• Published 24th Jan 2013
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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.

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Chapter 8: On the Trail

The Elements Chapter 8

Celestia and Moonlight stood in the sewer, staring up at the grate above them. The sun was beginning to set, causing a gentle beam of light to radiate down into the slimy floor. Ponies walked to and fro over the grate, and the sounds from Stalliongrad above echoed down into the sewer. Celestia leaned heavily on two of her legs, and she glanced back at her hind leg and saw multiple gashes running up to her flank. She cringed when she attempted to put more weight onto the leg.

“We need to seek some medical attention,” Moonlight said, staring at Celestia. “I’ll run above ground and see who we can fetched to help get you out of here.”

Before Moonlight could turn to leave, Celestia said, “No, Moonlight. The less ponies that know that I am in Stalliongrad, the better. Word would get out quickly if I were to be discovered, and no doubt Discord will begin to move the Changelings onto Stalliongrad faster than we want. Try to see where we are and we’ll plan from there.”

Moonlight gazed at the gashes along Celestia’s hind leg, and she cringed slightly before turning and galloping off further down the sewer. Celestia listened as the thudding of her hooves disappeared around a corner, and then she slumped up against the curved wall of the sewer. She glanced back at her leg, scanning the open folds of skin with disgust.

Celestia sat down on the sewer floor and extended her mutilated leg out across her. Her horn lit up, and very gently her magic started to grip the folds of skin. Celestia took a deep breath, and she pulled the wounds closed on her leg, causing pain to course through her body. She swallowed a scream that began to rise in her throat, and when she managed to close the wounds, she thread magic through her skin to act as stitches. Once she finished, she looked at her work.

The magical stitches were twisted in different directions, and Celestia’s skin felt stretched when she moved her leg back and forth. She slowly rose back onto her hooves, keeping weight off of her hind leg. She began to take a few steps towards the direction Moonlight had gone, but she quickly stopped when hoofsteps started to echo off of the walls down the sewer.

Moonlight reappeared around the corner she had departed from, and she stopped in her tracks when she saw Celestia’s leg.

“Did you...” Moonlight said slowly, her eyes drifting back up to Celestia’s.

“It will help keep the wounds from getting infected,” Celestia said, grimacing when she took a step forward.

“I don’t think...” Moonlight trailed off when Celestia took another step. “We should find medical attention as quickly as possible. We’re lucky, this sewer is located directly below the Stalliongrad Library, which lies across the street from the National Equestrian Hospital.”

Celestia’s eyes widened, and she said, “Take me to the Stalliongrad Library.”

“But shouldn’t you get your leg looked at first?” Moonlight asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Bring one of the nurses from the hospital over to the library,” Celestia said, limping past Moonlight. “Hospitals keep records of those who are admitted. It’s safer if one of the nurses came to me.”

Moonlight eyed Celestia carefully as she passed, and then fell in next to her. Celestia limped slowly down the sewer, and eventually she had began using Moonlight for support once again when the pain in her leg intensified. Moonlight leaned up against Celestia, and she lit her horn up once they started to pass through a darker section of the tunnel.

“Your Majesty,” Moonlight said. “I’ve been meaning to ask, who was the serpent back in the caves underneath Drakenridge Mountains? He said you knew who he was, even though he never gave his name or a hint of his identity.”

Celestia cringed when she slipped slightly on the smooth cement of the sewer, and she said, “I can’t help but think the serpent was none other than Quetzalcoatl, one of the ancient Gods of Creation. How he was still alive, I have no idea. My mother once told me how she vanquished the beast, but now that we have discovered him still alive, perhaps he was only merely imprisoned.”

“How could he stay imprisoned beneath Drakenridge?” Moonlight asked, stepping lightly over a patch of sludge. “I saw no chains holding him back, and he seemed as if he could leave the mountain as he pleased with how persistent his attacks were against you.”

“I’m hoping to find out at the Stalliongrad Library. The archives of the library are extensive, and it is the biggest library in all of Equestria. I’m bound to find some sort of history on him.”

“What about the deer and finding the Element of Harmony?” Moonlight asked, stopping in front of a staircase that led up to a heavy door.

