• Published 10th Jul 2011
  • 17,192 Views, 991 Comments

Antipodes - PK

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

  • ...

Antipodes- Chapter 25


Chapter 25

by PK

Jigsaw stepped out into the cold, wintry breeze and surveyed the city below him. Hundreds of pinpricks of light shimmered from the streets below, a mixture of dim yellow bulbs and bright blue magical flames. He noticed something he hadn't the night he arrived- there was a distinct distribution of magical lights versus mundane. Their cabin was on the south slope of the valley that Totemhoof sat in, giving Jigsaw a good view of the whole city. The farther east he looked, the more common the arcane lights became, culminating in the giant, decrepit radio tower on the west hill, complete with the mysterious glowing silver orb and shimmering cables snaking up it’s side. As he looked west, the blue lights became less and less common until they were almost totally replaced by electric lights. The building architecture changed noticeably as well. On the east side, huge, sweeping structures of wood or metal were common, while smaller, more practical designs were more common in the west.

What captured Jigsaw's attention most, however, was the radio tower on the top of the east hill. Jigsaw could feel something emanating from it- some strange, attractive power. He figured there must be a fragment of Luna here- the Luna worship and the mysterious shielding from the outside world was a dead giveaway. What troubled him was why he couldn't sense it until just now, and why the sensation was so faint. Were these ponies abusing the power of the goddess as well?

All these thoughts rushed through his head in the few moments he spent walking down the lane. He wanted to go west, but hesitated. The prospect of exploring without Tiptoe and Incendia was not appealing to him. If ever a situation called for stealth, this was it, and he still wasn't sure if he could pull off any defensive magic after his healing spell on Tiptoe.

It didn't take him long before his natural curiosity overcame him. He figured that he didn't need to sneak in to anywhere- not yet, at least. He had no reason to suspect these ponies of wrongdoing, and besides, it wouldn't hurt to get a closer look.

He set off towards the radio tower.

As he made his way down the streets of Totemhoof, he couldn't help but take mental notes about the city. He had no way of telling how old the city was- it was clearly scavenged from old world materials, but they were pristine and expertly assembled- sheets of metal riveted together rather professionally. It wasn't anything like Stalliongrad, with its thrown-together ramshackle huts. These were proper buildings.

By far, the most ornate buildings he saw were the temples. There was one almost on every street corner. Though some were small and unimposing, most were decorated with gigantic statues of the moon or of ponies groveling at Luna's hooves. Jigsaw shifted uncomfortably. Something about the temples didn't sit right with him.

He didn't want this town to have any dark secrets. Stalliongrad had been bad enough. Were all the cities in the world like this? Squirreled away in hidden valleys or hiding behind walls, protected only through by whatever small power of the goddesses were left?

He didn't know why he cared so much. This whole thing had brought him nothing but trouble. He didn't even know that the goddesses still existed at all until he had left the caves. When he was a colt, he read everything he could get his hooves on- old world technical manuals, contemporary cave fungus growing techniques, fictional novels of great cities existing deep under the caves. The books had always painted a beautiful image of the surface world before the fall and the Grand Cataclysm. His favorite thing in the library, though, even more than the books, was the mural that was painted across the cave roof, which had been carefully smoothed and flattened by the cave's original inhabitants- the first generation of survivors. It showed a group of ponies of all different types standing on a lush, green hill as the rose crested over it in the background. In the far left corner of the mural, the huge, steel door that blocked the cave off from the conditions of surface life was swung wide open. Buildings could be seen in the background, black against the rising sun. Written underneath it, in old world text, was the phrase "To the Future."

Jigsaw scoffed spitefully at the thought. He wasn't even sure there was a future to be had, here. Sure, the buildings here seemed to be ornate and civilized, but they were still living in the past instead of looking to the future. Ten thousand years had passed, but you wouldn't think more than a few decades if you looked at it.

And where did Tantalus fit into all of this? Jigsaw still didn't understand what role he played in all this. What could he possibly stand to gain from all this? Why didn't he take the fragments for himself, when he clearly knew where they were and knew Jigsaw was looking for them? And, perhaps most pressingly, what in Equestria was he, really?

He had been hopeful that, after Incendia had dropped the statue on his eye, that he was gone for good, but the more he thought about it, the less sure he was. Tantalus hadn't left a corpse- he had vanished, disappeared in a puff of green smoke. Plus, Jigsaw was sure he would know if he had really been killed. Whatever strange effects hosting the goddesses had on him had always made his head pound and his stomach twist when Tantalus was nearby, and he felt sure he would have felt in some way if he was gone forever.

