It hadn’t stopped since Chroma made her appearance. A day and a half of a constant downpour.
“I used to love rain too,” Raindrops sighed.
The jasmine coated pegasus carefully dabbed a cool cloth against one of Iron Will’s many burns. The minotaur’s breathing was shallow, mostly unimproved from when Adagio and Mayor Glimmer had brought him home. The burns looked just as bad too. Then again, Raindrops wasn’t sure that she’d even be able to tell if they had improved. She wasn’t a healer. She was a guard.
“Well…ex-guard now,” she said to herself.
Baroness Dazzle’s vicious admonishment still echoed in her head. As much as she wanted to be angry at being tossed aside, Raindrops couldn’t shake the guilt that twisted through her like so many venom spitting snakes. As much as she wished it wasn’t so, there was no real way to avoid the truth. She and her fellow guards had failed their lord. They had failed their trainer too. All the training, all the drills, all the discipline that Will had worked into them as bodyguards and the minute Chroma had appeared, they had scattered like scared foals. Their attempt to make up for that had been rebuffed as well and now Raindrops didn’t even know where Adagio even was! Aside from “somewhere in the Everfree”.
“Why am I still here? The baroness fired all of us, we’re not under any obligation to stay,” she grumbled.
Despite her grousing, she kept cleaning Iron Will’s burns, trying to ignore the droning patter of Chroma’s endless rage. The bowl of water at her side grew steadily filthier from fluid, mopped up from the leathery patches of skin left behind by the lightning. They formed a spiderweb pattern across his body. Raindrops sighed again. Will’s coat was very unlikely to grow back in those places…assuming he lived. Once her cleaning was done, she looked glanced at the bandages she had removed and wrinkled her snout at their soiled state.
Raindrops threw the dirty rag she had been using aside and trotted for the hallway. She could hear her fellow ex-guards idly chatting on the floor below. It seems that none of them had left yet either. Then again…where would any of them go? She fluttered downstairs with a few beats of her wings before wandering into the main sitting room.
Caramel and Moon Dancer were locked in a game of chess. The fact that they hadn’t done more than exchange a few pawns told Raindrops that they were just as distracted and worried about everything as she was. Sassaflash was laying on her stomach, snout buried in a book that Raindrops wasn’t sure she was actually reading. The sound of pans clanking together from the kitchen gave away Sunflower’s position. He snacked when he was upset, so that was no surprise.
“Who has the extra bandages?” she asked.
Moon Dancer didn’t look up from her chess game. “They’re in my pack. I left it in the dining room.”
Raindrops nodded and started towards the dining room, only to stop at the sound of pounding on manor’s front door. Turning back around, she trotted to the front door and peeked through the peephole. With the gloom of the storm, she could just barely make out the silhouettes of two nearly pony sized figures. Raindrops’ muscles tensed. Who would be paying them a visit in the middle of a storm like this?
“Hey, everypony! We have company! Front and center!”
While they may not have been official guards anymore, training was training and in quick order they came filing into the entrance hall, ready to fight if need be. They took up positions, flanking the doors and preparing to strike. With her fellows ready, Raindrops yanked the front doors open.
“About time. It’s only a torrent out here.”
Raindrops blinked as a pair of ponies in cloaks pushed into the room. As they pushed back their hoods, she could see they were a pair of mares on the younger side, perhaps a year or so from full adult hood. The one on the right was wearing a deadpan expression, her coat a blueish gray color and her silvery mane done up in a pair of pigtails. The lumpy shapes of saddlebags were just visible under her cloak.
Her friend on the left, by contrast, seemed angry to even be here. Her coat was a golden yellow and her mane a lovely rose shade, broken up by an aquamarine stripe.
Raindrops looked from one to the other for a moment before asking a simple question. “You two are?”
“Sugarcoat,” the silver maned pony began. “And this is Sour Sweet. We work for Sonata Dusk. We’re here to check on your minotaur.”
“She’s here to check on your minotaur,” Sour Sweet grumbled. “I just got dragged along.”
“It was better than having you mope around the house till I got back,” Sugarcoat answered before rolling her deadpan stare back to Raindrops. “Where is the baroness’ bodyguard?”
