The Mystery of Rorim Lake: Star Atlas Returns

Published Apr 21, 2023, 4:24:28 PM UTC | Last updated Apr 26, 2023, 12:16:08 AM | Total Chapters 3

Story Summary

Star Atlas has finally returned after being gone for nearly a year. He invites Brave Storm to travel with him on his next adventure.

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Chapter 1: Star Atlas Returns

Brave Storm knew Star Atlas would be coming home soon. When he was close to returning home, there was a gap in his letters. He would outrun the postage, so why spend the horseshoes? Her parents didn’t believe her at first, suggesting he just didn’t have the time to write or that the postage was a little slow. But if the postage could manage with delays after everything that’s been happening these past several months, it wouldn’t be on them. 

Maybe they had a point this time though, Brave Storm mused. This has been the first time that Canterlot or Ponyville had been destroyed in the slightest. And with the ponies who were responsible for the storm in Canterlot being tasked to help rebuild, there weren’t many extra hooves helping with Ponyville. Sure, the damages were far worse in Canterlot and many more creatures called that area their home, but more help here would have been nice.

There had been awkward silence between her and a pegasus looter. She was sentenced to probation and she wanted to be let out and fix what she helped cause. Brave Storm was assigned by True Heart, with permission from Sword Dancer, to be this pegasus’ probation officer. Together they were working on repairing a roof that the pegasus looked particularly guilty about. They only talked for the sake of the project.

“What’s it like in Cloudsdale?” Brave Storm asked. “My brother might be excited, or maybe disappointed, to see that it’s been rediscovered.”

“Huh? Oh, hm…” the pegasus thought, her voice soft and meek. Brave Storm couldn’t help but notice the hair around her neck was notably thinner. She decided it was best not to bring it up.

“I guess that’s touchy. I shouldn’t have asked.” Brave Storm said, saving the pegasus from feeling obligated to answer her. The silence continued for a while. But the roof was finished with its patchwork repair and the two stayed on the roof for a moment, catching their breath and stretching their backs.

“I hope once we’re all done serving our time, and Lightning Bug can come back with us, we’ll be happy.” the pegasus answered, turning her gaze to the horizon with sad but hopeful eyes. “We’ll rebuild Cloudsdale to its former beautiful self. I hope Equestria can come to forgive us in time.”

“It was Metasoma’s fault this happened at all.” Brave Storm shook her head firmly. “We might be sour for a while, but it's not your fault.”

“We trusted his word.” the pegasus retorted, returning her sad gaze back to Brave Storm. “We had nothing but his word to go on and we did nothing to question him.”

Again, silence.

“Thanks for letting me stretch my wings, ma’am. I’m ready to head back to Canterlot.”

 

Brave Storm returned to Ponyville with a heavy heart. The defeated look on the pegasus’ face felt burned into her mind. The way that she spent possibly her whole life in slavery only to be caged again with only a taste of freedom. Maybe it’s easier on her though, knowing that it’ll be over in due time. That the rest of her life won’t be like this. 

Brave Storm found herself so lost in her own thoughts and so downtrodden, that she didn’t even think anything of the lights being on inside her home. She pushed the front door open and saw belongings scattered about that weren’t hers. For a moment, she almost worried that she had entered the wrong home. But the dusty purple-pelted pegasus sitting on her couch looked over his shoulder and grinned at her.

“Brave Storm!” he cheered. “There you are! Oh, why do you look so sad? Ope, there’s the happy face.”

“Star Atlas!” Brave Storm cried, rushing over to hug her brother. “Ha! I knew you’d be coming home soon! I told Mom and Dad. They never believe me, but I’m always right! Have you seen them yet?”

“Of course, I did. I thought you’d be there with them.” He answered, pushing her shoulder gently to get her to let go, or at least not hold him so hard. “Yeesh, when did you get this buff? And why does it look like you’ve been getting into fights?”

“Well, I have.” Brave Storm sat beside him, her excitement pushing away every other feeling and thought. “Wow, so much has happened since you’ve been gone.”

“I could tell. Raiders! I never thought Ponyville would be so eventful.” Star Atlas chimed. He started digging through one of his many satchels. “Would you like to try some new tea while we talk? Do you have a kettle? Nah, I’ll just use my own. Go on.”

“Well, Cloudsdale is back.”

“I’ve heard about that!” He flared his wings. “I wanted to be the one to find it, or at least be on the team that did, but eh- it coming to us with malevolent intent is just as interesting.”

“Oh yeah, and then there’s Sumit’s Hallow. A whole bunch of bat ponies were trapped by this giant spider influenced by wild magic.”

“It wasn’t a star spider, was it?”

“What? Did you see Moon Widow while you were out?”

