• Published 26th May 2020
  • 2,441 Views, 343 Comments

Tales from Everfree City - LoyalLiar

Princess Platinum and Celestia's first student face changelings, a magical curse, the specter of war with the griffons, and the threat of arranged marriage in early Equestria.

  • ...

PreviousChapters Next
Interlude X - The Seven-and-Zero Souls of Coil the Immortal

Interlude X

The Seven-and-Zero Souls of Coil the Immortal

Countess Solstice deposited our heroes at the Tsarina Metel' International Airport—the sudden arrival of a self-driving carriage was, apparently, normal enough that guardsponies did not flood the unannounced arrival—but it was quite a surprise to a surprising number of heavily jacketed and hatted civilians who looked up in alarm.

The Countess wasted no time in departing, insisting she had business back in Trotsylvania, and so mere moments after their arrival, Celestia's gang of four, along with Daring Do, were suddenly just more faces in the masses.

"Did Princess Celestia say where she'd meet us, Ink?" Sunset asked as she guided her companions to a set of rather uncomfortable formed plastic chairs. "Do we need to head to Burning Hearth, or—"

"She'll come through here," Ink muttered, letting his eyes wander the room.

"You look like a tourist," Tempest teased. "New paint or something?"

"Stol'nograd doesn't have an airport," Ink explained. "At least, it didn't when I left. Most airships weren't rated to fly in the cold, and there weren't enough ponies who would want to visit. This is all new."

Sunset's eyes swept the concourse, where huge backlit wall displays advertised resort hotels, tours of historic sites like Burning Hearth Castle ("Relive the Battle of the Short Hallway!" and "See the Diamond Throne!" stood out to her), and even skiing and snowboarding were advertised not in the Stalliongradi language, but in familiar Equiish. Between them, ponies at food stalls vended a mixture of Stalliongradi favorites that filled the air with pungent smells of pickling vinegar and rich sour cream, along with more traditional Canterlot-style fare.

"Well, it seems like more ponies are coming to visit now," Somnambula observed, her chipper and optimistic air having returned since her confrontation with Mentor. "That's good, right?"

"Makes me wonder what else has changed," Ink admitted, though the shrug that came with it was more indifferent than offended. "The Princess usually prefers an open chariot, but she's bringing us back The Constellation, and there aren't a lot of spaces in the city wide enough to park an airship."

"Hey, friends," Daring Do cut in. "Um… I don't mean to cut you off, but I figure this is about as far as we go together. Was there anything else you needed?"

Sunset shook her head, and then paused. "Well, we got the medallion, but I guess I should ask anyway: do you know where Dr. Caballeron is? Or where the—" Sunset paused to pull up the medallion around her neck, but though it shared the trait of being a piece of neck jewelry, its flat, round surface had nothing in common with the shield-shaped amulet Celestia had described. "It's an amulet with Queen Platinum the Third's cutie mark on it."

Daring closed her eyes and rubbed a temple with her wing. "Was hers the crown with the rose through the middle? Or was that Prince Mercury?"

Somnambula spoke up at the confusion. "Gale had a tiara with a sword through the middle."

"Oh, that's right!" Daring sighed. "Sorry, I've been dealing with Tambelonian history so much recently, my early Equestrian must be slipping. I don't think I know any amulet like that; at least, I can't place an artifact with that description. But if it belonged to the Warrior Queen, of course it'd be an incredible piece regardless; so much of that history was lost in the Twilight War." Daring frowned, then shook her head. "Caballeron, right. I think I thwarted his schemes one too many times; 'Lord Barnacle'—that's his alter-ego; see, it's an anagram—"

"We know," Tempest deadpanned.

"It's clever," Daring grumbled to herself, before picking up. "From what I hear, he can't afford to hire his mooks inside Equestria anymore; ex-guardsponies don't come cheap. So he's working out of Verko's."

Tempest cocked her head at that. "The one in Klugetown?"

