• Published 6th Feb 2013
  • 2,802 Views, 40 Comments

The Cutters - Priceless911

During an era of war, Three Mercenaries with unknown pasts have rule over all battlefields of every nation... yet there was good reason they were so feared.

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Eden's Secret (part 2)

“I hate heights, I hate heights, I hate them, I hate them, I really, really hate them…”
Traipse continued to mumble to himself as he was trotting along the narrow path that lead down the side of a seemingly bottomless ravine. While continuing on their path Mirage turned and looked at Traipse as he led the way, “Step lightly Mr. Tri… These cliffs are quite treacherous.”
Traipse looked at Mirage and asked, “Are you sure this is the right way?”
Mirage smiled, “You still don’t trust me yet… do you?”
Traipse smiled as he imagined pushing Mirage over the edge of the cliff, “Now what in the world would give you that idea?”
All of a sudden, Blade flew up to the narrow path and spoke as she hovered in the air, “How are you boys doing? Having fun Tri?”
Traipse nervously looked over the edge and sighed when he couldn’t see the bottom of the ravine, “I’d be doing lot better if my hooves were on stable ground, without an endless drop on one side and a ninety foot wall on the other.”

Mirage smiled as he continued on the path, “The brave fighter is afraid of heights, as it would seem.”
Traipse gave Mirage a dull look and replied, “Well I don’t have any wings to prevent me from hitting the ground. So I think I have reason to be.”
Scy flew up and started hovering next to them as she spoke to Mirage, “So how far ahead is it?”
Mirage smiled, “Well angel, we have about a quarter mile left of this trail then it will turn into a slope leading down into the bottom of this ravine. Down there we will reach a cave covered in mist. That, my angel, is the Gate to Eden.”
Mirage looked back at Traipse and replied to his comment, “A maiden with wings who brings good fate and fortune to the ground dwellers below. An apparition of beauty to those around her.”
Scy blushed as Traipse rolled his eyes and mumbled to himself, “Give it a rest…”

Of the group, Blade was the only one who heard Traipse comment so she smiled as she spoke, “Well, we will leave you to your male bonding while the boss and I go ahead. We will meet you at the end of the path.”
Scy sighed as the two pegasi flew ahead, “How many times do I have to tell you? Stop calling me boss.”
When the pegasi were out of sight, Traipse asked, “Hey Mirage?”
Mirage replied, “Yes Mr. Traipse?”
“I heard that you managed to take a book from Eden a few years ago, right?”
Mirage paused for a moment then after a brief hesitation, he continued leading the two along the narrow path, “Yes… I remember that old book. I believe I sold it to the Hooviet Union.”
Traipse continued, “Why did you sell it knowing what it contained?”

Mirage smiled, “Why would you keep bronze, when gold is just around the corner… by the way, what did it contain anyway?”
Traipse was amazed, “You mean you didn’t even know the devastation that book could bring?”
Mirage shook his head, “When I find something with value, I hunt for a high bidder. When I find something useless, then I hunt for somepony who sees value in it. That’s just how I operate. You’re a mercenary, you should know how the world works. Everything and Everypony is useless until a value is found…”
Traipse wanted to ask about Scy, but he didn’t want to hear the answer so he just replied, “Sometimes you have to overlook its value, otherwise you may give away something that is priceless.”
Mirage smiled, “Sometimes even a priceless item will be given up for something.”
Traipse didn’t like this pony to begin with, so rather than start an argument, he just replied, “Whatever you say.”

As Traipse and Mirage continued to trot around a turn, Traipse noticed that the path got even narrower, so he started to hug the wall more and watch his hooves as he continued so he wouldn’t slip. Just up ahead Traipse and Mirage could see Blade and Scy standing on the path as it widened and began its descent. As the two mares waved back Mirage smiled, “You know, there is a sight that has some legitimate value… despite the waste.”
Traipse was confused, “What do you mean waste? Just keep your mind on the tra…”
All of a sudden, Traipse saw a faint green haze surround the ground he was trotting over. As Traipse stared at the confusing green glow, the ground it was touching began to crack and crumble as it fell out from under him. As Traipse began to fall, he quickly started trying to grab the wall. Traipse fell a few feet before he finally grabbed an exposed plant root, stopping himself from the fall as he called out, “SCY! BLADE! LITTLE HELP!?!”

