Notes: This does not take place in the continuity of my Discord-is-Q stories, for reasons that should become immediately obvious.
"Mommy, are we there yet?"
Madonna sighed. It was at least the seventeenth time the child had asked, though at some point she had stopped keeping careful count. "You will know it when we're there, child."
"What'll it look like? I bet there'll be big rocks! And, and runens! All over the place!"
"Do you mean runes, or ruins?"
"Mommy, I'm thirsty. Can I have some chocolate milk?"
"Did you remember to keep your cup?"
The child shook his head. "I lost it."
"I told you to hang onto that cup. I don't have an infinite supply of magic, child."
"But what if you did? Then it could rain chocolate milk! And we could swim in lakes made of chocolate milk! And also you could make us lots and lots of houses, Mommy! When I grow up I am going to have an infit supply of magic. And I'll make you lots of houses and we won't ever have to walk anywhere because there'll be wheels on the grass! And they'll roll all by themselves, uphill!"
"Yes, I'm certain that will happen," Madonna, the Principle of Motherhood, said, her heart turning over in sudden grief. He would never grow up.
If the ritual succeeded, the draconequui would ascend to a new plane of existence, to become pure magic. Which, in a sense, meant her son would have an infinite supply of magic, as would she, as would all the remaining few of her race. But all the other draconequui were full-grown adults, with established Principles identifying their true natures. Her son was too young to have a Principle yet. He would be the Principle of Childhood, for when they ascended and left their bodies behind, they would be eternally unchanging. He would never be an adult. He would never have any Principle other than his age.
Please, why did it have to be now? she whispered to herself. Couldn't he have had more time...
But she knew better. The ponies had driven them from their homes, again and again, had pushed them into a region too small to support many of them. The only reason she'd been permitted to have her child at all was that she was the Principle of Motherhood, and no draconequus would interfere with another's exercise of their Principle. She had had five children, but each had grown to adulthood before she'd been permitted to have another, and she was the only one left reproducing at all.
The way of Harmony had come to them too late. They were a chimerical species, like the griffins and the pegasi, with the heads and torsos of ponies and the legs and lower bodies of dragons. Being part pony, part dragon, they were obligate omnivores, who needed animal protein or careful mixtures of legumes in their diet to survive. They were not as magically powerful as unicorns – their magic could be incredibly powerful, but required careful rituals to invoke – nor as ferocious as dragons, and unlike dragons they could not eat gems, nor survive fire. For thousands of years, their intelligence, ability to walk as bipeds and use their talons for tool use, and capacity for predation had made them dominant, and they had cruelly used the other species of the world for food. But the dragons were tougher and crueler, and the ponies were more magical and could work in close harmony with one another. Once the pony races united, the fall of the draconequus race was inevitable.
Even as recently as the childhood of her last son, the one who was now the Principle of Speed, they had still eaten the flesh of other beings, even as they'd been struggling toward an understanding of Harmony with other species. Now they eschewed meat eating as the horror that it was, but it was too late. The ponies treated them as monsters and drove them away, fearing them as predators... which would not have been so terrible if the ponies hadn't also been expanding, their territory growing steadily across the land. The draconequui could get what they needed non-lethally from milk and unfertilized eggs, but no cow would sell them milk, and generally speaking any attempt to get one to do so was met with the cow calling in pony assistance. Nor would chickens tolerate their presence. For a time they'd been able to peacefully work with goats, as the ponies had driven them into the mountains where the goats lived, but then one day some foolish youngster had killed and eaten a goat, and now the goats would not help either. And as nomads, constantly being forced from their homes, they could not farm the legumes they needed, and besides, the earth ponies had sucked much of the natural magic of the earth away into themselves, so food simply wouldn't grow in lands too near to ponies unless earth ponies grew it.
They were starving.
"Mommy, I'm sorry I forgot my cup. Can you make me a new cup? I promise I won't lose it!"
"That's what you said about the last one."
"But I double promise! I promise promise promise! Pleeeeeeeease..."
She sighed. "All right." She couldn't refuse the child his food. He was the only pure draconequus, the only one never tainted by eating the flesh of other creatures. She had fed him on her own milk as long as she could, and when it had dried, she had learned to conjure cow's milk for him, and then to sweeten it with sugar and chocolate because their lives were so hard and there was so little joy in this world for a draconequus child. She remembered her own childhood, with a home, and three meals a day, and a town full of her own kind, remembered toys and books and games and playmates. Her child had none of that. Like any child, he was adaptable; he didn't know what he had missed, so he made his own fun, and enjoyed it. But she knew what he was missing, and her heart had always hurt that she couldn't give him a childhood like her own.
