Quest for The Forbidden Lover(WIP)

Dec 31st, 2017
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  1. Don't know if this has been done before because I'm not going through desuarchive to look at every thread, Princesses need some loving too, so here goes a prompt for anyone who might find this interesting enough to pick up, because I don't trust myself to make a green that isn't a oneshot. This prompt may be a bit long, because I'm not good at shortening shit while maintaining the core idea.
  3. Part 1
  5. >Be Cadance
  6. >Princess of love
  7. >A new batch of men has come through the portal this week, waiting to be paired with the mare of their lives
  8. >Poor guys, having to live their lives in a world where females don't feel real love for their men
  9. >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
  10. >And you're starting to work on the last human of the group
  11. >Someone named Anonymous
  12. >Or just Anon, as you prefer to call him
  13. >Yesterday he had his heart read by the Crystal Heart
  14. >He sounded pretty skeptical when you told him to touch the crystal and have his heart read
  15. >He thought he was going to fill some form or answer some questions
  16. >Nah
  17. >… well
  18. >You did ask him a few questions though, because the reading process takes a few minutes and it’d be awkward to just stand there, so you strike a chat with the humans you go through
  19. >And you actually used ask questions as the matching method though
  20. >Seemed more logical to pair up men and mare with shared interests and stuff
  21. >But it didn't work out
  22. >So you decided to go with your gut, and a little bit of cheating via Crystal Heart
  23. >You're the princess of love after all, not the princess of logic
  24. >Anyway, getting off track here
  25. >It usually takes a day for it find a mare compatible with a man
  26. >Which means today you're getting the results
  27. >You can't wait to know the lucky mare who’s getting a husbando in the next few days
  28. "Alright, Crystal Heart, show me Anonymous' soul mate"
  29. >The gem's center started to shine, before the name of the mare popped up with regal lettering
  30. "Daybreaker?"
  31. >You read out loud for yourself
  32. "Never heard of her"
  33. >Kind of a weird name too
  34. >What is she, a super villain or something?
  35. >You can't help but let out a very unladylike snort at the thought
  36. >Yeah right, like the Crystal Heart would pair an innocent man with an evil pony
  37. "But only a name, though? Are you getting lazy on me? Show me where Daybreaker lives"
  38. >The name on the center of the crystal fades, only for an image of Canterlot to pop into existence in its place
  39. "Okay, now show me Daybreaker"
  40. >Once again the image on the crystal fades out and the image that fades in is-
  41. >Celestia?
  42. >You take a moment to reel back
  43. >Yeah, it IS her, sitting on her throne, looking bored out of her mind
  44. >Why is the Crystal Heart showing you Celestia?
  45. "I said, show me Daybreaker"
  46. >Celestia's image starts to fade out
  47. >Oh thank Celestia
  48. >That was probably just a-
  49. >And Celestia's image shows up again
  50. >You bite your upper lip in frustration
  51. >This never happened before
  52. >Just who is this Daybre-
  53. >That name…
  54. >And it keeps showing Celestia…
  55. >Masaka!
  56. >Looks like you’ll have to be princess of logic one more time
  57. >Gulping down a lump in your throat, you look left and right to see if there isn’t anypony around to hear you
  58. >Not a soul
  59. >Good
  60. >Okay, there’s nothing to worry about
  61. >You’re only overreacting
  62. >You’re sure of it
  63. “Crystal Heart, show me… Nightmare Moon”
  64. >You whisper the last part
  65. >The broadcast of Celestia’s throne adventures fade out
  66. >Please don’t be who you think it is
  67. >Please don’t be who you think it is
  68. >Please don’t be who yo-
  69. >It’s Luna…
  70. >She’s on the Crystal Heart right now
  71. >Sleeping in her bedchambers with her husbando
  72. >…
  73. >Lips pursed, your eyes wander around, as if the answer to your newfound problem would just show up
  74. “Shit”
  76. --------------------------------------
  77. I decided to continue this myself, because why not, I said it was going to be a prompt, but I actually liked the idea enough to work on it some more. Don't expect consistent updates though, I have the terrible tendency of writing at my own, very slow, leisure, and sometimes even drop writing a story entirely because I don't feel like writing it anymore.
  80. Part 2
  82. >”Absolutely not!”
  83. >That was a lot of self-control auntie, you could almost hear the Royal Canterlot Voice
  84. >Thank your auntie you put a silencing spell on her bedchambers after you both got in
  85. >After having a good idea of who Daybreaker might be, you came straight to Canterlot to speak privately with your aunt
  86. >You left Anon back in the Crystal Empire, instead of bringing him along
  87. >Poor guy thought you were going to tell him about his mare when you showed up
  88. >You had to make an excuse
  89. >You couldn’t just tell him who she was
  90. >Especially when you don’t even know if it’s possible to bring Daybreaker without the apocalypse coming along as a bonus
  91. >The look of disappointment when you said the Crystal Heart had yet to reveal his future partner almost broke your non-Crystal Heart
  92. >But you can’t tell him anything unless you’re one hundred percent sure this is possible or not.
  93. “But why not?”
  94. >”Why not? Pfft, she’s asking why not”
  95. >Okay, that was a bit rude
  96. >But before you can even say anything you reel back when she’s suddenly pushing you back with her face
  97. >”Cadance, are you listening to yourself?”
  98. >You don’t know what to say, so you just nod
  99. >That seems to be enough for her to pull back
  100. >”Then you must know how insane your request is”
  101. >You mean, yeah
  102. >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
  103. >But as you said
  104. >You’re not the princess of logic, you’re the princess of love!
  105. >You don’t deal with numbers, common sense, or facts
  106. >You deal with emotions and feelings
  107. >And as long as you live your eternal life, nothing will stand in the way of love god dammit
  108. >You mean Celestia dammit
  109. >Those human mannerisms are rubbing off on you
  110. “But auntie, even if it’s dangerous, don’t you think it’s unfair to deny Daybraker a chance to be happy?”
  111. >That look on her face isn’t good
  112. >But this is your job, and you can’t back down
  113. “I mean, sure she can end up destroying the world as we know…”
  114. >Oh boy, she looks even angrier now
  115. “Buuut… this could be a good chance to reform her…”
  116. >Make sure to give her your best smile Cadance
  117. >Stop twitching, you damn lips, else she’s not gonna take you seriously
  118. >Auntie then closes her eyes and takes a deep breath
  119. >”Cadance”
  120. “Yes!”
  121. >Are you through with her, this easily?
  122. >”In the off chance that I’d accept your mad request
  123. >”How, in my name, do you expect this to work out?”
  124. >You open your mouth to answer only to realize you can’t
  125. >And you don’t know how, in her name, this would work out
  126. >”From your face I’m sure you have realized that Daybreaker and I are one, and we share the same body”
  127. >”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!”
  128. >You reel back and rub your ears at her outburst
  129. >Auntie sure looks pissed
  130. >She’s even tapping into her Royal Canterlot Voice at random intervals
  131. >Which is actually really off, now that you think about it
  132. >She never acts like this
  133. >In any other circumstance she would just be a little peeved, but not outright angry
  134. >There’s got to be something more
  135. “Auntie, why are you so against this?”
  136. “Aren’t you the one telling us to teach the value of friendship and such?”
  137. “Letting Daybreaker discover the joys of love could mean one less problem for us to deal with in the future”
  138. >”Because, my dear Mi Amore Cadenza”
  139. >She said your full name
  140. >She never says your full name
  141. >And she’s speaking through her teeth
  142. >This is not good
  143. >”I just don’t want to, how do these humans say it? Feel like the third wheel”
  144. >That’s a pretty strained smile you got there auntie
  145. “Auntie, why do you mind? You’re always so joyful whenever somepony gets a chance to be happy”
  146. “Why are you so frustrated now, all of a sudden?”
  147. >“Frustrated?”
  148. >She looks you in the eye
  149. >Uh-oh, I think I pushed the wrong button
  150. >Auntie doesn’t just look angry anymore
  151. >She looks downright offended
  152. “Frustrated? Hah, I’m not frustrated, why would I be frustrated?”
  153. >Auntie circles you like a predator waiting for the perfect chance to pounce
  154. >”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!”
  155. >Oh
  156. >Ohhh
  157. >You suck air through your teeth
  158. >So that’s what that was
  159. >She’s jealous
  160. >Luna also having her own human probably doesn’t help things
  161. >This must suck for her
  162. >This would suck for anypony actually
  163. >What would the humans say again?
  164. >Oh yeah
  165. >That’s bullshit
  166. “But still, that’s not fair, aun-“
  167. >”Not fair?!”
  168. >With a golden glow creeping the corners of your sight, your whole body lurches forward and you butt heads with your Auntie
  169. >”I’ll tell you what’s not fair, Cadenza”
  170. >Not Cadenza…
  171. >“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!!”
  172. >”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!?”
  173. >….!
  174. >Holy mother of-
  175. >Owie!
  176. >Auntie launches you back with her magic
  177. >Thankfully, her target was her bed, where you bounce a couple of times before coming to a full stop
  178. >You… you never knew she felt like that
  179. >And you were so inconsiderate
  180. >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
  181. >But you didn’t notice
  182. >You kind of wished you were the princess of logic for a moment
  183. >At least if you were, the signs would’ve been obvious
  184. >And now trash doesn’t begin describe how you feel at the moment
  185. >You look at your aunt to see her breathing heavily
  186. >Her usually gently flowing mane now moving at a more erratic pace
  187. >And on the corner of her eyes you could see tears forming
  188. >Taking notice of this, she rubs her eyes with her hoof, and closes her eyes, taking deep breaths to calm herself
  189. >It doesn’t take long for Auntie to compose herself before starting to walk toward the door
  190. >”I think we’re done here, Cadenza”
  191. >Wai-NO!
  192. >This isn’t over
  193. >You can’t go back emptyhoofed
  194. >Anon will be devastated
  195. >You scramble out of the bed and rush to the door before she could reach it, effectively blocking her way out
  196. >Unless she decides to teleport
  197. “Auntie, you have to unders-“
  198. >“Drop it”
  199. >You wince
  200. >She never uses a tone this sharp
  201. >Oh yeah, she’s very mad at you
  202. “But-
  203. >“I said drop it”
  204. >You wanna drop it
  205. >A mad auntie is a scary auntie
  206. >But you can’t let Anon down
  207. >So you shake your head like a stubborn child
  208. “Cadenza, I sa-“
  209. “No, I’m not gonna drop it!”
  210. “Please, just listen to me”
  211. >If she’s going to listen, you have no clue
  212. >You’re too scared to make eye contact at the moment
  213. >But it’s now or never
  214. “I know the idea of Daybreaker having a man waiting for her infuriates you, especially when she probably doesn’t even deserve one”
  215. >Mustering all the courage you have, you force your head up to meet your aunt’s fierce glare
  216. “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?”
  217. >Her gaze softens a bit; you’re starting to get through her
  218. “This isn’t like you, auntie; you’re not this selfish, please”
  219. >The way her gaze lingers on you send shivers down your spine
  220. >If Auntie had hands, you bet they would be clenched tight right now
  221. >But you see her blowing air from her nostrils after a deep breath
  222. >That’s a sign of her trying to be reasonable
  223. >At least one sign you had to notice
  224. >“Alright, what do you have in mind?”
  225. >You gulp a lump your throat and try to think how you can convince her to let Daybreaker out
  226. >And fast too, otherwise Auntie will just dump you here and go back to her royal duties
  227. “What if… we separated you and Daybreaker into two entities?”
  228. >Rather than a very angry scowl, you get a, angry scowl and a lifted eyebrow
  229. >An improvement, at last!
  230. >”And how do you plan on doing that?”
  231. >You didn’t think this far
  232. >The plan was made on the fly, after all
  233. “Well… there must be a spell that can do the trick, right?”
  234. >She doesn’t look convinced
  235. “The archives have so many book and scrolls, there must be something there related to multiple entities living in one body, right?”
  236. >Yeah, that sounds about right, with so many of them, there’s bound to be some-
  237. >”No there isn’t, I’ve read every book, and every scroll in the archives, front to back, at least three times”
  238. >Archives are out of question then, what next?
  239. >Think, Cadance, think
  240. “Uhh… what about the old castle ruins in the Everfree Forest?”
  241. >Yeah, there’s definitely someth-
  242. >Oh c’mon, don’t shake your head like that
  243. >Not even in the old castle?
  244. >This isn’t good
  245. >This isn’t good at all
  246. >And auntie is starting to make her way past you and toward the door again
  247. >“It seems you’re out of options Cadenza, our get together has been… less enjoyable than expected”
  248. >Stop talking like that, Auntie, your choice of words hurt
  249. >This is not even your fault
  250. >It was the Crystal Heart who picked Daybreaker for Anon
  251. >But it feels like it is your fault
  252. >Because you’re and one relaying the news
  253. >And you’re feeling even worse now
  254. >“But I believe we must part ways for now”
  255. >Fuck, fuck, fuck
  256. >Think harder, Cadance!
  258. >Ow
  259. >Your ears
  260. >You’re still not used to Royal Canterlot Voice
  261. >But you got your reaction
  262. >Auntie stopped and turned her head to look at you
  263. >And she looks completely uninterested in what you have to say
  264. >”What about her?”
  265. “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”
  266. >Don’t stare like that, please
  267. >Why did Anon have to draw Daybreaker out of the millions of ponies in Equestria?
  268. >You guess it was only a matter of time till it happened, but still
  269. >”Who knows? Maybe you should talk to her, and we’ll see what happens”
  270. >Wait, just like that?
  271. >No back and forth this time?
  272. “Y-yeah, I’ll see to that…”
  273. >The two of you stand there in awkward silence for a full minute
  274. >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
  275. >”Well, if you excuse me, I have a nation to run, have a good day Cadance”
  276. >With a heavy sigh, she turns back to the exit
  277. >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
  278. >You really fucked this up, didn’t you?
  279. >You’ve never seen Auntie so… defeated before
  280. >Not even actual defeats got to her like this
  281. >She probably doesn’t even want to see your face anymore, either
  282. >So much for being the princess of love
  283. >You feel like you failed her
  284. >You wonder if she blames you for this
  285. >No, that’s stupid
  286. >Of course she wouldn’t
  287. >Auntie is not this unreasonable
  288. >She knows you have no control over who the Crystal Heart chooses
  289. >She’s just upset, that’s all
  290. >Years of being alone are getting to her, and seeing everypony happy with their human partners doesn’t help
  291. >Sigh
  292. “This is going to be a long quest, Daybreaker”
  293. >You make your way out of the room, and toward the castle’s front gates
  294. >You have a train to catch
  295. >Destination? Ponyville
  296. “And I hope you make Anon the happiest man on Equestria”
  298. --------------------------------------
  300. Part 3
  302. >”Absolutely not!”
  303. >You and Spike wince back
  304. >Like teacher, like student, you guess
  305. >”Geez Twilight, you don’t need to yell”
  306. >You got that right Spike
  307. >What’s with Alicorns overreacting to you asking to release a potential murderous psychopath?
  308. >”Here’s your tea, Cadance”
  309. >He hands you and Twilight tea before making his way out
  310. “Thanks Spike”
  311. >Before taking the train to Ponyville you sent a letter to Shining with a few tasks
  312. >First
  313. >Tell Anon that his match might take longer than anticipated, and that you’re sorry it couldn’t happen any faster
  314. >Second
  315. >Keep Anon distracted for the time being
  316. >Play games like Ogres and Oubliettes
  317. >Or those vidya games some men bring over
  318. >Be a bro, like they would say
  319. >Honestly, the reaction of some human men to just the possibility of not being matched were… not ideal
  320. >Yeah
  321. >Some of them are real desperate for companionship
  322. >Anon doesn’t strike you as the desperate type, though
  323. >He looked sad when you talked to him, yes
  324. >But not to the extent some other had
  325. >So hopefully he won’t do anything drastic to himself
  326. >And third
  327. >While you’re busy trying to find a way to get to Daybreaker
  328. >He is to match every man, or group of men, that comes through the portal, with a mare
  329. >You taught him how to use the Crystal Heart, so it’s nothing new to him
  330. >Now where were you again?
  331. >Oh yeah, Twilight Sparkle
  332. >After doing the usual greeting upon meeting her
  333. >The both of you headed to her library, where she promptly told you no
  334. >Obviously
  335. “Gee, why not?”
  336. >You take a lazy sip out of your tea
  337. >Spike keeps outdoing himself, this is some good tea
  338. >”Why not? Pfft, she’s asking why not”
  339. >She really is auntie’s student
  340. >”Cadance are you listening to yourself?”
  341. >Okay, that’s it
  342. “Yes, I am, and yes, my request is insane!”
  343. >Oops
  344. >That came out a bit more aggressive than you intended
  345. >But seeing Twilight’s confused face is pretty funny
  346. >Took the word right out of your mouth, huh?
  347. >“W-well, if you know that, then why come here to ask it all the same?”
  348. >Really Twilight?
  349. >It’s not like your cutie mark is a dead give away
  350. >You point a hoof to your butt anyway
  351. >No need to waste air with something so obvious
  352. >”Oh, right, I forgot, heh”
  353. >You get a pass because your nervous laughs are just too adorable, Twilight
  354. >”But still, separating Celestia from her evil half, for a human? That’s crazy!”
  355. >”Don’t you realize how dangerous that could be?”
  356. “And that’s exactly why I came for you, Twilight”
  357. >Another dainty sip, there ya go
  358. “You’re the only pony I know who is smart enough to think of a solution”
  359. >”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”
  360. >You take another sip
  361. >Uh huh, Starsw- what?
  362. >You hold the warm tea in your mouth, and slosh it around
  363. >Thinking about what you just heard before gulping down
  364. > Starswirl…
  365. >As in, Starswirl the Bearded?
  366. >Should you be worried about Twilight’s mental health?
  367. “Twilight, Starswirl is dead”
  368. >”No he’s not”
  369. >You’re about to correct her when you see her smile innocently
  370. >She’s… she’s not lying
  371. >”It’s quite the story, heh”
  372. >”I’m surprised Princess Celestia didn’t tell you”
  373. >You stare at the mare sitting on the sofa across your own
  374. >Rubbing her head nervously
  375. >Auntie didn’t tell you anything about this
  376. >Why didn’t she tell you anything about this?
  377. >Are you being left out?
  378. >Questions for later
  379. “Anyway, Twilight, aren’t you the princess of friendship? Give Daybreaker a chance, you gave Discord a chance”
  380. >”For starters, Discord isn’t a violent psychopath!”
  381. >Damn, she’s right
  382. >He’s chaotic
  383. >But only for fun, he never hurts anypony
  384. >Even when he was evil
  385. >At least not physically anyways
  386. “Ehh… point taken, but think about it, this way”
  387. >She arches an eyebrow
  388. “This could mean another Alicorn princess, imagine having two Celestias?”
  389. >This piques her interest somewhat
  390. >Gotta play this right
  391. >Twilight has always licked the floor auntie walks on
  392. >No way Twilight, of all ponies, would deny having two Princess Celestias around
  393. >Even if one of them isn’t actually like the Celestia you all know and love
  394. “Wouldn’t it be great? Two different facets of Celestia for you to talk to”
  395. >She taps her hoof on her chin
  396. >”Hmmm, it does sound fascinating”
  397. >Yes!
  398. >“And having insight from both of them could lead to great discussions”
  399. >Oh yeah
  400. >You got this on the ba-
  401. >“But it’s still stupid, and I’m not gonna do it”
  402. >flips_table.jpeg
  403. >You don’t know what .jpeg means
  404. >But you heard some humans say that term when something doesn’t go their way
  405. “You won’t do it because you don’t wanna do it, or because you can’t?”
  406. >”Both actually, I have no idea how I’d be able to separate Daybreaker from Princess Celestia”
  407. >You open your mouth
  408. >”EVEN, if I had Starlight helping me!”
  409. >Aaand you close it back
  410. >”And even if I did know how, I wouldn’t do it, it’s simply too dangerous to make Daybreaker her own living being”
  411. >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
  412. >But this is Twilight you’re talking, remember?
  413. >She must’ve read all of these books, at the very least, ten times over
  414. >You have to try a different approach
  415. >But what…
  416. >Think Cadance, think
  417. >Damn it, you can’t think of anything!
  418. >”Well, if this is all, I think you should get going Cadance”
  419. >No!
  420. >You don’t have to get going
  421. >You have to get Twilight to help you
  422. >”You have to tell the bad news to this human, that you can’t match him with a mare”
  423. >Damn Sombra’s soul to Tartarus, you’re not breaking Anon’s hea-
  424. >!
  425. >You got it…
  426. “Oh, that’s a pity then”
  427. >Play this right, Cadance, don’t screw it up
  428. >The right voice tone and you’ll have Twilight in no time
  429. >”It is, I can’t imagine how hard it will be for this human to-“
  430. “Oh, not that Twilight, that’s a pity too, but there’s another thing…”
  431. >Close your eyes
  432. >Turn your head to the side
  433. >Make a sad face
  434. >You know Twilight won’t resist and will ask w-
  435. >”Is something the matter? What is it, Cadance?”
  436. >Gotcha
  437. “Oh, it’s nothing, it’s just that…”
  438. >Pause for dramatic effect
  439. >”We now have to destroy it all to make more room for the men coming through the portal…”
  440. >She doesn’t need to know you had an inn built to house the incoming humans
  441. >Make her think they stay at your castle
  442. >You hear the sofa shuffling under Twilight’s weight
  443. >You bet she’s leaning forward in curiosity and dread
  444. >Yes, gotcha indeed, she’s all over your words
  445. >”D-destroy what?”
  446. >She asks, gulping nervously, wondering what has to be destroyed thanks to her choice
  447. “Oh you know, Sombra’s study, full of all sorts of notes, information and books collected through the years”
  448. >You hear a deep breath intake and turn your now open eyes to Twilight
  449. >Dear auntie, you’ve never seen Twilight’s eyes bug out that much
  450. ”And since you’re not interested in helping me, I guess I’ll go through with burning everything do-“
  451. >“LIKE HAY YOU WILL!”
  452. >You wince close your eyes, rubbing your ears of the ringing
  453. >That as a royal Canterlot voice alright, first time you’ve heard Twilight use it
  454. >She’s a natural, that’s for sure
  455. >Now that you got her hooked, you just need to pu-
  456. >And she’s not on her sofa
  457. >Why is hot air hitting your neck?
  458. >Turning your head you’re face to face with-
  459. “Oh shi- Twilight!”
  460. >You lose your magical grip on your tea
  461. >But Twilight saves it the nick of time and places it on the tea table
  462. >She doesn’t stop breathing down your neck though
  463. >And with a glare to boot
  464. >You can’t help but reel back to get some space
  465. “Stop that”
  466. >You push her face back with your hoof
  467. >And that seems to be enough to pull Twilight out of her funk with a head shake
  468. >She even puts a hoof over her mouth, muttering an apology after realizing what she has done
  469. >Apology accepted Twilight
  470. >It’s not like you’re staying here
  471. >Now where were you? Oh yes
  472. “Like hay I will?”
  473. >She gulps
  474. >Time to go for kill
  475. “But Twilight, didn’t you say you weren’t helping me even if you had the means to?”
  476. >”Uhh…”
  477. >Contain that smirk Cadance, or she’ll catch onto you
  478. “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”
  479. >”Uhhhmm…”
  480. >Ohh, you’re so mean, making Twilight fidget like that
  481. >But you can’t stop now
  482. “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”
  483. >”Hmmmmmm…”
  484. >Oh my auntie, she’s actually shaking
  485. >You’re starting to feel bad right now
  486. “An-“
  487. >”Alright, stop, I’ll help you!”
  488. >You resist the urge to hoof pump
  489. >It wouldn’t be educated to commemorate right in front of poor Twilight
  490. >Can’t stop that smirk though
  491. >That one’s staying, and you’re sure it’s pissing her off
  492. >”In two conditions!”
  493. >She raises her hoof to your face
  494. >Almost poking your snout
  495. >”First, you’re NOT touching anything inside that study with the intent to harm, EVER!
  496. >“And once we’re finished, you’re giving all that material to ME!”
  497. >Sounds reasonable, you were already gonna give it to Twilight one of these days anyways
  498. >You thank auntie you didn’t, otherwise you wouldn’t have material to bribe her with
  499. >You nod, which in turn makes her a little less frustrated
  500. >”And second, you have to promise me things will be under control, and nothing will go wrong, this is still too dangerous”
  501. “Twilight, we will have four Alicorns, me, you, Auntie Celestia and Luna, I think we can subdue Daybreaker with all our magic combined”
  502. >She’s still glaring at you
  503. >“Promise”
  504. >Okay, alright
  505. “I promise nothing wrong will happen and no one will get hurt”
  506. >”Pinkie promise”
  507. >You sigh and roll your eyes
  508. >Still, better do this right now and prevent Twilight from suddenly growing common sense and back out
  509. >How was it again?
  510. “Cross my heart”
  511. >You cross your hoof over your chest
  512. “Hope to fly”
  513. >And flap your wings
  514. “Stick a cupcake in my e-OW!”
  515. >Ow, damn, that hurt
  516. >Not to self: Take off the gold horseshoes before doing a pinkie promise
  517. >Twlight glares at you more before smiling to herself and nodding
  518. >You watch as she jumps off the sofa and make her way out of the library
  519. >”Starlight, Spike, pack your stuff, we’re going to the Crystal Empire!”
  520. >Her yell reverberates from the all over castle’s hallways
  521. >And you can’t help the smirk from creeping up your face again as you finish your tea
  522. >You could care less that it’s cold by now
  523. >Mission accomplished
  524. >New ponies want to join party
  525. >Twilight Sparkle
  526. >Starlight Glimmer
  527. >Spike
  528. >Accept new party members?
  529. >Absolutely
  531. --------------------------------------
  533. Part 4
  535. >”Remind me, why are we doing this again?”
  536. >You look away the book you’re currently reading to respond, but Twilight beats you to the punch
  537. >”Because, Starlight, somepony here couldn’t catch a hint and just let it go”
  538. >Giving you the dirty look, huh?
  539. >Is that how’s gonna be Twilight?
  540. >Okay then, alright
  541. >File that for later, Cadance
  542. >Be Cadance, by the way
  543. >You have successfully bri-
  544. >Convinced
  545. >Twilight and her two housemates to come to the crystal empire to search for a way to separate Daybreaker from Celestia
  546. >Despite being genuinely ecstatic to research old books on magic left by Sombra
  547. >You could feel a certain animosity from Twilight
  548. >Directed toward you, of course
  549. >Maybe bri-
  550. >Convincing
  551. >Convincing her the way you did wasn’t exactly the best way to get things done
  552. >But it’s not like you had a plethora of different options considering what you have to work with
  553. >You did what you had to do
  554. [spoiler]>Bully Twilight into submission[/spoiler]
  555. >Find a way to get Twilight and Starlight to help you
  556. >Mostly Twilight
  557. >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
  558. >Easily as big as your castle’s very own library
  559. >Even Starlight was getting excited at the prospect of learning more
  560. >You’ve never been so thankful for a bonus that comes with the package
  561. >Spike is another bonus, but he can’t help you at all
  562. >He’s coming because Twilight didn’t want to leave him alone
  563. >He really likes hanging out with humans though, so it’s all good
  564. >Something about how humans get him
  565. >I think it’s because the men can be just as snarky and sarcastic as he is
  566. >Or maybe it’s how relatable they are with how back in their world their love was unrequited
  567. >Just like Spike’s love for Rarity
  568. >Poor Spike
  569. >His day will come
  570. >Not today though
  571. >Today is the day of finding out how to give anon his match
  572. >So you just huff and raise your nose
  573. >No need to get your feathers ruffled by Twilight’s comment
  574. >You’re all here for a reason
  575. >So back to the book you go
  576. >”And the pony we’re trying to get to, is Daybreaker?”
  577. >”Yup”
  578. >You hear Glimmer taking a deep breath
  579. >”Why did I agree to this again?”
  580. >You take your eyes of the book again an-
  581. >“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”
  582. >You can’t help but turn an ear to their little chat, some useful info might come out of it
  583. >“I didn’t even know she was real, I thought she was just a figment of my imagination”
  584. >”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?”
  585. >”Princess Celestia isn’t exactly proficient at managing dreams like Princess Luna, so I wouldn’t put it behind as being inexperience”
  586. >Yeah nope, none of this will help you in the long run
  587. >This is just some trivia
  588. >”Well, that does sound like a plausible explanation”
  589. “Girls, we’re not here to chit chat, we’re here to study”
  590. >This got the both of them to shut up real quick
  591. >Twilight has an automatic reaction to the word study and immediately dives her head back to the book she was doing her research on
  592. >Starlight didn’t look to amused with you cutting her conversation short though
  593. >Despite being stupidly smart, she’s not as eggheady as Twilight
  594. >But a sigh came right after when she realized she had no choice in the matter
  595. >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
  596. >”This will be the stupidest thing I’ll ever do if it goes through”
  597. >Think you didn’t catch that, Starlight?
  598. “Not as stupid as creating time paradoxes and plunging the world into chaos”
  599. >You mutter to yourself
  600. >But with just enough volume for Starlight to hear you
  601. >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
  602. >Twilight gives you a disapproving look, and you realize you screwed up
  603. “Umm, sorry, I didn’t mean to”
  604. >You don’t know if she heard you, but if she did she’s clearly ignoring you now
  605. >She just keeps her head down on her book
  606. >You look back at Twilight and see her shaking her head before going back to her own book
  607. >Way to go, Cadance
  608. >First you got Auntie depressed
  609. >Now you got Twilight mad at you, and Starlight feeling guilty
  610. >What’s wrong with you?
  611. >You’ve been acting out of character
  612. >Is the stress of working everyday with matching men with mares catching up to you?
  613. >No, that can’t be, pairing them up always fills your heart with joy
  614. >Maybe…
  615. >Is the possibility of not being able to get Daybreaker and Anon together messing with your head?
  616. >You try to shake the thoughts off your head and refocus on the book
  617. >You have no time for this, Cadance
  618. >There’s a man waiting for his mare and you’re not failing him
  619. >And with the vast collection of information surrounding you, and two of the biggest minds in Equestria working together
  620. >You feel this is will be over in a jiffy
  621. >…
  622. >…
  623. >Okay, maybe a jiffy was bit of big exaggeration
  624. >You three have been camping on this damn study for about five days now
  625. >And have made a whopping zero progress
  626. >Progress in finding what you want, that is
  627. >Because the atmosphere around you three have been getting progressively worse
  628. >Starlight refuses to talk you after your little tongue slip
  629. >No matter how much you try to apologize, she keeps playing the silence game
  630. >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
  631. >And Twilight is still pissed over what you said to Starlight, and has kept conversations to a minimum
  632. >To top it all off, the both of them are exhausted
  633. >And you haven’t even began with how you feel
  634. >Angry
  635. >Depressed
  636. >Frustrated
  637. >You name it
  638. >You swear you’ve read over twenty of those Auntie forsaken books front to back and you still didn’t find shit
  639. >You have found some screwed up stuff, but nothing about splitting two beings living in the same body
  640. >You’re on your wits ends here
  641. >It’s kinda shocking that Sombra’s study of all things doesn’t have anything on it
  642. >Wasn’t he some sort of psychopath?
  643. >This would be right up his alley
  644. >But nope, only your regular morally ambiguous magic that isn’t that big of a deal aside from a few spells
  645. >Like the book you just read, there’s nothing useful in it
  646. >Only runes and seals
  647. >Why are runes and seals morally ambiguous?
  648. >Because their effects are permanent as long as the runes or seals aren’t damaged
  649. >With a flick of your magic, you casually toss the book to a pile that’s being growing increasingly larger
  650. >You’re so tired though, that you didn’t realize you overshoot the book and it-
  651. >”Ow!”
  652. >Went straight for Twilight’s head
  653. >”Okay, that’s enough!”
  654. >She closes a scroll the was going through and stands up, popping her stiff joints
  655. >”Starlight, c’mon, we’re going back to Ponyville”
  656. >Wait, no!
  657. “W-wait, you can’t do-“
  658. >”Can’t do what? Go back to my home?”
  659. “You can’t just give up like that!”
  660. >”Yes I can, and I’m doing it right now, I’m done with this, let’s go Starlight”
  661. >She does a 180º and trots straight for the door, with Starlight in tow
  662. “Wait, no!
  663. >You teleport in front of Twilight, blocking her way out
  664. >And she doesn’t look happy; she’s openly glaring at you now
  665. “Please, I need your help!”
  666. >You have to move to the left and right to keep her from going around you
  667. >When Twilight’s and Starlight’s horns start glowing, you don’t think twice before releasing a spell on the room
  668. >The glow on their horns fizzle out after you put up a magic nullifying spell
  669. >And now Twilight looks even angrier
  670. >”Cadance, what are you doing?”
  671. “You can’t go, you promised, remember?”
  672. >”No, YOU promised that nothing bad would happen”
  673. “And nothing bad has happened”
  674. >You know you got Twilight, because you’re technically not wrong
  675. “Don’t you want all of this?”
  676. >You wave your hoof to the waves and waves of books and scrolls scattered around the floor, and still sitting neatly on the shelves
  677. >“This isn’t worth the effort, Cadance, we’ve been here for almost a week and haven’t found anything, it’s useless”
  678. >Useless?
  679. >This isn’t useless, is it?
  680. “This isn’t useless, Twilight, this is for a good cause!”
  681. >”Good cause? Cadance, if this doesn’t work out as planned we could put Equestria in grave danger!”
  682. >You try to argue, but your friend’s having none of that
  683. >”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”
  684. “So that’s it, you don’t you care about these men, do you?
  685. >Looks like you offended Twilight here
  686. >“Of course I do, that’s why I think this is insane”
  687. >Before I can inquire she’s already onto me
  688. >“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!”
  689. >“Besides, we’re just wasting time here in trying to find the answer for the impossible, there is no soul splitting spell, or whatever!”
  690. >”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”
  691. >You can’t argue back
  692. >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
  693. >You believe it does, but Twilight doesn’t share the same belief
  694. “Please, do it for me”
  695. >”Do it for you!?”
  696. >Oh jeez, she sounds more pissed than ever
  697. >Twilight gets face to face with you
  698. >”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”
  699. >She taps your golden collar repeatedly
  700. “But you’ve been extremely rude and condescending, bossing us around, not letting us rest, and just overall being unpleasant to be with”
  701. >You what?
  702. >No, that’s not right.
  703. “N-no I haven-“
  704. >”Yes you have”
  705. >Starlight chimes in
  706. >”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”
  707. >Oh Celestia…
  708. >”C’mon Starlight, let’s get Spike and go home”
  709. >No…
  710. >Nononono
  711. >This can’t be happening
  712. >You need their help; you’re a catastrophe with high level magic
  713. >They’re not going away
  714. “No!”
  715. >Your magic surges and you seal the room from the inside
  716. >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
  717. “I’m not letting you out!”
  718. >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
  719. >Even Twilight and Starlight get pulled
  720. >Oh wait, shit, you shouldn’t react so casually to that
  721. >Your friends yelp out loud as they’re suddenly pulled to the center and are buried underneath a pile of furniture and books
  722. “Oh no”
  723. >You‘ve done it Cadance, you hurt your friends
  724. >Good job, you imbecile
  725. >You quickly use your magic to levitate everything from them
  726. >”Ow, ow, ow”
  727. >Twilight and Starlight have some bruises on them
  728. >Nothing too serious
  729. >But nothing that prevents you from feeling like shit
  730. >You practically assaulted your friends like a stubborn child because they didn’t want to help you
  731. “I’m so sorry”
  732. >Twilight sends a glare your way and looked ready to chew you out when her ears flicked toward the fireplace
  733. >And then yours flick to the same direction, and you hear it
  734. >A set of clicking echoes from behind the walls of the now deadly silent room
  735. >It sounds like some sort of machine, or a mechanism
  736. >Finally, with a final click, the walls around the fireplace slowly retract into the floor and the chimney raises a few hoofs up, revealing...
  737. >Ohhh shi-
  738. >”What the…“
  739. >Starlight mutters
  740. >”A secret passage?”
  741. >Twilight is the first of us to regain her bearings
  742. >Sombra, you sneaky bastard
  743. >You wonder if there are more of these secrets in your castle
  744. >”But how?”
  745. >”Over there Twilight”
  746. >Starlight points to a bookshelf with a single book still hanging in there thanks to a metal shaft holding it from falling
  747. >You make your way to said book and push it back, causing the fireplace to reassemble itself
  748. >So there was a lever in here all this time?
  749. >How come no one ever noticed this?
  750. >You’ve sent some maids here to clean this place
  751. >Just because it was once Sombra’s, doesn’t mean you’ll let it get dirty
  752. >Huh? What’s this written on the spine?
  753. “How to detect…”
  754. >!!!
  755. >Geldings!
  756. >”Princess, what was it?”
  757. >Oh snap, is your face that shocked?
  758. “Nothing, it was nothing!
  759. >You pull the book and open the passageway again
  760. >”Are you su-“
  761. “Absolutely, why don’t we see what’s up with the secret path, eh?”
  762. >You push the two purple ponies into the dark pathway
  763. >Their groans of protest do nothing to stop you from shoving them into the newly revealed doorway
  764. >Now you know why no one ever found out
  765. >Who’d even touch, let alone read, a book with a title like that?
  766. >Sombra was smarter than you gave him credit
  767. >”A staircase?”
  768. >You hear Twilight comment
  769. >Just like she said, there’s staircase spiraling upwards
  770. >No one is going up though
  771. >Not Twilight, not Starlight, not you
  772. >And for good reason
  773. >This IS a hidden passage in a room used by Sombra of all ponies
  774. >Who knows what kind of malevolent and downright sick stuff he had that needed to be hidden even from his own staff
  775. >But you can’t go back
  776. >If you do, the wonder duo over there will probably lose interest and want to go home again
  777. >So like the big mare you are
  778. >And obviously not feeling the least creeped out by the near pitch black, and old, evil looking spiraling staircase
  779. >Nope
  780. >Not at all
  781. >You take the lead and head up the stairs, careful to not tri-
  782. “Wah!”
  783. >And collide face first onto the floor, of course
  784. >Ow
  785. >Your ear swivels back when you hear chuckles
  786. >Glad to hear you two are enjoying yourselves
  787. >Maybe this will ease the atmosphere somewhat
  788. >You don’t to keep dealing with a pissed Twilight
  789. >Quickly pulling your face from the floor, you make haste
  790. >Don’t want to them seeing your embarrassed face
  791. >With the two purple-lights in tow
  792. >And no trips and falls this time
  793. >You lead the way up
  794. >The path is fairly lengthy, but soon enough you three reach the end
  795. >Where a tall wooden door, with weird swirling designs engraved on the wood
  796. >And purple smoke seeping from underneath it
  797. >Not ominous at all
  798. >You gulp down a lump in your throat before pushing the door with your hoof
  799. >It’s stuck
  800. >Of course it would be stuck
  801. “Twilight, Starlight, a little help please?”
  802. >Be sure to be nice to them Cadance, you don’t want them to turn tail and leave
  803. >With all three pushing the door, it takes no time it to open
  804. >Not in the way you expected though
  805. “WAH!!”
  806. >The wood breaks under the pressure and you’re sent flying into the room’s floor
  807. >Ow, you didn’t expect the door to be that old
  808. >This day isn’t good for your health, that’s for sure
  809. >Huh, weird, you could swear you had opened your eyes
  810. >Wait, no… your eyes are open!
  811. >Oh sweet Auntie you’ve gone blind!
  812. >“Wow, it sure is dark in here”
  813. >…
  814. >You knew that
  815. >And in no time a small light source makes itself known
  816. >And it’s Starlight’s horn
  817. >Partially illuminating the now not so pitch black, but still very dark, room with weird purple fog on the floor
  818. >Ohhh, your spell doesn’t reach this place
  819. >You hope they don’t realize thi-
  820. >“Alright, looks like we can use magic again”
  821. >Damn you Twilight, you perceptive pony you
  822. >You hoped they’d not realize it since they basically use magic on instinct
  823. >”Now we can teleport out of here, Starlight”
  824. >Uh-oh
  825. >Think, Cadance thi-
  826. “What is this?”
  827. >No, really, what is this?
  828. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U7iuUVfQec
  829. >Now that your eyes are fully used to the lighting in this place
  830. >You can see the room looks like some sort of lab
  831. >There are bookshelves, tables containing multiple notes and chemistry equipment on them, glass vials and artifacts
  832. >The vials littering the shelves were either full with some weird, unknown contents, or empty
  833. >All having different sizes to accommodate for the different types of contents
  834. >You swear one of the things inside of these glass vials looked like a fetus and it sent chills down your spine
  835. >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
  836. >Even the purple duo over there stopped trying to get away the moment their curiosity kicked in
  837. >One of the books is then encased in a purple glow and floats to Twilight, who immediately began to leaf through it
  838. >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
  839. >You watch as her face going from amazement, to terror, and then amazement again
  840. >Only for terror to set on her face once again
  841. >S-should you get worried?
  842. >She the picks more books and the notes on the table near the chemistry equipment, and quickly leaf through all of them
  843. >And her face only grows more and more terrified
  844. >“These books…”
  845. >The glow on the books dissipate, making them fall onto the floor unceremoniously
  846. >Oookay… there’s must be something going on, Twilight doesn’t treat books this carelessly
  847. >“They’re about…”
  848. >Her face has a strange mix of amazement and horror that you find hard to explain
  849. >Like whatever she read was both incredible and sickening at the same time
  850. >“… they’re about…”
  851. >In one go, her horn shines brightly and illuminates the entire room
  852. >Not so bright Twilight, are you trying blin-
  853. >And your words die right in your mind
  854. >Because in the end of the room is a transparent crystal with a Pony sealed inside of it, a small colt
  855. >That looks just like Sombra
  857. --------------------------------------
  859. Part 5
  861. “What the fuck…”
  862. >At this point you don’t care about your tongue slips
  863. >The sentence of human origin is just too perfect not to use right now
  864. >Even your two purple friends agree by slightly nodding their heads, still in trance by the absurdity displayed in front of you all
  865. >It’s a small colt
  866. >That looks just like Sombra
  867. >Sealed inside a crystal
  868. >Locked away in a fucking secret lab
  869. “What the fuck is that!”
  870. >Shit, shit, shit!
  871. >What the hell is this, Sombra’s offspring!?
  872. >Supposed to be Sombra 2.0 after adulthood and rule the kingdom with an even bigger iron hoof!?
  873. >Or is it a clone meant to take Sombra’s place after he died so he could continue ruling just like Sombra did!?
  874. >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
  875. >Twilight is shaking her head in disbelief like a spaz while Starlight is freaking out
  876. >“Is that Sombra? He’s still alive? I.. how-what!?”
  877. “Twilight, explain!?”
  878. >C’mon Twilight, pick that jaw from the floor and answer the question
  879. >You don’t wanna have to deal with this fu- damn prick again
  880. >”I-I don’t know…”
  881. >Oh geez
  882. >Oh man
  883. >This can’t be happening
  884. “Didn’t you just read a bunch of books and notes!?”
  885. >”I-I did, but I don’t know if this is the actual Sombra or… “
  886. >Or what?
  887. >Don’t you dare stop now Twilight, spit it ou
  888. “WHAT IS IT?!”
  889. >You like to think you have every right to raise your voice
  890. >After all, it was you and your husband who had to deal with Sombra’s ass before Twilight showed up
  891. >So you don’t give a damn that she flinched back over being yelled at, you want answers
  892. “Well?!”
  893. >”I… t-those books and notes were dark arts, and were about the ins and outs of creating…”
  894. >Why’d you stop Twilight?
  895. >“Creating…”
  896. >That’s a pretty big gulp you took Twilight
  897. >”C-creating artificial bodies”
  898. >….
  899. >Oh fuck, you don’t say
  900. >“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..”
  901. >This what?
  902. >Say it Twilight, what was it?
  903. >“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”
  904. >Hot damn
  905. >You knew Sombra had a few loose screws in his head
  906. >But now Twilight just confirmed he was one sick fu-
  907. >!!!
