There were about three things going through my mind at that exact moment:
1) Why did I let them surround me like that?
2) How, and why, did they react so fast?
3) When the hell am I gonna draw a smiley face on the moon?
As you can see, even in the middle of what could potentially escalate into something big, I still have my priorities straight.
I felt the hackles on the back of my neck rise as one of the guards stepped forward, a stoic glare on his face. He still had that same color scheme as the rest of the guards, but his helmet had a larger crest on it, making me think he was the one in charge of the small squad that had me and Scorch surrounded.
“Is there a problem, occifer?” I asked, mispronouncing the word on purpose. The guard continued to glare at me, not amused by my small attempt at humor. I raised my arms in a complacent gesture, and said, “Alright, alright, take it easy. We’re not here to cause any trouble. My friend and I just want to see the princesses, and deliver a gift to them.”
Without warning, a pair of cast iron shackles were slapped together on my wrists. I started in surprise, while the guard told me, “You are under arrest.”
“What?!” I half-shouted. “On what grounds?”
If looks could kill, this guy would’ve killed me a million times over. Just from that one sentence. In a disgusted tone filled with hatred and anger, he snarled, “For the murder of Lacy Frills, Bronze Coins, and their son, Copper Coins.”
“That’s impossible!” I protested, my mind trying to figure out what was going on. Here I was, apparently getting arrested for a crime I hadn’t even done! For that matter, why were they arresting ME?
His hoof cracked against the side of my head, and he shouted, “Don’t you dare try to deny it! We have an eyewitness account that states they were attacked by a previously unheard of monster, and that monster was still in the city!”
That…unfortunately, there’s not much I can do to argue against that. From what I’ve studied, I’m literally the only Werehog in existence on this world. There were no previous entries to say that they had been here before, and the surprise on everypony’s face (what could be seen of it underneath their prejudice) coincided with everything else.
Then again, there’s another explanation for it. The downside to that is that the guard won’t believe me if I tell him that. So, I’ll have to play dumb…or, as many people tell me, stop acting smart.
“Look, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said in a controlled voice. “I just came into town this morning-”
“Didn’t you bucking hear me?” The guard interrupted. “The murder happened TODAY.”
My temper flared, and I growled, “Let me finish, featherbrains.”
His hoof shot forward again, but this time I was ready. I raised my arms, and caught his attack on the chain connecting the shackles. With a quick twist, I had flipped him onto his back, and pinned him to the ground. As the other guards started forward to subdue me, Scorch pulled me off of the guard. Apparently, they hadn’t arrested her, meaning I still had a chance to get myself out of this.
I growled at the guard again, and said, “I’ve been at an ice cream parlor all day. Ask Scorch, and ask the pony who runs it.”
Scorch nodded vigorously from my side, and explained everything to the guard. Oh sure, they were willing to listen to a dragon, but not me? Gotta love these guards and their priorities. I guess this definitely means whoever killed those ponies did it single handedly.
Finally, they agreed to schedule a supervised audience with Princess…Cadence. OH COME ON! I know she’s the only one who can see me, but Amber made this for Celestia and Luna! Why can’t I…
I took in a deep breath to calm myself down. No sense in getting angry over it. Just…see if I can ask her to at least take the glass to them.
The guards told me to wait until the next morning to speak to Cadence. In the meantime, I would be allowed to camp out in the gardens. By the way they were glaring at me, it wasn’t really an offer, so much as a demand. Well, at least it beats sleeping in a hotel.
Oh wait. No it doesn’t.
Scorch curled up on the ground next to me, while I sat down and crossed my legs. I’m not gonna be going anywhere tonight. So, my lack of sleep means that I’ll have to do something productive.
I’d been doing that more often than I used to in an effort to learn how to control my anger. Not only that, but it allowed me to clear my head, giving me a chance to…well, relax. It was calming. Refreshing. I could always meditate, and finish it feeling…wiser, somehow, if that makes any sense.
I closed my eyes, and opened my mind to the world around me…
The moon was nowhere to be seen in the skies, and the stars themselves looked dimmer than usual. Even the torch light from the small hamlet that sat at the foot of the mountain did little to stave off the oncoming darkness.
A perfect night for Torrentican to move on to the next stage of his plan.
His experiment with Amber’s death had been a critical success. Not only that, but he had used the opportunity to discover another mirror dimension that connected to Equestria. It bordered on the edge of Tartarus, and was completely empty…
Or, at least, it HAD been. Fifteen years had been ample time for Torrentican to fill that land to the brim with Shadow Stalkers, and slowly increase their power. His plan was coming together, all according to schedule.
His next task was to create more Blood Portals to connect the realms. The most efficient way for him to do that, however, was something he looked forward to.
Blood Portals needed two things to be properly powered: The obvious one, blood, and the…catalyst.
Torrentican smirked as he looked at the village, his four arms eagerly clenching in anticipation. He chuckled lightly to himself, and moved towards the village, his eyes glowing with maniacal devotion to the goddess who had sent him here. Takhisis would be pleased with how he was going to ensure her rise to power.
