59w, 3dSupporting Original Characters
Chapter 3: Searches
“So what do you normally do with the things you find?” Ice asked the stallion as she trotted alongside him toward the southern edge of town.
Lug Nut cocked his head to one side as he questioned the curiosity of the blue mare who had so generously offered to guide him through town. They had only talked for a few minutes inside the record store, mainly about why it was ridiculous that the unicorn had never heard of Led Griffin, but she had still offered to help him find what he was looking for during his visit. It had been a bit difficult for him to reveal why he was in the town, since it was not exactly the most common reason, but he doubted Ice would have judged him for it.
As he had expected, she didn’t, in fact she told him exactly where to go and even offered to lead him there rather than give directions which she may have mixed up. Unfortunately, Lug Nut had to wait for Ice to finish up with work before she could take him to the scrapyard, but it did give him a little time to try finding a place to stay overnight.
“Is something wrong?” she asked him, wondering why the pony had fallen silent and seemed to be staring into the distance.
“No, sorry. I’m not used to ponies asking me that,” he told her roughly. “But if you must know, I’m a bit of an inventor.”
“An inventor? Why don’t you buy pieces instead of looking through trash?” the mare asked with a raised eyebrow.
“It’s not trash,” Lug Nut snapped at her. “Other ponies throw it out, I make use of it.”
Ice pulled back for a second at the violent reaction, deciding that she probably shouldn’t push the issue further for fear of angering him.
The next few minutes were spent silently walking further south, out of town and closer to the scrapyard where Snowhoof’s ponies threw out their unwanted or broken items. Ice had thrown a clock or two in the yard herself over the years, since she didn’t have the ability to fix them herself, and it was actually a bit cheaper for her to buy a new, cheap clock than to try getting her old one fixed. Others usually threw in anything from busted farm equipment to old music boxes, leaving the yard pretty full most of the time.
“So, what do you do for work?” Lug asked in a softer voice than the last time he had spoken.
“I clear snow from the farms,” Ice replied softly and with little embellishment.
“Sounds like hard work.”
“It was at first.” As she spoke, the mare turned to look out onto the southern fields, barely able to see most of them from her magical vision. “But I’ve gotten a lot better, so it isn’t that bad anymore.” Another awkward silence passed between the two, one which lasted until they reached the scrapyard. Ice continued to walk with Lug Nut for a few minutes, still curious about what sort of things he was looking for in the piles of what she still considered junk.
For as small as the town was, the scrapyard was still rather large. It covered almost as much ground as a small cornfield, and was easy to get lost in if a pony didn’t know where they were going. Most piles were pretty small, but a few grew to almost fifteen feet tall, and about as wide at the base. The owner of the land which held the yard was for the most part good about keeping like items together, and the town generally tried to throw out their unwanted knick knacks into the correct pile.
“Um, thanks for showing me where to go,” Lug said awkwardly as he began rifling through a pile of old clocks, occasionally tossing one into his saddlebags after a brief examination.
“You’re welcome,” Ice responded warmly, followed by hesitantly asking if he needed anything else.
“No, I’ll be fine,” the buck replied absently, still digging through the clocks.
With a small nod, the mare spun back toward the path out of the yard, leaving Lug Nut alone with years of discarded rubbish. Something about the stallion told Ice that he didn’t mind that at all.
She hadn’t realized while they were walking exactly how far in they had gone, and found herself almost at the furthest point from town. Luckily, she had an almost literal photographic memory and knew which way to go as long as nothing had changed since her last visit to the clock pile.
As she drew closer to the yard’s exit, Ice’s ears began twitching at the sound of shifting trash to her right. She stopped for a moment to listen closer, but after a few seconds decided Lug Nut had just changed piles. She continued to trot toward town, ignoring the shuffling and instead humming the tune of her newly purchased record, which she had listened to several times in a row while clearing the morning’s snow.
Her humming grew softer when more shuffling rose on her left, sending a small shiver of worry down the mare’s spine. She picked up the pace of her trotting, still continuing to hum softly as the yard gate grew closer.
