Chapter 12: Selfish Ambitions
Explosions rocked the air like violent drums. A white blur and a grey stallion atop a moving platform of stone danced around each other, dodging and returning powerful projectiles and beams of magic.
Celestia's wings flapped and twisted to avoid the missiles that were exploding in the air around her. She flew towards Greed between his barrages in an attempt to reach him. Greed's weapons glowed blue after every shot, constantly teleporting more ammunition into the weapon.
A missile soared towards Celestia and she instinctively put up a magic barrier. The projectile exploded on impact with the shield and sent smoke around her. Celestia charged out of the smoke towards Greed.
Greed's platform backed up as Celestia flew at him full speed. Celestia gathered magic in her horn to attack Greed when a smaller weapon appeared in front of her, it's short barrel aimed straight at her head.
She teleported out of the way just as the weapon went off, sending a spread of tiny projectiles in front of Greed.
Celestia appeared just above the surface of the mountaintop lake. Greed used his magic to slowly lower the platform he rode on to match Celestia at eye level.
"Impressive, aren't they?" Greed said and looked at the large weapon on his back. "It took me a good 4 months to make this one. It fires deadly projectiles that explode when it gets close enough to any living being."
"But I guess they aren't enough to take you out of the picture, so..." Greed's horn flashed as the weapons on his back disappeared. "I'll have to use my personal favorite."
A second pair of long barrels appeared on his back, this time connected by hinges to a harness on his back. The two barrels spun slowly, as if preparing themselves for use. Greed steadied his legs as he stared Celestia down.
"We don't have to fight Greed." Celestia shouted. "We can just stop right now. I don't want to have to do this."
"Oh we can just stop? I honestly haven't thought of that. But here's the thing, you come up to my mountain with the intent of taking my power so you can solve your problems. You didn't honestly think I was going to just agree to fork it over did you?"
"I did not." Celestia responded. "I came here fully prepared to face whatever was atop this mountain. Equestria is in ruins, and in order to fix it I need your help. And I'm sorry to say that I cannot leave here without your power, one way or another."
Greed frowned. "You still don't get it do you? I. Don't. Care. About. You. All I care about is going back to living off the fortunes of others. It's what I've done for 4000 years and it's what I will keep doing for 4000 more."
"But you are needed. Nightmare Moon cannot be stopped without you, you have a chance to do something greater then what you have ever done. Your power must be put to it's cause."
Greed shook his head. "You will not take me."
"No one will!" Greed shouted.
The barrels on Greed's back started spinning faster. Celestia's eye widened half a second before she flapped her wings and shot off to her left.
A thunderous wave of bullets tore through the air. Empty metal shells fell out of the weapon and onto the ground like a steel rain. Greed followed Celestia as she flew around the mountain, evading the hail of bullets that shredded the ground wherever they hit.
Celestia could hear the sound of bullets ripping through the air right behind her and flew in every direction to avoid Greed.
Thinking quickly Celestia flew in a straight line, with Greed chasing behind her. Celestia created a burst of light and flew straight up. Greed grunted and closed his eyes as the light blinded him.
When Greed opened his eyes again he looked around for Celestia but saw nothing. Suddenly a bolt of magic struck Greed in the back of his head. He fell forward, collapsing onto his flat rock.
"I'm gonna make you regret that!" He yelled as he stood up again.
Another yellow bolt shot through the air but Greed ducked his head down and dodged the attack. He quickly looked in the direction of the bolt and fired his guns at Celestia. Celestia closed her wings and fell a few feet, reopening them to fly to the side.
The two chased each other around the ring shaped top of the mountain. Stray bullets occasionally hit the water with a loud splash.
Celestia pivoted around to launch another spell at Greed and almost hit the platform he was riding on. As Greed flew up to avoid it one last bullet grazed Celestia' back leg. She opened her mouth in shock as it went through the edge of her leg, spraying a small mist of red.
Celestia fell onto the island in the middle of the lake, grabbing her leg in pain.
"Hurts don't it?" Greed mocked. "Weird how something so tiny can be so painful and so lethal. When I kill you I'll make sure to aim for your legs first."
Celestia stumbled to her hooves, a trail of red streaming down her left hind leg. She gritted her teeth to fight back the pain.
"Maybe then I will just let you lay there and bleed out." Greed laughed.
"NO!" Celestia yelled and fired a powerful beam at Greed.
He disappeared in a flash of light and reappeared next to Celestia's attack, his weapons pointed at her as they spun again.
Celestia flew into the air like a bolt of lightning and charged into the clouds. Greed lost sight of her and looked around for any sign of movement.
A yellow flash appeared inside the clouds and bolts of magic spread out around it. Greed fired his guns into the flash, trying to hit something. Celestia felt bullets whizzing past her mane as she focused on a spell.
