Chapter 7: Message in the Painting
Gaia, 0 C.E.
Derpy's head was still spinning when the Doctor stepped through the TARDIS doors. Her eyes felt like they were spinning around in their sockets but she realized that they were just inverting again and she relaxed herself in order to allow her eyes to go back into place. She looked up as the Doctor knelt down next to her. Derpy found herself staring deep into the Doctor's eyes. They looked young and new but also incredibly old. Derpy could tell that a long and incredibly complicated life hid behind those dark pupils. She wanted to know what that life held but she also afraid to even begin to try and comprehend what the Doctor might have experienced earlier in his life.
"Derpy?" he asked, a kind and comforting tone in his voice. "Are you okay?" Derpy nodded as she sat up and stretched her wings. Her ears were ringing a bit and certain parts of her body were sore but she was feeling mostly fine. At least nothing was broken.
"Where is she? Where's Nightmare Moon?" Derpy asked. The Doctor sighed and turned back towards the doorway. Derpy smiled at the sight of sunlight pouring in through the open TARDIS doors.
"She's gone." Derpy looked back at the Doctor. He looked genuinely sad. Derpy rested one of her hooves on one of the Doctor's hooves. He gasped at the unexpected touch and looked down at her. Derpy smiled up at him.
"Don't be sad. She'll return one day, and when that day comes she'll finally be saved." The Doctor smiled and nodded. He then looked at the doors before turning back to Derpy.
"So how did you get into the TARDIS in the first place?" Derpy looked around until she found it. She grabbed the key off the ground and presented it to the Doctor.
"It fell out of one of your pockets while you were fighting Nightmare Moon. I used it to unlock the door." She gripped it tightly before shoving it in the Doctor's direction. "I guess you want it back now."
"Yes...that would be nice." The Doctor extended his hoof and Derpy proceeded to give him the key. The Doctor smiled and giggled as she held the key with his hoof. He was such a strange pony...but that didn't stop Derpy from beginning to like his quirkiness. The Doctor dropped the key into one of his suit pockets before looking back at Derpy. "Thank you."
"For what? All I did was catch your key and unlock the TARDIS. I basically spent the rest of the time getting tossed around by Nightmare Moon, or at least that's what I think happened. I'm still slightly dizzy and am a bit confused about what happened several minutes ago." The Doctor laughed again.
"Thank you for just being brilliant." Derpy blushed a bit.
"No I'm not."
"Yes you are! You're...you're-" The Doctor fell silent. He looked like he was remembering something. Derpy was unsure of what this memory was but she could tell that it wasn't happy.
"Doctor?" The Doctor snapped out of his trance and his smile returned with haste. He stood up and extended one of his hooves. Derpy took the Doctor's hoof and allowed him to help her up. Derpy turned towards the open doors and gasped. "What about Celestia?" The Doctor looked like he just swallowed something sour. He turned away from Derpy and made a mad dash for the doors. Derpy followed in hot pursuit.
How could he have been so stupid? How could he have just left Celestia lying out there on the ground unprotected? He had been worried about Derpy. He had to make sure that she was okay. Something familiar was beginning to rise in him.
"Don't let me go back! Don't make me go back!" echoed the voice of a lost friend from deep within the Doctor's memories. The Doctor shook the voice away as he ran towards the unconscious Princess Celestia. The sunlight reflected off her white coat and made her look heavenly in nature and appearance. She stirred and slowly began to come to.
"Your majesty?" Derpy asked. The Doctor's attention was suddenly drawn to the Elements of Harmony, which were scattered on the ground around the Princess. Steam stopped emitting from the surface of the gems. Suddenly, a rocky substance began wrapping itself around each gem. Within seconds, each Element of Harmony was concealed within a perfect sphere of rock.
"Magic sure is different from technology," said the Doctor with a bit of wonder. His attention was drawn back to the Princess, who was now pulling herself up. "I must say, your majesty, you sure recovered quickly."
"The sun is my spiritual and magical ally, Doctor. Its presence allowed me to heal quicker than I normally would if it were still night," Celestia replied. The Doctor looked up at the clear blue sky.
"So, where have you sent the Moon?" Celestia was silent for a moment. The Doctor examined her face and saw that it was filled with an incredible sadness. The Princess took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. When she turned to look at the Doctor, all emotion had gone from her face.
