Overlooking Applejack’s farm from the window of the 2nd floor, I stood on the windowsill looking at the grass ground below me as a gust of wind rippled across my robes, threatening to fell my escape.
Despite my injuries, this height is a cake walk.
I jumped off the windowsill and landed in a flawless roll execution. Patting my clothes clean I looked up towards the second story window I leaped from.
I’m sorry Applejack. But Balthazar is my problem, not yours or any other ponies. I don’t want to see you or any of my friends hurt. Celestia forbid this place to end up like Ponitaly.
I noticed the hill from before and took a moment to contemplate my thoughts, "Well… I can’t really leave here now. I’m still too injured to travel and I’m pretty sure those hallucinogenic mushrooms will wear off soon leaving me completely helpless. These ponies have helped me so much… I might as well watch over them, for now at least. I owe them that much."
As I began to trot away from the Apple family's farm a sudden realization hit me.
I am not alone… Ace is still here! That must mean there are others out there! Our cause goes beyond reality and the boundary of morality. Those Templars would rid this village whether I’m here or not!
Of course exposing myself more than I need to would lead the Templars straight through Ponyville. After preparation and planning- maybe... maybe then Balthazar would fall and peace return to Equestria. It sounds too simple, it isn't. First I need to figure out a reliable base of operations, someplace no pony would ever figure out or even want to go to.
A devilish smile spread across my lips.
I know just where to set it all up…
--------At the Abandoned Clock Tower----------------------------------------------------------------
Making sure i wasn't watched by any prying eyes I tested the door knob of the ancient tower with my hoof.
"That means this tower doesn’t get much use. It’s perfect for a hideout. Now how to get in?" I paced around looking for any alternative entrances but found there were none on ground level. "I think I remember a hatch on the roof, maybe it leads into the chamber below"?
"Still there is only one way to get up there."
I cracked my hoofs with anticipation and took a running jump onto the wall.
Ever since the race with Rainbow Dash I noticed how this building was easy to climb. Lots of out of place bricks, wooden beams, and even the outside clock handles work nicely if you're quick enough. It would be terrible if the clock handle went vertically parallel. My hoof slipped off the handle as it went vertical, releasing a panicked breath from me but I managed to grab onto the hour hand to prevent my falling demise.
"Whew...", I sighed with relief from my hanging position.
Either this clock tower is very old… or the ponies who built this didn’t know how to read a blueprint. Whatever the case, time kills.
Hauling myself onto the stoney roof I noticed an eagle was sleeping, nestled in his makeshift nest of paper and twigs. I let my better judgement take over and gave Ace a light pet and not a 'Good morning, it is not morning at all, how are you Ace!?', my eyes would've been clawed out by a sleep-deprived avian if I did.
I trotted over to the hatch of the roof, my hoof grabbed it's handle and lifted up as dust rolled off it from not being opened for so long, a creek revealed a darkened inner chamber connected via a ladder. Going flank first I descended my way down the wooden step holders to the inner dwelling of the clock tower.
Everything looked magical from what somepony could expect to see from a clock tower that hasen't been used in decades. Apart from the dustiness, sacks, crates lying everywhere, and bugs- lots and lots of bugs- there were a few plus sides that I was lucky to notice.
The place was completely insulated so it was the perfect room temperature all the time, inside the sacks were potatoes, "YAY!", and the glass window around the clock itself allowed natural light to fill the room with the glow of the night moon cascading down into this abandoned yet beautiful tower.
Why would anypony let this place get in such a run-down state. What a shame for something that could be so much more.
Oddly enough, the light was shining in such a way where it was possible to see everything in Ponyville; from Applejack’s farm to Fluttershy’s house by the woods.
When I looked up at the clock tower before racing Rainbow, I couldn’t see through or inside the glass windows. This building is completely abandoned from top to bottom. BENE!
