• Published 5th Sep 2012
  • 784 Views, 9 Comments

Ember and the Orb - Void Chicken



A filly seeks out an ancient treasure.

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3
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Chapter 2

Ember and Stargazer unrolled the scroll on a desk in the corner of the fillies’ bunkhouse.

“Here, look at this part.” The pegasus indicated a passage with her hoof.

Ember began to read. “Masked by the watery curtain of the Ruacanter Falls, a concealed passage lies in wait. ‘Lies in wait’? What is it, an animal?” She cleared her throat. “Within, you will find a great treasure, placed by The Ruler of the Heavens, Mightiest of all Ponies, Sovereign Princess of the Great Eternal Lamp of the Sky. What?”

“I think it means Princess Celestia.”

“I guess. Beyond the secret passageways is a treasure with value beyond imagining. Not gold nor silver nor gems will you find, but the Princess’s Orb. Bestowed with the power of the Sun, the Princess’s Orb will grant the power and abilities of a Princess to any pony who grasps it. The Princess’s Orb- sheesh can’t he shorten this thing’s name just once? The Princess’s Orb is guarded well, so be wary any who seek it.” Ember blinked. “Huh.”

“A lot of this doesn’t make sense.” Stargazer scratched her head. “I mean, why would Princess Celestia put something that powerful out in the middle of nowhere? Wouldn’t some vault in Canterlot work better? And who wrote this? How did this guy know where the orb is and why didn’t he get it himself? He even made a map to the place.” She pointed at a crude drawing of the falls, the cave’s location circled.

“Who knows,” Ember said. “But I know one way to find out: let’s see if it’s real!”

“Really now? I find an old scroll written by some kook and you want to go spelunking?”

“But if it’s real, one of us can become a princess! Isn’t that worth a try?”

“I don’t know...” Stargazer paused. “It sounds dangerous...”

“It’ll be worth it. And it can’t hurt to take a look behind the falls. It’s starting to get dark; we can sneak out after lights-out and go when nopony’s looking.”

“Just a look. But if we get in trouble I’m telling them you came up with it.”

Ember smiled. “That’s the spirit!”

---

The Ruacanter Falls scattered the moonlight across the cliff face. The air was thick with the spray, as well as the roar, of the falling water.

“If the map was right,” Ember yelled over the sound of the falls, “the cave should be up there.”

“See? There’s nothing there.”

“Wait. Look at that outcropping, where that bush is sticking out. Doesn’t it kind of look like a cave?”

“No, it... it can’t be a cave. Can it?”

“It is! The scroll was right! There’s a cave there! The orb must be inside!”

“But there’s no path. How are we supposed to get up there?”

---

The two fillies snuck towards the boys’ bunkhouse. Around back, a blue colt was sleeping on a cloud about six feet off the ground.

“He knows how much I hate it when he sleeps in the air like that,” Stargazer whispered. “How are we going to wake him up?”

“I have a plan...”

---

Stargazer, rearing up on Ember’s back, gingerly grasped Thunderbolt’s cloud, and pulled it down to ground level.

Ember cleared her throat. “Thunderbolt,” she whispered.

The colt groaned and rolled over.

“Thunderbolt, it’s me... Rainbow Dash.”

“Mmrh... Rainbow... Dash...”

Stargazer suppressed some giggles.

“That’s right, the captain of the Wonderbolts. I saw your flying, and I’m really impressed. In fact, I think I’ve found my newest Wonderbolt. Why don’t you come over here and let me sign you up...?”

“Rainbow...” Thunderbolt slid towards Ember, and off the side of the cloud. He hit the ground with a thud.

“Ow! Wha? Where?” He looked up at two giggling fillies. “Why you! I was having a good dream, too!”

“Really? I wouldn’t know anything about that.” Ember smiled, triggering another fit of giggles from Stargazer. “Anyways, we need wings. And you did such a good job last time.”

Thunderbolt climbed back onto the cloud. “Find somepony else.”

“I’ll give you my allowance for next week,” Stargazer offered.

“No.”

“I’ll have Mom Strawberry bake some apple cookies and I’ll give you a quarter, no, half of them,” Ember said.

“No.”

“I’ll tell Mom and Dad about that trick you did with the cumulonimbus.”

Thunderbolt’s eyes widened. “What? When did you find out about my quadruple electric backflip?”

“Just now. But now I really can tell them.”

Thunderbolt shut his eyes and gritted his teeth. “All right, fine. I’ll help you with whatever if you keep your mouth shut about the quadruple electric backflip. Promise?”

“Promise!”

