Yami, the lord of all evil, had been defeated. The terrible machination of the Moon Tribe was destroyed, along with it's user. Two friends, each centuries old, had stood together to confront the dark lord and restore peace to Nippon. Amaterasu, the sun goddess Shiranui reincarnate, and Waka, Tao-master and self-proclaimed gods' gift to man.
Now, the two beings sat within the strange flying-machine found from within the depths of the ark of Yamato, the birthplace of demons. The first, a man with long, golden hair, sat at the controls, the various colors of the devices clashing terribly against his pink kimono. Waka, as always, was wearing his tengu-geta, his sandals with one long tooth sticking out of the middle of the foot, like a stilt. Although his headgear had been destroyed during the battle with Yami, he always kept a back-up, just in case of a fashion emergency.
The second passenger was snoozing on the floor of the ship, content with a nap after saving the entire world. Amaterasu, the divine mother and ruler of the Celestial Plain, was nothing-more than a stark-white wolf to most. Only those that believed in the gods could see her divine form. Her pure white fur was, in fact, covered in crimson markings, the symbol of the Celestial gods. On her back sat her divine instument, the solar flare. It's surface glowed with magnificent colors of her symbol, the sun. The goddess was kind, wise, strong, and loyal towards the innocent... but she had a bad habit of going to sleep whenever people started talking for too long, and boy did Waka talk too much sometimes. Issun's banter was charming, this was just annoying.
Waka had just finished pointing-out more of the scenery they were flying over. He finally stopped pressing the buttons in front of him, turning to face Amaterasu directly. "Well, ma chérie, while I am glad that you defeated the bad lord, we have a different problem." The wolf looked up, turning her head to the side to symbolize her confusion.
The ship started to dip in it's flight path. "As it turns out, I don't know how to fly this machine. I guess being stranded for centuries will do that. I thought it was like riding a bike, not so, it seems. Let's just resolve to not hit something alive." He went back to wailing on the buttons as he had been before.
"Aroo." Stated the goddess simply before laying-down again. It didn't really matter if they crashed now, they were already over land and she doubted that either of them would be seriously injured, they had divine favor, after all.
"As they say, just go for it!" Shouted Waka as they rapidly sped toward a mountain, his usual defense of non-sensical quotes doing their job.
Celestia was enjoying some down-time between court hearings, thankful for the quiet. She saw a speck on the horizon, drawing closer and closer. It was likely just a pegasus straying from town but she felt... odd about the speck. She teleported to the roof to get a better view, but still couldn't make-out any details. She decided to take-flight and get closer to the speck.
As she drew closer, she saw the speck grow and grow in size, until it was the size of at least a half-dozen carriages. It was some sort of odd saucer that was... flying? It continued to speed forward, heading right towards a mountain. The odd machine adjusted it's direction slightly but not nearly enough, crashing into the cliff face.
As it ricocheted off the rock, the glass-dome on top of the ship was broken open, revealing a wolf and what looked like a less-hairy diamond-dog sitting inside. Now that the window was broken, they slowly began climbing out of the ship, still sailing through the sky wildly. The tall one, somehow maintaining his balance despite his incredibly difficult choice of footwear, pulled the wolf out of the ship. "Hurry, mon amie, or else we'll be in the hot-seat for wherever this lands." He set the wolf down on the side of the ship, neither in much hurry, not having a particular destination that they needed to be. "Well, mon amie? There is only one place to go, correct?"
With a nod from the wolf, they both stepped-off the edge of the ship and began soaring toward the ground. Waka saw a town built in the side of the mountain that they had crashed-into. It would be a reasonable starting-point, maybe there were still celestials? It was doubtful, as the architecture was all wrong. Regardless, they wouldn't be getting anywhere if that large horse chasing them didn't stop.
He had noticed the creature as soon as he had left the ship. She stuck out like a sore thumb with that huge mane blowing behind her. "Row?" Amaterasu made a questioning noise toward Waka.
They landed with a soft thud, despite the length of the fall. "Yes indeed, mon amie, I noticed it too. It definetly isn't a Celestial or a god, it has no markings. Maybe some other creatures have colonized the Plain. Do you think it is friendly?"
"Agreed, no sense in risking these things, wouldn't want to anger any new Celestials when we just got here, eh?" They ran deeper into the forest they had landed in, the grass they ran-on turning greener as they passed. "It's a rather obvious trail, but maybe it will get our point-across, oui?"
Not awaiting an answer, they both continued at a tremendous pace, Waka's favorite footwear loudly clinking whenever he stepped on a root.
Celestia hadn't expected the strange beings to walk off the side of the ship at all. She had tried to grab them in a magic field, but they were falling too fast, making precise-targeting impossible. She saw them land in the forest, becoming shocked when she saw their descent stop almost completely before hitting the ground. They took-off into the tree-cover shortly after landing, disappearing from view.
I must rally the guard and close-off the forest before they get out. One of them was similar to a timber wolf, but normal skin instead of bark. The other... She couldn't help but freeze a moment when she thought of the tall one's clothing. I should just rally the guard, they'll know when they see them.
A few miles away, Prince Blueblood was relaxing in his second home. A quaint five-story affair complete with garden. He had been enjoying some tea when a large glass dome burst-through his front wall, crushing the front half of his house, leaving the rest to wobble uneasily. "What's happening?!" He yelled as more bits of scrap bombarded his mansion.
Yet a few more miles away was Prince Blueblood's main home, a grand thirty-room castle just for him. A shimmer appeared in the distance, a foriegn object approaching at fast speeds.
Thirty seconds later, a decent portion of the castle laid in ruins from the wreackage of a large metal craft that had come sailing out of nowhere.
"Are you certain, sister?" Luna was having a hard time believing her sister's story about the wolf and the other strange creature. They had dispatched the guard to cover the perimeter of the forest shortly after Celestia returned, whatever was in there would certainly have a tough time getting out.
"You know that I would never kid about something this serious, Lulu." Celestia had earned her fair-share of nick-names from her pranking but she would never go this far.
Waka and Ammy observed one of the guards patrolling the edge of the forest before them. They had certainly saved some traveling from their speed, but the guards must have had barracks spread around the forest at regular intervals considering how fast they responded.
"What do you think, ma chérie? We can't just start knocking-around guardsmen and expect them to talk."
"Rrrr... bow." Communicated Amaterasu.
"What more to expect of the Celestial mother, oui?"
They descended from their perch in the tree-cover, approaching the guard from behind.
There hadn't been any reports on the two intruders since their first sighting by the princess. Some of the guards were getting antsy, beginning to think that the intruders were a myth and that the princess had to be mistaken, not that they would ever make their thoughts public, the commading-officer had removed any chance of that.
Shining Armor had been chosen specifically for this mission, his shield-magic chosen for trapping the intruders. He hadn't detected any abnormalities since erecting his barrier, showing that nothing had interfered with the spell. Even his determination had waned since the start of the mission but he was doing his best to silence any insubordination from his men.
"P.F.C. Winter-Gleam, any news?" He didn't like this private, he had been abusing his time in the military for years, getting-off with almost no combat due to all his time spent doing pointless tasks as "punishment".
"Nothing to report from the West end sir."
"Not good, actually."
Shining Armor whipped-around to face the private again. "What do you mean by that, private?"
"I mean nobody has reported from the West-end of the forest, sir."
"How long has it been since they reported in?"
"About four hours, sir."
"When did you notice they stopped reporting?"
"About three hours, sir."
"Why in Equestria would you not just say that, then?"
"Am I in trouble, sir?" He asked innocently.
"No. You're going to the border of the Gryphon kingdom, guard-duty."
He smiled darkly at the private's face as he turned toward his tent, ready to start rallying a group to investigate.
The unicorn battalion had approached the west camp under the veil of darkness, avoiding teleportation for the risk of giving-away their position.
The camp was dark, save for a small light near the middle. The army-mages had creeped along the tents, not hearing a peep. No camp should be this quiet, especially this one, not having a commanding officer yet. He had been delayed from reporting-in after finding most of his property destroyed by debris from a mysterious crash.
They had checked every tent they passed in hopes of finding a soldier, their results fruitless. The only noise produced was from their own hooves as they slowly approached the center of the camp. There was a strong smell in the air, regardless of how hard he tried, Shining Armor couldn't place the aroma.
"It smells like a lake-full of booze here." Muttered one of the unicorn guard, more experienced with alchohol than the recently cut-off husband of princess Cadance.
"Row row row... woof!" They heard what sounded like a timber wolf from the center of the camp. Had scavengers already claimed the camp?
"Ha ha ha ha! Oh my, Amaterasu, I never expected you to know one like that! Who told you it?"
"Row." Answered the first voice.
"Mr. Orange used to visit your shrine when he got drunk, eh? I guess that temperance thing was hog-wash after-all."
The soldiers visibly relaxed after hearing a pony's voice from the center of the camp, pleased that they didn't have to fight a pack of timber wolves. They slowly rounded the corner, jumping-back when they caught sight of the spectacle.
A white wolf and a pink figure sat-atop a mound of shields, helmets, and breastplates. They had started a fire with the handles of swords and spears, the pink one nudging the fire with the long stick that seemed to erupt right out of his shoe. They were chatting amiably, clearly unphased by the mountain of brass beneath them.
The soldiers were petrified of the figures. They had apparently robbed an entire military camp by themselves, they were surely monsters. Shining Armor knew that he could take initiative with an attack from behind, it was the thought that some of those soldiers probably tried that already which kept him still.
He cleared his throat, eliciting a small jump from the fire-watchers. They turned on the hill of armaments, remaining seated, although now facing away from the fire. "I am guard-captain Shining Armor! What are you doing here? What happened to the ponies here and why do you find fit to use their equipment as chairs?"
"I challenged them to a drinking contest, we bet weapons and armor instead of coin." Said the pink one from his metallic throne, staring at the various unicorns with apparent interest. "I even let them have a handicap but it was no-use, they just don't have the talent, it seems. You'll find them in the medical-tent on the other-side of the camp." He hopped from the breastplates he had been leaning on, landing softly on the tips of his shoes before rising to his full height. "I am correct in assuming that you are connected to the ruler of this land, oui?"
Although he didn't get that last bit, Shining got the gist of the man's speak. He seemed graceful, if a little fruity for Shining's taste. "What buisness do you have with the princess?"
The wolf stepped from the equipment, standing next to the man. It was hard to judge his actual height due to those weird stilt-shoes. "I believe that your princess may be using our land. We just want to see how she's done."
He squinted at the creature. His eyes looked almost closed, how did he see with eyes that small? He had a flute in his hand, apparently he had been playing recently. On his waist was a thin scabbard, holding a sword. It looked almost brand-new except for the slightly dimmed metal around the strap. Apparently, he had owned the sword for quite some time, he just hardly ever used it. "What do you mean by that? The princess has existed for thousands of years."