I emptied some sacks and found straw in a few crates and made it into a makeshift bed, despite the cheapness of it, it was the best makeshift bed I've made in a while. The moment I laid my head onto the hay-filled pillow, feeling it's wonderful comforting sensations as all my troubles seemed to just wander away, the mushroom effects wore off.
“MY LEGS! MY ARMS! MY TAILBONE!” I shouted, knowing that no one would hear my agonizing cries.
Or so I thought… nonetheless I shouted like a filly for the rest of the 4 hours before sleep overtook me.
Ooh, my body still feels like crap. What does Dr. Mareio put in those things?
I looked over to the glass window wearily and saw the morning light streaking through it, my head fumped back on the pillow in annoyance.
Morning already? That was quick, maybe Princess Celestia is messing with somepony again. Hehehe…
Hauling myself out of the poor excuse for a bed, my hoofsteps leqd me towards the clock window. Giving a loud yawn and a quick stretch as something in my body snapped receiving an unsatisfied grunt from my mouth.
Everypony was waking up to the sweet chirping birds flying through the summer wind. It was quite the sight, quite-
The chirping stopped.
Forgetting that Ace needed to catch his breakfast every morning, I looked towards Sweet Apple Acres and despite how far it was, this place was definately the best for observing anything and everything in Ponyville.
No doubt Applejack is an early riser, but if she cared for me for the 2 days she must be exhausted. Guess my status is still incognito… eugh, what’s that sickening odor?
I sniffed at the air, then at the potatoes, then my clothes. It was my clothes- and me…
Great, now I can be the most odorous assassin in Equestria. I can’t just break into anypony’s house and use their shower...... or can I?
Noticing a lake near Fluttershy’s home I a simple thought came to mind, so simple yet so clever, “Hmmmm interesting…”
I knocked my grey hoof on Fluttershy’s cottage door, I heard frantic hoofsteps and a few moments later she answered.
“Oh hello Shado- AAAHHH!” shouted Fluttershy. She brought her hoofs towards her mouth stopping the screams of terror before quiety saying, "Sh-Shadow?"
I was covered from head to hoof in mud, to her I must've looked like a swamp monster, I quickly wipd a bit off splashing on her doorway as a smile formed on my mouth.
Honestly, you need to see the big picture.
Next to the lake was land, so in between there would be the semi-wet stuff, mud. Seriously, to bathe in a lake without any soap plus the threat of leeches sucking onto my skin left me nauseated. I need my blood!
Second, using the trigonomic ratios to pinpoint the distance from AJ’s farm to Fluttershy’s house and the fact that Fluttershy is quite shy so few ponies would come to her due to their shyness, I determined that I can make it to the lake then to Fluttershy’s house before Applejack told all her friends.
Yes I know I over-exploited Fluttershy, but like tenant 128 says, “Over-exploitation is for the weak and helpless, so be creative!”
Now feeling the withdrawel symptoms of the mushrooms, I was weaker and helpless than any pony in Ponyville.
And Fluttershy helps the weak and helpless.
Though I’m still inexperienced than most other assassins, after falling for 10,000 miles it can really clear your head. Make you think more about what you have in the world. A family, Assassin siblings, a city to call home.....
I have nothing.
“HAIL FLUTTERSHY!" I said eagerly to her before pretending to cough as if I was sick and plagued with a horrible respitory infection. "The medicine Dr. Mareio gave me had terrible side-effects!” I made myself sound so convincing that I was dying, this cheerful attitude is the perfect disguise!
“As you can see I’m covered in mud and I don’t know how that happened, so it is alright if I may use your shower very quickly to wash the mud off?” I said adding a smile towards the end.
“Well… I’m expecting Applejack… I hope you don’t mind… she’ll be here in a couple minutes. But I can’t turn down a poor hurt creature such as yourself, you can use my shower and when you get back I’ll give you some herbal remedies I made.” she timidly said showing me inside.
“Molto Grazie Fluttershy.” I said bowing before heading in after her.
