Twilight gets a Puppy
The Crescent Empire.
Episode 2, Part 2
[Crystal palace library]
“It's a spell book.” Twilight frowned flipping through the pages. “ And not a very impressive one... why was this hidden away?”
“To be fair Miss sparkle, the room had a unlocked door leading to the back of the store room next door. The only reason we even felt the draft was that the room was cooler than in here and the wall had partially rotted away.” Comet Trail answered. “It wasn't well hidden.”
“There are a lot of places we haven't looked in the palace” one of the Heart Guard with them added. “ We've been focused on questioning every pony and keeping what places we have looked into secure. There were a lot of maids and guards wandering around here aimlessly when we first showed up.”
Twilight hummed as she looked over the book. “The sheer number of magical traps that were on the book means that there was a reason it was put in there. But everything in here is a basic spell with only a bit more focus on combat magic than most spell books. I know all these, even if they are written weird.” Twilight frowned. “Rahs have you found anything else about that book stand?”
“Wuff.” Rahs commented prodding the tinted crystal stand that was still in the hidden room, there were no more spells on either the book nor the stand that he could smell. There was however a flip up top on the stand that he had taken the book out of. The see through smoky crystal acted like one of those fancy glass cases you saw in the museum.
“Nothing.... but this book has to be some sort of clue, you don't just stick something in another room and trap the fool out of it for no reason.” Twilight snorted.
“Red herring?” a guard suggested.
“Dude was an ass?” another guard added.
“Maybe, on both of those, but something tells me not. Look here. The lettering is odd, at first I considered it some sort of odd script of old equish, but no other book I've looked at here has used this sort of type. It's not hand written, it's print and the spacing for this sort of print makes it seem like there's something between the letters, like a secret message, but there's no indents on the page and none of my spells reveal anything.”
“A secret message? You mean the sort you used to get from cereal boxes?” one of the guards asked.
“So that means we need a decoder ring or some special glasses?” another questioned.
Twilight considered before getting up and moving into the small room with her brother. She placed the book back inside the crystal pedestal, closing the lid and looking at the page she had left open.
Well so much for that, it's just a spell book under glass now.”
Rahs however was staring at the book with a frown. He opened the glass case to check again before closing it and looking at the book more.
“Somethings magic?” Twilight questioned, her horn glowing as she started flipping through the pages of the covered book curiously, seeing nothing change at all.
Rahs frowned watching, still feeling the magic there, but not seeing anything. He opened the case again as Twilight got to the end of the book and flipped it over before slapping the book face down and closing the case.
The cover of the book glowed in shadow cast by the tinted case, a number of runes visible in the leathery binding.
“Well. That's new.” Twilight muttered as she looked over the runes her horn glowing.” Wow... that is some strong magic.......”
Twilight's ears perked up at that.
“Dark magic too...”Twilight muttered. “But it's a spell. Enchantment in fact, self targeting, odd.”
“Not sure what he said Miss Sparkle, but if it was 'don't even think about it', I agree.” Comet Trail responded.
“My sister in law and this empire are in danger.” Twilight snapped her horn still glowing.” Besides I already cast it.”
[Outside in the 'less snow than before' field]
“Another message from Spike, the Bearers and their Guards are trying to set up the faire they found out about. With luck the familiarity might jog some of their memories. “Celestia sighed reading the scroll.
“A long shot, but it's not as if there are other options we've come up with” Martle shrugged.
“There is a lot of ground to cover in the empire, there are places that exist there we do not know how to access. Solomon had a number of hidden passages.” Luna offered.” Even we... were not allowed to go into some of them back then.”
“We should prepare to evacuate the civilians at least. “ Kaz offered. “There is a river frozen over that runs to the sea at the edge of the ice shelf. Celestia and I should be able to clear it for ships to come up. I can have a force here for transport in a few hours. That will take strain off your train lines,”
“There are over a million ponies in the empire” Luna stated. “We would need a way to get them past the inclusion zone without the smoke creature attacking them. And if the message from Cadence is correct they are barely able to do more than hide and struggle to recall what they forgot. We cannot be sure we would get even half of them to safety. “
“It would be better than nothing.” Teacup stated. “ Your niece may be a lost cause at this point, but we could at least save as many of those that she is trying to protect as we could.”
“ I trust in Twilight to find a way. That whole family has surprised me countless times.”Celestia sighed
“What concerns me.” Ascepius pointed out. “ Are the rabbits.”
The other gods nodded.