When the two mares saw Traipse in trouble they both leapt from the path and started flying down to help him. Traipse continued to hold onto the root while waiting for his partners to help him, but as he looked up, he saw Mirage looking down at him with an unusual smile on his face, then the same green glow that caused the ground to fall surrounded both Mirage’s horn and the root Traipse was holding onto. Traipse sneered at Mirage, “You Traitorous piece of sh…”
All of a sudden, the branch he was holding onto snapped and Traipse began to fall once again, but this time he only fell five feet before he landed on a large flat boulder that was being held up by the same green haze of magic that caused the fall. Traipse was enraged as the boulder flew up and stopped so he could step back onto the path.

Both The Reaper and Blade laded in front of Traipse as Scy spoke, “Traipse! Are you O…”
Traipse didn’t reply, in fact he trotted right past her and straight toward Mirage. When he got close enough the first thing he did was punch Mirage in the side of his face, then he picked him up by his throat and slammed him against the wall of the ravine and yelled, “YOU!!! WHY DID YOU TRY TO KILL ME!?!”
The choking stallion replied, “I… I don’t know… what you’re talking abou…”
Both Scy and Blade galloped up to Traipse, ‘TRI! Let him go! What’s gotten into you?”
Traipse looked back at the two mares as he replied, “This… this… pretty-colt tried to kill me! First he used his magic to cause the ground to collapse from under me, then he used his magic to cut the branch I was holding onto, and let me fall.”
The Reaper yelled back, “That can’t be true! It was his magic that caught you in the end! So why would he try to kill you, just to save you in the end?!”

Traipse didn’t know how to answer that, “Well… He… I… I Still Don’t…”
Mirages spoke through his strain, “When... I trotted past the… place that fell… I felt the ground… crumble beneath me… so I tried to hold it up… while you made it… passed, but… it fell anyway… then when you were holding onto the… branch I tried… to pull it from the… cliff so you would fall onto… the platform I had ready below you… That’s it! I apologize if my actions… were misunderstood… but that’s the truth.”
Blade spoke next, “You see Tri! It’s just a misunderstanding! Now let him go!”
“Yea but…”
As Traipse looked at the rage on The Reaper’s face, he could only sigh as he slowly lowered Mirage and let him go.

Traipse looked at Mirage and spoke while holding back all his anger, “Sorry… that was my mistake…”
Mirage dusted himself off, and spoke, “There, there… no harm done. Even the greatest of us make mistakes from time to time. So all is well and forgotten.”
Scy shook her head at Traipse as she turned around, “I don’t know what your problem is Tri… But you had better get over it… And soon!”
Traipse was shocked that The Reaper took so much offence to that, “Scy…”
Blade spoke next, “I knew you were jealous… but now you’re just being plain foalish.”
Blade then turned around and angrily trotted off to catch up to The Reaper, as Traipse gave Mirage an angry look, “I don’t know the game you’re playing… but trust me, you will lose if you keep it up.”
Mirage replied as he trotted by, “Mr. Traipse, I don’t know why you distrust me so… but please understand that I'm not out to hurt you in any way… The Cutters are my allies, and… I'm falling in love with Miss Scy, so there isn’t a thing that I would ever do to threaten you or your team. But with the way things are going, I'm afraid you’re making it hard for them to trust you.”

With that, said Mirage started following the two mares leaving Traipse in a state of confusion. This pony was not a member of The Cutters, meaning that for now he can’t be trusted. However, his story seems plausible, and despite their confrontation afterwards, he still spoke politely even after being threatened. But was it too politely? Was he faking everything?… and if so, what was his plan? Traipse quietly followed the rest of the group in silence as they continued to the bottom of the ravine. When they got there, they all saw a large cave that was almost completely concealed by the misty haze that surrounded them. As they entered the cave, Mirage took the lead, “Tread lightly friends, on the other side of this cave lies the mystical forgotten City of Eden, and I'll be willing to bet that we will meet soldiers from other nations defending the treasure it holds.”
As they continued, Blade noticed that Traipse was quiet, so she started trotting next to him and asked, “Still sulking?”

Traipse gave Blade a dull look as he replied, “Are you trying to start something?”
“Look Tri, I don’t know anything about how you feel about the boss, but if you want to get her attention, you need to be honest with your feelings.”
Traipse sighed, “I understand what you’re saying… but this isn’t the right scenario for that kind of advice. My problem is that I don’t trust that stallion at all. There is just something about him that seems… off. I don’t like it, and I wouldn’t doubt that he would stab us in the back the first chance he…”
Before Traipse could finish his sentence, the group of ponies approached the end of the cave that opened up into what looked like a massive crater. In the center was a very large collection of ancient ruins that sat in the middle of a forest. As The Cutters marveled at the sight, Mirage stepped forward, “Behold my friends! The Lost City of Eden!”