Jigsaw shook his head and tried to focus on the matter at hand. He didn't like to let his mind wander too much. It never helped anything.

He passed through a street that was lined with carts, each with a loud, fast-talking pony trying to hawk his or her wares. They sold everything from shovels and shears to silver moon necklaces. Jigsaw was tempted to stop at a cart that was selling healing potions, but quickly realized he had no money. He made a mental note to come back if he ever got his hooves on any, however- he was almost certain another trick like healing Tiptoe would kill him. He couldn't count on being able to pull off another feat like that. He wasn't even sure how he did it the first time, but he had a feeling the freshly absorbed Luna fragment had helped.

He wished there was a book on the whole thing that could explain it.

As he pushed his way west, he couldn't help but notice that the crowds in the streets began to get thinner and thinner. Fewer shops were open, and most of the windows were dark. Eevn some of the temples looked as though they had been empty for a long time. One even had a broken window.

It wasn't long before Jigsaw was standing alone at the foot of a huge stone archway build into the side of the hill, directly under the radio tower. Jigsaw hadn't even seen another pony for almost five blocks. He began to get uneasy. Had he broken some kind of unspoken rule by coming here?

He began to turn and walk away when the wooden door to the temple creaked open, causing Jigsaw to nearly jump out of his skin. It was the old priest that had greeted them when they first came to Totemhoof.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I- I was just wandering around," Jigsaw said. "I'm sorry if I'm not supposed to be here, I just-"

"You aren't supposed to be over here," the elderly pony said, but his eyes were soft. "But, I suppose I can let it go this once, since you are so new. Interested in the church, eh?" he said, smiling.

"Yes," Jigsaw lied. He was relieved he hadn't gotten in trouble on his first day in the new city.

"Come inside, then," the priest said.

Jigsaw followed him inside, and the massive wooden door slung shut behind him. The interior was a rounded tunnel, lit by glowing crystals, which jutted out of the walls at irregular intervals.

"Are those magical?" Jigsaw asked, nodding his head towards one of the formations.

"Oh, yes," the priest said. "Before the fall, this was one of Equestria's largest crystal mines. That's what created this whole valley, you know- the mines."

Jigsaw's interest was piqued. "What kinds of crystals were down here? Spell-fixing or focusing?"

The priest looked at him and smiled again. "Ah, a scholar of the arcane sciences, are you?"

Jigsaw nodded.

"I used to study magic myself in my youth, though I understand you Stalliongrad folk had a much deeper knowledge than I ever did. Both kinds of crystals were found here, and still are. It's how we keep much of the city powered, and why we were so slow to adopt electricity."

The old pony studied Jigsaw for a moment before saying "Come with me. I have something that I think might interest you. I'll tell you more about Luna along the way."

Jigsaw followed the unicorn down the tunnel, which sloped downwards at a gentle angle. The priest began to inform Jigsaw of the history of Totemhoof.

"We're not very old; at least, not compared to Stalliongrad. Totemhoof was established 1,750 years ago, roughly.”

"It wasn't occupied after the fall? Why?" Jigsaw asked.

"I do not know. I wasn't there. Our records only go far as back as that. The valley has always had a natural cloud cover, but it was only the great Silverwind- my ancestor- that uncovered how to work the weather to keep us hidden from Tantalus."

"The weather keeps you hidden?" Jigsaw asked, intrigued.

"Indeed. The secrets have long since been lost to us, but so long as we keep enough cloud above us, we remain hidden from the outside world. Tantalus only knows our general location, and if he wanted to, he could dive headfirst into the fog and never find us."

"I've never heard of anything like that," Jigsaw said. He hesitated for a moment, then asked, “How does it work?”

"We have no idea.," the old priest sighed. A few yards ahead, the tunnel ended in a small door cut into a stone wall. The priest paused when he reached it and turned to stare at Jigsaw. "You... you remind me of myself, when I was younger. I'm about to show you something, but I need to know if I can trust you. Can I trust you?"

"Yes," Jigsaw answered warily.

The priest's horn ignited and the stone door swung inward, bathing the tunnel in light. He signaled for Jigsaw to walk in, and he complied.

