Tags: Slice of LifeTick tock. Tick tock.
Description: Shadow Flame, a pegasus filly in an underground city, loves to go exploring. And nothing will stop her.
Word Count: 2159
Written for: SandFire
"...and so Prince Balar instituted the new water tax, causing the first water revolt in three hundred years..."
I looked up at the clock, and groaned quietly as our teacher, History Buff, droned on and on. This class was taking forever to finish! Why they made us take history lessons about dumb things that nopony cared about, I would never know.Tick tock. Tick tock.
"...the first of three new edicts: a curfew upon the residents of the Eastern, Western, and Southern Districts, reduced hours in the Bazaar District..."
I willed the clock to move faster, but its hands refused to listen to my commands. They started moving even slower, mocking all my attempts to end the class quicker.Tick tock. Tick tock.
"...five riots. The revolutionaries stormed the Council District, attempting a coup..."
Not long now. How many minutes are left? Five? Felt more like five hours.Tick tock. Tick tock.
"...thus leading to the remnants attempting to contaminate the-"RIIIIIIIIIIIING!
"FREEDOM!" I shouted, standing up in my seat with my hooves in the air.
"Miss Flame, I would greatly appreciate the ceasing of your outbursts every time we finish this class." Mr. Buff glared at me.
"S-Sorry, sir," I stammered in embarrassment, my ears flipping downwards. I tried not to pay attention to the laughter of my classmates in the background.
He frowned. "Dismissed."
I grabbed my saddlebags and rushed as fast from the classroom as I possibly could, leaving everypony behind in the distance. My cheeks were still burning from the chewing out he gave me; I wanted to forget it as soon as I could.
I stopped, and glanced behind me at the silvery unicorn colt rushing to catch up with me, dodging teachers and other students in his path.
"Don't leave me in the dust like that," he panted as he reached me, trying to catch his breath.
"Sorry about that, Sheen," I mumbled quietly."I just wanted to get out of there."
"Hah, no problem!" Sheen said cheerfully. "I thought that class would never end! Ol' Buff Butt just likes to ramble on and on, doesn't he?"
I giggled helplessly at Silver Sheen's nickname for our history teacher. It must have been infectious, because Silver started laughing along with me.
"Anyways, let's head home already," he chuckled. I nodded, and walked alongside him, listening to him talk about everything as we began the long trek home.
The city we live in, Harmony, has been around for a long, long time. I think it's been a thousand years, but nopony is exactly sure, because the Hall of Records was burned to the ground a few hundred years ago. Nopony knows who trapped us underground either. Whatever it was, it set up a twisty maze at the entrance to the city, claiming that anypony who managed to make their way through it could reach the surface. Well, nopony has succeeded. Everypony either got lost and found themselves back at the entrance, or never returned. My dad did, though. He started mapping the maze, but he disappeared a few years ago without a trace. Somehow though, in the depths of my heart, I know he's still alive, waiting for me to find him.
Harmony is divided into five districts: the Council District, where the rulers and wealthy ponies live and rule over everypony else, the Bazaar District, where ponies sell all their goods, the Farming District, where the unicorns and earth ponies make food for the entire city, the Eastern District, where my mom and I live along with the other low income ponies, and the Western District, where I go to school and where Sheen lives with his family along with the higher income ponies. The Northern District was lost to us when we were trapped here, and the Southern District was destroyed by a cave-in fifty years ago. Water is scarce, but we try to recycle it as best we can. There's a big well full of water, but it's controlled by the rich, so we have to pay a lot of money to get more water than what we are rationed.
How do I know all this? Well, sometimes I ask other ponies questions, and sometimes I actually pay attention in class, but what I really love doing is wandering the city and finding out for myself! Every third day of the week is Exploring Day, when I travel through the entire city, poking at every nook and cranny, flying through every back alley and over every rooftop, and best of all, making my own map of every place that I've ever been! I've already mapped half of the Eastern District, some of the Western, Farming, and Bazaar Districts, but not the Council District. The guards won't let me in, no matter how hard I plead with them. I haven't found any secret paths inside yet, but when I do, it's going to be amazing!
And what was more amazing than the fact that today was Exploring Day!?
"Well, we're here!" Sheen declared, jolting me out of my thoughts. I looked up at my house - our rather, my apartment building. My mother and I had been living here ever since my dad went missing, all the way up on the fourth floor. Not very nice to look at, but simple to make and house ponies in.
"Yeah. Well, I'll see you tomorrow," I waved at Sheen, who returned my wave very vigorously, and trotted away. Smiling, I walked through the entrance to the building, and started trudging up the stairs.
"Mom, I'm home!" I called out when I entered our apartment. Hearing no answer, I shrugged, and closed the door behind me. Maybe she was out or something.
I headed straight for my room, which was next to the front door, and dumped my saddlebags on the floor. My stomach rumbled, reminding me that I had forgotten my lunch today. Well, I'd take care of that, and then head out on my weekly adventure.
