Lyra was suffering.
Falling. I am falling.
She kicked her legs helplessly, hoping to grab onto something that was not there, but it meant nothing.
I hate heights. I’m going to keep falling.
There was no way out, the purgatorial abyss below was there to end everything. Her eyes saw emptiness as they began to fade.
So this is it…
There was nothing to see.
“Your turn, Lyra!”
The unicorn’s eyes snapped open.
The very first thing she noticed was the bright grin on Sweetie Belle’s face as the filly poked her hoof against Lyra’s side.
She was curled up under a soft blanket so the white unicorn couldn’t tell she was utterly shaking in fear.
“Oh, sorry, I forgot you were asleep.” Sweetie said sheepishly as Lyra stared back at her with confusion.
“No, that’s alright,” she mumbled in reply, sitting up in her seat and pulling the blanket off, “just, let me wake up.”
The awakening unicorn shook her head quickly, brushing the remnants of the dream away with ease. She looked around groggily, gathering her thoughts and remembering where she was.
The train car was nearly full of ponies, for it was a small and quick one for this specific ride they were on.
There were twenty different train cars specifically built for traveling through the dangerous Crystal Mountains. It was a terrifyingly cold temperature along with the mile-long drops down into the gorges and cliffs below. With the train being the only traversable way through the mountains.
“Glad to see you’re awake.”
Lyra looked over at Twilight Sparkle and smiled, nodding.
“Are we almost there?” she asked, peeking behind the red-curtained window, only being able to see the snowy tempest outside the train.
Twilight checked the clock above the front door. “Actually, we just entered the mountains about twenty minutes ago, you’ve only been asleep for about ten.” She said with a small laugh, watching Sweetie Belle hop away from her current seat and back to the group of three fillies playing around in the cabin’s corner seat.
“No fair, that one was mine!” Scootaloo shouted at Dinky, who immediately resorted to whining as the Pegasus swiped a fruit slice from her hooves.
“Give it back to her!” the peach-furred Applebloom retorted, taking it back from her friend and returning it to the younger filly. The Pegasus merely grumbled in reply, annoyed.
Lyra sighed, turning back from the window. “So what were we talking about?”
“Well, you fell asleep,” Twilight laughed, “but I had just finished telling a scary story, and now it’s your turn.” She explained.
“It was so scary!” Derpy quipped from beside Twilight, who nodded with another giggle.
“Oh, sounds like fun.” She felt her stomach growl lightly “But can I get something to eat first? I really am starving…” Lyra said sheepishly, getting to her feet.
Twilight nodded. “Of course, here, I packed us some cookies-“
“Cookies?!” The Crusaders said in unison, dashing over to the unicorn’s side.
She smiled and pulled out a small paper bag, dropping a small treat into each of their outstretched hooves.
“Well gimme it then!”
Dinky walked by the three wrestling fillies as they fought for the food, bouncing up to Twilight, who watched whilst shaking her head as she handed a couple of the chocolatey snacks to Lyra.
“Um, Miss Twilight, can I have one?” she asked innocently, staring up at the unicorn with wide yellow eyes.
“That’s up to your mother, Dinky.” She replied, glancing over at the grey Pegasus beside her.
“Sure, me too, though!” Derpy grinned in response.
Twilight simply smiled and handed them the last two remaining snacks. “Well, that’s the last of them for now.”
“So how much longer until we arrive?” Lyra asked as she hastily gobbled her first cookie down in a couple bites.
“Well, it’s only us in this car, then there is the engine car,” Twilight said, pointing out the front window, gesturing to the car connected to theirs, pulling them through the snowy mountains, “although that would normally mean a very quick travel, the ride through these mountains is the most dangerous in Equestria. So that means steady and slow.”
As Twilight said, the Crystal Mountains are one of the most dangerous places known to ponydom, with sharp deadly turns, large and loose rocks to tumble down and crush non-careful explorers, chilling blizzards that were not merciful to any part of the mountains, sudden avalanches that can quickly swallow anything that gets in it’s way, and the unfathomably steep drops if one were to make a wrong step, or turn.
For those reasons, the train tracks weaving through the mountains were very dangerous and fragile, and could withstand only a certain weight limit, meaning single cars had to be driven through by an engine car one at a time.
“Oh hey girls, look where we are!” Twilight announced excitedly as she moved the red-velvet curtain aside and peeked out the frosty window.
The fillies hopped onto the seats and looked out with wide grins. Lyra peeked out as well. “What is it?” she asked curiously, only seeing an endless white snow flurry.
“Just wait, you’ll see…” Twilight smiled with wide eyes as she looked around, seeing something they could not.