  908. >Wait a moment
  909. >Did she just say…
  910. “So there IS a way to get Daybreaker out of Aun-“
  911. >”Shut up, Cadance”
  912. >Shut up now
  913. >”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”
  914. >That’s… that’s a pretty scary thought actually
  915. >Just imagining what would happen if any random pony with not so noble intentions got their hoofs on this knowledge makes your skin crawl
  916. >Basically anypony can live forever using this method
  917. “Is there more to it, Twilight?”
  918. >”Well, the rest are the specifics on how the artificial body works, and how it has to be maintained”
  919. “Well, don’t leave us hanging, go on”
  920. >Twilight gives you a dirty look
  921. >She knows you’re only asking because this might be the answer you three were looking for downstairs
  922. >But she concedes and starts talking anyway
  923. >You wonder why she’d do it instead of outright refusing this time
  924. >She was ready to jump ship with Starlight not even ten minutes ago
  925. >“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.
  926. >”Which means, if Sombra transferred his soul to the blank body, it eventually would look like his normal self?”
  927. >”Exactly, Starlight”
  928. >Hmmm
  929. >So it would take a month for the body to turn into Daybreaker after the soul transfer
  930. >Wait a minute
  931. >Does Daybreaker even have a soul?
  932. >You know she’s an entity that lives inside Auntie Celestia, but does she have a soul also?
  933. >Shit
  934. >You might need to dig deeper into this
  935. >But for the time being, you keep on listening to Twilight
  936. >”So would that mean he wouldn’t have all of his powers as soon as he transferred bodies?”
  937. >Nice catch Starlight
  938. >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
  939. >”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”
  940. >Drat
  941. >“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”
  942. >What?
  943. >Oh, don’t you make that smirk Twilight
  944. >So that’s why she explained it either way
  945. >You know what she’s thinking, and she’s mocking you
  946. >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
  947. >Shit
  948. >“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”
  949. >That sounds the kind of stuff Sombra would do
  950. >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
  951. >”However”
  952. >Twilight gulps a heavy lump in her throat
  953. >You don’t like the sounds of that
  954. >”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”
  955. >You don’t like the sound of this
  956. >You don’t like the sound of this at all
  957. >Is Twilight actually, seriously telling you, that the foal sealed inside that crystal might be alive?
  958. >Like, actually alive, and not just ready for transfer alive?
  959. >A foal that’s the splitting image of Sombra?
  960. >You… you don’t even know how to react to this
  961. >What should you do?
  962. >You can’t just… do away with it, can you?
  963. >You mean, it’s just a foal, it probably doesn’t even know who, or what it is
  964. >It only so happens to look like Sombra, but you doubt it knows anything about his upbringing or who Sombra even was
  965. >Especially since it’s frozen in crystal
  966. >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
  967. >But…
  968. >But it could also be a new Sombra in the making
  969. >What’s there to prevent it from growing into cold and ruthless like Sombra?
  970. >What is there to prevent it from becoming bitter at the world around like him?
  971. >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?
  972. >You lightly bang your head on a nearby shelf, making some books fall to the floor
  973. >Oh Auntie, why is all of this so complicated?
  974. >…
  975. >!!!
  976. >That’s it
  977. >Auntie!
  978. >You should definitely tell Auntie about this
  979. >She’ll know what to do
  980. >She always knows what to do
  981. >Even if she leaves everything for Twilight to handle
  982. >You just hope she still isn’t pissed at you, or anything
  983. >“…ou think Cadance?”
  984. “I-wha-“
  985. >You shake your head
  986. >Were they talking to you?”
  987. >Were you so focused on your thoughts?
  988. >”I said, what do you think Cadance?”
  989. “About what?”
  990. >”About the colt in the Crystal, what do you think we should do?”
  991. “Well, what are your own thoughts on this? I want to know what you think before making my own thoughts known”
  992. >The two purple friends look at each other before shrugging and nodding
  993. >Starlight takes a step forward to meet your eyes
  994. >“I think we should get rid of it”
  995. >Wow, Starlight!
  996. >Sure, yeah it’s possibly a little Sombra in there
  997. >But it’s still just a colt, how can you think like that?
  998. >Oh yeah, former villain…
  999. >”And I think we should consult Princess Celestia about this”
  1000. >Agree 100% percent with you, Twilight
  1001. “I agree with Twilight on this, I think we should tell Auntie, she’ll probably know what to do with him”
  1002. >Starlight doesn’t look too thrilled about the idea
  1003. >But its two princesses opinions against her pleb opinions, what can she do about it?
  1004. >”I think you two missed the part where you realize we could have a potential Sombra trying to ruin everything again?”
  1005. >Apparently she can try to argue
  1006. >Not the she’s wrong, but-
  1007. >”Still, Starlight, we can’t condemn a foal for the sins of the father”
  1008. >Took the words out of your mouth
  1009. “Besides, that can’t be Sombra. We actually faced and defeated him, there was no time for him to transfer his soul … I think”
  1010. >You tap your chin in wonder
  1011. >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
  1012. >”I guess…”
  1013. >Oh, Starlight, don’t be like that, not everypony gets what they want
  1014. >Just look at yours truly right here
  1015. >Trying to find a way to match what could be described by some as just an idea with a real person
  1016. >And success has yet to show its pretty face
  1017. “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?”
  1018. >You expect Twilight to go full lecture mode like she always does
  1019. >Instead she shakes her head
  1020. >Twilight, why are you doing that?
  1021. >”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”
  1022. >Damn
  1023. >If you had fingers you’d snap them
  1024. >Humans and their superior forelimbs, how you envy them
  1025. >The things you could do if you had hands
  1026. “Well, I guess we should get to reading then”
  1027. >Encasing some books from the shelf in your magic, you pull a free table and chair, and dump them all on it
  1028. >You don’t hear hoofsteps of smart purple mares coming to assist you though
  1029. >What’s up with that?
  1030. “What are you staring at, aren’t you helping me?”
  1031. >Oh no, don’t you two look uncomfortable now
  1032. >”Well, we’re still not too keen on helping you after you… you know… threw the whole study on us”
  1033. >Oh
  1034. >You hiss through your teeth
  1035. >Yeah, you forgot about that
  1036. >”And we still wanna go home, we’re tired and hungry, and we don’t want to deal with any of this anymore”
  1037. >Starlight says with finality and does a 180º toward the door you three busted, not even waiting for Twilight
  1038. >C’mon girls, don’t do this!
  1039. “B-but why not?”
  1040. >You scramble out of your seat
  1041. >”Cadance, are you not seeing this?”
  1042. >Twilight waves her hoof toward the lab, and Starlight stops at the door to wait for her
  1043. >“Do you seriously want to read further into… this!”
  1044. >Yeah
  1045. >… kinda
  1046. >If it means finding a way to finally get Daybreaker and Anon together, then sure
  1047. >As long as it doesn’t involve having to create a foal and having to take care of its body for twenty years
  1048. >You already have Flurry Heart
  1049. >You don’t need another baby
  1050. >Even if this another baby is just a soulless husk ready to be possessed
  1051. >…
  1052. >That’s kinda fucked up
  1053. >You get why Twilight doesn’t want in on this, now
  1054. >But still
  1055. “Well, don’t you?”
  1056. >By now you know how Twilight ticks, and you know when to press her buttons
  1057. >And just like you expected, Twilight doesn’t know how to respond
  1058. >She now looks pretty conflicted, and for good reason
  1059. >This shit was made for her
  1060. >Dozens, if not hundreds of books and notes about old, forgotten dark magic, just ready to be accessed at any time?
  1061. >Yes it comes from a mad pony, but Twilight would be lying if the desire to dig deeper wasn’t there
  1062. >And it’s not like she lacks any self-control, or common sense, she knows when not to push her boundaries
  1063. >… sometimes
  1064. >Then again, it IS a lab made by Sombra to conduct experiments less than morally ideal
  1065. >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
  1066. >If Auntie Luna caught on to this she would blast this place to oblivion along with the entire castle section
  1067. “Please Twilight, I beg you, you’re the only one smart enough to help me with this”
  1068. >You bow your head all the way to the floor
  1069. >Ew
  1070. >Ew
  1071. >Ew
  1072. >The floor is all dusty and grimy
  1073. >And you’re pretty sure you don’t want any of the the ominous purple smoke getting into your system
  1074. >So make sure to keep that mouth and nostrils shut Cadance
  1075. >Being grossed out apart, you manage to keep your head down, wouldn’t look too convincing for Twilight if you pranced around in disgust
  1076. >“Hey, what about me?”
  1077. >Oh yeah, there’s Starlight
  1078. >She’s pretty smart too
  1079. “Uhh… you too, Starlight”
  1080. >You can hear a huff, but you can’t see any Starlight
  1081. >Not that it matters, the only one who matters is Twilight
  1082. >“But… why me?”
  1083. >You take your head off the floor to look at the one you foalsat when she was little
  1084. >“Why do you need my help so much? Can’t you do any of this research on your own?”
  1085. >Why she asks?
  1086. *sigh*
  1087. >Well, it’s obvious, at least for you
  1088. >You’re not exactly the cream of the crop when it comes to book smarts or magical prowess
  1089. >You’re an Alicorn, but that doesn’t mean you were automatically turned a prodigy when you became one
  1090. >It just downs on you that out of all the Princesses, you’re the most inept one
  1091. >Even Starlight, who’s just a unicorn, would completely overwhelm you in a magic duel
  1092. >Tartarus, even your little Flurry Heart already showed more potential than you ever did
  1093. >And she’s a foal for crying out loud
  1094. >It kinda makes you feel like some underachiever
  1095. >Like you had horseshoes to fill, and was given all the tools to not just fill it, but overflow it
  1096. >And you still managed to come out with fucking nothing
  1097. >Is this how humans feel?
  1098. >Gosh, no wonder they’re so desperate to start their lives over
  1099. “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”
  1100. >Being honest is your best bet right now
  1101. >No way Twilight will take any of your lame excuses anymore
  1102. “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”
  1103. “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…”
  1104. >’I’m worthless’
  1105. >But you can’t bring yourself to say that out loud
  1106. >You don’t like the look Twilight has on her face either
  1107. >Kind of a mixture of pity and disbelief
  1108. >”Cadance… I didn’t know you felt like that”
  1109. >Probably can’t believe that the Alicorn in front of her isn’t a capable spell caster
  1110. >And at the same time is self-conscious about her high place in hierarchy despite the lack impressive feats
  1111. >But it’s the truth. You suck at high level magic unless your aunties are involved to assist you
  1112. >Twilight looks like she has something to say but you cut her right away
  1113. “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”
  1114. >Twilight looks indecisive
  1115. >Even Starlight over the door looks pensive
  1116. >She’s thinking over your words, the both of them are
  1117. >C’mon Twilight, make the right choice
  1118. >Biting her lower lip, she looks back at Starlight, as if asking for advice, only to get a shrug instead
  1119. >Twilight then turns back and looks at you directly in the eyes, and you steel yours
  1120. >No point in telling her all that if you have doubt in your eyes
  1121. >And here it goes; she’s taking a deep breath
  1122. >“Alright”
  1123. >Yes!
  1124. >She gets to your face and taps your golden collar
  1125. >“But only one more chance, got it? Don’t blow this up!”
  1126. >Yes, absolutely!
  1127. >”Starlight”
  1128. >You can hear an audible sigh coming from near the door, and the sound of hoofsteps coming in your direction
  1129. >”If you want to go back to Ponyville, go ahead, I’ll stay with Cadance”
  1130. >”Oh! Uhh..”
  1131. >That stops Starlight right on her tracks
  1132. >And now she is the one who looks indecisive
  1133. >Don’t worry; you’re not the only one surprised at Twilight’s move
  1134. >Didn’t expect her to dismiss your other purple friend either
  1135. >“I… w-wow, really?”
  1136. >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
  1137. >“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…”
  1138. >I can see that scrunched face Starlight
  1139. >You can’t fool anyopony
  1140. >Either way, that doesn’t matter
  1141. >What matters is that they’ll still willing help you after how you mistreated the two
  1142. >And you just can’t contain yourself
  1143. >”Eeep!!”
  1144. >You pull the purple duo with your magic and give them a hug
  1145. “Oh, thank you, thank you so much!”
  1146. >Starlight squirms in embarrassment, but you don’t care
  1147. >You’re too busy pulverizing their spines
  1148. “Yes we know, we love you too Cadence. [spoiler]A little bit less than a week ago, but still do[/spoiler]
  1149. >Don’ you worry, Anonymous
  1150. >Your wait is coming to an end, because you, Cadance, is one step closer to getting Daybreaker
  1151. >The thought makes you all giddy and you hold your two friends even tighter
  1152. >You muse about how great it is to have friends over your own friends pained grunts
  1154. --------------------------------------
  1156. Part 6
  1158. >”So, how do we do this?”
  1159. “We research, Starlight, just like how we were doing for the last four days”
  1160. >”Hooray…”
  1161. >If you’re gonna be this bitchy then you should’ve gone when Twilight told you to
  1162. >No one’s forcing you to stay this time
  1163. >Not that you were forcing them before, of course….
  1164. >Heh….
  1165. >Twilight accepted the deal; it was not like you had a knife to their throats or anything
  1166. >Ahem, getting sidetracked here
  1167. “I doubt the blank artificial body thing is the only way we have to rip Daybreaker out of Auntie, there must be other methods”
  1168. >Other less fucked methods too
  1169. >Anything that doesn’t involve creating a living body and keeping it soulless via magic spells
  1170. >Why was Sombra such an edgelord?
  1171. >Man, your vocabulary sure has grown after men started coming from their world
  1172. >Not for the better, but you like to think you’re a tiny bit more articulate with insults
  1173. >”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”
  1174. >”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”
  1175. >You do?
  1176. >You mean, yeah you do
  1177. >Of course you have a point
  1178. >”I mean, why would somepony even create a spell like that if they couldn’t cast it?”
  1179. >”But how do you know the date of these notes?”
  1180. >”Because any scientist worth their salt jots down the date of their experiments, Starlight”
  1181. >Did Twilight just praise Sombra?
  1182. >And she noticed it too, quickly babbling out an excuse
  1183. >”Oh, I-um…”
  1184. >Twilight hisses through her teeth
  1185. >”I don’t really like to admit it, but…”
  1186. >She just raises a hoof and waves it around the room
  1187. >Oh yeah
  1188. >This whole lab is definitely the work of somepony who knew exactly what they were doing
  1189. >Years and years of hard work and experimentation that led to the colt inside that crystal
  1190. >And you three were about to tear this place down
  1191. >Not literally of course
  1192. [spoiler]>You fucking wish it was, though[/spoiler]
  1193. >You did promise Twilight all of this would be hers once you’re finished
  1194. >But right now this place and everything in it is property of Mi Amore Cadenza
  1195. >And you’re gonna read all these books until your eyes bleed out
  1196. >There’s a mare that up until a week ago you didn’t even knew existed that needs her man
  1197. “Alright then, let’s do this”
  1198. >…
  1199. >By the maker, it’s being three days already!
  1200. >Oh dear Auntie, why have you forsaken your poor niece?
  1201. >You just wanted to pair up two love deprived beings together
  1202. >It’s a noble cause, isn’t it?
  1203. >Sure, you made Auntie cry
  1204. >And bribed one of your best friend into helping you, and then treated her like a servant
  1205. >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
  1206. >But it’s still a noble cause nonetheless
  1207. >However, the world’s apparently conspiring against your love crusade
  1208. >As if telling you that what you’re doing is a bad idea and you stop
  1209. >Pish-Posh world, you won’t stop
  1210. >Who does it take you for, a loser?
  1211. >You’re the only one allowed to call yourself a loser
  1212. >To the rest of the world you’re gonna be a winner
  1213. >Yeah, Daybreaker is a villain, so what?
  1214. >You’ve seen mares who were condemned for heinous crimes like murder, slavery, torture, and whatnot turn a new leaf after meeting a man
  1215. >And she will be no different
  1216. >You’re not giving up
  1217. >You’re finding a way to get those two together no matter what
  1218. >Even if it means freezing Anonymous
  1219. >Even if it takes the rest of your eternal life
  1220. >You. Will. Match. Th-
  1221. >”I found it!”
  1223. >”Oh my Celestia, it actually exists!?”
  1225. >”Yes, I can’t believe it either, Cadance was actually right for once”
  1227. >“Cadance, shut up!”
  1228. “-EEEEEEEEEEEEE-!!“
  1229. >You clamp your mouth shut
  1230. >Oh, jeez, did you scream out loud?
  1231. >Now that’s embarrassing
  1232. >But you don’t give a damn because Twilight has found it
  1233. >Hot damn, you can’t even control your legs and keep yourself from prancing in place like a complete dork
  1234. >Because you don’t give a damn, Twilight has fucking found it
  1235. “What are you waiting for?”
  1236. >You go sonic fast and zip across the room to Twilight’s now uncomfortable face
  1237. “C’mon, tell us what it says”
  1238. >She pushes my face back with her hoof
  1239. >”Easy there”
  1240. >She says, floating the book up to the wooden table and motioning you and Starlight to follow
  1241. >”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”
  1242. >She pulls three chairs with her magic and you three sit down on them to read the book with Twilight
  1243. >Soul Power, huh? Fitting name for a book that deals with soul transferring shenanigans
  1244. >”Okay, so here’s what it says”
  1245. >”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”
  1246. >Jeez, what a bunch of sad little ponies
  1247. >Eternal life isn’t as great, guys
  1248. >It sounds great on paper, but then you realize that you’ll outlive nearly everypony that you love
  1249. >Like how you’ll outlive Shiiiiiiii-
  1250. >-it
  1251. >You better stop before you get depressed
  1252. >“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”
  1253. >Ohhh, you’re getting so close to your answer you can taste it
  1254. >You don’t really get what they meant by presence, but you can almost taste victory
  1255. >And it tastes like ominous atmosphere and-
  1256. >Oh wait, you’re breathing through your mouth
  1257. “What else does it say, Twilight?”
  1258. >You mush your cheek against your purple friend’s face
  1259. >You wanna take a look at the book too, not just listen to Twiggles
  1260. >“Be patience Cadance”
  1261. >She takes another gander at the book, humming while doing so
  1262. >”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”
  1263. >Oh, you get it
  1264. >Kinda
  1265. >More than you did before, that’s for sure
  1266. >“Alright then, let’s continue”
  1267. >She clears her throat
  1268. >“There are a total of two key items required for the ritual to be executed. First and foremost, a Soul Stone is needed”
  1269. >A Soul Stone?
  1270. >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?
  1271. >Soul Power
  1272. >Soul Stone
  1273. >What? Next, you’re gonna tell moi that the name of the ritual is actually called Soul Transfer?
  1274. >Let’s see, let’s see
  1275. >…
  1276. >It’s Soul Transfusion
  1277. >You almost got it
  1278. >There’s an unhealthy amount of uncreative names here
  1279. >”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”
  1280. >… you’re not really liking the way this is going
  1281. >”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”
  1282. >Along with this fucking depressing description, there’s a hoof drawn picture of a Soul Stone in its rough and lapidated state.
  1283. >The rough gem is a long, wavy and wispy piece of rock, almost like a trail of smoke that took a solid form
  1284. >While the Soul Stone is an oval gem
  1285. >You’d say it’s a very beautiful looking gem
  1286. >If it didn’t have an Aunty damn pony’s skull swirling inside of it
  1287. >Seriously, that shit looks terrifying
  1288. >You’re sure the humans would find it super cool, though
  1289. “Oookay… what else does it say, Twilight?”
  1290. >”The second key item is…”
  1291. >What, the second key item is what?
  1292. >”T-the second key item is…”
  1293. >Uh-oh, you don’t like sound of Twi’s voice
  1294. >Guess you better read for it yourself then
  1295. >Hmm, need a vessel for the soul/entity to be sealed, ‘kay
  1296. >But not just any vessel, alright
  1297. >To complete the ritual it is needed the body of a pony on the-
  1298. >Oh fuck!
  1299. >“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…”
  1300. >Thank you for picking up the slack Starlight, you’re not so sure you wanted to hear it though
  1301. >A pony on the verge of death? This is fucked up; the ponies who made this ritual were fucked in the head
  1302. >They’re like Sombra before Sombra was even a thing
  1303. >Tartarus, if anything Sombra might’ve even been part of this insane cult at one point
  1304. >Would explain this hidden lab
  1305. “Does it explain why it needs… that?”
  1306. >You ask Twilight, but she doesn’t respond
  1307. >She’s completely out there
  1308. >Not even poking seem to bring the mare out of her funk
  1309. >”I… think it does”
  1310. >Starlight said, pulling the book over to her with magic
  1311. >Seems like she decided to pick up after Twilight indefinitely, who’s just sitting there, still processing what she just read
  1312. >Starlight’s taking this pretty well, all things considered
  1313. >You’d think that she would be at least half as shocked as Twilight, but nope
  1314. >Oh yeah, you forgot
  1315. >Former villain
  1316. >“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”
  1317. >Okay, alright….
  1318. >So, it doesn’t sound AS bad as you thought it was
  1319. “A-and why is that?”
  1320. >You ask out of morbid curiosity
  1321. >”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”
  1322. >That makes sense, you guess
  1323. >It’s a dead body; it shouldn’t suddenly start working again just because there’s a new soul in it
  1324. >Why are you thinking about dead bodies so fucking casually?
  1325. “I-is it possible to perform the ritual on a completely healthy vessel?”
  1326. >What are you thinking Cadance?
  1327. >You better stop Cadance
  1328. >“… 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”
  1329. “And what would happen next?”
  1330. >“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”
  1331. >You gulp
  1332. “And can you explain again why we need a near dead pony?”
  1333. >Starlight raises an eyebrow and looks at you funny
  1334. >You don’t like the way she’s looking at you right now
  1335. >“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”
  1336. “And what happens when you perform the ritual on a near dead pony?”
  1337. >Aren’t you getting a little too curious here Cadance?
  1338. >Why don’t you just stop already?
  1339. >You should’ve done that back when you discovered this damn lab
  1340. >But here you are, digging the hole deeper
  1341. >”The transferring soul snuffs the vessel’s soul out of existence, effectively killing the body’s original owner, while the new soul takes over”
  1342. >*gulp*
  1343. “A-and what happens next?”
  1344. >Damn it Cadance, what the fuck are you saying?!
  1345. >“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”
  1346. “Is that all?”
  1347. >”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”
  1348. “I-into nothingness as in-
  1349. >”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”
  1350. >By the maker, this is just…
  1351. >Do you even want to go through?
  1352. >Are you really willing to proceed with this ritual?
  1353. >It is all so…
  1354. >>Yes, yes you want, Anon is counting on you remember?
  1355. >Wha- Yes, but… this wrong
  1356. >>And leaving Daybreaker trapped inside of Auntie forever, not ever knowing what it feels to be loved, isn’t wrong as well?
  1357. >Yeah, bu-
  1358. >>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
  1359. >But what about the success ra-
  1360. >>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
  1361. >>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
  1362. >Y-yes, you’re right…
  1363. >>No Cadance YOU are right
  1364. >Yes
  1365. >I am right
  1366. “S-so all we need is a Soul Stone and a near dead pony? Doesn’t seem so hard”
  1367. >Pick that jaw from the floor, Starlight
  1368. >You don’t know how many germs there are in this filthy lab
  1369. >And a little to her side, Twilight still looks out there; you swear you saw one of her ears swivel in your direction though
  1370. >”I-you- what was that?”
  1371. >The second purple genius shakes her head, clearly confused by your choice of words
  1372. “I said that finding a Soul Stone and a near dead pony sounds simple enough”
  1373. >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
  1374. >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
  1375. >Starlight looks at you like she saw a serial killer just murder one of her friends right in front of her face
  1376. >”Y-you’re actually going to through with this?”
  1377. “Yes, I am”
  1378. >“E-even after all… THIS!?”
  1379. >She waves her forelegs around, motioning for the entire lab surrounding you two plus the shell shocked Twilight
  1380. “Absolutely-”
  1381. >“ not…”
  1382. >Something interrupts you
  1383. “What?”
  1384. >Not?
  1385. >Who said tha-
  1386. >Oh, Twilight is finally getting out of her funk
  1387. >“Absolutely not”
  1388. >The low tone she used to speak immediately gives you red flags
  1389. >Twilight turns her eyes in your direction, and boy, does she look angry
  1390. >”Cadance, I’m not allowing you to continue this madness”
  1391. >She jumps off her own chair and trots
  1392. >No, scratch that
  1393. >Stomps her way up to you
  1394. >All the while glaring in her direction
  1395. >“Can’t you see this isn’t right?”
  1396. >Yeah, you can
  1397. >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
  1398. >It’s not like a solution to your problem is gonna drop from the sky right into your lap
  1399. >This is the only choice you have, either go through with the ritual, or give up
  1400. >And you’re not giving up
  1401. “I can, but this is also the only way”
  1402. >Twilight’s glare intensifies as she leans forward on the tip of her fore hooves and stares into your eyes
  1403. >”Then don’t”
  1404. >Don’t?
  1405. >As in, don’t do it? Give up?
  1406. “Twilight, I can’t just giv-“
  1407. >”Yes you can!”
  1408. >She nearly screams in your face, at this point she’s pushing you back with her forehead, your horns crisscrossing as she does
  1409. >But you can’t let her push you around, and you stop her charge, trying to push her back also
  1410. >Geez, she’s got a hard head
  1411. “Twilight, you have to understand I’m doing this for the happiness of Anon and Daybreaker”
  1412. >”And I’m telling you this has to stop, I’m not siding with you anymore Cadance, and I’m not letting you continue with this inequine ritual!”
  1413. >Twilight’s getting angrier and angrier
  1414. >And the angrier she gets, the more nervous YOU get
  1415. >You’ve never seen her like this before, and it’s making you uncomfortable
  1416. >Twilight should never have this expression of anger on her face
  1417. >Maybe a little miffed, but not straight up mad
  1418. >You’re starting to have second thoughts about this
  1419. >No, stop that
  1420. >Don’t doubt yourself, this is for Anon and Daybreaker, keep that in mind
  1421. “Is it really that bad, to get a dying Pony to perform the ritual?”
  1422. >Twilight looks at you like you just grew a second head
  1423. >That kind of sounded better in your mind
  1424. >”Yes, yes it is Cadance, what in Tartarus are you saying?”
  1425. “But if she’s dying already, wouldn’t we be giving her body, like, a second chance?”
  1426. >She finally lets off the pushing and takes a few shaky steps back
  1427. >Her face slowly morphing from anger to a horrified glare
  1428. >Behind her, Starlight looks just as horrified, with a drop of confusion in there too
  1429. >”Even if that’s true, you’re still willing to kill an innocent pony that can still survive and live a full life”
  1430. >K-kill an innocent pony?
  1431. >Are you really willing to kill a civilian?
  1432. >You thought that since the pony in question couldn’t possibly survive, it wouldn’t be an issue
  1433. >But if she can survive, you’d just be taking away her second chance
  1434. >Y-you can’t just give up though, you have to think of something else
  1435. >Think Cadance, think
  1436. “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-“
  1438. >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
  1439. >Even the crystal holding the colt cracked under the pressure of her yell
  1440. >She doesn’t look angry anymore
  1441. >Twilight looks absolutely pissed
  1442. >Why do you feel your foreleg moving on its own?
  1443. >Looking down, you see that it isn’t just moving, it’s shaking
  1444. >Your whole body is shaking, actually
  1445. >Snapping your eyes toward Twilight gets you an immediate step back
  1446. >A-are you afraid… of Twilight?
  1447. >!
  1448. >T-twilight!
  1449. >You yelp as she picks you up with her magic and slams you against the bookshelf
  1450. >With a ton of force
  1451. >The impact leaves you out of air as the old wooden planks break apart and the books rain down around you
  1452. >You try to move only to realize that you’re still under Twilight’s magical grip, being pressed forcefully against the broken shelf
  1453. >S-scratch that, she looks downright livid
  1454. >”Oh my Celestia, Twilight, what are you doing?!”
  1455. >Starlight’s shocked yell falls on deaf ears, for Twilight only has eyes for you, and those eyes scream rage
  1456. >“Just take a moment and try to listen to the… the… INSANITY YOU’RE SPOUTING!”
  1457. >“You’re talking about taking somepony’s life, forever, even in afterlife, like it’s nothing but a chore!”
  1458. >She pushes you even further into the broken wooden structure, the sharp broken remains of the shelves painfully jabbing your soft back skin
  1459. >”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”
  1460. “T-twi” you manage to let out as a gasp of air
  1461. >”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?!”
  1462. >You gasp as the wood pierces your back and draws blood, but Twilight’s pressure don’t give you enough air to scream
  1463. “T-twilight, stop…”
  1464. >You can feel the corner of your eyes water in both pain and fear
  1465. >This isn’t Twilight; she never acted this way before
  1466. >”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!”
  1467. >”And if you’re still willing to go through with this, then I’ll have to stop you, even If by force!”
  1468. “Twilight, please, you’re hurting me…”
  1469. >You manage form a full sentence, and that looks to be enough to get Twilight off of you
  1470. >She drops you flat on the floor unceremoniously
  1471. >And you cough and gasp for air, while using your own magic to pull the piece of wood that pierced you in the back
  1472. >Thankfully, it was a small piece of wood
  1473. >…
  1474. >While you try to stabilize your breathing, you feel them
  1475. >You feel her eyes glaring holes on the back of your skull
  1476. >You dare not raise your head and face those livid purple orbs once more
  1477. >Preferring to keep your vision completely focused on the dirty, grimy floor for now
  1478. >You dare not even raise yourself, only leaning on your forelegs, still trying to catch your breath
  1479. >”So, what is it going to be, Cadance, will you stop? Or do I have to fight you?”
  1480. >Your breath hitches in your throat, and your eyes widen in shock
  1481. >Fight?
  1482. >F-fight you?
  1483. >Oh dear Faust, i-is this how far you have gone?
  1484. >So deep into this whole mess that Twilight is willing to fight you?
  1485. >You slowly look up to meet up with Twilight’s face
  1486. >And you see it, you see it, and you don’t
  1487. >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
  1488. >She’s not sorry about hurting you, but you can see she doesn’t want to do this either
  1489. >However, you don’t see any signs of her backing down
  1490. >Twilight knows what she said and she’ll follow through if you step out of line
  1491. >Step out of the line…
  1492. >Oh Faust, what were you thinking?
  1493. >Were you really planning on taking somepony’s life just to carry out your promise?
  1494. >Looking at her in the eyes is impossible
  1495. >The shame doesn’t let you
  1496. >S-so this is it…
  1497. >The end of the line
  1498. >All that hard work for naught
  1499. >You wished Twilight was wrong
  1500. >Oh, how you wished she was wrong
  1501. >And that you were right
  1502. >That this whole thing wasn’t as morbid and wrong as it is
  1503. >That it was just a simple task
  1504. >But she’s right, she’s always right
  1505. >You can’t do this
  1506. >… Anonymous…
  1507. >How are you even going to explain this to Anon?
  1508. >You promised you’d get him to meet his match
  1509. >You promised yourself that you wouldn’t let him down… but you can’t fulfill it, this is just too much
  1510. “I… I’m sorry Twilight…”
  1511. >You can feel hot, wet trails running down your cheeks
  1512. ”I just…”
  1513. >You must look like a wreck right now
  1514. >All the buildup tension, and stress, and fear of failure that you held back during the last week tears through your emotional barrier
  1515. >Your body rocks as you can’t hold back your sobs anymore
  1516. “I’m sorry Twilight… I’m sorry Anonymous…”
  1517. >Flinching when a pair of hooves suddenly cradles your head
  1518. >You look up to see Twilight’s visage of anger gone, replaced by the shedding of her own tears
  1519. >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
  1520. >Bury your face on her chest and cry
  1522. --------------------------------------
  1524. Part 7
  1526. >You knock on the ornate crystal doors to your friend’s bedroom
  1527. “Cadance?”
  1528. >Pressing your ears against the door, you try to listen to any sound coming from inside the room
  1529. >But alas, all you get is cold silence
  1530. “Please, talk to me”
  1531. >…
  1532. >Still nothing
  1533. >You sigh loudly as you step away from door
  1534. >Be Twilight Sparkle
  1535. >Princess of Friendship
  1536. >You don’t feel very deserving of said title though
  1537. >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
  1538. >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
  1539. >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
  1540. >You’re a bit ashamed to admit it, but after she offered them you jumped at the opportunity
  1541. >It’s not every day that you gain access to ancient magic and historical records, even if they do come from a dubious source
  1542. >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
  1543. >But Cadance wasn’t, she was dead set in finding a way, anyway, to bring Anonymous and Daybreaker together
  1544. >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
  1545. >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
  1546. >That was just too much for you
  1547. >You just snapped
  1548. >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
  1549. >And the way she would try to make excuses only continued to set you off even more
  1550. >You don’t think you have ever being that angry at someone before
  1551. >You didn’t want to do it, hurting your friends is the last thing you’ll ever want to do
  1552. >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
  1553. >After your little scuffle, Cadance realized what she was about to do and broke down right in front of you
  1554. >Which in turn nearly broke your heart as you tried to comfort her
  1555. >And it all leads to this
  1556. >Cadance isolating herself in her bedroom all day for the last three days
  1557. >You’ve never seen her so… devastated before
  1558. >Even when she was a prisoner at her own wedding, she didn’t look this dejected
  1559. >She doesn’t talk to anypony, not even Shining; she only stays in her room doing nothing
  1560. >She doesn’t even come out to check on Flurry Heart, leaving all the responsibility of taking care of her foal to Shining Armor, the castle’s maids, and sometimes you
  1561. >You don’t approve of this attitude, but considering Cadance’s current state of mind, it might be for the best
  1562. >Else she ends up doing something she’ll regret because she wasn’t paying attention
  1563. >Every few hours or so you come to try and talk to her, but she never responds back
  1564. >This time it will be different though
  1565. >With a flick of your magic, you unlock the door and delicately open it, stepping into the dark room
  1566. >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
  1567. >And if it wasn’t for said light shaft, you wouldn’t see a thing in the now barely lit room
  1568. >And most importantly, you wouldn’t see Cadance’s bed, where a lump can be seen hidden under the blankets
  1569. >You trot up to the side of the bed to see her head poking out of the covers, lying softly on her pillow and staring at the covered window
  1570. “Cadance…”
  1571. >You call her out with a whisper, stepping up in front of her
  1572. >She looks up to you and…
  1573. >Oh dear
  1574. >You don’t like how depressed those eyes look
  1575. >There’s not a drop of passion in them
  1576. “Cadance, please, just talk to me”
  1577. >She looks at you for seconds that feel like minutes, before turning her back to you without saying anything
  1578. >Another sigh escape your lips as you try to think what to say next
  1579. “Look… I know how important the whole thing is for you”
  1580. “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”
  1581. “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”
  1582. >You lean forward over the bed’s edge and nuzzle the back of your friend’s head
  1583. >Her once soft and silky locks were now frazzled and filthy
  1584. >She’s even been neglecting herself, which only makes you feel worse
  1585. “But you can’t just stay here forever, hiding yourself from the rest of the world, waiting for things to solve themselves”
  1586. “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”
  1587. “I know it’s painful, but you have to move on, to accept that just this once… things aren’t meant to be”
  1588. >Her body rocks slightly as you hear her sobs
  1589. >Oh dear, you didn’t mean to make her cry
  1590. >But you can’t stop now, Cadance needs to hear this, she can’t just keep isolating herself
  1591. “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”
  1592. >You pull yourself from your friend and wait for an answer
  1593. >Something
  1594. >Anything…
  1595. >… please…
  1596. >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
  1597. >You let another sigh escape your lips
  1598. >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
  1599. >This time it wasn’t different
  1600. >Cadance looks deadest on cocooning herself in the dark and ignore everything and everypony that tries to interact with her
  1601. >You could make a sarcastic remark about how mature she was being, shutting herself in like a filly
  1602. >But you’re too upset about the whole thing to care
  1603. >No more upset than she is, that’s for certain
  1604. >Without realizing, you have already arrived at your intended destination, the bedroom you’re sharing with Starlight and Spike
  1605. >Despite telling them they were free to go back to Ponville, the both of them still decided to stay behind for you
  1606. >The thought brings a small smile to your face as you open the doors and enter your temporary chambers
  1607. >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
  1608. >“So, how did it go?” Starlight asks
  1609. >You sigh for what feels like the billionth time today, and shake your head negatively
  1610. >”Then why were you smiling just now?”
  1611. >Were you?
  1612. >Oh, Starlight must’ve seen you smiling when you entered the room
  1613. “I was smiling about something else unrelated to Cadance”
  1614. >“So Cadance is still down on the dumps, huh? That sucks”
  1615. >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
  1616. >Mangos? Manges?
  1617. >You tried reading one, but it wasn’t to your tastes, and reading from right to left was a bit jarring
  1618. >Honestly, you don’t know what Spike and Fluttershy find so fascinating about them
  1619. >Maybe one day you’ll find one that’s actually good, and find the answer to that
  1620. >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
  1621. >”If she doesn’t even want to talk, then what should we do?”
  1622. “I don’t know, Starlight”
  1623. >Deciding to lay down for a bit too, you make a beeline for your bed
  1624. “Wait, or keep trying to get an answer out of her, maybe?”
  1625. >Getting onto the bed, you plop down on your side with a pomf
  1626. “We’re bound to get to her if we keep trying, but I think she’s just getting more upset with me”
  1627. >”And why would Cadance be upset with you?”
  1628. >Spike pulls down his menga and looks at you with an inquisitive eye
  1629. >Do you even tell him what’s going on?
  1630. >Maybe you should, you trust Spike not to spit everything out to Anonymous
  1631. “Well-“
  1632. >”Twilight accidentally delayed Cadance’s plan to match Anonymous, when she wanted it to happen as soon as possible” Starlight interrupts you
  1633. >“Oh, okay then” Spike brings his mangi up
  1634. >”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
  1635. >That’s a bit rude
  1636. >You don’t screw THAT much
  1637. >… just sometimes
  1638. >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
  1639. >”I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell anypony else about what’s actually going on”
  1640. >She whispers to in your ears
  1641. >”Imagine how Anonymous would react if somepony accidentally slips their tongue and tells him he can’t be matched, just like that?”
  1642. >You suck some air through your teeth
  1643. >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
  1644. >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
  1645. >”Which is why I think you should talk to him, I’m sure you can make him understand”
  1646. >You shake your head at Starlight’s suggestion
  1647. “I would, but I think Cadance needs explain everything to him by herself” you whisper back
  1648. “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”
  1649. >Starlight nods in acknowledgement before climbing off your bed to go for her own
  1650. >Now all you have left to do is wait for dinner, with nothing in-between to keep your mind occupied from worrying about Cadance
  1651. >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
  1652. >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
  1653. >You might even do what Cadance originally intended and just burn everything down, books, lab, and all
  1654. >Your skin crawl at the mere thought of burning books on purpose, but considering their contents, it might be for the best
  1655. >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
  1656. >…
  1659. >…
  1660. >Dinner was pretty standard stuff
  1661. >You let your mind wander back to it while trotting back to your room
  1662. >You made small talk with your friends, Shining, and Anonymous while you all ate the delicious food prepared by the castle’s chefs
  1663. >Your brother and the human seemed to hit it off pretty well; they’re practically best friends now
  1664. >Hay, Shining’s even letting Anon live in the castle instead of the Inn
  1665. >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
  1666. >But throughout the week a genuine bond of friendship formed between these two
  1667. >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
  1668. >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
  1669. >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
  1670. >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
  1671. >You were about to turn a corner when
  1672. >”Twilight”
  1673. >!
  1674. >You know that voice!
  1675. >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
  1676. >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
  1677. >You don’t know what to say, you’re honestly too surprised to even see Cadance standing, let alone out of her bedroom
  1678. >But there she is
  1679. “Cadance…”
  1680. >You finally respond back, in the most cliché way possible, but you still verbally confirm you acknowledged her
  1681. >She stares at you, and looks like she’s about to say something, but stops and turns her eyes to the floor in shame
  1682. >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
  1683. >”I’m-“
  1684. “Cadance-“
  1685. >You interrupt one another
  1686. >Boy, this is awkward
  1687. >But you still raise your hoof and motion her too speak first
  1688. >Cadance moves her sight back to you, before taking a deep breath
  1689. >”I… Twilight, I’m sorry”
  1690. >Sorry?
  1691. “Sorry for what?”
  1692. >”For everything”
  1693. >She says softly, slowly stepping up in front of you
  1694. >”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…”
  1695. >You see her shivering under her skin, you’re pretty sure what she was gonna say
  1696. “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”
  1697. >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
  1698. >And without warning, you pull her into a hug
  1699. >Cadance stiffens for a second, but soon relaxes in your hold and hugs you back
  1700. “It’s okay Cadance; you just wanted what was best for Anon”
  1701. >”It’s still not an excuse for the way I acted”
  1702. >While holding you even closer, you can feel her body rocking just slightly
  1703. >The wet feeling on your shoulder is enough to tell you that she’s failing to hold back her tears
  1704. >“I… I ‘ve been thinking over what you told me earlier today”
  1705. >Your breath hitches for a second
  1706. >“And… I think you’re right”
  1707. >And you release a relived sigh
  1708. >”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”
  1709. >”It’s just like you said, Twilight, I need to move on”
  1710. >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
  1711. >“Tomorrow I’m gonna talk to Anon, and explain everything to him, and apologize for not…
  1712. >A heavy sigh escapes her lips
  1713. >“For not being able find him love”
  1714. >”I just hope he understands, and forgives me for deceiving him all this time”
  1715. >You hug your friend once again
  1716. “I’m sure he’ll understand, Cadance”
  1717. >She wraps her forelegs around my shoulders once more
  1718. >”Thank you, Twilight”
  1719. >…
  1722. >…
  1723. >Once again you find yourself in front of Cadance’s bedroom
  1724. >Yesterday night, after dinner, she told you that Anon was going to be getting the bad news the next day
  1725. >Which just so happens to be today
  1726. >As for the reason why you’re again in front of Cadance’s room?
  1727. >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
  1728. “Cadance?”
  1729. >You knock on the huge ornate doors, but you don’t hear anything
  1730. >She better not be locking herself on the room again because she’s too afraid to face her responsibilities
  1731. >With your magic you unlock the door and step inside into the dark room to see
  1732. >That it’s not actually dark
  1733. >Huh
  1734. >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
  1735. >Only thing out of place are the empty carts near the bed
  1736. >Which means Cadance kept her word!
  1737. >Nice going Cadance
  1738. >Not that you doubted her or… anything
  1739. >Hehe
  1740. >*cough*
  1741. >Anyway
  1742. >Despite telling you yesterday of her plans for today, you still expect her to be saddened over having to break Anon’s heart
  1743. >And to keep Cadance distracted from her own thoughts about the matter, you intend on finding her and spending the rest of the day with your former Foalsitter
  1744. >When you find her, that is
  1745. >Not being in her room automatically made it harder for you to track her down
  1746. >Why couldn’t she just return here after speaking to Anon? It’d be so much simpler, otherwise
  1747. >Exiting the room and locking the door behind you, you start your hunt for the Princess of Love
  1748. >First off, you go to the royal kitchen
  1749. >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
  1750. >Well, you don’t find any princess here, but you do find some delicious croissants fresh out of the oven
  1751. >You have eaten croissants before, but these ones are, to quote Rarity, simply divine
  1752. >Gotta give props to the head chef’s human match, his skills in the kitchen are top notch
  1753. >Sometimes he speaks in a language you don’t understand, and his mare gets all flustered
  1754. >Said something about the language of love
  1755. >When asked, the head chef does comments that earlier today Cadance did show up, and asked her to get her a bunch of food
  1756. >Like, a bunch of food
  1757. >A “Shitton” of food according to her husbando
  1758. >And bring it all to her room while she finished preparing herself for the day
  1759. >That explains the carts
  1760. >You knew Cadance was sort of neglecting herself, but you didn’t expect starvation of all things
  1761. >Or maybe she’s getting a lot of food to help her cope with having told Anon such depressing news?
  1762. >Letting herself go by stuffing her belly with tons of food is not exactly a good thing, even with an Alicorn’s superior metabolism
  1763. >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
  1764. >Maybe she’s gathering as much food as possible and is planning on bailing out on you?
  1765. >…
  1766. >Pffff-
  1767. “Haaaa-hahahaha!”
