Author's Note: I'M NOT DEAD. YET. Sorry for the really late chapter! Oh, and my pre-reader is asleep, so any mistakes are his fault! MWUHAHA! I have had a serious case of Writer's Block, overall laziness, need to criticize those bad stories that you see on the front page, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent-itis. That's right. It was mostly due to the Writer's Block and me buying Amnesia, though. And let me tell you, they really meant it when they said you shouldn't play at night, in a dark room, with max volumed-headphones. *Shiver* But I finished! So the schedule is back to normal now, hopefully. A new 2k-4k chapter every 2-4 days. If I don't keep this planned return, shoot me in the head with my own potato launcher, please.
“We hath arrived!” Princess Luna exclaimed a cheerfully as she possibly could, which suffice to say, was not much.
It was a tiring and time-consuming march from Ponyville to Canterlot. Considering it took half a day’s time, and they had gone sometime in the early afternoon, one would think they’d have arrived in the late evening or night. But this was not the case. No, this estimation was made in cases of ponies not being forced out of their homes, made bedraggled, and emotionally hurt.
Seeing as how they were made all of the above, the trip was delayed considerably. But at least Prince Luna and Celestia’s worst case scenarios had not come true. For the worst, the Overlord could have given chase, and taken many more of the royalty’s citizens. But no chase was given, only refuge. The trip was hindered by outside forces, however.
The ponies of Ponyville had not packed much food, only things like family treasures, photo albums, and other mementos. Clothes, money, and food were left behind. So basically, there was no food. The only pony to have brought any food were the Cakes, and even they had not brought enough to feed everypony. It was chaotic, to say the least. First and foremost, the Princesses were fed. After that, the Elements and the Cakes themselves. But passed those two groups, the rest of the feeding was a frenzy. Ponies jumped, kicked, and screamed at each other to eat something.
Princess Celestia and Luna had to move on. There were no rest stops, villages, or cities in between the two places. They were in somewhat close proximity, so it was expected to go fed, bathed, and ready. Also, the day had not helped any further. The almost scorching hot sun distracted and irritated many of the refugees, considering they were not only starving, but ragged.
Not only were these the things that disturbed them, but there were also the dangers of roadside bandits, thieves , and woodland creatures. Many were fearful of sudden attacks on the caravan, along with the thoughts of the Minions coming to get them. But after reassuring their subjects many times, the Princesses finally got the trail moving along again. And thus, it took them until the dead of night, the witching hour, to get to Canterlot.
As per usual, the streets of the place were empty. Mainly due to the late hour at which they had arrived. The ponies were tired, grumbling, and ill. The light lamp posts were still lit, and few guards were patrolling their daily rounds. But as soon as they group had arrived, the guards stirred and rushed to their majesties’ side.
“Princess Celestia!” A tired and unkempt Shining Armor adressed. “And Princess Luna, as well. What happened?!”
The two sisters looked at each other, conversing telepathically on how to explain the current situation. After some persuasion, Princess Celestia sighed and gave in to her younger sister. “Fine, Lulu,” She turned to her Captain. “Well, the most important thing is that the guards settle these Ponyvillians to new homes. All of Ponyville is no longer inhabitable.”
Shining Armor nodded, and waved to a few sub-lieutenants to move over. “You, you, and you. Organize these civilians and get them to proper sleeping quarters. There’s plenty of room in the left wing of the castle.”
“Yes, sir!” They all answered. The three stoic, blue eyes, white coated, Pegasus stallions moved to their subordinates, ordering said soldiers to escort the disenchanted peoples.
The Princesses let out a collective sigh of relief, then they started to trot back to their rooms. Shining Armor stopped them abruptly with an extended hoof. “Hold on, Princesses. I know that it’s rude to stop you, but what happened to Ponyville.” He looked to both regal ponies for an answer.
Luna pawed around at the ground, looking at her sister expectantly. “What, why don’t you talk?” Celestia asked.
Luna just tilted her head in a cocky manner, almost saying “You owe me for that one time.”
Giving in to her sibling yet again, Princess Celestia began to recount the events of the day. She told him of how Ponyville was attacked, raided, and destroyed by a species that they had yet to see. She spoke of the ferocity of said beasts, and the sudden exertion they had experienced during the ensuing fight. It was as if something was weighing them down, as if somepony was working against them.
And then, Princess Celestia paused for a moment. The white Alicorn felt that burning sensation she had received when staring in the Overlord’s face. There were no words to describe it. Sure enough, the lower creatures that served the tall, bipedal Evildoer had visible faces, which bore definitive expressions. So the Princess knew that these things were somewhat similar to ponies, in that they could speak, show emotion, and perform specific functions by will, not instinct. But the Overlord was something else.
