Serpent of the south

by J-90

First published

There is a creature in southern land's, that is nearly as old as the nation of Equestria. Once referred as the queen of the forbidden jungle, later imprisoned in Tartarus. Now it's free to roam the land once more.

Getting hit by a truck usually hurt's when you're awake during it. Not for me though; I got sent somewhere else by it. Now I'm in a land of colorful ponies, as a quite big, six-armed snake-lady with six sword's. And now I have some "sun worshipping" ponies after me... Because I'm different or something. All the while i'm just trying to survive. At least I got some friend's...

I am Naja, former human now in a body of a marilith. Known as the serpent of the south.

Displaced-esque story Inspired to start by Hollow Shades written by Dilos1. Go give it a read.
Tags and rating might change as story progresses. My first story here, chosen from several other idea's with a coin flip. Story was planned before the movie, so some thing may or may not be included...

Edit; WUT? Saw this on the featured-box on 26.12.2018 for a short moment? Did not see that coming... And again on 6.4.2019?... And once again 20.5.2019...3.8.2019...

Prologue: AKA starting a tale

View Online

Prologue: AKA starting a tale

Tartarus. The prison of demons, ancient evils and other no-do-gooders. It has everything you would need: chains & shackles, no warm meals, stony floor for a bed and almost no company to talk with. And it also has been my home for a looong time. No idea how long though. Could have been month's, maybe weeks or multiple years.

You cant really count days when there is no sun-rise or sun-set in here, due to this place being underground somewhere. And I was also asleep plenty during my stay here. In a way doing that helps to pass the time. Also it is somewhat hard to see this place as a prison, when THE ONLY some kinda warden is a big three-headed dog. This place is more like a dumping place to send those that do not meet some arbitrary criteria of somepony sitting on their ample white, cake filled, arse in high place. In my case it also had something to do with killing somepony by accident in self defence.

Ah, look at me. Rambling on without even introducing myself. Hello, my name is Naja... There, introduction done... Oh right, and i also have humongous purplish serpent body from waist down, aand six arms which are all chained up. To summarize my appearance in short, I look like marilith from final fantasy series. Specifically the one from fifteenth installments anime movie thingy, which by the way is pretty nice piece of animation.

Yep, I used to be a human once. So how on earth did I end up in this place in a body of fictional monster? Well apparently same way as some other's... By being in a wrong place at the wrong time I think. Guess I better recap, maybe by starting from the beginning, from the day my old life seemingly disappeared... In flashback...

???? year's ago somewhere...

Another dull day at work behind, another evening at internet cafe's window booth. Sure I could have just gone home and burn the web there, but this place has really good bagels served for customer's for free. Kinda good way to get client's.

While eating some of that free snack, I check some random videos, mostly about Final fantasy and colorful cartoon ponies. Also known as MLP. Watching both of those thing's is kinda meditation to me, aside of actual meditation I occasionally practice. But now I'm doing one of those dumb questionnaire-test things, because why not? And the result is... "Everybody loves Cthulhu"? Well this did not make much sense like some other's of it's kin.

Next thing I hear is a truck horn blaring somewhere near, making me glance at window. Only to see out-of-control sixteen-wheeler coming right at the cafe, before everything goes black...

'Ooow, my head is killing me...' was all I could think while regaining my consciousness. At the same time I noticed that I was laying on grass. Is this afterlife or something? Soon I notice that I'm in some forest, or I think I am since there are trees around me. They also seem bit smaller than I remember trees being normally.

Pretty soon I try to get up, still feeling quite dizzy. It was then when I noticed that I had four extra arm's pushing me up, taking all of them in front of me so I can see them... Yep, six bluish arms total with five finger's each. Looking up I notice six sword's before me, stabbed at the ground, all of them similar to the FFXV's anime marilith had.

Then I made mistake of looking behind me. There wasn't anyone there... Just a hugeish purple snake tail with darker purple pattern on it. And it was attached to my waist, seemingly replacing my legs.
"Ok... Just stay calm... You just seemingly got turned into some fantasy-creature from video-game and transported who know's where. No biggie, heheh..." I managed to say to myself, with slightly increasing volume, only to hear that my voice sounded deeper and more like a feral groaning and grunting sounds.
Eye twitch... Deep calming inhaling... -Aand then I screamed from the top my lung's. Even scared plenty of bird's into flight somewhere nearby. So yeah, that's how my new life started out.

Somewhere nearby...

Loud scream-like sound echoed somewhere, reaching ears of an certain young unicorn stallion with a goatee, who was cataloging and sketching some of the local plant's in simple journal. The sound did catch his attention quite well.
"Hmm... I wonder what that might be? Did not sound like manticore or hydra." young Starswirl The Bearded muttered to himself, while looking at the direction of nearby forest... And then heading toward's it.

Back in un-named forest somewhere...

Amazing how stress or sometimes shock can sometimes dissipate quite fast when you just loudly scream your lungs empty. After I managed to calm myself down and somewhat strangely quickly coming to terms with my new body, I went on to pick up the swords, which seem to be now real one's, and, after testing, sharp enough to fell a tree. The weird thing is, I have never actually used an actual sword, not to mention six at the same time. I guess my body had somehow "speed-adapted" to it's extra hands, without any coordination problems.

After getting tired of pointless sword swinging, I noticed the piece of paper on the ground, with some hasty looking writing on it.

<If you are reading this, you just got successfully reincarnated into other dimension. For that I'am sorry, did not expect that truck to arrive. So now you have new body and some powers, which I let you to figure out on your own. Ain't I a stinker?
So have fun with your new life. Try not to get yourself killed. Also; "Everybody loves me Cthulhu"!
And the name was something eldritch writing... Creepy... And the next after reading the message, the paper just... crumbled to dust... OK...

'Well I probably should figure out how to carry these swords around other than my hands. Wish I had some pocket dimension to send them' I thought. And that moment the swords just disappeared in a little flash of light... 'WAT?! How do I bring them back?!' and they appeared back to my hands. Guess that settle's that; my the swords come and go when I want them to.

After putting four sword's away, wherever they go, I started to think some necessary thing. Like what could I eat? I did seem to possess rather omnivorous teeth. And this was followed by grumbling from my stomach. So I guess it's off to finding food with me then.

About 30 minute's later...

It took little bit of slithering around the forest, but I finally found some fruit trees on small clearing. Pear it seems. And they sure where easy to pick due to my size, and they also where tasty. Only problem is that I had nothing to transport them with, and I was NOT going to make improvised bag out of my clothing! Despite changing form, I still had some dignity left.

I didn't manage to think about material's for possible bag, when my thinking was interrupted by some growling nearby. Had no idea what creature it was, but it still put me on edge, making me instinctively summon all my blade's. And sounded like that there where more than one of them...

In bushes nearby...

Starswirl was amazed of the unknown serpentine creature he had located in the forest, wisely staying hidden from it. Unicorn wizard had also managed to make rough sketch of the creature, which was quite enormous in size. At least when compared to ordinary size of your average pony.

His academic thinking was interrupted though, when pack of five manticores arrived and started to growl their challenge to the serpent creature, which had magically called swords to it's frontal limbs... 'Hands, i think minotaurs called them' Starswirl thought momentarily, while casting a spell to hide his scent from manticores, which were now growling and roaring their challenge to the creature. It answered with it's own roar while spreading it's hands and blades, like trying to look more intimidating.

It didn't seem to work too well, since one manticore took attacking leap towards it... Only to get skewered on two sword's held by serpent and subsequently smashed to ground, quite dead. This seemed to agitate two more manticores into attacking, with very little success; One got held back and impaled to death by the blade's and second received seemingly bone crushing blow from creature's long muscular tail, which send it flying against a tree. It did not get up again.

At this point the remaining two un-injured manticore's seemed to realize that this creature was not an easy prey, and quickly fled the clearing. The serpent creature seemed to calm down after danger had passed. Hiding unicorn wizard was still amazed by serpent's fighting capabilities and writing it up in journal, that he didn't notice it looking over three manticore corpses, then proceeding to skin them, somewhat crudely but well enough.

By the time Starswirl had written his notes down, the serpent creature had started to cook now skinned and gutted manticores on simple bonfire, seemingly made by making sparks with one of the blade's and a rock. Luckily he had seen other creature's, like griffins cook with open fire, and even had a taste of said cooking, which was rather... Interesting experience, and without puking it out.

'Well it's clearly an omnivorous being, like someponys. Even though we prefer vegetable's. And clothing and weapon's hint it's intelligent too... Interesting...' unicorn wizard thought to himself, while scribbling notes down again. Then he made mistake of moving too much, which caused him to step on dry stick. And the crack it made sounded very loud for some reason, catching serpent's attention.

Starswirl, as a smart pony made first logical decision at that point... And started running away really fast, only to stumble and fall over.
The next thing stallion felt in a moment was being lifted up by his tail, leaving him hanging up-side down like a bat or thestral in some places. And soon he was eye to eye with the snake creature, who seemed to be looking at him both confused and curious expression. Luckily it didn't seem hungry for little pony snack...

'Ok, I think I'm in some sort of pony-land, potentially alternate-version of Equestria... Well that's just dandy' Naja thought while holding unicorn by it's tail. It was little bit bigger than her head, but what can you do when your a humongous snake creature.
This one did not look like anypony she had seen in the show, but you never know until you figure out where you are in timeline and all that. Strangely the pony wasn't panicking while hanging by it's tail. Any other creature would be flailing like crazy by now. It even got a cute goatee... No idea who this pony might be. With that thought, I just put the pony down. And after getting on it's hooves, it took off fast and disappearing in a flash of light.

'Hmm... I wonder how this will affect my later interactions with some other ponies? Or other races that might be out there...' she thought, while turning back to the cooked manticores. She was not going hungry at the moment at least...

Chapter 1 Hapless fortunes (edited...)

View Online

chapter 1

two month's later...

'Well this suck's big hairy potato sack...' were my toughs while watching cold iron bars before me. After a couple of month's of slithering around forests, despite my best effort's, I ended up attracting some attention. Sometime after the 'goatee-pony', some farmers saw me from afar, then week after that some patrol of soldier's tried to do something with poor quality spears. I mostly managed to spook them away, pulling some intimidation moves, like rising up threateningly, roaring and one time setting my sword's on fire. The last one was total surprise.

Turns put I could imbue my swords with elements, namely fire, ice and lighting... Neat! And little after that trial-and-error discovery, was followed by learning that I could cast fire magic. Almost fried small forest area with fire-balls and some stream's of flames while initially panicking... During which I noticed that I didn't burn at all, and the heat from fire actually felt pleasant like. So I guess I was immune to fire, or something similar. It would also explain the slight discomfort I got when wielding my blades imbued with ice. I wonder do I also hibernate?

Back to the iron bars before me. I was in a HUGE cage at the moment, in some kind of carnival fair, called "Equestria's beasts" , with some other feral animals in cages, mostly the feline variety. The reason I was here as a attraction was because of me sleeping in a quite open cave at the edge of the forest about a week ago. So someone, or rather somepony found me sleeping and decided to capture me at my weakest moment to make money.

Suffice to say I was preeetty pissed about it. But I still decided to keep my swords hidden in their pocket-dimension and see what happens. What did happen, was that the creature caretaker-pony seemingly tried to drug me like some of the more violent animals, by putting something in their food. Did not seem to work on me, but I decided to play along and pretended to be more temperate from potential sedatives in food. Which consisted mostly some sort of gruel like mush. Good thing I seemed able to fast a long while, like ordinary snakes.

"I told ringmaster Whipper we should have gotten rid of the animals! Now the Royal couple are here with a bunch of soldiers!" I heard nearby pony yelling worriedly to another close to my cage. I was just leaning on my coiled snake tail, looking at them while trying to look lazy.
"Really? I heard they even have the princesses with them." other pony answered, sounding intrigued. And that little info also got my interest; would the princesses be young adults or maybe still fillies? If this carnival's name is anything to go by, this is indeed Equestria.

Soon there was some commotion nearby, and next I see the ringmaster Whipper, a beige earth pony wearing simple brown full-body vest with a whip hanging from it, and two adult alicorns. First is tall, muscular golden yellow stallion, with darker yellow mane, brown eyes and wearing quite elaborate golden crown. The second one was equally tall, slender white mare, with red mane, bright blue eyes. Instead of crown, she was wearing simple laurels.
Next to stallion was walking young, seemingly pre-teen I think, pink maned alicorn filly with purple eyes. And on adult mares back, on a modified saddlebag carrier, was snoozing blue baby alicorn filly, with lighter blue mane. It was pretty obvious who the little one where, but I was still waiting confirmation.

"As you can see, your highnesses, the creatures are quite healthy and fed. Even this weird abomination of a snake." ringmaster talked to the alicorns, waving his hooves in my direction, like some kind of salesma-... -pony. All I did was look at the alicorn family with little head tilt, somewhat interested.
"It indeed looks like some magical freak born of some messed up spell or alchemy. Amazing it even lives." golden stallion stated, voice almost oozing superiority-complex. I was already starting to hate him, conveying it with slight glare at him.
"Solaris, dear. I think thou should not say such things. It seemed this being understood your tone. And its not exactly good impression for Celestia, or little Luna" mare said to Solaris, clearly being the sensible one of the two, revealing fillies names in the progress. Little Celly seemed to eye me curiously, but there seemed to be more than tiny drop condescending attitude. Guess she is not yet the loving pony she would become.

"Beg your pardon, Queen Faust, but I'm little bit on your husbands side on this." ringmaster Whipper interrupted, and then started to go on and on about how dangerous I was and plenty of other racist, or maybe more speciest, comments so offensive it soon made my blood boil over... Making me slowly rise in upper position, looking furious with a snarl.
Next thing I and ponies knew, was me summoning all of my six blades and slicing the cages bars and wooden roof to oblivion with oddly syncronized slashes, crushing rest of the whole cage-cart away with swing of my tail.

Needless to say, everypony were shocked, completed with open mouths. This was followed by good amount of fair workers starting to run around screaming their heads off. Royal family took several steps back, with Faust concentrating in covering their foals and Solaris with horn beginning to glow reddish light.
The ringmaster quite surprisingly got more cahones, with him drawing his whip out, beginning to swing it at me, only getting few growling hiss out of me.

"Back! Get back you malformed scaly freak of a beast!!" Whipper yelled, swinging his whip near my face, barely missing my eye. And that what made me finally snap, which I showed with a loud roar and a stab at that clearly speciest pony. There was an satisfying sound of metal piercing flesh, when on of my sword's nailed the f*cker to the ground through his stomach, almost to the hilt.
Amazingly I managed to pull my sword out without further damaging ringmaster pony, and then turned to leave this place. Preferably far from here...

If it just where that easy to leave. After barely slithering about hundred feet away, a red energy bolt whizzed past my head. A quick glance revealed that Solaris had started to fire at me, while taking flight.
"YOU'LL PAY FOR THAT, MONSTER!!" he bellowed at me, while charging another bolt. Needless to say, I was getting the heck out of there. And it was not as easy as you might think; you try slither away fast, with about two ton tail, from angry flying, and potentially speciest, alicorn stallion chasing you.

Maybe around five minutes of escaping later, he was still chasing me with a killing intent, shooting beams at my direction, many of them missing and scarring surrounding land with burning lines and few burned marks on my tail. Most definitely this one was not for the 'love and tolerate'-thing. And whole being fired at and being repeatedly slandered and threatened was seriously getting me more and more angry, bringing with it this weird burning feeling...
Finally that burning boiled over, instinctively making me turn around, unsummon one of my blades away, pointing the freed up hand at the golden alicorn and made 'closed-fist' motion... Making air in front of him violently explode in white and blue flames, so bright that even I had to squint little bit. And it also spread some more flames into surrounding area.

While getting my eyes clearer, I heard something dropping on the ground. And soon realized it was that alicorn, Solaris I think, looking quite dead; with multiple severe looking burns, neck in odd angle and eyes dull.


Scream cut trough my hearing, drawing my attention from stallions corpse into a young pink maned alicorn, rushing towards said corpse, eyes heavy with tears. I couldn't help but feel little sad about seeing young one seeing their parent die, no matter how rotten said parent potentially was.
Then she looked at me, eyes still teary. I answered to it with sympathetic head tilt to the side. And little Tia seemed scared, sad and angry, all at the same time. Interesting sight to say the least. Knowing I wasn't able to communicate properly to anypony, I turned, with heavy hearth, to leave. And received a little golden magic bolt whizzing past me. It even managed to cut a small lock of my hair off.
This time I just decided to ignore the little shooting attempt and just kept slithering away from clearly vengefully sad filly. There was few more golden bolts, which where too weak to do any serious damage.

'I just know this will come to bite me in the tail someday. But you can always hope it doesn't... Even if it's only fool's hope' I thought to myself, while managing to get away from ponies, hopefully even further from their land's...

Later amongst ponies...

After the serpent beast was gone, everypony gathered to mourn loss of their king, who's corpse was already moved into temporary coffin for transport. There where also number of injuries being treated, result from king 'loose-cannon' firing; few minor burns from fires his magic made. Only one more seriously injured was the ringmaster Whipper, who was still in lot of pain but would miraculously live.

Then there was the remaining royal family's pain. Queen Faust understandably mourned her husband who, despite his speciest ticks, was a good stallion once. She still had no idea what caused him to change.
Next to her stood Celestia, eyes slightly red from crying for her dead father. And little Luna was still snoozing on their mothers back, clearly being heavy sleeper.

"Don't blame your father, OR the serpent for their actions Celestia. He had a habit of doing snap decisions, more often than you think. And the serpent most likely desired to be free and was in agitated state. And clearly we did not know what it was capable of. To kill a magically powerful being such as alicorn requires lot of power, whether it be by physical or magical means..." Faust tried comforting her daughter, holding wing over her shoulder. Young sun-princess-to-be barely acknowledged it.

'One day father... One day I will find that serpent creature and avenge thee...' young Celestia promised to herself, while holding a lock of marilith hair...

Chapter 2 Quick chase and a new home (edited...)

View Online

Chapter 2 Quick chase and a new home

three month's after the death of Solaris...

Three months, three long freaking month's have passed after my little brush up with the pony royal's and accidentally killing the king with flare-spell. Figured latter out soon after getting somewhere safer to think for a moment. I guess alicorn is not immune to a non-elemental-spell, that seemingly got stronger from my anger fueled to the 'boiling feeling'.
Figured out the emotion side of it by trying to cast flare again. First ten or so attempts where closer to small firecracker, until I got frustrated with small amount of anger and got bigger explosion happen. Still smaller than the one that killed the king.

Aside from figuring out the control of my explosive spell, I had to pretty much sleep one eye open, due to loads of bounty hunters and soldiers coming after me. Most definitely I had a price on my head now for obvious reasons.
All close call encounters where with a bounty hunter group of four ponies; two pegasi, earth pony and unicorn, two griffons and a minotaur. All of them seemed to even have an actual working strategy, compared to the official soldiers, who simply rushed at me, if they managed to find me, spears pointed upfront, which caused plenty of broken spears. Clearly guard did not have well crafted weapons yet, or more serious training.

informative flashback...

"Chaaarge!!" commander yelled, while pointing his hoof towards huge sleeping serpentine creature, responsible of their kings death. And dozen soldier company indeed charged towards the monster, spears held proudly, ready pierce its hide.

And they the spears reached their target... Only bend and break, like frail foals toys on impact with its hide. But they did manage to receive sleepy serpents attention. And it seemed little peeved for the rude awakening.

"...Retreaaaat!!!" was commanders final order, before everypony ran away from serpent, who was preparing a fireball... Three soldiers lost their manes...

informative flashback end...

The hunter group on the other hand, actually first study me from a safe distance. Luckily I managed to notice one pegasi and griffon on low hanging cloud briefly, and managed to behave like nothing was bothering me.
Then they tried to use baited death traps, like pitfalls with spikes, several feather spear traps and such. I managed to avoid most of them, but still did get some scratch and few puncture injuries on my humanoid side. Luckily snake tail part of me survived without any puncturing hits; I'm still not sure where my vital organs are located, so I worried for a good reason.
Couple of times they even managed to ambush me and just attacked. Most of them had swords, but minotaur wielded an axe. Those scuffles ended mostly with them retreating after one of them injured too much, either by my blade, tail or basic fire-magic.
As this little dance with them went on, I learned to wield my swords even better, even if it was mostly holding back my killing-intent while letting instinct lead the blades, quite effectively. One time I even blocked unicorns magic-bolt barrage via blades.

informative flashback...

Shadow Petal POV

"Give us some covering fire! Were getting out of here, NOW!!" roared minotaur, Greyhorn, while carrying Swift Wing, groups poison loving griffon, away from the monstrous serpent creature, we have been following and trying to bag, which was approaching them just slithering slowly through flames that covered good chunk of their surroundings. Maybe it was not such good idea to annoy it from afar... It lit up surrounding very fast once we closed in on it.

With only me and Falgo, our big softy of a griffon, left properly standing, while the rest have gotten injured in many ways, I could come up only one thing in a short notice.
"Falgo! Grab my tail and crank it!" I yelled at him. "What?! Shadow Petal, I don't think now is not the best time to do that!" was his answer.
"What?!! No, not like that dummy! The maneuver!" I yelled back, my cheeks burning. After clearing that out, we got in the position, me pointing my horn toward the serpent and Falgo holding me from my front and tail. And then we did our little rapid-fire maneuver at the creature.

My grayish bolt's flew well and fast. i knew they most likely could not kill the serpent, but that was not the task now. We only had to make it stop advancing toward us as fast. And it did stop it's advance to cover itself, and block the magic bolts with it's blades, either by slashing them, deflecting them or just plain blocking them. Quite fluidly I might add.
Several bolts did find their badly aimed mark, but they were all just concussive shots.

"All right! Let's all get the buck out of here!!" we heard Greyhorn yelling, and saw him pull out a teleportation-charm, he kept for a quick escapes. And soon I felt the feeling of being pulled away from this place before the serpent, who was just that second seemingly breathing a stream of fire towards us.
Next thing I knew, we all were completely different locale, to lick our wounds.
"Alright, let's get patched up. And Falgo, you can let go of Petals tail now."

informative flashback end...

Finally after many attempt's to get me captured or dead, I think it was four-hundredth and twenty-sixth attempt, they gave up and left me alone. Maybe they came to conclusion that I was not worth the reward offered. Good for them.
I on the other hand managed to finally get far enough from ponies. Or at least after successfully crossing a swamp, 'Hayseed swamps' I think it was called, and reached some jungle. At least it's nice and cozy temperature around here.

Good weather aside, I was going to find somekinda proper home to stay in. After finding coastline, I decided to head towards the inland jungle, which led me to old almost overgrown path. And following said path, finally led to some nice looking temple-pyramid's ruin.
After confirming it to be truly abandoned, containing about four room-entry hall and shrine/central-room, pyramid ruin, it's structural-integrity was quite sound.
And its room size's where also comfy for somebeing of my frame, having enough room to move around and not hitting my head at the roof. With a little work, it can be livable place. Just have to clear out some overgrown plants and get some manner of proper bedding and I'm good to make a average time living here... Thank goodness I have gotten several different shock's out of my system soon after coming to this world...

Back in Equestria. Canterlot castle...

"What do you mean it has disappeared?!" Celestia yelled at guard, who was reporting latest official information about serpentine beast, that had killed her late father king Solaris.

"Exactly that, your highness. The creature has not being seen after it evaded capture in southern border of Equestria few days ago..." guard answered, ears ringing a little bit from royal shouting. Luckily princesses yelling was not in the level of queen's 'royal voice'.

"Well try and find that accursed monster and...!" young princesses rant-like order was interrupted by sound throat clearing right behind her, making her turn around slowly and find her mother standing there.

"You may leave. I will take it from here." Faust told the guard, who left with a thankful bow to her. After that was cleared up, queen turned her attention to the princess.
"Might I inquire why you are terrorizing our guards and palace personnel, AND have put out wanted posting's of the serpentine being with obscene bounty rewards, that could potentially bankrupt our nation?" she asked Celestia, while looking obviously disappointed.

"B-but mother..."

"I understand you miss your father, and want his death avenged. But I cannot allow you to do it in a way that might make our subjects suffer for it. If you off change manage to pay the promised reward, we would need to make cuts in several part's of royal budget. All of which are necessary to keep the palace and more importantly, our country running smoothly."


"No buts little miss! I will send an order to make your little bounty offer null and void at the next court. And you are grounded until further notice." Faust gave final say, with a ground thundering hoof-stomp to emphasize, and left with an disappointed scowl.

After this, Celestia returned back to her room, head hanging low. Said room was somewhat bare for a young princess; there was a bed, vanity table with a mirror, balcony with a nice view, simple small bookshelf and closet with several outfits for the more formal occasions.
One of the rooms walls was dominated large painting, which pictured the royal family; King Solaris, Queen Faust, Princesses Celestia and Luna. Latter was still little baby foal in the painting.
Somberly glancing at the painting, Celestia walked to her vanity table, ruffling trough one its drawers and fishing out a familiar lock of hair, held together with a gray ribbon.

"Where ever you have crawled into hiding monster... One day, I will find you and make you pay..." princess whispered a promise while glaring the lock of hair, like it was the most offending thing in the world. After putting the offending piece of hair back into the drawers, Celestia went to the bookshelf to choose something read while waiting for her mother to repeal the 'being-grounded'-order.

Chapter 3 Highlights of the new life... With potential exposition

View Online

Chapter 3 Highlights of the new life... With potential exposition

Day numbeeer... Maybe around a week or so after finding the pyramid-temple-ruin I have made my home in. Finally got last of the plant's besieging the stonework, and it was quite an undertaking overall; pulling, cutting them out, burning them to ashes and occasionally getting slapped on my face by some of the vines when they finally got loose after pulling them from between the stone bricks.
After all that work, the place sure looked a lot nicer and cleaner, but it still had that ancient ruin vibe to it. And I liked it.

Also the 'weed-burning' allowed me to hone my fire magic to three levels. Now alongside of my basic fireball and a steady stream of flame, I got explosive fire-bolt, that looked almost solid red orb before impact with the target. Not as destructive as flare, just basic flames expanding from impact point to reasonably large area before going out. Decided to name them Fire 1,2 and 3 in said order... Genius naming, I know...

Night's went well enough in one of the temple rooms with some type of wee-olden like kitchen thing in its neighbour room, even though sleeping on my own tail began to get old. That in mind I begun to search some proper like bedding materials.
Making an comfortable enough bed for some giant snake-creature like me, took around four or five days. The bedding was somewhat messy combination of few roughly cut wooden beams, some straws, some wild growing cotton and several soft furred skins of some animals from the jungle. I named one of the animals a 'Dire sloth' and it was a HUGE one. Maybe around twice my size while both of us where standing upwards.

Only reason I managed to take one down was little attack I seemed to 'unlock'; a mustard smelling lump ,hacked out from my throat, that became gaseous upon impact. Knocked the beastie out cold after it tried to take a swipe at me, but I did get a sore throat afterwards. Dubbed the move 'Mustard Bomb' in honor of same move in FF-series.

Another weird animal in the jungle was a huge one-eyed bear. A Nandi bear, if my memory about random drops of knowledge about crypto-zoology were right. And its single eye could actually fire magical beams, that seemingly could paralyze its target. At least I think that what it was supposed to do, since beams that did hit me only made my tail go slightly numb. And said face-off revealed little nifty feature about swords; they could actually absorb magic when activated with a certain thought, and I felt slightly energized after it happened. Reminded me about the Runic-blade ability, and thus named the skill after it.

After all of those scuffles with the jungles fluffy killer animals, I managed to heal myself with another 'unlocked' move or skill; simple physical injury healing spell and another that seemed to heal ailments, so I guess they where close to 'Cure' and 'Esuna'. And yes, I named them so.


Date... Probably two weeks after getting myself a good enough bed to sleep in. In order to ward off boredom, I started using my blades, which seemed to be eternally sharp, to carve the walls of one of the rooms, which was left from the main entrance and opposite from my bedroom doorway. Maybe it used to be an storage room back when this temple was brand new.
Now it was going to be my little diary-wall, with simple carvings and some little text in english. First carving set was me getting hit by the sixteen wheeler, followed by stylized picture set of me getting transformed into a marilith form by the old squid-face, holding its arms above setting.
Following carving set-up line-work's were going to be about my short imprisonment and escape trip into the jungle. Details were going to need some work. Something for the later date.

Another thing alongside of starting the wall carving, I managed to locate a nice waterfall-pond combo, and after some little 'scouting', even a nice natural set of hot springs near enough to the temple. One the hot springs was actually big enough for me to fit in. So now I got some spot to wash myself and maybe occasionally relax.
And I think I should take up meditating to pass the time, when I'm not feeling up to carving or hunting. It might even keep me calm at times. But mostly to pass the time.


Finally figured out what the main altar room of the temple is for. First I thought it was just an ordinary fancy like room with an altar, with a diamond looking piece of glass in some holed stone structure. I was spending time in it during one cloudless night, when light from the full moon shined through the hole in the roof, right above the altar thing.
The result of that was the glass thing inside of the holed structure reflecting faint beams of light unto the walls, forming crude but still nice looking images, that seemed a lot like star charts.
That led me to believe this place was once some kind of ancient observatory of sorts, since I did managed to locate some of the images on the night sky. Of course it could have just been coincidence and they where just random images.

Even if I was wrong about the observatory-theory, the light images were still nice, and even soothing in their own way. A perfect spot for meditation then. And it only took almost over a month of living here to figure it out.


Something weird and interesting happened today, maybe a week after thinking the observatory theory about this place. After finishing a very good meditation session, during which I think I was for a moment completely zen, a tiny root looking plant had sprouted in front of me. And it was seemingly holding a softly glowing green crystal.
After gently picking up the said crystal, the root-thingie withdrew back into the ground. The very touch of it felt alive and soothing. And soon I felt something in my mind, trying to reach me. Something young but old, feeling curious about me.
So I mentally opened up for it, but still being wary just in case. To simply sum it up, the crystal was condensed form of raw wild magic, that had felt drawn to me during my zen-moment. I can only guess my magical presence during meditation becomes a type of a beacon for the wilder magical energies to gather to, and maybe take a physical form near it.

The first green crystal seemed to have greater healing powers, than I do naturally. It in a way... Told me all that? It was weird experience to say the least, to have a crystal tell me about itself. I can only guess if there are other types of crystal that might want to materialize before me, especially if these are like materia from the good ol' seventh story of final fantasy...
Something to maybe look forward I guess?


Two month's have passed after the 'materia-crystal' appearance, and luckily no bounty hunters have appeared. I guess they have either given up, forgotten me or the bounty is lifted from my head. Who knows...
And now the first crystal is not alone. After 'bonding' with it through calm meditation, it actually spawned another green crystal. Only this one was a lot smaller and perfectly round ball and a little bit weaker, like it would need training and bonding to grow stronger.

I even tried to repeat the condensing process, only to fail when I knowingly tried to do it. Only when I just normally meditated and reached the zen phase, did more crystals started appearing sometimes.

Now I also have different colored variants of crystals; Green, Red, Yellow, Blue and Purple. Currently green is most common, yellow, blue and purple are in-between, and red is rarest one. The singular red one seemingly held something incredibly powerful entity, that felt overwhelmingly holy sort... So I think I wont be calling upon it's power, unless things are absolutely desperate sort with no other option... Other colors held a different sorts of powers for healing, support and elemental attack's.
So now I have company during my meditations... Sorta... Still would like to actually talk to someone... Only problems are that I am alone here and I can't actually talk the common language of this world. Only some roars, grunts or hisses. Something to hopefully fix in the future...


10 years after Naja settled in the temple... Naja POV

'Imma eating bear tonight, with some chopped up fruits on the side' were my thoughts when slithering trough the jungle, while carrying two nandi bear corpses on the back of my tail, tied together with some vines, and random edible fruits in a simple bag, made out of crudely stitched animal skins.
It was worth it to make an effort in making it, so I don't need to carry everything in my hands, even though I do have six of them. I might need them for other things if such a thing comes up. Whether it be gesturing or maybe self-defence with either sword or sorcery.

And with that thought, almost like on cue I moved some taller bushes out of my way, coming to a natural path, that my slithering had widened a little bit in the last few years. Then my ears reached some terrified sounding voices, followed by smelling something familiar like...
With a turn of my head, the source of the noise; a rather sizeable group of creatures, carrying plenty of stuff that was necessary for camping or maybe even settling down somewhere. Said group was colorful in races; there was a couple of griffons, couple of minotaurs and plenty of ponies of all types, meaning earth pony, unicorn and pegasi. Then I saw that amongst the ponies where few of the bat-winged variety. Thestrals I think they are called? And I think there was also one or two some kind of a hybrid of a pony and griffin... Hippogriff's maybe?

We all just stared at each other for a few seconds, waiting for someone to do something... And it was me who did something... By giving a smile and waving at them with one hand.
After that I carried on with my slithering down the path, towards my temple home. Hopefully thing's could work out between me and these new arrivals...

Shadow Petal POV

'I cant believe this... After ten years of trying to live normal married life with my Falgo, we end up bumping into the very beastie that almost killed our old bounty hunter-group nearly ten times over in several ways...' the unicorn mare thought nervously, instinctively pulling her travelling capes hood over her head with a grey aura of magic.
Next to her was her griffon friend-turned-husband, Falgo, who was carrying most of their few belongings. She herself was carrying their firstborn son, a five year old hippogriff, Hermes, on her back and hopefully second one soon...

For a moment, none of our group did nothing... And then the serpent just gave us all a smile and wave... And just left, carrying the corpses of two bear looking things, with just one eye, tied on to its tail. Everybeing in the group seemed to be relieved for it leaving them alone without any aggressiveness towards them.
"Honey? Did we just see the serpent-beast we used to chase and survive among our fellow-travelers?" she heard Falgo ask, sounding very confused and relieved at the same time, with his brown feathers still slightly puffed up.
"I... Think so?" was all she could mutter back to him.

"Mommy? What was that big snakey thingy?" said slightly squeaky voice of curious Hermes from her back. Falgo seemed to be hesitant to answer to that question. Shadow Petal, after little thinking, not so much.
"Something your momma and papa hope does not hold a grudge..." Petal answered, while looking at the direction where the serpent had slithered away...


Chapter 4 Neighbourly fun, helpings and broken barriers.

View Online

Chapter 4 Neighbourly fun, helpings and broken barriers.

Three days later, budding settlement, Falgo POV

"Honey, are you sure that is wise move to do?"

"No, definitely not wise. But I just need to know where the snake beastie lives, so we can do better job in avoiding its den. It did not seem aggressive when we all met it at the path." I answered to Shadow Petal, while putting on my old leather armor, just in case.
"If it looks like something might happen, me and Thunder Breeze will flee and come back here."

"We both know too well what that being is capable of. It fricking killed late King Solaris with a single spell. I... I don't want to lose you..."
"I know the story, and after dancing with it several times, i'm inclined to believe it. But I still wish to ensure your and our little rascals safety."

With those words I gave her a firm hug, which she returned wholeheartedly. Hard to believe we used to be part of one of the toughest bounty hunter groups...
"Papa? Why is mom crying?"

That little question from little Hermes made us both jump a bit. Seems like that sneaking out without my son waking up was a big failure.
"Oh, its nothing serious hon. Just got something in my eyes" was her answer.

"I'm just going to make some rounds nearby with Thunder Breeze, and will be back by the lunch-time. Till then, you're the man of the house" I informed little fellow, while I ruffled his short hair, making it poof-up a little.

After that and another hug from Shadow, I went out of our yurt, that we had for now as a home. Few others also had similarly comfy tents se up, until we can make something more permanent housing for everybeing here. All that depending of course how will our serpentine neighbour likes us in their territory...

Despite of the said neighbour, this spot of a jungle was pretty good place to start some level of settlement; soil is fertile according to our earth pony friends, river in visual range after some tree cutting and even the coastline was nearby. Overall an prime locale for self sufficient town or maybe even a small city. Unlike that pony capital spurring around the royal castle on the side of a mountain... That kinda thing would be almost completely dependent on trade and such. A logistical nightmare if completely surrounded by a well equipped decisive enemy.

Thunder was waiting me near his tent,apparently also managed to talk his way to this trip. His coltfriend could be clingy sometimes.
"So? You ready to go on a scouting trip? We might actually bumb into that snakey creature we saw three days ago."

"Yes, and I know that full well. Which is why we will stay at a distance from it. That includes it's potential den. We don't want our mates getting worried." I said while starting take flight, Thunder following soon after.

Airspace above the jungle, random cloud #83F-T7, Falgo POV

"See anything?"

"Yep, right there in the clearing around that temple ruin... It seems to be tanning a hide of one of them cyclop-bear thing's. Crudely but effectively enough, at least from what I can see" I answered to Thunder, while using a simple spyglass.
It did not take a genius to figure out that the temple-like building most likely was now a den of the serpent. Seemed like it was just living its life there now, but you can never be too sure. All members of the my old bounty hunter group held a healthy amount of scepticism for some of the things, just in case. Kept us all alive really well.

Then the serpent seemed to be satisfied on it's work with the animal skin and started to take it with it... Her? It did seem to have some manner of mammaries on its chest. Not that I know much about their higher functions and all that overly medical stuff... Outside of what I found out about them with Shadow...
"Uuh, you watch next. My eye is starting to hurt." I sputtered, while rubbing my eye a little and offering the spyglass to him.
"Ok, gimme that... I guess its taking the skin to indoor's of the temple... No wait... It stopped at the doorway... It seems to be trying to measure skin size to the doorway... Yeah, I think it is trying to do some sort of home improving with a animal skin door-flap. Not bad... From certain point of view I mean."

"You and your decoration ideas..." I muttered at Thunder's words, while staying low on the cloud. He told me about his dream of making furniture and other decorations while on the road. And he was right; the serpent indeed seemed to be doing crude home-improving, which pretty much confirmed the temple being the 'viper's nest'.
"Alrighty then. We found out where the serpent makes it's lair. Better we all just keep away from it's way and home." and after sharing a nod, both of us took our leave from the cloud. And I guess that lack of fire shooting in the sky meant that we where not spotted, or serpent creature was not hostile... Hopefully.

Two days later, hot spring in between the temple and the budding settlement.

"This. Is. Heavenly..." was all Wild Tail, a dark green unicorn with even darker green mane, could say, while gently sinking his body in to the warm waters, alongside of Brass Horn, a well built light gray minotaur female, who seemed to agree with that statement with positive humming.
This duo have been friend's for a long time, and couple of month's ago had evolved into lover's, much to Tail's parent's gripe, who went above and beyond to yell at him that 'unicorn's should only marry other unicorn's'. That was followed by his family disowning him, after he did not agree to break it off with Brass. She had slightly better reaction from her parents, and it involved punching her papa in the face. Must be a minotaur thing, since her father was very soon ok with daughter being with a pony. Ponies back in old home neighbourhood mostly seemed to have a varied xenophobic knee-jerk reaction about it.
Now they had a small comfy like cabin coming up in the slowly crowing settlement of many creatures. Both of them have also wondered if they would be able to have a family one day... They sure where able to do "the deed" together without any bigger problems...

After about five minutes of just enjoying the natural warmth of water's, the couple started to inch closer towards each other, seemingly intending to get little lovey-dovey. Those plans where all but dashed when both of them received a hottish shower of water on top of them from higher pool above them, making both of them letting out a surprised yelp.
Both where about to yell at the whoever had entered the upper pool, until they notíced a huge purple snake tail, slightly hanging down from there. And tails serpentine owner was there too, looking down at them with somewhat curious expression on its face. And the serpent was equally naked compared to our pony and minotaur couple.

Few minutes (, yes, actual minutes,) of staring each other later, Brass took the initiative by grabbing Wild Tail, and getting the heck out of the hot spring. Luckily the serpent did not bother to even attack or follow them, when they got out of the pool, grabbing Brass Horns clothes and running away to the cover of the forest.

After getting to safe distance from the serpent, duo stopped running and Brass started to get dressed up, so that they would not arrive back to slowly growing village buck naked.
"That sure was close call, I think. What do you think Brass?" Wild managed to ask, while looking the other way out of principle.
Minotaur lady was quiet a little moment, with a very thoughtful expression on her face, until finally saying quite loudly, "I think I finally found somebeing with bigger natural rack than mine!", sounding surprised with slightly defeated undertone.
This was followed by the sound of Wild Tail's hoof connecting with his face.

And after getting back to others, they told them that the serpent seems to occasionally visit the nearby hot spring, making everybeing more careful when thinking about going there... Just in case the serpent was there during those times.

One week later...

"Are you sure this is worth the risk? Adult's don't really like the idea of us leaving too far outside of the palisade wall." a griffin girl, Gina, in her teens asked earth pony of same age, named Rabid Rock, getting some similar murmurs from their friend's following them through the thicket. Said group of eight friend's included alongside ponies and griffin, an minotaur calf, hippogriff, and even a zebra and kirin foal. The growing village got some colorful new arrivals recently, which meant more playmates for kids and help in building up the place. And despite the slight weariness for the big serpentine neighbour, thing's where going well in the village.
"What they don't know, can't hurt us, right? If we just make it back before they really notice any of us gone, were fine. And we all know how to avoid those huge sloth's and the cyclop bears don't come near the village anymore after adult's made it clear that where not a easy prey." was the confident answer. The part about bears was right; amazing what few well placed traps and some straight up intimidation can do against few predators, which actually get the hint and leave them alone. And few long wooden stakes tossed by minotaurs sure helped to drive the point home.

"And there is also the fact that we can't go to the hotspring without adult keeping watch for the serpent. It really ruins the possible fun in there." groups unicorn quipped in, getting some agreement to it.
"And river doesn't really have any good swimming spot near the village. This spot we found has a nice waterfall too."

"Is it fun spot?" came a little voice behind them, making them all turn around. And there stood little hippogriff Hermes, one of the youngest kid's in the village.
"Hermy, how long you've been there??" Gina asked from little one. "This is kinda for the big kid's..."

"But mommy said I could come along with you next time you go play. You all promised." was Hermes's answer, which got all the teen's groan slightly, because they all had made said promise to include Hermes next time they would do something. And they feared potential tongue lashing from Shadow Petal for a good reason...
"Alright, just stay close and don't wonder off anywhere."

With that settled, the group of eight teens, and one little child, continued their trip to the new swimming spot.

10 to 15 minutes of walking later at the swimming spot... With a waterfall...

"Wow, it sure look's nice."

"Yeah! I wonder is it safe to try and jump from up here."

Similar comment where made in the group, as they watched the almost idyllic view of the pond at the top of the waterfall, which maybe five or so meter's high from the pond's surface, near the edge of the waterfall. Give or take a few inches.
"Allright, now let's just find a way down and..." Rabid started but suddenly stopped, while clearly hearing something and sniffing air a little bit. "... Get down!"

