• Published 9th Jan 2015
  • 4,787 Views, 342 Comments

Hold Your Color - Quillery



The fate of colors in Equestria are in Dash's hooves as an ancient artifact tied to her family is stolen. Old enemies are rising from the darkness, vying for her life, and time is running out.

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Pillar of the Sun

Hold Your Color
by Quillery


Suggestions, Editing and Pre-Reading by :
Siyray, Willsons, Izraill Z, BabySkittleMonster, Legion222, Dreamshadow, edensbane, amacita


Chapter Six
Pillar of the Sun

A blast of cold wind met Dash in the face as she stepped onto a darkened cliff. The sky was spotted with murky clouds that streaked over the light of the sun. She brushed her mane out of her eyes and looked for Twilight and the others. Turning into the mountain, she saw them, standing in a narrow crevice dug into the side of the cliff.

She joined them, escaping the deafening winds. Her friends stood against the walls of the rock as Celestia moved in between them towards the back of the cave. Ditzy stood at the mouth of the opening, staring past Dash into the sky. Her stance was wide, and her eyes were searching. Twilight was the first to Dash’s side. They stood together as they watched the princess move through with silent intent.

“Princess,” Twilight said, “where are we?”

Celestia didn’t turn around. “We are on the other side of Canterlot Mountain, near the peak. It is rather gloomy up this far, which is one of the many reasons I chose this as the Prism’s hiding place.”

“A little obvious, if you ask me,” Ditzy said. Her tone was reserved and calm. “Dark, windswept cliff sides just scream ‘hiding place’.”

Celestia turned her head slightly, sporting a slight amused grin. “I assure you, Miss Doo, that both Khroma and I did plenty to see to this place’s security.”

Ditzy scoffed. “And yet, here we are, investigating the scene of the crime.”

Celestia’s grin soured and turned away.

Ditzy blinked. “Um, I didn’t mean it like that…”

Celestia stopped at the edge of the cave, and stared at the rock. Her horn began to glow as she scraped it against the rock. Her movements were precise and smooth, as the rock grated with her etching.

The ground under Dash’s hooves began to shake. The cave walls rumbled as the crevice began to kick loose dust and stray pebbles from above. Celestia stepped away from the wall, as it began to move with a loud grinding echo. The sliver of space began to widen slightly as the mouth gave way to an opening.

Dash was the first to move towards it, stopping next to Celestia and staring down into the entrance. A smooth stone staircase was carved into the rock that descended further into the mountain. The glow of Celestia’s horn cast a faint light in the hall, revealing lifeless sconces along the wall. With a wave of her magic, the torches roared to life, bringing a living glow to the path before them.

Dash stepped closer to the doorway, but Celestia stopped her. “It would be best for your health if I went first, Rainbow Dash. I am not certain what countermeasures were deactivated by the thieves, or merely ignored. It is best I examine them each in turn before you follow.”

Dash gulped and nodded. “R-right. Sure, after you.”

Celestia smiled and proceeded to take the first step into the stairs. Dash turned back to Twilight and shrugged. Twilight walked over, glancing down the cave. “How can she be so calm? Your dad and aunt seemed so worried, yet none of this is bothering her…”

Dash recalled Celestia’s words, just before she came here, and the silent promise that came with them. She put a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder. “You know Celestia, she’s gotta put on a strong face. You had to have seen it all the time when you grew up with her.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow and nodded. “I… suppose thats true. I almost never saw her lose her composure, unless somepony was in danger, but even that didn’t start happening until I left Canterlot.”

Dash chuckled, when an echoing voice called up from the depths of the mountain. “You all may follow now.”

Dash glanced again at the entrance, uncertainty overtaking her expression. Twilight and Ditzy, also taking the time to look warily at the dimly lit passage before them. Even Dash felt a clawing feeling nagging at her as she considered the descent ahead of her.

She forced a smirk through her unease and smiled at her friends. “C’mon guys. What’s there to worry about. We got Celestia with us, no need to be a bunch of wimps.”

Ditzy approached the rear of the group. “Let’s hurry up. The sooner we finish here, the sooner we can get back, hopefully before Khroma notices I’ve disobeyed him.”

Dash rolled her eyes. “Fine, let’s go.” Dash went first, taking careful steps down the stairs. The carved stone was pristine. In the ebbing glow of the torches, the stones acted like mirrors and the narrow passage became brighter the further down they went.

Dash kept a careful eye on the group as she led. They packed in a single line, with Twilight right behind her. Ditzy took up the back, and kept looking behind her every few steps.

As she turned her focus to where she was stepping, she heard Twilight clear her throat. “So… Ditzy. What exactly is your role in all this?”

