Ch. 45 “The Avalanche Ceases” part 1
Crystal Caves, Luna’s prison chamber –
It was so incredibly difficult. Everything Sombra was before his alteration screamed at him to leave. The other simultaneous effect left him overwhelmed, and intoxicated with the sensation. He couldn’t find the will power necessary to move his hooves and escape, or concentrate and teleport out of there. The temptation to remain and inhale the emotionally charged air was too much. The taste he had back in the Crystal Empire paled in comparison to the potency he felt here.
The giant changeling nearby continued to make long drawn out yawns, and followed with particularly exuberant exhales. While she glanced between Sombra and Luna she held an innocent little smile, which was so shamelessly guilty.
At this point the crystal king couldn’t help but breathe rigorously and deeply through his nostrils, the air in the chamber was thick and hazy, and each time he drew breath a jolt of sensation shot through him, and caused his entire body to shiver, followed by an over-stimulated lull in his eyes.
One quick look at Luna revealed she was being affected by the air too. Her pupils had dilated massively, and she appeared to focus on nothing in particular now, she just stared out into the universe with eyes that could swallow galaxies in their inky abyss.
“Well, well, neither of you seem to mind my company. Oh, and Sombra, you’re starting to drool.”
Crone reached out a hoof to wipe, but she was stopped by the crystal king’s own hoof. The action surprised her a little, and when she peered at his face, she found his expression strained. Every part of his body trembled fiercely, and somehow, through force of a hidden reserve of will, Sombra managed to glare daggers at Crone.
Despite the overwhelming euphoria that polluted the air. His voice came out as a thick methodical growl, all the while his brow scrunched and un-scrunched in an almost comical manner.
“I… I… what?”
She replied with high levels of snark.
Clearly her influence had taken effect, if not fully realized yet. A few more puffs of the lovey-dovey nonsense should push him over the edge.
The king quickly devolved into an unregal state as he continued to drool, a little more fiercely, and his pupils dilated to a rather disturbing degree. She backed off and left the king to his struggles.
It was too much to restrain, and Crone cracked a smile, a genuine smile that evolved into a saucy smirk. She leaned further back into the crystal cushion chair, and added a few more puffs of love to the air. A small amount of time was all that was left, and things should go her way.
As she tapped her front hooves together, and watched her emotionally manipulated victims sink further into the euphoria. The rather relaxed atmosphere was rudely interrupted by a loud cough.
It was a deep throaty cough that sounded rather painful, and the snarky smirk on Crone’s face drooped a little, she looked at the crystal king, who started to wretch.
“What, you’re not allergic to love are you? That would be absurd…”
“I think -cough- a part of me just died.”
The grey stallion’s pupils shrank to pinpricks and he placed a hoof over his chest, and fell to his knees. He continued to hack, cough and spasm. The drool that slathered out his mouth began to turn red.
Crone’s smirk dropped and her brow furrowed, one of her hooves covered her mouth as she looked on with scrutiny, and uncertainty. A deluded tone piped up from the cot.
“Heh, getting a little love sick there?”
Luna looked at the grey pony, and tried to narrow her eyes into focus… without much success. When she couldn’t concentrate on the dying king she flicked her snout towards the changeling in a lazy swing.
“Well, looks like you did him in. Who knew, HEH, blast him with magic and he comes back, but force a little love in that black heart and-”
Luna paused to make an explosive gesture with her hooves and wings, then flopped over onto her back as she stared off into the universe again, limp as a noodle. The changeling was not as relaxed however.
“I didn’t mean to kill him! That wasn’t the plan!”
Crone was on her hooves now, and nervously trotted around the chamber. She kept her attention on the grey stallion, who continued to cough out gobbets of blood, which had… chunky bits in it.
Her snout wrinkled in disgusted fascination as she watched, unprepared for this particular scenario. She couldn’t really do anything here if she wanted to. Love usually had a healing effect on most creatures, atleast it did in the memories and experiences that Crone could remember. So what was this?
After a particularly loud deathly cough, Sombra proceeded to vomit all over the crystalline floor. Dark crimson liquid blended with the ruby crystal surface and made for a rather ghastly scene. There was a notable slopping noise as something a little more solid hit the floor. Immediately afterward Sombra fell onto his side and wheezed out weak breaths. The coughs had finally stopped.