Daring offered a sympathetic look. "The one and only. Sorry if you know him. You get on his bad side too?"

"Y-yeah," Tempest lied. "Definitely that."

Daring Do was not convinced, but she elected not to press the issue. "Anything else I can do for you? Otherwise, I gotta get back to tracking down these magic bells."

"Good luck," Sunset offered. "And thanks!"

"Hey, you all saved me; a couple answers and…" Daring let out a little sigh. "…and Mentor, is the least I can do." With the wave of a golden wing, the adventurer departed, and our heroes set out to find a good spot to watch for the arriving Constellation.

⚜ ⚜ ⚜

Something like three hours later, Lt. Commander Red Ink could be heard barking orders in Stalliongradi to the airport security staff, so that they could keep back a small but growing crowd of curious onlookers, as Celestia and her small band of Honor Guard escorts walked from their loading ramp across the snow-covered tarmac and toward the airport gate.

Sunset reflected they were an odd group; certainly less uniform than when she'd been Celestia's student living in the castle. One grim-looking olive pegasus stallion was rather normal, but a burnt-orange mare of the same breed hovered at Celestia's side; it was only after a moment Sunset realized that she was missing her hind legs entirely. On the Princess' other side were two unicorns: a weathered old mare of royal blue with a white mane, and a much younger tan stallion with a dark brown mane and—most notably—a jagged crack running straight down from the tip of his horn to the base.

"What's with the weird guards?" Tempest asked, having approached quietly enough that Sunset jumped. "Sorry."

"It's okay; just… not used to somepony as big as you moving that quietly."

Tempest chuckled. "When you don't grow up in Equestria, you have to find a way to live long enough that you get the chance to bulk up."

The implications of that thought chilled Sunset, but she said nothing on the subject, instead answering the original question. "Those are the Honor Guard; Princess Celestia's personal bodyguards."

"Really? She can get the best guards she wants, and she picks a guy with a broke horn and a filly with no legs?"

Sunset shrugged. "They're all newer than me."

"Even the old mare?"

"Well, I assume she was a guardspony before, but she wasn't Honor Guard when I was a filly." In the course of the conversation, a cold wind swept into the seating area in front of that segment of tarmac, as Celestia and her escort came in from the cold.

As Tempest, Sunset, and Somnambula gathered around the Princess, the guardsponies maneuvered past them to join the airport security guards. The senior unicorn, in particular, approached Ink.

"Lieutenant-Commander Ink," said the old mare, striding forward spryly for her age. "Good to see you're not dead."

"Well, not anymore," Ink muttered, tacking on "Commander Flag." as a loose afterthought. "Was there a fight?"

"No; whoever you encountered, they were gone by the time we arrived. And the bodies you reported being animated were all back to being just corpses." That simple note elicited a frown from both guardsponies. The elder continued "The Princess wants you included in these discussions; we'll relieve you of crowd duty."

"Believe me: it's a relief." Ink moved to step past the old mare, only to take pause when a blue hoof was placed on his shoulder.

"Are you alright, Ink? You died; that's rough on a soul."

"You know about this weird death magic shit, Flag?" Ink asked in reply, then shook his head. "I'm fine now. I got it less bad than Rainbow Dash, anyway."

Worry flashed across Flag's face, and her eyes flickered toward the crowd, though they seemed well far enough away, and the comment was quiet enough, not to be a risk. Still, crossly, she noted "I doubt the entire airport has Level Three national security clearance, Lieutenant Commander. Report to the Princess. But if you aren't up to this job after what happened, I want to be clear, it won't reflect poorly on you."

Ink shook his head, and stubbornly insisted "I'm fine." as he left her behind.

A moment later, Celestia smiled. "Ah, Mr. Ink; are you doing alright? If you're suffering any—"

"Just had that conversation," Ink brazenly interrupted Celestia (and to the credit of his bravery, he was one of very few ponies in history with the audacity to dare). "Let's get on with what you're actually here for."

