• Published 9th Feb 2012
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Upheaval: Breaking Point - Visiden Visidane

A desperate war, old enemies returning and past mistakes come together to alter Equestria forever.

  • ...

A Mother's Concern

Upheaval: Breaking Point

Chapter 38: A Mother's Concern

"Applejack! Applejack!"

"Don't die, Applejack!"

"This is my fault…this is my fault!"

The noise was starting to irk Applejack. What was going on? Can't a pony get some sleep without all this bawling and screaming? She had half a mind to get up, and give them a piece of her mind. The other half just wanted to turn over, and go back to sleep. She was so tired. More tired than she had ever been in all her life. Why did Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash pick this time for sobbing, and wailing? Even Twilight was going at it.

"Don't just stand there crying, filly! Get me my sutures!"

That was the grouchy doctor that Fluttershy served under. Redbrand was it? What was he doing here? Shouldn't he be in a medical ward helping injured ponies?

"Everypony, we need to stand aside, and let the medics work."

Vanguard Clash. There was no mistaking that growl of a voice. Hearing him use it so softly felt...ticklish. It was clearly a voice made for shouting battle cries, not singing lullabies. For all its roughness, he did use it quite well when he tried to comfort her while they were out in the plains, and when he was trying to assure her in that alley. Right now, she was just glad that somepony was going to clear the place, and give her some peace and quiet.

"Stay with us, Applejack," Vanguard said quietly. "Remember the ones you still have back home."

The thought of her family jerked Applejack awake. The harvest should be over by now. How were they doing? It was so hard to open her eyes. The voices around her muffled, then faded out. 'Okay, now this is getting weird.' She was sure that she had opened her eyes, but why was everything so dark?

When all the voices had completely faded away, the darkness finally receded. From being surrounded by blackness, Applejack was now surrounded by…gray. With a snort of frustration, she walked forward. Wait...when did she stand up? Was she even lying down in the first place? What was going on? She extended her forelegs just to make sure that they were there and doing what she wanted them to do.

'This must be a dream,' she thought. She didn't remember going to bed, though. Why was she asleep? What was the last thing she was doing? There was a battle: wolven coming at her from all sides, her dodging claws and fangs while trying desperately to get somewhere. There was giant white wolven, its jaws looming in front of her. She was holding back those frightful jaws, then looking to her side in time to see a claw come at her. Beyond that moment, there was nothing. She looked around her carefully. The grayness felt like some sort of fog. She could barely see her hoof in front of her face. Wherever she was, she was definitely lost.


Was that somepony singing? Finally, something focus on. Applejack stumbled through the thick fog to follow it. The ground was soft yet firm under her hooves, but it certainly didn't feel like earth, and her steps made no sounds.

The faint figure of…something appeared at a distance. It looked like some sort of large, serpentine creature with oddly-mismatched arms and legs. As she approached, the mismatched horns, the goat-like head, and the large buck tooth, came to view. "Discord!" she exclaimed. She stood low, and at the ready, already trying to gauge her chances against the Spirit of Chaos.

Discord, on the other hoof, didn't even seem to notice her. He was walking around, arching his back so low that his head was almost parallel to his ankles. "How low can you go? How low can you go?" he was chanting to himself. When he noticed Applejack, he straightened up with a wry smile. "You know, this would be so much more fun if there was actually a stick I can go under. You don't have a stick with you, do you?"

"What are you doing here?" Applejack asked. She pointed an accusing hoof at him. "Did you do this? Where am I?"

Discord waved an eagle claw, and a paw in front of him."I haven't done anything!" he replied. "In case you haven't noticed, stone statues don't get to do anything except sit pretty in somepony's garden."

Applejack paused, then frowned at the bad joke. "What are you talking about? You're not a stone statue!"

"My body is-- Wait, you have no idea what's happened to you, do you?"

"No," Applejack replied. Something was wrong here. Discord seemed too…grounded. She recognized him, but she couldn't feel any sort of threat coming from him.

"Well then," Discord said. He did a mock bow, and gestured to the vast grayness behind him. "Welcome to Vestibulum! The space between worlds, and the most boring place in all of…well, the most boring place ever. Honestly, if Dominus would just grant me authority over this place, I'd turn it into something wonderful for you almost-dead ponies. But no! He's fine with this eternity of grayness."

"Almost dead?" Applejack asked. She reared up, and felt around her body. "What are you talking about? I'm fine!"

"You're not fine if you're here," Discord replied. He floated towards Applejack, and encircled her. "How did you end up here anyway? Bucking accident? Sheep rebellion? A really bad apple for lunch?"

"I was…I was fighting. There were wolven, and--"

Discord laughed, and floated back. "Fighting? Wolven? Oh my, a lot of changes have happened, and I wasn't there to see it! I would love to see how Celestia's taking it if you know all about the wolven!"

Applejack stomped a hoof, and snorted when she couldn't even make a sound with that. "I don't want to hear any more of your nonsense, Discord! Show me out of this place!"

