Chapter III: Silence
Her hoofsteps were quiet as her body led her to the Canterlot library.
Maybe there, after all, there would be answers.
As the princess of the night, she had no trouble at all adjusting to the sudden darkness that greeted her inside the large, expansive room. She simply peered inside and lit the area with a light from her horn.
It was the most extensive private library in Equestria, making lighting scarce because it had to be spread throughout the whole area. But in truth, it was only so dark because it was located inside the mountain Canterlot hung off of.
This was her private escape... her dimly lit sanctuary. This was where she went when she was sad, or bored, or angry...
She frowned, noticing a few things out of place since the last time she had come here. The only other pony that could have been in here was Celestia. She would have to ask her sister about it later
The alicorn then looked around somewhat nervously. What if the Heartless could spawn from this darkness?
But then, Luna shook her head and banished the thought. Heartless didn't come from physical darkness, like literal shadows. They could only come from hearts.
She snorted at herself. She still didn't know much about the Heartless, so she had to learn about what had been found during her time in the moon.
She shook her head, deciding it was best to simply find a book on Heartless and start from there. If there was one, that was
but she figured that Celestia would have done research after Nightmare Moon came into being.
She peered at the shelves as she passed them by before she found her target.
The soft blue glow of the book being encased in her magic bathed the otherwise lightless shelves. The book slid out easily, not disturbing any others around it as it left its home
She had opened it and was reading it before she even realized that she had levitated the book in front of her own face.
Nevertheless, the words inside were useful, and so Luna read on. She skipped the intro and made her way to the more informational part of the book.
What are Heartless?
It is a truly curious question. But before we can understand heartless, we must understand the heart.
The being is comprised of three things. These are, firstly, the heart, which contains the emotions and tells the body what to do. Then there is the soul, which carries out the heart's orders and directs the body. Third is the body, which serves as a vessel to the heart and soul.
Without all three, the being will collapse.
When a being dies naturally, its heart goes to Kingdom Hearts, which is the heart of all worlds. However, there is a chance that, if there is enough darkness in the heart, a heartless will be born.
The remaining body and soul will do one of two things. Either they will wilt away together, or, if the heart was strong enough, the soul will take control of the body and become an emotionless shell. These beings are Nobodies, and they are called so because they do not truly exist.
Nobodies are usually more intelligent than Heartless, but there are exceptions. The most intelligent Nobodies with the strongest hearts and souls can retain the same form and memories as they did when they were whole beings, but do not possess emotion due to their lack of hearts.
"This tells us nothing about Heartless!" Luna whispered in outrage. Or, at least she thought she whispered the words. In reality, she had yelled so loudly that the shelves nearest to her shook violently, as if they were more afraid of her voice than toppling over. But for the time being, they were safe; the moon princess had continued walking on, engrossed with the book.
She shook her head at the next paragraph, using her magic to flip through the pages impatiently. She wanted to know about the Heartless. What had been researched about them in the thousand years she had been gone. What they were made of, what they could do, what attracted them
If her petty jealousy could attract enough Heartless to feed her negative emotions, what could anger do? What about sorrow, or guilt, or
She nearly flipped over to the next page before she realized that she was exactly in the place she wanted to be. Her eyes bored into the paper, greedily sucking up the words that were printed in purposeful contrast to their white background.
Heartless are born from the darkness in a being's heart. Usually, they are born when that darkness consumes a being's heart. However, there are some known cases of Heartless being born for other reasons, but these are rare.
Luna couldn't help but glance away from the book. She had thought that she had gotten over becoming Nightmare Moon completely, but
She straightened herself, glaring down at the book. No, she wouldn't let her fear take her over. Perhaps her heart could spawn the Heartless, but they would only if she let it.
Or maybe she was wrong? What had really attracted those dark creatures to Equestria? Could her emotions really bring a horde of the dark creatures to her beloved home? Was her heart really that full of darkness?
She read on.
Heartless are dark creatures. They are purely instinctual beings that seek to devour hearts in order to create more of its own. The stronger and larger the heart, the more they desire it.
When Heartless find their way onto a world, they search for a door unique to each planet that changes with the world's current state. This door would be the door to the heart of the world. The hearts of worlds are the largest hearts of all, so Heartless seek to consume them over any other heart.
But how can a world be protected? It is almost impossible, but there are ways. One of the ways is through a powerful spell of light, which can only be created by a large source of light, like multiple light-oriented keyblade wielders. This spell usually repels the Heartless, but whatever added effects imbued within the spell also affect any otherworldly intruders.
