• Published 1st Sep 2016
  • 1,619 Views, 76 Comments

Temor - Askre

Twilight and friends must prevent Sombra's heir from resurrecting his father.

  • ...

Chapter 7. The investigation begins.

Chapter 7

Shining Armor’s expression was stone hard as he watched the medical staff examine the body the guards had brought. It was probably unnecessary, they and Rainbow Dash had pretty much witnessed what had killed her, but it was protocol and it was always possible she had been under the influence of either magic or something else.

What was angering the prince was that they were still finding King Sombra’s influences within the Crystal Empire; collaborators who had willingly worked for him, both civilians and guards. Now a pony had killed herself in his name. Shining knew too well that was the hallmark of a fanatic and he was not looking forward to having to deal with that kind.

“Her name was Calcite. We have her on our list of suspected collaborators,” a guard informed him, standing beside his captain with a list in his hoof.

“Move her to the confirmed,” Shining muttered dryly, still not taking his eyes of the examination process.

“Our investigations indicated that she lived fairly well off during King Sombra’s rule. She lived in a nice house and could move about as she wished. She traded in gemstones and had suppliers from outside the Empire. We suspect King Sombra found it more beneficial to treat her better than the others,” the guard continued.

Shining Armor frowned. He wasn’t buying it. From what they had seen of King Sombra, he hadn’t exactly looked like a pony who cared that much for gems and jewels. The Crystal Heart maybe, but that was a power source. Even his chambers had been rather bereft of jewelry. They had found that broken tiara in that box, but otherwise the most luxury there had been the silk bedding on the crystal bed. There had also been gold cups studded with gems, but that was a common way to decorate drinking vessels of royalty.

“Investigate her house, talk with anypony she knew, we need to find out more about her,” he ordered. The guard saluted and left.

Was she covering for that Prince Temor? Did she know he was alive? the unicorn wondered.

Their search through the castle hadn’t revealed too much. They had found the prince’s room, but there wasn’t a lot in it, some old books on history, but that was about it. Just before he was called away after Dash had returned and reported the body, Cadance was going to show Twilight and her friends the lab they had found near the dungeon.

Shining Armor wondered if Temor or someone else had removed any items of importance from the room. Nothing had been reported missing, then again it was possible the Crystal Ponies didn’t even know what had been in the prince’s room.

“We can’t find any signs of magical influence, sir and it will take a little while to determine if there was any substance involved.” one of the medical staff finally turned to look at Shining Armor, who nodded.

“Keep me posted.” He sighed and turned around to leave the room, there wasn’t much more he could do here anyway. He hoped the mares were having better luck uncovering more information about Temor.

The body had been brought to the medical wing of the guard barracks. There was still no operational hospital in the Crystal Empire, but medical ponies from both Manehattan and Vanhoover were expected to arrive soon to set it up and instruct the Crystal Ponies in modern medicine.

Shining Armor headed outside and was going to head back to the castle when he saw two of his guards preventing a crystal pony from going further. It was a stallion, blue with a maroon mane and tail.

“Is there a problem?” he asked, approaching the three ponies.

“It is possible, sir,” the crystal pony said. Shining now saw that he was roughly middle aged. Then he remembered who this pony was.

“Ah Bright Spark, we are still reviewing your information,” the prince told him, recalling that this was one of the many crystal guards who was still under investigation.

“I know, sir and I am patiently waiting for the outcome of that, however, I heard that you brought the body of a crystal pony who killed herself near Little Crystal,” Bright Spark responded, keeping a respectful tone in his voice.

Shining Armor frowned slightly, but he supposed it was difficult to hide the fact a body had been brought to the city. “I take it you have some information to share with us?”

“That depends, sir. What was her name?” the crystal pony asked.

“We have confirmed that her name was Calcite,” Shining Armor decided to risk the information. Bright Spark was one of the crystal guards who had by now been confirmed had been hypnotized and forced to work for King Sombra. The unicorn was just waiting for a final clearance that he and few other guards were no longer under the influence of their former king before reinstating them.

Bright Spark’s expression hardened when hearing the name the prince gave. Shining also noted a hint of worry in his eyes.

“What is wrong?” Shining Armor asked.

“I can’t say too much, not out here,” the crystal pony started to look around as if he feared someone was listening. His voice lowered to a whisper. “They are the King’s secret enforcers, his eyes and ears. They are fanatically devoted to him, practically worship him as a god.”

“Who?” the unicorn frowned. The two pegasi guards glanced at each other, unsure what to think of what they were hearing.

“The Order of Umbrum, sir,” Bright Spark’s voice was barely audible when saying the name and now real fright was visible in his eyes.

“Let him through,” Shining Armor ordered the guards who immediately stepped aside. “We need to speak in my office.”

“Well I suppose it make sense, we don’t all need to investigate that ghastly looking laboratory,” Rarity said as she, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie entered the room they now knew had belonged to Prince Temor. The three of them had returned to it to see if they had overlooked something, while Cadance, Twilight, Applejack and Rainbow Dash took a closer look at the lab.

