A unicorn stallion taps his chin amid the gravelly murmur, eyeing a half-completed puzzle covering the table in front of him, faint wrinkles and the beginnings of greyness scattered across his otherwise orange coat and crew cut, sky blue mane. Eventually, he slots a piece into an empty spot beneath Celestia's barrel, leaning away once the task is complete. A squeak from his chair interrupts a forming yawn however, the stallion jumping to his hooves, heart racing, before he closes his eyes and takes several deep, slow breaths. Slumping back into the chair – ears twitching at the sound of another creak – he lets out a long sigh and allows his eyelids to rise, his gaze sliding across the room until it lands on a small family picture framed and hanging on the wall. A faintly younger version of himself grins back, his wife likewise grinning to his left and between them their son, all three adults wearing their full Royal Guard armor with the exception of a clambering grandcolt taking the place of his son's helmet.
The elder Guard smiles, the beating of his heart finally slowing as his eyes move upward, a pair of still polished helmets hanging from the wall above the picture. Returning to his puzzle, he levitates a cup of warm milk into his grasp, its heat seeping through his hooves while he drains the last of it. Cup empty, he lingers on the completed sun in the puzzle's background, a quick glance out a nearby window confirming the night's darkness still shrouds the real world.
He sighs again, If only…
His ears prick at the sound of yet another creak, a chuckle escaping as he glances at the ceiling, I guess she couldn't stay asleep either.
He turns in his chair to watch the stairs, awaiting his other half. Another, longer creak a few seconds later is all that follows however, minutes passing with no further noises coming from either the stairs or the floor above.
A frown takes hold of his expression, worry worming its way into the back of his mind, "I guess… she decided not to come down, then."
Or it was somepony else, doubt whispers back.
His heart lurches against his chest, but he shakes his head, "N-No. No. That's silly. Our house is locked up and completely safe."
But the only place that creaks in our bedroom is by the window.
He looks to his puzzle, its pieced together cardboard sun suddenly far less comforting, "Which does that because we like to sit there a lot. She probably just took a look outside. And it's locked."
She wouldn't get out of bed only to take a three-second look outside though.
He eyes the stairway as though it were a snake lying in wait, another minute of indecision passing before he finally stands, "I'll… go check, then. I'll check, I'll see there's nopony there, and then I can finish my puzzle. There hasn't been a report of forced entry in Ponyville in years, after all."
Except the vamponies.
He gulps, pausing on the first step, "Well… yeah, but what are the odds that there's actually one of them here, tonight?"
The former Guard grimaces, pushing aside his swirling doubt and fear as he makes his way to the second floor, the stairs offering several squeaks of their own.
Reaching their bedroom, his frown deepens, "I… didn't close the door when I left earlier, did I?"
He grunts, shooting angry thoughts at his inner self, then twists the doorknob. The inside of their bedroom, lit only by the light of Luna's moon flowing in through a lone window, greets him. He waits in the entrance, pushing the door all the way open until it bumps the wall. Finding nothing out of place, he steps inside, quickly glancing to his right and left – the space to his sides as empty and uninteresting as the rest of the room.
A point of light flickers to life at the tip of his horn, an aura of magic enveloping the door to close it behind him while its warm glow drives back the darkness and moonlight alike as he makes his way over to a bed not quite nestled into the far corner. A mare lays sleeping on the closer half – though she has long since claimed all of the blankets – age already beginning to take its toll on her bright yellow mane and deep gold coat.
The elder Guard stands over his wife for a long moment, watching the slow, calm breaths of her sleep before gently running his hoof across a foreleg sticking out from the cocoon of blankets, "Hey, Goldie, uh, I just wanted to check – are you alright?"
He braces himself, waiting for the irate admonishment of a sleepy mare forced awake. Instead, her breathing continues unchanged, the angry words never coming.
He shakes her, his heart quickening, "H-Hey, Golden, wake up."
A snore is her only reply, his wife oblivious to his touch.
He inhales deeply, "Golden Arrow!"
His wife's rhythmic breathing is the only answer he receives, the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end as his frantic gaze lands on her exposed limb. Horn glowing brighter, he leans closer, a trembling examination revealing twin spots of fresh skin a few inches from her shoulder. He stares dumbly at the recently healed pair of wounds for a fraction of a second before leaping over her, heart pounding against his chest as he pulls his wife, blankets and all, onto the floor of the gap between his side of the bed and the wall.
When yet another scan of their room reveals nothing, his horn glows brighter, deep orange sparks popping free. He drops a pillow onto his wife's face, covering his own eyes with a foreleg, Let's see how those nocturnal bastards like this.
His entire horn blazes like a sliver of the sun itself, bathing every inch of the room in a blinding, piercing light – a pained screech answering his spell followed by a thud.
He stares at the crumpled figure writhing on the floor clutching its eyes, mouth agape, the fading, residual magic left over from his spell still brightening the room, "Oh. Oh sweet Celestia."
The vampony stills at his words, its blood red, snake-like eyes opening in a bare squint to meet the unicorn's own. Icy fear stabs at his heart anew, his blood running cold as he looses a wordless shout along with a blast of magic. The spellbolt strikes the vampony's shoulder, spinning it around and throwing it against the far wall. Pain lances through his skull as the vampony slumps to the floor and he lets out a low hiss through clenched teeth, a touch to his horn coming back with a faint outline of ash while an acrid smell makes its way to his nostrils.
Letting out a groan, he looks towards the defeated invader, a mouthful of pointed teeth and fangs rushing towards him the next – and last – thing he sees that night.