• Published 29th Sep 2019
  • 1,566 Views, 51 Comments

A Filly Lost For One Thousand Years - dicerollball



Cozy Glow had decided to run away to the far off arctic lands that housed the Crystal Empire. Doing this was a dire mistake that'd last for thousands of years.

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Chapter 7: Our Own Demise

Cozy Glow panted as she clambered up several more steps, giving her wings time to rest. She's been running up this thing for Celestia or Luna knows how long and it's driving her insane! She can fly over the traps easily but she couldn't just keep going like this. She had to find something soon before she ran out of time. Tidal Swirl could probably hold her own for a good bit but Cozy tried not to rely on it. In fact she was mostly relying on Rubinstein being able to gather what he needed to create an even bigger distraction.

When her thoughts went back to Tidal Swirl her steps began to slow. She'd be okay, right? She'd make it out of it somehow, wouldn't she? There was always a possibility. Even a small one...

...

Doubt clouded her mind as she continued her climb. What was she thinking? Tidal Swirl wasn't going to be alive after a fight like that. Even if she did somehow survive, her body would be broken and mangled. Cozy saw how damaged she had appeared taking in all of that dark magic.

The mental image itself made Cozy sick to her stomach. It just didn't feel fair. Somepony like Sombra was able to use dark magic easily and what does he do with it? He takes over an Empire and enslaves the subjects! Meanwhile Tidal Swirl clearly struggled and she intended to use it to get rid of that annoying pesk of a tryant! Why did magic have to work that way?? She hated that. She hated the unfair advantages and disadvantages of magic. If it weren't for that ridiculous amount of power, everypony would've stood a chance against him but no! He just had to become a one pony army powerhouse!

She swallowed the burning bile rising in her throat and spread her wings. With a few more hops over the laid out traps she continued on in angered frustration.

"Why does he get magic like that and I don't?" She growled, "Why did I have to be born with WINGS? Small ones?! If I was a unicorn... I would be out there, not Tidal Swirl. Instead I'm climbing a POSSIBLY INFINITE STAIRCASE to WHO KNOWS WHERE?! UGH!"

She came to a stop and faceplanted into the next step, "It can't be that far now. It just can't. If I had bigger wings I'd probably be able to just fly all the way to the top... Even then I'd get so TIRED!" She pulled herself up and yelled at nothing, "CURSE THEE SOMBRA! CURSE YOU AND YOUR DARK MAGIC AND YOUR STUPID UGLY FACE! YOU DESERVE TO BE LOCKED AWAY IN THE FARTHEST REACHEST OF TARTARUS! WHEN I BECOME EMPRESS YOU'LL BE MY SERVANT! THEN YOU'LL KNOW HOW IT FELT BEING SO LOW!"

Her voice echoed throughout the crystal empire but she didn't care. She just angrily stomped her hoof down and let out a shaky breath. Her bubbling irritation from earlier had gradually melted away after she had screamed into the heavens as she did. The next thing that came after was exhaustion. With a sigh, Cozy sat down and allowed herself to breath. The fate of the Empire was now in her hooves and yet... she was tired. Riddle with fatigue, Cozy wanted nothing more but to just stop and rest. She wanted to sleep and never wake up.

The filly let out a choked noise and covered her face with her hooves. She just had to climb a bunch of steps. That was it. Then she would get the Heart and she would become a hero! That's what she wanted, right? It was a straightforward plan, wasn't it?

Except it wasn't.

This plan wasn't perfect. This plan could be catastrophic. She could be caught at any time. Even more so with how much noise she had just made. She could be found at the Heart. She could be face to face with King Sombra at any moment.

Then what?

What would she do then?

...

She was just a pegasus. A cute little filly. Could she ever dream of holding her own against a being so powerful? A tyrant that could kill her if he so pleased?

She sat back against the pillar behind her and let out another sigh. For a moment, just for one minute, she allowed her mind to process everything. Everypony she has met. Everything she has seen. Every place she has been. Why? All for a cutiemark? All for destiny? All for fate..?

