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Quest for The Forbidden Lover

Just_A_User Dec 31st, 2017 (edited) 1,239 Never
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  1. Part 1
  3. >Be Cadance
  4. >Princess of love
  5. >A new batch of men has come through the portal this week, waiting to be paired with the mare of their lives
  6. >Poor guys, having to live their lives in a world where females don't feel real love for their men
  7. >You have already sorted through most of the men with the help of the Crystal Heart, showing what mare is best suited to what human
  8. >And you're starting to work on the last human of the group
  9. >Someone named Anonymous
  10. >Or just Anon, as you prefer to call him
  11. >Yesterday he had his soul read by the Cristal Heart
  12. >He sounded pretty skeptical when you told him to touch the crystal and have his soul read
  13. >He thought he was going to fill some form or answer some questions
  14. >Nah
  15. >… well
  16. >You actually used to do that at first
  17. >Seemed more logical to pair up men and mare with shared interests
  18. >But it didn't work out
  19. >So you decided to go with your gut, and a little bit of cheating via Crystal Heart
  20. >You're the princess of love after all, not the princess of logic
  21. >Anyway, getting off track here
  22. >It usually takes a day for it find a mare compatible with a man
  23. >Which means today you're getting the results
  24. >You can't wait to know the lucky mare who’s getting a husbando in the next few days
  25. "Alright, Cristal Heart, show me Anonymous' soul mate"
  26. >The gem's center started to shine, before the name of the mare popped up with regal lettering
  27. "Daybreaker?"
  28. >You read out loud for yourself
  29. "Never heard of her"
  30. >Kind of a weird name too
  31. >What is she, a super villain or something?
  32. >You can't help but let out a very unladylike snort at the thought
  33. >Yeah right, like the Cristal Heart would pair an innocent man with an evil pony
  34. "But only a name, though? Are you getting lazy on me? Show me where Daybreaker lives"
  35. >The name on the center of the crystal fades, only for an image of Canterlot to pop into existence in its place
  36. "Okay, now show me Daybreaker"
  37. >Once again the image on the crystal fades out and the image that fades in is-
  38. >Celestia?
  39. >You take a moment to reel back
  40. >Yeah, it IS her, sitting on her throne, looking bored out of her mind
  41. >Why is the crystal heart showing you Celestia?
  42. "I said, show me Daybreaker"
  43. >Celestia's image starts to fade out
  44. >Oh thank Celestia
  45. >That was probably just a-
  46. >And Celestia's image shows up again
  47. >You bite your upper lip in frustration
  48. >This never happened before
  49. >Just who is this Daybre-
  50. >That name…
  51. >And it keeps showing Celestia…
  52. >Masaka!
  53. >Looks like you’ll have to be princess of logic one more time
  54. >Gulping down a lump in your throat, you look left and right to see if there isn’t anypony around to hear you
  55. >Not a soul
  56. >Good
  57. >Okay, there’s nothing to worry about
  58. >You’re only overreacting
  59. >You’re sure of it
  60. “Crystal Heart, show me… Nightmare Moon”
  61. >You whisper the last part
  62. >The broadcast of Celestia’s throne adventures fade out
  63. >Please don’t be who you think it is
  64. >Please don’t be who you think it is
  65. >Please don’t be who yo-
  66. >It’s Luna…
  67. >She’s on the crystal heart right now
  68. >Sleeping in her bedchambers with her husbando
  69. >…
  70. >Lips pursed, your eyes wander around, as if the answer to your newfound problem would just show up
  71. “Shit”
  74. Part 2
  76. >”Absolutely not!”
  77. >That was a lot of self-control auntie, you could almost hear the Royal Canterlot Voice
  78. >Thank your auntie you put a silencing spell on her bedchambers after you both got in
  79. >After having a good idea of who Daybreaker might be, you came straight to Canterlot to speak privately with your aunt
  80. >You left Anon back in the Crystal Empire, instead of bringing him along
  81. >Poor guy thought you were going to tell him about his mare when you showed up
  82. >You had to make an excuse
  83. >You couldn’t just tell him who she was
  84. >Especially when you don’t even know if it’s possible to bring Daybreaker without the apocalypse coming along as a bonus
  85. >The look of disappointment when you said the Crystal Heart had yet to reveal his future partner almost broke your non-crystal heart
  86. >But you can’t tell him anything unless you’re one hundred percent sure this is possible or not.
  87. “But why not?”
  88. >”Why not? Pfft, she’s asking why not”
  89. >Okay, that was a bit rude
  90. >But before you can even say anything you reel back when she’s suddenly pushing you back with her face
  91. >”Cadance, are you listening to yourself?”
  92. >You don’t know what to say, so you just nod
  93. >That seems to be enough for her to pull back
  94. >”Then you must know how insane your request is”
  95. >You mean, yeah
  96. >Potentially unleashing evil in the world on purpose for the sake of love and making Anon and this Daybreaker happy is pretty dumb and illogical in hindsight
  97. >But as you said
  98. >You’re not the princess of logic, you’re the princess of love!
  99. >You don’t deal with numbers, common sense, or facts
  100. >You deal with emotions and feelings
  101. >And as long as you live your eternal life, nothing will stand in the way of love god dammit
  102. >You mean Celestia dammit
  103. >Those human mannerisms are rubbing off on you
  104. “But auntie, even if it’s dangerous, don’t you think it’s unfair to deny Daybraker a chance to be happy?”
  105. >That look on her face isn’t good
  106. >But this is your job, and you can’t back down
  107. “I mean, sure she can end up destroying the world as we know…”
  108. >Oh boy, she looks even angrier now
  109. “Buuut… this could be a good chance to reform her…”
  110. >Make sure to give her your best smile Cadance
  111. >Stop twitching, you damn lips, else she’s not gonna take you seriously
  112. >Auntie then closes her eyes and takes a deep breath
  113. >”Cadance”
  114. “Yes!”
  115. >Are you through with her, this easily?
  116. >”In the off chance that I’d accept your mad request
  117. >”How, in my name, do you expect this to work out?”
  118. >You open your mouth to answer only to realize you can’t
  119. >And you don’t know how, in her name, this would work out
  120. >”From your face I’m sure you have realized that Daybreaker and I are one, and we share the same body”
  121. >”And I am NOT willing to let her control MY body just so she can have a date and be happy while I have watch everything, locked away in her PSYCHE!”
  122. >You reel back and rub your ears at her outburst
  123. >Auntie sure looks pissed
  124. >She’s even tapping into her Royal Canterlot Voice at random intervals
  125. >Which is actually really off, now that you think about it
  126. >She never acts like this
  127. >In any other circumstance she would just be a little peeved, but not outright angry
  128. >There’s got to be something more
  129. “Auntie, why are you so against this?”
  130. “Aren’t you the one telling us to teach the value of friendship and such?”
  131. “Letting Daybreaker discover the joys of love could mean one less problem for us to deal with in the future”
  132. >”Because, my dear Mi Amore Cadenza”
  133. >She said your full name
  134. >She never says your full name
  135. >And she’s speaking through her teeth
  136. >This is not good
  137. >”I just don’t want to, how do these humans say it? Feel like the third wheel”
  138. >That’s a pretty strained smile you got there auntie
  139. “Auntie, why do you mind? You’re always so joyful whenever somepony gets a chance to be happy”
  140. “Why are you so frustrated now, all of a sudden?”
  141.  >“Frustrated?”
  142. >She looks you in the eye
  143. >Uh-oh, I think I pushed the wrong button
  144. >Auntie doesn’t just look angry anymore
  145. >She looks downright offended
  146. “Frustrated? Hah, I’m not frustrated, why would I be frustrated?”
  147. >Auntie circles you like a predator waiting for the perfect chance to pounce
  148. >”I mean, it’s not like you, the Princess of Love, just asked for a private conversation, giving me false hope, only talk about how Daybreaker, of all ponies, is somehuman’s soulmate, while I still don’t have a lover!”
  149. >Oh
  150. >Ohhh
  151. >You suck air through your teeth
  152. >So that’s what that was
  153. >She’s jealous
  154. >Luna also having her own human probably doesn’t help things
  155. >This must suck for her
  156. >This would suck for anypony actually
  157. >What would the humans say again?
  158. >Oh yeah
  159. >That’s bullshit
  160. “But still, that’s not fair, aun-“
  161. >”Not fair?!”
  162. >With a golden glow creeping the corners of your sight, your whole body lurches forward and you butt heads with your Auntie
  163. >”I’ll tell you what’s not fair, Cadenza”
  164. >Not Cadenza…
  165. >“Having to sit on my ass all day, every day, for the past thousands of years, talking to a bunch of butt licking nobles and arguing with inept politicians, only for the day to end, and realize that unlike my sister, I don’t have a man to hold me tight and tell me how much he loves me, and make all this bullshit I go through every day, worth the wait at the end!!”
  166. >”And then you dare come into my castle, to talk about letting my evil half take over my body, just so she can get what I don’t have!?”
  167. >….!
  168. >Holy mother of-
  169. >Owie!
  170. >Auntie launches you back with her magic
  171. >Thankfully, her target was her bed, where you bounce a couple of times before coming to a full stop
  172. >You… you never knew she felt like that
  173. >And you were so inconsiderate
  174. >The way she spoke before her outburst kind of gave away she didn’t like the idea of her evil half somehow having a husbando before her
  175. >But you didn’t notice
  176. >You kind of wished you were the princess of logic for a moment
  177. >At least if you were, the signs would’ve been obvious
  178. >And now trash doesn’t begin describe how you feel at the moment
  179. >You look at your aunt to see her breathing heavily
  180. >Her usually gently flowing mane now moving at a more erratic pace
  181. >And on the corner of her eyes you could see tears forming
  182. >Taking notice of this, she rubs her eyes with her hoof, and closes her eyes, taking deep breaths to calm herself
  183. >It doesn’t take long for Auntie to compose herself before starting to walk toward the door
  184. >”I think we’re done here, Cadenza”
  185. >Wai-NO!
  186. >This isn’t over
  187. >You can’t go back emptyhoofed
  188. >Anon will be devastated
  189. >You scramble out of the bed and rush to the door before she could reach it, effectively blocking her way out
  190. >Unless she decides to teleport
  191. “Auntie, you have to unders-“
  192. >“Drop it”
  193. >You wince
  194. >She never uses a tone this sharp
  195. >Oh yeah, she’s very mad at you
  196. “But-
  197. >“I said drop it”
  198. >You wanna drop it
  199. >A mad auntie is a scary auntie
  200. >But you can’t let Anon down
  201. >So you shake your head like a stubborn child
  202. “Cadenza, I sa-“
  203. “No, I’m not gonna drop it!”
  204. “Please, just listen to me”
  205. >If she’s going to listen, you have no clue
  206. >You’re too scared to make eye contact at the moment
  207. >But it’s now or never
  208. “I know the idea of Daybreaker having a man waiting for her infuriates you, especially when she probably doesn’t even deserve one”
  209. >Mustering all the courage you have, you force your head up to meet your aunt’s fierce glare
  210. “But are you really going to deny somehuman’s happiness just because you don’t have it yet? This person dropped everything he had back in his world for this, and you’re just gonna refuse to give him a chance to be happy?”
  211. >Her gaze softens a bit; you’re starting to get through her
  212. “This isn’t like you, auntie; you’re not this selfish, please”
  213. >The way her gaze lingers on you send shivers down your spine
  214. >If Auntie had hands, you bet they would be clenched tight right now
  215. >But you see her blowing air from her nostrils after a deep breath
  216. >That’s a sign of her trying to be reasonable
  217. >At least one sign you had to notice
  218. >“Alright, what do you have in mind?”
  219. >You gulp a lump your throat and try to think how you can convince her to let Daybreaker out
  220. >And fast too, otherwise Auntie will just dump you here and go back to her royal duties
  221. “What if… we separated you and Daybreaker into two entities?”
  222. >Rather than a very angry scowl, you get a, angry scowl and a lifted eyebrow
  223. >An improvement, at last!
  224. >”And how do you plan on doing that?”
  225. >You didn’t think this far
  226. >The plan was made on the fly, after all
  227. “Well… there must be a spell that can do the trick, right?”
  228. >She doesn’t look convinced
  229. “The archives have so many book and scrolls, there must be something there related to multiple entities living in one body, right?”
  230. >Yeah, that sounds about right, with so many of them, there’s bound to be some-
  231. >”No there isn’t, I’ve read every book, and every scroll in the archives, front to back, at least three times”
  232. >Archives are out of question then, what next?
  233. >Think, Cadance, think
  234. “Uhh… what about the old castle ruins in the Everfree Forest?”
  235. >Yeah, there’s definitely someth-
  236. >Oh c’mon, don’t shake your head like that
  237. >Not even in the old castle?
  238. >This isn’t good
  239. >This isn’t good at all
  240. >And auntie is starting to make her way past you and toward the door again
  241. >“It seems you’re out of options Cadenza, our get together has been… less enjoyable than expected”
  242. >Stop talking like that, Auntie, your choice of words hurt
  243. >This is not even your fault
  244. >It was the Crystal Heart who picked Daybreaker for Anon
  245. >But it feels like it is your fault
  246. >Because you’re and one relaying the news
  247. >And you’re feeling even worse now
  248. >“But I believe we must part ways for now”
  249. >Fuck, fuck, fuck
  250. >Think harder, Cadance!
  252. >Ow
  253. >Your ears
  254. >You’re still not used to Royal Canterlot Voice
  255. >But you got your reaction
  256. >Auntie stopped and turned her head to look at you
  257. >And she looks completely uninterested in what you have to say
  258. >”What about her?”
  259. “Twilight is so smart, she could think of a spell that could separate you and Daybreaker, and, uhhh, Starlight! Yeah, Starlight Glimmer, she also very smart, the two of them together can definitely cook up a spell to solve our problem”
  260. >Don’t stare like that, please
  261. >Why did Anon have to draw Daybreaker out of the millions of ponies in Equestria?
  262. >You guess it was only a matter of time till it happened, but still
  263. >”Who knows? Maybe you should talk to her, and we’ll see what happens”
  264. >Wait, just like that?
  265. >No back and forth this time?
  266. “Y-yeah, I’ll see to that…”
  267. >The two of you stand there in awkward silence for a full minute
  268. >During this time you see a multitude of emotions flare through auntie’s eyes before she closed them and finally gives you a curt nod
  269. >”Well, if you excuse me, I have a nation to run, have a good day Cadance”
  270. >With a heavy sigh, she turns back to the exit
  271. >For a fraction of a second you can see something glistening on the corner of her eyes before she turns completely to the door and making her way out
  272. >You really fucked this up, didn’t you?
  273. >You’ve never seen Auntie so… defeated before
  274. >Not even actual defeats got to her like this
  275. >She probably doesn’t even want to see your face anymore, either
  276. >So much for being the princess of love
  277. >You feel like you failed her
  278. >You wonder if she blames you for this
  279. >No, that’s stupid
  280. >Of course she wouldn’t
  281. >Auntie is not this unreasonable
  282. >She knows you have no control over who the Crystal Heart chooses
  283. >She’s just upset, that’s all
  284. >Years of being alone are getting to her, and seeing everypony happy with their human partners doesn’t help
  285. >Sigh
  286. “This is going to be a long quest, Daybreaker”
  287. >You make your way out of the room, and toward the castle’s front gates
  288. >You have a train to catch
  289. >Destination? Ponyville
  290. “And I hope you make Anon the happiest man on Equestria”
  293. Part 3
  295. >”Absolutely not!”
  296. >You and Spike wince back
  297. >Like teacher, like student, you guess
  298. >”Geez Twilight, you don’t need to yell”
  299. >You got that right Spike
  300. >What’s with Alicorns overreacting to you asking to release a potential murderous psychopath?
  301. >”Here’s your tea, Cadance”
  302. >He hands you and Twilight tea before making his way out
  303. “Thanks Spike”
  304. >Before taking the train to Ponyville you sent a letter to Shining with a few tasks
  305. >First
  306. >Tell Anon that his match might take longer than anticipated, and that you’re sorry it couldn’t happen any faster
  307. >Second
  308. >Keep Anon distracted for the time being
  309. >Play games like Ogres and Oubliettes
  310. >Or those vidya games some men bring over
  311. >Be a bro, like they would say
  312. >Honestly, the reaction of some human men to just the possibility of not being matched were… not ideal
  313. >Yeah
  314. >Some of them are real desperate for companionship
  315. >Anon doesn’t strike you as the desperate type, though
  316. >He looked sad when you talked to him, yes
  317. >But not to the extent some other had
  318. >So hopefully he won’t do anything drastic to himself
  319.  >And third
  320. >While you’re busy trying to find a way to get to Daybreaker
  321. >He is to match every man, or group of men, that comes through the portal, with a mare
  322. >You taught him how to use the Crystal Heart, so it’s nothing new to him
  323. >Now were you again?
  324. >Oh yeah, Twilight Sparkle
  325. >After doing the usual greeting upon meeting her
  326. >The both of you headed to her library, where she promptly told you no
  327. >Obviously
  328. “Gee, why not?”
  329. >You take a lazy sip out of your tea
  330. >Spike keeps outdoing himself, this is some good tea
  331. >”Why not? Pfft, she’s asking why not”
  332. >She really is auntie’s student
  333. >”Cadance are you listening to yourself?”
  334. >Okay, that’s it
  335. “Yes, I am, and yes, my request is insane!”
  336. >Oops
  337. >That came out a bit more aggressive than you intended
  338. >But seeing Twilight’s confused face is pretty funny
  339. >Took the word right out of your mouth, huh?
  340. >“W-well, if you know that, then why come here to ask it all the same?”
  341. >Really Twilight?
  342. >It’s not like your cutie mark is a dead give away
  343. >You point a hoof to your butt anyway
  344. >No need to waste air with something so obvious
  345. >”Oh, right, I forgot, heh”
  346. >You get a pass because your nervous laughs are just too adorable, Twilight
  347. >”But still, separating Celestia from her evil half, for a human? That’s crazy!”
  348. >”Don’t you realize how dangerous that could be?”
  349. “And that’s exactly why I came for you, Twilight”
  350. >Another dainty sip, there ya go
  351. “You’re the only pony I know who is smart enough to think of a solution”
  352. >”And while I’m flattered that you think so highly of me, why not ask Starswirl instead? He’s more knowledgeable in magic than almost any pony I know”
  353. >You take another sip
  354. >Uh huh, Starsw- what?
  355. >You hold the warm tea in your mouth, and slosh it around
  356. >Thinking about what you just heard before gulping down
  357. > Starswirl…
  358. >As in, Starswirl the Bearded?
  359. >Should you be worried about Twilight’s mental health?
  360. “Twilight, Starswirl is dead”
  361. >”No he’s not”
  362. >You’re about to correct her when you see her smile innocently
  363. >She’s… she’s not lying
  364. >”It’s quite the story, heh”
  365. >”I’m surprised Princess Celestia didn’t tell you”
  366. >You stare at the mare sitting on the sofa across your own
  367. >Rubbing her head nervously
  368. >Auntie didn’t tell you anything about this
  369. >Why didn’t she tell you anything about this?
  370. >Are you being left out?
  371. >Questions for later
  372. “Anyway, Twilight, aren’t you the princess of friendship? Give Daybreaker a chance, you gave Discord a chance”
  373. >”For starters, Discord isn’t a violent psychopath!”
  374. >Damn, she’s right
  375. >He’s chaotic
  376. >But only for fun, he never hurts anypony
  377. >Even when he was evil
  378. >At least physically anyways
  379. “Ehh… point taken, but think about it, this way”
  380. >She arches an eyebrow
  381. “This could mean another Alicorn princess, imagine having two Celestias?”
  382. >This piques her interest somewhat
  383. >Gotta play this right
  384. >Twilight has always licked the floor auntie walks on
  385. >No way Twilight, of all ponies, would deny having two Princess Celestias around
  386. >Even if one of them isn’t actually like the Celestia you all know and love
  387.  “Wouldn’t it be great? Two different facets of Celestia for you to talk to”
  388. >She taps her hoof on her chin
  389. >”Hmmm, it does sound fascinating”
  390. >Yes!
  391. >“And having insight from both of them could lead to great discussions”
  392. >Oh yeah
  393. >You got this on the ba-
  394. >“But it’s still stupid, and I’m not gonna do it”
  395. >flips_table.jpeg
  396. >You don’t know what .jpeg means
  397. >But you heard some humans say that term when something doesn’t go their way
  398. “You won’t do it because you don’t wanna do it, or because you can’t?”
  399. >”Both actually, I have no idea how I’d be able to separate Daybreaker from Princess Celestia”
  400. >You open your mouth
  401. >”EVEN, if I had Starlight helping me!”
  402. >Aaand you close it back
  403. >”And even if I did know how, I wouldn’t do it, it’s simply too dangerous to make Daybreaker her own living being”
  404. >You were about to tell that with so many books on her library, there’s no way she couldn’t have one with a spell that deals with the subject of your current quest
  405. >But this is Twilight you’re talking, remember?
