Prologue - Got Flour on My Face and I don't Give a DarnEdit
Hello. Light Crescendo here. Huh? You don't know who Light Crescendo is? Okay, here's the crash course: Youngest daughter in my family, I have two siblings, and I sometimes work at Sugarcube Corner. I'm a pegasus, pure white, and I have a silver, blue, and purple mane. My eyes are this kind of greenish-blue color, like my mom and sister.
My brother may tell this story from the moment he woke up, but I'll just start with him heading out the door, if you don't mind.
He was almost late. Late for what, you may ask. Some job at the castle. I didn't pay that much attention when it was first explained, but I realize how important it is. I gave them a farewell from the kitchen and returned to my baking. Pinkie Pie gave me an assignment yesterday to make a three layer chocolate cake, and I just needed one more layer.
"Dear, you have some flour on your face..." Mom said, brushing my nose with a washcloth. I shook her away.
"Happens all the time, mom. I'll celan up when I'm done." And I do. Sometimes I really get into my work and I'll end up with stuff like frosting and sprinkles in my mane. It's all part of the job, though, and I love it. I set the oven to bake while my mother cleaned up the floor. She was always good at cleaning. I wonder why her cutie mark isn't a dustpan or something, instead of that weird note.
"What time do you go to work?" She asked, putting a paper towel with globs of wet cake mix into the trashcan. I glanced at the clock, trying to calculate how much time I had.
"Not for another two hours." I replied. "That's plenty of time to let the cake bake." I set a timer and went into the living room. After a minute, my mother followed.
"The birds sound so pretty this morning." Mom sighed. She looked out the window at a small flock of blue jays. I listened, but I didn't hear warbles. I almost never do. I heard actual lyrics to the song they were singing, and it was a love song. I gave a smile and nodded.
"Hey mom..." I looked to her. "I wanted to ask you something."
"If this is about my wing, dear, I've told you plenty of times it was an accident at the castle." She said quickly. She used to work as a maid at the castle, another piece of evidence that made me wonder why her cutie mark wasn't cleaning-related.
"It's not that." I assured her. "It's just..." I thought. This question had been on my mind for a few years. Ever since I heard mom talking about her father, something just didn't feel right. Where was our father? Was he alive? Did we even have one? Something told me that if I asked that question, mom would just avoid it.
"Nevermind." I muttered. "I'm going to check on the cake." I returned to the kitchen, stopping in front of the stove and peering in.
"That looks good!" A voice called from the window.
I swear I almost backed into the fridge. "Who's there?" I asked. I directed my attention to the source of the voice. A pegasus was there, hooves on the windowsill, smiling. I recognized him. His tan coat and dark brown mane was easy to indetify.
"Hermes! It's been a while." I walked over to the window. "How's it going?"
"Same old, same old." Hermes replied. "Delivering messages to ponies, watching over travelers, the whole nine trotlengths." He beamed.
"But it's not your day to deliver mail." I said. "Something going on?"
Hermes nodded. "I'm actually delivering a message from somebody important. They couldn't risk putting it down on paper, so they chose me to send it verbally."
"Who's it from?" I asked. This was strange, no doubt.
"They didn't want their identity to be known. But they want to meet you at the Carousel Boutique when your shift at Sugarcube Corner is over." Hermes replied, nodding. "I gotta go now. See ya!" And with that, he zipped from the window and was airborne.
I mulled this information over. Should I follow the directions or avoid the Carousel Boutique when my work was done? I was never one to back down to a challenge, so I decided to see who this mystery person was.
When it was time to go, I packed up my cake and said goodbye to mom. She waved as I grabbed my scooter and went off down the road.
I got to Sugarcube Corner with my cake intact. Pinkie Pie took it and began to decorate it with icing and those pure sugar letters. When she was done, she thanked me for the help and set it in one of the cake display cases.
My shift was only a few hours long, but Pumpkin and Pound didn't make leaving easy. The two children of my bosses decided to throw a "cupcake fight" and then Pinkie joined in. The Cakes stopped the madness, but I still left with a pink-frosted treat stuck to my tail.
I almost took my usual path home when I remembered the message. I paused at an intersection. Left would take me home. Right would take me to the Carousel Boutique. I know I said I would go there, but I was started to have doubts. Was this some kind of kidnapping? A trick so I could get mugged? Well if it was a mugging, the only thing they would get out of me is my scooter and the cupcake STILL stuck to my tail. I decided to take the chance. I turned right.
