Carrot Top found herself in Canterlot with Caramel. He had been surprisingly quiet on the trip up there, but she suspected that he was one of those quiet guys, but she didn't say so in fear of him getting angry.
Canterlot was a beautiful place, and Carrot Top was awestruck. She had been there before, but never in this manner. Everything seemed more vibrant and more gorgeous now that she was here, on something more than just a carrot delivery.
Stores lined the marble street that Carrot Top and Caramel walked down. Most of the stores were important ones that she didn't have the money to purchase anything in, but she just relished in the thought of being here.
Important ponies passed them, but none of them gave any odd, or angry looks. Every-pony seemed wrapped up in their own minds as Carrot Top and Caramel went off the main road, and up a little swinging street towards a black and stilted gate.
In front of the metal gate stood two white unicorn guards clad in golden armour who stood vigil. At first they just coughed, but when Carrot Top showed them her invitation, the gate opened. It opened with a moan and creaked badly as it swung open on the middle, and the both of them strode in.
Carrot Top and Caramel walked through a set of large mahogany door with ancient golden swirling designs that caused the doors to look more gorgeous than Carrot Top could ever imagine. She smiled to herself, and her eyes widened when she got inside the room, both at the party and the guests.
The room inside the castle that had been procured for the party was decorated with beautiful white tapestry that showed the same swirling gold designs. Everywhere in the room, streamers had been hung and lazily limped in the air with confetti swirling down over everything. Carrot Top's attention was torn away from the room, when a pink earth pony with a purple mane swung past her, smiling, and Carrot Top giggled softly to herself.
The room also had four large windows at one side that looked out onto the garden, and on the other side stood a large concrete staircase that led down from another door. In the magnificence of the room, Carrot Top felt dizzy as she leaned up against Caramel, who tensed up.
She watched her white dress with an orange trim as it draped around her hooves. Carrot Top then smiled softly at her date, and swiftly looked back at the floor and saw her own reflection. She bit her lip as her own face looked back at her. Carrot Top then took a deep breath, and exhaled slowly.
“You okay?” a voice threw Carrot Top back into reality, and she turned her head to face Caramel. He smiled at her, and Carrot Top just gawked at him at first, then she realised how stupid she had to look and gave him a plaintive nod.
It was Carrot Top's time to play the silent act, but Caramel nudged her on, and the both of them walked into the room, towards the large windows. Immediately, Carrot Top was wrapped in the greenery from the outside. She just watched the trees as they did their little dance in the wind.
Carrot Top sighed, and smiled as she stood there in silent contemplation.
“Here's the honorary guest of the evening!” a gruff elderly voice bellowed from behind Carrot Top, and she turned around. Trumpet-blowing ponies lined the staircase now, and played the Equestrian National Anthem as a white unicorn buck strode down with his nose high up in the air. He took his steps slowly, and deliberately, and smiled at the attention, but Carrot Top frowned.
“Thank you, thank you, I do look grand,” Blueblood cheerfully incited and the crowd that had gathered in front of the staircase clapped faintly. Blueblood frowned, and immediately the clapping grew stronger, and his frown softened back into a cheery smile.
The only thing that really caught Carrot Top's attention, was a piece of jewellery that Blueblood had hanging around his neck. A little crystal shard that shimmered in green light, but shortly he vanished in the crowd throwing gifts all over him.
Carrot Top felt a lump forming in her stomach, and swallowed as she stepped out of the room. She crept into the gardens, and smiled as the wind made her mane flutter wildly. For a moment she closed her eyes, and relished in peace. Out here, she felt comfortable, and safe, and not nervous at all; Every worry in the world went away.
She sniffed the air, and the smell of daisies and lilacs filled her nostrils. Even in Canterlot, 'normal' flowers were present, and that just made Carrot Top smile a little more. The night was out, but she just let it wash over her, and glowed.
“Ouch!” a voice emanated from somewhere over a hedge at the edge of the garden, and made Carrot Top's ears flick and open her eyes at the sudden intrusion of sound.
“Be quiet, you goof! We need to get this piece in there while the party is going on, or the Princesses will have your head for it,” another voice interjected, probably talking to the first. The first voice was male, and sounded young, but the second belonged to a female, and had a touch of her just being a little older.
Carrot Top's curiosity over took her, and she swivelled her ears to pinpoint from which direction the voices had come from, and she quickly gleaned which. Silently, she slid across the grass and up to the hedge that overlooked a small rocky road that led up to another wooden door into the castle.
