Jigsaw and Tiptoe woke up to find the sun and the moon were still frozen in the sky. They had no way to tell how much time had passed, but they both felt as though they’d gotten a good night’s sleep for the first time in a long time.
“I think the next thing we should do is focus on finding some food.” Jigsaw said, his stomach rumbling. “We haven’t really eaten much of anything for the last few days.”
Tiptoe nodded and took off. “I’ll look for food from up here!” she said, flapping her wings and rising higher into the sky. Jigsaw just sighed to himself and trotted off towards the western edge of the clearing, where a small grove of trees was growing. The smell of all the green plants were almost too much for Jigsaw to take, but he knew better than to eat strange plants. Most of the food in the caves were grown in the arboretum, and very few ponies were allowed into it. It was the second largest of the caverns and by far the most heavily guarded. Jigsaw had been in several times to manage the enormous water distribution system that supplied water to all the plants. The trees and grass weren’t too much of a shock to his system because of that- he just wasn’t used to quite so much of it.
Tiptoe, on the other hand, had only been in the arboretum once, when she first became Jigsaw’s apprentice. She had eaten the food from it, of course. She’d seen pictures. The first time she entered it, however, she was completely taken aback. She could feel the magic emanating from the lights on the high ceiling, a strange and rather uncomfortable sensation on her back. The sun was completely different, though. Far-off and weak though it may have been, it felt natural and comfortable to her. She soared over the green carpet beneath her, getting up as much height as she could. As she climbed, she began to notice something far-off to the east. It appeared to be a castle built into one side of a small mountain range. It appeared to be in a miraculously well preserved state- she thought she even saw a banner waving from the top of a spire. She flew down to inform Jigsaw.
Jigsaw was walking out of the copse, a few dozen apples floating in a hazy blue field above Jigsaw’s head.
“Tiptoe!” He said as he saw her land rather clumsily in front of him. “There were apple trees back there! Try some, they’re delicious!”
Tiptoe and Jigsaw sat down together on the grass and began to eat the apples. When they had eaten their fill, Tiptoe stood up and began to tell Jigsaw about the strange ruin in the eastern mountains. Jigsaw listened intently as she described the castle’s appearance. When she was done, he stood up.
“Do you realize what this means? We may not be the only ones! There may be other ponies out here- we might get home yet!” Jigsaw said.
“Yeah...” Tiptoe said, ruffling her wings. Truth was, she wasn’t sure she wanted to go home. Back there, she’d just be another member of a dying race, and she couldn’t use her wings. Now that she was under the open sky, she couldn’t conceive going back underground. Not for life, anyway.
“Oh! Can you do me a quick favor?” Jigsaw said to Tiptoe. “I want to try and salvage some stuff from the wreck of the subway car down in the cavern. I have an idea.”
“Uh, okay, I suppose,” Tiptoe said, “but I don’t want to stay down there too long.” She and Jigsaw trotted over to the jagged tear in the earth that led down to the cave entrance. Tiptoe grabbed Jigsaw and they began the slow decent into the cave.
They touched down lightly in the gloomy half-darkness of the cave. Jigsaw walked over to the wreckage of the subway car and looked at Tiptoe.
“I’d hold to something if I were you.” Jigsaw said, a sly smiling crossing his face.
Blue light shot out of his horn. It hit Tiptoe like a wall and she flew back into a stone pillar at the other side of the chamber. She opened her eyes to see that Jigsaw was encased in a swirling vortex of what appeared to be blue plasma and salvaged parts from the old car. All she heard was a roar of energy as the parts began to fly together or break apart in the tide of energy. Then, as suddenly as it started, the blue light streamed back into Jigsaw’s horn and he collapsed onto the ground. At his hooves was a small metal platform with a sleek metallic box on the underside and two small lights on the front end. Oversized wheels were positioned on the front and back ends of the platform.
Tiptoe flew over to Jigsaw just as Jigsaw stood up unsteadily. Tiptoe stabilized him and said “That was the most powerful magic I’ve ever seen! How are you on your feet?”
“The subway car was more than this took. At least I had a general idea of what I wanted to do this time around.” Jigsaw replied. “This thing will make the trip to the castle much faster. It runs on magic, though, and I think I'm beat for a little while.”
Tiptoe lifted Jigsaw outside and they lay down on the grass.
“Jigsaw?” Tiptoe asked, “What do you think is going on at home? Do you think the water’s alright?”
“Do you want me to be honest or kind?” Jigsaw said.
Not the answer Tiptoe was hoping for. “Honest.”
“Well, first off, we’ve definitely been reported dead by now. The water pressure will have been steadily falling since the massive leak caused by the control sphere falling out of the ceiling. The arboretum will probably take priority, and water will get shut down for most citizens.” His voice got quiet. “I’d give them a week until the water runs out entirely.”
Tiptoe’s eyes got wide. “The whole cave? There’s nothing we can do?”
“The only thing we can do is try to find something out here that will allow us to make it back. All we can really do is go forward. I don’t really see any other options.”
Jigsaw looked up at the strange sky. Streaks of light traveled across the eastern sky.
“I... I’m kinda glad we made it here, you know.” Tiptoe said slowly. “I... like it out here.”
Jigsaw sighed. “I know. I just wish it didn’t have to come at the expense of the entire tribe.”
“At least we’re not alone,” Tiptoe offered tentatively, “we still have each other.”
Jigsaw looked over at the little yellow pegasus lying on the grass next to him. “Yeah, we do.” he said. “At least there’s that.”
Tiptoe blushed and turned her head away from Jigsaw.
Jigsaw stood up. “I think I’m feeling better now. Good enough for the trip, anyway.”
He trotted over to the hole in the ground and his horn glowed blue. Slowly, the cart lifted out of the hole, settling itself on the grass outside neatly. Jigsaw jumped on the platform, and Tiptoe promptly followed. Jigsaw’s horn glowed blue yet again, and there was a click and a hum from beneath the platform. The wheels began to move, gathering speed. Soon, Jigsaw and Tiptoe were speeding along on a nearly silent, surprisingly stable platform.
“How do you keep it from shaking?” Tiptoe said over the sound of rushing wind.
Jigsaw created a bright blue flash from his horn for an answer.
“Magic. Right.” Said Tiptoe. “You’d think I’d be used to it by now.”
Several hours of riding later, the temperature had dropped noticeably. The mountain range loomed overhead, with the castle high above. It appeared much larger up close- it took up almost one entire half of the mountainside. The decay was more apparent, too- despite the large banner waving from the highest tower, many bricks were missing from the stone walls, and more windows were gone than present.
“Should we go inside?” Tiptoe said, looking up at the imposing front doors. They appeared to have once been intricately carved, but the carvings had all worn off long ago.
“I’m not entirely sure how we would go about that.” Jigsaw said. “I don’t see any doorknobs. Maybe we could just...” He walked into the door and pushed on it with his head.
The door swung open surprisingly easily. Inside, the light seemed to die only a few feet from the door, leading off into darkness. Jigsaw hesitantly took a step inside.
As soon as he did so, he knew he had made a mistake. That air around the two ponies seemed to thicken and taste of metal. Then, a roar and a wave of heat emanated from deep inside the castle, and the two ponies were swept inside. The heavy stone door to the castle slammed shut behind them.