• Published 18th Dec 2011
  • 4,171 Views, 72 Comments

A Tale of Two Ponies - Silicas

Luna is pregnant with a colt sired when she was still Nightmare Moon. What will come of this?

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Chapter 10: Hardly Elementary

Chapter 10: Hardly Elementary

Twilight Sparkle paced about her loft. Her hoofsteps were light, purposely restrained to avoid waking Spike.

The purple mare looked out the small window to her side. From the position of the moon, she could tell that it was several hours past midnight. A quick glance at the hourglass beside the windowsill confirmed her observation.

Downstairs, echoing from the door to the library’s basement, she could just barely hear the muffled sounds of worried hoofsteps. Cobalt was sleepless as well.

She could only guess at what was keeping him awake.

Twilight shook her head. No. She did not need to guess; she knew. It was Luna.

The mare drew in a breath to chuckle, but halted herself at the thought of Spike. In a way, it was Luna that now kept her awake too.

Twilight looked out the window again, this time seating herself in front of it instead of just standing. She let the breath she held escape as a quiet sigh.

Cobalt had told his story to her over a month ago, but it had only begun to sink to the mare’s mind in after the stallion had moved into the basement. There was one thing he had not said, though, as he detailed his past to her. The stallion had not answered the one question that Twilight did not have the courage to ask. She repeated it to herself, letting the words form silently on her lips.

Do you still love Luna?

It was a simple question, but before the mare could find the words to pose it, she had known the answer. She could see it in Cobalt’s eyes as he talked about her.

He did not know.

Twilight thought of Luna. The small, fragile alicorn that persisted after the defeat of Nightmare Moon was hardly at fault for Cobalt’s current state, but Twilight still blamed her. She wanted Cobalt to be at peace, and Luna was the one keeping him from it.

That was why she had given him the basement room and the job as the librarian. She just wanted him to not have to worry, to be able to start again free of the concerns of his past life.

That was what she told herself, at least.

The unicorn looked out the window again, focusing directly on the silver orb that hung amid the countless stars. Twilight blinked, but her eyelids refused to reopen. Her head nodded, almost touching the wooden floor before she caught herself.

Downstairs, the sound of pacing hoofsteps had ceased.

It was late; she needed to sleep now. Fluttershy and Starshade were to stop by later that morning to pick up schoolbooks, and she wanted to be awake to see the colt off on his first day of school.

Starshade shifted under the weight of his saddlebags as he followed Fluttershy through the streets of Ponyville. In his rush to prepare for school, he had improperly fastened the satchels to his back. A metal buckle was chafing against the base of his left wing, causing him some minor discomfort. But the colt was not about to stop to refasten the straps; he did not want to be late.

Fluttershy trotted slowly behind the eager colt, always four or five steps from being alongside him. Starshade kept glancing back, silently urging the mare to quicken her pace.

“Starshade,” she called as foal started cantering ahead more quickly.

Through the general bustle along the wide street, the colt barely heard her. Glancing back and slowing to a trot to allow the mare to catch up, he asked, “Yes?”

“Did you forget already? We need to stop by the library first.” The mare gestured down a side street as she added, “We still have a couple books to pick up.”

“Oh. Right,” Starshade said, his ears flat against the side of his head.

The saddlebags were already quite heavy with the books and supplies that Fluttershy had already purchased for him. Did he really need any more books?

“Don’t worry,” Fluttershy preempted. “We’ll still be on time. I woke you up an hour early just in case.”

“Mm.” The colt nodded and asked, “What are these books for, again?”

“They’re for astronomy.”

“Uh,” he whined, “astronomy?”

“Luna had me ask Cheerilee if you could take the class early, and she agreed. The princess really thought you would enjoy it.”

“Oh,” said Starshade. He looked at the ground.

“But you don’t have to go if you don’t want. We could always just tell Cheerilee–”

“Oh. No. I didn’t mean it like that. If Miss Luna thinks I’ll enjoy then it I’m sure I will. Really.” The colt nodded to reinforce his point. The princess always knew what he liked, even better than Fluttershy.

