• Published 23rd Jun 2017
  • 1,317 Views, 39 Comments

The Ones Who Returned From Stone - Skijarama

Equestria has fallen. The Crystal Empire is all that remains of organized pony society, and the survivors want their home back.

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Chapter 15 - Royal Thanks

Maybe an hour later, Blackberry was roused from his peaceful slumber by the voice of somepony awkwardly clearing their throat from the entrance to his and Grapes’ room. He cracked open an eye to glare at whoever had dared disturb their reunion and rest, although that glare quickly morphed into a wide-eyed look of shock when he beheld the ruling Princess of the Crystal Empire, Flurry Heart, looking back at him with a very slight tint on her cheeks. Blackberry glanced down at Grapes, who was still asleep and clutching tightly to his chest, then looked up at Flurry with a sheepish grin. “Uh… I’d bow, but…”

Flurry put a hoof to her lips to stifle a small laugh. “It’s okay. If you can work yourself free, though, I’d actually like to speak with you,” she said before looking down at Grapes and smiling pleasantly. “But there’s no rush…”

“Oh, uh,” Blackberry hastily said while very gently prying his wife’s hooves off of him. “It’s no trouble, your majesty. Just give me a second, here,” with an almost cartoonish pop, he managed to free himself from Grapes’ vice-like grip without rousing her, then cantered over to stand before Flurry. He then dropped into a low bow. “Uh, what brings you around, your highness?”

Flurry giggled lightly and turned to the side. “Walk with me, would you?” she asked while gesturing with her horn down the hall. Blackberry frowned, then looked back over his shoulder at Grapes. Flurry noticed his hesitation and put a hoof reassuringly on his shoulder. “Hey, she’s safe here, and so are you. If it makes you feel better, we don’t have to leave the hospital.”

That seemed to ease Blackberry’s mind a little bit, and soon enough the two were trotting down the halls of the building in an unusual silence. Flurry led them to the staircase and took them up to the roof. Once they stepped outside, Flurry turned around to look at Blackberry with an unreadable look. He looked back at her uneasily, shuffling in place while the door to the stairwell closed behind him. A cool breeze drew by, and the ever-present Red Ring hung high in the sky, reminding him of their situation; although the faintly visible crescent of the moon next to it helped to relieve some of that fear, filling the empty space with hope.

“Blackberry, you were the one who made it possible for Moonrise Drifter, Palmwood and Wonderboom to rescue Princess Luna, and my aunt, Princess Twilight, correct?” Flurry suddenly asked in a far more firm voice. Blackberry looked back into her eyes and nodded stiffly.

“Yes, that’s me… though I only did it to make sure my family could be safe here.”

Flurry put on an understanding smile. “That makes sense, and I don’t hold your priorities against you…” her smile grew even more. “But not only did you save yours… you saved a part of mine. I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it felt to finally see my Aunt Twilight after so many years, with only stories, photos, and fragments of foalhood memories of her to go by. I…” she blinked and ran a hoof over her eyes. “I haven’t felt that happy and hopeful in a long time, Blackberry. And that hope is spreading to the whole Empire, too. So…” she spread her wings wide and bowed deeply before Blackberry, making the dark green unicorn gasp in surprise and look around helplessly, unsure of how to respond. “On behalf of my people, and as a pony who wants to protect everything we have left… Thank you, Blackberry. Thank you very much.”

Blackberry rubbed the back of his head with a wide, bashful grin, and looked away. “Y-you’re welcome, Flurry. Eh heh, can you stop bowing, please? It’s weird…”

Flurry stood up with a smirk and playfully poked Blackberry on the nose with her hoof, making him go cross-eyed. “I’m weird,” she said plainly before looking out over the empire sprawling around them. “...I’ve had to be. If I wasn’t, I probably would have died trying to protect all of this a long time ago.”

Blackberry nodded slowly, looking out at the empire as well. “Yeah… I bet.”

Suddenly, a sharp throb flared up on his side, drawing an uncomfortable hiss out of him. He lifted a hoof to the scar on his ribs and ground his teeth together. Flurry looked back at him, concerned. “Blackberry? Is something wrong?”