---

Three foals stood just inside a cave. The moon’s light reached only a short distance in, but Ember could tell that the floor was unnaturally smooth. A series of extinguished torches lined the rough wall, leading further into the dark passage.

Thunderbolt panted heavily. “Remind me to never carry an earth pony again.”

Ember Flame scoffed. “Don’t you know it’s rude to comment on a mare’s weight? But that’s all we needed from you. We can find the treasure on our own from here.”

“Treasure? What treasure?”

Stargazer didn’t look at him. “The Princess’s Orb. Anypony who takes it becomes a princess.”

Ember finished, “But it’ll be dangerous, so we’ll understand if you want to just go back to the camp where it’s safe.”

Thunderbolt quickly glanced at his sister. “Are you calling me a coward? I’m as brave as any pony. I’m coming with you. Besides if I don’t, you’ll just have to wake me up when the dodo gets stuck again.”

“Fine. But it’s dark, so we’ll need light.”

Ember took a pair of torches off of their holsters on the cave wall. She tossed one to the pegasus pair. A few sparks from her tinderbox had her torch lit without issue. She turned to the siblings.

“I can’t get this lousy tinderbox to work!” Stargazer said.

“You’re lighting a torch with a tinderbox?” Thunderbolt commented. “And you call yourself a pegasus? Give me your water.”

He swooped down, snatching Stargazer’s canteen and dumping it out on the ground.

“Hey! What was that for?”

Thunderbolt stuck his hoof into the puddle, pulling out a small cloud. He compressed it into a wad of black fluff. “See? What you do is put it by the torch and hit it like this.” He hit the cloud, but nothing happened.

Stargazer just glared at him.

“Like... this...” He kept punching the cloud. “Come on... spark... geez, Mom makes this look so easy. Just... light...”

Ember walked over and lit their torch with hers.

“I was going to get it eventually!” Thunderbolt said.

“And what about my water?” Stargazer pointed out.

“The waterfall, duh.” Thunderbolt took the empty canteen, and flew it over to the wall of water. He held it under the flow. In an instant, the force of the falling water ripped the canteen out of his hooves, sending it out of sight.

“Way to go, Thunderdolt,” Stargazer said. “Now what are we going to do for water?”

Ember moved between the siblings. “Knock it off. My canteen will still last for the three of us, as long as we don’t take too long in here.”

“Because somepony left his supplies at camp.”

Ember waved her hoof. “Settle down. We have a cave to explore, remember?”

She picked up her torch and walked deeper into the passage.

Stargazer glared at her brother. “You’d better not do anything stupid and get us into trouble, Thunderdolt.”

“So what? Like Mom says, it’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission.”

“She said that? Our mom?”

---

After a short walk, the rough cave transitioned into a carved corridor, big enough for adult ponies to walk single-file, or for two foals to walk side-by-side. The foals walked through the pool of torchlight, the only thing they could see.

A short distance ahead, a glimmer caught Ember’s eye. Walking up to it, she saw several vertical sheets of rusted metal protruding from the walls. Each was about a foot tall, and spanned nearly the width of the corridor. Ember could see several rust-lined holes that years of neglect had eaten away. She extended a hoof towards the sharp edge lining the bottom of the nearest sheet, but thought better of it.

Stargazer held her torch up; each blade jutted out of a slot in the stone wall.

“A trap... Ember, maybe this isn’t a good idea. I don’t think we should be here.”

Ember turned around. “Are you kidding? This just means there’s something worth protecting in here! Something old! Look at these things!” Ember bucked the nearest blade, which snapped off, sending a clattering sound echoing throughout the tunnel. “We can’t stop now!”

Ember hopped onto the blunt top edge of the next, still intact, wall blade. Using her tail to balance, she gingerly sprang from one to the next. Stargazer hesitantly followed her across the tops of the trap pieces. Thunderbolt rolled his eyes and flew over the arrangement.

The trio rounded a corner and entered a sizeable room. Etched lines crisscrossed the floor. Strange carvings adorned the walls. Along the far wall, five passageways awaited them.

Stargazer looked from one to another. “What do we do now?”

Ember walked to the second passageway from the right, briefly sticking her head in. She walked to the one on the far left, looking down it. She returned to the room, paused, and fell back onto her haunches. “I... don’t know. We can’t split up, and these are probably full of traps and pits and things.”

Stargazer looked at the mess of lines carved into the floor. “This has to be a clue... but I can’t make sense of it. We’re in way over our heads. And I was starting to think that we just might have been able to find the Princess’s Orb, too. Urgh!” She walked to the nearby wall, grunted in frustration, and bucked it as hard as she could.

