" but words will never hurt me."
"We should be getting close girls." Twilight noted as the group rounded a tree. Ditzy noticed that they'd been on a mild uphill path heading towards well somewhere anyway. She was getting tired and a bit worn, but there was a building anxiety, as if they were getting close to the end.
"There!" Bon-Bon cried as a break in the growing fog gave the fillies their first sight of the ancient walls of the old sanctuary. Ditzy's eyes were wide as she looked over the crumbling walls of the formerly stately shrine.
"Come on!" Twilight called, and dashed ahead towards a bridge, and promptly found out the hard way it has collapsed. She yelped and flailed her hooves before Carrot Top grabbed her tail and pulled her back onto the solid ground.
"What's with you and falling off cliffs today?" the mare teased, earning a sidelong glance from the lavender unicorn.
"Well, now what?" Twilight asked simply. Ditzy came up next to her and flared her wings. Twilight looked sheepish as she covered her face with a hoof.
"Raindrops, do you want to come with " Ditzy started, glancing back at her friend, who only offered a snore in return. Ditzy grumbled, "Never mind," and shook her head. She moved to the edge of the cliff and looked down into the fog filled valley the bridge had fallen into. With a quick dive she entered the gap and found the ends of the rope bridge and grasped them with her teeth.
It took a bit more effort to get the ropes up the other side of the gap, it was heavier then it looked! Ditzy was panting when she landed on the far side, and looked back to check on her friends. She was only mildly surprised that the fog so thick she couldn't even see them across the gap.
"I better get this tied off quick." She told herself, and started tying off the rope bridge, finding it awkward to hold up the bridge with one hoof while she tied off the rope with her mouth. She finally got the first one secured and backed up a step, puffing for breath as she wiped a hoof across her brow. She was just leaning in to secure the second line when .
The grey pegasus' blood ran cold at the sound, freezing her in place.
"Diiitzy Hooooooves "
"Who's t-there!" She demanded. The voice sent fear trickling over herand she tried to find where it was coming from amidst the thickening fog.
"Liiittle Deeerrrppyyy "
The teasing voice came again, but it seemed to come from everywhere. Ditzy whimpered softly to herself, her legs trembling as she craned her head this way and that. She couldn't see anyone, but she saw shadows? Were they real? Were they her imagination? Is she psyching herself out? She tried to back up, but found her flank bumped into the post of the still unconnected bridge.
"Pooor Deeeeeeeerpyyyy "
"Ditzy Hooooooves "
"Dummy Deerrrrpy "
"Ditzy Hoooves, she didn't deserve a unicorn like him "
Ditzy shook her head, trying to clear the voices as they multiplied. They're psyching her out, it has to be it. But then she saw bodies flitting through the fog, her eyes widening as she recognized a filly, and then another. Colors and manes she knew from childhood, from the hospital, from her life in Baltimare All closing in on her with hollow hungry eyes filled with hate .
"He was too GOOD for a dummy like you!!"
"Stupid little Derpy, just as dumb as she ever was."
"I heard she couldn't even give him a foal!!"
Ditzy clenched her eyes shut, whimpering audibly now. No, they couldn't talk about her foal, not poor little Dinky! She tossed her hooves up over her head as she tried to flatten herself to the ground, but the voices hounded her.
"He's better now that he left you "
"Better look out, Derpy's flying again!"
"Bet she dropped her foal when she tried to fly!!"
Ditzy recoiled like she'd been struck, her body shuddering at the last comment as it was followed by cruel laughter. Low blow but they didn't care. She might as well be back on the school playground again, but there was no-pony around to save her this time
"Ditzy?? Are you alright?!?" came the call from over the half connected bridge, but it sounded like it came from a million miles away. Ditzy didn't answer, she couldn't answer, and their voices faded even further.
"No teachers can save you this time Derpy."
