Of Gods and Friendship
Prologue: Part One
- The Two Strangers -
Lyght Weave ascended into the foyer.
Following the crowd of noblecolts and mares in various suits and gowns, Lyght climbed the wide staircase where at the top he introduced a name and handed over a thin scroll to a pair of awaiting attendants by a pedestal. The elder of the two mares, with pink curls hinted with grey, unravelled the invitation and read the name printed over half-moon spectacles. She looked up to regard him, squinting, then turned away to the younger unicorn at her side whom flicked through a large register with her Aura. He distinctively heard the name "Master Glint Lock" whispered. The assistant quickly found the matching name, scratching something into the page with her floating quill, and nodded affirmatively back to her superior.
Lyght shot the ladies a grateful smile - forcing the younger of them to bury her face in the register to hide an intense blush - then stepped forward into the main hall where he was welcomed with the wave of a hoof under a name that wasn't his.
Lines of soldiers in glinted cyan armour stood stoically at attention either side of the plush red carpet, leading into in a large chamber at the base of the Crystal Keep. It was a grand and imposing sight, shaped like a flattened star from floor to ceiling and made from smooth, polished stone and gleaming crystal lattice. High above, vines of sapphires and ruby lanterns overhung from an arresting chandelier display. They stretched out, like lines of a starspider's web, glowing dimly, and wound themselves in thick coils around the massive ornate stone pillars stood about the ballroom. Enormous, rectangular stained-glass windows rose up along the walls of the hall. The setting Sun shone bright on the left side, throwing up a cascade of colour across the room. Dozens of white-clothed tables sat around the rim, filled with guests. In the distance, Lyght could make out balconies overlooking the city.
"Wow! The Crystal Keep," Lyght whispered to himself. It had been many years since he laid eyes on the Kingdom of Glass, and now he stood at the very heart of its great empire. Was it always this beautiful, Lyght wondered, before King Sombra corrupted everything with greed and shadow?
A string orchestra played on a platform to his left against the backdrop of the setting sunlight, providing music for the couples in the centre of the room. To his right, serving tables held platter upon platter of foods being attended by scurrying crystal ponies in white. Lyght took in the hum of the revellers. Voices buzzed all around like flashbees in a hive as they talked, laughed and drank. To the centre the room a sound of rhythmic claws, feet and hoofplates dancing; all the while the guests there swayed with their partners in facile motion. Trills of strings and stroked piano notes fluttered above the crowd, moving them like leaves in the wind, flowing through the room.
So much time has passed, Lyght thought as guests continued to fill in; like him, only having just joined the soiree this late hour. The world has changed. Moved on. Everything I once knew is no longer as I remember it. Even the music had changed.
Lyght turned and began to pick his way through the exquisite chamber. The revelry had lasted long; even the Empress, he noted, had retired for the evening, along with her daughter. But many still celebrated. As he walked, Lyght was forced to step around a yak - Prince Rutherford - who slumped, bored, at a table too small for him. The aging but powerfully built yak blew at the strands of hair covering his eyes and slurped noisily at his cup, muttering something about "weak pony brew". Where was Salvadus Starswirl, the Bearded? Sunburst, the Empress' advisory and Crystaller to Princess Flurry Heart, sat at the high table, caretaking the feast in Cadenza's absence. He was deep in conversation with two ponies, a dark-skinned earthling mare, and a tall tanned crystal pegasus dressed in a stiff cyan coat that was buttoned up to the neck. This stallion had a hard face with a patch of white fur curling up along his cheek. Or perhaps the gemlights were just reflecting off his gleaming skin? Lyght instantly recognized him as Strife Storm, Captain of the Quartzguard, Cadenza's personal bodyguard. Though the crystal pony didn't wear any armour, Lyght stayed clear of Strife Storm's gaze as he swept the ballroom like a roc. Little of his attention was dedicated to Sunburst and the mare, than it was aimed out toward the guests. What was he searching for? The Empress and Flurry Heart were obviously not in the hall, having left the party behind some time before Lyght's arrival.