Raindrops frowned. “I met Sonata before Adagio sent her home. Isn’t she a chef? What do you know about tending to someone? I’m not going to let some untrained youngster just go poking at our captain!”
“As I am studying to be a healer, I know a great deal about using alchemical compounds and herbs to effect greater health and well being and considering that I helped mix the healing poultice used on your baroness, you should really stop arguing and let me get to work.”
“Well…aren’t you…precious,” Moon Dancer said after a few moments of awkward silence.
“Moony, just…,” Raindrops sighed, rubbing her forehead. “Take her up to Will. If she wants to help, I won’t stop her.”
Sugarcoat smiled, ever so slightly, as she followed Moon Dancer upstairs. Sour Sweet huffed and took the stairs as well, while her friends wandered back into the sitting room. Raindrops hung back at the door though, holding it open to stare out at the rain choked town. As the downpour continued she saw a few lights from stormcrows zip past overhead and she sighed again. She didn’t want to stay here. She didn’t want to just wait and see if Chroma’s doom was going to come for them all if Adagio failed. She-
A shriek came from upstairs, followed by the sound of hooves pounding back down the stairs. Raindrops turned to see Sour Sweet, her forelegs soaked. “The bath just overflowed!”
Raindrops groaned. “Of course. Chroma’s stupid storm! It must be overflowing the whole pipe system…and probably the cistern as well.”
Sour Sweet gasped. “Oh no.”
“The river,” Sour Sweet waved her hooves. “The rain is already making the ground soggy, but if we’re adding the overflow from the pipes, the aqueduct and the river…”
While she trailed off, Raindrops could already see the implications playing out in her head. Water undermining the walls and other construction that was set on top of the increasingly soft ground, flooding the streets and destroying the pony’s homes. For a moment, she froze, the implications hitting her all at once. But then she shook her head. Sitting in the manor wasn’t an option anymore. She might have failed in her duties before, but she wasn’t going to do so again. Not when the whole of Ponyville was in danger of being washed away.
“Front and center everypony!” she barked out. “We make for the cistern!”
- - - -
The garden had started out as Chrysalis’ idea.
The intent was for her to have something that reminded her of home. A little slice of the life she had before The Heartlands. Sombra had ignored it at first, mostly content to let his wife tend to her flowers and bushes and trees. She liked to work on it in the early morning light, usually while discussing the problems and challenges they’d be facing the next day in the Heartlands. It had been over those morning conversations that Sombra had slowly found himself drawn into working alongside his wife. Not that said development didn’t have its own issues. The great Rose-Petunia conflict of a hundred years ago had managed to completely destroy the garden at the time and resulted in Sombra sleeping in one of the rooms they saved for visiting dignitaries for a few months. Still a legend amongst the current castle staff, it had resulted in the couple coming to an agreement to not discuss each other’s taste in plants, lest they start throwing them at each other. Strange, but every couple had their quirks.
As he neatly snipped off a wilted rose stem his primary assistant and master of schedules rattled off today’s docket.
“Baronette Sunny Days is due for her commendation today. I scheduled it for lunch, so that you can get some more face time with your knights,” Raven rattled off, not taking his dark brown eyes off of the scroll floating in his raspberry colored aura. “Then we have the tax projections to go over for the year, then Gleaming Shield wants to officially go over that crazy proposal-”
“I’m standing right here, Inkwell. My proposal isn’t crazy,” Gleaming Shield glared from Sombra’s other side. “We waste so much time having to call up our bannerponies and their personal forces every time a threat rears its head! I’ve calculated that efficiency will improve by at least thirty percent if we have a professional, standing army.”
“We don’t have the money for that,” Raven frowned, still not looking up. “Not unless our tax output jumps significantly, which is problematic, considering that the nobility seems to just not want to pay their taxes.”
“Which is why I say that we shouldn’t be coddling the louts!” Gleaming snapped back. “They take advantage of-”
“Gleaming, that will be enough,” Sombra sighed, dropping the clippers he had been using into a basket. “For now we’ll have to settle for reminding these ponies about the bonds of loyalty they swore.”