"Thousands?" He looked toward the wolf, receiving only a yip in response. "I guess that makes sense. As for what I meant, I mean exactly what I said, this land is our land, your princess seems to have simply set-up here. Not that we mind terribly, not at all. It's just that we want to see how she is taking care of this land, it is very special. You can understand the sentimental value a country would have, oui?"
"That's... I hardly believe you, but I will have to ask you to hand-over your weapon if you are planning on going anywhere."
He held his hands up. "I would never dare to do anything to offend any of you. I am a friend, oui?" He handed the scabbard over. "What kind of a prophet would I be if I was not amiable?"
"Someone wants you to speak on behalf of their god?"
"It doesn't matter if they did or not, the gods chose me for my duty, what higher authority could tell me otherwise, oui?"
"Stop saying that." Something had been bothering Shining Armor but it had just reached the breaking-point.
"You keep saying wee at the end of all your questions. Stop it."
"Oh, I am so sorry. Oui means yes where I am from, it is a bit of a habit at this point. Habits are sometimes hard to break... oui?"
Shining just grumbled to himself and sent some of his unicorns to check the med-tent to see if the thing was telling the truth. Sure enough, a couple of minutes later the mages returned, each with varying looks of disgust.
"How were they?" Asked Shining.
"They're fine... the tent though..."
"What about it?"
"It's a warzone sir!" Shouted one of the younger recruits. "I've never seen anything like it! Vomit everywhere. It shouldn't even be possible to do what those soldiers managed to do, sir."
Shining Armor face-hoofed, they had him worried that something much worse had happened. "One of you teleport back to camp and get a fleet of pegasi to come pick them up, the others will go to the other camps and tell them the search is over and they can go back to their regular duties."
The unicorns all saluted toward their Captain before disappearing in a series of flashes. One of the creatures spoke up, the pink one. "You can teleport? Quite commendable for just normal soldiers."
"What do you mean by that?" Asked Shining Armor, a certain level of defensiveness present while talking about his men.
"It's just that, where we've been, only a select few actually know how to travel long distances in an instant. Here, however, it seems like anyone can, provided they have that pretty point." He remarked while pointing at Shining's horn.
"They had to train very hard to be able to teleport even short distances. It's one of the most difficult spells to use consecutively for unicorns!"
"Really? Then I guess they're back to just being average then, what is the point if they can't even rely on it, oui?"
Amaterasu wasn't getting involved in this one. Waka could be cruel sometimes when it came to word-play, he usually got into arguments with Issun just to trip-him-up on his own words.
"Take that back! You don't even know what we are capable of! I would watch your tone, I don't have to bring you to the princess in one piece!"
"Oh yes yes, of course, I wouldn't want to endanger myself." Shining was satisfied, until he continued. "I'm just so used to the military being so civilized and efficent where we are from, sometimes I forget who I am talking to. After all, your men couldn't spot a stark-white wolf and a man wearing full pink in platform shoes on the edge of a forest."
That tore it, Shining was going to charge at the man, who didn't seem worried in the slightest, but everything suddenly went hazy, the world brought to slow-motion. He was overcome with a groggyness, after a few seconds of fighting it, Shining Armor finally succumbed and fell to the ground, asleep.
Amaterasu shot Waka a glare, clearly showing her distaste towards her companion's immature behavior. If she hadn't put that pony under the veil of mist, he could have been very hurt. "Grrrrrrrr."
Waka raised his hands to the skies, mimicking a preacher. "Oh curse my sharp-tongue! Mi amor, please forgive a poor prophet in his moment of weakness!" Amaterasu headbutted him, an action that actually sent him back a few feet. He got up, clutching his stomach, although she knew he could take much more than that. "Okay, I understand, I will apologize later, I just wanted to see what kind of leader he was." Waka had been the captain of the Tao troopers back in the capital city, a division that only a very select few could join. Just reaching the headquarters required some method of reaching a building hundreds of feet in the sky each day. "It's good he looks young, otherwise that would have been a failure, but he will learn." They turned towards the mountain settlement, Shining sleeping in a ridiculous position on Amaterasu's back. "This will take quite some time until he wakes up, do you want me to go ahead?"
If a wolf could mumble, Amaterasu just did. She didn't care either way.
"Then I will be off, I'll send a signal if things don't work-out, they will probably let you in if you show-up with him on your back, provided he wakes-up." With that, Waka disappeared in a small sprinkle of sparkles.
Amaterasu wasn't sure why she always was the one stuck carrying people around, and not always the light ones either. Now she was stuck with an entire stallion for a trip that looked to be as much as thirty miles. She wouldn't get tired or exhausted, she technically didn't even have to eat, it was more the principle of the problem, she was a goddess for her sake. She let out a single pant and began running toward the town, and celestials help anybody that thought about giving her grief on the way there.
The sisters were receiving the latest reports from one of the army mages. The teleportation distance had worn him out, so the information came between heavy pants.
"One is a... *huff* it looks like a white timberwolf. The other is a... *huff* sort of like a diamond dog but only with hair on his head, he also doesn't slouch like they do. It appears they.. *huh* haven't harmed any of the men, besides getting them all to drink far too much alchohol, which we still aren't sure of how they procured."
Celestia was uncomfortable with the news that the white wolf had been real and not just a trick by her eyes. "Are they dangerous?"
"It's hard to tell, your majesty. The tall one had a sword but we confiscated it until further notice. The other one didn't have a weapon, being a wolf and all. They seem like they may have used trickery or unfair advantage to subdue the soldiers until our arrival."
A creak from overhead got their attention, the pink man from earlier was pacing around the rafters of the throne room, looking at the various pieces of artwork around the room. "Who goes there?" Asked a member of the solar guard positioned by the door, he had certainly not let him in.
The man turned his head and looked down on the ponies below him. "Give me a moment, the artwork in your castle is magnificent. It will only be a second."
Celestia saw no harm in letting him stare at the walls for a few moments but the guard was apparently not sharing her opinion. "Come down right now!"
The man sighed and hopped from his position, slowly drifting downward until landing on the carpet that formed a walkway to the sister's throne. "I'm down with what you say, pun intended." A deep groan seemed to come from the walls at the impressively terrible pun. He looked at the neutral faces of the ponies around him. After coughing into his hand, he continued. "excusez-moi, they sometimes just come out of nowhere like that."
Celestia was going to tell him it was really no problem, but the guard beat her to the punch yet-again. "Identify yourself, intruder!"
He rose up onto one foot, raising his hands to the sky. "Hark! The earth, the sea, the very heavens themselves! They summon me forth on my quest to defeat evil and serve the gods!" He did a simply fabulous spin on his single shoe and ended facing directly at the princess. "Waka, the gods' gift to man is here, Bonjour!"
Amaterasu didn't like these animals, they weren't natural. She had been attacked by wooden wolves while heading through the forest, that immediately set-off warning bells, considering that all animals loved the divine mother. Whatever they actually were, it wasn't made by nature, it was made by hand. They had formed a circle around the sun-goddess, intending to surround her.
Worse mistakes are seldom made twice.
"I have introduced myself, now tell me who you are, a queen?"
Celestia shot a glare at the guardsman before he could talk again. "I am princess Celestia, co-ruler of Equestria along with my sister, Luna." She noticed the raised-eyebrow Waka wore as soon as she said her name. "Do you find something odd?"
He checked himself. "Just a coincedence. I'm here to tell you that my compatriot will be here soon. I suggest letting her in immediately, she will probably be a little wound-up after her trip. She will also be carrying your guardsmen a... Shining Armor, oui? He passed-out and we decided to take him here."
He was lying, but it was obviously lying in a way that made it difficult to call his bluff on anything specific. "Why is the captain unconscious? He has never had difficulty in his duties, even when he had to repel the entire changeling army."
"He attacked none-other than moi. We put him under for our own safety and decided it would be best if he came here. You do have a place to put him, oui?"
"Of course." She hardened her gaze. "Now tell me why I shouldn't banish you for knocking-out one of my most loyal officers."
Waka pointed his flute at the princess. "Because, Celestia, until you show us otherwise, this land belongs to us and you will treat it with the respect it deserves for as long as we are here."
Celestia responded quickly. "This land is not yours nor any others. This land belongs to the ponies of Equestria. We have existed here for thousands of years."
"Although it lacks a certain, délicatesse, we were here before your people or any others that were here. We are responsible for your land."
"Ridiculous, there are only two of you, what right do you both have to any of the lands under me and my sister?"
Waka may appear to often be a cryptic smart-arse with questionable loyalties but if any part of his character was concrete, it was his devotion toward the celestials. "Were you here when this land was created? I'm guessing not, seeing as how I didn't see you there when it happened. I have lived just as long as this land and longer. I was there when the gods came, when the celestials appeared, when peace existed in every form." He continued his monologue, keeping his voice at an indoor-level.
"I was there to defend this land when the serpent Orochi attacked, and I was the one who prophesised that we couldn't defeat him ourselves, which led to the goddess leaving this place to find the chosen mortal." He didn't continue into the next event, the slaughter of the celestials aboard the ark of Yamato.
"I have seen this land grow, I have kept this land safe long-enough for your ponies to live here. Don't think that we plan on evicting you, that would only serve to sully this land's heritage further. Until otherwise, you will settle down. I admire your devotion to your people, that is certainly magnifique, but until we can be sure that you have not desecrated our home, we will be content to watch from the sidelines."
"Do you have proof of these allegations?" Although his words came normally, they still had bite. He was telling the truth, at least whatever parts he had actually said.
"All the proof I have comes when my companion arrives. Until then, I suggest you settle down, get some tea, and let us have a civilized conversation."
Amaterasu had gotten some testing done with her powers in this world. She had quickly discovered that all of her greensprout abilities worked on basically everything in the forest. She now shot herself out of the canopy every few seconds, attached to vines that seemingly came from nowhere, Shining Armor still somehow managing to not fall from her back as the branches whipped his drooling face.
After three broken branches across his face, Shining Armor began to stir. "Where... OW! Ow ow ow ow OOWWWW!" The branches kept coming, Ammy basically in autopilot at this point. "Stop, stop it! Why don't you stop? Can you hear me?!"
"Row." She could, in fact, hear him.
"Aren't you going to at least slow down? This hurts!"
"Row." She did, in fact, not care.
Waka sat cross-legged at a table he had basically dragged in front of the sister's throne, sipping tea calmly with his eyes closed. It was one of those awkward silences in which only one side was actually bothered by the quiet.
Celestia wasn't sure if she should start another conversation or try to have him arrested, she doubted it would do much if he had managed to enter the castle undetected. "Sooo..."
"You're palace is very nice, very quiet. Did you choose the location?"