Dash turned back to see Twilight addressing Ditzy with a curious look. Ditzy blinked a few times at the question and shrugged her head. “I’d rather not say...”

“I mean, clearly you know so much of what’s happening. You must be able to tell us something.”

Ditzy didn’t answer. Dash slowed her pace and turned her head. “I want an answer too, Ditzy. I’ve been pretty lax about this whole thing so far, but I want an explanation. How the hay do you know my dad?”

Ditzy bit her lip. “I really shouldn’t say.”

“Horseapples. Auntie called you my guardian. Is that what you’ve been doing? Keeping an eye on me?”

Ditzy rolled her good eye. “Sorta...”

“And..?”

She coughed. “I… really don’t want to say. Your dad asked me not to.”

Dash grit her teeth. “I’m pretty sure its my business when my dad has somepony I’ve known forever keeping an eye on me like a glorified foalsitter. I certainly didn’t ask for one.”

Ditzy sighed. “You didn’t ask for a lot of things. And yet you got them anyways. Your dad thought ahead for decades. Too bad the one thing he didn’t warn me of was how stubborn you were going to be.”

Dash stopped and turned around. “Wait, what? How long have you been doing this?”

Ditzy stared in silence as Dash and Twilight looked back with confusion. Her eyes fell on each of them, remarking them with a solemn gaze. There was a feeling of tension in the air as they stared at each other, and an oppressive weight seemed to press down on them.

After a while, Ditzy sighed and looked down, rubbing her crooked eye. “Ugh, it’s hard to win a staring match when you only have one good eye.”

Dash didn’t even blink at her silent victory. “Start talking, Ditzy.”

She looked up. Ditzy’s eyes had taken on a more sombre look to them, as if her previous resentment had been punctured like a balloon. “Can we at least keep walking?”

Dash’s eyes narrowed, but she nodded. She turned back and started walking, perking her ears for Ditzy’s response.

“First thing, my full name is Ditzanya. I grew up with your aunt back home in Stalliongrad.”

Dash’s head lurched forward. She choked on a breath as she twisted her neck. “What!?”

Ditzy nodded. “She introduced me to your father when we were still in primary school. We were pretty much best friends back then.”

“B-but… you look my age!”

Ditzy frowned. “So? On a good day, Aurora looks younger than the both of us. Blame it on the Stalliongrad genes.”

Dash sputtered a few disjointed responses. Twilight cleared her throat. “How is it that you are involved in this particular problem, though?”

“Like I said, I grew up with Aurora. We went to school together, graduated together, and joined the Prizraks together.”

Dash tripped and landed on her face. She felt a pair of hooves at her side immediately as Twilight tried to help her up. As soon as she was standing, she wheeled around and shouted, “What?!”

Twilight looked confused. “I don’t think you taught me that word yet, Dash. What does Prizr—Prizerk—”

Prizrak,” Dash breathed. “It means ghost in Trotsky.” Dash returned her gaze to Ditzy. “You were part of the Stalliongrad Secret Service?!”

Ditzy nodded nonchalantly. “We were both skilled at acrobatics and guile as foals. It seemed a natural choice.”

“Since when did they let cross-eyed ponies into the Prizraks?!”

Dash slapped her hooves to her mouth the second the words passed her lips, but the damage had already been done. Ditzy glared and slowly brought a hoof to her crooked eye. There was a long silence as Ditzy inhaled and exhaled deeply, running her hoof across her face.

“My eyes weren’t always like this. When your father went to move the Prism here to Equestria, he didn’t want Aurora to know, because she might try to stop him. I didn’t want to lie to her, but he insisted it was in the best interest of its safety. I earned his trust and helped him move it.”

Ditzy reached out, grasping for something that was not there. “I had never seen anything so beautiful before, and…” She clenched her hoof and put it down. “I reached too far for the sun.” She turned her eyes back to Dash. “The Prism is powerful, Dash… and dangerous. Especially in the wrong hooves.”

Dash couldn’t form a response. She and Twilight stared quietly at Ditzy, who blinked as she noted the change of demeanor and cleared her throat. “After that, I stayed in Equestria with Khroma, pretending to be a family friend that traveled with him. When you were born, he appointed me your legal guardian in private, and when you were planning to move to Ponyville, he asked me to move there first, to keep an eye on you.” She smirked. “My good eye…”

Dash felt a smile coming on, but only another question invaded her thoughts. “But wait… you have a kid! Was that fake too?”

