The Pieces Lie Where They Fell

by Evilhumour

Chapter Twenty Five: Xvital

Chapter Twenty-Five




Xvital huffed as she waited for Night to show up; how long did it take for a guy to ask for directions? She was sorely tempted to go out and get the directions herself.
“I am back everypony,” Night said, walking back into the alley. “And I got-”
“Hey, where's my booze?” Wind said storming his way forwards to the bat pony.
“I threw it out Wind Breaker,” Night snapped at the griffon. “Now as I was saying-”
“What the hell Night, that wasn’t yours to toss away,” Xvital said as she pulled herself directly in front of him.
Excuse me, but--”
“No buts,” she leaned down to stare him directly in the eyes. “Look Night, Wind has an alcohol problem and we can’t have you go acting on your own ideas in how to deal with it. I mean, he said he was going to sell those bottles; that’s one less we can get cash for later on. I don’t know why you didn’t think things through Night,” she growled into her hand; Night had just made dealing with a sobering Wind Breaker that much more possibly problematic. “Did you at least remember to do what you went out for?”
NIght just deepened his glare at her before tilting his head upwards. “I got directions,” he barked at her. He then shoved a small booklet into her hands before walking over to Page, pushing Wind Breaker hard out of his way. Nearby, Vix-Lei winced and Rex shook his head. Page just whispered something to Night and the batpony seemed like he was starting to calm down, his body starting to deflate.
Shaking her head at how unstable and rude of a partner Night was turning out to be, Xvital opened the booklet and began to study the map, looking up at the street sign to get herself situated.
“-owe me a bottle, Night,” she flicked an ear, hearing the tail end of Wind grumbling something under his beak. Great, having Wind seeing conflict and a reason to spite drink Night would only make Wind take longer to sober up.
“Okay everyone, I have an idea where we need to go,” she announced, folding up the map and putting it into her bag. She then began to lead them out of the alley, with Night taking the rear. “It should be a number of blocks down the way with some twists and turns. We should be fine if no one get lost or mixed up.” She looked at them, eyes lingering on Night. As he was in the back, it was his job to make sure that they didn’t get lost or separated.
Of course, Night just glowered at her.
She continued down the street, pausing at every intercross to make sure she was going the right way, taking a massive detour when they went past the shipyard. She was sure that they couldn’t be spotted from the skimmers but she wasn’t going to take the risk and the shipyard would be one of the few open areas in the highly packed Lower so their chance at being caught would be even greater. Vix-Lei looked a little wistful when they turned away from it, but said nothing.
Xvital made sure she kept an eye on the crowd they passed, muttering prayers that no one tried to turn them in. Her skin tingling whenever someone looked at them too long, her tail flicking as she felt the urge to bring out her knife to defend herself. She also had to bite back a snarl as she stepped into garbage again, with her doing her best to shake off the sludge off her fingers for a fif-
“Hey kitty cat,” Vix-Lei called out, reaching out to tap her shoulders. “Don’t know about you, but I think we could do for a break. Get some lunch, you know?” As soon as the minotaur mentioned that, her stomach started to grumble loudly.
With a sigh, Xvital pulled them off to the side, into an alley and began to root around her pack for some food with everyone else doing the same. Rex had packed the bags perfectly, somehow guessing each of their preferences correctly, the bits of dried fish going down her mouth greedily with the diamond dog eating some of his gems with ease. Xvital blinked, wondering how sharp his teeth had to be able to eat gems. She found herself running over her own teeth, and her eyes darting over to Night’s fangs, the bat pony savagely sucking away at a mango and tilted her head. She’d always thought bat ponies eating like that - tearing a hole in their food to suck out the juices, which were not usually from fruit - was just a stereotype, but here was Night eating like a character from the creepy stories that were so not allowed to ever be seen by a bat pony.
“Everyone good?” she asked after they were done eating, getting nods from all of them, wiping her hands clean on herself. “Then let’s go, I think we should be there shortly; this area seems to be somewhat familiar…”
She continued to lead them down the streets, a smile breaking out on her face as the streets became very familiar. Padding on all four of her hands, she turned the corner to see the temple to Luna.
