• Published 20th Jul 2016
  • 1,286 Views, 325 Comments

Going Deep Under - The Bricklayer

The seas harbor many mysteries, and one of them is about to be uncovered. Question is, will those that have uncovered it survive the experience...?

  • ...

Part 26: The Codex/A Fool's Hour

“Neighlantis continues to elude us, and my insistence that we press on in spite of these failures has moral low. I suspect Jenkins to be the author of this sedition… And now, I find it’s my own dearly beloved daughter Twilight alone who I can turn to…”

Those were the words that Twilight read off the pages of her father’s journal, and even as she continued to read, the very words her father had written down so long ago seemingly transported her back in time…

July: 1915: The Mediterranean Sea

Soft waves gently lapped against the side of a boat, as the sun shone down on the seas of a reef off the coast of Lemnos in the Greek isles. According to ancient myth and legend, the island was sacred to Hephaestus, the Greek God of the Fire and Forge. According to legend, here, on this exact isle, he fell once Zeus threw him from Mount Olympus.

While some accounts stated that he was thrown down there by his mother Hera in pure shame and disgust and raised by Thetis, the mother of the famous hero Achilles, there were others. Greek Mythology, for anyone who ever studied it, quickly found out for themselves that it was often convoluted and elements often disagreed with one another.

As one legend stated, Hephaestus, attempting to rescue his mother from Zeus’s advances, was cast aside and flung down from the heavens and for an entire day, he fell till he hit the island. There, he was cared for and taught to be a master craftsman by an ancient tribe native to that island, the Sintians.

Even now, an azure blue stallion standing on the top deck of the small fishing boat he’d rented, found himself with a headache just trying to make sense of all of this. He was a unicorn, with a dark blue mane. On his flank, he bore a light yellow waxing crescent moon with a waning white moon inside it for a Cutie Mark.

“This is a foolish endeavor, and you know it Night Light!” a stallion said from behind him. Jenkins was his name, with a caramel brown coat and an even darker mane. “I’ve spoken with Midnight, and he agrees we should call this whole thing off!”

Behind him, nodding, was the stallion obviously known as Midnight. His fur was as black as coal, and his mane, -even darker if possible- was like that of a lion’s. He bore a set of blood red eyes.

“Sorry mate,” Midnight apologized. “But we’ve been at this for days, funds are starting to dry up. And we still haven’t seen hide nor hair of Neighlantis. Hell, your wife thinks this was a foolish endeavor! Got a telegram from her, she’s finalizing the divorce papers as we speak.”

Night Light grimaced, but his resolve was only strengthened as he turned to look at his two compatriots.

“So, that’s it then?” He barked, his horn beginning to glow with a light blue aura. “You all take me for a fool then? Well, if this fool has anything to say about it…” he growled out, tossing his journal towards Midnight. “He’ll be back with something to show for your troubles, although don’t expect to get paid for all your ‘Help’!”

With that, he created a small bubble of air around his head and then dived into the waters below with the splash hitting both Jenkins and Midnight.

“You think he’ll be back?” Midnight had to ask, somewhat nervous for his former friend.

“Hardly, now turn this boat around. We’re heading back to port… Let that fool drown.”

With a sad sigh, Midnight looked at the seas below him, and the rapidly vanishing form of Night Light, before he turned and walked away.

But as he started to trot off, he stopped for a moment and thought back. They’d been in the jungles of Thailand not too long ago, and Midnight had been cornered by tigers. Night Light had shown up in the nick of time, when the rest of his companions had left him for dead.

“No!” Midnight stated as he gripped the journal tightly to his chest. “I will not be the same as them… Not ever! If this is a fool’s hour, then I shall be a fool alongside my friend...”

Down below, Night Light had found a tunnel deep within the rock and was following it to the very end, when he suddenly saw light, and surfaced to find himself in a small cavern. A stone passageway lay beyond him as he clambered up onto the rock, his hooves trotting up against marble stone as he looked up to the words written above him.

“Niflheim…” Night Light whispered as he dispersed the air bubble around his head. “The land of Mists.”

