A sky of green clouded the vast realm of Apocrypha. Forbidden knowledge lay scattered around the realm, whether it being in the form of a book or as a page fluttering in the endless wind. Creatures known only by their tentacles lie within the lethal waters, lunging at anything that dare walk by. Other creatures, once a being but corrupted by their taste for knowledge, endlessly flip through pages, seeking answers that will never be found.
A dumbfounded and confused mare watched it all.
One moment, she was at an ambassador's ceremony greeting a stallion from Saddle Arabia, her first duty as a princess. The next, she was sucked into this strange yet attractive world.
She began to take a step when a deep rumbling sound echoed through the land. A dark hole opened up in the sky and out of it came the most terrifying thing she had ever seen.
To Twilight, it was hideous. It seemed like nothing more than a grotesque mass of tentacles with a few claws here and there. It had many eyes, all of which's pupils seemed to be the same color as the sky above it. The eye in it's center, the biggest, blinked slowly, while the other smaller ones around blinked at a rapid fire pace. All Twilight could manage was a frightened stare.
"I've been watching you for a very long time, Twilight Sparkle." The voice gave of the impression of a very drowsy, old stallion. It had an echo to it; something that seemed to make it intimidating.
"You...know my name?" Twilight barely got out the sentence.
"Names are not the only thing I know. I know very many things, and with my help, you can as well." Twilight was still frozen with a mixture of fear and confusion, so he continued.
"This is the realm of Apocrypha, my home. It has a larger collection of knowledge, forbidden or not, of any place you can think of. Many come here to seek my knowledge, and I give it to them...however, most of them cannot handle it, as you see when you look around."
Twilight began to form a question, but it took a few tries before she got it.
"Who are you, a-and why did you bring me here?" She demanded with rising confidence. The being chuckled.
"Ah, questions. Those who ask questions want answers. As for who I am, I am the Daedric Prince of Knowledge, Hermaeus Mora. As for why I brought you here, that is a question which I cannot answer. Not yet, at least. In order for that knowledge, you must meet me at the Summit of Apocrypha within an hour. By the way, If you don't meet me there within that period of time, Your moral form will be killed off and you will be stuck in Apocrypha. Forever. Am I clear?" Twilight gave a nod.
"Well then, your hour starts now. I'd best be going...and so must you. In an hour, Mrs. Sparkle." with that, the demon was gone.
Twilight felt the beginnings of a panic attack going on. She had just been unwillingly brought into some otherworldly realm by a strange demon. He demanded her to meet him at the summit of his realm, which location or distance away from her was unknown, in exactly an hour or she would be killed in her realm and stuck here forever.
She took a step forward. The stone of the circular platform she was on made a haunting echo. She continued and went up the stone steps to find an open book. The words, in a language unintelligible to her, were floating around the book. Some characters seemed to be bigger than smaller. When she was about to take a closer look, multiple tentacles shot out of the book and grabbed her.
She felt pain like nothing she had ever experienced before, being drawn into a pathway to some sort. More characters floated around her as her vision suddenly faded.
It came back fairly quick, however. No longer in pain, she found that she was in Apocrypha once more. Only one thing was noticeably different.
Books were stacked everywhere, some even seemingly touching the dark green sky. A pathway stood before her, seemingly inviting her to take part in the maze of knowledge. She turned around to see the book she came out of, unchanged from when she went in it.
As she went in the maze, realization suddenly hit her like Rainbow Dash "With the sun in her eyes".
"I don't have time for this! How am I supposed to find my way out of here in an hour, much less reach the summit in that time!" she thought aloud. In her heart, she knew the only way that would give her a chance was forward.
She walked down the maze until the pathway split in two. In front of her was a note written in that language used in the realm. She was startled to find she could read it.
In your friends but not in you
"Left!" Twilight said as she whipped around the corner. She came to another intersection with another note.
Twilight became confused, expecting another riddle. After thinking for a minute, it suddenly dawned upon her.
"Well, that is correct...which means it's right." she said, making a sharp right. She began to use her wings to speed forward. It took her a while before she got to the next intersection, however, this one was different. Instead of breaking apart left or right, the two options were a spiraling staircase that seemed to lead into a morbid black abyss or a beam of light shining upwards that seemed to soar forever into the green sky.
