Finally! I've got the second chapter done. At first, I feared it was going to be a Luna-only chapter, but things turned out well.
I do not own Elder Scrolls or MLP. They are owned by Bethesda and Hasbro respectively.
She must have been tired, because when Twilight awoke, it was the middle of the night. It had been merely 10 o'clock when she and the others arrive in Canterlot and upon looking at the clock on the wall, it was nine at night. But at least this time, she didn't need to reach for the First Aid kit. No new wounds and bruises appeared on her body and the old ones were healing nicely.
Either Princess Luna did a good job keeping her nightmares away, or Vaermina finally left them alone…for now?
Whatever the reason, Twilight got up and lit an oil lamp, making sure that it was bright enough for what she was going to do, but not bright enough to wake a sleeping Spike. She then pulled out a piece of parchment and a quill, with which she wrote Spike a note, telling him she would return. Once that was done, Twilight left her room and entered the throne room, where Princess Luna was in Celestia's usual place. Seeing the Princess of Friendship, Luna spoke.
"Are you well, Twilight? Celestia told me…about Vaermina."
Twilight slowly approached the Princess of the Night.
"Well, I was finally able to get a decent amount of sleep. Even if I did wake up later than I wanted."
Luna stepped down from the throne and approached Twilight. She placed a hoof on Twilight's head and her own horn glowed a shimmering blue.
"It seems all Daedric influence has left you. But I am curious as to why you and your friends were visited by the Daedric Prince of Dreams, Nightmares, and Evil Omens?"
Twilight proceed to explain to Luna about what has been happening for the past week and about Hermaeus Mora's "invitation" to Apocrypha. The new princess then remembered that Celestia had said that the young mare would be tested in the realm of this particular Prince. She then proceeded to ask Luna a question.
"Princess Luna. If you can…can you tell me anything…anything, about Apocrypha?"
Luna remained silent for a moment before gazing towards the moon, her memories coming back like a flash flood.
"It is truly a challenging place to visit, especially if you have a thirst for knowledge. Hermaeus Mora does live up to his title as the Prince of Fate and Forbidden Knowledge. His domain is, in fact, the largest library in both this world and Nirn. With each new book, his library grows. Those who seek the knowledge Mora keeps would at times bring offerings of knowledge to him in exchange for finding what they seek. But, like all realms, Apocrypha is not without its dangers."
"Such as?" Twilight asked, soaking up all the information like a sponge.
"If I remember correctly, the Princes have creatures that they themselves have made to do their bidding. These creatures, despite coming in various forms, are known as Daedra. The daedra in Apocrypha, I have seen two of."
"What are they?" Twilight asked.
Luna answered, a shiver escaping from her.
"The first of those creatures that my sister and I faced first was a giant daedra known as a Lurker. Not only was it strong, but it had the ability to spew a poisonous bile upon you. The effects were only temporary, but it would give the Lurker time to attack. However, it is the second form of daedra that I feel actual pity for."
She kept quiet for a moment before she uttered the name.
"The Seekers?" Twilight asked.
Luna looked at her with sadness in her eyes.
"Once, they were ordinary mortals. I don't know if any of them were ponies once upon a time, but they are what a mortal becomes once they become enamored by the knowledge that Mora keeps. In short, don't get caught up in Mora's tomes that you'd forget everything around you. Otherwise…"
"…otherwise I'll become a Seeker." Twilight finished grimly.
It was just cruel. To have such an innocent love of knowledge only for it to be one's own doing once they entered Apocrypha. Now she knew why Celestia proclaimed that this will be Twilight's greatest test. And if Apocrypha was exactly what she thought, then Twilight would find the temptations very difficult to resist.
She looked to Luna again, her eyes pleading for advice.
"What should I do if I'm being tempted there?"
The Princess of the Night answered as if it were a question a school-filly was asking.
"Just keep yourself focused on the task at hoof. Think about the vision you and the others have experienced. Heed my sister's instructions. And above all: trust yourself, Twilight Sparkle."
"Easy for you to say." Twilight thought as she felt her eyes becoming heavy.
"I…I will try to remember, Princess. In the meantime, I think sleep's calling to me again."
Luna nodded at Twilight's response.
"Rest well, Twilight. You will need all of your strength for the morning."
