• Published 7th Jul 2018
  • 1,565 Views, 49 Comments

Exiles - Coyote de La Mancha



Before recorded history, there was the terrible and primordial Age of Chaos. And in this age, there were two sisters. This is their story.

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After They Rested

What had seemed obvious and optimistically simple upon their first glance seemed much less so once they had slept. After breaking their fast, the sisters traversed the swamp, talking and speculating. What if they never found their third? What if this was as strong as they would ever be? What if Discord could never be overcome by might, but only by trickery? Could they somehow trick him into binding himself? They continued discussing the possibilities as best they could, trying to come up with a plan.

The murk gave way to a dark and tangled wood, with a thousand eyes peering at them as they walked. In a way, this was comforting; after all, pattern that could support so much life could also support them, however long as it lasted. On the other hoof, it was unlikely that all these eyes belonged to herbivores.

So really, the wolves’ attack was inevitable and a surprise to no one. Obviously formed from murder trees, they stalked and leapt at the sisters, wooden fangs snapping and claws of sharp bark rending at them. Still, there were only a few of them.

Tia’s magic blasted one into glowing ash even as Luna spun in mid-air, deflecting another into the path of Tia’s magic to also be reduced to cinders. A globe of gold ensnared two more, reducing itself to a quarter of its initial size in an instant, crushing the wolves with a terrible crackling sound. Another, leaping at Luna, snapped at the air when its prey simply faded into the shadows. It collided with one of its fellows, and both were crushed by a glowing sphere slamming down upon them both with a meteor’s force. For an instant, Luna was back on the ground, seemingly unaware of her surroundings. Then, she was gone again, two more wolves colliding with one another where she had just been. A burst of sizzling light from Tia’s horn, and the dazed predators were no more.

The remaining wolves fled into the shadows from whence they’d come. Celestia reduced their comrades’ bodies to ash as a matter of course, and the sisters continued their journey.

“’Tis so hot here,” Luna sighed at last. “How I miss the snow.”

“Little food grows in the cold,” Tia pointed out. “Besides, remember the frozen stones we had to traverse last…”

“…and the Cold Ones who dwelt there. Yes, I remember,” Luna nodded. “Ithaqua was a powerful foe, though we did escape him and his people’s hunger, all. Yet even then, we weren’t always sweating.” She made a face. “I wasn’t always sweating. Thou seems at ease with this swelter.”

“I suppose it is warm,” Tia admitted. “Though for me, ‘tis the endless canopy that is dreary.” She sighed. “Oh, what I would trade for a sunbeam to lie in, or…”

Her voice trailed away as they broke into a clearing, well-lit and cheerful. The stones which ringed the place were many-coloured and glittering in the bright sun, the lake they surrounded cool and inviting.

The sisters looked at the water. Then at one another. Then at the lake again. Then around themselves.

No illusion.

No ambush.

After an instant’s silent conference, they retreated beck to the forest’s shadow.

…and burst out again, running at full speed, leaping from the massive stones and up over the waters below. Luna twirled and looped happily as Tia arched gracefully into the air, the many colours of her magic trailing behind her.

“Wa-HOOOOOOOOO!”

They both struck the water at about the same time, diving down, eyes open, grinning at one another even as they searched for threats from below. The waters were deep, deeper than they could see. But though schools of fish and other things darted away from them, nothing came forth, and the flash of Tia’s horn revealed nothing in the stygian darkness but pale and harmless things, swimming down away from the light.

They resurfaced laughing, splashing one another as they swam about.

“Race you,” Tia offered.

Luna shook her mane. “Hm-mm.”

Tia tsked. “No sense of fun, this one.”

“Wings are for flight,” Luna yawned, “ill-suited for swimming.”

“So fly underwater.”

“Thee first.”

Tia blew a raspberry at her while backstroking.

Luna fluttered with her wings half in the water, deluging her sister.

“Ack!”

A flash of bluish-green, and Tia sent a wave larger than either of them at Luna. Luna leapt over it, hovering as she shook the water from her feathers and coat. The fact that this, also, pelted Tia liberally was of course pure coincidence.

“Cheater,” Tia laughed.

“Oh, thou shouldst talk,” Luna said, rolling her eyes. “Thee an’ thy bubbles!”

Tia gave an indignant sound. “They are not ‘bubbles,’” she protested. “They are spheres. Elegant globes of magic and wonder.”

“Oh, poof!” Luna dismissed the idea with a wave. “Whenever thou art about to lose, thou blowest bubbles with thy mind. Horn bubbles,” she scoffed.

“Horn bubbles?”

“Horn bubbles,” Luna confirmed, eyes closed in great dignity.

Poip!

“Hey!” Luna’s voice came faintly from within the sphere of light. “Tia!”

Beneath her, Tia contentedly floated on her back. Taking in a half-mouthful of water, she blew bubbles at her sister.

Then, she blinked.

The sphere of light was empty.

