• Published 26th Jan 2013
  • 5,751 Views, 408 Comments

Batmare Begins - Batbrony

Derpy's life takes a whole new direction when she is given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But where will this new journey take her, and who will she be at the end?

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Why Am I Here?

“Are we there yet?”


“Are we there yet?”


“Are we there yet?”


“Are we there yet?”


“Aw horsefeathers,” Derpy groaned. So far her new beginning wasn’t off to the best start. The morning had started out well enough; after being brought to the warden’s office, the warden had explained that all charges against her were being dropped and she was to be released immediately, escorted by a guard detail to the base of the Crystal Mountains. They weren’t even going to keep her prison record on file. Up until that point everything had gone off without a hitch, and Derpy had even begun happily thinking that things were finally looking up for her.

Unfortunately things had only gone downhill from there. It turned out that Derpy’s escort, in addition to the two pegasi drawing the chariot she was to be escorted in, was none other than the very same unicorn who’d thrown her into solitary confinement the previous day.

“So… are we there yet?” Derpy asked again hopefully.

“Celestia is my witness, if you don’t shut your muzzle in five seconds, I will personally throw you from this chariot myself!” the unicorn snapped.

“But… I’m a pegasus, so… wouldn’t that kinda defeat the purpose of the… throwing?”

“Then I’ll jump myself! Anything to get a moment’s rest from your constant jabbering!”

“Fine, I’ll stop; just trying to make some conversation, Mister Grumpy Hooves.”

Derpy sighed, turning away from the evidently edgy officer and slouching against the side of the chariot box. She stared out at the endless expanse of bulbous clouds and the Crystal Mountains rising in the distance beyond the cleared farmland below. She really had put forward an honest effort at making conversation with the stallion earlier, tossing out any number of conversation starters she could possibly think of. Yet, despite her best efforts, the most that she’d managed to get out of him were a hoofful of “yes’s” and “no’s” and a series of indiscernible grunts. She’d briefly considered trying to start a game of “I spy” but had quickly decided that probably wasn’t the wisest idea. So in the end she’d opted to ask over and over again if they were there yet.

Honestly, what else am I supposed to do if he won’t talk to me? Say nothing at all? That’s so boring!

Derpy continued surveying their surroundings, a dull affair to say the least. After all, there were only so many ways to differentiate one cloud from the thousand others around it. The mare’s eyes darted this way and that, desperately hoping to catch sight of anything out of the ordinary.

Let’s see… cloud. Cloud. Cloud. Is that a bird? Nope, cloud. Cloud. Soooooooo bored.

She gave a big yawn, the adrenaline of this morning long gone. Ever so slowly the lids of her eyes grew heavier and heavier until finally they closed shut.

“Wooh, what a morning! Where’s my little filly, huh? Where’s my Derpy?”

“Mama!” a tiny filly cried, bounding as fast as her little hooves could carry her into the kitchen and her mother’s warm embrace. As the young Derpy squealed with delight another pegasus trotted in, somewhat agitated in her gait. Her coat was a dark-blue and she had a long curly sky-blue mane, in contrast to the mother and filly’s short spiky manes.

“Ah Ditzy, you’re home. And just where have you been, young filly? I’ve been looking all over for you!” the blue pegasus asked tersely.

“Hey Dot, playing hide-and-seek with Derpy I see,” Ditzy remarked, chuckling. “Were you hiding real good from Aunt Dot, silly filly?” Derpy rapidly nodded her head, beaming with pride. “Well, can’t say I didn’t warn ya sis; this filly’s the best hider I’ve ever seen! Isn’t that right you little scallywag?” she said, scooping up Derpy and blowing multiple raspberries into her belly while the filly giggled uncontrollably. Dot smiled, watching their playful embrace with a look of affection.

“So, how’d everything go this morning? From what you said before you left it sounded like you certainly had your hooves full.”

“You can say that again! Some airheads at the weather factory didn’t properly lock up a Category Five winter storm in storage last night and it nearly got past the city limits. Just imagine, everything from Canterlot to Fillydelphia would’ve been buried in a foot of snow in the middle of summer! What a sight that would’ve been, eh?”

“You took care of it though, right?” Dot asked with a concerned countenance.

