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A Night With The Night
(Takes place during “The Best Night Ever”)
I sighed, and looked at myself in the mirror. My pony self stared back at me, and I once again wondered, “What the hell am I doing?”
Idly, I tried once again to tighten the collar on my neck, only to end up accidentally strangling myself for a few seconds. Afterwards, I snarled and tossed it into the corner of my room and glared at it in silent fury.
When it didn’t burn up in a blaze of white flames, I just shook my head, and continued to stare at the reflection in the mirror. My suit, carefully tailored by Rarity, was barely what one would call presentable. Parts of it were crinkled, or hanging loosely in the wrong areas.
“Seriously, what the hell am I doing? I’m not one for these socializing party things,” I lamented. “I’m not…fancy, or anything like that. I’m a Traveler! A performer!” I slammed my hoof on the hairbrush that was in front of me, causing it to launch into the air, where I neatly caught it in my mouth. “It isn’t in my nature to act like one of them fancy ponies.”
“Then why are you even going?” Torrentican asked from behind me.
I whirled around in an instant, and hurled the hairbrush at him with as much power as I could muster. A sickly purple glow encompassed the brush, and he flung it back at me with a bemused tilt of his head.
“Oh, Omnius,” he said in a monotonous voice. “Honestly, I fear that you’ll never be able to expect these things. At all.”
The stone gray unicorn trotted forward, a strange glimmer in his lifeless eyes. “There is no need to be so tense, my ‘heroic’ counterpart,” he said, each word dripping with venom. “I merely wish to parlay with you for a moment.”
I growled, and he merely flicked his head forward, causing my chair to shoot out from my desk. Before I could collect my wits, the chair had pushed itself underneath me, while tendrils of ice rapidly spread up its sides. In almost no time at all, my lower half was frozen to the chair, and Torrentican had sat himself upon the edge of my bed.
“There. Was that so hard?” he chuckled.
“Besa mi culo,” I whispered.
“Terribly sorry, but I’m afraid I’m not in the right mindset to speak Spanish.” His horn flashed, and two glasses filled with a liquid I couldn’t identify appeared from literally out of nowhere. He offered one to me, and asked, “Care for some tea?”
“I’m good,” I answered curtly. I wasn’t in the mood for joking around right now. The asshole had just broken through all of my home’s magical defenses and managed to sneak up on me without a single warning. I was kinda ticked, and frightened at the same time.
“Your funeral,” he said darkly, sipping at his own cup.
“So what is it you wanted to ‘parlay’ about?” I finally asked. May as well cut the bullshit, huh?
Torrentican shrugged. Quietly, he finished his drink, never once taking his eyes off of me. Eventually, he nodded, and said, “To put it simply, I am curious about something.”
“Curiosity killed the cat,” I warned him.
“Satisfaction brought it back.”
“Well played,” I grunted. “Get on with it then.”
“Very well, I shall not waste any more of your time than is necessary.” He got off of my bed, and walked closer to me, until I couldn’t see anything but his almost soulless eyes. In a slow, clear voice, he asked me, “What do you see in these ponies?”
“Come again?” was my witty reply.
“To be quite fair, Omnius, you have mostly had experience in dealing with humans, or the creations of them,” he elaborated. “Yet, these ponies…I must say, it’s strange how you deal with them. You always try to put on your best show, and you seem to crave their approval.”
“Now that’s not true,” I tried to protest.
“You are willingly accompanying six mares, and a dragon who is but a mere child, to a social gathering which you actively admit is not your style,” he pointed out instantly. “You are also fussing over whether or not you’ll meet their standards. It’s disgusting, really. But that’s not the point. I’m still waiting for an answer.”
I opened my mouth to answer, to let him know what I really thought, when I realized something.
I don’t know the answer to that.
