• Published 30th Jan 2019
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Knowledge is Power - hydra30

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28 Temptation

It was several hours before the girls began to return to the living quarters set up in Apocrypha, Applejack and Rainbow Dash being the first. They appeared in the room where Twilight had been doing her research with a splash of black liquid, their books returning to their stands on their own. They both looked tired.

But they also looked as if they had had a good time.

"Nice hat ya got there, Rainbow,” complimented Applejack, admiring the brass helm with the metal frill on top. “Where'd ya get it?”

“In the tower I found myself in when I used that book,” answered Rainbow, her magenta eyes flashing with excitement through the eye holes of the face imprinted on the helmet, “It was awesome, the whole place was filled with traps and treasures.”

“I take it you enjoyed yourself?” asked Applejack as they sat down to wait for the others.

“Hay ya!” answered Rainbow, barely restrained excitement in her voice, “I hate to admit it, but I saw things in that old building I explored that looked even more dangerous than what is described in the Daring Do books.”

“That so?” Asked Applejack, arching her eye. “What exactly did you bump into?”

“Robots!” answered Rainbow excitedly.

“Your joking!” said Applejack, stunned.

“Totally true,” assured Rainbow, “First, I ran into these big metal balls that transformed into these weird creatures with weapons for arms, then I ran into these metal spiders that shot lightning from their legs.”

Applejack listened with wrapped attention as Rainbow continued.

“But the best part was the big one,” said Rainbow, smiling under her helmet as she remembered her encounter with the largest robot she had seen in that bizarre place.

---

Rainbow watched as several pipes connecting the large bipedal monster to a huge arch disengaged. It stared at her for a moment before it lifted its arms in a combative stance, one arm tipped with a hammer, the other tipped in a retractable axe that then jutted out of its covering.

" You think I'm scared of you?" Asked Rainbow Dash, taking to the air just in time to dodge the hammer arm that struck the ground where she had been mere moments ago. " I have fought scarier things than you."

Rainbow dodged to the left as the axe came down for her, breaking through the one of the many pipes that crisscrossed the large room and producing a blast of steam. The sudden rise in temperature made Rainbow sweat suddenly, her eyes blurring as some of her own sweat pouring over her lids. She had no choice but to blink.

And a hammer arm slammed into her before she could open them again.

The Dwemer Centurion bore down on the downed pegasus as she fell to the ground, panting as she rubbed her sore stomach. It raised its hammer over its quarry, not hesitating in the slightest to finish its task. It would only take a second.

A second Rainbow wasn't about to let it have.

She bolted through the Centurion's legs as fast as possible, the impact of the hammer felt just millimeters from her tail. Before it could realize what had happened, Rainbow speed towards the bronze monster's exposed back, meeting it with all her strength as she impacted pure metal skin. Her velocity was enough to send the things sprawling onto its chest with a crunch.

" Ha," said Rainbow as she did a little victory dance in the air over her fallen opponent. "That'll teach you to mess with the fastest pegasus in..."

Rainbow barely had enough time to see the hammer coming from her left, her wing skimming the flat surface of the head. But she landed in line with the Centurion's head which then lifted up to reveal the blank face as it spewed hot steam from the mouth. Rainbow Dash felt sweat form on her body again as she tried to avoid the scalding hot air, but found herself backed up against the wall...

The axe arm of the Centurion pinning her helplessly to it.

Rainbow could only stare as the expressionless face stared at her, and for a moment she contemplated getting out her book so she could retreat. But then she noticed that a section of the mechanical monster's chest was badly cracked. It must have happened when she toppled it with her body slam.

It was glowing within.

Instinctively, Rainbow push as much of her upper body out from under the arm as she could and plunged her hoof into the damaged breast plate. She felt something warm within and with as much strength as she could muster, pulled on the object. Her hoof tingled as the object she struggled with vibrated like the heart of a living being.

It popped free.

Rainbow felt the arm pinning her to the wall go limp, dropping to the floor with the rest of the Dwemer Centurion as it let out one last hiss of steam before all was silent. After watching the unmoving machine for a couple of more seconds Rainbow brought her attention to the item she had pulled from its chest. It was a brass orb with glowing red circles, rotating within a frame work of brass rings.

Smirking, Rainbow tossed the orb onto the machine with a clatter and laughed.

" That will teach you to mess with me, slow poke."

