Tarot Crusaders Prologue

    Pre-Prologue: Another Opening, Another Show
Another Trope Tale, Another Show, In Hogwarts, Helheim or Tokyo. A chance for gods here to say hello, another opening of another show!
The curtains have risen once more for a tale, and it seems it’s an interesting one. One of change, growth, hope, love…a lot of other sugary stuff that is hidden beneath a veneer of darkness and mysticism, but most of all, the story is  about ends and beginnings. The tale we’re about to tell is how one’s change, like the flap of a butterfly’s wings can create a tornado somewhere else, can dramatically affect everything. It is the thing that happens in life.
Even in the pantheon, what was once a battle of good vs evil added chaos and law, and then destruction, for fun. With houses and gods and battles coming up day by day, what happened to those times when things were simple?
That is something I cannot simply answer, but just write. Here is a tale, and here I hope you will stay to read till the end.The lights are shining, and the characters are ready. Let us begin at once.
    Prologue Part 1: It’s Time
Once upon a time, a trio of goddesses had a temple in the most unusual of Houses: The House of Ambiguity.Home of the surly, the morally ambiguous and the chaotic gods out there, these goddesses stuck out (especially since they were brightly colored compared to the dark and gritty gods that usually roamed the House) but they were too focused on trying to find their destiny, their purpose, their marks to pay any attention to it. Their days were filled with adventure, trials, failures and successes, but it still wasn’t enough for what was to come.
For one day, a dark soul entered their temple and sent them into the pits of Limbo. Limbo, a world of darkness, despair and emptiness was ready to do what it could to break their spirits. For what seemed like an eternity, the trio faced through the events of this strange land over and over again, repeating their trials and having Limbo try to devour them forever. But a glimmer of hope came to them, and the trio escaped.
Time passed after that incident, and the crusaders of Limbo obtained their purpose, had their family and friends celebrate this milestone in their lives, and they moved on (figuratively and literally) from the House of Ambiguity to the House of Prophecy where they could help point out the way to other gods in need. Their lives had changed, for better or worse, and they were determined to make the best of it.But of course, nothing lasts forever, and it will soon be time for them to return to where it all again, and face a trial that would shape everything that they know for years to come.
Still not convinced? Well, let’s start at the end (or beginning in this case) of this tale, and you’ll see soon enough.
 Prologue Part 2: Somewhere Only We Know

 

June 30th, 6:30 PM (House of Ambiguity – Entrance)

It was over.

The Cutie Mark Crusaders’ time in The House of Ambiguity had come to an end, and their going-away party was just about to come to a finish. It would be very odd to reveal that many of the gods there would become fond of a bunch of mischievous ponies, but it was there. Many of the gods congratulated them on their success, handed them gift after gift to them and spent time recalling their misadventures in obtaining their Cutie Marks. The Crusaders knew the truth as to why they had to leave (because of the actions of Upheaval that took place while they were in Limbo), but they kept it quiet so that it wouldn’t interrupt the pure joy that was being held by their friends.As sunset appeared, the Crusaders began to trot out of the House of Ambiguity, cameras filled with photos, bags filled with gifts, and hearts filled with memories. Lambdadelta teleported in front of them in a flurry of golden butterflies.

Lambdadelta: Well then. Can you believe what happened to you? You came out of the blue screaming, “CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS!” one day and now you’ve shown us that you’ve made a mark…(sees their Cutie Marks) or three.
Apple Bloom: Well, you know what we say, “Cutie Mark Crusaders don’t give in!”
Lambdadelta: And if there’s one truth I hold onto is that I respect hard workers. Considering what you went through weeks ago, getting your Cutie Marks was like a walk in a park.
Sweetie Belle: Or around 300….or 400…
Scootaloo: Yeah we kinda lost track after a while.
Lambdadelta: Thus it is my duty, and with great certainty, that I Lambdadelta give you my blessing. No matter where you go, no matter what you face…(smiles and gestures in front of her) all of us will be there to help.

The Cutie Mark Crusaders turned and saw three familiar figures walking toward them. One of them, the lone woman, nodded her head.

