• Published 15th Mar 2017
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Of Heaven and Earth - Garuda IV



It's been over a thousand years since Sol was hidden away and sealed in crystal. Now freed by Twilight and her friends, he must readjust to the present while also having to deal with old grudges both from and against him.

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Chapter 6- Returning to the Surface

Time ticked by as Sol remained sitting in front of his father's stone prison with Pinkie supporting him with a hug. Despite him barely knowing them, Sol found himself comfortable with them. If they were chosen by the Elements of Harmony to be the next Bearers, and they made it all the way down there and freed him, then surely they could be trusted. Thankfully for them, it didn't take long for Sol to start feeling better, having gone through the worse of it already.

Muttering his thanks to them, Sol was released from Pinkie. Giving his father's statue a goodbye nuzzle, Sol wiped his eyes and turned around to face the others.

"I'm sorry that you all had to see that."

"There's no need to apologize, darling," Rarity dismissed. "We understand that some hurts don't go away so easily, especially when it comes to something like this."

"Yeah. We get where you're comin' from," Applejack said. Some of us more than others.

Twilight stepped forward with a sad frown on her face. "If you want, we can leave you alone and give you some more personal time?"

"Thank you, but I'm over most of it... I think."

"Not to interrupt this moment," Daring spoke, "but if we're all done here, then could we move it along please? Incase everypony's forgotten, it's already nighttime, and I'd rather not have to worry about running low on food."

"There's no need for that, Miss Do-" Sol began as they started making their way through the castle's front courtyard, only to be interrupted by Daring.

"Just Daring or Daring Do please. Like I said before, calling me 'Miss' is just too formal and makes me feel old."

"Oh. Right. Sorry about that. Anyway, like I was saying, if you're worried about food and drinking water, then we could always get some from one of the food depots."

"The what?" Twilight asked.

"The food depots."

"But I thought that nopony has been down here for over a thousand years? How can they have food in them if nopony's here to farm them?"

"Because my earth elementals have been looking after the farms, and have been harvesting and storing the food."

"There are earth elementals? But we didn't see any of them on our way here?"

"That's probably because you didn't go near the farms where they're all at."

"Eenope," Applejack replied before blinking in realization. "Now hold on a second here. If they've been collectin' the food for that long, then wouldn't that mean that the food would've all gone bad by now?"

"Not quite. Each food depot is covered in preserving runes that'll keep the food as fresh as the day they were picked."

"Alright, so where are they?" Pinkie asked.

"The closest one is over on the other side of the Undercity."

"... 'Undercity'? ... really?" Rainbow deadpanned.

"What?"

"First there's the Underkingdom, and now there's the Undercity. What's next? The Underdome?"

"..."

"Oh come on! I was just kidding! You seriously have one?!" she bellowed in laughter.

"What? I have a thing for structures that are built underground," Sol defended.

"Speaking of underground," Twilight began. "We talked with a stone golem that explained a little bit that this place was built as a safe haven incase something happened to Equestria."

"That would be correct," he nodded.

"Alright, but how did you create all of this?"

"Actually, most of this was just a giant cavern when I first found it. After I brought it up with my father and told him of my plans for it, he decided that it would be a good idea and helped in making it into what it is now."

"You're kidding," Spike said. "There's no way that he could do all of that, and there's no way that there was enough white stone here to create all of this."

"First off, my father was the Lord of Earth and a Scaleless Dragon, meaning that he's literally Earth Incarnate. He had control over everything that is earth related, be they stone or plant."

Applejack blinked. "So he really did make all of this?"

"... well I did help him with a chunk of it, but yes, this was his doing for the most part. As for the part about the white stone, like I said, as the Lord of Earth, he had control over everything earth related, so he just used his powers to change the stone from normal rocks to these white ones."

"Hey, I have a quick question, but it's kinda personal," Pinkie said, but got a nod from Sol. "If your dad was the Lord of Earth and is now turned to stone, then does that make you the new Lord of Earth?"

A flash of sadness briefly crossed Sol's features. "It does. However, thanks to the crystal I was sealed in being cracked and my magic having leaked out of me, I no longer have enough magic to do all of that. Hay, I doubt that I even have enough magic to grow a flower or even levitate anything."

"Wait, you can use pony magic?" Twilight asked interestingly.

"I can. Like a unicorn or alicorn, I can channel my magic through my horn, or horns in this case, and cast pony magic from them."