"Huh? Oh, yes I did, I thought the mountain would provide a good view over the kingdom, it is also far from the wild animals and other problems." She was actually quite proud of the castle, the symbol of the sisters could be seen from almost anywhere in the kingdom.
"Mmmm." He sighed with his eyes still closed. "You can hardly even hear the town, also your plan?"
She couldn't help but blush at the observation. "Well, after all of the court hearings each day, it's nice to be able to just have some quiet for a little bit."
"Mmmm. I had a similar problem when deciding on a location for my headquarters in the city. The noise made it impossible to command the troopers."
"What did you do to fix the problem?"
"I put the building hundreds of feet above the city in the clouds. It also helped me to decide which troopers were good-enough for their positions." He finished his story with another draft of tea. "Did you tell the guards about my companion's arrival?"
"Yes I did, there shouldn't be any problems besides maybe some stares. You said that it had my captain traveling with it?"
He removed his mouth from his cup for a moment. "She." He finished his cup and began pouring more. "Technically, she doesn't have a gender, but her current reincarnation is female, while the last one was male. You may as well refer to her as a she."
"Reincarnation? That sounds like something out of a story."
He couldn't help but find the hypocracy in that statement from an apparent immortal. "Of course she can reincarnate, if a god couldn't reincarnate, what would happen every time something happened? It would be madness."
She stared at him as he continued to sip his drink. "God? The wolf? No, just no. If I don't believe your first story, convincing me that the wolf I saw was a god is a complete different ballpark."
"Hmmmm." He sighed to himself. "Then I guess we'll have to just keep waiting until she is here, oui?"
Amaterasu finally reached the castle doors, she had quickly tired of the stares she was receiving. The nobles all looked at her with disgust, like a wild animal. It was still better than when she was feared by the villagers in Nippon. The captain had helped to dissipate a small portion of the crowds but she still felt disgusted at the fact that she knew how she looked.
She looked like she had been tamed, and it took quite some willpower for the honored celestial to avoid making a scene.
They finally reached the castle gates, met with stares from the guards. They opened the gates without a word, the princess having told them of the new arrival earlier. Amaterasu was just glad that Waka had done something to make her life easier for once... besides that whole... sacrifice thing before they got here but whatever. She couldn't hide her gritted teeth as she found Waka calmly chatting with the princess. They didn't seem to notice they had arrived yet... good.
"And Queen Himiko was really the perfect ruler, she always put her people before herself, right until-" He had been cut-off as the contents of his cup formed a spiral and splashed into his face. "Pbbtbbbbt." He spat the tea leaves out of his mouth and turned to see the wolf staring daggers at him. "Oh please, as if I could have done something to get you here faster."
"Row! Rrrraw row raaaaw!" She exclaimed at him. She wasn't ready to hear his excuses while he was sitting comfortably drinking tea.
"Oh, I guess I could have just come back and teleported the rest of you." He playfully knocked his fist on his helmet, cocking his head to the side. "Oops, slipped my mind."
She continued staring at him, wondering if she could set him alight without any of the nearby tapestries catching.
"I know that look, mon amie, trust me, this whole place would go with me."
"Rrrrrr." She settled on laying next to the table that had been dragged to Celestia's throne, getting ready for her second-longest sleep in years.
Shining Armor wouldn't have it. "Princess! Never get a ride from that thing, it does not care if you are comfortable." His entire mane was strewn with leaves, twigs, barbs, and, oddly enough, sand.
"I'm glad to see that you are well Shining Armor, I was worried that you would still be unconscious when you arrived."
"You knew they had done something to me? Why didn't you just sent a unicorn or pegasus to transport us back?"
"Because Waka here told me about the exchange you both had back at the camp, I must say that I am disappointed in you." Waka responded by lifting his glass slightly in Shining's direction.
He was entering a small panic, it would be funny, if it weren't also a bit sad. "You instantly trusted him? The person who admitted he had done... something to one of your people? I didn't even know where they were taking me!"
She stared at Shining with her well-known poker face. "Are you saying that you didn't try to assault one of our guests after nothing more than some taunting?"
He kept his mouth open for a second before shutting it again. He looked down forlornly. "I am sorry, princess, I was caught in the moment and didn't think my decisions through very well."
"No. you didn't." Spoke Waka. He didn't know why he found it so tempting to extend a bit of cruelty towards this particular stallion, maybe it was because his confidence reminded him of Issun, along with his temper. "If you plan on being a real leader, you are going to have to know how to deal with any problem, even if it's a verbal battle."
Shining narrowed his eyes at Waka, better-prepared for the spontaneous battle-of-wits. "Choice words from a half-baked prophet."
Amaterasu could be heard snickering from below the table.
"You remind me of someone I knew before I came here. We didn't get along either."
"Can't imagine why." Muttered Shining Armor.
"Of course, he was only four inches tall, so at least he had an excuse for looking so weak." Waka used his fingers to explain how small four inches was.
Shining smacked a hoof on the floor, creating a very loud Boom noise. "Do you want to back that up, fruitcake?"
Amaterasu was rolling with laughter, even in another world, Waka couldn't go more than a day without someone calling him a fruitcake.
He raised his hands to ear-level, exaggerating a shrug. "Alas, I was robbed of my weapon on the way here, perhaps another time, oui?"
"Stay. Right. Here." He teleported away.
"What in Equestria was that about?" Celestia didn't know which side was in the wrong during the argument so she had kept quiet.
"We just don't get along, it happens." Waka tried to go back to his drink, but was cut-off by Shining returning in another flash. He held Waka's sword in his teeth, sheath and all.
He tossed the tool to Waka, who caught it in the air. "Two hours, central colosseum, you and me."
Waka strapped the sword back on his belt. "Well that was a rather dramatic way to put it, you didn't even use complete sentences."
"Just be there!" He yelled as he turned to head back to his room, intent on showering before the duel.
Waka just sat there, sheath still in his hand. After a moment, he spoke up again. "I don't have to go, do I? I'd much rather just look-around the castle."
Amaterasu nipped him on the elbow, clearly expressing her distaste for the idea.
"I say, you aren't getting cold feet, are you Waka?" Asked Celestia with a smile.
"Hardly, I just don't want to go all the way back to town just to settle some schoolyard argument." He turned toward Celestia. "You really don't see a problem with him starting fights willy-nilly?"
"To be honest, I didn't know his intentions until the end. You should still be careful, he may act foolish sometimes but Shining Armor is still experienced beyond his years.
"Well that is just magnifique, isn't it? I'll go talk to him and see if we can settle this like adults. Until then, au revoir." He disappeared in sparkles again.
The only noise left in the hall was Amaterasu's snoring.
Shining slammed-open the door to his room, ready to make a b-line for the washroom. Instead of finding his kind, gentle wife waiting for him, he found Waka on his windowsill. "Bonjour, captain."
"What do you want? Come to talk things out? I've got bad news for you, nobody keeps insulting me like that and gets away with it."
"No." His voice was flat. "I came to warn you, you do not know what you are doing. I doubt that it will be very easy but I will win in two hours and when I do, I want to make sure that ponies know."
"Trying to play the ego game? They still won't respect you."
"Not at all, I want them to learn a lesson from your mistakes, I want them to know how serious it is when you try to hurt someone to solve your problems. I hope you show-up, because I plan on having as many people be there as possible."
"Big colt, aren't you? Trying to intimidate your opponent before a match. That sounds like a coward's tactic to me."
"Call me all the names you know captain, it won't change the fact that this entire challenge is a load of bunk. I hope that by the end of this, you will realize that. Until then, au revoir, baby." He made his hands into a V-for-victory symbol and disappeared.
"Lovely mares and gentlecolts, welcome to the overdome!!" Vinyl had read her part with extreme enthusiasm. "At the east entrance, weighing-in at two-hundred-seventy pounds... SHIIIIINING ARMOOOOOOR!"
"I never gave her my weight. That isn't even right." Shining Armor said forlornly to the only person who would still both to hear him complain.
"Really, dear. I'm sure it was just planned as a little joke to get the crowd going." Cadance nuzzled him, she was still technically angry at him instigating this entire event, but she was the only person who would listen to his whining. "You know everyone in Canterlot owes you their lives, I doubt a few jokes will change their minds."
He returned her nuzzle, he had been under a lot of stress lately, and this certainly wasn't helping. He put on his helmet before marching into the stadium, met with cheers from the crowd.
"At the west entrance, standing a righteous six-foot-three, shoes included... WAAAAKAAAAA!"
He walked out of the other entrance, hand to his face as if embarrassed. After a few seconds, he scrapped the ruse and held both hands above his head, basking in the cheers that he wasn't receiving, not that he cared, his entrance could have been met with a dragon barfing on his head and he would still keep his confidence at a constant high. He hadn't even changed out of his usual pom-pom kimono, his only 'armor' was his helmet.
Shining didn't like being made a fool of. "You don't even respect me enough to bring armor? We aren't going to be using training weapons you know."
Waka looked-over his opponent. "That armour is certainly high-quality. I bet it has seen quite some use. As for my situation, my people are a more dexterious type. We certainly can wear armor like yours, but I find it just a bit too slow and uncomfortable. In short, it's not my thing, baby."
"Challengers! Choose your weapons! You may pick any items you desire!"
Shining Armor won the coin-toss and was given first pick. He decided to settle on a long spear that had a lighter center made of light alloy. It certainly wasn't of any use for pure melee combat, but in the hands of a talented unicorn's telekinesis, the reduced weight made it deadly.
Waka simply raised his sword, signaling that it was his own choice. Shining couldn't help but be a little skepticle. "I thought about why you would make a blade in that style, it's meant for finishing a fight quickly, correct?"
"Oui oui oui, mon amie." He drew the sword and set the sheath on the table full of weapons. "Where I've been, fights are meant to last for seconds, this blade in particular," He raised it to the sky, the light reflecting off it's surface. "It's called a wakizashi, meant for fighting indoors mostly."
"So you brought it here? I don't know how much confidence you have in yourself, but there is a limit to ego, that sword isn't even meant for armor by the looks of it."
"All things in due time, we can't keep the paying-ponies waiting, oui?"
"You charged them?"
Amaterasu wagged-happily as she was scratched by Celestia. This is why she preferred to meet with female rulers, they were always the most talented with their affection. After realizing that conversation was useless, Celestia had just decided to lazily pet her guest, her fur felt softer than velvet. Amaterasu didn't really care about the fight, unless Waka lost, of course, then she would hang it over his head forever. The day had started cloudy but was clearing-up at the same rate that she was getting scratched. Had she been paying attention, she would have felt a faint tinge of malice in the air.
Waka didn't move from his spot, staying still while watching Shining Armor. "Before we really start, I was wondering if you would answer something for me."
Shining kept his spear pointed toward Waka, keeping him fully in view before answering. "I don't care if you have any more jokes to make, I just don't care anymore."
