• Published 18th Mar 2013
  • 1,407 Views, 28 Comments

Siren Song - TheDarkStarCzar



My name is Sea Swirl and I love swimming in the Ocean. That hardly tells you anything about a pony, though. My name is Sea Swirl and my Mother is a thief and a murderer. Maybe. Maybe that tells you too much.

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Siren Song

"Siren Song." She ignored me.

Dancing nimbly around me with a silver tea service balanced on her back, I tried again, "Siren Song? Hey! Don't ignore me. Siren Song!" She gave no indication whatever that she'd heard me and slid the tray onto the rustic oak table, it's metallic swish accenting her constantly hummed melody, "Yo! Old lady! I'm talking to you." She brushed by me, swept up a pair of teacups from the army of them on the counter and clutched them to her chest as she walked to the table on three legs. Brushing a partially completed jigsaw puzzle off the table to let it's thousand pieces patter against the floor she sat down and placed the cups before her. With a quilted pot holder between the teapot's handle and her thin lipped mouth she poured both cups full to the brim, set the pot back on the tray and shoved one cup across the table from her. The tea sloshed and overtopped the cup, dripping messily down the sides and pooling beneath it. I switched from glaring at her to glaring at the offending cup which would most certainly leave a ring on the previously unspoiled oak.


"Sugar?" She inquired as if she'd not spent the previous minutes pointedly ignoring me.


"Why've you always got to make such a mess?" I asked in response before levitating both cups, as she should have done, wiping the table beneath them with a rag and sliding saucers beneath them before resettling them.


"Why do you think I need you to clean up after me?" She dropped a pair of sugarcubes with a plop, "It's like when you were a little filly and you saw all my record albums on the floor, remember? You picked them all up and put them in milk crates organized by genre and in alphabetical order and everything and just assumed that it was a good thing, the way it should be. It never occurred to you that they were fine how I had them and imposing your sense of order on others is completely self serving, not helpful at all. I'd hoped to teach you better than that, but I can see you haven't changed that much from when you were a foal."


"You were a slob." I said evenly, "You can't try and pass slovenliness off for the 'controlled chaos of a genius mind' or whatever you used to say."


"Well who made you the absolute arbiter of the chaos and order? If I piled everything I own in a big mound and slept in center of it which would you call that?" She asked, stirring milk into her once again overflowing teacup with a spoon handle held in her mouth.


"What kind of question is that? That's pure chaos, like crazy cat mare levels of hoarderdom." I replied, even though I sensed that it was some rhetorical trap.


"Dragons do it, and no one faults them for it." She rejoined.


"But they're on piles of gold and gems in a cave..."


"Which, because you're used to the idea, you find more aesthetically acceptable than a pile of blankets and furniture and whatnot, but it's just as strange, if not stranger, to heap precious metals and gems up in such a manner and way less comfortable to sleep on." She sipped her tea with a smug expression. I'd forgotten in so many years apart but it's a pain to argue with her, she always had some incisive little tidbits that may not have held up to the scrutiny of a true debater but always left me flummoxed.


"Yeah, less comfortable for ponies, not dragons. Just because something's okay for a dragon, arguably a wild animal, doesn't mean it's okay for ponies. You can't just live in a heap of your own filth and act like it's okay." I remained standing, not prepared yet to have a friendly tea with her. This pointless argument, I knew, was just an outlet for the deeper rage I felt beneath it, struggling to rise up and consume me.


"Because only this fictional..." She gestured, searching for a word, "Meta-society can judge between a heap of filth and a nest? Who gave them the authority? I never voted on that and I never agreed to it. Just because everypony decided that we all had to follow this set of rules to be good, upstanding members of society doesn't mean it's true or that it's actually binding. Most of the ones who'd argue it the loudest are secretly the kinds of freaks and weirdos they're accusing everypony else of being, right? So what they're actually saying is that we all must give the appearance of being good and upstanding members of society, and should you be found out for the deviant you really are we'll turn our backs on you and deny the lot."


