• Published 5th Sep 2018
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The Golden Age of Apocalypse - Book I - BlueBastard



A Berylverse Story - The ponies investigate an ancient prophecy tied to Sombra's plan to destroy Equestria, all the while Sunset prepares for her coronation. But not all is as it seems when the mystery begins to imply a far darker truth of the past.

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Chapter 5 – The Rose with the Broken Neck

The Golden Age of Apocalypse
Chapter Five: The Rose with the Broken Neck

As Raspberry Beryl approached the gates of the palace after her rather awkward dinner, she waved at the guard on duty. “Hello there!”

“Ah, Archmagus, your grace, good evening to you,” the batpony said. “We had a courier arrive with a package for you an hour ago from the Crystal Empire. We had a palace staffer take it to your room.”

A package? Raspberry thought curiously, giving her thanks to the guard and making her way into the palace building. A few more minutes went by as she navigated her way past the rooms where she and the other girls (save for Twilight, who still had her own place in the palace) were staying. Sure enough, there, on the desk, was a bound package.

The package turned out to be a bound book entitled The Rose with the Broken Neck. The note was from Aged Codex, the senior researcher heading up the Sombra Investigation Commission.

Archmagus,

We recently found this in one of the many hidden basements underneath the Empire. We have not determined what the room was used for, but based on the equipment we can identify, it does not look good. I am sending you a book we found; while it is not a grimoire, it certainly is grim—one of the researchers who’s already read through it is having nightmares now.

We believe that the book is just a mundane book...but the actions in it that were taken by the unnamed researcher—who is clearly King Sombra—are completely inequine and what happened to the victim is unknown. Personally, I have looked at a couple of pages, and I fear that the mare who was the victim of these atrocities did not die a painless and quick death.

I cannot wish you the best in reading this. I can only wish you the strength to deal with the aftermath.

Yours,

– Codex

Raspberry looked at the book as if it were a live cockatrice. Every time she turned around, she found something new that proved time and again that her ancestor was a monster in every sense of the word. And yet….

Codex hoped the mare in the book died a quick and painless death. And he fears she didn’t. Razz reluctantly reached for the book, knowing she shouldn’t read it just before going to bed. Hopefully Luna would keep an eye out in case her nightmares got too bad.

DAY 1:

The portal is closed, and with that the transaction is complete. It was foal’s play to turn that simple-minded mare, Bruyere, into one of those strange monkey creatures, and simpler still to offer that gelding Baldassare her in return for his mate. All I needed to show him was just a few parlor tricks any colt could learn with easy and he took my offer with gusto. And now he has a new toy to play with, even if she was somewhat of a dullard, as well as “grimoires of untold power” – and by the time he realizes they are naught more than just magical primers for foals, it won’t matter. Perhaps he never will.

Regardless, I have this babbling, pediculous human mare. She’s done nothing but scream and cry in that stupid language that reminds me much of Bitalian, the language of my foremothers. And while I certainly understand the stupid thing, I also have a hatred of that tongue – it reminds me so much of my cousins in the Amore branch of the family, a bunch of bobolynes who have no inkling of what it is to truly wield power.

I yell at her and demand that she speak in the Equish-like tongue I’ve heard uttered on their world; thankfully, Baldassare knew it, so it should stand to reason that this mare should also be capable of speaking “Inglish”. But instead, she looks at me with confusion, as if what I’ve just demanded is impossible.

It is a simple demand, and I am lord here – and it is time that she be taught who her betters are; I will have no feckless bedswerver deign herself to be superior to me in any way or form. With my magic, I grab her by the neck and thrash her thoroughly for her insouciance, as befitting my right. But then she has the audacity to scream at me and beg me not to do it again.

I will not be ordered as if I am some mere costermonger – I am the Ruler of Empire, and I will not be told what to do by my lesser, especially those not of this world. I reach out again and introduce her to the wall once more. The more she begs me to stop, the more I do not; eventually it will sink in, I’m sure.