Where are you going? Use common sense.
""The Summit of Apocrypha"" sounds like it would be upwards, so going up would be what my common sense is telling me."
She hurried upward. She could still see the towers of knowledge that loomed around her. She had been enticed to crack open a book ever since she arrived, and the plethora of them didn't exactly help her cause. After her ascent she finally found the book portal. Now being able to read it's writing, it said:
50 MINUTES LEFT.
Twilight gave a long sigh and hopped into the book. However, she felt no pain...physically. Mentally, it was all there. Every embarrassing and hurtful moment of her life flashed through her mind as her view faded to black.
As soon as she came to she realized that she was surrounded. Tentacle like creatures on all sides, ones she assumed were Hermaeus Mora's minions, had some sort of spell pointed directly at her. Based on the shaking of their bodies, they were straining and were about to release whatever they had aimed at her.
"GAH!" Twilight screamed as she quickly fell to the floor.
Since she wasn't looking up at the time, the only way she knew something happened was an absolutely ear deafening blast. After waiting about 5 seconds, she slowly hopped up. She couldn't hear anything. The beings that were previously here were now gone and in the center of the room was a single book.
Now looking around, she realized she was in fact in a room. It was more like a dome, and it was completely made out of books, which by now was no surprise.
I just want to pick one up and...
She shook the thought away. However, she also knew that there seemed to be no way out of the area. The single book in the center of the room was red, which was a departure from the commonly used black in Apocrypha. Twilight believed that it was a clue to where she needed to go and walked towards it.
Still lacking any sense of sound, she picked up the book and opened it, hoping it would tell her where to go.
It did more than just tell her.
The words from the book flew rapidly around her, slowly closing in on her. She felt like the words of the novel were going to crush her like a boa constrictor, slowly wrapping around her. When the words cocooned her with such grace and perfection that would make Chrysalis green with envy, they sucked her into the red book.
When she came to, she was in front of a mountain that was not surprisingly composed of literature. She determined that it was slightly bigger than the tallest mountain in Equestria, Mt. Ruffian. It cast a large shadow over the enviorment around her, which was a desert wasteland with a dark crimson sky.
Oh, yea. It was on fire.
The whole mountain was ablaze. Had Twilight still contained any sense of hearing, she probably imagined she could hear the loud, cackling noise of the bright orange fire. It almost hurt her eyes to look at the awesome landmark.
Twilight quickly took notice of a sign about ten feet to her left. Running towards it, she quickly read the sign as her hopes were deflated.
YOUR JOB IS TO CLIMB THIS MOUNTAIN TO THE PEAK WITHOUT MAGIC. USE OF MAGIC IS PROHIBITED.
YOU WILL BE PUNISHED IF YOU ARE TO USE MAGIC IN ATTEMPT TO CLIMB THE PEAK.
42 MINUTES LEFT. TICK TOCK
Twilight began to talk to herself but quickly realized she couldn't hear. She rolled her eyes.
Isn't 451 degrees the temperature that book paper burns? But if the mountain's title means something than this "Mountain" shouldn't even exist. I haven't attempted to climb yet, so maybe a temperature check would help.
However, when she tried to use the spell, pain shot through her body. She gave a cry, even though she couldn't hear it, and fell to the ground. When she looked up, she noticed the sign had changed it's words.
YES, THAT FIRE IS INDEED 451 DEGREES. AND YES, THAT COUNTED.
40 MINUTES LEFT. TICK TOCK
She slowly got up and wondered in what way she could scale the mountain.
One - I could fly. I'm not a good flyer, though, and if I were to fall I would be come Frilight. Two - I could look for a source of water. But this is a desert. Those aren't exactly known for their water, which could always make this difficult. That would take up time, and time is money. That isn't an option. And three - I can wait here and die.
She glanced over at the sign and noticed it had changed to 39 minutes. She quickly decided that she would have to fly her way to the top.
Come on, Twilight. For your friends and family at home who are probably wondering what's happening to you. For the good of Equestria.
She flapped her wings, slowly making an upward ascent. As she noticed before, the mountain was big, so she estimated she would need to fly about 6 miles, maybe a little less. That was going to be difficult.
With minor struggle, she hit the 3 mile mark. The countless books that were being burned disgusted her. It was a waste of knowledge.
