• Published 22nd Sep 2013
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Uncharted: Secrets of the ancestors - Cloud Thunderhoof



The ponies are forced to ally themselves with a strange new creature in order to stop a plot that threatens the lives of everypony in equestria.

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Chapter 4: Dreams of Deception

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-Rainbow Dash-

“Twi’, are you sure that we can trust this…this thing”, the cyan mare said as she jabbed the creature in the chest with a hoof, causing it to step back a little bit.

Rainbow Dash hovered around the creature, sizing up the threat it posed to both herself and the other pony in the room, making sure to stay out of its reach in case it decided to lash out. It was nothing like Twilight had described on the way to the library, the creature was larger than she had imagined and resembled the minotaur who had messed with Fluttershy’s head last year, except it was shorter, furless, and much scrawnier. What surprised her the most was that it wore a thin layer of clothes, proving it was at least somewhat intelligent, or that Rarity had had gotten to it before she had.

Suddenly she felt something pull her tail and she looked back to see a familiar aura surrounding the chromatic hair.

“What’s wrong with you?” Twilight asked in a hushed voice

“How do you know you can trust it, I mean it’s not like we've seen anything like it before. How do you know that it’s not just waiting for the perfect moment to sneak up and rip you apart?” Dash replied, all the while she could feel the creature’s beady eyes watching her.

Twilight relinquished her grip on the Pegasus’s tail and shook her head.

A knock at the door broke up the altercation, causing the two ponies and the creature in the room to turn their attention to the door.

“Sorry, the library is closed for the rest of the day”, the unicorn mare called out.

The alabaster dressmaker called out from the other side of the door, “Twilight, Its Applejack and Rarity”

Dash watched as the librarian hastily pulled the door open and ushered the two other ponies in before hastily slamming the door behind them.

The cyan pegasus swooped down in front of the two new occupants of the room and spoke in an urgent voice “listen guys, Twilight brought that thing here and even though she seems to trust it, I’m not so sure we can, so be ready in case it attacks”

To her surprise Applejack rolled her eyes and Rarity looked down and shook her head disapprovingly.

“Hello again Nathan” Rarity said, trying not to stumble over the words

It took Dash a second to realize that she was addressing the creature. Instantly what that simple statement implied clicked in the mare’s mind.

“You knew about that thing!?” She exclaimed, wildly waving a hoof in the creature’s direction.

“Can we just cut all of this crap out, okay? I haven’t done anything to hurt any one of you and I don’t appreciate getting put on trial like this” A male voice which she had not heard before came from behind her.

The pony spun around and faced the creature which now stood with its arms crossed and an unmistakably annoyed expression on its face. She attempted to conceal her shock but her eyes betrayed the emotion. The creature had spoken, and it was not in some sort of garbled tongue, it was in honest to goddess Equuis.

At this point Twilight saw fit to step in and break it up “Listen Rainbow, he’s not some terrible creature from the Everfree who wants to rip us limb from limb”

“How do Apple Jack and Rarity know about it?” Dash spat, changing the topic.

“Applejack and Fluttershy found him injured in the forest, that’s how they know about him…” Twilight began

However before she could get another word out Dash interrupted her “and Rarity?”

“He needed his clothes patched Dash” Twilight said unable to fathom the depths of the pegasus’s paranoia.

“Why am I the last one to know about this!?” Dash exclaimed, her voice somewhere between betrayed and enraged.

“Rainbow! It was an accident that anyone besides Fluttershy, Twilight, and I knew about this before now. Either way it’s not like he’s done anything wrong” Applejack said.

“Why are you defending it?!” Dash exclaimed, wildly waving a hoof in the creature’s direction.

“Hey, you know I’m still here right” it interjected, however the ponies either didn't notice or just didn't care.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

-Nathan Drake-

The equines in front of the fortune hunter kept bickering among themselves, the one with the prismatic mane seemed to, he hoped only metaphorically, want him strung up while the others tried to talk her down. However Nathan was in the process of pinching himself repeatedly, hoping that this could still be some strange dream or hallucination. However his efforts only left him with a small bruise and assurance that the world around him was real, somehow.

The colorful horses in front of him continued with their argument until another knock sounded through the sturdy door. Then, without anyone letting her in, a pink pony burst in along with a shower of multicolored confetti and some sort of cart in tow.

Instantly the ponies in front of Drake stopped their arguing and stared at the pink mare, unsure of how to proceed. The new arrival however wasted no time in entering the tree house, pulling some sort of cart with tubes coming out of the top with her.

Before she managed to get the strange contraption into the library Twilight stepped in her way “Pinkie, you can’t bring your welcome wagon into the library”

Instead the pink mare produced much smaller item from seemingly nowhere, appearing to be a gift wrapped box sporting a big red bow and what appeared to be a name tag. For her part Twilight seemed confused, looking at the gift not entirely sure how to respond. The bubble gum colored pony rolled her eyes at her friend and made a not so subtly nodded towards the human. Twilight still seemed uncomfortable with the situation, eyeing the gift with what appeared, based on the similar reaction from the others, to be justified suspicion.