One of the Nine Worlds in Norse Myth, Niflheim was a land of both primordial ice and cold from where the frozen rivers of Élivágar and the well of Hvergelmir, from which came all the rivers in the world, lied. According to the ancient text Gylfaginning, it was connected to that other primordial realm, Muspelheim, the realm of fire. These two realms mixed to create a river of creating steam, whatever that meant. Later, it would become the home of Hel, one of the daughters of Loki -The Norse God of trickery- and her realm, the afterlife for those who did not die a heroic or notable death.

Night Light shivered, it was certainly chilly this deep down if anything else, but onwards he must go.

He continued walking forwards down the corridor, and eventually he reached a small room. In the center of the room lay a small plinth, covered in ancient runes. On top of that plinth lay a small cylindrical object, covered in those same runes. Night Light gasped… No, it couldn’t be. The ancient script of Neighlantis!

In awe and wonder, transfixed by what he saw before him, Night Light slowly started forwards towards the object. He reached out to grasp it with his own two hooves, and as soon as he touched it, he received a vision…

Fire, that’s what he saw… Hell and fire. Great war machines marching across barren landscapes, giant metal wheels from the abyss itself crushing everything that stood in their path. Night Light’s eyes widened as he saw the once green hills of Trottingham scorched to a crisp, trees reduced to ashes, and buildings lying in ruin.

Gunfire echoed from somewhere in the battlefield, and Night Light saw an old stallion, stone gray in coat color with a white mane, firing a machine gun at soldiers, gunning them down in spurts of blood. He was hidden away in the ruins of an old farmhouse, with golden shell casings lying all around him. Behind him lay a dead soldier, looking about only fifteen or so. A hole went right through his head, and a crimson red pool lay near his body. Far too young to be in war, Night Light thought sadly.

The soldiers’ uniforms, the ones they wore bore patches of black eagles on their shoulders. They shouted in the Germane language. Night Light couldn’t catch much of it, but some of it came out as “Death to the lower ponies!” as they fired their guns. One shot caught the stormy grey soldier in the side, grazing him before more bullets hit and he went down in a storm of gunfire.

A magical energy beam fired, and whatever was left of his body was incinerated in an instance. To his horror, Night Light saw the beam come from a rifle covered in Neighlantian runes.

“Forward!” the commander shouted in germane. “Crush whatever is left of them!”

A sniper round rang out, and it came from one of the few trees left standing. In the tree was a tan pegasus stallion, with a red mane holding a sniper rifle. He fired again, and the commander went down.

Sadly however, this was all for naught as bullets riddled the pegasus’ body and he went down in a bloody heap.

The scene changed, to a giant monstrous collection of flying wings made of metal, iron and steel. High in the clouds, they flew. On the back of each wing, was that same black eagle.

The bottom of each wing opened, and great metal explosives covered in those same horrific runes emerged and fell to the ground below at frightening speeds. To his horror, Night Light realized what he was seeing below, as the clouds cleared away, was Manehatten. Then, in an instance, it was gone. Just one large explosion of balefire enveloped it and left nothing but a barren crater in its wake.

As if to twist the knife in even further, right before the bombs hit, he saw his wife, along with a pony he could only know to be his daughter, peek out from an apartment window before their whole world became that of fire and flame.

Trembling, Night Light emerged from the vision, and went for his saddlebags. He knew what he had to do, nopony could ever get their hooves on this, and the spells this codex possessed. He raised a hammer, and brought it down, and a powerful explosion from a combination of the codex being shattered and the magic spells inside being destroyed sent him flying backwards.

Night Light ran, and dove back deep into the water below, the runes he did see transfixed in his mind. They could never be allowed to be seen by anypony other than someone he severely trusted. Emerging from the water, he was surprised to see the small boat he’d rented still there, and a hoof extended to help him out of the waters.

“M-Midnight?” Night Light asked, scarcely able to believe it.

“Those who abandon their comrades are worse than trash. You saved me in Thailand, when everypony else threw me out like yesterday’s garbage. I’m returning the favor. Come on, we’re getting you home to see your daughter.”

“Not yet… My journal…” Night Light coughed out, his lungs quite strained.

“Easy now…” Midnight whispered as he helped Night Light up. “You’re in no condition to-”

“Screw my condition! I need to do this, journal. NOW!” he barked, and Midnight hesitantly handed him the journal. Quickly, Night Light wrote something down, the Neighlantian runes he’d seen and what he had seen in Niflheim, and with the last of his magic, blood-binded them so that only he or someone related to him could see them.