And then I hear something crack.

I lift her up once more and she screams in a shrill sound that practically makes my ears bleed. She’s a bloody and bruised mess – Baldassare insisted that “mankind” was strong and hearty, but I suppose I am the fool for believing that lie. The wretched thing in my grasp proves that they are nothing more than bags of flesh without magic and barely able to reason, more possessed of bedlice than any particular value to their own world, much less ours.

Still, I asked for a pet, and I have one. I tell her that her home no longer exists, and as of now, she no longer exists. That Baldassare will tell the world that Crisalide della Lucca died in childbirth and that as his duty befitted, he had to take a new bride to further his line. That she was replaced by a simpleton of a crystal mare that I had changed into a human that he found far more enticing than she. She looks at me with disbelief and her visage makes me actually laugh.

I then tell her that from now on, she will live as nothing more than a pet for my amusement. That as a pet, she is not worthy of civilization and as the civilization of man was far inferior to that of ponydom, I will not have it infest my home. And with that, I rip the clothing from her body, reducing them to rags. Gowns and elegance are for ladies, after all, not for pathetic, mewling things who show me that they are the least worth of their species. I add that I will allow her to keep the rags for bedding; after all, I will not soil good textiles or hay when I have need of it elsewhere.

But as I look at her rags, I see a familiar symbol in the embroidery, and I ask her what it is. When she doesn’t answer in Equish and forces me to speak to her in Bitalian, I lance a blast of energy at her for her audacity. She screams once more and tells me it is a rose.

A rose. At the note of that I feel rage and anger quicken within me. Roses are her symbol – that damnable queen that tried to keep me from my birthright. If I ever see that nag again – her or her spawn, I swear I’ll….

My anger and rage get the better of me and I grab my new pet and release everything on her. She screams as I mount her and thrust, slamming her against the wall repeatedly in my exertions, but in hindsight I was too blinded by my fury to care. I hear a second crack and as my seed spills to the floor and on her, her body flops loosely. Her neck is at an unnatural angle, a clear sign that she should not be alive – and yet she is.

A shame wells up within me. Not because I harmed this thing; after all, she is my property and mine to do as I wish. No, I am shamed of my own lack of control. If I am to continue my rule, I cannot let distractions get the better of me.

In any case, that clarity brings a new perspective and as I see the shattered thing on the ground, I realize I have broken a rose, and I laugh. I tell her that will be her name now: Broken Rose. Of course, she does not respond – she cannot, as she will likely be dead soon, as she cannot so much as lift her neck, much less move any part of her body. Instead, I see her stare at me with both fear and hatred, impotent emotions coming from a rose with a broken neck.

I depart and head back to my offices. The realm still needs my attention, especially with potential enemies surrounding my Empire.

“My word, Razz, you look awful,” commented Rarity the next morning. Indeed, in stark contrast to the bright and upbeat attitude of Heliodor, who swooped in and tweeted casually upon perching on the provided birdstand, Razz all but physically dragged herself to the table. She’d forgotten to put up her disguise glamorie spell but ironically looked so sleep deprived that her typically more “demonic”—or as some ponies put it, “Sombraic” given the reason behind her dark magic inheritance—features gave off a more comical appearance on her tired expression.

“Yeah, well, when somepony who works for you sends you a book that they outright say is full of nightmare fuel and you know it’s all true, take my advice and don’t read it right before bed.” half-yawned, half groaned the Archmage of Dark magic, opting to just drag the chair out from the table instead of using her magic.

“We’ll...take your word for it,” confided Applejack, who exchanged worried glances with the rest of the gathered ponies—which amounted to the usual gang, Razz and her bird, and Raven. Expected to be joining them was Princesses Celestia, Cadence, and Luna, along with Prince Armor. None of the royals were yet present, however, which was unusual.

Arrowswift then hastily trotted in, followed by a bemused Celestia and a worried Luna. “My apologies, but Princess Cadence and Prince Shining Armor will not be able to attend this breakfast in light of potential threats relating to the late King Sombra’s...legacy.”

