- Tango with Charon -_part one_
"Please tell me why I had to go with you?", Spike muttered, sitting on Twilight Sparkle's back and holding a small lamp filled with fireflies.
"Spike, you should know that at best. If we get lost here you can always send a S.o.S.-letter to Princess Celestia so she can send us a rescue squad.", the violet pony replied with an amused smile.
"Oh...well, that makes sense", the purple dragon sighed, knowing that he already lost the argue. The ponies (and dragon) were already within the heart of the Everfree Forest. Twilight Sparkle wore her expedition hat as well carried several archeology tools along such as a pickaxe, rope, and brushes. The others were trotting along but remained quiet. They had been here before when they had to stop Nightmare Moon's attempt to bring eternal night onto Equestria. Or the time when they were looking for Zecora. Nothing has changed much since their last entering: Big old trees covering the skies like clouds, strange noises coming from the dark corners of the woods, and the weird feeling of being watched. And now here we are for no reason at all, Applejack thought frowning and tried to suppress her fears of this cursed forest. Just some adventure with somepony who takes filly stories literally. She sighed and looked towards the excited Twilight. Well, can't be helped, she added mentally. She had asked Big Mac' for taking over her shift and would in return doing his one later, but she didn't like skipping work. Not for something meaningless as this.
"So um...", Dash started, looking at Twilight uncertain. "What is this Andromeda tale about?"
"You mean you never heard of it?", asked Twilight Sparkle surprised. "It's common knowledge, or did you never had it at flight school?"
"Err... oh yeah, I did, but didn't listen to the whole details", Dash tried to excuse herself and waved a hoof dismissively, a forced chuckling leaving her raspy voice." You know I am not much of a bookworm, Twilight...no offense."
"Oh, oh, can I tell, may I, may I?", Pinkie Pie jumped between the unicorn and the pegasus,making them both jump up at surprise. Twilight Sparkle rolled her eyes and sighed: "Yeah, sure, Pinkie."
The pink Pony squeaked happily and jumped before all ponies while walking backwards as if she was levitating.
"Ahem", she coughed to get all attention from her friends before she could start singing:
"Long ago, when gods lived in the skies,
they send their angels to the stars beyond highs.
Indeed with their powers
they freshened the lone towers
with live and joy.
But the angels lost their holy ploy,
they fell from heaven.
They wanted back home,
knocked at their lords' door,
but they abandoned them, becoming alone.
"Why don't you let us in?", they cried,
their tears turning to meteors,
but then their hope died.
Forced out of heaven,
devils they became,
and waged war on each other
for glory and claim.
They crafted new stars,
one brighter than the other,
until one made the biggest on Mars:
Andromeda she was called,
the most beautiful, yet most brawled.
She lifted to heaven, reaching to the gods,
and then by all odds..."
Pinkie Pie stopped walking and put made a thinker pose. "Hmm, I can't remember the rest. It was something about ka-boom. Oh right!KABOOM!", she cried out loud, making the others ponies jump up again. "And they fell into doom! The end!" The pink pony jumped several times and clopped her hoofs in joy.
"Well, that certainly was one pony tale", Rarity commented, not sure if this was the version she heard back then at fohlengarten.
"Oh, I love it, it's my favourite. I especially liked the part where everything went KA-Boooooooooom..." The pink pony didn't look behind her back as she continued going backwards until she realized that she fell from a cliff.
"Pinkie Pie!", Twilight screamed shocked, but Dash reacted faster. She dived like light itself into the abyss, leaving a trail of rainbow behind, and came back with Pinkie Pie on her back.
"Oopsie, how clumsy-dumbsy from me. Thanks Rainbow", the pink pony chuckled in amusement, not minding the fact that she nearly died.
After the ponies recollected themselves at the matter of hoofs, they looked down the cliff. It was a huge chasm which reached a radius of several miles, and within was pure darkness. Applejack kicked a big rock to the chasm. It fell into the void without further complaint. The group waited for the momentum of the rebound, and it took a long time until they heard a dull bang.
"Well, what now, Twi?", AJ asked coolly. The violet pony's snooze rustled in her traveling pack and took the map out. Twilight unwrapped and studied it, Spike giving her enough light with the small lamp.
"I am certain of it, the temple must be down there", she stated in her analytical manner.
Fluttershy gasped and started to tremble all over her body. Down there?
"You kiddin', right?", Applejack asked frowning. Twilight shook her head with closed eyed. "Look, Twi, ah know you really want to find dat temple, but dat is complete suicide!", the orange pony said concerned.
"What's wrong, Applejack? Scared of one hole?", Rainbow Dash asked jokingly, and threw her hoofs up to make ghostly "woo-hoo" gestures. Pinkie Pie joined, probably just for fun rather than to provoke Applejack.
"Of course not", the orange pony said, giving a dark glare at both. "But ah ain' no daredevil! Jus' how d'yeh think we can get down there without risking all our lives, Rainbow? Yeh an' Fluttershy can't get all of us down ground in that height!"