With that said, all of them hit the ground, laying low, hidden by the tall grass. And soon they all heard something approaching. And it sounded of something large...
Soon the source of the sound arrived between some trees; the serpent creature most of the group had seen when they arrived in this region, carrying some crude cloth's with it. Needless to say, all the kid's where both scared and curiously fascinated about it. They did look away though when the serpent creature began to remove it's apparent clothing; even though most of them where slowly at that curious age about opposite gender, sexuality and all that, but still they where in the presence of a large, potential apex predator of the region. Not to mention they had a five year old with them, whose eyes where momentarily covered by one of the teens...

"Well this is just fine and dandy. Now the swimming hole is a snake bathing spot." Gina commented quietly, while taking small peek at the creature, which had already entered the pond, which was large enough to hold it's tail with some room to spare, and was dipping it's head in the waterfall to wet it's hair. Basically serpent was taking care of it's hygiene, with all of it's six arm's; two working the hair, other two working each other and the final two working... The rest of it's upper body.
"Darn. Aunt Brass was right about one thing at least..." groups minotaur calf commented quietly.

After few more minutes of staying still and quiet, children began to slowly try to leave without drawing too much attention. All but one; Hermes had managed to inch little bit closer to the edge under the cover of thicket out of pure child's curiosity. The sight of the serpent was to him a really awesome thing, maybe thanks to daddy's few stories of his earlier work with mommy. And he was not even close to the age to be interested about... Naked feminine body part's.
"So coool..." little hippogriff whispered, while looking at the serpent, whose body was currently facing away from the waterfall's top. Hermes himself was now laying really low on top of wideish rock on the edge.

"Hermes... Hermes! Get back here, we need to go..." Gina was whispering feverishly to little hippogriff, while other teens where whispering their agreement on the issue.
"Okay..." Hermes answered and started to turn carefully around to leave. Then the rock he was laying low on started to tilt on the direction of the pond, where the serpent was still having a bath.
"Oh crud..." Hermes managed to yelp out while trying to get off from the now pretty much a falling rock... And failing before other's would have managed to grab on to him.

Gabbing attempt failed and Hermes fell down, hitting rocky outcropping on his way down, finally hitting water with a loud splash.

Hermes POV, underwater at the moment... Which will soon change...

My wing hurt's, lung's burning... Everything starting to hurt. Maybe I should have not said no to swimmy lessons mommy wanted, or flying lessons papa suggested. Do I... Get to see them again?...
Is that... A hand? Reaching for me? Is that what happens when somebeing won't wake up anymore? I can feel it lifting me up and out of water, making me cough. Coughing hurt's but still alive.
I think I heard friend's calling me out and saw... Worried eyes looking at me, before thing's started to go dark...






I felt... Something warm around me? no I was laying on something warm... And soft too. After getting my eyes open, I saw stone wall of a big room, with a... Nest of sort? Made of furs and wood and thing's?
Waaait... Was this... The snakey lady's home? At least aunt Brass called it a lady, when talking something about it's rack. Strange... I can't see any rack or self here. And why would someone even bring one to the hot spring?
After climbing out of the nest thingy, I noticed that my wing didn't hurt anymore. Neat! Behind the door flap there was a hallway and another door flappie, behind which I heard some kind of humming.

One door flap move later, I saw the snake lady working something on a crude looking clay pot, warming the content with it's hand flames... And it smelled good... And made my tummy growl, making snake lady notice me.
And being the big boy that I am, I really, really bravely... Drop down on my belly and covering my eye's, hoping I'm not seen...

After a little moment I heard something lowered near me along with something big moving around a little. Small peek revealed a bowl in front of me, and serpent lady near the wall in sitting-on-coiled-up-tail position, looking at me still.
My tummy growled at the scent of the content of the bowl, which seemed big enough to be a comfortably sized cup for the snake lady. The content seemed to be some kinda porridge mush of fruit. And it smelled tasty.
Without hesitation I just lunged at the bowl, and started eat the porridge. And it was tasty stuff!

One tasty porridge eating later, I took a glance toward's the snake lady, who was smiling pleasantly at me.
"Thank you for the porridge.It was relly relly tasty!"

My comment made the snake lady's smile widen a little, in a good way. I now dared to approach it... Her, little by little, until I was at the touching range from it's coiled up tail.
"Did you save me from drowning at the pond?" I asked, and received a nod from the snake lady.
"Are you gonna try and... Eat me?" was my careful question ad received a head shaking with an clearly uncomfortable expression as a answer. So no fear of that then.

"Can you take me home to the village? I bet I can convince adult's not to attack you..." I asked nicely as I could. After a moment snake lady gave a nod, even though she seemed little worried. Then she carefully lifted me on her... Waist-back, while un-coiling to move? What do you call the body-part where snake tail meet's the rest?
After taking a comfy sitting position, holding on to the back fold's of snake lady's skirt, while she began to slither through the kitchen door flap, out of the stone worked hallway to a bigger hall with pillars and after a bigger door flap we where outside of snakey lady's pyramid-thingie home.
"Up, up and away!" After happily saying that I think I heard snake lady roll her eye's for some reason.

Village square...

"Petal, dear! I think they understand your point quite well, like the last five times." Falgo said to the very agitated Shadow Petal, while holding her still, just in case, after she had finished yelling at the Gina, Rabid Rock and the rest their friend's, who all where hanging their heads in shame and little bit in fear. Shadow Petal could be really, REALLY intimidating if needed.

"All right... All right..." Petal said bit tensely, while taking few deeper breath's, trying to calm down from the news of her little baby boy falling down the waterfall pond, where the serpent apparently was taking a bath. And the fact that said serpent had took him somewhere, did not help easing her worries that much.

"Well what should we try to do? That being is strong enough in magic to take down an alicorn. What can we do?" someone among villagers asked out loud, sounding worried.
"We had hard enough time with those on-eyed bear's. And that serpent seem's to hunt those things for food..."

Other similar comment's where made among the villager's, until alarm bell was sounded from the village watchtower.
"Something's approaching trough the jungle! And it seems big!" the watcher yelled, with mild panic in their voice.

This got everybeing to prepare for the worst just in case. Such preparing had saved them several times. Even now they all where gathering on the walls with several improvised weapons and few actual ones too.
And soon they could see movement among the trees...

Aaand then there it was; the humongous serpent creature, coming out between some trees, moving some vines and branches aside due to it's size.
Arrival of the serpent got slight reaction from Shadow. Meaning she leaped off the wall and slowly started to approach the serpent, which had stopped it's approach after seeing her.
Before Petal could say anything, she saw the serpent seemingly react on something on it's back...


That little shout made everybeing stop on their track's, as young hippogriff climbed on top of serpent's head, giving enthusiastic wave and smile combo.
"...Hermes?..." was all Shadow could mutter in growing relief. At this point the serpent lowered itself on deep like bow, allowing little fellow to climb off safely and run to his mommy.

"It's okay. Shes actually relly nice, and actually helped me." Hermes then started explaining his angle to the story, which matched story of other kids well enough, filling in what had happened after the little fall and escape of other's. All the while the serpent just stood there, keeping a respectful distance.

After hearing little ones story, Shadow Petal carefully approached the serpent, stopping at reasonable distance from it... Her, and bowed deeply.
"Thank you for saving my child. If there's anything I could do for you, just ask..." she said still bowing. Only for answer not to come, even though there was thoughtful grunting.

"You... Can't really talk our tongue, right?" Petal carefully asked, and received a nod from serpent. And she looked somewhat saddened by the fact. Then an idea popped in grey unicorn's head.
"How about you return here about... A week from now? I think I might have something suitable made for you." she suggested, receiving another nod after the serpent seemed to think for a minute or so.

After that and also after giving a slight wave, serpentine creature began to slither back to the wood's same way it had arrived, soon disappearing from sight.
"Mommy, what are you planning?" Hermes asked curiously.

"Something that should let us speak properly with your big friend." was all what Shadow Petal said, with a pleasant smile.
"Also, you and other's are definitely grounded for a week."

One week of waiting and being grounded later...

Week had passed by quite quickly for the village and it's citizens, with fixing up some buildings, helping few battered looking new arrival's, who where canine creatures calling themselves 'Diamond dog's'. And most of all, helping in Shadow Petals little project for their serpentine neighbour.
Now most, if not all, villager's had gathered to wait for the serpent to arrive near the villages west-gate. And around noon she did arrive through the same route as week ago.

With all of them gathered there, Petal approached serpent while carrying something, covered in cloth, in her magic.
"Greeting's. I'm glad you decided to come. I present to you this little gift as a sign of gratitude from us to you, for helping my son, and most likely indirectly helping helping our growing village with the local predators. I hope it helps us all to communicate better with you."
With that little speech out of the way, she unraveled the cloth and revealed simple necklace; a single gem attached in to a socket and chain. It was overall a quite big piece of jewelry for, say a minotaur, but seemed a 'normal' sized necklace to the serpent.

After a moment of silence, the serpent reached slowly for the offered necklace with one of its arms, middle left one, picking it up to level with her face. This was followed by actually putting it around her neck.
"Now, would you try to talk? Maybe try giving us your name?" Shadow asked, sounding hopeful.

"My name is Naja, and I'm a creature known as marilith..." was the answer, which resulted very, VERY confused look on Naja's face.
"What the... I can actually speak your language now?" she said while slightly pawing her neck with one hand, topmost left one.

"Yes. We worked enchantment into the necklace around your neck, which translates you natural language to the common language to everyone within their hearing range. It took some effort from everybeing in our village; minotaurs handled the right kind of metal work, dogs secured best quality gemstone, zebras did most of the special runework, drakes helped shape the gem properly, griffins helped with the inlaying work and ponies did the enchantment, which is now an everlasting sort, thanks to all complementary work. So yes, it is quite a special piece of jewelry." Petal explained, sounding proud for everyone's part in making the item.

"Huh, neat. You have my gratitude for that. You night not be able to imagine how it feels not being able communicate verbally to others. It's a pain in so many levels."
Naja's grateful comment got some sympathetic murmurs from the villagers, when they tried to even imagine such a state of being. Those who managed to think something like that felt really terrified if something like that happened to them.

"So... Does anybeing have some simple questions for me perhaps? I could really use a conversation." Naja asked the crowd, while taking slightly more comfortable position. Very soon after saying that, a certain minotaur cow raised her hand.
"Are your knockers actually real?!"


Back in Equestria...

"Sister? Are you certain this will work?"

"Honestly? I am not completely sure. But it is the only change we have of defeating him. Mother entrusted us with the safety of the Equestrian ponies before departing to part's unknown. And we cannot let our subject's be just playthings to a chaos spirit."

With that exchange of words, the two sisters began their approach of checkered hill, with a throne on top of it, with chaotic entity gleefully enjoying the messed up sight's...


Chapter 5 Meeting Beast's and Bro's.

View Online

Chapter 5 Meeting Beast's and Bro's.

Week or two had passed since Naja and the villager's finally connected and managed to communicate properly, thanks to the enchanted necklace. And with her help, the building of the village speeded up nicely; now the wooden palisade wall was reinforced with some decent stonework, and houses where all almost ready, with only few tent's left for extra storage uses. Slowly the village began to resemble olden japanese village in architecture. Not completely but in certain ways.

On the side, Hermes and many other children of the village took a liking of visiting Naja at her temple home. And pretty soon she was giving them and some adult's lessons about materia crystals and how to wield them properly and to respect them like any living being and to use them only if necessary. And luckily they understood the point after opening mind to some of the 'younger' crystals.

Temple's 'star-room' during the mentioned weeks...

"Just concentrate on calm breathing... Keep your mind open... Feel the Materias connection... Don't fight or force it, but don't submit to it completely either..." Naja calmly instructed all those present, all the kids who where at the pond and some other youngsters and adult's too, who where there to keep an eye on the kids. All of them had a 'young' perfectly round Materia crystal in front of them, giving a soft glow.
Of course serpent lady was also having a meditation alongside them, in a way showing example of it, with each hand showing some manner of meditative gesture.

Then she fell into the zen-phase, which caused little materia crystal to sprout in front of her, which ended up taking others attention.They all witnessed the 'birth' of a new materia crystal, which grew before their marilith friend, carried by root-like vine.
After the zen-phase passed, Naja looked upon the new crystal. And it was pretty small compared to the earlier ones, and on top of that; a red in color...

"Interesting... There have been only one red materia till now..." Naja thought out loud, while gently picking up the materia, about the size of an average gemstone that a pony or a griffon can wear with no problem, say in a ring or a necklace, or even some kinda big crown thingie.
Other's watched patiently as marilith reached out with her senses to the crystal. And soon she gave a slightly surprised expression, turning to look at Hermes.

"This one seems to be interested in forming a bond with you, Hermes. It tried to materialize before you, but could not condense properly. Maybe due to your current inexperience or maybe my own magical presence drowning out your's." she explained, while approaching little hippogriff, and finally offering the little red materia crystal to him.
"Relly?" was all the little hippogriff could say through his amazement, and finally daring to pick up the red gem in his little claws.

"Now, just try to open up your mind to it and try if you can form a bond with it. Hopefully it is not too scary for you... Red materia can be tricky in many ways." Naja warned lightly.
With that advice, Hermes nodded and closed his eyes in meditative concentration, while holding the red materia gem. After a moment of silence, everybeing momentarily saw something small glowing and transparent long-eared, greenish fox-like being pounce around Hermes, stopping occasionally stopping to curiously sniff him, soon disappearing from sight. What really stood out from the creature, was the bright red gemstone in its forehead.

"Interesting... Seems like someone has obviously chosen you Hermes." Naja commented, while stroking her chin thoughtfully with lowest righty.
"Treat your new companion well."

That little development got plenty of interest from other's taking the materia lessons. Of course Naja had to explain that Red materia was rarest and potentially one of THE most powerful sort, depending on the situation.
Other than Hermeses new friend, the meditation sessions went without further hiccups or anything weird, aside from weak misfires from Bolt or Fire spell, costing few of them a loss of poor valiant eyebrows.

And of course there was little bit of awkward situations here and there. Mostly from Shadow Petal, Falgo and Brass Horn. The two former bounty hunters had repeatedly apologized to Naja for earlier hunts years ago, to which Naja had answered to have forgiven but never forgotten.
She had to explain it that she had forgiven them for the hunting part of their lives, but had not forgotten it, because they could learn from it. And they decided that it would be a slightly funny...-ish conversation starter when they had a drink of some slightly alcoholic beverages afterwards. Falgo got almost so drunk, that he almost started to babble about his and Shadow Petals bedroom antics. He didn't manage say that much before Shadow knocked him out, out of embarrassment.

And Brass Horn... Well she had taken upon herself to physically confirm the...'Qualities' of marilith's bosom. And was very, VERY toward about it, when village children weren't around.

-Asset assessing attempt #4 at temple star-room.-

"Please?" Brass pleaded, while trying to look cute for some reason.

"No..." was Najas steadfast answer.


"No matter how many time you say 'please', it won't get you any closer on groping me."

"Like I said, I wouldn't do it too hard and it would be more like gentle fondling and massaging."

"That does not make me any more ok with it."

"C'mon, even just a quick touch would do" Brass insisted, while trying to reach for the bosom goal stealthily.
It went as good as one could guess, with the sharp enough eyesight of marilith, not to mention the six arms. Meaning that minotaurs sneaky hand was caught by lower and middle lefties.

"I don't take well on stealth groping either." she said somewhat threateningly, with narrowed eyes.

"...Ok." was all Brass could say before starting to leave.

"And don't even think of trying when I'm asleep! I tend to coil up randomly around some thing's!" Naja yelled a little warning after her.

-Asset assessing attempt #26 at the hot spring.-

"Brass, honey, are you sure you can't let it go?" Wild Tail asked his minotaur mate, getting just a little bit tired of her 'quest', while both where relaxing a bit.

"Maybe... But I haven't really being able to sleep well enough, even despite your best efforts." Brass answered.
"I just wish that she would not misunderstand my intentions of getting information that just feels important to me on some levels I just can't explain properly." she continued somewhat emotionally, like folks who have certain goal that might seem weird to some around them.
"I mean, I'm not asking all that much..."

"You do know I'm laying right here and can hear both of you, right?" came question from upper spring, where a certain marilith was also enjoying naturally hot water.
"And my answer is still very clear NO... No matter how you try to word your potential guilt-tripping dialogue."


-Asset assessing attempt #47 at the temple yard.-

"C'mon Naja come down here! I just want one good squeeze!"

"No!! I'm not letting you grope me for your own entertainment!"

"You can't stay in that upright position all day! Your spine might suffer!"

"It is worth it, if it keeps you away from my chest! And snakes have really strong muscle and spinal column combo!"

"What's with the yelling?! I could almost hear you two back to the village." Petal asked the duo loudly, making both Naja and Brass Horn turn at her direction.

"Nothing serious. Brass is just trying to grope me again." was marilith's answer.

"I prefer 'Asset assessment'." minotaur cow commented.

"You do know shes just going to keep trying, right? So why not get it over with? Kids are not luckily around." unicorn suggested neutrally.

After the moment of frustrated pouting, Naja finally lowered herself from the upright position to ground level, with a small thud.
"... F-fine... ONE time. No more." she said pretty serious, emphasizing it with some finger pointing at the minotaur cow, who simply nodded.
"And it will be done indoors. For I know, that YOU ARE PEEKING UP THERE!!!" Naja added, and proceeded to move inside her temple home, while spooking pegasus-thestral-griffon trio away from cloud hovering above them. And said trio was REALLY quick in leaving. Brass Horn followed behind her. Shadow Petal remained outside.

After about fifteen or maybe thirty minutes later, the 'examination' was finally over. Naja was expectedly little bit flushed afterwards, due to obvious breast fondling, which was actually pretty thorough. Brass Horn had done several different kinds of fondling, measuring, weighing and plenty of other check-up things, first being exited and near the end was more professional like.
And all the fun-bag touching caused some loud tail slamming couple of times. Somewhat comparable to leg twitching on dogs when you scratch certain spot. At least there was no weird lumps found anywhere, which was really good to know.

After that happened, Brass did end her quest-for-bosom, very satisfied with the results. Shadow thought it was just weird, and Naja kept silent about her opinions about it. And made Brass swear to stay silent too.

This little private event was soon followed by another, much more public life-style changing for the village, which still had slight naming problems at the time...

"Naja! We really need help at the village!" pegasus from village shouted, sounding honestly panicked.

"What is it?"

"Some kind of horned beast is attacking it. And it's just not giving up, no matter what we throw at it. It got at least two ballista bolts sticking in its side, and it was still going when I left to get you!"

After that news, Naja began to slithered fast as she could with her about two ton tail, out of her home and towards the village. Even thought they could defend themselves from most of the beast's of the surrounding jungle, Naja had agreed on helping them if something more serious appeared. And this sounded like that, with a loud roar emphasizing it.

Soon the owner of the roar came in to her view, near the village wall. It was a large hulking, grayish purple, canine-esque creature with two bull-like horns and flowing mane, which was also looking grayed. And it also had two more ballista bolts sticking in its body, and it seemed to completely ignore them.
Wall had taken serious damage, but was still holding its ground. Most likely villagers where enforcing it on the other side, as much as they could.

Before the beast could try and attack wall again, it received a ball of fire to it's face. All it did was to make it switch attention from wall to Naja, who had one hand raised and about three blades out, looking ready to fight.
And greyed purple beast complied with obviously rage filled roar.

Strangely beast did not attack right away, but instead it bark-roared at the treeline couple of times. Quick glance revealed that there where hiding several more, maybe a little over a dozen, of similar large beast's, these ones having more visible purple coloration, in few variations, but none of them greyed.
"So, you're a pack leader? Can't answer a challenge alone, eh?!" Naja commented aloud, with easily heard challenging tone in it, while brandishing three of her blades. And the greyed one seemed to catch on the tone, despite being more animal in intelligence.

After barking to the pack, all of which seemed to obey some kind of order of staying in the tree cover, the grey pack leader began to circle Naja menacingly, and still seemed to ignore the four ballista bolt's sticking in it's body. It most likely had a high pain tolerance or something similar.
When the circling began, Naja took more defensive stance, holding three blades at the ready and three remaining arms seemed to catch fire, preparing spell in each of them.

And finally beast lunged at her, claws and horns aiming at the upper body. Naja barely managed to toss two fireballs at it, with not much result, and using two of the blades to block claw attacks, locking both claw and blade together in shaky struggle. This left her almost open for some sweet horn gouging, but her hands, that had tossed fire balls, managed just barely grab hold of them, keeping beast's jaws at bay at the same time. At this point remaining free hand began to give attention to beast's mug by spewing flames at it. All the while the third blade equipped hand attempted to stab the beast around its neck area. With a bad aim.
Needless to say, all this physical strain made her face contort in feral like snarl. Luckily the two ton tail of hers helped in 'standing her ground'.

"Get *stab* the heck *stab* away from *stab* my friends *stabby-stab*!" was all Naja managed to shout out at the beast, while managing to land few stab's in between her sentences.
Then during next bladed stab move, greyed beast managed to dodge it, and sunk its teeth in blade carrying arm, causing bloody damage and a pain filled scream, for a very good reason. Who wouldn't scream when row of sharp teeth, made for rending flesh, bite into your arm? Unless they have seriously dulled pain receptors.

Sharp feeling of pain also cause an adrenaline rush in Naja, making her stop flame spewing on one arm and making it take aggressive claw-cesture, rushing it towards beast head, which was now angled differently due to biting move.
Very soon turned out that beast could also feel pain, when thumb, index- and middle-finger managed to sunk in its eye socket and proceeded to rip mostly intact eye-ball out, making beastie to let go of her arm. High pain tolerance or not, gouging eye out still hurt's like heck...

With the ample opening, Naja began to coil around the beast quite flexibly for her size. Soon the beast was nicely tied up in a muscular flesh rope, with thickish scales. Now instead of stabbing the beast repeatedly, Naja began to punch it's mug with her bare hands. All six of them, despite one still being seriously injured. All the while her tails strangle hold grew tighter and tighter.
"I *punch* did not *punch* get pulled out *punch* from my home world *punchy-punch* to be *punch* killed off by *punc-crunch* some lousy *punch* aged up *punch* Behemoth *punchy-punch* attacking *punch* my *punch* friend's!!!" Naja yelled angrily between her furious punches. And before the greyed beast of a behemoth could die from being strangled and crushed by mariliths coils, she managed to grab steady hold of its head, and twisted it around with a loud snap, killing it instantly.

After a moment of silence, some of the villagers cheered, sounding relieved of danger mostly passing. Even other behemoths roars sounded in a way happy. Perhaps the grey one had been bad pack leader, now being released from mariliths coils very dead.
And it was at this point that pain decided to register in one of Naja's arm, making her hiss in pain and take more detailed look on her injuries. They sure looked nasty, with bone slightly visible, but luckily bleeding was somewhat slowing. She tried to cast healing spell,but pain kept shooting from injury, breaking needed concentration. She did hear the village gate opening in the background.

"Miss Naja! Lemme help!" came out little yell approaching injured marilith. Little helper turned out to be Zica, lightly brown striped zony filly, with pony papa and zebra mama. She was also one of the materia students, even now carrying a green materia crystal in a little necklace around her neck.
Naja had barely managed to give a nod, when Zica had already grabbed hold of bloody arm, seemingly unfazed of it. Next she pressed her forehead near the injury and whispered something pleadingly. Words sounded like "Heal" and "Please".

This was soon followed by bright green glow enveloping Najas arms injury. And it began to visibly heal, with veins, muscle, sinew's and some blood beginning to move and grow back in place at accelerated phase, finishing up with mariliths bluish skin growing back. And the arm was looking good as new.
"There! All betteeeEEeeer..." Zica managed to say when she began to wobble a bit on her hooves, sounding tired and little dizzy.

"Easy now. Looks like you just casted a spell that was a bit beyond your current capacity, and it left you a bit winded for it. Just try and take it easy and practice carefully." was Naja's answer with helping to steady filly long enough for her parents to arrive, while giving little advice.

After zony filly was picked up by her parents, Naja's attention turned to the behemoth pack, that where still under the tree cover, looking at her and even the villagers warily. They did not seem too aggressive... Maybe they could be befriended?
With that thought Naja approached treeline slowly, stopping at the safe distance from the pack.
"It's alright. I don't wish to hurt any of you..." she called to the beast's with calming tone, even carefully offering one arm torwards them. Villagers looked carefully how this would go.

And after maybe a minute of patient waiting, one of the purple adult's approached marilith slowly, stopping in front of her. It was not nearly as big as the grey one but still quite large. Both of them looked each other a little, and finally the behemoth gave her hand a dog-like licking, while being careful with its horns.
"Wooow... He's adorable." came little voice next to Naja. Little beige-yellowish pegasus filly, by the name of Timid Flicker, had decided to come closer to the beast, which noticed the filly... And gave her few curious sniffs and couple of licks, causing filly to giggle and her parent to give a relieved sigh.

At this point other villagers and the rest of the behemoth pack began to approach one another, with similar methods of offering limb for sniffing and curious sniffing and few licks here and there. After a quick purple horned head count, the pack was revealed to be fourteen adult strong, and after four of them gave few barks at the treeline, number grew by four cubs, which resembled adorable purple piglets with mostly dark manes, which proceeded to sniff the villagers with childlike curiousness, with their moms keeping careful watch.
Seeing such peaceful interaction between all of them brought a smile to Naja's face, while giving a behemoth good hearted scratching around its mane, causing it to literally wag its tail a bit.
'So they are almost like an overgrown canines, with horns and one hell of a muscle build on both genders' she thought with academic way.

"Say, lady Naja?... Not to sound paranoid, ungrateful or suspicious..." Petal started carefully, while scratching one behemoth cub behind ears. "But you seemed to know the name of these... 'Behemoth's' while beating their former leader. And then there was the other thing you said during it. About the other world?"
"Ooooh, that... Well I guess I should tell you more about that. But it require some visual aids, that are at my home. But for now, lets get our new purple friends settled." was marilith's answer.

One story time with the help of visual aids later...

"Sooooo... Let me get this straight. You are, or rather where, an humanoid creature called 'human', now a marilith, who got pulled from their home-world, potentially by some kind of eldritch horror squid-thing, known as Cthulhu, who is a Great Old One, for some reason, that you have no idea..." Petal listed, sounding amazed, baffled and even confused.

"I have a small theory, that me or some others like me, are dropped in other worlds for entertainment of some greater beings, who then criticize, laugh and do other things alongside the one, who somehow dictates what happens to the victim. Like a badly written story." Naja mentioned of -handedly.

"Right, that too... And that death of King Solaris was an unfortunate side-effect of emotion driven self-defence and you not knowing the measure of your magics, which you where more or less trying to still figure out at the time. And now you just try to make a peaceful living in our world?"

"To simply sum it up; Yes."

The silence was quite deafening among everyone in the carving room in Najas temple home. After a solid two minutes, Shadow Petal and some other villagers who where also interested on marilith's story, began to murmur in understanding tone .
"Ok, sooo... Are you gonna carve some more happenings on those walls?" was unicorns answer turning into question.

"Wait... So none of you are weirded out of my 'origin story', or angry on some level for killing the King?"

"Well, me at least among many others in the village have seen some weird thing's. Aaand... The late King was a bit of a plothole towards non-ponies. Sometimes even towards non-alicorns, who don't reach their quota on things or follow his rules, according to some stories. Soo, good riddance."
That comment about the late King got many agreeing on it. Guess he really was not very well liked outside of select pony population.

With story concluded, all those present started to converse about their tales of coming south and settling here. So good socializing all around.

And so the village received some more creatures to live near it. The behemoth pack dug a shared burrow of sort from little bit away from village, as not to step villagers figurative toes. And even with their more animalistic intelligence, they helped in some digging and few hauling works around the village, eventually allowing villagers use them as mounts occasionally, which led on development of some near-saddles to make riding more comfortable for both behemoth and whoever was riding it. And of course there was the perk of keeping some of the jungles beasts away from the villages surroundings.
Timid Flicker took upon herself to learn more about behemoths, and was instrumental in building and strengthening the friendship between the village and the pack. She even earned her cutie-mark while helping the beasties. Mark resembled a roaring behemoth head from the side. She was so happy that she let out one of the most adorable 'Yay's' ever.

Around a couple of month's worth of time went by, until there was another more exiting thing happening at the village. Which came in form of two brother's...

"Honey? You smell that?"

"I think so, Petal. something from some far away land. Not sure what..."

Couples musing was interrupted by flame colored beam flying above the village, followed by alarm bell ringing repeatedly. And then magical blast broke the east gate into splinters. There stood a quite large horned centaur, with red skin, black fur and grey mane/hair and beard, alongside with lion maned, bat winged gargoyle wearing a medallion, of similar size.

"Well well, nice village you have here. Would be bad if it was blasted to smithereens..." centaur mused loudly, while eyeing buildings, gaining attention of nearly every villager.
"I am Lord Tirek! And I am here for your magic!... Or the pony one at least." centaur went on with introduction and droned on a bit, while noticing that this was not pony-only settlement, and sounding somewhat confused because of it.
"Did not expect that myself either..." gargoyle tossed his opinion to the mix, also sounding little confused.

"If you're looking for an easy haul, look elsewhere!" Petal exclaimed at the duo, with Falgo loading up a heavy crossbow, with one nicely bladed bolt. And the ex-merc's where not the only ones to arm up. There where plenty of handheld weapons, from spears to swords, from axes to frying pans... Fear the pans...
And even couple of ballista where being prepared to fire upon the duo.

"What? You really think all that is gonna somehow scare us away? The Mighty Lord Tirek and Scorpan?!" gargoyle boasted, introducing himself at the same time. Tirek also seemed equally confident. Or maybe both where way overconfident. And those words from Scorpan received sharply thrown rock right in his face, opening tiny wound in the corner of his eye, making him flinch for obvious reason.
"Go away you meanies!" came shout from little Hermes, who holding another rock in his claw, ready to throw it. He was also wearing simple necklace with a red crystal gem in it.

"Why you little...!" Tirek grunted and blasted a ray of energy towards the offending hippogriff, and potentially some of the villagers on blast radius.
But before beam could hit, Hermeses red gem necklace began to glow, making his greenish fox-like friend appear, with its forehead gem shining brightly. seemingly creating ruby hued wall of light between young hippogriff and the big duo.
The beam impacted the red light wall, momentarily spreaded along its surface at slowed phase, then it seemed to veer back towards the centaur. He barely managed to dodge it, and the beam flew all the way to the nearby coast. There it hit and blasted an small uninhabited islet to smithereens.
"What on Equis was that????" was all Scorpan could mutter. Even Tirek seemed a bit confused and amazed.
After that, green fox creature disappeared and Hermes began to feel weaker, causing him to sit down.

"That does it!!!" Tirek bellowed, sounding very angrily frustrated, starting charge even bigger beam attack between his horns, aiming at the young hippogriff.
"OH NO YOU DON'T!!!!" came another shout, followed by loud slither like sound, and soon that was followed heavy swinging 'wooshing' sound, making both of the brothers look at it's direction slightly confused.
They both saw a large, scaled, purple colored snake tail, swinging towards them. And it got a lucky smack at both of their faces, sending them flying several meters, all the while disrupting Tireks spell, making it fade out.

After getting back, with bloodied snouts, or whatever their term for nose is, they saw the owner of the tail; a large serpent-tailed, six armed humanoid, who did not look very happy.
"What kind of being tries to blast a child?!" she said, while doing a sharpening motions with her swords, like she was preparing to cut something or someone.

"Who are you?" brothers ended up asking at the same time, while holding their bleeding faces, eyeing newcomer up and down, now being much more wary due to her being of similar size class.
"I am Naja, a marilith. And this village and all who live here are under my protection." came the serious sounding answer, while she positioned herself between the armed villager and the duo of brothers, taking an intimidating position, with swords spreaded in a wide position. "And I would like, if you leave them be, and go on your merry way..."

"Not likely, lady! Brother, together!" Scorpan shouted back, and gave Tirek a signal. this was followed by both brothers lunging towards marilith. At that moment she clinged her blades together, making them spark to life with electricity.
Before the brothers could have grappled marilith, she swung all the six blades towards them. Result was both brothers getting slammed by the flat of the blades on their chest, with plenty of lightning dancing from the points of impact. The feeling of being electrocuted got some manly screaming out of the two. Shocking was followed by another large tail swing, sending the two slightly flying short distance. They did get up relatively fast, with scorch marks on their chest.

"Get the hint, will ya! Try messing with the frigging Queen of the Forbidden Jungle, with friends supporting her, and you will leave without your manly bits!" came a very serious sounding threat from Naja, who also did 'sharpening' motion with her blades, still sparking with electricity. At the same time the villagers also brandished their weapons, and wall mounted ballistas took aim. And even few behemoths had arrived at the edge of foliage, baring their teeth at the intruders, looking ready to pounce.

This was the time when the brothers shared a look between each other... And bolted to the forest, away from the village.
After a moment of waiting, it was clear that they indeed had left and not doing a fakeout maneuver. Everybeing seemed relieved.
"Phew, that was close" was overall theme in comments and opinions among the villagers. Naja also visibly relaxed, putting out lightnings on blades.
"That was awesome! You where like 'LEAVE' and they where like 'eep'. So COOL!" came a exited comment from Hermes, who even managed to fly up a little, despite still being tired from his first time summoning.
"I rilly liked the name you yelled at them! Queen of the Forbidden Jungle. That should keep those meanies away." was another exited comment from Timid Flicker, who most likely got the behemoths to arrive.

Many of the villagers also voiced their positive opinion on the title Naja had given to herself seemingly on the fly.
"Uuh,... Thank's. But let's not overblow that name. I have no desire to be an actual queen. Just live my life, and maybe help you from time to time." Naja said, clearly trying to keep any 'worship' from developing among the populace.
"All right, well just keep it as an honorary title for you. If that is ok with you." followed Shadow Petals comment, which others seemed to like too.
"Good, good..." marilith said, visibly relieved from tittle issue being settled. "Now, lets all fix up this gate, those two broke."

Safe distance away from the village...

"Good, that serpent queen ain't following us..." Scorpan said, while catching his breath a little bit. Even Tirek was visibly winded from their quick escape.
"Seems like e should just forget that village. Would be too much trouble to try and take magic from there." was centaurs strategic sounding comment.

"Mostly because of that snake lady?"

"Yes, mostly because of her..."







"You where zoning out. Did you end up thinking lady's curves? I mean she did have some curvature, right down to that tail."

"Yes, she did indeed have some muscular curve there. Her confidence and apparent skill with a blade where truly... Well enough of that, we have task to complete."

"Yes we do. Equestria should be further to the north. Lets get going."

With that conversation over, brothers started to head northward's. Although centaur did glance back, at the direction of the village, for a short moment.
'Maybe that serpent maiden could make a potential ally? Or maybe something more? Eh, questions for later.'

The village had no further idea what became of those two... But they ended up breaking apart, with Scorpan starting to like Equestrian overall friendly-like ways, and Tirek being sent to Tartarus after his plans where revealed to Two sisters by his brother. Scorpan went back to his homelands, and Tirek was left in his prison with his thoughts, which held revenge plans on Two sisters and some memories of the serpent maiden...

With said events done, some influential individuals in Equestria, started to little by little to glance towards the southern regions...


Chapter 6 Trouble approaching, deus vult...

View Online

Chapter 6 Trouble approaching, deus vult...


"How far do you think we still need to go Sacred Blade?"

"I'm not sure, Holy Word. Almost no one back home have not even heard, that there's a village this far in south."

"Well we just have to keep on going, till we find it. It is our holy task for the Church of Two Sisters to spread the good word."

"We know Zealous Spirit!"

Three travelers exchanged words while walking along the beach side, following up on the rumors of a full blown town in south of newly forming village of Baltimare. All of them members of the Holy Order of the Church of the Two Sisters, originally known as Grand Temple of Solaris, then it was momentarily changed into Chapel of Faust after Kings death years ago, AND THEN its name was changed once again after the Queen left to parts unknown and the Chaos Spirit was imprisoned.

Most of their rules in it had barely changed, despite Queens efforts to do so. Reason was mostly due to curches higher ups wanting to keep most of their traditions intact in honor of the late King, but Faust did manage to add some more lenient rules.

Sacred Blade was an all brown pegasus stallion, with a golden sword cutie-mark, and was one of the paladins of the churches order, carrying simple sword and wearing humble plate mail, while Holy Word was a beige earth pony nun, with a open book mark, wearing a rather simple robe. And then there was Zealous Spirit, an blue unicorn friar, with a mark of rising sun with wings, in a travelers cloak.

"Just making sure now. Spirit, try NOT to do your little overblown gospel talk. It already got us in trouble with the griffins and minotaurs, and bishops had to come and apologize to both groups."

"And let Holy Word do the talking. Yes, I get it Blade. It's just that my father is a bit too thorough when teaching the rules and scriptures. And I tend to get the brunt of it all..."

"Yeah... The Archbishop Zealous Soul is a tad serious about rules and keeping them as they are. I heard he was the loudest voice resisting Queen Faust's attempt to revoke right for ponies to stone griffins on sight. Good thing she did manage to revoke it at the end..."
After that line of conversation, the trio fell quiet for a moment, until they noticed something further down the beach area. And it turned out to be an huge purple skinned horned beast, none of them had seen before, just... Sitting there, like it was waiting something.

Before any of the three could say or do anything, a humble boat appeared in their vision, making to the shore, visibly carrying a net full of fish. On board with the fish haul was a pegasus and a griffin.

The purple beast got up and began to approach the boat. The trio almost panicked with intent of trying to warn the fishers, but before they could do that, a little beige-yellowish pegasus filly appeared behind the beast's mane, waving at the boat.
"Ok... Maybe we should just go and say hello? I mean they clearly are buddies with the big fella." Holy suggested, receiving nods from others.
With that the trio approached fishers, filly and her big friend.

"Ahoy travellers! What brings you in this neck of world?!" came a greeting from the pegasus fisher, while his griffon buddy was tossing a rope to the beastie, which caught it in its jaws and pulled boat nicely to the shore. Blade could have sworn he saw the filly pat it's head, like one would do to a dog after successful trick or task.
"Greetings fisher! We are looking for a settlement that's supposed to be somewhere around here. You wouldn't happen to know about it?"

"Sure do. We live there for one." was the answer from the griffin, who was helping filly put some kind of harness on the beast, before starting to haul net full of fish on it's back.

"Sooo... This creature is friendly?..." Spirit managed to ask, while Blade kept looking at it a bit warily, since it indeed was a huge muscled horned beast. And he even noticed some barb's on it's tail.
"Yep. Fluffy here is relly, relly nice. Just don't go pulling your sword or anything on him. He does not like it." filly answered cheerily, while fluttering up little bit in order to scratch beastie behind it's ear, which it seemed to like very much.
"Could you maybe show us the way there?"

"Sure. Just follow us. We are heading there anyway."

Short travel later...

"Open the gate! We have plenty of fish and few visitors too!"

With a loud creak the big wooden, iron reinforced gate opened, revealing homey cobblestone street, with some houses on both sides, many of which where in a middle of being built or given finishing touches with some roof tiles and the like. And it was not just ponies travelling trio saw; amongst the ponies. there where more griffons, minotaurs, zebras, thestrals, hippogriffs, even several drakes, kirins and diamond dogs milling around. It was quite a... Culture shock to all three of them in a way. All these races seemingly working together... In harmony. And there where two or three more of those purplish horned beasties, clearly helping villagers in different task's.

"I see you have noticed the colorfulness of our villages populations? It sure is one heck of a crucible of different folk, ain't it?"
"Yeah... It sure is very impressive... Never have seen that type of house design, you seem to be using." Holy Word commented to the fisher pegasus, following up with a question.

"Oh that. Some kirins suggested it, and the rest of took a liking to it. They call it the 'pagoda'-style, and it sure looks nice. Sure some plan to do their choice of architecture in their homes and all that, but pagoda-style is starting to be overall the main one."

As the pegasus fisher kept talking about villages building style, the trio kept looking around, very curious, amazed and a little bit confused. How do all these races, that where supposed to be enemies of their home country, could actually work so well together with ponies? This basically went against everything they had been taught, both in the church order and in school homelands. And it only raised more confusion in all three of them.

"Sooo... What are fish for?" Spirit managed to ask in a careful tone.

"Well today is anniversary of the founding of our village. And not all of us eat just hay and cakes and the like. Some of us like a little bit of protein in their diet." fisher griffin answered. "Including our behemoth friends, like Fluffy here."

"Well, hes real name is *graaglaghaladhaegrrr*, but Fluffy is easier to say." filly tossed her two bits in the conversation.

"This place feels almost too good, on so many levels..." Blade whispered to others.

"Meaning that here might potentially be something wrong..." Spirit continued warily.

"And I think you both might be overthinking this a little bit... *sigh* Stallions..." concluded Holy,with an ample eyeroll.

With their thoughts somewhat settled between the trio, they continued on calm observation of the village... Which apparently did not even have a name yet. They did hear a certain name multiple times in conversations; Some...Being called 'Lady Naja', who apparently was the oldest inhabitant of the area, who also had been helping the village in few cases, and sounded like someone who also held a great amount of power and respect around here.
On the side they also noticed that the villages street's seemed to be quite wide. Even for the purple beasts and wagons.

These questions where put on hold, when a scent of cooked fish intruded their nostrils. With several exotic smelling spices. And it smelled tasty, which created some mental conflict on the trio, since all three would have wanted a taste. But it was against their orders rules to eat any kind of meat, despite ponies being a plant preferring omnivores.

"Hey, everyone! Lady Naja is here!" came an exited shout from one of the gates, where already was a small group gathering. And that was where the trio was heading, while trying a little a bit to stay out of sight and trying to be unnoticeable among the crowd.
And soon they saw the being, who the crowd was clearly waiting for some kind of event. An huge serpentine creature with six arms, giving a friendly wave to all gathered here. Trio also noticed several younglings on the back of its tail, who all seemed to be having fun.

"Well... This explains the street width, right?" Blade managed to whisper to others, while staring at the creature.

"Oh? What gave it away? Was it the giant snake lady, slithering right past us?" Holy commented, sounding a little nervous.

"Maybe we should leave? I mean, we did find the rumored village..." Spirit suggested carefully, clearly wanting to leave.

"... Yeah..." Was the answer. And with that the trio started to walk away, trying to look inconspicuous as possible. Maybe a little too much...

"Oh, hello there you three." came polite greeting somewhere behind them, making all three of them freeze, and turn around little stiffly. Right there in front of them was the huge serpent maiden, seemingly bowing down a little bit to be almost on their face level, with four of its arms seemingly supporting its body's humanoid part, and remaining two folded in curious expression.
For some reason Holy Word began to feel a little self-conscious after seeing serpentine creatures... Teats? Up close. She had absolutely no idea why...

"I haven't seen you around here before. Did you just arrive? Or maybe just passing by?" serpent queried with a light head tilt. This little questioning had also gotten attention of other villagers, with some of them beginning to slightly to leer at the emblems of the church in their gear.

"Oh,uuhh... Yes, we were just passing by... And are sorta in a hurry, since we... Forgot something important... Back to our earlier campsite. So we really should go get it... I-i-if it is not a problem for you? Milady?"

"No, it is not. Do you at least have enough rations for your trip?"

