• Published 12th Aug 2019
  • 1,450 Views, 76 Comments

The Horizon Behind Us - Syke Jr

Gingersnap has never had to fear death. But to ponies from the outer realm, death is a big deal.

  • ...

Chapter 4 - Shard

I actually hadn't been planning to join Killgrad's game. I can't even decide if I want to now that Silver Star seems to be. The conversation is over and I'm idly scrolling webpages, not really reading any of the posts.

On one hoof, it would be nice to meet him in person again. I don't want to be left out when he meets my friends, especially because there are so few ponies in Newforest that I actually talk to. On the other, the fact that he's having some weird otherworlder aversion to my company will likely make it awkward if TeaMistress suddenly turns out to be, well, me.

I have two choices: join K's game, and hope Silver figures out his issue before we meet in person, or choose not to and risk missing out on a fun time with a former human. I can't pretend any more that the "former human" part hasn't got a peculiar magnetism; not when I'm still devouring books from his world.

I make a cuppa and quibble on it. Even if I don't join the game, it would be odd for me to not attend the meetups: I sit at their table, drinking tea (hence the nickname) and provide acting for NPC characters when I'm not a player, almost like a GM's assistant. And soon White Mage will get back from his trip to the Caneighdia and we'll resume the game I am a part of. Plus the others would note my absence and likely reveal my name, making Silver think I'm avoiding him. Which, I guess, I would be.


*You have a new friend request from Ganelon*

I make sure my default name for new chats is set to TeaMistress. Then I click the checkmark next to the notification.

[Ganelon]		hey 
[Ganelon]		Are you part of K's game? You didn't say.

[TeaMistress]		Actually no. I wasn't planning on it at least. Permadeath 
			games aren't my thing.
[TeaMistress]		I play in a game somepony on a trip GMs

[Ganelon]		Ah. Cool.
[Ganelon		A trip to where?

[TeaMistress]		Somewhere in Caneighda, I don't think we actually asked

[Ganelon]		Sorry for my ignorance, you'll have to indulge that about me
[Ganelon]		Is that a different country to Equestria?

[TeaMistress]		I don't think "country" means the thing you're thinking here.
[TeaMistress]		Equestria is all one nation, but there are pretty big regions 
			within it.
[TeaMistress]		We're in Braytannia
[TeaMistress]		Griffons and some other creatures have "countries" with 
			different leaders but we don't. Celeste and Selene just rule 
			all of Equestria from Canterlot
[TeaMistress]		Which is right around where this region blurs with Amarecca

[Ganelon]		No that makes sense.
[Ganelon]		What other cities are there in Braytannia

[TeaMistress]		There's Trottingham and Manechester close to here, way north 
			is Glaswhinnie and Edinbray, down south there's Canterbridge 
			and Canterbury, Cambraya, and Braystol. Canterlot isn't really
			considered part of the region but it's closer to here than 
			Edinbray, for example. There are tons of small towns, smaller 
			than this one, like everywhere
[TeaMistress]		Some ponies consider the northern cities and towns to be
			their own region, Shetland, since it didn't unify with 
			Equestria for a few hundred years. Same goes for Cambraya and 
			its wet little mountain range. But these days nopony really 
			makes those distinctions.

[Ganelon]		huh
[Ganelon]		What's the biggest city?

[TeaMistress]		Trottingham by a long long way

[Ganelon]		Got it. Tha'ts... really really interesting actually

[TeaMistress]		Is it really?
[TeaMistress]		Why?

He takes a while to answer. I see him start and stop typing five or so times.

[Ganelon]		Are you aware that to an immigrant it sounds like all the 
			cities here are just puns based on cities in the outer realm?

[TeaMistress]		I think I did know that, yeah. Why?

[Ganelon]		Just wondered. It kind of makes this whole world seem a 
[Ganelon]		less real.
[Ganelon]		I imagine that's really offensive, sorry
[Ganelon]		forget I said it

[TeaMistress]		No, I... kind of get it
[TeaMistress]		I mean your world came first from your perspective, right?
[TeaMistress]		It's probably hard to forget that when you've lived there 
			your whole life.
[TeaMistress]		But from what I know, our history goes back way further than 
			yours does, so from another point of view our cities were 
			founded first ;)

[Ganelon]		I totally get that, it's why I shouldn't have said it
[Ganelon]		Your world is obviously very real lol

[TeaMistress]		It's your world too now

[Ganelon]		Right.
[Ganelon]		How far back does your history go anyway?
[Ganelon]		..our history

[TeaMistress]		I just realised I forgot Neighcastle. It's north of here also

[Ganelon]		LOL
[Ganelon]		holy buck
[Ganelon]		wow even typing my words come out different
[Ganelon]		do you say "fuck" here?