I couldn't believe it, but I guess it came from our ways being parted when I was still in my teens. In all that time she'd never actually acknowledged the horrible things she'd done or offered any honest explanation, and while I was quite dubious, I felt this was shaping up to be progress towards that end and I searched for the question to ask to further it, "So you feel abandoned by society?"


She scrunched up her face in confusion, "What? No, I'm talking about you, my baby. I read the first half of your little writing assignment, see. I'm trying to explain that just because you think society's judged you a failure, it doesn't mean anything because buck society anyway. All this fussiness and introspection, it's kinda pointless and you're just letting others define you by getting bogged down in this petty...."

I stopped listening though she spoke unabated for minutes, enumerating the ways in which I was not the failure I knew I was and the ways in which I should alter my perceptions and quit comparing myself to others. Self esteemy piles of horseapples where I'd thought she was going to talk about herself.

As she spoke, unheard, I realized what I was doing and the utter absurdity of it. After the monastery I'd ended up with her, on the run. That was weeks ago and since then she'd relinquished her hold on my mind, save that I still seemed to be in the dark about my early years, and yet I stayed with her. Inexplicably, I stayed. At first I chalked it up to the remoteness of the locale and fear of trying to make it to any sort of civilization on my own, but that's not the whole truth.

But then as she listed out the things I should do and books I should read to become a better pony I couldn't resist the simmering fury and righteous indignation of her, of all ponies, telling me how to improve myself! To an outside observer it would have looked unprovoked, maybe it was, but I stepped to the table, took up my teacup and threw it's steaming contents in her face. El-splat-o! It was much restrained over what I really wanted to do.

She snorted in annoyance, flicked her tail, otherwise still as a portrait, then grabbed up the cream pitcher in her magic and flung it at me trailing it's milky tail. I dodged, but she grabbed the teapot by it's spout as she bounded over the table. She reared back and smashed it across my face, splattering us both with scalding hot liquid. In her unchecked aggression she managed to hurt herself as much as me as she pounded me with the thin metal pot. When it burst all it's solder joints and was little more than a twisted sheet she discarded it and expended the rest of her immediate wrath with bare hooves.

Breathing heavily still, she grabbed me by the mane and ferociously pulled me to my hooves, then shoved me to the stool pulled up to the table. Forcibly seated me on it before relinquishing her grip on my hair. She refilled the kettle and lit the stove, pulling down an old tin coffee pot from the cabin's shelves and dropped some tea into it. Then she retrieved a fresh teacup, walked to the table and slammed it down so hard on the saucer that they both chipped. That revitalized her anger for a brief moment. She flung the cup and saucer both against the wall to form wet starbursts against the bare wood paneling. Apparently that was insufficient because she then grabbed up the silver tray and sent it pinwheeling against the cabinets where it crumpled itself against a now scarred door and fell to the floor with a clatter.

I was too timid to venture any kind of speech or action. The kettle whistled, she dumped it's contents in the coffee pot and brought both it and another fresh tea cup to the table. She set them down gingerly amidst the spilled cream and overturned sugarbowl trailing it's contents lazily across the table. Then she settled back down, topped off her tea and sipped.


"If you can't be civil I don't see how this is going to work out, and for Celestia's sake, call me mom." She said calmly.


Even though I knew better and even though I fought against it my mouth said, "Damn, Siren Song, anger issues much?"


What did she do? She calmly threw her cup of hot tea in my face. I simply took a napkin and wiped it away, then archly refilled her cup from the battered coffee pot. A grin bloomed on her face, followed by tittering laughter and soon she was having a full on laughing fit and I couldn't help but join it, aches, bruises, dripping tea and crimson smears across my coat forgotten.

In spite of everything she was still my mom.







