The Wreck

by JohnPerry

Chapter 3: The Lover

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Yearling paced back and forth through her living room, trying unsuccessfully not to glance at the notepad lying on her desk, pen and glasses sitting astride it with the words “Daring Do and the ____” scribbled on the top sheet.

“What am I missing?” she fumed, glaring at the notepad as if it had insulted her. “Why is this so hard?”

She heard the front door open, shortly followed by her fiancé’s voice. “Hey, I’m home!” A moment later, First Sight emerged from around the corner, smiling upon spotting Yearling. “How’s the writing going?”

Yearling grumbled and gestured at the notepad, causing First Sight’s smile to fade. “Uh oh, the notepad,” he mumbled. “...That bad, huh?”

“I don’t understand it!” she said, flinging herself onto the couch. “I should be bursting with ideas, but every time I sit down to write, it’s as if I’m completely blank inside!” She grabbed a cushion with her forehooves and pressed it to her face, letting out a muffled groan.

There was a brief silence, then Yearling heard the floorboards creak as First Sight moved across the room. The couch shifted beneath her, the cushions sinking a bit as they took the weight of another pony. She felt his hoof rest on her shoulder before something wet suddenly pressed against her neck, making a smooching sound as it left her skin.

“Stop it,” she grumbled, still holding the cushion to her face.

“Stop what?” She felt his lips press against the side of her neck again.

“Stop it! I’m—snrk—I’m trying to be indignant here!” She tensed and pressed the cushion tighter to her face, but she was fighting a losing battle trying to keep from grinning.

“I don’t like it when you’re indignant,” he said. “So I’m gonna do… this!” Her whole body spasmed at the sudden onslaught of hooves rubbing vigorously against her underside.

Stop it!” she squealed, hitting him over the head with the cushion, but she was laughing openly now. A few moments of jostling followed, ending with the two of them wrapped in each other’s embrace, panting slightly between bursts of bubbly laughter.

“Feel better?” he asked.

“Mhmm,” she responded, giving him a lingering kiss. “I still haven’t written anything, though.”

“Well, one problem at a time, I suppose.” He rose from the couch, letting his hooves tease along her sides as he did so. “You have been inside all day. Maybe you should take a break.”

Yearling let her hooves hang limply off the couch, sparing a brief glance at the notepad. “A break does sound nice.”

“Would you like to go for a walk? Maybe we could go to the museum?”

At this suggestion, yesterday’s memory of the diorama sprang to Yearling’s mind. “Not the museum,” she said hastily. “But a walk does sound lovely. Who knows? Maybe inspiration will finally strike.”

“Maybe you just need to think about this whole writing thing differently,” First Sight said. “Write what you know, you know? Talk about your experiences.”

“I don’t have any experiences. The only thing I ever think about these days is that damn dream with the shipwreck. And I don’t even know why I’m having that.” She paused, then added, “Do you think it means I’m afraid of the water, or something like that?”

“Or maybe you’re just curious about ships,” he offered. “But maybe you can work with that! If she was you, what would Daring Do... um, do?”

Yearling cocked an eyebrow at him. “What would Daring do?”

“Yeah, you know, if she was having those dreams.”

Yearling shrugged. “She’d… study it, I guess? Actually, knowing Daring Do, it’d probably be some kind of message sent by... the mystical Orb of, uh, Something-Or-Another, and inside the shipwreck would be a… a treasure map.”

“Great!” First Sight said. “Now just write that!”

Yearling gave him a warm smile before getting up off the couch, so that she stood in front of him. “Sight, it’s wonderful that you want to help, and I truly, sincerely mean that.” She gave him a quick peck on the cheek before flashing him a smirk. “...But you don’t know anything about the writing process.”

“Well, it was just a thought,” he said, shrugging. “But hey, if you can’t stop thinking about this dream, maybe you should confront it head-on? Study it, try to figure out what it is… What have you got to lose?”

Yearling considered this for a moment. “...Nothing, I guess.” She glanced out the window, where the sky was now a rosy pink. “Ah! But we’re losing daylight! Come on, let’s take that walk. I’ll think about this tomorrow.”

Canterlot’s main library was a massive structure of polished white stone with columns that reached to awe-inspiring height, holding up a building that encompassed an entire city block. Besides the royal palace, it was the largest building in the entire city, a bragging point for those who liked to boast of Canterlot’s intellectual achievements.

Yearling, however, had no interest in the vast atrium she was presently walking across, with its mosaic murals covering the domed ceiling. She was following the directions the pony at the circulation desk had given her, looking for the staircase that would take her down to the Maritime Wing of the library.

A moment later, she was trotting down a spiral staircase, her travel cloak trailing on the marble steps. It was already clear that she was in the right place, as the alcoves in the wall along the stairs now contained ornaments of a nautical nature, such as ships’ bells, wheels, or anchors.

At the bottom of the staircase, she found herself in a long hallway lined with paintings of ships. They seemed to be organized by time period, so that as Yearling approached the reading room that lay beyond, the ships in the portraits grew larger and more advanced, starting with the ancient rowing ships of lost cultures, then to tall sailing ships, then to the first iron hulls, and finally to grand ocean liners. The image of the shipwreck flashed through Yearling’s mind upon seeing these pictures. She continued past them into the cavernous space that was the Maritime Wing’s reading room.

The reading room of the Maritime Wing was in keeping with its nautical theme. The vaulted ceiling was painted in shades of green and blue that seemed to ripple and shimmer in the candlelight of the chandeliers, as if she was staring up at a pool of water overhead. The walls were lined with maritime relics, portraits of sea captains, and glass cases holding ship models next to bookshelves and reading desks.

