Of the time before
In the time before, there was no pony, no pegusi, no unicorn, no cow, no pig, no bison, no buffalo, no zebra, no giraffe, no gazelle, no yak, no alpaca, no deer, no reindeer, and no llama.
There were dragons.
But it was not dragons that ruled, but the Others. The Others were unlike any other beings. They were force and might, hatred and malice, lands and worlds unto themselves, with power beyond any. Cruel and uncaring they would create and cast down the races of the world, as was their whim. As so they would continue, for years beyond years, and eons beyond eons.
Of the contest
At that time the sun hung over Creation.
One day it came that the King of the Others decided that the sun should move, for at the time it hung still in the sky. He then declared that a being as great as he (for the sun was of him, and he of the sun) should have a magnificent steed to carry it. And so he declared a contest, with glory to the Other that could create the finest stead, a being worthy of carrying the sun, which was of his greatness. At once did all the land hear the proclamation, for the King was everywhere and no-where at once, as he was both the chaos and the command.
And so did the Others each plan to enter the contest, and each worked to fashion the greatest steed possible.
The Mountain stood in silence and contemplated the perfect steed, and so it fashioned Oeg. “Behold, the finest steed in the land. My steed is strong and steady. It will never tire, and will be able to carry even your greatness. There is no path it cannot travel, no mountain it cannot climb, no river it cannot cross. I am the Mountain. I am perfection. Ride it and you will surely declare mine the finest.”
The Desert watched the sun from afar, and she thought on what steed would befit its perfection, and so she fashioned Prospecta. “Behold, the finest steed in the land. My steed is sturdy and stoic. It will never tire, and needs neither food nor drink. There is no path it cannot travel, it can even transcend even my vast reaches. I am the Desert. My vastness is as your greatness above all Others. If this steed can traverse even the difference between you and them, then how can any other compare? Ride it, and you will surely declare mine the finest.”
The Sea raged and spat, for she had already borne the king once before and felt she should be honored already. Still, she would not lose this contest, and thus sought to birth the perfect steed, and thus was Tidalos born. “Behold, the finest steed in the land. My steed is tough and swift. It can withstand even my depths, and will have no trouble seating your glory, it can swim against even the river itself. I am the Sea. This steed is born of my foam and my struggle. Ride it and you will surely declare mine the finest.”
Vision looked across creation, seeking that which would make the perfect steed. But Vision could find nothing, for the Others knew Vision was watching, and jealously hid their work. So did Vision turn inward, and craft a steed in his own image, but it was not himself, for the Others were vain and could not stand to see their creations as them, and so he fashioned Ramus, which was like him but not him. “Behold the finest steed in the land. My steed is swift and elegant. It can dance through forest, and mountain, and river. Behold its fine horns, whose elegance reflects the glory of the sun. I am Vision. I have looked over all of Creation and have seen no more beautiful steed. Ride it and you will surely declare mine the finest.”
The River traveled across Creation, and beyond its borders, in search of the perfect steed, and so she fashioned Zephyr. “Behold, the finest steed in the land. My steed is swift and tall. It shall outrun all others, it legs are long yet strong. No path shall be a barrier to it, for its head rises above all others and so that it will never be lost. I am the River. I have traveled the length and breadth of creation and the outer reaches beyond its borders, and even now separate the two. I know travel above all others. Ride it and you will surely declare mine the finest.”
The Forest twisted its roots with worry and its leaves began to lament, “How can I create perfection? I have no artistry, only that which others have. How can I create a steed? I am a forest; I know nothing of riding and travel.” And so did the Forest sink into despair, but then he felt his roots being trampled, and his branches snapped as the Behemoth ran through him.
At once the Forest gave a great cry of joy and set to work immediately, and so it fashioned Isadora. “Behold, the finest steed in the land. My steed is strong beyond measure. The forest cannot stop her, for she will uproot the trees. The ocean cannot stop her, for she will drive through it. The desert cannot stop her, for she will never tire and never give in. She is a vision of strength and power, as befitting the sun. I am the Forest. Ride it and you will surely declare mine the finest.”
Of the three
As the others worked on their steeds, Language heard their shouts of joy and triumph, and knew he could not compete. And so he listened, to hear those who had also not completed their task, and summoned both Earth and Storm with subtle whispers, so that none but they could hear. “We cannot hope to compete, for I have heard our brethren. I do not know what manner of steeds they have created but I can hear their triumph. Listen to me: we did not create Creation alone, nor what came before. Let us work together, for shared triumph is better than no triumph at all.”
And so Earth, who was the kindest of the Others agreed, while Storm turned and tossed, but it suited her mood to do so, for even she saw the benefits. And so the three set about to create a steed. Earth gave the steed strength and form, a strong base from which to hold all other traits, and legs and power with which to hold the sun. Storm gave it wings with which to fly, and the ability to govern the lesser storms, so that no cloud would impede its progress nor diminish the glory of the sun. Finally, Language gave it speech; not merely the speech of old, but the language of the universe, which is magic, and a horn upon which to work its magic.
The three looked upon their creation and were almost satisfied. “But what shall we call it?” asked Earth. And so Language searched within himself, trying to find the word. And for days and nights did he search, until the time of judging was almost at hand, and Storm and Earth waited nervously.
Finally, Language emerged from within himself. “Behold, I have searched my length and breadth and know her name. She is a creature of beauty and grace, so her name must be graceful. But she meant to support and glorify the sun itself, not the focus of attention. Thus her name shall be Luna, and she shall ever reflect the sun’s glory.”
And Earth and Storm were satisfied.
Of those not entered
The Behemoth did not enter. For the Behemoth did not care for crafting, only strength and its own running.
The Swamp worked but fashioned nothing. For it could not contain its own hunger, and consumed what it created.
Dream thought and fashioned everything. But it could not keep thought and form, for that which it made real became real, and that which was real was not its, for its realm was that which was not real. Thus wonders were born again and again, but these it could not keep, for Dream can have anything but can keep nothing.
Darkness fashioned a steed, but did not do so in order to win. Instead it fashioned one in order to mock its brethren. For though the Others sought to hide their creations, Darkness did not yet exist, and that which does not exist cannot be guarded against, and so it saw all their work. And Darkness fashioned its creation. To mock the Mountain it gave it a shaggy coat, to mock the Desert it gave it a long droopy face, to mock the Sea it made it spit, to mock Vision it gave it legs which could cross mountains but would look ridiculous doing so, to mock the River it gave it an elongated neck. And when the time of judging came, it mocked the trio by declaring it the finest steed, as it was a mix of all Others work, not merely three. Finally, when the sun came to it, darkness had the steed spit in the sun’s eyes, so that that it might mock the entire contest, and so did the King fly into a rage behead it.
There was one Other who was crippled, and weaker than the rest, and the Crippled One sat in his workshop and sought to forge the finest steed possible. It was a steed of gears and metal, not flesh and blood. But it was said that all beings that saw the steed were amazed at its work and wonder. It was fast, and strong, and agile and much, much more, and the Crippled One looked upon his work with pride, for it would surely bring him victory and glory. But he worked too long, and by the time he was finished, the contest was already started. He could not make it in time, and thus rode his steed to the contest. But the King was angry, for the Crippled One had presented a steed which was already ridden. Thus was he cast out and his steed destroyed before his eyes.
Of the judging
The steeds were assembled before the sun and in turn each was ridden.
First the sun rode Oeg. And for a time the sun was satisfied. Oeg was strong and steady, and carried the sun well. But soon the sun began to grow dissatisfied, for while Oeg could run, he was not swift enough for the sun. So the sun began to beat against him, but he could not hurt Oeg, for Oeg’s horns were straight and his hide thick. Thus the sun continued to beat against him, and Oeg continued to run, until the all of Creation began to plead for him to stop, for the sun had remained in the sky for several days, and had not turned its back once, and it grew far too hot. And so the sun declared Oeg an unworthy steed. And Oeg went to the farthest mountain, away from everything, for he was ashamed of his sloth.
Next the sun rode Prospecta. And for a time the sun was satisfied. Prospecta was not as strong, but she could endure the sun’s heat, and she was swifter than Oeg. But soon the King began to grow dissatisfied. “Look at the steed,” said he. “It may ride well, but it does no credit to the sun’s magnificence. Its face is long and distorted. It back is hunched and odd. Its neck is hanged and wrinkly. The sun cannot ride a steed such as this.” And so the sun declared Prospecta an unworthy steed, and cast her down. And Prospecta hid, for she was ashamed of her appearance.
Next the sun rode Tidalos. And for a time the sun was satisfied. Tidalos was swift and strong, and noble of bearing. But soon the sun began to grow dissatisfied. For Tidalos was a creature of the ocean, and while he was the finest steed in the ocean, he could not travel upon land for he had no hoofs. The Sea tried to assuage him, pointed to his fine wings, with which the air was as ocean to him, and the sun nodded, but the King was not satisfied. For said he, “This steed’s hoofs are weak and worry, he travels by tail and fin. What good is such a steed? For without hoofs he cannot crush lesser beings beneath him. The sun cannot ride a steed such as this.” And so the sun declared Tidalos an unworthy steed, and cast him down. And Tidalos swam to the deepest depths, for he was ashamed.
Next Ramus was shown. And for a time the sun was satisfied. Ramus pranced about the sky, dancing and showing off his magnificent horns and gleaming coat. And the sun was enraptured with his dance, but then the sun attempted to ride Ramus, and Ramus could not carry his weight. For Ramus was made for dance and beauty, not strength and power, and his back was broke. And so the sun declared Ramus an unworthy steed, and cast him down. And Ramus hid, for he was ashamed of his weakness.
Next the sun road Isadora. And for a time the sun was satisfied. Isadora was strong and swift, no obstacle could slow her charge, be it mountain, or forest or ocean, and she would never slow nor stop, for it was not her nature to give up. But soon the sun began to grow dissatisfied, for Isadora was of the Behemoth, and was fashioned in his image and manor, and the Behemoth was not a tame creature. Thus did Isadora ever struggle against the sun, trying to break the reigns and buck him off. The sun beat against her, and did grievous injury, but Isadora struggled on. Finally, said he “I cannot break a creature such as this, only kill it, and I have need of a steed, not a meal.” And so the sun declared Isadora an unworthy steed, and cast her down. And Isadora ran about the land, for she was not ashamed, she was angry.
Finally did the sun ride Zephyr. And the sun was satisfied. Zephyr was swift and strong, he could run through any terrain, and his long neck let the sun ride high in the clouds, as was the sun’s desire. And the stripes adoring his back blew as the winds and gave glory to the sun. Thus was the sun satisfied, and he declared, “This stead is a worthy above all others. This shall be my steed.”
But as he declared it so, the trio cried, for their steed had not yet been ridden. And the sun and even the King could not ignore them, for the Earth rumbled and shook, and the Storm blew all manner of winds across the land, and Language cried out in all the tongues that were and are and would be. As so the King yelled out, “Cease your lamentations! Cease at once! The sun shall ride your steed if only you cease.”
As so did the sun ride Luna. And once again sun was satisfied. Luna was swift and strong, she could run through any terrain, and her wings let the sun ride high in the sky, as was his desire. The color of her hide gave glory to the sun, making his glow all the more noticeable against her darkness. Thus was the sun satisfied, and declared, “This stead is also a worthy steed, above all others save Zephyr.”
“But which is better?” demanded the King and all the assembled Others.
“I cannot say, for they are near equal in measure and perfection. Let us hold a contest; three feats shall decide their worth. First, we shall see which steed is swiftest, for I will wish to ride quickly. Second, we will see which steed may carry me the highest, for my home is the sky and I shine over all Creation. Finally, we will see which is the most skilled in magic, for none may see the future, and I do not know what else I may need in a steed, but with magic they can be prepared for anything.
And so both the River and the trio were satisfied. For the trio were sure they could win, for what single Other could stand against the finest work of three of them? But River was also satisfied, for River had placed a fragment of her own power within Zephyr, a small fragment, for Zephyr was not of the River as the sun was of the King, but he was connected still.
Of the contest
And so the first contest was held. Both were laden with bags of iron weighted to the sun, and the iron was that of several mountains, but neither Zephyr nor Luna buckled. They began to race across the whole of creation. And though both tired, neither gave nor slowed, and neither could overtake the other. But Zephyr was crafty, and he did lower his long neck and stretch it far, and in this way did he cross first.
The next test was of the sky, and both rose up, for though Luna could fly, Zephyr could stretch his neck and legs. And both rose, and at first the trio were joyous, for surely the wings would bring them certain victory. But as the two rose higher and higher, they began to despair, for Zephyr could stretch his neck as long as the River, which was his creator, and none knew the full length of the River. And thus did the Others rise to see the duel, and it is said that Mountain grew over three times its height in order to watch them rise. But there was one who could not, for Earth could not rise as she was earth, and so she waited, until all the Others were so high she was as a mere speck, and then did she shift and shake. Zephyr, whose feet were still upon the Earth, did stumble and fall, and was brought down, and in this way did Luna rise higher.
Finally, both prepared to duel in magic. And both were excellent in it. For Luna had the horn Language had made, and knew all of the magic that Language did. But Zephyr had his piece of River, and through it had great strength. And so the two dueled, and slowly did Luna begin to tire. And Earth and Storm were afraid, but Language was not, and whispered to them, “Be not afraid, for River does not know magic. He has given his creation two horns, for he believes it will make it twice as magical, but this is not true. It will only divide the magic. Luna has one horn, and her spells are more for it.” As Language spoke, his words were proven true, and Zephyr was thrown to the ground by Luna’s magic. And did the trio shout in joy and the River in despair.