“I suggest you carry it next time then! This thing is freaking cold!” a green earth pony stallion clad in golden armour shouted annoyingly as he gestured towards a small cylindrical metal container hanging at one side of his armour. Carrot Top's eyes widened in surprise as the container glowed of pink light, in a pulsing manner before it faded away again.
Carrot Top stood there as ideas swirled through her head, but she was quickly rocketed back to reality as the sound of a creaking door reached her ears. She craned her neck and looked towards the end of the road at the door, and it was half-open.
For a moment, Carrot Top looked back at the party going on through the window. She bit her lip as she looked between the two things, but she had already made up her mind and dashed through the hedge, and out onto the road.
Carrot Top thought at first that it was odd that there were no guards here, but she quickly shook her head and just giggled to herself. She had never before questioned the opportunity for an adventure, and this glowed of one.
She reached the door quickly, and swung her head inside, peeking into the dark space before her. A long arched hallway stretched before her, it was coloured amber and had no windows or any doors, just small alcoves at regular intervals.
Carrot Top giggled, and went into the hallway, looking all around herself. The sound of her hooves clanging against the marble floor, reverberated against the hallway. She passed a painting on one wall, and stopped in front of it.
The painting was of a pair of ponies looking awestruck at meteor shower in the distance, and some kind of light-show that danced across the night-sky. It was gorgeous, but the distant sound of hooves reeled Carrot Top back into reality. She scurried about the room, and finally settled on a small alcove in one of the walls. It was a tight fit, but it would have to do.
“How many is that now?” the same green buck from before asked, as he and a tan unicorn mare walked passed Carrot Top.
“All of them, except for the one that Blueblood has, but that is something that Princess Celestia will have to fix,” the unicorn mare answered back with a frown. Carrot Top slipped out from her hiding place after they had closed the door, and seeing as she was already here, she might as well explore.
The hallways kept on going for a while, to the point of boredom. It was just the same arching hallways going on, and on, but then. Suddenly, Carrot Top found herself in a smaller room. It was shaped as a hexagon, and on each of the walls was a painting of ponies enjoying a light-show, but each one was slightly different.
Slowly, the mare walked into the room, with her eyes transfixed on a metal pedestal in the centre of the room. A piece of white cloth laid on top and when Carrot Top walked closer, she saw seven pieces of crystal shards laying there.
The crystals seemed to glow and draw Carrot Top in, but the room grew colder as she reached her hoof forwards.
Should I? Carrot Top thought to herself, and halted for a moment, just hanging her hoof in the air limply. The pony inside her head was nodding furiously, but then again, that pony also had a daring-do costume on.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I guess,” Carrot Top muttered to herself as she reached a hoof forward and touched one of the shards. Each of them were a different colour of the rainbow, but she touched the pink one since it was closest.
Carrot Top yelped in surprise and stumbled backwards, falling to her haunches as she grabbed her hoof in pain. She winced at the cold. The crystal was ice-cold, colder than anything Carrot Top had every touched before in her life.
The entire room trembled as the shards took off into the air, and hovered above the pedestal. Carrot Top watched in both awe and fear as a green eerie glow filled the room. With the sudden sound of whooshing wind, the shards flew inwards and towards each other. The display before Carrot Top culminated in the sound of shattering glass, and her ears rang from the heavy sound.
Slowly as the sound died down, Carrot Top lifted her hooves away from her ears, and opened her eyes. Before her, in the middle of the air, hovered a giant pink crystal amethyst above the pedestal. The glow from it filled the air, but it didn't feel eerie any-more.
Carrot Top got to her hooves, and felt a strong feeling towards touching it. Despite the protests of the previous adventurous pony inside her head, that was now covering in fear, she pushed forwards.
Carrot Top inched closer to the shard, and the feeling grew stronger.
She touched the shard with a hoof, but the blinding coldness from before was gone, and.... Carrot Top yelped again as excruciating pain filled her entire vision. She clenched her eyes shut tight and whimpered, but she couldn't remove her hoof; she had lost control of her entire body.
Carrot Top's pain receptors were going wild as the pain washed outwards from her hoof, and through her body, to end at the tip of her tail. A high-pitched whine filled her ears and she shuddered and screamed in pain as the amethyst glowed and pierced her vision. Carrot Top was now, completely huddled in blinding prismatic light.
After the excruciating display, it ended as quickly as it had started, but for Carrot Top it felt as eternity. She fell to the ground as a sack of potatoes, and whimpered in the pain, that slowly faded away with the prismatic light-show.
“Whahuh?” Carrot Top stumbled over her own words as she clutched her head in her hooves. A pounding headache tore through her head, but she got to her hooves. Her dress was torn badly in what had just happened, but Carrot Top shook her head and walked up the small stone staircase. She almost stumbled in her dress.