I rushed off to the shower room and locked the door before another word was spoken. Surprisingly Fluttershy had a washer/dryer in the bathroom so I chucked my clothes into it
Turning on the shower I thought to myself biting my lip in frustration, "Merda! Applejack is going to be here soon. Which means when she notices I’m gone she’s going to run here faster to alert Fluttershy!"
I got the soap and quickly lathered and lathered as much as I can down my body until the smell of my fur sweat and all the mud residue was gone. With the shower still running I grabbed my robes from the washer and threw them into the dryer as fast as I could.
I quickly cleaned myself off with a towel, a ding was heard and I hastily grabbed my now puffy dry robes from the dryer and put the outfit on correctly, from robes to vambrace to boots. As soon as I finished I heard light tapping on the door.
“Shadow? Applejacks downstairs she wants to know… if your done… if umm its… not a bother,” said the voice of Fluttershy.
Crap, knowing in a few seconds Applejack herself will kick that door down, how can I escape- oh a window! A window in the washroom? Whatever, I’ll take what I can get.
“NO!” I shouted my panicked answer through the door as I hastily climbed out the window.
Immediately I was out, sprinting with all the might and speed I had.
If the Templars don’t kill me it would be Applejack… Damn mushrooms!
I felt a cramp in my leg and it was BAD.
I need to improvise; I can’t hide in a hay stack. I need to be creative…... wait that’s it!
I noticed a bridge leading from Fluttershy’s house back to town, and then I looked under the bridge, a suitable hiding place.
I dove under the bridge and waited, trying to slow down my rapid breathing and stay as quiet as I can. Hoofsteps could be heard from Fluttershy's and I pressed myself closr towards the brick wall of the bridge's underside as the sound of galloping came over me.
*CLIP-CLOP* *CLIP-CLOP* *clip-clop* *cli-op*
Breathing a sigh of relief and resting for a short bit from that excitement, I came up from the bridge and ran back to Ponyville.
Pulling my hood over my head I sat down on a bench outside the “Quill and Couch” store.
I closed my eyes and focused my hearing so I can hear everything in the general vicinity. My ears perked and twitched as I was brought to a new world to see through. The world of sound.
“That will be 4 bits." "Dang I don’t have enough, let me go home to get some more.”
“Mommy? Why am I a unicorn when you and dad are earth ponies?” "Well sweetie..... umm...."
Eventually I tuned myself from the conversations until I heard the voice of Twilight. I zoomed in my litening and overheard that she was talking to her 5 friends and Spike.
“Ok! We’ll split up and look around town. I’m pretty sure Shadow must be in town still because he’s still hurt. It’s only a matter of time before he’s well, he will then abandon us and this town and not likely ever come ba-“
“AND PROBABLY GET KILLED!” shouted Applejack seething with rage, hoping I was listening. I was, and a gulping noise escaped my throat.
“Applejack you need to stay quiet- for all we know he can be listening to us right now. Shh...”
“We all know what Shadow is and even if he is his last kind, I’m pretty sure our skills don’t match his,” she said tapping on something.
“A book?” I thought. “Maybe I should see what it is later…”
“WAIT!” shouted Pinkie Pie. “Now is his Get-Well Party! He can’t afford to miss that!” said Pinkie pie in determination as she hopped towards Sugarcube corner.
“PINKIE!" Twilight shouted after her but sighed as Pinkie was already long gone. "Ok, you 4 spread out while me and Spike try to get more information. Somepony's got to know if they seen him. No pony is invisible.”
I tuned my sound fields back around to me and opened my eyes.
Well, I never break promises. If the Assassins weren't invisible, we couldn't do our jobs. That's why to maintain our secracy we used to put our symbol outside the headuarters in big visible banners for all of Euetria to gaze down upon........ Alright maybe we're slightly invisible... metaphorically speaking. I should go and see Pinkie and make sure she DOESN'T see me.
Getting up from the bench I made my way towards Sugarcube Corner.
