• Published 6th Aug 2014
  • 1,788 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 14

Author's Note:

And so the story continues... sorry for the delay, but for some reason I couldn't download anything onto the site the last few months. I will try to become more regular with these updates.... but no promises. Life is life, and must be dealt with as necessary.

King Sombra stood for a moment, not quite believing his guards had just walked into some kind of trap. Lowering his head, he cast a spell at the door, anticipating it would open. Instead, the spell rebounded and the door remained closed. He cursed silently under his breath. Of course his spell wouldn’t work. The door was made of cold iron. He would have to think of another way of opening it. He paused for a moment and listened. Aside from a slight vibration he could feel in his hooves, the unicorn could hear nothing through the door.

“Most ponies knock before entering someone’s home, but I suppose your sire didn’t raise you to think of such courtesies.”

The witch king turned. There at the far end of the hall was the same strangely colored zebra they’d been chasing.
“Who are you?” the unicorn growled.

“You’ve gotta catch me if you want to know that.” The annoying pony charged off, back the way he’d come. Sombra galloped after him. When he reached a turn in the hall the unicorn could still see his opponent some distance ahead. He cast another spell, turning the floor beneath the zebra’s hooves to slick, smooth chrystal. However, instead of sliding head-first into a wall the creature stopped, stuck out his tongue and gave Sombra a loud, irritating razz-berry before cantering around another the next corner.

The unicorn smiled to himself and did not pursue. He had noticed that the ‘zebra’ had cast no reflection in the chrystal. It had to be an illusion, and for an illusion to work, the spell-caster had to be within line of sight.

Coram oculis ultra.” A bright flash filled the hallway. Every nook and cranny, every possible hiding place was instantly revealed to the witch king. Nothing. Despite the power of his spell he saw nothing. No opponent, no threat, no target on which to focus his growing frustration. Scowling, he turned and galloped back to the iron door, never once looking directly up.

From his perch in the rafters Big Mac watched Sombra run back the way he’d come. The stallion nodded silently to himself. He saw what he’d been expecting, what he’d been hoping for. It seemed there were many things about this world that were identical to his own. The unicorn has shown him a weakness he could exploit. He launched himself and spread his wings, careful not to let them brush against anything that could cause even the smallest noise. It only took a few seconds to silently spiral to the floor.

The alicorn looked around for something useful. He quickly spotted a particular bit of furnishing that might just help him. He peeked around the corner just enough to see that Sombra’s attention was focused on the iron door. Using his magic, he positioned the accouterments near the turn in the hallway, then cast a pair of simple spells.

Focused as he was on the door, Sombra felt, more than heard a presence behind him. He turned and saw once more the illusionary zebra as it walked boldly into the hall and stood next to a window.

“Hey... Yer Majesty... How’d ya bend yer horn up like that? Run inta too many walls face first?” the Zebra taunted.

The witch king scowled for an instant, but as he glared passed the illusion he suddenly saw the reflection of a red-furred alicorn in a mirror just where the hallway turned. He twisted, as if to face the zebra, then suddenly lowered his head and cast a powerful spell, aiming it to reflect off the mirror and paralyze the figure just beyond. In an instant, the mirror, the door, and everything within twenty paces of it was encased in solid crystal.

Sombra smiled and trotted forward to make sure his intended target was thoroughly immobilized; triumphantly striding past the illusionary zebra in the process. The unicorn started and abruptly whirled, realizing his mistake too late. A pair of hooves nailed him in the face, snapping off his horn and sending him flying into the far wall.

The zebra vanished, revealing a bemused Big Mac. There wasn’t anything quite as satisfying as a good old fashioned Apple family double-hooved buck. The alicorn looked down at the figure lying on the floor. A black, bone ring lay next to the pony’s head, spinning on edge after having fallen off what was left of his horn. He felt a slight pang of guilt over the broken horn, remembering back to Prince Blueblood, but knew that given time it would grow back. The crystal spells that had been cast about the room evaporated into nothingness.

Taking a step forward, Big Mac crushed the bone ring under his hoof. There was a wail of anger and frustration and a black cloud of ash exploded upward bearing the witch king’s face. The farmer paused to look at the unconscious unicorn, half expecting to see Celestia’s troublesome nephew once more. Surprisingly, though white, this pony was much lankier and sported a red mane and tail and a barber’s blue and white striped vest. It took the alicorn a moment before he remembered where he’d seen him before. In that instant, something struck Big Mac hard in the back.