“I beg your pardon?” asked Razz, suspicion in her voice.

“No offense, your highness, but after the rather disturbing inscriptions on the back of Sombra’s mirror were discovered, following the giant beam of darkness and evil carving a nice hole through the middle of the castle, we can’t be too careful while Equestria is still healing from the wounds of the war Tirek waged on ponykind. Except around you, since you’re totally on our side.”

“Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence,” she joked back.

“Well, I’m sure you two can work it out over breakfast, as I’ve invited Arrowswift to join us in lieu of Cadance and Shining,” explained Celestia.

“Also probably because she can explain slightly more about what’s going on with the mirror than they could have, anyway,” added Luna, who then turned to Razz apologetically. “I must confess I was not able to provide as much attention for you last night as I normally would have, Razz—there was a rash of nightmares in Baltimare in the youth following the release of a popular horror novel last week—why anypony thought that was a good idea after the real-life horror everypony has gone through these past few months is beyond me—and it’s all I can do to keep the children sleeping soundly, let alone the populace at large.”

“Yeah, it’s no big deal—I’ve had much worse nightmares become too real to make last night a real concern,” Razz stated, giving a knowing glance in Twilight’s direction. “Still, before I pass out from sleep deprivation, somepony want to bring me up to speed about the mirror?”

Fluttershy blanched. “I’m not sure you are gonna like it, but…”

Ten minutes later, Razz had been brought up to speed and, indeed, she didn’t like it. “Great, there’s potentially three others like me, because it wasn’t like one walking box of problems was enough!”

“Does that mean there’s three more ponies of Sombra’s bloodline who also inherited some aspect of his powers?” asked Rainbow.

“Yeah, given the verses you’ve told me, I’m unquestionably the first of these ‘Scions’,” Raspberry said, giving a distasteful look to nothing in particular. “But I don’t have any clue where to learn more about his machinations. The only ponies insane enough to derive any kind of further meaning was that Cult of Shadows or whatever.”

“You mean that group of ponies who were responsible for all those crystal explosions because they thought you were trying to do something?” asked Rarity.

“The same—unfortunately, after I helped crush their little cult, I think the dragons had their leader extradited because it turned out he’d stolen some kind of important ritual potion years ago, so it would take too long to try and ask him. I’m glad there’s nopony else that crazy within Equestria.”

Curiously, Twilight glanced over at Celestia and only leaned forward to answer after confirming the senior princess was engaged in her own conversation with Arrowswift. Suffice to say, it made Raspberry worry.

“Well, we don’t know any other experts on King Sombra,” Twilight said in a low, conspiratory tone. “But I might know an expert on someone who had dealings with Sombra….”

Raspberry was only momentarily confused before the pieces clicked into place. Suffice to say, she understood why Twilight didn’t want Celestia to know what she was thinking.

“No, Twilight!” Raspberry hissed. “You can’t be serious!”

But she was. And now that Raspberry was considering their alternatives (or lack thereof), she was horrified to find herself considering it too. And here I was hoping dinner last night would be the last time in a while I’d have to deal with an entitled royal….

It has been often said that the worst of the worst were banished to Tartarus. Sunset Shimmer, for the truth of her own life, sentenced herself to exile on Earth. Luna, trapped as Nightmare Moon, had been sentenced to the moon. Even a beast like Discord had been trapped within stone. But there were those who were far worse than that, and those deserved a place far more punitive than anything ever imagined: the ancient shame, a place between the strands of time, a place that even disquieted Queen Faust herself.

Walking amongst a stark white corridor, Razz looked around. “I hate this place, Twi.”