Carrot Top's head banged against something solid as she reached the top of the stairs, and she stumbled backwards, falling to her rump again. With conviction in her eyes, Carrot Top got to her hooves and reached one out in front of her as she limped forwards.
Her hoof found something solid in the darkness, and she fumbled with her hoof, feeling the texture. It was rough to the touch, and it split in the middle... a door? Carrot Top's mind reeled at the notion. A moment earlier, there had been no door, so how could there be one now? Pain coursed through Carrot Top's body again, and she fell to her haunches, clutching her head.
“Security warning! Contaminant detected: analysing,” a grating and distorted voice emanated from all around Carrot Top, and didn't seem to come from a singular point in the room.
“Finished. Earth pony, designation: Unknown. Clearance: Unknown. Contacting security, and administering sedative,” the voice continued as a thick blue fog flooded into the room. Carrot Top felt dizzy, and groaned as she tried to get back onto her hooves.
Carrot Top stumbled as the fog intensified, and the room swirled around her. She fell to her flanks as her vision blurred, and darkened. The distorted voice sounded around her, as darkness completely enveloped her vision, and she fell to the floor with a loud thud.
The world around Carrot Top slowly shifted back into reality as she shook her head, along with the smell of ozone and water on concrete that stung in her nostrils. She clutched her head with a hoof in pain, and groaned as she fluttered her eyes open – clearing away her blurry vision.
She sat huddled in darkness behind black bars of metal. The room was sheer rock-face, and no furniture was there, except for a chain that locked one of Carrot Top's hooves to a wall. Outside the bars, flickered a yellow light off to one side. Carrot Top couldn't see much beyond the bars as there was a white wall there that distended long into both directions; the light to the right was the only thing she could see.
Carrot Top rubbed her head with a hoof, as she looked about the room. She frowned and tried to get to her hooves, but the chain tugged at her with a metallic clank as it reached its end. With a resigned groan, she fell to her haunches again. The sound of a single water drop dripping down on the stone, was the only thing that broke the eerie silence.
“Hello? I-is anybody out there?” Carrot Top asked, her voice shaken as a shadow moved in front of the faint glow of light. Stepping out from the darkness was a charcoal stallion that almost blended into the environment; he had a red mane and tail, and he was clad in dark-violet armour.
“Well, well – look who's awake. I'll tell the grandmaster you are here,” the charcoal stallion spoke softly and slowly as he departed. “Traitor,” the stallion added as he vanished back into the darkness of the room.
The light seemed to have vanished, and Carrot Top huddled her face in her hooves as she winced, and whimpered. As her cheeks became damp with grief, Carrot Top's mind fluttered back to her memories of Ponyville and her friends – the few that she had.
She wondered what she had done to deserve this punishment, perhaps Blueblood had gotten angry with her cheap gift, even though it cost her a lot of bits. Carrot Top cried softly and tried to tug at her chain again, but it was useless; the metal wouldn't give.
Voices caught Carrot Top's attention and she craned her neck to see upwards, and out through the bars of her prison. The light flickered softly as more shadows emerged. A powder-blue unicorn mare in a hooded black robe lined with red, appeared next to the charcoal stallion from before.
The unicorn nodded towards the stallion, and muttered something low under her breath – Carrot Top couldn't hear what she had said, but the bars drifted apart. As the stallion walked into the cramped cell, Carrot Top shuddered and crawled back into the room, and as a soft THUMP echoed through the room her back felt wet against the rock-wall.
The world went dark around Carrot Top as some kind of bag was pulled over her head; not so tight as to suffocate her, but tight enough so she couldn't see. Metal clanked to the ground, and Carrot Top felt a hoof around one of her own. At first she resisted, but after several attempts, magic clutched around her throat.
Carrot Top fell to her knees, her breath ragged as she coughed several times. Now, she went along with the pony that was dragging her. After a few moments, the metal bars clanged shut behind her and her entire sound array was filled with the sound of hooves against stone.
Orange light flooded past her for a moment, and Carrot Top figured it had to be the light that she had seen this entire time. She could hear faint wailing from ponies, but nothing discernible, and the wailing soon quieted down from a loud bang of metal that reverberated for several seconds, causing her ears to ring slightly.
She almost tripped, as she descended upwards. The sound of hooves against stone still very much there, but it changed slightly, and got lighter, and softer as she went on. Chatter emanated around Carrot Top as she walked normal again, but this was not wailing, it was more angry and strange in a sense.
Roughly, Carrot Top was pushed to the floor after she heard metal creaking. She winced and gasped for breath as she coughed several times. Light laughter echoed around her, but it suddenly died down as Carrot Top was pulled to her hooves again – forcefully.