The yellow magic vanished and for a moment everything went quiet. Greed froze, eyeing the clouds for any movement.
Suddenly a drop of water landed on Greed's nose. He blinked and looked up at the clouds.
Almost immediately a torrent of rain fell from the clouds. Greed stood in place confused trying figuring out what Celestia was trying to do.
"What do you intend to do?" He jeered. "Make me melt?"
A sword spun through the air and jammed itself into the stone Greed was standing on. He looked down in surprise.
"That's not what I had in mind." Celestia's voice rang out through the air behind Greed.
He turned around to face Celestia but before he could she spread her wings and a bolt of lightning struck Excalibur.
The lightning crackled through the air as it coursed from the clouds down to the sword, sending the current through Greed and striking the ground beneath him.
He cringed in pain as the electricity burned him. His entire body jolted, sent into a panic by the sudden current. The lightning left a scorch mark on the ground and on the hilt of Excalibur.
Celestia lowered herself out of the clouds and eyed Greed. He laid on his stone platform, his weapons showed visible damage in the form of black marks.
Pulling himself to his hooves Greed pointed his weapons at Celestia. His body shook as he struggled to stay standing. The weapons on his back started spinning but soon stopped and made a painful mechanical noise.
Greed looked at the weapons and then threw them off his back in anger. The weapons vanished in a flash and Greed frowned. He looked at Celestia's sword and picked it up with disgust, throwing it down onto the island.
"I'm gonna make you suffer for that." He growled. "And when I'm done with you I'm going to find that Fate pony and make them suffer too."
A pair of short barreled weapons appeared in front of Greed. He picked them up with his magic.
"You know Fate? What do you know about him?" Celestia shouted.
"Only what Deceit told me." Greed said. "He made you remember Luminaria and it's because of him you're here. Here to steal my power away from me so you can get back at your sister!"
"That's not true!" Celestia yelled back, the pain in her leg intensifying.
"Is it?" Greed shouted at her. "That's all you want! You think you are better then a thief but you are the same as me, trying to steal from others for your own desires. This isn't the first time I've been stolen from, but it will be the last!"
Celestia said nothing and flew into the air, careful not to use her injured leg. The stone platform held up by Greed's magic moved slightly towards Celestia.
"Die little princess!" He shouted and charged at Celestia. The chunk of rock sped forward and Greed pointed his weapons at Celestia's head.
The dark tunnels of the mine grew lighter as Fate was dragged across the floor by the bandit ponies. He squirmed in his binds but they held tight. Rocks and dirt knocked against him as he struggled.
The further into the tunnels they went, the more well lit and inhabited everything looked. Fate caught a glimpse of a well decorated room with a desk in the middle. More rooms dug into the rock sped by, each with a pile of goods or living supplies in them.
"These bandits must have made this mine their home." Fate mused.
The two bandits carrying Fate slowed down as they passed more intersections. Turning into a dimly lit hall they kicked open a wooden door and threw Fate inside a small room.
The room looked like one that would be used for storage, it had boxes piled across the walls and mining equipment strewn about. One of the ponies grabbed a key from the bag an orange pegasis was carrying and unlocked a cage at the back of the room.
"You'd better be worth sumthin' little pony." The pegasus threatened. "The boss doesn't like useless captives."
"Yeah." A large unicorn said. "We'll find some way to make a bit or two out of you."
The pegasis put the key into the lock and twisted it. The rusty cage door swung open and Fate was thrown inside, landing on his head. The two ponies laughed as he squirmed on his back. They slammed the door shut, locking him inside and putting the key back into the bag.
"Look at the mane on this guy." The unicorn taunted. "Bright green? What kind of colt has bright green hair?"
"Ha, you lose a bet or something?" The pegasis laughed.
Fate groaned as the two bandits laughed at him. As the two ponies mocked Fate a third bandit suddenly stomped into the room.
"Hey oats for brains, you'll have to harass the new blood later, the boss is calling everypony for a quick discussion about the Manehatten job ." She said sternly.
"Can't it wait? I love watching little punks like this squirm." The pegasis said.
"Can it Autumn Dasher, or the boss while be watching you squirm if you don't get your flank over to the gather room."
"Alright, quit busting my tail, we're comin'."
Picking up the bag and placing it over his shoulder, the pegasis stepped out of the room with the unicorn following him. The door slammed shut, leaving the storage room in an eerie quiet.
Fate was soon alone sealed inside the old cage in the dark room. A few lonely candles tried fruitlessly to light up the room. His eyes struggled to focus in the dim light.
Dusty old pickaxes and broken equipment greeted him as his eyes adjusted to the dark room. He looked around his cage and saw a number of red stains on the bars and on the ground. It didn't take long to figure out what they were.