We were hiding in the Western Stirropean mountains in a spot so insanely, ridiculously perfect that I could scarcely believe it existed at all. Two ridgelines came down towards the sea, framing the jagged, snow topped peaks above. A scant three hundred yards above the beach sat an acre of land nestled between the rocky spines. Between two dark and twisted pines rose a cabin, and though it was intentionally rustic, it was built in the ski-lodge style, with a sharp, angular roof and a broad expanse of glass facing the sea. It was larger than practical if heating issues were a concern (It had a gas fireplace, stove and furnace, so there was either a line or storage tank somewhere, though I saw no evidence of it in my stay.) and impractical to access. It was the sort of fairytale get away that only very rich ponies could justify. The beach below was accessible by means of an overly steep stairway and though there was a boat dock there the waves had beat it so thoroughly as to make it practically useless for it's purpose. It was perfect to climb up and dive off of, though, and I spent almost a whole day in the sunlight and salt spray, jumping from the little platform into the invigoratingly cold sea.

Mother watched from the shore, reading and placidly sipping some sort of mulled wine. She had a jug of the stuff half in and half out of a small fire that had died away to embers and was drinking it from a cracked mug that was stamped '#1 Dad' in black lettering.


She'd been delighted when she'd found it, explaining to me the irony of the thing. "First," She'd told me, "There's the blatant fact that anypony who could afford to own a place like this is automatically a subjectively bad pony. You just don't get this kind of rich without busting a few skulls and stabbing a few backs. Honest work comes with humble rewards, after all, but in his kid's eyes? Sure, he could still be number one dad, I guess. But if you were the one receiving such a thing, would it fill you with pride that your foal thinks you're the best father in the world or would you see it as an indictment of all your little failings, like it was a little sarcastic?"

"I don't know," I'd told her neutrally, "I've seen those things all over people's offices and workshops. I don't think anypony thinks about it all that deeply." I had, though. I had precisely the same thought when I'd seen one for the first time and actually paid attention to it, not that I was going to admit it. It was disturbing to me that she seemed to think like I did when she'd had a few. Further the fact that it was cracked rather badly seemed to make it almost an art piece, especially fitting if she'd killed the former owner of this little bit of paradise.


I wondered if she had, but I wasn't planning on asking.


When I crawled up the beach, my legs weary from swimming and suddenly unaccustomed to a world where buoyancy didn't counteract gravity. I shook off my mane, splattering Mom and causing the glowing embers to spit and pop dramatically. She raised her eyes from the book and scowled at me. I took that as a cue and asked, "So what is it we're doing here, anyway? Not that I mind it, but I can hardly imagine that this is a permanent solution."


"We're waiting for the mail." She replied simply and went back to reading.


"Yeah, you said that before, and it's all kinds of cryptic and such, but since the mail doesn't get delivered here...?" I trailed off, leaving the question implied. I didn't know the right one to ask so I figured I'd just let her fill in the missing bit.


She sighed and set the book face down on the coarse sand. It was a stiff paperback and tried to close up so she shoved a mound of dirt and pebbles on top of it. It hurt me, spiritually, to see a book treated so. I could imagine the moisture from the sediment leaching into the edges of the rag paper, leaving irrevocable streaks and stains. At least she didn't dog ear it, I guess. Ponies who do that are the worst.


At length she asked, "Why do you care?"


Knowing it was the wrong thing to say but having no other likely reply at hoof I asked, "Why wouldn't I?"


"Aren't you enjoying yourself here?"


"Yes, except that I'm worried..."


"Don't be. It's not yours to worry about at any rate." She cut in, "In a few days the package I'm waiting for will arrive and you won't have to worry ever again."


"You're...You're going to kill me?" I gasped.


Her jaw dropped open and she shook her head in bewilderment, "Sea Swirl, I swear sometimes you're just so stupid I can't even believe you're my daughter. Why would you even think that?"


"Well...you do tend to...kind of...leave a few bodies in your wake." I stammered.