I stopped beside the Boutique, setting my scooter next to a bike rack. The shop was butsling with people, all of them looking at dresses and accessories. Yuck. I wouldn't touch that girly stuff with a twenty hoof-length pole. Of course, I have a dress my mom makes we wear on formal occasions, but she makes it up to me by letting me put on whatever jewelry I want. I usually just wear bracelets. Pink ones.
I recluctantly went inside, trying to avoid the other customers. Who here looked like they were waiting for somebody? I didn't see anybody except for the typical fashion-obsessed pony. I was about to go back outside when somebody called my name.
"Didn't you hear me? Get over here!" I looked for the owner of the voice and found a unicorn. He was the only male in the room, and he looked like he wanted to be one of the many men OUTSIDE the room. He pushed a pair of glasses up the bridge of his nose and waved to me.
I walked over, avoiding a mare in a sleek silver dress. I was able to get a closer look at the pony. He was a silver-blue, with a much darker mane and piercing yellow eyes. He scowled, looking around, and then spoke.
"Glad you got my message. Listen, your mom knows me. It's okay." He was saying this very quickly, like he needed to get out any second.
"And how am I supposed to know that?" I retorted.
"Her real name is Tone Deaf." He muttered.
Oh. Yeah. Not many people knew mom's real name. We didn't even know it until we were about ten. She said that if somebody suspicious said they knew her, we should ask them for her real name.
"Okay... Why did you call me here? I hate all this girly stuff." I scowled at all the pink and glittery things in the room.
"Hey, how do you think I feel?" He barked back. "Just listen up. Something's going down. I don't know what exactly, but if you see any ponies that go by Mercy or Brutality, just tell them that Silver Lining sent you. I gotta go now. Bye." His horn shone for a moment, and he was gone.
That was probably the weirdest thing ever. Besides, wouldn't it be better to tell my brother? He's the kind that knows how to deal with this stuff. And my memory was terrible. What were the names again? Mercy? Causality?
I shook off the weird feeling and (barely) made it back outside. This was just too weird for me. I hopped on my scooter and sped for home. Maybe I'll tell my bro when he gets there.
Chapter One: I Throw My Cousin at my AuntEdit
It was late when Aero and Lullaby finally arrived. "What took you so long?" I asked, almost jumping up and down in my seat at the table.
"We learned this cool new battle technique called Nunya Business." Aero replied. He always acted like this when I was being obnoxious. Which was almost all the time.
"Aero, please." Mom said. "Be a little more respectful."
"Sorry. But we fought Solaris!" He cried. He took his place at the table beside Lullaby. I had another moment of "Do we even have a dad?" Because of the table placement. Mom sat on one end, and Aero sat with Lullaby on one of the sides. I sat on the other side with an empty chair for guests, and the other end of the table was empty. It seems like the perfect place for a father. I shook it off when I realized who Solaris was.
"You fought Celestia's son? Isn't he the First Knight now?" I couldn't help but leave my mouth agape.
"Yeah. And he was pretty tough. We barely made it past his defenses, but then he did this cool thing with the swords and knocked us back!" Aero smiled.
"Well he didn't get First Knight for doing nothing. How's his sister?" Mom asked.
"She teaches magic at Celestia's school, but she also works as a judge." Lullaby said. "We practiced some magic with her, and she's wonderful!"
"That's fantastic." Mom replied. "If you could set the table, Cress, I'll go get supper." She stood up from the table and walked into the kitchen. I took my chance while I was putting out the plates.
"I need to talk to you guys before bed." I whispered. Lullaby and Aero looked confused for a moment, then nodded. I sat down once the silverware was set, but mom didn't return. Five minutes later, we decided to check on her.
Hermes was back. He didn't have his usual smile. His face was grave and sympathetic.
"I'm sorry." He said before ducking out of the window.
Mom turned to us, her face a little wet from crying. "Children, I'm afraid your grandfather has just passed away."
Grandpa was dead. That hit me hard. He was one of the biggest supporters when I decided to get into baking. He actually admitted that cooking would have been his profession if he didn't get his job at the opera.
"Mom..." Aero said. I could see that it hit my siblings almost as hard. We moved as one and hugged her. At least we could be sad together.
"The funeral's in a week." She said. "In Fillydelphia."