There was nothing definitive about him, nothing that showed expression. There were only those two, red, beady, piercing eyes. They glowed with an ungodly radiance, and the rest of his face was a pure black, as if he was shadow or death, itself. And that voice...it was eerie to say the least. Discord paled in comparison to the Overlord.
Discord stood for something, he stood for chaos. He wanted nothing but disharmony, but at least he was very objectionable. He hadn’t taken his acts to an extreme. Sure, he had changed the Element bearers from friends to foes, but it wasn’t in an extreme way. They merely fought with each other, and played tricks. But killing was never Discord’s intention. He leveled plains, alternated time, and defied physics, but never had he thought to slaughter their race. So in that, he was somewhat good intentioned.
The Overlord was entirely different. He wanted to conquer the land, to rule it. He was willing to do whatever it took to achieve his goal. Now, mind you, after he would become a ruler, he would be a lenient and noble leader. But that was his only wish, to be the leader of the realm in which he lived. He had been a fair ruler back on his own land. He had been sure to give the peasants of Spree their due protection and watch, and he was fair with his taxation, which was suffice to say, low.
The Overlord didn’t care about money, just having adventures, defeating all in his path, and having the occasional boast was good enough for him. Gnarl, on the other hand, loved money. Well, money and Evil to be more specific. He had a coda, a belief of sorts. Gnarl thought that those with the most power and Evil, should deserve to live in high standards, right? Red velvet rugs, giants feasts, and royal luxuries should be deserved by his Master. But a little money on the side for upgrades and the advisor imp himself wasn’t so bad, was it?
Shining Armor, Captain of the Royal Guard, Prince husband of Princess Cadence, and older brother of Twilight Sparkle, the Element of Magic, guffawed. “I’m sorry, what?” He asked after wiping some tears out of his eyes.
“Exactly what I said, Captain.” Princess Celestia replied, a stern look on her face.
“I apologize for the outburst, but evil? Evil hasn’t exactly been anywhere. I guess you could say that Queen Chrysalis was bad, but not evil. She had a pretty good reason from her perspective, to invade Canterlot. Although I still watch out to this day, she was only trying to save her starving and dying race. I’d do the same thing if I were in her hooves. But anyway, what exactly are you talking about?” Shining Armor inquired after explaining his take on the Changelings.
Princess Celestia turned her back towards the two older ponies, looking up at the moon-lit sky. “Have you ever seen a pony killed?”
“Well...no,” He reluctantly replied. “Except for wild animals, like Manticores, Hydras, and other things.”
“But have you seen or heard of it in any other case?”
“Right. In the other lands, killing isn’t as badly looked upon. But here, death comes from accidents, age, and nature. But never, have I seen a colt burned alive..let alone killed.” Princess Celestia answered solemnly.
“I’ve ruled for thousands of years, seeing precious friends and acquaintances pass in their sleep. All the while, Luna and I stay as how you see before you. It was hard at first, but we’ve learned to be mutual to it. But this is something else, Captain. This is war.”
Luna’s jaws dropped to the ground, while Shining Armor had grown stiff and fell on his side. He shakily got to his hooves as he looked at his sworn ruler. “W-war?!”
“I don’t see it any other way. This..Overlord, as they called him, had no compassion in his eyes, he had no mercy. All I could see was hate and a deep void of black. He, without thought, smacked Luna aside, who still has that pain, correct?”
Luna grumbled in response, rubbing her side to which still bruised.
“Tell me, would you have this any other way? I doubt negotiation is reasonable. His subjects expressed their wish to slay and enslave our kind. I wish there was another way, I so do. But there isn’t any. We must protect Equestria.”
“How are we going to do that?” Shining Armor was still trying to get around the fact that they were going to battle and kill others, but wanted to know her method.
“The Elements. For some reason, we were weakened during that first contact. I feel nothing now, except some exhaustion from the day. Are you alright, Luna?”
“Yes, We are harmed on the side, but tis nothing to be worried about.”
“That’s good to hear. But during the fight,” She explained. “There was something almost draining or restraining our power. We could’ve had him done there, perhaps even banished or teleported back to his home, but something was stopping is. But this time, we will combine our powers with that of the Elements of Harmony, and will save our world.”
Shining Armor sat down on his haunches, and began to think all of the viable methods to proceed. After some long, silent minutes, he nodded his head and spoke again. “What do you need me to do?”
“Protect Canterlot, and take in any displaced ponies. That is all.”