Suddenly, her vision flashed brightly as a sharp pain bit into the side of her head, sending the mare toppling onto her belly. The sound of falling trash filled the air while images of the past and the present flashed randomly through Ice’s mind.
“Look what we got ‘ere Sweep,” a snide voice said from beside Ice where she lay face down in the dirt.
“She’s a pretty one,” a second voice chuckled, this one deeper than the last. “Think she’s got anything good?”
Ice’s magic flashed an image of her assailants into her mind, a pair of bulky stallions who stood almost a head taller than her, and were doubtlessly very strong workhorses. They stared down at her with sick grins on their faces, each laughing softly under their breath as the mare struggled to stand.
A hoof pushed firmly into the middle of Ice’s back, forcing her back into the dirt of the scrapyard. “Don’t bother getting up darlin’,” the first voice told her in a loud whisper.
A cold grip squeezed over the mare’s heart as she was pressed harder into the ground and tears started to form in her eyes. She was scared, not only for whatever the stallions were going to do with her, but of the fact that ponies like this lived in Snowhoof. She had managed to make it almost a decade without anything happening like this, and in that moment, her mind was that of a much younger Ice Crystal.
“Now just stay still, an-”
The sound of something heavy hitting the ground behind Ice followed seconds after the mysterious snap, and suddenly the hoof was lifted from her back as the large pony who held her down backed away in shock. His face was drawn in horror, his jaw hanging open as he stared at his partner. Ice turned her head slightly to see a set of hooves standing behind her over a crumpled body.
It took her a moment, but with the next flashed image, Ice noticed a dark splotch beginning to form in the mane of the fallen pony. She snapped her head forward again and buried her head into her hooves, not wanting to watch whatever came next.
“You…you killed Sweep! Ya’ killed him!” the assailant yelled, still backing away from Ice and the mystery pony slowly.
“And you will join him unless you leave. Now!” The blind mare couldn’t believe what she was hearing. The voice of a pony that not minutes before had been so distracted with a pile of junk that he couldn’t have even noticed she'd walked off, and now the voice of a pony who may have saved her life with the murder of another.
The cold in her chest began to recede hesitantly, calmed by the notion that she was actually safe, but threatening to remain at the thought of the bleeding stallion beside her. Hooves smacking dirt began to trail away from her as the pony who had just attacked her ran from the one that had killed his partner. The blind mare pushed her head further into her hooves, sobbing into her pale blue coat.
“Are you alright?” Lug Nut asked around the pole held in his mouth, barely audible even to Ice.
She didn’t answer, she just kept crying.
The pole was thrown into a nearby pile, clanging loudly as it rolled across whatever made up the mound of junk. “Did they hurt you?” the stallion asked sternly after he finally turned away from the fleeing attacker, instead focusing on the sobbing mare at his hooves.
Ice shook her head slowly, no longer caring about the pain in her temple from the blow she had received. After a few moments, she lifted her eyes from her crossed hooves and looked up to Lug Nut as he continued to stand over her. “Th-thank you,” she told him with a sniffle, the cold around her chest finally subsiding into an almost non-existent tingle.
The stallion raised an eyebrow at the mare, not exactly sure how to react. “You’re thanking me?”
“Of course, who knows what those two might have done if you didn’t show up?” she said with half a smile as she finally rose to her hooves.
“You still shouldn’t thank me; it was the right thing to do.”
“You’d be surprised how many ponies wouldn’t have done anything,” Ice said grimly, her memories travelling back to her time running away from the hunters of her youth.
The stallion said nothing to that, instead walking away from Ice and toward Snowhoof. “Do you want me to walk you home, just in case?”
“Shouldn’t we…do something about him?” Ice asked and looked over the still body of Sweep, his coat matted with blood.
“I’ll deal with that after I make sure you get home,” the inventor-pony told her passively.
Ice slowly walked away from the body to follow her savior, a small amount of worry for Sweep still lingering in her thoughts along with some fear from the thought that Lug Nut had not only killed a pony, but a creeping feeling that he had done it before.
“Twilight, my dear student,” Celestia chimed with her entry to the Canterlot Archives.