Luna Vachon: Goodbye, girls. We’ll all miss you.
Apple Bloom: We’re all going to miss you to, Miss Luna Vachon.
Luna Vachon: (smiles) You can call me Gertrude if you want. (leans forward and hugs Apple Bloom) Take care of yourselves, all right? And if you ever want to have another all-night horror movie marathon, we’ll leave the popcorn out for you.
Scootaloo: Sounds like a date to us!
Ralph: You better not give Cassandra any more trouble than she has, promise?
Sweetie Belle: Promise! I mean, it’s not like we’re getting into anymore trouble, right?

There was silence as the third Ambiguous God in the group was trembling, turning away from the Cutie Mark Crusaders and placing a hand over his face. Luna Vachon turned, concerned for her ex-husband and knowing just how much he had grown to care for the Crusaders (and vice versa). Many of the other gods who had gone back to their temples stared out of the windows to see the farewell scene.

Ralph: ‘Grel, aren’t you going to say goodbye?
Luna Vachon: David…you should at least have the decency to—

The last figure, David, or “Gangrel” as he was known, soon began to cry out as he pulled Apple Bloom into his arms. Apple Bloom felt the hot tears falling down her face as she gripped her hooves into Gangrel’s white shirt, burying her face in his chest and letting her own tears fall. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo also began to sob and tackled Gangrel in anguish.

Gangrel: (sobbing) I don’t want you to go! This can’t be how it ends!
Apple Bloom: (also sobbing) I don’t want it to end either! This isn’t fair! Why did that stupid Lucifer have to cause us to split apart?!

The name caused the Ambiguity Gods to cringe; Lucifer had now decided to move to the House of Ambiguity, and his presence in the Great Upheaval caused an upheaval throughout the Pantheon. The decision for the Crusaders to move to the House of Prophecy, aside from them gaining their Cutie Marks and the purpose to give others their purpose, was because it would protect them from a lot of dangers that would come in the future (although many gods noted that it couldn’t be that safe if it couldn’t predict how dangerous an asylum replacing the House of Friendship would be).

Lambdadelta: We all don’t like this decision, Gangrel. It has to be done.
Gangrel: (hiccuping) Does it?
Ralph: You of all gods knew this was going to happen. You can’t deny that, right?
Apple Bloom: We’ll be all right, Mr. Gangrel…(pulls out a tissue from her bag and hands it to him) Come on, you of all gods shouldn’t be crying over us. We’ll be fine.
Sweetie Belle: We’ll come over as soon as we’re settled in. Promise.
Scootaloo: Besides, you can’t be showing that side of you when you go fighting in the ring! Come on, cheer up!

After Gangrel blew his nose from the tissue, he righted himself and smiled.

Gangrel: You’re right. (ruffles Apple Bloom’s mane) Take care you three. Come back soon.
Apple Bloom: We will. Promise. Goodbye then!

As the trio rushed to the train that would take them to the House of Prophecy, they heard the gods from House of Ambiguity say goodbye as the door opened and the train began to move off. As the sun continued to set down, Luna turned to Gangrel.

Luna Vachon: They’re going to be all right. They’ve grown up so fast, you know.
Gangrel: (slips his hand into Luna’s) They have indeed.
Ralph: They’ll be in safe hands. Besides it’s not they’re going to be targeted for something sinister, right?
    Prologue Part 3: Wreak Havoc

???

Oh if only that was true.

What caused Apple Bloom to think about the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ farewell to the House of Ambiguity didn’t matter at the moment. What mattered was survival against the monsters that were out to get them. Dressed up as B.B Hood and wielding a shotgun in hand, she narrowed her eyes as a collection of watery beings lunged toward her.

Apple Bloom: Time to put you all in a watery grave!

Triggering a Burst Shot, a blast hit one of the monsters and caused it to explode into droplets of water that splashed on her. Another one flew toward her but was hit by a bolt of lightning. Apple Bloom turned to see Scootaloo dressed in a witch outfit resembling a Zapdos with a plus and minus sign on her boots for some odd reason. With her staff in hand (topped with a figure of a Zapdos) she raised it into the air and three bolts of lightning struck the second figure and it too became nothing more than blobs of water.