“Well of course we did! Wrangled that blizzard real good. Even got her back in one piece to storage, and now she’s locked up good and tight like she should’ve been in the first place. Might’ve been a bit too much to handle for most other weather teams, but not the Cloudsdale Weather Brigade, thanks in no small part to Squad 7; we were right there in the thick of things the whole time, beginning to end. Captain Downpour was real proud of the squad’s performance; said she’d even recommend us all for commendations to Chief Frostbite himself!”

“Yay!” Derpy cried as Ditzy lovingly nuzzled her.

“Well that’s certainly a relief. Honestly, the weather factory’s gotta stop hiring ponies right out of flight school, they just aren’t experienced enough! I get that demands and quotas are higher than ever, but these rookies need some training before they can get put to work on the factory floor. Otherwise one of these days a storm’s going to get out of control like it almost did today, or even worse, somepony might get hurt. You and your squad mates really should say something Ditz; after all, it is your necks that are on the line every time something like this happens.”

“I know, I know Dot, trust me, I know. Don’t worry about it, our superiors are doing everything they can to make things better. Chief and the captains have been over at City Hall for weeks now pushing for new reforms and safety standards at the factory, and from what Downpour’s told us, it sounds like they’re making some good progress with the city council. But enough of this boring talk, I think it’s lunchtime for this little filly! Thanks again for watching Derpy on such short notice, Dot, I owe you one.”

“Ah it’s no trouble at all, anything for my big sis. See ya later! Have a good day, Derpy, you be a good filly now!”

“Bye bye Aunt Dot!” Derpy shouted after her aunt as she flew out the front door. A loud yawn emanated from Ditzy, who was just about ready for a nice, long nap after the morning’s strenuous activities.

“Alright Derpy, let’s get you some lunch,” she said, placing her daughter in a high chair before removing her saddlebag and trotting over to some cabinets, retrieving a number of items as she prepared Derpy’s meal. A few minutes later she came back with a bowl filled with a green, pasty-looking mush. Derpy scrunched up her muzzle and gave the bowl’s contents a look of distaste. The filly’s displeasure did not escape her mother’s notice, and she duly braced herself for another intense round of mealtime negotiations.

“Alright Derpy, here comes the num nums,” she chimed, putting on the most convincing smile she could feign and offering Derpy a spoonful of the mush. Derpy, however, only shook her head and kept her mouth shut tight as a trapdoor.

“Aw, c’mon Derpy, it’s alfalfa, it’s good for you; you’ve got to eat if you want to grow big and strong. Don’t you want to grow big and strong?” Still the stubborn filly refused and leaned as far back in her high chair as she could, straining to distance herself from the mush as much as possible. Seeing that sweet words were going nowhere, the by now seasoned diplomat decided to forego anymore vain negotiations and try a wild card instead.

“Well, alright Derpy, if you really don’t want any, then I guess I can’t force you,” Ditzy said as graciously as possible, turning away from Derpy. “It’s too bad, though; now you won’t get to see the surprise I got you.” At this, the filly’s ears perked up. She’d bit. Now to reel her in.


“Oh yes, I had planned on giving you a real special treat after lunch,” Ditzy remarked nonchalantly. Derpy slowly digested her mother’s ambiguous words, trying to infer their meaning.


“Oh no, something much better,” Ditzy assured her filly, producing a paper bag from her saddlebag resting on the kitchen table as proof of her sincerity. At this Derpy’s eyes widened and she leaned forward in her high chair, wildly swinging her hooves in the air as she strained to reach towards the bag as far as she could.

“Nuh uh, not yet young filly,” Ditzy reprimanded, shaking her head. “First, you have to eat your alfalfa. Then, and only then, you can have your treat. OK?” Derpy pouted, clearly unhappy with this arrangement, but after a moment begrudgingly nodded, effectively bringing negotiations to a close. Satisfied, Ditzy once more proffered the spoonful of green mush to Derpy. After a moment’s hesitation the filly closed her eyes and slowly opened her mouth, allowing her mother to deposit the spoon’s unsavory contents inside. Derpy hurriedly chewed and swallowed the bland-tasting substance, trying not to retch, while Ditzy prepared another spoonful.

