Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 154

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Chapter 154

Wandering to the center of town again, I see that it’s kinda crowded, with two bipedal figures near the stage. Alright, it looks like Clark is getting ready to start his song. I wonder what he’s going to play?

There’s already a small but growing crowd of ponies near the stage. Discord’s standing off to the side with a comically-oversized fireman’s suit and a firehose nozzle on the end of his tail.

Clark steps onto the stage proper, and looks around a bit awkwardly. He clears his throat, and all the ponies stop talking among themselves and pay attention.

“H- hello, everyone. I’m Clark, and I wanted to play a song for you all. It’s, uh... it’s from something in my past. I just wanted to say that Discord is helping me with costuming and effects, so none of this is real. I just think that Hal- er, Nightmare Night is the best time for a song like this, okay?” The ponies mostly nod and shrug. “Alright, I, uh... I’ll just start now.

I figure he’s going to play a rather dark song, and while I doubt it would be that bad, I think I should plan a sort of ‘recovery song’ for him just in case things get really sour.

He holds the Lyre awkwardly for a few seconds, before a green-and-brown gas vents from his arm, and a wooden guitar neck grows onto the lyre, making a passable imitation of an electric. What the heck? Could... could I do that? I guess I’ve never tried...

Holding it better now, he begins strumming, no soft leadup.

A sinister, raspy voice hisses at the crowd.

"Through you I am born...."

A pair of serpentine, chitinous shapes raise from Clark's back, and a mouth on his hand hisses,

"Yesssss... "

Clark rasps out,

"I am the butcher on your back,

I am your guide.

We never will be broken,

Never will divide."

The serpents on his back twine and coil, The two swapping who is saying which line.

Soft touch, servant 

Toiler, tool 

Violent, vengeful

Callous, cruel 

Bicker, bellow 

Scream and screech 

Vicious virus 

Lurid leech

Clark's demonic arm flares to life, screaming the next lines.



Clark begins to sing again, on his knees.

"Torn in binary divide

Everything I love has died

Faith will follow me no more

Sinful symbiotic core in me."

Once more, the serpentine limbs on his back begin swapping lines.

"Blood red splatter 

Painful end 

My worst rival 

My best friend 

Hateful hunter 

Ally, aide 

Twin tongues twisting 

Be unmade!"

Clark struggles to rise, still singing, but the serpents push him down.

"Torn in binary divide

Everything I love has died

Faith will follow me no more

Sinful symbiotic core in me

Feel her closer..."

His arm growls back, "Too late.... LOVE DIES!

BE. MY. PU~UPPE~ET!!!!!!!

BE. MY. PA~AWN!!!"

Clark sings back, rising slowly to his feet.

"I am the butcher on your back,

I am your guide;

We never will be broken,

Never will divide."

The limbs coiling in the back dart in front of his face, trying to cow him back into submission.




DARK!!! DARK!!! DARK!!!"

"Torn in binary divide

Everything I love has died

Faith will follow me no more

Sinful symbiotic core in me"

Clark's voice echoes around the clearing, whispered and reverberated.

"Feel her closer

Symbiotic core in me...

Feel her closer...

Symbiotic core in me...

Feel her closer...

Symbiotic core in me..."

Clark finally finishes, using the demon arm to wrangle the serpentine limbs. He growls down at them,

"Now... you are mine...


He leers at the crowd, the cowed limbs retracting into his back, and he bows. I really liked that, but by the looks on the ponies, I decide now would be the time to save him.

I rush up onto the stage and grab the lyre from Clark, the neck collapsing to dust as it leaves his grasp. “Wasn’t that great folks? But before you give Clark your applause, we’ve got one more song for you all!”

Clark looks at me, a little confused. I respond quietly. “Just follow my lead, I’ll explain later.” I turn back to the crowd. “Alright, let’s begin!”

I reposition the Lyre in my grasp and begin playing the much more happy song. Clark singing the lyrics as it begins, he taking the role of the ‘big guy’ and me joining him as the ‘little guy’.

Afterwards, the ponies look almost... dazed. I think the mood whiplash might’ve stunned them.

Oh well, it’s better than having them all agree that my friend is irredeemable. Our audience still stunned but left on the ‘nice’ song, I grab Clark and drag him offstage quickly where I begin explaining the ‘harmonic magicks’ and ‘musical emotion link’ stuff.

“So you probably don’t want to play anything too dark or intense unless that’s exactly the result you want from them. They react a lot better to ‘happy’ stuff because it makes them feel happy.”

“I- oh... well, at least I got to hear some old music again. It’s been far too long.”

