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“Went missing after dance rehearsal at the ‘Tip-Toe’ dance studio on —. Melodie was reported to be visiting a friend for dinner on the night of her disappearance. The reported location of the ‘friend’s’ house was the manor on the outskirts of town- but the building was reported to be abandoned upon search. No other leads have been introduce at this time—- “

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                                                PAGE 2!

an RP

by

Ask-De-Writer and Whispersisters

© 2014 by Ask-De-Writer and thewhispersisters

xxxx words

Cover art by The Whisper Sisters

Writing begun 04/12/14

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper giggled and stroked Breeze’s wings. “You might feel lucky to have me, Breeze. But I feel even luckier. You came into my life at the right moment.”

She sighed. “Have you heard my tale? Or shall I explain what I mean?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze said softly, “We know that you were an adopted daughter of De Writer in another world. You came here and Marchhare took you in.

“It is pretty clear that there is more. If you want to tell it, we will listen.”

Esper, looking about, saw a sea of honestly sympathetic faces. This, she realized, was the true heart of Rom. Horses, even horses who were not technically horses, who cared. Who supported each other. The many bands here were still a family. A safe refuge for a homeless, unmothered catter/orryl/Rom.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper cleared her throat. “Once… a small kitten/otter knew nothing but love and happiness. She had her family, and she had their love. Until one night, they were ripped from her by a shadow monster.”

She sighed, “Her life was spared.”

“She found another family. A group of sisters that treated her well. And for a time, she was happy. She even found love.” She choked up. “Until, again, her family was ripped from her.”

“Not being able to send them to the lake, her emotions overtook her. She became Uroloki. The Vengeful fire. She traveled the land burning all that was evil.” She looked at the faces of the crowd.

“Hope, however, came to her one day. She discovered that she still had family. Her fire was quelled. She was happy once again.”

She nodded, “Up until the moment she was killed.” The crowd gasped.

Esper keeps going. “Fate, it seems, had other plans. She was resurrected. She was given a new life. She… is sitting before you.” She smiled, “My heart was empty. A void.” She looked fondly at Breeze.

“See? You feel lucky to have me. But before I met you… my heart was missing a piece. My Rom family was rebuilding it. But you, Dear Breeze, completed it.”

She felt faint suddenly. “I’m sorry. I’m suddenly… very tired. Excuse me…” She tried to stand, but passed out, and slumped against Breeze.

Ask-De-Writer:

One of the crowd ran to get me. I came trotting back to see what the commotion was about. The youngster was not real clear. They often are not. That is frequently mistaken for being foolish or wrong. Usually it means that it is outside of the youngster’s experience.

As I saw Esper, I knew that last option was definitely the one. Esper was rooted to the spot in the most literal sense. Her own purple magic, no longer a web, had encased her in a crystalline appearing shell. Supported by the magic inside, Esper was floating, unconscious but serene.

Breeze, sensibly not trying to interfere with a thing that she did not understand, was beside herself with fear, nearly to a panic. She turned a tear streaked face to me and asked, “Ghost, what has happened to my love? What is the matter with Esper? She was telling us about her past.

“She said that she was tired. Then she just fell over! Her magic spread out and … and this happened!”

I gave her a reassuring hug and replied, “I have heard of this before, Breeze. I do not think that I have ever seen it before. We need someone with a really long memory to be sure. What we can see is that Esper is all right in there. She breathes. She has no sign of distress.”

When I mentioned “someone with a really long memory” the crowd drew an audible breath. They knew that mine goes back at least 800 years. Goes with being with the Rom that long. They will not shake their belief that I am a Ghost. The Ghost Who Guides. That has been their title for me that whole time.

There were only two who might fill the bill. Somehorse ran to get Celestia and Luna. They left off the clean up of their cooking area and came at a canter.

As soon as they saw Esper, their faces took on a look of almost reverence. Their magics reached out in gossamer webs to touch the crystalline magic.

I pointed at Esper in her magic crystal with my left ear and said, “Transformative Cocoon, right? I heard of something like this back in the days of the old Crystal Empire. Wasn’t sure though.

Celestia nodded slow agreement. “A Transormative Cocoon. They were rare back then. There has not been one since the Empire fell. That is over two thousand years ago.

“She will emerge in a day or two at the most.”

Well, Rom are Rom. We make our living by crafts, acts, displays or services at fairs. Not even foals get out of it. They police up trash that gets dumped by careless ponies and generally spruce up the area.

We had a display that wouldn’t quit! Or, more precisely, it would. It would be short lived but bits are bits.

We began by throwing up a tent to keep the gawkers from peeking without paying. We roped off Esper’s cocoon and Breeze, who would not leave her lover’s side. We did not mind that angle at all! Not only a unique draw, but a Romance into the bargain!

Even with the late hour, we got over a hundred bits in less than twenty minutes! A couple of enterprising colts with an artistic bent, painted up a fast banner to increase the draw.

When morning came, every Rom booth, besides selling their wares, was offering some sort of breakfast treat. Even Black Lotus and I were trying to keep up with demand for our chocolate coated clover-nut bars. One booth was offering only coffee and tea. They were being watched by the rest of us because they were doing an astounding amount of business.

Black Lotus wandered back to our dance pavilion with a bemused expression on her face. She broke into giggles as she told me, “I took Breeze a Clover-nut bar to eat. I wasn’t the only one! There is enough food piled on her blanket to feed both of them for a month at least!”

All day the business boomed down at the Amazing Transformative Cocoon! Tent. Esper’s busking friends helped out the Sky Dancers. Breeze anxiously pried herself loose from Esper’s side for performances but sprinted back the moment that she was done with any dance.

Changes were happening inside the cocoon. Slow but visible alterations of Esper’s form were happening. She was developing a color pattern and a flank mark was vaguely visible. Her horns were altering.

That late afternoon, the cocoon began to show signs of breaking up. Black Lotus and I ran for the tent. Celestia and Luna both did the same. Dark came flying down the midway to a dramatic landing and sprinted in.

The cocoon, instead of actually breaking apart was shifting and shrinking. It reached Esper’s skin and sank in. The odd root withered and died.

Esper stood before us on all fours, shaking her head to clear it. She said, “I feel great!”

She took about two steps and fell down. Looking up with a sheepish grin, she said, “Trickier to walk this way than it looks, isn’t it!”

While Breeze and Dark were helping Esper up we all giggled. We had never thought of if before. A foal walks from minutes after being born.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper stood on her wobbly legs, and tried to walk again. She made it all of three feet out of the tent, falling onto her stomach.

“Oof~” She sighed. “It’s not so much the walking part I’m having difficulty with… it’s the managing four legs at once.”

She stood again, but remained still. She looked up, yes, up, at Breeze. “Have you gotten taller? Or have I gotten shorter?” she asked, raising her right forehoof to make a height comparison. 

“Ah!” she gasped in shock. “I’m a head shorter than you! I’m… I’m short?”

Then she looked at her coat. “Wait… I’m also two different colours? By the Spirits… what kinda pony am I?”

She whinnied in protest. Then eeped! “I can whinny now?” She looked to Marchhare. “Father… what has happened? I’m… I’m so confused…”

Her much larger, purple eyes dewed up in confusion and shock. They seemed to be filled with so many questions she was to be unable to ask.

Ask-De-Writer:

I did gaze at her with compassion. “It would appear that your magic made a few basic changes in you. You are now a pinto filly with horns and a mark of Magical Protection.

“You were an Oryx Squirrel hybrid. I would venture that you are still part oryx. The other part would seem to be …”

“Horse!” Breeze interrupted firmly. “Rom like us,” she put a hoof gently between Esper’s horns, “are HORSES. Appearance does not matter. You, my love are still a horse. Just like I am.” She wrapped a wing about Esper in a gentle hug.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper, mindful of her horns, nuzzled Breeze’s chin with her nose. “Thank you, Love. This is all… overwhelming.”

She blinked a few times. “Oh… my eyes are so much larger. I can see so many things in greater detail.” She sneezed, causing her her horns to spark briefly. “And my nose is more sensitive.”

She sniffed the air again. “Do I smell food?” She looked around, and spotted the gifted pastries. Back inside the tent.

She licked her lips, and drooled slightly. “Are those for me?”

She whimpered hungrily, “I mean… can I have some of that food?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Dark grinned her reassuring little razor toothed grin and replied, “Of course. Those are your share. Everyhorse brought something for Breeze. She would not leave your side except for Sky Dances. She flew right back here to your side as soon as each performance was over.”

“Sorry to be rude,” Esper’s voice floated out of the tent. “I am ravenous after that change.”

Celestia smiled indulgently and said, “Well, that is solved. All that she has to do is think of food and she is there! Nothing important about our Esper has changed!”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper leaped to the food, and temporarily forgetting her manners, began eating hungrily. She quickly ate her share, seemingly being part blackhole. After several minutes, she finished. And then belched loudly.

“Oh!” She blushed brightly covering her mouth with her forehoof. “Excuse me. S-sorry. I couldn’t help myself.”

She smiled, “I do feel much better now. I guess I just needed a good meal.” (2/2)

Ask-De-Writer:

Esper, realizing that we were all outside the tent, turned to come out. Thinking about her legs again brought about another small tangle and down she went. Dark and Breeze, went in and helped her up again.

Dark observed, “You went back for the food with no trouble at all. You were not thinking about your legs, only the food. The destination, not the journey. I suspect that is the secret.”

Breeze nodded as they lifted her friend and love. “Dark is wise, even if young, Esper. I think that she is right. Celestia is out there. You love her like a mother. Do not think about walking, only about going to her.” He wing gave Esper a light pat on the rear as she spoke.

Both she and Dark let go. Her gaze fixed on her teacher, mentor and the one who felt so like a mother to her, Esper walked confidently out of the tent. Celestia nodded encouragement and wrapped Esper in a big white wing.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper nickered cutely and nuzzled her mentor, arching her back against the taller pony’s chest.

“How… um, how did my magic cause this? I mean… has this ever happened before? Unintentionally or otherwise?”

She looked up at Celestia with her head tilted; her eyes wide, bright, and full of curiosity. Much like a foal seeing the world for the first time.

Ask-De-Writer:

Celestia looked down fondly at Esper. “How it happened? That we do not know. What we do know is that it did happen in the long past. As far as we know, it has not happened in over two thousand years.

“It was called a Transformative Cocoon in the days of the ancient Crystal Empire. They were rare even then and not well studied.

“I think that yours may well have been unique. No past record mentioned a stem and roots like yours. However it occurred, your transformation is very real and complete.”

Giving Breeze a cheerful smile, Celestia went on, “You are now a small Pinto HORSE. You might grow more but who knows? None of us do.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper nodded.

“I wonder if my magic has changed.” She shrugged, “Well… I guess I’ll kind of find out later.”

She looked around, her tail flicking excitedly. “I want to see the other booths!” She galloped in a circle, and tripped again. “Oof!”

She picked herself up.

“That is… with some help.”

She blushed.

Ask-De-Writer:

Dark and Breeze looked each other in the eye and nodded conspiratorially. They wandered over and told Esper, “Help? Why would we need to help you? You are getting to be an expert at picking yourself up!”

Giggling, they steadied Esper on her feet.

Breeze, grinning some, suggested, “Quit thinking about how to get to the booths and just focus on going to them.”

Esper frowned in concentration, staring at the Honey Fluffed Clover booth. She actually made it all the way to the booth with only one stumble and no falls.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper sighed happily. The day, despite it’s rough start, went rather well. She enjoyed getting used to her new body. And she felt, well, closer to Breeze and the Rom, now that she was a tiny horse.

She even got a few curious questions on what the experience was like. All that she could do, however, was shrug and explain that she had been unconscious during the whole process.

There was a thing, however, that was still bothering her.

As she and her family made their way back to the camp grounds, Esper, who was walking next to Breeze, sped up her steps to walk next to Celestia.

“Princess? May I ask you something?”

The tall alabaster monarch looked down at her pupil with kind eyes, giving her silent permission to continue.

“I was wondering, and I know this might sound silly, but would it be possible for me to, well, fly using my magic?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Celestia cocked her head in thought. In a kindly voice, the Princess replied, “I really do not know, Esper. If you were an ordinary unicorn, with a unicorn’s magic, I would say no. Not at all. There are many unicorns who can lift far more than their own weight but no unicorn has ever successfully lifted itself.

“Your magic has elements to it that are not common to our world at all. Where our magic can lift, move, bond or break, sometimes like with Luna’s surgery, very subtly it is almost exclusively the manipulation of what is already there. Your magic can make things that are very real and solid while they last.

“That property of your magic MIGHT be usable to do something similar to a pegasus’ flight. I have to admit that is only a guess.

“If you should try it, remember, not even birds or pegassi are born or hatched knowing how to fly. It normally takes a pegasus several months to learn flight.”

Her luminous eyes gazed at her student and she smiled. “Breeze and you would look lovely flying together, wouldn’t you?”

The Whisper Sisters:

“That is why I a-a-asked.” Esper yawned and shook her head. “I would love nothing more then to be able to fly with my beloved.”

Luna, Dark, Black, Breeze, Celestia, Marchhare and Esper reached their camp.

Esper yawned again as she curled up in her usual spot near the warm flames. “Hmm… ” She sighs contently, as she tucks her legs under herself. “What a day it’s been.”

Ask-De-Writer:

As the rest were all settling in, Dark snuggled under Luna’s wing, asked softly, “Perhaps she can’t fly, but we do. Could you give her happy dreams of flying? Show her how we use our wings and what it feels like to take off, to land safely and just share the joy of it?”

Luna nodded, smiling thoughtfully as a gossamer magic of midnight, shot through with stars settled gently over the sleeping Esper.

The Whisper Sisters:

The next morning, Esper awoke.

“Gah!” she gasped in surprise.

She might have fallen asleep on the ground but she had awoken in a tree!

“Help!” She shouted in fear as she gripped the branch tightly.

“Breeeeeze!” She shouted down at her love, some twenty feet below!

How the heck did she wind up in a tree?

Ask-De-Writer:

There was a general giggle from the suddenly awakened camp at Esper’s predicament. Celestia, still a bit sleepy, sent up a light but safe cocoon of her many hued magic to steady her student.

She spoke then, gently, as so often before, “Esper, dear, relax some and take a bit to look about you. I will not let you fall. Can you enjoy it up there?

“If you can, then it would appear that there is indeed some way to fly with your magic.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper calmed down and loosened her grip on the branch.

“Okay. I’m okay.” She looked around. “How did I fly up here though? In my dreams I flew with purple wings… did I use my magic somehow?”

As Esper said ‘purple wings’ two wings of purple magic sprouted from her back. Each was comprised of three diamond shapes.

“Ah!” she gasped. “I have wings?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Rather dryly, Celestia observed, “So it would appear. Now, let me bring you down. There is a world of difference between having wings and being able to fly.

“I suspect that my dear sister, there, trying so hard to look innocent, was at least partly responsible for this.”

As she was speaking, her magic gently lifted Esper down from the branch.

With her student’s feet firmly and safely on the ground, Celestia turned to Luna who, with a serene smile, nodded. “I did give her a dream of pegasus flight. It had an unexpected side effect.”

Celestia nodded too, accepting what she was told. Turning back to Esper, she pointed out, “Take learning to fly in small steps at first, dear. I was not joking. No bird or pegasus learns to fly without a lot of tries. Remember learning to walk? How many times did you fall or stumble? Flying is more complex.

“Breeze and her sisters are expert fliers. They can help you if they will.”

Luna brightened and exclaimed, “I hear customers at the booth! We have overslept at a FAIR! Come, Sister, we have work to do!”

