My eyes open still with some exhaustion, as I could feel myself being dragged by two royal guards across the stone floor. A pure white unicorn with two different shades in his hair and wearing battle armor trotted behind me as to stop me should I do anything funny.
If I was desperate I would have stabbed them and made my escape, but other than complicating matters further I looked down to see every single weapon and gadget I had were gone, the only things left were my white blood-stained robes and my original ones underneath.
“Sir, he’s awake,” one of the guards said as he noticed me trying to blink myself awake.
“Good, it would give our murderer here more time to think before his hearing,” the unicorn said, I noticed his voice and rank made him sound like a captain.
We arrived at a door which the Captain opened it with a key.
With the doorway open he gazed his head down at me and said with a cold tone, “Your hearing won’t help you, just confirm that you’ll be staying here until your mane turns gray or worse. Captain Thunderhoof was my friend and I can’t believe he was killed by some lowlife like you.”
I returned his stare with mine through my hood, filled with a stern look, but with compassion and remorse.
“Shining Armor! Captain! Sir Captain Shining Armor SIR!” another guard arrived panting from exhaustion as he collapsed onto the ground.
“Get a hold of yourself private! What is it?” Shining said as he helped him up.
“Sir, it’s the dragon we’ve captured in sector 5! He’s breaking out of his restraints!”
“WHAT?! I thought I told your squad to sedate it!”
“We did! We gave it enough tranquilizers to knock out 5 elephants!” the guard retorted.
“DRAGONS. AREN’T. ELEPAHNTS!”
Shining Armor quickly remembered that I was still being held by the two guards, he motioned them to toss me into the open cage leaving Shining slamming it shut with a look of disgust and hate towards me.
“Come on, let’s go get that dragon before something serious happens,” Shining said to all the guards as they ran away from my cell.
I give a loud sigh of breath as I take off my stained white robe revealing my original dark gray one.
“Ah good ‘ol Sharpgash, out of everything in here he has the most chance to escape,” a voice behind me said.
I turned around to see a sand coloured earth pony wearing a bandana and a tattered blue and brown vest lined with pockets as he lay on an uncomfortable looking bed.
He vaulted himself off the bed and approached me with a hoof out, “Name’s Lucky Bit, pleasure to make your acquaintance………”
“This is when you say your name?”
“…………. Shadow Mark,” I finally gave him an answer.
“Well great to meet you Shadow, because unless something happens we’ll be staying here together for a very very long time,” he got back onto his bed and sat there.
“So let me be the first to say, welcome to the Canterlot Dungeons!”
He catches a glimpse of my blood stained robe as I toss it into a corner.
“Whoa, what are you in here for buddy?”
“The murder of an innocent, a Captain,” I solemnly said as I take a seat in the middle of the room looking at the same wall the cell door is on.
“Yikes, I’d be amazed if they didn’t give you the death penalty, but I’m sure the Princess would have a kind heart about that. Certainly gave me the number of years when I failed to do my thieving job correctly.”
As he finished silence hung into the air as I didn’t make any motions of wanting to talk.
A rush of cold air floods in, not from any ventilation from outside but from a place inside our cell, an icy-white hoof caught my side-gaze as it stood up next to me and I realized what “in a bit” meant from before my capture.
“Well that certainly was unexpected, for you that is,” Dave chuckled next to me as I ignored him, not moving from my position.
“Hey, who are you?! How did you get in? I’m calling the guar-,” Lucky tried to say.
“Shut up from you. Otherwise I will extend your prison time twofold,” Dave snapped at him before returning his gaze back to me.
“Sorry for that rude interruption Shadow, also I apologize for having to make you go through all of that just for you to be locked up in here. Would you care for some reconciliatory yoga perhaps?” he made a motion with both of his fore-hoofs.
“Well either way it was nice to see that my plan worked with no flaws, as per usual. You’re now in Canterlot and will be well accommodated until the party begins.”
“What party? Another one of your games, Dave?” I asked with spite in my voice.
“I can’t believe you would have forgotten Shadow, did that Griefer message mean nothing to you? I thought we had something, a connection! *Sigh* I guess I should’ve made it more clear. As I want you to attend.”
