Chapter 9: Into the Fog
After sending that lantern into the sky for Blackhorn, every Pony and Diamond Dog aboard the Golden Alicorn was in bereavement, while some may not have liked Blackhorn that much it was always a sad day when one of their own is taken by the sea. All through the night, the saddening music from one of the Diamond Dog’s accordion filled the entire lower deck, causing every pirate on board to sigh in sadness with each note that was played. The next morning, when the sun crept over the horizon, all those who were on the day shift came out for their morning work however Twilight had something else on her mind. Walking up to the upper deck she knocked the door of the Captain's cabin, at first there was no answer and all she could hear was a strange tune coming through the wood, suddenly then the tired voice of Jack Silver was heard through the door.
"Who is it?" he asked.
"It's Twilight Captain, is it okay if I come in?" Twilight asked.
"Enter," Jack replied.
Twilight then opened the door and entered the Captain's cabin, it was darker than it usually was, most of the lamps weren't lit and the atmosphere itself was deeply depressing. Jack Silver was sitting at his piano, staring down at Blackhorn's hat and continuing to play heart-breaking music with his magic, his eyes bloodshot from the lack of sleep, clearly Blackhorn's passing hit him hard.
"What is it Miss Sparkle?" he asked.
"I…I just wanted to see how you were doing," Twilight said. "I understand Blackhorn was a close friend of yours,"
"Friend?" Jack said quietly as he stopped playing. "Nay Twilight, he was more like a brother to me, ever since I found him on that beach I saw a little bit of myself in him for we had both lost the ones we loved… I take it Shimmer told you about her mother?"
"She… she did,"
"Then you must know of the pain I feel, of what Blackhorn felt, I can't expect you to understand but when you lose the one you most care for it drives you mad. But the truth is I was the lucky one, I had Shimmer, I had the ship, I had my crew, but Blackhorn had nothing, Blackhorn had no one. After my wife died I swore that no other pony nor Diamond Dog would die under my care unless it was their time, old age Miss Sparkle, that's how it's supposed to be. But now Blackhorn is gone and his pain has ended, however I now carry the pain of many, I'm so old Twilight, I've seen many of my crew fall to old age, their captors, even their own grief, but when my time comes I want to make sure that my family never suffers as I did. Three generations of Ponies, Zebras and Diamond Dogs alike now reside on board and I care for each and every one of them, when we find the seventh Element of Harmony I plan to return to Canterlot to plea for my crew's freedom, for an official pardon for crimes which are my own."
At those words Twilight couldn't help but feel astonished.
"You…you mean you're going to…" she began.
"Blackhorn was aware of this plan before he died," Jack said, interrupting her. "I plan to offer myself in exchange for my crew's safety, I feel you deserve to know since we are now nearing the end of our journey."
"But what about Shimmer?" Twilight asked. "Doesn't she have a say in this?"
"I rather she didn't know," Jack sighed as he walked away from the Piano and faced one of his bookshelves. "When you spend your whole life running and those around you share your burden because they have no choice but to follow, those you care about the most always get hurt, I learnt that the hard way a long time ago and I don't intend for it to continue anymore. Blackhorn shall be the last one to die upon my ship and intend to make sure of it, you should have seen him twenty years ago, always keeping order amongst the crew, winning every time some pony challenged him to a game of liar's dice."
"You really cared a lot for him didn't you?" Twilight said with a slight smile.
"As much as I do any pony else upon this ship," Jack said smiling back. "I care for them so much that I was present for each major event that happened in their lives, I was around when T-Cog lost his back leg back in the Gallopagos islands, I watched Shimmer grow into happy little filly as she played along the deck with the rest of the crew, I even hatched and raised Slash from his very egg after his mother abandoned him years ago."
Twilight couldn't help but feel so much for this aging stallion, to care so much for every pony on board was almost too much to bear, she only imagine Celestia herself being the only other pony who shares his burden. However something else about Jack's last sentence played on her mind.
"Wait…you hatched…" she said with a raised eyebrow. "But Dragon hatching is a very rare spell, only those who were students in Princess Celestia's school for…"
But then Twilight stopped in the middle of her sentence due to the sudden realisation.
"You used to LIVE in Canterlot didn't you?" she gasped.
At those words, Jack simply turned to her and smiled.