The purple pony turned her head towards the human in the back of the room, as if asking if the pink one could deliver her gift. Drake shrugged, not entirely sure how to read the situation considering what he had seen the pink one do less than two hours prior. The exuberant party pony trotted towards the human in the back of the room and handed him the box, giggling.

The box was heavier than he expected and didn't make any noise when he shook it next to his ear.

“You’re supposed to open it silly” the pink mare said her intrinsic maniacal smile not changing a bit.

Drake drew a small knife from his pocket and cut the paper from the box and slipped the wrapping into his pocket. While this dismayed the party pony who expected him to tear it off Drake knew that it was probably not a good idea to make a mess in Twilight’s…tree, library, house, thing.

However instead of pink glitter or a live grenade like the human was expecting there was a small cake inside the box. Instantly Drake remembered how hungry he was and dug into the pastry, disregarding the Equuis writing and crude frosting drawing of him.

It was a bit dry, flaky, and had a not so subtle hint of some form of pepper but to the near starved adventurer it couldn't be better.

As Drake finished the pink mare handed him a napkin and spoke “I see you liked your welcome to Equestria cake”

“Thanks for that, I was starving, although it was really spicy” Drake started, suddenly aware of an acute scorching sensation in his throat.

“I’m glad you like it, I was experimenting with some recipes and decided to add some fire-ruby peppers. Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure I didn’t add enough to make your throat close up or anything like that” The pink pony said, although her last statement made Drake a bit nervous.
Before anything else could happen there was a heavy knock at the door.

A deep voice sounded from the other side, “Princess Twilight, the chariot has arrived”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

-Twilight Sparkle-

Without having to be told the human placed the illusion generating artifact on and instantly the brown stallion swapped places with the foreign creature. This followed closely with the sound of Rainbow Dash dry heaving, probably putting two and two together and realizing exactly who she had been flirting with earlier.

Twilight opened the wooden door, revealing a fully armored royal guard. Instantly something stood out to Twilight, a slight shimmering across the stallion’s fur. The distortion in the light would have gone unnoticed to all but highly trained eyes, except that Twilight caught it. It was a diffusion shield, a magical force-field which provide the protection which the otherwise ornamental armor could not. However it was rare for them to be used in anything besides active combat situations since they required energy from a storage gem which ran out after about two hours of use. The fact that the guard at the door had his active implied that something was wrong.

“Can we speak outside for a second?” Twilight asked.

The guard nodded and stepped outside of the door with Twilight following, making sure to close the door behind her.

“Why is your shield active?” Twilight asked, using her enhanced vision spell to confirm her suspicions.

“I’m under strict orders not to disclose any information regarding the nature of this escort” The guard replied, quite sure of himself.

“Sergeant, you realize that withholding information from a princess is a punishable offence and I could have you court martialed for it” Twilight replied, she hated pulling rank like that but she hated being deceived a million times more.

“Your highness, the orders came from the top” The stallion replied, unfazed by the princess’s attempt.

“Tell your captain that he can go…” Twilight began, her anger towards the obstinate stallion growing.

However the soldier cut her off “Your highness, I mean the very top”

It didn’t take a genius to figure out that the shielding was in place in case Nathan was dangerous, but the question was who gave the order. The “very top” implied either Celestia or Luna, and seeing as the guards were both shielded and armed Luna was the most likely answer.

“May we proceed?” the soldier continued with the same indifferent tone.

Without a reply Twilight returned to the door and opened it, motioning for everyone inside to come out. Everyone filed out of the door and entered the enclosed stage coach esque wagon. Spike however remained behind in order to keep the library running during their absence. After the rest of the group boarded the flying wagon Twilight entered as well and with that it lifted off.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

-Nathan Drake-

The interior of the chariot was small, too small for the six ponies let alone a human nearly twice their height. He had to duck his head and bend over a little just to fit in and even then the ponies sitting next to him were squeezed in.

Without warning the vehicle lurched forward, and then to Drakes surprise and discomfort, up into the sky. Both his neck and once injured abdomen cried out in pain as the unexpected movement wreaked havoc on his spine. The discomfort passed quickly but he knew that if this flight lasted for more than twenty minutes or so he would have a stiff neck for days. The silence was the worst however, no one spoke but each of them stole glances at the hulking creature in the midst and averted their eyes as soon as he noticed.
Not that he blamed them, the fact that all but one of the ponies had reacted so well was a blessing. Overthinking things wouldn't help the situation, he just had to keep his mind on the task at hand: figure out how he got here and then how to get back.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

-Twilight Sparkle-

The ride lasted exactly one hour and seventeen minutes, just as planned, however a strange apprehension made it feel like an eternity. There was no rational explanation for the feeling, it was simply that, a feeling. It started when Twilight had realized that the human’s amulet was linked to the Evarians. Something in the back of her mind was telling her that if they kept unearthing things that they would eventually find something which was meant to stay buried.