  406. >She must’ve read all of these books, at the very least, ten times over
  407. >You have to try a different approach
  408. >But what…
  409. >Think Cadance, think
  410. >Damn it, you can’t think of anything!
  411. >”Well, if this is all, I think you should get going Cadance”
  412. >No!
  413. >You don’t have to get going
  414. >You have to get Twilight to help you
  415. >”You have to tell the bad news to this human, that you can’t match him with a mare”
  416. >Damn Sombra’s soul to Tartarus, you’re not breaking Anon’s hea-
  417. >!
  418. >You got it…
  419. “Oh, that’s a pity then”
  420. >Play this right, Cadance, don’t screw it up
  421. >The right voice tone and you’ll have Twilight in no time
  422. >”It is, I can’t imagine how hard it will be for this human to-“
  423. “Oh, not that Twilight, that’s a pity too, but there’s another thing…”
  424. >Close your eyes
  425. >Turn your head to the side
  426. >Make a sad face
  427. >You know Twilight won’t resist and will ask w-
  428. >”Is something the matter? What is it, Cadance?”
  429. >Gotcha
  430. “Oh, it’s nothing, it’s just that…”
  431. >Pause for dramatic effect
  432. >”We now have to destroy it all to make more room for the men coming through the portal…”
  433. >You hear the sofa shuffling under Twilight’s weight
  434. >You bet she’s leaning forward in curiosity and dread
  435. >Yes, gotcha indeed, she’s all over your words
  436. >”D-destroy what?”
  437. >She asks, gulping nervously, wondering what has to be destroyed thanks to her choice
  438. “Oh you know, Sombra’s study, full of all sorts of notes, information and books collected through the years”
  439. >You hear a deep breath intake and turn your now open eyes to Twilight
  440. >Dear auntie, you’ve never seen Twilight’s eyes bug out that much
  441. ”And since you’re not interested in helping me, I guess I’ll go through with burning everything do-“
  442. >“LIKE HAY YOU WILL!”
  443. >You wince close your eyes, rubbing your ears of the ringing
  444. >That as a royal Canterlot voice alright, first time you’ve heard Twilight use it
  445. >She’s a natural, that’s for sure
  446. >Now that you got her hooked, you just need to pu-
  447. >And she’s not on her sofa
  448. >Why is hot air hitting your neck?
  449. >Turning your head you’re face to face with-
  450. “Oh shi- Twilight!”
  451. >You lose your magical grip on your tea
  452. >But Twilight saves it the nick of time and places it on the tea table
  453. >She doesn’t stop breathing down your neck though
  454. >And with a glare to boot
  455. >You can’t help but reel back to get some space
  456. “Stop that”
  457. >You push her face back with your hoof
  458. >And that seems to be enough to pull Twilight out of her funk with a head shake
  459. >She even puts a hoof over her mouth, muttering an apology after realizing what she has done
  460. >Apology accepted Twilight
  461. >It’s not like you’re staying here
  462. >Now where were you? Oh yes
  463. “Like hay I will?”
  464. >She gulps
  465. >Time to go for kill
  466. “But Twilight, didn’t you say you weren’t helping me even if you had the means to?”
  467. >”Uhh…”
  468. >Contain that smirk Cadance, or she’ll catch onto you
  469. “And if you’re not helping me, why should I keep all those books and scrolls lying around when I could just get rid of them”
  470. >”Uhhhmm…”
  471. >Ohh, you’re so mean, making Twilight fidget like that
  472. >But you can’t stop now
  473. “Especially when those books and notes of Sombra’s could contain so much information on dangerous magic, never seen by anypony in hundreds, maybe thousands of years”
  474. >”Hmmmmmm…”
  475. >Oh my auntie, she’s actually shaking
  476. >You’re starting to feel bad right now
  477. “An-“
  478. >”Alright, stop, I’ll help you!”
  479. >You resist the urge to hoof pump
  480. >It wouldn’t be educated to commemorate right in front of poor Twilight
  481. >Can’t stop that smirk though
  482. >That one’s staying, and you’re sure it’s pissing her off
  483. >”In two conditions!”
  484. >She raises her hoof to your face
  485. >Almost poking your snout
  486. >”First, you’re NOT touching anything inside that study with the intent to harm, EVER!
  487. >“And once we’re finished, you’re giving all that material to ME!”
  488. >Sounds reasonable, you were already gonna give it to Twilight one of these days anyways
  489. >You thank auntie you didn’t, otherwise you wouldn’t have material to bribe her with
  490. >You nod, which in turn makes her a little less frustrated
  491. >”And second, you have to promise me things will be under control, and nothing will go wrong, this is still too dangerous”
  492. “Twilight, we will have four Alicorns, me, you, Auntie Celestia and Luna, I think we can subdue Daybreaker with all our magic combined”
  493. >She’s still glaring at you
  494. >“Promise”
  495. >Okay, alright
  496. “I promise nothing wrong will happen and no one will get hurt”
  497. >”Pinkie promise”
  498. >You sigh and roll your eyes
  499. >Still, better do this right now and prevent Twilight from suddenly growing common sense and back out
  500. >How was it again?
  501. “Cross my heart”
  502. >You cross your hoof over your chest
  503. “Hope to fly”
  504. >And flap your wings
  505. “Stick a cupcake in my e-OW!”
  506. >Ow, damn, that hurt
  507. >Not to self: Take off the gold horseshoes before doing a pinkie promise
  508. >Twlight glares at you more before smiling to herself and nodding
  509. >You watch as she jumps off the sofa and make her way out of the library
  510. >”Starlight, Spike, pack your stuff, we’re going to the Crystal Empire!”
  511. >Her yell reverberates from the all over castle’s hallways
  512. >And you can’t help the smirk from creeping up your face again as you finish your tea
  513. >You could care less that it’s cold by now
  514. >Mission accomplished
  515. >New ponies want to join party
  516. >Twilight Sparkle
  517. >Starlight Glimmer
  518. >Spike
  519. >Accept new party members?
  520. >Absolutely
  523. Part 4
  525. >”Remind me, why are we doing this again?”
  526. >You look away the book you’re currently reading to respond, but Twilight beats you to the punch
  527. >”Because, Starlight, somepony here couldn’t catch a hint and just let it go”
  528. >Giving you the dirty look, huh?
  529. >Is that how’s gonna be Twilight?
  530. >Okay then, alright
  531. >File that for later, Cadance
  532. >Be Cadance, by the way
  533. >You have successfully bri-
  534. >Convinced
  535. >Twilight and her two housemates to come to the crystal empire to search for a way to separate Daybreaker from Celestia
  536. >Despite being genuinely ecstatic to research old books on magic left by Sombra
  537. >You could feel a certain animosity from Twilight
  538. >Directed toward you, of course
  539. >Maybe bri-
  540. >Convincing
  541. >Convincing her the way you did wasn’t exactly the best way to get things done
  542. >But it’s not like you had a plethora of different options considering what you have to work with
  543. >You did what you had to do
  544. [spoiler]>Bully Twilight into submission[/spoiler]
  545. >Find a way to get Twilight and Starlight to help you
  546. >Mostly Twilight
  547. >Any animosity she had for you almost vanished as soon as you three made it to Sombra’s study though, and she witnessed how big and packed the place was
  548. >Easily as big as your castle’s very own library
  549. >Even Starlight was getting excited at the prospect of learning more
  550. >You’ve never been so thankful for a bonus that comes with the package
  551. >Spike is another bonus, but he can’t help you at all
  552. >He’s coming because Twilight didn’t want to leave him alone
  553. >He really likes hanging out with humans though, so it’s all good
  554. >Something about how humans get him
  555. >I think it’s because the men can be just as snarky and sarcastic as he is
  556. >Or maybe it’s how relatable they are with how back in their world their love was unrequited
  557. >Just like Spike’s love for Rarity
  558. >Poor Spike
  559. >His day will come
  560. >Not today though
  561. >Today is the day of finding out how to give anon his match
  562. >So you just huff and raise your nose
  563. >No need to get your feathers ruffled by Twilight’s comment
  564. >You’re all here for a reason
  565. >So back to the book you go
  566. >”And the pony we’re trying to get to, is Daybreaker?”
  567. >”Yup”
  568. >You hear Glimmer taking a deep breath
  569. >”Why did I agree to this again?”
  570. >You take your eyes of the book again an-
  571. >“You didn’t, I brought you with me because other than the Princess Celestia, and Princess Luna, you’re the only one who dealt with Daybreaker before”
  572. >You can’t help but turn an ear to their little chat, some useful info might come out of it
  573. >“I didn’t even know she was real, I thought she was just a figment of my imagination”
  574. >”Well, from what you told me, she did show up only after Princess Celestia appeared in your nightmare, so maybe it was the Princess’ magic manifesting itself as Daybreaker in response to your fears?”
  575. >”Princess Celestia isn’t exactly proficient at managing dreams like Princess Luna, so I wouldn’t put it behind as being inexperience”
  576. >Yeah nope, none of this will help you in the long run
  577. >This is just some trivia
  578. >”Well, that does sound like a plausible explanation”
  579. “Girls, we’re not here to chit chat, we’re here to study”
  580. >This got the both of them to shut up real quick
  581. >Twilight has an automatic reaction to the word study and immediately dives her head back to the book she was doing her research on
  582. >Starlight didn’t look to amused with you cutting her conversation short though
  583. >Despite being stupidly smart, she’s not as eggheady as Twilight
  584. >But a sigh came right after when she realized she had no choice in the matter
  585. >You were not letting her get out of the Crystal Empire until you’ve either find what you’re looking for, or read through every book and find nothing
  586. >”This will be the stupidest thing I’ll ever do if it goes through”
  587. >Think you didn’t catch that, Starlight?
  588. “Not as stupid as creating time paradoxes and plunging the world into chaos”
  589. >You mutter to yourself
  590. >But with just enough volume for Starlight to hear you
  591. >And hear you she does, sinking her head further into the book, and splaying her ears back as soon as the words left your mouth
  592. >Twilight gives you a disapproving look, and you realize you screwed up
  593. “Umm, sorry, I didn’t mean to”
  594. >You don’t know if she heard you, but if she did she’s clearly ignoring you now
  595. >She just keeps her head down on her book
  596. >You look back at Twilight and see her shaking her head before going back to her own book
  597. >Way to go, Cadance
  598. >First you got Auntie depressed
  599. >Now you got Twilight mad at you, and Starlight feeling guilty
  600. >What’s wrong with you?
  601. >You’ve been acting out of character
  602. >Is the stress of working everyday with matching men with mares catching up to you?
  603. >No, that can’t be, pairing them up always fills your heart with joy
  604. >Maybe…
  605. >Is the possibility of not being able to get Daybreaker and Anon together messing with your head?
  606. >You try to shake the thoughts off your head and refocus on the book
  607. >You have no time for this, Cadance
  608. >There’s a man waiting for his mare and you’re not failing him
  609. >And with the vast collection of information surrounding you, and two of the biggest minds in Equestria working together
  610. >You feel this is will be over in a jiffy
  611. >…
  612. >…
  613. >Okay, maybe a jiffy was bit of big exaggeration
  614. >You three have been camping on this damn study for about five days now
  615. >And have made a whopping zero progress
  616. >Progress in finding what you want, that is
  617. >Because the atmosphere around you three have been getting progressively worse
  618. >Starlight refuses to talk you after your little tongue slip
  619. >No matter how much you try to apologize, she keeps playing the silence game
  620. >Twilight’s getting more and more annoyed as the days go by, and nothing came up in the literal dozens of books she had read
  621. >And Twilight is still pissed over what you said to Starlight, and has kept conversations to a minimum
  622. >To top it all off, the both of them are exhausted
  623. >And you haven’t even began with how you feel
  624. >Angry
  625. >Depressed
  626. >Frustrated
  627. >You name it
  628. >You swear you’ve read over twenty of those Auntie forsaken books front to back and you still didn’t find shit
  629. >You have found some screwed up stuff, but nothing about splitting two beings living in the same body
  630. >You’re on your wits ends here
  631. >It’s kinda shocking that Sombra’s study of all things doesn’t have anything on it
  632. >Wasn’t he some sort of psychopath?
  633. >This would be right up his alley
  634. >But nope, only your regular morally ambiguous magic that isn’t that big of a deal aside from a few spells
  635. >Like the book you just read, there’s nothing useful in it
  636. >Only runes and seals
  637. >Why are runes and seals morally ambiguous?
  638. >Because their effects are permanent as long as the runes or seals aren’t damaged
  639. >With a flick of your magic, you casually toss the book to a pile that’s being growing increasingly larger
  640. >You’re so tired though, that you didn’t realize you overshoot the book and it-
  641. >”Ow!”
  642. >Went straight for Twilight’s head
  643. >”Okay, that’s enough!”
  644. >She closes a scroll the was going through and stands up, popping her stiff joints
  645. >”Starlight, c’mon, we’re going back to Ponyville”
  646. >Wait, no!
  647. “W-wait, you can’t do-“
  648. >”Can’t do what? Go back to my home?”
  649. “You can’t just give up like that!”
  650. >”Yes I can, and I’m doing it right now, I’m done with this, let’s go Starlight”
  651. >She does a 180º and trots straight for the door, with Starlight in tow
  652. “Wait, no!
  653. >You teleport in front of Twilight, blocking her way out
  654. >And she doesn’t look happy; she’s openly glaring at you now
  655. “Please, I need your help!”
  656. >You have to move to the left and right to keep her from going around you
  657. >When Twilight’s and Starlight’s horns start glowing, you don’t think twice before releasing a spell on the room
  658. >The glow on their horns fizzle out after you put up a magic nullifying spell
  659. >And now Twilight looks even angrier
  660. >”Cadance, what are you doing?”
  661. “You can’t go, you promised, remember?”
  662. >”No, YOU promised that nothing bad would happen”
  663. “And nothing bad has happened”
  664. >You know you got Twilight, because you’re technically not wrong
  665. “Don’t you want all of this?”
  666. >You wave your hoof to the waves and waves of books and scrolls scattered around the floor, and still sitting neatly on the shelves
  667. >“This isn’t worth the effort, Cadance, we’ve been here for almost a week and haven’t found anything, it’s useless”
  668. >Useless?
  669. >This isn’t useless, is it?
  670. “This isn’t useless, Twilight, this is for a good cause!”
  671. >”Good cause? Cadance, if this doesn’t work out as planned we could put Equestria in grave danger!”
  672. >You try to argue, but your friend’s having none of that
  673. >”I get it that this is your job, and you’re supposed to match any pony with any man no matter what, but this is insanity”
  674. “So that’s it, you don’t you care about these men, do you?
  675. >Looks like you offended Twilight here
  676. >“Of course I do, that’s why I think this is insane”
  677. >Before I can inquire she’s already onto me
  678. >“When there’s a point in time where I have to choose between the safety of all the ponies and humans in Equestria, or matching a man with a demon that can destroy everything, I’ll pick the first option!”
  679. >“Besides, we’re just wasting time here in trying to find the answer for the impossible, there is no soul splitting spell, or whatever!”
  680. >”We’ve already gone over all the book scrolls that deal with multiple personalities, or souls inside one body, and not a single one of them had any information about how to split them apart”
  681. >You can’t argue back
  682. >There’s no way to prove that what you’re looking for does, in fact, exists, when there’s no historical evidence of anything similar to it ever happening
  683. >You believe it does, but Twilight doesn’t share the same belief
  684.  “Please, do it for me”
  685. >”Do it for you!?”
  686. >Oh jeez, she sounds more pissed than ever
  687. >Twilight gets face to face with you
  688. >”Cadance, I know you offered this study for me as a deal to get me to help you, but also tried to help you because you’re our friend”
  689. >She taps your golden collar repeatedly
  690. “But you’ve been extremely rude and condescending, bossing us around, not letting us rest, and just overall being unpleasant to be with”
  691. >You what?
  692. >No, that’s not right.
  693. “N-no I haven-“
  694. >”Yes you have”
  695. >Starlight chimes in
  696. >”Ever since we’ve started researching for… whatever you’re trying to achieve, you have been forcing us to work nonstop, I’m sorry Princess, I know is important to you, but… we had enough”
  697. >Oh Celestia…
  698. >”C’mon Starlight, let’s get Spike and go home”
  699. >No…
  700. >Nononono
  701. >This can’t be happening
  702. >You need their help; you’re a catastrophe with high level magic
  703. >They’re not going away
  704. “No!”
  705. >Your magic surges and you seal the room from the inside
  706. >Twilight tries to open the study’s door with her own magic, but once again, all she manages are some sparks out of her horn
  707. “I’m not letting you out!”
  708. >You yell, your magic once again surges out, pulling everything to the center of the study, chairs, tables, lamps, and of course, the many books and scrolls littering the floor and shelves
  709. >Even Twilight and Starlight get pulled
  710. >Oh wait, shit, you shouldn’t react so casually to that
  711. >Your friends yelp out loud as they’re suddenly pulled to the center and are buried underneath a pile of furniture and books
  712. “Oh no”
  713. >You‘ve done it Cadance, you hurt your friends
  714. >Good job, you imbecile
  715. >You quickly use your magic to levitate everything from them
  716. >”Ow, ow, ow”
  717. >Twilight and Starlight have some bruises on them
  718. >Nothing too serious
  719. >But nothing that prevents you from feeling like shit
  720. >You practically assaulted your friends like a stubborn child because they didn’t want to help you
  721. “I’m so sorry”
  722. >Twilight sends a glare your way and looked ready to chew you out when her ears flicked toward the fireplace
  723. >And then yours flick to the same direction, and you hear it
  724. >A set of clicking echoes from behind the walls of the now deadly silent room
  725. >It sounds like some sort of machine, or a mechanism
  726. >Finally, with a final click, the walls around the fireplace slowly retract into the floor and the chimney raises a few hoofs up, revealing...
  727. >Ohhh shi-
  728. >”What the…“
  729. >”A secret passage?”
  730. >Twilight is the first of us to regain her bearings
  731. >Sombra, you sneaky bastard
  732. >You wonder if there are more of these secrets in your castle
  733. >”But how?”
  734. >”Over there Twilight”
  735. >Starlight points to a bookshelf with a single book still hanging in there thanks to a metal shaft holding it from falling
  736. >You make your way to said book and push it back, causing the fireplace to reassemble itself
  737. >So there was a lever in here all this time?
  738. >How come no one ever noticed this?
  739. >You’ve sent some maids here to clean this place
  740. >Just because it was once Sombra’s, doesn’t mean you’ll let it get dirty
  741. >Huh? What’s this written on the spine?
  742. “How to detect…”
  743. >!!!
  744. >Geldings!
  745. >”Princess, what was it?”
  746. >Oh snap, is your face that shocked?
  747. “Nothing, it was nothing!
  748. >You pull the book and open the passageway again
  749. >”Are you su-“
  750. “Absolutely, why don’t we see what’s up with the secret path, eh?”
  751. >You push the two purple ponies into the dark pathway
  752. >Their groans of protest do nothing to stop you from shoving them into the newly revealed doorway
  753. >Now you know why no one ever found out
  754. >Who’d even touch, let alone read, a book with a title like that?
  755. >Sombra was smarter than you gave him credit
  756. >”A staircase?”
  757. >You hear Twilight comment
  758. >Just like she said, there’s staircase spiraling upwards
  759. >No one is going up though
  760. >Not Twilight, not Starlight, not you
  761. >And for good reason
  762. >This IS a hidden passage in a room used by Sombra of all ponies
  763. >Who knows what kind of malevolent and downright sick stuff he had that needed to be hidden even from his own staff
  764. >But you can’t go back
  765. >If you do, the wonder duo over there will probably lose interest and want to go home again
  766. >So like the big mare you are
  767. >And obviously not feeling the least creeped out by the near pitch black, and old, evil looking spiraling staircase
  768. >Nope
  769. >Not at all
  770. >You take the lead and head up the stairs, careful to not tri-
  771. “Wah!”
  772. >And collide face first onto the floor, of course
  773. >Ow
  774. >Your ear swivels back when you hear chuckles
  775. >Glad to hear you two are enjoying yourselves
  776. >Maybe this will ease the atmosphere somewhat
  777. >You don’t to keep dealing with a pissed Twilight
  778. >Quickly pulling your face from the floor, you make haste
  779. >Don’t want to them seeing your embarrassed face
  780. >With the two purple-lights in tow
  781. >And no trips and falls this time
  782. >You lead the way up
  783. >The path is fairly lengthy, but soon enough you tree reach the end
  784. >Where a tall wooden door, with weird swirling designs engraved on the wood
  785. >And purple smoke seeping from underneath it
  786. >Not ominous at all
  787. >You gulp down a lump in your throat before pushing the door with your hoof
  788. >It’s stuck
  789. >Of course it would be stuck
  790. “Twilight, Starlight, a little help please?”
  791. >Be sure to be nice to them Cadance, you don’t want them to turn tail and leave
  792. >With all three pushing the door, it takes no time it to open
  793. >Not in the way you expected though
  794. “WAH!!”