Why, then, Lyght wondered, hasn't he retreated with them?
A warning inside whispered to Lyght; the captain was not there to socialize, or for aesthetics.
He thought it best not to stray too near to them, and wisely took the way that put as much distance between him and the high table.
In another time, Lyght would've laughed in the face of anypony who said that dragons or griffons could be civil, be that amongst themselves or with any creature beyond their homeland, let alone imagine them partake in something so dignified or as courtly as a grand ball. Yet, as he looked around the bustling room, Lyght caught glimpses of the fierce serpents sharing drinks with ponies at their own tables and laughing to crude jokes told by the lumbering yaks. A testament, indeed, to the legacy of Princess Sparkle and the Harmonies of Friendship. Lyght stepped to the side and cocked an amused eyebrow at a wyvern with a sizeable paunch and a ravenous appetite; even with the bountiful feasts prepared by the castle chefs, the dragon daringly took a sizeable chomp out of one of the ornate reliefs in the wall. Lyght winced. His ears quivered against the crashing snaps and crunches of glass while the wyvern chewed, like nails being scraped along a chalkboard. It was well known dragons favoured gemstones, above everything else, as tasty treats. But that snapping sound! A Quartzguard approached and Lyght quickly trotted away as the pony offered a silver platter stacked with fruits and small sweets. The dragon gobbled the entire selection before Lyght was two steps away - then he ate the plate. There were changelings here, too, tonight. Their glittery wings buzzed in excitement, and their marbled shells glinted splendidly with the sparkle of the crystal chandeliers.
I wonder, Lyght thought absentmindedly, if they are related to the aeons seen back home?
Lyght did not sway to the strum of the violins, drink the fermented razzleberry red wine, or pause to chat with any other creature. By the time he decided to enter the Crystal Keep the Sun was nearly gone in the west and the cold of night was nearing. His thoughts drew him to the balconies. Few gave his passing more than a glance, though he walked strong and confident; long cloak draped over his broad shoulders, gliding silently across the stainless floor at his heels. Out of all the open-top balconies he chose one with fewest guests, though some couples lingered to talk and breathe in the sights of the shining city around them.
Two guards were positioned either side of the entry way. Their eyes clocked Lyght, but he swiftly returned their stares with a comforting smile and respectful nod of his chin. Clearing through, Lyght stepped out into the cool twilight and breathed in. The outer platform was cast in a garish light - long shadows stretched out against the falling sunset - dimly lit by other several small blue-glassed lanterns on the walls. Lyght took a seat on a stone bench off to the side. From this position his shoulder was turned to the Sun, yet offered an open view to the oncoming of night as it rolled in from the east.
The Moon, he assured, would be out in full tonight. I will wait, as I have always done.
The first suitress approached not a few minutes later. "My, my!" The mare cooed with alacrity. "A handsome stranger, sitting alone out in the cold?" Her frilly dress was softly blue and a magenta scarf clung to her shoulders. She offered Lyght her hoof, smiling sweetly but keen. "Young stallion, come back inside with me. It is warmer and the food is simply divine this evening. You must try some! Join me, and my friends? We've tasted some of the best wine Empress Cadenza has to offer, and would be delighted by your company. Sit with us?"
"Sweet lady," Lyght said, bowing his head modestly as he spoke, "your offer is very generous, and your dress is very stunning. I'm sure your friends are quite charming creatures, equally as beautiful as you, yourself, are. Offer them my sincerity, would you? I fear I've had my fill of drink tonight, and need to stay here for some fresh air. I would only embarrass you. Perhaps another time?"
