Twilight Gets a Puppy
The Crescent Empire,
The doors to the throne room were pushed open allowing a unicorn stallion with his starched collar pulled up over his head, and tied fast with his tie to stagger through and collapse, flailing onto the ground.
“Does Starched Collar do this every time?” Rarity asked.
“Pretty much. Nice work there Dash.” Twilight nodded.
“Twice with the same trick, that stallion's not that bright.”Rainbow Dash cackled.
“Hey Princess we're here, this better be important” Spike grumbled.” You interrupted my game night.”
“You shouldn't have even come you know that right?” Twilight sighed.
“Right just like I shouldn't have been there for Nightmare Moon, when I saved every one at the town hall. And just like I shouldn't have been there with Discord, and I saved you all from a obvious trap you were gonna run into. Oh then there was when I shouldn't have been there for the wedding, and I figured it out first that they were changelings” Spike grumbled pointing at his sister. “My track record is better than yours.”
“Twilight......” Celestia's eyes narrowed as she approached the group of Sparkles and Bearers.”I should have told you not to bring your brothers. Luna will not be pleased.”
“Like they would listen” Twilight rolled her eyes.
“Woof.” Rahs stated flatly.
“Yeah, it helped with Discord and you didn't want them here then either.” Pinkie Pie shrugged.
“It wasn't my call this time, Luna was rather adamant” Celestia sighed. “There isn't much time. The Crystal Empire has returned.”
Celestia narrowed her eyes as she was greeted by blank stares.
“Is that like tha name of a group of villains or something?” Applejack asked.
“No it's a literal Empire, I remember that much. It's mentioned in a number of old tales and legends but there's not much about it” Twilight sighed.
“Grrrrrrr” Rahs growled.
“You mean that was what Nightmare Moon ran?” Fluttershy shuddered as Rahs nodded.
“Back before the Equestrian Civil War, there was a conflict that led into it. This war was called the War of Night. The War of Night lasted decades and finally ended with the death of King Solomon. Solomon's death freed Nightmare from his control and she set out into the world to marshal her forces, leading us into the Equestrian Civil War. His son King Sombra took over and continued to run the Empire in darkness for several years. Seeing the forces of darkness weakened a coalition of forces attacked, this included several gods, a number of nations and the last collection of Element Bearers.”
Celestia sighed at the memory her ears flattening.
“Before we could end his reign, the empire itself vanished, taking a portion of our forces as well as half the Element Bearers of the time with it” Celestia monologued.” I need all of you to go to the Empire and help Shining Armor and Princess Cadence restore it to it's rightful state and ensure that if Sombra still lives he cannot take it over again. The train is waiting at the station and will depart in one hour. Go and do your best to save the Crystal Empire.”
Celestia turned, heading back to one of her aides standing by her throne speaking with them quietly and leaving the Element Bearers staring after her.
“SERIOUSLY!?!?!” Twilight fumed, drawing Celestia's attention. “You did not just thirty second info dump on us, and then tell us to scamper off!?”
“That is all I have time for, there is far too much to do.” Celestia responded.
“We need more information than that!” Twilight snapped.
“Well, hold onto your questions and ask me on the train.” Celestia snapped back.
“No offense to any of you, but this is a entire empire possibly filled with death and destruction waiting to conquer all of Equss again. Not to mention the population at risk. You are going as Bearers of the Elements and advisers to Cadence. I am certainly not trusting the fate of the world just to a caretaker, a seamstress, a baker, a farmer, a weather pony, a librarian, a student, and an actor “ Celestia rolled her eyes. “This isn't a fated prophecy or a idiot ex of mine that would have given up if more than three gods turned against him, this is serious. Cadence and Shining Armor have the full company of the Heart Guard with them. A division of the guard are boarding the train now, and Luna and I will also be joining you. I need to make arraignments so that the government still functions while we are gone. Prince and a few others I trust need to be briefed on what to do and any emergency plans, and I have less than an hour to do so and get armored. We should have left yesterday, so I am in a bit of a mood. If you have questions ask me on the train. Now go!”
The group stared at Princess Celestia as she went back to what she was doing, then looked to each other, then promptly left.
[Train to North Base Ski Resort, Frozen North. Closest point to the Crystal Empire.]