“Well with this baby,” I hold up the Lyre. “You can play anything you’ve heard before. Just tell it what to play and Harmony takes over. Just don’t try to piss off Harmony. It’s mostly harmless, but it gave me about ten minutes of painful Hell for screwing with it.” the two of us start walking towards Sugarcube Corner.

“So... it’s sentient? How’s that work? Or is the magical force animate through sheer belief? Would that make it a metaphysical avatar, or a true god, do you think?”

“No idea, but I know it exists, I just haven’t seen it, it just sort of... manipulated the world to form words. But it definitely understands everything we say. I figure as to how it exists... well if we have Discord around, the literal embodiment of Chaos itself... Well, every Yin has a Yang, right?”

“I suppose... and maybe that’s why it stay non corporeal? To maintain a state of antithesis to Discord?” Clark asks.

“Perhaps. I... actually don’t know their relationship with each other. Anyway, it’s only a few minutes until Pinkie’s Late Night party. I’ll probably play something myself. It’s a kind of tradition. Either way, I can give you an idea of when a certain kind of music would ‘fit’ or not. If you don’t know and are attempting to please the crowd, stick with upbeat happy stuff. They love polka.”

“Hmm... so maybe some Weird Al?”

“You know, I’ve been meaning to play some, but never found a good opportunity to. I’ll probably give it a shot, but with everyone in a ‘Halloween’ mood at the party, I’m gonna go with one of Disturbed’s more happy songs. It is a party song after all. Technically it’s just a cover, but I like it a lot.”

“Well... alright. Who do you think is gonna be there?”

“It’s a Pinkie party so... at this hour, anyone who’s willing to stay up this late. Given the holiday, I’d say... everyone who can make it. Or fit into Sugarcube Corner. Pinkie’s, like, more famous for being a party animal than one of the Element Bearers.”

“Huh...” He looks contemplative as we round a corner, Sugarcube corner visible. A crowd of ponies is mingling outside it, and inside as well.

“Yeah, she’s kind of a big deal. You want an audience for something, anything, she’ll draw that crowd in ten minutes. Less usually, but she can’t be everywhere at once.” I think back to that time she hired those wandering Changelings. “But she’s usually got a way around that.”

Clark shrugs, and we reach the edges of the outside crowd, and some pretty normal music is playing from inside the establishment already, but it sounds like it’s prerecorded as usual.

“Oh, one more thing. Be careful where you step if there are kids around. The place can get pretty hectic and, well... you get the idea.”

“Yeah. I used to have cats, remember?” He gives me a shaky grin, but it fades fast.

“Only cat I know of is Rarity’s, and that furball is a pain in the ass. Dunno how she can stand it. Who wants a cat that actually hisses at it’s owner for no real reason?”

“I have no idea. Apparently, Rarity, though.” Clark says as he starts wading through the ponies.

Speaking of, I already knew he was tall and all, but... ponies look at most as high as his belly button, but he’s moving through them like a ship in rough seas, rocking one way and the other, before slipping in between opportune placements. In fact, he’s making more speed through the crowd than I am, and the ponies aren’t moving for him any more than me, from what I can tell.

Oh well, It’s still a party, so that’s not a big worry. Not like either of us could get lost in the crowd. There seems to be a ring of children around Princess Luna, but as far as I can tell, they’re the only children present and these kids look about ready to pass out.

Clark has found a wall, and is practically glued to it, evidently uncomfortable, judging by his expression. A rack of bat-bearing branches are moving through the crowd, indicating Fluttershy being at the party. Which is weird, she normally hates big events like this, I thought.

Well it did take a lot of convincing to actually join in on Nightmare Night. Maybe her confidence expanded to this as well. Or she just stopped by to see Pinkie and is trying to get to the door, but having a hard time of it. I give it a pretty even chance of both scenarios

All in all, the party is pretty standard, except everyone is in costume. It seems Discord’s spell was temporary as all the ponies are just wearing costumes. I mingle for a bit, sample the themed treats, though I avoid the punch. I know it’s probably just punch, but no safe beverage should be that color of green.

After some time, the children have all been taken home to sleep, but the party is still going strong, Clark still trying to merge with the wallpaper. Why come to a party if you aren’t gonna do anything? Eh, his choice I guess.

A few ponies are starting to complain a bit since Pinkie’s run out of records to play and the latest one is just skipping over itself. Seems Pinkie didn’t plan out her playlist for a party lasting this long. She assures everyone that the party is almost over and seems a tad stressed. She rushes over to me. “Play something with your harp-thingy!”

