• Published 24th Jan 2013
  • 1,096 Views, 58 Comments

The Elements - hell00001



Celestia and Luna have gone into exile under Discord's tyrannical rule, and now struggle to find a way to stop the draconequus before he can gain the full chaotic power of the Element of Chaos.

  • ...
3
 58
 1,096

Chapter 4: Dawn Breaks

The Elements Chapter 4

Black clouds rolled across the sky in the early hours of the morning, cutting through the mountain tops heading east. The moon could not penetrate through the gloomy sky, which stretched for miles in every direction and completely encased the entire Equestrian Plains in darkness.

No creature was in sight, and not even the crickets that echoed during the nights were playing their songs. The air was still and lifeless, with only the sound of the soft patter of hoofsteps walking along a dirt road making its way through the night air. Celestia regarded the night with unease, her eyes darting in every direction while her wing muscles clenched powerfully together. Her tail swished back and forth slightly with each step she took.

The Drackenridge Mountains rose to the left of her, looming overhead with their massive, snow-capped peaks. The mountains jutted out of the ground like enormous arrowheads, piercing their way past the low-hanging, dark clouds. Their slopes were devoid of any life aside from the occasional small evergreen tree. Instead, they were gray and jagged, rocks sticking out from the sides of the mountains like thorns of their own.

Celestia squinted up towards one of the mountains just below the clouds. She spotted a hole carved into the side of the peaks with a faint light escaping from within. The light flickered slightly, and Celestia quickly cantered up next to Moonlight Sonata and nudged her side. Moonlight glanced over at Celestia.

“Look up there,” Celestia whispered, nodding her head in the direction of the mountain.

Moonlight rotated her head to face where Celestia had nodded, and her head slightly bobbed side to side as she was scanning. Finally, she stopped moving, and continued to stare up at the hole in the side of the mountain. Celestia stared, too, and both ponies stopped walking.

“That cave could be home to a dragon,” Moonlight hissed.

“Or sheltering Flutterponies,” Celestia suggested, resuming their walk along the road. “We had best be on the lookout. Their skin will blend in easily with this night.”

Moonlight fell in behind Celestia. The dark clouds continued to pass quickly overhead, their puffy shapes rolling and changing as they fell victim to the winds. Celestia looked up at the sky, straining her eyes to see through the darkness at the clouds above. A raindrop fell onto her nose, and she shivered from the touch. Another raindrop tapped her ear, and then another touched her on the tip of her wings.

Moonlight looked up towards the sky and said, “Ever since Discord began rampaging through Equestria, the Equestrian weather teams have been unable to properly control the weather. Clouds roam as they please.”

“We had best find some shelter, then,” Celestia said, changing their pace from a walk to a brisk trot. “This doesn’t look like an ordinary storm, and it would be best if we weren’t caught when the worst comes to pass.”

Celestia and Moonlight came to a bend that twisted around some small evergreen trees, and they stopped in their tracks. They quickly leapt to the side behind the cover of the trees, pausing only for a moment to spot two Flutterponies and an earth pony mare ahead of them. The mare was cornered against a rock on the side of the road.

“What are those Flutterponies doing to that mare?” Celestia asked, peeking through the trees.

Moonlight peered with Celestia through the trees. The rain started to soak through their coats, and Celestia’s pink mane drooped over one of her eyes as she stared at the two Flutterponies.

“Whatever it is, it can’t be good,” Moonlight said, stepping back from the trees. “We should try to move closer.”

Celestia and Moonlight laid their bodies close to the ground and began to crawl closer to the Flutterponies. The tall grass kept their bodies hidden as they slunk closer, and soon the two Flutterponies’ voices came into range. Celestia perked her ears up.

“We’re not going to ask you again,” a Flutterpony said in a deep, raspy voice, “the two princesses must have come this way. We have reports from Everfree that the they were last seen in this vicinity.”

“I-I don’t...” the mare squeaked out, pressing her flank against the wall as the Flutterponies moved closer.

“You don’t know?” the other Flutterpony finished. His voice was higher pitched and nasally. “Perhaps we could make you remember, eh? There are many ways we could make you talk, some that you may not enjoy.”

Celestia heard a slap as one of the Flutterponies smacked the mare across the face. The mare cried out, and there was a little scuffle as she struggled under the grip of one of the Flutterponies.

“What should we do, Your Majesty?” Moonlight asked, glancing over at Celestia.

