• Published 26th Mar 2014
  • 1,131 Views, 58 Comments

Rise of the Phoenix Empire - kudzuhaiku

Set after the events of 'The Alicorn Academy' this story tells the tale of the rebirth of Equestria, Out of the flames and ashes comes new life.

  • ...

Chapter 4

Two mares and a stallion slept in an enormous bed. It was an odd sleeping arrangement, and one that caused a lot of ponies to talk. There was always gossip, no matter the age you lived in, or what empire. Gossip was a constant presence. They slumbered together, unable to sleep apart, taking comfort and getting what little sleep they had by sleeping in a pony pile.

Moonshine snorted fitfully, and then buried her head into Nightfisher’s neck. Nightfisher, who slept in the middle of the bed, moved a little closer to Sunflower. It was daylight, even though one would never be able to tell, not in this room, and the sleepers continued to sleep fitfully, comforted by the total darkness.

And one more had joined them, a sooty purple filly with a tear stained face.

When Twilight Twinkle cautiously crawled into the bed with them, Moonshine stirred briefly, her lips moving, eyes fluttering, her ears flickering. Twinkle carefully cuddled against Moonshine’s side, causing Moonshine to calm, her breathing a bit more regular.

There was nothing quite so comforting to a troubled equine as a pony pile. Post war Equestria gave way to unusual sleeping arrangements of all kind.

Luck. It all came down to luck. Moonshine had made her discovery due to luck. Not long after the battle for Ponyville, she had been on solo patrol in the skies over the general Canterlot - Ponyville region. She had been in shadow form, drifting around, invisible to all but those with the most powerful of magics.

And as she had drifted overhead, she had seen it, down in the canyon below, a shimmering of magic, a burst of light, and then darkness.

A secret door in the canyon wall, hidden with spells, covered by illusion. She prowled around the hidden entrance, remaining in shadow form, debating her course of action. She chose not to go and find others, instead, she chose to infiltrate.

She slipped in through the cracks around the door, easing her way in. It was dim and dark. The very air stank of wrongness. Smells she could not identify assaulted her nostrils. Ahead of her, she saw two changelings, and something else. It was a unicorn, but not a unicorn. Something seemed off.

She drifted along the ceiling, in the shadow, an incorporeal cloud of slick shadow-stuff. She drifted through the complex, unseen, unnoticed, moving through rooms and hallways, taking it all in.

She halted when she came to a lab. Inside, there were tables, and, on each table, was a pony in various stages of dissection. On the table just below her was a unicorn with a bisected head, and, where the unicorn’s brain should have been, there was a changeling egg. The egg was connected by thick green strands directly to the base of the horn.

Moonshine feared she would never get a restful sleep ever again.

Ponies with missing brains, changelings eggs where the brain should have been, it was almost too much to take in. All around the room were various experiments.

She had also found some of the missing foals from the school she assumed. Some were stored in changeling cocoons, locked in magical slumber, and many of them had a small round hole in their skull in various stages of healing. Others were on the tables, cut open for study.

On one table, she didn’t know what she was seeing. It was a pony on the outside, but on the inside, it wasn’t pony at all. It was more… Insectoid. Moonshine reeled in horror. Was she looking at pony-changeling hybrids? She didn’t know. But something was off.

She was getting tired. She needed to become solid again, to rest. To be out of this nightmarish place.

In the corner of the room, she saw a familiar figure. She drifted along the ceiling, nothing more than shadow and smoke, moving over. On the table beneath her was a lunar pegasi foal, cut open, mind exposed.

Moonshine had to go. Not wanting to risk falling out of shadow during her exit, she shadow-winked, going from one dark place to another.

She popped back into reality deep in the depths of Canterlot, suddenly very solid, crashing down to a well cushioned floor made just for moments like these. The room was dark, magically dark, and had a beacon for shadow-winking lunar pegasi to be pulled home to.

