Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 78

Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Chapter 78

I stand up, and look around the room. Anne had to be somewhere. If that queen took her back and locked her up, I’m not gonna pull any punches. Angry I search the room for her, not finding any sign of the harpy. Assured that wherever she is, I can’t see her, I decide to call out for her.

“Anne! You still here!?” I don’t hear anything from the room. I don’t see her at all. I might have woken Twilight, but right now, I consider a possible kidnapping to be more pressing.

“Hello!? If you’re here, show yourself!”

I look around the room, and I finally look back at the bed in despair. Right at Anne, who is holding the blanket to her face, the fabric held in a crease of her wing-arms.

“Anne! What happened? I thought you got taken back to that cage. Where were you?”

“I- I was right here!” She hides a little more under the blanket. What?

“But I checked the bed before... I swear I didn’t see you! But you’re alright, aren’t you?”

“W- well, yeah. I j-just woke up, and th-then you walked over here, a-a-and then you looked around. I told you I was right here, but you didn’t listen.”

“I didn’t hear anything, though. That was... strange. Any idea why it happened?”

The harpy shook her head, still doing a Fluttershy impression with the blanket.

“Well, you’re okay now, and that’s what’s important.” I give her a hug, expecting her feathers to be kinda scratchy from the bronze. Actually, they were just as soft as bird or pegasus wings... strange. I pull back, and see that she’s blushing furiously. Then I realize she’s wearing absolutely nothing under the blanket...

“Yeah so, good you’re safe. Let’s uh, find you some clothes. Not that you’re uh, ugly or anything just... uh...” This got awkward fast.

She hides even further under the blanket, and I realize that her blush is turning bronze, little traces of the metallic sheen spreading along her veins and arteries in reaction to her embarrassment.

“Uh yeah. I don’t know where we could get you anything. I’ll uh, just be over there, looking away...” I go over to the breakfast table and turn a chair so it’s facing the wall. “Good uh, luck and all that.”


After a moment, I see Twilight, her mane a mess, come over and sit at the table next to me. She looks like she’s still about ninety-percent asleep.

“Hey. Sorry if I woke you, but something weird happened. Anyway, aside from that, how’d you sleep?”

Twilight turns her head slowly towards me, her eyes bloodshot. “Coffee.”

“Sorry, I don’t drink the stuff. Uh...” I check the table and there is a metal container for liquid. It feels warm. “I guess this is coffee...” I hand it to Twilight, only to remember she doesn’t have magic. I pour a cup of the stuff, using a mug that looked suspiciously like it was made for magicless-unicorns to deal with. Then, I slide it to Twilight, who takes a sip. Almost immediately, she screams, spitting out the liquid. It splashes on the table and she coughs and sputters.

“I take it that wasn’t coffee...” I grin apologetically. “Guess you’re gonna have to deal without it.”

Twilight whimpers, holding her mouth. I take the pot and give it a cursory sniff. I don’t know what it smells like, as I have never smelled it before... but it was not coffee. In fact, something in my head told me that whatever that smell was, it came from something that should not be ingested... what the fuck, Wunderland?

A knock comes at the door, and I turn, mostly on instinct. The door hasn’t been opened yet.

“Uh, who is it?”

“Broom service.” Wait, did I hear that wrong? Or is that on purpose?

I shrug. “Come in.”

The door opens, and a broom with two wooden arms sidles into the room. I half expect it to be followed by a large mouse with a pointy blue hat, but even for Wunderland, that would be just silly.

The broom curtsies, though I’m not entirely sure of the how, and asks, “How has your breakfast been, sir prince?”

“Well, the bread-and-butterflies are fine, though I have a suspicion that our coffee wasn’t made using ground coffea beans.”

“Of course not! Coffee is the liquid gold, and so it is. Made from the finest gold from the Queen’s own gardens, it is.” The broom straightens slightly with pride. Twilight whimpers again.

“Uh... huh.” Twilight just drank gold? What the heck would that even taste like. I take a look at Twilight and I realize the answer is a plain and simple ‘I don’t wanna know’.

The broom offers another tidbit unasked. “Our cash crops are the finest all around. Silver, gold, and even shiny brass grows from them!” The broom seems to be doing a bit of a dance, until I realize that it’s sweeping as it speaks. I get it, broom service, as in sweeping... clever.

“Well, do you have any roasted coffea beans? Or at least some cocoa?”

The broom stops, then shudders. “How disgustingly uncouth! For a prince, you have very poor taste in drink.” The broom scoots out of the room before I can do anything. Sighing, I turn to look at Twilight, and realize I can’t see Anne on the bed anymore. Or again, whichever word works better.

I just assume she’s still there. “Sorry Twilight. Unless you suddenly gain a taste for liquid gold, you aren’t gonna get anything here...” I pat her on the back. I know how hard it can be for caffeine dependants to go without coffee. The purple pony nodded tearfully, leaning towards me for a hug.

“But hey, caffeine can be addictive, think of this as a way to prove you aren’t an addict.” Twilight gives me a dirty look and retracts the hug-offering gesture.

