• Published 6th Jun 2020
  • 527 Views, 27 Comments

The First Taste of Sea - Silent Whisper



It was dark. Somewhere, beyond the cave, beyond her cage, it was raining. And the tide was coming in.

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Salt, Brine, and Old Magic

It was dark, so dark that my eyes strained to see my own hooves. Somewhere, beyond the salt-crusted walls, it was raining. And, slowly, the tide was coming in.

These three things I knew. Three things I couldn’t change no matter how much I wanted to, no matter how much I screamed and rammed against the bars of my cage. Not that I’d spent a lot of time attempting to escape my prison. I’d made a sort of peace with my fate a long time ago. I was the last, though I deserved to be first.

The other two had fought much more than I had. Then again, they had more to lose, and I only had myself.

How long had I been here, where the soft lapping of the sea echoed against the algae-slicked stone? Long enough, it seemed, to be able to tell when something had changed. A distant clip-clop of hooves against damp ground reached my ears. It made me wince as they grew louder. Shit. What more could they take? I braced myself against the rusted bars, screwing my face into what I’d hoped was a brave scowl.

And then there was light. The silhouette of a little pony - barely a filly - made its way towards me. Her hoofsteps softly echoed through the cave. Did she know who I was, or what I’d done? I squinted at her face, head ringing with the whisper of pain. Most definitely not, because I saw curiosity in those wide eyes.

She took in the salt crystals on the ceiling, reflecting the light rippling off her horn. Her wings, snow-white, pressed against her sides, the feathers shedding water like a swan. She stared at my cage, chained to the cave floor, then her gaze slid to me inside. Her thin lips pressed together as the tang of the cage's old magic made her mouth taste of copper, as it did mine. I could see the thoughts racing through her mind, a million at a time, yet her expression didn’t change.

Fillies, I thought, really shouldn’t have that kind of cold intelligence in their eyes.

“What did you do?” she asked, when the silence stretched almost too long to bear. She brought with her a warm breeze, a taste of soil and growing things. I wanted to reach out and touch her, but I stayed my hoof. I could see it in the way she stood: alert, but not tense. There was nothing she could do, but she was still deciding if she wished there were.

I cleared my throat, which still stung from a few days ago. I’d screamed when they’d taken my sisters, one after the next, but when they came for me I’d fallen silent. “What anyone else would have done,” I whispered, voice gruff.

The filly frowned, her eyes searching me, pink as the sunset. “That doesn’t answer my question.”

It was a struggle not to laugh at the solemn expression from someone so small and pure, but I bit it back. “They, er, took something from my sister, the youngest one. Something that wasn’t theirs to take, and something she’d never get back.” Her eyes widened slightly. She was either older than she appeared, then, or she’d had a rougher upbringing, to know such things so early. “So I took far more from them, to ensure they wouldn’t be able to do it again, to anyone.”

She ruffled her wings, the only sign that she was agitated at my words, spraying the walls with tiny droplets. “And they abandoned you in a cage for that?”

I rested my forehead against the cool bars. “They locked up my sisters first, one at a time. What better way to punish me than to make me watch those I love more than anything suffer the fate I deserved?”

The glow of the filly’s horn intensified for a moment, her lips moving along to some silent incantation. A puzzled frown was my only hint that whatever spell she was trying to cast wasn’t working. Her horn grew brighter still, and I had to look away. Spots danced in my eyes, phantom ghosts of her magic’s light.

She wasn’t from anywhere around here, then. A pony with her skills would’ve been indoctrinated into their way of thinking and then used for the mana running through their veins and horn, filly or not. I cleared my throat, tasting the sting of brine against my lips, and watched as the light dimmed to something I could look towards. “My village isn’t a forgiving place, filly, and what you do to others is done to you tenfold.”

She stepped forward, eyes widening in… I couldn’t tell. The horror that came with understanding was my best guess. “To what end?” Her voice trembled in a rage I’d only heard in grieving mothers. “How long will they keep hurting innocent ponies like this?”

She knew the answer. I said it anyway. “Until one side doesn’t walk away.” I could see tears brewing in the corners of her eyes.They seemed at odds with the strange authority she carried with her, but I still wished I could wipe them away.

I shrugged, wincing at the pain lacing up my shoulders. “And I’m not innocent.” They’d made sure of that, though I’d hurt them enough to make that rather difficult.

Taking a step back, which was about as far as the cage would let me move, I lowered myself into a cramped seated position. A few rocks poked into my hind legs, but I let them be. The pain was proof that I was still alive. I watched as her expression fell, then as she attempted to look strong. Whether she was faking it for my sake or her own, I couldn’t tell.

“I can’t get you out,” she breathed, ears flattened against her skull. Of course she couldn't; the cage's magic was ancient, older than anyone could remember. The light on her horn dimmed slightly, but didn’t flicker out. “I can try to talk to them, but-”

“By the time you get there, it won’t matter.” I gave her a weary smile, the best I could manage. Somehow, I doubted it was very reassuring. “The cage is enchanted, but it’ll only open when I’m far past saving.”

“But-”

“I’m not walking out of here. Go back up. Try to change something if you want.” It wouldn’t help; they wouldn’t want to change if it inconvenienced them, and true change would always be an inconvenience.

I hoped they wouldn’t do something horrible to her, too, but I wasn’t about to dissuade her from trying. Something about her made me feel like she could. Maybe it was just the way she carried herself, but a part of me hoped she’d actually make some sort of difference. “If you’re going to get back safely, you’re going to want to leave, and soon.”