Torrentican smiled, as if he were reading my mind, and said, “Ah, you see? Look at us, Omnius!” His horn flashed, and I found myself precariously balanced on the edge of the mountain overlooking Canterlot and Ponyville. Now in his human form, he placed the tip of his pointed shoe on the side of my chair, and gestured out at the world that lay before us in the pale moonlight.
“Look around us!” he cried out. “We are immortals! Free to go wherever our will takes us, and able to learn all of the secrets that are out there! By the Nine Hells, we can outlive kingdoms! When sentient beings look out into the stars, the reason they feel so incredibly small and worthless is because they can feel, in their heart of hearts, that we are out there, Traveling !” He spun my chair around, and forced me to look at his face.
For some reason, I felt compelled to take in every feature of his face once again. As much as it pains me to admit it, he actually looks more trustworthy than I do in my own human form. Light, healthy skin, as opposed to my dark, pimple-ridden complexion, a narrow face, smooth, glossy hair, and eyes that captivated anyone who stared into them.
He smiled, showing off his brilliant white teeth, and said, “We aren’t gods. No, that is something that I am glad we will never become. They can only observe the worlds, with minimal interference in most cases, while we are able to shape the course of history!”
“But nothing!” he spat. “You have interfered with time as much as I have, and you know it. After all, in how many instances have you stopped an apocalypse, and how many times have I created one?”
I remained silent.
“Exactly…In any case, I still ask you: What do you see in these ponies, and all sentient races for that matter, that makes you so willing to serve them?” He lashed out with his foot, and kicked my chair, sending me tumbling down the mountain. “I await your answer with extreme impatience!” he called out mockingly, before vanishing into the night.
Wordlessly, I let myself fall down the side of the mountain, and struggled against my icy bonds, to no avail though. Even as they smashed repeatedly against solid rock, they stubbornly refused to crack.
Well. This is gonna hurt in the morning, isn’t it?
I closed my eyes, and berated myself for my foolishness. I should have kicked Torrentican out of my home as soon as I saw him. I should have refused to listen to his words.
I should have remembered that I have the ability to light myself on fire at will. Then again, I probably couldn’t focus well enough to pull that off, what with me slamming my head against random outcroppings of rock every few seconds. Needless to say, there were only two things going through my head: Torrentican’s words, and the occasional bit of loose gravel that would fall into my ear.
Then, as if someone had asked, 'How could things get any worse for Omnius', I ran out of mountain to land on. I rolled off the edge of a cliff, and plummeted towards the ground uncontrollably.
“Fourteenth death, here I come!” I finally shouted while squeezing my eyes shut in anticipation of the upcoming landing. You know, I didn’t expect death by being frozen to a chair and kicked off of a mountain in a land of colorful ponies.
Seriously. Read that sentence again, and tell me if you thought that you would die like that. AND BE HONEST!
Then, as if life decided to troll me for the umpteenth time that day, the chair stopped in mid-air. Now, I say the chair did, because I still felt myself nearly thrown out of the chair. If it weren’t for the ice, I would’ve slid off of it.
Holy shit, that’s irony if I’ve ever seen it.
I slowly opened one eye to see that I was encompassed in a midnight blue aura. I was hanging about ten feet above the ground, with my head aimed directly at it.
“Cripes,” I choked out.
“Omnius? Art thou injured?” I heard somepony ask.
“Yeah, I’m fi-” The ice on my chair shattered suddenly, and my face smashed into the ground, sending my mind into darkness.
How many times have I gotten knocked out in these stories? No, really. How many times? Was it because someone out there KNEW I was gonna be too lazy to write out all the details, and would think that it was a convenient way to further the plot? Or is it because I’m that unlucky?
Either way, I think I’ve spent enough time in bed as is. Or, erm…unconsciousness…Grammar! DAMN YOU TO HELL!
I cracked my eyes open to find myself staring at the night sky…which twinkled, and shifted oddly with the wind.
Wait. That’s no sky…that’s a princess!
“Ah, thou art awake!” Luna said happily. “We were worried for thine safety, but it appears our magic was able to heal the worst of thine wounds.”