Over the next half hour this painfully slow process was repeated again and again until, just when Derpy didn’t think she could take another bite, her mother suddenly proclaimed, “Well, would you look at that; looks like you’re all done little filly! Good job, that wasn’t so bad now, was it? Let me just clean these dishes, and then I’ll get you your special treat as promised.” Instantly Derpy straightened up in her high chair as much as a young filly with a belly full of mushed up alfalfa could, her tiny wings flapping excitedly as she awaited her impending reward.

“What is it? What is it?” she asked, bouncing up and down in her high chair.

“Well, seeing as most of your milk teeth have already fallen out and been replaced by permanent ones, I figured it’s high time you started eating some actual solid, grownup food. But I didn’t want my filly to just start out with some boring old normal food like hay or oats, that’s no fun! Your first grownup food should be something special. So, I stopped at the baker’s after work this morning and picked you up this!”

Ditzy reached into the brown bag and produced a strange, orange-brown food, the likes of which Derpy had never seen before. She peeled off a wrapping that covered the bottom half of the food and placed it in front of the filly on her high chair’s tray. Derpy simply stared at the foreign object, wide-eyed and somewhat apprehensive.

“What is it?” she asked, maintaining a steady gaze at the item. Her mother only gave a lighthearted laugh, shaking her head amusedly.

“It’s a muffin, silly. Don’t worry, it won’t bite! It’s just a cake, that’s all. I get them at the baker’s all the time in the morning before work; no better way to start the day than with a nice, tasty muffin, I always say! They come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and flavors, and some of them even have things in them like berries or chocolate chips. This one’s pumpkin flavored; I thought it’d be best to start you off with something a little less sugary and without any extra parts like chocolate chips to chew through, but still, I think you’re going to like it all the same. Well? Go on Derpy, try it,” Ditzy goaded, nudging the muffin closer to Derpy with a gentle bump from her muzzle.

For another minute Derpy just kept eyeing the muffin with a curious and puzzled expression, tilting her head this way and that, analyzing the new, strange food. Slowly but ever so surely she leaned in closer towards the muffin, looking it over from all angles and sniffing it purposefully before tentatively taking a small bite from the edge of the muffin top. After a few seconds of slowly chewing, the filly’s eyes suddenly lit up as though struck by an epiphany. Quick as a flash, Derpy tore into the muffin, gobbling it up as though her life depended on it. Before her mother could even tell her to slow down, she’d inhaled the whole muffin, leaving only a few crumbs on the high chair tray.

Ditzy stared awestruck for a moment before bursting into uproarious laughter. Derpy slouched in the high chair, face covered in crumbs and belly bulging with a look of pure ecstasy etched on her face. A tiny burp emanated from the satisfied filly, and her mother began laughing even harder.

“So, you like muffins huh?”

“Mmmm… muffins,” she said in blissful affirmation.

“Well then, guess I know what special treat to get for a certain filly from now on, eh?” Ditzy chortled, tousling Derpy’s mane and affectionately nuzzling her. Derpy giggled with delight and wrapped her hooves around her mother’s neck, and the two remained affixed in their warm embrace, sharing in a small but precious moment of joy, laughter, and unconditional love.

“Oof,” Derpy impulsively blurted, roughly jostled awake as the chariot made a bumpy landing. As she slowly awoke from the old memory, she automatically asked in an absent minded manner, “Are we there yet?”

“Yes, for the love of Celestia, we are finally here!” the unicorn officer exclaimed. Derpy groggily picked herself up off the floor of the chariot box, stretching her limbs and splaying her wings before hopping from the back of the chariot to the ground below. It was only then that she noticed her surroundings.

“Woah,” Derpy breathed. Behind her lay a never-ending expanse of farmland, but before her, no more than a mile away, rose the dizzying heights of the Crystal Mountains. Unlike the grey peaks of most other mountain ranges in Equestria, the Crystal Mountains were a spectacular body of multicolored mountains. Magnificent ruby, sapphire, emerald, amethyst, and citrine-colored streaks covered the face of the mountains, as though painted on there by some gigantic being in ancient times long past. Derpy had heard in school that at one time the mountains had actually sparkled, but after something had happened in the Frozen North long ago, they’d lost their luster. Probably just an old filly’s tale, but sure enough, the mountains, despite their stunning appearance, certainly didn’t sparkle. In fact, the colors seemed rather dulled, though Derpy figured this was probably just from age, and all in all it was one of the most spectacular sights she’d ever beheld.

