events, for example if somepony is dying, and the yellow one is for anything else.”

“So I’ll come out, then you call for a doctor, then I will transform.”

“Sounds good. Rainbow, please go to the door,” Gloaming said to her.

As she said Rainbow’s name, she confirmed my suspicions. It had a second meaning, though, something that I couldn't put into just one or two words.

Maybe Gloaming also wanted to create some distance between me and Rainbow, because Rainbow appeared to be more impulsive than other ponies.

I decided to fly quickly from my hiding place to the same bust I had sat on before. It stood almost in the centre of the room, so I could have a good vantage point.

With this plan in mind I walked from behind the books and immediately took wing to get to the bust. The ponies followed me with their eyes, but I noticed Gloaming’s ears twitched several times. Maybe she became slightly nervous again, as my appearance possibly reminded her of the unpleasant experience in the capital.

I focused my attention at Gloaming, as Rainbow hadn't shown any magic capability.

“Now it’s your turn.”

Gloaming looked at me, then at the buttons on the wall. She slowly moved her foreleg to the yellow one and pushed it, the button emitted several beeps and blinked once.

“Done.” She returned to a standing position on all four legs. “You can come down, the doctor will be here very soon.”

She tapped one of her forelegs several times on the floor. I took wing and made a couple of small circles, looking for a place on the floor to land.

“Come down already,” she said. “I want a doctor to be impartial, so we aren’t going to show how you transform.” And her forehead glowed again.

Suddenly, I felt like I had flown into water. My wing movements became slower, but I didn’t drop on the floor immediately. Gloaming’s magic held me in the air and slowly moved me down. Well, if she wanted to make things faster I could transform immediately, so she might lose her grip on me. So I remembered my new half-equine form and concentrated on it. I felt I could move more freely, but I also accelerated towards the floor.

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