Celestia pointedly cleared her throat, with enough force that it disturbed her ethereal mane. "Well, yes. It seems I have some things to tell you all, and I would like the chance to talk to this… fragment of Morty you've found. But first, I'm afraid this isn't the best venue for such a chat. Do you all mind if we use the Constellation?"

"It's your airship, Princess," said Sunset jokingly.

Nopony really seemed to have registered what the actual question Celestia was asking had been, until a moment later when the golden glow of her magic faded with the rather crackling pop of her terrifyingly powerful teleportation, and the group found themselves once more in the airship's common room.

"Oh. Huh," Sunset babbled, dealing with the shock. "Alright, Princess. Um, the medallion—'Mentor', he calls himself—said after using my magic that he had to sleep, so I don't know how long it will be until he wakes up. But—"

"I'm awake."

"Ah." Sunset rolled her eyes. "I stand corrected, Princess. He's up. Also, what the heck? How dare you use my horn to kill somepony!"

"You're still on about that? He's fine; he's literally standing right next to you. Now, can I drive, so I can talk to—"

"No!" Sunset shouted. "Absolutely not, you can't 'drive' my body again! You expect me to trust you after that? If the Princess wants to talk to you, she can wear the medallion, but—"

"No!" The shriek in Sunset's mind was one of desperation, or at least urgency. "That'll kill me. Destroy me. Whatever term you want. The way I interface with my wearer's soul isn't safe for somepony with a spark of immortality to use."

"Really?" Sunset rolled her eyes. "Okay. Somnambula… do you mind being Morty for a few minutes?"

"Me?" Somnambula asked. "I mean, sure, I don't mind, but why—"

"You're not a unicorn, so he can't use your magic to be a jerk," Sunset explained. "And I feel like this isn't the right time to ask Ink, given what happened in Onyx Ridge."

"You guess right." Ink had wandered over to the Constellation's galley, where he retrieved a sizeable bottle of gin and another of tonic water—which he offered to the rest of the crew (and even Celestia) and was turned down on all counts.

Somnambula took the Mentor Medallion from Sunset and slipped it around her neck. Within two seconds, her whole posture changed. "Celestia," she said with a rather even, but well enunciated voice.

"Should I call you 'Morty'? 'Mentor' seems a little odd, given our relationship."

"I don't really care what you call me," Somnambula's throat replied ambivalently. "I'd suggest not 'Morty'; I probably can't pass muster as the pony you want. But I might be able to help you find him."

Celestia looked at Somnambula with a rather harsh expression—one Sunset had only rarely seen, at the very end of her time in Canterlot Castle, when the tension between them had grown near to its ultimate breaking point. "I'm well aware, Medallion, that you don't pass for Morty. You've already failed that test. My old friend might occasionally cross a boundary in the interest of saving the world, but his centuries have at least taught him enough empathy to apologize when he's wronged another pony."

Somnambula's eyes rolled uncharacteristically, and her head glanced to Ink. Her voice, laden with sarcasm, said "I'm sorry I mildly inconvenienced you." Then, rather without even the pretense of a segue, Mentor bulldozed right on to the next point of the conversation. "Right… is there a chalkboard on this airship?"

Celestia brought a freestanding chalkboard into existence as though it was the most effortless thing in the world. "Ah. Thank you." Picking up a piece of chalk in Somnambula's feathers, Mentor began to write. "Some decades ago, 'Morty Prime' approached my prior bearer before Daring. He wanted to warn me that Nightmare Moon would be returning soon, and that he was taking some steps to prepare. Namely, there was some plan set in motion—he didn't tell us what—that he didn't trust."

"My plan to bring up a student who could use the Elements of Harmony," Celestia provided. "And yes, Morty did not agree with that plan."