"Yes, we do, BYYYYEE!!"
And with that the trio took off running, and where soon out of the village and heading towards the beach. Luckily for them, no one was following them, which allowed them to catch their breath.

"Any idea what exactly that creature was Spirit???"

"No idea Blade. But I think even your sword could not help all that much. I mean its tail was big enough to be able to crush all three of us!"

"Will you two calm down a little! We did complete our mission; finding the village that is. What our superiors do with the said information, is none of our concern, unless they decide to throw us at that serpentine creature."

"... Holy Word is right. We should just head back to the north, and give our report. The trip should give you enough time to think proper wording for the report for the Archbishop Zealous Soul."

"Ugh, don't remind me... I bet my father will raise his voice at me within few words in to the report... He always has..."

Now with clearer heads, the trio started their trek back to Baltimare. With Zealous Spirit dreading the reporting moment with the Archbishop...

Back at the village...

"Well... They where strange in so many levels..." was all Naja could say about the trio of ponies, who had just left the village in a hurry.

"They where members of the Holy Order of ruling church of Equestria. Last time I heard, they are now called the Church of the Two Sisters." came answer from Shadow Petal, who looked a little worried.
"If their leadership is still anything what it was over ten years ago, we most likely have trouble coming right for us..."

"Is that so?..." marilith thought out loud, while stroking her chin with middle lefty.
"Maybe I should take this time to take a refreshing practice in physical fighting a little bit... With some materia aid added to the mix..."

After little moment of thinking, Naja suddenly clapped her hands, all six of them, together.
"So? How about we get this gathering going? And also, after about two years, we finally name our dear village?"

Equestria, Canterlot, Grand Cathedral of the Church of Two Sisters, Archbishops office...

"They where WHAT???!!!"

"They had strange beast's helping them..."

"Not that. They where living with NON-PONIES???!!! AND had absolutely no sign of our holy scriptures?? AND had a NON-PONY authority figure??? What HERESY!!!"

"Soo, what is next on the...?"

"Take these orders to available captains. I will contact the our Holy Majesties, post-haste."

"Y-yes fath... Archbishop Zealous Soul..."


Chapter 7 A Princess, A snake and A Sanctus Machina.

View Online

Chapter 7 A Princess, A snake and A Sanctus Machina.

"Sister? Are you sure we are even needed here? To visit some far off town? Why can't we just rest a while? Especially after our failure at the Crystal Empire."

"Luna, I know it was a hard loss to swallow, but these are the kind of things the rulers must do occasionally."

"But with a contingent of our soldiers and a Archbishop with some of his personal guard? What kind of message would this deliver to the locals? That we attempt to bring them to our fold trough force??"

"Once again sister, they are purely a security measure. And we must tell them that Equestria has not abandoned them to the threats beyond of our borders."

"But what the friar, paladin and the nun, who where sent to this trip originally, told me personally, was that the locals seemed very happy living there..."

"And soon they continue to be happy, under our shared guidance."

With those words, the two sisters fell silent for a little while, inside their royal wagon, on their way to the town that was located in just a smidgen away from their southern border. The news of it where interesting for the both of them, which resulted both of them wanting to see it personally.
The eldest wished to spread the teachings of Harmony for the ponies there too, like their parents most likely would have wished for. The younger, while also having hopes for harmonious living, was more interested on the fact that so many beings where living there alongside ponies peacefully, despite the many of the books at the capital, and scriptures of the church saying that many creatures outside of Equestria where also outside of harmony.
Luckily their mothers teachings where well ingrained in the memory of the younger sister. The father... Well she did not really remember him. Mother, before her disappearance, did not talk all that much about him, and older sister could not talk about him without tearing up or sometimes without breaking something. The score was probably around two hundred and thirty-six of various vases and pieces of tea wares for the sister. And five flowerpots for the pottery, which mysteriously dropped onto her head. Those pottery breaking's where usually accompanied with mutters of snakes and revenge for some reason.

"What about the other creatures living there?" younger sister finally asked.

"If they are not a danger to our little ponies, I guess they can remain in the town as-" Older sister answered, before being cut off by younger
"Does that apply to the children too? If one griffon chick tosses a pebble at a pony, will they be tossed out of the town?"

Before the older sister could form an answer, their wagon suddenly stopped, followed by a knock. "Your majesties! Were at the suitable place to get off safely!"

Soon both sisters had exited royal wagon, seeing a beach line and an edge of an dense forest, explaining of them stopping. Troops were unloading some equipment and archbishop was overseeing them at the moment. Mostly yelling at them to hurry up, while doing little to nothing to help.
"Ah, your majesties. We have arrive at the suitable spot to put up a temporary camp, until we have put up more permanent residence in the town." Archbishop Zealous Soul, a dark blue unicorn with an cutiemark of a sun encircled with outwards pointing swords, greeted the two monarchs politely, bowing low, wearing very fancy looking robes.

"Have the scout found a way to this town?" Older sister questioned with authority.

"Yes, we located some upturned boats further along the shore, along with some manner of rough cobblestone path to the woods." came answer from pegasus scout saluting them. The Archbishop did not seem to like the scout giving the answer to the question, but managed to stay silent about it.

"Good. Let us then proceed with a small token group of guards for security. We don't want to scare the locals. RIGHT, Archbishop?" younger sister said, while giving the fancily robed unicorn a pointed look, making him flinch a little.

"Y-yes your highness. The rest will work on the camp then..."

"Good. Then gather some volunteers, and let us be off."

One session of un-eventful walking later...

"Fine looking gate. Don't you think sister?"

"Perhaps. But it will be even better soon."

With that exchange, the sisters approached the gates slowly, with about a dozen troops behind them, Archbishop Zealous Soul walking among them. They had only taken few steps, when there was movement in the watchtowers on sides of the gate.
"Halt! Who goes there?!" came a gruff voice, along with some cranking of gears of what appeared to be a small ballista.

"I am Princess Celestia of the Equestrian Diarchy! With me are my sister, Princess Luna of the Equestrian Diarchy, and the Archbishop Zealous Soul of the Church of the Two Sisters, along with some troops for our security!"

"And what is your purpose here?!" another voice inquired from other watchtower, where also some cranking of gears could be heard. Seemed like locals where a bit careful. And the few scout reports about some of the local wildlife, it seemed somewhat reasonable.

"We heard of your settlement, and arrived to see it by our own eyes! On a peaceful visit!" Luna continued calmly.

"Wait there! We have to ask the council first!" came an answer from the gate guards. And with that the Princesses and their entourage waited right there, in front of the gate, with two watchtowers, equipped with ballista. Both of which where most likely loaded.
About a half of an hour later guards voice returned.

"You may enter! But if ANY of you causes trouble, you all will be kicked out! Is that clear?! This place is not exactly within Equestria's borders!"
With that, technical but true, line causing slight stuttering among the entourage, Archbishop especially, the gate opened up, allowing entry for all of them.

And they where greeted with an interesting sight of mix of exotic looking buildings, with equally exotic mix of creatures along with ponies moving around, working and some even staring at them with suspiciously. Maybe because they where outsiders to their town?...
After some walking, they arrived at the town square, if a fountain and a little bit larger tower-like building was any indication. There where also several creatures waiting at the towers doors, wearing humble looking sashes; three ponies, thestral, griffin, minotaur, zebra, hippogriff, drake, kirin and a diamond dog.

"I guess this is the council." Luna whispered, while looking at all the creatures in slight awe.

"Yes, and we can hear you well from here." notified the unicorn councilor, who also wore a hood covering her face. "Now will you tell us why have you come here?"

"We came to see your settlement after hearing about it. And also to offer a place for everypony here in our kingdom, for continued prosperity for all." was Celestias very proud sounding answer, due to her being hopeful for a successful political trip after the failure in the far north... Resulting loss of an empire in there.

"And what of the rest of us then?" griffin councilor piped in, sounding offended and somewhat worried. "Will you just drive us non-ponies away through force, like your late father did to most of our kind, when expanding his kingdom from shore to shore? Even plucking some of the caught hatchlings for fun, according to many, many, MANY eyewitness accounts..."
This comment cause plenty of ruffled feathers among equestrians, especially on Celestia.

"I don't understand how that is..." elder princess tried to start, only to be interrupted by the minotaur councilor.
"He even de-horned some of our emissaries, if they said something he did not like. And that was sometimes before the actual talks even began."

This also made other councilors mention their bad experiences with the late king, even the three ponies among them, many involving varied cases of racism, mutilation, false promises and broken agreements with other species outside of "normal" ponies. And Celestia was not very happy for such accusations, Archbishop Zealous even more so. Luna on the other hand mostly just listened to the stories, while learning about the ol' ded daddy from outside perspective. And she was starting to be happy that she never met him.

"How dare you speak such slander of our Brilliant Shining King..."

"Oh, put a sock in it Zello!"

That interruption from unicorn councilor silenced Zealous Soul near instantly. After that, the unicorn pulled her hood down, revealing her face. This made Zealous's face light up upon recognizing the mare.

"Shadow Petal?..."

"Hello... Deedle Nick. How have the heresy trials been?"

"I don't need to take this from a traitor..."

"Big words from somepony who abused his position and connections to get favour's and to rise up the ranks. And going against some of the oh-so-holy commandments."

"Enough!!" elder princess yelled out, while stomping ground loudly, silencing the reunion argument. "We did not come here, so you could ruin another negotiation Archbishop!"

"Well... Great to hear that the little princess has grown in some aspect at least..." came out another voice, seemingly out of nowhere, making almost everyone to look around. Finally Celestias eyes located something strange... An pegasus filly, just floating there in sitting position... Without any wing movement. And something on that voice made hair in the nape of her neck rise up...

"Lady Naja. Great for you to join us."

"No problem Shadow. Timid Flicker, could you maybe get down from my back?"


And with that the filly fluttered down from something unseen, and joined the other townsfolk, who where all watching the visitors. And that was making some of the guards a little nervous.
"Now, I guess I should reveal myself." came the voice again, followed by light glow of something moving. The glow soon spreaded upon of something tall and started to flow downwards, causing some manner of invisibility layer to peel off of something, revealing a feminine humanoid head, with a bluish skin, pair of arms, a second pair of arms... And a third pair of arms. Along with very feminine curves.
This was followed by a reveal of a huge purple serpent tail.

"Welcome to the Tanah Kahijian." the serpent creature seemingly welcomed the equestrian ponies, with arms held in a wide introductory-like position, most likely also telling them a villages name. "It means 'land of unity'. Very fitting with our current population."

"What manner of a monster are you!!??" Archbishop Zealous Soul yelled out after finding his voice.

"And what manner of offensive diminutive equine might you be?" was the serpents answer, seemingly brushing aside the insult. "But to answer to you question, I am an marilith and my name is Naja. In case you missed it earlier."

"And you lead these ponies and allow savages and halfblooded freaks here??!"

"And you sound like you have a highly mighty personal bias towards the non-ponies."

"Archbishop, please cease thy yelling. We are here to talk, not to agitate exotic individuals for no reason. Right Sister?... Sister??" Luna interrupted the verbal-fencing before it could escalate any further, trying to get her sister's opinion. Only to find her just standing there... Staring at the marilith quite intensively. And said serpentine being staring back, in a calm manner.

"Sooo... Are you going to say something, or just keep staring me? Because the latter is getting awkward at a very rabid pace." Naja quipped somewhat nonchalantly to older sister.

"You..." was the only thing Celestia could half-whisper, while her mind was remembering a scene of fire, of this serpentine being just standing there... And a dead father.

"Me... And you're getting a little floatiness on your mane. Still rocking the pink I see." came a simple, even polite sounding answer, followed by a hand movement through marilith's hair. At the same spot from once a piece zapped off.
Celestia did not bother to answer. She just charged her horn and tried to blast the offending worms head off. Only for it to tilt its head to the side, causing the beam to cut few strands of hair off and hit a roof of a building behind it.

"Sister! What are you doing?!" Luna yelled for a good reason. Many others, among both the villagers and many of the dozen guards in the entourage, where aghast of the sun princesses behaviour. Even the Archbishop seemed a little bit amazed about this, and not really in a good way.

"Is this how an Equestrian royalty greets another high authority figure these days? Even though I personally don't see myself as one." Naja gave oddly calm comment, while casually flicking her hair a bit and now folding her arms... All six of them.
"If you absolutely must insist on fighting me on sight because of something that happened waaay over a decade ago, then try taking few deep breaths first and THEN issue a challenge to a duel or a another kind of a match, after which the terms can be settled. That is how the ones with authority do it and tact do it. Right?"

"She's right sister. Even our late father did so according to the stories." Luna piped in with a point that seemed to temper the sun princess from further attacking, sparing village from further collateral damage. After taking few deep breaths to calm down, Celestia casted a determined look upon the marilith.
"Very well, I issue a challenge to a trial by combat, with me and my sister as your opponent's."

"Wait what?"

"Well then, I accept. Have to get this problem to go away eventually... So what are the terms?"

"The challenged one decides the place, the weapons used and one special term for all to follow. And these duels are to go until one side either incapacitated... Or dead..." came an explanation from the Celestia, who still looked very determined. And also kept ignoring her sisters "seriously?!"-expression, for pulling her into this apparent feud.

"All right then. We can use a cleared out area next to the village. As for the weapons, we will use what magic and weapons we have on or with us. I mean, all three of us most likely have battle gear stashed in some pocket-dimension, right?"
After getting confirming nod from both sisters, they began to move out from another gate, to the wide cleared up area next to the village, empty of trees and tree stumps. Obviously this area was to be an expansion area for the village.
Villagers and the equestrian entourage gathered up on the walls of Tanah Kahijian. Luckily the walls where wide enough to be an impromptu crowd-stand to watch the battle.

"Oh, and just so you know; if ANY of your entourage try ANYTHING, you all will be tossed out of the village, since you pretty much used up your one free-pass earlier." Naja mentioned, while summoning her six swords, and stabbing them to the ground to wait a little.
Two sisters nodded in understanding... Well Luna did, while Celestia did so little stiffly.After which they lit their horns, and with a flash of light ad their armors on. Sun princess was now in a bright golden plate armor, with an equally golden halberd, a warhammer (also golden) and two bladed sun-themed chakrams, floating next to her. Moon princess was wearing an steel-colored armor with some manner of silvery rune-embroidery on it, and had a single longsword, which also had silvery rune embroidery, with a light moon theme.
At a first glance, older sisters armor seemed a little more flashy and ceremonial like, while younger sisters armor was clearly made for mobility and to actually protect or lessen potential damage to her body.

"Now... How about all of us do first some last minute preparations? And if possible, would you put up some manner of a barrier? So that none of us tries to leave, or that anyone outside gets hurt? Let that be the one special term for this battle." Naja asked in a polite tone, while doing some hand gestures resembling the 'Nine cuts'. This was to help in calming her nerves, and to sneakily cast a couple of spells with help of few materia-crystals woven in hidden pockets in her vambraces.
'Shell... Wall... Haste... Regen... Reflect... Those should help a little... And hopefully I do not need to call upon the BIG guy...' Naja thought while going through some of the enhancement's that she had at her disposal, along with her base-spells.

On the princess side, Celestia began to weave a barrier-spell, that would cover the entire open are, and it also would not break, or allow anything enter or leave, until only one of them would be conscious. She would have liked it be two remaining conscious, but with the spells craft and the amount of combatants, it just was not possible.
Luna was doing pretty much similar preparation like Naja; few boosting enhancement spells, only these where more of the runic sort, but purpose was the same.

"As a little courtesy, we allow you to make the first attack, no matter what kind it is." sun princess said, trying to be an honorable sort, even though she would have rather wanted to try and wring serpent creatures neck. She did keep all of her weapons at the ready.

"Very well then. I think I have juust the right starter move, brought forth with some training with my friends..." was Naja's simple answer, while coiling up a little into a better standing position. This was followed with deep breath and positioning all of her six arms, now holding swords once more, in an wide arc.
Suddenly Naja, now in some manner of meditative state, let go of the blades, which began to circle her, moving increasingly faster, until they stopped and flew up to the sky in a blink of an eye... And seemed to fall back down in random locations within their battle-area...

"...That's it? Magically toss your blades somewhere high?" Celestia said, sounding slightly amused, maybe expecting more from the thing that killed her father. At the same time she began to magically prime her chakrams, making them spin extremely fast and to gain flaming aura on them.
Luna on her part, noticed that the fallen blades, now sticking up on the ground, where completely different design than the ones marilith had held earlier. This sent several red flags in her mind.

"Sister, wait!" Luna tried to yell, but Celestia already had sent her flaming chakrams flying towards Naja, who just kept standing there on her coils, still keeping her meditative stance.
Before chakrams could even make contact with serpentine being, they where stopped by couple of more falling blades, first breaking their spinning momentum, and finally couple more broke them apart, sending pieces of their enchanted metal flying around.

And this was very soon followed by many, many more of swords of varying design and size, falling randomly around the field, several of them falling dangerously close to them. And at increasing intervals, like a rain that was picking up speed.

"Sister... We need to keep moving or get to cover, NOW!" Luna suggested, at the end of it pushing her sister out of the way of humongous sword, that was maybe a three stories long, breaking through Celestia's personal barrier. Moon princess also luckily managed to dodge it too.
"Thank you sis- WOW!" was all Celestia could say, until another sword, this one several meters long, fell where she just stood a couple of seconds ago. Very soon both of the sisters became VERY busy at dodging raining swords, either blocking them with barrier's or, in Luna's case, using their own weapons to redirect them.
All the while Naja merely held her meditative stance, seemingly keeping up the ever increasing rain of swords. The villagers and Equestrian entourage kept watching, all being pretty amazed by such an 'overkill' opening move.

'At this rate, we get nothing done...' Luna racked her brain for any ideas, while dodging and deflecting falling swords. finally she managed to take over under one of the huge ones, which had tilted juuust right to be used as a cover. Luckily it was also capable to withstand other raining swords. It took a minute for Celestia to come under the same cover. Both of their armors had taken some damage, but where still serving their purpose.
"Alright, I think we should make Naja lose her concentration. That might stop this rain. But we need a pla-" "Solar bolt!" Luna tried to strategize, only for Celestia to conjure a slender magical bolt of sun magic, and send it flying towards Naja's face.

Then the bolt impacted... A barrier? Followed by the bolt literally bouncing back towards the solar allcorn. She answered to this with a swift swing of her warhammer, and with some effort sending the bolt flying at the barrier-spell, where it blew up harmlessly. Only bigger than it would have been normally.
"It has a personal barrier?! How do we get past that in this constant death-rain?!" Celestia shouted angrily, while Luna was brainstorming a strategy.
"We'll use you'r hammer:" she said, just grabbing her sisters warhammer, and with a help from some conjured runes, sent it flying towards Naja. It received few dent's from falling blades, but kept flying steadily like a heavy weight blunt spear.

Golden hammers flying trip ended upon marilith's re-summoned blades, with three slamming away it's momentum, the other three striking it harder, making it crack on several places, and finally shattering it with a combined attack with ALL six blades.
"Clever girl. Excellent usage of meditation breaking and improvised tactic's." Naja commented, while broken pieces of Celestias hammer fell to the ground and all of the fallen blades started to rust at a accelerated rate, soon being nothing but dust in the wind.
"Now, how about we get on with this? There's collateral alicorn caused damage that needs fixing."

"DIEE!!!!" Celestia literally roared, rushing towards Naja, with her halberd raised. Only to have her weapon to be leisurely blocked with one blade, and then receive a slap on her face... From Naja's tail, which sent her flying at the barrier with an audible smack.
"*Tsk* No strength at all behind that attack." was all marilith could say, before the younger sister came with her attack. With five extra swords, made out of conjured blue crystal-like substance.

Crystal blades went for marilith's blades, while Luna went for remaining one with her main sword. This resulted clear struggle on both sides, with all blades locked together.
"Admirable strength on you sword. You are not just levitating it with telekinesis, are ya?"

"Dueling spell. Allow's caster to wield weapons, as if they are actually holding them. Magical grip on the item is much, much stronger than normal levitation, but effective range is very limited." Luna gave her answer, while trying to push in a little bit closer to Naja's face.
"And the crystal blades are there to keep your other blades busy."

"Smart move. And you probably know that my tail isn't threat to you, since I keep it ready for your sis-" "GYAAAAAH!!!-" Naja commented, only to be interrupted by Celestia's warcry, which in turn was interrupted by another tail slam to the face, followed by a short flight and ending in another smack at the barrier. Only this one was followed by a squeaky sliding noise. Few observers among the villagers and Equestrian entourage made an audible "oooww.."-noise.
"...Yes. Celly is a bit of a loose cannon when overly motivated." was all Luna could say.

"BUT, you forgot something very simple... Using ones HEAD!" Naja continued, before slamming her head against Luna's, seriously denting her helmet and dazing momentarily. This disrupted the floating crystal blades, making two of them, keeping marilith's middle hands occupied, crack and falter.
With swift wrist movement's, Naja managed to partially break the said crystal blades, making them fall to the ground. This was followed by a de-summoning of two of Naja's blades(, the middle ones,) and being replaced by a controlled flame on her palm's.
By the time Luna came out of being dazed, she noticed marilith's flaming hands... right in front of her face.

Luna barely had time to put up a shield spell, when it received two jets of flame, in such a pressure it actually pushed her back, along with remaining crystal blades still hovering near her. This was followed by Luna discarding her helmet and Naja calling her middle-hand swords back.
Then marilith went on the offensive, rushing towards the blue alicorn. Luna sent the crystal blades flying at Naja in attempt to slow her down a little, with moderate success. While Naja was shattering crystal blades, Luna was casting a rune-spell for speed.

Time seemed to slow down from Luna's point of view, even though Naja still moved quite fast with her attack's. It was still enough to allow moon alicorn to use her sword to block and deflect marilith's attack's, while managing to physically dodge some of them.
The whole thing took some effort on both of them. Celestia was in the background regaining her consciousness and tossing her wrecked helmet away.

"You certainly have skill with the blade princess, and if I had to guess, rune magic of some sort?" Naja almost casually commented, while holding Luna's sword in a hold, with all of her's.

"Indeed, as you seem to have power to wield fire. And you seem to be somewhat enchanted, when looking at your speed for some... Being of your size, and the personal barrier you had." was Moon princesses comment back.

"Right on the mark--- Excuse me... Think I got something down my throat..." marilith was saying back, but suddenly seemed double over a little, without breaking the sword hold. Like she was about to hurl for some reason. Luna seemed both worried and curious about this turn of event's for reasons unknown.

Then Naja suddenly hacked some kind of saliva covered lump out of her mouth. And said lump impacted Luna's snout, turning into heavily mustard smelling cloud of gaseous matter, causing her to cough out of instinct, while getting couple of lung-full's of said gas.
This was followed by a tail swing at the princess, who was sent flying on the side. But unlike the older sister, younger seemingly managed to get a shield spell up to dampen the impact.
"Sorry about that, but at least I did it face-to-face, with mild eye-contact." Naja called out an apology to still coughing Moon princess, sounding sorry for using so called "cheap-trick".
Then marilith's ears heard a noise of flapping wing's, making her turn just in time to see Celestia taking a swing with her halberd towards her.

Naja's first instinct was to dodge, but Sun princesses attack was already happening at the close range. The result of these circumstances was Celestia's halberd's bladed tip cutting in the middle of marilith's face, leaving behind a nicely bleeding gash. And it also caused Naja to let out a painful grunt.
"So you do feel pain. And here I thought that a monster like you does not feel anything." Sun princess commented aloud, sounding both proud for successful attack and condescending towards marilith. She also took a short moment to eye her weapon with serpent's blood on it, like it was an achievement of sorts.

And while Celestia was busy with her gloating, Naja was holding her bleeding face with one hand, followed by a short check on it by reflection on her blade. The gash went from her right forehead, and down to her left cheek, situated right between her eyes. Seemed that the Regen-spell casted earlier was enough to stem any extra bleeding.
"You wish for a monster as your opponent, little princess?..." Naja asked in a slightly menacing tone, turning torwards white, gold armored alicorn, then proceeded to slide all of her six blades slowly against each other, causing few sparks to fly off of them.
"... Then I'll give you one!!" she yelled, while her swords where set ablaze. After that was done, Naja then rushed towards Celestia at alarming speed with a warcry to accompanying it.

This move visibly startled the white alicorn. Maybe with the obvious fierceness of the attack, or perhaps she relived some of her mild nightmares about this creature, from the few night's that followed her father's death.
Only thing managed to do was cast a shield-bubble around herself, which seemed to hold the first flaming swords attacks without any trouble. But because there where six of them, and marilith was advancing while attacking, Celestia was being driven in to the corner, making keeping the shield-bubble up a major challenge. Very soon a combined strike of three blades shattered the shield, like it was made of glass.
While the shield breaking dazed her movement momentarily, it did not hinder Celestia's vision. Which helped her to see serpents tail coming right for her.
"Not again..." Celestia muttered, before being sent flying AGAIN by that flexible two-ton mass of muscle. Only this time she did not fly at the barrier, just landing few meters short from it, head first to the dirt.

Naja did not bother to comment. She just de-spelled her sword flames , while keeping an eye at the sun alicorn. Even though the white posterior was slightly distracting, it did not cause any specific reaction from her.
"Oi!! Incoming!!" came Lunas voice, making Naja to turn her head, looking over her shoulder. Just in time to see an large ice-blue bolt of magic coming towards her. It impacted her right in to her right shoulder blade.

The feeling of extreme cold spreaded from the point of impact, flowing through mariliths body. causing her to fall down with serious shivering and a loud thud, about three of her swords falling to the ground during it, with the rest remaining in her grip, that had turned much tighter from the cold feeling. Even her breath was turning visibly vaporous.
'So c-c-cold...' was only thing Naja could think, while feeling something frosty forming on her shoulder blade.
"I'm sorry for attacking you from behind..." she heard Luna say, who sounded genuinely sorry about the so-called "cheap-shot". This was followed by a thud of body falling to the ground. With some effort Naja could see the Moon princess laying on the ground, clearly unconscious from the effect's of the Mustard bomb received right in her face.

While Naja was shivering there, instinctively trying, and failing, to fully coil up for even a little bit of warmth. All she managed to hear where shouts of shock from the villagers, the cheers from the equestrian entourage... And hoofsteps, that stopped near her head.
And a single glance revealed Celestia standing there, somewhat dirty, but standing tall there, with a smuggish like smile on her face.

"You put up a good battle, you serpentine beast... But since the barrier is still up, it is time to fully end it, and free the villagers from your corrupting influence." she borderline monologued while standing there, even lifting Naja's hair out of the way of her eyes with halberg's blade.
Then the white alicorn brought fort something little... A lock of hair, held together with a gray ribbon, and proceeded to toss it before marilith's face.
"Something I held onto, for you to take with you in afterlife..."

With those words said, Celestia took few step back, while beginning to conjure up a much more potent spell. This caused an magical circle, with amble sun motif on it, to appear above them, covering the area above still shivering Naja.

"... Burn..."

And those venom filled words, where followed by an eruption of solar flames from the magic circle, descending with a violent roaring upon Naja's form, seemingly consuming it completely...

"I have avenged you...Father..."




















'So is this it then? Getting burned to ashes after receiving some frostbite, for trying to defend my friends from zealots?' Naja thought while her vision was full of flames, with a faint outline of the Sun princesses form barely visible short distance away.

'*sigh* At least this is painless death... Juuust that ol' Grim Reaper sure is taking it's time coming... Wait... The flames don't even feel burning on me... Even the chill is gone...' she came to realize, now even managing to rise in upwards position, while still being bathed in flames. Guess the Princess sunshine wanted to be very thorough in this.

'Actually... I begin to feel even better...' with that thought, her sword free hands reached towards her injuries; both felt like they where healed, despite having obvious scar-tissue-feel on them.
'By Shiva's frosty cans! I freaking heal from fire!' Naja mentally exclaimed with a cheery revelations feeling, which pulled three fallen blades back to her free hands. 'Now... How to best cover this fact from our miss sunshine?'

Very short moment of thinking later, Naja moved her blades in a theatrically choreographic position, and mentally commanded. 'Runic-blade... ACTIVATE!'

'Just a few moments longer, and there should not be nothing earthly to remember from that snake. Then we can concentrate in curing the village from any remaining influence left behind, and to upkeep Harmony...' Celestia thought while keeping the Solar flame spell going, now with pure determination to erase the beast, that had haunted her many years, from existence.

Suddenly the surging flames began to move inwards the targeted area, like something was pulling them in. Noticing that, princess ended her spell, with some sweat drops on her forehead. She may be the Princess of the Sun, but she is not completely immune to the heat of the fire. That would make enjoying warmth of the fireplace boring.

With the spell ended, the remaining fire that had surged out of the circle, joined in this odd behaviour. Finally the cause was revealed to be... Six blades, held by six arms of serpentine being, seemingly sucking the flames within themselves.
'Wait... Those blades... They must the source of its power! I just have to-' Celestias inner thoughts where interrupted by the ting of metal, coming from marilith's blades hitting each other, now starting to spark with lightning's. But what made Celestia fearful that, where the marilith's eyes... Bringing back memories from years ago...

Celestia barely had enough time to raise her weapon to defend herself, when marilith rushed her with multiple attacks, each swing of a blade sending sparks of electricity flying. But using levitating halberd to defend from six swords was not that easy, yet luck seemed to be on white alicorn's side, with her block's and dodge's going well for now...
Blow after blow electrified blades landed on the halberd, one right after the other, causing crack's on it, without leaving an opening to a counter-attacks. And finally combined strike of three blades shattered the golden halberd into multiple pieces.

"Try blocking this!!!" Naja yelled, followed by her literally springing with a spin towards Celestia, who tried to dodge upcoming attack. She would have completely succeeded if her armor was made for mobility.
This combination resulted Naja's swords slicing in to Celestia's collarbone area... Tip area of the each one of the six swords slicing through her armor, skin and muscle, all of them shedding blood. And sending who knows how many volts of electricity through her body. Overall, it was extremely painful experience for Celestia, sending her spazzing on the ground, her consciousness starting to slip away, finally making her see blackness.

Naja kept her eye on the Sun princess, while steadying her breath. Looked like she was not getting up from that level of shock treatment. With that she slithered near Celestia, grabbing her from her mane, then went to also grab Luna, putting arm around her stomach.
The barrier had also come down, meaning that the battle's ending terms where fulfilled.

After slithering nearer the village wall, where everyone where still standing, pretty much tossing Celestia on the entourage side, while lowering Luna on the same side.
"There, take your princesses and leave..." was all Naja said towards the equestrian soldiers, the zealous one still among them. And they did come down to grab their monarch's. But then the zealous one began grinning.

"You are strong... But I bet you are tired after that..." Archbishop Zealous Soul commented menacingly. And as if on que, more equestrian soldier began to appear behind the treeline, surprising even the villagers. Most likely one of them had went to get reinforcements. "And I think we can finish what our shining holy majesties started here!"

'Oh for the love of... They still want to try go all 'deus vult' on us... Need to make them even more demoralized and fast...' Naja was somewhat panicking, since she was a little tired from the battle, despite being healed by flames, while the equestrians where trying to form a feasible battle line for the situation.


"Call my name..."


'Call my name... Name my target...' came the odd voice once again, sounding like some kind of machine. And Naja was starting to feel a powerful presence... On her upper left wrist, where she had equipped the BIG guy...
"Very well..." Naja whispered calmly, while taking a meditative stance, raising her upper left blade up high on two-hand hold, while the rest took ritualistic positions on her sides.

"What is it doing?"

"I does not matter! Just attack it already!! For the Princesses!!"

"We still need their order's for it."

Arguments between troops and the Archbishop started to wake the sisters. But even thought they regained their consciousness, they where not in battle condition; Celestia was still bleeding lightly with some electric spazzing, and Luna was still feeling woozy from the mustardy gas.
But they could feel the gathering of powerful magic, right where the serpent was standing, holding one of it's blades upwards. At that moment glowing orbs, with odd markings on them. began to appear around Naja, who seemed to be in trance of sort.

"W-wait... Do not engage her..." Luna managed to croak out, clearly having a sore throat, and luckily the soldier held their position, much to Archbishops annoyance, but he still stayed quiet. Even Celestia held her tongue... She did not want to risk equestrian lives. She was also a bit busy looking at the glow that seemed to originate from the sword that serpent was holding up, from where she was seeing it.
On the background , the villagers just prepared for whatever was coming...

And then marilith seemed to speak a chant...

"Mukashi no idaina kikai wa, watashi no teki ni shi o motarasu! Arekusandā!"

With those word spoken aloud, a ginourmous magic-circle appeared at a distance behind Naja, looking like some manner of true celestial clockwork, with all of the moving portions of it moving around in perfect sync. Far more intricate than any other magic-circle ever done before.
Then two gargantuan metallic limb's came into existence through the circle, both of them having a some manner of hand, followed by an huge fortress-like structure, followed by another similar structure, only this time they continued higher, forming shoulder-like form attached to now appearing front of this gargantuan metal being.
It's presumed face resembled that of a frog-mouth helmet, holding several tower-like extensions on it's back. Or what was visible of it.

When it took a forward standing position, couple of magic circles appeared beneath its limb's, just above the tree tops, taking role of platforms to stand on. And the magical pressure felt from its very presence, was more than overwhelming to all who could sense magical energies. Even those that did not have strong magical connections, still felt it's enormous power.

'Name my target...' sounded the voice in Najas head once more.

'Show them your might with a warning shot, but do not kill anything if possible...' was Naja's mentally given answer.

'Scanning surrounding's... Suitable target located... Commence Judgement?' came another request, now showing an image of an huge mountain, that could actually be seen from village on a clear day. The Desolate Mountain, they simply called it, and apparently nothing bothered to live there. Not even the weeds, or even livable soil component's.

'...Do it...'

'Acknowledged... Charging Judgement... Charge completed, initiating Judgement...'

What followed that telepathic conversation, was slight opening of the Machines presumed face, barely revealing an instrument of sort, which began to charge magical energies. And after a tense moment, it fired it in a form of a thin beam waaay past the village, towards the mountain at a distance.

"H-heh... S-see? It can not even hit a t-target near i-it..."Archbishop stuttered.

And then a gigantic pillar of HOLY fire erupted at a distance, lighting up the area around it for miles, swallowing up The Desolate Mountain in its entirety, quite literally erasing it from existence, leaving behind a visibly smoking burned up slab of land, with a few enduring rock formations. Thus the scorched region of land, later known as Badlands, where born.
That was all what was required to wreck any of the remaining fighting morale for equestrians and making them grab the Princesses and to run away in reasonable panic. And they did not stop running until they where at the southern edge of the Hayseed swamps. They did remember take their wagons and supplies with them.

With the threat over, the giant metallic being faded away, with some golden white sparkles for added effect. And finally fatigue caught up with Naja, with her collapsing down. The villagers where quick to go to help. With Hermes, Zica and Timid Flicker at front of the group.

"Miss Naja! Are you alright?!"

"Are ya hurt?!"

"Should I get Fluffy to help get you up?!"

"To answer in order Yes. Mildly and would appreciate it..." Naja answered to young ones rabid questions, while just out of instinct letting her body to relax after the fight.
It did not take long to have Naja dragged back to the village, with the help from Fluffy and couple of more behemoths, and to fix up the damage Sun princess did earlier.

"So Shadow Petal? Sounded like you and the head zealot had a history there. Care to elaborate?"

"Zealous Soul. He and I used to be associates once, back when I served in churches militia. But he wanted to have more power... And me. so he went to support nearly anything the late king decided to garner his favor." Petal talked in somber tone.
"I left after they changed militia into paladins, and after he even tried to forcefully claim me, going against one the commandments of the church. But like many in high position there, they 'conveniently' gloss over certain parts in the rules, while blowing other rules out of the proportions. After beating him up good, I hid in old Greyhorn's mercenary group, where I met my dear Falgo. The rest is history."

"Any chance he will leave all of us alone?"

"There is a chance... A very minimalistic, but still a chance of it..."

Equestrian camp, The royal tent...

"We will first return back to Canterlot, Archbishop. And that is final!" Celestia yelled at the Zealous Soul, while being treated for her injuries.

"A-as you wish your majesty..." he said and left the tent while bowing low, with shaky steps. Most likely still shaken from the metallic giant.

"What do you intent to do sister?" asked Luna, who had fewer bandages on her body, sipping some herbal tea for her sore throat. "You saw that gigantic metal being the marilith summoned, right? It even leveled The Desolate Mountain in a single shot, and I have a hunch it was not using it's full power..."

"... I'll tell once we make it back to the capital, sister. But it maybe-" Celestia's answer was interrupted by a miniature electric surge visibly flowing through her. "...It maybe eve better to talk about it at our shared castle. Lesser change of potential spies... Does this sound alright?"

"Yes sister. I just hope we don't end up doing anything rash... We don't want another Crystal Empire-level of disappearance."

"Don't worry, I already have a plan brewing up. In the mean time, we should send some scouts to the area that held The Desolate Mountain, just in case."

Chapter 8 Stone failures, sharp chains and snakey curses.

View Online

Chapter 8 Stone failures, sharp chains and snakey curses.

Some time had passed, maybe a month or two, since the day the Equestrian envoy had visited Tanah kahijian, resulting a duel, plenty of injuries and some collateral damage to one roof. Oh, and also an cataclysmic level of a warning shot from an summoned gargantuan magical machine. Overall, it had been a very eventful tuesday.

Townsfolk had added some more security on the walls at night, and where more alert during the day. All this was motivated by fear of retaliation by the Church of the Two Sisters, or Equestria as a whole.
Even Naja was on guard, in case the Sun princess would do some manner of attack, knowing that she had painted herself as a target once more. Only this time, miss sunshine knew where she dwelled, and she did not want to leave the town to fend for themselves against the zealous elements of pony kingdom.

Oddly there have been no movement against them from Equestria. No assassin, no missionaries, no military... And said silence was making marilith worried and a bit wary. Wary enough to hide any bonded and un-bonded materia they had, which included the Big guy, named Alexander. It especially could NOT fall into the hooves of Equestrian church. They most likely would use it to conquer other lands, or force others into their faith. At least as long as Zealous Soul held the title of Archbishop...
Even those of the townsfolk, who had bonded with some materia, chose to hide them and chose to wear well made decoys, due to the striking similarities between a shard of condensed wild magic and a lump of fancily colored glass to those not specifically attuned with them. They even made a "shrine" to showcase them. Just in case...

But now at the moment Naja was present at a humble celebration at the town square, for the start of proper construction for the new section for the town, where the duel was fought. At the moment there was only a few foundation's there and plenty of wood, ready to be used for later construction.

"It truly warms my heart to see a small collection of huts and tents to have grown into a full blown town, with more of it coming down the road. And despite of few set back's and a somewhat of a rocky start, we all have prevailed and built a strong community together." Naja spoke while raising a goblet of sorts, about size of a large bucket or two. Others had their own sorts of drink holder, mostly a variety of fruit juice and some more fermented stuff too, which was kept away from the little ones.
"Cheers, for the good times and prosperity for all of you!" And with these word everyone present took a traditional sip from their respective drinks, many even closing their eyes for a second.

And then the joyous occasion was ruined by a sudden explosion of colored gasses, causing plenty of coughing and a sudden loss of feeling in their limbs. Naja could smell the gas, but did not feel anything different. But the sudden gassing made her call her swords.

'Well this day went south oddly fast...'

Naja didn't need to look for the guilty party. One sweeping glance revealed several leather armored ponies on the roofs. All of them had a certain rogue or hunter vibe in them. And few of them where pointing a crude cannon-like contraptions at her. And fired them, sending chains, with various trapping instruments attached to them, flying at her.
She countered many of the shots with plenty of sword slashes, while the presumed hunters kept aiming at her arms. Either they where trying to disarm her or take her alive. And she had few guesses who they might be working for.

'Ramuh's beard they're persistent. If this was any where else I would be giving them some fi-'

Najas line of thought was interrupted by a sharp pain on her upper left arm, making her drop one sword and yell out in pain. The reason for that was a harpoon, with some wicked looking barbs, sticking out between her hand and elbow, ruining both bracer and the arm's muscle tissue. And causing pain a plenty.
This painful and somewhat bloody distraction allowed other hunters land their shot's on mariliths arms, these being mostly shackles and bolas. Result of this move was all six arms tied up and slightly pulled behind her, to make it harder to do anything with either hands or fallen swords. Harpooned arm was seriously hurting from this pulling.
In short, it was safer for Naja stay still in order to avoid any serious damage.

"Be wary of the tail! And has anypony sent the signal yet?"

"Already done!"

"Good. Now let's move civilians to safer spots. And that means every single one of them, not just ponies. We don't want trouble with other nations!"

"But didn't that Archbishop fellow say that-"

"I know what he said, but WE don't want problems with other nations!!"

Hunters argument stopped as a magical portal opened up at the square, but they luckily did not stop moving the locals out of the way, setting them up in various sitting positions, many of the hunters trying to apologize, and the villagers glaring at them quite furiously, still unable to move or speak.
At this point several ponies began to exit from the portal; plenty of gold armored guards, few paladins, and several fancily dressed bishops, the Archbishop Zealous Soul among them, looking more than a bit smug, and few more humble looking friars. And soon both princesses exited from another portal near the town gates, Celestia in her ceremonial looking battle gear, looking proud of something. The Moon princess on the other hoof, was looking little unsure about the situation.

"So... We meet again, you heinous beast. Not so mighty now, are ye? Brought down by noble faithful ponies of Equestria." Zealous Soul began, with an obvious disdain towards marilith, even walking closer to her, with an expression that almost literally oozed superiority complex.
"Calling me a beast would imply I would be unable to reason, and I never said anything about being mighty. And you seem to still be a racist diminutive equine, with a ego too big for their earthly frame..."

Zealous Soul was about to argue back, but Naja was faster. "And if you come any closer, you would almost be in range for me to bite your head off..." This comment caused few gasps from the bishops and friars, even making Archbishop stutter for a second, only to be followed by few more words. "...But I won't..."

"A-and why is that? Am I too holy for you?"

"No, way, waaaaay far from it. I just don't want to have stomach ache from your racism and superiority complex."

"Y-you dare?!! Enjoy that tongue of yours while you still have it!!" At this point familiar looking friar stepped toward.

"Aah, Archbishop... Maybe you should hold your tongue. I mean the locals can still hear you and the prin-"

"Silence friar Zealous Spirit! And get the civilians separated from those heretical creatures, so we can get to cleansing their minds from the influence of this unholy monster. And as for the creatures, might as well cleanse them out of this place..." was Archbishops answer, with the last part being said in a way that did not sound that merciful, making both princesses to stop, both looking a bit aghast about archbishops words, younger even more so. And these words actually got some approving nods from bishops... And snapped something within Najas mind...

