• Published 9th Apr 2016
  • 2,291 Views, 124 Comments

Divine Move - Ice Star



Sombra is by no means an easy opponent. He is a manipulative wild card who has cheated death twice, and seeks to do so one more time. But, how many ponies can cheat death forever?

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十二 (The Castle Within a Castle)

The Alicorn Amulet. That's what he called it. Mayfly said that's what the corrupting trinket was called.

I blink and see the image of a page behind my eyes. It isn't flat like it would be if I were looking at the one in the Book.

A copy of that thing is in my head, but it isn't dangerous like the printed version I've kept out of sight. On this page is the illustration of an amulet in thin strokes of ink without any stray marks to be seen, which is slightly unnerving if you assume this was made through normal means. The amulet isn't very conservative in appearance and looks more like a proper addition to armor, it's made of two parts, one of which is fashioned to look like an Alicorn. This most likely led to the very creative name it's been given. I don't know what color it is but it's appearance is distinguishable enough.

Everything written does suggest it isn't very powerful since it seems to enhance magic that already existed, and of course that would make it dependant on the caster's ability. I imagine this would be worrisome if it fell into the hooves of Pink One, but otherwise I can't imagine it doing to much otherwise.

I look down at the map I'm holding again. After a few hours on a train I've managed to make it to what should be the edge of the Everfree Forest. This should be the same Everfree as the lost kingdom I read about in the library's' books as well.

If I don't find a clue there, I might at least find the amulet. I sigh and put the map away, glad to have been able loop around the town that was nearby. The edge of the forest is now in sight, and it looks very interesting to say the least: feral and shady. I doubt there are many ponies there, if there are any at all, which means that this place was meant for me.

I smirk and push a overhanging branch out of the way with Phobos’ pommel.

There's got to be something left. I already have the book, but that didn't give any answers; the Crystal Empire only had books on the past, and since that was when Onyx was still king, that information is even more outdated; the two Gates aren't enough; and Alicorns don't just fall from the sky.

...

The Everfree Forest was even better on the inside. Plants grew everywhere and there was so much to hear. The sun hardly poked through the leaves and the flora itself was a testament to all sorts of skirmishes, some natural as seen by the marks of magic left behind, others weren't since various marks of a blade could be seen. Somepony did live here but they only appeared to harvest plants, many of which I'd never seen before.

This place may not be as rugged or snowy as the Arctic but it certainly was wild, and I'd be thrilled to spend more time here if...

...Well if I...

I lose focus for a moment and almost walk into a tree on my left side.

...If I survive long enough.

Who knows how much longer I'm going to last on my magic?

Answering myself would be pointless so I just frown and walk on.

It's ironic really that for somepony like me who wanted to live so badly, I've spent most of my time hating life, mostly because of the king and all I do is exchange one prison for another. The castle, the ice, and soon I'll finally get to see what Tartarus looks like.

I'll get to be there forever.

How much time have I wasted? Couldn't there have been some point where I cut corners just a little bit more or stacked just one more card in my favor? Now here I am with a knife to my own throat all because I must have done something wrong. I work alone, so of course there's nopony to blame but myself because I'm sure I could have done so much more if I just did something else...

The only thing I can do now is keep going and just let more play out. I'll skip a few turns, but I can't leave the table.

The right move requires the right opportunity so all I have to do is save myself and from there I can salvage everything.

...

A branch nearly whacks me in my face, I grit my teeth and step aside just in time as I am not the lowly sort to allow a tree to best me. Although, I really shouldn't be gritting my teeth. Getting hit by a tree would be annoying to me to embarrassing to others. My teeth are embarrassing, not because they turn into fangs when I use certain amounts of dark magic but because they are fangs that I turn into teeth, only to revoke the minor enchantment I put upon them when angry or happy. It took a while to figure this out, for even I believed that it was the other way around.

I'm still as embarrassed about my teeth as I was then, and the habit I've picked up doesn't help.

They really do make me feel like a demon because of course I need a reminder of this. I have to be reminded that everypony finds me to be a monstrosity simply for existing.

I'm their scapegoat. I'm a paradox, an impossibility.

