I know what you might be thinking right now: WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THE PAST FEW WEEKS?! Well, apparently I’ve had a lot of tests and quizzes on the last week of school, and I simply didn’t have enough time to write more considering I had to study for all of them. But now that schools over, I finally have more time to write. So, without any more delay, here’s chapter 35!
Chapter 35 – City of Destruction
The sun blasted out its rays over the land of Equestria as all clocks struck noon. Usually, the part of the day after mid-day would be the hottest. And like any other day, it was as hot as ever.
The group, or what was left of it after the separation as well as losing both Fluttershy and Dusk somewhere, was traveling through the Drenched Desert. It was one of the hottest places in all of Equestria. The ground was covered with hot, rough sand; there was no water. Same with the plant life as nothing but sand could be seen for the next mile or so.
“I’ve heard that sand can be good for your hoofs and remove the dead skin attached to them, but this is just too much!” Rarity complained. “We’ve been walking forever in this desert and we haven’t even found any signs of civilization yet!”
“Be patient, Rarity,” Thunder Ice yelled from the front of the group. “Not all things in the world can be perfect.”
“Heh, especially in these conditions,” Seamus said quietly to himself. He was referring to the sudden change in rulers; all of a sudden everypony wanted the opportunity to take over the world once again. And what made it even worse was that they were the main target. The last survivors; the key to untold riches and possibly world domination.
As the remainder of the group went back and forth with different arguments while they walked, Ace decided to stay in the back to maneuver his way out of any sort of trouble up ahead. He knew it could be his free period as he could finally get a chance to catch up on what had really been going on around him.
He kept one question onto his mind as he walked: Why did Queen Chrysalis want him? What was so unique about him that made him so special? Ever since his younger days as a colt, he was treated as a bottom class individual. Nothing special, no talents; no cutie mark even! The only thing he’d do when younger was dream of his fantasies to one day become the new ruler of all of Equestria. But what he didn’t know back then was what he had believed in would come true one day.
That was until she came into his life.
It soon hit Ace that none of this wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for that wild rainbow manned Pegasus with the cyan coat. If it hadn’t been for her, no more life. No more dreaming or fairytales or even happiness. Ace had always been told by his parents that he had a special type of energy inside him that would make him grow into a very powerful being. He had also been told that if somepony else was to harness that energy, the world would be plunged into complete darkness. It would be plunged into the depths of hell. If only, if only….
“What is that?” Rarity yelled, looking out into the distance. It was what seemed to be an entire city, or what was left of it. The place, as a whole, was in no condition to sustain life. It was a ghost-town.
Rarity’s sudden announcement was loud enough to wake up Ace, snapping out of his daydream. “Wha?” He asked as he shot his head upwards, signaling that he was awake.
“That looks like…..CANTERLOT!” Twilight beamed. “Oh, no!” She said before galloping down into the distance to where the city was.
“Twilight, wait!” Thunder shouted as he too began galloping, trying to catch up to Twilight. For a mare who was a twenty-four/seven book nerd, she was pretty fast and hard to keep up with.
“Oh, come on!” Strife yelled. “Can’t you guys even stick together for one damn second?!” He shot across the desert as his voice echoed through the vast emptiness. Neither Twilight nor Thunder Ice was listening as the continued to trot towards Canterlot.
“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” Rainbow Dash said before unfolding her wings and launching herself into the air, a thin trail of a rainbow following close behind. She then glided across the arid desert air as she made her way towards Canterlot as well.
“Oh, what the heck!” Seamus threw out before joining the rest of the group.
“Yeah, VERY mature,” Strife affirmed before slowly trotting his way down to where the others were. For some reason, he was in what seemed to be a cloudy mood at the time. Nopony dared to ask why he was like this, they just ignored him, making him feel even more insecure.
