• Published 30th Jan 2019
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Knowledge is Power - hydra30

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3 Apocrypha

Slowly, consciousness returned to Twilight's mind, becoming aware of her face down position on the cold, hard floor that felt like stone. She lifted her chin up as best she could, her mind so groggy it took great effort to open her eyes. Her vision was blurred at first, but it slowly return to its normal clarity.

The first thing she noticed was that the floor she lay on was grey in color, the stone tile decorated with multiple intertwining black circular patterns. Catching a glimpse of something moving to her left, Twilight lifted her head a little more and turned to get a better look, gasping in shock and terror as her mind registered what was there. Slowly, she stood, her legs wobbly in her stride.

There before her, the floor she stood upon dropped off in a steep incline, a whole sea of gelatinous black fluid that stretched all the way to blend with the poisonous yellowish green sky, which churned and wiggled with arcs of light of the same color. The movement that had caught Twilight's attention a second ago was a twirling mass of black tendrils that reached down towards the churning black sea from a swirling black vortex that hung in the unusual sky.

The whole scene before her sparked her memories of what had happened to her in the caves beneath Canterlot. The sky, it was the same color as that sphere of light Hermaeus Mora talked to her through. The sea, ink, it could only be ink.

Then the black tendrils sparked the memory of how she obviously got here, of how after she had opened that book, a black tendril shot out of the pool of ink and dragged her into its impossible depths.

Reaching up, Twilight felt the base of her horn, the metal band of her family exactly where the tendril that sent her here had put it.

Slowly, she turned her head to look over her shoulder. She gasped, and spun around quickly, her eyes glazed over in surprise and terror. She saw she was on some kind of rounding island that jutted out of the huge sea of ink, huge stone arches positioned in four spots on all sides. But what really drew her attention was the spiralling vortex of paper that stood in the centre, crackling as they collided, but never being thrown from their place in the spiralling.

Reaching out a hoof, Twilight snatched one of the papers as it came by and held it before her eyes. The parchment was yellow with age, and adorned with the same illegible runes that she had seen in the pages of that mysterious black book. Twilight released the paper, watching as it returned to the vortex among the others.

Then Twilight saw what was on the other side of the vortex, walking around to see the horizon beyond. More portals extruding tendrils dotted the sky, several other land masses beneath them. Unlike the one that Twilight stood on, these were several times larger, great stone structures resting on their surfaces.

"Welcome.....to my abode....child...."

With a start, Twilight looked up, gasping as five black whirlpools the size of her head appeared several feet above her, a sixth one at least eight times bigger formed between them. Several black tendrils reached out of these too, wiggling and thrashing in the air, the sight making disgust mix slightly with Twilight's shock. Never had she seen anything so revolting.

Until a great bulb of black goo rose out of the centre mass of tentacles from the largest portal, splitting open to reveal a large, poison green eye, looking at Twilight with two black pupils bridged to each other by a mass of black.

"What's the matter, Twilight? " Hermaeus Mora asked, amusement in his wet, thick tone. "Do you not believe what you are seeing with your own eyes?"

"Her....Hermaeus Mora?" Whisper Twilight, eyes locked to what lay just before her. "I....is this what you really look like?"

"Corporal form...has little meaning to a Daedric Prince," explained Hermaeus Mora. "However, since knowledge and memory can take many forms, I feel it is appropriate for the same to apply to me."

Deep in Twilight's shocked mind, she could see sense in that. He claimed to be the master of knowledge and memory, and it made sense that a being the likes of which he claimed to be would take on similar traits, same as Discord. She brought her attention to the view before her, still trying to wrap her head around the bizarre appearance of this place.

"Where are we?" Twilight asked quietly.

"This is my plane of Oblivion," explained Hermaeus Mora, his voice taking on a slightly smug tone. "This....is ....Apocrypha, where all knowledge is hoarded."

"Library?" Inquired Twilight, memories of her very first encounter with Hermaeus Mora resurfacing "This....this nightmare is your library? "

"If the knowledge is valuable, should the nature of its origins matter all that much?" asked the mass of tentacles above. "And have you not learned the lesson to not judge a book by its cover multiple times in your life?

That was true, but this situation was a tad different.

And speaking of situations, "Why am I here?" Twilight shook off her feelings of her current location and her current host, forcing herself to remember what had transpired back in Canterlot. To remember who her brother was marrying.

"You said you would help me with what is happening to me, to my family," Twilight's anger was beginning to override her shock and flabbergasted state at what was currently happening to her. "You said you would help me stop my brother from marrying that horrible pony."

"I told you the situation was more dire then you realize," said Hermaeus Mora, still unfazed by Twilight's harsh tone. "More is at stake than just your brother."

"Ugh, we don't have time for this," growled Twilght in frustration. "If that is so, why have you brought me here, why not send me to Canterlot, where I may confront Cadance once and for all?"

"Because without my help, you wouldn't stand a chance," explained Hermaeus Mora to Twilight. "The one you call Cadance is far more dangerous than you know."

