Chapter 12: Giggles and Gifts
The group spent what felt like an hour chasing down Jack O' Lantern however it was proving to be almost impossible to catch him, with the miniaturized Applejack sitting atop Twilight's head, Fluttershy carrying the small skunk body of Gem La Stone on her back and Big Rummy carrying Marina's frozen body on his, they all began to grow tired of the chase. Every time they managed to close in on him he just disappeared and magically appeared right behind them, every time they think they've cornered him he just disappeared in a puff of smoke, but the worst of all was when Big Rummy and Fluttershy thought they had him in a hoof lock, only him to literally jump inside his hat and blast them with a gush of cold water from it.
"I don't… I don't know how much more I can take of this," Twilight said as she tried to catch her breath. "Every time we get close he just pops up somewhere else."
"And this Poison Joke ain't making things any better!" Applejack squeaked from atop of Twilight's head.
This was indeed true, what made the chase even more difficult than it needed to be was the fact that each of the Poison Joke's effects slowed everyone down, Jack Silver kept tripping up over his beard every time he got close, neither Twilight nor Gem were able to use their magic due to their current situations, Shimmer couldn’t run fast enough due to having smaller legs and Rainbow Dash slamming into T-cog who was unable to fly himself due to the extra weight of his wooden body.
“This… is getting… ridiculous,” Dripfang gasping for air.
"We have to keep trying," Gem said sternly, trying her best no to fall off Fluttershy’s back. "We can’t let zis little fool make a mockery of us."
“That’s easy for you to say,” Dripfang replied. “You should see what he’s doing to T-Cog.”
Looking over towards T-Cog’s direction, both Fluttershy and Gem saw what Dripfang was talking about. Now starting to get bored with the chase, Jack O’ Lantern took it upon himself to pull a large flute out of his surprising small pocket and started playing the song “Shake your groove thing.” Thus forcing T-Cog to dance as though he were being controlled by a puppeteer, which was sort of ironic since that’s now what he looked like.
“Some pony help me!” he screamed, as he twisted his body into unnatural positions. “Please make it stop!”
It was only until Slash managed to sneak up on Jack O’ Lantern and snap the flute in two that T-Cog was finally able to stop dancing, it was a good thing too because Pinkie Pie and Big Rummy looked as though they were about to join him. Unfortunately Slash wasn’t able to make a grab for the player since he jumped into his hat and disappeared before he could. Finally they all had Jack O' Lantern surrounded, with ponies on all sides it looked like the only way he could escape was through magic but he didn't even budge, instead he just giggled to himself.
"There's nowhere to run now you little punk," Jack growled gasping for air. "You… are going to give us that cure right now... or… we are just gonna have to get nasty."
"Ooh, nasty huh?" Jack O' Lantern smirked. "Well I have just one thing to say to that old timer… HIT IT!!!"
Suddenly the entire field echoed with music and spotlights magically shone from an unseen area illuminating on Jack O' Lantern who was now suddenly dressed in a mariachi outfit, shaking maracas and dancing to the tune.
"What in tarnation is that crazy fool doing!?!" Applejack squeaked from atop Twilight's head.
"I think the better question is where the heck is that music coming from?" Slash added.
But despite every ponys' questions, Jack o' Lantern began to sing.
"They call me Cuban Pete,
I'm the king of the rumba beat,
When I play the maracas I go chick-chicky-boom, chick-chicky boom,
Yes sir I'm Cuban Pete,
I'm the craze of my native street,
When I start to dance, everything goes chick-chicky-boom, chick-chicky boom,
The senoritas they sing and they swing with terampero,
It's very nice, so full of spice,
And when they dance in they bring a happy ring that era keros,
Singing a song, all the day long,
So if you like the beat, take a lesson from Cuban Pete
And I'll teach you to chick-chicky-boom, chick-chicky-boom,"
Suddenly Jack o' Lantern clicked his fingers and before everyone's eyes Pinkie Pie magically appeared next to him, completely cured of her swollen tongue and wearing what looked like a frilly scarlet dress, but what shocked every pony was the fact that she was singing and dancing along with him.
"He's really a modest guy, although he's the hottest guy
In Hayvana! In Hayvana!"
Needless to say every pony was completely baffled at what they were seeing, however somehow they also felt the urge to join in, they even felt like they were enjoying themselves as Jack O' Lantern continued to sing.
Si, senorita I know that you would like to chicky-boom-chick
It's very nice, so full of spice,
I'll place my hand on your hip, and if you will just give me your hoof
Then we shall try - just you and I, I-yi-yi!
So if you like the beat, take a lesson from Cuban Pete
And I'll teach you to chick-chicky-boom, chick-chicky-boom, chick-chicky-boom!!!