All to just prove a point?

Cozy believed she could be something more. An Empress was something more. That was her destiny, wasn't it? Her true future? The one the Crystal Heart decided?

...

Cozy grunted and pulled herself back on her hooves. Whatever her future, the only way to find out was to keep going. So she did. She continued her trek to the top of the staircase. There, as she was told, she would find The Crystal Heart.


The laughter of fillies and colts hit Luna's ears as she watched from under a crystal tree. She smiled as memory played out before her of a schoolyard playground within The Crystal Empire. The time for this memory was supposed to be day, but both her and the one who owned this memory found it fitting to make it night. The lilac sky sat just above with sparkling stars looking down at the young students below. It just felt more welcoming to the both of them and so they agreed upon it.

Theses memories, of course, belong to none other than Tidal Swirl. A crystal unicorn from the Empire that has physically passed. Luna had never taken in memories and harbored them in her own mindscape before, so it was a new experience entirely, for both of them. It was like Tidal Swirl was now a part of Luna, but still separate. So the two decided to go through memories together. To try and see if they could better form some type of link that could help with this confusing and disorienting dilemma. The goal wasn't exactly to become one entity however, it was to better feel like what they were now. We. They were a... we. At least that's all they could call themselves now.
Tidal Swirl, at the time, found it hilarious that the way the royals usually addressed themselves as "We" became a way for Luna and her to figure out their own new identity. It was fitting, and appropriate.

"That's Curly." Tidal Swirl, the mare besides her, pointed at a small white crystal unicorn running by, "She was my best friend. Heh, she always loved playing Princess back then. We grew up together and even joined the Council at the same time before I became head of it."

"What magic did she specialize in?"

"Mostly mobility and transportation. Teleportation and all that." Tidal Swirl hummed before turning to a younger purple colt, "I think that one is... Rubinstein. Former head strategist in the Empire army. Think he retired, or liked to, buuuut he still takes the time to assist whenever need be."

"Oh! Wasn't that the same stallion from your more recent memory?"

"... Was it?" Tidal Swirl muttered before the memory suddenly shifted. The playground gradually transformed before the two. Dark crystals formed in the area, unbeknownst to the foals still cantering about, and the sky became a muddled greyish yellow. The two viewing the memories stood and were transported within the castle throne room, where Tidal Swirl looked on at a stallion and a young pegasus filly while in her sickly state. The memory then paused, making all figures in the room freeze where they were. Silence filled what would've been a more chaotic scene.

The two observers went up to the stallion and curiously examined his dull face. Tidal Swirl's memory of the stallion was a bit muted and deformed, since the interaction was quick, but she did remember the colors at least.

"He appears to be similar." Luna speculated.

"Right..." Tidal Swirl sat on her haunches and looked between Cozy Glow and Rubinstein. The last two she saw, sending them both on their way to the Crystal Heart before the final battle. Her eyes narrowed, and Luna knew why. They both shared the same thoughts after all.

"Do you think they were able to retrieve the Heart?" Luna asked as she joined the mare's side.

"They should have... The dark magic guided me to where it was. I saw the secrets within the Empire the moment I absorbed all of it... Shouldn't they have gotten it by now?"

"Possibly."

The two went silent as the memory itself.

Tidal Swirl sighed in concern, "Then why are we still out here in our sector by the Empire territory? Wouldn't we have noticed a change? Wouldn't the sky become clear, and the storms settle? Wouldn't all of Equestria see our victory?"

Luna's eyes widened, "That is... a concerning thought."

"It is our concerning thought."

The princess sighed, "... How long have we been unconscious for?"


Cozy Glow tiredly pushed herself up the last set of steps. She heaved and wheezed out a heavy breath as she finally looked down at something that wasn't a STAIR. Instead it was a floor. A floor to some platform at the very tippy top of this tower she was in.