Jigsaw blinked. For a moment, he thought he was back in the main chamber of his home. The cavern was immense and clearly not natural. Cement pillars rose from the ground and up into the darkness of the ceiling. The walls looked to have been hastily excavated, as they were rife with craters and pits, but as Jigsaw looked up, the wall became smooth. Up near the top, metal plates were bolted on the smooth, sandy colored stone. Crystals jutted out of the excavated pits, providing light to the room. But, the most notable aspect of the space, by far, was what lay in the center.

A huge pit, at least a hundred feet in diameter, was dug into the ground. This pit wasn’t rough like the ones on the walls, however- the walls had been smoothed and a firm-looking wooden staircase spiraled down along the rim. From the center rose an enormous crystal sculpture of an alicorn, the largest Jigsaw had ever seen. It had clearly been hewn from an even larger crystal- every facet of the sculpture glistened and gleamed. Unlike the formations jutting from the walls, this one didn’t shine with blue light; instead, it pulsed gently with a soft, silvery glow.

“What is it?” Jigsaw asked.

“Our most sacred treasure,” the priest said. “Legend holds that, when this area was first settled, our ancestors found the tunnel to this place. Most of the metal buildings you see out there were salvaged from here. Our best guess was this once was an industrial warehouse, but that was so long ago all reliable records are lost. When somepony was prying up a floorboard, they found the tip of a crystal poking out. They began to dig. Many other crystal deposits were discovered, but most of them were scarcely larger than a pony. But this crystal in particular never seemed to end. The deeper they dug, the more crystal there was. Finally, after months of effort, they had unearthed the whole thing. Legend holds it was twice as large as it is now.”

Jigsaw tried to imagine that- a crystal almost the size of a dragon.

“Our ancestors began to cut up the crystal to use in various mechanisms. It’s a spell-fixing crystal, you see, but it has the unusual attribute of being able to hold a spell almost indefinently. That’s what made me join the church as a youth, incidentally- the chance to study this magnificent natural phenomena up close.”

“So this isn’t a secret?” Jigsaw asked.

“Yes and no. It was a secret from you. You must understand, Jigsaw, Luna commands us to help those in need, but if we gave away all our secrets so freely… We can’t afford to trust so implicitly.”

“Then why trust me?” Jigsaw asked.

The priest regarded him for a moment. “I’ve lived a long life, you know. I know how to take the measure of a pony. I don’t think you mean us any harm.”

“Then why is the part of town above us closed off?”

The priest didn’t meet Jigsaw’s gaze. “Some secrets you would be happier not knowing.”

This sent up red flags in Jigsaw’s mind immediately, but on some level, he agreed.

Jigsaw turned back towards the crystal. “Is there more to your story?”

“Yes,” the priest confirmed. “This is where it gets confusing. Legend states that after so much of the crystal had been cut up, the elders decided to carve the rest into a sculpture dedicated to the mighty Luna, our protector. Then… then the legend states that the ‘essence of the gods’ was introduced into the crystal and ‘locked away beneath key and spell, awaiting the Uniter.’”

“What does that mean?” Jigsaw asked.

“There is a door at the far end of the cavern. Many have tried, but it cannot be breached by any means. Still, once a year, many pilgrimage down here and try to open it in an attempt to find the Uniter.”

Jigsaw had a sinking feeling he knew exactly what that was, but he knew better than to speak up. Instead, he asked, “Can I get closer?”

“Of course. You’re welcome to touch, too, if you so desire.”

Jigsaw made his way closer to the sculpture. His mind was working overtime. On one hoof, he was relieved- the town actually did seem to be more or less what it had presented itself. But why were parts of the town closed off? What exactly did this crystal mean, and what was behind the door?

The light from within the sculpture seemed to pulse faster, as if responding to Jigsaw’s agitated mental state. Jigsaw’s horn began to tingle as though it had pins and needles. He made his way down the spiraling staircase until he stood at the bottom of the structure. It was even more impressive than before, standing almost three stories high. Upon close inspection, Jigsaw was able to see that the crystal was tinged blue, though the color was almost entirely drowned out by the white light.

Tentatively, Jigsaw reached out a hoof and laid it against the surface of the crystal. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting- a great surge of power, the revelation of the location of the fragment, or something equally as impressive. Instead, all that happened was his hoof begun to tingle as well, like it had fallen asleep.

“Can you feel anything?” the priest called.

“Just a sort of tingling,” Jigsaw called back.

“Some of us can feel it. Most of us can’t. It’s good to know you ponies from Stalliongrad are not dead to the goddesses."