It was like almost any other temple to the pony goddesses: a massive domed structure that took up an entire city block, its second floor consisted of recessed walls that ultimately gave way to a retractable roof, designed so that ponies could view the goddess’ holy celestial body and whisper prayers unto it and their goddess during times of worship. Like all other temples to Luna, it had been decorated with symbols and icons towards the moon goddess, with small nods towards Celestia and the sun. It was the same with the sun goddess temples - the ponies had said each sister loved the other and would have been saddened if the other was not included in some way.
Of course, this temple had seen far better days. All the silver and gems were long gone, the paint chipped away to show the bare stone and the temple as a whole was in a state of disrepair with most of its windows boarded up and the few intact stained glass panes dirty with grime. The temple’s roof had a lot of rust stains on it, a few of the plates having gone missing and been replaced with makeshift water traps. The sides of the temple’s walls were covered with discarded garbage, both scattered freely or in bags, but what was really surprising was that ponies continued going into the temple with priests of Luna welcoming them in. How this place was still considered a proper temple was beyond Xvital.
“This is it,” she told them, walking towards the acolytes that were welcoming the visitors in. She tilted her head up to them and said, “We need to see Father Evergreen Road about some business down below.” She paused as she stared at the two young ponies, one a light green earth pony and the other a steel grey unicorn, sharing an uneasy look between them. “It’s urgent.”
“Look miss,” one of them said, raising a hoof. “The father is quite busy at the moment and-”
“Xvital, is that you?” an old, friendly voice suddenly called. An elderly unicorn wearing a fraying priest cloak of Luna appeared from the entranceway and trotted over to her. “Come in, please don’t stay out longer than you must.” He waved them inside, tutting like an old man would do, keeping the act up so well that Xvital almost believed him. He began to ask her general questions as they moved through the temple’s ground floor, with him waving off the acolytes to tend to the other attendees as they reached the staircase. As soon as they were in the small stairwell, Evergreen dropped the act and narrowed his eyes at her. “You better fucking pray to your damn gods that you were not followed,” he snapped, shaking his head. “You nearly gave me a damn heart attack when you showed up with that big of a bounty on your head. The last thing I need is Sweet’s Guards pawing around here.”
Please, I’m no rookie,” Xvital huffed and rolling her eyes. “Besides, don’t you have enough cash on hand to pay off the Guards?”
“Ah I wish,” he sighed, shaking his head as he lead them down to his true workplace. “Times are hard and money is tight. I had to sell a lot of this place’s books and finery to pay down my gambling tab and the mares and drinks are not cheap, not the good ones at least and I do not drink or screw second rate crap.”
Xvital turned her head in time to see Page staring in shock at him, her mouth opening and closing before she said, “You must be the most corrupt priest I have ever seen.”
“Now see here,” Evergreen said in a sharp voice. “I am not a corrupt priest; I am a fraud priest.” He chuckled, leaning on the magically locked door as he always amused telling his story. “I just came here, put on the robe and these idiots thought I was a priest!” He let out a bray of laughter, trying to steady himself so he could open the door. “Best racket I’ve got into and nopony can touch me! I mean, if the Guards ever get wind of me, I’ll just claim that sanctuary bullshit and stay put and those two idiot foals upstairs won’t say shit to the Holy Moon order because of the dirt I have on them.” Night’s jaw dropped, shock clean in his face. Which, of course, Evergreen saw as a means to push his luck, the old alcoholic womanizing gambling blasphemous piece of shit. “What, too offensive in your goddess’s place among us mere mortals?” He flicked his eyes at her as he finally opened the door and stepped into his office. He used his magic to summon a bottle of rebranded cheap booze that he always bought and poured it into a cup that she knew that was suppose to be used for high holidays only. “So Xvital, two points of order before we move on,” he said as he took a long drink. “One, did you get me those sacred texts? My buyers are getting really antsy for an answer and I don’t want to have to explain to them that the mare I blew up their plots couldn’t deliver the goods. Two, care to tell me why the fuck did you not wait for night time?”
“First off, no, I didn’t get them,” Xvital growled. “Due to circumstances beyond my control. Second, we’re here for certain other reasons.” She jerked a thumb at Wind Breaker who was inspecting several of the fake father’s bottles of alcohol. “He needs a tracker out so we can get the Mictlan out of this city and away from something nasty and the ponies it’s manipulating. Up to and including the Guards.” She gave him a pointed look. “And it’s after us specifically, so the sooner we’re done here, the less likely it is that you’ll get caught up in this. Comprendé?
