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Best Laid Plans · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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The Gentle People
Yes, I know of the Farisi, the gentle people. I have heard that their females were graceful in flight, their males crested with golden feathers. I have been told before that we must learn from the Farisi.

The Blackbeaks say the Farisi made the best music, and that there was a time when every Blackbeak fledgling had a Farisi flute. Yet if you ask them to sing a Farisi song, they will smile, and say they have all been forgotten.

These tales you tell are lies. I have seen that nameless peak, midway between Brokebeak and the Claws. A traveler flying between them on an overcast day marks his midpoint when its sulfurous stink reaches him through the clouds.

Its western edge is steep and rocky. This is what a traveler would see, flying the updrafts. This is where the lookouts would have stood watching for Blackbeaks or Silvertails, and would have cried out Dull Claws' name even before he landed when he returned from across the western sea.

Its eastern edge is wooded, and gently sloped. If the traveler drifted across it, he would see a thin gray line below the ridge. A yellow haze clings to the mountain's eastern side even on clear days.

The line is granite, large six-sided flagstones set edge-to-edge to make a road. The haze is smoke, foul like morbid eggs, rising lazily from narrow cracks that stretch a hundred spans and more through the stones, and through the earth around them. They are at most a claw's breadth across. I could not see to their bottoms.

The riven stones are dry and hot. An egg broken and spilled out upon one would soon turn hard and white.

The road's northern end curves uphill and ends in a great limestone field covered with moss. Here the tribe gathered and sat while Dull Claws told them of the ponies across the sea, who lived in peace and harmony, neither killing nor being killed. He told them that in return, the earth gave them fruit and berries too plentiful to gather, and the stones of the earth shaped themselves into great cities for their comfort. Here he told them of their leader, the great white Sun Mare.

In the center of the plaza stands a headless granite statue, twice the height of a gryphon. On its flanks you can still see the once-deep chisel cuts outlining an eight-pointed sun. The statue looks like a bear with wings. Its carver never saw a pony.

Little else remains. The Farisi built with wood.

In the underbrush downslope of the road, strange foreign vines crawl on the ground and cling to strange gnarled trees. They are born from the seeds Dull Claws brought back from across the sea. In the fall the vines bear the sweet purple berries and the trees bear the hard, round, red fruit he told his tribe would feed them when they gave up the eating of meat. The Blackbeaks say there were other fruit besides, and ground grains, and cooked roots, at the feast the Farisi threw for the Blackbeak warriors to teach them of the white mare of peace. But the Farisi were thin from eating them.

North of where the village was, there is a hole in the ground that spews forth thick green smoke night and day. This was where the Farisi dug for the black rock we now call coal, which Dull Claws said had great power. This was the hole the Blackbeak warriors threw Dull Claws into after they broke his wings. They filled it with wood and set it on fire, the same fire that burns in the mountain's belly today.

But no one knows if the Farisi had beautiful voices or golden crests. The chief of the Blackbeaks feared that their weakness of the Farisi would infect his people. So he ordered their art and writings burned, their males gelded and used as beasts of burden, and their females sold, or kept to serve his soldiers and household, where their eggs fed his own growing brood. All that is left of them today is a small pile of bone flutes in a glass case in the Blackbeaks' trophy room.

So if someone bends your ear with stories saying the Farisi had golden crests, and voices like honey or like flutes, he is a fool and does not know the way of the world. He would do well to learn from the Farisi.
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