• Published 6th May 2019
  • 3,076 Views, 268 Comments

Walk Where There Is No Path - theOwtcast

When everything you’ve ever known goes against everything you believe in, can leaving help you live with yourself?

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I woke up in a dell between some hills, sprawled on a bed of grass under the clear blue sky. It took me a confused moment to realize what had happened. I remembered flying through a storm… losing my flower… a flash of light…

Then I noticed rippling streams of light across the sky, emerging from somewhere beyond the hills. I remembered now: whatever had happened in that storm must have involved powerful magic, and that magic must have cleared the clouds! I just wished it had been a little gentler with clearing me out! I was hurting, but not nearly as much as the last few times I’d gotten blasted this intensely; I was going to be fine.

I got up to survey my surroundings. If I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought I was much further south, maybe somewhere around Ponyville; so beautiful was the nature, so green the grass, so many flowers and butterflies… It was hard to believe that such a lovely oasis could exist in the midst of snow and cold! If I couldn’t see snow-covered mountain peaks all around the horizon, I would have suspected I’d been thrown hundreds of miles away!

I climbed one of the hills. Once at the peak, I could see more hills spread about, and beyond them, a monumental spire stood tall, its crystal form shimmering in the sunlight no longer obstructed by the storm clouds. From it, the stream of rainbow ripples shot up into the sky, dispersing in all directions at a certain altitude. I had no idea what its purpose might be, but the sight was so peaceful, so comforting, that I had no doubt it was for a good cause! I felt I could get lost in the dance of the soothing whirls and ripples!

When I finally looked down, an unexpected but welcome sight brought joy to me: my flower was there! It must have been blown off by the wind just like me! Its cocoon had split open in the process, but it was still holding on to the stem, even retaining a little bit of water that had been inside; the love once inside the flower was now gone, having poured out into a crystal road, but the flower was still alive! I let out a sigh of relief; I’d thought I’d lost it in the storm! I picked it up, wanting to convince myself that I wasn’t hallucinating, that the flower was indeed real, and as I did, the tiny cocoon opened a little further, and I noticed something else I hadn’t expected: roots had formed from the cocooned end of the stem! I hadn’t thought such a thing was possible; but then again, changelings didn’t have a habit of cocooning plants, so it was likely that such an effect had never been observed before... but if cocoons could heal changelings, would it be that hard to believe they could heal other living things as well?

This new revelation opened another possibility: rather than carrying the flower around and trying to keep it alive for one more day, I could plant it and let it grow into a bigger plant, one that could live out its normal lifespan!

I got to work immediately. The peak of this hill seemed like as good a place as any. I was pretty sure I’d be able to find it easily for as long as I stayed around. I’d never planted anything before, but I had seen a few ponies do it on my travels, and it wasn’t hard: all I had to do was dig a small hole, put the flower in it, and cover the roots with the ground I’d dug out. The ponies would often water their young plants at this point, so I spilled the remainder of the water from the cocoon near the stem, just in case this little bit of it would make a difference. Lastly, I wished it good luck in its new life.

It was now time to proceed into whatever city lay up ahead. I flew up to get past the hills more quickly, but keeping at a low altitude, near the safety of the hilltops that could conceal me if need be. Soon enough, I emerged beyond the last of the hills. A vast meadow lay ahead, with a large city in the middle, one built entirely of crystals. The spire I’d seen stood in the center, and though I couldn’t see it quite clearly from my current position, the roads seemed to spread from it in all directions. Near the edge of the city was a railroad, and a train was just leaving the station, a train very much in appearance like the one I’d secretly boarded in Ponyville. Taking a closer look at the city itself, I could just barely make out the colorful shapes of the inhabitants of this breathtaking city: shapes all too familiar, both welcome and dreaded at the same time.


Though I didn’t expect them to notice me right away, I hurried to hide behind the nearest hill. There, I assumed the form of a bird. After the recent burst of magic in the city, I didn’t want to risk being the only pony around who had no idea what had happened! Posing as an animal would let me go wherever I wanted without it being suspicious and listen in on conversations to get an idea of what was going on. As much as I disliked that approach, there were times when it was unavoidable in order to remain unexposed, and this was one such time.

In the city at last, flying over the streets, I saw the familiar shape more clearly: the main roads did indeed spread in all directions from the central spire, interconnected here and there with side-roads that, together with the larger roads, formed a snowflake-shaped network I’d seen shine through the raging storm. The streets were all made of smooth crystal just like the houses and the spire.

