Muted Heartbeat

Aug 10th, 2018
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  1. Muted Heartbeat by AnthonyC4
  3. >All of your waiting seems to have finally paid off.
  4. >As you walk the halls of the Crystal Empire’s castle flanked by two of her royal guards, you giddily anticipated the coming moments that would change your life forever.
  5. >But first, an introduction; you were a Crystalline Earth pony by the name of Soft Echo.
  6. >When you were born, your parents both marveled at your quietness; whereas most children would be screaming and crying, you remained mostly silent, hence where the name came from.
  7. >However, while your parents were quite pleased, the doctors were rather suspicious.
  8. >After running some quick diagnostics, the truth was revealed.
  9. >You were mute, completely and utterly.
  10. >You didn’t remember the explanation the doctors gave, either it being magical in origin or that you were suffering from some physical abnormality; all you were made aware of was just that you were incapable of vocalizing any sounds and very likely would never be able to for the rest of your life.
  11. >Though the revelation crushed them, your parents never failed to help support you where needed.
  12. >As citizens of the Crystal Empire, having recently re-entered Equestrian society, there was growing hope that somewhere, some treatment existed that would repair your ailment.
  13. >As it currently stood, however, the few medical treatments available that had even the slightest possibility of helping you were grossly over expensive or were simply too far out of your reach in other nations.
  14. >And so, you grew up living a silent life.
  15. >Despite the difficulties of making friends without a voice, you were lucky enough to find a handful of ponies who remained loyal companions throughout all the years.
  16. >You grew up to be a strong and, might you add, beautiful mare.
  17. >Perhaps as some form of divine karma, though you lacked a voice, you more than made up for it with a beautiful visage.
  18. >Your curly mane was the envy of all who knew of it; the way your beautiful hot pink curls cascaded across your neck; restrained only by a cold cyan headband adorned in simple diamond shapes, the same hippie blue color as your eyes, gave you more than enough self-confidence to get you through your day to day encounters.
  19. >The shine from your crystal coat was as desirable as they came, the rusty gold pelt shimmering like jewelry in the light of the sun.
  20. >Upon your flank sat your cutie mark, a long blowpipe.
  21. >As a youth, you spent most of your time apprenticing in various trades, looking for the one you wished to spend your life doing; it was two months after your eleventh birthday when you found a love for glassblowing, which you eagerly learned from an old mare named Free Blow as her apprentice before her untimely passing five years later.
  22. >In her will, she bequeathed her forge to you, the only one in the whole of the Crystal Empire, which you managed single-handedly.
  23. >However, there was truly only one thing you wanted at the end of the day.
  24. >The same thing that nearly every other mare in Equestria wanted; a loving stallion whom you could claim as your own.
  25. >But time dragged on, you soon had to acknowledge an ugly truth.
  26. >There were simply not enough stallions to go around.
  27. >And of those stallions, who could choose any mare to date, would choose a mute.
  28. >If you were feeling particularly strong one day, when nobody was looking, you would try and make some sort of noise.
  29. >Perhaps you could train your body to learn how to speak, you reasoned.
  30. >Then stallions might consider you a suitable mate.
  31. >On good days, you could produce a hoarse gasping noise.
  32. >On not so good days, you’d cough up some blood.
  33. >You were making no progress, and the number of stallions continued to dwindle.
  34. >At the end of your rope, you nearly came to accept the possibility that you might never find a stallion, if not for a special letter that came in the mail one afternoon.
  35. >At the time, you had been walking back from the evening market, carrying a bag full of groceries.
  36. >Though you had to admit, the tariffs on mainland Equestrian crops were simply becoming outrageous.
  37. >Fifteen bits for a pound of carrots was simply unacceptable.
  38. >You might as well have been robbed blind.
  39. >It certainly didn’t help that the current environment made it difficult for the Crystal Empire to produce its own crops.
  40. >The empire was heavily reliant on importing such goods from southern rural townscapes like Ponyville and Appleoosa, among others.
  41. >All this empire was good for is shiny rocks, you thought to yourself.
  42. >If you could have huffed in exasperation, you probably would have.
  43. >As your home came into sight, you took note of the mailbox and saw what appeared to be a letter stuffed haphazardly inside.
  44. >Rolling your eyes, you opened the door to your house before grabbing the letter with your teeth.
  45. >The mailing service had always been far too eager to do their own job properly, usually leading to crumpled up notes and bent packages.
  46. >You hoped that the letter was still intact after the rough treatment it had gone through.
  47. >Placing the bag on the countertop in the kitchen, you plopped the letter on your desk.
  48. >You wondered what the letter could be as you turned on the desk light and put on your reading glasses.
  49. >Opening the envelope, you brushed your long mane out of your eyes before reading the contents of the letter.
  50. >>Dear Soft Echo; I am Princess Cadence of the Crystal Empire—
  51. >Dropping the letter in surprise, you take a moment to catch your breath.
  52. >Taking a quick moment to look at the envelope you had cast aside earlier, you noticed the telltale royal seal on the back.
  53. >Your mind was racing at a dozen thoughts a minute; what in Equestria could the princess herself want with you?
  54. >You hadn’t committed any crimes, at least as far as you were aware of.
  55. >You paid your taxes, participated in the annual census, even did some community work every now and again.
  56. >Slowly, you took deep breaths.
  57. >No, you could not be in trouble.
  58. >No, no.
  59. >As the fear cleared from your mind, you began to think rationally.
  60. >After all, why would Princess Cadence involve herself in dealing with criminal matters?
  61. >That’s more of her husband’s job if anything.
  62. >But then what could she want with you?
  63. >With a shaking hoof, you grabbed the letter and after readjusting your glasses, continued to read.
  64. >>I am sure you are well-aware by now of the declining male population of the greater nation of Equestria, which is becoming a matter of utmost urgency.
  65. >>Though the cause is currently still unknown to us, the simple truth is that fewer and fewer stallions are being born.