"That was your plan?" Mentor asked with a scoff. Then Somnambula's face soured with shame at the look Celestia offered in answer. "Well, in any case, he decided to set up a backup plan—in case Luna took over Equestria, or something. The way he described it, Luna would have known to expect him, so if he didn't show up to confront her she'd seek him out. At the same time, it's also true she's the next-best necromancer in the world, so given his success stalling her in the Twilight War, it would be risky to throw everything at her—because if she still won, she might figure out the secret of his spell and actually kill him. Permanently. Or worse, raise him as the most horrifying Night Guard who could ever exist."

A small shudder ran down Sunset's spine at the thought, and even Celestia gave a small wince—though the alicorn picked up quickly. "But Morty didn't fight Nightmare Moon. When she reappeared in Ponyville, there were only a few of my Honor Guard there to face her."

"Really?" Mentor raised one of his currently-in-use brows. "And he didn't come around to your half-baked plan?" Again, Celestia expressed her displeasure silently, and again Mentor dropped the topic. "He didn't tell me a lot, but he did tell me that if Nightmare Moon won, my host and I were going to be responsible for picking up the pieces."

"Meaning fighting Nightmare Moon?" Tempest asked with a skeptical look. "'Go grab that leg by the door, I think I see where his horn ended up.'"

Somnambula's head shook side-to-side. "Picking up the pieces of him."

Sunset raised a brow. "Given he wrote the beginning of Tales with half his head in a jar, that still sounds like Tempest is right."

A sigh escaped Somnambula's lips. "'Morty' goes through limbs like mayflies go through bucket lists. There's at least three good arguments to make that he isn't a pony anymore; just… 'pony-shaped'. I'm talking about his soul… ish thing."

"Soul-ish thing?" asked Sunset.

Pegasus shoulders shrugged. "Ask Genius when you find him."

"Who's 'Genius'?" asked Tempest.

"Well, like I was saying, 'Morty Prime' divided his soul…ish thing… into seven pieces and scattered them all over Equestria—and beyond—with only enough of himself still driving his body to pass on the illusion that it was his 'full power.' The plan was, when that body died, if Luna poked around with it and ended the spells that were keeping it alive she'd think she had won, and Morty could build up a resistance or come up with a better plan after we got all the parts together again." Here, Somnambula's wing began to scrawl on the board with urgency.

"I know that there are seven pieces; he named them, though the names aren't going to help you find them. Here's the list, so pay attention. Or scrawl it in the margin of Tales, I don't care."

  • Regrets
  • Genius
  • Ego
  • Cunning
  • Compassion
  • Burden
  • Essence

Sunset conjured this book from her hidey-hole and began searching frantically for a quill or a pen, only to be surprised when Celestia offered both in her magical grip (the former apparently having been plucked from her own wing). "Thanks, Princess."

"You're welcome."

Mentor tapped on the end of the list with his chalk and turned to the group. "I'm not going to go into too much detail about what these are, because I don't know. He only told me where to find the first one; I guess it knows where to find the next one in line, and so forth. But, as luck would have it, Daring and I ran into one more in our little adventures."

Chalk scratched away on the board as Somnambula's wing began to write alongside the narration. It read thusly:

  • Cunning - Enchanted tattoo on badlands hippogriff.

"The one Daring and I ran into is Cunning; it's a bit like myself, but rather than a tangible object, it takes the form of a tattoo. I don't know what it does other than glow and vaguely feel like part of me, though given the name 'cunning' it can't be too hard to guess. Last I saw it, it was in the possession of a hippogriff of the criminal variety, working in the badlands near the old changeling hive."

"Hmm…" Tempest wrinkled up her forehead for a moment. "I can't place a tattooed hippogriff out of the badlands. But I do have… contacts I can ask."

"Friends?" Celestia suggested.

Tempest suppressed a chuckle. "I learned a lot from Twilight and her friends, Princess, but I haven't exactly brought it back south."

"This seems as good a time as ever to start," Celestia offered. "Perhaps talk to that delightful Abyssian tom; he seemed to know the lay of the land."