“Play what?”

“I don’t care, you gotta help me!” I don’t see any reason to just let the last twenty minutes of the party be a total flop, so... That Disturbed song I mentioned earlier would work. I just make my way over to where the  record player is and, moving it aside, take it’s place, and begin to play. The sound of drums getting everyone’s attention rather quickly.

The energy-charged song gets the ponies moving, nodding, and -for a few- bouncing in place to the beat. As I play, I see Luna smiling at the stage, around eight foals passed out on her back.

My song over, I figure this party needs a little livening up even if it’s almost over. I wonder if Pinkie, knowing that it’d probably get so late all the children would have been taken home after a while, got anything more... mature for a party. As I’m thinking that, I see Berry walk up to the refreshments table with a small barrel and sticks it next to the oddly-coloured punch. Oh yeah, that’s more like it.

I wake up feeling really tired. Unless I’m mistaken, I’m still at Sugarcube Corner. Huh?

I feel something cuddled up next to me. I touch it and feel feathery softness. Guess Anne passed out too. I just keep petting her wings. They’re so soft and fluffy...

She murmurs and snuggles up closer to me. We lie there for what feels like an eternity, and I continue running my hands across the downy- What’s that noise? It’s like... Idunno. I open my eyes, still feeling rather groggy. I see a couple of blobby shapes that become a small group of smiling ponies. The sound is... snickering?

Meh, they’re just jealous... I move my arm around Anne’s waist and pull her closer to me and she responds by snuggling further into my chest. She’s so comfy and soft.

The snickering continues. I’m about to tell them to shut up when something catches my eye. Something blue. It’s Anne. Wait, she’s not...

I open my eyes wide in shock and pull my head back and scream. Rainbow Dash’s eyes shoot open and, seeing me and our ‘positions’ which leaves very little to the imagination, she screams along with me. We leap away from each other and our 'audience' begins laughing outright, and it looks like pretty much all the party attendees, roughly one-fifth of Ponyville, just saw Rainbow Dash and I practically spooning.

I try to change the subject to anything but what just happened and blurt out the first question that comes to mind. “So, uh... how’s things with you and Big Mac?”

Rainbow Dash, seemingly doing the same, responds just as quickly. “Fine! Fine, uh... I uh, wouldn’t want any other guy! Really! Heh heh...”

“Eeyup.” Said stallion, who was apparently watching, makes his presence known, and Rainbow Dash goes about as red as possible, practically an invert of her blue coat.

“I’ll... Igottago!!” Rainbow Dash, living up to her name, becomes a multicolored blur as she rockets out of Sugarcube Corner, leaving all the attendees, including Macintosh, laughing out loud once everyone gets their balance back, the building being shook slightly from Rainbow’s speed..

“I didn’t plan that, it was a total accident, I swear! No idea how it happened!” I say, defensively.

“I know how it happened!” Clark said, raising his normal arm.

Fluttershy, no longer wearing her tree outfit, stands next to him, smiling her small pleasant smile. “You two fell asleep at about the same time and I thought it would be just adorable to see. So we gave you a little... push.” The butter-yellow pegasus reveals. “Though the cuddling part wasn’t in the plan, you two did that yourselves. It looked soooo cute!”

“Uh, ‘Shy... I’m not sure if you ponies have the same body language but uh...”

“I know what ‘spooning’ is.” Fluttershy responds, blushing but still smiling a little. “But that was more of your decision really.”

“Not on purpose!”

“Heh, Rainbow Dash looked like a stuffed animal, but she cuddled back. It was so adorable.” Clark comments, smiling slightly at me, Fluttershy’s calm smile keeping me from smacking him.

“Seriously though guys, not cool. I’m all for a good prank but... really? With Rainbow Dash?”

“She was the only one asleep near you. Except for Caramel, but I figured you’d be a bit more freaked out over him.”

I don’t bother responding to that, though he is right. I’m fine with gays... I’m just not one of them. “Still... this never happened. At all. Never. Happened.”

Fluttershy just keeps smiling, but she drops something. It’s a photo of me and Dash ‘cuddling’. ‘Shy gives a horribly unconvincing ‘oops’ and picks it back up.

“Give me that!”

Fluttershy holds out both front hooves, hovering slightly to do so. “Give you what?”

Grumbling, I leave the party and, now that the ‘main attraction’ had ended, most of the ponies begin leaving too.

This party didn’t exactly go as expected... Next Chapter: Chapter 155 Estimated time remaining: 10 Hours, 54 Minutes

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