• Published 13th Mar 2020
  • 4,578 Views, 978 Comments

Skeletor, Master of The Empire. - Hotel_Chicken

A monster was dethroned and a demon was thrusted into a position of power he never wanted. Now, the Displaced Lord Skeletor finds himself in the Frozen North of Equestria, fighting frigid temperatures and an evil king.

  • ...

Chapter 15. A Festival to Remember.

The plaza beneath the Crystal Castle was bustling with crystal ponies. Hundreds of voices filled the air with joyous wonder as they eagerly waited for the festivities to start.

A crowd of crystal ponies gathered around the Crystal Heart as it spun on its pedestal in the plaza, admiring its beauty as it shimmered in the sunlight of the early morning. The dozens of guards posted around the Heart fought to stop the smiles that crept onto their muzzles as they gazed at the happy faces of the citizens.

The stoic guards were reminded of a time when they wore their armor with pride, when the worst threat to the citizens was a belligerent drunk who had too much salt. For a few brief moments, some of the guards were convinced that Sombra was just a bad nightmare and that the princesses were all still alive. Their blissful escape from reality would only last for a few seconds before a solemn face in the crowd or the distinct lack of colts and fillies became noticeable.

Among the many crystal ponies who became lost in their memories was Emerald Secret. Unlike most mornings where the walking reminder of change was standing next to her on two large legs, that morning Emerald Secret was allowed to contently stare at the sun’s slow ascent into the sky. She and the council, sans Cannon Fodder, waited patiently on the balcony of the Crystal Castle for Lord Skeletor to arrive so that the festivities could start.

Emerald Secret sat next to Copper Plate as they watched the sun rise, silently enjoying her time with the older mare as she remembered how helpful she had been.

While Lord Skeletor still caused Emerald to feel a chill of fear run down from her crest to her croup, she was slowly becoming more relaxed around him thanks to Copper Plate's advice. The eldest member of the council was surprisingly helpful with Emerald's problems, teaching her a plethora of ways to relax herself through breathing exercises and calming techniques that helped to quell her fears and anxieties. She wondered if there was anything she could do to repay Copper Plate for her help and considered convincing Avid Value to give more funds to the Alchemist's Guild to quicken the process of making paper.

It would be beneficial to the Empire in the long run, but more importantly, it would also make Copper Plate happy to have more paper to write with. Her obsessive fondness for books was a delightful quirk that Emerald admired, the pure joy and happiness her new friend felt whenever she spoke passionately about books was a reminder to Emerald that happiness still existed in the world. Even after the cruel reign of Sombra, despite the countless deaths and unspeakable tragedies, ponies like Copper Plate still found the strength to smile. And maybe Emerald would find the strength to wear a genuine smile too, no longer plagued by the memories of her past and the waking nightmares that tormented her mind. Some day, she wouldn't remember the cold nights that Sombra summoned her to the throne room, or the sickening smile he wore as his hooves slammed against her barrel.

Just as her thoughts began to wander to the darkest memories of Sombra's rule, she was forcefully pulled away from them by the sound of the balcony doors being opened behind her. Emerald’s ear reflexively twitched in anticipation as she heard a dozen sets of hooves and a pair of draconic feet walk through the open doors. Her heart raced for a few moments as her mind briefly flashed back to the synchronized hoof beats of Sombra's slaves marching through the Empire, but a gentle touch from Copper Plate brought her back to reality.

Emerald initially flinched at the sudden contact, but relaxed once she followed the owner's hoof and gazed into Copper Plate's sympathetic eyes. A light smile graced her muzzle as she nodded to the older mare, silently thanking her for her support before she breathed trough her nose and released a breath through her mouth, repeating the action several times as Lord Skeletor walked towards them.

The six guards escorting Lord Skeletor cleared a path for him to walk towards his council, creating a wide enough berth for Cannon Fodder to trot alongside Lord Skeletor to the near edge of the balcony. Just as Lord Skeletor passed the halfway point, the Crystal Empire's flag began to rise on a pole above them, casting a large shadow over the crowd as it waved in the air. For the first time in years, the crystal ponies were able to look up at the flag of their nation, a purple flag with a ringed snowflake in the center. As Emerald watched the flag wave in the air, she sent a silent prayer to Faust, begging the divine weaver to give her a sign that Princess Celestia and Princess Luna were still alive, hoping beyond hope that they had survived their battle with King Sombra and fled to safety.

