• Published 10th Jul 2011
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Antipodes - PK



An epic post-apocolyptic adventure fic surrounding Celestia and Luna's dissapearence.

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Antipodes- Chapter 18

Antipodes

Chapter 18

By PK

Incendia took a few lumbering steps towards the two rapidly approaching shapes, but she stumbled and stopped only a few feet from her starting place. Tiptoe, in contrast, flew as fast as her wings could carry her, nearly crashing into the ground in front of her.

"Incendia!" Tiptoe shouted. "I can't believe it's you! You're alright! We never tho-" she stopped halfway through her sentence as she began to process Incendia's appearance. She looked to be on death's doorstep. Her formerly black, shiny coat was ruffled and browned. A disturbingly large gash on her flank was surrounded by dried blood. A fresh cut above her eye sent scarlet down the side of her face. Despite all this, however, she stood tall, and a broad smile played across her face. When she spoke, her voice was strong and clear.

"It's good to see you too, Tiptoe."

It was at this moment that Jigsaw came scrambling up to join them, his footing precarious on the icy soil.

"It's really you," he said, his eyes wide. "How did you escape? And... and what happened to you?"

Incendia swayed on her feet for a moment and sat down. "I'll tell you everything, but can we rest for a while? I've had quite the ordeal."

"Apparently," Jigsaw said. "Rest sounds like a good idea. We've been walking for hours." Jigsaw took a step closer to Incendia. "Are you sure you're alright? You look..." Jigsaw didn't finish the sentence. Incendia understood.

"I feel like it," she said, letting weariness creep into her voice.

"May I take a closer look?" Jigsaw asked. Incendia nodded, and Jigsaw's horn lit up with its familiar blue glow. He knelt down next to Incendia, slowly moving his horn back and forth along the length of her body, the tip hovering just above her skin. He paused a few times over the most heavily injured areas- the gash on her flank, the cut on her head, but he also paused over areas with no apparent injury- several times over her stomach and the base of her head. Every now and then, blue sparks seemed to shoot out out of his horn and dance along Incendia's fur until they suddenly stopped and sank down, seeming to vanish. Tiptoe watched with great interest. Incendia had her eyes shut and her teeth gritted, as though the sensation was painful. When Jigsaw was finished he stood up, his face blank.

"How is it?" asked Tiptoe nervously.

"It's bad," Jigsaw said, "but I think she'll live. I managed to fix up some of the smaller things, but she has some serious blood loss and a concussion."

Incendia reached a hoof up to massage one side of her head. "That would explain the pounding headache."

"I might be able to help with that," Jigsaw offered, his horn once again erupting into brilliance.

Incendia shook her head. "I've had far worse injuries back in Stalliongrad. Right now, I'd just like to sleep."

Jigsaw nodded. "I suppose me and Tiptoe can get to work building camp. I... I hate to ask, but could you make a fire? Just for tonight?"

In response, Incendia's horn began to glow orange, and a small, brilliantly bright sphere of fire appeared in the center of the group. Jigsaw thanked her, and he and Tiptoe set off to find supplies. As soon as they were out of sight, Incendia gasped at the effort of the spell and nearly lost consciousness. "Stupid", she thought. "Overextended myself. Take it easy." She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She looked over at the swirling ball of fire in the center of the clearing. The ice on the ground below had already melted into a glassy black puddle, and the heat emanating from it was coming off in waves, warm and comforting. She smiled to herself. At least one thing had gone right.

Tiptoe and Jigsaw spent several minutes searching the surrounding area for supplies for beds, but quickly gave it up when they realized the ground was completely barren. When they made their way back to the glowing sphere, they found Incendia was already deep asleep, nestled far closer to the burning sphere than either of them could have bared.

Jigsaw and Tiptoe curled down together near the edge of the sphere's influence, where the heat was at its mildest and most comfortable. Jigsaw lay on his back, staring up into the sky.

"It's actually kind of pretty," Jigsaw said.