  1768. >You laugh out loud, scaring the two cooks out of their wits for a second there
  1769. >Yeah sure, like she’d ever do that
  1770. >Anyway, kitchen gets checked out, no Cadance in here
  1771. >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
  1772. >Where could she be now?
  1773. >The dining hall definitely not if the head chef said the food was delivered to her Cadance’s room
  1774. >Bathroom also seems to be out of question as the chef also said Cadance was preparing herself for the day ahead
  1775. >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
  1776. >Cadance did say she wanted to apologize to your brother and niece
  1777. >Shining might be busy right now, so Flurry Heart’s room it is
  1778. >Maybe you should’ve gone to your niece’s room first; it is right next to Cadance’s after all
  1779. >But your hunger spoke louder
  1780. >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
  1781. >You open the door gently, in case she’s sleeping, you don’t want to wake up the foal
  1782. >You poke your head through the big enough crack and with scam the room with your eyes
  1783. >The room is dimly lit, which makes sense if someone is indeed sleeping here
  1784. >But still no Cadance
  1785. >You could just back off and be on your way
  1786. >But since you’re here already, why not take a look at your cute little niece?
  1787. >You don’t have many chances to see her, might do it now that you’re a head into the room
  1788. >With soft steps, you walk up to the crib and look over its rail guards to see your niece sleeping adorably
  1789. >Awww
  1790. >You do your best to keep that ‘aww’ inside your head to not wake her up
  1791. >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
  1792. >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
  1793. >You know this smile, this very specific smile, Flurry Heart only smiles like this when Cadance puts her to sleep with her special lullaby
  1794. >And Cadance only sings that lullaby when she’s… leaving for an unspecified period of time
  1795. >…
  1796. >Backing away, you leave the room and gently close the door behind you
  1797. >No, this isn’t it. It definitely isn’t what you’re thinking, Twilight
  1798. >Cadance just sang the song because it has been some time she did it for Flurry Heart. Yeah, she commented she does this sometimes, not specifically for when she’s going on a trip
  1799. >Nothing to worry
  1800. >You guess you should go find Shining Armor now, if there’s anypony who definitely knows where Cadance is, it’s your big brother
  1801. >You don’t even notice your quickened pace
  1802. >The trek is a little longer this time, after all, the Royal Guard’ barracks are on the outside of the castle
  1803. >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
  1804. >So he’s most likely at the barracks, possibly with Anon
  1805. >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
  1806. >And just as you thought, there are the two of them, training in the middle of the training grounds
  1807. >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
  1808. >“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!!”
  1809. >You furrow your browns upon hearing your brother scream obscenities from afar
  1810. >Yeah, you get it, this is par for the course when in the military, but you still think this is too far
  1811. >Especially when Anon isn’t in the Royal Guard, he shouldn’t be treated like one
  1812. >Being racist, even if not serious, is still not nice
  1813. >And he just got the worst possible news a man coming to Equestria could have possibly gotten
  1814. >You quicken your pace, you need to see what’s going on, and possibly stop Shining from severing his friendship
  1815. >”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!!”
  1816. >Okay, that’s it, Shining you’re going too far there
  1817. >You finally get to the circle and start pushing aside the guards while muttering excuse me left and right
  1818. >But what is this you’re hearing? They’re cheering and urging him to do better
  1819. >”C’mon Anon, are you gonna let the Captain trash talk you like that!”
  1820. >”Don’t humans have any pride!?”
  1821. >”Only five more to finish this rep, man, you can do it!”
  1822. >”You better not lose. I’m betting good money on you winning this!”
  1823. >”No one told you to bet shit!”
  1824. >Okay, that was Anon, after you push past the guards, you see Anon doing pushups and-
  1825. >My goodness, there’s a pony the size of Big Mac lying on his back!
  1826. >“Who allowed you to talk, Anon!? Give me more twenty just for uttering a word without my permission!”
  1827. >“Fuck you Shining, I wanna see you do pushups with a big ass horse sitting on your back!”
  1828. >It takes a lot of effort, but Anon is actually, albeit very slowly, doing the push ups
  1829. >Anon looks unusually determined here
  1830. >Poor Anonymous, he must’ve taken the news pretty hard, and is trying to keep himself as distracted as possible
  1831. >While he does so, you can’t help but notice the small muscle definition of his arms
  1832. >He isn’t the fittest looking human you’ve seen. Hay, you can even say he’s a bit out of shape
  1833. >But if this is what Shining and Anon have been doing every day, then in roughly two months’ time…
  1834. >Stop licking your lips Twilight
  1835. >You’ll get your turn soon
  1836. >N-not that you want a husbando or anything, of course!
  1837. >”I can take on many Stallions on my back without flinching!!”
  1838. >A sudden wave of silence washes over the training grounds as everypony, including yourself, stare wide eyed at your brother
  1839. >Even Anon and his cargo stopped midway through his push up to look
  1840. >Shining, of course, didn’t realize until ten seconds of silence, when closed his mouth with both hooves in shock
  1841. >…
  1842. >Pffff-
  1843. >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
  1845. >The entirety of the royal guards burst out laughing, falling down, rolling, pounding the floor, you name it
  1846. >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
  1847. >Even Shining couldn’t contain himself and laughed just as hard with the rest of his soldiers
  1848. >It took the whole lot an entire minute to calm down
  1849. >With anon being chewed out by the guard who had bet on him
  1850. >Taking some deep breaths to prevent yourself from laughing all of a sudden, you trot up to Shining
  1851. “Shining”
  1852. >You call him out
  1853. >He turns your way and smile, closing in the distance between you two even faster
  1854. >”Ha-Hey there, Twily” she says between uneven laughs
  1855. “Can we talk?”
  1856. >He lifts an eyebrow but doesn’t ask anything, and shrug his shoulders in what you can only guess is a why not
  1857. >“Hey Anon, take five!”
  1858. >”Fuck off”
  1859. >Shining laughs some more, before leading you to a more secluded place a few meters away from the rest of the group
  1860. >He finally stops and turns to you, only to reel back a bit
  1861. >Probably because of the face you’re making right now
  1862. >”What?”
  1863. “So, is this how you spend most of your days with Anonymous?”
  1864. >”Of course not”
  1865. >You lift an eyebrow
  1866. >No more is needed
  1867. >”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”
  1868. >Uh-huh
  1869. >This time he looks truthful though, so you’ll give him that
  1870. >”Anyway, what is it you wanted to talk to me?”
  1871. >Oh yeah, you came here to ask where Cadance was, and you kinda forgot when watching Anonymous doing pushups
  1872. “I wanted to ask you if you’ve seen Cadance”
  1873. >”Cadance?”
  1874. >You nod
  1875. >”I haven’t seen her since I woke up this morning. She was still sleeping, why?”
  1876. >…
  1877. >What?
  1878. “Wait, so she didn’t came here today?”
  1879. >Your brother leans to the side his head in confusion and scratches his ear
  1880. >”Should she?”
  1881. >Oh boy, your bad feelings are coming back full force
  1882. >”Also, now that you touched on the subject, can you tell me why was Cadance so out of it lately?”
  1883. “W-what do you mean?”
  1884. >Please don’t make any more questions. You don’t want to lie to your brother
  1885. >”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”
  1886. “Ummm”
  1887. >Think, Twilight, think
  1888. “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”
  1889. >Please buy this, please buy this, please buy this
  1890. >”I see, so is she, like, a Princess something?”
  1891. >He’s buying it, roll with it Twilight
  1892. >“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”
  1893. >”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”
  1894. >”But why not just send Anon then?”
  1895. “Becaaaa….”
  1896. >C’mon Twilight, think of something
  1897. “…aaause she’s has to be…”
  1898. >Pick your words very carefully
  1899. “… registered by the… Crystal Heart?”
  1900. >You offer the best ‘please buy this’ smile you can make
  1901. >Which suffice to say isn’t really that great
  1902. >Your brother furrows his eyebrows, and leans forward with his head turned, making you unconsciously lean back
  1903. >Oh dear, he’s not buying it
  1904. >Stop sweating Twilight, he’s gonna smell your recently discovered deceiving nature
  1905. >”Wow Twilight, I didn’t know you knew that about the Crystal Heart”
  1906. >He smiles and leans back
  1907. >wat
  1908. >”For a moment there I thought you were hiding something from me”
  1909. >”I thought I had you with that last question, but you were spot on”
  1910. >He laughs out loud
  1911. “Yeaaaaeeh…”
  1912. >You laugh nervously, rubbing your leg with your hoof
  1913. >”Anyway, why would Cadance come down here?”
  1914. >This one you might as well tell the truth, it’s not informative enough to get him suspicious anyway
  1915. “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”
  1916. >”Oh, well, okay then, I hope she shows up later then. If not, then I’ll talk to her before we go to bed”
  1917. >You hear the joints in his neck popping as he turns it left and right before facing the group of Royal Guards
  1918. >“Now if you excuse me I have, I have an Anon to groom into the perfect husbando material for whoever this mysterious Princess is”
  1919. “Wait!”
  1920. >Your brother turns back to with an inquisitive look
  1921. “Don’t tell Anon his match is a Princess, it’s… supposed to be a surprise”
  1922. >He flashes a smirk and a hoof wave before cantering back to the group of stallions and one man
  1923. >*Sigh*
  1924. >You slowly make your way out of the barracks, dodging and waving any incoming Royal Guard that might be coming back from duty
  1925. >Once you reach the Castle your walk turns into a trot
  1926. >Which becomes a canter
  1927. >And then finally sets into full gallop
  1928. >Sprinting down the halls of the castle full speed ahead, there’s only one thing in your mind
  1929. >Sombra’s hidden lab
  1930. >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
  1931. >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
  1932. >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
  1933. “Where is it… where is it?”
  1934. >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
  1935. >And finally you read the title of the last book
  1936. >It’s gone
  1937. >They’re gone
  1938. >Your magic s grip on the books vanishes, letting them drop to the floor
  1939. >And you feel your legs go weak as you stumble onto one of the wooden shelves, using it as leverage
  1940. >The information on how to access Tartarus and the steps to the Soul Transfusion ritual are gone
  1941. “… Cadance, what have you done?”
  1943. --------------------------------------
  1945. Part 8
  1947. >“The Gates of Tartarus, the entrance to eternal confinement”
  1948. >”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 upon on them with scorn”
  1949. >”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”
  1950. >You close the book in your magic grip after reading enough and put it back inside your saddlebag
  1951. >Be Mi Amore Cadenza
  1952. >Also known as Cadance
  1953. >Also known as the Princess of Love
  1954. >And most likely to be known as utterly fucking insane from this day forth
  1955. >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
  1956. >You certainly don’t want that happening when you still need it for later
  1957. >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
  1958. >Yeah, it’s really fucking far away, if you thought Yakyakistan was far away, oh boy, you’re in for a treat
  1959. >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
  1960. >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
  1961. >Now you must be thinking? Cadance, why’d you do something so stupid?
  1962. >Well, who wants to be caught? No you, that’s who
  1963. >If you went by hoof, flying, or train, you’d easily be caught by Auntie Celestia, Auntie Luna, or Twilight
  1964. >A chill running down your spine both from the cold, and the fear of being caught red hoofed reminds you to wrap the scarf snugglier around your neck, shoulders and withers
  1965. >And you thought the ice and snowy mountains surrounding Crystal Empire were cold, this shit is even worse
  1966. >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
  1967. >Which is admittedly pretty funny when you think about it
  1968. >Now, why are you in this no pony’s land in the first place?
  1969. >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
  1970. >Find a piece of rock
  1971. >You’re gonna get in there, get a Soul Stone from the Well of Spirits, and get out
  1972. >Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?
  1973. >Ye- no, not really
  1974. >You can’t get in there, get the thingamajig, and just up and leave
  1975. >That’d be too easy, and things are never easy for this Princess of Love gone rogue
  1976. >No, you can’t because the gate only stays open for ten minutes before closing off for a month
  1977. >One. Fucking. Month
  1978. >Apparently it’s a failsafe, in case a recently convicted pony is sent to Tartarus and the Cerberus somehow fails to prevent its escape.
  1979. >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
  1980. >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
  1981. >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
  1982. >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
  1983. >Yeah, this place is definitely not for the faint of heart
  1984. >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
  1985. >Can’t keep relying on your superior Alicorn physiology, can you? Recovering faster than normal ponies is no excuse to slack
  1986. >Why first-aid kits instead of health potions, though?
  1987. >Because this isn’t a game; health potions don’t exist, what are you, dumb?
  1988. >Hopefully you won’t need to use those first-aid kits, ever
  1989. >You feel like you forgot something very important though
  1990. >But no matter how hard you try you just can’t seem to remember it
  1991. >Well, it doesn’t matter, if you can’t remember it that’s because it probably isn’t really THAT important
  1992. >As you approach the gate, you gulp down a lump in your throat as you take in its gargantuan size and intimidating presence
  1993. >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
  1994. >But from up close it’s… colossal is the only word you can come up to describe it
  1995. >It’s easily as tall as your own castle, hay, it might even be taller; you don’t doubt that
  1996. >And you got a tall ass castle, the tallest between all Princesses
  1997. >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
  1998. >And at its base, two cylindrical altar looking thingies on the corners of the gate
  1999. >They are the levers that open the gate, believe or not
  2000. >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
  2001. >You lied
  2002. >You lied to your best friend and fellow Princess right on her face
  2003. >You made her believe you truly had given up and moved on from your objective
  2004. >Only to bail out on her and leave the castle without anypony noticing
  2005. >You didn’t even say goodbye to your own husband
  2006. >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
  2007. >Not really a lie, that’s what you plan on doing, but it’s not the entire truth either
  2008. >It doesn’t make you feel any good doing it
  2009. >In fact, you feel like the biggest piece of shit
  2010. >You know Twilight is absolutely correct about everything she said
  2011. >But this is something you need to do
  2012. >You made a promise, and you plan on keeping it
  2013. >Unlike most of the human males that come through the portal
  2014. >Anon actually had a life that many would find enviable
  2015. >He had a good job that paid well
  2016. >A loving family that supported him
  2017. >Many friends to spend time with
  2018. >Yet he gave up all of that because the only thing he truly valued he was unable to obtain in his world
  2019. >True love
  2020. >Despite having a good life, he was still unhappy with it
  2021. >If Anonymous can give up on everything he had back in his world just for the chance of finding real love
  2022. >Then how can YOU just give up and tell him all he did was for naught?
  2023. >As the Princess of Love, it is your job-
  2024. >No, your obligation to help him
  2025. >You’ll gladly deal with the consequences and punishments later, after he’s united with the mare his heart is reserved for
  2026. >Taking a deep breath, you roll your shoulders and pop your neck in preparation
  2027. >Once in there, you can’t go back for a month
  2028. >You step up closer, right in-between the two cylindrical altars, and close your eyes in concentration
  2029. >You focus on your magic and two glowing tendrils of wavy mist shoot out of your horn and arc towards the altars
  2030. >You have to do just like the instructed by the book you took from Sombra’s lab
  2031. >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
  2032. >The whole process is very difficult indeed; it feels like those levers weight a ton
  2033. >If it weren’t for you being an Alicorn you don’t think you’d be capable of pulling anything at all
  2034. >Turns out the levers are also shaped like cylinders, how original
  2035. >Having the levers out and ready to be turned as instructed, you prepare for the real difficult part
  2036. “This is gonna hurt, I can feel it”
  2037. >You instinctively close your eyes as you turn the levers
  2038. >But upon hearing the clicking sound, nothing happens
  2039. >You open your eyes again to look at the altars for a moment, thinking the book was a ruse
  2040. >When it suddenly hits you
  2041. >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
  2042. >On instinct you dissolve your magic grip, and you fall on your side onto the snow, breathing heavily from your mouth
  2043. >Never before have you been so glad to wear little on the cold
  2044. >The freezing snow will cool you down
  2045. >Because by your Auntie you’re hot, and sweaty
  2046. >What was that!?
  2047. >You gulp down large quantities of air, trying to calm your breathing down as much as you can
  2048. >The book said that the gate would suck your magic, and that it would hurt, but that was something else entirely
  2049. >You can’t even describe it because it went down so fast
  2050. >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
  2051. >With your breathing finally stabilizing, you turn your eyes to the two altars
  2052. >The levers are still up, but you can see them slowly turning to their original position
  2053. >And no doubt will sink back into the altars as soon as they finish spinning
  2054. >Oh no, you’re not pulling them up again, no sir
  2055. >With shaky legs you pull yourself up to a standing position
  2056. >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
  2057. >You’re pretty sure it’s a good call to cool that thing down before opening the gate
  2058. >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
  2059. >Shut your eyes, keep yourself focused, what is your motivation?
  2060. >You’re here to get a Soul Stone, a key item in your grand scheme of uniting Anon and Daybreaker
  2061. >And you’re not letting a dumb gate prevent you from completing your objective
  2062. >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
  2063. >Wait for i-
  2064. “GUUH!!”
  2065. >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
  2066. >Celestia, it hurts so much!
  2067. >It feels like you were set on fire, everything burns on the inside
  2068. >But this time you’re prepared in both body and mind, and there’s no way this hurdle won’t be jumped over
  2069. >No matter… how much… it hurts
  2070. >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
  2071. >You can only grunt in frustration at this point; and pain too of course
  2072. >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
  2073. >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
  2074. >The snow suddenly looks so cold and inviting as well, you think you’re gonna-
  2075. >*Pomf*
  2076. >Ummm, yeah…
  2077. >Rub that face on that snow Cadance, rub it all over
  2078. >Celestia have mercy, your muscles can barely work
  2079. >Fucking muscle spasms only makes the sensation worse
  2080. >You never felt this physically and magically drained in your life
  2081. >Even when you actually had all of your magic removed from your body once
  2082. >So you’re just gonna sit here and rest for a moment
  2083. >No wonder your aunts, more specifically Auntie Luna, are in charge of opening the Gates and sending ponies to their life long prison
  2084. >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
  2085. >Shining and Starlight could probably have a go at it and succeed, but would be knocked out instantly after
  2086. >You’re so damn lucky you’re a fucking Alicorn, never before have you been so glad to be one
  2087. >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
  2088. >Aw shit, not again, you followed the procedure all the way through, that’s bullshit
  2089. >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-
  2090. >Something different?
  2091. >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, start to glow with your magic’s cyan color
  2092. >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
  2093. >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
  2094. >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
  2095. “Tartarus…”
  2096. >You speak under your breath
  2097. >You did, you actually did it, you madmare
  2098. >You opened the gates to Tartarus
  2099. >However, as much as it feels great, staying here is this freezing, yet enjoyable snow is not the smartest of ideas
  2100. >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
  2101. >Because you’re damn well sure that your Auntie is coming after you, either her or Twilight
  2102. >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
  2103. >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
  2104. >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
  2105. >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 freezing
  2106. >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
  2107. >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
  2108. >And boy, does it comes in hoofy
  2109. >You can already feel the effects of the potion taking place inside your system
  2110. >In five minutes tops you’ll be good to spam magic spells to your hearts content just like usual
  2111. >Except for long distance teleportation spells
  2112. >Those suck
  2113. >Eying the opened gate up and down, you take another deep breath in preparation
  2114. >This is it, the point of no return
  2115. >Not just physically
  2116. >If you go ahead
  2117. >If you step into that portal…
  2118. >All of your friends, who knows what you’re doing right now, will never see you in the same way ever again
  2119. >And not for the better
  2120. >Your relationship with Twilight, Starlight, and your aunts will never be the same from this point onwards
  2121. >You just hope they’ll keep it all to themselves
  2122. >Imagining Shining looking down on you with disappointment in his eyes sends shivers down your spine
  2123. >But none of it matters anymore
  2124. >You’ve made up your mind already, Cadance
  2125. >Without any more delay, you step up toward the open gates
  2126. >The time has come, and so have you
  2127. >Walking through the portal sure felt weird, like you walked through thin veil of… something
  2128. >It doesn’t look like it, but there’s an invisible, barely tangible magic field covering the entrance
  2129. >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
  2130. >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
  2131. >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
  2132. >You turn around again to look at the place you were once locked away at
  2133. >And it looks just as shitty as it did back then
  2134. >Welp, no coming back now, you’re stuck here for a month, better start searching for that Well of Spirits
  2135. >You pull the book from your saddle bag, and trek forward while reading the necessary information
  2136. > 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
  2137. “Uff”
  2138. >You put the book back and rub your forehead, only to freeze when you hear a growl
  2139. >Oh-Uh
  2140. >Looking up, there it is, none other than the three-headed dog, guardian of Tartarus, ball lover, and angry as fuck, Cerberus
  2141. >All of its three heads roar in your face, covering your face in gross giant dog drool
  2142. >But your surprise, and disgust, quickly morphs into confidence
  2143. >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
  2144. >You may be no Fluttershy, but you do have the means of temporarily dealing with this canine behemoth
  2145. >All you have to do is…
  2146. >…all you have to do is…
  2147. >You dig into the saddlebags for a bit
  2148. >Okay, where is it?
  2149. >You rummage them with your magic but you don’t find the-
  2150. >!
  2151. “Aaaargh”
  2152. >You groan out loud
  2153. >So that’s what you forgot
  2154. >The rubber ball
  2155. “Shit”
  2157. --------------------------------------
  2159. Part 9
  2161. >You’ve been in this place for… how long now? Days? Weeks?
  2162. >No, definitely not weeks, you’d know if you were stuck here for weeks
  2163. >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
  2164. >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
  2165. >A watch would come in hoofy though, at least it you give you a better grasp on time
  2166. >You’ve been wandering Tartarus for a few days now, maybe three, or four… you think
  2167. >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
  2168. >It’s all about the internal clock, they said
  2169. >When you feel sleepy, it’s most likely around nine to ten PM, which is the time you usually go to bed
  2170. >Since you slept a total of three times since you got here, then you must be on your fourth day
  2171. >You were lucky to actually find places to sleep, or rest
  2172. >Because so far every single sentient creature inside this damn place is out for your blood
  2173. >They don’t like your Aunts, like, at all
  2174. >Especially Celestia
  2175. >Before Auntie Luna’s return, Auntie Celestia was obviously in charge of condemning and banishing criminals and extremely dangerous creatures to Tartarus
  2176. >And the overwhelming majority of criminals living on Tartarus right now were banished by your Aunt
  2177. >These guys see you’re an Alicorn, and correctly assume you’re related to the Princesses in some way, much to your annoyance
  2178. >These guys don’t even care if you have never heard of them before
  2179. >They want to hurt you just to satisfy their twisted sense of “retribution”
  2180. >Which basically meant you had to split your time between four overall objectives
  2181. >Reading more information on Tartarus and the shit you need to retrieve
  2182. >Look for the Well of Spirits
  2183. >Look OUT for anypony trying to get the drop on you
  2184. >And find a safe and secluded spot to rest and/or sleep
  2185. >So far so good, nothing major has happened other than you avoiding encounters and combat at all costs
  2186. >No way you’re fighting any of those deranged psychopaths
  2187. >You may be an Alicorn, and have super pony strength and magical capabilities
  2188. >But you wouldn’t be caught dead wasting time and energy on pointless fights when you resources aren’t infinite
  2189. >Especially when they’re here for a reason, you don’t fuck with those guys
  2190. >No sir
  2191. >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
  2192. >And thankfully, you’ve managed to escape from all these lunatics
  2193. >They did gave you quite the chase though, but your wings and superior Alicorn physical prowess outlasted their normal… everything
  2194. >It also helps that while most of them are weak and starving; you’re full of energy thanks to the food you brought along
  2195. >Speaking of food
  2196. >You’ve seen some of them eying your shit
  2197. >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
  2198. >So you have to make sure nothing happens to your cargo; else you’ll truly be fucked
  2199. >Because there’s no sun and moon, there’s no such thing as booming, natural plant life
  2200. >Which means no hay, or fruits, or vegetables to eat
  2201. >Which means no fucking food at all
  2202. >Only rocks, dirt, and more rocks
  2203. >Maybe a water stream, or a lake here and there
  2204. >And then some more rocks and dirt, with the odd dead tree giving Tartarus a picturesque feel
  2205. >So, when they have no natural source of food, what do you think they do?
  2206. >Yeah
  2207. >You found out for yourself, and it wasn’t very pretty
  2208. >Not that there aren’t wild creatures living in this place ripe for the picking
  2209. >But when push comes to shove, well, just know that those fucks aren’t very picky
  2210. >You should add ‘look out to not get fucking eaten’ as the fifth overall objective
  2211. >The closest thing to a tree they’ll ever get in this place, as mentioned before, are dead trunks
  2212. >At least they’re good for making fire whenever it gets too cold
  2213. >Saves you the trouble of wasting mana by summoning actual fire
  2214. >Having a soldier for a husband sure came in hoofy
  2215. >Shining insisted on teaching you survival basics in case your magic ever failed you
  2216. >And putting those teachings to good use, you have
  2217. >No mana depletion or hunger for you
  2218. >You only hope it keeps this way till the end
  2219. >…
  2221. >…
  2222. >Shit, fuck!
  2223. “Sooo… you three gentle…gryphons looking for something?”
  2224. >Good job Cadance, you fucking done it now
  2225. >All you had to do was be on your way, keep quiet, and let nature run its course
  2226. >But noooo, you just had to go and interrupt the three dangerous and hungry gryphons from getting their prey
  2227. >All because it just happened to be youngling of whatever species your auntie banished here who got separated from its pack
  2228. >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.
  2229. >Damn your motherly instincts
  2230. >That thing is probably gonna die by itself anyway and you still put yourself in danger for it
  2231. >At least you can be relieved over the fact that you still retained a modicum of decency
  2232. >You shoot your assailants the least nervous smile you can muster
  2233. >But they sure as hay don’t care about your smiles
  2234. >The three gryphons in front of you slowly approach your cornered position
  2235. >You tried running away, but these guys are surprisingly fast
  2236. >And you bet your ass they’re even faster when flying
  2237. >And look surprisingly healthy too
  2238. >Compared to the Ponies, Minotaurs, and Changelings you’ve seen so far of course
  2239. >Damn predators and they meat based diets
  2240. >Tartarus is like an all you can eat buffet for them
  2241. >”How’s it gon be, pretty pony?”
  2242. >The gryphon in the middle asked you, stepping up closer
  2243. >”You made us lose our hard earned meal”
  2244. >Hard earned?
  2245. >That little… whatever it was, could barely outrun them
  2246. >If anything they were looking for an easy snack
  2247. >”How are ya gon compensate?”
  2248. >He punches the rock you’re corned against and-
  2249. >Holy shit, is that hole that he just made?
  2250. *gulp*
  2251. >Leans his head close to yours, and you shrink back
  2252. >Respect the personal space please
  2253. >”How did a sweetheart like ya ended up in a place like this anyway?”
  2254. >Back the fuck off!?!?
  2255. >Alright mister
  2256. >Let’s make one thing crystal clear
  2257. >Only my husband gets to call me sweetheart
  2258. “Well… what do you want?”
  2259. >You wish you’d say that to his face of course
  2260. >But igniting their wrath upon thy soul is not exactly a good strategy
  2261. >You do seem to have the element of surprise though
  2262. >They have yet to claim you’re an Alicorn, so your guess is that they haven’t noticed your wings underneath the saddlebags
  2263. >“What Ah want? Hmm, ya see, missy… we’ve been here for…”
  2264. >He snaps his talons and looks up in wonder
  2265. >”Ten years, boss”
  2266. >”Yes, ten years... bucking hay, ten years!?”
  2267. >He looks back at his partners in crime with crooked eyebrow
  2268. >Meanwhile you’re thinking how Equestrian swears sound kinda silly and try hardy compared to human swears
  2269. >Is this how you used to swear?
  2270. >Man, having humans around sure influenced your vocabulary more than you realized
  2271. >”Think so boss, s’been so long I wouldn’t doubt it”
  2272. >The ‘boss’ removes his fist from the rock wall and turns back to his companions
  2273. >“No way it has been ten years, Ah remember being kicked here by that whorse Celestia like it was yesterday”
  2274. >”I think it’s been six”
  2275. >”No one cares about what ya think, Grant”
  2276. >Oh shit, are they ignoring you?
  2277. >You look to see the three of them and they totally are ignoring you; arguing about how long they’ve been in here
  2278. >Maybe you can slip away while they’re busy being idiots
  2279. >You slink down the wall and crouch on the floor
  2280. >Gotta go stealthy
  2281. >One hoof at a time, you make it away from them as quietly as possible
  2282. >Good thing THIS time you didn’t forget to store away your regalia in the saddlebags
  2283. >You’re almost ninety percent sure they’re the reason you were immediately assumed to be related to your aunts
  2284. >But now that you don’t have them on, they can’t tell shit because your wings are hidden under your bags
  2285. >Now all you have to do is sneak OUT!!-
  2286. >“And where do ya think you’re going, sweetheart?”
  2287. >Something pulls you by the tail, and soon enough a claw grabs your side and turns you around on your back
  2288. >Now you’re staring at three gryphon faces hovering over you
  2289. >“Did we allow ya to leave? Ah don’t think so, there’s still a lost dinner to be paid”
  2290. >”Lunch, boss”
  2291. >“Shut yer trap, Gilver”
  2292. >”Shutting up, boss”
  2293. >”Now…”
  2294. >He brings a claw to your face and slowly caresses your cheek
  2295. >You can’t help but shiver in pure disgust
  2296. >His touch just reeks of…
  2297. >Malice? Perversity?
  2298. >Shit, you can barely even describe it
  2299. >It just feels so wrong
  2300. >”… how’re ya gon make it up to us?”
  2301. >His claw traces your neck, and slowly climbs down to your chest
  2302. >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
  2303. >Hopefully his underling aren’t as strong, it’d be a bitch to fight off that strength times three if a brawl happens
  2304. >And no matter how hard you can hit with those hooves, even as an Alicorn, a hooffight with a gryphon is plain stupid
  2305. >Also, you’re pretty sure those claws ain’t there just to look menacing
  2306. >So you decide for the next course of action
  2307. >You don’t care if you’ll waste mana anymore
  2308. >Teleporting your ass out of here is far more important than picking a fight
  2309. “Well, for starters…”
  2310. >You give the three of them the sultriest smirk you can muster
  2311. >And immediately they fall head over heels for you
  2312. “… I’m not giving you shit”
  2313. >You horn glows the usual cyan color as you prepare to teleport the hay away from here
  2314. “Ta-TaAAAh!”
  2315. >OOOW, YOUR HORN!
  2316. >”Do ya think we’re stupid, missy?”
  2317. >Kinda, yeah
  2318. >You mean, the three dumb-dumbs have yet to notice your cargo
  2319. >One would think the first thing they’d be doing is inspect the saddlebags
  2320. >You hiss and groan, the grip on your horn getting tighter
  2321. >Feeling your body head and body move up, you can only assume he’s pulling your head to his eye level
  2322. >You open one shaky eye lid to see the leader of the bird trio leaning closer to your face
  2323. >”We crossed paths with plenty o’ Unicorns before, we know ya can’t use yer fancy, schmancy magic with a hurtin’ horn”
  2324. >Of all the things they could’ve known…
  2325. >A unicorn’s weakness just had to be one of them
  2326. >How you wish ascension would negate that, but nope, still sensitive as a motherfucker
  2327. >”And we also know they don’t work for quite a few days after they’re broken”
  2328. >What!?
  2329. >No!
  2331. *CRACK*
  2333. >The yell could be heard from a mile away as you scream your lungs out in pain
  2334. >You hit the floor, cradling your head and rolling into a ball as soon as the gryphon lets go of your horn
  2335. >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
  2336. >By Celestia… it hurts so much
  2337. >He didn’t even snap it
  2338. >Only squeezed until it cracked, but it feels a dagger was plunged right into your skull
  2339. >Why didn’t you just teleport when they we bickering? You fucking mongoloid bitch
  2340. >You were trying to save mana, now you can’t use magic at all
  2341. >You hear laughter to your right, and before you can react, a claw holds your throat and forces your head against the floor
  2342. “What are you *guh* gonna do to me?”
  2343. >You ask between grunts
  2344. >Your breath hitches the moment you feel the tip of his claws on your throat, poised to tear your artery out
  2345. >”Ah don’t know… hmmm?“
  2346. >As if feigning indecisiveness, he cups his beak with his free claw and hums in mock wonder
  2347. >Wrapping your hooves around his front leg, you try to pry his claw off of your throat
  2348. >Unfortunately, all you succeed at is making him squeeze your throat even tighter
  2349. >”What should ah do, boys?”
  2350. >”Let’s eat her boss, she’s got a lot of meat on those flanks”
  2351. >Fuck *guh* off
  2352. >Your ass… is not that fat
  2353. >”Indeed she does”
  2354. >Your skin crawls in disgust the moment you feel something sharp rubbing your flank
  2355. >Keep that claw… for yourself
  2356. >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
  2357. >”But I think it’d be a waste to just eat her”
  2358. >Celestia dammit!
  2359. >He keeps caressing your flank
  2360. >His intentions are crystal clear from his touch alone, and it sends a shiver down your spine
  2361. >Motherfucker’s just deliberately stalling at this point
  2362. >Reveling on your increasing horror
  2363. >You try struggling your way out
  2364. >But wrestling under theirs grips is useless, all the two of them do in response is hold you down tighter
  2365. >”What is this, don’t like when Ah touch you there?”
  2366. “Fuck… you…”
  2367. >Cursing him between your breaths probably won’t sound any intimidating
  2368. >But fuck him, you needed to let that out of your system
  2369. >He raises an eyebrow, but soon enough an infuriation smirk forms on his beak
  2370. >”Ah don’t know what that word means, but thank ya kindly”
  2371. >You keep it to yourself, not like any words are going to affect him anyway
  2372. >A glare is all you’re allowed to do when there’s a sharp claw ready to rip your throat open at any moment
  2373. >”How about robbing her, boss?”
  2374. >”Robbin’ her?”
  2375. >This bird bitch was lusting so hard he still didn’t notice the saddlebags?
  2376. >That just makes you struggle even further, making them hold you down tighter in response
  2377. >”Oh yeah, she does have them saddlebags”
  2378. >”Maybe later, we take them after we’re done with her”
  2379. >Oh, you’re so glad they’re gonna loot your potential corpse
  2380. >Makes you feel that much better
  2381. >“Let’s play with her”
  2382. >The third gryphon of the group speaks out loud
  2383. >You don’t like the implications of his suggestion
  2384. >”Oho, that does sound like a good idea”
  2385. >No it doesn’t, you bird fuck
  2386. >”It’s been some time since we played with a pony as pretty as our little sweetheart here, has it not?”
  2387. “Let go of me, you creep!”
  2388. >You try struggling again, but the gryphon with the wonderful idea of playing with you grabbed your front legs
  2389. >Forcing them onto the ground just like your hind legs
  2390. >And now you’re completely restrained, no amount of struggle is enough to free yourself
  2391. >”Nu-uh, sweetheart”
  2392. >He leans down while you do your best to lean your head back
  2393. >His stupid looking beak almost touching your lips
  2394. >You can even smell the horrible stench coming from his beak
  2395. >“You reap what ya sow”
  2396. >He lets go of your neck with a laugh, leaning back and circling you
  2397. >Your eyes follow his movements like an eagle; unfortunately you’re not in the position to strike like one
  2398. >You’re at the mercy of these three, and only a miracle will help you when you can’t even use any spells
  2399. >”Now”
  2400. >He stops by the underling holding your hind legs down
  2401. >“Let’s inspect the goods, shall we, boys?”
  2402. >Your breath stops in your throat the moment your legs are pulled up and spread apart
  2403. >Oh, nonononono
  2404. >Hay no!
  2405. >C’mon Cadance, you’re an Alicorn for Celestia’s sake, you shouldn’t be this easily overpowered
  2406. >What’s the point of being one if you can’t even defend yourself!?
  2407. “Nnnnnrgh!”
  2408. >Your grunts permeate the air while you wrestle with the gryphon for control over your legs
  2409. >Thank Luna you have a tail covering your private bits
  2410. >Those are for Shining’s eyes only, you stupid bird
  2411. >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 claws
  2412. >Each only pulling a leg is… cheating
  2413. “AaaaaaAAAAAARGH!!”
  2414. >With all the strength you can muster, you yank your legs out of their grips and buck them right in the kisser
  2415. >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
  2416. >That was no miracle, but you take what you can get
  2417. >Finally, freedom, now all you gotta do is turn around and book it the- Fuck!
  2418. >“Where do ya think you’re going, sweetheart?”
  2419. >He-you-what!?
  2420. >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?
  2421. >That’s bullshit!
  2422. >And it seems he wasn’t the only one, the rest of the crew started circling around you as well
  2423. >Having your surroundings blocked off by deranged gryphons isn’t an ideal circumstance by a long shot
  2424. >You might end up having to reveal your Alicorniness to them if you intend of losing them
  2425. >Or maybe not
  2426. >If you play it smart, you can lose them and fly the fuck away before they see your wings
  2427. >Yeah, let’s go with that for now
  2428. >”Look out boys, this sweetheart here’s packin’ quite a buck on those pretty little hooves of hers”
  2429. >You take a hesitant step back after hearing the boss
  2430. >Whenever he opens his mouth to call you sweetheart you just feel yourself getting sicker
  2431. >”But ya know, I don’t mind it one bit”
  2432. >He chuckles, slowly making his way up to your position in the center of their formation
  2433. >“Huntin’ down prey is always more… satisfactory, when they fight back, ain’t it boys?”
  2434. >He licks his beak, making you shudder for what feels like the millionth time
  2435. >You gulp down the lump in your throat, eyes darting left and right, anticipating any incoming movement
  2436. >On instinct, you turn your head after hear scraping, and see one of them… scratching the rock floor?
  2437. >But why-
  2438. “Gahh!”
  2439. >Your entire body is sent flying off after a sharp pain on your side
  2440. >The tackling gryphon wraps his front legs around your torso and pushes you onto the ground
  2441. >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
  2442. >And immediately leans your head back, dodging a claw swipe intended on ripping your face out of your skull
  2443. >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
  2444. >Then you high tail the fuck out of there
  2445. >”What the-!“
  2446. >You’re better off trying to outrun these three, staying for a straight up fight is just stupid, they’re gonna eat you alive
  2447. >”Runnin’ won’t help you sweetheart, ya already tried, remember!?”
  2448. >Yes it will, just wait and see
  2449. >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
  2450. >Powerful wing beats reach make your ears twitch, and you turn your head just enough to see the trio taking flight
  2451. >Nice, it’s not like you needed more shit to deal with or something
  2452. >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
  2453. >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
  2454. >Whatever, second killer bird avoided, you turn your head back anticipating the nex-
  2455. >Wait, wasn’t there supposed to be a third one?
  2456. >Your question is answered the moment you look back forward, and your face meets with a clenched fist head on
  2457. “Uuagh!”
  2458. >Your body is sent reeling back, twisting in the air before sliding on the rock floor and littering your coat with scrapes and scratches
  2459. >You feel something leaking out of your nose as well, but time to check wounds is a luxury you don’t have
  2460. >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
  2461. >A shadow and a war cry warn you of the danger from above and behind respectively
  2462. >Looking up, you see the third gryphon dive bombing your way with his front legs and claws outstretched for a piercing attack
  2463. >And behind you the first one you jumped over is on his way to grab you
  2464. >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
  2465. >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
  2466. >Thank Celestia for having a soldier for a husband
  2467. >You’re never skipping Shining’s self-defense lessons ever again
  2468. >”This one’s quite tricky to catch, ain’t it boys? I’m actually having fun for once”
  2469. >If this is his idea of fun, then you’d hate to see what isn’t
  2470. >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
  2471. >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
  2472. >And near it there’s a big rock formation, just wide and tall enough to keep you hidden
  2473. >If you play your cards right, you can use the formation as cover to make them think you accidentally ran straight into the chasm
  2474. >Hopefully your acting skills are up to snuff
  2475. >With a reinvigorated drive, you speed up your gallop, trying to keep as much distance as you can from these bastards
  2476. >Lucky for you, they look very confident in their abilities to immediately give chase
  2477. >Just a little more, you’re almost there
  2478. >There!
  2479. >It’s showtime
  2480. >You turn your head back and give them the most terrified face you can muster before booking it even faster while still looking back
  2481. >You reach the rock formation and instantly turns, getting out of their sights for the moment
  2482. >Stopping on your tracks, you continue to run in place, softening your clip clops until
  2483. “AAAAAAAAAAA-“
  2484. >”What the-!”
  2485. >You hear the signal
  2486. >Quickly freeing your wings from behind the saddlebags, you take flight while still screaming and land on a higher perch in the formation
  2487. “-AAAaaaaaaaaaa-”
  2488. >Keep up the show Cadance, lower your tone believably
  2489. >Below you, the gryphons fly past the formation straight to the chasm, landing on the edge of the cliff and looking down
  2490. “-aaaaaaa….. suckers”
  2491. >You whisper the last bit, allowing yourself a smirk
  2492. >It’s well deserved, now all you gotta do is turn around and-
  2493. >“Ah agree”
  2494. >Wha-!
  2495. >Turning your head rewards you with a rock shattering punch to the face
  2496. “GAAARGH!”
  2497. >You yell as your body rockets straight towards the gryphons at the chasm
  2498. >You hit the floor head first, unable to right yourself as your body flails and rolls uncontrollably
  2499. >From the corner of your eyes you see a jutted rock approaching and close them instinctively
  2500. >But instead of feeling pain you feel a bump and your rolling slows down into a slide
  2501. >Opening your eyes you see your saddlebag sitting there, right on the edge of the cliff
  2502. >Nonononono
  2503. >Don’t you dare let that bag fall Cadance; you can’t afford to lose your rations
  2504. >Crawling as fast as you can, you reach the edge and stretch your hoof just in time…
  2505. >To see the bag’s weight pull it down the chasm
  2506. >You look down with a stretched foreleg, watching in despair the bag falls into the darkness below
  2507. >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
  2508. >Half of your shit
  2509. >Gone
  2510. >…
  2511. >M-maybe you can still salvage it?
  2512. >You do have wings. You can go down there right?
  2513. >Of course you can, just go down, and pick anything that’s still salvageable and fly back u-
  2514. “Uff!”
  2515. >Somepony grabs a hooffull of your mane and pushes your head down onto the ground
  2516. >”Who’d thought the pretty pink pony was an Alicorn?”
  2517. >The gryphon the pulls your head so hard it spins your entire body onto your back
  2518. >”Ya know, this makes things a little bit different, sweetheart”
  2519. >He straddles over your torso, his front legs blocking you from rolling left or right
  2520. >”It was Celestia who put us in this here prison, and ah hate her for it”
  2521. >He brings one of his claw to your face and clenches it in anger, his knuckles cracking from the intensity
  2522. >“And ya remind me of her right now, which is pisses me off”
  2523. >He moves his claw to your side and grabs your wing, stretching it full and takes a good, long look at it
  2524. >”Ya know, ah always hated pony wings, especially Celestia’s massive wings”
  2525. >He clenches your feathers in his claws
  2526. >“If it wasn’t enough to rule the lands, yall ponies want to rule the skies too. Well…”
  2527. >You don’t like the tone of his voiAAAA-
  2528. “-AARGH!”
  2529. >”The skies are gryphon territory”
  2530. >He yanked off your primary feathers, the bastards…
  2531. >Now your plan of salvaging your stuff is shot
  2532. “AA-NNNRGH!”
  2533. >You block the scream by clenching your teeth
  2534. >”Make sure you remember that”
  2535. >You didn’t even see him moving for your other wing
  2536. >Shit, shit, shit
  2537. >Now you’re magicless, and flightless
  2538. >Good job, Cadance, you fucking dumb bitch
  2539. >”Now, ah think it’s time to play, ain’t it, sweetheart?”
  2540. >You pull all the snot on your nose and spit a good gross ass one on his face
  2541. >It’s even mixed with your blood from that sucker punch he gave you
  2542. >Fuck him, and fuck everything, you don’t care anymore
  2543. “I would rather die than let you have me, you psychopath”
  2544. >He gives off a deep chuckle before rubbing off the spit, probably thinks your reaction was funny
  2545. >”Well, ah can arrange that for ya, after we’re done here of course”
  2546. >His claw snaps to your neck and chokes you down
  2547. “Guh…”
  2548. >”Now, be a dear and stay still”
  2549. >Fuck, shit, is this it?
