• Published 28th Aug 2013
  • 10,422 Views, 314 Comments

The Moon Shall Rise From Hell's Ashes - TundraStanza

A young man that's never heard of the MLP franchise is sent to Equestria, but not by Discord or one of Twilight's failed spells. This time, the victim is forced in by Nightmare Moon. He'll have to rediscover what it means to be alive.

  • ...

Interlude: Mountains & Myths

Interlude: Mountains & Myths


"Ollie Ollen! Free the oxen!"

"Oh, drat," Spirit Sword muttered before asking aloud, "Is it that day of the month again?"

"One two three, not it!" Faith Shield hollered before hightailing it out of there.

"Traitor!" remarked Spirit, "You agreed to alternate with me when this happens!"

The door slammed open behind him as did the eyelids on his face. He shivered and looked at the growing figure behind him.

"Ah, Spirit of the Sword! Delighted you could attend!"

Artemesia, have mercy on me, he thought as beads of his sweat trickled down.

---{Dilan Shier}

"All right," I nodded. "After twenty rounds with each of the inanimate objects in this bedroom, I feel confident in my Shadowride."

I spent at least five hours each of the last six days practicing Princess Celestia's alternate ability. Granted, I did get stuck in that one statuette's shadow for four hours the first day. But it was a learning experience. When Faith Shield dropped by yesterday and patted my mane, I was able to resist the Pony of Shadow's repossession instinct with minimal effort.

I... wasn't really sure how the two techniques could help counterbalance each other. But I was happy with my progress.

A rapid knocking on my door interrupted my reminiscing. I walked over to see the matter. Before I could even touch the handle, however, the door slammed into the room. A very frantic vampire pony guard charged in and slammed the door again behind him. His head jerked this way and that while his eyes kept darting in the opposite direction.

"Faith?" I asked, "What's gotten into you?"

"Got to hide! Got to hide! Where's a good place to hide?" His words raced as quickly as his body turned.

"Woah, slow down." I held up my hooves defensively. "What's the matter?"

He sputtered like a struggling car's engine. "'What's the matter?' she asks. I'm trying to protect myself from the greatest threat that Equestria's ever faced! That is the matter!"

"A greater threat than an everlasting night that eventually starves a nation due to a lack of sunlight-grown food?" I asked skeptically.

"Worse," he answered with a furious nod, "Much worse."

"What is it then?" I waved my hoof, motioning that I wanted more details. "Did that Sombra guy come back to life?" If I wasn't so busy staring at Faith, I might have noticed that my tail briefly shook involuntarily.

He shook his head. "Worse."

"Did one of the other Element of Harmony bearers get taken over by another fragment of the Nightmare?" I scratched my neck while expressing confusion.

"It's even worse."

I swiveled my wings around to look like the universal hand-sign for "I give up".

"Oh, there!" Faith exclaimed before traversing impossibly fast to my bed's underside.

"Could you please stop my guessing game and just tell me what the problem is?" I said while leaning down to look at his scared, golden irises.

"It's... M and M..." he shuddered and the bed shook with him.

I blinked. "Wait, the candy or the white rapper?"

I nearly jumped out of my metal bracers when my door slammed again. I slowly turned around to find out who the second intruder was. There was something very wrong with the picture I was seeing. It was enough to make me feel my slits for pupils shrink.

Princess Luna is smiling. I felt sweat dripping on the underside of my helmet. Princess Luna never smiles.

"Hello, Dill Anne of the Shear," she... cooed. (Princess Luna never coos either!) "I could have sworn I saw Faith of the Shield come this way."

"P-Princess," I stammered, "What's going on? Are you all right?"

"Oh ho ho, Dill Anne," she snorted. "You mustn't worry about my welfare. I'm simply marvelous."

Okay, that right there confirms it. Something is clearly wrong here. But it can't be hatred. My tail didn't react.

"May I... ask what you need Faith Shield for?" I hazarded the question. The bed behind me shook a little.