She lay on the floor, breathless, her mind troubled, and needing a drink, which became her first priority. The second priority was to find Nightfisher, Sunflower, and Savage, and then tell them what was going on. After that, more drinking. Lots more drinking.

She emerged from the room and into a long hallway that connected to the landing strip below the castle. There were ponies around, filling the hallway.

“Hey! You!” She bellowed impatiently to a passing lunar mare. “Seen Savage?”

The mare nodded. “Situation room.” The mare said, continuing her business.

Moonshine hustled off to the situation room, her heavy hooffalls echoing off of the hallway walls. Passing ponies gave her a wide berth, her reputation clearing traffic. She hoped that Savage would have something to drink on hand.

She turned a corner, continuing through the warren, picking up her pace. The horrible images of what she had scene burned into her brain, buried, infesting her thoughts, in much the same way that the changeling egg had taken over the brain of the unicorns she had seen.

Moonshine felt sick. It was really settling in now. Everything she had seen, it filled in the blanks, answered so many questions, and caused so many more questions.

There were unicorns all around Equestria with changeling eggs inside their heads, doing the will of the Collective. The reports of changelings using unicorn magic made a little more sense… Clearly they had figured out a way to channel pony magic instead of the usual changeling green glow.

Moonshine felt as though her legs were going to buckle.

She didn’t bother to knock, she kicked open the door with one large hoof, causing Savage glare at her. She didn’t care. She glared back, causing Savage to give an annoyed whicker. Savage punctuated this with bared fangs.

Everything in Moonshine’s head began to spill out of her mouth, a long stream of words rushing forth, sometimes stammering, trying to explain everything she saw. Savage, an old mare who had lived a long life of hardship and war, cringed from the words, her ears sagging, until she finally slumped down in her chair with a defeated gasp. Moonshine finished her report, holding herself together, desperately wanting a drink. She ended with a description of the dissected lunar foal.

“I don’t know how to fight this.” Savage said after several minutes of silence, once Moonshine’s report had finished. “It is all too much. We don’t know where the princesses are, we don’t know who or what is currently moving the sun and the moon, and now you tell me that we have ponies that might be running around with bug eggs inside their noggins.”

“What?” Said a voice.

Savage turned towards the door, seeing Brimstone. She sighed heavily.

“You asked me to come down.” Brimstone said, looking concerned.

“How much have you heard?” Savage asked.

“Enough.” Brimstone said, shock settling onto his features.

“Get over here Fart Stain.” Moonshine said, gesturing at Brimstone.

He did as he was bid, nearly running to Moonshine, who took him to a hug, crushing him to her barrel as she sat upon her cushion. She wrapped her wings around him, feeling tears beginning to boil just behind her eyes, her breath becoming laboured.

“I will post warnings at once.” Savage said. “Intelligence will have to come up with ways to detect the infected. Who knows how many thousands we might have running around in society, stirring up trouble, inciting riots, dividing us, making us fight one another as those damn bugs gain a hoofhold.”

“I don’t understand how the body functions without a brain.” Moonshine said, shaking her head, still crying, clutching Brimstone.

“Like that matters.” Savage grumbled. “Just what we need. Some new horror. Hey everypony, the changelings can lay eggs inside your skulls now and take over your bodies!” Savage spat. “This isn’t going to be a war I’m afraid. I suspect we’ll be fighting for our very survival. Damn parasites have found a new way infect us. Do you know how much panic and paranoia this is going to cause? There will be pure chaos in the streets by dawn.”

“I guess I will not be getting lessons tonight.” Brimstone said in a faint whisper.

“What in Tartarus do you think this is?” Savage snapped. “Remember this night Brimstone. This night marks the end. We may survive what comes, but we will never be the same. Our society cannot handle something like this. I do not know what comes after, but, mark my words, this is the end of things as we know them.”

Brimstone began to sniffle.

“If we force all unicorns to submit for testing, this will only further drive a wedge in between the tribes.” Savage said, thinking aloud. “Many will resist. There will be more protests. If we acknowledge that the unicorns may be a threat, we indirectly acknowledge their supposed superiourity over the other tribes. The changelings are using unicorns for their magic.”

