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Cloud Ring


In the wonderful land of another Equestria, there was the night. Night eternal — but not because Nightmare won. Ponies live, love and create beautiful things and intricate spells under the appreciative light of Triangle of Moons.

Three Heralds of the Moons — ponies that have chosen for themselves to become living channellers of Moons' aspects — will hear out an offer of a Moon and form a group, hoping to fix one issue rooted in the ancient past.

Offers of this Moon are never without a complication; never as simple as they might sound.

This one is no exception.

Proofread by Koekelbag, thanks!

Cover art is made by pfeffaroo; cutie marks are made by Nuclear Tail

Additional tag: Dark. I do not feel it as Dark, and it is most definitely not Grimdark, but your mileage may vary, and themes mentioned more or less in passing include death and afterlife, for example.

You may also want to check Chapter 0 in case of being... out of touch with the text as it is. Plus some spoilers, and some clarity too.

Now has a TVTropes page. Feel free to add to it.

Chapters (74)
Comments ( 108 )

Nice start, can't wait to see more of it!

Intriguing start. Want more : )

Interesting so far.

So far so good. Interesting to see another glimpse of that world from another perspective.

Hmm, so that explains just what the Blue and White Moon are...

Who (or what) would the Black Moon be then? Curious...

Minor thing, but I'll still ask, just in case: does the text need reference table of time units?

From shortest to longest:

luster, and

I hope these are deducible from the context!

Here's the thing why comments and questions are essential. I really thought it's most obvious thing (but author always assumes so), and never thought that it needs to be clarified — but you are the third person who asked me about it!

So, there will be a hint or two in the next few chapters.


We will stay with Gentle Touch for a couple of chapters.

Minor retcon/expanding on the doubles cutie marks in the chapter 2, to stay in accord with upcoming chapter 7.

Sorry about that. I understand this can be frustrating.

Also you can find Gentle Touch's cutie mark at the start of chapter 4 now.

Soooooo, time for wild guesses.

Three moons you say. And not because Nightmare Moon won... So it's either past, future, or just AU. In my headcanon Celestia's Sun is already some glorified artificial satellite light-bulb, dim the light, and hey, it's a moon : ) Sooo, if it's mandatory here to have celestial body per alicorn (are local Princesses are alicorns actually?) then they have some new princess and decided to make a new one. Or they're appearing at the same time.

But, giant Metropolis, strange capitalized Forest... Interesting.

They are alicorns, and each of them has an correlating Moon too; ponies of Metropolis do almost no verbal distinction between stellar body and the alicorn in naming. But, as a somewhat vulgar, low-style vocabulary, nicknames — mostly in faraway sectors or by Heralds of that exact Moon (not of an other one, that would be an insult) can be used too; they can be named as

'Electra' (Black Moon), 'Desire' (Blue Moon) and 'Flame' (White Moon).

Said nicknames are restricted for alicorns specifically, and used for Moons only rarely and only as possessive. Electra's eye, for example. Or Desire's heart. Or Flame's burn.

Past, future or just AU? Good question, actually.
Time is relative, you know. In the most literal sense in this story.
Even if I really would like to reply definitely (which I do not, not for this question), I would not be able to, without long and windy exposition of what exactly and how exactly (and when exactly, for that matter) happened there in a different way.
I would recommend to look for 'how the world feels overall', rather than objective truth.
There IS this precise truth and correct reply for the question, don't worry. But it's too early for it to be revealed :)

For now, I say that it does not even matter much.

But anyway, good question!

And every paragraph starts some new question and hints at a dozen answers.

*clicks to the next chapter*

Hey, look, an actual answers! : )

Not for the questions I'd like to ask, but still : )

Well, as for my actual questions...

Firstly, what's the deal with S-sectors? Looks like they either block magic or interfere with ponies' special talents, and I dunno what's worse.

Secondly, is mentioned Forest is actually the Everfree? Or some alternate evolution of it? And how is it connected with afterlife, which it seems now...

