Twilight's Nightmare

by Nightsclaw

CH 28.5 The Difficulties in Becoming a Nightguard

Candice was abuzz with excitement and curiosity. A new future was before her. She had spent twenty-two years doing the same thing, being restricted by her superiors, disregarded and insulted behind her back. Going from that to the seemingly much more accepting Nightguard felt like it would be an exhilarating change of pace. It certainly had been so far.

Her dreams of Luna and Twilight crossed her mind, joining the memory of the reality of being pinned under the larger mare as her neck was being nibbled with fangs. So many possibilities, both professional and not so professional.

Solarguards opened the doors. The pair of them seemed to glare at her from under the anonymity of their armour’s enchantments. 

Leaving the castle she stepped out into the sun, the air felt a little colder, the sunlight warming her a little less. Inside her chest there was the feeling that something was missing. Something she never knew she had was gone forever. 

Candice let her thoughts wander about what she was feeling for a minute. “That’s an awfully subtle form of manipulation.” Candice noted, her first data point about Celestia’s manipulations being revealed. “I wonder if I would have been able to even have that moment of doubt before the Oath was removed.” Mental note to ask Luna about the manipulations.

Candice looked at her ID, its security magic stating in bold red letters revoked with a small version of Celestia’s mark as the authority. This sort of thing normally only happens before a pony was sentenced for treason. It was odd knowing she was only the second pony in recorded history that had been released from the Solar Oath. She was unsure how to feel about all the attention this would bring her. Maybe ask Shining Armor about that.

She made her way from the main castle to the RGIS offices. Two guards blocked her path, both of their identities were concealed. One a unicorn stallion, the second a pegasus mare. 

“Hey guys I'm transferring over to Nightguard, I have been released from my oath. I have orders to facilitate my transfer of duties and need to turn in my equipment.” Candice stated while pointing to her saddlebags.

Being stopped by the security she had walked by without issue for all those years, felt odd but was not unexpected. 

She could see the look of betrayal on the face of one of them.

“You are not authorised to be here, leave.” The other spoke in a fierce unyielding tone. Reaching out to take the saddlebags from her with his aura.

Her Null-field disrupted his aura. “I need to get a visitors badge. The counter to do that is just inside. Are you seriously going to obstruct me from going to a publically accessible section of the building?”  She said in annoyance before glancing at her her saddlebags. “That has personal property and classified documents that you don’t have the security clearance to even look at. Try that again, and I will arrest you for theft of RGIS property.” She promised.

The pegasus guard interjected in a calm tone of voice “Sorry Candice you no longer have the authority to do that, you are currently just a … civilian.”

“A civilian that still has the right to go to that counter over there,” Candice stated, pointing her hoof at the clearly visible Visitor’s Queue. “Additionally until I turn in my ID card to the CO actually I do have the authority. Check regulation twenty-three point five, paragraph F.”

The guard cut her off. “That's a loophole and you know it. Nopony will listen to a traitorous abomination like you. You have no business being here, hoof over the official stuff and leave.”

“I’ll grant you that it’s a loophole. But it’s still a valid part of the Solarguard regulations. Also as per the regs, I can’t hand you classified documents that you lack the security clearance for. If you look at my ID, you will see my security clearance is still perfectly valid. Now let me in to get my visitors badge and let me do my job.” Candice said with growing frustration.

“It's a travesty that you were allowed in the guard at all, let alone Canterlot, the world would be a better place if you died at birth like your kind is meant to.” 

The second guard gasped, taking half a step back. She clearly had not expected anything so vulgar.

Paper Pusher approached from behind, heading toward the entrance, waiting patiently behind Candice as if in a que. Using his magic to write a few things down on a piece of paper. 

Once done he handed the new official orders to the stallion. “Report to room three-two-four and await further instructions,” Paper Pusher said calmly. 

The stallion glared at Second Lieutenant Pusher for a long moment before aggressively saluting and turning, stomping off. Compared to a slightly ticked off Alicorn, it seemed like nothing more than a foal having a temper tantrum. 