“Sorry the idea of proving you don’t need to go to a detox ward is a turn-off.”

Twilight grumbles and winces, and I have to suppress the urge to laugh and ruffle her mane. Even if she isn’t able to use her magic, those horns are kinda sharp.

“So Anne, I suppose you’re still there, but I can’t see you anymore. Again.”

I turn my head, and she’s on the bed again. She nods. “Why does that keep happening?” she asks. She’s also no longer bronze.

“Probably in your powerset. Anyone who comes to magical Ponyland, or somewhere connected to it, I suppose, ends up with weird powers, like this.” I Spark up as an example. “It’s confusing, but you get used to it with practice.”

“So... it wasn’t because I’m here? I’m just a bird person now?” She sounds close to tears, and I can see the sadness in her eyes.

“Technically the species is called a ‘Harpy’ or to some of us who are more inclined to video games, a ‘Rito’. Yep. welcome to the world of no longer being human.”

Anne sniffles, but nods. I wonder if I can get another... ‘broom service’ to come in here and bring us clothing.

“So yeah. Not being human is interesting I suppose. For the most part I can still be completely human, but who wants that?” I shrug, then grin. “Especially when I can do this.” I start generating electricity around a finger and give about 20 volts to Twilight’s forehead and I laugh as she jumps up involuntarily. “Ah, that never gets old!”

Twilight gives me a ‘kicked puppy’ look, and even her eyes go watery. I’m stunned, because she must be taking lessons from the CMC to be this effective.

“Sorry. You must be taking this whole ‘Wunderland’ thing kinda hard.” I pick her up and pet her mane down so it’s not so ragged. “I know the feel, of imagining somewhere would be awesome then finding out it’s like a living hell.”

Twilight nods, looking sad again, before she wanders over to Anne. The harpy girl shrinks away from Twilight, causing the pony to halt, and I can see a bit of her expression; Twilight looks confused, and Anne looks terrified again. I blink, and I can’t see Anne anywhere.

“Anne, you’re invisible again. Also, there’s no need to be afraid, Twilight’s a nice pony.” When the girl doesn’t reappear, I try to figure out what’s going on there. She said that she spoke, but I didn’t hear anything. I literally blinked, and she was gone. Even now, Twilight is looking around, trying to figure out where Anne went.

“Twilight, Anne is probably still on the bed, we just can’t see her. Or hear her as I recall. Hey, Anne, try wanting to be visible. That might work.” Nothing happens for a few moments, until I blink again. At that point, I can see her again, and she’s crying into the joints of her wings.

“What’s wrong? It seems you can control it now. Does it hurt or something?”

“N- no, I j- just can’t help b-but remember...” She looked up from behind her wings. “I- I’ve been here two m-months, I think.” I think about that, then remember the red Queen saying something about Anne holding the pose she’d had before for a week.

“Well you don’t have to worry. We’re gonna leave and you’re coming with us when we head back to Canterlot.”

Anne nods. “There w- won’t be so many ponies there, right?”

“Uh... in Equestria, pretty much everyone is a pony, but they’re nice. Trust me, they’d be more likely to run from you than attack.”

Anne doesn’t look much happier, but at least she’s not crying now. I wonder again about maybe getting some castle servant or another to make the clothing needed for Anne.

I get up from my seat and head for the door. “I’m gonna ask for some clothes for you, but don’t expect it to fit too well. There may not be much experience making clothes for people.” I pause. “And don’t worry, I have more than enough power to protect you, and I fully intend on doing so.” She starts to blush again as I walk over to the door and open it. Immediately, a broom falls over from where it had been leaning on the door.

“Ah, uh, I was, er, just sweeping the, uh...” I’ve never seen a broom act nevrously suspicious before, but it’s kinda entertaining.

“Doorknob?” I suggest sarcastically.

“Y-yes! the doorknob. It, uhm, needed... sweeping?” I can almost see a cheesy, nervous grin on the broom, in spite of its lack of a face of any kind.

“Sure, whatever you say. Anyway, I know what eavesdropping is, and I assume you are aware that Anne needs clothes. Just get them and nobody has to know.”

“B- but I wasn’t dropping eaves, mister prince! I just happened to overhear a few things.”

“Nevertheless, you know what we want, so get to it and there won’t be trouble.”

The broom swept off, literally, and I went back into the room sighing. Then, a peculiar ripple went through the room, and it was a smaller room, with literally no decoration at all. Anne was now on a plain bed, there was a single, much smaller table, and the overly-plush reading chair was now just a simple wooden one. Twilight and Anne both looked around in bewilderment as well.

“I have a feeling we just got demoted.” I say, looking around at the now  less-spectacular living space. A moment later, a knock came at the door again. I assume it’s the broom, so I walk over and open the door.

On the other side of the door is what appears to be a mannequin pony -a ponnequin?- holding a bundle of clothing and wearing a black suit, like a traditional-style butler’s. I just take the clothes and bring them over to Anne.

