• Published 13th May 2012
  • 49,151 Views, 8,110 Comments

Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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The group reached a crest of silver stone in the deep shadow of the ruins. Sloping downward, a tunnel formed, at the end of which was an unnaturally smooth disc of granite. Rainbow Dash didn't notice anything remarkable about it, but immediately upon arriving, Ember Speak dashed towards the passageway and gave the polished surface several loud knocks with her hoof.

Rainbow Dash watched nervously, holding the weight of Swirls against her. The injured earth pony was shiver, still murmuring Stu's precious name.

After half a minute, there was a scraping noise, and the disc at the bottom of the passageway slid open. Four earth ponies appeared, brandishing crossbows and aiming towards the dismal gray light above. At the sight of the three, their bodies relaxed but their faces lit up with alarm.

“Ember! Praise the goddesses!”

“We heard the rumbling of a terrible fight! Where is his majesty?”

“Is that... Is that a pegasus?”

“There's a flock of broodlings just outside,” Ember said. “We must get Swirls to the physicians. She's hurt badly.”

“Where's Stu? Is he off helping Sam Rose?”

Swirls sharply inhaled, her face grimacing in sorrow.

Ember Speak fidgeted. She was about to answer when a golden figure dropped down among them. The ponies at the doorway gasped.

“Fear not...” Sam Rose exclaimed breathlessly, his brown coat sheen with sweat and his armor covered in scrapes and scorch marks. “I have taken at least four of the Matriarch's children from her. The flock has drawn back, for the moment.” His nostrils flared as he stared across the group. His eyes narrowed at the sight of Swirls' wounded body. He glanced at Rainbow Dash, then spoke to Ember Speak in a noticeably softer voice. “We are missing one?”

Ember's eyes moistened. She opened her mouth, but a distant scream lit the ears of everypony present.

The group spun about, gazing upwards. Through a fissure in the gray surface of Silvadel, a thick cluster of red scaled monsters descended. The dragons were not alone; they had something in their grasp. A splintery wooden pair of boards was stabbed into the rubble. Resting against the boards, bleeding and burnt, was a hauntingly familiar stallion.

“By the elders...” Samrose stammered. Ember had a hoof covered over her mouth. Rainbow Dash's face was twisted in horror.

The dragons swarmed around Stu, snarling and hissing at the poor pony. One dragon shook his snout and lurched forward. A tooth came loose from the red drake's maw, and another wyrm picked it up and—without wasting any time—shoved it through one of Stu's forelimbs, pinning it to the wooden boards along with the others.

Stu let loose a blood-curdling scream. His body writhed, pinned to the splintery array. As he heaved and sobbed in pain, a bright orange dragon slithered over. His jaw was noticeably larger than the other drakes, and his skull brandished a crown of jagged spines that lined the center of his cranium.

“They have a speaker,” Ember remarked.

“A what?” Rainbow Dash muttered.

“Shhh...” Ember's face was dull and forlorn. “Just listen...”

“Ponies!” The spiked drake shouted, gazing across the ruins of Silvadel with an iron frown. “Wretched vermin of her most holy nesting ground! Come out and face us! We have your brother! We have his blood and tears and teeth! Must you be so selfish that you leave him to such a cruel fate, like all the others?!”

“Here...” Rainbow Dash gently hoofed Swirls over to Ember Speak. “Take her...”

“Huh?” Ember supported the weight of Swirls' wounded body. “What are you—?”

“This will only take a sec!” Rainbow spread her wings to soar up out of the fissure in the ground.

She was blocked by a steel sword straight in her face. “You will do no such thing,” Sam Rose grunted.

“Don't you see he's dying?!” Rainbow Dash's voice cracked. “Somepony's gotta do something!”

“I will not let you expose all of us and this entrance to Sanctuary! This is exactly what they want!” Sam Rose said, grumbling. “For the good of all my subjects, don't make another move!”

“Don't you want to save him at all?”

“There is nothing left to save,” Sam Rose uttered coldly. His green eyes narrowed. “If you so much as consider compromising the rest of us, I'll toss you out there in pieces.”

Rainbow Dash stood there, biting her lip and shivering. As the drake spoke loudly towards the hidden ponies, she let Sam trot past her and gaze into the world outside.

The spiked dragon rested a claw on the top of the wooden boards to which Stu was pinned by the teeth. “You pathetic little ingrates never learn. And it is for that reason that you suffer. Leave this land! It is no longer yours! All that remains is meat and ashes!” The dragon glanced at his brethren. With a toothy grin, he stepped backwards and nodded their way. “Release her holy breath!”

Two red wyrms leaned forward. Taking deep breaths, they exhaled, unleashing waves of flame all across Stu's figure. The stallion screamed as his body was consumed from tail to mane with bright orange fire. He writhed and he shrieked and he suffered, but he was not dying. Not even close to it.

Swirls was sobbing to the point of collapse. Ember struggled to look at the horrible spectacle. She glanced tearfully over at Sam.

Sam took a deep breath. He held his hoof out.

Closing her eyes, Ember reached back to her belongings and passed the prince her crossbow.

“Everypony get to the tunnel and prepare to run...”

“Yes, your majesty.” Ember ducked down with an inconsolable Swirls. The ponies beneath the tunnel entrance prepared to seal the door at a moment's breath.

Rainbow Dash watched as Sam Rose walked up to the crest of the hole, aimed the crossbow, and yanked at its trigger. The iron bolt flew skyward, soared into the flames, and silence Stu's screaming.

The dragons all jolted in surprise. The speaker with his spines bore a confused expression. His slitted eyes scanned the nearby rubble for a sign of where the projectile had come from.

Sam Rose was dashing towards the entrance to Sanctuary. He paused at the door and hissed at Rainbow Dash.

Chilled to the bone, the prismatic pegasus followed him. Stu's burnt body may have been rendered silent, but his screams still echoed in her twitching ears. The door slid shut behind her, cutting off the scent of burning flesh, and casting the survivors into darkness.

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