Crone’s eyes searched over the bloody mess, and found the item that made the sloppy noise, it was in the dead center of it all. It appeared to be some kind of black mass, one that looked as if it was made of oil and ink. She watched with curious horror as the sludge, which possessed many similarities to a dissolving heart, melted away. Luna’s delirious voice bubbled away in the background.
“Heh, heh, HEH, who knew… heh, his heart was black as night, heh, after all. GUESS YOU WERE RIGHT CELESTIA! YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO BE RIGHT!”
Crone ignored the princess’s shouted rambles and approached the prostrate king. The last bits of the dark organ dissolved into oblivion, and she prodded the grey stallion with a hoof. He grunted and shifted rather pathetically, and was otherwise unresponsive.
The changeling’s face turned to the mess on the floor, and her snout scrunched with disapproval. The smell of blood had filled the room and was a real kill-joy to the mood. A slight scuffle on the floor caused her ear to twitch towards the noise, but it didn’t draw her full attention. The king still lived apparently, though amount of fluid on the floor said he should be dead.
A wraith like whisper infiltrated it’s way to Crone’s ear, and in response her head swiveled on her long neck. Before she processed just what this meant, she was bodily tackled head over hooves backward.
A very insane Sombra attempted to pin down the royal changeling, bloodshot didn’t even begin to describe how messy his eyes looked. Coagulated saliva still drooled out of his snarled and fang bared mouth.
Taken by surprise, Crone didn’t land an effective blow to dissuade her aggressor. She didn’t expect the follow up either, and she screeched as the crystal king snapped his jaws over her muzzle. He proceeded to suck up all the air she exhaled.
Before he could attempt to draw another breath, Crone managed to get a hoof between them and launched him across the room, where he collided with the wall and slumped. When her muzzle was free from the king’s clasp she took in a greedy breath, and growled furiously.
“You hellion! You! YOU!”
There were a few light puncture marks on the top of her nose and under her chin, and they stung.
Luna rolled on her cot and laughed riotously. Meanwhile the king mumbled a few words in his slumped state.
“Me… me, yes me.”
The giant changeling wasted no time to cross the room and pin the stallion against the wall, she raised her other hoof, ready to strike.
“You’re not dead, so by all foul graces what was that!”
The crushing pressure against Sombra’s chest managed to rouse him a little, and he wheezed.
“Me, me, yes me.”
“That’s not an answer!”
Crone picked him up and shook like a ragdoll, then gave him a slap with the back of her hoof for good measure. Both of Sombra’s fore hooves were raised defensively, and he groaned.
“Oh, why are you so cruel mistress?”
Luna continued to heave and holler her amusement. Crone let out a heavy sigh of annoyance, and turned on the blue alicorn.
“Shut it you.”
To emphasize her displeasure she tossed the crystal king at the night princess, who squawked when messy grey stallion tumbled all over the cot. The giant changeling approached the flail of bodies, and flipped the cot upside down, which caused several surprised grunts from the two tangled equines.
The cot was then tossed to the side, and Crone used her large frame to simply sit on top of them. Both of her victims squirmed, but didn’t try too hard to escape, their wriggles were half-hearted at best. The king and the princess shared the feature of absurdly large pupils at the moment.
“Why aren’t you using, heh, magic?”
Crone didn’t expect the question, but her expression hardened as she processed it. She growled back at the princess.
“Do I need to?”
“Isn’t wrestling, heh, prisoners beneath you? That’s what –heh- minions are for… If you’re, heh, anything like your sister I’d think-”
“I do what I wish! This, uh… happens to be what I wish!”
“Ok, ok, heh, calm down queeny.”
The changeling felt a tap on one of her legs, and she looked over to see Sombra poke her. When he had her attention he pointed to his open mouth with his other hoof. This successfully gained Crone’s vehemence.
“You’re not getting anything ‘more’ until you start to talk.”
With a disgusted scowl Crone wiped some slimy residue off of her face.
“Tell me where the royal guard, and other prisoners are.”
“I don’t remember.”
“Don’t play games with me Sombra…”
“But this has been so much fun to play.”
“Really? Was all that hacking earlier fun? What was that shard you coughed up? I haven’t seen any creature bleed from inhaling love, so what’s wrong with you?”
