Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 36

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Chapter 36

As we’re talking, I start to get hungry. “Hey, I’m gonna go inside to get something to eat; wanna come with?”

“No, I have a better idea. Let’s stay out here.” She calls over a guard and requests that he bring food and a blanket. After he comes back, we set up the blanket and eat.

“Picnics on command. Neat. Wish I had a power that let me do that.”

“I admit, there are some advantages to being a princess.” She takes a bite of her sandwich. “So you live with Twilight in her library? Do you like to read?”

“Yeah, better than doing nothing. I uh, bought a book yesterday. It’s actually rather similar to a book from my world, here.” I hand her Travels in Wunderland and she takes the book. “The version in my world is an incredible work of fiction.”

“F- fiction?”

“Well, yeah. I mean, look at some of this stuff. It’s nonsense. Entertaining, but-”

“Nonsense? This is all real! Jabberwocks, Cheshire Cats, Jub-Jub birds, all of them! They are real, dangerous creatures. Well, maybe not the Cheshire Cats, if they’re kept content, but still...”

“Oh, come on. I know this place is all magical and stuff, but there’s no way Wonderland is real.”

Cadence looked at me. “I’ve been there, once.”

I am speechless. Wonderland exists. “I... I’m not sure if I should be excited... or scared. Some of these creatures are outright horrors!” I pause. “Do you... do you think we could go? Just to see it? Not now but, later?”

Cadence fluttered her wings, a concerned look gracing her features. “Well... I can ask aunty ‘Tia, but it’ll have to be a month at the earliest. There’s a lot of preparation to go through if you want to go for anything more than a peek.” She scrunched her face in concentration, trying to remember some of the things off the top of her head. “Soap and string, copper bells and brass teakettles... and a full set of Vorpal Blades for the entire group. And, of course, the three-day training in using those blades.”

“And don’t eat any suspicious mushrooms.”

“Don’t eat anything you didn’t bring with you, personally. They may not be malicious, but those Cheshire Cats are a touch mischievous.”

“Yeah, if what I remember from it is accurate, we’d be in for quite an adventure. Though I wonder if going there would have any effect on my powers? Does the environment affect unicorn magic?”

“Not really, but there are some places where enough of the natural magic of the land has seeped into it, and formed Geas Groves, Literal Life Paths, and other dangers. Most of the names of things there are based on things they resemble from here, but Blueish was a genius researcher. We’ll be bringing the Bestiary he compiled, no matter what. You should read it, Twilight would have a copy.” Cadence grinned a little wider. “It was a gift for her when she was twelve. She spent a week falling asleep in the book while reading it. It’s one of the few that really challenged her.”

“Well, I’m not a book, but I certainly challenge her sanity. According to her that is. She’s nice, but... She’s a little emotional sometimes.”

“She’ll probably insist on coming along. I believe the delightful Ms. Pie has relatives there, so she might want to join us, too.”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t put it past Pinkie to have some family roots in Wonderland. Actually, that might explain a bit...”

“From what I hear, it’s where her grandmother on her mother’s side hails from, though I heard she’s not an earth pony.” She gently raises a small, capped thermos, and poured herself some tea. “A rather rare break from the traditions around Stony Hollow.”

“So, if we leave in a month, and we stay there for, say another month, and return, there should be... two years before we release Discord. Yeah, sounds good to me.”

“Assuming the stay lasts a month here, of course.”

“So, what is there to do around Canterlot for those without money or look like a pony?”

“Usually?” Cadence shrugged. “Finish catching their connecting train ride to somewhere else.”

“Joy. Oh well, at least I can go home tomorrow. I think Twi will have cooled off by then.”

“Don’t you have money?” Cadence asked, looking genuinely concerned. “How do you get food?”

“I... ask for it. You know, I don’t really eat much. It’s weird but... I don’t get that hungry. Dunno why. For all I know, it has something to do with this.” I spark up, allowing her a better look at my Star Form.

“Oooh, wow! That’s so neat... can I... Can I touch you?” Cadence was a bright-eyed as a child, a wide, open expression on her face as she leaned towards me.

“Only if I let you, I can turn intangible, that’s how I can do the ‘walk-out-of-the-bubble’ trick. But yeah, go ahead.”

A gentle as a feather, she poked me in the chest with the ‘knuckle’ of her wing, then began poking at my chest with her hoof. A tiny spark jumped to her through the silk of my shirt. She giggled, sounding giddy as a foal. “It tickles! I didn’t know you could make electricity.”

“I... I didn’t either. There’s a ton about this power I know nothing about. Anyway, I’m willing to bet my shirt doesn’t change as much as my skin does.”

