• Published 9th Jul 2020
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Apple Bloom's Mansion 4: The Castle of Death - Lucar



Apple Bloom is finally ready to fight Thanatos in his domain. But is she really?

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Chapter 4: Space Hijinks

The key from the cellar led the ponies to the first intersection of the West hallway, to the first door in the left wall of the hallway leading North. Thus, they entered a classroom full of ghosts, both young and old, sitting on chairs and learning 'how to scare someone to death'.

They all turned to look at them when they opened the door, exactly like that moment when you arrive late.

"Ah. Everyone, surprise test! Try to kill the filly with the bow with what you learned!" said the teacher happily.

Normally, students groan at this moment, but clearly those one couldn't as they mindlessly followed the teacher's instruction with their blank eyes. The ghosts separated and disappeared into the walls and the floor while a chilling wind blew from nowhere and blew the candlelights, plunging the room in darkness excepted for the light of the flashlights integrated in the Poltergusts (part of the Strobulb mode).

Silence fell in the room as the ponies looked around, searching for the ghosts, even using the DLD in case they turned themselves invisible.

"Mpf! If they think they'll scare us, they can dream!" said Scootaloo.

Hoofsteps began to be heard in the darkness, around them.

"Buuut I must admit, they're good. It would work, if I was less fearless," continued Scootaloo, her voice beginning to show the contrary.

A chair moved alone in the dark. Then, a child laughed.

Apple Bloom rolled her eyes. "Let's just get done with it already!" she shouted as she charged her Strobulb and gave a big flash, getting many ghosts dazzled and stopping their attempt to scare her to death. Apple Bloom then smirked, turned off her flashlight, and used the darkness and her visor in nightvision mode to creep toward the farthest ghost (the teacher) while the others began to capture the nearest ones. When she reached the emplacement of the ghost she targeted, she turned the flashlight back on, pointed up in front of her face, and said "Boo," making the ghost yelp in fear before she began to capture him.

When the room was emptied of ghosts and the candlelights were alight again, she giggled. "Ah fear no ghost. But Ah'm very good at scaring them. Ask Jump Scare."

In E. Gadd's side, many turned to look questioningly at the mentioned ghost who laughed sheepishly. "She's VERY good."

Back in the hallway, the key received in the classroom opened the second left door in it, and the ponies entered a room entirely empty excepted for a chandelier in the center, thankfully not dropping when they walked under it. Beside the door from which they entered, in the East side of the room, there were also three more doors, one in the North side, one in the West side, and one in the South side.

«Uh? According to the map, the South door should lead to the classroom, but there wasn't a door back there,» said E. Gadd. «Watch out, it's probably a trap door.»

«I remember,» said Luigi. «If it's a trap door, then you can destroy it with fire.»

«The DLD should work too,» said E. Gadd.

"Thanks," said Apple Bloom as she activated the DLD to make the door disappear. To everyone's surprise, however, the door didn't disappear. "Uh. it's a real door."

"What the heck?" said Little Ghost.

Applejack went to open the door, and suddenly, a wind caught everypony and forced them through the door which closed behind. They quickly recovered, and discovered that they were still in the room, but that they had somehow come out of the North door.

"Oh. I see. It's one of those rooms," said Little Ghost with a deadpan voice.

Suddenly, a little girl began giggling, the voice coming from nowhere. She then began to talk, almost whispering.

"Daddy was angry, so he left.
It was my fault, so I was down.
Mommy was right, I had to disappear.
So I left too.
I moved to the sunset.
Climbed the mountain.
And jumped the cliff.
This is where I am now."

The voice then began to repeat.

"What. The. Hay?" wondered Applejack.

«Is this how this filly died?» wondered Fluttershy sadly.

«Maybe it's just a message to give a clue of how to get out of this room,» said Twilight. «I hope...»

«I think it's the two,» said Smart Spirit. «This room is obviously a maze where you have to pass the doors in the right order to reach the end, and this filly must be using the way she died as the solution.»

"I think I understand. 'Daddy was angry, so he left'. 'Left', as in, the left door," said Sweetie Belle.

«Exactly!» said both E. Gadd and Smart Spirit.

"Okay but, uh... The left door from where we entered, or left, as in, the West door?" wondered Apple Bloom.

«Let's use the cardinal points first, it will be easier,» advised E. Gadd. «So, first, West. From there, it should be easy for you.»

Yeah, once the hidden solution was found, it was easy to understand.

'so he left': West
'so I was down': South
'Mommy was right': East
'So I left too': West.

After that, however, it was becoming a little tricky.

'I moved to the sunset' was obviously a figure of speech. The sun always set West.
'Climbed the mountain.' When you climb a mountain, you goes up. There, it corresponded to North.
'And jumped the cliff.' Same logic than with the mountain. You jump from a cliff, you go down. So, South.