“So Shadow this was the most efficient way to get you to Canterlot and closer to your goal, because in three days…” Dave looked at a clock just as it went *ding and struck the midnight handle, “Balthazar is throwing a lavish party right after the Lunar festivities finishes.”
My ears perk up when he mentions Balthazar.
“It’s going to be filled with ponies from all over Equestria and it’s located right in Canterlot! How convenient is that? It’s right at the governance’s residence, a nice mansion indeed. Best thing is, Princess Celestia can’t do a damn thing to stop him politically, so bring your party game! We'll all have a nice time, until somepony dies that is,” Dave gave a sinister smile.
“A party right after a party ends… I wonder what Ms. Pinkie Pie would say about that… oh, don’t look so glum Shadow because in three days’ time, you will get your revenge. He’ll be there completely distracted by the other guests, you could just waltz right in and kill him or whatever you Assassins do.”
“You will get another chance, another time for retribution, to end High Duke Balthazar’s life. The choice is yours Shadow…. no rush, after all you are likely going to serve a life’s sentence unless you think outside the cell,” Dave does a small chuckle and lightly pats my back, with his horn lit with his black sinister magic he walks towards a wall, becoming a dark swirling vortex. He steps in it and disappears without a trace.
“WHO IN TARTARUS WAS THAT?” Lucky Bit shouted in confusion from his bed.
“Dave.” I quietly said before returning to my thoughts.
Just three days…. Three days before I get a chance to strike and Balthazar dies…
Along with Dave if I get the chance.
It’s a trap obviously, another one Dave made, but I know I must take it, I must end his life.
Balthazar will die.
“Hey? Shadow you alright?” Lucky asked me.
I gave no response and no attention to him, not to anything, not to anyone.
I will wait and for this to work I need to focus.
I need preparation.
----- Dawn of the First Day ----------------
The guard shifts went around and guarded the cell doors, I could tell it was morning for a small window to outside let in a ray of sunshine.
“It’s ‘Lucky’ that our cell is right next to a cliff so we have a window while the other side doesn’t,” he laughed at his joke as he went up to it and let in a breath of fresh air.
Just then a guard arrives bringing two food trays, a bowl of porridge and a plastic cup of water on each.
He slides them through a small slot opening and says gingerly, “Meal time.”
Lucky quickly makes the way to his tray and kicks other one gently to my direction.
“Bleh I hate this stuff,” he squints his eyes in disgust, “But better than nothing I think, you going to finish that?” he pointed to my bowl of porridge.
I slide it towards him without moving from my spot and he gives a thanks before devouring the meal.
I grabbed my cup of water and looked at it before setting it down in front of me as I continued to do… well… nothing…
At least that’s what it would seem like I am doing…
--------- Dawn of the Second Day ----------------
“So since you’re just sitting there and I’m bored I might as well tell you how I got in here,” Lucky said to me as he leaned himself against a wall with one hoof around his leg.
“So as you can probably tell I got in here for thievin. But the glorious thing about it was I am a pro at what I do. Just for this case I happened to have some terrible luck. Oh and before you say anything about me overusing my luck puns, I have a license here, so I can do this nonetheless,” he pulled out a license to show me he wasn’t kidding.
“So where was I, oh right! So my next job was to go steal a precious heirloom right here in Canterlot Castle wouldn’t you know? Thing is back at the guild they commended me for my skill but despite the warnings for attempting to steal it as it was too risky, I’ve ignored them.”
“So right when I made it past the guards and had the heirloom, a gold vase encrusted with diamonds and other worthless jewels, who else other than Princess Celestia herself to show up and send me in the slammer,” he laughed at this.
“So far, it’s been a couple of months but nothing I can’t handle,” he said as he took his body off the wall and began to walk around me in a circle, nearly tripping on the two cups of water I saved.
“Dude… ah never mind. Anyways I wonder when I get out if I’ll get back into my guild. You know what Shadow? If you ever get out of here why don’t you go by a visit the Brotherhood of Steal located in Canterlot? But obviously nopony gets out for murder anytime soon; still I think the guild leader would have been ecstatic should he have met you.”