"Sorry to interrupt this... again," Daring said with a bit of irritation, "but what about that food?"

"Oh, right. Sorry about that."

Bringing a claw up to his mouth, Sol let out a loud whistle that echoed throughout the night sky. Several silent seconds later, a flock of gargoyles flew over and landed around them with a heavy thud before falling to a knee.

"Yes, Your Highness?" they all said in unison.

"Thank you all for coming so quickly," Sol thanked them. "We require some food from the depots. Would some of you go and bring some to us for our journey to the surface?"

Nodding silently, three gargoyles flew off to fetch the food. Once they were out of sight, Sol turned around to see Twilight and the others all looking at him with shocked expressions.

"Is something the matter?"

"Dude! You're royalty?!" Rainbow shouted.

"I am... didn't I mention that?"

"NO!"

"... oops."

"Okay, just who are you?" Twilight asked.

"I'm sorry. I guess I should better introduce myself," Sol said before clearing his throat. "My name is Solar Rupture, but my friends and the princesses called me Sol. And down here, I am King of the Underkingdom."

There were varying degrees of expressions coming from them, ranging from disbelief, confusion, shock, nervousness, and excitement.

"Are you really a king?" Rarity asked.

"I am," Sol confirmed, only to tap his chin in thought. "Then again, I suppose that without any subjects to rule over, I'm not much of a king now am I?" He paused when he saw Spike and a few of the others starting to bow and quickly raised a claw for them to stop. "Please, there's no need for that."

"But-"

"I may be a king down here, but to the rest of Equestria, I am just another face in the crowd. And, Celestia forbid, until such a time does come that this place is ever used for its intended purpose, I intend on keeping it that way."

Everyone shared a look with one another.

"I must say that I wasn't expecting an answer like that from a king," Rarity said with a raised eyebrow.

"It's how Princess Celestia raised me," he shrugged. "She even sent me off to live with a family of earth ponies for a year and a half without magic to better understand their way of life, and to help me understand the meaning of hard work and humility as well. Thanks to that, I've become a better pony, and have come to rather enjoy working with my claws. I also found it strangely pleasing to come home with sore muscles after a long day of work because of it."

"Can't argue with that," Applejack proudly agreed.

Smiling in agreement, Sol looked up when he heard wings flapping to see that the gargoyles he'd sent had returned with a small bag of food in each of their claws. Once they landed, they divided the food up between them and prepared to leave again.

"Are you sure you can walk all the way there?" Starlight questioned. "I mean, it is a rather long walk, and if you can't walk there, then I doubt that you'll be able to fly there either."

"Not to mention the long tunnel we have to go through," Rainbow added with a groan.

Pausing to think about it, Sol nodded. "Yes, you're right. I doubt that I could even make it to the next town in my current condition."

"What's the name of it anyway? The Undertown?"

"Nope. It's called Subterraria."

"... does everything here have some sort of rock or underground pun in their name?"

"... not everything," he pouted, causing Rainbow to chuckle at him.

"Moving along," Twilight redirected. "So if you can't make it there, then what's your plan? Because I don't think that we can carry you and the others."

Sol motioned to the gargoyles surrounding them. "These gargoyles aren't just guards. They can help fly us over to the entrance within a few hour's ride. That is, if you're all willing?"

All it took from them was a glance before they agreed that it would be much quicker getting back by flying on them rather than walking again. Splitting up to pick their mounts, Applejack waited for Sol to be out of hearing range before she went up to Twilight and stopped her with a hoof on her shoulder.

"Is something wrong, Applejack?" Twilight asked.

She glanced over to Sol and spoke in a more quiet voice. "Somethin' doesn't feel quite right about his story."

"Which ones?"

"That's the thing," she said confusingly. "Ah'm not sure which ones are truth and which are lies. Now, y'all know that Ah'm really good when it comes ta tellin' if somepony's lyin', but with him... well, it's kinda hard ta say."

"What do you feel?"

"Ah feel like he's tellin' the truth in some places, half-truths in others, and is lyin' about the rest."

Twilight glanced over Applejack's shoulder to see Sol climbing onto the gargoyle's back.

"Well, to be fair, Applejack, we did only just meet him, so he probably doesn't quite trust us enough to tell us everything yet," she rationalized. "Probably won't for a while. Besides, we should consider ourselves lucky that he even told us what he did already."