  66. >>Despite the efforts of Equestria’s best and brightest, we remain ever clueless as to the underlying cause behind the decreasing male births in this country.
  67. >>As far as we can tell, it is likely to do with a degradation of the Y chromosome in stallions, leading to a decreasing chance of the chromosome being passed on to one’s offspring, and although we have yet to pinpoint whether the condition is due to some random mutation or whether it is some sort of magical malady or even whether it is naturally occurring or was artificially created, the undeniable consequence of less male births is plain as day and requires our immediate attention.
  68. >>As I am the Princess of Love, it is my responsibility to address the concerns of both my people and those who seek to find love, and thus by extension, it is also my obligation to ensure that every mare can find a loving partner to call their own.
  69. >>Finding a solution to our current skewed gender crisis was one of my foremost concerns that, upon my ascension to the crystal throne, I understood would be the greatest challenges I would face as your princess, for this is an issue that not only impacts the Crystal Empire but the whole of the greater Equestrian nation.
  70. >>I have spent many an eve doting on possible solutions; I have communed at great length with other monarchs about this concern, not limiting myself to our southern allies in Equestria, but with a multitude of other nations, including the zebra, the griffons, the minotaurs, the yaks, the buffalo, and even the dragons, in the hopes that a solution would reveal itself either through delegation or discovery.
  71. >>The brightest minds, not only those of Equestria but across all of Equus, assisted me in my endeavor to resolve our current predicament.
  72. >>After a great many failures, dead ends, complications, and impossibilities, I am extremely pleased to announce that we have discovered what could very well be a solution to our current state.
  73. >>But before I continue, I feel it pertinent to attribute the discovery and subsequent experimentation and verification of our saving grace to my beloved sister-in-law, who you may know as Princess Twilight Sparkle.
  74. >>As much as I would love to quote her words to explain the procedure, those who are familiar with her understand that her language veers most verbose, so I shall simply paraphrase in succinct terms the general explanation.
  75. >>Firstly, she dwelled on her experiences with inter-dimensional travel, the details of which are unnecessary to understanding the procedure itself, and came to the realization that perhaps, in what is likely an infinite number of alternate dimensions, a solution to our current predicament must, as a statistical certainty, must exist in at least one of them.
  76. >>For several months, I convened with Twilight, as well as my aunts and other magically adept unicorns, where we devised a spell that might bridge a gap between our world and another.
  77. >>Though creating a rift between dimensions is a, relatively speaking, simple matter, modifying the spell such that it connects us with a world with the particular qualities we were looking for is far more complex.
  78. >>Again, I must attribute the invention of the spell to my sister-in-law, who was able to find us the world we needed in a fraction of the time we expected to be finished by through using the framework of an already existing rift between dimensions as a base.
  79. >>Thanks to Princess Twilight’s efforts, we successfully devised a spell that would connect Equus with another land, one that the inhabitants have named Earth.
  80. >>From our observations, the planet is populated with beings known as humans, a species which appears to be part of the Great Ape family tree, though they don’t look nearly as bulky or hairy.
  81. >>Upon collecting some blood samples, we discovered that the Y chromosome is far healthier in humans than in stallions, resulting in a nearly equal gender birth rate.
  82. >>However, during our investigation to see whether an officially recognized bridging of universes would be possible, we came across a rather bleak discovery.
  83. >>It appears that in this world, human females have lost their senses; further observation concluded that starting about half a century ago, they began a societal revolution in which, despite claiming initially to be for toppling a male-dominated society in the pursuit of equal standings, has since evolved into a disastrous debasing of morality and common sense.
  84. >>In the interest of withholding some of the more depressing revelations we have discovered in our viewing of Earth, I shall simply state that the “men”, as human males call themselves, have grown weary of continued female promiscuity and immorality and have come to long for a truly loving and loyal partner.
  85. >>This is where I came up with the final piece of the puzzle that would not only solve our skewed gender problem but would also help these poor humans find the true love they so desire.
  86. >>To this end, I aim to use the Crystal Heart so that I might find humans whose soul mate lives here, in Equestria.
  87. >>Yet again, thanks to the efforts of Princess Twilight, we were able to successfully find a human-pony match.
  88. >>Though perhaps the fact that it was Twilight herself that was matched might have had something to do with it.
  89. >>I am sure you must have heard the rumors of a bipedal creature living in her castle down in mainland Equestria, which you can consider to be rumors no longer.
  90. >>Throughout their relationship which began a mere ten months ago, we made sure to properly understand their culture and help acclimate him to Equestrian life, detailing everything of importance.
  91. >>Just four weeks ago, Twilight gave birth to a healthy young colt, whose Y chromosome has seemingly been repaired.
  92. >>No birthing difficulties were noted, and the foal has passed all physical inspections; the foal also appears to have inherited very few human qualities, meaning that there is little concern of mutation or disability due to interbreeding between species.
  93. >>This is where you come in.
  94. >>As I was using the Crystal Heart to match these poor men with a loving mare here in Equestria, one lucky human was matched with none other than you.
  95. >>I understand that this may be very confusing and out of the blue, but if you would, I aim to unite the two of you together as a single loving union.
  96. >>We will be fully willing to assist in any available means in order to help ensure the relationship takes off smoothly.
  97. >>If you could respond to this letter within the next few days, we will prepare an escort to personally bring you to your match, in the hopes that a husbando might meet his waifu.
  98. >>I eagerly await your response.
  99. >>With love, Princess Cadence.
  100. >The letter fluttered out of your hands, your mouth agape as you tried to process what you had just read.
  101. >Humans?
  102. >Another world?
  103. >Becoming a w-waifu?
  104. >You began to sway side to side, your head pounding in tune with your heartbeat, and the room itself felt like it was spinning.
  105. >With a silent sigh, you flopped backward, your eyes growing heavy.
  106. >In a matter of moments, you had passed out completely.
  107. >…
  108. >
  109. >…
  110. >As the sound of jovial laughter faded away behind you, you give a tired nod to the two guards standing at attention by a set of two large crystal doors.