"Oh, I see." She replied quickly, forgetting her enthusiasm. "O-of course. How inconsiderate of me!" She touched a hoof to her breast, fumbling with the tassels of her scarf as the freckles dotted about her cheeks blinked white to red. Her eyes turned away, yet Lyght knew she saw him as a challenge. An attractive stallion with no plus one at one of the most elegant functions in Equestria? What female wouldn't want to try? What she hadn't anticipated, however, was the affable but genteel manner of his decline; especially, from one so young. Appearances can be deceiving, Lyght thought, I am not what you think me to be. But he meant well and was happy to see the mare hadn't been disappointed by his refusal. "Sorry. Sorry, again." She said. "A-another time. Yes! Goodnight..." Then she withdrew.
Over time more suitresses approached Lyght. They would not relent; often, as one returned through the parted curtains, ears flat with defeat and the tint of red in their cheeks, another would come abounding past like a knight on a quest. No doubt that makes me the creature they wish to tame, Lyght sat amused with a sly grin and a chuckle in his throat as a dragon slithered away snorted plumes of smoke from her snout. Despite never having considered himself a vain pony, Lyght could not deny how handsome he was. It was the sharp glint of his eye, the sway of his sincere smile, and the locks of his dark mane, which, despite his best efforts at controlling, would bundle in scruffy waves down about his ears. And yet, they didn't see him. Lyght. At this party, he was Glint Lock. Another pony. They saw only a mask - not the enigma that hid behind it. I haven't been myself for a long time, he sniffed, but this isn't about me. It's about something far greater! Out of all attempts it was the changeling Lyght found the most cute. She was a pretty little thing, with wide eyes and smooth rosy marbled skin. She confided in Lyght that her friends dared her into talking with him, something Lyght sighed heavily at. "I know," was all he said to soothe her bashfulness, kissing her hoof like a true gentlecolt until she burned entirely red. He would then whisper some comforting words in her ear, along with a wicked tail to tell for a little innocent revenge on her so-called 'friends' before sending her away like all the rest before. She thanked him for his kindness with a hug, jumping up and wrapping her arms around his neck. He thought she might cry she was so fragile. She retreated before he could react; wiping at her eyes, she alighted inside on buzzing wings.
Eventually, no others came. Their determination subdued, and they let him be.
Later on the orchestra inside started with a new melody and the strings plucked up. Lyght's ear twitched, swerving around as he tilt his head slightly. He could hear them play. The quick introduction of the cello's thrum as its strings resonated, followed by the high fifth of the violins while the players cut with their bows - slowly - then the uplift of the piano. This beckoned a call to those still on the balcony and they withdrew inside to join the dancing that begun anew. Lyght let his head sway from side to side, taken by this wondrous noise. That grey earthling mare, the one he noticed before leading the performers with the silk black mane and treble clef cutie mark, certainly had earned her trade.
The Sun burned fiercely to the west, a hill of yellow on white mountaintops. Lyght could feel its warmth run across his skin; however, he did not turn to watch it fade as most would do. Instead, with a deep breath, he glanced up into the eastern sky. There - as always - the Moon sat on high. The Crystal Keep glowed. From its upmost spire an explosion of new light erupted over the city, tendrils of beautiful, thrashing radiance. Red. Purple. Green. Blue and violet. This was the Aurora Awakening - at least, that's what the local ponies called it. And it was splendid! Out the arms of the Aurorae stretched, far beyond the what the eye could follow, rolling like waves across an ocean of stars.
This city, Lyght marvelled with the shifting glows swimming across his face, it is as they used to say: the beacons of the Crystal Empire will lead any creature through the darkest hour, and back into the light. A sudden thought came to him. It clung fast like a open wound, one he had lived with for countless years and it saddened him. I hope...I hope I can one day find my way back to my light through the dark. With ears drawn down, he looked once again to the Moon. Guide me, my evening star.
