• Published 28th Jan 2017
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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 30

The Castle of the Two Sisters stood in the center of the Dark Wood, its towers just barely breaking the canopy as wild clouds hovered overhead. From the donjon, the highest tower, the view resembled that of a ship on a sea of green, the waves rustling as the wind played in the branches. Mouse stared out of the window, at this view and sighed.

The whole sight was oddly relaxing to the assassin, it felt almost like his first sight of the land of Equestria. It left a strange, calming nostalgia on his heart, as though it were a memory of the hope he felt when he first left the darkness of the jail behind him. Before it was crushed by the world.

“Mouse? Mouse, are you up there?” came Luna’s voice from the stairs, she was no doubt carrying a plate a food with her, eager to share a lunch with him again. Ever since he arrived he had barely eaten a single meal alone, Luna had happily sat beside him and talked, and talked, and talked.

Sighing, he turned back to the door and answered. “Yes, I’m up here…”

“Wonderful!” She said, coming up the stairs. “I thought those were your hoofprints. We typically just fly up here when we want to see the view.”

“It’s a nice view,” Mouse admitted.

“Isn’t it?” Luna asked, carrying to plates and cups. “I brought some swichel, cheese, apples, and honey yogurt. It should fill you up nicely.”

“Thank you,” Mouse muttered.

Luna set the plates on a nearby table, smiling as she prepared for another meal with her follower. “Come on, you must be hungry,” she nearly sang.

He was. The hunger he subjected himself to still hung in the back of his gut, calling him to the table.

As they both sat at the table, Luna handed him a spoon, before taking her own, and beginning to eat. “So, did you just come up here to enjoy the view?”

He came up here to be alone and think. Luna’s comments from the other day had left him horribly introspective, while Celestia’s left him feeling unworthy of their generosity. He should probably leave as soon as he had his strength again, if only to keep the elder goddess happy.

“Mouse?” Luna asked again.

Suddenly realizing he missed her question, he blinked, before answering. “Forgive me, Lady, I was...thinking.”

“About what?” the lunar goddess asked.

“I…” he began, before a question popped into his mind, “I was wondering, Lady, what your sister meant by leaving?”

Luna blinked. “What do you mean?”

“I asked the Lady Celestia why the castle was so large, but so empty, and she simply said that it was because you were leaving. What did she mean by that?”

Luna did not answer immediately. In fact, for the first time since he first met her, Mouse saw her frown.

The frown stung him, and he quickly added “I...forgive me, Lady, I didn't mean to offend.”

“No, no, it’s fine,” she said. “It’s just…it’s just something I would much rather avoid.” The Lunar goddess sighed, before she drank her honey-ginger drink. “To...to put it simply the gods, all of us, are leaving the world.”

Mouse blinked. “What? Why?”

“Because the world doesn’t need us anymore,” she said, her voice gentle and melancholy as she set the cup back down as she frowned. “Who raises the sun, Mouse?”

“D-doesn’t Celestia?”

Luna shook her head. “She used to, these days the Solar Council of Unicorns raises the sun. Celestia took care of that while the races were still young, but now they’ve learned to take care of it themselves. Who controls the clouds?”

“The pegasi.”

“And who ruled the storms before the pegasi?” she asked. “Ventus used to, until he taught them the ways of shaping cloud, now he teaches the clouds to take care of themselves before he joins the rest of us in...well...you’ll figure that one out on your own.”

“So...you’re leaving because...because you’re not needed anymore?”

Luna nodded, frowning. “It’s a sad thought, isn’t it? Faust put us here as guardians and teacher for the world, and now the world doesn’t need us anymore. So we’re getting ready leave, all of us.”

Mouse blinked. “But...but what about our prayers? Our dreams? The mountains, forests and fields?”

“They’re in the hooves of ponies now, and they will be forever,” said, before she raised her glass again, and spoke into her drink. “And we have to leave it all behind.”

“So...there were ponies here, but you’re leaving...so…”

“So we gave them a chance to go home,” she said. “Or, at the very least, try to make one in this new world of Equestria. I pray it lasts.”

Mouse blinked.

“That’s what she meant, Mouse. We’re three hooves out the door, and we cut all our ties. You’re the last follower of mine alive that I will ever speak to, and talking to my ponies is perhaps what I will miss the most.”

Mouse didn’t know how to respond to that, and so he simply went quiet, and ate the rest of his meal is silence.

A week passed him by, and Mouse was getting stronger by the day. Since the lunch in the donjon he had done his best to meet with Luna more often, to walk with her through the castle, and listen as she told stories of the newborn days, when the world was young, and the mountains green.