“That is where I need your help, Moonlight,” Celestia said, looking down at Moonlight. “I need you to travel around Stalliongrad and see if you can find any trace of where the deer is heading. This city’s population is staggering, even after when Germaney laid siege. I’m sure at least somepony knows of her whereabouts, if not a couple thousand.”

“What about you?” Moonlight asked, slowly helping Celestia make her way up the steps. “Are you sure you will be alright without somepony to help you with your leg?”

“I’ll be fine, Moonlight,” Celestia said, panting when they reached the top of the stairs. “Once a nurse from the hospital takes a look at me, I can use my magic to ease the pain from my leg. In the meantime, let’s get inside the library.”

Moonlight led Celestia around to the back of the library, and Moonlight lit up her horn, using her magic to weave into the lock and push the door open. They stepped inside, letting the back door close behind them, and they walked over to a corner where Celestia sat down. Moonlight looked over Celestia’s leg one last time, and then she galloped back out of the door again.

Celestia shifted uneasily and leaned her head up against the wall. She was in a small storage room that was filled with old dusty books, and in the corner was a pile of large, rolled maps propped against the wall. The room was dark, with only the light from the crack underneath the the back door and the door into the library shining along the floor. Celestia sighed, and she slowly extended her hind leg out when a dull pain started to throb through her body.

The door into the library clicked and slowly began to swing open. Celestia skirted behind one of the tall bookshelves full of books, and she peered her head around the corner. A pale green earth pony with a gray mane and tale edged her way into the storage room. She held a candle in her mouth, the dim light illuminating the many books that filled the bookshelves. She stopped at one particular bookshelf, placed the candle on a small sconce, and grabbed a book from the third shelf in her mouth. When she turned back around, Celestia’s mouth dropped.

“Meadow Free?” Celestia asked, inching herself further from the the bookshelf.

Meadow Free dropped the book in her mouth, and her head snapped towards Celestia. She stood frozen, staring while the light from the candle flickered on and off of her face. She took a step forward.

“Celestia?” she asked. When Celestia began to slowly rise to her hooves, Meadow Free bounded the rest of the way to her and helped her up. “You are a total mess! Look at your leg, and look at your wings. What are you doing here?”

Celestia stumbled slightly when she was back on her hooves, and she said, “It’s a long story, Meadow Free. I’ll be sure to tell you, but right now I’m waiting for a companion to come back from the hospital with one of the nurses.”

“Let’s move you out into the lobby,” Meadow Free said, leading Celestia out of the storage room. “I just closed the library up, so there should be nopony left in the whole building besides us two.”

“You closed the library up?” Celestia asked, glancing down at Meadow Free.

“Yes. When Regality and I fled Everfree City before the... uh, the battle, we took the road to Stalliongrad, figuring that it would be the safest place to stay while the Changelings are roaming about. I quickly found a job as the assistant librarian here at the Stalliongrad Library, and Regality found a job on the city watch as one of the tower guards.”

Meadow Free led Celestia onto one of the couches in the main lobby, and she quickly fetched some blankets that were underneath a coffee table. She carried them over to Celestia, but Celestia shook her head and smiled.

“I’m not cold, Meadow Free,” Celestia said. “But thank you for the offer.”

Meadow Free nodded, and she instead laid the blankets across the floor. She then sat on the couch next to Celestia and started looking over her wounds on her hind leg.

“Where did you get these?” she asked, glancing up at Celestia.

“Well, it’s the precise reason why I am here,” Celestia said. “I have reason to believe that my companion, Moonlight, and I ran into Quetzalcoatl while we were beneath the Drakenridge Mountains, and so I want to try to find out if my suspicions are correct.”

“You think you found Quetzalcoatl?” Meadow Free asked, raising her eyebrows. “From what I know from my history classes years ago, he was the God of Creation who wished to undo all of the work done to time and life. What happened to him?”

“He attempted to kill me,” Celestia said, looking away. “And in his attempt, he caused to entire cavern he was in to collapse on top of him. Moonlight and I nearly escaped, and during my evasion of his attacks, he inflicted several wounds across me.”

