• Published 18th Mar 2013
  • 1,406 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.

  • ...

Neptune, Dog of the Sea

My overseas adventures had changed me somewhat. I was mellowed considerably, partook of that most holy of plants only occasionally and was altogether happier. At least part of it was the change of circumstance to one in which I was surrounded by friends and vibrant small town life. Aside from that I had a couple things I hadn't had for some time. I had a goal that I was working towards and something to look forward to and that makes a considerable difference.

When I was still in the Germane prison I'd written a non-fiction book proposal based on the whale's life and it had been accepted. I'd overpromised a bit, I didn't have enough material to make a whole book yet but I hoped to glean enough when we met with the whale to flesh it out, assuming that he'd agree to let me profit by his story. In large measure it was his opinion that turned me against fiction writing, he'd caused me to believe that writing fiction is an exceedingly ungrateful act. Here we're giving this beautiful world, rife with the most glorious happenings and we arrogantly believe that we can improve upon it.

I'd been exchanging letters with Georgia and she met me in Ponyville just in time for a trip to the coast. I introduced her around and even though she's always very well mannered there was some trepidation on the part of the ponies. The last griffon who'd come through town had soured them to the whole race, which is a shame because if I had my way they'd be seeing more of Georgia in the future.

We took an uneventful train ride out to the coast and I introduced her to Wave Crest. Then we three walked out to the lighthouse only to be disappointed. It had finally given up it's fight and the whole cliffside had crumbled into the ocean leaving nothing but a picturesque ruin sprawled seaward. Wave Crest said it must have happened in that last week because it'd still been there last time she walked by it. She said we'd just have to stay with her and that was fine. Her family was happy enough to see me but they were thrilled to have a real live Griffon under their roof. Having a puppy besides didn't hurt anything. He joyously chased my former cats, which was fine by me. They seem to have forgotten me entirely our time apart and wouldn't so much as approach me, the ingrates.

Georgia was fine with the attention and told all the old stories of her race. It was several days yet before the Solstice so, even though she didn't want to learn, we taught Georgia to swim as a way of amusing ourselves. Then we taught her to surf. She was a natural but complained endlessly about the sticky salt water in her feathers and spent most of our evening preening sulkily. There's something hopelessly endearing about a sulking griffon.

The next day we three and the puppy took out a small sloop that Wave Crest was meant to be repairing. The puppy stood on the prow like a figurehead, stoically greeting the wind. Once we made it to the deep, open water I dove in and sunk just deep enough to hear my surroundings clearly. There was a lot of chatter of various creatures headed to some particular spot. I assumed the hunting was especially good there as the ocean is rife with occasional feeding frenzies of all sorts. If not for the deep overriding bass thrum of his voice I wouldn't have been able to make out the whale. I called to him and all the chatter mysteriously died. I told him I was here and gave him a meeting point that would be easy to find. He said that it would be a day yet before he was there but we headed there anyway.

The rendezvous point I'd chosen was an annoyance in many regards but it was one of the few spots in deep water that were easily found from both above and below the sea. It was the spire of an undersea castle that breached the surface with it's congealed offal and detritus pinnacle. It was a good six yards around where we tied off to it and it rose another fifty yards above. It's inhabitants were present, but kept at bay by fear of my griffon friend, which is another fine attribute of Georgia's.

No sooner had we arrived than we were accosted by a pod of dolphins eagerly jabbering about some storyteller. Then a killer whale made his presence known, asking if I was the pony in charge. By the time a second pod of dolphins had arrived I'd figured out what had happened. Since the sea afforded no privacy all the marine mammals in the area had overheard my plans way back when I made them and spread the story, a number of them had come here to meet me. Not because I was so interesting, but for stories of life on dry land and a chance to tell their own stories.

It's impossible to pay a dolphin or whale to work for you, I've come to realize. Money means nothing to him and you can't pay him in fish either. If he's free then fish are abundant and he'll gladly take them if they're given, but they don't mean much. If he's in a tank, as I've seen on occasion, then it's not payment but a from of slavery. Likewise with all the marine mammals but I'd found a currency they would trade in, stories. Before the whale even arrived I'd gotten tales enough for several volumes and talked long enough to make myself a little hoarse.

When he finally did arrive the sun was setting but I still had every creature's rapt attention so I told them the tale of Siren Song. The whale was much pleased with my presence and my story, but he asked if that was all, was the story over?

"No." I admitted, "There's still a little more to it as it turns out, but I don't know just how much. If you want I'll come back next year and I'll tell you all how it went, but it's not likely to be all that interesting, really."