"Well, now, see what fortune brings me when I go wandering in search of a drink to sweeten the night." The sudden voice made the hairs on Lyght's neck quiver and he turned. "Never did I think to find you here." A middle-aged pegasus stood behind him, waiting patiently. Lyght studied the pony, noting the fur coat as white as winter's first snowfall and a face mostly handsome. He wore no suit. The dark grey of his vest was solid and crisp, yet it wasn't the finest Lyght had seen. The same could be said for the shirt, which blended in finely with the pony's fur as though it were a part of him; the edges of the collar gaping open with the sleeves rolled up, it seemed to fit him loosely. At first Lyght thought it was the Crystaller Sunburst standing before him, with that reddish mane, long and drawn over in a dishevelled quiff, a few strands waving other ways. But this pony wore no glasses nor had a scraggily beard. In his wing he carried a cup of razzleberry wine; the other, which seemed oddly broad for a pegasi, hung from his shoulder like a cape, and the outer pocket of his vest bulged with the shape of a book. His cutie mark was a closed book adorned with a golden pocket watch, nestled betwixt two silver rings.
"The problem now," said the pegasus, "is what to do when you return to find that your favourite spot has been stolen by a cute stallion."
Cute? Lyght blinked, flushed. "I'm sorry. I didn't know this seat was taken." There was something off-putting about this pony, though Lyght could not define what it was. Looking more closely, he could tell the equine wasn't quite as old as he seemed first glance. He was refined, of course, most likely a noble - but was actually much younger than he wanted to appear.
The pony laid a hoof to his chest. "Oh, see, now I feel guilty." He heaved his chalice. "All for a cup of razzleberry wine. However, all the other balconies are completely full at this current time with some very noisy guests. And I prefer a little quiet, right now." He offered a gentle smile. "But I am not one to shy away entirely from some company."
"I can leave, if you would like?" Lyght offered, rising from the bench. Too much time has been wasted already, something within him urged, must move on. Leave, now.
"No, no. I insist! Sit down, please." The pegasus motioned with his hoof to Lyght. "You would wound me if I were to scare you off so suddenly!" Strangely, Lyght felt obliged to do as the pegasus suggested and lowered himself down again. "There is more than enough room for the two of us. I will take a new spot here. No sense causing a fuss. As it is taught under the Givings of Generosity: 'what good are simple pleasures, if there are none of those around you to share them with', eh?" Taking a spot down on the stone bench, the stallion sighed in relief. "Ah, there we go. Much better. Now I can enjoy my wine." Surprisingly, he took out his book and began to read.
Lyght paused for a moment, watching him, but the pegasus seemed completely absorbed. Why prompted Lyght to sit back down? He thought he wanted to be alone tonight. Strange. Suddenly, I don't feel like leaving. Like, it...isn't the right time to go. His gaze wandered. The balcony gave a wonderful sight of the city, homes and towers made from perfect crystal and carven stone rising like beacons of light into the night. Lyght remembered a time when those same glass wall threatened to expand to every corner of Equestria, reaching and tearing at everything under the influence of Shadowlord Sombra. The area was quiet, and Lyght had felt wanting loneliness until the stallion interrupted. He decided, however, to indulge the pony's company and stay a little longer. He needed perspective. To reflect. To consider how this night would end for him. Thanks to his earlier efforts, all other guests had forsaken trying to talk to him. But not this pony. He seemed to show hardly any interest at all. He didn't even pause to look over at Lyght, earning himself an unregistered sharp glare.
The pegasus, however, sipped at his wine, humming softly.
How come I am not annoyed by his presence, but am intrigued to talk to him? Lyght questioned his own actions. So weird...He took note of the book's cover. A copy of the Friendship Journal published by the Mane Six. "You...follow the teachings of Friendship, I see?" Lyght asked.
The pegasus shrugged, focused on the book. "I'm no avid student. I don't follow the School of Friendship as closely as others do, if that is what you are implying? I only chase stories, where ever they are born. A story doesn't live until its imagined in someone's mind. They may be true, they may be fiction. All I know is that the stories themselves exist, and I must find them."
"Then why sit out here?" Lyght asked. "Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of coming? Why attend a party if you're just going to avoid socializing? All the other guests are back inside, enjoying the music and the food."