A great feeling of deja vu washed over Yearling as she looked around. Nopony else was present, save for a lone elderly stallion sitting behind a long desk at one end of the room, who had a pipe clenched between his teeth and was reading a book. He looked up when Yearling approached and took the pipe out of his mouth before smiling at her.

“Anything I can aid you with?” he asked. Despite his gravelly voice, he had a clipped accent that suggested the refinement typical of Canterlot ponies.

“Uh, yes...” Yearling briefly hesitated. “Do you by chance know anything about ocean liners?”

“Aye!” he answered. “I used to sail on them quite regularly!”

“Well, I’m just curious about them is all. I don’t really know anything about them, and I wanted to do some research.”

“Well, you can ask me anything you like! Before I took up my scholarly pursuits, I was a seasonal for the Star Liner Company for many years. I must have worked on every ship they ran! Later, I finished my degree, but…” He gestured around at the room. “Well, I never could give up my love for the sea.”

“Sounds like you’re a perfect fit,” Yearling said, smiling. “Err, you said ‘Star Liner Company,’ correct?”


“This might be an odd question, but…” She paused. “Well, there’s a particular ship I’m interested in, though I’ve probably got the name wrong. Have you by chance heard of a ship called the Equestrian Star?”

At the mention of the ship’s name, the stallion’s eyes lit up and he let out a barking laugh. “Heard of it?! I doubt there’s a sailor alive who hasn’t heard of the Star!”

Yearling’s eyes widened, and she spoke before she could contain her words. “It’s real?”

“As real as you and me! Oh, she was the finest of the Star Liners! Graceful, but built to last. You should have seen her sail! A thing of beauty, she was!”

An image of a stark, crippled wreck sitting on the beach flashed through her mind, and Yearling had to resist the urge to flinch. “...Uh, ‘was,’ huh?”

“Aye, a real tragedy, it was.” The stallion took a long inhale from his pipe before continuing. “Oh, nopony died, mind you, nothing like that. Frankly, all told, it could have been much worse. But an old sailor like me can’t help but mourn the loss of such a good ship.”

“What happened?”

“Well, that’s just it. Nopony rightly knows,” the stallion said in a dramatic tone, his eyes twinkling. “All anypony really knows is that the Star was traveling in calm seas, everything going just fine, when suddenly there’s an explosion down in the hull. The ship slowly started taking on water, so everypony made for the lifeboats and left the Star floating at sea. Eventually, another ship came by and picked up everypony, but by then, the Star had drifted out of sight.”

“And then it ran aground?”

The stallion frowned. “Ran aground? Not that I know of. Whatever gave you that idea?”

“Oh. Uh…” Yearling tried to banish the image of the wreck from her mind. “Never mind, I’m probably just thinking of a different ship.”

“Truthfully, I suppose it could have run aground. Nopony has ever found the wreck, you see. But the real mystery is what caused the explosion. A lot of ponies think it was just a boiler explosion, but I’m not too certain.”

“Why’s that?”

“Well firstly, I know first hoof the Star had one of the best crews in the business, and I doubt they would have let a boiler get into such bad shape in the first place. But more than that, if the boilers had exploded, there wouldn’t have been enough time to get everypony off the ship, let alone for it to keep floating.”

Yearling chewed this over. “So what do you think happened?”

“Goodness if I know. But it makes for a damned good yarn.” His eyes lit up once more. “Say, we have the plans for the Star in here, if you’re interested. Would you like to take a look?”

Yearling agreed and was quickly led into the depths of the Maritime Wing, past tall shelves of thick treatises on maritime law, on ship codes and design standards, of navigational charts and ships’ logs. At last, they finally came to a corner of the wing with books that seemed to be devoted to individual ships, most of them with titles that were simply the names of their respective vessels.

“Here we are,” the stallion said, coming to a stop. As Yearling looked, she saw that he was scanning a shelf filled with titles referring to the Equestrian Star. “This is the one I would recommend to you: ‘Star of the Sea,’ by Fair Wind. Plenty of illustrations in there, and her writing is pretty engaging.” He pulled it off the shelf and offered it to Yearling, then skimmed through the other titles. “Mast Head’s ‘A History of the Equestrian Star is more comprehensive, but his writing can be pretty dry and technical. Yeah, start with Fair Wind.”

Yearling thanked him and then wound her way back through the shelves to the reading room, where she set the book down on the nearest table while the librarian retreated to his desk at the other end of the room.

She ran a hoof over the blank hardbound cover, and it was only now, in the silence of the library, that she realized her heart was racing. She took a steadying breath, then opened the book to find an image of the Equestrian Star on the inner cover.

The hairs on the back of her neck rose as she looked over the image. It was undoubtedly the same ship from her dream. But where the Equestrian Star of her night terrors was a twisted, mangled wreck missing its entire rear half, the ship in the picture was a proud vessel that looked impervious to nature’s forces. Smoke billowed from its twin funnels as it plied the waves, the bow pointed ahead with that same optimistic forward thrust that had somehow endured in the wreck.

A voice spoke from behind Yearling, causing her to gasp and jump in her seat. “It’d make for a hell of a dungeon, wouldn’t it?”

Yearling placed a hoof over her heart, quickly turning around. “Sorry, what—”

The rest of her words died in her throat. There was no one around.

“Did you say something?” Yearling looked over to see the librarian calling her from behind his desk.

“Uh, no, did you?” Yearling called back.


She looked around the room again, but nopony else was in sight.

Next Chapter: The Question Estimated time remaining: 33 Minutes
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