Lucky went back to his bed and took out a coin from his pocket and began to flip it.
I still stayed in my place, wondering if my plan would work... just one more day....
----- Noon of the Third Day --------
I still didn’t eat or drink and I could feel my insides start to waver. I take the tray of food and drink and put it along to my other cups of water.
My head started to spin a bit as I stood up, fully rested but food energy drained. Lucky was surprised by this as I turned my head and gave him a small grin just before I collapsed face first onto the cold floor.
“WHOA! GUARDS COME CHECK THIS OUT QUICK!” Lucky shouted to the two guards stationed at our cell. They noticed my body and quickly rushed to get the keys in and open the door.
They approach me thinking I was knocked out from my lack of meal. I open my eyes from the ground and push myself up before they had enough time to react. The closest guard I grabbed him and flipped him over me as he fell onto his back, I bring my forehoof to him and crush his chest as I slam it down and shatter some of his ribs.
The other guard quickly tried to get back to the outside of the cell and lock me in, but only managed to get to the door’s entrance before I grabbed his head.
“HEL-,” he tried to yell as I quickly slammed his head onto the open metal doorway.
He falls to the ground unconscious as I go back into our cell to where Lucky was sitting with astonishment.
He was about to shout out before I quickly hushed him, “Now we can both escape Lucky, but we need to be quiet. Just give me a few seconds to get my strength back up before we go.”
It was true, I was planning this the moment Dave mentioned Balthazar would be here in three days. The festival would’ve ended yesterday meaning his party would be here today. Just some self-starving to convince the guards I’m not faking and now they’re both unconscious….
I look over to the one I stomped on his chest to see he was dazed so I quickly hoofed the side of his head to knock him out.
Now they both are.
I grab the cups of water as I chug each and every single drop down my throat, saving the last one to wash down the porridge I ate after.
“Alright, now I just need to find my stuff and we’ll be out of here,” I said.
“Wait man!” Lucky put his hoof on my shoulder to stop me, “You’ll never get through the guards they have surrounding this castle, believe me I tried. If you would follow me after we get your stuff as well as mine I’ll show you a secret way out of the castle, it’s a tunnel that leads into a cave that stretches as far as Canterlot, though those are just rumors for I’ve never been there.”
“Bene, let’s go then,” I nodded my head in approval as we left our cell.
We stealthily waited around a corner as a guard patrol made its way past us. We ran down a corridor with some rowdy inmate shouting at us which we ignored. Climbing up a flight of stairs we reached a door with “Prisoner’s Possessions” written across it. We both nod to each other as he slowly opens the door. The room was empty, minus a couple of chests and a guard sitting at a desk with clear view of the door.
“Hey, who are you! You’re not supposed to be here!”
I quickly ran over to him and slammed his head down into the desk breaking it in two.
“WOAH DUDE! Where did you learn those moves?” Lucky said with amazement.
I opened a chest and picked up everything that was taken from me, my throwing knives, some ammunition and containment satchels left undisturbed, a smoke bomb, and most importantly my two hidden blades. I strap them on and test them to find they’re working perfectly as before.
Lucky went through a chest and found a few lock picks and burglar’s tools as he stashed them into his arsenal of pockets. He noticed my blades and the insignia that was etched onto both of them as well as the red one my cloak.
“Hmm haven’t seen your kind in a long time… ya don’t worry, the guild and the Assassins known each other for some time. No doubt you’ll be welcomed in with open hoofs.”
With both of us now completely ready and prepared we head out from the possession’s room with the knocked out guard and sprinted down an opulent hallway.
We are now in the “public’s version” of Canterlot Castle.
Believe me; I don’t hate any of the princesses or the guards. I'm still ticked off from what Dave did those few days ago so forgive me if my mood is sour.
We made our way up a stair case, ducking for cover whenever a guard walked by. We go down a hallway with no cover as a single guard makes his way around the corner and we almost bump into each other.
“What are you two doing up here? Shouldn’t you be back in your cells?”