  795. >The wood breaks under the pressure and you’re sent flying into the room’s floor
  796. >Ow, you didn’t expect the door to be that old
  797. >This day isn’t good for your health, that’s for sure
  798. >Huh, weird, you could swear you had opened your eyes
  799. >Wait, no… your eyes are open!
  800. >Oh sweet Auntie you’ve gone blind!
  801. >“Wow, is sure is dark in here”
  802. >…
  803. >You knew that
  804. >And in no time a small light source makes itself known
  805. >And it’s Starlight’s horn
  806. >Partially illuminating the now not so pitch black, but still very dark, room with weird purple fog on the floor
  807. >Ohhh, your spell doesn’t reach this place
  808. >You hope they don’t realize thi-
  809. >“Alright, looks like we can use magic again”
  810. >Damn you Twilight, you perceptive pony you
  811. >You hoped they’d not realize it since they basically use magic on instinct
  812. >”Now we can teleport out of here, Starlight”
  813. >Uh-oh
  814. >Think, Cadance thi-
  815. “What is this?”
  816. >No, really, what is this?
  817. >Now that your eyes are fully used to the lighting in this place
  818. >You can see the room looks like some sort of lab
  819. >There are bookshelves, tables containing multiple notes and chemistry equipment on them, glass vials and artifacts
  820. >The vials littering the shelves were either full with some weird, unknown contents, or empty
  821. >All having different sizes to accommodate for the different types of contents
  822. >You swear one of the things inside of these glass vials looked like a fetus and it sent chills down your spine
  823. >And not just vials, a multitude of different artifacts, all giving off an ominous vibe, like you were supposed to stay the hay away from them
  824. >Even the purple duo over there stopped trying to get away the moment their curiosity kicked in
  825. >One of the books is then encased in a purple glow and floats to Twilight, who immediately began to leaf through it
  826. >Of course it would be Twilight to be the first try them out, when it comes to knowledge she’ll eat up anything that can offer it to her
  827. >You watch as her face going from amazement, to terror, and then amazement again
  828. >Only for terror to set on her face once again
  829. >S-should you get worried?
  830. >She the picks more books and the notes on the table near the chemistry equipment, and quickly leaf through all of them
  831. >And her face only grows more and more terrified
  832. >“These books…”
  833. >The glow on the books dissipate, making them fall onto the floor unceremoniously
  834. >Oookay… there’s must be something going on, Twilight doesn’t treat books this carelessly
  835. >“They’re about…”
  836. >Her face has a strange mix of amazement and horror that you find hard to explain
  837. >Like whatever she read was both incredible and sickening at the same time
  838. >“… they’re about…”
  839. >In one go, her horn shines brightly and illuminates the entire room
  840. >Not so bright Twilight, are you trying blin-
  841. >And your words die right in your mind
  842. >Because in the end of the room is a transparent crystal with a Pony sealed inside of it, a small colt
  843. >That looks just like Sombra
  846. Part 5
  848. “What the fuck…”
  849. >At this point you don’t care about your tongue slips
  850. >The sentence of human origin is just too perfect not to use right now
  851. >Even your two purple friends agree by slightly nodding their heads, still in trance by the absurdity displayed in front of you all
  852. >It’s a small colt
  853. >That looks just like Sombra
  854. >Sealed inside a crystal
  855. >Locked away in a fucking secret lab
  856. “What the fuck is that!”
  857. >Shit, shit, shit!
  858. >What the hell is this, Sombra’s offspring!?
  859. >Supposed to be Sombra 2.0 after adulthood and rule the kingdom with an even bigger iron hoof!?
  860. >Or is it a clone meant to take Sombra’s place after he died so he could continue ruling just like Sombra did!?
  861. >Seems like your yell pulled the two geniuses out of their funk because their faces now went from bewilderment to horrified faster than the speed of light
  862. >Twilight is shaking her head in disbelief like a spaz while Starlight is freaking out
  863. >“Is that Sombra? He’s still alive? I.. how-what!?”
  864. “Twilight, explain!?”
  865. >C’mon Twilight, pick that jaw from the floor and answer the question
  866. >You don’t wanna have to deal with this fu- damn prick again
  867. >”I-I don’t know…”
  868. >Oh geez
  869. >Oh man
  870. >This can’t be happening
  871. “Didn’t you just read a bunch of books and notes!?”
  872. >”I-I did, but I don’t know if this is the actual Sombra or… “
  873. >Or what?
  874. >Don’t you dare stop now Twilight, spit it ou
  875. “WHAT IS IT?!”
  876. >You like to think you have every right to raise your voice
  877. >After all, it was you and your husband who had to deal with Sombra’s ass before Twilight showed up
  878. >So you don’t give a damn that she flinched back over being yelled at, you want answers
  879. “Well?!”
  880. >”I… t-those books and notes were dark arts, and were about the ins and outs of creating…”
  881. >Why’d you stop Twilight?
  882. >“Creating…”
  883. >That’s a pretty big gulp you took Twilight
  884. >”C-creating artificial bodies”
  885. >….
  886. >Oh fuck, you don’t say
  887. >“A-according to these notes, Sombra knew he was no immortal like Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, and that his time would eventually come, so he researched ways to keep himself alive for centuries, maybe even millenniums, and this is what he found..”
  888. >This what?
  889. >Say it Twilight, what was it?
  890. >“These books, they’re books on Dark Arts and Magic, more specifically about how to create an artificial blank slate body, and methods on transferring his soul into another vessel”
  891. >Hot damn
  892. >You knew Sombra had a few loose screws in his head
  893. >But now Twilight just confirmed he was one sick fu-
  894. >!!!
  895. >Wait a moment
  896. >Did she just say…
  897. “So there IS a way to get Daybreaker out of Aun-“
  898. >”Shut up, Cadance”
  899. >Shut up now
  900. >”As I was saying, he was creating an artificial body so that he could transfer his soul to it once he got too old, and repeat the process infinitely throughout the centuries, and, in a way, achieving eternal life”
  901. >That’s… that’s a pretty scary thought actually
  902. >Just imagining what would happen if any random pony with not so noble intentions got their hoofs on this knowledge makes your skin crawl
  903. >Basically anypony can live forever using this method
  904. “Is there more to it, Twilight?”
  905. >”Well, the rest are the specifics on how the artificial body works, and how it has to be maintained”
  906. “Well, don’t leave us hanging, go on”
  907. >Twilight gives you a dirty look
  908. >She knows you’re only asking because this might be the answer you three were looking for downstairs
  909. >But she concedes and starts talking anyway
  910. >You wonder why she’d do it instead of outright refusing this time
  911. >She was ready to jump ship with Starlight not even ten minutes ago
  912. >“Anyway, the artificial body can have a soul transferred to it anytime. If the body is still blank when the transfer happens, it will start to mutate into the appearance of the soul’s original body appearance, and will fully transform in a month.
  913. >”Which means, if Sombra transferred his soul to the blank body, it eventually would look like his normal self?”
  914. >”Exactly, Starlight”  
  915. >Hmmm
  916. >So it would take a month for the body to turn into Daybreaker after the soul transfer
  917. >Wait a minute
  918. >Does Daybreaker even have a soul?
  919. >You know she’s an entity that lives inside Auntie Celestia, but does she have a soul also?
  920. >Shit
  921. >You might need to dig deeper into this
  922. >But for the time being, you keep on listening to Twilight
  923. >”So would that mean he wouldn’t have all of his powers as soon as he transferred bodies?”
  924. >Nice catch Starlight
  925. >This could come in handy, if Daybreaker can’t have full access to all her abilities, then that means you and Anon would have at least a month to get through her before she achieved her true form
  926. >”I assume that would be the case, Starlight, the notes do hint at it, but they don’t say if the user is completely incapable of using their abilities after the transfer”
  927. >Drat
  928. >“Either way, there’s one problem with this method, from notes I read, it looks like you can’t make a teenager, or adult body from the start, you have to make a foal, which means if one wants to have their soul transferred to the body of an adult pony, they’ll have to wait all the years it would take for the body to mature. And in order for the body to mature from a foal to an adult, it has to be constantly maintained and looked after, or else the body will die from lack of nourishment”
  929. >What?
  930. >Oh, don’t you make that smirk Twilight
  931. >So that’s why she explained it either way
  932. >You know what she’s thinking, and she’s mocking you
  933. >She knows how pointless it would be for you to make one of these artificial bodies for Daybreaker, only to have Anon wait fifteen to twenty years to get his match
  934. >Shit
  935. >“There’s another thing though, and I think this is important to share with you girls. In the notes Sombra wrote, it says that one can streamline the transferring process by injecting the young artificial body with their DNA, and with time the body will mutate into a body similar to the donor’s as it matures, so that by the time the transfer happens, the body will be fully functional from the start”
  936. >That sounds the kind of stuff Sombra would do
  937. >By the time he’s too old, the new body, already having his physical traits and possibly magical trace, will be ready as soon as the transfer ends, instead of having to wait for the mutations to occur
  938. >”However”
  939. >Twilight gulps a heavy lump in her throat
  940. >You don’t like the sounds of that
  941. >”If not looked after continuously  after the DNA injection, the artificial body might gain a soul and consciousness of its own, if a specific spell isn’t applied to the body at least… once a week”
  942. >You don’t like the sound of this
  943. >You don’t like the sound of this at all
  944. >Is Twilight actually, seriously telling you, that the foal sealed inside that crystal might be alive?
  945. >Like, actually alive, and not just ready for transfer alive?
  946. >A foal that’s the splitting image of Sombra?
  947. >You… you don’t even know how to react to this
  948. >What should you do?
  949. >You can’t just… do away with it, can you?
  950. >You mean, it’s just a foal, it probably doesn’t even know what, or what it is
  951. >It only so happens to look like Sombra, but you doubt it knows anything about his upbringing or who Sombra even was
  952. >Especially since it’s frozen in crystal
  953. >You bet that if you took him out of that crystal, all you’d get was a small colt that doesn’t know who he is, where he is, and even how to speak
  954. >But…
  955. >But it could also be a new Sombra in the making
  956. >What’s there to prevent it from growing into cold and ruthless like Sombra?
  957. >What is there to prevent it from becoming bitter at the world around like him?
  958. >And what is there to prevent him from gathering a small band of loyal cultist and stage a coup to try and overthrow you and the other princess?
  959. >You lightly bang your head on a nearby shelf, making some books fall to the floor
  960. >Oh Auntie, why is all of this so complicated?
  961. >…
  962. >!!!
  963. >That’s it
  964. >Auntie!
  965. >You should definitely tell Auntie about this
  966. >She’ll know what to do
  967. >She always knows what to do
  968. >Even if she leaves everything for Twilight to handle
  969. >You just hope she still isn’t pissed at you, or anything
  970. >“…ou think Cadance?”
  971. “I-wha-“
  972. >You shake your head
  973. >Were they talking to you?”
  974. >Were you so focused on your thoughts?
  975. >”I said, what do you think Cadance?”
  976. “About what?”
  977. >”About the colt in the Crystal, what do you think we should do?”
  978. “Well, what are your own thoughts on this? I want to know what you think before making my own thoughts known”
  979. >The two purple friends look at each other before shrugging and nodding
  980. >Starlight takes a step forward to meet your eyes
  981. >“I think we should get rid of it”
  982. >Wow, Starlight!
  983. >Sure, yeah it’s possibly a little Sombra in there
  984. >But it’s still just a colt, how can you think like that?
  985. >Oh yeah, former villain…
  986. >”And I think we should consult Princess Celestia about this”
  987. >Agree 100% percent with you, Twilight
  988. “I agree with Twilight on this, I think we should tell Auntie, she’ll probably know what to do with him”
  989. >Starlight doesn’t look too thrilled about the idea
  990. >But its two princesses opinions against her pleb opinions, what can she do about it?
  991. >”I think you two missed the part where you realize we could have a potential Sombra trying to ruin everything again?”
  992. >Apparently she can try to argue
  993. >Not the she’s wrong, but-
  994. >”Still, Starlight, we can’t condemn a foal for the sins of the father”
  995. >Took the words out of your mouth
  996. “Besides, that can’t be Sombra. We actually faced and defeated him, there was no time for him to transfer his soul … I think”
  997. >You tap your chin in wonder
  998. >Sure, it wasn’t THE Sombra in the flesh back then, but you’re pretty sure that if he had made the transfer there wouldn’t be any dangerous Sombra to worry about after the Cystal Empire reemerged, only a tiny little colt Sombra
  999. >”I guess…”
  1000. >Oh, Starlight, don’t be like that, not everypony gets what they want
  1001. >Just look at yours truly right here
  1002. >Trying to find a way to match what could be described by some as just an idea with a real person
  1003. >And success has yet to show its pretty face
  1004. “Alright, now that we decided what we’re going to do with the colt in the Crystal, is there any more information this whole soul transfer shebang?”
  1005. >You expect Twilight to go full lecture mode like she always does
  1006. >Instead she shakes her head
  1007. >Twilight, why are you doing that?
  1008. >”I can’t, the books and notes I read were only about the artificial body and how Sombra was making preparations to transfer his soul into one”
  1009. >Damn
  1010. >If you had fingers you’d snap them
  1011. >Humans and their superior forelimbs, how you envy them
  1012. >The things you could do if you had hands
  1013. “Well, I guess we should get to reading then”
  1014. >Encasing some books from the shelf in your magic, you pull a free table and chair, and dump them all on it
  1015. >You don’t hear hoofsteps of smart purple mares coming to assist you though
  1016. >What’s up with that?
  1017. “What are you staring at, aren’t you helping me?”
  1018. >Oh no, don’t you two look uncomfortable now
  1019. >”Well, we’re still not too keen on helping you after you… you know… threw the whole study on us”
  1020. >Oh
  1021. >You hiss through your teeth
  1022. >Yeah, you forgot about that
  1023. >”And we still wanna go home, we’re tired and hungry, and we don’t want to deal with any of this anymore”
  1024. >Starlight says with finality and does a 180º toward the door you three busted, not even waiting for Twilight
  1025. >C’mon girls, don’t do this!
  1026. “B-but why not?”
  1027. >You scramble out of your seat
  1028. >”Cadance, are you not seeing this?”
  1029. >Twilight waves her hoof toward the lab, and Starlight stops at the door to wait for her
  1030. >“Do you seriously want to read further into… this!”
  1031. >Yeah
  1032. >… kinda
  1033. >If it means finding a way to finally get Daybreaker and Anon together, then sure
  1034. >As long as it doesn’t involve having to create a foal and having to take care of its body for twenty years
  1035. >You already have Flurry Heart
  1036. >You don’t need another baby
  1037. >Even if this another baby is just a soulless husk ready to be possessed
  1038. >…
  1039. >That’s kinda fucked up
  1040. >You get why Twilight doesn’t want in on this, now
  1041. >But still
  1042. “Well, don’t you?”
  1043. >By now you know how Twilight ticks, and you know when to press her buttons
  1044. >And just like you expected, Twilight doesn’t know how to respond
  1045. >She now looks pretty conflicted, and for good reason
  1046. >This shit was made for her
  1047. >Dozens, if not hundreds of books and notes about old, forgotten dark magic, just ready to be accessed at any time?
  1048. >Yes it comes from a mad pony, but Twilight would be lying if the desire to dig deeper wasn’t there
  1049. >And it’s not like she lacks any self-control, or common sense, she knows when not to push her boundaries
  1050. >… sometimes
  1051. >Then again, it IS a lab made by Sombra to conduct experiments less than morally ideal
  1052. >You’re pretty sure creating a living body, yet keeping it soulless on purpose via magic spells is something that would get you to that hell place humans talk about real fast
  1053. >If Auntie Luna caught on to this she would blast this place to oblivion along with the entire castle section
  1054. “Please Twilight, I beg you, you’re the only one smart enough to help me with this”
  1055. >You bow your head all the way to the floor
  1056. >Ew
  1057. >Ew
  1058. >Ew
  1059. >The floor is all dusty and grimy
  1060. >And you’re pretty sure you don’t want any of the the ominous purple smoke getting into your system
  1061. >So make sure to keep that mouth and nostrils shut Cadance
  1062. >Being grossed out apart, you manage to keep your head down, wouldn’t look too convincing for Twilight if you pranced around in disgust
  1063. >“Hey, what about me?”
  1064. >Oh yeah, there’s Starlight
  1065. >She’s pretty smart too
  1066. “Uhh… you too, Starlight”
  1067. >You can hear a huff, but you can’t see any Starlight
  1068. >Not that it matters, the only one who matters is Twilight
  1069. >“But… why me?”
  1070. >You take your head off the floor to look at the one you foalsat when she was little
  1071. >“Why do you need my help so much? Can’t you do any of this research on your own?”
  1072. >Why she asks?
  1073. *sigh*
  1074. >Well, it’s obvious, at least for you
  1075. >You’re not exactly the cream of the crop when it comes to book smarts or magical prowess
  1076. >You’re an Alicorn, but that doesn’t mean you were automatically turned a prodigy when you became one
  1077. >It just downs on you that out of all the Princesses, you’re the most inept one
  1078. >Even Starlight, who’s just a unicorn, would completely overwhelm you in a magic duel
  1079. >Tartarus, even your little Flurry Heart already showed more potential than you ever did
  1080. >And she’s a foal for crying out loud
  1081. >It kinda makes you feel like some underachiever
  1082. >Like you had horseshoes to fill, and was given all the tools to not just fill it, but overflow it
  1083. >And you still managed to come out with fucking nothing
  1084. >Is this how humans feel?
  1085. >Gosh, no wonder they’re so desperate to start their lives over
  1086. “Twilight, I’m not a magical genius like you, I’m just a mare who’s special talent is spreading love and matching couples, I can’t do any of this stuff without messing up”
  1087. >Being honest is your best bet right now
  1088. >No way Twilight will take any of your lame excuses anymore
  1089. “Anything about science, or any level of magic higher than intermediary spells is too much for me to handle without something going horribly wrong thanks to my lack of skills”
  1090. “This is why I go through such lengths just to match a couple, because it’s the one thing I’m really good at, and if I fail, I feel like…”
  1091. >’I’m worthless’
  1092. >But you can’t bring yourself to say that out loud
  1093. >You don’t like the look Twilight has on her face either
  1094. >Kind of a mixture of pity and disbelief
  1095. >”Cadance… I didn’t know you felt like that”
  1096. >Probably can’t believe that the Alicorn in front of her isn’t a capable spell caster
  1097. >And at the same time is self-conscious about her high place in hierarchy despite the lack impressive feats
  1098. >But it’s the truth. You suck at high level magic unless your aunties are involved to assist you
  1099. >Twilight looks like she has something to say but you cut her right away
  1100. “And aren’t you the one who made me promise nothing bad would happen? Well, you’re my guarantee, because I know that with you helping me out, nothing, and I mean nothing, bad is going to happen”
  1101. >Twilight looks indecisive
  1102. >Even Starlight over the door looks pensive
  1103. >She’s thinking over your words, the both of them are
  1104. >C’mon Twilight, make the right choice
  1105. >Biting her lower lip, she looks back at Starlight, as if asking for advice, only to get a shrug instead
  1106. >Twilight then turns back and looks at you directly in the eyes, and you steel yours
  1107. >No point in telling her all that if you have doubt in your eyes
  1108. >And here it goes; she’s taking a deep breath
  1109. >“Alright”
  1110. >Yes!
  1111. >She gets to your face and taps your golden collar
  1112. >“But only one more chance, got it? Don’t blow this up!”
  1113. >Yes, absolutely!
  1114. >”Starlight”
  1115. >You can hear an audible sigh coming from near the door, and the sound of hoofsteps coming in your direction
  1116. >”If you want to go back to Ponyville, go ahead, I’ll stay with Cadance”
  1117. >”Oh! Uhh..”
  1118. >That stops Starlight right on her tracks
  1119. >And now she is the one who looks indecisive
  1120. >Don’t worry; you’re not the only one surprised at Twilight’s move
  1121. >Didn’t expect her to dismiss your other purple friend either
  1122. >“I… w-wow, really?”
  1123. >Only getting a nod in response, purple pony Nº2 looks over to the exit, and then at you two, before raising her hoof and rubbing the back of her head
  1124. >“W-well, I… uhh, I think I should stay too, with all the effort I put into this, I think I should at least see it to the end…”
  1125. >I can see that scrunched face Starlight
  1126. >You can’t fool anyopony
  1127. >Either way, that doesn’t matter
  1128. >What matters is that they’ll still willing help you after how you mistreated the two
  1129. >And you just can’t contain yourself
  1130. >”Eeep!!”
  1131. >You pull the purple duo with your magic and give them a hug
  1132. “Oh, thank you, thank you so much!”
  1133. >Starlight squirms in embarrassment, but you don’t care
  1134. >You’re too busy pulverizing their spines
  1135. “Yes we know, we love you too Cadence. [spoiler]A little bit less than a week ago, but still do[/spoiler]
  1136. >Don’ you worry, Anonymous
  1137. >Your wait is coming to an end, because you, Cadance, is one step closer to getting Daybreaker
  1138. >The thought makes you all giddy and you hold your two friends even tighter
  1139. >You muse about how great it is to have friends over your own friends pained grunts
  1142. Part 6
  1144. >”So, how do we do this?”
