The ascent up the flight of stairs was a long one but thanks to the healing potion that Luna drank earlier the climb was made more bearable. The alicorn princess tried to push the thoughts of the flooded hallway out of her mind as she walked, instead counting each step her hoof clopped on.
Eighty seven, eighty eight, eighty nine…
The stairs stopped and Luna looked up. She was in a spacious room with large fogged glass windows in front of her that blurred her ability to see out of the castle. However, the princess could tell by the amount of light being let in through the windows that it was the early evening. Luna gave a quiet sigh. She hoped that her sister would raise the moon for her tonight.
To her left and right were two magnificent fountains that spewed water from the tops of two stoic, carved pony heads. The water formed a dome that reached the very edges of the fountains. Luna felt relieved to see the serenity that came with the two fountains and walked over to the one on her left, dipping her head into the dome of water. She took a short moment to enjoy the water sprinkling onto the top of her head.
The princess lifted her head and looked around the rest of the room. In the corners of the room to her left and right there were two doors, the one on the right left completely open as if inviting Luna to go into that room first. Behind her and across from the fogged glass windows was an elevated stone platform that had two sets of curved staircases leading up to it with two doors at the top of the stairs.
Luna turned her attention over to the opened door and trotted over and peered inside. More fogged glass windows lined the side of the large room along with two arcades that directed Luna’s attention to the end of the room where there looked to be a set of metal double doors. Luna started to make her way over to the double doors when another door caught her eye as she was half way across the room.
The dark princess walked over the door first and tried the handle. It was locked. Luna turned her attention back to the metal double doors.
After reaching them, Luna nudged them open and stepped inside. It was relatively cramped in the compartment as Luna closed the doors behind her and pulled the lever that was off to her left. Nothing happened.
“This must be the elevator the note was talking about. It seems to be either broken or lacking power.” Luna said to herself as she stepped back out of the cramped elevator. “I guess I should go and explore the other rooms”
Luna closed the double doors and walked out of the room and back into the room with the two fountains. She noticed each of the rooms had signs above them. She turned around to read the sign above the elevator room.
Elevator Room. “Well that’s convenient” Luna said to herself. She walked across the room to check the other door.
Storage. More storage rooms? Luna sighed and made her way up the stairs to check out the last two doors.
Study and… Library. Well, if the elevator is out then there should be a book in the library that will tell me how to fix it. Luna told herself as she pushed open the door and shined her lantern in.
She was looking down a dark hallway with doors on either side. The princess slowly stepped into the hallway and let the door close behind her before she began to creep down the hallway to the first door. She read the sign next to the door.
“Fiction A-Z.” She whispered. She opened the door and looked inside.
Luna silently closed the door behind her and began scanning up and down the aisles for anything that could help her out. Something glimmered in the corner of her eye and she trotted over.
It was a large rusty key that must have seen many years of use. Luna picked it up and stored it in her saddle bags before proceeding to check the rest of the room. She did not find anything else, however, and left the fiction portion of the Library.
The alicorn made her way down the rest of the hallway, stopping at each door to read each of the signs.
Mythology... Mathematics Collections… Historical Text and Biographies… Ah ha! Non-fiction.
Luna opened the door to the non-fiction section of the library. The room was very dark but the princess could make out many candles all over the room. Not wanting to use her lantern any further, Luna struck a match and lit as many candles as she could with one match, bringing a plenty amount of light to the room.
The princess started to scan up and down the aisles of books looking for a section that might be related to the many contraptions located throughout the castle. Luckily, non-fiction seemed to be categorized by topic instead of author so Luna made a dash for aisle M.
Unfortunately she didn’t find anything related to elevators in that section. Luna ran over to E but there was nothing in that section either. R, C, P didn’t hold any successful results as well. Luna sat down, dejected, next to a desk that was pushed up against the corner of the room. She looked at the papers that were scattered across the desk and saw a note that caught her eye.
The elevator is in much needed repair. All descent into the depths of the castle will have to be suspended until the elevator has been brought to a full and working condition. First, a few of the gears that power the elevator have mysteriously snapped in half and are needed to be replaced. Luckily, there are plenty lying around in the elevator maintenance room and should be no problem to fix. The air and water control cores, however, are in need of replacement too. I have to check manifests again since I think we have only one set of cores left in the storage. I’ll be sure to put in an order for more. Oh, and if elevator maintenance is locked again just check the hidden spot in the study, the key to the room should be there.
Signed by Strong Hammer”
“Okay, so I need to find the key, grab the set of cores from storage, and I should be able to fix up the elevator” Luna said to herself as if to reinforce the mental note. She quickly put the note into her saddle bags and walked to the door. It wouldn’t budge.
What? Who could have… Dread entered the back of Luna’s mind and she frantically twisted the door handle, hoping the door would open. She fetched out the key from her saddle bags but that wouldn’t work either.