All the way in the back was Ace. He stood over the desert, watching his new-found friends make their way on over to Canterlot, or what was left of it. The place itself was what had brought back bad memories. How he was raised and abused countlessly when just a colt, and how his parents abandoned him at the age of thirteen as they was too poor to keep him any longer. All leading up to his ruling of Equestria and how he had almost been determined to answer the hardest question ever: life or death? That was only the beginning. Canterlot was literally the fury of hell itself as far as he was concerned, and it was only going to get worse. Ace thought as he too trotted down the small mountain atop the desert as he made his way to the remainder of Canterlot, soon to be known as Death City.
As Ace made his way down the hill formed out of sand, a creature far in the distance upon another hill observed him as he did so. Its piercing red eyes staring directly into Ace’s soul as its black cape swiftly floated through the wind. Taking one more glance at the stallion, he quickly turned in the opposite direction. He disappeared in a dark flash.
Once Ace reached the bottom of the hill, he felt as if he was being watched. The feeling crept over his shoulders as he turned around and looked behind him, expecting some sort of figure that he could at least notice. To his surprise, nothing. All he saw was the vast array of land forms crafted out of sand across the blank canvas of the desert.
“Weird,” Ace mumbled to himself as he turned back to face the remains of Canterlot once again. “Better get a move on before things get more out of place.” With that, Ace unfolded his wings and dashed off towards the humble monuments and building only a few yards away from him.
Catching up to the rest of the group, Ace began his descent onto the stone ground with his four hooves as he folded his wings back up against his side. Observing the scenery around him, he realized that this place was in a chaotic state.
Buildings and towers lay across the ground overlapping each other. Structures were burnt to the ground and some were still on fire. Corpses of innocent civilians hung out of windows and were strewn across the ground. Little blood was to be seen. The scene was almost exactly the same as Ponyville, yet there was more collateral damage here.
“You’re looking into the eyes of hell itself.” Strife introduced the group to what used to be Canterlot as he marched in front, taking leadership. “How much worse can it get?”
“Oh please!” Rainbow Dash snapped as she plunged in until she was face to face with Strife. “I’ve seen stuff that will make your jaws drop to the floor!”
“Stay focused!” Twilight shouted as she used her magic to pull on Rainbow’s tail. The result was a quick yelp from the rainbow mare as she was obedient once more. “Now that’s better.”
“What happened to this place?” Ace asked calmly as his head pointed upwards to the tall yet devastated buildings. They were either burned or torn down; the structure of the towers still held themselves together.
“Don’t you remember?” Rainbow Dash recalled, facing Ace, who turned his head downward and faced her back. “The changelings must’ve gotten a hold of Canterlot and are probably using it for a base or something.”
“Wait!” Twilight screamed, looking directly at Rainbow Dash. “Did you just say changelings?!” Fear and anger both consumed her voice as she tried to spit out her question as quick as possible.
“Oh, yeah. Well, about that.” Rainbow Dash began rubbing the back of her neck as she began to think of excuse to come up with as to why she didn’t warn them earlier. “I mean, I never intended to NOT tell you, but it’s just that I…never….got……the….. time to.” She began to slow down her sentence at the end as she realized that it hadn’t made any sense.
“Ok, that is just complete bull!” Strife shot out. “How in the whole wide world of Equestria am I supposed to believe that crappy lie?!”
“Woah, wait. Hold on a sec,” Seamus joined in, defending Rainbow’s side. “I mean, sure Rainbow Dash can get a bit off focused from time to time, but it’s nothing worth arguing for. Seriously, we’ve already had too many disruptions in the past. For once, I’d like to be in someplace where everypony is loved and respected equally. Where a young foal is equivalent to thus of a stallion. It’s just too much for having constant arguments that we’ll regret in the future. So, why can’t we put the past behind us and focus in on the present. After all, why do you think they call it that? It is a gift, if you think about it.”
There was a lengthy silence between the group as all they did was stare at one another. This was until Twilight spoke up.