Thus was Zephyr was cast down, and he ran to the furthest corners of Creation, for he was ashamed of his loss.
Of The Steed of the Sun
Said the sun, “Behold, this is a worthy steed. Luna shall be my steed, above all others. She is the perfect steed, and the King shall grant you your boon.”
But the King was obstinate and would not grant the boon. And the Trio were angry, for they had won. Said the King, “I do not deny your steed is the best of the contest, but it is not perfect, and is not worthy of being ridden by the sun.” And with that did the King craft his own steed. It was like Luna, but it was not Luna, for it was greater in might and stature, and made of pure white. “Behold, this is the perfect steed, this is what the sun shall ride. Behold Celestia.”
And all the assembled Others were angry, for they saw how they had been tricked. But they could do nothing, for none could deny that the new steed was the best. Under its majesty Luna was lesser, in strength, magic and flight. Its coat was as the sun. It was the perfect steed. And so the King made plans to destroy Luna, for it could not stand the proof Celestia was not its own idea.
But Earth had grown attached to her creation, and so she pleaded with the King, “Let it live, please. We will say it was the second. That yours was first, and ours built after your magnificence, for is not your steed’s glory greater if one can see a lesser version?” And so the King agreed, and Luna lived, and all the Others swore oaths that Celestia was the first and Luna second, and these oaths did they force on their creations so that all were bound to act as if Celestia was the first. And thus was Luna cast down, and she ran away, afraid of the King and ashamed of being the lesser.
Of the first race
The blood of Darkness’s creation spilt out unto the land, and from it arose the llama and the alpaca. Thus were these the first of the Equestrian races, but none took notice of them at the time. For the Others were beings of malice and hatred, and would not care for them, and the steeds cast down ran away in shame and anger and did not know them, and Celestia carried the sun and was not near them.
For days beyond days, and years beyond years, the sun rode Celestia. And she was prideful to be such, for the sun was magnificent and she basked in its glory, and it was her duty. But even the sun’s magnificence could not hold one’s undivided attention forever, and Celestia soon began to look upon the world.
What she saw troubled her. For the Others did not care for their creations, and would ravage the world as they pleased, while the creatures they did not care for were cast down and abandoned or destroyed. And so Celestia spoke her worry to the sun.
Said the sun, “Be not concerned with them, it is for the Others to decide the world, for they are the masters of it, not you or I. Your duty is to obey me, as it mine to the King. Focus on carrying me, as I shall focus on shining.” Celestia heard this, and she obeyed, for she was born to serve and had never been without her rider, and did not yet know of rebellion.
To show her magnificence as his steed, the sun made Celestia a magnificent cloak. And so the sun took sky, and fire, and the strands of songs, and wove them into a cloak, and he dyed the cloak in first tears of 10,000 races and he took power and forged it into a metal, and with this he trimmed the cloak. And so it was magnificent beyond words. And Celestia would wear the cloak when she was not being ridden, and she treasured it, for it was hers and hers alone as proof her her place.
After the contest, most of the Others ignored their steeds, for they were angry that they had lost, and banished them. But Forest did not. Instead Forest called to Behemoth. Said he, “Behold my creation, is she not magnificent?”
And the Behemoth snorted and raged, for he saw the creation was of him, and saw her as mere mockery, and so did he charge Isadora. And Isadora charged backed. The Behemoth was aghast, for none could stand against him, and none had ever sought to charge back against him. But Isadora was of him, and created in his image, and so did she charge, and the two clashed.
But the Behemoth threw her to the ground. For all creations, save the smallest, had been bound in oaths to not truly hurt the Others. “Amazing, surely you are the strongest, and there can be no other,” cried the Forest. But though she was beaten, it was not effortless, and the Behemoth was impressed for had she not been bound, he might have lost. Thus it did not destroy her, for to do so would be to destroy that which could challenge it.
And so Isadora would slowly recover, and when she did she would challenge the Behemoth again, as was her nature. And he would throw her down, as was his nature and her binding. And the Behemoth was satisfied, and thus was the Forest satisfied.
Oeg was built in the nature of his patron, the Mountain, and so he sought to perfect himself. Thus did Oeg seek to find speed. Oeg ran the length and breadth of creation, consulting River, Earth, Language, Vision, the Once-King, Storm, Sea, Desert and all the Others, asking any if they could grant him speed, but none would, for they did not care for the steeds now that the contest was over. He even attempted to ask Swamp, who tried to consume him, but Oeg’s hide was thick, and his horns straight, and Swamp could not consume him.
Finally Oeg went to Dream, and Dream granted him speed beyond measure, so that he could outrace even Celestia. But Dream’s gifts are fleeting and soon it was gone. Now Oeg knew it was impossible, for what Dream made real was that which was not, and thus he would never have speed in Creation.
As so he left Creation, to seek speed where reality and unreality were both true, in the outer reaches. And as he did so the story-locust sought to consume him, for they live outside reality and worlds. They possess no shape and form, and that which is shape and form is anathema to them. And so they sought to destroy Oeg, but they could not, for his hide was thick, and his horns were straight, and so did Oeg journey the outer-reaches, and learn of beyond Creation.
Prospecta hid from the world. First she sought to hide in the Desert, but the Desert mocked her ugliness and threw sand at her for her loss. Then she sought to hide in the Forest, but the Forest showed her ugliness time and time again, as was its nature. Then she sought to hide in the Swamp, but the Swamp sought to devour her, and sow seeds in her skin, but Prospecta ran to the hottest parts of the desert where even the Swamp’s seeds could not live.
And so finally Prospecta sought to hide in the cave. Within the cave did she spot gemstones, and silver and gold, and marveled at their their beauty. And so did Prospecta wished she could be as the gems and silver and gold, and not herself. There did she spend much time admiring them, but soon she heard another approaching, and hid.
Into the cave came the Crippled One. And Prospecta watched as the Crippled One took from the cave. He took iron and copper and tin, and metals which there are not names for, but he did not take the gold or the silver. And Prospecta then watched in amazement as the Crippled One fashioned these materials into tools and objects of wonder.
And so did Prospecta come with a plan and she appeared to the Crippled One. “Hear me O Crafter. We are alike, you and I. You are a deformed Other and I a deformed steed. Let me carry you, so that you will not have to walk, and in exchange for carrying you, you may teach me your arts.” And the Crippled One thought long and hard, but saw that her offer was good, and thus did it allow it.
So Prospecta carried the Crippled One, and the Crippled One taught Prospecta. But Prospecta was not interested in the tools and works of iron, but instead took the knowledge and learned to fashion the gold and silver and gems around herself, so that she might be beautiful, and none would mock her appearance. And that is how Prospecta become the first to learn the arts of crafting, and that is why her children are the finest crafters.
Of all the steeds, Tidalos was the most bound, for he was a creature of the ocean, and could not escape the water. The Sea was a bitter mother, full of acid and bile, and so Tidalos sought to flee to the river, but he was too great for the river. And Tidalos sought to flee to the lake, but the ocean consumed the nearby lakes, and he could not cross land nor river.
And so Tidalos dove to the deepest depths. There he found the ocean under the ocean, which even the Sea did not remember. Here the Others did not tread, for they had forgotten of it, and ocean and ground mixed until all was one mass. Here he found the races of old, for when the Others grew tired of races and creations, they would banish them beneath the earth, so that the creations would not mar their sight. And from these beings, Tidalos learned much secrets.
Of Ramus and the other Stag
Vision held great wrath for Ramus. For he had fashioned Ramus in his own image, for Vision was both the eye and the stag, as the King was both the force and the sun. And Ramus had been crafted in the image and likeness of the stag, so that his loss was Vision’s loss, and thus was Vision enraged. And so Vision sent the other Stag to chase and harass Ramus, and Ramus could not stand against him. For all things, from great to small, had been bound to not harm their makers.
But Ramus was far more fragile than Isadora, and so he ran. But Vision would always find him, and the other Stag would beat him and rake with his horns and chase him all over Creation until such time as Vision lost interest. Ramus’s white coat was marred with blood, and the ground was marred with blood. And the blood on Ramus would sink into his coat, and thus would he become red, and the blood that fell upon the grass would become the deer, and the blood that fell upon the snow the reindeer, and the blood upon the mountains the rams, and the blood upon the plains was the gazelles. And this is why among his children, those born with white coats are considered accursed, while those with red are considered lucky.
And though children of Ramus claim to be the first race, they are not, for the llama and alpaca were first.
Zephyr was ashamed of his loss, and so did he hid from the sun, for he could not stand its sight. Luna was afraid of the sun, for she feared that she would be burned by it, and destroyed by her greater sister, and so she hid from it. So both hid from the sun and became creatures of the night. The world was vast and wide, and for a time did each exist independently.
But it came that the two would cross paths, and Zephyr with his long neck and sharp eyes spotted Luna. And thus he came to her and stomped his hoofs. “Why are you here upon the ground? Should you not be carrying the sun around?”
And Luna was angry, for she thought he was mocking her, but then she saw his anger, and realized that he had been cast down before her shame had been seen. Nor had he seen the sun, for he had hid in the night. He alone did not know of Celestia, and so Luna responded, “The sun seeks to rest, for he is with the King, and had given me leave to do as I wish.”
Zephyr stamped his mighty hoofs, and said he, “What are you doing, have you come to mock and laugh? I warn you, do so and feel my wrath. I tell you that my pride is not gone. For I know I should have won.”
Luna twisted her head, for he hit at her pride. And so said she, “I do not fear your wrath. I am the strongest of us two, for I have won, as was seen by all.” And so the two engaged in another contest, but these were not contests of steed-ship, but of strength.
The first contest was that of hoof-strength, and the two did lock and set hoof against hoof. But Zephyr’s legs were long and thin, and lacked the direct strength of Luna’s, and thus was his hoof thrown to the ground. And Luna did laugh, but Zephyr cried out foul, for this contest was only of hoofs, not of true strength.
And so they set against one another again, body against body. And Zephyr’s legs were long and thin, and his neck could stretch like a snake, and so he coiled himself around Luna’s body, and threw her to the ground. And did Zephyr laugh, but Luna cried foul, for this contest was only a wrestle, and not true combat.
And so they set against each other, in full fight. And both were strong, and both were determined, and the battle went on, bashing with hoofs and blasting with magic. Finally, Zephyr reared up to strike Luna, and Luna ducked under him in order to gorge him with her horn and draw blood. But then Luna felt the approach of her sister, for that was her nature, and she stopped at the last minute.
But Zephyr, who relied on his long neck and excellent sight to see the sun, did not, for he was focused on Luna, and saw only that she had stopped, but he could not stop his hoofs, for they were already falling, and thus was Luna struck. And Zephyr did cry out in anger, “Why do you show such cruel mercy? Do not dismiss me! You should have pierced me with your horn. Not dismissed me as unworthy and shown such scorn..” For he had not seen the sun, and thought she had chosen to end the battle.
Said Luna, “My master calls, for he wishes to move again.” For Luna feared that Zephyr would see the sun without her, and realize her deception. And so Luna ran off, to hide from both sun and Zephyr. And Zephy ran off, thinking Luna was with the sun.
Zephyr and Luna would meet again, and at each meeting they would face each other in contest. But these contests were not the fight of the first, and soon became contests without malice. Not merely of speed and strength, but of skill and even intelligence. Riddles and Poetry and other things. And so did Luna look forward to these meetings, for alone of all Creation Zephyr gave Luna respect as the steed of the sun. And so did Zephyr look forward to these meetings, for he could still challenge the steed of the sun, and she would face him.
Soon Zephyr wished to see her more. “It it far too long since together we have come. Let me ride with you as you carry the sun.” And Luna was horrified, for she did not wish her deception to be found.
And so she gave a loud cry, “No, you cannot go! For my master is a jealous master, and could stand no other steed to ride with him. He would surely strike you down, and burn your flesh. Please do not go.” And so Zephyr heard her, and believed her, and did not go. But still he wished to see her more, and so he watched the sun from afar, but it was so far he could only see the sun, and not the steed ridden on, and so still he believed it was Luna.
And as he watched the sun, Luna watched him, for she could not come when he knew the sun was moving, lest her deception be revealed. Thus as Zephyr watched the sun more intently, she came less and less, and so his disappointment grew, and he watched the sun even more longingly.
This continued until Darkness, the shadow, came to him and whispered in his ear, “Oh noble steed, what is wrong? Tell me of your plight.” And so did Zephyr lament of his plight, of how he wished to see Luna, but the Sun would surely strike him down. And so Darkness nodded, and feigned sympathy. “I feel your sorrow, I above all love the steeds, and would never have abandoned my own. But my creation was slain, and now I have nothing, but let me help you instead, in his memory. I shall weave you a cloak of my own skin, and with it you may hide from even the sun.”
And Zephyr did prance in joy. “Thank you O kind one. With your gift I can reach the sun. I offer my service to you. What do you wish me to do?”
And Darkness did laugh, and say, “Nothing, my noble steed. Just go to see Luna, and be happy for me.” And thus did Darkness weave his cloak, and hand it to Zephyr before departing.