"Oh look, it's not infinite. Good to know." Cozy let out a shaky laugh before pressing her forehead against the cold, welcomed surface. She then tilted her head and looked over at the soft blue glow that had caught her attention. The reflection of something... something of importance.

Begrudgingly, Cozy raised her head and found herself face-to-face with an old friend.

The Crystal Heart.

She gasped and scrambled onto her hooves. The entire time, her eyes were glued to it. She found it! She couldn't believe she actually found it! The one thing that could save everypony. Save the Empire! It was floating right there, protecting all of them from the cold harsh storms of the north. Checkmate and the other servants were correct. Sombra needed this here.

Cozy carefully approached the heart. The love and joy that radiated from it made her heart soar with hope. Her slow steps became faster and her smile grew as she saw her own reflection.

Then, she stepped too close. An alarm was triggered and she looked down to spot the floor beneath her flickering between black and light blue colors. The area around the heart had been set up to alert King Sombra. At the noise she was quickly reminded of the crystals that had trapped her hooves in a vice-like grip, so she quickly dived away and watched as black jagged crystals suddenly sprang up and surrounded the heart like protective claws.

"NO!" Cozy cried out from the floor and hurriedly flew over. She hovered around the walls and actually managed to squeeze through some openings in order to get to the Heart. However getting it out was a different story. She grabbed onto it and pushed and pulled in an attempt to tug it out of the dark trap. It was too big. It couldn't fit! Cozy struggled with it before finally letting go. She hovered just outside of the trap and watched as more black crystals began to stow away the Heart.

There was no way to get it out of there. She could stay with it, but she could risk getting stuck as well. The crystals continued to grow and patch away the small openings that Cozy was able to squeeze through earlier. There was no saving the Heart now. There was no saving the Empire...

She failed.

"So." A new voice appeared behind her, "This was her plan?"

Cozy gasped and whirled around to find Sombra forming onto the platform. The filly did not hesitate. She turned and flew out of the tower, attempting to get away.

"And where do you think you're going?"

The chase was on. Cozy tried to escape but crystal pillars would suddenly start appearing and clawing out towards her from the tower itself. She frantically flapped her wings and evaded each crystal limb while Sombra appeared and disappeared around her. She soon found herself freezing in place entirely as another appeared in front of her before she turned to see Sombra standing on several rocky crystals.

"Must we do this again?" He asked in a bored manner.

Cozy stared at him... and dropped.

She managed to narrowly plummet past all the crystals that were made reaching out to her and found herself falling down towards the streets below. There she spotted many servants and slaves who had been set free, gasping and watching as she descended.

"It seems they all now know of its hiding spot." Sombra hummed as he made his way to the edge of his crystal pillar, "Very well. It's time to use a new spell I've put together for this very occasion. By tomorrow, nopony here will remember the Heart, or YOU!"

His voice echoed in Cozy's ears as she continue to plunge down. She gulped and prepared to catch herself with her wings. At the same moment, Sombra had jumped down too.

Cozy opened her wings and slowed her descent. With rushed flaps she managed to stop falling entirely just above the heads of several crystal ponies. She let out a sigh of relief before movement in the sky caught her attention. Above her she spotted a falling figure that soon exploded into a large black cloud.

The filly yelled out as she tried to fly off to the side only to get pulled into the mass as it crash landed onto the crystal streets. Many ponies scrambled to get away. She screamed for help while Sombra formed before her within the darkness that still surrounded them, "Hush. You will be my first subject this spell will be used on. I must get this right." He growled as he lowered his head and prepared his spell.

"No! Let me go!" Cozy fearfully flapped her wings but was held still by Sombra's own dark magic. She struggled and fought but she couldn't stop what happened next.

The next thing she saw was an abrupt blast of dark magic.


Rubinstein angrily stuck a spear through the dark mass, "Release my niece at once you tyrant!" He yelled as he tugged it out and attempted to stab at it again.

Several ponies watched from a distance, fearing what would happen if they got too close.