“This is boring…” Scootaloo muttered.
“Yea, what are we trying to- whoa!” Sweetie yelped in surprise as the pure white ended, and her view was filled with a completely black drop.
Lyra’s blood ran cold. The train ride had led them onto a very thin bridge. On both sides of it, all they could see was the endless drop down into oblivion. She gazed upon the walls of the frightening canyon almost a mile away, with some rocky spires poking up through the dark drop down.
“Okay that’s spooky...where’d the blizzard go?” Sweetie mumbled.
Then the view abruptly ended, showing the sides of the tall mountains once again.
“We just entered the deepest, darkest place in the Crystal Mountains.” Twilight giggled at everypony’s scared expressions. “They call it… Abyssal Gorge.”
“How is this a gorge? There’s mountains everywhere in the middle of it!” Scootaloo spoke up.
Lyra’s eyes watched as the train sped by, showing flashes of splits in the mountains, showing the far drop down over and over again as the train elevation lowered as they rode down deeper, passing by multiple cliffs and drop offs mere inches away from the tracks. It appeared as though they were riding along the rim of the canyon.
She slowly turned away with a slight smile. “I’ve heard about this place. It’s supposed to be completely uninhabitable, right?”
Twilight nodded. “Yep, nopony knows how it was made or when it was discovered, but it’s been here longer than any area of the mountains, and it’s one of the most unexplored places in the land.” She explained as the fillies climbed down from the window edges and hopped onto the seats near Twilight.
“Alright, so it was my turn to tell a scary story?”
Sweetie Belle nodded excitedly.
After thinking for a bit, she thought of a good idea, “Alright, I got a good one,” she smirked, glancing out the window as the train made another sharp turn, forcing the others to adjust in their seats, “it’s about the Ponies of the Crystal Mountains.”
Twilight smiled, already having a good idea of the story Lyra would tell.
With an attentive audience, and a rather ominous voice, she began. “The legend goes, that a long time ago, there were ponies that actually lived in these mountains.
They were one of the oldest tribes ever, and lived happily in the freezing cliffs among this gorge.”
Lyra stopped to take another bite of her cookie, smiling as she saw the group listening intently, even though she’d barely started.
“These were ponies that enjoyed being near the cold, but couldn’t actually live in it. They used fires, blankets, stuff like that, of course. But one day…” Lyra paused to look at her audience.
Dinky had climbed into her mother’s arms as she listened, while the Crusaders just sat there, all equally listening, entranced by the unicorn’s spooky tone.
“They started disappearing...” Lyra watched with a smirk as the atmosphere quickly changed. Applebloom’s eager smile slowly turned into a frightened gaze.
“It continued for weeks. Their family, their neighbors, their friends, they kept just disappearing into the snowy mountains, they couldn’t figure out why for the longest time…” she paused again, looking out her window, “until one night, a little filly walked out of her cave and smelled the fresh, icy air… it was more icy than usual. Confused, the filly turned around... and when she did, there it was, staring at her, face to face…” Lyra lowered her voice quietly, staring back at the fillies with a devious grin.
“W-what was?” Derpy blurted out, shivering slightly herself.
Lyra looked at the others, who were listening expectantly “Do you really want to know?”
“Y-yes, at least I do...” Scootaloo said with a bit of curiosity and fear.
“It was...” Lyra gazed at them all, watching the fillies hold their breath, “a Razivore...”
“A what?” the fillies echoed in response, eyes wide. The lack of details the unicorn was giving made the tale all the more chilling.
She smirked. “Nopony is really sure exactly what they are, or how they look, just that their teeth and claws...are completely clear.” Derpy gulped, eyes glued to Lyra.
“The body, it practically blended into the snow. They say that the creatures were made from the ice, and their bodies were not of normal kind...”
“You would never see the attack coming. One second you’re minding your own business. Then the next…you’re gone.” Lyra tried not to giggle as she heard Scootaloo squeak slightly.
“After that…the ponies packed up their things, and left the Crystal Mountains forever, built their city on the outsides of it.” Lyra smiled and sat back, finishing the chillingly short tale.
“That can’t be it!” Sweetie Belle jumped up.
“Of course it is.” Lyra replied, grinning as she finished her cookie.
“There’s gotta be more. Why’d the Raz-thingies attack them? How come they just left?” she complained, not happy with the un-satisfying end.
Lyra simply shrugged, giggling at the frustrated filly.
“Well I thought it was a good story!” Derpy pointed out nervously, eyes darting from diagonal side-to-side.
Sweetie was about to continue, but yelped in surprise as the train car jerked to the side suddenly. “Dumb train!”
