*two hours later*
(Next week, the RELUCTANT QUEST FOR THE BOX! )
And so, Rarity set off to search for the lost box of destiny, thinking only to recover it before Twilight Sparkle found out that it was gone, not knowing that her mission would be of far more importance than she could imagine. For as Rarity set off to search, Twilight was at that very moment, corresponding with Luna and Celestia. The sisters requested the box be sent to them immediately, as unbeknownst to either Twilight or Rarity, the sisters had happened upon a most dire discovery that would affect them all.
A darkness was slowly falling upon Equestria, one of a most ancient and sinister origin. A power that had long slumbered, hidden away in the cold and dark places of the world, kept at bay for untold millennia by the aura of peace and light innately given off by the elements of harmony and their consecutive bearers. But now, after so long, it was beginning to stir from its slumber, awakened as the power of the elements that had kept it asleep for so long, was drained to restore the tree of harmony and suppress the Everfree once more. The drop in the elements power was not total or permanent, but it had been severe enough and lasted just long enough, to allow the darkness to begin its awakening. And though the power of the elements had been restored, and the aura of good renewed once more, it was not enough. For just as a storm churned sea is infinitely harder to contain than a still lake, the darkness had gained momentum with its stirrings, and could no longer be contained by the aura of the elements, only slowed in hopes of giving Luna and Celestia enough time to realize Equestria's peril and act.
But Twilight and Rarity knew none of this, for the sisters had a plan, and had decided that it was far to dangerous to let Twilight and her friends be a part of it, thus they kept it a secret, not wishing to alarm Twilight unnecessarily, for they could currently do little to aid them. So Twilight went trotting off to Carousel Boutique with Spike in tow, blissfully ignorant of their impending doom. Upon arriving, Twilight discovered Rarity and the box gone, and when she asked Sweetie Belle where Rarity and the box were, the little filly gulped and stammered nervously, quickly thinking up a lie so as not to get in trouble. She told Twilight that Rarity had gone out and taken the box with her, but when Twilight pressed the matter and asked why she would do that, Sweetie Belle panicked and blurted out the first thing that came to her mind, telling Twilight that Rarity had taken it to the jewelers to get polished. To Sweetie Belle's relief, Twilight apparently thought that was "just so like Rarity" and promptly went off to find her. But Sweetie Belle's relief quickly turned to dismay as Twilight left, realizing to late that now she would also be in trouble for lying as well when Twilight got there, only to discover the deception and find neither Rarity or the box! The little filly groaned and flopped down on the floor, resigning herself to the inevitable.
Meanwhile, Rarity had finally located the pawn shop that Sweetie Belle had sold the box at, only to discover that the box had already been bought by someone else, and worse, the owner was stubbornly refusing to tell her who! However Rarity was nothing if not a resourceful mare, and using her feminine wiles, she soon had the stubborn stallion telling her exactly what she wanted to know. With a flirtatious thanks and a flip of her mane, Rarity turned and daintily trotted out of the pawn shop, heading straight for Cheerilee's house. But to Rarity's dismay, Cheerilee didn't have the box either, claiming she didn't have it anymore, and when Rarity inquired what had happened to it, Cheerilee told Rarity that she had bought it as a present for Mayor Mare and that the box should be with her.
So Rarity sighed and trudged off, heading to town hall, were she was certain she would be able to find the Mayor at this time of day, telling herself that it was almost over. She did indeed find the Mayor at town hall, but to her growing irritation, not the box. After Rarity had explained the entire situation to Mayor Mare, she agreed to return the box and gave Rarity a pick up receipt for the jewelers, telling Rarity that she had intended to display it on her desk, and so had dropped it off at the jewelers to be polished. With a sigh and a brief thanks, Rarity took the receipt and dashed off to the jewelers, eager for this fetch quest from hell to be over. Silently praying the box would be there, Rarity stepped into the Jeweler's Shop. To her immense relief, the box was there, freshly polished and sitting on the counter, just waiting to be picked up. She eagerly explained everything to the old shopkeeper and gave him the receipt, then sighed with relief and picked up the box with her magic. Then she turned around, opened the door, and walked straight into Twilight, sending both of them sprawling.