Fate tried to find some way of loosening the ropes but they held tight. A sense of dread starting filling the room, soon filling his mind with fear.
"I never should have left, I knew it was a stupid idea I just knew it!" Fate mentally panicked. "Ok, just calm down, Celestia might find me here... Unless she doesn't make it back at all. I have to find a way out of here."
Despite his best attempts, the ropes refused to loosen. The room seemed to stare at him, telling him that he was going to stay in that rusty prison in the bottom of a mountain until his life ran out.
He soon started to wonder if those red stains were from the bandits or from the captives going insane in captivity.
-30 Minutes Later-
Having long given up his struggle against the ropes, Fate lay on the floor examining the rusty hinges on the door. He suspected that with enough force they might break off. If he had the strength, and if he wasn't tied up.
As he laid on the ground he started hearing shouting. He strained his ears and heard loud cries of disgust. Loud jeers and angry shouts came from farther down the tunnels.
The door to the room slammed open and a large unicorn stallion entered the room.
"Get up, pony." He commanded. "We're going to see a show."
Fate struggled to back away from him as he opened the cage door. The unicorn grabbed Fate with his magic and dragged him out of the cage, crashing Fate's head into the door as he did.
"Mmm mph mphm" Fate tried to speak but the ropes muffled his voice.
"What's that? I can't hear you." The unicorn taunted as he smacked Fate's head against the wall on the way out the door.
Fate groaned as he was dragged down the tunnel. The angry shouts started getting louder and he could hear a group of ponies yelling insults at someone. The unicorn turned a corner with Fate in tow and they entered a large room carved into the rock.
A crowd of about a dozen bandits was facing a raised stone block, shouting at the blue unicorn who was standing atop the improvised stage. The crowd jeered and threw small rocks at her. The mare on the stage shouted back at them.
"I just need more time to come up with new tricks!" She pleaded with them.
"You're the worst magician I've ever seen!" A bandit in the back of the crowd shouted. "I thought you were supposed to be entertaining!"
A new wave of shouting erupted through the bandits. The stallion stood silently in the back of the room, holding Fate at his side.
"Enough!" A mare's voice shouted. An earth pony walked up to the stone stage and the crowd fell silent.
She frowned at the blue unicorn before speaking. "You were kept alive because you promised that you could show us the greatest magic show in Equestria, but what good is a pony like you who can't even hold a crowd?"
"Please," the unicorn pleaded, "I just need time! I can create new tricks!"
"No, I think we have seen enough. It has been three weeks, and you have become progressively more boring each day. I don't think we are in need of your services anymore. Autumn Dasher, please come here."
A pegasis leapt up to the stage next to the earth pony. "Yes Red Hood?"
"Considering how worthless her magic is, I don't think she has any use for it anymore." Red Hood said. "Place her horn on that rock."
Autumn Dasher grabbed the blue unicorn and placed her horn onto the sharp edge of a rock.
"No! Wait!" The unicorn panicked. "Please, I'm begging you, don't! This is all I have!"
"Your usefulness has run out, there is no point to a magician who can't entertain."
"Please! I can do more!" She struggled against the pegasis who held her horn on the rock.
"I don't think you can." Red Hood frowned and calmly raised her hoof over the unicorn's horn.
"Y-You can't do this to me! I'm the Great and Powerful Trixie!"
"You are no one."
Red Hood brought her hoof down and snapped off half of the horn with a horrible crack. Light blue trails of magic shot into the air and died out. The crowd cheered as Trixie fell to the ground crying in pain.
Fate watched wordlessly as the unicorn's horn was broken in half. He stared as she rolled on the ground, yelling and grabbing her head. The sounds of her pain were drowned out by the sounds of the bandits' cheering.
The unicorn holding Fate pulled his head towards him. "Think of that when we ask how useful you are to us."
Fate stared at Trixie before the unicorn grabbed him and started yanking him back down the hall. They entered the storage room and soon Fate found himself thrown back in the same musty cage as before.
Fate mentally sighed as the door closed and he was left alone.
"Oh Celestia, where are you? I need your help..."
Celestia quickly weaved her head out of the way of the barrage of shots. A pair of weapons aimed in her direction and each fired a spread of bullets. Loud crashes echoed throughout the mountain's air.
The weapons glowed as new bullets were teleported into them by Greed. He moved them closer to Celestia and fired again, this time scraping the edge of her back.
Celestia teleported out of the way and appeared behind Greed. She attempted to fire a bolt of magic at him but he managed to turn around and shoot a bolt of his own blue energy at her. Celestia brought up a yellow magic shield and flew backwards.
The blue magic crashed into Celestia's shield and sent a wave of green spirals around her. Greed moved closer to attempt to shoot her with his guns.
Celestia teleported again, this time to Greed's right. He quickly turned one of his weapons and fired at her, missing her as she teleported again.