Twilight peeked out her window with a laugh “Sorry this ride isn’t super convenient. It’s the most difficult and dangerous train track ever to be constructed. It’s not perfect, so it won’t be devoid of bumps.”
The white filly rolled her eyes and sat back down.
“So, have anything else that is interesting?” the teal-coated unicorn asked absentmindedly, looking out the window again.
“Hmm, I could read a section from my book, ‘The Inner Mechanics of a Crystal’?” Twilight asked with a smile, reaching into her bag and pulling the book out with her horn glowing.
“No!” the three fillies groaned in unison.
Lyra giggled as the purple unicorn rolled her eyes. But there was something that broke the temporary silence.
There was a cry of shock as the train car violently shook, scaring the group. The lights flickered slightly as the metal of the roof creaked.
“Maybe I should go ask the conductors if everything is okay…” Twilight said, getting up from her seat and walking to the front door, where the driving car was connected through a railway.
“Oh, can I come?” Scootaloo asked excitedly as she hopped from her seat, quickly followed by the smiling face of Applebloom.
Twilight shook her head. “Sorry, my little ponies, it’s too dangerous out there, let me just check real-“
Lyra gasped with fright as the train lurched violently again as they felt something crash powerfully into its side.
The fillies were thrown to the floor from the crash while Twilight gripped onto a nearby bar. “What was th-?!“
The air was filled with the sound of metal breaking as the train suddenly tore against the mountain, and its speed was accelerating quickly.
Lyra looked out the window at the tracks, watching as thousands of sparks began to flurry into the air as the train’s brakes were slammed on, tossing Twilight onto the floor. Derpy gripped her daughter tight and held onto the seat as the train shook massively.
Twilight set her horn aglow and lifted the two fillies back to the seat with Sweetie Belle.
“Everypony hold on!”
As she rose to her hooves and tried to grab onto one of the seats and sit down, all ears popped as a shattering sound filled the air.
Lyra gasped and dove to the floor as well when the window next to her exploded into pieces and sent hundreds of shards flying throughout the car along with a few others.
No screams could be heard, only the ear-piercing cry of the icy wind as it tore through the train.
That’s when everything was lost.
The roar of tearing metal joined the air. Lyra felt the breath leave her lungs as another crash slammed into the train, she squeezed her eyes shut as tight as possible and clung onto a bar near the back door.
The metal tearing away and one final slam was all that was felt before, suddenly… nothing. Just the scream of the wind and the feel of falling was all Lyra experienced before everything went white...then black.
Why can’t I scream…
She could feel nothing to grab on to, only darkness.
The want, the need to fall was there.
But I don’t want to…
“Yes, I think you do.”
Lyra gasped and looked up, but no sound was made. She was deaf to her own voice.
It was a silhouette, a figure standing above her. But what was it?
“You know you want to let go…there’s no reason not to.”
Get away from me.
“It’s just a simple fall. It’ll all be over too quickly to think. Don’t think.”
It reached down, looking into her eyes. But all Lyra saw was silver…pure silver.
It was nothing, just herself looking into the sky.
She felt her body leave existence as she fell…and fell.
This time, she heard her scream, this time it was real.
Lyra could not move, she could only open her eyes. Everything was white.
Just like my pillow. She said to herself with a smile, pushing her hooves down to shift her position, the thought of her bed was so nice, she forgot about everything else.
It was completely peaceful as she nestled her head down further, closing her eyes and ignoring all else, and could only sigh as she adjusted her leg…
“Ouch!” She shrieked in surprise, bolting up into a sitting position and gripping her tail base with her hooves as a sharp pain shot through it. She gently rubbed the tender base, trying to rid of the stinging sensation.
After a few moments, the unicorn noticed her teeth were chattering.
But why? Her bedroom was perfectly warm as far as she could remember. Her golden eyes widened slightly as she turned her attention away from her tail, and looked around.
The blizzard of the Crystal Mountains raged around the green unicorn as she sat there in the snow.
“Wh-what…” she whispered to herself, unable to fathom the strange situation. But after a minute, it easily came back to her.
The train... had crashed.
Lyra couldn’t understand. They were all just sitting there... how could things change so fast? .
She jumped to her feet, wincing as her tail moved around and pain returned. She must’ve pulled it too hard at some point during the fall.
The fall…she fell.
The unicorn shook her head quickly as she limped forward. Peering through the hazy blizzard, her eyes quickly spotted a dark silhouette in the distance, but she gasped and dropped to the ground in pain, holding back a tear as she rose back up. Her entire body ached massively, but that didn’t matter.
“Twilight?” she called out weakly as she walked forward, now seeing the object clearly, it was the train.