The blow was enough to catapult him into a nearby wall. Momentarily stunned, he sagged to his hooves and shook his head, trying desperately to clear it. He struggled to swing around, his limbs and barrel suddenly becoming quite heavy and hard to move. Twisting his neck, he was able to see he was now half embedded within a chrystal coating. It rapidly climbed his neck, trapping him as it spread across the rest of his body. Within seconds, he was fully encased, though he was still able to see and hear through the transparent, black sheath. A long, evil laugh echoed down the hall, followed by a shadow that materialized from the darkness. The farmer’s eyes went wide when he saw that it was Sombra.

“I have not survived a thousand or more years without learning a few tricks, Princeling.” The king’s tone was jeering and he smiled at Big Mac wickedly. “True, your alicorn magic trumps any other pony’s in this world, but you are a mere novice when compared to one such as me. Power is best served by knowledge, and that is something you sadly lack.” The witch king triumphantly paced around the red-furred stallion. “Now, the only thing left to do is find and gather up your friends and the elements before they can be turned against us... Not that they have much of a chance of figuring them out without your help.”

*********

“Look at this,” Trixie motioned to the others. They quickly gathered around the blue-furred unicorn.

“What is it?” asked Fluttershy.

“The symbol on the floor... it’s not right,” the mare mage said excitedly.

“I’ll say it’s not.” Rarity replied. “Rococo is so old school... I would have expected the princesses to have had something that would match the décor much better, like an early Baroque.”

“If it’s not Baroque... why fix it?” Pinkie chanted with a grin.

“That’s not what I meant,” groaned the fashionista.

“That’s not what Trixie meant either. Trixie means look at the compass rose. It’s pointing north.”

“So?” asked Babs.

“When this place was built, magnetic north was over there.” The mage aimed a hoof about sixteen degrees to the left.

Rainbow wrinkled her nose. “So the compass spins... so what?”

“If this part of the floor moves, there has to be some kind of mechanism underneath. Add the fact it’s located right at the base of the thrones. Now imagine you’re an all-powerful alicorn princess. You live in a somewhat chaotic world. Where would you put your most powerful magic?”

Babs patted her concealed sidearm. “Where I can get to it... fast.”

Fluttershy gasped. “Then this must be...”

“...Where the elements are hidden,” Pinkie finished in her sing-song voice.

“Quick,” said Rainbow, “Look around. There has to be a switch or button or something here.”

All six ponies spread out and began searching. Tapping her chin thoughtfully, Trixie looked around, then cautiously climbed the steps of the dais. If the triggering mechanism for the elements was here, then it might be booby-trapped itself to prevent any accidental discovery of the secret. She wasn’t absolutely certain this was the answer, but it did make more than a little sense. She glanced up through the shattered dome and saw two dozen changelings pounding against the green shield above. She and her friends didn’t have much time to waste examining the room.

The mage quickly examined the two thrones. Each were identical except for the symbol emblazed on the back rest. One was that of the sun, while the other was the moon. Each had a set of raised jewels along the arms, green, blue, red, amber and orange. Carefully, Trixie pressed on the green gem. Nothing happened. She had the same result when she tested the others. Pausing for a moment, she considered the set-up, then abruptly sat down in what would have been Celestia’s throne. A thick cloud of dust billowed out of the cushion as it practically disintegrated beneath her rump. She coughed for a moment or two, then pressed down on the first green gem. Still nothing.

“What the hay are you doing?” asked Rainbow Dash. “Looking for a promotion to princess?”

“No... Trixie’s... I mean I’m trying to puzzle out that compass rose.”

“Youse look kinda ridiculous sitting on a throne that’s way too big for you,” Babs observed.

The mage’s eyes widened as a thought came to mind. “You’re right! I do!” She looked over at Rarity. “You’ve got a good eye... How much bigger would you say Celestia was compared to me?”

“Well, judging from some old fashion photos I once had, She was about three times the average pony’s size.”

“Good. Now would you come up here and sit on my lap?” Trixie asked.

“I beg your pardon... But a lady never would sit in anypony’s lap, unless that pony were her special some pony.”