She waved it off, "Eh, that's different. I've only killed changelings and ponies who deserved it, you know I was working for Celestia herself. I wouldn't hurt you for all the world my baby."


"Okay, no. You can't claim to have been working for Princess Celestia and then steal the Elements of Harmony themselves, that's as opposite of working for the Princess as you can get and I'm not convinced that agent tailing me was a changeling at all, I think he was a royal guard looking for you and nothing more." I railed, "More than that you brainwashed me twice and threw me in a damned asylum, and that's not even getting into my childhood!"


"I may have eradicated a couple memories that weren't age appropriate, but the asylum was for your own good." She looked at me conspiratorially, "You've got a couple issues they could help you with, I think. You're kind of a bucked up pony Sea Swirl."


"I had kind of a bucked up mom." I said, and she giggled, but I hadn't meant it as a joke.


"Okay, but the whole Elements of Harmony thing? I may have gone a bit overboard, but in the end it will be a net positive for Celestia. She'll have all the criminal elements who were plotting against her neatly gathered and I knew the Element Bearers would get free in the end." She said.


"That's not even true."


"Oh yeah, who do you think arranged to have a Griffon garrison waiting to free them? That's not just luck that they were on maneuvers near there because the nearest base is hours away. Admittedly it was somewhat more chaotic than I'd planned, but when the stakes are as high as they were it's worth the risk." She refilled her mug with wine and offered it to me but I declined, "You just wait 'til I get the package, then you'll have all the proof you need that what I'm saying is true."


I knew it wasn't worth arguing. She lied so well because she could always remember her lies, square them with reality in a convincing way and never ever admit that she'd lied. So once she said something, even if you knew it wasn't true and you had proof she'd almost never back down. Even if her whole edifice was a house of cards you couldn't knock it down because the 'facts' she piled on top of the lies made you forget what they were based on. I switched to a new line of attack, "What about the monks?"


The candidness of her answer surprised me, "Buck the monks. Bunch of superstitious wackos with their beaks up their asses. Not even they believe what they're preaching anymore because this isn't the fifth century, is it? Their time had come and they should have been ashamed for pushing such drek on impressionable young minds. Besides, if they believe what they're selling I did them all a favor and sent them to their reward a little quicker."


In my mind's eye I pictured the field of fresh dug graves, they were burned into my brain. Each grave was shaped a little differently and the edges were ragged as if they hadn't been dug by shovels but by talons. With her power she'd made those griffons dig their own graves and probably pull the soil in on top of themselves I realized. I thought, remember this. This is the kind of vicious your mom is. Regardless of her justifying and redirecting, this is the truth of things. "That's really bucking terrible. You can't just kill anyone you think is wrong. Being wrong is not a capital offense."


"Yeah, well, it bucking well should be." She said, then got up and climbed up the stairs back to the cabin. Her gait was unsteady, not just from drink but from age. It was the first time I really realized it. For all my fear and the inglorious pedestal I'd placed her on, she was getting old.







To give her some time to cool off I went back into the sea, alternately swimming sprints and diving down to touch the bottom. In the cool depths the water was still and it shouldn't have surprised me that I heard a snippet of my whale friend talking.

He himself said his voice carried, but my hearing was vastly inferior to his and my vocal range, even with the amplification spell, was very much limited. I thought, though, that if he was close enough, maybe he could hear me, so I called out a greeting to him. It took several minutes for the reply to come.

At first I thought that meant he was quite close, dividing the speed of sound in miles per hour by sixty gave me a rough guess, but then I remembered that sound moved faster in water. Then I had no idea because I'd forgotten it was a round trip and I don't remember how much faster anyway, though given my abilities you'd think I should be better at that.

In the meantime I asked him how he'd been and what he was doing. It was all whale stuff, hunting, swimming to the richer waters of the moment, then he asked how I got clear down to where I was, so I told him. It was a shortened version and it had a lot of detours to explain things I didn't think he'd understand, but he got enough of it to see the uncertainty of my situation.