"No jokes right now. I was wondering, have things been... difficult recently? When we met I thought you were a usual pompous commander but it seems more like a downtrodden vibe coming from you."
Well he certainly wasn't expecting anything of that kind to come from him. "In all honesty, things have been erratic at best here. The changeling invasion was only two weeks ago, and to be honest, it hasn't made me feel very useful since. I mean, they snuck an army into Canterlot while their leader was right in front of me and I couldn't even see past her lame ruse."
"Celestia told me the story, but from her side, it sounds like you and your wife were the ones who managed to expell the entire army at the end. While it could have happened at a better time, you did something that even your ruler couldn't do, and isn't that the task of any good soldier?"
"That's true, but the elements of harmony probably could have been used with a similar result."
Waka just sighed, this stallion was in a firm stage of what could be called 'one-time loser' syndrome. "So, what you are basically saying is, when Celestia... umm... hoof picked you for your position, that there was someone better? Some who could, how can I say it, get the job done?"
"Well technically, no there wasn't, I got the best score on the officer test."
"So we have narrowed-down that you are firstly, the most qualified, secondly, the most experienced, and thirdly, were capable of expelling an entire army in a matter of seconds, oui?"
Shining got a bit of his confidence back. "I guess so."
"No! You know so!" Waka skimmed-over his conversation with the princess, trying to find something fitting enough for his closing. He remembered one pony the princess wasn't able to say more than a single good thing about. "Maybe we should just make Blueblood the captain! He has confidence!"
"Blueblood would sell Equestria down-the-river before he got his captain's stripes!" Shouted Shining Armor. "I am the most talented battlemage in the Equestrian military, I am the one, along with my wife, who defeated Chrysalis, and I am the one who is going to kick the ass of a fruity, half-baked prophet before I go home today!"
"Magnifique captain!" Waka didn't get to say more before he had to dodge a spear whizzing past his head, sticking firmly in the ground before being removed with Shining's magic.
"Quite the héros, aren't you captain?" Waka continued to avoid the spear, trying to get closer to Shining Armor but facing the difficulties of being blocked by a spear that could turn any way it wanted. He couldn't parry, katanas just weren't made for that kind of constant abuse.
"Having trouble? I could always make it go slower, if it's too difficult."
"Let me try something first." Waka reached into his sleeve and drew a dagger, quickly tossing it at Shining Armor. Shining Armor, not expecting the extra weapon, was met with a painful thud as the blade whacked against his armor, thankfully not piercing it.
In the brief moment of reduced concentration, Waka ran towards Shining Armor but was whacked in the back of his knees by the spear handle, once-more in control. The spear quickly brought it's pommel down, whacking Waka in the back. It didn't hurt much, considering how light the weapon was, but served as a good means of sneaking-in some extra damage. He rose again and tried reaching for the spear, grabbing it in his right hand. He slashed with his left, embedding the blade in the hilt of the spear, pushing it to the ground. They were now at a stand-still, Waka using his hands to keep the spear down and Shining, without a weapon but also far-enough away to make a charge from Waka useless.
Waka brought his right-foot up and shoved it downward, embedding the long tooth in the ground, forming a triangle over the spear-head. He removed his right-hand quickly and began searching inside his kimono again, wobbling slightly as Shining continued to jerk his spear back towards him and pulling on his foot. Eventually, he found what he was looking for. "Aha!" He exclaimed as he drew his weapon from his pockets.
It was his rosewood flute.
"A flute? Whew, for a second I thought you had another knife." Laughed Shining Armor.
"I do, but I think I will in-fact get, as you said, my ass kicked if I don't use it. Haven't you noticed something odd during our fight? I'll give you a hint, it involves my hands."
"Please, spare me. I know you've been going left-handed all fight, I just didn't call you out because it made it even easier."
"Oh-hoh, it seems I greatly misjudged you, I'll have to try harder to surprise you I guess. How's this?" He spun his flute in his hand before pressing his palm to the top, collapsing it. As he drew his hand back, a bright green-white blade composed of light extended from the tip, forming a second sword. "Congratulation! You get to be one of the lucky few that get's to experience my Pillow Talk!"
"... Excuse you?"
"Pillow Talk, my sword's name is Pillow Talk... although if you want..."
"Dear god no, let's just keep going."
"Oui." He drew his foot back up, allowing Shining to retrieve his spear before rushing at him with a sword in each hand. Shining continued swinging, his blows now parried by Waka's beam sabre. He wouldn't be out-done by some lame deus-ex-machina like that, so he decided to go for a more risky tactic.
Waka continued to charge at Shining armor. He slowed when he saw a slight twinkle in the captain's armor, along with his face which wore a look of victory. Quickly, he dived to the side, narrowly avoiding the dagger he had thrown earlier from being plunged into his back. "You'll have to try harder if you really want to get your point-across!"
"Ugggghhhhh." Sighed the audience.
"I assure you, there will be more before we are done here!"
Waka slammed into yet another wall, courtesy of a buck to the side. He wasn't sure why Shining had even bothered with the spear, those hooves seemed good-enough for knocking him around. Luckily for him, fighting with Ammy had prepared him for much more abuse than this. "So you're sure you aren't still mad?" He asked as he picked himself up off the ground, slowly becoming more filthy.
Shining Armor trotted to his spot near the wall. "Nope, we're good. I just don't want to lose a fight I started in the first place."
"Well that's... a way to look at it. I want to know one more thing though."
"What's that?" He asked as he reached Waka again.
Waka leaped off the ground, pressing the tooth of his shoe against the wall before leaping behind Shining Armor. He picked-up his dagger and drew another from his kimono. He tossed them at Shining Armor's neck.
One banged against the plate on his neck semi-painfully, the other managed to whack his horn, chipping it. "AAHHHH DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN!" Yelled Shining Armor as he rubbed a hoof on his head.
A sympathetic hiss/gasp could be heard from the unicorn audience members.
"So... I'm guessing that they... are sensitive?"
"I'm gonna shove this splinter of my horn in your eye when I get my hooves on you!" He hissed as he held his eyes shut in pain.
"That sounds unpleasant, I decline. Now stop being such a baby." He ran at him again, Pillow Talk once-more drawn in his hand.
Shining shot his small shard of horn at Waka, actually piercing his thigh. His purple pants began to dye with a tirckle of red as he kept running. He managed to land a broad swing on Shining's chest, rending a decent swathe in the armor. Strangely, not a drop of blood was visible on Shining Armor's chest. "That was close, that was right toward the heart."
"Pillow Talk won't cut flesh, at least not pony flesh."
"...And that's why you use two swords for no adequate reason?"
"Bingo, baby." He swung the blade of light several more times, cutting more openings in the armor. By the time he had been successfully driven-back with the once-more reclaimed spear, Shining was missing armor on two of his legs, most of his left midsection, and his helmet.
"That's well and good, but it won't help much if your beaten to a pulp before you can land a hit with that sword. I think I know the best way to fix that, in fact." He shot the spear forward, Waka tried to dodge but wasn't anticipating the spear to home-in on his left hand.
His sword shattered into a dozen pieces, completely useless.
"Oh my." Remarked Celestia from her seat. "It's hard to tell if they actually want to patch things up or just kill each other."
"RrrrRrr." Mumbled Ammy absentmindedly. She was no bloodhound, but she smelled something in the air, something that was familiar.
"I hope you realize that if I win, you will be paying for both my armor and my bills on fixing my horn."
"Perfect, I can just use my share of the money for this show. Similarly, I expect a repaired sword, although your people would probably have to invent it's kind before you fix it, maybe start a research project out of your pocket? It probably wouldn't take too long, I'm sure."
They continued to wail on each other, Waka reduced to using his hand guard for blocking and parrying. The spear finally snapped in half after it's long period of usage. Shining had tried launching the spear head into Waka but collided with Pillow Talk, which quickly destroyed the sharpened steel on contact. They were down to a lightly armored stallion and a man with a sword that couldn't cut skin.
Ammy was now completely invested in the scent. It was... something rather distinct. It smelled... bitter... pungent.
Waka was now trying to maintain his balance, now sitting comically on Shining Armor's back, trying to grapple. They continued thrashing around, their reduced experience in unarmed combat clearly showing. Although he had almost no armor left, Waka still couldn't find a good place to hit Shining that was actually open-enough for him to get some wind-up.
"Aroooooooo!" Howled Amaterasu from her position by Celestia.
Waka had immediately jumped from Shining Armor's back, hurrying toward the balcony. Shining had tried to hit him, not realizing that Amaterasu was calling the fight off, but was stopped by a sudden painful burst in one of his knees, courtesy of an ink-bullet fired by Amaterasu from her perch.
"What is it?" Asked Waka, Ammy rarely chose to specifically make a show of herself.
"Like the Emperor? What is like the Emperor?"
Waka blanched. "Where! We need to deal with this right now. You may come if you want, princess, although I will have to ask you to keep some distance."
"That's quite alright."
Ammy began running out of the stadium, back towards town with Waka following close behind and Celestia flying overhead.
"What happened?" Shouted Shining Armor after them. "What is like what?"
He was met with silence.
"... Who is going to pay for me to fix my horn!?"
Ammy didn't stop running, her mind only focusing on the scent, she had finally remebered it's origin. It smelled like rot and death.
It smelled like Blight.
"What is the rush?" Asked Celestia, flying overhead of Ammy and Waka.
"Amaterasu smells Blight, and that is very very bad."
"Blight? A disease?"
"Sort of, it's comlicated. The important thing is finding him before he settles-in, otherwise the city could be at risk."
"Him? I thought it was a disease?"
"Complicated, Celestia. Either-way, we have to find him before he finds someone to roost in, if he hasn't already."
Ammy took a sharp turn in the road, now heading towards the edge of the residential part of the town. They continued running for several minutes before they reached the walls of the castle. They all ran in, following after Amaterasu.
She darted through hallways, dodging past servants and guardsmen alike. The guards that tried to stop her were quickly quelled by Celestia's appearance. The trail led them up a long set of stairs, up one of the castle's many towers.
Celestia wasn't sure what part of the castle they were in, she had been focusing on both following the wolf and getting the guards to stop following her. She tried looking around for the decorations. Most people thought the princesses had simply memorized the layout of the castle, not so. They had just hid subtle hints in the various tapestries and artwork around the castle.
"Let's see... the art is red so... we are in the north-east section. The style is... semi-archaic pottery... personal chambers... and..." Celestia began rushing up the rest of the stairs, over Ammy and Waka, each having a bit of trouble with the stairs and their respective paws and shoes. Moons.
Sure-enough, they reached top of the stairs, stopping at the large ebony door that led to princess Luna's chambers. The two lunar-guardsmen staring at them with raised eyebrows.
Waka spoke-up after reaching the top of the stairs. "Celestia, why have I not been introduced to your sister yet?"