"Bah. There is nothing exciting going on in there! All creatures see in stories what they are looking for, my young friend. Myself included." Said the pegasus. "I have no answers. I feel I will never have any answers. But perhaps I have some for you. Just...not yet." Lyght went to ask what the pegasus meant by that though he carried on as if the words had never been spoken. "I've come to this party tonight to keep an eye on an old acquaintance but I end up spending much of my time hiding from him." He snickered, though Lyght failed to see the mirth behind it. "I know he's close by. Yes, still hadn't left yet. But I'll know when he will. Safe to say I don't think he's noticed me, so far."
Lyght glanced around the balcony. Whatever creatures had been socializing out here prior had now returned inside for warmth, refreshment or to join in the dancing. That left just Lyght and the strange pegasus. "There's no one else out here."
"You're out here," replied the pony. "And that's enough." Lyght frowned, glancing away. Not just me... he wanted to say. "Then again," the pegasus went on, thoughtfully, "I suppose you are right. From what I recall about the Suggestions of Kindness, were I a nobler creature, I'd be inclined to move on to another place; choose a different balcony, leaving whomever was here to their quiet contemplations. However, this is the best spot to experience the twilight. The city lamps make it difficult to notice from below."
"You're not even looking at the stars!" Lyght scowled.
"No matter." The pegasus said, indifferent. "I have seen plenty oncoming of the night, and will experience many more to come long from now. You may not realize this yet, but it is not that hard to get tired of the night sky. I've lived long enough to watch many a twilight fall over the world, yet there is more to it than what you see. Once you've watched a million of nights like this come and go - from any land, any kingdom, any new world - they start to seem a bit repetitive. That being said, I once witnessed a star very far from hear explode into nothing. Blip! Gone! But from that explosion came new stars." He lowered his book and a distant look glazed his expression, almost dreamy. "Humm. I wonder if you can do that to a living thing. Tear them apart, emotion by emotion, bit by bit. Then combine them back together into something else. Something greater."
"I...would not know." Lyght flushed, speaking quietly. You are wrong, though, his thoughts growled, each one is beautiful. To me. Every night. As their conversation lolloped along, Lyght did not feel a desire to shrug away this pony as he had done others. Instead, he felt a tickle of intrigue as the stallion raised his book. "I apologize for interrupting you again, my lord," Lyght pressed, "but I don't think you have answered my question."
"Oh," the pegasus replied quickly, lowering the book again. "I'm not a lord."
Lyght frowned. "You're not?"
The stallion laughed deep in his throat, "Heavens to Celestia! Lord? Me? No!" Then he paused, contemplation furrowing his brow. "At least - I don't think so. It's hard to tell anymore."
Lyght raised an eyebrow. He sat quietly for a while longer, pondering in the company of this befuddling pony. Time had altered much of Lyght's memory of Equestria, though he always assumed little changed when concerning the nobility. They were a grand, proud class. Even when drunk there was some propriety that lingered, an instinctual decorum they managed to maintain. It could be seen by the ponies swarming the dancehall. The males dressed in thick tuxedos of elaborate design, embroided with fine gold or brown trimmings. Each one a master of his title. The mares were even more splendid. They wore long, flowing dresses that fitted tightly, their colours complimenting the subtle makeup and manes styled perfectly eccentric.
This pegasus, however, was unfamiliar to Lyght as aoens were to Equestria. Different. He was boisterous instead of reserved, almost mysterious than intending to be distinguished. I feel as though I have met him before. Lyght admitted inwardly. But where? Should I even care? He just wanted his spot back. But...how did he know I would stay, just by his requesting that I do so?
"You still have not answered me." Lyght said sharply again.
