Twilight gets a Puppy
The Crescent Empire.
Episode 2, Part 4
[Crystal palace, dungeons.]
“This place is creeping me out” Iron Plate muttered. The charcoal colored earth pony stallion strode along the dark hallway. His copper and coral colored armor marking him as one of Cadence's Heart Guard.
Water dripped somewhere, echoing across the nearly black and mold covered stone. Piles of debris and old rusted chains lay heaped along the floors, some times with larger masses of old bones and rotted clothing. Cells lined one wall, thick steel doors with only small grates that allowed viewing inside.
“You're telling me.” Kulbit, pegasus mare in the same sort of armor uttered. The slate colored pegasus floated over the floor, the lantern she carried illuminating the mess of the hall.
“Cut the chatter you two, we need to keep our eyes and ears open. There's a lot riding on finding that crystal heart thing. “ A orange unicorn mare ahead of the other three snapped. Her armor was the same as theirs, though the rank pips on Ghost Pepper's armor marked her as a sergeant. “We'll clear the hall first then come back and check the cells.”
“There must be a hundred of them sarge.” Iron Plate grumbled. “Most of them look like they saw heavy use too. What the buck went on in this place?”
“Nothing good.”Kulbit added.
“Focus.” Ghost Pepper ordered.
“Well, well, what is this? After all this time am I finally getting a conjugal visit?” a male voice called out.
“Really? I would say you disgust me, but you are far beyond that flirting with our captors.” another voice snapped.
“You two need to be silent and listen. They are not of Sombra's ilk.” a third female voice stated.
“Oh, I knew that. They sound way to pretty to be one of those guys. “the first voice chimed up again. “Well two of them do. So what are your names sweethearts?”
Ghost Pepper moved closer to the cells the voices were coming from, her magic lifting up the metal flap to peer in.
Staring back at her was a large form, with two glimmering green gemstones for eyes.
The faire was pandemonium. The appearance of the dragon had the crystal ponies running around in a screaming panic, a stampeding herd that had no regard for any one they trampled or smashed into in their desperate attempt to get away from the Dreadnought's notice.
Not that it mattered.
Black and green fire ripped through the city center setting the very stone of the roads ablaze and igniting buildings, blocking off avenues of retreat and forcing even more crystal ponies out of their homes lest they succumb to the inferno. What had been hundreds of crystal ponies poking around the fair soon became thousands, all milling and being herded by the fiery dragons breath.
Some escaped the circle of fire that was being made only to find themselves trapped against the much smaller barrier that was pushing in, barely out of the fire on the other side of the green and black ring of death. If the shield faltered again, this lot would be pushed into the flames as the barrier constricted.
The Dreadnought swirled around the ponies on the palace side of his firewall, the black eyes looking down at them as they milled about trying to take shelter any where they could.
Rarity and Fluttershy were taking cover in Rarity's hat stall. Rarity was shouting out at any crystal pony nearby to run towards the palace. Fluttershy was hiding under the work table.
Applejack and Rainbow Dash were trying to control the herd to force them towards the palace itself, though there were far too many crystal ponies who were not listening and were running every where , trampling the faire grounds in a blind panic.
Pegasi Guards were darting over the crowds grabbing any ponies that fell and bringing them to a more secure location.
Unicorns and earth ponies with ranged weapons fired at the beast, the magic and bolts glancing off it. Shields were raised but simple exhalation of fiery breath shattered them and infected the casters with black crystals.
The Pegasi were about to launch themselves at the creature to drive it away from the civilians, or die trying when another shield formed in front of it.
This shield was far to thin to block anything and as the guards and terror stricken ponies watched, it narrowed more and slashed at the Dreadnought.
The monsters eyes widened and it rolled to the side, the spell blade dragging over it's scales ripping off a number of the metal plates that fell with a crash into the burning buildings.
The creature roared more in rage than pain as it's gaze whipped around to a lone white unicorn with a blue mane standing on the palace balcony over looking the square. A flash of light and the unicorn was now in the open field to the west of the palace staring up at the Dreadnought as it winged around.
Shining Armor had seen what was going on, what the creature was doing as he ran up.
He wasn't sure how he was able to teleport, he wasn't sure where the energy he was using was coming from, but he felt he should thank his brother if he survived this.
He was damn sure going to make sure they survived this.
It had been a long time since he felt this mad at something. Most monsters he had fought in the six hundred and sixty sixth division had been hungry or territorial. Easy enough to drive off. Most of them he almost felt sorry for as ponies had encroached on their old hunting grounds leaving them little choice if they wanted to survive.
This thing was herding ponies, driving them in a direction. It wasn't out of hunger or territory, but amusement.
He wasn't mad. He was pissed.
The Dreadnought stared down at the creature that had actually injured it. While the wound was barely a trifle, that made this one more a threat than any of the others.
The Dreadnought roared in challenge to the lone guard.
Shining Armor lifted his left fore leg and waved his hoof towards himself, beckoning the monster to bring it.
[ Crystal Library]
Screams came from the researchers as the beast broke free of the black crystal encasing it. The buffalo was massive, towering over even the Chief Spike saw when he went to Appleloosa.
The fur of it was black, though white at the roots as if this was some odd dye job. The creature's onyx black eyes shifted over the group and as it moved Spike took note that it's hooves were shod in some kind of metal, and it was covered in armor plate of the same.