"She has been... sick for a few days."
"How many days?"
"How many days exactly?"
"Four... I think."
"We have to get those guards away from that room right now, it's dangerous."
"I doubt they will leave, they don't report to me. The guard is rather... divided."
Waka walked towards the guardponies, giving them a wave. "Hello there, privates. I'm here because we think your princess is in danger, and if we are right, you could both be in quite alot of danger when we open that big door behind you."
The guard closest to Waka responded. "Are you telling me that our princess is in trouble and you expect us to leave?! Are you insane, or just dumb-enough to not know how a guard works?"
Waka just stared at the guard. "Fine, Celestia, open the door."
"Are you sure?" He didn't try very hard to convince the guards.
"Open it, they won't move. Everything that may happen afterwards is not my fault."
With minor hesitation, Celestia inserted her horn into the door's lock, releasing a small amount of magic to undo the mechanism. "Waah!" She yelled as she was pushed to the ground by Ammy, refusing to let her up.
As soon as the door began to open, a foul green cloud of fog erupted from the room, blasting into the hallway. The guards weren't prepared, and began convulsing immediately after breathing-in some of the haze. Waka had wrapped one of the feathery sheets that hung on his helmet around his face, tucking the end into the opposite side of the helmet, limiting his gas-ingestion. "Amaterasu, there is too much of his fog. Get rid of some of it, just make-sure to not get any into the castle."
A large gust of wind erupted from the flight of stairs, blowing the fog out of the large window at the end of the hallway. The room was now only partially filled with a thin mist.
"It should be safe for a little-while. Try to open any windows you see, it will buy us some time."
"What about the guards?"
"They only got one big dose, they'll feel awful for a while, but they aren't in danger."
They quickly opened all of the available windows and balconies, most of the locks being undone at once with Celestia's magic. They rushed towards Luna's bed, the night princess was asleep, fidgeting slightly but relatively unharmed. Waka propped her up while Ammy investigated her body extremly thoroughly.
"This doesn't seem right." Muttered Waka to himself.
"Is something wrong with Luna?" Celestia asked, a little more wound-up than she would have liked.
"Blight either infects by entering the host's body or by making a cut from his sword. From what we see, he didn't do either."
"So then why is everything all foggy still?"
Amaterasu started to growl into the hall, bearing her fangs at the doorway.
Waka stared at her behavior for a few seconds before having the little lightbulb finally switch to "on" in his head. "Celestia! Teleport yourself and Luna away from this tower as soon as possible!"
She didn't bother to ask why, she would just ask why later, that and it sounded a bit too urgent for questions. She disappeared with her sister in a flash, leaving the two behind alone.
"That was put-together rather well, wolf." Said a voice from the hallway, raspy and aged.
"I'm more than a little ashamed I didn't figure it out first," commented Waka. "from what I've seen, you're normally not too hard to pin-down, Blight."
"Heh... heh..." Rasped the voice from the hall. "Couldn't even find me when I set-up in your own damn city, needed the wolf for that too. You aren't much of a warrior or a detective, especially if the wildlife is beating you at both."
"Show yourself, Blight. I know you aren't the type to favor talking."
"Heh... think you know everything, just because you're old. I don't need to show you anything, nobody takes orders from the Moon-Tribe... well, except maybe the celestials, but you probably know how that went."
"Show yourself! You can't expect to keep us talking until your poison works, not unless you have a few hours."
"True, true. There isn't much value in conversing with a mutt and a tribal." The fog that remained in the room and hall slowly gathered together, forming into a hazy sillouette of a samurai.
"Where's Goldnail? I hardly expect you to have come here without your sword, not if you planned on infecting people."
"I'm around." He responded casually. "Great thing about swords, we're easy to move, or was that too much for you to handle aswell?" He taunted, gesturing toward Waka's broken sword, thin whisps of smoke dropping off his extended finger. "Tell you what, I'll give you a hint, but only if you can guess a question correctly."
"Tell us the question." Demanded Waka, one hand still on his flute, Blight's story about hiding his sword could have been a ruse.
"Okay. Let's see if the tribal and his mutt can put their heads-together for this one." He finished gathering his smoke together, now a mostly opaque cut-out of a warrior.
"Who," he began. "did I come here with?"
"Be more specific, Blight. What do you want us to guess?"
"Who," he began again. "did I come here with?"
"I know that you rusted old ghost. I mean, are you asking who you entered the castle with, or who you entered Equestia with?"
The figure seemed to mull-over the choices for a minute. "Yes." He replied with a dry mock-chuckle.
"You never used to be this annoying, even when you lived in the emperor."
"Getting almost killed by a hound twice can make you petty, and I never said I don't hold grudges. Answer yet?"
"Give us a minute." Waka and Ammy began conversing over the possible candidates. He could be with a guard, they were allowed to carry swords anytime. No, Goldnail would stick-out like a sore thumb among the guard swords. He could have been mistaken for an antique by a servant and placed somewhere in the castle for safekeeping, just as unlikely, the servants probably wouldn't go near Goldnail, with it's putrid appearance.
"We give-up, Blight. There is no way for us to know the answer to something like that and you are only wasting time. Look, you're already starting to fade-away. At least we know your sword isn't nearby then."
"It wasn't that hard, but I suppose my time is running-out. Fine, I would give you another hint, but I doubt it will be very necessary."
"What do you mean?"
"You tell me, prophet. Farewell, maybe we'll meet when you don't have your attack-dog next time." And with that, the last of the mist was caught on the wind and blown out of the tower, dissipating after a few seconds.
"He has a point, mon amie, there is a slim chance I could see what he plans on doing beforehand."
"Row." Amaterasu didn't want to interfere, this part was entirely up to Waka, she could do many things, seeing the future was not one of them.
Waka closed his eyes and concentrated. "I see... ponies, obviously. It's peaceful at the moment, nothing seems wrong... Wait! I'm starting to see something change!" There were large figures looming over the town, hardly recognizable against the dark mountains. They began flying towards the town, raising an alarm a few seconds later after being spotted. Waka didn't see any guards, it was just a civilian town. Some of the citizens, mostly unicorns, were getting ready to attempt to drive-off the figures, but the familiar fog from before began pooling around their feet. Seconds later, Blight emerged from one of the town's houses, sword-drawn. Waka wished he could warn the militia of what was about to happen. He saw Blight ready his stance, lifting Goldnail into the air. It began to shake wildly in his hands, right before Blight shot-off, leaving barely a blur, straight towards the back of the citizens.
Waka snapped-out of his vision. "Blight isn't in the castle anymore, he left his smoke as a decoy! He's currently inside a citizen in one of the towns near the mountains, he plans on destroying their defenses from the inside while his partners destroy the town itself."
Ammy just barked at Waka, digging for details.
"It was... Lechku and Nechku attacking the town." Replied Waka, slightly worn-out from the level of detail in his vision. "I don't... It doesn't seem likely that there was anyone else."
Ammy barked again, she needed the town name before she could go, she couldn't bother to wait for Waka to recover.
"It was a town nearby, just down the mountainside to the southeast. Celestia told me about the town before."
"She said it was called Ponyville."
Amaterasu leaped out of the tower window, falling the length of the castle before turning and heading for the town.
Waka just slowly got up and began slowly walking back towards the staircase, it would be a few minutes yet before he could teleport again. "I'm not sure if the princess should know about this yet." He muttered to himself before picking up one of the lunar guards and began dragging him to the infirmary.
Ammy was confused. She was certain she had destroyed Goldnail in the Ark of Yamato, and yet, Blight was clearly here. Worse, she had completely forgotten about the twin demons. They had vanished after she had vanquished them the first time and she had no idea where they might have gone. Looking back on it, where else would they go but the Plain if they didn't flee to the ark? She blazed through the forest, pouring immense amounts of energy into her legs. In her wake, golden grass and blossoms briefly erupted from the ground behind her, sparkling in the light with divine energy for a few seconds before disappearing again.
It may have been faster to just wait for Waka to teleport her but at the same time, Blight had warned them, and if they teleported into an ambush, that was it. This way, they could arrive separately.
Waka wished he had remembered to have Amaterasu regenerate his sword before she left, he was still stuck with a little nub of a blade on a guard. He may have no problems harming Blight and the twins with Pillowtalk, but the fact remained that he was trained for using two swords. He eyed the sword clipped on the second guard he was carrying. He quickly pocketed it. No harm done, so long as I give it back.
After finally getting the second guard down to the infirmary, Waka sat down for a moment. He couldn't show-up to a likely battle completely worn-out. He felt thankful that he hadn't run into anybody that might complicate this matter, the last thing it needed was more confusion.
"Is that you Waka?"
Darn it, the gods have just stopped caring about Waka, haven't they? "Oh, Celestia, I thought you would be with your sister."
"I am, I just dropped her off at the infirmary."
A solid thunk was heard from Waka slapping his palm to his helmet, this probably wasn't the best place to rest after all. "Right, I forgot."
"What happened in the tower?"
"That fog was from Blight, he appeared in an image and threatened us, a bit same-old same-old."
"Do you know where he is?"
Waka didn't like where this was going. "Yes, Amaterasu has left already to stop him, I plan on going soon."
"Good, I'll come along."
"That wouldn't be good, it's a kind of danger you aren't familiar with."
"Waka, you and your friend may be guests at the moment but you will not talk-down to me. I'm capable of far more than you think."
That is entirely not what I meant. "I just mean that these situations can get out-of-control if they aren't taken care of very specifically."
Celestia narrowed her eye that wasn't covered in her mane. "What are you hiding, Waka?"
"You can't follow us, princess."
"Give me a reason and I won't."
He knew that he was in a corner, if he elaborated, he spilled-the-beans. If he was silent, she would track him. "Fine, but I will be the one to conduct the teleportation." He didn't want her trying to teleport into the center of town during a battle, even experience wouldn't help if she appeared under one of Nechku or Lechku's weapons.
Amaterasu finally broke from the forest. She looked-around for signs of a city. It didn't take long to find exactly what she was looking for.
And also exactly what she was hoping she wouldn't find.
Waka and Celestia materialized in an nondescript patch of forest near town. "So where is your partner?"
"She should tell us-"
"Arooooooooooooo!" A loud howl was heard from across the trees.
"She should tell us if it is safe." He finished.
"Is it safe?" Questioned Celestia.
"Yes, but you have to promise me that you will stay by me, for your own good."
"That is fine." Waka draped an arm over Celestia, placing a noticeable grip near her wing.
"Just remember, by me, all the time."
She nodded and they exited the forest.
Celestia was surprised that it was dark outside, she didn't expect them to be this far from the capital. Hold on a moment, the sun is definitely out. She could feel the presence of the sun in the sky but no matter where she looked, it was dark as far as the eye could see. It couldn't even be described as night, since there weren't even stars in the sky. No matter where you looked, there was just darkness.
