59w, 5dHuman in Equestria
65w, 6dWriting Gold
42w, 5dThe Writer's Group
56w, 3dAussie Bronies
47w, 6dMy Second Life Fan Club
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52w, 1dMLS' Creme de la Creme
51w, 1dUnique Transformation
50w, 2dThe Usual
50w, 1dChess Game of the Gods
42w, 6dbronys united
25w, 2dStories I've read
18w, 1dVillains of Equestria
17w, 3dCompleted Story Compendium
10w, 4hThe Pack
6w, 3dThe Good HiE List
2w, 3dStraight Shipping
4d, 20hHumans turned ???
THE LONE WOLF
The staircase, unlike the chamber above, was quite small, only descending about three stories. At the bottom, reflected by my torchlight, was a solid, ornamental door, inscribed with intricate carvings inlaid with gold. A large image of Discord, stunningly crafted, took up the center, and along the borders were a great multitude of ponies, who seemed to be bowing to him in worship.
Daring wisely suggested that we take a breather before continuing on. We'd been traveling for quite some time now, and with the next area of the temple clearly within reach, we decided to hunker down for the night on the staircase, and press onward after some shuteye.
She curled up on the ground a few steps higher than I was, and soon fell asleep, tucking her head into her wings like a bird. I didn't feel tired at the time, so I decided to work on the Equestrian language some more. I dug into my backpack, and retrieved my binder, which by this time had been filled to three-quarters full. Stuffing my pack behind me, I leaned up against the wall and began to work in the faint torchlight.
As I continued my self-education, I couldn't help but think about the history of this place. One morning, I'd found her pouring over some sketches of the temple, a large amount of notes laying nearby. I tried to make sense of it, but at the time I was barely able to read individual words, let alone Daring's atrocious chicken-scratch wing-writing. And yes, she held her writing utensil with the ending feathers of her wing, though sometimes switched to her mouth. She'd noticed my curiosity and filled me in on everything she knew about the site of our current adventure.
Long, long ago, Discord used to rule Equestria. Or, actually, he didn't really rule it, he was just the absolute authority in the land when the mood struck him. He would spend most of his free time simply frolicking about, pranking ponies left and right. Chaos was king, and while Discord never did any real harm to his subjects outside of the occasional lightning bolt or pie to the face, they were very unhappy. Discord was never one for modesty, and constantly flaunted his power, raining prosperity on the land one day, and the next, he'd turn the oceans into hot sauce.
Basically, it was like someone had given a six-year-old the keys to the Death Star and said, "Have fun!"
Discord was not a god. That much I knew for sure. From what I knew about them, a god would know all, and be able to do all. Discord was not all knowing, nor was he all powerful. If he was either of those things, then he'd never have been defeated by Celestia and Luna, and later by the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony. However, the ponies who were loyal to him (there were a decent number of them) would worship him as a deity in places much like the Temple of Chaos. Once, there had been many temples like this, scattered across Equestria, but after his defeat, most of his shrines were destroyed. It seemed that this one had escaped the wrath of the Princesses, probbably due to its extreme distance from, well, anything.
Daring Do, the undisputed master of adventuring, had been trying to crack this place open for years. She didn't know what was inside, hell, nopony knew what was inside. The secrets of Discord's worship had been struck down along with the draconequus himself. That was what made this place so alluring to her, I suspected. Most of the time, she had a general idea of what she'd find in the ruins she so frequently explored. A magical idol, perhaps, or a treasure room full of priceless scrolls.
But here? No. Neither of us knew what to expect. Riches? Knowledge? Frankly, I'm not sure it mattered to either of us. Daring was always chomping at the bit for something like this, a true dive into the unknown, exactly what explorers do. That was her special talent, going where nopony had gone before, and it was as obvious as the mark on her ass. Me? Well, I wanted answers. Why was I here? Why was Discord on Earth? Aside from that, I really only wanted to do this because it was here to do.
In short, why the hell not? It's not like I had anything better to do.
I think Discord must have put a little too much chaotic energy into that kick, because I was beginning to sound like him.
There was no night or day down here, and I only had the light of the torch to see by. After about an hour of work, I took some firewood out from Daring's saddlebags and made a small campfire to keep the light going. Then, I slept.
"Hey! Wake up, lazy. It's time to get this thing open."
I woke to the feeling of a hoof prodding me in the stomach. I groaned and stood up, stretching and cracking my joints, another habit I'd developed. You see, the larger the joint you crack, the louder the noise it makes. My knuckles were now the size of my knees, and made incredibly satisfying pops about as loud as a capgun.
Daring stood by the door, examining it closely.
"It should swing open just fine, but it'll take a bit of effort. Come here and push with me."