  2550. >It can’t just end like this, you have a mission dammit
  2551. >But… it’s not like you can escape now
  2552. >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
  2553. >…
  2554. >You take the chasm
  2555. “Nnnnngh”
  2556. >”Ah ah ah, trying to jump down?”
  2557. “Anything is better than being here with you three”
  2558. >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
  2559. >“How could ya say somethin’ like that? After all we’ve been through together”
  2560. >He starts chuckling to himself, and soon enough his underlings join him before he starts with the real evil laugh
  2562. >He and his underlings stop in confusion when the ground floor beneath their feet and claws starts rumbling
  2563. >They look at each other, wondering what’s going on and what could be making the floor shake
  2564. >An then you hear it
  2566. >Like a thunderclap, a powerful roar the entire stretch of land, scaring all of you out of your wits
  2567. >And before anyone can even react properly, a massive black mass sprouts from the chasm below
  2568. >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…
  2569. >A-and…
  2570. >…
  2571. >Oh shit…
  2572. >You can’t stop your jaw from opening dumbly
  2573. >It’s… a Tatzlwurm
  2574. >But different, bigger, a hay of a lot bigger… and scarier
  2575. >That thing is as long as the gate you crossed
  2576. >And it isn’t even all of it; the rest is hidden inside the chasm
  2577. >A different breed?
  2578. >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
  2579. >Is this the type of creatures your Aunt banished to this place?
  2580. >Oh Celestia, now you’re fucked for real
  2581. >“What in tarnation…?”
  2582. >The gargantuan worm looks at the four of you starring dumbing with your jaws wide open and eyes screaming with horror
  2583. >Then it roars once again, opening it’s disgusting maw and shooting out three tentacles to your group
  2584. >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
  2585. >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
  2586. >Because these have tiny hooks all around them
  2587. >As if the thing wasn’t scary enough, it needed those to terrify you even further
  2588. >The giant worm pulls the three screaming gryphons from you and onto the air
  2589. >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
  2590. >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
  2591. >Before you can even try to make sense of it, the unintelligible yells you heard were replaced by piercing screeches of pain
  2592. >Your eyes widen in shock and horror as they witness the tentacles twisting his body before ripping it apart into wet chunks
  2593. >A fountain of blood and guts spills out; and all you can do only watch in paralyzing fear
  2594. >Holy shit!
  2595. >Holy fuck you’re gonna die!
  2596. >Why didn’t you listen to Twili-
  2597. >NO!
  2598. >This was your choice, and it was for a good cause
  2599. >Your only regret should be not finishing your mission
  2600. >And that’s the only regret you feel right now
  2601. “Aah!”
  2602. >You yelp on instinct when something wet hits your head and body, forcing you out of your current train of thought
  2603. >You shouldn’t busy yourself with internal monologues. You have to get the fuck out of here!
  2604. >Just fucking stand up and book it, run as fast as you can while that thing is busy…
  2605. >You shiver
  2606. >… tearing your would be rapists to shreds
  2607. >Even if they were fucked in the head, you wouldn’t wish this kind of fate on anypony
  2608. >So you run, you run as fast as you can, faster than you have ever ran before
  2609. >Your hard breath hurts, your legs burn, your head’s pounding, everything fucking sucks, but you can’t stop running
  2610. >You need to at least find somewhere to hide, somewhere no one will find you, and where you’ll stay safe
  2611. >You don’t even know if the Tatzlwurm is following you or not, because you’re too terrified at it to look back
  2612. >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
  2613. >You lean your head on the rock, and tries to stabilize your erratic breathing and taking big gulps of air along with it
  2614. >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
  2615. >And after looking around it for something useful, you find a crack on the side, just big enough for you to fit in
  2616. >You enter by walking backwards into the crack, and squeeze yourself deep into the hole
  2617. >Your sight is limited only to the crack you came from, where a soft light shaft cuts through it
  2618. >And finally, finally, you allow yourself to properly rest
  2619. >And… and…
  2620. >… you can’t stop the tears from sliding down your cheeks
  2621. >Dammit, what the hay was that!?
  2622. >You just tried to save a baby creature, how did everything go so wrong?
  2623. >Your horn is useless were almost raped, and then a monster comes out of nowhere and just kills everything in front of you
  2624. >You…
  2625. >You wanna go home…
  2626. >Back to your husband… back to your daughter… back to your friends
  2627. >You close your eyes and sob to yourself, trying to find comfort in the safety of your hole
  2628. >You don’t know for how long you cried, but you feel a little bit better now
  2629. >Auntie always did say crying when you’re sad makes you feel better, even if a little
  2630. >You bring a hoof up and rub the tears off your cheeks, finally allowing yourself to open your ey-
  2631. >…
  2632. >Wha-
  2633. >Red?
  2634. >You look at your hoof, and then you bring the other, and it too is red
  2635. >Oh dear
  2636. >You turn your head down and that’s enough to get your breathing all erratic all over again
  2637. >Everywhere…
  2638. >Everywhere you look on your body… it’s covered in… blood and bits
  2639. >The once pink coat is now covered in a thick crimson layer of blood…
  2640. >And just like that the images of the three gryphons being torn to pieces in a vicious showcase of gore comes back full force
  2641. >How the hooks pierced their bodies
  2642. >A-and their screams of agony as the Tatzlwurm slowly twisted them until they were ripped apart
  2643. >And then… and then
  2644. >Their guts and blood showering your body… the part you didn’t remember because you were petrified with fear
  2645. >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
  2646. >Covering your coat with a another layer of viscous liquid, only a sick brown, instead of a vivid crimson
  2647. >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-
  2648. *Thud*
  2650. --------------------------------------
  2652. Part 10
  2654. “Hmmm…”
  2655. >What… happened?
  2656. >Why were you sleeping in this tight crack in the wall?
  2657. >Why does your head hurt so much?
  2658. >Why does your wing hurt so much?
  2659. >And why are you so hungry all of a sudden?
  2660. >You close your eyes and yawn the sleep away, rubbing your eyelids with a hoof
  2661. >Funny, you don’t remember your hoof feeling this crusty
  2662. >Opening your eyes, your heart stops at the sight in front of you
  2663. >Red?
  2664. >No…
  2665. >Dull crimson on your hoof
  2666. >And just like that, the images of your last run in with the locals pick that moment to start flooding your head
  2667. >The gryphons
  2668. >The attack
  2669. >The Tatzlwurm
  2670. >And…
  2671. >A-and…
  2672. >You bring your other shaky hoof up and see that both of them caked in a crusty layer of blood and your own puke
  2673. >A sudden wave of nausea courses through your body, and forces you to gulp down more of your insides rising up your throat
  2674. >You remember everything now
  2675. >And the feeling of utter despair and dread you felt back then makes itself alive in your heart once more
  2676. >You breathing become shallower and you can’t stop shaking as you lean against the initially cold walls of the hole
  2677. >They feel strangely very warm and inviting as you try to find comfort in them
  2678. >What the name of Celestia have you gotten yourself into?
  2679. >Just how stupid have you been to think you could just waltz into Tartarus like that?
  2680. >You nearly got yourself… violated… and killed in a single day
  2681. >Is this what you signed up for? Pain and suffering?
  2682. >It all just comes crashing down on you
  2683. >You…
  2684. >You don’t want to be here anymore
  2685. >This is too much
  2686. >You are lost and scared
  2687. >Your horn and wings will be useless for at least three weeks to come
  2688. >And half of your rations are lost
  2689. >You want to go home
  2690. >Go back all the way you came from and wait for the gate to unseal itself so you can open it
  2691. >Back to your husband, your daughter, to your friends and your kingdom
  2692. >Back to your usual routine of ruling the Crystal Empire and matching couples
  2693. >Hopefully, after you get out of this place, you can beg Aunt Celestia and Twilight to forgive you for your transgressions
  2694. >You doubt they’d be easily persuaded, especially after you lied and broke Twilight’s trust
  2695. >But you’re sure if you showed them how truly sorry you are, they won’t punish you so hard
  2696. >Maybe a month in the dungeons
  2697. >Or having your Princess status temporarily revoked
  2698. >You deserve it; you ignored their pleas and went on this stupid mission anyways
  2699. >You’ll take anything they’ll throw at you, it doesn’t matter
  2700. >What matters is that you’re getting out of here right now
  2701. >With a grunt, you push yourself off the wall, and slowly crawl out of the hole that have kept you safe
  2702. >As soon as you get out of the confined space, you lose your balance and fall down muzzle first onto the floor
  2703. “Uugh”
  2704. >Feeling something trickling down your nose and onto your lips, you lick whatever it is to feel the metallic flavor of blood on your taste-buds
  2705. >You rub your nose with your hoof and yep, it’s blood alright, at least it’s yours, and not somepony else’s
  2706. >Grunting in exertion, you manage to push yourself back to a standing position
  2707. >A slight wobble prevents you from staying completely still, forcing you to constantly find your hoofing, unless you wanna kiss the floor again
  2708. >Celestia, for how long were you asleep?
  2709. >All your legs feel weak, like you haven’t been active for days
  2710. >Hay, that might even be the reason why you feel this frail
  2711. >You have been unconscious for at least over a day, of that you’re sure
  2712. >If you plan on making your way back, getting the feel of your legs is a priority
  2713. >Bumping into a threat while wobbling around like a drunk won’t help you
  2714. >At this point your stomach also reminds you that you are, in fact, hungry from the meals you skipped while you were conked out
  2715. >So not only is your body weak, but you’re also hungry
  2716. >Good thing you magicked the saddlebags with a preservation spell, wouldn’t want your food going bad, now, would you?
  2717. >And you can try to fix your two issues just by eating something
  2718. >And that’s what you do, you fill your stomach, and right after you walk laps around the rock you spent what you assume to be two to three days in there to get the feel on your legs back
  2719. >As much as you wanted to stuff your face, you’ll have to go easy on the food
  2720. >Half of your rations are gone, so you can’t have a regular sized meal
  2721. >You’ll have to get used to eating more meager portions, or else you risk wasting it all before getting out of this shithole
  2722. >You stop your laps and get a feel of your legs, give them a feel shakes and stomp on the ground
  2723. >They’re not wobbling anymore, nor is the rest of your body
  2724. >Good
  2725. >That means it’s now time to get out of here
  2726. >Fuck this place
  2727. >You’re not staying here anymore time than necessary to make your way back
  2728. >And with your mind set, you set out toward the same way you came from
  2729. >Making sure to avoid at all costs the chasm
  2730. >One run in with that Tatzlwurm is more than enough for you
  2731. >Surprisingly, retreading your steps through the long stretch of ground has so far given you no problems
  2732. >Especially considering how crazy this place is
  2733. >No lunatics showing up
  2734. >No wild monsters wanting to tear you apart
  2735. >Just you, your stuff, and a bunch of nothing
  2736. >And that’s how it goes for the next one, or two days, you guess
  2737. >After sleeping for so long, your internal clock is all jumbled and you can’t make heads or tails of what is night and day anymore because of it
  2738. >After all, there are not day and night cycles in Tartarus, only… whatever red sky means
  2739. >And you hadn’t felt tired of sleepy for quite some time after waking up in that rock
  2740. >So you’re gonna say one day, because you had to and sleep once
  2741. >It’s still surprising that nothing has showed up
  2742. >Your only guess as to why, is the Tatzlwurm
  2743. >That thing is massive, and pretty much impossible to miss
  2744. >Anyone with half a brain would stay clear of this place after seeing that monstrosity pop out of the chasm
  2745. >And if they somehow missed seeing it, they certainly heard, or felt, its earth-quaking roar and took is a signal to stay the hay away
  2746. >So, here you find yourself
  2747. >Crossing the deserted plains of that stretches for miles upon miles
  2748. >Luckily for you, you remember the direction which you came from
  2749. >This place may not have a sun, or a moon, or stars
  2750. >But it does have a pattern in its fake sky
  2751. >And following that pattern you can keep track of your position, and the direction you came from
  2752. >One of the perks of being taught by your aunt
  2753. >Celestia’s no Auntie Luna, but she knows her stuff when it comes to celestial bodies and using the sky and stars to navigate oneself
  2754. >Meaning all you have to do is keep using the pattern in the sky to guide you back to the path you took to come down here in the first place
  2755. >Pretty simple stuff for yo-
  2756. >Your ears suddenly swivel to the sides and you stop dead on your tracks
  2757. >You hear something in the distance
  2758. >Turning a few more times, they finally stop at a specific direction and you hear what sounds like galloping, probably a pony, and something else
  2759. >Not wanting to be in the end of a beating or even worse, you quickly scan your surroundings for anything that can be used to hide
  2760. >In this flat terrain, you find a rock about the size of a bear, lying sideways on the hard floor a few yards away from your position
  2761. >With nothing better to use as cover, you dash to the rock, jumping over and hiding behind it, lying flat against the floor, with your back pressing against the rock
  2762. >You wait a few moments, just listening closely to the sounds your constantly swiveling ears are capturing
  2763. >The galloping sounds, and whatever is following its source, get closer and closer to where you’re hiding
  2764. >Your breathing quickens and your already terrified heart rate accelerates even more in response, beating against your chest in anticipation
  2765. >And a powerful sigh escape your lips the moment the volume of the sounds starts getting lower, possibly telling you that whatever was making them are now moving away
  2766. >If you keep bumping into shit like this, your poor heart won’t stand the pressure, forever living or not
  2767. >Taking a few deep breaths to slow down your racing heart, you decide to peek over your cover, in the overall direction of where your ears are pointing toward
  2768. >You want to see the source of those sounds
  2769. >It takes some time to see it, but there it was
  2770. >As you assumed, in the distance you see a pony, a stallion, desperately running for his life
  2771. >He’s trying to widen the gap between him and a pack of creatures resembling Timberwolves
  2772. >Only these timberwolf look-alikes were skeletons rather than wood monsters, with a bright red core inside their ribcages, each bigger than a Manticore
  2773. >Despite the fear immediately running up your spine at the sight of the terrifying timberwolf look-alikes, your heart still racing heart immediately tells you to help
  2774. >And as expected, your body reacts to the commands instantly as you jump out of your cover
  2775. >…
  2776. >Or that’s what you believe is what would happen
  2777. >Your heart screams for you to move, to go help the stallion
  2778. >But your frozen body refuses to listen to it
  2779. >Choosing instead to listen to your head, as your mind play back images of the events you went through but days ago, over and over again, like a broken record
  2780. >Images of the conflict you found yourself in, a consequence of you following your heart and sense of morals
  2781. >The gryphons
  2782. >The chase and the fight
  2783. >The worm
  2784. >And…
  2785. >You feel a shiver run down your spine, making your whole body tremble in fear
  2786. >All of them come back highlighted front and center in your mind
  2787. >As if it was a big glowing sign, telling you in bold, bright red letters
  2788. >”DON’T”
  2789. >Preventing you from moving a muscle toward the running stallion
  2790. >Instead, you find yourself slowly standing up and moving backwards, away from the attack taking place
  2791. >You’ll still see them if you walk backwards though, so you turn around and start walking away
  2792. >Your steps are slow and heavy, and more than once you have to fight yourself to turn around and help the stallion
  2793. >Ignore it Cadance, just ignore it
  2794. >Remember the last time you tried to help somepony
  2795. >Remember that your Aunts only locks criminals and dangerous creatures in this place
  2796. >Helping isn’t worth risking your life
  2797. >Especially if he decides to chase you after saving him
  2798. >There’s no predicting what might happen
  2799. >So, go straight Cadance
  2800. >Just keep on going an-
  2801. >”Somepony, please help me!”
  2802. >You hear the terrified screams in the distance, and do your best to ignore it
  2803. >Shaking your head, and willing yourself to continue your way without interruptions
  2804. >It becomes harder and harder as the stallion continues to plea for help with bloodcurdling yells of desperation
  2805. >Each leg feels like it weighs a ton, and your walking speed grows slower with each step
  2806. >You mustn’t stop, keep pushing forward Cadance
  2807. >You cringe and shut your eyes tight on instinct when you hear the sound of pure agony followed by deathly silence
  2808. >But without missing a beat, you keep trudging forward
  2809. >You… you’ve learned your lesson the last time
  2810. >If you want to make it out of here alive, to see your husband, and your daughter… and your friends again
  2811. >You… have to think for yourself and ONLY yourself
  2812. >Self-preservation is your top priority
  2813. >A-and, you mustn’t cry either
  2814. >Never forget it Cadance
  2815. >Your legs buckle and collapse under your weight, making you fall down on your knees
  2816. >Where you proceed to cover your face with your hooves, trying futilely to stop your tears
  2817. >Never forget it
  2818. >…
  2820. >…
  2821. >It’s been… two days, you believe
  2822. >Two days since you ignored the stallion begging for help
  2823. >Two days since you’ve been traveling your way back and avoiding encounters as much as possible
  2824. >And two days since you’ve started to lose empathy for this place
  2825. >The last two days have been taxing on your mind and feelings
  2826. >After all, you have never left anyone to just die before
  2827. >Good or bad, your aunt taught you everyone is important and worth saving or helping
  2828. >But you guess she didn’t count Tartarus
  2829. >Or maybe YOU didn’t count Tartarus
  2830. >Those teachings were so ingrained in your head you didn’t even take into account that there is a reason why all these ponies and thousands of other living beings are stuck here in the first place
  2831. >And you had to learn the hard way
  2832. >And learning the hard way is never good for the mental health of somepony
  2833. >Especially when this somepony have their ideas and life lessons flipped on their heads like you had
  2834. >Now you just… don’t care anymore
  2835. >All you want is to go home, beg your aunt for forgiveness, and live your life with your husband and daughter, and matching couples that doesn’t involve doing any of this shit
  2836. >You’ll take any punishment your aunt will dish out
  2837. >You’re sure Celestia is incredibly mad with you; and for good reason too
  2838. >Your only hope is that regretting your decision, giving up and begging for forgiveness will lessen your punishment
  2839. >At the very least, you can take solace in the fact that it will all end soon, punishment or not
  2840. >The way back has also been rather uneventful
  2841. >Not a lot happened
  2842. >Which works wonderfully for you
  2843. >You don’t want to be facing any monsters or lunatics again
  2844. >At least not so soon
  2845. >And you hope it continues that way till the end, as farfetched as that sounds
  2846. >But even if there are no prisoners or monsters out here
  2847. >There’s still one problem you’re currently facing right now
  2848. >Something you ended up forgetting with all the mess that’s been happening around you lately
  2849. >You forgot that to reach this place you flew down pretty tall cliff
  2850. >So now you find yourself starring down at said cliff in front you
  2851. >Looking to your left and right only rewards you with more cliff
  2852. >Going into the horizon, stretching wide as far as the eye can see, and probably even more than that
  2853. >Wider than the cliff is tall
  2854. >So you got two options, Cadance
  2855. >You walk along the cliff’s length for Celestia knows how long and risk wasting all your rations and finding something or somepony that could kill you in your weakened state
  2856. >Or…
  2857. >As insane as it sounds, you can try and climb the cliff side
  2858. >It’s pretty much an impossible task given the fact that unlike humans you don’t have hands and fingers to climb stuff
  2859. >And you’re no Pinkie
  2860. >Defying the laws of physics is not in your realm of possibility
  2861. >But it’s not like you have a choice in the matter
  2862. >Walking around is not an option
  2863. >Especially when it could spell more harm coming your way
  2864. >Climbing the cliff is the safest route
  2865. >But without your wings or your magic, what should be an easy task is now an achievement in the making
  2866. >Pony hooves weren’t made to climb vertical walls
  2867. >And while it is true ponies had a certain level of dexterity with their hooves, climbing a cliff and holding a mug of cider are not comparable in the slightest
  2868. >If only you had something to help you up
  2869. >Something sharp enough to stab into the wall and pull yourself up
  2870. >But you don’t have anything like-
  2871. >Wait
  2872. >Shoving a hoof inside your remaining saddlebag, you rummage around until your hoof hits something cold and metallic
  2873. >Pulling out the object, you’re presented with the opportunity you were looking for
  2874. >One of your golden hoof guards
  2875. >It’s not as pointy as your Aunt’s, but the metallic protective hoof-wear’s more than enough for what you’re about to do
  2876. >Being magically enhanced to resist damage and wear
  2877. >Shoving your hoof inside the bag again, you look for the second hoof guard and quickly pull it out
  2878. >With the two guards in hoof, you raise yourself on your hindlegs, and connect the soles of the guards to your hooves
  2879. >Did you mention they also magically stick to your hooves? To keep them from falling down when you fly
  2880. >It was a charm applied to them by the royal smith
  2881. >They sticks to your hooves no matter how you place them as long as you have magic to maintain them
  2882. >With your improvised climbing tools ready, you punch the wall, stabbing the guard into the rock
  2883. >You give it a little tug to see if it slips out easily, and to your relief it doesn’t
  2884. >Then you do the same with your other hoof, before pulling yourself up
  2885. >One foreleg after the other, you climb the cliff-side and use your hind legs help to push you upwards using any rocks sticking out, careful not pull the guards too hard and lose your balance
  2886. >And up you go… for minutes
  2887. >Climbing the cliff as awkwardly as a pony can
  2888. >You’re not sure if it was perspective or not, but the cliff didn’t look as dauntingly high from its base
  2889. >You stop for a moment to catch your breath, steam coming out of your nostrils at a rapid pace
  2890. >One of your hind legs hand over a protruded piece of the cliff, giving you much needed leeway for the rest, and to not put pressure on your forelegs.
  2891. >Taking another breath, you look down to access your progress
  2892. >You’re pretty high
  2893. >That’d be a very nasty fall
  2894. >Thankfully the grip on your hoofguards won’t let up anytime soon
  2895. >Alright, rest done, you continue your way up, there’s still much to climb
  2896. >Pulling the hoofguard from the cliff, you pull yourself up and stab it higher, and do the same with the other
  2897. >One foreleg at a time
  2898. >You repeat it many times in your head like a chant
  2899. >Hoping the rhythm will somehow help you in your climb
  2900. >And keep you distracted from the height
  2901. >One foreleg at a ti-
  2902. “Aaaaaaah!””
  2903. >You yelp as the grip on one of the hoofguards lets go and you’re left handing by one foreleg
  2904. >Shit
  2905. >Don’t panic
  2906. >It just slipped
  2907. >It must’ve been sweat that’s all
  2908. [spoiler]>BUT HOOVES DON’T FUCKING SWEAT![/spoiler]
  2909. >You just gotta pull yourself up and plant the base of your hoof on the guard-
  2910. >Aaaand it doesn’t stick
  2911. >It isn’t working
  2912. >Why isn’t it working?!
  2913. >You stare in shock at the hoofguard like it killed your husband and daughter
  2914. “Don’t tell me the charm’s stopped working now of all times?”
  2915. >You mutter under your increasingly rapid breathing
  2916. >Is it your horn?
  2917. >Broken horn means no magic, so it can’t feed on your magic anymore?
  2918. >Your breath quickens as you realize you have no way of saving yourself from this
  2919. >Even if you could climb up, it’s the rest of the way is too long, and the charm would give out before you reached the top
  2920. >And with your buster horns and wings you can’t do shit bu-
  2922. >Your other hoof slipped!
  2923. >FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FU-
  2924. >…
  2926. >…
  2927. “Urgh”
  2928. >A groan escapes from your lips when you wake up
  2929. >Your head hurts, a lot
  2930. >And so does your back
  2931. >Trying to stand up rewards you with more pain from your back and a hiss from your lips
  2932. >Lifting your head is all you manage
  2933. >Did you black out from the fall?
  2934. >Even opening your eyes feel like a massive undertaking
  2935. >And honestly, you don’t wanna because you know what you’ll see
  2936. >But you have to anyways
  2937. >And opening them gives you the exact sight you didn’t want to witness
  2938. >The base of the cliff
  2939. >This time all your stuff is scattered all around you
  2940. >Either they fell down from your bag as you fell, or the impact made them all jump inside the back and out of it
  2941. >Anyway, you don’t care
  2942. >Your head hurts
  2943. >Your back hurts
  2944. >Your everything hurts actually
  2945. >Not just your back and head
  2946. >But your feelings
  2947. >Your drive
  2948. >Everything crumbles in front of you
  2949. >The head you had so much trouble lifting from the ground slams back in the ground in defeat
  2950. >Smacking against a wet puddle you can only assume you be your blood
  2951. >Most likely leaking from the stinging wound you feel on the side of your head
  2952. >You’ll just… stay still for now
  2953. >Yeah, maybe rest some; wait for the pain to go
  2954. >You can’t go on, not like this
  2955. >At least your legs aren’t broken
  2956. >You take a deep sigh
  2957. >In your blind need to justify your status as the Princess of Love and help someone you put yourself in this situation
  2958. >This is your punishment Cadance
  2959. >You feel like whatever your aunt’s punishment would be is nothing compared to this
  2960. >And yet, when you show your face in front of Celestia again you’re sure she’ll eat you alive
  2961. >That is, IF you ever manage to get out of this place
  2962. >Because so far your attempts have been met with undisputed failure
  2963. >A deep breath in defeat and another pain in your chest is all you do before you let your eyes wander around you
  2964. >Looking at the place that might be your home for the rest of your life until something kills you
  2965. >Or someone comes looking for you
  2966. “Heh”
  2967. >You chuckle, one without a single shred of mirth
  2968. >If someone ever comes to your rescue it would be too late
  2969. >You’d be already be a victim of the dangers of Tartarus by the time they show up
  2970. >Something does catch your eyes and they stop their aimless wander
  2971. >With a grunt you lift your head again
  2972. >On the floor right under your head you can see a bit of the blood you assumed the wet pool to be earlier, but that’s not what got your attention
  2973. >Lying a few feet away from you is the item related to all the trouble you’ve gone through
  2974. >That damn book
  2975. >Your eyes narrow and you feel anger build inside of you
  2976. >This stupid matching couples shit is why you’re here, why you left your family and friends
  2977. >Why you doomed yourself
  2978. >You wished you listened to Twilight and Celestia
  2979. >But as you remember why you’re here, other memories start seeping into your consciousness
  2980. >The memories of a man who came to your aid seeking companionship
  2981. >A man who left everything just for a shot of finding love
  2982. >…
  2984. --------------------------------------
  2986. Part 11
  2988. “Alright, next up is… Anonymous?”
  2989. >A clipboard shrouded in a cyan colored mist floats in front of you as you read the rather uncommon name that’s next on the list
  2990. >It’s been months and you’re still getting used to human names
  2991. >But this one is weird even by human name standards
  2992. >Anyway, your job is not to judge ponies, or people in this case, by their names
  2993. >Your job is to find mares for them, and Anonymous is the next in line to have his heart read by the Crystal Heart
  2994. >A quick word with one of your Crystal Guards, and he quickly leaves to fetch the weirdly named human for you
  2995. >They all stay in an inn
  2996. >You had it built just to house men that came through the portal
  2997. >They usually came in controlled batches
  2998. >The other side makes sure to only send a group per week~month
  2999. >So the inn never overflows with tenants
  3000. >Meanwhile you swipe the sweat off your brow
  3001. >What?
  3002. >Having human hearts read and matching men to mares is not an easy task
  3003. >Did you know sometimes you have to go yourself to the mare and convince her to give a chance to the human?
  3004. >The overwhelming majority of lonely mares are aware of the matching program and are ready to give it a chance in case they’re chosen by the Crystal Heart
  3005. >But some from more distant lands aren’t aware of it yet
  3006. >And there are also mares who feel content on being single
  3007. >They don’t want to have a stallion companion, let alone a human one
  3008. >Degenerates, you say
  3009. >Every mare should have a mate
  3010. >“Princess Cadance”
  3011. >At least they’re honest with their feelings, you guess
  3012. >Can’t really fault them for choosing to stay single, even if you disapprove
  3013. >”Your highness, I brought Mr. Anon”
  3014. >Unlike those human females
  3015. >Deceptive
  3016. >Untrustworthy
  3017. >THO-
  3018. >“Princess!!”
  3019. “I… what?”
  3020. >You shake your head when you hear your title being called
  3021. >Turning your head to whoever’s calling you, you find the Crystal Guard and the human you asked him to fetch
  3022. >Anonymous
  3023. >He’s… as average as you can get in terms of male human looks
  3024. >You’ve been around humans enough to have a certain degree of knowledge over what makes a man physically attractive
  3025. >And he’s… okay
  3026. >A bit on the pudgy side
  3027. >Okay, definitely a bit overweight
  3028. >But not fat, fat
  3029. >But hey, you’re not here to judge
  3030. >You’ve managed to successfully match worse looking men to mares with no problem
  3031. >Because no matter how ugly you are, love always prevails
  3032. >This Anonymous guy will be even easier, no problem
  3033. >”I have brought Mr. Anonymous as requested”
  3034. “Oh, yes”
  3035. >A cough in your hoof
  3036. “Thank you. You can go back to your post now”
  3037. >The guard salutes you and with a 180, he leaves back to his post
  3038. “Now… Anonymous, correct?”
  3039. >You turn to the human who’s next to be read by the Crystal Heart
  3040. >”Sure am, ma’am”
  3041. >Would you look at that, a man who doesn’t sound nor look nervous
  3042. >That’s pretty rare; a lot of them usually look ready to fall apart when they meet you
  3043. >This one looks very motivated
  3044. “You sound determined”
  3045. >”That’s because I’m a man on a mission”
  3046. >You raise an eyebrow, now that’s the first time you ever heard sompo- eh, someone, in this case, state something like that
  3047. >”I came here with the sole intent of finding the love of my life”
  3048. >Yeah, you like the way he thinks
  3049. >“A mare whom I’ll love unconditionally, and who’ll love me just as much”
  3050. >Yeah, you really like the way he thinks!
  3051. >”A mare whom I’ll have a loving family with!”
  3052. >HAY YEAH!
  3054. “Alright then, now put your hand on the Crystal Heart”
  3055. >”What?”
  3056. “To have your heart read, of course, you didn’t hear that from the other guys?”
  3057. >”No, I wanted to come as clean as possible, no surprises”
  3058. >Oh, this one human sure is unique
  3059. “Well, you have to place your hand on the Crystal, and let it read your own heart”
  3060. >He looks at the magic jewel with a skeptical gaze
  3061. >Like he doesn’t believe what you’re saying
  3062. >Or that he finds it stupid
  3063. >Probably both
  3064. >”It’s not like, a questionnaire or something?”
  3065. >He scratches his head in confused
  3066. “Well… “
  3067. >You bite your upper lip
  3068. “It was, but we soon found out that method is not as consistent as having the heart search for a mare”
  3069. >”I see… it’s still kinda weird, but I can roll with it”
  3070. >Still getting used to magic, huh?
  3071. >He doesn’t need to tell you, you can see it in his eyes
  3072. “What are you waiting for, go for it, weren’t you the one saying you wanted to find love?”
  3073. >”Hell yeah I am!”
  3074. >Without a moment of hesitation, he places his hand over the crystal
  3075. >…
  3076. >…
  3077. >”Okay, now what?”
  3078. “Now we wait, it takes time”
  3079. >You give him an innocent smile, he looks unamused though
  3080. “C’mon, don’t give me that look, I wish it was lickety-split too. I’m the one in charge of staying up all day meeting humans and matching couples”
  3081. >He continues with the unamused look for a few seconds before shrugging his shoulders
  3082. >”How long are we talking?”
  3083. “A couple of minutes at best”
  3084. >He nods and hums
  3085. >Ten to fifteen minutes can be considered a couple, right?
  3086. >As he keeps his hand glued to the crystal, his head starts going left and right, eyes wandering around the now enclosed base of your castle
  3087. >It’s usually open for ponies to wander around and about
  3088. >But when there are men to be read, the curtains are dropped
  3089. >Ponies like to stare when the Crystal Heart is doing its thing, and it makes the humans anxious
  3090. >As Anonymous keeps looking, he starts whistling a tune you’re unfamiliar with, most likely trying to distract himself
  3091. >It’s catchy, you’ll give him that
  3092. >You, on the other hoof, purse your lips and paw the ground
  3093. >Gold hoof guards clinging at the crystal floor non-stop
  3094. >You always hate this part
  3095. >It’s so awkward
  3096. >They never start a conversation; they just stand there waiting for it to end
  3097. >What, too shy to speak with a princess?
  3098. >You’re the ponies’ princess here, not even Twilight is as sociable with the citizens as you are
  3099. “We can talk you know!”
  3100. >You blurt out, making Anonymous jump a bit
  3101. “Geez, don’t makes things awkward like that”
  3102. >”Sorry”
  3103. >His shoulders sag a bit
  3104. “No, don’t be”
  3105. >You sigh and wave a hoof dismissively
  3106. “It’s just that every time this happens, the human comes, greets me, puts the hand on the heart, and then wait in complete silence”
  3107. >You can see his face wince a bit, probably realizing he was about to do the same thing
  3108. “It’s kind of maddening”
  3109. >He looks at you with a sympathetic look, before smiling
  3110. >”Well, alright”
  3111. >He turns his whole body in your direction; hand still firm on the Crystal, which is already starting to glow a bit
  3112. >”What do you want to talk about?”
  3113. >Oh
  3114. >What do you wanna talk about indeed
  3115. >Usually you’re the one asking
  3116. “Well…”
  3117. >You tap your chin, thinking over what you’ll ask
  3118. “What was your reaction when a portal between our worlds opened up?”
  3119. >He hums and rubs his chin with his free hand
  3120. >“At first I thought the news were just shitting with me”
  3121. >You’d cringe at the free use of the swear, but at this point you’re desensitized to it
  3122. >You learned that human males are very in touch with their inner rudeness
  3123. >”I mean, how can anyone believe; from my world’s perspective at least, that a portal to a world full of techno-colored talking ponies who fly or shoot lasers existed?”
  3124. >Yeah, you guess taht from their point of view it’s pretty farfetched, it’s not like they have magic
  3125. >”But then I saw your Princess, Celosia-”
  3126. “Celestia”
  3127. >You hold a snort
  3128. >Celosia
  3129. >”Yes, Celestia. She showed up with a group of guards to greet us soon after the news of the portal opening hit us and I just couldn’t believe my yes”
  3130. >Yes, you remember
  3131. >Celestia and a group of Royal Guards immediately went investigate the portal
  3132. >She went herself instead of sending in Twilight, in case a more diplomatic approach was needed
  3133. >Turns out her hunch was correct
  3134. >“After that I became entranced by the mere existence of you all, and magic. I mean, you shouldn’t even exist, according to common sense”
  3135. >Wow, rude
  3136. >You can’t stop the frown on your face, but he doesn’t mind it
  3137. >”But you exist, and all this exist, magic fucking existed. All this time it existed and wasn’t just fiction, it was like a dream come true, even if I myself can’t use magic for being human”
  3138. >”So yeah, you can say I was pretty much floored at the thought of another world, especially when Princess Celeste-
  3139. “Celestia”
  3140. >Don’t laugh Cadance, hold that giggle back
  3141. >”Yeah that, basically welcomed any human to visit Equestria at any time”
  3142. >You remember that too
  3143. >Didn’t take too long for you and the rest of the princess to kick all the human girls out and enchant the portal with a THOT filter though
  3144. >When the human girls started showing up because everything was cute, they began having affairs with stallions all over the place
  3145. >Even married stallions
  3146. >That caused quite the shit show, forgive your tongue slip
  3147. >Quite a lot of married mares nearly cracked some skulls
  3148. >Surprisingly, for being considered the horniest gender out of the humans, the males were much more subdued, showing genuine attraction for Mares, and not just sexual curiosity like the human females toward stallions
  3149. >And you, being the Princess of love, soon took notice of the overwhelming amount of single human males
  3150. >And the overwhelming amount of single mares
  3151. >And had a wonderful idea
  3152. >Put two and two together and BOOM
  3153. >Matching Program officially founded
  3154. >It helped that mares had developed quite the genuine attraction for human males too
  3155. >There was a catch to the filter though
  3156. “I see, I guess if I were on your horseshoes I’d be pretty skeptical and then amazed too”
  3157. >”Amazed is underselling it”
  3158. >The filter prevented any living being from traversing the portal from Equestria to Earth
  3159. >Neither you nor the rest of the Princesses knew what went wrong with the enchantment, and are incapable of reversing the enchantment
  3160. >Meaning all humans are essentially trapped in Equestria for the rest of their lives until you find a way to reverse it
  3161. >You shake your head at the thought
  3162. >It was a huge blunder, and you got many human males trapped in Equestria who didn’t want to stay in Equestria , something you four still haven’t forgiven yourselves for
  3163. >But getting sad at your mistake won’t do any good
  3164. >Besides, Twilight’s working fulltime trying to reverse the spell
  3165. “Okay, so if you’re here, it’s because you want to have a marefriend, as you obviously already stated”
  3166. >”Yup”
  3167. >He nods almost immediately
  3168. >”Not just a marefriend, I want a wife”
  3169. >You’re really liking this man, you think you’ll visit him from time to time
  3170. >His priorities seem right up your alley
  3171. “When news that we had the matching program hit you, how did you react?”
  3172. >His smile falters a bit, but he doesn’t drop it at all
  3173. >”I…”
  3174. >Oh…
  3175. >You hiss
  3176. >Touchy subject?
  3177. >”I heard about the matching program barely a week after it started, and my first line of thought was to come rushing to Equestria”
  3178. >Oh!
  3179. >But it’s been months since the program started
  3180. “So why didn’t you?”
  3181. >”I… well, I had a good life on Earth, and giving up on it was something I’d never even think about if the portal never opened, and the program never started”
  3182. >”I have a loving family that supported me through all of my life, as much as they could, I had many, many friends that also supported me through thick and thin, and I spent many years studying and working hard to get a job in the business that I love. I was paid really well too; I had pretty much the life anyone would ask for. Family, friends, a job that I genuinely loved, and well off financially to never need to worry about money…..”
  3183. >He pauses for a second, a slightly unfocused look on his eyes
  3184. >“… and suddenly I was thinking of giving up on all of it”
  3185. >Anonymous clenches his free hand and looks at me in the eyes
  3186. >“Because… even though I had a good life, I never found what I truly yearned for”
  3187. >…
  3188. >Love
  3189. >You don’t even need to be the Princess of Love to understand that
  3190. >He wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for it
  3191. >”I never had much luck with women, you know? No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t hold a relationship, there was no spark, dare I say”
  3192. >He looks down on his free hand and clenches it
  3193. >“It took me many months to gather the courage to even tell that to my family and friends, and obviously, I was met with skepticism”
  3194. >There’s no smile on his face anymore
  3195. >Just a thin line for a mouth
  3196. >“They didn’t agree with my decision”
  3197. >Your eyes narrow a bit at that
  3198. >Were his friends...
  3199. >His eyes widen when he sees yours narrow
  3200. >”Not that they were against ponies, or were racists or anything”
  3201. >He waved his free hand negatively
  3202. >“It’s just… they knew that if I passed through that portal, I’d never come back, they heard the reports, and they didn’t want me to leave from their lives forever”
  3203. >”They tried their damn hardest to convince me to stay, but in the end it didn’t work. I had my mind set”
  3204. >Wow, you just…. wow
  3205. >You never expected to hear something like this
  3206. >All the other humans seemed very content on leaving their old lives behind in search of a new, fresh start in Equestria
  3207. >From your conversations with all of them they seemed like they never liked to live on Earth to begin with and were more than happy to leave it all behind
  3208. >[spoiler]Most of them also kind of looked like losers who had no life to begin with[/spoiler]
  3209. >Like they didn’t really have any attachment to anything to make their decision a regretful one
  3210. >But Anonymous is different
  3211. >He had to abandon everything he worked for
  3212. >His family
  3213. >His friends
  3214. >His life
  3215. >Just for a shot at finding love
  3216. >So much he yearned for love that he would gladly settle down for a being from a completely different species
  3217. >You gulp down a lump in your throat
  3218. >One that’s pretty hard to swallow
  3219. >”From your face I guess you think I’m a piece of shit right? Leaving my family behind to pursue a selfish desire”
  3220. “What! Anonymous, no! I-”
  3221. >”Please, call me Anon”
  3222. >Anon…
  3223. >You bite your lower lip
  3224. >Something glows at the corner of your eyes, pulling you out of your stupor
  3225. >The Crystal Heart is fully glowing right now
  3226. >Which means the gem have completely read his heart
  3227. >You sigh
  3228. “You can take your hand off the Crystal Heart now”
  3229. >He slowly pulls his hand from the jewel, clenching and opening his hands slowly
  3230. >”So what now?”
  3231. >He asks, his voice full of hope
  3232. “The Crystal Heart will now search all over Equestria for your soulmate, it usually takes a week or two for it to get any results; I’ll have a guard call you when it happens”
  3233. >”I see, thanks”
  3234. >He looks down, maybe a bit disappointed that it doesn’t happen right away
  3235. >But the disappointment quickly fades away to give its place for a smile
  3236. >”Well, I guess all I can do is wait; right?”
  3237. “Yeah…”
  3238. >You rub your leg with your hoof
  3239. >You feel so awkward after hearing his story; you don’t know what to say
  3240. >And he’s there waiting for you to say something, but nothing comes out
  3241. “Well, that’s it I guess, it was real nice meeting you Princess, I hope we can meet again soon, real nice talking to you”
  3242. >He waves a hand and turns around to leave
  3243. >As you watch him go, something inside you urges your body to act up without your command
  3244. “Anon, wait!”
  3245. >He stops, and turns around with a curious glance
  3246. >Probably wondering what you want
  3247. “I don’t think you’re selfish”
  3248. >His eyes center on yours as you try to find your next words
  3249. “You shouldn’t feel selfish for wanting to be loved, and I think your family understands your decision, and even if they don’t like it, they’d still support you”
  3250. >His curious glance turns into a small smile
  3251. >A grateful one
  3252. “Also. I’m so sorry, I’m part of the reason why you can’t go back, an-”
  3253. >“Don’t be, I believe I made the right choice”
  3254. >Your eyes widen in shock
  3255. >“Like I said, what I yearn the most I couldn’t get back on Earth, and I trust you’ll help me get it”
  3256. >You’re left speechless as he once again turns his back on you and treks away
  3257. >This time leaving the base of the Crystal Castle for good
  3258. >You can only watch the crystal floor he stood on
  3259. >Once again, you catch a glow from the corner of your eyes and look at the glowing Crystal Heart
  3260. >You bite your lower lips as you stare at it
  3261. >Watching your image on its reflective surface narrowing its eyes in determination
  3262. >This Anon guy
  3263. >He trusts you enough to blindly thrust his future in your hooves
  3264. >You have to help him, no matter what
  3265. >It must’ve not been easy to give up what he had to in exchange for love
  3266. >So no matter how hard it is, you’ll not give up on him
  3267. >…
  3268. >…
  3269. >...
  3270. >Shit
  3271. >You pace around the Crystal Heart
  3272. >Shit again
  3273. >In a moment like this you’ll ignore your inner tongue slips
  3274. >Shining looks worriedly at you as you continue to pace around the Crystal Heart
  3275. >If you continue you’ll make a circle shaped trench around the magic gem
  3276. >You suddenly stop and start biting your hoof
  3277. >After removing the hoofguards of course
  3278. >”C’mon Cadance, it can’t be that bad?”
  3279. >You send him a glare that shuts him up immediately
  3280. >Pursed lips and all
  3281. >Why are you nervous?
  3282. >Well, apparently, Anon’s match is the evil side of your Aunt, the entity known as Daybreaker
  3283. >You know absolutely nothing about her
  3284. >Hay, you don’t even know if she’s actually an evil half
  3285. >That’s just you assuming
  3286. >But when you said Nightmare Moon, the Crystal showed you Aunt Luna
  3287. >So you assume your assumption is correct to assume
  3288. >After all, if Luna has an evil half, why can’t Celestia?
  3289. >It makes sense right? They’re sisters after all
  3290. >And now you’re waiting for Anon to show up
  3291. >But what are you gonna tell him?
  3292. >It took more than a week for the results to drop
  3293. >And during that time you decided to visit Anon some
  3294. >Get to know him better, that conversation really made you more curious of him
  3295. >And you two became fast friends
  3296. >So, as his friend, you don’t want to just up and go
  3297. >Oh hey, the results are in; your match is possibly a murderous god pony haybent on destruction and world domination
  3298. >How the hay are you even gonna explain it to him?