Meadow Free’s ears swiveled in place, and she jumped from the couch and said, “That must be your companion and the nurse now. I hear somepony opening the door to the storage closet.”

Celestia’s ears folded back as Meadow Free trotted towards the back of the library. She heard the back door out of the storage room close just as Meadow Free disappeared around a corner. A few voices rose from the back rooms, and in a few minutes Meadow Free reemerged with Moonlight and a white earth pony in tow. Moonlight galloped ahead of the others and skidded to a halt in front of Celestia.

“Oh! Good, you’re okay,” Moonlight said, her eyes landing on the wounds on Celestia’s leg. “I was worried when I didn’t find you in the storage room. I wasn’t sure if somepony found you or you had wanted to try to venture around on your own.”

Celestia smiled, and she glanced at Meadow Free and said, “Well, somepony did find me. I suppose she must have heard the back door open when we first entered the library and went to investigate.”

Moonlight quickly turned around, and she started to gingerly rub one of her forehooves across the other. Meadow Free smiled at Moonlight, who sheepishly smiled back.

“I, uh... I guess I didn’t properly introduce myself,” Moonlight said. “My name is Moonlight Sonata.”

“We all fret when the pony we are supposed to be watching over suddenly disappears,” Meadow Free said, glancing at Celestia. “My name is Meadow Free, it is a pleasure to meet you.”

Moonlight nodded at Meadow Free, and then her eyes widened. She spun around to face the nurse, who still stood a bit away from the other ponies. She was carrying a large medical bag in her mouth, and she wore a white cap on top of her mane. Without waiting for Moonlight to say a word, the nurse stepped over to Celestia and dropped the medical bag on the edge of the blankets Meadow Free had strewn out.

“Uh, hello, Your Majesty,” the nurse said, blushing slightly. “My name is Golden Cure. Do you think you could move onto the blankets for me?”

“Of course,” Celestia said. She started to rise from the couch, but she stumbled slightly when she started to put some of her weight onto her hind leg. The nurse quickly leapt up next to Celestia and pressed herself up against the princess’ side, becoming a makeshift crutch for the princess. She lead Celestia over to the blankets, and moved out of the way when Celestia collapsed.

Golden Cure rushed over to her medical bag and ripped it open. Celestia watched as the nurse pulled out bandage wraps, tweezers, a scalpel, cotton balls, and a surgical suture. Golden Cure picked up all of the supplies and kneeled over Celestia. She sighed, looking at the princess’ leg up and down.

“Did you try to seal these wounds yourself?” the nurse asked, pulling a face mask over her mouth.

Celestia nodded, and Golden Cure bent over and picked up the tweezers in her mouth. She began to cut the stitches Celestia had magically made earlier, causing the skin around the wounds to go lax. When all of the stitches had been cut, the nurse set the tweezers down and began to pull the strings out of Celestia. Tingling sensations shot up Celestia’s leg when each string was pulled out, and she bit her lip.

“Can one of you hold that?” Golden Cure said, nodding at a bottle of hydrogen peroxide sticking out of the top of her medical bag.

Moonlight grabbed the hydrogen peroxide in her magic and held it next to Golden Cure. The nurse picked up a cotton ball, placed it on top of the hydrogen peroxide bottle, and turned it over, soaking the cotton ball. She then dragged the ball across Celestia’s wounds, and Celestia cringed slightly.

“Moonlight, do you think you could give the bottle to Meadow Free?” Celestia asked once Golden Cure tossed the cotton ball she had been using away. When Meadow Free stepped forward, Moonlight gave her the bottle and then skirted around the two mares to stand in front of Celestia.

“I need you to go out and try to find out about the whereabouts of the deer,” Celestia added, wincing again when Golden Cure started going over her wounds with another cotton ball. “Search everywhere. The sooner we depart from Stalliongrad, the better.”

Moonlight’s gazed shifted to Meadow Free and Golden Cure, and Celestia shook her head and said, “I’ll be alright, Moonlight. Don’t worry. I trust Meadow Free with my life. Please, go look for the deer.”