For it was dark, too dark for a filly to be down here so late.

She bit her lip and backed away, hooves slipping against the moist cave’s rocks. Her gaze fell downward, and for the first time she seemed to notice the water running down the other side of the cave floor. “I will. I’m- I’m sorry.”

I brushed some of my matted mane out of my face. “Nothing to apologize for. This isn’t your fault. None of it.” Her mouth wobbled as she tried to collect herself. I watched the water flow into the cave, towards me. Towards us. “You need to go, alright? It’s too late for me, but not for anyone else up there.”

“Can I at least have your name? I’ll-” she brushed back whatever tears she was going to shed as she steeled herself for the chill of icy water awaiting her. “I’ll remember you. I promise.”

For it was raining, and we both could hear it in the distance. Cold, damp, and heartless. Just like my village.

I nodded as her horn brightened to light her way out. The walk was treacherous in the light of the sun; I didn’t know how she’d managed to brave the jagged cliffs to get to me. “It’s Adagio. Adagio Dazzle.” She mouthed my name, nodded, and turned to begin her swift, slippery walk towards the sea. “Stay safe out there,” I added, so softly I wasn’t sure if she heard me. But then her ear flicked back and she hesitated.

The alicorn filly looked back and fixed me with an unreadable stare, teary and helpless and full of an ancient fury I couldn’t describe. It brought the ghost of a smile to my face and a strange certainty to my heart. I knew, somehow, that she’d be the one to fix things. Not for me, but for those in my village still worth redemption.

The light she brought with her dimmed, until I could see its reflected glint no more. I was left alone, again, and I felt like something was missing with her small presence gone. A selfish part of me wanted her back, so I could say something more, but I had no clue what I would’ve told her. She’s better off out there, I told myself, listening to the water lap at unforgiving stone.

I lowered myself to the cavern floor as the wind howled in the distance. No sense wasting energy fighting the rising water. I couldn’t see it, but I knew it was coming. I’d be brave, though. For the alicorn filly. Even though it was dark, and it was raining, and I was alone. At least somepony would miss me, and that mattered. My aching limbs shivered at the touch of the first trickle of seawater as it rose to greet me, as gentle as Sonata’s lover should have been.

For the tide was coming in, and when it went out again, it’d take me along with it.

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Comments ( 27 )

It was a great contest, and this was a great entry! Great writing!

“They, er, took something from my sister, the youngest one. Something that wasn’t theirs to take, and something she’d never get back.”

Oh no.

“So I took far more from them, to ensure they wouldn’t be able to do it again, to anyone.”

Despite the ultimate outcome our main character faces for this, I still found it satisfying. Even if it was only for a moment.

I guessed correctly who our main character was when she mentioned sisters, but it didn't cheapen the story for me at all. I love the way the end calls back to the beginning. This is a really good story, Silent.

It's a good story, Whisper. But you're fired for hitting me in the feels.

Well, Whisper knows how to kick you solidly in the emotions.

-Chessie

Reese #5 · June 6th · · ·

Hm, an interesting story, aye; thanks for writing.

10272528
I sure do!

10272398
Thanks! It was a pretty fun contest. :twilightsmile:

10272440
Thanks, wish. Your feedback always makes me smile!

10272487
I tend to do that, on occasion. Strange, I'm usually the one firing everyone else for this...

10272689
Thank you for reading, and for leaving a comment!

Reese #7 · June 6th · · ·

10272712
Heh, quite a bit easier than your side of things, but you're welcome. :)

Seer #8 · June 6th · · ·

Wow Silent, this is some seriously remarkable stuff.
The bleak, wet darkness is so well conveyed. I love how you subtly you tell the backstory. Nothing more is said than needs to be, to imply awful, awful things and do it so poetically... it's breathtaking honestly.
My aching limbs shivered at the touch of the first trickle of seawater as it rose to greet me, as gentle as Sonata’s lover should have been.
This line is exemplary of this in particular.
You should be seriously proud of this, its a stunning piece of work

Really enjoyed reading. It's bleak, dark, but oddly enough there is a strong current of hope too.

"A society grows great when we plant trees whose shade we know we shall never sit in."

Thanks for writing :twilightsmile:

Damn. Damn this is good. The atmosphere is powerful here.

The atmosphere of this story is very chilling though I wonder which alicorn was that. Celestias? Luna?

10368731
You were correct the first time, it's Celestia.

Although I’m a little confused this still hit me hard.

10402795
Do you need anything explained? I don't mind! I know sometimes I can be a bit too subtle (it's a struggle every writer has, and I can't expect everyone to read my mind!)

She said her name is adagio right? Is this the same adagio from rainbow rocks?

10412064
It sure is! This of this as a sort of origin story

10412066
So, how did they become sirens?

10412911
Presumably through this process, if you don't want to take the ending as her actually dying; you could make the argument that she transformed, instead. I left it open-ended. Or you can take the entire thing as an AU.

10413221
What about her sisters?

10413260
Did you read the story? They went through the same thing.

10413263
I did read the story I just thought their dead bodies were in the cage with her.

10413309
That's... not what I intended, but I like the creepiness of that mental image, thank you!

10413553
Your welcome, and sorry about putting that image in your head.

10413599
Hey, I don't mind! I didn't even think about that, it's a different but still creepy point of view about the story!

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