Breaking into a trot, Lyra pushed her pain away and approached the crashed car, shuddering with fright as she noticed it was tipped over sideways. It made no sense… minutes earlier she had been inside it. “Derpy?” she spoke quietly, crouching down and peering into the sideways opening, trudging her aching hooves through the deep snow and stepping through the open doorway, it was bent outward, damaged beyond repair.
“I-is everypony okay?” she asked shakily, the mere question making her heart sink. The uncomfortable silence accompanying her hooves clanking against the metal sides of the tipped car did not help ease her worry. Had the others been thrown out of the train like her?
Her question was answered as she heard a whimpering cry from behind the large corner seat of the car. Lyra’s eyes widened with minor excitement as she peeked over.
“Lyra…” Derpy mumbled quietly, giving a small smile as she held her sleeping daughter in her arms.
“Derpy! Are you alright?” was the first thing that spilled out of the unicorn’s mouth as she inspected her friend and her daughter.
The Pegasus merely nodded in response, blonde mane hanging in strings near her eyes, seeming to only be shaken up from the event, a miracle.
“What happened?” she asked quietly, looking back into Lyra’s golden eyes with her yellow ones.
The unicorn sighed. “The train… I-I guess it crashed off the tracks,” said shakily, looking around, “and by the looks of it, tumbled down a very steep drop.”
Derpy nodded, understanding and stroking the filly’s mane slowly, unsure of what to say.
Lyra smiled, giving her friend a quick hug. “I’m gonna go look for the others. Stay here, alright?”
She received only a nod in response. Turning away, she did a quick search of the rest of the crashed car, but it was void of any other ponies.
She did happen to find a few of the group’s bags laying around, including hers stuck between the bars near the front door of the car. Quickly opening it, she found her favorite dark cerulean sweater inside, and slipped it onto her shivering coat.
It was a small comfort, but it was enough to earn a slight smile from the unicorn.
Lyra carefully climbed back out of the door, walking over to the other side of the car and looking around carefully. It seemed as though the back car had been pressed firmly against a tall boulder sitting in the snow. Luckily it had slid to it, any stronger of a crush would’ve destroyed the entire car. She shuddered at the thought.
It only seemed the snowy blizzard was getting strong, blowing furiously around the pony, causing her to lose her footing more than once, and sink into the snow. It was cold, and painful, but she kept searching, walking around the large boulder and inspecting the underside of the tipped car, it only took her but a moment to see a patch of snow wiggle next to one of the large, bent metal wheels.
Or at least it looked like snow for a moment before she saw the purple mane attached to it.
“Sweetie Belle!” Lyra gasped in surprise, crouching down beside the little filly curled up against the tipped underside of the train, shaking, and too scared to move.
When she reached a hoof out to touch her, Sweetie squeaked and turned, eyes wide with fright, but that immediately turned to happiness as she stood up and dove against Lyra, causing her to lose her balance and tumble back into the snow. She winced as her tail bent slightly.
Lyra was taken aback slightly, but smiled and patted the filly’s back reassuringly. “It’s okay Sweetie, you’re okay now…”
The snow-colored pony looked up with teary eyes, smiling. “I’m so happy to see you…w-we fell…” she spoke quickly, looking around at the crash, unsure exactly what to say.
“Shh…I know, I know,” she cradled the filly in her arms soothingly, making sure she had no injuries, another miracle.
“It was so cold...I felt like I couldn’t move.” she whimpered.
Lyra looked down into those bright green eyes, so innocent, so scared. She couldn’t hold back a tear herself. “Let’s get you inside.”
Derpy smiled; relieved as she watched Lyra gently set the filly down next to her. She had picked up Sweetie’s bag from outside, and brought it in. Reaching inside, she found two small, fuzzy white blankets. She draped them around the two, making sure Derpy could cover her daughter as well.
They smiled thankfully as Lyra stood up and looked back outside. “Keep warm, I’m going to check for the others.” She mumbled, walking back out into the blast of cold air and looking around. Yet there was not another pony to be spotted anywhere.
Only Lyra and the cold-bitter snow that flurried around the crash site. But an unexpected sound caught onto her ears, causing them to flick in response. She turned her head towards the front engine car. It was still attached to the passenger car.
The engineers! Lyra mentally gasped, trotting off to it, once again pushing her pain away and looking around the sides of the crashed train. This one had landed upright from the fall, making it easy for the unicorn to clamber up onto the railing.
She saw the locks on the metal door had broken off as she pushed it open with the glow of her horn and stepped inside. Her eyes shrunk slightly from the pure disaster of the inside..
Designed for lightweight travel and single-car pulls, the engine car’s coal-system was installed on the back inside of the engine car. Of course, the device was snuffed out from the violent crash.
