Hoofsteps echoing quietly off the walls, a white figure carefully walked down an ancient stone corridor. Lit torches were placed periodically along the wall, throwing the mossy cracks into strange relief. The figure passed quickly through the torch light revealing the striking, regal form of an alicorn, casting deformed shadows on the walls. The flickering light of the fire caused her white coat to appear an unnatural shade of orange. Wary, yet confident, she tossed her multi-hued green mane as she turned left at a fork in the tunnel, jade colored eyes squinting in the gloom. She wasn't lost; she knew exactly where she was going, even though she hadn't been here in centuries. Even so, these underground tunnels always made her nervous. Their silence was nearly suffocating. She longed to finish her business and return to the surface where she could again feel the sunshine and hear the noises of her beloved nature. She had no idea how long she walked, but soon she could make out a somewhat brighter light coming from up ahead.
As she drew closer she could see the shape of an archway thrown into relief by a glittering blue light. She had reached her destination. Squinting her eyes tighter as they adjusted to this new light, she entered a large cavern and waited till she could fully take in the view before her. Not much had changed since she had been here last. There was a hexagonal shaped pool in the center of the cave that was filled with glittering blue water; the source of the light glinting off the earthy walls. The walls were bare, leading up to a high ceiling the depths of which were almost lost to the darkness. Her eyes brightened with recognition as she spotted the cloaked figure of a pony looking into the pool. He was here.
"So. You've come........Flora." he said in a quiet, smooth voice that carried through the whole cave.
Flora felt a light shiver make its way down her spine and she ruffled her wings slightly at the sound of his voice. No matter how many times she met him, she would always be more than a little nervous around this strange pony.
"You've been waiting for me?" she asked trying to sound surprised. She knew that somehow he would have already known she was making this journey here tonight.
"Of course." he replied smoothly. She stood there, nervously swishing her tail. "Relax my dear. Come foward. Find the answer you seek so desperately." Mustering her courage and releasing a sigh, she slowly walked foward till she stood next to the hooded stallion.
As always, Flora could not make out the stranger's face in the shadow of his hood. Due to his cloak, she couldn't even tell if he was a unicorn, or a pegasus; or (unlikely as it seemed), an alicorn like her. She realized once again that she didn't even know his name. However, any uncertainty that this caused was overpowered by her desire for answers. She knew she shouldn't be afraid: this stranger had proven he wasn't malicious, and he didn't want to hurt her. But it was still disconcerting to know that she knew almost nothing about this strange pony, yet he seemed to know just about everything about her. He spoke in that same silky smooth voice, breaking her out of her nervous preoccupation.
"Look into the pool. Are these the six that you seek?" he questioned as six faces appeared in the depths of the water. She glanced at the pool for moment, an unsure expression on her face. She of course didn't recognize the ponies she saw before her.
"Uh well actually..." she started uncertainly. "I was kind of hoping YOU could tell ME." A small chuckle escaped from the depths of the hood, which only put Flora even more on edge.
"Quite." he murmured quietly. He was silent for a moment before he spoke again. "Yes. These six are the stallions that fate has chosen to wield the powers of the earth. This has been their destiny since before they were born. Study and memorize their faces." Silence again ruled the conversation as the alicorn mare studied the six ponies seeming to stare up at her from the bottom of the pool. The cloaked figure next to her broke the silence again with a question. "What are you going to do with this knowledge now that you have it?"
Flora looked over at the stranger and studied what little of his face she could see. His question had sounded innocent enough. He seemed to be simply curious. Looking back into the pool she sighed. "First I will find them and watch them a bit. Then I will do everything I can to help them find and learn to use their powers. Is there anything else you can tell me that would help?" she asked trying to keep the slight desperation out of her voice. The stallion didn't answer right away. Growing more and more impatient as the moments passed, the alicorn started quietly tapping her hoof. Finally, he answered.
"There is one thing." he said. Flora could swear she could hear him smiling. Briefly she wondered if he was trying to make her crazy. Mentally shaking her head she found herself leaning closer in anticipation of the cloaked figures next words. "It would appear that fate has decided something very interesting this time around. It seems, that the destiny of these six, is tied closely to those of the Elements of Harmony." At this, the white alicorn raised her brow in surprise.