"Ah know, but still, it's got me wonderin' as ta what's so important ta hide it from us. Ah mean, he did just open up ta us about his pa and what happened ta him, and those weren't lies."

"True, but we did kinda catch him red-hoofed." Twilight placed a reassuring hoof on her shoulder. "Don't worry, Applejack. We'll find out in time, but for now, how about we get out of here?"

Nodding in agreement, Applejack walked with Twilight up to a pair of gargoyles.

"Ah'm actually kinda surprised of ya, Twi," she said, climbing aboard her gargoyle mount. "Ah would've figured that ya would've wanted ta stay here a bit longer."

"Oh, you have no idea how much I'd like to," she smiled. "But the others are right and that we should be getting back home. Besides, I'd like to see Princess Celestia and ask her a few questions."

"What was that about Princess Celestia?" Sol asked, having heard the tail end of their conversation and rode over to them.

"Just that I was thinking about going to see her tomorrow," Twilight replied.

"... why tomorrow? I mean, I understand that it's late out, but the castle is just above the entrance to this place, so why not see her tonight?"

Twilight paused for a second before answering, "Because she and Princess Luna moved to a different location."

Sol was about to ask why they moved like that, but considering that the castle was built in the middle of the Everfree Forest, it made sense to him that they would've moved to a safer location eventually. Not that they needed it, of course, but more for the other ponies who would have to venture through the forest to see them.

"Oh. Well then, would you mind if I came along with you? I'm sure that she'll want to know that I'm up and about again... that, and if they did move, then I don't know where they are now."

"I don't see why not."

"Then let's get going!" Spike called out. "We'll need as much sleep as we can get if we're gonna make the morning train to Canterlot."

"What's a 'train'... and what's a 'Canterlot'?" Sol wondered.

"Canterlot is the capital city of Equestria where the princesses seated at," Twilight replied. "As for what a train is... that will take some time, so I'll explain it to you in detail later."

Keeping her to her word, Sol led the way as they flew up into the air on their gargoyle mounts and towards the entrance. As they flew through the night sky, Twilight flew her mount up alongside Sol's.

"I've been meaning to ask you something."

"Yes, Twilight?"

"How did you do this?" she asked, gesturing to the night sky above them, complete with stars and a moon.

"It's an illusion created by my aunt, Aurora, Lady of Life and Light," Sol began to explain. "She used her powers over the light to enchant the ceiling, making it appear exactly like what the skies above Equestria would look like."

"So this night sky is in real-time then?"

"Correct. What we see above us at this moment is the exact same as it is on the surface... at least, it's supposed to."

"Alright, but if that's true, then how's the sun able to give the plants down here the nutrients they need to survive during the daytime?"

"That, I'm not really sure about. I don't know the details behind it, but Aunt Aurora and Uncle Pyre both worked together on it." Sol rubbed his head and sighed. "Now I'm starting to regret not having asked them about it sooner."

Interested by it, Twilight pondered what other numerous spells could be involved that were used in the creation of the Underkingdom. For a few hours she thought about it and the other spells that went into this place until she felt her gargoyle mount suddenly shift downward and land on the ground.

As everyone got off their mounts, they thanked the gargoyles for their help and made their way into the cave.

"So how are you feeling after that, Fluttershy?" Rainbow asked.

"I'm okay," she smiled. "I'll admit that I was a bit nervous at first, but that gargoyle wasn't so bad after I got to talking with it."

"Good to hear." Rainbow turned to face ahead of herself and sighed loudly. "And now comes the annoying part."

"Speaking of this tunnel," Starlight began as she faced Sol, "what's up with it anyway? How come Twilight's and Rarity's magic works in here, but mine doesn't?"

"Because within these walls are special stones that prevents magic being used by anypony who isn't a Bearer of the Elements of Harmony, myself, Starswirl, or one of the Scaleless Dragons," Sol explained with a small smile. "It was actually my father's idea. We were trying to think of a way to make this place more safe and secure for us while hampering any intruders, and this was his solution."

"It kinda reminds me of how Chrysalis' throne prevented non-changelings from using their magic in the Changeling Kingdom."

Sol gave a deadpan expression. "Yes. Exactly like that," he sighed. "I told father that carving a throne from that stone for her and giving it to her was a bad idea."

"So, basically that means that I'm the only one who can't use their magic in here," Starlight sourly concluded.

"Does that mean that Twilight can teleport all of us out of here then?" Rainbow asked, desperately not wanting to walk the whole way again.