Another rough push, and she was forced to sit on her haunches. Suddenly, the bag over her head was torn away and her eyes stung as light filtered through. She could faintly make out the powder-blue unicorn to her right as she spoke to a larger figure, but she couldn't discern who.
Carrot Top fluttered her eyes several times, and after a few moments the pain lighten and the world around her came into full view. She was sitting on her haunches in a large room, with several lanterns that hung from the ceiling high up above and showered the room in radiant golden light. In front of her was a table, and some kind of small metal device on it; it had two wheels inside of it, one slightly smaller than the other.
The powder-blue unicorn filled her vision as she walked in front of Carrot Top, and sat down opposite of the table. The unicorn no longer wore her hooded robe, but she had a smirk on her that seemed to fill her entire face, and Carrot Tops' immediate reaction was to ask who she was, but she got no answer. Instead, the unicorn's horn glowed faintly for a moment, and magical chains made of pure pink light anchored Carrot Top to the floor.
“Understand this: if you lie, Trixie will punish you. If you tell the truth, you won't get punished. If you attempt to flee, you will die. If you are caught outside your cell at any point, Trixie will punish you,” the unicorn recited gleefully as if she was in some kind of school play. Suddenly, her eyes narrowed and her voice hardened. “Do you understand, dirt-walker?”
Cowering, Carrot Top nodded and swallowed solemnly as the unicorn's glare lifted and she poofed into existence a set of beige folders that fluttered down onto the table. “Who are you?” Carrot Top asked again, keeping her voice strong and sharp.
The unicorn coughed and Carrot Top yelped in pain as the chains tightened around her mid-waist. “Grandmaster Trixie of course. You will do well to remember that, dirt-walker,” Trixie said gleefully and Carrot Top nodded as the pain vanished and she gasped for air.
“Now then,” Trixie stated as she took out a sheet of white paper from one of the folders. “What were you doing in the sacred chamber? It's off limits to even unicorns of the highest order, so what was a lowly earth pony doing there?” Trixie asked as another glare formed in her eyes.
“The what?” Carrot Top didn't get enough time to even get an answer as she felt another sharp pain in her mid-waist, and it persisted. She winced and yelped as it got stronger, but Trixie didn't let up her punishment.
“Trixie warned you, but you did not listen,” Trixie stated with a forced sigh; probably more for show than actual resentment. “No lies, dirt-walker. You are to speak clearly and tell Trixie what she wants to know, is that clear?” Trixie asked and tightened her grip even more as she got a pained nod from Carrot Top in response.
“Good, good,” Trixie said as she released Carrot Top from her grip. She gasped for breath again, and her mind reeled at her situation. When did they allow torture in the Royal Guard? Why was Trixie here? – It took Carrot Top some inner persuasion, but after a while, memories of Trixie flooded into her mind.
Trixie repeated the question, and at first Carrot Top hesitated, but when Trixie's horn glowed, she responded. “I don't know what you are talking about! I was just curious, so I sneaked away from Blueblood's party is all! Please... please, let me go!” Carrot Top begged and looked at Trixie with blood-shot eyes.
“Blueblood's party? That troglodyte has been dead for years – have you been dreaming?” Trixie asked and giggled to herself. “Is your puny mind giving up on you? Hah! Trixie didn't think the Chancellor's plan would actually work, but maybe it did!” Trixie continued with joy, and Carrot Top frowned in response.
“Laugh! Or Trixie will make you regret you were ever born!” Trixie commanded and tightened the bonds around Carrot Top, and the earth pony mare was forced to laugh, painfully. Her vision clouded as she laughed, and the pain in her sides increased, but finally it let up after minutes of excruciating pain that revelled against that of the crystal.
“Very good. Trixie have hopes for your kind, but you're all flawed,” Trixie stated as she looked at another set of papers. Even amidst the pain and questions, Carrot Top could feel anger rising behind her eyes. Trixie used derogatory terms for Earth ponies that hadn't been used since from at least a thousand years earlier.
“Ah! Trixie can see that you did well in school, but you...” Trixie frowned as she looked up and down on the paper, and squinted her eyes several times at it. “But you married another earth pony? Shame on you! How are we supposed to suppress your gene if you keep doing this?”
“Married?” Carrot Top erupted in surprise as her eyes widened, and she tugged against her chains. “Never-mind! Why the hay are you being so mean? What's wrong with you? Stop calling me, and my race such mean things!” Carrot Top screamed across the table in fury, and at first Trixie was taken aback, but she quickly got back to her usual appearance.