Raven and Gleaming bowed their heads, as Sombra straightened up to leave the garden. But before he could set off, another pony came into the garden. Sombra was surprised to see Flashing Blade. The ranger was dressed in one of his crisper sets of dress uniforms, a dark green jerkin with a fur lined cloak over top. He bowed his head quickly to Sombra as he approached.
“Your highness,” he nodded.
“Flashing,” Sombra nodded back. “What do you need?”
The grandmaster opened his mouth, but hesitated. Sombra frowned. Flashing’s body was tense, muscles coiled under his coat and his legs planted firmly, ready to strike or leap into action. Gleaming Shield noticed this as well, her magic loosely coiling around the hilt of her sword.
“Is something wrong, grand master?”
“...Yes. There is,” a scratchy female voice called out.
That scratchy female voice hit Sombra like a thunderbolt and he turned just in time to catch a heavy hoof strike across the chin. He felt his hooves leave the ground from the impact, the world going topsy-turvy as his body tore mighty furrow in the dirt and the plants, only coming to a stop when he hit the far wall. As the broken stone rained down upon Sombra, he rolled back to his hooves summoning a pair of crystalline swords as he went. His was already leaping towards him, an alicorn he hadn’t seen in quite some time, summoning her own crackling blades of lightning. Sombra swung his blades up to block and their weapons clashed together with an almighty crack of thunder. In the blink of an eye, they exchanged a half dozen more swings to a flurry of sparks and booming impacts.
More ponies came flowing into the garden now. Many were members of the Everfree Rangers but others seemed to have been drawn from the ranks of noble guard. Sombra recognized the crossed whip and knife of the Marquis de Saddle, as well as the gem encrusted hill of Baroness Upper Crust among the lot. While his focus was locked on Chroma, the Rangers unleashed a flurry of crossbow bolts upon him before the knights charged in to assist.
Sombra summoned a wall of black crystal with a flick of his head, the quarrels clattering uselessly against it, while he whirled about to deal with the knights. A heavy stomp of his hoof sent a line of his crystals tearing out of the ground, towards one of the groups. They scattered to avoid being skewered by the jagged shards. No sooner had they been knocked aside, than a shimmering sphere of pink magic sprang up around three of them and Gleaming Shield charged into the fray. What she did next, Sombra didn’t get to see, for Chroma slammed into him at top speed, carrying him skyward.
“You’ve grown soft Sombra! Been enjoying castle life a bit too much?”
“Writing laws isn’t the most active thing in the world,” Sombra shot back. Kicking out with all four legs, he sent Chomra spinning away from him for a moment. “You complained about that enough back in the day.”
Chroma, with only two of her usual colors in her mane, grinned. “We’re both ponies of action, Sombra. Sitting in a throne room is beneath you.” Her eyes narrowed, a small crackle of lightning dancing around them. “Which is why I’ll give you an honorable death.”
“Funny…I remember you saying something similar three hundred years ago…and yet here we are.”
Chroma snarled, beat her wings a few times, and charged.
- - - -
By the time Raindrops had lead her fellow guards to Ponyville’s main cistern, things were already beginning to spin out of hoof. An unending torrent of water was pouring out of the broken section of the aqueduct and into the overflowing reservoir below, which in turn caused multiple waterfalls to spill down its sides and into the street below. From there, it was beginning to flood the streets, joining other streams of water that were flowing out of the nearby houses and the ongoing fall of rain. It was already up to their fetlocks and didn’t show any signs of stopping.
“You’re going to need a really good plan to stop this,” Sugarcoat deadpanned from behind them.
Raindrops rolled her eyes. Both of Sonata’s assistants had decided to come along, despite her objections. Not that they were alone either. A large crowd of the local residents had gathered around the cistern, some milling about in a mixture of fear and confusion, while others formed a bucket brigade of questionable effectiveness. Even using pegasai to dump the buckets over the walls, it wasn’t making much of a dent in the flooding. Sugarcoat did have point though. Stopping an alicorn fueled thunderstorm was a bit outside their ability at the moment…but if they could stop the flood of water into the cistern, maybe, just maybe they could slow things down.
