• Published 30th Aug 2015
  • 1,110 Views, 59 Comments

Do Not Go Gentle - ShinigamiDad

Death's Harbinger needs Luna and Twilight's help to solve a centuries-old mystery

  • ...

The Pit

Luna and Twilight rematerialized again in the ruins of Luna’s dreamscape castle, finding Reaper already there, pacing under the banner, muttering.

Luna cocked her head sideways: “What is it, Reaper? What did you see?”

Reaper furrowed his brow and turned toward the Princesses, but did not look at them; rather he gazed past them.

Twilight and Luna looked at each other, then back at Reaper, who had turned away, again.

“I saw the shadows, too,” Twilight said, encouragingly, “with the different layers. Some almost seemed to move by themselves!”

Reaper stopped: “Yes. It looked that way. Or were they being tugged as though on puppet strings?”

Luna cleared her throat: “I, too, saw darkness beyond dark, as when we witnessed Sea Foam’s death. You said you had wanted to “see inside the cave”--did you?”

Reaper chewed his lip: “Yes.”

Twilight shifted nervously and glanced at Luna, who shrugged. Twilight prompted: “And…?”

“And what?” replied Reaper, “Oh--the shadow, the cave, the dark collapsing around Zephyr’s face. Yes.”

He turned suddenly to face his companions: “Come with me.”

The scene spun and blurred, and for a moment they stood in the emptiness of Reaper’s “waiting room,” before being whisked away to a vast courtyard, enclosed by a pair of mighty gates. A three-headed dog lay at the gates, dozing lightly.

Luna and Twilight both looked around, confused.

“Why have you brought us to Tartarus, Reaper?” Luna asked.

“Right,” he replied, striding out across the courtyard, veering away from the high platform typically used to house important prisoners, “you’ve both been here, but only here: the area of the gates and courtyard.”

Luna and Twilight trotted briskly in order to catch up with Reaper as he headed underneath a dark archway, and down a broad, dark stairway, as wide as a highway.

Twilight shuddered violently as she passed under the archway, and Luna’s horn, which she had lit in order to see through the gloom, faded and flickered.

Reaper didn’t look back, but intensified the glow from his own horn to compensate: “Yeah, you two will find you’re not going to generate much magic down here. You’re entering the real Tartarus, now!”

Luna and Twilight shot a look of concern at each other, and Luna spoke, with rising alarm: “Why in the name of my sister are we entering Tartarus? Have we not already encountered enough darkness?”

Reaper chuckled: “I guarantee you, your big sis and her name have nothing to do with this place!”

He stopped at a fork in the stairway: “Let’s see,” he mused, “gotta be careful not to take the kid down too deep, or she might really lose it…”

Twilight bristled and took a deep breath to reply, but Reaper interrupted: “Believe me, Twilight, there are places down in the deepest levels of this place where even I get a bit wobbly!”

He turned to the right-hand stairway, which led down in a shallow arc.

“This should do fine. We can head down to what I call the “Observation Deck.” From there I’m fairly sure I can show you why we’re here.”

The three ponies walked briskly in silence for several minutes--even their hoof-falls on the obsidian steps seemed muffled, as though they were walking on thick grass.

Suddenly the stairs ended, and the companions stepped through a broad doorway and out onto a ledge, wide enough for the three of them, though not much more.

The air about them was stuffy and oppressive, and even Reaper’s horn cast very little light.

“So what is this place?” Twilight asked, squinting in the inky blackness, trying to discern the shape of the space in which they stood.

“This is the high edge of the Pit of Tartarus,” Reaper explained. “This is where spirits, demons, ghouls, whatever, go to be banished and swallowed up until Entropy itself ends the Cosmos.

“Why have you brought us here, Reaper?” Luna pressed. “There is naught to see!”

Reaper smiled faintly: “That’s a very good way of putting it!”

Again, Luna and Twilight, looked at each other in confusion.

Reaper turned away, stepped to the very edge of the precipice, and drew his sword. It glowed a bright purplish blue, now, far brighter and more visible than they had seen before.

Reaper beckoned to the two alicorns to step up to the edge with him: “C’mon ladies--you can’t cast much light, but every little bit helps!” His own horn burst forth with sudden radiance, and Luna and Twilight added what they could.

Shadows sprang up all about them, and they looked down into the Pit. Vertigo nearly overcame Twilight, and Reaper had to steady her with his hoof on her shoulder.

“I-I don’t understand what I’m seeing,” she stammered, “it’s like I can’t focus, like there is literally nothing down there--no light, no space, no anything!”

Luna peered down as well, grunting as she strained to produce enough light to pierce even a little way down. It had no effect.