Paper Pusher had a resigned look on his muzzle as he lead her into the building and went through all the steps of getting her a visitor's badge. The bigot wasn’t even going to her let get the proper ID and had been blocking her from entering the visitor’s lounge. 

Candice looked at Paper Pusher, “Thank you for that. I thought that, considering I had official business in RGIS still, that it wouldn’t be an issue. I appreciate your help.”

“You are welcome, least that I could do after all you've done for us.” He paused his stride for a moment before changing directions and gesturing her to follow him. Trotting right along with him, Candice followed.

The inside of The RGIS headquarters felt slightly unfamiliar. The wards did not like her here even with the issued visitor’s badge hanging around her neck. The turns and corridors all seemed like they were in the wrong place. It felt like she was lead downstairs when she knew she was going upstairs. The magic that protected the building clearly designed to stop anypony not meant to be here from finding their way around.

“I hope things go well for you. Keep being the good guy here at RGIS. Honestly, they would lose half their efficiency if they didn’t have you. Though do let me know if you ever feel like you want to join the Nightguard. I can pass on the recommendation to Princess Luna for you.” Candice said with a playful smirk.

“If even ten percent of the reports on what they go through is accurate, I don’t think I would want to be a Nightguard. But thank you for the vote of confidence.” He said warily.

Giving him a warm smile, “Just so you know Paper, I didn’t miss your interest in me.” Her voice sounding slightly consoling but still quite warm. “If I had any interest in stallions, I would have asked you out years ago. Though I do thank you for your professionalism the whole time.”

Paper Pusher opened his mouth to say something and then stopped. “This is the part where I say thank you, isn’t it?” His expression was a mix of confusion and regret.

“Yes, if you want to stay professional. If you think of me as an actual friend, then feel free to say what’s on your mind.” Candice said in what she hoped was an encouraging tone.

He paused and then opened the door to a storeroom. A door that seemed a moment ago to be a staircase leading up. Paper Pusher lit his horn, his aura pulling something from within. It was a single metal box. 

“I do not know what to make of you.” He said before contemplating for a moment. “You are an interesting mare that achieves things in fascinating ways. Now I think you might need a little mental help for wanting to join the Nightguard.” He lifted the box in his aura and offered it to Candice. “I hope you do well and don’t regret it. Twenty-six percent of ponies that are accepted into the Nightguard by Princess Luna do not survive their first week under her.”

Candice smirked at his unknown innuendo there, “Sorry your words brought to my mind a very different mental image than what you intended.” Accepting the box, she took a look in it. As she opened the lid, the contents were revealed. It was full of official requests to RGIS, the top one being a demand that she was removed from her position for being an Alien from another world. 

She froze for a fraction of a second as an image of a nightmare creature flashed through her mind. A terrifying black carapaced monster with its long bladed tail hovering menacingly above its smooth black head.

She caught herself before she visibly reacted and carried on with the conversation. “If these are all like this, then this should provide several hours of amusement. Thank you, Paper.” She then set the box in her bags and gave him a friendly hug.

After a long moment, he returned the embrace clumsily. “You will be missed, and not just by me,” he said, patting her on the back.

A bit of wry humour crossed her face, “I know, I just won’t be missed by certain Guards and Nobility. Fortunately, I don’t need to worry about their petty attitudes any longer, thanks to you, I didn’t have to arrest one today.”

Paper Pusher nodded, leading her to where she needed to be. “You know as well as I do that his family would have gotten him off without even a warning on his official record.”

“Oh I know, but it still would have been humiliating for him. In more ways than one.” Candice said with confidence.

After finishing the official transfer of duties with her prior Commanding Officer, Candice went to the office of her old supervisor and knocked on the door. 

Candice could feel a simple detection spell each out from the room, it was Revealing Light’s magic. The door to the office opened. 

The office was neat and organized with everything in easy reach of a hoof, clearly set up for its non-unicorn resident. Candice could see both her prior supervisor, Steadfast Vigil, and Light inside. It appeared they were having a meeting. 

