• Member Since 28th Aug, 2011
  • offline last seen Last Friday

Cold in Gardez

Stories about ponies are stories about people.


This story is a sequel to Lost Cities

Once upon a time there was a high tower at the edge of the world. The ponies who lived there thought it would last forever.

It did not. Neither did the great pegasus cloud fortresses, or the earth ponies's mighty metropolises, or even Everfree, home of the Sisters and the glorious capital from which they ruled an empire. Cities, it seems, are as mortal as ponies – they are born, they live, and someday they must die.

But the world goes on. The stories never end.

Chapters (2)
Comments ( 49 )

I don't think I've ever seen i's dotted with three little dots before. Is that significant?

I'm glad to see that Lost Cities has a sequel. (Can't believe that I missed this from February.)
I really loved the book, as many who have said so before.

I did not quite finish the last chapter, The Waters of Myinnkyun's Harbor, as that chapter is based on another story, one that you encouraged the readers to read first. I wasn't sure which ones to read at the time. (Most likely going to read your chapter first)

With all of that said, I can't wait to read how this anthology of stories will play out. :twilightsmile:

The bones of their tools.

Well done.

When I posted the return of this particular phenomenon to the recommendations channel of one of the many, many Discord servers I haunt, I was apparently ambiguous in my statement, because someone asked if the return of Lost Cities in new garb was a good thing or a bad thing.

After a moment, I could only say that it was a sublime thing.



Three dots are often used by cartographers to indicate ruins on a map. It's also used in the artwork for Lost Cities.

Not really my thing, but I hope it does well!

Where are all the character tags?

Fantastic. I really enjoyed your writing in this.

You should read the story.

Dammit, I love this

The land was hungry. Two civilizations consumed leaving behind only scattered crumbs of ruins. A third would be a long time coming, but the land could wait. It had all the time in the world.

Was this the quarry next to the Dream Palace of the Highborn?

Just as delightful as the first time I read it. :twilightsmile:

"Even thousands of years after they all died, the Unicorns were still fucking things up for Earth Ponies. They would have been pleased."

Very cool bit of story telling, and a worthy successor to the original.

Although the implication (that this is thousands of years in the future of the MLP world, since the tower still stood relatively intact at the time) does irk me a bit - it seems whatever high civilization Twilight and the Princesses [1] created has long fallen, globally at that for the quarry ponies to go about their lives undisturbed for centuries.

Cities and even nations come and go, but civilization as a whole?

Ah, well. I can just assume the really advanced pony societies are off in space or something, and they're letting the planet lie fallow for a few millennia to see what crops up.

(Why am I imagining the big-footed, water-loving Ponies as Stoors? Future Cozy Glow as Sauron. Discuss.)

[1] Because Luna and Celestia of the Cities-verse didn't retire to windsurf and work at the post office only a few years after Luna came back from the Moon - that would be stupid. :twilightsmile:

Seconded, oh so very much.

They cast off all their tools, flinging them down into the depths of the pit, and went to join the orgies marking the tower’s completion

And in their depths, beneath the millions of tons of water, the bones of the unicorn’s tools found a sort of peace

Damn, those guys were jerks.

Perhaps it's only me, but this story reminds me how superstition and ignorance about how things really work can bring down a civilization. Knowledge is precious.

Much like its prequel, this is not a traditional narrative; there are no character tags because there are no characters. The people downvoting you for asking a stupid question have failed to notice that you asked it because you don't realize why it's stupid, and completely failed to explain it to you.

Another amazing story, there is something haunting about these stories where in your vivid descriptions one can almost hear the moaning of wind through ancient stones and smell the salt of the nearby ocean. Quick question: Is this as someone else suggested a distant future long after Twilight and the element bearers or merely part of the world that could be seen as a legendary lost civilization to modern ponies?

Finally I hope that some of the nymph ponies survived the cataclysm.

And in their depths, beneath the millions of tons of water, the bones of the unicorn’s tools found a sort of peace.