“Sir, are you sure this is where we’re supposed to leave her?” one of the pegasus guards asked.

“This is exactly where the warden ordered we drop her off,” the officer confirmed.

“But there’s nothing out he-”

“Look, you’re paid to follow orders, not question them, and certainly not to think. One more word from you and so help me I’ll-”

“It’s OK guys, don’t worry about it, I know where I’m going,” Derpy hastily interjected. The last thing she wanted was some guards getting chewed out on account of their superior officer’s bad disposition towards her. “Thanks so much for the ride, I really appreciate it!”

The unicorn glared at Derpy, but let her interrupting him slide and gave a gruff snort. “Let’s just get out of here,” he ordered. “Oh yeah, inmate, you forgot this!” he called, roughly tossing Derpy her saddlebag that’d been confiscated the day before. The two pegasi turned the chariot around, galloping at full speed and flapping their wings until, after gaining enough momentum, the chariot took off, heading back south to the prison.

Derpy watched until it’d disappeared below the horizon, then retrieved her saddlebag. The mail she’d been carrying was gone (probably given to some other mailpony), but the scarf she’d brought along for colder weather and the high-altitude flights she often made for long-distance deliveries was still there, along with a pouch containing a few bits. Strapping her saddlebag to her trunk and wrapping the scarf around her neck, she turned back, facing the Crystal Mountains once more.

“Do you really know where you’re going?” Derpy wondered aloud, but with nowhere else to go and determined to press on toward whatever awaited her at the top, began trotting towards the mountains’ base. As she walked along, she munched on some of the wild grasses growing in the fields nearby; certainly not the most delectable meal, but it was better than nothing.

Let’s see now, there was something Aucune told me to grab before I climbed… what was it? Oh right, a purple flower. I wonder where that could be.

She surveyed the fields at the base of the mountains, but couldn’t discern any purple flowers, much less anything else out of the ordinary. However, when she was about 100 yards away from the base, Derpy suddenly noticed a large number of unnatural looking objects jutting out of the ground to the right of her, in the shadow of the mountains. Her curiosity piqued, she veered towards them.

Once she was close enough, Derpy was able to discern that the objects were pikes. Dozens of them towered over the pegasus with long, white flags running down their sides. Derpy examined one of these flags more closely and discovered that it was completely white save for an emblem in the center; a black ring containing three oblong black bars. Each bar was equally spaced from the other two and jutted toward the center of the ring, all three meeting in the center. Derpy gave up after a few minutes consideration, at a loss as to the meaning of the strange device.

It was only after this examination that she realized why these dozens of pikes had been planted here. Growing all around them were thousands of purple flowers; each one consisted of a large, heart-shaped purple petal in the center and dozens of tinier pink and purple heart-shaped petals hanging below. Derpy could only assume that these were the flowers that Aucune wanted her to retrieve, and bent down to pick one, gingerly nibbling at the stem and carefully depositing the strange flower in her saddlebag.

Still a little hungry after her meager meal of wild grasses, she briefly considered nibbling on a few of the flowers; after all, they certainly looked quite tasty. However, after bending down to sniff a few, Derpy decided against it. She couldn’t quite put her hoof on it, but something smelled… off about them.

Oh well, I guess that’ll do till I get to… wherever I’m going. This is crazy, I mean, all he said was ‘carry it to the top of the mountain’. What does that even mean? There’s dozens of mountains!

Scanning the base once more, however, Derpy spotted two more pikes, similar to the dozens marking where the purple flowers grew, at the base of one of the mounts. Drawing near them, she felt a strong downslope wind blowing down from the mountains. The wind was surprisingly warm and dry, but also incredibly forceful, meaning that flying up the mountain would at best be a hazardous affair.

Upon reaching the pikes, she saw that they marked the foot of a winding, narrow system of stairs that seemed to extend up the face of the mountain. The stairs were weathered and appeared ancient, carved into the mountain itself.

After contemplating her options, Derpy finally decided. “Well, here goes nothing. Better stick to hoofing it rather than risk flying up into that wind. Too dangerous. Besides, it can’t go that far up, right?”

“Sweet Celestia, how far up do these stairs go?!”

