• Published 10th Jun 2021
  • 1,949 Views, 151 Comments

Celestia Goes West - DungeonMiner



Retirement has not been kind to Celestia. Pushed by boredom, she disguises herself as an average pony, and she heads west. Unfortunately, she's picked up a traveling companion that was not a part of the plan.

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Chapter 7

Captain Crusty sighed as he watched his ship. The poor old stallion frowned as he glared out at the night sky. No clouds so far tonight, but he learned to trust his bones over his eyes a long time ago.

These ponies liked to talk about the “frontier” like it was a simple border, but all these ponies seemed to forget that the sea was wild. Nopony controlled the clouds or winds over the ocean waves, and they could appear over the horizon in a moment before unleashing a torrent. Some you could see coming hours away, others you had minutes.

Crusty could feel it, though. He felt the weather change in his bones these days, and tonight, they were screaming at him. Something unnatural was happening, something terrible and dark. He’d been feeling it all day, and after the first three hours, he called up the first mate, and they began to take shifts through the day.

Tonight could be dangerous.

The stars were out in force, and the moon stared down in a malicious sliver. He only knew the skies were clear from the thousands of dots of light, but the darkness could easily hide the truth.

Crusty piloted his ship, staring up at the sky.

The wind began to blow.

Crusty turned to face it, squinting his eyes as he stared into the wind.

A wall of clouds faced him.

His bones hadn’t lied to him yet.

---☼---

Sunny’s eyes snapped open.

Her cabin pitched wildly as she woke in the middle of the night. Thunder snapped outside, so loud it nearly drowned out the frantic ringing of the alarm bell. The entire cabin shifted, and Sunny was almost thrown from her hammock.

She jumped down to the floor of the cabin and nearly slammed face-first into her cabin door as the ship pitched under her hooves.

Sunny turned and face the porthole that opened into her room. A storm raged outside, and she gaped at the size of the waves. She stared, mouth open, before a massive wave slammed into the side of the ship. The porthole smashed, and glass and saltwater slammed into her, throwing her across the room.

She sputtered, water spewing from her mouth as she gasped for breath. The ship would sink at this rate. She needed to help the students get off the boat. With her magic, she grabbed her bag and tore the door to her cabin open.

She slammed it shut, standing in two inches of water in the hallway, and saw Marble get out of his own cabin. “We need to get the students to the lifeboats!” she yelled.

“I’ll head topside, see if I can do anything about the storm!”

Sunny nodded and rushed down the hallways, tearing open the doors. “Storm! Storm! The ship’s going down! Head to the lifeboats!” Ponies, dressed in nightcaps and dressing gowns, rushed to the stairs of the Crystal Flare to head up to the upper decks.

The alarm bell continued to ring as deafening thunder clapped and crashed in their ears, and lightning flashed bright white.

Sunny kept running, opening doors so hard she nearly tore them from their hinges. “Get up! Go! The ship’s starting to sink!”

Students began pouring out of their rooms, scrambling up for the stairs.

Sunny didn’t risk anything. She opened every door, checking every single room as she moved. She couldn’t risk the chance that somepony was still inside one of the rooms when—

A torrent of water slammed into her as she opened the next door. Gallons and gallons of water poured in, filling the poor paddleboat with more water. Sunny was nearly thrown from her hooves as the geyser of water slammed into the hallways, and she turned her telekinesis against it. She forced the door closed, pushing against it with all her might until the water’s streams became nothing more than high-pressure leaks at the very edges of the doors. She closed it shut and hoped that the ponies in that room were safe.

She pushed forward, running through the entire passenger deck. Sunny turned to the Engineering deck with the last door pried open and the previous passengers evacuated. The stairs were already flooded, and the ship was sitting low in the water. She wasn’t sure anypony was even down there anymore.

Without any other choice, she pushed her way up onto the top deck.