“Thanks,” I winced. She backed away, and I was startled to see that I was in her royal chambers at Canterlot Castle. Or at least what I imagined them to be...honestly, who else would have the night sky painted as a mural on their ceiling, and have a telescope used for stargazing aimed at the sky? “What happened?” I groaned out, rubbing the spot where I had reunited with the ground.
She shifted uneasily, and said, “We were, uh, patrolling Canterlot for threats! Yes, and we saw Torrentican force you off of the mountain. We flew over as soon as we could, and managed to save you.”
“Ah. Wait a second,” I frowned. “Why are you patrolling Canterlot during the Grand Galloping Gala? Shouldn’t you be mingling with the socialites down there?”
“What? Preposterous! Not when there is the threat of an attack on Equestria!” Luna shouted, almost slipping into the Royal Speakin’ voice. “Thou art surely jesting!”
“…No,” I stated. “Thou art- I mean, you’re not telling the whole truth!” Damn it, my thespian instincts are kicking in again.
Luna raised an eyebrow, and replied, “And what proof does thou have, that could support such a statement?”
I shrugged in response, and leaned against the wall next to the bed. I didn’t really have any evidence, but I could always try a bluff check. Maybe if I guessed something correctly…okay, got it:
“Well, you’re still getting used to the new future, as it were,” I suggested. “Maybe you’re not as adjusted as most folks would be left to believe. I mean, a thousand years is a long time to be gone.” A flash of sorrow shot through me, and I let out a heavy sigh. “Trust me, I speak from experience.”
The Princess of The Moon and Night tilted her head in confusion, and I grinned sardonically at her. “What, you didn’t think that you were the only being banished to some lonely godsforsaken rock, did you?” I asked.
“You…were banished once as well?”
“Oh, several times, actually. Not all of them as long as a thousand years, mind you, but close enough to remind me of how incredibly strange I am,” I whispered.
“But…how? You are a Traveler. You can Travel to any world, at any time. Why would you allow yourself to be banished in the first place?” she asked.
“Now that’s an easier question to answer than Torrentican’s!” I shifted back into human form, and stretched out my legs. “Anyways, it’s pretty simple: I felt like I deserved, or rather, needed it.”
I nodded. “Oh yeah. Trippy, ain’t it? I’m a Traveler, yet I was perfectly fine with sitting in one area for a few hundred years. Wanna know why?”
She gave me her, ‘No duh!’ look, and I chuckled.
“Right. Okay, well…I’m basically a never-ending battery of energy, and creation, thanks to the amount of power I’ve absorbed, gathered, and otherwise learned about as The Traveler. Unfortunately, with how unstable my mentality and power is, I have to keep it built up inside of me.” For emphasis, I snapped my fingers, and a spark jumped off from it. “I have to constantly keep mental shields up on my powers, and measure out my energy before using a spell, to keep it from all rushing out at the same time. One wrong twitch, and poof!” I snapped my fingers again, only this time a small fireball shot out and landed in a glass of water.
“Everything goes up in flames?” Luna asked.
“Something like that,” I muttered. “I’ve always gotta keep control over myself. Hell, even my Auras become more unstable over time. The Dark Auras are the best manifestation of that. Fun fact, did you know that there’s a Dark Aura for every power I have?”
She nodded, and said, “We have guessed as much. Thine memories of the power of darkness are still embedded within our mind.”
“Yeah. That was the uncontrolled form of my Shade Aura. Imagine what would happen if I lost control of myself during my Blaze Aura. I’d go from that, to Raging Inferno Aura,” I said, matter-of-factly. “It’s why I like to try and beat the problem with my own two hands first. Less chance of losing my cool that way.”
“Understandable…” Luna answered.
“That’s wildly off topic though,” I pointed out, steering the conversation back to its original point. “You haven’t answered my question about not being down at the party.”