Ditzy raised an eyebrow. “My job was to watch you. I was never told to not have a life.” Ditzy’s face softened. “Dinky is my daughter, and I have never been happier to leave behind a fragment of my more… dangerous past and create a happier one.” She swallowed. “But I made a promise to your father as old as our friendship, and I must at least see this through. Dinky’s father understands that I can have… absences, and he will care for her in my stead.” She looked away. “And if the worst should happen, I have left everything to them, including a letter of explanation.”

“That seems… dark.”

Ditzy nodded. “Such is the life I chose to live, Rainbow Dash. Your father and aunt understand this, I hope that maybe you can too.”

“But why are you such a stickler now? I liked you when you better when you were just annoying and clumsy. Now you’re all secret agent and scary.”

Ditzy smiled. “Because it is easier to be overlooked as the town buffoon, than be recognized as a Prizrak in plain sight. I suppose my bad eye helped with the disguise a bit. It made staying closer to you easier in case something went wrong.”

“But something did go wrong!” Dash shouted. “I’d say my house blowing up counts as something going wrong! What changed?”

Ditzy shot her a blank stare. “Your father fell in love. Then he had a child. Stallions don’t seem to think too clearly when their family is on the line. Moving everything to Equestria was bad enough, but when you were born and showed signs of becoming the new host, he got defensive and complacent. Try as he might, he missed something, and now you are paying for it.”

Dash couldn’t bring herself to voice a response as her heart pulled at her chest. She turned away, facing back into the darkened staircase in front of her. She huffed a quick breath and continued her descent. “He should have just told me. I’m not a foal anymore, I could have handled this.”

“Well, you were busy defending Equestria from its own problems. Khroma felt that even if something did go wrong, you would be able to handle it.”

Dash snorted. “Usually if something happens, I at least have a plan.” She glanced back to Twilight with a smirk. “Or Twi does.”

Twilight smiled back, but it quickly faded as her gaze turned to something behind Dash. Celestia was standing at the bottom of the stairs, staring at an ornate metal door embedded into the rock. Her face was grim, and she hadn’t given any sign that she had noticed the others’ approach.

“Princess?” Twilight said.

Celestia’s head snapped to attention. She turned back briefly and nodded, returning her attention to the door. “I don’t understand…”

“What?” Dash said. “What’s wrong?”

“The door… It hasn’t been disturbed. It is just the way I left it over twenty years ago. All of the enchantments are still in place.”

Dash frowned. “Was my dad wrong? Is there somepony else out to get me?”

Celestia shook her head. “No, he is not wrong. There are additional enchantments inside that would alert him if the Prism was moved or touched, as well as myself. Somepony was in this room recently, but they didn’t use the door…”

“Is that bad?”

Celestia expression hardened. “It means whomever did this has considerable power, enough to bypass this door.” She turned back. “I want all of you to be on your guard. I do not know what might have been left behind as a warning.”

Dash and her friends backed away from the door as Celestia’s horn began to glow. She touched it to the door, marking several spots on its frame. Small, glowing lights emerged from within the metal, and with a quick wave, Celestia dispelled them all.

The rock surrounding them began to rumble. Dust and pebbles rained from the ceiling as the hall rocked with grinding metal. A crooked plate on the door popped out and started to spin, chugging with each spin. With one final, mighty groan, there was a deep, metallic click, and the door started to slide into the rock.

Light flowed into the hall from the opening. Dash shielded her eyes, squinting to see what lay on the other side. Celestia went first, her magic glowing at the ready. She took slow, careful steps as her head craned in every direction. Dash took a few steps to follow her, but Twilight reached out and held her by the shoulder. She shook her head, and continued watching Celestia.

From the door, Dash could see that the room was rather large. The furthest wall must have been several meters away. The walls looked rough, almost natural. As she became accustomed to the bright light, she saw that its source was somewhere to the side, from what appeared to be the center of the room.

Celestia paused a few feet from the door, continuing her scan of the room. After a few moments, she turned back. “Come in,” she said quietly. “Keep an eye out for anything strange.”

Dash took the invitation and followed her in. She kept her attention on the light as she entered the main chamber, and gasped as she saw it clearly. A large, shimmering hole was bored into the ceiling, from which a fountain of light poured into the room. It formed an enormous pillar of white in the center.

At its base was a triangular groove in the floor, several feet wide. From the central etching, several channels snaked out along the ground and flowed into the walls, disappearing into small crevices that led to darkness.

Celestia stepped towards the center. The sunlight bathed her in a warm, shimmering glow which radiated from her being. She took in a long, deep breath and let out a relaxed sigh. “I almost forgot the power of a good sunbath.”

“How is this possible?” Twilight said. “There are no vents that would allow light in like that in this mountain, and even if there were, that would compromise the security, wouldn’t it?”

Celestia smiled. “Ah, but you don’t look closely enough, Twilight.” She turned her head upwards. “What do you see?”