"Don't worry, AJ, I knew this could be case, so I made certain preparations before we left." Everypony turned all their attention to Twilight Sparkle. Suddenly there laid a full blown hot air balloon beside her. Spike was putting the fireflies into an manually installed headlight.
"Errr, how did ye do that?", AJ asked surprised, like the others gaping.
"It's a summon spell which can teleport objects over wide ranges. It doesn't work well with living beings, but it's more than enough", she replied casually, went with Spike into the basket, and looked out again with a huge grin. "Tickets, please."
The balloon dived deeper and deeper into the abyss of darkness. Only the fire to lift the balloon and a the headlight were able to lit the black space, but only a little. The beautifully crafted designs on both balloon and basked were almost covered by shadows. The only pony who wasn't sitting in the basked was Rainbow Dash who was flying closely to the balloon to look out for sharp edges. Twilight was controlling both the fire and the headlight and thus coordinated the flight. Fluttershy was hiding between Rarity and Applejack and laid on the ground with her hoofs covering her eyes while whispering "There is no place like home, there is no place like home." Rarity was also trembling slightly, and Applejack tried to keep a steady face. She didn't tell the others about it, but she suffered from vertigo. It wasn't bad when it comes to, say, jumping from ten meter high, but when she was flying down the darkness with no end? Yeah, even she would be creeped out a little. Pinkie Pie was oblivious to all of this and ate some cupcakes she packet as rations. However she noticed that Spike was sitting in one corner, making a thinker pose.
"Spike, what's wrong?", the pink pony asked concerned.
"I just don't get it", came the simple reply from the purple dragon.
"Get what?", she asked, craning her neck.
"Why were the angels forced out of heaven? And more importantly, why did they waged war on each other? It doesn't make any sense..."
"Yeah", Rainbow appeared before them and looked also deep in thought. "If I were forced out of Cloudsville I couldn't wage war on you guys, although I know I would defeat all of you definitively just with my awesomeness".
"Ach, Spike, it jus' sum mares tale told to li'l fillies to teach them the value of friendship. Dun' take it seriously", Applejack tried to comfort Spike while ignoring Dash's usual smugness.
"On the contrary, there are several interpretations to this tale, one contradicting the other", Twilight Sparkle quipped in, earning an annoyed look from the orange pony. "One goes that huge meteor showers happened all over the skies and our ancestors believed that it was a war between angels. The other said it was an old memory when all ponies had wings and horns long before Princess Celestia and Luna ruled over sun and moon. But for some reason they divided into the three types of ponies we know: Earth pony, unicorn and pegasus. The factions waged war on each other for winning territories over Equestria. Andromeda was maybe a spell performed by a really strong sorcerer which brought nearly the whole annihilation of ponykind. If Princess Celestia and Princess Luna didn't became the rulers of Equestria and brought in harmony to the three factions, maybe we still would be in war."
She just realized that the others looked at her with wide eyes. She tried to reassure them with an embarrassed smile and a light chuckle: "Well, that's how the interpretation goes. Princess Celestia isn't really eloquent about what happened before her."
"You don't believe it, Twilight?", Pinkie asked curiously.
"I... don't know, I was actually like Applejack about this until I came across those old documents. Also, remember when I found out about the return of Nightmare Moon just by reading old tales? Maybe angels did exist."
"And ah still say they don't!", Applejack encountered, getting tired of Twilight's optimism. The violet pony raised an eyebrow towards AJ who in return sighed. " Look, maybe ye have been right about Nightmare Moon, but angels jus' ain't real! There never had been any traces of them, and Princess Celestia values science, ye are the very proof! From the beginning there hav' been only ponies and it will only be ponies."
"Don't be silly, AJ, we know little to nothing what happened before Princess Celestia, and Andromeda's tale is the only lead which could answer what happened before us ponies." Twilight encountered starkly, disregarding her former duty.
"Ah say it once more, this is jus' sum poetical excuse to teach li'l fillies not to harm the others if dung hits the fan. Ye are following nuthin' but a dream, Twi!", Applejack shot back. Soon both ponies were arguing, pushing their heads against each other like two enraged deers. The other ponies were shifting uncomfortably at the situation.
Spike raised his tiny claw and started with: "Uhh...Twilight-"
" You are the very one who believes every pony tale like curses and evil zebras, so don't tell me what I am following or not, Miss li'l voice of reason !", Twilight Sparkle interrupted Spike and pushed her head stronger than before.
"Oh yeah, then maybe ye should've gone a lot more outside 'cause that bookwormin' of yers made yer brain dried up from reality", Applejack sneered and pushed her head forward in return. Suddenly there was a rumble and the others except the arguing ponies shot their heads up, and their eyes widened in shock.
"You don't understand any value of scientific research, your horizon is as far as your apple farm is. This has to be done for the sake of understanding the world of Equestria, end of discussion."
"Oh yeah, maybe ye should rather help me harvesting dem apples than to live in a library to understand what live is about-"
"Twilight, Twilight, Twi-i-i-i-light!", Pinkie Pie started in a sing-sang voice, hopping around them as if she was trying to summon the rain.
"WHAT?", both screamed at the annoying pink pony.