“I, too, am baffled,” she admitted. “I have experienced, yea even created the blackest of blacks, but even I cannot penetrate this gloom!”

“Now try a little parlor trick,” he prompted, “unleash your mightiest energy bolts down there, as though you were delivering a killing blow.”

The two Princesses fired the highest-intensity bursts they could manage. To their clouded perception, the beams only appeared to travel a few feet beyond their horns.

“What is that stuff?” Twilight whispered, laying down her ears.

“Luna had it right before,” Reaper replied, “it’s “naught,” nothing, pure absence. A void of infinite negation. It is the Pit of Tartarus, and all who are cast into it, may as well have never existed.”

He turned back to the alicorns: “Now, my honored guests, which of you can answer your own questions? Why are we here? Why am I showing you this?”

Luna furrowed her brow and answered tentatively, “Because this is what you saw at the end of Zephyr’s nightmare. This is the darkness that has defied our attempts to see through, or even properly see at all!”

Twilight’s eyebrows jumped: “So we were seeing the Pit of Tartarus, pulled up into ponies’ dreams?!”

Reaper smiled: “Not possible--literally! The Pit is this place. You could no more remove a piece or transport a tendril or whatever, than you could pull the moon down and float it in Celestia’s royal duck pond! It is one of the few truly fixed locations in all the Cosmos.”

Twilight frowned: “Well, then…”

Reaper chuckled: “You were on the right track, though. No, it can’t be the Pit itself, but somepony, creature, demon, whatever, has created a very accurate simulacrum of the Pit--a Void, if you will, that they can create or summon.”

“Why would somepony create such a thing?” Luna wondered, as she leaned out over the Pit, and prepared to take flight in an attempt to get a better view.

“Woah!” Reaper cried in alarm, cutting in front of her, barring her from becoming airborne.

“That would be the last flight you ever took, Princess!” he said, pressing his body against Luna’s reaching up to push her right wing back down. She looked puzzled.

“Physics, the way you understand it, doesn’t really operate out over that area.” Reaper explained. “You would simply fall like a statue, and disappear without a trace. It would look like you were flying, but you would sink like a stone without so much as a struggle!”

Luna laid her ears down and backed away two paces: “Thank you for stopping me, then Reaper--that would have been awful!”

He nodded: “That’s an understatement!” He turned back toward the Pit.

“The interesting thing is,” he continued, “even if you take the other stairways we passed earlier, and descend to the lower levels, it roughly looks like this ledge. It always appears as though you’re standing along the top rim.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow: “What’s the point of having more levels, then?”

“They have broader ledge areas which are used to house long-term, very dangerous beasts and creatures, that need to be restrained, if not destroyed,” Reaper replied.

He stepped back toward the edge and kicked a small stone off into the impenetrable gloom.

“Honestly,” he concluded, “I don’t know why they don’t just pitch all the ones at the bottom level into the Pit. They’re never leaving, anyway.”

Luna shuddered: “How dreadful! Wouldn’t death be preferable in such a case?”

Reaper shrugged: “Maybe. Perhaps that’s the point: Fate wants them punished, and being stuck at the bottom of this place, next to the Pit, is even worse than oblivion, I presume.”

He turned away and began to walk back toward the archway.

“I have no real interest in finding out in any event; I’ve never been to the bottom, and I don’t plan on making the trip anytime soon…”

Luna joined Reaper and passed under the entryway, then stopped abruptly. She looked back over her shoulder and squinted into the darkness: “Where is Twilight?”

Reaper’s head snapped around, and he dashed back into the chamber, horn blazing: “Shit!”

Twilight was hovering just beyond the lip of the ledge, mere inches from the Pit itself.

Reaper swung his blade in a wide arc, and a sheet of violet-white flame sprang up directly in Twilight’s face. She reared back, startled, and fell sprawling on the ground. Reaper spun restraining bands of energy from his horn, pinning her wings.

He sat down heavily next to Twilight as Luna ran back into the chamber.

“What were you thinking, Twilight?!” Luna demanded, in a panicked tone.

Twilight blinked and furrowed her brow: “I-I wasn’t thinking. I just couldn’t resist the pull. It seemed so--I don’t know--eternal. Like all the knowledge of everything forever is right there--you just have to reach out and touch it!”

Reaper nodded grimly: “And it likely is there, for all the good it would do you!”

He helped Twilight to her hooves, and turned to Luna, who was glaring with near-parental anger at Twilight: “Don’t be too hard on her, Princess. You and I have centuries (or more) of experience with the “Awesome” and the “Cosmic” and the “Eternal.” It can be a bit overwhelming to a rookie.”

Once again he turned back to the archway, this time following close behind Twilight.

“Come on,” he said, “let’s get out of here.”