---

" I found this helmet in a chest afterwards," said Rainbow, a blissful smile under her helmet.

" Gotta hand it to ya, you give a whole new meaning to the fraise daredevil, Rainbow," said Applejack, shaking her head with a small smile.

" So what about you, Applejack?" Asked Rainbow, giving her friend an expecting look. " What kind of adventure did you have?"

" Oh, I wasn't sent to some crazy dangerous ruins," explained Applejack, " I found a very interesting store of beverages though."

Rainbow gave an arched eye.

" I'm a simple girl with simple interests," said Appleejack with a look. "Besides, I did enjoy myself."

" Drinking fruit juice?" Inquired Rainbow.

" Oh no, Rainbow, these drinks...," Applejack wiggled her eyebrows, "where the special kind.

Rainbow grew an excited expression.

" Well Applejack, this is unexpected," said Rainbow, "You usually aren't easy to impress when it comes to drinks of a certain caliber."

" And don't you forget it," said Applejack, taking off her hat and pulling a brown jug from it. "Want some?"

" Sure," said Rainbow, taking the jug in her hoof and using the other to lift her helmet up enough to expose her lips.

"Just don't drink to much," warned Applejack, watching Rainbow carefully. "It's quite strong."

" Hey, who comes second only to you buring the Ponyville hard cider contest?" replied Rainbow smugly, taking a slight gulp from the jug.

Applejack had to catch it when Rainbow dropped it.

Rainbow was experiencing a sensation like no other, her helmet sliding back over her head. Her taste buds danced as the alcoholic taste traveled to her stomach, fresh energy pouring into her muscles as her body absorbed the liquid. The taste was unlike anything she had sampled before, a slight pinching sensation a fresh reminder of the alcoholic nature of the drink.

All of it revitalized with the taste of apples.

" Wow," whispered Rainbow, looking at Applejack with a wispy smile. "What is that?"

" The label says it is called Sujamma," explained Applejack, " I have never seen anything like it, so I am guessing it's from that other world."

" It's incredible," said Rainbow, "And the under taste of apples made it perfect."

" That was actually my own add in," said Applejack proudly.

" You added the apples?" Asked Rainbow.

" And I got to say, it's kept me busy," said Applejack, looking at her jug proudly. "I have never seen a drink more challenging to mix with apple cider. I must have mixed over a dozen batches before I got the right amount of each mixed in the proper proportions."

"Where did you get the cider?" Asked Rainbow curiously. " Does this place have its own supply?"

" Sorta," said Applejack, chuckling slightly. "Hermaeus stole the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 and has it stored here."

Both Applejack and Rainbow looked at each other for a moment, then burst into fits of laughter.

Stopping when they noticed a third voice.

" I know it's not polite to laugh at somepony’s getting robbed," said Pinkie, "But it's just so amusing to learn that the trouble twins have lost their prized machine."

Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked at Pinkie Pie with gasps of shock. She must have returned sometime during their exchange of their experiences and she had come back with souvenirs too. A giant pyramid of styrofoam food carrier's stood perfectly balanced on her back.

"Pinkie?" Inquired Applejack, surprised still at the sight. "What is all that?"

" Oh, after I used my book, I found my way to an old style kitchen," explained Pinkie, walking up to them without dropping a single food carrier, " I also found a cook book by this guy called the Gourmet, and I have to admit, he really gave me a run for my bits."

" So you spent all this time baking?" Inquired Rainbow.

" Yes indeedy," said Pinkie.

" That's Pinkie," said Applejack, shaking her head.

" Oh, but it was baking like I have never baked before," said Pinkie, looking at her store of food on her back. "All of these were made the old fashioned way."

" What do you mean?" Asked Applejack, intrigued.

" I used a cauldron and a cooking spit over cooking fire. No ovens at all," said Pinkie with a grin.

" Really?" Inquired Applejack with interest. "Maybe I could come with you next time, I have always wanted to try baking the way Granny..."

They were interrupted by a curtain of black liquid that sprung up near the book stands, the final book appearing among its fellows. Unlike when they returned, a bright light swept the room, all present covering their eyes to block against the binding glare, Rarity and Spike stepping forward, returning from their own exploration. Only Rarity was not unclothed anymore.

And Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie could only stare in awe at her new outfit.

