The sirens' lives change completely after their defeat. But is this change good or bad? And will it drive them apart?
The sirens, defeated and powerless, find their only goal in life crushed. And now, stuck in the human world for the rest of their eternal lives, not only must they endure the burden of their punishment, but also bear with the remorse of their misdeeds and the fear of the future.
Will they be able to stick together like they've been until now, or will the torment of their past destroy thousands of years of partnership? Only time will tell. But what is time for immortal creatures, exactly?
If Adagio had to use a word to describe how she was feeling, it would be empty.
She could only stare at the Rainbooms, for they were the source of the wave of light that had momentarily blinded her. She felt warmth rising up at frightening speeds within her body, and a downpour of emotions weighed her down as she lost control of her power. She looked up again right after she recovered her vision. There, at the other side of the crowd, the Rainbooms were singing. Why are they still singing? She thought as one of them, whom she recognized as Sunset Shimmer, started to levitate and glow.
She heard her own voice lowering down to nothingness as the oppressive feeling of burning ants closed her throat and died upon the base of her tongue. Every time her lungs managed to get some air, she felt as if her chest was being ripped off and all the muscles in her body screamed in pain as the heat intensified.
A crescendo of voices reached her ears, and Adagio knew that it was the end of the song. She felt a small glimpse of hope. Had she - no - had they been spared? A smile tried to make its way onto her face, but as she looked up, her face turned into an expression of pure horror. An ethereal alicorn made of pure Equestrian magic and the size of a mountain was looking down directly at her eyes. His gaze was unreadable, but emanated so much power that Adagio thought she was staring at the sun. And in that moment, she realized what was about to happen.
Wait! I surrender!
But the words never reached her mouth, and in an instant, her world stopped. She could only see light around her; rays of every color imaginable surrounded her as she levitated in an endless space of nothingness. But it only lasted a second, and then the torture began.
She felt her whole body being crushed in on itself, and every single muscle and bone torn apart as her blood boiled in her veins, burning them from the inside out. It was as if the boiler of a steam train had fallen upon her, and the flames were consuming her from above the weight. She tried to scream, she wanted to scream out the agony she was experiencing, but her voice betrayed her, and she just could only mouth a long, silent gasp.
Her mind started to replay her whole life, but she could only see the bad things she had done. She was forced to watch all the unspeakable atrocities she did searching heed. Thousands of years passed through her mind in the blink of an eye, and just as she finally reached the past few days, she started to feel a pressure in her neck. She couldn't move to see, but then again, she didn't want to. She could feel her necklace being overpowered and obliterated with so much power that it felt like a hammer crushing a piece of porcelain.
And just like that, everything faded away; the pain, the memories, the magic, everything.
Adagio fell. She didn't know how long or how much, but she fell, and she met the ground with a loud thud. Her body shivered as a cold breeze met her, and she sighed heavily, trying to calm herself. She opened her eyes, and her heart stopped for a moment at what she saw.
There, on the ground, was her red gemstone. Shattered.
No… This can't be happening…
She took it with quivering hands and held it to her chest. Through her peripheral vision, she spotted Aria and Sonata, who seemed to be in the same predicament. They glanced at each other for a brief moment, then nodded in understanding. Their necklaces, the very core of their power, were broken, but they were still alive; they were still breathing and their hearts were still beating, so maybe, just maybe, there was at least a little bit of magic left in them.
And so they sang. It was the last song they used against the Rainbooms, the song that had almost given them the victory. But something was wrong. The lyrics were the same, the intonation, the rhythm, everything was the same, but it just didn't sound right. They looked at each other, only to get confused gazes in return.
They looked at the crowd just in time for the students to start throwing things at them and booing. Adagio immediately stopped singing and turned to her left, noticing that Sonata had done exactly the same, she only guessed that Aria was right behind her. And so they ran away as fast as they could.
"What is going on?" Sonata asked no one in particular, her voice trembling between pants of tiredness.
They had ran nonstop for two miles under the cold embrace of the night. The air proved to be mercilessly chilly, even on spring. Their lungs and throats burned from the physical effort, and Sonata specifically, being the weakest of the three, felt a headache building at the sides of her head.
Adagio looked up, meeting a three-story high house of dark blue bricks and white windows. The front yard glowed with a shade of blue under the moonlight, and the high bushes and crimson flowers gave it an eerie look. Adagio walked towards the front porch with her back arched to the front and her head hanging idly, and her arms fell freely at her sides while her chest moved heavily from the lack of air.
Aria stepped forward, with the remaining pain and growing tiredness slowing down her movements. "What do we do now, Adagio?!" She demanded, but her voice sounded more like a panicked whimper. But Adagio didn't seem to hear her, and just kept walking to the front door, looking like a lifeless puppet. "Adagio!" Aria forced her feet to drag her in front of Adagio, pushing her from the shoulder and intercepting her path. "Adagio! Don't ignore me, damn it!"
There was a moment of silence as Adagio slowly looked up. She gazed into Aria's eyes, and could feel the pain, the fear and the confusion that lingered in her mind and body, and she realized that she still felt them in herself. The corners of her mouth shivered and tears formed in her eyes as her breath became irregular once again.
Aria's eyes widened in surprise, unable to comprehend what was going on. And before she could even ask, Adagio pulled her in a tight embrace. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry." She repeated for a full minute, and each time, her voice lowered more and more until it turned into a whisper. And just as her voice became inaudible, her knees felt weak, and she fell to the ground, supporting her body with both hands.
Seeing that Aria was frozen in confusion, Sonata quickly reached Adagio's side, kneeling beside her and pulling her into a hug.
And the three girls stood there for the longest time, unmoving, as if time had stopped. Adagio and Sonata were fully crying, while Aria was choking back her tears, only to make it sound like someone was tearing away her breath. Minutes turned into hours as the weight of the day's events finally sank in their minds. But they didn't exchange a word, they knew each other well enough to know that any question had to wait until the next day. The only thing they needed to know at the moment was that they were still together, and only each other's company would keep them from breaking down.
It felt like the whole world imploded within Adagio's stomach, contracting her in ways she knew her body shouldn't be able to. A turmoil of colors of every hue blinded her and she went momentarily deaf. But before she could even think about what was going on, she fell, and it felt as if she had been thrown from a cliff. She screamed, but it only lasted a second before she landed with a loud thud.
Her body felt weird, and it sure wasn't because of the pain of her broken nose, though even that felt off. She opened her eyes and looked around. Giant pines covered in white layers of snow surrounded her. She blinked. Moments ago she had been in a city. Had Starswirl teleported her to the other side of the world?
The sound of small branches being crushed and a growl of pain sent a shiver through her body, and she could feel a smile forming in her face. At least she wasn't alone. She tried to stand up, but her tail didn't move as expected, and her hooves felt soft and squishy beneath her. She stumbled to the ground, meeting it with her face again. She groaned and tried to rub her nose with her foreleg, but she stopped when she saw a hand instead.
She screamed and threw back her body, hitting a pine with her back. Her heart stopped for a moment when she looked down, and then an even louder scream left her mouth. Her tail had disappeared, and instead she had two hind legs.
"Adagio! Adagio!" Sonata called frantically and her voice came closer to her.
Adagio instinctively pressed herself even more against the pine as the tall grass in front of her started to move. After three agonizing seconds, a… something appeared, crawling its way out of the grass. The thing looked at Adagio with confusion, fear and then concern. "Adagio?" It asked.
It sounded like Sonata. Adagio leaned a little forward to take a better look. Blue scales… No, they weren't scales. Fur? No, it didn't look furry either. Skin then. Yes, pale blue skin with a brown torso, pink eyes and… a mane? Yes, instead of fins, she had a light blue mane with dark blue tufts. It was Sonata, although as an animal she had never seen in her life, but Adagio could somehow tell that this creature was Sonata.
"S-Sonata? Is that really you?" Adagio asked cautiously.
Sonata's face lit up with a big smile. "It is you!" She said and began crawling towards Adagio, using only her arms to drag herself across the ground. "I'm so happy! I thought I was alone!" She said with tears forming in the corners of her eyes. Her arms were covered in dirt and stained with blood, but she didn't seem to care as she kept crawling until she got sufficiently near Adagio, managing to pull herself up to give her a hug.
Adagio complied, embracing Sonata and taking this opportunity to let her body relax a little. But it didn't last too long, as she pushed Sonata away and looked her right in the eyes. "Sonata, we must find Aria."
"But I can barely move!" Sonata whined. "I don't know how hind legs work!"
"Just think about it as two tails." A voice said, and both girls turned their heads. There, hanging desperately from the trunk of a pine, was Aria, with her legs bent in seemingly awkward positions, but she was standing.
"Aria!" Sonata yelled with joy, and tried to reach her to pull her into a hug, but she only fell to the ground again.
Adagio felt relieved as a small smile appeared on her face. She then turned around and used the trunk she had been resting on to help her stand up. It was a really weird sensation, but if she did as Aria suggested and imagined herself having two tails, she could actually start to move them. And before she knew it, she was fully standing, though she had to use the trunk as support. "Ok…" She said with a sigh. "Now that we're together, we need a plan."
"A plan?" Aria asked with an incredulous expression. "By the looks of it, Starswirl sent us to an alternate world! What can we possibly do now, Adagio?!"
"Think!" Adagio yelled, looking at Sonata, who was slowly standing up with the help of a nearby trunk. "If Starswirl really did send us to an alternate world, then it means there must be a way to return." She sighed, and her breath came out shivery. "But first, we need to get a shelter." Her stomach growled, and she absentmindedly put a hand on it, noticing a rough texture against it. "And food."
Aria was about to complain again, but Sonata interrupted her with a loud and endless scream. "BEAR!" She yelled and fell backwards, landing on a bush. Aria and Adagio turned to what Sonata tried to point out. There, barely a yard away, was what seemed like a bear, but looking a little closer, that fear vanished.
It was an animal like them, but its mane was shorter and gray, and it had fur on its face and the rest of its body. Its skin was a light shade of brown that almost combined with its torso. Aria sighed and frowned at Sonata. "It's not a bear, idiot!" She yelled.
"What is this that I see?" A masculine voice came from the animal. Adagio could see his green eyes tiredly widening. "Are ye lasses alright?"
"No!" Sonata whined. "My everything hurts!"
Adagio sighed as her mind quickly made up a plan. "I'm sorry, but we're lost. We're tired and hungry and freezing; we can't even walk properly because of that." She lied, analyzing his reaction, and fortunately, he not only seemed to buy it, but his eyes revealed a compassionate gaze. "If it is within your heart to help me and my sisters, we would greatly appreciate it."
The man stepped further. "Of course! My cottage isn't far from here. Ah, the name's Wooden Flex." He said, offering a hand to Adagio.
She took his hand and tentatively stepped away from the trunk, slowly finding her own balance. When she was sure she wouldn't fall, she smiled at the man. "Thank you. My name is Adagio, and these are my sisters: Aria and Sonata." She said, pointing at each of them. Aria was clumsily making her way to them, while Sonata was still lying on the bush.
Wooden nodded and walked towards Sonata. "Ye need a hand?" He said, showing her his hand.
Sonata looked at him, first with fear, but her expression slowly turned into a small smile. "Uhm, can you carry me?"
"Walk by yourself, Sonata!" Aria yelled.
"It's no problem." Wooden said and softly lifted Sonata from the ground. "Ye said yer tired and hungry. I can't ignore lasses in plight." And with that, he turned around and started to walk away. "Just follow me."
Aria and Adagio nodded. Fortunately for them, the trees were really close from each other, so they could support themselves on them, and after a couple of minutes of using the man as reference, they were finally able to walk properly.
As per Sonata's request, Wooden was happily telling her about all the kinds of trees he knew about, and the wood he could obtain from them and the things he could make from that wood. Since he was being really noisy, Aria decided that it was the best moment to approach Adagio. "So… Sisters?" She asked, making sure that Wooden didn't hear her.
Adagio huffed. "It's the first thing that occurred to me."
"Why don't we sing, Adagio?" Aria asked with a frown. "We could just get him to tell us everything we need and-"
"Shut up." Adagio said. "I don't even know if we still have magic." Aria's eyes widened in horror at that, and Adagio herself felt her stomach twisting at the thought. "So, instead of risking, I've made a plan." She turned to Aria and smiled deviously. "We'll sing as a reward for helping us. Thus, even in the worst scenario, we won't risk to let them know what we really are."
Aria grimaced. "I hope we still have magic."
They went silent after that, just listening to Wooden rambling about his job as a lumberjack and carpenter. Fortunately, his cottage wasn't too far away. It was a small house made of dry trunks, and the windows were made of wooden planks. And just at the thought of finally getting a shelter, Adagio could feel the weariness of her body, and her legs started to shiver more of tiredness than of coldness.
Wooden Flex opened the door with his shoulder and entered. "I'm home!" He yelled and proceeded to take Sonata to a couch, where she thanked him softly, falling asleep immediately. Adagio and Aria entered the house shortly after, already feeling better thanks to the comfy and warm interior.
Another one of the strange animals came into view. This one was shorter than Wooden, with longer hair of the same color. Adagio narrowed her eyes. For some reason, it looked like a female. She sighed, deciding to learn to differentiate them later. The woman looked at them with a confused gaze. "Who are they?"
Wooden smiled at her. "I found them lasses in the middle of the forest. They just need warm food and beds."
"We are planning to repay your hospitality, ma'am." Adagio said.
The woman smiled at her. "Well, aren't ye a classy lass. Of course ye can stay. The name's Sweet Spoon."
"Thank you, ma'am. I'm Adagio, and these are Aria and Sonata."
Sweet Spoon sat on an armchair and motioned the girls to do the same while Wooden Flex disappeared upstairs. "Before I serve food, I'd like to know more about ye."
Aria inhaled sharply, and Adagio decided to speak before Aria said something regrettable. "We are traveling minstrels…" She said, watching through the corner of her eye the smile growing in Aria's face. "We got lost in the woods trying to get to the next town."
"Oh, how wonderful!" Sweet Spoon declared. "Would ye mind reciting a poem of ye travels?"
Adagio frowned slightly. "We'd love to, but we're really hungry…"
Sweet Spoon stood up immediately. "Well, let's fix that!" And with that, she disappeared to what Adagio assumed was the kitchen.
Aria took the opportunity to speak to Adagio. "Why don't we sing already?"
Adagio gave her an annoyed look. "Food first, Aria. Besides, we need both of them to listen." She crossed her arms. "I don't know if we have enough energy, even if we can use magic. We better go for the safe path."
"So… A lull spell?"
Adagio nodded. "Yes. That should cover any possible failure." She then turned around and moved Sonata from the shoulder. "Wake up, bird brain."
Sonata moaned and looked at Adagio. "Is it food time already?"
"For once, yes." Adagio replied. "We'll eat. And then use a lull spell, so prepare your voice."
Sonata nodded and sat up just as Sweet Spoon returned with five wooden bowls stacked upon each other, using a hand to carry two and the other to carry three. "I must apologize. We only have oats left. But worry not, for tomorrow we'll go buy groceries." She said as she passed a bowl to each girl, just as Wooden Flex returned.
"Oh! I love oats!" Sonata exclaimed, almost burying her face on her bowl and eating like a wild animal.
Adagio turned to Sweet Spoon and Wooden Flex with an apologetic smile. "You'll have to excuse her, she's an idiot."
Wooden chuckled loudly. "Don't apologize, lass. She reminds me of my own girl! Only blue."
Sweet Spoon let out a soft chuckle as she gave him a bowl. "I must admit, ye certainly are quite beautiful lasses to be minstrels."
Adagio forced a chuckle. "Well, we love to sing." She turned to Aria for support, but she was busy eating her oaths and ignoring the world around her. "And… We love to meet new places."
"That sounds like ye have interesting lives." Wooden said, sitting right next to his spouse. "I bet ye have all sorts of stories to tell."
Sweet Spoon nodded in agreement. "They promised to recite something after supper."
Adagio smiled. "Of course. And I know you'll love it."
After that, they all went silent. Wooden Flex and Sweet Spoon let their guests eat peacefully, and Adagio used the time to plan strategies and ponder her situation. Sonata was the first to finish her food, smiling satisfied and rubbing her stomach. "That was delicious!"
"I am glad ye enjoyed it." Sweet Spoon answered with a proud grin. "If ye don't mind me asking… Where did ye get those beautiful necklaces?"
"Necklaces?" Adagio asked and almost immediately looked down, taking her hand to the hidden object to pull it a little so she could see it. Her eyes widened in surprise, and then joy.