Princess Luna said nothing, and instead chose to look out the window. While she thought of her own answer, I tried to figure out an answer to Torrentican’s question. I know I shouldn’t be letting it get to me, but the question was still there, lingering in the back of my mind.
Finally, Luna spoke up, and said, “We are not ready yet. Even now, though we are able to converse with thee in this manner, a roomful of pony nobles would not stand to be in my presence. Instead, we have elected to wait and reveal ourselves to the populace on a time where we would be more appreciated, and readily accepted.”
“Oh?” I asked. “When, and where for that matter, would that be then?”
“We had hoped to wait until Nightmare Night,” she replied. “It seems as if that would be the most appropriate time.”
“Huh.” Pony version of Halloween? Princess associated with night, and nightmares? Okay, that works! “More power to you then,” I stated. “Try Ponyville if you can. That’ll be a hoot.”
“We will have to take thee up on thine offer,” she said, bowing her head. “Now, what, pray tell, was that question that thou mentioned earlier?”
Uh-oh. EVASIVE MANUVERS! TURN SLIGHTLY TO THE LEFT! “What question?” I asked.
“Thou hast mentioned that thine enemy, Torrentican, asked you a question that was difficult for you to answer. I would like to hear it,” she said in a tone that left no room for argument.
My first childlike thought was to keep it to myself. She wouldn’t understand what I was trying to figure out, and would probably only make matters worse. But I quickly realized that she had to deal with the same problems. It was the same reason she didn’t want to go to the Gala. She wanted to make sure that her subjects would accept her, and ensure their safety and happiness. I think part of that was behind her origins as Nightmare Moon…
Words started spilling from my mouth, and I had told Luna everything. How Torrentican had broken into my home, his question, and the fact that I couldn’t think of a good enough answer.
“He wants to know what you see in ponies?” Luna asked for confirmation.
She put a hoof to her chin, and thought for a moment, before nodding. “Omnius, we wish for thou to climb upon our back.”
“Beg pardon?” I stuttered out.
“If it isn’t to thine liking, thou can simply be carried by my magic,” she offered. “But we are going to reveal the answer to thine riddle.”
“Uh…okay then?” I managed. Awkwardly, I positioned myself on Luna’s back, and gently gripped her sides with my legs.
As soon as I had gotten myself seated, Luna flared open her wings, and used her magic to throw open a set of double doors that led to a veranda overlooking the rest of Canterlot. She rushed forward, and launched herself into the sky, taking me along for the ride.
Together, we soared through the air, barely a couple feet above the mansions and estates of the rich populace. Barely a soul was in sight, minus the large gathering down in the courtyard and castle. There WAS a gala, after all. That aside, it was quite peaceful. The air gently blowing my hair back, the feeling of Luna’s wings beating beneath me…and by the Gods, if you could have seen the beauty of the stars in the night sky. In a way, it made me pity everypony at the gala. They were relying on purely superficial things, and only judging one another based on their connections, their appearances, and faces, when true nobility and beauty was right above their heads.
I may have said this a million times, but I love looking at the night sky. It reminds me of how many places I have to Travel, and how many things I still have to learn. It keeps me humble.
Wait a second…the gala…
Oh no, THE GALA! The girls must be worried sick! And Spike! Shite, I promised to hang out with him during all this…Damn it, Torrentican.
Luna sensed my distress, and said, “Do not worry. When you were wounded, I sent word to the bearers that you would be unable to show up for the festivities tonight.”
Well, there’s one crisis averted.
After a few more minutes of aimless gliding, Luna took us to the more rural side of town, with shops and small apartment buildings everywhere. She pointed my attention to one building in particular, and asked me, “What do thine Traveler eyes see in yonder bakery?”
THEY’RE TAKING THE HOBBITS TO ISENGUARD!
Instead of yelling that, and ruining the moment, I stared into the window…and lo and behold, there were my friends. Spike, Rarity, Twilight, and the rest of them were sitting in the doughnut shop, laughing about something. All of the mares’ dresses were torn, or otherwise messed up in some manner, which raised my curiosity. What the hell happened to them?