Moonlight nodded, and she bowed low in front of Celestia before departing for the back of the library. The door closed quietly behind her, and Celestia looked back at Meadow Free and Golden Cure. The nurse had already tossed the other cotton ball away, and she was replacing her face mask. Meadow Free set the bottle down.

“Where did you find somepony like her?” Meadow Free asked. “She’s like your own personal bodyguard.”

“She gave Luna and I a place to live when we escaped from Everfree,” Celestia said. “She reminds me of you quite a bit, you know. Protective, gentle, and motherly. You can’t say you didn’t get that impression at first.”

Meadow Free chuckled. “Well, I guess you’re right.” She glanced at Golden Cure, watching as the nurse picked up the surgical suture and started to thread the needle. “It looks as if you might be stuck on the floor a while longer. Is there anything you need?”

“Could you find me anything and everything you have on Quetzalcoatl and Grogar the Necromancer?” Celestia asked, wincing when Golden Cure started to stitch up the first of her wounds. “There are a few things that I need cleared up.”

“Cleared up?” Meadow Free asked. raising an eyebrow. “What else did you discover below the Drakenridge Mountains?”

“That’s what I want to find out. If you find me anything, I’ll try to answer as many questions as I can.”

~~~

By the time Golden Cure had finished stitching and wrapping Celestia’s wounds up, a large stack of books had been gathered on the floor by Meadow Free. Celestia levitated the first of the books in front of her, and she used a quill to write down her ideas onto a clipboard. She had already filled up an entire page, and she flipped the paper over to begin writing on another as her eyes scanned across the tiny print in the book.

Meadow Free scurried around the library, but as the minutes dragged on into an hour, she failed to find any additional books Celestia could use. She had managed to gather five books in total before she came trotting back to Celestia and Golden Cure. She sat down on the floor and grabbed one of the books from the stack, flipping it open and beginning to read.

Celestia’s eyes squinted as she read one particular book titled A Substantial Report on the Conceptualization of Magic and Time. She flipped through page after page, scanning the lines as quickly as she could until she came upon a word or two that caught her eye. She barely noticed as Golden Cure began to close up the medical bag and turn towards Celestia.

“That should be everything, Your Highness,” Golden Cure said, bowing. “I hope I didn’t cause any distress with my work. I haven’t been working for very long, but I did the best that I could do.”

Celestia looked up from her book and smiled. “No no, you did a wonderful job, Nurse Cure. I hardly even noticed that you had been here now that I had a few books to read.”

Golden Cure blushed, and she began to turn to leave when she was stopped by a tug on her tail. She turned and saw that Celestia’s horn was alight, and that the tip of her red tail had been surrounded by the princess’ magic.

“I couldn’t just let you go without paying you for your services first,” Celestia said. “If you go to the bank any time soon and ask to see the bank manager, give him or her this.” She levitated a piece of paper towards the nurse, whose eyes went wide when she started to read over its contents. “Please don’t hesitate to use it. I’m sure ten thousand bits will be sufficient.”

Golden Cure tucked the note into her medical bag and bounded over to Celestia, giving her a huge hug. Her eyes widened quickly, but the guilt that started to flood her eyes melted away when she felt Celestia extend one of her hooves around her.

“Thank you so much, Your Majesty!” Golden Cure exclaimed, releasing the hug. “I don’t know what to say.”

Celestia smiled once again and said, “I think it would be best if you return to your job before you have been gone for too long.”

Golden Cure’s cheeks flushed, and she nodded and turned to depart out the back of the library. Celestia watched as the nurse disappeared around the back corner, and listened as the door shut behind her. She levitated her book back up in front of her.

“Ten thousand bits?” Meadow Free inquired, her muzzle still buried in her own book.

“Times are tough,” Celestia replied. “Besides, the little extra bit of money should refrain her from telling anypony else that I am here in Stalliongrad.”

A loud squawk echoed from the second floor of the library, and Celestia’s head snapped up towards the balcony that looked out the lower level. She saw a large birdcage sitting atop the railing that contained a large, red and orange bird inside of it. Her heart began to flutter. She snapped her head towards Meadow Free.

“You have Philomena with you?” Celestia asked enthusiastically.

Meadow Free’s eyes widened, and she said, “Oh! I’m sorry Celestia! I meant to tell you that I took her with me when Regality and I departed Everfree City.”