We spent the rest of the evening in silence to pay our respects. We ate dinner, cleaned up, and went to bed. Or, at least, Mom went to bed. Aero, Lullaby, and I waited until her breathing went soft so we could speak.
"What did you want to talk about?" Lullaby asked. For a blind girl, she could easily gaze into your eyes. It was unnerving if you didn't know she could sense the world around her. Even so, I felt a small chill go up my spine.
"Well..." I explained the incident at the Carousel Boutique.
"Odd." Aero said. "I wonder what exactly is going down.'"
"Seems important." Lullaby supplied.
"But why tell me?" I asked, shrugging.
"I dunno." Aero said simply.
"Great, you've been great help." I said sarcastically.
"No problem." Aero said, smirking. I wish I could just punch him but either he'd avoid it or we'd wake up Mom.
The next week passed with no events. Hermes stopped by with messages from friends offering their symapthies to Mom. Sometimes he told her about ponies that planned to be at the funeral. She accepted these with a neutral face.
The day of the funeral, I wasn't allowed to wear my bracelets, and I had to let my pigtails fall. Mom explained that it was customary to wear black and no accessories to a funeral. We took the train to Fillydelphia, and made our way to the graveyard Grandpa was to be buried in. I saw a good portion of ponies. A few I recognize from his opera troupe. One was dark grey with a red mane. That was Grandma.
Four ponies I've never seen before stood beside Grandma. One was a bright green unicorn with a yellow mane. Another was a cold grey pegasus with a purple mane. The other two seemed to be mother an daughter, then I recognized them as Aunt Sharp and my cousin Soft Aria. It's been a while since our last encounter.
"There you are, dear." Grandma said, walking over to Mom. She gave her a hug and nodded to the three of us. "I can't imagine how you probably feel."
"Probably the same as you." Mom replied.
The funeral was silent except for the few words that Grandma said for Grandpa. After some scattered condolences and goodbyes, a majority of the group departed. Only Grandma, Uncle Flat, Aunt Sharp, Soft Aria, and my family remained.
"Dear.. Your father, uh, wanted you to have this." Grandma handed a box to Mom. "It contains something for each of you." She nodded to us.
"I see." Downbeat replied softly.
"Also, I--" Grandma was about to say something else when a scream broke out from a distance. We smelled smoke, and saw a fire blazing in our direction. Everybody immediatley took wing to avoid the flames, but Soft Aria was left behind.
"Mommy!" She cried, looking up at Aunt Sharp. I tried to run over to her, but flames suddenly rose up, blocking us. They were too high to fly over or reach from above. Sharp hovered over Aria, face pale.
A looked around for a break in the flames. I couldn't see anything, but it felt like my senses were better. I could actually hear for areas that didn't have as many flames. Pretty cool, huh?
I broke into a run, navigating the small niches the fire didn't touch. The blaze licked my tail, but I didn't care. I had to save my cousin. When I finally reached her, the smoke started to surround us. Aria coughed a few times. I picked her up and ran back through the fire, finding a clear space to launch myself into the clouds.
"Aunt Sharp!" I called. I found the black pegasus still hovering over the flames. She spotted me and held out her hooves for her child. I soared over and dropped Aria into them. Sharp gave Aria a quick hug, then followed everybody else. After a quick doubletake at the fire, I went after her.
Everyone gathered at the Everfree Forest entrance. Nobody was harmed, but a few were still coughing from the smoke. Mom hugged me so tight I felt like I was a smoke victim too.
"Don't do that again. Ever!" She cried, my face being flattened between her hooves. "You could have died!"
"And Aria would have died if I didn't do anything, mom! Calm down!" I managed to choke out before she finally released me.
"Okay. Let's go home." Mom said goodbye to everyone else and we walked to the train station.
"So who do you think started the fire?" Aero asked. Mom gave a sharp look, but she didn't say anything.
"I didn't sense anyone." Lullaby said. "They may have been far away, though."
"That's enough, Aero. Lullaby. Come on, I'm sure you're curious about what your grandfather left you."
We walked home from the train station in silence. I guess Aero and Lullaby really were curious. I had a good guess about what my inheritance was, though.
"I wanna try this one! No wait, this one! Oh, they all look so yummy!" I cried, leafing through the cookbook. Grandpa chuckled and looked at the recipes I had chosen.