Still, it was easy, and everypony found the full solution in less than a minute. So they passed the West door first, then the South door, then the East door. However, at this moment, ghosts appeared to impede their progression, and capturing them without losing track wasn't easy.

Two times West, more ghosts appeared. North, yet again more ghosts appeared, including a new, pegasus-like yellow ghost that coulp zap around like lightning, making him the fastest ghost encountered so far who could easily dodge their attacks. Teamwork still prevailed, and the ghost was captured.

They named the new ghost Zappy.

Finally, they moved South, and the ghost of a pink furred, yellow maned pegasus filly was now present, sitting in the center of the room.

"You found me!" cheered the filly. "My name is Little Candy! Nice to meet you!"

The ghost hunters didn't approach the filly despite her cheerful attitude. The ghosts in Thanatos' castle were either evil or controlled, so they knew not to trust this filly, even more when they saw that this filly clearly wasn't being controlled. She hadn't the eyes.

"This story, is it what happened to you?" still asked Sweetie Belle.

"Yup!" said Candy with a cheerful nod.

"Ya don't seem sad despite this," said Applejack.

"Oh, I was sad at first. But then, Lord Thanatos took me in, and now, I'm happy, because he's nice to me! And now, I'm gonna make him proud!"

Suddenly, a door appeared just under her, and she opened it before she passed it, the door closing and disappearing behind her. Then, many doors appeared all over the walls and the ceiling, many of them in weird angles. Candy then came out of a door in the North wall.

"I'm here!" she shouted before she closed the door. Another door then opened in the ceiling. "Nope! I'm here!" The door closed, and a door in the East wall opened. "Over there!"

Suddenly, a door opened in the West wall, and Candy flew out of it and charged right at Apple Bloom. Apple Bloom barely reacted in time to avoid her, and the ghost filly disappeared in another door before the ghost hunters could activate their Poltergusts.

"She's fast..." muttered Scootaloo.

"And she can come out of any of the doors," said Apple Bloom. "Everypony keeps an eye on a different wall. Little Ghost, you watch the ceiling."

"Roger!"

But then, all the doors opened at once, and ghosts began to come out of them, forcing the ponies to fight back, and so, to stop watching the doors. It didn't help that Candy continued to give false warnings, tricking them again and again before she charged at Apple Bloom again without warning, this time with a knife. Apple Bloom dodged her again, but she still got a small cut, and she wasn't able to catch Candy before she disappeared behind a door again.

She was ready for Candy's third charge. When the pink filly came out of a random door, Apple Bloom unleashed a big burst of air against the floor, creating a small shockwave that stopped Candy's charge and pushed her back a little along with all the other ghosts who were too close. Before Candy could fly away, Apple Bloom activated her Poltergust and caught her. Having some pity for the poor filly who had been manipulated, she didn't slam her, instead waiting for a Power Surge to do the job.

When Candy was captured, all the doors disappeared excepted one in the East wall, the original door. After that, it was just a matter of capturing the few ghosts that remained, and the key appeared.

"We'll have to find a way to convince this filly to stop following Thanatos. Ah'm sure she's redeemable," said Apple Bloom.

«She just wants love,» said Fluttershy. «I'm sure if we're here for her, she will listen to us and stop following Thanatos.»

«Since you're now a giant plushy, it should be easy for you,» said Pinkie with a giggle. «A hug, and she won't leave you. I want to hug you each time I look at you. You just look so huggable!»

«Uuuh... Th-thank you, Pinkie...»

"Now, to the next room," said Apple Bloom as she opened the exit door, key in her possession.

A few Wisps, a gargoyle, a Pyro, and two Shadows later, they reached the door that the key opened. They just had to go a little North from the previous door, then West, and it was the only door in the left wall.

When Apple Bloom opened the door, she stopped midway entering the room, staring at what was in it.

Furniture floating in the air without apparent reason. Everything floated. The table, the closets, the chairs, even the carpet. Everything.

One by one, they entered the room, looking in wonder at the floating objects when, suddenly, Apple Bloom was grabbed by Little Ghost and was dropped on the floating table. Just in time because, the next instant, spikes came out of holes they hadn't seen in the floor, entirely covering the ground. Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and Applejack were impaled as a result, and while this didn't really affect them, it got them stuck in place. However, this did nothing to the clones of goo.

"Come on!" shouted Sweetie Belle as she tried to free herself.

"Are ya alright everypony?" asked Apple Bloom.

"Don't worry, we didn't feel anything," said Applejack who also tried to free herself. "Consarnit!"