Blade looked around the city at the crater walls and spoke, “The wind is very faint here, but the view is breathtaking.”
Mirage explained, “More than ten thousand years ago this was an active volcano… In fact, it was the largest on the entire planet. But one day something happened that caused it to explode in a massive force that left the edges of the volcano intact but destroyed the rest, leaving the volcano dead and dormant. An alicorn king saw use in the surrounding mountains so he sought to build an impenetrable fortress in the center, and as time went by, nomads began to settle near the fortress until this became the safest, most prosperous city in the entire world.”
The Reaper was curious, “What happened to it? Why was the city abandoned after so many years of prosperity?”
Mirage replied, “Nopony knows, some say that a small chasm opened up and sent toxic gas spewing into the city streets. Some say a demon came through and caused the extinction of the alicorn race. And others say that one day, for some unknown reason. Everypony in the city just vanished into thin air. As if they just evaporated into dust.”

Traipse thought to himself then he spoke, “I bet it was greed.”
Mirage looked at Traipse and replied, “Really? And what makes you say that?”
“This treasure you spoke of… if it’s really as large and valuable as you say. Then no doubt, it had something to do with their disappearance. Bandits, a plague, maybe even a mutiny of the king’s guards. All it takes is one desperate soul getting jealous and attempting something foolish, and even an entire nation can fall.”
Mirage shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Oh well, I’d say this is how things operate. Shale we get moving? The entrance to the treasure tomb is at the base of the castle in the center of the city. Once we arrive there we can claim the treasure.”

The ponies traveled from the cave entrance toward the city, but as they traveled Traipse realized something, through all the brush, and forestland that was between the massive city and the only entrance into the Crater, there was zero signs of life other than plant life. No birds chirping, no insects buzzing, in fact the sound of their hoof steps, and the wind was the only sounds that could be heard… other than the annoying sound of the charming unicorn continuously flirting with The Reaper, which only irritated Traipse all the more. But as they took their first few steps into the streets of the once amazing city, Blade Froze in place, “Stop… there are soldiers ahead.”
Mirage looked around, “Where? I don’t…”
“Shhh… Blade? What do you see?”
Blade closed her eyes, as she studied the wind then replied to Traipse, “Three squads… griffin… ponies… all waiting for us… they know we are here… and they are waiting for us.”

Mirage felt a little skeptic, “How do you kn…”
“The wind… I can feel them. One group is in an alley two blocks down. The other two, on the rooftops near the same alley. It would seem as if they are waiting for us.”
Scy replied, “Then we have the upper hoof. They won’t expect us to be expecting them… is that the right way to say that? It sounded a little funny.”
“When it’s said with your beautiful voice… it doesn’t need to be.”
The Reaper playfully nudged Mirage as she smiled, “oh stop…”
Traipse rolled his eyes as he thought to himself, “Yes… please… stop…”
Blade suggested, “It might be best to ignore them and wait till they act first. They’re not in any position that gives them any form of tactical advantage.”
Traipse nodded, “Agreed, we will see what their plan is before we react.”

Mirage smiled, “I didn’t expect the merciless Cutters to be so… organized. I always thought you just reacted in the heat of the moment.”
The Reaper smiled, “No most of the time we would just improvise, but I'm willing to bet that if there are groups here from other nations, then they must be part of a well-trained section of their armies.”
Traipse looked at Mirage and added, “Which means… you better watch how you act.”
Rather than defend himself by making an excuse for his comment, Traipse just rolled his eyes and continued down the street with no reply for Scy’s outburst. Afterwards The Reaper, sighed, “I’m sorry Mirage… I just don’t know what’s gotten into him all of a sudden. He normally isn’t like this.”
“It’s quite alright Miss Scy, maybe when he sees the treasure… he will have a change of heart.”

The group continued down the street, but sure enough as soon as they approached the alley that Blade spoke of, a group of griffin soldiers stepped out of the alley and blocked the road. Then a number of archers wearing Hooviet armor revealed themselves as they stepped to the edges of the rooftops on each side of the street, while a group of Equestrian Pegasi flew out from behind the Hooviet archers, and blocked the road behind them. While all the soldiers watched The Cutters and their companion, a Griffin Officer stepped forward and spoke, “You have entered a restricted area, if you want to continue you must have written consent from Princess Celestia of Equestria, King Harpy of the Griffin Kingdoms, or Prime Minister Nicolai of the Hooviet Union. Otherwise you must leave this city immediately!”