A draconequus could only perform spontaneous magic in alignment with their Principle. She could conjure milk for her son, but not for herself, or her people. She was starving, but she made sure he would never be hungry.
She knelt down and grasped grass with her talons, weaving it into a shape like a cup. With a wave of her talons, the shape transformed, becoming a cup for her child to drink from. Then she got up and walked to the stream they walked alongside, dipped the cup in and filled it with water.
"Mommy, how come you need to turn water into milk? How come you can't turn grass into milk? Or clouds? Or rocks? Or air?"
"Things must become like things, child," she said. "Magic has limits. I cannot simply make a cup appear out of air for you, nor can I make a rock into a liquid you can drink."
"That's stupid. When I grow up I will make all the rocks into liquids we can drink! And then no one will ever be thirsty even when the water tastes yucky!"
"I'm sure you will."
"Could you turn the whole stream into chocolate milk, Mommy? But then what would the fish swim in? I guess fish can't breathe chocolate milk. I don't want to be a fish, because all fish ever get to drink is what they breathe and if all I ever got to drink was air I'd be thirsty all the time! And besides they never get to have chocolate milk. When I grow up I will have a fish for a pet and I will use magic and my fish will be able to swim in the chocolate milk!"
"Here." She finished her conjuration, breathing hard, and passed him the cup. He gulped down the chocolate milk eagerly. "Don't lose your cup this time."
"I won't!" He promptly dropped the cup. "Hey, hey, there are shiny rocks over here! Shiny rocks! Mommy, are they gems? Could we dig them out and give them to dragons and the dragons would give us more food for you?"
"No, those aren't gems. They're just shiny."
"They're pretty. Can I dig them out? I want to give them to you, Mommy."
"I don't actually want any shiny rocks, and besides, we have to get to the ritual circle."
"How much longer is it gonna be? My feet hurt."
"Not much farther."
"Okay!" He ran ahead.
"Child! Your cup!" He ignored her, in hot pursuit of something imaginary. Madonna sighed and picked up the cup. It was best if she carried it anyway.
She followed her son up the mountain, and stopped, troubled, by the edge of a forest. Where had he gone? "Child! Where are you?" He was so small. Dragons would rarely attempt to eat a full-grown draconequus, but children weren't safe. Even griffins might occasionally try to grab and devour a child. "Child!"
"Yarr!" He leapt out of a tree, onto her back. She shrieked, and he clambered up her back and curled around her neck, laughing. "I scared you, mommy!"
"Did you just jump out of a tree?"
"I was flying!" He jumped off her back. "Look, Mommy, look, I can fly!" He scrambled up a tree, digging his talons in, and then jumped off a branch, flapping his tiny dragon-like wings frantically. It wasn't so much flying as it was semi-controlled falling, and her heart was in her throat with fear, but his shrieks were of joy and excitement and he laughed as he landed. "Did you see? Did you see?"
"Child. Do not jump out of trees! You're not a strong flyer yet!"
"But I'm gonna get stronger! When I grow up I'm going to fly to the sun!"
He would never grow up.
He would never be a strong flyer.
He would be a child god for all eternity, but the flesh that allowed him to run and jump and fly would be gone. She choked back tears. It was selfish, selfish of her to want more time for him to grow in this world, when her people were starving and there were so few of them left and they needed this, they needed to leave this world and the weaknesses of their flesh behind.
"Come, child. We have to get to the top of the mountain before sunset."
As she trudged, he scampered after her, going four-legged for speed. "Mommy, how come we're half pony and half dragon but not any of the other animals?"
"That's just the way it is, child."
"But I want to have feathers like a griffin or a pegasus!"
"Your wings are dragon wings. They don't have feathers."
"But I want feathers."
"What you want doesn't matter to what is reality. You must learn to live with what you have."
"Nuh-uh! When I grow up I'm going to have feathers! And I'm going to fly to the sun and the moon!"
"Let's keep going. We have a while yet."
"I want to be all the animals. Except fish."
"Mommy, look, I found a magic wand!"
"That's a stick."