"I do not know what I could do, but I would do anything I can to help you." He replied sweetly, "Do you need help?"


"I...I probably do. But even if my options were unlimited I don't know what I would do." I admitted.


"It sounds to me like you want to kill her and I cannot say that you would not be justified in doing so." He said gently. It had occurred to me in brief flashes and half formed ideas that I should end her life and bring this travesty to a close, but I had discarded that outright as unthinkable.

There were too many unknowns and what ifs. For instance, did the fact I still couldn't remember my childhood mean I was still under her control? What if I tried to kill her and found I was incapable because of that? What if some of her seemingly wacko opinions were better founded than I gave them credit? What if it turned out I was incapable because I'm not a killer, but then what if it turned out that I was and I am?


Now I know anypony who's read this is shouting right now, 'For buck's sake, just kill the monster in her sleep and have done with it!' That's all well and good. Well and good indeed, but there are things that need to be taken into account.

A prime point is that I'm a coward. Anypony who read my writings has been apprised of the width and depth of my yellow streak. It's a point to be made that anyone who knew me in real life wouldn't realize this, it doesn't show. I'm bombastic with my friends, terse in a way that's usually considered humorous and somewhat aloof. Wave Crest used to jokingly call me 'The last hard mare.'

It's hard to say that the whale thought any differently of me than my less aquatic friends and there's less of an onus on killing in the seas. Anyone who's causing problems usually gets eaten, but it's of no particular note because so do a lot of innocents. Even then it's a whole different thing to kill your mother.


"You have much to think about, I suppose." The whale said when I had not made a reply after a substantial period of time, and indeed I did. He further said that he would like to talk to me again sometime, but that he had to keep moving North for the time being. After much triangulation from undersea landmarks and known waypoints we agreed that on the longest day of the year, some time distant yet, he'd be in the sea beyond the old lighthouse and if I was able I would meet him.


I wondered if I would make it.






We all know about the various genocides and holocausts that have occurred from time to time in foreign lands and we come to wonder how they were perpetrated at all. A charismatic leader is one thing, but death is dealt and atrocities committed by his henchmen and we all wonder, what sort of sick freaks were they that they could do these heinous things? When they're brought up for trial there's a few psychos, but most of them are common as milk curd, so how could they go along with it?

In short, how could I go along and act like everything was fine living side by side with an unrepentant killer. It's not loyalty, exactly, though that's a good disguise. Complacency maybe. It's hard to hold in one's mind that someone who is outwardly intelligent, interesting and normal isn't. Brief bouts of violence aside, (There were numerous occasions of that, but the cabin suffered worse than I for them. Keep in mind that, for all the terror she caused in me, I am an athlete and fairly young yet, well able to weather her tempests.) we were getting along fairly well and it's easy to maintain the status quo, you're probably doing it right now.

That's how atrocities occur and I was giving it a lot of thought. It dovetailed with Mom's own societal arguments, but in the end philosophy is worthless, I needed to act. Though it kept me up two nights in a row with the planning and the justifying, I realized I just couldn't kill her, it was still just too repugnant.

Also, I still wanted to ask her so many things, but she'd already put forth her answers and I knew she wasn't one to go back on what she'd said.

According to her I was born a killer, just like her. My whole childhood a wicked season of carnage. If it was true, and there tended to be grains of truth in all she said, did that mean I could never change? Was I destined to always be so defined? I shared her power, I could have anything I wanted. If I was around her long enough, would I take up her mantle?






Ever since we'd gotten to the cabin, when she'd gotten bored with reading she'd tell me about her friends in Ponyville. I thought at the time it was simple nostalgia. She told me long rambling stories that about the various small adventures she'd been involved in. It was indicative of her duplicity that she really was friends with everypony in town. She told of taste testing Bonbon's more experimental candies, marching in a harvest festival parade, all the ponies she knew from the bowling league she'd been a part of and she was even there when Princess Luna showed up for Nightmare night. "I tried to get Rarity to make me a costume, see, but she was so busy that I'd ended up coming up with my own. I got old Blacky to hammer a helmet out of sheet metal and Dropstich made me a mace shaped pillow for my tail. I looked like some kind of ridiculous knight and while I was dancing I'd keep spinning around and whacking ponies with the mace and pretending it was an accident. It was great! Well until the Princess showed up, then it was kind of a mess, but even that's funny in retrospect."