“I still can’t believe Rainbow Dash saw a pony kill herself,” Fluttershy muttered and shuddered a little. Her two friends could only just nod in agreement, when Rainbow had returned and told them what had happened. Even Pinkie Pie had paled up in horror.

Prince Temor’s room had a nice-looking bed, there was a dresser, a desk, shelves filled with books and scrolls and a closet. A side door led to a personal washroom, due to the age of the castle it was obviously one thousand years out of date with no signs of indoor plumbing.

Rarity started with inspecting the closet, opening it using her magic. The fashionista had to admit being curious what clothing the Prince had regularly worn aside from the cape and armor. The unicorn was mildly impressed to find a finely woven red silk robe.

“He certainly had some taste,” she murmured as the mare rescued the robe from the closet and started looking it over. “Not quite in style anymore, but I bet he must have looked quite dapper in it. Hmm, actually I wonder if I could bring this design back - a callback from the Crystal Empire?”

Fluttershy only hummed and nodded as she was closest to Rarity while checking through the dresser. The drawers were mostly empty. There was a comb and a brush and other items she figured were used back then for mane and coat care.

“Nothing but dust under here,” Pinkie Pie reported crawling out from under the bed, having squeezed herself under it earlier.

“Nothing in the dresser,” the yellow pegasus said. She and Pinkie then noticed that Rarity had neatly folded up the robe, placed it on a chair and was now inspecting the inside of the closet.

“There are scribbles inside this closet. Very faint,” the unicorn told them. “Not really easy to see without some light.”

Soon enough three heads were peeking into the closet. Thanks to Rarity’s horn that now illuminated the inside, they could indeed see faint scribbles at the very bottom of the closet. They weren’t flowing, but looked more like the clumsy mouth-writing of a young foal.

“What do they say?” Pinkie wondered, tilting her head this way and that to try and make sense of the writing.

“Let’s see now, it does look like someone later tried to scratch over them to remove them or conceal them. I think that one there says, ‘home’ and that one, ‘hurt’,” Rarity answered as she peered at the scribbles. She took one step into the closet to try and see better, the bottom gave way a bit, revealing it to be false.

The three ponies blinked, Rarity quickly stepped back and removed the bottom. Now they could see a few worn papers and old, wooden toys. The unicorn carefully lifted the papers up and noted they had the same foal mouth writing on them.

“Hi, I’m Emerald. I know am not supposed to talk to you, but I’m not talking to you, I’m writing you notes. What is your name?” Rarity read on one. She turned it around and arched her brow when seeing that on the back was written in a similar clumsy foal writing. “Private Iceland. But the king calls me Temor now.”

“I hope you like the toys.” Pinkie grabbed one of the notes and read it. Turning it around revealed a response. “I do. Thanks.”

“Are you alright? I heard you crying,” Fluttershy took the third note and read from it. Once more there was a response on the back. “No. He keeps forcing magic into me. I want him to stop. It hurts.”

The three friends exchanged glances. There were a few more notes and most of them were similar - Emerald wrote something and Temor responded on the back. It seemed though that Temor kept the notes. Rarity wondered if it was because it was easier for him to keep them hidden. She doubted King Sombra would have liked his son sharing notes with a slave.

“What happened yesterday?” Rarity had arrived at one of the last notes. Flipping it she saw a response. “He caught me writing on the note. He burned it with his magic, asked who had written me. I lied, I said nopony, that I was just playing. I don’t think he believed me.”

“Oh no, do you think they are alright?” Pinkie gasped in shock.

“Darling, this happened a thousand years ago, Temor is an adult now and so is Emerald,” Rarity reminded her friend gently.

“Oooh, right,” the earth pony grinned sheepishly. She had gotten so into the notes she had temporarily forgotten that little fact.

“What does the last note say?” Fluttershy wondered.

Rarity scanned it at first with her eyes, preparing to read it, then her brow sunk a little. She quickly turned it around to see the back side was blank.

“I know you have stopped writing back, I know you don’t remember me anymore because the king did something to you, but I still like you, Private Iceland. Maybe one day we can be friends again. Love, Emerald.”

Rarity noted that the mouth-writing was a little more refined and better worded, indicating it was at least written by an older foal than the first notes. She quickly scanned over the other notes and definitely saw improvement in the writings as they processed, indicating that time had passed between each one.

“But, if he had forgotten her, why is this note there with the rest of them?” Rarity frowned, still staring at the papers.

“Well, Emerald became Temor’s personal slave. Maybe she put that last note there,” Fluttershy suggested. She could really see no other explanation. Both her friends nodded in agreement.

The notes were carefully put on the dresser in a neat stack. Pinkie Pie grabbed the wooden toys and put them next to the notes. Rarity then poked her head back into the closet to light up the hidden compartment again, but it was empty now, so she returned the false bottom to it.

“We should show these notes to Twilight and Princess Cadance, but I do believe we may have solved the mystery of who Emerald was waiting for,” Rarity said as she grabbed the papers again with her magic.

“Yeah, she must have remembered how Temor used to be and maybe she is secretly hoping he remembers again and maybe even went with him willingly now that King Sombra is dead, wanting to reunited with her old friend,” Pinkie Pie said with a huge smile. Fluttershy and Rarity glanced at each other. They had to admit the notes did support Pinkie’s theory.