Engrossing stuff, especially given the far-future implications. I'm going to echo 10206705's hopes that Twilight and company managed to make something a little longer-lasting... though I suppose that would undercut the themes of the collection.

in any case, looking forward to more tales of places forgotten and not yet made.

Beautiful. :)

Though I do like to think that they found their way through the tunnels to the sea...

...Am I missing some--
Wow, yeah, definitely a felt moment of realization there...

I cannot express how excited I was to see this, and now I've read it, I can confirm my excitement was well met.

Haunting, infinitely interesting, and a joy to read


Why am I imagining the big-footed, water-loving Ponies as Stoors?

I have to say, the description of the water-ponies' ancestors as "a type of pony, or close enough for the difference not to matter" also put me strongly in mind of hobbits.

Regarding the seeming absence of civilization, I'd like to make two points:

First, strictly speaking, the absence of civilization in one place doesn't necessarily imply the absence of civilization everywhere. Perhaps whatever culture Equestria grew into went extinct, or perhaps it's still thriving somewhere -- just not around the Heartspire, specifically. There's precious little civilization, say, in the middle of the Atacama desert, but that doesn't mean that there isn't any anywhere.

Secondly, we may ask ourselves: how long would it have taken for the tower to collapse fully? And long has it thus been since the show's present? A century? A thousand years? Ten thousand? A million? Perhaps all traces of whatever Twilight built have long since faded from the world, but that's not to say they didn't last long and do much good. I sincerely doubt that much of anything of human civilization will be left a few million years from now, and certainly nothing will remain billions of years in the future, but that doesn't make whatever we build now pointless just because it will one day end.

Whether it's a storm casting a bird's nest from a branch to the hard earth or a well-meaning individual accidentally dooming his entire people, the forces of nature don't discriminate. The eventual fate of all things is the same.

I very much look forward to more, even though the continued presence of intelligent creatures this time is a bit of a cop-out, when you managed to paint equally compelling narratives without any at all.

"The eventual fate of all things is the same."

After several hundred million years of survival, I believe the cockroaches would beg to differ. :pinkiecrazy:


" There's precious little civilization, say, in the middle of the Atacama desert, but that doesn't mean that there isn't any anywhere."

Hang around the Atacama desert long enough nowadays, some jerk taking selfies will eventually show up.

"and certainly nothing will remain billions of years in the future"

I like to think some of our descendants will still be around, even if they have as little in common with us as we have with the first fish to crawl out of the water. :rainbowhuh:

Eventually, all things fade to ash. But who cares? Surely not the ash.

How did the lake ponies figure out that there were metal tools on the bottom?


Metal detectors, I assume.

But seriously, one day some pony probably just swam down there, came back with a metal tool, and that started the legend.

OK, Everfree is truly a murder forest. Now I kinda understand why Zecora would be seen as strange for living there. I can also see why no pony has tried to reclaim the place. I kinda wonder what came to the edge of the glade, and I kinda don't want to know.


I kinda wonder what came to the edge of the glade, and I kinda don't want to know.

If it was a big Ursa Major that absent-mindedly trod on the salamander egg and squished it, we could have made a joke about Smokey the Bear preventing forest fires.

You know, when you talk of plants with thoughts and agency -- of roses holding parliament, and trees seeking or disdaining magic -- I'm frankly unsure where the metaphor ends and frank description begins.

I also wonder at how leafy these timberwolves seem to be. What of the ones seen in the show, without any leafy skin of their own? A different breed, or simply sickly? Perhaps that was what drove them to seek ponies as prey.

Feh, you think the Everfree is hardcore?

You ain't never walked through the Jersey Pine Barrens!

I mean, you're still here, so CLEARLY you haven't walked through them! :pinkiecrazy:

Salamanders always annoy me in this sort of setting, because I can never tell initially whether or not the author is talking about the mythical fire lizard or the tiny, cute amphibian.


I can never tell initially whether or not the author is talking about the mythical fire lizard or the tiny, cute amphibian.