"Not for a long time now… but yes I did once." he answered her. "I was once a fine student in that magical school of gifted Unicorns, young, spirited, all the qualities parents could be proud of but none of it made me happy. Sick of all the uptight criticism I witnessed against what my parents considered 'lesser' ponies I ran away from home at the age of ten and never looked back, it was then I discovered my true calling, while most ponies loved the land, I loved the sea. At first I sailed on cargo ships but I found that there was no excitement to it, but soon enough I discovered my talent of pirating thus receiving my Cutie Mark in such skills. Using some of the other skills I've learnt I constructed this very ship and set sail. Over the years I took on a crew of the most wonderful of misfits, some of which were frightened, alone, all of whom just wanting a place where they could belong. Unlike my bigoted parents would do, I accepted them no matter who they were or even what they were, in a way Twilight leaving that country was the best decision I ever made… at least until I started losing friends along the way."
Jack then once again turned his back to Twilight trying to hide his misery, Twilight however simply placed her hoof on his shoulder trying give him some comfort.
"Look Jack," she said sternly. "I may not be a pirate but I am part of your crew and I say to you right now that what you’re planning to do has to be the stupidest thing I ever heard."
"I…wait what?" Jack said turning towards her.
"Jack everyone here looks up to you," Twilight explained. "If they didn't then T-Cog would have left right after that shark bit his leg off, each and every one of these pirates owes you their lives be it literal or otherwise and now your planning to leave them behind?"
"It would be the only way to be sure they're safe!" Jack snapped.
"After seeing these pirates in action, I know for a fact they don't need to be kept safe, they need YOU. It was YOU who gave them a chance of a new life, YOU who gave until it hurt all for their sake, and YOU who tried to keep every pony on this ship together even when times seemed like it's most dire. Look, I understand why you want to do this, but if you turn yourself in your just going to crush them and wouldn't you think they might just try to break you out of prison after you do? They care as much for you as you do for them Jack, I heard it from their own mouths."
At those words Jack looked at Twilight with an expression of pure shock, never in his life had he been spoken to like this. Although he had to admit that there was truth in Twilight's words.
"I… I never thought of it like that," he said. "I knew I had to do something to make sure my crew was safe after I'm gone… but I guess that plan was just the ramblings of an old fool and recent events only helped cloud my mind."
"Glad to see you think so." Twilight said with a smile. "Look, Magic Star and Blackhorn may be gone Jack, but you're still here and through you they'll always be remembered, both by you and your crew, Shimmer especially."
Jack's face then lit up with a gentle smile.
"She does have a lot of her mother in her," he said as his eyes started to tear up. "You're right Twilight, I may be old, I may have lost many friends, but this old seadog still has a few things to do before his time is done. Tell Shimmer to gather the crew on deck, I don't care if they're asleep I wish to see them all."
"Aye-Aye Captain," Twilight said, giving him a salute.
Twilight then made her way towards the door, but before she left Jack had to say something else.
"Hey Twilight," he said as Twilight opened the door. "Thank you. Equestria is certainly lucky to have you as one of their Princesses."
Twilight then simply gave Jack a gentle smile and left the cabin.#
Acting upon the Captain's word, Shimmer gathered the entire crew out on deck, even those asleep in their hammocks had to be woken up so they could attend.
"This had better be important," Rainbow Dash moaned. "I only got like 20 minutes of sleep."
"I'm sure whatever it is it has to be important," Applejack said rubbing her eyes. "Otherwise the Captain wouldn't gather the WHOLE crew."
Suddenly Jack exited his cabin and stepped onto the upper deck looking down at his crew with woe in his eyes.
"My friends," he said. "I have been an idiotic, stupid old fool, in the past few days I have made your lives terrible and I wish to apologise for it. Making you all suffer was the last thing I intended to do, I let my emotions overcome my judgement of you all, but now I wish to make amends, from this moment on there shall be no more shifts, no more misery,and no more suffering."
At those words, every crewmember's face lit up with joy, their true Captain had returned to them.
"I have lived long enough to know when I was wrong and this here is one of those moments," Jack continued. "From here on out things are going to go back to the way they were, and when we find that seventh Element of Harmony I shall personally make sure that this entire ship will be stocked with rum as high as the deck!"