“T-that was beautiful,” Twilight responded as her face conveyed an expression of total shock and beauty. “I never knew you could do poetry.”
“What?” Seamus asked. “Oh, that wasn’t poetry. That was just pure instinct that came directly from the heart. All of us have it, but it matters whether or not you believe if you have it.”
“Getting a little off topic…” The pitch of Thunder’s voice became higher as he closed in on his sentence.
“Oh, right. I forgot.” Twilight snapped out of her thoughts. “So, now we know that the changelings have taken over this place, we can assume that Chrysalis must be nearby.”
“Wait, who’s Chrysalis?” Strife asked. “And what the hell is a changeling?!”
“Some colt you are,” Thunder mumbled under his breath as he turned his head away so that the rest of the group wouldn’t pick that up.
“A changeling is a mysterious breed of creatures that can change into anypony they so desire and feed off their love and affection,” Twilight responded.
“In other words, they’re these things that steal your identity and make a living out of it,” Rainbow Dash repeated, flying back into the air.
“Well, THAT’S nice to know,” Strife announced. “This place just keeps getting worse and worse.”
“Stick with us and it won’t be so bad,” Rainbow Dash boasted before doing a quick loop in the air to get her energy out of her as she flew off above the city of Canterlot. “Come on you guys,” she shouted, “I know how to get to Chrysalis. If we can confront her now, we’ll surely be able to bring her down to her knees!”
“How do you know?” Ace asked from the ground.
“Just trust me on this. I know,” Rainbow Dash screamed back as she was soon gone in the distance. The remainder of the group had no other better plan or idea, so it came to a conclusion as to what they was scheduled to do.
The rest of them followed Rainbow Dash.
Soaring across building after building, Rainbow Dash glanced behind herself every now and then to confirm that her friends were still following her. As she expected, they stayed right behind her. The rest of the gang kept a fast pace to follow the rainbow maned mare. Rainbow Dash had to slow down every now and then in order for the rest of the gang to catch up with her, they still were making good time. The sun hadn’t even set yet and they were already close. Very close.
“Hey!” Strife began to pant loudly. “Slow down! You’re killing us back here!” Strife soon came to a stop, tired from galloping such a long distance. It felt as if they had been traveling for days now, even though it hadn’t even been an hour. The rest of the group, excluding Rainbow Dash, came to a stop as well, thinking the same thing.
“Strife does have a point,” Thunder began breathing heavily as well. “This is too much to take. Can’t we rest up for a while?”
“Oh, come on!” Rainbow Dash seized herself in the air and turned around to face the rest of the group down below her on the ground. “Can’t you see we’re making great time? If we rest any longer than we’re supposed to, it could put us behind schedule.”
“Since when have you become so attentive?” Twilight lifted her head up from the ground after regaining her breath. “As I recall, you never followed any sort of schedule whatsoever.”
“But she does have a point,” Ace spoke up. Pointing a hoof upwards to what seemed to be a corrupted castle up over a mountain, Ace yelled, “Look!”
Everypony turned their heads upward towards the direction Ace was pointing in. Up above the mountaintops was what appeared to be the world famous Canterlot Castle. Only something was different about it. Holes fractured the unstable monument as what seemed to be black ash leaked out some of the holes; green slime stuck to the outer rims of the structure. What was even worse was a large group of changelings was guarding the outer entrances. The same changelings that threatened to take over Equestria and soon the world. The same changelings who’d steal another pony’s identify and feed off their love and affection. The same changeling that worked for the supreme leader of the catastrophic species, Queen Chrysalis.
“No,” Twilight spoke softly to herself, “T-this can’t be possible! It just can’t be!” The volume of her voice increasing as she finished her sentence.
“What do they even want with us, much less, the city itself?” Seamus asked the rest of the group while looking back up as the devastated castle. “Haven’t they already obliterated enough of it?”
“That, that is something I can’t answer,” Ace replied to the maroon alicorn.