"Our cores!" Aria shouted. "How did I not notice them?!" Even Sonata let out a squeal of happiness.
Wooden Flex tilted his head. "Cores?"
Adagio looked at him with a nervous smile and waved her hand dismissively. "Oh, that's the name of our gems! We… uhh… we thought someone stole them last night!" Wooden nodded in understanding. Adagio felt chills going down her spine. If they had their cores, even in the form of gemstones, then it meant that they did have magic. She smiled deviously. "So, how about we recite something for our hosts?" She said.
Aria and Sonata nodded and closed their eyes. They started to hum an A in complete synchrony, their voices complementing each other beautifully. Adagio stood up and started to walk around the couple, looking intently at them.
Three traveling minstrels, coming from a land far, far away,
Seeking for answers, that's what we are doing here,
Adagio could hear her own voice, and even if she was just talking, she could feel the harmonic notes coming from her mouth. She tenderly and slowly caressed their heads with her hand, feeling their bodies relaxing. She smiled, rounding Sweet Spoon and kneeling, lifting her hand and caressing the palm with a finger. Sweet Spoon narrowed her eyes while producing a silly smile.
We would greatly appreciate it if you told us everything you know,
And maybe provide with food and room for three.
Adagio's smiled grew a little more, and she stood up, only to position herself in front of Wooden Flex and looking directly at his eyes. Aria and Sonata kept humming lowly, their voices echoing through the house with ease. Adagio showed her teeth in a smug expression, slowly stroking her index finger across his chest.
You will do that much for us, because you know it's the right thing to do,
And you will feel relaxed, satisfied and free.
Wooden and Sweet Spoon nodded at the same time, both with absorbed gazes and silly grins.
Just then, Aria and Sonata stopped humming, and the environment became silent, even more than before, as if it was some sort of aftereffect of the spell. Adagio then felt her chest become heavy and her stomach become hollow. Sweat started to form on her forehead and a little migraine tried to make its way up from the base of her skull.
She inhaled sharply and sighed heavily, and then looked at the couple. She smiled relieved, seeing how they were still under the spell. "Now, I'm pretty sure you like to tell stories." The couple only nodded. "Well, how about you tell us the story of your world?"
"Just, what are you?" Sonata asked. Adagio frowned and was about to snap at her, but Sweet Spoon interrupted her.
"Humans." She said in a whisper.
Adagio only scowled at Sonata, but decided to ignore her for the time being. "If you don't mind… Please tell us everything about you humans…"
Long hours passed while both Sweet Spoon and Wooden Flex introduced the sirens to the human world. They told them everything they knew. They told them about the town they lived in, about the kingdom, about other kingdoms. They didn't leave anything out, completely willing to comply with their request.
When Adagio was satisfied with the information, she leaned back and smiled. "Thank you very much, you've been very helpful. Now, I believe you are very tired. Why don't you both go to bed? I'm pretty sure tomorrow you'll wake up full of energy, and having forgotten this little talk."
The couple nodded and obliged. They walked slowly, feeling really tired, just as Adagio had 'pointed out'. When they were out of sight, Adagio stood up with a small frown and turned to her fellow sirens.
"Now what?" Aria asked. "They didn't tell us how to return to Equestria."
"Yeah… And I feel… odd." Sonata admitted. "Like I'm hungry, but not really…"
Adagio locked her eyes upon Sonata and her frown deepened. "Sonata." She said softly.
Adagio moved quickly, and she slapped Sonata with all her might, sending the girl to the floor with a loud thud. Aria flinched and made a little jump backwards as her eyes widened in surprise. Sonata moaned in pain as she tried to lift her upper body. "Why was that?" She cried as her eyes met Adagio's enraged stare.
Adagio leaned down and grabbed Sonata from her robe -now that she knew its name- and pulled her closer. "Listen to me, and listen carefully." She hissed in a low and dangerous tone. "Next time you speak out of turn before, during or after a lull spell, I will personally shatter your core. Understood?" Sonata gaped for a moment and then nodded slowly.
Adagio dropped her and turned to Aria, but she spoke to both girls. "We can still do magic, but our energy is very low, and I have the feeling that we can't get too much." She circled Aria and turned around, so she could face both girls. "We'll have to settle for lull spells for the time being until we obtain more energy. And as you know, lull spells are weak and easy to fail." Her eyes met Sonata's, and she injected her next words with a warning venom that made the girl shiver in fear. "And we don't want anyone to break our spells because we failed to keep them concentrated, now do we?"
Sonata quickly shook her head, and Aria only remained silent. "Good," Adagio said, "now, we'll get a good night's rest. Tomorrow we'll head to the town square. I have a plan."
Adagio slowly opened her eyes, meeting the all too familiar sight of white ceiling. She shifted uncomfortably beneath the yellowish-white sheets, feeling her body heavy and sore. She wanted to stand up, but her mind started to spin around wildly, and she easily gave up.
She remembered that last night, after her little breakdown, the three of them entered the house and, without saying a single word, each went to their own room. Adagio had been so tired that she even shrugged off the fact that she was still wearing the attire she had used at the battle, and she just tucked herself in and quickly drifted off to sleep.
A throbbing pain at the base of her throat made her grit her teeth. She thoughtlessly took a hand to grab her core, only to find nothing. The memory of the red gemstone being shattered in her hands replayed in her mind, and it made her heart ache as a migraine started to press at the sides of her head.
Tears quickly formed in her eyes and made their way through her cheeks, wetting the pillow below. She sobbed, feeling empty inside, as if someone had taken one of her organs out of her. She felt hollow, as if she couldn't remember her own face, or the face of her fellow sirens. And she felt dull, as if the world had lost all of its colors.
Her sobs quickly turned into moans, and almost immediately, she found herself screaming. She screamed because she had lost her core; she had lost her magic; she had lost a part of herself; she had lost her last hope to return home; she had lost her voice.
Her screams increased as the pain that was bottled inside her forced its way out. It felt like someone was flaying her alive, only instead of skin, it was her soul being ripped off. She didn't care if the girls saw her. She couldn't care less anymore. The pain was too great for her to bear, too great to try hiding it. She screamed until she couldn't scream anymore, until she lost her voice.
Not that she cared anymore. For she had lost her only reason to live.
Aria woke up with a heavy sigh. She was perfectly tucked, with only her head showing from the light green blankets. It was odd, given that she moved so much while sleeping that she always tangled herself beneath them, forcing her to struggle every morning to get out of bed.
She sat up and took a hand to her neck. She had expected it to have been a horrible nightmare, or an illusion, or something else. Her fingers trailed down her neck to her collarbone, resting her hand on her chest. It had happened for real. They lost their cores, their magic, and their voices.
She scrunched her nose as tears threatened to form in her eyes. She felt an oppressive pressure in her throat, as if someone was trying to choke her. Her heart throbbed furiously at the angst she was experiencing, and her limbs shivered as if she was trapped in a freezer.
Deciding that she had to remain strong, she took a deep breath, and even when her lungs were at full capacity, she kept inhaling, and when she couldn't get any more air, she sighed it all out. A small headache appeared at the left side of her forehead, and she could feel her left eye starting to beat along with her heart. But she ignored it, turning around and getting off her bed.
Last night, they silently agreed to just go to bed, so now it was time to move again, to make more plans. And much to her disapproval, it was Adagio who always came up with the plans. For some reason, she had the vague idea that Adagio might have been crying, though it probably was a dream she had, because it sounded more like she was being killed.
But, just as she opened the door of her room, the scent of food caught her senses. She sniffed, and her stomach growled happily when she recognized the smell of hotcakes and scrambled eggs with ham and bacon. It didn't take her more than half a second to decide that breakfast was on top of her to-do list right now, so she eagerly walked downstairs and headed to the kitchen.
There is a moment in the life of every sentient being when their mind just doesn't connect the dots, and even the most mundane, common, and habitual things come as a surprise. Aria knew that very well, what with having lived so many centuries. And this was one of those times. When she arrived at the kitchen, she found the food served and ready on the table; three servings of hotcakes, scrambled eggs with ham and bacon, and orange juice. At the other side of the room, Sonata was doing the dishes.
Aria hadn't thought about breakfast being served, but now she wondered why she didn't think about it a few minutes earlier. Sonata was up and doing things as if the events of last night hadn't occurred at all. It almost made Aria think for just a second that it was all a dream, but the burning sensation at the base of her throat said otherwise.
She frowned and turned her hands into fists. "What are you doing?"
Sonata jumped a little at that, but quickly relaxed and smiled at Aria. "Oh, good morning! I made breakfast! I thought of doing eggs Benedict, but you don't like those, and then I thought of doing Croque Madame, but Adagio doesn't like those, and then I thought of doing Deviled Eggs, but I don't like those, and then-"
"Shut-Shut up." Aria interrupted her, massaging her temples in annoyance. "I'll never understand your obsession for always having eggs in some form as breakfast-don't! Don't do it." She said, showing her palm to Sonata as she tried to reply. The least thing she wanted right now was to add thirty more minutes to the countless amount of time she'd wasted listening to Sonata rambling about it.
Aria let out a heavy sigh and then looked at Sonata again. "What I meant to ask is: Why are you up making breakfast as if nothing happened?"
Sonata grimaced and turned around, unconsciously taking her hand to her neck and tiredly rubbing her fingers to her collarbone. "Because… Because we need to eat, or else we'll starve…" Her eyes moved from side to side, and she was thankful that Aria couldn't see her face as tears started to form in the corner of her eyes. "And we… we need energy to, you know… follow Adagio's plan..."
Aria raised an eyebrow. "I thought she was still asleep."
Sonata shook her head. "I'm pretty sure she's awake." Aria narrowed her eyes, making Sonata lower her head. "I… passed by her room when coming to the kitchen… And she was…" She looked away and pressed her lips. Fortunately, she didn't have to finish her sentence, because Aria understood right away, turning around and walking away.
She easily made her way to Adagio's room and knocked the door. There wasn't a response. She didn't know exactly what she was going to do, but she knew that she had to speak to Adagio that very moment. She knocked again, only to meet silence once more. Frowning, she decided that two times was enough and opened the door, slowly pulling her head into the room.
The room was impeccable as always, but too bare for Aria's liking. While she painted the walls of her own room in dark pink with purple decorations, Adagio had kept her walls all white. While she had gotten a very expensive dossal for her bed with curtains made of silk, Adagio slept in a brass bed with no decorations other than the heart shape of its frame.
Aria took a tentative step into the room, gazing at the lump beneath the yellowish-white blankets and the orange hair coming out of it. "What do you want?" Adagio asked with a lazy voice, though Aria could notice the emotions that she tried to hide: frustration, sadness, anger and despair.
"Breakfast is served." Was the only thing Aria said.
Adagio grumbled and moved, probably rolling to the side so she'd show her back to Aria. "I don't want it."
"You sure?" Aria asked, crossing her arms. "You know how insufferable Sonata gets when you don't eat properly."
"Sonata can go throw herself from a cliff, for all I care."
"And put up with her whines and cries for a month? No, thank you."
At that, Adagio rolled over and pushed away the blankets, staring at Aria with bloodshot eyes. "What do you want?"
Maybe it was from centuries upon centuries of practice, but Aria could hold her stoic expression, even though she was really surprised seeing Adagio looking so… miserable. "Breakfast is served."
Adagio narrowed her eyes. "Leave me alone." She said and covered herself again with the blankets.
Aria let out a heavy sigh of annoyance. "So this is it? The almighty Adagio Dazzle has finally given up?" Adagio growled a warning, but Aria ignored her. "What are you trying to achieve? Starvation? You'll only end up weak with a horrible headache."
"So what if I want to die?" Adagio snapped, but didn't lift the blankets. "Why do you care?"
Aria's eyes widened in horror at that, and she felt her heart beating faster. She inhaled deeply, trying to calm herself, before she spoke again. "Don't be stupid," She said, failing to hide her concern, "we can't die."
"We've never tried suicide."
With one smooth swing, Aria punched with all her strength right where she knew Adagio's face was. She heard -and felt- a loud crack before Adagio screamed in pain, rolling a few times before falling to the floor.
"You bitch!" Adagio yelled, standing up with a hand covering her nose, although the blood easily flowed through her fingers. "I'll flay you alive, I swear!"
"Exactly! That's the Adagio I know!" Aria replied with an infuriated gaze. "The girl who always stands up after falling! The girl who always makes a plan even in the direst of situations! Not the pathetic piece of trash that feels sorry for herself!"
"What do you want from me?!" Adagio asked, tears already running through her cheeks. "We lost our magic! Our voices! Everything! All because of me!" Aria leaned back a little as her expression showed surprise. Adagio fell on her knees, sobbing and still trying to choke back her tears. "You should hate me! Why don't you hate me?!"
"I will if you keep crying like a stupid foal!" Aria snapped. "You should be up, saying that we can get over this, or that you have a plan. You always have plans, Adagio!" She cried, feeling her eyes watering. "Heck, even Sonata is up, cooking for the three of us!" She started to circle the bed, walking towards Adagio. "Sonata! The crybaby! Just because she believes that you have a plan!"
She stopped mere inches away from Adagio, who looked up with a dumbfounded expression. "I failed you…" She said, and her voice quivered with angst. "One too many times already…"
Aria gritted her teeth. "Then you have to make up for it!" She stepped back, doing her best to glare daggers at Adagio. "But if you really want to remain here feeling sorry for yourself, then fine! Sonata and I will figure out something, with or without you!" And with that, she turned around and walked away.
She wasn't too surprised when she found Sonata at the other side of the door. She didn't even bother to look at her face, for she knew that she was crying too. We all are crybabies. She thought, and then grabbed Sonata by the arm. "Come on, let's have breakfast."
Sonata didn't respond. She just let Aria drag her downstairs.
Aria was idly munching a roasted chicken leg. The few people passing by gave her odd looks, but she just ignored them. She was supposed to act like the stereotype of a lady to avoid suspicions, but she just didn't want to. Adagio and Sonata could easily pretend to be respectable parts of the society, but not Aria. She didn't care for appearances or going unnoticed, her only concern was to stay well fed and hydrated.
Well, she also had to collect negative energy from people.
They hadn't been able to feed since their arrival in this world a week ago. Their magic wasn't strong enough to make a small town where everyone knew everyone fight against each other. So, following Adagio's plan, they had been gathering information about everyone, often singing at the town square, casting lull spells to make people like them enough to tell them what they needed to know.
Normal food and long nights of rest helped them naturally regain enough energy to keep casting lull spells, but it was really frustrating. The first two nights, she had to scream in her pillow for minutes to be able to sleep.
Aside from gathering information, they also had been 'filing the legs of the table', as Adagio so cleverly put it. Though she would never understand why Adagio loved to analogize everything, at least, not in a way that Sonata gould ever get it, making Adagio explain it to her, thus making said analogy unfunny.
Aria huffed at an old lady, who had been scowling at her unladylike mannerisms. Adagio then punched her in the shoulder. "Hey! Why did you do that?"
"We need people mad at each other," Adagio hissed, "not at us!"
Aria rubbed her shoulder and tried to make a hole in Adagio's face using only her gaze. She was about to reply when Sonata came jogging up to her. "It's done!" She said upon her arrival, making Aria smile a little in anticipation.
Today was the day when they'd finally feed. Adagio and Aria were sitting in the big fountain at the very center of the town while Sonata went to do something Adagio had asked her to do. Aria hadn't paid attention to it, since she was busy buying her chicken. Not that it mattered anyway. It had something to do with 'triggering a fight', so it would be easy to spot.
"Good." Adagio said, and Sonata almost squeaked, if not because Adagio interrupted her. "Now it's just a matter of time. Get ready, girls."
Aria kept eating her chicken leg, looking in the same direction the girls were. But just as she was swallowing, the show began.
Wooden Flex -the lumberjack of the town- appeared from a corner, carrying a wheelbarrow with a really big stack of dried lumber. He happily went down the road to the smithy, whistling a tune only he knew. But just when he was a few yards away, the wheelbarrow started to wobble until the wheel yielded with a loud crack.
What happened next could only be described as the stars aligning in the siren's favor.
Adagio's plan consisted solely in Sonata loosening the screws of the wheelbarrow, so it would fall apart with all the lumber in it. Then Wooden would start blaming people and hopefully a fight would start.
But the wheelbarrow happened to fall apart in a downhill section of the road. Therefore, the pieces of wood started to roll freely, gaining speed and strength with each passing moment. One of them hit a small rock, shooting to the sky and falling on a stand of fresh fruit. With the force of the impact, the stand fell on itself, and the wooden plank that provided the fruit with shadow somehow fell on the vegetables' stand right next to it, making some lettuces jump to the passing people.