My room was very small, with a bed barely bigger than me, a desk covered with junk, and a small space carved out next to it that I used as a closet. A small window hung over my bed, overlooking all of the Eastern District. The room would look really dull and dreary without all my pictures covering the walls. Fillies and colts running around lots of green places, shining orbs soaring through an uncovered sky, and the princesses of legend all stared down at me.
Looking up at them, I felt like they were calling to me, daring me to make them become real. I had listened to every story I could about Equestria, about its majesty and beauty. I would
find Equestria someday, and make my father proud, wherever he was.
In the meantime, exploring all of Harmony was enough for now.
I walked into the kitchen, intending to fill up my stomach before heading out. To my surprise, I came face to face with my mom, who was sitting at the kitchen table and reading a small piece of parchment. She suddenly looked up, and her face transformed into a warm smile.
"Oh, hello sweetie, I didn't hear you come in. How was school today?"
"Boring as usual," I shrugged, snagging a few rock fruits from the pantry. "We learned about Prince Balar's water tax in History today. It caused a revolt, or something like that."
Mom twitched a bit for some reason. "That's nice. And how is Sheen? Did he walk home with you again?"
"Yeah, he did, and he's fine," I answered, a little confused by her tone, biting through the fruit's tough skin. She sounded...worried? I dunno, but something sounded off.
"Good to hear," she said, and bit her lip. "Shadow, I want you to stay home until tomorrow morning, okay?"
"What!? But mom, today's Exploring Day, you know that!" I pleaded with her, the rock fruit all but forgotten at her sudden announcement.
"I know sweetie, and I'm really sorry about this, but I need you to stay inside. It's really important."
I wanted to argue and ask why, but one look at her face told me she had made up her mind and wasn't going to budge.
Well, fine. I could always sneak out later.
"This looks like a great spot!" I said happily as I landed in a bunch of ruins near the Council District. The area was pretty desolate, so while I did
stick out quite a bit, nopony was really interested in who was poking their nose around here. Along the way, I had seen a large group of ponies heading towards the District; they had been shouting a lot and waving lots of signs around, but I didn't think they were going to bother me.
Now for the tricky bit: I was trying again to find a secret way into the Council District, and it wasn't like I could dig my way there. But I could
use my special talent, which was to sense geothermal energy and control it somewhat. Any place underground which had a different energy level than the area around it was probably what I was looking for.
"Okay talent, do your thing," I said to myself, and concentrated. The area underground me was level, so no go. I walked among the ruined buildings, looking as hard as I could, but everywhere I went seemed to be the same. After a while, I began to feel discourage, and was about to give up when...
"I found something!" I shouted excitedly. In and beneath the remains of a blasted house, I sensed a larger amount of energy than what I had been sensing up until now. I ran up to it, prancing all the way there, and gleefully stepped onto the spot.
Suddenly, the ground crumbled away, kicking up a lot of dirt and dust, and I flailed wildly as I fell. I stretched out my wings in a panic, but instead of slowing down, I continued falling, and hit rocky ground with a loud THUD!
"Owowow!" I cried. My left wing was hurting me so much!
"Somepony, anypony, please help!" I tried to yell, but it came out as a croak. I couldn't get up from the ground, no matter how hard I tried. Above me, I could hear shouts and screams. I don't think anypony even knew I was down here.
"Somepony save me," I half-whispered, wishing miserably that I had listened to mom and just stayed home.
After a while, the dust in the air started to settle. I looked around and saw the edge of the pit I had fallen into looming over me, so far away, almost untouchable. A dark spot caught my eye, and I looked down to see a hole in the wall.
Wait! A hole in the wall?!
"So there was a way in after all," I mumbled, smiling despite myself. At least I had found a way in.
The pain seemed to shrink after a little while. I tried to flex my wing, but it barely extended even a little before it started hurting a lot.
"Mmmph!" I bit back a scream as tears streamed from my eyes. Nope, I wasn't going to be flying for a while.
It was a long time before I found the strength to stand up. My legs trembling, I walked over to the dark, secret entrance to the Council District. I didn't want to go in, but I had no choice. My wings wouldn't carry me home.
"B-Be brave, Shadow Flame. D-Dad would have been brave too. You can-"
"Shadow!? Is that you!?"
I turned around at the familiar voice, and squinted at the figure standing at the edge of the pit.
"S-Sheen?" I called out, my lips trembling.
"Oh my harmony, are you alright!?" Sheen shouted down.
"N-No," I sniffed, tears rolling down my cheeks. I had never been so happy in my life to see my friend. "I hurt my wing real bad, and I can't fly out!"
"Don't go anywhere, I'll get somepony to help you!" he shouted back, and ran off.
"S-Silly, where am I going to-" I started murmuring, but looking at the secret passage made me suddenly stop. I sat down, and I looked at it for a while. This was what I wanted, wasn't it? Was it really worth it after all, getting hurt for my dreams?
"Mom is going to kill me," I sighed. I could hear voices in the distance, Sheen's among them.
I made my decision.
I'm going to continue exploring. Dad loved to explore too, and he didn't let the fear of being hurt stop him from trying to map the maze. It's what I love, and I won't let anything stop me, no matter what happens.