// Story: A Knight's Tale
// Chapter: Chapter 2
// Author: lionel23
Knight Light pressed his body against the side of the red barn, sighing as he slumped down to the ground exhausted and out of breath. He was alone now and he bitterly resented having to make such a rash and thoughtless decision.
"Why… why must it always be like this?" he muttered to himself and slammed his head into the ground, his ragged breath kicking up the dirt around his nostrils, "Why doth everypony think I'm so important that they have to go running off and doing whatever they want…"
And why am I the only one that can't get to choose what I want to do? What about what I want?
He punched the dirt with one hoof, utterly frustrated by this infernal quest he was forced to embark on. It was his responsibility and his alone to save his people. It gnawed at him each and every day and night; the high expectations that he knew he must meet, or else the consequences were just too grave to imagine.
"I'm supposed to be a hero… but whoever thought that being a hero meant you had to be.. alone?"
Knight Light sighed and stood up, resigning himself back to the quest that he must accomplish… or else. It was that solitary fear that kept him going, even now that he was all alone. Alone without his knights. Alone without the Captain. Alone, all over again.
As he opened his eyes and turned, he ran smack dab into a big red mass.
Knight Light crumpled to the ground and rubbed his nose, as his face helm only covered his eyes and upper face, leaving both his nostrils and mouth exposed. After he deemed his nose to be sufficiently 'OK', he looked up to see what he ran into.
A giant red draft horse stood on all fours before him. The impact hadn't even budged the stallion from his stance and Knight Light looked in surprise at the towering giant. Knight Light was bigger than your regular pony, but this one particular pony before him made him seem like a filly in comparison. He had cream colored socks, a subdued orange mane and a giant, green apple on his flank.
The red draft horse chewed slowly on a piece of straw wheat, his eye raised in curiosity.
"Oh, I'm very sorry. I did not see thou there," Knight Light rose to his hooves slowly, shaking and dusting himself off before staring back up at the big horse, "And thou, kind Sir? It does not look to me that thou… art fazed at all."
Knight Light narrowed his eyes, sounding a bit miffed as he finished his last sentence. To think a pony of his station and stature couldn't even faze – must let budge – a common workhorse was just a little degrading in and of itself.
"Eee-yup," the red draft horse said and shifted his straw to the other side of his mouth, continuing his gaze at the stranger.
Knight Light bit back his tongue. The only thing racing in his mind was that he couldn't be involving simple villagers in the current mess that he was in, especially if worse came to worse. His honor as a knight demanded that he do what he could to protect the innocent and weak, and he wasn't about to let this little misstep sidetrack him. He had to think up an excuse and quick! Though the draft horse before him hadn't muttered anything more than a single one-word response.
"I'm just passing through… yes, I'm just passing through," Knight Light raised his head proudly at the declaration, eyes closed as his words seemed to be more to convince himself than the stallion before him.
The draft horse stared at him for several long moments that seemed to stretch out into all eternity. The silence was beginning to make Knight Light nervous due to the lack of a response or even a reaction from the behemoth. He opened one of his eyes to stare at the red horse, who merely shifted his straw back and forth in his mouth while he chewed.
Knight Light began to feel sweat bead and drip down his face under his helmet. Was he just that bad at deceiving a 'simple' pony like the one in front of him? Did this draft horse perhaps possess some uncanny sort of perception that could easily see through his made-up story?
The draft horse opened his mouth to speak, but a voice on the other side of the barn began calling out for him.
"Big Mac, where in tarnation are you? We have to clear the south fields by sundown or else we won't be ready to go to market!" spoke a voice with a very heavy southern drawl.
"I sincerely apologize for my lack of manner but I really must be going," Knight Light turned away to leave but hesitated as he turned his head back towards the draft horse to pose a question, "Kind gentlecolt, before I depart…could thou tell me in which direction is the nearest village to here?"
* * *
Twilight Sparkle, Spike (who was riding lazily on Twilight's back), Angel Song, and Pinkie Pie arrived at the edge of Sweet Apple Acres. The group stopped before the wooden fences that led from the vast apple orchard fields towards her barn and house.
"Let's go get Applejack then," Twilight nodded to Pinkie Pie before turning back to her guest, "This should only take a moment, do you mind waiting here for just a second?"
Angel Song shook her head calmly, standing in a graceful and elegant pose.
"Not at all, do what you need to do Twilight Sparkle. I will wait here patiently."