I strolled over and leaned my shoulder into the door, and pushed off the stairs as best as I could. Daring added in, her head pressed hard into the surface while her wings pumped up and down, creating a strong draft that almost blew out the torch. After a considerable amount of groaning and heaving, the door slowly inched open, swinging upwards on a hinge attached to the ceiling, like a hatch.
I pushed it up and held it high, while she gathered our supplies and extinguished the campfire. You'd think that holding a heavy door above your head would be tiresome, but my strong arms took the burden well. After she came through, I let the door go, and it swung back into place with a tremendous crash.
"Echo. This is it."
Those words, shattering the tomb-like silence of this place, made my ears perk up with interest, as I surveyed the room we were in now. From the torchlight, I could see a long walkway extending into the center of a vast, vaulted chamber, where it met with a stepped circular platform. A cylindrical capsule lay on a table on the platform's summit, but nothing else. The darkness from the first room was here was well, although we could faintly see the walls and the ceiling. But down?
I gently pried a splinter off of the torch and lit the end, before dropping it off the walkway. We watched as the bright speck silently plummeted through the blackness for a long, long time. We didn't move, and we didn't breathe. Our eyes were riveted to the rapidly fading glimmer with a frightening intensity.
And then, for a split second, something moved over the light.
Daring Do gasped. "By Celestia's mane..."
We weren't alone.
I remembered a saying from Earth. I don't know where it's from, but it applied to the situation perfectly.
I suddenly experienced the unbidden feeling of my hackles rising, until they were so stiff that they actually pushed my backpack off of my back a little. My fur fluffed out, too, and felt a bit like goosebumps.
I turned to Daring. "Move fast. This place was sealed for a reason."
She nodded silently, the feathers on her wings puffed out, not unlike my fur. Tearing her gaze from the yawning void, she began to trot down the walkway to the platform. Her hooves made a weird echoing throughout the chamber, while I padded softly behind, warily glancing around.
We climbed up the platform's circular steps and beheld the strange item on the altar. It was made of dark stone, just like everything else, but it was very smooth, and there were faint circles inscribed onto it. It looked organic, almost like a giant, three-foot tall egg. Daring gently ran a wingtip over the surface, and frowned.
"It's warm! Echo, you've gotta feel this."
I gingerly extended a paw and pressed my palm onto the stone. Sure enough, it was warm, and it almost felt like the heat was pulsing a little. I reached my paw back and delicately poked it with a claw. It made a strange, haunting note, like running your finger along the edge of a wine glass. We exchanged a glance. Whatever it was, this was what we came for, and it was coming back with us.
I reached out again and wrapped it in my paws, picking it up with surprising ease. It almost felt hollow, and yet, it seemed to move around as if there was something inside it. I twisted it around in my paws, examining it from every angle. Were those words on the botto-
"Ah, if it isn't Miss Daring Do and her flea-bitten mongrel. I'd say it's a pleasure to see you two again, but it really, really isn't."
The words came from behind, startling me so badly that my claws extended, sinking into the orb with an almost frightening ease. A faint, purple-pink glow began to shine from where my claws had punctured it, and I felt it begin to grow hot on my skin. I glanced behind me, but kept facing the altar, now much more frightened than before.
Ahuizotl stood on the walkway, his large, blue figure flickering weirdly in the torchlight.
"What do you want?" Daring spat at him, although quietly, unwilling to break the uneasy stillness of the chamber.
"Why, the exact same thing you do! Fame, fortune, and to have a good time while acquiring it, of course. Oh, and that interesting little treasure your pet seems to have picked up. Yes, I think that will do nicely." He grinned, revealing row after row of serrated, shark-like teeth. "And if you could die in the process, that would just make my day."
Fuckberries! He must have been following us the entire time, just waiting for us to get to the end so he could snatch away our prize! Speaking of which, the object in my grip began to heat up even more, the light spilling from the hairline cracks that were now forming had increased in intensity. I felt it begin to shake a little. Still, I kept my back turned to Ahuizotl. Whatever this thing was, it was my ace in the hole, and he didn't know it was doing this.
Daring Do responded by reaching into her saddlebags to withdraw a long, thick whip, which she cracked expertly over her head while gripping it tightly in her teeth. The loud snap sounded more like the sonic boom of a jet in the weird acoustics of this chamber.
Ahuizotl hissed at her, like a cat, before letting his claws slide out, and charged up the walkway.
Daring flicked her whip down at him, before taking off with a powerful pump of her wings. She soared through the air in silent, graceful flight, circling her foe on the walkway. Ahuizotl, fixated on her, warily held himself at the ready where he stood, tensed to leap away at a second's notice.
The orb got hotter, brighter, and more energetic. I crouched by the altar, hiding it from view. My claws, which I'd withdrawn from the orb, were now glowing as well, as if covered in neon paint at a rave party.