“You know he won't show up until after every things already over right?” Lockheed sighed.
Twilight Sparkle flipped through the spell book rapidly, her eyes scanning over the newly revealed spells and the information contained within.
The Guards were much more concerned with the glowing tendrils of shadow that flowed out of her now green eyes, like smoke.
They were also highly concerned that Rahs sported the same feature, and the points of light at his ears and tail now looked like the moon in eclipse with only the faintest glow of light around the edges of the orbs.
They grew slightly less concerned when Rahs cuffed his sister upside the head and let off a rather lengthy tirade of barks at his sister.
Twilight for her part was ignoring him and focused on the spells in the book.
“I was right there's another set of words between the odd lettering. I've never heard of any of these spells, but I'm not sure I understand what they do...” Twilight frowned stopping at a page and staring at it with a look of disgust on her face.” I take that back... I know what this one does.”
Rahs looked over her shoulder to the spell and growled, the rumbled rattling some of the guards teeth.
“What, what is it?” Comet Trail demanded, having sent some pony to get Shining Armor.
“This is the spell used to turn Princess Luna into Nightmare Moon, all the details weaknesses and explanation for it is here. It turns gods into slaves...... This has to be Solomon's spell book.” Twilight grumbled flipping through more pages before stopping near the end of the book. “ Found it..... oh...... oh wow..... this is evil.....”
“You are not filling me with confidence here Miss Sparkle.” Comet Trail muttered.
“It's the spell around the empire. It's just wow, this is not a simple or nice spell. That barrier Cadence is holding back is only part of it. This thing is purely designed to trap gods and kill gods. Sort of like a crab pot, where the crabs can go in, but they can't get out. If a god comes in the trap springs and starts closing around the god in question until it closes completely and vanishes again taking the empire away with it. Anything caught in the spell at that point would have it's memories blocked and have a basic fear spell implanted so the only thing the victim wants to do is hide, not run, but hunker down in place.”
“That's bad” a guard muttered.
“It gets worse. It creates some sort of focal point under the ice. If that object is disturbed the Empire will return but only until at least one god enters it, then it will try to close again. Any captured gods will have the same effect as anything else caught in it and will forget everything. A new focal point will spawn and the process will repeat.”
“Sounds like the guy had a hard on for taking out gods.” a guard muttered.
“I think I can break it though. It seems that he used an artifact called the Crystal Heart to power the spell the first time. Any subsequent vanishings would be powered by those who were trapped in the empire and afterwards any gods that were trapped would be drained. Eventually everything in the empire would be drained of life to power the trap. And the only way it would never activate again was if the empire never trapped another god. But the power released each time it formed would act like a beacon to the gods, and if enough time passed between appearances every one out side might forget it's a trap.”
“This guy was a dick.”
“So Princess Cadence is food for this trap?” Comet Trail frowned.
“That's what it looks like, though if I can find the Heart I, well Rahs, can break the enchantment on it and disarm the trap. “ Twilight theorized as her brother nodded.
“So we just need to find an artifact of unknown power hidden somewhere in a massive city before the Cadence blacks out from lack of sleep and gets eaten by a magic trap devised by a psychopath. All with only about a hundred guard.” Shining Armor stated as he walked in hearing the last bit. His eyes narrowed as he looked at his little sister and brother. “Okay first off, I'm telling mom you're screwing around with dark forces again. Secondly... what do you need me to do?”
The plan was rather simple. The Element bearers minus Pinkie and Twilight, would keep trying to set up the faire. At the very least the faire should draw enough of the Crystal ponies into one place that the ritual that Moon Dancer's team discovered could take place. Given that Moon dancer found out the Crystal Heart was supposed to be the center of the ritual and what was powered up, if twilight couldn't find it, perhaps the ritual would reveal it.
Moon Dancer's team was going to continue to scour the library for anything else about the fair and any other information they could get about the Empire.
Pinkie Pie was going to keep Cadence awake and comfortable... well awake at least. Shining was threatening to demote the Guard that gave her a flugal horn to full time latrine duty for life. Evidently the coffee Pinkie was making wasn't ready yet.
Shining Armor and a team of the Heart Guard were going to head out into the city and check out various places of note where Solomon might have hidden the Crystal Heart. Slave mines and workshops supposedly dotted all four cardinal directions of the Empire. The rest of the Heart Guard were to search the palace for anything that might be out of the ordinary, checking over rooms that they had skipped, or simply sealed during their time here.
