Equestria from Dust

Celestia awakens to see an empty world, white sandstone stretching the horizon. She wanders the world as she builds it from her imagination, filling it with life, but as time passes, the world that she created begins to seem like little more than a lucid dream, conjured from the dust.

1Likes
0Comments
1535Views
AA

14. Part 14: Spirit

Spirit

 

 

Equestria from Dust, by soundslikeponies

 

Harsh winds blow, carrying along frost lifted from the grass. Celestia shields her eyes from them, as Luna steps out of the portal beside her. Ice clings to the faded plains, the ground more rock than soil and made black by the frigid air. The sound of waves crashing against ocean cliffs fill the air, though they seem oddly quiet without the sound of gulls accompanying them.

Behind them the portal folds unto itself, disappearing without a trace, and like that, the last bit of warmth at their backs is gone, leaving them stranded. The cliffs and plains sprawl into the distance, no shelter in sight for miles and miles. A lone apple tree stands on a hill down the cliff nearest them, the only sign that life may have once existed in this plane, though its branches are white and dead now.

Celestia stares at the tree, her eyebrows furrowing. “I feel as though I’ve been here...”

“Your wings,” Luna says abruptly, staring at the gold dust-made appendages. “What happened to them?”

Looking at her back, Celestia unfolds one, holding it out to examine. “It seems as though they’re made from my magic. I would guess it has something to do with the fact that I originally created them.”

Luna’s eyebrows raise. “You used to not have wings?”

“A long time ago,” Celestia says with a nod, folding her wing away. “Although I can’t remember when.”

“Do they work?”

Celestia glances back at her wings. Spreading them, she gives a few experimental flaps, raising a short distance off the ground. The action sends particles of gold dust scattering into the air, though the wing reforms faster than it fragments. “They’re fragile,” she says. “I don’t think I’ll be able to fly very fast nor far with them.”

Luna shrugs. “I don’t imagine you’ll need them much. We’re still in your dream, after all.” She pauses for a moment, smiling. “They do look awfully pretty, though.”

Celestia huffs. “Oh, shush.”

“The cold seems so real,” Luna says, shivering. “I’ve never felt such an undiluted sensation in a dream. Normally they aren’t able to come through so clearly.” She looks down at her hooves, testing the ground. “Come to think of it, nearly everything so far has been realistically vivid. It’s hard to tell we’re in a dream at all.”

Celestia grows quiet at that. Luna notices and upon realizing what she said, grows quiet as well, both of them thinking back to Discord’s words.

A few seconds pass before Luna shakes her head, snapping herself out of it. “Come. Ignore what Discord said. Our duty here is to find our students, not ponder over his foolishness.”

Her words fail to have the same effect on Celestia. “You know, when he asked us what is real, I didn’t know how to answer him,” Celestia says. “In the heat of the moment I came up with something, but now I find myself struggling to even remember what it was.”

“Sister...”

“I’ve been alive so long, Luna. Some of it’s so distant now, it almost feels like a dream. I find myself wondering if any of it actually happened. I find myself wondering if... if there was a time before I can remember. That I’ve only forgotten it, and that the questions I’ve spent millennia asking myself have been with me all along. Did I create the mountains, or the oceans first? Some centuries I barely have memories of, and others it feels like so much happened that I was frozen as time sped around me. If I created the world with my imagination, is it even real?

“What’s real is only what you perceive to be real, so I cannot answer that, but I know from my time spent dreamwalking that an imagined world can have meaning.”

Celestia snorts. “I suppose it can,” she says, smiling. “But what meaning is that?”

Luna’s snout wrinkles as she gives Celestia a perplexed look. “It’s whatever you deem it to be. Life has different meanings for all of us.”

“Life...” Celestia says, seeing how the word weighs on her tongue. She turns to Luna, smiling. “I suppose I’ll find my own meaning eventually.” She beckons Luna with a nod of her head. “Come, let us look for shelter until these winds die down. I don’t trust these wings to hold up against such weather.”