Then, she struck. A sudden burst of speed, followed by the faint whistling of the whip before it snapped again, this time on Ahuzotl's backside, despite his best efforts at evading. He screeched in pain and slashed out at her, barely missing a passing foreleg. His cry bounced off the walls, reverberating in my ears and making me lay them flat against my head.
They circled each other again, before Daring struck a second time, buzzing her foe like a dive-bomber. He ducked and rolled to the side, almost falling off the walkway, his tail lashing in anger.
A third strike soon followed, and this time, both combatants scored a hit, Daring's whip striking across the face and one of Ahuzotl's claws tracing an almost delicate slice on her side, just under the wing. They continued to fight like this, a charge, a sudden exchange of blows, and then a quick retreat. This was suicide, I realized. Daring simply didn't have anything able to take him out in one blow, and eventually she would tire, forcing her to land and allowing him to bring his superior size into play. I was the only one who could even fight him, but even then I doubted I'd be able to do much, given our last encounter.
Or could I? The object in my hands seemed about ready to explode. Just maybe...
Daring gave out a shriek as Ahuizotl scored another hit, this one on the leading edge of her wing, and deep, too. Dark blood dripped off her and into the abyss as she flew, although somewhat weaker now.
I let out a high pitched, two tone whistle that I usually saved for getting people's attention, about the equivalent of yelling, "Hey, dumbass, over here!" It got his attention.
The beast looked over at me, and I figured he'd almost forgotten I was here.
I put the orb on the altar and turned around, pencil and paper in paw. "Guess my favorite ballet."
He stopped, stunned. The look on his face was about as surprised as if I'd suddenly turned into a tiny masked wrestler and drop-kicked his grandmother off a cliff. "Excuse me?"
And with that, I whipped around, picking up the pulsing object, and hurled it at him as hard as I could.
He stared stupidly at it as it flew, before it impacted right on his crotch...
...And promptly exploded in a brilliant purple fireball, the concussion from the blast knocking Daring out of the air and onto the platform, where she came to a rest at my paws.
Ahuizotl flew back to roll to a stop several yards away, but I didn't give him the chance to recover. Now free of my burden, I tore down the walkway and sank my glowing claws deep into him, before grunting as I lifted his smoking figure high over my head.
Give my best to Emperor Palpatine, bitch.
I whipped my arms downwards as fast as I could, and flung him into the void. He let out a sickening wail as he fell, spinning slowly through the blackness before fading from view. His cry pierced the silence of the room, and he even bothered to suck in another breath to continue his scream for another few seconds-
-Before it suddenly ended.
Daring Do slowly regained her footing, wincing as she tried moving her wing around. It was bleeding heavily, but she shrugged off my advances with the first aid kit, instead gawking at the walkway.
"What in Equestria is that?" she simply whispered, her jaw almost completely slack.
I followed her gaze, and soon my jaw joined hers.
A figure emerged from the smoke left by the explosion. It was about Daring's height, wry and almost snakelike. It stood on two legs, one that seemed to be from an ostrich, the other from a lion. A kangaroo tail extend far behind it. The body was thin and scales ran up the front, while golden-brown feathers flowed down the back. It had four arms, two of which looked like they were from a very large lobster, the other two from a bear, although with pure white fur. It had a purple , scaled head that faintly reminded me of one of those Chinese dragons, and it had a magnificent, curled mustache that was streaked with green and pink and blue.
It sauntered up to us and crossed both pairs of arms, before rolling its neck around, popping the vertebrae.
"Ugh. Two thousand years will give you such a crink in the neck! Alright, so which one of you set me loose?"
We were still for a moment, and then I sheepishly pointed a glowing claw at myself.
"Well, what have we here! Aren't you an interesting specimen," it said, as it strutted around me, giving me an appraising look with two eyes were surprisingly matching, a deep, regal magenta. "So, I assume you knew what you were doing when you set me loose?"
I shook my head, as did Daring.
"Ah, well then, I suppose I'd better introduce myself, then. Terrible manners to not do that sort of thing, you know." He snapped his fingers, and a business card popped into existence, and I caught it between thumb and forefinger. "My name is Disarray, and you, my interesting furry friend, have just won this fabulous prize!"
He spun backwards and spread his arms as an old-timey flashing billboard suddenly lit up above him.
What the hell is this?
"You see, I got into a bit of a fight with my old man, and he put me into that dreadful egg thing for a time out. Two thousand years later, here I am! He leaves me in there! So, I vowed to really stick it to him by granting my rescuer a few requests. Of course, there are a few rules. No asking me for things back to life. I can actually do that, but it's really nasty, and zombies are never a good thing to have on one's platter. Second, I'm not a matchmaker, so don't bother wishing for love. Third, no trying to trick me into giving you a freebie. I'm a lot smarter than you think. Fourth, no making compound favors. You can't ask for two things at the same time. Well then, let's hear it!"