“Moon Dancer, think we can divert that water flow?”
She looked it over for a moment, shielding her eyes against the downpour with one hoof. “It’s possible. The edge of the aqueduct is technically above the town walls. If we were to attach some kind of extension to the edge of the aqueduct, we could have the flow spill outside for now. Of course we’d also need to cover the top of the cistern itself and have whatever we use be resistant to water. Some kind of treated wood would probably be the best.”
Sour Sweet snickered. “Water resistant? Why not use Sugarcoat’s first attempt at making a white sauce. It was so sticky and waterproof it was more glue than anything edible.”
“It was my first time. Just like your first day when you tripped and spilled a whole bowl of soup on a customer.”
“He stuck his leg out!”
“You know, maybe that’s our answer?” Caramel said, giving Sugarcoat a contemplative look. “Think you could maybe mix up another batch of that? We could apply it to the wood and then build our channel.”
“And if the inns, restaurants, and farmers have empty grain sacks laying around, maybe we could pack them with sawdust or anything else absorbent. Stack them up near the river? It would help at least a little.” Sunflower proposed.
“Either way, we’re going to need more hooves than just us,” Raindrops grumbled. She strode forward, pushing her way to the head of the crowd. Rearing up for a moment, she waved her forelegs to grab the crowd’s attention. “Everypony! My friends and I have a plan! But we’re going to need help to get it all done!”
“Ahh, go soak yer head!” a snappy female voice shouted from the bucket line. “We’re busy here!”
Raindrops glared at the pony in question. She was a tough looking one, with a yellow coat and a striking red mane done up in a ponytail. Her leg muscles seemed capable of kicking a tree over, and a bright red apple stood out on her flank. Raindrops rolled her eyes. “You’re also not making a lot of progress. We,” she waved a hoof at her fellow guards, “have another idea.”
“Sorry. Ain’t really in the mood to listen to the lackey of the crazy baroness. Ponyville can handle itself, thank you very much.”
Raindrops looked around at the water soaked streets, before glaring back at the pony. “Do you take me for a wazzock? This town is being swamped!”
“I take ya for something, that’s for sure.”
“Listen, you’re never going to out pace the rain with buckets! We need to build something-”
The rest of her explanation was cut off by the rush of wings and the crackle of electricity. Chroma’s stormravens were arriving in force, taking up their perches all around the cistern’s square. Traitorous Rangers followed along, two of them landing in front of the crowd.
“Everypony disperse! Return to your homes!” a pale yellow mare shouted. “Only those assisting with the bucket line should be out!”
“Go jump in the river Misty Fly!” someone shouted from the crowd. “All our houses are flooding!”
“Then proceed to the second floors of any available buildings, until the storm passes!”
“It’s been raining for over a day straight!Why should we believe that its going to stop?” another pony shouted.
“Yeah!” Apple pony joined in with a new target for her anger there. “How about you go fly off to your master and tell her to stop with the rain!”
Shouts of agreement rumbled through the crowd and Misty Fly took a step back, dropping into a huddle with her fellows. Raindrops could already see the danger bubbling under the surface of the situation. Cowed as the citizens of Ponyville had been by Chroma’s original appearance, now that she wasn’t here, the reality of the situation was settling in. And as the water level rose, so did their fear, which would erupt into anger soon enough. They had the beginnings of a riot on their hooves and while Ponyville might be full of brave ponies, but with the stormcrows, it could turn into a massacre.
“We need to get these ponies out of here,” she muttered to Moon Dancer. “Any ideas?”
“Nothing that won’t make us look like we’re collaborators.”
The huddle of Everfree Rangers broke apart now, with Misty Fly whistling to the stormravens. They advanced on the crowd from all sides, flaring their wings and clacking their beaks angrily. Some ponies recoiled, but others increased the volume of their angry shouts.
“Go back to your homes!” Misty Fly began again.
A mighty crack split the air.
