The Pact

by Crowley

Chapter 1: Part 1

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The stone walls resonate with each step your hooves take, echoing on the cold floor of the pitch black, ruined castle. The air tastes musky, thick, and yet somehow carries an electrical aura. The lingering tingle of spent magic hangs around the stonework of this once-important bastion. Something happened here not too long ago. Something big.

You make a quick inventory check, swinging the saddlebag off your back and unbuckling the catches on it. The pen-knife, handle modified for easier hoof-grip. Check. A simple glass bottle with a cork, recently drained of your water supply (it was quite a trek across the Everfree Forest, and you knew the journey would work up a thirst). Check. A sturdy length of rope, primarily for tying up anything on your journeys that may be misbehaving. Check. The dark brown fedora sitting comfortably between your attentive ears. Check.

You’re ready for anything. Your senses burn with exertion as your sharp eyes scan the darkness, and your ears fine-tune to hear any and every hint of movement. You pick up nothing more than the scuttles of a scrounging rat or two, perhaps the flap of a crow’s wings coming from outside. Everything else is deadly quiet. No danger. But no reward to be found here, either.

Whatever major event took place here recently, those responsible have long since packed up and left. Not even a single trinket left behind, which is to be expected; the castle had long since been picked clean over years of visits from fellow explorers and treasure hunters like yourself-

Help me

Your blood turns to ice at those words. Did you just hear that whisper? It felt a lot more like it was coming from inside your head, but that’s crazy-

Help me, please

I can‘t live like this

Nope, you’re not crazy. Something or somepony is nearby and is whispering things to you. A female voice. Weakened. Pained. Desperate.

“Who’s there?” Odd, how your trembling voice echoes around the bare ruins. Hers had no echo whatsoever. “Show yourself!”

You reach into your saddlebag, wrapping your sweating hoof around your trusty pen-knife. If this voice is a threat, you may not be able to defend yourself with a blade so small. But if nothing else, it could at least be discouragement.

Suddenly, your hooves feel a chill. Like you’re hoof-deep in freezing cold water. You quickly discover why; a dark, dense fog dances around them, silkily weaving between each one. You lift one of your hooves out of the black-blue mist, purely out of curiosity. To your surprise, the mist itself flinches at your interaction. It’s almost like it’s alive.


I need help

That voice. What made no sense a moment ago now makes… even less. You would reach the conclusion that the haze drifting around your hooves and the voice drilling into your head were one and the same, if that idea wasn’t so ridiculous. And yet, you have to be sure.

Reaching into your saddlebag again, you replace the pen-knife you hold with the empty bottle you had handy. Grasping it carefully between your fore-hooves, you dip it into the silky mist surrounding you. Perhaps you could take a scoop home, maybe sell it to a unicorn magic enthusiast in Canterlot to study.

Instantly, the dark miasma begins to draw itself towards your bottle, flowing into it with an almost thankful sigh. Or at least that’s what you thought you heard. Shoving the cork into the bottle’s top, you’re taken slightly aback to realise that there’s no fog left on the stone floor. It managed to fit its whole self into your container with no trouble. Every last wisp. Fine by you.

Sliding the bottle into your saddlebag, you turn to leave. The last distinguishable sound from inside the ancient castle is the clack of your hooves as you leave. Then it returned to its usual, uneasy silence, as it would be for many, many years to come.


Exhausted, you fling your saddlebag onto your bed before collapsing on it yourself. The walk back from the hidden castle was easier than the walk there, especially since you knew the way back this time, and it was still night by the time you were out of the forest. Your home was disdainfully small, not much more than this bedroom, a bathroom and a kitchen, but at least in terms of price it was a steal; the cheapest dwelling in all of Ponyville.

And now that you’re finally off your hooves, you feel it’s time to unpack that bottle of… whatever that blue-black mist is. What’s the worst that could happen? Soon, you’re watching the swirls and squalls of smoke shift from within the glass bottle. It seems restless, excited to be in this new environment. Maybe just eager for you to uncork its little prison. To release it.

Slowly, cautiously, you clench the cork between your teeth and pull.

With a slight pop, the bottle opens, the sentient smoke seeping out from the top of it. Placing the rapidly emptying bottle on the nearby bedside table, you sit back and watch as the fog stretches across your room, over the floor, over your bed, over your skin.

A twinge of unease worms its way into your stomach as the mist fills your room higher and higher. Before you can leave the house in sheer panic, the smoke rushes toward you, constraining you, somehow holding you in place. You open your mouth to scream, but it’s too already late - the miasma seizes the opportunity and begins to malevolently slither down your throat, muffling your screams, choking your efforts to breathe.

The surrounding, smothering smoke snuffs out the last flicker of light as you lose consciousness throughout your struggling and shouting. Whatever monster you had taken home with you, it now has your life as its plaything.

Pray that it wants to play nice.

Next Chapter: Part 2 Estimated time remaining: 19 Minutes
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