“You do not scream to me! You are not worthy! And just for that, I think a certain stallion will get to spend some quality time in the diamond mines,” Trixie said gleefully, and then tightened her vice around Carrot Top's mid-waist again.
“We are done here,” Trixie said as her horn glowed and she opened a metal door behind Carrot Top. The charcoal stallion from before slid back into the room, and looked at Trixie with conviction. “Get her out of her, and see to it that she get half-rations. Trixie wants this one to remember where she is,” Trixie continued and removed the holographic chains around Carrot Top.
The stallion nodded to her as Carrot Top slumped against the floor. Again, her vision was blocked by a bag thrown over her head. As she was pushed out of the door this time, she could hear faint talking behind her, and then a flurry of hooves echoed through the room as they grew fainter and melded into the silence.
Carrot Top was roughly pulled down the stairs she had been dragged up some time earlier, and wailing flooded her ears again. Without any ceremony, she was thrown into her cell again, and she roughly hit the stone-floor as pain flooded back. Metal clanged again as the bag was pulled from her head, and the bars shut behind her.
Carrot Top whimpered and curled up into a fuzzy ball as she curled her tail around herself.
Time passed slowly around Carrot Top, yet she couldn't be sure how long she had been in her cell. Every so often she was dragged out of her room, and up the same walk, to talk to Trixie. Each time, she was asked question that she didn't know the answer to. Trixie would also update her on the status of her 'husband'. Apparently, he had been dragged to some diamond mines south of where Carrot Top herself was held, but she didn't care.
No matter what Trixie said, Carrot Top was sure that she didn't have a husband.
The questions grew more and more intense as time passed, and so did the punishments when Carrot Top couldn't answer. Each night, she would curl up into a ball and await the next day, but it didn't lift up.
Though, hope still remained.
Carrot Top awoke as her ears perked at a sound: the sound of wind rushing inwards ended abruptly as her eyes widened at the sight before her. In front of Carrot Top, on the outside of the bars stood a palm-green unicorn. She had a dark-brown mane that was pulled back, and made her look more as a stallion than a mare; her tail on the other hoof, was long and flowing, but carried the same brown colour.
The unicorn looked at Carrot Top and gestured with a hoof for her to be quiet, but she could only watch with her mouth ajar. The strange unicorn flashed her a grin before she galloped into the darkness, and broke the figurative spell she had cast on Carrot Top.
She tugged at the chain, and tried to get closer, but with a metallic TWANG Carrot Top was sure to stay where she was. Distant sounds of fighting erupted, shortly culminating with a flash of green light that poured down the corridor. A faint explosion was heard, and everything went dark; even the lit lantern somewhere down the corridor was gone.
Suddenly, and out of nowhere the bars in front of Carrot Top opened as the unicorn strode back in, panting furiously. Without saying a word, her horn glowed with green and the chain swung around Carrot Top's hoof cracked, and broke from the wall.
“Put this on!” The unicorn said in a commanding manner as she slid a small device out of her saddlebags – which Golden hadn't noticed in the confusion. The device was strapped to a piece of leather clamp, and was coloured dark with a lit screen on that showed the number 2. The unicorn securely clamped it onto Carrot Top's hoof.
Then, as quickly as she had arrived, the unicorn vanished back down the corridor she had come from. Carrot Top sat stunned in her cell for a moment, before she mustered enough courage to go forth. At first, she stuck her head outside the cell, and looked both ways as she sighed with relief.
She was alone, or at least not in the company of rude unicorns. Without warning, a beeping sound emanated from the device on Carrot Top's hoof and she backed into the cell again, so she felt her back against the rock-face yet again. The world around her turned blurry, and filled with tiny sparkles of yellow light as it washed away.
Carrot Top's breath grew ragged as another world washed back in, and she flailed her hooves in confusion until it became clear to her. Gulping, she looked down: she was hanging in thin air, and yet she wasn't falling.
As the sparkles vanished before her eyes, Carrot Top fell to the concrete floor below herself, and clutched her sides in pain. Rolling over onto her back, she looked into the ceiling and saw a brass lantern swinging back and forth from a tether.
The same sound she had heard when she was in her cell, offered itself to her again, and she turned her gaze towards her side as the same unicorn from before materialized in a cloud of blue smoke as she stepped down from a raised concrete platform.
“It went according to plan, dad,” the unicorn said as she walked behind a low wall, and Carrot Top groaned in pain.
“Not quite, Megabyte. We have guests,” a foreign male voice spoke, and that was the last thing Carrot Top heard as her mind slipped back into darkness again and she slipped into unconsciousness on the concrete floor, inside a foreign building.