No, she couldn't afford to think like that; she was a scientist, a princess, and she had Drake's fate in her hooves. She couldn't let her emotions control her like a teenage filly, especially ones so unfounded. The human's ability to return home and in turn his fate relied on her ability to make rational decisions and she didn't intend on letting him down.

One by one they filed out of the flying carriage onto the landing platform. Two lunar guards stood outside of the chariot, waiting for the group to exit. And one by one they did, with Twilight exiting last. It was blindingly bright outside, forcing the alicorn to shade her eyes with a hoof until they adjusted.

The two bat ponies bowed as Twilight’s eyes fell upon them; unlike most ponies it was not just an empty gesture but showed genuine respect. It was an open secret that Luna’s guards viewed the princess as godlike figures and their undying loyalty was the stuff of legend.

“Are they bowing?” The human asked

“Well it is customary in the company of royalty one shows some form of respect” Rarity informed the human.

However to the purple alicorn’s amusement the human didn't seem to register exactly who or where said royalty was, leading him to awkwardly glance around the landing platform, probably expecting to find an equine in flowing robes or a crown.

Twilight stifled a small laugh at the confusion, however one of the bat ponies saw fit to move the motley group along.

“Your highness, Princess Celestia is expecting you conference room” The bat pony said, standing at rigid attention.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

-Nathan Drake-

Judging from the stifled giggles and groans alike Drake realized that he was missing the elephant in the room. Honestly he didn't care, he had been dropped into a veritable fantasy land and wasn't all that concerned if he missed some minor aspect of their culture. Although on second thought, not knowing if he was in the presence of royalty might become an issue.

The creepy bat-pony hybrid things ushered the group out of the brilliant scenery of the outdoors and into the interior of the massive palace.
Once they were passed the ornate door into the complex Drake’s jaw dropped. The interior of the palace was massive, with ornately carved marble pillars rising what must have been at least three stories to the vaulted ceiling. The wall facing the outside was lined with intricately designed stained glass windows and massive tapestries adorned the opposite walls. The bright colors and soft lighting made the building feel almost alive.

“Hey, snap out of it, I don't want to keep the princess waiting” The cyan pegasus snapped, glaring at the awestruck human out of the corner of her eye.

“What? I thought we were here to see Twilight’s mentor”

This time the purple pony replied “It just happens that my mentor is one of the regents of Equestria”

The conversation continued as the group made their way down the corridor.

“I’d think that being as old as you said she is would qualify her for a position higher than princess”, Drake said, addressing Twilight.

She returned a look of total confusion, “What do you mean?”

“Well I’d think that she might qualify to be a queen, I mean that you made it clear that she’s the one in charge” Drake replied, not sure what made his statement so outlandish.

However that statement was met with what appeared to be a brief look of disbelief from Twilight.

“Princess Celestia isn’t a tyrant” The rainbow haired one spat, not even turning around to face him.

“Whoa, I never said she would be an evil queen, it’s just that I would that after thousands of years on the throne she wouldn't be considered an heir anymore”, he replied surprised by how personally they took what he had said.

“Drake, the terms King and Queen refer to dictators and those who impose their rule by force” Twilight informed Drake, seeing that he honestly didn't understand what his statement implied.

“Oh, then what do you call heirs to the throne?” Drake asked.

“Drake, think about it, we have two immortal rulers who have been on the throne for eons, we don't exactly need heirs to the throne” Twilight said, still a little stunned by the human’s faux pas.

“Well her palace would put Nero to shame” Drake muttered as he took another good look at the architecture of the corridor.

A large set of oak double doors sat at the end of the hallway with two identical unicorn guards flanking it. Two magical auras engulfed the doors as they approached and the large double doors swung back to reveal what appeared to be a conference room. It was a significant step down from the sheer in-your-face magnificence of the rest of the building, however it was not displeasing to the eye. The center of the room was dominated by a large mahogany table which, strangely enough, appeared to be tall enough for him to sit at normally.

A pony stood at the end of the room, although she was much different than all of the others the human had seen. The first thing to grab Drake’s attention was her stature, the pony princess was massive compared to all of the other equines the human has seen; she probably stood as tall, if not taller, than he did, giving her an almost imposing presence in the room.

One by one the six ponies filtered into the room and in turn each of them bowed to the pony at the end of the room. It took Drake a second, however he caught on and copied the action until the others stopped.

The pony smiled towards the human and spoke with a calm, measured tone, her magenta eyes appearing to scan the area around where the adventurer stood “I would ask that you stop using the illusion spell to hide yourself”

Drake hadn't realized that the disguise was still in place and with one quick motion he removed the necklace, revealing his true form to the monarch.