Greed fired in all directions, repeatedly missing her as she teleported away from each shot.
"Will you just DIE!" He yelled angrily as he fired.
Celestia focused on avoiding his shots, looking for an opening to strike again. As Greed reloaded one of his guns it moved out of his field of vision. Celestia took the opportunity and shot the gun with a magic bolt.
He pointed the broken gun at her and frowned as it refused to fire. Throwing it aside he yelled again and charged at Celestia.
Celestia flew away and landed on the island. Greed flew after her and fired a beam of magic that hit Celestia. She tried to move but found that her legs were trapped in an aura of magic.
"I've been meaning to use this for a long time." Greed smiled to himself.
As Celestia tried to escape her prison Greed flew up on his rock and a portal opened above him. The portal tore itself into reality and Celestia saw the swirling purple magic of The Void in the air.
Greed flew up and jumped off his platform and into The Void, the portal closing shut behind him. Celestia watched the sky as the echoes of gun shots faded away into the distance.
A tense silence covered the mountaintop. Celestia was still trapped in her place on the island, her leg throbbing with every movement.
Suddenly a small portal appeared in the sky above Celestia. She looked up at it as it grew in size. It grew larger and larger, bigger than Celestia had seen before. But something was on the other side of this portal.
It looked like a cannon, only much bigger.
A large machine was positioned over the entrance to the portal, suspended by mechanical legs. An enormous barrel moved itself to point straight at Celestia. She froze in terror as the death machine aimed it's sight on her.
She saw Greed standing at the bottom of it and flip a number of switches with his magic. The end of the cannon's barrel began glowing a bright blue, charging it's artificial magic.
Celestia started casting every spell she could think of at the magic that held her legs in place, but none worked. She looked up at Greed and made eye contact with him, his hoof hovering over a button.
He sneered and mouthed something to her.
The machine fired an enormous blue ball of magic down at Celestia. She instinctively brought up a powerful yellow shield to keep herself from being blown to ashes.
The blast hit the island like an asteroid, sending debris and splashes of water high into the air. The island collapsed into the mountain and fell down a hole that ran straight down. Celestia's shield shattered into pieces and she fell down into the hole with the debris falling in after her.
Water rushed into the newly created hole in the middle of the lake, splashing Greed as he charged into the hole.
The round hole seemed to go down forever. Celestia fought to keep herself awake, the blast had almost knocked the sense clean out of her. She looked up at the top of the pitfall and saw Greed falling down to reach her.
A short-barreled weapon blinked in front of Greed and he aimed it at Celestia and fired. The bullets sprayed against the walls of the hole that whizzed past them, but one hit Celestia in her wing.
She recoiled as the intense pain shot through her wing and into her back. She tried folded in her wing and cringed again. Her wing went limp and she lost control over it.
Looking up she saw Greed with his weapon charging towards her. He put his hooves forward as they approached each other. Celestia brought up a shield to block a barrage of bullets fired at her.
Greed reached Celestia and knocked into her, causing them to grapple onto each other. They struggled as they fell down the pit, kicking at each other desperately.
Greed aimed his gun at Celestia and fired. Celestia reacted by bringing up a tiny shield in front of where the gun was aimed. The bullets bounced off the shield and hit the side of the tunnel.
Celestia tried to grab the gun by overpowering Greed's magic. The weapon turned towards Greed as she pushed on it. Pulling the large trigger Celestia shot the gun at Greed, who quickly brought up a shield of his own to bounce away the bullets.
The tunnel they were falling down was lit up by the glow of two horns and the flashes of a gun firing. Loud ringing bangs nearly deafened Celestia as she fought for her life. The two ponies struggled against each other, fighting to shoot the gun at their opponent.
Soon the tunnel opened up into a large underground cavern filled with water. The two ponies kicked at each other and tried to wrestle control of the weapon, not noticing the water rushing up to catch them.
They kept firing the gun at each other until Celestia kicked Greed in his face and charged up her magic. Greed recoiled and did the same.
Celestia leaned her head forward and shot a blast of yellow magic at Greed. He reacted by firing a powerful blast of his own. The two spells collided in the air and created a loud explosion.
An explosion of green spirals flung the two ponies away from each other. They both crashed into the water, sending up a pair of splashes.
A large pile of debris fell down from the tunnel and into the middle of the water, creating a small island of rubble.
The cavern was silent, watching the two ponies sink into the water. Waves from the crash rippled through the clear blue water, getting smaller and smaller until they disappeared.
Once the echoes died out the only sound in the cavern was droplets of water falling down from the lake at the top of the mountain.
The dark room came into focus as Fate's eyes adjusted to the darkness. Rust and dirt coated the floor he squirmed on, still trying to find a way to loosen the ropes.