  3299. >Can you even explain it to him?
  3300. >A hoof rubs your chin in wonder
  3301. >”Your highness, we have brought Mr. Anonymous”
  3302. >You skeleton nearly jumps out of your body in fright at the guard’s word
  3303. >By your Aunt, they should be spies not guards
  3304. >Oh, wait, Anon is here?
  3305. >Shit, you’re not ready
  3306. >Pardon your language
  3307. “Oh, umm… hey Anon”
  3308. >You give him the best smile you can muster
  3309. >Unfortunately it’s not a very good one
  3310. >”Hey there, Princess”
  3311. >Thankfully he doesn’t seem to notice your nervous state
  3312. >You hope…
  3313. “You can go back to your post now”
  3314. >You tell the guard, who salutes and trots away while you turn to your husband
  3315. “Shining, can you go with him?”
  3316. >He leans his head to the side and scrunches his brows
  3317. >”Why, there’s nothing for me to do wi-“
  3318. “Go. Now.”
  3319. >”Yes ma’am”
  3320. >Shining gives you a curt nod and canters away
  3321. >You sigh and run your hoof through your mane
  3322. >You look at Anon, who now looks a bit worried about you
  3323. >Drat
  3324. >You hoped he would keep smiling
  3325. >Well, you gotta say something
  3326. >”Something wrong, Cadance?”
  3327. “Umm…”
  3328. >Damn, if you say yes he’ll suspect of something
  3329. >If you say now you’ll sound like an idiot when you tell him the bad news
  3330. >Try to avoid answering that with a positive or a negative response
  3331. “By now you probably know why you’re here right?
  3332. >Yes!
  3333. >That cheers him up on the spot
  3334. >And it tears your heart out that you’ll have to give him bad news
  3335. >”Of course, it’s been over two weeks, and you told me you’d sent a guard after me when the Crystal Heart found my match”
  3336. >Oh Faust, he looks so happy and excited, why do you have to do this?
  3337. >You do your best not to cringe, and it appears to be working because he isn’t looking at you funny
  3338. “About your match anon…. sheeeee’s not available at the moment”
  3339. >Oh no
  3340. >Nononononono
  3341. >Don’t give you that look
  3342. >Aw, c’mon
  3343. >”Wha-what do you mean?”
  3344. >His excitement falters into confusion, and a little bit of sadness
  3345. “You see… your match can’t be accessed right now… it’s gonna need more time”
  3346. >You can see him trying to process what you’re saying, and doing his best keep himself in check
  3347. >That’s a lot of self-control
  3348. >Other men would’ve flipped out in his horseshoes
  3349. >”But why?”
  3350. “Because she’s from very… very far away; like, very far away”
  3351. >You try to make an excuse
  3352. “Like another continent altogether, one that probably doesn’t know about the matching program”
  3353. “And there’s a chance she might be unavailable forever”
  3354. >Oh, don’t make that crestfallen look or else you’ll start crying
  3355. >Celestia dammit, why is it always so hard to give out bad news
  3356. >”Oh… well, okay then. I guess it can’t be helped”
  3357. >He rubs the back of his head
  3358. >He definitely does a good job at not sounding sad or disappointed, but you’ve worked with enough humans to know what he’s truly feeling
  3359. >And it’s not like he should be that sad, you didn’t rule out his chance completely
  3360. >Even though you did say it has a chance of not happening
  3361. >He threw away everything for this Cadance, don’t you break his heart
  3362. >”Thanks anyway, Cadance, I know you did your best. Guess I’ll be staying here, since I can’t go back home, I just hope I can adapt”
  3363. >No, fuck that attitude Anon!
  3364. >Pardon your language
  3365. >You pull his head down to your eye level with your magic and hold the sides of his head with your hooves
  3366. “Anon, Anon! Listen to me, this isn’t the end of the world, it’ll just… gonna take more time”
  3367. >You don’t even care how funny his face looks smushed between your hooves
  3368. “But you don’t have to worry, because I’ll get into contact with your match, and I’ll bring her to you, no matter what, you hear me?”
  3369. >He nods slightly, a little bit of hope shining in his eyes
  3370. “You abandoned everything just for this, and not just as the Princess of Love, but as your friend, I can’t let you down like this. I’ll do everything in my power to get your match, you hear me?”
  3371. >He nods even harder between your hooves
  3372. “No matter how long it takes, no matter how much it takes, no matter what I have to do, I promise I’ll get her, and I’ll make you two meet each other, and it’ll be awkward at first, and then you’ll go on romantic date with her, and then I’ll register you two as a match with the Crystal Heart, and then you’ll marry her, here in my Castle, I’ll make sure of that, and I’ll watch that marriage, and my husband will cry a lot, and then you two will have a bunch of cute little foals, and I’ll bring Flurry Heart to play with them, and you’ll live happily ever after, you got that!!!”
  3373. >You breath heavily after your… rather insane motivational speech now that you think about it
  3374. >Even Anon looks flabbergasted
  3375. >But beneath his vision of shock, there’s hope in his eyes
  3376. >A ton of hope shining like a beacon of light
  3377. >So much hope and happiness that he can’t hold himself and he hugs you, his head resting on your neck
  3378. >”Thank you so much, Cadance. You don’t know how much that means to me”
  3379. >He holds you really tight, but it doesn’t hurt, because he holds you with care
  3380. >Don’t cry Cadance
  3381. >“I know you’ll do it, because you’re the best Princess. I’ll wait for as long as necessary, even if it takes years, because I trust you can do it, you’re the Princess of Love after all”
  3382. >Now you can’t hold yourself and wrap your forelegs around Anon’s torso and rest your head on his shoulder
  3383. >Don’t worry Anon, you’re gonna get Daybreaker, and you’ll finally find your long awaited love
  3384. >You promise
  3385. >…
  3387. >…
  3388. >You can’t stop the tears from cascading down your face
  3389. >That’s right; you promised Anon you would get Daybreaker no matter how long it took, no matter what it took
  3390. >Anon had thanked you profusely, and claimed that no matter how long it took, he’d wait for you to return with his match
  3391. >He must still be waiting, patient and hopeful that you’ll deliver on your promise
  3392. >And here you are… giving up on it
  3393. >Because you’re scared
  3394. >Because you’re weak…
  3395. >Your jaw clenches in frustration as tears stream harder from your eyes
  3396. >When did you become such a coward?
  3397. >Willing to shatter someone’s heart for your own benefit
  3398. >That’s…
  3399. >That’s not the attitude of a Princess at all
  3400. >You were not made an Alicorn Princess for nothing
  3401. >Celestia made you one because she saw your compassion and love for all living things
  3402. >And you’re disgracing her decision with yours
  3403. >In frustration, you lift your right hoof and punch the rocky ground beneath you, cracking the floor with your enhanced Alicorn strength
  3404. >How could you even think about giving up?
  3405. >That’s not who you are
  3406. >In the corner of your eye, you spot the book once more
  3407. >Taking a deep breath, you rub the never ending stream of tears with your hoof to no avail, before crawling towards it
  3408. >As you reach the ancient book, the withered pages feel rough as your uncovered hoof slide across it
  3409. >With your pony dexterity, you grab the old item and stand up on your four trembling legs
  3410. >Staring at the pages covered in information and instructions, you close the book and put it back inside your saddle bag
  3411. >Collecting the rest of the supplies that fell from it, you take a look at the cliff-side you had just tried to climb
  3412. >You shake your head and turn your back against the intimidating cliff
  3413. >Instead, facing the way you had just come from
  3414. >There was a nagging feeling on the back of your mind
  3415. >Your head turns just enough for you to see the cliff-side from the corner of your eye
  3416. >Urging you to leave this place
  3417. >To abandon everything and just make a beeline to the exist
  3418. >But as tempting as the thought of leaving this place as soon as possible is
  3419. >Your promise to Anon, and sense of duty as Princess of Love spoke to you louder
  3420. >So with another deep breath, you steel yourself to the journey ahead
  3421. >You have a mission to complete, and a pair of lovers to match
  3423. --------------------------------------
  3425. Part 12
  3427. >After gathering your bearings from your flashback
  3428. >And remembering you had some first aid kits that you immediately used to clean the wound on your temple
  3429. >You set out, once again, in your quest for Daybreaker
  3430. >Too bad you can’t clean yourself up
  3431. >Your pink coat will be covered in dried up blood and puke until you can find a body of water
  3432. >Another shiver makes itself known down your spine from remembering that your current look is the proof this place is fucked
  3433. >But this time you’re not letting yourself get shaken by it
  3434. >Not so much at least
  3435. >It still sickens you, but you can’t let it become a deciding factor in any of your future encounters
  3436. >Anyway
  3437. >With your newly found drive to find the Well of Spirits, and get a Soul Stone to perform the Soul Transfusion procedure, you journey deeper into Tartarus
  3438. >So far you have yet to find it
  3439. >And you don’t think you’ll find it any time soon
  3440. >The book you brought with you contained more info, but it was more about the ritual itself than the location of the Well of Spirits
  3441. >It just says the Well of Spirits in the depths of Tartarus
  3442. >But the depths of Tartarus could be anyway
  3443. >Like
  3444. >Literally the depth of Tartarus, underground or inside the chasm that homes the giga-Tatzlwurm
  3445. >Or depths as in, very far away inside this Celestia forsaken place
  3446. >So instead of trying to look for the information the book doesn’t have, you decided to read more about the ritual and how it works from
  3447. >Not while making your way there of course
  3448. >Without magic you can’t float the book and read while walking
  3449. >Acquiring knowledge is something you can only do when it’s time to eat or sleep
  3450. >Managing your time properly is key, the only way you’ll get the stone and get out of Tartarus as soon as possible
  3451. >And by as soon as possible you mean by the time one month since you got here hits you want to be right beside that damn gate to open it
  3452. >So your schedule has basically been traveling, avoiding encounters as much as you can
  3453. >Ignoring your sense of justice
  3454. >You don’t want your near death experience happening a second time
  3455. >Let this place tear itself apart from the inside Cadance, and ignore it as it does so
  3456. >Taking a few minutes of rest because walking for hours on end can be tiring
  3457. >When you feel you absolutely need to eat, you find a secluded spot to hide so nothing can jump you, and you eat only the absolute necessary
  3458. >It’s during this time you’ll take the book out and read it
  3459. >After that you go back to traveling and avoiding more Tartarus inmates
  3460. >And when you feel it’s almost time to hit the hay, again you’ll find a secluded spot, read some more of the Soul Power book, and then actually hit the hay
  3461. >You’ve been doing this for a few days
  3462. >And you had many close calls from either dangerous creatures or those your Aunt banished
  3463. >But each of them only makes you more proficient at avoiding them
  3464. >Not that that’s a good thing, one should never have to go through this and grow more experienced at avoiding death
  3465. >But unfortunately you are
  3466. >And, unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, you’ll need that experience
  3467. >Aside from the close calls, you feel like you’re getting closer
  3468. >Not to the Well of Spirits, but to at least something that’ll point you in said direction
  3469. >You hope
  3470. >Call it a hunch
  3471. >The environment around you isn’t even the same plain, desert like stretch of land with rocks
  3472. >You’re now at a place you’re very familiar with
  3473. >Well, you’re getting there
  3474. >The actual prison within Tartarus
  3475. >When just banishing isn’t enough, and the banished have to be kept locked away
  3476. >Yeah, that mountainous-esque region you were chained at with your Aunts
  3477. >With narrow pathways and staircases were a single slip of your hoof could spell your doom
  3478. >Maybe not
  3479. >You did survive a pretty nasty fall from that cliff with nothing but a cut on your temple and a hurting back
  3480. >It hurt a lot, but you survived, and that’s what matters the most
  3481. >You‘d still prefer not to fall from these pathways once you get there
  3482. >After all, without your horn and wings you’ll be stuck down there until your feathers can grow back, or you can use magic again
  3483. >Somewhere in those platforms-cell thingies must be someone who knows where the Well of Spirits is
  3484. >Yes they may be a hundred, even a thousand times worse than the average banished criminal
  3485. >But if your bumps into super villains taught you anything, is that they can be very reasonable
  3486. >Sometimes
  3487. >While your average crazy criminal here will jump you as soon as they can and try to take your shit or try to kill you
  3488. >Somepony like, you don’t know, Chrysalis, or even Sombra would probably strike a conversation instead of trying to take you out as soon as they can
  3489. >It’s super villain stuff, you don’t know why, but they like to talk
  3490. >If the ones actually locked away on these platforms are like these two, then maybe you can extract the info you need on where the well is
  3491. >Because like you already mentioned, the book doesn’t tell you were the fucking Well is, so this is your best bet, second being continue to wander aimlessly around Tartarus until you find it
  3492. >The book did teach you more about the Soul Stone though
  3493. >The Soul Stone works as a sort of satellite
  3494. >Yes, you know what a satellite is; being around humans for so long triggers the desire for knowledge sometimes
  3495. >And they taught you about this wonderful box called a television, where you could watch recorded or live plays, and even news
  3496. >And it was thanks a machine called satellite that picks up some waves or some shit from their place of origin, and transmits them to the televisions
  3497. >The Soul Stone works in a similar way, where it picks up the soul, and transmits, or transfuses it, in this case, into the next host
  3498. >Without the Soul Stone to absorb the soul and later redirect it to vessel, a Soul Transfusion simply isn’t possible
  3499. >Why isn’t it possible?
  3500. >Because they tried, and it didn’t work
  3501. >All the cultist managed to do was turn a ponies into a soulless husks because there were no Soul Stone to keep it contained and redirect it toward the body
  3502. >It just got whisked away, floating aimlessly until it dissipates into nothing
  3503. >The research did take generations to be finished, many unnecessary
  3504. >And fucking dumb, you might add
  3505. >Sacrifices had to be made in order to create the final version of the ritual
  3506. >After learning the purpose of the stone you set out to discover if any lapidary could cut the stone into the oval gem you needed it to be
  3507. >Turns out this part was not as complicated as you thought it would be
  3508. >You thought you’d need some specific lapidary to polish the stone for you
  3509. >But nah, any professional will do
  3510. >There are no specifics techniques or stuff like that
  3511. >Just plain old lapidary lapidating the stone
  3512. >So after getting the stone and jumping ship from his hole
  3513. >You can just take the stone to anypony competent at polishing gems and you’ll have your working Soul Stone ready to momentarily house, and redirect a soul towards a dying body
  3514. >There was also more information on the Soul Stones you wished you didn’t read
  3515. >Like, the fact that after decades a rough Soul Stone dissolves by itself, allowing the soul of the individual trapped in Tartarus to finally go into the afterlife, and then resurrect into a newborn foal or whatever creature it was before dying
  3516. >What an awesome information, doesn’t make you at all feel even more like a piece of shit
  3517. >You’re pretty much damming two souls to eternal damnation and no chance of reincarnation
  3518. >But at this point and time you really don’t care too much anymore
  3519. >As for info on the well of spirits, it is the most basic, fucking vague info you could ever get
  3520. >What you want, and need, to know was where in the fuck was the Well of Spirits
  3521. >But it doesn’t say, it says what the well looks like, not where exactly in Tartarus it is
  3522. >The one info you needed exactly right and the book doesn’t have it, all the other info you could’ve read later, even after leaving Tartarus
  3523. >But the one you need? No, fuck you apparently, that’s what you deserve for doing what you’re doing
  3524. >So your best bet is to keep looking on hoof
  3525. >And that’s what you’re doing now, walking in a random direction, hoping you’d find that damn Well
  3526. >You know what it looks like, so it’s only a matter of identifying it from afar
  3527. >…
  3528. >Kinda
  3529. >You actually don’t how it truly looks like
  3530. >The illustration on the book is too vague to serve as a hint
  3531. >The only info it has on the Well that can somewhat lead you do it
  3532. >All it shows is a circular hole with a lot of water in it
  3533. >No diameter, no circumference, no size, no nothing
  3534. >Most basic visual description you could get of what you were looking for
  3535. >You assume the Well is actually a lake and not a well from the how wide looks, at least in your opinion
  3536. >And it’s called a Well because… you dunno
  3537. >So sooner or later you might bump into it IF, your plane of extracting info from an quote unquote, inmate, doesn’t work
  3538. >There doesn’t seem to be many lakes in this place at all, so that might be the only one
  3539. >Which considerably streamlines your journey
  3540. >If you see a lake, it’s jackpot, simple as that
  3541. >Welp, looks like your musings have to be cut short
  3542. >You got to the “prison” part of Tartarus
  3543. >And you spy with your little eyes a Cerberus guarding the entrance from your spot
  3544. >Just peachy
  3545. >As if one isn’t enough, there are two
  3546. >And this time you’re as unprepared and outmatched as you can get
  3547. >If your horn and wings weren’t trashed you could just pop into one of the platforms holding some malevolent being, or just fly over the Cerberus
  3548. >Because funnily enough the three headed dog isn’t small enough to walk through the pathways and staircases to follow you if it saw you flying over it
  3549. >Or smelt the dried blood still clinging to your coat
  3550. “How the hay am I gonna get past it?”
  3551. >The Cerberus is not located on the entrance, but at a platform in-between the pathways that lead to it, and to the first cell-platform, which is what you’re gonna call them from now on because you honestly have no clue what they’re actually called
  3552. >So the dog is pretty much stuck in this platform just big enough to house it, meaning your only way of getting in is through the narrow pathway it can’t follow you through
  3553. >But if you do go through the pathway it WILL see or smell you
  3554. >And will fucking block your way to the next pathway that’ll lead you to the other cell-platforms because of how big it is
  3555. >Unless there’s some way to distract it enough for you to book it to the other side of its platform, you’re pretty much stuck and will have to go back to just wandering aimlessly and give up on your one chance of maybe getting some concrete information on where the Auntie dammed Well of Spirits is
  3556. >You mean, you could throw some of you food at the corner of the platform and hope to whatever deity that haven’t given up on you yet that the Cerberus will take the bait, giving you ample time to make a run for it
  3557. >But do you really want to waste precious supplies just to get past the Cerberus?
  3558. >If you still had both halves of your saddlebags, your answer might’ve been yes
  3559. >But now that your shit is much more limited you can’t just throw away food
  3560. >It’s not like you have much of a choice though
  3561. >But you still don’t wanna go with that plan, there must be another way
  3562. >You rub a crusty hoof on your chin as you thi-
  3563. >!
  3564. >Looking at your blood covered hoof, an idea suddenly forms in your head
  3565. >You take out one of the few remaining first aid kits from your saddlebag, and from the little bag you take out the roll of tape, same one you used to cover the wound on your temple
  3566. >Next, you unfurl your wings
  3567. >Cringing at the state they’re in, you search for any feathers that might need preening, and promptly remove them
  3568. >Not like they would serve you or anything when they’re already broken
  3569. >With four bloody useless feathers removed, you search the ground for anything that is light enough for you to through all the way from a distance the Cerberus can’t see or smell you,
  3570. >But heavy enough to not overshoot the platform the dog’s guarding
  3571. >And you just managed to find it
  3572. >A stone, around your head in size
  3573. >Pocking the stone, you tape the feathers to it, and hope to Celestia your plan works as you stand on your hind legs and take a pitcher’s stance
  3574. >You need it to land on the platform, and for the dog to lock on to the smell of dried blood
  3575. >The smell will hopefully be enticing enough to distract the beast just enough for you to rush through the platform as fast as you can
  3576. >Alright, Cadance
  3577. >Take a deep breath
  3578. >On the count to three
  3579. >One
  3580. >…
  3581. >Two
  3582. >…
  3583. >THREE!
  3584. “Rargh!”
  3585. >A grunt leaves your mouth as you toss the stone, and watch as it flies up in an arc, goes down as gravity takes place and…
  3586. >Yes!
  3587. >It lands on the platform; and near the edge as well!
  3588. >Fuck, you’re good
  3589. >You should play ball
  3590. >The Cerberus’ head snap toward the sound of the stone clacking to the floor, and as soon as its nose picks up the smell of blood, it runs straight toward the stone
  3591. >That’s your cue
  3592. >Run, Cadance, run!
  3593. >And make a run for it you do
  3594. >Hooves clip clopping loudly against the stone pathway and stairs
  3595. >Thankfully it seems too entranced by the smell to notice you yet
  3596. >But as soon as you reach the Cerberus platform, the three headed dog hears you coming and turns around, before baring its fangs and charging for you
  3597. >Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck!
  3598. >Put some more effort into your gallop you crazy Alicorn!
  3599. >Else you turn into dog chow
  3600. >The thunderous steps of the massive mutant bulldog shake the floor as it quickly catches up to you
  3601. >C’mon Cadance, you can do it!
  3602. >You didn’t come here to become dog food!
  3603. “YAAAARGH”
  3604. >Putting as much strength on your leg as you can, you make a dive for the pathway just as the beast was about to take a bite out of you
  3605. >You hit the stone floor as you land on your chest, heart beating at a million miles per hour
  3606. >Turning onto your back, your heartrate slowly decreases as you pat around your chest and realize you’re still alive
  3607. >Raising your head greets you with the sight of the Cerberus glaring and growling at you
  3608. >And of course, you can’t help but smirk and throw him a raspberry
  3609. “HA! Dumb dog, you’re not getting this flank so easily”
  3610. >You stand up on your shaky legs and pat your flank, flaunting your victory
  3611. >That is, until you notice the chunk of red that’s supposed to be pink, purple and cream colored strings on the center head’s jaw
  3612. >You look at your flank and nearly faint as realize a good half of your beautiful tail is now gone
  3613. >Looking back at the three headed dog, you see the beat spit it like some disgusting piece of trash, and give out a smirk of his own, before turning back to the center of the platform
  3614. >On that little shit, you oughta-
  3615. >No
  3616. >No
  3617. >Inhale
  3618. >Exhale
  3619. >No
  3620. >You did what you wanted, you got past the Cerberus
  3621. >Any consequences are irrelevant
  3622. >You completed the objective, now the rest of the way is free of three headed demon mutant bulldogs
  3623. [spoiler]Doesn’t make you any less mad Celestia dammit, that was your tail! It could’ve at least eaten it! How dare it spit your tail out like that?! The nerve of that mutt!![/spoiler]
  3624. >Doing a one eighty, you face toward the first cell-platform, hoping to find someone who can give you some information about the Well of Spirits
  3625. >Making your way up the stairs, you’re met with a very familiar sight
  3626. >There’ no one here, unfortunately, but the place brings you vivid memories of the time Tirek locked you and your aunts here
  3627. >These were very unpleasant times
  3628. >Nowhere near as bad as what you’re living through right now, but you don’t want that happening ever again
  3629. >Still, nothing to see here, next cell-platform please
  3630. >You walk straight through the cell and onto the next pathways
  3631. >Before you lay a series of interconnected pathways and stairways leading to a multitude of these cell-platforms
  3632. >Thankfully, no Cerberus
  3633. >From here you can also see which ones have somepony locked or chained
  3634. >There aren’t many, but you’d expect that
  3635. >Sombra or Chrysalis level super villains are a rarity, despite Twilgiht fighting them every now and again
  3636. >And when Twilight deals with them, they usually flee, are reformed, or straight up disappear
  3637. >From your spot, however, you do see what you think is a pony in the distance, and that’s where you’re going
  3638. >Climbing down the staircase, and you make your way through the interconnected paths and crisscrosses, noting that shit’s so confusing that from the first cell-platform, you stood above all the other cells, but now your under all of them, and can’t see the pony anymore
  3639. >You still have the cell locked in your sight, but you wished you’d be able to see what you’re possibly going up against
  3640. >Even if whoever is locked or chained can’t do jack to you
  3641. >You know for a fact the chains in this drain the magic of the user in a second flat
  3642. >Your magic was already drained before being locked here
  3643. >But you still felt as if the chains were trying to suck your non-existent magic anyway
  3644. >As you climb up the stairs leading to the cell you’ve being heading for, you’re treated to a sight that shocks your core once you reach the threshold
  3645. “CHRYSALIS!?”
  3647. --------------------------------------
  3649. Part 13
  3651. “CHRYSALIS!?”
  3652. >Your jaw drops to the floor at the sight before you
  3653. >Chrysalis
  3654. >The changeling queen
  3655. >Is chained up to the floor by the holes of her legs laying down on her stomach with her legs folded under her barrel
  3656. >Quite literally, there are shackles locked between the holes in her legs
  3657. >But, wasn’t she free? You’re pretty sure she escaped after Starlight and her rag tag group reformed her hive
  3658. >How’s she even here?
  3659. >Did one of your aunts hunt her down after she ran away and locked her up here?
  3660. >That can be the only explanation for this
  3661. >Without her hive to back her up she’s practically defenseless
  3662. >But why did she look so uninterested and bored until you called her out?
  3663. >Chrysalis in question now looks at you with a raised brow and an expression that looks almost… offended?
  3664. >You’d assume Chrysalis would be a little more absolutely livid upon seeing you
  3665. >She hates your guts with all of her heart after you and Twilight put a stop to her plans of taking over Canterlot
  3666. >”Chrysalis?”
  3667. >She asks, before her eyes spark with realization and she face hoofs
  3668. >”Ugh, don’t tell me that little bug actually did take over my hive?”
  3669. >Wait, what?
  3670. >”Faust dammit, I knew that would happen after my exile, I just hopped it wouldn’t”
  3671. >… Chrysalis???? slams her head on the floor, hard
  3672. >Dafuuuuuuuuuu-
  3673. >”The hive’s a mess right now, is it not?”
  3674. >Y-you don’t know what to say
  3675. >So you just go
  3676. “Eh… kinda?”
  3677. >You still don’t know what to say
  3678. >She raises an eyebrow again, ushering you to further elaborate
  3679. “Well… Chrysalis kinda isn’t the leader of the hive anymore, after they were reformed”
  3680. >Not-Chryaslis’ eyes blink in succession, clearly confused by what you just stated
  3681. >”Reformed?”
  3682. >She leans her neck and head forward, turning her head and giving you a sideways look
  3683. “Yeah, they’re not love stealing changelings anymore, they can generate their own love”
  3684. >Not-Chrysalis’ eyes widen in shock
  3685. “They’re now even friends and allies with us ponies”
  3686. >The look on her face is quite funny, between total disbelief, and a little bit of disgust, horror, and outrage
  3687. >”Urgh…”
  3688. >She groans; closing her eyes and rubbing her temples with her hole covered hooves
  3689. >“Now I’ve heard everything. As if there weren’t enough reasons for me to hate her, Chrysalis let’s this happens to my hive”
  3690. >As the supposedly not Chrysalis and ex-queen of Thorax’s hive processes what you just said
  3691. >Your shock takes a step back and lets you analyze things with a more level head
  3692. >And your surprise, you notice that the changeling chained up in front of you isn’t, in fact, Chrysalis
  3693. >Despite the similar outward appearances, and the color of her carapace is the exact shade of black, her mane is shorter, a deeper shade of blue, and is slicked back instead of falling down her face
  3694. >Her wings also look bigger, and her horn’s less distorted, she lacks that crown looking thingy on top of her head
  3695. >And she’s got more holes and in her legs, like, almost up to her barrel, rather than just at the base of her legs
  3696. >Now you wonder, who IS this changeling?
  3697. >Aside from, well, being the supposedly ex-queen of Thorax’s hive as she already mentioned
  3698. >Curiosity prompts you to ask who she is, and what she did to get her get not only banished to Tartarus, but also chained up
  3699. >Being chained up is like a privilege, it means Celestia considers you dangerous enough to be a threat to the entirety of Equestria, if not the whole planet of Equus
  3700. “If you’re not Chrysalis, then who are you?”
  3701. >She stops rubbing her temples and opens her eyes to look straight at you
  3702. >The opens her mouth, ready to answer when you notice taking a closer gander at you, then leaning herself to the side, eyes still scanning your body before returning to her previous position with a small smirk tugging at the end of her lips
  3703. >“What is a Princess like you doing here anyway; got yourself banished?”
  3704. >And she ignores your question, because of course
  3705. >She raises a hoof to her mouth to hold a single ‘Heh’ before continuing
  3706. >“Gosh, I wonder what sickening crime you committed to have Celestia exile one of her own”
  3707. >You shake your head and try to explain
  3708. ”No, no, no, you got it wrong”
  3709. >She leans her head in confusion
  3710. “I didn’t get banished; I came here on my own accord”
  3711. >Her mouth opens, revealing her sharp fangs, but she doesn’t say anything, and then closes it
  3712. >She repeats the action a few times, and each time she’s looking as if you have grown a second head until she finally says something
  3713. >”You’re not the sharpest tool in the shed, are you?”
  3714. >She deadpans
  3715. >“And look at you, by the maker, what happened? Did you take a dip in a fountain of blood thinking it was wine? These nobles, I swear, and I thought they were crazy back in my day”
  3716. >You can only puff your cheeks in frustration
  3717. >She’s just trashing you on stop!
  3718. >Who does she think she is?!
  3719. >But you release all that sucked in air and release it through your nostrils and calm yourself
  3720. >You’re not here to fight or argue Cadance, you want info
  3721. >Info you’ve been stalling to get
  3722. >To be honest, as much as the changeling have been bugging you
  3723. [spoiler]>Ha! Get it? Because she’s… okay…[/spoiler]
  3724. >Actually speaking to somepony who ISN’T trying to kill you is doing wonders to your mind’s stability and health
  3725. >”Also, I’d like you to stop calling, or comparing me to, Chrysalis”
  3726. >Sure ex-queen changeling mare/bug thing whose name you still don’t know
  3727. >You actually feel a bit of your sanity coming back, despite being in a conversation with a potential murdered and warmonger
  3728. >…
  3729. >You really going the deep end here, aren’t you?
  3730. “Well, you still haven’t answered my question”
  3731. >Still lying on the floor, the lays her flank and hind legs sideways, while crossing her forelegs
  3732. >”Chrysalid”
  3733. >One fucking letter off
  3734. “Wow, even your names are similar, it’s rather uncanny actually”
  3735. >”Well, yeah, she’s my daughter after all”
  3736. >SHE’S HER WHAT?!
  3737. >Your eyes bug out at this tidbit of information
  3738. >”You’re Chrysalis mom!?”
  3739. >You nearly shout out
  3740. >“Yup”
  3741. >B-but….
  3742. “But you said you hated her!”
  3743. >”Just because that little skank is my daughter, doesn’t mean I have to like her!”
  3744. >You flinch back in response to her harsh words and eyes full of hate
  3745. >That is so wrong on so many levels
  3746. >“And it’s not like I didn’t try, Chrysalis just didn’t want any of it”
  3747. >She hacks and spits on the floor, as if trying to spit on her daughter’s own image
  3748. >“To her, I wasn’t a mother, just an obstacle. All she desired was my throne and control over the hive, and made it clear any given moment”
  3749. >”When I realized she held no affection for me, I stopped caring about her”
  3750. >She waved he hoof lazily in the air,
  3751. >That’s… that’s really sad
  3752. >You’re a mother yourself, so even if you two are fundamentally different both as species and in your ideals, you kinda feel for her
  3753. >Just imagining Flurry Heart growing disdainful of you tugs at your heart like nothing else
  3754. >Doesn’t help that you can actually feel she’s not being completely truthful about not caring for Chrysalis anymore
  3755. >Princess of Love, you know
  3756. >Don’t need magic when it’s your special talent
  3757. >You wonder if she ever managed to love her daughter, she’d end up like Thorax and his hive
  3758. >Too late for that, you guess
  3759. >”Anyway, my turn for a question”
  3760. >That snaps you out of you funk
  3761. >”What in the name of Faust would induce you to get in Tartarus on purpose?
  3762. >You’re about to answer before she continues
  3763. >”Like, are you genuinely stupid?”
  3764. >That’s not very nice
  3765. “Too much to explain, and I don’t have time for it”
  3766. >You try to avoid answering her question, you just want yours
  3767. >”Oh, but I have all the time in the world, I’ve been here for Faust knows how long”
  3768. >She cracks her shoulders and neck
  3769. >“Be a dear and relieve me of my boredom, even if for few minutes”
  3770. >You were about to say no
  3771. >But man, she’s probably been here for decades, even centuries, if not fucking millenniums, maybe a little conversation won’t hurt
  3772. >And Celestia knows you also need it too to keep you from going crazy in this place
  3773. “Alright”
  3774. >You sigh and sit down, then proceed to lie on your chest
  3775. “Maybe one conversation won’t hurt, here’s how it all started …”
  3776. >…
  3778. >…
  3779. >”Wait, so you mean to tell me that you entered Tartarus, by yourself”
  3780. “Yes”
  3781. >”To find a Souls Stone”
  3782. ”Yup”
  3783. >“So you can match whatever a human is, and the evil side of Princess Celestia, who’s an entity with just as much, if not more power than the princess of the sun herself?”
  3784. >Yeah, that’s pretty much the gist of it
  3785. “Uhum”
  3786. >Chrysalid licks her lips and looks at you with her most ‘Are you serious, now?’ look
  3787. >“Are you sure you don’t have a few missing neurons in your head?”
  3788. >Can’t really stop the scowl on your face right now
  3789. >She giggles, holding a hoof to her mouth as she does so
  3790. >She’s doing this on purpose, just to rile you up
  3791. “Yeah, yeah, I’m stupid now, but let’s who’s stupid when I successfully reform the evilest mare in the world”
  3792. >A heavy, faked cough catches your years
  3793. >And you look at the changeling to see a deadpanning ex-queen pointing at herself
  3794. “Well, you’re not a mare, now, are you?”
  3795. >Chrysalid looked ready to retort, before bumping her hoof against the floor
  3796. >”Point taken
  3797. >Ha, gotcha
  3798. >You not the only one with banter skills miss ex-queen
  3799. >Anyway, you think you wasted enough time talking to her already
  3800. “Alright, now that we’ve talked can you answer me another question?”
  3801. >Chrysalid taps her chin, eyes looking up in fake wonder
  3802. >”Should I, or should I not? I do have a busy schedule after all”
  3803. >You hold back the urge to face hoof
  3804. >”It depends on what it is, I’m wise and all, but I’m not an all knowing entity”
  3805. >Okay that’s fair
  3806. “I need to know where the Well of Spirits is”
  3807. >She humms, tapping her chin once again
  3808. >”You did mention this Well in that crazy story of yours”
  3809. >Please stop saying shit about your quest
  3810. >It hurts your feelings
  3811. >”I CAN tell you…”
  3812. >Your eyes widen in victory, you’re finally getting your-
  3813. >“If you can answer some more of my questions about the outside first”
  3814. >FUCK!
  3815. >You face-plant against the floor, hard
  3816. >“Hahahaha! I’m sorry dear, but this is just too much fun for me to just let it end like this”
  3817. >She lays her head down over her crossed hooves, looking at you expectantly
  3818. *Sigh*
  3819. “… shoot…”
  3820. >”Alright, so, how did you meet my good for nothing daughter?”
  3821. >You cringe at how casual she insults her daughter
  3822. >But still takes your head off the ground to answer her question
  3823. “When I was going to marry my husband, Chrysalis foalnapped me, kept me locked in a cave, and tried to marry him in my place, to feed herself and the hive off his love”
  3824. >The ‘not bad’ muttered in front of you does not keep the frown from forming in your face
  3825. >”Your husband must be one hell of a stallion if he could feed the entire hive”
  3826. >At this you can’t help but hold your head high in pride
  3827. “Of course he is, Shining Armor is the best”
  3828. >”And I assume she failed at her task then?”
  3829. >She tries to hide the smirk on her muzzle, purposefully letting you see it
  3830. >Jeez, she really isn’t fond of that Changelling, is she?
  3831. “Yes she did, one of my friends broke me out and showed everybody the impostor that was Chrysalis”
  3832. >Just remembering the memory makes you growl to yourself
  3833. >“About my hive then, what happened exactly that got it… reformed”
  3834. >You can hear the words rolling inside of her mouth, with a little bit of disgust mingled in
  3835. >As if she’s trying to digest the concept
  3836. >Like mother like daughter you guess
  3837. >Both of them would rather be evil even if it has more noticeable negative drawbacks to the hive apparently
  3838. “After Chrysalis managed to successfully foanap all of Equestria’s sovereigns, a ragtag team of two unicorns, a draconequus, and a rogue changeling stormed her hive and beat her with the power of love”
  3839. >You wait for a reaction, but none comes from her
  3840. >Chrysalid just looks at you with such a nothing face that you wonder if you just broke her with that little description
  3841. >That is, before you see her cheeks puffing out and the queen quickly putting a hoof in her mouth to stop herself
  3842. >”PffffffHAAAAHAHAAHHAHA”
  3843. >She breaks out in laughter, slamming her hoof on the floor
  3844. >She keeps going for a whole ten seconds non-stop before trying to control her laughter
  3845. >”Ha, ah, are you-ha- serious?”
  3846. “Yes…”
  3847. >You start slowly
  3848. “Thorax, the rogue changeling, showed the other changelings that they didn’t need to steal love or any other emotions from other beings to survive, and that giving love was just as effective, if not better”
  3849. >Her chuckles still permeate the background as you continue the story, albeit a little slower than before
  3850. “After that, I assume he transformed? I don’t know, I couldn’t see it, but Thorax kind of evolved into this Changeling that looks nothing like you or the other changelings, and after seeing him free of needing to steal love, the other changelings followed him and evolved like him, leaving Chrysalis the only one rejecting the idea, and running away, effectively making him the king of the Changelings”
  3851. >You wish you could still use magic to show her what the evolved changeling looks like
  3852. “They all live a happier life now, they can be friends with ponies, and they don’t need to steal love or emotions anymore, since they started giving love, instead of taking it”
  3853. >Chrysalid’s still recuperating from her bout of laughter, but she looks less entertained
  3854. >”Heh, so that’s what happened to my hive, huh?”
  3855. >She sounds depressed, but not as much as you’d think she would
  3856. >”Yeah…. I guess that’s for the best”
  3857. >Now that takes you by surprise
  3858. “Wha- but a moment ago you sounded disgusted at the idea”
  3859. >Chrysalid looks at you straight in the eyes, and you can see she’s not joking this time
  3860. >“Princess, I grew up, and lived many, many years of my life believing changelings could only steal emotions to survive”
  3861. >She gives you a raised eyebrow, and a half smile, but there’s no mirth
  3862. >“You could say my lifelong beliefs were questioned, and were met with initial disgust, but when I think about it, isn’t this for the better?”
  3863. >Her half smile turns into a slightly regretful one
  3864. >”They’re happy, happy than they ever were with me, and they don’t need to starve anymore. As much as it clashes with what I thought was the right way to lead the changelings, I can’t say it’s worse than how they used to live before”
  3865. >Her body rocks slightly with her chuckles
  3866. >”I guess the years alone, with nothing to do but think, have mellowed me out. If I were still the same as the day I was banished, you can bet we wouldn’t even be having this conversation”
  3867. >Wow
  3868. >She’s so much different from Chrysalis, yet apparently was once just like her
  3869. >You wonder
  3870. “What did you do to be sent here, locked up no less?”
  3871. >You thread carefully, she may seem level headed now, but what if asking that triggers some memory that makes her go crazy
  3872. >”Didn’t you want to know about the Well of Spirits”
  3873. >You still do, yes
  3874. “I still want to, but… talking to you, got me curious, you know?”
  3875. >You give her a shrug and an innocent smile
  3876. >”Well, if you want to know. I waged war against Celestia and Luna’s empire many millennia ago”
  3877. >Celestia and Luna’s empire?
  3878. >Your jaw drops
  3879. >That means she must be as old as your aunts herself if Luna hadn’t turned into Nightmare Moon yet
  3880. >And she’s been here all this time?
  3881. >”I tried to take over their empire in order to expand my hive, and have ponies slaves who’s emotions were ripe for picking at any moment, I myself was very fond of fear and sadness, and so were the drones under my command”
  3882. >War? Now you understand why she would get chained down here
  3883. >”It was a very bloody battle that took months to end, and had most of my hive exterminated, and Celestia and Luna’s army down to but a dozen combatants”
  3884. >You gulp, that’s a lot of deaths
  3885. >”But in the end I still lost, my daughter fled as soon as things started turning south, and so did my drones, choosing to side with her in order to survive. My pride, however, wouldn’t let me leave the battlefield without victory, and I tried taking on the princesses myself”
  3886. >”And, well, the rest is history”
  3887. >The ex-queen shrugged her shoulders
  3888. >”Celestia beat me down by herself, and banished me to this place, where I’ve for over three thousand years if my memory doesn’t fail me”
  3889. >That’s… that’s a lot of time
  3890. >You wouldn’t wish that for anypony, even your enemies
  3891. >…
  3892. >Okay, maybe one of them
  3893. >”Don’t look at me like that”
  3894. >She sighs, rubbing the back of her head
  3895. >”I don’t need, nor do I want, your pity, what I did was irresponsible and rash. I thought that having the advantage in numbers would give me victory, and all that cost were the lives of thousands of my drones”
  3896. >”After years in here, I can safely say that my punishment is more than deserved”
  3897. >You don’t want to believe it
  3898. >Because she’s a changeling and they’re naturally deceptive
  3899. >Specially one that looks so much like Chrysalis
  3900. >But at the same time Thorax and his hive exist, and they’re your friends and allies
  3901. >Chrysalid looks and sounds genuinely regretful of her actions
  3902. >”I guess you want to know about the Well of Spirits now, right?”
  3903. >She breaks you out of your train of thought
  3904. >And you can only nod dumbly
  3905. >”Well, the Well is located… I don’t know”
  3906. >She shrugs her shoulders
  3907. >What?
  3908. “What?”
  3909. >”I don’t know where this well is, I’ve been chained up since the beginning, remember? I can’t roam around”
  3910. >A lot of effort is put into not face hoofing yourself
  3911. >But you fail, and soon after a smack’s heard, alongside a giggle in front of you
  3912. >Of course she wouldn’t know
  3913. >By your aunty, you’re so stupid
  3914. >You’ve been wasting time this whole ti-
  3915. >”But I do know one who can answer you that?”
  3916. >Your hoof left your face as fast as it smacked it
  3917. “You do?”
  3918. >You stand up and rush towards the ex-changeling queen
  3919. >Invading her personal space and shoving your face against hers
  3920. >”Of course”
  3921. >She gives a genuine smile
  3922. >Is she really just gonna help you like that?
  3923. >”There’s this old goat who used to roam around Tartarus on his own, only to suddenly show up around here inside a cage.
  3924. >Details, miss queen, details
  3925. >Give them up
  3926. >”He’s been in Tartarus for even longer than I have if I’m not mistaken, and since he used to walk free, there’s no way he doesn’t know where this Well of Spirits is”
  3927. >You squee and hug the bug queen
  3928. >Her yelp of surprise is the most adorable thing
  3929. >And you get even happier when she wraps a hoof around you, even if reluctantly
  3930. “Thank you so much, Chrysalid”
  3931. >She might not be able to use her magic, or feel and suck any emotions
  3932. >But you hope she can at least feel this little demonstration of gratitude
  3933. >”Okay, that’s enough, stop, you’re making me feel weird”
  3934. >You pull away with and grin at her
  3935. >She doesn’t look that amused, however
  3936. >Only a tiny little bit
  3937. >”The old goat’s cage is located on the highest platform…”
  3938. >She raises a hoof dramatically
  3939. >”… that way”
  3940. >And she points it to a specific direction without even looking
  3941. >From your spot even at the center of the platforms, with one of the two rock arcs blocking the view, said platform towers it even from the massive distance it
  3942. “Thank you again, Chrysalid”
  3943. >You bow your head to the defeated queen
  3944. >”No, I should be thanking, Princess, I haven’t had this much fun in ages”
  3945. >She smiles genuinely
  3946. >But the statement only brings up the truth of reality
  3947. >Which turns your smile in a slightly sadder one
  3948. >She seems to notice however, and looks to remediate that immediately
  3949. >”Now get going, you pony Princess you, don’t you have a pair of lovebirds to match?”
  3950. >You nod, and bow your head in thank again before going on your way
  3951. >When you’re about to hit the pathway however
  3952. >”Hey, Princess”
  3953. >You pause and turn around to face her
  3954. >The ex-queen doesn’t turn you face you though
  3955. >”That program of yours, do you believe it could ever find a companion for her?”
  3956. >Her? Her who?