A lavender unicorn lifted her head from a stack of books which cluttered her desk and brightly at the Princess, and her former mentor, as she entered. The mare had been in Canterlot working as the librarian for the Archives for several years since she moved out of Ponyville, a position she eagerly accepted despite being away from her friends most of the time. She was still able to visit them whenever she wished, a perk given by Celestia to ensure that Twilight and her friends remained close, but at least her family already lived in the city. Though the Elements of Harmony no longer all lived in Ponyville, the six made sure to meet up as often as possible, always clearing room in their schedules to meet and catch up on each other’s lives.
“Princess, it’s wonderful to see you,” Twilight beamed as she rose from her desk, offering a small bow.
“It is good to see you too. How are you fairing?” the Princess asked and looked over the books her student had been reading.
“I’m doing fine, thank you; just doing some reading in my spare time.”
“As usual,” Celestia joked.
After a small chuckle, Twilight quickly tried to organize the mess of books and scrolls on her desk before returning her attention to Celestia. “What can I help you with, Princess?”
“I’m looking for some information on a very ancient creature, where would that sort of thing be kept?”
“Well…that depends,” the mare responded while rubbing her chin. “Do you know where it comes from? That might make it easier to find.”
Celestia slowly shook her head. “I’m afraid I do not know its origin, only that it would be…” the alicorn paused and casually looked around to ensure no other ponies would hear the grim news she was about to deliver. So far only the guards of Tartarus, Celestia, Luna, and a few of their own guards new of the escape, and to prevent panic the Princess wished to keep it in as small of a circle as possible. “Twilight, do you have any information here on the creatures within Tartarus?” she asked in a whisper.
“Why would you want to know about…” the unicorn began to ask. “Are they having problems there?”
“You could say that,” Celestia said grimly as she looked out to the shelves of the Archives. “Please, Twilight, this is important.”
A sense of worry spread through the lavender unicorn while she watched her mentor. She had seen the alicorn worried many times before when she asked the Elements of Harmony to save Equestria from one evil or another, and she was starting to look much the same way just in the few minutes since she’d entered the Archives. “Of course Princess, what kind of creature are we looking for?”
“I’m not entirely sure; Luna is going to Tartarus now to learn more about it. All we know is the name Deimos.”
The pair began walking deeper into the archive, neither sure of where to begin searching for the history of the creature. After a few moments of tense silence, the Princess turned her head slightly to Twilight, a small smile once again warming her face. “So, how is your little filly doing?”
For as long as Luna had been a Princess of Equestria, she had never once visited Tartarus. She had never seen the state of the prison, its inmates, or even met its Warden. Celestia had always told her that it was a place of horror, one which she even wished to never see again after her only visit over a thousand years before. So as her carriage flew toward the ancient prison, thoughts of curiosity and fear flowed freely through the alicorn’s mind.
She wondered what sorts of spells must be in place to keep what were presumably the greatest threats to Equestria in check, and how large the group of unicorns must be to keep such spells powered. She wondered how large the prison must be to hold so many evil beings, and what they would look like. Surely some must be able to speak if they had been given names, but what would they speak of after such a long imprisonment? Would they hold bitter feelings, or would some be regretful of the actions which landed them in such a horrible place?
Luna shook the thoughts from her head, focusing on her task at hand. Perhaps after this incident was resolved and all was back to normal she could visit the prison again and indulge her curiosity with the Warden. But her job was much more important, and if she failed there was no telling what might happen to Equestria. She only hoped that the Warden or another guard would have the information she needed about Deimos.
Behind her, the sky glowed a pale yellow as the sun fell beneath the horizon. She reached out with her magic, bidding the moon to rise into the sky and take the place of her sister’s light. Yet something ahead of the carriage disturbed the Princess. Even as the moon rose, casting a pale light onto the mountains below, a red glow still coated the horizon. She had never seen this end of Equestria, only knowing that it was the land which ponies had once called home before they were forced to find a new land after years of blizzards. But even with her lack of knowledge on the area, she had never read or heard of a red light on the horizon.