Keyblade wielders. Luna stopped her slow gait and careful reading, looking up from the book to stare at some untouched shelves in front of her. She had heard that term before. But where?
She snorted in frustration, lowering her head and setting her horn aglow. The lunar princess subconsciously pawed the ground as she concentrated on the memories- memories that lay just below her reach.
She mentally held out her blue, steel-covered hooves to the memories, but they glowed far from her reach.
Her memories were in a chasm that had been split in her mind. A missing link in her mentality had dropped into a hole that was unknowingly dug in the recesses of her heart and soul, disrupting the continuity between her long chain of memories.
In other words, for some reason, the princess of the night couldn't remember everything that had happened in the weeks before she became Nightmare Moon. Most notably, she couldn't remember anything about the familiar-sounding keyblade wielders.
Luna continued her internal struggle to remember what had happened, but whether Nightmare Moon had erased her memories while she had taken over Luna's body and soul or something else had interfered, there was a strong magic that prevented her from delving into her own mind that not even a powerful alicorn like herself could bypass.
She groaned, tilting her head back and glaring at the ceiling. What kind of alicorn couldn't dispel something as simple as a memory block? Alicorns possessed the most potent kind of magic, after all. Only something like the Elements of Harmony and Celestia's magic combined could cast something so powerful.
She made a mental note to ask Celestia about it later. For now, she had to learn more about this missing gap in her memory. She had to learn something about these 'keyblade wielders' of whom she somehow knew were important.
She bit down on her tongue slightly, not really knowing if it was right of her to search for this kind of information. But as she flicked through the pages, she realized that a strong sense of insatiable curiosity had always been with her. There was still that time where she wandered away from Celestia and almost gotten eaten by a Hydra
then the time where she accidentally swallowed a dragon's gem while going on an adventure
She paused her thoughts and her magic, realizing that she had completely missed the section on keyblades while she had been reminiscing. Quickly, she flipped the papers in reverse until those nine letters stared back at her in bold print at the top of their page.
Keyblades are mysterious. Not all information about them has been discovered, but there is still a great deal already known.
Keyblades are most known for their ability to lock a world's heart, protecting it from the Heartless. They can also control the barriers between worlds if the barrier is shared between the worlds, but usually not if the world's protection is individual to that world.
Keyblades are also weapons. They are the most effective against Heartless and Nobodies and have the ability to expel both creatures permanently. However, both of the keyblade's potential victims recognize this- especially the Heartless. Heartless are known to follow any keyblade wielders to any world, even when the world has light magic protection, in order to eliminate the keyblade bearer.
Luna read the last sentence out loud to herself, her teal eyes growing larger as her voice lowered into a true whisper.
She remembered. Something had happened, sometime a thousand years ago when the Heartless had just begun to appear in Equestria. Something to do with these 'keyblade wielders'.
Celestia had cast powerful light magic over the world using the Elements of Harmony in order to expel the Heartless, but Luna was sure there was something else involved, something else that she couldn't remember. Because
Luna's jealousy alone couldn't have prompted the Heartless to invade Equestria. The protective magic was too strong. The Heartless had to have had a bigger motive. And then...
...there had to be a reason why she could only barely remember the keyblade wielders.
The golden colt trotted quickly towards Fluttershy's cottage.
Or at least, he thought he was trotting to there.
He stopped for a moment, looking around confusedly. Which way was he supposed to go again? He shifted from hoof to hoof uncomfortably, itching to move on; he had stopped in a large, circular area surrounded by shops. But he couldn't move if he didn't have the right destination.
The colt craned his head up, looking almost longingly toward the sky. If only he could fly! He would bet that an aerial view of the place would make it much easier to find Fluttershy's cottage. But there was no point in that; he was going to the supposedly butter-colored pegasus' house to learn how to fly in the first place.
He checked the skies, looking for a cyan pegasus with a rainbow mane. Nope, the so-called Rainbow Dash wasn't there eit-
"Hey! I've never seen you around Ponyville before," a voice called from behind. The colt jumped around before almost falling backwards at the sight of two magenta eyes boring into his own.
He leaned back some more, not used to the lack of personal space. However, the other pony seemed to notice this, so she flew a little back as well.
He tilted his head at her. Could pegasi really fly in place like that? Wasn't that impossible? He realized that her wings were too small for true flight, and that the same was for his own wings. He looked at the pair of appendages folded against his back with a frown.
He then realized that the other pony was a female, light blue pony with a mane striped with six bright colors. He jumped in surprise due to a sudden revelation.
"You're Rainbow Dash!" he exclaimed before the said pony could say anything to him.