Chalk tapped on the chalkboard, clutched in Somnambula's leading feathers, to gather the room's attention. With a once-more raised voice, Mentor pressed on. "Morty actually wanted us to start with Regrets, which should be easy, since he just gave them to Hurricane. In physical form, it's akin to one of your memory crystals, Celestia." With a grin on Somnambula's face, mentor turned from the chalkboard. "Which brings us around to our other point of conversation, doesn't it?"

Celestia sighed. "How much did you already tell them about Hurricane?"

"Apart from my message to you, nothing. But I didn't think it'd be a big deal, when you let them read Tales."

"No, I suppose not…" Celestia then took a moment to compose herself and let her gaze sweep over the rest of the ponies. "Tempest, I suppose this means less to you since you never had the chance to meet the stallion, but the pony the two of you knew as 'the Commander' was Hurricane."

"What?" Sunset asked. "Really?"

"Well, now the fake names seem obvious. But why?" Ink continued with a bit of a scoff. "Nopony else in the last two thousand years cut it? As a history teacher, I'd say he was a half-rate military leader—all the respect he deserves is statesponyship. You should have picked Firefly, or Purple Dart, or Tartarus, even Typhoon would've been better."

"That's not the job I wanted him for," said Mentor, in Somnambula's voice. When Celestia raised a brow, the sapient amulet waved the concern off with a wing. "Believe it or not, I remember this choice quite perfectly." Then Somnambula's eyes fully settled on Ink. "At the beginning of the Twilight War, Luna and her Night Guard cut a bloody swath through Everfree City. The best of the Royal Guard, most of the archmagi at the college… And she raised the best of the best to fight on her side."

"And she didn't just win that night?" Tempest asked.

It was uncanny hearing such an ominous laugh come from the usually cheery Somnambula. "Give Celestia more credit."

"She wasn't that hard to beat…" Tempest answered in reply, a comment which made Celestia herself laugh, but left Mentor rather perturbed.

"I had a hunch things would turn out alright with you, Tempest. Luna and Cadance and I may have gone a little easy on you. Certainly easier than we would have been if the Storm King had shown up in person to start with."

Tempest found herself slack-jawed. "You let me turn you to stone because you trusted Twilight that much?"

"It hasn't failed me yet," Celestia admitted in reply, with an unsubtly harsh glance to Mentor. "But regarding Hurricane… when Morty returned to Equestria at the beginning of the war, we elected to resurrect him for three reasons. The first is that, despite Lieutenant Commander Ink's misgivings he had military command experience we desperately needed. The second is that he, to my knowledge, was the only living pony who had successfully killed one of Luna's Night Guards one-on-one." Sunset quietly noted that thought, but said nothing. "The third… was at Emperor Magnus' request. His one unusual demand in exchange for an alliance against Nightmare Moon."

"What?" Somnambula's head looked up in shock at Celestia. "You never mentioned that. And that isn't the third reason at all."

"Oh?" Celestia asked. "I thought that out of myself and Morty, Hurricane was much more likely to take that piece of news well coming from me. What was your third reason?"

Somnambula blinked the awkward, hesitant blink of somepony who had said too much. "Well… ah, what's the point of secrets anymore? Celestia, I raised Hurricane for you. When Luna betrayed you, you weren't exactly in an emotional state to fight her in a war. And since I couldn't cheer you up—or at least get your head in the game, as it were—I went to the only other pony I could remember that you were ever that kind of close to. Besides Gale, obviously."

"Why not her?" Ink asked over the lip of his gin. "I'd think the Warrior-Queen would have been just as much an asset as Hurricane, no?"

"Gale… can't be resurrected," Celestia admitted. "And as I told Sunset in Canterlot, the rest of that story is Morty's to tell." With a harsh glare, she added "The real Morty."

"Hey, no need to tell me twice," Mentor replied. "Not like I like digging that up."

Sunset cocked her head. "But how was Hurricane able to be resurrected? I thought the general limit on seances before a soul faded too much to come back was, what, two hundred years?"