  1145. “We research, Starlight, just like how we were doing for the last four days”
  1146. >”Hooray…”
  1147. >If you’re gonna be this bitchy then you should’ve gone when Twilight told you to
  1148. >No one’s forcing you to stay this time
  1149. >Not that you were forcing them before, of course….
  1150. >Heh….
  1151. >Twilight accepted the deal; it was not like you had a knife to their throats or anything
  1152. >Ahem, getting sidetracked here
  1153. “I doubt the blank artificial body thing is the only way we have to rip Daybreaker out of Auntie, there must be other methods”
  1154. >Other less fucked methods too
  1155. >Anything that doesn’t involve creating a living body and keeping it soulless via magic spells
  1156. >Why was Sombra such an edgelord?
  1157. >Man, your vocabulary sure has grown after your scout mares started pulling men from their world
  1158. >Not for the better, but you like to think you’re a tiny bit more articulate with insults
  1159. >”Well, the notes left by Sombra are over a thousand years old, and the books seem to be even older, some dating from maybe five thousand years”
  1160. >”It wouldn’t be too farfetched to assume that the artificial body experiments were created way after the soul transferring spell, which means Cadance does a point”
  1161. >You do?
  1162. >You mean, yeah you do
  1163. >Of course you have a point
  1164. >”I mean, why would somepony even create a spell like that if they couldn’t cast it?”
  1165. >”But how do you know the date of these notes?”
  1166. >”Because any scientist worth their salt jots down the date of their experiments, Starlight”
  1167. >Did Twilight just praise Sombra?
  1168. >And she noticed it too, quickly babbling out an excuse
  1169. >”Oh, I-um…”
  1170. >Twilight hisses through her teeth
  1171. >”I don’t really like to admit it, but…”
  1172. >She just raises a hoof and waves it around the room
  1173. >Oh yeah
  1174. >This whole lab is definitely the work of somepony who knew exactly what they were doing
  1175. >Years and years of hard work and experimentation that led to the colt inside that crystal
  1176. >And you three were about to tear this place down
  1177. >Not literally of course
  1178. [spoiler]>You fucking wish it was, though[/spoiler]
  1179. >You did promise Twilight all of this would be hers once you’re finished
  1180. >But right now this place and everything in it is property of Mi Amore Cadenza
  1181. >And you’re gonna read all these books until your eyes bleed out
  1182. >There’s a mare that up until a week ago you didn’t even knew existed that needs her man
  1183. “Alright then, let’s do this”
  1184. >…
  1185. >By the maker, it’s being three days already!
  1186. >Oh dear Auntie, why have you forsaken your poor nephew?
  1187. >You just wanted to pair up two love deprived beings together
  1188. >It’s a noble cause, isn’t it?
  1189. >Sure, you made Auntie cry
  1190. >And bribed one of your best friend into helping you, and then treated her like a servant
  1191. >And is kinda dabbling into dark magic and morally detestable arts that’d make ponies question whether you should even be allowed to walk freely without psychological supervision
  1192. >But it’s still a noble cause nonetheless
  1193. >However, the world’s apparently conspiring against your love crusade
  1194. >As if telling you that what you’re doing is a bad idea and you stop
  1195. >Pish-Posh world, you won’t stop
  1196. >Who does it take you for, a loser?
  1197. >You’re the only one allowed to call yourself a loser
  1198. >To the rest of the world you’re gonna be a winner
  1199. >Yeah, Daybreaker is a villain, so what?
  1200. >You’ve seen mares who were condemned for heinous crimes like murder, slavery, torture, and whatnot turn a new leaf after meeting a man
  1201. >And she will be no different
  1202. >You’re not giving up
  1203. >You’re finding a way to get those two together no matter what
  1204. >Even if it means freezing Anonymous
  1205. >Even if it takes the rest of your eternal life
  1206. >You. Will. Match. Th-
  1207. >”I found it!”
  1209. >”Oh my Celestia, it actually exists!?”
  1211. >”Yes, I can’t believe it either, Cadance was actually right for once”
  1213. >“Cadance, shut up!”
  1214. “-EEEEEEEEEEEEE-!!“
  1215. >You clamp your mouth shut
  1216. >Oh, jeez, did you scream out loud?
  1217. >Now that’s embarrassing
  1218. >But you don’t give a damn because Twilight has found it
  1219. >Hot damn, you can’t even control your legs and keep yourself from prancing in place like a complete dork
  1220. >Because you don’t give a damn, Twilight has fucking found it
  1221. “What are you waiting for?”
  1222. >You go sonic fast and zip across the room to Twilight’s now uncomfortable face
  1223.  “C’mon, tell us what it says”
  1224. >She pushes my face back with her hoof
  1225. >”Easy there”
  1226. >She says, floating the book up to the wooden table and motioning you and Starlight to follow
  1227. >”I’m not one hundred percent sure this is what you are looking for, but so far the contents have matched with you specifics, find a way to take Daybreaker out of Princess Celestia, and give her another body that isn’t an artificial one”
  1228. >She pulls three chairs with her magic and you three sit down on them to read the book with Twilight
  1229. >Soul Power, huh? Fitting name for a book that deals with soul transferring shenanigans
  1230. >”Okay, so here’s what it says”
  1231. >”The art of transferring a soul from one body to another was created by the cult of the Ever Living, a cult of ponies who venerated the Princesses of the Sun and Moon for their eternal life, who all wished to attain the same divine gift of living till the ends of time”
  1232. >Jeez, what a bunch of sad little ponies
  1233. >Eternal life isn’t as great, guys
  1234. >It sounds great on paper, but then you realize that you’ll outlive nearly everypony that you love
  1235. >Like how you’ll outlive Shiiiiiiii-
  1236. >-it
  1237. >You better stop before you get depressed
  1238. >“So, in order to reach their dreams of an ever living lifespan, they studied and researched for years. Discoveries were passed on for the next generations, who went on to expand upon them, and come closer to unveiling the secret to eternal life. And centuries later, they developed the method that would give them, not an immortal body, but an immortal presence. They developed a ritual that that allowed them to transfer their beings into another body, Pony or otherwise”
  1239. >Ohhh, you’re getting so close to your answer you can taste it
  1240. >You don’t really get what they meant by presence, but you can almost taste victory
  1241. >And it tastes like ominous atmosphere and-
  1242. >Oh wait, you’re breathing through your mouth
  1243. “What else does it say, Twilight?”
  1244. >You mush your cheek against your purple friend’s face
  1245. >You wanna take a look at the book too, not just listen to Twiggles
  1246. >“Be patience Cadance”
  1247. >She takes another gander at the book, humming while doing so
  1248. >”Okay, so the presence part doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, and it doesn’t explain it in full detail so far, but I assume it means it doesn’t necessarily transfer souls, but more like, you yourself, as a pony, as an entity, into another body”
  1249. >Oh, you get it
  1250. >Kinda
  1251. >More than you did before, that’s for sure
  1252. >“Alright then, let’s continue”
  1253. >She clears her throat
  1254. “There are a total of two key items required for the ritual to be executed. First and foremost, a Soul Stone is needed”
  1255. >A Soul Stone?
  1256. >For a ritual that isn’t ‘necessarily about transferring souls’ as Twilight put it, it sure has a lot of soul in the names, huh?
  1257. >Soul Power
  1258. >Soul Stone
  1259. >What? Next, you’re gonna tell moi that the name of the ritual is actually called Soul Transfer?
  1260. >Let’s see, let’s see
  1261. >…   
  1262. >It’s Soul Transfusion
  1263. >You almost got it
  1264. >There’s an unhealthy amount of uncreative names here
  1265. >”The Soul Stone is a magical artifact that can only be found in the depths of the Well of Spirits, a well that houses the souls of all the ponies and creatures that… *gulp* perished while imprisoned in Tartarus, waiting for redemption”
  1266. >… you’re not really liking the way this is going
  1267. >”A Soul Stone is made when a soul residing in the Well of Spirits starts to harden once the soul finally accepts there’s no redemption to be had, turning into a solid rough gem. The rough gem then must be taken to a lapidary, to cut and polish the gem into a proper Soul Stone”
  1268. >Along with this fucking depressing description, there’s a hoof drawn picture of a Soul Stone in its rough and lapidated state.
  1269. >The rough gem is a long, wavy and wispy piece of rock, almost like a trail of smoke that took a solid form
  1270. >While the Soul Stone is an oval gem
  1271. >You’d say it’s a very beautiful looking gem
  1272. >If it didn’t have an Aunty damn pony’s skull swirling inside of it
  1273. >Seriously, that shit looks terrifying
  1274. >You’re sure the humans would find it super cool, though
  1275. “Oookay… what else does it say, Twilight?”
  1276. >”The second key item is…”
  1277. >What, the second key item is what?
  1278. >”T-the second key item is…”
  1279. >Uh-oh, you don’t like sound of Twi’s voice
  1280. >Guess you better read for it yourself then
  1281. >Hmm, need a vessel for the soul/entity to be sealed, ‘kay
  1282. >But not just any vessel, alright
  1283. >To complete the ritual it is needed the body of a pony on the-
  1284. >Oh fuck!
  1285. >“The second key item needed for the ritual is a vessel. But not just any vessel, to complete the ritual it is needed the body of a Pony who is in the verge of death…”
  1286. >Thank you for picking up the slack Starlight, you’re not so sure you wanted to hear it though
  1287. >A pony on the verge of death? This is fucked up; the ponies who made this ritual were fucked in the head
  1288. >They’re like Sombra before Sombra was even a thing
  1289. >Tartarus, if anything Sombra might’ve even been part of this insane cult at one point
  1290. >Would explain this hidden lab
  1291. “Does it explain why it needs… that?”
  1292. >You ask Twilight, but she doesn’t respond
  1293. >She’s completely out there
  1294. >Not even poking seem to bring the mare out of her funk
  1295. >”I… think it does”
  1296. >Starlight said, pulling the book over to her with magic
  1297. >Seems like she decided to pick up after Twilight indefinitely, who’s just sitting there, still processing what she just read
  1298. >Starlight’s taking this pretty well, all things considered
  1299. >You’d think that she would be at least half as shocked as Twilight, but nope
  1300. >Oh yeah, you forgot
  1301. >Former villain
  1302. >“It says here that in order to complete the ritual, a near dead body with an extremely low survival rate is needed because it is at this point where the body’s spiritual defenses, the book’s saying, not mine, are at its lowest, and the pony’s soul is at its weakest, allowing for the entry of another presence, or soul, or whatever you call it, without resistance or immediate rejection”
  1303. >Okay, alright….
  1304. >So, it doesn’t sound AS bad as you thought it was
  1305. “A-and why is that?”
  1306. >You ask out of morbid curiosity
  1307. >”It says here that a dead vessel becomes completely sealed from outside spiritual and soul manipulation, including the Soul Transfusion ritual. If I were to assume, I’s say it’s probably due to there being no soul, along with its bodily functions ceasing to work. It would explain why the Artificial Body had to be kept alive via magic spells and nourishment up until the ritual. If its body stopped working then another one would have to be made from scratch”
  1308. >That makes sense, you guess
  1309. >It’s a dead body; it shouldn’t suddenly start working again just because there’s a new soul in it
  1310. >Why are you thinking about dead bodies so fucking casually?
  1311. “I-is it possible to perform the ritual on a completely healthy vessel?”
  1312. >What are you thinking Cadance?
  1313. >You better stop Cadance
  1314. >“… yes, but there’s a catch, if the Soul Transfusion is done on a very much alive Pony, all you would get is this Pony, but with a soul sealed inside its body. There’s also the chance of an immediate rejection, with the transferring soul being stuck in the living plane until it dissipates”
  1315. “And what would happen next?”
  1316. >“Depending on who it was, and how it acted on its original body, it might manifest itself during big emotional moments, be them anger, distress, sadness, happiness. But always temporarily, it’ll never become the dominant presence in the body”
  1317. >You gulp
  1318. “And can you explain again why we need a near dead pony?”
  1319. >Starlight raises an eyebrow and looks at you funny
  1320. >You don’t like the way she’s looking at you right now
  1321. >“Yes… we need mare on the verge of death because the soul of a dying pony and its body’s spiritual defenses are at its lowest, and are too weak to resist being overpowered by the transferred soul, or entity”
  1322. “And what happens when you perform the ritual on a near dead pony?”
  1323. >Aren’t you getting a little too curious here Cadance?
  1324. >Why don’t you just stop already?
  1325. >You should’ve done that back when you discovered this damn lab
  1326. >But here you are, digging the hole deeper
  1327. >”The transferring soul snuffs the vessel’s soul out of existence, effectively killing the body’s original owner, while the new soul takes over”
  1328. >*gulp*
  1329. “A-and what happens next?”
  1330. >Damn it Cadance, what the fuck are you saying?!
  1331. >“Next you need to heal the body, the ritual won’t stop the body from dying, so a team of extremely qualified spell-casters and medics on call are needed to perform any emergency procedure, it really depends on the body’s state on the time of the ritual.”
  1332. “Is that all?”
  1333. >”No, if the ritual succeeds, the body will mutate to have the appearance and body structure of the transferred soul in due time, just like with the artificial body. But that’s not all there is to it. The book also says in the chapter’s summary that the chances of the ritual succeeding are low, very, very low. And if the ritual fails, whatever you tried to transfer will roam the world as a spirit until it dissipates into nothingness”
  1334. “I-into nothingness as in-
  1335. >”As in, it will cease to exist, forever, not even the soul of an immortal pony can survive roaming the living plane without a body, and not even reincarnation becomes available for this soul, it’ll just be erased, same happens to the soul that dies out after successful ritual”
  1336. >By the maker, this is just…
  1337. >Do you even want to go through?
  1338. >Are you really willing to proceed with this ritual?
  1339. >It is all so…   
  1340. >>Yes, yes you want, Anon is counting on you remember?
  1341. >Wha- Yes, but… this wrong
  1342. >>And leaving Daybreaker trapped inside of Auntie forever, not ever knowing what it feels to be loved, isn’t wrong as well?
  1343. >Yeah, bu-
  1344. >>But what? What’s the issue in taking the body of a Pony who’s already dying anyway? It’s not like she’ll ever survive if what the ritual asks for is anything to go by. If anything the pony and her family would feel honored that her body can become the vessel of a new princess
  1345. >But what about the success ra-
  1346. >>This is an Alicorn we’re talking about, heightened senses and bodily functions, remember? Faster healing factor will definitely kick in and bump the success rate considerably. There’s absolutely no chance of her dying on us, or the ritual ever failing, especially when you have Twilight and Starlight to perform it for you
  1347. >>Besides, since it would take time for the vessel to fully mutate into Daybreaker’s body, and for her powers to fully develop, and in the meantime, Anon could convince her not to kill everybody before her powers come back
  1348. >Y-yes, you’re right…
  1349. >>No Cadance YOU are right
  1350. >Yes
  1351. >I am right
  1352.  “S-so all we need is a Soul Stone and a near dead pony? Doesn’t seem so hard”
  1353. >Pick that jaw from the floor, Starlight
  1354. >You don’t know how many germs there are in this filthy lab
  1355. >And a little to her side, Twilight still looks out there; you swear you saw one of her ears swivel in your direction though
  1356. >”I-you- what was that?”
  1357. >The second purple genius shakes her head, clearly confused by your choice of words
  1358. “I said that finding a Soul Stone and a near dead pony sounds simple enough”
  1359. >You jump off the chair and stretch your limbs, using your magic to float the book next to you and look for the picture of the Soul Stone in its rough and lapidated states
  1360. >The polished Soul Gem still looks super creepy, and you bet it’ll creep you out no matter how many times you stare at the picture
  1361. >Starlight looks at you like she saw a serial killer just murder one of her friends right in front of her face
  1362. >”Y-you’re actually going to through with this?”
  1363. “Yes, I am”
  1364. >“E-even after all… THIS!?”
  1365. >She waves her forelegs around, motioning for the entire lab surrounding you two plus the shell shocked Twilight
  1366. “Absolutely-”
  1367. >“ not…”
  1368.  >Something interrupts you
  1369.  “What?”
  1370. >Not?
  1371. >Who said tha-
  1372. >Oh, Twilight is finally getting out of her funk
  1373. >“Absolutely not”
  1374. >The low tone she used to speak immediately gives you red flags
  1375. >Twilight turns her eyes in your direction, and boy, does she look angry
  1376. >”Cadance, I’m not allowing you to continue this madness”
  1377. >She jumps off her own chair and trots
  1378. >No, scratch that
  1379. >Stomps her way up to you
  1380. >All the while glaring in her direction
  1381. >“Can’t you see this isn’t right?”
  1382. >Yeah, you can
  1383. >But what else can you do? You’ve searched and researched, and this is the only way you have found to match Anon and Daybreaker
  1384. >It’s not like a solution to your problem is gonna drop from the sky right into your lap
  1385. >This is the only choice you have, either go through with the ritual, or give up
  1386. >And you’re not giving up
  1387. “I can, but this is also the only way”
  1388. >Twilight’s glare intensifies as she leans forward on the tip of her fore hooves and stares into your eyes
  1389. >”Then don’t”
  1390. >Don’t?
  1391. >As in, don’t do it? Give up?
  1392. “Twilight, I can’t just giv-“
  1393. >”Yes you can!”
  1394. >She nearly screams in your face, at this point she’s pushing you back with her forehead, your horns crisscrossing as she does
  1395. >But you can’t let her push you around, and you stop her charge, trying to push her back also
  1396. >Geez, she’s got a hard head
  1397. “Twilight, you have to understand I’m doing this for the happiness of Anon and Daybreaker”
  1398. >”And I’m telling you this has to stop, I’m not siding with you anymore Cadance, and not I’m letting you continue with this inpony ritual!”
  1399. >Twilight’s getting angrier and angrier
  1400. >And the angrier she gets, the more nervous YOU get
  1401. >You’ve never seen her like this before, and it’s making you uncomfortable
  1402. >Twilight should never have this expression of anger on her face
  1403. >Maybe a little miffed, but not straight up mad
  1404. >You’re starting to have second thoughts about this
  1405. >No, stop that
  1406. >Don’t doubt yourself, this is for Anon and Daybreaker, keep that in mind
  1407. “Is it really that bad, to get a dying Pony to perform the ritual?”
  1408. >Twilight looks at you like you just grew a second head
  1409. >That kind of sounded better in your mind
  1410. >”Yes, yes it is Cadance, what in Tartarus are you saying?”
  1411. “But if she’s dying already, wouldn’t we be giving her body, like, a second chance?”
  1412. >She finally lets off the pushing and takes a few shaky steps back
  1413. >Her face slowly morphing from anger to a horrified glare
  1414. >Behind her, Starlight looks just as horrified, with a drop of confusion in there too
  1415. >”Even if that’s true, you’re still willing to kill an innocent pony that can still survive and live a full life”
  1416. >K-kill an innocent pony?
  1417. >Are you really willing to kill a civilian?
  1418. >You thought that since the pony in question couldn’t possibly survive, it wouldn’t be an issue
  1419. >But if she can survive, you’d just be taking away her second chance
  1420. >Y-you can’t just give up though, you have to think of something else
  1421. >Think Cadance, think
  1422.  “T-then why don’t we get an elderly mare on her last legs, I-I mean, it’s not like she’ll have much lo-“
  1424. >The entire room shakes from Twilight’s Royal Canterlot Voice, with the glass vials and containers exploding and spilling their gooey contents all over the place
  1425. >Even the crystal holding the colt cracked under the pressure of her yell
  1426. >She doesn’t look angry anymore
  1427. >Twilight looks absolutely pissed
  1428. >Why do you feel your foreleg moving on its own?
  1429. >Looking down, you see that it isn’t just moving, it’s shaking
  1430. >Your whole body is shaking, actually
  1431. >Snapping your eyes toward Twilight gets you an immediate step back
  1432. >A-are you afraid… of Twilight?
  1433. >!
  1434. >T-twilight!
  1435. >You yelp as she picks you up with her magic and slams you against the bookshelf
  1436. >With a ton of force
  1437. >The impact leaves you out of air as the old wooden planks break apart and the books rain down around you
  1438. >You try to move only to realize that you’re still under Twilight’s magical grip, being pressed forcefully against the broken shelf
  1439. >S-scratch that, she looks downright livid
  1440. >”Oh my Celestia, Twilight, what are you doing?!”
  1441. >Starlight’s shocked yell falls on deaf ears, for Twilight only has eyes for you, and those eyes scream rage
  1442. >“Just take a moment and try to listen to the… the… INSANITY YOU’RE SPOUTING!”
  1443. >“You’re talking about taking somepony’s life, forever, even in afterlife, like it’s nothing but a chore!”
