The Princess Filly, Chapter V [END]

Aug 31st, 2019
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  1. >when you pop back into reality, you wind up only a few feet above the cavern floor, instead of a few miles
  2. >in a sense you're grateful for this
  3. >but in a another sense, you do hit the ground hard
  4. "Ow."
  5. >the shai-hulud you landed about ten feet from seems to have hit the ground a lot harder though
  6. >the great worm rises at the sight of you
  7. >and stares at you with its eyeless face
  8. "H-hi."
  9. >and then
  10. >it dives into the ground
  11. >though it burrows rapidly, the massive creature takes about ten minutes to fully disappear within the earth
  12. >the sight is so enrapturing
  13. >that you forget you've lost Starswirl's glowing stone
  14. >and that the shai-hulud's bioluminescence is your only source of light
  15. >and now
  16. >all is dark
  17. "Well, shit. How do I find my way back up now?"
  18. >"Anon!"
  19. >"Darling, where are you?"
  20. >up on the ledge you fell from, you can make out a search party of about eight ponies and one dragon
  21. >you take in a deep breath and scream as loud as you can
  22. "I'M DOWN HERE!"
  23. >holy dicks
  24. >your voice came out louder than you ever imagined was possible
  25. >puffs of rubble are shaken loose from the cavern at the sound of that shout
  26. <"I say, that wouldn't be a Royal Canterlot Voice I heard, would it?"
  27. >you're not really sure what Starswirl is on about
  28. >but shortly, Rainbow Dash swoops down to bring you up
  29. >she gives you a big grin on the way up
  30. >"Hey, what am I carrying you for?"
  31. "Because I can't fly?"
  32. >Dash "heh"s
  33. >"You might wanna look in a mirror when you get back up to the castle."
  34. >when you're deposited safely up on the ledge, Starswirl unironically "huzzah"s
  35. <"I knew it! I knew your destiny was at hoof!"
  36. "What are you on about?"
  37. >Rainbow Dash flicks at your horn
  38. "Ow!"
  39. >wait a second
  40. >you have a horn?!
  41. >oh, yeah
  42. "Oh, about that. See, as I was plunging all alone to certain death, I got whisked away to see Celestia. She did say something about making me an alicorn."
  43. >you crane your neck around to see your barrel
  44. >yep, wings
  45. >but they're proportioned all retarded
  46. >like they're just way too big for your body
  47. >man, this actually looks hideous
  48. <"You met Princess Celestia?"
  49. >you're sort of focused on trying to activate your new wing muscles
  50. >to see if your new wings look any less terrible when spread out
  51. "Yeah, yeah, it was just like you said. I used a fuckton of earth magic, almost died in the process, then the Aether or whatever took me to Celestia."
  52. >Starlight coughs
  53. >"She, um, wouldn't have happened to tell you where she and the other princesses are right now, would she?"
  54. >you give up on figuring out the wings
  55. "Yeah, of course. Obviously. They're all locked up in some secret chamber under that old castle in the Everfree."
  56. >Rainbow Dash objects to this
  57. >"The Castle of the Two Sisters was one of the first places we looked! I was there myself!"
  58. "Well I assume the thing about secret chambers is, they're hard to find."
  59. >involuntarily, your wings flop down to the floor
  60. "Anyway, I'd like to head out there as soon as possible to find them."
  61. <"What, go yourself?"
  62. "Yeah. I'm suddenly really well-qualified for this sort of thing, aren't I?"
  63. <"You have no idea how to cast even a single spell."
  64. "Psshhh, but I bet I've got earth magic for days."
  65. >as you think of 'earth magic,' a huge stalagmite rises from the cave floor just behind you
  66. "Holy shit, did I do that?"
  67. ^"Now, Starswirl, old friend. It is customary for young princesses to go on quests."
  68. >Rockhoof shoots you a wink on the sly
  69. >Applejack raises her hoof
  70. >"I'd go with her. I'm sure all of us are real eager to rescue Twilight."
  71. >the rest of Twilight's friends, to include Starlight and Spike, voice their agreement
  72. "Oh, now you guys wanna help!"
  73. >Starswirl sighs
  74. <"Very well, you may go. Let us return to the castle and prepare for your departure at once."