“Luna?” Tia cast about her as she tread water. Had her sister entered shadow in broad sunlight? Or, more likely, had she entered dream while bound within magic? Either way, this was wonderful! Never before had Luna done either one. Nothing could get past Tia’s shields, not since they were both very young. But now, today, Luna had!

Well, however she escaped, she must show me how she did it, Tia thought. Her heart soared, even as excitement surged within her mind. It seemed they were both still growing in power, after all. They could continue training one another, strengthening one another, until they were ready. The Idea was again a reality within their grasp. But today, they would celebrate Luna’s victory.

She paused, her look becoming calculating. Of course, first I must deal with however she plans to pounce me.

Yet, even as Tia began to glance downward to the shadows below, Luna burst up through the water next to her, her eyes serious.

“Wolf.”

In a flash of light, the sisters were at the shore again. Dry wings and dry coats, Tia having refused to take even the water with them, just in case the lake itself was an enemy.

The lagoon’s surface broke as the creature flailed up into the sunlight. Its pale orange chitin covered massive, multi-segmented limbs ending in pincers capable of rending a pony in half. Its roar was one of a predator denied, having stalked from its lair hoping for sweet morsels from above. Its eyes were black, soulless, and ravenous, its cavernous mouth filled with rows of massive, flexing, extending fangs.

For an instant, the sisters stared at it, wide-eyed.

“Race you,” said Luna quietly.

They vanished into the forest.


“…so, should we encounter such a place again, I shall shield the depths, across the space of the lake,” mused Tia as they walked. “E’en if something breaks past my bubble, however unlikely that may be, I should sense it. And thus we can still respond, forewarned.”

“Thy ‘bubble’?”

Tia shrugged, smiling.

Luna smiled back. “Canst blow a bubble so large?”

Tia nodded. “I’m sure of it. Especially with thee aiding my practice. And speaking of,” she looked at her sister fondly, “How didst leave thy confines so readily? T’were no shadows to walk.”

“I became shadow. No,” she added hastily at Tia’s stricken look, “I did not merge with it. Nor would I. I just… was.” Her look became pensive as she considered. “I have no words for what I did. But between shadow and dream, there was I. I was both. Yet I was none, for I was still Luna. And I walked between.” Hesitantly, she looked to her sister, only to see Tia smiling at her, eyes full of love.

“Thou truly art a wonder, my fay.”

Luna returned her smile, and they nuzzled while they walked.

After a time, Luna giggled. “Poor wolf,” she said.

Tia’s eyebrows went up. “Poor wolf?”

“Didst see its face? So close to having two juicy ponies, and yet denied. Poor thing.”

Tia’s eyebrows rose even higher.

“Oh, lookest not so strange,” Luna chided good-naturedly. “This has been a great day. On a day such as today, I love all the world. E’en a wolf, wet an’ snappy though it might be.” She paused, then added, “E’en thy bubbles do I love, now that they can hold me not.”

Tia looked at her slyly. “And my bubbles love thee back, an’ scheme to ensnare thee anew.”

“Oh, poor, foolish bubbles. Doomed to disappointment.”

With a thought, Tia cast another sphere around her sister, this time keeping her eyes upon her. Luna simply dissolved before her eyes, even as she reformed next to her, beaming.

“My poor, poor bubbles,” agreed Tia happily. “Their time hath come an’ gone.”

Luna pranced ahead a little. “It has, indeed.”


It was some time later when Luna’s walking slowed, frowning in puzzlement.

“Luna?”

Luna’s ears shifted, trying to catch a sound that only her mind could hear. “What… what is that?”

She looked about them then, her eyes lighting quickly on a shape deep in the shadows. “It… looks like some kind of tree. With fruit? Nay,” She took a step towards it. “Nay, they… sing.”

“Luna, wait, don’t go near it!”

“But they’re calling. Can’st hear them?”

“I can a little now, aye. But so do spine traps, and betimes murder trees! That doesn’t make it safe!”

“But… those things don’t dream. These do.”

“Only that we know of. Stay clear!”

Yet, cautiously, the young pegasus continued her approach.

“Luna?” Tia reluctantly followed her sister towards the crystalline tree. Its pattern was amazingly strong, yet there was something of flux pulsing within it, as well. That made it hard to read, which Tia trusted not.

Yet, as she got a closer look, some of her concerns were lessened. One of the few things a pony could rely on in life was that the less symmetrical a thing might seem, the more dangerous it likely was. And the tree’s six jewels, hanging like fruit, seemed almost deliberate, both in form and placement. Indeed, nothing about them seemed haphazard, though their symmetry was not a perfect one.

Each gem was a different colour, and each gave a different, silent note. Tia could hear them in her mind more clearly now, blending with the deep-felt thrummmm of the tree itself to create a chord of purest harmony.

Luna looked over one shoulder back to her sister, her eyes and smile brilliant with joy.

“They’re dreaming about us!”