Pinkie Pie followed after Twilight and the mounted Spike as they trotted off towards the house to retrieve their friend. Angel Song spied the three with a raise brow and waited until they were out of sight. Once she was certain they were sufficiently far enough away from her present position, she used her magic to open her saddlesack that was on her back and pulled out the book that Twilight had given to her earlier.
"Now, back to that most fantastic tale," she nearly giggled in glee as she set the book on the top of a nearby fencepost and began reading where she left off.
The story she had been reading was about a handsome princely pony from a faraway land. Apparently some great calamity had befallen his home and he was out searching for the most perfect and powerful pony princess to save his kingdom from harm. Unfortunately for the prince, said princess was the unfortunate victim of circumstance – in this case being the captive of a wild dragon.
"Oh, this is so romantic…" Angel Song muttered wistfully to herself, "What I wouldn't give to meet a real live prince. And anypony other than that infernal Blueblood…"
She shivered as she mentioned his name. Prince Blueblood was the very antithesis of how she imagined a true Prince to be. Thinking back, she remembered some sort of 'incident' had happened at last year's Grand Galloping Gala involving the Prince and some high class unicorn, but the details escaped her at the moment as something else had caught her attention and eye.
"Thank you and fare thee well," a voice called out from the direction of the huge barn on Applejack's property.
Angel Song's ears perked up at the words. The words hinted at a calm and cool demeanor that the speaker most definitely possessed, but it was the use of the old speech that really caught her attention. No one really spoke in that manner anymore except for a certain Princess who had been adjusting to how things were in the present and not a thousand years ago.
Peering over the top of the book as if it really provided any concealment or cover for the unicorn, Angel Song's managed to catch a glimpse of a pony clad in a fancy blue caparison and barding trot away from the barn. His route through the orchard fields was unusual as he avoided the path that Twilight and her friends had taken to approach the property, and leant much to the reason why neither party encountered each other.
"That's a definitely roundabout way to be going…" Angel Song said to herself as she observed the decorated pony's movements.
He turned this way and that, and from his heading Angel Song postulated that he must be trying to get to Ponyville. Though why wouldn't he just go straight down the path if that was his intent?
Looking down at the book, she noticed an illustration that had somehow eluded her attention. It featured a fancy looking pony glad in a similarly stitched caparison like the pony trotting across the very fields in front of her. Could this be… a prince? Did pony tales really do come true?
Giggling with glee, Angel Song couldn't help but contain her excitement at the prospect that this was her story coming to life! To think, right before her very eyes could be a member of… royalty! And he definitely did NOT look like a certain blue-blooded prince back in Canterlot.
She slipped the book quickly back into her saddlesack and started to trot quickly after the unsuspecting pony lost in the field. Taking a more direct path to intercept and cut him off, Angel Song laid in wait, patiently waiting for the strange pony to come to her.
"Hmm, that gentlecolt said it was somewhere this way… and this apple orchard is much larger than I imagined…" spoke a deep voice that only grew louder in volume as the speaker near her position.
Excitement was building up to almost unprecedented levels for the usually calm unicorn. She could literally feel this pony getting closer and closer to her location. He seemed to be very well-mannered and spoke with a certain air of class in his tone. She crossed her hooves over her chest, praying that if he was really a Prince like she thought he would be, that at the very least he was nothing like Prince Blueblood. Now THAT would be a major disappointment!
So with final adieus, Angel Song stepped out into the strange pony's path at the perfect instance… and was immediately enthralled and taken by his garb. He wore over much of his body a quilted blue caparison which was lined with white markings and diamond shapes etched along its edges. On his flank atop his caparison was an etching of his cutie mark; a white fairytale castle resting over a gray tower shield. He had an armored mane guard and a helmet that covered up most of his face except his ears and his mouth, while the helmet itself had a pair of stylish wing protrusions that ran underneath either side of his face.
Angel's eyes were wide and bright with excitement, and she couldn't help but step slowly closer to him as he headed towards her. The stranger had yet to spot the unicorn, however, as he was still busy trying to get his bearings.
"Greetings, kind sir," Angel Song spoke softly and eloquently, her calm and feminine voice sounding almost alluring if the knightly stranger had been paying any attention.
Knight Light stopped in his tracks and looked at the snow-white unicorn that now barred his path. The sight of her nearly took his breath away, but remembering his station he quickly recovered before it became too noticeable – though to Angel Song it was all the same. The decorated pony took a deep breath and puffed up his chest, as he recognized he was truly in the presence of a lady of high society or standing.
