• Published 10th Jun 2020
  • 764 Views, 31 Comments

Splintershard - TheMajorTechie



Once upon a time, Equestria flourished. That time is now long-gone.

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1 ◈ A Kingdom

Author's Note:

It was peaceful.

Long after the clashes, long after the battles,

The land was once again at ease.

But the cost was great;

A nation shattered,

The ponies scattered,

And the time of healing never came.


Birds.

Birds and sunlight.

Wasn't her alarm clock supposed to go off by now?

Emily groaned, lifting her head off the tear-stained pillow. That's right-- it was. That is... if she was ever there to hear it in the first place. Where she was now, though, was an entirely different story.

Tuesday.

Today is Tuesday. Or at least, it's Tuesday back at home. How weeks worked, or whether there even were weeks here, was still beyond her.

"Starlight," she whispered, "You hangin' there?"

"Yes."

Emily breathed a sigh of relief. A thin smile began to surface. "Alright. When I'm asked to show off some high-level magic, I want you to take over, and absolutely blow their pants off."

"Will do. Also, I didn't see anypony wearing pa--"

"Shhh--" Emily hushed with mock-seriousness, "We do not speak of Shark Tank references here."

"Wha--"

"Joking!"

"Riiiiiight."

"HUMAN!" a guard's muffled voice emanated from beyond the door. "IF YOU ARE READY, PROCEED TO THE ROOM'S CORRIDOR, AND WE WILL ESCORT YOU BACK TO THE THRONE ROOM FOR YOUR PERFORMANCE."

Well, it was now or never at this point. Emily followed the guard's orders, stepping in front of the sealed doorway. There was a brief pause, but the wood blocking her in soon retracted into the walls and floor, freeing her from her confines. The same group of guards from yesterday stood in the hall, watching.

"Eheh... hey there," Emily forced a smile, waving as she emerged from the room. "So. Big day for me, isn't it?"

None of them appeared to be amused.

"Follow," one commented, turning. "Let us make haste."


The pale stallion looked like he'd been waiting for ages by the time she arrived, judging by the exasperation in his voice. "Ah, there's the girl," he yawned as Emily's caravan arrived. "Starlight Glimmer, I expect great things out of you."

Emily snorted, rolling her eyes. Starlight'd better be ready for this. She didn't have the stick or anything to channel mana, either, so whatever she had in mind would have to be cast without any focal point. At least... that's how it supposedly worked... right?

"Yeah, close enough," Starlight's voice responded. "Alright, lend me your hands. I'm gonna attempt a partial possession spell instead to save my energy for the show. I don't want to risk burning myself out, even if it's a simple spell."

"Wait--how--" Emily sputtered, watching her hands begin to move on their own accord. "Starlight," she whispered under her breath. "what the heck are you planning on doing that needs you to save your energy?"

"We are waiting, Starlight," the pale stallion grumbled, resting his face on a hoof. "It is best if you do not waste our time with this aimless rambling of yours."

Emily nodded, drawing a deep breath. Her hands balled into fists, gently glowing with Starlight's mana. Whatever it was that Starlight had in mind, she'd just have to follow along. Hopefully, she wouldn't need to explain anything mid-spell.

She turned her thoughts inward. It'd probably be helpful to check if Starlight had any directions for her to follow.

"Just keep your arms steady. I've got your hands under control. When you start lifting off the floor, do not panic."

Wait, lift off the flo--

A burst of Starlight's mana escaped from both fists, washing over her entire body. Slowly, Emily felt herself begin to float. It was a little hard to notice at first, given how close she still was to the floor, but it was only a matter of seconds before the spell reached its peak capability, shooting her straight up into the air. She shut her eyes, keeping her arms as stiff as possible.

"Hm. Magical self-levitation?" the pale stallion turned to one of his advisors. "We do have accounts of the late Starlight Glimmer performing such acts, do we not?"

A single nod answered his question.

"Very well then, continue," he cleared his throat. "Do you have any other spells to perform?"

Didn't he ask for a spell last time around?