“Well?” Luna asked.
I snapped myself out of it, and answered, “I see my friends…and a very good looking doughnut.”
“Right, sorry. But…yeah, that’s all I see in there.”
“Dost thou feel any unease about their appearance?”
I scanned them again, and shook my head. “Not that I’m aware of, other than their dresses.”
“Then thine eyes can only see friends, and nothing else?” she asked.
“…I think I understand,” I nodded. “Torrentican asked me what I see in these ponies. Why I want to ‘serve’ them.”
“Indeed. Thou can only see thine friends, whilst we can only see our subjects, who we must always protect,” Luna said. “Not because of our duty or loyalty to them, but because it is what our heart tells us that we must do. Nothing more and nothing less.”
“Right…You’re a princess, and I’m their friend…no, not just that,” I realized. “I’m someone who can’t stand by and see someone who’s in pain. I’ve gotta do everything I can to help them. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s…”I hesitated slightly, before saying, “Because it’s who I am.”
“And who are you?”
“I am Nathan Traveler, Omnius The Traveling Guardian, and Sean Nathaniel Brandenburg. I promised myself that I would help others, and that’s exactly what I’m gonna do,” I said in a proud, confident voice.
Luna smiled softly, as I climbed off of her back and onto a nearby rooftop. Shifting into Pony form, I bid the princess good night, and slid off of the roof.
And nearly squashed some poor pony with a heavy cello case strapped to her back. Luckily, the case pretty much bounced me off of her and onto the road instead.
“Pardon me!” I apologized, scrambling to help the grey earth pony up. “I really didn’t mean to do that…say, you look familiar.”
The pony dusted herself off, and said, “Hmph. Well, I shouldn’t be surprised. After that pink pony nearly ruined my performance…but, I must admit, it was entertaining to say the least.”
“Uh, come again?”
“Oh dear, terribly sorry. I haven’t introduced myself.” The pony held herself up in a dignified manner, and extended her hoof in a remarkably lady-like fashion. “My name is Octavia Philharmonica.”
Instead of my usual name, I found myself answering, “And my name is Treble Cliff.” I gently shook her hoof, and her eyes glimmered with recognition.
“My word, you are the famous composer? I must say, I am a fan of your pieces,” she smiled. “In particular, I greatly enjoyed your ‘Ecstasy of Gold’. The crescendo of it was particularly inspiring.”
“Oh? Well, I’ve actually had the great pleasure of listening to some of your performances!” I replied. “You really did a great job with that ‘Ode to Joy’ symphony, by Beethoofen, correct?”
“Absolutely. You know, I would actually love to perform some of your pieces if I ever get the opportunity.”
I reached into the pocket of my suit (somehow still clinging to my pony form), and hoofed her a small card. “Here then. Whenever you wish to work together, give me a signal, hm?”
We parted ways, and I trotted into the shop, a large smile on my face.
And then was taken completely by surprise when I heard Princess Celestia say, “Open fire!”
“Wait, what?!” I attempted to duck, but I was too slow. For the next few seconds, I was pelted by a vicious array of sprinkled, doughy confectionaries. After my baptism by bakery, I stuck my head out of the pile of doughnuts, and deadpanned, “Alright, I think you got me.”
Pinkie hurled one more doughnut at my face for good measure, and everypony in the shop burst out into laughter when I caught it in my mouth. “Why the bombardment?” I asked while I bit into the pastry.
“Stress relief,” Twilight snickered.
“Perfectly understandable then. Toss me a cream filled doughnut?”
Pinkie pointed to a spot next to my face, and said, “There’s one right there.”
“Thanks!” I then snatched it into my mouth, and chewed it thoughtfully. “So, how was your best night ever?”
More jelly filled doughnuts collided with my face, smearing my glasses.
“Not too good then?”