"Archbishop Zealous Soul, we are not here to commit some barbaric ethnic cleansing of non-ponies, but to free local citizens from the influence of that worm. And I would expect more civil behaviour from a pony of your position." Celestia commented, surprising plenty of ponies, on equestrias side at least.
"But your highness, this is for the memory and glory of thy late father, who knew exactly how to handle the uncivilized heretics beyond our borders and-" *SPLAT!!*

Any word that the Archbishop would have continues to say where silenced when a certain two ton purple-scaled tail slammed on him, making him a Archbishop of pancakes... Although pancakes would find him offensive...
The angle of the tail strike caused some of the blood and assorted giblets flying... Some landing right on the face of few equestrians, Sun princess included, causing plenty of shocked faces and some screams amongst the equestrians. Marilith had surprised even the hunters with this move, which was swinging it's tail over its own head while bowing forward, and managed to do it without disrupting the chains on her arms.
Next thing happening was Naja removing her tail from the bloody mess, that used to be Zealous Soul, while seemingly breathing stream of concentrated fire at it, cleaning the mess from tail and street stones, leaving barely even ashes behind.

"May the Snake King Dalamadur destroy your freaking churches of racism every time you try to force your views on others or commit geno- or xenocide by any other name..." Naja all but rumbled out while her eyes flashed for a moment. Some could even feel varying levels of chill go down their spines.

"Secure the blades..." Celestia ordered, while slowly walking closer to marilith very warily, due to the obvious reasons. The soldier hurried to pick up fallen blades, only to be having some trouble in moving them. Seemed like that in order to move one of the mariliths swords, required around five to eight guards dragging one on the ground. Even unicorn guards had trouble with telekinesis, with four sweating bullets in floating just one, one looking ready collapse.

"I see that you are hiding the scars I left on your neck last time you visited... Guess we both now have some physical scars from each other, eh?" Naja commented while eyeing white alicorns armor, in which the neck area was visibly newer metal.
"And you are soon nothing but a memory..." was Celestias near emotionless comment back, followed by her summoning certain six important looking gems. While this was happening, Luna walked beside her sister. The look on the Moon princesses eyes was somewhat sad looking, like she was trying to say 'sorry' to Naja without being heard. Perhaps the younger sister was more sympathetic towards mariliths current predicament.

"You will regret this..." was all Naja said while Princesses began to cast something powerful with the gems, eyes glowing and some rainbowy light's dancing around them. And very soon a rainbow colored beam of light shot upwards and then curved towards the marilith, who merely glared at it defiantly, soon being bathed on the rainbow-beams light.
This was followed by a cracking sound when stony surface began to creep up the serpentine body, ignoring the chains, harpoon and other entrapments on arms, very soon covering even her face, leaving it on the defiant look...

"It is finally over..." Celestia said, looking at the now-statue of marilith. Luna said nothing, just looking away from the stony sight.
"Now we only have to-" *CRACK*

Sun princesses musing was interrupted by a sound of stone cracking, and one look showed a huge crack on the petrified marilith's torso and face. And soon with one good deep breath marilith's bosom broke free from it's stony layer, followed by head getting free too with one firm shake. The rest of the stone layer crumbled with few stretching moves and a small tail shake.
"Looks like I'm not going to be a lawn ornament for pidgeons to sit on." Naja said, with a humble grin on her face.

"H-how?... N-no, it doesn't matter, I still have a backup plan for this..." was sun alicorns comment for this situation. With those words said, Celestias horn began to glow extra brightly, making the guards, the church folk and even Luna to back away from Celestia.
Then a magically flaming gateway opened behind Naja, holding a stone platform of sorts, with chains attached to surrounding walls, coming to life and and grabbing hold of her tail and arms, magically destroying hunter chains and harpoon, and starting to drag her in. This caused a little bit of instinctual struggling, making chains to pull harder. While this was happening, lightly triumphantly smiling Celestia was beginning to visibly sweat. The spell was clearly very demanding magic-vise, with opening a gateway to another presumed plane of existence and affecting some chains in there at the same time.

"Celestia!!" Naja roared with a sharp, defiant edge in her voice. "You'll never be rid of me!!!"

If Celestia said anything, Naja did not hear it, due to portal closing, leaving her in chains in some manner of truly gargantuan cavern complex, on a platform of sorts. There seemed to be several other platforms in there too.
Now in almost complete silence, reality partially crashed on Naja, causing her to hang her head in fear. Not for herself,but for the safety of the townsfolk, now that the Equestrian royalty and church had found them. Who knows how they would try and coerce them, considering earlier encounter's and the reputation the church and the pony nations apparent reputation in attitude towards non-ponies. It made her worry for a reason...

"Hey... Ol' Squidface? If you can hear me... Spare the townsfolk and their descendants from anything the Equestrians might try against them or the town. I don't care if I have to take a near millenia long power nap for that..."




"...oK, gOt iT..."

"I highly doubt that..." Celestia muttered while watching the conjured gate to Tartarus close, locking up the serpentine horror away for good. Still sad that they lost one pony... In front of his son even.
"Are the townsfolk getting better from the gas?"

"Yes, your highness. More than half are already standing up and moving to either check something in their homes or gathering over there..." came hunter's answer.
With that, the Sun princess turned to face the growing crowd of ponies. And other creatures too. All having a very neutral expressions, in a very unsettling way...

"Dear citizens! There is no more need to fear! You are free of the influence of the serpent, and free to join the land of Eques-" *splat*

Celestia little joyous victory speech was interrupted by an over ripened piece of fruit, a mango to be exact, flying at her cheek, causing the guards to gather around her and shocking the higher-ups of the church folk and the Princess herself. The thrower turned out to be an griffo-, no, a hippogriff youngling, angrily fluffing up it's feathers.
A wave of her hoof stopped any of the guard of church member from doing anything. "Child? Why did yo-"

"You're a mean person..."

For reasons unknown, the hybrid child's words hurted Celestia even more than the battle injuries she received during her last visit here. Even the rest of the equestrians where silent at this. After wiping some of the fruit gunk, Celestia went to try and salvage this.
"Young one, you may be a little confused right now, but-"

"No, he's not. My son, Hermes, is very sane and very honest, almost to a fault." came an interruption from a grey unicorn mare, whom Celestia recognized as Shadow Petal, who looked quite furious now. The comment of the hybrid being her son made few church higher ups look disgusted at this information.

"Lady Naja is our dear friend and ally around these parts. She was already living around here when most of us arrived to find a place to settle together. And she did not do anything that the monsters your late father preached on and on about, whenever making a public speech, would do."

"Please, I'm sure you can understan-"

"No. It is YOU who does not understand. There is a valid reason, or two, why the ponies and plenty of other creatures here left your nation, whether they where born, moved, immigrated or bought in there. And one of those reasons WAS your dear daddy, and one other one is the church, which has changed it's name few times."

Sun princess actually went speechless after that surprisingly calm rant from Shadow. This was followed by few more thrown fruits and vegetables at the princess and other equestrians, along with few shouts and such from the locals.
A moment later, Shadow raised her hoof to stop the throwing for a moment, revealing a hoof-band with a green and blue gem-like orbs in it, fitted in an intricate set of linked holes for them.

"Now, this will be warning shot from all of us. After that you really should leave, before Timid calls Fluffy and his pack here to prove that we don't wan't you here... Now LEAVE!!!!"
With those words, Shadow waved her hoof, making the two orbs glow lightly, causing several dark, black orbs to appear above all equestrians. The orbs then disappeared and then something seemed to cause all those affected to momentarily collapse, like something heavy was suddenly put upon their backs.
After that spell was over, smartest of the equestrians present started to take their leave; mostly friars and few paladins and troops and Luna. The rest received some encouragement by the thrown fruits and vegetables. Celestia seemed to the biggest target, on so many levels...

After a few minutes of fruit bombardment, the equestrians, and hunters, had left the town. Few locals even went to carefully check that they did not have any camps nearby, and luckily they did not have. Magical traces hinted for a portal-spell being used just recently near the beach area.
Now with the threat over for now, time to mourn arrived. Needless to say many, many sad tears where shed among the citizens of Tanah kahijian... Followed by a shared resolve to get marilith's swords back from the princess, and to be extremely wary of anything the equestrian royalty or the church might try to do... And wishing that one day Naja would return to live with them, or with their descendants...

Chapter 9 Slithering back to the surface, and out of town.

View Online

Chapter 9 Slithering back to the surface, and out of town.

Well that was quite a flashback dream, with some interesting additions, that I don't think I was actually there to witness. Now though all I see is some misty horizon while standing on some rocky cliff on a small islet.

"So... How was that power nap of your's, miss Naja?" came a voice behind me. A simple head turn revealed a really tall, thin figure of about my height, completely covered in a ratty cloak. And then there was the hood covering it's face, with a few fleshy tentacles peeking through it.

"Pretty well, Ol'Squidface... It is all right to call you that, right?"

"Sure, many beings already mispronounce my real name anyway... "

After that a silence followed, with both of us just standing there on the cliff.

"So... I just came to tell ya that the millennia long nap is now over, and I have thus kept my part of the bargain in protecting the village. Not visibly of course, can't have everyone in that world go crazy. Simple subtle touch of my tentacle here and there, and NOT in a way you might think."

"Meaning that I have to get out of the 'pony-hell' first and then get back to Tanah kahijian... If it still remembers me... Or even is still there..."

"Pretty much, yes. And don't bother asking any of the details, cause it would spoil things that may or may not even happen... That would be against plenty of the rules."

"All right then... Is that all, or are you going to push me off the edge to wake me up?" I asked one final thing.

"Maybe... But now I have to depart. I got a game of *gragbhlatach't* with a cyclop triangle with a top hat and a stupid bow tie, a floating pile of spaghetti and some faceless tentacle-backed fellow with a nice suit... Sohavefunremebertocheckyourbust-BYYYYYE!!!"
With that out of the way, the cloaked figure simply pushed my back, and the cliff under me cave away and I fell to the darkness...

Najas eyes opened quite quickly due to sudden awakening from a deep, almost a hibernation-like sleep. She was immediately seeing the stone surfaces of Tartarus, while just laying there, resting her head on her arms...
The latter thing made her take a better look. Yep, the chains where still there on her arms, buuut... They where not attached to the stony walls around her anymore. Seemed like that the stone had crumbled with time and with a substantial weight on them at all times. And apparently there was no maintenance down here. Sure the chains still looked brand new, but the walls their own also need some tlc from time to time.

'Ok, so only have to get out fo these chains and out of here... wait is that a bit of rust?' Naja thought, while noticing a little rusted part on her upper-left shackle.
'Must have been that harpoon wound... At least i see no sign of necrosis or other infection. Should be easier to break or burn off...' she concluded, while trying to channel her fire magic. Only to fail in it, on her hands at least.
'Well, guess it's fire breathing time then.'

And with that, Naja began to channel fire trough her mouth, managing to make welding torch like flame with some lip-work. After a few very brightly lit moments of melting shackles, Najas arms were free.
'*Phew*, good thing i'm fire-proof. Even though my eyes still hurt from that.' where her thoughts, while rubbing her wrist's a little bit. 'Now, what did the Ol'squidface meant with that hint? Or was it just attempt to get me to touch myself more?...'

After a while of getting her vision back to it's full capacity, marilith did eventually began to check her bust... And found something sown into her top-piece; three pieces of materia crystal.
'Well hello you three. I guess I accidentally forgot you there.' Naja thought, while reaching for the connection with her senses. And the crystals answered, revealing 'themselves' as Vanish, Float and Teleport.
'Looks like I just might get an easy way out of here. Unless something goes horribly wrong with it... Or that this place does not fit the rules of the spell.'

With those thoughts in her mind, Naja began to focus on the teleportation materias power, causing some slight glowing from the said crystal... Located in her top-piece.

'Now... Teleport!' Naja mentally commanded, soon feeling plenty of arcane energy around her, which caused her to simply disappear from her jail-spot in Tartarus, in a flash of light...

Another flash of light and Naja appeared... Somewhere... On a stony surface, temporarily blinded by the magical light of the spell.

"Well... That was a LOT easier than I thought... But no reason to complain for the easy exit." Naja muttered to herself, while getting her vision back.
Her surroundings seemed to a ruin of sorts, with crumbling walls and all that. And the room included two thrones, with sun and moon motifs.
'I guess this place used to be home for those two princesses. Seems to have really gotten out of repair for whatever reason-' Naja thought, until she sensed some familiar form of presence nearby.

This led her to slither around in the wider corridors, due to her tails ample frame being too big for smaller passageways. Finally she arrived to a room, that seems to have once been an armory, where were plenty of rusted out weapons. And on the wall, fixed on a large shield, where two of Najas blades; both from her middle arms.

"Well hello there, my darling's." Naja muttered to herself, while reaching for the blades. And at that moment they started to shake violently in their holdings, finally breaking free and then proceeding to fly towards Najas waiting hands, even in handle-first-position. And they landed firmly, bringing a warm feeling with them, like finding a spiritual piece of you after losing it a long time ago.

"I missed you too, my dearies..." she whispered to the blades, even giving them a little kiss on the flat side.

After that moment of somewhat tender reunion, Naja started to head to the castle entrance, soon seeing an obvious way out of the castle.

"Almost there..." Naja muttered happily, until she was suddenly stopped... By her waist, or the part of her body where the human waist becomes the much wider snake tail, getting stuck in the doorframe.
"Oh for the love of... Odins spear, are you kidding me!?"

After almost a solid, slightly infuriating, minute of trying to carefully squeeze through, she finally gave up... On the squeezing trough that is.
"All right, that does it!" Naja partially yelled, with four of her hand forming a solid red orbs on them, and proceeded to flick them at the offending doorframe.

Several bird took flight and few animals got spooked, when a sound of an fiery explosion shook the forest surrounding the ruin, even sending a dark puff of smoke up in the air. Luckily nothing caught fire in the ruin or in the forest.
Inside the ruin, Naja was busy waving the smoke away and to see the damage. The doorframe was completely wrecked and heavily scroched with a nice layer of ash.
"Well... At least I can now get out of here... And no one obviously lives here" marilith commented while slithering out through the ruined doorway, her tail following without any problems this time.

Then came the next obstacle of the day... A flimsy looking rope bridge, that obviously made for smaller folk. Or normal, depending where you stand.
'All righty, time to float I guess.' Naja tought, while starting to activate the floating materia. And soon her body started to rise a little bit off the ground. Maybe a palm width or several. After that, she moved carefully towards the bridge... And just floated atop its ropes the whole trip, proceeding slither-float deeper into the forest surrounding the ruin.

'I wonder how long this floatiness last's?' marilith wondered, while trying to navigate the forest, using swords to clear some of the branches out of her way, still floating barely above ground vegetation, which included some nasty looking plants. Also luckily for her, the local wildlife seemed to know to steer clear from the giant snake-creature.
Then Najas ears reached a sound of someone, or rather someone's arguing about something in a very heated manner.

"We should go get help!"

"No! We can't leave them here!"

"Just take the Belle, You could carry her to town pretty well."

"But we can't leave you here either Zecora!"

Three of the voices sounded younger than the rhyming one. A short moment of slithering later, a peek through some branches revealed a group of three pony foals and an adult zebra on a forest opening.
The said zebra and a unicorn foal where laying there on the ground, with some nasty looking injuries on their back legs. And a fallen tree gave a good idea what was the cause, with both of them having a small sharp branch sticking out of their back-leg.

'Let's hope my necklace still works...' Naja prayed, before trying to speak aloud.

"Hello?... May I perhaps offer some help?" she called out, absolutely relieved of the fact that her 'translator-necklace' still worked.

"W-who's there?! C-can you really help us?! Whoever you are?" one of the foals, an orange pegasus stuttered out, while looking around.

"I can. But I only ask that you don't fear me too much. I'm a... Bit more different than your striped zebra friend.

"Ok! Just please help them!" called out another foal, an earth pony with a red bow on it's mane.

And with that out of the way, Naja began to move towards the more open area, finally coming out between some trees, now slithering normally with the floating-spell effect had run out.
Needless to say, the fillies and the zebra had amazed, and slightly intimidated expressions on their faces.

"How bad are the injuries?" she asked calmly, wile eyeing the stuck branches carefully.

"Well, miss Zecora said they might be smooth enough to be pulled out, but it would cause more serious bleeding. But they can't walk with sticks in their leg." filly with the red bow managed to say, sounding worried.

"Very well then... We just might have to do that, in order for my healing magic to take hold properly."

This comment made the injured ones to look a little bit worried, but they seemed to also accept her suggestion of using healing magic. And with an agreeing nod from both of them, Naja approached them a little bit, with one hand starting to glow with a green light.
"All right then little one, this will most likely hurt a bit." was mariliths honest comment to the unicorn filly, while taking a firm hold of the branch on her leg, with also another hand holding the injured area still just in case.

"On three... One... Two-" and marilith proceeded to pull the branch out with quick movement, while putting her glowing hand on the injury to heal it. And of course the unicorn filly screamed in pain from the sudden removal of the branch, like anyone else most likely would.
Thanks to the healing magic, the pain was luckily short lived, as the injured tissue was mended.

"There, try walking." Naja encouraged the filly, while turning to treat the zebra mare, taking similar hold on her as she did with the filly, who was getting back up with the help of the other two.
"On three, ok?... One-" and once again, a sudden movement of pulling the branch out was done, followed by the healing magic mending the wound. Zebra did almost scream, but still managed to keep a bit more quiet, without biting her tongue or cracking teeth as a bonus.

"Thank you, serpent of great size. I just hope we could offer you some kind of prize?" zebra mare gave a rhyming thanks, with a polite bow even. Even the fillies where visibly grateful.

"Well, now that you mention it, I could use some directions, or better yet, a map and a compass. I'm trying to get back home turf... If it is still there..."

"Oh! There are few maps at the Ponyville library! I'm sure we can get one of those!" suggested the unicorn filly, now standing without any problems.

"Great. Now then. What are your names? Mine is Naja. Some did use the title of 'Lady' with it too in the past, but just Naja is fine."

"Oh, this is miss Zecora, she lives here int he Everfree forest. I'm Sweetie Belle, and they are Apple Bloom and Scootaloo..." the unicorn filly introduced them all, leaving something hanging at the end...

"And together we are..." followed Apple Bloom and Scootaloo.


After the mild ringing in her ears stopped, Naja was honestly amazed of how much volume such small fillies could use with such ease.
"Ok then... Want to guide me to town, and maybe ease the worries of locals? I'm not that fond of being chased out of anywhere, just because I'm a big snake-creature."

"Ok! Can we ride on your back? Pleeeeeeease??" the one named Scootaloo asked, while starting to make some amazingly cute puppy-dog-eyes, with other two joining in on it.

"Sure. Just don't fiddle with my clothing, if you want to climb on my other back. I am one of those who need those for the common modesty."

And so, after bidding Zecora farewells and making sure she was also all right to make it back to her hut, marilith began to slither away with three excited fillies giving directions from her back.

Finally the forest ended, giving way to a pretty nice field of grass, with a homey looking town in sight.

"So... How is the view from up there?" was a calm question from Naja to Scootaloo, who had climbed on top of her head and was now scoping around from there.

"It... Is... Awesome!"

"Good to hear. Now where is this library you mentioned?"

"It's that house-tree. C'mon, let's go!" called out Apple Bloom, who then hopped off from mariliths serpentine-back, followed by taking an exited grip on one of her hands and trying to pull to make one follow. And Naja followed along, if only to satisfy fillys urge to guide her to the library. Even though it was slightly complicated to slither slow enough, with upper-torso bend-over enough to let filly walk on her own.

After finally getting to the actual town, the locals where visibly little intimidated, but even more confused, after seeing local trio of fillies bringing a giant snake-creature into town by one of them hoofholding it, while the other two where on its back and top of its head.
"It's all right! She's with us!" Sweetie Belle called out, managing to calm several ponies down, since no foal would bring a destructive monster right in the middle of town on purpose, right?

Soon enough all four of them arrived to some kind of literal house-tree, like in some fairy-tales in Najas old life. It also looked quite homey.
"So I guess I'll just wait here?" marilith asked politely, while letting two of the foals climb off from her back and head. After fillies had come off of her, she took more relaxed position, which allowed her to lean on her own tail comfortably, like on a big pillow.

"Sure, wait here we get you a map." Apple Bloom said happily, soon going through the door of the tree library with her friends, since it was a public-library.

And so started the waiting for the map. During this wait-time, a couple of ponies did finally get brave enough to approach the serpentine creature to see it better. A little bit at least.

Then a mint green unicorn, with an excited smile on her face, came half-running from somewhere, with another pony, an eath one with beige fur and pink-blue striped mane, following her. Both of them stopped rather close to marilith, the smiling unicorn especially.

"May I perhaps help you two with something?" Naja asked carefully, with an raised brow, while turning slightly to face these two properly.

"-------- Can I touch your hand?" was unicorns question, still smiling.

"Uuuh... Sure...?"

And with that Naja took a position that allowed her to bring two of her hands closer to unicorn, while the rest of her arms kept her position stable.
The unicorn began to go through mariliths offered hands, one finger at a time, looking very excited during it. Finally the green unicorn started to push her head against mariliths palm, like a cat asking to be petted. And Naja gladly complied, with light petting and few gentle scratches behind ears.
The reaction was almost instant, with unicorn smiling more, back leg tapping more than few times, and muttering happily something about softness and smoothness.

"Ok Lyra. I think that's enough..." the beige mare finally called out to unicorn, now named Lyra, sounding slightly worried.
"But Bon Bon! It felt soooooo goood. And she seems really nice... You are a female, right?" Lyra complained, followed by a careful question.

"Why yes, I am a female. Got all the necessary bits and everything... Saaay... You look somewhat familiar, Bon Bon was it?"

This made said mare to freeze a little, when marilith leaned in to have a closer look, clearly trying to remember something.
"Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but was one of your ancestors a bounty hunter once upon a time? Because you look like one such mare called Sweetie Hotbuns, who really liked to use grappling hooks as a weapon, employed by a minotaur named Greyhorn. OR it could just be my memory drawing random conclusions."

"How do you-... I mean... Yes, there might have been mare by that name in my family a long time ago..." Bon Bon stuttered, finally admitting to be related to mentioned bounty hunter pony. This made Lyra look bit amazed that her friend was related to such pony.
"That's... Awesome... And it gives me few ideas for later..." Lyra commented, with a certain type of smile too.

"Ok, not gonna ask about that-" Naja commented, but was interrupted by the feeling of another familiar presence very near, somewhere underground, near the tree. At this point the CMC came out from the library with a map, followed by a small dragon. The latter stopped at the doorway after seeing Naja, seemingly in a mild shock or surprise.

"We got the map here, and Spike helped too." Sweetie Belle called out, while holding the map up with her friends.

"That is great. Could you maybe help me again? I'm sensing something of mine arouuund... Here." Naja answered, while slithering little bit closer to the tree-library, finally tapping a spot on the ground.

"Like a lost treasure?"

"In a way, yes. I may not have anything to give, but I would really appreciate some help."

"It's okay. Cutie-Mark-Crusader-Treasure finders, yay!" the fillies called out, causing once again slight ringing in mariliths ears. They also suddenly got shovel with them now. Other ponies did not react that much to this. Maybe they where just used to the filly trios escapades by now.

What followed was CMC digging the tapped spot, dragon Spike also helping them for some reason, while Naja studied the map a bit. She wanted to help with the digging, but due to her size she would most likely just be in the way of the little ones.
The map was very informative, and helped her a lot in planning fastest route to south. The interesting part was the area south from Baltimare, past the Hayseed swamps. There was the name Tanah kahijian, with a little scribble of a pyramid next to it. Meaning that both the town and the temple where still there.
And to the east of them at the coastline, was another town or a city, called Southpost. And surrounding both towns was an obvious map-border, meaning that either of the towns, and land surrounding them, was not a part of Equestria. So that's a good bonus to know.

"Hey, miss Naja! We found something!" CMC called out from the dug out hole. And a small peek revealed that they had revealed a sword handle, big in pony standards, with a bit of blade showing; the lower lefty from what Naja could see.
"Good job you all. Now can you get out the way, please? Don't want any of you getting hurt."

The trio of fillies and one dragon climbed out the hole, and even cave some room to Naja to do whatever she was about to do. And what she did was simply hold out her lower-left hand to the sword in a gentle manner, which in turn began to shake, like trying get loose from something.
And soon the sword got loose, maybe some roots that had grown around it, flying to Najas waiting grasp.
"Welcome back darling..." she whispered while giving a small kiss on the flat of the blade.

Then a sound of something falling came from inside the tree-library, followed by a startled scream. Both could also be somewhat heard from the hole too...
"...Do you think that sword was maybe holding something in place in the basement?" Spike asked, sounding worried.
"Well... At least it did not sound to be anything load bearing... Maybe just a furniture attached to a root?" Naja followed.

Then she felt something impact her side, somewhere halfway down her tail. A quick glance revealed it to be a purple pony, seemingly stuck on her scaley muscles in a rather comedic way. Purple one most likely came out running, and was not seeing the big darker purple tail at the frontal area of the door.
"Ummm... Can some-one please peel the purple one off my scales? I don't want to risk hurting her?"

Very soon the purple pony was peeled off from serpents side, during which Naja noticed both wings and a horn on the visibly very dizzy purple pony.
'An alicorn? So there are other ones now too?' Naja thought for a moment, putting her newly-found sword away when this alicorn came to from dizziness.

"Twilight! You ok?"

"Yes Spike, just a little woozy. I just got spooked when the basement shelf just suddenly fell over and broke few vials. And no, nothing came out of them this time. Now what is going on...-" at this purple alicorn, now named Twilight, noticed Naja's tail and followed it to the front end. Naja simply gave a friendly wave with a smile.
"-... here?..."

"Ooh! Bouncy!"

The new voice, followed by feeling of being bounced on, caught the attention of marilith and many ponies around her . The source turned out to be the most pink pony Naja has ever seen... EVER... Bouncing on her tails back. The pink one noticed marilth looking at her, and then zipped closer in an blink of an eye, almost colliding with mariliths bust.


Naja managed to barely, just barely to catch what the pink one, apparently named Pinkie Pie, and decided to just give her an answer.
"Well hello Pinkie. My name is Naja, I do like parties, but only small ones with few creatures or ponies I know well enough, meaning longer than a week or so. And finally I like muffins, especially lemon filled ones."
And suddenly after saying that, a grey, blonde maned pegasus with sligthly derped eyes flew up to her, with a muffin at hoof, proceeding to slowly open up marilith's mouth, put the muffin in and then made her to chew it slowly. After finally swallowing the tasty treat, the grey pegasus proceeded to pet the serpent lady's head lovingly and then continued flying, humming happily. And no one questioned that for some reason.

"Ok, sooo... Your party for the later date?" Pinkie then asked hopefully, now holding a notepad with doodles of sweets and balloons on it.
"Uuhh... Sure. Small one, not overly big or too crowded if possible? And somewhere where I can fit."

"Ok! Let's put that on hold for now. Seeya!" was pink ones happy answer, followed by her zipping away somewhere.

"Is that normal to her?" Naja asked from Twilight.

"Yes. That's just Pinkie Pie being Pinkie Pie." she said simply. This was followed by turning to face Naja with curious expression.
"Now, Naja right? What exactly are you? Haven't see you in any of the books here..."

"Yes, that's my name. And to answer your question, I am a marilith. Basically a serpentine creature with a female humanoid torso with six arms and some affinity to magic, along with natural skill with swords. And also I'm from another world, thank's to the Ol'Squidface."

This was followed by a relatively long-ish silence. And then a stray hair popped from Twilight's mane for some reason.
"Oh, now you've done it..." Spike sighed out, like something bad was about to happen.

"Other world?! What's it like there?! What is your culture like?! Or your magic?!" the purple one began to shoot questions in rabid succession, with a certain unnerving gleam in her eyes. It was at this point, Naja decided that it was time to bail.

"Well, I would love to answer some of your questions, but I really need to go somewhere else. Sooo... Bye!"

After saying that, Naja called upon the materia woven in her clothing, first mentally casting the Float-spell, followed by Vanish, which together caused her body to start floating a feet or two above ground, and then starting to disappear from sight, looking like someone was pouring some manner of invisibility paint over her body.
"Oh, and Bon Bon. I hold no grudge for you or your ancestral-mother." disappearing mariltih quipped to the said mare, who visibly relaxed after hearing that.

Now completely invisible, Naja float-slithered out of town, heading south, while managing to not bump into anything or anyone.

Meanwhile at the front of the library, everypony and one dragon, where both amazed and confused from Naja's disappearing move. Especially Twilight, who began to have a twitchy eye.

"Whuh?? How??? Where???? Why?????... I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS!!!!!!!!"

Somewhere in north-east of Rambling rock ridge...

It had been around an hour, or maybe two, since Najas spells had worn out and she was now following the map, while munching on some wild fruit in some large thicket.
"Ok... So now just keep heading eastwards, across a river and follow it... Or find the river and just follow it south. But in both cases I seem to get close to some pony towns... And you never know how they might react..." she muttered quietly while brainstorming over the map routes, that would keep her most safe from view.

Then a loud sounds of a speeding carriage could be heard. And a glance at the nearby dirt-road revealed a well equipped, somewhat high-quality looking covered carriage being chased by some very obvious bandits, a group of about half a dozen of ratty looking pegasi and unicorns.
And then the carriage lost a wheel, coming to screeching halt, with the bandits now surrounding it. Now this would not fly with Naja.

And so she just bursted out from the thicket, with purposefully animalistic roar, with her three found swords out and other hands holding flames at the ready.
Luckily for everyone, this intimidation move worked very well, causing bandits to run or fly away with their tails between their legs. The ponies pulling the carriage just looked scared.

"It's all right, i'm not going to hurt you. Just wanted to help." Naja said, while putting out her swords and flames.

"What's happening out there?" came a voice inside the wagon, followed by a door opening.

"Well sir, the bandits chasing us caught up with us due to wheel breaking. And then they fled when ... She appeared and drove them off."

Next the occupant of the carriage stepped out. And he unsurprisingly was amazed at the sight of the serpentine creature just 'standing' there. What did surprise Naja, was that there was no fear in this white unicorn stallions eyes.

"Well hello, and thank you for aiding us. Bandits aren't usually this much trouble, but they do sometimes surprise traveller's." unicorn thanked Naja, while the carriage pullers unhooked themselves from the carriage, gave a thankful nod to Naja and began to fix the broken wheel, in a very professional manner.

"It's all right. I am called Naja by the way." mariltih answered politely, while offering one hand to unicorn to shake. And he did with a pleasant thankful smile too.

"I'm Blueblood. But please, just call me Bluey."

Chapter 10 Remembrance, road trip and vacation plans

View Online

Chapter 10 Remembrance, road trip and vacation plans.

Canterlot, Canterlot castle, Royal palace...

The Royal palace of Canterlot castle was an amazing sight to look at. Even some of the locals never grew any less amazed when looking at it, while to few it eventually became a normal sight. These few included Celestia, the Princess of the sun.

Said princess was now heading to the different part of the castle, after finishing up the early day-court, which had concluded plenty of the whining sect of nobles, trying to worm themselves more power or money. Someponies just never learn to be better, despite her best efforts.
One of the biggest inner problem in her reign recently had been trying to make the bishops of the, now once again re-named, Church of the Two Sisters to change plenty more of their tenets into more tolerable direction. She even had to twist plenty of hooves to even get the name back from the Celestial Cathedral, which had been the name of the church since the Nightmare Moon incident. The name change back then had hurt her emotionally, but was necessary to keep the peace at the time.

It had been made somewhat harder keep the peace when an another church had emerged, using the name Chapel of Faust, led by the son of the dead Archbishop Zealous Soul, Zealous Spirit, who managed to carve out his own sect of very humble followers from many races, which in turn caused them to be more anonymous in their memberships to avoid the major ire of the Cathedral higher-ups and their followers. Sadly that faith discriminatory was still a slight problem among some of the populace even to this day.

And then there was the singular harassing monster appearing randomly, during her lone reign. Seemingly out of nowhere, a gargantuan serpent-creature had appeared and started attacking several of the churches, starting some time before the Nightmare incident and it kept happening often enough to not be just a coincidence.
Said monster according to many of the old reports said that 'it has a snake-like face, with bright red eyes, numerous fangs, and many hook-like spikes along its body which start out clustered around its head and neck, and becoming more spread out along its long body, with a small cluster near the tip of its tail, which is topped with a pair of red barbs'.
Celestia had not seen it in pony, due to it always leaving before she arrived to the location, to only find a completely destroyed church building and plenty of shocked ponies, telling tales of the monsters sudden appearance, it's flaming breath, using the coils of it's body to crush the buildings, like a helpless prey and then of it just leaving almost without a trace.

Several more attacks later, some ponies began to look into the attack patterns more, eventually finding out the more hideous secrets of the attacked churches. Turned out that all the attacked churches where all practicing extremely horrific xenophobic deeds, that still haunt her memories, both the deeds and the political sh*t-storm that followed. Even today she kept a secret inquisition to keep an eye on the churches.
After the first big raids, the attack's of the giant snake-monster seemed to grow further apart. Last attack being almost three decades ago, and last sighting in Equestria around decade ago, seemingly keeping its own watch.

Some time after the first reports of the snake monster had reminded Celestia about what certain another serpent had said, mentioning the Snake King Dalamadur, leading her to presume that this beast was the said King.
These thought led her memories to the serpent, who had seemingly called upon this beast to punish the ponies, who had strayed to the very, VERY wrong path.
This serpent maiden had haunted her thoughts every now and then. Naja was the maidens name, if she remembered right, carrying titles she had heard, such as The Serpent of the South, Queen of the Forbidden Jungle, Mistress of Materia, Slayer of Solaris, among few others. She could only guess which ones where true, who came up with them, what some of them meant, while knowing origin of at least one of said titles, which tended to remind her of certain traumatic event from her foalhood...

Long had the said event haunted her, to the eventual banishment of the serpent, and the hard times that followed. The village had driven away any and all Equestrian settlers and visitors, who where either trying to secretly or publicly to get them to join Equestria, which in turn ate up some resources, giving start to the big arguments with her sister over the said issue, leading to even more arguments on other issues, driving them apart... And the lonely years that soon followed...
If Celestia was honest to herself, she had tried planning on how to apologize to the serpent, if it ever returned, hopefully peacefully. After thinking over several thing's during her sole-ruling years, she had come to understand that her late father would have most likely driven Equestria in to a bloody wars, rather than make peace with other nations. She still shuddered when she mentally tried to imagine what could have been, if Solaris had stayed in power...
These days the town of Tanah kahijian, and it's sister town of Southpost where mostly left alone by most of the Equestrian officials. And the towns had mostly kept to themselves.

Finally Celestia arrived to her destination in front of the royal vault, holding great amount of nations wealth and several relics within, held behind nigh impenetrable armored, airtight door, walls, floor and ceiling with no windows or air-ducts, alongside a metric-crap-ton of wards. But instead of that, she headed towards the cleaning closet on the side of it.
And there was nothing special in it, just your usual mop, bucket and other cleaning implements and some extra aprons hanging on the wall hooks there.
After confirming that she was alone, Celestia then proceeded to turn the wall hooks in a certain order. Having now done the combination, the inside of the closet began to move aside, revealing a set of stairs going down.

Finally reaching the bottom of the stairs, now before another armored door, this one with special lock with sun and moon theme on it. And with a little spell the door opened, revealing a room full of various relic's. Among them was a rather large sword held aloft in couple of display stands.
It was one of the six blades the serpent, a marilith if she remembered correctly, had held as it's source of power. This specific one had even summoned a gargantuan machine of immeasurable magical power. Her visual memories of it where a little hazy, but she still get's chills when remembering the humongous magical pressure emitted by it's mere presence.

So many years had been spent on trying to maybe wield or harness such power for good of everypony, only for all attempts, which included even an attempt to just melt it, to fail. Even moving the blade without some manner of transportation was not possible. Now it was basically a memento to princess. Maybe waiting for it's original wielder to return perhaps?
Such a returning would hopefully happen only after the sword was made harmless, just in case. The rest where hidden, some even from Celestia as an extra measure, after multiple attempt's to find out their power.

"Remembering those days again, sister?" came a familiar voice behind her, a short glance revealing the arrival of the Night Princess to the relic-room.

"Yes Luna... And some thought's what might have been if some thing's happened differently..."

"Like our father still being alive? You where having a short nightmare about it the other night, before returning to those 'Cakeland' dreams through a mild dreamless phase."

"...Yes. But I still wonder, will she return peacefully or with vengeance one day?"

Luna did not have an answer. Both sisters stood there quietly for a moment, reminiscing those few moment's they had seen the serpent maiden.

"So, what bring's you here sister?" Celestia finally asked, breaking the silence.

"Well, I was just going to visit our old castle, for nostalgia's sake. Then there was this big explosion of fire from the inside, blowing me a distance away by the shock wave it caused. When I finally got there, there was loads of ashy scorched surfaces all around the interior. Especially on one of the doors i the entry hall. I think it was that one door you avoided using."

"That's because that specific doorway had it out for me. I kept bumping into it's sides, no matter how carefully I tried moving through it... Anyway, please continue."

"Yes, as I was saying, there was ton of ashy scorch marks around there, and the door looked like it was blasted from the outside. My guess would be somepony trying to get something big out, since there was a rather large drag mark on the floor."

This made Celestia worry. While the Castle of Two Sisters has been abandoned since Nightmare Moon incident, there was still few relic's forgotten in there. Most of them useless, but still little troublesome.
"Did you see if anything was taken from there?"

"Well... The only thing I noticed missing... Where the two specific large swords, you put on that large shield."
Even though Celestia was already white, she went even whiter after hearing this tidbit of info.
"You mean that two swords of great power, are now at the hooves of somepony of great magical prowess?"

"It's possible. But there is something else too. After returning to Canterlot, I went to check the sword you gave me for safekeeping..." After saying this, Luna summoned the said sword, holding it in her magic.

"Oh good, at least two of the swords are-... Waaaait a minute... How are you wielding it???" Celestia questioned, sounding quite confused.

"Simple. It's a fake." was Luna's answer, while she proceeded to snap the fake sword, revealing it's wooden inside.
"Obviously someone has stolen it, and left behind a very well made lookalike."

"We better look into this. And maybe move this one somewhere else, just in case-" Celestia began with her 'planning'-tone, when Luna proceeded to lift up the remaining sword effortlessly, followed by snapping it in half quite nonchalantly.
"Look's like we might have a hole in security? Or maybe somepony just walked in when all the wards where down?" Luna questioned quite calmly.

"But they never are down. The only time they could have gone down would be... That time when Discord got free and momentarily played around with his magic." Celestia concluded, while realizing that when the now reformed draconequus had turned Equestria on it's head for a short while.

"Sooo... Now that four swords have gone somewhere else, where are the other two? I was little bit out of the loop at that issue." Luna asked, while twirling the fake sword pieces in her magic.

"I gave them to couple of my trusted soldiers back in those days, who then proceeded to bury them. One is somewhere here in Equestria, while the other is out of country. To be on the safe side, they erased the locations off from their memories. So even I don't know where the swords lay now."

"So after nearly a thousand years, they might be somewhere under someones garden, if we're lucky? Or under a tree? A field? Maybe a sandbox?" younger sister questioned, getting a nod for each suggestion. A lot of things could and would happen during a thousand years period.

"In any case, maybe we should keep this quiet for now. At worst, it might-" Luna interrupted Celestia with a very noticeable eyebrow rise. "-WILL most likely causes panic among ponies that someone has stolen powerful relic's. It might even cause a mild, to serious, disturbance with our relations with our southern neighbours."

"You mean the ones that are still rather fragile, due to our shared past deeds done there?"

"Yes, those ones." Celestia admitted, sounding a little ashamed of something.

"And the more problematic nobles? You know well enough that there are more nosy and gossipy ones might fish this out somehow."

"No need to worry. My sources say that Blueblood is not in Canterlot right now."

"Really?? Where he is then?" Luna asked.

"He went on a-"

On the road to south...

"Secret vacation?" Naja said, sounding a little amused.

"Yep, that is my usual cover-story whenever I leave Canterlot. And the best part is, that it is technically true; I'm leaving to have a little me-time with some actual friends." Bluey confirmed, while enjoying some waffles. Even the carriage pullers had gotten some, but declined any extra. Can't keep pulling the carriage effectively if you have too full stomach. Naja had also eaten few waffles, mostly for the taste.

"I guess there aren't that many ponies in the capital that would like your actual friendly company, if it wasn't for the money and connections as a prince?" mariltih asked, while slithering next to the carriage. They had travelled on the clearly less used side-road for a while, until they where across the southern border of Equestria.
Some patrols where dealt with a simple paper check and the vanish-spell.

"Yep. Excluding few cases of actually good nobles, which are very rare these days, my only real friends live in Southpost and it's parent town. Just wishing I could spend more time there..." Prince commented, sounding like he indeed wanted something different.
"Sooo...? You got a lady friend there?" Naja asked.

"U-um... Weell... Maybe..." Bluey stuttered, while blushing. This reaction even got a few snickers from the carriage pullers, like if they knew something little extra. And this caught mariliths attention, bringing a devious smile to her face.

"Oooh. So you got one then?" Naja concluded, still smiling.

An awkward silence followed, until Blueblood finally said "...Yes." in a non-convincing tone.

This only made Naja raise her brow, accompanied by a slight head tilt, like she was sensing that he was not telling everything. She even had a certain "look" on her eyes, the kind that just said "c'mon, just tell the whole truth..." in almost maternal way.

"Ok, two..." he admitted, only to receive more of the "look".


"Fiine, I have three lady friend's there. We all hang out together and relax whenever I visit my beach house there..."


"...Well allright. We are all lovingly together..."


"*sigh**groan*... We all buck A LOT, whenever we find time, place and endurance for it. But we still actually love each other very much."

"There. Now was that so hard to say?" Naja asked, with a sweet tone.

"YES. And you actually just managed to make me tell something, even my aunt has not succeeded in digging up." Bluey admitted, still slightly blushing.

"How is Sunbuttt doing by the way?"

"Quite well healthwise, and her faithful student even ascended recently and her friends helped to solve an invasion of plunder vines. If only same could be said workwise... Last time I checked, some of the more troublesome nobles had been pestering her at court."

"That sounds believable." Naja simply concluded, sounding like she did not have anything special to say about the Sun Princess at the time. And luckily Blueblood didn't press the issue.

"Yo, Bluey! Were about to arrive to the Southpost!" one of the carriage puller called out, making both the unicorn and the marilith to look ahead. And there was a visible large town, with pretty nice looking harbor and a beach.
Clearly the place was great for both commerce and tourism, and it could be seen from afar.

"So, should I vanish again, just in case?" Naja carefully asked.

"I don't think it's necessary. The locals are really tolerant and welcoming to many races. Heck, they even have occasional sea-serpent visitors here. So you probably won't stand out too much." was Bluebloods answer, with the carriage pullers nodding to it.

"Alright then. I trust you in this. But if something bad comes from this, I just might burn your eyebrows." Naja said, while a small flame appeared on her middle-lefty, and with a smile on her face.
"Very well, if it makes you calmer..." Bluey commented, with slight sweat drop.