After the stallion failed to cut through the dark mass a fourth time, a small pink body suddenly went flying out of it. He dropped his spear and instantly lunged for the filly, his front hooves grasping at her before he hugged Cozy close to his chest and crashed onto the hard floor.

"Cozy Glow!" He sat up and looked her over. She didn't look injured, but some dark magic twisted and twirled around her head. Something had to have happened to her... Cozy then let out a pained groan and rubbed her eyes.

"Are you alright, Cozy?" Rubinstein asked as he pulled away.

"U-Um..." Cozy carefully pushed herself up, "Uh... who... who are you? Where am I?" She fearfully scanned the streets and clutched her front hooves to her chest.

Her uncle blinked, "What?"

"Where am I?? What's going on?! Who are you?" She questioned, but her eyes landed on something else. Somepony else besides Rubinstein. She was looking... behind him.

"I am your king." Sombra chuckled as he reformed before Rubinstein and Cozy, "And soon, you all will relearn that. Each member of the Crystal Empire is connected to the Heart, aren't they?"

He then formed a pillar underneath him and began ascending upwards, heading towards the tower.

Rubinstein got on his hooves and shouted, "Quick! We need to stop him before he gets back up there!"

"How??" Checkmate came running over with several of the other servants besides him, "None of us here are pegasi or unicorns! We can't get up there fast enough, and we're not sending a foal to try and chase after him either!"

"We can't anyways, I don't think she even remembers how to fly." Rubinstein pointed out as Cozy looked over her wings in a confused manner.

"Wait, what do you mean she can't remember how to fly?"

"He put a memory spell on her! She can't remember where she is or who I am. I don't even think she knows she's Cozy either! If he has a spell like that, he could use the Heart to..." He froze, "To put it on all of us in its radius..."

Checkmate stared at his brother before whipping away to shout, "We need to start climbing, now! We have no choice, just go!"

"Those who can't climb out here get to the throne room!" Rubinstein yelled, "There's a passage that could lead us to the top of the Empire! Hurry, we have to get to the Heart!" He began directing everypony available towards the castle and many began stampeding towards the spires. Meanwhile Checkmate and several others have started to clamber up along several crystal pillars in hopes to get to the top fast enough. Though it was such a long way away. Looking up, Rubinstein understood. They weren't going to make it. Not in this lifetime.

Their one chance to get the Heart... and it was all ruined.

"Father?" Glass Slipper carefully walked up to Rubinstein who hadn't moved at all after giving out the command, "What's happening?"

Frosty Quartz rushed over to Cozy's side and carefully helped her back up on her hooves.

Rubinstein sighed, "Slip. I hope even after this you remember something very important..."

"What's... what's that?"

He sat down and pulled his daughter into a hug, "That I love you."

Slipper felt the sting of tears in the corner of her eyes as she nuzzled against Rubinstein, "I love you too..."

"What's happening?" Cozy stood.

"I don't know... but it's not good." Frosty looked up to see several ponies scrambling up the pillars, "Rubinstein said the Heart was at the top. I guess that's what they're all trying to get now."

"The Heart..? Who? What?"

The colt's ears fell back in concern, "Sombra did something, didn't he?"

"I... I don't know who you're talking about. Or what you're talking about. Have we met before? Who are you?"

"..." Frosty tiredly sighed and sat next to Cozy, his eyes now on the large castle in front of them, "You know... The first time we met, I wondered why your coat wasn't sparkly even though you were part crystal pony. I assumed you were sad, and wanted to make you happy." He chuckled, "Can't do that now. I'm not even happy..."

Cozy sat down and stared at him. She was a mix of emotions right now. Confused, sad, and lost. She couldn't remember anything... anyone... not even herself. Who was she? Where was she? At least it sounded like this colt knew who she was... but his face. It made her concerned.

Her ears fell back at what he had said, "Why aren't you happy?"

"I lost my home. My family is split apart. I don't know where my mom or dad is. They're all probably trying to get the Heart, but I don't think they can reach it in time."