“Okay. But if you’re not sure I know Cheerilee won’t mind. Foals your age don’t usually learn astronomy until next year.”

“I want to learn it,” Starshade insisted. “It’s her sky.”

“Alright,” Fluttershy said. “The Books and Branches library is just this way, off Stirrup Street. Hey, we might see Twilight again! She loves astronomy, you know.”

“Really?” the colt asked. He liked Twilight Sparkle; she was smart.

“She has two telescopes.”

“One for each eye?”

Fluttershy looked to her side. The colt was sporting a playful grin, eyebrows raised in anticipation.

“Not quite.”

Fluttershy looked forward again, not wanting to see Starshade’s face. His attempts to joke with her were rare; he had learned long ago that the majority fell flat to her.

She tried to laugh. A few quiet squeaks escaped her mouth, but not much more.

Maybe he had looked to the side and smiled at her effort, maybe he had not. All she knew that Starshade was quiet until they reached the library; the only sound she heard, aside from the quiet clops of his hooves, came from the ruffling of his wings against the saddlebags.

The mare pushed open the library’s wooden door. A sole stallion was ground floor’s only occupant. Though his face was obscured by the cover of a thick book, she recognized him as Cobalt Rooks.

At the sound of hoofsteps on the library’s floor, the stallion looked up. Carefully sliding a bookmark between the pages of the book and closing it, he levitated the volume onto the small table beside him. “Ah. Miss Fluttershy. Is there anything I can do for you this morning?”

“I’m so sorry about the cottage.” She blurted it out; it was the first thought that came to her mind.

She blushed instantaneously.

“Oh, that?” he answered, “Don’t worry; Twilight’s letting me live in the basement, now.” Tapping the floor with his hoof, he added, “It keeps me close to my job.”

“You… uh… work here, now?”


“Oh. Um... In that case, Twilight’s supposed to have some astronomy books for Starshade here.”

The mare stepped aside to reveal the little pegasus. He was still outside the library, his haunches resting on the surface of the street. His head had been turned to the side, where he was nibbling at the base of his left wing, but at the mention of his name he had looked up.

Tantalus made eye contact, taking in the gaze of the inquisitive green irises. The pegasus colt blinked.

Drawing breath through a lopsided grin, the foal exclaimed, “Hey Cobalt! I didn’t know you worked at the library.”

Tantalus blinked. The anxiety, where was it?

“I’ve not been here too long. I started last week – on the day you arrived, actually.” Tantalus motioned the pegasus into the library as he continued. “Now, why don’t you come inside and we can get you those books? They came in just last night; we had to order a set all the way from Canterlot. Twilight was surprised, though. She said that they don’t normally fill orders that fast. And Ditzy Doo – you know her? She’s the mailmare. Anyways, she delivered them herself, which I guess is irregular. So it seems you’re pretty lucky they’re in now.”

Three books assembled themselves into a stack beside the colt, arranged by Tantalus’ gray-blue magic. The set before him was different from the brand new schoolbooks that he already carried; these books looked worn, well loved.

Starshade glanced at the title of the book on the top. The Stars and Their Motions: A Catalog of Constellation Cycles

It did not sound very entertaining. Not in the slightest. But he trusted Luna.

“Thanks,” said the small pegasus. The word came out more dejectedly than he intended.

“Not one for astronomy, eh?” said Tantalus.

“I don’t really know.”

“It wasn’t my favorite subject either,” the stallion admitted, “but it gets better as you go along. There’re only so many names and patterns you can memorize before you start wondering why the stars look and move the way they do. That’s cosmology. Astronomy traditionally segues right into it.”

The stallion lifted the pile of books, extracting the one situated on the bottom and placing it on the top before letting the stack return to rest.

Starshade eyed the title. Modern Cosmology.

“And by the looks of it,” continued Tantalus, “I’d say that’s exactly where you’re headed.”