“Hold her down,” the deeper voiced Flutterpony said coldly, “I want a piece of her.”

The mare started crying, only to have her mouth quickly muffled by the magic of the other Flutterpony. Celestia’s jaw clenched tightly together, and her wings unfolded slightly. The touch of the rain on her coat fell away, and her eyes pierced intently through the grass at the Flutterponies ahead of her.

“Get ready to ambush the two Flutterponies on my mark,” Celestia said bitterly, glancing over at Moonlight. “Kill them if you have to.”

Moonlight Sonata nodded, and both she and Celestia charged their horns and faced forward. The mare still tried to scream through the Flutterpony’s magic.

“Three, two, one, mark.”

Celestia and Moonlight raised themselves from the tall grass and shot bolts of magical energy at the two Flutterponies. The Flutterponies were knocked off of the mare, who quickly scampered away in their direction and took shelter behind the evergreen trees. Celestia charged her horn again.

One of the Flutterponies was already back on his hooves and he took a shot at Celestia. Celestia dodged the shot and leapt high into the air, letting off two volleys of magic at the Flutterpony. He easily dodged her attack and made several more attempts to hit her with his own magic. Celestia dived back to the ground, evading the green bolts of energy, and fired one powerful blast of magic that struck through the side of the Flutterpony’s neck.

The Flutterpony collapsed onto the ground, gasping for breath. Celestia turned to see that Moonlight had already dispatched the other Flutterpony. The corpse had a hole through both its chest and its neck. Celestia turned back to the Flutterpony that was still gasping for breath and knocked it onto its back.

“Are there any other mutants around here?” Celestia asked coldly.

The Flutterpony’s eyes widened, and he coughed one last time before laying his head back on the ground and exhaling. Celestia cursed and began pressing her hooves harder against the Flutterpony’s chest. When he refused to respond, she levitated the the corpse to join the other one that Moonlight had taken care of. Just as she had laid the Flutterpony on top of the other, there was a tiny squeak behind both Celestia and Moonlight, and they slowly turned around to see the earth pony mare standing before them.

“I-I wanted to th-thank you, Your maj-” The mare stopped when she saw Celestia tilt her head at her. She took a step back, holding one of her forehooves up against her chest.

Celestia’s eyes softened, and her gaze fell onto a scrape that marked the mare’s cheek. She asked, “They didn’t hurt you, did they?”

“N-no, Your Majesty,” the mare replied. She shivered as the pounding of the rain intensified.

“We had best find some shelter,” Moonlight said, eyeing the mare in front of them.

“I live in a village not too far from here,” the mare suggested, looking towards the mountain pass behind Celestia and Moonlight. “I could offer you both a place to stay for the night. It is the least I can do.”

“We could not ask that of you,” Celestia said, shaking her head. “I fear that there will be more Flutterponies behind these two.” She gestured her head towards the two corpses piled on top of each other. “It would be best if we find some place on our own to stay dry.”

“Please, Princess,” the mare said, taking a few steps towards Celestia, “there must be some way that I can thank you. I have more than enough room in my house to accommodate the both of you.”

Celestia eyed the mare warily, and she threw a side glance at Moonlight, who returned the glance with a shrug. Celestia opened her mouth, but a roar of thunder echoed in the distance, and everypony snapped their necks in the direction of the sound. Celestia ruffled her feathers against her sides.

“Let’s get moving,” Celestia said.

The earth pony trotted in front of both Celestia and Moonlight, and she led them towards the pass that stuck out from the mountain range. Another rumble of thunder rolled through sky above, and the rain continued to pour around them all as they walked. Celestia cantered up closer to the mare.

“I don’t think I ever caught your name,” Celestia said.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Your Majesty!” the mare said, stopping and turning around to bow low in front of Celestia. Celestia took hold of the mare’s chin gently in her magic and raised it up.

“There is no need to apologize,” Celestia said, motioning for the mare to continue their trek towards the pass. “Let us keep moving. The faster we are out of this rain the better.”

The mare nodded slightly and they quickly resumed their trot towards the pass. She glanced behind her at Celestia and Moonlight and said, “My name is Autumn Lullaby, Your Majesty.”

“Autumn Lullaby,” Celestia mused. “That is a beautiful name.”

“My mother named me,” Autumn said, swishing her tail back and forth. “She thought it was fitting because my coat reminded her much of the gentleness of the autumn season.”