Derpy panted heavily, pausing for a moment to get her bearings. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw that she was about a fifth of the way up the mountain. At this elevation the air was much cooler, and the previously warm downslope wind had turned frigid. The biting cold elicited shivers from the pegasus, and she hugged her wings close to her sides to keep warm. Turning her gaze upward, she tried her best to register where the stairway came to an end but couldn’t make out a thing; the seemingly endless path appeared to stretch on forever up into the very heavens themselves. The tired mare sighed with disappointment, but hastily resumed her climb, dwelling on her anxious thoughts to distract her from the cold and her own growing fatigue.

Geez Derpy, what’re you doing, huh? What, you meet a strange pony who says some nice things to ya and suddenly you're climbing a mountain that goes Celestia only knows where? That’s just not good enough, Derpy, not good enough at all! There’s just got to be more to it than that.

The air began growing thinner and thinner, but Derpy didn’t have trouble adjusting her breathing. Pegasi were used to high altitudes, most being born in Cloudsdale and spending much of their lives flying amongst the clouds they alone could handle and control. Unfortunately, as Derpy got higher the wind grew stronger and colder, and to make matters worse she soon found herself in the middle of an incessant snowfall. Still she carried on her self-examination, searching the depths of her soul for the answer she was looking for. With each step she took Derpy felt as though she was not only one step closer to the top, but also the answer she sought.

Suddenly, it hit her.

No. I’m not doing this just for nothing. I’m doing this for Mom, for myself, and for every pony out there I’ve always wanted to help as best I can but never been able to. I know, in my heart I know I’m not just a derpy-eyed fool who can’t even fly ten feet without bumping into something, much less do anything right. There’s something… inside me. Deep down, I know it’s there. Something special about me that I just haven’t found yet. Mama always knew it was there, she said so all the time, and if she thought it was there, well then, by the sun, moon, and stars that’s good enough for me! I’ll find it Mama, I promise you, I’ll find it! No matter how long it takes, no matter how hard it is, I’ll find it Mama; who I am to be, what I’m meant to do, I’ll find it and do what little I can to make this world a better place.

That settled it then. There was no turning back now. Come what may, she was going to see this journey through to the end, no matter where this mountain path led. Against the stinging cold Derpy pressed on, a fire now burning within, fueling her ascent.

Only a short while later the stairs came to an end, the mountain slope leveling off into a fairly flat, open space encompassed in a semicircle of tall, sheer crystal walls. Derpy let out a sigh of relief, thinking that she’d finally reached her destination. Those hopes were dashed a moment later, however.

Before the weary pegasus were about a dozen ponies unlike any she’d ever seen before. They all appeared to be earth ponies, and their coats and manes displayed a collection of diverse colors that seemed to compliment the multi-colored array of the Crystal Mountains. However, just like the mountains as well, these ponies’ coats and manes seemed dulled, and they themselves appeared to be extraordinarily somber, as though a dispiriting cloud hung over each and every one of them. Unsure if they’d noticed her, or were even the ponies she was looking for, Derpy cleared her throat and hailed them, trying to gain their attention.

“Um, excuse me, hello! Do any of you by any chance know where I could find a pony named Dämons Hengst?” Hearing this, a few of the strange ponies turned their gaze towards where Derpy stood, but only for the briefest of moments. Upon catching sight of her almost all the ponies tore apart in a flash, frantically galloping this way and that, much to Derpy’s surprise.

“Woah! Hey! Wait a minute, I- please, just let me explain, I’m looking for- could you please just- ughhh, I just need some directions!” But it was no use; within a minute virtually every panic-stricken pony had fled into what appeared to be a number of doorways roughly hewn into the crystal wall encircling the area.

Huh… didn’t see that coming. Was it something I said?

Recovering from her momentary shock at the ponies’ bizarre reaction, Derpy trudged forward, glancing from side to side into the holes they’d disappeared into.

“Please, somepony, anypony, I just need some help! Please! It’ll only take a second of your time, and I don’t mean any harm, I’m just looking for somepony!”

At that moment Derpy heard a soft grunt out in front of her. Looking straight ahead, she saw at the far end of the space two ponies that she hadn’t noticed: an elderly-looking pony and a tiny colt. The elder, an aged stallion with a silver mane and sapphire-blue coat, was gently but forcefully nudging the colt, who was staring wide-eyed at Derpy, towards one of the doorways. After a second’s more encouragement, the colt scampered off to one of the holes, still glancing over his shoulder every few seconds back at Derpy. Turning her attention towards the elder, Derpy saw that he was now gesturing towards her, waving her over with one of his hooves. With nowhere else to go, she trotted over to him.