  1444. >She pushes you even further into the broken wooden structure, the sharp broken remains of the shelves painfully jabbing your soft back skin
  1445. >”And disrespecting that pony’s family by putting the body through a black magic ritual, and refusing to give them the chance to make a proper funeral”
  1446. “T-twi” you manage to let out as a gasp of air
  1447. >”All so you can give one guy. ONE. SINGLE. PERSON. A fucking mare to date? One that’s a threat to all of Equestria, at that?!”
  1448. >You gasp as the wood pierces your back and draws blood, but Twilight’s pressure don’t give you enough air to scream
  1449. “T-twilight, stop…”
  1450. >You can feel the corner of your eyes water in both pain and fear
  1451. >This isn’t Twilight; she never acted this way before
  1452. >”Cadance, no! I am not letting you follow through with this! This is so wrong on so many ways; I can’t even name them all!”
  1453. >”And if you’re still willing to go through with his, then I’ll have to stop you, even If by force!”
  1454. “Twilight, please, you’re hurting me…”
  1455. >You manage form a full sentence, and that looks to be enough to get Twilight off of you
  1456. >She drops you flat on the floor unceremoniously
  1457. >And you cough and gasp for air, while using your own magic to pull the piece of wood that pierced you in the back
  1458. >Thankfully, it was a small piece of wood
  1459. >…
  1460. >While you try to stabilize your breathing, you feel them
  1461. >You feel her eyes glaring holes on the back of your skull
  1462. >You dare not raise your head and face those livid purple orbs once more
  1463. >Preferring to keep your vision completely focused on the dirty, grimy floor for now
  1464. >You dare not even raise yourself, only leaning on your forelegs, still trying to catch your breath
  1465. >”So, what is it going to be, Cadance, will you stop? Or do I have to fight you?”
  1466. >Your breath hitches in your throat, and your eyes widen in shock
  1467. >Fight?
  1468. >F-fight you?
  1469. >Oh dear Faust, i-is this how far you have gone?
  1470. >So deep into this whole mess that Twilight is willing to fight you?
  1471. >You slowly look up to meet up with Twilight’s face
  1472. >And you see it, you see it, and you don’t
  1473. >You see there’s small shred of remorse on Twilight’s cold, hardened face, in the form of small tears on the corner of her eyes
  1474. >She’s not sorry about hurting you, but you can see she doesn’t want to do this either
  1475. >However, you don’t see any signs of her backing down
  1476. >Twilight knows what she said and she’ll follow through if you step out of line
  1477. >Step out of the line…
  1478. >Oh Faust, what were you thinking?
  1479. >Were you really planning on taking somepony’s life just to carry out your promise?
  1480. >Looking at her in the eyes is impossible
  1481. >The shame doesn’t let you
  1482. >S-so this is it…
  1483. >The end of the line
  1484. >All that hard work for naught
  1485. >You wished Twilight was wrong
  1486. >Oh, how you wished she was wrong
  1487. >And that you were right
  1488. >That this whole thing wasn’t as morbid and wrong as it is
  1489. >That it was just a simple task
  1490. >But she’s right, she’s always right
  1491. >You can’t do this
  1492. >… Anonymous…
  1493. >How are you even going to explain this to Anon?
  1494. >You promised you’d get him to meet his match
  1495. >You promised yourself that you wouldn’t let him down… but you can’t fulfill it, this is just too much
  1496. “I… I’m sorry Twilight…”
  1497. >You can feel hot, wet trails running down your cheeks
  1498. ”I just…”
  1499. >You must look like a wreck right now
  1500. >All the buildup tension, and stress, and fear of failure that you held back during the last week tears through your emotional barrier
  1501. >Your body rocks as you can’t hold back your sobs anymore
  1502. “I’m sorry Twilight… I’m sorry Anonymous…”
  1503. >Flinching when a pair of hooves suddenly cradles your head
  1504. >You look up to see Twilight’s visage of anger gone, replaced by the shedding of her own tears
  1505. >Pulling you close, she holds your quaking figure against her chest, and all you can do is throw your forelegs around her and hold her tight
  1506. >Bury your face on her chest and cry
  1509. Part 7
  1511. >You knock on the ornate crystal doors to your friend’s bedroom
  1512. “Cadance?”
  1513. >Pressing your ears against the door, you try to listen to any sound coming from inside the room
  1514. >But alas, all you get is cold silence
  1515. “Please, talk to me”
  1516. >…
  1517. >Still nothing
  1518. >You sigh loudly as you step away from door
  1519. >Be Twilight Sparkle
  1520. >Princess of Friendship
  1521. >You don’t feel very deserving of said title though
  1522. >Three days ago you confronted one of your best and oldest friends over her increasing obsession over matching the human Anonymous and Princess Celestia’s evil half, Daybreaker
  1523. >At first, while a bit skeptical, who wouldn’t be, she wanted to release an evil potentially even worse than Nightmare Moon, all so she could date a human
  1524. >But nonetheless, you agreed to help her find a way to separate the Princess from the evil within her after Cadance promised to give you all the books and scrolls left behind by Sombra
  1525. >You’re a bit ashamed to admit it, but after she offered them you jumped at the opportunity
  1526. >It’s not every day that you gain access to ancient magic and historical records, even if they do come from a dubious source
  1527. >However, after days of researching, and finding some very unpleasant things along the way, you were starting to have second thoughts about it alongside Starlight
  1528. >But Cadance wasn’t, she was dead set in finding a way, anyway, to bring Anonymous and Daybreaker together
  1529. >Inside that lab, you were still optimistic enough to think that you could find a way to help Cadance without resorting to something so extreme, but that wasn’t the case
  1530. >The tipping point for you, however, was when you heard Cadance so casually dismissing taking the life of another pony so she could perform the ritual
  1531. >That was just too much for you
  1532. >You just snapped
  1533. >You knew right then and there that if you didn’t knock some sense into her head, Cadance would only continue to spiral downwards until a disaster happened
  1534. >And the way she would try to make excuses only continued to set you off even more
  1535. >You don’t think you have ever being that angry at someone before
  1536. >You didn’t want to do it, hurting your friends is the last thing you’ll ever want to do
  1537. >But you don’t regret hurting Cadance, she was way past the line of what is acceptable, and you needed to push her back, even if had to do it by force, else she’d just keep going
  1538. >After your little scuffle, Cadance realized what she was about to do and broke down right in front of you
  1539. >Which in turn nearly broke your heart as you tried to comfort her
  1540. >And it all leads to this
  1541. >Cadance isolating herself in her bedroom all day for the last three days
  1542. >You’ve never seen her so… devastated before
  1543. >Even when she was a prisoner at her own wedding, she didn’t look this dejected
  1544. >She doesn’t talk to anypony, not even Shining; she only stays in her room doing nothing
  1545. >She doesn’t even come out to check on Flurry Heart, leaving all the responsibility of taking care of her foal to the castle’s maids, and sometimes you
  1546. >You don’t approve of this attitude, but considering Cadance’s current state of mind, it might be for the best
  1547. >Else she ends up doing something she’ll regret because she wasn’t paying attention
  1548. >Every few hours or so you come to try and talk to her, but she never responds back
  1549. >This time it will be different though
  1550. >With a flick of your magic, you unlock the door and delicately open it, stepping into the dark room
  1551. >Every window curtains have being closed, painting the room in a black color, where the only light source comes from the door you have just opened
  1552. >And if it wasn’t for said light shaft, you wouldn’t see a thing in now the barely lit room
  1553. >And most importantly, you wouldn’t see Cadance’s bed, where a lump can be seen hidden under the blankets
  1554. >You trot up to the side of the bed to see Cadance’s head poking out the covers, lying softly on her pillow and staring at the covered window
  1555. “Cadance…”
  1556. >You call her out with a whisper, stepping up in front of her
  1557. >She looks up to you and…
  1558. >Oh dear
  1559. >You don’t like how depressed those eyes look
  1560. >There’s not a drop of passion in them
  1561. “Cadance, please, just talk to me”
  1562. >She looks at you for seconds that feel like minutes, before turning around without saying anything
  1563. >Another sigh escape your lips as you try to think what to say next
  1564. “Look… I know how important the whole thing is for you”
  1565. “I get it, it’s your talent, and your responsibility as the Princess of Love, I’m the Princess of Friendship, and I too feel the same way you do when things doesn’t work out regarding friendship”
  1566. “The feeling of failure, like no matter how hard you try it just doesn’t work out in the end, because sometimes it isn’t meant to, no matter how much we want to”
  1567. >You lean forward over the bed’s edge and nuzzle the back of your friend’s head
  1568. >Her once soft and silky locks were now frazzled and filthy
  1569. >She’s even been neglecting herself, which only makes you feel worse
  1570. “But you can’t just stay here forever, hiding yourself from the rest of the world, waiting for things to solve themselves”
  1571. “Everypony is worried about you, Shining, the castle’s staff, even little Flurry Heart misses your loving touch, all because you refuse to leave the room and face your problem”
  1572. “I know it’s painful, but you have to move on, to accept that just this once… things aren’t meant to be”
  1573. >Her body rocks slightly as you hear her sobs
  1574. >Oh dear, you didn’t mean to make her cry
  1575. >But you can’t stop now, Cadance needs to hear this, she can’t just keep isolating herself
  1576.  “And you should start by telling Anonymous the truth, it’ll hurt him, and it’ll hurt you, but I’m sure he’ll understand if you explain it to him”
  1577. >You pull yourself from your friend and wait for an answer
  1578. >Something
  1579. >Anything…
  1580. >… please…
  1581. >But all she does instead is use her magic to pull her blanket over her head, covering all of her body from head to hoof
  1582. >You let another sigh escape your lips
  1583. >Not saying anything, you just back up from the bed and make your way out of the room, closing the door on your way out
  1584. >This time it wasn’t different
  1585. >Cadance looks deadest on cocooning herself in the dark and ignore everything and everypony that tries to interact with her
  1586. >You could make a sarcastic remark about how mature she was being, shutting herself in like a filly
  1587. >But you’re too upset about the whole thing to care
  1588. >No more upset than she is, that’s for certain
  1589. >Without realizing, you have already arrived at your intended destination, the bedroom you’re sharing with Starlight and Spike
  1590. >Despite telling them they were free to go back to Ponville, the both of them still decided to stay behind for you
  1591. >The thought brings a small smile to your face as you open the doors and enter your temporary chambers
  1592. >The clicking sound of the the doors opening were enough to pull Starlight and Spike out of whatever they were doing, both look your way, but only Starlight walk up to you
  1593. >“So, how did it go?” Starlight asks
  1594. >You sigh for what feels like the billionth time today, and shake your head negatively
  1595. >”Then why were you smiling just now?”
  1596. >Were you?
  1597. >Oh, Starlight must’ve seen you smiling when you entered the room
  1598. “I was smiling about something else unrelated to Cadance”
  1599. >“So Cadance is still down on the dumps, huh? That sucks”
  1600. >Spike speaks out loud from his spot in the room, lying on his bed, reading one of those weird black and white comics some humans brought with them
  1601. >Mangos? Manges?
  1602. >You tried reading one, but it wasn’t to your tastes, and reading from right to left was a bit jarring
  1603. >Honestly, you don’t know what Spike and Fluttershy find so fascinating about them
  1604. >Maybe one day you’ll find one that’s actually good, and find the answer to that
  1605. >You actually frown at Spikes poorly worded phrase, but you have to remember he doesn’t know what happened. Only that Cadance is sad for some reason
  1606. >”If she doesn’t even want to talk, then what should we do?”
  1607. “I don’t know, Starlight”
  1608. >Deciding to lay down for a bit too, you make a beeline for your bed
  1609. “Wait, or keep trying to get an answer out of her, maybe?”
  1610. >Getting onto the bed, you plop down on your side with a pomf
  1611. “We’re bound to get to her if we keep trying, but I think she’s just getting more upset with me”
  1612. >”And why would Cadance be upset with you?”
  1613. >Spike pulls down his menga and looks at you with an inquisitive eye
  1614. >Do you even tell him what’s going on?
  1615. >Maybe you should, you trust Spike not to spit everything out to Anonymous
  1616. “Well-“
  1617. >”Twilight accidentally delayed Cadance’s plan to match Anonymous, when she wanted it to happen as soon as possible” Starlight interrupts you
  1618. >“Oh, okay then” Spike brings his mangi up
  1619.  >”It’s not hard to believe Twilight screwing up like this once in a while” he commented out loud, flipping a page of his comic book
  1620. >That’s a bit rude
  1621. >You don’t screw THAT much
  1622. >… just sometimes
  1623. >Your bed shakes a bit under the weight of something climbing on it, shaking you out of your thoughts as you look up to see Starlight plopping herself down by your side
  1624. >”I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell anypony else about what’s actually going on”
  1625. >She whispers to in your ears
  1626. >”Imagine how Anonymous would react if somepony accidentally slips their tongue and tells him he can’t be matched, just like that?”
  1627. >You suck some air through your teeth
  1628. >Yes, that wouldn’t have the best of results, this is a matter that should be treaded lightly, can’t just have somepony slip up and spill the beans
  1629. >From what you’ve seen so far, Anonymous doesn’t sound like the type who would make a big deal out of it, but all it needs is the wrong way relaying the bad news to trigger some unpleasant reaction out of him
  1630. >”Which is why I think you should talk to him, I’m sure you can make him understand”
  1631. >You shake your head at Starlight’s suggestion
  1632. “I would, but I think Cadance needs explain everything to him by herself” you whisper back
  1633. “Not only because it is her responsibility, but because doing so means she’s finally accepting she can’t help Anonymous, and is ready to move on”
  1634. >Starlight nods in acknowledgement before climbing off your bed to go for her own
  1635. >Now all you have left to do is wait for dinner, with nothing in-between to keep your mind occupied from worrying about Cadance
  1636. >You could go back to Sombra’s study and indulge yourself on all those books and scrolls just waiting to be read until dinner time
  1637. >But after the whole colt in the crystal and morbid soul transfusion ritual thing, you’re not touching any of that with a ten foot pole, at least not so soon
  1638. >You might even do what Cadance originally intended and just burn everything down, books, lab, and all
  1639. >Your skin crawl at the mere thought of burning books on purpose, but considering their contents, it might be for the best
  1640. >You guess a nap is in order then, you’re still pretty tired over the whole debacle, and constantly worrying over Cadance isn’t getting you any less tired
  1641. >…
  1644. >…
  1645. >Dinner was pretty standard stuff
  1646. >You let your mind wander back to it while trotting back to your room
  1647. >You made small talk with your friends, Shining, and Anonymous while you all ate the delicious food prepared by the castle’s chefs
  1648. >Your brother and the human seemed to hit it off pretty well; they’re practically best friends now
  1649. >At first Shining was there only to keep Anonymous distracted and be the temporary matchmaker, as per Cadance’s request, while you three were busy trying to get Daybreaker
  1650. >But throughout the week a genuine bond of friendship formed between these two
  1651. >And since friendship is your shtick, you can’t help the big smile on your face whenever you saw the two of them having fun together
  1652. >You’re so used to the sight of men as lovers to mares, that it was a breath of fresh air to see some male friendship between men and stallions
  1653. >Not only that, but it also showed you that men can live a normal life in Equestria with next to no social hurdles at all, even if they’re not matched with a mare
  1654. >With the way they to adapt so well and so quickly, it almost feels like they were made specifically for Equestria, but were cursed to live in a world where their species is the only sentient one, with females who don’t appreciate them
  1655. >You were about to turn a corner when
  1656. >”Twilight”
  1657. >!
  1658. >You know that voice!
  1659. >Doing the fastest 180º you have ever performed, right there in the middle of the crystal corridor is none other than Cadance in all of her filthy and undignified glory
  1660. >Disheveled mane, ruined eye shadow, tear stains, bags under her eyes, grimy coat and mane, and overall a look that would sure to get Rarity fainting on the spot from shock alone
  1661. >You don’t know what to say, you’re honestly too surprised to even see Cadance standing, let alone out of her bedroom
  1662. >But there she is
  1663. “Cadance…”
  1664. >You finally respond back, in the most cliché way possible, but you still verbally confirm you acknowledged her
  1665. >She stares at you, and looks like she’s about to say something, but stops and turns her eyes to the floor in shame,
  1666. >You too don’t really know what to say, for the last three days you’ve been trying to talk to Cadance to no avail, and then she suddenly shows up like this
  1667. >”I’m-“
  1668. “Cadance-“
  1669. >You interrupt one another
  1670. >Boy, this is awkward
  1671. >But you still raise your hoof and motion her too speak first
  1672. >Cadance moves her sight back to you, before taking a deep breath
  1673. >”I… Twilight, I’m sorry”
  1674. >Sorry?
  1675. “Sorry for what?”
  1676. >”For everything”
  1677. >She says softly, slowly stepping up in front of you
  1678. >”For how I bribed you, for how I treated you,  for how I hurt you, and for going so far out of line that I even considered…”
  1679. >You see her shivering under her skin, you’re pretty sure what she was gonna say
  1680. “I’m sorry for reacting to all this like a foal, and… well; I guess I owe a lot of apologizing around here, don’t I? Not just to you, but to my husband, and my baby girl too”
  1681. >There’s a small smile on her face, one that reminds you of the Cadance you know, and that puts a smile on your face also
  1682. >And without warning, you pull her into a hug
  1683. >Cadance stiffens for a second, but soon relaxes in your hold and hugs you back
  1684. “It’s okay Cadance; you just wanted what was best for Anon”
  1685. >”It’s still not an excuse for the way I acted”
  1686. >While holding you even closer, you can feel her body rocking just slightly
  1687. >The wet feeling on your shoulder is enough to tell you that she’s failing to hold back her tears
  1688. >“I… I ‘ve been thinking over what you told me earlier today”
  1689. >Your breath hitches for a second
  1690. >“And… I think you’re right”
  1691. >And you release a relived sigh
  1692. >”My family, my friends, and my subjects are worried, and for me to just sit in the bedroom all day, doing nothing because I’m too afraid to face my problems, and worrying them so needlessly, is not fair for them”
  1693. >”It’s just like you said, Twilight, I need to move on”
  1694. >Her grip around your shoulders tightens a bit, before vanishing completely, and soon you’re being stared at dead in the eyes by a pair of teary, but determined, purple orbs
  1695. >“Tomorrow I’m gonna talk to Anon, and explain everything to him, and apologize for not…
  1696. >A heavy sigh escapes her lips
  1697. >“For not being able find him love”
  1698. >”I just hope he understands, and forgives me for deceiving him all this time”
  1699. >You hug your friend once again
  1700. “I’m sure he’ll understand, Cadance”
  1701. >She wraps her forelegs around my shoulders once more
  1702. >”Thank you, Twilight”
  1703. >…
  1706. >…
  1707. >Once again you find yourself in front of Cadance’s bedroom
  1708. >Yesterday night, after dinner, she told you that Anon was going to be getting the bad news the next day
  1709. >Which just so happens to be today
  1710. >As for the reason why you’re again in front of Cadance’s room?
  1711. >Not to say that you don’t trust her, but you want to make sure that she’s gonna keep her word and notify Anon of everything that happened in the last days
  1712. “Cadance?”
  1713. >You knock on the huge ornate doors, but you don’t hear anything
  1714. >She better not be locking herself on the room again because she’s too afraid to face her responsibilities
  1715. >With your magic you unlock the door and step inside into the dark room to see
  1716. >That it’s not actually dark
  1717. >Huh
  1718. >The room is all tidied up, the bed is made, Princess Celestia’s sun illuminates the room with its bright rays of sunshine, and there no dismayed Princess of Love inside its perimeter
  1719. >Only thing out of place are the empty carts near the bed
  1720. >Which means Cadance kept her word!
  1721. >Nice going Cadance
  1722. >Not that you doubted her or… anything
  1723. >Hehe
  1724. >*cough*
  1725. >Anyway
  1726. >Despite telling you yesterday her plans for today, you still expect her to be saddened over having to break Anon’s heart
  1727. >And to keep Cadance distracted from her own thoughts about the matter, you intend on finding her and spending the rest of the day your former Foalsitter
  1728. >When you find her, that is
  1729. >Not being in her room automatically made it harder for you to track her down
  1730. >Why couldn’t she just return here after speaking to Anon? It’d be so much simpler, otherwise
  1731.  >Exiting the room and locking the door behind you, you start your hunt for the Princess of Love
  1732. >First off, you go to the royal kitchen
  1733. >Both to look for Cadance, and because you’re hungry. You haven’t had breakfast yet, so it’s a two for one deal if you manage to find the pink princess there
  1734. >Well, you don’t find any princess here, but you do find some delicious croissants fresh out of the oven
  1735. >You have eaten croissants before, but these ones are, to quote Rarity, simply divine
  1736. >Gotta give props to the head chef’s human match, his skills in the kitchen are top notch
  1737. >Sometimes he speaks in a language you don’t understand, and his mare gets all flustered
  1738. >Said something about the language of love
  1739. >When asked, the head chef does comments that earlier today Cadance did show up, and asked her to get her a bunch of food
  1740. >Like, a bunch of food
  1741. >A “Shitton” of food according to her husbando
  1742. >And bring it all to her room while she finished preparing herself for the day
  1743. >That explains the carts
  1744. >You knew Cadance was sort of neglecting herself, but you didn’t expect starvation of all things
  1745. >Or maybe she’s getting a lot of food to help her cope with having told Anon such depressing news?