Hearing this every crewmember cheered so loud the entire ship echoed with their screams.
"However we must not forget our fallen comrade, Blackhorn was indeed a fine quartermaster devoted to keeping this ship on track with our mission and I intend to make sure he didn't die in vain. Gentlemen, ladies, we may be a group of misfits to the rest of the world but here we work as one great force, Blackhorn knew that and I know you do too and so I say to you right now… I am going to find that seventh Element and I am going to do it for Blackhorn and all those we have lost on this ship… because they would have wanted us to find it and they deserve nothing less."
"Here here!!!" T-Cog yelled.
"So what say you my friends?" Jack asked. "Are you willing to fight on for our friends? ARE YOU!?!"
"AYE-AYE SIR!!!" the crowd screamed.
"Then let us go forth and find that Element, for our ship… for our comrades… for our friends!!!"
The crowd then cheered and inspired by Jack's words, they returned to their stations and kept the ship moving, even those who were on the night shift did what they could to help. Seeing the happy looks on everyone, Shimmer turned to Twilight with a smile on her face.
"I don't know what you said to him Twilight," she said. "But thank you."
"You don't have to thank me Shimmer," Twilight said humbly. "I just did what any friend would do."#
Needless to say things became a lot better for everyone since Jack made his last announcement, over the next three days the day and night shifts were cancelled and the entire crew went back to just working during the day. The crew also seemed to act a lot more decent a towards the Mane Six again, some even apologised for acting so aggressively around them, particularly the Diamond Dogs who cornered Rarity a few days previously, surprisingly she found it flattering when they literally fell to their knees and practically begged for forgiveness. Finally, at the end of the fourth day the Pegasus in the crow's nest spotted something ahead of the ship.
"FOG!!!" he yelled. "There's a wall of fog ahead!"
Hearing this the entire crew gathered on deck to see it for themselves, just a few yards from the ship was indeed a wall of fog, but unlike any other fog any pony had ever seen. Instead of a pale grey like most fogs were, the mist was a luminous blue that sparkled like diamonds, it may have looked pretty but it was also unnerving.
"Is…is fog supposed to look like that?" Scootaloo asked nervously as she sat on Rainbow Dash's shoulders.
"Not any fog I've ever seen." Rainbow Dash answered.
"It looks weird." Sweetie Belle pointed out.
"Tis the veil that surrounds the Burmuleda Triangle lassie," T-Cog explained. "We've arrived."
Twilight couldn't believe it, after everything they've been through, the Golden Alicorn had finally made it to the Burmuleda Triangle. Suddenly she felt a tap on her shoulder, turning her head she saw Jack Silver standing over her.
"It is time Twilight," he said. "Gather your friends and meet me in my cabin in five minutes."#
As the Mane Six gathered in Jack Silver's cabin, they knew what he was planning to do. Standing in front of one of the bookshelves he began to rummage among the books, finally he found what he was looking for. Seizing a large blue book titled 'Secrets of the Sea Serpents', he pulled it towards him and the entire shelf swung open to reveal a large corridor.
"Come on," Jack said with a smile. "It is time I return what is rightfully yours."
The Mane Six then followed Jack into the hidden corridor which eventually led them to a second door encrusted with several rubies and emeralds and sealed with an unusual lock.
"Not even T-Cog or my own daughter knows about this vault," Jack said as he placed his horn inside the lock. "I would appreciate you six didn't tell a soul what you are about to witness."
Releasing his horn from the lock, Jack watched as the doors began to shudder and dissolve into nothing like dust, inside upon individual pedestals were five shimmering gem-studded necklaces and one gem-studded crown the Mane Six recognised in an instance.
"Behold the Elements of Harmony," Jack announced. "All of which rightfully belong to you… Honesty… Kindness… Laughter… Generosity… Loyalty… and of course the most powerful of the six… Magic."
In the order of which he announced them, Jack levitated each Element to their rightful Bearers, finally they were reunited.
"Come my friends," Jack continued as she once again sealed the vault. "It is time we put these relics to use."
Following Jack out of his cabin and onto the deck, the Mane Six couldn't help feel both excited and terrified, as every pirate and Cutie Mark Crusader surrounded them, each were ready to do their duty.
"Are you ready girls?" Jack asked.