The pegasi's ear twitched and he sighed, closing the book. "A blunt one, eh?" He said, turning. Lyght froze. "You're not going to let me get back to my stories in peace, are you?" He stared at Lyght with two smooth green eyes, like polished grass. There was an unbound strength and wisdom in their shine - so furious and alive - enough for Lyght to suppress a shiver. Suddenly, he felt small and overcome with a terrible feeling. The emotion slammed into him like a sudden weight, as if he were being pulled into a cold unknown. Pity, he felt. Pity for all around him. Pity for him, if nothing else. It was like a deep, hidden knowing. Cooley, the pegasus set his copy of the Friendship Journal aside and leaned in. "You want me to be honest? You really want to know?" He whispered gently. Lyght reared away, yet could not be torn from those piercing eyes. They were bright in the darkness, as hot as the Sun in the sky. Like the Moon on the water. Desire to flee - tangled with the logical part of his mind - warned Lyght to get up and leave with haste. However, his emotions did not match the logic. He wasn't so unresponsive as much he felt calmed. What...is this feeling? "Well, the honest truth as to why," the pegasus went on, raising up his hooves, "with these hooves, I'm not exactly the best dancer."
Lyght blinked. Pity now smacked aside by confusion. Wha..?
The smartly-dressed stallion grinned, then he threw back his head and roared with laughter, almost spilling his wine. "I'm sorry!" He wheezed when he could talk again. "I could not resist the urge to tease. Dear Mother of Luna, you're face! Ha-ha!"
Lyght shifted uneasily, cheeks simmering. Am I sitting with an insane pony? He frowned, but waited until the pegasi mirth faded a little, then said, "So, you don't want to join the rest of the court because you... cannot dance? That is hardly a reason not to partake in the festivities."
"Ha! Not just blunt," the pegasus said, "but forward also, I see!" He set aside his cup and offered an upturned hoof to Lyght who looked at it perplexingly. "Well, then. Do you want to dance instead?" Lyght hesitated. The pegasus smiled nonchalantly. Fek! This one is either incredibly smooth or socially incompetent! It was disturbing Lyght couldn't tell which. "I'll take that is a no, then?" He said. "Good. I doubt those inside would appreciate us trampling all over them. Best to stay unnoticed, eh?"
Lyght cocked his head. "I suppose." He said, unsure how to reply. "I just wanted to a brief view of the moonrise."
"Ah." Cooed the pegasus. He glanced up, and nodded almost appreciatively. "Despite my earlier comment, I can see why. Must be special night, indeed. But tell me, friend: why did you refuse all those ladies who asked you to dance?" Lyght made a strangled sound, which caused the pegasus to chuckle to himself as he took a sip from his wine cup. "Yes. I head them earlier on way to get more wine. I swear, I've heard more tweeting from birds during Winter Wrap-Up! Though I don't take much belief in gossip, it sounds like many are quite smitten with you. There are plenty of creatures here who see the thrill of tempting you into leading them away this night. Perhaps not all of them are eager to dance, I'll admit, but..." He shrugged his shoulders. There was something about the stallion's motion as he bumped his shoulders that said even if nothing showed, he was laughing inside. Lyght snuffed hot air from his nostrils and on the pony went, "And yet, to all their surprise, you have turned down nearly half the eligible members that came sniffing your way."
Lyght finally found the strength to turn away. But not before he noticed the way the pegasi smiled as he went to reach for his book. "You think I was being shallow," Lyght snorted, sitting a little straighter. The stallion halted in his reach and glanced up with curious eyes beneath a hiked brow. "I was not interested in any of their advances because, like you, I have been waiting for someone. An 'old acquaintance'. I turned down all those other creatures, not because I wanted to be cruel but because I haven't seen them in a long, long time. This night is important to me. I want it to be just him and I."
The white pegasus narrowed his green eyes, though their sheen only intensified in the darkness. "Just 'you and he', eh?" By now Lyght had learned better than to look directly into those pools of deep emerald, though he could still feel their impression on him like an itch. Even now, he still hadn't entirely conquered his blushes in the presence of this pony. The strange stallion with his strange eyes hummed low in his throat; a long, brooding ripple of the voice. The sound one made when they were trying to decipher a crypt, or solve a puzzle.
"Now I understand. I see it." He finally said, slow and deliberate.