With a groan and a shake of her head, Twilight got up and helped Rarity to her hooves, telling her that she had been looking all over for her and the box. Rarity muttered under her breath that it probably wasn't as hard as she'd been looking, then dismissing Twilight's plea for her to speak up with a wave of her hoof and a bit of nervous laughter, telling her it was nothing. Twilight shrugged and proceeded to tell her that she needed the box, because Luna and Celestia had asked that it be sent to them as soon as possible. Rarity eagerly presented Twilight with the box and came up with a quick lie to explain everything, telling her that she had just been getting it polished and had just come and picked it up. Taking the box with her magic and holding it before Spike, Twilight remarked that she knew this as Sweetie Belle had told her, and as the box disappeared into Spike's green fire of sending, Rarity found herself unsure whether she wanted to strangle Sweetie Belle, or hug her. Either way it looked like Rarity was in the clear, and after exchanging a few more pleasantries with Twilight, they both went their separate ways. As Rarity headed home, she finally decided to forgive Sweetie Belle for lying to Twilight, but that the filly would be grounded for a week for selling it in the first place.
When the box finally arrived at the castle, both Luna and Celestia sighed with relief, having been starting to worry at the long delay in the box's sending. The two sisters quickly packed the box and set forth for the frozen north in secret, flying as fast as they could, letting the box guide them and praying it wasn't to late. For three days and nights they flew, through the blazing heat and barren wastes of the changelings, over the sea of storms and its lashing rain and hurricane winds, through the howling blizzards and sub-zero temperatures of the northern griffin kingdoms, ever flying onward without rest, ignoring all pain and weariness in their mad race against their worlds destruction.
A few hours after leaving the northern griffin kingdoms behind, past the point were any sort of life could ever hope to possibly survive, they finally reached their destination, the top of the world, as far north as it was possible to go. Before them, rose a single great mountain, standing out in stark contrast to the flat, frozen, endless nothingness all around them, reaching so impossibly high into the heavens that, even though they were already a few thousand feet in the air, they couldn't even begin to see the top. The griffins called it "Heavens Pillar", for surely it thrust straight into the heavens were only the gods could tread upon its peak, because none had ever reached, or even seen the top of the mountain. At least, no one that anybody could be certain of anyway, for who could say what those mad few who tried saw before they died. Their bodies having finally frozen solid mid-flight, would drop out of the sky, descending out of the steel grey clouds to silently plummet the great distance to the ground below, where there lifeless frozen bodies would finally shatter upon the land. Their were few who had ever witness this happen, but all accounts were the same, describing the sight as both horrible and beautiful at the same time, saying it was as if you were watching an angel be cast down from heaven, as pale northern light would momentarily shine down upon it, through the hole briefly opened in the clouds by the bodies passage, before closing up and leaving the poor creature to finish its silent, 10 minute decent, through the steel gray darkness of the mountain air before disappearing upon the ground. For this reason, the griffins refer to those who die in this way as 'Fallen Angels', both as a memorial to their deaths and a warning to others.
Luna and Celestia knew all of this, but they had come to far to stop now, and if they took a moment to catch their breath first, both feared that they would never find the strength to take flight again. So they pressed on, heading straight up into the sky, and trying their best not to think about what may lay upon the ground below them. Higher and higher they flew, climbing nearly vertical for just over 12 hours now, each wing beat a labor and each foot risen becoming harder and harder as the air thinned. Both were now wrapped in a bubble of magic, using all their strength to draw enough oxygen to them just so they wouldn't suffocate. Ice covered their bodies now, though they were both long past the point where they could feel, let alone think, anything anymore, putting them into a lifeless stupor as their bodies continued upward on sheer muscle memory alone. They were utterly still aside from their wings, their heads drooped down, as looking up only brought them despair, for even though they had left the clouds far behind, they still could not see the top of Heavens Pillar.
It was then, when it seemed they could go no further, that Celestia's body, so unused to any sort of cold, finally gave out, her wings to heavy with ice to move any longer. She seemed to hang their for what must have felt like an eternity, her magic holding her aloft for a few moments more before it flickered and died. However long it was, it was long enough for Luna to take notice and pull herself out of her frozen stupor. With a strangled cry and the power born of fear and desperation, Luna reached for Celestia, grabbing her hoof just as gravity was beginning to reassert itself and drag Celestia back down to the frozen wasteland below, but it was all just to much for one half dead lunar princess to bare. Luna screamed as her already tortured body was pushed even further past its limits as she hauled Celestia up just enough that at least her head was within Luna's magical bubble, though it wouldn't matter for long as the increased strain was beginning to make Luna founder.