Light’s coat was no longer dyed but now was a brilliant white with a stunning silver mane and eyes. She was beautiful and perfectly presented despite her adventures last night. Steadfast was a pony that would have been considered handsome anywhere other than Canterlot, with a balanced mix of rugged toughness and refined lines. His amber coat was not as well-groomed as it normally was, it would definitely fail inspection. Clearly, the stress of the current situation must have been getting to him. 

Her supervisor was the only Earthpony command rank officer in the RGIS. He had only gotten his chance because the nobles were too busy bickering. They were fighting over which of their candidates should get his post and RGIS managed to disregard all of them. So he was the only one left metaphorically standing. 

“Speak of the Draconequus,“ Steadfast said, looking to Candice with a hint of regret in his eyes. He motioned her inside, reaching for a set of papers.

“You are really going through with this?” Light asked, her tone edged with mild accusation. 

After closing the door, she took a seat in front of his desk. “Yes. I’m being inducted with my new Oath tonight. Feel free to ask any questions. I’m sure you have plenty.” Candice replied with genuine pride in her voice.

Steadfast let out a long-suffering sigh. “More than I am allowed to ask.” 

Light turned to Steadfast and pointed her hoof at Candice. Exasperation and righteous indignation apparent all over her. “Princess Luna threw her into a combat situation all on her own, into a warehouse of fifty-plus dark magic users. You do not do that with somepony so valuable. We are not going to let this stand are we?”

Candice looked at her with her head slightly cocked. “Awe, you care about me,” she said in a flattered tone, a smirk on her face.

“More would care about you if you were not so sarcastic.” Light shot back. “But seriously we are going to miss you here. This is literally the worst time you could have picked to take a fancy for the Night.”

“Those that didn’t care about me were those that wanted me out of here because I didn’t fit their little definition of what constitutes being a pony.” She said with a hint of venom in her voice. “Sorry, you didn’t deserve that. I just had to deal with one of the guards that wouldn’t let me in to finish my job here. Paper Pusher has him sitting in a room somewhere waiting for further instructions or something. As for my ‘Fancy for the Night’...”

Light interrupted “I know enough about wings to know that Princess Luna was not just being friendly or casting a spell.”

Steadfast continued sorting some paperwork. It seemed he was simply watching and waiting. It looked like he dared not interrupt what might be turning into an argument between two mares, both of whom were very adept at combat.

“You got me there. Yes I have feelings for Princess Luna. Do you think she would put me into a situation that she didn’t have under control if I failed my test?” Care and appreciation evident in her voice.

Deliberately sounding calm Light answered. “The situation, she was ready to level the whole block at a minimum. You did see Starfall, didn't you?”

“More than see, I felt the mass of that thing from several hoof lengths away. But she didn’t need to use it. I passed the test. I saved possibly a hundred or so lives. Sixty at minimum.” 

Anger flared on Light’s face for a moment before she schooled it into calm professionalism. “I’m not saying you did not do well, you performed unbelievably well. I’m just saying the Nightguard take too many risks. They are too reckless and have little regard for rules, due process or the lives of the ponies that get in their way.”

“I could have done so much more than just point out leads that others couldn’t see if I was allowed out on the field. Politics and petty bigotry kept me locked up behind a desk. You saw what I can actually do. Where do you think I should have been?” Candice left off with her voice still caring but just a hint of frustration showing through. Her wing swinging out to offer a hug as an olive branch if Light wished it.

“You want…” Light started.

Steadfast politely coughed. “I think we are getting off-topic.”

Light turned to Steadfast, standing almost at attention clearly taking his words as a rebuke. 

Steadfast nodded his head towards Candice, doing his best not to roll his eyes. 

Taking the hint, Light accepted the offered hug. "Please, just don't get yourself killed."

“I’ll do my best not to. Princess Luna has already hinted at training to help with that as well. Thank you for actually being concerned. So few around here actually are.” Candice said with warmth. Light’s hug was a bit firmer and a lot warmer than she had expected. Maybe a friend there that I didn’t realise was there?

After a few moments longer than normal for just a polite hug, Light seemed to notice where they were and pulled back. Candice brushed Light’s shoulder as she retracted her wings now that Light was finished with the hug.