Luna started panting as she spun around and went in search of something that might aid her. She ran up and down the aisles of non-fiction and finally stopped at the end of the last aisle, looking directly in front of her at a small hole in the wall.
The entire wall looked structurally unsound as the princess gave the wall a few taps with her front hooves. Dust shook from the loose places where the hole was and the wood gave a hollow thud. Luna bent her head to look through the hole.
“If I remember right this should be Historical Text and Biographies.” Luna whispered as she noticed that the room was most likely laid out in the same way that both fiction and non-fiction were laid out. She turned around and spotted a chair that was half way down the aisle. With Luna’s left back hoof damaged from the bite that the gilled pony gave her, she didn’t want to exert too much pressure on the wound other than walking. A slight limp seems more appropriate.
Luna picked the chair up and turned towards the hole, positioning herself so that the legs of the chair would ram directly into the center of the hole. Taking in a large breath, Luna charged the wall, landing the legs of the chair precisely in the middle of the hole, tearing the wall apart.
There was now a large enough hole for a pegasus flaring it’s wings could fit through. Luna dropped the chair and ducked her head so that she may at least squeeze herself through the wall.
After passing through the hole, the alicorn princess trotted up to the door that marked the exit of Historical Text and Biographies only to find it locked. What? But… Was this door locked before? She asked herself before rummaging through her saddle bags for the key.
The key worked and Luna nudged the door open and looked to her left.
There was now a grand piano blocking the entrance to the non-fiction section of the library. Luna cautiously approached it, checking underneath the piano to make sure there was nothing lurking to catch her unawares. Then she checked inside the piano, lifting the top and peeking inside and saw nothing. She set it back down. it back down. Well, I should probably leave the library now.
Turning her lantern off and closing the library door slowly behind her as she left, Luna fetched the note from non-fiction and read it over again to double check what she needed to do. After she finished looking the note over and stored it away back in her saddle bags, the princess turned to her right and headed for the door to the Study.
Luna only managed to nudge the door open half way however as she noticed something must be blocking it. The alicorn gave a few pushes against the door with her good shoulder, managing to force open the door a bit more so that she may be able to fit through. She turned on the lantern.
The Study was a mess with papers littered everywhere, chairs thrown about, and knickknacks either lying about disheveled or broken on desks, bookshelves, and mantels. The whole room she was in currently was rather small and the windows were covered by blinds, blocking the light out. Luna made her way over to one of the windows and noticed there was a quiet tapping sound against the window. She threw open the blinds and let out a yelp before falling back onto her right shoulder.
Outside the window, blowing in the breeze, was a lynched magenta pony. Her eyes were wide open and mouth gaping as her snout tapped the window in regular intervals. The tense muscles in her front legs showed she must have struggled for life even after her neck had been snapped.
Luna turned away and crawled into a corner, nursing the damaged shoulder she fell on and closed her eyes. Why… What happened here? Everypony seems to have mysteriously disappeared and have been replaced by either by this dead body or those… things that are trying to kill me. I need to find out what happened and maybe reverse it.
“This is a bad idea” Luna whispered to herself as she got to her hooves and closed the blinds. Right below the blinds where some desks that Luna checked. One of them contained another canteen of oil that she used to refill her lantern. After checking out the rest of the room and not finding a spot that could pose as a secret area where a key might be stashed, Luna decided to move into the next room and continue her search.
The next room was more like a bedroom connected to the study. The room was distraught like the study with papers and knickknacks littered everywhere. There was also a large bed that was unmade and a few closets with their contents spilled across the floor.
Luna took a step towards the bed and suddenly felt light headed, falling forward and blacking out…
Lunches with her sister in the castle gardens were always soothing for Luna. They had a favorite patch of grass they went to right beneath the two statues of their parents, Sol and Galactica. The spot seemed to emit a strong feeling of love and understanding, almost as if the two sister’s parents were standing right above them laughing and smiling at each other as they watched their two little fillies canter about the castle gardens. Their parents were so proud of them; the blue alicorn could remember seeing it in their eyes nearly two millennia ago.
Luna sighed and looked up, staring at her mother’s face and made the familiar observation that it was beautiful yet commanding in its own way. She was Luna’s role model. Loved by the people, smart, stunning, reserved. Her flowing mane moving in bright, circular patterns like a spiral galaxy as she gazed down at her subjects next to her handsome husband, speaking in a voice that felt like a wave of warm mountain spring water rushing over you.
“You look so much like Mother, Woona.” Princess Celestia suddenly said, lying down on the soft blanket underneath the two statues.
Princess Luna’s gaze drifted downward to the name adorned on a plaque at the base of the statue. Queen Galactica. Co-Ruler of Equestria, Guardian of the Galaxy, Beautiful Wife, Loving Mother. May you forever rest in peace. “I wish I could agree with you, ‘Tia.”