Rain pelted her in sheets. If not for the water that she faced below deck, she’d have been soaked in seconds. The students and teachers had latched onto a guardrail on the far side of the ship as the waves continued to crash over them, hanging on for dear life as water soaked their coats. Behind her, Captain Crusty held dearly onto the ship’s helm, obviously cursing loudly, despite being drowned out by the bell and the thunder.

“Captain! Captain!” Sunny called. “Captain, what do we do?”

“Da on’y t’ing ya can do!” he roared, almost laughing hysterically. “Git ta da lifeboats! Git outta ‘ere and inta da storm!”

“What?” Sunny asked.

“It’s yer on’y chance!” Crusty yelled. “Git out w’ile ya can!”

Sunny glanced up at the clouds and saw a small figure trying to fight the weather itself. Every time the pegasus tried to resist a single cloud, the storm thundered and grew stronger. A lightning bolt tore through the distant, flying figure with a deafening crack of thunder, and he began to drop to the ground at incredible speeds. Sunny cursed and reached out with her magic, plucking him out of the air as he fell and the ship pitched once more.

She pulled Marble close just as he began to wake up. “What happened?” he asked.

“No time!” She yelled. “We need to load the lifeboats!”

Marble shook his head and shakily got to his hooves as Sunny led him across the deck. The lifeboats, small ships that could seal shut, had been pulled up, a crew pony, clinging for his life on one of the winches to the side.

Every one of the ponies here had an hour of training on the first day at sea to get inside the lifeboats. Now that hour meant nothing simply because they couldn’t get over there with the storm thundering around them like this.

“Marble!” Sunny yelled over the wind. “Can you tie a knot?”

“Yes!” he replied.

Sunny pulled her rope out of her bag. “Tie this by the first boat!”

He nodded and grabbed the rope in his teeth before he shot across the ship. He worked quickly, tying the rope to the hoofrail by the door. “First lifeboat crew!” Sunny called.

A group of twenty ponies glanced up at her through the rain.

“Go! Go!” Sunny yelled, holding out the rope to them.

One of the ponies suddenly understood and grabbed onto the rope and began pulling herself up.

The first group of ponies began to move up the rope, holding onto it for dear life as the storm continued to rage. Marble caught on quick, and Sunny didn’t need to say a word as he began to help load up the first boat. Once they were all loaded, he shut the door, pulled the rope free, and moved to the next lifeboat before the first one splashed into the water.

“Second boat, go!” Sunny yelled down the line.

Again, the ponies began climbing up the rope, and again, they managed to climb into the lifeboat. The moment they were in, Marble sealed the door and moved to the next boat. The storm seemed to get wilder with each boat saved, and the waves grew higher in anger. Wood splintered with each crash, and soon the paddles were ruined.

“Last boat!” Sunny called as she worked on the rope.

Marble tied his end down, and the last group of passengers made their way to their final shelter.

“Captain! Captain, we have the last lifeboat!” Sunny called as the storm continued to rage.

“No ken do dere, Ms. Smiles!” Crusty called. “Da Oath o’ da sea says a Captain goes down wit ‘is ship.”

“Captain! She’s going to sink!”

“And Crusty stayed wit’ da Crystal Flare until dey both hit bottom!” The captain said in a sing-song voice. “Save yer’selves! Dis be my Oath!”

“Captain!” Sunny called again before lightning flashed so bright that only after-image of white against her vision before she lurched back.

Her rope went slack, and the mare nearly fell into the ocean before it snapped taut again. Sunny’s vision slowly cleared, and she glanced up to see Marble holding onto the hoof rail that had been connected to the lifeboat by the door.

The lightning bolt must have torn it free somehow and—

A monstrous wave crashed into the ship and forced Sunny down onto the deck. Her head slammed into the wood, and she felt the world spin, but she managed to stay conscious. The wave pulled back, away from the ship, and Sunny felt the gunwale sly past her reaching legs.

She was officially overboard.

Still holding onto the rope for dear life, she felt the cord snap tight in her hooves and glanced up to Marble holding on tight to the rail that the rope was still tied to. His wings flapped wildly, and he had his hindlegs braced against the gunwale, looking like a fisherman holding onto the line.