“Now normally this would be where we process your paperwork… but apparently, your file has been misplaced. So I have had to draw up a fresh set.” Steadfast slid a personnel file over.

Light’s eyes went wide at what she saw on the medical summary sheet, she pointed as the letters ‘C/C’ marked on the sheet. “I thought you were rated as a grade E mage?”

“Oh, that’s just what had to be on the paperwork because of politics. We had to knock it down so RGIS wouldn’t lose funding.” Candice said.

“Blueblood and his cronies would not accept Candice being rated higher than a noble, especially any noble in the military like Lieutenant Wild Flash out there.” Steadfast clarified.

“Is this just because she is a hybrid?” Light asked.

“Well, Celestia has been trying to crack down on tribalism, but unfortunately hybrids are not covered by those regs yet.” Steadfast sighed. “If I had her listed at her true rating, we would have lost half our budget, and there would have been a witch hunt for the ‘dangerous creature’ that had too much power.” He looked apologetically to Candice. “There was even talk of taking her wings for even the small amount of power the old papers said she had.”

Light winced.

Candice looked at Steadfast, her face taking on a cast of dark seriousness, “Excuse me? Explain, please.”

Steadfast shook his head “I will not tell you who started it, but it was shut down, unfortunately, before it reached Princess Celestia's desk.”

“How is that unfortunate?” Candice inquired.

Light laughed. “Do you know what she would have done to them? Can you imagine it, a foal of a noble trying to dictate what should be done to Princess Celestia? And for something like that.” She looked to steadfast “Incineration, thrown off the mountain or given to Princess Luna?”

“No official comment, but I think being added to her statue garden,” Steadfast said.

“Ok so what was in this little demand and how far up the chain did it get before it was crushed under the hoof of common sense?” Candice asked with a bit of humor now in her voice.

He paused for a moment. “One of the nobles with half a brain managed to talk the others into retracting it, so legally it got nowhere, but all the higher-ups here knew about it.”

“So it’s unfortunate because the Noble in question didn’t get to the point of Celestia committing defenestration upon them?” Candice smirked.

“She would probably bill them for the broken window too,” Light added trying not to laugh.

Steadfast shrugged. “Knowing our luck, they would have enough money to pay a pegasus to catch them before they hit the ground.” He turned his gaze back to the paperwork “So shall we get this done? You are only the second pony in living memory to be cut loose like this. At least without being tried for treason. You are not going to be happy with all the extra forms that are required due to that slight difference.”

“There’s only a ‘slight’ difference between transferring from Solar to Lunar and being tried for treason?” Candice asked with a cocked eyebrow.

“Nightmare Moon was the only other Alicorn one could transfer too when the forms were created,” Steadfast answered.

“You do realise that according to the law, the fact that the paperwork hasn’t been updated is a personal insult to Princess Luna, right?” Candice pointed out.

Steadfast got the first bundle of paperwork out, it was old and archaic, its printing date was over nine-hundred years ago. He looked from the paperwork to Candice. “It’s not intentional, you know that. If you can get Princess Luna to weigh in on our next budget meeting so we can afford to replace it, be my guest. Until then we are stuck with these.” He pointed to the first pile of papers. “Magically Unalterable Forms are rather expensive and require class B unicorns to make to the required standard.”

“I’ll bring it up to her as soon as I can,” Candice stated as she grabbed the first stack. She was starting to get used to pony-sized stacks of paperwork.

A couple hours later and well and truly tired of paperwork, Candice stepped out of the RGIS building. Even with the challenge of them being written in old ponish, it became mind-numbing. She made her way past the guards and away from the RGIS building. 

Looking at where the now harsh sun was in the sky, she had four hours left until her fate would be decided. She was grateful for her eye protection spell, meant for stopping her being blinded by dazzle spells, or just the flash from powerful ones. The minor personal enchantment spell also did a great job of acting as sunglasses, it cost her so little magic she tended to leave it on all the time.

Depositing her final pay in the Royal Bank of Canterlot, Candice decided to check her account balance for the first time in over a decade. She never really had a need to since she lived in the officer’s apartments in the Guard base and lived with minimal expenses. Eighty percent of her pay never got spent, so she never needed to worry about it.