Luna trudges over to Celestia’s side and begins looking around the landscape. She walks over to a nearby cliff, peering over its edge. “I can see a cave entrance,” she announces.

Celestia peers over to see that there is indeed a cave entrance below them. The entrance runs tall and narrow: the point where two rocks lean against one another forming an arch. She glances to their side where a winding trail leads down the cliff. Turning towards it, she nods to Luna. “This way.”

The trail’s almost entirely solid rock, the jagged points of which form stairs more often than not. After a few steps they’re low enough that the cliff side of the path begins to hurl most of the winds over them. It comes just in time, too, as the winds begin to grow into a fierce gale, howling in agony.

Celestia looks up at the sky, only for a cloud of frost swept up from the grass to fall on them, forcing her eyes shut. Shaking her head, she wipes the offending frost from her muzzle and continues trudging forward. The wind grows deafening, to the point that if Luna tries to call out to her, she probably won’t even be able to hear it. She begins glancing back every few steps, to make sure her sister is still with her and not blown off the cliff. Luna seems to only be faring slightly better than her.

As Celestia lifts her hoof to take a step, a large gust of wind plows into her side, stumbling her. She begins to tip, and throws a wing out to her side for balance, but it does little, being almost completely weightless. As she begins to fall, she glances behind her to see her sister’s horrified look.

As she begins to fall, she spreads her wings. They nearly disintegrate as a second, harsher blow of wind knocks her farther from the cliff. Her wings now holed and fragmented, she manages to right herself into a controlled fall, steering back to a lower part of the path winding down the cliff. That’s when the third—the most unforgiving—gust of wind barrels into her as she comes in to land. It hurls her hard into the side of the cliff. Her eyes go wide with pain, several bones cracking against the stone. Limp, she falls down and lands on the path, lying unmoving on its steps.

Luna rushes down to her, nearly stumbling down the steps several times in her haste. “Celestia!” she shouts, kneeling at her sister’s side.

Celestia’s breath rasps as she tries to draw air. Every movement hurts. It’s so tiring to keep her eyes open.

Luna panics over Celestia, checking her wounds as gently as she can. “How on earth have you not woken up? These bruises—Celestia, listen to me. Stay awake. I’ll move you to that cave and then we can find you something soft to rest on, but for now I need you to stay awake.”

A wave of drowsiness passes over Celestia. It’s so warm. So comfortable. It urges her to sleep and let it take her away. She hears Luna’s voice, off somewhere in the distance.

“Celestia, stay with me!”

She closes her eyes, the pain subsiding.

 

 

Drip... Drip... Drip...

Celestia stirs, her ears twitching with the metronome of dripping water.

Drip... Drip...

A thin layer of cool water soaks her chest, hooves, and muzzle, and there’s the almost unnoticeable feeling of ripples bouncing off her snout. All the pain from the fall is gone.

Drip.

Her eyes open and are greeted by four white hooves standing in a shallow pool of water nested in a cloud in the sky. Craning her neck up, she sees the white spirit of her dreams, and what looks like a tear fall from the spirit’s face.

Drip.

“You...” Celestia tilts her head at the spirit. “What is your part in all this?”

It does not give her an answer, but it does lean down to her, resting its forehead against hers. Celestia stares into its eyes, only inches away from her own. From up close, they aren’t blank like she once thought. White pupils with white irises stare back at her, their outlines so faint that they wouldn’t be visible at a distance.

A single word rings out in Celestia’s mind, more an idea than a word, but she can’t tell whether it’s her own or the spirit’s.

Protect.

 

 

Celestia opens her eyes and sits up, wide awake and in the dark. She whips around wildly, looking for any sign of the spirit but sees none, only the mouth of a cave and a blizzard outside.

Suddenly remembering her fall, she examines herself, expecting the pain to come rushing back at once. What she instead sees is nothing more than her own coat. No bruises. No broken bones. Only scuffs from sleeping on the cold shale floor.

