Two days later
Celestia looked down at what the mail mare had given her. Most were simple everyday things, like requests for meetings and the like, but one stood out in particular. It was a report from Lyra, the head archeologist at the ruins in Everfree. She liked reading the reports she sent her, always full of interesting things. She was happy that the project over there was getting results. She wanted to learn everything she could about the culture that inhabited the area. Everything about it interested her. The cultural norms were reminiscent of modern ones; the buildings were similar, everything except one thing... the religion that they practiced.
She could not get over the images that Lyra had sent to her. They looked so different, yet she could not shake the feeling, every time she looked at the picture a headache starts at the back of her head, like something was gnawing at her mind. She had shown the picture to her sister, and she had the same feeling, like when you know you forgot something but you could not think of what it was. Although one thing that did come to mind was fear... fear so primal that she could not suppress it, like how a rabbit just knows that a wolf is a predator even though that it may have never seen one. Yet her subjects just shrug and shake their heads when she asks if they feel anything. She made the mistake of showing it to poor Cadence and she just froze in terror like she had used 'the stare' on her. Yet when Shining Armor looked at it to see what had scared her so bad, nothing happened to him.
She shook her head, and proceeded to open the letter.
Dear Princess Celestia,
We have made a discovery! There was a crypt under Alexandra's temple, and inside we found the body of a lower Alicorn (who died of natural causes), and with the body we found a tablet that told about the construction of the city and how the gods wanted then to worship them as a price for protection. Also, the first born of every family would be taken by the gods and 'helped'. According to the tablet though, they were not harmed. The tablet also talks about how the gods are reminded by the ponies about themselves, and that it makes them proud. Now this is where the tablet degrades and becomes unable to read, but there was one more thing. There was a map leading to a city called 'Highmount'. This is where we NEED you and your sister’s help. The city is said to reside in the center of the Dead Lands. If you could perform the spell that shields us from whatever harms everypony, we might find out what happened to make the 'gods' leave. Please Princess Celestia, we need to do this. There are so many questions that need to be answered, and I believe that Highmount has them. We need the two of you to do this. Alexandria has already re-written large parts of the history books. Just think of what we could find it Highmount.
From: Lyra Heartstrings director of archeology.
Celestia had mixed feelings about this whole thing. On one hoof she was dying to solve this mystery and find out just what happened, on the other hoof she could not help but think that she would not like what she found. She would have to talk to her sister about this.
Lyra looked at the approaching chariot with a smile. It had taken two weeks for all of the preparations to be made. The two princesses had managed to scrape together a week of free time to assist with the new project. Only the two princesses, Tongue Tied, and herself would be able to go, because the spell that would protect them had a limited range and having a large group would only complicate things. The chariot landed next to her and she bowed as the princess came out to great her.
"Raise my little pony; you do not need to bow to me." Celestia said.
"Yes your highness, Tongue Tided and I will be ready to leave soon." said Lyra as she got up.
"Very well, but please, we do not have much time to spare. So move with haste." Luna said as she came towards the group.
As Lyra trotted off to find her linguist Celestia looked at her sister, "You must calm down sister."
Luna looked at her sister, "Yes, I know. I just cannot wait to see what we will find there."
"Yes, I am curious as well, but we must not rush into things." Celestia said as she looked at Lyra and Tongue Tied, came out up to them.
"Alright, we are ready to go whenever you are your highness." Said Lyra.
"Well let’s go. It will take a while to get to the Dead Lands." said Celestia.
It had taken a day to arrive at the edge of the desert. About a mile away from it, Celestia and Luna had casted the protection spell that would shield them from whatever was causing everything in the area to wither and die. The princesses had created a rune that would keep casting the spell while draining her magic to fuel the spell. With her near limitless magic stores she would be able to keep this up for a while, and if need be her sister could take over.
Lyra dosed off in her seat waiting for them to reach the edge of the strange glass like area.
"Ly......Lyr......wake........Lyra wake up." Lyra not wanting to wake up yet slapped the offending appendage away.
"Ha ha ha, my my, did somepony sleep on the wrong side of her seat, Hmm?" Asked a motherly voice.