“Then we test them without telling them. For the greater good.” Brimstone said, his voice soft. “We may have to forgo individual rights. They are a luxury that we cannot afford.”

“You sound so much like your mother.” Savage said in reply. “It would be an awful thing to have to do. I suppose we’ll start by getting our best shadow agents to attempt to enter the minds of sleeping unicorns, to establish whom we can trust. Worm our way in while they slumber, check and see if they have a mind. After we have a body of wizards we can trust, we work on some way of making a detection spell. Something passive and that isn’t likely to be noticed.”

“Make it feel like a changeling detection spell. Nopony would dare protest a simple dispelling of illusion. Those that do would likely be viewed by others as changelings.” Brimstone said. “This is bad. I can see how this is going to destroy the trust we have in one another. How will we endure this?” He nuzzled Moonshine, trying to comfort her, comforting himself in the process.

“The simple answer is, we do not.” Savage replied. “We will have to rebuild after the war.”

Moonshine awoke, once again in the future, her breathing ragged. She felt bodies all around her. Nightfisher. Sunflower. And somepony else. Something small and warm.

Twilight Twinkle.

She squirmed in the bed, trying to become comfortable again. After several minutes of squirming, she realised sleep was impossible. She shadow dove, freeing herself from the pile without disturbing others, and then reformed beside the bed. She turned and left the sleepers, going off to have a nice soak in a tub, hopefully with a nice drink.

Four companions sat, watching the sun settle into the tree tops, the day ending. Ivy planted a kiss on Brimstone, and then, as an afterthought, Minerva and Hoodwink as well.

“You are welcome to stay Hoodwink.” Ivy said.

Hoodwink nodded, leaning onto Minerva, watching the sun settling. “Stay with us Minerva, for a few days.” Hoodwink begged. “I’ve missed you. We should all be together for a while. We don’t spend enough time together.” Hoodwink rubbed her cheek against Minerva’s neck. “I remember how we used to sleep in the bed together when we were little. I haven’t been sleeping well.”

Brimstone glanced at Ivy, saying nothing, and Ivy replied with an almost imperceptible nod, her tail twitching. She raised an eyebrow at Brimstone, a faint smile upon her lips. He gave a faint nod in return.

“Both of you are staying until such a time I choose to let you leave. We could all use some time together.” Ivy said.

Minerva began to protest, and then realised how useless it would be. “Spike can handle the library.” She muttered.

As the two mares leaned upon each other, Ivy wrapped herself around Brimstone, getting comfortable on the platform near the top of her tree home, planting one more kiss on Brimstone’s ear.

The companions lapsed into silence as evening approached…

“Ivy?” Brimstone said, looking up at Ivy hanging from a branch up above him.

There was no reply. The four companions sat in the Royal Gardens of Canterlot, surrounded by guards, the four foals under watch.

Brimstone tapped Minerva with his hoof and then pointed upward. Minerva nodded, saying nothing, her horn igniting, and Brimstone felt himself growing lighter. He began to rise.

Ivy was wrapped in her leathery wing, a private cocoon, her head and neck folded against her body, hiding from the world.

Brimstone tapped her gently, hoping to see her grey eyes and know that she was alright. The wing unwound from around her body. She gazed at him, floating there next to her as she hung upside down. With remarkable speed, she shot out all four of her legs and snatched him, pulling him close, first wrapping her feathery wing around them both, followed by her leathery wing.

Brimstone found himself hanging upside down with Ivy, the blood rushing to his head. He was clutched in her legs, wrapped in her wings, feeling her warmth. There was the smell of smoke. Brimstone understood at this moment, this was a very intimate situation. He felt himself blushing, either from the blood rushing to his head or his close proximity to Ivy. The wings had surrounded them in a private curtain, shielding them from the world.

“Hi Ivy.” Brimstone said, his nose inches from hers.

Ivy said nothing, but continued to squeeze.