All the while, Celestia’s gaze on his back grew hotter. The dinners together grew colder, and her glares sharper as his legs returned to their strength and his wounds knitted together. Still, Luna loved his company, if her smile was anything to go by, and that helped lessen the sun’s fury.

As he slept in his borrowed bed, he smiled and shifted; his nocturnal wars with Cedar lessening with each passing night, before he was suddenly shaken awake.

He inhaled sharply, muscles tensing before he reached for a knife.

Then he paused as a soft, deep blue, smiling face met him.

“Mouse, Mouse, get up.”

“What, why?” he asked, shaking the fog of sleep from his mind.

“Come on, come on!” she insisted with a giggle.

She led him through the darkness of the castle, smiling like a fool as she dragged the half-asleep assassin behind her. Down the darkened, armor-flanked halls, up the winding, spiral stairs, and finally back to the donjon, where the open sky yawned above them.

“Come here, come here!” Luna laughed.

Mouse followed, before he finally stepped out on the balcony, where the goddess waited for him. “What are we doing out here, Lady?”

She didn’t answer at first, instead, her horn lit up, and the clouds above them began to part, revealing a brilliant night sky that shone brighter than he had ever seen before. Luna smiled wider, before she spoke again “If you’re going to be the last mortal I speak to, then I want to share what I do at night for you.”

“For me?” he asked.

Luna’s eyes widened, and she took a tiny step back. “Well...um...ponies in general,” she said with a hint of rose gracing her cheeks. “But...well...I like to imagine it’s for those who want to see it, and, well, that includes you...”

Mouse shook his head and grinned. “Alright, alright, let’s see it.”

Luna’s face exploded into a smile, and she pulled him to the balcony. “Come on, come on, it’s almost here!”

She pulled him close, and stared up at the sky, where a million stars reflected in her eyes, her smile growing wider still. Her excitement was palpable, and mouse smiled, despite himself, and happily followed her gaze into the sky.

For a second, the sky stared back, with the stars shining like gems on blue silk, before a light streaked across the sky. A brilliant white light shot through the air, burning across Mouse’s vision.

Then came another.

Another, another, and another.

The sky was filled with a rain of lights, some burning red, blue, and green across the heavens as Luna unleashed the stars from their bonds, trailing coronas of brilliance in their wake.

Mouse watched, before the moon finally came into view, gleaming in it’s razor crescent, slicing the sphere above them in two.

“It’s...it’s beautiful,” he said.

And Luna smiled, happy that someone was there for her last performance.

Celestia frowned.

She didn’t get it. Luna knew this pony was a murderer, one of the ponies who invoked her name simply to better hide their evil deeds. Still, Luna smiled, enjoying his company despite what he had done, showering him with her attention like he deserved it.

He was scum, a creature that took the lives of one of their fellow mortals without a motivation beyond coin.

Yet there Luna sat, happier than Celestia had seen in years.

She didn’t understand. Why did Luna favor him so?

She shook her head.

Well, it didn't matter. Mouse’s wounds had finally closed, and she had fulfiller her obligation of hospitality. He could leave now, and whatever happened to him would not be held against her.

She’d be rid of him by the morrow, and that was just fine with her.

Mouse packed his bag, making sure that everything he had in it was spotless, and strong. The daggers were sharpened, the cloaks he pulled off the assassin's back in the sewers were aired out, washed, and dried. He carefully folded all his other cloaks, and stacked a few books he had picked up from somewhere or another. His armor was patched, polished, and toughened, his coins were counted, and everything else was taken care of.

He didn’t have to worry about food. Luna had all but shoved bags of dried fruit into his bag, along with bread, wine, swichel, cheese and more. By the time she was done, Mouse was sure that he could feed a small town with the stockpile he had.

The only thing that the lunar goddess didn't take care of was the journey itself, though, if she could travel it for him, she might very well try.

“Is that everything?” Luna asked.

“It is, Lady,” Mouse confirmed.

“Are you sure?” she asked. “You need nothing else?”

Mouse shook his head. “That’s everything I can think of.”

Luna sighed. “I suppose it’s time then,” she said, a hint of sadness edging into her voice.

Mouse nodded.

“Come then, Mouse, I’ll walk you to the door.”

Celestia met them at the stairs. “I see you’re packed, Mouse.”

He nodded. “Thank you, Lady, for your hospitality. You sustained me through a dark time.”

“And what tragedy would have befallen us if you had not been sustained,” she muttered.

“I’m walking him to the door,” Luna said. “I plan to see him off properly.”

Celestia nodded. “Then I will join you. It’s only proper after all.”