"No pony to help you now Ditzy Hooves "
"Derpy " "Hooves "
The pony's body trembled. She felt so isolated, she could feel their bodies around her, even though weren't touching her. Just the force of their words crashing down on her, every syllable hammering her as solid as a physical force.
"Derpy Hooves "
The grey pegasus blinked back tears her body trembling as she could barely hold back. She felt like she was going to burst, her entire body trembling.
"Mnmmmph." She answered them.
"What're you gonna do Derpy? You gonna try and fight us all?"
"Awwww.. little Derpy Hooves is gonna cry I bet she flies all the way home and hides under the bed "
"Yeah, stupid little Derpy Hooves, too stupid to even give birth properly ."
No, no more she was going to going to
"Derpy Hooves Derpy Hooves Derpy Hooves "
The little grey mare trembled again, before she suddenly sat up, arching her head to the sky, her mouth opening widely. It was so sudden that she didn't immediately realize it was HER laughter filling the clearing, her entire body shaking with the force of it. It didn't matter that it had a slightly hysterical edge to it, it was pure laughter, cleansing in it's own way.
"N-No St-stop it, you're killing me." She managed to snort, "Derpy Hooves *snerk* Oh that's t-too funny " She fell to her side, rolling on the grass as she giggled and chortled. She brought her legs up to her chest as she felt her sides starting to cramp from the sheer force of the laughter.
It was long minutes later before Ditzy calmed enough to finally to stand up, her head craning around as she realized she was completely alone again. Did the shadows leave during her laughing fit? She shrugged, her body unsteady but strong enough to secure the rest of the bridge, and she was still snickering as she walked partway across the bridge and waved the rest of the group across.
"Are you alright?" Twilight asked worriedly, and Ditzy shook her head a little.
"Not entirely." She admitted, "But I'll live."
"What happened?" Carrot Top asked curiously, "We tried to get Raindrops to fly through to help but "
"Something in the fog kept turning me around." Raindrops admitted sheepishly.
"I'm not sure, illusions maybe? They started tormenting me, like they did when I was in school, and the talk behind my back when I was married." She chortled softly. "They managed to mix-up two of the names they used to well it just struck me as funny. I guess the laughter cleared them off, 'cause when I stopped laughing they were gone."
"Can I ask what they called you?" Twilight asked softly.
"Okay, I'll bite. Where did THAT name come from?" Carrot Top asked as she crossed the bridge.
"Derpy, from my eyes. I heard that a lot as a little foal. And Hooves Ditzy Hooves was my name while I was married. I just well Derpy Hooves just tickled me." She snickered, "Don't ask why, I don't know either." Carrot looked to Twilight, who just offered a shrug.
"Well girls, we made it." Twilight turned to face the building before them. Ditzy was able to suppress her snickers enough to look in wonder at the long abandoned shrine. It had definitely seen better days, pristine marble walls and columns crumbling and covered in lush green fines and ivy.
Carefully the group moved into the airy main chamber lined with windows where the marble hadn't crumbled away. In the center they were faced with a mechanism or statue of some sort with a set of 5 crystal spheres, each with a different symbol on it. They were each placed at the end of an arm that was held it upwards in the air, surrounding a central sphere made of white marble.
"Careful girls, we need to get them down " Twilight instructed, and started directing them to collect the crystals and set them on the ground. Ditzy helped Raindrops lift the stones and carry a few of the stones while Twilight and Lyra hovered down others with their magic.
"So now what?" Lyra asked carefully as Ditzy and Raindrops got the last crystal on the ground, arranged in a loose circle.
"I'm not sure. The book said: 'when the five are present, a spark will cause the sixth element to be revealed'." Twilight recited.
"And that means?" Carrot Top asked.
I'm not sure, but I have some ideas." Twilight answered, and hunkered down before the crystals as her horn glowed.
"We should leave her be." Lyra told everyone, ushering Ditzy and the rest out of the hall, leaving the lavender unicorn alone to concentrate.