"It's a magic wand! I cast a spell on you, tree! Now you're a house! Oh, I'm such a lovely house with so many rooms! Come live in me, I grew you some furniture! Okay, I'm going to live in you, but did you remember to grow me a cup? Yes, lots and lots of cups!"
"Child, get out of the tree, we have quite some distance to walk still."
"But my feet hurt."
"Climb on my back then."
He jumped out of the tree again and flew onto her back. "I'm a pegasus! I have feathers! I'm going to fly miles and miles and miles!"
"I'm sure you will."
"Mommy, you're a boat. Yarr! I'm the pirate king! I'm sailing the ocean looking for me treasure!"
"Child, stop all that shifting around, you're going to fall off my back and then where will you be?"
"On the ground." He considered. "Unless I fall upside down. Then I would be in the sky."
"Please just shush. You're giving mommy a headache."
He shushed for approximately thirty seconds, then leapt off her back and scampered toward the stream. "Mommy! Mommy, I see fish!"
"Yes. Yes, there are fish." Her mouth watered. Way of Harmony. It was evil to eat the flesh of living creatures. But oh, oh if she could only have that fish in her talon, she wouldn't even need to cook it, oh the sweet taste of fish, so tender... She gritted her teeth. She would not give into the hunger. She had to be an example for her son. Way of Harmony.
"Can I have one for a pet, Mommy? Can I?"
Madonna stared at him. Even by her child's standards, that was a ridiculous request. "No, you can't have one for a pet. How would you even carry it?"
"In my cup!"
"And then what would happen when you wanted chocolate milk?"
His face fell. "Oh. Right." Then he brightened. "But what if I had two cups, Mommy?"
"NO YOU CANNOT HAVE A FISH FOR A PET."
"Can I have two cups anyway?"
"Can I have some more chocolate milk?"
"NO—oh, yes, yes you can." Again she dipped the water, again she conjured the milk. She was growing weaker. Magic on a stomach half-empty and filled only with berries and boiled roots and not nearly enough of them.
He drank it all in two big gulps, getting a considerable quantity of it all over his face. And then he hugged her leg. "I love you, Mommy."
"I love you too, child. Now let's get up the mountain."
By the time they reached the ritual place, she was exhausted. Her child seemed to have boundless energy, despite the long walk. "Look, runens! And big rocks! Just like I thought! I'm very smart, Mommy."
"Yes, you are."
"Gracious of you to join us, Madonna," Mastery, the Principle of Control, said. All the other draconequui were already there, and apparently had been there for some time. Of course, none of them had had to drag a child up the mountain.
Thanks, the Principle of Gratitude, expressed the sentiment sincerely. "We all know how difficult it is for you, burdened with the child. We do appreciate your efforts in getting here before sunset. There should be plenty of time for the ritual."
"More than enough, I'd say," her older son, Hermes, the Principle of Speed, said. "Let's get started!"
"Come, child," Madonna said, and pulled her little boy forward. "Hold my hand."
He sat between Madonna and his older brother, holding hands, as Mastery began the chant.
"I have to go to the bathroom."
"Oh, for..." Madonna stood, breaking the ritual circle. "Excuse me, I apologize." She guided her son over to some scrubby bushes.
As he did his business, his eye caught on an outcropping of quartz. "Mommy! What is that? Is that glass? Glass is growing out of the mountain, Mommy!"
"That isn't glass, that's a type of stone."
"Is it a gem?"
"Yes, but not a powerful one."
"I'm going to dig it out!" He pulled free of her and ran to the quartz outcropping.
"Child!" She could feel the disapproving eyes of the other draconequui on her. The survival of their species was at stake, and her son was trying to dig up rocks. "This is serious! Come back to the circle!"
"But it's booooooring."
"But it must be done. You have to be part of the ritual. You don't want to be shunned, do you?"
Once, draconequui had put their criminals in prisons. They had no space for prisons, now, and no need. Any draconequus who committed a crime so terrible that he or she could not remain part of their society was shunned, denied food or shelter or companionship by other draconequui. It was usually a sentence of death; the world had become a very, very hostile place for a lone draconequus. "No!"
She hated threatening him with that, but it was the survival of all of them at stake. "Then you must sit with me in the ritual."
Madonna led him back to the ritual circle. "If we can begin again, without interruptions," Mastery said snippily.