  3957. >She tilts her head just slightly, allowing you to see the tip of her muzzle and mouth
  3958. >”Do you think Chrysalis can ever find love?”
  3959. >That comes off as a shock to you
  3960. >Yet you can feel it again
  3961. >There it is, that small pint of affection you managed to catch earlier
  3962. >It’s very tiny, and is overwhelmed by the disdain and disgust she feels for Chrysalis
  3963. >But it is there
  3964. >And it brings a small smile to your face
  3965. “Who knows, if she’s willing, I’m sure she can not only find love, but be able to love back”
  3966. >It’s very tiny, but you see a small smile on Chrysalid’s face, before she turns her head, preventing you from seeing it
  3967. >”I see”
  3968. >After that, she stays quiet, and you take that as your cue to leave
  3969. >She may not have given you the information you needed
  3970. >But she directed you to somepony who apparently have lived in Tartarus for far longer than she have, and probably have the location of the Well of the Spirits
  3971. >Who’d thought you’d find someone like her in this place
  3972. >Like she said, the many years in this place must’ve mellowed out her heart
  3973. >Many years isolated with no one but yourself will have your mind wander through topics you’d never think before, and maybe change your view on life after reflection
  3974. >It kinda makes you sad that Chrysalid have to live an enteral live locked away in this place
  3975. >She could probably be reformed if given a second chance
  3976. >Auntie would no doubt instantly reject the idea if you ever brought it up to her, though
  3977. >The Chrysalid she knows and the Chrysalid you know are two completely different changelings
  3978. >She’d think Crysalid was just putting up an act to fool you, or that you were going crazy from being stuck in Tartarus
  3979. >You shake your head
  3980. >Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do to help her
  3981. >And it doesn’t seem she wants to be helped either
  3982. >You leave the platform and follow the instructions to the cell holding this old goat she talked about who knows a lot about Tartarus
  3983. >Guiding yourself through the maze of pathways and staircases, you find yourself again climbing up a set of stairs before reaching your destination
  3984. >The highest platform of the bunch
  3985. >The sight you witness, despite surprising, gets a different reaction out of you than the one you got from seeing Chrysalid
  3986. >Your eyes narrow in rage and genuine hate
  3987. >You hate Chrysalis; and always will
  3988. >But you can understand why she did what she did; she had to feed her hive, which is an admirable reason, albeit with not so acceptable methods
  3989. >But him
  3990. >He’s just rotten to the core and you wished you’d never have to see his ugly face again
  3991. “You…”
  3992. >Tirek
  3994. --------------------------------------
  3996. Part 14
  3998. “You…”
  3999. >You call out the bastard who sent you to this fucking place after failing to steal yours an your aunts’ magic
  4000. >As you approach, the ‘old goat’ in question looks up from his spot on the floor of his cage
  4001. >Looking more bored than enraged, lying sideways with his cheek resting on his knuckle
  4002. >Of course, after seeing an Alicorn, his head immediately snaps to attention, eyes narrowing in your direction; with what you can only guess is hate, rage, disdain
  4003. >”You…”
  4004. >Yes, you
  4005. >One of the three Princesses who were imprisoned by this douchebag,
  4006. >One of the three Princesses wh-
  4007. >”Who are you again?
  4008. >He ask, scratching his goatee
  4009. >And leaving you flabbergasted
  4010. ”Y-you don’t remember me?”
  4011. >He doesn’t remember you
  4012. >What?
  4013. >HOW!?
  4014. >He-you-wha-?
  4015. >All the rage you had felt moments ago just poofed out of existence with a mere question
  4016. >You… you feel offended
  4017. >He shouldn’t have forgotten you when he had spent so much time looking for you and your aunts for your magic
  4018. >How dare he forget you?
  4019. >”Should I?”
  4020. >He rests his head on his knuckles once again, completely uninterested in you
  4021. >Any interest he might’ve shown before dissipated into boredom once more
  4022. “YES!”
  4023. >You scream
  4024. >Grabbing the cage’s bars and try to shake them
  4025. “You wanted our magic, remember? You were looking for the three of us”
  4026. >He raises his unused arm and lifts a finger
  4027. >”No, I was looking for Celestia and Luna”
  4028. >He then points said finger at you
  4029. >”And you were just… there”
  4030. >He shrugs
  4031. >Just there?
  4032. >Your eye twitches
  4033. ”I’m the Princess of Love, Mi Amore Cadenza, ruler of the Crystal Empire!”
  4034. >How could he just forget that?!
  4035. >“Oh”
  4036. >Enlightenment comes upon his face
  4037. >“I remember now”
  4038. >Finally
  4039. >Some damn respect-
  4040. >“You’re the irrelevant one”
  4041. >…
  4042. >You flinch so hard, your eyes close and you take a step back
  4043. >That… that hurt more than it should have
  4044. >“Your presence was so underwhelming, I barely even registered you were there, to be honest”
  4045. >Ow…
  4046. >You flinch again, both internally and outwardly this time
  4047. >That was a low blow Tirek
  4048. >Way to make your already unstable confidence as a princess worse
  4049. >”You were more like an extra than anything”
  4050. >… fuck you…
  4051. >”What are you doing in Tartarus anyway?”
  4052. >He asks, shoving the smallest finger on his ear and spinning it
  4053. >”Didn’t you get rescued by that purple Princess pony, Dusk Twinkle or something”
  4054. “…Twilight Sparkle…”
  4055. >You correct him quietly
  4056. >He pulls the finger out and flicks out whatever got stuck in it
  4057. >”Yes, Twilight. Didn’t she rescue you?”
  4058. “… yes…”
  4059. >”And what are you doing here? Got yourself banished?”
  4060. >For somepony who was the living, breathing vision of rage back in Equestria
  4061. >He sure sounds surprisingly calm and relaxed
  4062. >You’d expect him to try and get you from the bars
  4063. >But nope
  4064. >He barely bats an eye
  4065. “I’m looking for a place called the Well of Spirits, and I came here because a… friend”
  4066. >You can consider Chrysalid a friend, right?
  4067. “Pointed me here, saying an ‘old goat’ probably knew where it was”
  4068. >At the mention of old goat the, well, old goat, grunts in annoyance
  4069. >”Old goat, blergh”
  4070. >His disgusted face tells you enough
  4071. >He probably even knows who is the friend you mentioned just by calling him that
  4072. >”But to answer your question, yes, I know where the Well of Spirits is”
  4073. >Oh he knows
  4074. >HE KNOWS?
  4075. >”I’m assuming you’re looking for a Soul Stone, eh? No one looks for the Well of Spirits to take a dip in the well, unless they’re stupid of course”
  4076. >Instantly forgetting the mean words he threw at you literal moments ago, you grab the bars and shove your head inside the cage, making the old looking, decrepit Tirek recoil in surprise
  4077. “Please, tell me! I must know where it is!”
  4078. >He takes the best thinking pose he can from his spot on the floor, carefully stroking his goatee
  4079. >”Sure”
  4080. >He shrugs
  4081. >”It’s not like I have anything better to do”
  4082. >YES!
  4083. >“But what is in for me?”
  4084. >FUCK!
  4085. “What do you mean?”
  4086. >You glare at the goat… centaur… man thing who doesn’t want to willingly give you the much needed info
  4087. >“You know what I mean; you don’t think I’ll just give you the information all willy-nilly, now, do you?”
  4088. >You nod
  4089. >He face palms
  4090. >“Those ponies, I swear”
  4091. >Wow, rude!
  4092. >Not all ponies are like you
  4093. >…
  4094. >Damn it Cadance, you’re starting you bully yourself
  4095. >“No… what’s your name again?”
  4096. >He forgot again?
  4097. “Cadance”
  4098. >You replay, giving him the shortened version of your name
  4099. >He raises an eyebrow at your now different name, but doesn’t dwell on it further
  4100. >“Right, Cadance. *cough* No, I won’t give you the information you seek like just like that, you have to do something for me first”
  4101. >Your eyes narrow at the possible problems a
  4102. “And how do I know you’ll keep your end of the bargain?”
  4103. >You turn your head and give him a suspicious side glance
  4104. >“Not much I can do from inside a cage, now. Can I?”
  4105. >Tirek shrugs his shoulders
  4106. >As much as he can do it from his spot on the floor anyway
  4107. >Okay, now think this through Cadance
  4108. >You tap your chin in wonder, he’s kind of right, what can he do while stuck in a cage?
  4109. >Giving it a few strong taps, you can feel this thing is meant to take a massive beat down and look like it was nothing but a breeze
  4110. >You’d try using your magic if your horn weren’t fucked
  4111. >But assuming this cage is made from the same material as Chrysalid’s chains, then Tirek have zero magic in his body
  4112. “Alright”
  4113. >You sigh, after a bit of thinking
  4114. “Go on…”
  4115. >That certainly got a reaction out of him, making him snap his head up and look at you incredulously
  4116. >“Wait, really? That easily?”
  4117. >You wish it wasn’t
  4118. >But you’re getting desperate
  4119. “Not like I have much of a choice, I ran out of options”
  4120. >You between your clenched teeth
  4121. >“Well then, what I want you to do, is find me an item of mine”
  4122. >An item?
  4123. >This just went from very suspicious to very, very suspicious in a heartbeat
  4124. “It isn’t something that can get you out of here, is it?”
  4125. >He snorts, almost as if you offended him with your unwillingness to trust him
  4126. >Humph, these villains, you swear
  4127. >”Of course it’s not”
  4128. >He huffs, a stream of smoke coming out of his pierced nostril
  4129. >”Chains and cages like these can only be affected by the magic of whoever imprisons whoever in this place”
  4130. >Tirek pinches the bridge of his nose with his bony fingers
  4131. >”For crying out loud, how do one even think of getting into Tartarus while knowing nothing about it?”
  4132. >Okay, all this bullying is getting old
  4133. >You let Chrysalid get away with it because she was just joking around
  4134. >Tirek, on the other hoof, is clearly insulting for the sake of insulting
  4135. “Alright, ALRIGHT! I’m dumb, glad we could get this out of the way”
  4136. >You snap at him
  4137. >Oh don’t you smirk like that you old bag of shit, you’re the one who’s gonna live the rest of your eternal life stuck in this Celestia forsaken place, not Princess not-so pretty-pink-anymore pony here
  4138. “An Item, right?
  4139. >He nods
  4140. “Seems easy enough, where can I find it?”
  4141. >He lifts a bony finger again, going on explanation mode, you guess
  4142. >“In my old cave, the place I used to live before I escaped and got dragged back, there’s an orb in there, round, made of crystal, that allows me to see what’s happening on the outside, and I’d like to have it back with me”
  4143. >You lean your head in confusion
  4144. “Why would you want an orb that lets you see Equestria when you can’t get out?”
  4145. >Once again, Tirek rests his face on his knuckle and uses the other one to stifle a yawn
  4146. >“WeIl*yawn*. If I’m gonna spend the rest of my immortal life stuck in this place, I at least want something to keep me entertained. Equestria is ripe with catastrophes just waiting to happen, you know?”
  4147. >Can’t really disagree with him on that one
  4148. >You glare at him some more
  4149. >This… this asshole who’s been screwing with you the whole time
  4150. >And he’s the only one who knows where that damn well is, so you can get that damn stone, leave this damn place, get it damn polished, and finally match Anon and Daybreaker
  4151. “Alright, deal”
  4152. >You sigh in defeat
  4153. “Splendid”
  4154. >Shifting position, he now lays on his stomach, and rubs his hands like a greedy merchant
  4155. >Or a Jew
  4156. >[spoiler]The humans told you that these Jew people, whoever they are, do that a lot[/spoiler]
  4157. “My old cave is located in that direction”
  4158. >He points his arm to somewhere behind you
  4159. >Please don’t make you come back from where you came from
  4160. >When you turn around, you see that it isn’t, so you sigh in relief
  4161. >In the distance, very, very far away, you can see a colossal mountain towering over absolutely everything in sight
  4162. >It’s so fucking far you wage it’ll take at least a week of non-stop walking just to get there
  4163. >You gulp
  4164. >”See that mountain?”
  4165. >[spoiler]You can climb it?[/spoiler]
  4166. ”What about it?”
  4167. >You ask, not really wanting an answer though
  4168. >Knowing what’s gonna come out of his mouth
  4169. >Only a slimmer of hope in you believes he’ll not
  4170. >”That’s my house”
  4172. “The whole mountain!?”
  4173. >You ask, exasperated and already cringing in anticipation so you won’t when he reveals that the whole thing is his old ho-
  4174. >”No”
  4175. >Oh thank your aunt
  4176. >Then it makes searching ea-
  4177. >“Only the very top”
  4178. >*Thunk*
  4179. >”So your mission is pretty simple”
  4180. >*Thunk*
  4181. >”Bring me the orb”
  4182. >*Thunk*
  4183. >”And I’ll tell you where the Well of Spirits is located
  4184. >You stop banging your head against the bars and send him a glare, to which he completely ignores
  4185. “Promise you’ll tell me where is if I bring you this orb?”
  4186. >You take a deep breath and pull your head from the bars, looking at him with one of the most serious stares you have ever given
  4187. >”Yes, I promise”
  4188. >He gives you a smirk, only making your eyes narrow even further
  4189. “You better not be deceiving me”
  4190. >You wish you knew some mind reading spells right now
  4191. >Not that they would work
  4192. >Busted horn, after all
  4193. >But if you could, and you knew, you’d try to extract some info out of him to see if he’s telling the truth or not
  4194. >Although this cage would probably nullify your magic anyway, only making it useless unless you could free him
  4195. >Which of course you won’t do, even if you could
  4196. >You may have done tons of downright mental things in the last weeks, but freeing Tirek is on a level of retardation you’re dead set on not achieving
  4197. “Okay”
  4198. >You let out a sighed okay, and turn around to face the overall direction of Tirek’s home
  4199. >His platform is so high up compared to the others it gives you ample view of the scenery
  4200. >And what waits in your path isn’t pretty
  4201. >And… is that another Cerberus?!
  4202. >Yeah, there’s another one, on a platform much like the first one you saw when you got to this place
  4203. ”How many of these dogs are there?”
  4204. >You mutter to yourself
  4205. >“Five”
  4206. >You raise an eyebrow and turn your head back to see the old goat sticking a finger up his nose
  4207. >Ew
  4208. >“One guarding each of the four entrances of this prison, and one guarding the gates of Tartarus”
  4209. >Oh, okay
  4210. >That’s nice to know, you guess
  4211. >Another sigh leaves through your nostrils and begin your trek toward what could possibly be the tallest mountain in Tartarus
  4213. --------------------------------------
  4215. Part 15
  4217. >Huff
  4218. >Puff
  4219. >Huff
  4220. >Puff
  4221. >Oh dear Auntie
  4222. >You can’t handle anymore
  4223. >You need a breather
  4224. >But if you stop right now you’re gonna slide all the way down
  4225. >Just keep up and, you’re almost at a rock shelter
  4226. >Or whatever the fuck they call it
  4227. >Just… some… more…
  4228. “Uuuugh”
  4229. >Your grunts of overexertion permeate the arid air around you as you finally pull yourself to some horizontally straight piece of floor and flop onto your back
  4230. “Haaah…
  4231. >You pant and moan in tiredness
  4232. >Fuck, you need water
  4233. >And some ground air
  4234. >You dare not look down and see how much progress you have made, because if you do…
  4235. *gulp*
  4236. >Well let’s say that knowing you don’t have your wings to back you up yet won’t help calm your nerves
  4237. >But you know you’re tall
  4238. >Because the air is fucking hard to breath here
  4239. >Less oxygen and all that jazz
  4240. >Rarefied air if your memory isn’t failing you
  4241. >Those classes sorta soared over your head
  4242. >Sorry Auntie, she’s a dear and you love that Alicorn to death
  4243. >But her fucking lectures are boring as shit
  4244. >No wonder Twlight was the only one who managed to follow through with those classes of her, that nerdy, egghead pony
  4245. >She even introduced you to an old classmate of hers, who was a literal palette swap of Twilight
  4246. >The only differences being that she wears glasses
  4247. >She’s ALMOST as nerdy as Twilight
  4248. >But seems to show a lot more constraint than your fellow princess when it comes to studies and researches
  4249. >Now anyways
  4250. >According to Twilight she used to be worse than her
  4251. >Now Twilight is worse
  4252. >Sucking a few more chunks of low pressure air
  4253. >You carefully roll onto your tummy and stand up
  4254. >Fortunately, you have managed to climb almost the entire mountain
  4255. >It helps that unlike that shitty cliffside, the mountain isn’t fucking ninety degrees vertical
  4256. >It’s a slope
  4257. >A very steep slope
  4258. >But as slope none the less, and that you can climb up with way less hardships
  4259. >Just keep a steady hoof, and watch where you’re stepping
  4260. >Now the climbing the slope part is done since you reached the final part of the-
  4261. >Actually, now that you’re probably on one of the tallest places in Tartarus
  4262. >Maybe you can actually try to spot the Well from your height
  4263. >Fuck going back to Tirek for him to give you instructions
  4264. >You’re tall as fuck, nothing will stop you from spotting the Well of Spirits a-
  4265. >-aaaaaand the fog won’t let you…
  4266. >You lick your lips in annoyance
  4267. >[spoiler]Can’t see shit captain[/spoiler]
  4268. >Somehow you didn’t notice the massive fog, or whatever, covering the upper part of the mountain
  4269. >That’s probably because you were too busy literally hugging the wall and dragging your face across the entire climb, begging yourself not to look down, and praying not to fall off
  4270. >Well fuck, looks like you’ll need Tirek’s help one way or another
  4271. *Shiver*
  4272. >And you better go to his cave right now because it’s getting cold
  4273. >And from your little experience with high places
  4274. >The higher you get, the colder it gets
  4275. >So you fish your scarf from your saddlebags, one of the few things you haven’t managed to lose yet
  4276. >After tying the warming fabric around your neck and shoulders, you make way toward Tirek’s cave
  4277. >From this point onwards, literal climbing isn’t needed, because there’s a pathway doing laps around this massive mountainous monster
  4278. >It takes a few minutes for you to finally… not reach the cave
  4279. >You stop when you see the rock beneath you start to gain a thin layer of snow
  4280. >Well damn, you knew things were gonna get cold, but now you know that cold is nothing but an understatement
  4281. >Fishing the rest of your hoof guards, you put them on your hind legs to at least try and keep your hind hooves warm
  4282. >It’s better than nothing considering you only have an incomplete set after your failed attempt of giving up and escaping like a bitch
  4283. >Not anymore, you’re only getting out of here with a Soul Stone in hoof or Celestia helps you, you’ll start tearing this place apart with your magic once your horn heals up
  4284. >Ignoring the snow, you continue your way up the stone/snow track, going up in wide, lengthy loops because this mountain just have to be wide as hell
  4285. >At the very least the path is wide as well, meaning you don’t have to carefully measure your steps so much
  4286. >It isn’t until many minutes later that the hike starts getting difficult
  4287. >Because it started fucking snowing
  4288. >Actually, snowing is calling it lightly
  4289. >You have your wings held tightly against our sides with the saddlebag’s belt, while hugging the wall as much as you can because of a damn blizzard
  4290. >So strong is this blizzard, in fact, that it was starting to push you back, as if the mountain itself didn’t want you getting to the top
  4291. >Hugging the wall means both holding yourself from being blown away in case it gets even worse
  4292. >And guiding you, because the snow storm is so thick you can’t see shit
  4293. >You just hope you’re getting near Tirek’s home, because it’s too cold, and you don’t have anything on you aside from the scarf and hoofguards to keep you warm
  4294. >What you wouldn’t give for mug of hot chocolate right now
  4295. >Your scarf is no longer covering just the base of your neck, and with the end hanging off your shoulders back
  4296. >You wrapped that shit all around your neck, head, and muzzle, just leaving your eyes free
  4297. >Not that it’d matter anyway, since you can’t see anything on this blizzard
  4298. >All you can do is drag yourself along the mountain wall hoping you’ll find Tirek’s home soon
  4299. >And this soon doesn’t come soon enough dammit
  4300. >How long is this path?
  4301. >Seriously
  4302. >It’s been what; an hour you’ve been doing laps around this mountain?
  4303. >By this point you should’ve reached the ca-
  4304. “IIIAAAAHH!!”
  4305. >A yelp escapes your lips when your body suddenly stumbles into the mountain, and you fall flat on the cold ground
  4306. “Ooof”
  4307. >You grunt on the floor, nursing your poor chin as you slowly get up
  4308. >Looking around, you see yourself right at the opening of a cave
  4309. >And you gasp lightly, eyes alight with hope
  4310. “Is this it?”
  4311. >The cave goes further inside the mountain, and you quickly rush deeper to see if your hunch stands correct
  4312. >A few seconds later you find the highly sought after home
  4313. >And it looks… okayish
  4314. >You pull the scarf off your face and let it hang down from your neck and shoulders
  4315. >You shouldn’t expect any better; this is fucking Tartarus after all
  4316. >But considering this IS Tartarus… it doesn’t look too shabby
  4317. >Looks like an actual home to be fair
  4318. >A poor pony’s home
  4319. >But a home none the less
  4320. >It has a poorly hoofcrafted stone table without equally poorly hoofcrafted stone chairs
  4321. >With his size and body, chairs would only be a nuisance
  4322. >On one of the corners is what you can only guess is a chest where Tirek’s belongings must be
  4323. >It’s made of carved stone and is closed up by a stone slab
  4324. >The orb you’re looking for must be there
  4325. >But back to being nosy about other ponies houses
  4326. >There’s also a furnace built into the wall, that also doubles as a fire place
  4327. >Hay, he even carved a head sized hole all the way to the outside to prevent smoke from filling the place
  4328. >A guy like Tirek is definitely into cannibalism
  4329. >You’re sure of it
  4330. >Those fangs and sharp teeth aren’t for show
  4331. >And there’s also a few more miscellaneous things
  4332. >A rudimentary bathroom
  4333. >Which is just a carved up room with a hole so deep you can’t see the end of it
  4334. >Because of course it’s gonna be a hole, how are you gonna make a functional toilet in Tartarus?
  4335. >A large stone slab, the size of the cave’s entrance, by the cave’s entrance
  4336. >Likely to seal it from the inside from whatever danger decides to show up and protect from the cold
  4337. >Because it’s still really cold here
  4338. >The cave might be deeper into the mountain, but the raging blizzard definitely manages to push its freezing winds into the place
  4339. >Every surface so far is cold as hay
  4340. >Anyway, there’s another equally poorly hoofmade shelf built into the mountain walls holding many scrolls
  4341. >You approach the shelf to take a look at the scrolls and cringe in disgust when you see they’re made of skins
  4342. >Pony, griffin, minotaur, it doesn’t matter; you see ripped hides from many different creatures, there’re even dragon skins
  4343. >Geez, you don’t fuck with decrepit, magicless, Tirek it seems
  4344. >Or maybe those were done before he became old and weak
  4345. >Dude did spent a gazillion years in this place
  4346. >More than likely he grew weaker with time and-
  4348. >You zip toward the ‘bed’ with speeds that’d make Rainbow Dash feel inadequate of her abilities
  4349. >You mean; it’s not a bed bed
  4350. >The ‘frame’, much like the shelf and furnace is a hole built into the wall
  4351. >With a lot of fur covered skins over it to make it cushiony
  4352. >It looks fucking disgusting
  4353. >But you’d be dammed it this also doesn’t look like the most comfortable thing you’ve ever seen ever since you set hoof in this fucking place
  4354. >You look at the bed like the maker himself bestowed upon you a divine gift
  4355. >Fuck that orb, you can look for it alter
  4356. >And Fuck Tirek too, he’s not going anywhere anyway
  4357. >He can keep waiting for all you care you need this rest ASAP
  4358. >Without much thought put into your desperate actions
  4359. >You pick up all the scrolls in the shelf you were inspecting just a moment ago
  4360. >There aren’t many, but what they lack in quantity and make up in length
  4361. >And these lengthy scrolls go straight into the furnace
  4362. >With a well placed kick, you procced to break a leg of the stone table, giving you a bunch of fragments, when just two are needed, to which you pick up
  4363. >You rip some fur out of the bed’s skins and voila
  4364. >You have all the ingredients needed to start a fire
  4365. >Shit’s cold, and you ain’t gonna sleep in the cold
  4366. >Using the survival training Shining gave you for emergencies
  4367. >You hit the two stones together until you get sparks that lit the fur into a small fire
  4368. >Blowing it lightly as to not extinguish the flame you just made, the fire slowly grows bigger and wilder
  4369. >Now all you have to use the stone in hoof to push the fire into the scrolls and woosh
  4370. >Yeaaaaah!
  4371. >That’s a nice flame
  4372. >Going to leave a terrible stench of burnt skin, but who cares? Not you, that’s for sure
  4373. >You wait a few moments for the place to warm up before heading for the bed
  4374. >Without a shred of hesitation
  4375. >Showing once again how fucked you’re gradually getting
  4376. >You throw yourself into the cozy, fuzzy bed
  4377. “Aaaaaaaa…”
  4378. >The satisfied moan just leaves your mouth instantly
  4379. >It’s so comfy
  4380. >You stretch all of your limbs, neck, legs, wings, hearing as they all pop, leaving you all tensionless
  4381. >Shuffling the contents of the bed around your body as you dig yourself deeper into the mounds of dead skin and fur
  4382. >You’re surrounded by dead ponies and many other creatures Tirek murdered to make this bed
  4383. >But you don’t care, not at all
  4384. >For now, at least
  4385. >You’re too tired for this shit
  4386. >Sleep now
  4387. >Guilt later
  4388. >…
  4390. >…
  4391. *Thunk*
  4392. >”Ah-wha-“
  4393. >The sound of a heavy object hitting the floor scares the old gold awake
  4394. “Here’s the orb, just as promised”
  4395. >The look of bewilderment on his face, you like it
  4396. >The kind of look from somepony who expected nothing only to get proven wrong
  4397. >It fills you with a bit of pride
  4398. >The orb in question is, well, a round, smooth, crystal like object colored blue
  4399. >It pulses a purple color from time to time as well, giving it a pretty cool look if you’re honest with yourself
  4400. >After waking up from the best sleep you had in the last three weeks and a half, you believe
  4401. >You filled your stomach with your increasingly low food, and went to that stone chest to find the orb
  4402. >Quite easy to find it, honestly
  4403. >The chest wasn’t that big, and it wasn’t that filled
  4404. >The other stuff in there were broken weapons and the skull of many creatures
  4405. >After getting the orb and a furry skin coat big enough to cover your body, you made it out of the cave and the mountain
  4406. >Climbing down the mountain was easy
  4407. >And kinda fun too
  4408. >You made your way down snowy path until there was no more snow, and proceeded to slide down the massive slope part of the mountain
  4409. >Careful not to trip and roll down, of course, and using your still healing wings to slow down whenever you went too fast
  4410. >Speaking of wings, they’re healing quite nicely
  4411. >You still can’t fly with them, but gliding seems to be an option from now on
  4412. >”So you did it, huh?”
  4413. >He yawns and scratches his chin
  4414. “Of course I did”
  4415. >You pump your chest in pride
  4416. >It took two fucking weeks to go and return
  4417. >Your supplies are getting are decreasing by the day as well
  4418. >You have to hurry
  4419. “I just don’t know if this thing is working”
  4420. >You comment, scratching the back of your head
  4421. >Of course curiosity got the best of you, and you tried to activate the orb to see what was happening on the outside
  4422. >More specifically, Shining and Flurry Heart
  4423. “I tried to use it but nothing happened”
  4424. >He snorts smugly
  4425. >Well sorry if I don’t know how to make the thingamagig I’ve never seen before start up
  4426. >”Of course it won’t work, it starts by voice, command, or my touch”
  4427. >By voice, command, and touch?
  4428. >So it’s kinda like those cellphone thingies the humans have?
  4429. >”I enchanted this orb to only work with me, look”
  4430. >He reaches his lanky arms across the bars and grabs the orb
  4431. >Lifting it up to your eye level, he says some weird words you never heard of before and the orb lights up
  4432. >Soon, on its surface, an overhead view of all of Equestria is shown
  4433. >Just like the Crystal Heart
  4434. >Are they perhaps made of the same type of crystal?
  4435. “Wow…”
  4436. >You look at it, entranced, imagine having a Crystal Heart that shows you what you want without having to read hearts and search for ponies
  4437. >You shake your head though
  4438. >This isn’t what you’re here for
  4439. >You got the orb
  4440. >Now you want info
  4441. “Okay Tirek, I did my end of the bargain, now tell me, where’s the Well of Spirits?”
  4442. >He looks at you with chin jutting out forward, then looking up
  4443. >Don’t think it over, just say it you old goat
  4444. >”Well, it’s only fair, a deal’s a deal”
  4445. >Yes!
  4446. >Do it, do it, do it!
  4447. >”Just like my home, the Well of Spirits is located at the top of a mountain”
  4448. >As if sensing your rising despair he continues
  4449. >”It’s nowhere near as high as the one I used to live in”
  4450. >You sigh in relief
  4451. >”It’s in that-”
  4452. >He points at a direction, the total opposite of where his home was, before he starts fiddling with his orb
  4453. >”-direction”
  4454. >You look there and see not just one, but many mountains high and short, in the distance
  4455. >And to makes things worse, they’re all very far from one another
  4456. >Meaning it could take days, even weeks to inspect all of them and find the one you’re after
  4457. “But how will I know which one is which”
  4458. >You ask, still looking in the distance
  4459. >”The Well of Spirits is the only one that have smoke coming out of the top”
  4460. >You lean your head to the left and right, but see no mountain with a smokey top
  4461. >”You won’t see it from here, the smoke itself is very thin”
  4462. >You swear you heard him also call you an idiot, but you’ll let it pass
  4463. >You’re not the one stuck here forever, after all
  4464. >”When you get close enough, you see the smoke billowing from the top of the mountain, that’s where the Well of Spirts is located”
  4465. >…
  4466. >Well this is it, you guess
  4467. >The final obstacle of your journey
  4468. >After getting there and getting a Soul Stone, all you have to do is make all the way back
  4469. >It looks like it’ll take a few days-worth of traveling to get there
  4470. >Hopefully by the time you do get to the Well, your wings and horn, or at least one of them, will be healed
  4471. >Either just flying or magic is good enough for you
  4472. >It’d make the journey back to the gates of Tartarus much easier and faster
  4473. >”You know, I’m surprised you actually made it back here”
  4474. >Huh-wah?
  4475. >You hear him call you from behind, and you turn to face the caged villain
  4476. “What; didn’t expect me to actually do it?”
  4477. >You puff your chest in pride, the smug washing over the place in droves
  4478. >There’s nothing more satisfying than making a villain admit they were wro-
  4479. >”No, I know for a fact you Alicorns are incredibly resilient, even one as unremarkable as you”
  4480. >Ow, you wince
  4481. >”What surprised me is that, I purposefully didn’t mention I had plenty of scrolls in my home”
  4482. >Yeah, you noticed that, the smell was pretty bad when you burned them to make a fireplace
  4483. >But it did keep you warm, leading to your absolute best sleep in Tartarus
  4484. >”They were diaries, or logs, whatever you may call them, and one of them had the location of the Well of Spirits written on it”
  4485. >…
  4486. >Wut…?
  4487. >But you…
  4488. >”I thought that once you got there you’d end up reading them and going straight to the Well of Spirits, leaving me here, bored out of my mind without the orb”
  4489. >…
  4490. >…
  4491. >W.h.a.t.!?
  4492. >”But you grabbed the orb and made it all the way back here instead”
  4493. >…
  4494. >…
  4495. >…
  4496. >”I guess a Thank you is in order, so, thank you”
  4497. >…
  4498. >…
  4499. >…
  4502. --------------------------------------
  4504. Part 16
  4506. >One hoof at a time, Cadance
  4507. *huff*
  4508. >One hoof at a time
  4509. *puff*
  4510. >Carefully and methodically
  4511. >Don’t me hasty, Cadance
  4512. *huff*
  4513. >You don’t want to slide down the mountain, Cadance
  4514. >You don’t want to hike it all the way up again, Cadance
  4515. *puff*
  4516. >Hold yourself from hurrying it up, Cadance
  4517. >You’re almost there, Cadance
  4518. >You can taste victory, Cadance
  4519. >It wouldn’t be cool to lose your hoofing and slide all the way down, Cadance
  4520. >But….
  4521. >It’s literally just there
  4522. >Just a few more minutes away
  4523. >You want to make them seconds
  4524. >And it can happen if you hur-
  4525. “AAAHH!”
  4526. >You lose your grip on the slope and slid down a few meters down, before managing to catch yourself
  4527. >Slamming your head against the slope beneath you
  4528. >You mentally chastise yourself from losing focus
  4529. >You gulp a dry lump
  4530. >Okay, rest for a bit
  4531. >You pant heavily, puffs of white smoke more than visible coming out of your mouth
  4532. >And sweat drips down your face and into the rocky slope
  4533. >Evaporating into sweaty steam as soon as it touches the rocky ground you’re standing on
  4534. >And much to your charging, said sweat also trickle down your to hooves, making them slippery as a motherfucker
  4535. >Much like you did back on Tirek’s mountain, you hug the slope as close as you can to prevent yourself from sliding all the way down
  4536. >Oh yeah, did you mention the heat this place is giving off?
  4537. >That’s why you’re sweating so much
  4538. >A combination of being extremely tired, and being fried alive by the heat waves
  4539. >Tirek’s mountain was cold from top to bottom, with top being extra chilly
  4540. >But this Well of Souls is letting out heat like a blacksmith’s forge
  4541. >You’re just halfway through the climb for the Well
  4542. >Assuming Tirek didn’t fuck you over
  4543. >And it feels like you’re inside of a sauna
  4544. >If the sauna’s the internal mechanism broke and started expelling excruciatingly hot steam
  4545. >The likes of which just standing within could damage your body
  4546. >But you’re an Alicorn, so you can handle hotter than hot steam
  4547. >Doesn’t mean you enjoy it
  4548. >It has just made the climb even fucking harder for you
  4549. >You don’t even know if this is the right mountain and you’re doing this bullshit because you believed the words of the asshole who chained you in Tartarus and tried to kill all your friends
  4550. >But this is also the only mountain with smoke coming out of the top
  4551. >While making your way through the general directions of the mountain range
  4552. >Much like Tirek said
  4553. >The smoke only became visible when you were around halfway through because of how thin it was
  4554. >Hay, you only managed to see it because of your superior Alicorn senses, from your enhanced Pegasus eyesight
  4555. >If you were a Unicorn, or an Earth Pony, or maybe even a regular Pegasus, you wouldn’t see shit unless you got closer
  4556. >No offense, but being an Alicorn is just straight up better
  4557. >You got stronger magic than most unicorns, save a few
  4558. >Thinking of you Starlight
  4559. >And apparently the now not deceased Starswirl
  4560. >Stronger body and physical prowess than most Earth Ponies
  4561. >And overall better flying skills, climate handling, and eyesight than most Pegasi
  4562. >Anyway
  4563. >Considering you were facing the wrong mountain when you noticed the almost impossible to catch smoke spewing out of the top of one of them
  4564. >If you were either Unicorn, Earth Pony, or Pegasus you’d have to spend many days, maybe weeks just looking for the right mountain
  4565. >Now back to this fucking mountain
  4566. >You continue to pant heavily as you take a breather
  4567. >You almost want to smile
  4568. >After all, you’re nearly getting to the end of this madness
  4569. >But the fact that the info was given by Tirek out of everypony still entices a little bit of justified doubt in your heart
  4570. >However, that can only be confirmed by getting to the top and facing the music
  4571. >So up you go
  4572. >One hoof at a time, Cadance
  4573. >Careful not to slip again
  4574. >One
  4575. >Two
  4576. >One
  4577. >Two
  4578. >You chant in your head
  4579. >Keeping both mind and body focused on the task at hoof
  4580. >You’re nearly there
  4581. >You can even see a glow from the top
  4582. >No way this isn’t it
  4583. >Just a few more steps and you’ll finally reach your objective
  4584. >Hopefully
  4585. >After what felt like an eternity
  4586. >You reach the top of the not as high as Tirek’s, but still a pain in the ass to climb, mountain
  4587. >You hook a leg over the edge, and then the other, and then use your hind legs to push your head up the edge that separates you from your goal an-
  4588. >…
  4589. >Holy shit
  4590. >You stare flabbergasted at the sight before your eyes
  4591. >That smoke you were seeing wasn’t just smoke
  4592. >They’re… they’re souls floating around alongside vapor
  4593. >And the water
  4594. >It isn’t water at all
  4595. >It’s souls
  4596. >The contents of this well… lake, whatever, are the actual souls themselves
  4597. >Looking just like water, and slowly flowing in a circular fashion
  4598. >It looks more like a volcano than a lake, or a well, actually
  4599. >Only instead of lava
  4600. >It’s just spirits
  4601. >With a grunt, you push the rest of your body over the edge, and into the margin of the Well
  4602. >Still panting from fatigue, you crawl to the edge of the well and dip a hoof into the well
  4603. >Only to quickly retract it immediately with a hiss and in shock
  4604. >Not only is it piping hot
  4605. >But it feels like actual water
  4606. >Same feeling and consistency
  4607. >But none of that getting wet shit
  4608. >Holy shit
  4609. >A place like this is unreal
  4610. >You’re looking at, at the very least, thousands, if not tens of thousands of souls
  4611. >All confined to this place
  4612. >Most, if not all, creatures your aunties condemned to living the rest of the lives in this hayhole until they died
  4613. >You’re sure to see them in a different light from now on
  4614. >With shaky legs, you stand up and look down at the glowing fountain of spirits before you
  4615. >You remember what the book said
  4616. >The Soul Stones are located at the bottom of the well
  4617. >This well that’s literally bubbling from the heat
  4618. >You don’t wanna do this
  4619. >But you have to
  4620. >Your horn’s still trashed
  4621. >Which sucks
  4622. >If it were still working you’d able to just float one out of the Well
  4623. >But it’s not, it’s still healing
  4624. >And you feel it’ll be fully healed in a week or so
  4625. >But you’ll waste all your food if you wait it out here
  4626. >And you’d have to make all the way back in one go with no food
  4627. >But, you don’t have enough mana potions for consecutive teleports until you reach the gate
  4628. >Not to mention having to open the fucker from the inside out, you’re gonna need those mana potions
  4629. *gulp*
  4630. >Be strong Cadance
  4631. >You try to say to yourself as you unbuckle the single remaining, trashed saddlebag, only letting the belt stay around your barrel
  4632. >You’ve gotten this far, don’t you dare chicken out
  4633. >Your wings are mostly healed at this point
  4634. >So you can use them swim faster
  4635. >Get to the bottom fast, and get out fast
  4636. >You can do it, Cadance
  4637. >Just ignore the pain
  4638. >You’re been through a lot
  4639. >More than anypony would have without losing their mind
  4640. >Pain...
  4641. >You can resist the pain, Cadance
  4642. >Your breathing gets more erratic and you barely notice
  4643. >Unlike the other times where pain was inflicted on you
  4644. >You’ll be inflicting this upon yourself
  4645. >Be strong, Cadance
  4646. >Remember why you’re doing this
  4647. >Just clench your teeth hard and-
  4648. “JUMP!”
  4649. >You dive into the searing hot well with a splash
  4650. >Eyes instantly shut down and your body contorts into a ball from the pain as the bubbling hot soul water surrounds your whole body from every possible direction
  4651. >But you can’t stop
  4652. >Beating your wings and swinging your forelegs as hard as you can
  4653. >You pull yourself further into the depths of the well as best as you can with your eyes closed
  4654. >Going as fast as you can
  4655. >Ignoring the pain as much as you can
  4656. >The only thing helping you being that you’re an Alicorn and you are naturally more resistant
  4657. >Doesn’t make it any less painful
  4658. >You feel your muzzle hit something
  4659. >And a quick eye opening reveals exactly what you’ve been looking for
  4660. >The Soul Sone, a bunch of them at the bottom
  4661. >You grab one
  4662. >Or at least you try
  4663. >They’re too stuck and intertwined between one another for your hoof to circle around one and pull
  4664. >The space is too tight
  4665. >Moving up to the next, you also try to pry it off the bottom
  4666. >But this one too is fucking stuck
  4667. >Same for all the next ones
  4668. >You can’t even wrap your legs around them to pull
  4669. >Damn you hooves, you wish you had hands right now
  4670. >You close your eyes again and grunt inside your mouth as the pain gets worse by the second
  4671. >Making you contort into a ball once more
  4672. >But as you do, your wings brush against your saddlebag’s belt
  4673. >And it hits you right there
  4674. >Unbuckling the damn thing as fast as you can
  4675. >You slide the end between the space your hoof couldn’t, and tie it around the stone
  4676. >Ignoring any warnings your head might’ve given you, you stomp your hind legs onto the well’s bottom, clench your teeth on the other end of the belt and PUUUUUUUULLLLLL
  4678. >Your burbled grunt is all that can be heard
  4679. >Hind legs and wings are brought to their limits as you use all your remaining strength to pull the stone
  4680. >C’mon
  4681. >You don’t want a budge, you want the entire thing
  4683. >With one final pull, you finally managed to dislodge the damn thing
  4684. >And immediately start swimming your way back to the surface
  4685. >Beating your wings faster than you have ever before, the glowing surface gets nearer and nearer until
  4687. >You take in as much air as you can with a belt held in your mouth
  4688. >As soon as you surface, you throw your body to the edge and climb over the margin
  4689. >You roll into a ball and hold yourself tight, trying desperately to soften the pain in any way you can
  4690. >No amount of first aids will help you
  4691. >All you can do is tough it out
  4692. >Your uneven breath and pained grunts is all that can be heard in the following minutes
  4693. >Hay, not even minutes, might as well be hours, you don’t know how long you’ve been there trying your damn hardest to stallion it up
  4694. >Just contorting left and right, rolling into a ball, arching your back, you name it
  4695. >Finally, after what felt like ages your Alicorn physiology kick-starts and you feel the pain dissipate
  4696. >Very, very slowly
  4697. >Still in pain, you roll onto your back and tried to suck in as much air as you could
  4698. >Each rise and fall of your chest sending sharp pains through your whole body
  4699. >Like somepony’s stabbing you with hot needles all over
  4700. >Still, you look at the tied up soul stone you managed to grab
  4701. >Holding it up by the belt, you look at the wispy looking stone dangling around your hoof, just like it was portrayed in the book
  4702. >The sides of your vision begin to waver and blur
  4703. >You feel snort on the back of your throat before you start chuckling
  4704. >And then laughing
  4705. >And then sob
  4706. >You cover your eyes with your other leg, in a failed attempt to prevent tears from spilling out from your eyes as you laugh and cry out at the same time
  4707. >You did it
  4708. >You finally did it
  4710. --------------------------------------
  4712. Part 17
  4714. >After taking around a day or two to rest from diving in the searing hot… souls…
  4715. >And not at all crying your heart out during all the time
  4716. >You finally
  4717. >FINALLY!
  4718. >Started your journey back to the gate
  4719. >Because you got the antie damn Soul Stone
  4720. >The cause of all your suffering and strife, finally conquered
  4721. >It’s over, it’s finally over
  4722. >From this point onwards it’s just going back all the way you cam
  4723. >And surprisingly enough, you got no burn marks
  4724. >As hot as those… souls were… well, souls, not water
  4725. >You’re still trying to get how souls have liquid consistently
  4726. >You’ve got no idea if it’s because it wasn’t actual water, or if it was your Alicorn-ness that prevented you from getting any permanent scars
  4727. >Unfortunately though
  4728. >Despite the watery consistency of the souls
  4729. >It still wasn’t water, so not only were you not wet when you came out
  4730. >You’re still covered in crusty, dried up blood and puke
  4731. >Much to your charging
  4732. >It could’ve at least washed out all of this dried up blood
  4733. >Well, not that it matters much anyway
  4734. >After you leave this place you’ll take a dip in the first lake you see and immediately wash off all the dirty, grime, blood, puke, and any other disgusting substances covering your coat and mane
  4735. >And to your immense relief
  4736. >Your wings finally healed up
  4737. >The removed feathers grew back and now you can actually start flying again
  4738. >Your horn so far still a no go
  4739. >However, you know it won’t take long for it to fully heal as well, as you can feel your magic slowly returning
  4740. >But having your wings back make things so much easier
  4741. >The first thing you do is fly back to the prison section of Tartarus and fly over one of the four Cerberus guarding cell-platforms
  4742. >Your first visit?