Before any pony knew it they were all dancing along with Jack O' Lantern in a roar of laughter and excitement, despite their current ludicrous situation they found themselves literally doing the conga with him. Suddenly Twilight managed to snap back into reality and realised what was going on.
"STOP!!!" she screamed.
Suddenly the music stopped and every pony snapped back into reality, even Jack O' Lantern stopped himself at her very shriek and was suddenly back in his original garments of clothing.
"What in the name of Celestia are we doing!?!" Twilight continued. "We're supposed to be getting the cure off this guy!"
"Geez who invited the killjoy?" Jack O' Lantern smirked, as a levitated above her head. "I just figured you guys deserved a little break after chasing me for so long, after all you had fun didn't ya?"
While they did feel a little awkward every pony had to admit that they did briefly enjoy themselves especially with the recent dance number, seeing the slight look of defeat and agreement in their faces Jack O' Lantern's smile spread even wider.
"That's all I needed to know," he said snapping his fingers.
With a small click of his gloved hand and in a puff of magical green smoke, the entire field of Poison Joke disappeared and every pony found themselves standing in the middle of a stone floor, completely normal and cured of their joke effects.
"Hey what gives?" Slash asked as he tested his restored fire breath.
"Yeah I thought we had to catch you to get the cure," Marina said now free from her frozen prison and soaking Big Rummy's back.
“Well I changed my mind didn’t I?” Jack O’ Lantern laughed, much to everyone’s annoyance. “Anyway what’s the fun in…”
Suddenly he was interrupted by a ringing from his pocket.
“Uh… excuse, me” he said as pulled a device that only Twilight recognised as a cell phone from his pocket. “Hello? Oh hi boss… no I’m not slacking off again I just… oh come on it wasn’t that bad… alright I’ll finish up here and meet you there… hey you leave my mother out of this! Ok, ok, stop getting your tail in a twist!”
He then hung up the phone leaving every pony confused, needless to say he enjoyed seeing the looks on their faces.
“Sorry kiddies but I gotta go, boss man found my stash of jokes in his fridge again.” he laughed as he put the phone away and began to float above everyone’s heads, suddenly he spoke again.
"Those who are always serious shall always live in strife, so sometimes in order to win the game you must look on the funny side of life!"
And with those final words and with a final, echoed laugh Jack O' Lantern disappeared in a puff of green smoke, leaving a small hole in the cavern wall and the whole group standing in a daze.
"Does any pony want to tell me what just happened?" Rainbow Dash asked confusingly.
“I don’t know, and frankly I don’t want to.” T-Cog said with a shudder. “I just want to get the Element, get out and go back to the comfort of my hammock.”
Jack however had a more positive answer.
"I believe this was another test," he explained. "That creature wouldn't cure us until we started enjoying ourselves, the Poison Joke must have been an obstacle to get in the way of our true goal… looking on the funny side no matter how tough things get… the test of Laughter."
"Another Element of Harmony," Twilight added.
"Exactly," Jack said with a smile. "And now we are only half way to the seventh, come on my friends we're half-way there!"
Deciding to leave all the confusing memories where they were, everyone made their way towards the hole in the wall, only Pinkie Pie remained behind where she stood in a daze.
"Um Pinkie?" Rarity asked looking back at her. "Are you okay?"
"I think…" Pinkie Pie said suddenly going all giddy. "…I'm in love."
At those words she swooned and collapsed to the floor with a goofy large smile on her face, after many failed attempts to snap Pinkie Pie back into reality eventually every pony had to slump her onto Big Rummy's back so her could carry her out of the cavern, climbing into the hole, the group came across another tunnel that was dimly lit with black, metal torches. With every step they took everyone kept up their guard in case anything else popped out of nowhere to might test them.#
After walking what seemed like a few yards down the tunnel the group came to a dead end, however they weren't the only ones that were there, sitting at the base of the wall was a another pony. Though they couldn't see any of her features beneath the large dirty cloak she wore, the pony appeared to be a Zebra and a shy one at that since she cringed at the very sight of the group in front of her.
"Fear not my dear," Jack said seeing her fear. "We do not wish to harm you."
Seeing the serious tone in Jack's voice the Zebra felt more relaxed and spoke.
"You are most honest I see," she said.
"Such a fine quality in a pony."
"Are you ze one who will test us next?" Gem asked.
"Indeed I am," the Zebra answered.
"And fear not, I do not desire to sham."
Knowing that this would feel exactly like their previous tests Jack spared no hesitation to ask the first question.
"What is our test my dear?" he asked.
At those words the zebra smiled.
"Such determination resides within your soul," she answered.
