• Published 30th Jan 2019
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Knowledge is Power - hydra30

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Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Spike all trotted into the throne room with the Princesses, Shining Armour, and Raven Inkwell. They had departed for Ponyville shortly after Twilight left with Hermaeus Mora, having wanted to return their terrified siblings home so they could recover from this traumatic experience, but also because they had wanted to discuss what they should do about the situation with Twilight amongst themselves. Princess Celestia knew how much Twilight meant to them, so before they departed, she had assured them that if they had any insight on how to proceed regarding their missing friend, she would listen.

"So this black book thingy is how Twilight and Hermy first met?" asked Pinkie Pie, back to her ever boisterous self, bouncing up to examine the book held in Shining Armour's magic.

"It is very likely," said Cadance, throwing the book a wary glance. "We found it in the caves beneath Canterlot, so it stands to reason that it is indeed the same book Twilight told us about."Once again, she shuddered as she took in the books foreboding appearance. "And I believe you will all agree, it bears a striking resemblance to the book Hermaeus Mora gave Twilight moments before she vanished."

"I concur," said Rarity, also examining the book. After Twilight paralyzed them all, she had been the closest of their group to see what happened that day, also seeing the book Twilight had with more clarity then the others. "Yes, this book is identical to the one I saw Twilight open moments before she vanished."

"Why have you all come here?" asked Celestia, everyone looking to her.

"You said if we came up with a solution, we should come see you," said Rainbow Dash, hovering over the ground.

"Since you were about to attempt to infiltrate Hermaeus Mora's home, or whatever it is, to try and liberate Twilight, it's a good thing we did," said Applejack, a serious look on her face.

"You disagree with this tactic?" asked Luna, being answered with nods, "Why?"

"As terrible as it sounds, Hermaeus Mora has done nothing to warrant such a response from us," said Fluttershy, the four regal ponies of the room giving her a wide mouthed look.

"He didn't really kidnap Twilight, it was part of their deal that she returned after Equestria was out of danger, " said Rainbow Dash, "Twilight was just upholding her end of the bargain."

"How can you say that?" inquired Cadance, looking distraught. "Twilight is a pony, one who is important to all of us, not goods to be traded."

"We know that, your majesty, but we also know that must be how Hermaeus Mora is viewing this situation," said Rarity, her mane drooping in her sadness,."He didn't demand praise for saving Equestria, after he destroyed Chrysalis, all he wanted afterward was for Twilight to return home with him, and since he has not made any threatening moves against us so far, we believe it is because he has no reason to."

"But he may still become angry with us if we make a wrong move," said Pinkie, an uncharacteristic serious expression on her face. "And I know I would be mad if a bunch of uninvited guests broke into my house, and tried to take something I had pretty much earned away from me."

"What are you all saying?" said Shining Armour, glaring at the group of Ponyvillians. "You're acting as if we have no choice but to leave Twily with that...thing."

"What choice do we have?" asked Applejack, "You saw what that varmint did to Chrysalis, do you really want to kick that hornet's nest?"

"But we can't leave Twilight to his mercy either," said Cadance desperately. "Since she didn't reappear before us in a second when she left, it can only be assumed Hermaeus Mora isn't manipulating time again."

"If it took Hermaeus Mora fifteen years to teach Twilight his magic, who knows how long it will take for Twilight to exchange what he wants to him," added Celestia, her voice a mixture of regret and sorrow. "What if he decides to do to her, what he did to Chrysalis?"

"I don't think that would happen," said Spike, speaking for the first time since he arrived. "Chrysalis provoked him, that's why he sucked her brains out."

"He did more than that, young Spike," said Princess Luna.

"What do you mean, your highness?" asked Fluttershy, wondering how much more could have happened when Hermaeus Mora took down Chrysalis.

"We had our doctors examine Chrysalis' corpse, trying to understand what kind of creature Hermaeus Mora is," said Celestia, everyone looking to her again. "The results were unsettling."

"How so?" asked Rainbow Dash, the rest shivering slightly at the uncomfortable topic regarding a dead person.

"The cause of death was not bodily, but molecular," said Luna, shivering.

"The doctors say that they have never seen anything like it," continued Celestia, getting back on topic. "They said she was perfectly healthy on the surface, but when they looked down further, they discovered all the electrical neurons in her brain were strained almost to the point of bursting."

"As if they had all fired at once," added Luna, "Even beyond what would be the neurons natural limit."

"And from what we know, no force we know of should be able to do that," finished Shining Armour.

Twilight's friends all gasped at hearing that. They had faced several trials so far, but what was being described to them was chilling them to the bone. But their resolve had not faltered.

"All the more reason we should not aggravate Hermaeus Mora," said Applejack.

"What would you suggest we do?" asked Shining Armour desperately. "We can't leave Twilight there, all alone. She has done too much for us for to just abandon her like that."

"You're right," said Fluttershy, a knowing look in her eyes.