Scootaloo: I got your back! Where’s Sweetie Belle?
Sweetie Belle: Over here!

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo turned to see Sweetie Belle in a yellow Alice dress, summoning three slots in front of her. Time seemed to slow down as she concentrated on the spinning slots. The first one revealed to be a flower, the second one a flower. The third one?As the watery monsters continued their lunge toward her, Sweetie Belle stopped the third slot. Soon enough, it settled onto a third flower, the slots blinking out before Sweetie Belle let the cards above her head spin round and round.

Sweetie Belle: CRY IN THE NIGHT!

A blast of powerful magic knocked the watery monsters back with cries of pain and torture, hurling them into a large lake with a multitude of splashes. There was a loud wailing sound as Apple Bloom handed her friends a few potions.

Apple Bloom: I think that’s the last of them.
Scootaloo: This is getting out of hand—we haven’t even spent five minutes in here and everyone’s trying to kill us!
Sweetie Belle: I don’t think it’s even been five minutes and…wait, what’s that?!

The water in the lake began to bubble before a geyser rose into the air, transforming itself into a woman in a water tunic with tears down her eyes.

???: You will pay for harming my children! No one touches Llorona’s offspring and gets away with it!
Scootaloo: In all fairness, they touched us first.
Llorona: SILENCE!!!

Llorona raised her hands into the air before a wave of water crashed toward them. Apple Bloom pulled out a gem in the shape of an apple and raised it in the air.

Apple Bloom: PERSONA!

The gem began to glow before a blue heron with flaming wings flew out to protect the group. Llorona snarled as the heron unleashed a dazzling light that blinded the watery spirit.

Sweetie Belle: Whoa! Since when did your shadow look like that?
Apple Bloom: I got into studying Egyptian Mythology after our run-in with Yugi. This is a bennu bird—a distant cousin to the phoenix. His name is Islington, and he represents light, the sun and healing. (turns to see Llorona getting pissed off) Anyway, let’s get out of these clothes. Ready?

Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle nodded their heads as the three pulled out their Garment Grids, each marked with a different symbol: Apple Bloom’s had a heart with a cross inside, Sweetie Belle’s had a star and Scootaloo’s showed a lightning bolt.

Cutie Mark Crusaders: Sphere change, now!

Llorona knocked Apple Bloom’s Persona away as she watched the outfits of the Crusaders change: Apple Bloom was now an Alchemist with armor modeled after a Regirock, Sweetie Belle was a Black Mage with an outfit based off an Articuno and Scootaloo had a Warrior Dressphere making her resemble Lightning Farron with a Crimson Sword in her hooves. She snarled.

Llorona: There is no time for dress up around me! I will show you all!

With a scream, Llorona’s wave of water transformed into a myriad of faces…children faces. Each of them screamed and cried to be released, their wails sounding like a chorus of despair and hatred, causing tears to fall down the Crusaders’ eyes. Apple Bloom quickly wiped them off.

Apple Bloom: Guys, you’re gonna have to trust me on what we have to do to stop her.
Sweetie Belle: What do you need us to do?
Apple Bloom: I need you guys to launch me directly at her so she can swallow me whole.
Scootaloo:…WHAT?!

There was no time to finish as Llorona’s arms stretched out to grab Apple Bloom. Apple Bloom struggled and pointed her gun at the watery maiden, pulling out her Summoning Gem also.

Apple Bloom: You know, I think you and Other Mother would get quite along nicely witch. Now keep still while I throw this in your—

Llorona covered Apple Bloom’s head with a bubble of water, causing the pony to struggle for air. Scootaloo saw one of Llorona’s arms reaching out to her and Sweetie Belle and raised her sword.

Scootaloo: Flametongue!

Scootaloo’s blade became wrapped in flames that sliced through the water like a knife through butter. Steam rose from the cuts as Llorona howled. Sweetie Belle raised her staff (topped with an Articuno figure) into the air.

Sweetie Belle: FREEZE!