Misty Fly toppled backwards, her eyes rolling up into her head as the shattered remains of a wooden bucket clattered to the ground. The apple marked pony, an expression of raw fury on her face, followed up with a buck, sending another Ranger flying. With her rage breaking, the underlying tension in the crowd exploded. With a roar of noise, half of them surged forward, hooves outstretched towards the Rangers and crows that were the symbols of their torment. The other half took off in a panic, rushing in a dozen different directions in a desperate attempt to escape.
“Crows! Take them down!” Raindrops snapped, already flying towards one.
Her target was surrounded by three angry ponies, who were clearly in over their heads. The crow leapt into the air, kicking out with its hind legs and wickedly sharp talons. As quickly as they had charged, the townsfolk went stumbling back, one clutching at a slash across his chest. Raindrops hit into the crow in the next moment, smashing its bulk against the front of the building it had just hopped down from. There was a rippling tingle that danced along her coat as lightning flowed between her and the bird. Her pegasai weather resistance pushed back against it, her muscles straining as she pinned creature in place.
“You had to be storm born,” Raindrops grunted.
It screeched back, bringing its talons up to rake at her barrel. The strikes mostly clattered against her armor, but one of the talons managed to slip through a chink in the chain mail and dig into her flesh. Gritting her teeth, Raindrops brought her free forehoof around, smashing it into the crow’s head. And then she did it again. And again. Each strike felt like she was plunging her hoof into the depths of a particularly rambunctious storm cloud and much like a storm cloud it burst apart into vapor, once Raindrops had punched it for the seventh time. Panting, she turned, ignoring the burning lance drilling into her barrel. It was probably a flesh wound anyway.
Ponies were scattered all over the square, a few ready to fight again, the others either unconscious or worse. The Rangers and stormcrows were both gone…though Raindrops had no doubt that it wouldn’t be for long. Sugarcoat and Sour Sweet were also gone. …All the better for them, really. Raindrops growled, shooting a furious glare at the apple marked pony, who still looked ready for a fight.
“Thanks for making the situation worse!” Raindrops snapped at her, before looking towards Moon Dancer. “Fall in, the rest of you. They’ll be back with more and we’re going to hold their attention here.”
“Ya’ll ain’t going to fight without us.”
“The name is Apple Bloom.”
“Fine. Apple Bloom. You’re not a guard or a knight and half the ponies that fought with you aren’t standing right now! So if you want to do me some good, you and the lot that can still walk, will get these injured out of here and stay out of our way!”
Wordlessly, the others that could still stand began to sling the unconscious Ponyvillians over their backs and trundle out of the area. Apple Bloom however, did not move. Instead, she began to stack the dropped buckets from the line at her side. Raindrops groaned. “You’re infuriating,” she muttered.
“Ponyville’s my home and I’m not abandonin’ it!”
“Raindrops…we’re going to need the help,” Moon Dancer interjected. Her eyes were scanning the surrounding roofs, which were beginning to fill with crows and Rangers once more.
“…It’s been a pleasure serving with you all,” Caramel said.
“Don’t talk like that,” Sunflower winced.
Chroma’s forces dove for them.
- - - -
The walls of Canterlot Castle shook, the sky above turning brilliant white for a moment as Chroma slammed her hooves together, a blazing bolt of lightning shrieking towards Sombra. He moved just as fast, throwing a circular shield of crystal in front of it. The magical lightning shattered it in a heartbeat, but it sputtered out in a loose collection of sparks. But even as that one fell away, a second blast- fired from Chroma’s horn- hit him in the face. Blinded by the lightning, Sombra felt himself tumbling through the air in a complete free fall.
He mentally cursed, hissing through his teeth at the sensation of crossbow bolts hammering his body. They may not have been able to puncture his flesh, but if Chroma kept softening him up, that would probably change. He met the ground with a sudden jolt, rolled with the impact and came back to his hooves.
“Wow. Sombra…I was just mocking you before, but you really have fallen far,” Chroma chided from above. Opening one eye, Sombra peered through the smoke that still rose from his face. The coat would grow back, assuming he survived this, though that was looking increasingly unlikely. He could see it in Chroma’s face. A mixture of disgust and disappointment was behind that sneer of hers.