He looked up at a rusty hinge again and saw a pickaxe leaning against the wall next to it.
"If I could somehow knock that over I bet I could reach it and smash the lock with it." He thought to himself.
Suddenly the sound of hoofsteps echoed through the tunnel into the room. He could hear several ponies talking and scooted to the back of the cage.
The door swung open and Red Hood stepped into the room, with two ponies entering after her. Autumn Dasher flew into the room, holding Trixie by her front legs.
A unicorn pulled a key out of the saddlebag he was wearing and opened the cage door. Autumn Dasher tossed Trixie into the cage. She landed next to Fate in a heap; he could hear her whimpering to herself.
"Alright little pony." Red Hood announced, "It's time to prove to us what you are worth, do you think you can do that?"
"M-hm." Fate said as calmly as he could.
"What a good sport." Red Hood said. She stepped into the cage and tore the rope off of Fate's mouth. He spat out the taste of rope and coughed.
"Aw, thank you so much, it's terrible being unable to speak for yourself. Now if you could just untie me." Fate gave them a nervous smile but Red Hood simply slammed the door shut.
"You can talk, but that's it. You have one minute until we decide to shut you up for good, so make it count."
"Ok," Fate cleared his throat, "first off let me tell you what a nice place you guys have down here. Abandoned mine? Brilliant. I can't even tell if you killed the miners or if they were gone before you got here!"
Autumn Dasher stepped forward angrily but Red Hood stopped him.
"And secondly let me tell you how big of a mistake it was to capture me. You're lucky I was alone because if I wasn't we certainly wouldn't be in this situation. But that's ok, because I think we can work this out."
"You smug little-" Autumn Dasher jumped at the cage and Fate fell backwards.
"Dasher, stop. I want to hear his proposition. He sounds like a pony who is either very confident or completely mad, I'd like to find out which." Red Hood commanded.
"You're very smart Miss...Red Hood, was it? I can see why you run this little operation."
"You are wasting my patience." Red Hood said.
"Ok, straight to the point. I'm friends with a very powerful pony, somepony who could make you all very rich. The only problem is she can't pay you yet, because she doesn't exactly sit on the throne anymore. If you...kind ponies...help us retake the throne then you will have anything your heart can wish for."
"Wow, anything?" Red Hood said, stunned. "You guys hear that? This colt knows royalty!"
Every bandit in the room started laughing.
"Royalty, that's the best one I've heard yet." Autumn Dasher laughed even harder. "I know it's the oldest excuse in the book, but I didn't think anypony was dumb enough to use it!"
Fate sat in his cage, his nervous smile fading from his face.
"He he, alright Prince, we'll consider your proposal." Red Hood jeered. "Come on, let's go get ready to give Mr. Royalty here his freedom."
The three bandits left the room, chuckling to themselves. The wooden door slammed shut with a loud bang and left the room in another eerie quiet.
Fate frowned and slumped against the bars, longingly looking at the pickaxe just out of his reach. The sound of a depressed sigh caught his attention, he had hardly noticed his new cellmate.
He looked over at Trixie and saw her looking at him with disappointment in her eyes. She averted her gaze as soon as he made eye contact with her.
"Hey, your name is Trixie right?" Fate asked.
She reluctantly nodded her head.
"My name is Fate, and yeah I know it's a funny name."
Trixie said nothing, only staring off into her own little world.
"So...how long have you been here? I figure if we're gonna die we might as well die next to somepony we know a little bit."
Trixie frowned, "Three weeks. They made me perform magic shows to keep them from getting bored. I guess I wasn't good enough for them, and neither were you."
"Sheesh, what a bunch of critics." Fate snickered.
"Do you even care about your situation?" Trixie sat up. "In a few minutes their going to come back to bury us alive. That's what they do, they take you and steal everything they can out of you and once you mean nothing to them they bury you alive."
"I do care, I'm just not worried. How you would you like to get out of here? Get your life back together?" Fate asked.
Trixie shook her head. "You don't get it do you? We're stuck here, it's a dead end for us. There's nothing left."
"That's not true." Fate said. "We will get out of this cage, and we will find a way out, that much I know for certain."
"What could possibly lead you to believe that?"
"Because I've seen it. I've seen us running down these tunnels and into a light in the distance. It hasn't happened yet but I've seen it in a vision of the future. The second I saw you I knew everything was ok because I recognized you as the one who was with me."
"So you're saying you saw into the future? Red Hood was right, you are crazy."
"I'm not crazy, I know what I know. I've been through a lot, more than you could think of, and if you listen, then we have a chance. I'm not asking you to believe me, I'm asking you to trust me."
Trixie sighed heavily. "You honestly expect me to be dumb enough to believe you?"