“Proper to see you off myself, more like,” Mouse thought but nodded nonetheless.

The trio pushed forward, walking down the stairways until they finally came to the throne room.

The great tapestries, thrones, and the massive, dust-covered carpet lay before them, towering over Mouse with its vaulted ceilings, but this was all secondary to the fact that a figure stood in the middle of the room.

A lithe, tall figure, taller than either Celestia or Luna, with a golden coat stood in the center of the throne room, staring up at the windows, and humming softly to herself. Her mane, a shock of pure white hair, hung curled around her neck, and her tail whipped in a non-existent wind. She, like the goddess, had a pair of wings, and a sword-length horn, but the thing that got Mouse’s attention the most was the black web-like cutie mark.

“Seyella,” Celestia called. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m here for him,” the goddess of fate said, almost lazily pointing at Mouse. “He wants to talk to me.”

“Talk?” Mouse growled. “Talk, with you? The mare responsible for every trouble I’ve ever had.”

“That’s a little harsh…” Seyella replied, turning to him.

“Harsh? I was born in a jail! Don’t talk to me about harsh! You decided instead to pick on me forever!”

Seyella sighed. “It’s a little more complicated than that, Mouse.”

“Complicated? Complicated! Everything I’ve done had fallen to pieces because of you, but it’s ‘complicated.’”

Seyella shook her head. “And here I thought you said that a pony makes his own path, that luck is his own to make.”

“You ruined me! All I wanted was a normal life, but you burned down the bar! I said, fine, I’ll be a thief, but you kicked me out of there too! Finally, I became an assassin! I was at the end of my rope, I used my talents the best I could, and then you kicked me out of there too! Why do you hate me so much?!”

“I don’t—”

“Sarding Tartarus you don’t!” Mouse growled. “You—”

Seyella stomped a hoof against the tiles floors, and it echoed like thunder, silencing Mouse mid-rant. The golden-coated alicorn waited a moment, before she spoke again. “I would like to speak.”

Mouse didn’t answer.

“Mouse, I understand your pain. Really I do, and I wished I did not have to do what I did.”

“Then why did you?” he asked.

She glared at him. “Must you interrupt me?” she asked. “What do you know of destiny, Mouse?”

“It’s what will happen! It’s the future! It’s going to happen no matter what I choose.”

Seyella shook her head. “No, Mouse, no, that’s not what Destiny is.”

“Really? Really? Destiny isn’t written in the stars, huh? Then what? You’ve just ruined that child’s life for fun? What about my life, is destroying it a hobby to you?”

Luna pushed him, and he turned back at her, anger in his eyes. “What? She’s ruined every chance I’ve had at a normal life, she’s ruined me.”

“She would never!” Luna replied. “Seyella loves all ponies, have some respect for her.”

“That’s sadly not the case, Luna,” the golden alicorn said.

Both goddesses looked at her, shocked. “Sadly, I did have to work against him, but I assure you, Mouse, it was not through any malicious intent.”

“At the risk of repeating myself, sarding Tartarus you didn’t.”

The alicorn sighed. “Celestia, must we argue in your throne room? I would rather be seated. I have a long journey after this, and I wish to rest.”

Celestia blinked, before nodding. “Of course, of course. Um...follow me.”

The solar goddess led them up into a solitary tower, and seated them in a tea room. A low table covered in a silver tablecloth, and decorated with delicate, porcelain tea cups with golden accents. Luna prepared the tea and cakes below, and Celestia waited in the corner as Seyella and Mouse prepared themselves.

To Mouse’s credit, he waited until the golden goddess of fate had seated before he began his tirade again, cursing her to her face as she waited and rested.

He was not finished when Luna came with tea, he wasn’t done as Seyella ate her teacakes, and he didn’t stop even after she had let her tea steep, and mixed it with honey and ginger.

When he finally did finish, Seyella was already halfway through her cup of tea, and carefully topped up her cup before she finally spoke. “Have you said your piece, Mouse? Are you ready to listen?”

“Oh, I’m ready, and it better be good,” he growled.

She sighed. “Firstly, Mouse, you must understand, I don’t control ponies,” she said. “I cannot make a decision for you, or anypony else. There’s nothing that can stop you from standing up and leaving this room.”

“Don’t tempt me, I just might.”

“So then, Mouse, if I can’t control ponies, then how can I control fate?”

“I don’t know? How do Celestia and Luna control the sun and moon? Does it really matter?”

“It does matter Mouse,” she said, “because if I can control fate but not ponies, then what happens?”

“You weasel your way to make it work?”