Lyra's eyes shoot open as she recognized the voice, "Oh my gosh princess, I am so sorry."
Celestia looked at her and said jokingly, "Don't worry my little pony; I am not a morning pony ether."
Luna just looked at her sister with an annoyed look, "You know that I hate puns right?"
Celestia just chuckled at her sister’s misfortune.
The two guards that were pulling the chariot called back to them, "We are at the glass fields, were to now?"
Lyra sat up, “According to this map we need to head due- west from this point on for fifty miles, then we should be at the city."
The guard looked back and said, "Got it, I hope that map is right. I would hate to get lost out here."
Luna looked out at the glass, "What do you think caused this?"
"I do not know, although glass only forms in high heat, so what ever happened must have been hot. Maybe this region had very high volcano activity at one point." Lyra replied.
She looked out the window to the glass down below, the field of glass was actually a 'carpet' as innately thought from this high altitude she could see that it was more of like a lacework of lines. Like somepony had taken a quill to a peace of parchment and drew all over it.
Celestia spoke up, "That would explain the 'rivers' of glass out there. Old lava flows maybe?"
The rest of the ride was spent in relative silence. Only the beating of the guard’s wings and low hum of the spell in the slightest were heard for the next few hours, only to be broken some time later by one of the guards speaking up. "We should be able to see the city by now. You sure that map is right?"
"Yes I know that the map is ri-" the rest of Lyra’s reply was cut off as Luna spoke up and pointed with a hoof.
"LOOK, over there what is that?" The object that Luna had pointed out was a pillar of some type that had fallen on its side, about ten feet in height and made of some type of stone.
Celestia commanded the guards to land next to the pillar.
As they exited, they took a close look at the pillar. It was very badly weathered, and it was the only thing for miles around.
Lyra looked at the pillar in despair, "That’s it?! One hunk of rock, we came all this way for a hunk of rock?!"
Celestia came up to her side and comforted her, "It is ok we will find something I'm shore of it."
Lyra grumbled and kicked a rock, knocking it over. Then Lyra’s eyes brightened up as she noticed that the side of the rock that had been down was not as weathered. She looked up at Celestia who had noticed this also, and with a smile Celestia nodded.
"Luna help me, there might be something on the other side of this pillar; another clue, perhaps."
Celestia and Luna focused their magic on the pillar, and with a grunt pushed it over so the side so that the underside was now facing them, and gasped at the sight.
On the pillar were weathered pictograms, although only two of them could be made out.
One showed a temple of some kind surrounded by trees, and on the inside of it was a figure. But it was the other picture that was more interesting and unsettling.
Above the pictogram of the temple was a picture of one of the Star Beings holding an Alicorn up in the air by its neck, and with its other arm stabbed it through its chest with a blade of some type. Two more were at its feet dead, and above that, something was falling towards them. She could just make out writing on the sides of both of the pictograms.
"Tell me one of you can read that." Celestia said with narrowed eyes, and anger evident in her voice.
"Barely.,," Tongue Tided said.
"With judgment coming, he picked up last of the favored and with his blade boiling with the blood of the favored said, ' Child of our folly; you are a mistake, the product of a decision that should never have been made, nothing more. A mistake I now correct.' Then the light fell to the ground, just as the life drained from the mare's eyes."
Celestia's ears where down with anger, "What of the other pictogram?"
Tongue looked at the other pictogram, "With the deed done, the last was sealed in his tomb, waiting for his rebirth. Only when the greatest power became known to the world would he awake, and once again, the races of the world would be judged.”
Tongue looked at Celestia, "That is all I can read your highness, I'm sorry, the rest it to weathered."
"Of course, get your things, we are leavening."
"But we just arrived, maybe we can find some-" Lyra’s plea was cut short by a glare that sent a shiver down her spine.
"We are leaving, right now." Celestia ordered in a low voice.
Celestia, Luna, and Tongue went back to the chariot, Lyra close behind. Nopony noticing the rubbing from the pillar she now had in her saddlebags.
Two weeks later.