“But-” Shining Armor’s plea was interrupted by the sounds of frantic hooves, wings, and the like.
“Captain! Princess!” Three messenger guardsponies came. One was flying, visibly shaken and tired from a long flight. Another was ragged from galloping his entire route. And the third, a unicorn, was sitting down urgently, untouched like his fellow brothers. His teleportation spell hadn’t taken as much from him as the other two’s means had.
“One at a time, please.” Celestia asked.
The Pegasus guard moved up first. “Princess,” He began. “Reports have been filed all over the east side of Equestria. Zebrican is under siege from an army of small, ravenous monsters! The entire west coast of Zebrican has been taken! The delegates request aid from everyone else in the Alliance.”
The earth pony messenger moved up next. “My Princess,” He bowed in respect. “I’ve received word that the Diamond Dog Tribes are moving near Ponyville. The dragons have been sent into a rampage, destroying nearby settlements, and taking all of the gems they find. But there is some good news! The Griffin Kingdoms are finally cooperating with us! They were attacked, but were able to hold off the attackers. I received word that they are sending a detachment to deliver the attackers’ leaders.”
“The Diamond Dogs and the dragons? This is not good. But you said they are helping us now? That is good. We need to find out all that we can. What do yo-”
The calm guard finally began speaking erratically. “They took it! Quebark City has fallen! The dogs are slain, and our embassy there is destroyed. I’m the only one alive....”
“How could this get any worse?” Luna asked.
The guard turned to Luna. “They have the Changelings on their side.”
Shining Armor looked at everypony present. Clearing his throat, he rectified the situation. “Well, we’re fuc-”
After the gathering, the guards, including Shining Armor, went home. The Princesses retired to their rooms. For once in a long time, Luna asked to sleep in her sister’s room with her. They laid next to each other, stroking each other’s mane.
“What is going to happen, sister?” Luna asked, her blue eyes glittering in the dark.
“I don’t know, Lulu. So much has happened. But I won’t let them hurt you again.” Celestia smiled lovingly at her younger sibling.
The Princess of the night began to tear up. “I was so scared. When he hit me, I thought..” She was stopped as she was pushed into Celestia’s coat.
“Shhh...it’s okay. We got out of it, didn’t we? Just like how mom and dad promised that they’d always watch over us, I promised that I’d watch over you.” She said as she stroked Luna’s back gently.
“I miss them.” Luna said.
“What do you mean you’re leaving?” Princess Cadence asked.
“What I said, I’m going.” Shining Armor replied as he began to put on his Royal Guard suit.
“It’s late at night, and you barely had any sleep! Come to bed.” Cadence waved over.
“I have to do this. I already sent word to the others to meet me.” He answered as he bit on a latch, pulling a strip that tightened his belt.
“Where are you going again?”
“A meeting with the fellow captains. Take care of Twily while I’m gone, okay?”
“She needs you, Shining. Twilight just got back from that whole thing. Come on, should’t you be here, with your family, than being outside with a bunch of sweaty old colts?” Cadence reasoned.
“But she just flopped onto the bed as soon as she got here. Just,” He stopped for a second. “Just watch her. I’ll be back before you know it.”
Cadence sighed, showing her disdain for his sense of loyalty, “Fine. But don’t think I’m going to have cookies for you for breakfast!” She waved a hoof at him, clearly upset.
“I’lll have to mope later. Bye!” Shining Armor said as he moved outside. When he was far enough, he whistled and two distinct shuffling of hooves came. “Are they ready?”
“They’re on the move now, sir. So far, Manehattan, Baltimare, and Fillydelphia are sending their best guards on their way to the meeting point. But why the Crossroads, sir? Isn’t it an open spot?” The lieutenant asked.
“Well, yeah. But nopony is crazy enough to just attack the head guards of cities. So tell me, how many stallions and mares could we get so far from the Guard?”
The other lieutenant butted in. “So far, we have at least twenty stallions and mares, all decorated veterans, and fifty recruits.”
“Those aren’t the numbers that I thought we’d get.” Shining Armor grimaced.
“Well, sir, we can’t exactly be picky. Besides, most of the guards were redirected to escort duty, remember?”
“Oh right, the refugees. Fine, but I hope that the other cities bring more than we do. Or else this might be hopeless.” Shining Armor accepted.
“Sir, why are we going again? I thought the Princesses were going to handle this.”
“Because our job description is the protection of them, lieutenant. And I don’t think they were going to bring us if we waited.” The Captain explained.
“Makes sense.” The two lieutenants said.
“Well, we should get a move on. Let’s end this.”