The Equestria Dialogues: Chapter one- a first meeting.
This is a day I've long been looking forward to.
As anypony could tell you, I love exploring new places and exotic locales. It is my reason for living, my 'special talent', if you will. I have been everywhere, from the cold and lofty peaks of the purple mountains, to the desert land of Screea, home of the Penna birds... and I have seen many amazing places, and many wondrous things. That is why I bear a compass and a star as my cutie mark, for the winds are my truest companions on any journey, and the stars my truest guide.
Forgive me, I should first introduce myself. My name is North Star, professional adventurer and royal cartographer of Dream Valley. I work in service to Queen Majesty, the ruler of the Dream Valley kingdom, exploring new places, and mapping out different part of both Ponyland, and our much wider world. I am a pink Pegasus with a purple mane and blue eyes, and I live at dream castle along with my daughter, Baby North Star. My husband, Barnacle, is also an explorer- an earth pony sailor, who enjoys going out and exploring the seven seas. Much like the other stallions, he rarely stays in the valley for long, leaving my daughter and I to tend to our own affairs.
Under my queen's orders, I have investigated many strange and unusual phenomena around the world. But this latest assignment I've been given, has to be the most exciting one yet. Today Wind Whistler and I have been sent to explore the ruins of Canterlot, the former capital of what was once the kingdom of Equestria. One of the largest sets of ruins in the entire kingdom, it is a treasure trove of ancient knowledge and enchanted artifacts... and also one of the most tempting targets for thieves and brigands. The Canterlot ruins is usually crawling with troll and goblin scavengers, so we'll have to be careful.
"Be cautious on your approach, North Star. These rocky outcroppings can be most hazardous." Wind Whistler warns me, as she came in for a landing on one of the ruined streets. Nodding, I gently come in for a soft landing, my hooves clacking on the cracked cobblestone road. This whole city was built directly into the cliff side, and it is a miracle it has not yet slipped down the mountain, and crumbled away into dust. It is truly a testament to to the ability and know-how of the ancient Equestrian Ponies, those wondrous ponies of an an advanced and peaceful era. Oh, how different their world was, from the world we live in now!
"Let's have a look around, shall we?" I ask my traveling companion.
"Indeed." Whind Wistler replies with a smile. "I cannot even begin to imagine what wondrous discoveries, our present endeavor shall uncover." I could only smirk at my partner's enthusiasm. The queen's court scientist, Wind Whistler is the most logical and serious blue Pegasus you will ever meet. Even her own husband and daughter cannot connect with her very well. She often accompanies me on my journeys, scientifically analyzing ever little discovery I make, and reporting her findings back to the queen. "In fact, I believe it would be most efficient to split up, and explore separately."
"I quite agree." I reply, and begin to explore the nearby buildings. Roofless houses, and shops with crumbling walls... this place is a mess. But that is to be expected, of course, of a city that has been abandoned for five hundred years. Amongst the ruins, I find broken plates and bowls, and even some kind of child's doll (What was the character the archives said the doll represented, 'smarty pants', I believe it was?) But I find no trace of anything of value, magical or otherwise.
Sighing with disappointment, I realize most of these structures had already been picked over, and most anything interesting or exciting had probably long been removed from these ruins. Curse the old pony taboo on disturbing the places of the ancestors! Convincing the queen to finally allow us to explore this place, was too little, too late. The enemies of ponykind had already beaten us to prize by several centuries. We were too late to save our own heritage. Sighing with disappointment, I make my way towards the ruins of the royal palace.
Canterlot Castle... even in it's current state of decay, it is still a marvel to behold. Trotting though the once-carpeted hallways, I gaze upon broken stained-glass windows, depicting scenes from Ponyland's great and vast history. The element of harmony bearers, the demon discord, even Princess Celestia herself, the most regal of all ponies... it was all here. Ponykind's greatest age... and all that was left was these broken-down ruins. By the great horsemaster, where had we gone wrong?
"A magnificent sight, is it not?"
A voice from behind me causes me to whinny in surprise. At first I thought it was Wind Whistler. But as I spin around, I see a purple-blue unicorn with a light blue mane and teal eyes. A crescent moon cutie mark decorates her flank, and she looks to be about my age.
"Who... who are you?" I ask in surprise.
"A humble visitor, like thyself." She replies. "A pony who doth enjoy reflecting on the past."
Looking her over, I noticed a regal-ness to the way she carried herself, and a weariness in her eyes that was beyond her years. She must be a unicorn mage from one of the local feudal kingdoms, I reasoned, and had come here to explore the ruins as Wind Whistler and I were doing.
"Yes, it is magnificent!" I tell her, looking back up at the glass window with Celestia's image on it. "To think that they were such an advanced civilization to build all of this..."
"Yet for all of their advancement, they could not save themselves." The unicorn replies bitterly. "They could not see the coming tragedy, and failed to prevent the destruction of their world."
"But Ponykind survived." I argue. "Their descendants bounced back, and built the Ponyland Society we know today."