The stonework crumbled. Stargazer lept out of the way as the blocks fell, revealing a series of large stationary gears. The largest exposed gear fell out of the wall and shattered against the floor.

“Good work, Stargazer!” Ember said.

“Must have gotten that from Dad,” Thunderbolt commented under his breath. He spoke up, “All right, let me take care of part two.” He flew over to where the gear used to sit, wound up, and bucked the remaining wall. A coat of dust fell, but the stonework stood. Thunderbolt bucked again and again to no avail.

Meanwhile, Ember climbed the remains of the gear and situated herself below the pegasus colt. She kicked with her left hind leg, and the wall fell away.

“Bah,” Thunderbolt scoffed. “It’s only because you’re an earth pony that you were able to do it. And I softened it up too, yeah.”

Ember retrieved her torch. “Just come on, I think this is the other end of the maze.”

---

The corridor opened up into a large room, its walls and far end too distant for the foals’ torches to reach. Away in the darkness, they heard the unmistakable noise of falling water. A narrow, yet winding bridge marked the way through. On either side was a short fall onto long spikes. Among the bases of these spikes were pieces of sheet rock, adorned with unusual symbols. Similarly indecipherable symbols were also carved into the path through the room.

Stargazer looked along the path, and over its edge. “There used to be a whole floor here... the symbols must have some pattern to them. Get it wrong, and you fall through. I think we’re getting close.”

Ember piped up. “Good thing this one’s been solved for us. Thunderbolt, you go first.”

“Why me?”

“‘Cause you can fly around and make sure we’re on the right path. Now get going.”

“All right I’ll check the place out.”

“Not what I had in mi—”

Thunderbolt flew off into the darkness. Soon, the fillies could only see the spot of light from the torch he was carrying.

“Hey there’s this waterfall here and a busted waterwheel!”

Stargazer called out, “Thunderbolt!”

“Huh, there are these nets on the wall, I wonder what these are for.”

Stargazer’s eyes widened a little. “They must... Thunderbolt! Get back here!”

“Why?”

“Think about it, Thunderdolt! If you made a room like this, how would you stop a pegasus from cheating?”

“I dunno, launch a net... at...”

Two seconds later, Thunderbolt skidded to a stop next to the two fillies.

“Way to go, Thunderdolt.” Stargazer smacked him on the back of his head. “Try thinking before you go zooming through a trap-filled room next time!”

Ember cut in, “I’m sure the trip lines are all rotted away anyways. Come on, the Orb can’t be too much farther.”

The three foals carefully made their way across the room.

---

Ember Flame helped Stargazer down from on top of a large boulder that had somehow become lodged in the passageway. A short way’s forward the path opened into another large room. A field of spikes greeted the foals. Only the first few feet of floor next to each wall offered safe footing.

“We have to go around, I guess,” Ember said.

Stargazer held up her torch. “I don’t think we do...”

Ember noticed a yellow sparkle in the center of the room. “Is that it? Thunderbolt, go check it out. And watch for trip wires!”

Thunderbolt flew to the object. “Score! It totally is! And since I’m the only one who can fly to it, the Princess’s Orb should be mine.”

“What?” Stargazer said. “How is that fair?”

“Well if you want it, fly on over here and get it, dodo.”

Stargazer buzzed her wings. “Why you...!”

Ember spoke up, “Now, now, Stargazer, if he wants the orb, he should have it.”

Stargazer looked wide-eyed at Ember. “What?! How can you say that?”

“Because it makes a pony into a princess. And if Thunderbolt wants to be a princess, then he can be one.”

Stargazer laughed. “Yeah, Thunderbolt! You can be a pretty pony princess! Princess Thunderbolt!”

Ember joined in, “Princess Thunderbolt, you can be so pretty! We can have a sleepover and give you a makeover and have pillowfights! Pretty Pony Princess Thunderbolt!”

The two fillies broke down laughing.

Thunderbolt flew back to the room’s entrance, sat down, and crossed his forelegs. “Fine! I didn’t want that stupid rock anyways.”

“So much for Princess Thunderbolt.” Ember giggled. “How do we get the Orb though?”

“Hm... There has to be a way through...” Stargazer began walking around the edge of the room, Ember close behind. Ember stepped over a broken floor tile, glancing down as she passed. A set of gears sat in their mountings, leading to some mechanism attached to a nearby set of spikes. The gear chain continued out of sight, under the tiles beneath her hooves.

Stargazer interrupted Ember’s observation. “Look!”