  75. >Pinkie Pie deflates somewhat at that
  76. >"Awwww."
  77. "What's up?"
  78. >"We're not gonna finish your birthday party?"
  79. >you blink
  80. "Hey Starswirl, Celestia said the chamber she was in was a lair for 'shadow ponies.' How much immediate danger are the princesses in?"
  81. <"Shadow ponies? Why, almost none at all."
  82. "Let's go finish that cake Pinkie brought, at least."
  84. <"Shadow ponies are the psychic remains of ponies who lived long ago."
  85. <"Long after the body has turned to dust, and the soul has taken its final journey through the air, and memory has faded, the mind may live on, if the pony in question died in great unbalance."
  86. "So they're ghosts?"
  87. <"No. Ghosts are disembodied souls, and they usually possess memory as well. Shadow ponies have neither soul nor memory. They are nothing but mind."
  88. <"Lacking memory, shadow ponies seek out the presence of the living, to bathe in their memories."
  89. "That sounds… gross."
  90. <"It is common for shadow ponies to abduct the living, keeping them alive in their lairs so that the shadow ponies may enjoy their memories for decades to come."
  91. <"The princesses would be a natural target for the shadow ponies. Because they are immortal, the shadow ponies who held them would never have to abduct another living pony again. And the elder princesses have many aeons of memories to share."
  92. <"Shadow ponies do not think in the same way that you and I do. But they are cunning, and will not want to be found by you. And should you enter their lair, they will try to keep you from leaving."
  93. "What exactly will they do?"
  94. <"The lore is unclear on this matter. You will have to plan your escape when you find out."
  95. "Well that's not very hopeful, considering that they've been successfully holding four full-grown alicorns for months on end."
  96. >you stumble over a large root
  97. >that last discussion with Starswirl happened maybe two hours ago
  98. >he stayed in Canterlot, to manage things in your absence
  99. >but he didn't let you leave til he had taught you one spell
  100. >it's a very simple one
  101. >you just channel some magic into your horn
  102. >and then a big laser beam comes out
  103. >there's a giant hole in the roof of Canterlot Castle from where you first cast it
  104. >apparently you've gotta be careful with this shit
  105. >you shake your head and keep trudging on behind Twilight's friends
  106. >after a full day of princess work
  107. >followed by defeating a giant worm
  108. >and a birthday party
  109. >the day is growing late
  110. >all around Equestria, pegasi are arranging thick, black stormclouds for another pseudo-night
  111. >but over the Everfree Forest
  112. >the weather is known to manage itself
  113. >over the trees, the Sun shines bright as noonday
  114. >but beneath the trees
  115. >the forest grows thicker as penetrate deeper and deeper toward its heart
  116. >and it does appear to be growing darker
  117. >your horn smacks into a low-hanging branch
  118. "Ow! Bitch!"
  119. >these horn things are apparently really sensitive
  120. >not in an "oh yeah" kind of way
  121. >more in an "oh fuck, the pain" kind of way
  122. >the jolt sends you sprawling on the ground
  123. >Starlight stops behind you
  124. >"You gotta watch out for that."
  125. "No shit. I'm not used to having a six-inch bone sticking out of my head."
  126. >you get up
  127. >and trudge on
  128. >the party passes through what appears to be the nexus of the forest darkness
  129. >at the heart of the Everfree lies the clearing where the Castle of the Two Sisters stands
  130. >and as you get closer to it, the trees thin out
  131. >finally, you reach the rope bridge leading to the castle
  132. >Applejack woops
  133. >"There it is! I knew we'd make it before dark."
  134. "But it wasn't gonna get dark."
  135. >the group wastes no time in crossing the bridge and entering the courtyard of the ruined castle
  136. "What the everliving fuck is that thing?"
  137. >"What's what?"
  138. "That fucking ugly tree-thing!"
  139. >Starlight points right at it
  140. >"Oh, that? That's the castle that Twilight's students built out of the Tree of Harmony."
  141. "Another damn crystal tree-castle?"
  142. >"What's wrong with it?"
  143. "It looks awful! And it's taking away from the ruins!"
  144. >Rainbow Dash scratches her head
  145. >"You might be making a big deal out of nothing."
  146. "Yeah, whatever. Let's just split up and find the damn princesses."
  148. >the parties are as follows
  149. >Rarity and Fluttershy
  150. >Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash
  151. >Starlight and Spike
  152. >you and Applejack
  153. >should you fail to find the princesses, you are to regroup in the courtyard
  154. >currently, you and Applejack are traipsing through some kind of dungeon
  155. >"Look sharp now, Anon. This old castle is full of surprises."
  156. "Right."
  157. >"Disguised levers, trap doors, hidden hallways. You never know what you might stumble into by accident."
  158. "Well that's exactly the sort of thing we're looking for, isn't it?"
  159. >"True. But I'd rather know about it before I go fallin' into it."
  160. "That's fair."
  161. >a handful of magic torches, the few whose ancient enchantments still work, light and go out as you pass them by
  162. >beyond the short radius of their dim light lies an impenetrable wall of black
  163. >in the darkness, something clatters
  164. >the air down here isn't stagnant
  165. >but it doesn't seem to flow normally, as from a draft, either
  166. >the musty air rolls back and forth over your head
  167. >in waves
  168. >it's as though the dungeons are…
  169. >breathing
  170. >just what Everfree monsters might have taken refuge in this place in the millennia since it was abandoned?
  171. >what evils, left behind in the ancient forbidden archives of the castle, might have sunk down to the lowest levels of the ruins?
  172. >what villains were left to rot in these rusted cells all those centuries ago, whose spirits may even now be lurking just out of sight?
  173. >and what of the shadow ponies?
  174. >what unknown snares might they be laying down for you, the young immortal, that they might feast on your alien memories for all eternity?
  175. >"Anon?"
  176. "Huh?"
  177. >"You look like you're psychin' yourself out."
  178. "Is it that obvious?"
  179. >"You've been pressed up against my legs for the past ten minutes."
  180. "Well, when you put it like that…"
  181. >"It's a little hard to walk like this."
  182. "S-sorry."
  183. >you step away from Applejack and shuffle along on your own
  184. >"It's just a little dark down here, that's all. Why don't ya use that fancy horn of yours to light up the place?"
  185. "Uh, I don't think I can do that just yet. I could blast a hole in the ceiling and probably let some Sunlight down here though."
  186. >"No, no, that's uh… that's all right, sugarcube. Don't do that."
  187. >at the edge of the dim torchlight
  188. >something moves
  189. >you may or may not squeal and grab Applejack's legs again
  190. >"What is it now?!"
  191. "It's a… I saw a… It was…!"
  192. >from the shadows
  193. >a creature comes
  194. >small and swift
  195. >skittish and…
  196. >fuzzy?
  197. >"It's just a rat. Calm down."
  198. >the rat scurries past the two of you into the shadows that lie behind
  199. "Okay. That's fine then. Let me just…"
  200. >you let go of Applejack and stand on your own four hooves
  201. >just in time to see the shadows themselves advance
  202. >the shadow that enters the torchlight takes long, sure hoofsteps across the crumbled cobblestone
  203. >a pony-shaped field of darkness stands clearly within your sight
  204. >it is, you assume, a shadow pony
  205. >it stares at you with faceless sight
  206. >a strange feeling
  207. >as of intolerable…
  208. >nostalgia
  209. >overwhelms your soul
  210. >and then
  211. >the shadow pony turns around
  212. >and merges back into the darkness
  213. >Applejack gallops after it
  214. "What are you doing, following it?!"
  215. >"It could lead us right to the lair, come on!"
  216. >your companion speeds into the distance
  217. >taking the torchlight with her
  218. "Oh, man, wait for me!"
  219. >unfortunately, your stubby filly legs can't keep up with the galloping farmer
  220. >fortunately, you can still make out the receding torchlight in the distance
  221. >and oddly, you can clearly see that you're following hoofprints made of moss
  222. >a click echoes through the dungeons
  223. >"Hey, whoah!"
  224. >the torchlight returns to you
  225. >and you know that you're alone in the dungeons
  226. >with the rats
  227. >and the shadow ponies
  228. >you double your running efforts
  229. >and you come to the end of the vast chamber
  230. >the mossy hoofprints end here
  231. >and Applejack is nowhere to be seen
  232. >just a featureless brick wall
  233. "Shit!"
  234. >you strike the wall in frustration
  235. >and the brick you hit recedes with a loud grating sound
  236. "Shit!"
  237. >the wall rapidly rotates and sweeps you to its other side
  238. >there awaits a long tube of polished crystal, descending almost straight down into the bowels of the earth
  239. "Shit shit shit shit!"
  240. >you're sliding down at terminal velocity
  241. >but the slide suddenly bends upwards
  242. >and you're flying up out of the earth
  243. >finally, you emerge into the courtyard of the castle
  244. >where you flop gracelessly onto the ground
  245. >"Anon. Glad to see ya made it."
  246. >Applejack sits nearby, cradling a foreleg
  247. >you groan unintelligibly in response
  248. >"I'm thinkin' about givin' up for now and waitin' for the others to show up here. That all right?"
  249. "Sounds good to me."
  250. >it seems as though you ought to get up and go back into that castle
  251. >but you can't
  252. >you're too sluggish right now
  253. >and you feel as though you're nostalgic
  254. >for something you can't remember
  255. >your eyes close
  256. >and sleep comes quickly
  258. >you're not sure how long it's been when you wake up
  259. >with the Sun immobile in the sky, there's just no way to tell
  260. >judging by the droning of the crickets, it could be the middle of the night
  261. >but the insects could just be confused after so long without darkness
  262. "Applejack, how long was I out for?"
  263. >in the daylight, an owl hoots
  264. "Applejack?"
  265. >you rub the sleep out of your eyes and stand up
  266. >looking around, you see…
  267. >nothing
  268. >and nobody
  269. >you are alone
  270. "Fuck."
  271. >no, you do see something
  272. >on the ground
  273. >there's a trail of something that could be hoofprints
  274. >it's odd though
  275. >rather than being flattened down…
  276. >the grass where this pony trod seems taller
  277. >fuller
  278. >you decide to follow the tracks
  279. >they lead you to a set of cut, earthen stairs in the wall of the gorge
  280. >so you climb down
  281. >into the heart of the Everfree
  282. >at the bottom, the trail leads into an empty, shallow cave
  283. >they stop in an obscure corner
  284. >or rather, they disappear into a thick patch of vines and creepers
  285. >could it be?
  286. >you plant your hooves firmly into the ground
  287. >(hey. move.)
  288. >surprisingly, the wild Everfree vines are eager to obey your command
  289. >once they retract, you can see that they covered a downward-sloping tunnel
  290. >you can't see any trail of strange hoofprints down the tunnel
  291. >but you don't need them anymore
  292. >the trail is so tangible to you that you can almost smell it
  293. >earth magic
  294. >the tunnel twists and winds and forks for ages
  295. >eventually, the light from above no longer reaches you even a little bit
  296. >but you don't need it
  297. >you know where you're going
  298. >this place is pungeant with earth magics
  299. >the soft, earthen floor
  300. >the scent of damp moss
  301. >the low-hanging tree roots which threaten to snag in your mane
  302. >it makes you feel alert
  303. >it makes you feel alive
  304. >in the distance, you can see torchlight dancing on the walls
  305. >and you know that your trail ends just around the corner
  306. >coming around the bend, you see them
  307. >at last
  308. >the princesses!
  309. >all four of them
  310. >well, five if you count the babby, who's asleep in her mother's hooves
  311. >Twilight's friends are here as well
  312. >and Spike
  313. >and Starlight
  314. >none of them are restrained in any way
  315. >they're all just…
  316. >sleeping
  318. >you cough
  319. "Excuse me. Hey, yeah, you guys. Wake up, I'm here to rescue you."
  320. >the mass of sleeping ponies shifts and groans
  321. >Applejack wakes up first
  322. >"Anon? What's goin' on?"
  323. "Hey, you're the one who disappeared. You tell me."
  324. >"I… don't remember. Last I knew we were up in the courtyard."
  325. >Celestia's eyes flutter open next
  326. >she raises her sleepy eyes to you
  327. >"Anonymous… you came…"
  328. >heh
  329. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm here, Princess. Why's everyone asleep? Let's get out of here."
  330. >"It is the power of the shadow ponies… Too tired to move… Why are you so… lively?"
  331. "Are you kidding? This place is dripping with earth magic. Can't you feel it?"
  332. >Applejack scratches her chin
  333. >"Earth magic, huh? I'm feelin' pretty good too, to be honest."
  334. >Luna's ears visibly strain to hear your conversation
  335. >and the moon princess lifts her tired head as well
  336. >"Earth magic…"
  337. >Luna's eyes scan the room slowly
  338. >"I see… I recognize this place now."
  339. >"What, sister? What is this place?"
  340. >"Has it been so long? Have you forgotten? A thousand years ago, this was the hermitage of the royal earth mages."
  341. >Celestia's eyes widen as she looks about the chamber
  342. >"You're right. So it was."
  343. >this place…
  344. >these shadow ponies…
  345. >they must be…!
  346. "Princess. What happened to the earth mages? 800 years ago they died out, but you never told Rockhoof why."
  347. >"It is… painful… to tell…"
  348. "I need to know."
  349. >Celestia nods
  350. >"A little over one thousand years ago… the Castle of the Royal Sisters found itself with just one sister."
  351. >"The castle… the memories… it was too lonely… too terrible."
  352. >"I left this place, and founded Canterlot."
  353. >"But in those days, the Everfree Forest was the Everfree Grove… the greatest hub of earth magic in all the land, and the pride of all the royal earth mages."
  354. >"The earth mages… refused to leave. They stayed behind and tended to their precious grove… They abandoned me."
  355. >"Over the years… the earth mages grew more and more isolated…"
  356. >"They stopped contacting me… they refused to train new earth mages for me… Eventually, they refused to train new earth mages entirely… for fear that they would come to me."
  357. >"After 200 years, the Everfree Grove had become a wild and terrible forest… And I knew that the last of the old earth mages were gone…"
  358. "Not the last."
  359. >"No… Rockhoof was trapped in time… and returned a short while ago…"
  360. "And he trained me."
  361. >Celestia smiles a sleepy smile
  362. >"That's… good… I'm… glad…"
  363. >the Princess's head sinks back to the ground
  364. >nobody is left awake but you and Applejack
  365. >your gaze seeks, finds, and rests upon the sleeping form of Twilight Sparkle
  366. >the mare who accidentally made you a princess
  367. >she's snuggled up next to Cadance
  368. >her torso rises and falls with her deep, steady breaths
  369. >"Uh, pardner."
  370. "What's up?"
  371. >"Might wanna like behind you."
  372. >you turn around
  373. >dozens of shadow ponies loom in the torchlight
  374. >you're hit with that strange wave of nostalgia
  375. >the power you felt when you threw that rock at Blueblood
  376. >your simple, black cutie mark
  377. >the dancing flowers
  378. >the tumbling boulder
  379. >the days when Celestia's royal earth mages lived in great honor
  380. >Applejack has already fallen to her knees and begun yawning
  381. >you're feeling pretty sleepy, too
  382. >you've got to do something
  383. >you've got to do something fast
  384. "Wait…"
  385. >you sink down to your belly
  386. "I can… bring it back."
  387. >the shadow ponies tilt their heads at this
  388. "I can bring those days back."
  389. >strength slowly returns to your limbs
  390. >you take a shaky stand
  391. "I can bring earth magic back."
  392. >the shadow ponies look at each other
  393. "Look at me. I'm a damned alicorn princess, with an earth magic cutie mark. I can bring it back."
  394. >power from the earth rushes into your hooves and awakens you to full awareness
  395. "I'll bring it back. I promise. But you have to let me go. You have to let my friends go, too."
  396. >the shadow ponies look at you
  397. >then back at each other
  398. >the ancient earth mages share a nod
  399. >and then
  400. >they vanish
  402. >long story short
  403. >everyone woke up
  404. >Twilight flipped shit when she saw you
  405. /"Who thought it would be a good idea to make Anon an alicorn?!"
  406. "Lemme see. Starswirl the Bearded, Rockhoof, the Aether, and uh… her."