Surprisingly her gaze did not change, however there was still the inquisitive expression in her eyes. Drake had seen in in the guards’ eyes, in the eyes of the six ponies who accompanied him, and he had seen it in so many people back home. She was sizing him up, deciding whether to throw the strange creature at her metaphorical doorstep in a dungeon, dissect him on a lab table, or, hopefully, to help him get back to his own reality. If he had learned anything from his experiences with the ponies he had already encountered then it would probably be the third option. However he wasn't sure that the six mini-horses he had already encountered made up an accurate cross section of their society as a whole.

The towering white pony spoke after a few seconds of silence “Would you care to tell me your name?”

“Nathan Drake, but you can just call me Nathan or Drake if you like” He replied, deciding to omit the reason he didn't want to be called Mr. Drake.

The regent smiled warmly and replied “My name is Princess Celestia”

“It’s an honor your majesty” Drake replied, unlike most of the times he had referred to people that way this was serious and he did his best to keep his almost automatic sarcasm response from making him sound irreverent.

“So…” the princess began “Twilight tells me that you are pretty far from home”

“Yeah the GPS reception here is terrible” Drake smirked.

However, the comment was met blank stares.

“Never mind, bad joke” Drake said, realizing that he was probably the only one on this planet who knew what any of that meant.

“Well, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to Equestria, I hope these six have treated you well enough”, she replied, eyeing the ponies who had fanned out around the conference table.

“Yeah, everyone has been surprisingly hospitable” the human replied, shooting the rainbow one a distasteful look out of the corner of his eye.

“While I enjoy idle conversation I understand that there are pressing matters at hand. Twilight said you have an Evarian artifact in your possession and she believes that it is responsible for you being here” The monarch said.

Drake removed the palm sized bronze disk from his pants pocket and held it in the air for her to see. A warm golden glow enveloped the princess's horn and a slightly pained expression flickered across her face momentarily. Drake caught the change in emotion immediately, however he had no idea what was going on.

The adventurer opened his mouth to speak however Twilight beat him to it “Princess, don’t try to levitate it. The artifact seems to absorb any magic directed at it and drains it from the source”

The aura surrounding the regal pony’s horn instantly vanished, accompanied by a fleeting look of relief on the princess’s face.

Drake began to get up however princess shook her head, telling him not to bother. The alabaster pony whistled a simple three note tune and immediately a pony who the human assumed to be a servant walked through the large wooden doors. The dark orange mare took the amulet from the human and, without a word, brought it in her teeth to the royal pony. She took a good look at the intricate writing on the face of the object and studied it for at least two minutes before speaking again.

“I have always been fascinated with unexplained, or paranormal if you will, history and nothing embodies that more than the Evarians. No doubt you know that their mass disappearance and my birth fall were both over three thousand years ago, however I was born close to two hundred years after all of their cities vanished from the face of the Earth. After my sister was banished one thousand years ago I poured over texts from the ancients, trying to find whatever perversion of magic had twisted her mind and warped her body into a creature of nightmares. I read through everything we know about the Evarians. It did not amount to much, just some scattered legends and research documents, however there was recurring mention to three bronze amulets like this. Every source disagreed on the names of the amulets, their origins, and their purposes; however every one of them concurred that they bore some sort of religious significance” The ruler said, never taking her eyes off the artifact.

Then her attention turned to the human “Pray tell, how did this come into your possession”

“I was working on an archaeological dig when I found it” Drake replied, still concealing the part about the man in charge of the dig trying to murder him, the pirates, and the helicopter.

“If it’s not too much trouble than I would like to have a few scientists working in the castle look at this. Trying to levitate it has given me a splitting migraine and I need to retire to my quarters” the princess said, placing a hoof against her temple.

The human nodded, and one of the bat guards began to usher the group out. However Twilight rushed to her mentor’s side. However the regal pony gave her a reassuring smile and urged her to go with her friends. Twilight tried to protest, but her mentor shooed her away, trying to conceal what appeared to be growing pain.

“Well that went swimmingly” Rarity mumbled as the large oaken door closed behind them, sarcasm oozing from every fiber of her being.

“I hope she’s okay” Twilight said absently, her eyes gazing off into the distance.

“Come on Twi’ if Celestia can deal with the agony of being alone for an eon than I think she can handle a minor headache” Pinkie said, trying to reassure her friend.

“But it happened because I didn't warn her about trying to levitate the amulet” Twilight said, Pinkie’s statement bouncing off of her.

“It’s not like it’s your fault that Nate’s amulet causes excruciating physical pain to anyone who tries to …” the fuchsia mare began to say, however Applejack elbowed her in mind sentence.

“On second thought, don't worry about it” Pinkie concluded, flashing an awkward smile.