Ember noticed a strip of floor free of spikes, leading from the wall directly opposite the entrance to the pedestal holding the Princess’s Orb. The strip of empty floor had a pattern of holes in it. Stargazer leaned over, looking down the holes.

“Ha!” She jumped onto the floor. “Come here Ember and look, no spikes in these! I bet whoever made this little pressure-plate spike trap didn’t expect anypony to try a straight line right in the back!”

The two approached the pedestal. Atop sat a smooth black granite sphere the size of a bowling ball. Ember turned the Orb around. On its face was an inlaid gold circle, with eight spirals in bronze around it.

“That’s Princess Celestia’s cutie mark... this has to be it.”

Stargazer looked at Ember. “So... which one of us gets it?” She paused. “I think you should, Ember. Since you’re, you know, an earth pony.”

“So?” Ember turned to Stargazer. “I like being an earth pony.”

“But if I get it, I’ll only get a horn. You’ll get a horn and wings.”

“Princesses are part earth pony, too.” She reared up and spread her forelegs. “You’ll be able to lay on your back in the fields with me, and feel the sun on the grass like I do.”

“But I’ll be old enough to fly one day on my own. You’ll be able to fly with me, up in the clouds, and see the stars from higher than you can as an earth pony. Also... you’ve had a harder life than I have. You lost your parents, after all.”

“I have Moms Petal and Strawberry.”

“I mean, your real parents.”

“They’re real enough for me.”

“I just.. can’t imagine losing Mom and Dad and having to spend my life in an orphanage like you did. You deserve it more than I do, Ember. Go ahead.”

“All right. If you really mean it.”

Ember swallowed. The orb sat on its pedestal, waiting to be claimed. Ember slowly reached out. She gently lifted the orb, hooking her foreleg around it and pulling it to her chest.

Ember closed her eyes and waited. She still felt like herself. She opened her eyes and looked at her back. It was still bare. She set down the Orb and felt her forehead. It was still smooth. Ember gave the Princess’s Orb a tap with her hoof. The Orb rolled a short distance across the floor.

Ember picked up the Orb, holding it in front of her. Celestia’s cutie mark shimmered in the torch light.

"I wonder why it isn't working,” Stargazer said. “The scroll said you would become a Princess."

"I don't know either. Maybe we should just get back to camp before anypony wonders where we went, or Thunderbolt gets too bored. Ready to go back through all those deadly traps?"

"Yeah, let's get out of here."

---

The train chugged its way through the valley, carrying a school’s worth of foals and their memories, including three with a very unique memory. One filly sat in a train car, watching the landscape pass by. In addition to her backpack, she was accompanied by a pot with a collection of purple flowers, and a ball wrapped in a cloth.

As the train began to slow on its approach to Baltimare, the valley walls fell away, letting the rays of the rising sun shine onto Ember’s seat. On a whim, Ember unwrapped the Princess’s Orb, allowing the sun emblazoned on it to meet the sun in the sky. Princess Celestia’s greatest possession shone its power into the rocky sphere. Ember held the Orb close, but she remained an earth pony.

The squeal of the train’s brakes quieted, and an array of waiting parents appeared outside the window. Ember wrapped the Princess’s Orb up again, gathered her things, and left.

Outside, two pegasus foals jumped into their mother’s waiting hooves. Ember found the ponies she was looking for.

“Mom Petal! Mom Strawberry!” Ember ran to Strawberry’s side. Her mother wrapped a foreleg around her.

“Hey there,” Strawberry Blossom said. “How was camp?”

“It was the greatest camping trip ever! I even got you some purple foxtails for the farm, Mom Petal.”

Strawberry looked at the sphere under the cloth. “And what do you have there?”

Ember looked at the Princess’s Orb, bestowed with the power of the Sun, the greatest treasure of the Ruacanter Falls, and perhaps of all Equestria.

“Nothing much, just a souvenir I found and decided to pick up.”

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Comments ( 5 )

Told you it was just two chapters. Also thanks for reading my silly little OC adventure fic.

Just 2? You evil son of a pony! Nice cliffhanger ending. A fun little tale

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...


It's over already?!?

So they go to an ancient, trap-filled ruin only to find that all of the traps have been disabled by the relentless march of time...
...
...
:twilightoops:
...
...
...
Wait a minute! :rainbowhuh:
How dare you defy the tradition of a thousand adventure stories! :flutterrage:
Daring Do is probably off crying in a corner somewhere. :fluttershysad:

Awwww, no more? Sigh. Loved it, despite the brevity.

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