"Hail and well met, milady," he spoke regally, nodding to the gorgeous mare before him.
Her shimmering two-toned blue mane blew gently in the breeze, and for some reason he felt his face becoming somewhat flushed beneath his helmet as the mare he addressed began to creep ever so slowly towards him. Her shimmering, bright eyes seem to glimmer beneath the few rays of sunlight that bled through the leaves of the surrounding apple trees about them; it give her an enchanting look that only he and he alone could bear witness to.
"Forgive me, sir. I could not help but notice you coming from that farm over yonder… and it doesn't look to me that you are just any ordinary farm pony, am I right? Unless this is the new fashion for farmers?"
"Oh… was it really that noticeable?" the armored pony raised a hoof and looked himself over, "I guess I'm not the type to not stand out, am I?"
Angel Song chuckled and smiled broadly as the other pony gave her a half-hearted grin.
"I'm afraid you're not. Let me properly introduce myself though; I am Angel Song and I am very pleased to make your acquaintance."
"Oh, thou are? Well, my name is Knight Light, and I am at thy service, milady," Knight Light raised one of his front legs and bent it as he closed his eyes and held his head high in the most regal and noblest of fashion.
The unicorn Angel Song could feel her heart skip a beat as she drew ever so nearer, as she took in all the finer details of the pony in front of her, it was then that she noticed for the first time that this pony had white socks around his hooves and the tip of his mouth. Despite those few features, the rest of his body was as black as coal while his tail – the only visible part of his hair from his caparison – was a slick, jet black and blue tail that seemed to cascade down behind him.
"Knight Light? My, that is a curious name you have there," she giggled and smiled coyly at him.
"Well, it's nothing all that spectacular to brag about, milady…" Knight Light opened his eyes, his face still flushed and quite thankful that all the knights from his homeland wore something to cover their faces. Though not intended for occasions like this, he was just glad to have it on in this situation. He made a mental note to thank the tailor ponies for crafting such clothing for his knights.
However, blinking in surprise he began to notice how close the unicorn before him was nearing. He looked up to gently remind the lady mare of the possible improprieties that could be misconstrued in their situation, and what ramifications that might entail for a gentlecolt as himself. But it was then that their eyes met for the first time. His rich, marine blue eyes met her own stormy gray ones and – but for one fleeting moment – he thought he could see the swirling emotions in hers. He felt his chest tighten a little but couldn't quite place what was making him feel that way, as if a knot had tied itself up inside him; nor could Angel Song herself figure out what was giving her butterflies in her own stomach.
Regardless, despite the nervousness that came with meeting someone new, for some reason Knight Light felt a bit calmer with the mare before him. It was as if he could forget all his worries and frustrations – if even for a moment – just by staring into her eyes. Still staring longingly at one another, Angel Song's stormy eyes seemed to be a reflection of his own troubles in his, yet they were also somehow absorbing his worries.
Time passed slowly for the two ponies and for both of them there was no awkwardness at all. In fact, to anypony else it might seem strange with the prolonged silence that hung between the two but to each of them it felt as if time had stopped. Words at that moment were simply a superfluous luxury that really wasn't needed for the two to communicate with one another. It would have gone on for far longer too if it wasn't for a certain pony and her friends calling out to them to break their spell-binding concentration.
"Angel Song? Angel Song? Oh! There you are!" called Twilight Sparkle as she galloped at a brisk pace to rejoin her guest.
Both the ponies turned at Twilight came upon their location, followed closely by Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Spike.
"That's the one! See, see what I mean? He dresses all fancy and strange looking and stuff!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed at the top of her lungs and began bouncing excitedly around Twilight in glee.
Twilight Sparkle didn't move her head as her eyes followed Pinkie Pie like a bouncing ball in a sing-a-long, and Angel Song giggled at the random reaction of the pink pony. But such a moment was brief as Angel Song soon caught something out of the corner of her eye.
The knightly pony scrunched up his face as the sudden 'crowd' drew near and began to cautiously back away. He turned to his side as if he… as if he were about to make a run for it! And just as she predicted, the fancy pony broke off into a sprint away from the gathering group; however, he didn't get far away as a clear and beautiful voice called to him in distress.
"Please, Sir Knight… don't leave," Angel Song pleaded desperately for him to stop, though never raising her voice above that of a lady.
Knight Light could feel his strength and energy in his legs get sapped away by the power of her voice, as if her words somehow carried an enchanted tone hidden amongst her words. He let momentum and gravity eventually slow down his pace until at last he came to a stop. Ruefully, he turned his head to look back at the other ponies behind him.