They all said that they'd be here and they'd have more stories to tell if I did and I agreed. We spent another few days at sea in the whale and his brethren's company before they had to move on to feed. The puppy resumed his place majestically on the prow as we sailed back.

"Sea Swirl, I've got a bit of a present for you, maybe. I'm not sure if you really want it but I thought you should have it." Georgia said as I contemplated the sea. In her talon, wrapped in cellophane was an old Ship's log that had a quarter of it's pages ripped out. Written in it was this story in it's unedited form. The exceptions, of course, being anything after the cloister, which I wrote up after the fact as well as Twilight Sparkle's report, which I got from the archives, and Princess Celestia's reply, which I may have borrowed without asking from Twilight's papers.

I was unaccountably moved to tears holding the book in my hooves once more. I thanked Georgia who tactfully looked away but I was having none of it. I jumped up and hugged her and she calmly received my affection and embraced me back. At length and by way of changing to a fresh subject she indicated the puppy with a pointed talon and asked his name.

"He's going to be big, just like his father so I've got to name him something big. He's Neptune, for the god of the sea." I told her and she rolled her eyes.

"I like it, I guess. Not sure about the gender swap, but since she's fictional I guess it works well enough."

We kept in touch by letter, Georgia and I, and though we kept trying to come up with some venture to go into together we couldn't swing it. She was still in the service and I'd gotten my book published and was touring in support of it. Six months later I put out the second volume of 'A Whale's Tale' which was a compilation of the various stories I'd been told. It made it high enough on the best seller's list that I finally didn't have to worry about where my next month's rent was coming from.

Me and Neptune were living high on the hog by the next time we went out to the spire of the Seapony keep. Georgia and Wave Crest were both with us. The meeting went just the same with joyful greetings and stories swapped. The whale, though, pointedly kept himself below the waves and I got suspicious and called him on it.

Sheepishly he admitted that my story had been spread and some dolphins had found something that might be interesting, even if I didn't want to keep it so he'd dragged it here on his back. When he rose, there lay the Albatross as had the Cormorant, on his back.

Now I'd like to talk it up, tell how great it was and all but it wasn't. That old ship was seriously bucked up. It had clearly been submerged and then beached and part of it had been burned, but it had something the more soulful Cormorant never would, a poetic name. With an appraising glance Wave Crest waved it off and said, "Yeah, we can fix all that, no problem."

Anypony who's ever restored a house or a ship, assuming they did it well, can attest that it's usually cheaper, faster and easier to build a new one than to piece together some old junk, so why do we delight in these restoration projects instead of scratchbuilding? The shape, it's flaws and it's damage give us constraints and direction. They limit the potential, maybe, but the direct the ambition as well, and by now it's well known how poorly I do when my options are limitless. Still I had doubts about taking it on as a project at all.

"How about it Georgia, you want in on this?" I asked. She arched her eyebrows and gave me a look that asked if I was serious.

"It's a moot point. I have student loans to pay off even if I can get a leave of absence." She kept staring at the ship, "An extended leave of absence from the look of it."

"What if I paid off your student loans and paid you a salary?" I asked.

She scoffed, "I know writing's been good to you, but it hasn't been as good as all that. Besides that, even if you could afford to pay me I don't like boats unless they're airships. I figure you mean to add a mast and sail it as a boat? Nopony can afford to have their own airship without a small fortune to squander on it."

"Oh, it's just as well I've got one of those, then, because I did rather intend to build it back up as an airship." I informed her smugly.

When I'd gotten back to Ponyville a year back I'd buckled down to get through Mom's paperwork. Most of it was worthless, but I found a form that had her bank account number and routing number listed on it. Next to it she'd written her pin number. I closed the account out and managed to wind up with twelve hundred bits, which is a nice bonus, but not as exciting as all that. Twilight Sparkle had been right, not much in that account. What I'd noticed was that the format matched Mom's supposedly valuable papers but with an additional figure at the tail end which I took to be the balance at some arbitrary point in time. The third one from the top read five hundred and fifty million bits, the two above that were considerably more, but it was the five fifty that I'd recognized. That's where the grey unicorn had stopped the bidding.

Now I didn't know about money laundering or numbered accounts or what to do with them if you stumble upon them as I had, but I had an old friend of Mom's who did, never mind how, and after considerable research he told me what I had and what to do with it. With my initial hint he determined that half the list were sums confiscated by the government of Eagleland when they swept up all those bidders and coerced their various accounts and hidey holes out of them. The funds had subsequently gone missing but were known to have been shuffled around various accounts to make them impractical to trace. He did the same for me and then helped me to setup a series of corporations that I could entrust the money to who would follow my directives.