  4743. >Tirek, surprisingly enough
  4744. >”Oh, it’s you again”
  4745. >The old goat barely gives you a once over before his eyes go back to his orb
  4746. “Yes it’s me again”
  4747. >You can’t keep the smile off your face
  4748. >And you can see that it irritates him
  4749. >Maybe he didn’t expect you to come back
  4750. >Or maybe he wanted to die on the way
  4751. >But you don’t care, you came here for a reason
  4752. “Well Tirek, surprisingly enough, you didn’t trick me like you did Discord”
  4753. >He goes ‘eh’ and shrugs his shoulders, still staring at his orb
  4754. >Whatever it is it must be interesting if he doesn’t keep his eyes off of it
  4755. “So I came here to thank you”
  4756. >You bow your head
  4757. “Sincerely, thanks for the help; if it weren’t for you, I’d still be wandering this place like a lost filly”
  4758. >He raises and arm and waves it dismissively
  4759. >”Whatever, you got what you wanted right?”
  4760. “Well, yea-“
  4761. >”Then stop bugging me and go your way”
  4762. >Huff
  4763. >The nerve of the old coot
  4764. >Even after being thanked he still acts like an ass
  4765. >Guess it can’t be helped
  4766. >So you shrug your own shoulders and fly straight toward another cell-platform
  4767. >The one holding a friend
  4768. >Maybe she doesn’t consider you one
  4769. >But you damn sure consider her a friend
  4770. >Flying above the pathways, you spot the cell your friend’s being held
  4771. >And make a dive for it
  4772. “Chrysalid!”
  4773. >The ex-changeling queen head turns your way and her eyes widen as soon as you dive bomb and glomp her
  4774. >Wrapping your hooves around the changeling you give her a very tight hug and a nuzzle to her neck
  4775. “Aaaah, what! No! Stop! Stop!”
  4776. >Chrysalid tries to push you off of her but you don’t let go
  4777. >Then you start kissing her on the cheek for good measure and she yelps even louder in embarrassment
  4778. >”Naaaaaaaah!”
  4779. >And then she finally turns off
  4780. >You can even see smoke coming out of her ears
  4781. >Looks like you broke her
  4782. >You giggle a little and continue to hug her until she finally wakes up again
  4783. “Thank you so much Chrysalid”
  4784. >You stop your playful hugging and hold her more seriously this time, nuzzling her neck as you do so
  4785. >That gets her to stop fighting off the hug
  4786. >”W-what are you talking about, Princess?”
  4787. >The ex-queen squirms in your hold
  4788. >You can’t see her face right now, as your head is resting on her shoulder neck
  4789. >But you can feel emotions, not just love
  4790. >And she’s blushing in embarrassment, that’s for sure
  4791. “Thanks to you I could finally get what I’ve been looking for”
  4792. >Her uneasiness slowly deteriorates before her forelegs slowly wrap around your barrel
  4793. >You can feel she’s very confused, and because of her changeling instincts, she doesn’t understand if she’s supposed to like or hate this
  4794. >Her mind seems to tell that she should hate this, based on her experience as queen
  4795. >Yet her body yearns for affection
  4796. “If I never stopped to talk to you, I would never be able to find the place I’ve been looking for”
  4797. >”I… well, I’m glad I could help, but could you maybe stop?
  4798. >You can, but you won’t
  4799. >”This is so strange…”
  4800. >Her voice lowers as you feel her head move to rest on your shoulders
  4801. >”Not even… not even my daughter hugged me before”
  4802. >Chrysalid’s forelegs tighten around your barrel ever so slightly
  4803. >Her body starts trembling, as she buries her face on your shoulders
  4804. >Son enough you start to hear a sob
  4805. >Oooookay, you didn’t want to make her cry
  4806. >It was nowhere near your intent
  4807. >You just wanted to thank her and maybe make her feel some of your joy
  4808. >But you can feel this is for the best
  4809. >For the first time in thousands of years Chrysalid has an outlet for all her inner turmoil
  4810. >You’re not gonna ruin this for her
  4811. >…
  4813. >…
  4814. >After leaving an embarrassed and flustered Chrysalid swearing that she wasn’t crying
  4815. >And promising you’d do everything in your power to take her out of Tartarus
  4816. >You continue your journey back towards the gates that will lead you to victory
  4817. >The travel was fortunately uneventful
  4818. >Even if you felt like you were being watched a couple of times
  4819. >Which is fairly regular to be honest
  4820. >You felt yourself being watched tons of times and some of these times you were jumped by some lunatics trying to kill you
  4821. >The sensation happening again isn’t anything new
  4822. >And hey
  4823. >Your horn finally healed up
  4824. >HU-FUCKING-RRAY!!
  4825. >Your wings and horn are back to working condition, and you couldn’t be any more excited
  4826. >You were so happy you immediately took flight and flew straight towards the gate
  4827. >No more beating around the bush baby
  4828. >You were just waiting for the moment your horn healed for you to do this
  4829. >No way you’re facing that Cerberus without your magic
  4830. >The one guarding the gates is the biggest of them all, easily twice as big as any of the four Cerberus guarding the four entrance points of that prison section of Tartarus
  4831. >But now that you have your magic all you need to do is put it to sleepy and boom, Cerberus down
  4832. >Not teleports
  4833. >Absolutely no teleporting you, or him away
  4834. >Teleports take too much magic, only geniuses or prodigies can master it very early to the point of spamming the damn thing like Twilight and Starlight
  4835. >You’re no genius, nor prodigy, you gotta practice to master teleportation, and unfortunately you never have the time with having to run an empire, be a wife and a mom, and match humans to mares almost every day
  4836. >Twilight gets it easy, she’s a Princess but her duties boil down to reading all day, telling Starlight to fuck of- you mean, sending her on friendship tasks, and read all day
  4837. >So you’ll need to conserve as much magic as you can get
  4838. >Because turns out you only have one mana potion remaining
  4839. >You thought you had more, guess they were all gone when half of your shit went down the chasm with that giga-tatzlwurm
  4840. >Still
  4841. >One is more than enough
  4842. >You’ll put the big boy to sleep
  4843. >Open the gates
  4844. >Drink the potion
  4845. >Cross the gates
  4846. >And dive straight into that fluffy snow just waiting on the outside
  4847. >Hmmm, yes
  4848. >All that cold, soft snow will do wonders to your sore muscles
  4849. >Specially after that dive in the Well of Spirits
  4850. >With reinvigorated determination, you beat your wings with great force, rocketing yourself toward the massive obsidian construct in the distance
  4851. >This is it, you’re finally getting out
  4852. >Nearing the gate, you catch sight of the giant Cerberus and narrow your eyes
  4853. >Before you ran past him to save magic and stamina
  4854. >But this time he’s going down
  4855. >Down to dreamland that is
  4856. >You’re not gonna hurt a dog
  4857. >You’re not that far down the rabbit hole
  4858. >Sliding on the ground as you land, you stop just a few meters away from the behemoth
  4859. >Your hooves clacking scraping on the rocky floor catch the dog’s attention almost immediately
  4860. >The head closest to you faces your direction, before the Cerberus’ entire body turns towards you and it rushes like a bulldozer
  4861. >But you’re not intimidated this time
  4862. >You faced worse, scarier things than a mutant three headed bulldog in your journey through this Celestia forsaken land
  4863. >Any fear the Cerberus could get out of you is now non-existent as you shoot a simple spell out of your horn and watches as the bulldozing bulldog bull-rushes straight into the floor
  4864. >The deafening sound from the proceeding collapse of the giant dog reminds you of a building getting torn down from the inside out and falling onto itself
  4865. >You even felt the earth quake beneath your hooves
  4866. >That dog ain’t getting up anytime soon
  4867. >That’s a simple, but powerful spell that puts anyone it hits to sleep for at the very least an hour
  4868. >Well now
  4869. >Target down, time for the main event
  4870. >Circling around the Cerberus, you stand in front of the obsidian gate that at least a month ago gave you the most excruciating pain you ever felt in your entire life
  4871. >Even taking that dive at the Well of Spirits didn’t compare to having your magic forcefully sucked out of your body
  4872. >Now you gotta do it again
  4873. >…
  4874. >Breath in Cadance
  4875. >Two magic tendrils fly from your horn all the way to the levers
  4876. >Breath out
  4877. >You pull the absurdly heavy levers up
  4878. >Breath in
  4879. >Turn the levers
  4880. >Clench your teeth
  4881. >Don’t screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-
  4883. >Holy shit
  4884. >It hurts just as bad as it did before
  4885. >Don’t let it go Cadance
  4886. >Just close your eyes, clench your teeth harder, and try your best to ignore the pain
  4887. >After minutes of enduring having your magic literally sucked out of your body
  4888. >And you gasp when the gate finally stops sucking your magic
  4889. >The levers fill up completely and go back into their cylindrical containers
  4890. >Fueling the gate with your magic, as the cyan once again starts to fill up the markings engraved on the obsidian monolith
  4891. >Panting in exhaustion, you pull out the last remaining mana potion from your saddlebag with your magic and drink thirstily
  4892. >It’s not cold like last time
  4893. >But it does wet your dry lips and feels great down your throat
  4894. >It’s gonna take a few minutes for the effects to take place
  4895. >But the fact that you’re still standing shows how much tougher you’ve gotten since your journey began
  4896. >Now all you need to do is cross that gate and say goodbye forever to this pla-
  4897. >!
  4898. “Guh”
  4899. >You stumble forward a bit, bottle falling from your magic grip and shattering against the floor
  4900. >Without understanding much except the sharp pain in your chest, you look down to see the end of a blade perforating your ribcage all the way from your back, before falling to your knees
  4901. >Amidst the pain very slowly catching up to brain, you hear a voice behind you
  4902. >”Leaving so soon, Princess?”
  4904. --------------------------------------
  4906. Part 18
  4908. >”Blurgh”
  4909. >The wet cough does nothing but send the crimson, iron flavored liquid you’ve gotten so familiar with straight to the floor
  4910. >The blade struck right where belt was located, the worn fabric of the belt, and weight of the bag doing the rest of the job in ripping the belt of, sending the bag to the floor
  4911. >Spilling its now meager contents out
  4912. >It happened so suddenly you can barely register any pain
  4913. >Blood drips from the newly made wound, forming a small, but slowly expanding puddle beneath you as you rack your brain for what the hay is going
  4914. >Your jaw clenches like never before, doing its best to not let out a bloodcurdling howl of pain as your brain finally processes you’ve been pierced from behind
  4915. >And you nearly scream out again when the blade is forcefully ripped out of your body, leaving the wound even more open, letting blood flow and drip at a faster rate
  4916. >”Leaving so soon, Princess?”
  4917. >You hear a feminine voice behind you
  4918. >And turn your head ever so slightly to see who the culprit might be
  4919. >Standing on top of a rock formation, you only see the silhouette of a unicorn
  4920. >With two blades shrouded in blue mist
  4921. >Mist that glows with just enough light for you to see a wide grin on the unicorn’s face
  4922. >”That makes this host very, very sad”
  4923. >Says the unknown unicorn with the most mocking tone you’ve ever heard
  4924. >Turning yourself fully while holding a hoof to the wound in your chest, you start taking in her feature as best as you can from the illumination given by her magic
  4925. >Dark blue coat like aunt Luna’s, riddled with marks, to which you assume are scars
  4926. >And a filthy white mane, pulled back in a ponytail, with two long fringes and a pair of sideburns framing her face
  4927. >Her body type is unlike the average mare’s
  4928. >She’s taller, more slender, and her facial features are sharper and less rounded
  4929. >She’s got the physique similar to that of an Alicorn
  4930. >Not unlike that of Fleur De Lis mare
  4931. >Or even yourself
  4932. >This mare looks oddly familiar for some reason, but you can’t make a connection as to why
  4933. >As already mentioned, she’s got two floating stone blades by her sides
  4934. >Rapiers if memory serves you right, with each handle shrouded in a cyan blue glow
  4935. >Just like your own
  4936. “Well… sorry if it bums you out, but I need to go”
  4937. >You try to respond with as much wit, but it isn’t as effective when you wince and hold back a grunt; just talking is making the wound on your chest hurt
  4938. >”Even after relishing on all the pleasures of Tartarus?”
  4939. >You’re inclined to say yes, but you don’t want a reaction out of her, so you opt to stay quite
  4940. >She jump down from her high ground and lands gracefully a few meters from your position
  4941. >Allowing you to take her appearance a little better, and even her cutie mark
  4942. >Her cutie mark is an upright bass, or a cello, you don’t know, with a rapier crossing it like a bow
  4943. >No, not crossing, slicing it in half
  4944. >You don’t want to know what her cutie mark means
  4945. >“At least, let me go first”
  4946. >What?
  4947. >”I’ve been stuck here for at least two decades, you can have your chance later, after all, you can live forever”
  4948. >She gives you a stupid grin, knowing full well what she’s asking for is mental
  4949. >And no, you can’t, and that grin displays she knows that well enough
  4950. >No with this injury, you can’t, you’ll bleed to death, and you have no way to heal yourself
  4951. >No amount of living forever can heal up a chest wound like this, even being an Alicorn can’t prevent you from dying
  4952. >Only from dying as fast as a normal pony
  4953. >Two, three hours, is what you got
  4954. >If you manage to get out first and get her stuck here, you can at least teleport yourself to the nearest town, even if such jump takes up all your mana
  4955. >At least from there the townsfolk will know what to do and get you to a hospital
  4956. >Watching her carefully, you take a pained step back once again, while this mare starts rounding you like a shark sizing up its prey
  4957. >”I know this is the last you’ll ever hear of me, but allow me to introduce myself nonetheless”
  4958. >She says without stopping
  4959. >”My name is Midnight Blues”
  4960. >The dark blue mare places a hoof over her chest
  4961. >Midnight Blues
  4962. >Midnight Blues….
  4963. >That name rings a bell, but you can’t quite put a hoof on it
  4964. >“And thanks to you, I’m getting out of this hayhole”
  4965. >Oh hay no, she’s here for a reason, and whatever reason it is, you’re pretty sure it’s bad enough
  4966. “N-no, you’re not”
  4967. >Beating your wings, you make a mad flight towards the open portal
  4968. >Your hurt, but flying is less painful than walking or running right now
  4969. >And you intend on that to your adva-
  4970. “Gaah”
  4971. >A sudden pressure in the air sends you plummeting towards the floor, sliding just inches from the glowing portal
  4972. >The impact makes the pain from your wound echoes throughout your entire body
  4973. >”No I’m not?"
  4974. >She smugly remarks, tauntingly approaching you with a glowing horn and a raised eyebrow
  4975. >You try to extend a hoof, trying to crawl your way out, but she just pulls you back roughly and recklessly with her magic
  4976. >Dragging your open would along the dirt
  4977. >"Princess, you’re in no shape to tell me what not to do”
  4978. >Still pulling you, she casually passes by and makes a beeline straight towards to the open portal
  4979. >Oh no, she won’t
  4980. >Using the last bit of magic you still have before the potion’s effect start to take place, you summon a massive crystal wall all the way to the top, blocking her exit from Tartarus just as she was about to cross the portal
  4981. >And leaving you completely dry on mana
  4982. >She stops midstride, staring at the crystal construction from top to bottom and back to the top
  4983. >Glowing sword in tow, she uses one to tap the crystal wall, as if inspecting the thing
  4984. >You watch as the unicorn takes a few steps backwards, and horn glowing before she lets loose a blast of magic
  4985. >The magic missile explodes on contact, and the ensuring smoke covers an entire section of the wall
  4986. >Until it discipates and reveals not even a scratch was made
  4987. >You can help but huff out a smirk despite your sorry state
  4988. >Good luck, bitch
  4989. >Those crystals are the real deal, only you can make them disappear
  4990. >Only your aunts have the fire power to brute force their way, and tear it apart
  4991. >”Well…”
  4992. >She mutters, slowly turning toward you, eyes showing no amusement
  4993. >After all, you just cut off her only way out
  4994. >“Ain’t this a thing?”
  4995. >She sneers
  4996. >“All I’m asking is for you to let me go ahead too, nothing bad will come from it”
  4997. >Nothing bad your flank
  4998. >The moment she sets hoof on the other side you’d be stuck here
  4999. >You don’t give a shit how many years she waited for a moment like this, but you’re up here with Tartarus
  5000. >Besides she’s here for a reason; whatever she did was heinous enough for your aunt to exile her to this awful place
  5001. >And her name still rings around your head
  5002. >It’s at the tip of your tongue, but you still can’t quite remember
  5003. >Anyway, you can’t just let her go like that
  5004. >As much as you want to just so you can get away from this place as soon as possible
  5005. >You’re still a Princess
  5006. >And just Princess of Love or not, you still have a job in upholding justice and punishing the wicked
  5007. >That’s usually your aunts’ job, but Celestia always did tell you that one day you would have to make decisions like this as well
  5008. >And she taught you right
  5009. >You can’t let her go
  5010. “My aunt banished you here for a reason, and I can’t just let you go free like that”
  5011. >Her eyebrows shot up for a moment before they go back down into a scowl
  5012. >”So you’re Celestia’s niece?”
  5013. >He scowl turns into a grin as she licks her lips
  5014. >”Well, this makes things a little more interesting”
  5015. >She faces you completely, stone swords twirling in her magical grip
  5016. >Your eyes narrow as your legs spread just slightly
  5017. >”Oho, what is that stance, you think you can take me on?”
  5018. >She rolls her shoulders and pops her neck, giving you the smuggest grin you’ve ever seen, while you’re barely able to keep yourself still
  5019. >All pain and fatigue finally adding up after only Celestia knows how long
  5020. >When you reached the gate the sign was already gone, meaning you’ve been here for at least a month already
  5021. >You know you can’t take her on
  5022. >She’s looks surprisingly well rested from how casually she throws magic around, despite being in Tartarus for longer than you have
  5023. >While you’re on the brink of collapse
  5024. >That crystal wall stunt took literally all you had
  5025. >And the effects of the potion need at least five minutes to fully take effect
  5026. >Until then you’ll have to use every little ounce of the potion you can as they slowly refill your reserves
  5027. >You can’t fight her
  5028. >The best you can do is stall her and wait until your magic is refilled enough so you can take down the wall and teleport your flank out
  5029. >If she needs somepony to open it for her than it means she either doesn’t have enough magic to open the thing, or can’t take the physical toll without fainting
  5030. >You can’t take her on right now, but you’ll do your best to keep her occupied
  5031. >You still got your wings after all
  5032. >”So, no chance of ever changing your mind?”
  5033. >Her line only gets you to widen and hold your stance as firmly as you can
  5034. >”Well”
  5035. >She shrugs
  5036. >“If you insist”
  5037. >And immediately charges forward with both blades ready to slice you
  5038. >Your eyes widen at the speed in which she dashes towards you, and barely evade the attacks, before hearing Midnight muttering to herself
  5039. >”It’ll be fun playing with you”
  5040. >Oh fuck, she’ one of the crazy types
  5041. >Any thought you could’ve head is interrupted when she spins in place and bucks you on your chin, sending you flying back before hitting and rolling down the floor
  5042. >Putting a hoof out to stop your momentum, it might’ve not been the best idea as it puts so much pressure into your shoulder joint dislocates
  5043. >But any yelp or scream had to be postponed when you look up just in time to lean back and avoid a sword stabbing the ground right where your head used to be
  5044. >Rolling into a standing position, you unfurl your wings and take flight
  5045. >Flying up, you beat your wings as hard as you can to widen the distance between you and the crazy unicorn
  5046. >While trying to sooth the pain in your leg with a good rub, you almost don’t notice the sword flying in your direction all the way from the ground
  5047. >You swivel to the left barely in time, gaining a cut in your right cheek, a and fly off to the left as the second comes rocketing towards your position
  5048. >Only for a flash to appear in your front, blinding your sight and stopping you dead on your tracks, where you receive another drop kick to the head, sending you barreling towards the floor
  5049. >Shaking the dizziness, you open your wings and pull yourself up just in time to not hit the floor and make a u-turn towards the sky
  5050. >Midnight is right there, using her magic on the bottom of her hooves, like platforms to float in place, swords by her sides once again
  5051. >”Pretty nifty trick, huh? ”
  5052. >She says out loud, taking a few as if she’s on solid ground
  5053. >As much as the situations doesn’t call for giving credit to the enemy
  5054. >You’re impressed
  5055. >”Now”
  5056. >Midnight calls out
  5057. >”We can still make an agreement, we cross the gate at the same time, you don’t tell Celestia, and I won’t hurt you anymore”
  5058. >Like hay you’re gonna agree to that
  5059. >Letting a maniac leave Tartarus is out of question
  5060. >You might want to get out of here as soon as you can, but letting this bitch out?
  5061. >Only over your dead body
  5062. >Upon seeing in your eyes that you’re not giving in to her requests, she just sighs and twirls her swords again
  5063. >”Fine, but just so you know, only dodging won’t get you anywhere”
  5064. >Of course you know that, but you’re just stalling her
  5065. “We’ll see about that”
  5066. >You respond
  5067. >Adrenaline fueling your body to the point the pain in your chest’s wound feels more like an annoyance
  5068. >Once again, she sends her swords rocketing toward your direction, forcing you to shift positions and fly around the stone missiles
  5069. >You flip, swivel, loop, and u-turns, sharp turns, barrel rolls, you name it
  5070. >Every possible fling trick you know to keep the rock swords from skewering you from any direction
  5071. >All the while your brain can’t stop racking about her name
  5072. >You’ve heard or read it somewhere
  5073. >”C’mon, is this everything you can do!?”
  5074. >She taunts you, sword nearly stabbing you in the flank
  5075. >”You’re an Alicorn, put up a damn fight!”
  5076. >You avoid another slash, but this one nicks you in the back
  5077. >”Last time I fought one, she beat me so hard I wasn’t even conscious when she threw me here!”
  5078. >She fought your aunt?
  5079. >Why does it sound so familiar?
  5080. >A flash’s glow from behind interrupts your train of thought, and instincts tell you to duck
  5081. >Lowering your head rewards you with not getting hit by a kick to the back of the head
  5082. >Doesn’t stop her from quickly darting for your mane with her magic, spinning you around her, and throwing you towards one of her waiting swords
  5083. >You swivel just in time, but gain another cut your barrel as a result
  5084. >Nothing deep, but the damage keeps piling up, which is bad
  5085. >Very bad
  5086. >Your dodges start to get sloppier, and your altitude lowers by the second
  5087. >You’re getting tired
  5088. >The slashes come out just as fast before, and they’re starting to nick your body as you barely dodge them
  5089. >Damn potion, just do your job
  5090. >You can feel some magic back, but it’s not enough to trop the wall and teleport next to it
  5091. >Sometimes Midnight herself dive bombs towards you when her swords keep you busy
  5092. >And without time to react you have to cross your good foreleg to block her kicks
  5093. >For a unicorn she sure can hit hard
  5094. >This game of cat and mouse continues, dodging her slashes, and blocking her punches and kicks, making you more tired and getting you more injured with small gashes until-
  5095. >!
  5096. >You remember now!
  5097. >Midnight Blues, the famed assassin who tried to take your aunt’s live when you were but a little filly
  5098. >It was all over the news back then
  5099. >An unicorn assassin, wanted all over Equestria, known for taking the lives of multiple targets of varying social positions, but generally politics and nobles, and always leaving without a trace, infiltrated the Royal Castle and tried to assassinate Celestia while she slept
  5100. >Only it wasn’t Celestia’s room she had found
  5101. >It was yours
  5102. >In the dark she saw your multicolored mane from under the covers and confused it for Celestia’s
  5103. >If your aunt’s random sudden bursts of future seeing ability hadn’t kicked in, you’d be dead right now, for she had rushed into the room and immediately fought the would be child killer
  5104. >The mare you’re fighting right now is the same who almost killed you over twenty years ago
  5105. >”Think fast!”
  5106. >Huh, wha-!
  5107. >You hear a scream from behind you, and turn to see the mare dive bombing you again
  5108. >With a broken concentration and coordination, you don’t find the time to fly away, and pull up your right front leg to block the incoming attack
  5109. “GUH!”
  5110. >!
  5111. >You look down, but don’t understand
  5112. >Blood seeps from between your lips as you continue to stare confusedly at the mare
  5113. >You’re… blocking her
  5114. >”Idiot…”
  5115. >The mare in front of you dissipates, giving place to a sword stuck in your gut
  5116. >”I knew you’d try to block that”
  5117. >Hearing a voice above you, turning your head rewards your face with a magic powered punch that sends you rocketing toward the ground beneath
  5118. >Your body bounces hard on the floor, cracking it on impact, and driving the sword deeper into your gut before it snaps in half
  5119. >All that adrenaline keeping you from feeling your wound is gone, and now you have three holes, one on your chest, the connecting one from the back, one in your barrle, and everything in between to deal with
  5120. >And it all hurts like a motherfucker
  5121. >Midnight floats down by your side and rips the rest of sword out with her magic, spilling your blood all over the floor
  5122. >She casually inspects the broken stone blade and with an annoyed huff, discards it by throwing it away
  5123. >Meanwhile, all you can do is curl into a ball and hold your gut
  5124. >”Tsk, tsk, tsk, how disappointing”
  5125. >She shakes her head
  5126. >”I expected more from an Alicorn, to be honest”
  5127. >With a kick, she flips you onto your back and stomps your wound
  5129. >The pain is immediate
  5130. >Midnight looks toward the crystal wall and then you
  5131. >”I assume that wall is kept up by your magic, correct?”
  5132. >You just grunt wrap your hoof around her own, trying to pull the offending member off your injury
  5133. >What that does, however, is convince the mare to push harder into your wound, making you squirm in pain
  5134. >”So if I weaken you, it’ll go down, right?”
  5135. >No it won’t, it’ll only go down if you magic it away, or die
  5136. >But you’re not saying that, you’re not that stupid
  5137. >”Who’re you anyway? I’ve never seen you before; I thought Celestia was the only Alicorn”
  5138. >She almost killed you and she doesn’t even know who you aaa-
  5139. >Aaaaarrgh!
  5140. >She takes her blooded hoof off your wound and holds your mane with her magic, pulling your head to her eye level
  5141. >All you can respond are grunts and moans of pain
  5142. >”I asked you a question, my dear”
  5143. >She brings a hoof up and slowly pushes your wound open with her hoof
  5144. >”NnnnggghaaaaAAAARGH”
  5145. >You try to hold back the scream, but you can’t it hurts too much
  5146. >She keeps going for a full ten seconds before stopping leaving a panting, grunting mess
  5147. >”So?”
  5148. “I- nnnggh- I’m Princess… Cadance”
  5149. >You nearly cry out between pained moans
  5150. >”Princess Cadance? Never heard of you”
  5151. >She… literally almost killed you when you were a filly…
  5152. >That statement itself hurt more than any wound for some reason
  5153. >Is this how… is this how forgettable you are?
  5154. >She drops you to the floor, but holds you down against the floor with her magic
  5155. >Preventing you from curling into a ball again
  5156. >“Do you even have a theme like Celestia?”
  5157. >She taps her chin
  5158. >What is wrong with her?
  5159. >Your rapid breathing prevents you from answering immediately
  5160. >But when you see her lift a hoof to hit you, your voice is found
  5161. “W-why are you doing this?!’
  5162. >That gives you a raised eyebrow from her
  5163. >“Well”
  5164. >She licks her lips, rolling her eyes innocently
  5165. >”At first it was because I want that wall down, and kicking you a bit might do the trick”
  5166. >She kicks your side, but you hold a grunt
  5167. >”But then you said you’re Celestia’s niece. She’s the one who put me DOWN here, you know?”
  5168. >As she says the forceful down, Midnight kicks your face so hard a blood covered tooth flies off your mouth, bouncing on the floor leaving tiny puddles of blood on its wake
  5169. >”So I want a little revenge, petty as it is”
  5170. >She chuckles to herself
  5171. >“Anyway, do you have a theme or not?”
  5172. >She sounding a little more impatient
  5173. >Your eyes dart to the crystal wall and the portal
  5174. >Reminding you it is still far from reaching ten minutes and your magic to be refilled
  5175. “Why… do you wanna know that?”
  5176. >You ask between your breaths
  5177. >”Kind of a habit of mine, I’ll admit, I like to know about my targets”
  5178. >She shrugs nonchalantly
  5179. >”But obviously I have no file to read here, no document, letter, nothing detailing the job”
  5180. >She leans down, looking at you in the eye
  5181. >”So I have to ask personally, that’s all”
  5182. >Midnight pokes you on the nose, and shove your face to the side before standing up
  5183. “I- I’m the princess of… l-love”
  5184. >You stammer out
  5185. >”Princess of love?”
  5186. >She looks at you incredulously
  5187. >You… you don’t like that look
  5188. >Midnight stares at you some more before she bursting out laughing
  5189. >Don’t… laugh…
  5190. >She laughs so much; her hold on you is even released
  5191. >Allowing you to turn into your stomach and curl into a ball, trying to suppress the pain with all your being
  5192. >No matter how much you can suppress your physical pain, hearing her laugh about your special talent just makes it hurt even more
  5193. >”Princess of Love, are you serious?”
  5194. >You hear her calling during her howler
  5195. >While she continues to laugh, you finally gather strength to ask your own question, trying to ignore the rising feeling inside you
  5196. “Do… you really think you can j-just leave and live your life… again?”
  5197. >You ask between your raggedy breaths, a little more aggressively than you initially intended
  5198. >You’ve no idea if she even heard you, but you continue none the less
  5199. “C-celestia will know you escaped- nnngh- and she will hunt you down, you k-know?”
  5200. >That got her laughter to wane a little
  5201. >“Haha-ha, oh, she can hunt me down alright, but do you think she’ll have the guts to try and apprehend or kill me when I have you as hostage?”
  5202. >Your eyes snap wide open
  5203. “Hos-what!?”
  5204. >You hear her laughing again, but this time it’s laced with malice, rather than mirth
  5205. >”You really think I’m this stupid?”
  5206. >Midnight walks up in front of you and leans her head down your face yours again
  5207. >“You’re my failsafe now, my guarantee that Celestia won’t ever get close to me, unless she wants her pretty little relative back with a sliced throat, of course”
  5208. >”I were hoping you would be stupid enough to let me go through first and get you stuck, but guess even was being foolish, so taking you with me is the next best thing”
  5209. >Her unsettling grin makes itself known again
  5210. >“As long as I have you, she’ll never dare to attack me”
  5211. >What… the
  5212. >”Before, I just guessed you were just a fellow princess, because you’re an Alicorn, you know. And I knew Celestia would come to the rescue any way or the other, but now that I know you’re her niece, hoo boy”
  5213. >She pats you in the cheek
  5214. >”She’s not touching me with a ten hoof pole”
  5215. >Midnight stands up and laughs off again
  5216. “You… you’re sick”
  5217. >You spat out
  5218. >”This is Tartarus sweety, what did you expect, candy and tea parties?”
  5219. >She ruffles your dirty mane
  5220. >This… this mare
  5221. >She’s crazy
  5222. >”So what do you do as Princess of Love?”
  5223. >You feel your body go stiff as her magic takes a hold of you once again
  5224. >You don’t feel like answering
  5225. >You don’t this mare knowing about your li-
  5226. “AAAAAARGH”
  5227. >She stomps the wound on your back, the first one she made
  5228. >And you clench your teeth
  5229. >Not that it stops the blood from seeping from the hole of the missing tooth and spilling on the floor
  5230. >”C’mon, it’s not like you have anything else to do”
  5231. >She chuckles
  5232. >”Just say it”
  5233. >Not really wanting to feel any more pain you concede to her wishes
  5234. >Just hang on some more Cadance, when your magic comes back, you’ll just blast off into the portal and leave her behind
  5235. “I… I can feel the feel the *guh* the love between two ponies…”
  5236. >You huff in pain; just talking is talking a massive toll on you
  5237. “And I’m responsible for matching single mares with…”
  5238. >Don’t Cadance
  5239. “… with…”
  5240. >If you say she’ll laugh
  5241. >You don’t want her making fun of your talent anymore
  5242. >”With whom; single stallions?”
  5243. >You can feel the mirth coming back to her voice
  5244. >You don’t like it
  5245. >She rotates her hoof on your wound, and you squirm in agony under her vicious handling
  5246. “With… human males!”
  5247. >You gasp out
  5248. >Her hoof stops moving, but she’s doesn’t remove it from your back
  5249. >”…”
  5250. >What, not saying anything?
  5251. >”Heh, okay, assuming I know what human males are”
  5252. >You don’t like that laugh, not at all
  5253. >”That’s got to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard”
  5254. >…. stop it
  5255. >”No seriously, you’re an Alicorn princess, whose job is to play matchmaker?”
  5256. >She barks out loud again, arrogance seeping from her voice
  5257. >…. stop that, your talent is not dumb
  5258. >”Celestia is the great monarch of Equestria, supreme leader of an entire nation, can move both the sun and the moon, most powerful pony in the world, with a massive army at her beck and call”
  5259. “… shut up…”
  5260. >You mutter
  5261. >Stop comparing you to your aunt
  5262. >You’re not a shitty Princess…
  5263. >”And all her niece can do is match ponies?”
  5264. >She takes her hoof off the wound on your back and goes back to ruffling your mane
  5265. >”Why, aren’t you a cute one? I bet Celestia’s real proud of you, the bright sun of her day, the Princess that plays matchmaker BHAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA”
  5266. >This… this bitch!
  5267. >”Don’t tell me you’re here because you tried to match someone inside this place?”
  5268. >… shut up…
  5269. >Shut up
  5270. >Shut up!
  5271. >”Not only is your talent dumb, you’re just as stupid as well, to get into Tartarus willingly”
  5272. >Your special talent’s not dumb
  5273. >Y-you’re not stupid!
  5274. >”HAHAhaha, my, are you trembling? So it is true!”
  5275. >Keep laughing…
  5276. >Keep laughing!
  5277. >”Did I hit a nerv-“
  5278. >Midnight didn’t get to finish her sentence
  5279. >Because she’s too busy eating your hoof to say anything
  5281. --------------------------------------
  5283. Part 19
  5285. *POW*
  5286. *WOOSH*
  5287. *CRASH*
  5288. >”Gaah!
  5289. >Midnight gasps in pain when her back collides with an upturned piece of rock, cracking it in the process
  5290. >The same one she back stabbed you from
  5291. >Her back slides against the formation and falls sitting on the floor, mane dropping around her shoulders, free of their now ripped bindings
  5292. >Not enough for her, however, for she just brings a hoof to her muzzle and rubs off a trickle of blood from her lips
  5293. >”Not bad, looks like the Princess have bi-“
  5294. >Not enough for you too!
  5295. >Rocketing from your spot, you cock a hoof back and try to drive her skull into the rock formation
  5296. >Only for the assassin to teleport out of the way
  5297. >You manage to drive something into the rock, alright
  5298. >Your right hoof, shoulder deep into Midnight’s last location, with cracks running along its length
  5299. >”Well, would you look at that”
  5300. >Turning your head, you look at the unicorn mare standing behind you, a few safe meters away
  5301. >A soft tug of your leg reveals it to be stuck
  5302. >”Who would’ve thought you had it in you?”
  5303. >Forcefully pulling your hoof out causes the entire formation to crumble and collapse in front of you before you turn to face the assailant
  5304. >”I was beginning to think you didn’t know how to fight”
  5305. >Your only response is grabbing your left foreleg, and push your dislocated shoulder back into place, before rolling it and craning your neck
  5306. >The popping of your joints echoes through the general area
  5307. >It would’ve sounded menacing or unnerving to the mare in front of you
  5308. >If Midnight weren’t so sick in the head
  5309. >And if you weren’t so mad
  5310. >You charge towards the cobalt mare with your hoof cocked back once again
  5311. >But she side steps your punch, trying to slash your barrel
  5312. >And she would’ve if you didn’t place both hooves on the floor and flipped away from her
  5313. >Landing from your flip, you rush towards her again, only to be side stepped once more
  5314. >And for another attempt at your barrel to be made
  5315. >Only instead of flipping away, you swivel in place
  5316. >Dodging the slash, and giving you an ample opening to
  5317. >”Guugh”
  5318. >Punch her in the gut
  5319. >It hurts, doesn’t it?
  5320. >You’re not your aunt but you’re still an Alicorn
  5321. >You’re dealing with enhanced earth pony physical strength
  5322. >Stumbling back while holding her stomach, she swipes her sword, but with a beat of your wings, you widen the distance between you two
  5323. >Not done yet with her, you widen your stance and fire a magic blast with the little mana you have refilled
  5324. >Fuck waiting for enough magic to replenish to escape
  5325. >You’re gonna beat her up, and then you’re getting out
  5326. >Midnight, however, showing she’s no slouch, charges her stone blade with magic and cuts your blast in half before her horn glows again
  5327. >The only indication that something was about to happen was the ground beneath you shaking up just slightly
  5328. >Before rock spikes started jutting out of the floor
  5329. >You barely managed to flip away from the first one, gaining a gash on your shoulder
  5330. >But the next ones were promptly dodged as your flipped away from the continuously rising rock spikes before taking flight and avoiding them altogether
  5331. >You look at the gash on your shoulder, and it looks worse than the nicks you received from Midnight’s swords
  5332. >A whistling sound, however, breaks your inspection as you look forward to see the sword rocketing towards your face
  5333. >You lean your head and cleanly avoid it
  5334. >But a flash in front of you blinds your eyes just enough to not prevent a knee from striking you in the chin, blowing your head back
  5335. >Unfolding your wigs wider, you stop the backwards momentum before you lean your whole body forward and send a punch towards the floating assassin
  5336. >Said punch, however, wasn’t meant to be as she raises her own foreleg to deflect it to the side and strike you give you a taste of your own gut punch, to the open wound at that
  5337. >You clench your teeth and hold the pain, kicking her in the ribs
  5338. >Midnight responds with a haymaker to your face, and you answer with an uppercut
  5339. >The exchange of blows ends with the two of you locking hooves and headbutting each other
  5340. >Horns crossed as you glare into the eyes of the mare who not only tried to kill you, twice, but trash talked your talent, and everything you stand for
  5341. >All the mares and men you helped
  5342. >All the work and hardships you put yourself through
  5343. >All just…
  5344. >Which only fills you with so much anger
  5345. >”What’s the matter Princess, got a lot less talkative… all of a sudden”
  5346. >She smirks, trying to push your head back
  5347. >But it doesn’t budge
  5348. >It wouldn’t budge because you are stronger than her and she knows it
  5349. >”Don’t tell me you’re mad I made fun of your job?”
  5350. >She smirks, thinking she’s been smart and smug
  5351. >Except you your head back and headbutts her
  5352. >Dazing her just enough to knee her in the gut
  5353. >”UUUurgh”
  5354. >She grunts and holds her stomach with both front legs, an expression of pain on her face while you wind up another blow
  5355. >When a punch to the temple is about to hit, she teleports and appears right behind you
  5356. >Kicking you in the back of the head and sending you flying down
  5357. >With the help of your wings, you straighten up in the air just before hitting the ground, and back up see an incoming sword flying your way faster than usual
  5358. >However, how fast the blade goes doesn’t matter when you beat your massive wings and fly off to the side, letting the sword cut the air by your side and plunge itself into the ground, before you rush towards the floating mare with both hooves stretched forward
  5359. >Only for her to teleport away
  5360. >This continues for a few more moments
  5361. >With Midnight teleporting in and out of your way
  5362. >And every time you try to land a hit, she teleports again before getting potshots at you
  5363. >Why can everyone teleport better than you?
  5364. >Hearing the flash behind you, you raise your foreleg, predicting and preventing a kick from hitting you on the side of your face, before elbowing her on the gut
  5365. >”Ooof”
  5366. >and proceeding with a spinning elbow with the defending foreleg to her temple
  5367. >”Aaargh!”
  5368. >Before she can fly off to the side, however, you hold onto one of her hind legs like you mean it
  5369. >You see her trying to use her magic to probably teleport again
  5370. >But you give her leg a good squeeze, hearing the bones beneath her skin and flesh crack under the pressure
  5371. >That might do the trick of throwing off her magic as you hold her
  5372. >”AAARGH”
  5373. >She grunts before exclaiming
  5374. >”Let… GO!”
  5375. >If you insist!
  5376. >You start spinning in place, making her spin around alongside you
  5377. >The two of you spin until you become blur, where you let go of the mare and she rockets straight towards the hard floor
  5378. >You’d assume she’d use her magic to slow her descent, but not only does she do that, she swivels in the air, to avoid, once again, the blade rushing straight to your face
  5379. >You’re starting to get really mad at that sword
  5380. >Flapping our powerful wings, you easily avoid the missile of a blade and go instead straight for the mare still gathering her bearings on the floor
  5381. >Flipping in the air, you aim your hind legs instead, for a drop kick
  5382. >But she sees you barreling towards her and backflips out of the way
  5383. >Lucky for her
  5384. >Because if she didn’t you would’ve broken her spine harder than you broke the ground with your kick
  5385. >Your legs get stuck in the rubble, but nothing that a good pull doesn’t resolve the problem
  5386. >It dislodges a few loose rocks along, not that you care though
  5387. >The only think you care now is Midnight
  5388. >Looking at the cobalt mare, you can see her looking tired already
  5389. >There are bags under her eyes, blood dripping from her nostrils and lips
  5390. >And of course, erratic breathing
  5391. >Not that you can blame her
  5392. >Taking direct hits from an Alicorn is not for everypony
  5393. >You’re surprised she isn’t puking blood right now
  5394. >Or that you didn’t snap her neck with that first punch
  5395. >This Midnight is definitely stronger than she looks
  5396. >But she’s also lucky
  5397. >Your magic still haven’t restored completely, so you’re pretty much stuck with literally beating her with your hooves save for the simplest spells like that magic blast
  5398. >But magic blasts require proper aiming
  5399. >Something you’re not very good at while moving or against moving targets
  5400. >You’re better off just punching the shit out of her
  5401. >”Guess I was wrong about you”
  5402. >Midnight speaks between her heavy breaths
  5403. >”You’re quite the tough cookie, aren’t you?”