I've reached the clearing I've been searching for. Before me stands the ruins of a castle in a style that looks to be reminiscent of the Tribal Era except that the style feels off and certain implements are too advanced to have existed at the time. The decaying form of this beast that looms in the sunlight is sprawled across an island of stone, with only a small rope bridge to hang over the gap that separates where I am from this mess.

The gap looks like a moat, if you don't bother to check again. When I walk up to the rim I am able to confirm that this was carved with magic. The stone was either carved out and used to build the castle, like scooping mud from a bowl, or it was simply vaporized where it was. You would have to know some combination of pyromancy and light magic to this. Oh sure, there's a few other ways to get the same results but hardly at this magnitude with the proper containment.

So, a certain mare with a very sunny personality was the cause of all this, after all she's the only individual who specializes with fire like this. I still think the most curious part about all this is that this created a moat like structure, which means that she would have been blasting around something, but if this is the end result it wouldn't be for the sake of destruction for destruction's sake.

Celestia was trying to wipe out the defining features of whatever she built this castle upon.

...

My magic grips the handle of the door and pulls it open.

I've seen the interior before and because of what I saw, I nearly set a pink princess on fire. Of course I knew that everything shown in there was going to be real. I just didn't know that I was going to witness the events that I had selected to view. All I knew was that the date listed was important but never why.

I'm honestly glad that even by some odd twist I ended up being sealed first. If that hadn't been so, then who knows what kind of state I would have been in upon seeing the sky.

The 'what-ifs' are merely dismissed, I have the past to get lost in and it's a past that doesn't belong to me.

...

I stand in the shadows and look over the floor which is strewn with rubble that sits baking in the sun's light. This castle varies greatly from the Empire's which was built to soar upward while the castle here was built so it sprawls outward.

Carefully, I lift up a few chunks of the old ceiling. Each of them is at least thrice the size of me. They hang there in the air as I inspect the floor for any signs of where a passage or trapdoor could be. For all I know there's regular traps in here as well.

Frowning, I set the stones down and dust off my cloak. Before I continue anything I should try to find a diagram of more than just this throne room and main hall.

Celestia and Luna used to live here so there must be a library, or at least what's left of one somewhere around here.

I try my luck and pick a hallway to check at random.

It wouldn't be any other library either, I thought.

Most libraries, civilian or royal, placed enchantments on their materials to prevent damage caused by aging, such as yellowing pages. Royal libraries were especially fond of this enchantment and had much more powerful versions that let the books last longer than the ponies who tended to them.

Sure I might find a squashed scroll or two but there shouldn't be any that have suffered from exposure or water damage.

Strangely enough, they are rarely ever guarded against fire and of course I'd know.

I know too well.

...

This is the perfect place to hide the Alicorn Amulet. I haven't found a map yet, but I located something that surpasses it: the remains of a library. The shelves were taller than those in the Archives had been and many were crumbling and cleaved in half by statues that were probably younger than I am.

I walk up to a shelf and begin to pluck off a few books which look remarkably intact even with any preservation spells factored in. Even if none of them held any maps, it would still be interesting to see what was inside them. Most of these books would have been written immediately after the founding of First Equestria when things were still a triarchy ruled by the idiots who had only recently arrived from the north. That much was merely clarified upon checking a 'history' book. After that? Well part of it is very simple: the Two Sisters learned of the Crystal Empire and I know full well what happened there, for that is where all my immediate knowledge ends.

Next, some creature under the name of Discord overthrew the last remains of First Equestria before Celestia and Luna got rid of this Discord as well using some kind of powerful magic that I care absolutely nothing about. After using this they got to truly rule Equestria instead of just being influential nobility in a forest that was decoupled entirely from the workings of whatever petty Tribal government still remained.

So, in short well done, Celestia, Luna, and Discord. We're all usurpers here.

I roll my eyes. The irony presented in technicalities has always been rather amusing. I grasp the last book within range in my magic and pull it, only for it to stay there and simply tilt back to reveal that it is a hinge.

Well, I can't believe I'm thinking this but forget the books, this should prove to be quite interesting.