As the Princess of Friendship returned to bed, Luna turned her head to the moon, her memories playing out in her mind. She hoped never to have encountered the Daedra again, especially the Princes.
But if Vaermina was so insistent to make the knowledge of the Daedra known to Equestria's newest princess and her friends, something must be up.
The Next Morning…
It was 8 o'clock when the six ponies awoke feeling refreshed and, following a hearty breakfast, met up with Celestia and Luna at the princesses' private parlor. There, the black book that Twilight found the previous day was sitting on top of a pedestal, the glass wall opposite of the fireplace closed, giving the book an ominous appearance.
Twilight gulped as she and her friends halted in the center of the room. Luna proceeded to use her magic to levitate a saddlebag onto Twilight's back. As Twilight felt the saddlebag securing itself, she noticed that Celestia also had saddlebags on her back and that she was absent of her crown and regalia. This was a first for Twilight to see her mentor and idol almost bare.
Once the saddlebag was fastened, Luna spoke.
"I have made sure the two of you had enough healing potions to get you through Apocrypha, but use them when you really need them. Lurkers and Seekers are no pushovers. Not to mention Hermaeus Mora himself will test you."
Twilight blinked in surprise.
"Hermaeus Mora? But…he wants to see us. Why make us go through a test just to see him?"
Celestia lifted up a hoof to suppress her former student's questions.
"It is within reason that Mora knows of your love of knowledge, Twilight. No doubt he wonders of your resilience and determination to speak with him despite that Apocrypha is a library filled with much knowledge."
Twilight remained silent, contemplating her desires and the threats of this particular realm of Oblivion. It was then she felt hooves on her shoulders.
"I'm sure she can handle this, Princess." Applejack spoke up.
"Yeah. This is Twilight we're talking about. I bet she'll be fine in this place." Rainbow Dash spoke with such confidence.
"We're rooting for you, Twilight." Fluttershy cheered quietly.
"Be sure to keep yourself well, darling. I may not know what Apocrypha is like, but remember that you should be presentable to a prince. Even if it is a Daedric Prince." Rarity counseled her.
Pinkie Pie beamed as she stood in front of Twilight.
"I'll be sure to whip up a party for when you come back."
Twilight couldn't help but smile at her friends' words of encouragement. She could always count on them to lift her spirits. Even though Spike was still asleep in the chamber he and Twilight were staying in, the young alicorn knew that he would cheer her on as well.
Celestia and Luna smiled at the scene before the two sisters embraced one another.
"Be careful, sister. I do not wish to lose my sister again."
Celestia let a single tear fall as she spoke to her sister.
"You won't, Luna. I promise I will come back."
Once the sisters broke out of their embrace, Celestia looked to Twilight, who broke free of hers.
"Are you ready, Twilight?"
The Princess of Friendship took in a deep breath as she nodded.
"As I will ever be."
With that, the younger princess walked over to the Sun Princess' right and stood still. Luna then spoke out as she moved away from the pair.
"Stand back, everypony."
It was then that Celestia used her magic to open the black book.
The other six ponies could only watch as neon green scriptures flew out of the page and circled the two princesses, waving around like the wind. Suddenly, the two jerked into a prostrated stance as the scripture flashed brightly, causing the other ponies to cover their eyes. Once the light faded, Luna motioned the five to move to the left and right of the princesses. The five ponies did so and jumped back after what they had saw.
Celestia and Twilight's eyes were pure white, a faint green glow coming from their eyes.
"It is done." Luna spoke. "My sister's and Twilight's consciousness are now in Apocrypha."
With Twilight and Celestia…
When Celestia opened the book, Twilight's vision became black. Seconds later, she found herself waking up as if she had been knocked out cold. She could hear Celestia speak to her as she struggled to regain her vision.
"Are you alright, Twilight?"
Twilight felt herself standing up, though a little shaky. She struggled to open her eyes as her blurred vision depicted something white looking at her.
"I think so." Twilight replied as her vision cleared.
Once it did, she found herself seeing an amazing sight.
No longer was she in Canterlot Castle's parlor. In fact, she was certain she wasn't in Equestria anymore. Instead, she found herself in a world where any sunlight was blocked by a green fog. There were stone platforms and the like, but everything else seemed to be made entirely of books. Looking at the platform she was on, Twilight could see an endless see of black water.
She didn't know whether to be amazed or terrified.
"Princess… Is this…?"