She blinked down at him in surprise for a moment before her face spread into a grin. She leaned her head back and pressed a hoof proudly to a chest. "That's me! Fastest flier in all of Equestria!"
"You are?" asked the colt, making Rainbow Dash deflate. "I mean
Pinkie Pie told me to find you."
"Oh, really?" The pegasus didn't land, but she tipped her weight so that she would be on all fours if she were on the ground. She twisted her neck, examining the colt with a single eye as if she were a bird. "Why?"
"Well, she actually wanted to know how a pegasus holds coins," said the colt, "but I kind of, uh... I don't know how to fly
Rainbow stared at him for a moment, before bursting into loud snickers. She still didn't fall to the ground, though.
"What kind of pegasus pony can't fly?" asked the chromatic pegasus. "At least, anypony by your age should know."
But the colt didn't care about how much he ridiculed himself at the moment; he just wanted to learn how to fly. "So, can you teach me?"
I guess it's easier with older ponies," said Rainbow Dash, who shrugged in her place in the sky. "Sure, I'll give it a shot."
"You mean, you haven't taught anypony before?" the colt asked, his brow furrowing in unsatisfaction.
"Well... not really. Just Scootaloo, but she's still a little filly, so she can't really fly well yet," the mare with the magenta eyes admitted, the beating of her wings growing slower as she let herself land on all fours.
"Has... Fluttershy taught anypony?" inquired the colt.
"Hah! Of course not, she's too shy," said Rainbow, waving her hoof dismissively. "She's probably taught her animals- the ones of with wings, of course- but nothing like the real thing. If anypony at all, you're looking for me!"
"Okay then," the colt said, smiling at Rainbow Dash in a friendly manner.
A brief look of uncertainty flitted across the pegasus' face, but she seemed to banish the feeling as quickly as it had come. She straightened herself, a look of pride lighting up her renewed grin.
"The first thing you need to know about flying... is wind magic!"
"But I'm not a unicorn." It came out of the colt's mouth before he even realized he had said it.
The mare laughed quietly at him, shaking her head at his apparent ridiculousness before focusing on the topic again. "Obviously! All ponies have magic. Are you really that clueless?"
The colt bit his tongue to stop himself from immediately saying 'yes'.
"Pegasus ponies can fly and do stuff with clouds like walking on them and changing weather using their wind magic," said Rainbow Dash, before continuing in a somewhat arrogant manner. "If you ask me, that's the best magic of all!"
"Then what about... earth ponies?" the colt asked, ignoring the mare's last claim.
She seemed a bit miffed that he had ignored her last statement, but responded to his question anyways. "They're strong, they can grow stuff, and they're good with animals. Not so flashy. Unicorns can cast pretty spells, but that doesn't mean that all of them are good at magic. And they're usually weaker than earth ponies and pegasi."
"Oh," said the colt. His mouth twitched down in an indesicive frown; he wasn't sure what to ask next.
"Anyways," Rainbow Dash continued, unknowingly saving the colt from his dilemma, "flight magic. It's basically wind magic, but you don't really think about it when you use it. Or at least, I don't. So... try it."
"How am I supposed to know what it is?" the yellow colt asked with slight exasperation. "Can you tell me what it feels like or... or something?"
"Well, uh..." the pegasus with the rainbow mane closed her eyes, her face contorting into an expression of concentration. "It's like..."
"Uh-huh?" pressed the colt, who leaned forward in anticipation.
"...wind. It feels like, uh, the sky," she said, opening her eyes and rubbing her face. "I don't know! It might not even be the same for you. Look for it yourself."
The flightless pegasus sighed. This mare wasn't really good at explaining things. Nonetheless, he closed his eyes and searched for his own sky.
He began his search for the wind in his mind, but a thumping noise made his way to his ears. He subconsciously pricked them, but the noise wasn't from the outside world; it was coming a place deeper within him.
So his conscience drifted downwards, trailing away from his mentality and delving towards his emotion. Before he realized it, he was concentrating on a place slightly to the left of his chest. He let out a little gasp as he realized that the thumping sound was his own heart.
"Hey, um... are you okay?" asked Rainbow Dash. She waved a hoof anxiously in front of the colt's face, and when he didn't respond, she began to tap his shoulder with her hoof. But the yellow pegasus was long gone; he began to tip over at her touch before he abruptly fell to the ground.
"What the hay?!" the mare cried, eyes wide in panic.
The heart was unfamiliar. Once he realized it was there, it grew heavy inside him, as if it were not his own.