And so, they started to head towards the town of Southpost, waiting what might happen. Which included not expecting someponies to be coming same way as them... From Equestrias side of the border...





At the Golden Oaks-library...

"Twilight, if you keep pacing like that, you'll wear a hole in the floor."

"But I have to find even a little bit of answers Spike!" purple alicorn half-screamed, looking a little bit frazzled, with several hairs popped out, while pacing between piles of books.

Little dragon was not only one who was worried about Twilight's situation. Rest of her friends where also in the library.
"Has she been walking around all night??" blue, rainbow maned pegasus asked.

"Apparently. Can't be good for her complexion." marshmallow-white unicorn, with a well made purple mane, commented.

"Is it because of that snakey-lady Apple Bloom told about?" asked an orange earth pony, wearing a stetson on her head.

"Um, i think so?" muttered pink maned yellow pegasus, with a barely audible voice.

"Did you check that old looking little book in the back Twi?" pink pony called out, pointing at the said book, that looked like a well preserved journal of sorts.

Twilight went almost instantly to check it, flipping through page after page, suddenly stopping at one page. And there was a quite well made sketch of the marilith who had disappeared earlier, leaving Twilight without any answers.
"This sure looks like her. Let's see... Intelligent... Omnivore... Possesses magic... Observed by Starswirl!!? On the Solarian Era?!" she muttered and finally yelled out, sounding astonished.

"Wait. Do ya mean that this 'Naja' lady is THAT old??" Applejack asked, receiving few looks. "What? Just because I live in a farm, does not mean I don't read history."

"Not sure AJ. She didn't tell all that much to Crusaders or Zecora. She might just be a descendant of this sketched one. And there have been some records of rare magical beings of great power, that only reproduce once before dying. And those beings usually have only a hoof-full of members in species as a whole. Keeps the population controlled and discourages overtly violent behaviour." Twilight said, going momentarily in her 'lecture-mode'. Then her legs suddenly gave, making her fall down. All night pacing must have caught up with them.

"Alright Twilight. You really need some time to relax a bit." Rarity piped up, while helping her back up with Fluttershy. "And I just happen to have a perfect idea for it."

"What is it?" Rainbow asked, seemingly curious. This made Rarity pull out several tickets, one for all seven of them. Yes, even one for Spike.

"Special ticket-passes to a well liked beach-resort and it's sister-town!"

"Oh? Where is this resort?" Twilight asked, also curious.

"Why it's in the independent towns of Southpost and Tanah kahijian."

Chapter 11 Serpent and the city.

View Online

Chapter 11 Serpent and the city.

"Welcome back to Southpost Bluey! Great to see ya visiting again."

"It's great to be here again George. And this time I even got more company, aside from my good drivers." Blueblood said to the griffon at the town checkpoint in a very glad tone.

"Oh? And who might... That... Be?" the griffon, George, was asking, only to lightly go silent when saw who Blueblood was talking about. A rather large serpentine creature with a multi-armed humanoid body where the snake head would normally be.
"Hello. How's your day going?" Naja greeted in a polite manner, even giving a little wave of hand.

"...Bless my soul... The Lady has returned..." George managed to utter out, before almost fainting. Luckily for him, Bluey caught him with basic telekinesis, helping him back up.

"So... I guess that I was not forgotten during the around thousand years?" Naja carefully asked.

"Oh no. You truly lived on in all the tales and stories among our families, and many, many others wished that they could have seen you in person during those years." George answered, while starting to actually tear up a little. "And luckily, no one has never tried to start any cult-like things or groups about you. The Materia keepers made sure of that, while also managing to hold onto your teachings of materia and their respectful handling."

"That's good to know. I really never want to be worshipped in that manner." Naja nodded, while noticing few other creatures near the checkpoint having either curious or almost-fainting reactions when seeing her. Clearly they had also heard tales about her at some point.
"So is there anything I should maybe worry about around here? Bluey already told me about occasional sea-serpent visitors, but it would be good to know what has changed here, besides the obvious."

"Not to my knowledge. The most recent worry was the deportation of few Equestrian spy operatives, working for some noble who did not get the memo of stopping those operations. That was around five or so decades ago."

"It's true. There even was quite a scandalous set of trial's about it in Canterlot too. My grandfather was present during those." Blueblood quipped in, adding his two bits about the issue.

"All right, have to ask more about that thing later. Now if it's not too much trouble, I could use a little tour around here, before heading to the Tanah kahijian, due to my absence, thanks to few obvious reasons..." Naja concluded, following with a rather simple request.

"We can help!" came an excited answer, turning few heads to it's direction. There stood a trio of ladies; a brown-white spotted minotaur cow whose top looked like it could burst if she breathed too deeply, a bluish-grey diamond dog maiden resembling a collie with plenty of fluff on her collar area and a bright red griffin gal with some natural curvature with some chest fluff. All three of them looking rather attractive, and looking at both Naja and Blueblood.
"Hi Bluey dear!" they all greeted happily, waving at Blueblood, who was also smiling.

"And hello to you too, Lacte, Fofa and Scarlet. I missed you all so much." he answered, while walking up to them. And soon all of them exchanged a few kisses, clearly holding back a little. At least to Najas eyes.
"Sooo Bluey dear? Are you trying to add the Queen of the Forbidden Jungle to our little harem?" Scarlet asked, while looking Naja up and down with both amazement and slight drop of interest.

"Sorry but I'm not. I'd like to have my pelvis to remain in one piece, and not to have it break under some extra-heavyweight lady's bottom. No offence..." Bluey answered, followed by a quick apology directed to Naja.
"None taken. I'm fully comfortable with my weight-category, thanks to my tail. I think that good chunk of it might be mostly muscle, but still on the heavy side." was her answer, followed by a quick glance at her tail.

"Well it sure look's nice and shiny. Did ya shed recently?" Lacte pointed out, while looking at the marilith's tail appraisingly.
"Well, I think some old skin most likely burned off from it. Had a major problem with a doorway a little while ago."

After a few more simple questions about Naja's looks, mostly about her clothes, the trio of ladies, and Blueblood too, began to show Naja around the harbor town. There was plenty of stores, storage's, all kinds of ships docked at the harbor, several hotels and inn's of varying price ranges; nothing overtly fancy though, where you would have to pay an arm and a leg for one night... Just a comfortable places to stay a day or two, along with basic houses.
The final destination on the tour was the beach house section of the town, some of them fancier looking than others.

"And this is our house. Not much to look at, but it's really homey." Bluey concluded, while pointing at the said beach house with his hoof. Said house was a humble looking pink walled, red roofed, two-storeys high, most likely having all of the essentials for all four creatures.
It even had a text on it front, saying "KAME HOUSE", which tickled some little shred of a memory within Naja. Most likely something from her old life, that just happened to be similar with something in a different world.

"Looks very nice. I hope you keep it clean too." Naja said with a smile.

"Oh we sure do. And as a bonus, the walls are soundproofed too, so our little fun-times won't disrupt the neighbours." Lacte commented proudly. This made Naja to glance around a little bit. Other beach houses where at a little more than a basic respectful distance away from this one...

"Well thank you for the tour, and for keeping me company. I hope we can chat again." Naja called to the four, while starting to leave. They happily waved back, before heading inside the house. Marilith could only imagine what they might be doing... And soon decided to just start to head towards the Tanah kahijian, if only for the sake of her mental fortitude...

"Excuse me? Are you by any chance the one called Naja?" came a question behind her. After turning a little, she saw a hippogriff maiden standing there; she had almost a snow-white plumage in her front half and light gray fur on her back half, wearing a bright red sash, with an ornamental pin, holding a four materia crystals in it. She also had a few more in her wristbands.

"Yes. Yes I am. And you are?"

"My name is Hera, the current Head Sage of The Materia keepers, and of the line of Hermes. heard that you had returned, so I came to meet you. And maybe keep ya company on the way there."

"... All right, let's head home."

While Naja went with Hera down the road towards the Tanah kahijian, a special carriage was arriving to the front of one the hotels. Said carriage was one the few that where allowed to travel between the Southpost and Equestria, mostly bringing tourist's with it every now and then.
Today several ponies, few griffons and a minotaur got off from it. Including six special ponies and their dragon friend.

"Here we are everyone. The town of Southpost." Rarity said with a little flourish.

"Wait... Why did you say 'everyone'?" Rainbow asked with a slight head tilt. Even AJ and Twilight seemed a tiny bit confused by this too.

"Oh, it said in the brochure that the locals have an historical issue with the said term. This place used to be a hotspot for several event's that have soured most of their relations towards Equestria. And some of those metaphorical wounds are rather fresh in few ways, even to this day..."

"Well... The post-Solarian era apparently was preeeetty messed up compared to today..." Applejack admitted, having read about it.

"I guess it makes sense. This place seems pretty multi-species place." Twilight also admitted, looking slightly sheepy.

"Nice wing's girl." came a random friendly comment to the purple princess from a kirin lady passing by them, who barely spared a glance at them. It felt like nice change of pace for all seven of them. And her species also drew the interest of Spike for some reason.
"Well, let's get settled to our room, and then go see the sight's." Pinkie suggested, and started to go in the hotel in her bouncy way, with others following after her. Maybe their visit here just might go very well.

Chapter 12 Meeting new, old and very, very old faces.

View Online

Chapter 12 Meeting new, old and very, very old faces.

Nearing Tana kahijian...

"This road sure is of better quality than it did thousand years ago."

"Thank you. The town started to build it up into a better quality, after we started to expand to the shoreline to improve our commerce capacity. And it did cause some mild gripe with some equestrians according to our archived records. Some nobility snobs apparently wanted to build a summer home, in the tax-free way, because the beach is not technically part of Equestria. Apparently the Sun Monarch put an end to those attempts from the nobility. Eventually." Hera answered to Najas simple comment, followed by some extra info, while walking next to calmly slithering marilith.

"I see... Has there been anything special happening around these parts that are not about equestrians?"

"Well, it's best that you see and hear some of it by yourself at the town. Although I can tell that the local beasties have been kept in check by our behemoth friends, except one that seems to only, in lack of a better word, visiting your home."

"What kind of beastie it is?" Naja asked curiously.

"Basically, an ginourmous serpentine creature that, according to the reports and news, destroyed several churches during the last millennia. Aside from it's great size, it also has fiery breath like a dragon. some have started to call it the Snake King-"

"Dalamadur..." marilith concluded, clearly catching on. "I remember swearing a curse of sorts in it's name at the moment of my imprisonment. Did not expect it would actually call upon it to arrive."

"...Maybe it has something to do with your innate magic abilities, that a just requires some very specific mental state? I mean you can indirectly create shards of condensed wild magic through dedicated calm meditation." hippogriff maiden suggested.

"Indeed I can. Some types just condense better than others. Which reminds me, are the Red ones still safe?"

"Yes. We have kept them well hidden. Especially the one you used once... Ah, here we are."

Naja looked up a bit, noticing familiar looking gates of Tanah kahijian, obviously upgraded with better quality wood and metal, while still keeping the strong oriental look.
"Open the gate! We have a Original resident returning!" Hera called out, causing loud fumbling at the gates watchtowers and behind the gate itself, which soon opened up. And sure enough there was plenty of different creatures waiting, most of them looking amazed, some even starting to tear up with joy, at the sight of Naja.
Many of the buildings had more modernish look, but still held their pagoda style, showing that locals still liked the said style.

"Um... Hello..." was all Naja could sputter at such a warm looking welcome, even managing a wave. This was followed by several excitable little ones rushing her, very soon attaching themselves on the front-part of her tail, few even catching on her lower clothing.
It was a rather cute and a heart warming scene, bringing a smile to many faces, including Naja's. Few even gave a short amused laugh at the youngling's behaviour.

"Welcome home, Lady Naja..." Hera said, also tearing up a bit to the scene.

"It's good to be home..."

Southpost beachline...

"This place is so beautiful..." Twilight commented, while looking at the sea.

"I know right? " Rarity said happily, wearing one of her flashy sunhats, with plenty of gems on it. The two of them had decided to hit the beach after setting their luggage in the hotel room; fashionistas taking most space, even if it was just three sets of four bags... Others of their group went elsewhere to see the sights.
Of course there was other creatures on the beach too, doing their own thing's like swimming or sunbathing. Some others where just passing by, heading in or out of their beach houses, which where little on the side.
"So Twilight what would you like to do first? Enjoy the view? Try some beach-games? Take in the rays?"

"Well, I could-..."

"Whoah, easy with the bling girl, you might blind someone with that hat." came a voice neat behind them, interrupting Twilights answer and making both of them turn to the direction of the voice. There stood a minotaur cow, with a brown-white spotted, fur wearing a tight shirt and pants, carrying a few paper bag's.
"Sorry, that is sorta her unique way in fashion." purple princess apologized.

"Yeah? Well I'd personally say shes asking to be mugged with that much bling on her in some bad neighborhood, or something like that." minotaur said with a tone that seemed to scream brutal honesty.

"W-well I never..." fashionista unicorn visibly stuttered a bit at this comment, which indeed had a teensy little bit of truth in it. If she was going to say anymore, it was interrupted by the arrival of few more locals, bringing a familiar voice with them.

"Lacte, darling! There you are. We all decided to come check if you needed any... Help?" They heard, while turning at the direction of the voice. And there stood a diamond dog, a griffin... And a familiar white unicorn stallion with blonde mane, sight of whom made Raritys blood almost visibly boil.
"Ooh dear..."


"Now, before we do anything hasty..." Blueblood tried to say, before screaming Rarity made a mad dash towards him, with a burning fury in her eyes. Only to be stopped by a swift hand of a minotaur grabbing her tail, leaving her hind hooves kicking up a LOT of sand... Right at Twilights face.

Tanah kahijian main street...

It had taken several minutes to get all of the little ones peeled off from the mariliths front, which was followed by numerous friendly and humble greeting with obvious long held longing in many of the tones of the colorful set of locals, many of which Naja could in several cases even see and guess correctly their lineage.
"It really brings me joy to be so welcomed, despite being away for about thousand years, if I have heard correctly." she managed to say, while carefully slithering on the street and having a few passengers on her tail, mostly little ones again.

"We even have kept your original dwelling in a good condition, just in case you would return." someone mentioned from the crowd, which brought another smile on mariliths face.
"Good to know. At least I don't have to find a new one for someone of my size." Naja said happily, getting few giggles from the young ones. Maybe it was the size comment.

"Lady Naja... If it is all right this early at your return, there is one thing you maybe should visit..." Hera mentioned with a bit somber tone, pointing at a certain direction. This got plenty of others fall silent too.
"Very well, show me this thing please..." marilith answered carefully, soon following after the hippogriff to the other area of the town.

And going through few strips of streets, which somehow grew little by little shadier in lighting but not shabbier, she could see what they where heading towards; a slightly raised part of a large grassy intersection, holding a quite large black marble obelisk, with a lot of names on it... It just screamed memorial...
"It holds all the names of the original settlers of Tana kahijian." Hera said, answering to the unspoken question, herself looking a bit sad. Naja already had few tears running down her cheeks. She recognized all of the names written on the black stone. With some golden-like filling to make them more visible.

"... May I have a moment alone? I... I think I need maybe an hour to come in terms with the fact that many of my friends are gone... It may have been a thousand years for you, but to me, despite being asleep... It's feels like it has been few days." marilith requested, her tears now falling to the grassy ground, while approaching the memorial slowly.
"Of course, take all the time you need." was Heras answer, with a respectful bow. "And if it helps you in some way, they all went beyond the veil due to natural causes..."

"...I think it just might, if only a little..." Naja said, not even looking at the respectfully leaving hippogriff. Instead she gently put one of her hands to the cool, smooth surface of the obelisk, soon followed by her forehead.
Even being that close with moist eyes, she could make out many of the names written on the memorial. All of them familiar.
Now, Naja allowed herself to mourn all of her old friends of the past...

Near the Behemoth burrows...

Fluttershy kept walking down the dirt road, curious of what kind of a cute critters these behemoth's were. All she heard in the town was that their burrow was nearby, and after getting some directions, she started to head there. She was imagining something smallish and cute, mostly because of her experience with bunnies in their burrows.
She was also told to approach carefully, which she knew well enough. Many animals did not take well to new faces on the first meeting, so you would have to be patient.

A little while of walking later she passed a very visible sign, saying "Behemoth burrows ahead, approach carefully." with a pair of horns attached to it as an ornament.
Then something moved in the nearby bushes, slightly spooking the pink maned pegasus... And from the set of bushes, stepped out a little purple piglet looking creature, with a big pointy mane and teeny tiny horns, sniffing air and ground curiously. To Fluttershy, it looked absolutely adorable.

"Aaaww, who might you be, little one?" Flutteshy asked sweetly, while carefully bowing low, to get on the eye level of this creature. It sniffed a bit on her direction and hopped away adorably, taking a cute defiant pose. Even scraping the ground with it's little leg.
"Oh, don't be afraid. I'm not trying to hurt you..." she tried to calm the little one, lightly moving her hoof towards it.

That little move seemed to cause something BIG coming rushing towards them from the surrounding woods. And suddenly, behind the same set of bushes, pounced out a HUGE hulking, purple, canine-esque creature with two bull-like horns and flowing mane, stopping right above the little piglet creature, roaring rather loudly at Fluttershy, who now was covering in fear, looking even smaller than she already was compared to this huge and obviously angry creature.

Luckily, before anything more bad things could happen, another "roar" interrupted creatures angry roaring. The source turned out to be a dark yellow pegasus mare, with a short messy red mane. She proceeded to communicate with the big creature through different kinds of guttural growls and snarls.
After that was done, the big beastie picked up the little piglet creature by its mane, and proceeded to put it on its back, where the little one dug in its larger mane, and started to leave.

"You must be a brand new visitor, if you don't know that approaching a baby behemoth is a bad idea. Especially when it belongs to a newly minted momma-behemoth. They are rather aggressively protective of their young, as you saw." mare explained to Fluttershy, who was starting to calm down.
"Um... Yes, me and my friends just arrived and decided to see the sight's. I only thought that these behemoths where smaller in size, due to bunnies also living in burrows..." shy pegasus managed to say.

"I guess that makes sense in a certain way. Only I think if those species two met, a behemoth would not even bother with such a bite-size snack, unless extremely starved. Oh, by the way, name's Steady Breeze, line of the Timid Flicker." pegasus introduced herself.
"I-I'm Fluttershy..." Flutters answered in her usual quiet tone, while the other name knocked something in her memory-lockers. Something she may have seen in her family tree once...

"So, would you like to meet some of the behemoths in a controlled situation? They can be reeal cuddlers when you let them get your scent first in a calm manner."


And with that the two of them headed to the burrow area properly. There Fluttershy would get sniffed by many of the behemoths. With plenty of licks, leaving her mane standing for a while...

Streets of Southpost...

'This place sure looks cool' Rainbow thought, while flying on the street, looking around at all of the buildings and the different creatures moving around the street. Finally one of the buildings, which looked like a clinic of sorts, caught her eye.
'Well, I could use a little check-up' she thought while approaching it. Her first surprise came out of the clinics door; clearly a young creature, that looked mostly like a pony, but had a pair of still growing bull-like horns on the sides of his head, and had cloven hoofs. Said creature was putting up a little sign saying "First time check-up for free today".

"Hey. Is that sign legit?" Rainbow asked from the young one.

"Yes, it is. My aunt is already inside if you wanna get a check-up." little one answered happily, soon leading Rainbow inside the clinic.
The waiting room was a very comfortable looking one, having a couple of the typical healthcare posters, and behind the counter was a nice looking painting of an minotaur cow and a unicorn. They looked very happy in the painting.

"That's a painting of our clinics founders; Brass Horn and Wild Tail. My ancestors." came a voice from the side room, making colorful pegasus to turn her head. There stood a minotaur lady of rather curvaceous, yet well muscled, build. What stood out, was a small third horn on her forehead, wearing silver-rings in all of her horns, and also having hooves.

"I see that you have question about my horns, right?" the minotaur asked politely.

"Uuuh, w-well... Yeah." Rainbow admitted sheepishly. This only caused a slight giggle from the tri-horned lady.

"Not a problem, our kind get's that from the tourist's quite often. But to answer an obvious question, we are called Lamassu. A hybrid of a minotaur and a pony."

"Huh, nice name. But how are you... Uuhh... Possible? No offence."

"None taken. And as for the possibility part on my case; When a mommy minotaur and a daddy pony love each other very, very much, while being very dedicated on having a child, they hug each other passionately a LOT. Quite simple, really." minotaur explained, while censoring it a bit, because the young one was still present.
"Oh, my name is Silver Horn by the way, line of Brass Horn and Wild Tail. And this is my nephew, Running Hoof" lay introduced herself, while lightly nodding at the direction of the painting, while introducing the youngster, who waved happily.
"Names Rainbow Dash. One the top flyers in the Wonderbolts." pegasus introduced herself, receiving a polite nod in return.

"Now, how about we proceed with the check-up?"

"Oh, yeah sure. Nothing invasive right?"

"Nothing to worry. Those services are not on the free-check-up list. I don't want another confusion from an ordinary prostate-examination." Silver confirmed, while giving Rainbow a little list as the two of them proceeded to the clinic room proper.
"Hmmm... I know many of these things, but what is this... 'Lump check'?" colorful pegasus asked.

"Oh that is one the procedures Brass Horn herself created and named. And it actually has saved more than few lives around here. First time just might feel slightly awkward."

"Okay then. I promise, I will stay still during that check-up."

Amazingly enough, Rainbow indeed managed to keep herself still during it. Only receiving an embarrassed blush and a clean bill of health afterwards. And she would do the said check regularly, as per the advice she also received.

Southpost Restaurant-row.

"Soo many tasty smelling foods..." Pinkie commented, while taking in even more sniffs of the many smells of tasty cooking, Spike and Applejack following her. Just in case she doesn't do anything too hyper to disturb the locals.
"Do we just pick one or eat back at the hotel?" purple dragon asked, while looking at all of the restaurants.
"i think locals would like if we got some local grub." AJ suggested, getting nods from others.

"Okie-dokie-lokie! Let's piiiiiick... Dee-de-dee...THAT one!" Pinkie said, while pointing at one of the restaurants, this one named 'Kirin's Treat's', all three heading towards it, soon entering it.

"Welcome to the Kirin's Treat's! What would you like?" called out lightly elderly looking male kirin behind the counter, wearing a chef-hat of sorts.

"Oh, oh! Can we share the on that says 'Rainy Day special'! If that's okay?" pink pony said almost immediately, pointing said food on the wall-menu.

"Hmmm... Well we normally do it only on rainy days, but I think we can make an exception this time. Shera! Make some goshdarn tea! I got a special order for three to cook!"

"Sure thing uncle Drein! Three warmup tea's, coming riight up!" came a voice from the kitchen, while the trio got seated on a free table. And a minute or so later, another, slightly familiar looking kirin female came out, carrying a tray with three cups of tea on it.
"Here you go. I sure hope you can enjoy, or conquer the meal you ordered." she said in a happy tone.

"Okay, sure... What's so special about this special anyway?" Applejack asked, while sipping her tea.
"It's a seecreeet... Also barely anyone has ever managed to eat it all. Last attempt was a prepared group of five, and they failed after a glorious effort."

"OOOooooh! Sound's tasty special! Bet I can eat it!" Pinkie piped in sounding excited.

"Careful pink one. Many have said that, and failed. Also did you see the note on the menu? If a customer fails to finish this specific meal, they have to pay five thousand bits-"

"WHAT??! That much??!" AJ called out, just barely avoided making a spit take with the given tea.

"The price is for the bills and the many ingredients we use here, and also act's as a deterrent for the careless culinarians, and a reason why we usually make it on rainy days, hence the name. And if anyone actually eats all of it, it's free of charge."

"So we just have to eat the whole meal, and we don't have to pay for it? Sounds kinda fair." Spike commented thoughtfully. Meanwhile Pinkie was counting her bits, just in case they would lose, in a wallet that she pulled out of her mane.

"Hope you're ready, cause here it comes!" the cook called, while carrying a large bowl to their table. And it was full of steaming strips of hay strips in a pile, with a raw egg on top of it.
"It has plenty of rice on the bottom. Have good meal, and good luck reaching the the rice itself." cook said politely.

"All right! Let's eat this beast!" Pinkie said happily, while Spike and AJ soon followed.

About an hour, two or so later...

"Hay, hay, hay, spice, hay, spice, egg, hay, spice..."

"Pinkie, *urp* I think were losing... And ba*urp*dly... " AJ managed to croak out, obviously with a over-stuffed belly. Spike had a while ago crawled to the side-room the restaurant had for the customers to rest after failing at the special-meal, getting some aid for the stomach-ache from Shera, who turned out to be the kirin who had commented Twilight's wings when they had arrived.

"I-I think we have made dent in it... I think?... Maybe?" Pinkie commented, sounding a little doubtful about her own estimate.

"Well, by my estimates, you did pretty well compared to some other first timer groups, who try the Rainy Day special." Shera mentioned, while bringing Spike back, who was looking a lot better.
"And unfortunately, you have to pay for the meal."

"Yeah, here you go." Pinkie said while giving the said amount, trying not to faint from all the eating. "But I swear... One day I WILL finish a whole meal of that special. What do say to that?!" she continued with more decisive tone, while pointing at the unfinished meal bowl, like it was going to answer.



"She does that sometimes." Spike said to the confused looking kirins.

Back on the beach...

"So, now that you have calmed down enough, and digged your friend out of the sand, would you care to explain why tried to assault our dear Bluey?" Lacte asked in a firm tone, while standing next to Blueblood, like a huge busty bodyguard. Fofa and Scarlet where also in somewhat protective stances around him, glaring at Rarity who was still visibly slightly fuming, while being inside a purple bubble, made by Twilight. Just in case...

"I'm sorry for my friends behaviour. It's just that she had a bad experience with Blueblood some time ago at a Gala. He was bit rude to her there." Twilight tried to explain diplomatically, while keeping Rarity in the bubble.

"Ah yes, the Gala. In my defence, on that night, I was merely avoiding a fifth gold-digger of the day." Blueblood said in an even tone. This caused a visible sputtering from Rarity, bubble blocking most of her voice.
"You're not the first mare who tried to woo 'their prince charming', thinking that they are 'the one for him'. And frankly, I grew quite tired of dealing with them gently. Thus, I made up a snobby, elitist a-hole persona to get them off me. Only problem was that some of the elite, or elite minded, took a liking to that."
The latter part made him somewhat visibly disgusted about it.

"Now since I am not required to tell you any details for my presence here, if you won't mind, me and my dear lady friend's have a meal to cook and spend some good times together." he finished, while starting to leave, alongside with the ladies.

"All right then. Have a good day!" Twi called out to them, trying to be neutral one in this situation. Even Rarity seemed to have calmed down enough. By the time the bubble was gone, Blueblood and his ladies had gone away.

"Why, if it would not cause us legal trouble, I would have beaten him into a pulp." Rarity muttered.

"So, do you still want to hang around the beach, or should we just return to the hotel?"

"I think it's better just to go back to hotel."

With that said, both of them stated to head away from the beach, toward the hotel. There Rarity would lock hersefl up in the room bahroom for a while, and Twilight started reading one of the books she brought with her, while they waited for their friend to return.

Tanah kahijian.

"Feeling better, miss Naja?" hippogriff maiden asked politely from marilith, who had just finished wiping off most of her tears.

"Much better Hera. If it is alright to ask, is there a graveyard by any chance, or do you perhaps cremate your dead?"

"That would the latter. It was started by Shadow Petal, who wished that her ashes where to be spread around the surroundings of your home. She wished to protect your home in death should you return. Several others requested the same. Hopefully that does not disturb you..."

"Luckily, it doesn't. In a certain way, good to know I have someone looking over my shoulder from the other side." Naja answered, while looking around lightly, as if she had sensed someone nearby.
"There is one thing that still bothers me though... When at memorial, I could not find one name in it. Your ancestor, Hermes, to be exact. Is his name somewhere else?"

"Well, that was the next thing I meant to talk about with you. As you might remember, your meditation created plenty of materia, with varied spells on them. Hermes used one of them to preserve himself through the years, with his wife's blessing no less. His goal was to be able to see you again, if only once." Hera explained in a calm manner.

"Which spell? Was it one of the status effecting ones?"

"Yes. Petrification, to be exact. He basically asked to be stoned semi-regularly, and we would use Esuna-spell every now and then to give him the news. He is getting old though... So this would be his last change to see you again."

"Brave move... Shall we go see him then?" Naja concluded, receiving a nod from Hera, who then began to lead the way. Finally they arrived to a rather humble building, next to a lightly larger one. It was still big enough for someone of Naja's size to enter.
"This my family lines estate, build to it's current state through the years. Ancestor Hermes requested to be held here while waiting."

After that, the two of them entered the humble building. There behind a curtain and a load's of protective wards, waited a 'statue' of an old looking hippogriff, in a laying down position, behind a curtained off part of the room.
"Can you wait a little more? I need to remove the effect and check his health."

"Understood..." Naja answered.

While she waited, she could hear sound of spell being cast, most likely Esuna, and followed by a sound of stone cracking.

"Good day grampy Hermes, had good nap?" Heras voice asked politely.

"Why hello there little Hera, you sure have grown. And yes, it was a pretty good nap." a much older voice replied in a calm and collected manner, while having a happy undertone in it. Following things Naja heard where few questions about health and current state of things in towns.

"Now grampy Hermes, you have a visitor waiting. Please try and stay calm, because she would most likely talk with you about few things. Just take it easy, okay?"

"Very well. Who is this visitor?"

After this question was asked, Hera proceeded to pull the curtain aside slowly, revealing Naja waiting behind it. Silence followed after this.

"Hey... Long time no see... Little Hermes..." Naja managed to say, now seeing the little hippogriff as a really old bird, who seemed to be nearing the end of the line in near future. And he still gave a happy smile, while managing to stand up slowly with some shaking and walk closer to her and put a shaky claw on her snakey front, as if trying to confirm she really was there in person.

"Hi miss Naja. Welcome back home. We have a lot of catching up to do... And I feel not that much time to do it..."

Chapter 13 Short sweet talks and Farewells...

View Online

Chapter 13 Short sweet talks and Farewells...

Estate of the line of Hermes.

"Feeling comfy there Hermes?" Naja asked from the old, maybe even respectfully ancient, hippogriff laying on her coils, like a comfy bed of sorts. Hera sat next to them, mostly just listening and being present.

"Yes. It feels quite nostalgic, reminding me of my younger days, when you used to keep company to the young ones of the town after a meditation session." Hermes answered, while remembering the past things.
Following this, a faint red glow shined under his chest feathers, and soon a emerald green glowing long-eared fox creature, with a red gem on its forehead, appeared and proceeded to rest its head on mariliths coils, close to the Hermes, like a good sympathetic doggo.

"Looks like Carbuncle is sensing your situation too." marilith commented, giving a hand for it to sniff, receiving few licks too and a few adorable sounds.
"Indeed it does. Our bond has grown rather strong over the years. Both in and out of my stone-naps. When I was petrified, it has kept me company and managed to keep me sane during my dreams. And in terms of magical power, I think we could rather easily reflect even your best shot in ideal setting."

"Yes, I think I can sense that underlying potent power in both of you, now that both of you are present... Anything to say about the Big Guy?"

"I only dared to touch the said materia after mastering Carbuncles powers, and only with help from it."

"So what it was like, to interact with the Big Guy?"

"Rather overwhelming, even when saying a humble hello to it. I guess I'm not as well attuned to it as you are, or maybe my magical presence does not protect me as well as yours."

"A good possibility. Was there many word exchanged?"

"Not really. Mostly a respectful greeting and a farewell to minimize the over-exposure."

This was followed by a short series of coughing, that sounded a bit more serious compared to any normal coughing. The sort that, in a way, signals the final moments of someone being just around the corner or very much nearing at a rabid pace. And of course it caused visible worry on both Naja and Hera.

"It's alright you two. I think I can get my final thing's said and done..." Hermes managed to say. He proceeded to remove an humble looking amulet beneath his feathers, holding Carbuncle's red materia crystal, and offered it towards Hera with a shaky claw.
"Hera... Look after Carbuncle, and keep up with your effort to teach materia wielder's in responsible ways."

Hera accepted the amulet, with tears in her eyes. Carbuncle proceeded to give the elderly hippogriff one last lick, before sitting next to Hera, looking sad for its old owners nearing departure. with the flopped down ears.

"Miss Naja...-*cough-cough*... I may not have nothing special to leave for you, but *inhale* we all managed to get three of your blades back. They... They are waiting in your temple-house's bedroom, with a note of how we managed to find them."

"I appreciate it very much. And don't worry about the rest of the blades. I managed to find them on my own."
This got a small weak chuckle out from Hermes, along with a smile for the convenience of it.

"And there is one last request for you. Just don't get offended about it, please?" he asked, receiving a 'proceed'-nod from Naja.
"I don't know if Hera already told you, but we mostly cremate our dead, if they wish it, around here. And I would wish, that it would be your flames, that help me leave this world and cross beyond the Veil to the Afterlife... If it is all right with you?"

"Very well... I'll do it... Anything else, old friend?"

"Well... Could you maybe sing something calming? Hera can join in if she want's." Hermes requested, sounding very, very tired.

"All right, little birdie. I think I remember a nice melody..." Naja answered, looking increasingly mournful.
A moment later, a calm song could be heard to the outside of the estate, while the elderly hippogriff visibly relaxed on the coils of marilith, with a silent and content sigh. And soon he got to see his family again...

Canterlot castle, Royal tea-room.

After taking care of another session of court, the royal sisters had themselves a little tea-break. While taking a sip of hers, Celestia suddenly tasted something else. The still steaming tea was supposed to be a mint-flavor, but she tasted... A rather tepid bland water?

"What is it sister? Something wrong with the tea?" the moon princess asked.

"Yes. It suddenly started to taste like bland water. And that usually happens when..." Celestia answered, going rather silent during it, when remembering other times this taste change had occurred.
"When a someone truly old person you have seen is passing away..." Luna concluded rather sadly. She was aware of this odd thing her sister had with tea.
"Any idea who it might be?..."

"I'm... Not sure. But my memories do bring up someone small and fluffy... A feeling of pain from words of a child... And a mango hitting my cheek... But I can't for the life of me remember the name..." Celestia mused aloud, even giving a questioning look to Luna when talking about the name, who in turn merely shook her head. Seemed like neither of them could not remember at the time.

And it brought up few tears from the both of them...

Mane6 hotel-room in Southpost...

"Wait, wait, wait Rainbow... You mean you had a medical check that involved getting touched in... Down there??"

"Yes AJ, and I got a clean-bill of health in that department. Meanwhile, you lost an eating challenge at a restaurant... While being teamed up with Spike and PINKIE PIE? How??"

"Honestly, I still have no idea how it happened. But Pinkie is still a bit off about it. Most likely training herself for the 'second round', or something like that." orange earth pony said while glancing towards the door to the room Pinkie had gone after they got back to the hotel. A small peek had revealed her doing odd stretches there, while reading three different manuals at the same time, while balancing on a blanket. Or just being herself.

While Rainbow and Applejack where having this conversation, Rarity was trying to help Fluttershy to fix her mane a little bit, it still being slightly stuck in an up-position, thanks to behemoth saliva from all the licks it had gotten. Flutters didn't mind it, but till let her friend try to fix it, if only to help her take her mind off from the encounter with Blueblood and his friends. Twilight had returned to her books after taking little notes from her friends experiences. They had been rather interesting. Especially Rainbows tale of actually meeting an actual Lamassu, a hybrid of pony and minotaur union. And on top of that, in two variants, which had driven purple alicorn to her books. She was yet to find any proper info from the ones she brought with her, and lamassu's where not really seen in Equestria all that much. She would most likely have to wait until they returned home to do proper research on the subject.

Their thoughts where interrupted by knock on the door. Twilight got up to open it, revealing member of the hotel staff, a tan unicorn mare wearing rather black version of the uniform.
"Hello. Sorry disturbing you, but we are gathering voluntary signatures for the mourn-scroll, if you want to sign it as a condolence."

"Mourn-scroll? Is it for a someones memorial service? We aren't really from here."

"Yes indeed. An elder member of our town's just passed away earlier today. He was very respected and one of the oldest residents living here. Pretty much all of both towns are in mourning... And the cremation ceremony is later this evening for the closest relatives and friends."

After the explanation, all of the Elements and Spike had signed the scroll, noticing it already having many, many names already on it. The overall mood of the room dropped more than a little, even taking away the puffiness of Pinkies mane...

Tanah kahijian, northern square...

An impressive pile of wood had been set up in the middle of the square, with plenty of different fire-safety around it. After the news of Hermes' passing had spread, the locals had been varied levels of shocked, which was followed by sorrow and soon after the effort to prepare the requested cremation pyre, with enough wood and different kinds of special oils for it. And of course the body itself had to be prepared too.

By the sundown everything was ready, with the body of the old hippogriff resting on top of a pile of wood, carefully wrapped in a white cloth, with a few Mourn-scrolls next to him. There had been many who had sent their condolences.
There where plenty of locals around the pyre, all of them wearing black, including Naja, who was basically given a large black cloth to wrap around herself, due to her size.

After the required ceremonial words had been said, Naja approached the pyre with a respectfully slow slither, stopping close enough to it, bringing two of her hands together, forming a cup.
She proceeded to conjure a small flame on her cupped hands, not going too overboard, mostly due to the overall sad mood everyone present had. And with a small gentle blow, the flame floated to the woods on the pyre, igniting it, starting the burial pyre properly.

Everyone present stayed respectfully silent, with only an occasional sob here and there, among the crackling of the burning wood. All of them just gave a silent prayer to the elder hippogriff leaving this world. And of course many, many tears where shed, especially from Naja. Despite standing nearest to the now brightly burning pyre, the heat from it could not impede her tears at all... And she could not bring herself to move, even when the pyre had been reduced to a few faintly glowing embers...

Chapter 14 Stories in the notes and a sleepy dream meeting.

View Online

Chapter 14 Stories in the notes and a sleepy dream meeting.

Almost a full day later...

"Thank you fo giving me a lift, lady Naja. I hope I'm not a bother."

"It's not a problem Hera. Giving a ride for someone smaller than me is rather easy feat. Are you alright? You'r eyes are still a little bit red."

"I'm fine. What about you? You barely moved from your spot near the pyre, until I came to poke you with a stick. Also I did not mean to get the little ones on it too..."

"It's alright. It was adorable in a certain way. And it takes much more, than a stick to do any actual damage to my tail."

Marilith and the white hippogriff continued down the stone-path to the temple, that was about to get it's long time occupant back... After a thousand year long forced absence. Soon they arrived to the courtyard area of the said temple, which was still standing proud and tall against the test of time.
There where even a couple of decorative pillars on the sides of the main pathway to the temple itself, most of them having a carvings of different types of snakes. Some of them even slightly shimmering in the slowly fading evening light.

"I see that the you have worked up some decorations here. Is the inside decorated too?" Naja asked, while taking in the many details of the carvings.

"Not really. Although we did take a slight liberty of continuing your wall-carving, just a little bit, with some of the more important things that happened here during your absence. And we also added an actual door to your part of the temple. For privacy reasons."

"Much appreciated Hera. Is there anything else I should be aware of? A local festival perhaps? Possible responsibilities to take up on? A regular visitor coming and going as they please?"

"Well there is one small festival coming up rather soon, maybe with a slight delay due to the funeral... And perhaps if you'd like to take up once more take part in mentoring about the intricacies of materia wielding, that can be arranged if necessary. And we have a humble stylized of you is in our flag as a reminder of all your help here. Aand there is one special kind of visitor coming here occasionally... The Snake King Dalamadur to be exact. And the word is that it even wrecked several churches in Equestria throughout the years, all of which had some seriously dirty secrets..."

"Really now? Well, good to know it has done something useful in the world. When was the last time it visited?"

"Oh, only about five years ago. It mostly just appeared above the tree-line, looked around a bit, and then just left. Its appearances have been somewhat irregular occurrence, some times appearing once a decade, or even weekly for a month. For all I know, it might even come and make a visit here tomorrow. And it has always been oddly careful during those times, as if trying not to accidentally crush the place."

"Well, we deal with that when it happens." Naja conclude, while looking at the sunset a bit. Hard to believe that nearly a full day ago, she was laying an old friend to rest...

"Well, I shall take my leave now then. Hopefully you get used to being back home. Farewell for now." Hera said, giving Naja a polite bow, before taking flight, heading back to town.

Now alone, Naja kept slithering towards her temple-house, remembering the times of of fixing it up into something more livable, followed by the moments of teaching the first class of materia wielders, avoiding Brass Horn's touchy hands, and many other moments with friends.

The entry hall was looking pretty much the same as it was before, with some added carvings on pillars with some snake and materia theme on them. What drew her attention, was the spot where the doorway to her quarters used to be. now there indeed was an actual door, made of wood and stone on hidden metal hinges. If she had to guess, it would most likely blend in with the rest of the wall, maybe for the extra privacy's sake? Neat.

After going through it and locking it behind her, while making sure her tail was not caught between wall and the door, Naja proceeded to slither to her bed chamber. And there was a familiar looking bed, made out of sturdy wood and had an actual woven blanket instead of skin of dead nandi bear on it. Plus it also looked really comfy. Some sturdy looking shelves where added in too
And on the bed where the last three of her swords, and two scrolls on top of them.

"Hello, my dearies. Mommys home." marilith whispered, while reaching for the swords, which in turn flew to her hands at a respectful pace, as if trying not to accidentally damage the scrolls. When Naja held the blades, with a small surge of energy, she actually felt complete once again.
"Now, let's see what these scrolls hold in them." she muttered after putting her sword in their pocket dimension, while proceeding to pick up seemingly smaller one of the scrolls.

"'Short tale of Umbral Wing's find'. All right, let's see what this one holds..."

Past, Umbral Wing pov, coastline near GriffonStone, around midnight...

"Travel worthy boat, some food, bag of bits, some of my personal stuff. Ok, that should be everything I need for the trip. I just hope the rumour is true about that town..." The thestral mare with black wings talked to herself, while going over her meager belongings, next to a humble, sail equipped boat.
Both the mare and the boat where still in the forest of bushes, lining up the coastline. She had lived around here, ever since her late parents had been banished by the supporters of the late King of Equestria whatshisnameagain.
Only just recently she had heard about a quickly growing town called Tanah kahijian, where everycreature lived together in peace, despite rumours also telling about Equestian princesses causing some trouble there just recently. At least it would beat living in a shack in the woods, almost a day's flight away from the nearest proper settlement.

"Ok, now to just get this boat in deeper waters, and it's onward's to a new home." she said, preparing to start pulling the boat out of the bushes. This was interrupted by the sound of feathery wings, followed by a loud thud, making her to drop low, hiding just in case.

Thanks to her natural thestral night vision, she could see a pegasus, wearing the armor of the Royal Guard, who seemed to be starting to dig a hole on the sands of the beach. On the side, there was a big bag holding something long. If she had to guess from the outline of the item, it was a huge sword of sorts.
After digging the hole, the guard managed to drag the bag and its content, seeming to be careful not to touch the item itself, like it would hurt him somehow. Perhaps the item was magical?