They both cantered off to attend to opening their booth for breakfast. We all scattered to the same errand. Breakfast of fun and exotic foods is always a big sales event at fairs.

I suggested, “Esper, go help Breeze and her sisters with their fried batter swirls. Black Lotus, Dark and I will be fine.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper nodded and looked fondly at Breeze. “Well… I guess you’re stuck with me today.” She folded her sparkling purple wings. “Shall we?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze nuzzled Esper affectionately and replied, “Stuck? Stuck on you is reasonable. Stuck with you? You are a pleasure to be around. Now let’s go down to the Midway and get our breakfast offerings cooking. Deep fried Clover Batter swirls always draw a goodly crowd and lots of bits.

“Speaking of bits, putting your Transformative Cocoon on display made over 1500 bits. Ask Marchhare for your share. He was doing the barking and admission sales.”

At Esper’s bit of a frown, Breeze grinned. “Dear Esper. We had something to show that Princess Celestia said has not been seen in over 2000 years! Do not blame us for making money from it. We live on the Roads. That money will serve the whole band well.

“Besides, it gave me YOU as you are now.”

They entered the back of the Sky Dancer’s booth and began mixing up Clover Batter. Gust looked up from tending the bed of coals that was heating the cooking oil. Wisp was setting up the serving wicker and Puff was laying out the dipping tools and the draining rack.

It was only a few minutes before they were eating the first batch of the batter swirls. Only moments after that, they had customers. A goodly line of them. The batter swirls did smell wonderful as they cooked. Topped with a honey dip they were irresistable.

The morning food rush was a profitable and busy madhouse. Somehow, Breeze managed to find the short moments needed to give Esper a quick nuzzle and say, “You are doing great, Love!”

The Whisper Sisters:

As Esper served the food and collected the bits from the hungry crowd, she received the occasional nuzzle from Breeze. New thoughts kept going through her mind. More specifically; her own caravan.

Well… a caravan for her and Breeze. She didn’t know the cost of a caravan… but with her bits from Marchhare, they could consider looking into buying one, right? Even if it was in poor condition, Esper could fix it with magic.

After the rush was done, and the crowd had moved on, Esper sat back on her flank with a groan.

“Oh wow… what a morning.” She looked around for the Chaser sisters. “Where are you, girls?”

Ask-De-Writer:

She followed the giggles. Gust, Puff and Wisp were fitting Breeze with new sashes, pale, almost white ones, fringed with golden looking tassels and lace.

Gust glanced up and saw Esper. Before Esper could speak, Gust made shooing motions and said, “You need to see Marchhare and Black Lotus. You and Dark are going to be adopted as Goddaughters today, right before you drum for Luna’s first public Dressage. Scoot.”

At Black Lotus’s Dressage tent Esper found them dressing Dark in a similar way to what Breeze had been getting. Dark was fussing about it because two of her knife sheaths did not fit right.

“You can see both of them!”

Black Lotus thought for a moment and then nodded, “Correct. We certainly can. What about wearing them openly and gifting one to each of your Godmothers as part of the ceremony? Everyhorse knows how much you treasure them.”

Dark settled down at once. “Thank you, Auntie. I should have thought of that myself.”

She spied Esper and blurted, “There you are! We were wondering when you would show up! We have to get you dressed!”

There was a veritable whirl of sashes, harness ring and rivet polishing. Black Lotus carefully re dyed and waxed Esper’s Freedom headstall.

Before she quite knew what was happening, Marchhare was leading both she and Dark, visions in sashes of ivory white, pale old ivory yellow and golden fringes, at the head of a procession. The Rom were shutting their booths to join in.

At the end of the midway, on a stage, awaited both Princesses. They were in their full Royal Finery and flanked by the Royal Guard.

 

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper blushed heavily as she followed her Father. She heard hushed whispers of praise and compliments follow her and Dark. 'So many eyes watch us…’ she then turned her thoughts to Breeze.

While she was new to the Rom, and knew very little of their customs, she did know that dressing for weddings was very similar across the dimensions.

Did this mean what she thought it meant?

Ask-De-Writer:

The procession passed the Sky Dancer’s pavilion. As they passed, all four of them came out. Breeze was dressed very like Esper. Horses following Esper and Black Lotus made way, creating a space for the Chaser Sisters.

Behind them, the following crowd was a mixture of fair goers and Rom. There were far more of the shorter ponies of the area than was usual this early in the day. Word had gone out, the night before, that the Royal Goddaughter Adoption would be this morning.

I brought the procession to the foot of the stair up to the stage. With a little guidance from Royal Guards, the crowd took up the space about the foot of the stage.

When all was set, I said clearly for all to hear, “Marchhare of the Rom, a formal member of the Royal Family of Equestria requests permission to Approach the Throne. I have new daughters by adoption to present to their Highnesses, Celestia and Luna.”

Luna, in her Canterlot Voice, called out, for all to hear, “Come forward, Marchhare, and bring to us whom you will.”

The poor Guard at the foot of the stair could see the knives that Dark had openly strapped to her foreleg. He did manage to hold his position and not interfere with the ceremony. We all ascended the steps and knelt before the Rulers of Equestria.

Celestia said gently but in a carrying voice trained by centuries of Court, “Arise, Marchhare, and present to Us these new daughters of yours and tell us whatso is known of them.”

I, the old donkey, arose and smiling, held out a hoof to them both. “Please stand, Esper and Dark.

“Your Royal Highnesses, these two are the most remarkable young fillies that I have adopted in my 800 years among the Rom.

“Dark is the daughter of the Alicorn of Murder who resides in Sunnytown in the Everfree Forest and the Lady Snow, Duchess Dreadful-Storm. She resides in a world not too far removed from this.

“Dark is a superlative smith and works other materials as well. She has assisted me on several projects for the furtherance of the Realm already. Recently she was instrumental in solving a murder and recovering goods belonging to your highnesses that were being stolen.”

Marchhare paused and made sure that all could see Esper’s horns, sparkling with a purple web of magic between them.

“This is my daughter Esper. Her life was a hard one. She was orphaned at an early age. Taken in, she lost that family also. She slew the single monster that was responsible for both killings.

“She found a sister and her family. She was slain defending them successfully from an evil thing.

“Her world is ruled by Spirits of great power. Those Spirits chose to bring her back to life here in the Equestria that we all love. She has magic which, though powerful, is limited.

“She is a most talented musician.”

Both Princesses bowed to the fillies Dark and Esper, touching them with their horn tips. Arising, the Princesses declared, “We do find your new daughters to be most fitting, Marchhare.

“It is our pleasure to welcome them to Equestria’s Royal Family as Goddaughters. It will be our joy to visit your caravan and give them proper instruction in the ways of the Rom and the laws of Equestria.”

Dark knelt in front of Luna. “Godmother, I have for you a gift freely given, if you will have it from me.”

Luna did not even hesitate. “What you wish to give freely, that I will be happy to accept.”

Dark unfastened one of her two visible scabbards, knife and all. Handing it to the Princess with a deep bow she said, “It is of my work entirely. I have done both the scabbard and the Knife within. This blade is of the finest Damascus steel and worked in a pattern of stars.”

Luna took the knife and very publicly strapped it to her foreleg.

Dark repeated the offer and gift with Celestia, who, looking very pleased, also strapped her knife into place.

Nothing like putting the youngsters on the spot. It builds character. I nodded, pointing with my left ear. Celestia grinned like a Cheshire Cat and pointed with her horn. “Arise, Breeze Chaser, of the Rom.”

I turned to Esper and asked, “Esper, you have chosen Breeze Chaser, of the Chaser Sisters, those famous Sky Dancers, as your mate. She is before you. Do you wish to make this mating a permanent choice? Should you so choose, go stand beside your mate.”

Breeze, dressed the same as Esper, gave her a look of both hope and fear.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper gulped nervously. All this pressure seemed a little over-whelming. She took a deep, calming, breath, and walked over to her love.

“Aye.” The small hybrid nodded, “I do wish it.” She stood next to Breeze and looked at Celestia.

Celestia nodded and smiled at her Goddaughter. “Excellent. Well chosen, my Pupil.”

She touched the right forehooves of both ponies with her horn. In a flash, she placed a golden horseshoe on each hoof.

“These are a sign that you two are now wed.” She smiled, and looked at Breeze.

“Breeze? I do believe that you have a gift for Esper?”

Breeze took a box out from under her wing, and placed it on the stage. She opened it revealing a small white feather, beaded and fashioned as an earing.

“My first molted feather.” She smiled, “A pegasus gifts it to her chosen mate.”

Esper gasped. “Oh, wow…” She picked up the earring and clipped it to her right ear. “Thank you, Breeze.”

Breeze smiled, and the two nuzzled each other’s snouts.

Celestia’s horn glowed. “By the power invested in me, as one of the Rulers of Equestria, I now pronounce you Mates for Life.”

She turned to the gathered Rom. “My dear Rom, I present to you Esper and Breeze Chaser!”

She turns to Luna. “I do believe you have a gift for them, My Sister?”



Ask-De-Writer:

Luna’s soft midnight magic settled over the two, almost like a blanket. It flowed softly into each of them, leaving behind a gentle dream of goodness spent together.

She spoke, “Tradition calls for a gift to be made from the Godmothers on such a wonderful occasion as this.

“Celestia and I have a gift for you to help you start your life together. Not long ago, our dear friend Rose was murdered. She left me her caravan and all of its contents in her will.

“Knowing that this wedding was coming, Celestia, who is far the better woodworker than I, refurbished the entire caravan. Dark inventoried Rose’s maintenance tools and upgraded everything to the best standard. Marchhare and Black Lotus gave the furnishings and cooking gear.”

At her signal, two Rom, dressed in white and gold sashes pulled the caravan around to where all could see the gleaming light and dark woodwork and the graceful arch of the brightly painted roof.

Sargent Blackberry let out a truly fine Rom Trill of applause. And handed Esper her tone drum. With a grin, she said, “Princess Luna wants you to play the Two Green Vines!

“She is going to dance for you two!”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper nodded. “I hope I can still play.”

She sat on her flank and started beating the drum slowly and softly. Apparently her new form had no effect on her musical skills.

“When you are ready, Mother Luna…” she smiled brightly.

Ask-De-Writer:

Luna was nowhere to be seen. A few suspenseful moments later, she bounded out into the open area in front of the stage. She was in sashes colored the whites and ivory with gold trim of Rom weddings. Her harness and Freedom headstall were of the finest tooled leather, died with the brilliant green of expensive malachite. All the rings, rivets and studs were of polished golden bronze.

She struck her starting pose. The indrawn breath of the crowd was let out in a huge Rom Trill. Some of the local ponies in the audience tried joining in too. Others clapped their hooves.

As Esper began the traditional Rom tune, one that she had learned from the young buskers only a few days before, a flute joined in. A violin added its plaintive wail. A second flute and another violin, along with a harp added to the swelling tune.

Looking up, Esper saw that I and Dark were following her lead. Backing us up were the young buskers from a few days ago. The opening ended and Luna’s dance began.

To the dance tune traditional at Rom Matings, Luna was a vision of Living Midnight, white and ivory, her dance starting as the traditional Two Green Vines. Her wings entered the dance so naturally that it took a moment for even those of us who knew it in our blood to realize that the dance was far more special than any could expect.

Luna floated and spun, flared her wings and hid behind them. Raised them and fanned them. Beyond what any veil could do, her wings swirled and flowed along with her brilliant hoofwork and graceful postures.

The dance and the music were one. As the song came to its end, Luna ended the dance, as she had for Rose, bowed to the young couple, her wings fanned in a near perfect circle. The tips of her wings pointed at Esper and Breeze.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper and Breeze bowed to Luna. Esper had tears in her eyes.

“Thank you so much, Mother Luna…” Forgetting herself, she rushed forward, and hugged Luna tightly.

“This is a day I will never forget.”

She broke the hug, and then rushed over to Celestia. “Thank you for this day, Mother. I… I love you so much…” She hugged the princess tightly.

Ask-De-Writer:

Both many hued magic and a white wing wrapped about Esper. She said softly, “Love you too, my Godfilly. Our loved dead are always with us. You were at her Lake. Fill that caravan with love and happiness for Rose and know that she will help you to Pull. Wherever you go, whatever you do, remember that she is with you.”

As Esper looked up in question, Celestia smiled fondly and went on, “Part of my love for you, dear student and godfilly includes my duties as godparent. You are new to our ways.

“Yes, our ways. Both Luna and I spend as much time as we can with the Rom because we feel closer to them than to any of our other subjects. We are Rom and joyfully so.

“Seeing you adapt so well from so difficult and different background has gladdened me. I am happy to have you as godfilly, student and friend. Royalty has so few of those.

“It is sad, but Luna and I must go at the fair’s end. A whole kingdom needs us too.”

Her mood shifting to playful, she gave Esper a tighter hug and let go, saying, “That means that every second that I can wear the Freedom is precious! Let’s go keep our booths and play when and how we can!! we only have two days and a night left!”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper hung back with Breeze, while everyone headed back to the fair.

“Well… we’re married.” She blushed, and looked up at her mate. “And we have our own caravan…”

She looked over to their new home. “What say that we, tonight, start making our happy memories in it?” She blushed cutely.

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze covered her eyes with one wing and hugged her mate with the other. “Of course, we will, silly! That is what they gave it to us for!”

Breeze shook her head in disbelief, “It was a truly handsome gift too. A caravan like that, with all the maintenance tools and furnishings? At least ten, perhaps as many as twelve thousand bits worth. It is the single most expensive thing that any Rom own.

“And this has Celestia’s woodwork too? Priceless.”

Esper was nodding in something like shock. She knew that caravans were expensive, but that much? She pictured the Rom encampment with eyes newly opened.

Breeze added thoughtfully, “We got another thing worth far more than the caravan. Luna gave us her very first truly public dance. What she did at Rose’s Lake was for Rose and Rom alone. Now all of Equestria knows what a dancer she is.

“She has been training and practicing ever since the Mareimount Fair (see Incident on the Way to Mareimount Fair) years ago. That was when the Mareimount Proclamations and Edicts were made to undo so many wrongs.

“We have been blessed in so many ways.”

She patted Esper’s rear with the wing that had been hugging and snorted, “This is still a Fair! We need to get to the pavilion! The others are waiting to do the first of the day’s Sky Dances! You are on the tone drum for us!”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper nickered excitedly. She galloped towards the fair!

“Catch me if you can, My Love.” She giggled, and ran as fast as she could.

Ask-De-Writer:

Now that she was getting used to her pony body, Esper was actually pretty fast! Breeze did not cheat, exactly, she just used what nature and training had already given her. Wings!

She flew low and fast, brushing her love’s mane with her wingtip as she flew past. She was grinning widely as the Sky Dancers waited for their musician to get there. It was a very short wait.

I had say that I approved of how they were doing. Good start. Not the caravan and Royal Wedding. Those were wonderful enough but it was how they got along. Many eyes had watched them before the wedding, and were watching them now. The Rom care about their own.

Up the Midway a bit, Luna and Celestia were already frying and baking for the townie snack crowd.

I saw some pony come out of Dark’s with a lovely knife, neatly wrapped. I could hear the buskers tuning up.

It was the start of another fine day at the Fair.

The Whisper Sisters:

As Celestia lowered the sun, Esper stifled a yawn. It had been yet another long day.

Her being adopted by Celestia and Luna, getting married, finding out that she could fly, eating, dancing, and drumming. A good day when all was said and done.

She packed up her drums. Curiously, she summoned her wings. She flexed and flared them, even folded them against her body.

“Hm.”

Esper trotted over to her sisters in law and her wife. She cleared her throat.

“I know the day grows late, but I was curious… now that I know that I have wings, and can fly… somewhat, do you think you girls could give me flying lessons?”