Needless to say Nate had more than a few lingering questions, however he thought that it might not be the best time to bring them up. At this point Drake just wanted a quiet place to be alone and let his mind catch up with everything that had transpired in the past twenty four hours, but more than anything else he just wanted something to eat.
A servant pony came trotting down the long corridor, her hooves falling with considerable haste. As she approached the group she bowed slightly, essentially just nodding her head towards them.

“Princess Luna has asked me to show you your quarters and then escort you to the royal archives” the green mare stated nervously.

“Is there something wrong?” Twilight asked, giving the servant mare a concerned look.

“Nothing your majesty, It’s just that it’s my first day on the job a...and…” she blurted, stumbling over the words and forcing herself not to make eye contact with Twilight.

“First of all you can just call me Twilight, second of all there’s no reason to get worked up, it's not like I’m going to throw you in the dungeon if you mess up” Twilight said, trying to calm the servant’s nerves.

It worked, partially, and the dark green mare began to usher them down a series of corridors.

“Wait, Twilight, you never told me that you're royalty” Drake said, matching the pony’s pace as they walked down the corridor.

“I guess it slipped my mind” she replied, turning to the human.

“Then why do you live in a library, instead of a castle or something?” Drake asked.

“Good question” Rarity said under her breath, however it came out much louder than she anticipated.

“I haven't been a princess for that long, and besides I couldn't just leave Ponyville behind like that” Twilight said, disregarding the dressmaker’s comment.

“I don't understand, aren't you born into royalty?” Drake asked

“Not always, I became a princess a few months ago. Before that I was just a unicorn” Twilight said, extending her wings to illustrate the point.

“Then what are you now?” Drake asked, not sure if she realized just how little he knew about their society.

“An alicorn” Twilight said, folding her wings again.

With that they arrived in a rotunda. At least a dozen doors lined the gold laden walls, each one of them bearing a different design.

“These will be your quarters for the duration of your stay” the servant mare said, gesturing to seven of the doors with a hoof.

“Good to know, now let’s go to the archives and start looking for answers” Twilight said, an almost thrilled note in her voice.

“Actually Twilight I think that I'm going to stay here, if that alright” Drake said.

“But aren't you going to help us look for a solution?” Twilight asked, surprised by the decision.

“You remember that I can't read a word of your language, right? I’m not sure how much help I would be looking through books” Drake said, shrugging.

“Ok, then I guess you can stay here” Twilight said, scratching her head with the tip of a hoof.

The she turned to the dark green servant “Could you help him settle in? I know my way to the archives”

The dark green nodded and nervously bowed before turning to the closest door. With a flash of dark red magic she opened the door. As the two of them walked into the room Drake took stock of everything that was inside.

Like the rest of the castle the small room was in pristine condition. The floor was covered with a dark velvet carpet, mahogany furnishings lined the walls, the windows let in the warm glow of afternoon sunlight, and plush bed sat in the corner. Surprisingly enough it all seemed large enough to fit the human, instead of being sized for the equine natives.

“Why is everything so big?” Drake asked

“We have visitors of every species in this castle, so we have accommodations to match all kinds of creatures” The servant replied, sounding slightly unsure of the answer.

“There’s more than one sentient species on the planet?” Drake asked, a bit surprised by the response.

“Yes sir, there are over a dozen sentient species” She replied as if it was a stupid question.

“Is there anything else you need before I leave?” the servant asked

“Yeah, something to eat” Drake said as he paced around the guest room.

“Anything in particular?” she asked as Drake turned to look out of the window.

“At this point I don’t care, I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” Drake said jokingly, however the servant did not reply.

He turned around and saw that she was slowly backing away, eyes wide with terror, pale as a ghost, and stammering incoherently.

The human realized what he had said and opened his mouth to explain however the dark green pony bolted out of the door before he could.

“It’s a figure of speech!” Drake called after the fleeing servant, silently praying that she would hear him.

He closed the door with one hand and face palmed with the other “Great, now she’s going to tell everyone that the big bad monster eats ponies”

However he didn't dwell on it that long, knowing that it wouldn't help to worry about it.

The adventure’s eyes scanned the room, looking for something to keep him occupied since he didn't feel very tired at the moment. There was a bookshelf, a chess board, and a few other assorted things that were of no use to him.

A glass topped coffee table sat in the center of the room with a silver tray on top of it. A pitcher of water, two glasses, and a small bowl of what appeared to be mints sat on the tray. Drake took the pitcher and poured himself a tall glass of water before collapsing into one of the plush chairs in the room.

Words could not describe how much of a relief it was to sit in a properly sized chair and let his muscles relax. With one large gulp he downed the glass of water, it was amazingly crisp and fresh with a subtle hint of citrus. Fatigue crept into every fiber of the human’s being shortly after and he decided to move to the bed to lie down. It was surprisingly hard to lift himself out of the chair and some higher part of Nathan's brain was trying to tell him that something was very wrong. However he paid the niggling feeling no mind as he struggled to get up.

