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Nov 21, 2018 2:56 AM
and meets Peter Pevensie
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"Well, then we need to find unicorn volunteers. Send out announcements. Give speeches, and have other people give speeches. My brother and sisters can help you, this sort of thing is half of what they did in Narnia."

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She grimaces. "The situation may be... politically delicate. We are a prey species, and I'm sure there's already a great deal of panic going on." She falls silent, then, thinking. "Perhaps... if I could lend the power for the casting, we might only need, say, two unicorns.... The trouble is Starswirl was really the expert on concerted magic, and he's dead, more or less... but I'm fairly sure they used simple telekinesis, because of course each day it was a new set aside from him, they didn't bother coordinating talents. Someone with a sun cutie mark might have an easier time of it." Nightmare sighs and, seeing the school ahead, locks her wings to glide the remaining distance. "There's too much I don't know, and not enough time. I told her we should have a backup, and she didn't listen, and now look. Ugh."

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"We have worked with panicked herbivores before. Lending your own power- would that still only buy one day before we needed a larger group? Still, people can be much more willing to make sacrifices for rulers who are willing to make sacrifices themselves."

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"Well, I'll go fetch Susan and Lucy."

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Nightmare acknowledges Kirke's departure with a nod of her head, but doesn't otherwise turn her attention from Edmund. "The truth is I simply don't know the answer to almost any of that. Could I provide the force for such a magical working without draining myself of magic? Normally a unicorn will pass out before her deeper reserves are touched, for exactly that reason. It was the casting that kept them conscious to feed their power into the focus, who doubly burned out from exhaustion and the sheer amount of magic channeled through them.

"It's been over two hundred years since anyone did anything remotely like this, and I fear that the relevant question isn't of willingness, or numbers, but of outright knowledge. Starswirl never wrote it down, and told no one but his apprentice, Clover, and she died perhaps twenty-five years after Unification. There are scant records of whatever unicorns, or indeed, the rest of the world, did before this system was implemented; certainly depriving five or so unicorns of their magic every twelve hours isn't sustainable, not when half would be lost to suicide or malady. We simply don't breed or mature fast enough. Even with our current population, it would be feasible for perhaps... two years, at the most."

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"Two years might at least give us more time to find another solution, or to evacuate."

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"Perhaps." He's right, she knows. It worked before, and she's intelligent enough to fill in the gaps Starswirl had left. Why is she so opposed to the idea, enough to keep inventing reasons to avoid it? She thinks back to the unicorns she'd known who'd given up their magic to move the sun and moon. Their haunted, dull eyes, their faded cutie marks, the soft, deliberate way they moved afterwards, like just breathing was a tremendous effort and anything more took all their strength. They'd volunteered, yes, but Nightmare Moon wouldn't wish that fate on anyone. There had been murmurs of a lottery system, though thankfully they'd never had to stoop to such measures. She suppresses a shudder.

Out loud, she says, "I am loathe to treat a third of the population as disposable, even in a crisis such as this. Stars know the nobles could use being taken down a few notches, but not... like that. We have time to think of a better idea."

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"Hmm. If you aren't able to keep the sun moving, what will be the consequences? We might be able to find alternative ways to mitigate them."

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"One half of the planet will burn, and the other half will freeze. Your brother thought we might make use of the 'twilight area' as habitable, but if we're already rounding everyone up we may as well evacuate rather than try to make something workable out of half a percent of the world's landmass."

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"What sort of transportation infrastructure do you have? How did you get here, can we get other people out of your world the same way? We-"

...

Edmund's speech slows down

"Jadis had a way of making Narnia winter for a hundred years.

I wonder whether that might be able to help the warmer half of your planet, whatever it was? We'd need some way to get access to it, but last we heard there were still witches preserving parts of her magic. And you haven't been barred from Narnia."

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"And you have? Brother dearest conveniently failed to mention that. A permanent partial eclipse could potentially keep the warmer half in a twilight state. The real problem is we have no way to warm up the cold half. This isn't the kind of crisis the Elements were created to solve.

"As to your first questions, yes, I've been informed Milliways will remain accessible to my world as long as I am there. There is the odd unicorn who can teleport with a passenger, and I believe there's been some rumors of a line of metal cars on tracks, like mine carts but for ponies. As far as I can tell nobody can figure out how to power the thing aside from 'get out and pull,' which defeats the entire purpose. For long journeys, the most common modes of transportation are sky and ground chariots or simply your own four feet. I suspect if we do fetch everyone it will be me doing the fetching. I can teleport much farther, much more frequently, and carrying much more than even the best unicorns."