They held hands. They began the chant again. The little boy didn't know the words to the chant, so he mouthed along at first, but at some point apparently got bored with doing that and started singing, loudly. How he could hold a song in his head against the rhythm of the chant Madonna didn't know, but his song disrupted their rhythm and made it impossible to hold the chant. "Madonna, quiet your child now."
"Child, you can't sing here!"
"But I'm booooored!"
"You still can't sing. Here." She got up and found a rock and a stick by the stream bed and brought them back. "Draw pictures in the dirt with these." He wouldn't be holding hands, but she could hold hands with Hermes and then they could take the child's hands when the ritual had reached the point where the circle absolutely had to close.
For several minutes they chanted. Madonna felt the power building along the lines, felt the runes fire with magical energy.
And then, "Mommy! Look what I drew! I drew a picture of you, Mommy!"
The power fizzled. The ritual was broken. "Child, now is not the time!" Madonna shouted, aware of the disapproving eyes of every other member of the draconequus race glaring at her.
Her child's eyes filled with tears. "But mommy, I drew it for you..."
"You can't disturb Mommy during the ritual, child!"
"The ritual is boring! I hate the ritual! Dumb boring ritual!" The child kicked the rock... and it hit Tinker, the Principle of Invention, in the chest, because of course they were in a circle and any direction he might kick the rock could have potentially hit another draconequus.
"Ow!" Tinker stood up furiously. "Madonna, I am going to build a cage for that boy if you can't restrain him!"
"I'm sorry! I know he didn't mean it!" She grabbed her son. "Child! Apologize to Tinker right now!"
"I'm sorry, Tinker," the boy said contritely. "I didn't mean to kick the rock at you. It was an accident."
"Well, you had better be more careful, child!" Tinker snapped.
The child's face clouded with anger. "Well, maybe if you weren't all doing a dumb boring ritual I wouldn't have to be more careful!"
"Child! Be quiet right now!" Madonna snapped.
"I'm bored! I'm bored! I'm bored and I hate this stupid ritual and when I grow up I will blow up all the rituals ever and there will never be another dumb boring ritual! I hate it I hate it I hate it!"
"Silence him or I will," Mastery said coldly.
Madonna shuddered as the implication hit her. With the future of their species at stake... Mastery might seriously be threatening to kill her child for disrupting the ritual. "Child. Come here. You don't have to be part of the dumb boring ritual. Mommy will call you when you get to the part you need to be in. You can play."
"Oh, okay!" And just like that the temper tantrum storm cleared from his face and he smiled brightly again like the sun. "Whee! I'm a cat, I'm chasing mice!"
She let him run around, playing pretend games, as she rejoined the ritual. They had to start all over again, of course; the disruption had fizzled the magic, and they had to build it all over again.
Again she lost herself in the chant, swaying between Hermes and Fidelis, the Principle of Loyalty. Again she felt the power build, rising up within her, within the runes, within the lines, building, building toward apotheosis, toward the point where she would call her son to her and they would all—
"Mommy! I caught a squirrel! Can I have him for a pet?"
If any of the other draconequui had been the Principle of Killing With Your Eyeballs, she and her son would both be dead now, Madonna thought. "No, you can't!"
"Madonna—" Mastery said coldly.
"Listen." She removed the squirrel from his paws, released the terrified thing, and conjured him another cup of chocolate milk, with a mild sedative in it. Perhaps he would nap. In any case it should quiet his boundless energy and let him sit still long enough for the ritual to take place. "Drink this, child, and sit still. Right there on that rock over there."
"But I'm gonna get bored."
"Then look up at the clouds. Aren't they beautiful? What do you imagine they could be?"
"That one looks like a bunny rabbit!"
She turned. It was Mastery, and Postulate, the Principle of Logic. "I'm so sorry. I'm going to try to get him to lay down for a while and –"
"It isn't necessary," Postulate said softly.
"Madonna... your son has clearly identified his Principle," Mastery said. "He has broken the rhythm of the ritual, several times."
"His fancies conform to no logic," Postulate said. "They never have."
"He obeys no rules. He disrupts every pattern he touches. We have identified your son as the Principle of Chaos and Disharmony, and the name we grant him is Discord."
Madonna stared. "...What?" Had it been so long since there had been other children? Her boy was a rambunctious, imaginative, hyperactive child, but that was normal, many boys and girls his age behaved this way, or had in the days when there had been other children of this age. "He's not! He's just being a child!"