Ice began to form on Llorona’s stub of an arm and began to crawl over the rest of Llorona’s body…even on the bubble that trapped Apple Bloom! Launching into the air, Scootaloo used her Flametongue once more to slice the arm grabbing Apple Bloom all while Apple Bloom gasped for breath and rummaged in her bag.

Apple Bloom: I told you guys I needed to be swallowed by her!
Scootaloo: It’s not gonna work if you drown!

The ice around Llorona began to crack and she soon had her hands on Apple Bloom once again. Only this time, she did just as Apple Bloom said and swallowed her whole. With a wave of her hand, Scootaloo was knocked out of the air and crashed into Sweetie Belle, the two only able to watch Apple Bloom sink deep into the waters that was Llorona herself.

Llorona: I’ve always wanted my daughters to have a pony to play with…but there are so many daughters and only one little pony! Wait…(smiles) I see two more for me to…

There was silence as Llorona placed a hand on her watery stomach. Then, there was a scream as Apple Bloom’s Persona rose out of Llorona’s stomach while Apple Bloom began to mix two L-Bombs together.

Apple Bloom: Cluster Bomb ready! FIRE AWAY!!!

Riding on Islington, Apple Bloom turned around and fired her gun at Llorona, the watery monster looking in horror as the bomb was inches away from her face.

Llorona: NO!!!!

With a loud explosion, Llorona’s body was spread out, and transformed into steam and raindrops, the screams of children heard as Sweetie Belle finished it off with another Blizzaga spell that froze the water droplets, transforming them into a myriad of snowflakes that blanketed the grass with fresh powdery ice. Most of Llorona’s body was now a ice sculpture depicting half of Llorona’s face blown off, her arm stretched out in horror, another hand covering the large hole in her stomach, and a tear falling down her eye before dropping into the slowly freezing lake.

Scootaloo: If she wasn’t out to kill us, I’d feel sort of sorry for her. (activates Flametongue once more) Oh well.
Apple Bloom: I’ve got two more Bomb Cores on me. Ready?
Scootaloo: (smirks) My blood….IS ON FIRE!!!!!

Pegasus and Earth Pony unleashed their attacks, Apple Bloom hurling a Firestorm that caused the ice to explode and Scootaloo unleashing three slashes at the statue causing it to break apart and crash into the center of the lake with a loud splash, the rising water slowly transforming into more and more ice. Then, orbs of light flew from the statue and into the sky, laughing and cheering in delight. Islington gently landed by the lakeside, nuzzling Apple Bloom before vanishing. Sweetie Belle just sighed as she took the potion that Apple Bloom gave her.

Sweetie Belle: That takes care of that. (sees the orbs surrounding the lake) I wonder what that was all about.
??? Oh, you’d like to know, huh?

The Crusaders turned around as a figure in white approached them, wearing a stylish top hat. Covering the person’s eyes were a pair of white sunglasses, and in his hand was a cane. Sequins studded his pants and sleeves making the outfit shine like the stars. Behind him were two other unique figures. To the top hat wearer’s left was a figure in a full-body chessboard outfit wearing a white jacket backed with horizontal black and white stripes. To their right was a man in a black shirt depicting a white rabbit in a circle, and a strange black mask with a mohawk. He The figure in the center smiled widely.

Scootaloo: Who are you supposed to be?
???: I AM THE WALRUS! GOO GOO G’JOOB!

There was some silence as the Crusaders tilted their heads. After a few seconds, it clicked.

Sweetie Belle: No, you’re not! You’re Paul London!
Paul London: EXACTLY! (bows to them) Nice to meet you, where you been? Oh and before you ask, the one on my right is Mala Suerte….

Mala Suerte nodded his head, hit his chest twice with his fist and then pointed at the Crusaders. The Crusaders stared at the strange earrings he wore: on his left ear were a blue four-pointed star and a red-yellow-blue heart.

Paul London: And to my left is Saltador.

Saltador cocked their head slightly and smiled at them, unnerving them a bit considering what Saltador was wearing.

Paul London: So, what exactly are three lost souls doing here in…Limbo?
Apple Bloom: Limbo?! We’re in Limbo again?!

