The Maretian

by Kris Overstreet

Chapter 166: Sol 283

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“… and that’s the end of the chapter,” Starlight Glimmer said, pushing away the computer. The others began stretching where they sat, reluctant to put their spacesuits back on to leave the cave, now that the daily routine was complete. She didn’t want to get up either, but for better reasons than ordinary dislike of being in a pressure suit.

“What was that big long poem about?” Fireball asked. “We gonna read about Earen-whozit?”

“The author spent his life making a huge mythology,” Mark said from his seat, nearest as always to the cocoon. “From the creation of the world up to Frodo’s adventure. He even created whole languages and writing systems for it. It’s the background for the story. Earendil, as it happens, is Elrond’s dad, and the poem tells about how he goes to the gods to beg for help to defeat the great evil of the world. And afterwards he became the morning star- what we call Venus, the second planet, today.”

“And do we meet him?” Fireball asked.

“Nope,” Mark said. “Tolkien was showing off a bit. The only relevance is this: Earendil’s grandparents were an elf and a man. He and his descendants were given the ability to, well, stop being elves and become human. But once an elf becomes human, they become mortal. They die and pass out of the universe. Elves remain, even if they get killed. So it’s a one-way decision. And Elrond is Earendil’s son. And Arwen is Elrond’s daughter. Elrond has made his decision, but Arwen hasn’t yet.”

“Nothing about Frodo,” Fireball grumbled. “Then not important. Waste of time.”

“What about Bilbo?” Spitfire paused a few seconds, and everyone knew it was to line up the English words in her head. “Remember the part with the Ring? What happened to him?”

“Pretty obvious,” Cherry Berry said. “The Ring was working on him. Working on Frodo, too. It made him see Bilbo different.”

“But why would it do that?” Spitfire asked.

“Make enemies,” Fireball said. “Ring don’t want to go back to Bilbo. Also, Ring wants Frodo alone, no friends, no help, when Black Riders come back.”

“Maybe it’s not on purpose,” Cherry suggested. “The Ring makes everyone want it, right?”

“Gandalf said the Ring has mind of its own,” Fireball insisted. “It doing it on purpose, for sure.”

“But why now?” Spitfire asked. “Why in Rivendell, in safe place?”

“So that nowhere is safe,” Fireball replied. “Teach Frodo to hate everybody, suspect everybody. Make everybody fight, weaken party, take Ring from them left.”

“Huh.” Spitfire considered this a moment. “Mark, is Fireball right?”


“So he IS right!”

“Maybe. Maybe not.”

“Ugh.” Spitfire looked at Starlight. “What do you think?”

Starlight took a deep breath. “I think we should read something else,” she said.

“What? But the book only half over!” Fireball insisted. “And two books after!”

“Why do you think we should read something else?” Cherry Berry asked.

“Because,” Starlight said, “I don’t want to encourage comparisons between the One Ring and Dragonfly.” There. She’d said it. And, of course, now that she’d said it, comparisons were guaranteed.

And, right on cue, Cherry Berry began them. “Oh, come on!” she insisted. “Chrysalis is a bad person, but she’s not a Dark Lord. Dark Lords don’t get embarrassed or flustered. Dark Lords don’t spend weeks as a paperweight because they got sucker-punched.”

“Irrelevant,” Starlight said. “We all know Dragonfly tried to manipulate us. Not like the One Ring- she tried to bring us together, or at least to keep us from attacking each other. But remember when Chrysalis suggested we were angry at each other because of her?”

“And she was wrong,” Cherry said. “She was testing us to see.”

“Mmmm, maybe, maybe,” Spitfire began, struggling for words, “maybe Dragonfly like horcrux more than Ring.”

“The horcruxes were definitely intelligent,” Starlight said. “That’s not a good argument.”

Mark pushed himself to his feet. “I think I’ll spoil you a little,” he said. “One of the key messages of the Lord of the Rings story is that all evil has its beginning within ourselves. You’re going to see examples of that in later chapters. And by the end, I’m pretty sure you won’t be comparing Dragonfly to the One Ring.” He took a deep breath and added, “For one thing, nobody is going to use Dragonfly as a wedding prop.”

Starlight’s train of thought derailed spectacularly. From the looks on everypony else’s faces, the same thing happened to them. “Um, what?” she asked.

“Oh, yeah,” Mark said, grinning. “When I was a kid these really big, expensive movies came out based on these books. And for a while there was this fad where geeks got married using reproductions of the One Ring.”

Starlight felt facial muscles struggling to find their positions, as her emotional coach had just called an audible not in the playbook. “You let people get married with the One Ring?” she asked.

“Not the real one, obviously,” Mark said. “It’s just a story.”

“People get married,” Cherry Berry said in the same tone as Starlight, “with an evil, evil magic ring? Even if is fake? And people knew it was evil?”

“Um… yeah. But when you put it like that-“

“What is wrong with your species??” Starlight shrieked.

Mark pondered this. “Would you like me to write out a list?”

Starlight grunted, getting up and moving for her suit. “Never mind,” she said. “Dragonfly isn’t the evil influence. Mark is.”

“Well, of course I am,” Mark admitted. “I’m the bard, after all.”

“Maybe we take vote,” Fireball rumbled, a smirk on his muzzle. “Once Dragonfly is out, we put Mark in instead. And every day we visit we stuff three potatoes each in.”

Starlight sighed. “First we have to get her out,” she said. “Three days until we try it. And if the next bit doesn’t work, I don’t know what else to do.”

“Besides get a stick,” Spitfire muttered.

Author's Notes:

This idea worked better in my head than written down. Maybe I should have done it before cooking most of a week's meals. (

Anyway, here's today's. Proceeding to do work on tomorrow's.

Incidentally, I went live with a Kickstarter during A-Kon, but I never announced it here, because there's only one faintly pony shirt design in it: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1869505034/wlp-shirts-2018-summer-shirt-lineup?ref=user_menu

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