[TeaMistress]		Course we do. Just not unless we want to get a reaction lol

[Ganelon]		I see
[Ganelon]		for the record, ponies in the outer realm try to forget
			Newcastle exists whenever they can as well

[TeaMistress]		lol
[TeaMistress]		To answer your question, Equestria has existed for 
			thousands of years
[TeaMistress]		at least 13,000 I think; that's when writing was invented as 
			we know it
[TeaMistress]		It was unified by Celeste and Selene like 8200 years ago ish
[TeaMistress]		It's the year 7018 in our calendar

[Ganelon]		Yeah Celestia told me a little about them
[Ganelon]		I was surprised that Celestia and Luna weren't ruling the 
[Ganelon]		nation

[TeaMistress]		What, the ruler of all creation and her sister, the one who
			created the world in the first place?
[TeaMistress]		Yeah, no, lol

[Ganelon]		Well yeah it made sense as soon as I heard it
[Ganelon]		Arguably it's not Luna who created it in the first place, 

[TeaMistress]		You mean Cascade Quill? The one who made the cartoon? Yeah, 
			she's important too. But just because Luna had inspiration 
			doesn't mean she's not the one we have to thank for our 

[Ganelon]		I can see that

Some time passes. It's a little late, now, so I figure it's time to eat something. I head to my kitchen, stretching, and spend a few minutes thinking about our conversation as I microwave some soup and butter some bread. It seems odd that he didn't know anything about our shard except what Princess Celestia told him herself. Especially after being here for two weeks. I wonder what it would be like to move to another shard, one with a very different history and social structure. I'd probably feel a little lost too. But I'd also learn all I could before really interacting with anypony. Maybe I've overestimated how much Silver was socialising until now.

I return to my desk with my meal, and see more messages.

[Ganelon]		The reason I asked about cities is because in the outer realm, 
			Trottingham is pretty small
[Ganelon]		well, Nottingham as it's called
[Ganelon]		the capital city of Britain in the outer realm is London, and  
			it's enormous compared to everywhere else in the country.
[Ganelon]		It's really a bunch of towns, or cities even, all combined by
			urban expansion

[TeaMistress]		Trottingham is sort of like that, too. The part that's the 
			"original" Trottingham is pretty small. It just swallowed up 
			all the towns around it. Sometimes ponies call the whole area 
			"Greater Trotton" but it's not all that common

[Ganelon]		Got it. Bucking hell I see why Celestia sent us here. My 
			brother only ever wanted to live in Nottingham or London. So 
			now he doesn't even have to choose. lol

[TeaMistress]		Can I ask why you didn't know any of this? Haven't you been 
			here a little while already?

[Ganelon]		I only got my computer yesterday. I was planning to just look
			all this up online but
[Ganelon]		I dunno
[Ganelon]		Just felt like talking was more in the spirit of things

Another weird thing to say. But I realise that part of him must still feel like Equestria, or this shard at least, was created for him and other immigrants. From a certain point of view, there might even be a little truth to it, though it's not something I nor anypony I know suffer any nihilism over. At least it's not like the outer realm, where ponies are so desperate for existence to have meaning that they invent gods and make themselves miserable over the possibility that they'll die and not reach an "afterlife".

Though, again, they created Celestia, who really does have eternal life to offer... Silver must feel like he's being ungrateful if he doesn't interact with ponies now that he's here.

[Ganelon]		honestly the thing that shocks me more than anything is how
			Celestia lets you guys know everything you like about the
			outer realm. I don't know if you know but some shards aren't
			like that at all. Most shards, even.

[TeaMistress]		It must not satisfy those ponies' values. Or the ones of the 
			otherworlders who end up there.

I think about this a little. If what he says is true, Silver Star must really care about human history, deep down, to be in my shard. I wonder how many ponies are actually taking advantage of the library's human section.

Not for the first time, I wonder why Celestia singled me out about it. Does she think I'm Silver's best chance at a lasting friendship? Or did Silver have nothing to do with it? She was right about how much I'm enjoying them, after all—how could she not be?

[Ganelon]		lol yeah I guess

[TeaMistress]		and we don't have any knowledge about anything after 
			Celestia's creation. I guess that's where she draws the line

[Ganelon]		That... makes sense, really. The world's ending out there, 
			Tea. I don't know if you know it.

I feel a little chill reading those words. I haven't really thought about what Celestia's advent is doing to the outer realm. I feel a little guilty, and wonder what the end of the world means in a place where death is the final word. Probably nothing good. I can't think of a response, so I decide to end the conversation there.

[TeaMistress]		Soup is cooling off. Gonna eat and watch vids for a while. 
[TeaMistress]		Nice talking

[Ganelon]		Alright, peace

***you are now set to AFK

I stretch my wings once more and take a bite of soup-soaked bread. I think about the outer realm, and how little I actually know about what it's like to have to live there, and even less about what it's like to worry about dying there. I wonder how much I'll learn from Silver Star that the books I've been reading haven't taught me.

For now, I'm satisfied that he's talking to me, even if he doesn't know who I am.