With that, he collapsed to the deck, heart finally giving out…

The Present:

“I write this to you now Twilight Sparkle, forewarning you of the danger of what you’re reading, and letting you know exactly what happened to your father. Your mother no doubt told you he died foolishly, and perhaps he did, but I do know he died seeking the truth, and he found it… If you follow the same path and do not tread carefully, you may very well end up causing the future he so desperately tried to prevent by destroying the Codex. These blood-bound runes, they contain the last samples of the Neighlantian language and how to teach it. Use them wisely.

Sincerely yours, Midnight Radiance.” Twilight read. As she let the message sink in, she began to cry. Tears were rolling down her face, not from just reading the very last words her father ever wrote, but learning how he died as well.

Suddenly, she found herself brought into a warm feathered hug by her marefriend.

“Night Glider?” she sniffled out.

“Yeah, I’m here…” she whispered as she held her marefriend tight and let her cry into her shoulder. “Those Blast Sisters, idiotic they may be, saw you run out of the great temple and got worried,” she explained.

Panting and sweating, both Powder and Fuse went for the campsite outside of Neighlantis, where they knew Fancy had made camp. Sure enough, he was there, drinking a cup of tea alongside Night Glider, one of the transport trucks behind them.

Almost at once, he rose from his seat and onto all four legs as soon as he saw the worried look on the twin’s faces. Night Glider was soon to follow.

“Yes, what is it?” he asked gruffly.

“It’s… It’s… Well, it’s Twilight,” Fuse explained, and both Fancy and Night Glider shared a look of alarm as the sister continued to explain. “Saw her running out of the city’s main temple, looked like she was about to break down and cry if you’re asking us…” she said, with Powder nodding at her sister’s words.

“I’ll see what I can do to help, she’s family. I haven’t looked after her as much as I should have these past few years, and it’s about time I started back up again…” Fancy replied, some traces of sorrow and self-disgust in his tone.

“And she’s my marefriend, so I’m coming too.” Night Glider nodded, before she extended her wings and flew off towards the city.

“...Oh for the love of Faust, I’m getting too old for this…” Fancy muttered as he ran after the much younger pegasus.

“So, they came to us, knowing we might be able to help you. Might be arseholes, but it seems they do care, deep down anyways,” Fancy’s voice said as he trotted up. “Now tell me, what’s wrong?”

“I… I finally found out how to save Neighlantis, but…” Twilight asked, wiping away her tears.

“But what?” Night Glider asked gently, being careful not to press too hard.

“I… I also found out how my father died…” Twilight whispered and Night Glider pulled her into the hug ever tighter.

“Oh, Twilight…” Fancy whispered sadly before looking at his niece’s marefriend. “If I may?”

Night Glider nodded before she released Twilight.

“You father… Despite his, I admit, many flaws, loved you very much,” Fancy said. “He knew his search for Neighlantis might consume him, just as both me and your mother feared, end up getting him killed,” Fancy said sadly, and at Twilight’s shocked look towards him, he continued. “I do not mean to sound insensitive, but it was both me and your mother’s worst nightmare. We loved him. Me, like a brother, and she as a wife should have. When your mom divorced him, she did it out of love, so you wouldn’t have to see what your father had become, so you could keep this image of him in your mind as some great hero. Honestly… We all hoped you wouldn’t follow down his path, but we knew it was inevitable, as you’d inherited the same obsessive tendencies as he did. The sins of the father…”

“Will be passed down to their child…” Twilight finished. “But I will break the cycle, I’ve found Neighlantis, and-”

“What then? How far will your journey take you?” Fancy had to ask. “Sure, you want to save Neighlantis and her people, but what next? Will you take this technology to the surface world? Your father… He bound those runes to me as well, so I read what he saw if Neighlantis’ power was ever unveiled to the surface world. Now I ask you Twilight, what will you do next?” Fancy asked as he and Night Glider walked off leaving Twilight to think.