  407. >you point at Princess Celestia
  408. >but she's taken a strange interest in staring at the chamber ceiling and whistling
  409. >everyone got safely out of the tunnel
  410. >but you made sure to seal it back up when everyone was out
  411. >following this, you made a triumphant return to Canterlot
  412. >to your eternal gratitude, Celestia took her job back
  413. >thus ensuring that you'll never have to do Day Court ever again
  414. >almost even better, it was right around time for Sunset when the train pulled into the Canterlot train station
  415. >Luna took the opportunity to make a beautiful, clear, starry night
  416. >with a big full Moon and everything
  417. >Pinkie Pie took the opportunity to throw a formal "Anon's After-Birthday Party / Return of the Real Princesses Party" in the castle courtyard
  418. >and by "formal", you mean that she's currently bouncing around the courtyard trying to coax ponies into doing the Pony Pokey with her
  419. >Twilight's chatting with the rest of her friends on a white marble pavillion
  420. >the elder princesses are smiling and waving from an elevated platform
  421. >Cadance is sitting in a corner, bouncing her kid around in her magic
  422. >th-that's pretty sweet...
  423. >you quickly turn away and search for something else to look at
  424. >Discord scowls at you from the buffet table
  425. >you trot over to him
  426. "Hey, buddy."
  427. >"Hmmm…"
  428. "Is that offer to make me human again still on the table?"
  429. >Discord scoffs
  430. >"What? Now that you've restored order and harmony to the land for the rest of the foreseeable future?!"
  431. "Uh… yeah?"
  432. >"Heavens no!"
  433. "Dick licker."
  434. >Discord snaps his claws
  435. >you're telepoofed into the middle of Twilight's friends
  436. >immediately, four pairs of pastel hooves begin poking and prodding you
  437. >"Ooh, look, it's widdle Princess Anon!"
  438. >"You look sooo cute with those wings!"
  439. >"Darling! You must let me smush your face some more!"
  440. >"He he, ha! Lemme tousle that mane, sugarcube!"
  441. "Ah! No! I never asked for this! Twilight, help me!"
  442. >Twilight rolls her eyes
  443. >then hoists you up in her magic
  444. >a chorus of "aww"s rises from her friends
  445. /"Come on, you. We have to talk."
  446. >Twilight waves to Princess Celestia, who nods and takes wing
  447. >then she takes you over to a corner where Starswirl the Bearded and Rockhoof are waiting
  448. >she sets you down
  449. >and Celestia lands nearby
  450. <"Ah, Princess Anonymous. We've been meaning to speak with you."
  451. "Oh, hey, what's up? What do you want to talk about?"
  452. <"Your continuing education."
  453. "Whoah, hang on a second, dude. I brought back the real princesses. I'm done with this bullshit now."
  454. <"The other princesses, Anonymous. Not the real princesses."
  455. "Nope, nope, nope nope nope nope nope!"
  456. >you attempt to flee
  457. >but Twilight blocks your path
  458. /"Anon, I think you're old enough to take on a few responsibilities."
  459. "B-but I'm only 30!"
  460. >Celestia giggles
  461. >"Anonymous, I promise, you won't have the same workload that you had during our absence. As a young alicorn princess, we only want to give you a small responsibility."
  462. >you look at Rockhoof
  463. >he smirks
  464. ^"If I heard the story correctly, lass, you seem tae hae made a promise tae some old friends of mine."
  465. "What, the earth magic thing? I mean, I was kind of thinking that could be sort of a private venture, maybe like a few years down the line when I'm fully grown-"
  466. >"Then it's settled!"
  467. "What, settled? What's settled?! I didn't settle anything!"
  468. >"Anonymous, your ascension and acts of bravery have demonstrated the true value of earth magics, a field of study which has gone neglected for far too long."
  469. >Celestia begins to lower her horn toward your shoulder
  470. >"I hereby appoint you-"
  471. "No!"
  472. >you dodge the horn
  473. >Celestia tries again
  474. >"I hereby appoint you-"
  475. >you dodge again, and try to flee
  476. >but Twilight restrains you with her magic and places you back in front of Celestia
  477. "No!"
  478. >"Thank you Twilight. Princess Anonymous, I hereby appoint you…"
  479. >Celestia's warm horn gently touches your right shoulder
  480. >then moves to your left
  481. >"The Princess of Earth!"
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