"Oh, lighten up. We're both stuck here. At least you'll have somepony coming to fetch you soon. I'm stuck here until Celestia decides to either kill, or free me." Discord let out a long sigh. "I guess I'll have to wait until Oceanus stops sulking before things get interesting again."

"Now, see here, I've had just about--"

A warm breeze blew through Applejack: a summer breeze that reminded her of working back in her farm. The constantly cold and biting winds of the Northern Barrier Land had almost made her forget what this was like. A burst of dazzling white light emanated from behind her, illuminating Discord, who squinted, and grunted. The grey mist receded.

"Well, aren't you a special little snowflake," Discord muttered.

"What are you talking about?" Applejack asked breathlessly. The sudden, familiar warmth left her giddy. She turned to face the source of both the light, and the breeze.

Discord crossed his arms in front of him. "I'm flattered. The Queen's coming to fetch you, and you're still talking to me."

The light intensified, leaving Applejack speechless. Something was coming towards them. The light's warmth seeped into her body, flooding her with a sense of contented joy, and leaving her on her knees. She squinted, but the light was too intense for her to make anything distinct out.

Out of the radiance, a voice came forth. Applejack expected a thunderous boom, or a powerful rumbling like Prince Terrato's. Instead, the words came out soft, and melodious. "Leave us, Lexarius. Our meeting does not require your presence."

"It's Discord!" Discord shouted. He shook a clenched eagle claw at the light. "Discord! I haven't been that boring lout, Lexarius, in centuries!"

Applejack cringed. It wasn't because she was frightened. Compared to the voice from the light, Discord's railing sounded especially unpleasant, like rusted metal plates grinding against each other. It seemed a crime to sound like that after that voice.

The light flared briefly, and it was Discord's turn to cringe. "Okay, okay," he said in a subdued tone. "You don't need to pull the smiting out. I'm going." He slithered away into the grayness like a beaten colt, leaving Applejack alone with the radiant presence.

"Forgive our former steward," the voice said. "He hasn't been himself for so long."

Applejack bowed her head. Discord called this…being "the Queen". Queen of what, she wasn't sure, but she instinctively knew that she should show respect. "Um…beg your pardon, your majesty, but what is going on?"

"Despite his madness, Lexarius has answered your questions honestly, Applejack. You are in Vestibulum, where the dead of Equestria are drawn to before they are accepted into the Eternal Herd."

Applejack remembered. The brachyurus had struck her. Was she dead? Was everything over?

"Let us greet you properly first, Applejack, bearer of the Element of Honesty. Not since the last stand of Apple Slice has a pony of your clan fallen so valiantly in battle. Rest assured that a place has been set aside for you within the Eternal Herd. In the blessed fields of Elys, your ancestors await you eagerly."

Applejack's spirit sank a bit. So this was it. She was dead. What the Queen said was a little flattering, and the thought of meeting the Apples of long ago was certainly exciting. However, she wished that she could have done more to help her friends.

"But they must wait a little longer," the voice said. "For our children's sake, we must interfere. How fitting that it is the Bearer of Honesty who has come before us when we need a pony to speak in our stead. Will you bear our message, honest Applejack?"

"Of-Of course, your majesty!" Applejack said. She hoped that she was using the right address.

"Thank you. We are aware of the growing turmoil in Equestria, and the rifts between our children: Celestia, Terrato, and Luna."

Applejack listened intently. So she as talking to mother of Equestria's rulers…no wonder Discord referred to this being as "the Queen".

"'Loquor propter reginam'. Speak these words to Terrato, and he will believe that you speak in our stead. Tell him that, if he continues to refuse to act, Celestia will fall from grace completely. Tell him that home is not lost to him, as he may believe. Lastly, remind him of his parent's love, and his mother's words: nine rebellions shall the King endure before he is roused to anger. Firstborn Oceanus committed the first, and it will be he who will commit the last. The seventh is coming soon. Let our warning allow him to prepare."

Applejack nodded. That was a lot of things to take in. She barely understood what the Queen was talking about, but she hoped that Prince Terrato would make more sense out of them. "I'll tell him, your majesty," she said. "I promise."

"Thank you. We will not send you back without gifts for your efforts, truth bearer."

The light swirled around Applejack as if it were liquid gold. A wave of heat burst from within. It started off as a spark of warmth in her chest, steadily growing into a fiercely burning flame.

"Heed our words, Applejack. Jewelry is but symbolism. Remember Harmonia Intus. No shield protects as truth does."

"I-I don't understand," Applejack said. The heat inside her started to hurt.

"Not yet. You are still gripped with doubts and lies. Stand strong, Applejack, and see Honesty as a purifying flame. Those purged by it will see clearly. Now, go back to your friends. They are in desperate need of you."

The light stopped swirling, and lessened in intensity as the presence withdrew.

"Hello?" somepony called out."Is anypony there?" From the voice it sounded like a stallion, a strangely familiar stallion. A white unicorn stumbled out of the mist.

