• 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 15

Just as they ducked into the doorway the shield above them finally shattered. Green energy evaporated, drifting away on the breeze and the changelings dove for the open dome of the throne room. Trixie turned and faced Celestia’s throne. Her horn glowed brilliantly and the massive vase sitting there was shoved off it. It fell onto its side and rolled down the steps of the dais, taking out two of Chrysalis’ minions. The blue-furred mage then used her telekinesis to push the blue gem, slamming the secret door shut before any of the changelings were quite able to figure out what had happened.

“Well,” gasped Rarity, “that was a rather narrow escape.”

“Yeah, but where are we now?” Babs asked.

“If I know my Daring Do books,” Rainbow offered, “Then this passage leads either to the kitchen, a dungeon, or Celestia’s royal suite.”

“Well, we certainly won’t find out sitting around on our flankity-flank-flanks,” Pinkie Pie suggested. “Let’s go.” She began bouncing ahead of her friends humming to herself.

“Not so loud,” warned Trixie. “The passageway echoes something fierce. We need to be really quiet.”

“Okie Dokie Loki,” the party pony whispered drawing a zipper across her lip. The ponies all stared in amazement, all except for Trixie. She smiled and looked at the others.

“She’s always doing that sort of stuff,” the mare said with a rueful smile. “Get used to it.”

The passage proved to be somewhat long and it was almost ten minutes before they reached its end. Examining the wall closely, Trixie found a small lever that was not particularly well hidden. She listened at the door for a moment, then carefully used her front hoof to push it down. The door opened into alcove containing a suit of ancient equine armor. Babs peeked around the mage and figured there was just enough room for them to comfortably squeeze by.

Stepping through, the six mares found themselves within a large library, at least three levels high. Spider webs cascaded down the shelves and across the ceiling buttresses and dozens of black spiders, each with a single, five pointed star on their abdomens.

“Oh... how horrid,” whispered Rarity as she tried to bush a clump of the sticky web out of her mane. “I’m going to need at least a week at the spa just to get this gunk out.”

Rainbow was equally disgusted, if not more direct, as she tried to push her way through the webs. “Ugg! Yuck! This place needs fumigating, something fierce.” A spider skittered across the floor in front of her and she raised a hoof, intending to smash it. Without warning Fluttershy knocked her hoof aside.

“Rainbow... don’t. They’re just harmless Star Spiders. They won’t hurt you.” The cyan pegasus looked at her friend. She was literally covered with strands of web and at least a dozen spiders. She giggled slightly as they roamed across her, their tiny legs tickling her fur.

“You know Flutters... sometimes you really come across as seriously demented.”

Trixie couldn’t help but smile. “Actually, she’s right. Star Spiders, or Preservers as they’re sometimes called, aren’t dangerous. In fact, their web as a slight, magical quality to it. Any non-living object that is wrapped up well enough tends not to suffer the effects time as much as it normally would.”

“Youse means these here books are still readable?” asked Babs.

“From the looks of things, I’d say more than 95% of this library is still relatively intact.”

“I never knew that!” smiled Fluttershy. “It makes these cute little spiders that much more valuable.”

“Well, it’s pretty common knowledge for mages who don’t have access to preservation spells for their books. I wouldn’t be surprised if Celestia herself didn’t plant this colony here before abandoning the castle.”

“It’s still gross,” muttered Rainbow.

“Judging from the look of things, I don’t think any pony’s been in here for a couple of hundred years,” muttered Fluttershy.

“I kinda wish ma cousin were here,” whispered Babs. “He’d probably know how ta get back ta Spike down in the dungeon.”

“Well, since he’s not, we’re going to have to do the best we can,” Trixie replied. Noticing a large, cobweb covered desk, she went over to it and tested out some of the drawers. She opened the first one, then waited patiently as three or four dozen spiders skittered out and made their escape. Reaching in, the mage pulled out an old, leather bound book and blew the dust and webbing off it.

“Look at this! It’s Princess Celestia’s daily calendar book.” She flipped through it for a moment or two, then paused. “Noon. Private dinner with Starswirl. Discuss current situation with Sombra and the Chrystal Empire.” She flipped another page. “Mid-Morning. Diplomatic meeting with Lord Firebrand of the Southern Dragon Clan. Invite Luna.”

“Boring,” mumbled Rainbow.

“I thought you were the one who liked Daring Do?” observed Rarity. “This is exactly the kind of thing she’d drool over. Come to think of it, this entire room has to be a historical treasure.”