Drake stumbled across the room like he was drunk, the exhaustion making every movement harder and harder. The feeling that something had gone horrible wrong became louder and louder in his mind but an overpowering sense of complacency silenced it. Then when Nathan was two steps from the bed he collapsed, hitting the ground with a thump.

The sense of complacency overwhelmed every other part of his mind and without so much as a cry for help his eyes rolled up into his skull and he faded into unconsciousness.

The fortune hunter’s eyes shot open and he jumped to his feet. Immediately he made sure that he was still in one piece. Not only was he unharmed, he felt better than ever. He was wearing all of the same clothes as before and his holster which, to his surprise, had a pistol in one of the pockets.

Then drake turned his attention to his surroundings. He was standing in what appeared to a massive atrium with dozens of corridors leading in every direction but no apparent exit. The walls and floor of the building were made of what appeared to be sandstone, with dark moss growing out of the cracks in the masonry and long vines hanging from the walls in intricate web like patterns. The domed glass ceiling of the room appeared to be at least one hundred feet above him, letting pure white light into the expansive room.

“Where the hell am I?” Nathan muttered, gazing up into the light.

He made his way to one of the vine covered walls and looked up.

“Well It’s not like I’ve got anything better to do” Drake said as he grabbed hold of one of the low hanging vines and hoisted himself up.

Surprisingly, both the vines and the stone which they clung to felt warm to the touch. Hand over hand he ascended the wall, each pull seeming to lift him dozens of feet towards the ceiling. Within seconds he made it to the top, not even question how he moved so fast.

“That’s a long way down” Drake muttered, strangely unconcerned as he grabbed onto one of the steel skylight supports.

Like the rest of the building the steel was the same temperature as his skin, making it feel like it wasn’t even there. Drake pulled himself up onto the steel bar and reached a hand out to the glass. But there was no glass there, just an endless white expanse.

Drake felt his palms getting sweaty and before he could reach the wall the sickening sense of falling overwhelmed him. He plummeted to the stone below, flailing his arms and screaming. However no pain came. Nate picked himself up and closed his eyes on some strange impulse.

He could feel every part of the building, like it was just an extension of his body. Every square inch of the seemingly infinite structure felt familiar to him. Through some sort if inner vision he could see almost every part if the complex at once. However there were places which he could not see through his mind’s eye, each of them shrouded by a dense fog.

He could feel another presence, a consciousness brushing up against his own. It was deep within the maze like expanse of the building. Drake knew the way as if by instinct and he set out towards it.

He picked his way through the maze of moss and stone, knowing exactly where to go. Suddenly one of the corridors eventually opened up into a massive room.

It was somewhere between a throne room and a church, with a massive golden chair sitting at one end and a seemingly infinite row of pews in front of it. The mossy sandstone of the hallway seemed to melt into the cracked marble of the cathedral like construct. Large dark masses sat in the pews, crowded together like sardines in a can, slightly reflecting the ambient light.

The almost calming nature of the building gave way to all consuming sorrow. Drake’s skin crawled as the dark masses seemed to draw him closer and closer. As Drake closed the gap between him and the first row of benches the dark masses began to gain definition.

They were all body bags, lined up in the long benches like people attending church, the features of the individual corpses within blurred by the rubbery covering. With a trembling hand he gripped the zipper and yanked it down. The latex bag fell from the corpse it contained, revealing a man with a bullet hole ridden torso and blood stains running down his face. Placed a hand on the cadaver’s forehead and gave it a gentle push. The dead man’s head swung back and forth but made no movement of its own.

Drake stepped back, his heart beating faster than he knew it could. The anxiety was unbearable, he felt like thousands of eyes were watching him, scrutinizing his every movement. Then something else entered his vision.

A nondescript figure stood in the isle which divided the two columns on benches. It looked human, however some part of him kept telling him that it was not, that it was a monster. Drake drew closer and closer to the figure, drawing the pistol which had materialized at his hip.

The creature kneeled next to one of the body bags inspecting the armored cadaver within. Drake placed the barrel of his newfound gun against the head of the humanoid darkness. However it didn't even seem to notice.

“What are you” Drake said as he pressed the muzzle of the magnum against its head.

Silence.

“I’ll pull the trigger, I swear” Drake stammered

Silence.

The creature finished inspecting the heavily armored cadaver and with one finger touched its forehead. The body’s eyes began to glow before the dark form zipped the body bag up again and pushed it back into position. The light from the eyes penetrated the thin rubber, causing two faint lights to shine through the bag.

Drake took his gaze off of the body bag and turned his attention to the dark figure. However instead of the shadowy humanoid it looked like his oldest friend.

“Sully?” Drake asked, not lowering the gun in his hands.