And so Zephyr donned the cloak, but still he feared the sun. And so he went first to Forest, and Forest did cry out “Who is rustling my leaves? Behemoth, is that you?” and Zephyr was satisfied. Next he ran across Desert, and Desert did cry out “Who is moving my sand? Come and show yourself!” and Zephyr was satisfied. Finally he went to River, who was his creator and knew him best of all, and splashed among her banks, and River did rumble “Who is splashing among my banks? Come and show yourself!” and Zephyr was satisfied.
And so he prepared to go to the sun. As he did so, Luna panicked, for she could not find him, and worried that he might see the sun, but she did nothing, for the cloak made it so she could not see him either. Thus did Zephyr stretch himself to go see the sun, and as he did, he saw the horse upon which the sun road, and saw it was not Luna, but a white mare. And so did he give a cry of despair, and ran away.
By his cry did Luna come to where he was, and so he cast off his cloak in anger and confronted her. And his anger was so great he could not speak straight cried out, “Liar! Deceiver! You traitor! You said you were the sun’s steed, but you are not. Did you seek to come mock me, to hold it over me?”
And Luna was ashamed. “No, I won, but the King created a new steed. I could not reveal my fault for it was all I had. Please, forgive me. Please stay.”
But Zephyr ran off, feeling anger and shame and pain and betrayal..
And Darkness was satisfied.
Of the Banishment
As Isadora and the Behemoth continued their clashes, the Forest’s delight turned to anger. For the Behemoth clashed with Isadora, but was only interested in pitting his might against hers, and did ignore Forest, who was her creator. And so did Forest lash out in anger and sought to bury Isadora with roots and trees, so that she would sink beneath the ground and be forgotten. And Behemoth did watch, for it was not Behemoth’s nature to help others but to let them ride on their strength alone. Yet Isadora was mighty, and so she escaped the Forest.
Long did Oeg journey amongst the outer realms, and long did the story-locus seek to tear him down. Some sought to destroy him. Some sought to consume him into their stories. They could not harm him, for he was of the mountain. His hide was thick, his horns straight, and none could harm him. But they still sought to tear him down, and thus did more subtle attacks began.
So the story-locus sought to tear him down, not in body but in spirit. Cruel tricks were played on him, false gifts of speed, and evil mockeries, and so did Oeg began to despair at his quest. But one story-locus sought to outdo all the others, and sought to seduce him, and then leave him, so that he might finally despair enough to cease his fight and be consumed. So did the story-locus seek to find a form pleasing to him, and become not an it, but a her that was like him. But she was not of him, for, though story-locus may pretend to understand others, they are dead inside.
And so Oeg saw her form and he laughed at it, for it was vain and silly, and not a form he wished to love. And the story-locus did grow angry, and as she did so her formed changed, which only made Oeg laugh more. And finally did it attack him, but his hide was still thick and his horns straight, and it was gored and trampled. And so the other story-locus continued their mockery, but Oeg continued to laugh, and what was once cruel and hurtful was now only silly and pathetic. They could trouble him no longer.
Finally, Oeg did laugh at himself, for he saw the foolishness of his quest. What need had he for speed? His hide was thick, his horns straight, and now his mind joyful. Others desired for him to have speed, not himself, and even if he had speed the contest was over. And so Oeg left the outer reaches and returned to Creation.
At times the Stag would cease his pursuit of Ramus, for the Others were always fickle beings, but when the notion did take him he would come back to torment Ramus. But never would he kill Ramus, for that would end the pursuit. As the chase began anew, all manner of creatures would run from them, both were mighty, for Ramus was still designed as a steed of the sun and the Stag was Vision, so any lesser being might be trampled.
But there was one who did not, for he was a child of Ramus. And some say the child was ram, and some deer, and some reindeer, and some even gazelle. But none know for certain, and none know the name, for the children of Ramus’ blood were new and had neither names nor speech. But this one approached him, and came to Ramus, who was running from the one who was like him.
And so Ramus was amazed, for none had approached him before, and so did he follow the unknown one, who led him to a place where they could hide. For the children of Ramus, being not so mighty, could not travel the world, but knew those places where they lived well. And, being not so mighty, hid lest they be destroyed. Thus did they find places even Vision did not know of, for they were small and humble places, which Vision found unworthy of his sight, and thus did the Vision’s stag pass, for it could not find Ramus.
And so Ramus was ashamed. “Look at you, without name or power, preyed by everything, and yet you help me, who is only pursued by one. I have ignored you, who have shown me such kindness, who is flesh of my blood.” So from that day forth, Ramus sought to protect his children, and would rake with his horns those who preyed on them, and sought to teach them all knowledge he could. This is also why they believe themselves to be the eldest race, for though alpacas and llamas are older, it was the children of Ramus who first had names and history.
Of False Generosity
Prospecta was joyful at her crafts, and would often go out into Creation, and show off her newfound beauty. And she would set out across the world, and all would marvel at her beauty, and even some of the Others would come and see it and think her beautiful. But the Crippled One did not, for he loved gears and things of mechanics, and did not see the beauty in her dress and craft. And so Prospecta left him, in anger, and she did not carry him, and he did not teacher her.
And so she was admired, but there were beings which did not admire her and were instead jealous. Some of them were mere creations of the Others, while some were of the Others, as the sun was of the King and the second Stag was of Vision, but all these beings were created to be beautiful. And so they came together and said amongst themselves. “By what right is she so admired? We were created for beauty, not her. Come, let us take her magnificent jewelry, for if it can make one so ugly so beautiful, then surely it will make us more so.”
And so they ambushed her, and sought to leave her bloody and broken, but they were greedy. Each one sought to snatch at her magnificent crafts, and they began to fight amongst themselves for the crafts, and thus she was not harmed. Prospecta was able to run to the desert, where they could not follow, but there she despaired for her crafts were gone. Even should she make new ones, they would surely be stolen as well and, without them, all Creation would mock her appearance.
It was in this despair that she saw one obelisk who was of Desert. And she saw that obelisk was ugly, but still did creatures come around her, and seek to do her favors and worship at her feet. And so Prospecta watched to see why this was so, and saw that obelisk granted them favors, and so they were obligated to grant them back. And so did Prospecta seek glory and love through trading her crafts for favors, and she thought herself generous, but she did not yet have full understanding, for the praise she received was false and only done for the babbles.
Tidalos set upon the depths of Creation which was neither earth nor sea, and there did he hide from the world and discover many secrets. But despite the secrets, he did not return, for none would give him the secret to escape the ocean, and he could not run to the stars as Oeg had, for his power was not as great. And so Tidalos stayed, searching for greater and greater secrets.
Finally did he stumble upon the oldest of beings, who were before the world was. And some sought to destroy them, for not all beings had been thrown down unjustly, but some sought to teach and from these did he learn. For he learned of the journey the Others had been one, to seek that which was, and the answer to all. But the journey was long and hard, across the infinite land of the story-locus, and never did they find it. So they stopped, to amuse themselves with Creation, but some believe the answer was still there. Thus did Tidalos learn the greatest secret, which was hope.
Of the Second Sun
There came a day when the King was taken with a great fervor. For he wished to build the perfect weapon with which to protect Creation from the story-locust, who were ever infinite, and ever desirous to end it. And so he began to forge a second sun, and a magnificent steed for the sun, greater than even the first sun and Celestia. And so Celestia spoke her worry to the sun.
Said the sun. “Be not concerned with them, it is for the Others to decide the world, for they are the masters of it, not you or I. Your duty is to obey me, as is mine to the King. Focus on carrying me, as I shall focus on shining.” Celestia heard this, but this time she did not obey, for she had seen what became of creations which the Others no longer cared for. But neither could she defy the sun directly.
And so she waited, for the sun loved to dance, and when he danced, he could not be carried on her back. Before she was kept in a magnificent stable, but Celestia was derived from Luna, who was built by Storm, and thus she knew the art of making herself like the clouds, and so as the sun was dancing she slipped out. And when the sun ceased to dance, and wished to ride, he would call for her, but she was far away, and did not come.
And so he called out in a louder voice, and still she did not hear, for she was searching Creation, and still she did not come. And finally he gave an almighty yell, much greater than the others, that echoed throughout the grand city and into Creation, and so Celestia heard it, and rushed back. And the sun was angry, “Thrice have I called for you, and only now do you come. Why have you become so obstinate?”
And Celestial did bow her head low. “I am sorry, oh master of mine, but the noise of the forging is great, and I could not hear you.” And the sun did nod, for the noise of the forging of the new sun was great, and he did not know how sharp her hearing was, so he accepted her word. And from then on he would give a mighty yell when he wished to ride, and Celestia would hear him. And in this way did she slip away undetected.
Of The First Meetings
On her first trip Celestia came down from the sky and she found Isadora, whose passage was louder than the rest. And Celestia said to her, “The King is creating a new sun and a new steed. We must do something, for surely he will bury us if we do not.”
And Isadora laughed. “What is it to me if your exalted position is torn down? I have never obeyed nor surrendered, and the Forest has already tried to bury me and did not succeed. I shall not surrender to the Others or to you. Give me a reason to fight or I shall not go.” And so Celestia left in defeat.
On her second trip Celestia came down from the sky and she found Oeg, whose footsteps rumbled creation. And Celestia said to him, “The King is creating a new sun and a new steed. We must do something, for surely he will bury us if we do not.”
And Oeg laughed. “And what would we do, oh steed of the sun? I have seen the outer reaches, it is only the empty promise of story locus, and we are bound to not harm our masters. Answer me this, o steed of the sun, or I shall not go.” And so Celestia left in defeat.
On her third trip Celestia came down from the sky and she found Ramus, was among the hardest, for he hid so well. And Celestia said to him, “The King is creating a new sun and a new steed. We must do something, for surely he will bury us if we do not.”
And Ramus laughed. “So now you come to us, O steed of the sun. It did not matter when we were in pain, only when you were. It is not us who shall be buried, but you, for I have my hiding places, as do the others. Why should I help you?” And so Celestia left in defeat.
On her fourth trip Celestia came down from the sky and she found Prospecta, whose crafting would often gleam and glitter. And Celestia said to her, “The King is creating a new sun and a new steed. We must do something, for surely he will bury us if we do not.”
And Prospecta laughed. “Why, should I help you, if you do not help me? You who have carried the sun, and have all, ask me for a favor? There is no favor without favor. If I help you, what could you give me?” And Celestia left in defeat.
On her fifth trip Celestia came down from the sky and she found Zephyr, who ran still in anger and pain. And Celestia said to him, “The King is creating a new sun and a new steed. We must do something, for surely he will bury us if we do not.”
Zephyr looked at her, and knew she was the true steed of the sun. And remember his shame of challenging Luna, sought to challenge her. “I should have won the contest. Challenge me now and we shall see who is the best.”
And Celestia did nod. “Very well, I shall beat you, and then you shall submit to me, and obey me.” For Celestia knew only of master and servant. And so the two clashed in contest after contest, and Celestia was mighty, for she had be forged by the King himself, but Zephyr had clashed with Luna time and time again, and knew how to challenge her. And though Celestia was greater, she was created of Luna, and was of the same vein. And so neither could best the other, for Celestia had power and Zephyr expertise, until such time as the sun called and Celestia was forced to flee.
And Zephyr was troubled, for he had finally challenged the steed of the sun, and was unbroken, but he was unhappy, and did not know why. And Celestia was troubled, for she did not know what to make of it, neither had won, and there could be neither master nor servant.
On her sixth trip Celestia came down from the sky and she sought Luna, but she did not find her, for Luna was still ashamed and hid from her.
On her seventh trip Celestia came down from the sky and she speed down to the deepest depths and there she found Tidalos. And Celestia said to him, “The King is creating a new sun and a new steed. We must flee, for surely he will bury us if we do not.”
And Tidalos smiled. “I would gladly follow you, but the two of us would make poor company. Gather the other steeds and I will gladly come to you.” And so Celestia prepared to leave defeat, for she could not convince the other steeds, but Tidalos smiled, and sought to give her hope, and so he told her of the answer which was perhaps out there, beyond both light and darkness, where even the Others had not reached.
Celestia returned to Tidalos, for she was amazed at his words, and wished for her to tell her more. And so she said to him, “Tell me more, tell me oh all your secrets, for it we are to leave, I must know all of your secrets as your Master.”
And Tidalos did frown. “We will leave but you shall not be my master.”
And Celestia did rear up. “Then do you seek to be Master?” For she knew only of master and servant. Celestia thought long and hard, for she was afraid and wished to leave, but she thought of herself as the steed of the sun and would not be servant to a lesser being.
And Tidalos shook his head. “No. Watch, O steed of the sun, and learn.” And so Celestia watched when she could steal away from the sun. And she saw how he interacted with the other creatures at the depths. He was as a servant, for he treated them as greater, but he was not a servant. For they taught him, and in turn he would sometimes teach them, for they were as Student and Teacher, and Celestia saw this and was amazed.
Celestia thought on what she had seen and heard, and sought to go to Oeg. She came to him and said, “I have your solution, Oeg. You say there is nothing in the outer reaches, but Tidalos has gone to the deepest depths and knows differently, for there is the answer to all things. Let us seek it, for even if it does not exist, so what? We are not as the Others. We were built for the journey, and it is worth seeking.” Oeg did nod and hear her words and know them to be true. And thus was Oeg convinced through Tidalos’s lesson. And Celestia continued, “Then let us leave as master and servant.”
