The sea birds flew overhead, their calls mournful. The waves washed onto the shore with a sigh. When a few moments had passed, Lyric quietly said, “I’d love to.” She had a sense that, whatever story it was that Finner was about to relay, it was one he needed to tell.
Finner motioned towards the lute that Lyric carried. “Why don’t yeh take that out?”
Lyric hurried to comply. Slinging it off of her back, she removed the oilcloth and held her lute at the ready. Although night was falling, she knew the instrument like the back of her hoof. Even in the scarce light, she would be able to play.
Finner lifted his eyes to the moon. It was a while before he spoke again. When he did, his voice was low, sonorous. “Any sailor worth their salt knows that the waters an’ the moon have a special connection. As the moon rises an’ falls in its nightly journey 'cross the sky, the waters follow it. This is why we have tides. But it weren’t always so.”
Lyric strummed the strings of her lute, a mysterious tone rising into the air. Finner closed his eyes. “A long, long time ago, there lived two alicorn siblings. Ravi, the brother, was the caretaker of the sun, raisin’ it in the mornin’ and lowerin’ it in the evenin’, while Chandra, the sister, was the caretaker of the moon, raisin’ it in the evenin’ and lowerin’ it in the mornin’. 'Cause of their abilities, they were beloved by ponies all over.”
Now an elegant melody floated into the night, one befitting the majestic alicorns. Finner’s eyes seemed to focus on something far away. “Elsewhere, in a little village by the sea, there was a unicorn named Ocean Blue. Now, Blue’d seen Chandra in passin’ a few times before, an’ he was captivated by her. But he didn’t have the courage teh talk teh her, thinkin’ that he was a lowly creature compared teh her.”
The song Lyric played changed from one of elegance to one of quiet despair. Finner swayed to the music. Whether he did it knowingly or unknowingly, Lyric could not tell. “Blue’s specialty was water magic. He could find water, or even purify it if it was unclean. So one night, just as the moon was risin’, Blue was struck with an idea.
“He travelled down teh the beach an’, with a spell of his own makin’, enchanted the water along the shore teh follow the moon. Course, Blue weren’t powerful enough teh make this last long, so he went teh the beach night after night, enchantin’ the water there so that it’d trail along in the moon’s wake. An’ night after night, Chandra took notice.”
Finner opened his eyes and pointed towards the shore, as if the phantom of Blue would appear, brought back to life after so many eons had passed. “On one particular night, as Blue was about teh leave the beach, he found Chandra standin’ by, watchin’ him.”
The notes that Lyric played next were light but wondrous, perfect for a first meeting.
“Well, Blue was in quite a shock. Even moreso when Chandra spoke teh him.” Then, his voice taking on an uncharacteristic refinement, Finner said, “‘So, I have found you at last.’” His voice returned to normal as he continued with, “Blue was dumbstruck. That was when Chandra spoke teh him again. ‘Who are you that causes the waters to follow the moon? And why have you made it so?’”
A slow, lilting tune rose from the lute, one that Lyric felt matched what Blue must have been feeling so long ago.
“In response to her questions, Blue bowed his head low an’ said, ‘My name is Ocean Blue, dear lady, and I hope you can forgive me, for I meant no harm.’
“Chandra was puzzled, but also intrigued. ‘And you have caused none,’ she told him, ‘so there is nothing to forgive. But what is the purpose of this magic?’”
“Blue hesitated,” and Finner did the same, “but he raised his head teh meet her gaze. ‘I did it because I wanted to speak with you, but I did not know how.’”
Finner gave the smallest of chuckles. “Now, Chandra was fully perplexed by this. She didn’t see herself the way Blue an’ everypony else seemed teh see her, as somepony teh be revered. So she told Blue, ‘A simple hello would have sufficed.’
“Well, Blue felt pretty foolish after that. He was about teh excuse himself when Chandra asked him, ‘Could you show me more of this magic?’ It took Blue a second, but once he understood what she wanted, he was happy teh oblige.” As he said this, Finner’s hoof swept across the sky, towards the moon. “From then on, Chandra and Blue started spendin’ more time tehgether. They formed a friendship, an’, over time, that friendship turned inteh love.
A sweet melody sounded from Lyric’s lute, but it became more dour as Finner said, “Now, Ravi’d seen all this, an’ he didn’t quite approve. But whenever he tried teh tell his sister as much, she rebuffed him. Who she loved weren’t any of his concern, she’d say. Seein’ that he wouldn’t be able teh change his sister’s mind, he eventually let the matter drop. So when Chandra came teh him with news of hers an’ Blue’s engagement, he just put a wing around her an’ said, ‘Enjoy this while you can.’