Apple Bloom nodded, then thanked Little Ghost before she looked around, seeing ghosts appearing. Throwers, Hidders, Icys, and an unicorn ghost. Only ghosts who could attack from a distance, so remaining out of reach. This left Little Ghost and the clones of goo as the only ones able to attack them directly. Well, at first. Apple Bloom turned herself into a ghost to join in the fun, and Sweetie Belle used her singing to take control of an Icy. At least, the others still could attack by firing elemental projectiles and Poltergun beams with their Poltergusts. Fire was particularly effective against the Icys.

The capture of the ghosts still took a little too long and Apple Bloom was forced to return on the table. Still, she discovered that she could use the air expelled by the Poltergust to move the table, and she used this to approach the remaining ghosts. The table was small however, so she had to be careful while capturing them to not be dragged over the edge, all the while avoiding whatever the ghosts threw or fired.

When the last ghost was captured, the key appeared on the table, and the spikes returned in their holes, freeing Sweetie Belle and the others. It still took a few seconds for them to regenerate the holes the spikes left behind. Once Apple Bloom took the key, she jumped from the table to join the others.

«You know, I wonder why they don't do more rooms with floor entirely covered in spikes. That's, like, the most effective trap ever. It almost got Apple Bloom,» said Rainbow Dash.

"Thanatos obviously doesn't want things to be too unfair for me," answered Apple Bloom. "It wouldn't be fun for him if there wasn't a way for me to survive. For him, it's a game, not an execution."

Applejack huffed. "He won't have fun for long."

Little Ghost nodded. "This 'game' will be his last."

After exiting the room, the key led them West, then at an intersection, South, to a door just at the left.

The new room was even weirder than the previous one. It was, like, six rooms in one, and it actually reminded of that room from the eleventh floor of the hotel, the one that had furniture on the floor, on the walls, and on the ceiling. It was pretty much the same thing here, tables, closets, vases and so on on every surfaces.

And as soon as the last pony entered the room, the door disappeared and the room began to turn, taking everypony by surprise. Before long, the ponies were forced to walk on one of the walls (now turned floor), and as it continued to turn the room changed direction. That was then that ghosts appeared, including many Huggers awaiting on all the surfaces for somepony to walk on them. Shadows were also present, as well as a couple of Zappys.

The ghost of a minotaur also appeared, the ghost holding a huge shield that he used to protect himself from the Poltergusts and to try to crush Apple Bloom against a wall in the chaos. Of course, this ghost had an easy weakness: he could only face one direction, so while Apple Bloom gained his attention and forced him to protect himself behind the shield, Applejack approached from the side and caught the ghost. It still wasn't easy with the room constantly turning and changing direction. At least, the furniture didn't move, slide, or drop, mainly playing the role of obstacles to impede the captures and to use as cover against projectiles.

«This room is making me dizzy...» said E. Gadd.

«It turns and turns and turns...» said Pinkie.

Thankfully, when the last ghost was captured, the room put itself back to its original position and stopped turning before the door reappeared along with the key.

"That was special," said Apple Bloom.

"And crazy," said Sweetie Belle. "How could the room turn?"

"Don't question. The answer is simple: ghosts," replied Apple Bloom.

"It's like magic. It's the answer to everything that's weird," laughed Scootaloo. "Actually, what's the difference between ghost powers and magic?"

«I can answer that!» shouted Smart Spirit. «Magic comes from our manapool, ghost powers come from our ghost energy. Both are linked to our soul, and in the end, can be used in a similar way. However, while magic depends of a lot of factors that princess Twilight would best explain, ghost energy has more to do with the power of your soul. For your info, you aren't forced to become a ghost to use ghost energy. Some gifted ponies can use mind powers that have nothing to do with magic, and it's a form of ghost power. You know, putting things on fire with your mind, being able to see with the eyes closed, telepathy, that kind of stuff.» Smart Spirit then stared at Little Ghost. «I'm surprised you never use that last one actually. You can communicate with everypony without problem.»

Little Ghost shrugged. "I prefer the more direct way. But I suppose that if we need to be stealthy, I could use it."

«Anyway,» continued Smart Spirit. «There's a main difference between magic and ghost powers. Magic can only be used by the ones who can use it. You will never see a donkey use magic for example, unless they have a magical artefact that allows them to use it. Ghost powers, however, can be used by all ghosts, no matter their origin. After, it all depends of how much ghost energy they have.»

"Translation: magic is racist, but not ghost powers," giggled Little Ghost.

Twilight's eye visibly twitched. Many ghosts laughed in the background.

The ghost hunters exited the turning room and followed the key's arrow, which led them South to the intersection leading to the West wing, then East toward a door at the left. To their surprise, however, the door led to a closet pretty much like the one back in the mess hall.

And it was as empty of ghost and key as the other. Only a few janitor stuff.

"Okay, now what?" asked Scootaloo.

