Ahuizotl rested upon his pet snake in the centre of the room. The snake was roughly three times his size, and was as dark as the night sky. In the apes paw rested a dagger, covered in jewels and gold. His entourage; made up of a tiger, panther, leopard, bobcat and a small kitten, also had similar weapons, albeit less ornate and more damaged.
"Go check on my prisoners, will you minions? We may have some unwanted visitors in here, and I'd hate that" said Ahuizotl, pointing his dagger towards the door at which Mario and his team were hiding near. "Bring me anyone you find out of their cage, Rowan is getting hungry."
"Horseapples" whispered Applebloom. "How are we gonna get outta this one?"
"I say we beat them down" said Scootaloo slapping her hooves together.
"They have weapons. I don't particularly fancy having a cat stab me today" hissed Mario.
"Would you prefer to be snake food then?" asked Ditzy.
"Not really. We gonna try and sneak then?" replied the moustached stallion. Before anyone could reply, he looked up and saw a panther looking down at him, a large grin hidden behind a club in his mouth.
"Buck it" said Big Macintosh, as he brought his hind legs up into the air. "We can break these kitties easily" he said, slamming his hooves into the black cat's jaw. The panther was sent through the air and tumbled to the ground at the other side of the chamber. Unfortunately, this drew the attention of the other cats, and they ran towards the ponies.
"Quick, Ditzy, grab the fillies and fly! Me and Mac will buy you time to flee!" said Mario. She nodded reluctantly in agreement, and picked up the young girls by their tails and flew off. "Any ideas on how we are going to win this fight then?" asked Mario to the larger stallion.
"Not a clue. Try to not get cornered, and dodge the attacks" said Big Macintosh. The tiger threw himself at the stallions, spinning his flail around his head. The large farmpony headbutted the tiger, causing it to reel back in pain. Throwing caution to the wind, Mario dived at the tiger, and stole the flail from him. Disarmed, the striped cat pounced for the red stallion, but was met with a flail to the face. Behind them, they heard a shriek as a small kitten pulled a pipe from its mouth.
Mario turned around and saw a grey pegasus falling from the sky with a small piece of wood protruding from her wing. She hit the ground with a thud, landing awkwardly on the ground. In the collision, the two ponies she was carrying were sent flying across the floor. Upon trying to stand up, the pegasus flopped to the ground, unable to carry her own weight.
"It's a muscle relaxant!" shouted Applebloom, running to the Pegasus's aid. "It should wear off soon" said the filly, pulling the dart out with her teeth. Ditzy winced, but was still unable to stand under her own strength. "I'll look after her, get rid of the kitten quickly!" she shouted at her friend.
Scootaloo nodded and ran towards the fight. She jumped off of the back of Mario, who was fighting a leopard armed with a mace. Using him like a springboard, she dove over their heads, and towards the white kitten. Bringing up its pipe to fire another shot, the orange filly slid to the ground, missing her target by inches. The cat slowly strolled up to her, and aimed its pipe at the cowering filly. Thinking quickly, Scootaloo placed her mouth over the pipe and blew hard. The dart flew into the kittens mouth, and caused it to spasm wildly. It fell onto the ground, twitching and drooling.
Seeing its comrades plight, the bobcat armed with the spear snuck up on the celebrating filly. He prepared his aim for the orange head bobbing in front of him. With a snarl, he the feline threw it's weapon. The weapon arced through the air as Scootaloo turned her head towards the stick flying towards her face.
Looking on in horror, Mario saw red as he flipped the leopard onto its back, and galloped towards the bobcat. Swinging the flail above his head, he threw it at the cat at high speed. With an almighty crunch, the metal ball connected with the foul cats face and sent it crumpling to the ground. Seeing the attacker was unconscious, he ran over to the injured filly.
"Owwwwwwww" she moaned. The spear had closely missed her head, but instead tore a piece of her ear off. "This really hurts." Her eyes were welling up with tears and blood was dripping from her ear.
"You'll be alright Scoots" said Mario, relieved to see his sidekick safe. He pulled a bandage from his bag and strapped up her ear. "Think you'll still be able to fight?"
"I'll give it a shot" she said, grinning. Behind them, Big Macintosh had finished beating up the leopard and DItzy had managed to return to her hooves.
"I see you are more formidable than I first thought" said a low voice with an accent. Ahuizotl was standing upon his giant snake. In one hand he had his dagger, whilst in the other a bound and gagged pegasus. Upon closer inspection, it was Sophia Sorrel, the actress who thought she was Daring Do.
"Put her down, Ahuizotl. No-one else needs to get hurt" said Mario, squaring up to the ape.
"No-one needs to get hurt? Please, you come into my house and hurt my friends. Luckily for you, I'm in a good mood, so get out of here before I spill more than this pegasus over the floor" he said, drawing his knife closer to the crying captive.