As they usually did in this situation, The Cutters answered with nothing more than an uninterested stare, while Mirage looked around nervously at the surrounding soldiers. As the griffin stood there waiting for a reply, one of the Equestrian Pegasi spoke up, “Wait a second, an earth pony with neon green eyes, a beautiful mare with Blades on her wings… and a cloak covered mare wielding a Scythe… You three are The Cutters aren’t you?”
The group continued to hold their silence as the archers on the rooftops around them drew their bows. The Griffin leader then spoke up, “If you are The Cutters… then we know why you are here… and we won’t let you get away with it. ALL SOLDIERS ATTACK! KILL THE INTRUDERS!”

With their leaders orders, all the archers on the rooftops released their arrows at once creating a closing wave of arrows upon the group, but before the arrows came close to hitting their mark, all the arrows stopped in midflight and hovered over the four intruders. The Hooviet leader was surprised by this more than any other, “This… this is impossible. Not even an alicorn has the power to stop that many arrows a once.”
The four ponies stood in the shadow of countless arrows, as The Reaper looked at Mirage and smiled, “Are you the cause of this?... I'm impressed.”
Mirage smiled, “With this power?… You haven’t seen anything yet my dear”
Mirage looked back at the cloud above him and turned all the arrows around to face out in all directions at once. Seeing this the griffin general called out, “TAKE CO…”
Before the griffin could finish his sentence, the arrows shot out in all direction sending the arrows into everything and everypony around them.

The remaining enemy soldiers emerged from their cover as the griffin yelled through the pain of an arrow that was stuck in his wing, “CHARGE!!!!”
Small groups of Hooviet soldiers charged first from the buildings on each side. As they got close, The Reaper dropped her Scythe, opened her wings, which threw her cloak completely behind her, then she reared up on her hind hooves as she tossed needle after needle at her charging enemy. With almost no time to react and no way to see the thin projectile, the remaining Hooviet soldiers retreated towards the alleys to take cover, as Scy smiled, “Now… we fight in my element.”
Scy then put the hood on her cloak up, picked up her scythe, and backed into the shadow of the building behind her, where she vanished.

As the equestrian pegasi charged towards the group, Blade could only smile as she jumped straight up into the sky as all the equestrian pegasi flew after her. In the sky, Blade flew straight towards a large cloud then when she was passed it, she continued a little higher before diving down through the cloud and attacking the unsuspecting pegasi. Using her quickened agility, she managed to dodge the swords of each equestrian pegasus, and drop the razor sharp edges of her weapon on each one removing heads and wings. Then she turned and flew into a thick white cloud where she waited patiently for her pursuers. By now, the large group of Equestrian Pegasi were marked down to a simple few. But as each one charged into the cloud… none emerged alive. This time Blade focused her mark only on throats, and with horrid screams echoing from the concealment. The white cloud started to turn red.

On the ground, Traipse was annoyed that he was fighting alongside the unicorn that he didn’t trust as they faced off against the griffin forces. Mirage managed to take a sword from one and fight back with that, while Traipse fought back by using his iron horseshoes to block blades and bash skulls. With each passing attack the griffin tried to think of a better strategy until one pulled an unusual sphere from his bag, then he used a piece of flint and struck it against his armor to light the wick sticking out the top. “FIRE IN THE HOLE!!!”
The enemy griffin threw the small sphere at Traipse as he looked at the yelling griffin. As the object flew through the air, Traipse noticed that all the griffin around him quickly took cover, so reacting fast, Traipse picked up a dead griffin’s sword and turned it sideways as he swung and deflected the incoming projectile towards some of the griffin who were scrambling for cover.

As the sphere was now flying away from Traipse, it landed near an old shack and exploded sending pieces of wood, dirt and dust into the air from a few feet away from Traipse. The shockwave knocked him down and stunned him for a few seconds. Traipse stumbled to his hooves and tried to look for his enemies through the airborne dust, but as he did, a griffin unexpectedly landed next to him and swung his talon backwards, bashing Traipse in his face with the top of an iron gauntlet, and knocking him to the ground. As Traipse tried to get back up, the griffin soldier used one talon to pin him to the ground, but before the griffin could finish him off, Traipse managed to put his hoof out and hold the griffins gauntlet back before he could fall victim to the razor sharp claws. As Traipse continued holding the claws just inches from his face, the griffin smiled, “Whatever you’re planning… it won’t work. We will die before we let you endanger us all.”