"Oh, we're going on an amazing adventure and I don't want him to feel left out." Princess Luna's wings spread wide when she said "amazing".

I glanced at the golden eyes hidden underneath the bed. I looked back at Princess Luna. I looked back at the hidden Faith Shield. I looked back to the princess.

I took a deep breath. I'm going to regret this, but I've got to save Faith Shield from whatever he's afraid of.

"Maybe... I could accompany you in his absence?" I suggested, leaving the question in the air.

When she turned to stare directly at me, her lips shrunk to a small hole on the front of her muzzle.

Did that cure her? I wondered hopefully.

A scarier sight soon replaced the initial terror: a smile twice as big as the first.

How many teeth are in that mouth of hers? My left hoof shook into a sporadic tapping pattern against the floor.

"Why... yes, Dill Anne." Princess Luna swung her hips as she trotted toward me. "I believe you'll make a perfect addition."

"Uh, in addition to what?" I asked.

In an instant, both of her front hooves and wings were slapped on top of my shoulders.




"Oh no," Princess Celestia whispered with eyes wide open. Her quill that was in the middle of a signature dropped to the floor, splashing ink over a spot.



Zecora's pole slid from under her upside-down meditation. "To break my poise, what was that noise?"


~And now alone I stand

And now alone I stand~


Rarity looked back and forth in the rain. "What in the world could that be?"

(In the way too distant future...)

"All right," muttered a faded blue mare to herself, "I've reloaded my firearms, wiped off most of the blood, and packed enough medical supplies to last until at least tomorrow night. I guess my next plan should involve helping this town look for a sheriff."


In response to her ears twitching, she looked up into the orangish sky. But as quickly as it cried out, the scream ceased to be. She looked back down at about eye level. Her mouth scrunched up as she raised her eyebrow.

"The hell was that?" she asked.

---{????? ?????}
(Current era)

I heard a droplet echo. But I struggled to open my eyes. The view was dark, blurry, and unfamiliar. Another echo carried the sound of water splattering off a rock. I moved to stand on all fours. I looked around. A row of stalactites and stalagmites went as far into any direction of this cavern as I could see.

I quietly trotted over to the blue pool. I gazed at my reflection. My pink face was mostly hidden by my shrouded hood. Aside from that, I could peer through the opening in my mask to see my red left eye and my white right eye. Everything looked normal.

I sighed. "We need to get moving."

I treaded lightly back to the makeshift camping spot. My current ally was snoring rather loudly. In this situation, I had no choice but to kick him awake.

"Gen, get your lazy flank up," I commanded.

Genuine Soul grunted, putting a stop to his noisy slumber. Assuming that he was awake, I moved on and gathered my gear and equipment. My compressible crossbow went onto my right hoof. My dagger had its own sleeve on my left. The rapier was strapped to my back. My smaller assorted gear went into the small pouch just behind my left shoulder.

Gen held a hoof to his side while gathering his own gear. "Talis, remind me again why we decided to travel these mountains together."

"One simple reason." This wasn't the first time I had answered his implied question. It wouldn't be the last. "It would be a waste using our talents to kill each other."

Genuine Soul was a paladin of the Celestial Order. I, Talis Daemon, was a rogue who owed allegiance only to the gold. Normally, there would have been no reason for such opposing objectives to form an alliance. However, there were times when I needed his boldness and strength against the more damnable foes. Similarly, he needed my expertise in avoiding the traps and getting through locked passages that lacked a tangible key. For one of us to slay the other would lead to diminished effectiveness.

"I swear I didn't mean to look at your cutie mark," he told me again.

"And I already told you that I wouldn't do anything to you as long as you preserved that secret," I stated.

He went silent as he levitated his greatsword onto his back. This conversation was over.

I felt a twinkle against my red eye. I quickly raised my crossbow and shot twice above our heads. One vampire bat fell dead to the floor. The other landed on its feet with a crippled wing. Gen took a long swing with his greatsword, pummeling the animal into the ground.