"That they do. But you'll have to decide on one for tonight."
"But why?" I asked, putting on my old pouty face.
"Because if you make them all tonight, you'll never have the opportunity to try a new recipe from here!" He replied. "So what do you want to make?"
I flipped through a few more of the pages, then pointed to one. "This! The Supreme Salad! I want extra roses on mine!"
"And I'm sure you want them without the thorns?" He asked.
"You know I do! I always have them without the thorns!" I giggled.
That was the first recipe I made with my grandfather from that cookbook. Since then, I've only requested Supreme Salad on special occasions. Birthdays, family reunions, you get the deal. I had a good feeling that my gift would be the cookbook that started my love for cooking. Even though I prefer sweet things, I still have a special place in my heart for salads.
We got home about ten minutes later, and gathered in the living room. It was always a place for special occaisons, happy or sad. Mom sat on the couch while we stood before her. After a few moments of silent staring into space, she opened the box.
"Cress... He left you the cookbook." She said quietly. She handed the large red book to me and I nodded slowly. I took a moment too leaf through the yellow pages, but had to close it before I started to cry. I wasn't ready to read it again. Not yet.
"Aero, this belonged to one of my many times great grandfathers. Though the person it was awarded to was dead, It has been passed down from father to son, and since Flat has no interest in such a career, he's giving it to you." My brother walked up and took a small object from Mom. It was a gold circle with a blue and white ribbon.
"This is from the Olympian War..." Aero muttered. "Only three ponies got this kind of medal back then. Two medics and an ammunition carrier. They were killed trying to save ponies from Zeus. I read about it a while ago."
Downbeat nodded. "One of the medics is our ancestor. I believe his name was Windswept."
Aero Blitz nodded.
"And Lullaby..." Mom began. "He left you this." She picked up another book from inside the box. It was a marvelous blue with gold designs on the cover. No doubt it was some kind of magic book. "This was written by Luna herself."
"Advanced Magic Combined with Weather Studies" Lullaby read. "This describes how weather can help or hinder your magic, along with spells you can perform in certain weather!"
Mom smiled. "I hope you cherish your gifts." She said.
"But mom," I said. "What did grandpa leave you?"
Mom paused, then looked in the box. Her eyes widened and she bit her lip. "Nothing important, dear. Just a note."
"How could that not be important if he left it for you?" Aero asked. "I mean, the stuff he left for us is important. How can he not leave his daughter anything important?"
"Aero, that's enough." Mom said calmly. "Let's have some supper and go to bed."
The rest of the evening was silent, but after supper, Mom sent us straight to bed. She didn't even let us read. I sat in bed silently until I heard the door open downstairs. I peeked through the window and saw Mom walking away from the house. I could see the box poking out of her saddlebag.
I'm still confused. Who started the fire? Why did that unicorn tell me to look out for two other ponies? What did Grandpa leave Mom in that box?
Chapter Two: Snuffed OutEdit
"Come on, Cress! You can't fall asleep now! We have three more cakes to decorate!" Pinkie's voice broke into my head. I snorted and blinked.
"Oh, sorry Pinkie. I stayed up late last night..." I sighed. I gave a yawn then picked up the tube of frosting. Pinkie slid a cake in front of me and I began to decorate.
"Why?" She asked. She gave me one of her famous "Pinkie Stares." I ignored it and continued my cake.
"Come on, Cress. You can't keep anything from me!" She leaned closer to me. She had this annoying habit of invading your personal space. It could get weird if you weren't used to it. I sighed and pushed her away.
"Nothing. I just couldn't sleep for some reason." I went back to my cake, just finishing the trim. The door's bell rang, and I looked up automatically. What I saw made my heart skip a few beats.
Two ponies stood near the entrance. One was a pitch black pegasus with a red mane. The other was a pure white unicorn with a blue mane. Something told me these ponies were important. But I've never seen them before in my lie.
The black pegasus muttered something to the unicorn and walked back outside. The unicorn then walked to the counter.
"Can we help you?" Pinkie said with one of her biggest smiles.
The unicorn nodded. "May I speak to her in private?" She pointed straight at me. I didn't realize it, but my legs were starting to shake.
"Um, how about to the side?" Pinkie frowned. I could tell she was suspiscious too. "Like, go stand by the door?"
"That will do." The unicorn replied. She motioned for me to follow, and I did so. Reluctantly.