Celestia nodded to her former student's awe.
"Yes, Twilight. We are in Apocrypha, the realm of Hermaeus Mora."
It was then that Celestia began to walk forward.
"Stay close, Twilight. Daedric realms can be very treacherous."
Remembering Princess Luna's warnings about Apocrypha, Twilight was quick to catch up with Celestia as she kept her eyes out for any Daedra.
As they walked, Twilight began to ask questions.
"So…how are we going to find Hermaeus Mora?"
Recounting her memories, Celestia answered Twilight as she kept her eyes out for anything dangerous.
"We must follow these 'corridors' and use the large book at the end to traverse Apocrypha. Each part of Apocrypha is different and it is like a maze. There are even locations that have moving sections that could deter our path. We must also watch out for Daedra as well."
After some silence, Twilight spoke again.
"Princess Luna told me about the Lurkers and the Seekers last night. She especially warned me about the Seekers and that there was a possibility that I…might…become one…"
Her voice trailed off, causing Celestia to look at her protégé.
She had seen that expression before, but with Luna. With herself as well. It was their first time in the realm of Oblivion and they were cautious, but desperate in the fight against Discord. If it wasn't for Hermaeus Mora, neither Celestia nor Luna would have learned about the Tree of Harmony and the Elements of Harmony. They owed the safety of their kingdom to the Prince of Fate and Forbidden Knowledge. But the trek of reaching the Prince was just as harrowing for them as it was now for Twilight Sparkle.
Twilight felt a gentle wing over her body and looked up to see the motherly smile of Princess Celestia.
"It will be alright, Twilight. Unlike when Luna and I were here, one of us has experience. I promise you will not become a Seeker."
Though she was still afraid, Twilight smiled in gratitude for Celestia's compassion and wisdom.
With all her mental might, Twilight took the first step.
It seemed like hours since Twilight and Celestia entered Apocrypha and Twilight was getting tired. Celestia wasn't kidding that the place was treacherous. They had gone through corridors that moved and warped on their own and confronted Daedra along the way. Each of them the two alicorns fought against with their magic.
The first Daedra the two encountered were a trio of Seekers. They were ghostly squid-like figures with tattered ropes. They were preoccupied with maintaining their master's library when they spotted the two outsiders and attacked. Their basic attacks were the use of sound waves that sent Twilight back due to her small frame. Celestia was quick to dispose of two Daedra but was unable to do the same to the third seeker as it vanished into thin air. It wasn't until a fresh claw mark appeared on Celestia's shoulder that they found that the Seeker became invisible. Celestia was quick to use a locater spell to find the Daedra just as it was approaching Twilight.
After encountering more Seekers along the way and evading black tentacles that whipped at them, they came to an area with a pool of the black liquid. They kept a good distance away from the substance in case there was another tentacle. But they were proven wrong when they were just halfway towards one of the books they had been traversing Apocrypha with.
Rising from the liquid stood a bipedal creature taller than even Discord. It looked very strong from the look of its muscles. It had skin in a sickening purple and its head almost resembled that of a fish. A carnivorous fish. Upon seeing them, the giant attacked the two alicorns. This time, Twilight flew around to distract the bile-spewing Daedra while Celestia used offensive spells against it until it fell. It was afterwards that Celestia told Twilight that the creature was a Lurker.
It was at this book that Celestia spoke.
"We are close to him. Very close."
Without another word, Twilight and Celestia allowed the book's magic to traverse them to another place in Apocrypha. This time, it was a single platform of stone in the center of the black sea. It was several leagues upwards so there was no threat of the tentacles and there were no more books, save for the one they came in from.
Twilight looked to Celestia, the latter having narrowed her eyes in seriousness as she spoke into the green mist-covered sky.
"Hermaeus Mora. We are here as your 'invitation' stated. We have brought offerings to the knowledge you keep."
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a deep voice chuckled.
"I am pleased you have come to my realm once again, Princess Celestia of Equestria. And I have seen you have brought your former pupil as well."
To Twilight's horror, black spots began to speckle the sky, each larger than the last. From these spots tentacles and eyes appeared. And in front of her and Celestia was the largest eye of them all with a figure-8-shaped pupil, surrounded a mass of tentacles. The new princess could only gape as she gave a pretty good guess on what or who these masses of tentacles and eyes were.
Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Fate and Forbidden Knowledge.