"Hermes was not this disruptive," Mastery said sternly. "Vector was not this disruptive. Channel was not this disruptive. You have had many children, Madonna. Only this one brings this much chaos."
"I don't wanna be Discord," the boy piped up, obviously paying much more attention to the conversation than was good for him. "I wanna be the Principle of Fun! Then I would get to have fun all the time!"
"This behavior is normal for children! Why can't you remember what it was like when there were more of them?" Madonna demanded. "Yes, not all children are as wild as he is, but that doesn't make him abnormal! It doesn't make him the Principle of Chaos! How can you even assign a child a principle? He's much too young!"
"I could call myself Funnest! I would use my magic to make everything fun! Then there wouldn't be any boring rituals!"
"If he ascends he will never grow older," Postulate said. "That principle which he represents now, he will represent for all time among the ascended."
"The ruling stands," Mastery said. "He is Discord. And we do not need to take Chaos and Disharmony into our ranks when we ascend."
"Or I could be the Principle of Flying and then I would be the best flyer ever and I would get to have feathers like a pegasus. I could call myself Feathery!"
"You are not serious. You... you're saying you won't let him ascend with the rest of us?"
"We cannot," Postulate said, sadly. "The power of the ascension depends on Harmony. He is Disharmony. He has proven it by disrupting the ritual over and over."
"He's doing that because he's a small child and he wants attention!"
"It doesn't matter why he's doing it, the fact remains that he is doing it," Mastery said. "He may not ascend with us."
"Then neither will I!" Madonna shouted. "If you're going to shun my son you can shun me too! I won't ascend without him!"
"Mommy? Mommy, are they going to shun me? Mommy, I don't wanna get shunned!"
She gathered him up in her arms. "No, sweet one, no one will shun you."
"He cannot ascend," Mastery said.
"But you must," Postulate said. "Without the Principle of Motherhood we will lack the ability to generate life. A godhead must contain within it the Principle of Motherhood. If you don't ascend with us, Madonna, you doom us all."
"Choose," Mastery said. "We understand that you are the Principle of Motherhood, but you have four other draconequus children who are now grown. Will you betray their ascension to save the boy Discord? Will you destroy your entire race for the sake of your youngest son?"
Madonna's eyes filled with tears, as her son began to wail. Discord plainly understood entirely too much of this conversation, despite his age. "Mommy, I don't want to get shunned," he sobbed, clinging to her. "Don't leave me, Mommy, don't leave me."
Hatred welled in her heart for Mastery, who couldn't seem to remember what ordinary children were like, who was essentially condemning her son to death for being a rambunctious little boy. But his Principle was Control. If she refused him directly, he could force her with his magic.
So she would have to lie.
"I won't ever leave you, child," she said, hugging him. "No one will shun you. But the ritual is too boring for you, you know that. I want you to lay down and take a nap, okay? As soon as we come to the right part, I'll wake you up and you can join us."
She gave him another cup of drugged chocolate milk and rocked him until he was asleep, then laid him on the rock. "All right. I'm ready," she said harshly. "I'll do my duty."
"You know you can't wake him up to join us," Postulate said gently.
"I know that if I hadn't told him I would, the disruption he's caused thus far would be the least of our worries," she said. "He'll sleep."
Until she woke him up to join them. Because at some point the ritual would have built to the point where nothing could disrupt it, where only Mastery leaving the pattern could break it. She was lying, but not to her son.
She kissed his forehead. Sleep, Discord. I'll wake you when it's time to join us. I don't care what Mastery says. You're my son. I won't leave you.
She returned, and the ritual began again.
Again the power built. Again she felt it surge inside her as they chanted, the magic roiling inside her, wild and chaotic, ready to be tamed by her Principle and transformed into her. As all of them would transform. They would join together, a single overmind comprised of many minds, many principles, continuous and still separate, containing within them everything that every living draconequus was. They would be gods, creatures of pure magic.
Madonna wanted it. An end to the hunger, the constant struggles, the fear. An end to the helplessness. But not without her son. He deserved this as much as they did. Hadn't he suffered? Hadn't he been born alone, no playmates his own age, no toys but what he could find in their travels, no stability, no safety? Didn't he deserve what they would take for themselves? She hadn't borne him into this world to abandon him, regardless of what Mastery said his Principle was.