Cozy stared at the empire, "In time for what?"

"... in time to stop something really bad from happening." Frosty bowed his head, "Well, whatever happens next, I'm glad I got to at least be your friend before this all started."

Cozy looked over in surprise, "We're friends?"

"I see you as one."

"Well..." She hesitated before spotting Slipper and Rubinstein nearby, holding eachother close, "As... your friend... Would you like a hug?"

Frosty raised his head, "Yeah, I would like that."

Cozy gave a small smile before wrapping her forehooves around him. He returned the embrace just before chaos ensued and the catastrophe was upon them.

Sombra had retrieved the heart. The moment his dark magic had touched the artifact, he unleashed the mind spell all across the Empire.

Rubinstein held Slipper close to him as he glared at the skies while a light show of purple, black, and green appeared at the very top of the tower. Stones and crystal pillars began to crack and shatter, making several ponies who had attempted the climb to tumble back down onto the streets below. A loud explosion of noise erupted throughout the Empire and darkness washed over everypony.

Then, it went eerily silent...


"Send this letter to Princess Celestia back near the Everfree Forest." Princess Luna commanded as she set a sealed letter in The Messenger's hooves, "We will need our sister here if we are to defeat this tyrant."

Love Letter saluted, "I won't let you down, Princess!"

Luna smiled, "We know you won't. Now go."

The Messenger stashed the letter away in her saddlebags along with another letter meant for a concerned mother in Canterlot. She strapped the bags on her back and was off in an instant. Luna watched from the campsite while The Commander approached her, "Are you certain you want her to go alone? I could send another pegasus to accompany her."

Luna giggled, "She's only heading back to the train station. From there she will be safely in Equestrian territory. You don't need to be too concerned for her... but we guess sometimes you can't help yourself, hmm?" She playfully asked.

The Commander perked, "Um- Well, I just wanted to be sure she'd be safe. That's all." He sheepishly turned away, "Last time she went on a delivery route it didn't go well. I wanted to be sure she was protected this time around."

The Princess comforted the stallion, "She'll be fine. We're certain."

"... If you and your sister are going to attack the Empire, I want to be there." The Commander insisted, "I... I have to be there."

"We understand. This would be like if somepony were to attack my sister Celestia. I'd have to be there for her." It felt weird to say "I" when she now spoke of herself, but it felt appropriate seeing as she mentioned her own family, "It might not be safe for pegasi, however."

"What do you mean?"

"From the memories we've seen, Sombra's defense works in a way where he can set off dark magic in the sky, leaving pegasi useless. Thou can not defend against bolts of magic, unless with magic to counter. The only way to get through safely enough is as an alicorn."

The stallion's crystal pupil bore into Luna's, "Then maybe one pegasus can get through. When you two are here, I could fly behind you. You two can block Sombra's dark magic and, hopefully, I will be able to reach through that way."

Luna stared back, "... That could work. But there's something we must warn you, Commander. A lot has happened in the Empire. This tyrant has done irreversible damage to many, and he has shrouded the land in fear and darkness. He experiments with his magic on others and he's not afraid to hurt anypony. Not even foals."

The Commander felt this bile raising in his throat.

"... And Cozy was the one I sent to the Heart." Luna spoke, but in a different tone. It was a new voice that was a little higher, and more tired, "It has been days now, and she has failed to retrieve it. She has probably been caught and recaptured. I don't know what he could've done to her, if that were the case."

The stallion's eyes widened, "Luna... What could happen to her?"

The princess lowered her head, "I'm not completely certain, but if anything horrendous does happen to her, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry..." Tears began to collect and fall off of Luna's cheeks. The memories of Tidal Swirl rapidly flicked through her mind. In fact, right now, she even felt like Tidal Swirl...

The Commander wasn't sure what to say. He wasn't sure what to do. He just took a few steps back and turned, "I... I need to look over the information you've gathered from those memories. I will be in the strategy tent if you need me." He had to be alone.