Jigsaw made his way back up the staircase, and soon stood next to the priest again.

“I have two more questions,” he asked.

“Oh?” the priest said, an eyebrow raising.

“Why Luna? What about Celestia?”

The priest smiled. “You will forgive an old unicorn for forgetting to explain. We respect Celestia also, but she is not our patron. We do not find protection under the sun, nor do we find peace. Luna represents the ability to overcome our own worst nature. She encourages us to face our fears head-on and not to doubt ourselves. Celestia is far more passionate and quick to action. Luna recommends cautious action. Do you know the legend of Nightmare Moon?”

“Of course,” Jigsaw said. “Every foal in the-“ he caught himself just in time. He had about to say “the caves.” “-place I grew up knew the old stories.”

“Good,” the priest said. “That’s an example of what I mean. That story illustrates that, sometimes, even the best of us fall from grace, but that nopony is lost for good.”

Jigsaw nodded. “I understand. I do have one more question.”


“What is the radio tower?”

The priest frowned. “That is a mystery even to us. The old legends make no mention of it other than as a marker of the east, and none can approach it. It seems to be masked with the same magic that protects this city. If somepony attempts to approach it from the ground or the air, they will appear to be walking directly towards it- until they suddenly come out the other side, or worse, stumble off the clouds up above. Strange as it is, Totemhoof could not exist without it. It’s first and most obvious use it regulating our day and night cycle. It turns off and on on a strict 12-hour schedule. What’s less obvious is that we grow our crops by it’s light. Indirect and filtered by cloud though it may be, any crop it touches grows hardy and strong. I believe it to be a gift from Luna herself.”

Jigsaw nodded silently and turned to look at the crystal again.

“Can I have some time alone here?” Jigsaw asked.

The priest hesitated for a moment, then smiled. “Certainly. I will be outside if you need anything.”

As soon as the priest disappeared in the darkness of the exit, Jigsaw’s horn began to glow, and his saddlebags undid themselves. Jigsaw felt awful, having had to lie to the kindly priest so often, but Jigsaw had no idea how he would react if he knew the truth. It was better not to tell him.

The pieces of the teleporter came floating lazily out and arranged themselves in front of Jigsaw. He found what he was looking for, and with a small amount of effort, a small ball of metal came floating out. He placed the other components on the ground and began to focus on the small ball. The top of it lifted off, revealing the tiny sphere of crystals within. Each one was held in place by a thin metal rod. Jigsaw had found it when he was tinkering with the device by fireside, but he hadn’t thought much of it until now. An array of focusing crystals was aligned all around the spell-fixing matrix- the gem that held the teleportation spell. With great care, Jigsaw pried it from the inside of the sphere and levitated it to himself.

It was a deep red, almost mahogany colored, and opaque. A very large crack ran down the length of the gem along with several smaller cracks to either side. Any magical properties it once had had long since been leeched out of it.

Jigsaw grasped it in his mouth and led it over to the statue in the center of the room and gingerly touched the point of it to the surface of the statue, saying a silent prayer to Luna to fix the gem. He knew it was a long shot, but stranger things had happened to him.

Nothing happened for a few seconds, then the gem suddenly got very hot, so hot that Jigsaw had to spit it out and back away. To his surprise, however, the gem did not fall to the ground. Instead, it stuck to the statue, quivering, as though the point had been driven into the surface like a knife into the earth.

Then it burst into flames, burning brightly for several moments, before it was consumed. It didn’t even leave ashes.

Jigsaw was stunned. He hadn’t expected that to happen. He had hardly expected anything at all to happen. Now he had no way of repairing the teleporter.

He cursed under his breath before gathering up all the parts and stuffing them back into his saddlebag. He still had one thing he wanted to try before he left.

After almost five minutes of walking through what he know realized was a truly gigantic underground space, he arrived at the far side. He almost snorted with laughter when he found what he was looking for. The legendary locked door that nopony had been able to open for almost two thousand years was nothing more than a simple maintenance door, identical to the one he had encountered immediately after escaping the caves. The writing on the door was in the old language and almost entirely unrecognizable. In the center of the door, like a bull’s-eye, was a small hole, intended for a unicorn horn.

Jigsaw took a deep breath. Did he really want to do this alone? This might be his only chance to enter without arousing suspicion, but he still wasn’t up to his full strength.

Eventually, his curiosity won out, and he lowered his horn into the receptacle.