“A suitable name, I think,” Moonlight said, trotting up next to Celestia. “I have to ask, what were you doing out here this late into the night?”

“I’m the local herbalist at my village,” Autumn replied, looking back at Moonlight. Her ears folded back when Moonlight looked away, and she continued, “I was out looking for some fresh herbs to help a young colt who recently contracted the feather flu. When I was on my way back, I was ambushed by those Flutterponies.”

The group stopped before the entrance to a massive canyon that bore through the middle of a mountain. The sides of the mountain bowed in slightly, giving the canyon an eerie look as if somepony was peering through a looking-glass. Torrents of water fell from the tops of the canyon, creating miniature waterfalls that Celestia, Moonlight, and Autumn cautiously stepped through.

The area was nearly devoid of trees on either side of them, leaving everypony to stare at the dull gray and brown walls of the canyon. Enormous cracks snaked their way to the tops of the rocks, cutting apart the formations and collecting water to pour out of the bottom like a spout. Celestia spread her wings and shook her feathers.

“It’s not much further,” Autumn said to Celestia and Moonlight behind her. “My village lies in a clearing up ahead.”

Another blast of thunder echoed overhead, and everypony paused in their stride to look up at sky. Trails of electricity rippled through the clouds, illuminating the night sky in fading incandescent light. Celestia felt Autumn back up against her side, and she instinctively extended a wing around the mare.

“I take back what I said about these clouds,” Moonlight said as everypony resumed walking towards Autumn’s village, “this cannot be due to the absence of the Equestrian weather teams. They look to be fueled by powerful magic for ripples of electricity to snake its way through the clouds like that.”

“Discord must know that Luna and I remain in Equestria,” Celestia said, continuing to shield Autumn underneath one of her wings. “We should get to shelter.”

Everypony broke into a brisk trot to quickly close the distance between them and the village ahead. The village was small and propped up against the side of the canyon, with small wooden huts placed throughout and a stone tower in the middle. More ripples of electricity blasted through the clouds above, and thunder pounded in Celestia’s ears even as they passed by the first house. Autumn led Celestia and Moonlight to the very far side of the village, and she quickly pushed the door to her house open to allow them to enter. She closed the door behind them, Celestia and Moonlight’s eyes drifted around the room.

The room everypony was in was small and cozy, with two couches set facing across from each other in the center. A fireplace lay far in the back of the house, and off to the right was a kitchen and a hallway that led to a bedroom. Candles were lit in various places around the house, giving a dark and warm light to slightly brighten the walls. Autumn inhaled deeply and looked at Celestia.

“I should go tell the village mayor of your arrival,” Autumn said, raising herself back to her hooves. “I’ll be back shortly. Make yourselves at home. There is food in the freezer box in the back of the house, and I have freshwater in a trough next to it.”

Autumn motioned to leave, and just as she placed one of her forehooves on the door Moonlight said, Her Majesty and I didn’t say this before, but thank you again for offering your homes to us as shelter.”

Autumn grinned, looking at Moonlight and then at the Princess. She bowed her head, then stepped outside, shutting the door behind her.

Celestia raised herself to her hooves and watched as Autumn slowly disappeared into the thick sheets of rain as she made her way towards the tall building in the center of the village. Behind her, Moonlight pushed herself to her hooves and walked into the kitchen. When she returned to the room, she was carrying a couple of towels in her magic.

“Let’s get ourselves dried off,” Moonlight said, levitating two towels over to Celestia, who quickly took them and began drying herself off. “We should get some sleep before we move out again.”