Crusty gave another nihilistic laugh.

And then Sunny saw the wave. It towered over the Crystal Flare and dwarfed the paddle boat.

Sunny’s mouth gaped at the size of it.

And then it crashed down on her, filling her mouth with salt water.

She tumbled in the sea, and she felt the rope in her hooves whip around crazily. Her mind spun, and she wasn’t sure what direction up was. She cast her Control Matter spell and forced a bubble of air to form in the dark waters, and she dropped to the bottom of the bubble.

She had a way up.

She closed the bubble and used another Control Matter spell to thrust herself up to the surface. She swallowed down air and glanced up to see the pitched and sinking form of the Crystal Flare.

The rope tugged in her hooves.

Her eyes went wide. “Marble’s on the other side!”

She pulled at the rope, tugging at a weight that had to be Marble. She reached the end of the fifty-foot rope, and the pegasus gasped for air.

Sunny glanced around. The storm still raged, but she could see the lifeboats off in the distance, floating to safety.

Time for some more magic.

She cast Control Matter again and forced the water around them to freeze in a perfect sphere.

Up to their knees in saltwater, they bounced and rolled on the ocean.

Sunny smiled.

“Wha-what happened?” Marble asked.

“We’re okay,” Sunny said. “We’re okay.”

“What happened?” he repeated.

“Water doesn’t act like other Matter spells,” she explained. “You can freeze it with Control, but it’ll melt on its own. We’ll be okay. Cold, but okay.”

---☼---

Luna glared at her twenty-sided die.

The others at the table snickered.

“Well?” Rolling asked, knowing full well what her die read.

“That would be a natural one,” she admitted.

Rolling smiled. “Well, it seems that Dreadmane, unfortunately, trips and falls straight onto the spike trap. Take…,” she paused as she rolled a die behind her game master screen. “Six damage.”

“Could I perhaps rage as I fall? It would certainly annoy Dreadmane enough that she tripped.”

“No, but good try.”

Caramel shook his head. So far, Luna had taken to the game like a fish to water. It almost surprised him how quickly she caught on. Maybe he should actually read the whole book and see what he learned.

“I’ll be right back,” he said, slipping away from the table before he began following the masking tape arrows that pointed to the restroom. He disappeared down the hallways and soon again found himself passing by hundreds of years of ancient art.

He shoved the intrusive thoughts of grabbing one to sell for money out of his head as he continued to walk down the halls. He would never get away with it if he tried, honestly. Luna and Celestia would know. There was no way they wouldn’t. He’d grab a chalice and be hunted down within moments of getting that into a pawn shop.

Even thinking about this was a stupid idea. Why was he even entertaining this thought? He kept walking, down the halls, and following the tape, moving up to the front of the house, with the massive windows that faced the front garden and the distant, infrequent flash of the paparazzi at the gate.

Another intrusive thought popped into his head. You could sell a crazy story about Lady Luna to them, maybe a scandal. They pay for that kind of thing, don’t they?

He pushed the thought aside and continued to the bathroom.

Where’s Celestia? Yet another thought that popped up in his head. Why did this keep happening to him? Why could his brain just sit still for a moment or two? He—

Where was Celestia? Luna very obviously lived here, but Caramel hadn’t seen any sign of the older sister. Maybe...maybe there was a story here—

No! Stop this! You’re here to play a game! You’re not here to do anything other than to play a game with everypony else. You’re not going to...sell just a little bit of info so that you could use it to help...you build a real life.

Caramel shook his head and continued on his way.

But that thought haunted him far longer than the chalice ever did.

---☼---

Marble shivered.

Sunny was right, they’d be safe, but Celestia’s tail, he was freezing. Slowly, more and more saltwater began to fill their little bubble, but they could see more of the outside with every drop off the ceiling.

Marble shook and shivered for hours as their tiny capsule bobbed across the waves, and he saw the orange glow of the rising sun pass him by an hour ago. He’d lost so much sleep because of this.