Lucky quickly tackles him and knocks him out as I look for a place to hide the body. I noticed a closet and helped him move the guard into it. He closed the door clapping our hoofs together from dust as we made our way to the corner again.
This time to be stopped by a different guard.
So we did the same thing we did to the other one.
We close the door and this time two guards show up which we quickly knock out and slide into the storage closet.
“Just how many of them are there?” I ask.
---5 minutes later------
We threw ANOTHER guard inside the storage closet landing on top of a large pile of other bodies and knocking out one stallion that thought he must’ve been drunk with so much other sleeping stallions around him. Leaving the 30 or so guards in there I slam the door shut.
Please let this be the last time.
Sure enough no other guard stopped us (probably because we took out 30 on this floor and 3 in the dungeons) so we strolled our way down the winding hallways as we reached the entrance to Princess Celestia's room.
Lucky quickly shoves me into a small alcove as he pointed me to an elite looking guard standing at her doorway.
“Why here Lucky? Why the Princess’s room?” I quietly whisper.
“Because it’s the only one I know that has the passage, thinking if it’s an escape route it would be beneficial to have it in her room don’t you think?”
“Alright then, but what about this guard?”
“This is where we must part ways friend,” Lucky said placing a hoof on my shoulder, “I will distract him and the other guards as long as I can while you gain access to the room.”
“Good Luck,” I said with a grin as I gave him a pat on his shoulder.
“I was wondering where your sense of humor was!” Lucky quietly chuckled as we both nodded and he ran out of the alcove.
“Hey Mr. Guard! Look at me! I broke out of my cell again; let’s see if you can beat your record to catch me this time!” Lucky waved to the guard before running off in a different direction with the guard chasing him.
I used this opportunity to quickly make my way into Celestia’s private quarters. I close the door behind me and then marvel at the luxurious sights decorating this room.
A burning fireplace next to a rug and a bunch of scrolls piled up on top of one another as to the side of the room along with a long line of bookshelves. Her bed was at the far end of the room leading to a balcony with an extravagant view over the world. The inside was furnished with opulent furniture fit for the most powerful pony in all of Equestria to enjoy. My attention shifted to a large chandelier that was positioned in the centre of the ceiling.
Something about it just seems… off.
A slight burning pain took place in my eyes as my “alternate vision” made the chandelier glow a bright yellow. In my vision I looked down to the ground just before it reverted back to normal (painlessly this time) and saw that the stone floor had a very faint outline worn into the rocks of what appeared to be a large assassin symbol, similar to the one on my robe.
Before I could ponder why it was there, my ears perk up, catching a noise coming from outside the door.
Merda! Maybe this symbol has to do something with the chandelier.
I need to move quickly!
Hoofsteps are now at the door, I quickly climb a bookshelf and propel myself off it and grasp for the chandelier, managing to get a hoof onto it. The chandelier starts to go down as I notice it was connected to a chain going into the ceiling.
The floor underneath me with the faint symbol opens up revealing a large ominous dark hole. With the door slightly opening I take my chances, release my hoof, and drop into the dark abyss. As I let go, the chandelier started to go back up and as I went through the opening the floor covers itself back up as if nothing happened.
Celestia trots into the room and looks around the area suspiciously; she couldn’t see anything or sense anypony in here, just that something felt a bit off. She lets out a small ‘hmmm’ and walks over to her fireplace where a letter had just appeared and fell to the ground.
Likely from Twilight Sparkle, maybe this is what my sister mentioned about Captain Thunderhoof’s death. I still can’t believe Shadow Mark would have turned, maybe there’s something more to this…
Could it be Balthazar behind it? Couldn’t be, even he’s not this unpredictable…
Celestia opened the letter and skimmed it with her eyes; her face grew more fast-paced as she frantically re-read over and over through the letter absorbing everything she just read from it.
“No…. I can’t believe he tricked us. None of us could have seen this! Not even Luna!” she gasped before teleporting herself to Shadow Mark’s cell.
It was empty, minus the two unconsious guards.
Trotting over to the blood-stained robe lying in the corner, she lifts it up with her magic.
“Shadow, forgive me for not getting here in time.”