The name struck a chord with the Crusaders—the last time they were there they had been forced by Yugi Muto into the hellish world, their souls going through the trials of Limbo over and over again. None of them wanted to remember the numerous times they were killed, butchered, pierced by spider legs, drowned, shocked, and so forth. Paul London grinned all the same.

Apple Bloom: Quick, what day is it in the Pantheon?
Paul London: Today is August 4th, 2026. Today is August 4th, 2026. Today is August 4th, 202—(Saltador hits him in the face) OW!
Saltador: It’s around 3:15 AM, October 31st—it’s Witching Hour, when all the demons, witches and monsters roam free…until 4 AM anyway.
Sweetie Belle: Okay then…but how did you guys get to Limbo?
Mala Suerte: The white rabbit showed us the way.
Mala Suerte: Look! There’s the white rabbit now!

The Cutie Mark Crusaders turned to where Mala Suerte pointed and saw a white rabbit glowing like the North Star in the distance. Paul London smiled.

Paul London: We of the Rabbit Tribe must follow her…our guru, our goddess…Into paradise, into war, into pleasure and pain…she leads us to our final destination. We must go!
Scootaloo: Hey, wait a minute!

As Paul London and his Rabbit Tribe chased after the rabbit—and the Crusaders saw the words “Follow the White Rabbit” on the back of Mala Suerte’s shirt—the trio of ponies hurried after them, still unsure as to why they were in Limbo, but it was better to go after Paul London than to face whatever trials Limbo wanted to put them through again. The frozen lake soon gave way into blackened trees all lit with jack-o-lanterns—dark they were and golden-eyed, each of them with a different pair of eyes, noses, grins. As the pumpkins swayed in the wind, they all seemed to say, “Cutie Mark Crusaders, we’d knew you come.”

Led by Paul London singing “I am the Walrus”, the Crusaders soon found themselves in a clearing. The white rabbit sat in the middle of a picnic blanket resembling a chessboard, ears twitching as it nibbled on a carrot. Paul London, Mala Suerte and Saltador smiled, rushed toward the picnic, held hands and spun round and round in circles in celebration.

Paul London: Oh White Rabbit, we knew you’d come give us your blessings! It’s a Perfectly Practical Pumpkin Picnic for us all! Come join us little ponies—we must FEAST!

He, along with Mala Suerte and Saltador, released their hands, spun around in place and then sat down to open the picnic basket, revealing multiple pumpkin dishes that caused the Crusaders to drool a bit. In Limbo there was no food to be found, and they never found themselves to be hungry (because they were too focused on surviving Limbo in the first place), but now they felt the exhaustion from using their Dresspheres and having to survive on mere potions and White Magic. Paul London began to note the dishes in front of them.

Paul London: Let’s see: we have pumpkin pie, cream of pumpkin soup, pumpkin scones, pumpkin juice, hen in a pumpkin, roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin croquettes, pumpkin lasagna, pumpkin macaroni, (gasps) pumpkin pudding and…(looks at the last item) red velvet cupcakes? What, no pumpkin muffins?
Saltador: (shows empty picnic basket and slightly shakes it) Lo siento.
Paul London: Drat.

The Crusaders slowly approached the picnic spread and sat down, just as Mala Suerte began passing out slices of pumpkin pie—topped with whipped cream—to everyone else. Saltador tilted their head as they picked up a warm cup of pumpkin soup in their hands.

Apple Bloom: You’re not hungry?
Saltador: No. But I am melancholic….this all reminds me of something…a memory…
Scootaloo: You’re telling us. (takes a scone into her mouth) You wouldn’t believe how we got here in the first place.
Paul London: So indulge us! Indulge the White Rabbit with a story of your return to Limbo while we have our feast. And do not worry—so long as the White Rabbit is here, no monsters will come to you.
Sweetie Belle: Well, where shall we start?
Mala Suerte: Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end. Then stop.

The Cutie Mark Crusaders looked at each other as Apple Bloom took a piece of pumpkin pie into a fork. Then, she sighed.

Apple Bloom: I guess if you want to know how we ended up in Limbo this time, it all started when we went to the PWF Smashfest live taping. Or, perhaps it even started before that…when we were leaving our temple in the House of Prophecy for the show.
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