She scuffed her left forehoof on the ground. “At least… some basic tips?”

Ask-De-Writer:

They all four looked up as one and replied, “What? You want us to teach you the secrets of the pegassi? Not a chance. We will teach you how to be a flying horse, not some pony!”

They gathered Esper into a group hug and held her tight as they added, “We were going to come to you, dear. You beat us to it.”

Little Wisp said, “Flying is really complicated at first. Start by rearing to your hind legs and fluttering your wings. When your fluttering gets you above the ground a little, we will work on both coming down and moving some.”

Breeze nodded. “That is the start of it, Love. Flutter before you fly. Do not worry if it takes a week or more to get off the ground reliably. That is normal. We will get more detailed as we see the results of your fluttering.”

Gust, the leader of the Sky Dancers, said, “I remember teaching three other young fillies how to fly. That is the start of it all.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper noded at the instructions. “Okay… best give me some room, then.”

She waited for the girls to move back several feet. Then she flared her wings. “Okay. Just flutter~”

She started flapping her wings up and down, seemingly not being able to take off.

“Hm.” Esper pouted. She flapped her wings harder. Maybe… a little two hard. She did a loop-de-loop! And landed on her back! With her legs in the air!

“Oops.”

Ask-De-Writer:

It was a giggling Wisp who helped Esper back to her feet.

Giving the others a glance of amusement, she said, “Thanks, Esper! Now, I am not the ONLY one of us to do that!”

Steadying down, she explained, “The proper wing stroke is not a simple flap up and down. First, there is a downstroke part way that makes a lot of lift. From the end of it, you row back which pushes you forward. Finish the rowback with a small downstroke and lift forward to your starting place. Here, watch me. I will show you.”

She raised her wings and drove them through the full stroke.

“You see, Esper? This is the basic flight stroke. Do not try getting the power to fly yet. Practice getting the stroke right. You will feel it in your legs, here on the ground. First the lift, then the push. You won’t feel much during the return but when you are airborne it is very important. It is the gliding part of flying. the part that allows you to go for long distances with little effort.

“Flutter with this stroke. When the flutter is working well, then we can try building up power and fly a short distance. This usually takes from one to two weeks to learn well. Do not be in a hurry. Do it right.

“That is when we will practice LANDING.” Wisp was grinning as she added, “And what fun THAT will be!”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper nodded.

“Right. Down stroke.” She stood still, and started flapping her wings just as Wisp had taught her.

Ever so slowly, Esper’s hooves left the ground. In her excitement, she stopped flapping! Fortunately, she had only been hovering a mere inch.

“Oh! I got lift!” she nickered happily.

Ask-De-Writer:

Wisp ducked in and caught Esper as she stumbled a bit from that tiny fall, so much like taking a stairstep that is not there!

“Yes, you did get lift! Now, stop trying to fly! Right now you need control. That is why I said to feel the lift and thrust with your legs! This is important! I don’t want you to break a leg, and you can!”

She gave Esper a stern glare, before breaking into a smile. “Except for forgetting to flap, you did do pretty good!”

She examined Esper’s glittering wings of purple magic. “I was watching you. Your horns did get into the act. Your magic is more than just the wings. Still, try to do our way first, please?”

The Whisper Sisters:

Wind pouted.

“Aye. I will. Sorry. I just got excited…” She brightened up, and started flapping her wings as she was told to do. After a half hour, or so, she groaned, and made them disappear.

“Oh… I’m exhausted…” she sighed. Looking at her sisters in law, she asked, “Can we call it a day for now?”

Ask-De-Writer:

As one, three of the grinning sisters replied, “No! Flap until dawn! Actually, we expected you to stop much sooner. Do not overtire yourself.”

Wisp added, with a twinkle in her eye, “Besides, you have an appointment with Breeze in a certain caravan, don’t you?”

Gust, looking across the empty midway, said, “Somehorse is happy! Look at Dark!”

The little black pegasus with a white mane and tail was skipping and making little wing assisted hops as she crossed from Luna and Celestia’s baked goods booth towards Marchhare’s caravan and camp. Marchhare was following her and had a relieved look on his face.

Dark caught sight of Esper and changed course, practically running in her joy. She grabbed Esper in a delighted hug and exclaimed, “I need to take you away from your lovely wife for just a moment! This news is actually secret, and for good reason, but I must share it with my Knife Sister! It is so wonderful!”

Breeze looked across to where Dark had come from and nodded. “It is a Royal thing, is it not? Then share your news but swiftly.”

She had a grin of anticipation as she added, “It is our wedding night!”

Dark nodded agreement. “We will be swift. Come, my sister, we need the privacy of some small distance.” She led Esper to a clear space away from any camp or fire.

With ruby eyes a sparkle she said, “They gave me a Royal Commission! I will never have to work inside the walls of Canterlot! Luna and Celestia have made me their Assassin Royal! I already have my first assignment!

“I just had to share my joy with you! Now go and spend the night with your wife!”

Dark left, skipping and wing hopping in her joy.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper blinked as her knife sister dashed off. “That was a lot of information.”

She shook her head and looked at Breeze. She held up her hoof, and troted over to Luna and Celestia. “Excuse me, Mothers?” she asked nervously. “I need some… advice. And since you both have long memories, I thought you would be the best horses to ask.” She took a deep breath, and exhaled slowly.

“Since this is going to be my first, well, exclusive night with Breeze… I need some advice.” She looked around to make certain no one was listening in.

“It has been 4 years since I was… well, with someone. Do… can… either of you… well, help me? I know this might seem awkward, but I do not want to disappoint Breeze.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Both Princess nearly choked, stifling laughter. Celestia said gently, “My dear, we are indeed long lived and have long memories. The closest that we have come to any such thing started the Nightmare Wars. We are both still virgins!

“Still, I do have some advice. Do not be in a hurry with her. Talk. Explore gently. Find what you both enjoy and let that lead you. If ever you are hurt by her, understand that she did not mean to do it and forgive her.

“It seems like such a little bit of advice, but you have a lifetime between you to expand on it.

“Go to her, and let love be the only thing to be between you.”

 The Whisper Sisters:

Esper bowed to them, and then scampered off towards Breeze. She smiled as she walked up to her wife.

“Well…” She blushed brightly. “Shall we purchase a bottle of wine before we retire?” She giggled nervously.

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze smiled as she retorted, “From the look and sound of it, you are already drunk. As long as it is on me, I do not mind it one bit.

“As for buying a bottle of wine, that is not necessary. Gust, Puff and Wisp already did that. It is in the caravan. Blackberry and Dandelion, a favorite of mine.

“Now quit trying to find excuses and get up those stairs. I am nervous too, love. But I want this more than anything.”

She gently pushed Esper up the caravan steps. The soft light of a candle lantern lit the inside as Breeze followed her. She shut the lower half of the door and then the upper half.

The Whisper Sisters:

The next morning Esper woke as Celestia’s orb shined a beam of light through the curtains, across the floor, across Breeze’s wings, and into her eye.

“Mmmngh~” Esper groaned as she stuffed her head under her pillow.

“It’s too early…” she moaned.

She felt Breeze stir next to her. The hybrid lifted her head with her pillow still on top. “Mmm~ good morning, Wife. How’d you sleep?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Gently booping Esper’s muzzle, Breeze lifted a wing for Esper to fondle the feather-fur junction. She rejoined, “Sleep? With you sharing the stall with me? You know better than that!”

As she luxuriated in feel of Esper’s gentle hoof playing with her, she removed the pillow and scrtiched Esper behind the ears. After a moment she grinned.

“Listen, Love! They let us sleep in! I hear breakfast being fixed! There are customers out there! Come now, this is the last day of the fair! We need to help!”

Breeze bounded from the shared sleeping stall and opened the caravan door. All of their friends, family and well wishers were gathered there and a table had been set out, piled with a plenteous breakfast. As the newlyweds emerged, they were greeted by Rom trills of applause, led by the grinning Royal twins!

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper eeped and blushed. She shyly waved her hoof to the gathered crowd. Then she quickly found a seat between Marchhare and Breeze.

“Was everyone waiting for us to wake up?”

Ask-De-Writer:

I gave a cheerful glance at my foster daughter and her grinning wife. “This is your first Rom wedding, isn’t it?

“Yes. We waited on you. Today you will get many smaller gifts and such. They are not lesser gifts, mind you. They are the more personal ones. You will be celebrated all day until the packing hour.

“That will not let you out of your responsibilities to the Sky Dancer’s act. You still need to do their music, even as Breeze does her dances. You are a part of that troupe now.

“We will all be going on to the Market at Roan-oak next.

“Now eat your fill and wear your freedoms proudly. This small brow chain that we have now added, tells all who know our customs that you are mated.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Once again, Esper was simply bewildered by Rom custom. All these horses; friends, family, and complete strangers, were celebrating her. They were treating her as though she wasn’t a stranger to them at all.

It was though… they had known her their entire lives, and they were simply catching up after not seeing each other for a long time. Esper uses her magic to gather the food that she wanted, and placed it on her plate.

As she chewed thoughtfully, and more politely than she had when she first transformed, horses of all types smiled at her, and congratulated her.

Some even went so far as to compliment her and Breeze on a successful 'First Night’. She blushed heavily at those comments, but managed a polite nod and smile in return. “By the Stars above…” she whispered to Breeze, “I feel like my ego is being inflated like a balloon…”

Ask-De-Writer:

Playfully poking her love in the ribs, Breeze nickered, “Enjoy it while you can! I guarantee that things will be back to normal as soon as the Roan-oak Pull starts.”

A stallion with a gracefully curved horn, sitting across from them said, “Rose is glad that you two have her caravan. I was going to be in her moot.”

Princess Luna overheard and said, “Her murderer is being tried under the Royal Wing. Celestia will have the case because Rose was my dear friend. To my deepest shame, it was one of my personal Guard who did it. Fear not, Eeshan. There WILL be justice.”

A youngish mare spoke up, cheerfully, “Watching you two and seeing how happy my Princesses are here, I hope that they come back to you a lot. You even treat the death of somepon- - - somehorse that you love as a celebration. I know what my manual says but seeing it makes a big difference.”

With a start, Esper recognized the speaker in her Rom finery. It was Sargent Blackberry. Off duty, obviously.

Breakfast over, the Rom scattered to their booths, games, snack stands and display pavilions. Another day, the last one for this fair, was beginning.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper followed Breeze and her sisters to their stage.

“And what tune shall I start with today, My love?” she asked, as she took up her drum, and sat on her stool.

“Shall I play a lullaby my departed mother sang to me, once upon a time?

"It is cheery tune,” Esper explained, as she started her drumming. The beat was upbeat, but slow, almost as though she was playing a light rain fall.

Ask-De-Writer:

Gust, as the leader of the troupe, said, “Play it through for us twice, Esper. Then give us a little time to choreograph the dance.

“While you are waiting, for us to get that done, play the Endless Chain. You remember it from the Buskers? The tune that returns on itself?

“We will let you know as soon as we have the dance ready.”

Nodding happily, Esper began her tune again, running it through twice, as requested. As she began the Endless Chain, several passers by started a circle dance.

Bobbing horns, flying manes and tails made a double circle of brilliantly colored sashes and tinkling bells as the Rom cheerfully danced for no reason other than that there was music to do it to.

Ponies from the area around watched the dance and tossed bits into a box that the enterprising Chaser sisters had put out for them.

Breeze came close, leaning gently on Esper as she said softly, “Our dance is ready. It is time to break the chain!” Almost without thought, as if it was a reflex, she put a hoof onto the reaching foreleg of a pony trying to steal some of their coins.

A ululation of Rom Trills announce the start of the Sky Dancers act.

The Whisper Sisters:

As Esper drumed, once again she stared in awe as Breeze and her sisters performed their aerial arts.

One day, she hoped, to be beside her mate in the sky. Sure, she didn’t have the bright colours of the Chaser sisters, but she felt that her magic could more than compensate for that.

In fact… she summoned her magic, and gave each of the sisters purple, sparkling, streak trails. She smiled at her genius.

Ask-De-Writer:

The airborne dancers noticed at once. They opened out their choreography to better show the trails and wove them into the dance, creating a glittering flower of light in the morning sky.

As the drumming ended, the dancers spiraled in tightly weaving their trails into a stem for the flower, which persisted for a moment before fading.

After their bows and collecting bits from the audience, Gust came over to Esper, a stern look on her face.

“That did work very well, Esper. Thank you. However, I must ask you not to make spontaneous changes to ours or any other act. Now that we know what you can to for us, we will happily add it to our choreography. Just remember, consult with us first.”

She then smiled and added, “It came close to doubling our usual take!”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper looked ashamed at being scolded. “Aye. I’ll be sure to ask you next time. It’s just… my magic can get away from me sometimes.”

She looked at the collection pot. “Oh, wow. That’s a lot of gold.”

“Is there someplace safe that you keep it?” Esper asked curiously.

Ask-De-Writer:

“There is. Now that you are family, you will be allowed to see it.

“What is truly fun is that there is so much gold. At a small town fair like this, we usually get mostly copper and some silver.”

Gust stared about and then pointed. “See them? Nobles. Trying to pass themselves off as lower classes to curry favor with the Princesses. Won’t work either. They are where the gold came from.

“They mostly think that the Princesses are slumming with us. As a result, they come around when the Princesses can see and try to pretend that they are enjoying themselves. Even among the Princesses Guards, only Sargents Hawthorne and Blackberry have any real interest in us.”

Breeze giggled. “We don’t really care whether the nobles are slumming or not. Gold is gold. Come, love, we will count it up and put it away. You have to learn the business side of our life, too.”

She led Esper into the Chaser caravan.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper frowned as the nobles passed. She disliked those who thought themselves better than others simply because of thier status. She snorted unhappily, and then followed Breeze. “Nobles. Blah.”

She puts on a posh accient “Oh, look at me. I am sooo much better than thou, because I was born rich. Nyah.”

She shook her head. “Shallow horses. All of them. Except the Princesses.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze nodded mildly. “About most of them, I agree. There are some among them who really do work hard to make their part of the kingdom a better place.”

She grinned as she set out a counting tray and a balance scale. “Those ponies are rare. Some even come from old families. The worst ones are the ones like those out on the midway. They care about nothing except themselves and their privilege.”

As Esper watched, she poured the collection pot out in the raised sided counting tray. She expertly flicked coins by type, gold, silver or copper into bins recessed into the tray. When all were sorted, she began by counting the gold. This she stacked into neat piles of ten.

She weighed each pile carefully and compared the weight to a chart. A few she set aside. These she examined carefully at the edges before making them into new stacks. All but one of the new stacks satisfied her. The coins that had been so filed or clipped at the edges that their weight was seriously affected, she set in a wrapped bundle labeled by weight only. She wrote the gold up in a small ledger kept in a drawer of the tray. All of the gold went into a small coffer, which she sealed.

The silver was a repeat of the gold.

Most of the checks were skipped for the copper coins. The money was put into a flat chest that she then hid beneath the floor of the caravan. She brought out a small slip which she gave to Gust.

Gust glanced at it and smiled. Broadly.

She said happily, “We have five more Dances booked for today!”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper looked from one to the other of the two mares.

“Five more dances?” She looked down at her forehooves.

“Okay. I can play. But I’m going to need my pipe to help keep the swelling down,” She smiled.

“Do you mind if I go see Father for some herbs?” she asked cutely. “I’ll be really quick.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Puff suggested, “Sure, not a problem. We do have to rest between sets.

“Why not go and see the T'ang? They use a sort of glove with the tone drum. If they want you to drum for one of their shows, I do not see a problem with it.