Trixie put the book back in the drawer and closed it. “I think that qualifies as an understatement,” she chuckled.

“Sorry ta interrupt, but don’t youse think we should be concentrating on something a little more immediate?” asked Babs. She placed the stone orb on the desk in front of her. “Such as figuring these things out and finding the elements?”

The mage looked across at her and sighed. “Right... Back on task! Everyone bring the orb they picked up and put it on the desk. Fluttershy, Rarity and Rainbow followed Bab’s example. They all then looked at Pinkie who had, by now unzipped her mouth once more. She reached up into her mane and, after some searching brought out a spherical object, plopping it onto the desktop.

“That’s a bowling ball, Pinkie.” Trixie deadpanned.

“OH, Right! You want that other round thingy... Hang on one second.” She began a through combing of her mane, in the process of which she pulled out a fishbowl with a small, green baby alligator inside, a soccer ball with a face painted on it just above the name Wilson, and a red balloon which promptly floated up to the ceiling, carrying with it a miniature basket and two mice wearing ruffled shirts and culottes. As they ascended both began squeaking loudly.

“What was that?” Rarity asked.

“I’m not sure,” Fluttershy replied. “They sounded like they were from Prance and said their name was Montgolfier.”

“PINKIE!”

“Right... Magical rock.... got it.” She reached into her mane and pulled out the last of the stones they had removed from the orrery, placing it carefully on the desk next to the others.

“Okkaayyyy!” muttered Rainbow, backing up a few paces. “Why exactly is your rock glowing?”

**********

“So... Where are they?” Chrysalis asked, glaring at her minions.

The two changelings chittered for a moment with each other, then turned and addressed their queen. “We are not sssure, great one. When we firssst broke ssshield we thought poniesss right here, in throne room, but they dissssapeared.”

The Queen of Holes studied the now silent orrery then returned her gaze to her servants. “Only two of them are unicorns... They couldn’t have all vanished.”

“Perhapsss they essscape down one passsssageway.”

“Then I suggest you lot disappear down these passageways and FIND THEM!” With a collective shudder the changelings broke into teams of three and scattered, flying off down the dozen or so escape routes their quarry may have taken.

Chrysalis returned her focus to the orrery, examining it closely. She could sense residual magic radiating from the device but no power source. Frowning, she trotted over to her display cases, carefully making sure each object within was intact. She smiled wickedly as her gaze focused on the figurine of the draconequus and lingered there for several long, delicious moments.

Her reverie was interrupted by a pair of heavy hoof steps as they echoed across the throne room. She turned and beheld Sombra as he entered. Across his back lay a lanky, hornless unicorn with white fur, a red mane, tail and moustache. Levitating behind him was a large chrystal shard that was difficult to see through.

“I’ve brought you another trophy for your collection, my dear. Hope you like it.” He lowered the shard to the floor next to her. She peered at it for a moment, then smiled.

“You actually caught him?”

Sombra nodded. “He never saw me coming... Although this time my gambit cost me a bit more than I intended.” He lifted the other unicorn off his back and placed him on the floor in front of the queen. “Somehow, our foe knew about the bone ring. As soon as he broke my “brother’s” horn and knocked it free, he crushed it.”

“Do you have a replacement?”

Sombra shook his head. “Even if I did, his horn is broken, so it wouldn’t work.”

“Pity... It was such a nice trick, but I guess any strategy if over-used will eventually fail. At least it worked well enough until now.” Chrysalis looked at the unicorn. “What do you intend to do with him. The moment he wakes up he’ll turn against us.”

“I suppose I could send him home to mother. He won’t remember much, but then I’d miss having him around. He was somepony I could easily talk to.”

The queen chuckled. “Under the circumstances, it seems a bit like taking to yourself. If you want, I’ll get you a mirror. Then you won’t miss much.”

“Quite!” Sombra replied, drolly. There was a sudden snort and groan as the white unicorn opened his eyes and wobbled to his hooves and looked around.

“What...? Where...? Who...?” There was a sudden flash from the king’s horn. An instant later he found himself encased in a dark, chrystal prism.

“That was wicked,” Chrysalis smiled.

“It’s just temporary... until I decide what to do with him,” the dark king replied.