An amazing glimpse at the magical ecosystem of Equestrian wilderness!

And an important reminder that there are very good reasons why ponies are so intent on stamping out wild nature and directing things themselves. :ajbemused:

Nice story. It kind of left me wanting to hear more about them, maybe some of them survived. I just imagine myself as an explorer discovering all those little civilizations. It’s a shame all the worldbuilding went down the drain... heh... I feel terrible now.

I wonder why the manticores didn't attack so in previous years? Perhaps they just weren't as successful.

Oh, and apparently the timberwolves hadn't moved on yet after all.

Oh, was it the salamander egg that waited for decades? Interesting; even in this, then, it looks like there was much passing unseen.
But, of course there was, for that is the way of things. :)
(I do like this concept, by the way; I myself have before wondered about the little stories like this, and reflected on them.)


Like us. Romantics and neo-primitivists love to talk about the evils of civilization and how humans should go back to mommy Nature, but rarely discuss how damn scary and merciless the natural world is.

These are so satisfying to read. Relaxing and dense, I feel like I've eaten a wonderful meal.

The tower was made to house the remnants of the unicorn's most vile experiment: the quest for immortality. They patched various fragments of magical and non-magical creatures together, seeking the perfect thaumatic life pattern to create a perpetual life-spring.

Alas, they succeeded. And as the mutilated patchwork body twitched and writhed in agony as it's numerous abnormal anatomical connections attempted to assert dominance over the whole, and then shrieked out its unnatural birth cries, it unleashed a wave of entropic madness across their lands, the planet, they very solar system itself.

From that day onward, the moon and shrunken star were bound to the planet, unmoving save for when a dozen unicorns sacrificed their magic, and eventually their lives, to induce the passage of day and night. Most who knew of their abominable experiments agreed it was fit penance for such crimes against nature, magic, and the divine.

The creature itself was never seen leaving, and no record of its actual appearance ever came to light. However, some years later, the only draconequus known to exist made himself known. And he had a particular dislike for the unicorns' eventual successes: the Tree of Harmony and the Two Sisters.


10208717 They forget that Mother Nature is a psychotic bitch that routinely tries to stamp out all the life on the planet, sometimes with help from cosmic interlopers intent in intimately fornicating with her surface.

Tiny bodies, seeking the warmth of a larger partner as they float in the lonely frigid seas of space, fall under her gravitational pheromones and are drawn irresistibly toward her bloated fertile sphere. Oh how swiftly they plow into her! Ramming deep into her crust and spraying forth copious molten curtains resulting from their eternal copulation! For, as with the minuscule males of anglerfish, the Mother Earth's tiny lovers fuse with her forever.

(Insanity is a lovely thing...) :pinkiecrazy:

I'm wondering if we're going to see a chapter dedicated to Canterlot.


Finally getting around to reading this. Dang, but this was dark. First that poor filly dies horribly; then her brother, hoping only to do right by her, dies horribly; and in his death, he accidentally dooms their entire village. Why you do me like this CiG :pinkiesad2:

More srsly though, engrossing as ever. Your affinity for using words to paint the most vivid and evocative pictures remains unmatched.

And the last of the water trickled out or collected in shallow pools on the bottom of the quarry, wetting the carpet of crystals and bones and tools and bones that were the engineer’s tools, discarded all those millenia ago, exposed now for a final time to the fleeting touch of the sun.


:twilightoops: OH.

One chapter in and I'm already swept away by this lovely adventure. Your writing is impeccable, Gardez.

Goodness, I love me some mystic and feral Everfree Forest badassery. I can't help but wonder if you took inspiration from this piece, judging by the chapter title. I really hope you deliver more when you can. Lost Cities is one of my favorite stories of yours.

Nothing else remains;

'round the decay,
The lone and level sands stretch far away...

I love how alien and dark the Everfree comes across here -- like something far more alien than just a wilderness, something that was soaked through with magic until it became something far darker and more terrible than any simple wild place.

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