His curiously slightly engaged, the colt asked, “What exactly is ‘cosmology’?”

“It’s the science that tries to explain how the stars and planets got there, and what they’re going to do.”

“Ah,” the pegasus said, “That sounds much more interesting.”

“I’m glad you think so. It’s a fascinating field; there’s been so much progress in the last millennium.” Removing his gaze from Starshade, the stallion faced Fluttershy. “Now, is there anything else you need this morning?”

Starshade eyed the yellow mare as she shook her head wordlessly. Fluttershy looked particularly nervous; her ears were folded and her back was arched, causing her mane to drag against the ground as she shied away. Her eyes flicked back and forth in their sockets, never straying on Tantalus for but a moment.

With a look of some confusion the unicorn said, “Alright then.” Tantalus used his magic to flip open one of Starshade’s saddlebags and slid the worn schoolbooks inside as he spoke. “I hope you’ll enjoy your first day at school.”

“I will,” Starshade assured. The small pegasus pony rose to his hooves, momentarily battling the newfound weight on his back. Turning to his silent caretaker, he urged, “Let’s get going, Miss Fluttershy. I don’t want to be late.”

Gathering herself, the mare followed Starshade out the library door. Before she exited, however, a short farewell formed noiselessly on her lips.

Goodbye, Cobalt.

Twilight Sparkle bounded down the staircase from her loft.

Argh. I hope Starshade and Fluttershy haven’t come yet. Why did I have to stay up so late? It’s not like I couldn’t have worried about Cobalt in the morning.

The mare jumped the last several steps and landed on the library’s ground floor with a loud clop.

“Late for something?” asked Tantalus from behind a thick book.

“I just wanted to see Starshade off on his first day of school. Has Fluttershy stopped by yet?”

“Yah. About an hour ago,” answered the stallion, “School’s probably started already.”

“I guess I won’t be able to catch up with them, then. Did they get the astronomy and cosmology books alright?”

“Yes,” Tantalus said, flipping a page. “I’m surprised that they were so worn, though. I just noticed that this morning because of the light.”

“Really? That’s strange. I wonder why they wouldn’t send new copies. The Canterlot Library usually keeps schoolbooks like that in stock.”

“Well, if there’s any problem, I’m sure Starshade will manage for at least one day. He’ll be able to return them.”

“You’re right. It shouldn’t be a problem.”

The mare advanced towards Tantalus from her position by the stairwell. From on top of one of the bookshelves beside the stallion, she levitated a small brown box.

Tantalus looked up from the book he was reading and into Twilight’s violet eyes. The mare was grinning.

“So,” she started, “since I have nothing to do this morning, now, would you be interested in a game or two of chess?”

The stallion set the book he was reading down beside him, laying the volume binding-up to ensure that his place was saved.

Twilight shrieked, levitating the book into the air in a flash and inserting a bookmark between the pages before setting it back down on its side.

Tantalus blinked and Twilight blushed.

After a moment, the stallion slowly said, “I, uh, most certainly would be interested in some chess.”

“Okay, class!” Cheerilee addressed her students between an unnaturally wide grin, “I trust you all remembered to bring your Catalog of Constellation Cycles, correct?”

Several students nodded, among them Sweetie Belle, Applebloom, Silver Spoon, and Diamond Tiara. Twist had also appended an enthusiastic shout to the end of her nods.

The filly beside Starshade, however, had not nodded. The orange pegasus was looking at the floor dejectedly, avoiding eye contact with the magenta mare at the head of the classroom at all costs.

“Is everything alright, Scootaloo?” Starshade whispered.

The orange filly responded between gritted teeth. “She’s going to kill me if she finds out I forgot the book again.”

“Is everything alright, blank-flank?” Silver Spoon whispered from in front of Scootaloo, barely even turning to make herself heard. “You’re going to miss your precious recess again if you forgot your Catalog. Oh. Won’t that be just a shame? Stuck inside here with nothing fun to do and none of your blank-flank friends to gabble with.”