Celestia glanced to Somnambula's body, but Mentor shrugged. So the alicorn's posture and tone shifted to that of the magical mentor. "Morty can tell you more when you find him, but I know the simple explanation. Souls fade when nopony with strong emotional attachments remembers them. The two-hundred year limit is because that's roughly the average lifespan of an earth pony. But when Luna and I form a strong enough attachment to somepony… well, old age hasn't caught up to us yet."

"So everypony you were ever close to just… exists in the Summer Lands forever?" Asked Ink, before draining a gin and tonic in a long swig and beginning to prepare another.

Celestia shook her head. "Souls are meant to fade—or so Luna and Morty both insist. Luna and I keep a sort of rolling storage of our memory in a set of enchanted crystals—I have next to no memory of the century that ended two hundred years ago. That century-long gap gives the souls closest to us time to naturally fade before we reclaim our memories and forget the next period. And usually, two hundred years is enough time that not remembering intimate details doesn't cause us any political problems."

"But you didn't forget Hurricane?" Tempest asked.

With obvious hesitation in her voice, Celestia replied "I can't forget Gale. Believe me, I've tried. And unfortunately, that makes Hurricane a bit unforgettable too."

Mentor suppressed a snort of laughter that was lost on the rest of the assembled.

"Wait," said Sunset. "So I could seance, like, Queen Platinum? Or Archmage Diadem?"

Celestia frowned. "You could," she said, at exactly the same time Mentor firmly said "No." The two ancients looked to one another and shared a silent conversation, before the latter eventually turned back to Sunset. "Somepony could, but you're not a good enough necromancer. Apparently, you had a bad teacher."

Celestia gave an unusual show of emotion by taking a slight offense at the comment. "Believe it or not, I don't groom all of my students to be copies of Morty. Given your list, Morty seems to have that more than under control without my help."

"I'm starting to feel you don't like me much, Celestia," said Mentor.

Celestia nodded. "Then at least in terms of his lack of social awareness, Morty has done a very good job on this particular copy." Turning back to the group, she continued "Hurricane volunteered to stay at my side for as long as Luna was exiled… and then, recently, a little bit longer, so that he could prepare a new successor to protect me and run the Honor Guard."

Nopony missed that Celestia's one visible eye flitted to Ink.

Gin and tonic were aerosolized as he sprayed the liquid in shock. "Wait, me?"

"That was his original plan, when he met you during the revolution against Baron Frostbite. But as I understand it, after your handling of the subsequent unrest, he felt differently."

Ink's ears fell. "I guess I deserve that… So he chose Flag? She's probably a better choice anyway; she's a career military mare."

Celestia shook her head. "I'm afraid his choice was Soldier On."

Fire engulfed the galley for about half a second before, with an extended wing of her own, Celestia casually began to absorb the fire. The display lasted for several seconds, until at last, panting and smoking, Red Ink collapsed against the countertop.

"He… stabbed me in the back…" Along with the fire, Celestia seemed to have removed the stallion's very fury; all that was left was fatigue in his hollow voice.

"I elected not to get involved, at his request, but he did confide to me that at one point he offered the chance to change your course, and you refused. Beyond that, I would tell you to seek him out and have a discussion that seems long overdue… but that brings us back to the original issue. Medallion, I could not have sent Hurricane because he was killed five years ago."

"Oh…" Mentor noted flatly. "And?"

"And? He's dead."

"No. He died. There's a difference… don't tell me you stuck him in some box somewhere?"

"What are you talking about?" Celestia outright snapped. "Morty told me the spell that brings a pony back to life—not undeath, but real life—ties them to their body in a way that if they die again, their soul gets dispersed!"

Somnambula's head cocked. "And you thought that's all I cast on him?"

"All you—what are you talking about?"

"I have no idea when, or why, Morty taught you that spell; frankly, he should have known you'd misunderstand or misuse it. But if that was where my immortality stopped, I would have been dispersed fighting the Prince of Thieves. And I wasn't stupid enough to send Hurricane into the Twilight War if he was going to be dispersed the first time he kicked the bucket. Imagine what that would've done to you, when you were already emotionally on the ropes from Luna's entire catastrophe. That'd defeat the entire purpose of raising him over any other soldier with half-good magic in the first place."