"No, I know most ponies are smarter then that. I'm only asking for a chance here. Look, see that pickaxe leaning on the wall? If you can knock it over with your magic, we could reach it and smash the hinges off the door."
Trixie looked at the pickaxe with the corner of her eye. "No point, my magic is gone..."
"No it isn't, not completely." Fate said empathetically. "Your magic comes from your horn but it lives within you. There's still a chance, just try."
Trixie said nothing, staring at the floor. "If I do it, will you stop talking?"
Fate nodded. "Just try, try as hard as you can. If your life is magic then you'll see that your life isn't over yet."
Trixie sighed and looked at Fate, who gave her a optimistic smile. She turned away from him and looked around the room when she saw something: a purple hat and cloak covered in colorful stars lying in the corner of the room.
Her life came flying back to her. Her stage, her audience, what it felt like to be loved by a crowd of ponies. It was the only thing that made living worth it, but it was gone now.
"Trixie?" Fate said. "Please...this is your last chance, don't quit."
The unicorn thought of her failures in the past and where each had gotten her. All those years of believing she was the best and it lead to her dying at the hooves of a group of bandits?
One last shot, then she would see if she was worthy of being alive.
Taking a deep breath Trixie stared at the pickaxe and concentrated on it. She felt magic rushing through her body but it was faint, like it was far away. She tried pushing it through her horn but it stopped and a pain jabbed her forehead.
"Ow!" Trixie grabbed her head. "I can't do it."
"Try again. Remember, your horn is still there, it's just harder to use."
Frowning, Trixie focused on the pickaxe again. She put as much thought into it as she could, but the pickaxe refused to budge.
Trixie pulled harder until her head started throbbing. She struggled until the pain in her head was too much to bear.
"Forget it, I can't use my magic."
"Ok...well...just untie me, I'm sure we'll come up with something. What happened in my vision hasn't happened yet, so surely we make it out alive somehow." Fate frowned as Trixie grabbed the ropes.
"You really are a clueless imbecile." She told him.
Fate stretched his legs as the ropes fell to the ground around him, releasing him from their grasp. "Oh sweet heavens it feels good to move again, my back is killing me." Fate stood up and cracked his back. "Now let's think of some way to get outta here."
"No, it's over now. Let's just sit here and wait fo-"
Trixie was interrupted by the sound of a pickaxe falling to the ground near the cage.
"What? How did... What was that?" She gawked.
"I can think of one thing." Fate motioned to her horn with his head and reached out of the cage, swatting at the pickaxe until he could grab it and pull it towards himself.
Fate grabbed the pickaxe and inspected it. "Pretty poor shape, but it'll do. When we smash this lock it will make a lot of noise, we have to be ready to run."
"And what do you plan on doing after that?"
"We were heading towards a bright light, and I'm assuming it's the exit."
"Oh of course, because the future told you."
"Cheer up Trixie, we've got the future on our side." Fate heaved the pickaxe over his head. As he did a low rumble echoed through the caves.
"Did you hear that?" Trixie said.
Fate listened for a moment before shaking his head. "I didn't hear anything. Let's focus on this door, ok?"
He stood on his hind legs and brought the pickaxe down, aiming at the hinges on the cage.
Celestia awoke to a painful burning in her lungs. She choked and a group of air bubbles floated out of her mouth and up through the dark blue water surrounding her. Her limbs quickly flailed as she tried to swim to the surface.
Breaking the surface of the water Celestia sharply inhaled, filling her lungs with precious air. She saw a pile of debris and painfully swam towards it. Her entire body revolted by aching and burning with every move she took.
She reached the pile of rocks and pulled herself onto it, resting her weary body. A thumping pain came from her limp wing and her back leg. Breathing turned into an act of labor, burning her chest with every breath.
Her body was telling her to stop moving and just stay put, but her mind knew better. She couldn't stop just yet, there was somepony else down here with her.
She crawled farther up the pile of rocks, dragging her injured appendages. She pulled herself forward and saw a battered weapon lying in the middle of the debris.
And behind it, was Greed.
Greed pulled himself onto the rocks and looked up at Celestia. His eyes were barely open as he dragged his own limb leg. He made eye contact with Celestia and shot a new wave of hate at her, climbing towards his gun.
Celestia reacted by reaching forward to grab it as well, not conscious enough to focus her magic. They both slowly inched forward to the weapon lying on the rubble.
"I...can't...die...yet..." Celestia told herself as her eyes threatened to close on her for good.
She reached out to the gun but just as she was about to grab it it lifted into the air in a blue aura. Greed wobbled as he struggled to hold the gun to Celestia's face.
A glimmer caught Celestia's eye. She quickly looked at what got her attention and saw Excalibur lying on the ground next to Greed, pointing towards him. She desperately reached out to it with the last of her magic and-
A gunshot rang out through the underground cave. A trail of smoke rose from the end of the weapon. A trail of blood traveled down into the water, corrupting it with it's color.