  111. >Giving a grunt in confirmation, they grabbed the handles and started to pull the massive and heavy doors open before returning to their original positions, giving another grunt as they did so.
  112. >You thanked the two guards with a grin on your face, to which they saluted in response, before entering the room ahead of you.
  113. >The throne room was large, nearly as much as the one back in Canterlot, and you felt that yours was prettier, though your aunts tended to disagree.
  114. >At the end, sitting on the throne was none other than your beloved husband, Prince Shining Armor, who appeared to be in the middle of a discussion with one of his generals.
  115. >You were too tired to listen in on their conversation; you had just spent the entire day uniting mares with their human husbandos, and though the sound of joy at two lovers meeting for the first time is indeed a wonderful sound, it can be quite the drain on you.
  116. >He only just now noticed your approach, giving you a warm smile as you trotted up to him.
  117. >”General, I believe that will be all for now. You are dismissed.”
  118. >The general, who you knew as Cut Ruby, saluted to your husband before turning about face and marching back the way you came, pausing for a moment to give you a curt bow, before continuing on his way.
  119. >Closing the distance between the two of you, you gave him a peck on his cheek before nuzzling him.
  120. “Good evening, Shiny.”
  121. >Shining nuzzled you back, returning your affections.
  122. >”Good evening, dear. How was your day?”
  123. >You opened your mouth to respond, only to yawn instead.
  124. >Shining chuckled.
  125. >”That tiring, huh? Maybe you should get to bed. Tomorrow is going to be even rougher. Once news of these humans reaches the general public, we will hardly have the time to rest.”
  126. “I know, I know.”
  127. >Shining nudged you towards the back of the throne room, which would take you to your bedchambers, snorting at your response.
  128. >”I know that you know. But I also know that you will not go to bed unless to put you there myself.”
  129. >Digging in your hooves, you tried to resist Shining, and although many years ago your strength as an alicorn used to be enough to overpower him, he had since disciplined his body thanks to rigorous training, rendering your innate strength useless against him.
  130. ”No, Shiny, I don’t want to go to bed.”
  131. >Despite your whining, your husband remained steadfast and continued pushing you closer to your chambers.
  132. >”I can take care of the rest of your duties for now. You, on the other hand, aren’t nearly as used to a packed schedule. Trust me, you need as much sleep as you can get right now. Prince’s orders.”
  133. >Your weak complaints did not deter him, yet you continued anyway, your eyes drooping and your body relaxing.
  134. “Shining, you can’t pull rank on me. I’m the head of state, not you.”
  135. >”Oh, come off it, you. You are going to sleep and that’s final.”
  136. “No, I don’t… I don’t wanna… go to bed yet….”
  137. >As much as you wanted to resist, your own body betrayed you, and the familiar weight that came with sleep began to spread across you.
  138. >Shining chuckled as your eyes closed.
  139. >”See? What’d I tell ya? You’re practically asleep already.”
  140. “Snzzz… g… g’night Shiny….”
  141. >”…Good night, Cadence. I love you.”
  142. “You… too….”
  143. >And just like that, you were out like a light, lost in the blissful dreams of matching husbandos and waifus as a small smile spread across your sleeping face, your husbando holding you in his magic, carrying you into the bedroom.
  144. >…
  145. >
  146. >…
  147. >The jumbled voices of peddling passerby filled the air as you trotted across the large plaza which lay below Princess Cadence’s castle.
  148. >Two guards marched alongside you in rhythm as they escorted you to one of the large supports that held up the towering spire.
  149. >It had been around five days since you had received the letter that would change your life forever, in ways you still could not predict.
  150. >The possibility of finding a suitor was simply too great of a magnitude to ignore.
  151. >Once you had arisen from your involuntary slumber, fully taking in just what you were being offered, you frantically scribbled out a response that could only barely be considered legible before stuffing it haphazardly in a manila sleeve and galloping off towards the nearest post office.
  152. >The next few days you had spent eagerly writing to your friends and families about the letter; despite the rather unorthodox and atypical nature of the situation, your enthusiasm was simply too infectious to ignore, and thus they could do naught but be happy for you, some of which even wistfully expressed a tinge of jealousy at your incredible luck.
  153. >You came to a stop just before the leg of the castle, where the guards marched up to the structure and put their hooves in what appeared to be circular slots carved into the wall.
  154. >A flash of light could be seen from behind their hooves before fading away after a few moments, at which point the guards stepped back down.
  155. >A soft ringing noise echoed from behind the wall, followed by the wall splitting open in a rather lavishly dramatic fashion.
  156. >Taking a few hesitant steps forward, you entered the newly formed entrance, tailed closely behind by the two guards.
  157. >Before you stood a spiraling staircase, connecting the ground to the elevated castle base.
  158. >It wasn’t very brightly lit inside; most of what you could see was due to light passing through the crystal walls.
  159. >If you strained your eyes enough, you bet you could see through it to the plaza you came from.
  160. >You took long and slow strides, taking the time to gaze at the beautiful architecture as you climbed up the finely cut crystal stairs.
  161. >In hindsight, the trek wasn’t nearly as long as your slow gait made it out to be, but it still felt as though the stairs went on forever.
  162. >Finally, you reached the top of the massive spiral; as you took a moment to catch your breath, the guards once again passed you by and inserted their hooves into another pair of circle grooves, opening the wall to the first floor of the castle.
  163. >The sight of the sparkling walls and intricate décor spurred you forward; the knowledge that your soon-to-be husbando was a mere jaunt away.
  164. >Picking up the pace, you giddily skipped through the hallways, wondering just what your husbando would look like.
  165. >Was he bigger than you?
  166. >Smaller?
  167. >The letter said his kind were like apes, you reminded yourself.
  168. >If so, that might make him taller than you.
  169. >You didn’t have much of a problem with that at all, in fact, it sounded rather dreamy.
  170. >”Miss Soft Echo?”
  171. >If he is an ape, would he have a lot of body hair?