"But that is not enough to accomplish your goal,
Listen to the keeper of the gate,
And soon you shall know the way of your fate,
You may have past half of the tests,
But now you have mine to best,
In order to pass me then one of you must part,
With an object that resides closest to your heart."
Those words scared everyone a little bit, knowing that there were only three Elements of Harmony to go through left they understood that this one had to be Generosity. At first no pony knew what to do, suddenly Slash spoke up.
"I take it you want us to give you something?" he asked.
The Zebra then nodded and Slash instantly knew what he must do, opening his pack he took out his guitar and handed it to the Zebra.
"Slash what are you doing?" Big Rummy asked.
"Aye, you love that thing," T-Cog added.
"True," Slash said with a shrug of his shoulders. "But if it means moving another step closer to what we came for then I have no choice but to give it up."
"An interesting occurrence seems to bloom," the Zebra said stroking the guitar.
"This instrument means a lot to you I assume?"
"Indeed it does," Slash sighed. "I made that guitar with my own two claws, it's been my favourite instrument since I was a hatchling.
Seeing the look of honesty in Slash's face, the Zebra smiled in approval.
"Then it is agreed," she said.
"You may pass because of this deed."
Suddenly the wall behind the Zebra began to dissolve and the Zebra spoke her final words.
"When one searches for a treasure because of greed, then they are doomed to fail for Generosity is the better deed."
And with that the Zebra and Slash's guitar dispersed and disappeared into dust and was gone, leaving a great big hole in the wall where she sat.
"So long old friend," Slash said. "I'll never forget your sweet music."
"I'm so sorry Slash," Jack said placing a hoof on his shoulder.
"It's okay Captain," Slash said shrugging his shoulders and choking back a tear from his eye. "It was only wood and strings, shall we move on?"
Slash then quickly made his way through the hole in the wall, leaving every pony slightly feeling sorry for the poor dragon.
As the group travelled down the dark tunnel towards their next test, Twilight couldn't help but feel a little concerned for Slash, only a few moments ago he had to give up his most cherished possession for the sake of the mission and he's trying to put on a brave face about it.
"Are you okay Slash?" she said as she walked beside him. "I know how much that guitar meant to you."
"Hey don't worry about it," Slash said giving a slight shrug. "I can always make another one, besides the wood was stating to rot anyway."
"But Apple Bloom fixed it up for you," Applejack said. "She knew how much you loved that thing."
"That's just it though, it was just an object," Slash said with a slight smile. "I know the girl did her best with it, heck she even got her Cutie Mark in doing so but it's worth nothing if my friends couldn't get where they were going. I may be a little psychotic but I'm not stupid enough to hang onto an object when I have real friends to look out for."
"Well said Slash," Jack said, listening in.
"Here, here," Shimmer added with a smile.
The group then continued down the tunnel after what seemed like another hour, finally they came across another dead end only this time there was actually a door in the middle of it, a large stone door in which took almost every pony to push open. Finally everyone had arrived at their next destination, at first no pony could see a thing due to it being pitch black but with one small puff of fiery breath Slash managed to ignite a nearby torch which due to a chain reaction began to light every other torch on the walls, illuminating the entire chamber in a calm blue light. What every pony saw at that moment made them stare in awe, they were standing in what looked like a cavern made entirely out of marble, the walls completely lined with tall white statues of not only ponies but other creatures as well.
"By Celestia," Jack gasped. "I never thought I'd see it with me own eyes… this the Chamber of Wonders, this is where every creature who ever made their mark in history is remembered. Any who have done something wonderful in their life that was worth remembering to the world has their image preserved here, but in all my years of reading about it in books have I ever would have thought it actually existed."
"There's Starswirl the Bearded!" Twilight announced, pointing to one of the statues.
"And King Charlatan!" T-Cog added pointing to another. "The Emperor Penguin who turned a frozen wasteland into a paradise for his subjects in the Southern Penguin Kingdom, I'd love to know how he did that."
"Hey ain’t that the mare who delivers the mail back home?" Applejack asked pointing towards two more statues. "And the one next to her, his name is… Time Turner wasn’t it?"
“I thought it was Clockwork,” Rainbow Dash added.
“I heard he’s some kind of Doctor,” Rarity chirped in. “Maybe he and that mare saved a pony’s life once, someone of Royalty no doubt.”
“Maybe,” Rainbow Dash said, scratching her hair in confusion. “Although you’d think we would have known if Derpy Hooves did something big like that.”
Needless to say, Pinkie Pie also had her own theory and decided to voice it.