Meanwhile, another piece of lumber made its way to the ceramics shop, coincidentally crashing against the big clay pot, which fell on the immense shelf. The shelf fell apart, and the countless clay pots on it fell with it, smashing to pieces on the floor.
And finally, as if that wasn't enough, to Aria's amusement one last piece of lumber collided with the old woman that had been pestering her for the last ten minutes. It didn't do much to the surprisingly strong elder, but there was a really serious social rule about respecting old people.
When the pile of lumber finally reached the end of the slope, silence reigned the town for a full minute.
All the eyes fell upon Wooden Flex, who went pale from what he had seemingly caused. He stood up, unable to mutter a single word or even to move. The man attending the fruit stand, a seven-foot-tall man with a really bad temper, approached him, yelling all sorts of curses and insults.
With him joined the owner of the ceramic shop, an old man that used to be in the militia, and his twenty-year-old son who was going to join the militia. Wooden tried to defend himself, saying that someone had sabotaged his wheelbarrow, having the bright idea to blame the blacksmith -a man well versed in the art of handling a knife.
Then, a green mist started to form around them, and Aria smiled hungrily. It was a good thing that only sirens seemed able to see the mist, because even if those people were really mad at each other, they'd notice.
Only a minute passed, and already fifty people were yelling at each other. But what amused Aria the most was that most of those people were arguing over things that didn't have to do with the incident moments ago. They were just using this opportunity to let out their anger against each other; anger that the sirens had indirectly triggered in the course of a week.
The mist grew thicker with each passing moment, and Aria could feel her legs shivering in mild anticipation. Never in her life had she been so desperate to feed. She wanted to run through the crowd and absorb that energy, she needed to. But a small voice in her head, the rational one (which was still there for some reason) stopped her. If she did that, she'd get caught in the middle of the fight, and it certainly wasn't worth the risk of getting seriously injured, at least not now that they were beating each other up.
They waited for almost an hour until the townsfolk stopped fighting and went back to their respective homes. It was midday, but the town was as silent as a graveyard, and not a person could be seen. With a motion of Adagio's hand, Aria jumped from the fountain and walked into the mist.
She didn't run or jog, no, she walked. She walked alongside her fellow sirens, enjoying the vibrations of her core as she got closer. The mist started to move and lift, slowly floating towards the girls. Aria felt a sudden rush of pleasure run through her entire body as her core started to absorb the energy. She was thrilled, letting out a heavy sigh at the filling. They stopped in the middle of the mist, and Aria accepted with open arms the cold embrace of negative energy. She was surrounded by ecstasies, and every fiber of her being shivered in delight.
It only took them ten seconds to absorb the mist, but it had felt like a blissful eternity. It felt almost like the very first time she had fed. Her mind was filled with joy, and her whole body was numb because of the relaxation. It almost made her lie down for a moment and just enjoy the feeling.
Aria opened her eyes and sighed satisfied. "Finally…" She whispered.
Sonata nodded in agreement and Adagio only crossed her arms with pride. "I told you it would be worth the wait. From now on we'll be able to feed everyday." She turned around, gazing at the broken stands. "At least for now. We'll have to move on to another, bigger town when we get more power."
Aria closed her eyes for a moment. "I thought they were going to kill each other. Humans seem a lot more violent than any Equestrian."
"Save for dragons." Sonata said.
"Or minotaurs." Adagio admitted.
Aria rolled her eyes, but couldn't help but giggle. The amount of energy she had absorbed was by far the smallest and most disappointing in her life, but after a week of absence, she wasn't going to complain. And it seemed like Sonata and Adagio felt the same way.
"Well, what now?" Aria asked. "I wouldn't mind doing nothing for the rest of the day."
Just as she pronounced that last word, she felt a sudden pain in her chest. She saw how Adagio and Sonata's expressions slowly became horrified. She tried to take her hand to her chest, but her arm felt weak and numb. A bubbling sensation formed in her throat, and it felt like she had drank the spiciest hot sauce in existence. She gritted her teeth and forced her head to look down. Her own eyes widened in horror, and she could feel her heart stopping for just a moment.
There was a blade covered in crimson liquid coming out from her chest. She attempted to scream, but only a silent gasp left her mouth.
"Ye won't do anything anymore." A low voice hissed from behind. Aria wanted to turn around, but she felt her whole body grow weak. Her world darkened with frightening speed, and all the air left her lungs. The pain was also disappearing, and she knew that that wasn't a good sign. "Return to hell, demon." She heard, but it seemed like a distant and muffled echo.
She felt the blade being quickly dragged out of her body. It didn't hurt, it felt more like someone had thrown a bucket of ice water at her chest, but even that vanished quickly. She fell, and in the process lost every sense of orientation. Ignoring the fact that she was already on the ground, she felt like she was levitating against her will, like she was being carried by some incorporeal force.
Amidst the darkness, she heard a harrowing scream in the distance. Then, she only heard silence as consciousness finally left her body.
"Ye won't do anything anymore." Said the cloaked man, injecting his words with venom. "Return to hell, demon." With one smooth motion, he pulled his sword, and Aria fell with a thud, immobile.
Adagio stared terrified at the man, and she knew that he was smiling deviously. "You… You…"
"You killed Aria!" Sonata screamed, falling to her knees and staring at Aria's lifeless body.
The man chuckled, arching his back in a prideful gesture. "And ye'll be next!" He challenged, lifting his sword and aiming it at Sonata. "May this blessed sword purify this world from evil!" He raised the weapon above his head and gave a strong swing.
But Adagio moved faster, pulling Sonata away just in time to avoid the whole blade. Even so, it still amde a long -although fortunately shallow- cut along her chest. Sonata cried, and the man only chuckled a bit more. "Why?!" Adagio demanded.
"Ye ask why?" The man said, lifting his sword again. "Ye are demons, wishing for nothing but destruction! I knew since I saw ye a week ago! Ye are not from this world! Ye brought nothing but conflict amongst this ever so peaceful town! I knew!"
Adagio gritted her teeth. She wanted to sing, to force him to go away. But she didn't have enough energy, not even the three of them would have been enough, and a lull spell wouldn't work. "And today ye committed ye biggest mistake! I saw! I saw! Ye relished on the fight ye caused! I know!"
Adagio closed her eyes and hung her head. Was this really the end? Was she going to die so pathetically? The thought of running away crossed briefly her mind, but she ignored it. She wasn't going to abandon her fellow sirens, especially now that one of them lay dead mere inches away from her, and the other one was wounded and bleeding. She could try to reason with this man, but she knew that he wouldn't listen.
Maybe she could distract him and help Sonata flee. But would it work? She was going to die, that much was a fact, so she wasn't going to be able to know if Sonata would be ok. Would the man give chase? Would she be fine on her own? Adagio grimaced. It was worth the risk. One of the only two beings she ever cared about had been mercilessly murdered in front of her. She wasn't going to watch another walk the same path.
Just as she finished her inner discussion, Sonata started to scream. But unlike anything she had heard before, it was a guttural scream, filled with pain and hatred. She looked up just in time to see Sonata collide with the man, throwing him to the ground. The man was not prepared, and he accidentally dropped his sword. Sonata didn't let him react, and she closed her hands against his neck, perforating his skin with her long nails. She kept screaming as tears flowed freely.
The man started to punch Sonata in the face, but due to his position and angle, it wasn't enough to make the infuriated girl stop. In fact, it only made her press with more force and scream louder. She didn't stop when he started to choke on his own saliva and blood. She didn't stop when his arms fell to the ground. She didn't stop, not even when his eyes rolled up, and his head fell to the side, lifeless.
She only stopped when Adagio put a hand on her shoulder. Sonata snapped out of it, and stared horrified at what she had done. Her arms started to shake, and she quickly turned around and hugged Adagio, crying loudly against her chest. Adagio complied, pulling Sonata into the most sincere show of care since she could remember.
They stood there for a very long time. Adagio thought that someone would come running right after hearing Sonata's screams, but no one showed up. She wanted to care about it, to know why these humans ignored everything around them when they were mad. But she just couldn't care less. She tightened the hug for a very brief moment, and with a heavy sigh, she forced her muscles to relax, ending the embrace.
Sonata whimpered, but didn't say anything, opting for embracing herself instead. "This can't be happening…" She muttered under her breath.
Adagio eyed the red line across Sonata's chest before looking at her face. She felt a chill run through her spine at the sight of the girl. Her left eye was narrowed, surrounded by a blackish purple and green bruise with little red marks covering her cheekbone. She couldn't help but see Sonata in another light after what she had just witnessed.
She sighed and kneeled next to Aria's body, her heart throbbing painfully against her chest. She gently pushed Aria to roll the body over, so she could see her face. Her heart stopped for a moment and then she felt as if it twisted with every beat.
For a reason she had yet to know, Adagio had always known that sirens were able to leave for thousands upon thousands of years. Perhaps their likeness to dragons was something more than that, or maybe it had to do with how sirens were born. But she had never paid it too much attention. At least, not until that moment, when a siren lay dead in front of her. Adagio gritted her teeth in grief. Why had she been forced to learn that sirens could be killed in the hardest and most unfair way?
She reached a hand to Aria's face and slowly closed her eyes with two fingers, gently dragging them down her face, feeling her hand shiver with fear and angst. Her eyes then drifted to the necklace around Aria's neck.
Her core… Adagio thought, looking intently at how the gemstone shimmered beneath the sunlight. She absentmindedly put her fingers on it. It's… warm… Then, she could feel a pulse against her fingertips, as if it was a heartbeat. At first she ignored it, thinking that it was her imagination, but the more time she spent like that, the more real it felt.
She felt a spark, and then the warmth ran throughout her arm, searching for her own core. Adagio flinched, then leaned back. She blinked, staring at Aria's core for the longest time. "Sona-" Finding her voice hoarse, she interrupted herself and cleared her throat. "Sonata, I know you're hurt, but I need you to do something important."
Sonata whimpered an agreement. "Go to the stables. I don't care how you do it, but get a carriage. I'll wait for you here."
"But…" Sonata said, shifting in her place. "Aria…"
Adagio bit her lower lip, and then let out a heavy sigh. "Don't worry about Aria…" She said, and then placed her fingers again on Aria's core. A small smile appeared on her face. "She's alive."
Aria felt warm and cold at the same time; sometimes she'd feel light as a feather, and the next she'd feel heavy as a boulder. At times, the darkness around her would be invaded by a dim light, and she would hear muffled voices. She couldn't tell what they were saying, or even if they were calm or anxious, for they were only voices.
Not that she cared, because couldn't recall any of those times. They were so ephemeral that her mind would mistake them as dreams, and therefore she wouldn't pay them any attention. Every sound, every sight, and every sensation would come and go, and she wouldn't care about any of them, because they didn't bother her, because they didn't wake her up.
But then, a strange sound appeared. At first it seemed like the others, but this one persisted, and with time, it grew louder. She recognized it as the rattling of wooden wheels and the clopping of a horse. Then, she heard the squeaky sound of wood and metal moving against each other. She found these sounds to be somewhat relaxing, and she wanted to keep sleeping, to remain in her comfortable state of nothingness.
But, try as she might, she found herself unable to do it. It was like waking up in the middle of a really good dream, and then cursing everything because it was impossible to remember, and therefore, to dream about it again. At least, she thought, the sound was still there, and it was pleasantly lulling.
Then, she felt a sudden, stinging pain in her chest. She hissed, feeling her brows frowning. The pain disappeared moments later, but the ghostly sensation of something against her chest was bothering her. Her eyelids started to move on their own, opening ever so slowly and letting her see the world once again.
At first, everything was a brown blur, but her eyes quickly began to focus. She found herself staring at a white ceiling with thick, brown lines. She groaned, feeling her whole body numb and stiff, making her unable to stretch, and she needed to stretch right now.
As her mind finally returned to consciousness, she realized that the white ceiling was a big piece of fabric, going all the way to the floor, and the brown lines were a wooden frame. It didn't take her too long to understand that she was in a carriage, a moving one, to be precise.
"Welcome back to the realm of the living." A voice called, and Aria's eyes rolled a couple of times before they found the source of the voice. It was Adagio, who was smiling at her. There was something in that smile that unsettled Aria, but she couldn't tell what. "How are you feeling?"
Aria wanted to retort with something smart, or with an insult, or both. But she just couldn't think of anything. Her mind was spinning wildly, she noticed, and the mere action of thinking was enough to make her want to throw up. So she just looked up to the ceiling and decided to answer with as fewer words as possible. "Bad."
Adagio took a deep breath. "At least you're feeling, so I'll take it as a good sign." She said.
Aria tilted her head to the side, and noticed three things. First, she was lying down on one of the two lateral seats of the carriage, though she liked to call them benches. Second, Sonata was nowhere to be seen. And finally, Adagio was kneeling right next to her, holding a piece of beige fabric. She wanted to know what she was doing, but she felt too tired and dizzy, and couldn't say a word.
Fortunately, Adagio seemed to notice her questioning gaze. "I'm cleaning you." She stated, and then placed the fabric on Aria's chest. She hissed at the pain, feeling cold moisture against her stinging wound. "I know it hurts," Adagio said, "but you need to look somewhat presentable."
Aria gritted her teeth as Adagio passed the wet fabric against her bare chest before taking it to a bucket filled with water that was out of Aria's sight, and then cleaned her again. The memories of what happened before she blacked out replayed in her mind, but while she was grateful that her mind wasn't spinning anymore, she was annoyed that she had to remember the feeling of a sword stabbing through her heart.
"How am I… not dead?" She asked.
Adagio froze for a second, taken aback by the sudden question. She then let out a soft sigh and resumed cleaning the blood stains in Aria's skin. "I don't know. Sonata and I really thought you died." She tilted her head and hummed. "If I have to guess, I'd say that we'll die when we're supposed to die, not before."
"Hooray for cryptic destinies." Aria retorted humorlessly.
Adagio inhaled sharply. "Trust me, I'd love to know the details of every aspect of our, let's say, biology. But we aren't born with manuals." She then folded the fabric and threw it into the bucket. "There, clean. Now get dressed, we're almost there."
With a grunt of pain, Aria sat up while Adagio leaned back and sat down at the opposite bench. She looked down, driven by mild curiosity, to her chest. There was a pink, rhomboid line between her breasts, and for some reason, she wanted to see its counterpart on her back.
She frowned and sighed in annoyance, grabbing the upper part of her robe and sliding it down to cover her torso. "So, what happened? Where are we going?" She asked, looking at the rather empty wagon. "And where's Sonata?"
"Sonata is driving the carriage. She's surprisingly good at it." Adagio replied with a shrug. She sighed and closed her eyes. "After Sonata killed the idiot that tried to kill you, we got this carriage and some money, leaving that filthy little town for good." She looked at Aria's eyes and smiled. "We're about two hours from our objective: The city of Verona. We'll probably get better chances to feed there without people noticing."
"Sounds good…" Aria blinked. "Wait, Sonata did what?"
Adagio gave her an amused smile. "It's always the stupid ones, isn't it? Don't mess with them unless you want to trigger a psychotic episode."
Aria sighed, too tired to care about the new revelation. She hung her head and stared at the wooden floor. Vague memories flashed in her mind, and she could feel a painful pulse against her chest. She tilted her head a little, looking at the front of the wagon where a thin layer of fabric hid the interior from the outside world. The golden rays of light that illuminated the carriage's interior danced with the fabric's rhythm, and told her that it was either late in the afternoon, or early in the morning. She looked up to meet Adagio's eyes. "How long was I… out?"
Adagio hummed for a moment, leaning on the soft wall. "About two days. I must say I'm impressed at your healing process. I thought it would take you a lot longer to recover."
A grimace appeared on Aria's face as she put a hand on her chest. "It still hurts."
"Don't be a crybaby." Adagio replied dismissingly. She leaned down, taking a big bag from below the bench she was sat on. Upon opening it, she revealed a few pieces of bread. "Eat some. You'll need the energy."
For most people, it seemed like grumpy Aria was always angry, that she was the oldest misanthropist in the world. She was always frowning or scowling at everything and everyone, always finding the smallest, stupidest and most childish reasons to argue with Sonata. Her unladylike mannerisms and harsh attitude gave her a reputation as a brute in the old ages and as a tomboy in modern times.
But people who got to know her for enough time would realize that anger wasn't really something that defined her. In fact, she had the coldest head out of the three sirens. She was the kind of person that would scheme a revenge plan that involved public humiliation and permanent trauma to whomever dared eat her slice of pizza. But she would do so without saying a warning; she wouldn't even monologue or keep threatening afterwards.