"There that should do it. Unless tides wash it up, those weirdos in Tanah kahijian will never find it." the guard talked to himself while burying the bagged item in the sand. "Now just to go back home and take the memory potion, so nopony will not get it out of me." he concluded while taking flight again, now leaving the area.

After waiting a few long moments, just in case the guard would return, Umbral finally dared to move. Right to the freshly filled hole in the sand and starting to dig.
It didn't take long for the bag to come in view. Umbral proceeded to pull it out of the sand, being careful not to touch the item inside, just in case it would blast her or something.

"Hmmm... The guard said something about the folk of Tanah kahijian, rather meanly. Maybe I can get a better shack, or maybe even a small cabin if she brought this thing with me." she thought.
The thestral mare then proceeded to drag the bagged item with her to the hidden boat and them started to push it towards the water. It did not take long until the boat was in deeper waters, making the mare take wing and settle on it, followed by raising the sail, which caught some lucky wind.

"Now, onwards to the new home."

One sailing trip, that felt long and boring, later...

"Finally! Land!"

After seeing land in the horizon, Umbral started to paddle to get some extra speed to her boat. And even better, the small under-construction harbor did not have any Equestrian flag on its poles. They had an image of some kind of simple image of a snake-tailed, six-armed humanoid, holding two swords, two orbs and holding a small flame with the remaining two, with its purple tail coiled around another orb.

"Heey!! Can I get little heelp??!!" she called out to the folk at the rising harbor. And soon she got some help from a griffin and another thestral, who pulled her boat to the harbor docks proper.

"Welcome to the Southpost, the sister town of Tanah kahijian miss. Where do ya come from?"

"I sailed from the shores of Griffonstone. Lived in a small shack there after my family was banished from Equestria. Aaand I brought something special with me, I think belongs here." Umbral said, while pulling the bagged item off the boat and to the dock, soon revealing it being a rather large sword.
"Saw some Royal guard member trying to bury it in the beach sands. So i decided to take it with me, since it's from here."

Other creatures where all having to pick up their jaws from the ground after seeing the sword.
"Th-...That... That is Lady Naja's blade!!" one of the creatures present called out, sounding amazed.

Sooner than she could flap her wings, Umbral was hauled before the village council, along with the sword. All of them where equally amazed about the return of the weapon of their lost friend.

"Well, you are most welcome to join our town if you like. And we all are grateful for your effort of returning one of the Lady Najas sword. Is there any particular reason for you doing it?" one of the councillors asked.

"It just didn't feel right to just leave it there. And the guard sounded kinda mean, calling you weirdos. Also I don't really like Equestria all that much, after they banished my parents and me for being thestrals."

"That sure sounds like them... Well, now you can live here if you like. We're currently expanding to the shoreline and sure could use some more help."

"... * happy-batty SKVEEEEEEEE-sound * "

Back to present...

"And with that, Umbral Wing returned one of the blades and lived a good life here afterwards." Naja concluded reading the story in the scroll.
She also noticed a little scribble on it, which said "To Lady Naja from Umbral Wing: HI! :D"

"Awww, that's nice."

After that, Naja closed the scroll and set it down on the shelve and proceeded to pick up the other scroll. And this looked a little bit newer compared to the previous one.
"'Notes of Tauron and Dust Wing from Canterlot'..."

Canterlot, few years ago...

"Ok Tauron sweetie, I'm off to work." lime green pegasus mare with dark blue mane said to a beige minotaur bull.

"Good luck in there. Let's hope that we may get an opening to get those blades out from the palace." he commented back.

"Don't worry. I'm sure we can figure out a way to do that. We where lucky I managed find out their actual locations."

"I'm still amazed you found by pure chance the one that Celestia had hidden... On a basic cleaning routine and managing to fool her by just cleaning and dusting up those relics there and then 'forgetting' about it when she asked."

"You're not the only one. I guess I was just lucky... Well, I gotta go now. And who knows, maybe today's the day we get the blades out of here. Have a good tinkering day honey!" she said while giving minotaur a small kiss on the cheek, causing some blushing, before leaving the small apartment, which was included in a humble smithy called 'Taurons tinker's'.

It did not take long for Dust Wing to fly to the Canterlot Castle, and soon switch to her maid uniform. Luckily she was not screened all that much during her job interview, thinking she was just your average equestrian pegasus, while she actually was born and raised in the independent town of Southpost, where she also met her big horned love-pillow. And Tauron was really good with his hands, both in and outside of bedroom...

"Hey, Dust! Are you gonna pick up that feather duster or just daydream?" another castle maid called out, breaking Dust out of her little daydreaming.
"Oh, right, sorry." she answered a little sheepishly, while a visiting group from the school from Ponyville passed them by in the hallway towards the castle statue garden.

'Drat, I just would need a one good opening to get the blades out of Princess Luna's room and from that hidden vault. Got even fakes ready in my supply-cart' Dust thought to herself, while doing some dusting near the night princesses quarters.

She continued doing her work, until something rather weird happened. The feather duster she was holding, suddenly took flight, flapping its feathers like wings.
"Hey! Get back here!" Dust yelled angrily, trying to reach the now flying dusting implement. After catching it and giving it few hard wacks, it finally stopped trying to fly around.
"No bucking cleaning product of any kind messes with me..."

"Brave beating you gave to that feather duster." came a voice behind her, making her jump a bit due to its suddenness. A short turn revealed Princess Luna standing there, in full battle gear.
"Chaos spirit, Discord, has gotten out from his imprisonment and is turning things in who-knows-how many ways crazy. I would advice you to maybe return home soon as you can for security. We will inform when its safe again." princess continued, before stabbing the cleaning supply cart, that was about to run away, a couple of times with her sword.

"And if you need to break some items moving on their own in the castle, don't worry about it. They will fix themselves after this is over... Probably."

After the Night Princess had left, breaking few expensive looking vases, that tried to grab her mane, on her way, leaving Dust alone with the stabbed cart.
"Phew, that was close. Would have been awkward to explain the hidden fake swords..." she whispered to herself. Then she realized that princess in her hurry had left her room door wide open. And if what the Night princess had said about things going crazy, maybe it included the magical security in the castle. And all the guards most likely where very busy right this moment.
"Well, might as well try now..."

And with that, Dust went in the royal bedchamber of the night princess. Luckily nothing blasted her, so the security spells where indeed going crazy.
"All right now to locate the Lady Naja's sword and hope what is said about them is true. Now where would I put... Oh there it is." she thought aloud, while looking around the room, rather soon noticing a large sword, hanging on the wall. Hidden in plain sight, maybe out of respect? The tales from home told that the Moon Princess was the more worthy opponent in a chronicled battle between Lady Naja and the Equestrian princesses.
"Hello you. Now to get ya out of there."

Dusty proceeded to try and wiggle the sword of its holder, with some help from few strips of leather to lift it. And it did actually came off without a hitch. Careful ot to touch the metallic blade, she managed to move it to the stabbed cart.
After checking that nopony was around, she opened a hidden compartment in the cart, revealing several fake-swords. All of them modeled after the missing originals. After putting the sword in its special section, she picked out its fake-version and hurried to put it on the wall-holder.

"Ok, now to check the vault room if the security is off there too..." she concluded, while hiding the blade compartment and proceeded to move it backwards, trying to look like her movements where going wonky. Luckily it seemed to work when a couple of guards ran past her in another hallway, chasing after some kind of liquorice worms wearing their armor, only giving a passing glance at her direction.
She even gave few other guards a 'help'- gaze, who could not help all that much, being rather extremely busy with all the other, more serious, hooplaa and craziness trying to preserve some manner of order in the castle and most likely in a city as a whole. And seeing that there was plenty of pink clouds, raining down brown liquid, maybe a chocolate milk, it was not going too well.

Finally Dust had found her way to the cleaning closet of the vault-room, which was empty... And the vault's door now had peppermint stripes on it, but the closet was still normal. Dusty did not hesitate to go down the stairs, reaching the hidden vault door, which was open for some reason.
"Seriously?? Why not just put a 'welcome' mat here too..." she said, with an accompanying eye-roll. Locating the sword was easy, due to it being on it's pedestal. After confirming she was alone, she proceeded to carry it carefully to her cart and of course left a fake one to the vault.

"Let's just hope no one notices the switch until we are back home. Should not be hard to leave the maid job after all this happened."

With both swords hidden in her cart, Dust started to head out from the castle, still doing the backward walking move, which still worked, only being delayed by few books that tried to bite her, resulting badly torn uniform
After getting in to a suitable spot to leave the cart, she removed the sword compartment, along with both found swords and the fakes, off from it and managed to leave with it without no one seeing her, still in her maid uniform. Good thing they where allowed to keep them if something damaged it badly.
Dust did not waste time heading back home to her horn head, who had locked up smithy for security.

"Tauron, open up! It's me!" she called out while checking the street. It did not take long for minotaur to open the and help her to get sword compartment inside.
"Why did you bring the compartment home?" he asked.

"I actually got the two swords out of the castle..." Dust answered with a big smile on her face. Tauron was visibly amazed of this.
"So this means, we can soon head back home?"

"Yep, and it should be easy enough to leave. With all this happening and most of the locals here not really being all that friendly, aside from a handful of kind ones. Now help me hide the blades just in case this place gets checked."
It did not take long for the duo to hide the real and fake blades in their prepared luggage.

"And now, we fluffing celebrate my horned honey... Take off your pants... NOW!"

This demand was followed by few hours worth of "celebrating" between the two of them. After the chaos had been sealed away again, Dust went to drop her resignation papers to the head of staff at the castle, who was quite understanding for the reasons, saying that she was not the only one to do that. Even their apartment was easy to sell.
Overall, they managed to leave Canterlot without any suspicion from any of the authorities. After they had returned home, receiving pretty much a heroes welcome when they showed what they got with them. And of course, they "celebrated" a lot more alone...

Back to present...

"Aaand the rest seems to be a rather explicit description of pony-minotaur copulation... Maybe I should go and thank them personally one of these days, since this one is from only few years ago." Naja concluded, while closing up the scroll, putting it to the shelve next to the previous one, followed by an ample yawn. It was most likely rather late.
Starting feel a little tired, Naja proceeded to slither on the bed, coiled up in a comfortable position and let herself to fall asleep in a familiar place...

Dream realm...

Another night, another routine checking of dreams in case of nightmares or possible issues that might need help. That was the gist of it for Princess Luna pretty much every night, who was watching over the dream realm, this time seeing dreams as many doors of many different designs.

"Now let us see what we can do this night" Luna talked to herself, while looking at the many doors. After going through several false alarms, her attention was drawn by an different looking door, seemingly made of wood and stone. She also sensed something familiar in it, something from a long time ago.
Of course her curiosity finally won, and she went to open up the said door.

Within she found a very familiar looking serpentine creature, just sleeping there on her own coils rather peacefully.
"Lady Naja... You're back I see..." Luna mumbled, sounding amazed.

After getting over the amazement-phase, she began to wonder about the whole sleeping in a dream thing. So Luna proceeded to use her magic to enter peacefully in the dream within the dream... Only find the marilith sleeping there again. So she repeated the dream entering again, only to find another layer of sleeping in a dream.
She had to repeat the process two more times, until she finally found Naja reading something in her within a couple of layers of dreaming.

"Umm... Hello, miss Naja?" Luna greeted in a careful tone, not sure what the marilith was thinking. Naja looked up from her book to see the alicorn of the night and dreams standing there.
"Oh, hello there... Luna right? It's been a while since I last saw you. In the real world at least, since I'm pretty sure this is a dream."

"Yes indeed, this is a dream... With several layers in fact..."

"Huh? I must be sleeping really well if I'm in that deep of a slumber. Does that happen often? The layered sleeping that is?"

"Barely ever. Only a few creatures actually do that. But enough of that. I see that you have gotten out from the banishment.. That my sister insisted as a plan B?... How may I ask?"

"Sure you can. And answer is pretty much magic, to put it simply. And some hiccup wih my bindings sure helped too."

"And... What are your intentions now?" Luna asked.

"Well, at the moment just return to live my life at my old home. Already received a warm welcome there too." was marilith honest answer.

"Ok, that is good to know. At least you're not planning a revenge... Right?"

"Not really. Sure, I do feel a little bit sore about the whole banishment thing, which I think was a bit overboard to do on a place, that was well outside the sphere of political influence and authority for the both of you. But if it makes you feel better, I have pretty much forgiven, but not forgotten about it. So you have no worries of me burning or otherwise trying to wreck your country. Feel free to tell that to your sister if you like."

"I think I will... Sooo what are you reading there?"

"I don't know. Guess I just dream of reading something, since I red some stuff about my blades before bed. Also I have them all again."

"How did you manage that? Me and my sister each had one, two where buried at somewhere separate places and the final two where... In our old castle..." Luna inquired, connecting the dots at the end.
"So it was you who wrecked the doorway there with fire."

"Yes indeed. It had an issue with my ample sized behind. Tried to squeeze through it, but finally I decided to just blast it with fire." Naja said, while giving her tail end a little toss up, fixing her position a bit.
"So do you have any other questions? Or are you just gonna stand there and maybe hope to see how I rub one out?" she continued with an amused smile, clearly joking. It did cause some embarrassed blushing on Luna.

"WHAT??? No! I would not do that to any-...One. How would you even... Aaaargh!!! Now I'm thinking about it!"

"Yeah, it was odd experience to me too... But enough of that. I bet you have more work tonight, while most likely remembering my good times with my old friend, who just recently passed away..." Naja commented, turning a little bit sad when mentioning her old friends passing.

"Oh... My condolences... Was your friend descendant from the original villagers?" Luna asked carefully, thinking this was visibly a sensitive subject to marilith.

"His name was Hermes, a hippogriff, and he WAS one the originals, who actually cheated death for all these years... Petrification spell can be useful when one wishes to see a seemingly ageless banished friend again, just one more time... And he lived a good life."

"I see... I better return to my work. Good luck to you. Hopefully we can meet again, maybe without having to cross-swords." Luna offered with a hopeful smile after a small silence, while slowly starting to remember the named hippogriff.

"I'd like that. And tell your sister not to do anything stupid concerning Tanah kahijian or the Southpost, OR the area around them, OR towards me without an actual, factually, fully proven good reason, with an ample physical proof to back it up. I don't know if she has already heard of my short visit on one town... Ponyville I think it was. But to put it simply she has nothing to worry about me if she behaves well enough in turn towards me."

Luna gave Naja a confirming nod and started to leave the layered dream, and kept her watch in the dream realm. While she was thinking of different ways on how to tell Celestia about this, she felt a gentle poking on her shoulder, starting to wake her up.

With an ample yawn, Luna woke up, still in her bed, and noticed Celestia standing there, holding a report-scroll in her magic.

"Sorry to wake you up an hour early sister, but I just received this report from our agent in Ponyville. Apparently a creature fitting the description of the marilith Naja, who we saw a millenia ago, was sighted there just a couple of days ago, before it just disappeared." Celestia said, sounding worried.

"Yes, I think she mentioned that visit rather shortly a moment ago..." Luna answered with a another yawn.

"We might have to... Wait, what did you say???" white alicorn suddenly asked, after registering what Luna had just said, eyebrows rising high.

"I stumbled in her dream, and we had a little chat about some things, including her intentions of not taking any revenge on Equestria. She said she has 'forgiven but not forgotten' about the thing we did millenia ago."

"Truly? Was there... Anything else she said?" Celestia inquired in a lightly hopeful tone.

"Well she asked me to tell you, and I quote, 'not to do anything stupid concerning Tanah kahijian or the Southpost, OR the area around them, OR towards her without an actual, factually, fully proven good reason, with an ample physical proof to back it up', end quote."

"Ok... Anything else you talked about?"

"She did mention an old friend of her's, a hippogriff named Hermes, who recently passed away... I think he actually was there, when we soured the relations with the locals there for generations to come."

"Yes... I think I remember the young one..." Celesia said, sounding sad, and maybe a little hurt when remembering what the hippogriff had said. While she was reminiscing, Luna got out of bed and went to her vanity mirror to fix up some serious bedmane.

"Was there something else she said to you? Anything to maybe help us to approach her in possible negotiations?" Celestia kept asking. Feeling mischievous, Luna decided to tell something indeed. And with a smile on her face too...

Jungle temple...

Naja began to wake up, stretching with a gusto, having slept very well. Feeling like having some breakfast, hopefully among the locals, she began to slither outside the temple.
When she had gotten outside in full, she could swear hearing someone screaming in the early morning wind.


"...Huh, strange..." Naja thought aloud, and just kept slithering on towards the town.

Mane6 hotel room...

The element bearers, Spike included, where sleeping soundly in their rooms. Suddenly Twilight hopped up in seconds, eyes wide open, ears twitching wildly.
"... SOMEPONY JUST TOLD CELESTIA SOMETHING SERIOUSLY MIND BOTHERING!!!" purple alicorn yelled out very loudly, causing annoyed noises from her friends.

"SHUT UP!! SOME ARE TRYING TO SLEEP HERE!!!" was the answer from the next room.

Chapter 15 Hot springs meeting and a festival mess up.

View Online

Chapter 15 Hot springs meeting and a festival mess up.

"Thank you for the pleasant time you two. And good luck with your time of having another little one." Naja thanked the couple, who had offered her some breakfast company. They also happened to be pegasus, Dusty Wing, and minotaur, Tauron, who had helped in reclaiming marilith's blades.
Now they had a nice house and few kids too, and where trying for another one.

"Oh we sure do try." Dusty said, while giving Tauron a seductive sideways glance, clearly being the more friskier one of the two. Tauron looked a little bit wary about the tone she used. The kind of tone that hinted about a looooooong night alone, when the three previous kids where staying at their grandparents for a little while.

"Well, have fun with that then. See ya." Naja said politely, and started to slither somewhere else, leaving pegasus to half-forcibly drag her minotaur husband in the house.

Marilith took in the sights of Tanah kahijian, receiving several greetings on the way, finally slithering her way to Heras home, finding her just coming out of the house.
"Ah, miss Naja. I was just about to come and get you. I thought that it would do us good to relax at the hot springs spa, while I also tell you few thing's about the upcoming festival this evening."

"Oh, well that's quite convenient. I was starting to feel a little stiff in my back, and I mean ALL of it. My tail may get plenty of movement, but with six arms... It's gonna feel like murder in there, with all the possible knots."

"Great. I can tell more about the festival while you get your back some massage. Good thing they have sometimes a really big customers there every now and then."

"That's good to hear. Now let's get going then."

Tanah kahijian, near the council building.

"Wow... This is very fascinating architecture all around here." Twilight gushed, while looking at the buildings around her. Rest of her friends were with her, sans Pinkie and Spike, who had went back at the 'Kirin's Treat's' restaurant to try and attempt getting a rematch against the special there... Spike went mostly to watch just in case something happened.

"Yes Twilight, we can all see that." Rarity commented calmly, while being fascinated by the local fashion.

"Hey, did those folk there just spit on that sectioned off inset on the street?" Rainbow pointed out, making others look as well.

There indeed was an inset on the street, with a small, around ankle height, fence-like structure around it, and locals seemed to all walk or fly around it, many of them spitting in it, with such an attitude like they all collectively hated it for some reason.

"I dunno. But there seems to be a plaque there." Applejack pointed out, noticing a metal plaque at the small fencing.
It did not take long for them to walk for a closer look. The plaque red "Here died the Archbishop Zealous Soul. May he forever burn and suffer for his crimes". Now that they where closer to the inset, they also noticed that it stunk a little, like the spot was not cleaned of all the spit for a long time if ever for some reason.

"Wow... Whoever that bishop guy was, he sure was hated I bet, if he died here and everyone just spits on the grave." Rainbow said. And after a moment of thinking, she hacked up a bit and proceeded to spit in there too.

"Rainbow!" Twi called out, sounding a little offended.

"What? Everyone else seem fine doing it."

"No worries about being offensive about that spot. That Archbishop was a total racist, pony-supremacy nutcase, who was eventually barely even missed, if even that." a passing griffin commented, apparently having heard their exchange, before spitting at the inset as well.

"So... Is his body somewhere else then?" Twilight tried asking, trying to understand a bit. She did somewhat understand the hate towards the pony in question, and think'd it got transferred to the dying too.

"Nope. He died on that spot, crushed to death and remains pretty much flash-burned to ashes on that spot. So basically, we're all taking a spit on his soul, if he even had one..."

"Oh, Ah think the feller was mentioned in that book I red. And he certainly seemed like a complete looney, who abused his power and family." AJ mentioned. Twilight did not have a counter for that point.
"I might have to read that book you keep mentioning AJ. Sounds like a rather rare one."

"Oh, it is. It's just Granny keeps it well hidden, due to it being 'controversial' or somthing."

"Well we can talk about that later when-" Twilight started while walking, without looking where she was heading. This resulted her hooves hitting the small fencing around the spit filled inset, causing her a rather clumsy tripping... Faceplanting right in the inset, getting plenty of spit all over her fur and mane.

Needles to say, she soon screamed out of disgust for obvious reasons. Even her friends and other passer-by's looked more than a bit iffy about the little accident.

"It's all right Twilight. We can head to the spa to get you cleaned up, then we can relax at the hot springs there." Rarity managed to calm purple alicorn down after they had fished her out from the inset.

"Hi there! I was told by your friend to find you here." someone called out, making them all turn to see Shera and Spike using a wheelbarrow to bring a little ill looking Pinkie back from the restaurant's challenge.

"Hi! So how did the challenge go Pinkie?" Rainbow went to ask, sounding curious.

"I will... Beat it... One day..." was all she could croak out, while weakly shaking her hoof to the sky.

"She tried rushing it, not even making it to the third of the bowl done, I think... Then her tummy registered that it was full." Spike filled in.

"And don't worry. The stomach ache should pass after a half an hour or so. Uncle Dreins brother's, daddy Cid's, favourite tea works wonders to that."

"Oh, is he a cook too?" Rarity asked.

"Nope, he's a big time mechanic and a pilot ex-ordinaire. Which reminds me, he needs my help with something big. So, see ya later!"
With that, Shera left with the wheelbarrow, after helping Pinkie get off of it.

"It's okay, I'm starting feel better. Now let's get going! Whooo!" Pinkie commented, and started bouncing alongside the others in her usual bouncy way. Guess the tea did work well.

Hot springs spa, massage parlor, large creatures section.

"Ooooooooooh, yeeeeeeah... That's the fluffing spot..." Naja moaned out, clearly enjoying the treatment she was receiving on her back. All of it no less.

"That is pleasant to hear Lady Naja. We take great pride in our service, and it is an honor to have you as a patron here." said one of the two minotaur masseuses, working on mariliths humanoid back. The rest of her was worked by a group of ponies, using their hooves to treat the muscles rather nicely. They had plenty of experience in this, having done this for some other large creatures before.
Hera was following this from the side, already having her massage already done.

"Are you maybe done soon?"

"In fact yes, miss Hera. Just have to get this one portion... DONE!" masseuse said, then proceeded to make some moves, that caused an audible crack in marilith's back muscles. Alongside with a small grunt of pain, followed by a pleased purring-like sound.

"Ifrit's horns... I had no idea my back was this much in knots. You sure as heck have my thanks for the treatment." Naja said, after coming down from the relief-high.

"Oh its nothing Lady Naja. We where happy to oblige."

"So, Hera. Is the next stop in the hot springs themselves?"

"Yes indeed. They are almost the same as they where before your departure. You still might need a little help there. Mostly to wash a bit before entering."

"Not a problem. I'll head there then."

Hot springs, Co-Ed area.

"Wow, these are huge!" Rainbow commented when seeing the springs, others also looking amazed.

"Indeed they are. Now please proceed to wash up before entering them. It's the rule." they where told by the worker. "And remember, these are for relaxing, not swimming. I hope that is clear, miss Pinkie?"


With that, all six mares started with their washing, alongside of few other patrons either coming or leaving the area.
"These springs sure look relaxing spot." came Spikes voice among them.

"SPIKE! What are you doing here?" Rarity called out, sounding little startled, while covering herself.

"Uuh... This is a Co-Ed area, so I'm allowed here." he answered nonchalantly, while pointing at the sign, which red "Co-Ed" in big letters. "And like I think AJ once said, you lot don't normally wear clothes?" he added, while Applejack nodded.
"Oh, right..." white unicorn said, sounding a bit embarrassed.

After that little thing was settled, all seven of them entered the springs proper, found good spot to relax together. Twiligh and Rarity sat on the good spot to lean against the warm natural stone-wall, which led to the higher part of the springs, which was usually given to bigger patrons. The rest of them found a spot right opposite of them.

"Say Rainbow. I'm a bit surprised you would be ok of being here. Aren't you too cool for that?" Spike asked, while getting comfy.

"Weeeell... I still need to take care of my wing's. Sometimes they just need a bit more than the usual preening to keep in shape. It's a pegasus thing." cyan pegasus answered, trying to sound convincing.


All of them took their time relaxing, letting the spring work it's magic so to speak. This was slightly interrupted by a spa worker talking to someone in the upper-pool of the spring, sounding like she was giving directions to someone.
"This way miss. Easy with your mass, we don't want to cause too much spillage here. No offence..."

"None taken. I'm perfectly comfortable with my figure." came another voice, that sounded somewhat familiar to Twilight, but was a little bit dimmed by the relaxing warmth of the spring.
This was soon followed by a steady stream of warm to hot'ish water from the upper spring, right down on top of Twilight and Rarity, breaking them out of their relaxation with a startled scream. Especially loud screaming came from Rarity.

"Sorry, my tail is rather large and it's displacing a surprising amounts of water."

"Oh it's not that big of a deal We just got..." Twilight started, lightly yelling over Rarity's screaming, that luckily was quieting down, until she saw who had arrived on the upper spring. A huge humanoid, with six arms and a massive looking purple serpentine tail. And the creature looked very familiar, despite only having a large towel and a choker on.
"You... It's you... YOU LEFT BEFORE ANSWERING MY QUESTIONS!!... Naja, right?"

"That's my name. And yes, I did move my ample frame away from your question-based threat. It was just a self-preservation-instinct."

"That sounds about right." Rainbow piped in, while taking in a look of the marilith in po-... person, trying to rate her awesomeness percent.

"WHAT?! My questionnaires don't cause a self-preservation-instinct on any-...body."

"I dunno... You did kinda drove off those few ponies a while ago, after asking them over two hundred questions." Spike mentioned.

"Phew, dodged the bolt it seems." Naja muttered, not that quietly.

"Well I'm going ask at least some questions, right now!" Twilight said, sounding really determined, even preparing to summon her quill and parchment.

"Uh, miss. We do not allow questionnaires in the spring or the spa, in case you missed the sign over there." spa worker informed them, while pointing at the sign, saying the following:

'No swimming in the spring, rough housing, horse play, rough play, horse housing, magical horn blasts, item summoning, hanky-panky stuff in present of a minor's, overly aggressive flying, physical/mental/magical violence or questionnaires of any kind to other patrons, even if there is an emergency, police arrest, the end of the world or a burning desire for knowledge going on.
Mentioned thing's may be changed on a whim of the management.'


"Quieter, please. Otherwise loud yelling might get added to the list. You can converse normally if you like."

"...Ok, we don't yell or do questionnaires" Twilight finally complied, a little sad that there where no question-list's to be had here.

"Very well then. Do enjoy the springs." spa worker said before leaving them.

There was a bit of an awkward silence between Naja and the elements and Spike, only broken by the sound of water flowing when marilith took a more comfortable position, leaning on her stomach, upper torso leaning on the edge of the upper pool of the springs, leaving the towel on the side.
"So? Here we are. Relaxing, while naked, in the waters of the hot spring, that was here when I started living around these parts. So how are ya liking the place?" Naja started, while moving her tail a little bit, causing some water to spill right on top of Rarity. Although not as much when entering.

"It has been nice, if not counting you spilling water on us, accidental or otherwise, no offence." Rarity said, trying to fix her mane.

"Hey, girly, you try move a around with a huge about two ton'ish tail without causing some level of unintentional mishap." was mariliths counter.

"Well... I might try to at least drop some of its weight."

"Just so you know, maybe around three percent or so of my weight is in form of a healthy fat. The rest is muscle, plus the necessary intestines. So this baby here is quite a crusher." Naja said, also giving a few pats on her tail. This revealed a barely visible scar tissue on one of her arms, which got noticed by Rainbow.

"Hey, how you got that scar on your arm? The upper... Left one." she said pointing at it.

"Oh, that? Did not even notice that. Well to answer that, it's just an harpoon wound. Probably it mostly healed on its own during my thousand year hibernation."

"So you really are from over thousand years ago? I thought you descendant of the sketched one in the book." Twilight managed to pipe in, remembering the book they found before the trip.
"It was written and sketched by the Starswirl himself too."

"Oh? Who was he? Only one who seemingly studied me, was the first pony I ever met. Or rather saw, thanks to stick snap, and then lifted by the tail to have a closer look."

"Well he was the greates-... YOU ACTUALLY MET HIM??!"

"I guess. I did not really ask him, partially because I could not talk. That would require this choker, which I didn't have at that specific time.. And before you ask, it allows me to speak common language, and NO, you absolutely cannot study it or anything similar... Ever..." Naja said while pointing at the said choker on her neck, and proceeded to give purple alicorn a warning, with a "touch it and they'll never find your body"- leer.
This made Twilight go sheepishly silent, even sinking down in the water, down to her nose.

"Well it still looks good on you, miss Naja." Fluttershy managed to say.

"Why thank you... What is your name?" marilith asked, not having heard most of the groups name before leaving Ponyville.

"Oh, I'm Fluttershy. These are Twilight, Rarity, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie and Spike." shy pegasus introduced herself and her friends, pointing them all in turn. She must have had a sudden bout of bravery of sort. Or maybe it was the casual setting they where in.

"Pleasure to meet you. Even thought I did meet three of you earlier. Which reminds me, Pinkie? Keep that party you have planned on me still in the stand-by-phase, if you could, please? I have some things taking up my schedule quite full."

"No problemo. It just lets me fine-tune it more. Already have measured ingredients for a proper muffin size for you. And Derpy helped out a lot in that too. She knows a LOOOOT more about muffins than me..." pink party pony said with a polite salute, proceeding to half whisper the part about having help from this muffin-loving pony.

"Good. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to turn on my back for a bit. It's not always as easy as you might think." Naja warned, before starting to turn her whole body on its back. This caused once again little bit of water spillage, and once more Raritys mane got some of it on it. This time the fashionable unicorn managed to not scream out.

"So about that arm scar. How did it come from a harpoon? Was it from some battle or just a fishing mishap?" Rainbow asked, wanting to continue her earlier question.

"Simply put, a mercenary who was geared towards trapping larger creatures, with a harpoon cannon. And there where many more of them present at the same time too. Only this injury gave the rest of them an opening to bind me. And would you move too much if you have a sharp piece of metal, say in your wing, risking even worse injury?" marilith queried, while lazily spilling some water on her body.

"... No, I probably would not..." the cyan pegasus answered carefully, tugging her wing a bit closer, as if to make sure they where safe.

"Why where they after you? You seem so nice." Fluttershy asked, fluttering next to Naja. This received her a gentle pat on her head from Naja.

"Well, a thousand years ago, I was pretty scary sight to many ponies. Admit it, your kind are kind of a skittish lot. Unless you had lot of confidence, skill with the horn-beams, weapons and a team or an army behind you, to face off with a creature like me. Times where different back then, that much should be obvious."

"Yeah, they sure where. I red some stuff about it. There was no mention of ya though, or anything like ya." AJ joined in the conversation.

"Not surprised. Most in power probably would not want to remember their losses or something like that. Now, I think this is enough soaking for me." Naja said, and started to get up from the spring, causing yet again some spillage, even hitting Raritys mane again.

"Wait. Who sent or hired those mercenaries? If you know who that is..." Twilight finally got up again, asking out of normal curiosity.

"Why the Princess of Equestria of course. She seemed to hold a grudge against me back then, considering she cut my face with a halberd, leaving behind this mark on my face, tried to burn me alive and petrify me, before just locking me up somewhere. Luckily for me, my blades swallowed up the flames, attempted petrification did not work on me and I just hibernated my time in the slammer." Naja answered in a rather nonchalant tone, while drying herself up with the given giant towel, and just left the springs.
She did leave jaw-dropped purple alicorn behind, with her friends, who where also rather surprised about the answer.

Evening, Tanah kahijian main street, start of the Festival...

The streets where packed full of small booths of many sort and creatures, waiting for the festival to begin. Among them where Twilight, her friends and Spike.

"Twi? are you still stressed about what miss Naja said? About Celestia, I think, holding a grudge against her?" Spike asked in a worried tone.

"A little bit, yes. Though there is a chance she was talking about a different princess. I mean there have been few unnamed royals who did things in those days. Right?" Twilight said, not sounding that convinced about her own words.

"I'm sure we can ask about from Celestia when we get back home."

Twilight could only nod to that, before the local festival seemed to start. They saw a large wheeled construct, carrying what looked like a rather badly made wooden lookalike of Celestia, which stopped in the open square.
"Huh... I thought the locals had sour relations with Equestria. Why would they have have a festival with her image in it?" Rainbow wondered aloud. Twilight was also getting confused by this point. These thoughts where interrupted by starting speech from a white hippogriff, wearing a sash with round gems on it.

"Greetings everyone! It is good to see so many present here, despite the recent passing of our eldest... But we must also keep looking forward, if we wish to keep up our shared independence, which was tested on this date... Or a day close to this one, due to a calendar system change at some point during the last millenia... We still decided to keep up with this little tradition, which was partially in a way started by our late eldest." the hippogriff spoke out to the crowd, receiving some applauds from them.
"And now, we even have one the original locals present here. Whom many of you have already seen, but lets give a small applause to Lady Naja."

As if on cue, marilith slithered between two buildings, giving a polite wave to the applauding crowd, while having several of the local kids riding on her tail, having a basket full of visibly overripe mangoes. She stopped right in front of the 'woodlestia'.
"And now, let us start this little event. Kids, if you'd like to begin..."

The little ones gave hippogriff an enthusiastic nod and picked up a mango each... And then proceeded to throw them right at the wooden Celestia-lookalike.
"Oh... Well that explains it." Rainbow commented, rest of them nodding lightly. Twilight on the other hand was very wide-eyed at the sight. Especially when one mango splatted right on the cheek of the wooden lookalike of her mentor, thrown by a thestral filly.
The cheek shot seemed to activate some built-in mechanism, that caused a small flag to rise up in the wooden constructs back part.

"And we have a winning shot!" the sash wearing hippogriff called out, along with few applauds. Twilight wished that this was the only thing this festival. If something more would happen, she just might-.
"Now bring out the torch!"

With this, few creatures brought a rather nice looking torch and gave to the bat winged filly, who looked very excited.
"Lady Naja. Would you do the honors?"

"With pleasure."

With those words, marilith conjured a small flame between her hands and offered it towards the filly, who proceeded to use it light up the torch.
Next thing Twilight saw, really set her off. The filly set the wooden Celestia on fire! And looked happy, along with all of the locals.

"STOP THIS RIGHT NOW!!!" Twilight yelled very loudly, while starting to cast a spell. Specifically a rain-summoning spell and proceeded to put out the fire.


"Uh... Twilight..."


"Everyone is looking at us... An they look rather angry..."

Twilight took a moment to look around, and indeed, EVERY creature was staring at her, looking angry in many ways. While turning, she came face to face with the sash wearing hippogriff, who looked absolutely furious.

"Now I'm sure we can-" Twilight started while keeping up the rain.spell.

"SILENCE!!" hippogriff interrupted loudly, causing Twilights spell to fizzle out almost instantly, even putting out light in purple alicorns horn.

"What! What did you just do? And who are you?"

"I am the Head Sage of The Materia keepers, Hera. And I would like you to STOP interfering with our home towns traditions, which my family line partially started, which is to remind us of our founders burning desire of being independent from alicorn's rule." Hera introduced herself, while casting another magic from the materia on her sash, causing purple alicorn to freeze still like her very time was paused, leaving only her eyes able to move.
"Don't worry, it will wear off in few minutes or so. But I'm afraid I have to send you away from our towns for this offence. And it might just include the rest of you, due to you nationality. I can tell that the all seven of you are from Equestria."

"Y-yes... Can we just get our luggage from the hotel?" Rarity managed to ask politely, while looking rather nervous from all of the stares.

"You may. And there should be a carriage ready to take you to the Equestrian side of the border. Hopefully anyone does not have anything against this?" Hera called out to the crowd, receiving few head shakes. Even from Naja, who looked mostly disappointed on the equestrian group.

It did not take long for the six ponies, one of them still in time-stopped state, and one young dragon to head back to the hotel, gather their luggage, which was partially shoved at them, and head to the carriage station.


Spike turned around to see a familiar kirin, Shera, running towards them, carrying something.
"I just wanted to bring you this." Shera said while giving him a little package, that smelled good. Some homemade snacks for the road.

"Thanks Shera. And sorry about Twilight."

"It's ok. It was not your fault. I hope you can come visit again sometimes. And remember to try some fish, or some meats if possible. It should help with your growth." she said while giving Spike a friendly hug, before leaving either back to the festival or the restaurant.

"...Let's get going. We don't want any more troubles, right?" Spike asked, receiving nods from the rest, sans still time-stopped Twilight.
Soon they where on their way back home, with more than several questions in their minds...









"I just wish that the invite is accepted this time... I truly wish to talk with her..."

"We can only hope sister... She has denied at least thirty or so of those invites."

Chapter 16. The invitation and The Mechanics ride.

View Online

Chapter 16. The invitation and The Mechanics ride.

Two days after Twilights f*ck up at the festival...

After the Equestrians where given a ride back home, things had settled down in both Tanah kahijian and Southpost. After the locals had told about the mess at the festival, any newer tourists luckily understood the mildly cooler reception. This had also starting to wear off, so the local tourism had not suffered too big of a hit due to purple alicorn princesses outburst. Even the resident marilith was a bit hopeful that said mess-up would not sour what little friendship she seemingly had perhaps gained among the six mares and a dragon.

After waking up, still lightly feeling a little stress from the festival debacle, Naja was at the moment having one of her meditation moments at the temples altar-room to calm her nerves for a bit. There was no zen-phase to be reached this time, due to sound of knocking on the side of the doorway.
"Miss Naja? May I have a moment of your time?" asked a familiar voice.

"You may Hera. I was needing an distraction anyways. So what do ya have to say? Hopefully not about the festival mess, since we both pretty much talked it to the ground yesterday." Naja said, turning around to see the white feathered hippogriff, still wearing her sash, with a few materia crystals in it.

"Oh, its not about that. It's more about this." Hera said, while pulling out an opened letter, with Equestrian royal seal on it.
"It just arrived today morning. Even has a post-return-spell on it."

"So what does Equestria want from here, while being polite enough to even send an actual letter to you?" Naja inquired, with a raised brow.

"Basically, it is an invitation to a national diplomatic-ball, once again hosted by Canterlot, and also mildly in the Crystal Empire, due to some flag stuff. Other guests are representatives from other nations and towns."

"So plenty of diplomats talking and otherwise hobnobbing with each other will be arriving there... Have you been in one?"

"Once, with my mother, who has retired from her position in the council. It was about fifteen or so years ago. We had pleasant enough time talking with other representatives, even making a few good starts to a few trade-agreements with some of them... Until the Sun Princess started try and converse with us, I guess trying to receive a forgiveness of sorts from our towns for her past deeds. It soon devolved into a sugared attempts to maybe have us join Equestria proper, 'for the shared prosperity and harmony for all'..."

"And I guess your mother did not take it well?"

"No she did not. My mom pretty much told Celestia to 'shove it', in so many lengthy words, and then we left the ball early. Since then she has declined every invitation; politely if its from a different host, and not so politely if it's hosted by Canterlot. And after she retired, the invites started coming to me... And I'm actually thinking of going."

"To talk to the other representatives?"

"Yes indeed. I plan on talking about few things with them on behalf of the Council... And potentially to tell Princess Celestia to 'shove it' if she tries to talk about us joining Equestria in a wording of any form, if only to follow on my mothers footprints in that. And this invite also includes a 'plus one', so I basically thought if you'd join in. If anything, you could get to know few of the guests there-."

"And maybe talk some past issues through with the princesses?"

"Yes... That too... I hope I did not offend you with this request."

"Not problem. What I'd like to know is how are we going to arrive there? It would take days for me to slither all the way up there. And I think we can both agree on the formal-wear, right?"

"I put on my finer material sash, while we find you a big enough cloth to make an improvised toga? And as for our ride, I have someone in mind. Hope you have good lungs though... You'll see soon why."

Mechanics residence.

"Well, this fellow sure loves technology." Naja commented to Hera, while watching all of the moving metal doohickey's around a rather homey looking house with a fence and large hangar-like building behind it, that was a little walk away from the main town.

"Indeed he does. Cid is the foremost mechanic and pilot around these parts. Aaand maybe just a teensy bit crazy-"

"And has some serious Iron-lungs, with all the smoking he does." came a continuation from a kirin lady, now standing at the houses front yard, with a wheelbarrow full of cigarette-butts.

"Oh, good day Shira. How is your family doing?"

"Great Hera. Hubby is working on final touches on one of his projects, and our daughter, Shera is doing great at her job at her uncle's restaurant. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to haul these in the burn pile and make some tea, before Cid reminds me again" kirin said, and continued to move the wheelbarrow somewhere else.
"You can find Cid in his workshop." she said, just before a small explosion could be heard from the hangar-building. And soon after that, the door in there opened up, letting out a huge amount of smoke, and out stepped a scruffy looking grey colored griffin, covered in some soot, wearing a pilots jacket and goggles. Even under the soot, one could see he had a blonde head-plume.

"Wow, I can't believe that thing actually worked!" he happily yelled in a rough deep voice, while putting cigar on his beak.
"Shira! Can ya make some-"

"Working on it, after this! And you got guests!" Shira yelled back, due to distance.

"Oh hi Hera. What brings ya and snake-butts huge behind here?"

"Well Cid, we happen to be in need of a ride to some diplomatic trip to Equestria. Don't you still have that airship in working order?"

"Sure do. Come in and I'll show it to miss Naja too. Mind the second-hand smoke, even though the explosion displaced some of it."

After this exchange, all three of them went inside the hangar, Naja needing to bend over slightly, in order to avoid the thick layer of smoke stuck in the ceiling. This bird indeed seemed to possess some iron-lungs.
A moment of walking past several piles of metal pieces, including a cannon of sort, they arrived next to an obvious airship. And it sure looked like one capable of hauling heavy cargo.

"I call her, 'Levea Kuljetus', or sometimes, 'The Flying Brick'. It uses something more advanced stuff than just a balloon filled with hot air." Cid said in a very proud tone.

"Really now? So what does it use to get itself flying?" Naja inquired, while looking at the metallic flying machine.

"Something we here named 'Magitek'. Kind of a marriage between magic and technology, which I ain't giving to Equestria, due to plenty of reasons." was his answer.