Now I'm starting to think like Mora. It's not like anything is happening to the copies...keep going.
She struggled to hit the 4 mile mark. Her wings were telling her to quit, to fold up and plummet to a fiery, fiery death, and to have struggled in vain.
And for a moment, she did.
Her wings folded up like a mechanism, seemingly locking themselves to her side. She began a slow plummet, feeling the heat's intensity as she got near she closed. her eyes. and she waited for the end to approach her.
"Come on, Twilight. For your friends and family at home who are probably wondering what's happening to you. For the good of Equestria."
For the good of Equestria.
Her eyes shot wide open. With all the might she could gather, she opened her wings, proud and wide, and shot upwards with a determination that she had never felt before. For the moment, she felt no pain. She felt no fatigue. Adrenaline coursed through her body and the only thing she felt was the wind in her face as she slowly climbed the mountain.
She flew to where she could see over the top of the peak. The book that would presumably lead her to her next challenge rested upon the top.
I'll beat you, Mora, and all your damn challenges!
She fell with grace into the book portal. This time, her discomfort came in the form of all her worst nightmares she had ever experienced while dreaming. It wasn't that bad this time, though, because she knew she would do it. She would beat Mora.
A corridor. It was made of blue mist, and only that, and it looked like you could fall right through it. However, her four hooves were firmly attached to the...ground.
Twilight found another sign to her right, and it was strangely tall (that would make it a billboard). She flew to the top to read it and slowly descended as she took in the words.
THIS IS THE TIME CORRIDOR, WHERE TIME ITSELF IS TWISTED. YOU SEE, HERE, DAYS ARE HOURS AND MINUTES ARE SECONDS. TIME RIGHT NOW IS FROZEN, BUT AS SOON AS YOU READ THE LAST WORD OF THIS NOTICE TIME WILL BEGIN. 28 SECONDS LEFT. TICK TOCK
Twilight shot forward faster than Rainbow Dash in desperate need of the bathroom.
28, 27, 26...
Twilight began to see the same creatures that nearly blasted her to pieces in the book dome. They relentlessly began to fire objects at her as she dodged them with various flight manuvers.
What is this, a game of Tempest?
She could see the book ahead of her, zooming in closer. She stopped counting in her head as she soared towards the book and finally sailed into the portal to the Summit, where she could finally confront Mora. As she soared through the portal, she noticed no means of discomfort were executed. She knew that this was the end.
When she arrived at the other side, Hermaeus Mora was staring straight at her. However, he looked different than usual.
He was, in fact, now a male pony. Slightly skinnier than the average colt, he had a coat blacker than night (as was his heart, Twilight thought) and a dark green mane and tail. He had reptilian green eyes with a long and wide scar running down his left eye. He had a stern look on his face, which quickly turned to a humorous one.
"Unfortunate on your part that you didn't die." he remarked. Twilight at first became relieved that she could now hear but then became confused.
"Huh?" she asked, not sure where the being was going. Mora gave a chuckle.
"Had you died, you would have simply returned to your mortal world, safe and sound. I would have to go through yet another great struggle to get you here, which I probably wouldn't risk. You would have had no more to do with me."
Anger boiled inside Twilight. She felt ready to punch Mora straight in the face, but knew that it wouldn't end well.
She took a moment to notice her surroundings. The "Summit" was just a huge, wide turret, which was strange to her because no form of architecture in Equestria built anything like it. She noticed the edge of the tower.
"Oh, you can't jump off. The edges are sealed with magic, and your magic simply cannot break the barrier. You're stuck here. Now, before I tell you why I brought you into this world, I assume you have a few questions. Go ahead, you have as much time as you would like. I do enjoy knowledge seekers, after all." he gave a smirk.
Twilight realized that fighting Mora would get her nowhere, as he seemed to be some sort of god from somewhere. She needed to know more about the entity himself.
"So, Mora..." she said casually, "Tell me about yourself." she returned the being's smirk.
"Catch." he said, pulling out a book from seemingly nowhere and throwing it at Twilight. She caught the book.
She noticed it had an unusual texture to it and the cover was thick.
"What is this stuff?" she said, pointing at the cover.
"I usually operate on a planet far, far, far away from yours called Nirn. That entire book, not just the cover, is made up of the skin of it's inhabitants."
Twilight quickly dropped the book in disgust.
"Oh no. You said you wished to know more about me, and there it is. I advise you read the book."
With caution, Twilight slowly picked it up. The whole book seemed heavy, and lifting he cover took more effort than it should have. Opening the book, she realized it only had two pages:
"I know you can read those pages." said Mora, with a twinge of content. "Tell me what they say, Twilight. Read it aloud."
Twilight looked very confused reading the text. She tried a translation spell for the terms she didn't know but they failed miserably.
"This is all I can make out of this." She cleared her throat and then read:
"In the middle of this Iceberg however a grand lockbox Septim carved a cave in the Iceberg so that in side of the lockbox essentially...The Iceberg was created around the lockbox by some unknown person in the little hundred 'ltmia' of years. This person 'found' the Oghma Infinium and recognized it like an 'instrument' of evil and 'sealed' away in the bandwidth (perhaps, meaning inner) lockbox iceberg so the... the history of the Nirn was vast and deep go au Winterhold magic of mind he speaks...commands Dwemer hoping to find a mistake more knowledge more secret he...prays during the past few decades and you read in their investigations accordingly...affected most of the Daedric lord consent judgment in the world killing one here...Skyrim Septimus himself beds and ice cures the disease... Dwemer here wearing the clothes I damage the case on salt...I don't get it. These are just fragments of sentences."
"Indeed it is. Just like myself. You got bits and pieces of the Infinium, and those were confused, broken sentences. The words and things you don't know, however, are hidden away, deep. No one will ever know what they mean. And that is me. I have things people know about me, and those are confused and mangled. However, some things about me are hidden away, never to be discovered. That is me. That is Hermaeus Mora."
Twilight was dumbfounded by the prince's words. She eyed him quizzically.
"Twilight, let me ask you a question. What are you? Are you really Twilight Sparkle?" Twilight frowned.
"What else should I be?" she stated, keeping watch on Mora. Mora chuckled.
"All Apologies. I misstated the question. Is doing what you have done really your path? Is it your destiny?"
Twilight stared at the prince. She didn't even want to put the thought into consideration. However...had Nightmare Moon not invaded Equestria, she would be some secluded book freak in her library in Canterlot. Many other things could have happened along the way, and if so she may not be a princess. Destinies could change, in her eyes, and if a series of events had happened...
"It...it...it's possible." said Twilight, saying the words with much difficulty.
Mora went into a chuckle, and then into a laugh. Twilight felt anger inside of her, having just admitted something that gravely disturbed her and it being shrugged off so nonchalantly.
"What's so funny?" demanded Twilight in a rage. Mora stopped quickly but a smirk still hung on his face.
"That, my dearest Twilight Sparkle, is the reason that I brought you to my realm."
Twilight quickly silenced her anger. She looked at Mora wide-eyed and took a step backwards.
"You were tempted to read every book in my realm, were you not?" asked Mora.
Twilight slowly nodded.
"Yes. You wanted to know. My realm is a prison for those who seek knowledge. It is knowledge that created you, and it is knowledge that will seal your fate. Ah, but you do not know how. I do. And I believed that you would want to find out. See, you amused me, Sparkle. So I brought you here, under risk, to watch you partake on the journey to find your real fate, as I assure you it's spectacular. I want to see you find your true destiny and the adventure that comes along, because it does get boring in here some times...I can give you that opportunity, to know your fate and to change it, for a small price. I will ask you for a favor, and you will return it. When it will come up I cannot say...well, I can, actually, but I'm not telling you. then again, you do not have to take this. I can send you back to Equestria, with you oblivious to your true meaning, and you will never hear of me again. A black soul gem, the next part of your journey..." A black, long diamond appeared floating in the air next to him. "...or your normal ways." A swirling portal appeared next to him with the familiar Library of Golden Oak the destination.
Twilight looked at the portal and the gem.
This should be a no brainer. just go back. To your life. But...
She gazed at the soul gem.
to know the end of your days and attempt to change it? But my fate could very well end on the journey there...It's all so tempting...
Twilight looked at Mora once more. He had a glint in his eyes like no other she had ever seen, one that radiated evil.
And he smiled.