Back in the old, good times, people who stayed around her for long enough would be afraid, terrified even, at the thought of pissing her off. Nobody dared to find out how would she act, or how hard would she lash out at people if she ever got mad for real.
What they didn't know, however, was that even if it was arguably hard to make her angry, she was also the kind of person that, given the circumstances, would bottle up all her anger and hatred. If she was angry or stressed, she would take deep, calm breaths and would ignore the world around her until she could calm herself. Of course it backfired constantly, and she often did very regrettable things because of it.
Right now, Sonata noticed, she was calmly eating her breakfast, loudly breathing through her nose and keeping her eyes narrowed. She was angrily munching a piece of bacon when a voice called from behind.
"Even I know when to admit my mistakes." Adagio said, leaning against the kitchen's doorframe. Aria scowled at her, but remained silent. Sonata only glanced between the two girls, waiting patiently for something good to happen. Adagio crossed her arms and looked down to the floor. "Instead of trying to self destruct, I should've been up, trying to make a plan to recover our cores or to get revenge… or something… so… sorry."
Aria swallowed her food. "I take it you already thought of something, or else you wouldn't be here." She said, and to Sonata's relief, she was more relaxed. If only it had been that easy to calm her a few centuries ago…
Adagio smiled deviously at her. "I have to work on the details, but yes." She walked towards the table and sat down; sniffing hungrily at the food Sonata had cooked for her. "It will most likely be a long term plan, but if everything goes smoothly, not only will we recover our cores, but we'll finally return to Equestria."
Sonata was humming a happy tune only she knew. Yes, the eggs were a little browner than they should be, and the hotcakes weren't sufficiently cooked. And yes, the bacon was a little saltier than she had expected it to be. But Adagio wasn't crying anymore, and Aria wasn't bottling up her anger as always. And Adagio had said that she had a plan to recover their cores and a big probability of returning to Equestria. So as far as Sonata knew, everything was good in the world.
Adagio sighed pleasantly after swallowing the last of her breakfast. "Ok, here's the plan," She said, and Sonata looked at her with rapt attention, "We have to befriend the Rainbooms."
Sonata nodded. She could do that.
"Are you serious?!" Aria protested, slamming her hand on the table. "I thought you wanted revenge, Adagio! They destroyed our cores, for crying out loud!" She snorted angrily, staring furiously at Adagio. "I say we hire a hitman or two." Sonata nodded in agreement. They didn't have to shatter their cores.
"Please use that little brain of yours for once." Adagio deadpanned, taking a hand to her forehead. "They possess Equestrian magic, that is a fact. There are only two ways to explain it: One, they somehow obtained it. Two, they are from Equestria." She placed her hands on the table, one upon the other, as she lifted her head. "Either way, they know how to get there. If we kill them, we'll lose our only chance to return." Sonata hummed an agreement. It was a solid point.
Aria huffed and crossed her arms. "Fine! We'll do it your way. It's not like it can get worse."
"It can always get worse," Adagio replied, "That's why we won't harm them." She shifted to get more comfortable in her chair. "The plan is simple. We'll tell them that we're sorry for everything, offer them gifts as apologies, ask them how to be better girls, hang out with them, and everything they need to trust us, to think that we're harmless." She pictured her plan in her mind, smiling as she got to the best part. "Then, we'll make them tell us how to return to Equestria. I believe we'll have to act like miserable, broken, and depressed teenagers, but that will be the fastest way to get to their soft side."
Aria smiled widely as her eyes widened at the realization.
"Oh, so the hitman will act after we return, right?"
Adagio rolled her eyes and sighed in annoyance.
"No. We won't try to take revenge on them." She waved a hand at Aria. "Think about it. If in the worst scenario, upon our return to Equestria things get out of control for any reason and we somehow end up returning to this world, we'll need them on our side to survive." She leaned back, resting her torso on the chair's backrest.
"So you want to take over Equestria?" Aria asked cautiously.
"No," Adagio replied calmly, "No. At least, not the ponies' land." She closed her eyes for a moment and sighed. "We already underestimated them twice. I don't think we'll survive a third one."
"Twice?" Aria asked, confused, "Wait, are you telling me that the Rainbooms used pony magic?"
Adagio found her position on the chair rather uncomfortable, so she shifted again. "I believe so. Why else would they create an alicorn with their magic?" Sonata cringed at the sudden memory before the unforgiving pain. "Anyway, I don't know about you two, but after millennia of being in this world, I'd rather return to the sea and feed solely on fish than to put our lives in danger again." She put her hands on her lap and looked down. "My plan goes that far. I know we'll figure out how to recover our cores once we return home."
"… I like fish."
"No one asked you, Sonata," Aria said.
"Oh yeah? Then I'll never cook for you ever again!" Sonata retorted with a huff, dramatically jerking her head to her right.
"Like I care!"
"Shut up!" Adagio interrupted them, "Stop arguing over every stupid thing!" Aria rolled her eyes, and Sonata only smiled at her. "Now, go get dressed in jeans and a hoodie, we're going to CHS in an hour. Sonata, you drive." Sonata squeaked. She loved to drive. "Aria, bring Annia, Vibia and Regilla. I'll bring some money."
Aria flinched a little.
"Wait what? Why do you want me to bring them?"
Adagio gave her a thoughtful look.
"For the first time since we got here, we have a real opportunity to return home. I think it's time to give up our most precious possessions. But if you want to keep Regilla, I'll understand."
For a moment, Aria just stared at Adagio, gaping. Aria narrowed her eyes and scrunched her nose, lost in deep thought. After a minute, she shook her head and sighed.
"If it'll help us return, then I'm willing to do it."
Adagio turned to Sonata. "The same goes for you."
"It's ok. It's not like we'll need them in Equestria." She watched Aria stand up and walk away, most likely to get ready. She was going to do the same, but Adagio grabbed her hand. "What?"
"This will be our last move in this world," Adagio said with a serious gaze, "and hence the most important. We have to convince the Rainbooms and everyone else that we want to be their friends, that we're sorry. Even if you're not, Sonata. Do you understand?"
Sonata shifted awkwardly, tilting her head in confusion.
"Of course I do! I'm not stupid." She then stood up and walked away, humming a silly tune.
Adagio stared at her until she disappeared upstairs.
It was a dark and cold night. Sonata was shivering beneath her black cloak, and the hood combined with the pitch-black environment provided by the woods and tall grass made it nigh impossible for her to see anything. She looked to her right, lifting her head just enough to see the other two cloaked figures. It was impossible for her to see their faces, but just from the way they walked, she noticed that they were still very angry. She understood them, of course, but it was just so boring when nobody was allowed to talk.
She looked to the front again, suppressing a sigh. At least they were just a few minutes away from being happy again.
A smile formed on her face as a small building appeared in her field of view. It was a two-story-high building. Yellow light shone from some of the windows, and a big sign hanging on the front door with the words "Whitewheat Inn" told her that they had arrived at their destination.
They hurried to the entrance. Sonata relished on the pleasantly warm interior, wanting to sit down next to the chimney and do nothing for the rest of the night. But they had things to do, so she just stood a little behind Adagio, who quickly made her way to the innkeeper: an old man that looked more dead than alive. He raised an eyebrow at his newest customers, and then smiled brightly when Adagio removed the hood from her head.
"Well I'll be," he muttered loudly, "Room for three?"
Adagio offered him a smile, leaning on the table that served as counter.
"Actually, we're searching for someone," she purred, seductively passing a finger along his left arm, "A man called Steel Shield. They told us he's staying here."
The man babbled a little, his eyes lost in Adagio's gaze.
"I, uh… I'm sorry. I never ask my customers' names."
Adagio frowned for a moment, then leaned a little closer.
"Tall, short brown hair, beige skin, blue eyes. He's a soldier, so he probably was wearing a sword and a shield." She then leaned away, letting the old man slowly snap out of his trance. "If you help us, we'll be sure to repay you properly." She said, pulling her cloak from the neck, showing her collarbone.
"Room two-one-three." He answered, almost drooling.
Sonata suppressed a giggle. It was so easy to convince men to do things…
"Thank you. We'll be back shortly." The man nodded as Adagio led the girls to the upper floor.
They quickly made their way to room two-one-three. Adagio stopped right in front of the door and turned to the girls.
"So, who's gonna do it?" Aria asked before she could say anything.
Adagio snorted. "Why, me, of course."
Aria frowned, taking off her hood. "We all want to do it. I say we leave it to luck." She reached into a hidden pocket in her cloak and quickly took out a small bunch of hay. "The largest will be the winner."
Adagio rolled her eyes. "Fine." She then took a strand with two fingers, waiting for the others before pulling it out. Sonata made a face. It was really weird for Adagio to just give up like that. Sonata and Aria took a strand, and at the count of three, they all pulled.
"Yay, I win!" Sonata celebrated, seeing how her hay string was the longest. She then remembered what exactly she won, and her little excitement died down immediately.
With sighs of resignation, both Adagio and Aria hurried Sonata into the room. They all made sure to be as quiet as possible. The room was dark, and the sound of snoring told them what they wanted to know: their objective was completely defenseless.
Sonata silently walked towards the bed, looking down at the snoring man. Aria and Adagio started to hum an A, and Sonata immediately recognized the vibrations of a paralysis spell. She understood what they wanted her to do, and she didn't know how to feel about it. But she shrugged it off. If it meant that they were going to be happy again, then she'd gladly do it.
Her eyes were already used to the darkness of the room, so she easily climbed on the bed and upon the man. She put a hand inside her cloak at the same time she used her other hand to move the man in an attempt to wake him up. It worked.
He opened his eyes just a little bit, tiredly gazing at Sonata before closing them again. But only a second later, they snapped open, filled with surprise and horror. That one second was enough for Sonata to find what she was searching for and pull it out: a dagger.
"Hello!" she said cheerfully as she flagrantly placed the tip of the dagger right below his Adam's apple, "Long time no see, Steely"
Steel Shield's first reaction was to push her away and go for his sword. But he was unable to move more than his face, and even that was difficult. He swallowed, feeling the blade against his skin.
"H-How?" He asked with a hoarse voice, "You died! I saw it!"
Sonata's mouth was a thin line. Her usual happy attitude was replaced by an unnervingly serious and stern stare.
"Yeah, and it hurt a lot." Her eyes flickered in the moonlight that came through the window, and the dagger shone brightly as she spun it a little bit to the right. "Being burned at the stake made me wish I could die. Totally not fun." She tilted her head for a moment, quietly observing his expression. It was interesting how everyone reacted differently when they learned that they were immortal.
"Why don't you kill me already?" Steel said through his teeth.
Sonata frowned softly, tilting the dagger and pressing it a little until blood came out and made a thin trail of red down his neck.
"Why the rush? We haven't seen each other in, like, a year." She slowly spun the dagger, earning a grunt of pain. She then smiled widely, almost beaming with a childish expression. "I missed you, you know? You're really fun to talk to, and the first person to win the game."
In that moment, Adagio forced a little disturbance in the song. Sonata noticed it, turning at her for a brief moment before returning to Steel Shield with a sad expression.
"I'm sorry, we don't have time to catch up." Steel gritted his teeth, and Sonata could feel his body so tense that it felt like a statue. "Oh, don't take it personally. It's just that Adagio and Aria don't like to lose." She sighed softly, looking at the window for a moment. She then shrugged and turned again to Steel Shield, making a face of resignation. "You were a good player. Goodbye."
Before Steel Shield could even react, Sonata pulled her dagger a little away, and then with a swift move, she stabbed him with it from below the jaw and all the way up. She made sure to give him a quick death. After all, she was a good loser. At the same time, Adagio and Aria let the spell slowly fade into silence.
When the spark of life finally left his eyes, Sonata retrieved the dagger, frowning in disgust at the blood falling in thick drops. She took the blanket of the bed and started to clean the blade.
"What was that of catching up, Sonata?" Aria barked, crossing her arms and looking between the lifeless body of Steel Shield and Sonata, "Were you trying to give him a chance to defend himself?"
Sonata passed a finger across the length of her dagger, making sure that it was clean.
"Well, yes." She looked at Aria with a smile that was somehow torn between happy and sad. "I wanted to have another round. I'm sure we'd have won this time."
Adagio raised an eyebrow.
"Is this just a game to you?!" Aria stomped a foot on the floor. "He sent us to the stake! If you want to die so badly then fine, but don't take me with you!"
"Oh, pish posh," Sonata replied with a roll of her eyes, "At least now we know we can't die by fire either."
"Why you little—"
"You two shut up already!" Adagio commanded. She was at the door, making sure they hadn't been discovered. Upon closing the door, she walked towards the bed and stared at the corpse for just a moment. "Move him to the middle of the room, put his sword and shield on his arms." While Aria and Sonata obliged, she opened a big leather sack that was near the bed. She took a bag three times the size of her fist and showed it to the girls. "We'll make it look like a robbery. That way nobody will suspect that it was us."
Sonata huffed out of tiredness as she finished putting Steel's body in a believable position.
"But they think we died, why would they know it was us?"
Adagio shrugged as she hid the bag of money in her cloak.
"I don't want to leave loose ends."
Aria idly kicked the shield, and it somehow ended up moving in a position that seemed like Steel had tried to take it but failed. She raised her eyebrow at that, but shrugged it off.
"So, does that mean we have to kill the innkeeper too?"
Adagio crossed her arms and looked through the window.
"Yes," she said. With a sigh, she turned around and looked at them. "I know that we only kill as a last resource or in desperate circumstances. But we can't take any more risks, at least until everyone forgets about us."
"Ok, then. You kill him while we take Steel's horse," Aria stated. Adagio didn't complain, and she only stared as Aria and Sonata left the room.
Sonata waved at the innkeeper as she walked to the entrance. She followed Aria to the stakes that served as improvised stables. There was a dark-brown stallion with black mane and tail. Aria quietly took its clothes off, for they had royal guard's insignias sewed everywhere. "How much do you think they'll give us for him?" Sonata asked as she patted its face.
Aria shrugged. "Enough to survive a month, probably." With a nod, Sonata walked to the horse's side and took the saddle off. "What are you doing?" Aria asked.
"A saddle can't fit the three of us," Sonata answered, hopping on it, "Besides, it feels better to ride horses without saddles."
"You know that that can be misinterpreted in a very sick way, right?"
Sonata stared at her for a very long moment before she spoke up.
"Why?" she asked, tilting her head to the side.
Aria rolled her eyes.
"Forget it. I don't know why I even try."
"Try what?" Adagio asked, walking to Aria while curiously eyeing Sonata.
"Nothing," Aria replied with a bored tone. She then narrowed her eyes a little as her gaze focused on Adagio's face. "You have blood on your face," she said, pointing at her own cheek.
Adagio rubbed her right cheek with the back of her hand for a moment and then looked at the red stain on it.
"Thanks," she said slowly. The horse started to pace a little as Sonata tried to guide it to the road. Adagio looked at her and sighed. "Ok, let's go," she said and hopped on the horse.
"Where are we going now?" Aria asked as she tried to get comfortable behind Adagio.
"Just ride west until we get to the sea." She closed her eyes for a moment, enjoying the lulling sound of the horse's clopping. "There's going to be a big gold shipment at Silverblade's dock in about two weeks. We'll steal the ship and get us about a ton of gold ingots." She smiled softly as she stared at the moon. "From there, we'll have to find ways to feed without anyone noticing." Her smile disappeared as she forced away a painful memory. "I don't know about you, but I don't want to die again."
Sonata made a face as the gears in her brain spun a little. "But, we never really die, do we?"
Adagio breathed through her nose as she looked down tiredly. "I don't know, and honestly, I don't want to find out."
"Agreed," Aria stated.
Sonata pouted, but didn't say anything else. After all, if they didn't want to know, it meant that they weren't going to find an answer, and if there wasn't going to be an answer for them, there wouldn't be any for her. She shrugged. She was sure that if they didn't find the answers, the answers were going to find them sooner or later. And if there was something she had, it was time.
The sun shone brightly from the horizon, and the fresh air running through Sonata's hair made her smile. She was resting her body against the big statue in front of Canterlot High. She liked that statue; it had a sculpture of a war horse. Ever since people started using those automobiles, horses stopped being common in towns. Of course she loved cars because they were a lot faster and easier to control and cheaper to maintain, but riding a horse was a completely unique experience. Especially when galloping.
Aria snorted, or sneezed. It was hard to tell, because they always sounded the same. So just to be safe, she offered a casual "gesundheit".