  172. >Would it tickle if you tried to hug him?
  173. >Maybe—
  174. >”Miss Echo, watch—”
  175. >Having been skipping along mindlessly, you failed to notice the wall of pink and purple in front of you until it was far too late.
  176. >In a matter of moments, you found yourself sprawled out across the floor, with a rather dizzy looking Princess Cadence underneath you.
  177. >Realizing your error, you quickly scrambled onto your hooves to allow Cadence to stand up; your cheeks flushed in embarrassment as you hung your head in shame, your ears pinned to the sides of your head.
  178. >The princess huffed and dusted herself off, making sure to return her crown to her head which had fallen off in the accident, before turning to you with a knowing smile.
  179. >”Well, I suppose it will humor you to learn that you are far from the first mare to run me over today, and I have a feeling you will be far from the last.”
  180. >Your tail swished absent-mindedly behind you as you refused to raise your head to meet her gaze.
  181. >Cadence scoffed, rolling her eyes in exasperation.
  182. >”Come on now, you have a husbando waiting for you. Let’s not keep him waiting.”
  183. >At that, you perked up, a tiny smile spreading across your muzzle as Cadence gestured you to follow her.
  184. >”Now, I must ask if you have read the letter I sent you in full?”
  185. >Nodding your head in response, the princess continued.
  186. >”Of course. I was simply making sure. Then you will be happy to know that your husbando has already been successfully extracted from Earth and has been in our care since around nine days ago, learning the intricacies of our culture in preparation to meet his waifu.”
  187. >Your heart swelled at the thought of your husbando eagerly getting himself ready for your arrival; ready for a love he had thought lost to him.
  188. >”Now, before we bring the two of you to meet, there is just one thing I need to inform you about. It’s about your husbando….”
  189. >…
  190. >
  191. >…
  192. >”Uhm… Do you mind if I look at it for a minute? It’s just a, uh, safety precaution, is all.”
  193. >You looked down from your seat on the doctor’s table at the shifty footed nurse mare, who funnily enough looked rather uncomfortable looking at your neck.
  194. >But you didn’t blame her, though.
  195. >The long scar trailing across your throat was more than enough to intimidate anyone, much less the ponies of this world.
  196. >After giving it a quick rub, a habit of yours, you nodded in affirmation.
  197. >Though visibly perturbed, the nurse puffed up her chest before raising her forelegs onto your knees, giving the large cut a disgusted yet intense look.
  198. >As she studied your wound, you took a moment to reflect on your current circumstances.
  199. >Your name was Anonymous.
  200. >You had grown up in simple circumstances, in a tucked away suburban town.
  201. >However, growing up was difficult for you.
  202. >The particular part of town you lived in was completely barren of other children.
  203. >It was instead filled with middle aged adults whose children had already been sent of to college or were out having lives of their own long before you were even able to read.
  204. >Without any friends close by, you grew up to become a quiet recluse, sometimes going through entire days without ever uttering a single word.
  205. >When the time came for you to be entered into school, you found it exceptionally difficult to approach other kids, whom already had plenty of social interaction by this point.
  206. >You were a silent outcast, spending recess wandering the blacktop all on your lonesome.
  207. >This continued for several friendless years, until your parents, concerned as they were, found it necessary to bring you before a family therapist, in the hopes of finding some way to crack your shell.
  208. >And while you eventually did learn to be sociable, the damage had already been done.
  209. >Social circles were simply wound too tight to accept you at this point.
  210. >You lost your chance to have a friend filled childhood.
  211. >But all was not doom and gloom for you; you found pleasure in keeping to yourself and whatever pursuits found your fancy.
  212. >You acquired a love for reading and learning; you would go out of your way to learn something new.
  213. >Once, after stumbling across an old rotary phone in your parents’ attic, you took it apart to learn just how it operated.
  214. >Of course, being the child you were, you had no clue how to put it back together again, much to the chagrin of your parents.
  215. >Your life was simple and uninteresting, yet as far as you cared, that was all there was to life.
  216. >But sometimes, late at night when your mind payed heed to thoughts most displeasing to the fully awakened consciousness, you would question the nature of your reality.
  217. >Was lonesomeness to be your ultimate lot in life?
  218. >Though you did not envy your peers for you had, after all, no acceptable amount experience with intricate social interactions nor romantic interests to understand their greater purposes, you couldn’t help but acknowledge an inner emptiness that felt ubiquitous in its encapsulant morbid design.
  219. >To what end this wretched feeling delved to was very much unknown to you, yet in admitting such, it burned you with a disgusting passion in your moments of weakness; that which felt to be unknowable to one such as yourself was a despicable statement that you hardly wanted to even notice, let alone accept as the reality of your circumstances.
  220. >So, you pushed such macabre thoughts to the back of your mind as they appeared, for dwelling upon them in your sorry state would yield no satisfiable conclusion, no reassuring explanation.
  221. >But as fate would have it, your gross enigmatic meditations would come to be realized, yet it would be done so in a manner most perverse and only after tribulations and sorrow.
  222. >It had happened when you were sixteen years old; the past few days your throat had been swelling and growing increasingly congealed.
  223. >Your parents had simply dismissed it as a simple cold, until your father took a closer look at your neck, only to find a rather concerning lump.
  224. >After that, it was a quick trip to the emergency room, wherein you learned the cause of your seemingly innocuous symptoms.
  225. >You had laryngeal cancer.
  226. >Though the shock was great, the need for immediate medical attention was greater; before the day was over with, you were on the operating table prepared to have your larynx surgically removed.
  227. >And although the surgery was a success, you were left a mute.
  228. >Without your larynx, you could not produce the vibrations in your throat that would allow you to form speech.
  229. >And though you were more than thankful that you were able to catch the cancer before things got truly bad, the loss of your voice led you into a deep depression.
  230. >The next few years were a blur; the days seemed to blend together as life moved on, seemingly indifferent to your depressive episode.
  231. >It wasn’t until your nineteenth birthday that things began to feel a little less bleak as your parents gifted you an electrolarynx.