"This feels... unnatural... no that's the wrong word... it feels wrong here."
Waka tightened his grip. "Remember, by me, no matter what."
They slowly arrived at the gates to the town.
"Wait, we're in Ponyville right now? Where are the citizens?" Asked Celestia, looking around them completely but finding nothing in the deserted streets.
"I'm not sure, but look ahead for a minute, at the road specifically."
She turned her eyes toward the gravel road they were walking on. The road itself was tan but further on, she could see the ground completely gray. Not just a sudden change either, the coloration of the ground was swirling, the gray extending and retracting like ripples.
"What is it?" She asked as she watched the rhythm of the monochrome.
"It is cursed land, from the demons. No matter what, no matter what may be just on the other side of it, do not enter it. I have no idea how it might effect somebody like you."
"What do you mean?"
"Amaterasu is safest in the cursed-zone, since she is a complete deity, but even she has some risks in it. I can enter it, just not for long, or else I would be cursed like anyone else. I have no idea how it would effect someone like you. It would be best if we did not find out."
They continued examining the town, not hearing so much as a bird the entire time. They altered their path each time they came upon more cursed land. They still hadn't found a single pony in the town.
"What happened to the demons?" Whispered Celestia, not sure if it was wise to make too much noise.
"No idea." Whispered Waka. "They could be hiding, they could have left. Amaterasu hasn't howled, so I'm guessing she hasn't found anything yet either."
"Is there anything we should be looking for specifically?" Asked Celestia. She wanted to do whatever was possible to fix this town, the entire place just felt like someplace nopony should ever go.
"Any buildings that are not cursed, someone may have tried to hide."
"What about this one?" Asked Celestia, gesturing toward a small shop they were near. It was the store owned by Dr. Whooves, nobody was sure why he was referred to as doctor, the stallion was a clock-maker.
They crept inside, the only noise was that of the various clocks tick-ticking away. "I'll look upstairs, watch-out for any signs of the curse getting in."
Celestia continued searching around the ground-floor. There wasn't much to see, besides clocks, of course, those were in healthy abundance. The clocks themselves were odd, some were old-style, while others were surprisingly futuristic. It was like the stallion had figured-out exactly which clocks were going to become popular. One clock in particular had caught her eye. It was a huge, golden clock with deep blue hands. It ticked in an odd rhythm, switching between going fast and going slow, while still managing to regain it's correct tempo by the end. As Celestia stared at it, the hands began to switch, not switch as in go forwards or backwards, the hands themselves seemed to warp further along the cycle.
"-stia." She heard Waka from behind her, she turned to look, but didn't find him. She turned back to the clock, and found the hands in different positions again.
"away no-" She heard him again, it sounded more urgent this time, she looked behind her and was surprised to find a large portion of the shop was destroyed, tables sizzling and most of the windows blown-out. She turned-around and found the clock, still ticking.
She whipped-around, the shop was a complete mess, it looked as if an ursa minor had come through.
She heard odd noises from behind her, she turned toward the clock again and nearly jumped out of her skin.
The owl creature looked at Celestia, or at least in her general direction. It stayed in place for a few seconds before extending it's neck out towards her, it's neck clicking as if caught on a gear. *Cli-cli-cli-cli-click*
"Umm... hello?" Offered Celestia.
It turned it's cane around in it's hand, rotating it twice before striking the floor in front of her. Immediately, the ground erupted in an explosion of wood and gears from the destroyed clocks. Celestia erected a barrier to ward-off the projectiles, the splinters and bits of metal bouncing off harmlessly. The building began to creak loudly, largely due to losing it's third wall. Celestia looked for the creature, but it had left, using the debris as a distraction. The princess was smart, she chose to fly out of one of the further away holes in the walls, partially to avoid an ambush, partially to avoid flying straight into more curse she hadn't seen. Behind her, she heard the foundations of the shop give a large snap before the building collapsed into itself. She didn't want to encounter that creature until she found Waka or Amaterasu to tell her what it was.
A very short amount of time prior:
"A bunch of junk." Commented Waka, investigating the oddities on the walls. It turned out there was a living space on the second floor although the word space would be pretty generous. It looked like the stallion wasn't here, judging by the still relatively tidy upper floor.
Waka found the clocks to be an extreme annoyance, he much preferred the capital city's view on clocks, 'If you can look out a window, you can see what time it is'. He had never encountered Nechku or Lechku personally, although he had been nearby them at several points. That being said, he still knew what they looked like and some of their tactics.
*click. click. click. click.*
Waka hadn't been very comfortable with splitting-up to search the shop. Sure he doubted that anything would happen but that was probably just optimism.
*cli-click. cli-click. cli-click.
That clicking was getting extremely annoying. Waka figured that the owner wouldn't know who to blame if a few of these clocks were broken... on accident. He decided to start his search by finding and smashing that extremely loud one he kept hearing.
He started heading downstairs, toward the source of the noise. It didn't take him long to find the source.
Sitting on the stairwell was a behemoth of a creature, clicking one of it's claws against the wall. At Waka's appearance, the creature rotated it's head in a complete 180 before turning it forward again. It spread it's wings out, damaging the stairwell, before shooting through the roof, out of sight.
"Who?" Waka heard from the hole.
"I'm guessing... Nechku, correct?"
"I'm not going to let you start that lame game, come down here right now!"
There was no response from the ceiling.
"Hello?" Asked Waka, feeling a little ridiculous, still in his fighting stance while talking to the ceiling. "Nechku? You there?"
"Who?" He heard from outside right before the demon burst through the wall, barreling straight toward Waka. He threw himself toward the stairs, managing to grip the rail and begin running down as he heard the silver twin smashing through the wooden walls behind him.
He arrived at the ground floor, quickly looking for where Celestia was, he was sure she had heard the racket from upstairs. He found her standing stock-still, staring into space. "What are you doing? We have to go Celestia."
No response, she just continued to stare. Waka tried walking towards her, but the wall in front of her burst open, producing a large wooden pole which struck him square in the chest. It erupted a small breath of fire at it's touch, singing one of Waka's pom-poms that hung on his kimono as well as flinging him back into some tables. As he struggled to regain his breath, he could just barely catch a glimpse of a golden claw drawing back from the wall, a cane in it's hand. He thought he had seen Celestia stir slightly when some of the debris had landed on her.
"Celestia, snap out of it! Lechku has you right in his hand! What are you doing?!" He didn't get another word in, as Nechku finally freed himself of the stairway, and immediately tackled Waka out of the store, taking a large portion of the wall with it.
Celestia couldn't locate anyone. No ponies, no wolves, no pink prophet, not even a giant owl literally made of reflective surfaces. She was starting to feel completely alone. Well, that might be an understatement, she could, technically, teleport away whenever she felt like it, she just didn't like the idea of leaving those two to handle that creature.
A brief movement, ahead in the street. It looked... white. It may be Amaterasu, or maybe Waka's helmet. She went to follow it.
It turned a corner, then another. She couldn't get a good view of it, only the briefest flash of white. It seemed to know exactly where it needed to go. At least one of us does thought Celestia as she opened her wings just a tad for more speed.
It finally turned into an alley, one that was clearly a dead-end, being surrounded by buildings and all. Celestia whipped around the corner...
She then proceeded to stomp all four of her hooves down to avoid the curse-zone that had completely covered the alley. She had almost walked right into it. She didn't know what the source of that white was, but she doubted it was friendly now.
She saw something in the alley. It was hard to tell what it was due to all the darkness, bending and shifting the shape of everything it concealed. She looked at it from every angle and couldn't manage to tell what the form was. Eventually she tried creating a small light on her horn, focusing it into a small beam. She carefully pointed the bean toward the figure, drawing it into focus.
A loud scream was heard from the other side of town. Almost immediately, various figures around the town altered their paths, intent on getting there first.
Celestia just stared, she didn't know what else to do. There in front of her was a large portion of the citizens of Ponyville, all completely encased in stone, various emotions on their faces, most of horror. Celestia saw the elements of harmony standing in front of the crowd, trying to protect them from whatever had found them. Twilight Sparkle stood at the front of the formation, eyes staring daggers straight forward towards where the princess now stood. The princess wouldn't lie, she really wished it would have been any other pony staring back at her. It was clear that they had chosen to save as many ponies as possible before... this. The princess wondered why her student hadn't warped back to Canterlot to get help, no... that was a lie. "I wouldn't have let her come back." She muttered to herself as she stared back into the carved faces of the citizens.
"Who?" Asked a voice above her.
Lechku stayed on it's perch looking down on Celestia and the statues, it's figure grim and twisted through the darkness. It sat on the lip of the alley, the cursed-zone gently sending small licks of darkness over it but otherwise leaving it be. It just continued to stare at Celestia, the gears literally ticking in it's head. "Who."
"What do you want to achieve here?" Asked the princess, hoping to draw it away from the citizens.
It's head spun around twice comically before settling back into place. It lifted a stone that sat near it into one of it's claws and, with hardly a pause, smashed it into dozens of small pieces. It gently drifted down into the alley, stopping behind the ponies, still safely in the cursed-zone. It drew one of it's claws forward again, resting it on the head of a stone pony. It turned it's head sideways, like a child.
"Don't!" Urged Celestia. "What do you want?"
It extended it's other claw forward, sticking one of the sharp protrusions into the ground between it and the princess before dragging it towards itself. It repeated the gesture a few times for effect.
"You want... me, correct?"
The claw clicked against the ground, signalling agreement.
"And you will not harm them?"
The claw laid still.
"I want you to promise."
Instead of signaling with the extended claw, Lechku began tightening it's other, causing cracks to slowly stem from it's other claw through the pony.
"I understand! Stop that!"
It lessened it's grip, the cracks had only reached the mane of the hostage, hopefully they were unharmed.
"What is it you plan on doing with me?"
Lechku just continued to stare, it's head continuing to randomly angle from side to side. It was clear that it didn't plan on telling.
"Is Blight here?"
It waved it's finger into the ground, digging thin lines into the stone with it's claw.
"Is that no?"
It repeated the gesture. It seemed to be getting impatient. It lifted a brick from the alley and gently touched it to another pony's head. It repeated the gesture, growing faster with each swing. Question time was over.
Celestia readied herself, she slowly began advancing toward the alley.
"If you go in there, you can forget either of us coming to save you."
She turned and found Ammy and Waka both on the roof behind her, both standing side-by-side. Amaterasu didn't look much worse-for-wear, Waka on the other hand looked like he had been inside a washing machine filled with bricks for an hour.
Lechku's gears just continued to grind at the new witnesses, it had placed it's hand back on the pony again.
"Lechku, this is really quite sad. I know you're basically just a machine for killing but you really couldn't have just forced her into that alley? Maybe you have confidence issues after your last defeat."
The only response was a whirling noise from some of Lechku's various parts.