"What does that mean?" she asked earnestly. The stallion paused a moment before replying.
"Not all things are meant to be known before they come to pass." he said softly. Flora was thoroughly frustrated at this point. She stomped a hoof and shook her head slightly.
"And what is THAT supposed to mean!?" she demanded angrily. Turning and raising his head, the stranger looked Flora right in the eye. She held back a gasp as she saw a young, serious white face, framed by a smooth brown mane, out of which extended a long white horn . But what struck her the most was the deep brown eyes filled with ageless wisdom that she felt she would probably never be able to comprehend. Suddenly she felt very young under the power of his gaze. She unconciously took a step back, away from those piercing eyes.
"It means," he said dryly, "that your going to have to be patient. Just watch and wait. I think you'll be surprised at how these six fulfill their own destinies. You might not even have to do much." All the white mare could do was stare at this mysterious pony that she couldn't even begin to make sense of. After meeting her gaze for a moment, he turned back to the pool, a small smile playing at the edges of his mouth. "Just have faith. You already have more answers of the future than most ponies could ever hope to ask for. Now go. Destiny will soon leave you behind if you don't hurry." Realizing she didn't dare argue with this pony, Flora moved hesitantly away from the pool, back towards the way she came.
"Thankyou." She said quietly. Turning his head slightly, he nodded silently at the mare.
Turning away, she finally walked toward the tunnel out of the cave. Stopping, she turned back again to look one last time at the mysterious pony that always raised more questions than he answered. She blinked in shock when he wasn't there; he had somehow disappeared. Taking one last glance around the dark, glittery cave, she wondered if she would ever figure out exactly who the white stallion was. She shivered once and hurried away, determined to return to the surface and find those six ponies that fate had chosen for her. Mind whirling, she contemplated the daunting task before her.
She wasn't sure how much time she would have. She realized she would have to trust her mysterious friend and have patience. Occupied by her thoughts, she was surprised when she could suddenly see the exit ahead of her. Finally breaking out into the surface world, she was pleased to see the sun just rising over the horizon. It was going to be difficult she thought as she closed her eyes and inhaled the smells of the forest. Hopefully it would all be worth it in the end. Taking a deep breath she took to the air and headed towards the sun, determination set on her face. She had done this before and she would do it again. She had to; the world she loved depended on it.
Meanwhile, far away from the underground tunnel in a dark forest, an even darker shadow moved across the forest floor. The shadow moved quickly as it snuck in between the trees. The figure paused as it reached the edge of a small clearing. Moving foward it walked into the center of the clearing and looked around slowly with glowing red eyes. A dark black and red glow appeared at the end of a twisted horn on the figure's forehead. As it glowed brighter a red aura enveloped the clearing. Runes appeared on the ground radiating out from the center of the empty space creating a circle with spokes like a wagon wheel.
The light grew brighter and brighter as a small black orb of energy appeared in the air above the glowing seal. Black and red lightning emitted in sparks from the orb singeing anything within proximity. The energy built until the ball turned into a long thin line that slowly opened wide into a doorway of swirling black. After a moment a hoof appeared out of the portal. Then a tall slender pony followed. The pony was pitch black with long straight white hair. She opened her eyes to reveal blood red irises. She had a long spiraling horn identical to the figure standing in front of her.
Crackling with energy the portal behind her closed as quickly as it had opened and the shining runes on the ground slithered back to their central point and disappeared. The mare stepped foward squinting at the figure and said in a raspy voice "Is it really you?"
The figure responded in his own silky smooth voice "Yes, it's me. It's good to see you again."
"You're all grown up. How long have I been in there?" she asked.
"Twenty years." he replied quietly. A look of shock registered on the dark mare's face. "What now?" he asked, reading her expression carefully.
"The plan is the same." she said, recovering from her surprise. "Nothing has changed. We will free them. All of them." The dark figure blinked slowly as anticipation glittered in his blood red eyes.