  232. >It was small, and you were constantly afraid of losing it or breaking it, but the mere presence of it was enough to get you through your days.
  233. >Your childhood spent tinkering with little machines had prepared you for a scenario such as this; you learned the inns and outs of your electrolarynx, making sure the parts were always clean and operational, replacing and upgrading it as needed.
  234. >But you were so focused on your machine, that once again, life had passed you by.
  235. >Once again, this time in college, the social circles had been closed off, friendships already made, and you were once again an outcast.
  236. >And you likely would have remained so, if not for the surprise appearance of a rather cartoonish pony that appeared in your dorm in a flash of colorful light.
  237. >The particulars of the encounter you preferred to keep private, but quite simply, the opportunity to experience that which had always been denied to you was simply too tempting.
  238. >The late nights of wondering would be spent wondering no more, for the chance to find not only friendship, but companionship had just fallen into your lap.
  239. >And by God, you were not going to let it pass by like every other chance fate had tempted you with for the better part of your life.
  240. >You took a few moments to compose yourself before following the pony into the dimension beyond your own, not wasting a single moment to look back on the life you were leaving behind.
  241. >But it was unfortunate to note that there was one consequence to your decision.
  242. >In hindsight, you knew the pony who brought you here was not at fault; he simply could not have known.
  243. >But the transition between universes caused your electrolarynx to short circuit.
  244. >It was completely fried.
  245. >Unusable.
  246. >Broken.
  247. >The few hours afterwards were filled with panic, as you tried and failed to communicate, and the ponies who brought you back couldn’t understand you.
  248. >Over the course of a few days, you were able to communicate basic information, yes and no, this or that, but that seemed to be the extent of your vocabulary at the moment.
  249. >You were a long way away from explaining the intricacies of your electrolarynx, that was for certain.
  250. >It wasn’t even entirely clear whether or not the technology to repair it existed in this fantasy land.
  251. >You were nearly overtaken by grief yet again, yet you found strength in the hopes of a loving mare to spend your days with.
  252. >A dependence upon a mare you didn’t even know grew within you, and you tried your absolute best to prepare for her arrival.
  253. >That brought you to where you were right now, being examined by a little nurse pony moments before you were set to meet your waifu.
  254. >The excitement was palpable in spite of the nurse’s squeamish attitude.
  255. >Speaking of which….
  256. >”A-Alright, Anon. I think you are ready.”
  257. >The nurse stepped down, giving you the freedom to stand up and stretch your limbs.
  258. >As you popped your limbs getting out all of the pins and needles, the mare trotted over to the door before turning around to face you, waiting patiently.
  259. >”Are you ready to meet your mare?”
  260. >Gulping in anticipation, you timidly nodded your head in agreement.
  261. >Responding with a nod of her own, the nurse pushed open the door and left the room with you close behind.
  262. >”Then let’s not keep her waiting. Follow me, Anonymous.”
  263. >The slow walk down the crystal walls of the palace was nearly enough to drive you mad.
  264. >Your hand dipped into your pocket where you kept the broken electrolarynx, grasping it tightly not unlike how a child would hold his mother’s hand.
  265. >Despite the machine no longer being in operable condition, its presence still helped you relax during moments of stress.
  266. >As you took a few deep breaths, you took a moment to image what kind of mare you were matched with.
  267. >The kind of mare that was supposed to be your perfect match.
  268. >Was she a crystal pony, like the guard who initially pulled you into this world?
  269. >Or was she an Earth pony, like the nurse who was leading you down the halls?
  270. >Or perhaps, she was a Pegasus?
  271. >You had seen a few during your acclimation to the Crystal Empire, maybe one of them was your waifu?
  272. >There were so many questions filling your mind, driving it up the wall with speculation.
  273. >”Okay, Anon.”
  274. >The interjection from the nurse interrupted your internal musings; you looked down to the mare curiously.
  275. >”Wait here. Princess Cadence will be here shortly with your waifu. Now before we begin, I am instructed to inform you about some… quirks your waifu has. Now, stop me if this sounds familiar to you….”
  276. >…
  277. >
  278. >…
  279. >”Now I must inform you of a few procedures that you need to follow once we get you acquainted with your husband, Miss Echo. Listen properly, okay? We want to make sure everything runs smoothly, alright?”
  280. >You nodded your head in gross anticipation of what was to come.
  281. >In fact, your whole body was visibly quaking in anticipation of meeting what would soon become the love of your life.
  282. >It would appear that you did a poor job of hiding it, if the growing smirk on Princess Cadence’s face was anything to go by.
  283. >”Do you need a moment to compose yourself?”
  284. >You shook your head with a furious fervor.
  285. >You were not going to let even another moment more come in between your fated meeting.
  286. >Not a single one.
  287. >Cadence raised an eyebrow as she watched you bounce in place, taking a moment to wait for your adrenaline rush to subside, though it soon became apparent that such was looking to be a waste of time.
  288. >Rolling her eyes and letting loose and exasperated sigh, the princess continued her spiel.
  289. >”Alright, alright, settle down. This is how things are going to work. In a few moments, you are going to be brought before your husbando. Due to the rather unorthodox nature of both of you, I will be present for the initial meeting, which normally I don’t like to do. I would prefer to leave the two of you to your own devices, but given that neither of you can properly speak, I am willing to step in just this once.”
  290. >Cadence turned to the side and began pacing back and forth, obviously reciting everything from memory in a rehearsed fashion.
  291. >”The two of you will spend the next three days here in the guest wing of the castle as you get accustomed to one another. During those days, we hope to help form the intricate bond of love so that we can perform the wedding ceremony on the third day. Understand?”
  292. >You vigorously nodded your head in response, to which Cadence chuckled heartily.
  293. >”Are you excited?”
  294. >Nodding further, you continued bouncing as the princess gave you a bemused look.
  295. >”Yeah, I can understand. I felt the same way after I met my Shining. It’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?”