Sonata smiled to herself. It had been a sneeze after all. Now it was five thousand times she had guessed a sneeze correctly against the five thousand and thirty two times she had been wrong. Well, the list was actually a lot bigger. But a certain incident with a spoon of cinnamon a few years in the past made her lose count, and she had to start from square one.
"Here they come," Adagio said.
Sonata looked at the entrance and looked at the six girls that had defeated them just last night. She made a face of confusion when the blue one started to walk closer to the red-haired one and spoke to her ear while looking at Aria. Was she telling her to attack or was she declaring her love? Sonata hummed silently as she observed them getting closer.
"Not now, Rainbow," the red-haired one said as she came to a stop just a couple of meters away from Adagio.
Yeah, she had probably declared her love.
"Good morning, girls," Adagio said, opening her arms with a welcome gesture. She was also smiling. It was odd, Sonata thought. Adagio never smiled to people that defeated her.
"What are you doing here?" The blue one —now Rainbow— barked, pointing a finger at Adagio, "Wasn't enough that we kicked your sorry butts last night?"
Or probably she had told the red-haired one to attack. Wait, sorry butts? Sonata thought. How can a butt be sorry about anything? She had to ask Adagio about it later.
"Calm down, Rainbow," the red-haired one said as she stepped further and looked at Adagio with her eyes narrowed, "But we do want to know what you want."
Adagio put her hands on her hips and tilted her head to her right. "We just want to talk. In a private place, preferably." She then lifted her chin and smiled. "Don't worry, we don't want to do anything bad to you. In fact, we'd like to apologize."
"And how do we know it's not a trap?" Rainbow said angrily, "For all we know, you just want to get revenge in a place where no one can hear us scream!"
Aria snorted. Or was it a sneeze? Sonata pondered for a moment. Aria didn't say anything, so it was a snort. Probably.
"Oh, come on, now," Adagio said with an amused tone in her voice, "If we wanted revenge, we wouldn't be here giving you apology presents."
"Apology presents?" the yellow one asked, but nobody seemed to hear her.
"What do you mean by that?" the red-haired one asked.
Adagio leaned down and picked up a black suitcase.
"Give this to the principal. We turned your showcase in a battle, and in the end the school didn't get any money." She opened the suitcase, and watched, very amusedly, how their jaws dropped. People always did that when they weren't used to seeing so much money in a single place.
"We can't take this money," the red-haired one said. Sonata needed a name for this girl quick. If only she had paid attention when it had been mentioned…
"Well, no. It's not for you," Adagio said, closing the suitcase, "It's for your school. You can even consider it as an anonymous donation, if you want to."
"Where didcha get this money from?" The orange one asked.
Aria let out an exasperated groan.
"Why do people always hesitate? Just take it already!"
Adagio frowned a little, but the girls didn't seem to notice.
"It doesn't matter where we got it. What matters is that we are offering it to your school. Besides, it's not like we killed someone for it."
The red-haired one —now Reddy for a lack of a better name— took the suitcase and gave it to the white one.
"Fine," she said, "We'll give it to Principal Celestia."
"Good," Adagio said with a satisfied smile, "We also have something for you." She turned around and took a black wooden box with her both arms. She showed it to the girls. "These are our most valuable possessions. We're giving them to you as an apology and a sign of peace, so to speak." Aria walked to her and opened the box.
The girls froze for a moment, and the white one almost dropped the suitcase.
Carefully placed in gold holders and surrounded by an interior of red velvet, there were three daggers. They were covered in their sheaths made of pure gold, each with a different pattern carved in the gold and a different gemstone placed in the handle. Not only did they look beautiful, but also extremely expensive.
Aria pointed at the first one. The gemstone in its handle was red, probably a ruby, and had a rhomboid pattern in its sheath, like they were diamonds or something.
"This is Annia, Adagio's dagger." She then pointed to the one at the bottom. Its gemstone was a color between blue and green, probably a turquoise, and the pattern in the sheath was a series of swirls, almost looking like sea waves. "This is Vibia, Sonata's dagger." And finally, she pointed to the one in the middle. Its gemstone was definitely an amethyst, and the pattern in the sheath resembled the scales of a reptile. "And this is Regilla, my dagger."
"We commissioned them about two thousand years ago," Adagio said, looking at Annia with a spark of melancholy in her eyes, "They saved our lives many times, but we haven't used them in about a hundred years." She then looked at their eyes. "Now they're yours. You can do whatever you want with them. Sell them, if you like. You'll be rich in a moment."
Sonata's mouth was a thin line. Adagio didn't sound very convinced, even though it was her idea.
"These daggers are more than mere weapons, though," Aria stated coldly, "There's a story behind them, and I'd really like you to not sell them."
Reddy raised an eyebrow.
"They really look very important to you… You don't have to give them to us."
"But, can we hear the story anyway?" The pink one asked, leaning in one foot, "I love stories!"
Adagio closed the box and practically shoved it into Reddy's arms.
"We're willing to answer any question you may have; the only thing we ask of you is your forgiveness," she said, taking a piece of paper that looked like a business card from the right pocket of her hoodie, "This is our address. Come over after school; we'll be waiting for you." She placed the card upon the box and turned around, motioning the other sirens to follow her.
Sonata complied, taking a last look at the dumbfounded faces of the girls. They walked in silence until they got to their car: A very modest, black sedan of three years ago.
"You didn't say anything about inviting them to our house," Aria complained as Adagio opened the co-driver door and got in.
Sonata got in the driver seat while Aria lazily laid down on the back seat.
"I wasn't sure myself," Adagio answered as Sonata turned on the engine, "But I saw them and I thought…" She looked at Aria through the rearview mirror. "I thought that we need to make them trust us, quick. I got this feeling…" She put a hand on her neck right where her core had been and sighed. "I don't really know how to describe it. Just trust me on this one."
"I never thought I'd live to see the day you run on hunches," Aria said, resting her head on her arms and closing her eyes, "But if you think that's how we'll return to Equestria, then I don't care."
Adagio flickered a smile before she looked at Sonata.
"What do you think about it?"
Sonata turned at her for a moment, raising an eyebrow.
"Who? Me?" Adagio nodded. "Uh… Whatever you say is good?" she said, stopping the car at a red light.
"Are you asking or answering me?"
Adagio smiled softly and turned around, looking out the window. Sonata took the opportunity to turn on the radio on one of her many favorite stations. This time it was some jazz. The girls didn't say a word for the rest of the way home.
Aria was lazily sitting in the armchair of the living room, her legs crossed upon one of the arms and her head supported by her right arm. She was half watching a documentary about wild wolves and half sleeping.
Adagio was sitting on the beige couch with her legs crossed below her. She was writing something on a laptop she had resting on her lap. A small stack of papers was perfectly lined up next to her, and there was a cup of black coffee on the coffee table in front of her.
"Shut up, already!" Aria snapped at Sonata, who was sitting on the floor next to the T.V. She was playing with a stuffed pig that was wearing a monocle, a top hat, and a mustache.
"It's not me! It's Pigget!" Sonata replied with a frown. She made another oink sound with the toy pressed to her ear and then looked at Aria. "He says you're being too loud and doesn't let him concentrate."
Aria was about to blurt an insult or two, but Adagio spoke first.
"Sonata, did you read the paper I gave you?"
"And I memorized it too." She made a face that slightly resembled a pout. "I think Reddy is a better name."
Adagio deadpanned at her for a moment.
"Just make sure to follow my instructions. A single wrong step and we'll never get back to Equestria, nor recover our cores." She narrowed her eyes and spoke next with a low, menacing voice. "You don't want to be the reason of our next failure, do you?"
Sonata paled a little before standing up and taking a sheet of paper from one of her skirt's pockets.
"I better study this a little more," she said, unfolding the paper and reading it in silence. Aria muttered a silent thanks to Adagio before leaning back again. Adagio smiled a little and returned to write on her laptop.
But the silence didn't last too long, as just ten minutes later the bell of the house rang loudly. Aria sighed in annoyance, closing her eyes in an attempt to calm herself.
"Sonata, let in our guests and bring them here," Adagio commanded with a neutral voice, not looking away from the screen of her laptop.
"Ok." Sonata stood up and quietly walked to the entrance door. She read the names of the girls one last time just to be sure and then folded the paper to save it for later. She reached the knob and opened the door. "Hello!" She greeted with a wide smile.
Six pairs of eyes landed on her, and she could feel that four of them were gazes of distrust. Adagio did write that this would happen.
"Hello." Sunset replied quietly.
"Come in," Sonata said, opening the door wide and making a welcoming gesture with her arm. "Make yourselves comfortable." The six girls slowly got in the house, looking at each other for support. The yellow one was practically clinging from Rainbow's arm. Sonata closed the door behind them and walked to Sunset, pointing a finger at a hall. "We can talk there."
The girls followed her, looking unsure and concerned. Sonata knew, more out of experience than anything else, that they were admiring the various paintings and ornaments hanging from the walls or placed upon complex furniture with decoration as their only purpose.
Well, everything that decorated her house was interesting, and even she would stop to admire them every now and then. Many of the paintings were of the three sirens in different periods of time and wearing different kinds of clothes. The ornaments consisted mostly on replicas of various kinds of weaponry like swords, daggers, shields, spears, guns, and armors from every part of the world.
Sonata led the girls to the living room where Adagio and Aria were waiting.
"They're here!" she announced right before she launched herself to the beige couch right next to Adagio. Fortunately for her, the stack of papers had been removed from the seat and carefully placed upon the coffee table.
Sunset was the first to see the other two sirens, and she couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. She didn't know what she had expected, but the sight was curious, to say the least. Aria was lying on an armchair with her hair untied, looking like a normal teenager on the first day of vacation, and Adagio looked like she was resting after hours of working on something important. And even more importantly, the three girls were dressed in what could be considered as pajamas. Or at least that's what they seemed, because just like the house and everything else, they looked really expensive.
"Please take a seat. Let's talk," Adagio said, snapping Sunset out of her thoughts. She glanced at the room, finding enough couches to fit at least twenty people, a T.V. that occupied an entire wall, and a glass door that lead to the backyard. Sunset decided to follow instructions for now and sat down, waiting for her friends to do the same. "I know it must feel weird, seeing how we were mortal enemies just yesterday," Adagio said with an amused smirk.
"You don't say," Rainbow replied, crossing her arms as she sat down next to Fluttershy, who chose the farthest seat from the sirens.
"I wouldn't say mortal," Sunset said, shifting in her seat.
"Ah just wanna know why ya'll ain't mad at us," Applejack questioned, having chosen a seat between Rainbow and Rarity, "Not that Ah'm giving ya any ideas, but it's weird."
Adagio let out a soft sigh as she leaned forward.
"When you… used your magic, we were forced to see all of our bad actions. For normal humans, no, even for teenagers like yourselves, it would be very little. But we?" She forced a dry chuckle. "We've been doing bad things for, how long? Over three thousand years?"
"Three thousand, one hundred and twelve years, four months, twenty-eight days and, uh, two hours," Sonata answered. Out of the three of them, she was the best at numbers and remembering things. Aria would remark time and time again how unfair it was, but Sonata never thought of it as something special.
"Right," Adagio replied, "So, imagine that weight being tossed over our shoulders, all at once, for an endless second." She lifted a hand and reached her neck, right where her core had once been. She managed to pull a regretful expression. "Now that we're free from our dark magic, we want nothing but redeem ourselves, or at least, we want to try…" She looked at Sunset directly in the eyes. "You, above anyone else in this world, should understand our plea."
Sunset looked away for a moment. Of course she understood. She had used the Element of Magic to harness dark magic, and she had spent the following six months trying to redeem herself. The girls noticed her expression, and Rarity, who was right next to her, put a hand on her shoulder. They didn't say a word, for that silent expression was enough. After a couple of seconds, Rarity looked at Sonata and Aria.
"How about you two? Do you agree?"
Aria looked away with a scowl.
"I don't need help from anyone." Adagio almost smiled. Aria was a terrible liar, but that had never been a problem, since she could say the truth and somehow make it seem like a lie. She really thought that she didn't need help, nor did she want it, but the tone of her voice and the subtle moves of her body told the Rainbooms a totally different thing.
On her part, Sonata only nodded.
"I want to be a good girl." She didn't sound very convinced. Adagio stiffened for a moment.
Fortunately, the Rainbooms didn't seem to notice.
"Well, uh… What are you going to do now?" Sunset asked, "You want us to help you, but, how exactly? I don't believe you want to return to Canterlot High."
"Well, no," Adagio answered, slowly relaxing her body, "We may look about your age, but we're really, really old." She sighed and made a little grimace. "Being around kids is… kind of annoying, at times. In fact, the only reason we want your help is because you are the only humans that know who we are and where we come from."
"And that don't try to kill us," Aria said, still looking away.
"I like children," Sonata said.
"Me too!" Pinkie suddenly made her existence known.
"Oh, yeah, you keep insulting us. Let's see who helps you then!" Rainbow blurted out.
Adagio rolled her eyes.
"I've heard that honesty is the best policy," she said, taking notice on how Applejack's eyes flickered, "We need your help, so we offer you what we can give. Money, personal possessions, even forgotten information." She gazed at Sunset. "You knew who we are and what we could do, but I'm sure you still have questions. So, ask away."
The girls looked at each other for a moment, but Rainbow was the first to speak.
"So we can ask anything?" Adagio nodded. "And you just will answer with the truth?" Another nod. Rainbow narrowed her eyes slightly. "Ok, then. It's obvious that you have an awful lot of money. You gave Principal Celestia about two million dollars as if it was nothing, and you live in a mansion in the nicest part of the city. And I'm not counting your three cars!" She spread her arms in an attempt to reiterate her point. She then raised an eyebrow. "How did you get to be this rich?"
"It's not a mansion, it's just a big house," Sonata pointed out.
Adagio ignored her and shifted in her place to get a little more comfortable.
"Well, we did start by stealing a cargo of gold over two thousand years ago." That earned a few raised eyebrows and a suspicious stare. It was expected, but she was planning to say, if not everything, enough to make them trust her. "From there we just invested it." She leaned back and crossed her legs. "It would be very tiring now to tell you the full details, so let's just say that we control our many consortiums from the shadows."
Rainbow raised an eyebrow.
"Like an evil organization?"
That question made Adagio smile a little; kids could actually be funny.
"No, that never works."
"Why from the shadows, then?" Rarity asked, tilting her head to her right.
This time, it was Aria who answered.
"Because it's easier to hide our existence that way."
A few raised eyebrows told Adagio to explain.
"Humans don't take well our long lives. It's healthier for us to move the strings anonymously."
"Ya weren't exactly anonymous the past few days," Applejack pointed out, "What with all the 'adore us' and 'heed us' and stuff."
Adagio grimaced and closed her eyes.
"For the first time since our arrival to this world, we had the chance to feed on Equestrian Magic again." She opened her eyes and observed them. "It took us six months to reunite enough power to mind control the principal and vice principal of your school. And in only two days, with the little amount of Equestrian Magic lingering in your school, we could mind control the entire student body." She narrowed her eyes and frowned. "You don't understand the power you harness, but we do. And we were desperate to have it. Being subtle wasn't an option, mostly because it wouldn't work to begin with."
There were a couple of seconds of silence before Fluttershy spoke up.
"But, you're good girls now, right?"
Adagio smiled almost instantly.
"Of course! Or at least we want to be."
Rainbow leaned forward.
"It's kind of hard to believe that you turned good in a day."
"Yeah, it took you six months to believe me," Sunset muttered under her breath, but everyone heard her perfectly clear. She immediately looked at her friends, and their expressions of shock and concern.
And Rainbow had the word guilt written all over her face.
"It's ok…" Sunset said with a sad smile, "I know you didn't mean it like that…"
"No, no, it's my fault. I should've thought before saying anything!"
"Girls?" Rarity interrupted them, "You know what to do to save us the two hour-long apology session."
Pinkie on her part, started to bounce on her seat.
"Hug! Hug! Hug!"
Sunset and Rainbow both looked away for a moment before standing up and sharing a quick yet meaningful hug.
"I'm sorry, Sunset," Rainbow said before ending the hug.
"Me too." Sunset replied with a small smile.
"So this is what good girls do?" Sonata asked, startling the girls, "Hug each time they fight?" She then looked at Aria, who would have killed her if her eyes were daggers.
Sunset smiled at her.
Rainbow, on her part, looked at the sirens with an apologetic gaze. "How about we start by hanging out and we uh, teach you about friendship and all that mushy stuff?" She then smiled at Sunset. "We should give you the benefit of the doubt."
