Chapter 12 Define: Tartarus
The true underworld was anything other than what they had expected; Tartarus was a realm of Gods. Doused in constant moonlight whose source they could only guess at. Rainbow and Twilight looked on in awe, as it was not a place of torture, there was no fire or brimstone, it was a prison. Run by the prisoners, they could do as they wished, and the only impossibility for them was leaving. This was due to the size of the prisoners kept here.
It took a while for Twilight to process what she was seeing; at first it looked just like a mountain, but objects that size do not move, this mountain was moving. Thinking there was something wrong with her eyes, she switched over to her other vision. There was an aura of death was coming off the mountain; it was alive, and it was indeed moving.
“Titans….” She spoke the word without intending.
“Whatans?” Rainbow questioned.
“Titans. These are deities of legend, a primeval race of powerful gods, descendants of Gaia. I never believed they actually existed though. Rainbow… we're in the presence of some of the oldest creatures on the planet. The possibilities here are endless.”
Rainbow stared at Twilight, here they were in the middle of Tartarus, and Twilight was bouncing around like a little filly that just got her cutie mark. “Twilight, you've got to be kidding me.”
Twilight stopped bouncing, for perhaps it was inappropriate to be celebrating this discovery just yet; after all, they were here to find the master of this place, not to study the inhabitants that lived here. ‘Maybe after all this is over.’ No, that was crazy, going through all that again just to study these beings was nuts. Then again, so was coming here solely on the word of a self-proclaimed Spirit of Chaos. So maybe they were both a little crazy.
In the end, she decided not to push the issue.
“You’re right, Rainbow. We have a job here and me acting excited like that is not going to get it done.” Her voice sounded dejected.
“C’mon Twilight, I didn’t mean it like that. I get this is a big deal, but I just want to get this job done; let’s face it, when you start an egghead pursuit it’s hard to get you off of it.” Rainbow gave Twilight her patented cocky grin.
Twilight hated that grin; it was too hard to disagree with anything Rainbow wanted when she looked at her like that. Twilight walked over and pushed Rainbow on her side with her hoof. “Jerk”
“You know you love it, Twi.”
Celestia help her, she really did love it.
The two friends kept moving; wherever this master was, they were sure he would not be by the entrance holding up a banner saying, ‘Looking for me? Here I am!’ Besides, when bucking mountains are walking around the last thing you want to do is stay in one place.
“You know Twi, this place is massive; I think it’s bigger than Equestria.”
“Most likely that portal transported us to a different plane of existence. I doubt we're even in Equestria anymore…. I wonder what sort of principles govern its operation? Can you imagine the practical benefits it would give us if we could figure it out!?”
Living with Twilight as a friend for the past few years, Rainbow had become adept at recognizing when her friend was (yet again) about to jump of the deep end. Thinking quickly, Rainbow said, “Yeah, yeah, enough of that egghead stuff. Hey, I bet with these new wings and all this room I could pull off some amazing moves!” Rainbow willed herself up as fast as she could go.
She went nowhere.
“Hey, what gives!?” Rainbow glared at Twilight after recognizing a familiar purple aura surrounding her tail, holding the cyan pegasus in place.
“Sorry Rainbow, but no flying; not unless you absolutely have to.”
“Rainbow, look at this place. Everything is shades of gray and dark; we are the brightest things here. Our only hope is to stay on the ground and remain hidden. Look at your wings; you normally stick out like a sore hoof in the sky with just your mane and tail. If you took off flying in this place with THOSE wings, every single creature here would spot you in no time.” Twilight and logic were quickly making up after their earlier fights.
“I guess you’re right, but still, after so long without flying it seems like I’m being grounded all over again.”
“I know Rainbow, and I’m sorry. Just keep on the ground for now and try not to show off unless you have to. I really don't want to attract anything's attention.”
Unfortunately for the two, it was much too late for that.
The Titans of old were the first creatures the Gods created. The Titans were their first attempt at creating a lesser race to rule the planet. However, they were granted too much power. There were twelve at first, but each wanted the favor of their parents and sought to be the only one they loved. As such, they began killing each other to prove who was the best. Eventually, Gaia and Tartarus locked the remaining three away to prevent the destruction of their beloved world. Cronus, Hyperion and Crius were the only three that survived.
The three considered themselves Gods, and as with all Gods, they sought worship. Not from one of the lesser beings, but from creatures that were worthy of worshiping them. Beings only they could create. So they did just that, they created creatures of shadow that formed the Cults of Hatred; each would prove their devotion to their god by seeking to destroy any that did not share their belief. These creatures flourished in Tartarus, with the natural shadows providing all the substance that they needed. When two ponies showed up unexpectedly, wars were waged between them to see which of the cults would be able to present the new arrivals to their masters. The Cult of Cronus won.
“Twilight, you never really did explain how you were able to lead us through Hades.”
“It’s these eyes. For some reason they let me see a different spectrum; it’s almost like I can see the ebbs and flow of magic.”