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"And if there was ever a summer counterpart to Jadis's magic I expect it was lost with Charn. What is Milliways?"

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"A nexus. You'll get a better explanation when we return, if you want one. Charn?"

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"Jadis's original world, from which she came to Narnia. It has since ceased to exist. We have technology which should be able to speed up the evacuation significantly, but I will want more evidence than your word of the stakes involved before I agree to share all of it. How fast can you take people through Milliways currently? How many worlds are accessible from it, and how often does that change?"

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Nightmare Moon's eyes glitter at Edmund's caveat, but she doesn't bring it up. "As fast as they can go through the door, I don't know, and I don’t know. From what I can tell, it’s entirely random who gets a door in, and that determines the doors out. Currently it's only your brother and I."

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Edmund pauses to think.

Eventually: "If we do help you evacuate your world to this one, what would you do once you were here? And besides you, what other powers from your world would we need to worry about?"

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"You're smarter than you let on, aren’t you?" Nightmare also takes a moment, though in truth she already has an answer, and is deciding how to make it most palatable.

"I assume you mean the nation of Equestria, not me personally. I suppose we would settle somewhere uninhabited and rebuild. It would take a few years, at least, but nothing worse than the Windigos. Presumably we would then begin to trade and so on."

She pauses again, this time to get her thoughts in order. "Of the sapients... the griffons have no head of state. They barely have a state. I can make fealty to me a requirement of evacuation and that should neatly exclude the idiots who do nothing but bicker.

"Queen Imago leads the largest changeling hive, so she's the de facto ruler. She has the usual changeling magic, but she's a smart bug. I thought of getting her to impersonate Celestia, but of course she can no more move the sun than I can.

"I have no idea who the current Dragon Lord is, they toss around that scepter like it's a hoofball. The minotaurs use some kind of council system where practically anyone can lead the country if they get enough people to like them, so they never get anything done. I'm not sure if the goats are people or pets. Fealty oath will work for both of those too.

"The zebra Caesar is... Xerinus, I think, or he was the last time I checked. Zebras are proud but not stupid, and Zebrica is a dangerous place; I'd be willing to bet they've already decided who to sacrifice in an emergency. The Crystal Empire is locked under ice, and good riddance for it.

"The hippogriffs are led by Queen Astor, and honestly they're a small enough country that we can probably take all of them. Only about five hundred on that entire mountain, I don't know how they're not all inbred. There are rumors that she gets her power from a huge pearl, but they're remarkably tight-beaked about the whole thing.

"The -- oh, damn, the breezies." She grimaces. "I suppose there's nothing to be done. Their portal won't open for another three moons. They’d likely be too delicate to survive the transition anyway. There are a few other groups of semi-sapients and wildlife that I don’t think you have here, but they're obviously not the priority. Does that answer your question?"

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Edmund has produced a notebook and begun taking notes.

"That- might be satisfactory. I should consult my brother and sisters before making any final commitments. If we demand the various rulers give their word not to make war against us or aid our enemies, can we expect them to honour those oaths?"

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She's mildly surprised for a second. "Of course. If honesty doesn't convince you, numbers might: no nation would be stupid enough to break a promise to someone who could so easily crush them." Nightmare Moon glances around. "Where are they? You didn't take half as long to fetch. Do you think we should go after them?"

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"The Professor will have been finding my sisters' classrooms and getting their teachers to let them out, I expect."

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She blinks at him. "Is he not telling them the matter is of utmost importance? If the teachers are recalcitrant, ignore them. What class could be more important than the salvation of a world?"

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Sigh.

"He probably hasn't thought to tell them that. How long do we have before people start dying?"

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"Milliways stops time in its inhabitants' worlds of origin, by some mechanism unknown to me. Time is flowing normally here because your brother is holding the door open pending our return. Aside from that, I suspect there are already casualties, of the weak or infirm. My night has lasted for over three days now. Er. You know what I mean. Regardless, we have plenty of time to think of a plan, but very little in which to enact it." She dispels the invisibility on the both of them and starts moving in the direction Kirke had gone. "All the same, I would rather not dally."

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"Useful. In that case we had better not trade respectability for haste. Taking children out of school without process or a believable explanation would jeopardize our legal and social position."

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Nightmare Moon rolls her eyes. "What's more respectable than a princess? Do you disbelieve me?" She comes to a T junction formed by two buildings and stops, unsure which way to go.

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