Meadow Free jumped to her hooves and galloped over to the staircase on the far side of the library. She bounded up the steps, then sprinted over towards the cage where she unlatched the door. Philomena pushed the door open, and then she shot straight out of the cage and dived for Celestia. The phoenix slowed its descent, and gently landed on top of Celestia’s head.

Celestia beamed, and she bent her head back so she could scratch the tip of her horn against Philomena’s belly. The phoenix cooed in delight, and she ruffled her feathers slightly.

“She’s been moping around the library ever since we arrived in Stalliongrad,” Meadow Free said after she had trotted back down to the first level. “I tried everything to cheer her up. From buying her favorite treats to taking her on long breaks to fly around the parks here in the city, nothing seemed to cheer her up enough to have her feathers shine so brightly as they do now.”

“I’m so glad I can see her again,” Celestia said. Philomena gently bit down on the tip of Celestia’s horn, and she shuddered. “Okay, that is enough of that Philomena.” The phoenix squawked, jumping off of Celestia’s head and onto her back.

Meadow Free plopped down on the floor in front of the book she had been reading. She began to look back down at the book when a gurgle rose up from over by Celestia. She lifted her head, staring quizzically at the princess.

“When was the last time you have eaten?” Meadow Free asked.

“Um...” Celestia said, shrinking back. “Three days ago.”

Meadow Free rose back to her hooves. “I’ll go get something for us to eat. You keep reading.”

Celestia rolled her eyes, smiling. “Yes, Meadow Free.”

When Meadow Free had disappeared into the back of the library, Celestia picked the book she had been reading. She flipped through more and more pages, her eyes shooting across the pages. Occasionally her eyes would stop, and she read through a particular excerpt from the book, but she would resume flipping pages once again when the excerpt disinterested her.

Philomena yawned behind Celestia, causing Celestia to yawn with her. She flipped more lazily through the pages, her eyes scanning slowly over each word. Her ears perked when there was some clattering coming from the back of the library, but her eyes remained glued to the book in front of her. She was about to turn another page when a word caught her eye.

Quetzalcoatl.

Celestia began to slowly read over the page, and she dipped her quill in the inkpot next to her. She furiously wrote while she was reading along the page. Celestia hardly noticed Meadow Free return from the back of the library with a tray full of food as she turned the page of the book.

“Found something?” Meadow Free said, setting the tray down in between them.

“I think I have,” Celestia said without looking up. “There is this massive section on Quetzalcoatl and the creation of chaotic magic. It’s all speculative, but it’s the best we will find most likely.”

“What does it say?”

Celestia finished scribbling the last bit of her notes onto the clipboard. She put the book down and levitated the clipboard in front of her.

“According to a deer by the name of Dragher’nok,” Celestia said, “there existed an age when the only things present were the essences of Time and Life themselves. There was a void that made up the entirety of the universe that we know of today, and that void had been condensed down to the size of a singularity.

“However, within that singularity, four beings were created from Time and Life. Entities with immense power caused the singularity to explode out into the emptiness beyond it, filling everything with magic, time, and life.” Celestia paused, looking at her notes. “As the universe continued to fill, these entities started to work with the magic that had been confined within the singularity. They created stars, planets, physics, and they were able to shape the essence know as Life into tangible beings.”

“This sounds very similar to the secular theory on the universe’s creation,” Meadow Free said, scratching her chin with a hoof.

“Yes,” Celestia replied, nodding. “All you would have to do is replace a few words and the theories would be identical.”

“Coming from a deer, this is intriguing. They are known for their traditional beliefs, as well as the accuracy their beliefs hold. Is there more?”

“One of the entities came to be known as Quetzalcoatl, the God of Light,” Celestia continued. “He was the first to begin weaving the essence of Life to shape physical entities that may draw upon its source. He was soon followed by the other three, and together they created the world, the sky, and the world’s inhabitants.

“However, complications arose when they neared completion of their weaving. The world’s inhabitants seemed to be able to draw upon the magic of Time and Life themselves, allowing them to progress as individuals. An argument broke out between the four gods over how the inhabitants were able to draw upon the magic, with each accusing the other of giving the ability to wield magic.”