Traipse felt concerned about the griffin’s words, he replied while holding the griffin’s gauntlet back, “What?... what are you talking about?... What exactly… are you guarding?”
The griffin loosened his grip as he replied, “You mean you don’t know? Our orders are to prevent anything from releasin…”
Before the griffin could finish his sentence, Mirage drove a spear through his torso and flung him off of Traipse, and away from them both. Traipse stood up and looked around to find that all the enemies they were fighting were dead. Then he glared at Mirage and asked, “What was he talking about?”
Mirage dropped the spear and replied as he dusted himself off, “I haven’t a clue as to what you’re talking about.”
Traipse repeated himself, “Don’t give me that? What exactly are we here to steal? Something tells me it isn’t treasure that can be used for money. So explain it to me… why are we here?”

Mirage gave Traipse a skeptic look, “My dear friend, we are here for a mountain of gold and gems… that’s all there is to it. To imply that there is another reason we are here is simply madness. Maybe we should ta…”
Traipse looked and saw The Reaper trotting out of the ally with her cloak and Scythe splattered with blood, “Scy… That griffin, he…”
“NO! I’VE HAD ENOUGH!!! I don’t want to hear any more excuses! You will get along with Mirage because like it or not he IS a member of this team, and he WILL be with us after this mission is over, now shut your muzzle, and let’s go!!!”
“But Scy…”

Acting as if nothing happened, Mirage started down the road and spoke, “Just this way… we aren’t far now.”
The Reaper angrily turned around and started following Mirage down the road as Blade landed in front of them, “Hey boss, what did I miss?”
The Reaper angrily trotted passed her without making eye contact and replied, “We’re going! Let’s keep moving!”
Blade was confused about Scy’s anger, but when she looked at Traipse with an expression that asked, what’s wrong, he just looked away in shame as he started trotting by her following Mirage and The Reaper. As Blade turned to follow the rest of the group, she didn’t know what was going on… but she knew it wasn’t like The Reaper to be so angry at Traipse. She could only sigh, and follow her comrades as they continued toward the treasure.

After a few minutes of awkwardly silent travel, the group made their way to the base of the castle. Afterwards, the group approached a deep hole in the ground that lead into a dark tunnel under the large fortress, that stood above. Mirage then spoke, “This is it my friends… Miss Scy and I should go in alone while you two stand guard up here. That way we can be ready if reinforcements arrive.”
“Oh no! Over my dead and rotting corpse! We came this far and I'm not letting you do this without me! I'm going too!”
Mirage looked at Traipse and replied, “But we need you out here in case we ge…”
“If you want my trust… then you better earn it! Consider this your test. If I like what I see, then you have my trust, otherwise, I still don’t like you.”
“Yea, but…”
“Just let him go already! If he wants to act like a big foal, then let him. Maybe then he will stop whining and shut up for a change!”

Hearing The Reaper speak so coldly about Traipse hurt him deeply, but like the soreness he was still feeling from the explosion earlier, he just ignored it and continued without showing it. Blade was also shocked about Scy’s cruelty, but she just replied, “I'll scrape my Blade against the wall if anything happens out here.”
Mirage sighed, “Very well, we will be back shortly.”
Mirage then jumped into the tunnel followed by The Reaper and Traipse, when they got inside, Mirage used a spell to make his horn glow so they could see, as the trio started traveling down the tunnel.

As they continued, Traipse wanted to talk to The Reaper, but he could tell by the way she was trotting that she was still angry with him, so he just kept his mouth shut. Then something came to mind, why did they enter the tunnel without any carts for this so-called mountain of treasure? Traipse continued to think about this as the tunnel lead into a large room with six pillars sitting in a circular formation with a small brown chest in the center of the room. The Reaper looked around, “What is this place?”
Mirage slowly approached the chest as he replied, “This is the place where the most powerful magic known to ponydom is locked away from those who are too afraid to use it.”
Traipse started looking at the Images carved into the walls as Scy replied, “The most powerful magic known to ponydom? But… is this the treasure?”
Mirage smiled sinisterly, “Not all treasure in in gems, and gold, my dear… take you for example, any stallion who seeks power would see you as a valuable treasure.”

Traipse recognized the images on the wall, they were all identical to the images in the book he destroyed a few years ago, “This Magic… it wouldn’t be the Elements of Harmony… would it?”
Mirage nodded his head, “Why yes… it most certainly is…”
Traipse turned towards Mirage and continued, “Then it would be best if we left this place.”
Both The Reaper and Mirage looked at Traipse and spoke at the same time, “What?”
“This power isn’t like anything we could understand. It would be best if we just left it as is.”
Traipse turned towards the doorway and started to leave as Scy replied, “But Tri… This could be ou…”
The Reaper was silenced when she heard a sinister laugh coming from Mirage, “You pathetic fool… I should have expected you of all ponies to be afraid of real power… but I'm afraid you can’t leave just yet. I still have to test the power of these elements on a living target.”