Twilight stepped beside Dash and stared up into the hole. She tilted her head and frowned. “I don’t see—wait!” Her eyes widened. “A Resheph Mirror? Aren’t there only ten left in existence?”

“Eleven I think. Saddle Arabia has six of them, I managed to collect the rest over time.”

“Hold on,” Dash said. “What the hay is a Resheph Mirror?” She looked up into the hole, and blinked when she saw that it only traveled a few feet deeper into the rock above them. At the back of the throat, was a large, polished disk that the light flowed from.

“Resheph is one of the ancient desert kingdoms to the east,” Twilight said. “It’s south of Esponya and west of Saddle Arabia. They mastered a form of magic that allowed them to collect solar energy for their mana source, and used these mirrors to do it. We lost the means to replicate that magic when the empire fell thousands of years ago, but some of the mirrors survived.”

Celestia nodded. “I have these mirrors placed at some of the highest peaks in Equestria, free of clouds and prying eyes. In turn, they collect the purest sunlight nearly all day long, and deliver it here, so that the Prism has the most potent source, without leaving it in the open.”

“Amazing…”

Dash grunted. “Okay, cool. So we know how this set-up works. What we still don’t know is how anypony managed get—”

Dash blinked as she glanced once more at the floor of the room. The way the grooves flowed from the center sparked a familiar feeling in her mind. She rubbed her hooves on the stone, further strengthening the sensation.

“What is it, Dash?” Twilight asked. “Is something wrong?”

“No… I just feel, like I’ve been here before.” Dash followed a groove on the floor towards the center. Her hooves slid on the rock as she moved, keeping the recollection fresh in her senses.

As she reached the center, she looked up from the large triangle indentation. She reared her head back, as for an instant, a tower of glass overtook her vision, replaced by stone, and then nothing. She rubbed her eyes and opened them again, but nothing returned.

“I think I’ve been in this room before. In a dream.”

Celestia tilted her head as she stepped beside Dash. “Considering the sentience rumored to exist within the Prism, it is possible it has a link to its host. Its very possible that it was trying to contact you, in a way, as if to ask for help.”

“Pretty weird way of doing it.”

Dash looked down, beside the indentation. She frowned at a discolored spot on the rock beside the middle that was almost shrouded by the bright light. She moved towards it, and touched it with her hoof.

A wheezing breath erupted from her lungs as her heart felt like it was plummeting in her chest. Her skin went cold, her bones numb as the form of a pony filled the spot on the floor. It was prostrate, curled under feathers and blood. It was trying to move, painfully, to look up at the center of the room, before the illusion vanished.

Dash reeled back and fell to the ground, panting. Her skin crawled with chill sweat as she tried to control her breathing. Twilight was at her side in seconds, easing her upright.

“Dash!” she exclaimed. “What’s wrong? What did you see?”

Dash swallowed a ragged breath, gulping in as much air as she could manage while trying to respond. “Some-somepony was here. They looked hurt, real hurt. I think it was a pegasus, but I couldn’t see her face very well. She was bleeding really bad.” Dash’s eyes traced the stained rock. “I think some of it is still here.”

“Did you see anything else?”

Dash shook her head. “N-no. It was too dark to see anything else in the room.” She lifted her head and tried to stand, when she glanced towards the walls. She frowned, as she peered deeply into the darkness.“Wait. Why are the walls so dark with the light?”

Twilight blinked and followed her gaze. Celestia too stared at the walls, as her eyebrows arched. “That’s not possible…”

A cold wind drifted from the cliffs into the room. The torches from the hallways flickered, as a low, groaning bellow creaked from the earth and stone. Twilight was close to Celestia and Dash, with Ditzy not far off, as the cold grew stronger around them.

"What’s going on?” Twilight asked.

“Get behind me, Twilight,” Celestia commanded. “And stay away from the walls. We are not alone.”

A quiet, malicious laugh seemed to respond from the wind. It echoed from the walls, as the dark shadows began to ooze onto the floor and crawl towards the center of the room. They broke into long tendrils of darkness that grasped towards the ponies, but never reached far enough.

The ring of shadow slowly washed over the light, turning the gray stone into black, and stopped only inches from Dash and the rest. Her eyes widened as a shape, formed from nothing but shadow and darkness rose out of the encroaching black in front of her. It flowed in the phantom wind, and the light defined its edges with shimmering incandescence.

A dark, shadowy pony shape soon stood in front of her, towering, menacing, cold. Its eyes peered down at her, glowing like the dark of night under the moon and stars. It smiled with a sinister, cruel grin, and spoke softly. “Well,” it said. “It’s so nice that everypony is finally here.”


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