• Published 2nd Mar 2017
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Land of Equines - Daddy Joe

Who would've thought that being at the wrong place at the wrong time would bring something so surreal.

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Gathering Info

Gathering Info
May 15th, 2013

Everypony looked at the shield in anticipation and concern as we waited for Shining Armor to cross through the protection shield. I was considering to walk back into arctic to help Shining Armor, but there was no need to once he finally crossed over into the Crystal Empire. He lied on the grass for a moment before picking himself back up onto his hooves. Shining Armor's entire horn was now covered in these black crystals that seemed to of sprouted out and his left hind-leg was bruised around the midsection, almost as if he was tightly gripped there.

"Shining Armor, your horn!" Twilight exclaimed to the sight of his horn.

Shining Armor cringed as he felt his horn and tried his best conjure some magic out, but the crystals prevented the simple task.

"Maybe we can pluck them off somehow?" I suggested.

"You can try." Shining Armor said.

I used my fingers and pushed one of the crystals sideways, breaking off the pointed end of the crystal.

"Slowly, but surely," I remarked, showing the crystal to Shining Armor, but it became far-fetched once the crystal repaired itself with dark magic. "Nevermind." I said, clenching the crystal in my fist and quickly tossing it out into the arctic.

Twilight and I exchanged worried expressions before we joined with the other girls, who were mesmerized by the sight in front of them. And frankly, so was I.

Aside from the entrance made of giant, purple-red crystals, off in the distance was the empire. From this far, we could easily see a huge crystal tower that stood hundreds of feet and a city that spanned outwards. The buildings were also made of crystals that gave them a blocky architectural design.

"Wow. They were being literal when they named this place the Crystal Empire." Spike said.

"I know, right? Now that's what I call sparing no expense." Pinkie said.

"It's breathtaking. But judging by our situation, I don't think we can waste too much of our time on sight-seeing." Twilight said.

"Twilight's right." I said.

"I have to agree on that, too. Princess Cadance has been able to keep this protection shield up for quite some time, but it's very draining for her to keep it up, even for an Alicorn." Shining Armor said.

"For how much longer? Was she okay before you left?" Twilight asked.

"I don't know how much longer, but she looked like she getting weak before I left. If she fails to spread love and light throughout the empire, then the entire empire will be completely exposed to King Sombra." Shining Armor replied.

"Yeah. I don't know about you guys, but I think that's a good motivation to start moving." I said.

Shining Armor gave a single nod. "Follow me."

We followed behind Shining Armor across the stretch of path that led to the Crystal Empire for quite a good distance. When we got into the city square, we walked along a road that was a straight shot to the crystal castle. I'm not entirely sure, but the road was either made of smoothed, purple crystal, or some sort of marble material. Otherwise, it was one of the most unique roads I've ever seen.

"Man, this place looks great." I commented to Rainbow Dash.

"It's cool and all, but I prefer Cloudsdale a whole lot more. And where the heck is everypony at? This place is like a sparkly ghost-town." Rainbow replied.

I shrugged my shoulders. "Maybe they didn't come back with the Crystal Empire at all." I guessed.

"No, they're here." Shining Armor corrected.

"Then where are they?" I asked.

"Hiding out inside their homes. Either they feel insecure about going outside, or still asleep from their one-thousand year stasis " Shining Armor said.

"But they will wake up, right?" Twilight asked.

"I believe so." Shining replied.

I kept on eye out for any citizen's until my attention was brought to the Crystal Castle once we got underneath it.

"Wow. Check this thing out." I said as I ran my hand down the crystal structure.

"I know! It's just gorgeous! There's just no words to describe its perfection!" Rarity said, giddily.

"Focus, you two. We're to help Twilight, not admire the scenery." Applejack said.

"Eh, I don't see what the big deal is. Just looks like another old castle to me." Rainbow said.

"A- p- guh-! Another old...! Have you lost your mind? Just look at the margi--." Rarity began. "Oh, very funny."

Personally, I saw that coming a mile away, but Rarity sure didn't at first. Both Rainbow and Applejack laughed just from getting a rise out of Rarity.

Shining Armor then allowed us inside through one of the entrances to the Crystal Castle, leading everyone up a set of stairs that would take us into a main hall on the upper level. With that, we made it to the throne room of the castle. Princess Cadance sat upon the throne in a weary manner.

"Ugh, she doesn't look too good." I noticed.

Cadance's head hung in a downwards position while the light-blue aura of her horn would manifest in full color and slowly fade over and over again.

"Cadance!" Twilight exclaimed.

Princess Cadance immediately lit up with joy and rose up off the throne to meet Twilight and proceed with their little 'sunshine, sunshine, ladybugs awake' thing. Apparently, it's something that Cadance used to do with Twilight all the time whenever she was babysitting her. Either way, I think it's cute that they're both still doing it after all these years.