I passed from group to group of ponies, my chin raised upwards as I noticed Rainbow Dash flying overhead.
She can’t see me… she needs to work on that.
Up ahead I noticed Rarity was inspecting everyone going through that street, like a checkpoint.
Damn… I forgot how Rarity can notice foreign materials a mile away. I need to move fast.
Scanning around me I noticed an alleyway, I quickly weaved my way around the ponies towards it.
Dark and dank. Ah, almost like Ponitaly.
I looked up at the roofs overlooking me now safely concealed in shadow.
Ha ha, now I see. If I try to do any building climbing or free-running Rainbow would notice me right away. Luckily Sugarcube corner was right at the end of this alley.
Popping myself out from the alley I quickly dashed around the back of the gingerbread house building and noticed a basement hatch. I opened it and made my way down to a nicely lit basement.
There was baking materials everywhere I looked. Flour, wheat, frosting, eggs, everything needed to make delicious pastry dishes.
I found a pencil and some paper and wrote a note:
Dear Pinkie Pie,
I’m sorry I couldn’t attend your party today. But if you read this then it means I did come over to the best of my abilities. Right now, you and all your friends are out looking for me. Sure, I accept your challenge! Finding me will not be a cakewalk (haha cake…) and make sure you show your friends this next part.
My friends, I’m sorry I’ve been so secretive. I’m sure by now Applejack or Twilight would have told you who I am or you figured it out by yourselves. Know that I do my job for the greater good of all ponies. And that Balthazar has stolen something that can rip the foundations of life, not even Princess Celestia can stop. Again, I apologize for my erratic behaviour and showing of my skill. Just know that it was great to find new friends so far away from home even if it was for a short while…for my time being I’ll be watching over Ponyville, protecting it and all its citizens, this place truely is a haven.
When the TIME comes, then all will be made clear.
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.
P.s I left something in here for you Pinkie.
Putting a firecracker into the letter and rolling it up, I sneaked upstairs to the 1st floor.
I saw a sad grey Pinkie, her mane was deflated and tears were forming in her eyes, wearing a party hat in the decorated store. It tugged my heartstrings, I haven't felt this is a long time.
Taking the letter, my hoof tossed the letter in front of her and I quickly jumped through an open window as to not be seen by her. But I know her reaction will be what I expect.
A few moments later…
“HEHEHEHEHEHE! THANKS SHADOW!” shouted Pinkie hoping that the near-invisible foreign pony was still somewhere around to hear her words.
I walked back to where Twilight addressed the group and sure enough she was still there with Spike holding the book looking bored, he yawned ready for a nap rather than standing around interrogating/questioning any passing ponies.
I grabbed a rock I considered to be equal the size of that book and walked behind Spike. Where I found this size of a rock on short notice is a mystery but do not question the forces behind it. This rock holds many powers indeed, including the one of gravity acting on a heavy freaking rock I'm trying to steathily swap.
Twilight was engaged in reading a book about “The Dark Arts” and didn’t notice me or Spike for that matter.
Ahh… a classic novel. True story really, now to carefully switch…
My hoof reached out behind the scaley dragon, persperation dropped down from my brow. I bit my lip in anticipation as my hoof lightly grasped the book. The beads of sweat were rolling down my cheeks, now was the time to act. With a lightning flash movement of pure reflex, I switched the book in Spike’s hand with the useless rock subtitute.
Ducking back into cover with both of them not knowing what just happened, my hoofs took the trip back towards the clock tower door with the book tucked under my good wing.
I can’t climb the building without attracting Rainbow’s attention. Wait… I saw Le Duck do this once on a locked chest.
I extended my blade into the building’s lock and fumbled around the tumblers a bit. Eventually the lock itself fell off as if it was the most pickable lock to ever be picked.
I’m a master lock picker!
I looked closely at the lock and found that it was actually slashed in half by my blade from my crude friction method and lack of skill.