  1746. >Letting herself go by stuffing her belly with tons of food is not exactly a good thing, even with an Alicorn’s superior metabolism
  1747. >Besides, Ice Cream is the go-to ‘I’m sad and I need to indulge myself with junk’ food, [spoiler]patented by Rarity[/spoiler], and there isn’t a single tub of Ice Cream missing from the kitchen
  1748. >Maybe she’s gathering as much food as possible and is planning on bailing out on you?
  1749. >…
  1750. >Pffff-
  1751. “Haaaa-hahahaha!”
  1752. >You laugh out loud, scaring the two cooks out of their wits for a second there
  1753. >Yeah sure, like she’d ever do that
  1754. >Anyway, kitchen gets checked out, no Cadance in here
  1755. >Completely ignoring the weirded out looks thrown your way, you turn in place and leave the kitchen, but not before picking up two more croissants with your magic
  1756. >Where could she be now?
  1757. >The dining hall definitely not if the head chef said the food was delivered to her Cadance’s room
  1758. >Bathroom also seems to be out of question as the chef also said Cadance was preparing herself for the day ahead
  1759. >And the bedroom and kitchen are, of course, marked off your mental checklist. No reason to go back to any of these places after you just came from them
  1760. >Cadance did say she wanted to apologize to your brother and niece
  1761. >Shining might be busy right now, so Flurry Heart’s room it is
  1762. >Maybe you should’ve gone to your niece’s room first; it is right next to Cadance’s after all
  1763. >But your hunger spoke louder
  1764. >Retreading the way you made to get to the kitchen, you walk a little further after reaching Cadance’s room to get to Flurry Heart’s
  1765. >You open the door gently, in case she’s sleeping, you don’t want to wake up the foal
  1766. >You poke your head through the big enough crack and with scam the room with your eyes
  1767. >The room is dimly lit, which makes sense if someone is indeed sleeping here
  1768. >But still no Cadance
  1769. >You could just back off and be on your way
  1770. >But since you’re here already, why not take a look at your cute little niece?
  1771. >You don’t have many chances to see her, might do it now that you’re a head into the room
  1772. >With soft steps, you walk up to the crib and look over its rail guards to see your niece sleeping adorably
  1773. >Awww
  1774. >You do your best to keep that ‘aww’ inside your head to not wake her up
  1775. >But holding back the need to kiss that squishy little cheek is too impossible for the moment, and you lean down, touching your lips to her adorable face
  1776. >Leaning back, you end up furrowing your eyebrows when you notice the small smile on your niece’s muzzle that you didn’t see before
  1777. >You know this smile, this very specific smile, Flurry Heart only smiles like this when Cadance puts her to sleep with her special lullaby
  1778. >And Cadance only sings that lullaby when she’s… leaving for an unspecified period of time
  1779. >…
  1780. >Backing away, you leave the room and gently close the door behind you
  1781. >No, this isn’t it. It definitely isn’t what you’re thinking, Twilight
  1782. >Cadance just sang the song because it has been some time she did it for Flutter Heart. Yeah, she commented she does this sometimes, not specifically for when she’s going on a trip
  1783. >Nothing to worry
  1784. >You guess you should go find Shining Armor now, if there’s anypony who definitely knows where Cadance is, it’s your big brother
  1785. >You don’t even notice your quickened pace
  1786. >The trek is a little longer this time, after all, the Royal Guard’ barracks are on the outside of the castle
  1787. >You could go see if he’s by the Crystal Heart, but you know for fact this week haven’t had any humans, and he’s still waiting for the heart to process the results of the last batch of men
  1788. >So he’s most likely at the barracks, possibly with Anon
  1789. >The barracks are pretty empty, but that’s to be expected, most of the guards are on duty at the moment, not to say that there aren’t some Royal Guards around here, of course, those must be waiting for their shifts
  1790. >And just as you thought, there are the two of them, training in the middle of the training grounds
  1791.  >Well, more like Shining drilling Anon into the ground with exercises, it seems, you can only hear the yells because there’s a circle made up of off duty guards on the sidelines, obstructing your view and shouting loudly as well
  1792. >“Is this the best a human can, do!? Huh!? I expected better of your stupid race, how do expect to woo the ladies when you can’t even do a fucking push up!!”
  1793. >You furrow your browns upon hearing your brother scream obscenities from afar
  1794. >Yeah, you get it, this is par for the course when in the military, but you still think this is too far
  1795. >Especially when Anon isn’t in the Royal Guard, he shouldn’t be treated like one
  1796. >And he just got the worst possible news a man coming to Equestria could have possibly gotten
  1797. >You quicken your pace, you need to see what’s going on, and possibly stop Shining from severing his friendship
  1798. >”If this is your best then pack your shit and go back to your world!! We don’t need faggots like you tainting our Equestria with your pathetic essence!!”
  1799. >Okay, that’s it, Shining you’re going too far there
  1800. >You finally get to the circle and start pushing aside the guards while muttering excuse me left and right
  1801. >But what is this you’re hearing? They’re cheering and urging him to do better
  1802. >”C’mon Anon, are you gonna let the Captain trash talk you like that!”
  1803. >”Don’t humans have any pride!?”
  1804. >”Only five more to finish this rep, man, you can do it!”
  1805. >”You better not lose. I’m betting good money on you winning this!”
  1806. >”No one told you to bet shit!”
  1807. >Okay, that was Anon, after you push past the guards, you see Anon doing pushups and-
  1808. >My goodness, there’s a pony the size of Big Mac lying on his back!
  1809. >“Who allowed you to talk, Anon!? Give me more twenty just for uttering a word without my permission!”
  1810. >“Fuck you Shining, I wanna see you do pushups with a big ass horse sitting on your back!”
  1811. >It takes a lot of effort, but Anon is actually, albeit very slowly, doing the push ups
  1812. >Anon looks unusually determined here
  1813. >Poor Anonymous, he must’ve taken the news pretty hard, and is trying to keep himself as distracted as possible
  1814. >While he does so, you can’t help but notice the small muscle definition of his arms
  1815. >He isn’t the fittest looking human you’ve seen. Hay, you can even say he’s a bit out of shape
  1816. >But if this is what Shining and Anon have been doing every day, then in roughly two months’ time…
  1817. >Stop licking your lips Twilight
  1818. >You’ll get your turn soon
  1819. >N-not that you want a husbando or anything, of course!
  1820. >”I can take on many Stallions on my back without flinching!!”
  1821. >A sudden wave of silence washes over the training grounds as everypony, including yourself, stare wide eyed at your brother
  1822. >Even Anon and his cargo stopped midway through his push up to look
  1823. >Shining, of course, didn’t realize until ten seconds of silence, when closed his mouth with both hooves in shock
  1824. >…
  1825. >Pffff-
  1826. >You stick your hoof in your mouth and manage to keep it to yourself, but the rest of the guards don’t feel like holding back
  1828. >The entirety of the royal guards burst out laughing, falling down, rolling, pounding the floor, you name it
  1829. >Anonymous laughed so hard his arms couldn’t hold him anymore and he fell on his face, and groaned in pain after the pony fell with him
  1830. >Even Shining couldn’t contain himself and laughed just as hard with the rest of his soldiers
  1831. >It took the whole lot an entire minute to calm down
  1832. >With anon being chewed out by the guard who had bet on him
  1833. >Taking some deep breaths to prevent yourself from laughing all of a sudden, you trot up to Shining
  1834. “Shining”
  1835. >You call him out
  1836. >He turns your way and smile, closing in the distance between you two even faster
  1837. >”Ha-Hey there, Twily” she says between uneven laughs
  1838. “Can we talk?”
  1839. >He lifts an eyebrow but doesn’t ask anything, and shrug his shoulders in what you can only guess is a why not
  1840. >“Hey Anon, take five!”
  1841. >”Fuck off”
  1842. >Shining laughs some more, before leading you to a more secluded place a few meters away from the rest of the group
  1843. >He finally stops and turns to you, only to reel back a bit
  1844. >Probably because of the face you’re making right now
  1845. >”What?”
  1846. “So, is this how you spend most of your days with Anonymous?”
  1847. ----post Twilight Smirkle pic----
  1848. >”Of course not”
  1849. >You lift an eyebrow
  1850. >No more is needed
  1851. >”Yeah, okay, most of the time. But he asked for it, and it’s not like we’re in immediate danger to have every single unit up and alert”
  1852. >Uh-huh
  1853. >This time he looks truthful though, so you’ll give him that
  1854. >”Anyway, what is it you wanted to talk to me?”
  1855. >Oh yeah, you came here to ask where Cadance was, and you kinda forgot when watching Anonymous doing pushups
  1856. “I wanted to ask you if you’ve seen Cadance”
  1857. >”Cadance?”
  1858. >You nod
  1859. >”I haven’t seen her since I woke up this morning. She was still sleeping, why?”
  1860. >…
  1861. >What?
  1862. “Wait, so she didn’t came here today?”
  1863. >Your brother leans to the side his head in confusion and scratches his ear
  1864. >”Should she?”
  1865. >Oh boy, your bad feelings are coming back full force
  1866. >”Also, now that you touched on the subject, can you tell me why was Cadance so out of it lately?”
  1867. “W-what do you mean?”
  1868. >Please don’t make any more questions. You don’t want to lie to your brother
  1869. >”I mean how in the last few days she basically locked herself in our bedroom and wouldn’t come out no matter how much I begged her to”
  1870. “Ummm”
  1871. >Think, Twilight, think
  1872. “She’s just… tired! Yeah, really tired, you know, Anonymous’ match is a very special pony from a kingdom far, far away, and she’s very tricky to work with, so all this time Cadance has been trying to make negotiations with my help, and we haven’t reached a deal yet”
  1873. >Please buy this, please buy this, please buy this
  1874. >”I see, so is she, like, a Princess something?”
  1875. >He’s buying it, roll with it Twilight
  1876. “Yes, actually, that’s why it’s been so hard to contact her, she lives very far away from here,  and we’ve been negotiating all this time. Cadance wants her to come here and see Anonymous for herself, but she doesn’t want to make the trip here and then go back when it could take two full months”
  1877. >”I can see why one wouldn’t want to make a trip like that, being a Princess and all. Two months with no leader is just too much, it could lead to a disaster”
  1878. >”But why not just send Anon then?”
  1879. “Becaaaa….”
  1880. >C’mon Twilight, think of something
  1881. “…aaause she’s has to be…”
  1882. >Pick your words very carefully
  1883. “… registered by the… Crystal Heart?”
  1884. >You offer the best ‘please buy this’ smile you can make
  1885. >Which suffice to say isn’t really that great
  1886. >Your brother furrows his eyebrows, and leans forward with his head turned, making you unconsciously lean back
  1887. >Oh dear, he’s not buying it
  1888. >Stop sweating Twilight, he’s gonna smell your recently discovered deceiving nature
  1889. >”Wow Twilight, I didn’t know you knew that about the Crystal Heart”
  1890. >He smiles and leans back
  1891. >wat
  1892. >”For a moment there I thought you were hiding something from me”
  1893. >”I thought I had you with that last question, but you were spot on”
  1894. >He laughs out loud
  1895. “Yeaaaaeeh…”
  1896. >You laugh nervously, rubbing your leg with your hoof
  1897. >”Anyway, why would Cadance come down here?”
  1898. >This one you might as well tell the truth, it’s not informative enough to get him suspicious anyway
  1899. “She told me she was going to apologize for worrying you so much. I need to talk to her, so I sorta expected you’d know where she was”
  1900. >”Oh, well, okay then, I hope she shows up later then. If not, then I’ll talk to her before we go to bed”
  1901. >You hear the joints in his neck popping as he turns it left and right before facing the group of Royal Guards
  1902. >“Now if you excuse me I have, I have an Anon to groom into the perfect husbando material for whoever this mysterious Princess is”
  1903. “Wait!”
  1904. >Your brother turns back to with an inquisitive look
  1905. “Don’t tell Anon his match is a Princess, it’s… supposed to be a surprise”
  1906. >He flashes a smirk and a hoof wave before cantering back to the group of stallions and one man
  1907. >*Sigh*
  1908. >You slowly make your way out of the barracks, dodging and waving any incoming Royal Guard that might be coming back from duty
  1909. >Once you reach the Castle your walk turns into a trot
  1910. >Which becomes a canter
  1911. >And then finally sets into full gallop
  1912. >Sprinting down the halls of the castle full speed ahead, there’s only one thing in your mind
  1913. >Sombra’s hidden lab
  1914. >In no time you reach the still messy study and use your magic to pull the book lever that opens the hidden passageway by the fireplace
  1915. >Passage open, you step over the fallen books and broken furniture and rush into the dark set of stairs leading to the start of all your current problems
  1916. >Finally getting into the ominous lab, you pick every book from their places on the shelves, tables and the ground with your magic, and circle them all around you as you read through each of their titles
  1917. “Where is it… where is it?”
  1918. >You keep repeating the phrase to yourself like a mantra, throwing away all your belief in facts and science, hoping that any deity hearing it will help you in this time of need for just this one moment
  1919. >And finally you read the title of the last book
  1920. >It’s gone
  1921. >They’re gone
  1922. >Your magic s grip on the books vanishes, letting them drop to the floor
  1923. >And you feel your legs go weak as you stumble onto one of the wooden shelves, using it as leverage
  1924. >The information on how to access Tartarus and the steps to the Soul Transfusion ritual are gone
  1925. “… Cadance, what have you done?”
  1928. Part 8
  1930. >“The Gates of Tartarus, the entrance to eternal confinement”
  1931. >”Guarded from the inside by the mighty Cerberus to prevent any individual from ever trying to escape, Tartarus serves as a prison for those who have done deeds so horrifying, even their own peers look down on them with scorn”
  1932. >”A place of hate and misery, where the wicked are left to rot for the rest of their lives for their crimes committed upon society”
  1933. >You close the book in your magic grip after reading enough and put it back inside your saddlebag
  1934. >Be Mi Amore Cadenza
  1935. >Also known as Cadance
  1936. >Also known as the Princess of Love
  1937. >And most likely to be known as utterly insane from this day forth
  1938. >You have read enough for now, and if you keep it out in the air like this, the book will get drenched by the snow, and you won’t be able to read anything
  1939. >You certainly don’t want that happening when you still need it for later
  1940. >The scarf you’re wearing can barely keep you warm in the cold climate as you continue to trudge through the isolated snow filled valley far, far away from the kingdom of Equestria
  1941. >Yeah, it’s really fucking far away, if you thought Yakyakistan was far away, oh boy, you’re in for a treat
  1942. >You had to use multiple teleportation spells in succession to reach this end of the world as fast as you could, burning through your mana pools like a hungry homeless pony
  1943. >If you hadn’t brought some magic restoring potions with you, you wouldn’t make it through the first few miles without fainting from exhaustion, because there was a lot of ground to cover
  1944. >Now you must be thinking? Cadance, why’d you do something so stupid?
  1945. >Well, who wants to be caught? No you, that’s who
  1946. >If you went by hoof, flying, or train, you’d easily be caught by Auntie Celestia, Auntie Luna, or Twilight
  1947. >A chill running down your spine both from the cold, and the fear of being caught red hoofed reminds you to wrap thee scarf snugglier around your neck, shoulders and withers
  1948. >And you thought the ice and snowy mountains surrounding Crystal Empire were cold, this shit is even worse
  1949. >You wonder just how humans deal with this type of environment when they have next to no fur on their bodies, they wear clothes even when the day is hot, a place like this must get them to look like balls of cloth and fabric
  1950. >Which is admittedly pretty funny when you think about it
  1951. >Now, why are you in this no pony’s land in the first place?
  1952. >Because you’re about to open the Gates of Tartarus to do what is guaranteed to be the stupidest, most idiotic, and downright mental thing you’ll ever do in your ever living life
  1953. >Find a piece of rock
  1954. >You’re gonna get in there, get a Soul Stone from the Well of Spirits, and get out
  1955. >Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?
  1956. >Ye- no, not really
  1957. >You can’t get in there, get the thingamajig, and just up and leave
  1958. >That’d be too easy, and things are never easy for this Princess of Love gone rogue
  1959. >No, you can’t because the gate only stays open for a few minutes before closing off for a month
  1960. >One. Fucking. Month
  1961. >Apparently it’s a failsafe, in case a recently convicted pony is sent to Tartarus and the Cerberus somehow fails to prevent its escape.
  1962. >If that happens, the gates themselves will be sealed shut for the duration of a month preventing the pony from making an escape for freedom
  1963. >By the time gates are ready to be opened again, whoever this pony is will have no strength to try and escape again due to lack of energy, since food is so scarce in Tartarus
  1964. >And the stress of having its complete and undivided attention into surviving the place will have taken a toll on the pony’s body and psyche, of course
  1965. >And it’s not like this pony would be able to open the gates anyway, the amount of magic and strength needed to even budge it is ridiculous
  1966. >Yeah, this place is definitely not for the faint of heart
  1967. >Which is why you came prepared with your trusty saddlebag, enchanted to carry more shit that it’s actually capable of, and stuffed it with as much food , first-aid kits, and the aforementioned potions, as you could possibly cram in it
  1968. >Can’t keep relying on your superior Alicorn physiology, can you? Recovering faster than normal ponies is no excuse to slack
  1969. >Why first-aid kits instead of health potions, though?
  1970. >Because this isn’t a game; health potions don’t exist, what are you, dumb?
  1971. >Hopefully you won’t need to use those first-aid kits, ever
  1972. >You feel like you forgot something very important though
  1973. >But no matter how hard you try you just can’t seem to remember it
  1974. >Well, it doesn’t matter, if you can’t remember it that’s because it probably isn’t really THAT important
  1975. >As you approach the gate, you gulp down a lump in your throat as you take in its gargantuan size and intimidating presence
  1976. >You had seen how massive it was from afar while trekking through these mountains; you could even see the top of the gate poking from behind these mountains, a testament of how big it actually is
  1977. >But from up close it’s… colossal is the only word you can come up to describe it
  1978. >It’s easily as tall as your own castle, hay, it might even be taller, you don’t doubt that
  1979. >And you got a tall ass castle, the tallest between all Princesses
  1980. >A rectangular monolith made of the blackest of obsidians, with ominous engraved marks running down its length, drawing the outlines of, funnily enough, a gate
  1981. >And at its base, two cylindrical altar looking thingies on the corners of the gate
  1982. >They are the levers that open the gate, believe or not
  1983. >Before opening the gates, however, you look back the way you came from, and reminisce the things you had done in order to get here
  1984. >You lied
  1985. >You lied to your best friend and fellow Princess right on her face
  1986. >You made her believe you truly had given up and moved on from your objective
  1987. >Only to bail out on her and leave the castle without anypony noticing
  1988. >You didn’t even say goodbye to your own husband
  1989. >Too ashamed to lie to his face that you were going to go meet Anon’s match and bring her to the Crystal Empire like you originally intended to do
  1990. >Not really a lie, that’s what you plan on doing, but it’s not the entire truth either
  1991. >It doesn’t make you feel any good doing it
  1992. >In fact, you feel like the biggest piece of shit
  1993. >You know Twilight is absolutely correct about everything she said
  1994. >But this is something you need to do
  1995. >You made a promise, and you plan on keeping it
  1996. >Unlike most of the human males that come through the portal
  1997. >Anon actually had a life that many would find enviable
  1998. >He had a good job that paid well
  1999. >A loving family that supported him
  2000. >Many friends to spend time with
  2001. >Yet he gave up all of that because the only thing he truly valued he was unable to obtain in his world
  2002. >True love
  2003. >Despite having a good life, he was still unhappy with it
  2004. >If Anonymous can give up on everything he had back in his world just for the chance of finding real love
  2005. >Then how can YOU just give up and tell him all he did was for naught?
  2006. >As the Princess of Love, it is your job-
  2007. >No, your obligation to help him
  2008. >You’ll gladly deal with the consequences and punishments later, after he’s united with the mare his heart is reserved for
  2009. >Taking a deep breath, you roll your shoulders and pop your neck in preparation
  2010. >Once in there, you can’t go back for a month
  2011. >You step up closer, right in-between the two cylindrical altars, and close your eyes in concentration
  2012. >You focus on your magic and two glowing tendrils of wavy mist shoot out of your horn and arc towards the altars
  2013. >You have to do just like the instructed by the book you took from Sombra’s lab
  2014. >Grab the handles on top of the altars, pull them up, and once they’re pulled out, you turn the left and right levers counter clockwise, and clockwise respectively
  2015. >The whole process is very difficult indeed; it feels like those levers weight a ton
  2016. >If it weren’t for you being an Alicorn you don’t think you’d be capable of pulling anything at all
  2017. >Turns out the levers are also shaped like cylinders, how original
  2018. >Having the levers out and ready to be turned as instructed, you prepare for the real difficult part
  2019. “This is gonna hurt, I can feel it”
  2020. >You instinctively close your eyes as you turn the levers
  2021. >But upon hearing the clicking sound, nothing happens
  2022. >You open your eyes again to look at the altars for a moment, thinking the book was a ruse
  2023. >When it suddenly hits you
  2024. >Your bloodcurdling scream echoes loudly throughout the entire the valley; and you nearly drop down onto the fluffy snow as the levers drains you out of your magic through the tendrils
  2025. >On instinct you dissolve your magic grip, and you fall on your side onto the snow, breathing heavily from your mouth
  2026. >Never before have you been so glad to wear little on the cold
  2027. >The freezing snow will cool you down
  2028. >Because by your Auntie you’re hot, and sweaty
  2029. >What was that?