"Despite his quirks, Cid is actually also a member of the Materia Keepers. He did some experiments with some Thunder-materia, he had bonded with, and noticed that it got along well with some of his prototype machinery. So he experimented some more, and now we have an airship, with tech that would have been 'heretical' in the olden days on Equestrias side." Hera continued telling, while Cid went to check the ship a bit, even showing a panel with some Materia orbs in it, sparking to life in the presence of the griffin mechanic.

"That is truly fascinating..." was all Naja could say.

And on that moment, miles away in Equestria, in Ponyville specifically, Twilight could feel her 'science-sense' tingling. Only to feel its cause coming form the direction of the two free towns, where she pretty much had ban of entering, in all but name... It caused some slight whimpering, before she returned to her books.

Back at Cid's hangar, he had just finished giving a simple rundown about the overall mechanic's of the ship.
"And it can haul about hundred and fifty metric-tons, and yes, I tested it. Should be enough to carry your heavyweight behind without much trouble, right?" he commented while opening up the loading-ramp-doorway, that was wide enough for Naja to fit through.

"It does seem capable of that. Can you warm it up, while we get ready for the trip?" marilith asked.

"Sure can. And while you're leaving, do have some of Shira's GOoODDAMN Tea." was Cid's answer, with a request, emphasized by a swear. He must really do that often.
And the ladies indeed did have a little tea-break, Shira and Hera enjoying a nice cup each, while Naja was given a large bucketful of the warm drink. And it indeed was some really tasty stuff.

It took only few hours for them to get into some formal-wear, Hera wearing her sash that was clearly made of finer material, while Naja just got the agreed on cloth on in toga-style, but still keeping her basic clothes on, just in case if there was a wardrobe malfunction at the ball.
Their departure was only lightly delayed, due to Cid's need to et some of the 'cobwebs' out of the ships engines and took it for few test rounds around both towns, in order to see everything was in order. This did give Naja and Hera some time to tell the news to the locals, and keep the kids away from the ship, just in case.
Said worrying about the kids was fortunately unfounded, thanks to the smell of smoke from the pilot. And little ones parents also helped in this, some with the classic 'when you're older' or something similar points.
The delay also gave Hera a change to send the invite back to the Princess, with a message of her arrival to the ball with a plus one, in a peculiar metallic transport.

"All righty ladies. Your mildly rusting carriage awaits." Cid said in a joking, yet polite, tone with a small bow. And with that permission, they climbed aboard the ship. Hera without any problems, while Naja had to be careful to not put her full weight on the loading ramp, but did eventually got on safely. And of course Cid got on too to drive the thing.
"Ok, now let's go give miss sunshine and miss moonshine a visit!"

With that, the engines roared alive at full, lifting the ship in the air and proceeded to fly towards Equestria. And the engine only coughed up smoke three times before the border, while Cid vented the inside maybe five times in order to get his second-hand smoke out.

Soo many birds dropped down mid-flight behind the ship during those venting's...

Equestria, Canterlot...

Celestia had just finished putting away some documents in office, and was about to prepare for the diplomatic ball, that was starting this evening.
Her thoughts where interrupted by the appearance of another scroll, which seemed to be a returning invitation.

"*sigh* If I have to guess, it's most likely 'the decline number thirty-one'..." she muttered to herself, in a slightly sad tone.
The little sadness subsided fast, being replaced by amazement, when she saw that the answer was actually positive one.

"... Luna!" Celestia suddenly called out for her sister, who arrived there fast.

"WHAT SISTER!?" moon princess yelled back, while almost breaking her sisters office-door. "Did something happen?"

"I just received the invitation to Tanah kahijian representative, miss Hera. And she's even bringing somepo-... Someone with her, in an 'peculiar' airship." Celestia explained in a much more positive-sounding tone.

"Really? Well I guess we shall see who is her plus one when they arrive here. And hope nothing bad happens." Luna said, before proceeding to knock her back hoof against the wooden part of the office-door thrice, maybe trying to use the good old 'knock-on-wood'-thing. One can hope...

Chapter 17 The diplomatic ball.

View Online

Chapter 17 The diplomatic ball.

Canterlot, Royal castle.

The evening had arrived, and with it, the diplomatic ball, this time hosted in Canterlot. Most of the invited guests had arrived with no problems, majority of them receiving a greetings from the Princesses too.
This many visitors also had meant a lot of carriages and even few airships being parked at the castle front-area and in the airdocks respectively.

At the airdocks where only a couple of castle personnel, waiting any new arrivals. They where even told to be on the lookout for a 'peculiar' looking airship, that apparently was bringing a visitor from their southern neighbours. They even had received this info from the princesses themselves.

"Seeing anything yet?" one of the castle guards, doing the basic patrol rounds, asked from the castle staff member, who was sitting with the dock workers.

"Not sure. All I can see in the horizon is that large puff of smoke, that seems to be moving... Wait, there is something in it!"

And there indeed was an airship, design unlike anything seen in Equestria. It seemed to vent the seen smoke, maybe around two or three times more, before it started to slowly land in the vacant landing-platform.
Both the guard and the staff member where amazed by the look of the ship. Mostly how it even flies without anything visible lifting it up in the air.

After the ship had landed, it once again let out a little bit of smoke, before a door in its side opened up and out flew a hippogriff, wearing a fine looking sash and soon after a pilot jacket wearing griffin. The latter did not seem to notice the remaining smoke, while the hippogriff was coughing a lot.
"Sorry, I think the venting system seems to still have some hiccups in it." the griffing said casually to the hippogriff, while lighting up a homemade looking cigarette.

"You THINK??? Whatever Cid, just get Naja out, before she suffocates in there."

"Roger ma'am." Cid said while going to do just that. After few button presses later, a ramp was lowered in the back of the ship. And almost on the opening second, something big started moving inside.
"Easy there. Just back it up slowly. 'Beep, beep, beep, beep...-'" Cid called out, and then proceeded to do an obnoxious beeping sound, like what someone does to help a wagon or carriage to back up.

And out down the ramp came a huge, purple snake-tail. Soon the whole loosely coiled up serpentine mass had come out. Luckily there was more than enough room. Next the head-end rose up from the coils, revealing a six-armed, humanoid body, wearing a toga. And this creature also coughed a little.
"*cough*'Esuna'..." the snake-lady coughed up in a whispery tone, like she was verbally saying a spell, which in turn caused a dim bluish light to appear on one of her hands. she proceeded to bring the glowing hand on her chest, and it seemed to ease the coughing immediately.
"*inhale* Much better. You really need to enhance the ventilation in this mechanical beauty. Need a refresher Hera?"

"Yes please, Naja" she answered back, and soon both of them had clean lungs once more.

"Umm... Who do we have the pleasure of announcing?" the castle staff member asked, seeming a little wary of Naja, mostly due to her size and overall exoticness.

"Head Sage Hera, representing the free towns of Tanah kahijian and Southport. With me is my 'plus one', Lady Naja." Hera introduced herself and Naja as well, who gave the ponies present a polite nod. "And the chain smoker-supreme, is our pilot, Cid."
"Who'd like to inform that I have a serious 'no-touch'-policy on my ship, concerning the non-passengers. Meaning I WILL slap any overly curious-touchy-pony... HARD..."

"...Noted. Now allow me to guide to the reception hall. From there you can proceed to the main ball-room."

Leaving Cid to watch over his ship, Hera and Naja followed after the castle staff member. Naja obviously needing to slither a lot slower in order to avoid bumping into anyone.

Main reception hall.

"Welcome to the ball. Please, enjoy your time here." Celestia said politely, maybe a hundredth or so time this evening, to another guest, who gave a polite bow to her and left to the main ball room.
Luckily for the sun princessess sanity, her sister was with her, standing right next to her, also taking part in the greeting process. Even the knowledge of Twilight and her friends also being in this ball calmed her well. Her star-pupil, and now also a fellow princess, had even asked to talk about something when they had the time.

"Doing great sister. I think there should not be that many more guest coming this way. Then you can go talk to Twilight." Luna whispered to Celestia.

"I know sister. If only this could be only a little less boring. But thank you for being here."

"No problem sister."

The two of them proceeded to greet a few more officials from some of the towns, until the staff member blew the announce-horn.

"Announcing, the Head Sage Hera from the free towns of Tanah kahijian and Southport,-" this announcement made Celestia look up, and saw a familiar looking hippogriff, whom she remembered seeing once before as a little one with its mother, now an adult. Something that still pulled her feelings every time she saw or met someone she had seen before-
"- and her plus one guest, Lady Naja!" the announcement finished up.´, causing Celestia to visibly stiffen a bit. Maybe even more so, when she saw a very, VERY familiar serpentine creature enter, wearing a modest toga.

The sudden stiffness was mostly caused by the single fact, that Celestia was completely unprepared for this. She had hoped to maybe patiently plan for the eventual negotiations or similar talks with Naja. And now she was right there, slowly slithering right towards her and Luna, who looked a little surprised, but managed to look a lot more calm.
Celestia was still stiff and silent, when the new guests reached them. Luckily guards present did not do anything aggressive; they mostly stared in awe at the serpentine creature and they where ordered beforehand by the princessess to only act if something actually hostile happened.

"Welcome to the ball, miss Hera. We hope you and your friend enjoy your time here." Luna greeted them, snapping Celestia out of her stupor.

"Thank you, Princess Luna. We hope the same for you as well." Hera answered, giving a polite nod to them. Naja followed with a small bow for her size, all of her hands in a different crossed position.
"Yes, hopefully nothing will ruin this event. And sorry for messing the carpet position here, but what can one do while possessing an ample rear-end coils moving around." Naja commented calmly, before following after Hera to the main ballroom, leaving behind a messily rolled carpet. Luckily the doorway was large enough for someone of mariliths size to enter without any trouble.

"...She's... She's here... She's actually here, right now..." Celestia managed to croak out, after finding her voice again.

"Yes sister, and she is a guest here. No need to get nervous." Luna tried to calm her sister down a bit.
"I can go do some pre-talk with them if you'd like some little extra time to think a way to talk to her."

"Yes, you do that. I do need calm my nerves a bit. Several more greetings should do it."

With this decision, Luna headed for the ball room, leaving Celestia to calm herself with the arriving guests. While this was happening, the castle maids went to straighten the carpet. Luckily there was no damage to the floor itself, other than few barely visible cracks on some of the tiles. Maybe floor itself was just sturdier stuff.

Needless to say, plenty of the local nobles, who had either gotten an mandatory-invitation, or had payed their way in some way, got silent as a hippogriff entered, followed by a marilith. And unsurprisingly, soon the initial silence turned into whispers and talks about the newly arrived duo.

"What is such a lowly hybrid doing here in this event?"

"Why are animals allowed here??"

"Oh great, the southern rabble is here."

There was plenty more of such comments, more or less racist or otherwise Equestrian nobles using demeaning terms about the two arrivals, who simply ignored them.
"Some hospitality from the so-called 'elite' of this society, that prides itself of being friendly and harmonious." Hera commented in a very calm manner, like she had expected this.

"Sure seems like it. I´guess some fancy looking fruits just like to stay in the tree and never leave it, and soon start to rot from the inside..." Naja said, making sure some of the closest pony snobs could hear them. She was not sure if some of them even understood the fruit metaphor.
"Luckily there should be at least one or two good ones present."

Not really stopping to talk to any of the nearest nobles, all of them giving either scared or elitist looks at them, two of them simply headed to the buffet table, which luckily was stocked for multiple species diets.
"Good evening ladies. What would you like?" table server asked, clearly managing to keep her cool before a much larger creature.

"I'd have some thin cut meat, please." Hera requested politely, and soon got a small plate, full of some finely cut slices of actual meat, not some fake stuff.

"Nothing much to me, I ate before coming here. But I would like something to drink, if you have a big enough glass for that." was Najas request, also in polite tone.

"Hmmm... Well I guess you can just take the punchbowl, we can order another one from the kitchens." server thought for a moment, before pointing at the said bowl.

"Why thank you." Naja said while picking up the fullish punchbowl on her hand. After that, they proceeded to find a free table in the hall, eventually finding one that was far enough from other tables. Not because they wanted privacy, but more due to Najas ample rears room-requirement in its 'lazy-coiled'-form, even though they would be able to have a private conversation there.
"So? How long until we get some conversation company?"

"I think it depends on what type will approach first."

Twilight was sitting on a bench at the castle gardens, looking at the evening sky, while thinking about several things. On top of the list at the moment where many questions to her mentor, concerning the two free towns down south. She wanted to know what the Sun princess had actually done in there to cause such sour relations between Equestria and the free towns, to an extent of kicking her and her friends out of town.
Well, the latter was mostly thanks to her losing her cool and ruining a local festival, which she felt a bit bad after thinking it over at the library.

This was followed by all of the questions she wished to ask from the marilith Naja, and maybe also the Head Sage Hera, mainly about their magic. Naja apparently had natural affinity to some magic, proven by her disappearing act back in Ponyville, and Hera seemed to wield magic strong enough to overpower and temporarily shut down magic of an alicorn. Her neck was still a tiny bit sore after the odd 'stopping-spell'. She had not never read about that type of time-magic, only other she knew being the time-travel-spell. Only had to hope that there was a chance to actually talk about that.

"Hey, Twi!" came a sudden shout, snapping purple alicorn out of her thoughts.

"What is it Rainbow?"

"There is this awesome airship at the dock, that just arrived! I would have checked it closer, but its foulmouthed griffin pilot threatened me away with a mop, saying that I can watch at a distance but not touch. And maybe there was some kid of breathing room thing too. Oh and that Naja lady and the hippogriff miss who 'time-froze' you, just arrived to the ballroom." colorful pegasus gushed about the airship, before telling about the new arrivals.

"They are?!" Twilight yelled in a rather excited tone.

"Easy Twi. You don't want to get frozen again?" Rainbow warned, surprisingly being the voice-of-reason at the time.

"No worries Dash. I managed to think only ten or so questions to try and ask from them." Twilight said, while heading to the direction of the ball room, Rainbow following after her just in case.

"Why good evening Naja. It's been a short while." a voice greeted the marilith politely, making her turn her head to its direction.

"Oh, hello there Bluey. I see you have no trouble walking, after your previous stay?" Naja said with a kind smile.

"Plenty of experience and practice, with all three." Blueblood commented back, then noticed the white hippogriff lady.
"Hera..." he said with a tiny bit of tone of being intimidated.

"Hello Bluey." Hera said back.

"Sooo... Is there something going on I'm not aware of?" Naja asked.

"Well let's just say that me and Scarlet are best of friends, and I might have tossed them out, after they ended up getting a bit too comfy on my couch, which I had to burn after failing to clean it." was Hera's answer, followed by her eating a couple of meat slices.

"You pushed Scarlet out in a fit at the time, and sent me flying with one of your gravity spells. I was sore downstairs for a week, even with the help from my ladies."

"And we all did talk it trough, several times in fact. Oh and Scarlet mentioned that you apparently still find my rear attractive."

"Which I'm ok of just looking, but not touching. I like to keep my hooves intact."

"Good boy. Just be happy with the booty you have."

During this exchange, Naja could not help but to smirk a little bit, followed by a sip of her drink, clearly finding it very entertaining. These two clearly had a fun history behind them, with Hera clearly being the more authoritative of the two.

"Well, I wish I could catch up with you a bit longer, but unfortunately my status requires I have to go talk to some other nobles, and act like a total rear-end while doing it. If you happen to need a place to sleep during your stay, my manor's door is open for you both and for your ship's pilot too." Blueblood said, before giving them a polite nod and heading to the other part of the ballroom.

"Say Hera. Who do you think will approach us next?" Naja inquired.

"Well, if I where a betting bird, I'd say one or two of the prin-" Hera answered, before being interrupted by two near simultaneous greetings.

"E-evening you two..."
"Greetings you two."

"Well, looks like you would've won that bet." Naja commented, while taking a look at the greeters. Who turned out to be the blue Princess of dreams and the purple troublemaker, both of the now noticing each other. And Rainbow Dash was there too, giving marilith a polite wave.
"Good evening Princess Luna, and you too purple nuisance I guess." Hera said evenly, slightly glaring at the purple alicorn, making her visibly flinch.

"Heheh... Yes, I'm really, REALLY sorry about what happened, please don't freeze me again..." Twilight said, sounding rather scared, even with her ears folded down in a submissive manner.
"No worries of that, as long as you behave when talking about cultural things of others." was Heras answer.

"Did something happen I should be aware of?" Luna asked.

"To put it simply, purple Twiggles here interrupted a festival at Tanah kahijian and got herself 'stopped' by Hera and kicked out of both towns until further notice." Naja explained rather nonchalantly.
"So what brings you here Luna? Hopefully not to find the answer to what I mentioned during our dream-chat... The answer is 'flexibly', if it even matters." she added with a small smile, causing blue princess to blush a little bit, clearly remembering what marilith was talking about.

"N-no, I did not need that information. I mostly came to have a friendly conversation with you, since talking in the dream-realm can have its own problems. And maybe give some time for my sister to get her nerves in order before coming here to talk herself."

"Well that is kind of you to do fo your sister. And I think purple one has questions about somethings? Thanks to very mild drinking, I just MIGHT answer to some of them, IF I feel like it. Capiche?" Naja said, while lifting her drink a bit.

"Y-yes ma'am..." Twilight said meekly, glancing at Hera, as if still fearing another 'freeze'-treatment from the hippogriff lady.

"Normally I would stay and talk, but I think I see some of the representatives I came to talk to. Will you survive if I leave for a short moment?" Hera said, even pointing at the direction of some other non-pony guests.

"I think so. Go ahead Hera." Naja answered with a nod to the white hippogriff, who then headed to mingle with the other guests, leaving marilith with the two alicorns, and one pegasus, for a moment.
"So? What do want to know, Twiggles?"

"Can you maybe please stop calling me that?" Twilight requested.

"Hmmmm... No. Anything else?"

"Oh! How did you pull that floating and disappearing thing in Ponyville? Spike mentioned it." Dash butted in, before Twilight could ask anything.

"Oh that? I just had some materia up my sleeve, so to speak."

"What is this 'materia', if it is all right to ask?" Luna asked, before Twiligh could.

"Simply said, a crystallized mass of wild magic that I have managed to create through meditation. And don't ask about the process, because even I don't know how it works."

"Can you show one, or give just a small piece of one to study?" Twilight quickly blurted out her question. The latter half of the question made Naja visibly upset, even giving Twilight a piercing glare, which made her take a reactionary step back. Luna, and even Rainbow, got serious chills down their spine, just at the sight of said glare, wishing that nothing violently bad would happen due to this question.
"Absolutely not... THE biggest reason being that the materia-crystals themselves, are legitimately ALIVE... Would you harm a living being, even if it has an 'mineral'-based form, for small piece of knowledge?"

"N-no... I would not... Sorry if I offended you..."

"Forgiven, but not forgotten. And other reason is that materia likes to bond with the wielder, depending on both the wielder and the materia itself. And I think you would need some serious pre-training before even considering of thinking about the task of bonding."

"Why's that? Is there some special stuff required?" Rainbow asked.

"Well, can Twiggles sit still meditating? WITHOUT doing ANYTHING else, but breathe?"

"*Pfffff-* No way she can. Twi needs books almost anywhere according to Spike." pegasus said, while holding back laughter. Even Luna had a small smirk on her face. Twilight just looked embarrassed.
"So there is a important spiritual aspect to this materia bonding?" Luna inquired curiously.

"In a certain way. Materia's nature's vary greatly, as with any other being. These day, I have a good skill in said bonding, thanks to my overall experience. Well, maybe Hermes or Hera might have a little bit higher skill in bonding due to my absence. I still remember Hermes being first to bond with a Red materia at a rather young age back in the day." Naja explained, drifting bit to her memories.

"Why thank you miss Naja. It is good to hear you held my grampy Hermes in high regard." came out Heras voice. It would seem she had only had a short chat with the other guests she went to talk to.
"That is an understatement Hera. Your grampy could reflect a powerful magic attack with relative ease soon after initial bonding, wrecking some small islet. He was starting to improve a lot, before my forced absence. How was the talk?" Naja said with a smile, followed by a question.

"Agreed to talk with them about things in detail later in private. Any trouble with present ponies?"

"Not really. They asked a couple of questions about materia, and I told some very basic things about it. Nothing advanced, so no fear of any secrets leaking out."

"Good. The materia is one of the few defences we have against any potential attacks our town have prepared for... Just in case something bad happens." Hera commented, giving a light sideway glance at Twilight and Luna, as if trying to subtlety warn the two of not getting any ideas.

"So? is there anything else you'd like to talk about? That is not about the materia."

'All right Celestia. Just try and stay calm. It's just a casual conversation during a ball, not a high-strung situation waiting to explode..." Celestia thought to herself, while walking across the ballroom, receiving several polite, or rather hoof-licking, greetings and bows from the nobles.
She mostly gave a polite nod back to them, while her eyes where locked a the purple serpentine being at the little more private area of the room. Luna and Twilight seemed to be doing fine there, and Rainbow was there too.

After what felt like a small eternity, Celestia finally came to the hearing distance from the group. From what she could hear, they where talking about one of Twilight's experiments and about an airship owned by somepony named Cid.
Before Celestia took a step closer, she oddly had a short flashback about her old personal-trainer from almost a century ago; a large, wide-shouldered, brown furred minotaur with a metallic prosthetic-arm... Telling her his quote; "Don't f*ck up..." in a very threatening tone.

"Oh, evening Princess Celestia. Are you going to potentially join our company, or just keep standing there, seemingly awkwardly sweating?" a familiar white hippogriff asked.

"Here, let me make some room." marilith commented, while coiling up a little bit more compact form, causing some tiny cracks on the floor-tiles. Taking the offered space, Celestia took a seat right next to the purple scaled coils, feeling a little tense out of instinct and past memories.
But this was now, she had grown a lot since then.

"Sooo... Ummm... How have you enjoyed the ball?" white alicorn managed to ask after short moment of thinking. This caused a raised brow from both hippogriff and marilith. Even Twilight and Rainbow looked a bit nonplussed about the way Princess did the question, while Luna rubbed the bridge of her snout for some reason.

"It's so-so. Server was nice, and a majority of the other pony guests have whispered some demeaning things behind our backs." Naja commented nonchalantly.
"Is there perhaps some unspoken rule that exempts the nobility from being harmonious and friendly to others?"

"I'm sorry about that. Sometimes the elite of society might end up looking down on others." was Celestias lightly disappointed answer.

"'Elite' being VERY subjective..." Hera said with an ample eye-roll.

"You must be Hera, yes? You have indeed grown a lot since I last saw you. How is your mother doing, if I may ask?"

"Almost fifteen or so years will do that to a little ones. And my mother is enjoying her well deserved retirement. Something I bet you won't be seeing in the near future."

This comment made almost everyone go silent, only for it to be broken by sudden laugh... Coming from the direction of Naja's chest.

"BffffffHAHAHAHAHAAHAAHA!!! BUUURNN!!! SHE GOT YOU THERE SUNBUTT!!!" came the laughing voice of some creature, made up from several parts of different creatures, that had somehow found its way right between the marilith's toga covered bosom.
"THAT WON'T BE HAPPENING FOR ALONG WHI-Aaaaaarghhh" creature continued, only to be silenced by bluish hand, closed around its neck, squeezing rather hard on the windpipe, proceeding to pull it out.

"Now, who are you, and give me say... Forty-two different reasons why I should not strangle you for invasion of my personal-intimate-space?" Naja said in a very threatening tone, while holding the mishmash of a creature, now with three hands. All of them having a tight grip.

"D-discord is my name. Spirit of Chaos and disharmony, and can't really think that many reasons when I'm being uuuuurrrrrrgh..." being named Discord croaked out, before getting cut off by Naja's strangle-hold.
"Better think quick, because I don't take too kindly to those who get up my chest without consent. It makes rather... Irritated." was Naja's rather cold answer.

"Um, miss Naja? Could you maybe let Discord go, just this once? If it's ok?" came a gentle voice next to them. A turn of a head revealed a familiar yellow pegasus with a pink mane.
"Well... All right then, Fluttershy right?" Naja relented, while receiving a nod from the timid pegasus, letting go of the hacking Chaos spirit.
"Thanks to Flutters, you got a one free-pass Discord. Don't waste it..."

"Ok... Well, off to annoy somepony else." Discord said, before disappearing with a snap of his fingers. Fluttershy went somewhere, most likely to keep an eye on the chaos-spirit, after giving Naja a polite bow.

"So you have a Spirit of chaos as an ally? Rather odd for a nation that is apparently heavily about Harmony for ponies, from what I have heard." Naja commented, while taking another sip from her drink.

"Well Discord used to be evil trickster, but we defeated him a while back. And just recently Flutters helped a lot in reforming him." Rainbow said.

"I thought that if he is taught about the magic of friendship, his powers could be used for good. And luckily it has worked well." Celestia added, maybe a little proud of the said plan working in the end.

"And do you have any safeguards in the case he would turn on you? He sounds a bit of an wildcard in many ways." Naja questioned with a raised brow.

"Are you saying that he might betray our friendship?" Twilight asked.

"I'm just saying, that one can never be too careful when dealing with, what I presume is, a natural tricksters with a powerful magic on his side. You never know if he gets a 'better offer' from someone and messes up your nation for sh*t and giggles."

"If I may interject, Discord really seems to enjoy Fluttershy's company to even think of betrayal." came another voice, this time from a pink alicorn with a white, blue mane unicorn with her.

"And who might you be? Princess Bubblegum?"

"Well that's a new one. I am Princess Mi amore Cadenza of the Crystal Empire, but just Cadence is fine. And this is my husband, Shining Armor." Cadence introduces herself and Shining, who gave a simple nod to marilith.

"Cadence!" Twlight exclaimed happily, then proceeded to do some kind of dance with the pink one, with a happy rhyme included.

"Sunshine, sunshine, ladybugs awake! Clap your hooves and do a little shake!"

This was followed by a increasingly oud cracking sound, as Twilight's hoof hit one of the thin cracks, caused by mariliths natural weight, making it grow at a comically rapid pace. The result was it spreading to all the other cracks on the floor around Naja finally giving in and breaking apart, causing the floor to collapse under her coils, which made ponies around her to take a step back, while Naja and Hera where rather calm about it. Luckily the drop was not that deep; Naja's head only was now on the floor-level of the ballroom.

"...There's a coin under the table."

"Once again, sorry for the floor collapse. The dance is just a thing me and Twi do when meeting after a while." Cadance apologized maybe a third time to Naja, after they had gotten her back from the hole, which was being fixed, and strengthened, behind them. by few guards and Celestia.

"And I say, once again, its not a problem Empress Cadance. I have experienced much worse than a faulty floor." Naja said back, with a casual hand wave of her middle-lefty, which was also holding the found coin nimbly between its fingers.
"Plus, I didn't even spill my drink."

"It's Princess, miss Naja."

"No, if you rule an empire, you're either a Queen or an Empress."

"Crystal Empire is actually a city, that is doing just fine, without me changing my title.

"Wait. If it is a city, shouldn't it be, say a 'Crystal city'? To my knowledge, Empire by definition usually means a group of states or countries ruled over by a single monarch, an oligarchy, or a sovereign state. Now that I say it aloud, Equestria almost fits the bill in some ways, when you think of it."

"I assure you, Equestria is not an empire, and it has been a long tradition to use titles of 'prince' and 'princess' among royalty." Celestia joined in the conversation. The hole was getting new tiles behind her, Twilight helping guards this time.

"Oh? Since when, may I ask?" Naja inquired.

"Ever since our mother left. She allowed us to keep the title, since usually the 'promotion' to actual title of a King or a Queen would require a prince or a princess to both be married and having no other on the same level after that. And since our sister is still *cough*desperate*cough* single and that Equestria's power-structure is officially more of a diarchy, there has been no King or Queen for about thousand years or so." Luna explained, also joining in the conversation as well.

"Ah yes, I think I remember seeing her once. You where just a little foal, sleeping during it back then. And I think you are still cute as you where back then, as far as I remember."

"... Well, thank you." Luna managed to say, with a light blush, while hoping her sister not snapping of the indirect reminder of the said day. The day when their late father died when chasing after this serpentine being, as mother told her when she was old enough.

"Y-you... Actually have seen Queen Faust, when Princess Luna was a foal???" Twilight piped in, having been listening their conversation, looking very curious.

"I did. Even saw her racist, or maybe rather speciest, piece of work of a husband. I was caught by some manner of a carnival runner while sleeping. Broke out of the cage, stabbed the ringmaster and fled. Only for the King to try and chase me..."

"What happened then?..." Twilight asked. Even Rainbow looked a bit curious, while Celestia seemed to be experiencing a flashback of the said event.

"Well, to put it in simplest of words; In a fit of rabidly growing anger, due to being chased by a murderous individual... I killed him out of instinctual act of self-preservation, with this spell." Naja answered calmly, sounding a teensy bit sad-like, followed by her raising one hand held open, closing it into a fist, causing a small firecracker-like explosion to happen on her eye-level. Maybe to keep the spell from hurting anyone by accident.

"Wow... Was the spell, like boosted by that anger, making the explosion bigger?" Rainbow asked, almost excitedly. Twilight was rather wide eyed.

"Pretty much, yes. Aside from me, there was only one witness to it... And she's standing right next to you." Naja said, proceeding to point at someone. Who turned out to be Celestia, who came came back from her flashback.

"Is...Is this true???"Twilight asked Celestia, after finding her voice. Even Luna was looking at her sister, maybe prepared to step in if something happened.

"...Yes... It hurt so much to witness it... I was very young and temperamental back then, but it does not excuse my actions of sending out wanted posters, nearly bankrupting the nation... Or my unprovoked attack when seeing you again, the duel, the second attack, my decision of banishing you to Tartarus..." Celestia began saying, looking rather ashamed.
"And after thinking it through a long while, it may have been for the better for many things in the long run, for my late father to go, due to his violent tendencies in politics. For what it's worth... I am truly sorry for what I did to you... And hoping for a chance of forgiveness in turn..." she continued, even lowering her head, waiting for the potential answer from Naja.

Pretty much everyone near them was looking at them, clearly waiting for something to happen. Finally Naja indeed did something. Which was to simply pet the white alicorns head with one of her hands.

"...Forgiven, but not forgotten..." Naja said calmly, accompanied with a small head tilt.

Celestia lifted her head, looking very relieved. Before she could say anything, she was silenced by finger on her nose.

"BUT, I am are still rather sore-ish about the whole imprisonment-thing. It was maybe... Nine hundred and fifty years too long, considering my crime on you was done in self-defence situation. And maybe a little more sore about the said imprisonment separating me from my friends for a long, looong time... While being chained up in some cave, that you apparently have named with the same name as THE worst place in afterlife back in my home world. All the while you sat on your 'ivory tower', ruling over a nation that adored you, like a fluffing goddess. And it did cause some problem with your sister, if the history books are to be believed." she continued, still in a calm tone.
"So, you can consider yourself on some manner of probation period. In other words... Don't...F*ck...Up... Are we clear?"

"Very. I would like to talk more with you and Hera, but it would seem that my former pupil has had a mild stroke from hearing all of this. It would be better that I confirm them to her in a more private place." Celestia said, while also glancing at the purple alicorn, who was frozen still, with her mouth hanging open.

"And I will be coming with you, to ensure you don't twist anything about potential answers to her..." Luna added in a rather serious tone.

With that, the two princessess carried the newest of them somewhere else to recover, leaving Naja with Cadance, Shining and Rainbow. And as a bonus, the floor was now fixed.

"So, what are you Princess of?" Naja asked from Cadence.

"Oh, I'm the Princess of Love... It means I can help and give good advice to couples of all sorts with their emotions, and if necessary enhance them momentarily. I don't and can't make anyone actually fall in love... So many lawsuit attempts back in those days... It needs to happen naturally, meaning that no magic or potion or some other stuff won't cause REAL-love to happen." Cadence explained, remembering some things of her past, when her talent started blooming, causing some confusion.

"Good. Nothing good ever comes from forced affection." marilith concurred with a nod.

"Agreed... Sooo... Is there any-... Creature that has caught your eye?" pink princess agreed, followed by an excited question, with a somewhat unnerving smile.

"Ooh boy, she's on her 'matchmaker'-mode now..." Shining Armor commented when seeing his wife's expression.

"Uuuh... Not really, due to me being a rather unique being in this world. Besides, who would want a lady with a two-ton rear-end that can crush stone with ease. And then there's the danger of my nightly coiling crushing the potential partner. Used to try using a pole of wood to control the instinct, only to find it broken to pieces when waking up." Naja explained, while giving her tail a light pat to emphasize her point.

"Oh don't worry, I'm certain that there is someone out there for you, despite your size and the rest of your 'package'. After all love always finds a way." Cadence said, giving Naja a knowing wink.

"So do death, evil, war, money, taxes, the flu and some other more or less nasty things, like say; A sealed away entity from the distant past. No offence meant, your view is nice to hold on to." Naja commented half-jokingly.

"... Yeah, those are true too...Well I hope we can talk more later. Me and Shining have to soon go back to the Empire to prepare some things for the visit of duke and duchess of Maretonia. So, see you later then I guess." Cadance said, soon walking elsewhere with Shining following behind her.

"They seem like a nice couple." Naja said, with Hera nodding in agreement.

Later at the ballroom balcony...

"So, the whole party has been rather decent for now." marilith commented, while looking at the now starry sky with Hera, both having finished their chosen refreshments and after listening almost an hour-long explanation from Rainbow about The Wonderbolts, before she went to look for her friends.

"Indeed it was. And luckily no other nobles tried to come and talk crap about us." Hera added.

"So how do you think Cid is doing?"

"Well considering the lack of his odour, he is most likely still with the ship, potentially keeping too curious ponies away with a mop. He used wield a spear and some other pole-weapons one time."

"Sounds interesting."

They traded few more good hearted barbs about few more random things, before they heard a polite cough behind them. And there stood Celestia.

"Oh, hello again Celestia. Is Twiggles functional again?" Naja asked.

"Yes, Twilight has recovered and is spending some time with her friends. They should be heading back to Ponyville in the night train by now. She just had to go write her mental notes in her little research papers at the Golden Oaks library. Sometimes she's more of a scholar than... Oh who am I kidding, she has always been a scholar." white alicorn said.

"I sensed those kind of vibes off from her during our conversation. If only she was a bit more calm during her recent visit to our towns, I would have been clad to maybe tell her some things about our magic." Hera joined in.

"Yes, she did mention her mess up during our conversation after recovering from her stroke. She has always put me on a pedestal ever since she was a fresh student in my school. If only she would get out from her books more, maybe even find a nice stallion."

"So basically she is into books more than socializing with the members of opposite gender, and maybe actually getting some action, outside of some erotic novels?"

"Well... Pretty much on the point miss Naja. Even Twilight's mother has been asking about her dating life, and she has asked me for an advice. I can only tell her to try and go outside and socialize. And she still hasn't done anything like that, from what I hear."

"Give it time. Maybe one day she finds some nice male to study with... So any other reason you came to talk to us?" Hera said in positive tone, switching to more even tone when asking her question.

"Well, actually yes... I hoped if we could schedule a negotiations for potential talks of diplomatic relations between your towns an Equestria. I mean of course trade routes and the like." was Celestias hopeful request.

"It is not my place to decide such a thing. I may hold a rather high position in my community, but I don't hold any politically official sway over the Council's decision on the matter. But I can pass on your message, but the decision most likely will take time" Hera answered.
"But I warn you... Like my mother, majority 'cough*allofthem*cough* of the Council will not appreciate any attempt or suggestion of trying to get us to join your nation, and we like our independence very much. So if these talks do happen, you better choose your representatives wisely. Because if there is even a hidden attempt of trying to get something off from us, without something of equal value given in return, the talks are over in an instant... I hope that part is clear?"

"Crystal. I hope the answer won't take long... May I offer the castle guestrooms for your use?"

"No need for that. Your nice nephew has already offered a spot in his manor for our stay." Naja commented, while starting to slither her way towards the airship-docks, with Hera following next to her.
"Have a good night." Naja said, while shivering very slightly due to some errant whiff of cool night breeze.

With that, the two left Celestia standing alone on the balcony, clearly confused.

"Did... Did they just call my nephew nice? Maybe I should go get my ears checked?"

Later at Bluebloods manor garden...

"And that should be all for today sir."

"Good to know. I hope you enjoy your day off tomorrow."

Blueblood looked after his trusty butler leaving the garden, while enjoying some nice hot drink himself. Unfortunately his thoughts where interrupted by a horrid stench, that was similar to a tobacco of sorts. This was followd by a hum of an engine, which source was revealed to be an airship, hovering right above the manor garden. Obviously several manor workers came out to look what was happening.
And soon it landed, crushing some really ugly flowers nopony had tended to properly for ages. Followed by ships door and ramp opening and a familiar duo consisting of hippogrfii and a marilith, soon followed by a griffin in a pilot jacket.

"Sorry for the flowers, but had get a good landing angle so the ramp had room behind it. Oh and mah name's Cid." griffin said, while lighting another smoke.

"It's no problem. Never really liked those specific ones all that much. And I guess this is about my offer earlier?" Bluey said, while making a small bubble of breathable air around his snout.

"Yes indeed Bluey. We would appreciate a trustworthy place to stay, while Cid does some small fixing up with the engines of the ship." Hera answered, nodding a bit at the back of the ship.

"I told that pink-hyper-pony to not touch it, and unsurprisingly, she ended up breaking something on it, messing the engine up for long range flight. And I don't really like the idea of stopping over a dozen times to fix it during a trip home." Cid explained a bit.

"And I think she also learned her lesson after those few whacks from your mop. Also our lungs would like if you did something to the ventilation system." Hera added.

"Yeah, whatever, I'll see what I can do, but it might take a couple of days at most if you want a direct flight back home."

"That's fine by me. If thing's go well, nothing too bad should happen in those couple of days." Naja said, soon following after one of the manors maids showing her way in from a side-loading door for supplies.











Somewhere else a couple of days later...

"'Is he friend, or is he foe?' the pony wonders. I can assure you... I am no friend. I am Lord Tirek, and I will take what should have been mine long ago."

Intimidatingly glowing yellow eyes fading to dark... The glow transferring into a two pieces of jewelry... Simple rings, worn in two hands. One slender and lightly blue, held gently by the other, a muscular red-

*PANICKEDGASP* Celestia reacted to her dream, waking up with a start.

"Sister, are you alright?!" came a worried question from Luna, who had rushed in the bedroom.

"I just had the most terrible dream." white alicorn said, sounding lightly scared.

"Why do you think I am here? You know as well as I that this was not a dream, but a vision of potential things to come..."

"Then we don't have much time.. The stronger he becomes, the more we are all in danger... Maybe even significantly already..."

Chapter 18 Horned one's second arrival.

View Online

Chapter 18 Horned one's second arrival. (Stupid-pill warning)

Blueblood manor's garden.

"How are things going in there Cid? You've been in there for an hour. Or are you jacking off in there?"

"Far from it snakebutt! Already did that earlier. And this engine still has some issues in it. Those said issues being some darn tits, that flew in here during our trip here from that excuse of a castle. Now I have clear those fried turd sized birds out of here, and I bet we don't want them messing up any exhaust or cause engine to blow up on the way home."

"Just get it fixed Cid. Hera is slowly starting to get a little homesick."

"I'll try, but will not be making promises."

This exchange was followed by a small explosion from the airship engine, where Cid had crawled in a while ago to do some repairs, accompanied with some black smoke as well.
"I'm alright! This smoke ain't nothing compared to what my daily cig's produce!" the pilot griffin called out, soon followed by the sound of wrench cranking on something.

Three of them had been staying at Bluebloods manor for a couple of days by now, none of them not really leaving to have a look around the Canterlot of their own choice. One the reasons being not wanting to deal with all of the potential "head-up-their-plot-"upper-crust"" of the city.
Luckily for them, Bluey had also stayed with them, while being a really good host for them.

Only news they have gotten about the Royal Sisters is about them, along with Twiggles and her merry band heading to Crystal empire soon after the ball. After them returning from there just yesterday, not much was told about the happenings from there, even when Bluey had asked about how the trip had gone. Only thing he could gather was that Celestia seemed to be really worried about something, apparently muttering something about Discord.
After waiting for an another explosion for a couple of minutes, Naja decided to go check up on Hera, who had gone to the second garden on the other side of the manor.

Her careful slithering on the connecting path was momentarily interrupted by a sound of breaking stone. One quick glance revealed a rather expensive looking marble bust of somepony, laying broken on the ground, thanks to her ample tail-side.
"Just so you know, that marble bust was maybe over a seven hundred years old..." came Bluebloods voice behind a tree next to the broken marble bust, followed by him coming out from behind the said tree, holding a book in his magic.
"And I absolutely hated it, due to it being an image of my family trees worst member, in my opinion."

"Oh? Who was he or she?"

"To put it 'nicely', the worst kind of blood-purist, maybe after the late King, who also thought that unicorns should kill any other species to 'gain their divine right as rulers of the world'. It didn't go anywhere luckily, and according to the family story he was hanged, drawn and quartered by his own slave-troops and descendants before my aunt could decide what to do about him... It was a crazy time, and almost no one remembers his name... So yeah, good riddance to a lump of rock, that had the displeasure of being carved to look like him."

"After hearing that, I'm rather inclined to agree. Have fun with the book, and mind my tail." Naja said to him, continuing her slithering.
"Will do. it is rather informative." Blueblood commented, while returning to his book, which seemed to some kind of a position guide for something intimate.

Naja found Hera in the second garden, meditating near a pond, with the Carbuncle happily hopping around her. When it noticed marilith approaching, it hopped on her tail a couple of times.
"Hello Naja. Is Cid still cranking his engine? And I mean the ships."

"Unfortunately there are still some burned up birds clogging the engine. So its going to take some more time, unless we want the exhaust smell like fried chicken."

"I wouldn't mind all that much, but I'm not the mechanic. So I trust Cid on this one."

With a nod, Naja coiled up next to Hera, joining in the meditation session. Both of them where serenely silent for an hour, until finally stopping. No zen-phase was reached on marilith's part.
"Have you ever wondered what might happen if another Red Materia was born out of your meditation? The only ones I know of are this one..." Hera asked, while subtly pointing at the said red materia orb of Carbuncle on her ornamental pin. " And 'the other one', that created the Badlands with just a warning shot... At least according to the stories."

"...I'm not sure, to be honest... It most likely would depend what it call forth, and who it would bond with, like Carbuncle seems to have done with your family, even though it is only been wielded by Hermes and you. If 'the other one' where to end up in hands of someone more or less wicked or zealous being, the world would be in serious trouble. Even a noble soul would be at risk without a proper training." was Naja's thoughtful answer.

"And in case of the Equestrian, they have a tendency of using magic in far too many places, seemingly crippling their country's nature, to the point that they now think their way of controlling it is 'natural'. Personally, I would not teach the art of wielding materia based magic to Equestrians. Ancestors have mercy if they even think of trying to use even one materia crystal in a wrong way at this time..." Hera concluded, before returning to her meditation, Naja following soon after.