“Please,” Trixie asked, “I’m trying to figure something out. Would you just sit in my lap.”

“Well,” responded Rarity, “if you really think it would help....” She gracefully trotted over and after a few false starts, delicately sat atop Trixie.

“Now for you, Dash.”

“No way am I going to sit there... What do take me fore, a filly fooler?”

The mage sighed. “I don’t take you for anything other than a few extra pounds. Now get down here!”

Reluctantly, Rainbow joined the other two, hovering a foot or two above them before abruptly folding her wings and plopping loudly into Rarity’s lap.

“OOOFF!... Rainbow, was that really necessary?” the fashionista complained.

“No... but it was fun,” the pegasus grinned. She looked back at Trixie. “Now what?”

“Hold on... I’m not sure what will happen.” The white maned pony pressed firmly on the green gem. There was an audible click and a panel opened in the wall behind the two thrones.

“Oh... that looks like a secret passage,” said Rarity. “Probably so the princesses could escape the pressures of court.”

“Maybe.” Trixie pressed the blue gem. The door behind them slid closed. Next she tried the red jewel. Again, there was loud click and both thrones rotated towards each other. “I’m guessing this was so Luna and Celestia could talk to each other face to face during the royal court” Pressing the gem a second time rotated the seats to face the front of the throne room.

“This doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere,” Rainbow Dash complained

“No, it doesn’t, but as they say, third times the charm.” Trixie pressed firmly on the orange gem. The entire dais abruptly shuddered and a grinding sound, like massive stones rubbing against each other filled the chamber. The compass rose in front of the throne dropped about half a foot, startling Babs and Fluttershy who were both standing on it. They leapt clear, then watched as the massive disc split in half and opened up, revealing a deep, dark pit. All six ponies gasped as a great, copper-sheathed orrery rose until it towered above them all.

There was a metallic clank, and the device started moving, spinning its brindled arms about in a slow, methodical dance. The copper was streaked with tarnish and age, but the mechanism seemed to work to perfection.

“Will you look at that!” muttered Rarity. “The thing’s positively filthy.” She climbed off Trixie’s lap along with Rainbow. The three mares stood around the device and watched it move hypnotically.

“That’s not as important as what’s up there,” said Fluttershy, pointing with her hoof. The other mares looked. Mounted at the end of each of the arms was a spherical stone.

“Are those...?” asked Babs.

“They might be,” replied Dash. “Come on... Let’s get a closer look. With that the pegasus pony moved in toward the orrery, hovering less than a foot from stone. “Hey, this one has a diamond carved on the stone!”

“And this one has a cloud with a lightning bolt,” said Fluttershy, joining Rainbow in her hover. “I think these are our cutie marks.”

Pinkie Pie giggled. “Hey Babs... I think I see one with a badge on it... It must be yours.”

“So howse do we get ‘em down off that contraption?” the police pony asked.

Trixie stepped forward and studied the mechanism for several moments, then smiled. “Trixie has this.” She closed her eyes and concentrated. Her horn began glowing as each of the stones was enveloped by the same glow. Pushing her magic, she tripped a release catch on the arms of the orrery. There was a ratchetty, metallic clank and the stones floated free. The orrery slowed to a stop and each orb gently floated down to the base of the dais where the blue furred mage lined them up. Sure enough, every stone had a matching symbol for five of the six ponies. There was, however, nothing showing a moon and wand on it.

“Gee... Where’s yours Trixie?” Asked Pinkie. “How come you don’t get one?”

“I... I’m not sure. Maybe Trixie’s is hidden somewhere else. Maybe...” She stopped talking when a sharp, almost deafening crackling sound filled the room. Everypony looked up. Above them the green shield seemed to be slowly fracturing even as the changelings continued to pound on it.

“Whoa.... I think it’s time to go!” the mage yelled. Whirling, she grabbed a heavy vase and started to drag it towards Celestia’s throne. Seeing her strain, Rarity added her own telekinesis to the effort and together they levitated it into the Sun Goddess’ seat. Trixie slapped at the green gem and the hidden door behind the thrones abruptly slid open once more.

“Come ON!” she cried. “Grab the stones. It’s time we made our exit.” As one, all six ponies galloped for the door.

To Be Continued...