"This world is so pretty. So full of light," the heart whispered. "It's giving me some of its light. Once I get enough, maybe I can go back..."
"Back to where?" he asked it quietly, as if speaking too loud could scare the heart or shatter this invisible world.
"I'm not really sure," the heart murmured back to him. "I can't really remember... but wherever I came from, I remembered everything. And I want to remember things."
"I want to remember things too," he told the heart.
The heart did not respond, so the young pegasus paused hesitantly before he continued to speak.
"What'll happen if you leave me?"
"I'm not your heart. I think you're a Nobody. So I belong to someone else," it told him in a hushed tone, "so I guess you'll just lose the emotions I gave you, but not your memories. Your emotions aren't very strong already... I can see that... anyways, you won't be able to feel emotions anymore. Sorry..."
"Oh... that's sad," said the colt unhappily. "I like feeling happy."
"But then you don't have to feel sad," the heart breathed.
The colt waited for a moment, thinking it over to himself before he came up with what he felt was his best response.
"That's just balance. I can't be happy unless I'm sad sometimes... right?"
"I guess so," the heart told him before it seemed to laugh. It wasn't a true laugh, though. Instead of a sound, a warm feeling spread through his metaphysical body.
"Tell you what," the heart said. "I'll give you a little part of me. That way, I'll grow back the missing part, and you can build your own heart off of the piece I gave you."
"You can do that?" the young pegasus asked the heart.
"Yeah! And it's safe, too. Or at least I think it's safe," the heart said enthusiastically before it 'laughed' again. "I'm just giving you a fragment, so I won't be hurt. You just gotta take care of the piece until it grows enough, or else it'll get destroyed really easy."
"Okay," the colt agreed happily, before a sort of humbleness came over him. "Thank you..."
"It's just a fragment," the heart told him, still laughing in a good-natured way as if it were only doing so to warm him. "Don't thank me. After all, you're letting me stay within you for the time being. And it's up to you to make it more than a fragment... a fragment of harmony."
The colt opened his blue eyes, which watered at the sudden light.
He blinked once, twice. What had happened again?
He closed his eyes again, trying to recount previous events. He was trying to find his wind magic, yes... and then... he got lost? Something like that. He was going somewhere else, and then... he passed out...
He groaned and rubbed his eyes. He felt as if he had ran a marathon, and he couldn't remember anything after he had passed out. There was also something wrong with his chest; it hurt just enough to be constantly annoying, and it felt more hollow... but for some strange reason, he felt kind of happy.
The male pegasus slowly pried his own eyes open, but it was like a rusty door that was unwilling to budge. But the yellow colt was persistent, and eventually, his vision cleared enough for him to see the faces of numerous ponies worriedly looking over him.
He let out a noise of suprise, kicking out in front of him reflexively. The poines leaning over him leaped out of the way before he could harm any of them.
"S-sorry," he said, rolling over and stumbling to his feet. But he was still weak, and he was forced to fall back on his haunches.
"What in Equestria happened to you!?" a mare shouted at him. He pressed his ears against his head to combat the noise and shut his eyes at the sudden rainbow colors.
"I don't know," he said, his voice coming out in a tired sigh as he squinted at her. Then, he closed his eyes again, deciding that he would try searching for his wind magic once more.
"That never happened to me when I first tried out my flight magic," said the mare, looking at him with a puzzled look as his eyes slid shut again. "Or at least, I don't think so."
"Weren't you just a little filly then? How would you know?" a tangerine pegasus stallion inquired. The golden colt opened his eyes at the new voice and looked around, finding that there was a small circle of six ponies around him including Rainbow Dash.
"My parents, no duh," the chromatic pegasus responded, puffing her cheeks out slightly in indignation.
"Well excuse me," the stallion responded, looking like he was offended before he blurted out his next sentence. "How do you know your parents were sure?"
"Are you calling my parents liars!?" Rainbow Dash yelled at him.
"I wasn't. Why would you think that?"
"It sure sounded like it to me!"
"Well, I'm not."
"How do I know you're not lying, know-it-all?" She marched up to the stallion, who lowered his head angrily as well. Their heads met, rainbow clashing against red-orange as they glared each other down.
"Are you looking for a fight?" the stallion challenged.
The two pegasus ponies snorted and pawed at the ground, not needing any more words. They crushed their heads against each other, trying to drive the other backwards in a show of strength. However, they seemed to be evenly matched, so they remained in the same place, vainly trying to overpower their respective rival.
"I got it!"