“Ack… just-” Blackberry grimaced when the throb flared up even more. “J-j-just my scar acting up,” he opened his eyes, having screwed them shut by reflex. When he did, they widened when he saw that the world around him was being drained of all of its colors, save for varying shades of red. Flurry Heart was frozen in place, reaching a hoof out to him in alarm. The pain in his quickly faded away, along with all sound and other sensations. All was still. All was silent.

“How convenient,” a new voice, the same one that he had heard earlier, spoke from his right. Blackberry turned and gasped in shock when he saw a twisted and distorted shadow walking towards him. It had the shape of a pony, it’s two eyes glowing a dark and sickly purple, with six long tentacles, each one tipped with blades, sprouting from its back and writhing in the air. It was Luminous Horizon, and his teeth showed in a large grin. “Princess Flurry heart is right in front of you. I don’t think she could have timed her thanks any better.”

“What… how?!” Blackberry demanded, though there was no missing the terror in his voice. “How did you get here?!”

Horizon looked at Blackberry with an almost bored look on his face, the shadows flickering off of his body to reveal the gray, patchy fur beneath. “I’m not here. I’m still sitting upon my throne on Mount Eclipse. I’m just talking to you through that seed my child planted in your ribs.”

“Seed?” Blackberry choked out, looking down at his scar. Now that he looked closer, the flesh was turning darker, and the veins were swelling up. He looked up at Horizon again, his pupils dilating with rage. “What did you do to me!?”

Horizon smiled widely. “I see no harm in telling you. After all, you’re going to be dead in a few seconds, once your mind starts processing time normally again,” he explained before his horn lit up with crackling black and blue magic. Before them, a blue, transparent recreation of that tentacle-covered ulcer of a Fiend from the snow-covered wastes south of Little Lapiz appeared. “This creature has been in reserve for a good long time. I’ve been waiting for someone ideal to implant with its seed. I could have had one implant a guard, but if we’re being honest…” he looked at Blackberry and his sadistic grin even more. “...I want Luna to watch when I tear the Crystal Empire to the ground. I want her to try to stop it, but be absolutely helpless.”

Horizon then turned and sauntered up to Blackberry, who took a few steps back. Before he could react, Horizon jabbed one of his tentacles blades into the scar. Blackberry was shocked when he didn’t feel any pain from the contact. Horizon kept talking. “The seed that my child placed in you will create the ultimate Garden. Your corpse, the pot. The blood of the Empire, the water that makes it grow.”

Blackberry’s eyes widened, and he looked to Horizon with despair. “No… no, no you can’t!” he pleaded, taking a step forward. “I have a wife! A child! I can’t leave them alone, like this!”

Horizon didn’t respond to the sentiment. “Don’t worry; they’ll be following you shortly,” he said bluntly before flashing Blackberry another condescending smile. “On behalf of my children, as the father and King of the Fiends… I thank you, Blackberry, for being the carrier of my newest child.”

The form of Horizon disappeared in a swirl of erratically twitching black smoke before the color returned to the world. The pain in Blackberry’s side flared up to unimaginable levels, and he found Flurry’s hoof touching his shoulder even as he began to scream. “Blackberry, what’s-”

“GET AWAY!” Blackberry managed to scream, shoving Flurry’s hoof back before falling back to his side. Blood began to dribble freely from his mouth, and it was becoming harder and harder to breathe. He looked at Flurry, even with blood starting to turn his eyes red. “S-s-save my f-f-f-family…” he gurgled out.

His head fell to the floor, and his life ended.

At the same moment, his side exploded open in a spray of blood and gore, causing Flurry to scramble backward in horror. From the new gaping hole in Blackberry’s corpse, a slimy, putrid-smelling pitcher of twitching, pulsing green flesh rose. Tentacles almost immediately began to grow with venus-flytrap like heads sprouting all along their lengths. One such head lunged for Flurry, saliva and digestive fluids spraying free. Flurry Heart, crying out, was barely able to flap her wings and jump backward from the teeth.

Setting down on the street almost a block away, Flurry watched in disbelief as the horrific center of this Garden continued to grow larger and larger, the tentacles covered with mouths and teeth already coiling around the entire hospital and reaching down to the streets. She could just make out panicking shrieks from inside… “NO!” She shouted, her horn igniting with yellow light before she fired a beam of energy into the pitcher of the Garden. To her horror, the magic bent uselessly around it.