Seeing an account balance that could buy a nice sized house near the noble section of Canterlot was rather a shock. The interest that was gathering in her savings was also compounding it. Needless to say, her twenty-three years of living very frugally had unexpectedly paid off. Well if she died, then she wasn’t going to need any money, so she headed to a legal firm to do up her will.

The legal firm was nice. They took about forty bits to do the will and updated it. She simply put it to where if she died, the money in her account got split evenly among the Elements of Harmony. She figured it would be a nice little surprise for them if something happened to her.

With only an hour left of her time as a free mare, Candice spent her time in the Menagerie, amongst its well-tended garden with the sounds of the animals adding to the calming atmosphere.

Laying in the cool air under the sun, running her mental alacrity spell, she analyzed her past. She was trying to work out how much of an impact the Solar Oath had on her, trying to validate herself. How much of her life was her own, how much had she been manipulated?

The light level changed, only her spell gave her the chance to lift her wings and catch the pouncing creature and roll with it.

The magic felt like Luna’s, the creature seemed to be made of a piece of the night sky, torn free and shaped into the form of a powerful unicorn mare with flowing mane and tail. 

Once they rolled to a stop, Candice hugged the creation. For a moment the creation seemed puzzled, but then it nuzzled Candice affectionately.

Candice was confused for a moment that this was not Luna.  The creature had none of Luna’s desire or seductiveness. It seemed just like a playful animal or maybe a foal.

Fascinating. Spell? Construct? Something else? Insight commented.

Candice replied in her mind, Well, this is different, this is not Luna propper. Is she being playful with her spellcraft or  testing me? Or this is something else? Not much to do than go with the flow in this case.

Candice started to play with the creature. The pony-sized chunk of night sky seemed to like affection and a little roughhousing.

After a little bit though it seemed to get bored and disappeared. When it returned, it had a blue ball. 

Picking it up in her aura Candice looked at the animated construct, “Fetch?” 

The apparently positive reaction was enough. Candice wrapped the ball in a spell meant to keep its momentum going in a straight line. The effect was it got a few extra seconds of flight time for a farther throw.

The darkness took off and a few moments later came back with the ball.

After about the fifth time, the creature didn’t come back with a ball, but rather with a pony.

It wasn’t just anypony either. It was Prince Blueblood. “Unhoof me this instant!” He demanded.

Wrong useless object there. Insight said to Candice.

The ball was not useless. Candice almost lost her composure but managed to stifle the laugh. “That is not the ball. That’s a pony. You should put it back where you got it.” Candice didn’t overlook the fact that the ball was impaled on the tip of his horn.

The startled Blueblood heard this affront to his being but only had time to inhale before being put to sleep. The creature put her horn to Blueblood’s head and with a flare of shadow magic, the memories of the event floated from him like bubbles on the wind, The creature proceeded to chase after them, popping them and having a whale of a time.

Candice watched with a bit of amusement but still noted to herself to bring up the ethics of the creatures mind magic use with Luna later.

Once the last one was soundly defeated, it approached Blueblood. Using its horn to create two orbs filled with swirling images. One of Blueblood as an Alicorn sitting on the throne, ruling all Equestria with the rest of the Princesses’ thrones on the level below his vaunted station. The other him being a crippled earthpony on the street being mocked, kicked and attacked by everypony else who all happened to be Alicorns, most of them looking like either Rarity or Twilight.

The Nightcreature looked between the two orbs then looked at Candice, seeming to be offering to let her make the choice.

Candice considered both for a moment then picked the one with Blueblood as an Alicorn. He might be a waste of a pony, but even he didn’t deserve the nightmare of dealing with the tribalism that she had to.

Placing the orb against Blueblood’s head, it was absorbed, and Blueblood’s sleep began to be rather restful.

The creature grabbed Blueblood and hauled him back off to wherever she got him from. 

Candice felt the magic of the creature as it worked on Blueblood. She noticed that the creature made of Night seemed to have its own wellspring. It wasn’t as sophisticated as Luna’s, but it did bear a similar feel. 