The idle chatter of the crowd below them instantly died as the crystal ponies set their eyes on Lord Skeletor. He walked with silent confidence as he puffed out his chest like a minotaurian general, exuding an air of pride to all of his subjects as he approached his council. Lord Skeletor’s imposing body gave him the appearance of a perfectly carved statue, a furless figure with flawlessly chiseled muscles.

Once Lord Skeletor stopped next to his council, he and the other council members waited for the flugelhorns to play. As they stood a few yards from the edge of the balcony, the low buzzing of the flugelhorns filled the silence as a light blue crystal pony took her place on the raised platform below the balcony. Her brown mane was brushed back with a white headband to hold it in place, and a single white bow-tie that was tied around her neck. The white color of her clothing perfectly matched the color of her cutie mark; a harp in the shape of a heart with a music note leaning against the soundboard of the harp. Emerald struggled to remember the blue pony’s name, and soon gave up trying to remember it.

The trumpeters in the orchestra took their cue to begin playing the national anthem, allowing the two bells of each instrument introduce the patriotic melody of the Crystal Empire’s anthem. After a few short notes, the music stopped to allow the blue mare to sing the first few hymns of the anthem without any interruption.

The mare sung the notes beautifully, as if she had been practicing that one song for her entire life, giving the song a new sense of life that Emerald Secret had never been able to appreciate before. Long ago, Emerald Secret would listen to the anthem with a sense of patriotic love, but the mare on the stage was able to give a performance that struck Emerald Secret's soul. Emerald Secret was so taken aback by her playing that she almost forgot to press her hoof against her chest.

The words left the mare’s throat without hesitation, filing the air around the crowd as the lyrics danced in the air with the booming drums. Memories of the once mundane anthem turned into brilliant battle cries of love and admiration for the original composers of the song. Many ponies openly wept at the familiar tune, felling a true sense of safety for the first time in three years. The song officially marked the end of a dark trial, and the beginning of a prosperous future.

As the anthem finished playing, Lord Skeletor walked towards the edge of the balcony to deliver his speech to his subjects. Lord Skeletor raised his arms up slowly, holding the strange scepter in his right hand as it touched the heavens. The gold horns of the ram skull caught the light of the early sun, allowing the light to brighten Lord Skeletor’s skull as it was reflected from the ram horns.

“My subjects!” Lord Skeletor shouted loudly, gaining the complete attention of all the crystal ponies. “It is my pleasure to announce today as a new holiday! The Crystal Fair will now take place on Amore Memory Day! We shall remember those that have died and keep them close to our hearts. Let us not be sad for their deaths, but instead, let us celebrate their lives before the arrival of he who shalt not be named on such a joyous day. Let us remember the glorious lives they lived and not those they lost, let us find comfort in what they accomplished and saw, and let us remember the best of them,” he stated proudly.

The crowd broke into applause as their lord stood silently before them and continued to cheer until he held up a hand. It wasn’t a command for silence, but a solemn request for his citizens to contain their joy for a few more brief moments. The loud cheers slowly died down as Lord Skeletor kept his left hand up, it wasn't until a deafening silence fell over the crowd that he finally lowered his hand. The few tense moments of silence felt like an eternity before it was effectively shattered by his next words.

“I will never be able to know the pain you feel,” he stated with a more solemn tone, causing Emerald and the other council members to look at him in shock. “The burdens and memories that you carry are yours alone, and I cannot even hope to understand it. I could lie, I could say that I know what it’s like to lose someone close to you, but I don’t. Not like you. I have lost friends, family, I have lost more than I could have ever imagined… And you have lost even more. Many of you have lost your innocence, some of you have lost your sanity, and even more of you have lost your families. Everyone hurts in different ways and everyone faces that pain in different ways; I don’t know your pain, just as you do not know mine. Pain is different for all of us.

“But, one thing we all know well is the love of family and friends. I have stared into the bright eyes of newborn and gazed into the dull eyes of a wonderful woman who laid on her deathbed; and I have felt the same love for both. Loss is different to us all, but we all have the same understanding of love.