“I’ll just let you get dressed, then.” I turn away and wait for her to finish. I hear the sound of clothing being moved around, accompanied by a metallic clinking. After about a minute of this, I begin hearing frustrated grunts and growls. Concerned, I contemplate turning around, but before I can come to a decision Anne speaks up. “I need help, I don’t have hands.” Ohhhhh boy. Awkward levels just raised by twenty points.

I turn around and walk over to her. I do my best to look away as I try to figure out the garment she hands me. It looks like a meeting between a bedsheet and a traditional ‘little black dress’, but in blue, the same color as my jacket.

With a sigh, I try and figure out how to help this work. I’ve never understood dresses or anything, on top of never having helped anyone dress themselves. The whole thing seems to not be made for Anne, which doesn’t help any, but rather for something with different proportions, such as one of the card-soldiers. Another minute and I sigh in frustration. I look up to see Anne resting her head on her wing and looking bored, cutting the now-drab sheet on the bed between two of her feathers, like a giant set of scissors.


How sharp are her feathers? I swear they were soft when I was hugging her. I look around my arms for lacerations, but I’m not bleeding or even scratched. Guess it’s a self-induced metallic state, but her feathers are still just as thin, making them sharp. I think about the idea of being able to throw razor-sharp metal feathers, and I imagine Dyna Blade... I highly doubt Anne can breath pink fireballs though...

An idea does occur to me, however, to maybe try cutting some of the dress to make it fit a bit better. Considering that the tightness of the dress after about the hips is going to make it so she can’t walk, and there’s no way her huge wings are going to fit through those itty-bitty arm-holes...

“Hey, Anne-ward Scissor-hands, try turning this into a tank-top and we’ll try again from there.”

Anne looks at me with confusion, before looking down at where she’d been cutting the bed. Realization dawns, and it’s only a few seconds before she has a very pretty sky-blue tank-top.

Then a new problem arises.

The dress is quite obviously meant for someone quite possibly literally flat-chested. Anne, however, is quite a bit... not. How she’d been keeping them concealed under the blankets earlier and how I hadn’t noticed last night -other than being exhausted and more worried than curious- are mysteries that will likely never be solved.

“Okay, first thing we do when we get to Ponyville is get you a visit with Rarity.”

Anne, looking embarrassed still, nods her head. Twilight catches my attention. “Well, if I had my magic back, I could at least stretch the fabric for a while, to let Anne get the chance to find something better. Also, what in Celestia’s name happened here? That can’t have been an illusion, there’s no way it was a transfiguration...” Twilight keeps listing off possibilities, then dismissing them, and I sort of tune her out, as it’s obvious she’s mostly talking to herself. Also, maybe getting her magic back to her would’ve been useful, but I still want her to learn what it’s like not to have such an amazing convenience. It’s really just a way to teach her what human life can be like.

“Well, let’s just say she just is like this. Unless you have some explanation for why I’m a baby star now. That seems like the most drastic change in my opinion. Becoming a stellar being isn’t exactly a three-step program from what I hear.”

Twilight glances up. “What? No, I’m talking about the room! Did you not see how it shifted? I took some time to pace in parts of the room that don’t exist anymore! Even for magic, that’s impossible, it’d break Starswirl’s third-”

Wun-der-land. Has it occurred to you at all that crazy, impossible stuff happens here? Need I remind you that earlier, you almost drank non-molten liquid gold? I repeat myself from earlier. Fuck logic.”

Twilight looks disappointed. “But it can’t just not make sense. It can’t...” She sounds more like she’s trying to convince herself of this. Maybe bringing her along on this trip was a bad idea, this place doesn’t seem even half as nice as the series of cautionary tales given in the pre-trip rundown make it seem.

“That’s the problem with too much science and not enough fiction in your reading list. You just need to accept that sometimes, things happen that don’t make any sense. Just adapt already!”

Twilight’s ears go flat on her head, and she ducks a little. As she takes a step back, I realize that I’ve sparked up, and have little flames dancing on my hands. Wow, I must’ve gotten angrier than I thought. I take a deep breath and power down.

“But seriously. The reason you don’t see me freaking out is because I don’t try to make sense of it. It’s not supposed to make sense to us, just to them. Like how different cultures have certain traditions that seem pointless. This is just on a much bigger scale.”

Twilight nods. “I- I’m sorry. It just- it’s hard. I can explain later, but this is... very hard.” I can tell there’s more to this, and she said she’ll explain, so I figure I should drop the subject, at least until I can figure out what’s going on with the castle and Anne has clothing... that might take longer. Hmmm...

“Hey Anne, you can turn invisible, so why don’t you just do that until we can get some more suitable clothes? I honestly don’t have any better ideas.”

Anne nods. “I- I’ll put on the top for now, though; it still gets cold, even through the metal-skin thing.” She gestures at me to give her help putting on the shirt, and we both blush and try not to think too hard on it. It’s just me being nice, after all.

Now that she’s covered, if not concealed in the slightest, we get ready to leave.

Next Chapter: Chapter 79 Estimated time remaining: 24 Hours, 4 Minutes

Return to Story Description


Login with