"You're right Amaterasu, no banter at all."
Ammy just released a sigh.
Lechku had raised the brick again, intent on putting things in a little perspective.
There was a noise of rushing wind and a hard collision. Celestia and Waka turned toward Lechku and found it gripping it's right claw, which now had a very thick gash in the metal.
"Haaaaaahh! Hissed Lechku, making rare use of it's voice outside the general who. It went back to it's neutral staring, but this time only maintaining eye-contact with Amaterasu. It slowly receded back into the darkness of the alley. Celestia lit her horn once more and searched, but the golden twin was gone.
"We can't stay here." Said Waka. "There is honestly no worse place to face demons of their caliber than in cursed lands.
"We can't leave the citizens here." Spoke Celestia.
"They will be fine, the demons have no use for those already cursed, no use besides hostages of course but they will not be able to move them without removing the curse. In short, they are only going to be in danger if we stay here and force the demon's hand."
"Is there any way to remove the curse?"
"Yes, but without any information on the town, removing it is guesswork."
Celestia raised herself to her full height, once-more recovering her aura of control. "Tell me what you need to know."
"Is there anything special about this town? Something old, not a person, an object or thing."
"Not really, the town isn't actually that old."
"Was it built around anything? A cave, a tree?"
"Oh! The town library is inside of a large, living tree! Is that good?"
"Perfect." Waka released a breath he had been holding, in all honesty, he wasn't expecting something so simple.
A scraping was heard from the entrance of the alley.
Waka placed his hand on his sword. "Celestia, go with Amaterasu, show her where the tree is."
"I just need to keep them anywhere but where you are for a minute, after that I'll have a town garrison to back me up, don't worry."
"Teleport if anything happens."
"Mon amie, please... it's me."
Celestia flew-off with Amaterasu keeping-pace behind her.
Waka drew his blades. "Nechku and Lechku don't make noise when they move, and Blight wouldn't have hesitated to strike from behind... who is there?"
Celestia looked back for a moment and saw a bright light envelop the alley they had left. She didn't turn-around, she had confidence in Waka, even if he hadn't done much to earn it. She could already see the tree that marked the center of town, there was something odd about it.
As they approached, it became clear, the tree was completely dead, the branches spindly and weak.
"What do we do?" She asked Amaterasu.
Ammy twisted her tail, using it to draw into the dirt. She drew a picture of the dead tree, dark clouds swirling above it. She then drew a second tree, this one with a picture of the sun above it, casing rays onto a living tree.
"We need sun, correct?"
Celestia had begun the process of moving the sun but was bumped by Amaterasu. She drew another picture, this one showing Ammy in front of the healed tree with Celestia behind her. Celestia seemed to be holding a rope around the sun.
"I... don't quite understand."
Ammy just stared. She pointed toward the sky.
Celestia looked up. "Arooooo!" Howled Amaterasu. On cue, the sun appeared out of thin-air, casting bright light across the town before the dark clouds covered it up.
"That... didn't make any sense whatsoever." She stated. "I think I get it though, you want me to hold the sun in place, correct?"
"Okay, but then we are going to talk about what you just did."
Amaterasu readied herself to produce the sun once-more.
"Stop where you are." Wheezed a voice from the direction of the tree.
A figure stepped from the front door, looking toward the two.
"Are you Blight?"
"Silence mule." He demanded. "I don't need to waste my time with you, I need the real goddess."
Ammy bared her fangs, but stayed in place.
"I have something you might like, I certainly think it's nice." He drew his hands from the doorway, producing Waka, completely unconscious. "You know, with all the pink, he could actually be a good accessory."
Ammy growled at him.
"Are you wondering why he isn't cursed? That would be me, I want him to stay with us for awhile, air our grievances on more even ground. Do you want to talk to him? You probably do, I'll get him up for you."
He began beating Waka with the handle of his sword. Waka stirred after the first few hits. He looked around himself. "Not good for me, mon am-hurrgh!"
He started coughing and convulsing in Bilght's grip, choking on his own air.
"What are you doing prophet?" Asked Blight. "I thought you were better than this little curse, don't you have divine favor? You go on about it enough, maybe the gods are punishing you." He turned to Amaterasu. "Is that right mutt? Have you gotten tired of dragging this tribal around, having him act cool all the time? I guess you chose a good time to ditch him then."
"Amaterasu... he's gone completely mad, I'm not sure what... caused it. You have to get the princess away from here... It's much worse than we thought."
"Quiet!" Yelled Blight. "The first thing I'll take is your tongue if you don't shut-it!"
"Amaterasu, they are weak, but there are many... If you restore this town... they'll flee everywhere, take everything. Get to Canterlot, find someone good-enough to help.
"Silence!" Blight accented this outburst with another slam from his sword. "I would let the curse have you right now if I didn't know you wanted that!"
"What do we do?" Celestia turned to Amaterasu, her expression a stone. She watched Waka, dangling from Blight's smoky grip.
She regretted what she was about to do, but it was for the long-run. She bloomed a small portion of the tree, the leaves turning green for a split-second, the curse already beginning to devour them.
In that split-second, a vine shot from the green, wrapping-around Waka's waist, pulling at him with all it's might. Blight held his grip, effectively beginning to hang Waka from his own arm, when another invisible slash, similar to the one from earlier, cut across his arm, breaking the grip.
Waka was pulled a few measly feet from Blight, but that was all it took, the connection was broken. He didn't resist at all, letting the curse get to him like a wave, his already mostly cursed body turned to stone almost instantly, leaving him as a lump on the ground.
"Dammit! You will pay for this!"
Celestia teleported them away, back to the safety of Canterlot.
Blight was left with a stone Waka, Waka's face wearing a shit-eating grin, despite his status. Blight tried bringing a sword down on Waka, but had his blade bounce off of a green shield that appeared right before the strike.
Frustrated, disappointed, and needing to plan the next move, Blight went back to the library.
The sun deities were back in the castle, landing in the center of the empty throne room.
"Will Waka be okay?" Asked Celestia.
"Raw." Mouthed Amaterasu.
"Right. Wolf-talk. That could be a problem if we don't have an interpreter."
Ammy just stared at her. She pointed toward Celestia's horn, then to her head.
"You want me to read your thoughts?"
Ammy did another one of those wolf shrugs that, while they still didn't make much sense, were still easy to understand.
Celestia formed the attachment with Amaterasu's mind, a simple task, one that she had an unnatural amount of practice with when she was bored. The thoughts were projected outward, as if directly spoken.
"-nd I'm telling you it won't work."
"What evidence can you base that on."
Celestia jumped a little at the argument, there were multiple voices in the wolf's head, everyone of which seemed to be in an argument.
"We can't leave that many innocents in the curse when we could be doing something." Huffed what sounded like a stallion.
"Obviously." Spoke a feline voice. "In case you didn't notice, all of us know demons are bad."
"Be silent, Kabegami, we are not alone in our thoughts anymore."
While there was no physical presence of it, Celestia could feel the focus of the voices switching to her.
"Greetings, Celestia." This voice was odd, it sounded like a serpent, yet at the same time the voice sounded like it was coming from under water.
"Umm, hello." She responded.
"We can't all talk to her, she wouldn't know who she's talking to." It already seemed another argument was under way.
"Fine, rock, paper, scissors to decide who talks."
Surprisingly, the voices became silent, apparently focusing on the game. Amaterasu looked unfazed, sitting quietly on the floor of the throne room, staring at Celestia as if everything was normal.
"We win!" Announced a trio of voices.
"You are the only ones with fingers." Asserted another voice.
"We win!" They announced again.
"Row." Amaterasu spoke verbally.
Celestia wasn't sure if it was fine to talk now, it didn't seem to be difficult to cease all progress.
"We're waiting, princess." Spoke one of the voices.
"Right, first of all, who are you?"
"You are currently talking to Hanagami, the triumvirate of flora gods. We consist of Sakigami, Hasugami, and Tsutagami. That is of relatively low importance now, you must have other questions."
The voice spoke very quickly, it seemed that whichever of the three was speaking, he was skimming-over the introductions as much as possible.
"Well okay then." Celestia was starting to get more accustomed to the unusual oddities that seemed to be surrounding her recently. "I guess first of all I would like to know what will happen to Waka and the ponies in Ponyville."
"They will be fine. Even in the demon's abyssal night the gods have eyes. It would seem Waka has found a way to protect himself for the time being, and the demons will not bother with the citizens."
"That's good I suppose. Now I must ask, why are there so many voices in this wolf's head?"
"You have already been told that this wolf is a god, and that much is true. What you may not realize is that she is responsible for the creation of us, the celestial gods. She is, quite literally, our divine mother."
"That's informative, but you haven't answered my question."
The voice paused for a minute before continuing, it voice was a little different but almost the same, whoever had been talking must have switched with one of the other two. "Over the course of many years, we were forced to flee to the heavens, for our own protection. As our mother journeyed to rid the land of it's evil, she found us, one by one, and accepted a part of each of us into herself. While we are far from what we used to be, Amaterasu allowed us sanctuary until we can regain our bodies. Until then, we maintain a conscious domicile in our mother."
It was a slightly hard to follow situation, but it was presented with enough confidence and sincerity to make it believable. "If I may ask, how many of you are... in there?"
"All fifteen of us currently reside within Amaterasu."
"Fifteen, every celestial god."
Blight was reeling within the library of Ponyville, thoughts and images had been invading his mind for days now. Admittedly not much different than the norm but theses thoughts were not his. He couldn't even think clearly enough to plot effectively and he knew that if he couldn't plan, the army couldn't move. Demons make perfect invaders, and even better defenders, but planning was not a typical trait of a demon. With the only possible tactician out of commission, they were vulnerable.
Blight was a prideful demon, his very life had been born from the countless killings of the sword Goldnail, he was battle in physical form. Unfortunately, even a soldier has to take a knee when he needs assistance. Blight did an act that demons had not been associated with since their conception.
He knelt down and prayed.
As he chanted to himself, the interior of the library darkened and swayed, from the outside it would look like an aquarium of darkness within the building. Across the city, figures from the shadows stepped out of their hovels. The various demons and spirits twisted and contorted across the town, the entity to whom the prayer was addressed was feeding. The demons cried out in joy for being able to do their part.
Atop the library, the twin demons paused their repairs out of respect.
A certain large demon paused it's patrol around Waka's statue to do the same.
The vicious presence left Ponyville, leaving it dead silent for a few moments before demons across the town burst into cheers, crying for their eventual victory.
"How long does it take for you to recover your bodies?" Asked Celestia, hopeful for assistance.
"We have been resting for a very long time." Spoke the third of the trio. "We would most likely be able to appear whenever we desire. However, we are strongest together, and would prefer such a status until the danger has passed. This is not something that can be negotiated, at most we would allow a single one of us to leave at a time."
