• Published 6th Aug 2014
  • 1,806 Views, 136 Comments

The Royal Apples: Into the Land of Neverwere - Radical Gopher



Mac finds himself uncertain as to his role as the new Prince of Equestria.

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Chapter 10

Macintosh Apple looked around judging the steepness of the chasm’s walls as well as their height. He trotted over to one of the nearby rock formations and examined it. There appeared to be a number of possible hoof holds tracing their way up towards the top. He concentrated for a moment and re-lit his horn so he could get a better look. At first glance, it looked promising, until he tapped the rock with his forehoof. Small slabs crumbled off and dropped to the ground. He wasn’t exactly an expert when it came to rocks, but he recognized sedimentary shale when he saw it. Even if he could negotiate the hoof holds, they wouldn’t take his weight without crumbling beneath him.

Turning he trotted over to the other cliff only to discover it was essentially the same. Climbing wasn’t an option, at least not around here. Perhaps further down the chasm the rock face might change. Anything was possible. Big Mac tried extending his wings again, wincing in pain. He proceeded to fill the time while waiting for Rainbow to return by counting the number of splinters visible. He counted at least 180 of them. Taking hold of a small splinter with his magic, he tugged gently. After a moment or two, it popped out. “Ouch,” the stallion muttered. One down, 179 more to go. At this rate, he’d have them all out by tomorrow morning.

Big Mac sighed ruefully. Climbing was obviously not going to offer a quick fix to his current circumstance. Neither would plucking out the splinters one by one. He doubted that even working together Fluttershy and Rainbow would be able to fly him to the top of the chasm. He wondered quietly if there might be some kind of hidden path or stairway to the top. Almost as if in response to his thought his element, hidden beneath his collar, began softly glowing. He felt a tug. It wasn’t strong, barely more than a whisper in his mind, but he could feel it none the less.

The stallion looked around. There was still no sign of his companions. He debated for a moment whether to stay where he was and wait for them or not. A second tug, a bit stronger than the first, urged him to follow. Big Mac turned to face down the chasm. He began slowly walking in the direction of the pull, making sure his every fourth step left a firm indentation in the ground.

**********

“And what do youse expect us ta do even if we could get down there?” asked Babs.

“Well, if we could find a way down from this side, there’s probably a way up on the other,” Rainbow said.
“At any rate, we won’t find it just standing around here, and I am not going to get anywhere near those tree vine tentacles again, so fixing the bridge is OH... EWE... TEE!”

“I hope he hasn’t been hurt by those splinters,” whispered Fluttershy.

“Nah. He’s an alicorn prince. Nothing can hurt him. Though I have to admit, even without the splinters in his wings he isn’t much of a flyer.”

“Rainbow Dash... I will not listen to you disparaging such a noble-hearted steed,” admonished Rarity. “After all, he got those splinters rescuing you.”

THWAK... CRUNCH... THUD... “Hey everypony!” BONK... WHUD... WHAP... “I think...” SPRONG... THWAP... “I just found...”BAP... PHWANG... “some stairs...” BAMM... SLAM... FWAP... “leading down!” SPLAAAT!”

All heads turned in the direction of the voice. Sure enough, about fifty feet to the left of the broken bridge, shrouded in mist, was a long staircase which the party pony had inadvertently found.
“Youse alright there Pinkie?” Babs called.

“Okie Dokey Loki!” came the echoing response.

The police pony raised an eyebrow. “How come she ain’t hurt? No pony Ah know could take that kind of fall and just shake it off.”

“You’re talking about Pinkie-Pie darling,” Rarity said. “Her cutie mark isn’t the only thing rubbery about her.”

“What are we waiting around here for?” groaned Rainbow. “Let’s get down there and find the prince.”

“Wait, what about Trixie?” asked Fluttershy. “She still can’t walk.”

“It’s okay,” the illusionist said. “I can just wait up here until you get baaaccCCKK...WHOOP!!!”

Without warning Babs had trotted over to Trixie and positioned the mare across her back. “Sorry Ah’m not as big as ma cousin... But Ah am an Earth Pony and an Apple on my mom’s side of the family.”

“That’s quite alright... just, please, let me know if I get too heavy.”

“Youse got it.”

Carefully, the five ponies threaded their way down the long carved staircase, reaching the bottom a little slower than Pinkie.

“I hope there’s a stairway leading up on the other side,” observed Trixie

Rarity looked around. “Logically, there should be. After all, why have only one way to cross a gorge?”

“Maybe we could find it faster if Pinkie could fall up?” Babs offered, a small grin on her face.

“Oh, I wouldn’t put it past her to be able to do just that,” said Dash. “You don’t know her like we do.”
Reaching the bottom, the rainbow maned pegasus took the lead, hovering about a foot off the ground. “Bit Mac should be right around the bend there,” she pointed. The others quickly trotted after her, but all came to a stop when they found no pony waiting patiently for them.