“Everypony does,” Twilight agreed. “That’s why the only way you can really get in or out is with an alicorn. Originally, we made the mistake of just using powerful imbued wards backed with magic from other species—kitsunes, dragons, et cetera—to ensure no one species could break through the lock if they weren’t approved. That proved ineffective with Tirek and Equestria, no, the world paid dearly for it. They got out that way; they can no longer do so if the way is forever closed. That’s why Cerberus now stands behind a welded-shut door made of mithrillium—the toughest, rarest metal in Equestria that even the vaults in Canterlot can’t use because it wouldn’t be cost effective.”

Despite everything, Raspberry allowed herself a grin. “You ever notice that when you get agitated you tend to start sentences with ‘that’s why’, Twi?”

The alicorn shook her head. “I do not!”

“Yes you do.”

“I’ll have you know that my language is perfectly precise and honed. That’s why….” Twilight paused. “Okay, you might have a point.”

The pair traveled on in silence, until they reached one of the hollowed-out volcanoes that dotted this hellish landscape. And as the pair walked up the stairs to the perpetual magical field, they looked on this particular cell’s residents: a white unicorn with a violet mane and tail, golden eyes and a very ornate cutie mark; on his horn was a massive magical inhibitor ring, though the ring was likely unnecessary. Next to him was an earth stallion, with a brown coat, short dark gray mane and tail, unshorn hocks, a flaming ordnance shell for a cutie mark and indigo-hued eyes, one marred by a scar. LIke his associate, he wore magical inhibitor hobbles designed to restrict both his magic and movement.

“I’m familiar with the the prince,” Raspberry asked, “but who’s the other one?”

As if in response, the earth stallion stood up and hobbled over to the alicorn. “Great, another one of you horny winged cunts. Well, I gotta hankerin’ for some fun, so turn around and and lift that tail, honey. I’ll show you a good time like you ain’t ever seen before!”

Raspberry reached out, horn raging with darkness, and slammed the stallion to the ground. “Quiet, or we’ll punish you.” She thought about that and added, “In a way you won’t like. Besides, we’re here for your buddy. Now go fetch or I’ll get mad.” As the earth stallion walked off, Razz turned to Twilight and explained. She then turned back to Twilight and asked, “Care to fill me in?”

“That’s Tripwire,” the alicorn explained. “Sunset personally banished him here after he tried to rape and murder one of her friends and some other girls in San Francisco. When I spoke to her she was...not happy about that, to say the least.”

“I can imagine. So you put a rapist with a rapist?” asked Raspberry.

“You can’t say they don’t deserve each other,” Twilight said with a sad shake of her head. “And this was her idea, not mine.”

The two watched as the earth stallion went over and kicked the unicorn in the stomach. There was enough of a distance that the two inmates could not be heard; Twilight thought about amplifying their whispers with magic, but then thought better of it. With whatever these two had in common, she’d rather not know what they were thinking.

“Well, well, well, it seems that I have visitors,” the unicorn finally said as he got up. “Now, isn’t this cute? I tried to make the world in my image, to rule the realms as my father of fathers intended. Tripwire here merely just wanted to get his rocks off with his favorite girl.” He walked up to the edge of the field and looked right at Razz. “But we ran afoul of an angry goddess in birth and she smote us to hell—a hell not even of our own thoughts. And you know who did it?” He tapped on the field angrily as a scowl came across his face. “The Serpent in the Garden, that’s who! The one who should’ve convinced Eva to eat that damn apple and instead you warned her about the cyanide in the apple seeds. You are as evil as we are and yet there you are safe and sound. If the gods had a sense of humor, it would be the best comedy tour of all time.”

“Excuse me?” Razz said, wondering what he was getting at.

“Playing the coy game? Well, let me make it clearer: Here I sit to rot, for merely trying to use a dark power to claim what I rightfully deserve, yet the greatest dark power of all runs free despite being a traitor to her own kind?” The momentary sign of the unicorn and alicorn having registered dismay at his comment made him grin wickedly. “Oh, I’ve heard the rumors, the stories, Raspberry Beryl. Is it true that your horn still runs fresh with the blood of those you’ve killed? I suppose that makes you a killer cop, does it not, Archmagus?”