The pegasus ponies jumped up, startled out of their fight. Their heads simultaneously whipped toward the one who had spoken. The other four ponies, who had been watching them in a confused stupor, broke out of their mindless stares and looked at the speaker as well.
There was the golden pony, who had his wings open and was gleefully jumping around. Instead of immediately sinking to the ground, however, he fell in a slow glide before touching the ground every time.
"It feels like the wind when you're standing on a cliff," he said breathlessly, although he seemed to be full of energy anyways. "It's like the air when you're falling, falling really far- but instead of being scared of hitting the ground, you know you won't get hurt. And it tastes like clouds and it sounds like..."
The four stranger ponies that had been watching Rainbow Dash's and the pegasus stallion's fight tilted their heads at the colt, but then began to disperse, making their way down the road. After all, they had only come over to see why the yellow colt had fainted, and he seemed perfectly fine now.
Rainbow Dash puffed out her chest and glared pointedly at the yellow-orange stallion. "I have to teach the kid how to fly," she told him. In other words, the mare wanted the stallion gone.
He took the hint, but nodded slightly at her before smirking.
"I'm Sunburst," he told her. "You've got guts. I like that. But you're really hot-headed."
She eyed him before her mouth turned into its own smirk. "Rainbow Dash. You've got guts. But you're an egghead."
He just laughed at her, all traces of anger wiped away before he spread his wings and flew off.
She looked in the orange stallion's general direction before her eyes were pulled back to the colt, who was still prancing around like a newborn foal that had just learned how to run. In a way, that wasn't far from the truth.
"Alright, kid!" she called.
He turned his attention to her and smiled. "I can fly!"
"Not yet, you're just gliding." The colt began to deflate, but then Rainbow Dash clapped a hoof on his shoulder encouragingly. "You're not really flying until you start jumping off buildings!"
The colt gulped subconsciously, but then closed his eyes in an internal debate. Either he would probably get hurt but learn how to fly, or avoid pain but not learn how to truly fly.
He opened his eyes and grinned.
The breeze spoke in a cold whisper despite the fact that it was the dawn of a sunny afternoon. Perhaps the wind only told such tales to her because it knew she couldn't understand.
Her eyes were bright- too bright. Her face was constantly masked. She never showed emotion because she didn't know what it was. She survived, but did not know what living was.
She couldn't remember.
The female unicorn instinctively perked her ears at the sound of approaching footsteps. Her face, framed by a short, dark mane, turned slowly toward the door. At the sight of a butter-colored pegasus, the black filly relaxed and placed her head between her outstretched hooves.
The pegasus mare walked quietly up to the younger filly, carefully placing the tray she held in her mouth on a desk next to the black unicorn's bed.
The unicorn continued to stare ahead, not bothering to look at the pegasus because she had no reason to.
But the pegasus mare was unsure, so she scuffled her yellow hooves on the wooden floor, peering at the planks under her through her long pink mane. She hesitated before lifting her head to look at the female unicorn.
"I-I hope that you like t-the b-bed," Fluttershy whispered almost silently.
The unicorn sensed that the pegasus was speaking. Mechanically, she lifted her head and turned it to look at Fluttershy, who let out an unsure whimper before she continued to speak.
"I t-thought you'd like the w-window," the pegasus stuttered, her voice gradually decreasing in volume as she began ducking her head in unsurity. The unicorn's blue-eyed stare was unnerving, but...
Fluttershy looked back at the younger filly. She had found the unicorn in a clearing of the Everfree forest a few days back, but she was unconscious. But even after the butter-colored mare had prepared a small bed by a window for her to sleep, the unicorn hadn't spoken a word.
She just stayed there, eating and drinking whatever came to her and only getting out of bed to do her business. It was unnerving, but Fluttershy knew that she wanted to nurse this pony back to health. She wanted to teach the black filly how to feel again.
And yet, what was she doing now? Nothing Fluttershy could do would make the silent unicorn do so much as stir a little inside. The pony with the pink mane sensed no feelings from this young black-colored mare, and the very idea just made her so sad... it was like the filly was stuck in an endless half-sleep.
"I hope you wake up soon," she said, speaking so softly that she may have just as well been mouthing the words. Fluttershy dipped her head and turned slowly around, going downstairs and outside to give her animals a midday munch.
But even after she left, the unicorn filly did not make a move to lay down again. For the first time, something inside her stirred.
Her mouth moved slightly as the words echoed through her head... but they were words that did not belong to the pegasus that had been in the room just moments before. Something murmured inside the unicorn filly's chest, speaking of something- or someone- that would do just that.
Someone would help her wake up.
"Who is she?"