• Published 9th Apr 2015
  • 1,273 Views, 26 Comments

Bloodborne: Oligemia - Digital Media Disk

The terrible story of a sick pony, a deadly cure, a cruel city and an unending nightmare.

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Chapter 1: Crimson Sky

As the sun began to descend to the west, and to slowly die to a tranquil orange, the carriage creaked rhythmically from side to side as it followed the road winding up the mountainside. Its swing was seductive, calling Octavia to relax, to sleep. In defiance, the gray mare sat ramrod straight in the passenger compartment, magenta eyes alert and watchful. It would do her no good to have come so far on her journey only to fail now because she fell asleep and didn’t respond quick enough if and when danger appeared.

The earth pony pulling the carriage, Dusty he called himself, had told her that the road was safe. On his honor, he assured Octavia that there were no bandits or natural dangers to speak of on the way to Yharnaram. “Nothing but trees and open sky all the way up to the city, miss” he had said back at the foot of the mountain. “Bandits don’t bother with this road these days. Too much trouble for too little payoff, and you won’t have to worry about any landslides or rock falls either. Goats built this road a long time ago, and they knew what they were doin’. Chose the safest way up here, one where the rock faces are solid, and the ground is firm.” When Octavia had asked him about animal dangers such as timber wolves, the orange carriage pony scratched his grizzled chin with a hoof, and peered up the mountain toward their destination. “They don’t bother the road either with it bein’ so close to Yharnaram and all. Something about that place… well, I guess they just know to keep clear is all.” Then he had peered at her with a concerned look on his face. “You sure you want to go there, miss? I know you wouldn’t unless you didn’t think you had any other choice, but you must have heard the stories.” Octavia had simply responded by placing a large bag of bits in the stallion’s hoof and requesting that he simply do as she bid him, and take her up the mountain.

Octavia had heard the stories, of course. Everypony in a hundred leagues knew the stories about the mountain city of Yharnaram. It was the last city built by the reclusive goat clans over a thousand years ago, carved out of bedrock and stubborn determination, only to be completely abandoned almost overnight two-hundred years later. A century passed and Yharnaram was claimed as a staging area for the Ironbeak Army during the rise of the second griffon empire, a decision which proved to be a costly mistake that was said to have contributed significantly to halting the empire’s southward push into Equestria when the entire city was said to have caught fire, incinerating a quarter of the griffon army and most of its supplies in a single night. When pegasi scouts from the forward Equestrian guard entered the city the next morning, it stood completely unscathed, leaving no indications of the blaze the night before, save the tormented remains of hundreds of griffons filling the streets, bodies charred almost beyond recognition. Travelers who stopped in Yharnaram overnight would sometimes disappear only to spontaneously come out years later on the verge of death and mad beyond any hope of recovery. Some ponies said that Princess Luna had become Nightmare Moon because she once visited Yharnaram to study the city herself, and had been tainted by the darkness in the process.

There were dozens more stories of course, hundreds probably, but Octavia did not believe them. In spite of growing rumors that it was cursed, Yharnaram had finally been settled over fifty years ago by a reclusive flock of bat ponies, and it was said that they lived peacefully secluded lives in the mountain city. Any threat that Yharnaram might have posed had been dispelled by their exotic magic and knowledge of enchantments. Octavia’s gaze hardened as she looked out over the pine tree forest that ran down the mountainside, and she unconsciously brought a hoof up to rub her temples. Even if there still was danger in Yharnaram, even if every single story she’d heard on her trip here was true, she couldn’t turn back now. Her need in coming here, all the way from Canterlot to the far north of Equestria, was too great.

The carriage rounded a bend in the road, and a large, black building with a high peaked roof came into view up ahead, too big to be a house, yet too small to be considered a mansion. “There’s the toll master’s keep” Dusty called from in front of the carriage. “It’s the only way into Yharnaram from this side of the mountains. It’s a customs house of sorts from what I hear.”

As the waning sunlight turned the sky behind the keep to crimson, Octavia suddenly thought it resembled a monstrous crow perched upon an ocean of blood waiting to strike down from off the mountaintop. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to clear the image from her mind. Such thoughts would only undermine her resolve. She had to do this. She had to.