"What is?" Tiptoe asked groggily.

"The sky. The moon."

Tiptoe rolled over to look up.

"It is," she said. "I haven't really had much time to look. Not since we first came out of the underground."

"First came out of the underground," Jigsaw repeated quietly, smiling a little. "That's what we did, isn't it? It seems like it was so long ago. Did you ever think we would see the sky?"

Tiptoe didn't answer. She didn't have to. Instead, she studied the sky. The sun was now fully out of view, blocked by the mountains, but a sliver of the moon was visible over the castle, perched majestically at the spot where the waterfall once cascaded over the mountain. The waterfall itself remained the same as it always had been- frozen, cold, and beautiful.

The sky was not totally dark. The sun, however low and faint it may have been, still sent streaks of color through the clouds. The dull, silvery-gray light of the decaying moon was not bright enough to blot out the stars. They marked the sky like uncountable millions of pinpricks.

"It really is beautiful," she said quietly.

"Just imagine what it looked like when the goddesses were still around," Jigsaw said.

A long silence followed this. So long, Jigsaw thought that Tiptoe had fallen asleep. When she spoke, Jigsaw gave a small start.

"I love you, Jigsaw," Tiptoe said.

Jigsaw closed his eyes. He stood at a junction, a choice before him. His relationship with Tiptoe needed to be cemented here and now- or it never would be at all. He made his choice.

"I love you too, Tiptoe."

With that, Tiptoe rolled over and closed her eyes, drifting off almost instantly.