The last question pricked some lucidity into the king, and he winced and contorted his face in pain, as if he had been struck again. Crone noticed this, and she drove the point.
“What’s wrong with you Sombra!”
“I said what’s wrong with you!”
Sombra roared, and in a moment, the literal sweetness in the air couldn’t fix the somber mood swing. Luna even stopped her delirious chuckles, and went stiff. Crone pressed her words as much as she pressed her weight.
“Answer the sodding question.”
The crystal king refused to look at her, and struggled fiercely to escape. His attempt to get away was so vigorous that the changeling had to put her full attention into his restraint.
“What’s the king of shadows so afraid of? What’s the master of fear avoiding? HUH! WHAT IS WRONG WITH Y-”
Despite the fierceness of Crone’s and Sombra’s exchange, it was drowned out by the royal Canterlot voice. Both of them stopped their struggle and covered their ears, for the small chamber reverberated the shout to dangerous effect.
When the painful sound died down, both Crone and Sombra rounded their stunned gazes to the only other figure in the room. Princess Luna was curled in a ball with her face covered. Quiet sniffles emitted from the dark blue ball. Since the changeling and stallion could in fact, hear the sniffles, they were glad they weren’t deaf. Sombra still gave an irritated scratch to one of his ears, there was a nasty ringing sensation in it.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I’m sss-ssorr-rry…”
For a few moments Crone just stared at the mumbly Luna, and then the changeling heard a sniffle right underneath her. In a flash her eyes locked back down onto Sombra, and he glared back up at her as their gazes met. His lips pursed before he looked away. His eyes clearly said ‘you’re not getting any tears from me’. Meanwhile Luna’s sobs and broken voice continued to speak, mostly to herself.
“It was so cold, ss-so very cold Tia. I-I haven’t told you yet, but… I, I…”
Luna un-curled slightly, so one eye could peer out. That eye was puffy, and mostly shut, but it stared at Crone with an unfocused gaze. The princess shivered as her mind struggled to recall the traumatic events of the past, and she hugged herself tightly.
“N-now I finally f-feel w-warm. T-Tia, and you’re not here… why? W-why?”
The duplicate queen studied the princess carefully, and her mouth fell into a slant.
“Does little Luna not feel loved? Oh please, Celestia’s love is full of affection for you.”
“It’s as if you ponies need to get slapped in the face to recongnize genuine emotions… -sigh- You are obviously blind with guilt, and refuse to recognize how much she actually cares.”
“S-she doesn’t h-hate me? B-but I, I-”
“What do you feel right now?”
“That’s how Celestia feels towards you. I know, I’ve tasted it.”
“She just loves everypony else…”
“You wha- grr stubborn fool. Changelings can tell who the love was for…”
Crone shifted off of Sombra and stomped over to Luna, she put her hoof under the princess’s chin, and forced eye contact.
“I don’t even know why I’m telling you this, perhaps I just can’t stand to see such idiocy. I should actually be wishing you-”
She let Luna’s face drop roughly on the floor as she turned about, and as she expected, Sombra tried to sneak off at the opportunity. Like cat and mouse, she pounced. When she had him pinned again she growled into his ear.
“You’re still going to give me answers, pony.”
“I’m not a pony!”
“Better, but more.”
The grey stallion stared up at her with bloody eyes and sneered. He was substantially more lucid at this point.
“I wasn’t born.”
“These short ambiguous phrases are getting really annoying.”
“So are your hooves in my ribs.”
Crone shifted a little.
“I was created, you just destroyed my umbral side a moment ago…”
“That’s general knowledge, I don’t need to explain.”
“I know what an umbra is, but how can you be part one?”
“I won’t say more. Go ahead and put me in one of your green love sacs. I guarantee you won’t get back more than what’s been put in. Or you can give me more… It seems that’s what you and your sister are good at.”
He gave a rather austere smile, and Crone flared up with irritation. She put cap on it quickly as another idea bloomed.
“If that’s what you really want… I suppose we could see how much it takes to really loosen your lips. Should hurt less without an umbra in your chest huh?”
With her front hooves she pried Sombra’s mouth open wide and exhaled ludicrous emotional content down his throat. He struggled, tried to hold his breath, but couldn’t stay the onslaught. After the first inhale, he took the rest without complain, and ate it up greedily. The bloodshot condition of his eyes was remedied as well as any bruises he had sustained.
