Astral placed his hoof-wear on the ground next to his closet. He didn’t need them, this after all needed to be a stealth mission. He also took off his helmet, they were easy to spot and apart from protecting his head, served only to intimidate. He then put on his favorite armor, his Lunar guard armor. He also emptied his saddle bags and put them on.
He looked around the room scanning for anything he might have forgotten. He then looked at his Day-Guard armor and noticed his family sword. He couldn’t believe he almost forgot it! He took the sword and fastened it around his waist.
He exited his room, he was very nervous. He could definitely go into the Everfree to retrieve the Night-Rose but he couldn’t accept the fact that HE lieutenant Astral Shield of the Royal Guard, was going to steal from ROYAL property. The thought only made him sweat and shiver slightly.
He continued walking through the corridors of the castle, he was nearing his favorite part of the castle, Twilight’s room. If he told anypony that, they would look at him with disgust, nopony would understand him...He didn’t like the room because of...Um....the ‘privileges' that came with it, he hadn’t even been inside. No, he liked it because he could insure his love was safe, he liked it because he could serve her and be there to assist her if she ever was in danger.
He walked up to the door, he wanted to tell her that he was going to be gone for the day but he didn’t want to worry her or explain himself. He placed his ear against the door. A happy smile came to his lips and a slight blush to his face. She was sleeping and snoring peacefully, at least she wasn’t having nightmares.
He continued walking and made his way over to the library inside, Starlight waited for him.
"Okay I’m ready to leave."
"Astral wait, before you go, take this." She handed to him a drawing of the flowers. "They should help you if you have problems recognizing the flowers."
"Thanks Starlight. Any news from...um...Bursting...er....Sunbuster?"
"Sunburst, and yes. He told me he was going to start by asking the princess since finding the Heart’s components is going to be harder. He also said that if he finds out he’ll send a letter as soon as possible."
"Okay...and um...Thank you Starlight.”
"No problem Astral, now get going, those flowers aren’t going to find themselves."
And with that, Astral trotted out. He got to the front door when there was a knock. Astral slowed down as not to seem to be in much of a hurry. He opened the door and almost had a heart-attack.
His mood then turned from bubblely happy to annoyed. In front of him was his nemesis, a yellow coated unicorn with a light-orange mane and brown eyes looked at him with a smog grin on his face.
"Sunfire Claw?! What are YOU doing here?!"
"Astral Shield, It isn’t a surprise to see you.”
He cleared his throat."Princess Twilight isn’t receiving guest at this time so I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you yo leav-"
"Oh no no no, you got me all wrong, I’m now working here, I’ve been sent here by Captain Shining Armor. Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to meet with the Princess or with her student."
"Princess Twilight has asked to be undisturbed, her student is in the castle library to your right. Now, if YOU would excuse ME, I have some business to attend."
Astral walked out of the castle and flew off in the direction of the Everfree.
Why does HE out of all the ponies have to be the one sent here?! He’s no doubt going to interfere with my plans in someway I just know it.
He shook away those thoughts as he arrived at the border of the Everfree Forest. He needed to concentrate. He pulled out of his saddle bags the paper that Starlight had given him.
The paper apart from having a drawing also had instructions. Where to find the flower, how to pick it, what NOT to do with it... And just in case if he couldn’t find it talk to a 'zebra' named Zecora for help?
He walked into the forest, his senses alert to any kind of danger. He walked trough, looking down at the paragraph of instructions that showed where to find the Night-Rose.
Walk straight until you reach a cliff
He stopped, in front of him was a large cliff...Well it was more like a canyon and looked back a the paper.
The flowers should be in the cliff side, but be careful, predators lurk around there.
Astral pulled out his sword and started to slowly fly down the canyon walls, keeping an eye out for the flowers.
Out of nowhere a loud bird screech filled the canyon. Astral looked back to see a giant multicolored bird flying towards him at full speed.
Astral used his sword to push way the bird’s beak that was about 5 inches from his face. His strength caused the bird to change direction all of the sudden and hit Astral with it’s wing.
Astral was sent flying out of control into the ground. The bird quickly recovered and started flying towards him. Astral regained consciousness to, again, the bird trying to impale him with hi beak. He rolled over dodging the bird and causing it to quickly change position to land. The birds claws sunk into the dirt bellow and cracked when the bird pulled up.
Astral seeing an opportunity got up and slashed at the bird’s open wing. Unfortunately, he was still very dizzy due to his fall and missed. The bird was furious, it went to attack again but with a quick flap, Astral avoided him.
The bird wasn’t finished moving when Astral charged at him and used his sword to cut his sides as he flew. This time he ducked to dodge the wing and land.
The bird screeched in pain and looked back, this time, Astral could see anger in it’s eyes.
Astral opened his wings so that when he landed he could much easily do a sharp turn. He then used his sword to aim for the eyes. He cocked his head, and with the speed his wings provided him he slashed at the birds eye.
"That’s going to leave a scar..." He joked mostly to himself. "BEGONE!” He demanded, his deep military voice echoed through the canyon.
The bird looked at him with anger, then fear and lastly, sadness as he flapped his enormous wings to escape. Leaving behind a bunch of multicolored feathers on the floor.
Astral inspected the feathers. They were beautiful, there was a big variety of colors and gradients. The smallest feathers were as big as his own, there had to be at least a hundred of them. He got an idea of what to do with them and picked some up. He placed them in his saddle bags and chuckled to himself.
I’m a hopeless romantic
He almost put his sword away but decided to keep it out...just in case. He looked around the canyon for the flowers. Fifteen minutes passed and yet he didn’t find them, all the while a sharp pain in his backs haunted him. He was going to give up when he spotted a small patch of grass coming out of a cave. He decided that it didn’t hurt to look.