Hm. So not a spell effect. A creation of some kind. Insight commented. 

Indeed. Another thing I will have to ask Luna about. Candice replied.

The creature suddenly seemed distracted. After a moment it pounced on Candice, and she found herself being dragged into the shadows. Sleep very quickly claimed her as she went.

Candice could feel her heart pounding as her body shivered, deep ragged breaths escaped her. Tight metal bound her limbs and held her suspended in the air. Everything was rendered in total darkness, the thumping of her pulse in her ears and her now slowing breath were the only sounds.

Good thing we trust Luna, I wouldn’t want you in this position if we didn’t. Insight commented.

How had she got here, what was she doing before she got here? Slowly the memories of the day filtered back into her mind.

One by one pairs of glowing slit eyes opened, surrounding her. By the apparent height and shape of them, she surmised they were some of Luna’s Nightguard. Their eyes casting enough light to reveal Luna standing less than a body length away from her. 

This was not the Luna she had seen before. This Luna was more thestral than pegasus. Fangs graced her mouth and intense draconic eyes stared at Candice. 

Oh, Luna’s theatrics, ok. She thought, her body calming more, all hints of fear gone. “Oh, this looks like fun,” She said with a great deal of enthusiasm. 

The only response from the Nightguard was a small amount of bits changing hooves. “Oh, are you betting on me now?”

The deadly looking Princess of the Night in all her Nightmare like glory rolled her eyes. An edge of disappointment showing as her wings slumped slightly. “Thou knows we had a most frightful speech waiting for thee?” Luna lamented.

Candice looked genuinely sorry for spoiling Luna’s fun. “Sorry, you can still go through it. I promise to roleplay along with it.”

The surrounding Nightguard were wise enough not to say anything. Still the twinkle in their eyes spoke enough about their amusement.

“Well, now that the mood has been broken,” Luna casts a mock angry look to the Nightguard who had pocketed the bits. “Shall we begin?” Luna asked. 

The look on Candice’s face seemed to hint that she thought this situation was rather appealing in a way. She looked down at her body being on display for Luna. Looking back at Luna, a look of desire was not able to be hidden.

“Know that as Twilight is to be wed to me, anything you swear here may well bind you to her in time,” Luna said in a serious tone. A hint of a smile flickered on her muzzle for a moment. “I trust that won't be a problem?” She asked.

“That would be the opposite of a problem for me,” Candice said.

Luna licked her fangs for a moment letting her eyes rove over Candice's body, there was an edge of melancholy to the gaze, like this might be the last time she saw her. 

Whispering, hoping Luna could hear her, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m here for you.”

Luna’s expression froze, becoming as if ice, completely expressionless for a moment. “So be it,” Her voice whispered from beside Candice’s ear.

Luna circled Candice, slowly prowling like a hungry predator. Luna spoke, her tone somehow resonating with power, each word perfectly pronounced with deadly seriousness. “Do you offer me your obedience? Will you pledge your obedience to the Night, to your sovereign, to me?”

“Yes,” was Candice’s only reply.

“Your magic is a treasure that I may require, do you pledge it to my service?” 

“Affirmative,” Candice intoned.

Luna moved closer, her ethereal tail trailing along one of Candice’s wings and the Night Princess inhaled deeply showing her fangs. “I may have need to let your blood be spilt. Do you offer it, will you pledge it to be mine to spend as I will?”

“Definitely,” Candice answered. 

Luna was so close that Candice should have been able to feel her body heat. Instead, a cool chill seemed to be rolling off her. The temperature of the room dropped as the darkness in the room seemed to become even deeper.

The flowing mane and tail began to twist around both Candice and the chains. Frost starting from the points of contact. One by one the links began to shatter, fragments of metal scattering as Luna started to support Candice’s shivering body.

“Do you pledge your life to me?” Luna purred seductively.

“I do,” Candice answered with her heart.

Luna completed her circle around Candice, her mane and tail now holding the whole of Candice’s weight without issue. She leaned in muzzle to muzzle, eyes narrowed and glowing intently. Luna’s magic thrummed as she began to nuzzle Candice’s neck, forcing her head back. 