Luna nodded in understanding while The Commander walked away, processing what she had said. He couldn't lose his daughter. He just couldn't. Out of all the places she had run off to, why the Empire? Why did it have to be the Empire? As he entered the tent his eyes landed on the large map before him. He considered it with a harsh glare.

His family. His daughter. His mission. He had a goal and that was to save everypony. To save his little Cozy. He just had to figure out what to do once he got over those crystal walls with the princesses.

He sighed and dug through a chest nearby to fish out Luna's journal. She liked to write and draw in this whenever she had the chance after she had gained Tidal Swirl's memories. It helped her to more properly go through them, and what they needed for their current plan.

He flipped through the pages and stopped at one with a doodle of his daughter. Of little Cozy Glow.

"Please. Please be alright." He muttered as he clutched the journal close to his chest.


The Scout found himself out in the fields of icy snow, under a blizzard with nothing but a jacket and scarf to protect him from the harsh winds. Not like he really minded. He was used to various weather changes and temperatures on his missions so this wasn't anything too unusual. It was still a lot however. Not nippy, more like freezing.

He was alone... and the reason for that was because this was his personal secret mission. He was heading straight for the Empire. He wasn't supposed to get this close, of course, but he just couldn't help himself. His duty was to scout and gain information! Now he couldn't really do that from a distance. His patrols continued to run him dry. All that there was to report was the weather and the state of the Empire. Which remained the same besides that one encounter. There was no news or information to be had or shared. It was time The Scout took this in his own hooves.

Now he was no pegasus or unicorn, but he was fast and he was determined. He can figure it out! Besides, he hasn't even gotten a good look at the crystal wall just yet! Who knows what secrets it holds? He could also test dummy it and see how it works! If he gets electrocuted well then that's just one thing to report to the Princess!

Bit extreme, but it's the work of The Scout.

Luckily for him the Empire wasn't too hard to spot. Even in this storm he could easily find the tower figure of the crystal walls and the castle itself just peeking above them. As he continued it only got bigger and bigger until finally...

He was at the wall.

He let out a victorious noise underneath his scarf and pulled it down, "Ah! Finally. Now... Maybe if I just walk around the perimeter, which could take days in full, I could possibly find-"

"What are you doing all the way over here?"

"AH!" The Scout jumped and whirled around to be face-to-face with blue crystal eyes. Radiant Hope. The Healer, "I can very well ask the same thing! How long have you been following me?"

"Ever since you left camp after breakfast." Hope responded as she walked over to the walls. She had saddlebags on her back, her own coat, and a cap that covered her ears, "I found a note you had written, attempting to estimate how long it would take for you to scout the entire perimeter of the Empire. You estimated two or three days."

"Yes, it'd be a long while..."

The mare carefully set a hoof on the wall, her reflection stared back at her, "Hm. Especially like this. You shouldn't have come out here all alone."

"Right- look I understand if you think this was silly and we can go back if ya want. I'm sorry to make you walk all the way here, if I had turned around and saw you-"

"No no. I want to help." Hope insisted as she pulled out a potion of some sort, "Here."

She gave The Scout a potion and he took it in his hooves, "What's this..?"

Hope smiled, "A speed potion. The Messenger and myself were each given one for emergencies. To make quick escapes in case Sombra appeared."

"A speed potion?! The princesses gave you two one each? AND NOT ONE FOR ME?" The Scout pouted, "Well that's just unfair."

Hope giggled, "Maybe because you're already very fast! But now you can use it to get through this mission even faster."

"I suppose I can. Alright. Thank you Miss Radiant Hope!"

"Just Hope is fine."

"Aye! But are you certain you want me to use this? Isn't it just your one?"

"I'll be fine. But, if you do find anything... Let me know." She insisted.