“Ivy, tell me, what happened in Ponyville? I’m worried.” Brimstone whispered, his nose tickled from Ivy’s smoky breath.

“I felt my mind slipping.” Ivy said, her voice faint, wisps of smoke coming out as she spoke.

Brimstone fought back a sneeze.

“I realised what I had done.” Ivy said, her voice strained. “The shock wore off, the anger went away, and I realised that I had done something bad. I never wanted to hurt anything. Ever.”

“I know.” Brimstone said. “We all know. We’ve been worried Ivy. You’ve shut us out.”

“I’m sorry.” Ivy said sootily. She pressed her nose up against Brimstone’s, enjoying his closeness. “Once it started to sink in, I couldn’t function. I don’t know what happened. I could see everything. Hear everything. I just couldn’t respond. I don’t want to kill anything ever again. I can’t bear these feelings.”

“I know Ivy.” Brimstone said, wrapping his forelegs around her neck. He clung to her tightly, partly out of need to comfort her, partly out of the knowledge that he was high above the ground and Ivy was the only thing keeping him from falling. He kissed her gently on the snout. “You don’t have to kill again Ivy, if you don’t want to. Focus on life instead. We’ll find another way for you to fight, perhaps something more defensive.”

Ivy pulled Brimstone tighter still. “I’m glad you’re not upset with me.” She said.

“Why would I be upset with you?” Brimstone said.

“We’re at war and I don’t want to kill things.” Ivy whispered, brushing her muzzle against Brimstone’s.

Brimstone realised with an embarrassed blush that blood was flowing to other places. He squirmed uncomfortably. This had happened before, always when alone or in private or a place he could hide it, but never when pressed up against Ivy. “Oh geez, I’m sorry Ivy.”

Ivy said nothing, but continued to hold Brimstone close.

“I, uh, can’t help it.” Brimstone explained, wondering if this was going to be a journal entry. The young colt tried to think about other things, hoping to make the growing problem go away. He felt Ivy breathing on him, the warmth of her body, the hot humid air filling the air trapped under Ivy’s wings that were wrapped around them. Ivy’s smoky breath. He could feel Ivy’s heart beating. The ripple of her muscles in her serpentine body as she pressed against him. It was almost too much.

“Shush.” Ivy said at last.

Brimstone fell silent, but continued to squirm. The squirming made it worse, he concluded, entirely too late. He sighed, and then tried to settle in, hoping he wouldn’t make this awkward moment any worse. They hung there, together, Brimstone feeling most grateful for Ivy’s wings wrapped around their bodies.

Ivy wasn’t giggling and that somehow made this moment even more awkward. Brimstone had tried to comfort Ivy, and now he was pressed against her with a sizeable problem of his own, wishing he could die from embarrassment.

Below, Minerva and Hoodwink sat reading, listening to the occasional words up above, sometimes stealing a glance upward to check on Brimstone and Ivy.

“I feel a little jealous sometimes.” Hoodwink said.

“So do I.” Minerva said. “Does that make me a bad friend?”

Hoodwink shrugged. She set her book down, marking her page. The book was about advanced magical theory and energy channeling. It was something that most adult unicorns would never be allowed to read, not without proper clearance. Minerva was reading about magical kinetics, the effect of a moving body during levitation and the various means to amplify transference of energy. Or, as Minerva had put it, how to throw a pebble and make it feel like a mountain had been thrown.

Savage had insisted that the foal’s reading material be made suitable for the task at hand, the task being war of course.

Minerva closed her eyes, setting down her own book, and tried to settle into that spot where the magic flowed, hoping to become at one with everything around her once again. She levitated a ball of water from the fountain nearby, trying to hold it within her magic, not allowing any water to leak out. There were leaks, little pinholes in her magic field, but they were small now. She rolled the water ball around, causing it to slosh, trying to make her magic field as solid as possible, getting it to the point of perfection where no water would leak out. It was something Twilight Sparkle had shown her.