She wore a flamboyant dress done out in extravagant color. The skirt was a powder blue color with the hemline decorated in gold thread, small blue stones that gave off a slight blue glow inlaid with the thread. The bodice was a slight darker blue with the sleeves going down her forelegs ending in opalescent cuffs inlaid with small dark sapphires. Gold shoulder pads decorated Rarity's shoulders, each one fitted with a sizable glowing white crystal, elegantly pointed at both ends.

Her collar met in a magnificent gold broach, a small black orb glowing a slight red housed in the center.

But her glistening golden headpiece was what really drew their attention. It was ornate with several patterns depicting flames, gold extensions framing her face in carved fire that almost looked alive, her forehead and the bridge of her nose also decorated with a similar extension. From the top of the head piece two prongs extended in opposite directions, carved into the shape of bird wings.

" Wow, Rarity," gasped Rainbow Dash, the others still speechless. " When did you pack that?"

"Pack it?," inquired Rarity, her eyes swimming with delight as she struck a pose. "This girls is my most stunning achievement as of a few hours ago."

" I take it you made that... wherever your book sent you?" Asked Applejack, shaking her head slightly.

" That's an understatement," said Rarity, walking up to them with Spike following, trying really hard not to drool at the luminous gems decorating Rarity. "The quality of the gems and fabric I found are unlike anything I have ever seen."

" Really?" Inquired Rainbow Dash sarcastically. "Miss prissy pants is actually impressed? What was it you said 'this place is positively dreadful'."

She said the last part with an overly high pitch voice.

" Rainbow, darling," gasped Rarity as she saw what her pegasus friend was wearing. "Where on earth did you get that ghastly helmet?"

" Hey, I went through a lot to get this," said Rainbow, tapping her Dwemer helm with pride.

From there, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and Pinkie shared their own experiences with Rarity and Spike, Applejack passing her jug for the others to sample.

"This is simply divine," said Rarity, levitating over the brown jug back to Applejack, smacking her lips. "I have tasted the most extravagant wines in all of Canterlot, but none could compete with this."

"I don't know how you adults stand it," said Spike, unpinching his nose as the jug was corked.

" How about you, Spike?" Asked Pinkie taking the jug from Applejack and offering it to the little dragon.

Spike only gave her a cross clawed glare.

" Come on, no one would know," tempted Rainbow Dash.

" I would rather not," said Spike, "I'm underage for one and I have seen what stuff like that does to people."

" You have?" Asked Applejack, slightly worried.

" One time, years ago, me and Twilight were awoken in the dead of night by somepony screaming 'LOOK AT ME, I'M A PUFFY PINK CLOUD'," explained Spike, trembling slightly at the memory. "When we looked outside, we saw Prince Blue Blood running around in circles on our front lawn covered in cotton candy and being chased by multiple dogs owned by the local neighborhood. When the guards dragged him off, they told us he had just been dipping into the wine again."

All was silent.

Then Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie fell over, overcome with laughter. Rarity was laughing too, but stayed standing to keep her new dress off the floor. Rainbow began pounding the floor with her hooves, her hysterics only increasing as she fought to keep the image in her mind at bay.

" That obnoxious brat, such behavior," said Rarity, wiping her tearing eyes with a handkerchief. "He acted so classy, yet he indulges in such antics?"

" I know," said Rainbow, looking up from on her back. "Even me and Applejack don't act like that on the off occasion we decide to get drunk."

" Hey, even Pinkie Pie would be hard pressed to do something so goofy," said Applejack, her hat bouncing with her laugh.

" Me and Twilight didn't think it was funny," grumble Spike with lidded eyes.

" Oh, but just think about it, Spike," said Pinkie, fighting to talk through her laughter. "A pony prince running around in a cotton candy suit. Hey, why didn't I ever think of that, that would be a great gag for a birthday party, or even a fair. Though I would need to find a color other than pink, you wouldn't be able to tell when Pinkie Pie ended and the cotton candy start..."

"Sssssshhhhhh!"

The shush was quiet yet demanding all at once, and everyone looked up to see Fluttershy hovering above. Her soft features were twisted in a scowl of disapproval, her crossed forelegs adding to her demeanor. Even Pinkie was silenced by the look in her eyes.

Slowly, she fluttered down to stand before them.

" Keep it down," she quietly demanded with a scowl. "Twilight is sleeping."