The rest of the Rainbooms stood up and shared a group hug.
"Come on girls, you too!" Rarity said, and Adagio noticed that Sonata had joined them.
Adagio tilted her head. Aria was never going to do a group hug, and she just didn't want to. So she just waved her hand.
"I'm sorry. I don't feel comfortable for that just yet."
Pinkie smiled at her.
"It's ok! We won't force you to do things you don't want to!"
The group hug ended, and Sunset looked at Sonata, who was with Pinkie, and then at Adagio and Aria.
"How about we go to Sugar Cube Corner? We need a friendly environment to get to know each other."
Aria raised an eyebrow.
"Are you saying our house isn't friendly?"
Sunset almost paled.
"N-No! Of course not!"
For the first moment that day, Aria smiled.
"Just kidding. I know it isn't."
Sunset didn't know what to say. Fortunately, Adagio spoke up.
"Let's go, I could use the extra energy of those sugary treats."
Adagio was idly sitting on a beach chair, looking at the Rainbooms plus Sonata playing a tag game in the cove. A parasol projected a delightful shadow over her body. Normally, she would just let her body tan while faking ignorance of all the stares she got. But the beach was almost empty, only a few dozens of people here and there, and she just wanted to enjoy herself, which would be difficult if she had to put on a show.
She took a sip of her cold beer, watching amused how Sonata had tripped on Rainbow Dash and both were pushed by the waves. She sighed pleasantly, adjusting her sunglasses before stretching her arms. This world's beaches weren't even a thousandth part as good as Equestria's, but at least they weren't bad. Well, at least not the crowded ones. It was a good thing that she had bought a residence in this paradisiacal island. Not many people had enough money to go there.
Plus, by inviting the Rainbooms stay on summer break in this beautiful place, she had won even more trust points.
Teenagers were so gullible.
"Adagio." Aria's voice snapped her from her thoughts. She looked at her left and found Aria looking at her.
"What is it?" Adagio asked. She sipped a little more of her beer and sighed contently. "If you want beer, just take one. I can't possibly drink all on my own."
Aria shrugged and sat down on the nearby beach chair, taking a bottle of beer and opening it. She gave a long sip, drinking a quarter of the bottle in one go. Sighing, she looked at the Rainbooms.
"You really think it'll work?"
"Oh ye of little faith," Adagio replied with a smirk, but Aria only frowned, not looking at her. "Of course it'll work. The Rainbooms think we're friends. Sunset Shimmer, especially, believes that we're reformed." She made a quoting motion with her fingers at the last word.
Aria made a face of concern.
"Isn't it a little too early?" she asked. "You normally wait at least a year to pull this kind of plans."
"And you normally don't care about these things either," Adagio replied with an eyebrow raised. She straightened up, hugging a leg against her chest. "But you're right. In normal circumstances, I'd wait at least a year. But this isn't a normal circumstance, and we don't have that much time."
Aria looked at her. "What do you mean?"
"Haven't you been paying attention?" Adagio asked. "After this vacation, the Rainbooms will go to college. They won't have as much time for us anymore." She forced a sigh, and then smiled. "Fortunately, they believe in that friendship nonsense. Just take a look at that." She pointed at the girls playing in the cove.
Apparently, Pinkie Pie and Sonata had teamed up in the tag game, and they were chasing the other girls, laughing loudly and childishly.
"They truly think we're good girls," Adagio said with a big smile. "Just stick to the plan, and I assure you that they'll do anything they can to help us return home."
The fresh air ran through their hair, creating waves of indigo and orange and caressing their skin. It had been many centuries since the last time Adagio had used that word with so much hope in her voice.
Night fell, and the air was cold enough to force everyone cover up their bodies. The sun was long gone, but the promise of fun in a beautiful landscape gave the Rainbooms enough energy to keep playing. Fortunately, the sirens' experience and young bodies helped them easily keep up with them.
At some point, when the moon was shining brightly in the sky, Applejack and Rainbow Dash had brought some firewood and had started a small bonfire. After a while, everyone had sat down in a circle around the fire.
"I hope we don't get in troubles for this," Rarity commented, though she didn't sound very concerned.
"Don't worry, Rarity," Adagio said, drinking some more of beer. This was probably her twentieth bottle in the day. "I'd just throw some money at 'em and they'd leave us alone."
"You've been drinking a lot," Sunset pointed out, "I didn't know you were the kind to get drunk."
Adagio blew a raspberry at her, leaning back and resting on her left hand.
"I'm not drunk until I try to make out with you," she replied, winking at Sunset.
Sunset blushed and turned away, frowning when Rainbow, Applejack and Pinkie started to laugh at her expression. Fluttershy tried to hide behind Rarity, who involuntarily wiggled her eyebrows.
"Anyway, how about we start telling stories?" Rainbow proposed. "Horror stories!"
"Why do you have the need to tell horror stories every time we gather up at night?" Rarity asked. "Honestly, Rainbow Dash, we already know all the stories you have to tell."
"Oh, come on!" Rainbow complained. She then looked at Aria, then at Sonata and finally at Adagio. She smirked. "I'm pretty sure our old friends know a good story or two!"
"Well, as a matter of fact, I know all kind of stories, both fictional and real," she said, "which one would you like to hear?"
"Real, of course!" Pinkie exclaimed.
Aria smirked deviously.
"You know many stories about vampires, right?" The girls nodded. "But have you ever wondered how humans came up with the concept?" She smiled even more when the girls shook their heads. "Then I will let you in on this little secret. I'll tell you the violent and sanguinary story of slaughters and carnages that led humans to believe in vampires."
As Aria started to tell her story, Adagio took one last sip to her beer. She stared at the flames as her mind began to wander. The fire crackled and flickered, dancing in front of her, bringing on memories of the many stories of her past she had yet to share with the Rainbooms.
Aria was decorating her story, adding more blood and violence than what it really had been. But, that didn't mean they hadn't experienced worse situations. Images of torturing, of dismembering, of flaying and of many other horrors flashed in Adagio's mind. She tried to dissipate those images by closing her eyes, but it backfired, as she started to remember all the times she and the other girls had been murdered.
Stabbed. Drowned. Burnt. Choked. Poisoned. Shot. The list went on and on. Sometimes it was only one, other times it was the three of them. Sometimes they didn't even notice, but most times, it had been extremely painful. And every time, there was a constant: Humans were responsible.
Back in Equestria, the thought of killing or being killed had never crossed their minds. That concept only existed in wars; don't even think about the other atrocities humans were capable of.
In all the centuries they had been trapped in this world, there had yet to be one day they didn't long to return home. In fact, at some point during their first decade here, their main goal had changed from survival to finding a way back to Equestria.
And finally, after millennia of agonizing search, that goal was nearer than it had ever been. They only needed to be patient for a little longer, and wait for the right moment. Months of meticulous planning and endless rehearsals were all coming down to just the perfect excuse…
"Adagio, are you all right?"
A moment of weakness.
Adagio lifted her head and looked up. Everyone was staring at her with concern and surprise and understanding. She noticed that her eyes were moistened. She cleaned her tears with a thumb and gazed at it with a blank stare. Crying was an unexpected outcome, but it was just what she needed.
"You aren't scared of the story, are you?" Rainbow said with a mocking smile.
Looking up, Adagio stared at her with a tired expression.
"Aria, why don't you tell them about the time we were killed in a cellar?"
In that moment, Aria and Sonata bleached, looking about to throw up. The Rainbooms just looked at each other with worried expressions. Rainbow had guilt written all over her face.
"All those horror movies about people being killed in the most horrid ways…" Adagio said with a wicked smile. Her voice was hard but quivery, and tears were forming in her eyes again. "But who needs movies when you have the experience? Tell me something, Rainbow Dash. What are you afraid of?" She leaned further, tilting her head in a menacing way. "Are you afraid of losing a tournament? Are you afraid of losing your friends? Or maybe you're afraid of being tortured for days and being slowly killed just for the sake of it?"
"Adagio, please," Sonata begged. Her eyes were closed as she tried her best to block those memories once again.
Adagio closed her mouth in a twisted frown as her eyes glared holes in Rainbow's head.
"You don't know what it means to be scared." She stood up and dropped the bottle of beer to the ground. She huffed and turned around, walking away.
Adagio followed the cove, focusing on the soothing feeling of the cold sea against her bare feet, and the wet sand playing between her toes. She knew that her little outburst had worried the girls; it wasn't the first time. And she knew that at least one of them would follow her and try to make her speak. But, this time, she did want to speak.
After a couple of minutes, she saw a small dune a few yards from the cove. Perfect.
The water never got past her knees as she walked to the dune. It was a pretty small place, but it was enough. She sat down, hugging her legs against her chest, and stared at the sky. Fortunately, she didn't have to wait too long before she heard someone getting closer. She let out a silent sigh while putting her head between her knees.
It was Sunset. Adagio had expected her to be Rainbow, after her stupid comment about being scared. It usually was the girl that made her angry the one who'd talk to her. But it didn't matter. She just needed one of them.
"Go away." She couldn't be easy. It would seem suspicious.
"Adagio, please." Sunset kneeled next to her. "You can't keep bottling up your feelings like this. We just want to help you."
"You can't help me, us."
"Not if you don't tell us what's wrong," Sunset pleaded. "Adagio, we've been friends for three months now, you can trust me."
Silence was her response. Sunset sighed through her nose, trying to find the best words, but it was hard. Even if she herself had once been a power-hungry bitch, nothing she had ever done compared to a lifetime of thousands of years of bad things. Heck, she had never killed anything bigger than a Poodle -and even that had been a sad accident-, while the sirens had killed hundreds of people. How could she give any advice here? How could she offer support?
An idea occurred to her. If words were useless, maybe some physical contact would let her know that she understood her. But just as she lifted her hand from the ground, Adagio shifted, looking up at the sky.
"I'm tired," Adagio repeated, this time tilting her head to gaze at Sunset. "I'm tired of this world. I'm tired of humans. I'm tired of being immortal…" That last one was a lie. Eternal youth was a bless from the heavens, no doubt. She managed to shed another tear, turning to look at the full moon. "We've been searching for a way back home for thousands of years. And not once had we even been close." She choked back a hiccup, putting her head between her knees once again. "I miss my home."
Sunset could feel her heart racing at that. She knew that the Dazzlings were from Equestria, just like her. And just like her, they missed it so much. She could return if she wanted to, Twilight would gladly open the portal just for her. But the sirens didn't have that privilege. She remembered how she felt right after that fateful Fall Formal, when Twilight disappeared through the mirror and the portal closed. Knowing that she'd be unable to return for another thirty moons had shaken her so much. And now that she knew she could return whenever she felt ready, she hadn't put much thought on it.
But the sirens didn't have that luck.
She could hear Adagio quietly sobbing, trying her best to suppress her crying.
They were friends. The sirens had proven that they had changed, that they had embraced friendship just as she had done. Of course, they were a little sharp around the edges, but she couldn't blame creatures thousands of years old for how they acted.
They were friends. But then, why couldn't she bring herself to tell Adagio about the portal? She had spent six months trying to prove herself worth of friendship, even though she had changed since the very first day she was blasted with the rainbow. She knew what it was like, yet she still had doubts about the sirens. But why? They were friends now! Twilight had been teaching her about the magic of friendship for three months now; she ought to show that she was a good student!
She placed a hand on Adagio's shoulder.
"I…" Sunset hesitated. The rational part of her mind was telling her to wait, if only a couple more months. But her heart was screaming her to help her friend. She sighed. Maybe it was time to follow her heart. "I… I know… of a way back to Equestria…"
Adagio's body tensed immediately, and ever so slowly, she turned her head to look at Sunset with true disbelief. Was it really going to be that easy? No more drama needed? No more fake tears shed?
Not that Adagio complained, but it just seemed so unlikely, she almost pinched herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming.
"You…" Adagio swallowed. She still couldn't let her guard down. She looked away and to the horizon. "You're just saying that to shut me up."
"What? No! Of course not!" Sunset frantically moved her hands in front of her. "Listen, I can't assure you that you can return, mostly because I don't get a say on that matter." She inhaled, trying to order her thoughts. "But, I can promise that I'll do anything I can to let you three return to Equestria."
Adagio looked down at the sea, staring at the calm waves. A thought occurred to her. She knew that the Rainbooms were aware of Equestria's existence. Not because it had been a topic when the questioning started, but because they had used Equestrian Magic against them. And even if they had shared many of their stories about their past in the human world, they had talked very little about the life back in Equestria.
And, while the Rainbooms had reacted differently at the mentions of Equestria, it was Sunset who always acted strange, almost distant. And now, it was Sunset the one offering a way back to Equestria. Sunset had harnessed Equestrian Magic all those months ago before the Rainbooms. And Sunset was always the most interested in knowing about the ancient Equestria.
Adagio's eyes widened in understanding. She looked at Sunset, leaning back a little and resting the weight of her torso on a hand.
"You…" Adagio started, and Sunset looked at her expectantly. "You're from Equestria…" Sunset's mouth became a thin line, and her eyes started to quiver from side to side. Adagio leaned closer to her. "You're a pony, aren't you?"
Sunset looked away, biting her lower lip with a guilty expression. She shifted, hugging her legs while lifting her gaze to the ocean.
"I'm sorry," she said, making a sad frown. "I didn't want to keep it a secret, it's just…" She took a quivery breath as the air became a little colder. "To be honest, I didn't want the girls to know…" Adagio raised an eyebrow at that. "Don't get me wrong, it's not like they don't know, and I love them, honest! I just… If I mention it, they'll think I want to return, and they won't leave me alone until I do it…"
"Why?" Adagio asked. "Why don't you want to return? Equestria is millions of times better than this pathetic world!"
Sunset flashed a sad smile.
"If I return, I'll be forced to face Princess Celestia… I'm not ready for that just yet…"
Adagio blinked, looking at the ocean once again.
"Well, I won't force you to do anything…" She closed her eyes for a moment. "But I'll be really angry if you're lying to me."
Sunset gently placed her hand on Adagio's.
"I'd never do that. We're friends, aren't we?"
Adagio sighed through her nose.
The rest of their stay at the Dazzlings' beach house went uneventful. After Rainbow apologized, no one touched the subject again. But Sunset used the last few days there to talk with Princess Twilight about what she had promised to Adagio.
At first, Twilight's words seemed insecure, but Sunset had spent a lot of ink to assure and reassure her that the Dazzlings didn't have any bad intentions, that they only wanted to be home. But, even though Twilight trusted her judgment, she didn't quite trust the Dazzlings themselves. Mostly because, even though Sunset had been telling her about them, she hadn't met them after their reformation yet.
In the end, Twilight agreed to let them return, but obviously, she had a few conditions. One of them, of course, was that Sunset accompanied them. Naturally, Sunset declined, as she didn't want to return just yet. She didn't want to meet Celestia just yet.
Twilight told her that she didn't have to meet Celestia if she didn't want to, after all, the portal was in her own castle, and not in Canterlot or in the Crystal Empire. Besides, she wanted to meet Sunset too, as the only time they met in Equestria wasn't exactly pleasant, and the two times they met in the human world weren't peaceful either.
Sunset wanted to meet Twilight too, she was the reason her world was brighter, after all. Besides, she had promised Adagio that she'd do anything she could to help them return, and she wasn't going to be a good friend if she denied them the opportunity for a selfish reason.
And so, with a shaky hand, Sunset agreed.
A week later, Sunset found herself in front of the portal to Equestria with the rest of the Rainbooms there.
"So, they're really leaving, huh?" Pinkie asked with a pout.
"Yes," Sunset answered with a sad frown. She looked around, watching the sad expressions of her friends. "You have to understand, they've been away from their home for thousands of years. And this is the only chance they've had in all that time to return." She leaned back and hugged herself with one arm. "If we want to call ourselves their friends, we have to let them go and give them our best wishes."
It wasn't exactly an encouraging speech, but the girls nodded. Rainbow walked to the portal and placed a hand on it.
"Why can't we go with you?" She asked, trailing her fingers down the surface. "We wanna see where you come from, Sunset!"
"Yes, I bet their fashion is unique!" Rarity lit up at the thought. "Perhaps I could take an idea or two."
"And all the magical animals!" Fluttershy said.
Sunset chuckled weakly.
"I wish I could invite you, and I bet Princess Twilight would love having you there, but-"
"Having so many beings from one dimension go to another would cause a magical unbalance and we'd have to begin an epic adventure to save both worlds and probably the multiverse?!" Pinkie asked bouncing on her tip toes.