Starlight seemed to take the stallion's words as a challenge. Emily felt another charge of mana rapidly build in her palms, releasing in a flash of light. She opened her eyes again, finding herself on the opposite side of the room-- still floating in the air, of course.

A warm sensation crept up her arm again, followed by a nonchalant click that signaled the casting of the 'fire spell' from before. Though, this time...

Both of the girl's hands burst into flames, protected only by the thin coating of mana that continued to flow from her palms. Another charge built up, and another, and another-- Emily shut her eyes again as Starlight fired off teleportation spells one after another.

"Sorry for making you feel ill, Emily. I need to make sure that we've earned the respect of this stallion. He seems like he'd be a dangerous foe if we were to be on bad terms."

What made Starlight think that? He was just a fluffy horse.

"...a fluffy horse that likely wields magic capable of things you could only imagine," Starlight's voice deadpanned. "And he's the leader of a city-state that from my experience, was absolutely ruthless when they needed to be! We can't risk anything on him!"

Emily opened an eye, tensing up when she once again teleported to the other side of the room. She could still feel the heat of the flame spell in her arms, so that was... what, three spells going all at once?

"Enough!" the pale stallion's voice boomed across the room. "I have seen enough. You provide convincing evidence that you are indeed the lost magus of Twilight Sparkle." he bowed his head slightly. "Welcome back to the Old Guard, Starlight Glimmer."

One final teleportation landed Emily back on her feet. She felt a sensation return to her fingertips as the volley of spells Starlight cast dissipate.

"I... uh... yes," she bowed in return. "Thank you for receiving me, mister..."

"King Blueblood," the pale stallion corrected. "I descend from a glorious lineage of my namesakes stretching to the nephew of Princess Celestia herself!"

"Right. So nothing's changed that much, then. Still got a Blueblood on the throne."

That remark didn't seem to make him seem any more likable.

"Come," Blueblood stepped down from his weird pedestal throne thingy that hardly even looked like a proper throne. "Allow me to provide you with a tour of our quaint kingdom in the woods. You'll find that we have advanced quite far in your absence."

"Wait," Emily paused, "My stuff-- you said that you'd return my items once I proved myself."

"Yes, and you shall receive them promptly. Please--" Blueblood gestured to follow. "--We shall collect your items on our way."

"'Kay."


Luckily, the guards that took her things the day before seemed to be pretty careful. Nothing was broken, scratched, or even really touched, from the looks of it-- nevermind the fact that the spoon had even been polished sometime during the night! Emily brought her phone a little closer to her face, rubbing at the fingerprint-coated screen.

"I expect that our handling of your strange items is sufficient?"

"Mm-hmm," Emily hummed, pocketing the device. She bent over and grabbed her backpack by a strap, swinging it around her shoulder. "Heck, it's better than the condition that some of my mail comes in back ho--"

"Is there something wrong?" Blueblood cocked his head

"Home. Blu--your... er..." Emily sputtered, catching herself before stumbling even more on her words. "Your Highness, do you have any way to open portals?"

"Emily, don't you dare suggest anything about my higher abilities," Starlight's voice scolded. "The Blueblood I worked with was always prodding me for high-level spells usable in combat. I don't expect this one to be any better. I more or less stopped with public displays of power back when Twilight ascended to the throne as a precaution. What I showed off back there is the most of what I'm willing to use in plain sight, and so long as you don't put any ideas in his head, it will sta--"

"Portals?" King Blueblood leaned closer to Emily. She could feel his horse-breath on her cheek. "Tell me, Starlight, about these... portals."

Starlight's voice groaned.

"Uh--" Emily forced a chuckle. "Portals? When did I say anything about portals, your Highness? I was talking about... um... fort hills! This city within a fort is mighty fine, but just imagine if you could open more forts, y'know? Just, like... pop one up on some random hill where there's nice open fields and stuff!"

"You're making it worse, Emi."

As for the King, he remained silent, a brow clearly raised at the girl's remarks.