"And how do you intend to do this?" asked Twilight angrily. "You have yet to explain to me what you can do which will be of any assistance to me."

"I intend to bestow upon you the knowledge with which you can use to combat your enemy," explained Hermaeus Mora casually. "Within Apocrypha, there is many stores of knowledge, many of which could be used to combat even the mightiest of foes."

"So we are again on the fact that you intend to take me as your student?" Raged Twilight, stomping her hoof in her mounting frustration. "Even if I was still interested in that as I was in the past, I don't have time to just sit here and study books until you think I am ready, you gelatinous blob."

The insult flew from her lips before she could stop it, and her hooves flew to cover her mouth in horror at what she had spoken.

"Hmmm...hmm...hm," chuckled Hermaeus Mora, no anger or annoyance in his cold voice. "Time...time is the one thing you don't have to concern yourself over at the moment...child."

"What do you mean?" asked Twilight, slightly surprised that Hermaeus ws not angered by her gibe a moment ago. "Shining Armour's wedding could be starting any moment."

"Any moment in your realm," replied Hermaeus Mora. "Apocrypha is my domain, and therefore every aspect of it is subject to my will, including the flowing of time."

"Wh..what do you mean? "Asked Twilight once again.

Rather then getting a response, Twilight heard the distinct sound of book page's turning rapidly. Looking down, she gasped at seeing the very book that had sent her here to begin with. But before she could comprehend anything else, another black tendril sprang up from the ground and dragged her into darkness.
----
Twilight ignited her horn to illuminate her surroundings, her eyes once again seeing the caves, the now empty book stand before her. Her first thought was to escape this place while she could, before her mind fully comprehended what her eyes were seeing. The pool of ink bellow was completely still, stark contrast to the churning mass it was before.

To make it even more strange, was the huge, frozen splash that disturbed its surface.

But once again, before she could ponder more, the sound of rattling pages reached her ears, and she was once again dragged into darkness by a black tendril.
----

Twilight's eyes flew open for a third time, once again viewing the stange landscape of the Apocrypha, Hermaeus Mora's grotesque form above her.

"Wha... what have you...?" Twilight stammered, putting a hoof to her chest to try and calm her hyperventilating.

"As I have said before, even the flow of time of Apocrypha is subject to my will," explained Hermaeus Mora. "In this case, I have made it so no matter how much time goes on here, the splash of ink you left will not have had time to even settle in your world. "

Panic took hold in Twilight as she began backing up, her eyes wide. It was hard enough for a unicorn of great calibre to even travel back through time, and the creature before just stopped her world's time flow with seemingly little effort. What kind of horrible monster had she just become associated with?

But that revelation brought a new thought to Twilight's mind. If Hermaeus Mora could do that, then what else was he capable of? He had said he intended to help her, by giving her the knowledge she could use to stop Cadance and her plans for her brother, and for even Equestria, if what Hermaeus Mora a said earlier was true.

"Can you teach me how to do that,?" Asked Twilight as she moved directly under the mass of tentacles above her, an eager smile gracing her face for the first time since being sent under Canterlot.

"There is much I can teach you, child," answered Hermaeus Mora. "Skills and techniques even greater than what I have displayed thus far."

Twilight's face split into a massive grin, her mood becoming eager and excited. And it wasn't just the fact that she had what she would need to confront Cadance, but now that she knew she could spend as much time here without the situation in Equestria getting worse, her studious personality now had a reason to come up past the seriousness, and she once again felt her desire for knowledge that she had always had bubble to the surface. It felt so good after all the heartache she had gone through just that morning.

"Alright Hermaeus Mora," said Twilight, stamping her hoof. "I'm ready, ready to start my studying, so I can defend the ones I love from evil."

"And for that you will need more then the study of a mere student...you will also become my champion."

"Champion?" Twilight asked, tilting her head in confusion.

"For you to face the trials ahead you will need a certain type of knowledge," explained Hermaeus Mora. "Knowledge that I only bestow upon those I have chosen to be my champion."

"Very well," said Twilight, too eager to get started to question the champion thing. "Where do you want me to start?"

"The truth is where we shall begin," stated Hermaeus Mora simply, Twilight backing up in surprise as large objects rose up from the black sea.

To Twilight, they appeared to be large, flower shaped structures made from what appeared to be intertwining wrought iron. Then before her eyes, each structure bloomed like a flower, the two petals on their near and far sides intertwining together. When all was still, Twilight could see that they all formed a ramp like bridge to the nearest islands imposing cliffs, a huge structure resting upon it.

"Follow this path, then make your way to the top of the structure, there you will learn the true reality of the situation you face."

Twilight looked up just in time to see Hermaeus Mora's tendrils recede back into the portals, which then faded. She brought her attention to the long journey ahead, admiring what was before her. It would be a daunting task, but after spending so much time with ponies like Rainbow Dash and Applejack, Twilight had learned to never back down from a challenge.

Eager to start what promised to be the most unique study session of her life, Twilight sprinted down the bizarre path, the sea of ink churning menacingly under it.

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