Luna knew they had only moments before both of them would fall to their deaths, joining the other fallen angels at the base of the mountain. She whipped her head around, desperately looking for something, anything, to save them, but there was nothing but them, the sky, and the mountain, who's sides were too steep and icy for any to take refuge on. Fear was beginning to take hold of Luna, when she spotted something on the mountain below them. About 10 feet down was a depression, an imperfection in the flat mountainside, and as she looked at it, she realized it wasn't a depression, it was a partially concealed cave entrance! In their frozen stupor, the two sisters had flown right past it without noticing, and Luna silently thanked the gods atop Heavens Pillar for their mercy as she used the last of her failing strength to get them to the mouth of the cave, just barely able to get them both over the small lip before her wing seized and the both fell the few remaining feet to the cave floor. With a piteous moan, Luna pulled her protesting body to its feet, and began to drag Celestia deeper into the cave, only making it another two dozen feet inside before her magical bubble gave out and she collapsed onto the floor next to Celestia.
When Luna awoke, she found Celestia huddled against her, having just awoken herself and trying to warm her. They were both shivering uncontrollably though, the ice on their bodies having melted away while they were unconscious, but that was the least of their concerns at the moment as Celestia pointed out, the more pressing matter to her mind was how they could possibly be alive. Cave or no cave, their spells had both failed, they should both have suffocated and frozen, never to awaken. But as Celestia voiced these thoughts, the answer was beginning to become apparent to Luna as she began to notice that this cave was quite odd. For one, they could breath, for another, it was far warmer than it should be, and as she sat there, she noticed that there was a shifting breeze in the cave, constantly swinging from flowing into the cave, and flowing out of the cave, as if the mountain was breathing. Luna was about to mention this to Celestia, but by now, she had noticed it as well, and was staring deeper into the cave. A shiver ran through the two sisters as they suddenly became aware of a pulsing darkness emanating from deeper in the cave. It appeared they had finally arrived at their destination at long last.
Luna and Celestia looked at each other, exchanging a silent confirmation before they both dragged their frozen, tortured bodies to their feet and began to half drag, half walk, deeper into the cave, descending down into the mountain as the floor sloped downward, their own piteous, whimpered moans of pain the only sound to be heard, traveling deep into the mountain, distorting and echoing back to them as wails that would make the damned souls of Tartauros envious; at least, they prayed it was their own echoes moans, and not something else.
They walked for hours, always heading down, and every minute the lights from their horns grew dimmer and dimmer, as if the darkness around them was beginning to physically press in upon it, willfully stifling the light, and the thought made their skin crawl. When it seemed they were moments away from being able to see nothing at all, the tunnel suddenly ended, stopping in a small outcropping that hung out into... well, nothing. Hard as they stared all around them, they could see nothing, it was as if someone had hollowed out the entire mountain and painted it black, as if they stood upon the edge of some great void and stared into the infinite abyss. But this nothing was, in itself, something, as they could feel it all around them, and the waves of evil and hate and darkness coming from it were like blows upon the sisters. They wanted to vomit, wanted to run, wanted to beg for mercy, wanted to lay down and die as they felt a wave of malevolence descend upon them as whatever this darkness was, focused its attention on them, but they didn't, they couldn't. They had a job to do and they couldn't fail, couldn't afford to fail.
They could feel the darkness around them beginning to move, and they knew that if they were to do something to stop this ancient evil, they had to do it now. Celestia opened her bag and pulled out the box, holding it above her and Luna. The box blazed with a brilliant white intensity that would have rivaled the light of a thousand suns, and they felt the darkness recoil from it, letting out an unearthly shriek that shook the mountain and emanated from deep within it, as if it was echoing up to them from miles away, and yet still just as terrible as if it had just been uttered inches away from them. The darkness around them surged forward, enraged, bent on snuffing out this hateful thing before it, and the two sisters bent their heads, touching their horns to the box and letting their power flow into it, and its power into them, joining as one. Their eyes began to burn with the light of the box, and as the darkness closed in, the two sisters opened their mouths and spoke as one as the will of the box used them, their words echoing thunderously with power.