He looked at her with a raised eyebrow before letting out a huff and went behind his desk and began to root around for something. “I’m not doing this for free,” he said, placing a thick book down onto the top of the desk, causing Wind Breaker to gasp loudly. “Oh stop your gasping; these Master Ledgers aren’t that hard to come by if you know what you’re doing. Or removing those master Tracers spells on you,” he scoffed angrily, hinting at his past. No one know of his exact past but he knew a lot of stuff that came from the top of the government.
“I’ll give you thirty six Lunas,” she said, her tail hand dipping into her pack.
He snorted at her, shaking his head. “No dice, Xvital,” he said. “This is big stuff, removing a griffon’s Tracker spell without setting off the alarms. I want something bigger, like those scrolls you said you could steal.”
Xvital felt a glare directed at her back, with Page almost growling at her. “Well again, I didn’t get a chance to steal anything. And with what’s after us, including the Guards…”
“And I can toss you out and deny any connection between you and me and if you do squeal on me, I will make you squeal in pain,” he snarled at her, leaning heavily on the desk with his horn glowing. “Now make it worth my while or-” he froze, tilting his head. “You four; open your bags now.” Turning around, she saw that he was looking at Page Turner, Vix-Lei, Wind Breaker and Rex.
No, they’re not for sale,” Xvital said crossing her arms.
“Be quiet, filly,” he snapped, his voice shifting from his usual con-like tone into something much sharper which startled her. “Let me see those things.”
With a frown on their faces, the four of them took out their Elements and placed it on the desk. At the sound of metal brushing against something, she turned her head to see that Night had drawn his sword but was holding it against his side so it looked like it was still in its sheath.
He took out one of those gem examinater things, placed it under his eye and began to turn the Elements around, muttering things under his breath.
He was examining them all, spending almost ten minutes looking at each of them while writing things down. He finally stopped, pushed the Elements back to them and took out the eye thingy. He then took a drink from the bottle itself before he spoke. “Xvital, where did you find these… things? They are unlike anything I have seen in the past and while I am no Violet Lulamoon, even I can tell they’ve got enormous potential stored in them.”
“It’s all tied to this nasty thing after us, Evergreen,” she said, leaning across the table and handing back the Elements to the group with her tail hand. “It’s very complicated and we’ve got two more to get and-”
“Okay, here’s the deal,” he said, tapping the desk. “Once you’ve got the rest of them, come back to show me.”
“This isn’t like you,” Xvital said slowly. “Not that I am complaining, but you usually jump at the chance to make money.”
“This is worth more than just money,” he said before shaking his head and jabbing a hoof into her chest. “Never tell anypony I just said that.”
“Fine, you’ve got yourself a deal,” she spat into her hand and held it out towards him. He spat into his hoof and they shook on it.
“Good,” he then tilted his head at Wind Breaker who was placing his Element back into his bag. “You, come here now.”
Wind Breaker gulped and walked over to the old pony who plucked a handful of feathers off his chest. “OW!” Wind shouted, flapping his wings and rubbing his chest in pain. “What the fu-
“Shut it colt,” he snapped as he held the feathers up in his magic before he began to look through his book. “What is your name?”
“Uh, Wind Breaker,” the griffon said as he settled on all fours. “Why the fu-”
“Do you know how to remove a Tracker spell?” he snapped, causing Wind to fold backwards. “No? Then shut up and let me get to work!” He then began to look through the book again, muttering to himself. “Go upstairs and stay out of sight, I’ll call you down when I’m ready.”
Wind Breaker glanced at Xvital, who nodded and headed for the door. With the others behind her, she led them out and into the back of the sanctuary.
“Are you sure we can trust this… person?” Night Blade asked as he sheathed his sword before settling down.
“About as far as I could throw Vix-Lei,” Xvital muttered. “But he knows his stuff. Right now, this is our best shot.” She sighed. “Once we’re done here, our next stop is as far away from this city as possible. We should be safe then. I hope.”
Night Blade frowned, but nodded. “How long will this take?”
“Hopefully no more than half an hour.” She sighed. “We’ll find out.”
Everyone nodded, and then settled in to wait.