She was a playful extrovert at heart and seemed to get along with everypony in public if her stories were true, and I had little reason to doubt them. It lulled me into a false sense of security and I'd think she was just normal old Mom until I remembered things like how she must have hypnotized the clerk from Sofas and Quills into confessing to a crime he didn't commit to cover her tracks.






I paced the floors in thought, chasing ideas in endless, intertwined loops. I need to act, I'd reminded myself over and over again, but I just couldn't. I was driving Mother and myself insane. She's not stupid, she had to know what I was thinking about, but as with the monastery she wanted to see what I would do about it. It's a cruel form of torture, crueler still was that I seemed forever at loggerheads with myself. Neither acting to better things or coming to terms with a fractured future, tidally locked in a killer's orbit.


"If you don't stop pacing I'm going to make you stop pacing." She said, threatening me overtly for the first time with her unique power, which led me to question it aloud.


"What I've been trying to figure out is, why can't I remember my childhood?" I demanded, "If everything you've said is true, then what is it you're trying to hide? What did you do that you don't want me to know about?"


"Ha! What did you do that you don't want to know about? That's a better question." She waved off my query, "I'm not hiding anything and it's natural that you've forgotten most of that. Some because you don't want to remember and some just fades with age. It's got nothing to do with me."


"Okay, prove it." I thought I was onto something clever, "Sing that song that releases your mind control, then I'll know for sure you're telling the truth."


"Oh, sing it yourself! You've been free ever since you got here." She spat.


"That doesn't work and you know it." I said.


"How would I know that? You think I can hypnotize myself to find out?" She said and I hit on an inspiring idea. I started singing the first song, I'd use it on her then make her sing to be sure I was free. If I could find one solid fact I hoped I could build my whole world around it, but it wasn't to be. As soon as she realized what I was doing she got up from her bench, wheeled around and bucked me hard in the chest. I hit the ground but didn't stop. A few more words and it would be done.


"Desist." She said quietly and I immediately fell silent. For a long while she just glared at me, then she shook her head, sat back down and returned to her reading.


"Ha! I knew it, you never released the spell!" I said triumphantly.


"Well it's like Santa Clydesdale, isn't it? You couldn't just leave it be and now the illusion's spoilt and we can never go back. I mean I could tell you to forget, I guess, but I don't think I'm going to. You had to have realized that I couldn't just let you roam free without safeguarding myself somehow, right?" She exhaled sharply, "I know you think I'm crazy, but do I strike you as stupid too? Is knowing really so important that you'll destroy everything for it?"


"Yeah, sometimes." I said and she shooed me away with a wave of her hoof. Throughout the night I tossed and turned thinking about it. Yes I was a coward, but my desire just to know was insatiable. I rose from my bed and crept into her room. I stood and stared at her sleeping form for an eternity, fear nearly forcing me away. It couldn't really be this easy, could it? She couldn't really have left herself unprotected at night, could she have? If I tried this and it failed what would she do? She wasn't about punishment for it's own sake, once her immediate anger had dissipated she'd probably just constrict her control over me, but that was torturous in and of itself, I remembered. I had all but convinced myself to give up before I did anything irrevocable, but my lips parted of their own accord and for the first time I used the cursed siren song on another pony.

I sang it loud and strong with all it's intricacies and I could feel it's subtle power flowing through me.