"We are sir," Rainbow Dash said as she saluted the Captain.
"Just say the word Cap!" Applejack added.
"Then do it my friends," Jack said stepping back and showing a smile on his face. "Light the way."
Acting upon Jack's word the Mane Six readied themselves, suddenly before everyone's eyes an aura of magical power surrounded them levitating them from the very deck.
"This is gonna be epic!" Scootaloo squealed happily.
Suddenly a rainbow-colored blast of power erupted from the magical aura and shot straight into the sky, finally the blast of power shot a beam of light directly towards the wall of fog ahead of ship that continued to stay there even as the aura surrounding the Mane six faded and floated back down to the deck. Everyone watched in awe as the beam of light continued to point directly into the fog, finally Jack spoke up.
"We have our heading lads!" he called gleefully. "All ahead slow!"
Cheering, every crewmember returned to their stations and the ship began to set sail into the shimmering abyss of the blue fog ahead of them.#
After spending a few hours sailing through the fog, everyone on board the Alicorn was beginning to feel uneasy, never in their lives have they seen so much mist.
"This fog is just creepy," Apple Bloom said as she helped T-Cog light a few of the lanterns. "It doesn't feel natural."
"That's cause there's supposed to be magic in this here fog lass," T-Cog explained. "They say the entire continent of Burmuleda is bristling with it, I guess that's why the original Harmony Bearer hid it there in the first place."
"I wish he chose somewhere a little less spooky," Sweetie Belle said through a series of fearful shivers.
"Yeah this place gives me the willies," Apple Bloom added.
"Fear not my young fillies," T-Cog smirked. "This fog is nothing to be worried about, why don't you two find Scootaloo and pop yourselves down to the galley, I do believe Rummy's cooking up a bit of cake."
"Ooh I hope it's chocolate," Sweetie Belle said happily as she and Apple Bloom ran down to the galley.
"Why'd ya lie to my sister?" Applejack asked as she walked up to T-Cog with Twilight.
"What do you mean?" T-Cog said quickly.
"Don't try to cover up, yer talking to the one who bears the Element of Honesty," Applejack said with a stern face. "I know a lie when I see it, what is it you ain’t telling?"
T-Cog then sighed knowing that he had to speak the truth.
"Well if you must know I didn't want to scare the little fillies," he explained. "Truth be told, I'm a little uneasy about this fog, not the fog itself but what's supposed to be within it."
"What are you talking about?" Twilight asked.
"They say an evil being resides within the mists of Burmuleda," T-Cog continued. "One who has lived for over a thousand years, skulking in caves looking for victims to drag to the depths of the sea… the Kelpie."
"What the hay is a Kelpie?" Applejack asked with a raised eyebrow.
"It's a water-based creature," Twilight explained. "A monstrous pony supposedly made entirety out of water, I read about it in my library once."
"And it's supposed to be vicious," T-Cog added. "The Monster of the Sea as she's called, a monster made up entirely of water luring victims to her cave by taking the form of those they love most and dragging them down to the watery depths where they are drowned and eaten."
"Or sometimes… the other way around," Twilight said with a shudder. "Ugh, it's too horrible to even think about… but I thought the Kelpie was just a myth."
"Maybe she is, maybe she isn't," T-Cog said shrugging his shoulders. "Either way I don't feel right in this fog, I feel like something is watching us, waiting for the perfect moment to strike."#
It had been almost five hours since the Golden Alicorn sailed through the fog and still there was no end to it, those aboard who weren't scared of the fog were starting to become restless.
"Ugh this is so boring," Sweetie Belle moaned.
"Yeah I would have thought we'd reach land by now," Scootaloo added.
"This has got to be the most tiresome thing ever." Apple Bloom said.
"I know how you feel girls but we have to be patient," Rarity said. "It shouldn't be too long now,"
"But that's what you said an hour ago," Sweetie Belle pointed out.
As all four of them continued to argue, Jack and Twilight looked over them from the upper deck.
"So why is it taking so long?" Twilight asked. "How far does this wall of fog go?"
"Hard to say," Jack replied. "Some say that ships never make it out of here at all, but I know for a fact that it won't happen to us, we have your light showing us the way."
"But how are we supposed to get back afterward?" Twilight asked worryingly.