Celestia nodded and turned to look back out the window at the dark sky above. Another wave of electricity rippled through the clouds, followed by an ear-splitting thunder.

~~~

Princess Luna stared from the safety of the small tree line towards a prisoner caravan that was rolling through the dark, rainy night. There were three carts, each filled with four to five ponies that were all shackled to the metal bars on the sides. The carts were flanked each by armored Flutterponies with a behemoth at the front of the caravan. Behind the caravan were two other Flutterponies who stayed back by a couple of cart lengths.

A crash of thunder echoed above, but Luna remained unfazed as her eyes pierced through the trees. Her light blue mane draped lazily over one of her eyes, and her tail stuck to the back of her hind legs from being soaked. The rain fell lightly around her, however, from the slight tree cover that loomed over her head.

One of Luna’s ears swiveled around when she heard a few leaves rustle behind her, and she felt another body slide up against hers to also peer out of the treeline. Forza’s red magic gripped one of the branches that was impeding their vision, and she lifted it away from their eyes.

“How many do you think there are?” Forza whispered.

“By my count, there looks to be a total of fourteen prisoners,” Luna replied, her eyes falling onto the Flutterponies who made up the rear guard. “This caravan is larger than the ones that have come before it. Discord must be rounding up anypony who so much as thinks of resisting his power.”

The caravan began to turn around a corner in the road, and was slowly disappearing behind a patch of tall grass. Luna’s eyes still remained on the two Flutterponies who were trailing far behind the caravan, and she gently grabbed hold of the branch Forza was holding and brought it back down. She stepped away from the treeline.

“Let’s follow the caravan,” Luna added, glancing at Forza. “If we’re lucky, we can capture the two Flutterponies who lag behind. I’m sure that they will not even be noticed as missing if we’re quiet.”

Forza nodded at Luna, but her eyes were cold and her tattered wings were locked together. She said, “I follow you, Your Majesty. Lead the way.”

Luna slipped out of the tree line, shortly followed by Forza, and lowered her body to stay below the tall grass. The rain fell heavily around around them, once again soaking Luna’s coat, mane, and tail. She flicked her tail back and forth, keeping it from sticking against her hind legs, while she had her head tilted to one side to prevent her mane from sliding onto the other side of her face.

When they reached the road, Luna and Forza poked their heads out of the tall grass and stared down the road in time to see the two Flutterponies disappear behind the patch of tall grass. They hopped across the road and continued to slink towards the caravan. Luna kept her eyes strained on the tops of each of the carts as they rolled along the road.

As Luna and Forza reached the edge of the grass next to the caravan, they paused and listened as the heavy, wooden wheels rolled across the ground. The armor from the Flutterponies clinked noisily together, and the behemoth at the front of the caravan let off a loud snort. Luna’s wings clenched tightly against her sides, and her eyes darted back and forth between the gaps in the blades of grass.

Just as the last of the Flutterponies from the caravan passed by, a pair of voices came into range. Luna’s ears perked up, and she could make out that one of the voices was deep and powerful while the other was gruff and slow.

“What do you think the Queen is planning this time?” the deeper voice said. “This storm is no ordinary storm, that much is obvious. Every time you look towards the Drakenridge Mountain pass you can see surges of electricity shoot through the clouds.”

“Aye, I have seen it, too,” the gruff voice said. “It is strange weather, I must agree, but you are worrying about this too much. Don’t tell me you already have another conspiracy theory forming in the thick skull of yours.”

Forza crept up next to Luna and gave her a side glance. Luna slowly nodded her head, and her eyes drifted back to the road ahead of her. The two Flutterponies started to walk in front of them.

“As a matter of fact, I do,” the deeper voice replied. “The Queen or Discord must have discovered something recently that is bringing their full attention. Didn’t you hear about the reports coming back from Everfree? Supposedly the two pony princesses freed two of the most high value prisoners we had.”

“I did hear about that rumor,” the other voice said skeptically. “Did you give any thought to it, though? How could two foals slip through Everfree City’s defenses and break out those prisoners? I think it’s all a load of rubbish.”

Luna was the first to slip out from the tall grass, closely followed by Forza. The two ponies slowly crept up behind the Flutterponies, igniting their horns.

“I’ve been hearing the rumors from the officers themselves,” the deeper voiced Flutterpony said. “I, too, only thought they were rumors until—”

Luna and Forza wrapped their magic around the two Flutterponies’ mouths and then smashed their heads together. The two Flutterponies slumped against each other, and quickly Luna and Forza dragged the two bodies into the tall grass. Luna laid the first Flutterpony on his back and glanced over at Forza.