The pipes and gadgets that ran across the ceiling of the car had almost all snapped off and crashed down to the floor. The entire car was covered in rubble and large metal and wooden parts broken into debris.
“H-hello? Is anypony here?” she called out loudly, her voice echoing slightly around the metal interior.
She gasped, hearing a groan sound from the back of the car. Eyes widened, she dashed over to it, pushing aside rubble to get the pained sound. Lyra frantically dug her hooves into the pile of debris and threw pieces out of the way. With the help of magic, she was able to reveal the trapped pony beneath.
She fearfully nudged a hoof against the Pegasus’ limp wing.
“Gah! Ouch!” Came the cry of the male, causing Lyra to suddenly jump back in fright.
“Oh I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to!” She said quickly, noticing that the pony’s wing was bent at an odd angle. Lyra was going to be sick…
He coughed slightly, opening his eyes and looking up at the unicorn. “No, it’s alright,” he looked around, groaning as he saw the condition of the car, trying to push himself up, which only ended in a yelp of pain. He looked over fatefully at his flight appendage. “M-my wing…it’s…”
“Don’t worry, we can fix that.” Lyra nodded reassuringly, having no idea if she just told a lie or not as she continued to move the large pieces of rubble from the pinned male. “Let’s just get you out of here.”
He coughed again painfully as a pipe was removed from his wing. “Yea, that sounds nice.”
Once Lyra had pulled him out of the wrecked engine car, she had a hard time slinging the injured Pegasus onto her back and heaving him all the way back into the other car.
The Pegasus sighed finally as she sat him down against the cold front door of the tipped train near Derpy, who was now cuddling for warmth against the two sleeping fillies under her arms.
“Thanks.” He nodded to her.
She smiled in reply and carefully lay on her side against the ‘floor’ of the car “Do you know what happened to the other conductor?” she asked quietly, glancing at Derpy, who watched them with dreary eyes.
The male nodded his head slowly. “These tracks have always been the most dangerous known to Equestria. I guess our train was the one unlucky enough to hit a huge chunk of rock, and after that…well,” he gulped, “everything crashed. I watched her get thrown out of the car as we fell. It’s probably what happened to the other three that were riding…” he explained solemnly, shaking his head at the horrible simplicity of the situation.
They hit a rock, now they were stranded in a freezing canyon.
Lyra sighed quietly. “I fell out too. It’s truly a miracle that any of us are alive.” She said, staring at the floor blankly.
The two Pegasi nodded silently. Derpy began to drift off to sleep, completely exhausted from the events that happened so suddenly on a seemingly peaceful train ride.
Lyra looked at the stallion. “Hey, get some sleep. We’re stranded here with no means of communication and we were the last train. We’re gonna be here awhile.”
She could barely form the words and speak them, let alone believe them herself.
“The best we can do now is get some good rest and try to wait until this blizzard passes before doing anything.” She explained, talking more to herself now as she watched the Pegasus slowly doze off, slumping against the door oddly.
The green-coated unicorn just lay there for a while, contemplating everything.
It all seemed so unreal. She was trying to convince herself that any minute now she would wake up safe and sound aboard the train with all of her friends, eating snacks and telling more stories.
How could she have ever thought that the train ride would end up in complete…hell?
There was nopony to help, nopony to save them. They would have no idea where to look in the mountains. Even if a search party was issued to go look for the missing train, it would take a week for them to be found.
Lyra just watched the floor, shaking her head slowly as a single tear rolled down her cheek. But it meant nothing.
She had never thought of herself as a leader before, merely a friend who loved to watch out for others. But now as she looked around at the sleeping group, she could see that this was real, and they needed help.
I have to do something… she thought as she rose to her feet once more, getting an idea.
The unicorn stepped out into the still-raging blizzard, walking away from the crashed train and looking around for any sign of Twilight and the other two Crusaders. But any hoofsteps would have been covered up with fresh snow by now.
She shook her head and set her horn aglow, stopping as she stepped up onto a small boulder, looking out into the pure white sky and speaking:
“This is a message to anypony out there. There are five of us. We are stranded in a frozen canyon in the Crystal Mountains. Our food supply is low, we do not have much warmth, or shelter. There is very little chance of survival in this harsh abyss. My name is Lyra Heartstrings, if there is anypony there, anywhere, please...help us.”
Her horn shined brightly against the white sky, she struggled and clenched her teeth as she summoned all her energy, and with one bright flash of light, the magical message shot out into the air.
Lyra could only hope, and pray that it would be received by somepony as she stumbled back through the icy winds to her remaining friends.
It was going to be a long night.