“Guard, what is that light?” she asked one of the pegasi pulling the chariot. She was no longer in the company of her own bat-pony guards, instead travelling with Celestia’s own guard due to the early hour of her departure from the Castle.
Without turning to look at her, the guard answered bluntly. “That is from Tartarus, Highness.”
A wave of shock passed over the blue alicorn, causing her eyes to widen. “A prison is lighting the entire horizon like that? How large is it exactly?” she asked quickly, standing as tall as she could to gain a better view.
“It would be easier to let you see for yourself…” the guard said quietly.
Luna continued to crane her neck in search of the prison, anxious to see what about it would cause such a strange phenomenon. Her questions were answered only minutes later.
A large ridge, which had to have been created magically due to how level the mountain tops were, spanned in each direction as far as she could see, unbroken except for a massive gate at the center. The metal of the gate was stained black by centuries of soot, and appeared unscarred as the carriage approached. At the top of the hills was the source of the strange light, a line of magical energy spanning the entirety of the ridge which Luna could feel even from a distance.
“Is that,” was all that the Princess could muster as she stared at the sight before her.
“Yes, Highness,” the guard responded. “Welcome to Tartarus.”
“No...Gem, no…” the stallion mumbled to himself sleepily, rolling helplessly in his bed as nightmares tore through his mind. There was nothing he could do about it, only watch from inside some kind of invisible barrier as his foal was torn apart by the timber wolves, screaming for her Daddy to help until finally she lay lifeless in a pool of blood.
Over his squirming form, a pair of yellow eyes gleamed with swirling energy, feeding the fear that filled the mind of its victim as he slumbered. The once rotted body of Deimos slowly healed as the dream dragged on, sealing the holes in his flesh and returning his glossy skin to its once glorious black hue. Wisps of yellow energy flowed through the wounds until they were mended, finally allowing him to feel complete once again.
The glow of his eyes receded, returning them to their usual serpentine look as he grinned over his work. The remaining yellow energy grew into a flowing mane around his neck, casting a sickly light across the room. For how much love this Equestria held, there was still more fear than Deimos knew what to do with, and always more to take from the pitiful ponies who lived there.
For a brief moment, the serpentine creature considered tormenting the young foal sleeping just down the hall; a little dessert after the main course that was her father. He even found himself suddenly floating over her peaceful form. It would just take a single thought and her dreams of flowers and rainbows would twist to his will, embodying her deepest fears and horrors. But he restrained himself, unwilling to risk giving away his presence so soon should somepony in Equestria recall his tale.
Still, he had to keep up the reputation that came with that name, and that meant leaving a memento of his visit behind for the stallion who had so willingly listened to the lullaby. Conveniently, the foal had been gifted a pet bird only a few weeks before. Not quite as large of a calling card as Deimos had once used, but it would do the trick for the time.
A tendril of yellow energy slipped into the cage that sat just beside the filly’s bed, gently caressing the small bird inside. “Rest well feathered one, and know the honor to be bestowed upon you,” the spirit whispered into the cage, his voice sounding like the wind to any but his victim.
Without warning the bird disappeared, leaving only three yellow feathers in the cage for the child to caress in the morning. The rest was left on the wall of the father, its avian chest splayed open for him to see upon awaking from the nightmare which still gripped his mind.
Deimos appeared again in a swirl of sickly yellow energy atop one of the many mountain peaks overlooking Canterlot, giving him a clear view of both Ponyville and the 'royal' city. He was finally whole again, and it had taken but a few days to achieve. Their minds have weakened, Deimos thought to himself as he stared out onto the horizon. And they have grown confident of their safety. The spirit chuckled softly in his head and looked slowly turned to the north, out into the deserts and the wasted lands beyond Equestria.
He could sense so much loathing for the ponies there, but it was suppressed, held back for uncertainty. He knew the energy, but he had gone for so long without feeling it that he had considered those insects long extinct. A smirk spread across his slender snout, revealing the fangs hidden behind his lips. It was time for him to move past feeding from sleeping fools and finish what he had begun so long ago. Fear had led them to anger, anger had led them to hate, and hate would lead to their release.
All they needed was one last push.