Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 134

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Chapter 134

Grumbling at an unusually early wake-up, I pace around my room. I don’t know why, but I’ve got too much energy this morning, and the sun hasn’t come up yet.

The sun. I have to go speak with Celestia, get some of this stupidity she’s built up cleared away. I figure I might as well go today. I don’t really have anything else to do. I actually pause at that for a moment. I don’t have anything to do today. I’m idling when there isn’t something specific to do. Myrna works quarrying and construction, and seems to enjoy it. Anne loves helping Fluttershy. Maybe I need to find a job, just to fill the days.

I think it over for a sec. But then there are days when I’d rather not have any obligations, and a daily job would just be a pain. Maybe something part-time, or just being a temp worker? Do they even have that kind of thing here? Oh well, I guess I can go see Rarity about my costume.

I head outside and make my way to the boutique, but then stopping. Eh, I still have a while before Nightmare Night, and I do want to see Celestia about this. I head back to my room and grab my ‘essentials’ before leaving. Once I’m at the train station, I recheck my gear. Clothes? Obviously, and actually clean now. Coal? I pat the pouch at my right and estimate about half a pound in there. Check. Sword? As usual, check.

Guess I’m ready. I hop on the train and after about ten minutes, I’m off to Canterlot.

One mildly amusing train ride later -there were a couple of foals I got to play an overly-serious game of BattleClouds with- I arrive in Canterlot, and begin moving towards the castle. I suppose it says something about how well I’m known that barely anypony even bothers to sniff distastefully at me or spit in my general direction before trying to look innocent anymore.

I head towards the castle grounds and, as usual, the guards just let me in. I don’t even really have to say anything, I’m just let in. It’s good to be a hero. But not so good to be called a sociopath as Celestia is deluded into thinking.

Making my way through the corridors, I’m directed away from the throne room, and sent to a smaller office a few corridors away. Celestia is in there, working, with a set of simple, armless glasses balanced on her muzzle. A huge stack of papers sits next to her, and she idly keeps a quill scribbling onto the one in front of her and moving papers along. Apparently, the big stack is the inbox, not the out.

“More people trying to get you to give them more than their fair share?”

“No, this is the result of a riot started a few weeks ago. There is much paperwork to be done, and I foolishly left many loopholes I haven’t yet sealed in how it gets processed. It will be done, and on time, and the loopholes relating to this will not be available to add further to my pile.” she sets aside the quill and floats her glasses to the side. With a start, I realize that she’s not wearing her usual regalia.

I shrug. “I could help with that. The loopholes I mean. I’m no stranger to looking for back doors left open in the rulebooks. I could possibly look through them and point out a few things, make sure your laws stay watertight so to speak.” Suddenly, the ‘renegade’ style of life has a use to her. Your move, princess...

“No, but thank you for the offer. If I don’t experience the results of the loophole, I can’t be sure it’s one I need to close or not. Several of the laws are built the way they are in case I must make use of a loophole.” She smiles gently at me. “And by the way, nopony would believe I told you that, if you decide to try. Many of those loopholes are benefitting you.”

“Oh I wouldn’t expect to get any kind of result from mentioning that to the public. They treat you like you’re perfect, so the idea that you do something so underhanded and sneaky behind their backs is just disgraceful.” I roll my eyes for more emphasis on the last word. “And yet I know you are flawed. Such as your misjudgement of others.”

“Oh, I think I have fairly accurate judgements of your character. However, I would like to be level with you. I assume you’ve read my letter by now, yes?”

“Yes I have, and I must say, you are quite the exaggerator of events. Making metaphorical mountains out of equally metaphorical molehills.”

“Hmm, yes... I suppose you need to be clued into something. You haven’t been reading newspapers, have you?”

“Not recently, though I did say I would to prevent any more rumors about me from spreading. Newspapers have a tendency to make things seem more fantastic than what is the truth. It’s to sell more papers, but you know this, I’m sure.”

“Indeed. I made sure that there were less of the more inflammatory articles allowed to be printed after you stated your displeasure.” Wait, what? “However, I think this means you haven’t taken notice of some of the things that have... cropped up. The riot that started happened when a mysterious figure appeared in the middle of a small city a few miles north of Canterlot. The figure was bipedal, tall, and wreathed in flames. Immediately, the being began shouting orders, orders which the listeners had no choice but to obey.”

“And if it was me who did this.-”

“I have no doubt that you weren’t involved. I was able to recover the body once I had finished ending the threat. A silencing spell put an end to the risk that human posed to the entire city. Its commands did not cease when it died, though, and the remaining population afflicted by the order to ‘kill everything’ had to be put down.” I gulp. She continues.