“Block his magic and keep his mouth shut,” Luna ordered.

Forza nodded, covering both the Flutterpony’s horn and mouth in her own magic. The other Flutterpony coughed underneath Luna, and she pressed her forehoof down onto his chest. The Flutterpony weezed and looked up at Luna with large eyes.

“Don’t even try to cry out or I’ll kill you on the spot,” Luna hissed, lighting her horn up and encasing the Flutterpony’s horn in her own magic. The Flutterpony struggled under Luna’s hoof, but she only pressed her hoof down harder onto his chest, eliciting a gasp from the Flutterpony.

“What is it... that you want?” the Flutterpony asked through coughs.

“Where are you taking the prisoners?” Luna asked coldly.

“T-to Manehatten.” The Flutterpony inhaled a large breath when Luna released her hoof slightly.

“Why are they being taken to Manehatten?” Luna asked.

“Why would you like to know?”

“Is it not obvious?” Luna constricted her grip on the Flutterponies horn, causing him to yelp and jerk under her hoof. “Tell me why they are being taken to Manehatten.”

“Th-the iron quarries!” the Flutterpony gasped. “They are being taken to Manehatten to work on the iron quarries.”

The Flutterpony underneath Forza’s hoof shot his comrade a glance, and Luna’s lips curled into a snarl as she brought her face closer to her captive’s face.

“Am I being lied to?” Luna asked, slowly shifting her gaze over towards the other pony. “I didn’t particularly like his gaze when he glanced over here at you.” Luna snapped her head back to the Flutterpony underneath her. “I will ask you once more: why are the prisoners being taken to Manehatten?”

The Flutterpony spat in Luna’s face, and she recoiled sharply before bringing her hooves down up his chest. She heard a snap, and the Flutterpony began to cough violently. Blood shot out of his mouth onto her coat. She took a step back, watching as his coughing degenerated into gasping. Finally, he lay his head back on the ground and exhaled. Luna swore under her breath.

“One of his ribs must have punctured his lungs,” Forza said evenly, casting her cold eyes onto Luna. “Let me do the interrogation.”

Luna nodded her head, and Forza looked at the Flutterpony underneath her. She asked, “I’m sure you know who I am, correct?” When the Flutterpony nodded his head quickly, she continued, “Then you know of the power I possess and of the generosity I can offer. Answer Princess Luna’s question and I’ll make it worth your while.”

Forza slowly dissipated the magic that surrounded the Flutterpony’s mouth, who hesitated for a moment before saying, “I’m not entirely sure why Discord and Queen Chrysalis are taking prisoners to Manehatten, but from what I have heard there is a secret laboratory that Queen Chrysalis has recently constructed for military purposes. I hear that none of the prisoners that go into the laboratory come out again.”

Forza threw a side glance at Luna, but Luna was busy staring at the Flutterpony with her teeth grinding together. “You’re telling the truth?” she asked.

“I swear to you I am!” the Flutterpony pleaded.



Luna turned and stared out across the plains at the caravan that was just falling out of view. A roar of thunder rumbled across the sky, and she asked, “Are we really going to keep him alive?”

Forza stepped in front of Luna towards the road. Luna quickly followed behind her, and they cut across the road and began to walk through the tall grass again in the direction of the caravan.

“There comes a time when a pony must stay their hoof, Princess Luna,” Forza said, flicking her tail behind her. “Although that mutant may be our enemy, he deserves a chance to live just like everypony else. We cannot prance around as if we are the harbingers of justice. We only knew him through the words he spoke, and they seemed sincere enough.”

Luna cantered alongside Forza and said, “And what if he runs to Queen Chrysalis and tells her of what transpired minutes ago?”

“What if he does?” Forza side glanced Luna with an inquisitive stare. “We will be long gone before anything can be done. He is just another casualty, victim to Chrysalis and Discord’s manipulation.”

Luna ground her teeth together when Forza looked away. The rain fell irritably onto her coat, and she shifted her wings uneasily. Her eyes fell onto the prisoner caravan across the plains, and she watched as the top of the carts rose and fell with the dips and the bumps in the road. A slight wind picked up, causing the rain to blow into Luna and Forza’s backs.

“What do you think the laboratory in Manehatten is being used for?” Luna asked.

“I don’t have a clue, Your Majesty,” Forza said, “but if the Flutterpony is correct, and if these prisoners that enter the laboratory will never see the light of day again, I suspect that we don’t have much time to act before this caravan reaches Manehatten.”

Author's Note:

And the adventure begins. I hope you all enjoyed the chapter, and I apologize how long chapters are taking to be released. School is killing me with tests and labs for my science classes, so I have been juggling that along with writing. I will not go on any hiatuses, though! Never would I want to lose the momentum that I have for this story.

A big thank you to Naes345 for his editing. He told me there wasn't much to edit, so that is an improvement!

Next chapter is Chapter 5: Bitterness