"How did you know there were bats?" he wondered out loud.

I shrugged. "It probably had something to do with that natural twenty."

---{Dilan Shier}

"Don't break character," advised Princess Luna, "It's unsportsmanlike and dishonors the spirit of the adventure."

The princess had practically whisked me into her attic room. I didn't even know she had an attic. Although, Spirit Sword was already there with his wings tied up to a chair. His barely visible tears showed that he was not comfortable. In front of him was a table full of various papers and a bunch of weirdly shaped dice. All of which differed in color as well as shape.

I was shoved to the table before a page with the bold-print words "Character Sheet" was levitated and slapped into my face. Things just got weirder from there.

"But I don't do theater," I defended, "How am I supposed to know how this character acts?"

"Let it flow through your veins and consume your very being," Princess Luna responded in that creepy smiling way.

I was beginning to see why Faith Shield thought that this was worse than a normal invasion.

I coughed. "I'll just... keep trying, then."

---{Talis Daemon}

I briefly pulled down my mask to spit at the corpse. I put the mask back up before I said, "Sorry, what I meant to say was that I heard their beating wings from about thirty feet away."

Gen nodded. "We should probably get moving."

With that, we galloped through the rest of the cavernous expanse. When we arrived at this tunnel's exit, Gen practically threw himself into the daylight against the ground.

"Oh, glorious day!" he praised, "How I've missed you so!"

I rolled my eyes at his enthusiasm and kept walking along the dirt path. I didn't notice anything out of place along this rocky terrain, but one couldn't be too careful. As if to prove my point, the sound of flapping wings perked my ears. I knew for a fact that neither Gen nor I had wings. So a possibility of a nearby threat warranted guarded stances. I grabbed my rapier, pulling it partially out of its sheathe.

"Why are you pulling out your sword?" wondered Gen, "Wouldn't your bolts work better against winged foes?"

"Not when we're out in the open like this," I answered while shaking my head. "Stay sharp."

Gen held his weapon in magic, waiting for the new potential enemy. Slowly, we trotted further down the path. Waiting and watching was something I had grown used to in the cavern. My ally, however, was getting a bit restless. But I still heard the wing beats.

"I don't hear them anymore." Gen apparently could not. He set his sword back onto its fixed back position.

"Gen, look out!" I yanked my blade out the rest of the way, but I wasn't quick enough. The new foe whacked the paladin in the back of his head before I could react.

Harpies! I clenched my teeth. Four of them hung out in the air. Their faces were pony enough, but the rest of their bodies were akin to really large falcons. There were slight variations in their plumage color, but none that helped determine their threat levels. I was about to thrust my weapon at the closest harpy, but I was interrupted.


One of them had spoken. Normally, this would not have given me pause. But seeing as they had done little more than kick Gen's helmet, like I would've every other day, I had reason to believe that a fight was not our only option. Cautiously, I lowered my rapier.

"Whoever wants to cross these mountains alive, must first answer us these questions five."

A riddle? Of all the times not to seek aid from a scholar... I took a deep breath. "Very well. Ask away."

This first harpy asked, "What... is your name?"

"I am Talis Daemon."

The second harpy asked, "What... is your quest?"

"I seek the rumored treasure at the end of the Harped Range."

The third inquired, "What... is your favorite color?"

I raised my eyebrow at that before cautiously answering, "Golden yellow."

The fourth one asked, "What... is both pony kind's biggest goal and biggest burden?"

I scratched my chin for this one. "Power."

Then, all four harpies asked in unison, "What... is the quickest way to a stallion's heart?"

"Wait, a stallion's heart?" I echoed. "How am I supposed to...?"

"Buck Florist's fetlocks," muttered Gen rather loudly. I saw him lumber next to me earlier, but I didn't consider it a big deal at the time.

