Mood music - [link]
"Oh sweet Celestia, I can't believe my eyes! The forest, It sparkles like fireflies!" The rhyming Zebra couldn't contain her shock as the narrow passage gave way into the huge cavern of cerulean light. A few days before the patrons of Ironhoof Ironworks, while probing for veins of rare metals, minerals and gems, had accidentally bored their way into the ancient Sapphirelands. Only the Princesses and a few dusty scrolls held any knowledge of the cave system... until Gearshift stuck the prospecting drill into the wrong side of the cave. What lay beyond was a glowing blue world, an entire ecosystem of trees, shrubs, lakes, rivers, plants and animals... all hidden only a kilometer under Ponyville.
"Aye, I canna think o' anythin' I've ev'r seen tha' comes close."
Freya growled, a strange sound to come from a unicorn. "Come on, we brought the stripey witch for a reason. Mission parameters: Categorize the flora and fauna, retrieve samples of flora and fauna, present samples to Twilight Sparkle, Ponyville Library, for study. Ingot, can we please hurry this up? We aren't getting paid by the hour down here."
"Relax a bit Freya," The brown pegasus kicked gently at a phosphorescent bush as he passed it. "Besides, its either this or replacing the crystals in the Skinfaxi's engines... and the bearings... and the propeller blades... and refilling the balloon cells with fresh gases. If you'd rather do that, the tunnel is back that way."
The unicorn grumbled to herself and nodded to a natural path along the cliffs. Zecora, still wide-eyed and entranced by her surroundings. "I'm surprise that the air down here has not turned stale, a normal cavern's atmosphere would make us sickly and pale."
"I'd 'azzard a guess at it havin' somethin' to do with th' phosphorescent plants down there." Gearshift nodded at the shinning forest below."
"I your hypothosis is true my dear Gearshift. If your company were to build a powered lift, easy access to here from Ponyville would be quite an extraordinary gift!"
Freya's scowling form halted ahead of the others, with a sigh she turned and asked "Does she EVER stop doing that? Hey, Zebra, what rhymes with orange?"
Zecora smirked. "Though nothing in the common tongue may rhyme with orange, if you do not tread carefully, I could turn you into a sporange."
"Oooh' ya gonna need a doctor lassie? For that burn she gave ya?" Freya turned and glared at the goggled colt, her eyes already red with rage... redder than they usually were.
Ingot butted in. "Calm it, save the fights for when we're up top again... and can place bets."
"Would you like me to kick you in the head again?"
"No thank you, once was enough..." Ingot recoiled in terror slightly, his helmet still had a dent from where an iron hoof made it's mark.
"Ya keep talkin' like this don't happen ev'ry five minutes." Gearshifts body language suggested that he'd just rolled his eyes, but not even Celestia could be sure.
"... whatever," The unicorn's horn lit up the immediate area and magically unrolled the map from Freya's saddlebag. "That group of glowing oaks was this way, we should start the survey there."
"Hurry it up afore I run out o' vodka... Sisters damnit."
"Agreed, this world of natural wealth will certainly not explore itself!"