The Reaper looked at Mirage in confusion, “Living target? Test? Mirage, what ar…”
Before Scy could finish her question, Mirage used his magic to grab the seams of her cloak that was around her neck, and tighten them as he picked her up into the air,”
“Sorry my dear… But Mirage died years ago. I know because I killed him myself.”
Traipse didn’t waste a second, He immediately charged towards Mirage as he screamed in rage, “LET HER GO YOU SON OF A BI…”
Before Traipse could get close enough Mirage used his magic to pick up Scy’s scythe and fling it towards him. Expecting a defense strategy, Traipse flung his hoof up and deflected the incoming scythe with the iron horseshoe. However when the scythe flew out of his way, Mirage had closed the distance between them and punched Traipse in the face before he could react.

After hitting the ground, Traipse shuffled to his hooves only to have Mirage use magic on his body to toss him across the tomb into the furthest wall from him. When he managed to pick himself up, Traipse watched in disbelief as a ring of green magic surrounded the Unicorn’s horn, and make its way down his body changing him into a creature that looked like a cross between an insect and a pony, “What? What are you?”
The creature smiled, “Why… I'm a changeling. Prince, of the changelings to be exact. My name is Prince Aural, future king of the changeling race. I killed that pathetic Unicorn a few days after he discovered this city. I was disappointed to find that he had already sold the book with the recipe to create the Elements of Harmony. But as soon as I heard a rumor that they could be buried here, I knew this would be my destiny.”
“Or you’ll what? You have no power here earth pony.”

Controlled by rage, Traipse charged again, “I'll CRUSH YOUR SKULL WITH MY BARE HOOVES!!!”
However after about three steps, Prince Aural used his magic to pick Traipse up and pin him against the wall, then he used his magic to pull one of the reapers throwing needless out of her cloak and toss it across the room, hitting Traipse in his front left leg, and nailing him to the wall behind him. As Traipse screamed in pain and anger, the Changing smiled, “Don’t worry pony… I won’t hurt her, why would I kill my future bride?”
The Reaper used what little breath she could to speak, “B-bride?... I'll… die… first…”
the prince smiled, “Oh don’t be so dramatic my dear, earlier today, you held the very same thought in your mind, did you not?, and it was this thought in your mind that made me as powerful as I am now… And with the power of the element, I can make it so. I can transform you into the new queen of the changelings. And we both can take over the entire world with that same power. Wont that be fun?”

Speaking through his pain Traipse yelled across the chamber, “NO DON’T, YOU CAN’T DO THIS!!!”
Aural replied, “Sorry Mr. Traipse… I know you were in love with her first. But I made the first move. So it’s only fair that she will be mine.”
Prince Aural turned and started trotting towards the chest as Traipse replied, “NO!!! You don’t understand! You can’t control the power that the Elements of Harmony contain! Besides who is to say, that is the Elements of Harmony! For all we know that could be the Negative!”
Aural stopped and turned towards Traipse, “The negative? What are you babbling about now?”
Traipse explained, “Look, I saw the recipe, I know what it takes to create the Elements of Harmony. But when they are created… something else is too.”
“Something else? What?”
Traipse replied, “Something dark… The negative! If the Elements of Harmony are as powerful as the book described, then it’s only natural that the negative would be just as powerful.”

Prince Aural smiled sinisterly as he looked back at the chest, “Just as powerful you say… then perhaps it can still be of use to me.”
Traipse continued his plea, “That’s not the point! The point is you don’t know what could happen! Look around you, what happened to this city? Why all of a sudden did all its residence disappear? For all we know the negative could be responsible! It could be the reason that this city is now a ghost town. And they may have been locked in that chest to prevent the rest of the world from becoming the same!”
As the Prince approached the chest, he smiled as he broke the lock with his magic, “First of all, we don’t know that this is the negative. For all we know it could be the Elements of Harmony. And second, we don’t know that the negative is responsible for what happened here, so we won’t know until we just take a look.”