"Sounds fair to me! I definitely owe you more than that though. Let's chug this down now already, eh?" Scout smirked before he popped up the top with his teeth, spat it out, and then gulped the contents down his throat. Instantly he felt this rush of adrenaline. He lowered the potion and his eye twitched. The moment he dropped the empty vial he hopped up into the air and beamed, "RIGHT! Off I go then!" In a blink of an eye, he was gone in an instant.

Hope let out a content sigh and decided to get herself comfortable. She began clearing the snow around her and started to set up a small temporary camp underneath one of the jagged crystal overhangs jutting out of the wall. She didn't know exactly how fast the potion would make Scout, but hopefully it won't take too long...

After she lit a fire and sat down with a book in her magical hold, Scout had suddenly reappeared, "OH HOW MAGNIFICENT! You made a fire? Brilliant camp you got here! Anyways, I found something." He rapidly spoke.

"Great Amore that is one speed potion." Hope blinked, "Did you manage to do the entire perimeter?"

"Nononononono- I was at a third, I think, but I FOUND SOMETHING! An opening!" He hopped back and forth on the heels of his hooves as if he was just waiting to get back to running again.

Hope quickly stood, "An opening?? Where?"

"Just North of here! Down that way along the wall!" Scout gestured to his right.

The mare quickly began to repack everything and stomp out the fire, "Well what are we waiting for then?" She hurriedly threw in her book last, "Let's go!"

"Allow me, ma'am!" Scout saluted before suddenly dashing underneath Hope, pushing her onto his back. She let out a yelp and suddenly felt the world speed by her as he ran towards the wall's opening he had found before.

"Ohhhh this is tooooo fast!" Hope breathed out as she clutched onto Scout's neck in fear of falling off.

The journey might've only taken a minute or two, Hope wasn't really paying attention, but the moment Scout found what he was looking for he went screeching to a halt. Hope nearly flew right off his back but he quickly caught her and carefully sat her back down on the snowy floor.

"Ahah, apologies Hope."

"Y-You're... You're fine." Hope shook her head and regained herself, "Whew. Okay. Opening. Right. Where-"

She paused as easily spotted the fissure before them. It wasn't a big opening but it was big enough for a small alicorn like Princess Luna to squeeze through. Several crystals had fallen apart at this entrance, and the way it was formed it looked like as if the walls had collided with eachother during their formation. Possibly this was a point where the walls connected and something went wrong. Still, it was big enough for one pony to slip through at a time.

Scout seemed ecstatic at this discovery, "This is just brilliant! We could report this to the Princess. An entirely new way to enter the Empire!"

Hope raised a hoof as Scout looked just about ready to leave, "Hold on. I want to see what's within these walls."

"What? But that would be entering very dangerous and unknown territory. That's more of a Scout's job than a Healer's. I can't allow you to get caught." His rapid voice gradually began to slow down. It seems the speed potion was about to wear off.

Hope looked him up and down, "How are you feeling?"

"A tad bit sluggish now I suppose."

"... Sorry then Scout, but I don't think you'll be able to stop me from entering the Empire."

"What? What do you mean?"

"There is a side effect when it comes to this type of speed potion. After the effects wear off, you will crash. Meaning you will become very exhausted and won't be able to pick yourself up for a while."

"So if I'm down and can't run..." The Scout perked up in alarm, "Hope you can't go in there. If Sombra found you-"

"Then I can handle him." She insisted as she turned towards the opening.

"Hope n-no!" Scout hurriedly grasped her shoulder only to feel his body become heavy. His legs began to shake and his eyes were starting to droop, "Please, don't go in there. Let's just go back and report to the rest."

"You can when you're ready to." Hope ignited her magic and pulled her saddlebags off her back, "Here. I'll leave you a tent, a sleeping bag, and everything else. I don't need this anymore."

She walked away from Scout who had then abruptly fell to the snowy ground. He groaned as he tried to wipe the exhaustion out of his eyes, "Was... Was that potion really from the princesses?" He managed to ask.

"No." Hope admitted, "I'm sorry I lied to you. Don't worry, the crash should end soon. Just stay warm out here, alright?"