“Where’d he go?” asked Spike.

“Well, he couldn’t have flown away,” Rainbow observed. “His wings were pin-cushioned.”

They looked around briefly until Fluttershy pointed to a set of hoof-prints crossing the chasm floor and heading into an indentation in the cliff.

“Well, this is just fabulous,” muttered Rarity in annoyance. “Here we go to all this trouble to climb down here and what happens? Our rescuee decides to go spelunking. There’s nothing like damp, dark underground passages to ruin one’s coiffure.”

“Except this one don’t look so dark,” observed Babs.

Every pony looked. Sure enough, there appeared to be a bright, greenish light coming from somewhere deep within the cave.

“Think we should investigate?” asked Trixie.

Spike stuck out his tongue, sniffing the air. “I don’t hear any screaming or horrible sounds of death, and the air smells reasonably fresh. Besides, we know Prince Macintosh is already in there and if there were traps or danger he would have triggered them. So what do we have to lose?”

“Our lives?” answered Pinkie as she bounced into the cave. Spike, Babs and Trixie looked at each other. The dragon shrugged then they quickly followed.

“Why don’t you girls go ahead and check things out?” whispered Fluttershy nervously. “I’ll stay out here and guard our escape route.” Rarity opened her mouth to protest, but Dash interrupted her.

“Good idea Flutters. You can warn us if any Chasm Dragons show up?”

“C...C...Chasm dragons?” the yellow pegasus stuttered, her eyes widening.

“Yeah. Big ones. Claws like razors and teeth like spears. You can warn us if one shows up.”

“Uh... um... Maybe on second thought I’ll stick with you guys.” She swiftly galloped after the others. Rarity looked at Dash, one eyebrow cocked higher than the other.

“Chasm dragons... really?”

“Yup. Read about them in a book.”

“Not that cheesy fantasy series will all the bad puns?”

“Hey... I like puns.” The two ponies followed the others into the cave.

Everypony except Pinkie was cautiously looking around, searching for the slightest hint of danger. The party pony however was blithely bouncing along ahead of the others.

“Isn’t that dangerous? Letting her take the lead like that?” asked Spike.

Trixie chuckled aloud. “I wouldn’t worry. The Pinkster has a kind of sixth sense, or is it seventh or eighth?” she mused aloud. “Anyway, whenever anything weird, dangerous, or uncommonly goofy is about to happen, she gets a series of twitches that warn her.”

“I didn’t know earth ponies had that kind of magical ability.”

Rarity smiled at the dragon, making his heart thump a little more. “All ponies have magic, darling. It’s just that pegasi manifest it as flight and earth ponies’ magics are focused on plants, the environment, or in the case of Pinkie’s family, rocks.”

“I already knew that... I just didn’t know it could focus on anything so... ethereal.”

“Pinkie’s a natural for that sort of thing,” Trixie replied. “After all... what’s more ethereal than laughter, or any emotion when you think about it. You can feel it for a short time, then, poof, it’s gone, except for the memory of it.”

“And the memory is part of our spirit... flowing on after our physical forms have vanished,” Spike said. “At least that’s what Zecora taught me.”

“She’s a fine Zebra,” the fashionista observed, “and a good soul.”

“I learned a lot from her. She took me in and taught me after... after... Twilight...” The adolescent dragon suddenly stopped and sniffed, running his forearm across his face to keep any tears from forming.

Seeing this, Rarity turned and threw her forelegs across his shoulder, pulling him into a silent hug which she held for a moment or two. When she let go, Spike’s cheeks were slightly flush, but he was smiling.

“I’m sorry I didn’t have a chance to get to know your Twilight better. In the short time we had together, she seemed like a knowledgeable and dedicated soul.”

“She was that,” Spike agreed. His voice became very soft, so much so that only Rarity could hear him. “What hurt most was I wasn’t there to help her when she needed me.” His face suddenly tightened into something much grimmer. “That’s not going to happen with Zecora!” he muttered.

The travelers went deeper into the cave, walking silently for several moments before coming to a stop. “Say... is it my imagination or is that light suddenly getting brighter?” observed Babs.

Pinkie responded by pulling an oversized pair of sunglasses out of her mane and plopping them over her eyes. “Nope... it’s not your imagination.” The others all shielded their eyes with their forelegs.

“Interesting,” said Trixie. “Light... but almost no heat. It’s coming from just ahead, through that opening.
“Do you think it’s safe to go in?” squeaked Fluttershy.

“That’s not the question we should be asking now,” Spike replied. “The question is... What’s in there and where’s the Prince?”

“Well... There’s only one way to answer that,” replied Rainbow. With that, she stepped through the opening. The others looked at each other briefly, then followed.

To Be Continued...

Author's Note:

Sorry for the prodigiously postponed posting, but I was horribly delayed by Life, the Universe and Everything and it took more than a little "Forty-twoed" to overcome it. Anyway, here's chapter 10 for your perusal and comment.