“Oh, thank goodness you’re awake!” Celestia turns around, spotting Luna stepping out of the darkness. “I fretted over your injuries late into the night, only to find you mysteriously healed the next morning.”

Celestia looks outside, watching the snow fall. “I was... asleep? In a dream?”

Luna shakes her head. “I have no more answers than you do,” she says, stepping up to Celestia’s side and staring outside with her. Her eyes narrow as she stares long and hard at the snow. “Magic does not work here. I couldn’t summon so much as a light when I was observing your injuries. Falling asleep and waking up within a dream... Just where are we?”

Celestia stares thoughtfully at her golden wings. “If dreams are a projection of a pony’s soul, and my magic doesn’t have one, then...” She looks to the ground, her train of thought lost. “I don’t know.”

“After doing what I could for your injuries last night, I stayed up for several hours trying to find a portal back,” Luna says. Her ears droop. “Wherever it is we are now... we can’t go back.”

Celestia nods sullenly, turning back to the winds outside. They show no sign of dying down anytime soon, as snow fills the entrance of the cave. Hours pass. The two of them sit patiently and wait, each silent and absorbed in their own thoughts. As the sun sets, their small window to the outside grows darker. The snow on the ground changes to a grey-blue to reflect the darkening sky, the snowflakes looking more and more like falling ash in the setting light.

It isn’t until the deepest of night that the cave comes alive, and when it does, it comes to life in a matter of minutes. The cold, hard rock walls of the cave begin to glow a pallette of colors, lighting the cave. Luna stands and takes a few experimental steps on the lit ground, the pressure of her hooves temporarily leaving the rock glowing brighter, creating bright hoofprints which fade over the following seconds.

The growing light peels both Celestia’s and Luna’s eyes from the entrance, back into the depths of the cave. With the depths of the cave now illuminated, a path traveling deep under the cliff emerges. Celestia and Luna glance at one another, before staring at the newly lit path before them.

“How far into this cave did you explore after bringing me here?” Celestia asks.

“Not very far. The light faded to nothing just a little beyond what we can see now. Without magic I couldn’t risk going any further,” Luna answers. She turns to Celestia and asks, “Do you think it’s a coincidence? Or is the dream trying to make us move forward?”

“I don’t believe this world holds any coincidences,” Celestia says, her voice holding a slightly bitter edge. After a moment of reluctance, she sighs and turns to Luna. “The weather shows no signs of changing; we may as well see where this path leads.”

Luna nods in agreement and glances back at the cave exit. “In this unnatural world, I wouldn’t be surprised if we waited a thousand years and the blizzard never died down.”

Celestia nods as well. “We turn back if we encounter a fork in the path. If the glow from these rocks dies, we don’t want to be stranded without a way back.”

With that last note of caution, the two of them begin to trek deeper into the cave’s heart, the natural light of the cave’s entrance soon fading. The tunnel is wide enough to allow them to walk abreast. A silence falls over them. A silence of anticipation and careful observation, of not knowing what lies ahead. The kind that fills one’s heart with dread. The kind that makes the air run cold.

As they continue traveling deeper under the side of the cliff, Celestia pauses, staring at the walls surrounding them. Luna pauses as well, seeing her sister stop. “I think I’ve dreamt of this place before...” Celestia says, eyebrows knit in thought.

“Of this cave?”

“Yes,” Celestia replies. “Only, it was dark. The walls were not glowing.”

Luna looks down the passage on either side of them, looking half lost. “We’ve been following this cave deeper under the cliff for a while now. I don’t think it’s going anywhere. Maybe it’d be best if we turn back now. There’s still some chance we might see the weather clear up enough to travel.”

As Luna talks, Celestia stares down the cave tunnel ahead, squinting. Though the cave winds slightly, it’s still possible to see a great distance in either direction. Almost too far to see, though Celestia spots it, the cave widens into a room. “Come. Just a little further,” she says to Luna, continuing down the cave.