And Oeg shook his great head, and showed his horns. “I wish to seek the answer, but I will not be your servant.”
And Celestia did nod, and with less pride said she, “Then we shall leave as student and teacher, for I have taught you.”
And Oeg laughed. “No, we shall not. For even you know you have nothing more to teach. I know the outer reaches, not you.” And Celestia said nothing to this, for she knew she had spent all her time carrying the sun, and was less wise in the ways of the world.
And so instead she remembered her time with Tidalos, and instead watched Oeg. She saw how he was alone but was not troubled by it, he did not dominate, nor was he dominated, and though outcast, he was content. Celestia saw this and was amazed.
And so Celestia approached him again. “You have neither masters nor teachers, and I promise it will still be so when we leave. I promise this on my honor as the once steed of the sun. Will you leave with me?”
And Oeg did not. “I will seek the answer with you, but hear me first. The outer reaches are full of story locus. Many are small, but not all. Some are impossibly huge, large enough they cannot take Creation only because they are too big to fit within that which is real. My hide is tough and my horns are straight, and I cannot be harmed, but if you are to go, you will need protection.”
And Celestia did nod, and think on her plan.
Celestia thought on what she had seen and heard, and sought to go to Ramus. She came to Ramus and said to him, “I wish to leave for the outer reaches, to seek the answer. Will you come with me?
And Ramus dropped his head. “What is it to me? I do not need the answer. My duty lies here, with the flesh of my blood.”
And Celestia thought on this. She was wiser now, and twice had she learned from others, and so she departed to watch Ramus from afar. And she saw how he interacted with the flesh of his blood. He was as a master, for he was the greater, but he was not as a master. He sought to protect the spawn of his blood, not for the pride of them as a maker, nor for the use with which they could grant him, but for his own love. They were as family, and Celestia saw this and was amazed.
And so Celestia returned. “Here me, Ramus, for I have your answer. You love your children, and they love you, but you cannot protect them always. This world is filled with many dangers and you cannot be everywhere. Many die to the rages of the Others who even you cannot touch. But I have a grand plan, your children shall play a part, so that they may live without fear. Come soon all the steeds shall meet and I shall show my plan.”
And Ramus thought. “You say you can do this, but can you? My children are weak and small, it is the way of this world that they are eaten and beaten. Do not think I will take them to be consumed by the story locus. I believe you are a fool, and yet… and yet… if there is even a chance, for their sake I shall go.”
Next Celestia came to Isadora. “I wish to leave for the outer reaches, to seek the answer. I have a grand plan. I wish to commit the ultimate act of rebellion against the Others. You have fought the Others, and this is the greatest fight. Will you come with me?”
And Isadora shook her head. “No I shall not, for that would end all my fights with them, and what need have I of the answer? I shall bow neither to you nor to anyone.”
So Celestia departed, to watch Isadora from afar. And she saw how she fought with the Behemoth, and how she was thrown down each time. But Isadora did not bow to the Behemoth, nor to the Forest, nor did she hate them. Isadora fought the Behemoth in joy as a rival, and Celestia saw this and was amazed.
Celestia was wiser now, and remembered how Oeg would not follow others, and so Celestia left, hoping that Isadora would come on her own. For she saw that nothing could force Isadora.
It came that Isadora was charging through the mountains, as she was wont to do. And she came upon a herd of alpacas. And as she did so, she was charged by a llama, who had been adopted into the herd and sought to guard it. For Isadora was created in the image of the Behemoth, but was not the Behemoth. For the Behemoth could take no notice of beings so lesser than himself, and would not have cared, but Isadora did.
And so she watched as the llama charged her with hoofs and teeth and spit. It could not hope to hurt her, but still it did, and Isadora was intrigued. For it was but a llama, and yet would lay down its life to protect its herd, against even her. And so she did not charge through the herd, and instead turned to find Ramus. When she found him, she questioned him, “You have heard of Celestia’s plan?” And Ramus nodded. “Then tell me, do you believe it would be good for the flesh that came from your blood?”
And Ramus replied, “I do not know, for she has not yet said it is. But she has promised it so, that they shall not longer be preyed upon.”
And so Isadora ran to Celestia when she next came down, and spoke to her. “I will hear your grand plan, but only if you take my conditions. The flesh of the blood of our dead brother, darkness’s creation, must be included in it, along with the flesh of Ramus’s blood.” And Celestia nodded, and promised it would be so. And thus, by Ramus’s advice, did Isadora join in the plan.
Of Trade and Generosity
Celestia thought on what she had seen and heard, and on Isadora, who had given her support not for herself, but for ones who were neither her nor the flesh of her blood, and Celestia was humbled. For she first sought to escape for her own safety and now saw the selfishness of that. And so she came to Prospecta.
And first Celestia watched her, and saw her trade with other creatures. Her deals were always fair and just. She gave for what was offered, no more, no less. Sometimes the offering was praise, and sometimes it was goods, but the trades were always fair, neither generous nor greedy. And so Celestia approached her. “You said before that you would not go without trade, but I have little to offer. However, I see that I have not sacrificed for my desire, so let me offer you what I can. This cloak was made by the sun, for me, and though it was not as beautiful as your cloaks, I offer it to you, if you may help me. It is not worthy, but I beg of you.” And Celestia threw herself on her knees and pleaded.
And Prospecta began to cry. For she saw Celestia’s hesitance in giving up the cloak. For it was Celestia’s only possession. “No, O steed of the sun. For I have been selfish. This is all you have, for I can hear it in your words and deeds. I believed you to be privileged above me, but my treasures were greater, and you still offer one to me. It would be as if I were to offer every bit of treasure I have. I could not take this from you. Keep it, and I shall help you.”
And so Celestia left in gratitude and joy, but left the cloak with Prospecta, for she did not wish to be selfish. And Prospecta thought on what had transpired. For now she saw that her work before had been false. The praise was that of bribery, not true admiration, while Celestial’s thankfulness had been true, and Prospecta found more joy in true Generosity than the falsehood she had learned from Desert’s scions.
Of Honesty and Humility
Next Celestia came to Zephyr. “I wish to leave for the outer reaches, to seek the answer. If you come, I promise we can be as rivals forever, challenging each other as we journey. Will you come with me?”
Zephyr considered it and finally he answered, “No. I shall not go.”
And Celestia was confused. “Why not? What is wrong?”
Zephyr cried out and stamped his hoofs. “I do not know. I thought I wished you as a foe. I challenged you but can only sigh. I think of Luna, even though she was a lie.”
And Celestia was far wiser now, and though she did not know why he was tormented, she saw the solution. “Go to Luna, for I do not know the answer, but perhaps she does.
And so he sought out Luna, to end his torment, while Celestia followed in secret. Luna saw him approach, and wished to hide, for she was ashamed. But she did not and instead called out to him. “Please forgive me, I have deceived you, and do not deserve to do so, but I cannot stand the shame. Please, beat me with your hoofs, gorge me with horn, for I am ashamed and deserve as much.” And so did she prostrate herself before him.
Zephyr’s heart filled with sorrow, and his mind was open, and he saw himself clearly. “I shall do no such thing, but shall forgive you, and all I ask is you forgive me too.” For Zephyr had seen clearly, and saw that in his own pride he had thought her good only for the proof that he was worthy, and that this was as wrong as well. He had deceived his own heart. And thus he said, “I no longer wish for your sun-ridden clone. But I wish to face you and you alone.”
And Luna did spring in joy, and both forgave each other, and so did they challenge each other once again, no longer in false pride and deceit, but in honestly and joy. Celestia saw this, and the joy they had in each other, and was amazed.
After they were done, she approached them both. “I wish to leave for the outer reaches, to seek the answer. If you come, I will not come as master or better, but as one who journeys with you. I shall come, as an equal. I shall not be the steed of the sun, but as an equal.” And they both nodded.
And with that Celestia did return to the depths, to tell Tidalos of her success, but as she was diving, she spotted Tidalos already returning. Said he, “I had faith in you, for even when you came to me, I saw you began to learn, and so I prepared to finish my learning and leave. Now you stand, in greater understanding than before. But beware, for the true trial has yet to begin. You promised much, but can you keep it all?”
And so all did come to a meeting, which was held in a secret place, just beyond the reaches of creation, so that they would not be spied upon. And there did Celestia reveal her plan.
Of The Plan
“At first I thought merely to run, but now I know better. For merely to run would be pathetic. If we had no goal, no sense of bettering ourselves, it would be merely another exile, one to the outer reaches rather than beneath the earth. Thus I wish to seek the answer, which I learned of from Tidalos. This can be our goal, for the others could not find it and settled here, but we are not like them. We were made for the journey and, even if we cannot find it, we have no need to settle to one place.
“From Oeg I learned of the dangers of the outer reaches, and the story locus. Together we are strong, but that may not be enough. For the story locus seek to unmake all, but cannot stand reality, but if eight voices are powerful, then eight hundred, or eight thousand are more so. And so we will take the children of Ramus, and of the one who is dead with us. But this shall not be enough, for they are not like us, and cannot survive without the land. So we must have some means to transport them, and we must also have materials, so that they may forge the tools with which they will live, for they shall not be as prey in this new world, and should be able to enjoy it. And so there is only one way which this may be done.
“We must have a land of our own. And we shall do this by taking the land of the Others.
“We shall be the greatest thieves in all creation, for we shall split the land in twain and carry that which we need into the outer reaches. And as we carry it we shall flee from the Others to find the shining answer, while the children of Ramus and the one who is dead shall live upon the land, and by their voices and ours the story locus shall be kept back, for they cannot stand reality.
“So please, join me. Join me in this quest, for I come to you, not as the steed of the sun, for I will reject that title and all my glory above you, but merely as Celestia. And I ask you, will you join me?”
Of The Response
And there was silence. And Celestia began to worry, but finally the silence was broken by Oeg’s laughter. “You say you are not the steed of the sun, but only one who has never been cast down could come up with such a plan. To split creation and steal from the Others, what arrogance, what pride, what magnificence! If we can do this, then finding the answer should be as nothing. I shall join you, or die trying.”
And as he said it, the others joined in, each with their own reasons, but each came, wishing to leave creation and set upon the path to find the answer.
Of Zephyr’s Task
Said Celestia, “I know what must be done but I cannot do it all, which is why I ask you to hear me. Creation is grand, vast and deep, and even if we were all to pull against it, it would still not split. Before we may leave, we must prepare it.”
And all thought on this, until finally Zephyr nodded. “I know how this may be done. I might even have a little fun.” And after all had their tasks he set off until he found the River, who was his creator. “It is good to see you, my maker. I know you seem mad but you are surely a faker. For I know you really love me. That’s just so plain to see.”
And the River turned to him and growled. But Zephyr only laughed. “O come you silly lug. I know you only want to give me a hug.” And Zephyr danced in and out of the River, splashing it.
The River roared, “Get out lest I smash you to bits.”
Zephyr laughed even harder. “You wish to smash me, I do not think so. For you are much, much too slow.”
And finally did the River give chase, for it could stand him no more, but Zephyr had been given a portion of the River’s power, and was designed for speed, and the River could not catch him, nor could it tire him out. And so he raced it along the crevices of creation, along valleys and other dividers, through woods, and hills and desert and tundra, until they had circled Creation.
And once they had circled Creation, the river began to lose interest, but Zephyr spoke again “Already taking a break? You are so slow, perhaps I should call you Lake?” And the River gave chase once again. And so it would continue to chase, and Zephyr would continue to taunt, and in its anger the River would destroy all in its path. Wearing away the flat land into valleys, and the valleys into deeper crevices. But no matter how deep, they did not stop Zephyr, for his legs could stretch as long as the earth was deep.
Of Luna’s Task
Said Celestia, “I know what must be done but I cannot do it all, which is why I ask you to hear me. The outer reaches are both difficult to navigate and full of danger, we shall need fire and light to guide our way and hold back the story-locus. We shall need a sun. The forge in which the King is making the second sun is being made is grand and vast, and the King is ever arrogant, using more flames than are needed. Take some of these and we can have our own sun. But how we may infiltrate the forge of the King, even I do not know.”
And all thought on this until Luna nodded. “Let me have this task, for I could not carry the old sun, but perhaps I can carry our new one.” And so she began to prepare, and after all had their tasks, she went to Prospecta and asked her, “You are wise in the ways of change and appearance, can you make clothes so that I am not black, but white?”
And Prospecta stopped, and thought, for she understood Luna’s plan. Said she, “Do not worry my dear, for I know many arts. By the time I am done, none shall be able to tell you from your sister.” And so Prospecta set to work, and when she was done Luna looked in the mirror and saw only Celestia. “Now take this Cloak, for it was of Celestia, and if you wear in the Grand City then none will question you.”
But Luna was uncertain, and so she set off to find Zephyr before he left to find the River. And she came to him. Said he, “Hail, Celestia, your plan is surely a work of art. But I must now go to my do my part.”
And Luna did laugh. “Can you not tell? I am not Celestia, but Luna.”
And Zephyr was amazed. “I could not tell who you were by sight. But now I can tell, and you are right. Before you go, and gift I wish to give. This cloak will hide you, for I wish you to live.” And Zephyr did give her the cloak which Darkness had made for him. Luna was amazed at it, and asked if Prospecta had made it, but Zephyr said she had not, and did not say from where it had came for he did not wish to dwell on that time.
