Twilight snorted awake and looked blearily at what had awoken her. She found Spike standing in front of her, arms crossed, and tapping his foot with a frown. She noted the darkness outside her window and immediately knew why Spike was upset. “I can’t just ignore this, Spike.”
Spike sighed. “I’m not saying you should. If that person that spoke to you is right, you’ve got a very big fight in store. But that fight’s not happening tonight or tomorrow. Go to sleep, Twi.”
“But we have no idea when he’ll arrive! I have to prepare! I have to make sure I have plans, contingencies!”
Spike frowned at her again, then he started quoting the prophecy Twilight had told him. “The Eater of All comes, and none may End him. Death cannot reach him, and Life will not free him. His herald shall be the rise of Reality’s Chosen, his vanguard their shadows. The First will be the Bridge Between the Dawn and the Dusk. The Second shall be the Mother of All. The Third shall be the Heart of all Love. The Fourth shall be the Shattered Soul. The Fifth shall be the Thief of Excess. The Sixth shall be the Prismatic Blur.”
“Three times shall the Gatekeepers bell toll. One, the Architect of the Bridge will know the other half’s pain. Two, the The Illusion will fall, halting Genocide. Three, he is here. All has been consumed.”
“But Beware the tale of the Eater of All. It is all paved in gold.”
Twilight looked at him in confusion, and he explained himself. “Ever since you discovered Star Swirl’s prophecy regarding Nightmare Moon, I’ve been looking up prophecy and the magic that surrounds them. That the prophecy was recited to you means you’re a large part of it. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say you’re Bridge between Dawn and Dusk. You’re one of the heralds, Reality’s Chosen. Considering there’s six heralds, it’s safe to assume all of our friends will be heralds, and likely will all awaken Hero Souls before the Bell starts ringing. You've got time.”
Twilight considered that. “But why us?” she asked. “We’re nothing special. A scholar, a farmer, an entertainer, a seamstress, an athlete, and a veterinarian.”
“Says the point one percenter Unicorn,” Spike said with a snort. Twilight blushed at the reminder that she was at a magical level that quite literally only point one percent of the Unicorn population of Equestria ever reached. Spike sighed. “Look, I don’t know why all of this stuff surrounds you and the girls, Twi. What I do know is that exhausting yourself like this looking for answers that probably aren’t even there isn’t going to end well.”
Twilight went to argue, but Spike stopped her. “The Reality Eater shows up tomorrow,” he said so suddenly it took a moment for Twilight to process this. “What do you do?”
“Well… I… I don’t know, Spike! That’s why I need to do research on this!”
“You have spent the entire night researching. Before you go to bed, the Reality Eater has arrived. You are running on no sleep on top of no information. You miss crucial details due to exhaustion and you and your friends die in vain.”
Twilight’s expression drooped. “But…”
“No buts, Twi. You are terrible at catching obvious details when you’re exhausted. Go to bed, and come back to this when you’re not tired,” Spike almost ordered.
After a tense moment between the two, Twilight finally sighed and gave Spike a small smile. “You’re right, Spike.” She shook her head. “Sometimes I wonder which one of us is really the guardian here. You seem to take care of me just as much as I take care of you.”
Spike shrugged with a smile, and made sure Twilight was getting ready for bed before going back to bed himself.
As Twilight curled into bed however, she couldn’t quite shake the feeling that she was missing something important.
Rarity yawned and settled in to bed herself, having just finished a rather important order for tomorrow. She turned off the lights in her room and fell asleep fairly easily.
She was completely unaware of the figure lurking outside her home, waiting for just this moment.
Shifter the thief nodded to himself when he felt a magical ping alerting him to Rarity’s sleep. He had managed to tag her with a low level spell that had only one function; break connection between it and Shifter when the one it was planted on fell asleep. It was a useful piece of work for him, at least when it came to these small building heists.