Infuriatingly, she wasn’t wrong either. It had been centuries since he had faced down a threat of alicorn level strength. The rulers of Equestria’s successor states had agreed on staying out of each other’s affairs. The lands beyond the inner sea had turned inward since Equestria’s fall. While he remained one of the greatest fighters on the whole of Gallopia, it was measured against mortal ponies with mortal skills.
To his right, Raven was hiding behind one of Gleaming Shield’s bubble shields, while she clashed with Flashing Blade and a group of the attacking knights. Gleaming was fighting with her all, the power of her magic whipping her blade around like a viper. But Raven wasn’t a fighter and Gleaming was thoroughly outnumbered. Where was the rest of the damned Royal Guard?
“I mean, you trained me!” Chroma rambled. “That wife of yours didn’t put up a fight, but I was expecting that from her!”
At once, all other thoughts fell away from Sombra. “…What did you do to my wife?” he growled.
“I gave her what she deserved. Banishment for as long as you inflicted upon my fellow consuls and tried to inflict upon me!” she spat.
Well. That was that then. With a cold fury he sprang into the air again, this time summoning four different crystal blades with a thought. Two he sent flying two different directions, while the other two he threw straight ahead. Chroma conjured her own lightning ones to counter. As the magic swords whistled through the air and around each other, clashing and sparking against each other, Sombra mentally reached out for another kind of magic.
A purple haze settled around his horn, which grew curved and wicked sharp. Shuddering, his teeth followed suit, reshaping into fangs. It was always a vile experience, to call upon dark magic. The miasma of the power was sickening, like drawing water from a tainted well. Sombra likened the reservoir of power to a dark ocean that hid just behind reality.
A single flap of his wings shot him towards Chroma, who raised her forehooves in a defensive gesture. Less than a foot from her Sombra pushed his enchantment into its second stage. His body exploded into a billowing cloud of shadow, snaking around Chroma like a dozen whips. Then, just as quickly, he reformed on her flank and drilled a powerful kick right into the ribs. This time, Chroma was the one sent smashing into the ground, punching through a half dozen Gladiolus plants in the process. Without missing a beat, Sombra focused his magic, whipping a jagged crystal spike after her. The improvised lance hit right at the midpoint of Chroma’s right wing before digging deep into the earth beneath her.
Sombra took the momentary breather to soar higher, clearing the castle walls. Chaos was reigning in Canterlot, with birds forged from lightning clashing with pockets of guard scattered across the city. Setting his jaw, he flipped over, diving straight for Chroma with his hooves outstretched. But it seemed that he wasn’t the only alicorn who could pull off tricks with light. Just before he impacted, Chroma fell apart into a swirling mix of red and orange light. With a grunt, Sombra followed suit, once more becoming a roiling mass of shadow. For the next few moments, the swirling masses of magic that they had both become thrashed and grappled with each other forming an undoubtedly spectacular light show. But, more importantly for Sombra, being so close to Chroma’s magic allowed him to get a better read on her power. It was fractured and split, with vague lines flowing off beyond Canterlot towards Ponyville and the Everfree. At once, it became clear what Chroma had managed to do to herself.
Opting to change tacts, Sombra broke away from her. A quick channel sent a crackling ball of fire at Chroma. Sure to Sombra’s bet, she snapped back into a solid form, lest the detonation scattered her ephemeral body. This was what Sombra had been counting on, already winding up a second pair of spells right behind the first one. All throughout the courtyard, shards of his black crystal pushed their way out of the ground, wrapping around the hooves of Flashing Blade and his ilk. Almost simultaneously, a dozen jagged crystal lances popped into existence and plunged towards Chroma.
She manifested a shimmering arc shield of rainbow light around her, a few of the crystal lances crumbling against its surface. A few more managed to slip past, digging into her body. Chorma reared up, gritting her teeth as a nimbus of lightning grew around her horn. Sombra took the moment to charge forward, swinging a crystal blade at Chroma’s throat. She countered with another sword of lightning but found herself thrown even more off balance as Sombra pushed forward with muscle and magic. Before she could recover completely, Sombra slammed a hoof against the ground, sending a surge of magic into it. Empowered by his earth pony side, the power flowed through the dirt, mixing with the land’s natural power before erupting back forth directly under Chroma. The resulting spire of black crystal punched up and straight through her body in a goreless shower of light.