"With Luna gone, I now have control over both the sun and the Moon. I have temporarily made the Moon invisible and have spread the sun's light all across the planet. In a few hours I will send the sun to the other side of the planet, bring the Moon back into view, and allow the sun and the Moon to continue on their original cycles." The Doctor smiled.
"Brilliant. A planet in which the sun revolves around it under the influence of magic. I'm looking forward to learning more about this world," said the Doctor under his breath. He looked at the Elements and asked, "What of the Elements?" Celestia examined the Elements and sighed.
"They have gone into hibernation. Banishing Luna to the Moon stole much energy from them. It will be a long time before they awaken."
"What will you do with them?" Celestia looked back at the castle in the distance and exhaled deeply.
"I will seal them away in the castle and leave the castle behind. It is time for a new landmark to be built in Equestria. I want a city that can stand proudly and present what Equestria should be: a peaceful and wondrous place." Celestia suddenly turned to look at a mountain situated off in the distance. It was incredibly tall and seemed to stretch into the sky. "There is where it shall stand!" The Doctor looked off at the mountain. It certainly looked like the perfect place to build the magical capital of a land.
"What shall you call it?" Derpy asked suddenly.
"It shall have a name that will resonate well with ponies of all kinds. A name that will inspire hope, ambition, and happiness into everypony that hears it. Soon that lot of land shall be as well known, if not more so than the Canterbury Tales of old," said Celestia in response. The Doctor couldn't help but smile. It seemed there were more similarities between the Equestrian universe and his universe than he originally thought. Celestia suddenly began to ponder. She rubbed her temple slightly as an idea sparked in her eyes. "Lot of land. Canterbury. Lot. Canterbury. Canter. Yes. It shall be called Canterlot and it shall be the new establishment of holiness, justice, and law in this land!"
"Perfect name! I couldn't have picked anything better myself!" Derpy said happily. Celestia turned to look at the Doctor and Derpy. She then looked at the TARDIS for a moment and stared at it before returning her gaze to the odd travelers.
"I feel that our paths will cross again one day."
"I wouldn't doubt it for a second," said the Doctor.
"I still have many questions of where you come from."
"When our paths cross again, Princess, I'm sure that'll be the time for you to find out exactly who we are."
"Well...until then...and thank you."
"Bye!" said Derpy with a sad yet happy smile. Celestia nodded as her horn began to glow and the Elements began floating around her. The Doctor and Derpy stepped back and watched as Celestia took off into the sky and headed back towards the castle.
The Doctor stared up at the blue sky for a moment before turning back to the TARDIS. He took a few steps forward and looked back at Derpy.
"Well," he said. "Ready to head back to your present?" Derpy looked like she was about to respond when something caught her eye. She looked past the Doctor and her eyes proceeded to widen in surprise.
"Is that...no...it can't be," she said. The Doctor followed Derpy's gaze towards a pony who was running at them as fast as his legs could carry him.
"Sir Isaac Longhair."
Derpy still couldn't believe that Isaac was running towards her and the Doctor. Last time she had seen him, he had been hiding out in a room underneath the castle. How in the name of Celestia did he get all the way out here? He was an earth pony after all so he couldn't have flown or teleported there. It didn't make any sense. He came to a halt a few feet before them.
"Hello again, Doctor and fair Derpy! It is a pleasure to be in your presence once again," he said.
"But...how...why...who?" Derpy mumbled.
"What my dear companion is trying to ask is how the hell did you get out here so quickly?" asked the Doctor.
"I ran," Isaac replied. Derpy wasn't buying it. He was so obviously lying.
"You're lying," said Derpy. "We must be at least a few miles from the castle. There's no way you could have gotten here that quickly."
"But I did. I was even able to watch our dear Princess Luna fade away into the Moon."
"Are you saying that you saw the whole fight?!"
"I am saying exactly that."
"But that's impossible!"
"It is not. I am here, aren't I?"
"Well yes but...how?!"
"I told you. I ran."
"I agree with Derpy. You're lying, Isaac. There's more to this than what you're letting on," said the Doctor. Isaac gave a smile that resembled that of a child keeping a secret for one of his friends.
"Alright, you have figured me out. I didn't run here. I received aid from a helping hoof."
"Who?" Isaac smiled again.