Daring and I exchanged a glance. "This is up to you, Echo. I've already got everything I could want."
I thought for while, Disarray and Daring both eagerly peering at me. What did I want? I could have pretty much anything my twisted little mind could think of, and this guy seemed quite capable to provide me with just that.
A sudden, booming roar that shook dust from the ceiling, echoing up from the depths below, suddenly reorganized my priorities. We had to get out of here. NOW. I whipped out my pencil and paper and hastily scribbled down my demand.
"Take us to entrance to the temple."
He simply looked at it, before taking the paper and crumpling it up and tossing it over the edge. He sighed. "You have to say what you want, fuzzy."
Daring Do gave the abyss a fearful glance. "He can't speak!"
"Hah! What's a matter, cat got your tongue?"
"No, I mean he actually can't speak!"
He looked at me again, and I pointed to the fresh scar on my neck. His eyes widened suddenly in what seemed to be fear. "Oh, my. That isn't good. I can't fix damage like that... tell you what, if I give you a new way to talk, will you count that as my second favor?"
I nodded vigorously. The sound of the roaring was beginning to draw closer. The patchwork creature adopted some kind of kung-fu pose and gestured forward with his pair of lobster claws, which began to glow purple-pink.
"Shazam!" he cried. The lights flashed. I blinked stupidly for a few seconds and tried to say something. I was met only with pain as the shreds of my vocal chords protested mightily. I glared at him.
Disarray shrugged. "What? I never said I'd give your voice back. I just gave you a new way to talk. Try it out!" He lifted up my paws and tapped the center of my palms. The claws shot out, now glowing much more brightly than before. He moved my hands up and down, and the claws left a shining contrail behind them. I was mesmerized. It was like I was writing in the air.
I pulled away and quickly repeated my demand, and watched in awe as the words hung there in space for a while, their light tinging my vision with its luminescence.
There was a snapping sound, and suddenly we were standing on the top of the temple, the night sky stretched out before us in a glorious ceiling of stars. The moon hung low in the sky, merely a hairline crescent. The jungle was still as vibrant as ever, even at night, and the fresh barrage of sound after the eerie quiet of the temple felt like music to my ears.
Daring looked around in disbelief, clearly as surprised as I was. "What the hay! You said he had to talk to get that to work!"
Disarray nodded. "He did talk. You see, explorer, the pup's claws were already covered in my essence. I added little more, and, well, you saw the result. The act of putting words in the air itself is speaking, or rather this is the highest form of it. I did exactly as I said I would do, no more, no less. Oh and, by the way, you've got one favor left. So you can just..." A pair of sunglasses suddenly appeared over his face. "...Deal with it."
The mare sank to the ground in silence. I noticed she was still bleeding, so I finally began applying some of her healing salve to the wound. She didn't resist.
"So, what'll it be? Power? Women? A bouncy house? Please say a bouncy house, those things are so much fun."
I turned from Daring to see him lounging on the edge of the container I'd woken up in, nonchalantly clacking his lobster claws. He seemed very smug at that moment.
"Anything?" I wrote in the air. My god, this was entrancing to look at.
He picked his teeth with one of his bear paws. "Outside from what I've already restricted. Were you even listening?"
I gave him a savage grin. Oh, I was listening, all right. He fell for the biggest loophole in the book.
"I want three more favors."
He laughed heartily at this, and almost fell back down into the temple from his perch on the lip. "Ha! That's rich, you very well know that that's completely against..." He paused and frowned, suddenly worried. "Oh, well played, well played indeed, sir. You're about as devious as my old man, let me tell you that. Fine, but from now on, no more of that. Now, speak your heart's desire."
I cracked my knuckles and began to write, my words carving through the night air in delicate ribbons of light, hovering in a spectacular light show.
Disarray cooly read my demands.
"It's not a bouncy house, but I guess it will do. Echo, first of all, I'd like to say that you are without a doubt the strangest creature I've ever come across. You don't act, think, speak, or even smell like other diamond dogs. The fact that you can even read and write is astounding enough, but looking out for Daring as well? You truly are interesting. So interesting, that I think I'll be watching you from now on.
"Now then. The first item on the list. You want to know why my father sent you here?"
His FATHER? Discord was his dad? Now that I'd not seen coming. But who was his mother..?
Disarray's soft pink eyes glimmered in the moonlight. The snow white fur on his second pair of arms had an almost pallid sheen to them. His mustache, streaked pink, blue and green, seemed to shift a little, although there was no wind.
Then, it hit me harder that a hangover after New Year's.
There was only one pony in Equestria who had something like that. That could only mean...
...This guy was a prince.