“So they gave you like, magic vision or something.”
“I suppose that’s one name for it.” Now that Twilight thought about it, the name was very accurate.
“What can you see now?” Rainbow asked.
“Let me check.” Twilight paused for a minute. There was a lot to take in, “From our current facing there is a HUGE power coming from the twelve o’clock position, another at the three o’clock position, and there is one more at the seven o’clock position. Fortunately, not one of them is near us. Hang on there’s one more. This one’s powerful, but I don’t think I can lock in on where it’s coming from. Wait… there’s something else, something much closer by. Rainbow, we’re surrounded.”
Rainbow flared out her wings, she moved her head side to side looking for threats.
From the shadows, a being walked forth. This creature was unlike anything the two had seen before; almost resembling King Sombra when he was turned to shadow. However, its face was not that of a pony. The cuts and scars crisscrossed its features, almost like they were self-inflicted. When it spoke, the voiced carried a masculine raspy quality that screamed its disgust at having to be used.
“Sooo… what are two ants doing in the realm of the master?”
Twilight assumed that the ‘master’ was whoever commanded the reaper pony. “We're here to see the master, I made a mistake and seek advice from him on how to fix it, and who may I ask am I addressing?”
The shadow began laughing, “Ha ha ha; you may call me Thanus, if you wish. You are here to seek audience with the master you say? Fools; you will never see Cronus, not until we present you to him as a gift that is.”
At that moment, several hundred shadow creatures revealed themselves all around the two ponies, both on the ground and in the air. Their ambush was a textbook maneuver that left the two with no options of escape.
“Now come quietly my little ponies. I don't want to damage his new playthings. Who knows, if he doesn’t eat you right away, he might just decide to keep you as a toy. Until he pulls you apart that is.”
Rainbow Dash spoke up next, “You know, I'm getting really sick of your shit!”
Twilight glared at her; an escalation of hostilities was hardly called for right now. Rainbow looked back at her. Their conversation took place all at once, without any need for words.
‘C’mon Twi, we can take them.’
‘We can’t afford a fight, Rainbow.’
‘We didn’t pick it, Twi.’
‘That doesn’t mean we need to participate.’
‘Participate? They didn’t give us much choice.’
‘Still, you’re just making it worse; a little diplomacy can do wonders.’
‘Diplomacy? Twi our options are fight, or let them take us as prisoners.’
‘Ok, but still, fighting here can be bad, and there’s no guarantee that we’d win.’
‘Twi, it’s time to own your power; in the past few days I’ve seen you do some amazing things. These fools don’t stand a chance.’
Twilight had decided that she was not going to fight logic anymore, as the two of them had finally made up. Just because she did not agree on this course of action did not mean it would not work, or that it was somehow wrong.
Rainbow looked into the air with that cock-sure smile she was so famous for. Dash glanced at Twilight; Twilight just nodded; Rainbow would take the air. The smile must have been infectious, as Twilight looked at the shadow creature they had been talking to with the same smile and spread her wings wide.
“So, who wants to go first?”
Rainbow took off, straight up; the shadow warriors had centuries of experience fighting each other, and each was a fully qualified veteran of countless wars. To a competent commander, just one of these beings would turn the tides of any war with their speed, knowledge, and capabilities. All of them looked on in shock at the golden winged pegasus that left them in the dust.
“Aw c’mon slowpoke. Is that all you got?” Rainbow jabbed at them, the freedom she felt right now was amazing. True she could not enjoy the wind in her face like she used to, but even without that, the knowledge that she was flying again! Her memories could fill in the rest.
“Get the blue one!”
Rainbow laughed at that; with her speed they did not have a hope in, well Tartarus, of catching her. Of course running would mean leaving Twilight behind, which was never an option. Rainbow twisted and turned through them; seeking to keep her would-be enemies off balance and mad at her; after all, angry enemies were prone to make mistakes. Right now, she needed them mad if her plan would work.
Spears and blades were launched her way, It was almost comical how slow they were going; this was Rainbow bucking Dash they were facing, the fastest flyer in all of Equestria, no the world, no multiple worlds if this place was included. They needed to at least give it some effort if they wanted to hit her! She took the time to poke the bear a little more, “You know, if you aren't going to try, I’ll just take my ball and go home.” That seemed to work, they were seriously pissed now.
Her golden wings shone brighter as she flew around the mob of attackers; they left a physical trail behind her, trapping the group in an impenetrable bubble of shining light. Rainbow had figured that beings made of shadow would be unable to cross a light source. She was half right. They were unable to cross the trail she left behind, but not because of the light. It was due to the magic energy radiating from her wings. Either way, it got the job done. With the bubble complete and holding for another few seconds, Rainbow flew straight into the middle, achieving the speeds necessary for a double sonic rainboom right in the center of the mass.
The effect was devastating; the magic light shockwave pushed the creatures to the edge of the bubble, as they were unable to break out, most were destroyed instantly.