“Possibly. Or it could have just been another giant star spider,” he answers with a shrug. “Without you being there to confirm it, it’s going to be a little ambiguous.”

“Oh, and there’s changelings!”

“Well, yeah.” Star Atlas didn’t seem as impressed by this one. “Oh, I suppose that would be news for Equestrian society. I saw a few in my travels.”

“Ah dang. That was the big stuff.”

“The big stuff for Equestria, sure. But what about for you?” Star Atlas prompted, shuffling through his bags even more. As a filly, she’d always watch her brother tinker with maps and compasses and everything else once he discovered his passion. It was sweet to see a lot of his old habits remained.

“I’m a Knight of Equestria.”

“Not a Canterlot guard?” Star Atlas stopped shuffling and looked at Brave Storm above his glasses, which slipped down his nose a little. “Not to say I’m unimpressed and unhappy for you, you were just so in love with the idea of Princesses.”

“It’s a surprise to me, too. I really impressed Sword Dancer when I was trying out for the guard.” Brave Storm sighed. It was a big decision for her and one she wondered if it was the right choice. She’d been with them for months, but she was still only a page. She keeps prioritizing other things and had only advanced once in her time with them.

“You look upset.”

“I don’t know if I should be a Knight.” Brave Storm admits.

“Does it make you happy?”

“I suppose it does.”

“Then I suppose you should be a Knight.” Star Atlas rested a hoof on her shoulder. “I understand having doubts about what you’re doing. But just keep asking yourself if what you’re doing makes you happy or will lead to your happiness. And if the answer is yes, you know you’re doing the right thing.”

“Thanks, Star.”

“Oh, and I have a gift for you.”

“Ooo, what is it?” Brave Storm asked, craning her neck to see into Star Atlas’ bag. It was an absolute disaster in there.

“Hey, give me a moment.” Star Atlas fussed, pushing her face away. He grabbed a small jar, not too much bigger than Brave Storm’s hoof, and began to pass it over to her. “Be gentle and don’t open it. Just look inside.”

Brave Storm gently took the jar out of his hooves. It was made of sturdy, but flexible plastic instead of being made of glass. Peering inside, she saw a swirling mass of blizzard clouds. At first, she thought that was the entirety of the surprise until she saw the clouds flash as a lightning bolt erupted between them. 

“Lightning during a snowstorm!?” Brave Storm was in awe. Sure, she was terrified of active storms, but it’s fascinating when it won’t hurt you.

“Told you it could happen.” Star Atlas laughed. “But you didn’t believe me.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Brave Storm rolled her eyes as she tried to find an interesting and secure place to put the storm piece. “Thanks. It’s really cool.”

“I knew you’d like it. So, circling back to the wild magic conversation- did you know that it can also affect plants?”

“Harvest Moon’s been all over that discovery.”

“How’d you find out?”

“While we were cleaning up after the raid, we noticed some strange branches. Since some ponies have this ability to sense wild magic, myself included-” Star Atlas made a face, but didn’t interrupt “-we noticed these branches were affected by it.”

“Right, then you know about the paper slips and Rorrim Lake?”

“I was one of the ponies who found one of the first branches, so yes.”

“A lot of creatures are talking about investigating and I think I’ll be heading out myself.” Star Atlas announced. “Leaving in a week, I think. Should give me plenty of time to sort out my things from last time and restock.”

“A week? But you just got here.” Brave Storm whined. “And you were gone for almost a year!”

“Eight months-”

“I missed you! You’re never gone for that long!” Brave Storm’s emotions got the better of her and she had difficulty controlling her volume.

“Hey, hey, come here.” Star Atlas pulled his sobbing sister into a hug. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I thought the letters would help.”

“They did.” Brave Storm admitted. “I’m sorry, too. I know adventuring is your passion. I won’t stop you from going. I just… wanted to spend more time with you before you left again.”

“Well, uh, actually I have a solution that might make us both happy.” Star Atlas pitched. “I was thinking about inviting you along this time. Have an adventure with you.”

“R-really?” Brave Storm asked, hardly believing it. Brave Storm was too young to join him in his adventures and as they got older, Star Atlas’ adventuring got more and more dangerous. He would go further and further and his safety became less guaranteed. 

“I wouldn’t get your hopes up like that.” Star Atlas shook his head. “That’d be cruel.”

“Then yeah! I’ve wanted to go exploring with you for so long.” Brave Storm felt filly-like giddiness creeping into her. “I’ll clear out my schedule. Do you think a month’s enough?”

“Should be.” Star Atlas shrugs. “Ope, tea’s ready.”

Brave Storm gives her brother another hug. It was close to bone-crushing, but at least it also only lasted a second.

 

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