“We’re going to die out here,” a thought said in his mind. “This is how it ends, freezing to death in an ice casket, millions of miles from shore. Maybe the hippogriff sea ponies will find my body, sinking into the icy depths where who-knows-what lives. At the very least, though, my body will be wonderfully preserved by how bucking cold it is.”

He got up to move again. Sitting still with his back to one of the freezing ice walls only made him colder and more uncomfortable, but he didn’t have many options.

Sunny, meanwhile, kept her eyes on the walls. “We’re pretty thin,” she noted. She explained it clearly enough, ice melts better surrounded by water, and there was enough on both sides of the bottom of the sphere to make her worry.

“How thin?” Marble asked.

“Thin enough that we might need to spin the ball so this part’s above water.”

“How long can we keep doing that before the walls are too thin?”

Sunny didn’t answer him.

Lovely.

As Marble paced in circles, trying to warm himself however he could, Sunny glanced up. “Does that look green to you?” she asked.

Marble followed her hoof to a point on the horizon, where a green line was faintly visible through the refracted lens of ice. “Maybe?” he said, trying to keep his teeth from chattering.

Sunny glanced at it again before she stood. “Help me move the ball,” she said.

They both moved, digging their hooves into one of the walls and walking on the same side, rolling the floor from underneath them to the side. “That’s good,” Sunny said before reaching into her bag and pulling out an actual machete.

This mare really was going to rush out into the jungle.

She slammed the handle into the ice, chipping away at it before she carved a hole in the thinning ice. “It’s land!” she said with a smile.

Marble got up next to her, and he pressed his eye up to the small window to see a shoreline backed by tall, green trees. Relief flooded his veins, and he sagged back into the capsule. “I never thought I’d be so happy to see dirt!”

“I’ve got maybe just enough energy in me to push us toward the beach,” Sunny said, “but you’ll have to get us out. I’ll be too tired to barely move after all that.”

“I’m okay with that.”

Sunny’s horn lit up a bright, golden yellow, and Marble felt the icy sphere throttle its way toward the beach.

Marble couldn’t wait and already began using his hoof to tear at the hole Sunny carved a few seconds ago, ripping chunks off the sides and edges to make a larger and larger hole. Soon, he could stick his whole head through the opening and felt the air whip past his head.

It felt so warm.

The bubble bounced and skipped over the waves, gaining speed as Sunny pushed it with magic.

Marble just smiled as he watched the beach get closer and felt the wind warm his body.

“We’re almost there!” He said.

They were maybe a mile out, but with the magic pushing them, they’d make it in no time.

And then the capsule began to slow.

Marble ducked his head back inside to look at Sunny, who wavered on her hooves as she continued to push her magic to the very end. She forced it another second before collapsing right there in front of him and landing in the water.

Marble cursed and fished her out of the small pool, and she gasped for air, breathing like she just ran a marathon. “I needed,” she panted, “more sleep.”

Marble sighed and glanced at the window he carved into the side of the bubble. “I’ll get us the rest of the way,” he muttered before he began widening the hole even more. He chipped at the ice, tearing it apart before he cracked open a hole big enough to carry the unicorn through.

“Alright, Ms. Smiles,” he said, grabbing onto her. “Let’s go.”

Taking her in his hooves, he began flapping his wings, though he was cramped in the small space of the capsule. Nonetheless, he started lifting Sunny and himself off the icy floor and began the careful maneuvering to get them out of the sphere.

He spent far too long trying to get out, but luckily the time spent did loosen his wings up slightly, so they weren’t as stiff from the cold anymore. Now in the open air, Marble could finally begin to take them over. He tried to glide as often as he could to save some energy, but the long night and all the work he spent on the boat left him feeling exhausted.

But the end was in sight, at long, long last.

He pushed himself just a little bit harder as he came in for a landing on the shore and dropped Sunny about a foot before crashing into the rough, coarse, but warm and inviting sand.

He didn’t even try to keep his eyes open. He was asleep in seconds.