"Ahem," he continued, turning away. "Indeed, yes. To win back some of our treasured territories would be ideal. Now then, have you finished collecting your items, yet?"

"Yeah."

"Very well, then. We shall begin your tour of the kingdom. Please, follow me."

...Did she just awkward her way out of the conversation?


The shopping district.

Again.

Emily rolled her eyes, tuning out King Blueberry or whatever his name was. All he'd been doing since they'd left the castle thingy was blabber on and on about this fort, and how amazing his bloodline was. To be honest, he was actually giving her a run for her money for who could be the most annoying!

"At least you're also an airhead. You've got that on him still."

"Shut it, Starlight."

"--And over here," Blueblood turned, gesturing at a storefront. "...is a vendor of some of our finest wares and apparel. Would you like to take a look at their offerings, Starlight Glimmer?"

"I... I guess, sure," Emily shrugged. Maybe there'd be something actually interesting inside. Like a food court.

The King nodded, leading her through the doors. A frown immediately grew on Emily's face-- it was just another random store, except with slightly fancier looking things for sale. She wandered over to a stand lined with what looked like hand(hoof?)-made stick-wolf-dog things.

"Ah," Blueblood was suddenly at her side again, peering over her shoulder. "The miniature timberwolf golems! A fine trinket by any standard! How many do you wish to purchase?"

"Wha-purchase?" Emily turned her head. "No, I was just loo--"

"THREE GOLEM PLAYTHINGS FOR THE HUMAN GIRL," Blueblood lit his horn, taking a trio of the toys in his pea-green aura.

Starlight's voice snorted. "Looks like somepony's trying to win you over."

"What? No!" Emily quietly countered, "I am not gonna be hooking up with a horse!"

"I'm talking about how he's still trying to drag a powerful spell out of you-- I mean, me."

"Oh."

She felt the toys slip into her backpack's main pocket.

"Is there anything else you would be interested in acquiring within this fine establishment?" Blueblood leaned closer, cocking his head.

"No!" Emily frantically shook her head. "The figurines were enough! Let's move on to the next place now!"

Her stomach grumbled. It'd be really nice if this place sold food right about now.

"Let us depart from here, then."

King Blueblood lit his horn.


...

...

Well, that was convenient.

"Welcome to our... farming district," Blueblood stepped up beside Emily. "As a civilized society, us ponies do not interact directly with the filthy soil that grows our crops. Please, observe."

Emily blinked, staring at the towering slabs of dirt stacked up like a pancake into the sky. Bits of greenery were barely visible in some places, draping past the edges of the dirt pancakes and hanging upside-down in the air. There... there was also some kind of short, bulky... figure standing at the edges of each one.

"The golems you see standing guard are the harvest automatons that we have constructed," Blueblood explained, "They work in conjunction with our other wooden golems to tend our crops every day from planting to harvest."

Far above, a bird soared near one of the golems. A long, spindly arm grew from the body of the automaton, waving in the open air to scare it away. On the second swat at the bird, the entire machination began to tip, teetering at the edge of the slab before plummeting down the side.

"King Blu--"

"Tut--" Blueblood quickly cut her off. "Observe."

Emily grumbled under her breath, turning her attention back to the falling golem. Or at least, what was left of it. The most she could see anymore was an off-brown cloud, slowly drifting to the ground.

"It... it's gone?"

Blueblood nodded. "And now, Starlight, turn your eyes back to the former station of the golem."

She squinted, shading her eyes as she gazed back to the tower. It was a little hard to find the exact floor that the wooden golem had fallen from, but she eventually spotted it. A little burst of dirt on that layer caught her eye.

"They grow back, you see. These designs are the very same ones that my ancestors created eons ago, when this fort was first built as an emergency stronghold. So long as the soil remains tended to by the other automatons, the spell to replenish the supply of golems remains set in stone."

"So..." Emily took her eyes off the vertical farm. "You're saying that these things are basically just wooden dolls filled with magic?"

"In a sense."

She shoved her hands in her pockets, turning her gaze back to the farm and its unmoving golems.