Above them, Brimstone was still suffering from the most awkward moment in his life, trying not to think about what was pressing into Ivy. His eyes were closed. He was listening the sounds of Ivy’s breathing, the dawning realisation that friendship could forgive almost any embarrassment between friends.

“Ivy…” whispered Brimstone, “what about your roar?”

“What about my roar?” Ivy replied.

“Your voice can shatter windows. I know my mother gave you lessons. Perhaps you can use your voice to stun your enemies, scare them, drive them away. “ Brimstone pressed his nose against hers, planting a gentle kiss on her lips, his mind painfully aware of the problem still tucked between them.

“Maybe.” Ivy replied, kissing back lightly. “If I had to. I could try it.” She inwardly reflected about how much she sounded like her mother with those words. “Brimstone?” She asked, her voice a faint whisper still.

“Yes?” Brimstone replied, feeling his heart flutter in his chest.

“Help me make some life someday. When we’re older. Help me make up for what I’ve done.” Ivy said, her voice a faint hissing whisper. “Or else I’ll tell Hoodwink and Minerva all about your problem you are having right now.” Ivy didn’t giggle, but there was a faint smile.

“That’s… That’s…” Brimstone stammered.

“Fighting dirty.” Ivy finished. “Someday, you and I are going to pick up where we leave off, in a tree, just like this. When all of this is over, I will help rebuild. And I want you there with me.” Ivy said. “I know we are young, and it is a lot to ask, but I want you with me forever.” She pressed her muzzle against Brimstones, opening her lips slightly, kissing him softly. “A lot of bad things are going to happen. And I can’t face them unless I know there is something worth waiting for on the other side.”

“You have my promise.” Brimstone said breathlessly.

“I know you’ll keep your word.” Ivy said. “You found a way for Gala. I hope there is a way we can reach her soon and try to teach her the ear language.”

Brimstone nodded, his lips still brushing up against Ivy’s. “Ivy?”


“I’m probably going to have to do a lot of bad things. Please be waiting for me on the other side. I am going to have much to atone for.” Brimstone said, feeling his nostril brush up against Ivy’s.

“Brimstone?” Ivy said?

Brimstone’s head jerked, he snorted, clearing the cobwebs of his mind, pulling himself out of the past. His mind had wandered. The sun had dropped below the trees.

“Brimstone… You have a problem.” Ivy whispered. “You’ve sprouted the most impressive sapling.” Ivy tittered.

“I, uh, was thinking about that day in the tree. When we held each other. And made those promises. And uh…”

“And you squirmed and dry humped me for the first time?” Ivy said in a faint private whisper in Brimstone’s ear.

“I wasn’t trying to do that!” Brimstone said, cringing. “It was uncomfortable and I was worried you’d be upset and…”

Ivy silenced Brimstone with a talon placed carefully on his lips. “I am going to fix some food. Stay up here with them.” Ivy said.

A winged figure circled over the Everfree as the day ended and night took over. Dark, shadowy, the figure moved silently through the sky, dropping in altitude, eventually soaring just over the treeline. She soared through the air, just over the trees, heading for the tallest cluster of trees in the Everfree. She saw her destination, a platform with three figures silhouetted in the night, the platform made for visitors just like her.

Luna, Princess of the Night, landed gracefully on the platform, hooves clattering lightly, her wings barely folded when one of the figures tackled her with an embrace.

“Mother!” Brimstone shouted. “This is unannounced.”

Luna nodded. “I had to get out of Canterlot. I ask your permission for refuge.”

“Mother, I wish you’d stop that. You don’t need to ask.” Brimstone said.

“Protocol.” Luna said, just before being tackled by two mares. She was very nearly toppled from the platform, now buried under three ponies, all squeezing.

“There is much to tell you mother.” Brimstone said, thinking about two very different types of eggs.

Eventually, the three let go and allowed her to catch her breath.

“I had to get out of Canterlot as well.” Hoodwink said. “I’m going to be staying here for a few days.”