Where had they gotten so many crystals?

I sat on a branch of a tree to observe the ponies up close. They resembled earth ponies at first glance - so far, I couldn’t see any unicorns or pegasi in this part of the city - but upon closer inspection, I noticed some peculiar differences: their manes and tails were braided and adorned with jewels and ribbons, their coats were smooth and shiny, almost as if it were made of glass, and their eyes reflected the sunlight in a most unusual way, more like a cut diamond than an eye of a living being. Did it have anything to do with the outburst of magic I’d witnessed? It was hard to imagine such magic with no unicorns about - unless the changelings’ knowledge of pony magic was seriously flawed - but I could think of no other explanation. Indeed, where had all the magic come from?

I started to pay attention to conversations, moving from one part of the city to another in an attempt to find as many ponies talking about the relevant matters as I could. I was mostly out of luck - the ponies tended to talk about everyday things like in most other places I’d been to - but I did catch an odd reference or two about something called ’crystalling’. Was that what had happened to the ponies? They did look live living sculptures of crystal, in a way! But what was the meaning of it? Was it simply a ritual in honor of something, or did it have a practical purpose? Nopony I’d come across had said anything that would shed some light into the matter, but maybe I could figure it out eventually!

Before I’d entered the city, I was still sensing the aura of love radiating from it, still showing no signs of weakening; but now that I was inside and moving about, I was beginning to notice the finer details of the pattern of that aura. It was emanating from the ponies themselves, which was hardly surprising in any way other than the sheer strength of it. What I’d felt earlier was actually the collective aura of all the ponies here: every individual aura joined together in one powerful burning beacon of love! But the love wasn’t simply radiating from each individual pony; it was aimed somewhere, all the love in town was streaming toward that giant spire in the center!

I wouldn’t learn anything more from exploring the streets, I realized. It was time to investigate the central spire!

I flew closer to the spire’s base. I could see it clearly now: rather than a single large one, four smaller bases supported each corner of the spire, each with a door leading to the interior. All the major roads that formed the axes of the snowflake pattern converged at this point, forming a circular clearing at which the spire stood. On one side I noticed a group of pegasi guards dismounting a podium. These guards were similar to the ones in Canterlot, the only major difference being the colors of their coats and armor. I would try not to attract their attention!

Under the spire, directly in the middle, suspended between two vertical spikes, an immaculate blue crystal in the shape of a heart levitated in the air, glowing in the same soft colors as the ripples in the sky. It was channeling some of the aura of love contained in the streets below and shooting it up into the sky in the form of the rainbow ripples I’d seen earlier, but most of the love was aimed elsewhere, somewhere inside the spire itself!

Growing even more puzzled, I flew up. The heart-shaped crystal seemed like a powerful artifact, but if it was getting only a fraction of the love that existed here, what in the world could be drawing all the rest of it? Even more, whatever it was seemed to generate love as well as absorb it... or at least there was another immense source of love so close I couldn’t tell them apart!

Curiouser and curiouser. What was going on?

Soon I could see openings in the spire’s surface. I approached one and looked inside. The interior was just as majestic as the city - crystally walls and floors adorned with rugs and paintings and sculptures - and through another opening, I saw furniture and a pony cleaning the floor. Through the next one, I saw a kitchen and several ponies cooking, and through another, a few more guards being addressed by a superior officer.

This was a castle! But who was the leader that lived in it?

Exploring further, I got a glimpse of more parts of the castle: another hallway, a dining room, the throne room, more hallways, and a few bedrooms. Most were empty. I was about to give up and come back later when I finally came across an occupied bedroom. This one was a little more elaborate in decoration than the others, and two ponies were inside, standing close to each other, their backs turned to me: a white unicorn stallion and a pink alicorn. I’d never need a second look to know who they were!

For all I knew, all the love from the city could have suddenly vanished; despite my still-growing hunger, I stopped caring to notice!

The unicorn commander - uh, captain - kissed his beloved and left the room. She then reached into a basket that had been concealed from my view by the captain’s presence and took out something wrapped in a blanket. Humming blissfully, she sat on the nearby bed with it. The blanket moved and giggled, sending me into a fit of horror as the cause of such an immense outburst of love throughout the city was finally revealed to me, the explanation for such a peculiar aura fell in place, and the implications sank in.

Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, the current ruler of this city, had become a mother!