“One of their drummers could show you how they use the glove for different effects while you do it.”

Gust smiled and added, “Puff is trying to divert you from the canvass weed leaves. She disapproves of any form of intoxication. If you were going to be up in Dance, I would agree. Wait until the dancing day is done.

“I saw your drumming and smoking at Rose’s Lake and it seemed to help you to relax and do better. If you do not mind, we will talk more of this later. For now, get your herbs and follow Puff’s advice. I think that both will do you good.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper pauses. “I… what?” She frowns slightly. “I don’t smoke to intoxicate my mind. I do it to relax.” She huffs. “I certainly don’t want anyone thinking I’m addicted to it.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Gently, Gust replied, “My dear sister in law; not even Puff thinks that. Her disapproval is from a different cause altogether.

“She has known of several who used either alcohol or herbs of your sort to excess. They lost loves, even their caravans to it. Before you came to us, she was terrified that something like that would happen to us.

“We barely survived as a family after our parents were killed. She has been our mainstay, keeping us working and honing our act to the fame it has now. Forgive her this and we will help her to look the other way for you.

“Now scoot. You have herbs to get and a glove to find and learn the use of.” Gust winked at Esper as she made shooing motions.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper smiled, and darted over to Marchhare’s booth. She whinnied cutely. “Father? Are you about? I need some help.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Black Lotus grinned at Esper and handed her a pouch and a strangely fashioned glove that had on its working face, parts that were hard, soft parts and even a stiff brush. It was cushioned inside but not too thickly.

“Father is inside, closeted with De Writer. I have no idea what is so important that De Writer would risk being near the Princesses but father handed these out. He said that you would understand the glove. As for the other, flower tops and upper leaves hung upside down for a week.”

Black Lotus glanced about and then confided, “I sometimes have a bowl after a hard set. It helps. Thank your sister Wind in your old world for it. This is some of her favorite blend. Which also means that De Writer has likely visited your family recently.

“Share a bowl?”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper took the items and placed them in her saddle bags.

“My Sister? Wind? H-he saw Wind recently?” She summoned her pipe, and nodded.

“Certainly. I would enjoy a bowl with you. Do you have you own pipe? Or shall we share mine?”

She packed her pipe, and lit it. “Now that’s a familiar scent…” she sighed happily.

Ask-De-Writer:

To Esper’s surprise, Black Lotus agreed, “It certainly is. De Writer used to bring it when he knew that our supplies were low.”

She took a slow drag at the pipe and handed it back.

“I am not actually sure that De Writer saw your family. I have not spoken to him about it. There has not been time. I did not see him come, but that is not unusual at all.

“It is possible that he has hidden stocks somewhere that he brings us. Remember that as fast as father can be, De Writer is able to be anywhere that time exists, on the actual instant of the present.”

The pipe traded hands several times in quiet, contemplative silence before it was all smoked and it was time to empty the dottle.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper emptied her pipe, and put it away.

“Right. I best head back to my stage.”

She kissed Black on her cheek saying, “See you later. Give my regards to De Writer…”

She then smiled, and troted back to the Chaser Sister’s stage. “I return.” She said with exaggerated gusto.

Ask-De-Writer:

“So you have,” said Puff, showing some humor and tolerance in her intolerance. “And higher than we will be during our dance!”

She giggled just a bit and added, “If you do need it, I hope that it helps. I know that it is in every apothecary cabinet of the Rom because it helps so many conditions.

“Now we have your part in the next dance to discuss so that nothing takes us by surprise again. As tightly as we work when Sky Dancing, that is dangerous.

“Here is how our choreography works …”

As Esper listened, she realized that she was not being blamed for her earlier and successful attempt to help. Indeed, the Chaser sisters had all thought deeply about the things that they had seen her magic do. They were eagerly embracing her as the newest active member of their dance troupe. Suggestions flowed freely back and forth as they settled the new additions to a dance for a traditional tune.

Esper showed them the T'ang tone drum glove and tried it, adjusting it with care.

Testing showed it to make almost a whole new instrument of the drum. Esper was able to not only increase the range of actual notes that she could get, there were effects that she had not been able to produce before at all. She ran through the whole of The Red Flower’s Heart twice for the delighted sisters.

They agreed that it was perfect to accompany the dance that they had devised.

Trills and a drum intro announced the new Sky Dance!

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper drummed and watched her wife and sisters dance. While she played, she couldn’t help but wonder why Puff was so… against her smoking. She wasn’t getting a high from the herbs. It didn’t affect her at all.

Perhaps she could ask Breeze about it later. She was about to start playing another song. Suddenly a thief grabbed the money dish and ran off!

“HEY!” Her magic caught the thief’s leg. “Celestia!”

Ask-De-Writer:

The thief tripped, spilling the Sky Dancer’s coins all about.

From the baked and fried pastry booth across the way, Celestia’s voice called back, “I saw, it Esper, dear! I have her. You keep drumming for now!”

Nodding, Esper continued to work her music and magic for the act.

Soft seeming, many hued magic reached across the midway, holding the young thief and gathering up the fallen coins. The dish refilled properly, Celestia’s magic put it back where it belonged.

She was holding the miscreant until the Sky Dance set ended.

The Whisper Sisters:

The songs of the Sky Dance set ended.

Esper walked over to the young thief. “Explain your actions, Child.” She looked at the little white pegasus with her short gold mane.

“You are too young to be working alone.”

Esper gazed intently around. “Are you stealing our coin for another, older, pony?”

Ask-De-Writer:

The young filly, seeing very well the magic that held her, miserably replied, “No, ma'am.”

Celestia walked over from the pastry booth with three sweet twists and creme filled roll. Giving Esper a direct and compassionate look, she said, “I made inquiries while the dance was going on.

“This filly has been living on the streets of Draytown. She has had to live by begging because the Royal and Local Largess funds that should have housed and fed her were embezzled by the Draytown Council.”

The Royal Princess, with no thought of show at all, knelt before this small filly, the least of her subjects, and offered the snacks that she had brought.

The Whisper Sisters:

The young filly pounced on the food, and ate with gusto.

“Thank you, your Highness…” she said with her mouth full.

Esper smiled. “What is your name, Child?”

The filly swallowed thickly. “Angel Fluff.”

Esper nodded. “I see. Well. You can’t remain homeless. Nopony should suffer that fate.”

She looked around for Breeze. “Breeze? Where are you?”

Ask-De-Writer:

“Here I am, Sweetie! What’s the fuss? We all saw you catch that filly. Celestia is here, so what is the problem?”

Celestia looked up from her spot, watching Angel Fluff eat.

“The problem, my dear, is that Angel Fluff here, is a victim of the Draytown Council. She was living on the streets of Draytown by begging. The Largess funds that should have taken care of her were embezzled by the Council for their own enrichment.

“We saw the same earlier, with young Tharfil who was trying to put some food on his Mum’s table. Angel Fluff’s case is worse. She has no home at all. No mum. No dad. Just begging and sleeping in doorways or wherever she can.”

Celestia’s look hardened like a bar of steel. “That Council has so much to answer for!”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper sat next to Angel, and sighed, “Breeze… we can’t let her live on the streets. If you are willing… we can take her in, and she can live in our caravan.”

Angel gulped, and looked at Esper. “R-really? I can have a home? I won’t have to beg anymore?” Her tail was switching excitedly.

Esper nodded, and smiled. “Only if my wife agrees to it.”

She looked to Breeze. “After all… our caravan is much too big for just two, isn’t it?”

Angel looked at Breeze with pleading eyes. “Please, Ma'am… I won’t be any trouble. I can even help pull. I’m a tough little pony.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze gave a half smile and gave Celestia a hard stare.

Celestia managed to return an innocent look of 'I totally did not set this up!’

Breeze sat next to Angel on the side opposite her wife. Looking across the top of the filly’s head, she said, “Filly knows exactly what to say to a Rom, doesn’t she? I mean, 'I can pull!’ What better thing can you say to a Rom?”

Gazing down thoughtfully at Angel, Breeze asked, “How come you were on the streets? Where are your parents?”

Celestia spoke up, saying something terrible in her gentle voice. “We do not know where her parents are. Sargent Blackberry is back in town tracing documents for me right now.

“We can be pretty sure that they are not alive. They were surveyors hired by Mareimount to do the Draytown end of the Mareimount Bypass Road survey. The Survey party was attacked by robbers. Most escaped but Angel’s mother and father were never seen or heard from again.

The Bypass is a road that is up to standard. A bit better, actually. It has taken nearly seventy percent of the toll traffic that used to flow through Draytown before their road district fell into disrepair.

“The Draytown Council seized their home about a month later and turned Angel out without Largess support. That, by itself was a crime. We are looking into the home seizure and some other connected issues. Right now, that is all that I know of it.

“The provable parts of this case will be included in the trials that will be starting tomorrow.” She shook her beautiful head, golden studs on her Freedom glittering in the sun. “This was going to be such a merry outing. I am going to be hard pressed to be a fair judge after all that has and is happening.”

A tear rolled from her Royal eye.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper pulled Angel into a hug which the alabaster pony quickly accepted.

“Breeze… I know that we are recently married, and, we have yet to discover so much about one another, however… if I ask of only one favour, it will be this one.”

She looked down at the shivering, snuggling filly. “Please let Angel live with us. If need be, I will watch her while you and your sisters perform. And…”

She sniffed the air, “When did you bathe last, Angel?”

Angel looks up at Esper “Um… what’s a bath?”

Esper’s eyes went wide. “Right. Bath, more food, and a mane cut.” She picked the filly up with her magic, much like a kitten. “Bath first.”

Angel squeaked “Hey! I don’t need a bath! I’m fine.”

Esper disregarded the filly’s protests, and carried her away. “Breeze? Could you prepare a hot bath for this sack of dirt disguised as a filly, that I’m carrying?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze laughed and replied, “One hot bath, coming up! Do you want the hedge clippers or the tree pruner for that mane?”

She got a folding tub out and set it up. She trotted off to the Fairground’s big water tank with a bucket and carried it back. It took three trips altogether. The last bucket she poured into a large pot hanging from a tripod and put it on to heat over the campfire.

She went to get soap, a towel and a pair of scissors with comb.

“Here you are, Dear Wife. All ready except for the more food part. I will just trot on over to Luna’s for more of those cinnamon twists, IF your little Angel behaves in the bath.

Water was poured and an amazingly cooperative Angel splashed about in the tub. She had heard Breeze’s promise and really wanted those twists.

The Whisper Sisters:

For the next hour or so, Esper scrubbed and cleaned 3 years worth of dirt off the young pony. “Oh my… it seems there’s a little filly under all that dirt,” she teased.

Once Angel was good and clean, Esper used her magic to control the scissors and comb. First, she brushed the tangles, twigs, and knots out. Next, she took the scissors and cut off what wasn’t matted and caked with dirt. “There. Nice and short.”

Esper then lifted the pegasus out of the tub and wrapped her in a big fluffy towel. She dried Angel,and then set her down. “Now. Doesn’t that feel better?”

Angel shook herself like a puppy, and then nodded. “Oh yeah. Much. Thankth Mith Ethper.” She spoke in a slight lisp. Esper giggled. “Just Esper, Dear. Now, where is Breeze with your food?”

Angel looked around excitedly. “More food?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Just as Esper was looking about too, Breeze came back with a platter. She had six big roasted vegetable skewers, a pile of cinnamon twists, and three chocolate dipped clover and nut bars.

She stopped and made a pretense of searching about. “I brought food for a little filly that was around here somewhere. She had long and tangled mane. I just don’t see her anywhere!

“All that I see is my mate and a sweet looking little pegasus.

“I guess that you two will just have to be the ones to help me eat this up!”

She set out the platter with a big grin and added, “You look great, Angel!”

Neither Esper nor Angel could answer just then. It is not polite to talk with a mouth full of chocolate dipped clover and nut bar!

The Whisper Sisters:

Angel swallowed.

“Thank you, Breeze. Thith is tho yummy.” She kept eating, until her tummy was nice and round. “Oh… I’m tho full.”

She sighed, and laid down. She yawned cutely. “Hmm~ that'th the moth food I’ve had in yearth.”

Esper, too, had eaten her food. “I’m glad we could help you, Angel.” Esper picked up the little filly up with her magic. She placed Angel onto her own back. “Shall we show her to her bed, Love?”

“A bed?” Angel asked in shock. “I get a bed?”

Esper nodded. “Yes. You get a hammock all to yourself.”

She and Breeze walked into their caravan. Esper strung up a hammock made from silk, just above hers and Breeze’s bed. “There.” She placed Angel in it and covered her in a blanket.

“Comfy?” Angel nodded and went out like a light.

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze gave Esper a big grin and scrubbled her between the horns. “Softie! Still, if she really will Pull, she is already Rom. Just like you. All that she needs to learn are the same things you do. Our ways. Got an idea for the hitch.

“Think this through. We do know that you have got more raw power than most horses. We set up a double tree for Angel an I. Hook you up a singletree in the lead. I can take the brake line.

“Once she learns the basics of the Pull, we can move her to the Lead Singletree. Youngsters love being the lead and doing the pace setting. I know that I sure did!”

The lovers left their caravan and the sleeping Angel. They had a fair to work. There were Sky Dances to do, other acts to drum for and and bits to earn.

The Whisper Sisters:

As Esper and Breeze walked back to the stage, Esper couldn’t help but ask, “I was thinking… and please feel free to share your thoughts on the matter, but what if we were to become Angel’s mothers?

“I mean, we could adopt the little one, and that way, we couldn’t lose her through some legal discourse or law.” Esper looked entreatingly at her mate.

“After all… we can’t have children on our own. Not without using magic. Like my sister did.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze replied softly, “While that is a good idea, it is not the reason that you asked, is it?”

“You were unmothered twice. Being Mothered a third time was so vital that you gave your life to defend that family.

“Angel has been unmothered too. She has had three years of that loss to deal with.”

She carefully wrapped her quietly weeping mate in a wing. “I was a bit luckier. We have never told you how we lost Mom and Dad, did we? Our luck was that we had the Rom when mother and father were murdered.

“Wisp and I were too young to fly in the Dance yet. Gust and Puff were up with them.” She spat as she said, “A PONY unicorn, both drunk and on some drug concoction of canvas weed and mushrooms of some sort, 'played a practical joke’ on them by using his magic to clamp their wings while they were a hundred feet up.”

Breeze shook her head and bit her lips at the memory. Tears formed at the corners of her eyes. “He tried to run away after they hit the ground. Most Rom are unicorns too. They just did not realize what was happening until it was too late. He never had a chance of getting away.

“We Rom are under the Royal Wing. At the trial, he tried to tell Luna and Celestia that it was their own fault that they died. He claimed that he let them go in plenty of time for them to just spread their wings and flutter away to safety.

“Magic experts proved that he did not let go until over a second after mom and dad hit.

“Mom lived long enough to tell the four of us, “I will always be with you, dears. The loved dead are always with you.” Rose was right there for us. She kept us by her side for months.

“She saved us. She saved the act.”

Breeze gave Esper a compassionate look. “Mom and Dad’s killer? Luna herself took his horn and set the iron rings of his fetters through his leg bones so that he can never escape a lifetime of hard labor on the Royal Roads.”

With a tight, bitter smile Breeze finished, “He thinks it most unfair. I know. We passed him on the way to Rose’s Lake. We did three days Pull in one day to get there. It was the least that we could do.”

At Esper’s look of concern, Breeze said, “You do not see them, but we never fly without strong Rom on security duty.”

Daubing at Esper’s eyes with a hankie, Breeze said, “Now, we have a Dance and YOU need to drum!”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper nodded. “Of course my Love. Of course.”

