• 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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Moonlight Shadow

“How is that even possible?” Gloaming cried.

I didn’t answer right away, looking for a suitable explanation, and she stomped her forehoof and scowled at me. What an impatient pony...

“Well, the short version is that some worlds are located closer to each other in the spirit world,” I said, “so I can travel there and reach these worlds.”

“I need to see this spirit world somehow,” Gloaming said, looking around herself, as if a door might suddenly appear and take her there. “I hope you don't mind if I send a message about your visit to the queen.”

“Fine,” I said.

“Actually,” she said, “I have to send her a report anyway, as it is a standard procedure after establishing relations with foreign representatives.” She gave me a proud smile. “How convenient that I'm studying foreign relations now, maybe I can write a paper on you...”

“I can tell you a bit more about myself. You asked about my occupation, didn't you?”

Gloaming nodded to me and opened the journal with her telekinesis once more. I noticed that she also had several pens on the table, inside a glass with water, possibly for ponies who couldn't just project letters onto the paper with magic. Though I wasn’t sure why they were in water.

“I work as an operative in the Coalition, an international organisation of people with special abilities. I used to work as a singer before, and I still perform from time to time.”

“What do you do as an operative?” Gloaming asked, already writing something.

“While regular people have police, the Coalition has operatives, because regular police are usually ineffective against people with special powers.”

“So you're sort of like a town guard?” she asked.

“I think it is a good analogy. Though we aren’t assigned to specific places. We work wherever our superiors send us.”

Rainbow stopped gazing on bookshelves in a distant part of the room and turned back to me. It looked like I had interested her.

“What kind of singer are you?” Rainbow asked.

“Well, I mostly perform popular and traditional songs, and I can play a couple of musical instruments, too, but I prefer to ask some musicians to play with me, or just use a recording.”

And it was good I had my backpack here, as it came back with the last transformation. I removed my spear and bow.

“Regarding my other occupation,” I said, putting both weapons on the table, “I investigate unusual phenomena around the world with a small group of operatives. But I don’t have to do that all the time, so I still can arrange performances several times a year.”

Gloaming swiftly wrote in her journal, then turned to examine my weapons. In exchange I took a pen from the glass on the table and looked inside its transparent case. The pen looked like a regular felt-tip one, but it had two colours inside: pale green and magenta, the latter was closer to its tip. It didn’t have a lid.

Gloaming noticed the pen in my talon. “I can tell you how it works,” she said.

“Yes, please. We have similar pens in my world, but they only use ink.”

“I see.” Gloaming levitated another one from the glass. “These are mostly the same. But they don’t need a refill, because special algae inside produce a dye. They only require water. They also have a small valve to close flow of ink when its tip turned up, when it isn't used.”

“So why’d you decide to change your career?” Rainbow asked, when Gloaming put the pen back.

“When I found out about the Coalition I was intrigued. In my world there aren’t many big organisations like this, ones that get together different people with special powers. If you become a member, you get access to a huge library of useful information. You can also meet many interesting people.”

I remembered how I forced myself not to say yes in the very moment I got a proposal to join. I had to wait for some time, to compose myself and not to rush the decision.

“But you can meet people during your performances, can’t you?” Gloaming didn’t even raise her head from the journal as she spoke. Her written language should have very long words if she wrote that much, or she just added her own thoughts to the facts.

“Sure I can. And in the Coalition I can do the same. You see, I don’t have the necessary education to become a researcher, as I wanted, but the Coalition is always looking for new operatives, so I decided to try.” I sighed and flexed the digits on my injured talon to try to exercise them a bit. “You should know about my childhood: my parents insisted that I should be able to defend myself. So I studied some hand to hand combat, and also traditional combat with spear and bow. Now I wish I was more proficient with firearms...”

“And these skills helped you, when working for the Coalition,” Gloaming said.

“Yes, I had an introductory course,” I said, “to evaluate my abilities, then I was assigned to work with two mages. Recently a fourth member was added to our little group, but I’m not sure if that will be permanent.”

“Maybe I will ask about your group later,” Gloaming said. “I know what this is. I’ve seen griffins use bows. But what is the rod?”

I remembered that Gloaming mentioned griffins before, and the doctor also compared me to them. If they really had forelegs with claws that could hold things, they could surely use bows.

I took the spear with my beak, because my left talon still didn't work well, made several steps back, and shook it. It elongated quickly, and a blade slid out from one side.

“Wow,” Rainbow said, her gaze stuck to the spear, even as I put it back on the table.

“That’s really awesome,” she added, after a moment. “I like the compound bow. Many griffins still use composite ones, even if they aren’t very convenient to use on the ground. But have you considered upgrading the spear to a spetum, or halberd?”

“I will consider that, this is an interesting idea.”

“I agree that it is a practical tool,” Gloaming said, sketching my weapons and backpack in the journal. “But it still looks good. I mean, I can even imagine somepony might put it on a wall to show to others, and take down later to use again. By the way, how can you transform with your backpack?”

“Basically, I can use a magic rite to connect my spirit side to an object. After that it can disappear when I change from one form to another, and reappear when I change back.”