“Ooh, ooh, I know why they’re here,” she said excitedly. “That stallion’s from an alternate world and not only that but he comes from another planet in that world and he and Derpy travel in his magic blue box and travel all across time and space and the reason why they in the Chamber is because they travelled back in time, saved the day, and made every pony happy and they all had a big party and then they went back to their blue box and travelled back forward in time and arrived back in Ponyville before anyone knew they were gone.”
She spoke that one sentence so fast it was a wonder that she wasn’t gasping for breath, and needless to say it left every pony baffled.
“Uh… why do you think that Pinkie?” Slash asked nervously, a little scared from Pinkie Pies mind boggling theory.
“Just a hunch,” Pinkie Pie answered with a grin.
That still didn’t make anyone feel any less baffled.
“Is there some sort of medicine she should be on?” T-Cog whispered to Twilight.
Twilight simply shrugged and the rest of the Mane Six just assumed it was Pinkie Pie being her usual self. Suddenly Pinkie wasn’t what was making everyone uneasy anymore as the chamber all at once echoed with an evil laughter.
"Did… did that statue just laugh?" Fluttershy whimpered from behind Big Rummy.
"Don't be ridiculous Fluttershy," Rainbow Dash said. "Statues don't laugh,"
"I don't know Rainbow, we've seen a lot of weird things these past couple of months," Applejack pointed out.
As laughter contuse to echo throughout the chamber, every pony suddenly noticed something else. In the centre of the floor, although being pushed upward by a geyser came a burst of spooky grey mist erupting from a crack in the floor, the vapour then twisted and morphed like Marina did when she came out of the water and suddenly another figure stood before the group. It looked like another version of Marina only instead of water she was made entirely out of vapour, had no visible fangs and hey eyes shone a vivid yellow. This terrifying creature paralysed the Mane Six and Marina in fear, the pirates however where less impressed, especially Jack.
"Vapora," he growled in anger. "What in the name of the high seas are you doing here?"
"Wait you KNOW this thing!" Rainbow Dash asked.
"We have had dealings in the past," Jack explained. "Every pony, allow me to introduce you to Vapora, the Siren of the Sea."
"A title I am quite proud of Jackie," Vapora smirked in a cold whispery voice. "I see you still haven't gotten over the last time we met."
"You kidnapped and impersonated my wife and tried to drown me on my wedding day!" Jack snapped. "I was lucky T-Cog here was smart enough to find the REAL Magic Star before I did anything stupid!"
"Oh don't be so dramatic Jack," Vapora smirked. "Magic Star wasn’t exactly loosing much."
But those words only angered Jack even further, having a go at his crew was one thing but there was no way she was going to get away from mocking his beloved wife.
"What are you doing here Vapora?" he growled.
"My job," Vapora answered coldly. "As you may have noticed the Siren of the Sea is only ONE of my titles, another is one of the testers of any who wishes to claim the seventh Element of Harmony, but only one member of your group can do it so who's it gonna be?"
Needless to say no one was willing to trust anything Vapora said, especially the pirates, but if she was telling the truth then they needed to decide who would be facing the challenge, gathering in a huddle, every pony talked amongst themselves.
"So what do you think?" Twilight asked. "You think she's telling the truth?"
"Doubt it," Jack said sternly. "Knowing Vapora it's probably a trap."
"But if she IS telling the truth then someone has to do the challenge." Twilight pointed out.
"Well I doubt any of us are just going to volunteer," T-Cog said with a serious look. "We pirates know Vapora all too well."
"Yeah she doesn't play fair," Big Rummy added.
“She’s manipulative,” Slash added.
“And she has terrible taste.” Gem chirped in.
"Be that as it may we have no choice," Twilight said sincerely. "One of us has to do the challenge, if not then we're finished."
At those words every pony fell silent, suddenly Dripfang spoke up.
"I'll do it," he said.
"No," Jack said. "I'll do it, I'm not letting one of my crewmembers risk their…"
"Captain I'm afraid that's an order I'm going to have to refuse." Dripfang said sternly. "I'm your volunteer Vapora!"
Hearing this Vapora’s smile spread even wider.
"Then so be it," she said with an evil smile.
Suddenly upon the slam of it, a veil of fog erupted from Vapora’s hoof and filled the chamber, once it finally cleared Dripfang was met with a horrifying sight, every single one of his comrades had been turned to stone. As the he stared in terror at the newest statues filling the chamber it was needless to say that his anger was beginning to boil over
"What have you done to my friends!?!" he snapped in anger.
"I have had too much experience with interfering ponies to know when to take precautions," Vapora explained. "Rest assured they shall be restored when the task is complete…GOOD LUCK!!!"
All of a sudden a large trapdoor opened beneath Dripfang's feat and he dropped into the dark abyss within it, disappearing into the black.