As he slowly approached the front door, he found himself thinking of the Thieves Code. All thieves quickly learn of the code when they begin thieving, and for the most part its rules are more suggestions than anything. But there are three codes that the thieving community enforced viciously.
Taking a pair of lockpicks from a pouch strapped to his front left leg, Shifter made quick work of the rudimentary lock on the front door. Small town homes, Shifter mused with a silent chuckle. Small communities tended to trust each other quite a bit, and rarely went out of their way to drastically secure their homes.
And Ponyville was no exception to the rule. It was like one massive family. Good ponies.
Rule One: Never ruin the lives of good ponies.
It was incredibly easy for a thief to ruin the life of their victim, Shifter mused. Some deserved it. Greedy nobles, corrupt government officials… there was a fairly long list of people who could use a nice wake up call that their lifestyle was wrong.
Longer was the list of ponies who didn’t deserve to looted to bedrock. Ponies who gave to charity, ponies who helped lost children find their parents, ponies that gave to other without expecting anything in return. These were the ones that thieves refused to rob blind, and for good reason. Not only did a thief hold honor and integrity quite high, but if a thief did ruin the life of a good pony, it tended to severely rattle the hornet nest and set the community against them. Nevermind the fire that gets lit under the collective plots of law enforcement…
As Shifter went from room to room trying to find where Rarity likely kept her stuff, he thought to himself that having a crew right about now would be helpful. It would surely speed things up. Unfortunately, Shifter had no crew so he had to do his heists alone.
Rule Two: Never betray your crew.
The price a thief paid for betraying your crew was a steep one. You would lose the trust of any thief you may come across, no thief would lift a hoof to help you, and the pooled resources available to all thieves in the many hidden caches around Equestria was kept out of your reach. Magic made that all too easy.
A steep price indeed.
Shifter opened an upstairs bedroom door and crept in, knowing it was only a guest room and had no one in there. He closed the door and turned, beginning to scan the room. A portrait, a discolored section of wall, or even a slightly out of place rug. Those where some of the things he sought.
Shifter froze, his eyes swivelling to the bed. A tiny form shifted under the blankets, small enough that it could only be a foal. A white Unicorn with a two toned pink and purple mane sat up, rubbing her eyes.
There was a knife strapped to his leg. A quick motion and it would be lodged in her throat. She wouldn’t be able to do anything more than die silently and slowly. Quick and quiet. Shifter could do it before the small filly even realized he was there. Easily. Easy.
Rule Three: Never take a life.
The knife never left its sheath, and Shifter hastily hid behind some garishly plush and pink curtains to avoid getting made. He dared not move, barely even breathed, and could only listen.
“Nnn...Guess it was just the wind…”
Shifter heard the covers of the bed rustle a little more, and then still. Straining his hearing, he listened. He waited. Eventually he heard what he was waiting for. The filly’s breathing evened out and slowed. She was asleep.
Very, very slowly, Shifter left the room. ‘That was too close.’ he thought to himself once in the hallway and the door had been shut silently. ‘Hmm… she said sis. That must be Sweetie Belle, Rarity Belle’s sister. She must have come over to stay with her sister when I wasn’t paying attention.’
He had thought of his knife, Shifter was ashamed to admit to himself. The inclination to use it to prevent being caught had, very briefly crossed his mind. Thank the Stars he could control himself.
A thief was not an assassin. They did not kill. A dead pony was a blatant trail, and a sign that the thief was incapable of stealth. More than that, a thief held honor above all else, whereas an assassin sold their honor to the highest bidder.
Violators of the third rule... well, there were no violators of the third rule. None alive anyways.
Shifter turned to check a different room and froze. There was a simple looking wooden cane pointed at his face not a foot in front of him. It had a heavy looking wooden ball on the end of it. The one gripping the cane in her blue magic was Rarity.
“Son of a biscuit eating mother trucker…” Shifter swore quietly, wide eyed. “How the heck did you know…?”
He had been caught.