Now, however, I stared at him incredulously. "Huh?"

"That is... correct," replied the first harpy, "You may pass."

Two torches lit up right near the next cave's entrance. I looked back at Genuine Soul.

"How did you come up with that answer?" I asked.

"Buck Florist... is everywhere, mare," he answered vaguely. He then proceeded to shake the dizziness from his head. "In Celestia's name, we carry on!" He trotted lively down the rest of the path. I quickened my steps to keep up with him.

Buck Florist's fetlocks, I repeated while shaking my head. I don't get it.

---{Behind Talis's back}

"That last question was far too easy," remarked Harpy #2.

"I told you we should have changed it," insinuated Harpy #4.

"Well, whatever," shrugged Harpy #3, "Shall we go pester that buffalo elder again?"

"Ah, yes, that sounds wonderful," said Harpy #1 with a smile and a nod. The harpies then proceeded to fly away.

---{Talis Daemon}

Therein lied the treasure we sought. Standing on a grandiose pedestal at the end of this long passageway was the instrument of our client's choosing. This... was the Harp of Enlightenment.

"Huzzah!' exclaimed Gen, "Triumph! Other positive nouns and adjectives!" He prepared to run forward.

"Wait!" I slapped a hoof in his way, though that inadvertently led to him tripping over it. "Usually when a prize seems too good to be true, that means it is." I took one of my loose crossbow bolts and tossed it toward the center of the opening. A stream of flames shot out of the wall and melted the bronze into a pile of goop. I then leapt over to a slightly narrower ledge against the passage's rightmost wall.

"Don't take another step," I warned, "I'm going to see if I can't make your travel a bit less lethal."

"I yield to your judgment for now, Talis," he relented while brushing himself off.

Slowly but surely, I shimmied along the ledge. All the while, I searched for something, anything that could turn off the flame that blocked the main route. I really didn't want to have to haul the prize through this narrow section. As I stepped lightly within the vicinity of the harp, I saw it.

A small tile was marked with the ancient symbol for 'rain'. I tapped my left hoof against the tile twice and it lowered an inch into the floor. Meanwhile, the ceiling of the passage let out a cloud of mist that that further released a light shower. The wet environment soon made the flame a miniscule light against the wall from which it originated. I motioned with my other hoof.

Gen stepped lively through the rain to where I was standing. He pulled out a burlap sack and proceeded to carefully place the treasure inside. With possible water damage no longer being a worry, he quickly galloped back out of the passage. When I pulled my hoof up, the cloud vanished and the flame stream started again. I had to resort to my little ledge to get back.

Finally, we made our way back to town.


"Thank you ever so much for retrieving this for me." The client bowed in respect. He then handed a smaller pouch to Gen. "For your troubles."

Levitating the pouch, Gen poured its contents onto his hoof. Two rings of a standard, precious metal were adorned with small cuts of emerald. By my rough estimate, they looked like they would cover at least a few nights' rent at the tavern, if not a few of pieces of better equipment.

"And so concludes another successful quest."

---{Dilan Shier}

"I hope next month will be just as wonderful!" beamed Princess Luna. The lamp shining on the table ticked off as a slightly more room-covering light turned on. I felt the need to rub something out of my eyes. I turned to Spirit Sword. Luna's magic was already at work untying his wings.

"Well... that was... interesting," I admitted.

"Some pony just vanquish me," responded Spirit with a sore throat.


After trotting down the hall, I practically tripped onto the bed. I heard someone shuffle around before they came out of hiding.

"Thank you," whispered Faith Shield.

"Yeah, don't mention it," I mumbled. I turned my head and added, "Seriously, don't."


Author's Note:

Yeah, try wrapping your mind around this update.
Now with 85% less pseudoscience!
Warning: 70% of all statistics are made up on the spot. Do not take seriously if you are prone to brainfreeze, heart attacks, cancer of any variety, pregnant, or may become pregnant. Thank you and have a nice day.

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