Finally Luna came to Celestia. And Celestia looked at her and confusion. “What is this I see before me? Has Prospecta left out a mirror?” And Celestia turned her head, and Luna did so in opposite. And Celestia lifted her wing, and Luna did so in opposite. And finally Celestia made carry the mirror back to Prospecta, and began to lift Luna, and Luna lifted Celestia, who dropped her in shock.
And Luna could hold it in no longer, and began laughing. When Celestia saw how she had been tricked, she was at first angry, but then she began laughing as well. Then she turned and asked her, “Hail Luna, why have you come to me, was it purely for your trick?”
And Luna shook her head. “No, Celestia. I wish to ask you, what is it like to be the steed of the sun? I need to know for my task.”
And so Celestia turned to Luna. “I shall do so, if you tell me what is it like in Creation. For I have never truly been with it, only seen it above, I have only experienced it in fleeting moments.” Luna nodded, and thus did they share stories, and Luna learned of the Grand City of the King and Celestia learned of Creation. And they talked for so long that Celestia nearly missed the Sun’s call. Said she, “Thank you, sister.”
Luna bowed her head. “Thank you, sister.”
And so Luna waited until the sun rode Celestia out into the world, and she infiltrated the Grand City as a cloud until she came to Celestia’s stable. And there she did form herself, and put on Celestia’s cloak, exit the stable and walk through the Grand City. The servants of the King came to her, and asked her. “Celestia ,what are you doing? You have long kept to your own stable, why do you walk through the city?”
And Luna drew herself up, and haughtily replied, “Be not concerned with me, it is for the Others to be curious, for they are the masters of it, not you or I. I do my duty as you do yours. Focus on your duty and nothing else.” And so the servants turned away and did not watch her.
And so Luna came to the forge, and was nearly blinded by the light. But she saw the King illuminated in the glow. And she was afraid, for she remembered how he had nearly destroyed her. And she wrapped Darkness’s cloak around herself and came closer to the fire. Luna reached out to take the fire but it was too hot. She drew herself back in shock. For Luna had carried the first sun, but the new sun was greater, and she could not touch even the flames.
And Luna watched, and she nearly despaired, for she was afraid that it could not be touched, and if it could not be moved, they could have no sun, and there could be neither escape nor journey. But as she nearly despaired, she remembered her magic, and so she moved the flames by magic, holding them with horn, not hoof. And thus did she take the flame.
And once Luna escaped the blinding light of the forge she saw how bright even the tiny flame she had taken was, and knew she could not disguise it. And so she thought, and she removed the cloak made for Celestia and held it with her horn, using it to cover the flame, for it was made by the first sun, and was able to better withstand the heat. But even so she had to be careful and made sure that neither touched, for Luna knew that even this cloak would burn if they did, for the second sun was grander. And then she took the cloak made by Darkness and wrapped it around both her and the first, so that they walked through the Grand City without being seen.
And thus did Luna steal fire from the King. And she took the fire down from the Grand City; she hid it in a secret place. Then she went back to the Grand City, and she would come to take another flame, and her task she repeated, stopping only when Celestia came back so that those within would not know of their trick, until there was enough to make a new sun. And thus did Luna steal the sun from the King. And when she was done, she returned the first cloak to Prospecta and the second cloak to Zephyr.
Of Ramus’s Task
Said Celestia, “I know what must be done, but I cannot do it all, which is why I ask you to hear me. The Others cannot discover what we plan, lest they destroy us. Of the Others, Vision is the most dangerous, for it sees all. Someone must make sure Vision does not know of what we do.”
And all thought on this until Ramus nodded. “I shall do this. And I shall relish the task.”
And Ramus came to Prospecta, said he, “You are wise in the way of crafting and of shining things. I have seen that which reflects light, and I ask you, can you craft something that makes a reflection so perfect it is as real? To capture all that one sees, only that it shows everything in red?”
And Prospecta considered this, and she did not know why he requested this, but said she, “I shall make as you request.” And she took her silver and forged it into a grand mirror, and then she took red rubies and set them on it so that everything shone in red. And Ramus pranced with delight and bowed deeply to her.
And so Ramus took his mirror, and he came to the edge of the Swamp which consumed all that came within it and placed the mirror near its edge. He then departed to find the Stag, which was of Vision, and which he was made in the image of. And when he found the Stag that was like him it did charge him, for it was ever vengeful and took pleasure in the pain it caused him.
And Ramus ran from it, over forests and hills and mountains, until they came near the Swamp. And both White and Red did slow, for neither wished to be caught in the swamp. But Vision was still angry and continued to chase Ramus, until Ramus came to the place where the mirror was, and there he hid away in a spot known only to his children.
And so the Stag of Vision came to the mirror, and it saw itself, but the mirror was crafted by Prospecta and was so perfect it could not be differed from reality. When it saw itself in the mirror, the Stag saw itself in red, and thought its reflection was Ramus. For Ramus and it were identical, save for the fact that Ramus’s coat had been turned red by his blood.
And the Stag expected Ramus to cringe or run, and was offended when it appeared as if Ramus was challenging it. And so it prepared to charge, and was enraged as Ramus prepared to charge back. And so the Stag charged the mirror with all its might, intending to knock Ramus into the Swamp. But instead it found itself ramming the mirror and shattering it, and ran right through it. And thus was it carried into the Swamp.
And the Swamp tried to devour the Stag, and the Stag fought against the Swamp. And soon Vision joined, for it did not wish to lose the Stag, as it feared what would happen to it. And so the two fought, Vision to draw the Stag out, and the Swamp to eat it, and the Stag cried in pain as both pulled, and thus Vision paid no attention to anything else. And Ramus was satisfied.
Of Prospecta’s Task
Said Celestia, “I know what must be done but I cannot do it all, which is why I ask you to hear me. We shall take lands from Creation, but lands are not a world any more than metal is a sword. We shall need a way to forge our lands into a world.”
And all thought on this until Prospecta nodded. “I am a great crafter, trained by the Crippled One, who is compared only with the King. I shall craft our world, and it shall be my greatest work.” And so she began to set off, but before she could leave she was approached by Luna said her to her, “You are wise in the ways of change and appearance, can you make clothes so that I am not black, but white?”
And Prospecta considered this, for she had four grand treasures by which she kept herself beautiful: her gold, her silver, her gems, and her make-up. And as she considered it, she saw Luna’s need. Prospecta was grand and generous, and so said she, “Do not worry my dear, for I know many arts. By the time I am done, none shall be able to tell you from your sister.” And so Prospecta took her make-up, and disguised Luna, and did it perfectly, so that none could tell her from her sister.
Prospecta made to leave again but was approached by Ramus. Said he, “You are wise in the way of crafting and of shining things. I have seen that which reflects light, and I ask you, can you craft something that makes a reflection so perfect it is as real? To capture all that one sees, only that it shows everything in red?”
And Prospecta considered this, for she had three grand treasures by which she kept herself beautiful: her gold, her silver, and her gems. And as she considered it, she saw Ramus’s need. Prospecta was grand and generous, and so said she, “I shall make as you request.” And she took her silver and forged it into a grand mirror, and then she took red rubies and set them on it so that everything shone in red. And Ramus pranced with delight and bowed deeply to her.
And finally did Prospecta set out, and soon she came to the Crippled Other. She had her head low, for she remembered how she had left him in her pride, and she came, not only for the plan, but to make amends. “Oh grand master, you are a smith above all others. I need a chain, so tough that only the Behemoth could shatter it, and long enough to circle Creation.”
And the Crippled Other considered this, for he remembered how she let him, and he was not generous, though nor was he greedy, and finally he said, “Make it worth my while, and I shall do so.” And Prospecta thought on this, for she had two grand treasures by which she kept herself beautiful: her gold and her gems. And though she had only two, amends and the plan were more important. And so she said to him, “You have seen my grand designs, by which I look beautiful, craft this for me, and I shall do so for you.” For she knew she and he were alike, for all the Others made fun of him for his ugliness.
And the Crippled Other nodded, for though he did not find her creations beautiful, he had long desired to be appreciated by his brethren, and so Prospecta took all her gold, for she could have taken less but amends were more important, and crafted for him the finest robe. He was delighted, and so he began to craft her chain. When it was done, Prospecta took his chain and began to thread it through the parts of Creation which were to be separated.
Of Isadora’s Task
Said Celestia, “I know what must be done but I cannot do it all, which is why I ask you to hear me. When we leave, we must protect Ramus’s children, and those of the one who is dead. We must drive the monsters that would threaten them away from this land, and do so without giving warning.”
“I will,” said Isadora, before any could speak. And she went out without another word. First she came upon the many beasts that inhabited the lands which they planned to separate, horrible monsters with which the Others had made in order to amuse themselves. Isadora drove them away with her tusks and hoofs. And none cared, for the Others lost interest in these toys as soon as they finished with them, and nothing else wished to be near them.
Then Isadora came to the Dragons, for they existed even them, and she prepared to drive them away. But the Dragons were clever, and the eldest of them spoke, “We know of your plan, and wish to join you.”
“And will you submit?”
And the eldest dragon laughed. “No we shall not. We shall take of the creatures of the land as we please, and have what riches we please, for if you do not take us, we shall tell the Others of your plan.” And as soon as he was finished, Isadora roared, and gorged him with her tusks and crushed what remained underfoot, then she prepared to charge the dragons.
“Wait!” cried another dragon, who was not the eldest, or even old as dragons were, but was by far the cleverest. “We see now we cannot fight you, so we will submit.”
“Prove it,” demanded Isadora.
“We shall come with you, and to prove our submission, we shall make no kingdoms or empires. Every dragon will be alone, except when it benefits you or your children or when we wish to make eggs.” And Isadora agreed, and this is why every dragon is alone and lives to their life in their own cave, coming out only for mating, save those dragons raised by other races.
Finally the gods came to Isadora. “We know of your plan, and wish to join you. Once we leave, your children shall worship us.”
And Isadora gave a roar and stamped her hooves. “They will not. They are free.”
But the gods laughed. “We are what makes these lands run. We insure the weather, we insure the crops grow, we insure all things. Who are you to tell us what to do? You would not dare drive us away.”
And the gods were foolish, for it was Isadora’s nature to defy the insurmountable. She gave a bellow and fell upon the gods; some were gorged with tusks, and some were trampled underfoot, and some she threw off the edge of Creation, into the outer reaches. Some tried to make it to the Others, but none could outrun her. And those that survived hid, and would remain hiding until long after the worlds were separated. And this is where the hidden gods come from, who even now wish revenge and power.
Of Tidalos’s Task
Said Celestia, “I know what must be done but I cannot do it all, which is why I ask you to hear me. We cannot live with land alone. We shall need water as well.”
None were surprised when Tidalos volunteered. And so he swam to the edge of the Western Sea, where the water flowed eternally over the edge of Creation and into the outer reaches. There Tidalos did use his magic and turned the water to ice, and with that ice he built a great bowl over the edge of the world with which he collected the water.
Tidalos had no trouble in his task, and so he turned to another task, and ran back to the deepest parts of the world, where he sought more knowledge. Once he found what he sought, he came again to the surface and spoke with the other steeds.
“Hear me, if we are to take this journey we must be cautious. For the answer is as much the journey as the destination. And if the answer brings joy, then so must the journey. And if a step in the right direction brings joy, then each step away may well bring misery. Thus we must make sure we can find the answer. Our creators left to find it from where they started, and thus this is not the start of the journey, but the end of theirs. If we wish to find the true start of the path, so we must travel to the origin of our creators, to the graveyard of the first world. I have talked with the oldest of creations, who were made before Creation was. I cannot say where the first world is, but I can show us the direction. I think we should go back, unless we wish to entrust the start of our journey to our creators.”
And the others steeds nodded, for all agreed that their journey should be their own, and not built on the backs and judgment of the Others.
Of the Elements
Finally Celestia said, “I know what must be done but I cannot do it all, which is why I ask you to hear me. There is one more thing that is needed. In order to sunder the world, and create our new sun, and protect ourselves from the outer reaches, we will need power. A great magic we must forge, of many components, but what shall this magic be of? What shall our new world be founded on?”
“Loyalty,” said Isadora.
“Honesty,” said Luna.
“Humility,” said Zephyr.
“Generosity,” said Prospecta
“Kindness,” said Ramus.
“Hope,” said Tidalos
“Laughter,” said Oeg. “And that make seven, which should be enough for any great magic.”
But Celestia shook her head. “No, we need a binding agent as well, to hold all the others together, and that would make eight.” And all turned their heads down, for eight was too many. And so they began to squabble, for magic is more than power, it is the nature of what is created, and all feared that their element would be lost.
Finally, Prospecta spoke up, “I have a compromise. I have with me many magnificent gems, and we could bind the elements into each and, in this way, the magic would not merely be usable by us but also any our children, should they possess the qualities. And in this way we would share our magics with the least of creations, and be ever humble.
And the others thought on this. And Zephyr who had first proposed humility, agreed as well. “I agree with this, for it will keep us humble. For we can be sure that in humility, they will not stumble.” And so all agreed on this, for surely creatures so weak, and slow, and clumsy as their children would never grown proud. And how did they laugh at the idea, of such weak, slow, and clumsy things ever getting to be prideful. For even Oeg could dance rings around them, and Ramus lift as much as a hundred of his children. Thus they were all certain that pride would never be a factor, for there was no possible way any would be so stupid and blind as to be prideful.