"We're falling into doom", shefinished her singing with making an impressing pose, her hoof pointing upwards. They both looked up and gasped. Twilight forgot to check the fire lift and now it burned a hole into the envelope.
"Oh", they replied, realizing that they screwed up big time. "Er...sorry", Twilight excused herself with a small chuckle before the balloon started to fall at full speed. All sitting in them screamed out of panic. Rainbow Dash flew under the basked and tried to hold it with all her strength, but the basked started soon to press her down the abyss.
"Arrgh, I can't hold it much longer!", she grunted. "Fluttlershy, I need your help!". But the yellow pony trembled even stronger, still muttering "There is no place like home, there is no place like home."
"Do something, Twilight!", Spike pleaded her, holding her tail as if there was no tomorrow.
"Hold on, guys!", she said, her horn started to glow in a violet aura. This aura spread over the envelope and its damage started to disappear little by little. But unfortunately, it came into contact with the fire and a huge explosion erupted, knocking the basked even faster downwards, Rainbow Dash loosing halt and being thrown off.
"Damn!" Twilight Sparkle shouted out of frustration. She turned to the delusional yellow pony and roared like a manticore: "FLUTTERSHY, GET DOWN THERE IMMEDIATLY!"
Fluttershy's eyes shot up and did so as she was asked, this time scared more by Twilight's wrath than by her coming death. She pushed the basked with all her might, adrenalin started kicking in her blood out of fear. Rainbow Dash catched up once more and helped Fluttershy holding the falling basked. Both pegasi managed to get hold of it and lifted the basket slowly further down. The other ponies and Spike cheered for both, happy they survived the fall.
It wasn't long until the pegasi finally managed to land on solid ground. Both Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy collapsed and breathed heavily like they were running for the annual Running of the Leaves.
The others left the basket carefully, still shaken up from the near death scenario. "Thanks a lot, both of you.", Twilight said relieved while dismounting the headlight.
"Oh, it- it was nothing", Dash groaned heavily, trying to keep on a tough look. "The- sonic rainboom was—more of a challenge. " Fluttershy supported the statement with a weak "Yaaaaaaay."
"Sure ye do, sugarcube", smiled Applejack, but focused on the new surrounding then. It was pitch dark, they can barely even see their own hoofs if it weren't for the dimly lit light of the fireflies.
"Oh my, where ARE we exactly?", Rarity asked out loud, feeling kinda silly making that question.
...are we exactly.. came the replay out of nothing, making the white pony jump.
"OOOOH, I love echos!", Pinkie Pie squealed and started to make several sounds alien to the group which came back with even more alien copies. Then she started singing just to receive more echos:
"Giggle at the ghosty.
Guffaw at the grossly.
Crack up at the cree-"
She would've went on if AJ hadn't put a hoof into her mouth to make her silent.
"So, what now, Twi?", she asked the violet pony.
"Simple, we do for what we came for." She replied casually, binding the headlight around her neck. "Looking for the temple of the angles."
The deep end of the chasm revealed itself as a labyrinth of caverns which went different roads, diving into the deepest pits of the darkness. Stalagmites and stalactites were touching each other ends, revealing itself as a feral grin of the caves, the constant dripping of the water its savor as if the darkness was waiting for its next prey to devour into its black yap.
The group formed a line where each holds the tail of the other by their mouth. Only Fluttershy was to scared to and hid herself under Rainbow Dash wings. She snuggling up to the blue pegasus closely, making Dash blush out of embarrassment. Twilight was leading the group and lit the road ahead them while checking the map several times. Spike sat on her back who looked around scared.
"Calm down, Spike, there is nothing here", the violet pony told the purple dragon.
"Oh yeah,so no temples either?", AJ muttered while still holding Rainbow Dash's tail.
"But what about...Morlocks?", Spike stammered, starting to hyperventilate, causing the other ponies to look around in fear.
"There are no Morlocks, Spike, they are just made up fairy creatures", Twilight said and rolled her eyes.
"Uh-huh...like angels", AJ further muttered,the emphasis of the word angels made her biting deeply into Dash's tail.
"OWW!", Rainbow Dash shot up in the air while holding her tail. "That's it, Applejack, I am sick of you biting my tail the whole time.", she shouted at her angrily and flew ahead.
"Rainbow Dash, wait!", Twilight Sparkle shouted "That isn't the right road, come back!" But the blue pegasus was already gone, leaving the rest. Fluttershy lost her only cover and squeaked at shock and tried to hide in AJ's bound tail.
"Great", Twilight Sparkle groaned. "That's what we really need now." She looked around and tried to recollect herself. But she was interrupted once Rainbow showed up again, this time with a surprised look.
"Hey guys, you can't believe what I just found!", the pegasus said out of pure excitement.
"What, is it the temples?", Twilight asked, getting euphoric as well.
"It is so AWESOME!", she squealed and guided the group to her discovery. The others, AJ included, followed her, getting eager to what made Rainbow so hype. Suddenly when Dash went into the next corner, the ponies and the dragon saw a dim light source at the far end. The light became bright and brighter when they came closer to it. Then they saw it. It blew their minds off.
"Woah", they all whispered in their own way.