After so long Crone stopped, and appraised her handiwork. Sombra twitched and remained otherwise unresponsive. His eyes had devolved into incomprehensible saucers.
Off to the side Luna still blubbered to herself, and this annoyed Crone.
And Crone blasted her in the face with love too. This successfully stopped the blubbers, and Luna now cooed with a dopey smile.
With an exhausted sigh, Crone shot a quick mental message to the head drone.
Come find me.
After the message was sent she fell back on her rump and sagged her shoulders. The telepathic message gave her a headache, but she was more concerned with other matters, and she muttered her complaint aloud.
“Love from a thousand ponies, spent like this…”
As if to add to the indignation, her stomach growled loudly, and she placed hoof over her upset stomach. It panged with hunger, but she didn’t dare take from the saturated creatures around her. They were subdued at the moment, and she could feast once she returned to Canterlot’s surface. Yes, the first pony she came in contact with would be her meal. She rubbed her hooves together in anticipation.
It was a short amount of time before Colony and an entourage of changelings navigated their way through the old mines. They actually felt rather at home navigating the subterranean surface.
A large crimson crystal archway was the obvious indicator that they had reached their destination. They barely set their hooves on the ground when Colony saw a tall royal changeling right under the archway.
Each of Crone’s forelegs was clasped around a smaller equine, and there was a broad smile over the royal’s muzzle.
“You can tell Chrysalis our plan was a success.”
She presented Luna and Sombra between her hooves, and proffered them to the group of changelings.
“I want them restrained, but not cocooned. Chrysalis will want to speak with them later.”
“Very well my uh…”
“Queen Crone is fine.”
“Queen Crone, I will see your wishes fulfilled.”
Colony shook her head as something was stuck on her nose. Even though she had received the news last night that the queen’s ‘long lost sister’ had been found, it was all exceedingly strange. Falling on routine gave her more time to think.
After the princess and king were dropped at Colony’s hooves, Crone took off and buzzed away down the caves.
Blueblood lounged in the garden grounds of his own estate. He had a few fancy dishes set ontop of a stylish table, a servant colt stood attentively nearby.
His blue magical aura lifted a slice of sandwich off one of the plates and he took a dainty bite. After he chewed it with critical astuteness his pleasant disposition dropped. The nearby servant noticed and nervously inquired.
“Is it not to your liking prince?”
Blueblood brought a napkin to his face, and spit out the bite of sandwich, before he turned and answered the colt.
“You’re new here, Prim Proper is it?”
“Then here’s something you need to understand, and something my chef has apparently forgotten. I do not like food. I love it, if I don’t love it, I don’t swallow. Now, if you would you be so kind, please inform Sophistication she has one more chance to get it right. Or I will be looking for other connoisseurs.”
“Then off with you.”
Prim scampered off towards the mansion to follow his master’s orders. Meanwhile Blueblood picked up the news paper and opened it. When he saw the front cover, and who it was, he immediately threw it back down in frustration.
“Reject me will you… Own me do you… Threaten insolence with damnation can you… I bet you’ve never had such a flattering offer given to your natural face… you fetching barbarian…”
“Some pony sounds bitter.”
Blueblood froze in place and the hair down his neck prickled up. He didn’t dare turn around, for he recognized that voice, having been in close proximity a few occasions before. However, he didn’t have to turn around for the speaker to walk into view. She did that all by herself.
A giant changeling rounded the corner of his vision until she was infront, he looked up at her with agitation, but when he observed the small details something seemed off. So he picked up the news paper again, and tried to make a side by side comparison of what he saw.
“What are you doing? Never mind, I have something more important in mind.”
“Huh, how unsavory.”
“I’m hungry simpleton.”
“I’m sorry, but who are you then exactly.”
“I am queen Crone, sister to the queen. Now just stay put pony.”
The alabaster stallion put a hoof to his chin in thought.
“Don’t ask what you’re thinking Blueblood...”
She opened her mouth close to his face and started to inhale. He shouted and raised a hoof before she really got into it.
“I’m still waiting for my lunch.”
“Guh, you know what, I have places to be, my lunch will be on the run.”
Before he could utter another word of protest she seized him and threw him over her back, then trotted down the road towards Fancy’s house. When he tried to struggle she hissed at him.
“Don’t move or I’ll drain every wisp out of you.”