• Published 28th Jan 2017
  • 1,644 Views, 54 Comments

The Tome of Faust - DungeonMiner

In the age of Equestria's founding, the world is not at peace. Dangers wait at every corner, and the shadows of the old world wish it dead. And yet in all of this, one pony just wants to live a normal life.

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Chapter 1

The steps to freedom were slick with rain, and the unicorn couple clung to their child as they climbed. Lightning flashed, lighting their way as they made their way up as they moved through the smooth, stone tunnel.

“How much further?” the mare asked their guide, whose light spell barely revealed the stone before them.

“Not much further, Mi’lady,” the guide said.

“Soon, my love,” the stallion beside her said. “We’ll be out of here soon. We’ll go back, regroup, and make the Princess pay for this.”

The mare smiled at the thought, and held her bundle close. “I’ll simply be happy to be free of the warden,” she replied weakly.

The stallion nodded. “He truly is a fool,” he answered.

“His apprentice is not much better,” the mare continued.

“Hush now, dear, we’ll be out of here soon, save your strength until then.”

“I’m fine,” she insisted, as she continued to cradle the bundle close to her chest.

The clink of armor sounded in the tunnel behind them.

“We need to keep moving, Mi’lady,” the guide said.

“I’m coming, I’m coming.”

Deeper they went, until finally they came upon a wall that stood taller than either stallion.

“I’ll go first,” said the husband, motioning to the guide to offer him some help.

Obeying, the guide offered his back, and together, they pushed the stallion up and over the wall.

And the sounds of the armor got closer.

“Alright, you next dear.”

The mare looked down to the bundle by her chest.

“I’ll take him,” the guide offered. “You can then hand him to your husband from the top.”

She nodded, carefully handing the foal over to him.

The armor got closer.

Climbing on his back, the mare quickly reached the top.

And they got closer still.

“Alright, quickly, hand him to me.”

He began to lift the little child.

“There they are!”

Something flew through the darkness, and struck the mare in the chest. She gasped, and fell backwards of the wall.

The guide ran, clutching the bundle as he ran into the tunnels, trying to escape the guards. He could hear them fill the tunnel behind him, yelling orders and firing crossbows.

Well now he had no choice.

He could hide back in the prison. The warden wouldn’t think twice about him.

The little bundle in his magical grip stirred and cried.

The guide sighed.

It seemed both of them would have to hide.

His name was Mouse.

He may have had a different name at one point, but his parents were no longer around to ask. Instead, he used the name he earned as a foal.

He moved in the darkness of the Canterlot dungeon, clinging to the walls and the deep alcoves of natural rock and crude masonry. He slid between them, his slight frame allowing him to slip between the larger cracks and the bent bars of the more neglected cells.

"Hey, hey, it's the Mouse. Come to take my food again?"a voice growled from across the hallway.

The small unicorn smirked, but continued on. "If I were here for your food, you wouldn't have noticed."

The dungeon was his home, and he had lived here for as long as he could remember. He had learned quickly here, among the thieves, revolutionaries, and outlaws, how to be unseen, if only long enough to grab their food and run.

The din of the prisoners was almost deafening as Mouse slipped into the next cell block, climbing up onto the single wooden rafter beam that crossed them. His hooves barely made a sound, and certainly not one that could be heard over the prisoners as they paced their cells or played card games.

He slid past them all, without a single pony seeing him.

And then, finally, finally he found his target.

He slipped in through a narrow tunnel, a tight squeeze even for a smaller pony like himself, and came out on the other side. A short drop away down to the floor, and he was there.

He sat in a tiny cell, no larger than seven feet square, with manacles hanging from the walls, and a large barred door. It also had a window, one of the few in the entire dungeon. A small hole in the wall, about as big as brick, but barred like the doors. It’s what made this cell his favorite.

His eyes, normally a cold green, stared up at the tiny window, watching the light, and the brilliant blue of the mythical sky he had heard so much about. He had a variety of different colors down in the dungeons, all from the coats of ponies, earth, unicorn, and pegasus all. He had seen greens, reds, yellows, and blues all in the world of grey. Yet of all of them, he had never seen a more vibrant blue than from that tiny hole.

He stared up into the sky, sitting in the normally empty cell, enjoying the color and quiet all at once.

Or at least, he was trying to.

“Oh, aren’t you adorable,” a voice said from behind him.

Another prisoner, a pegasus in the cell opposite of the hallway smirked as she stared at him through the bars.

Mouse had seen her before. She was a newcomer, having not been here for two days, but she acted as though she owned every square foot of the dungeon.