“Oh little sister…” Celestia gave a sad smile. “Come sit next to me.”
Luna walked over and sat down next to her sister, snuggling up to her side as they both gazed at the two statues before them.
“When you were born,” Celestia started, “I remember being called into the hospital room to meet my little sister for the very first time. I didn’t know what to expect for our first encounter. Would you be playful, would you be crying, would you want to chew on my hair? I bounded down the halls of the hospital in excitement while a poor nurse was following close to behind me.
“I met Father at the door. He stopped me shortly to tell me to be extra quiet when we entered the room, bringing his hoof up to his lips and shushing. After that he let me in, following close behind me. I remember seeing you in Mother’s arms, rocked back and forth at a slow pace.
“There was a great, big smile across her lips as she looked up at me and beckoned me over. I trotted up and hopped onto the bed with her. That’s when I saw you. You were such a cute blue ball of fur with your little, light blue mane and tail.” Celestia chuckled while Luna gave a faint smile. “That’s when I saw Mother’s eyes. They were so full of joy and happiness. I don’t think I had ever remembered a time before that moment where Mother had been that happy.”
“Mother was always there for us. When we were hungry she would fix us up our favorite treat. When we were tired she would sing us one of our favorite lullabies. When we were hurt she would bandage our wounds, whether they be physical or mental, and give us one of those hard candies you enjoy so much afterwards. Mother loved us so much.
“She brought me aside one day after the Day Court was over. She asked me to promise something for her. She looked the most serious I had ever seen her. She asked me to always look out for you and to always love you, no matter what happens. That you would forever be my little sister.”
Celestia looked up at Galactica, a small smile on her face. “I didn’t know why she was making me promise this at the time. I had always loved my little sister and I always would. But I think she knew. Even after Mother passed, she was looking out for us.”
Luna looked back up at her mother’s face and felt a tear creep down her face. She remembered that day. She remembered watching Celestia and her mother from afar, out of earshot. She remembered seeing her mother fight back tears that day. She also remembered that just one month later, her mother made the ultimate sacrifice for Equestria.
And for both of them.
“‘Tia, I’m going to go get that artifact.”
Luna awoke on the bed in the room attached to the study, a rush of pain coming to her head.
“Ugh, please… Why… What’s going on?” Slowly the headache went away and Luna was finally able to look up again, only to find that the room was pitch black.
“Oh, the lantern is off” Luna turned the lantern back on and looked about the room, trying to figure out how much time had passed. She walked back out of the bedroom and went over to the blinds that blocked the view of the lynched mare. The princess carefully lifted one side of the blinds, trying not to catch a glimpse of the appalling sight.
It was completely dark outside. “Oh no, I must have been out for a couple of hours”
Luna hurried back into the room and started looking through the drawers and closets for anything that might resemble a place to hide a key. She looked under the mattress, behind paintings, up the fireplace that was in the room. Under the bed she did find a rather large chest but when she opened it she saw that there was nothing inside. Luna looked up at the ceiling in frustration.
That’s when she saw a glimmer attached to the underside of the ceiling lantern. The blue alicorn pushed off with her wings and took the key from its hiding spot and examined it.
It was an old key but no doubt it was the key that went to the elevator maintenance room. She put it in her saddle bag.
Suddenly there was a loud crash as the door to the study flew open. She heard a low metallic growl.
Luna’s heart stopped. Oh no. She dropped down and closed the door to the bedroom as quietly as she could.
There was a clop and then clang with each step the new creature took as it started to approach the bedroom door. Luna backed away from the door slowly.
Suddenly she heard the creature charge the door, smashing a horn through the wood before retreating, no doubt readying itself to try again. Luna looked around desperately.
She spotted the chest. It looked to be large enough to hide her. Luna quickly got inside the chest and closed it down on top of her.
With one more charge the door flew off of its hinges, smashing into the bed and then falling with a crash onto the chest Luna was in. The creature clopped and clanged into the bedroom.
Luna could hear strained, metallic breathing as it stopped right in front of the chest she was in. She held her breath, not making a move.
The creature turned to leave, clopping and clanging out the door. Against her conscience, Luna peeked out of the chest to try and catch a glimpse of what the creature looked like. She only saw a brittle black tail as it eventually left the study.
The princess stayed in the chest for a little longer, taking shallow breaths in case the creature had decided to stay back and futher look around the study. After what seemed like half an hour of hearing nothing except silence, Luna finally opened the chest and got out. She looked into the study and saw that the entrance to the study was swung wide open.
The blue alicorn crept to the open door slowly and quietly, afraid the new creature may be patrolling in the main room with the fountains. When she looked out of the door, however, she saw that there was no sign of the creature anywhere. She closed the door behind her before starting back down the stairs.
Once Luna reached the bottom of the stairs she looked over to her right and up at the sign hanging over the door she needed to proceed through next.