"Why are you doing this. I thought you were aiming to be the ruler of the world unchallenged. Why would you become a lackey to someone like Discord" said Mario, walking closer.
"I am more than a mere lackey!" shouted the blue bandit. "Ahuizotl works for no-one, but he delivers favours to those who help him in his time of need!"
"What?" said Applebloom, a confused look on her face. "Why would Discord show compassion?"
"He's quite the nice guy, once you get to know him. Not the utter devil you ponies make him out to be. A few days ago, I woke up in the middle of a large castle I had never seen before. Before me stood the great spirit himself, along with his assistant. I was given money, weapons and even a new crew, all for the price of me promising to guard some of his treasures. He teleported my new gang to this desert, and showed us this cave we can use as our base of operations. I decided this would make a perfect evil lair, and began hoarding slaves and food for me to overtake this foul country" he monologued.
Scootaloo yawned and said "We don't care, chimp face, all we want to know is if you have an element of harmony."
"I know not of what this element you speak of is, but I do have a wonderful playing card of a yellow pony." Scootaloo's mouth dropped as she heard that he had it.
"Give it here, before we kick your tail!" she shouted.
"No need to get angry, filly, are you forgetting the advantage I have?" the ape said, holding up his prisoner. "I'm more than willing to eliminate this thorn in my side right here. Imagine my joy when I saw her run in here, trying to steal my treasure again. Well, no more I say. Look away, kiddy, this might get a bit bloody" he said, winking at Scootaloo.
As he laid his prisoner on the altar and raised his dagger, the wails of his prisoner grew louder. "I can't take this anymore!" hissed Ditzy, as she took to the air with a look of contempt on her face. Flapping her wings furiously, she dived towards the sadistic monster and tackled him to the ground. As quick as a flash, the other ponies ran to her aid attacking the beast. Throwing the pegasus off of himself, Ahuizotl got up quickly and wielded his dagger at the ponies that surrounded him.
"Not going to be smart and flee, eh?" sneered the ape. "Hit me again, derp eyes, and I'll gouge them both out and eat them as a snack" he growled at Ditzy. As soon as his head turned, Big Macintosh was standing in front of him, and bit down on his tail. Ahuizotl shrieked in pain, and tried to slash at his attacker.
"Fantastic filly..." rang out two girly voices. Both Ahuizotl and Big Macintosh stopped fighting and turned to see where the noise had come from. "TAKEDOWN!" yelled Scootaloo and Applebloom as they flew towards the ape. Their hooves connected with his face, causing him to stumble over. While his head was being stomped on, the farmpony had pinned him down.
"Hold on Daring, I've got ya" said Mario as he ran towards the tied up pony. Undoing her knots, he took the rope from her and brought it up to the beaten beast. In no time whatsoever, he was tied up and howling on the floor.
"Don't think you've heard the last of Ahuizotl! I shall have my revenge on all of you!" he said, laying next to his unconscious crew. The ponies were ignoring him however, and were standing by the door to the treasure room.
"Are you OK Daring?" asked Ditzy.
The adventurer nodded her head, and said "Yeah, I had the entire situation under control. Thanks for the help with the escape though."
Mario rolled his eyes and said "You were tied up and about to executed, while sobbing for your mother. I don't call that under control, that's just panicking."
"I've had worse scrapes than that. Daring Do always comes through. And besides, I was acting all distressed. He couldn't kill a helpless little filly" she said, walking into the room. "Here it is." Daring returned from the chamber holding up a golden crown. "Standing Bull's crown. This will look lovely next to my sapphire stone. I guess I'll see you guys later" she said, running out of the cave.
"She's going to end up killed, isn't she?" asked Ditzy.
"Eeyup" said Big Macintosh, as he walked into the treasure room. "Hey guys, I found something. It's another element!" he called out.
Running into the room, Mario saw a card lying on a large stand. "It looks like miss Fluttershy cooped up in there" said Applebloom, who had followed him in.
"Well, looks like we are all done here" said Scootaloo. "Shall we go?"
"Yeah, I guess. We should get the guards down here as well to arrest this clown" he said, pointing to the ranting ape. "Was you naming your attacks back there?" he asked his sidekick.
"All the cool superheroes do it" she replied. "We thought, why not join in on the act?"
As they walked out, they had seen that the cages that were once full of prisoners was now empty.
"Do you feel like we're forgetting something?" asked Ditzy.
"Wasn't there a big snake around here? One that ate ponies?" replied Scootaloo.
Mario stopped dead in his tracks. "Why did you have to remind me about him?" he said, panicking.
"Ease up sonny" said a gruff voice. Cranky Doodle Donkey was standing in the doorway, with a keychain around his hoof. "The snake didn't eat those prisoners, we got them all outside" he said, pointing towards the guards at the entrance. "Although, we did see a big black snake fleeing the tomb as we arrived. Something must have scared it good."