She scampered to her drums, and took up her position. She donned her gloves and cleared her throat. “Now… name your tune, My sisters, and I shall play it for you.”

Ask-De-Writer:

The four put their heads together and talked quietly for only a few minutes. Gust raised her head from the huddle and said with a frown, “Play for us the “The Empty Heart.” We ask a tune to match what we see.”

Shocked, they watched Esper, dry eyed but struck to heart, strip off the T'ang gloves and lay them gently on the drum head. She got up and, leaving all behind, turned her back and walked away going up the midway.

Breeze, heart breaking, called, “Esper! Wait! Please!”

In a flutter of wings, she took to the air in pursuit.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper turned her head and saw her mate flying towards her.

“Why is she following me?” she huffed.

“Gust had no right to say that to me. I have every right to be left alone.”

Ask-De-Writer:

A familiar voice came out of the Exotic Dressage pavilion that Esper was passing. Mine.

“You are likely right about that, Esper. Now, Daughter, step in here. Got 800 years worth of Heart Throbbing advice to give you. And, you are going to listen. This is part of what families are all about. So come on in and tell old Marchhare all about it.

“I will listen first. Then it is your turn.”

Esper stepped around the guy ropes and into the cool dimness of Black Lotus’s pavilion.

Breeze Chaser saw her mate go into the big tent. Eyes blurred by tears, she zoomed down to land and rush in after her. Coming down fast and paying no attention to anything but her love, Breeze caught a guy rope with a hind hoof. The guy rope jolted the whole tent as she hit it. She smashed down hard in a tumble of wings and legs.

She lay there sprawled in the tent entrance, unmoving.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper gasped. “Breeze!”

She sat down in shock. “Oh Father… what have I done?”

She shook from her sorrow. “What do I do? I’ve made a mess of everything.” She looked over at Breeze “I don’t deserve her…”

Ask-De-Writer:

Tartly I snapped, “We need to see how bad this is, we can blubber about it later!”

It was unfair, perhaps, but we had a possible severe injury on our hooves. Somehorse had to kick some sense into her. Love can make normally wise creatures into total idiots. Over the last 800 years, most of it married to some wonderful mares, I was fully qualified to know just how idiotic one can get. Both seen it and done it.

It was the right thing, apparently. Esper was beside Breeze, touching her by magic, not with hooves that might move something that should not be moved. She was crying a river. Either she loved that little pegasus more than can be easily imagined, or this whole mess had touched something really deep in Esper. Or both. Seen that too.

She needed something to do. I shook her to get her attention. Looking her in the eye, I said firmly, “Go get Luna, NOW! She is an expert at this sort of thing!”

Tears still running, Esper nodded and took off like a four legged rocket.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper arrived at Luna’s stall. “Luna!” She panted. “Help! Breeze might be injured. She’s at Father’s tent!”

Luna stoped Serving. “She’s injured?” She looked at Esper. “Take me to her.”

Esper’s horns glowed as she teleported them to Marchhare’s tent. Luna walked over to Breeze.

Her horn glowed with midnight magic as she examined the pegasus. “Hm. She is uninjured. Merely unconscious.” Luna’s magic enveloped her, “Awake, Breeze.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze stirred. She began to weep. “She’s gone. Where is she? I … we … said she had an empty heart. She … my Esper just took off her playing gloves and walked away. I never saw such a desolate look on anyhorse’s face in my life. I missed my landing and now I’ve lost her.”

Breeze was crying into the shoulder of Luna’s wing and saw nothing else. Esper was about to start forward to comfort Breeze.

I held her back. “We need to know why this happened. Why they called you empty hearted.”

Breeze did hear that. Without turning, she said, “Oh, Marchhare, I did something awful. I told her how mother and father were murdered.” We all saw Luna go tense with rage at the memory.

We were all torn by that senseless fool’s insane act.

Breeze went on, “We did not think. Esper did not seem to react at all. She put on a bold face and went straight to her drum to play for us. I … We should have seen how like it was to her unmothering. And that happened to her twice!”

I gave the now crying Esper a light push-pat. “We have heard enough. Now we know and they know. Most important, you know. Go to her. Breeze needs you.”

Luna nodded silent agreement. Esper, still crying silently, reached out to touch Breeze.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper pulled Breeze into a hug. Her magic reacted, and enveloped both of them in a soft cocoon of magic.

“I was shocked, Love. But you could never lose me. Was I hurt? Yes. I put on a brave face because that is how I have coped all these years. I am not…” She takes a deep breath “…empty-hearted. I was merely acting how I have learned to.”

She then realized something. “Breeze… I flew.” She giggles. “I flew here by myself.”

Ask-De-Writer:

I just had to interrupt for that one. “About that flying, yes and no.” I paused to give my right ear a good right hind hoof scratching. “There is a reason that you landed here.

“My dear daughter Black Lotus is one powerhouse unicorn. Good thing too. You were going WAY too fast to have safely landed in that tree. Good aim though. You were dead center on it.

“As Breeze’s landing showed, it pays to pay attention while flying.

“Black Lotus saw you and reeled you in. Didn’t realize what was going on in time to keep Breeze safe too.”

Black Lotus said, “You do have that basic wing stroke going really well for this soon after starting your training. You will need to work on steering and other controls. Actually you are well ahead of most fliers at your stage of training.”

I made some shooing gestures. “Now get back to your act, so we can get to ours. We all have bits to earn.

“And do not forget to talk things out more carefully. Unmothering is pretty much of a difficult but often necessary thing to work with.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Esper and Breeze walked out of Marchhare’s tent.

“Shall we walk? Or are you well enough to fly us back?” Esper gave Breeze her sweetest smile.

The Whisper Sisters:

Breeze curled a wing around to lightly boop Esper’s nose.

“I do feel well enough to fly. We are walking. I want to touch you. I want a wing over you. I want to be sure that you are really there.

“We meant to start a discussion with that request.”

Breeze stopped to buy a cone of fried clover tops and offered some to Esper.

“We never expected you to just leave us without a word. I was terrified. What if Black Lotus did not see you in time? You might have been seriously hurt.

“She is one of our watchers when we dance, whenever we can get her.”

Breeze lifted her eyes to Esper’s. She had unshed tears at the corners. “We were lucky when our parents were killed. We had the Rom all around us to help us. Rose did not let us be wholly unmothered.

“We did not think of how horrible it must have been for you to lose your mothering twice. Poor Angel. She is wholly unmothered too.” Breeze pulled Esper in close with a wing hug and shared more cover tops.

They arrived at the Sky Dancers’ roped off stage area. Breeze kissed Esper. “Try getting hugs, kissing and sharing snacks while you are flying. That is what walking is for!”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper moaned into the kiss. “Yes. And I love your kisses,” she giggled.

“But Angel… doesn’t have to be unmothered… we could her mothers. That is… if she will have us,” she sighed happily.

“And from now on… I will be your watcher.” Esper smiled, “I will catch any and all of you should you fall. You need not worry.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Mildly surprised, Breeze pulled away far enough to give Esper a wide eyed, stare as she replied, “It never occurred to me to fear if you were near, love. All that I have feared was your not being there.”

She paused thoughtfully, cocked her head as she thought about something. “Angel has been unmothered for three years. She was only about two when she lost her folks. We will do the very best that we can for her. Much will depend on her.”

She gently pushed Esper back to her drumming place with a warning glance for the other three. Gust, looking contrite, nodded silently.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper re-doned her gloves, and flexed her shoulders.

She smiled at the gathering crowd. “Attention mares and gentlecolts.” She said in a loud voice. “I will be taking requests from the audiance.”

She looked around, “Name your favourite tune that The Chaser sisters have performed before, and I shall play it.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Out of the crowd, an evilly grinning orange unicorn called, “Play The Empty Heart! Seen how much you like that one! HAR!”

Breeze stepped over and wing hugged Esper. “Yes, love, do play The Empty Heart. Of course he can’t really appreciate what it means. To have an empty heart, you first have to have a heart. I pity him.”

Enraged, he reared, green magic beginning to gather about his horn. A few in the audience started to shy back from him as he bellowed, “You can’t go makin’ fun of me! Ain’t none of you gonna fly for that! You try it you fall!”

Esper did not even look up from adjusting a drumhead stay. The delicate looking purple web of magic between her horns sparked.

The horrified orange pony felt his feet all gathered and bound. As he fell over, a hard cap of opaque purple magic locked over his horn. Bound and helpless, dragged through the midway dirt by what seemed to be fragile threads of purple magic, he was deposited in the front row.

It was little Whisk who walked over to him. “It was your request. You get the best view. If you try to use your magic, overload will kill you. If you try making noise to disrupt the performance, I am sure that the Hackamore of Thorns spell can shut you up painfully. Please enjoy the show.”

Rom in the audience trilled. Listening ponies clapped their hooves.

Esper, satisfied with her adjustments, began to play the introduction to the song. The Chaser Sisters Sky Dance troupe took their starting places and the Dance began.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper smiled throughout the performance. The song was sad and a little mournful, but it was also beautiful. She liked the tune. It wasn’t her favourite, nor would she like to play it again, but as a musician, she could appreciate its meaning, just as Breeze had mentioned.

Once the song was over, Esper, along with her sisters, bowed. She then walked over to the orange unicorn, and looked down at him with stern eyes.

“You are a fool for trying to turn this performance into a Jesters act. I would call you an ass, but that would be an insult to donkeys.”

She snorted. “You threatened my wife and my family. For that, you now have to deal with my Mothers.”

She turned to Puff. “Puff? Be a Dear and fetch Celestia and Luna for me?” She turned back to the trapped pony. “I wish to press official charges.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Soon Puff came trotting back, Celestia and Luna in her wake.

The orange unicorn tried to kick but his legs remained firmly bound. He squalled, “You’re the Pastry Booth ponies! You ain’t no Princesses!”

Luna glared at him and lifted her wings. “I do keep the Dark Side Pastry Booth, yes. I am Princess Luna. My assistant is Princess Celestia. Pony? We are Alicorns! We are the rulers of Equestria.”

“We shall hear the case. Be quick because we have another horse watching our booth.”

Sullenly, the orange unicorn said, “They ask for a song from the audience. I suggest one and they make fun of me and assault me. They is still holding me, which they got no right to do. I am a pony and they is mere Rom.”

Eyebrows raised in incredulity, Celestia asked, “That’s it? What about the song? What song did you suggest?”

Sullenly, he replied, “It’s called The Empty Heart.”

Luna nodded and pointed out, “You saw the earlier upset between the Sky Dancers over that song, didn’t you? You meant to stir up trouble with your suggestion.”

“It was a joke! They got no sense of humor! Had no right to embarrass me!”

“But you had the right to disrupt their act and threaten their lives. To top it off, you have complained about their magical restraint when it would have been so easy to simply let you kill yourself by Magical Overload.”

Turning to Esper, Celestia said, “You simply must show me how that power bypass works, dear. It is the only reason that this idiot is alive. He has tried to power out of your horn cap three times.”

Luna stared down at the orange unicorn and shook her head. “Guilty of attempted disruption of the act through threat of murder. Do you agree, Sister?”

Celestia nodded too. “Agreed. Do not forget that he lied to us about the nature and extent of his crime too.”

Luna looked at Celestia and said, “I had thought to put that in case notes to be considered in case of early release.”

“Then we are agreed. The sentence is three years at hard labor on the Equestrian Road System for both construction and maintenance.”

Turning back to the Guard Sargent behind her, Luna said, “Did you get that all, Meg?”

Sargent Blackberry replied, “I did, Princess. Shall I take custody now?”

“Please, Meg.” Looking just back of Sargent Blackberry, Luna added, “No, Dark. Not this time.”

Making her daggers disappear, Dark smiled a little sadly but nodded agreement. “I really did not expect to get the chance. It never hurts to ask, though.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper released the restraints.

“How did I bypass his magic?” she smiled. “Once again… I am uncertain. I saw him attack, and my magic reacted.” She watched as the miscreant was lead away.

“Thank you, Mothers. Sorry to have bothered you.”

Esper bowed. “May I take a song request from thee? By way of paying for the inconvienence to you?” She blushes “Again?”

Ask-De-Writer:

With a big grin, Luna said, “Sure! Do you know The Weight of the Crown?”

Breeze promptly shot back, “10 and ¾ ounces!”

They all giggled a bit but then Gust said, “We do have a dance for it in our repertoire and Esper played it with the buskers the other night.”

Esper nodded. They all took their places and Esper began the tune.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper started playing “The Weight of the Crown?” it was one of the first songs she had ever played, and therefore, one of her favourites.

She sighed happily as the Sky Dancers took to the air, and began their routine. Esper was always amazed at the level of control and finesse that Breeze and her sisters displayed. One day, she hoped, that she herself, could have half that control.

Soon, the Song ended. Esper and the Sky Dancers bowed to the audience. "Time for a short break. We’ll be back in half an hour.”

She looked to Breeze and smiled. “We have a little filly to check on.”

Ask-De-Writer:

They found Angel sitting on the Caravan stairs. She was still looking up at the fading knot of purple magic that was left from the Dance. Her eyes were wide and her mouth dropped open with astonishment.

“Is that what you do? I was always afraid to look up before. It is amazing!”

Esper scooped up Angel and tickled her nose as she replied, “Yes, Angel, that is what we do. I can’t fly well yet and maybe never good enough to be part of the flying. I am the music and magic part of the act.” She gestured at the fading trails and added proudly, “Those are my work.”

They heard a well known gentle voice saying, “Constable, that paper is a forgery. Judge Stonhaul has been in jail since Wednesday last for criminal conspiracy to steal Royal Property.”

“You don’t get it. Uh, Princess. Ponies seen that filly after she clean up. They offering two thousand bit to adopt her!”

“I get this CONSTABLE, Angel’s adoption has already been approved by the Crowns of Equestria. This paper does not even give her a name or description. It could be used for any filly.

“NO. That is a ROYAL ORDER!”

A third voice entered the verbal fray. “Ma'am, is that Constable Rakein?”

“It is, Meg. Why?”

“We of the Guard and the Audit Corps have been trying to locate him. I have a warrant here for his arrest on charges of criminal diversion of Largess supplies for personal gain and …”

There was an abortive flare of green magic, swamped by Luna’s Midnight magic. Sargent Blackberry’s efficient voice reported, “Prisoner is secure, Princess!”

Luna walked around a nearby tent and smiled at them. “I have something for you! A fully filed Royal Adoption! Here are the papers!” She proffered them with her magic.

A bit sheepishly, she went on, “Dreams that loud are hard for me to ignore. You all three wanted it so badly that you and Breeze daydreamed it and Angel … she dreamed that she was safe and loved for the first time in three years. Celestia and I went ahead and made it official for you. You three are a family.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper gasped and began to cry happily.

“Family? We’re… family?” She looked down at Angel you… dreamed of being our daughter?“

Angel nodded at the ground. "You and Breeze were the firth ponith to be nice to me. You fed me, bathed me… gave me a warm bed to thleep in.” She looked up to Breeze and Esper. “I really want you two to be my Mama'th. Ith that okay?”

Esper scooped her up into a hug and nodded “Yes, Honey. It is.”

Angel hugged Esper back. She then hopped down, and jumped into Breeze’s arms. “Thank you tho much for loving me, Mama Breeze and Mama Ethper.”

She looks over at Luna. “Thank you for giving me a family again, Princeth Luna.”

Esper hugged Breeze and Angel “Words cannot describe how happy I am…”

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze cheerfully pointed out, “This is a short break, so don’t try! You won’t be done before the Milky Way turns!”

She put Angel down and said, “We have to get back to our stage. Come with us, dear. You can watch us and Mama Esper up close. We are right near to Princess Luna’s booth too! She will keep you so stuffed that you couldn’t fly if you wanted to!”