The gun was pointed up into the air and a number of small holes were torn into the cavern wall behind Celestia. She looked at Greed and saw him staring straight ahead, a sword embedded deep into his side.
Greed's breath cut out as his vision became blurry and he felt the life drain out of him. The weapon dropped to the ground with a clatter.
Excalibur said nothing as it stabbed Greed through the heart. Greed felt the blade cutting through him and his mind turned blank. He had taken so many lives but never considered what losing one might be like.
It was terrifying.
He slumped over to his side as the last of his life was stolen from him. His eyes were frozen in a look of a newfound fear and sadness.
Celestia stared at the unmoving body in front of her. It had been over 3000 years since she has had to kill another pony, and the sight of Greed's lifeless body sent shivers down her neck.
"I'm so sorry it had to be this way..." Celestia sighed and bowed her head.
The dim light coming from the tunnel in the ceiling illuminated the sword sticking up into the air out of Greed's side. Celestia pulled herself to her knees and reached forward, grabbing the sword's handle in her mouth.
Lifting her neck, she cringed as she pulled the sword up out of Greed's body. Streaks of red trailed down the sword and dripped onto the ground. Celestia's horn glowed and Excalibur disappeared in a flash.
After spending a moment to gather her thoughts, Celestia looked around the room and saw a small shore with a tunnel leading somewhere deeper into the mountain. She focused her magic and teleported herself and Greed's lifeless body to the shore.
She fell to the ground and felt the pain from the battle again. She checked her left wing and looked at the red gash on it. Luckily the bullet hadn't gone in, and Celestia decided to focus on it later.
Looking down at Greed she decided that there was only one thing left to do. She closed her eyes and her horn glowed a faint yellow.
"I'm sorry Greed..." She said.
Greed's body was enveloped in a yellow glow and floated off the ground slightly. Celestia pushed with her magic and felt his power.
She started taking it bit by bit.
"I wish you didn't have to die...I wish I could give you a second chance..."
Suddenly as Celestia felt more power flowing into her, Greed's body glowed a pure dark blue. Celestia stopped using her magic and saw his body float into the air on it's own. A bright white light started shining from deep within him.
It shined brighter and brighter until Celestia was forced to shield her eyes from the intense light.
The sound of steel on rusty steel echoed through the small room. Fate smashed the pickaxe against the hinges of the old cage until one by one they broke.
He turned around and bucked at the door. It flew off it's hinges and fell to the ground. Fate dropped the pickaxe and sighed in relief.
"It worked!" Fate exclaimed. "Come on, let's-"
"Hey!" A stallion's voice came from down the hall. "You two keep it down in there!"
Fate heard hoofsteps getting closer and scrambled back to the cage, grabbing the pickaxe to defend himself with. Trixie hid to one side of the door. A few tense seconds creeped by as they waited for him to enter the room.
"What are you two even doing in there?" The voice yelled.
Suddenly the door burst open and a unicorn stormed into the room. The door swung on it's hinges and obscured Trixie.
"Quit making so much noi-Hey!" The unicorn stormed forward at Fate, who shrunk back into the corner of the cage. "How did you break the door down?!"
The unicorn stepped into the cage and Fate clutched the pickaxe in fear.
"And where is the unicorn?! Tell me where she i-ACK!"
The stallion was interrupted by Trixie bringing a large rock down on his head, making an awful crack. He collapsed to the ground and Trixie slammed the rock onto his head again. Fate watched her beat the pony with the stone over and over again.
"Trixie...stop, you got him."
Trixie lifted the rock above her head and stared at him with a flash of rage. She looked down at the pony and dropped the rock to the ground. She huffed and stepped to the other side of the room and closed the door.
Fate leaned down and pressed a hoof to the stallion's neck. "He's still alive, I think. Are you sure you had to do that?"
"He deserved it." Trixie spat, staring daggers at Fate.
Fate opened his mouth to speak but said nothing. He stepped over the unicorn and looked around the room. Another tense silence overtook them as Fate stared at the pony on the floor. He shook his head and looked back at Trixie.
Trixie wasn't moving, her eyes locked onto the top of a crate. A worn purple hat and cloak, each worn out and faded, laid on the crate. She reached out for it and tentatively lifted it with her hooves.
Fate watched her hold the clothing closely and begin putting the cloak around her neck. Something out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. He walked forward to the object and saw a book lying on the floor.
It was a thick book with a black cover and white lining around the edges. It's edges were faded and worn, Fate guessed it was at least a few hundred years old. Probably more.
There was something so familiar about the book, like it was something from a long forgotten dream. A faded title was printed on the front in dark yellow letters: The Penthus.