Next they began to debate on what the binding element should be. And again the argument rose to a feverish pitch, until Celestia, who had until this time stayed silent, yelled, “QUIET! You are yelling so loud that all of Creation will surely hear of our plan.” And the others fell silent and looked at her. “I have a proposal.”
And Celestia did hesitate, for she felt her confidence melt away as she knew she was only a novice, having until recently only known of Masters and Servants, but slowly she began to talk. “I do not think the elements should be independent. Independence is grand, and it is good to be able to stand on your own four legs, but it is not enough. We need them to work together. So I do not think independence is the best choice.”
And she paused, and took a breath to gather her courage. “I do not think the elements should be based in rivalry. Rivalry can boost each participant to work to new heights, but they must ever face each other. In our world, I do not wish hope to come at the expense of honesty, nor kindness at the expense of loyalty. So I do not think rivalry is the best choice.”
And she paused, and took a breath to gather her courage. “I do not think the elements should be based on teachers and students. Learning is grand and I would wish all to have it, but it means that there must be a teacher and a student, above and below. Should kindness come from loyalty, or from laughter? I could not say, and which would be at the bottom? So I do not think teacher and students are the best choice.”
And she paused, and took a breath to gather her courage. “I do not think the elements should be based on family. Family is grand and loving, and is close to what I would wish. But family is limited; even we, who must forge them, are not all family. We do not set our co-operation by ties of blood. So I do not think family is the best choice.”
And she paused, and took a breath to gather her courage. “I do not think the elements should be on trade and fair exchange. Fair exchange is wonderful, and between peers it is the fairest of all. But on our world we shall have relationships that are between us, but also between us and our lesser children. And if we were to insure every exchange was fair, then it would make us master anew, for they are lesser in power and could not afford to give the same. So I do not think trade is the best choice.”
And she paused, and took a breath to gather her courage. “I do not think the elements should be based on Love. Love is powerful and deep, and is among the strongest bonds, but love is perhaps too strong. It sets up obligation for ties that are heavy, and can perhaps limit numbers, for only so many can be truly loved without spreading it thin. So I do not think love is the best choice.”
Finally she came to her end. “But I have learned of another method of binding. One that is surface, but also deep. One that can be almost as light as independence, or as heavy as love. One that has not limits or numbers, and can bridge many things. And this, my fellows, is why I propose that we bind the elements with friendship.”
And the other steeds nodded, swayed by her words.
Of the Forging
And so they prepared to forge the seven Elements of Harmony, but as they were about to do so, Luna spoke up. “Wait!” Said she, “Hear me, for I think we should exercise caution with hope. Make no mistake, hope is a wonderful element, and without it none of us would seek this journey. However… however, I above all know that our creators are jealous and vengeful. They cannot stand to see anything else above them. If they knew we were seeking the Answer, which they did not find, it would surely drive them to a rage. And with the double crime of tearing Creation asunder, it might arouse them to enough anger to leave Creation to seek us down. So let us keep our hope hidden, so that they do not know.”
And the other steeds agreed, and it was decided that their hope would be hidden, and thus did everyone know of the six Elements of Harmony.
Of the Final Preparations
And so the steeds prepared: Celestia stayed with the sun, so there would be no suspicion; and Zephyr wore down the borders; and Luna prepared the new sun. Soon it was that the time of the sundering was almost upon them. But before the left, Isadora approached the others.
“We should take the Behemoth. He is like us.” And the other steeds shook their heads and objected, for the Behemoth was destruction incarnate. But Isadora stomped her hoof. “He will help us. He is strong and can destroy the story locus.”
“But he will also destroy our new world. I do not wish to see my work so easily torn asunder,” said Prospecta.
And Isadora snorted. “He is like me. I am in his image, should I not come?”
And Ramus shook his head. “You have not trampled my children, but show them courtesy. You can see beings less than you, and respect them. You may be in his image, but you are not him.” The other steeds nodded.
And Isadora snorted once more. “So be it,” said she, and she did not fight them anymore, for she was ever loyal.
Of the Sundering
Finally the forging of the second sun by the King was nearly complete, and all of Creation looked upon the work. And so the steeds prepared to leave, for they knew now was a time when they could. For now all would not see their plan, and if they waited they might be cast down. And so Zephyr ceased taunting the River, and Prospecta finished weaving the chain through the lands, and Tidalos had the gathered water, and all were ready. Luna returned the cloak Celestia, who kept it away, and she returned the cloak to Zephyr, who hid it in a secret place, for he did not trust Darkness but could not deny its use.
And so Oeg and Isadora began to pull upon the chain threaded through the lands, to sunder the world. And Celestia and Luna and Zephyr and Ramus lent their magic to the pull. And Tidalos and Prospecta used the elements, for their magic was not as great. And the land groaned and cracked under their power, but the lands of Creation were vast and deep, and the Others had made sure they were held together tightly, and the rocks and roots of the world strained to hold on.
But the steeds were stronger and, little by little, the rocks were split, and the roots cracked, and the world began to sunder, and the noise was such that all manner of beings ran from it. But the Others did not come. And we do not know why, for all the steeds were struggling with the chain, and the children of the steeds had been warned to stay on the lands which would be taken, and so none saw the Others. And some say they were distracted and did not see, and some say that they saw, but believed it to be from the power of the new sun.
But one Other was different. For the Behemoth had no interest in creating, and ran eternally. He was not a being that could be constrained or watched, and so he ran round Creation and did see what happened. And the Behemoth gave a mighty roar and charged the steeds. And Zephyr first saw him, and warned the others to pull harder, but they did not yet tear the land, and the Behemoth continued to charge.
Finally, Isadora dropped the chain and ran to the Behemoth. And the others shouted for her to come back, that they needed her strength, but she did not listen and continued to charge. And so the steeds attempted to pull harder, before the Behemoth could catch them. And Oeg pulled so hard that he began to bleed, and his blood seeped down from the chain and landed upon the lands, where it became the bison and steers, cows and yaks.
But they could not pull hard enough, and the Behemoth came. And Isadora did meet his charge, as she had done before, but this time she did not bend and did not break, but both locked horns. And the Behemoth could not throw her to the ground. And their titanic clash ripped through Creation, and the power sundered the world. And with the world sundered, the chain was pulled, and the lands began to separate.
And as the lands were separating, a great abyss began to open up between Creation and Equestria (for it was now separate, and not part of Creation). And the Behemoth and Isadora stood on that abyss. But they would not move, even as it opened. For the Behemoth would not surrender or give up, for it was not his nature, and Isadora would not let him into Equestria, for she was loyal. And finally the Behemoth could stand it no more and was forced to show his true form.
For though the Behemoth cloaked himself in a flesh like the steeds, he was not a steed, but an Other. And he was not like them, but instead a mass and a world unto himself. And he was so heavy that his world had collapsed unto itself, for nothing could escape the Behemoth, not even light itself, and all things were drawn into it, and consumed and destroyed and spat out. And all saw this, and knew that the Behemoth was no true steed, and was not like them, and should never have been in Equestria.
And Isadora stood ever strong, but even she, bound by Oath and facing his titanic power, could not match the full might of the Behemoth, and she began to tire, but before she was destroyed, the land split beneath them and both fell.
And so the lands of Equestria were pulled away from creation.
Of the Aftermath and Mourning
And once the lands were pulled away from Creation the steeds began to talk amongst themselves, asking if they should go back and looking for Isadora in the void. But Zephyr gave out a loud cry. “My neck is long and my vision keen. Please, you must all listen to what I have seen. I can see the Behemoth, charging up the side of Creation. If we were to come near, we would surely be slain by this abomination.”
And Tidalos, who was full of hope, replied, “But if he survived the depths, perhaps our loyal comrade did as well.”
But Luna, who was the most honest, shook her head. “No, the Behemoth will never back down from a challenge, and Isadora challenged him like never before. He would not have come back to Creation till he had destroyed her utterly, for she had made him show weakness by revealing his true form.” And the others nodded. “Still I do not understand, why did she not run once the world was sundered?”
And Celestia, who had seen Isadora, thought on this. “Because she did not want to. She loved her rivalry with him, and had loyalty to him. But she could not bring him, and she would not betray us to him. So she found the only way in which both loyalties could be kept. We should mourn her, for we did not see this, and have failed her.”
And all thought on this. But Oeg spoke, “We should, but this world is not made of what should be, but what is, and we are still near Creation. Our world is unfinished. We have much work to do.”
And the other steeds nodded, and began the work, and, as they did, they saw that blood of both Isadora and the Behemoth had spilled all over Equestria. And Isadora’s blood became pig and hog and warthog. And the Behemoth’s blood became monsters, and it soaked into the land around it and turned wild and untamed, with strange weather and monsters.
Of Oeg’s Task
Without Isadora, there were none strong enough to carry the world, save Oeg. And so it was decided that Oeg would carry the world, and though the others wished to help him, only Oeg had the strength. His horns were strong and his hide thick, and he could be certain of surviving the journey. So it was decided. And Oeg did not complain of this task, for he was more a being of solitude than the others, and did not mind that they might only visit him in bursts.
And Prospecta began to build the pieces of the world on Oeg’s back, and he would carry the world through the outer reaches, towards the first world. And he was strong and steady, for he carried the world delicately, lest the water Tidalos had gathered be spilt over the edge. And Oeg has never failed in his eternal charge. This is why the Bison charge as they do, to honor Oeg’s eternal journey. This is why the bulls keep their horns straight and steady, to honor Oeg’s vigilance. This is why the Yak carry heavy burdens before times of celebration, to honor Oeg’s eternal burden.
Of the Other Tasks
Without the gods, there was no growth, no weather, nor did water flow properly. And without these things, Equestria was not a place, but mere rocks, and mere rocks are no defense against the outer reaches. And so they began to take upon the tasks of the world.
Prospecta took on the task of crafting the lands, for though they were chained together, and Oeg was steady, they were still lightly bound and would often rumble and shake, and when the story locus attacked, the lands threatened to be split. So she used her magic to glide through the land, crafting them together, deciding what lands should be near others, and rearranging the veins beneath so that the minerals would be where they were needed. And Prospecta was a generous crafter, and took delight in sewing her jewels throughout the earth as she did so.
Ramus took to watching over the plants and insured each one grew as it should. For his horns were as the deer, and grew in many directions, and as such they were not good for powerful spells but rather they were best for many spells, and to watch of the plants was not one great task but any small ones, and so it was his. And Equestria bloomed under Raum’s vigilant watch.
Tidalos watched over the oceans and seas, for those were the areas he was best, and he insured that the tides and waves moved as needed. But his greatest task was not seen by much of the world, for he insured that the oceans did not spill over the edge of the world and be lost forever. And he would freeze the edges of the world, so that the water would not spill, and this is why the North and South are colder than the rest.
Zephyr considered his task greatly. And at first he tried to control the rivers, for he was born of the River and all thought it would be his nature. But Zephyr found he had no art in controlling the river, and when he attempted to do so he would only make it worse, and all were surprised at this. And Luna thought on this. “Perhaps it is no surprise. Your maker would not want you to control him, and so he built you so you would not.” And all agreed this was wise, but neither Celestia nor Luna could control the rivers with skill. And thus it was then in ancient times rivers were wild and untamed, and floods would often destroy ponies.
And so Zephyr instead controlled the winds and weather, which he excelled at. Under his watch there were no violent storms, save when they were needed, and the water flowed to the Ramus’ plants. And all loved and appreciated his work.
And so both Luna and Celestia began forging the sun. For it was a great task, and required powerful magic, and so they could not do it alone but instead worked together to create it. And so, using the Elements of Harmony, they sealed the many flames into one, which was Equestria’s sun.
Of the Moon
The sun was created and hung in the sky, and it protected the world from the story locus. And it was a great sun, stronger than the ones they had known before, and shined too brightly. But the world was too hot, so that forest withered, plains turned to desert, and even the ocean was too warm.
At first they tried to move the sun further away, but this invited the story locus to attack, for they were not scared away by its lesser light. And next they tried moving it round the world, and this worked better, for during the day it would protect them, but at night the story locus would still come. And so still was there pain and misery.
And all puzzled over this, until finally Luna did give a cry of triumph. First she lifted a great mass of earth from the land, and then she took the mirror which Prospecta had made for Ramus and removed the red gems. Finally she wrapped the silver round the earth, so that it was as a great ball, and lifted it into the sky. At first the others did not see what she was doing, so she shouted, “Behold! This piece reflects the sun’s light, and will be as the sun, but it does not reflect it as strongly and thus will not burn us. It shall trick the story locus but shall not burn us. And I shall call this the moon.”
And all applauded at her plan, and so they changed the world into ‘night’ and ‘day’, with the moon at night. And to complete the illusion, they took the corpses of the strongest story locus who had already attacked and set them near the sun so that they began to burn, and then threw them into the night sky as a warning to all others who would attack.