“Speaking of which...” the queen paced slowly around the larger shard containing Big Mac. “My, my. Such a magnificent specimen. If I were to guess, I’d say he must have been an earth pony at one time. Neither Pegasi nor Unicorns could pull off that physique.” As she examined their captive she could see he was following her with his eyes. She gave Big Mac a smug half-smile. “Oh my... is our great big princeling unhappy with his imprisonment?” she taunted.

“His cutie mark is rather interesting. I mean suns, stars, magic symbols, they all seem more likely for an alicorn... but an apple?”

“I think that just proves my point,” Chrysalis said.

“Maybe...” muttered Sombra, “but it’s hard to think the fates would choose such as him to elevate to godhood.” The queen nickered, a distinctive buzzing sound to her voice.

“It’s as I said before... You’re jealous.” The witch king simply humphed at her observation. “Now... before we get side tracked, we need to focus on finding his companions.”

“How much of a threat could they be without him to lead them?”

Chrysalis scowled. “More than you know. See that?” she asked pointing to the orrery.

Sombra looked. “Where in Faust did that thing come from?”

“Apparently, under the throne room. What’s more, I detected traces of magic on it... HER magic! I believe they may have found one or more of the elements.”

The witch king cussed loud and long. “WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SOMETHING SOONER!”

The queen looked disdainfully at him. “I already have my minions scouring the castle. They should be able to find them in short order.”

“Yes,” Sombra spat. “And in the meantime they’re out there somewhere puzzling out the most powerful magic in Equestria. If they manage to gather all six elements...”

“Ah... but as far as the stories go, only the princesses could manipulate their magic. I don’t think there’s much to worry about... not as long as we have their alicorn prince under our control.”

The witch king began pacing back and forth angrily. He stopped and pointed a hoof directly at the queen. “You are taking this way too calmly. We screw this up and you know who will turn us into book binding.”

“You know, that’s your problem.” Chrysalis said slowly striding past. You’re always looking at the negative side of things.” She climbed the dais and gracefully took a seat in Luna’s throne. “For all intents and purposes we’ve won. Soon we’ll have the elements in our control and nothing... absolutely nothing will be able to challenge our power.”

“Our power?” Sombra asked.

“What I meant was ours... and our master’s power of course.”

“Of course,” he responded sarcastically. Chrysalis leaned back in the throne smiling. Without warning it began rotating end over end like some kind of mad rolodex. It happened so fast that the queen was unable to do much more than let out a surprised gasp before vanishing from sight.

Sombra whirled and looked at Big Mac. The alicorn’s expression hadn’t changed, trapped as he was but something the witch king saw in his eyes made him certain that he was somehow responsible for this latest trap.

“Way ta go, Spike!” Macintosh thought.

**********

Chrysalis’ thoughts were a bit more florid as she picked herself up out of the mud. Despite her great power, she had been unable to avoid the unexpected trap. She looked around and saw at least half a dozen of her own minions huddled together, obviously having fallen victim to similar deadfalls.

“What are you doing standing around out here? Get back inside and FIND THOSE PONIES!!!”

“But haunted... Castle haunted!” one of the changelings protested, shivering. There was a sudden flash of green and the only thing left of the insect-like creature was a burned spot in the grass and a pair of smoldering wings.

“Does anyone else have an objection?” Chrysalis demanded. The remaining changelings immediately buzzed off towards the castle.

**********

“Okay... tell me the glowin’ stone’s a good thing,” said Babs.

“I don’t know.” Trixie replied. “There has to be a reason why it’s glowing.”

“Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Pinkie’s cutie mark is glowing too,” said Rarity. They all looked. Sure enough, the three balloons on her flank were indeed pulsing.

Trixie looked closely at the glowing orb and noticed it had the same symbol. “That got to be it,” she muttered. “Quick... everypony... pick up the orb with your cutie mark on it.”

“You think it’s safe?” asked Fluttershy.

“Is anything around here safe?” asked Rainbow. She boldly reached across the table and put her hoof on the stone with the cloud and lightning bolt. It immediately started glowing. The others followed suit, all save Fluttershy.

“Please, darling,” encouraged Rarity. “Now is not the time to be timid. Hesitantly, the yellow and pink pony reached for the stone. Suddenly, there was a loud crash from the far end of the library. Everypony whirled and gasped as the doors collapsed and half a dozen changelings charged in. The leader smiled wickedly, showing his fangs. He turned to one of his companions.

“Quick... tell queen, we found them... and library!”

Author's Note:

The Saga continues. Can't promise to be this quick on all my updates, but I will try to spend at least and hour each day doing some sort of writing.