"Wake up." I told her and her eyes sprang open with a start. They were alert and mobile, she knew what was happening but, though I hadn't expressly ordered it, she was incapable of moving without my consent. There's stories of genies and wishes perverted by semantics, the siren song seemed to bind it's victims to their master's intent as well as their specific orders, which is apparently how it had been so thorough in forbidding communication when used on Pinkie Pie and myself. I still didn't know how Pinkie Pie had been allowed the latitude to communicate with me or throw me off the ship. "Sing the song." I said, and I didn't have to specify which one, she just did it and for the first time since I was an infant my mind was my own.


There was no rush of images or some grand batch of revelations and flashbacks, I just knew things again and if I explored my thoughts these things would be there, but that wasn't work to be done tonight. I was too keyed up by this point to be doing any soul searching so I gave her some very specific instructions and sent her back to sleep.

I told her to forget this had happened and that she was never, ever to use the siren song on me again. Did I tell her to quit flying off the handle and attacking me? No. Did I tell her to stop killing everypony all the bucking time? It happens I did not. I reasoned that she was still under my thrall and I could sort it all out later. I was still uncertain what I wanted, much less what I wanted from and for her, but conflicted can only last until you're forced to act.






"The package should have arrived today." She said as she roughly shook me awake. I grunted for her to go away but she dragged me by a hoof until I fell to the floor, half on and half off the bed, then assuming her mission had been accomplished she left. Grudgingly I admitted defeat, dragged my plot off the bed to fall in a heap with my forelimbs. Then I quickly I rose and prepared myself for the day.

The back bedrooms of the cabin kept out the sunlight until halfway through the morning and so encouraged sleeping in. I hadn't run since I'd left Ponyville. It had a way of making me feel lazy and pathetic, but now the dynamic had changed. At breakfast Mom made clear that she didn't remember last night and had no inkling that our positions had been reversed. If anything the recent revelation that I was, supposedly, still in her power had cooled her towards me, she certainly wasn't treating me as almost an equal as she had before.


"What are you grinning about?" She sharply demanded.


"It's a nice day, breakfast smells great and we're finally going to get out of this place. Not that it's not a lovely place, but I'm starting to feel pretty cooped up. Say, how are we getting out of here anyway?" I asked. We'd arrived by boat, but she'd sunk it in the shallows saying we shouldn't need it anymore.


"Over the pass." She said simply.


"Pass? What pass? That ridgeline looks pretty solid from what I've seen and we have to be a good couple days from any kind of civilization." I said skeptically.


"You really can't just believe me about these things?" She barked, "There's a pass and there's another cabin where we're going to meet somepony and pick up our mail, then we'll be on our way back to the real world. We'll need some coats, I think there's some in the closet."

I went back to the closet, opened it and poked around. I thought I felt a heap of clothes but it was too dark to see so I lit my horn. Staring me in the face was a horrified, freeze dried husk of a pony. I started in fright, turned and threw up on the floor, "Oh, Luna dammit."


"Ah, not that closet," Mother said helpfully, "The one by the door."


"Is that the owner of this place?"


"If you mean was he the owner of this place, then yes. An ex-husband so in actuality I own this place now." She chuckled, "Also, no I didn't have a foal with him. That mug was from a previous marriage, so don't even get started on that."


"Why's he in the closet?" Seemed like a decent question, I was trying to act unruffled though in fact I was decidedly ruffled.


"When he died the ground was frozen solid and I just kind of put it off." She shrugged, "I do tend to procrastinate about that sort of thing I'm afraid."


"Whatever," I said holding a coat up to her, "He had a nice coat, though. Here, smell it and see if it seems too corpsey." She gave me an incredulous look, "No? Alright, then, be that way."


I dropped it and collected a pair from the coat closet by the door instead and we headed out.






It was a hard day's hike and it was near dark by the time we got there. We should have started earlier. In truth I was encumbered by mother's poor pace over the rocky ground and I had taken a considerable lead on her just to keep from having to hear about her ankles hurting. The terrain was just challenging enough that I had to concentrate on it rather than letting my mind freewheel.