He flipped it open to a page at random. Flipping through it he skimmed over each page until he suddenly stopped and stared.
"We're taking this book." Fate stated and slammed the book shut.
"What? Why?" Trixie asked, adjusting the gemstone that held her cloak around her neck.
Fate gathered the ropes that had been used to restrain him and tied them around the book. "Because I recognize this book, I had it in the vision. We need it, I just don't know what for yet."
"I'm starting to think you're making that up as an excuse to boss me around."
"Well I personally don't mind if you think I'm crazy, just as long as we can get to the exit of the tunnel." Fate tied The Penthus around his stomach, securing it to his back.
"We aren't going to the exit, we're going to where they keep their wagons."
"I know where they keep them, we'll take one and get away in it. It's our only way of escaping."
Fate shook his head. "Look, I don't think you know what you're talking about. What do you think will happen when we take one of the wagons huh? Are you going to use a come-to-life spell to power it?"
"Here's what's gonna happen," Fate continued, "we find the tunnel exit and we get to the top of the mountain as fast as possible."
"Oh yeah? That's your plan? Why in Equestria would we go to the top of the mountain? That's suicide!"
"No, it's not. Just put your ego aside for a minute and let the one who knows what they're talking about lead the way. We go to the top and we find my friend, she can protect us from any of these ponies no problem."
"Right, your royal connection will save us. I bet they-"
"Listen to me!" Fate almost shouted. "I've seen more then you could ever dream of! I know what death looks like and it's plastered all over those wagons."
Trixie looked at him in disgust but said nothing.
"I. Don't. Lie." Fate stomped his hoof down.
Trixie could see the seriousness in his eyes and finally relented. "Fine, let's do it your way and get ourselves killed. We're dead anyway."
"Good. Now let's hurry before they come back." Fate said and rushed to the door, Trixie following behind him.
Fate poked his head out into the tunnels and looked around to see if anypony was coming. The tunnel was as empty as it was when he first arrived.
"Come on." Fate snuck out the door and motioned to Trixie. Trixie followed behind him begrudgingly. They ran through the dark tunnels as fast as they could, terrified of running into another bandit.
The tunnels seemed to stretch on as far as their eyes could see. They twisted and turned throughout the mountain in different directions, leading the two ponies into whatever dark places it wanted.
"Do you even know where you're going?" Trixie demanded.
Fate ignored her, running at random through the maze of corridors. Suddenly he passed a turn in the tunnels and screeched to a halt. Trixie stopped and ran back to him.
Fate pointed down the new tunnel. A faint light could be seen far off down the tunnel.
"Come on, that's gotta be it." He said and took off running. Trixie groaned and chased after him.
The light got brighter as the two ponies got close and closer. They could almost feel fresh air rushing to greet them.
"Our freedom's just at the end of this tunnel." Fate practically cheered.
Celestia opened her eyes again as the light coming from Greed died down. He slowly floated down to the ground and came to a rest. The cavern regained it's dark appearance.
Celestia could feel a small presence of something new inside her, the power from Greed having been taken into her. She looked at him and wondered what had happened to him.
As Greed lay on the ground Celestia saw his chest begin moving. Suddenly Greed started coughing and wheezing, his body jerking as he did. His eyes burst open and he started breathing heavily.
He looked around in a panic and strained to press his hoof to his side, finding that the wound from Excalibur completely healed. Celestia simply watched him as he slowly crawled back to life.
Greed looked up and saw a battered Celestia standing over him.
"You...you brought me back?" He mumbled.
Celestia had no idea what to say. Greed looked down at himself and tried to sit up but found himself unable to. He fell back to the ground, his body too weak to move.
"Why did you do that?" He asked.
"I didn't know I could." Celestia answered. "I took some of your power and then...I felt guilty. I wished that you weren't dead anymore."
Greed shook his head on the ground. "I don't believe this."
His breathing slowed down and he closed his eyes again, passing out of consciousness. Celestia sat on the ground and watched. Her body flared up as her leg and wing hurt again. She grunted and lowered her horn towards her leg, beginning a healing spell.
As her horn begun to glow she had the feeling of being watched, someone else was here with her. She turned around towards the tunnel entrance and saw who was watching her.
She looked and saw Fate standing in the tunnel along with another light blue mare. Fate stood and stared at her.
"Celestia?" He said in shock.
Celestia stared back, completely taken off guard.
Trixie turned her head to Fate. "Who?"
The three of them stood staring at each other, each too confused to speak. Their thoughts were interrupted by a loud voice calling out behind Trixie and Fate.
"Well well, it seems your little getaway has met a dead end." Red Hood stepped forward, followed by almost a dozen other ponies. "And it appears we also have some more guests."
Red Hood smiled as the bandits circled the four of them.
"Let's extend an offer of our hospitality."