Luna gave a knowing nod. She shook out her wings and then carefully folded them back into place, settling her feathers.

“You are in for a shock.” Minerva said, not meeting Luna’s gaze, causing Brimstone to scowl in irritation at her.

“Come.” Brimstone said. “Everypony down stairs. There is much to discuss.” He took off down the stairs, three mares following him, Hoodwink and Minerva both beginning to look more than a little alarmed, knowing what waited down the stairs.

Ivy hugged Luna when Luna came through the door, squeezing the alicorn with reckless abandon, causing Luna’s eyes to bulge wide, her tongue lolling out, and an audible crackle coming from her spine.

“Ooof Still no respect for your mother in law!” Luna gasped.

“No,” agreed Ivy, “I guess I don’t.” Ivy planted a loud kiss on Luna’s cheek.

“Mother, before anything else is said or done, there needs to be a long talk.” Brimstone looked at his mother, a faint twinkle of fear in his eyes.

Ivy scowled, reaching up to scratch an antler. “We’ll talk over dinner.” Ivy said, flouncing off into the kitchen in a huff.

Author's Note:

Sorry. So much to write lately. And I've been reworking this for a while.

Comments ( 19 )

Daaamn!! there are entirely too little favs for this story!!

AVESOME!! i've just red all the stuff from "mail order" to here.. daamn

W..what? No next chapter....... I... I.. please, write more!!!

I do hope you'll take this off hiatus soon!
This is probably one of the best fanfictions I've read in a while, and I really hope we can find out more about what happened, and what's going to happen in this continuation of Alicorn Academy.

I'm surprised the story has such a small amount of views considering how well it is written.
Anyway, this is an AWESOME story and I really hope it doesn't remain on hiatus for too long. :)

Good story so far. Hoping that it may have a future updates someday.

I am really enjoying this, hope it gets taken off hiatus soon. Ivy is too great to be put on hold :D


Not to worry, this story is dead.


Please please revisit this. I love your characters and the world you've built for them.

Just found this yesterday and have read up to here... Sigh. Want more Ivy and her friends. The scientific changelings... Gah! That's a new twist on them we definetly need more of.


Interesting to note that i think you have become one of my favorite authors on this site. [ aside from my self of course, huzzah ego...] At least simply judging by the sheer number of your stories i have read, and have saved.

I do hope you plan to continue this, there are a number of things unanswered and things to see unfold just yet. While i am not happy with certain points of the story [certain chars seem to write offs to me] over all this has been a very interesting story. I read Mail order orphan a while ago and yesterday i read alicorn academy, and everything up to the end of this in a single sitting.

I do hope you do not let bad reviews keep you from writing and finishing your work. I have found a number of people just read a story without going back and looking at other parts at all, it is annoying particularly with large stories or complex plots. But it happens.

5568266 Please don't kill this. I just read Alicorn Academy again. I love Ivy and it would be a crying shame if this story died. Please continue it.

Just, no.
Hiatus? Fine.
Need to finish other stories first? Fine.


Dead? I'm gutted, it is a strong story told well :( guess it can't be helped, I know you don't kill stories lightly.

Hmmm... The comments say it's dead. Do I read an unfinished story? ... Even unfinished there could be things worth reading here... Especially given all the great stories leading up to this...
Screw it. I'm reading this.

Edit: Worth it!

Hope you come back to this someday, Kudzu

Just a shout out for this fantastic story!! Can't wait for more!!

My sentiments echo the rest - I can't wait to read the rest of this story!

What a great read! I went back to visit some of your older stories after working on the weed series. You have quite a knack for coming of age tales. I did feel like the pheonix empire was a bit disjointed but you had great characters, scenery and a very cool scenario, if you ever revisit this story line I'll be one of the first in line!


Ivy would be very disappointed. She wishes for no more dead, and the story is dead?

You'll make her cry.

You might want to rethink the title on this fic. Or at least the 'Phoenix Empire' part. It made me think this fic was a part of this series.



Login or register to comment