Mostly they were dedicated to doing good works. Fighting malaria, digging wells, educating the masses, providing pro-bono legal services, keeping the plutocrats in check and generally making the world better any way they could.

There was also a good contingent looking out for malevolent sorts with magical powers like Mom. By 'like' Mom, I also mean Mom in particular because she's still out there somewhere. The test with the inhibitor ring proved that the siren song was something other than a unicorn power.

I'd traced back my family tree and found that for generations back there had been an inordinate number of shipwrecks where ever the mares of the family went, but some of my ancestors, though it turned out we may have actually been Star Swirl's descendants, were not unicorns at all.

What that means is that both Princesses and the whole of Ponyville had been standing on a stage in front of a Siren Song who had not been defanged at all, even with her horn shattered.

Her magical powers were, in fact, nothing to brag about. She mostly acted like an earth pony though she could levitate things and do other minimal tasks if she needed to. That's why she'd trained her magically gifted daughter to be a living weapon in the first place. That swell of magical powers in my nightmares? Turns out it was my own. I'm not like a Twilight Sparkle over here, but I imagine I could take Rarity on and now I know a baker's dozen of spells with the flashy eye thing included. I'm sure she thought it was okay so long as she erased all the memories, but she'd gotten sloppy and all the meddling with my mind had strange, possibly subliminal consequences. The siren song, though, simply didn't need a horn at all, just the innate talent inherited down the maternal line and a voice.

So what did she do when she had Equestria's citizenry and very Godhead right in her grasp?

Nothing much and I have some ideas why. She stole money from criminals, they were evil and she could justify it as such. She stole the accounts of every bidder, but if she stole from criminals directly on the scale she did she'd be found out and hunted down. So she arranged to let them all be captured so she could steal it secondhoof from a big bloated bureaucracy that wasn't agile or inventive enough to catch her. I just think it wasn't enough of a challenge to have such easy and direct access to the very seat of power, no thrill in it.

The biggest and the oldest account had been in the same spot for a very long time and had never been withdrawn from. Mother hardly owned anything and wasn't interested in what she did own, so what good were bits to her? As far as I can tell she was just running up a score with no intention of ever using them, even though countries could be had for the balance she had at hoof. If she cared about bits she could have robbed the lot of us, taken over the country and gotten her accounts log back too. She plain didn't care about that because it was all just a game to her. Even the killings didn't seem to mean much. Because I knew her it's hard to see this clearly, but she was a sociopath. Completely mad and not in the smirk when you say it kind of way. Really very deeply disturbed and insane.

It's funny how the mind of a pony can hold two conflicting views at the same time. Normal Mom, Crazy Mom, same mare. That was an attribute of the siren song too. It would let you hold two conflicting ideas without a problem, so like everyone else I saw that Siren Song had been turned to stone to be hauled away to the Canterlot sculpture garden, but I also heard her last words, they were a song, some instructions and then she walked off the stage.

As the song died away she'd said, "Alright ponies, when the clock chimes one you're all going to know that I've been executed and taken away. 'Til then just stay still, except you, Sea Swirl, c'mon up here. Everypony see her? This is my daughter. I kind of bucked up her whole life so I mean to give her mine. The good parts anyway and that's you lot. All the good memories you have of me, it was her instead of me, alright? The stuff I did that you see as bad was still me and if she caused you all any trouble or owes you any money, that sort of thing, that was me too, okay? Now, Sea Swirl, all those stories I told you, it was you there instead of me, you should remember them clearly, I mean don't forget your real life but just...I don't know, figure it out and don't worry about it too much. Everyone in Ponyville's your friend now, so maybe things'll work out better for you. This is my way of saying I'm sorry. Now stand still for a minute." She grabbed my horn, took a sharp engraving blade and carefully and deeply scribed a message into the underside where I was sure to see it eventually, "...And that's for breaking off my bucking horn." Then she hugged me, nuzzled my face and sent me back to my spot in the crowd. She waved goodbye to Ponyville, kissed Princess Celestia on the lips and walked away.

One would be justified in wondering why I'm admitting to any of this and I guess it's time to fess up. All that money's out of my hooves and doing good works in the world. It had to be that way. I was scared of it and not decisive enough to have it for my own. I can't get it back and even if somepony decided they had a right to it the number of lawyers, accountants and mercenaries retained on staff would make that impractical. It would be hard to sue me for anything, I still have access to that stable of lawyers and all my personal dealings are wholly legal and above board.