Spike's eyes widened as he noticed the plate moved when the buffalo did, he wasn't wearing armor, plates were bolted on to him as was the steel shodding and the metal horn extenders that were sharpened into blades.
“Umm hello?” Sunburst asked hopefully. “Err how do you do I'm Sunburst. Did you know you were trapped there for a while, it's been quite a long time outside the Crystal Empire... Are you feeling alright? Do you need help?”
The buffalo stared at the unicorn before him, his gaze shifting to the collection of armed guards, taking special note of all the Nox-cal and particularly Lodestone who moved up to push Spike back.
“Intruders and traitors.” The buffalo stated, his voice rumbling like a train at full steam who's boiler was about to explode. “The master bade me to guard this place. The penalty for trespassing here is death.”
“Oh... so it seems you're doing alright then.....” Sunburst frowned. “Pity.”
[Upper parts of the Crystal palace.]
Rahs was on edge, there was magic here, a lot of it. He could smell it in the air, taste it with every breath. It was a horrible blend of flavors, bitter black coffee, hints of licorice, and a overwhelming taste of strawberry. Not natural strawberry either, but the super sweet type like those hard candies Twilight always said left a film on her tongue. There was also the scent of smoke from burning wood, though that was faint.
Outside the hole in the wall they had found a staircase that led upward on what seemed to be the outside of the palace. It only took one of the guards bouncing off of the illusion of open air to show it was in fact a wall. That no clouds or anything else were moving in the scene as they walked up the stairs gave the impression that it was simply an illusionary image of the empire spread out below them.
Rahs took a few bites of it and found it tasted like old mints.
Of course after a few minutes of climbing Twilight got annoyed at the speed and cast a spell, which brought a great deal of cursing from Comet Trail.
Rahs added to the swearing as gravity suddenly reversed for him and his sister and where she was expecting it, he landed hard on his back and immediately started sliding up the ceiling behind her.
The guards quickly took wing and followed, though at a slower pace along the narrow stair well.
As the siblings made it to the top of the stairs Twilight cut the spell and and dropped down onto the upper platform skidding across the stone.
Rahs thankfully was expecting it by that point and whirled around to land on his feet, lashing out to grab his sister by the tail and yank her back from entering the door on the stone landing.
“What do you mean slow down? We're almost there?”
“Of course I'm in a rush, everyone is counting on me to...”
“BORK!” Rahs snapped cutting her off and bent over to glare at his sister eye to glowing black eye.
“Those have been acceptable risks...”
“They turned out fine in the...”
He growled louder.
“You were the one who walked in there and ate the spells around the book without letting me even try to see what they did!”
“Bark.” Rahs stated crossing his arms.
“Alright fine, it's magic and that's sort of what you do, but still... fine.... I'll try to be more careful.” Twilight sighed looking over as the Guards started to catch up. “But I'd rather just be risking me, not them too. I'm not some sort of princess they're swore to protect. How many have already been injured because they came with us... and that Kirin nearly died...”
Rahs glanced over at the guards and let out a sigh as he uncrossed his arms nodding in understanding.
“Miss Sparkle..” Comet Trail snapped glaring at the purple unicorn.
“I get it. I get it. Sorry, it's just we have a time limit and I'm not willing to lose my sister in law after I barely welcomed her to the family, or let my brother become a widow on what was supposed to be his honeymoon.” Twilight sighed. “I've got a great deal of energy from all the magic Rahs has been eating I need to burn off as well. But this is it. We're at the top, either the Heart is in here or this has been a wild goose chase.”
“I've chased wild geese before. Those suckers are mean.” Swift Shot offered, the pegasus guard nodding sagely as the other four stared at him.
“Annnnnnyway, there's no spells on the door.” Twilight added though Rahs was the one to open it and step through first.
The chamber they entered was larger than the palace throne room.
Once the small group entered they all noticed different things.
Starscream the Guard noticed that the room was open to the air and had little more than some railing around it with a crystalline covering over the top, like some ridiculous gazebo.
Swiftshot noticed that there was a great deal of smoke in the air and a distant roar.
Twilight Sparkle noticed the floating Crystal Heart spinning slowly over a pedestal in the center of the room.
Comet Trail noticed the collection of well gnawed crystal bones that lay littered and broken around the room including some obvious wing bones and skulls with horns.
Rahs took note of the smell of death in the room and the large hulking creature that rose up from a pile of bones shaking them off as it clamored to it's feet.
The creature’s fur was a deep brick red. It had a canine shape, with it's front limbs built differently with longer, retractable claws on the ends of fingers for manipulation and attacking. It's head was more cat-like than canine, with a longer muzzle, and much longer ears that were currently plastered to it's head. It had red eyes with black sclera that were slitted like a cat’s, wide and staring. Its tail whipped wildly behind it, the tail being whip like, rather than the club tails Diamond Dogs had. It had a rougher mane of hair that ran down its head from between its ears, along the back of its neck, and between its shoulders like a short mane.
The most prominent thing about it, aside from the slowly widening grin that displayed it's sharp teeth, was at the end of its whip like tail, as well as the points of each long ear, there sat a small free floating globe of light. The light it shed was dim and barely perceivable in the well-lit chamber, though black clouds seemed to flicker and pass over the silvery orbs.
The creature growled, drool falling from it's maw as it regarded those that had come into it's den.
“Witch wolf.” Rahs said in rapidly rising panic as the creature lunged at them.