“Tell me, horn-face, would you happen to know what that cell is for?” she said with a laugh. “That’s where they keep the condemned prisoners. They’ll keep you there just long enough to let you sarding stew, to let you panic and worry until there’s no hope left, then, only when you beg for death, they'll take you away and give it to you. Then again, if I were in charge, I would make it worse.”

Mouse didn’t even dignify the oddly well-spoken mare with a glance. He knew what this cell was for, he had seen mares and stallions all enter this cell and disappear after a few days.

He continued to stare at the sky, fascinated by the vibrant blue which shined so bright that he could hardly see it.

“If you're going to sit in that cell like that, knifeface, you're going to die. And it's going to be bad, I assure you. The little patchwork you've got on your back is going to be nothing by comparison.” the pegasus snorted.

Mouse glanced at the number of scars that broke the otherwise uniform grey of his coat, all earned from run-ins with the more violent prisoners back when he didn't know any better before he went on ignoring her, staring up at the light as she tried to scare him with threats of death.

He knew better, he knew the guards had never cared about him, just another nameless pony that lived in their dungeons. They did not bother him as long as he kept his head down, and he was very good at that.

“We have to hurry, your Highness,” a voice muttered in the darkness.

Both prisoners turned toward the sound, up a set of stairs that lead higher into the tower’s jail. Heavy doors swung, and hooves clopped against stone, echoing off the stone.

“Oh, you hear that?” the pegasus smirked. “They’re coming for you already, the efficiency of Canterlot's prison is incredible. Personally, I would have let you rot a little sarding longer."

Mouse didn’t even look at her, but instead, he slid away, hiding in the corner of the cell, trying to hide in the shadows of the dungeon.

“Are you sure?” another voice answered, getting louder now. “We would hate to open such a secret if there were no danger.”

“We have no choice Princess,” a third voice said, followed by hoofsteps coming down the stairs.

“Are you sure, Clover?”

“The world is becoming too dangerous, Princess. We can’t take chances here.”

The second voice sighed. “If you say we must, we must.”

Two pairs of ponies walked up to the cell door, a torch being held aloft by a unicorn’s magical grasp. There was the click of a lock.

Mouse stared at them as they entered, all armored, all armed. Guards, obviously. Mouse had never trusted the guards. All the talk among the inmates of their evils and cruelties, and they certainly looked the part with their scowls and the iron that surrounded them. The unicorn worked with both torch and keys, while the pegasus held a spear, his head swiveling back and forth across the room. The two earth ponies behind them looked down at the swords, ready to draw them at a moment’s notice.

None of them noticed the grey unicorn who hid not two yards away.

“Quickly, your highness,” the unicorn said, keeping the door open for whoever followed him.

And in stepped a creature that Mouse had never seen before. She was no inmate, and she was no guard, she was a being unlike either of them. Her fur was a brilliant white, and a silver crown set with amethysts sat upon her head. Her mane, a waterfall of silver, clung to her, and hid her face from where Mouse was hiding. Around her withers was a thick, cloak of a deep, royal, purple edged with mink fur and silver tassels.

“Well, well, if it isn’t the queen of the coneheads, hail to our glorious leader, have you come to do us all a favor and give the throne to a more capable pony?” the pegasus prisoner sneered from across the way.

The princess ignored her, as though she hadn’t even heard her, she did react to the cell, however, even as she stepped inside. “Oh...sweet Faust above, that stench, is this how we treat our prisoners? We must do something about this.”

“Another time, Princess,” another unicorn said, following behind the unicorn.

She likewise, was dressed in a cloak, although her’s was simple and brown. She was shorter than the royal, almost angelic being beside her, and looked far closer to an inmate, yet even still, Mouse was not sure. Her pale green coat and emerald mane was not as shocking as the white and silver of the mare beside him, but she did have an odd air about her, something that Mouse had never encountered, and could not explain. There was almost something mystical about her, as though her simple form was the disguise of a spirit. “We must hurry,” she said.

“Ah, that's it. You're a sadist that has come to watch a stallion die. My, my, that is sarding low for you.” The prisoner across the hallway smirked.

The guards looked at her, confused, while the mare in the simple cloak blinked.

The pegasus snorted. “Ignore her, your majesty, she’s clearly mad.”

“Ignore who?” came the simple response from the crowned mare.

“Are you sarding kidding me?” the prisoner growled. “He’s right there! He’s in the sarding cell with you!”

Mouse mentally cursed the feathered mare. She would give him away if she kept talking.

The guards shook their head, confused by the screaming mare, but the green mare was searching now, staring into the darkness for a sign.

Mouse stayed perfectly still, knowing all too well that moving was worse than staying still.