Her eyes narrowing, Razz already found herself nearing her limit of the pompous twat before her. “If you want something sharp to impale yourself on, I’m sure her highness Princess Ce-“

“Oh please, if you were going to truly feed me to the wolves, you would’ve already done so by now. Posturing won’t do you a bit of good.” He sat down and looked at them. “Waiter, I’ll have the foie de gras, with a decent bottle of merlot. My friend here will have two six-year-old fillies from whatever this world’s equivalent of Thailand is.” Divine didn’t seem to notice or more likely care that his cellmate had proceeded to go to sleep on his small cot in the back.

Twilight frowned. “You seem to enjoy pushing your luck, don’t you, Mr. Right?”

“That’s Your Highness. I am still a prince.”

“No, you’re a corpse—according to Sunset you faked your own death before your little murder spree in the human world. The dead bear no titles in the afterlife,” Twilight told him. “Now, you can either continue to insult my archmage, or I can make things much worse for you.”

Divine Right raised an eyebrow. “Worse than condemning me to Hell? I think not.”

“I think I’ve had enough of this,” Razz said. “Your highness, may I?”

Twilight had no idea of what Razz was up to, but she nodded. “Do what you must, archmage.”

Razz reached in with her magic again and slammed the stallion against the wall. “Now, unless you want me to use an amniomorphic on you to change you into a mare and give your buddy a new fillyfriend, I’d really suggest you shut up and answer our questions. That is, unless you like the idea of potentially ending up pregnant.”

Thaaaaaaaaaaaaat won’t be necessary!” interrupted Divine Right, now having turned to fully face his visitors and with a far friendlier demeanor. “Now, how may I be of service, Princess Twilight?”

“For starters, you can tell us all about your magical heritage,” Twilight said with authority.

“Ah yes, my great, unappreciated ancestor. His Grace Baldassare, Il Vescovo di Cavalcanti, the Great Hermeticist and Most Profound of Alchemists,” Right seemed to smile slightly. “Obviously, I presume something has come up regarding his affairs with this world and the Black Unicorn that gave him the power to change a world? Some day that debt will be repaid. Or is it the corrupted sword that once defended and now kills? Or the realm on the other side of the beyond? Or perhaps you came to ask me more about the strumpet that defeated me wearing the face of my cousin’s daughter?”

To Razz’s shock, Twilight reached out and grabbed him, slamming him into the ground. “I do not have time for your antics, Mr. Right” Twilight said in a dangerous tone. “So unless you wish to push your luck further – and beyond the breaking point – I suggest you change the subject. Now.

“As you wish; I’d rather not talk about that little cocktease, anyway,” Divine said with glee. “I believe we were discussing more...important topics?”

“Humor us,” said Twilight flatly, her tone devoid of any humor. “Why would this ‘Black Unicorn’ bestow his gifts upon a man who was widely considered a crackpot?”

“My ancestor was a divine being among the paltry peasantry of his age!” angrily roared the stallion, and while neither Razz nor Twilight showed any outward reaction, inwardly they smiled at having gotten the desired response. “Yes, I will admit that there isn’t much that can be absolutely confirmed about him—and months of paying top euro to the finest researchers in their field for exacting work with no useable answers can attest to that—but then again, the most important thing about him is the deal he brokered with the Black Unicorn in that mirror, isn’t it?“

“Cut the crap and just get to the point,” cut off Razz, wanting to be rid of the bastard as soon as possible. Every additional minute was making her skin crawl by being near the slimy wannabe conqueror of his world.

“Ahem! Yes, well…” grumbled Right, “As much as you ponies have your high nobility families, so too did the ancient and venerable Florentine Republic, and it was only fitting that the most well respected and powerful of them all was the Cavalcanti bloodline. But petty politics only got you so far at the time, so he began research into the arcane. While his early dabblings in alchemy got him forcibly removed from the clergy, he did eventually succeed in opening up contact with another world. He brokered a deal with the Black Unicorn that ensured he and his descendants would know true power!””