“But why are they even guarding something that is already wrecked?” Rarity asked, “By the looks of it, that complex should be put out of its misery.”
“Maybe it’s not on the outside that they’re guarding, but what’s on the inside!” Twilight snapped, realizing what was going on.
“That might be the case,” Ace added, “and if it is true, we have to find a different approach than just going in through the front which, in my opinion, is more than just heavily guarded. We’d get torn to shreds if we were to do something as foolish and stubborn as that.”
“Well then, what other options do we have?” Seamus asked, turning to Ace.
“This might be risky, but I think I have a plan to get around this obstacle,” Ace mentioned. “I can’t guarantee we’ll all get out unharmed, but this is our only option.” Moving in closer, Ace began explaining to the group. Picking up a stick from the dirt ground in his mouth, he began tracing a complex line of series of hallways and rooms into the dirt with the stick. Ace spat the stick out of his mouth and began explaining.
“What I drew here is a diagram of the underground caverns beneath Canterlot Castle. It’s rumored to be an abandoned jail where prisoners were kept to either serve their time or were executed in many painful ways. The place is practically known for having the harshest methods for dying.”
“Like what?” Strife interrupted.
“What?” Ace asked, turning towards Strife. “What do you mean?”
“Like what were the methods of execution for the prison thingy?” Strife’s curiosity got the best of him; he wanted to know more about the underground cavern.
“Oh, well, umm…” Ace began rubbing his chin with his hoof, thinking of an answer. “Well, there’s suffocation due to drowning or hanging, electrocution, injection, lack of food or water, decapitation, quartering; the possibilities were pretty much endless.”
“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I want to get a good look at this place.” Strife was pumped up from hearing this. He hadn’t ever been like this, addicted to such harsh violence, but for some reason, it turned him on. It was as if he was hypnotized or something.
“Now, as I was saying,” Ace resumed his plan, “The prison is located directly under Canterlot Castle, if I haven’t mentioned that before. If we were to find the entrance to the underground cavern, we could easily reach the castle undetected, where we can confront Chrysalis and end all of this mayhem. Even though this sounds simple, it isn’t. I’m not a hundred percent sure if all of us will make it out unharmed. Heck, given all we know, I expect a head or two to roll.”
“Y-you don’t mean that, do you?!” Rarity began to tremble as she heard this. It was one thing for her to fear messes and getting dirty, but it was a completely different story when it came to her and the thought of death.
“Oh, hold your humans!” Strife called out to Rarity. “If you didn’t listen, he expected a head or two to roll! Key word, expected! Expecting and occurring are two different things, if you haven’t already noticed.”
“Getting off topic here,” Twilight announced. Calming down a bit and turning back to Ace, Twilight continued. “I know that you must be full of this plan as a whole and I’m not one to judge it or anything, but how do you even know this? I’ve never read about the underground cavern ever in my studies. All the books say is a mine-shaft a few miles under the castle, but nothing about an abandoned prison.”
“For one, it’s never been mentioned before because if word were to spread, countless ponies would be searching for the secrets within it. It is unfound architecture that very few know about. And now since we are faced within a consequence between life and death, this is out only opportunity to life itself,” Ace explained. “To answer your second question, the reason of me being the very few to know about this is because when I was called in as the new leader of Equestria, they tell you things that nopony else ever knows exists. It’s a tradition that has been running in the family of rulers for the past few centuries.”
“Well then, now that we know what we’re shooting for,” Rainbow Dash stated. “Where do we go from here? I mean, where is the entrance to the underground jail prison?”
“Like I said before, I don’t know,” Ace replied. “I’d me more than delighted to tell you if I knew, but neither Celestia nor Luna had the time to ever tell me how to locate it, rather that it existed.”
“So, what you’re telling us is that there is a hole in the wall, yet you don’t know where it is?” Seamus asked.