" Is she alright, darling?" Asked Rarity, her and the others growing a concerned look.

" I think she just overwhelmed herself," said Fluttershy, her face softening when they started whispering.

" Thought so," said Spike with a shake of his head, everypony looking at him. " When you have lived with her as long as I have you recognize the signs."

" Why didn't you tell us?" Asked Applejack, slightly worried.

" Wouldn't have mattered," explained Spike, shaking his head again. "When Twilight has her mind set on something, she will usually keep at it until her batteries run out. I have learned it's best just to let her fall asleep at some point, then make her comfortable."

" Wow," said Rainbow, facehoofing. "Kinda dramatic for studying."

Afterwards, the girls retired to the resting room where Twilight did the brief(according to her) explanation of what it was Hermaeus Mora wanted from her. From here they shared with Fluttershy each of their experiences in Apocrypha, and Rarity explained the strange texture of the fabric she had discovered. Though Fluttershy scolded Rainbow for picking a fight with innocent robots, and told them all how wrong it is to encourage youth to drink.

Though she cheered up when they asked her what she had done while they went exploring.

" I learned so much about the animals on Nirn," said Fluttershy, holding up the book she had been studying. " Like the Bull and Betty Netchs. Huge creatures that float in the air like balloons, but are docile. Completely gentle despite their great size."

"Hey, I just realized something," said Pinkie, setting her food containers in the corner of the room. "We all have discovered things from this 'Nirn' place that sound super fun."

" I'll say," said Spike, taking a white stone from his pocket and eating it.

" What you getting at, Pinks?" Inquired Rainbow with an expecting look.

Pinkie jumped up and down, an excited expression on her face.

" Do you think if we ask really nice, Hermmy will let us visit his home?" Asked Pinkie as she sat next to Fluttershy.

" Hey, that's not a bad idea," said Rarity, nuzzling the sleeve of her dress. "I would absolutely love to meet whoever made this fabric. We could exchange ideas."

" I would love to see where those delicious gemstones come from," said Spike, trembling as he looked Rarity's dress over.

"And I would like to meet the guy who wrote that cook book," said Pinkie excitedly as she delved into her own fantasy. “Hello Mr. Gourmet, I'm Pinkie Pie, a fellow baker."

" And I would like to meet whoever built that temple," said Rainbow, her wings twitching as she recalled all she had experienced in that final chamber. " If I ask, do you think they would be up to building me my own temple filled with high tech booby traps in Equestria?"

" I highly doubt something like that would be in your budget, Rainbow," said Applejack sarcastically. "Though I wouldn't mind meeting with the fellows who made that drink. I bet if we put our heads together, we could make something that would make an Alicorn tipsy."

They all spent a bit of time speculating how nice it would be to visit Nirn themselves, having found interesting things here in Apocrypha that relate to that other world. They even talked about how Equestria should open trade route there, for it would be beneficial to all. The possibilities in discovering another world where endless.

" Yyaawwn."

The soft yawn brought all their attention as Twilight entered the room, looking at them in surprise at first, but smiling softly afterwards.

" Hey girls," yawned Twilight as she approached them. " I had...almost forgotten you...were here."

" Twilight, darling," said Rarity, slightly worried. "Did we wake you up?"

"No worries, girls," said Twilight, waking up a little bit as her stomach rumbled. "My fault for not eating in awhile, and something in here smells delicious."

" No no no no, that won't do," said Pinkie with a scolding voice, going over to her mountain of food then shoving a sweet roll into Twilight's hoof, which was exactly what she was smelling, much to Twilight's surprise. "You need to keep up your strength, Twilight. Not stopping your super important studying to at least to eat will do nopony any good."

" And if that is the case, it's more than a good thing we decided to join you here," said Applejack, the rest nodding in agreement.

" Yes, a proper lady must take care of herself," said Rarity in a posh voice.

" Thank you, girls," said Twilight, looking at all of them with gratitude. "Did you find anything interesting in Apocrypha?"

"Oh yes, darling," said Rarity, looking to her dress with admiration again.

" You were right," said Rainbow, her helmet still on her head. "That ruin was awsome."

" I thought you would enjoy the Dwemer division," stated Twilight simply to Rainbow, sliding the sweetrole into her mouth and began chewing.