  5404. >If she’s trying to butter you up to make you slip she’s got another thing coming
  5405. >Her muzzle contorts into a smirk and she widens her stance
  5406. >”But you’re still not beating me, if it were your aunt I’d be out cold in seconds, you’ve still got a long way to go”
  5407. >You get it, your aunt is powerful
  5408. >Undeniably so
  5409. >Hay, the only reason why she gets cheap-shotted so much is because she’s afraid of her own overwhelming power
  5410. >The glow on Midnight’s horn immediately sends you red flags, and you side step just in time to evade getting impaled from behind by a sword for the third time
  5411. >The shrouded blade continues flying and stops beside its owner, twirling by Midnight’s side
  5412. >Almost like it has a life of its own
  5413. >The mare looks like she’s about to say something
  5414. >But you don’t want to hear anything, so rushing again you do
  5415. >Like a repeat of the same tactic; she side steps and tries to slash your barrel
  5416. >You do a hoofstand and ready yourself to flip away from her range
  5417. >Only this time Midnight drops low and sweep kick your forelegs before you do
  5418. >And try to stab your gut again, if didn’t you arc your back down and kicked the sword down with your hard hoof
  5419. >Keeping the momentum, you land on your hind legs and uppercuts her chin, blowing her head and body up, getting her up to her own hind legs
  5420. >That must’ve shaken that brain real good, because she’s showing no signs of reacting
  5421. >You continue with a haymaker and a punch to the gut
  5422. >Punch after punch, you keep her body propped up, not letting it fall back
  5423. >But when you go for another shot to her temple, she finally does something and ducks before wrappings her forelegs around your offending leg and flips you over her shoulder head first
  5424. >It took until the last second for you to swerve your head just enough for your horn not to suffer
  5425. >And back is her sword, ready to stab you in the throat if you didn’t roll away
  5426. >Rolling to your hooves, you try a point blank blast of magic, tearing the ground in front of you apart, leaving you nearly dry
  5427. >But Midnight manages to teleport out of the way just in time, and goes for your most obvious blind spot, your back, where she’d succeed in slashing your head off by the neck if you didn’t dive roll away
  5428. >She did managed to shorten your mane with that stunt, not like you care enough though
  5429. >She follows through, though, and doesn’t let up, trying to cut you any way possible as well as combining a few hoof-to-hoof moves
  5430. >Wielding a sword with magic and going for a hoof fight at the same time is quite the deadly combination
  5431. >You counter, duck, dodge and weave a multitude of attacks, getting a struck by a few punches and nicks, but nothing anywhere near as bad as the holes in your chest and back
  5432. >More importantly, she looks very tired, what was once an erratic breathing turned into heaves as she desperately gulps for air during her onslaught
  5433. >She tries to go for a straight punch, but you lean to the side and get into her guard, using her momentum to cross counter her punch with your own straight
  5434. >Midnight’s head’s blown so far back you almost think you snapped her neck, until you see her horn glow and you flap your wings just in time to fly back and evade the blade eviscerating you
  5435. >Both of you fly back, though one not by her own accord
  5436. >Midnight falls on her back, and immediately flips herself back on her legs before wasting no time using her magic to propel herself at you, seeing that hanging back was not helping
  5437. >You, in turn, copy her action and rush towards her
  5438. >Her horn glows and spikes rise from the floor beneath you, but you evade all of them effortlessly, spinning and swerving out of the way
  5439. >When she nears you, everything slows down
  5440. >Her sword is already poised to strike, and her following slash could’ve been fatal, for it was aiming directly at your jugular
  5441. >If you didn’t raise your right foreleg to block
  5442. >The blade drives down on your leg, almost slicing off a piece of your flesh
  5443. >And it would’ve, had you not tensed your muscles so hard it stopped the blade from continuing its way until it slashed off a chunk of your leg
  5444. >The look of shock on Midnight’s face and her immediate freeze seals the deal as you flick your leg and shatter the rapier in half and time returns to normal
  5445. >You bull rush through her now nonexistent guard and stab your horn through her heart
  5446. >And just like that, the fight ends
  5447. >You drive your hooves into the floor, ripping the ground apart as you slide down to a dead stop, panting and heaving in fatigue
  5448. >Lifting your head is hard, now that you have a slightly convulsing body attached to your head
  5449. >Her fresh blood drips down from the newly made wound and washes your face with the familiar crimson substance and drops to the floor beneath you
  5450. >This time however, it doesn’t faze you
  5451. >The gurgling sound above reminds you that you still have a living unicorn impaled on your horn, and with a flick of your head, you throw her off your horn, letting her body bounce nearly lifelessly against the floor
  5452. >Surprisingly, Midnight’s not dead yet
  5453. >Maybe you didn’t hit her dead center in the heart
  5454. >Or maybe she’s just that tough
  5455. >Anyway, it doesn’t matter
  5456. >You won
  5457. >There’s no need to fight anymore
  5458. >You don’t think Midnight will even get up after this
  5459. >So you just turn around and face the crystal covered gate
  5460. >In a few minutes the portal in the gate will close and will keep you stuck here for another month if you don’t go through the thing
  5461. >And this time you don’t know if you’ll manage to survive of you do get stuck here again
  5462. >You also really need to take care of these injuries
  5463. >The adrenaline from the fight’s still running high, keeping your pain tolerance at maximum
  5464. >Looking down at your right leg, you wince when you see the injury that last stunt you pulled gave you
  5465. >You now have piece of open flesh hanging, almost like a flap
  5466. >Not deep enough to see bone, but still pretty nasty looking
  5467. >Nothing some magic stitching, magic healing, lots of bandages, and multiple dressings won’t resolve
  5468. >It’ll leave a scar, but you won’t die over it
  5469. >And the broken blade’s still there, the half that that nearly sliced a chunk of your leg off, lodged in your leg
  5470. >Bringing it to your face, you take the blade between teeth, and pull it off your leg with small wince, before whipping your head and spitting it behind you
  5471. >Looking around, your eyes wander as you try to spot the saddlebag that got separated from you in this whole situation
  5472. >Finally you see the bag and walk towards it
  5473. >As you approach it though, you see the Soul Stone spilled out, still intact, but seeing the stone triggers a memory for a brief moment
  5474. >>“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…”
  5475. >Starlight’s words echoes around your mind
  5476. >And you immediately turn your head back to see the squirming mare doing her best to stay alive
  5477. >You need a near dead pony
  5478. >With no way of survival
  5479. >Midnight is near dead….
  5480. >… and no way she can survive…
  5481. >Using as little magic as possible, you pick the belt and saddlebag, and tie them around your barrel as best as you can
  5482. >And with an unsettling automatic response
  5483. >You do a one eighty and walk toward the downed mare, drowning in a pool of her own blood
  5484. >Hearing the clip-clops of your steps, the assassin turns her head and looks at you
  5485. >Her eyes look glassy, like life is slowly slipping away from her body
  5486. >But even in this state, as the looks at you, she can’t help but smirk
  5487. >Maybe she finds something funny?
  5488. *Cough*
  5489. >She pants and coughs heavily, blood flying out of her mouth, and onto the pool of blood from her chest wound
  5490. >”What… gonna finish me off or something?”
  5491. >You say nothing, and continue to stare at the mare
  5492. >She’s not there yet, you cannot rush the process
  5493. >And it’s not like you can do it anyway, you still need for your magic to replenish
  5494. >Any moment now you’ll be good to go
  5495. >While you look at her, you notice her cutie mark again
  5496. >The upright bass, or cello, whatever
  5497. >With a rapier for a bow slicing it in half
  5498. >Looks like she noticed you looking at her cutie mark
  5499. >”What… *cough*wanna know about my cutie mark?”
  5500. >No, no you don’t
  5501. >”It is rather strange isn’t it?”
  5502. >Yes it is, but you don’t care about that
  5503. >You’re just biding your time, waiting for your magic to refill, and the best moment to take her
  5504. >So go ahead, keep talking
  5505. >”My parents… they were musicians… and they wanted me to-”
  5506. *cough*
  5507. >She coughs up more blood, before turning on her back, trying to get a more comfortable position
  5508. >”-to become a musician like them… so they taught me how to play instruments”
  5509. >Is she really going to tell you the story of her cutie mark?
  5510. >You don’t care about that
  5511. >You wanna wait it out, but hearing her voice does nothing positive to your current mental state
  5512. >But you guess you’ll give her at least that much
  5513. >She’s about to die anyway, and will die in a way that she’ll never come back
  5514. >Ever
  5515. >”I got real -guh- good with the cello and the bass, but it never showed up”
  5516. >She looks almost nostalgic
  5517. >You look back at the portal and estimate how much time you got left
  5518. >Maybe six, five minutes at best
  5519. >By now your magic is finally coming back full force
  5520. >”It wasn’t until a show for charity I was a part of… in a museum if memory doesn’t fail me”
  5521. >You guess you know what happened from there
  5522. >”A group of Gryphons robbers invaded the museum during the show –cough- and tried to steal as many valuables as they could”
  5523. “And one of them just happened to be a rapier you used to kill of the robbers, getting your cutie mark”
  5524. >You take a wild guess
  5525. >Finally deciding to speak after giving her the punch that started the fight
  5526. >From the way her eyes widened a little, you hit bullseye
  5527. >”You can be pretty sharp… when you want to… huh?”
  5528. >She gives you another smirk
  5529. >It’d look better if her teeth weren’t caked in her own blood
  5530. >”Yeah… that was the -cough- gist of it”
  5531. >She admitted
  5532. >”I killed a robber who tried to attack me for being in the way… I grabbed the first thing I could with my magic and…”
  5533. >She motions weakly for her cutie mark
  5534. >”After that, I just discovered my calling… the feeling of slicing flesh with a blade was… unparalleled”
  5535. >She smiles nostalgically
  5536. >And you can only sneer in disgust
  5537. >”I couldn’t hold myself after that… so I became a hitmare… during the day I’d kill it with music… and at night I’d kill with a blade”
  5538. >Midnight starts laughing at her joke before she starts coughing more and more
  5539. >Blood spilling from her wound and mouth
  5540. >”Well… I-guh- I guess this is it, eh? Second best results isn’t all that -cough-bad”
  5541. >She manages to laugh a little, before a coughing fit stops her again
  5542. >Near dead and still arrogant
  5543. >This mare is impossible
  5544. >”I’ve been here for… I don’t know, months? Years? Decades? –cough- I’ve lost count, I hate this place, you were my last chance at freedom, if I failed, I would just end it myself”
  5545. >She laughs again, ignoring the pain from her wound
  5546. >”But you ended it for me… heh, see you in the… afterlife”
  5547. >She has the audacity to give you a victorious smirk, like somehow, in the end, she still won
  5548. “There will be no afterlife for you, Midnight Blues”
  5549. >You decide to speak again
  5550. >”Tch, what do you… mean, of course there is”
  5551. >She gives me another weak smirk
  5552. >“There’s the afterlife, and then reincarnation… you know, that stuff”
  5553. >She tries to wave her hoof dismissively; a pained whine is enough to get her to stop, however
  5554. >”Maybe I’ll -guh- even get to reincarnate into a decent pony… unlike you”
  5555. >Unlike you?
  5556. >You guess she’s right, knowing what you’re about to do, even if she doesn’t
  5557. “I know, what I’m saying is that you won’t get that luxury”
  5558. >And it appears Midnight Blues was counting on waiting for her petrified soul to decay and allow her to proceed to the afterlife, and then, reincarnate
  5559. >Well
  5560. >Too bad
  5561. “Do you know what this is?”
  5562. >With your hoof, you pull the rough soul stone out of the downed saddlebag and casually throw it in the floor in front your attacker
  5563. >The rough gem clicks and clacks on the floor, not a single nick or scratch, displaying how resistant those things are
  5564. >She looks at it and narrows her eyes
  5565. >”It’s a rough Soul Stone… what about it?”
  5566. >You keep staring at the dying pony in front of you with a steel gaze, when her eyes widen in realization
  5567. >“N-no, you’re planning on doing a Soul Transfusion?!”
  5568. >Oh, so she knows what a Soul Transfusion is? No need for you to explain it then.
  5569. >Seems like this pony’s even more wicked than you thought
  5570. “I can see you understand where I’m getting at”
  5571. >You start to circle her slowly dying body, seizing her up like a predator to its prey
  5572. >Like how she did to you earlier
  5573. >Eyes never leaving her form, for even a fraction of a second
  5574. >It’s sickeningly fulfilling watching her fearful gaze
  5575. >She’s afraid of YOU, not the other way around
  5576. >As much as you hate it, now you understand why she liked it so much when you squirmed before her
  5577. “Right in front of me, I have a dying pony with no chance of survival, on the last thread of her life, one that’s a dangerous, sick criminal, whose life boils down to taking and ruining lives of innocent ponies for personal gain”
  5578. >You spit on the floor right in front of her, a mix of saliva and blood that splatters on the floor and hits her in the face
  5579. “I’ve thought this over multiple times while in here, and despite having a clear objective and running straight ahead towards it, I still felt something pulling at the back of my mind, saying that I shouldn’t kill an innocent pony, no matter how weak or old it was that its chances of living any longer were next to zero”
  5580. >Midnight’s already pale face become even whiter as the fear intensifies, as she does her best to crawl away from you
  5581. “Dooming an innocent soul to be completely erased from existence is not something I’d like to do, yet I was willing to do it anyways”
  5582. >She crawls very slowly, her wound so deep and lethal, that every movement of her leg had the Unicorn clenching her teeth in agony not to scream
  5583. >Leaving a trail of blood in her pitiful wake
  5584. “But, here you are, in such predicament, the predicament I needed a pony to be in”
  5585. >You won’t let her get away though; you’ve come too far to let a chance like this just slip between your hooves
  5586. ”So tell me”
  5587. >Casually stepping up to her slowly moving body, you stomp on her back like she did to you, making her scream in agony
  5588. “Why should I do that, when I can just take you instead? No one will miss you; no one will even remember who you are. And look at this side, it IS a good compromise, you’ll become the vessel of a princess who’s going to be part of a very, very happy couple, and I won’t stain my hooves with the blood of the innocent”
  5589. >She pants and heaves, blood dripping from her mouth, before turning her head just enough to meet your eyes
  5590. >”You’re-cough- you’re Celestia’s niece, she wouldn’t raise you to be like this… she’d never raise a murderer”
  5591. >Looking up, you tap your chin, which makes her eyes widen in fear and remembrance
  5592. >It does remind her of a certain somepony, doesn’t it?
  5593. “You’re right, she didn’t… but neither did your parents, did they?”
  5594. >You can see her eyes flinch in response to your back talk
  5595. >“N-no, y-you wouldn’t do this”
  5596. “I would, and I will”
  5597. >Midnight’s horn suddenly lights up and she takes the one broken blade you threw away in a magic grip and pulls tip first it directly to her head
  5598. >But you intercept her attempted suicide just in the nick of time, overpowering her magic grip with your own
  5599. “Ah, ah, aaah, can’t have you dying on me now, can I?”
  5600. >Is your only response to her attempted suicide, before you concentrate magic on your horn for one last spell
  5601. >You step away from Midnight Blues, and her body suddenly starts to be encased in crystal starting from her rear legs
  5602. >“No! Nononono! P-please, have mercy, JUST KILL ME, DON’T DO IT! “
  5603. >Midnight pleads desperately, but you ignore
  5605. >The crystals are on her chest now, and soon they’ll encase her whole body
  5607. >Her ear piecing shrieks of horror cease in an echo as soon as the crystals reach her muzzle
  5608. >Midnight’s bloodshot, tear filled eye give you one last look of terror before she’s completely encased in a cyan crystal
  5609. >There, that should keep her wound from getting any worse and from dying
  5610. >You don’t want her dying on the way back because you didn’t keep her on the brink of death
  5611. >Taking another look at the pony, all that’s left is the frozen image of a mare horrified by something, imprisoned in a crystal not unlike the colt found in Sombra’s lab
  5612. >With your job done, and nothing else to do here, you use your telekinesis to float the hunk of crystal prison to your side
  5613. >The gate is still open, and if you don’t hurry you’ll get stuck in here for another month, and you sure as hay don’t want that
  5614. >No more Tartarus for you, no sir
  5615. >Your steps are slow, and your breathing ragged
  5616. >Looks like your body is finally collapsing
  5617. >This fight took much more from you than what you actually could give
  5618. >Having already gotten past your limits, you continue to do so by walking into the portal
  5619. >This is it Cadance, you’re finally going home
  5620. >You have all you need for the ritual
  5621. >Circling around the sleeping behemoth that is the Cerberus, you face the gate for hopefully the last time
  5622. >With a glow of your horn, the crystal wall recedes into the floor, revealing a shining light that nearly blinds you
  5623. >Its glowing portal, arcing in the shape of a gate illuminates your bruised, tired, and battered body with like that almost feels divine from how white it is
  5624. >Taking a deep breath, you close your eyes, and cross the thing veil separating Tartarus from Equestria
  5625. >It takes a few steps, but you finally feel the texture and softness of snow beneath your hooves
  5626. >When you open tired your eyes, however, you’re met with rather unexpected sight, a sight you’re too tired to even react accordingly
  5627. >A tired, yet angry scowl is all you give to the military camp stationed just outside of the gate and the dozens of Royal Guards, decked out in winter gear, positioned in a semi-circle in front of the gate, and consequently, you
  5628. >Spears poised, ready to attack
  5629. >In the center of them, stomping your way?
  5630. >Princess Celestia herself
  5632. --------------------------------------
  5634. Part 20
  5636. >The gates to your aunts’ throne room, flanked by two Royal Guards
  5637. >It suddenly looks overwhelmingly imposing and intimidating, things it never were before
  5638. >They’re not even that big, yet they seem so; much more than the gates of Tartarus itself
  5639. >It’s been a week since you left the place with Midnight’s crystalized body
  5640. >After being assumedly apprehended by the royal guards and taken back to Canterlot, you have been kept under watch the entire time ever since you woke up
  5641. >You can’t even go to the kitchen to grab something to eat without at least three Royal Guards tailing you at all times
  5642. >Your injuries have been taken care of, and continue to, as a doctor appears every day in your room to dress your wounds
  5643. >The crystal holding Midnight’s body have been stored somewhere in this castle you believe
  5644. >Celestia haven’t spoken to you once the entire week
  5645. >Neither have Luna, nor Twilight
  5646. >Both of them have been here waiting for you to return the entire month and a week you’ve been stuck in Tartarus
  5647. >But have yet to speak to you
  5648. >Apparently they weren’t waiting for you, but for Celestia to get you back after she went with an entourage to the snow filled mountain rage surrounding the gate
  5649. >You don’t know if they really don’t want to talk to you, or if Celestia forbade them
  5650. >And now she sent a maid to fetch you
  5651. >You assume she waited this long because you were in no way, shape, or form, fit to even walk around
  5652. >You had fainted moments after you crossed the gate, and your wounds were too severe for her to immediately demand an audition as soon as you woke up the castle’s hospital
  5653. >Celestia must’ve taken care of you with a healing spell right then and there in the camp before bringing you to Canterlot
  5654. >But now that you are well enough to walk around, she called for you
  5655. >The aforementioned maid left already, leaving you alone in front of the closed gates with ornate gold slates surrounding the entrance and the guards flanking your sides
  5656. >Gates that were supposed to feel warm and welcoming now give off an aura of dread
  5657. >You know she’s there, on the other side, just waiting for you
  5658. >And you know she’s calling you to negotiate your punishment
  5659. >If there’s any negotiation at all
  5660. >After what you did, you’ve no doubt Twilight told Celestia of everything
  5661. >Sombra’s research
  5662. >The ritual
  5663. >Your unsettling willingness to proceed with said ritual
  5664. >Lying and deceiving not just Twilight but your husband, Shining, as well
  5665. >Opening the gates of Tartarus unauthorized
  5666. >And now murder
  5667. >She knows what Midnight’s body is for, you’re sure of it
  5668. >Celestia is not dumb, quite the contrary, she might be the wisest pony you have ever known
  5669. >She has extensive knowledge on about any subject
  5670. >And is capable of picking up on pretty much any clue, as small as they are, and make a correct assumption on the spot
  5671. >Gulping down the lump in your throat, you take a deep breath before your horn glows and the doors are shrouded in your magic
  5672. >No need to open it entirely, just push it enough for you to pass
  5673. >And open it you do
  5674. >But as soon as you pass through the gate, the cyan mist covering it is overtaken by a golden one and the gates are closed shut with a deafening slam
  5675. >You flinch, eyes closing and ears dropping in response to the ear piecing slam of the gates
  5676. >Soon enough, you’re overtaken by pure silence
  5677. >Opening your eyes reveal the throne room in all of its lengthy glory
  5678. >On the other end of the room, sitting on the throne by herself is none other than your aunt
  5679. >Princess Celestia
  5680. >On the sidelines, sitting side by side, are Luna and Twilight
  5681. >None of the three are looking at you, only directly in front of them
  5682. >Intense stares adorning their faces, as if glaring at something
  5683. >Or somepony
  5684. >Not wanting to postpone what is possibly your punishment even further else you deepen the wrath of your aunt, you finally move your legs
  5685. >There’s a small limp to your steps, but none of the three seem to care
  5686. >If they do, they don’t show it outwardly
  5687. >Despite stepping onto the carpet leading to the throne, the utter silence on the room makes the muffled steps sounds like somepony pounding their hooves against concrete
  5688. >Each step reverberating through the throne room, unsettling you even more
  5689. >Finally, you stop a few meters in front of the throne
  5690. >Celestia, still looking straight forward and not at you, closes her eyes and takes a deep breath
  5691. >And upon opening them, her magenta colored orbs are right on top of you
  5692. >”Cadance…”
  5693. >You flinch back at the tone of her voice
  5694. >To say she’s angry would be an understatement
  5695. >She’s beyond the level of unbridled rage, having settled down on something worse
  5696. >Cold fury
  5697. >At least she’s still using your nickname
  5698. >”Do you know why I called you here?”
  5699. >You gulp down another lump in your throat
  5700. >Your eyes wander to the side for a brief moment to catch a glimpse of Luna and Twilight looking at you before going back to Celestia
  5701. >At least they’re not ignoring you anymore
  5702. >You try to speak, but words fail you
  5703. >So you settle down with just a weak, limp nod
  5704. >”Then you know what you have done”
  5705. >Not finding the strength to face your aunt anymore, you angle your head down and give her another weak nod
  5706. >How pitiful of a visage you must be
  5707. >So terrified you willingly bow your head in what can only be submission in the eyes of the uneducated
  5708. >She must’ve not heard you, because she continues
  5709. >Hammering down what you have done, so you’ll never forget
  5710. >”In your blind pursuit to match the human Anonymous and the pony… Daybreaker”
  5711. >You can hear her voice straining just from having to say that name
  5712. >”You have, lied to your fellow Princess”
  5713. >You flinch when you see Twilight glare at you from the corner of your vision
  5714. >”Abandoned your empire”
  5715. >Your eyes widen slightly in realization, you did abandon your empire
  5716. >Oh dear auntie what were you thinking leaving it in the hooves of your husband and Twilight
  5717. >None of them knows how to run an empire
  5718. >”Abandoned your family”
  5719. >Abandoned your family…
  5720. >This one hits you hard
  5721. >You did leave them behind
  5722. >You were coming back of course, but she’s correct when she says you left your family behind in search of Tartarus and the Soul Stone
  5723. >”Opened the gates of Tartarus”
  5724. >Your eyes close as Celestia continues to list the horrible things you have done
  5725. >”Plans on partaking on illicit acts”
  5726. >You can only assume she’s talking about the ritual
  5727. >”And is planning on murdering a pony”
  5728. >This one also hits your hard
  5729. >You… you did not only try to kill Midnight, but you still plan on doing it
  5730. >Granted she also tried to kill you
  5731. >Celestia still doesn’t condone murder in any capacity
  5732. >The worst she does is exile, never execution
  5733. >”How do you plead?”
  5734. >She asks
  5735. >You continue to go silent
  5736. >How do you plead?
  5737. >Never, in your eternal life time, you’d ever expect Celestia ever using that statement against you
  5738. >Such a thought never even crossed your mind
  5739. >Yet here she is, asking you that question
  5740. >Because you fucked up
  5741. “I…”
  5742. >You start, trying to find words
  5743. “… guilty”
  5744. >You sigh, breathing heavily
  5745. >Best to be honest
  5746. >There’s no beating around the bush
  5747. >Celestia knows everything
  5748. >She knows what you did was wrong, you know what you did was wrong
  5749. >You KNEW what you were doing was wrong
  5750. >And you went and did it anyway
  5751. >”If the verdict is guilty, then I shall give you your punishment”
  5752. >She doesn’t even ask for Luna or Twilight’s opinion on the matter
  5753. >It’s just you and your aunt
  5754. >This is it Cadance
  5755. >The end of the line
  5756. >Everything you worked for is now over
  5757. >And you couldn’t even tell Anon how sorry you are
  5758. >Anon… Daybreaker
  5759. >Your eyes widen
  5760. >No, it can’t end like this!
  5761. >”Princess Cadance, you are hereby-“
  5762. “Please!”
  5763. >You shout, suddenly looking up at her, interrupting her judgement
  5764. >Celestia, in turn, looks at you like you’ve grown a second head, and you feel fury once again bubbling inside of her as the openly scowls at you
  5765. >You’re not deserving of having any word on the matter and she knows it, better than anypony else
  5766. >Even Luna and Twilight look surprised at how much anger Celestia is generating toward you, rather than your sudden outburst
  5767. >But you still have one final task and nopony will prevent you from trying your hardest to complete your goal
  5768. >If she, or anypony, wants to stop you, then they’ll have to kill you for that
  5769. >It doesn’t matter if you need your aunt specifically for the ritual; you’ll knock her out if you must
  5770. >Because you’re not stopping for anypony, not even Celestia
  5771. “Please, I beg you auntie, just…. just let me get them together”
  5772. >You kneel down and bow your head until your horn touches the floor
  5773. >Auntie on the other hand, continues to glare at you with the intensity of a thousand suns
  5774. >You can’t see it because you don’t dare look up and make eye contact with her
  5775. >You’re all princesses, but Celestia is the top mare, and she’ll make you remember if you dare forget it
  5776. >And once again she’s making sure you remember where you are in the pecking order
  5777. >That thousand sun intense glare? You can feel it, and you know you’re in deep shit now, there’s no walking around it
  5778. >What surprises you the most is how she didn’t just straight up banish you back to Tartarus, or the moon, or the sun
  5779. >She just stand there, with the coldest, yet most furiously scalding gaze you have ever seen her show
  5780. “I know what I did was wrong… there’s no denying it. But please… give them a chance; I don’t want to break Anon’s heart… “
  5781. >Your voice cracks as you continue your plea
  5782. “Don’t make me go back to the Crystal Empire just to tell him he left everything behind for nothing”
  5783. >Twilight and Luna are there as well
  5784. >Staring at you with equally disapproving expressions, you can see it from the corner of your eyes before they face the carpeted floor once again
  5785. >Though, theirs are nowhere near the level of Celestia’s
  5786. >The two princesses turn their heads toward the pony who holds the biggest amount of political power in the country for to proclaim her interrupted judgement
  5787. >Assuming the same thing as you, that Celestia will completely ignore your pleas, and send you straight to Tartarus, or at least imprison you on the dungeons
  5788. >…
  5789. >The silence is unbearable
  5790. >The wait is unbearable
  5791. >The pressure is unbearable
  5792. >What is she waiting for?
  5793. >Just say you’re gonna get sent to the moon, or the sun, or back to Tartarus
  5794. >So you can blast this place with enough magic to knock all three down, grab Celestia and make a run for it
  5795. >”…Fine”
  5796. >”WHAT!!/WHAT!!”
  5797. >Both Luna and Twilight yelled at the top of their lungs, their combined royal Canterlot voice nearly shattering the mosaic glasses of the throne room
  5798. >Meanwhile you look up with a shocked gaze, you begged but you never expected her to adhere to your request
  5799. >“Sister, art thou out of thy mind? Agreeing to Cadance’s pleas is insanity”
  5800. >The shock was such that Luna even slipped back to her old speaking ways
  5801. >”I have to agree Princess, how can you jus-
  5802. “Silence!”
  5803. >Your aunt bellows, loud but not overly so, however, the tone of command and finality in her voice got both of them to shut up immediately
  5804. >To see even Luna quiet down and sit up straight is enough to tell you that aunt Celestia is way past her patience’s limits
  5805. >Never throughout the entire trial had Celestia ever taken her eyes from your form
  5806. >These magenta colored orbs filled with a multitude of negative emotions
  5807. >The fact that Celestia can still keep herself in check under so much emotional pressure only serves to highlight how truly strong of a mare she is in comparison to you, Luna, and Twilight
  5808. >”Under TWO conditions I’ll allow you to perform the ritual, do you understand?”
  5809. >She states with finality in her voice
  5810. “Yes!”
  5811. >Yes, anything
  5812. >Whatever they are, as long as you can bring out Daybeaker, you accept!
  5813. >“Very well”
  5814. >You gulp down, wondering what is she gonna do
  5815. >Lock you up in a dungeon?
  5816. >Banish you to one of the celestial bodies
  5817. >Send you back to Tartarus, although third one might not be a good idea
  5818. >You did manage to leave
  5819. >But she can chain you up, prevent you from leaving forever
  5820. >“You are to have your magic sealed away forever”
  5821. >Your eyes widen
  5822. >Wha-
  5823. >Your… magic?
  5824. >Forever?
  5825. >No… she can’t!
  5826. >You turn your eyes to her, and reel back in shock and fear at the sheer animosity her own eyes are directing toward you whole being
  5827. >Can’t even help the step back you make
  5828. >This isn’t Auntie Celestia you’re talking to anymore
  5829. >This is the Princess of Celestia, the highest political and magical power in Equestria
  5830. “I… I…”
  5831. >You gulp, and slowly bow your head
  5832. >Accepting your fate
  5833. >You did say you’d accept anything
  5834. >And… it’s not like you don’t deserve it either
  5835. “I accept”
  5836. >”Good”
  5837. >You flinch at the speed and coldness of her response; she doesn’t feel an ounce of remorse
  5838. >“The second condition is that you may never utilize the Crystal Heart, and match men and mares, for the rest of your life”
  5839. >Wha-!
  5840. >No
  5841. >Nonononononononono!
  5842. >She can’t do this; this is all you have left
  5843. >You turn your head toward her, this time not flinching against her gaze, as you meet it with your, albeit shaken, own gaze
  5844. “B-but-”
  5846. >The whole castle shakes on its foundations, glass mosaics windows breaking from the pressure of her Royal Canterlot Voice, and their shards clinking and bouncing loudly against the marble floor of the Throne room before stopping completely
  5847. >You hear two thuds on the outside of the throne room and can only guess the two Royal guards keeping watch from the other side fainted from the sheer pressure
  5848. >And you took a massive step back on instinct, somehow wondering if she was going to hit you for daring to oppose her judgement
  5849. >Celestia’s flowy mane and tail starts moving erratically, not dancing wildly like fire, but the slow calming flow was replaced by raging movements not unlike that of a storming ocean
  5850. >”Cadenza, I shouldn’t even be giving you a second chance considering what you have done. I should just banish you to the sun for the rest of your life; you are clearly a liability and a danger to everypony around you …”
  5851. >You close your eyes in shame
  5852. >”Including your family”
  5853. >And that makes you want to shrink until you become nothing but a speck of dust
  5854. >“But you still have a husband, and a daughter, both of which don’t know the things you have done, and I assume it will stay that way, for it would destroy them should they learn the truth. And I don’t want to see my nephew and niece hurt because of you”
  5855. >“So I’m giving you the chance, you can live your life with them, be a ruler, a wife, and a mother, without your magic, and never coming close to the crystal heart, or matchmaking ever again”
  5856. >Celestia rises from her throne takes heavy stomps down the staircase toward your form, magenta eyes narrowing with burning fury
  5857. >You can’t even take a step back this time as you’re petrified by her incoming presence
  5858. >Reaching your smaller, frozen body, she leans down and looks at you straight in the eyes
  5859. >“Because if you do, I’ll know, and I’ll not be so merciful a second time”
  5860. >Your aunt states rather calmly, but you know better
  5861. >There’s an underlying feeling of great fury and colossal disappointment in her words
  5862. >Her mane moving so wildly doesn’t help in make you feel any better either
  5863. ”B-but Shining will notice I can’t use magic anymore, and he’ll also notice when I stop matchmaking”
  5864. >You try to be reasonable, but from the look she gives you, the words have no meaning
  5865. >She just leans back and gives you a non-convinced raised eyebrow
  5866. >“Then make up an excuse, isn’t that what you’ve been doing for the past month? Lying behind his back?”
  5867. >You flinch, and look away in shame
  5868. >“One more won’t hurt anypony. Just say that my… cousin…”
  5869. >You see her expression sharpening with rage and disgust
  5870. >“Princess… Daybreaker’s…”
  5871. >Celestia can’t help but spat out her evil side’s name
  5872. >“Nation was in a war, being victim of an attack from a rival nation, and that you unfortunately had to take part in the war when it reached her main kingdom. In the ensuing battle, you lost your ability to use magic, and therefore your connection with the Crystal Heart was lost, preventing you from matchmaking ever again. The war was won, but the kingdom was in ruins, so this is why Daybreaker is going to live on Equestria with… us… from now on, instead of taking her human back to her kingdom”
  5873. >You could feel throughout the entire lie she made that Celestia wanted nothing more than just scream in rage and despair
  5874. >You will never understand what it feels to be second fiddle to your own evil half
  5875. >And you hope you’ll never get to
  5876. >”That’ll even give you an excuse about your injuries”
  5877. >Your eyes wander slowly towards the multitude of red tainted bandages covering your body
  5878. >You’re gonna heal up just fine, but there will be marks, many marks
  5879. >When you came out of the portal, despite being poised to attack, you remember the Royal Guards all recoiling in shock upon seeing your miserable state before you fainted in front of them
  5880. >All the small nicks, slashes, gashes and wounds that covered your body, all attained throughout the whole journey through Tartarus have all healed up already, thanks to Celestia’s and the doctors magic healing, but your leg and the holes on your chest and back are gonna take more time
  5881. >After everything is done, all you’ll have left will become flesh colored marks on your not-so-pristine-anymore pink coat
  5882. >No matter how many baths and showers you took, its original vibrant tone never comes back
  5883. >It is gone, same for your now shorter mane and tail
  5884. >Like you’ve been forever tainted by the horrors of the world, and can’t wash it off
  5885. >The injuries on your back, chest, and leg all had to be stitched and bandaged after your internal injuries received intensive magical healing care, making you look like a victim of war, those are going to leave massive, noticeable scars
  5886. >The doctors said that the internal bleeding was so bad you should’ve been dead
  5887. >Looking at the imposing visage that is your aunt, you slowly nod once again in acceptance
  5888. >And she looks back, expecting you to try and interject with anything else for her to immediately reject
  5889. >When you obviously don’t, she nods ever so slightly
  5890. >”Good”
  5891. >She turns around and you face her backside, mane and tale slowly flowing back to its usual speed
  5892. >”We’ll perform the ritual once you’re in better shape”
  5893. >Without even facing you for that last statement, she leaves the throne room
  5894. >Possibly going toward her own quarters
  5895. >You look at the other two Princesses in the room
  5896. >And as soon as your eyes meet theirs, they avert their gazes, refusing to look back at you before also exiting the room
  5897. >Leaving you all alone
  5898. >…
  5899. >That’s fine
  5900. >That’s alright
  5901. >At least they won’t have to see you crying
  5903. --------------------------------------
  5905. Part 21
  5907. >The location was dark, and the only source of lighting were the torches on the walls
  5908. >Their flames dancing wildly, making all your shadows flicker in place and their light shine on the reflective surfaces
  5909. >Celestia concluded that doing the ritual on a secluded place was the most optimal course of action
  5910. >For obvious reasons
  5911. >Don’t really want somepony walking in on the four princesses performing some unholy ritual and start tattletaling around
  5912. >So you’ve all chosen the crystal cave underneath Canterlot
  5913. >This place brings you all sorts of bad memories, and makes you want to leave immediately
  5914. >But honestly? There’s no better environment than here to perform the ritual, so suck it up Cadance
  5915. >You faced Tartarus, being stuck here was a walk in the park by comparison
  5916. >The caves are far enough from the ears of the curious
  5917. >And has been abandoned for eons, meaning no pony to show up
  5918. >It’s the perfect place for the ritual
  5919. >It’s been another week since the trial
  5920. >And things with your aunts and Twilight have gotten… better?
  5921. >Celestia still barely speaks with you, but at least Luna and Twilight didn’t avoid you outright
  5922. >You asked Luna if she could take the Soul Stone with to a lapidary for you and surprisingly she agreed
  5923. >Said that after careful deliberation, despite the actions you have done, the fact that you went so far to reform a villain for a human male was indeed very noble
  5924. >Your intention isn’t exactly to reform the villain, but hey!
  5925. >If it gets Luna to help you, she can believe whatever she wants, and seeing that she herself have a human husband of her own, she can somewhat relate to this
  5926. >Giving her the gem and a picture of the shape you want it to be, alongside exact dimensions, and off she went to a lapidary
  5927. >Twilight… you wanted her to help you with the preparations, seeing she’s the most fit for the task
  5928. >It was a bit trickier to convince her, but telling her that she could be the first in maybe thousands of years to perform a successful Soul Transfusion AND reform a villain - you’re gonna roll with that now, thanks Luna –was enough to get her by your side, albeit still hesitantly
  5929. >Twilight still disapproves, but when you told her the vessel comes from a pony who tried to assassinate you when you were just a filly helped ease Twilight’s mind somewhat
  5930. >So now here you are the four of you
  5931. >Celestia stands on the right side of a circle written on the ground with white chalk
  5932. >Adorned with complex text in a language you don’t understand, but from look on Celestia’s face, she knows what they say, and what they say ain’t pretty
  5933. >On the left side of the circle is the crystal holding Midnight Blues
  5934. >You’ll break the crystal only when the ritual starts
  5935. >The timing has to be correct
  5936. >If you crack it open too early, Midnight Blues will die before you can even start the ritual
  5937. >Meanwhile, you, Twilight, and Luna surround the circle in a triangular formation
  5938. >Having read and re-read the spell multiple times, Twilight is one hundred percent sure to get it right, while you were busy learning a different kind of spell for this occasion as well
  5939. >Luna floats the lapidated Soul Stone to the center of the circle and keeps it afloat
  5940. >The flickering flames of the torches make the swirling pony skull inside the gem more terrifying than it already is
  5941. >Finally it is your turn
  5942. >Flicking your head, your horn glows, and the block of crystals began cracking
  5943. >Beside you Twilight is ready to perform the spell on Celestia
  5944. *Crack*
  5945. >The crystal prison holding Midnight Blues breaks apart and the first thing anyone hears is the scream you had interrupted when encasing her in crystal
  5947. >And you quickly shut her mouth again; squeezing her jaw shut a spell
  5948. >Holding her down with your magic, you intend on keeping her awake for this
  5949. >If you knock her out with a sleeping spell she might just die right there
  5950. >You could heal her with a spell after that, but then you’d need to nearly kill her all over again later
  5951. >And you don’t think any of your fellow princesses would appreciate that, be it against an assassin or not
  5952. >Both Luna and Twilight flinch at the sight of the desperate, squirming and grunting mare in your magic hold, reddening eyes pleading, begging for you or any of them to not go through with this
  5953. >But it is too late for her
  5954. >Celestia on the other hand, keeps her emotions in check
  5955. >If she feels disgust toward your actions you can’t say
  5956. >But you see her eyes quickly flicking toward the mare by her side; and widening ever so slightly in recognition and narrowing then down, before she sets her face into another forward emotionless stare
  5957. “Do it Twilight”
  5958. >You call out to the moderately perturbed mare at your side
  5959. >Shaking her head out of her stupor, Twilight’s horn glows with its trademark purple color and she starts chanting the spell
  5960. >You tune out her chanting, focused on keeping Midnight Blues from squirming too much, else she starts losing too much blood and dies before the process even begins
  5961. >The wound is already leaking blood on the floor, thankfully not onto the writings or the circle
  5962. >You don’t know what would happen should the blood mix with the chalk and erase it even if just a bit
  5963. >And honestly you don’t wanna know
  5964. >Soon, Twilight’s chanting ends, and a beam of light shoots out of her horn straight towards Celestia’s collar-less chest, who recoils back with a grunt
  5965. >Her eyes widen in shock, and you see the muscles of her slender neck tensing when her jaw clenches
  5966. >This is the part where Daybraker will be ripped out of Celestia
  5967. >And it will hurt
  5968. >On the corner of your eye you see Twilight starting to look like she’s having second thoughts about this
  5969. >And a hard cough and a glare from you keep her in check
  5970. >Celestia’s and Midnight’s weak grunts are the only sounds made in the isolated environment
  5971. >Midnight’s though, is because she’s quickly loosing blood and getting limper in your hold
  5972. >Soon, you start to see something floating off of Celestia’s body
  5973. >A bright hot orange colored aura, almost like a ghost, with the general shape of a pony being ripped out of Celestia’s body and getting absorbed by the Soul Stone floating between the two mares
  5974. >When the soul is completely removed from Celestia, she falls down to her knees and then to her side
  5975. >The Alicorn heaves like she just came back from a marathon in the desert, as sweat drips all over her body, making her white coat glint and reflect the fire’s lighting
  5976. >You see that both Luna and Twilight want to stop what they’re doing to assist their fellow princess, but you’re having none of that right now
  5977. “Focus, you two!”
  5978. >You say out loud with surprising authority in your voice
  5979. >And the two stand straight again
  5980. “Now transfer Draybreaker’s essence into Midnight’s Body, Twilight”
  5981. >You request and the purple pony obliges
  5982. >Using next part of the spell, Twilight shoots the stone with a second beam of light
  5983. >Seconds later, the same orange aura that left Celestia’s body, leaves the stone and starts entering Midnight’s
  5984. >As soon as the process begins, Midgnight’s slowly dying eyes widen more than Celestia’s and she squirms with more ferocity than ever
  5985. >Her grunts get louder and louder, starting to sound like screams muffled like a pillow
  5986. >You’d feel sorry for her, the pain must be unbearable
  5987. >But she did stab you twice, tried to kill you twice as well, and is responsible for your heavily injured body
  5988. >The grunts get louder and louder as Daybreaker continues to invade and override Midnight’s body with her soul
  5989. >What comes next is a shock to you as Midnight manages to break the magic bounds on her muzzle and lets out what’s possibly the most agonizing scream you ever heard in your life
  5991. >You quickly look to the side to see a terrified Twilight ready to drop the spell at any moment
  5992. “Twilight, don’t stop, focus!”
  5993. >Her horn keeps shooting the beam of light as her eyes jump from the stone, to the screaming mare, and to you
  5994. >You pump more magic into the same spell and shut Midnight’s trap once and for all
  5995. >A look at her face reveals tears cascading down her bruised cheeks and eyes rolling to the back of her skull
  5996. >Until the rest of Daybreaker finally breaks into Midnight’s body, shattering the Soul Stone, and leaving a completely limp body on your magic hold
  5997. >You slowly set the limp body down to the floor, hoping that everything went smoothly and she didn’t just die on you, while Twilight and Luna rush to Celestia’s aid
  5998. >You were going to check on your aunt too when you hear a grunt, it sounded like Celestias’s, but didn’t come from Celestia
  5999. >All four of you turn your heads to the slowly standing body
  6000. >You watch, sweat dripping down your forehead in anticipation
  6001. >The pony stands up on her shaky legs, stumbling more than once until finally settles in a moderately stable stance, and slowly opens her eyes, revealing a dark red sclera surrounding a golden iris, containing a pupil unlike any you have ever seen before
  6002. >It was like a cat’s, but forked at the bottom, giving it an incredibly exotic look
  6003. >There’s no mistake; that has be Daybreaker
  6004. >Celestia certainly looks petrified at the sight of the pony’s eyes, so she must be
  6005. >The recently awakened pony looks confusedly at her surroundings
  6006. >Eyes wandering to you, Twilight, Luna, and then setting on the downed Celestia
  6007. >She looks at the white alicorn with as much shock as Celestia looks at her
  6008. >But before she can even attempt to do anything you close the distance and punch the incomplete Alicorn in the head
  6009. >Knocking her down for good
  6010. >The three princesses beside you watch slack-jawed as you punch out the recently freed Daybreaker
  6011. >But you care little for their reactions
  6012. >Your horn glows and a magic circle formed by runes expands beneath the body of the downed not-princess of the sun
  6013. >Only for the runes to suddenly crawl from the floor and onto Daybreaker’s body before disappearing on her current dark blue coat
  6014. >There, that should keep her magic sealed for now
  6015. >You turn your head toward the three still shocked Alicorns, Celestia though, have a tiny, barely visible, little curve at the end of her dropped jaw, pointing upwards
  6016. >Looks like she enjoyed seeing Daybreaker get her lights punched out
  6017. “C’mon you three, if we don’t heal her right now she’ll die”
  6018. >That breaks the princesses out of their stupor as their horns glow alongside yours, covering the downed future new princess of Equestria with a multicolored glow
  6019. >It takes a few minutes but most bruises on her body shrink, but don’t go away entirely
  6020. >Same goes for the hole in her chest; the directly under her heart
  6021. >It shrinks but doesn’t go away
  6022. >The hole in her heart however, where most of the healing was focused on, is gone; of that you’re sure
  6023. >All of her scars will stay though, since they’re technically not injuries; the healing spell doesn’t count them as such
  6024. >And the new one on the chest, that one will stick out like a sore hoof If Daybreaker’s coat isn’t white like Celestia’s
  6025. >You also have to send her to the hospital wing for through checkup, and possible surgery
  6026. >But any danger to Daybreaker’s life have been avoided for the moment
  6027. >After that healing session, you, Twilight and Luna fall on your haunches in tiredness
  6028. >Healing, much like teleportation, consumes a ton of magic
  6029. >But the fatigue can’t keep the massive grin off your face
  6030. >You did it, Cadance
  6031. >You fucking madmare, you actually did it
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