“Right now, in Ponyville, there is a young human female with power to become undetectable. Miss Fluttershy has, reluctantly, provided evidence that Anne cannot be smelt, heard, seen, or felt while this ability is active, and has some degree of control over it. As well, any wounds inflicted by her talons are noticeably more dangerous than anything else we’ve encountered, and require a Cure-All potion to fix, which are notoriously difficult to acquire. She is the least dangerous human to have arrived in Equestria so far.”

I give Celestia a rather cold look. “Are you insinuating that my friends are accomplices to this creature, or are in some way just as dangerous as it was, and therefore also need to be put down?”

“No. I am saying that there are beings in Equestria capable of taking over the minds of others. The reason I keep tabs on you is because the last star-borne being capable of surviving in this world created a cult and tried to bring forth monsters. It succeeded, and is the reason we have the constellation monsters roaming our lands. And if any force or entity gains the power to control you completely...”

“You assume I would do such a thing? Bring total destruction to this world? I may not know who this star-borne is, but for one, I am not star-borne. I am a human who mysteriously acquired a star core. There is a difference.”

“No, there is not. The Star-borne are anything filled with the power of the stars. the constellation beasts are star-borne, Starswirl was star-borne, and you are star-borne, regardless of your opinions on the matter.”

“Nevertheless, you say I would try and restart this cult? Tell me, what could I gain from doing such a thing? Something that, in all truth, would benefit me.”

“I have no doubt you would avoid doing anything of the sort... willingly. As I said, there are beings capable of supplanting your mind. More than one unwary adventurer has lost them and become grossly distorted in the process. Not just in body, but in mind, enslaved to forces too horrible to contemplate.”

“And yet you let these mind-controlling beings run freely amongst your people. Being your people.”

“No, they do not-”

“Unicorns. Mind magic. Yes you disallow it, but there are some people that don’t care about the rules and would do it anyway. I’m sure unicorns are not the only magic-users capable of mind magic, but that does not make any of them harmless. Your ponies are the greatest danger in Equestria.”

“And any that do are dealt with. We thrive in harmony, and breaking that harmony leaves very noticeable holes. I don’t understand how you can just assume that ponies would practice such things.”

“Then explain Rook. Unless she was deranged since birth, I assume she was also just another typical pony, until something happened and she snapped.”

Celestia opens her mouth to retort, when a loud BOOM-*sizzle* echoed from somewhere outside the castle. Within the minute, a guard had a report for Celestia, telling her there’d been an explosion in the palace gardens, and a figure was moving in the fire. Celestia immediately begins moving, picking me up in her telekinetic aura as she goes.

We fly through the corridors at an incredible speed, the wind whooshing past loudly from our passage. We reach a balcony overlooking the palace gardens, and see that there’s several guards confronting a humanoid figure. At first, they look totally normal, until a cloud of gas or something erupts from the person’s right arm, scaring back some of the guard crowding menacingly around.

“Anthony, I wish for you to deal with this.” Celestia says, slowly levitating me off the balcony. “If this human has any powers comparable to the last, or the one before that... please, this is one of your own. Deal with it as you see appropriate.” She sets me down on the ground under the balcony.

I crack my knuckles and summon fire to my hands. “If it hurts anyone, the fucker is dead...” With that, I walk towards the crater.

I see a few guards charge the figure, spears bristling. When they get close, the smoke suddenly turns to a soft, brown-and-green, all earthtones. Suddenly, a sound like a board being snapped in half sounds through the clearing, as the guard’s spear shatters on impact with a thick, gnarled wooden shield that appears on the human’s left arm.

I approach the figure. “Alright Woodman. Prepare to feel the heat!” I ignite the rest of my body and charge towards the guy. “Any last words before I smash your face in?”

A scream rips from the person’s throat. At first I think it’s because he’s attacking, but then I see it’s because the figure’s been smacked by a spear-butt in the back of the head. Suddenly, a forest of thorny vines spring from the person’s right arm, making it look like it’s covered in a wooden gauntlet. The vines whip and lash violently at everyone nearby, driving them away. whoever the person is, they have a thick beard, matted with grime, and long, straggly hair almost glued to the top of his head.

I approach him, being taller than me by quite a bit, but not to inhuman standards. I feel an odd sense of... connection to him, but I shake it off. After a few moments, he falls prey to several more spear-butts, and passes out, just falling back. I walk over to him, figuring I might as well make it quick. Then another odd feeling washes over me, a feeling like... familiarity. I... do I know this person? I don’t... oh my god. I turn to Celestia. “Get him some medical assistance and a place to recuperate. Now!” The only response I get is a stunned nod. Next Chapter: Friendship from Hell Estimated time remaining: 14 Hours, 19 Minutes

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