"No…" Sunset answered. "At least, I don't think so. I mean, this world has Equestrian magic, something that shouldn't be. And as far as I know, nothing's out of the ordinary." She tilted her head. "It's just that it'd be a bit confusing if all of you meet your counterparts, and even though that sounds like a really crazy and fun situation, I think it'll be better if we postpone it for another time."
After that, they went silent. Sunset was still unsure about returning to Equestria, but she had to do it for her friends. Not that she had a choice anymore. She had told the Dazzlings that they were going to return today, and they were waiting for them. She couldn't chicken out now.
"Here they are," Applejack said, and everyone watched a black Lamborghini parking right in front of the school. "And they have a new toy."
Aria practically jumped to the ground the moment the car stopped, kneeling down and panting heavily.
"Help! She's crazy!" Aria shouted, pointing at Sonata, who was getting off the pilot's seat.
"Aw, come on Aria!" Sonata pouted. "I had to make sure it was a fast car! Besides, I didn't hit anything, did I?"
"No," Adagio answered as she slowly closed the co-pilot's door. "But you could have had an accident."
"But I didn't," Sonata said, shrugging. She saw the Rainbooms staring at them and waved her arms. "Hello!" She saw Rainbow Dash and leaned back, adopting a throwing position. "Think fast!" And with that, she threw something at Rainbow.
Thanks to her fast reflexes, Rainbow caught the projectile before it hit her. She looked at it and felt her stomach fall.
"Happy Birthday in advance," Adagio said. It was the keys of the car.
"Wait… You bought me the best car ever?!"
"Yes," Adagio said with a small smile. "We don't have plans to return to this world at least for another three thousand years." She chuckled at her own joke. "So we decided to give you all birthday presents."
"Fluttershy," Aria said. "You said you couldn't study veterinary because you don't have enough money." She pointed at the car. "There's a suitcase in the trunk with your name on it. You will be able to pay for your studies in the best university of the country." She could actually see the sparks in Fluttershy's eyes. She decided to continue before she got blinded. "Rarity, we made an investment to your boutique. You should be able to finish all your projects and then some more."
"Thank you!" Was everything Rarity could mutter as she frantically searched for a place to faint safely.
"Applejack," Sonata started, "Canterlot's General Hospital received a donation in your name. Now you can take Granny Smith there for her surgery." Applejack took her Stetson hat and placed in on her chest as tears of gratitude started to run down her cheeks. Sonata smiled at her and then turned to Pinkie. "Pinkie, there's a T.V. network very interested in your idea of the party show. I think they'll call you tomorrow."
Pinkie rushed to Sonata and gave her a bear hug, lifting her from the ground.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
"And the grand finale," Adagio continued, looking at Sunset. "You are helping us in ways we wouldn't ever imagine. You're giving us what we most desire: to go home…" She smiled, and unlike any other smile she had given these past months, this one was a real one. "That's why everything else we have; our properties, our possessions, our businesses, and all our wealth, is now yours." Sunset gaped, unable to answer properly. Adagio only kept smiling. "Yes, with everything we had gathered now in one place, that makes you now the richest person in the world, and by a wide margin."
"I…" Sunset couldn't stop gaping. "I don't… I can't accept that!"
"Yes, you can," Adagio said. "But if you really feel like that, you can donate the fortune we gathered for thousands of years to charity or something." She shrugged. "It's not like we'll need it anymore."
"I don't know what to say…"
"How about 'you're welcome'?" Adagio proposed. "You know, because these are our thanks to you."
Sunset smiled, and Adagio could see her arms slightly moving. She frowned, as she had been dreading this moment for months. She wanted to avoid it forever, but now she knew she couldn't get away. Not after these giving everything material to the Rainbooms. She sighed heavily.
"Fine… But make it quick."
She didn't even finish the last word when Sunset closed the distance between them and hugged her. Immediately after, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, Rainbow, and Sonata joined them, while Pinkie managed to pull Aria into the group hug as well. There were some tears shed, and some reassuring words said, but it wasn't too long before Aria snapped.
"Alright, that's enough!" She yelled, escaping the embrace.
When the girls stopped hugging and unconsciously made a semi-circle in front of the statue, Sunset took her journal from her bag that was lying not too far from them. She let out a heavy sigh and opened it up.
"We're really going to miss you, girls." Sunset said, looking at Sonata, then at Aria, then at Adagio, and finally at her journal again.
"That's the way to Equestria?" Aria asked, making Sunset chuckle a bit.
"No," Sunset answered, "but you can say that it's some kind of ticket." She took a pen and started to write, saying out loud the words. "We're ready." And then, she closed the book and looked at the statue. "Girls, I present to you the portal to Equestria."
In that moment, the statue's surface started to glow dimly. It was hard to tell, but the Dazzlings could see a few sparks coming from it. They could feel the soft waves of magic pouring from the portal; they were unable to do magic, but they could still feel it. Sunset walked up to it and softly placed a hand on it, watching her fingertips cross a little to the other side. She turned around with a sad smile.
"I'll go first," she said, snapping the Dazzlings out of their reverie. "You three can go once you say your last goodbyes…"
"You're going to come back, right?" Pinkie asked, idly playing with her hands.
"Of course," Sunset answered. "I may be from Equestria, but this world is my home now, and you girls are my family." She then took her journal with a hand and threw it to Pinkie. "It needs to stay here as a sort of gateway for the magic. And it also serves as my promise to return." With that said, she turned around and inhaled deeply.
She had to do it now, or she would never do it, so she forced her feet to walk. The arcane magic wrapped her body, and she suddenly wanted to chicken out, but it was too late. She found herself in a turmoil of colors that had no name, and sounds that she could not understand. The feeling of imploding within her stomach and then expanding at the other side was so weird, she didn't think she'd ever get used to it.
At least it wasn't exactly unpleasant.
Sunset landed on her hooves. Her balance was a bit off, but she managed to stay standing. She blinked a couple of times, forcing away the white spots in her vision. Once she was sure her sight was ok, she lifted her head.
The first thing she saw was Princess Twilight, staring at her with a warm smile.
"Welcome back, Sunset."
Sunset smiled weakly. Twilight looked a lot different in her real form, yet at the same time, really similar. Sunset was going to say hi, but a strange sound from behind startled her.
Standing majestically on a pedestal, the mirror that served as a portal to the human world was shining brightly. The sparks of magic indicated that someone was crossing through. Sunset waited patiently. She wanted to see how the sirens looked like in their real forms; the books about them had very simple illustrations, and she couldn't get a good look at them during the battle.
A flash of light forced the ponies to cover their eyes. It was strange, to say the least, because the times they had seen someone crossing the portal, the flash hadn't been so bright.
When Sunset uncovered her eyes, she felt her stomach fall a little.
In front of her were the Dazzlings, that was pretty much obvious, and they were in their real forms as expected: a kind of amalgam between ponies, dragons and fish. But she hadn't thought that they would be so incredibly big. They were at least four times her size!
One of them, whom she could barely recognize as Adagio, rose to her full height. She tottered, resting her tail on the floor in a somewhat uncomfortable position, as her forelegs wobbled and bent.
Adagio was extremely disoriented. Her balance was off, and she felt so weak that she couldn't even hover. Her vision was a bit blurry, and everything was spinning wildly around her. With a titanic effort, she turned around, finding Aria and Sonata tangled on each other and in her same state.
For a moment, Adagio felt at ease. She really was in Equestria again. After all this time, they had finally returned.
"I'm home…" She tried to say, but the words died in her throat as she suddenly felt a stinging pain at the base of her throat. She gritted her teeth as her body started to writhe in agony. She fell to the ground, and before she could mutter a call for help, the world blacked out.
Her eyelids felt as heavy as rocks, and her eyes were covered in dry tears, but the pain had faded away. Adagio shifted, slowly opening her eyes to inspect the world once more.
She was surrounded by crystal walls, a perfectly polished floor and a ridiculously high ceiling. She was on a bed made of crystals and a surprisingly comfortable mattress. At her left was Aria, sleeping on a bed equal to hers, and beyond was Sonata, snoring loudly. Fortunately, the room was big enough to fit the three of them without any problems.
"H-Hey…" A voice snapped her out of her thoughts. She looked down to the source, finding a very small and fragile-looking purple dragon. "Good morning."
Adagio narrowed her eyes, making the little dragon step back nervously.
"How long was I out?"
"A couple of hours. It's almost noon though."
Adagio hummed as she tried to get up. The little dragon shifted awkwardly out of her way when she climbed down the bed. She could feel the air currents smoothly flowing through her fins and scales, and her body felt lighter than before.
Finally, she could hover.
Adagio looked at the dragon, who was staring at her. She started to feel a little uneasy as the little guy looked like he had stars in his eyes.
"What is it?" She snapped. She hadn't meant to be so aggressive, but she had never liked children.
"Uhm…" He looked away, making a nervous humming. "You're pretty…"
That statement caught her off guard. Of course, she was perfectly aware that she was gorgeous in any world, but the dragon had said it so out of the blue that she didn't know how to react.
"Thanks…" She said slowly.
"The name's Spike, by the way! And I'm Princess Twilight Sparkle's number one assistant and guardian of the Friendship Castle!" He said, inflating his chest in an attempt to look bigger.
Adagio rolled her eyes.
Spike was about to say something else, but a loud yawn interrupted him. Adagio turned around to see that Aria and Sonata were waking up. It took them about the same time as Adagio to get off their beds.
"This place is so shiny!" Sonata said, inspecting everything shiny.
"Where are we, exactly?" Aria asked. Unlike Adagio, who had her torso straightened up and her forelegs bent against her chest, she was more near the ground, always looking like a predator about to bounce. "It's too bright to be a prison…"
"Because it isn't!" Spike said, smiling widely. "My name is Spike the dragon. I'm Princess Twilight Sparkle's number one assistant, guardian of the Friendship Castle, and your personal guide!"
"Cool!" Sonata circled him once and lowered her head to look at him from the same height. Spike somehow managed to produce a blush on the scales of his cheeks. "Can we see the dungeons first? I bet they're as shiny as this room!"
"Well… We don't have dungeons," Spike said, feeling a little anxious. "At least, not in this castle…" He saw the spark of disappointment in Sonata's eyes, and he forced his mind to think of something. "B-But I can take you to the library! It has all sorts of crazy books!"
"Pass," Aria said, lazily climbing onto her bed.
"Well, how about the throne room?" Spike proposed. "Twilight and Sunset are waiting for you there too!"
Aria groaned at the mention of having to leave her bed again. Adagio on her part gave Spike a small smile, making him blush.
"Could you give us a couple of minutes to get ready?"
"Sure!" Spike saluted and ran off, closing the door behind him and leaving the sirens alone.
Adagio sat down on the floor, resting her body on her hooves and tail. She forced out a heavy sigh. Her ears dropped to the sides of her head, and her fins folded against her back. She felt Sonata sitting in front of her, followed closely by Aria, who decided to lie down. The three made a perfect triangle, looking at the same point in the center to avoid the others' eyes.
"So…" Aria started, drifting her sight to her hooves. "Was that a sign?" She looked at Adagio in search for an answer, but Adagio didn't look back, seemingly ignoring her. "What does it mean?" She asked, but Adagio remained silent. "Adagio!"
"Don't ask me!" Adagio snapped. Tears started to form in her eyes. "Don't ask me… when you already know the answer…"
Sonata managed to pale, deciding to lie down when Aria got on her hooves and stomped them on the ground.
"I can't believe it!" Aria cried, sobbing back her tears. "After all we've been through…"
"What do we do now?" Sonata asked.
"I…" Adagio choked, lifting her head to look at Sonata in the eyes. "This is the moment where we separate…" At the horrified looks of the girls, she explained. "You've been following me around ever since we were born, and I've brought upon you nothing but disgrace and pain…" She hiccupped, still trying to fight back her tears. "This… I can't decide for you… If you want to return to the human world, I won't hold you down…"
Aria stood up, and Adagio closed her eyes in shame. Aria walked up to her and slapped her with so much strength that Adagio fell.
"Stop self pitying yourself," Aria said, and although her voice was stern, the look of her eyes spoke of concern. "We've lived together for thousands of years. I can't imagine a life without you to guide us, or Sonata to drive me crazy." She inhaled sharply through her teeth. "We finally returned to Equestria, if…" The words died in her throat, and she choked for a moment. Sonata slid to her side and nuzzled her leg. Aria nodded slowly and took a deep breath. "If the prize of returning to Equestria is dying, then so be it. But I won't die alone."
Adagio frowned in a failed attempt to hold back her tears. She didn't know when was it that Aria became so smart. No, that wasn't right. Aria had always been smart, but she always did what Adagio ordered, even if she knew it could lead to their deaths. In fact, Aria probably knew what their fate would be if they returned home, and yet decided to follow, just because she trusted her with her life.
And then, there was Sonata. That girl could be so dull at moments, unable to understand sarcasm or double meaning, and the next moment, she would get the brightest of ideas. Since the beginning, Sonata made herself the follower; she'd never question anything Adagio told her to do, even if she didn't like it. She was so loyal and devoted, it was a wonder she hadn't thrown herself from a cliff as Aria had suggested millions of times.
Adagio blinked. For thousands of years, she had ordered these girls around as if it was her right, but the only reason she could do it was because they let her; because they trusted her. One day, they just spawned in the world, and they were already together. How could she suggest that they should separate? As Aria said, she couldn't think of a live without them either. They weren't her minions to order around, but they weren't her partners either. No, they were much more than that: They were her family.
Of course, she understood the concept of family, but she had never thought about it. She believed that she didn't need that, but she was wrong, because ever since she could remember she had one, she had always had a family. Aria and Sonata were more than her friends; they were her sisters.
Adagio stood up, and her mouth managed to form a smile. She hung her head as she approached Aria, and for the first time in her entire life, she hugged her.
Aria didn't react at first, but when she felt Sonata joining the hug, she eased her body and responded, circling her legs around Adagio and Sonata. For the first time, they all were voluntarily hugging, and for the first time, they were opening their hearts to each other.
They were family. They were sisters.
Sunset paced around the throne room, circling the centric table that doubled as a magic map. She stopped, her eyes quivered in concentration, she sighed, and reassumed her pacing. Twilight, on her part, was sitting in her throne, showing a mix of concern and amusement in her face.
"Sunset, honestly," Twilight said, "It's not that big of a deal."
"How can you say that?" Sunset asked without looking at her, still pacing. "It's too much money! It's the equivalent of the entirety of Equestria's wealth! What if I become greedy again?"
Twilight shook her head.
"We've talked about it several times, Sunset," Twilight said, calmly sipping some tea from a porcelain cup. "The reason you craved for power was because you thought it would help you get closer to Celestia." She placed her cup on the table. "If the Dazzlings gave you their money, it's because they trust you're going to give proper use of it. And I too trust you."
"Sunset, you're a good pony," Twilight interrupted her with a calm voice. Her smile was warm and welcoming, and Sunset couldn't help but smile a little. "I know you'll do so much good with all that money. The human world will be a better place thanks to you. I know it."
Sunset's ears bent against her head as a faint blush appeared in her cheeks.
In that moment, the giant doors opened a little and Spike stepped in.
"Now presenting, the Dazzlings!" He yelled, making Sunset and Twilight turn to him.
The doors opened wide, revealing the sirens. Sunset was about to trot to them, but she noticed that something was off. Their faces had a weird mix of happiness and grief at the same time. It was physically impossible, or at least it should be.
"Good afternoon," Adagio said, hovering past Spike and stopping next to the thrones. Aria and Sonata followed closely, while Spike stood behind, just staring at the beautiful sirens.
"Hello," Twilight said with a smile as she waved her leg. "I'm glad we can meet in friendly circumstances."
"How are you feeling?" Sunset hurried, looking up to Adagio, then drifting her eyes to Sonata and Aria.
"We're fine," Adagio assured her. "We just got a little dizzy for the travel." She circled Sunset with a wave of her body and got a little closer to Twilight. "So you are the fantastic princess Sunset always talks about."
"I-I didn't say fantastic!"
"A pleasure to meet you. All of you," Twilight smiled brightly.
Adagio observed the purple pony for a moment, seemingly lost in her thoughts. She closed her eyes and hummed, sighing through her nostrils. Sunset was about to inquire if she was ok, but Adagio opened her eyes a little and forced a smile to Twilight.
"From what Sunset told us about you, I understand that you have a lot of questions about us."
"Oh, yes! Where do I begin?" Twilight answered, unconsciously beating her wings in excitement.