“Um, are you Dämons Hengst?”

The elder shook his head and moved aside from where he stood. Behind him was a narrow cleft in the crystal wall that Derpy hadn’t noticed, barely visible even this close. Derpy looked to the elder, who in turn simply nodded toward the cleft. She quickly understood his meaning, much to her chagrin.

Oh perfect… more climbing.

Peering into the cleft, Derpy could make out a dark tunnel lit at intervals by daylight pouring in through skylights carved into the tunnel ceiling. Just as she was about to continue on Derpy felt a hoof gently laid upon her back. She turned toward the elder pony, whose countenance emanated grave concern.

“It’s not too late to turn back; you still have a choice.” Derpy flashed an appreciative smile but shook her head.

“No, I’ve made my choice. Thank you, but I have to do this.” The elder nodded and turned, making his way towards one of the holes and leaving Derpy to do as she pleased. Taking a deep breath, Derpy entered the tunnel, leaving behind the strange settlement.

The air was cool inside, but at least now Derpy was shielded from the winds that had constantly assailed her throughout her ascent. The stairs, like the ones outside, appeared ancient and worn, as though thousands of hooves had trodden over those cold stone steps across the centuries. Thankfully, the grade of the climb was not nearly as steep as it had been coming up the mountain, but still, Derpy’s hooves were awfully sore. Under any other circumstances she probably would’ve chosen to fly the rest of the way, but at this point every single one of her limbs – including her wings – ached far too much to fly even for a few feet. So on she trudged, exhaustion slowly creeping over her with each step she took, yet simultaneously the flame kindled inside continued to grow as well until it was a raging inferno of indomitable will-power, unflinching from the dark path that lay ahead.

After climbing what seemed to be thousands of more steps, her path lit only at intervals by the dozens of skylights overhead, Derpy finally caught sight of a light ahead that did not emanate from the ceiling. There at long last, at the top of the stairs, was an exit; as tall as a minotaur, and wide enough for one to boot, the rectangular opening was clearly no natural formation. Somepony, or ponies, had made this, carved it into the very mountain itself along with the practically endless stairway Derpy had just climbed.

Well, whoever they were they did all this, and nopony would’ve done all this unless it led somewhere worth doing it for. Oh Celestia, whatever’s out there, please let it be what I’m looking for. Please!

With that final silent appeal Derpy dragged her tired limbs over the last few remaining stairs to the exit, emerging from the dark tunnel into the gray light and cold mountain air. As soon as her eyes had readjusted to the blazing light, Derpy saw where she was and knew right away that she’d come to the place she’d been looking for, the place she’d been climbing so very hard to reach all day.

Before her lay a vale, enclosed on all sides by the Crystal Mountains and secluded from the rest of the world save for the well hidden path that led to it. It wasn’t exactly lush; at this altitude hardly anything would grow, and most of the vale was covered in boulders and snow. All that, however, was irrelevant in light of the glaringly obvious elephant in the room that immediately caught Derpy’s attention.

Directly ahead of her across a paved stone bridge lay a castle resting upon a motte in the center of the vale. It was unlike anything Derpy had ever seen before; there were no prettily-colored towers, elegant walkways, or dainty flourishes like at Canterlot Castle. Instead, tall grey drum towers and strong stone walls rose before her, a foreboding sight to say the least. Battlements surmounted the towers and walls, and dozens of arrow slits dotted the faces of both at intervals. Evidently this was no castle for fancy galas or the casual comings and goings of thousands of ponies on a daily basis; this place, secluded and heavily fortified as it was, was clearly meant to keep out anypony who didn’t belong there.

But she’d come all this way: found the flowers, climbed the mountain, passed through the tunnel, and finally ended up here, all in a single day, all for the dream that now burned within her and had kept her going all the way up. She did belong here, deep down in her gut she just knew it! Any pony who’d gone through all that just to find this place belonged, no matter what anypony else said.

Her destination in sight at long last, Derpy determinedly trotted across the stone bridge towards the castle’s gate. As she neared, she realized, much to her surprise, that the gate was already raised and the way before her open.