Meadow Free lifted her sandwich to her lips and took a bite, listening intently as Celestia continued, “Eventually one of the gods murdered another, convinced that he had been the one to give mortals the powers of the immortals. For her crimes, the murderer had her power stripped and confined within a powerful essence that we know as the moon today.”

Celestia paused, staring hard at her notes. “Wait a minute, Luna’s nightmares...”

“What about Luna’s nightmares?” Meadow Free asked. “You don’t think...”

Celestia glanced at Meadow Free, her eyes dark, “She is tied to the Element of Chaos. That black mare could very well be the God who murdered that which gave us mortals the ability to use magic.”

“What else did you find?” Meadow Free asked, putting her sandwich down.

“There is some more,” Celestia said, looking back at the clipboard. “When the murderer had been banished to the moon, the two remaining gods broke into another argument whether or not the mortals should have the magic taken away from them. Quetzalcoatl favored stripping them of their magic, but the other god refused to cooperate.

“Quetzalcoatl was furious, and he used to same power that banished the murderer to the moon to banish the other god to what we now know as the sun. However, in his efforts, he lost his last chance to fully strip the mortals of their magic powers. With no other god to support him if he were to make the attempt to take the mortal’s magic, he instead started to divide the reality of Time and Life. He separated the two magics into separate realities, cutting the mortals off from being able to use any source of chaotic magic.”

Celestia put the clipboard down slowly while also raising the sandwich Meadow Free had made for her to her lips. The mare across from her stared at Celestia.

“What did Quetzalcoatl tell you when you found him below the Drakenridge Mountains?” Meadow Free asked.

After Celestia had taken a bite of her sandwich, she said, “He told me how chaotic magic was leaking into this reality through the moon, and that the essence on the moon tries to use those that can wield magic to help bring chaotic magic back.” Celestia levitated another book in front of her as she took another bite, and then she said, “I still don’t know why he was only banished and trapped below Drakenridge rather than vanquished.”

Meadow Free looked back down at her book, scanning over the words on the page. “That may very well only be a question your mother or father could answer. I don-”

The back door to the library opened, and Celestia and Meadow Free whipped the heads around while their ears perked. Moonlight came trotting out of the back of the library, a confident smile stretched across her face. Celestia relaxed, watching as Moonlight approached while Meadow Free returned to reading the book in front of her. Philomena shuffled her wings behind Celestia, and then closed her eyes.

“Did you find the location of the deer already?” Celestia asked, gently setting the book down.

“After visiting a few of the taverns nearby,” Moonlight started once she had sat down in front of Celestia, “I found one particular owner who said he had seen a deer pass through Stalliongrad who met our description. She left Stalliongrad only yesterday, although the owner didn’t know where she went, but he knows a pony who might know.”

Celestia slowly set her sandwich down. “Who is this pony?”

“He is the owner at a brothel only half a kilometer from here. Apparently the deer stayed at the brothel while she was visiting Stalliongrad.”

“You mean to say that this deer stayed at Starlight Spectacle?” Meadow Free asked, looking up from her book. “The largest and most revered brothel in Stalliongrad?”

“It would seem so,” Moonlight said. “I went over to Starlight Spectacle, asking for the manager of the establishment. He said he would answer my questions, but only if he spoke to the princess while doing so.”

Celestia wings shifted uneasily against her sides. “How does he know I’m here in Stalliongrad?”

“I don’t know, Your Majesty,” Moonlight said, “But he is our best bet at finding out where the deer went.”

Celestia closed the book in front of her. “Then we had best go speak to this manager. If he is telling the truth and knows where the deer is going, then we should be able to leave Stalliongrad by morning.”

Author's Note:

Sorry this one took so long. I've been so busy, and on top of having no motivation to write lately, it's been a little hard to get chapters out. However, my Spring Break is coming up soon, so I should be able to get two or three chapters out during that time. Anyways, I hope you all enjoyed this one.

A big thank you to my new editor, MLPxPenguins!

Next chapter is Chapter 9: Let the Games Begin