The excited prince slowly opened the chest as Traipse nervously watched from the wall. But when he looked inside, all he saw was black sand, “What? what is this? dirt? Nothing but a pile of useless dirt?”
The changeling started sifting his hoof through the sand hoping that what he was looking for was buried under it, but the only thing inside the whole chest was the sand. As Prince Aural continued searching, Traipse cringed as he pulled the needle from his leg and fell to the ground. Then the prince turned toward Traipse with a hoof full of sand and yelled, “YOU! YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS DON’T YOU!?! TELL ME WHAT IT MEANS! Is it some kind of clue? Some kind of hint to the location of the real elements? TELL ME!!!”
Traipse stumbled to his hooves while he replied, “I… I don’t know what that is… maybe the elements were moved.”

Aural stopped speaking when he noticed that the black dust in his hoof started to cling to him and slowly spread out across his arm until it was completely covered, “What? What is th…”
All of a sudden, the dust that completely covered his arm, fell to the ground, leaving nothing behind, no flesh, no bone, no arm, just empty space. It was as if the sand had devoured his entire limb leaving not even a drop of blood in its wake. When this happened, the magic holding The Reaper in the air disappeared, as she fell to the ground. The changeling stood starring at his missing limb in complete shock, then he fell to the ground screaming in agony. Traipse quickly stumbled to The Reaper to protect her from the danger he had just witnessed while the scared Prince yelled, “WHAT!... WHAT IS THIS!... WHAT HAPPENED?... WHY IS THIS?...”
While the prince continued his cries of pain, Traipse reached The Reaper and ignored his own wounds while he tried to pick her up, “Scy… Scy… we have to go… it isn’t safe here… we have to leave now.”

The Reaper continued trying to regain her breath as she replied, “Traipse?... I'm… I'm sorry.. I should have trusted you… I'm sorry…”
With those words, The Reaper passed out as Traipse heard a loud noise coming from the chest. When he looked up, he saw the sand come pouring out of the chest, then it slowly molded itself into a figure like a sand castle on the beach… only it molded itself into a tall black alicorn. The alicorn made of sand had no expression, but it slowly trotted towards the whimpering Changeling and stood over him looking down. The prince didn’t know what to think, “Please… mercy… I beg of you… show mercy to this dying creature… please...”
With an unidentifiable expression, the alicorn slowly started to lean forward, then it fell on top of the changeling as if it had lost its balance. As the sand alicorn hit the changeling, it dissolved back into the sand and covered the prince as he started to scream in agony and fear from which Traipse has never heard before in his life.

Slowly the pile of sand sank into the displacement of what it was covering, as the screams and crying slowly stopped. Then the sand started to accumulate to create the alicorn a second time, showing that the prince, like his arm before, was completely devoured by the sand. Traipse had never been so terrified before, trying to get out of the cave, he put Scy on his back and limped away, but his leg wound was too deep and he had a hard time moving fast. The dark alicorn looked towards him, then it let out a shriek that echoed through the cave like some kind of demon. The alicorn then dissolved back into the sand and started flying through the air like a black tidal wave heading straight for the two ponies. But as the wave got close, it stopped almost immediately as if it had hit some king of invisible wall. Traipse was confused, but when he took a look around the room, he noticed that two of the six pillars in the room had glowing gems on them and that they were the same two pillars that the sand was trying to cross between. Traipse realized that it was the pillars that was stopping the sand, it was as if it was creating an invisible wall that was imprisoning the black sand inside.

The sand tried to fly in all directions at once but once it realized that it couldn’t go beyond any of the pillars, the sand regained its form of the black alicorn and stared at Traipse, then with a booming and terrifying voice, it said one word “SIN!!!”
The sand dissolved then flew back to the chest that sat in the middle of the room and pilled inside as it closed leaving nothing behind… not one grain of sand, no drop of blood, not even one sign of the changeling’s presence. Everything inside the five pillars looked as it did before the group entered the tomb. Feeling as if he cheated death, Traipse carried The Reaper down the tunnel until he reached the hole in the ceiling that they entered through, as he reached the entrance to the tunnel Traipse called out, “Blade! We need some help down here. Scy is hurt!”
Blade looked into the tunnel then flew down when she saw the blood dripping from Traipse leg, “You stupid head! You’re the one who needs help!”
“Traipse replied, “She comes first.”

Blade took Scy and started looking over her, “Where is Mirage? Is he lost or something?”
Traipse replied, “No… he’s dead. Devoured by his own greed. I'm only sorry that I wasn’t the one who killed him.”
Blade sighed, “Dead? What happened? By the way she is fine, I need to see you now.”
As Blade started looking at Traipse leg, as he replied, “Mirage was a changeling. He wanted to steal something precious here, but it wasn’t here, and instead he met his fate to a trap.”
Blade sighed, “Why do I always miss the interesting missions?”
Traipse smiled, “Maybe you’re just lucky. Now let’s get out of here, maybe there are some medical supplies in an abandoned hospital or something.”