"And we'd love to answer every single one of them, but…" She raised a foreleg, silencing whatever protest Twilight was going to say. "But, that will only happen if you aid us with something first."
"Adagio…" Sunset whispered loudly through her teeth.
"It's ok, Sunset," Twilight said with a bright smile, then looking up to Adagio again. "As long as it's within my capabilities, I'll do anything I can do to help you."
Adagio smirked and lowered her body so that their eyes would be at the same height.
"I bet Sunset told you that we really missed Equestria," Adagio said slowly. Twilight nodded in silence. "Well, the thing we missed the most was the ocean. If you take us to the ocean, we'll answer everything that mind of yours come up with."
"Sure!" Twilight stated, and immediately looked past Adagio and to Spike, who was talking with Sonata. "Spike! Prepare our luggage! We're going to Horseshoe Bay!" She then looked at Sunset. "You're coming with us, right?"
Sunset grinned nervously at her.
"S-Sure! Why wouldn't I? It's not like the train makes a stop in Canterlot or anything!"
Adagio looked at her with an eyebrow raised as Twilight trotted over her.
"Sunset," Twilight said softly, putting a hoof on Sunset's shoulder. "You won't see Celestia if you don't want to. I can assure you that."
Sunset stared into Twilight's eyes. She almost wanted to find a spark of lie, if only so that she wouldn't risk herself getting caught. But she didn't, for Twilight's eyes spoke volumes of her loyalty. Sunset sighed softly and smiled.
"Alright… I trust you…"
Sometimes, Twilight still felt a little uncomfortable with her title as Princess. She still wasn't used to be called as such, or to the preferential treatment everypony gave her, or that they asked her for her autograph. Sometimes, she wished she was still a regular unicorn so that she could go eat some hayburgers without getting harassed by paparazzi.
But at the end of the day, being a princess had more advantages. Like getting a whole train's wagon just for her, and adapted so that the sirens could get it with no problems. She knew that she was causing troubles to those ponies that had to comply her requests, but she was doing it for the greater good! Sirens were completely unknown territory for ponies, and she was going to record everything she could before they left Equestria.
"Ok, we should arrive at Horseshoe Bay by sundown," Twilight announced as she got into the wagon, closing the door behind her. "Wish I could invite my friends, but they all are busy. Well, I suppose there's always a next time."
"Sure," Sunset answered, looking through the window as the train started to move.
Twilight was about to say something, but she noticed something by the corner of her eye. She turned around and saw the sirens, lying on the floor on top of each other with the most tired expressions she had seen since Luna in the mornings. Sonata and Aria were asleep, looking as if they had lost a fierce battle, while Adagio, who was on the top, had her eyes narrowed, fighting the urge to sleep like her sisters.
"Are you alright?" Twilight asked.
Adagio didn't seem to hear her, as she remained silent for a few seconds, looking at nothing in particular. She blinked very slowly before her eyes moved to look at Twilight. Sharp pupils slowly focusing on the pony.
"Yeah…" She answered in a low whisper, not wanting to spend more energy than strictly necessary. "Just a… little tired…"
"Is there something I can help you with?"
"You could…" Adagio chuckled a little, closing her eyes for a moment as a sigh escaped through her teeth. "You could help me… with a spell to… not fall asleep…"
Twilight cocked her head for a moment.
"Now that I think about it, you haven't eaten yet, right?" Adagio nodded so slowly, Twilight could've missed it if she hadn't been paying attention. "Well, I'll get you some food. What would you like to eat?"
"Well, we don't-"
"Amber it is!"
That was something Twilight was going to take notes of. Sirens could eat meat and gemstones, just like dragons. She wondered if they could also eat vegetables, or grass, or something else. There was a lot of research to do, and so little time. She had to keep Adagio awake, so she had to bring her food fast.
She ran to the other wagon, and after a couple of minutes, she returned, levitating a plate full with ambers. She was relieved to see that Adagio not only wasn't asleep, but she was talking with Sunset, who seemed a little less nervous.
"Here's your food!" Twilight announced, putting the plate on the floor right next to the pile of sirens. Adagio thanked silently before starting to eat. She was very unused to the action of chewing rocks, but at least it tasted heavenly, just as she remembered.
There was some shifting as Sonata rolled her body, somehow managing not to disturb Adagio or Aria.
"I smell Amber," she said, and then found the plate. Adagio eyed her for a moment before pushing the plate closer to Sonata with her snout, so that she could eat too.
"I'll bring more, in case Aria wakes up," Sunset said, and quietly went to the other wagon.
Twilight looked at her for a moment. Sunset had told her that she didn't want to stay more than a couple of hours, but she was doing so just for the siren's sake. Twilight knew that Sunset was very uncomfortable, so she started to think of how to repay the favor. But, she had first to interview the sirens. She'd have time to speak with Sunset when they returned to Ponyville.
"So, Adagio," Twilight started, sitting in front of her and feeling really tiny. "Is it ok if I ask you some questions?"
Adagio looked at her for a moment. She chewed very slowly, savoring the amber before swallowing.
"Great!" Twilight lit her horn and conjured parchment, a quill and a bottle of ink. "I think the best question to start with is: Where do you come from?"
"The sea, of course!" Sonata answered as Adagio took another mouthful of amber.
"Uh, yes, but-"
"I think she wants to know which part of the sea," Aria said, not even bothering to turn around. She was at the bottom of the pile, and too lazy to want to move. Although hunger was winning her inner battle.
"Oh." Sonata put a hoof below her chin. "It was… nine miles at the south of Saddle Arabia, I guess…" She grabbed an amber with her teeth and started to chew it. "Twenty miles below the surface… Oh! There was an island too!"
"More or less what Sonata said," Adagio muttered with her mouth still full of gems.
"So, you were born under the sea?" Twilight asked, making sure to write everything down.
"Mmhm," Adagio swallowed and gave out a little sigh.
"Hm I know this might sound invasive, but… How are sirens born, exactly?"
"Every thousand years, a dragon, a pony and a shark have a wild sex night," Aria answered lazily.
Twilight couldn't hide the blush appearing on her cheeks, much less when Sonata started laughing loudly.
"Wish it was that way," Adagio said after a couple of chuckles. "Under the sea, there are billions upon billions of gemstones. The majority are just shiny rocks with nothing outstanding. But there are a few that have perfect shapes. Like perfect triangles, or squares… or hexagons…" She put a hoof on her chest and sighed. "Under the sea, there's an incredible concentration of natural magic. The kind of which ponies have never experienced before. Now, sometimes, these concentrations accumulate in dense balls of energy that later disperse, and nothing happens. But when these concentrations are near one of these perfectly shaped gemstones, there's a small probability that the gemstone will absorb the energy.
"If that happens, the gemstone will affect the other perfect gemstones that are near this one in a radius of approximately twelve inches. Once this happens, the energy divides in even parts through the gems, and they start to mutate. Now, normally, these reactions only create sea monsters with simple minds. But there was one more ingredient at our birth: There was a dead dragon there. It had only a couple of days there, so a lot of its magic mixed up with ours, and thus we adopted many of its features."
"I see…" Twilight was scribbling in the parchment, but she never stopped looking at the sirens. "That's… amazing!"
"Yeah!" Sonata exclaimed. "We literally just spawned there. It was only the three of us, and we decided to stick together forever!"
"Which proved to be an unbearable challenge…" Aria muttered as she rolled over, making sure not to disturb the others too much. "Make space, I'm hungry." Sonata did as was told and let Aria eat some of the ambers.
In that moment, Sunset returned, levitating another plate of gemstones. She had decided that the sirens would like some variety, so she brought some rubies, sapphires and amethysts. She cocked her head and smiled at the sirens.
"I'm glad to see all of you awake. I brought you more food."
"Thanks," Adagio said as Sunset placed the plate next to the other.
"Oh! I love rubies! I missed them so much!" Sonata said, burying her head on the other plate and chewing as much as she could.
Sunset looked around for a moment and then turned to Twilight.
"Hey, where's Spike? I haven't seen him since we got in the train."
"Didn't you hear? He wanted to stay to help Rarity with her boutique."
Sunset made a face.
"Poor guy, when are you going to tell him?"
"He has to realize it someday… I wish Rarity didn't get his hope high, but I can't blame her either… She just doesn't want to break his heart…"
"He'll suffer anyway."
"Yeah, I know…"
"Hey!" Aria called out. "What are you talking about?"
"It's nothing!" Twilight said with a smile. "So, uh, when did you notice that you could control ponies with your magic?"
"We didn't control anyone," Adagio answered. "We influenced in their decisions.
"We always had this need to sing. So we sang. One day, we noticed a shadow above, and we went to investigate. It was a ship of minotaurs. We noticed the smell of something tasty, and we wanted it, so we went to have it. The minotaurs didn't like that we wanted their food, so they started attacking us with spears. That was when we started to sing out of instinct. We sang, and the minotaurs stopped moving. We took advantage and went for their food before returning to the sea.
"We later discovered that we had this ability, and started to use it to get whatever we wanted. At first it was only food, but with time we started to want more things, and eventually, we found out that we could feed off negative emotions, and that it gave us more magic… And you know the rest."
"Interesting…" Twilight wrote as fast as she could. "I noticed that you absorbed that energy through those red gems. Are those the ones you were born from?"
The three sirens stopped whatever they were doing and looked at each other for a moment. And after almost a minute, they all sighed at the same time.
"Yes," Adagio answered, and she decided to rest her head upon Sonata. "You know what? I'm tired, I want to sleep."
"Me too," Aria said and rested her head on her hooves.
"Me three," Sonata said, looking unnervingly quiet, and rested her head upon Aria.
Twilight looked confused, but Sunset grabbed her from a leg and dragged her at the other side of the wagon.
"Why did you ask that?" Sunset asked with an angry tone. "We broke those gems, remember?! We literally destroyed the reason they're alive!"
Twilight's ears folded against her head as she lowered her head.
"S-Sorry! I didn't mean to be rude! It's just-"
"I know…" Sunset sighed. "It's just… I've never seen them like this…" She turned around, looking at the pile of sirens with concern. "They're always together, but they're never this close to each other. And Aria letting Sonata touch her, let alone sleep on her, is the thing that worries me the most."
Twilight observed her guests as they slept. Not only were they close, they looked like they were trying to protect each other, as a litter of wolves trying to keep warm in a freezing night of winter. She had more questions she wanted to ask; she needed to feed her curiosity. But she couldn't bring herself to disturb them.
After all, she could always restart her research when they woke up.
"Girls, wake up."
Sunset's voice echoed through the darkness, just like a drop of water falling into a lake hidden underneath a cave. As her mind started to walk up the path of consciousness once again, Adagio could feel warmth leaving her body. She almost wanted to go to sleep again, to ignore that voice and be comfortable once more.
"Adagio, Aria, Sonata. We've arrived!"
The image of the endless sea former in her half-awake mind. It was turquoise, and it mixed up with the clear sky almost perfectly. Adagio could smell the sea filled up with scents of salt and seaweed and coconuts, and her heart fastened its pace, forcing energy into her veins and making her open her eyes.
She saw Sunset's face looking at her with a frown of concern.
"Hey." She muttered, blinking slowly and forcing a smile.
“Are you alright?” Sunset asked. “You haven’t moved an inch for three hours straight. I was starting to worry…”
Adagio could feel a pressure building inside her chest. She inhaled sharply, closing her eyes.
“The smell of Equestrian sea,” she began, gently nudging her sisters. “it’s as heavenly as I remembered.”
Before Sunset could repeat her question, both Aria and Sonata shifted, sniffing the salty air, and slowly standing up. Sunset could see the look in their eyes; old and tired and sad and hopeful, all at the same time. Aria mumbled something, to which Sonata agreed with a grunt. Adagio sighed and opened her eyes, looking down at Sunset.
“Where’s the princess?.” Adagio’s voice was a dry whisper.
Sunset’s eyes drifted from siren to siren until locking stares with Adagio.
“She went to talk with the guard stationed here. She doesn’t want them to think you’re enemies and start attacking you.”
“Much appreciated,” Adagio said, lowering her head to be at the same eye level with Sunset. Her jaw gently touching the floor. “Sunset, I need to ask you one last favor.”
“S-Sure, what is it?” Sunset asked nervously.
“Tell the princess we’re sorry.” At Sunset’s confused expression, Adagio explained, “We won’t answer more of her questions. We’re leaving now.”
“What?” Sunset lifted a foreleg, gazing at a nodding Sonata. “You made a promise to her!”
“That’s why we’re sorry,” Adagio produced a sad frown. “We don’t have any more time…” She sighed, lifting her head and straightening her body. “Thank you, Sunset Shimmer. For everything.”
Sunset stepped back a little, her eyes widening in confusion and denial.
“Is there…” Sunset gulped, searching for will to finish her question. “Is there something you’d like to tell me?”
Aria and Sonata looked away, while Adagio narrowed her eyes. Her expression unreadable.
“Sunset, we are dying.” Sunset gaped, and Adagio decided not to let her ask the obvious. “We were fine in the human world; we could have had normal lives there. But here, being in our original bodies without our cores…” She shook her head. “We’ve run out of time.”
“We wanted to return where we were born, but it’s impossible now…” Adagio looked to the window, admiring the early sunset. “At least we’ll die in the sea…”
“Sunset, please,” Adagio said, not wanting to look at Sunset, “don’t make this more difficult than it already is.”
“No!” Sunset cried out, tears already dripping from her face. “Why didn’t you tell us in the castle?! We could have figured something out!”
Adagio placed a hoof upon Sunset’s snout. It was tiny compared to her gargantuan leg.
“We’ve made our choice. There’s no going back now,” Adagio said. “In fact, we only used you and your friends to return home. You were only a means for a goal.” Her voice quivered, and she was glad that her reptile eyes were unable to cry like those of a pony. “You are nothing but a stupid, gullible pony.” Her chest felt heavy, and her throat closed slightly. “Now that you know the truth, you can just forget about us.”
Adagio motioned her sisters to get off the train. They were reluctant at first, but obliged anyway. And just as Adagio turned to leave too, she felt Sunset’s tiny hoof against her tail. She stopped, but refused to turn around.
“Please,” her voice was a shaky whisper, “please, Sunset, make it easy.”
“I…” Sunset hiccuped in a failed attempt to hold back her tears. “I will never forget you… I’ll make sure nobody forgets you!” She yelled.
Adagio said nothing, and after a moment, she nodded and followed her sisters.
As the three of them reached the cove of the beach, scaring many ponies on their way, Twilight came trotting to the train. She looked at Sunset, who was standing in the doorframe, as rivers of guilt and sadness cascaded through her cheeks.
“Sunset? What happened?”
Adagio, Aria, and Sonata, hovered above the waves of salty water. Their bodies pulsed in agony, and they stopped, right in the middle of the bay. They formed a circle and looked at each other. For the first time in millenia, Aria had a peaceful smile on her face, and for the first time in millenia, the three of them pressed their heads together, pulling one another in a loving embrace.
Sunset didn’t dare look at Twilight, and she just pointed at the bay. Twilight followed, and her heart jumped at the sight. Even from this distance, she could perfectly see the silhouette of the three sirens, hovering in the middle of the bay, just as the sun started to reach the horizon.
Adagio let out a sigh as the pain started to fade away, followed by a soothing sensation. Sonata moved the fins of her back a little, and was the first to close her eyes, followed closely by her sisters.
“Sunset…” Twilight’s jaw worked silent words for a moment. “What’s going on?”
Aria started to hum. It was a low and raspy note, but somehow, even without her core, it was in perfect melody. Adagio and Sonata followed suit, humming vowels. And for the first time in a lifetime, it wasn’t a spell. It was just a song, coming from the bottom of their hearts. Their wordless song resonated throughout the bay, a crescendo that were never too loud.
The water below them formed a spiral as their magic began to mix with that of the sea. Little waves reached higher and higher, until they touched their tails. They began to sink their bodies, slowly, and the water seemed to circle around them, hugging them. Their song was in perfect synchrony with the water’s movements.
And when their tails had completely disappeared inside, their bodies began to change, adopting a whitish color. Their fins were the first to melt, running like water through their bodies, but they didn’t seem to notice. And as the song reached its final notes, their bodies began to fall apart, falling into the sea, not as flesh or scales, but as foam. They never stopped singing, not even when their mouths fell apart, or their heads was the only thing left.
Sunset clenched her teeth as her heart poured her emotions into her tears. She looked at Twilight, not really watching her. And as impossible as it were, she managed a smile.
“They are home.”
It was until they had finally become one with the sea, that the sirens’ song ended.