And I'm now really intrigued by all that mirror doubles stuff. Prior I thought that they were limited one per pony, but now we saw multiple ones... So they're not some simple visitors from some alternate reality, but a local quirk of nature, expected and with instructions on how to deal with them.

Did Alicorns of classic Equestria gave their lives to keep ponykind to exist... somehow?

I'll bite, here's a few:

-Is the Red an actual person or not? Chapter 3 seemed to imply that it's more a force of nature (or disease), but this chapter seems to imply it's a sentient person (or even a Moon? probably not though, considering 'Triangle of Moons and we already know of 3 Moons).
-How special are Heralds actually? Can anyone/everyone become one, or only a very few number of ponies?
-What where the glasses even needed for, if Cursory seemed to be doing fine without them? I remember it saying S-sectors are not recommended for prolonged stays, yet Gentle seemed to be assigned to work there in the first place, presumably precisely to search for those missing persons Black Moon mentioned.

I have a tingling that they'll be looking for either reincarnated original Bearers (so, we're in the future then) or maybe some other Elements' binded group... (and we'll be back at step zero of this story placement in the world). Also... Seems like Electra is not fully alive?.. And has some curious gems on her armor.

Good chapter so far, keep it up!

To avoid readers' confusion; roses are to stay. Wormwood had been a temporary mistake.

“That is, she is the fourth?..”

Princess, perhaps?

Nice chapter. We have plot! : )

Minor term correction: throughout the story 'branch' changed to 'aspect'. Much less confusing and allows for better and easier grammar.

One more correction: the world, for the most part, refused being based on ten.

Double nine and triple nine called in, instead. Oh, and, of course, single nine too.

Interesting... So, ponies here have some age limit to do what exactly? Find a purpose? Attract the attention of one of the Moons? Get a cutie mark? And sounds like failing to do so... is not something to wish for.

But hey! At least some attraction of the other kind us going on : )

First, about the Net. It's my failure. I really meant to mention it in passing in chapter 6 (and the mention is there now).

As an excuse, here's what goes on about it:

Red is really dangerous. The Net's primary task is to dilute the Red. Make it less deadly (it still remains deadly, mind you. Just less so.) At the same time, it dilutes the light of other Moons. Usually it's too high above to be even noticeable. Remember how you can see the airplanes? Each section of the Net is much smaller than an airplane. But it protects, less so in the visible specter, more so in the magic/influence specter; and ponies may live in the Metropolis without being too much affected by the Moons.

Except said affecting still happens, in a really slow and subtle way. But that's okay.

On the topic of edge age there will be more in coming chapters.

Urgh, and you broke my understanding again : )

Changeling queen by the looks of it, with ability to manipulate probabilities, not only for herself, but for other ponies as well? That's an interesting development.

Also, where's all the males? I don't remember seeing any (but I could be wrong)

Great chapters so far!

There will be males, in the episodic roles :)

Also, it's a nice way to describe what happened here. Hope it was not disappointing for the reader as much as it was for Gentle Touch here.

At this chapter you probably have already deduced who, after all, are the Moons here. There is a deducible pattern. Granted, it may be hard to follow — Blue Moon strays from it, albeit she still follows it, mostly; and for Black Moon the show canon does not give away sufficient data to set the pattern clear. But White Moon AND Melody both follow it in the most straight way possible.

Gonna have to disagree on her being able to manipulate probabilities. Rather, it seems she can see into the (a?) future, all of the futures, and share what she saw with other characters. It really wouldn't make sense that she was surprised at the mention of Solid Line in the previous chapter otherwise.

Well, it's kinda the same principle. But she has the ability to grab one future thread and make it solid.

Huh, was there a time skip? Does that retconned vision thingy counts as visiting Melody in the flesh?


No big timeskips here! They noted that Solid Line's capsule is in the deep Descent of the Blue (or North, if you'd prefer), albeit less deep than Melody's place was, and both went for check-up in the local hospital, without returning to the homelands. Added minor line correction here, to point it out.

Huh, memory postage. That's new : )

Soo, perception filters? Actually twice, both near the tower and that implied scene at mnemo-post station. Interesting...