Lyra looked at the tracing of the pictograms she had taken. She had been ordered to find where this 'last' was so that it could be found and be destroyed. She knew it had to be, it had killed an entire city of Alicorns because of a 'mistake'. This thing had to be the most evil vial creature there is. It had to be a demon or something like Nightmare Moon, but despite all that, she still wanted answers. Celestia had assembled the Elements of harmony* to help defeat this monster. She was still nervous that the pillar said that the 'last' would awake when the greatest power became known to the world and the Elements were the most powerful thing she could think of. Did that mean that this monster was coming?
Twilight came in to the room, "I think I found it!"
Lyra looked at the in shock, "Where do you think it is?"
She pointed out the window, "There", she was pointing at the dais.
"How could it be in there? It’s just a solid peace of rock."
"Here look", using her magic Twilight brought the picture from the pillar and put it in front of the window, covering the dais. “The dais IS the tomb, it's hollow."
"Twi, you’re brilliant. Let’s go get the princesses."
*Elements of Harmony - The Elements of Harmony are six supernatural artifacts which are arguably the most powerful force in Equestria, though the extent and nature of their power are largely unspecified. Each artifact represents an element of friendship and can presumably only work if wielded by one who possesses the corresponding trait, and only if all are used together. They have been wielded on rare occasions, particularly during events marked by pandemonium and anarchy as a last resort to restore and enforce the balance of peace and order. However, the effects of their use are generally temporary and non-lethal, usually a form of banishment or imprisonment. The current wielders of the Elements are: Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity.
Celestia looked at the ponies in front of her. "My little ponies, we are about to face the greatest threat that we have ever known. This....monster is, as you know, responsible of the deaths of hundreds, maybe thousands of ponies. It must be defeated and thrown back into whatever hole of Tartarus it crawled out of. We can, and will defeat this beast for the good of Equestria."
Lyra and the Elements nodded solemnly knowing what they must do. Celestia looked at Twilight, and with a nod she teleported us all inside the beast lair.
Lyra looked at the room they now found themselves in. Everything was white in color, and there were pillars going to from the floor to the ceiling about eighty feet up. They looked around the room ready to fight, but there was nothing. Just as they were about to let their guard down, they heard a clanking sound, like metal on metal, and from behind one of the pillars came the beast that they had come to defeat.
It was around eight feet tall, bipedal, and was clad in overlaying plates of silver and gold armor that clanked together with each steep it took. On its left arm was a round piece of metal, a shield of some type. Its other arm was free, but she noted a sword in a scabbard around its waste. On its chest was a bird of some type with its wings spread wide. The same image was on its shield. Then her head exploded with pain, like somepony was trying to drill into her forehead; gasps of pain around her conformed that the others were feeling it as well.
Then the beast spoke in a male voice, "Ahh, I am glad to see that some of you survived."
Celestia stepped forward, "Well you won't survive this BEAST!", she then launched the most powerful spell she could muster, the beam of energy slammed into the beast now razed shield and a cloud of smoke wrapped it form, then the pain in their minds ebbed away
Rainbow chucked, "That was easy, hahaha."
Then the pain retuned with force as the smoke fell away revealing the beast and its shield, neither having a scratch on them.
"Impudent primitive!" The monster yelled as it pulled it sword from it sheath.
The group was shocked to see that the blast had not even scratched the beast’s armor, let alone hurt it.
"Girls NOW, use the Elements!" Celestia ordered.
Just as the elements manifested themselves and the girls started to rise in the air, the beast chuckled and said, "Oh, there will be none of that I think", and with a swipe of its sword a wave of energy passed over the group. As it touched the girls, the glowing field vanished in an instant, and they fell to the floor with a thump; the Elements falling to the floor, useless.
Their magic was gone, even the princesses powers.
The beast rolled its shoulders metal plating clanging together as he did so.
Rainbow took this moment to shoot forward at the beast, "I won’t let you hurt my friends!" only to be stopped by the beast wrapping its armored claws around her neck and hoisting her high as she kicked at his chest plate. The image she found on the pillar jumped into her mind. With it a thought entered her mind.
They were all going to die down here.