  296. >A knocking sound echoed across the hallway from a pair of crystal doors on the other side of the hall.
  297. >Cadence glanced over in its direction as your bouncing slowed to a halt.
  298. >She gave you a quick look before trotting over to the door.
  299. >”One moment please.”
  300. >As she walked away, the door opened slightly to reveal an Earth pony wearing a distinctive nurse cap.
  301. >The two of them had a quaint conversation in hushed tones that you could not overhear, despite straining to do so.
  302. >You saw the nurse give a smile, nodding at something the princess said before turning back and returning back to behind the doors.
  303. >Cadence also began to march her way back over to you, a large grin on her face.
  304. >”Well, it would seem that the time is almost upon us. Before we go to meet your husbando, let’s go over everything again. And please, sit still this time!”
  305. >Quickly sitting on your haunches, Cadence eyed you up and down before repeating herself for the last time.
  306. >”You and your husbando are going to meet each other in a few minutes in the other room. I will be there to assist the both of you in introducing one another. The two of you will then spend the next three days here in the castle to become acclimated to one another. If everything goes as planned, the two of you will be married on the third day, after which you will return to your homes to live out your lives as you see fit. Is everything clear?”
  307. >Nodding for what you hoped was the last time, Cadence motioned for you to follow her as she turned and trotted over to the doors where the nurse had come from.
  308. >Your mouth felt dry as you shakily stood up and followed suit after her.
  309. >Abruptly, Cadence jolted to a quick stop, before turning to face you once again with yet another warm smile on her face.
  310. >”Oh yes, it almost slipped my mind. But given the nature of his, er, condition, it would be remiss of me not to mention his name. He is known as Anonymous, though Anon seems to work as a nickname. Now that is out of the way….”
  311. >The princess raised a hoof and knocked on the door before calling out at, presumably the nurse who had left moments ago.
  312. >”Alright, we’re ready! We’re coming in now!”
  313. >Cadence gave you one last look before pushing open the doors.
  314. >In the middle of the room, standing next to the nurse pony with his back facing you, stood a tall figure.
  315. >You could only assume that this was the human, your husbando.
  316. >He wore clothing, which you found strangely attractive; wearing what appeared to be a simple cotton shirt and denim jeans.
  317. >The mop of a mane on his head was a dark brown, not unlike the color of stained wood, and appeared to be cut far shorter than most manes you were used to seeing, though perhaps this was simply a style typical of males, you weren’t entirely sure.
  318. >Surprisingly, despite him supposedly being some sort of Great Ape, he bore very little body hair, which appeared sparsely on his arms from what you could see from this angle.
  319. >And under those shoes, were those… socks?
  320. >How scandalous… and arousing~
  321. >The sound of the creaking door drew the attention of the giant, who turned around.
  322. >As soon as the two of you locked eyes, it was like the rest of the world faded away.
  323. >You weren’t exactly certain when you started moving, but your human grew closer and closer until a warm sensation enveloped your body.
  324. >The big and strong arms of your husband wrapped themselves around you, pulling you tight to his chest as his eyes never once left yours.
  325. >With your hooves hooked onto your human’s shoulders, your face drew ever closer to his.
  326. >As the two of you grew close, your gaze was attracted to a discoloration just below his chin.
  327. >Your curiosity peaked, you managed to break eye contact with your mate in order to notice a long scar running along the length of his neck.
  328. >Mouth agape and eyes welling with tears, you brought up a shaking hoof to lightly rub the large wound.
  329. >Lifting your head again to meet his eyes, you saw a sadness behind them.
  330. >An unspoken pain, yet beyond that…
  331. >You saw hope.
  332. >You saw a longing and desire for another’s warmth.
  333. >You saw a promise; that in spite of every hardship, in spite of every challenge, he will always keep you near and dear, so long as you promise the same of him as well.
  334. >Stretching your neck forward, you brought your muzzle up to the human’s cheek, closing your eyes as you did so.
  335. >Nuzzling his cheek, you felt a warm and gooey feeling flare up within you, spreading from your core to the tips of your hooves.
  336. >A shifting sound could be heard as the human slowly sank down, sitting on the hard floor as he brought a hand up to massage your head.
  337. >Through your human’s chest, a powerful heartbeat thrummed, lightly tickling you with every pulse.
  338. >As the two of you laid there, you felt the musical rhythm synchronize with yours, the melodious beat serenading you into a drowsy state.
  339. >If you had been just a little bit more awake, perhaps you could’ve heard Princess Cadance mutter to the nurse by her side.
  340. >”Perhaps we should give the two of them some privacy. It would appear that my initial apprehensions were unfounded; we were not needed here.”
  341. >A quiet poof resounded in the now empty hall, yet neither you nor your human paid it any heed.
  342. >For all that you were concerned, it was just you and him.
  343. >Soft Echo and her Anonymous.
  344. >…
  345. >
  346. >…
  347. >The way his hands caressed your body…
  348. >How they lovingly traced your form with reverence and care…
  349. >Just remembering it make you feel like swooning.
  350. >It had been a few hours since the two of you parted, but already a connection appeared to have formed between the both of you.
  351. >You now stood in a comfy little room given to you for the next few days by Princess Cadence, admiring yourself before a full-length mirror.
  352. >Speaking of whom, the Princess of Love tittered around the room behind you, muttering something under her breath while sneaking quick glances in your direction.
  353. >If you didn’t know any better, you’d say that she was more apprehensive to your date than you were!
  354. >Turning back to the mirror, you gave yourself a once-over, making sure you were looking your best for when Anon arrived.
  355. >You didn’t want to overwhelm him with something over the top, so you elected for a simple light blue dress with a white bow wrapped around your midsection with little diamonds lining the fabric.
  356. >It was just a little something you had hanging in your closet for some time, which you had never thought you’d have the opportunity to use.
  357. >Until today, that is.
  358. >A cough from Cadence attracted your attention.
  359. >”Um, Miss Echo, forgive me for acting… less than seemly. I merely wish to ensure that your date goes smoothly, but….”