When it was over, Rainbow paused to examine her work. The plan went off without a hitch. She did not yet know what to call this move, but she could not wait to show it off when they got back.
When the bubble finally faded, roughly two thirds of the shadow creatures were destroyed or taken out of the fight. “You guys are a little tougher then you look. Oh well, I'll just have to step it up another notch."
Twilight had to admit; they could easily take these guys. Twilight was concerned about fighting back, but watching Rainbow work quickly removed that doubt, with Twilight finally releasing a little of what she had spent so long holding back, the smile never left her face.
Twilight had given responsibility of the skies to Rainbow; roughly half of the shadow creatures had taken off after her. ‘That’s fine, after all this time I'm sure Rainbow has some excess energy to burn off.’ The group around Twilight approached cautiously, unsure as to why the alicorn did not also take flight. She sensed their hesitation and quickly figured out why. “C’mon you guys, I promise I’ll keep my wings behind my back the whole time.”
Twilight blasted the foul mouth swine from the face of existence, before realizing that she might have put just a little too much power into it. The beam continued on, forever.
“We can play guys, but I’d watch what you say. I can’t fully control this power yet.”
They seemed hesitant to continue; as if that one showing of power was unlike any other they had seen in their many lifetimes of battle.
Finally, Thanus gave them back their conviction. “She can’t possibly do such an attack again! Attack from all sides, and let us earn the favor of Cronus!
“For Cronus!” the group replied.
Twilight could not help but notice that even their leader had watched his tone. ‘At least they're quick learners.’ Twilight smiled as the group attacked as one.
Twilight knew all she needed to do was put up a shield and these beings would never be able to touch her, but that would not solve the problem. If anything they would give up on her and go after Rainbow, which was completely unacceptable. As such, she chose instead to test herself on this. There was no real worry about losing, she was immortal, and one glance to the sky showed her that Rainbow was having fun with her half.
Twilight opened herself fully to the magic plane. Seeing with her other sight was like watching the whole thing in slow motion; their actions, emotions, and hate. All of it gave away every movement they would make. Twilight’s mind ran through all the calculations without effort. A spear at thirty six degrees, with a flame breath ten milliseconds after, then a claw reaching for her flank at fifty eight degrees. She instantly planned out every move she would make ten seconds before it had to be made.
Watching her was like watching a ballerina in action. Not knowing any better, a viewer would swear that the whole fight looked choreographed to ensure that Twilight was always right where she needed to be to so that absolutely no harm would come to her.
An energy blast here, a shield there, a riposte there, she moved effortlessly through the melee, never stopping, and never slowing down. None of her enemies could even touch her.
Thanus was infuriated; this little purple pony with white eyes was making his soldiers out to be fools! He had underestimated them, assuming these two ponies were just a random whim of fate that was delivered to his lap. No, these were worthy adversaries that deserved his respect.
It was not until the explosion lit up the sky that Thanus knew he needed the rest of his troops. Looking up, the blue one with the golden wings had corralled the rest of his troop in a bubble and detonated some kind of bomb in the center. It was unlike anything he had seen before. He needed to get away and assemble the full army for this pair. When these two were brought before Cronus, the glory would be all his. Fortunately, they were too busy defeating all his men to notice that their leader had escaped.
It did not take long for the battle to end; soon the bodies of the fallen littered the ground, and Rainbow rejoined Twilight.
“Was all that really necessary, Rainbow?”
“What, you wanted me to take care of the ones in the air so I did.”
“Yes, but like I said earlier, you stick out. I'm sure by now we have the attention of every being in eyesight of this location. However, ignoring everything else, that was an impressive sonic rainbomb.”
Rainbow was a little taken back at that, as much as she liked naming her own moves, The sonic rainbomb had a nice ring to it. Rainbow would thank Twilight later for the name; right now, they needed to get moving.
“Then quit yapping and let’s get moving.”
“No need to go anywhere little ponies, we're not through yet.”
They both turned to look at Thanus; he was up on the ridge with an army behind him, easily several thousand strong.
The two looked at each other. Rainbow spoke first.
“Ready for round two?”
Twilight thought about this before replying,
“Hmm… Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle vs. an army. Seems a little unfair, maybe you should sit this one out, Rainbow?”
“Nah… let’s make it a contest, whoever takes out the most wins!”
“You're on, featherbrain!”
“Oh, and Twilight, no holding back this time. I want to win but I want to win with you at your best!”
Twilight smiled at that; this time, she would not hold anything back. Purple energy surrounded her body as her wings spread out, each feather radiating magical light.
“You should be careful what you wish for Rainbow, ‘cause you’re about to get it.”
“Like I’m worried about losing to an egghead.”
The collateral damage Tartarus suffered would never heal; completely new caverns were formed, ones that made Ghastly Gorge looked like an ant trail. It was little wonder that the battle caught the attention of Cronus, who began the trek over to see what was occurring in his realm.