“It doesn’t work, Mouse,” she responded. “Fate stalls, fails, and changes. When you said that you made your own luck, you were more right than you thought.”

“So what? Then fate doesn’t exist? You can’t have it both ways, either fate is a thing, or ponies can choose. Which is it? Do you have control, and simply ‘destine’ a pony to beat his foals, or are you useless?”

“If I may speak!” the golden alicorn roared, shaking the room.

Mouse shut up, suddenly very aware he was speaking to a goddess.

“Mouse...I am about to reveal a secret of the universe. Destiny is not what will happen. It’s what should happen. The hero should kill the beast, and the hero should be the noble knight. If the knight refuses, then the wizard should be the hero instead. If the wizard refuese then somepony should step up, and they should win.

“Meanwhile, I can guarentee that every problem in this world because somepony’s doing something they shouldn’t be doing. Burning a bar down, beating prisoners, murder,” she said, her tone stressing the last one. “The list goes on, but I’m sure you get the point.”

“Alright,” Mouse grumbled. “I get your point, but the fact stands—”

“Which fact, Mouse?” she asked, almost wearily. “The fact that your life is awful? Yes, yes it is. Your life has been needlessly cruel, unfair, unfortunate, and I cannot blame you for taking the path that you have. You deserve to live a nice, quiet life in the coutnryside, married to a lovely mare that just wants to run a farm, and if I could give it to you, I would. I would gladly give it to you, but I can’t.”

“Why not?” Mouse asked. “That’s all I wanted, why can’t I have it?”

“Because no one else can do the job that should happen,” she said with a sigh. “Mouse, listen, there is a storm coming, a terrible, terrible storm that will destroy Equestria, and if this world is to survive, then Equestria must survive. You can save it, you should save it, there have been several ponies that should have saved it, but they chose not to, and you’re the only one I can still count on.”

“So what, I’m not even your first choice?” Mouse grunted. “I’m the last hope because all the other ones were busy?”

“You’re the last one because you can get it done the fastest,” Seyella answered. “The others were chosen and refused the calling before you were born, Mouse. There’s no time for anyone else but you. As it is, I have used every ounce of my power to put ponies in your path to help you gain the skills you need.”

“So you did burn the bar down?” Mouse asked.

“Yes, damn you!” she yelled, throwing her cup of tea. “I did! I did and my heart broke when I did it, too! I broke both your spirit and Punch’s and I’ve hated myself for it. I have forced your hoof at every turn, abusing all my power in the hopes that you will know what to do to keep the world from descending into chaos.”

Tears were running down her face.

“And now, here I stand, trying to convince you that I’m looking out for you, that I’ve been watching you, helping you, and desperately hoping that you can understand why.”

Mouse blinked.

This wasn’t...wasn’t quite what he was expecting.

She sighed, before standing. “I shouldn’t have come. I’m just making things worse now.” Her teacup floated back onto the table, putting itself back into one piece as Seyella’s soft, white magic fixed it. “I’m sorry for disturbing you, Mouse. It’s become obvious to me that I should have stayed quiet.”

“No,” he said, his voice still filled with anger, softening though it may be. “No, you don’t get to go yet. You’ve told me that this is for the best, that all this suffering has a point, but you still haven’t told me what that point is. Why? Why were you doing this to me? What’s the point?”

Seyella paused a moment before she looked to him, sadness in her eyes. “Have you ever heard the tale of the missing nail, Mouse?”

“No.”

“For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the soldier was lost. For want of the soldier, the battle was lost, and for want of the battle the war was lost,” the alicorn said, reciting the poem. “You should be the nail, saving the world by finding out exactly what happens with the help of knowledge that I don’t have.”

“What do you mean by that?” he asked.

“Find the Tome, Mouse. Find it, and all of this pain will have had a purpose.”

With that final word, Seyella left the assassin in the room before Celestia followed after her, leaving Mouse alone with the Lunar goddess and his thoughts.

“Seyella! Seyella!” Celestia cried, calling after the older, larger alicorn.

She slowed, and turned. “Yes?”

“He’s going to save Equestria?” she asked. “The murderer?”

Seyella sighed. “It would behoove you to learn mercy, Celestia.”

“He’s a murderer and a thief! He doesn’t care for the law, and you’ve made him the one that will save Equestria?”

“I’ve set that path before him, yes.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” she asked. “Leaving him in charge?”

Seyella sighed. “Celestia, you know it doesn’t work that way. You know I don’t see the future that will be, only the one that should be. You know I can’t be sure.”

“Then why him? How can you trust him to do anything?”

Seyella smiled. “Because it’s what I should do.”