However the grey haired man just turned his back and began to walk down the infinite isle.

Nate blinked and Sully had changed places with Elena. He didn't know what to think, most of him wanted to believe that his fiancé was standing there, however some higher part of his brain was screaming at not to trust it.

Then he blinked again and Chloe stood there. Every time Drake blinked the thing in front of him changed forms, switching between all of the people he trusted or cared for. Whatever that thing was it was definitely the source of the mind he had felt earlier.

Drake’s finger came to rest on the trigger of the magnum in his grip, he knew he should pull it, but he couldn't bring himself to it. The shape shifter was doing something to his mind, making him hold back as if he were close to gunning down the actual people.

Drake closed his eyes, freeing him from the mental influence, and pulled the trigger. The gun didn't even recoil as it sent thirty two millimeters of lead straight into the shape shifter’s chest. The consciousness brushing up against Drake’s own suddenly shrunk back as the bullet struck the creature.

Nate’s eyes shot open; the creature had reverted back to its true form, however a basketball sized hole now occupied the space where its chest used to be. It turned to face the adventurer, its glowing blue eyes sending a sensation of uncontrollable dread rocketing through his entire body.

The massive hole in the apparition’s chest slowly filled back in, leaving it the same way it had started. It raised one hand and pointed to the corpse with the glowing eyes, then snapped its fingers showering the ground with cobalt blue sparks.

Drake raised the gun to fire again however a sound from behind him make him turn around. The glowing eyed corpse was flailing around inside of the body bag, punching, kicking, and tearing at its plastic prison. An arm punched through the thin layer of plastic with the sound of ripping paper, then the other arm, and a leg. Within seconds the armored body had ripped the bag away, revealing itself fully.

The living cadaver didn't even give Nathan a chance to react before it began to sprint towards him at top speed. Drake drew his pistol, completely forgetting about the shape shifter for the time being. He pulled the trigger as fast as he could, sending a wall of lead towards the charging brute. Most of the shots sailed past the living corpse and the ones that connected ricocheted off of its steel armor harmlessly.

Desperately Drake kept firing, sending round after round into the giant’s body, however it charged on completely unfazed. Within seconds it closed the gap and lunged at Nate, knocking him to the cold hard stone floor. It grabbed the fortune hunter’s head, it grip like an iron vice closing around his skull.

Drake fought back with all of his strength, punching, kicking, and trying to tear himself from his opponent’s grip. It was doing something to his mind, waking something which lad lay dormant in his memories for years. Images flashed before his eyes: a snow capped mountain, a derelict temple, a courtyard full of rubble, and two towering figures wielding mini-guns. He could feel a phantom grenade in his hand and the sensation of hurling it through the air. The image of an explosion flashed through his mind’s eye. One of the armored figures in the suppressed memory caught fire, struggling to extinguish it as he baked alive in his suit.

The man who assaulted him now was the one who had burned alive back in Shambhala. He was forcing the memories of Drake killing him back into his mind.

A the memory the armored foe’s grip loosened around the fortune hunter’s head, and with one powerful kick Drake knocked the assailant off of him. Without wasting a second Drake jumped onto the sprawling figure, savagely striking its steel mask with the grip of his pistol, sweat and blood dripping from his face. It dented and warped under the constant assault until it snapped and went skidding across the stone floor.

Under the mask the cadaver’s face was burned beyond recognition, nothing but charred remains of what was one flesh and bone. Without hesitation Nathan forced the barrel of his pistol against the charred skull.

The animate corpse retaliated, grabbing him by the neck and hoisting him up into the air. With herculean strength he threw Drake across the room. Nate’s gun was sent skidding across the flagstones, coming to rest in front of one of the corpse filled benches.

Desperately Drake scrambled on his hands and knees for the lost weapon as his undead assailant charged towards him.

As the glowing eyed corpse came within feet of his position Drake grabbed the gun and fired towards the charging body with trembling hands. The bullet flew straight and true, burying itself in the exposed forehead of the charred remains. It stopped mid sprint, falling to its knees as the bullet carving a hole straight through its skull.

Drake fired again and again, each piece of lead burying itself in the charred flesh of his assailant until nothing but a blackened stump remained.

Finally the corpse collapsed, hitting the ground with an audible crack.

“What the hell was that”, Nate said, wiping blood and sweat from his brow.

Without warning another set of dead eyes began to glow, and another, and another. Row by row the eyes inside every body bag flickered to life. Every bag began to thrash and warp as the corpses within tore madly at their prisons. With a chorus of ripping plastic and splitting zippers they began to free themselves.

Drake ran. He ran as fast as his legs could take him, coughing and spluttering as he tore down the aisle. It wasn't long before the cadavers began to free themselves, their cobalt blue eyes landing on the desperately fleeing man. They gave chase and as each copse freed itself they joined in the hunt. Within seconds Drake’s pursuers numbered in the thousands, the sounds of their footsteps like the thunder of an oncoming storm.