"That is for me to know and for you to find out sooner than you think." Derpy and the Doctor were silent for a moment. Isaac turned to look at the TARDIS. "Forget of this for now. I came to simply see you two off."
"Wait...you know about-"
"All in due time, Doctor. I'm still trying to put all of the pieces together myself. I'm sure you'll be able to put them all together when the time is right." Derpy looked past Isaac and for a second could swear that she saw a pair of ponies disappearing into the distance. She rubbed her eyes and shook her head.
"Isaac, I'm sorry about Princess Luna. But it had to be done," Derpy said suddenly as she thought back to her past conversation with Isaac.
"Do not worry yourself about me, fair Derpy. I know that everything will be alright in the end. Everything heals in the end." He looked at the Doctor and smiled. "Even you, Doctor." The Doctor turned away from Isaac as if the stallion could peer into his memories.
"Farewell, Isaac. May you have a good future," said the Doctor as he quickly shook Isaac's hoof.
"Farewell to you as well, Doctor," Isaac replied. Isaac then turned to Derpy and Derpy gave him a quick hug.
"It was nice meeting you, Isaac," she said.
"And vice versa. I wish you the best of luck." Derpy broke her hug and began walking to the TARDIS when Isaac suddenly grabbed one of her legs. "I have one last thing to say before you go."
"Yes?" Isaac pulled Derpy close until his muzzle was right next to her ear.
"I would be careful around mirrors if I were you, Derpy Hooves. The monster lies behind the glass." He then backed away, smiled, and began walking back off in the direction of the castle.
"What was that all about?" asked the Doctor. Derpy felt like telling the Doctor but pushed Isaac's message aside as an odd comment.
"Just some advice about mirrors. Nothing more," she said with a smile. The Doctor shrugged his shoulders in response. Derpy began humming a happy tune as she walked back through the TARDIS doors.
The Doctor was quite happy to be leaving the Equestria of the past behind. Now he was ready to get Derpy back to her time...though he definitely had an interest in exploring the Equestrian universe some more before attempting to get back to his own. The Doctor closed the TARDIS doors and made his way over to the main console. Derpy was still humming her tune.
"The present?" she asked.
"The present," the Doctor replied with a smile. He flicked a switched and began working some of the controls. The TARDIS began giving off its signature departing sound: VVRROOMMPP! VVRROOMMPP! VVRROOMMPP! Suddenly, a series of sparks rained down from the ceiling and the TARDIS began to shake violently.
"Is that supposed to happen?"
"No. It appears that the TARDIS is still getting over its passage between the void."
"We might not be returning to your time just yet, Ms. Hooves." The TARDIS gave off a loud screech as it leaned to the right and shot off through the time stream.
Gaia, 1002 C.E.
Carrot Top was still staring at the picture of the painting in the book.
"I wonder what that blue box is," she said as she examined the painting closer. Just then, she noticed a series of words painted next to the the box and the two ponies. "Now what's this?" It was hard to read at first but Carrot Top was able to make out the words once she squinted her eyes. They read: Follow the smoke, CT. Carrot Top scratched her head. "What?" Carrot Top looked up and stared out the window. Her eyes widened at the sight of a trail of smoke rising from the Everfree Forest. Her eyes darted back to the picture, the message, Derpy's note, and then back to the smoke. "This can't be happening." She was hesitant at first, but she soon convinced herself to check it out.
"I shouldn't be out here," she said to herself as she walked through the cluster of trees that made up the Everfree Forest. "I really shouldn't be out here." She could no longer see the smoke trail but the smell was hard not to identify. She soon found herself in a clearing. A black crater in the ground was situated off to the side. She approached the crater and looked, expecting to see something significant look back at her. To her disappointment, there was nothing there. She laughed, coughed, and rubbed her eyes. "I must be going crazy or something."
"Don't worry. You're not," giggled a familiar voice from nearby. Carrot Top looked up to see Derpy emerge from the trees. "I see that you got my message. Good thing because you will not believe how hard it was for me to get it to you!"
"Derpy? What's going-"
"I'll explain everything, Carrot Top. You can ask questions later but right now I need to tell you something." Carrot Top's ears stood up. "Something's coming, Carrot Top. Something evil is coming, the Doctor and I are going to need your help, and you have only a week to prepare yourself."
To be continued...