A look of total confusion spread over Angel’s face. “What do you mean, Mama Breeze? I can fly? I never did anything like that.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper looked at Angel. “Oh dear… I bet no one ever taught you to fly, did they?” She sighed. “It looks like you have another student, Love.”

She picked Angel up, and placed the filly on her back. The four of them, Luna, Breeze, Angel, and Esper headed back towards the Chaser sister’s stage.

“What do you think? Do her wings look strong enough for flight?”

Angel held onto to Esper’s neck as they walked. “I can fly. Imma big girl!”

Esper laughed. “Of course you are, Dear. But your wing muscles might be under-developed.”

She looked to Luna. “Mother? You seem to know all about horse biology. How are her wings?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Princess Luna giggled a bit and replied, “Her wings and the muscles are slightly atrophied from disuse. There is nothing wrong with them that a bit of exercise, particularly flapping properly won’t fix.

“Esper, I think that it would be good if you and she worked together on that.”

They all arrived at the Sky Dancing stage.

Everything was ready for the next dancing sets.

Angel sat in a corner of the sun shelter, where she would have a good view. Looking over at Breeze, she smiled and lifted her wings. She flapped them a few times.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper pulled on her gloves, and re-adjusted her drums.

Turning to Angel she said, “Just flutter, Dear. Keep those hooves planted on the ground.”

She cleared her throat and looked to the gathered crowd once again. “Taking song requests! Come, my dear horses and ponies. What music shall I pleasure your ears with?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Angel forgot to flap entirely as she got her first good view of the Sky Dance happening. Between the precision and grace of the dance and the effects of Esper’s magic, she was totally enthralled.

She summed it all up in only a few words. “I want to do that! Mama Breeze, Mama Esper, can I learn to do that?”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper finished the set, and looked at her daughter. “Do what, Hun? Fly? Or use magic?” She smiled. “Only unicorns and alicorns can us magic, Love.” She pointed in the direction of Luna and Celestia. “And, as for flying? Well… you have to be trained first.”

Angel pouted, and sat on her flank disappointedly. “But, but… I wanna learn how to fly now.”

She stompped her right forehoof in frustration. “Why do I havta wait to learn how to fly? Can’t you uthe your magic, Mama Ethper?”

Esper shook her head. “No. I can’t. That would be cheating, and no benefit would come of it.” She sighed. “Why not go and talk to Celestia and Luna? I have another set to play, and they can explain things a little better.”

Angel, with her head hanging low, and a perma frown on her face, grumbled as she walked over to Celestia’s and Luna’s pastry booth. She sighed, and bowed. “Greeting’s Princesses… Mama Ethper thent me to come talk to you…”

Ask-De-Writer:

Luna looked around in false startlement. “Are we back in Court? I failed to notice! Angel dear, you only bow to us for something formal and fancy. Now, about fluttering and practice flapping … I can almost hear you saying that you want to fly NOW!

“Celestia and I are thousands of years old. So far as we know, only four beings in all of Equestria are older than we, and only one by much more than us. Our mother-creator, the Titan of Life Creation is older than us by far. The Dragon Discord is older than we but not so old as Mother. Our dear friend Lady Heather Bloom, Duchess of Red Hoof is about twenty years or so older. Our foster father, De Writer, is perhaps forty or fifty years older than we.

“Why tell you this? When we were given into our father’s care, we were fillies. We did not know how to fly yet. WE HAD TO FLUTTER and FLAP to learn how it was done!

“There is no magical road to flying. I very much wish that there was. In your case, dear Angel, it will take longer. Just as it will Esper. In her case, the wings themselves are of her magic. That is not an advantage. Quite the reverse.

“She did fly today. I am sure that you heard. Only Black Lotus seeing it happen saved Esper from serious injury or perhaps death. She nearly hit a tree wile going very fast. She needs to learn the same things about control at all speeds that you will.

“Poor Angel, I can see the disappointment. Here, have a chocolate dipped nut twist.”

Luna smiled and hugged Angel close. “You feel disappointed? Think of us, Celestia and me. Here, with these horses, we are free. When we go back to our ponies, we will be Royalty again and that is no freedom at all.

“The first thing that we will have to do is hold trials. Draytown’s many crimes need to be addressed and punishments meted out. When we get back to Canterlot, more trials await us. Not easy ones either.

“Why tell you this? Flying well is not the only hard thing that there is. Learn well, dear. That is the best way to honor your teachers.

“Do you understand what I mean?”

Around a mouthful of chocolate dipped nut twist, Angel nodded slowly, thoughtfully. She nuzzled Luna and said, “Thanks, Gramma Luna. Mommy Ethper calls you Mommy, so are you my gramma?”

Luna’s wing hugged Angel tightly for a moment. “It is an honor to be your Gramma, Angel. Now their dance is done. I think that you should go back with your mothers now.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Angel, with her treat in her mouth, skipped back over to Esper and Breeze, who were both talking quietly. Angel, being curious, swallowed her bar, and asked quite innocently. “What are you talking about?”

Esper looked around and smiled at her daughter. “We were discussing when your birthday might be. Have you any idea, Hun?”

Angel screwed up her face in thought, “N-no. I don’t. All I remember was that is was during the Falling of the Leafs.” She smiles. “That’s all.”

Esper turned back to Breeze. “Falling of the leafs? Does she mean Autumn? Or is this some special festival I don’t know about?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze frowned in thought but not for long. “She means Autumn. If there was a festival, market or fair named for that, we would know it. That narrows it to only a month or two.

“What do you say, Angel? Should we just pick a date for your birthday party and call it that from then on?”

A small hoof stamped, raising a puff of dust around it. “NO! My day ith TODAY! Princess Luna made uth a family today! I don’t care when I wath born. Thith ith betht day ever!”

Breeze looked Esper in the eye and said, “I can accept that! Makes sense to me, Love.”

Esper, full of feelings, nodded and gathered them both into a hug.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper smiled and nodded. “Today is your day. And… as it is your day, let us go to the shops, and Mama Breeze and I will buy you three special gifts. Anything you want. One for each birthday you missed.”

Angel’s eyes lit up “Three gifts?! Wow. Really!?” She begins hopping up and down, and flapping her wings excitedly. “Can we go now?”

Esper looked at Breeze, and smiled sweetly. “I don’t see why not. Breeze?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze sobered instantly. “The shops? Here at the fair, fine. If you mean in the town, it won’t matter that the Princesses are here. We will be ignored at best. At worst? Beaten, robbed or killed.

“We are Rom. The laws against us going into towns may be gone but the townies who made the laws are still there.”

Angel said softly, “I don’t like Draytown. Nopony was ever good to me there after mommy and daddy went away and never came back.

“I know what I want. I want to be Rom. I want my own harness, freedom and sashes. I want to be with you, always, and you are Rom.”

She cried as she finished, “You want me. Nobody wanted me before.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper hugged Angel to calm her down.

“I meant the booths amongst the Rom. Surely there must be something suitable for a young filly’s birthday, right?”

She sighed and shook her head. She hated her lack of knowledge of this world.

Angel sniffled “Ith there, Mama Breeze?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Now that Breeze was sure where they were shopping, she was all smiles again. “Of course! There are many wonderful things that you could have!

“Never mind about the harness, freedom and sashes. We are going to get you those anyway. You need them because you are Rom.

“Think of the things that you want most of all.”

Angel’s wings flapped in excitement again!

The Whisper Sisters:

Angel was all smiles! “Oh, um… I wanna teddy to cuddle with, um… a mane brush… and, um… a thcooter! Yeah! A thcooter I can ride around on!” She looked at Esper and breeze with big puppy-dog eyes. “Pllleeaaathe?”

Esper’s heart simply melted at the look Angel was giving them. “Oh my… that look could end wars.” She sighed happily. “A brush and a teddy will be no problem. As for a scooter? Well… we’ll have to see if any of the vendors sell such an item.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze gave a big smile. “The scooter will be a custom item but we have horses who do make them. The townies don’t like us to sell them because they make some really shoddy ones. Once ponies see a good one, they won’t buy the cheapies. They may not like us but they aren’t dumb.

“That is why Dark is doing so well, selling good kitchen knives and utility knives. I was there when both of Draytown’s smiths came down to the fair to demand that she stop selling them because it will hurt their business.

“Dark just smiled with those sharp little fangs of hers and suggested that maybe, just maybe, they should try making a quality product of any sort and selling it at a reasonable price!”

They all giggled at that. Breeze sobered up some and said, “That is one reason that the townie businesses don’t like us. We are really strict about quality in the things that we sell. They go for good enough and we do our best.

“Besides dances, music and our other unique things, it is that quality in our goods that draws ponies from far and near to the fair.”

She paused and scrubbled Angel on the head. “Sorry for the lecture little love. My real point is that we CAN get you the scooter but we will have to pick it up at another fair because our craftshorse has to make it for you. The other things are easy and we can pick them up today, OK?”

The Whisper Sisters:

Angel gasped in anticipation. “Can we go now? Please? Can we go quickly?!” She started flapping her wings, and running around her mothers in a circle.

Esper picked the filly up by her tail with her magic. “Calm down, Angel.” She smiled at the upside-down filly. “Yes. We can go now.”

She quirked an eyebrow. “Now. Would you prefer to walk or ride on either Mama Breeze’s back or mine?”

Angel thought for a second. “I wanna ride on Mama Breeze'th back.”

Esper nodded and placed the filly upon her wife’s back. “Well… shall we go, my Dear Family?”

Ask-De-Writer:

The three set out down the midway. This was Breeze’s home territory and she knew exactly where to find everything that any Rom could want.

Since Rom did not go into towns, the wise merchants brought their goods to the fair for the Rom to buy. Things like food supplies, iron, brass, bronze, forge charcoal, cooking charcoal, some rough or even cut gemstones for the jewelers among the Rom.

It was a hidden market and surprisingly large.

The ponies might not like the Rom for their strange ways but the merchants among them loved the Rom’s bits. They also knew that it was no use to offer any shoddy thing.

Breeze looked over all manner of things that their caravan still needed to be fully equipped. Angel was fairly bouncing on her back with impatience.

Breeze turned her head and gave her new daughter an amused stare. “You win, Angel. I really am looking for your mane brush. This outfitter usually has some made for Dray ponies on the road. Those are the best brushes that you can get.”

She turned and spoke to the pony behind the counting board, “Where is Carter? I wanted to ask him about some brushes but …”

“They is right there!” He pointed rudely.

Breeze nodded, “I saw them. They are why I wanted to talk to Carter. These are not suitable at all. The bristles are far too soft for good mane brushes.”

“Well, Carter is out right now. I am running the store. You buy those brushes or nothing!”

Breeze calmly piled all of her selections on the counting board. She turned her back and started to walk out.

Frantically he called, “What do you mean, leaving all this?”

Breeze looked back disdainfully, as she replied, “Buy those brushes or nothing, you said. The Sky Dancers are buying nothing, as you demanded. We were going to give Carter our whole restock order but not if there are corners cut in it. We will go to another Outfitter.”

She simply walked on out.

Breeze led the way to a Rom booth. She picked carefully from neatly hard boxed whole grooming kits. After paying, she smiled as she ceremoniously handed the kit to Angel.

“Here you are, dear. Besides a mane and tail brush, you have a curry comb, a detangler, a burr remover, a hoof file with polisher, and this cleans the frogs of your hooves.”

Angel had tears in her eyes. “All for me? All mine?”

Breeze smiled and said, “All yours. You are a big girl now and deserve nice things. Now, we need to get you that stuffed teddy and find Kan-na-Chara, the wheelwight. He can make you that scooter.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Angel was beside herself with joy. “Mama Breeze… thith ith too much. And ith tho beautiful.”

Ask-De-Writer:

“Thank you, Dear. It is not too much. It is time that you had good things. Now let’s find you that teddy. Is there any particular kind of teddy that you want? A type of animal or horse or pony?”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper giggled. “We have a lot of birthdays to catch up on. And Hearth’s Warming Eve too.” At Breeze’s surprised look, Esper giggled. “Wind told me about it.”

Angel gripped her box excitedly. “What kinda thuffed animal can I get? Can I get a bunny?”

“My sister has a bunny. She calls it Mr. Fluffington. She sleeps with it, too.” Esper giggled. “It’s cute.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Her little wings flapping in excitement, Angel exclaimed, “A bunny! I want a bunny!”

Breeze with both giggle and smile put a hoof on Angel’s head. “Easy there, Sweetheart. You are not ready to take off yet! We will go over to Pookah Phon and get you that bunny! She-Kala makes the finest stuffed toys anywhere.

“Don’t tell anyone this, but Princess Luna buys Pookah Phon toys for her sleeping stall!”

They made a troop up the Midway to the gaily decorated stall with a banner that read, POOKAH PHON! Stuffed toys of the highest quality! If we do not have it, we will make it!

The booth held an enormous array of stuffed toys. Esper pointed silently, while suppressing a guffaw! Princess Celestia was sneaking out the back with a bulging bag!

She-Kala saw them entering and rushed forward. She hugged all three of them! “I saw your Mating! I just heard about your adopting this adorable little filly! What a wonderful start you are making!

“The shop is open to you. Don’t even try to pay! It is your family gift from me and Kan-na-Chara. He is out right now. A local farmer that is wiser than most brought in a two wheeler for a complete wheel and axle rebuild. Said that he wants a cart that will last.”

Breeze disentangled herself from the hug and said, “We thank you for the toy.

“Angel, go and look for whatever you want. Remember, you have a home now, so it does not have to be something small. Get the one that you love most.”

Turning back to She-Kala Breeze told her, “We have business with your mate too. This one,” she pointed to the excited Angel bouncing about the shop from stuffed bunny to stuffed bunny, “wants a scooter made. We thought that one with wider and taller wheels than a townie’s scooter would be best. It will work better on fairgrounds and in wayside camps.”

She-Kala nodded. “We have made those before. I will tell Kan-na-Chara and he will get right to it. I am afraid that we will have to charge you for that.”

Breeze nodded, “Perfectly reasonable.”

While Esper helped Angel with her new stuffed bunny, which was half as tall as Angel herself, Breeze settled up with She-Kala for the scooter.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper placed Angel’s box into her saddle bags while the small pony sat on her back, tightly gripping her new bunny.

“My Goodness, Angel. That bunny is bigger than you are!” she giggled.

Angel giggled too, “I know. It'th tho pretty. I love it. What thould I call her, Mama Ethper?”

“Her, hm?” Esper thought. “I honestly don’t know. I’ve never had a pet or a stuffed animal before. Let’s ask your Mama Breeze. She might have a good name.”

Esper looked over at her mate. “Breeze? Any ideas?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze thought for a moment. She turned her head to face their new daughter, Angel, and, with a smile, asked, “What sort of name would you you like, Dear? We can go with one from the natural world around us, a color, a name like the ponies use, or a name from Rom traditions. There are lots of choices.

“What sort of name would you like to have for her?

”Once we know what kind of name, we can start figuring out what her name should be!”

 

The Whisper Sisters:

Angel thought.

“What about Mth. Fluffington? Thhe could be Mr. Fluffington'th girlfriend,” she giggled. “Yeah! I like that a lot.”

Esper nodded, “Sounds good to me.”

She looked up at the sun. “Oh. It’s midday. Time for some lunch I think. Shall we head back?”

Angel’s stomach growled.

“Yeth pleathe!”

Ask-De-Writer:

Returning through the bustling crowd, the happy three heard voices from Black Lotus’ pavilion, “Gone to the Lake? Are you sure?”