What a shame. Guess my skills didn't level up..... I must pick more often, next time a Templar bank perhaps!
I opened the door and appeared on the first floor of the tower. I went up the stairs until the path was cut off.
Literally the stairs weren’t there anymore, only a bunch of wooden beams and remnants of stair handles were still left in place.
FREE RUNNING TIME!
I hopped to the 1st wooden beam sticking out from the side. Instead of there being normal stairs this was a makeshift staircase of beams and handles, that weren’t that difficult but rather fun.
Now seeing a ladder I leaped for the platform and just barely managed to hang off from it. I pulled myself up and up the ladder.
I appeared in the same chamber that I spent the night in before. My pathetic straw bed caught my sights and instantly a wave of exhaustion hit me. I took of my hood wearily and collapsed onto my bed.
Pulling out the book I exchanged a rock for from Spike, my hoofs skimmed over some diagrams, skipping them from being overly detailed but I stop immediately as my eyes noticed some key components.
I read the pages.
Assassins, Templars, The Observer, and designs of weird contraptions.
Wait is that....?
It was a sketch of a hidden blade, MY hidden blade. It showed how to make them, the background information of how they're used and what they were intended for.
Skimming through the pages more with my hoof I noticed a rather strange vehicle, I angled the book left, then right, and upside down too.
It looked like a giant bat with oversized wings.
I wouldn’t want to come across that thing in the dark.
Huh, Twilight did a lot of work in just one day. I wonder if she can handle contracts and letters.
Nah, it’s probably Spike writing everything down. He's diligent but he really should work on his own esteem and independance. Even if he is a baby, he seems pretty grown up for his age. Reminds me of myself.
I put the book aside and closed my eyes on my hay pillow, it was not comfortable and not one I expected from a bed made of potato sacks and decade-old hay.
I woke up hazily and noticed the sun was gone and replaced by the moon instead, shining through the glass window.
Strange, I feel refreshed and it’s the dead of night. Insomnia perhaps?
I looked at the reverse clock handles and counted the time. 10pm.
Guess it’s safe to get out then, Rainbow Dash properly wouldn’t see anything running around at night.
I went to the roof via the ladder and looked over to Ace's nest which was occupied by the gallant eagle. He was snoozing peacefully.
Then I noticed the pile of bird carcasses on the other side of him.
I looked over Ponyville and scanned it from left to right but suddenly my ears pick up on something .
*AIIIIEEEEEE!* GET AWAY YOU SONS OF A-
Someone is in danger! Where, oh where… THERE!
I saw Dr. Mareio surrounded by 3 bandits at the town square. He was beaten up and his cart completely wrecked.
I spread out my wings and jumped.
Sure I can’t fly but at least I can glide. Glad I practiced this before my “wing” incident.
Heading straight for a bandit I dived towards them and reached my hooves out for the impact, 3..2..1.
My hoofs collided with his face as he was sent flying though the street and collided further with a streetlamp.
“What!? NO! You’ll pay for that!” said a big green coloured bandit pulling out a sword from his sheath.
A slightly smaller purple coloured bandit pulled out a dagger.
“What are you nervous? ARE YOU?” snickered the purple bandit as he waved his small sharp object at me.
I ran up to the purple pony and kneed him in the chest. I pulled his cloak over his head and stuck his dagger through it into the ground, his head was trapped and to no avail of his struggles, he couldn't escape with the dagger wedged in the ground.
Seeing how his friend was stuck the big green pony charged me with his sword drawn to the side.
“YOU'RE GOING TO PAY FOR THAT!” he said approaching his target, bringing his sword down.
“No. You are.” I responded stepping on his sword, canceling his attack.
Immediately, I reached out for his hoof and grabbed it.
“ARRRGGGHH! MY ARM!”
I threw him down and landed my back hoof on his chest.
“AGRH! MY RIBS!”
I stood over his helpless body and arced my hoof fist-like.