“Okay, yeah. Sure,” droned Twilight, understanding exactly why Sunset had considered Cavalcanti a nutjob. Sunset had sent Twilight a book on the subject; the alicorn was sure that she’d read it later, because she’d need a laugh.

“This deal he made. Cavalcanti gave up his wife in exchange for those powers, right?” asked Razz.

“A fair enough trade for the Black Unicorn. The father of fathers gave him a weak, mewling girl who was lucky to have been born to serve her destiny. And in turn, my revered ancestor received the wellspring of magic, as well as a bride worthy of him—a girl transmuted from a lowly creature such as yourselves to be the mother of those who would be the world’s rulers!”

“Yeah? And how’d that work out for you?” Raspberry asked with an air of smugness, and Divine scowled.

The stallion then rubbed a hoof against his chest as if a mere triviality, then continued. “If there is a God, I’m not sure even he would know the reasons why Sombra desired to exchange knowledge of magical wonders for a stupid woman. Back in the fifteenth century, women were raised and treated as little more than baby-making status symbols, their only purpose was to look pretty and be married off for political ties. They’d be lucky to know how to read anything other than the Bible from cover to cover. Unless of course, he wanted a, ahem, ‘unique’ new way to experience the pleasures of the flesh.” Right then chuckled and made the two princesses even more uncomfortable around him. “A pity it was never known just what powers he gained, but then again it just adds to his mysterious glory, no?”

“If that helps you sleep at night,” nonchalantly replied the Princess of Friendship. She’d originally planned to ask about what Divine Right knew about Sombra, but apparently if the bastard was only just now logically figuring out the name of the ‘Black Unicorn’ then he probably wouldn’t know anything of value in that regard. “Alright, one last question. Well, two actually.”

“I’m all ears.”

This was where Twilight knew she had to be careful. If Divine Right knew about the message on the mirror and what it potentially heralded, there was no way he would help them. “This mare the Black Unicorn gave to Cavalcanti as a wife. Was she… pure?”

“You mean to ask if she was a virgin? I think it likely,” Divine answered. “An already broken flower would have been a poor gift, even with the powers he also received taken into consideration. And Cavalcanti made no complaints about her in his memoirs.”

“And was she the only one the unicorn sent over?”

He put a hoof to his chin in a way Twilight wasn’t sure was meant to be mocking. “Hmmm, to be perfectly honest, I cannot say for certain, but…I still have records stored at my villa back in France—records that neither the French government nor officials from the Bonaparte Family had access to—so I’m sure that if you were to let me out of this cage we could, oh, negotiate access to that info?”

Twilight just shook her head. “Are you really that stupid?” She then slowly began walking up to the bars, regal displeasure etched on her face. “Do you really think we’re so desperate for information we’d willingly turn you loose to wreak havoc upon both worlds again?” At this point, she was almost touching her muzzle to the bars, and while Right was showing no clear signs of panic, she could sense he was sweating up a storm mentally. “No, and honestly? This prison cell is probably the only place you can be put and still expect to live another hour, if not less.”

He rolled his eyes. “Oh, please, I’ve heard blustering threats before. Show me something new.”

“Yes,” a voice said. “Perhaps she shall.” Divine Right opened his eyes in fright. Razz also knew that voice. The mulberry unicorn turned to see Princess Celestia standing there, dressed in her battle armor, her sword Dawnbringer at her side. “And now I see what you two were up to.”

“Um...Celestia, this isn’t what it looks like,” Twilight said nervously.

“Twilight, I am very cross with you. You as well, Raspberry,” the ruler of Equestria said, looking at them both. “You both knew the pain I felt when I lost my child. And though she ascended, she was still killed due to the actions of one individual.” Celestia then turned to look at Divine.

“YOU.”