The voice that answered was a familiar and cultured one. De Writer replied, “I am risking a great deal to be here at this fair where my dear daughters are. Actually, I am not certain. What I do know is that Aurixa stayed behind when a mountain fell. She saved her mother, Wind.

“Even with Aurixa trying to hold the mountain from falling in, Wind lost her metal arm. Wind’s arm can be replaced. I do not know anything beyond what I have told you.

“The Mother of Her Egg was Nox. What I do know is that dragons of Nox’s line are very tough. Tough enough to withstand a mountain falling in? That, I do not know.”

Black Lotus’ voice carried a freight of grief. “Father was very attached to the whole Whisper family. I will tell him for you. Esper will have to know too.

“Thank you, De Writer, for taking so great a risk with the Edict of Banishment to tell us the news.”

There was a rustling of canvass at the back of the pavilion. When Esper, Breeze and Angel entered, Black Lotus was sitting alone, holding a note,written in a somewhat scrawled hand, and weeping.

Wordlessly, she handed the note to Esper, who recognized her sister Wind’s writing at once.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper held the note with her magic. “Aurixa… is… gone?”

Her eyes teared up. “No. That’s impossible. She can’t be gone! She’s a dragon for Spirits sake!” She balled up the note and threw it at the back of the pavilion.

“How could a dragon perish from a little mountain? Nonsense, I say.” She looked around, daring anyone to contradict her. “R-right?” She pleaded to the curious crowd drawn by the commotion. “I mean… a d-dragon can’t die… n-not Aurixa…”

Angel was confused. “Mama? What'th going on? Who'th Aurixa? Wath thhe a friend?”

Esper turned to her daughter. “No, Baby. She was… she was my niece. I… I just don’t understand… I’m so confused right now… where’s Celestia? I need to speak to her.”

Ask-De-Writer:

The soft voice of Esper’s Godmother/Mentor cut through the crowd. “I am here, Esper, dear. I saw the crowd and somebody mentioned that somepony must have killed a dragon. That made no sense at all, not to me.

“Our puny dragons? Yes. Somepony might well kill one of them. But with this booth? Not likely. The only dragon associated with you is your niece Aurixa.

“Is this about her?”

Celestia’s many hued magic gently enfolded Esper and cradled her.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper nodded and whimpered against her mentor.

“I don’t… I don’t understand. How could Aurixa be killed?”

She looked up at her mother with tear filled eyes. “She was so strong and powerful. She was a gold dragon. The strongest of all the dragon species.”

She shook her head. “Mother… have you ever heard of a dragon being killed by a mountain? Or willingly being killed by a mountain? Wind said… she didn’t even try to escape.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Celestia paused as she searched a memory that was millennia long. Finally she offered, “You know, you have a direct connection to Aurixa. Your carnelian ring. She has one too. If she is dead, you would know it through the ring. If she was alive but beset by danger, you would know that too.

“If the ring is quiescent, then she is not in danger and not dead. Why she does not respond is a different question. Use your ring. See what it tells you.”

Seeing Esper’s questioning look, Celesta responded before Esper could even ask. With a mildly amused look, she said, “I did tell you that we had very thorough reports on you, Esper.”

Nodding her understanding, Esper began to concentrate on her carnelian ring.

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper looked at her hooves. “Wait… my ring. Where is my ring?” She looked around. “I don’t have it. Did I drop it somewhere?”

She looked at Celestia. “Do you know a spell for locating lost objects, Mother?”

Angel came trotting up. “What'th wrong? Did you lothe thumthing, Mama?”

Esper looks down. “Yes. A special orange ring. Have you seen it?”

Angel nods. “Uh-huh.” She lifts her wing, exposing the lost ring. “I found it on the floor of our caravan.”

Esper sighed in relief. Using her magic, she put it on her right horn. She then thought of Aurixa.

Esper looked up in puzzlement. “Nothing… I can feel her… but she’s… distant. As though… her soul itself is asleep.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Celestia nodded as if the report made perfect sense. “There, you see, Esper? You know that Aurixa is safe. She is in some sort of sleep. Mama Dragon may know better details of the state. Perhaps you can ask Marchhare to relay a note through De Writer to both Wind and Mama Dragon. It may help them a good deal.”

Breeze smiled, “It appears that I have married into a far more interesting family than I thought. Your niece is a Dragon? Your Mother is a Dragon too? You were adopted, perhaps?”

Angel was looking at Mama Esper with utter adoration. You could see the idea that her Mama was related to Dragons was penetrating.

Black Lotus heaved a sigh of relief. “Aurixa lives? By your Sprits, that is wonderful news. I was not looking forward to trying to tell father Marchhare that his friend De Writer’s granddaughter, Aurixa was dead.”

Just then, I bustled in, through the back of the tent. “Black Lotus, dear, you will not believe the mess over in the Outfitters and other pony merchants. Carter’s booth has nothing worth buying this year! He has always been reliable before this …

“What is wrong? Why all the long faces?”

Black Lotus replied, “Father, we thought that your friend De Write’s granddaughter, Aurixa had died. Wind sent us a note saying that Aurixa was crushed under a mountain that caved in. She was supporting the cave to let Wind escape. Even so, the falling stone claimed Wind’s metal arm, again.

“Esper has just found that Aurixa is in some sort of deep sleep, not dead after all. We are still trying to sort the news out.”

I pursed my lips as I thought it through. Nodding I replied, “I will leave De Writer a note telling him that his Granddaughter is safe, after all. He will want to tell Mama Dragon and Wind the news. It would appear that Wind trusted her eyes in this and did not use her ring to see that her daughter was safe. Considering the situation ,I can’t totally blame her!”

I turned to Celestia and requested, “De Writer has already risked the Edict of Banishment once, to bring this news. My Dear friend,Celestia, would you be so kind as to return to your booth and stay there for a bit? I will let you know when it is safe again!

“Take Esper, Breeze and Angel. The treats are on me!”

I did a double take! “That is one big stuffed bunny! Were you at Pookah Phon?”

Angel nodded happily and clutched Miss. Fluffington closely.

The whole troop went across the midway, happier than they had been.

Black Lotus smiled at me. She said, “Father, I wish that there was some way to let Celestia and Luna know the truth.”

As my blue magic quickly penned the needful note, I replied absently, you are not wishing it any more than I, dear. There are, unfortunately, no loopholes in the Edict. Poetic language or not, it is literal and will last for all of time to come. The disguise must remain.” I took the note and vanished by a portal to Wind’s world.

I knocked politely at the front door of Mama Dragon’s cottage. I left the note pinned to the wood and returned the same way that I came.

As Marchhare, I trotted across the midway and told Celestia and Luna, “The matter has been attended to. Thank you. I will take a chocolate and nut dipped twist! What do I owe you for the rest of this hungry herd?”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper paused in eating. “Father… what hand did Wind wear her ring on? If it was her metal hand, and it was lost, maybe that’s why she couldn’t use it.”

Angel was beside herself. “Mama Esper… you have a Mama Dragon and a niece Dragon?” She was in awe, “How?”

Esper smiled. “It is easier to show all of you…” With her magic, she projected her memories that Wind had shared,as though they were a movie. She showed Mama Dragon finding and raising her…

She then showed Wind finding and raising Aurixa. “There. You see? Mama isn’t a traditional dragon, while Aurixa is.”

Angel was still in awe. “Aurixa was so pretty!”

Ask-De-Writer:

While I watched Esper’s little magic show I mulled that question of Wind’s ring over. The show done, I replied, “Angel, Aurixa still is pretty. Your mama Esper found out that she is OK, whatever happened.”

Shifting my attention and taking time to swallow another bite, I told Esper, “I do believe that you are right. The ring could have been on Wind’s metal arm. If so, a few tonnes of solid rock might make it a tad difficult to use at that!

“It couldn’t HARM the ring. It is far tougher than that! Still, it could be hard to get to!”

Luna giggled a little. “If you were there, Esper, that mere few tonnes of rock would be no problem at all!”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper looked at Luna. “Do you really believe that I could lift several tonnes of rock?”

She sat down and huffed. “Not knowing my limits is very frustrating.” She looked at Marchhare. “Is there a test I could take?”

She looked pleadingly at Luna as well. “There must be something I can do…”

Ask-De-Writer:

Both Princesses looked at her compassionately. Luna answered her, “The rock would be the easy part. There is something else, and it will be a difficult task indeed. Do nothing. There is more afoot than you know.”

Luna turned to me and a said, “A certain snoopy old donkey that we all know, the one who is friends with an even snoopier old blue unicorn, has more to tell than he is letting on.

I gave them my best “Who me? I am totally unaware of what you mean!” look. It failed miserably.

“OK, I will tell. I have it from De Writer that Wind has requested freedom from being Fate’s Champion. Aurixa, the loss of her arm and more are tied up in that.

“Besides, Penny, Wind’s mate is working in her forge on some things for Wind. Until she gives them to Wind, we really dare not interfere.

“You swear by your Spirits fairly often. This is a design of FATE. We need to stay out of it until invited to carry out parts.”

I spared Esper a solemn look. “It is no easier for me and De Writer than it is for you. Soon, I am fairly sure, we WILL have parts to play.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper shook her head. “I’m sorry. That was poorly worded.”

She thought for a second. “What I meant was… is there some test, some… trial I can take to gauge my magical limits? I know I almost died from that magic overload, and yet, I conjured a corporeal dragon with ease.”

She shrugged. “I’m so frustrated with my magic… not knowing what spell I will come up with next, or, if my next spell might kill me.”

Angel gasped. “Mama… your magic can hurt you?”

Esper winced. She had momentarily forgotten that Angel was there with them. “Only if I’m not careful, Baby.” She hugged her filly. “Don’t you worry.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Breeze calmly petted Angel and said, “Most anything can hurt you if it is not done or used right, Angel, dear. You need water but you can drown in it, too. A wagon can be used to move heavy loads. It can get away on a down grade and hurt the pony pulling it. That is why Rom caravans have brakes that lock on down grades to keep something that heavy but that important from hurting us. Lots of things are like that.

“Mama Esper has unusual magic and it needs to be used and studied with care. It is good, properly used. She worries that something bad could happen, and she is right. It won’t though, because she has the best teacher of magic in the world, right there!”

Breeze pointed at Princess Celestia.

Princess Celestia nodded agreeably. “Very true, Breeze. Very true. We will explore the roots of Esper’s magic first. In fact, though it does not show, I have been doing exactly that. I do not have the kind of test that Esper wants yet. I hope to have something sorted out in a few months. There really is no hurry.”

 

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper scratched her ear like a dog. “I don’t have to worry?” She sighed in relief. “That’s a load off my mind. Thank you.”

Angel looked around and blurted out, “It’s my cake day!”

Esper giggled. “Yes. I was going to get to that next, Baby.”

She smiled, “Everyone… today is the day that Breeze and I decided would be Angel’s birthday.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Celestia smiled as she replied, “There is no hurry NOW. You may thank Luna’s excellent surgery for that! Do try to avoid much that is new to you until we get things sorted out better.

“Now, about that cake! Luna already made it up! It is in the back!”

Luna chimed in, “You guys told Dark and Dark told me! I made it up and it is not chocolate! I have watched what a certain little filly gobbled up from the stand, here. It is Butterscotch topped!”

Luna’s eyes twinkled as she added, “And it has nuts in the layer filling!”

She proudly swept back the curtain at the rear of the booth. The cake was on a nice display platter. There were a stack of serving plates out and a big punch bowl full of apple juice.

“Party time!” she exclaimed!

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper conjured up purple party hats for all present. “Now it’s a party!” She giggled.

She also placed 5 candles on the cake. “Now Angel, make a wish, and blow them out.”

Angel looked confused. “A wish? What’s a wish?”

Esper smiled. “A wish? Well… it’s asking for something that you always wanted,” she explained. “Is there anything that you always wanted and never had?”

Angel thought, and then nodded. “Well… yeah. A family. But I already have that.” She thought more.

“OH!” She exclaimed. “I always wished I could go flying!” She blew out the candles. “There. I made my wish.”

Ask-De-Writer:

We all sort of giggled at that. It was a good wish for a young pegasus who had never flown in her life. We were already working on making it come true, and she knew it.

Luna divided the cake very unequally. Angel got the big piece.

We all sang a birthday song for her.

Altogether, it was a most satisfactory little party.

The look on Angel’s face told a different story. This party was not merely satisfactory, it was utterly astonishing and wonderful. I saw that Celestia and Luna noticed it too.

The Whisper Sisters:

Angel giggle/squeed happily. “This is the best birthday ever!” She hugged Luna. “Thank you so much, Nana Luna.”

Esper blinked “Nana?”

Angel nods. “Uh-huh! Luna is your Mother, so that makes her and Nana Celestia my Nana’s!” She looked at Marchhare. “And your my Papa!” She glomped him.

Esper nods. “Hard to argue with that logic.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Gently untangling myself from my grandfilly, I replied/retorted, “Who in their right mind would want to argue with that excellent reasoning? I have a very clever grandfilly.”

Luna gazed proudly at the few crumbs and empty punchbowl! Nodding happily, a tear at the corner of her eye, she said, “I think that I have just gotten the greatest honor of my life! In the six hundred years that I have been Rom whenever I could get free of being a Princess, no horse or pony other than old Marchhare has thought to include me in their family. Thank you, dear Angel.”

Celestia had a bit of a tear too, as she agreed, “Maybe this visit is not so ruined as I feared. We had bad things happen, it is true. We also had Luna’s dancing in public for the first time, the Marriage of you, Esper, and Breeze. We have done the Adoption of Angel, seen the Sky Dancers, the T'ang Magicians, this party, and been brought into a wonderful family.”

While she was speaking, she was busy doing something that she was simply not allowed to do while ruling in the High Castle of Canterlot. She was picking up from the party and washing dishes. I was not even surprised to see Meg, that is, Sargent Blackberry, helping her to dry and store them.

The Whisper Sisters:

Angel gasped and rushed to Celestia’s side. “I wanna help!”

Esper chuckled. “Oh? I don’t know… you seem kinda short to wash dishes.”

Angel turned her head around. “Nu-uh! Imma big pony!” She looked at Celestia. “Please, Nana? I’ve never done dishes before. I wanna learn.”

Ask-De-Writer:

Celestia grinned hugely and said, “Well played, little one!

“We will start you off with the rising. You will take the soapy dish from me, and swish it in this water tub. Then you hand the dish to Meg. She will dry it and put it away!”

Meg ducked out front and came back with one of the customer sitting benches. She put it in front of the rinse tub and gave Angel a leg up.

Meg spared a glance for Esper and said, “If it is possible, always let the small ones help. It builds their confidence and sometimes it makes the work go faster.” She shrugged, and added, “It worked for my foals. Good sorts both of them. Gaston will make a fine Duke of Camarg one of these days.”

The Major had just stuck his head into the back of the tent to demand, “Blackberry! Quit this stupid favor currying and … Duke? Your colt? How? You are only a Sargent!”

Celestia gently told him, “Meg did not want to use her position to gain unearned rank. She is one of only two among those holding Ducal rank that I trust completely. I was delighted to grant her a position in my Guard.”

Almost slinking, the Major withdrew.

Angel, with a big smirk, handed the next plate to Meg with a fake bow.

Meg nearly dropped the plate, she was giggling so hard.

The Whisper Sisters:

Angel looked at Celestia. “Can I be a guard someday, Nana Celestia? I mean… Mama Esper said that Rom can’t go within the shadow of Canterlot, but I can still be a knight, right?”

Esper looked at Angel with awe. “You… want to be a knight, Angel?” she shrugged and looked at Breeze. “She’s ambitious, I’ll give her that much.”

Angel frowned. “Ambitious? What does that mean?” She looked to Marchhare for an explanation. “Papa? Is that a disease?”