On the side of the hospital, one of the windows exploded open, one of the tentacles surging out of it, coiled around a struggling earth pony mare, whose screams sent a chill down Flurry’s spine. The mare kicked and struggling, then looked up at the still extending tip of the tentacle sprouted yet another gaping maw. Said mew chomped down on her, her screams instantly going silent. Flurry felt her stomach churning with disgust when the mare’s body began to dissolve from the digestive fluids inside the mouth.

Desperate, Flurry looked around and spotted a few of her guards rushing forwards with wide-eyed looks of terror. “What the hell is THAT?!” One of the guards screamed, pointing at the abomination.

“Sound the alarm,” Flurry ordered while quickly drawing that guard’s sword out of its scabbard with her magic. “And get a weapon!”

With the order given, Flurry kicked off towards the Hospital. With a grunt of pain, she tackled one of the third story windows, breaking through it and into an unoccupied room. Just beyond the entrance, she could see another fleshy tentacle writhing past, teeth already growing along its length. With a shout, Flurry brought the guard’s sword down on the tip of the tentacle, making a clean cut all the way through and severing the appendage. Then she turned and looked down the hall towards where she had found Blackberry. She saw several ponies trying to run in a panic from the writhing tentacle, even as it branched and grew hungrily snapping mouths. One stallion screamed out when a twitch of the tentacle brought one of its mouths to his hind leg, where it wasted no time in chomping it clean off.

“EVERYPONY GET BACK!” Flurry ordered while sending her sword deeper into the hallway, towards where the tentacle was coming in through a wall. The tentacle writhed and lashed out at her, it’s already regenerating tip crushing into her shoulder hard and sending her crashing back into the room she had just stepped out of. She cried out from the excruciating pain that exploded across her shoulder. She was sure that blow had broken something.

Looking back towards the hall, the tentacle sprouted yet another maw, which then rushed towards her, eager to make a meal of her. She scooted back, barely avoiding the first chomp. The teeth came for her again but were stopped when she used her magic to hurl the bed at it and shove it back, giving her a second of breathing room. An almost angry rumble sounded from all around Flurry, and the mouth-tipped appendage bit down upon the bed itself, making the item dissolve into a black, foul-smelling puddle on the floor in a matter of seconds.

Flurry took a step back and turned to fly out through the window, only for the tentacle to coil around and block her path. She was surrounded. Flurry took a step back, sweat pouring down her neck. “Well… shit” was all she could think to say before the mouth lunged at her again.

The whole thing suddenly stopped and spasmed, its teeth stopping mere inches from Flurry’s face before slumping lifelessly to the floor. Flurry blinked, confused, then looked out of the door. A few seconds later, Grapes flew in with Flurry’s sword in her mouth, it’s blade covered in brown and red blood. She spat the weapon out at Flurry’s hooves, then looked at her with hysterical eyes and panicky breathing.

“Princess, have you seen my husband?!"

Author's Note:

Can't have a story in the Fiends trilogy without a big massacre scene. :)

Comments ( 8 )

I knew it. You are such a bastard Tone.

Can't have a story in the Fiends trilogy without a big massacre scene. :)

Hard to argue with that.

But those scenes are part of why I stayed hooked on this trilogy.:pinkiecrazy:

You get hooked by scenes of hundreds (or in this case, tens of thousands) of innocent ponies being violently and mercilessly butchered and slaughtered? Huh... okay, then. :P

I can sometimes be a sick, sick bastard, I admit.:rainbowderp:

But now that I think about it, it may be the fighting itself that really grabs my attention; it wouldn’t make that much difference whether or not any ponies involved died in battle.

I do try to make the fight scenes intense and engaging to read. A lot of that boils down to not making them too long, making them visceral, brutal, and frankly, a little savage (considering most of the combatants are quite feral.) Hell, this trilogy was inspired by a horror/action anime series called Blood-C.

His head fell to the floor, and his life ended.

Remember when I was surprised you let him live, and you acted all offended that I thought you wouldn't. Well... FUCKIN' VINDICATED YOU (insert suitable amount of utters) BASTARD!

When will you resume this story? I have to know how it all ends!:pinkiecrazy:

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