Continued from the previous episode, Flying Up The Slippery Slope. Though soot and storm clouds shroud its beauty like cobwebs, what was once the Palace of Unending Bliss retains a sense of its former grandeur. As our trio approaches its walls, we can make out the great stone ramps up which ponies from all corners of the land once trotted to petition the Emperors. Now gargoyles (all of them four-legged) crowd the ramps, gesturing in frozen fits of rudeness. He shivers, and his wings, already drooping, shed feathers and dissipate. The Rainbow Princess strokes his back encouragingly.
- Rainbow Princess: When did all of this start, Sunbow?Sunbow: The Empress passed away almost a year ago. When her adopted heir didn't show up to claim the crown, things started...changing. Dishes became harder to wash, fresh hay lost its scent before its time; just little things like that at first. Things weren't bad, really, they just weren't as good as they used to be. Then five months ago, the world suddenly did start becoming bad. And it got worse faster and faster...Belle: Whoah! (Sunbow starts) Uh, I mean, slow down. All this...(a sweep of the arm takes in the boiling sky, the darkened palace, the salted ground and the struggling scrub)...happened in five months?Sunbow: (nods) One of the things that turned mean was time itself. Birthday parties that once would have lasted for hours now seem to pass instantly, but when your hoof falls asleep, well, you jump around and tingle and act grouchy for what feels like years. And the enemy occupation has been much worse than a sleeping hoof.Rainbow Princess: Who exactly - ?An offscreen voice: Sunbow!
- Sunbow: Sparkstrike!
- Sunbow: Everybody, this is my big brother, Sparkstrike! Brother, this is the Rainbow Princess and...uh...Rainbow Princess: (puts a hand on Belle's shoulder) Her BFF.Sparkstrike: Some sort of high-ranking retainer, I suppose.
- Sparkstrike: (as an aside to Sunbow) She's of the succession, alright. Not as, eh, coordinated as the Empress was, but that'll have to come in time. (to the princess) My brother didn't fetch you a moment too soon, your highness. This may be the last opportunity we'll have to win back the Palace. I'm the last pony of the Household Cavalry remaining; the enemy transformed or kidnapped all of my comrades while Sunbow was searching for you. (Sunbow gasps) Easy, brother. All's not lost. The enemy has dispersed its forces to the corners of the realm, leaving their headquarters lightly defended. As long as you have one pony of the Household Cavalry guiding you, (he bows a bit) you should be able to make your way through the secret passages and back ways of the Palace to the Throne Room. Once you've evicted the Usurper, reclamation can begin in earnest. You - a question?Belle: (lowers her hand) Why do you capitalize so many words?