  2030. >You gulp down large quantities of air, trying to calm your breathing down as much as you can
  2031. >The book said that the gate would suck your magic, and that it would hurt, but that was something else entirely
  2032. >You can’t even describe it because it went down so fast
  2033. >You just felt a spike of pain as soon as the gate started absorbing your mana like a black hole, and you ended up letting go the moment you were struck
  2034. >With your breathing finally stabilizing, you turn your eyes to the two altars
  2035. >The levers are still up, but you can see them slowly turning to their original position
  2036. >And no doubt will sink back into the altars as soon as they finish spinning
  2037. >Oh no, you’re not pulling them up again, no sir
  2038. >With shaky legs you pull yourself up to a standing position
  2039. >You reach inside your saddlebag with your magic and pull out a round glass bottle filled with blue liquid before throwing it onto the snow and pushing it down until only the mouth and neck were out
  2040. >You’re pretty sure it’s a good call to cool that thing down before opening the gate
  2041. >Taking a few deep breaths to completely subdue it to normal levels; you shoot the tendrils of magic back at the levers and grab a firm hold on their handles, preventing them from turning any further
  2042. >Shut your eyes, keep yourself focused, what is your motivation?
  2043. >You’re here to get a Soul Stone, a key item in your grand scheme of uniting Anon and Daybreaker
  2044. >And you’re not letting a dumb gate prevent you from completing your objective
  2045. >Gritting your teeth and tightening your muscles, you brace yourself in a wide stance for the incoming pain after turning the levers back in place
  2046. >Wait for i-
  2047. “GUUH!!”
  2048. >It takes all your will power not to scream bloody murder for a second time as the gate starts draining your mana all over again
  2049. >Celestia, it hurts so much!
  2050. >It feels like you were set on fire, everything burns on the inside
  2051. >But this time you’re prepared in both body and mind, and there’s no way this hurdle won’t be jumped over
  2052. >No matter… how much… it hurts
  2053. >You open your eyes and look at the levers to see that there’s a glowing bar with the color of your magic raising from its base to the top, and it’s barely one fifth of the way through
  2054. >You can only grunt in frustration at this point; and pain too of course
  2055. >But you gotta suck it up; a couple’s love life hangs in the success of your self-imposed quest, weakness is not an option
  2056. >It takes minutes that felt like agonizing hours, but lever finally fill up with your magic, and you no longer feel the hot stabbing pain of having your mana ripped from your insides
  2057.  >The snow suddenly looks so cold and inviting as well, you think you’re gonna-
  2058. >*Pomf*
  2059. >Ummm, yeah…
  2060. >Rub that face on that snow Cadance, rub it all over
  2061. >Celestia have mercy, your muscles can barely work
  2062. >Fucking muscle spasms only makes the sensation worse
  2063. >You never felt this physically and magically drained in your life
  2064. >Even when you actually had all of your magic removed from your body once
  2065. >So you’re just gonna sit here and rest for a moment
  2066. >No wonder your aunts, more specifically Auntie Luna, are in charge of opening the Gates and sending ponies to their life long prison
  2067. >Any Royal Guard would probably faint before the process was even halfway done, and a normal pony would turn into a vegetable on the spot
  2068. >Shining and Starlight could probably have a go at it and succeed, but would be knocked out instantly after
  2069. >You’re so damn lucky you’re a fucking Alicorn, never before have you been so glad to be one
  2070. >Your ears suddenly flicks when it picks up a sound of gears turning, and you move your head from its spot on the snow to see the levers quickly turning back to their original position
  2071. >Aw shit, not again, you followed the procedure all the way through, that’s bullshit
  2072. >You try to get up again, but you’re hurting way more than last time, and can’t do much besides watch as all your hard work turns to-
  2073. >Something different?
  2074. >The levers sink back into the altar, but as soon as they do, the engraved markings on them, similar to the ones on the monolith itself, star to glow with your magic’s cyan color
  2075. >Turning your head toward the gargantuan obsidian gate, you see the engraved markings slowing being filled with your cyan magic from the base to the top
  2076. >The gate like image engraved on the monolith standing out even more, confirming that yes, it looked like an arching gate was drawn on the monolith
  2077. >And soon enough, before your very eyes, the drawn gate on the monolith glows a white color and a portal to the place you never before thought you’d return to opens
  2078. “Tartarus…”
  2079. >You speak under your breath
  2080. >You did, you actually did it, you madmare
  2081. >You opened the gates to Tartarus
  2082. >However, as much as it feels great, staying here is this freezing, yet enjoyable snow is not the smartest of ideas
  2083. >That gate is going to close in a few minutes, and if you don’t get in there before it does, then bye bye Soul Stone, and hi there Auntie Celestia, that’s a pretty angry scowl you have on your face please don’t kill me
  2084. >Because you’re damn well sure that your Auntie is coming after you, either her or Twilight
  2085. >And you’re damn well sure that either of them can beat your ass into submission in no time and drag you kicking and screaming back to Canterlot for some questions regarding your sanity
  2086. >So with the effort of a thousand earth ponies combined, and aching muscles ready to snap and tear at any given moment, you stand up on your four legs
  2087. >Stretching your legs and rolling your shoulders to alleviate the sore muscles is a go too, wouldn’t want to go tumbling down because they hurt too much
  2088. >With the little magic you have left, you pull the round bottle from its spot inside the snow, by now it must at the very least be a little cold, and hopefully frozen
  2089. >Pulling the cork with your teeth, you spit it out after a loud *POP* and bring this bad boy to your mouth, drinking its blue contents voraciously
  2090. >Mana potions don’t taste the best, but you’d be lying if any freezing cold drink wouldn’t do wonders to the raging inferno that are your insides right now
  2091. >And boy, does it comes in hoofy
  2092. >You can already feel the effects of the potion taking place inside your system
  2093. >In five minutes tops you’ll be good to spam magic spells to your hearts content just like usual
  2094. >Except for long distance teleportation spells
  2095. >Those suck
  2096. >Eying the opened gate up and down, you take another deep breath in preparation
  2097. >This is it, the point of no return
  2098. >Not just physically
  2099. >If you go ahead
  2100. >If you step into that portal…
  2101. >All of your friends, who knows what you’re doing right now, will never see you in the same way ever again
  2102. >And not for the better
  2103. >Your relationship with Twilight, Starlight, and your aunts will never be the same from this point onwards
  2104. >You just hope they’ll keep it all to themselves
  2105. >Imagining Shining looking down on you with disappointment in his eyes sends shivers down your spine
  2106. >But none of it matters anymore
  2107. >You’ve made up your mind already, Cadance
  2108. >Without any more delay, you step up toward the open gates
  2109. >The time has come, and so have you
  2110. >Walking through the portal sure felt weird, like you walked through
  2111. >It doesn’t look like it, but there’s an invisible, intangible magic field covering the entrance
  2112. >And not even a second after you went through the field, the portal shuts down with a loud bang, scaring you out of your wits
  2113. >Doing a 180º, you see the same monolith from before, only this time with a huge glowing rune over the engraved image of a gate
  2114. >You may not have the most reliable knowledge on runes, but you’re pretty damn sure that means the gate is sealed shut, and won’t open until a month’s time hits
  2115. >You turn around again to look at the place you were once locked away at
  2116. >And it looks just as shitty as it did back then
  2117. >Welp, no coming back now, you’re stuck here for a month, better start searching for that Well of Spirits
  2118. >You pull the book from your saddle bag, and trek forward while reading the necessary information
  2119. > So focused on looking into the exact info you need, that you don’t see shadow starting to cover your figure until you hit head into something
  2120. “Uff”
  2121. >You put the book back and rub your forehead, only to freeze when you hear a growl
  2122. >Oh-Uh
  2123. >Looking up, there it is, none other than the three-headed dog, guardian of Tartarus, ball lover, and angry as fuck, Cerberus
  2124. >All of its three heads roar in your face, covering your face in gross giant dog drool
  2125. >But your surprise, and disgust, quickly morphs into confidence
  2126. >Getting past it is well within your realm of you know how to get past it, Twilight told you of the time she teleported Cerberus to Ponyville and how the town dealt with it
  2127. >You may be no Fluttershy, but you do have the means of temporarily dealing with this canine behemoth
  2128. >All you have to do is…
  2129. >…all you have to do is…
  2130. >You dig into the saddlebags for a bit
  2131. >Okay, where is it?
  2132. >You rummage them with your magic but you don’t find the-
  2133. >!
  2134. “Aaaargh”
  2135. >You groan out loud
  2136. >So that’s what you forgot
  2137. >The rubber ball
  2138. “Shit”
  2141. Part 9
  2143. >You’ve been in this place for… how long now? Days? Weeks?
  2144. >No, definitely not weeks, you’d know if you were stuck here for weeks
  2145. >Because you wish you were stuck here for weeks, that would mean you were halfway through your mission and halfway through getting out of this fucking place
  2146. >There may be no day and night cycle in Tartarus, but you still have a good grasp on yourself to know that there hasn’t been a week yet
  2147. >A watch would come in hoofy though, at least it you give you a better grasp on time
  2148. >You’ve been wandering Tartarus for a few days now, maybe three, or four… you think
  2149. >That’s what it feels like for you, you’re no Auntie Celestia or Auntie Luna, but you spent enough time with the two of them before to know a thing or two about time without having to rely on any celestial body’s position
  2150. >It’s all about the internal clock, they said
  2151. >When you feel sleepy, it’s most likely around nine to ten PM, which is the time you usually go to bed
  2152. >Since you slept a total of three times since you got here, then you must be on your fourth day
  2153. >You were lucky to actually find places to sleep, or rest
  2154. >Because so far every single sentient creature inside this damn place is out for your blood
  2155. >They don’t like your Aunts, like, at all
  2156. >Especially Celestia
  2157. >Before Auntie Luna’s return, Auntie Celestia was obviously in charge of condemning and banishing criminals and extremely dangerous creatures to Tartarus
  2158. >And the overwhelming majority of criminals living on Tartarus right now were banished by your Aunt
  2159. >These guys see you’re an Alicorn, and correctly assume you’re related to the Princesses in some way, much to your annoyance
  2160. >These guys don’t even care if you have never heard of them before
  2161. >They want to hurt you just to satisfy their twisted sense of “retribution”
  2162. >Which basically meant you had to split your time between four overall objectives
  2163. >Reading more information on Tartarus and the shit you need to retrieve
  2164. >Look for the Well of Spirits
  2165. >Look OUT for anypony trying to get the drop on you
  2166. >And find a safe and secluded spot to rest and/or sleep
  2167. >So far so good, nothing major has happened other than you avoiding encounters and combat at all costs
  2168. >No way you’re fighting any of those deranged psychopaths
  2169. >You may be an Alicorn, and have super pony strength and magical capabilities
  2170. >But you wouldn’t be caught dead wasting time and energy on pointless fights when you resources aren’t infinite
  2171. >Especially when they’re here for a reason, you don’t fuck with those guys
  2172. >No sir
  2173. >Self-defense is reserved exclusively for do-or-die situations, if high tailing out of a tough spot isn’t doable; then these bastards will get their damn fight
  2174. >And thankfully, you’ve managed to escape from all these lunatics
  2175. >They did gave you quite the chase though, but your wings and superior Alicorn physical prowess outlasted their normal… everything
  2176. >It also helps that while most of them are weak and starving; you’re full of energy thanks to the food you brought along
  2177. >Speaking of food
  2178. >You’ve seen some of them eying your shit
  2179. >They know there’s something in those saddlebags that would make their stay in this Auntie forsaken land a little, teensy-weensy bit more bearable, even if only temporary
  2180. >So you have to make sure nothing happens to your cargo; else you’ll truly be fucked
  2181. >Because there’s no sun and moon, there’s no such thing as booming, natural plant life
  2182. >Which means no hay, or fruits, or vegetables to eat
  2183. >Which means no fucking food at all
  2184. >Only rocks, dirt, and more rocks
  2185. >Maybe a water stream, or a lake here and there
  2186. >And then some more rocks and dirt, with the odd dead tree giving Tartarus a picturesque feel  
  2187. >So, when they have no natural source of food, what do you think they do?
  2188. >Yeah
  2189. >You found out for yourself, and it wasn’t very pretty
  2190. >Not that there aren’t wild creatures living in this place ripe for the picking
  2191. >But when push comes to shove, well, just know that those fucks aren’t very picky
  2192. >You should add ‘look out to not get fucking eaten’ as the fifth overall objective
  2193. >The closest thing to a tree they’ll ever get in this place, as mentioned before, are dead trunks
  2194. >At least they’re good for making fire whenever it gets too cold
  2195. >Saves you the trouble of wasting mana summoning actual fire
  2196. >Having a soldier for a husband sure came in hoofy
  2197. >Shining insisted on teaching you survival basics in case your magic ever failed you
  2198. >And putting those teachings to good use, you have
  2199. >No mana depletion or hunger for you
  2200. >You only hope it keeps this way till the end
  2201. >…
  2203. >…
  2204. >Shit, fuck!
  2205. “Sooo… you three gentle…gryphons looking for something?”
  2206. >Good job Cadance, you fucking done it now
  2207. >All you had to do was be on your way, keep quiet, and let nature run its course
  2208. >But noooo, you just had to go and interrupt the three dangerous and hungry gryphons from getting their prey
  2209. >All because it just happened to be youngling of whatever species your auntie banished here who got separated from its pack
  2210. >In the middle of a plain stretch of land with next to no places to escape or hide other than a few rock formations and a chasm on the horizon no less.
  2211. >Damn your motherly instincts
  2212. >That thing is probably gonna die by itself anyway and you still put yourself in danger for it
  2213. >At least you can be relieved over the fact that you still retained a modicum of decency
  2214. >You shoot your assailants the least nervous smile you can muster
  2215. >But they sure as hay don’t care about your smiles
  2216. >The three gryphons in front of you slowly approach your cornered position
  2217. >You tried running away, but these guys are surprisingly fast
  2218. >And you bet your ass they’re even faster when flying
  2219. >And look surprisingly healthy too
  2220. >Compared to the Ponies, Minotaurs, and Changelings you’ve seen so far of course
  2221. >Damn predators and they meat based diets
  2222. >Tartarus is like an all you can eat buffet for them
  2223. >”How’s it gon be, pretty pony?”
  2224. >The gryphon in the middle asked you, stepping up closer
  2225. >”You made us lose our hard earned meal”
  2226. >Hard earned?
  2227. >That little… whatever it was, could barely outrun them
  2228. >If anything they were looking for an easy snack
  2229. >”How are ya gon compensate?”
  2230. >He punches the rock you’re corned against and-
  2231. >Holy shit, is that hole that he just made?
  2232. *gulp*
  2233. >Leans his head close to yours, and you shrink back
  2234. >Respect the personal space please
  2235. >”How did a sweetheart like ya ended up in a place like this anyway?”
  2236. >Back the fuck off!?!?
  2237. >Alright mister
  2238. >Let’s make one thing crystal clear
  2239. >Only my husband gets to call me sweetheart
  2240. “Well… what do you want?”
  2241. >You wish you’d say that to his face of course
  2242. >But igniting their wrath upon thy soul is not exactly a good strategy
  2243. >You do seem to have the element of surprise though
  2244. >They have yet to claim you’re an Alicorn, so your guess is that they haven’t noticed your wings underneath the saddlebags
  2245. >“What Ah what? Hmm, ya see, missy… we’ve been here for…”
  2246. >He snaps his talons and looks up in wonder
  2247. >”Ten years, boss”
  2248. >”Yes, ten years... bucking hay, ten years!?”
  2249. >He looks back at his partners in crime with crooked eyebrow
  2250. >Meanwhile you’re thinking how Equestrian swears sound kinda silly and try hardy compared to human swears
  2251. >Is this how you used to swear?
  2252. >Man, having humans around sure influenced your vocabulary more than you realized
  2253. >”Think so boss, s’been so long I wouldn’t doubt it”
  2254. >The ‘boss’ removes his fist from the rock wall and turns back to his companions
  2255. >“No way it has been ten years, Ah remember being kicked here by that whorse Celestia like it was yesterday”
  2256. >”I think it’s been six”
  2257. >”No one cares about what ya think, Grant”
  2258. >Oh shit, are they ignoring you?
  2259. >You look to see the three of them and they totally are ignoring you; arguing about how long they’ve been in here
  2260. >Maybe you can slip away while they’re busy being idiots
  2261. >You slink down the wall and crouch on the floor
  2262. >Gotta go stealthy
  2263. >One hoof at a time, you make it away from them as quietly as possible
  2264. >Good thing THIS time you didn’t forget to store away your regalia in the saddlebags
  2265. >You’re almost ninety percent sure they’re the reason you were immediately assumed to be related to your aunts
  2266. >But now that you don’t have them on, they can’t tell shit because your wings are hidden under your bags
  2267. >Now all you have to do is sneak OUT!!-
  2268. >“And where do ya think you’re going, sweetheart?”
  2269. >Something pulls you by the tail, and soon enough a claw grabs your side and turns you around on your back
  2270. >Now you’re staring at three gryphon faces hovering over you
  2271. >“Did we allow ya to leave? Ah don’t think so, there’s still a lost dinner to be paid”
  2272. >”Lunch, boss”
  2273. >“Shut yer trap, Gilver”
  2274. >”Shutting up, boss”
  2275. >”Now…”
  2276. >He brings a claw to your face and slowly caresses your cheek
  2277. >You can’t help but shiver in pure disgust
  2278. >His touch just reeks of…
  2279. >Malice? Perversity?
  2280. >Shit, you can barely even describe it
  2281. >It just feels so wrong
  2282. >”… how’re ya gon make it up to us?”
  2283. >His claw traces your neck, and slowly climbs down to your chest
  2284. >You have to hold down your hoof with all your will; else you punch this fuck in the face and get struck back with rock piercing punches
  2285. >Hopefully his underling aren’t as strong, it’s be a bitch to fight off that strength times three if a brawl happens
  2286. >And no matter how hard you can hit with those hooves, even as an Alicorn, a hooffight with a gryphon is plain stupid
  2287. >Also, you’re pretty sure those claws ain’t there just to look menacing
  2288. >So you decide for the next course of action
  2289. >You don’t care if you’ll waste mana anymore
  2290. >Teleporting your ass out of here is far more important than picking a fight
  2291. “Well, for starters…”
  2292. >You give the three of them the sultriest smirk you can muster
  2293. >And immediately they fall head over heels for you
  2294. “… I’m not giving you shit”
  2295. >You horn glows the usual cyan color as you prepare to teleport the hay away from here
  2296. “Ta-TaAAAh!”
  2297. >OOOW, YOUR HORN!
  2298. >”Do ya think we’re stupid, missy?”
  2299. >Kinda, yeah
  2300. >You mean, the three dumb-dumbs have yet to notice your cargo
  2301. >One would think the first thing they’d be doing is inspect the saddlebags
  2302. >You hiss and groan, the grip on your horn getting tighter
  2303. >Feeling your body head and body move up, you can only assume he’s pulling your head to his eye level
  2304. >You open one shaky eye lid to see the leader of the bird trio leaning closer to your face
  2305. >”We crossed paths with plenty o’ Unicorns before, we know ya can’t use yer fancy, schmancy magic with a hurtin’ horn”
  2306. >Of all the things they could’ve known…
  2307. >A unicorn’s weakness just had to be one of them
  2308. >How you wish ascension would negate that, but nope, still sensitive as a motherfucker
  2309. >”And we also know they don’t work for quite a few days after they’re broken”
  2310. >What!?
  2311. >No!
  2313. *CRACK*
  2315. >The yell could be heard from a mile away as you scream your lungs out in pain
  2316. >You hit the floor, cradling your head and rolling into a ball as soon as the gryphon lets go of your horn
  2317. >Teary eyes shut, gritted teeth and labored breathing are the best you can do to try and mitigate the horrible pain on your horn and head
  2318. >By Celestia… it hurts so much
  2319. >He didn’t even snap it
  2320. >Only squeezed until it cracked, but it feels a dagger was plunged right into your skull
  2321. >Why didn’t you just teleport when they we bickering? You fucking mongoloid bitch
  2322. >You were trying to save mana, now you can’t use magic at all
  2323. >You hear laughter to your right, and before you can react, a claw holds your throat and forces your head against the floor
  2324. “What are you *guh* gonna do to me?”