With the room otherwise thoroughly explored now, the three mares trotted out of the room. Pinkie Pie quickly returned though to grab the wooden toys and hid them in her mane, grinning innocently as she returned to her friends who hadn’t even noticed.

Twilight stared at the cage. It was located in one corner of the laboratory. It had old hay for bedding, a bowl and was just big enough that an adult pony could lie down in it. The unicorn wondered what the cage had been for and who had been the unfortunate occupants.

The laboratory was illuminated by a dim red light producing from the very walls. They had lit up the moment the four ponies had walked in. It had a few tables with various equipment for both magical and chemical experiments. Most of it was centuries out of date by today’s standards, though Twilight had spotted some primitive versions of things she had used herself back in school.

Rainbow Dash hung back, not really that interested in the lab. Applejack looked around for a little bit before noticing. The orange mare went to the blue one, having a feeling she knew what was bothering the pegasus.

“You want to talk about it?” she asked gently.

“What’s there to talk about? A pony killed herself in King Sombra’s name,” Rainbow snorted, ignoring the glances from Cadance and Twilight.

Applejack considered prodding, but an exclamation from Twilight caught their attention. The purple unicorn had found a stand with an old looking journal on it. Curious, the apple farmer ventured closer and Rainbow reluctantly followed.

“Let’s see now… oh darn it’s in dark pony script!” Twilight sighed in frustration, she had been excited to see the journal, hoping to glean all kinds of insights into King Sombra from it and maybe even clues about Prince Temor, but to her dismay a very foreign language greeted her eyes.

“Dark pony?” Applejack didn’t like the sound of that name.

“It’s an extinct pony race that lived mostly north of Saddle Arabia,” her bookish friend explained. “I can translate this, but I’ll need to take the journal to the library in Canterlot and it will take few days.”

“By then Prince Temor could completely disappear with Emerald,” Cadence pointed out with a worried frown.

“Then maybe we’ll need somepony who can read that?” Applejack suggested. Twilight and Cadance looked to her, then back at the book.

“It is possible somepony at Canterlot Science Society has a dark pony expert. It is an obscure field in Hippology, but it is always possible,” Twilight muttered, tapping her muzzle with a hoof.

“Uh, what do hippos have to do with this?” Rainbow Dash chimed in, arching her brow.

“Oh no,” Twilight chuckled. “Hippology means the study of horses and ponies. It’s from an old Hippeios word, meaning ‘horse’. The ‘hippopotamus’ that you’re thinking of, Rainbow, just means ‘water horse’.”

Rainbow Dash had to hold back a remark about eggheads. Right now the pegasus just wasn’t in the mood to give her friend a hard time.

“Of course, it’s always possible either Princess Celestia or Princess Luna can read this,” the unicorn then noted. Cadance nodded and closed the journal and gave it to Twilight.

“Then it’s probably faster if you take the journal to Canterlot. Shining and I will keep an eye out for any more clues here in the Crystal Empire,” the princess told her.

Twilight nodded and sighed a little, regretting now having sent Spike home. She could have used him to send a message immediately to the princesses. The four ponies left the laboratory and met up with Rarity, Pinkie and Fluttershy near the throne room.

Rarity explained what they had discovered in Temor’s room and her purple friend immediately began pouring through the notes. Twilight already noted the same as the white unicorn had about the notes, frowning when seeing the last note.

“So, his name is actually Private Iceland and by the looks of it, King Sombra was doing horrible things to him since he was just a colt.” Twilight shuddered and placed the notes in the journal for safe keeping.

“But where did King Sombra get him?” Cadance asked, looking a little grimmer after hearing what the notes said.

“That answer might be in the journal,” her sister-in-law responded and patted the book with a hoof. She then looked at her friends. “Well girls, while Cadance and Shining Armor continue investigate here, I’m going back to Canterlot to get this journal translated. You can either stay here and help them, or come with me.”

“I’m staying,” Rainbow Dash said firmly, fire in her eyes suddenly. “I’m getting to the bottom of this crazy pony that killed herself.”

“Ah’ll stay with Rainbow,” Applejack offered, more because she felt someone needed to keep an eye on their rainbow-maned friend.

It was thus four ponies that headed back to the train station. Twilight walked, deep in thought, thinking about everything they had learned so far. Once they were aboard the train, she poured again over the notes Rarity had found and the notes Celestia had given her. She even opened the journal a few times, hoping to at least find some passages that were in another language, one she understood.

Fluttershy and Rarity sat closest to the studious unicorn, though neither said a word, and just enjoyed the train ride. Pinkie, who sat the furthest away, pulled out one of the wooden toys from her mane - it was a crudely carved horse figure, painted to look like it had armor, clearly meant to be a soldier.

I wonder if she gave it to him to make him smile, it must have been super hard to smile living with that big meanie king, she thought, stroking the toy with a hoof.

What Pinkie Pie couldn’t possibly know was that one piece was missing from the wooden toy set. Another pony figure, now carefully hidden in the backpack of the missing crystal pony who had given them originally to the dark prince so long ago.

End chapter 7