"Now that I know where we're going, I should be able to," Twilight figured. "But doing so will drain me pretty good."

"I can teleport us all back to Ponyville after we get back to the surface," Starlight offered.

"Thanks. I'll more than likely need it."

"But what about Sol?" Fluttershy inquired.

"What about him?"

"Where will he be staying?"

"I have a room at the castle," he shrugged. "If you want, I'm sure that we could find all of you some spare rooms to rest in for the night? Even if the princesses moved out of it, I doubt that they would've just abandoned it."

"Yeah, that's not a very good idea," Daring warned.

"Really? Why not?"

"Because the castle's in ruins. It's been like that since Nightmare Moon."

Sol came to a stop as his eyes locked onto Daring. "Who's Nightmare Moon... and when did this happen?"

Twilight shared a knowing look with the others before she approached him.

"I was hoping to ease you into this since you've been asleep for so long," she cautiously began, "but not long after Discord's defeat, Princess Luna's jealously over Princess Celestia corrupted her and transformed her into Nightmare Moon. After that, she tried to overthrow Princess Celestia, but was stopped when she used the Elements of Harmony against her and imprisoned her in the moon. It was then a few years ago when Nightmare Moon escaped from her prison and brought with her eternal night. It's also the time when my friends and I found the Elements, became the new Bearers of Harmony, and purged the Nightmare from Princess Luna."

Sol was unmoving as he processed this new information. It was bad enough to hear that his old home was destroyed, but to find out that it was done by Celestia and Luna fighting was becoming too much for him. Feeling his eyes starting to water again, Sol gritted his teeth in an attempt to hold them back, and looked directly at Twilight's apologetic and regretful expression.

"Take us up."

Twilight blinked. "What?"

"I need to see this for myself. Please, Twilight, teleport us up to the surface."

Hearing the sadness in his voice, Twilight slowly nodded and lit her horn to teleport them all back up. It took her a few moments to charge up her magic, but soon enough, she enveloped everyone in a blinding flash of light. Once the light died down, she saw that they weren't up on the surface like she'd intended, but instead in front of the stone wall entrance to the surface. Stepping forward, Twilight pressed her magic against the stone door until it started to descend. Once it stopped, Twilight watched Sol as he walked past her up to the Tree of Harmony, and placed a claw on it.

"At least you're still here, old friend," Sol muttered, feeling a brief moment of happiness when the tree glowed for a moment in recognition of him.

Remembering this place, Sol looked back to see the others approaching and led them out of the cave. Looking around, he saw a set of stairs running up the side of the cliff and made his way up them. By the time he got to the top, he found himself over by a rickety rope bridge leading across the chasm to the ruined castle. Seeing the state of his old home after a thousand years, Sol looking upon the ruins with disbelief and ignored the movement of the others coming up from the corner of his eyes as he slowly walked over to the bridge.

"Sol?"

Hearing Twilight call his name, Sol paused, but didn't turn back to look at her or the others.

"I'm... I need to be alone right now."

Without another word from any of them, Twilight and the others watched as Sol made his way over to the castle ruins.

"Shouldn't somepony go after him?" Fluttershy asked once he disappeared into the castle.

"He did ask to be left alone," Rarity said. "Besides, imagine what he must be going through right now."

Starlight nodded. "I think the worst part for him is that one moment it was still standing, and the next, he wakes up to see it instead in ruins."

"We should also remember that Princess Celestia took him in shortly after his birth, which also would've made this place Sol's home," Twilight added. "And I wouldn't doubt that hearing about Princess Celestia and Princess Luna fighting has made things even worse for him."

"So, what should we do then?" Rainbow wondered.

"For now, you should all head back home and get some rest. I'm going go to go in after him."

"But your magic-"

"I'm fine, Starlight. While the mass teleportation spell was tiring, it didn't take as much out of me as I thought it would. I'll go in after him. Once he's had some time to himself to come to terms with what's happened, I'll approach him and offer him a room at the castle for the night."

"You sure you don't want somepony else to stay behind and come with you?" Spike asked.

"I'm sure, Spike. Right now, I think that the less ponies there are, the better."

Though hesitant, they went along with Twilight's decision as Starlight lit her horn in preparation for a mass teleport spell. Once Twilight saw that they'd all disappeared in a flash of light, she turned back to the castle ruins and followed after Sol.

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