“So, let us take our love and think fondly of the lives that were lived, and not the ones that were lost.

“For those that are religious, pray to your gods. For those who have lost faith, hope that their last moments were painless, and please believe that you shall meet them again in reincarnation or in another world. Let us not waste our breath cursing the life of the old tyrant, let us come together and celebrate the lives of those who you have lost. And with that, let us honor the memories of those who have died and celebrate the lives they lived!” He shouted.

Although the cheers weren’t as loud as they were earlier in Lord Skeletor’s speech, the smiles were much more genuine and grateful. If Lord Skeletor had shown Emerald his speech before hoof, she may have made a few adjustments, but his speech still managed to get his point across. The Crystal Fair and Amore Memory Day were a time to celebrate memories and not just grieve for what was lost.

The streets of the Crystal Empire were filled with laughter, tears, and blissful memories of the past. Many of the guards surrounding Lord Skeletor and Emerald failed to stop smiles from spreading on their muzzles, except for Cannon Fodder of course.

While suppressing a smile was a menial task for him, because of his experience with keeping a stoic frown on his muzzle during his time as Princess Amore's personal guard, he struggled to fight off the contemplative look of his eyes as he squinted in deep thought. He tried to pick apart Lord Skeletor’s speech, searching for double meanings and subtle threats in his passionate words. Lord Skeletor’s voice may have sounded sincere, but Cannon Fodder couldn’t believe that anything other than lies could pass through the lips of a demon.

A small hint of doubt circled around his thoughts as he went through Lord Skeletor’s words once more. He trotted next to Lord Skeletor without any idea of what was going on around him, and actively ignored the ponies who would bow to their new lord before they returned to milling about the city as they continued their activities. The sound of laughter went through one ear and out the other as he listened to his own thoughts, and it was only when the smell of fresh bread drifted to his nostrils that he found his way back to reality.

His eyes glanced up to Lord Skeletor’s sockets before he followed his dark lord’s gaze towards a stall selling bread. Steam rose from the collection of loaves and other baked goods, creating a curtain of mist that promised a warm salvation from the frigid temperatures of the Frozen North. Cannon Fodder looked back at Lord Skeletor to see him gawking at the stand with a hanging jaw.

For a brief second, Cannon Fodder wondered if the jaw bone would fall off of Lord Skeletor’s skull and questioned what would happen if a piece of Lord Skeletor fell off. Lord Skeletor touched the sides of his strange looking skirt before he looked at his hips and grimaced. “Uh… Emerald, by any chance, do you have any… what did you call it… Bits?” He asked his Royal Advisor.

“A few, my lord, why?”

“Well… I figured that, as the leader of the Crystal Empire, I should partake in the delicacies of my subjects and give them my praise. But, I can’t get any of their food without bits.”

“Why not just ask for a loaf of bread?”

Lord Skeletor stared at Emerald with an expression that spoke of pure befuddlement. “I can’t do that. I mean, look at that vender. He’s so thin, he could eat hoooo-whole house. And yet, he’s still selling food instead of eating it. The least I can do is pay for it. So… uh... Could you lend me some bits?”

“Lend? I… Of course, my lord,” Emerald said as she fished out a small pouch of bits from her saddle bags.

Lord Skeletor counted the bits inside of the pouch as he approached the stall, completely oblivious to the vender’s dismay as he approached. The stallion behind the counter had a deep blue coat of fun and a black colored mane of hair that was a few hues lighter than Emerald’s midnight black mane. The stallion bowed deeply to Lord Skeletor and patiently waited for Lord Skeletor to command him to rise. Seconds turned into a full minute as Lord Skeletor watched the stallion bow to him and he began to shuffle on his two large feet in an uncomfortable way.

“Is… Is he alright?” Lord Skeletor asked Emerald.

“Yes, my lord, he’s just waiting for you to allow him to rise.”

“Oh? That’s a thing I have to do? Sorry, I uh… Never needed to ask my subjects to do so before. You may rise, Mr…”

“Fresh Bake, your majesty. I’m honored to meet you. Would you like some bread?” The stallion asked.

“I’d love to, Fresh Bake. How much is it for a loaf?”

“They’re two bits for now since not many ponies have a lot to spend, but I can I just give you—”

“Nope,” Lord Skeletor cut him off. “As much as I like giving to charity, I’ve never been a fan of receiving it. So, I’ll give you two bits for a loaf and… do you guys want anything?” Lord Skeletor asked his guards.

The guards surrounding Lord Skeletor threw each other quick glances before they responded with a polite head shake to tell him they were fine. Lord Skeletor nearly shrugged before he turned to Emerald and Cannon Fodder. “What about you two, want anything from here?”

“I’m fine, my lord,” Emerald replied as Cannon Fodder just shook his head.

Before Lord Skeletor could pay for his loaf, he heard the unmistakable sound of a stomach rumbling and he turned his attention towards the source. Fresh Bake shrunk under Lord Skeletor’s gaze and kept his eyes away from the sockets in Lord Skeletor’s skull. Heavy silence fell on the group as they watched the stallion hide the fear that was rising inside of himself.

Cannon Fodder glanced at Lord Skeletor, watching him stand as still as a statue as he observed the slightly trembling stallion. The oddly malleable bones on Lord Skeletor’s skull contorted in unnatural ways, allowing his eye sockets to grow as has brow arched upward.

“You haven’t been eating much,” Lord Skeletor stated in a quiet tone.

Fresh Bake flinched at Lord Skeletor’s comment, most likely fearful that his own body had somehow insulted the demonic lord before him, and attempted to defuse the fearful situation with a lighthearted joke. “Heh… Kind of hard to make a living if you end up eating the product.”

Lord Skeletor remained deathly silent as his sight traveled across the dark blue hairs on Fresh Bake’s coat. His gaze lingered on the loaf of bread Fresh Bake had for his cutie mark, taking in the detail of the highly stylized image on his flank with a look of mild curiosity which quickly morphed back to sadness when he counted the visible ribs on Fresh Bake.

After spraining the stallion’s body, Lord Skeletor took four bits out of Emerald’s pouch and placed them on the counter. He then proceeded to take two loaves of bread and held one of them towards Fresh Bake.

“Here you go,” Lord Skeletor said as he held the loaf of bread to Fresh Bake’s muzzle. “I insist that you eat something. A doctor cannot perform surgery if they’re sick and a baker cannot cook if they’re starving.”

“My lord, please, I’ll be—” Lord Skeletor didn’t allow the stallion to finish his sentence before he turned his skull towards Emerald.

“Emerald, please remind me; who is the leader of the Crystal Empire?”

“You are, my lord,” Emerald responded with a raised eyebrow.

“And my word is absolute, correct?”

“Y-yes…” She replied a bit more hesitantly. A sudden pang of dread rippled through Cannon Fodder’s soul as he felt Lord Skeletor’s change in tone.

“Then as ruler of the Crystal Empire, I order you to have some of your bread,” Lord Skeletor commanded with an unwavering firmness that quickly melted into a concerned and troubled voice. “Think of the other ponies who come to you for food. If you end up dying because you haven’t eaten, then they won’t be able to eat either. I admire your resolve to help others in these troubling times, but sometimes you need to help yourself first. So please, eat something to keep up your strength.”

And with that, Lord Skeletor left the second loaf of bread on the counter and walked away from the vender. The guards escorting him were quick to form a perimeter around Lord Skeletor after shaking off their initial shock. Cannon Fodder couldn’t help but to peek over his shoulder and look at Fresh Bake as they left.

The stallion was watching Lord Skeletor and his entourage with disbelief clearly written on his face, and Cannon Fodder couldn’t blame him. It didn’t make any sense to Cannon Fodder. Lord Skeletor was a living demon that had crawled from the deepest pits of Tartarus, he had killed the old tyrant and effectively conquered an entire Empire without even raising his voice. There was no reason for him to pretend to be nice to his citizens. So, why was he acting nice to them?

As Cannon Fodder pondered the reasons behind Lord Skeletor’s actions, he looked up to see the large demon eating his loaf of bread with a delighted moan.

“Oh~ mawh gawd, thith ith thoo goowd,” he said with a jaw full of bread. Cannon Fodder tilted his head ever so slightly to take a peek at the hole under Lord Skeletor’s jaw bone, and was heavily surprised by the fact that he couldn’t see the bread in his skull from his angle.

“Thanks again, Emerald, I’ll pay you back when we get to the castle,” Lord Skeletor promised.

“There’s no need to that, my lord.”

“Nonsense. I’ll pay you back and that’s final,” Lord Skeletor stated as he took another bite of his bread.

While Lord Skeletor ate his meal, his skull turned towards the ponies outside of his group of guards. A colorful sea of crystal ponies happily trotted towards the jousting arena, laughing and making bets on who would win the joust. Because bits were still sparse in the Empire, ponies gambled with promises to reveal embarrassing secrets or deals to pay the winner in free snow shoveling since there were still large piles of snow that littered the streets of the Empire.

Lord Skeletor’s gaze seemed to wander back to Emerald, who was trotting next to him. His hollow eye sockets stole a glance at her flank for a few brief seconds before he turned his attention to her head.

“Hey, Emerald, I’ve been meaning to ask… What are those tattoos you all have?” Lord Skeletor asked.


“The things on your thighs,” he explained as he gestured to the image on her side.

“Oh, you mean our cutie marks?” Emerald asked as she pointed at one of the magnifying glass with a question mark on her flank. “It’s our special talent. My talent is noticing finite details in written records, and I specialize in finding inconsistencies and incongruities in any and all legal documents that enter or leave the Crystal Castle.”

“Huh. So, where do you go to get them put on?”

“Put on? They naturally appear whenever we find out calling in life, usually we find it when we’re very young. Personally, I found my special talent when I noticed that the profits of my father’s shop were declining even though business was booming. It didn’t take long for my mother to find out where he was spending the profits,” Emerald recalled with a bitter tone.

“What was happening to it?”

“A harlett with a ruby pair of lips for her cutie mark was what happened to it. Father and the whorse decided that their sex life was more important than his wife and daughter, so when he was caught he made a choice.” she stated with a chilling anger. “That bastard and his whorse moved to the Thestral Kingdom of the Crystal Empire soon after, I haven’t heard from him since then. Not that I care, they were perfect for each other, a pair of lowlives who thought sex was more important than family!” Emerald shouted.

Emerald breathed heavily as she seethed over her bitter memories of her family. After a few moments of stewing in anger, she noticed the concerned looks the ponies outside of the guard circle and Lord Skeletor were giving her. She wilted as she remembered who she was talking to and began to apologize.”

“Sorry for ranting, my lord, I… I…”

“It’s fine, Emerald. I get it,” Lord Skeletor dismissed. “Fathers can be real assholes sometimes, I know from experience,”

“Experience?” Emerald parroted.

“Let’s just say that my situation was similar to yours and leave it at that. I’m grateful that you were willing to share that piece of yourself, but I don’t wish to drag up my own misfortunes. Besides, today isn’t a day of anger at the past, it’s a day of loving fond memories! If thinking of your dad makes you upset, then fuck him! Don’t even give the memories of him the time of day. Today is about your happiness, not his sex life! So be happy, and live in the moment!” He exclaimed happily as he threw his hands into the air.

Emerald faintly smiled at Lord Skeletor’s apparent enthusiasm, her grievances with her father melting away as she focused on her happier memories.

“So, Emerald, what’s on the itinerary for today? A pie judging contest? Perhaps a play performed by a local theater group?” Lord Skeletor asked with an upbeat tone.

“Well, the jousting tournament will be starting in a few minutes. I’m sure if we start trotting over there now, we could see the first round before it’s too late.”

“Oh, a jousting competition? Excellent! I can’t wait! I’ve never seen one in person before, this will be so exciting,” Lord Skeletor commented, prompting his group of guards to guide him towards the arena.

Cannon Fodder had to admit to himself that he was also looking forward to the jousting tournament too. He fought valiantly to keep a smile from spreading across his muzzle as he trotted with the group to the arena, a battle the other guards that surrounded Lord Skeletor had sufficiently lost once they saw the makeshift arena a few blocks away.

The sound of deafening cheers flooded the air as their group drew closer to the arena, filling Cannon Fodder with a sense of nostalgia as he remembered his first time going to a jousting tournament with his father. For a brief second, every problem Cannon Fodder faded away as the memories of his father filled his mind. His father’s warm smile and soulful eyes gave Cannon Fodder a sense of warmth and pride that he hadn’t felt in years.

He lost the valiant battle against his muzzle when a small smile raised the edges of his lips as he trotted towards the arena. A small flicker of hope burned inside of him, prompting him to recapture the experience he had with his father.

The Crystal Fair flew past Skeletor in the blink of an eye. The joyous festivities, fine food, and wonderful music had all ended too swiftly for him. As he stared at the crystal ponies cleaning up their stalls and decorations, Skeletor couldn't help but feel a pang of sadness for not being able to celebrate for a little while longer. He desperately wanted to visit one more stall, play one more game of pony shoe toss, eat just a little more crystal berry pie, to do anything to keep himself distracted.

For the first time in days, Skeletor truly felt at ease, as if a heavy burden was lifted from his shoulders thanks to the celebration. Even though the weight of his fears and anxieties returned after the fair was officially over, it felt lighter than it had before.

A content smile was plastered on Skeletor's jaw as he recognized a few of the ponies below who were cleaning. The few ponies that he had managed to talk to during the festivities were a colorful cast of characters who held fun little quirks in their personalities. Fresh Bake trotted alongside a petite mare who was spending the fair by patching up any damaged blankets and fabrics ponies would bring her. Skeletor had briefly played with the idea of asking her if she could sew him some more clothing, but he quickly dismissed that idea when he saw the large pile of fabrics she still had to go through.

A group of guards passed by the pair of ponies as they patrolled the streets, allowing Skeletor's eyes to wander towards another familiar pony who was in their path. Onyx Comet, one of the many competitors in the jousting tournament, sat off to the side of the street with a crystal guard sitting next to him. The two spoke passionately about the tournament, lamenting Onyx's unfortunate loss in the fourth round, but keeping their spirits up that he would win next year.

Skeletor's smile slowly fell as he listened to their conversation. While he could only catch bits and pieces due to their distance from him, they spoke loud enough for him to catch a few choice words and promises that they shouted to the heavens. "Next year, I'll show Thunder who's a better jouster, count on it! I'll show that blowhard once and for all," Onyx told his friend.

As Skeletor heard his words, he wondered if he would even be around for the next Crystal Fair. How long will it take to get home? A month? A year? Years? Skeletor grimly pondered as he rested his chin on the ledge of his window, being mindful of the pieces of glass that still stuck out from the frame of the window.

Night quickly befell the Crystal Empire as Skeletor wondered about his old life. He wasn't sure how his family and friends were reacting to his disappearance. His mom, his half-brother, and his girlfriend Evelyn were all probably worried, if not terrified. He almost knew for a fact that his dad didn't give a damn, his father never cared about him. A bastard child born out of wedlock, all because his father couldn't keep it in his pants. Rand's mom may have cared about Skeletor, he had never really spent enough time with her to know how she felt about her husband's bastard.

Skeletor watched the alien celestial bodies turn from day to night, the small sun fell beyond the horizon of the west as the moon drifted through the air, bringing the tendrils of night along with it. Skeletor allowed a humorless chuckle to escape himself as he stared at the bizarre spectacle in the sky, a grim reminder of how far away from Earth he was. He found some small sense of solace in the familiar stars that were held in the tentacles of the night, constellations like Orion's Belt and the Little Dipper filled the unfamiliar sky above him. How stars from his home had found their way into an alien sky, Skeletor had no idea, and he didn't care enough to wonder anymore. He wouldn't question the one thing in the world that reminded him of home.

If Skeletor stared up at the stars for long enough, he could convince himself that he was on Earth, stargazing with Evelyn. The memories of her lovely face, her stunning eyes, and her enchanting voice lulled him to sleep that night, allowing him to completely forget all of his fears and worries for the night.

Author's Note:

The Crystal Empire's National Anthem was written by SonicFan93Returns and preformed by the talented IMShadow007, whose OC I used as inspiration for the singer in this chapter. Check out both of their youtube channels if you can and consider subscribing to them.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!