  360. >It was rather weird, seeing the princess as perturbed as you were.
  361. >Cadence’s kept her gaze low as she pawed at the floor absent-mindedly.
  362. >”I… I must admit that I’ve never had to deal with a problem quite as peculiar as yours. And the fact that he shares your affliction makes things ever more complex. I am afraid I am at a bit of a loss. None of my usual assistance and advice translates well to such a situation as this.”
  363. >Cadence bowed her head, her ears drooping in shame.
  364. >”Forgive me, as the Princess of Love I should be assisting you as best I can, yet this dilemma has proved to be quite the unexpected wrinkle in my grand plan.”
  365. >There was a brief period of silence as the two of you stood there, unmoving, before you loudly huffed, waiting until Cadence had lifted her head before making a show of rolling your eyes in exasperation.
  366. >A blush forming on her face, Cadence looked away, abashed.
  367. >”S-Sorry.”
  368. >Luckily for her, a series of knocks on the door saved the princess from her embarrassment.
  369. >Releasing a barely contained sigh of relief, Cadence quickly made her way over to the door, opening it to find one of the castle servants.
  370. >”Princess, the date is ready. The lucky stallion, or should I say, man, is awaiting his match.”
  371. >Cadence nodded, uttering a quick thank you before turning to face you again.
  372. >Audibly swallowing, you nodded to her in confirmation before following the servant to the courtyard, greatly anticipating what was to come.
  373. >…
  374. >
  375. >…
  376. >You tugged on your cuffs and straightened your tie, making sure you were presentable for your mare.
  377. >It was a bit surprising that the ponies could be so good at making clothing for beings of such a different body type, but you were thankful that you wouldn’t be disrespecting your match by wearing the casual clothes that you arrived here in during your date.
  378. >Once you were satisfied with your appearance, you took a few deep breaths, taking in your surroundings.
  379. >You stood before a small table for two, which you would soon be dining on with your mare.
  380. >An olive-green bottle sat in the middle of the table, flanked by two wine glasses, while both your plate and Soft Echo’s were covered up, likely to keep the food warm while also making the dinner underneath a bit of a surprise.
  381. >The servants wouldn’t let you peek at the food underneath when it was brought out, and they gave you a dirty look for trying.
  382. >Your dinner date was set up in a little alcove in the courtyard, hidden away from prying eyes.
  383. >Just like the castle itself, the courtyard was full of crystal architecture, which glimmered beautifully in the light of the sunset, the reflected orange and purple light sparkling hypnotically, yet not distractingly.
  384. >Though one would think that the transparency of the crystal décor would be inhibitive to a private encounter, the little hideaway was hidden from view thanks to some effectively obstructive hedges and grape vines, with a few flowers adding some whites and pinks to the color palette.
  385. >The refreshingly cool breeze washed over you, and though it felt nice, you hoped it didn’t mess up your hair.
  386. >As you stood there contentedly, your ears started to pick up the rhythmic tapping indicative of approaching ponies.
  387. >Turning around, you soon found yourself dumbstruck at the sight of Soft Echo entering the courtyard.
  388. >It was like you had tunnel vision; all other sensory input simply stopped registering in your mind.
  389. >Soft Echo, your mare, was all that had your attention.
  390. >Her gaze was downcast, a light blush gave her face a bit of color, which you found adorable in the highest sense of the word.
  391. >You could see her take a deep breath before puffing her cheeks up in a cute manner and raising her head to meet your gaze, causing your heart to skip a beat.
  392. >She approached at a leisurely pace, her stride becoming more confident and self-assured with each step, until she arrived before you, her nervousness seemingly evaporating.
  393. >The two of you stood there, in silent admiration of each other, before you moved to pull out a chair for her.
  394. >An appreciative smile spread across her face as she took her seat, breaking her gaze only to re-establish it a moment later once she had settled in.
  395. >You returned to the other side of the table before seating yourself, flashing a smile of your own in return.
  396. >…
  397. >Now what?
  398. >It appeared that you hadn’t thought this far ahead.
  399. >The two of you were just sitting there staring at each other.
  400. >Should you open the trays and start eating?
  401. >Or should you wait a while?
  402. >The air of confidence that had been steadily accumulating since Soft Echo appeared has since crashed down to rubble.
  403. >What was once a quiet and romantic encounter was quickly turning into a rather awkward silence.
  404. >You felt your heartbeat in your ears as your mind raced about, trying to figure out what you should do next.
  405. >It was one thing to go on a date for the first time, but it’s a whole other beast doing it without the ability to talk!
  406. >If only your electrolarynx was still operable, at least the two of you would be able to make some headway, but as it stood, you still lacked both the materials needed to fix it and the ability to communicate this information with the ponies.
  407. >Oh, what to do….
  408. >…
  409. >
  410. >…
  411. >He was just staring at you.
  412. >Still smiling, which is a good thing, but it was making things rather awkward rather fast.
  413. >You were totally lost.
  414. >What were you supposed to do?
  415. >Cadence never told you what to do during a dinner date!
  416. >Come to think of it, she never really told you what to do at all, much less the formalities of a date…
  417. >But you’ll have to sort that mess out another time; you need to figure out how to keep this dinner date running smoothly!
  418. >Anon shifted in his seat slightly, which you imitated while you pondered your options.
  419. >Um… would eating be the right move here?
  420. >Oh, but wouldn’t it be rude to just open the dish and start eating?
  421. >But what else is there to do?
  422. >…
  423. >
  424. >…
  425. >Swearing under your breath, you watched in despair as Anonymous and Soft Echo sat in complete cluelessness, which was evident on their faces to the trained eye of the Princess of Love.
  426. >You looked on at the two lovebird’s date from an elevated angle hidden from view by the trees, keeping a watchful eye on the ongoing date below.
  427. >”I knew I was right to be worried. These two dating amateurs are completely lost! I gotta fix this before the date is ruined.”
  428. >Lowering the binoculars from your face, you turned to the waiter sitting patiently by your side.