Apple Bloom looked deeper into the closet. "Wait, there's a T-shaped hole in the back. AJ, give me the T thingy."

"Here ya go," said the mare as she gave the object.

Apple Bloom took it, then placed it in the hole. The next instant, the back wall of the closet opened like a door, revealing only darkness behind.

«Ah, I was wondering. There was a big hole in the map, the closet was too small to fill it and there weren't any other doors. It meant two possibilities: either it was a room only accessible by stairs, or it was a secret room,» informed E. Gadd.

The ponies entered the room, using the flashlights to light the way. But the light didn't help much, only showing more darkness, and the vision modes of the visors didn't work either. Worst, the map started glitching. No way to know where exactly they were. What was strange was that despite the darkness, they could still perfectly see each others even without the lights. And they were sure they should have reached a wall by now.

Then, there was a flash.

And darkness was suddenly replaced by...

A big maze of stairs and doors in all directions. Some of the staircases and doors were on their side or upside down, and some even moved!

Weirdest room so far, and by far. Space was already badly maltreated in some of the previous rooms, but this, it took the cake.

A bunch of Goosts appeared to block different paths with their big, fat gooish body. And to make matter worse, the ghost hunters were now somehow separated on different paths, even the clones of goo.

Apple Bloom looked at her sister and her friends one by one. Applejack was a few meters up to her left, on a staircase on its side. Sweetie Belle was at her right, on a staircase upside down. She couldn't see Scootaloo from where she was, but she heard her voice coming from below her. As for Little Ghost, she was actually floating in the air between a few staircases, trying to join somepony, but because of the distorted space she was finding herself unwillingly changing direction and would even float upside down sometimes. As a result, she was totally disoriented until she decided to settle on a staircase.

«Goodness gracious! That's some advanced and powerful space manipulation there,» said E. Gadd.

"We shouldn't have expected less from this castle full of powerful ghosts," said Apple Bloom.

«Try to find the exit. I'm sure that if one of you find it, this maze will disappear,» instructed E. Gadd.

«You may have to capture the ghost controlling this space however, if there's one,» said Smart Spirit.

"Ya'll heard them, girls. Let's find the exit," said Apple Bloom to the others.

After a round of agreements, Apple Bloom began climbing the stairs. She quickly captured a Goost with the help of the red mode, then reached a door. She then got an idea and punched the side of the door, creating a small crack.

"Girls, find a way to mark the doors you pass through."

«Oh! So we know if somepony already passed through the door! Good idea!» said Sweetie Belle.

After that, Apple Bloom passed the door and came out on another staircase, this one having a part that moved to link to various other staircases. Thankfully, the maze wasn't that big, and after a few minutes of random exploration, Apple Bloom found the exit door. She appeared on a lone staircase that seemed to go infinitely up, surrounded in darkness.

When she looked back, she panicked. There was literally a wall of purple with a big eye and a big mouth advancing, the mouth devouring the staircase.

"Oh, horseapple!" shouted Apple Bloom before she ran up the stairs. She quickly calmed down however to think of how to get out of this situation and defeat this ghost wall.

A wall with a big eye. She may have something.

She charged the Strobulb to its maximum, and flashed it at the wall. As she hopped, the wall screeched as it closed its eye, stopping advancing. Apple Bloom took the occasion to fire electricity at it, hopping to weaken the ghost enough to eventually reveal a weakness that she could use to capture it, because there wasn't any ghost tail visible for her to catch (and the tongue wouldn't work this time).

The Wall screeched in pain but eventually recovered and began to advance again. So Apple Bloom repeated the process of running while charging her Strobulb before flashing it at the eye. She then fired electricity again until the ghost recovered for the second time. This went on for a few minutes before the wall simply melted because of the electricity, leaving behind only a small, barely visible purple ghost with a single eye and a mouth. The ghost panicked and attempted to escape, but Apple Bloom caught it before it could, and since it was already weakened, she captured it very easily. She didn't even need to slam it or to use a Power Surge.

Almost as soon as the ghost was captured, the area flashed, and everypony appeared back in the closet, the backwall now closed and a key now present on the floor.

"Uh. So, somepony found the exit?" asked Sweetie Belle.

"Me. But Ah'd to fight a literal ghost wall that tried to eat me," said Apple Bloom.

Little Ghost raised an eyebrow. "A ghost wall?"

"Thanatos created some really weird ghosts," replied Apple Bloom to this. "But electricity did the job against it."

"What next? A ghost floor? A ghost ceiling?" wondered Scootaloo.

"Eh. Why not a whole ghost room?" laughed Applejack.

"The worst part's that, after this, Ah really believe we can encounter a ghost room," said Apple Bloom with a roll of her eyes.

Author's Note:

Meet Little Candy and The Wall. For The Wall, I was inspired by this boss from Terraria: