Heading to The North
May 15th, 2013
I sat with Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash at the Canterlot train station platform waiting for Twilight and Spike to return from this so-called test that Twilight had to do. Apparently, Princess Celestia sent Twilight a letter early this morning and it stated that it was urgent that she'd get up to Canterlot as soon as possible to be given an assigned test. And with Twilight Sparkle being Twilight Sparkle, she freaked out and made a big deal about the whole thing. She was scrambling through her books and papers just because she had no idea what her test was going to be on. It was a mess.
"I sure hope that Twilight passes her test. She didn't really have any time to prepare for it at all." Fluttershy said.
"Oh, don't worry about her, Fluttershy. Twilight pretty much knows everything. She'll be able to pass." Pinkie said.
"Now, we don't exactly know that. It could something new for her, y'know." Applejack said.
"Like something super secret and something that nopony has ever heard of?" Pinkie asked.
"Possibly, but who knows. We'll just have to wait and see what Twilight has to say when she gets back." Applejack said.
"I don't know. It's taking her a little bit more longer than I expected from her." Rainbow Dash said.
We all looked at each other for a moment. Everyone was curious and unsure wether Twilight was going to come back with great news or not. It took about another ten minutes or so, but Twilight and Spike arrived at the train station to meet up with us. Her head drooped downwards in a depressive manner, so that didn't really seem like a good sign at first.
"She doesn't look too happy." I noticed.
"Shoot. She kinda does. Well, let's all just give her a warm welcome even if we get some bad news," Applejack said before she joined our friend huddle to greet Twilight. "Twilight! Uh, did you pass?"
"Are we going to celebrate your awesomeness with Princess Celestia?" Pinkie asked while setting off her party cannon that she just had to bring along with while leaping upwards.
"Not quite. We're going to the Crystal Empire!" Twilight replied.
The empire's name immediately came to mind for me while the girls all looked confused.
"Crystal what?" Rainbow asked.
"The Crystal Empire," Twilight repeated. "Princess Celestia just filled me in on the details to my actual test, and I've been tasked to assist my brother and Princess Cadance in protecting the Crystal Empire with the help of you guys." Twilight replied.
"Wow. That's a huge responsibility and task for you." Fluttershy said.
"And where exactly is the Crystal Empire at? I've never heard about it in all my life." Rarity said.
"I was expecting one of you to say that because there's not many records of the empire itself. However, Caleb did get a smidgen of information on the Crystal Empire in a history book he read a few months ago." Twilight said.
"That's right. But it only mentioned about how some dark unicorn named King Sombra put a spell on the empire that caused itself to vanish into thin air for over a thousand years. And it happened somewhere way up north in the arctic." I informed.
"Over a thousand years? Then how in Equestria did it come back?" Rainbow Dash asked.
"Nopony knows. But it seems that it reappeared in the early hours last night and suspiciously on the tenth day following Shining Armor and Princess Cadance's wedding." Twilight said.
"Maybe the days follow up to a thousand. One for one-hundred, five for five-hundred, and ten for one-thousand." Pinkie theorized, which actually sounded like a legit explanation.
"You could be onto something there, Pinkie." Twilight said.
"So how far away is it?" I asked.
"Pretty far away since it's in the arctic. From my best guess, about sixty something miles. That's why Princess Celestia booked a train for us to the Frozen North train station." Twilight replied.
"They have a railway up that far?" I asked.
"Well, it's not like the ponies who go up there are gonna walk that far." Twilight said.
"I suppose." I said.
"So, are we all in this together?" Twilight asked everyone.
"Hey, we're all friends here. Let's get up there and defend an ancient empire!" Rainbow said.
"But wait! I must go and pack the proper gear for the cold and brutal arctic conditions." Rarity exclaimed.
"And where exactly is this gear at?" Applejack asked.
"Back at Carousel Boutique." Rarity replied.
"Rarity, we don't have time for that. The Crystal Empire needs our help and I don't think delaying for a couple of fancy scarves aren't gonna help out much." Applejack said.
"But I'll make sure to be quick about." Rarity said.
From the looks of it, I assumed that this was going to turn into an argument that would take even more time, so I just came up with a quick solution that could work for everyone.
"Why don't I just pick up you guys and Shining Armor in the Land Rover when we get to the arctic? Its got a good heater, so you won't be cold along the drive in the arctic at all." I interrupted.
"You would drive all the way up there just for us?" Twilight asked.
"Sure. Driving a car up in the snow is a lot better than walking outside. Plus, it'll put the tires to good use, get to the empire a little bit faster, and will end this whole scarf argument." I said, prompting Applejack to smirk at Rarity.
"So, are you going to follow the train tracks all the way there?" Twilight asked.
"Yeah, I have a map in the Defender that pretty much shows every path, road, and railway track in Equestria, but you'll probably get to the station before me." I said.
"Alright then. We'll see you at the station, Caleb." Twilight said.
"And watch out for the yeti's." Rainbow warned, but just kidding around, of course.
"Are you serious? There's yeti's up there?" I asked.
"She's just kidding around, Caleb. There's really nothing much up there but snow." Twilight assured.
"Figured." I said.
Once the girls boarded onto the train, I headed for the Land Rover that was parked by the side of the station and started the engine up. I then drove all the way down the mountain and paused for a second to look at the map when I reached the bottom.
From where I was at the moment, the path I was on heads back to Ponyville, but there was a fork in the road that wasn't far ahead and I could've took that in order to reach another path that intersects with the railway that leads to the arctic. But since I was in a Land Rover Defender, I decided to put it to good use and drove alone the open plains in order to reach the other path in order to save time. There were a few trees and other various plants to dodge along the plains, but otherwise, I could go pretty fast without the fear of going over a huge bump, but it was a bit of a bumpy ride considering the fact that natural terrain isn't as smooth as a paved road. Otherwise, once I finally got to the railway, it was pretty much like driving along an interstate, except there's stuff I needed to dodge so that I wouldn't get in a wreck.
The more I drove alongside the tracks, the more it began to feel like I was driving in the country. There wasn't a lot of interesting stuff to look at besides trees, grass, plants, grass, farms, an occasional village, and more grass. Did I mention grass? Another thing is that the amount of farms and villages started to become scarce once I went further up north. Not only that, but the weather was beginning to look a little different. The sky slowly turned from a blue, sunny day to a dreary grey. I knew I was getting close to the arctic once I noticed a few snow flurries coming down. The small snow shower gradually turned into more of a winter storm, which forced me to turn on the windshield wipers. The snow blew across and swirled in the air from the changing wind patterns of the snow storm. Although it took me over an hour, I had made it to the arctic north.
I switched the heater on once the interior began to get very cold and I put on my fleece-insulated jacket I had in the back. The snow underneath the tires quietly crunched, which rose my curiosity on how deep this snow was. I stepped outside the Defender and checked the snow's height. Surprisingly, it appeared to be only seven inches deep and it was the packed type of snow, none of that fluffy, powdered stuff.
A strong gust of wind blew into my face, which caused me to shiver. The wind chill was absolutely unbearable and miserable, so I wasted no time to get back inside the Defender and continued to follow the train tracks.
Further up ahead was another fork in the road situation, but it involved the train tracks instead. I found this weird because there should only be one train station in the arctic, not two. However, I just didn't think much about shortly after and decided to try my luck and kept going straight since the map didn't really show me where the train station or the Crystal Empire was located.
And for about thirty seconds of following, the track came to a dead end. "Ah, I took the wrong track," I said before taking the map out of the glovebox and making a confusing discovery. On the map, it appeared that the track I was parked next to wasn't even there at all. But when I peeked at the sideview mirror, the track was still there. "Oh well. Might as well turn back."
But before I could even turn around, a dark mass charged at full speed into the passenger door. I gasped as the vehicle was pushed across the snow by this mysterious black mass until it put on some upward force and tipped the Land Rover on its side. The driver sideview mirror was crushed, but the windows were miraculously still intact.
"What the hell was that supposed to be?!" I questioned myself while squirming just to get out of the drivers seat.
I struggled to maneuver myself out of the vehicle while instinctively reaching for the Igneous that I had hidden under the drivers seat and switched it on once I managed to climb out. I quickly scanned the area before jumping down. The Ingneous' sights lined up with my right eye as I aimed for whatever that thing was, but it was no where to be seen, at least until the ground started to shake. The sensation of rumbling beneath my feet, mostly on my heel, prompted me to turn around to meet the black mass. I seized up for at least a second when I saw the entity. It towered up to at least one-hundred feet and it billowed like black smoke, but had a mixture of a solid and liquid texture to it and it was coming in fast. When I aimed at the black mass through the scope, a stallions face began to manifest, complete with green eyes with red iris', a purple haze seeping out of each eye, and a horn that looked so sharp and edged that it could probably cut through anything like butter. I knew what, or who, this was right off the bat.
"King Sombra! How'd he get out?"
King Sombra gave a threatening, low chuckle that oozed with malice, and I took a shot at him, hoping for the best. He managed to dodge, but the petrifying magic managed to clip a piece of his shadow form and it was enough to commence the petrification.
"What? This is impossible!" the dark unicorn said as his shadow form began to petrify to stone. He gritted his teeth and growled as the petrifying magic worked its way up him, but King Sombra knew how to stop the process. With a flare of dark magic exiting his horn before that itself could be petrified, the magic from the Igneous came to a halt for a second before it began to ever so slowly move back down King Sombra's shadow figure. Once that started, I knew I had to get out of there.
"You can run all you want, but I will catch you once I'm free." King Sombra said, his entire face still petrified.
I sprinted back to the Defender and crouched down where the roof laid on the ground. I under griped with one hand while the other put upward force on the roof and I began to push up with my arms and legs. "C'mon, c'mon!" I grunted, continuing to lift the nearly four-thousand pound vehicle off its side. By that time, King Sombra's menacing eyes had already been freed, which motivated me to just put both hands underneath the side and push upward as hard as I could. All four wheels then landed on the ground, but nearly tipping on its other side in the process. With that, I just jumped in the Defender and drove off in the direction where the other train track led off to. I took one last glance at King Sombra in the other sideview mirror and he looked really pissed off that I was actually getting away, his eyes going completely green as he continued to growl with such anger. I'm betting that he wasn't expecting on me to get away, and even so, I was terrified at that moment.
As I continued to blindly speed throughout the snowy plains of the arctic, I just kept on assuring to myself that everyone was waiting at the train station. If not, I'd be pretty screwed. Further on down the way, I noticed the tracks leading off to the north-east, which led to the train station and my to relief that everybody was waiting for me. The vehicle jumped the track to the other side and I slammed the brakes until the Defender skidded to a halt next to the loading platform.
"Oh, he made it." Rarity remarked while shivering.
Instead of replying to the comment, I proceeded to open every door on the vehicle with haste.
"Are you okay, Caleb?" Twilight asked.
"What's wrong?" Shining Armor asked with concern.
"I just had a run in with King Sombra back there, Shining Armor," I replied, pointing out in the direction of where King Sombra was. "I managed to slow him down, but I want everypony in the car right now so we can get out of here as quick as possible."
Shining Armor's mouth slightly hanged open as he looked over into the distance.
"B-B- But how did you slow him down?" Spike asked.
"That's not important. Everypony get in, now!" Shining Armor ordered.
Everone then climbed into the Defender. "Hey Shining, sit up in front. I need you to guide me to the Crystal Empire."
"Sure thing." Shining Armor said.
Following that, the sound of a spine-chilling howl echoed throughout the snowy, arctic air. That must've spooked the train engineer because the next thing I know, The Friendship Express began to speed away from the station.
"It's him! Go! Go!" Shining Armor hurried.
"Where!?" I asked.
"To the right! It's pretty much a straight shot from then on." Shining Armor replied.
Putting the first gear in place, I cut the steering-wheel to the right and floored the accelerator. The snow and the power from the spinning tires were not being cooperative with each other once my speed bypassed seventy kilometers an hour. The vehicle would occasionally fish-tail at first, but controlling it got tense once I reached up to one-hundred and fourteen kilometers an hour until I leveled out the speed. I had to have both hands on a one o'clock position on the steering just to keep the Defender under control.
"How far do we have to go?" I asked Shining Armor.
"Just one and a half mile. And once we approach the protection shield, start to slow down so that we don't all end up in a crash." Shining Armor said.
"This thing can't go through?" I asked.
"The shield is meant to protect the Empire from foreign objects and prevent King Sombra from entering. Clothing is able to passover, though." Shining Armor explained.
"Oh, good. How are we looking back there Rainbow Dash?" I asked.
"Uhh..." Rainbow said as she looked out the back window. "Gah! I can see him!"
"He's coming!" Fluttershy quivered.
King Sombra's massive, hulking shadowy figure could faintly be seen in the other sideview mirror and he was closing in. He had to of been at least half a mile behind us.
"He looks pretty far away." Spike said in an attempt to calm ourselves.
"Yeah, well not far enough." I said.
Putting more pressure of the accelerator, the vehicle sped up to one-hundred and twenty kilometers an hour until the conditions of the arctic put the speed at a stalemate, but it still wasn't enough to outrun King Sombra. He began to get closer, but still a distance away.
"Look! I can see the shield up ahead!" Twilight exclaimed.
A light-blue domed shield could be seen shining through the blinding blizzard, which was a relieve to everyone.
"Nice work, Caleb. Slow down the Land Rover a little bit, but not too much." Shining Armor said.
"Yeah, yeah, I got it." I said, putting a little pressure on the brake and leaving off in order to get more traction until I stopped the vehicle and parked it about twenty feet away from the shield. "Out of the car! Everyone out!" I said as I exited the vehicle.
Shining Armor, Twilight, and Rarity used their horns magic manipulation to open the doors and everyone scrambled out of the vehicle. Both I and Shining Armor looked back at King Sombra.
"You will not get away so easily, little ponies!" King Sombra said, diving into the snow and reappearing right in front of our eyes. Being that close to King Sombra allowed me to feel the amount of dark magic that resided in him. Besides being frightened, I suddenly felt the feeling of hatred, but it faded once I backed away and ran to the dome shield.
"Come on, Shining Armor!" Twilight shouted. I could've just jumped through the shield, but I didn't want to leave Shining Armor behind
When Shining Armor started to run towards Twilight and I, King Sombra swiped the Land Rover out of his way and shot down directly behind Shining Armor, sending the snow that coated the ground upwards like an explosion. The force of the impact caused Shining Armor to stumble and fall on his face while it sent Twilight and I through the shield and to the other side where the others waited for us.