  429. >”What would you have me do, my Princess?”
  430. “Anonymous and Soft Echo can’t talk, so they need an instigator. I want you to go down there and help them get started on dinner.”
  431. >The waiter pony bowed his head.
  432. >”Of course, my Princess. I shall be there momentarily.”
  433. >Returning your gaze back to Anonymous and Soft Echo, you resumed your observation.
  434. >This date was going to go swimmingly, if you had anything to say about it!
  435. >…
  436. >
  437. >…
  438. >Fidgeting with your hands underneath the table, you racked your brain for a solution to your current predicament.
  439. >Luckily, as it would seem, you were saved by the sound of approaching hooves coming from behind you.
  440. >Feeling relief washing over you, you turned around to see a grey unicorn stallion with a slicked-back mane and black mustache approaching.
  441. >”Good evening, dear guests. My name is Silver Platter and I will be your waiter for tonight. Let’s get the two of you started on dinner now, shall we?”
  442. >Nodding in affirmation, you turned back to Soft Echo, catching the barest glimpse of relief spreading across her face before she hid her blushing face behind her hooves.
  443. >Silver Platter trotted over to the table, grasping the dishes in his magic.
  444. >Lifting the cover off the plate, a steaming meal was revealed before you.
  445. >You weren’t exactly sure what the dish was, you were no cook after all.
  446. >But Soft Echo appear rather giddy at the sight, so perhaps it was worth a try.
  447. >Scooping up a chunk with your fork, you gave it a light blow to cool the simmering food somewhat before taking a bite, before quickly scooping up a second, wolfing it down as if you didn’t have a care in the world.
  448. >You weren’t expecting pony cuisine to be quite as delectable as this, but you sure weren’t complaining.
  449. >Swallowing what was in your mouth, you chanced a quick glance up towards your date, which netted you the sight of Soft Echo smiling warmly, with her eyes closed and cheeks slightly tinged red, humming softly to herself.
  450. >Feeling your own cheeks begin to warm up, you averted your gaze, returning to the wonderfully delicious meal set before you.
  451. >At some point, the waiter must have made his exit, seeing as a cursory glance around the outcrop showed that he had seemingly left the two of you alone to your own devices.
  452. >It wasn’t long until the two of you had finished your meals, leaving you with a satisfyingly warm belly of food.
  453. >You sat there for a few moments, not eager to interrupt the silence, but you soon realized that things would become awkward once again if the silence reigned for much longer.
  454. >Thinking quickly, you slowly stood up, grabbing the attention of Soft Echo, who looked at you curiously.
  455. >Reaching a hand across the table, you picked up the bottle of wine that had been sitting there alone on the table, collecting condensation from the cool night air.
  456. >Giving it a little shake, you grabbed Soft Echo’s wine glass with your other hand, giving her a warm inviting smile as you did so.
  457. >Soft Echo blinked slowly, seemingly processing the unspoken question, before responding with a smile and nod of her own.
  458. >With that out of the way, you set the glass back on the table and picked up a corkscrew, and with a bit of elbow grease removed the cork with a resounding popping noise.
  459. >As you went to pour Soft Echo’s glass, it suddenly occurred to you that your standard drink size is probably considerably larger than hers.
  460. >Hesitating for a moment, you pondered how much wine would be considered appropriate for a pony.
  461. >For that matter, how much would be appropriate for you?
  462. >If you poured considerably more wine for yourself than for her, she might think of you as a drunk, or worse; she might take it as an insult.
  463. >Steeling your nerves, you decided that risking a larger standard drink size would be foolish, so you settled for pouring half of what you would consider a normal amount for both you and her.
  464. >…
  465. >
  466. >…
  467. >You watched as Anonymous poured you your glass of wine.
  468. >If you were being honest, you had never tasted alcohol before; especially not wine as extravagant and, how should you say, expensive as what you were about to partake in.
  469. >The orange-tinted drink glinted delectably in the fading light of the sun, though Anonymous had filled your glass to a lesser amount than you expected.
  470. >Not that you were concerned much, though.
  471. >Despite how short of a time you knew him, you were already fully ready and committed; you were in no position and had no such need to question the trust you placed in him.
  472. >Once Anon had returned to his seat at the table, you raised your glass and gestured toward him.
  473. >With a smile, Anon responded similarly, and with that the two of you made a silent toast, the clinking noise of the glasses hitting each other echoing softly in the air.
  474. >Turning your eyes to the drink in your hooves, you swallowed briefly before raising the glass to your lips.
  475. >After taking a few small sips, you returned the wine to the table before making a shoddy effort of concealing a few coughs, to which Anon gave a spry grin in response.
  476. >The wine’s taste was much stronger than you were expecting, causing your eyes to water slightly and your throat to sting.
  477. >As your hacking fit subsided and your cheeks grew red from a mixture of embarrassment and the drink, you returned your gaze to Anonymous, who didn’t appear to be having nearly as difficult a time drinking as you were.
  478. >The light of the sun had fully vanished from the sky, leaving only the light of the full moon to illuminate the grove.
  479. >Anonymous’ hair almost appeared silver in this light; his skin pale like the moon itself.
  480. >You found yourself once again enraptured by his appearance; the way the clothes on his body outlined his muscles, the way his dark hair contrasted his fair skin….
  481. >He looked like a god, like some supernatural entity come to whisk her away, to love her to the end of her days… and even beyond that.
  482. >Slowly, you pushed your chair out and trotted around the table, Anon’s eyes following you every step of the way.
  483. >Finally reaching your destination, you hopped on his lap, wrapping your hooves around his neck while staring deep into Anon’s eyes.
  484. >A little voice in the back of your mind dared you to go further.
  485. >To just lean in a little further and kiss him.
  486. >To make him yours.
  487. >But you were not ready for that yet.
  488. >It would come in due time.
  489. >Right now, you merely wanted to sit here and enjoy the cool night.
  490. >With him.
  491. >With Anonymous.
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