Well, Mr. Magique did invite me, and that’s an invitation if I ever saw one. Guess it’s time to meet this Dämons Hengst.

Passing through the wide open gates of first the outer then the inner wall, Derpy found herself in the middle of a large courtyard, the castle’s inner ward. A few small buildings lay on the edges of the courtyard, but most appeared to be empty or locked up. At the far end, however, lay the keep, a strong-looking building that towered above the rest. Through the few slender windows that dotted the upper levels Derpy could just make out a faint light and smoke. Somepony was definitely in there all right.

The weary mare briskly trotted over, filled with a nervous excitement and, truth be told, ready to rest and warm her tired limbs after her epic climb. Unfortunately the doors to the keep were locked, so Derpy wearily pounded on the hard wood three times, silently praying that somepony would answer. The snow had started coming down harder than before, and standing there in the frigid cold the poor pegasus’s limbs began to shake.

Please, please, oh please open up! If my own exhaustion doesn’t get me any second now, the cold will.

Just then both doors slowly opened with a loud creak, and Derpy hastened inside, relieved to be indoors and away from the freezing weather. For a few seconds she clumsily stumbled about in the dark, barely lit entrance hall, searching for a helping hoof that might point her in the right direction. Suddenly she heard another creaking sound, and before her a second set of doors opened, revealing a great hall illuminated by a roaring fire blazing in a large hearth.

A great, long table stretched down the middle of the hall; sitting at the far end, at the edge of the light cast by the hearth, was a single pony. Derpy slowly approached, nervous, muscles tense. As she entered the hall she got a better view of the pony facing her; he was a unicorn, coat black as night and mane white as snow, clad in a dark-grey robe. He leveled his eyes on Derpy, staring steadily straight into her own, his face stoic and expressionless.

“Dä- Dämons Hengst? Are you Dämons Hengst?”

All of a sudden a deafening slam rang out behind her and Derpy spun around, alarmed. An earth pony, his entire trunk clad in black armor and wearing a simple black helm, had shut the doors and lain a crossbar across, barring them. He turned and gave the newly arrived pegasus a watchful sideways glance. Derpy heard more movement and turning back saw that at least half a dozen similarly arrayed ponies had emerged from the shadowy edges of the hall, some carrying spears. They all affixed their wary, serious gazes on Derpy, and some began to slowly approach her. As they drew closer, her eyes nervously flew from face to face, and she wondered if she’d said something wrong by mistake.

“Wait!” a familiar voice called out from the dark and the guards stopped dead in their tracks. A second later, none other than Aucune Licorne Magique emerged from the shadows (much to Derpy’s relief), now wearing a dapper white suit and black tie. He stood beside the seated Dämons Hengst, fixing his gaze on Derpy as it seemed everypony else was. Nopony moved a muscle. After an eerie moment of silence, Derpy decided to break the ice.

“I ah, I brought the flower just like you told me to. Here it is, see?” She carefully produced the purple flower from her saddlebag and placed it on the table in front of her. A steel-blue magical aura telekinetically lifted the flower, projected by Dämons Hengst at the far end, who brought it over to where he sat. Twiddling it in the air he and Aucune both eyed it, as though inspecting some rare gem for defects. Apparently satisfied, he laid it down and they both nodded at each other, and finally Dämons Hengst spoke, addressing Derpy in a flat orotund voice.

“Why have you come?”

"Uh, well, because you invited me, I guess. I mean, Mister Magique told me that you wanted me to come, so… here I am!” Derpy offered, cracking a weak smile.

Dämons Hengst rolled his eyes and muttered something to Aucune, who only nodded and stepped forward.

“No my dear, I think you misunderstand. What is your purpose, Derpy Hooves? Why have you come all this way? Why are you here?” he asked calmly.

“Oh, sorry!” Derpy blushed sheepishly, looking down in embarrassment, but quickly collected her thoughts, which at this point was far from easy. The drained pegasus was completely sapped of all her energy and felt as though she might collapse where she stood any minute now. But as she wearily combed the corners of her mind she suddenly remembered her climb. Everything she’d thought of as she made her way through the cold, the snow, and anything else that mountain could throw at her came rushing back, and she looked back up unflinchingly straight into Dämons Hengst’s eyes, armed with an answer.