Ask-De-Writer:

I had to grin at that one. “Depends on who you ask. What are they ambitious about? How they use the ambition or let it use them.”

I took a moment to point a hoof at Meg. “There, Angel, is every good thing that ambition can be. She wants to be the best Guard that it is possible to be. That is her ambition. Rank is no issue. Not to her.

“For some, ambition means that they will do all sorts of things to get ahead. They will undercut those ahead of them rather than try to be better to get ahead. That is the bad side of ambition.

“Either way can drive a horse to do a lot. One way helps every horse and the other only helps those who might be useful.

“Be like Meg and ambition will be good. Be like the Major, and it is not so good.”

Breeze looked at me quizzically as she asked, “The Major?”

“Right. He knew that Meg was off duty and has a right to join in to fair activities or pretty much anything else that she wants. He has seen her adopting Rom garb and harness. That was no problem to him. Then she joined into our party for Angel and stayed to help clean up.

“Suddenly, he realized that she was getting close time with Equestria’s Royalty. Even though Meg was on her own time, he tried to break it up. To undercut her. He did not know, because Meg did not put it in her Guard Records, that she is the Duchess of Camarg!

“I will bet that he is trying to figure out how to use her to rise further in the Guard right now.

“Does that answer your question, Angel?”

The Whisper Sisters:

Angel nodded “Uh-huh. Does that mean I can be a knight?”

Esper looked at Celestia. “I really don’t know if she could be. If she’s not allowed in Canterlot… how could she train?” She looked at Meg. “Any thoughts, Meg?”

Angel looked at Meg. “Pwwwwwease Auntie Meg?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Meg put away the dish that she was drying and turned to Angel. She gave the filly an appraising stare. “You remind me of myself, a few years back, Angel.

“The basic answer is that yes, given another year or two, you could join the Royal Guardian Service. They are open to ANY citizen of Equestria that can meet the standards. That training can lead to either knighthood or the Royal Guards. If you stay true to your Rom family, you could go to knighthood but not the Royal Guards.

“The Royal Guards have to serve in Canterlot. It is required.

“To get into the training, as a pegasus, you HAVE to be able to fly both fast and very accurately. You will have to learn the formal Canterlot Accent, both to speak and hear.

“On the practical side, you are likely to get picked on for being a Rom. There are no Rom in the Guards at this time.

I have the sashes and the harness. I try to learn and understand the customs and traditions of the Rom. If you notice, my harness is incomplete. I have no Freedom. Someday, I hope to earn my Freedom and you may be sure that I will wear it proudly. Unless you are in the service by that day, I will be the only Rom in the Royal Guard Service. I will have to become a knight in order to be able to keep the Canterlot tradition.

“To do that, I will have to formally become Rom. Unless the Manual lies, Celestia and Luna needed twenty years to get theirs.

“They have been Rom ever since. They are now the oldest living Rom,” she said, giving me a stare as straight as an aerial war lance.

I scraped at the grass with a hoof and muttered sourly, “Still say that I should have noticed something like dying!”

The Whisper Sisters:

Angel turned to Esper and Breeze. “Can I become a knight in two years? Pwease, Mama’s?”

Esper looked at Breeze, nodded, and turned back to Angel. “If that is what your heart desires, then who are were to deny it?”

Angel turned back to Celestia. “Nana? I formaly request to join the Academy in two years.” She smiles brightly. “I might even get my cutiemark by joining too!”

Esper looked at her own flank. “Wait… horses and ponies earn their cutiemarks?”

Ask-De-Writer:

We all got a bit of a giggle out of that. I mean, cutiemarks are so natural a part of life that you don’t think about them that much.

Celestia, smiling, replied, “Sometimes you do. Most often, a mark comes from becoming aware of what your life’s best skill and love of doing is. Mostly, they just happen and somepony or horse suddenly realizes that they have one!

“De Writer has one of the oldest marks ever. He got his without realizing it at all. He invented writing not that many years before Luna and I were created. He had a very successful little school going before Skyglow created us.”

She paused, looking surprised, and said, “That did not come out WRITE! It continued to be a successful school right up to the Hearthwarming Eve invasion. The attacking ponies burned the school. They did find written records and their scouts had reported on the writing and how useful it was.

“That saved the art until we all came back from the Sunrise Isles, where Luna and I got our training in how to manage the heavens.”

Luna stuck in a hoof. “All true and very interesting I am sure. The filly wants to join the Academy and train as a knight.”

She turned her gaze onto little Angel. That stare was a bridge built of dreams. “We can only promise you a favorable recommendation, Angel. Besides our will in this, YOU have to be fit both physically and mentally. There are tests that you must pass to enter the Academy. They are not easy because we want only the best as knights and Guards. Even with the best of tests, look how badly things can go.

“We will give you that letter when the time comes to apply. It will guarantee that you are accepted for the testing. After that, it is out of our hooves. Train well, Angel. Learn to fly from your family, the Chasers. There are NO better fliers in Equestria.

“That is the best that we can do, Dear. We can give you an honest chance. The rest is up to you.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Angel nodded happily. “I will, Nanas. I’ll train everyday. Just you wait. I’ll be the bestest knight ever!” She puffed out her chest heroically.

Esper laughed, and shook her head. “Oh my. Your determination is admirable, Angel. Very admirable indeed.” She walked up to Angel, and hugged her. “If my sister taught me anything, it’s how to stay in excellent shape. When I’m not drumming for the Sky dancers, I shall help you with your exercises.”

She turned to Marchhare. “And I’m certain that Papa will be more than happen to teach you how to read and the ways of the world.”

Angel’s eyes brightened. “Will you Papa? I’ve always wanted to learn how to read.”

Ask-De-Writer:

I nodded happily. “That was going to happen anyway. Every Rom filly and colt gets taught their letters and figures. We also teach them our history and the history of Equestria.

“I say we, because sometimes you will get taught by De Writer himself. He lived through that history and makes it fun to learn, even for me.”

Both of the Princesses looked forlorn. It was Luna who gave voice to their sadness. “That is the one aspect of Rom life that we wish most dearly to experience. We wish so deeply that we had checked the Scroll of Guidance before pronouncing the Edict of Banishment.

“We trusted the wrong ponies with it. They changed it, not understanding how Creator Magic works. Later they tried to say that it was merely to make Grander and More Poetic Language of it. We could undo it with a mere wave of the horn, they said.

“They were wrong. Our Creator Magic cannot be undone or set against itself. It requires great care and precision in its use. We lost our Foster Father that raised and guided us for over a thousand years to the stupidity of a few self serving Nobles.

“We miss him so. The Rom are as close as we can get to him.”

Celestia put in, “I remember how we first found the Rom and all of the injustices under which they lived. We also saw the simple joy of their lives. We would have become Rom even if De Writer were not connected to them. They are amazing horses.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper’s eyes began to glow purple.

“That isn’t fair.” Her voice was distorted, filled with magic. She sounded like the dragon she had summoned a few days ago. “No one should suffer as you had suffered.”

Angel hid behind Breeze’s legs. “What’s wrong with Mama Esper? She’s all scary.”

Esper’s magic cackled and sparked between her horns “I… Oh Spirits!” Her magic enveloped her.

Her eyes cleared momentarily as she looked frantically around, in a panic. “Celestia!” She reached out a hoof to her mentor. “I can’t control it! I’m-!” With a loud explosion, Esper turned into a bolt of purple light and was zapped away.

Ask-De-Writer:

Celestia called, “That was an Emergency Teleport! Sister, help me to find her, she cannot be too far!”

She galloped out to the midway, rearing and leaping, wings reaching skyward, Celestia lifted into the air with a thunder of powerful wing strokes! Luna hard on her sister’s heels was airborn only a second later! Midnight magic could be seen gathering at her horn as she swept about in a large circle.

Meg, off duty and without armor was airborne just below the Twins. She had produced a rack of deadly aerial darts and had them at the ready. Others of the Royal Guard finally caught on and began to go airborne too. They were still pulling their formation together when Luna let out the bellow of her famous Royal Canterlot Voice.

We heard her cry from above, “I have a line, Celestia! Which way?”

Celestia’s magic could now be seen against the brightness of the sky because it had become so intently focused. She swooped about Luna, many hued magic melding with midnight.

She was off like a crossbow bolt! Calling back, she proved that she could equal Luna’s voice as she bellowed urgently, “This way! She has gone to Rose’s Lake!”

Luna was gone after her sister, Meg working heroically but hopelessly to keep up. She concentrated on getting her best speed. She knew where she was going. The rest of the Guard, in their armor, were holding formation and doing their best.

Breeze, a shocked look on her face, asked, “What just happened? Where is Esper?”

I replied, seriously this time, “Not sure why, but Esper left here by an Emergency Teleportation. We heard the Princesses. She went to Rose’s Lake. That is quite a ways to go in one jump.

“I think that I know WHY she chose that place. Lots of good, tight, clear memories there. Teleportation requires good targeting.”

A shaking Angel whispered into Breeze’s ear. Breeze nodded, and said, “I will tell him, Angel. That could be important.”

Earnestly, Breeze told me, “Angel said that Esper’s Cutiemark turned bright purple, just before she vanished. What could that mean?”

I pursed my lips as I thought. “It could be REAL important. See … Esper’s Cutiemark is one of Magical Protection. We all thought that meant that she was a protector. Seems that it might be a tad more than that. That mark might protect HER from her power, which does tend to get away from her control from time to time.

“Happens especially when she gets carried away or angry. She was really upset when she saw how bad the Princesses feel still, after these two thousand years. If her magic was aiming to upset the Edict of Banishment, that could have been a true disaster.

“Esper’s magic is strong, no doubt of that. She is no way strong enough to undo Creator Magic. Creator Magic is very special. It was used to MAKE this whole world. Everything in this world stems from it. It cannot be undone or set against itself because that would literally undo the magic that the world stems from.

“I think that the danger of that is pretty obvious. When the Titan of Life Creation made Celestia and Luna, she limited their Creator Magic so that they could not undo or set Creator Magic against itself for that very reason.”

Breeze absently picked up the dish that Meg had dropped when she went after her Princesses. A subdued Angel took it from her, and by shifting the bench, washed it, rinsed it, dried it and put it away.

It was a while before the Guard Formation showed up and called for a clear landing zone for the Princesses Royal. They landed first and made sure of the space. Luna and Celestia alighted, still in their Rom sashes, harness and Freedoms. Their magic cradled the unconscious form of Esper.

The Whisper Sisters:

Some time later, Esper awoke in her caravan. Luna and Celestia were beside her looking worried.

“My magic got away from me again, didn’t it?” She groaned. “This is frustrating. Am I doomed to be it’s victim forever?”

Esper looked entreatingly at both her mothers. “Please. I know you can limit my power. So until I learn to control it, I don’t want full access to it.” Her eyes filled with tears. “Please. I beg you…”

Ask-De-Writer:

Compassionately, Celestia replied, “It is not the magic that needs restraint, Esper. It is your own control. Oddly, you have a sort of safety built into you. Your Cutiemark lit up and you vanished before you could try to undo the Edict of Banishment.

“This is a lesson that you must learn, as my pupil. Creator Magic CAN NOT BE UNDONE. IT CAN NOT BE SET AGAINST ITSELF. If either of those things were to be successfully done, this whole world would die, immediately. It is built with Creator Magic. To undo or undermine any part is to undo the whole.”

Luna added sadly, “If it helps any, we agree with you. No one, pony or horse, should have to endure what we have. Should has no thing at all to do with the reality that the Edict was done, even if by treachery, with Creator Magic. If there were any way at all, we would undo it in an instant. It is a part of this whole world. We accept that. And deeply wish that it were otherwise.”

Celestia sat and covered Esper with a wing. “Besides these things, the proper use of the magic that you do have requires self control. It stems from YOU, yourself. If we do limit it, we limit you as well.

“Tell me something. Are the Spirits of your world capricious or is there nearly always a reason in what they do?”

Luna gave Esper a searching stare. She added, “I believe from what I have seen, that what appears capricious at first has reasons that show later. I suspect that there are times ahead when you will need the control to use that power of yours. All of it. Perhaps more.

“That is why we will not limit your power. We will not limit you by doing so. Who knows what the future will bring? Not us.”

The Whisper Sisters:

Esper sighed heavily. “It’s all about control, isn’t it?”

She frowned. “I grow infuriated with my lack of knowledge. No. The Spirits of my world are not evil. But they are not helpful either.

“They gave me this new body and talents. Yet they neglected to give me the skills to control it. Or even tell me I had such vast magic powers. I discovered them by accident, and ever since, I’ve been accessing more and more powerful spells.”

She looked at Celestia in puzzlement. “You say my cutie-mark saved me? I didn’t even know it could do that until today.” She shook her head again. “The fairy lights at Rose’s lake, the magic lock on that Orange unicorn, that large dragon… I did none of that myself. It was my magic working through me.” She sighed heavily. “Is there some kind of mediation you could teach me to control my magic instead of it controlling me?”

Ask-De-Writer:

Luna nodded briskly. “If my sister will allow my interference in this, yes. There is a way. Your magic stems from the same part of your mind that dreams arise in. The manifestations of it up until now have been self controlled, as in what are called effective dreams. You know, where you are half aware and steer the dream yourself but it remains a dream. That is what these manifestations of your power are. Effective dreams expressed while you are awake.”

With a little justifiable pride, Luna added, “I should know. Where it comes to dreams, I am a bit of an expert.”

Celestia nodded agreement. “That you are, Sister. Esper had some other questions too.

“First, and foremost, yes, the safe and powerful use of magic IS all about control. Some very powerful sorcerers have been brought down by far weaker opponents who had better control of their powers.

“About your Cutie-mark, we might not have found it out at all but for the observation of a very concerned and observant filly. Your new daughter, Angel saw what we all missed. I think that it is unique in all of Equestria. That symbol of magical protection is more than a mere mark. It is now a fully active part of your magical system.

“It was the mark that removed you to safety when you were near to trying to undo Creator Magic. It does appear act like a watcher. It will let you destroy yourself but not the world or those that you love. It is a complex thing. It will try to save you if it can. It will also work to save those that you love. Beyond that? Right now, we do not know. This is a wholly new thing to us.”

Luna agreed. “That does not mean that we cannot shape HOW you dream to put that power under safer control. That is where I come in. I have a different problem in doing this.

“Father. It is very likely that you know him both as De Writer and his disguise. If I find it out, even by accident, we will lose him again. Who knows how long it will take to relocate him in a safe way?

“I have already found the source of both your intense desire to help and serve those that you love and the cause of your lack of control. Helping you through that will be violently painful in an emotional way.

“The source of both is the same. You were twice unmothered brutally and without help. What that did was cause you to become Uroloki, the Vengeful Fire. Surviving that led you to family yet again.

“That time, you gave your life to save them. That was another sort of unmothering. Now, you are here. You have family with both Marchhare and with the Chasers. You have attached to my sister Celestia as a mother figure too.

“Do you see the pattern here in YOUR behavior and your past? Still, we can deal with it. It means that, to avoid a disaster for Celestia and I, I must enter your dreams through your magic itself so that I reach the very roots of those losses without touching the present.

“You will have to LIVE THEM AGAIN. I will be there to guide you and build the dreams that can help you to rule those things that have ruled you from inside.”

Celestia nodded her approval and said, “If my sister Luna will allow, I will be there too. I have been with her before on Dream Work but nothing so difficult or complex as this.”

Luna lifted her horn in approval, “I believe that to be a very good idea, Celestia. She trusts you as a mother already and this can only deepen that bond. It will give Esper strength if she will allow us to do this thing, knowing what pain it will bring her.

“Have you the courage to do it, Esper?”

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