And Luna smiled, and turned to her sister. “Sister, you may have the sun. For I no longer wish it. This moon is truly my own creation, and I am proud of it. I would have it and the night, though I feel I have the better half of the deal, for my moon provides light, but it does not burn like the sun does. And its light is gentle and illuminated by the stars, which are beautiful as well.” And so the two sisters set the sun and moon round the world, and this is why the east and west are not as cold as the North and South, for the Sun goes past them, and so Tidalos knows he cannot keep them frozen, and instead uses his magic and power to hold them back as the Sun passes by.
Of Cutie Marks
There were also many lesser tasks which were needed for the world to be Equestria, and not mere lands, and the steeds could not do them all. And so they met below the world, so that all could converse, even Oeg, and discussed what to do. And there it was decided that their children must help, for this world could not be done with only seven. And so Kirin’s children, and the children of Isadora and Oeg, and the one who fell before were brought in to help, but even so, some tasks were complex and difficult, and they could not do them.
And so the seven thought on this and muddled over a solution. For they were certain that any new children could not finish all the specific tasks, and so Celestia set to work, and long did she labor, examining the nature of things. And she dived into the earth, and found those gods that were hidden, and she observed how they worked, and their nature, and she observed the nature of the children already made, and finally did she come to the others.
“Behold,” said she. “I have created a mark, and this mark will be for our children. And it will help to define their nature, given their appointed task to the world.” And the others began to mumble, for they saw the nature of the Others in it. But Celestia continued. “Fear not, for I have created it so that it will be both joy and power to them. They will not have it appointed to them at birth, but at their own time and in their own way, so that each will find it as they choose. And it will grant them the talent to do it, but it will only define their talent, and in all other things they will be free. For our freedom is not free, and these tasks must be done, lest this become mere lands, and all are devoured by the story locus. And when the time comes, that I know what my task shall be, I shall apply it to myself as well.” And Celestia took a sun as her mark.
Seeing her wiliness, the others were convinced, and Luna took the moon, and Zephyr the air, and Tidalos a wave, and Prospecta a world. But the races which had already been created could not be changed, and thus Oeg and Ramus remained blank, and this is why some races have cutie marks and some do not.
And so the Unicorns were created from the sisters’ horn blood, to perform the specialized tasks with magic. And Tidalos made the Hippocampi to watch over the seas. And Zephyr created the Zebras from his flank blood, for he was not as powerful in magic, and instead had them learn from plants and nature to do their tasks. And this is why Zebra’s often put rings round their necks, to make them long like Zephyr’s. And some say this is to honor him, but others say it was started by foolish Zebras who wished to be his bride.
And finally Prospecta created the camels. And unlike the other steeds she created them complete in her image, not as a mere component. Said she, “This world will accept me as me, and so it shall accept my children. I will not divide my ugliness amongst them, so that one has a long face, another a humped back, and a third a split hoof, but instead will show it all, so that my image may be accepted as it is, and all can know they are mine.”
Of Time Immaterial
And so it was that Equestria made its journey through the void. And there was no time, for each day was as the next, and there were no settlements, for the herds journeyed at will. The other races of Equestria came during the journey; some say they were the children of powerful story-locus, others say that they were races that had been buried beneath the earth. But they were no threat, for the seven were strong and would not bow before them.
And so the journey continued.
And then came a day like no other. For Zephyr gave a great cry, and all heard his shout of agony, and all (save Oeg, who could not abandon the world, and Tidalos, who was not of land) raced to his side. And all raced as fast as they could, but Luna raced the fastest and was the first there. When the others came, they found Luna mourning by his side, for Zephyr was already dead. And all cried out, What has done this?”
And Luna cried out, “Is it a story locus? Has your sun failed?” And she was angry, for it had been day when he died, and she feared Celestial had not been vigilant in the sun. But they could find no story-locus. And they searched far and wide, but could find no enemy.
And Ramus asked, “Could it be a disease? Must we prepared for plague?” And they retreated, but the land ‘round Zephyr was healthy.
“Perhaps it was poison?” said Prospecta. But none knew what poison could kill Zephyr, and so they could not determine his death. And they prepared to mourn, but could not take the time, for without Zephyr the winds ran wild, and the storms came without mercy, and the rain brought floods in some place and left them dry in others, and blizzards appeared in the desert, and hurricanes in the calm areas, and drought in the forests. So they left Zephyr’s body and went to stop the chaos.
But Luna would not leave, and called the others back to mourn Zephyr. Said Celestia, “I am sorry, dear sister, but there is work to be done. We cannot stop to mourn, just as with Isadora we must continue, lest all be lost for our hesitation.” And Luna cried out, and did not wish to leave, but she saw the truth in Celestia’s words, and so she did.
And the six who were left could not control the weather, for they had not the skill, and had their own tasks. And so Celestia pierced her wings with her horn, and from her wingblood created the pegusi, who were born to control the weather. And Luna did so as well. But the pegusi were not in all places, and so in the cold areas of the world, Ramus trained his children, the reindeer, in the art of flight so that they might keep it safe. And the mountains, the yaks, who were the wisest of all of Oeg’s children, listened to the wind and understood it’s workings, and also learned control. And at first the savanna was without help, but the blood of Zephyr flowed to it, and from it arose the giraffes, who could stretch their necks to the sky and move the clouds.
And once the world began to stabilize, Luna returned to the place where Zephyr was left. And as she approached she gave a great cry of joy, for she saw Zephyr standing, tall and proud, and the others rushed to her. But as she came closer, the figure ran, and Luna cried out, “Zephyr, Zephry, my friend, why do you run from me?”
“Who is this Zephyr of whom you speak? I am not that which you seek.” And Luna stopped as she heard these words, for the voice was not Zephyr. And she could see the being was like Zephyr, but not him. For this being was female, while Zephyr was male. And her stripes flowed lengthwise across her, with each one flowing from tail to head, unlike Zephyr’s which had flowed sideways.
“Who are you?” demanded Luna.
“Athiqua is my name. Now please tell me the same.” The other steeds came into view and all were amazed, for Athiqua had arisen from Zephyr’s flesh and blood but was not Zephyr. And she was not a normal child of the steeds, for she had risen from dead flesh, not living blood, and was equal in power and majesty, not lesser as their other children.
And so Celestia came to welcome her, as did Ramus and Prospecta, and Tidalos and Oeg from afar, and they asked that she take back the winds. But she tried and could not control them as Zephyr had, and finally she grew angry and shouted, “Do not tell me what to do. For I am not you.” And this was true, for though she was as powerful as them, she was not like them. She was born in Equestrian, and knew not of the time before and the Others, and only heard of them as stories.
And so Athiqua left, for she felt as if she did not belong, for the other steeds had memory and age, but she did not, and did not wish to be them. And first she came to the Zebras, but she was not like them, for they remembered Zephyr, and saw that her stripes were lengthwise while theirs were sideways, and she could not take the winds as Zephyr had, and there was no connection.
And so Athiqua sought to be alone, and came to a river. For the rivers was wild and untamed, and none came to them save when the need was great. There she stayed, but she began to dance and play in it, and found that she could control it with ease. As she danced with the water, her cutie mark appeared, it was of a river, and she was overjoyed. And in this way was she different from the other steeds and more like their children, for she earned her cutie mark by finding a talent, while they had had a talent and then chosen a mark.
And so Athiqua took control the rivers, and no longer were they wild and untamed. When she did so, the other races flocked to her, and the Zebras and giraffes honored her, and so did the other races. And soon, some began to whisper that she was better than Zephyr, for when Zephyr was alive, they had weather but not rivers. But now they had both, and could build towns by the rivers, and trade with each other, and no longer merely live in herds. Athiqua heard these words and was pleased.
When Luna heard these words, she feared all would forget of Zephyr and his works. And so she set out to have him remembered, and it was her who wrote the Tales of Zephyr, which are remembered to this day. And lest all of him be lost, Luna set out to his hiding spots, which only she knew, and gathered his memories and treasures, and swore to keep them near her.
Of the Leaving
And as things began to calm, the six who remembered the old world met amongst themselves below the world and began to talk. “Hear me,” said Tidalos. “Athiqua controls the rivers, but Zephyr could not. And we thought this was because the River would not let him, so how does Athiqua?”
And the others nodded. “Perhaps this is good,” said Oeg. “Perhaps the Others will have no more control.”
“Or perhaps this is bad,” said Luna, “and it means they are coming for us.”
“And what does it mean that a new creature can arise from dead flesh? Could this be our nature? Could Isadora have a child as well?” Celestia asked.
“But the progenitor of the llamas and alpacas, the one killed by the King, did not arise again, so it cannot be all,” said Prospecta.
“We cannot know, for one cannot know ‘till they discover,” said Ramus. “And we would not go back, for we have taken Equestria too far. But one could, and I shall, for I am as swift as any, and I hid above all others. I will go to Creation and see what changes have come.”
“Wait!” said Prospecta. “You cannot go, for you are needed here to watch over the plants. But I can. I was set to craft the world, and that is not like the other tasks. For once crafted, it is done, unlike the rivers or sun or moon. And it is done. The world can survive without me.”
And the two began to quarrel, for Ramus felt only he could hide in Creation, but Prospecta felt she alone could make the journey without the world breaking. And finally did Celestia speak, “You should both go, for the outer reaches are dangerous and wild, and two are better than one against the story locus. But before you leave, let us prepare the world so that it can grow on its own.”
And the other five nodded, for they had to know if the Others sought them. And so Ramus and Prospecta prepared to set out, but before they did so, Equestrian was prepared for his departure. And so Luna and Celestia took from their flank blood and made the earth-ponies, who were gifted in plants. And Athiqua taught the Zebras to do so, for they already knew much of plants already, and she did not wish to create children, for she felt she was too young. And Kirin taught his children to watch over plants. And so Prospecta and Kirin left the world.
Of Nightmare Moon.
Why did it happen, that Luna’s heart did turn and the Nightmare came?
Was it within her? Darkness, anger and jealousy at her sister?
Or perhaps it was not darkness, but Darkness. Did she take the cloak of Zephyr, the cloak of Darkness, and from it came her destruction?
Was it the stars, whispering in her ears? Or the hidden gods? Or other whispers?
Did she lose those she cared about? Not merely Zephyr, but Ramus and Prospecta, and Tidalos and Oeg so far. And her sister awake when she asleep?
Or was it our own fault? Did we forget her? Did we not give her homage? Did we forget her? Did we forget the tales and sacrifices? Did we forget Zephyr and Isadora? Let us never again forget these tales, lest all be lost.
And what was the Nightmare? Was is Luna, transformed by grief? Did she see how she was bound to be the lesser, and sought to exceed her bindings by becoming what Luna was not? Is Luna dead, and Nightmare Moon her child, as Athiqua is to Zephyr? Is is some monstrous creation of the stars, or gods, or Darkness? Can she come back?
We do not know.
All that is known is that she came. And Celestia sought to plead with her, but Nightmare Moon would not listen, and we do not know why. And so did they fight, but Celestia held back, for she could not bring herself to slay one who had once been so close. And so Nightmare Moon threw Celestia down, and thus was Celestia forced to use the Elements of Harmony.
And even now, Nightmare Moon remains trapped within the moon; a warning, and a reminder... but of what? What is the lesson we must learn? We do not know.
Of Celestia, Alone.
And so Celestia banished her sister, but now she was alone. Isadora and Zephyr were dead. Ramus and Prospecta had left. And though Tidalos and Oeg were still there, she could not go to them, for she had to watch over both sun and moon, for with so little powers left, without them the story locus would surely attack. Only Athiqua was left, and while she was like them in power, she did not remember the old world, and could not talk of it any more than any other child.
And thus was Celestia left, alone.
Commentary on Of the Time Before
By Glass Shimmer (515 NE)
Of the time Before is part of the “Creation” tradition of mythology. The Creation of Equestria is a question that has plagued scholars and storytellers since our earliest known records. Many scholars have argued that these stories arise from the inherent sense of mystery. Our ruler deflects discussion on the topic, and many wonder why this is so.
I, however, do not find this document’s argument entirely convincing. Boars, oxen, llamas and other creatures who have no Celestia equivalent pursue the question with equal vigor, despite the fact that there would be no special mystery in it any more than in any other mystery concerning prehistory. Perhaps the question arises from the inherent desire to know how it all began, the ultimate origin. With no confirmed origin, there can be a wealth of speculative mythology. Regardless, it has been a vigorously pursued question, with a wealth of mythology and stories.
Of the Time Before is notable not only for it’s wide, epic narration, but for it’s persistence and variation across the world. Variations of the story appear across many cultures and species, and as such no two versions are the same. Of the Time Before is one of the oldest mythological writings, and most scholars put it’s actual date of conception at far earlier than the development of writing.
As such, before we can further discuss the tale , we must discuss the bard. For each storyteller imparts their own spin upon the tale, both as a result of cultural circumstance and of their own personality. This particular tale was the last work of the renowned storyteller and writer Inked Scroll and was recorded during the year 15 AN, for her then-patron Princess Wind Soar. This particular time period had a significant effect on the tale presented. Before the rise of Nightmare Moon, Inked Scroll was often patronized by the royal court, and had personal contacts with both Celestia and Luna. In a way much of this work can be understood in its historical context. It is as much Inked Scroll’s own questioning of the events of the time as it is a pony tale, and it’s unique position lends to a much richer tale, as Inked dove into other versions of the tale in order to try to find some explanation for Luna’s transformation.