He nearly passed out from the shock. There were powerful enchantments on this door, dozens if not hundreds of wards to keep out all but the authorized user. The protective magic weighed down on Jigsaw as though a boulder had been suddenly dropped on his back. He wanted to shout out, but he thought better of it.

Then after a few moments, he felt the spells snap. There was a blinding flash of light, and a retort like a firecracker, and the door swung open.

Jigsaw stood there, panting. If he hadn’t been completely sure there was a fragment somewhere in this town, he was now. Nothing could possess a pony to cast a spell that powerful unless they had something valuable to hide.

He stepped inside, and the door swung shut behind him. There was a rush of air and a feeling of intense heat, and Jigsaw knew that the spell had set itself again. At least he didn’t have to worry about being followed.

He was in a simple, unadorned metal hallway. Rusty and corroded pipes ran along the roof and flecks of paint could be seen peeling off the walls. Jigsaw set off at a trot, taking note of all the rooms he passed.

This seemed to once be a barracks of some kind. Metal frames that must have once held mattresses were lined up against walls in almost uniform distribution. Something about the place felt familiar, but he couldn’t quite place what.

Soon, he reached the end of the hallway. A thick, rectangular ventilation shaft seemed to have fallen from the ceiling to his left, all but blocking the path, so he set down the right passageway.

Then, like he had walked straight into a pole, it hit him. He knew this place because he had been somewhere almost identical before. Before they got to Stalliongrad- the strange building with all the Celestia symbols that they had almost trapped themselves in- this place was almost exactly the same.

Jigsaw tested his theory the next spot he found where there had clearly once been paint. He took a deep breath and blew the dust off the wall, and there it was. The outline was faint, but there had clearly once been a moon insignia on the wall.

Totemhoof was built on the former site of an underground bunker belonging to the Luna side of the Grand Cataclysm.

It didn’t take Jigsaw long to find the bank of computers where he had nearly trapped himself before. He knew better than to turn them on this time around, though the temptation was strong. Instead, he headed off through one of the doorways and down a staircase.

The rest of his trip was uneventful. The place had clearly been picked clean eons ago- probably by whoever had enchanted the door. Jigsaw was on the verge of giving up and going home before he found something extremely out of place.

He had just finished climbing down another flight of stairs. By this point, he was so deep his ears had popped. The hallway that stretched out before him was only a few yards long, and it ended with another door. This door, however, was clearly not original to the facility. It was made of wood and engraved with the cycles of the moon. Jigsaw’s heart leapt when he saw it- it was obvious what was behind this door!

When he opened it, he could hardly believe his eyes.

He was standing on a catwalk near the top of another immense room, though not quite as large as the room with the statue. What drew his eye immediately was what was in the center.

Docked to a large tower was a Lunar Battleship.

He had seen diagrams and pictures in books in the library where he grew up, of course, but he never thought I had seen one in real life. It looked as though the years had taken a toll on it, though. In the pictures, it looked huge and majestic, soaring through the air over crowds of cheering ponies. Flown by Luna herself, it was supposed to be a huge armored balloon, impenetrable even by dragonfire, the perfect melding of magic and machine, the ultimate in pre-fall war technology, able to staff a crew of almost thirty ponies. The mast at the front of the ship depicted a pegasus soaring towards the skies.

This one did not look nearly so good. The floor beneath it was scattered with tiny pieces of metal, indicating parts had fallen off of it. The balloons still looked inflated, amazingly, but the mast had corroded to a near-unrecognizable state. Jigsaw’s first thoughts were that their vehicle problems were solved- with this, they could sail around the entire world in a matter of weeks, and even stand a fighting chance of beating off Tantalus’s attacks.

Soon, though, reality set in. If this thing could even fly- which he doubted more and more as he looked at it- there was no way it’s more advanced offensive and defensive systems were operational.

Then an even more bizarre thought hit him. Why had they docked an airship hundreds of feet underground? More pressingly, how?

Eventually, he tore his eyes away from the ship and began to inspect the rest of the room. The ceiling seemed to be made of strange glass- Jigsaw had no idea why that was. Then he found what he had been looking for. In one far corner of the room the panels had been torn off the wall and a small recess had been dug into the wall, revealing more crystals. In the center of all these, floating serenely, was the fragment of Luna. The crystals all around it were pulsing with the same soft white light as the statue above had, and strange, heavy wires were attached to the crystals and ran up into the ceiling. Jigsaw realized with a jolt that these were the same cables he had seen distantly running up the side of the decrepit radio tower.