Walking with the donkey out of the cave, they arrived at the desert by the entrance to the tomb. There were many ponies hugging, or eating some of the food retrieved by the guards. "I'm assuming those bandits in there are in horrible shape?" Cranky asked.
"We tanned their sorry hides" said Big Macintosh, catching up with the ex-captain. "I know you are busy with all of these prisoners you have to rehabilitate and a killer snake on the loose, but do you think it would be possible for us to hitch a ride back to Ponyville as a favour?" he asked.
"Sure ya can, you're practically a hero around these parts now. When those two guards finish taking the ponies back to town, I'm sure they'll give you a lift." He called over two burly white pegasi guards, and whispered something into their ears.
"We'll take you guys when we go to get more supplies from Ponyville" said one of the guards. His voice was quite high, which amused Mario to no end. Attempting to stifle his laughter, Ditzy shot him a dirty look. Scootaloo was less subtle and was rolling on the floor laughing, much to the chagrin of the guard, who rolled his eyes and walked off.
High in the sky, Canterlot Castle was floating in the upper atmosphere. Around it, the forcefield coated the stolen building in a sea of lilac. Inside a small room inside the tower, two princesses were discussing possible escape tactics.
"We could always knock the guards out, and sneak around that way" said Cadance.
"I refuse to injure any of my subjects, especially those who are brainwashed" said Celestia. "I shall only attack in self defence. And besides, it would bring too much attention to ourselves. We still have a perfectly good way of spying though."
"Am I going to have to go in the tunnel again?" asked the pink princess. Celestia just smiled at her niece, and pointed to the suit of armour. Groaning, the younger princess put it on, and walked over to the hidden tunnel.
"Stay safe, Cadence" said the white princess. As soon as Cadence had crawled into the tunnel, she heard the door to the room open with a creak.
"Why hello, sweetie" rang out a cold, cruel voice. "I see you are enjoying yourself in your room."
"What do you want, Discord?" asked the ruler of Equestria, with bitterness and anger in her voice.
"Why the resentment, Celly? I've given you only the best treatment since I commandeered this castle, and last time I checked, you turned me to stone for a few thousand years. Stone isn't as comfortable as this room" replied the spirit of chaos, floating over to sit next to her on the bed.
"I'd much rather you don't terrorise my little ponies, and you go away somewhere" she said, still with a stern look on her face. Cadence lingered near the exit to the tunnel to see how the argument panned out.
"Now, we both know that's not going to happen, so let me tell you why I came here to talk to you" he hissed. Celestia continued glaring at the usurper in her room. "I have caught wind of a little force your sister has set up, and frankly I don't like it. Have you heard about Ahuizotl?" he asked.
"I cannot say I have. Is he from Tartarus?" she asked.
"Even better. I read this wonderful book you had in the classroom, and I saw that there was this villain in it, who was so fearsome he could easily conquer the world."
"Why should I care, Discord? If you like to read children's stories, please do. I don't need to know about it."
"He was a fearsome ape, who only had one that could stop him. So I decided to visit his dimension, and give him a few promises about power here. All lies, of course, but he eagerly accepted. I even gave him a giant snake as a present, and complete control over the deserts, along with a griffon girl whose name escapes me. Anyway, my troops saw your little fighting squad going to the desert, and it'll be a matter of minutes before they are all snake food" he said, with a cruel smile on his face.
"I have complete faith that they shall prevail. After all, you seem quite concerned about them succeeding, if you require the help of fictional characters" smirked Celestia.
"Overconfidence is a terrible trait to have. I would know" said Discord. Seeing a purple pony float by, he exclaimed "Ah, Screwball dear, I hope you have good news for me. Hopefully regarding a few dead ponies", while signalling her to join him in the room.
The floating earth pony bobbed towards the room, with a bashful look on her face. Upon seeing her expression, his face dropped. "They took out Ahuizotl, didn't they?" he asked with an irritated tone.
"They found the element of kindness as well. Rowan escaped the fray, and is currently held in custody of the changelings. Also, project Everfree is complete, and is ready to be activated. Just give the word" she said.
"What was that about overconfidence?" asked Celestia, grinning at her enemy.
"Shut it, Celly" Discord snarled. "Luckily, anypony who attempts to enter the Everfree shall be left bearly alive. I wish you good luck, my little princess" he said, stroking the princesses mane before leaving the room with his assistant in tow, chuckling at his pun.
When he was out of earshot, Celestia whispered to Cadance "You can come out now."
Cadance crawled out of the tunnel, picking flies out of her mane. "So the Everfree forest has an element being held captive. Can't say I'm surprised, it's chaotic enough there without him running around."
"It could be anywhere in there, it's huge. Still, you should tell Luna where the heroes should head next" said Celestia. "She could do a little probing into the area, and maybe find whereabouts the element could be." Nodding, Cadance spread her wings and dived from the bedroom once again, and dove towards the land through the force field, leaving a small ripple in the lilac sea of energy.