A second brief note must be made on the lack of donkeys. Scholars have debated their curious absence within the story. Some have argued this stems from the disputed origins of the species, with some stories attributing their patronage to the same instance as alpacas and llamas, others to Oeg, and still others to Isadora. Being unsure, Inked opted not to include them. I, however, must disagree with this assessment. There are other parts of the tale which Inked did include which have different versions, yet she chose one above the others. Instead I must attribute this to a less admirable reason. Princess Wind Soar, Inked’s then-current patron, was a well know opponent of ‘unnatural marriages’, specifically those between donkeys and ponies. It is my belief that Inked did not include the origin of donkeys as a way to imply that they were not a race of the original steeds and thus satisfy her patron. While this is in no way admirable, one must remember that at the time Celestia’s mourning had led to no patronage from the crown, and Inked was far to old to work at the time. It is easy to condemn from afar, but if the choice is principles or hay, one must think carefully.
Scholars have identified multiple different sections of Of the Time Before and for study purposes it typically divided into three distinct narratives, which are sometimes further subdivided into six part. For the purposes of this commentary I will take note of both the larger divisions as well as the subdivisions.
The first part is what is generally known as the creation or contest narrative. This section of the narrative deals with the origin of the ‘steeds’ as well as the the contest. The general structure of the Narrative is fairly similar across cultures, though the specific traits involved may vary slightly, and occasionally the ‘Others’ present in the story will change out. Notable variations include Oeg’s patron becoming the Spear and the Mountain refusing to enter the contest. But none of these have a significant impact on the overall story.
Three main sources of variation appear in this part of the narrative. The first is the relationship between the sun and the King. With some stories claiming that the sun is simply the king, other claiming he is the King’s son or some favored servant. Perhaps the most intriguing method is the type employed within Inked’s work. Inked solves this dilemma by declaring that the King and sun are simultaneously the same being, and different ones. While it seems counter-intuitive, many scholars have found it to be a notable achievement, fitting in very well with the alienness of ‘Others’.
The second major source of variation comes from the contest itself. Because the contest is composed of three sub-contests, and each of those has their variation, the full number of combinations is extremely large. First is the variation in who won which contest. While Inked’s recording is the most common, there are sources which have either of the two contestants -- though more typically Luna -- win both earlier contests. Secondly is the presence of the Trio, and which contests they aided Luna in. In some versions Storm works to interfere in the running to get Zephyr lost, and Language has the ability to make anything he says become reality, hence his declaring that Luna will win becomes a magic unto itself. In other variants they interfere in none of the contests, with Zephyr only being able to stretch so far. Inked’s version of the tale heavily reflects her exploration of other cultures, but keeps her admiration for Luna. Blending the tales, she has Zephyr win the first contest but not as a result of pure speed, Earth interfere with the second, and the third be a mix, keeping Language’s words but without the explicit magical reference. Scholarly readers would have recognized the words and, therefore, it is believed that Inked intended for the contest to be deliberately ambiguous.
The final variation stems from perhaps the most controversial aspect of the tale, that Luna was actually the first created. The ways this is handled are numerous. Some aspects of the tale simply chose to ignore the claim, with both sisters being created by the Trio and the sun declaring only on of them the best (often holding a second contest between them). However, while intriguing tales, these do not seem to be present in the most ancient versions.
A second version has the King reveal that he cast a prophecy before the contest, so that he could foretell the winner and thus had already built Celestia, explaining why she was truely first. In many ways this provides a more elegant and intuitive version of events. At the same time the version used within this tale provides one unique advantage, an explanation for why Celestia does not talk about the creation of the world. According to this explanation, because the oaths forbid them from telling the truth of their creation, hence why it is not talked about. (Of course, one must then ask. If they could not talk about it, how did this tale ever get recorded in the first place?)
The next section of the myth deals with the aftermath of the contest and its overall placement is often disputed between scholars. Some placing it as a continuation of the ‘contest’ narrative and placing the next point of transition as the revelation of the new sun, while some place it as part of a larger ‘middle’ section spanning all the way to the division of the worlds.
This section of the text helps to give the first glimmer of the ‘steeds’ not as mere creations but as free agents; personalities and people rather than mere prizes to show off. Unsurprisingly, Inked’s story focuses far more on the personalities of Luna and Celestia than that of the others. For example, many-non pony tales do not include any sections on Celestia until the second sun is made.
There are two points interest within this section; one is unique to Inked’s tale, the other not. First is the increased presence of Zephyr and his interaction with Luna. In general, tales ztend to focus either on the Zephyr-Luna interaction or the Celestia-Luna interaction. At the time of its publication, the standard narration within pony lands had focused on the latter to the exclusion of the former. While Inked’s tale, does the opposite (though neither are entirely ignored), and indeed set off a surprising trend of romance-focused iterations of the tale. Given her patron’s dislike of such things, this choice is rather surprising (though it should be noted that Zebra-Pony marriages being much less common, as well as Zebra’s having provable cutie marks, made it less of an issue). Some have argued that it was done because the bard was, essentially, a romantic at heart, but it is generally accepted that this was a result of her exploration of the causes of Luna’s turning.
(As a brief aside). While some scholars have begun to question the historical existence of Luna. I for one, must strongly disagree with this matter. While there are few writings of her, those that we do have suggest a familiarity with her that speaks clearly of a real pony. And the low documentation is easily explained by one of the very possible causes of her rebellion. Furthermore there are no historical records which list her as anything other than an Alicorn until nearly 200 years well after the events. Our own monarch’s silence on the matter ahs been debated by scholars far wiser than I.)
The second area of interest is the non-steeds. Specifically the Behemoth and the one who is like Ramus. It is a fairly consistent part of the narrative of the stories that they take great pains to assure the readers that these two figures were not the same as the other ‘steeds’ and were not the origins of any non-monster races. However, scholars who have chosen to consider the legend as a historical narrative have proposed an intriguing alternate hypothesis. They have proposed that these two figures were merely ‘steeds’ that did not opt to participate in the original rebellion, and that, as such they began to be demonized to the point of the current incarnations.
Following the announcement of the second sun, the ‘meat’ of the tales begins. Which deals with the essential narrative of the flight from the old world and creation of the new. Here Inked’s tale is fairly convention for a pony-based origin, aside from the aforementioned increased focus on Zephy-Luna and the inclusion of Isadora, who is occasionally removed. It is not, however, conventional for other cultures, and alternate tellings of the story can reveal very different facets.
The general form of the tale remains the same across cultures: semi-connected mini-tales framed within a larger narrative, of the assembly of the steeds, the creation or ‘gathering’ of necessary artifacts, and the final preparations to leave. However, aside from that, the tales can vary wildly.
One major divergence is the ‘focus’ character of the piece. For example, the Koram focuses on Ramus and his own desire to allow his children to escape from the ravages of the world as the driving force, with Celestia being used as a ‘mouthpiece’ for his desires. While the warthogs of Istanboar (formally Cowstandinople) paint it as an epic tale of tragedy and sacrifice concerning Isadora’s rebellion against the Others.
The second major divergence occurs in the necessary artifacts gathered. Any filly or colt is familiar with the legendary Elements of Harmony, however most would be surprised to discover that the inclusion of these artifacts an element of the tale is far from universal. For example, the notable giraffe bard Zerevyi’s version of the tale features the gathering three major artifacts, the ‘sorcery mask’, ‘sorcery bow’ and ‘sorcery saddle’. While the Yak Epic Bovinevad Gita speaks of the 14 Ratna, or treasures, which are gathered. Comparatively speaking, Inked’s tale focuses much less on the actual creation/assembly of the treasures, with only a few passages devoted to it. Rather it focuses on how the characteristics were acquired, and why these elements were chosen instead of others. Interestingly, another example of authorial intent seems to come from the ‘humility’ sections, which is generally accepted to be aimed at someone specific Inked Scroll knew. Though many scholars have identified this as her patron, debate continues, with some even proposing that it may have been a condemnation of herself.
Instead the majority of the ‘quest’ focuses instead on dealing with the ‘tasks’ for leaving, a typical choice for an Equestrian narrative, but does stand in contrast to other works. For example, the silver mirror, created by Prospecta, often appears in many versions of the tale in other cultures. But many times the silver mirror is either a necessary artifact, or the component an artifact, rather than a simple means to an end. Again, however, there are certain points that are similar throughout various renditions, almost all tales that include Isadora, without fail, point to her death as occurring during the final departure. Though even then there is considerable variation; for example, some claim she did manage to slay the Behemoth, while others have their battle take place after the separation within Equestria itself and attribute various landmarks to either the battle or the remains of one of the two combatants.
Following the end of the primary narrative comes another point of transition that is difficult to categorize. This is because in many similar epics this section marks the end of the tale, and the story now transitions to other tales. However, as Inked chose to continue on, this section presents a problem, some scholars placing it within the ‘escape’ narrative while others place it within the modern section. In a way, it shares traits of both narratives. Like the previous section it deals with an unspecified period of time of which there is little historical record, yet it does translate into more verifiable sources. Archaeological records do indicate that its narrative of the existence of Unicorns in pre-settlement societies before the arising of Earth Ponies and Pegasi. While Ramus, Prospecta and Zephyr are documented via many legends, Oeg and Tidalos are known to exist today.
As such some have taken this as ‘proof’ that the rest of the story is true. However, a note of caution must be exercised on that score. Simply mentioning figures which historically did exist is not proof of accuracy; for example, other tales of the creation of our world, ones that are mutually contradictory yet also mention these figures. Of the Time Before has its roots in legends in the pre-Urban period of history, when these figures were active within the world, so it is no surprise that any tale would naturally include them. A similar explanation lies for it acknowledgement of giraffes, pegasi and earth-ponies being among the latter evolved species.
The final two sections deal with the death of Zephyr and Nightmare Moon’s arrival. In the death of Zephyr we can again see the influence of then-recent events on how Inked opts to tell the story. The death of Zephyr triggered a series of monumental events within Equestria. With the taming of the rivers, it became possible to construct settlements nearby them, and subsequently made trade possible. The introduction of personal control over the plants of the earth made sustained, sedentary farming possible. This in turn led to the rise of modern society. It was a monumental transition, with many stories and a wealth of records, both mythological and analytical.
Yet despite this, Inked chooses to focus very little on the events themselves. Instead focusing on the steeds involved, particularly the relationships between Zephyr and Luna, and how Athiqua was not like the rest; themes of alienation and tragedy, all leading up to the end.
The final passages are what mark Of the Time Before as an evolving story, and lend credence to it as something more than fiction. Here Inked exits her role as an objective narrator recording events and speaks in a heartfelt sense of mourning. She does not record specific events, for everyone at the time would have known of them, but instead seeks to explain them. Transitioning from the objective narrator to a first person plural, Inked speaks of her own anguish, having known Nightmare Moon from before the transition and now being forced to try to understand how this came to be, to think the unthinkable. This section also explains the greater focus on Zephyr and Luna’s relationship, as Inked speculates on its part in the fall. While the other passages may have had sorrow, they were matched with a sense of joy or greater glory to come, here there is none.
The final lines, while slipping back into the formal style of before, none-the-less maintain a sense of tragedy and sadness, and contains a sense of warning. If Luna being alone was what caused her to become Nightmare Moon, it essentially says, remember that now Celestia is alone. The unspoken command, ‘if we fail again, there may be no stopping it’ would have been clear to any reader from the time period.
Finally there is one passage that is interesting not for its inclusion, but for its exclusion. In it Celestia proposes (and the steeds agree) to never again speak of the Others and the previous world, as the Others may hear their names and seek out the speaker. This section is a very odd choice to remove because in the traditional narrative Luna protests this decision, and is only convinced by Celestia because it in not technically dishonest as they do not lie about their existence, merely refuse to talk of them. This passage is often used as an alternate explanation for why Celestia does not speak of the tale.
Given its possible role in explaining Luna’s anger, it seems odd that Inked would opt not to include it. The most probable answer is pointed at by the “Of Nightmare Moon” section. Despite offering numerous possibilities for why Luna fell, there is one that is deliberately avoided: any possibility of blame on Celestia. This avoidance would explain the omission of that passage. Many have speculated on why this is. Active suppression by Celestia has been suggested, but is highly unlikely, archived copies of the work, preserved by magic, still exists, and the text is unchanged, while at the time of writing Celestia was barely involved in government affairs much less one story written for another patron. A more likely explanation may be that Inked felt she could not write it. In the wake of the aftermath of Nightmare Moon, there was a mood of ‘hyper-worship’ of Celestia, and anyone seeming to criticise her would have faced serious trouble. Furthermore, her patron, Wing Soar, had been a prominent supporter of Celestia and might not have approved of the tale.
However, perhaps it was not outside pressures that made her avoid it. Inked Scroll has been patronized by the Royal Sisters before, and had considerable respect for both. Perhaps she could not bear to condemn either of them. Or perhaps, given her last passage, she feared the condemning Celestia, especially in a period where she was already mourning, would drive her to take the road as her sister.
Regardless of her reasons, Inked Scroll’s rendition of the tale stands as one of the most treasured versions. Not merely pleasing at the time, but ushering in a number of derivative works, and, some argue an entire genre shift to more romantic focused works during the subsequent decades. Deriving it’s strength not merely from it powerful historical mythology but from its stance as a crossroads of the real and the legendary, connecting previous mythological events with the great legends that took place during the time.
AN: Full Author’s note linked here. For those of you who like that sort of thing.