“That’s one mystery solved, at least,” Jigsaw said to himself.

He made his way down a narrow industrial-looking spiral staircase to where the fragment lay. He was almost upon it before he screeched to a halt. If he absorbed this fragment, what would that mean to Totemhoof? It seemed as though this was their source of life. At the very least, it was the thing that allowed them to grow food. They weren’t stealing its power like Stalliongrad was. No, they had been resourceful and found out how to use the power of the fragment to their advantage without committing terrible crimes. Jigsaw had no idea how they managed to discover the fragment’s effects on crystals, but he had no doubt they would disappear if he took the fragment away. He couldn’t do that to the town that had taken him- and many Stalliongrad refugees- in and kept them safe. He needed to talk to Tiptoe and Incendia.

He retraced his steps back up through the facility, which wasn’t difficult, as he’d cut a wide swath through the dust on his way down. He unlocked the door leading to the chamber with the statue, and closed it carefully behind him. He made his way swiftly towards the door at the other end. He had no idea how long he had been down there, but he doubted the priest wasn’t suspicious by now. Much to his surprise and relief, however, the priest wasn’t waiting for him outside the door. Instead, he found him near the exit, standing in the waning light from the radio tower above.

“You spent a while down there,” he observed. “I don’t blame you. It strikes each of us differently.”

“It was… an experience,” Jigsaw said with a nervous chuckle.

“It was nice to meet you, Jigsaw,” the priest said.

“You, too,” Jigsaw said, setting off towards home.

But after only a few steps something made him pause. He turned to face the old priest.

“Who are you? What’s your name?”

The old priest smiled. “The important thing is that you know yours. You’ve been through a lot, I can tell. Seen things nopony should have to see. But it’s important you never lose track of your own identity. You’re very troubled, Jigsaw, but I know you have a good heart.”

Jigsaw said. “Thank you again,” he said, and began to canter away.

“Moonbow,” the priest called when Jigsaw was nearly out of the church courtyard. “My name is Moonbow.”

Jigsaw arrived at the house to find it empty. He was concerned that something had happened to the other two, but after only a few moments, he heard hoofsteps outside the front door. Incendia and Tiptoe entered, the smiles on their faces dropping as they saw Jigsaw’s face.

“We need to talk.”

Jigsaw gave them a detailed account of everything he had done that day. When he finished, nopony said a word.

“We can’t take the fragment away from these ponies,” Incendia said. “They don’t deserve that. And… and this is the only place my people have left.”

“Absolutely not,” Tiptoe agreed.

“I don’t think so either, but we’re going to have to eventually. We can’t just leave it here.”

“Maybe there’s some way around it!” Tiptoe said eagerly. “Some way to take the fragment and still keep the city functioning.”

“If you know it, feel free to tell me,” Jigsaw said. “I’m open to ideas.”

Tiptoe went silent, blushing slightly.

“Thought not. Now, I think we should focus on the two things we can do something about- the airship and whatever is causing the whole east side of the city to be effectively off limits. Do you know anything about that?”

Tiptoe shook her head, but Incendia spoke up.

“I saw a huge squadron of armed ponies filing out of one of those churches. I know a military action when I see it, and that was one on a massive scale.”

“They’re fighting something?” Tiptoe said. “What could it possibly be?”

“I want to say Tantalus,” Jigsaw said, “but I doubt he would attack so overtly. I don’t think he has any way to know our location, anyway. I don’t sense him nearby.”

“Those goddess-powers are kinda scary, Jigsaw,” Incendia said, smiling slightly.

“Scary, but useful,” he said.

“Can we discuss this in the morning?” Tiptoe said, yawning. “I’m exhausted.”

“Agreed,” said Incendia. “I’m completely burnt-out.”

Jigsaw groaned, but he couldn’t help but smile. It didn’t hurt that Tiptoe’s yawn had been just about the most adorable thing he had ever seen.

“Alright, we’ll call it a day for today and reconvene in the morning. Goodnight, everypony.”

As if on cue, the light from the radio tower snuffed out, signaling the start of night.

Jigsaw and Tiptoe made their way into the bedroom and the brunt of Jigsaw’s exhaustion finally hit him. Climbing all those stairs had taken more out of him than he had thought. He flopped onto the soft mattress, thankful he had something more comfortable to sleep on that dirt and twigs.

Tiptoe snuggled in alongside him, and they fell into deep, if not entirely untroubled, sleep.