“Still think that I’ve fallen far?” Sombra sneered.
“Maybe not,” Chroma coughed. Her body was beginning to fall apart now, collapsing back into the magic from that spawned her. “But you’re not going to stop me. “Once I get my friends out…we’re…coming….”
Whatever other threats Chroma intended to make were lost as she collapsed completely. Red and orange spheres rose into the air before shooting off over the horizon faster than the eye could track. For a moment, everything was quiet while the rebellious knights and rangers considered the implications of their next move.
“Sire,” Flashing Blade began. “May I be the first to say-”
Sombra’s right eye twitched and a hoof sized lump of crystal smacked itself against the Grand Master’s head. He slumped to the ground with a pitiful moan, while Sombra turned to face the rest of the wretches. With a little more magic, the crystals at their hooves grew and encased the whole of their bodies, stopping at the base of their necks.
“Here the lot of you will stay until Canterlot is secured and those still loyal to the crown can take you to the dungeons,” Sombra stated, letting the dark magic go. Slowly, his horn and teeth returned to normal, the miasma of darkness fading away. “Gleaming, you are with me. We shall rally the royal guard and the forces of those nobles still loyal to us and retake the city.”
Gleaming Shield bowed. “Of course, your majesty!”
“Raven, I want missives sent to every city within the land. Warn them of the situation and the treachery of those involved.”
“Of course…but what of the queen? She was in Ponyville…”
Sombra grit his teeth. He dearly wished to march for the town at once and find a way to undo whatever evil Chroma had unleashed upon it. But every fiber of his military training told him the sheer foolishness of leaving his capital under attack while he went gallivanting about. Regain control of Canterlot first, then push onto Ponyville.
“I know where she was. But my orders stand.”
“As you wish.”
They set off with haste, leaving the ponies who had failed in their assassination attempt to contemplate that fact. After many long minutes of silence, one spoke up.
“…I think I have to pee.”
- - - -
Raindrops grunted as she hit the cell wall.
The Battle of Ponyville had gone poorly, despite the best efforts of her and her friends. They had fought hard. With everything they had, even managing to fell a good half dozen of those damned stormcrows in the process. But the numbers of them and their ranger allies had overwhelmed them in the end. Raindrops winced as she slowly sat upright, a chorus of ugly, purple bruises beginning to already show through her coat. She supposed she was lucky that they weren’t in a killing mood at the moment.
Her friends were locked up in a pair of cells across the way, Moon Dancer throughly unconscious thanks to a powerful kick from one of the stormcrows. Another grunt filled the cell as Apple Bloom was roughly tossed in after her. The moment she hit the floor, she was already jumping back to her hooves, charging the bars as the rangers slammed them shut.
“Don’t you walk away from me!” Apple Bloom shouted. “Open these bars and fight me like a real pony! One on one, without your damn birds to pull ya out of the fire!”
One of the rangers snorted back at her. “Oh, give it a rest Apple Bloom! This temper bit of yours got old years ago!”
“You’re gonna yell at me for my temper Spring Burst? You stabbed us in the back you snake! And you hit me when my back was turned! After all those years I gave ya extra cider for the Rangers too! At cost!”
Spring Burst turned away from Apple Bloom and towards a half recovered Misty Fly. “Did that stupid bird we sent after Consul Rainbow Dash get back yet?”
“It did not,” she grumbled, rubbing at her head.
“See if you can get a few more to try and make contact with her! This is getting out of hoof. We can’t lock up the whole town in here if they decide to riot!”
“Fine! I’ll go tell the bird brains!” Misty Fly grumbled. “I can never tell if they can understand us or not…” She turned and trotted off, leaving Spring Burst to give Raindrops and Apple Bloom a scornful glare before following after.
Apple Bloom looked ready to try and bend the bars open, but Raindrops flopped backwards onto the lightly padded bench. For now, her part in this little war was done. She just hoped that Baroness Dazzle’s efforts were actually making some kind of headway. Grunting, she rolled onto her side and let herself try to get some sleep. It would at least pass the time.