Gloaming nodded. “I see. It must be stored somewhere in the spirit world, then.”

“Yes, people who study this kind of magic have a similar idea.”

I was impressed how she could make this kind of conclusion so fast. Even my parents would just use the rite without thinking about how it worked.

“By the way, can you store something without changing your form?” she asked. “If you can hide something during the change, maybe you can do the same without it.”

“I had heard of this possibility, and it looked too complicated for me. But from this point of view it shouldn’t be very hard. Thank you, I will try.”

Rainbow sat down near the table and took the spear with both her forelegs, looking at it from different angles. Her hooves weren’t always flat, I noticed; they became concave sometimes, like a small dish. But it didn’t explain why the spear stuck to her hooves like a metal bar to a magnet.

“Please be careful with the blade,” I said to Rainbow. “It was created with spirit magic and it is very sharp. But how can you fold your hoof like that?”

“Fold my hoof?” Rainbow turned to me, her muzzle wrinkled between her eyes and her nostrils. Confusion?

“Well, you see...” I tried to remember how the equine hoof was built, and I looked at my own claw.

“I believe Snowy Clothes would like to know,” Gloaming said, “how we can hold things without separate talons.”

“There are some animals similar to you, in my world,” I said, “but their hooves are very tough and inflexible.”

“We can adhere our hoofs to different objects thanks to our magic abilities,” she said. “We also evolved from a species who had five separate digits. One had atrophied, while the four others united into one hoof.”

Gloaming showed me the bottom part of her hoof and made a wavy movement with its surface.

“There are four bones inside. Well, actually twelve, but four of them end on this surface.” Gloaming illuminated the bottom surface of the hoof with her magic.

I studied her hoof for a minute or so, while Gloaming showed me how she could move and turn it. Then she turned back to the table.

“If you have no questions about ponies, I would like to ask about your equipment,” Gloaming said. “Do you need to carry all of this, even when you aren’t on a mission?”

“I have to. Sometimes bad people try to find me,” I said, sighing. “I have had several encounters that ended in a fight, even though I wasn’t on the Coalition business.”

“I understand.” Gloaming turned from me and looked at Rainbow. “Please remember that Rainbow, I know you like to prank ponies.”

“Don't strain your big head.” Rainbow smirked. “I'm the fastest flier in our country, and possibly the whole world. And I think I can handle a bow and arrow, let alone a spear.”

Rainbow was bringing out my competitive side. "Well, I also have some flying experience and training," I told her. "I knew the fastest flyer in one world I visited, and she taught me several tricks."

“Really?” She quickly came very close to me, and stared into my eyes. “Maybe we should race, to find out who’s the fastest?”

Her breath had an interesting smell, something similar to meadow flowers, but with a tinge of an old hay. Maybe it was a result of some cereals or legumes brewing inside her.

“Girls, please, it isn't a good time.” Gloaming edged herself between us. “Snowy Clothes needs to rest and regain her health.” She turned to me and smiled. “And we need to feed you, my treat.”

“I'm going with you,” Rainbow said, while I packed my spear and bow and put on the backpack.

“What kind of food do you like?” Gloaming asked, taking to the journal again.

“Well, I'm an omnivore, but I prefer fish,” I said, noticing how she immediately wrote it down.

“That's fine, we have a special restaurant in the town, where you can find food for non-ponies species.” Gloaming levitated a bag from another part of the room, which also had the same star symbol as Gloaming had on her flanks, maybe to show to whom it belonged. She put the bag on the table and put the journal inside.

I looked at gloomy Rainbow, and I came closer to her.

“Rainbow, you know you have beautiful eyes,” I said.

Rainbow folded her ears a bit. Unfortunately I couldn't lick my lips in this form. That would have been even better.

“They look delicious.”

“Don't tell me you eat ponies,” Gloaming said, her voice was unsteady. The bag she levitated over her back stopped moving for a second.

“Actually.” I smiled at Rainbow. “I do not. But I consider eyes a delicacy. Fish eyes, for example.”

Rainbow didn’t answer, and just looked at me for several seconds. Then she looked at Gloaming, and their ears twitched in a strange synchronicity.

Just before we came to the door, someone knocked. Gloaming reached to open it, but a new pony burst open the door and rushed in first. She had a bushy raspberry mane and a pink coat; I remembered that I had seen her in the town before I flew to look for traces of magic. She quickly looked around the library, stopped her gaze at me and jumped closer, jabbering.

“Nice to meet you! I felt there was a new pony in town so I came here, but you aren't a pony, but it doesn't matter, so I welcome you and I want to make a proper reception for you, and sorry, I forgot to introduce myself, my name is...”

No, another pony with a hard name. At least her name wasn't associated with her colour, I could congratulate her smart and original parents. So I got an impression of different things, mixed together in a fun way. Maybe Mixer? No, too many associations with kitchen. Oh, I knew just a term, one that was also about music, not just food.

“Nice to meet you, my name is Snowy Clothes. I can't repeat your name in my language, so could I call you Medley?”

“Medley.” She paused for a moment. “I like it.”

“Good,” Gloaming said. “We were just about to grab lunch, you can come with us.”

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