Cadence giggled and coyly hid her face. “Why, Anthony, I didn’t know you felt that way!”

“I didn’t mean it like that!” I pause, then grin. “But you aren’t complaining, are you?”

Her grin grew only wider. “Of course not. I am the Alicorn of Love, after all.”

“Just for clarification, I am only joking around, I have no intention of having a romantic relationship with any pony whatsoever. I’m a human, so I’m gonna stick with them... even though now I may have even worse luck with that.”

She laughed. “Don’t worry yourself, I can tell just fine. But I think you and Ms. Pie would get along well.” her voice dropped and an impish grin formed on her face. “Very well, I think.”

My eyes must be absolutely huge, heck, I’m so shocked I powered down just from the comment. “Subject change! Um... Uh... Drat, I got nothing.”

“Muahahaha! I have another tally for my awkward-list.” Cadence’s diabolical laugh is surprisingly scary, most likely because of how poofy-pretty-princess-like she appears.

“Yeah, sure. Check this out!” I Spark up; take off my shirt and show her the white pulsing energy-core that replaces my heart.

“oooOOOooo...” She reaches out once more puts a gentle hoof on my chest, ignoring the thin arcs of electricity jumping to her. “It’s so warm...” As she whispers that, I can feel the warmth of the center of her hoof, past the hard part. It’s firm, but rather soft. It also feels vaguely like it’s forming a suction-cup effect.

“Heart of gold, nothin’ baby, I got a heart of nuclear fission!”

“Of what now?”

“It’s science stuff, Twilight might find that a bit more entertaining... if she thought any of my jokes were.”

“I’ve never heard of it before. What’s ‘nookey-lar fishing’?”

“Hahahahahaha... oooooh, man if you weren’t serious that would have been even funnier.” I calm down from my laughing fit. “Nuclear fission is, well... think of it like... er... well, you know how a star radiates light? Well, that light comes from the energy it produces. And that’s what makes it so bright. A star may seem small, but it’s got a huge amount of power to it. Eventually though, the energy burns out, which is why stars die.”

Cadence’s eyes are forming tears. “But you’ll be alright, right? Your star isn’t going to ‘burn out’ soon. Is it?” Suddenly, Cadence seemed to be struck with an idea. “Wait, I should bring you to aunty Luna! She’ll know!”

“I already talked with Luna. Sadly, yes, I will die. My time on this mortal plane is wearing out as we speak. I fear that I will eventually fall into the grasp of death and pass on. Oh, if only I had longer than a couple thousand more years!” I say with as much sarcasm and sappiness I can form in my voice.

“That is so sad!” Cadence suddenly buried me in a hug, sounding absolutely serious. “I don’t wanna have to bury you one day!”

“I- what? Cadence, ponies don’t live forever, do they? I could probably outlive any of you! Seriously, thousands of years!”

Cadence pulled back for a moment, her eyes a touch watery. “W-well, I guess you haven’t been told that Alicorns live until they’re killed. Or, y’know, they gather enough power to ascend to another plane. Or maybe they just disappear, we’ve never had a good answer on the exact results. But Alicorns just get bigger as they gain power, not older.”

“Huh, well, that explains a lot about Celestia and Luna, I suppose. But really. If I didn’t have this star power, I’d have, like, fifty more years, tops. This is a gift!”

She looked at me again. “Yeah, but if you’re only here for a little while then... well, maybe then you not being around will stop...” Her eyes went watery again, and she suddenly couldn’t meet my gaze anymore.

I hold her to calm her down. “Cadence, humans aren’t even meant to live this long. I’m not sure if I want to have those nine-hundred-thousand years. I accepted that I was going to die when I found out I could die. I think I was, like, five or something. Seriously. I don’t mind, why do you need to be sad for me?”

“I- well, Alicorns have perfect memory for any face they’ve ever seen. I only remember...” she sniffled again. “I only remember my parent’s faces. I don’t remember their names.”

“Well, then you can rest assured that if you had to remember any face for all eternity, you get to have mine, aren’t you lucky?” I wink, powering down again.

Her smile returned, like the sun sneaking out from behind the cover of a cloudy day. “Well, I suppose your big, monkey-pig face is too memorable to anypony.” She hugged me again, the feeling of downy feathers on my skin reminding me that my shirt was still off.

On the other hand, this was really soft.

Stupid dilemmas. They never play fair. It was also nice and warm, and I was still kinda tired...

Next Chapter: Chapter 37 Estimated time remaining: 30 Hours, 23 Minutes

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