"We have to get to together one of these days when the fate of Equestria isn't hanging in the balance." Cadance mentioned to Twilight.

"Are you okay?" Twilight asked.

Cadance winced as her spell failed for about a millisecond, but was able to bring the protection shield back up.

"I'm feeling okay... but I can keep going." Cadance replied.

"Maybe for now, but you can't go on forever, dear. And if your spell were to fail, then you know what'll happen after that." Shining Armor said.

"And that's why we're here. To prevent that from happening." Twilight said.

"You 'betcha. Why we're all here." Applejack said.

"Yeah. So, what exactly can we do to help?" I asked.

"Well, with Cadance putting all her strength into keeping her spell going, and me trying to keep an eye on signs of trouble in the arctic, we haven't been able to gather much information from the Crystal Ponies." Shining Armor replied.

"Crystal Ponies?! There are Crystal Ponies?!" Rarity squealed like an over-excited child before realizing herself. Embarrassed, to say the least. "Um, ahem. Please continue."

"But we have to believe one of them knows how we can protect the empire without the use of Cadance's magic." Shining continued.

"A research paper!" Twilight blurted out.

"Huh?" Shining puzzled.

"That must be part of my test; to gather information from the Crystal Ponies and deliver it to you! This is going to be great! I love research papers!" Twilight said.

"Yeah, who doesn't?" Rainbow said, sarcastically.

"Oh-oh-oh! Lemme guess! Is it Spike? No-no, Fluttershy! Rarity? What about Caleb? No, wait, he's always writing in his journal." Pinkie said, pulling every one of us together into a huddle.

Twilight smiled before turning back to her brother. "Don't worry, big brother. I am really good at this sort of thing."

"I'm glad to hear that, Twilight. But try not to take too long. I have no idea how much longer Cadance will last under the circumstances." Shining said.

"We won't let you down. C'mon everyone, there's no time to lose." Twilight said.

Everyone backtracked through the castle until we reached the exit. We then formed a quick, little group huddle to discuss what the plan was. Twilight decided that everyone should split up to gather as much information as possible and meet back underneath the castle to share and hope to piece everything together. I was assigned to cover the north to north-east area of the empire. A big section, I admit, but I'm up for saving an empire.

No one came to the door on the first few houses I stopped by, but on the fifth house, there was a response.

"Who is it?" The voice that came from the other side of the door was monotone and lacked emotion, a very depressive tone.

"It's, um, your friendly everyday human surveyor." I replied.

The door opened up to a stallion crystal pony, except he didn't live up to the name. Instead, his coat and mane were faded colors, which corresponded with his vocal tone and expression. We exchanged looks at each other before he spoke up.

"I didn't know we had a human surveyor." the stallion said.

"Yes. So, how are you today?" I asked.

"I just woke up not long ago...." the stallion paused as he looked up at the sky. "The sky's blue. Why is that?"

"Well, you see, you recently just woke up from a one-thousand year stasis. I don't know what the sky looked like before, but it's blue now." I replied.

"One-thousand years?" he perked. "I've been gone for that long? But, how is that possible?"

"Do you remember King Sombra?" I asked.

"I... I try not to," he replied while averting his eyes. "Wait, he's not here, right?!"

"No, no, he's not here." I replied in order to calm the stallion. "But that's kind of why I'm here, to collect information that I think only you can know."

"I'll do my best." the stallion said.

I then got my notepad and pencil out. "Okay. Do you happen to know any way to protect the empire from evil, such as King Sombra?" I asked.

"Oh, umm. I- I can't seem to remember. I feel like I should know the answer, but I can't put my hoof on it." the stallion replied.

"Take your time." I said.

"No, you don't understand. I can't think of an answer at all. All I can vividly remember before waking up is King Sombra's reign and the two alicorns that tried to save everypony." he said.

"Oh. You can't remember anything besides King Sombra?" I asked.

The stallion nodded his head. "Believe me, I would really love to give you the answer you were hoping for, but I just can't."

"Well that sucks." I said.

"Sorry." he said.

"Don't stress about it. Thank you for your time, anyways." I said.

"Sure thing." the stallion said before closing the door.

"No luck there." I said to myself.

The rest of the Crystal Ponies I stopped by to question were no same to the first. It was either that they didn't know the answer to my question, or were being chickens and ran once they took a good look at me. I gave up once I had covered half of the northern area of the empire, and when I came across Applejack because she was having the same results, too. But other than that, I thought these ponies have amnesia from being gone for one-thousand years at first, but I think it's because of King Sombra. I mean, all they remember is his reign and nothing before that, so it pretty much connects. Made me wonder what else he could do. Nothing good, obviously.

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