“Well Mister Hengst, sir, I’m here because I need to be. I’ve spent far too many years wandering about aimlessly, clumsy, the butt of everypony’s jokes, and just not really good at anything at all. After all this time I just don’t know what to do anymore, and that feels… awful. I want to help other ponies like my mother did, Mister Hengst, I want to make a real difference. I know I can, I just don’t know how. But you’ve offered me the chance to find out how and, well, I’m here to take that chance. There’s nothing else better I can do really. I’ll give you my all, every last bit of effort I can muster, if you’re still willing to take me, and maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to find where I belong in Equestria.”

The unicorn narrowed his eyes, studying Derpy; after what seemed like an eternity he finally broke the silence. “In order to find out what you can do, and become a member of the Ordo Extraordinarii, you must first discover who you are.”

Aucune walked over to where Derpy stood. As he neared she thought she saw a look of satisfaction come over his face, and he flashed a small smile at her. “We’ll begin in the morning, Miss Hooves. For now, however, I’d say some rest is in order; you’ve certainly earned it. Your first trial is complete, and now that you’ve been baptized in the fires of this first travail you are ready to begin life anew, like a phoenix rising from the ashes. But go now, you must be weary. Brawny Charger can show you to your quarters. Good night, Miss Hooves.”

One hot meal and refreshing bath later Derpy was nestled under a nice, warm blanket, her tuckered out limbs finally getting some rest. Her room was more like a cell, very small and simply adorned, and her “bed” was more of a cot than an actual bed, but it was certainly a big step up from the prison cell she’d slept in the night before. Besides, none of that mattered to her anyway. She’d gotten here, that’s all that really mattered, and tomorrow all her effort was going to pay off. It was like her whole life was about to start over fresh, a clean slate. If she wasn’t so burned out she might not have been able to fall asleep at all on account of the excitement she felt coursing through her. But soon after wrapping herself in the warm confines of the blanket, weariness stole over the exhausted Derpy and she quickly drifted off to sleep.

Soon, Mama, I’ll be able to show everypony just what I can do, that I’m not just some bumbling clutz. I’ll make you proud yet, Mama! You’ll see, you’ll see. Soon, Mama… soon.

“Well, what did I tell you? Quite a find, no?”

“She already shows potential, that is undeniable. But…”

“But what?”

“Does she really show that much promise? For what we intend to ask of her, I mean?”

“What do you mean?”

“There’s nothing particularly extraordinary about her. She’s hardly the most promising candidate I’ve ever seen.”

“You simply can't see it. Call it instinct, hell, call it a gut feeling if you want, but for whatever reason I see something there. I can't put my hoof on it, but I know it's there; the potential for greatness. My instinct's never betrayed me before, friend, and my instinct's telling me now that that young filly is capable of great things. Trust me.”

“Well... if you feel that way, then that's good enough for me sir. You really think she'll be the final piece of the puzzle for Operation Herz Sturm?"

“Oh yes, there's no doubt in my mind. We're almost there, friend. We're almost there.”

Author's Note:

*wipes brow* Wooh! Well, it's finally here, the second chapter of "Batmare Begins". I apologize to all my readers that it took so long; when you're a senior in college, you pretty much have no free time or energy to devote to writing a fan fiction this late in the year. In fact, I will not actually be able to make any headway on chapter three for the rest of the school year really, so it'll be middle of May before I get to start writing the third chapter. Couple of clarifications since I've made some changes since the first chapter. First, aside from dream sequences, any sentence or paragraph in italics is Derpy's thoughts/inner monologue. Second, after hearing complaints and critiques about it from a number of readers, I have finally decided to remove German dialogue. In hindsight, it's unnecessary, tedious, and just troublesome for my readers, and there's just really no reason for it within the story itself. I have retained German names for a number of locations and other labels attached to the Order itself, and have also changed the Order's own official name from the clunky and generic "Order of Extraordinary Ponies" to the Latin "Ordo Extraordinarii" (Order of the Extraordinary), but besides that, the German is being removed from any dialogue it already took up in the story. I really think that change is for the better, and I thank you my readers for bringing this concern to my attention. Well, I think that's about it, so enjoy everypony!!!

Oh, also, special thanks to my great friend on MLP Forums, DashForever, for providing some wonderful and invaluable assistance in editing this chapter both throughout the writing process and once the first draft was complete.