“Well, yeah.” Ace answered. “You could put it like that.”
“But that still doesn’t answer my previous question!” Rainbow Dash snapped. “Where do we even go from here? It’s as if we’re travelers without a map. Pirates without a compass!”
“She does have a point,” Twilight agreed, “We can’t just go on from here. We lack any sort of direction or navigation. It’s too risky to go unprepared.”
“Well, that’s life, my dear Twilight,” Ace answered, testing his weak English accent on the lavender mare. “What’s life without a little risk? Risk leads to fear, and fear leads to fight. It’s all just the basics.”
“But have you seen that place?” Rarity mentioned, looking up at the castle. “It’s ginormous! One could easily get lost in its complexion, not to mention that it could all fall apart just in a second.”
“Well, that’s a challenge I’m willing to take,” Ace said aloud before galloping towards the wreckage of castle upon the tall mountains only half a mile away. “For those of you brave enough to follow, I salute you. For those whose fear consumed them already, this is your chance to stay put; your choice.”
“What? Calling the magnificent Rainbow Dash a fearful wimp?! Your head must be hollow if you were ever to think such a thing!” Rainbow Dash dove down to the ground as she folded her wings up against her sides again and chased after Ace who was leading the group to the peaks Canterlot Castle.
“Better head up with them if you don’t want to get lost,” Thunder said slowly. Turning to Twilight, he continued, “After you.” He stuck a hoof out in front of himself to signal for Twilight to go first.
“Why, thank you,” Twilight played along. She began galloping along the trail that Ace was leading. Thunder followed close behind as he watched Twilight gain speed in front of him as she soon caught up to Rainbow Dash and Ace.
“We should probably get going as well,” Seamus said as he turned to Strife. “You know, so we don’t get lost.”
“Yeah, yeah. I know,” Strife replied in a tone of voice that sounded as if he didn’t care. Turning his head upward, he began looking around the corrupted buildings that surrounded him. “Still, there’s something that bothers me.”
“What is it?” Seamus inched closer to the colt, waiting for Strife to respond.
“Nothing really,” Strife said, “It’s just that it’s hard to believe that so much destruction could happen all of a sudden. Just a few days ago Canterlot was a fun, safe environment. But over the short period of a day, it’s become this chaotic wasteland. And all due to those damn changeling creatures. If they can topple over a city overnight, then we better be prepared. From the looks of it, I don’t think they take neither mercy nor pity on anything.”
“Well, there’s nothing we can do about it right now that to defeat the queen of the creatures before their species grows more,” Seamus pointed out. “Now come on, we have work to do.”
Looking back at Seamus, Strife nodded his head as both colts dashed off into the distance that the rest of the group was headed it. For one thing, they knew what they had planned to do in order to confront Chrysalis without being detected. But what they didn’t know was that Chrysalis was keeping an eye on them and was watching their every move ever since they reached Canterlot. It was a secret that they would soon find out one the time came. But now, only one thing mattered.
Locate the underground cavern.
Ok, this chapter was painful. Over here, where I’m from, we’ve been struck with a huge heat wave, making it impossible to write. But, I still persisted myself to continue, even though I got writer’s cramp halfway through the chapter. Also, I’d like to say this: Now that schools over, I will now have more time to write more in my fic. But the only problem is that I’ll be going to my summer house over the weekdays. I’ll be bringing my laptop to write, but there’s no internet to post the chapters. I get back on the weekends and that’s when I’ll post chapters. Thus meaning now I’ll be posting my chapters in groups because of this rather than them being separated. Also, I’m sorry to say that for the entire month of July, I’ll be gone on vacation with no internet and no computer. This means that I can’t and won’t be writing at all for the month of July. I’ll be getting back in the beginning of August, where I will once again continue writing my fic. Now, since that it taken care of, have a PMV or two made by one of my good friends who hates me. :D
(Also, thanks for Krushnazag over at fanfiction for proofreading)