“Lady Clover,” one of the guards said, “there is no need to worry, the prisoner is obviously mad and—”

The green unicorn’s horn began to glow, and a ball of light began to grow in the air.

Mouse blinked wildly as the ball began to shine, brighter than the candles that lit the dungeon, brighter than the light from the torch, and brighter even than the light that streamed in from that small window.

He heard, rather than saw, the guards raise their spears and drew their swords, crying in surprise at the sudden reveal of the pony.

Mouse tried to open his eyes, tried to see so he could run and hide once more, but all he could see was the green light shining in his eyes.

“Lady Clover!” one of the guards yelled. “Get behind us, and we’ll—”

“Stand exactly as you are,” she said, and to took Mouse a moment to realize she was talking to the guards and not him.

They froze, unsure, while the crowned one blinked, a worried look growing on her face.

“Please,” the green mare began, her voice soft, “stay still, let me see you.”

Mouse debated running anyways, but the guards and their spears quickly dissuaded him. Instead, he stood still, blinking in the green light as the mare looked him up and down. She could almost feel her gaze on him, tracing over his coat, and the blank space on his flank.

“It’s you…” she muttered, almost to herself. “It’s really you…”

Mouse tried to look her in the eye, but the light was still too bright.

“It is you…” she said, finally, her words barely a whisper. “Princess,” she said, looking back at the white-coated mare, “it’s him. The one from my dreams…”

The princess said nothing, staring at the green mare, who turned back to Mouse. “What’s your name, sir?”

Sir? Mouse had never been called sir in his entire life. He blinked, at both the light, and the address, and regarded the mare before him. Finally he spoke, his voice quiet and clipped. “They call me Mouse.”

“Mouse, I don’t know how you found yourself down here, but it doesn’t matter anymore. Today you will be a free man.”

“L-Lady Clover?” One of the guards began, confused.

“So you’re letting him go?” came the cry from the other cell. “You sarding idiots are going to let him go? This is what you call Justice? What happened to sarding equality?”

The Princess continued to ignore the prisoner, but she did look to the green mare with a curious, cautious stare. “Are you sure, Clover?”

The green-coated unicorn simply nodded.

And the Princess shook her head in awe.

The mare in the brown cloak turned back to Mouse and looked him over once more.

The Princess meanwhile, turned to the guards. “Prepare the passage. We must be on our way.”

“But the Prisoner—” the guard began.

“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “Leave him be. Focus on preparing the way out. We need to depart immediately.”

The guards nodded, and they quickly moved to the left hand wall, the spear-wielding ones standing guard while the earth ponies searched among the stones.

And the green mare in brown cloak stared up at him, looking at Mouse as though she had seen a ghost.

“You...you need to come with us,” the green mare said, her voice almost shuddering.

Mouse had heard a lot of ponies in his years in the prisons. He heard the nervous, staring up at the largest, most dangerous ponies, he heard the greatest of liars talk their way out of fights, he even heard the confidence of those who run the prison, cutting through their enemies with mere threats.

Listening to the mare ahead of him, he was sure that she was scared of him for some reason. Terrified, but trying to sound strong.

Was she scared of him? He was barely taller than her, and almost as thin. He was eating better than anyone else in the dungeon, but still, he was not a dangerous-looking pony.

“Please,” she repeated, “you have to.”

Mouse said nothing.

One of the guards pressed a stone in the wall, and a large section of it simply fell away, revealing a tunnel that Mouse never knew existed.

“You need to follow us,” she said. “It’s far more important than you could ever know.”

Mouse stayed quiet, as he was wont to do.

The mare looked up at him, begging with her eyes.

“Clover,” the Princess said, “We must leave now, we cannot afford to wait.”

The green mare continue to stare.

Mouse watcher her, but stayed quiet.

“Clover,” the Princess called again.

The green mare stepped away, never taking her pleading eyes off of him.

He did not move, staring back at her with his green eyes.

“Clover, come. We must go now.”

The unicorn mare took another step away and continued to stare.

Mouse stared back.

She waited one more moment, staring back one last time, before she finally turned, and followed after the Princess and her guards.

Mouse watched them disappear into the darkness, before he looked back up at the small window in the wall.

“Why aren't you going?” the pegasus yelled from her cell across the hall. “I cannot believe you, you literally have a sarding exit in your wall, and you haven't left?" she yelled checking the wall in her own cell, desperate for a brick that could reveal a pathway to her own freedom. “What's the matter? Is your sarding horn so long that you're afraid it'd drag against the ceiling?”

She continued to rant, yelling and screaming at an empty cell.

Mouse was already gone.

Mouse followed the Princess’ party watching from a distance as he hid in the shadows. The guards were taking both the front and the back of the small party, with both mares in the middle.

