A groan eminated from a large, white bed centered in a grandly decorated room. In it, a brown stallion with a tan mane lay under the pure sheets, slowly regaining conciousness. "Where am I?" He asked, looking around. Noticing the regal appearance of the room, he shook his head. "I'm back at the castle. Was all that... just a dream?" He flipped the bedsheets back, suppressing a gasp. A patch of his coat was blackened, a sickening reminder of what had happened. "Guess it can't be that easy," he muttered, "Guess I should go see what in tartarus is going on here."
The stallion rose from his bed, moving slowly toward the door, which opened on it's own as it was enveloped by a golden light. The stallion stopped, surprised and somewhat fearful, as the princess let herself into the room he'd woken in. Seeing his reaction to her entry, she waited for him to start the conversation.
"What was that?" The stallion asked her, his eyes shifting from side to side, taking in every detail.
"What was what?" The princess asked him, cocking her head slightly.
"You... you executed me." The stallion said, "But i'm here... how is this possible?"
"Ah, that," Celestia said, "I can see how it might be a bit confusing. Think about it this way. I could have given you a new identity and sent you on your way, but the folks of Manehattan would have kept searching. They may have discovered your life wherever I move you."
"... So you gave me a mock execution to get them to stop searching," the stallion didn't necessarily agree with the method, but he had to admit it worked. "Just one thing, though. You don't know where you'll be moving me yet?"
Celestia nodded politely, "I have some idea, but i have yet to decide entirely."
"Well, then, what about my new identity? It might be good to get used to my new name before I move." The stallion looked at the princess expectantly.
"Actually, that's what I was here for." She handed him a small stack of papers, which on inspection included a passport, identification, and a single sheet of information about his new alias.
"Wow, these are actually quite detailed..." the stallion looked them over, before glancing back up to the Princess. "Thank you for helping me. Even though it didn't seem like you were at the time."
"Of course," the princess responded, "I couldn't be a reliable ruler if I wasn't a reliable pony. I'll always keep my word."
The stallion nodded, “If you'll excuse me, your highness, I believe I need to get used to my new identity.”
“Of course, take all the time you need.” Celestia answered, “I have a carriage waiting for you to take you to Ponyville. We'll see how you settle in there, before I decide whether to keep you there or move you elsewhere.”
The stallion nodded, before turning his attention to the papers. His new name was Zephyr. He was born to an artist by the name of Color Splash, who wasn't exactly famous in circles of high social standing. He never knew his father, as his mother and him had been abandoned when he was conceived, although his mother had told him some basic stories about him.
Color Splash had been told by his father that he was an off-duty Royal Guard, but after his disappearance she had asked around and found that no records of him existed. Zephyr had attended basic art classes in the past, but at the persistence of his teachers had ceased lessons, as he wasn't “suited for the arts”. He chuckled at this; He really wasn't too good at painting, and he could almost remember a time when somepony had said something like this to him...
His alias had taken up a life of wandering after exiting art school, and had done several odd jobs to keep himself afloat. Art instructor was listed, earning another small chuckle.
Something was bothering him. This information in the papers... names and places had changed around, and some details... but most of it was true. This brought up more questions; How did she know his past? Do they keep detailed reports on every vampire in Equestria? How would such an operation work?
Zephyr changed papers, looking through his passport instead of his new history. The first stamp he noticed was from Manehattan, causing him to reminisce on old times. His old friends and colleagues, whom he could never see again. Shaking himself free of these thoughts, he looked at the rest of the stamps. Apparently, he'd never been further east of Manehattan, but he'd visited almost every city between there and Appleoosa in the west.
Convinced he could put on a decent masquerade, he stored the papers in his saddlebag and cantered into a nearby washroom. Running a brush through his blackened coat, he was glad to see the soot would just wipe off. The last thing he needed was to stand out more than necessary. He returned to the room the princess was kind enough to let him use, and hoisted his saddlebag onto his back with his teeth. Then he trotted out of the castle, towards the waiting chariot, which would convey him to a new home.
Entering the gardens, he looked around at the beautiful flowers and statues before deciding to be on his way. He couldn't name all of them, but there were a few he recognized. Tulips, Roses, Daffodils, and Sunflowers lined the flowerbeds, but the only statue he could recognize was one whose name was passed down through generations of vampires: Discord. His ancestors had clashed with this ancient being of chaos before, and it had been quite the tale. He trotted out of the garden and to the waiting chariot.
“Zephyr?” A guard by the chariot called, obviously making sure he was the pony they were waiting for.
He nodded. Zephyr realized it would take awhile to get fully used to his new name, but at least it sounded cool; It almost sounded vampiric in origin.
The guard, a unicorn, opened the door of the carriage using his magic, allowing the brown and tan earth pony to leap in. He sat across from another guard, in armor which was a dark blue, but it was different from the dusky blue of the night guard's armor.
“Hello sunshine.” The strange guard spoke, “Before we go any further, I want to make it clear that you didn't see me. I don't technically exist. If you come looking for me, you won't find me.”
Zephyr nodded warily, “So, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Well, I'd say it's because of your colorful background. But, then again, it's mostly crimson, isn't it?” The stallion guard joked dryly, “A little vampire humor, please excuse me.”
Zephyr tensed. Whoever this guard was, he knew more about Zephyr than he'd have liked. But if he's here, he must be on the Princess' payroll. The fact that they had clandestine guards answered a couple of his questions about being watched.
“Relax. I'm not here to harm you.” The guard said, “I'm here to get you settled in your new home.” He shrugged, “At least, those are my orders.”
Zephyr sighed, “Well, for my sake, I hope it works out. I don't think I like this secrecy.”
“Don't worry, kid.” The guard spoke, “Let's just focus on what we need to do.”
“Kid?” Zephyr spoke, losing some patience. His ears twitched irritably.
“I realize you're probably a lot older than you look.” The guard answered, “But, to me, you look like a kid, so I'm going to call you kid. Not a lot you can do about it.” He grinned, “At least, not without causing some... incidents. And nopony wants that.”
Zephyr sighed. He knew all too well what this stallion was saying was true – he couldn't really do anything; He wasn't going to fight this guard, that's for sure. Just imagining what the princess would do to him if he did made him shiver. He'd just have to deal with it.
“Now, we can't exactly drive you directly into the center of town. It'd just draw attention. Nah, we're going to drop you about ten miles or so from town. You'll walk the rest of the way, ensuring your identity is kept secret and that any connections to higher society are kept well under wraps. You understand that if you're identified, the princess can't have any provable connections with you, right?”
Zephyr nodded, looking glum.
“Good. Well, we're almost there. Get ready.” The guard stated, as the carriage rolled to a slow stop. “Alright, you should get into town by dusk, if you trot.”
Zephyr leaped out of the carriage, and began trotting down the road toward town. He stopped and looked over his shoulder, watching the carriage turn and head east. After it faded from sight, he galloped in the direction of town, in an attempt to make up lost time.
He made it to town as the sun was setting, bathing everything in a crimson light. He slowed his pace into a comfortable canter as he trekked down the street. The buildings had some interesting designs to them; There was a carousel, a gingerbread house... and a tree that made up the library. Suddenly, he heard a long, drawn out gasp from his left. Instinctively turning in that direction, a pink pony floated in the air, looking down at him with her dainty, rounded muzzle wide open.