Starshade acted instantaneously. Selecting the volume from the saddlebags beneath his desk, the pegasus pushed his worn copy of the book in Scootaloo’s direction.

The filly looked back at Starshade, quite confused. “But won’t you…?”

“Don’t worry. It only arrived last night.”

Starshade did not want his first day of learning with Miss Cheerilee to harbor deceit, but it was hardly a wrongdoing that would bother him. He wanted to speak with Scootaloo at recess more than he was interested in astronomy.

“I can just say I haven’t gotten it yet.”

Silver Spoon humphed before turning back towards the front of the classroom. She was mumbling under her breath, but Starshade could not decipher the words.

Scootaloo smiled as she lifted the book onto her desk. “Thank y–”

“Alright,” Cheerilee interrupted, “Would everypony please turn to page 86?”

A chorus of flipping pages filled the room. Starshade sat quietly as the colts and fillies found the page, one of his hooves raised to draw Cheerilee’s attention.

“Yes, Starshade?” the teacher said.

“My copy hasn’t been delivered from Canterlot yet,” the colt said flatly.

“Oh yes. I suppose you can share with Scootaloo for the time being. It’s a miracle that she remembered to bring hers anyways; I could’ve sworn I saw her leave it on a table back at home. Just scoot your desk next to her and we can get started.”

Starshade eagerly complied. As he pushed the desk across the floor, a grating noise filled the small learning space. Though the sound was short-lived, all the eyes in the room were trained on the colt as he took his place beside Scootaloo.

The filly, in fact, was the only pony in the room not looking at Starshade. Instead, her attention was focused entirely on the open volume before her. She was not blinking.

“Starshade,” Scootaloo asked in a voice just above a whisper, “did you write all this?”


The colt pulled the book closer to him and read the page. Small snatches of hoofwritten text were sprinkled in the book’s margins, beside pictures, and even between printed lines. At the bottom of the page, a small sketch was accompanied by figures that were mostly incomprehensible to Starshade. The colt, however, could pick out some familiar mathematical signs from the blocks of symbols.

“No. I didn’t,” he said, shaking his head.

Saving the place with his left hoof, Starshade flipped the book to the inside cover. There, in the same hoofwriting as the calculative scribbles, was a message.

My Dearest Starshade,

When I heard of the request for a copy of this particular book, I couldn’t help but feel that you might make better use of this volume than I. While some of the notes might be a bit beyond your ability to understand, I’m sure you’ll find the remainder quite enlightening and helpful.

~ Princess Luna

Scootaloo stared at the message. “You weren’t foaling when you said Luna was looking out for you, huh?”

“I guess not.”

“What about those scribbles? They looked like some kind of math. Can you read them?”

Starshade flipped back to page 86 and stared at the equations, racking his brain for any memories of the symbols before him.

“Only bits and pieces. I can’t make any sense of most of them. What about the other notes, do they make any sense to you?”

Scootaloo examined the text closely, squinting. “Yah. I remember Cheerilee talking about some of these things.”

The filly placed her hoof beside one of the notes. “You see that? Luna seems to think that star four is actually a galaxy. I think all the math below is related to that, somehow.”

As she spoke, Scootaloo’s hoof traced the thin arrow that led from the note to a collection of equations beside the sketch.

“Interesting,” Starshade whispered, “Fluttershy never mentioned much about galaxies.”

“Oh? Cheerilee just goes on and on about them. She says they’re just about the most beautiful things in the cosmos. I’ve never really understood how they work, though.”

Cheerilee’s stern voice cut into their conversation. “Is everything alright, Scootaloo?”

“Yes, Miss Cheerilee,” Starshade interjected, “She was just explaining galaxies to me.”

“Very well, then. But could you please keep your attention on the lecture? If you need some help catching up, Starshade, you can always just speak to me after class.”

“Of course. I’m sorry.”

As soon as Cheerilee had started speaking again, Silver Spoon, without turning around, whispered, “You’re off to a rocky start, orphan. Miss Cheerilee just hates liars, you know.”

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