Lyght's tail swished and his eyes widened as he said, "S-See what?"
"The truth. The truth of all of it." Said the pegasus as he reached out and finally scooped up his Journal. "The reason why you are as you appear to be. Why you are here. Hmp! Tell me, does the same go for that ring?" He gestured to Lyght's chest, where a black ringlet hung by a small chain. Lyght glanced down and quickly clutched the pendant. Braver than before, he forgot his prior sense and met to challenge those inquisitive, soothing, powerful green orbs. Absent of his own realization, he did not bend this time to them. 'Say something about the ring', his stare threatened, 'I dare you.' The stallion pulled away with book in hoof, sitting with his back to the wall. "Huh. I suppose it doesn't matter. I should really offer you my apologies. I don't mean to be impersonal." He hoisted up his chalice again, taking a sincere tone. "It's the wine you see. I think I've had a bit too much." He finished with another sip.
"Perhaps you should stop, then."
The white pegasus chuckled. "I suppose you're right - I should. But I won't. There is much reason to drink tonight." For some reason he sighed, heavily. A wave of brilliant colour washed over the balcony as the Aurorae continued their illustrious dance overhead. Beyond, the stars twinkled in silence amongst the dark, a million diamond eyes watching from the other side. "Did I ever tell you my name?" The stallion eventually asked.
"No," said Lyght. "No. You never introduced yourself."
"Oh dear." Chuffed, the pegasus shook his ginger mane. "And here I thought I had. How rude of me! Let me make it up to you." He then snapped the feathers of his wings the way a draconeques would snap his fingers. Lyght jumped, I didn't know pegasi could do that! "I know! I'll tell you a short story. A quick one, to pass the time. You see, I began this life as a thought, a concept. To another's ire I easily grew bored of this, and so I took myself away and became something beyond what was originally intended. Now I hop from place to place, where ever a good story leads me." His chortle was shallow this time, earning him a puzzled look from Lyght. It was not a happy cackle, but neither was it completely sad. "I guess I stole myself in the end. Did you know you could do that? Steal oneself?" Lyght shook his head. "At one time I was named for a force."
"A benevolent one, I hope."
"A creative one," the scruffy stallion said softly, looking a little embarrassed, "with good intentions, of course, despite what bad moments may have transpired. For all my power there was little I could do in the grand scheme of things." He looked down at the Journal in his arms and moved to stroke a hoof over its leather cover. "We all have a story to tell. I just hope, perhaps this one time, I may be able to save another. I feel like I'm invisible in this world. Tomorrow I will pass you by and you will not recognize me." He noticed Lyght's stare and bobbed his head assuredly. "Oh, trust me, it'll happen! And...that's good, I think. I like it that way. To watch from afar, like a spectator at the theatre. Never one to be a part of the performance. Still, I-I want at least one to understand: I am a friend. I mean well. But at the end of it all, if I must watch everything pass by with tears in my eyes, I will do so. It'll pain me, yes, but I would let it happen."
Lyght did not say anything. What could one say to that? However, a thought did occur to him. Does this one know who - or what - I am? A dangerous presumption. Something within Lyght itched him to draw Aura. The moment was gone in a heartbeat. Why? What power did this mysterious stranger speak of? And why did he feel so calm?! Overhead the sky shimmered. Trails of magical phenomenon curled and danced across the black canvas of twilight, colour-shifting tendrils blooming out like protective arms across the entire crystal city. Fuelled by the power of Love in all living things, and channelled here through the Crystal Heart, the surrounding chromatic field altered any creature's skin when they crossed the border. It made all creatures' bodies glitter and transform into perfect glass. Only the Crystal Citizens, creatures - not just ponies - born under the influence of the Crystal Heart's rays, would naturally shine with an inner light that reflected their emotions.
Lyght froze. The Aurora changed a creature's skin, but never the eyes. It was something unheard of in the history of the Empire. Any Crystal Citizen could encourage their sheen with positive emotions, such as depressive one smothered them. Then what made this pegasi's eyes glow? Not even the Lady of Glass, Empress Mi Amore Cadenza, had eyes like that. What are you...?