"I was never one to deny a request from a lady…" he muttered, feeling defeated as he stood there with downtrodden eyes, gazing at the ground.
The group decided to make it easy on him and move over to him instead of vice-versa. Soon, Twilight stood side-by-side with Angel Song as they presented themselves before the knight. Spike slid off Twilight's back and Applejack flanked Twilight opposite of the white unicorn.
"Hello, I am Twilight Sparkle, what is your name, sir?" Twilight spoke calmly, enunciating her words clearly and precisely for a pony befit her education.
"I am Sir Knight Light, a pleasure to make thy acquaintance," he bowed and extended a hoof.
Twilight looked at him in confusion, which only made the whole gesture more awkward as Knight Light's hoof began to shake slightly as he continued to bow low yet balance himself on three legs. He was about to pull it back when Angel Song nudged Twilight and whispered into her ears.
"Twilight, he's a chivalrous pony. Tradition dictates that he formally greets ladies with a kiss," she lectured Twilight sternly.
"Oh? Oh! A kiss?" Twilight sounded both surprised and embarrassed at the words.
"On your hoof, it's how knights do things… at least, that is what that book you lent me says if it's true. He does seem to be quite a character…" Angel Song pushed for Twilight to do as she said, though for Angel Song it was to more properly gauge what would be the correct response when it was her turn.
Twilight's pupils shrunk as she eventually came to terms with it and promptly presented her right hoof to him, which he gladly took and placed a gentle, brief kiss upon it.
Twilight blushed a little at the archaic but sweet greeting, before she heard Spike 'clear' his throat from behind her.
"Oh that's right. This here is Angel Song, if you hadn't already met?"
"We did not have a… proper introduction," Knight Light said as he looked to the snow white unicorn.
Angel Song blushed, inside herself she felt giddy with anticipation after having watched how he did it with Twilight. And now it was her turn!
She slowly lifted her hoof for him to take, savoring every moment of the encounter. He looked up at her and brought his lips to her hoof and slowly kissed it. Twilight and Angel Song both noted it seemed to be longer than what was traditionally demanded if Twilight's little display was to the basis of such judgment, but then again nopony there other than the knight had any idea of what tradition dictated.
"And this," Twilight politely interrupted, clearing her own throat," Is my friend Applejack and Spike."
"Well met, Lady Applejack, and to thou also, Sir Spike," Knight Light greeted Applejack in the same manner (though Applejack made a more blatant attempt to pass if it were not for Angel Song's insistence). For Spike, the knight instead gave an acknowledging nod as was appropriate to the gentleman before him.
"Oh my, ain't you just a proper gentlecolt," Applejack blushed lightly at his greeting.
"Of course, my fair apple lady. Tis only proper for a knight. And hail and well met, Sir Spike the Dragon."
"Sir Spike the Dragon… I like the sound of that," Spike said to himself, rubbing his chin as thoughts of grandeur seemed to occupy his mind.
"So," Twilight cleared her throat as all her friends seemed to have been caught up in the moment and she was the only one who had sufficiently recovered or kept their wits about themselves, "What brings you to Ponyville, Sir Knight Light?"
"Is that the name of thy quaint village? Pardon my manners, for I am unfamiliar with thy's… customs. I hail from a faraway land and have traveled long and far to get here. Pray tell, can thou tell me if Canterlot close by?"
"Indeed it is, Sir Knight," Twilight assured him, gesturing towards the north with an open hoof, "It's about a day's journey north of Ponyville. Do you have some business in Canterlot that brings you out so far?"
"Thou could say that," Knight Light said a little uneasily as he looked over at Angel Song briefly before returning his gaze to Twilight Sparkle, "I must meet with the Royal Canterlot family, but I am very much fatigued from my long journey. Would it be all right for me to impose on thou for a place to rest my hooves and regain my strength? I am quite weary, afterall."
"Of course, you can stay at my place. We have some wonderful tea prepared that I know will rejuventate you, as well as some of the best cookies in all of Ponyville," Twilight gave Spike a subtle wink at the compliment she just gave him.
Spike blushed at the oblique compliment while Angel Song sidled up alongside Knight Light as the group headed back towards Twilight's place.
"I like the sound of that. I thank thee, fair lady," he said, though he couldn't help but notice the continued gaze of the white unicorn besides him.
Not that he minded all that much, of course!