And pleased with how he would further his own strength in the process.
“These creatures…” he whispered, slowly walking towards the unaware and sleeping village. “They have lived far too long in peace, and comfort. It’s sickening…they think that they can sing their nightmares away…”
He snapped his fingers, and sent a massive fireball into the center of the small village. An ear splitting screech followed in the fireball’s wake, disturbing the ponies from their slumber. Some of them instantly panicked, and charged outside…
Right where Torrentican was waiting for them.
Just to inspire even more fear, he snapped his fingers yet again, filling the night air with dark and foreboding music. This was the key to this plan: By taking one of the forces that ponies used to give themselves comfort, and turning it against them, it would grant him the chaos he needed to fuel his magic.
He jumped forward into the crowd, and grabbed the nearest pony, a cream colored Pegasus with green eyes. The pony struggled in his grasp, soliciting a malicious smile from the Traveler of Evil.
“What is this feeling
Of power and drive
I've never known?
I feel alive!”
He snapped the pony’s neck simply by tightening his grip, and flung the carcass at a group of fleeing children, terrifying them into running even faster than they were before.
“Where does this feeling
Of power derive,
Making me know
Why I'm alive?
“Like the night, it's a secret,
Sinister dark and unknown.
I do not know what I seek,
Yet I'll seek it alone!”
With another snap of his fingers, large obsidian stakes erupted from the ground, impaling a few of the panicked ponies. Chaos reigned supreme, and Torrentican drank in their fear, storing its power. Blood slowly dripped down onto the stakes, filling small hollows that were carved into the bottom of them.
“I have a thirst
That I cannot deprive.
Never have I felt so alive!
“There is no battle
I couldn't survive -
Feeling like this -
In a futile effort, some of the ponies tried grouping together, each of them grasping a crude club in their mouths. Torrentican laughed at them, his arms snatching up more innocent foals, and hurling them towards the wooden stakes. Each of them were impaled brutally…but they still suffered, forced to endure unbearable agony. They cried for their parents to save them…
But Torrentican would not be stopped.
“Like the moon, an enigma,
Lost and alone in the night
Damned by some heavenly stigma,
But blazing with light!”
The tempo of the music increased, as he spun forward, his talons singing for more blood.
“It's the feeling of being alive!
Filled with evil, but truly alive!
It's the truth that cannot be denied!
It's the feeling of being
He laughed once more, as more and more ponies fell before him. With a vicious glee, he tore open the stomach of one mare, and used her innards to strangle the children who had “heroically” rushed to avenge her. The Traveler made sure that a few of his victims survived to spread the word of his deeds.
One thing that he hated about the ponies would serve him well tonight: their inherent ability to spread rumors. If they could transform a harmless Zebra shaman into an evil enchantress, just imagine what they could do for something that was actually evil.
Now, to ensure that they would know who to blame for this…
His claws snapped once more, this time sending a bolt of lightning crashing into the largest of the small cottages that made up the village. A terrified pony with a scroll and quill cutie-mark huddled amidst the wreckage, amazingly untouched and unharmed.
Torrentican was on him in an instant, grasping the Earth Pony by the mane, and forcing him to look into his eyes.
“You…you disgust me,” The Traveler snarled, slamming the pony into the ground. “Thinking that your dear princesses will protect you from all harm. Thinking that your nightmares are simple dreams…Well. Wake up from this nightmare...”
The pony opened its mouth, but Torrentican hurled the pony into the center of the village, where he knew a few ponies still hid from him. They watched him in horror, as he leaped forward and crouched over their mayor.
“Animals trapped behind bars at the zoo
Need to run rampant and free!
Predators live on the prey they pursue!
This time the predator's me!”
The pony desperately crawled forward in a pathetic attempt to escape his fate. In response, Torrentican simply snatched the pony by the tail, and flipped him onto his back with a mighty tug.
"Lust, like a raging desire,
Fills my whole soul with its curse!
Burning with primitive fire,
Berserk and perverse!”
He stomped on the pony’s rear leg, snapping it in twain. The pony howled in pain and fear, blood seeping from underneath Torrentican’s foot.
“Tonight! I'll plunder heaven blind,
Steal from all the gods!
Tonight! I'll take from all mankind,
Conquer all the odds!
And I feel I'll live on forever,
With Takhisis herself by my side!
And I'll show the world
That tonight and forever,
The name to remember,
The name TORRENTICAN!”
He bashed the pony on the head, and hurled him into another stake, the small hollows at the bottom of each stake now overflowing with blood.
“What a feeling to be so alive!
I have never seen me so alive!
Such a feeling of evil inside -
That's the feeling
Shadow Stalkers emerged from the darkness then, to gather the last of the blood.
And Torrentican laughed madly as the ponies screamed for mercy.
My eyes shot open, as a cold wind blew over the gardens. Something dark stirred within my heart, as I looked to the sky.
Nothing seemed wrong.
But in reality?
"...Torrentican..." I muttered.
A chilling laugh echoed in my head.