"Hear me now." Intoned the pegasus. His voice now carried weight with every word, and Lyght felt drawn to it like a moth to a flame. "What you do from this moment does not belong to you. I foresee a bright dawn burning. A new light. When the moment comes, you will take back what has long since been stolen away from you."
Lyght cocked his head. "A new light? Burning dawn? Wha-what does that even mean?"
"It means what you want it to mean. Sadly, I can't say much more than that. Some storytellers can be good. But the great ones know their purpose is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to thin upon. Master Rockhoof will agree with me on this." He gave a stiff nod, as if this answer would suffice. "Enough of that now. I think it was about time you were on your way."
Lyght started with a quick blink. The haze that had been clouding his mind begun to lift, like the veil of mist that slowly receded to give way to the warmth of sunlight creeping over a bog, and suddenly he felt all his passions renewed with vigour. He remembered. Sure enough, the snowy stallion was right. The hour felt late, the party would begin to recede soon, there wasn't much time and he had to leave now! Lyght hopped from his seat like a rabbit on hot coals, his green cloak laid with silver leaves flapping behind him. He moved toward the opening of the balcony curtains - and paused, if only to dwell on a lingering notion.
Lyght turned. The pegasus was staring at the sky and did not seem to notice his hesitation. Only his iridescent eyes, saddened lanterns in the gloom, moved as he studied the sky above intently though Lyght could not understand what he was searching for. The only sound he made came as a quiet humming that could faintly be heard over the music from inside. It was the same song as before. In a cathartic voice the pegasi began to recite to himself:
Hate all you've become,
And burn the weight of the Sun,
And find two tears of flood run.
I am the only one.
To Lyght it felt wrong for him leaving so abruptly, even if he had been excused to depart for all intents. Maybe he should say something? A parting farewell, that was the least courteous thing to do. When the song ended Lyght went to offer a sincere comment; hopes that this pony's friend was in good health. It felt like the right thing to say. No sound left his lips.
Ashamed, Lyght shook his head and stepped back into the grand dancehall.
Then, he stopped.
Hoof raised, it was only a single step taken. Try as he may, Lyght could not fathom why exactly he halted aside from this feeling that he had suddenly forgotten something important. Disbelieving, he tried to recall what it was that slipped from his mind yet all he got for reward was a pressing headache. Had he just been talking with someone? Who did those green eyes belong to? Despite the choir playing, he could hear a distant song. It made him feel sad. Pitied. Lyght pressed a hoof to the bridge of his nose and shook his head in effort to clear away the echoes. They eventually evaporated yet still lingered like a stain on his heart.
"Old friend," a voice came; deep, gruff and echoed, "gather yourself. The hour grows late!"
I know, Lyght thought, then rose and crossed to leave the chamber hall behind. At the high table, Sunburst and Strife Storm's seats were empty.
And so we begin the start of my newest story "Of Gods and Friendship". It has been a very, VERY long time since last I wrote anything, but I really hope this is a good start that will build into something of a great story. There will be a second part to this prologue, just have to fine tune the little details. As with this chapter, much of the story has been inspired by a playlist of music I've collected over time and used to help me see where the road leads.
Every chapter will have, in one way or another, a musical element; noted for inspiration behind a scene; for characters to sing, or simply help set the tone beyond what can be conveyed in words as you read. Also, encase anyone is confused, yes - the mysterious green-eyed pegasus is a strange element - I have taken inspiration from a few authors I have read over the years to create him, but, rest assured, he does have a part to play down the road. We shall see him again!
I decided to start with two numbers. For the ball "Octavia" by Evening Star (yes, Octavia was the one playing amidst the performers) and second sung by the pegasus is "I am the Only One" by Ursine Vulpine ft Annaca. Hope you like?
I do not own MLP or any song used henceforth.
Please read, listen, and review!