And then Celestia’s body became living flame as she passed through the protective wall. “There is nothing that will save you. Nothing that can protect you. Nothing that will grace you.” Divine’s eyes grew wide with terror as he looked at her. “There is nothing for you in this reality other than pain. Searing, scorching, nuclear flame from the very fibers of the sun itself.”

Divine ran over to where Tripwire was dozing, but it was no use trying to hide behind him, as Celestia picked them both up with her power. “Another human, I see? A friend of yours?”

Tripwire woke up, feeling the heat. “What th––?” He looked into the twin stars of anger that were Celestia’s eyes. “What the fuck?!”

“Yes, what the fuck indeed,” the ivory alicorn spoke. “I take it you two are the worst of what my daughter’s adopted world has to offer. As such, you are a pestilence and a disease, a rotting tumor in my realm. And as any good surgeon knows, the best way to stop a virus...is to kill it.”

Tripwire became a blubbering mass of tears, begging something in barely intelligible Equish. Divine, on the other hand, felt something wet travel down his leg as he looked on with shock.

“Prepare to die,” Celestia announced, her intensity growing so bright that not even Raspberry could look at her anymore. Twilight, for her part, however, watched intently.

The world turned an intense white.

And as vision returned to normal, two stallions stood there in a puddle of yellow, sobbing and holding each other for comfort like a pair of scared fillies.

“And that,” Twilight said, powering down her horn, “is what will come for you one day if you’re not careful, Prince Divine Right. You had best hope I never tell my mentor where I’ve hidden you.” With that, Twilight walked off, with a shocked Raspberry in tow.

“That was all an illusion?” Razz asked, stunned at what her friend had conjured. “I couldn’t even tell!”

“That was an illusion, Razz,” Twilight agreed, “but that was also my anger directed towards him, the kind of anger that burns a soul. And that’s nothing compared to what Celestia will do if she ever finds him. So now we have a prisoner who might be a little more receptive to our demands next time.”

“You sly dog,” Razz said in an impressed imitation of Rainbow Dash’s voice. “Didn’t know you had it in you.”

The two princesses did not say anything more until they were safely outside the prison’s main gate, where a waiting chariot with a full complement of pegasi guards had been ready the moment it had landed an hour prior. Far less patient was the green and gold phoenix who, upon sighting his mistress, happily soared over and playfully nipped at her before taking his usual roost on her noggin.

“To Ponyville, your highness?” asked the lead pegasus, a pony both were familiar with.

“Yes, please. Thank you, Skyracer,” she replied, and soon all were off and away from the depressing landscape that now faded in the distance. Letting herself finally relax, Twilight sighed. “Well, we came all this way and we’re no closer to having any idea about the other possible Scions. At least we know now that the mare Sombra gave to Cavalcanti wasn’t pregnant at the time, and that in all likeliness no others had been sent over. This means none of these Scions can be on Earth.”

The alicorn shuddered slightly at the thought of the man who Divine Right idolized. While she was only Princess Cadence’s sister-in-law, being around the Princess of Love for most of her life had made Twilight more than a little uncomfortable about cases where the loving bond between two individuals was so easily destroyed for selfish reasons. She was sort of glad that Divine Right hadn’t been able to go into detail about Crisalide della Lucca’s ultimate fate at the hooves of Sombra, whatever it had been certainly had not been what the poor girl had deserved.

“True,” disagreed Raspberry. “We’ve also learned that Divine Right is just as in the dark about the Scions as we are. Whatever Sombra’s plan for them was, he kept it very close to his chest.”

“Right,” agreed Twilight, before sighing. “I’m glad we narrowed down the search for these other three Scions to just our world, but still...finding them isn’t going to be easy.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry too much about having to track them down,” sighed Razz as she spotted the bright, lively colors of Ponyville rise in the distance. “Trouble always seemed to be waiting for me no matter where I traveled. Now that I can travel wherever I need to in order to get my duties done, I’m sure I’ll hear some news about ponies like me that won’t fit any timeframes or locations I’ve been to. That should be the best place to start.”

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