Three Wishes: The Hole In The Sun

This story is a sequel to Three Wishes: The Cutie Mark Crusaders Before They Changed The World
Twelve years after the Crusaders discovered their true nature, an ancient evil has returned. Celestia is hurt, magic is weakened, and Equestria is nearly lost. Now our heroes must find a way to fix things before time runs out, and the world falls to darkness forever. They'll join forces with friends they've made around the world, utilize amazing new breakthroughs in science and magic, and get help from some of the most unexpected of sources as they try to fix The Hole In The Sun.

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13. Interlude: A Farewell to Armoires

Inner Slope, Circum-Arctic Mountains.

Eleven days later.

After a grueling week of hiking, the expedition had managed to find their way through the treacherous passes and arrived on the inner slope of the mountains circling the pole. Heading downhill again, the journey had become easier for a day or two, and even slightly warmer as the altitude decreased. Morale had been on the upswing until yesterday.

The team had been woken in the pre-dawn hours by the luggage. The magical chest had begun howling for no apparent reason, sounding like nothing so much as a sick or injured dog. Fluttershy had gone to check on it, and found it vomiting up seemingly random objects. By the end of the day, there was a pile of detritus nearly filling the main room of the tent. The luggage itself had moved on from howling to whimpering.

Fluttershy had insisted on staying with the poor thing through the night, doing what she could to comfort it, but whatever animated the creation bore little resemblance to any form of life or magic the ponies knew, and none had any idea how to help.

Now, in the faint, crepuscular light of another arctic morning, the expedition members stood around looking on in muted horror as the once vibrant Pearwood of the creature turned more and more to black rot. Discord laid a forepaw on the chest's lid, patting it reassuringly, but getting only a faint tremble of a few legs in response.

Fluttershy, kneeling nearby, stood and leaned into him. "Oh Dizzy, I just don't know what to do," she said.

Discord sighed. "Can you sense anything wrong with its magic?"

"I've been trying," Fluttershy said. "All I get is a sense of... of loss, and sadness. Like it's giving up."

Nodding solemnly, Discord reached out again to the now-rotted wood. "What happened to you?"

"Do you think it's the Hole?" Donner asked. "This is a magic creature after all, maybe it's... being drained like the rest of magic?"

"I don't think so," Discord responded. "The magic in the Sapient Pearwood isn't from this universe, so it follows its own rules, not ours."

Fluttershy looked up at Discord. "What do you know about where it's from? Is there something you know that could make it sick like this?"

Scratching his chin in a surprisingly genuine and non-comedic manner, the draconequus thought for a moment. "I think," he said. "It'd have to be connected to its roots... to its origin or creation."

"Like how a spell fades when its caster dies?" Sweetie Belle said.

Fluttershy let out a sniffle. "Or like a pet refusing to go on when its master dies."

The luggage made a small whimper and coughed up a few more objects. Discord picked up one of them, a book, and examined it. A knowing look suddenly spread across his face.

"What is that?" Sweetie asked, moving closer to look at it with him.

"Its roots."

The book was worn, the pages all dog-eared and ragged; a book well traveled and often read. The faded artwork on the cover showed four elephants, standing atop a seemingly gigantic turtle, and supporting on their backs a blue and green disc with mountains and seas on it, like some sort of flattened globe. Large gold letters at the top titled it "The Colour of Magic."

"I feel like I've seen that story before," Sweetie said. "But I can't quite place it."

Donner leaned in and looked. "Me too," she said. "It seems familiar, but... Who wrote it?"

Discord ran a claw lovingly over the cover. Where the author's name should be, the paper was worn through by time, like a memory faded with age.

"That's a shame," Donner said, seeing the worn paper.

"You know," Fluttershy added. "I feel like I know that story somehow as well. Are you sure you don't remember who created it?"

"Oh, I remember." Discord gave a sad smile, and Fluttershy could see there was even a tear in his eye. He leaned down and put his mouth close to where one might guess an "ear" should be on the luggage and whispered something the others couldn't hear.

The luggage let out one last whimper, one which almost sounded happy, like a lost puppy that'd finally been found, then went still.

Sensing the change, Fluttershy's eyes went wide with alarm. Before she could say anything though, Discord stood up, tears now running clearly down the fur of his cheeks. "I remember! I will always remember. As will millions and millions of others in countless universes across all of time and space. The guy that wrote that, he created something so wonderful, so powerful, that it will never be forgotten."

"The luggage?" Blitzen asked.

Discord laughed. "That, and so, so much more!" He turned to face Blitzen more directly. "Do you know what's so special about the luggage?"

Blitzen took a guess. "It can hold a lot of stuff?"

Discord laughed again. He liked the kid's matter of fact approach. "Well yes, that too, but more importantly, you can never lose it. No matter where you go, no matter what happens, if you call it, the luggage will come. It isn't stopped by physical barriers like walls or mountains or oceans or planets. It can't be restrained by armies or even armadas. And it doesn't even notice little details like being in the wrong universe or plane of existence. Absolutely nothing will stop it from coming when called."

Blitzen cocked his head in confusion. "So what does that mean?"

"My dear boy," Discord said. "The luggage simply got called home!"

"But..." Blitzen pointed at the rotting and now inanimate wood lying on the floor of the tent. "Isn't it dead?"

"Yes, exactly. Nothing will stop it."

 

Author's Note:

R.I.P. Sir Terry Pratchett

1948 - 2015

I know I'm over two years late with this homage, but in the (embarrassingly large) gap since I last updated I finally managed to make myself read Sir Terry's final book, and it hit me really hard, as I knew I'll never again read a new tale from my favorite author. His passing wasn't real for me until I turned that last page.

While I've read lots of other wonderful fiction, nothing has had such a personal impact on me and my own style of storytelling as Discworld. Pratchett showed me that stories could be whimsical and ridiculous while still being important. In Discworld, I laughed, I cried, and I marveled at the wondrous absurdity of worlds both real and imagined. I found deep truths about the human condition there, laid out in stories of talking rats, grumpy wizards, heroic witches, barbarian accountants, werewolf officers, and a kindly Death. Most of all, I learned that art doesn't have to be serious to seriously change the world.

I have no delusions that my own writing could ever come close to the lofty standards set by Pratchett, but I hope in some small way, what I write can bring a little bit of joy to others. I realize, of course, I have to keep writing if that's ever even going to have a chance at happening. So time to get back up on that horse and start typing!

See you all in another 364 days!

Just kidding! I'm actually already several thousand words into Chapter 11, tentatively titled "Hunger." I'm aiming to spend my holiday weekend here writing, and my goal is to have it out in the next couple of weeks, after a proper editing pass... unlike this little interlude, where I completely skipped all my editors and just published without them. (Hi guys! Surprise update!)

 
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