“What do you see?”

As Celestia starts back down the tunnel, the opening becomes clear. “A chamber, just a short ways ahead.”

After briefly glancing back the way they came, and letting out a huff, Luna follows Celestia, winding deeper into the cave.

“It was cold but more temperate then. There were fields of wheat,” Celestia says, thinking back and recounting the dream where she saw this place. “We fell asleep under an apple tree up upon the cliff. There were deer—a small family of them. They were resting under that dead tree we saw outside.” They grow closer to the chamber, and now the cave widening to a mouth is visible, plain as day.

“We fell asleep. Only, I was woken by that black version of you from my dreams. It led me down the cliffside path we took, the one where I fell. It took me to this cave, this cave that hadn’t been there when I fell asleep. It left me to stumble blindly through the dark, down this passage, until I finally reached an open chamber.”

As the words leave Celestia’s mouth, they come to the end of the tunnel. It widens to black, the stone no longer glowing past that point.

Celestia begins to step forward, only to be interrupted by Luna. “What if the glow fades? We could be stranded.”

Celestia pauses, considering her sister’s words. She takes a glance at where they came from, the long, lit tunnel staring back at her. “We’ve already crossed one threshold,” she says, turning to her sister. “Whether or not we move forward, there is no going back.”

“We could be meant to fly somewhere after the storm dies down,” Luna suggests.

“If we were, would winds have forced us to seek shelter in this cave, would the stones have lit our path?” Celestia says. Luna lacks a rebuttal. “We’re being led somewhere.”

“But is it safe to follow?” Luna asks, looking at Celestia for an answer.

Staring into the darkness, Celestia takes some time before answering. “I don’t know, but there are things I want to find out.”

Luna purses her lips, the idea of following some unknown guiding hand not settling well with her. “I will trust your judgement,” she says, reluctantly. “As I always have.” Celestia nods to her gratefully.

They walk into the darkness together, staying close. As the last of the light from the tunnel disappears behind them, they begin to walk slowly, guided by one another’s footsteps across the seemingly endless, flat bedrock beneath them.

Then, a low copper light begins to creep across a wall ahead of them. The glow rises like the sun, spreading higher and higher up the wall, stretching as tall as any castle or tower, and taller still. It stretches an impossible distance up into the air and to the sides.

The two of them take several steps back, craning their necks to look up at how far the wall goes. They never see it reach a ceiling.

Colors, from the brushes of thousands of invisible artists, begin painting on the wall. Great murals, depicting dragons and griffons and elementals, become fulfilled in cascading patterns of color pouring in. The entire wall, impossibly large as it is, becomes covered with paintings of everything: a mural of the world.

“It’s amazing,” Luna says breathlessly.

Celestia steps up to the wall, her hoofsteps echoing through the massive chamber. Stopping in front of it, she stares up at the center of it. Two alicorns, her and Luna, fly around the earth, day and night dragging behind them in a never ending cycle. Above them, an alicorn lighter than Celestia and one darker than Luna sit, watching over the world.

Celestia gingerly touches the wall and runs her hoof down its surface. “This was the mural I dreamed of the night before we created the three pony races.” She glances up, spotting the place where the mural shows a pegasus, an earth pony, and a unicorn. “I saw them up there on this mural.”

Luna’s eyes widen slightly. “The idea was not your own?”

Celestia shakes her head. “There’s so much on here... So much I don’t recognize.” She stares at a long, clawed crustacean the size of a wagon. “Are these all destined to walk the earth at some point in time?”

“You told me you don’t believe in destiny,” Luna says.

“That’s right...” She trails off, stepping back from the wall. “I don’t.” Sighing, she shakes her head and rubs her eyes before looking back up at the two guardians. “I wonder what their role is in all this. Whether they—”

A slow, sarcastic clap cuts her off. Celestia and Luna turn, seeing Discord step out into the orange light.

“Hello, Celestia.”

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...