  2325. >You ask between grunts
  2326. >Your breath hitches the moment you feel the tip of his claws on your sin, poised to tear your artery out
  2327. >”Ah don’t know… hmmm?“
  2328. >As if feigning indecisiveness, he cups his beak with his free claw and hums in mock wonder
  2329. >Wrapping your hooves around his front leg, you try to pry his claw off of your throat
  2330. >Unfortunately, all you succeed at is making him squeeze your throat even tighter
  2331. >”What should ah do, boys?”
  2332. >”Let’s eat her boss, she’s got a lot of meat on those flanks”
  2333. >Fuck *guh* off
  2334. >Your ass… is not that fat
  2335. >”Indeed she does”
  2336. >Your skin crawls in disgust the moment you feel something sharp rubbing your flank
  2337. >Keep that claw… for yourself
  2338. >You try bucking him, but as soon as you pull your hind legs for a kick a second pair of claws grab them by the hooves and shove them onto the floor
  2339. >”But I think it’d be a waste to just eat her”
  2340. >Celestia dammit!
  2341. >He keeps caressing your flank
  2342. >His intentions are crystal clear from his touch alone, and it sends a shiver down your spine
  2343. >Motherfucker’s just deliberately stalling at this point
  2344. >Reveling on your increasing horror
  2345. >You try struggling your way out
  2346. >But wrestling under theirs grips is useless, all the two of them do in response is hold you down tighter
  2347. >”What is this, don’t like when Ah touch you there?”
  2348. “Fuck… you…”
  2349. >Cursing him between your breaths probably won’t sound any intimidating
  2350. >But fuck him, you needed to let that out of your system
  2351. >He raises an eyebrow, but soon enough an infuriation smirk forms on his beak
  2352. >”Ah don’t know what that word means, but thank ya kindly”
  2353. >You keep it to yourself, not like any words are going to affect him anyway
  2354. >A glare is all you’re allowed to do when there’s a sharp claw ready to rip your throat open at any moment
  2355. >”How about robbing her, boss?”
  2356. >”Robbin’ her?”
  2357. >This bird bitch was lusting so hard he still didn’t notice the saddlebags?
  2358. >That just makes you struggle even further, making them hold you down tighter in response
  2359. >”Oh yeah, she does have them saddlebags”
  2360. >”Maybe later, we take them after we’re done with her”
  2361. >Oh, you’re so glad they’re gonna loot your potential corpse
  2362. >Makes you feel that much better
  2363.  >“Let’s play with her”
  2364. >The third gryphon of the group speaks out loud
  2365. >You don’t like the implications of his suggestion
  2366. >”Oho, that does sound like a good idea”
  2367. >No it doesn’t, you bird fuck
  2368. >”It’s been some time since we played with a pony as pretty as our little sweetheart here, has it not?”
  2369. “Let go of me, you creep!”
  2370. >You try struggling again, but the gryphon with the wonderful idea of playing with you grabbed your front legs
  2371. >Forcing them onto the ground just like your hind legs
  2372. >And now you’re completely restrained, no amount of struggle is enough to free yourself
  2373. >”Nu-uh, sweetheart”
  2374. >He leans down while you do your best to lean your head back
  2375. >His stupid looking beak almost touching your lips
  2376. >You can even smell the horrible stench coming from his beak
  2377. >“You reap what ya sow”
  2378. >He lets go of your neck with a laugh, leaning back and circling you
  2379. >Your eyes follow his movements like an eagle; unfortunately you’re not in the position to strike like one
  2380. >You’re at the mercy of these three, and only a miracle will help you when you can’t even use any spells
  2381. >”Now”
  2382. >He stops by the underling holding your hind legs down
  2383. >“Let’s inspect the goods, shall we, boys?”
  2384. >Your breath stops in your throat the moment your legs are pulled up and spread apart
  2385. >Oh, nonononono
  2386. >Hay no!
  2387. >C’mon Cadance, you’re an Alicorn for Celestia’s sake, you shouldn’t be this easily overpowered
  2388. >What’s the point of being one if you can’t even defend yourself!?
  2389. “Nnnnnrgh!”
  2390. >Your grunts permeate the air while you wrestle with the gryphon for control over your legs
  2391. >Thank Luna you have a tail covering your private bits
  2392. >Those are for Shining’s eyes only, you here you stupid
  2393. >For a split second you manage to pull your legs closer, but the boss gets in on the action and grabs one of them with both
  2394. >Each only pulling a leg is… cheating
  2395. “AaaaaaAAAAAARGH!!”
  2396. >With all the strength you can muster, you yank your legs out of their grips and buck them right in the kisser
  2397. >The shock apparently was such that the one restraining your front legs even loosened his grip; just enough for you to pull back your forelegs, giving you the much desired chance to escape
  2398. >That was no miracle, but you take what you can get
  2399. >Finally, freedom, now all you gotta do is turn around and book it the- Fuck!
  2400. >“Where do ya think you’re going, sweetheart?”
  2401. >He-you-what!?
  2402. >You just bucked him in the face; he was behind you a literal millisecond ago, now he’s blocking your way in front of you?
  2403. >That’s bullshit!
  2404. >And it seems he wasn’t the only one, the rest of the crew started circling around you as well
  2405. >Having your surroundings blocked off by deranged gryphons isn’t an ideal circumstance by a long shot
  2406. >You might end up having to reveal your Alicorniness to them if you intend of losing them
  2407. >Or maybe not
  2408. >If you play it smart, you can lose them and fly the fuck away before they see your wings
  2409. >Yeah, let’s go with that for now
  2410. >”Look out boys, this sweetheart here’s packin’ quite a buck on those pretty little hooves of hers”
  2411. >You take a hesitant step back after hearing the boss
  2412. >Whenever he opens his mouth to call you sweetheart you just feel yourself getting sicker
  2413. >”But ya know, I don’t mind it one bit”
  2414. >He chuckles, slowly making his way up to your position in the center of their formation
  2415. >“Huntin’ down prey is always more… satisfactory, when they fight back, ain’t it boys?”
  2416. >He licks his beak, making you shudder for what feels like the millionth time
  2417. >You gulp down the lump in your throat, eyes darting left and right, anticipating any incoming movement
  2418. >On instinct, you turn your head after hear scraping, and see one of them… scratching the rock floor?
  2419. >But why-
  2420. “Gahh!”
  2421. >Your entire body is sent flying off after a sharp pain on your side
  2422. >The tackling gryphon wraps his front legs around your torso and pushes you onto the ground
  2423. >As the two of your roll on the floor, you time the moment just right to kick him off of you and snap back into a standing stance
  2424. >And immediately leans your head back, dodging a claw swipe intended on ripping your face out of your skull
  2425. >Jumping back, you put some distance between you and your attacker, and when seeing movement on the corner of your sight, duck down to avoid getting tackled again by the same flying gryphon from before
  2426. >Then you high tail the fuck out of there
  2427. >”What the-!“
  2428. >You’re better off trying to outrun these three, staying for a straight up fight is just stupid, they’re gonna eat you alive
  2429. >”Runnin’ won’t help you sweetheart, ya already tried, remember!?”
  2430. >Yes it will, just wait and see
  2431. >With adrenaline pumping in your veins, the pain in your head even subsided as you put more effort into galloping the hay away from them
  2432. >Powerful wing beats reach make your ears twitch, and you turn your head just enough to see the trio taking flight
  2433. >Nice, it’s not like you needed more shit to deal with or something
  2434. >The first one dives in for with his claws poised to take a chunk out of your back, with the other two following right after
  2435. >A side step prevents your head from flying off, and a dodge roll into a gallop nearly rewards a charging gryphon with concussion if he didn’t u turn from so close to the floor
  2436. >Whatever, second killer bird avoided, you turn your head back anticipating the nex-
  2437. >Wait, wasn’t there supposed to be a third one?
  2438. >Your question is answered the moment you look back forward, and your face meets with a clenched fist head on
  2439. “Uuagh!”
  2440. >Your body is sent reeling back, twisting in the air before sliding on the rock floor and littering your coat with scrapes and scratches
  2441. >You feel something leaking out of your nose as well, but time to check wounds is a luxury you don’t have
  2442. >Shaking your head out of any dizziness as fast as possible, you stand up just in time to jump over a low claw swipe from a flying gryphon, and then duck to evade a second gryphon aimed at your head
  2443. >A shadow and a war cry warn you of the danger from above and behind respectively
  2444. >Looking up, you see the third gryphon dive bombing your way with his front legs and claws outstretched for a piercing attack
  2445. >And behind you the first one you jumped over is on his way to grab you
  2446. >Rising on your hind legs, you side step at the last second and snake your forelegs under his stretched leg and wrist, spinning on your hooves and throwing him onto the incoming gryphon
  2447. >They cry out when colliding with one another, and fall on the floor in a tangled mess as you take this as your chance to make another run for it again
  2448. >Thank Celestia for having a soldier for a husband
  2449. >You’re never skipping Shining’s self-defense lessons ever again
  2450. >”This one’s quite tricky to catch, ain’t it boys? I’m actually having fun for once”
  2451. >If this is his idea of fun, then you’d hate to see what isn’t
  2452. >You keep your ears turned back to warn you of any incoming sounds to avoid while your eyes are busy looking for anything that can help you lose them
  2453. >Either you’ve been running for too long, or faster than you’re sued to, because the chasm in the horizon is much closer than you expected it to
  2454. >And near it there’s a big rock formation, just wide and tall enough to keep you hidden
  2455. >If you play your cards right, you can use the formation as cover to make them think you accidentally ran straight into the chasm
  2456. >Hopefully your acting skills are up to snuff
  2457. >With a reinvigorated drive, you speed up your gallop, trying to keep as much distance as you can from these bastards
  2458. >Lucky for you, they look very confident in their abilities to immediately give chase
  2459. >Just a little more, you’re almost there
  2460. >There!
  2461. >It’s showtime
  2462. >You turn your head back and give them the most terrified face you can muster before booking it even faster while still looking back
  2463. >You reach the rock formation and instantly turns, getting out of their sights for the moment
  2464. >Stopping on your tracks, you continue to run in place, softening your clip clops until
  2465. “AAAAAAAAAAA-“
  2466. >”What the-!”
  2467. >You hear the signal
  2468. >Quickly freeing your wings from behind the saddlebags, you take flight while still screaming and land on a higher perch in the formation
  2469. “-AAAaaaaaaaaaa-”
  2470. >Keep up the show Cadance, lower your tone believably
  2471. >Below you, the gryphons fly past the formation straight to the chasm, landing on the edge of the cliff and looking down
  2472. “-aaaaaaa….. suckers”
  2473. >You whisper the last bit, allowing yourself a smirk
  2474. >It’s well deserved, now all you gotta do is turn around and-
  2475. >“Ah agree”
  2476. >Wha-!
  2477. >Turning your head rewards you with a rock shattering punch to the face
  2478. “GAAARGH!”
  2479. >You yell as your body rockets straight towards the gryphons at the chasm
  2480. >You hit the floor head first, unable to right yourself as your body flails and rolls uncontrollably
  2481. >From the corner of your eyes you see a jutted rock approaching and close them instinctively
  2482. >But instead of feeling pain you feel a bump and your rolling slows down into a slide
  2483. >Opening your eyes you see your saddlebag sitting there, right on the edge of the cliff
  2484. >Nonononono
  2485. >Don’t you dare let that bag fall Cadance; you can’t afford to lose your rations
  2486. >Crawling as fast as you can, you reach the edge and stretch your hoof just in time…
  2487. >To see the bag’s weight pull it down the chasm
  2488. >You look down with a stretched foreleg, watching in despair the bag falls into the darkness below
  2489. >To add salt to injury, it hits a jagged piece of rock on its way down, ripping it open and spilling all the contents out
  2490. >Half of your shit
  2491. >Gone
  2492. >…
  2493. >M-maybe you can still salvage it?
  2494. >You do have wings. You can go down there right?
  2495. >Of course you can, just go down, and pick anything that’s still salvageable and fly back u-
  2496. “Uff!”
  2497. >Somepony grabs a hooffull of your mane and pushes your head down onto the ground
  2498. >”Who’d thought the pretty pink pony was an Alicorn?”
  2499. >The gryphon the pulls your head so hard it spins your entire body onto your back
  2500. >”Ya know, this makes things a little bit different, sweetheart”
  2501. >He straddles over your torso, his front legs blocking you from rolling left or right
  2502. >”It was Celestia who put us in this here prison, and ah hate her for it”
  2503. >He brings one of his claw to your face and clenches it in anger, his knuckles cracking from the intensity
  2504. >“And ya remind me of her right now, which is pisses me off”
  2505. >He moves his claw to your side and grabs your wing, stretching it full and takes a good, long look at it
  2506. >”Ya know, ah always hated pony wings, especially Celestia’s massive wings”
  2507. >He clenches your feathers in his claws
  2508. >“If it wasn’t enough to rule the lands, yall ponies want to rule the skies too. Well…”
  2509. >You don’t like the tone of his voiAAAA-
  2510. “-AARGH!”
  2511. >”The skies are gryphon territory”
  2512. >He yanked off your primary feathers, the bastards…
  2513. >Now your plan of salvaging your stuff is shot
  2514. “AA-NNNRGH!”
  2515. >You block the scream by clenching your teeth
  2516. >”Make sure you remember that”
  2517. >You didn’t even see him moving for your other wing
  2518. >Shit, shit, shit
  2519. >Now you’re magicless, and flightless
  2520. >Good job, Cadance, you fucking dumb bitch
  2521. >”Now, ah think it’s time to play, ain’t it, sweetheart?”
  2522. >You pull all the snot on your nose and spit a good gross ass one on his face
  2523. >It’s even mixed with your blood from that sucker punch he gave you
  2524. >Fuck him, and fuck everything, you don’t care anymore
  2525. “I would rather die than let you have me, you psychopath”
  2526. >He gives off a deep chuckle before rubbing off the spit, probably thinks your reaction was funny
  2527. >”Well, ah can arrange that for ya, after we’re done here of course”
  2528. >His claw snaps to your neck and chokes you down
  2529. “Guh…”
  2530. >”Now, be a dear and stay still”
  2531. >Fuck, shit, is this it?
  2532. >It can’t just end like this, you have a mission dammit
  2533. >But… it’s not like you can escape now
  2534. >Horn’s fucked, wings are trashed, and you’re sandwiched between three horny psychos and a chasm so deep it’s a death sentence falling into it
  2535. >…
  2536. >You take the chasm
  2537. “Nnnnngh”
  2538. >”Ah ah ah, trying to jump down?”
  2539. “Anything is better than being here with you three”
  2540. >Choking you down harder, he moves your head to look straight at him faking a hurt expression, with a claw over his chest and all
  2541. >“How could ya say somethin’ like that? After all we’ve been through together”
  2542. >He starts chuckling to himself, and soon enough his underlings join him before he starts with the real evil laugh
  2544. >He and his underlings stop in confusion when the ground floor beneath their feet and claws starts rumbling
  2545. >They look at each other, wondering what’s going on and what could be making the floor shake
  2546. >An then you hear it
  2548. >Like a thunderclap, a powerful roar the entire stretch of land, scaring all of you out of your wits
  2549. >And before anyone can even react properly, a massive black mass sprouts from the chasm below
  2550. >And you can only watch in terror whatever this thing’s great width gets accentuated more as it grows, and grows in length the higher it goes, until it finally stop to look down and…
  2551. >A-and…
  2552. >…
  2553. >Oh shit…
  2554. >You can’t stop your jaw from opening dumbly
  2555. >It’s… a Tatzlwurm
  2556. >But different, bigger, a hay of a lot bigger… and scarier
  2557. >That thing is as long as the gate you crossed
  2558. >And it isn’t even all of it; the rest is hidden inside the chasm
  2559. >A different breed?
  2560. >It looks generally the same, but its entire body is covered in black scales, and instead of the flower style mane, it has a long flowing white mane, not unlike those found in Manticores
  2561. >Is this the type of creatures your Aunt banished to this place?
  2562. >Oh Celestia, now you’re fucked for real
  2563. >“What in tarnation…?”
  2564. >The gargantuan worm looks at the four of you starring dumbing with your jaws wide open and eyes screaming with horror
  2565. >Then it roars once again, opening it’s disgusting maw and shooting out three tentacles to your group
  2566. >So fast were these tentacles, you didn’t even see them make their way before the three gryphons surrounding yelped in pain when wrapped by each by the torso, limbs and throat
  2567. >You look close to the tentacles and are shocked to see that even those aren’t identical to the one you say back with Twilight
  2568. >Because these have tiny hooks all around them
  2569. >As if the thing wasn’t scary enough, it needed those to terrify you even further
  2570. >The giant worm pulls the three screaming gryphons from you and onto the air
  2571. >You’re still paralyzed with fear, and can only watch as the ones who attacked you struggle in vain while at the mercy of a beast at least over a hundred times bigger than they are
  2572. >You can hear the leader is yelling something to the worm, but they’re so far up in the air you can’t make sense of what he’s saying
  2573. >Before you can even try to make sense of it, the unintelligible yells you heard were replaced by piercing screeches of pain
  2574. >Your eyes widen in shock and horror as they witness the tentacles twisting his body before ripping it apart into wet chunks
  2575. >A fountain of blood and guts spills out; and all you can do only watch in paralyzing fear
  2576. >Holy shit!
  2577. >Holy fuck you’re gonna die!
  2578. >Why didn’t you listen to Twili-
  2579. >NO!
  2580. >This was your choice, and it was for a good cause
  2581. >Your only regret should be not finishing your mission
  2582. >And that’s the only regret you feel right now
  2583. “Aah!”
  2584. >You yelp on instinct when something wet hits your head and body, forcing you out of your current train of thought
  2585. >You shouldn’t busy yourself with internal monologues. You have to get the fuck out of here!
  2586. >Just fucking stand up and book it, run as fast as you can while that thing is busy…
  2587. >You shiver
  2588. >… tearing your would be rapists to shreds
  2589. >Even if they were fucked in the head, you wouldn’t wish this kind of fate on anypony
  2590. >So you run, you run as fast as you can, faster than you have ever ran before
  2591. >Your hard breath hurts, your legs burn, your head’s pounding, everything fucking sucks, but you can’t stop running
  2592. >You need to at least find somewhere to hide, somewhere no one will find you, and where you’ll stay safe
  2593. >You don’t even know if the Tatzlwurm is following you or not, because you’re too terrified at it to look back
  2594. >Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, you find yourself face to front with one of the many rock formations in this Celestia forsaken place
  2595. >You lean your head on the rock, and tries to stabilize your erratic breathing and taking big gulps of air along with it
  2596. >You don’t even know if this thing can help you, but it’s your best friend right now, lending its rocky shoulders for you to rest
  2597.  >And after looking around it for something useful, you find a crack on the side, just big enough for you to fit in
  2598. >You enter by walking backwards into the crack, and squeeze yourself deep into the hole
  2599. >Your sight is limited only to the crack you came from, where a soft light shaft shines through
  2600. >And finally, finally, you allow yourself to properly rest
  2601. >And… and…
  2602. >… you can’t stop the tears from sliding down your cheeks
  2603. >Dammit, what the hay was that!?
  2604. >You just tried to save a baby creature, how did everything go so wrong?
  2605. >Your horn is useless were almost raped, and then a monster comes out of nowhere and just kills everything in front of you
  2606. >You…
  2607. >You wanna go home…
  2608. >Back to your husband… back to your daughter… back to your friends
  2609. >You close your eyes and sob to yourself, trying to find comfort in the safety of your hole
  2610. >You don’t know for how long you cried, but you feel a little bit better now
  2611. >Auntie always did say crying when you’re sad makes you feel better, even if a little
  2612. >You bring a hoof up and rub the tears off your cheeks, finally allowing yourself to open your ey-
  2613. >…
  2614. >Wha-
  2615. >Red?
  2616. >You look at your hoof, and then you bring the other, and it too is red
  2617. >Oh dear
  2618. >You turn your head down and that’s enough to get your breathing all erratic all over again
  2619. >Everywhere…
  2620. >Everywhere you look on your body… it’s covered in… blood and bits
  2621. >The once pink coat is now covered in a thick crimson layer of blood…
  2622. >And just like that the images of the three gryphons being torn to pieces in a vicious showcase of gore comes back full force
  2623. >How the hooks pierced their bodies
  2624. >A-and their screams of agony as the Tatzlwurm slowly twisted them until they were ripped apart
  2625. >And then… and then
  2626. >Their guts and blood showering your body… the part you didn’t remember because you were petrified with fear
  2627. >It happens before you even notice, the bile rises from your throat, and you puke all the contents of your stomach on the tiny space you squeezed yourself in
  2628. >Covering your coat with a another layer of viscous liquid, only a sick brown, instead of a vivid crimson
  2629. >You can’t control your breathing, your vision blurs, the pain in your horn comes back all at once, and your body sways left and right befor-
  2630. *Thud*
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