“Chandra, payin’ this no mind, was elated, an’ she raced off teh be with Blue.” A light, joyful air rose into the night. “Shortly after that, she an’ Blue were married. The two were very happy, an’ after a while, they were blessed with two daughters, both of ‘em alicorns, teh their pleasant surprise.” Here, Finner interrupted his tale, turning to Lyric for the first time since he had begun. “Any guesses as teh who they were?”
Lyric pondered this, her muzzle furrowing once more, but she soon had the answer. A hint of marvel spread across her countenance. “Princess Celestia and Princess Luna.”
“That’s right.” Finner stared out to sea again. “The four of 'em had many happy years tehgether, spendin’ time as a family. But, sadly, it didn’t last.” Finner glanced to Lady’s stone. “Alicorns, as far as we can tell, are immortal. But Blue, bein’ a unicorn, was not. His family watched him age as the years went by. An’ then, as all us mortal folk do, he passed away.”
Lyric’s heart ached for Blue, and for those he had left behind. She played a somber tune.
“Chandra an’ their daughters buried Blue by the seaside, where the two’d first met. Their sad task done, they stood tehgether as Chandra began teh sing.”
At this, Finner’s voice fell silent. Lyric stilled her lute’s strings. Once she had, Finner hummed. His humming started low, resounding into the night. He tapped his hooves on the ground to keep time. When he sang, his voice was clear, strong.
Sleep now, dear one
Here beside the sea
Sleep now and forever
Your spirit is set free
Free to dance upon the gale
And to skip on each wave
You will never end your tale
Alone in your grave
For the waters are your spirit
The birds’ cries are your song
And the moon will always guide you
In your journey on
So sleep now, dear one
Here beside the sea
Sleep now and forever
Your spirit is set free
The song faded, carried away by the salty ocean wind. Lyric sat, unmoving, the last notes still resonating within her. There was a new rasp to Finner’s voice when he spoke again. “In a final tribute teh Blue, the three alicorns combined their magic. With a spell much like the one that Blue’d used, Chandra an’ her daughters enchanted the world’s waters so that they’d always follow after the moon.” Now Finner gave a snort as he told Lyric, “It’s also said that their tears’re what turned the oceans salty, but between you an’ me, I think that’s poetic nonsense.”
Finner quieted once more. He lifted his head. “It weren’t long after that when chaos broke out in Equestria. Course, everypony who was willin’ an’ able, includin’ most of the alicorns, went teh lend their aid. Chandra was torn, though. She wanted teh help, an’ she couldn’t bear teh let others suffer, but she had two daughters teh take care of. Knowin’ this, her daughters made the difficult decision teh give their mother their blessings. After a tearful goodbye, Chandra left teh join the cause.”
Finner shook his head, his voice heavy. “None of us regular pony folk really know what happened teh Chandra after that. Some say she fell in battle 'gainst the beasts that rampaged 'cross Equestria before her daughters took up their crowns. Others say she’s still out there, somewhere, watchin’ over us. But I like teh think that, wherever she is, she an’ Blue are tehgether again, somehow.”
The moon shone down on the two companions. Now it was Lyric who gazed upon it, and she was filled with a new sense of awe. Yet she hadn’t looked upon it long when Finner began to cough. Alarmed, Lyric reached for him, but he waved her away.
It was not much later that his coughing subsided. Catching his breath, he spoke. “Promise me somethin’, Lyric.” He turned, staring into her eyes, his voice full of conviction. “Promise me that, no matter what happens teh yeh, yeh’ll keep yehr head held high.” He turned away, his words softening. “‘Cause if yeh can do that, I know yeh’ll be able teh get through anythin’ life throws at yeh.”
In that moment, Lyric could see just how careworn Finner really was, how deep the wrinkles around his eyes were, how fragile he appeared. He seemed so different than the old but spry stallion she had first met in the tavern. Here, under the moonlight, he merely seemed old. Was this the real Finner? Or was it the one she had seen in town, in the tavern?
Lyric wrapped her forelegs around Finner, holding him as tight as she dared. He mindlessly patted her hoof. A few tears escaped from her eyes as she whispered, “I promise, Finner. I promise.”
Nodding once, Finner watched as the moon’s reflection danced and sparkled in the waves. The two stayed as they were, saying nothing, well into the night.