"Neat."


Wherever it was that King Blueblood was leading her to next, it was far. For whatever reason, he also turned down her idea of just teleporting there. Maybe he wanted her to see the scenery?

Her stomach growled again. They'd barely left an entire farming district, and never even once did she get anything to eat!

"Just be careful for now, Emi. I know we haven't had anything to eat since last night, but he's leading us to the magical research facility that I helped build long ago. I recognized the farm tower, but I have no idea whether or not the magical training grounds of this place have been changed over the years."

"Righto. What sorta stuff are you thinking there might be?" Emily whispered, "Magic snakes? Weird plants?"

"More just general contamination, most likely. I'm not sure whether or not your body would be able to resist any powerful spells lingering in the area."

"Oh."

Blueblood stopped at the entrance of some kind of castle. Though, this one didn't look anything like the structure he'd been ruling from.

He lit his horn, pulling open one of the heavy wooden doors. The interior was dark, but the torches lining the walls lit themselves the moment Emily set foot inside.

"You do remember this place, don't you?" Blueblood shut the door behind himself, stepping up to Emily. "The Castle of the Two Sisters?"

"Starlight!" Emily muttered, "Take over for me before I wreck the conversation again!"

"Probably would've been better if you asked while King Blueblood was turned away from us, but fine."

A shudder ran down her spine as she lost all feeling in her body. Hey, she was getting used to this back-and-forth switching!

Starlight cleared her throat, nodding. "Yes, I remember quite well, thank you. What of the Treehouse of Harmony? I remember hearing before I vanished that Princess Luna infiltrated the fort to retrieve the Elements. Has the tree perished again since then?"

"Indeed it has. However," Blueblood trotted deeper into the castle. "My best advisors on magic have been hard at work attempting to decipher its secrets. It is a shame that Princess Luna had to wield the Elements against her sister-- otherwise, we may even have had the Elements of Harmony to study!"

Was it just her, or did King Blueblood seem to be... geeking out?

"Oh--" Starlight cut in, still following close behind. "I assume Daybreaker was ultimately reformed, then?"

"Hmm... yes, yes she was," Blueblood nodded solemnly. "I am tempted to say that it may have been one of the few acts of the Ashen that we still view favorably to this day. Do you wish to see the remnants of the tree?"

Starlight's eyes lit up. "Yes!" she beamed, "I--" she froze up mid-sentence, unable to move another step.

"I'd love to see the remnants," Emily swooped in, taking control once more. She lowered her voice to a whisper. "Starlight! What the heck just happened there?"

"Felt like an anti-magic spell. I don't think I'm capable of bypassing it in your body at the moment, so you're on your own until we leave."

Well, shoot. She'd better be a little more careful, then.

They entered another corridor of the castle. This room, however, was absolutely ginormous; even when looking straight up, it felt like she should've been seeing the open sky rather than a ceiling!

Of course, the centerpiece of the room was no less strange than the size of the place; the remains of some kind of stump sat in the very center, with pieces of long-destroyed architecture poking from the bare ground in some places. Crystalline shards littered the ground around the stump as if the rest of the tree had simply... shattered.

Emily treaded over the crystals, mentally thanking herself for wearing her sneakers as a noticeable crunch rose with every step. She turned, noticing Blueblood now standing off to the side, watching.

"Whatever destroyed the Treehouse of Harmony really did a number to it, didn't it?" Starlight's voice mused. "Even with its bigger size over the old Tree of Harmony, this thing looks like it didn't stand a chance."

She made her way deeper into the carnage. Here, the shards were far bigger, with some being nearly twice the size of the shoes she wore. It wasn't long, however, before she found herself standing at the center of the stump.

"Feel anything, Starlight?"

"Nope. Why?"

Emily shrugged. "I figured that you might have some kind of natural pull to this place or something. It definitely looks like the sorta place you'd be finding magical unicorns in."

She squat down, picking up one of the smaller crystals near her feet. Small, spindly cracks spiderwebbed through its center, betraying its fragility.