Jack merely chuckled at that.
"Fear not Princess," he said. "Getting into the fog is way different than getting out. As I understand it, the fog is supposed to be a protective barrier for the island itself, it may prevent anyone from approaching from the outside, but it's supposed to be a quick trip when leaving from the inside."
Hearing this Twilight couldn't help but sigh.
"Well, be that as it may, I'm not sure how long every pony can stand being in here for much longer," Twilight replied, looking back down towards the lower deck.
"Then how about we provide some entertainment until we reach our destination?" Jack said with a smile. "Besides I think Rummy and Fluttershy might need a little something to set the mood."
Hearing this, a look of surprise spread across Twilight's face.
"How did you…?" she began.
"Oh there are few things I don't notice aboard my ship Miss Sparkle," Jack smirked. "And a romantic relationship among my crewmembers isn't one of them, I've seen the way those two look at each other, the only problem is that they're both either too dim or too terrified to do anything about it. So what do you say we do something to help them out?"
At those words a gentle smile spread across twilight's face.
"What exactly did you have in mind? She asked.#
It was midnight by the time preparations were done, with Pinkie Pie's help Jack and Twilight managed to turn the deck of the ship into a party area for the crew, when all was done Jack stepped up to the upper deck and made his announcement.
"Alright my friends," he said. "I know I said that we wouldn't have any parties but given the circumstances I felt that you all deserved a little something to keep your mind off recent events, so without further ado I give you the musical talents of…Slash and Sweetie Belle!!!"
The crowd then cheered as Slash and Sweetie Belle stepped up to the upper deck.
"Alright every pony!" Sweetie Belle announced. "This may not be a number you all are used to but we hope you enjoy it all the same… Hit it Slash"
Instantly reacting to her words, Slash began to pluck the strings on his guitar and play while he and Sweetie Belle began to sing to the crew. The song they played was upbeat yet passionate, it was true that the pirates weren't quite used to this type of music but none the less they enjoyed it, picking up on the beat, they danced to their hearts content to that wonderful music they were hearing. At first the party seemed to be going well, at least until Rainbow Dash and T-Cog spotted that Big Rummy and Fluttershy were both sitting by themselves and not taking part.
"They're not joining the festivities," T-Cog whispered. "Someone has got to get those two moving."
"No sweat," Rainbow Dash said giving him a wink. "I got this."
Rainbow Dash then flew over to Fluttershy to speak to her.
"Hey Fluttershy," she said. "You're not joining the dance?"
"Well… no I don't think so," She whimpered. "I'm not really that fond of dancing."
"Oh what a shame," Rainbow Dash, "Because Rummy looks like he REALLY wants to go out on that dance floor with you."
"Oh… r… really?" Fluttershy replied, clearly Rainbow Dash knew what would get her going. "Well I suppose one dance couldn't hurt."
And with that Fluttershy walked towards Big Rummy with a gentle smile, seeing her coming towards him the big pony couldn't help but feel nervous.
"Um…do you…uh…want to dance?" Fluttershy asked quietly.
Big Rummy was slightly taken aback by the question but he plucked up his courage and answered,
"Uh…okay," he said nervously.
And with that Fluttershy lead Rummy to the dance floor and attempted to show him how to dance while Slash and Sweetie Belle continued to sing. As Fluttershy and Big Rummy danced to the music, almost every eye feel on them, not only were they enjoying themselves but it turns out that they were actually looked wonderful when they danced, and it continued like that right up to the end of the song. As that last magnificent note echoed into the night neither Fluttershy nor Big Rummy could not stand it any longer, lunging forward she pressed her lips against his and vice versa, breathing in the wonderful scent of her mane as the kiss deepened, Rummy felt more at peace than he ever did in his life and Fluttershy felt too enchanted to even think of any pony witnessing. However that didn't stop them all from cheering on the two lovebirds.
"Way to go Rummy!!!" Slash yelled happily from the upper deck, "That's my boy!!!"
"Go Fluttershy!!!" Rainbow Dash added.
It may have been embarrassing at first, but seeing the look of joy and happiness in everyone’s faces, neither Big Rummy nor Fluttershy cared for their shyness anymore, in fact knowing that they both felt the same way about each other was so wonderful they both felt like neither of them would ever be nervous again.