A few hours later the three mercenaries were just outside Eden as Blade finished stitching and bandaging up Traipse wound, “There all done… I think.”
Traipse gave Blade a dull look, “You think?”
“I'M NOT A DOCTOR! Despite how good I would look as a nurse.”
Traipse sighed, “Just because you say that, makes it even more disturbing than it already is.”
Blade popped Traipse in his bandage, “HEY!”
She smiled back, “You started it… besides, somepony needs your support right now.”
Traipse looked in the direction that Blade started pointing in, to see The Reaper sitting on the edge of the cliff looking into Eden. Then Blade smiled, “I'll leave you to it, go get her tiger.”

Traipse trotted up to The Reaper and sat down beside her, “Can you believe it Scy?... Eden, the last city of the alicorns. And it really existed, we are really here... and we…”
Tears started to roll down Scy’s face as she interrupted him, “I'm sorry… I... I'm responsible for this… I should have listened to you from the start… but I was blinded by my own heart… why is it that everypony I fall in love with betrays me? Why?”
Traipse sighed “It’s not your fault Scy. This one used magic, it was probably a spell if anything. Besides maybe you haven’t met the right stallion yet… maybe the right stallion is just around the corner.”
Trying to insinuate that he was talking about somepony else, Traipse nervously looked away as The Reaper smiled, “Maybe… he is right here.”
Traipse blushed , “Well… I… um…”
“I was conscious when Mira… I mean that changeling said that you loved me… was he telling the truth?”
Traipse whole face turned red, “I… uh… well… ya see… uh…”

Scy kissed Traipse on his cheek then leaned against him, “In a way… I already knew. But you still manage to surprise me.”
Traipse tried to think of a reply but there was only one thing he could think to say, “When I was four years old, I was taken from my parents by King Sombra, and forced to become a foal soldier. When I was six… I took my first life, it was a fellow soldier. We were both locked in a cell and told that we wouldn’t get any food or water, and that only one of us would leave there alive. At first, I thought that meant that when one of us died of starvation, that the other would be freed. But I was wrong. That night while we slept, the other foal, realized what it meant so he tried to strangle me in my sleep but I woke up first, and using my bare hooves. I bashed his head against the bars until it cracked open like an egg.”
The Reaper was confused, “Why are you telling me this?”

Traipse smiled as he explained, “That changeling may have been a snobby traitor. But he had a point, I trust you with full knowledge of my past. And whether you trust me or not, is your decision, Scy. I… I love you, and I want to be by your side until death. Even though I don’t know how to show my feelings for you… I just want you to know, that if you want a stallion who won’t betray you… I'm right here.”
Tears came to her eyes, as she leaned back against him and smiled, “When I was newborn, my parents died keeping me warm in a blizzard. I only survived, because a group of traveling Nomads found me and gave me a home. Back then… they called me Serenity…”

Back in Eden, on the tallest tower there was a flash of light as Princess Celestia, an earth pony and a griffin appeared on the balcony. As soon as the flash ended the earth pony dropped to his knees, “The reason I became prime minister, is so I can travel in nice relaxing carriage from place to place. But here I am, teleporting. My stomach can’t take much more of this, princess.”
Princess Celestia looked around as she replied, “My apologies Nicolai… but this is a matter of great importance. We needed to get here fast.”
The griffin stepped forward and spoke, “Well whatever it was… it looks like the danger never took place since the city is still standing, but it’s not like my soldiers to make false accusations about an attack.”
Princess Celestia looked into the distance and spoke, “Maybe they aren’t false… look there. Do you see those ponies on the cliffs? King Harpy you have good eyes, can you identify them?”
The griffin king approached the balcony and looked at the figures, “The Cutters? But why would they attack here?”

The Prime minister spoke up “Vould they try to bring the end of the vorld?”
Princess Celestia replied, “No… Traipse may seem cruel, but he does have a heart. I think this matter solved itself. Do they have the chest?”
King harpy replied, “No… they seem wounded… but they only have what they brought with them.”
Princess Celestia sighed in relief, “Good… then we have no further business here. As long as that chest stays, where it is… then we are safe. Let us return to our nations and replace the fallen soldiers lost today… otherwise we have no further need to intervene with The Cutters. I also ask that you two don’t mention this to them. The further they are from the truth the better.”