Jigsaw's rest didn't come nearly as fast. He remained awake for quite a long time, staring up into the strange and alien sky, until he too nodded off, bathed in the light and warmth of the strange magical light, so stark in contrast to the icy, frozen wasteland that surrounded them.

~~~

Many hours later, after each of them had slept their fill, they sat together, attempting to gather the last bit of warmth from the rapidly failing spell. The small ball of fire was slowly rotating in the air, and with each revolution, it seemed to get smaller and become more insubstantial.

"It'll be gone in another hour," Incendia said.

"How do you feel?" Tiptoe asked, looking concernedly at the gash on her flank.

"I've had worse before. Don't worry, I'll be alright," Incendia said with a smile. "I won't slow you down."

"I wouldn't speak so soon if I were you," Jigsaw said, looking out at the frozen waterfall. "we need to go up to the castle."

"I figured as much," Incendia admitted. "How are we supposed to get up there?"

Jigsaw tore his eyes away from the silhouette of the castle, tall and majestic against the dull gray of the moon, and began to search the face of the mountain. However, after only a few minutes of this, Tiptoe spoke up.

"When we were on our way here, I noticed something strange on the mountain. There's a dark line that runs out from behind the castle all the way down to the base of the mountain... uh..." she gestured with her hoof somewhere off to the left. "Over there. I know it's not much to go on, but it's better than nothing."

Incendia shrugged. "If that's all my have, we might as well check it out. Come on." She stood up quickly and began to walk off towards the direction Tiptoe had indicated, but she could only take a few steps before the pounding in her head and the dizziness forced her to stop.

Tiptoe walked over to her side. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah, I'm fine, really. Just got up too fast, that's all," Incendia said, still smiling weakly. Tiptoe nodded and began walking, though she kept glancing back at Incendia to make sure she was following. Jigsaw soon caught up with them, having broken camp.

They made their way slowly across the frozen river. Though they tried their best to keep their eyes on the ice before them, they couldn't help but be drawn up to the castle. It seemed almost as if it was pulling them towards it.

Eventually, they reached the other bank of the frozen river and continued on. Tiptoe walked in the front of the group, occasionally taking to the air to search for the dark line she had seen from the sky. Jigsaw hung back, walking alongside Incendia, who, despite a noticeable limp, was keeping pace admirably.

They didn't have to search long. The path started just beyond the waterfall, around a small, rocky outcropping. The path itself was in remarkably good condition considering its age. There were steps carved into the mountain, out of what appeared to be white marble. The only sign that time had affected them at all were the cracks that were omnipresent on every step. They continued up and out of sight, twisting around to follow a natural mountain ridge.

Jigsaw stared up at them in awe. "This is unbelievable. How long must it have taken them to build these? This mountain isn't marble; they would have had to bring blocks all the way here, cut them into shape, then carve out the mountain! It must have taken decades, maybe even centuries! This is truly a marvel of the wo-" he stopped in mid-sentence, noticing Incendia's look of incredulity and Tiptoe's expression with clearly betrayed her desire to burst into laughter.

"Are you done yet?" Tiptoe said, smiling.

Jigsaw lowered his head, murmured something that might have been "yes", and began to climb the stairway, followed closely by Tiptoe, who was helping support Incendia up the stairs.

Progress from that point on was quite slow going. The stairs were icy in many places, forcing them to be extremely cautious. As they climbed higher, the cold became stronger and more penetrating, necessitating small breaks where Incendia would conjure a miniature and much smaller version of the ball of fire she had made at the camp. It was at the third one of these breaks that she spoke up.

"What exactly is it you hope to find in that castle?" she asked. They were a few hundred feet up the mountain by now, giving them a clearer view of the castle.

Jigsaw was confused for a moment before he remembered. He let out a laugh and said, "Have we really not told you?"

Incendia looked confused. "No, you just showed up out of nowhere and invited me to come with you. I didn't ask for an explanation because I thought one would be coming, but it looks like that's not the case."

Jigsaw then began the long explanation of what had transpired since their separation in the rubble of Stalliongrad, with Tiptoe interjecting to fill the details when Jigsaw had passed out. After several minutes of explanation, they fell silent.

Incendia didn't respond at first. Instead, she stared up at the dull gray moon, which appeared to have grown to over twice its original size in the sky since they became climbing.

"So... that's what we're after? The fragments?" she said after several seconds of contemplation. Jigsaw and Tiptoe nodded in response.

"Are you so sure that's a good idea?" Incendia asked.

Jigsaw looked shocked. "Of course it is! They must be brought together!"

"Think about it," Incendia continued. "The fragment in Stalliongrad was exploited for ten thousand yeas and used for unspeakable evil. You think the Attenuator was the worst of it? Or the draining? There were much more horrible things. I don't think we should be collecting the fragments. I think we should be locking them away, making sure that nopony can use them to commit such atrocities ever again!"

She shouted the last line, fires sparking to life in her mane, though she couldn't hide her reflexive wince of pain at the sudden outburst. Jigsaw and Tiptoe took a step back in fear and alarm. Incendia stared at them intensely for a moment before her eyes went wide and she extinguished the flames.

"I'm sorry," she said hastily. "It's just... I spent my whole life in that place. You were there, what, a few days? You didn't get the full brunt of the horror of the place. You didn't..." she swallowed. "You didn't have to live in it. If you'd seen what I have, you wouldn't want to collect them either." She sat down and turned her head away from the group, staring into the fiery ball she had conjured.

Tiptoe approached her slowly and sat down next to her. When she spoke, it was in a calm, kind voice.

"I can't imagine what it must have been like to grow up there. I'm sorry. But what we're doing here... we're not going to use the fragments for evil. We can't even use them for anything if we want to."

"That's not true!" Incendia interjected. "You teleported from that staircase!"

Jigsaw entered the conversation. "That was out of my control, and it nearly killed me."

"Jigsaw's right," Tiptoe said soothingly. "We're going to try to use the fragments to undo all of the wrong. We're trying to help. Maybe we can use their powers for good instead!"

Incendia stared at Tiptoe's face for several moments, then turned her eyes upwards towards the moon.

"I've never seen it this big before," she said, under her breath. "It's beautiful."

They stayed like that for what seemed like hours, the three ponies staring up at the moon, a single pinprick of flame burning brightly in a world of darkness and cold.

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