The Scout could only grunt while Hope cleared the snow in the area and set up a small camp. She helped him back onto his hooves only to leave him inside the tent she had made for him. Then, when she finally turned to leave, he softly spoke.

"Please just stay safe in there... Don't get yourself killed miss."

Hope hesitated, "I'll try." and she made her way through the broken opening.

Into the Crystal Empire.


🎵 "Hush little filly, don't wake the ewe. Papa's gonna buy you a crystal shoe~" 🎵 The gentle voice of a young filly filled the quiet room as she dusted off a book with her wing, 🎵 "And if that crystal shoe gets cracked. Papa's going to buy you a crown you lack." 🎵

Sombra's ear twitched in her direction.

The filly carefully placed the book in it's right spot before she continued sorting through the shelf, 🎵 "And if that crown is not enough. Papa's going to buy you the crystal's love." 🎵

"Hm..." The dark king nearby raised his head towards her, "Where did you learn that song, little one?"

"I'm not sure." She truthfully answered as she fluttered up to place another book in its right spot, "I think I had a dream of it?"

"Ah. Dreams." Sombra muttered, "Those can show a lot more than I originally thought, can't they?"

"Sir?"

"Yes, assistant?"

"Did that song bother you?"

"... Truthfully, not at all." Sombra shut one of his spell books and gave it to his small pink assistant, "It was too quiet in here."

The filly took the book in her hooves, "Glad to be of some service then!" She smiled and went to place it on the shelf. She then looked over and spotted the balcony nearby. With one glance at the king behind her she found herself fluttering over to it and scanning the streets of the Empire. It wasn't long before she spotted the ponies below. They were all shackled and shuffling among the streets. Their heads bowed in defeat.

She stared down at them and sighed, "King Sombra?"

"Yes?"

"Why am I your assistant, free to fly where I want, but everypony else is shackled and bounded by your guards?"

Sombra paused at this. He was used to getting questions by now. Questions from every servant, slave, and even his own assistant. When he wanted he would answer them, if to make sure they knew their place, and what they were meant to be or do. This question however almost left him silent... He probably wasn't certain himself why, but he came up with an answer soon enough, "Everypony else is shackled for a crime they don't remember committing. It might be unfair, but it's just. And through this process, they will learn to better obey."
"You are a special case. Like me, you are the only one of your kind in this Empire so far. A little pegasus. I have plans for you, but first you must be devoted. You must prove your loyalty to me. Until then, you are just my assistant. It's a shame, however, that you weren't another unicorn." He grunted and turned away.

Something about that last statement made the filly feel... off. There was this bitterness in her chest and she bit the inside of her cheek when she felt it. Sombra was her king. She shouldn't feel resentment towards him, should she? There was a reason for what he was doing. So she better listen, like she was told.

"King Sombra?" The filly turned towards him and fluttered up onto his desk, "... What is my name?"

Sombra shook his head, "Do not worry about that. You are my Assistant. Assistant is all you will be called until further notice. Do I make myself clear?"

The filly nodded, "Crystal."

Sombra stared at her, "... Hilarious. Now get back to work."

His Assistant bowed her head and then hopped off of his desk to continue dusting the rest of the study. All the while a small crystal hanging from her neck would bounce off her chest as she fluttered about.

She made her way up to a mirror and paused when her eyes landed on her own reflection. A pink pegasus with white freckles, auburn eyes, a rook cutiemark, and blue hair that was more done-up and regal. It curled along her head but was made to not get in the way of her work. She looked clean. Relatively cleaner then most servants and slaves. Even felt nice too. Staring at herself, something bubbled within her. This felt unfair. Why was she being treated so differently over a few small tasks?

Should she be grateful? Relieved?

This was something she wanted, right?

The Assistant wasn't sure. For now, she turned away and tried to keep her focus on her work. She had to get finished and do what she was told.

After all, she didn't know anything else.

King Sombra and the Empire walls were all that she remembered.

Hopefully she'll learn more in due time.