" Dwemer huh, that was who bilt the temple?" Inquired Rainbow as she slipped off and looking at it as Twilight nodded an answer. "I wonder if they will be impressed with my sonic rainboom?"

"Oh, I can't wait to get to Nirn myself and meet the unique individuals who made the supplies I made this dress from," continued Rarity, still mesmerized by her outfit.

Suddenly, the room was filled with the sound of somepony choking. They all turned to see Twilight coughing on the floor, her face turning slightly blue. As one would expect, they reacted like any good friends should.

They freaked the tartarus the out.

" TWILIGHT!" They all shouted, all of them by her side in a matter of seconds.

"What happened?" asked Rainbow, reaching out to support her coughing friend.

Without a word, Fluttershy gripped Twilight around her middle from behind and squeezed. Twilight heaved, and her partially chewed sweet roll expelled from her mouth, much to their disgust. But Twilight finally began to breathe normally once again.

" Twilight, what happened?" Asked Applejack, looking at her studious friend as she caught her breath in concern.

"I'm okay," said Twilight, clearing her throat as she brought her attention to Rarity. "Did you just say you want to visit Nirn?"

" Well...yes dear," answered Rarity, looking at Twilight worriedly.

" We all wouldn't mind visiting that new world," said Pinkie Pie energetically. "I would not mind trying more of those recipes."

" I would love to meet some of those adorable animals," said Fluttershy, looking to her book she as she picked it up off the floor.

"And it pains me to admit, but some of the heavy drinks from that world go great mixed with apple cider," said Applejack, both irritated and enthralled.

"And I would not mind tasting more of those gems," said Spike, placing a claw between his vision and the gemstones on Rarity's dress to try and reel in his temptation.

" And I wouldn't mind meeting some of these Dwemer dude's," said Rainbow, " Anyone who could build booby traps so dangerous are okay with me."

Twilight had a look of pure panic on her face. She had not counted on her friends actually adopting the idea of visiting Nirn itself physically. Just like she never would have thought they would drop everything just to keep her company here.

She swept through multiple excuses she could throw at them at a mile a minute, but all felt half-hearted and forced. She wanted to divert them from this course anyway possible. Any way other than telling them the true reason why they, why all of Equestria should avoid contact with Nirn by any means possible.

"Girls...sure it would be exciting to see Nirn..." began Twilight, an all to force smile on her face. "But would it really be worth it? I mean, the travel miles would be horrible."

The others gave each other an unconvinced look.

" Fifteen years studying under a monster made of eye balls and tentacles," began Rainbow Dash, shaking her head at Twilight's pathetic excuse. "And she still can't tell a decent lie."

"Twilight, Sugarcube," said Applejack, placing her hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "If something is bothering you, just tell us."

"We're your friends, Twilight," said Fluttershy reassuringly, "If you need to tell us something, please, just tell us."

"Is there something about Nirn you need to tell us?" Asked Rarity.

"You did get all freaky deaky when we mentioned we had an interest in visiting Nirn," said Pinkie, getting up into Twilight's face and looking he in the eyes, "Is there something super dangerous there?"

Twilight pushed Pinkie away with her magic with a sigh of resignation. They were right, if she knew something they should know about, she had to tell them. She had dreaded it the moment she learned the information herself, but maybe it was for the best, and maybe they could help her protect Equestria.

"Girls, Spike, thank you," she said, giving a grateful smile as they all watched her expectedly. "And your right, I have a reason to be against us... in fact, I am against Equestria as a whole, having any encounter with Nirn."

They all gave her a puzzled look.

"Why is that, darling?" Asked Rarity, concerned. "I can understand you being against us going there by ourselves, something about that place has obviously scared you. But why all of Equestria?"

"Ya Twi," said Applejack, arching her eye. "The magic you used to protect Equestria came from Nirn. And not only that but if we could set up a trade agreement with the local folks there, it could be beneficial for both worlds."

"Nothing of benefit would be worth linking Equestria to Nirn," said Twilight, shaking slightly with fear. "Not with the risk involved."

"And what risk is that, Twilight?" Asked Spike as he tried to calm down the pony who had raised him by putting a claw on her withers.

"Girls..." Started Twilight, her fear trying to silence her voice...to protect her friends from a truth she would forever hate herself for revealing to them. But they had a right to know...to be prepared. "We cannot let the other Daedric Princes learn about Equestria!"

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