Around an hour later, their shared meditating was interrupted by a polite cough from Blueblood.

"Sorry to disturb your session, but there is a royal guard with a message from Celestia. In short, she asks your presence at the castle."

"For what?"

"Guard said that Princess will explains it in private."

"... Very well then, I'll go see what she want's. Anything against it Hera?"

"No, other than that remember to be careful, just in case something goes sideways."

With a nod, Naja followed Bluey to the manors gate, where the guard was waiting to escort marilith to the castle.

Canterlot castle, Throne room...

It did not take that long for Naja to arrive to the throne room doors, and being let in to the room with a fancy golden chair, with the Sun Princess waiting there.

"Your majesty. Miss Naja has arrived." the guard announced.

"Thank you. Please, leave us. There are some thing's I'd like to talk with her in private."was Celestias official sounding order, which all the guards in the room followed, with some of them a little bit wary about leaving their princess alone with a presumed monster-grade creature.
After they where left alone, Celestia casted a faint barrier to ensure their privacy from potential eavesdroppers.

"Thank you for coming Naja. I was afraid you might not come." Celestia said, with a small smile.

"Well, here I am now. So how about we cut the excess pleasantries, and get down to business. So what do you want from me?" Naja answered, while folding all of her six arms.

"Very well then... An old enemy of Equestria, Lord Tirek, has escaped from his imprisonment from Tartarus and has begun stealing magic from our ponies. And to make the matters even worse, Discord has joined him in this vile task. Latest reports tell of him being capable of taking the magic from all three pony tribes, and I fear he is most likely coming after alicorn magic next." Princess explained, starting to sound a little bit desperate.

"And what exactly does this has to do with me?" marilith inquired, with raised brow accompanied with a head tilt.

"I have reason to believe, that Tirek might try to sway you to his side for some reason, maybe trying to gather allies for some purpose."

"And why would I join forces with anyone without a valid reason? Who is this Tirek anyway, and what does he even looks like? You forgot to tell that."

"He is a centaur from a distant land. And as for his appearance; he possesses red skin, white hair, dark fur, black horns, and cloven hooves. At least last time I saw him."

"Hmmm... Sounds familiar... Ah yes, he and his brother I think came to Tanah kahijian before the town was even named properly. They tried to attack and I was there to fight back, giving them a couple of slams from my tail and a shocking 'love tap' from my blades. That was luckily enough to make them leave... Sooo, after that, what makes you think I might ally with him? And where did you even got such an idea?"

"... I saw it in a vision, warning me of his return. And it seemed to include you in it as well with him in a non-aggressive manner."

"... That's it? Just saw it in a vision? And you're sure it wasn't something you ate?"

"Yes. It is not the first time when a vision warns me of something. But back to the main reason I requested you here... I am asking for your help in defeating and hopefully re-imprisoning Lord Tirek. Will you aid us?" Celestia asked from Naja, even giving her a humble bow, hoping for the best...

"...No." was Naja's simple answer, still keeping her arms folded.

"Wait, what??? But-" Celestia started clearly surprised, only to be interrupted by a raised hand from Naja.

"Now let me explain this a bit. First; this sounds A LOT like your problem from the past, that has come back to bite you. Second; as cruel as this might sound, I have nothing to do with this whole situation. Third; You have no official authority over me, due to me not being a pony or a citizen of Equestria, thus I have liberty to decline your request. And Fourth; I don't fully trust you yet. I may have forgiven you, but fully honest trust is still an issue, due to your fresh 'probation period'." Naja listed her reasons to a little aghast looking Princess.
"Oh, and fifth; You know from experience just what will be awaiting to defend Tanah kahijian and Southpost, besides me and my friends among the locals there, if he even decides to go there..." she added in a more serious tone.

Celestia clearly had no counter for that ready, with her going silent looking at the floor, obviously remembering the gargantuan magical machine, that leveled a mountain with a warning-shot. After waiting for a couple of minutes for an answer, Naja decided that it was time for her to leave.
"Now if there is not anything else to speak about, I'll return to you nephews home to wait for our ride home to get fixed, which should be soon-ish. Farewell. Good luck with solving this crisis." marilith said while turning to leave.

"I am sorry for this..." Celestia half-whispered, while lighting her horn like she was activating something. That something was a hidden magic-circle on the throne room floor, which had started to glow brightly.

"What in the name of Lakshmi's bo-!!" Naja called out, before her vision suddenly went dark...

Canterlot dungeons...

"...Whuh?... What in the hell happened?" Naja asked aloud when she finally gained her consciousness back.

"A powerful stun-spell, with a teleportation charm added to it in a maximum-sized amplifying circle I managed in a relative short notice." came Celestias voice nearby in front of Naja.

It took marilith a short moment to get her eyes open and hair out of their way, only to notice that she was chained up rather thoroughly, from her neck and arms to the tip of her tail. And to make the whole situation worse, the whole cell and even the chains felt extra cold.
"All right Celestia. Can you perhaps explain to me, just what in the seven hell's are you thinking?!"

"I'm sorry, but I simply cannot take the risk. The whole nation is at stake, and the vision-"

"Starts to sound more like a huge pile of bull! What exactly did you even saw me doing in that vision of yours!?"

"You where holding hands with Tirek, with rings on both of your ring fingers, all right!" Celestia snapped at Najas aggressive question.

"... Wait... That's it? Just our hands holding one another with a piece of jewelry on them?? And that's good enough for you to lock me up in some extra cold cell?! Do you have ANY idea how IDIOTIC that sounds??? If my hands where free, I would slap your mug six times... With each hand!"

"I do what I must as the Princess of Equestria to protect my ponies. Surely you would do something similar to protect the townsfolk of the two free towns of south?"

"In an extremely dire situation, yes. But I am NOT their ruler. Just a respected older individual who just happened to live there when they decided to settle there to get away from your precious ponies ancestors. And especially far away from your dear ol' daddy's supporters. Maybe even... From you..." Naja shot back at the Sun princess, her words gaining a little bit of a venomous tone, while trying to fight off her growing instinct to hibernate, due to cold in the cell starting to affect her.

"Don't worry, I will release you after Tirek has been re-imprisoned. I promise." Celestia tried to mediate the situation, while managing to hide her hurt expression behind her much practiced royal mask and starting to leave the cell.

"Celestia, I swear if you walk out and frigging leave me here to hibernate for longer than five minutes, I WILL burn your glorified arse-warmer of a chair into a pile molten slag and throw it-" The rest of Naja's words where cut off by the large armored cell-door closing behind Celestia.

"Do not allow anypony else but me to open this cell." Celestia ordered two heavily armed guards, who took their positions next to the door. With that unpleasant deed done, Celestia teleported back to the throne room to wait her sister, Cadance and Twilight to tell them her plan of hiding the alicorn magic from Tirek. All the while telling herself that what she just did was necessary... And having hard time believing it herself... And not noticing a tiny yellow eye with a red pupil peeking from the roof.

Canterlot dungeons, unspecified time later...

"Hey, Spear Runner?"

"Yeah, what Spiked Shield?"

"Do you ever wonder why we're here?"

"Following orders, and that joke is rather old."

"Oh, I think it still has some merit to it..." said a third voice, followed by both guards being frozen by someones magic, who turned out to be the Chaos spirit Discord, wearing a golden medallion around his neck.
"And now you're getting your magic taken by my buddy Tirek, who has some business here."

The guards could not do anything as the dreaded centaur arrived around the corner and proceeded to take their magic with no issues, leaving them in a severely weakened state on the floor.

"This is the cell where they're keeping her?" centaur half-demanded, pointing at the armored door.

"Yes sir. I saw her royal sunshine teleport her snakyness here with my own back-up-eye." Discord boasted, while picking up the said eye from the roof and put it back in his head, like some kind of odd contact lens.
Tirek merely grunted, and started to tear the door off its hinges, crushing it like it was made out of wet cardboard.

In the cell he saw a familiar figure of the six armed serpentine beautiful being, who had driven him and his traitorous brother away from a village long ago, even leaving some fur covered scars on both of them, just hanging in there asleep, bound in multitude of chains smelling of ice magic alongside the whole cell.
With a small targeted magic absorb, the chains and cell lost their coldness, followed by a careful telekinetic pull to break all the chains all at once, causing the serpent maiden to fall down on her side, still unconscious.

"Looks like shes still a bit frosty. Well a little warm up should help." Discord commented, while pulling out a hair dryer and started to thaw the little frost off from marilith, who did not react.
"Huh. Still sleepy it seems." draconequus said, before floating a bit closer and tried to boop snake lady's nose... Only to get interrupted by one of her hands snapping around his neck, causing an audible squeaky toy sound, while her eyes snapped open.

"Don't... Touch me...Discord..."

"O...K... Phleez... Need air..."

Now awakened Naja started to get up in a standing position, still holding gagging Discord, shaking some of the fresh moisture off from herself, hair flipping around a little bit. A sight that Tirek seemed look intently for some reason.

"Oh, you must be Tirek. doesn't seem like you haven't changed in looks that much." Naja said nonchalantly, while looking the centaur over in some kind of a critical eye, soon even putting two of her hands on his chest as if looking for something.
"Ah, the fur is just covering the spot where my blades gave you a shocker."

"Y-yes, it is. Mind letting go of Discord? I'd like to have a word with you somewhere more appropriate than a cold dungeon."

"Sure I guess. But try and make a wrong move upon my body and you will lose something..." Naja said while letting go of Discord, and lightly slamming her tail on the ground as if to emphasize her point.

"Very well. Discord? Mind taking us back to the throne room?"

"*cough* Sure thing."

And with a snap of discords fingers, all three of them where back at the throne room, now with several glass paintings switched up and one looking like it had just recently cooled off from being melted.

"Now then-" Tirek began.

"Hold on a moment. Just have to keep a little promise to the Sunbutt." Naja interrupted, turning to face Celestias golden throne, took a moment to look at it while lighting up a set of flames upon her palms... And shot six streams of concentrated fire at the fancy chair, which soon began to melt on its pedestal.
Not even waiting now molten slag to cool off on it own, marilith slithered closer, while summoning two of her blades, now coated in frozen air around them, and pressed them on the slag, rapidly cooling it. Next she proceeded tp pick up the cooled off pile of slag.
"Which window is closest to the royal carriage?"

"That one..." Discord pointed one the windows, while taking few steps away from it. And soon marilith threw the piece of slag through it outside, where it by some luck landed right on top of Celestias personal carriage.

"Ok. Now, you were saying?" marilith asked, while positioning all her arms differently; on her waist, behind her back and folded beneath her chest.

"Y-yes. I don't know for sure what your alignment to Equestria is, but if one would have to guess, rather neutral at best. But I will give you my word, that the towns and their citizens under your protection will be kept away from my plans. And... There is one more personal thing to ask... In private." Tirek said, giving Discord a visible sideway glance. Chaos spirit did take the hint and went somewhere to mess with reality a bit.

"All right... Lady Naja. You have in a way haunted my thoughts ever since me and my brother stumbled upon your protectorate. And for some reason, those thoughts were more of an anchor to my sanity than my plans for revenge on Equestrian princesses ever where. So to put my intentions simply... Uuh... When I am done with my goal of gaining magic the princesses hid from me... I would wish for a chance to... Court you..." horned centaur started to explain, growing oddly bashful-like, in a 'manly-way', when reaching his question to marilith, whose only visible reactions where a raised brow and a teensy bit of blush on her cheeks.

"Oh... I was honestly not expecting that... Let me think a bit..." was the only thing Naja could say, before starting to think several things over considering Tirek's request.
For the next five or so minutes Naja stayed quiet, visibly thinking her answer, which started to make Tirek a little bit nervous. And he did not intend to tell her to hurry it up, due to him still remembering the short beating she had given to him his traitorous brother and was not looking for a second one.

"...Sure, I guess." Naja finally answered.

"W-what, really? I was almost certain you'd say no." Tirek said clearly confused, yet having a hopeful sounding undertone.

"Yes really. For a couple of reasons. Firstly, pretty much a long as I remember, I've been single, and it is getting rather lonely in an actual potentially intimate relationship department. Second, due to my size, overall body mass and looks, potential picks for a capable, and physically sturdy enough, partner are overall rather slim. And third, I happen to find the feel of fur covered muscular body enticing. A rather freshly discovered thing I might add." marilith explained her reasons.
"But remember... If you go back on your word and hurt my friends, close associates or try anything on me without my express consent, I will be most disappointed. Got it?" she added in a threatening tone, even taking Tirek's nose ring between her fingers, giving it a light pull for emphasis.

"Yes." Tirek said, clearly not wanting a bloody nose in a rather unpleasant way.

"Good. Now if you'd excuse me, I should go check on my friends ride home that is parked at Celestias nephew's manor at the moment. I hope you and Discord have not hit there, have you?"

"Well, we tried, but neither of us could not get close enough. Something there was letting off so much smog that even being close caused some serious gag-reaction on me, and even on Discord."

"That would be one of my friends there, who just happens to be a chain smoking sonuva griffin of the highest order."

"Then I shall leave you to that. But I would appreciate if you could come to the field at the base of the mountain later. It has something to do with my homelands cultural things, nothing else."

"Very well then. You go do your thing, I'll go do mine."

After giving each other a respectful bow, Naja started to head back to Blubloods manor, while Tirek left to find Discord and proceed to go to Ponyville. The streets of Canterlot where a bit on the empty side, most likely previously evacuated of most ponies. Naja was not completely sure, due to trip from castle to the manor being on overall short side.
It did not take her long to arrive back to the manor, where she could smell some of Cid's smokes to the streets.

"Hera! Cid! Bluey! I'm back!" Naja called out, which was followed an invisible barrier going down, with plenty of cig stench assaulting her face. Aside from the smell, she felt something tackle, or at least trying to, her front.

"Thank goodness Naja you're all right!" Hera cried out happily. Cid and Blueblood came out soon after that. Two of the trio had an odd barely visible air-bubble on their head. A spell most likely.

"What happened? You where away at the castle nearly a full day." Bluey asked.

"Well, your dear auntie had a vision of me holding hands with that centaur fellow who is going around with Discord, and decided to put me on ice in some cell, after I said no to her request of me helping her deal with the situation. And I did tell her my reasons to it."



"...Wow... What that old bag of arse-fat has been smoking to see and decide something like that, and where I can find it, and burn it all to the ground?" Cid commented, before taking a long drag of his cig.

"That sounds like a rather extreme measure for saying no, despite the current situation. Even for my aunt... What did she do after that?" Bluey continued to ask.

"She just left me there to hibernate, promising to release me after Tirek has been re-imprisoned. Who knows if she was ever planning on actually keeping it, or maybe just sneakily transferring me to somewhere else and forget I exist for a thousand years and have some rag-tag group to try and fix her mess-up." Naja said, leaving the unicorn and the hippogriff momentarily speechless.
"How is the ship doing Cid?"

"Well, its ready to fly, but I might have to make a short flight first to make sure its pipes are working. Safety and stuff."

"Understandable. Now there is something else too I have to tell... Apparently Tirek is interested in me, considering he asked for a chance to court me. And I decided to at least give him A chance and see where it goes from there. Also he gave me his word to leave our towns in peace."

"...Wow. That is interesting... But I personally have nothing to judge you on that choice, due to me being on the interspecies relationship myself. Let's just hope others are as understanding." Bluey said with a slight nod.

"Well, even though he did try to take magic from our home in the past, I'm not going to stop you from reaching potential happiness with someone of your size-category. Past is past and now is now, or something like that I think." Hera commented.

"Thanks Hera and Bluey. What about you Cid? Any smartass comment?"

"...I don't know. If you wanna try and get some centaur dingaling in your snake hole, go for it, I ain't some overpaid couples therapist... So are we taking the safety-test flight or what?"

"Sure. I was asked to wait for something at the field at the base of the mountain by Tirek. He said something about some cultural thing. Think you can drop me there during the flight?"


Later almost 400 feet above the field at the base of the Canterhorn mountain...

"F*CK YOU CIIID!!!!!!!!!!"

Aboard the airship 'Levea Kuljetus'/'The Flying Brick'

"Cid... I don't think she meant it literally when she asked you to drop her at the field."

"Hey Hera, she said 'drop me there during the flight', so I drop her during the flight. End of story."

"Well let's hope she is not angry at you for long, or you might lose some tailfeathers to her flames. So Bluey, enjoying the view?"

"Actually yes. This thing flies surprisingly smoothly compared to Equestrian airships. And looks like lady Naja has landed safely. Hmh? I wonder what that hand-gesture with middle-finger pointed up means? And why is she doing it with all of her hands?"

"Oh, princy boy. I'm gonna enlighten you a bit about the 'rude-gestures'..."

Field at the at the base of the Canterhorn mountain...

"There, that should be enough flipping the bird at that smoking bird." Naja muttered, while healing herself a bit in case of potential injuries.
"Well, guess I now just wait here. I really need some calming meditating now."

With that decision, Naja took a comfortable coiled position, and proceeded to shut out her surroundings and concentrated on her own breathing. Soon she started to calm down, continuing to shut out almost all outside distractions. Which even included loud booms of an epic magical battle with a certain centaur and a certain overclocked purple alicorn at a distance. And she did not even reach her zen-phase.

Some time later her meditating was brought to an end by a polite sounding cough. Opening her eye's, Naja saw Tirek standing in front of her, maybe a head taller than her now, keeping a polite distance from the marilith.

"Hello again Tirek. You got a bit bigger I see." Naja said, while rising up from her coiled position to be on the face level with the centaur.
"So, may I ask what's this cultural thing you mentioned earlier?"

"Yes that. There is a small tradition back home of giving a specially made wristband to someone, when they have given their permission of being courted." Tirek started explaining, during which he conjured up two simple metallic wristbands, with intricate carvings and a couple of decorative holes on them.
"The tradition also requires the asker to wear one as well, as a symbol of sorts." he continued while offering one of the bands to Naja, who accepted it, and after checking it a bit, proceeded to put it on one of her wrists.

"They do look nice. And these are worn for the duration of the courting?"

"Yes. The only magics in them are for the communicating if needed and fitting on wearer without being too loose or too tight." Tirek said while putting his band on.

"Good to know. Hmmm... I guess this deserves you a bit of physical contact." Naja commented, before proceeding to approach the centaur at a slow pace, confusing him a little. This confusion in turn allowed marilith to envelop him in a tender six-armed hug. And he found himself unable to resist it. He actually seemed to enjoy it.

Unfortunately the moment was broken by loud magic noises and bright light, which drew their attention, while ending the embrace.
Right there floating in the air in a colorful orb of light and rainbow stuff where Twilight and her friends, looking like they had some kind of magical-female power-up going on.

"How is this possible?! You have no magic!" Tirek called out, while taking position between Naja and the six ponies.

"You're wrong, Tirek! I may have given you my Alicorn magic, but I carry within me the most powerful magic of all!" Twilight called back, just before the swirling magic's around her and her friends began glow even brighter, before sending a beam of rainbows towards the centaur and marilith.

Before the beam could hit them, Tirek went to grab Najas tail, maybe at its halfway point, and managed to lift all of her coils up off the ground, surprising her with such physical strength. Naja had no time to react much when Tirek proceeded to throw her out of the rainbow beams way.
While flying through the air, Naja rolled up in some manner of a coiled ball out of instinct, which in turn softened her eventual fall to the ground.

By the time she opened up from her rolled up state, she noticed that Tirek was gone. And Twilight and her friends had started glow really brightly, almost blindingly bright. Followed by a huge magical shock wave, that ended up knocking Naja back quite a bit, making her hit her head on something hard.

And her world went black...

"Owww, my head..."

"Hey Spiked Shield. I think she's coming to."

"Yes Spear, I did hear her too."

Finally getting her eyes open, Naja saw rather familiar dungeon stone walls around her, only this time she was chained up even more, practically covered in chains. Only good thing was the absence of icy coldness in chains.
"Oh come on, seriously?!"

"Unfortunately yes. You should receive a visitor soon, if she hasn't started singing on her way here."

Chapter 19 Sham of a trial and the frozen prison.

View Online

Chapter 19 Sham of a trial and the frozen prison.

Canterlot dungeons.

"I spy with my little eye... Something gray."


"Correct again... for the thirty-seventh time. Do you do anything else to pass time when on guard duty here?"

"Well we used play cards, until Spear drunk talked about it and got it banned in the Royal guard. And they actually check everyone for cards when going on duty."

"Oh that is some sucky luck. But not as bad as mine right now."

The guard duo had no comment on that sarcastic remark from the marilith in the cell, armored door replaced by a temporary iron-bar-door, still very much chained to the maximum effect, head pointed towards the doorway. Only issue was her being left on her back when brought back in, with the added discomfort of some of her hands being trapped under her torso.
Further talking was cut short by the sound of hooves approaching. And soon both guards stood at attentions when behind a corner arrived certain purple alicorn.

"At ease sirs. I'm just here for the visit." Twilight said to the guards. "Can you please leave us? I'm sure there is not going to be any trouble."

With a small amount of hesitation, both guards obeyed, leaving the two alone in an semi-awkward silence.

"So... Uuuh... Are you all right?" the purple princess asked rather sheepishly.

"What do you think?? I'm chained up in a dungeon cell, with no toiletries or any actual bedding, while you most likely had a good night sleep on a real bed and a meal. Also three of my arms have fallen asleep because of this position, which I am pretty much unable to change at the moment in a meaningful way... So? How was your day after going all extra shiny?"

"Well... We defeated Tirek and restored magic to Equestria, he was sent back to Tartarus by the new magic me and my friends unlocked from this locked box given by the Tree of Harmony, then we went to see a castle that sprouted in Ponyville, sang a happy song. Then Pinkie reminded us of seeing you earlier, which made Celestia panic enough to call few guards for some reason. We found you laying unconscious near a small cliff-face. Aand..." young alicorn explained, growing visibly uncomfortable when mentioning Celestias reaction.

"And she insisted of sending me in dungeon for associating with Tirek or something like that?"

"Well, kinda... She looked almost frightened when we found you. She was actually about to give the order for it,when your friends and Blueblood arrived in that fascinating airship. They said that Celestia had imprisoned you for not agreeing to help us with Tirek... Why? I thought we where friends?"

"Let me correct you there a little bit Twiggles. The two of us have chatted maybe once or twice in total, making us more of an acquaintances. Friendship would require higher level of association, to me at least. And it is a little hard to think of us as friends when one of us is wrongfully imprisoned, by your mentor I bet. What excuse did she give you?" Naja answered in even, yet harsh tone.

"Sheee... Mentioned another vision she had in Tartarus... Of you above her in a burning Canterlot with sky itself ablaze-" Twilight started, making Naja scoff a bit when hearing about the new vision, before continuing.
"And she teleported you and herself away before we or your friends could intervene or ask more. The griffin called Cid gave us a ride back to Canterlot. He also slapped me maybe ten times during the trip..."

"Did you try to look around the ship too much or ask too many questions he did not want to answer?"

"...Yes... And for some reason... I liked it... But after we got to Canterlot , Luna teleported us to Celestia and stopped her from renewing the coldness-spells on the cell,... And proceeded to pull Celestia somewhere by the ear to have a 'talk', with Cadence and Hera going with them. All three looked rather angry... That was over three hours ago."

Royal infirmary...

"How does it look?"

"Well your highness, both of Celestias eardrums where completely ruptured, but the healing spell and her natural regeneration should have them fixed within just a few more minutes."

"Good, because we're not done yelling at her..."

"Then I advice that you take these lozenges, if the yelling goes on for more than half an hour straight."

Canterlot dungeons...

"And during all that time it did not occur to you to maybe let me out? Or is there something more to it?"

"Unfortunately, there is... Some nobles caught wind of you being seen with Tirek, and now they have majority of nobility drummed up against you. Blueblood and few other nobles managed to push against them, changing the immediate execution they demanded into a trial."

"On what charges?" Naja inquired, managing to lift herself up in a little bit more comfortable position.

"Associating with the enemy of Equestria, disrespecting the crown, breaking out of the dungeon and damaging the Royal property to name a few in the list...The rest sound more or less made-up by the more malicious of nobles of Canterlot."

"Will I at least get a fair judge and jury? It would not be fair if all of them where just ponies judging a non-pony. And knowing a little bit about politics, such a move would cause some serious backlash to your nations overall rep."

"Well, Hera and Blueblood are looking into it with Luna's blessing. With luck, this might go to the Tribunal, who are pretty much THE highest and oldest court in Equestria and are required to remain neutral."

"Good. Hopefully we can soon leave this debacle behind us... Now if its not too much trouble, mind getting these chains off me? Three of my hands are still sleeping, and fourh is starting to cramp a bit." Naja requested.

"Well... Do you promise not to escape before the trial?" Twilight asked carefully.

"Please, if I wanted to escape, I would have done so already." Naja answered in a deadpan tone, while letting out a small flame from her mouth for emphasis.

With that, Twilight started to open the chains around mariliths body, guards mostly just watching from the side. If they where honest, there was very little they could do to stop serpent lady from escaping if she decided to do so.
After getting out of the many chains, Naja proceeded to try and get feeling back to all of her arms, while stretching a bit. Luckily the cell was roomy enough for that.

"So? Anything else you wish to talk about? Or can I take a nap before the trial?"

"Well..." Twilight started, pulling out a quill and parchment.

"See you at the trial then." Naja said, before she coiled up in a comfortable sleeping position, leaving now pouting purple alicorn without questionnaire answers once more.

Later at Canterlot Hall of Justice, Tribunal courtroom...

The great courtroom was packed full of both ponies and non-ponies alike, from all walks of life, amongst them nobles, diplomats and civilians. The tables of the accuser and defendant had been moved due to accused mariliths tail size, who was calmly sitting there, with several guards around her, mostly for show.
Before them was a raised judge's table, with four ponies sitting there, one from each known pony tribe; unicorn, pegasus, earth pony and a thestral, all of them wearing a special medallion showing their position. The jury box was empty due to Naja being unique entity, making it impossible for her be judged by 'her peers'. Several nobles, and oddly Celestia, tried to forcefully select a jury, but they where heavily overruled by the Tribunal members.
The Royalty had a seatings behind the Tribunal seats, filled by Celestia, Luna, Cadence, Blueblood and Twilight, mostly for observation but also for participation, should need for special tie-breaker-vote arise about the final ruling. Rest of the element bearers where amongst the crowd. Despite their hero-status, they where still civilians.

Next to Naja, or rather on her tail by permission from her, was sitting lamassu lawyer Ironclad from the Free southern towns. On the accuser-side there was some extra-fancy noble, who's neck and head where potentially stuck in an upright position and clearly stuck-up prosecutor, who had been spouting complete nonsensical accusations about Naja, only about four of them actually being true from certain point of view, for about an hour straight.

"- trespassing on a private property of member of Royalty, loitering and last but not least, REGICIDE of our country's late King, Solaris. In light of these horrid crimes, this monster should be executed, or at the very least banished from Equestrian soil forever." prosecutor finished, not even bothering to hide his blatant racism. This caused some mixed murmurs in the crowd, until order was restored.
After this, Ironclad was given turn to speak.

"Your Honors, I must specify that the last accusation happened little over a thousand years ago, and Princess Celestia had sent Lady Naja to Tartarus for that. Only issues are that the alleged regicide happened in heat of the moment in a self-defence situation, and the death was an unexpected and unintended result, making it an involuntary beingslaughter. And banishment was done outside of Equestrias borders, thus outside the official authority of Equestrian Royalty, on an independent town no less." he commented in an even tone.
"And then there is the issue of Lady Naja's recent unlawful imprisonments. Unless there was a silent law change, it is illegal for the rulers to apprehend or imprison a foreign diplomatic visitor, which Lady Naja can be considered being, without a solid proof and co-agreement from fellow rulers, if there is any."

"And what about her fraternizing with Tirek? Or her escape from dungeons?" prosecutor asked, trying to find something to use against the serpentine creature.

"Lady Naja told us, that she was in a forced hibernation-state by Celestia when Tirek AND Discord came to break her out, waking her. Since both of them are not present here, we cannot confirm what their actual plan was. And due to the illegal nature of the imprisonment, she had right to leave the cell, but mostly due to technicality, and the good behaviour on the second trip to dungeon is also counted as a plus. And as for the alleged fraternizing, we have concluded that the conversations they had where about personal matters and in no way a threat to national security. Unlike the chaos spirit, Discord, who is oddly absent from being punished for being a rather direct collaborator in this issue."

"Discord has shown signs of genuine regret for his actions and thus-" Celestia spoke, before being interrupted by the earth pony judge.
"Your majesty, please refrain from interrupting the Tribunal proceedings, until requested."

"Now if it is not too much of a trouble Lady Naja, can you perhaps tell what these personal matters where?" Unicorn judge inquired.

"Might as well tell you, your Honours... Tirek asked me for a chance in courting me, which I agreed on simply due to the fact of limited choices of finding a potential partner in life. He even gifted me this wristband as a sign of it, due to a cultural thing from his homeland." marilith said, while showing the metallic band still on her wrist.
Many in the courtroom thought they heard somepony quietly 'aww'in' among the princesses.

"And soon after gifting it, he was re-banished, while I got knocked out by a magic shockwave and woke up in chains again... Apparently all because of some visions, or so I've heard."

Now after hearing all that both sides to say, the Judges look each other, like they where having a silent conversation. Silence among them lasted couple of minutes, until pegasus judge stood up, with rest following suit.
"The Tribunal shall now cast its vote on the release of the accused."

One by one, the Judges put their hoof on their medallions, making them project a simple red or green colored light.
The result turned out to be a tie; Earth pony and Thestral showing green and unicorn and pegasus showing red. Though Naja could have sworn she saw pegasus judge looking a little bit apologetic and the unicorn felt somewhat indecisive. Almost like they had personal reasons stopping them from giving a more decisive vote.

"With the vote being a stalemate, the final vote goes to the Royals." Thestral judge stated, giving a neutral look towards four alicorns and a unicorn behind them. Rest of the hall also now looked at the Princesses and the Prince.
Almost right away after receiving the chance to vote, Celestia casted a red light spell, casting her vote for imprisonment, soon followed by another red light from Twilight. Though purple alicorns light visibly flickered more than a little bit and she tried to avoid looking at anyone, clearly ashamed but still very loyal to the Sun princess.
Luna and Cadance on the other hand casted their vote for release with green light, with no hesitation what so ever.

This meant that the definitive final vote fell for Prince Blueblood, a fact that caused some smug murmurs among the nobles in the crowd, thinking that of course the Prince would like to keep Canterlot clean from 'southern commoners'... Even Celestia seemed sure of the result for a small part of a second, hoping to avoid what she had seen in her second vision in Tartarus...

The sound of simultaneous jaw drops was odd to hear, when Sun princesses nephew shined green light for the release of the accused marilith. The effect of it was immediate and loud, when a good chunk of the snobby nobles tarted yelling who knows what.


It took a moment to restore the order, which included taking few ponies out from the courtroom, after which earth pony judge began to announce the final ruling.
"With the result of the vote, the Tribunal finds Lady Naja free of all charges and free to-"

"I invoke Regalis Imperātum..." came Celestias voice, followed by a authoritative stomp of her hoof, drawing everyone's attention to her. Many looking more or less shocked or confused. Or increasingly pissed in case of Princess Luna.

"Sister... I thought you swore to never use it, unless absolutely necessary as a last resort for a good reason. Even promised so to our Mother..." Luna commented to Celestia, who did not seem to listen, at least visibly. Only continuing her speech.

"...And hereby annul the Tribunal vote. The entity known as Naja, is hereby placed under imprisonment till further notice, effective immediately."

With her short speech done, Sun Princess lit her horn, first moving Najas lawyer away from her, and while marilith was still confused about such a flippant extrajudicial move, proceeding to teleport both herself and Naja somewhere. Leaving behind a very confused courtroom, even the nobility was confused of such a sudden move, alongside of the diplomats present in the courtroom. And of course a very, VERY much angered younger sister and a represantive of the Southern free town...

Undisclosed location in MUCH colder regions...

"Uuuuugh... What just..." Naja barely managed to mumble, before her body registered almost freezing cold surrounding her, in what looked like a cave of solid ice, with few metallic slabs on walls. And there at the presumed entryway stood Celestia.
"Celestia... W-where in the name of the King and his knights on their round table you sent me this t-time???..." marilith asked, already starting to shiver rather seriously.

"Hidden place at the northern reaches of the known world, in an iceberg stuck to the shoreline..." was Celestias neutral answer, while she also used her magic to pull Najas arms closer to the walls, also conjuring more ice to attach arms in the cold embrace of makesift 'ice-chains'.

"You do know t-that this will ruin your reputation? Many will start to fear and dread you more than adore or respect." Naja managed to comment, unable to resist the ice-treatment, or even conjure her own fire, due to all the near arctic-level of coldness surrounding her.

"It is a risk I am willing to take. As a Princess, I will do whatever I must to protect my realm and my citizens."

"They are not just your's now. You h-have your sister, n-niece, nephew and your pupil to help you. Or have you just gotten used to make all of the valid rulings alone?"

Celestia did not answer. Whether she did not have an answer good enough, or just did not want to say anything, Naja did not know.

"And if you intent on taking me out of the picture because of some vision, you might as well just stab my throat and leave bleed. You frigging even have a horn for that..."

"I would not do such cruel a thing anymore. And the precognitive visions are never wrong. It would take power beyond any normal ways of magic to change that."

"Says someone who is freezing someone else on the wall in the middle of nowhere to potentially starve. And y-you're either an idiot or blind to just follow what you see visions of."

"The runes in the slabs on the walls will magically nourish you. And I learned the art of reading the visions of my precognitive gift from the best... My mother..."

"Then you must have been the worst student under her... And if you now leave me here, I WILL come back to bite you in the arse, a-after slapping you'r mug ten times with each of my hand's... Because I gave you a chance, and y-you just decided to plowed through three strikes in record time with these flippant imprisonments."

"...I am sorry for doing all this... But I hope one day you can forgive me-"

"I forgave you once, but n-now you have worn it down as well. It would take far more than just your words to make me forgive you again..."

By now the surrounding coldness had made Naja extremely drowsy due to her hibernation instinct, soon her starting hang down out of the induced sleepiness. Seeing no more reason to remain there, Celestia started to walk out.

"Celestia!..." came Najas voice, making Celestia turn her head lightly startled.

"...You'll never be rid of me..." she said in a defiant, venomous tone, before submitting to the forced state of hibernation. Celestia left after waiting five minutes, soon stepping outside a mouth of a cave in a sizeable iceberg, seeing only ice and snow for miles around her.

"I truly am sorry..." Sun princess whispered, mostly to herself, before casting a barrier upon the cave entrance and proceeded to take flight in order to get in better range to teleport back to Canterlot without wasting too much magic in such a long two-way trip.

Later in Canterlot, Royal sleeping quarters...

After an hour or so of travelling by flight, Celestia finally teleported back to Canterlot, specifically on her bedroom balcony, without collapsing from exhaustion. After moving the sun in 'setting-position' and entering in her bedroom, her mind was racing on how she was going to explain her reasons to Twilight who had looked hurt at the moment of her-

"So, you're finally back..."


One royal as fluff startled scream from Celestia and one click from a light-switch rune later, Celestia saw a very, very nettled looking Cadence sitting on her bed, glaring at her.

"Cadence? What are you-"

"Zip it." Cadence interrupted Celestia.

"How did you-"

"I said ZIP IT!" Cadence interrupted again. "And your door was unlocked. But what I want to know, WHY did you think it was wise to invoke Regalis Imperātum? An ancient Royal bloodline power of being able to over rule ANY law or court order on a whim, reserved only for the King, Queen and the first born Prince or Princess of Equestria. Abused by late King Solaris, used only once by Queen Faust... And now you. WHY??? Lady Naja showed no hostility or any sign of malicious intentions against Equestria. And yes, I have read about its use. Frankly it should not even have a place in current era."

"Cadence, I know what I did was little rash, but I could not take risk that Naja would do something hostile or join Tirek. Both would spell a major disaster upon Equestria." was Celestias attempted answer, which did not seem to work.

"A little rash? Your little stunt has already caused a disaster. Many of the diplomats who where present in the courtroom are talking about potentially withdrawing from several agreements with Equestria, because they fear that you might invoke your bloodline authority against them!"

"I'm certain we can salvage the situation with them... Where is Twilight?"

"She has already left Canterlot with her friends. She looked rather upset... And Blueblood asked me to give this to you upon your return." Cadence said while offering a thick parchment carrying Bluebloods wax-seal to Celestia. She did not hesitate to open it, which caused several paper document to fall from it to the floor.

"Dear Princess Celestia of Equestria.
I, Prince Blueblood, hereby renounce my status as the Prince and citizen of Equestria and officially liquidate all of my assets and holdings in Equestria, moving all of my financial assets elsewhere. All of the necessary finalized official paperwork are enclosed with this message.

With best regards, Blueblood.

Farewell auntie..."

After reading the message, and the documents couple of times, Celestia was growing even more worried. One of the reasons being that Blueblood finances funded and upkeeped many things in Canterlot. But the biggest reason was the loss of family member, however distant.

"After he gave me that message, he left with miss Hera and Cid, both of them looking furious. And most likely our relations with the Southern free towns have been soured even more, thanks to you. Their ship left more than half an hour ago."

Before Celestia could say anything, she heard the balcony door closing with a slow and audible creak, making her turn around, seeing Luna standing right behind the now closing door. And she looked like ready to murder someone, while menacingly sucking on an lozenge.

"Don't try running Celestia. We put an anti-teleport field and the soundproofing charm on the room, and the doors are locked. Just take the first round of your punishment..." Candance commented nonchalantly, while putting on a pair of heavy-duty earplugs and equally heavy-duty industrial earmuffs AND a pair of protective goggles, just in case.

Celestia could not stop herself from sweating bullets, as Luna slowly approached her. She could only try and brace herself for the verbal abuse, but not for the volume her sister was about release with her overall superior pipes.
And so, Luna inhaled deeply...

Train halfway to Ponyville...

"What the hay was that???" AJ asked after picking herself up from the train floor, where all of the passenger lay sprawled round after a sudden quake had shaken the train. Luckily the train itself had stayed on the rails.

"Not sure, but it felt its center was somewhere in Canterlot." Twilight summarized. "It felt more like a sound based quake. Maybe Celestia returned and Luna is giving her an earful?"

"Or maybe its that gigantic snake creature climbing up the Canterhorn mountain." Pinkie mentioned from the window, pointing at the direction of Canterlot.

"Pinkie, I don't think there are many snake-beings bigger than Na-..." Twilight said, only to stop, because there indeed was a giant serpent being, one so large it could be seen all the way to their current position, climbing up the mountain.

Canterlot, Royal sleeping quarters.

"AND FURTHER MORE-!!!!!!!!" Luna roared, only to be interrupted by an urgent sounding knocking on the door. One door opening later revealed a panicked guard.

"Your majesties! There is a giant snake approaching the castle!"

"How big are we talking about?" Celestia croaked out, after peeling herself out of her-shaped indent on the wall.
Guard could not start, when they all heard a loud rumbling just outside the window. Cadence went to pull the curtains out of the way, revealing a humongous bright red reptilian eye behind it, followed by an ear piercing hissing sound.
For some reason, Celestia could tell its gaze was focused on her. And it did not look friendly. The gargantuan snake pulled away, which allowed princesses to witness its many hook-like blades along its body, along with a pair of clawed forearms. It then proceeded to approach and coil around the Tower of Sun, which held Celestias office and many of her more valuable possessions. It was once also used by her late father when it was first erected.

The gigantic snake soon had finished coiling around the whole tower, seemed to take one more look at the Sun princess... And proceeded to crush the tower in its massive coils, making it collapse on single spot.
After the whole tower was visibly nothing but rubble, the giant snake just left, slithering out of their sight with a soft rumbling following it.

"...Guard! I want a scouting squadron of flyers after that snake, and the palace maintenance crew to clear the rubble and save what they can!" Celestia half-shouted after coming down from her fearful stupor.

"Y-yes ma'am!"

With orders given, the guard left in a hurry. Celestia was about to go as well, but was stopped by Cadence.
"Guards and maintenance crew will take care of it. You on the other hoof still have punishment left..."

For the rest of the evening, the citizens of Canterlot had some trouble of falling asleep due to loud rumbling coming the Royal castle and because many of them where still scared from seeing such a gigantic beastie to just waltz in the capital, only for it to just disappear without a trace, making scouting squadron return with nothing of note to report on where it had gone.

The next day was filled with many, MANY diplomatic negotiations with the representatives who had been present at the trial, and multiple complaints from nobles about Bluebloods sudden departure. And to make things worse, the free towns of Southpost and Tanah Kahijian had basically cut off what little contact Equestria had gained with them until further notice... Overall a big headache inducing political sh*tstorm.

In Ponyville, Twilight was relieved that the giant snake did not do that much damage, and was soon pulled in a quest with her friends, given by the map in her new castle.

Meanwhile the folks of Southern towns where both sad and furious over the loss of their oldest technically-founding member again.

And Naja was once more slumbering somewhere... Waiting...

Chapter 20 ???

View Online

Chapter 20 ???

Somewhere near the undisclosed location in the north...

Heavy travelling-cloak flapped gently in the cold wind, wrapped around a mysterious figure, watching from a distance of what the white alicorn with a rainbow mane was doing. She seemed to be casting something upon the icy cave entrance, before taking flight.

"Oh my dear, dear Tia... You where always gifted in receiving visions..." the figure muttered to herself, with a small head shake, like she was mildly disappointed in the white alicorn, who was now a distant speck in the horizon.
"...But had a habit of failing to look inward, when trying to start interpreting them... The threads of Fate will always find a way to correct any attempts to change them. Or maybe you are just unknowingly fulfilling the seen prophecy all on your own?"

After a moment of silent thinking, the stranger turned her blue eyes to look at the iceberg turned prison. Only to see it breaking off from the shoreline ice, starting to slowly float somewhere with the ocean currents.

"Hmmm... Looks like the tides of fate are moving..." she said, closing her eyes for a moment, before opening them. Only this time they had changed from blue into different colors. One being now the purest of white, and the other darkest of black, gazing into the vast expanse of fates and destinies, with small droplets of future peeking through. Even some magical side-effect wind was caused by this small peek into the threads, momentarily revealing a pair white wings under the travelling-cloak, covered more by a humble saddlebag, and a spiraling horn beneath the hood.
This mystical color change only lasted for a short moment, with the wind dying down as well, letting the cloak once more cover the stranger. Only the hood needed to be corrected by her a little bit in order to cover her red mane.

"Interesting... Very interesting indeed... The wheels are turning, and the pieces are moving. And all I can do, is wait and see. As all of those who can peek behind the Veil of fates should... Unmei ga anata o mekura ni sa senaide kudasai (Translation: Do not let destiny blind you)..." she whispered by herself, while starting to walk somewhere else to make a camp for the night.




"...Maybe I should have abolished Regalis Imperātum being hereditary before leaving?... Oh well, what's done is done..."

To be continued...