"King Blueblood--" the girl began, looking up from the gem, "--may I take one of these crystals with me?"

"WHAT?!" Starlight's voice roared in her head. "Are you out of your mind? That's a piece of the buckin' Treehouse of Harm--"

"E-excuse me?" Blueblood choked at the request, mirroring Starlight's shock. "You wish to... keep a piece of the Tree?"

Emily nodded, still cradling the crystal in her hand. "I'd like to study it for myself. Y'know, see the crystal structure, figure out what kind of materials it's made up of, stuff like that."

She breathed a mental sigh of relief for remembering at least some of last year's chemistry class.

"I... suppose you can," King Blueblood stepped a little closer, still remaining far from the majority of the shards littering the ground. "But what do you expect to find? My advisors and I have already amassed an extensive collection of research and findings on these shards."

A quiet groan came from Starlight's voice. "Emily, you have a death wish, don't you? Just... repeat after me: I wish to research the thaumatic capacity of the crystals in relation to their physical strength and structure."

Emily nodded, taking a deep breath. "I wish to research the traumatic capacity of the crystals in relation to their physical strength and structure."

"Thau-matic, not--" a sigh came from Starlight. "You know what, it was a load of gibberish anyway."

Blueblood blinked, cocking his head. His eyes turned to the crystals, then back to Emily. "Um... very well, then--" the stallion's eyes met hers. "I will permit it."

Wow, that worked?

"Throwing gibberish worked on his ancestors during my time advising Twilight, so I thought I'd might as well give it a go again."

So basically, Starlight just risked everything on the stupidity of the King. Neat.

"I can't tell if you're joking or being serious there."

"Both and neither," Emily grinned. "Anyway--" she stuffed the crystal into her pocket. "King Blueblood, what food do you recommend around this place?"

"I give up," Starlight's voice groaned again.


Short to say, hay-based food wasn't meant for human consumption. The salad was alright, though. At least now she didn't feel like she was going to starve to death. Also, having a chunk of crystal scraping against your leg for half an hour straight was not fun.

Emily sighed, falling onto the soft pillows of her new bed that was not inside a weird tree prison cell thing.

"So," Starlight's voice piped up. "The piece of the tree. What the actual buck were you thinking, Emi?! Those shards were once part of one of the most powerful structures in the world! You can't just selfishly take them!"

"Well, if you're saying that it's so powerful, then wouldn't it also be an amazing way to channel magic as well? C'mon, Starlight, lighten up a little!" Emily reached into her pocket, pulling out the crystal...s?

"Great, you broke it."

The girl frowned, setting the two faintly-violet halves on her bedsheets and reaching into her pocket again. This time, she pulled out a visibly-scuffed spoon.

"And there's your culprit," Starlight droned. "Well, I suppose that's one way to cut a crystal. What are you gonna do with two smaller crystals, then? I don't think there's enough left of either piece to shape it into anything all that usefu--"

"No, no..." Emily unzipped her backpack, rummaging inside it. The stick she'd used as a wand wasn't on the floor with her other things when she was picking them up, so the guards must've tossed it in with her books. "I've got a great idea for what to do with the smaller shards!" She overturned the bag, dumping everything onto the bedsheets. A grin spread across her face as the stick finally fell out. "I'll use it as a topper for the wand!"

"I--" Starlight's voice started. "I... actually, that's not too bad of an idea. I hate to say this, but that's actually some pretty sound logic coming from you. If the crystal works like any other magically-grown crystal that I've worked with, then it can hold a limited store of mana on top of what I already have myself. And... combined with the ability to direct a charge, it'd give the capability of amplifying every spe--"

"Okay, okay, I get it, I'm not as big of a doofus as you thought I was," Emily chuckled. "So, I think we should give our wand a name now, since we're making it stronger and stuff."

"O...kay? I mean--"

"Splinter."

"Huh?"

"Splinter," Emily repeated, holding up the stick. "That's a good name for a wooden wand, isn't it?"

"I guess."