Yeah, I was putting off the revelations that were already nipping at the edges of my mind. I also tend to procrastinate.

The cabin we found was of the old school variety. Between it's higher elevation and it's position in the lee of the mountain it still had snow drifted down across it. It's chimney had melted a circle clear around itself and the doorway and one window had been shoveled clear. There was a set of tracks headed in and the same set had tromped around clearing snow before marching away and trailing off. Clearly a pegasus. Mom seemed nervous at that. I think because he was supposed to have stayed.

Inside there was a stack of dry firewood set by the cast iron stove so I kindled it to get the place heated up. By the light of the fire mother sat at the table, sifting through papers that had been in a pair of saddlebags on the table. I couldn't make head or tail of them, they were all sets of numbers and figures. It meant something to her, though. She smiled with a mad glee as she went through them.


Once the stove heated I set about making goulash from the dried and preserved vegetables that had been left in the cabin, "I thought that was supposed to be some sort of proof and vindication, not a block of spreadsheets."


"Bah. You have no sense of beauty is all. This, this right here," She smacked the sheaf of paper with her hoof, "Is probably the most valuable singular thing that exists in the entirety of the world."


"Good good." I said, feigning disinterest, "So what is it? Picture of the Princess' plot?"


She chuckled, her good mood far from being a fragile thing at this point, "I'll tell you all about it when we're back in the world, safe. For right now we have a lot of work to do if we don't want to get clipped as soon as we make it back."


From another saddle bag she produced some bottles of colored liquid, shears and a set of stencil paper. I caught onto it right away. We were going to dye ourselves, put on some fake cutie marks and waltz right back into public.

Well...

At least this part seemed like a good mother daughter bonding activity, I thought wryly.






She couldn't leave that cabin fast enough. As soon as dawn hinted that it might possibly break sometime in the very near future we were out the door and gone. We were both blue now. Not quite matching but only because we were different shades to begin with. Her mane was black and mine was a deep blue. On my flank lay a crescent moon and a single star where my circling dolphins had been. If you looked close they could still be made out, but they just looked like part of the moon's design. The workmareship was sub par.

On hers I had done a fine job if I do say so myself, but the design was not my own so I was limited. It was a witches hat with white stars and a pair of music notes outlined in white, one note over her original mark and the witches hat over the breaking wave. She was Sorceress' Song, now, a name I thought was just asking to be discovered.


I was, "Who gives a buck? Just make something up or pretend to be mute or something." So I decided Moonbuck was as good a name as any, should I be forced to give a name.


We walked into town fresh dyed and groomed and I was afraid we'd be making a scene in some backwoods mining town, but it was Ski Resort town so our confused out of placeness fit right in. Mom still seemed ill at ease.


"What's up?" I asked.


"There was supposed to be somepony waiting for us at the cabin. It doesn't really matter, but the fact he didn't stick around makes me think he was compromised, somehow." She said, carefully surveying the town for anypony who seemed out of place.


I didn't see anything out of place except for the big black dog headed towards us, "Wait, is that...? Cappy! Oh, buck, what's Cappy doing here?"


His happy lolling tongue bounced as he bounded towards us, towards me for once. It was surprisingly gratifying not to be ignored for once by that dumb animal. I reached to pet him but mother grabbed his big trusting head and twisted it roughly until a pop could be heard.

Then he flopped to the ground dead, a big slobbery smile still on his face...

Instantly but half heartedly I struck her in the throat and as she gasped and panted I cried.

I cried because she'd killed my dog. I cried because she'd taken herself out of my life, left me alone for so many years. I cried for the lives she'd taken and I cried because even though I'd been holding it off I finally remembered how she'd let her baby become a killer too and now I had to choose a path and either fork I took seemed to start with me killing again. I cried because even now I was strongly drawn to choose the path of evil, my mother's path.

Author's Note:

Oh my god, she killed Cappy!
You bastard!