"Because then you wouldn't be able to defend yourselves as well."
It was silent a moment. "What should we do about the demons?"
She was afraid that this would start another argument but there wasn't even a peep. "You must gather your forces." Stated a yet unidentified voice.
"You mean for me to raise an army to combat the demons?"
There was silence. "It is shameful to involve your people but it is also inevitable, we can not destroy all of those demons by ourselves. You should gather as many of your warriors as possible within this city."
"What about the other towns, they will not be left unguarded while this conflict occurs." She was firm, she didn't care who she was talking to, nothing was going to convince the princess to leave her ponies open to attack.
"Of course they may have a guard, but answer me this: only a complete army will be able to stop the demon's advances, so what is the point of leaving troops in other towns and leaving the capital to chance?"
"The point is that it's the right thing to do." She said while narrowing her eyes at the invisible voice.
"Ease up, Moegami." Slurred another voice. "It isn't going to just... happen because you say so." The voice was apparently getting quite a buzz going.
"I see his point regardless. I shall corral the guard and reduce the border patrol, it should increase our present army by almost thirty-five percent."
"Good, that should be a passable army for the time being. We still have much to discuss, but it can come later. You will need to rest and gather your commanders."
"I have led an army before, goodnight Amaterasu." As she exited the throne room, she turned back towards the wolf. "And good night Amaterasu's imaginary friends."
Before she got too far away for the spell to wear off, the drunken voice could be heard laughing in the room.
Waka kept his eyes closed, he had never been cursed before but he wouldn't allow it to show him up. All around him chaos swayed but he remained seated within his own mind, legs crossed and eyes closed. He rubbed his thumb against the talisman in his pocket, without it, he would have been enveloped in the madness immediately, no willpower would have changed that. He had used charms before, but even he wasn't sure about their prolonged effectiveness within a curse like this. He wouldn't lose hope, he continued to pray.
Celestia wasn't even sure what was happening anymore, she was pretty much going by the moment. This development was good... okay maybe it wasn't good per se but it at least gave her a reprieve from the constant craziness that had been assaulting her for the last few hours.
Just a few hours, it sounded very odd when she thought of it like that. In a few hours she had come face-to-face with demons, seen the town of Ponyville enveloped in the third evil to attack the town this year, watched Waka get turned into a statue, and possibly discovered that Amaterasu may be violently schizophrenic. She wanted to visit Luna in her infirmary room before going to bed but she just couldn't find the energy, she was probably fine, otherwise she would have found the castle in an uproar.
"Are we in agreement?"
Fourteen voices gave a quick. "Hm!"
"Good, let us not make a mockery of ourselves, Yumigami, Kabegami, we are trusting you."
"We're trusting Yumigami at least." Squeaked a tiny voice.
"Don't say something so confrontational, Tachigami, I may just mistake you for a meal." Purred the feline voice.
Celestia awoke with a pleasant yawn. She was glad for the chance to sleep, even if pressing matters would need to be dealt with that day.
She had quickly teleported into the throne room. Instead of finding breakfast, she found a quite different scene.
Her guards appeared to be sticking to the walls.
"P-Princess!" Stammered one of the soldiers trying to detach himself from the overly affectionate wall. "N-n-nothing to worry about! Just some problems..."
"With the walls I'm guessing?"
"Um...yes." He stated dumbly.
Celestia could already think of someone to blame... but Waka wasn't here so it was probably Amaterasu instead.
"Hello princess." Spoke a voice above her. Celestia turned and nearly had her heart stop from the large pair of eyes staring at her from a few inches away. It was a gigantic cat, at least as large as Amaterasu, and it was sitting on the wall.
Not climbing, not scaling, sitting, perfectly relaxed.
"You're guards are a rude bunch, they wouldn't allow me breakfast." It moaned as it licked at it's paw. It's fur was the same snow white as Amaterasu's.
"Are you one of Amaterasu's... guests?" She really didn't know the correct term for this situation.
"I'm Kabegami, goddess of walls, a pleasure." She gave a quick nod to Celestia before adjusting her perch on the wall.
"Why did you think it was necessary to glue my guards to the walls?" It took a lot of effort to ask that question with a straight face.
"They aren't glued, how barbaric. They can move just as freely as me, they're just doing it wrong. Watch." She hopped off of the wall, landing on the floor and quickly made her way towards one of the guards trying to reach the floor. She headbutted his hindquarters, launching him a few feet in the air. Instead of falling, the soldier fell sideways, right back onto the wall. Although he looked nervous from his new position, he slowly moved his hooves, placing them underneath himself and slowly getting up. He glanced around and, noticing that he was now standing on the perfectly vertical wall, did a small trot in a circle on the wall. The other guards saw his actions and stopped trying to reach the floor, instead drawing themselves up on the wall.
It didn't take long for the entire guard to begin walking around the rooms foundations, exploring the room like foals.
Celestia just stared, it was difficult to process the emotion for the situation. On one hand, they were unharmed and looked completely hilarious. On the other hand, they didn't appear to have a way to actually get down, which was worrisome.
"They'll be fine~." Purred Kabegami, sitting on one of the guard's saddles, taking a free ride around the room. "I'll make sure to get them all down eventually~."
"If you are one of Amaterasu's... acquaintances, are you all here?" Celestia had needed to fly to continue their conversation, the guard Kabegami was riding didn't seem to even be aware he had a passenger.
"No, it's just me and Yumigami." She responded lazily, swatting at the guard's plume that rose from his helmet.
"Where is Yumigami then?"
The cat let out a small chuckle. "You tell me, Amaterasu seems to like you, who might the moon goddess like?"
That wasn't a riddle so much as it was a waste of time, Celestia warped herself to the hospital wing, hopefully she wouldn't find a similar situation here. Although having the moon goddess stick Luna to the moon might be just as mentally scarring as it would be ironic.
Luckily, she arrived at the regular boring castle hospital, the staff moving quickly when they needed to, which was rare, and the faint smell of disinfectant in the air.
Celestia heard a faint whack in the direction of Luna's room, she turned to follow it.
It was louder now, it sounded like someone was slapping a pillow very hard.
Celestia was just glad it wasn't the sound of bones breaking, as long as it wasn't that she was ready for whatever she saw in that room. She opened the door and quickly stepped inside.
Where she found Luna laying in her bed, molding what looked like green clay for a few seconds before a rabbit, currently sitting on her head, smacked the lump with a gigantic hammer it was somehow lifting. After the strike, Luna kneaded the dough-like substance once-more.
Brain: action?: /Inquiry/perceive
Invalid action: cannot perceive: rebooting brain...
... reboot failed
"Lu...na..." She honestly wasn't quite sure what this situation was, the guards on the walls was at least describable, it was guards on walls. This just had too many factors to pin-down.
"Oh sister! We're so glad to see you! You should really try this, we find it to be very relaxing and fun." Luna gave her greeting without missing a beat in the kneading, drawing her hooves back right before the large mallet came down.
"Luna, I'll be direct with you, what is this?"
Luna broke a large piece of the green clay off and tossed it in her mouth before chewing. "Esh moshe... eh tashe rehl guhd!"
"It's mochi sister, it's like candy."
The rabbit was staring daggers at Luna but held it's tongue, it went back to smacking the hammer down on the lump of not-quite-ready mochi.
"And who is your guest, if I may ask?"
The rabbit didn't respond, it continued to pound.
"Wait until we are done sister, then we can talk."
The odd spectacle continued for about fifteen minutes before the rabbit let out a sigh and hopped off of Luna's head and down onto her bed. It set it's large mallet to the side, likely for further use, and finally turned to address Celestia. "I am Yumigami, goddess of the moon. You are Celestia, and this, your sister Luna."
That wasn't even a question.
"That is correct."
A fact that she would keep to herself while that mallet, and this rabbit's apparent temper, was present.
"Of course it's correct, how would I forget my own name?"
These were questions better left unanswered. "I have met with Kabegami already; tell me, why are you here?"
"We're here to test-out our mortal bodies and tell the others of any changes or facts about bodies that we may have forgotten."
"Where is Amaterasu?"
She was surprised to see the rabbit's lips form into a sort of half frown, half snarl, and not just because of the physical impossibility of it. "I have no idea where she is, your guess is as good as mine."
"How long have you been here?"
"I've been 'here' for the last hour or so. I expect to stay until sundown."
"That would be fine, so long as there isn't any trouble."
Yumigami hopped back onto Luna's head, using her horn to steady herself before finding a comfortable position to lay in. "There won't be, now please go, you must be quiet in a hospital."
Celestia couldn't help but take a quick glance at the large mallet to see the absurdity of that statement. Not wanting to start a conflict that didn't need to be started, she exited the room and closed the door behind her.
"Princess!" It was Shining Armor, he had a bandage around his horn but otherwise looked normal. "I didn't know you were back from whatever it was had you in a rush. If I may ask, what was the issue?"
There wasn't any harm in letting Shining know, his involvement would be basically guaranteed if a battle was going to occur soon. "There was a problem in Ponyville, nobody was harmed but they could be considered captives."
"Captives! Is... are the elements alright?"
"They're fine, relatively speaking. They aren't in any danger so you don't have to worry."
"I guess that isn't... quite as bad." He agreed. "So who is the enemy? Gryphons? Diamond Dogs?"
Celestia just let a sigh escape. "Let's gather all the commanders, this will be difficult enough to explain once."
The military commanders were currently exercising their greatest skill, the ability to grind all military planning to a halt. It had been difficult enough to convince them that demons had taken one of the towns, convincing them that one of their best bets was to rely on a small wolf and effeminate man in a pink robe... that was a different matter.
Unlike the gods that she had been meeting with today, these were some state blowhards that she could handle.
"Marvelous." She uttered the one word and waited.
"Ambitious!" Shouted one general.
"Infectious!" Yelled another.
"Joyous." She prodded again.
"Are we all in agreement then?" She asked.
"That's what I thought, dismissed."
The generals proudly marched out of the room, leaving Shining Armor sitting in his seat, smacking a hoof to his head. "Must. Remove. The stupid. Peeling at my brain."
"They may be a little simple, but they know how to keep morale up." She offered from her own seat across the table.
"Why can't we have an officer that actually knows how to lead a battle and knows how to use a tie that isn't clip-on?"
"Because we already have you for that." She said with a smirk. "You tend to be competitive, Shining."
He shrinked a little from the praise. "Oh, right."
She rose from her seat. "Come, we have to start planning to rescue the elements and Waka."
"Waka has been captured?" Asked Shining with a raised brow.
"Yes, I thought I told you."
He zipped away. "I'll be back tonight! I'm taking Cadence on the town tonight!" He trotted out of sight, whistling to himself.
Celestia was sure of it now, Waka and Amaterasu's presence must release some hormone that makes ponies do stupid things.