She had a huge number of questions on her mind. She was thankful to her late father for the Neighlantean runes, but as she took a glance at them, Ember’s words from the conference reverberated in her mind. But she had come this far, and wasn’t going to give up now that she had found the runes. Now, not only could she learn how to use Neighlantis’s magitech, but she could teach the rest of the people who had forgotten the language so long ago.

“Dad…” Twilight started to decipher the runes, a small smile molding onto her face. “Thank you. Thank you for everything.”

Now that she was this deep into her journey to find and discover Neighlantis, Twilight couldn't back down now. Even if what she was doing could land her in hot water with the people of the kingdom, she wasn’t about to abandon knowledge; especially not if she was to re-teach everyone their own language. She spent near hours reading and then copying the runes and their translations into a book of her own, as a contingency if her father’s journal were taken or destroyed.

“This language is so complex! Some of these characters look almost identical, but sound totally different!” Twilight whispered giddily as she continued to replicate the symbols. “But… I still don’t know why the Neighlanteans would ever forget this kinda stuff. Surely, they would’ve done what I’m doing. Right?” She gave a quick look around the room, only to find nopony else. “And I’m talking to myself. Again.” she laughed nervously.

But then she remembered the vision her father described in his journal, and Midnight’s words on the runes, to use them wisely.

“Maybe… Maybe Ember’s ancestors chose to forget…” Twilight whispered to herself, not hearing the flapping of leathery wings from behind her. “After all, if their magic could turn ordinary pony weapons into ones of mass destruction…”

“Now you see,” Ember said as she walked up. “Now you see exactly why we couldn’t let any of our magitech reach the above ground. My father, he chose to destroy Neighlantis’s written language, long before I was born. In fear of what might happen. He knew someone would discover us eventually, the way pony-kind was advancing, and their dreams and desires of further exploration into the unknown. Now, I ask you Twilight, what will you do?”

Twilight thought about her answer long and hard, and after about a good half hour or so of complete silence, she finally answered.

“Save Neighlantis and her people, but that’s as far as it will go,” Twilight said as she lit up her horn, and touched it to her father’s journal, setting it ablaze. Twilight mourned the loss of her father’s words briefly, they’d been a source of guidance to her throughout this entire journey, but now it was time for a new beginning. She had her own life to live, one not connected to her father’s. “You and my uncle were absolutely right, nopony should have access to this kind of power.”

So, over the next few hours, she, with the help of Fancy taught Neighlantis’ people everything they could about their language, helping them relearn what had been lost oh so long ago.

Twilight smiled to herself as Fancy put a hoof on her shoulder as she slowly watched the ancient city come back to life, lights and runes flickering on all over the old city.

“Now, what do we do?” Twilight has to ask, and Ember provided the answer as she flew over to them on a gem powered hovercraft themed after a hammerhead shark.

“Well, I think getting you all back to the surface world is a small show of gratitude for getting our home back on its feet, yes?” Ember asked, and Twilight smiled. “We’ll drop you off on the nearest inhabited island, under the cover of night so we won’t be seen, and then we’ll dip back beneath the waves.”

“Wait!” Grape suddenly spoke up. “Before we leave y’all, there’s somethin’ Ah have to do.

“Which is?” Ember asked, an eyebrow raised.

Then, surprising everyone, even himself, Grape lunged forwards towards Princess Skystar and passionately kissed her. Her eyes widened, but she slowly sank into the kiss before she let go, wiping away both tears of sadness and joy from her face.

“Somethin’ ta remember me by…” Grape smiled as he clambered onto a barracuda themed hovercraft. Then, as one last gift, he levitated his beloved guitar towards Skystar, and smiled at her once more as he and the rest of the Neighlantis crew slowly rose up towards the sky...

Author's Note:

Well, here we finally all are, the penultimate chapter! Shifted into overdrive with writing, knowing I was getting close to the end. (Well, not entirely, as I still have an epilogue chapter to craft to tie everything up) Now, huge thanks to Shadowmane once again for writing some of Twilight's reaction to her father's journal entry and to Midnight Radience for letting me use his ponysona.

Now, questions. I have to ask. One, did I go too far with both the mythology displayed in this chapter, which while I loved delving into, was it really needed? Secondly, Night Light's vision, did I go a bit too far there with the scenes that would have been right out of the Fallout: Equestria world?

As ever, comments and thoughts are appreciated.