There were a lot of rooms in the palace.
Twilight, still glowy eyed, and Rahs, no longer glowy eyed, along with their assigned Guards, were checking out the throne room and one of the known work labs that had been found before they would head to check out the wine cellars.
However it seemed that they didn't need to go any further than the throne room. Upon entering Twilight let out a shriek and stopped dead staring at the floor as everyone else moved in as if there was nothing there The mares Shriek brought every one about at the ready for an attack only to be confused as she started at the floor.
“Miss Sparkle what is it?” Comet Trail asked looking at the floor in confusion.
“There's stairs here....” Twilight muttered before moving around to one side and starting to fade out as she descended into the floor.
Rahs growled leaping out to grab her tail and landing face first on the ground. A moment later there was a growl and Rahs bit the floor yanking back and seeing to rip reality away revealing a large hole with a spiraling stair case going down. The magic shredded as the Moon dog slurped it up like noodles before rushing down to grab his sister who was still following the stairs.
She yelped as she was grabbed and held up meeting her annoyed brothers gaze as well as the glares of the Guards assigned to her.
“Oh, ummm, secret tunnel?” Twilight smiled sheepishly.
“Another one?” a guard questioned.
[Crystal Palace upper floors.]
“Is this foals a play room?” Green Bean muttered as he and his earth pony partner moved through one of the abandoned rooms.
“Looks it. Whole bunch of toys, lot of chipper painting son the wall and old books. Whole place is covered in dust though.” the second guard Ramshackle replied, the pegasus ruffling his wings.
“No rabbits though. Worrying sign. Should we get back up?” Green bean asked picking up a old teddy bear and looking it over before setting it aside.
“Let's check the doors there first, this isn't the only room we found without any rabbits in it.”Ramshackle responded advancing on the double doors on the far side of the room, there was some sort of plaque on one of the doors with a name. “ Hey bring that light closer, there something on the door.”
“Odd to see a foals room here though.” Green Bean commented moving closer to the door, the lantern on his back lighting up the room.
“Might have been from before Solomon or whoever that guy was that took over. They don't tell the grunts anything.” Ramshackle sighed, his wing grabbing the door handle to open it.
The sudden explosion as the doors burst outward, flung both the Heart Guards through the air. The pair slammed into the wall opposite the door, fur and armor smoking from the explosion as they both crashed to the floor, smoke starting to fill the room as the lantern was smashed against the wall as well.
The earth pony guard winced trying to push himself up from the floor, a glance over to his companion showed the crumpled form of the pegasus was still breathing, though the odd directions a number of his limbs were in and the blood pooling under him was not a good sign.
He turned his head to bellow out for aid when a energy gripped tight around his muzzle, sealing his mouth and yanking his head back towards the door as the sound of heavy hoof falls echoed in the burning chamber.
Out of the doorway a black furred unicorn in metallic breast plate and shin guards strode forth. Smoke billowed around his form, fluttering the red ,white trimmed cloak he wore and blending with his dark mane. His horn curled up a little taking on a red coloration as it neared the tip a black aura around it. Red eyes regarded the armored form of the guard he held with mild interest.
“Not mine.......” the stallion grumbled, his fangs flashing as he spoke. This close the guard could see that it wasn't smoke, but the figures own black mane that flowed and whipped about, much like the alicorn sisters.
Any further thoughts from Green Bean were removed as he was slammed back into the wall and rendered senseless before he was tossed away to crash against a small book shelf.
The figure regarded the fallen earth pony his eyes darting over the room in a mild confusion.
“Familiar...... something else.” The unicorn frowned looking at a wall as if staring through it. He felt something that way.
Stepping out into the hall he left the room burning behind him as the first cries of the other Heart guard sounded as they rushed towards the explosion.
Golden Orb web was on of the first of the heart guard to make it to the burning room. She had thought she saw something headed down the hallway towards the throne room but with all the smoke she couldn't be sure. The 'unicorn' pushed forward into the burning room spotting Green bean and lifting him up to carry him outside to the other Guards before she rushed back into the room.
Looking to the hole in the wall as a pair of pegasi rushed in pushing small rain clouds, she could see it was a foals bedroom, well decorated and thus untouched by the fire. She moved forward glancing over as another unicorn carried Ramshackle out of the room, her hoof crunching on something.
Looking down the mare noted a crystalline plaque mounted on the remains of the detonated door with a name on it.
“Sombra?” the guard questioned, before being called over to help put out the fire.