" We can't leave Twilight all alone," said Rainbow Dash.

Celestia could tell they had something in mind and turned to Raven Inkwell.

"Please bring us some tea, Miss Inkwell."

"Yes, your majesty," replied Inkwell, leaving immediately.

---

"You're sure you want to do this?" asked Princess Luna, a look of great worry on her face.

"It's not a question of whether we want to do it," said Rainbow Dash, her face the picture of resolve, "We owe it to Twilight."

"I concur," said Rarity.

"Yes indeedy," agreed Pinkie.

"Yep," said Applejack, almost mimicking her brother.

"I know Twilight would do the same," said Fluttershy, looking afraid, but still willing to move forward.

"I have known Twilight my whole life," said Spike, clenching his claws. "I won't abandon her now."

Celestia and Luna exchanged looks, as well as Cadance and Shining Armour. These individuals had just given them an alternative that was in every way contrary to what they had originally planned to do, and they didn't like it. But they also realized they had a sound argument.

What would they do if they provoked Hermaeus Mora?

He had already proven to be more powerful than anything they had a hope of handling. If they drew his ire, it would be Equestria's doom, no doubt. Twilight was the focus here, and if they could not bring her home, at least not yet, there was something they could do that would be the next best thing.

But it still required them to get to Apocrypha.

"Well, what are we waiting for?" asked Pinkie Pie, everyone present gasping as she took the book and opened it.

"PINKIE! NO!"

"OOHH," gasped Pinkie, showing the open pages to all the others. "Look at this."

They all gazed as they beheld the intricate moving runes scurrying across the paper. The Princesses even had no words, the movement of the letters having an almost hypnotic appeal. It was so beautiful, it was hard to believe it was connected to such a revolting creature.

Then a black tendril erupted from outside the book and coiled around them in a lasso like fashion, a yellowish green light washing over all of them.

"What is happening?" gasped Fluttershy, trying to move but unable to.

"Don't panic," said Luna, the floor rising up to meet them. "I believe it is sending us to Hermaeus Mora's realm, Apocrypha."

With that thought in mind they steeled themselves for what was to come. Twilight was somewhere past this point, and they needed to get to her, no matter the cost. They could do no less after all that had happened.

"Rainbow?" said Fluttershy nervously, looking to her oldest friend for support. "Do you think it'll be scary... this, Apocrypha,?"

"Don't worry, Flutters," said Rainbow Dash reassuringly. "Hermaeus Mora might have been a horrible monster, but Apocrypha is a supposed to be a library. How scary can a library be?"
---

The group of ponies plus one dragon stood on a ledge that overlooked a sea of thick, black liquid that stretched as far as the eye could see, black tendrils extruding up from the surface. The sky above was a sickly green yellow color, the black tendrils of Hermaeus Mora extending out of vortexes, just like he had done in Equestria. Multiple islands could be seen, bumpy and misshapen, some even had large structures built on them.

All of them looking on to the horror that was Apocrypha.

"You were saying, Rainbow?" said Applejack, looking to the dumbstruck pegasus above.

"Aaahhh!" said Rainbow in surprise, ducking to avoid the books that had flown by, flapping their pages like bird wings. "I stand corrected," she admitted, watching the books fly around the bend, shivering as her line of sight showed her a spiraling vortex of book pages. "Great Thunder Caps! I never thought it was possible for books to make somepony's skin crawl like this."

"You're not alone in that, Rainbow," said Spike, fanning a fainted Rarity with a claw.

Fluttershy was clinging to Pinkie Pie, tears streaming her face as she took in her surroundings.

"Twilight spent fifteen years here?" moaned Shining Armour, looking around, unable to comprehend what his eyes were telling him.

"A... and... and she..." Cadence was having trouble talking while she fought to keep her crying under control. "And... she... she did it... to protect us?"

"Oh Twilight," said Celestia, lowering her head in shame. "How could I have ever doubted you?"

"Focus on the here and now, sister," said Luna, taking her sister by the hoof. "we are here too..."

"Ahhh!"

They all turned at Fluttershy's scream in time to see her stiffen up and fall on her back.

Before them, in the heart of the island they now found themselves on was a huge castle, foreboding and wicked in it's dark color. Poor Fluttershy must have taken one look, and was literally scared stiff. It was huge, ominous with its spiked fence and dark color.

"How are we supposed to find Twilight?" Asked Rainbow Dash, Fluttering down to her fallen friend. "Look how big this place is."

"It doesn't matter," said Cadance, swallowing her sobs. "We will search for an Eternity, if we need..."

'DUR NEH VIIR'

"TWILIGHT!" shouted Rarity and Fluttershy, snapping out of their individual states, and taking off towards the build in front of them, the noise had come from the roof.

"Come on," said Celestia, racing after the first two, all other ponies and dragon entered through the huge buildings front door.

They did not hear the roar.

They did not see the winged shadow cast over the door the had entered.

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