"And what kind of society doth ponykind live in?" She asks, an undercurrent of anger running in her voice. "Monsters do threaten from all sides, and what do the ponies do? Hide behind the walls of their fortified castles, relying on human knights and unicorn mages to protect them!"
Shocked, I am ready to protest- those human knights fought side-by-side with the dream valley stallions as equals... treating the ponies as partners, instead of just brainless steeds. But then I see a wave of sadness pass over the unicorn's face, and I fall silent.
"Forgive me, child. We have a tendency to forget that our time has passed." This puzzled me, why would a pony my age call me 'child?' And what was with that 'we'? "Tell us, young one, what is thine name?"
"North Star" I reply respectfully, realizing the unicorn was far older than she actually looked. "I'm an archeologist and explorer pony from Dream Valley."
"Majesty's kingdom, yes." The unicorn replies, nodding. "Walk with me, North Star of Dream Valley."
She trots confidently down the hallway, and I follow quickly behind her. "Tell us, young one, what does thou knowest of the Princess Celestia?"
I think for a moment. "She was the great ruler of Equestria, one of the mightiest heroines of Ponydom. She and her sister freed our ancestors from the tyranny of Discord, then she ruled Equestria for fifteen centuries of peace and prosperity. Her reign was the greatest Ponyland has ever known."
"And doth your records tell of what kind of pony she was personally?" The Unicorn asks. "Do they tell you her hobbies, her likes and dislikes? Doth it tell you how she had a wry sense of humor, and could play small practical jokes? Or that she was a wonderful sister, who cared deeply about her family?"
"Well, no..." I stutter in reply. "Our records say that she was a kind and just ruler, and very little else about her personality. We do know all of her accomplishments, though... all of her actions as a princess are recorded." If this unicorn knows something about Celestia's personal life, I would love to look through the royal archives in the kingdom she is from!
"Then thou really dost not know what know what kind of pony she was, meaning you really don't know her." The unicorn replied smugly.
"So what you're saying is... some one's deeds don't tell you what kind of person they are... it is understanding the person themselves?"
"You are correct, child." She says with a smile. Then a puzzled look crossed her face. "Wait a minute... 'person'? Dost thou not mean 'pony'?"
"Forgive me, elder." I reply with a laugh. "But living among the humans for so long has had it's effect on pony culture, and pony language."
"Something we are not pleased about." The purple unicorn grumbles.
"Tell me, elder... what do you know of Equestria?" I asked her, curiously. "Do you know anything about the Element of harmony bearers, of Ponyville?"
"Ah yes, thou wouldst be interested in Ponyville." The unicorn replies. "For it is the place the ancestors of the Dream Valley ponies came from. Yes, we know of Ponyville... of Sugarcube corners, and the energetic Pinky Pie that lived and worked there... of the gentle Fluttershy, and her caring for the animals... of the Competitive Rainbow Dash, and her absolute need to win. Yes, child, I know them well... and few of them are left now."
She is rambling, as old eccentric unicorn researchers are known to do. But out of her mumblings I pick up some names I know. Fluttershy was an element bearer, and the Pony Fluttershy falls in Dream Valley was named after. The Same was true of Rainbow Dash, who was the namesake of Fort Rainbow Dash far to the west of our kingdom. But Pinkie Pie? We had lost the names of two of the harmony bearers, but I really didn't think the pink pony pictured in the ancient texts would actually be named after her color palette.
"Why would anyone have a name as sickeningly girly as that?" I blurt out, thinking out loud.
"In an age where all mares wear ribbons tied into bows on their tails, one can hardly call Equestria ponies 'girly'." The purple unicorn retorts.
"Hah hah... you have a point, elder." I reply sheepishly, glancing back at my own tail bow. "But tell me... what kingdom in Ponyland are you from? Obviously, you are not from Dream Valley, or from Queen Rosedust's flutter pony kingdom. You don't seem very rough and adventurous, so you're probably not from Fort Rainbow Dash. And you're not an Oriental pony, so I doubt you're from Hoofkaido. Might you be from the Royal Paradise? I've heard the six princess ponies there have quite an extensive archive collection!"
"So many different kingdoms, so many different rulers." The unicorn replies sadly. "Whereas once Equestria was united, now all of Ponykind stands divided. And it shall never again be united as one."
Before I could ask her any more, Wind Whistler comes trotting up. "North Star, where have you been? And who is this unicorn?"
"Hello Wind Whistler. I was merely looking around at the palace and surrounding buildings. As to who this is, what was your name again?"
But when I turn to ask her, she was gone.
"Hey, where did she...?" But before I can finish, I notice the sun is setting. "We'd better get home, Wind Whistler. The moon is rising, and it will be dark soon."
"I most certainly agree." My companion replies. "And don't worry, North Star, I'm sure you're new friend will be all right."
"Your probably right." I Sigh, and the two of us take off. "Who knows, maybe we'll see her again when we return to tomorrow. This is scheduled to be a ten-day exploration, after all."
And with that, the two of us flew back towards Dream Castle, leaving these ruins of the past behind us. But as we fly, I silently hope that I will get the chance to speak to her again...
..whoever she is...
To be continued...