And what if it was Chaos and Disharmony? If that was truly his nature – for Mastery and Postulate had never been wrong before, when they had agreed on the identification of a child's Principle – then that was part of draconequus nature and deserved to be part of their Harmony. Sometimes Disharmony was valuable. How could one dissent against dangerous ideas without disharmony? She wasn't convinced that that was truly her son's Principle, but even if it was, didn't they need it?
As the magic built to the point where it was visible, where all of them began to glow and Mastery was obscured by ever-brightening light, Madonna broke ranks.
"Mother! What are you doing?" Hermes called to her, but although he was the Principle of Speed, he had not been prepared to break the circle, and his fear of doing so held him in place.
Madonna ran to where she'd laid Discord. "Wake up, child – Discord! Wake up, it's time!"
"Whu- m—Mommy? Why're you glowing?" he asked sleepily.
"Discord, it's time! We have to rejoin the ritual! Come on!"
She grabbed his paw in her talons and pulled. He staggered along with her for a moment and then pulled back. "Mommy! Mommy, everyone's on fire!"
"They're not on fire. Come on!" She pulled him up to the circle and grabbed Fidelis' hand. "Discord, take Hermes' hand! Join the circle!"
Discord pulled away completely, wrenching his forelimb out of Madonna's grasp. "No! No! Everyone's on fire, it's going to burn me! No, mommy, no!"
"We're not on fire!"
"Yes you are yes you are it's going to burn me! No no no!"
Mastery was screaming something but Madonna couldn't hear him. The ritual was off-balance, the circle wasn't closed. Discord needed to be in it but if she broke out again to grab him, the energy would break loose and who knew what it would do? "Discord! Listen to me for once in your life, child! If you don't take my hand now, we'll all leave without you! Do you want to be alone?"
He whimpered, torn between the terror of the glow surrounding his people and the terror of being abandoned by them. Madonna reached toward him as far as she could without breaking the circle. "It's a teleport, Discord, we're going to another world, we're not burning, but you have to join us or we're going to leave you! You have to trust mommy, now!"
She saw him swallow, saw him nod his little head resolutely. "O-okay..."
He ran forward and reached for her hand... and at the very second he touched her, the ritual completed.
The last thing Madonna saw was the energies backlashing through her little boy, twisting his small body in ways the laws of physics, reason and magic should have made incomprehensible. She screamed, and then –
The moment Discord touched Mommy's hand, she dissolved in an explosion of light, and then there was pain. Horrible, horrible pain, like someone was pulling his body to pieces and twisting all the pieces as they did so. Discord screamed in agony, falling backward, collapsing to the ground.
He didn't know how long he lay there, only semi-conscious, whimpering for his mommy. All he knew was that his mommy didn't come.
When the pain abated, when he was able to get up, he stumbled, falling back down again almost immediately, because his body was all wrong and had no balance anymore. He looked at his forelimbs in wonder. He didn't have dragon-like forelimbs anymore, and they didn't even match. One looked like a lion paw or something and the other was like a griffin's talon. When he managed to stagger to his feet, his legs were all wrong. One of them had just changed color so it didn't match the rest of him anymore, but the other one was a goat leg.
Discord laughed. "I am gonna be all the animals!" he said triumphantly. "Mommy, look! Look at me!"
But she wasn't there.
He looked around the ritual circle. The ground was cold, the sun had set and the moon had risen. There were strange shadows and shapes everywhere, but every time he ran to one (or stumbled, because he couldn't seem to make his body work well enough to run anymore) to see if his Mommy was in the shadow, there was nothing there.
"Mommy!" he called. "Mommy... Mommy, where are you?"
She'd promised she wouldn't leave him. She'd told him if he took her hand he could go with her, wherever they were going. He had touched her hand. If they already left then she'd come back for him. He knew Mommy wouldn't leave him. Mommy loved him. Mommy always kept her promises to him.
"Mommy, where are you?"
"Mommy, I'm thirsty, I want some chocolate milk, Mommy, where are you?"
"Mommy... did you leave me?"
"Mommy, I'm all alone, where are you? Mommy?"
"Don't leave me, Mommy, don't leave me, please don't leave me, please..."
If there had been any predators on the mountaintop that night, any creatures who might have heard an abandoned child's cries, the history of Equestria might have been very different.
If there had been any creature at all who might have heard the child's screams and taken pity on him, that also might have made things very different.
But there was neither one. The boy was completely alone.
When he cried himself to sleep at last, no one, for good or ill, disturbed him from it.