Without losing speed Drake turned slightly, aiming his pistol at the oncoming mob of the undead. He fired as fast as he could pull the trigger, sending dozens of rounds downrange. Out of the corner of his eye he could see a few heads cave in and bodies fall to the floor however the waves of undead did not relent.
There was no end in sight, the isle seemed to stretch on indefinitely and each row of corpse filled pew he passed only added to the hoard. Nathan gave up trying to thin the ranks of his pursuers and just ran.

His mad sprint consumed all of his conscious thought he could feel every muscle contracting and expanding, every heartbeat, every breath, and nothing else. Then there was salvation, a wall stood at the edge of the white fog which enveloped the construct. A massive stained glass window stood in in the center of the marble wall casting a warm orange glow over the sterile environment.

With one trembling hand he drew his sidearm and fired into the glass, cracking and damaging it as much as possible. And then he jumped, curling up into a ball as his body broke through the ornate glass.

“Oh crap!” Drake shouted as he barreled through the window, dislocating his shoulder.

Hundreds of razor sharp pieces of glass sliced through his skin, drawing blood and causing him to cry out in pain. An empty white expanse surrounded him as he fell what felt like hundreds of feet. He closed his eyes, resigning himself to his fate.

Suddenly he felt water envelop him. He was no longer falling, there was no more broken glass, there were no more corpses, just crystal blue water. The water was glowing slightly while the wounds he had suffered began to fade away. He could feel bone realigning, skin mending, and muscles being knit back together.

Slowly he sat up and examined his body, the glowing water flowing off of his hands and arms as he inspected them.

“Okay, that’s strange” Drake muttered as he brought himself to his feet.

He was standing in a shallow pool in the middle of a courtyard. Massive walls of the same cracked sandstone as the atrium enclosed the clearing and lush green grass interspersed with vibrant flowers covered the ground. All around the courtyard there were massive bronze statues depicting each of his closest friends.

The shape shifter from before stood right outside the shallow pool, it’s back turned to the human. He could see the cobalt blue light of its eyes reflect off of the statues as it inspected them.

“This ends now” Drake said as he pulled his magnum and aimed it at the invader.

He felt strong here, stronger and more powerful than he could ever remember. He pulled the trigger, sending a bullet straight into the dark humanoid’s chest. There was a blinding flash of golden light it tore a hole straight through the apparition.

The creature shrieked in a deep feminine voice as it fell to the ground, its body slowly dissolving into nothingness.

Nathan stepped out of the pool of water. He approached the slowly disappearing apparition, intending to finish it off. As he raised his gun for the kill the shadowy figure flickered out of existence. In its place lay a tall midnight blue alicorn shuddering in pain.

Drake lowered his gun, not sure whether to leave it alone or put a bullet in its skull. However before he could make that decision the pony flickered out of existence and the apparition came back. With snakelike speed it struck out, ramming its talon like fingers into Drake’s chest so far that they came out the other side.

Nathan felt all of the air leave his lungs and his blood freeze in his veins. He was paralyzed, unable to resist as the slowly vanishing monster began to ravage his mind. It forcefully tore every memory of the strange building from his him and he was powerless to stop it. The fingers buried in Drake’s chest were the last of the apparition to fade away, leaving him frozen in place until they too ceased to exist.

The world around him began to crumble. The massive walls fell, crushing the massive bronze statues and destroying the ground underneath. Everything began to fragment and fade into the endless abyss below.

With his newly wiped memory Drake had no idea where he was or what was going on, however he knew that he had to escape the destruction. His blood felt like it was frozen, making fleeing nearly impossible. Then the ground below him opened up and he fell. Before the abyss claimed him he managed to grab onto a piece of solid ground.

Drake desperately grabbed at the rapidly vanishing land, trying to keep himself from the endless expanse below. Eventually he missed, his hands slipping and before he could cry out he felt himself dissolve into nothingness.

Nathan’s eyes shot open, he was lying in a pool of his own blood on the floor of the room he had been given in the castle. All he remembered was drinking the water and then collapsing.

He couldn't speak and he could barely move but with his last shreds of energy he dragged himself into the hallway. It was dark however he could see light coming from one of the other rooms. He crawled over the door, congealed blood dripping out of his nose and mouth. He smacked the door, hoping it would alert the occupant of the room and then collapsed, his conscious mind fading into oblivion.

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Comments ( 5 )

Great chapter, although I did have to go back and reread the previous ones the remember what was going on.

Also, Luna, what are you doing? That was extreamly reckless of you.

:pinkiehappy: I'm so happy that this awesome story has updated, but please don't leave for months again with a cliffhanger like that... please:fluttercry:

Maybe his mind was rejecting Luna? Seems like it with the nosebleed...

Please more chapters don't abandon it. :fluttercry:

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