Applejack gasped at the sight of the wavy, blue mane, the mustache, and the monocle. "I remember you! You're that rich feller Rarity met in Canterlot! What was it again? Something to do with pants…"

The unicorn's eyes widened upon noticing Applejack. "And I recognize you! You're one of Rarity's rustic friends…that gardening pony. Finally, a familiar sight! Could you…could you tell me where I am?"

"Uh…maybe you could tell me how you ended up here first," Applejack said. From Discord's words, things were not looking good for this stallion.

"I remember walking home from a party when I ran into a group of these strange-looking ponies in barding. They looked like they were heading for the palace urgently. One of them pointed some kind of device at me, then I woke up here."

The Queen's voice came from a distance. There was still a glimmer of light coming from afar despite the mist. "Come with me, Fancypants. The Eternal Herd will always have a place for a noble unicorn soul."

Though he was startled a bit, Fancypants brightened at the call. "Excuse me then, miss," he said. "I'll be going now." He galloped off, and disappeared into the grayness.

Applejack tried to walk on as well. She might have to go somewhere to get out of this place. A sharp pain to her side brought her up short. "What in tarnation?" She looked to her side. There didn't seem to be anything wrong with it, but it was starting to hurt. Her vision was also dimming, and the grayness was darkening.

Applejack opened her eyes, and found herself lying on a bed in a large room. The place was quiet save for the gentle snoozing of several ponies. She felt around her bed, and reveled in the solidity of everything. For a moment, she wondered if she had just dreamed the entire thing. No. She was sure it had happened. Everything had been too vivid, and too important to be a dream.

"You're awake at last," somepony said. Vanguard sat next to her bed. He had spoken gently, his growl of a voice almost breaking. Fluttershy was resting next to him with her head against his shoulder. At the foot of the bed was Rainbow, with her face buried in the sheets. The spot near her eyes still felt damp. Rarity was sitting by the door asleep, while Twilight had fallen on the floor nearby, with Spike resting on her back. There were other injured ponies laid up nearby as well.

"How come you're still up?" Applejack asked Vanguard softly. She tried to rise only to be brought up short by a sharp pain to her side. Vanguard put a hoof against her shoulder gently to keep her down.

"I'm just good at pacing myself," Vanguard replied. "Stay down, and rest. We almost lost you, you know."

"Lost me?"

Vanguard was silent for a while. "There was a moment when you lay so still that I could have sworn you were dead." His voice trembled slightly. "There's fear when you know that something might happen. Then, there's that moment when you're so certain that it has."

"Sorry," Applejack said. She pressed a cheek slightly against his hoof. "I made all of you worry." To her surprise, Vanguard chuckled. It was the first time she had seen him do more than smile. "What's so darn funny?" she asked, unable to keep herself from smiling.

"Do you remember that night I first brought all of you to the Legion?" Vanguard asked. "Rainbow was talking about how 'cool' it was when Twilight was injured trying to protect all of you, and you scolded her about trying it out for herself."

"I remember that night! I was-- Oh…" Blood rushed to Applejack's face. "Heh…heh…I did say that, didn't I?"

Vanguard chuckled again. "I'm just glad you're back with us, Applejack."

"Stay with us, Applejack. Remember the ones you still have back home."

"Glad to be back," Applejack said. "Not looking forward to being confined to a bed though." She put a hoof against the one Vanguard still had on her shoulder to gently nudge it away.

Vanguard looked embarrassed for a moment, then settled onto his seat. He reached for something afterwards. With a slight flourish, he placed Applejack's hat back on her head. "You almost lost this," he said.

Applejack gasped. "My hat! No wonder I was feeling extra chilly! Thanks, Vanguard."

Somepony nearby moaned groggily. Twilight stood up slowly, letting Spike slide to the floor as she did so. As she focused on Applejack and Vanguard, a peculiar look crossed her face for less than a second before she brightened. "Applejack!" she exclaimed. She put a hoof to her mouth, and looked around, before lowering her voice. "Thank goodness you're awake. We were so worried!"

"Sorry," Applejack said.

"No," Twilight answered softly. "I'm the one who should apologize. I had a spell on that brachyurus before you even got there, but the words slipped my mind at the last moment. I'm so sorry."

"Nonsense, sugarcube," Applejack said. "Don't you use this to punish yourself even more. I know how hard you work on your magic."

Twilight sniffed, and held back her tears as she smiled.

With a final nod at Applejack, Vanguard stood up, and looked ready to leave. Applejack reached out at the last moment, however. Almost dying was not going to solve all the problems she saw developing among her friends before the battle. The Queen's words convinced her that the Elements of Harmony would be needed soon, but she and her friends were far from being harmonious right now. She needed help, and Vanguard was her best hope. At the very least, there was something she needed him to do for now.

"Need something?" Vanguard asked.

Applejack nodded. "I need to talk to the prince. Can you do something to let me meet him?"

Vanguard mulled it over. "I'll see what I can do," he said. "Any reason why?"

"I got a message from his ma. A real important one."