The smaller purple pony now freed himself by ripping his cloak and noticed the other bandits. One was knocked out with broken ribs and a leg, while the other had made a dent in the streetlamp.
“I…I.. can still take you!” he nervously said.
I pulled out my hidden blade and showed him it's glimmering metallic luster within the moonlight, a raised eyebrow was all it took to break him.
“NO! I don’t want to die!” he shouted running away from Ponyville and never to return.
My hidden blade retracted into it's vambrace as I went over to help Dr. Mareio back to his hooves. We picked up all his remaining mushrooms, making sure not to directly touch the purple one which was sealed inside a glass box. We both knew of the consequences should it re-open.
That is one memory I wish to forget.
“THANK YOU SHADOW! YOU’VE BEEN A GREAT HELP TO ME!” shouted Mareio.
I noticed a crowd of people forming around us and more importantly I saw her, Applejack within them.
“HI APPLEJACK!” I waved to her non-chalantly.
“Ok Mareio here’s your chance to get some customers.” I whispered to him before giving him a friendly pat on the back.
Seconds later, his shouts echoed through the town, “50% OFF EVERYTHING!”
A mass of ponies filled the space between me and Applejack and I dashed into an alleyway.
Knowing Applejack would follow me I quickly climbed the building till I reached its roof.
Hopping from building to building I reached my safe house and went to the door. The door-knob didn't budge, I slammed my body against the door and it still didn't.
Locked once again.
What? Didn't I break it? Ok then, the roof I must go.
Reaching the top of the tower (it was much faster now that I done it a few times but for some reason, wait why is there grass here?), I opened the hatch and cautiously dropped down with my hidden blade out to what awaited me below.
The room was pitch-black, my vision didn't have enough time to adjust as I bumped my hoof against a chair, receiving a mutter of a Ponitalian swear under my breath.
Immediately lights flooded the room, blinding me.
I was greeted by 6 ponies in a nicely decorated interior adorned with Assassin logo banners, a more comfortable bed, fireplace, a desk made out of mahogany, and many more sets of furniture and decorations that I could not comprehend how uikly everything was set up. My mouth hang agape.
“Were you surprised? Were you? Were you?” said Pinkie as she jumped up and down next to me.
“Well you see yesterday when you left Pinkie that letter we had to do something.” Said Rainbow Dash.
“So we all went together and got stuff for the new hideout.” Said Applejack.
“I got the desk, books and paper!” said Twilight.
“Oh, speaking of books.” I said giving her book back to her, a confused expression caught her face as she wondered how I obtained it to begin with.
“I did the décor you see.” Said Rarity pointing towards the banners and atmosphere of the room.
“I..I got you the roof garden.. do you like it?” nervously asked Fluttershy.
“I took out all those boring potatoes and replaced it with real food! ALSO CRAFTING TABLES!” ecstatically said Pinkie.
“And I made everything 20% cooler!” Rainbow Dash said feeling quite highly of herself.
“Wow I really appreciate this… from all of you, but why me?” I asked, this kindness I haven't experianced in ages.
“That’s what friends do! When we need help we don’t run away, we stay and work together!” said Applejack bringing her hoofs out to remind me what they all did to the room.
“I noticed all your skills and you’d all make great specialist assassins but I couldn’t bear to see my friends get hurt like last time."
"This is real killing, meaning you will actually MURDER somepony."
"This isn’t a game.” I coldly said.
“Well of course not, sugar cube! After hearing your story and your letter, we can’t allow these… Templars to take over Equestria.” Said Applejack.
“It would make everyone UN-HAPPY!” protested Pinkie.
“This is about making sacrifices. That’s why we all want to be assassins. Princess Celestia even recommended it!” said Twilight, receiving some gasps including from
Wow! The Princess herself, maybe things are worse than I thought… well then.
“Ok then! I will train you in the arts of my lineage to be assassins. Together, we will win."
“First, we still need to do some more……………..Renovations.”