He went into the cave. He was amazed by the beauty of it. The cave had stone wall with a couple of rocks peeping out here and there, plants and vines hung from the ceiling where there was a small hole that let in the sunlight and he guessed the moonlight too. In the center were a couple of flat circular boulders that had grown moss, on top of them were several Night-Roses. The ones that the light hit, were opened and had random stars here and there. Astral knew they were inaccurate and so he shifted his gaze over to a small bunch in the corner, they were closed and there was only three.
Astral used his sword to separate the moss from the rock like a carpet and cut it into small squares around the flowers roots and placed them in his bags making sure not to hurt the flower in anyway.
Then, satisfied he went out of the cave and took flight. He flew on top of the Everfree’s tree line and made his way over to Ponyville. While he flew he always payed attention to the town folks. He loved to see the ponies smile and play.
He flew faster, always making sure not to hurt his flowers and ignoring the pain in his back. He stopped in front of the door to the castle and gently pushed it open. He walked over to the Library.
"Starlight I got what the flowers.”
"Great, set them on the table I’ll be on it in a minute."
"Okay, if you need anything I’ll be in my room."
"Actually wait, you have a....um...roomate."
"What do you mean-?...No...Not Sunfire" His face showed his worry.
"Um...yes, It’s just for today and tomorrow, just so Twilight can prepare another room for him."
Astral turned around without saying anything. When Starlight heard no reply, she peeped from behind the pile of books that blocked her vision. But Astral was already gone.
He walked through the corridors without paying attention. He didn’t even notice he was about to pass Twilight’s room. All of the sudden he bumped into something and fell on his flank and a sharp pain crept it’s way up his back...again.
"Ow..- Astry?! What happened to you?!"
It took a while for Astral to catch up to the world.
"Huh? Wha? Oh! Twilight I-I, sorry." He laughed sheepishly under his breath.
"Astral...What happened to you? Why are you covered in blood?!" She lifted Astral in her magic grip.
She opened the door to her room and gently put Astral on her bed, magically taking off his armor and saddle bags.
She went pale when she saw a rather big gash on his lower back.
"W-What happened to you?”
"Um...I was...Exploring the Everfree Forest when I had a run-in with this dumb giant bird.”
"Stand still this WILL hurt"
She channeled her body healing magic trough her horn and into Astral. The gash started to close and Astral started screaming in pain. When the gash was fully healed she patted his head.
"There, you should be completely healed. Anyways do you need help with your bags? I can carry them to your room-"
"I didn’t know that you wanted me this badly in your bed."
Twilight lit up like a Heartswarming tree light. She rightfully threw him off her bed and hit him with her pillow.
"Are you SIRIUS?! THAT’S you’re first thought?!”
"Ow, Ow, OW! Hey stop!"
"Get out! Shoo!"
She threw him out her door and made sure she hit him with his stuff.
We laughed to himself and continued to his room. He opened the door and found Sunfire on the other bed next to his. Astral walked up to his desk trying to ignore Sunfire.
He opened his saddle bags and found a set of feathers that he was looking for. They were eight feathers, a yellow one that faded into a light pink, light pink one that faded into a hotter pink, a light orange one that faded into a blonde, a white one that faded into a dark purple, a light blue one that faded into a yellow-ish, a light purple one that faded into a purple, a lavender one that faded into a dark blue, and the last one was a blue feather that faded into a dark purple mane.
He took all the feathers and did his best to bend all the points into one. Next he grabbed some glue and used it to stick the points so they didn’t move. He made them into a mane accessory that looked like the tail feathers of a peacock.
"Who is that for?"
"Why? Do you love her? You know, she’ll never fall in love with a commoner like you. She’ll probably marry somepony with noble heritage, like me."
Astral go up and took his little arts and crafts project into his wings. "No I’m not, we were just very good foal hood friends and I’ll give this to her as a birthday gift." He said in a cold tone.
He passed through the door and was ready to close it when Sunfire spoke in a trasiego manner.
"Oh good, cause’ I’m planning to ask for her hoof in marriage and with my family’s influence she’ll have to say yes."
That statement almost made Astral take out his sword and show that noble trash why a giant bird feared him. But he just walked out closing the door behind him. He hated Sunfire for that same reason, he’s always bragged that when he became lieutenant, he would marry the Princess.
What made Astral sad though was that he spoke truth, the Princess would likely have no other option than to marry him. His family was leader of one of the biggest factions among nobles, it contained almost half the nobles in all of Equestria. It made his heart ache.
He walked over to Twilight’s room he could hear her coming out of a bath. Had he really spent that much time on the-?
He didn’t have time to continue his thought as Twilight opened the door. She was in a white bath robe.
Astral blushed a bit before clearing his throat and speaking.
"I...know you probably don’t want to see me...after my little stunt today and...I’m sorry."
"Astral I-" He put a hoof to her lips not letting her continue.
"I’m not finished... I wanted to give you this as an apology..." He presented his gift to her.
Her face lit up and she blushed furiously."Wow Astral...I-it’s beautiful!"
"Can I?..." he gestured to her mane.
"Y-y-yes you can."
He leaned in and placed it on her head. The feathers were a little smaller than pegasus feathers but they still were big enough to poke out from behind her ear.
"They came from the giant bird I defeated, during the battle some came off and when he fled as well." He looked at her nervously. "D-Do you...Like it?"
"Astral..." She looked at herself in the mirror. "I LOVE IT!"
Astral’s lit up with happiness along side Twilight’s. Twilight ran up to him and hugged him, making Astral’s heart to race. They stayed like that for a while until Twilight pushed away from the hug, they were both blushing furiously. She gave a nervous laugh.
"Maybe we should get ready for dinner...It’s um...getting pretty late." She pointed at the window. The sun was setting and Astral knew too well what that meant.