Also Princess Celestia herself gave me a full pardon once I told her the entire story before the failed execution, though in truth I should have told her that Siren Song escaped so she didn't have to read it here. (Think of it, the Princess herself reading my book? I hope she's not too mad.) I did keep some money back, enough to buy a house, but I blew every bit of it on airship parts, paying Georgia, and getting us both to and from Ponyville and the Canterlot airship yards everyday while we were working on the refit. Wave Crest did a lot of the structural hull repair but Georgia and I took the balance as our own project.

Old Bray was set free, it being decided that he'd been under considerable duress and not wholly responsible for his actions. His plumage came in much better the second time around and when I saw him he appeared to be much happier and was engaged to a donkey half his age. Wings will do that for a fellow, they're pretty sexy, even on a donkey. I bought the carved doorframe and two gargoyles from the Cormorant, a pair of the engines from the Morningstar, none of which I managed a substantial discount on. Then, with Rarity's advisement on the fabrics and construction techniques, we had an appropriately sized white whale gasbag made up before I ran out of money.

Then I spent my book advance as well and while I should have been writing my next book about whales I was working on my airship and carousing (and canoodling) with a certain griffon. Bucking worth it, but I had to get a book out there, my publisher was hounding me so I figured what the hay. It's either this or sell the cabin in the mountains and I don't want to part with it before I finish the ship and fly it there at least once. If my machinations come to fruition I'm hoping to make a honeymoon trip of it. Don't tell, it's meant to be a surprise.

The thing is, though, that someday the Elements of Harmony are going to be used around Ponyville again, it's a fairly regular occurrence at this point, and everypony will be free from the siren song. I'd rather they find out now, from me that I'm not the mare they think I am. I haven't been here from the very start, at every party and in every crowd. I wasn't there when Twilight Sparkle first arrived or during Nightmare night. Neither did I try to trade my services for Grand Galloping Gala tickets or ride to the Crystal Empire along side the Cutie Mark Crusaders and all their animals (I would have done something more responsible than just watch that going on.) I'm being remembered in place of my Mom and in some cases, places where neither of us were, memories being so fallible as they are.

Oddly, even though I know I don't really, I remember being there too and I fondly remember all of you and I'm sorry that I wasn't. I've said a lot about being an introvert and enjoying my solitude, but I've found that a large measure of it was just denial, a cover for my loneliness.

Look, I like swimming in the ocean and I'll go back to visit it often, but I like Ponyville more and I'd like to stay here and even though I'm far from it, I'd like to play at being a normal pony for as long as I can.

I love you all and, if we could all just knowingly embrace a little lie that doesn't really hurt anyone, maybe you could love me too?

Truth for it's own sake is overrated. If anypony read this far I must hope that they understand and...

Maybe we could just go on pretending?

Author's Note:

Well...that was sort of a happy ending, wasn't it?
'Course the killer's still on the loose, so maybe it's a bit ambiguous.

The rasping voice of a killer said, "I have no plans to call on you, the world's more interesting with you in it. So you take care now to extend me the same courtesy."

"Um, yeah, I got guys for that anyway ya old biddy." Replied her daughter.

"Seriously? That's how you're going to blow my cash?" Siren song fumed, "You need to take that stick out of your plot and have some fun once in a while."

So, thanks for reading, I hope you've enjoyed it! If you did, tell your friends.

Updated the cover art, now it's a photoshopped over lighthouse pic I Googled up with a little bitty pony in the foreground.
I liked the one with Siren Song knifing her way through the canvas, but it was a bit busy...and cruddy, so this is better.

Comments ( 3 )


It is over.

But it is good.

I approve.

An excellent ending. Jolly good work.


I feel the same way too, at times, but equally vexing is the opposite problem. I've spent a considerable portion of my life trying to become a master of one particular discipline; Luthiery. The better I get at it the more I realize how hard it is to make a reasonable living at, (also I'm getting sick of it in it's current form) but now it's all I'm really good at and I face the prospect of starting over doing something else.

The tragic irony of he who is ambitious, determined, but ultimately misguided?

A cutie mark would have gone a considerable way towards clarifying what I should be doing without wasting a decade and a half at something else.
Then, I'm not remotely the same person I was when I would have gotten such a thing, which begs the question, would one want to be defined and categorized for life or would it breed resentment and rebellion?

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