“I can still take you back if you don’t want to go there, miss.” Octavia pulled her gaze away from the building, leaning out the carriage window slightly to look at the pony pulling it. “It jus’ doesn’t seem right for a pretty mare such as yourself to go into a place like that all on her own.”

“I’ll be fine” Octavia said with more certainty than she actually felt. “I appreciate your concern, but there’s really no need to worry. Yharnaram’s been inhabited for quite some time now, and I’ve heard that the bat ponies living there are quite friendly once you get to know them.” Dusty bobbed his head in acknowledgement.

“The Yharnaram bat ponies are decent enough I suppose, if a bit odd, but I hear that strange things still go on in that city. “Anypony who goes out into the streets after dark can up and disappear, just like that.” Octavia looked at the now darkening sky. There couldn’t be more than ten minutes or so of daylight left.

“So if you knew about this, why did you still take me up the mountain just before nightfall?” she asked irritably, a tinge of fear hardening her words.

“Because you hoofed me that large sack of bits and told me to just do what you asked and bring you here.” The carriage slowed to a stop, and the earth pony unhooked himself from its harness. “Anyway, we’re here now” he said mater-of-factly as he massaged each of his shoulders where the harness had run across them.

Octavia stepped out of the carriage, stretching and working the blood flow back into legs that had been curled up under her for the past hour she had been in the carriage. The toll master’s keep now loomed up from the ever lengthening shadows. While the road continued on up to it, it was blocked by an iron gate and a rough stone wall.

“Where’s Yharnaram?” Octavia asked, glancing around. All that she could see was the side of the mountain and the Snowmane Forest far below, reaching toward the horizon.

“Right on the other side of that building” Dusty said, slowly trotting around his carriage as he spoke. “The city’s build where three mountains meet, between their tops.” He bent his head to inspect the chassis and axels. “There was a bit of a valley there before the goats came, from what I know. They built Yharnaram here because of the mineral seams that run through these mountains, and because rainwater in this area flows down to create a river through the valley. “The customs house,” Dusty grunted as he began to unload Octavia’s hooflocker from the back of the carriage, “sits on the rim of the valley. You’ll see the city sure enough once you pass through it.” He sat the chest down with a thud. Octavia suddenly felt light headed, and placed a hoof on the chest to steady herself. “Are you sure you’ll be alright here, miss?” Dusty was giving her another worried look, the twilight drawing dark lines across his features. “I know you’ve got your heart set on going to Yharnaram, but, well…” He rubbed the back of his head with a hoof. “Tell you what, I’ll wait around for a few minutes, and if you decide you don’t want to go, well, then I’ll take you back down the mountain, free of charge.” Octavia smiled.
“It seems I’m in the presence of a true gentlecolt” she said. “Thank you for your concern and your offer, but I think I’ve made my intentions clear. Besides, it’s like you said when we started up the mountain; I don’t have any choice.”

“I said you didn’t think you had any other choice, but this…” Dusty looked past Octavia to the house behind her, then shrugged in defeat and trotted back to the front of the carriage. “Aww what’s the use” he said in a resigned voice as he began to resaddle himself. “I can see you’ve had your mind made up since the start, and nothing I say is going to change it. Well, if you’re goin’, you’d better get to it before full dark.” His task completed he motioned toward a small gate set into the wall beside its larger compatriot that barred the road, its purpose no doubt to admit individual ponies entering Yharnaram by hoof. Octavia gave Dusty one last smile as she picked up her luggage, balancing it on her back.

“Thank you for everything, really. I hope your trip back down the mountain is safe.” Dusty’s expression mirrored her own, albeit with a tinge of sadness.

“And I hope that you find whatever it is you’re looking for here” he replied.

“I hope so too.” With that, both ponies turned and went their separate ways, Dusty drawing his carriage back down the mountainside, and Octavia through the rusted portal toward Yharnaram. The last rays of sunlight finally slid away, leaving the mare standing alone in darkness before the toll master’s keep.