"Hurricane is… Morty's kind of immortal?" Celestia asked tentatively. Hopefully.

"That, I cannot tell you. Morty didn't give me all the deep understanding of those spells; I just know the general logic behind why. So I totally believe you that Hurricane died, but if you're telling me he stayed dead, you've got bigger problems than his passing. Where is his body? I'm surprised it didn't just get up."

"We… never found it," said Ink. "The assassin said she brought him to Warchief Khagan, but beyond that…" The red stallion ended the comment with a half-hearted shrug, still tired from losing his fire.

Mentor sneered in distaste. "What would that idiot want with Hurricane?"

"Who?" Sunset asked.

"He's the leader of the boars," explained Tempest Shadow. "Their, uh, 'god'; he's big like the Princesses. And he's scary; I tried to convince the Storm King to take his magic first, but he thought he had a better chance against Equestria. I guess he can make things rot or decompose or get old just by looking at them."

Mentor chuckled. "Sometimes, Celestia, I do wish some horrifying monster would read just one history book and try their luck with the dragons or the elk or something instead of us. But no, it's always the ponies that look weak and peaceful…"

"I much prefer we give that impression, rather than force ponykind to live in a culture that suggests otherwise," Celestia replied. "It seems I'm going to have to arrange to meet Warchief Khagan."

"After he blames you for the plague? That's brave, Princess." When most ponies present—including Celestia—turned to Tempest Shadow with expressions of confusion and worry, Tempest took a notable step back. "You, uh, you do know about the tusk plague, right?"

"I was aware there was a disease; we offered medical supplies, and I recall being surprised they were refused. But I hadn't heard they blamed me."

"Well, not you personally; ponies in general." Tempest frowned. "I don't know why, I just know I never got a good welcome anytime we stopped in Suida."

"Hmm…" Celestia nodded. "This feels like something I ought to have heard about. I'm going to have to have a talk with Secret Service. Sunset, team, for the time being I'm going to ask you let me attempt to locate Hurricane with Equestria's resources. Confronting Warchief Khagan is not a level of danger that I feel matches the task I've put before you all. And Khagan is notoriously an… unstable element. I would not want your actions leading us to war with Suida."

"Oh, come on," said Mentor jovially. "What good adventure doesn't involve picking a fight with a god?"

Celestia's brow turned very quickly into a knot. "We're not gods."

"I know, I know. But 'immortals empowered with control over elements of the natural world' just doesn't roll off the tongue quite as cleanly, you know?" Glancing around the room, he shrugged. "At least even without Hurricane, you've got Cunning to chase, right?"

"And the locket amulet thing from Caballeron," added Sunset. "Two leads, and at least kind of both in the same direction. I think we're off to Klugetown."

Celestia gave a small nod, and then opened a small pocket dimension of her own, very much like Sunsets, and produced four small torcs of simple silver, with a gap in the front, and a small sapphire in the back. "I hope your further adventures will be less dramatic than this experience with this rogue Morty, but I prepared these just in case. If somepony tries to cast Wintershimmer's Razor on any of you, they'll start to glow and heat up, and the effect will be slowed down considerably. Hopefully, enough time to take some action. I have to warn you, they won't delay the effect forever, and if somepony using such a spell breaks past them, the enchantment will be broken permanently."

Gratefully taking the offered items, the crew of The Constellation then set about making the airship ready for another voyage. Celestia, for her part, offered a few more mostly empty words of encouragement that probably did make our heroes feel better (it was Celestia, after all) but weren't of enough substance to be worth recording here. Soon, Somnambula was back to her old cheerful self, Tempest had once more taken the helm, and Sunset found herself sprawled out on one of the ship's couches delving into the next chapter of this very tome.

PreviousChapters Next