“I should go back,” the one named Clover said.

“You can’t,” the Princess said. “If you were to leave, then we would be without one of the best adviser our family has ever had. We simply cannot allow that, Clover.”

The green mare shook her head. “And if I do not, I doom Equestria forever.”

The Princess shook her head. “You can’t know that, Clover.”

“I’ve seen it,” she replied. “I’ve seen it in my dreams.”

“They’re just dreams, Clover,” the Princess said.

Clover shook her head. “You know the truth.”

Mouse wasn’t sure what to make of it. The green mare was clearly mad is she thought that coming back for him would save Equestria.

Even still, she still seemed so incredibly insistent on going back. Or, she would be, if she actually took steps back. She kept walking with the princess, keeping in step as they descended further and further into the depths of the tunnel.

They still had not seen him, but the lights of the guard and Clover’s green ball were both blinding, and would reveal him in an instant. With the lights against him, Mouse found himself facing two options, the first was stay close, and risk discovery, the other, become lost.

The tunnel was labyrinthine to say the least. Corridors intersected corridors, hallways ran parallel to hallways, arches sat in arches, and they had already ran into three separate secret doors.

He didn’t really have much choice, but to use his ace.

When he was young, an old unicorn had taught him. He had taught him how to read, how to walk, how to count, and he even taught him something to help Mouse stay hidden. It was certainly not an easy spell, but it had proven invaluable in his early life. It was still difficult, but it seemed that he had no choice.

With the soft glow of green light, he cast his spell, and his coat shimmered in response.

The grey of his coat washed away, and he seemed to blend into light, darkness and color. His form began to blur, and he almost completely disappear but for a shimmer in the air that hugged his form.

It was not perfect, but it would do.

He followed behind them now, staying quiet as he moved, almost invisible to the guards and mares ahead of him.

“We will survive, Clover,” the Princess said. “Equestria will survive.”

“That’s not what I saw,” the mare answered.

“Even if the land we made is rent asunder, it will live on,” the Princess said. “If only in our hearts,” she muttered.

Clover shook her head. “Forgive me, Princess, but that is sappy.”

“It’s a gift,” the princess replied.

A guard cleared his throat. “Forgive me, my Lady, but I must urge you to be quiet. We cannot risk the members of the Horn finding us.”

The Horn? That was certainly...an odd name. Why not name yourself after a hoof? Or tail? Why the horn?

A blast of living fire slammed into a guard ahead of the party, flanking him from one of the crossing hallways. A sword flashed in the air, and spear heads came to bear as smoke filled the hallway.

“For the Mystic Order!” a cry came, along with a bright purple figure in the smoke.

Fire, ice, steel, and the crack of lightning shot through the air, almost deafening Mouse where he stood not ten feet away.

Metal clanged against metal, spells seared against stone, and blood began to fill the space between them all.

Mouse watched as the battle raged in front of him, he lost sight of everything in the struggle, and could only stare until it finally slowed.

The smoke cleared, and two unicorns stood over the bodies of two of the guards. Both of the unicorns were dressed in bright purple robes, and they stared down at the bodies of the guards at their hooves. “Dirty mudbloods,” one sneered, as he kicked a corpse.

“I don’t see the Princess,” the other said.

“Our comrades will find her,” the first one said. “Too much has gone into our plan for us to fail.”

The other robed one cursed. “The dirt ponies killed Haughty,” he said, motioning to the purple-clad unicorn on the floor.

“His sacrifice will be remembered,” the first pony said, nodding towards the corpse, in respect. “Now come, we need to catch up. If we hurry, we might be able to stop the traitor.”

Mouse watched them run, letting them flee down the hallways after Clover and the Princess.

He snorted. That’s why the green unicorn needed him. She needed another meat shield to protect her from these “horn” ponies. She needed him to increase her chance of survival, and save Equestria by keeping them alive.

That made sense.

Equestria...a word he was only passingly familiar with. He knew what it meant, it was the country above him, the land he was in. The place of grass, trees, hills, and the sky. He didn’t know what the first three were, but he knew what the sky was, and if he could see that, the whole thing, beyond the binds of a tiny, barred window…

Well...it’d be worth it, certainly.

Mouse looked down at the corpses, the two guards, and the robed unicorn.

Well, no crazy ponies were going to stop him, not today.

He grabbed the guard’s sword belt, buckling it around his shoulder, as he had seen on the guards a thousand times. With the belt on, he picked up the short sword, and slid it into its sheath.

He briefly considered wearing the armor, but he didn’t feel like looking like a guard.

He stepped over the bodies and smiled.

He would see the sky, the real sky.

Now...all he had to do, was leave.