One typo noticed:

The computing facility of the habitat sector 12-S had been at the third floor of the working subsector, well above the ground level. When Solid Line came close, after a after a few

Curious circumstance. I am thinking something like the Optimalverse, but, I guess we shall see. The writing flows nicely.

Aviette - I learned a new word today. A flying vehicle entirely powered by the pilot. Fascinating!

Slight grammar issue:

The ordinator warned me about the forbidden light... I should be wary of it. Even brief touch of it [even a brief touch / even the briefest touch] would be too much for me... but no matter how much Solid Line squinted to find any kind of lamp, she saw none. Although the double had a saddlebag ajar... So, the bag; and maybe the source of light still remains beyond the glass. So, first step: I will remove the bag from it, but should take caution of light anyway. [but I should be cautious of the light anyway / be careful around the light / take precautions against the light]

I am really enjoying the use of phrases like 'cornsilk flash' and such, they evoke an in-world immersion and understanding I am impressed by.

"She is the reimplant of my dear aunt" - this is strongly suggesting that we are dealing with either virtual ponies (most likely) or artificial (robot/nanotech) physical bodies that use emigrated minds within them. Very interesting.

Some more corrections:

"Well, at least you admitted [admitted it]. It's a stupid decision but [I suppose / I guess / sadly, ] you just can't be better than that,"

If we'll die, we'll do it together this time. (if we die, we'll...]

"Do not press on her," [Do not press her] the beige mare interrupted. “The poor filly is already one step next to [from] turning around and running away from." [turning around and running away."]

I am curious, but currently perplexed - this is Enigmatic Ground. The moons are a puzzle, as is the Red, and I am eager to learn more at this point in the story!

Okay, now I am unsure that this is a virtual world at all. This may simply be a magical one. I don't know. There is sickness, and, apparently, euthanasia. Onward.

Hmm.. the agents of the Moons are very, or can be very, distrustful of each other. So far, it seems the Moons are alicorns, or something like them, and have dominion over specific aspects of existence.

There is a quality to this that somehow reminds me of the work of Stanislaw Lem, though I cannot put my finger (hoof!) on it.

The Moons seem to provide specific disciplines and even power to their minions. Most curious.

The capital 'F' Forest must be the Everfree in some form, dangerous as it always is. I am utterly baffled as to where we are; Equestria, Virtual Equestria, or something far stranger, but we have techology, we have apparent magic, we have uncanny terms and language that bespeaks a culture far removed from what we know. But more so, we seemingly have levels of perception of reality itself, which appears differently to different characters, and affects them on a fundamental way.

Very enigmatic.

But there were no stars in the dimly lit tunnel either, so they just agreed to pause, lied [laid / lay] on benches looking at each other and rested their tired legs.

Okay, they are apparently there as enforcers of some sort, to destroy the Reflections, which we have seen already are dangerous. I am reading on faith at this point, faith that all will be explained and make sense. It is utterly curious and intriguing. I feel like there is meaning here, just beyond my grasp. That can be a delicious sensation.

I lived in a one room place, once. It was difficult!

I like the use of color metaphors.

I liked the description of bonfire-dry skin.

The time system is interesting.

I don't like cold coffee. I don't actually like coffee!

The prose is beautiful, and clearly a lot of work was put into it. This just isn't my style, I think. But I definitely appreciate the craftsmanship!

Thanks for your attention — and I am very sorry that it was... effectively wasted.

First. It's not a cruel joke against you, or any other reader. It was never about 'being smarter than them'. It was about 'feel the world, as it is awesome. Try to get how it works. Collect the hints that are there to get a picture'. From the very first chapter I asked my friends and beta-readers and everyone around what is unclear. And, basically, there were two kind of replies: "everything is fine, keep writing", or 'nothing, but it's okay'. Now I see that being friends they were trying to care. Your harsh and honest truth is what I needed. It's sad that you weren't there at the start.

Second. You did what you promised, and I agree with your opinion. I failed to convey a story itself. More than that, I failed in the story's main purpose, listed in p. 1.

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