“The ski resort, along with the train terminal has been cleared Princess. All vacationers and non essential personal were on the last train back, the Guards are currently fortifying the location.” A unicorn in Guard armor reported.
“Thank you Steel Spear. Keep me posted” Princess Celestia ordered. The Guard saluted and left the train car. The Elements of Harmony and the Sparkles sat watching Princess Celestia be fitted with what looked like some sort of golden scale mail armor by a pair of smiths. Princess Luna was already fitted but she sat off to the side, glancing with worry at Rahs occasionally, though she had been silent most of the trip allowing Celestia to explain.
“The actual goings on inside the empire are unknown, we are unsure of what to expect inside. You will all stay close to the Guards we are assigning you. We have been unable to establish communication with Cadence since the shield went up aside from the occasional runner message. She has pointed out there is something wrong with the Crystal Ponies, but she cannot check on them and Shining Armor does not have the magical knowledge necessary to figure it out.” Celestia explained. “I'm sending in a team of doctors this time as well to see what they can find out. Twilight you will head the research team in finding out the main issue. Moon Dancer and Sunburst are your contacts in the team.”
“What am I supposed to find out?” Twilight asked
“I do not know, the Crystal Empire has never truly been part of Equestria, even before the three tribes era the Empire was it's own place. We were on friendly terms with them for decades after the founding of Equestria, but with Solomon's rise to power, that all collapsed. The main thing I wish you to look into is the shield barrier that has formed around the Empire. When Cadence set hoof inside, a barrier formed and started shrinking. Cadence and Shining Armor managed to stop it, but Cadence's own power is all that is keeping it at bay. We found that the spell is triggered by a god crossing the threshold of the main city, likely as a booby trap left by Solomon or Sombra to send the Empire back to where it emerged from, taking the god or gods with it. A rather devious one if it managed to capture a god with a power that Equss needs to survive like myself or Bleu. Luna and I will not be able to join you past the barrier for fear of making things worse“ Celestia explained. “We will remain at the base camp and assist as we can from there. Spike's breath mail should still work despite the barrier. That is the only reason he is allowed to accompany you.”
“That is a lot tah take in.” Applejack frowned.
“I am sorry for this, with luck the Element's of Harmony themselves can be used some how and we can all go home as a success” Celestia sighed. “However if you cannot save the Empire, then you are to get out as fast as you can. We were lucky I had all of the Element's of harmony with me last time and had not given them out to the others yet, or we may have lost three of them then when the Empire vanished the first time. You six need to get free more than any one else there. There is still more to that prophecy I was given. I do not even want to risk you on this, but if this is part of it.....”
“Sister.” Luna finally spoke up with the one word.
Celestia sighed. “And if he is still alive, do not engage Sombra. The Guards have orders to try and take him alive, but to use their judgment. If he cannot be captured then he needs to be destroyed.”
The faint shift of the train car and the scream of brakes announced their arrival.
“We are here. We are going to see to the base camp. Meet up with Major Comet Trail and Captain Lodestone outside and ready for your trek, it's three miles to the barrier through the blizzard. Good luck.” Celestia offered as she vanished with a teleport.
“Rahs. Spike.” Luna spoke up. “If there is danger, do not hesitate. Do what thou can to protect the Bearers first. Guards are expendable, you six are not.”
“It can't be that bad.....” Fluttershy whimpered. “Can it?”
The Lunar mare let out a long breath.
“Rahs Sparkle. You need to be more wary than the others.” Luna frowned. “We did not want you to come here. This is where the army of Witch Wolves, and worse, was made.”
With those words Luna too vanished with a pop of teleportation, leaving the group looking worriedly at Rahs.
Luna popped in with a flash of light, appearing a few paces behind her sister in the snow.
The older sister was staring out into the snow fields to the east of the barrier. Out in the field was a collection of forms of varying sizes.
“That didn't take them long.” Celestia sighed, having sensed this group before she left the train.
“We are going to need to deal with them.” Luna frowned. “We do not like that idea, they are all going to accuse us of this.”
“Most likely, but avoiding them would only make matters worse.” Celestia smiled slightly. “Besides Kaz and Bleu are here and you already met favorably with them.”
“Kaz and Bleu are not the gods we worry about sister.” Luna frowned as she followed her sister to the gathering of Equss' gods.