Candice could feel her heart race, Luna’s teeth were tracing along her neck. The steely power of the Alicons body was holding her in place as feathers caressed her. Candice’s heart pounded as she watched her heated breath fog upon contact with the frigid air. 

It started first as a light nibble, the fangs scratching her flesh before they found their desired point. Four pricks of pain bloomed as the Night Princess closed her mouth.

A moment later, something more intimate, something deeper inside her felt like it was bitten. Suddenly she could feel the immense power of Luna’s wellspring pressing against her, no flesh or space separating them. Luna’s hunger, her desire, burned bright within it. Candice’s own wellspring seemed to reach out towards Luna, not just letting her take what she will but offering more energy to her.

Candice’s magic flared in response, her world became bliss.

Candice found herself fully awake and aware, all her senses under her own control. The haze of pleasure lifted. The excitement of what had just been happening was suddenly gone. She was left calm, if a little confused.

She had no idea how she got here. She found herself on her own in a long dark stone hallway. 

The towering form of Luna in her therstal aspect advanced out of the darkness, eyes hard but expression kind. 
“Walk with me?” She quietly asked, turning and beckoning with a wing.

Candice looked upon her with a bit of wonder and a smile of gratitude. For the first time, she felt as if someone truly accepted her. She moved smoothly to follow Luna, after taking a moment to recover due to the jarring switch off of all the sensations.

Somehow, Luna seemed more graceful than before, but here she was not sensual, she was a solemn goddess freely radiating her power. Her mane billowing out into the distance, blending with the surrounds. Almost as if the entire world is made up of her.

Candice had a smile of appreciation upon seeing that. She felt honoured. It was clear that very few ponies ever got a chance to see Luna like this. Candice still felt physical desires for Luna, but for now, they were put to the side, buried under a sense of gratitude and awe.  Just being here, she felt accepted, she was being welcomed by somepony she loved. It was the first time she had ever felt like this before, it was wonderful. 

As they walked, the walls began to be lined with paintings, each one of a Nightguard standing proud. Each with a little hint that betrayed their personality. Whoever painted these must have known them very well indeed to capture these little traits, immortalizing them in paint. It was only slight, but she could see Luna’s eyes trace along some of the images, but not a single hint of emotion crossed her features.

As they drew closer, the paintings changed, shifting. Some ageing, showing a pony on their deathbed. Most shifted to show horrifically wounded ponies, some little more than gore stains. The paintings continued to change one by one as they walked on. First ten, then a hundred, finally after more than a thousand, the corridor ended.

“Prior Nightguards?” Candice quietly said as she noted the implications of the paintings. Their fate reminded her of the vision of Twilight and Luna being attacked, the memories of the skeletal remains still haunting her far more than what she saw here.

“Yes,” Luna said quietly.

Candice took it in. Looking at the history, looking to see what Luna saw in them as much as she was capable. Trying to take the time to understand Luna’s gift of letting her be here. Showing what respect she could for Luna.

In the place where the last painting should go sat a full-length mirror. Within it Candice could see her body arched in pleasure, glowing with her magic, Luna wrapped around her as her fangs sunk deep in her neck. 

“Why am I glowing?” Candice asked in a whisper to herself. 

Luna did not respond as she moved to block the mirror, her mane lifting three items from the shadows. A chalice filled with what appeared to be the night sky made liquid, the second an ornate knife and the last a simple red ribbon.

“You have already pledged yourself to me, yet I give you one final chance to change your fate. So few of my servants die of old age, most perish in terrible ways against worse foes. Dying alone. All I can promise you is that I will not spend your life frivolously, and it will be spent to keep Equestria safe.”

Luna looked to the ribbon. “All you must do is select your path and step through the mirror. Take the ribbon, and your last moments will be the most pleasurable ones you have experienced, but you will not live to see the sunrise.” She looked to the blade. “Take up the blade and touching the mirror will be your last memory.” Luna looked towards the cup with a hint of a smile. “Or you may Drink of the Night and walk forward into my service.”

The smile faded, and Luna looked at Candice with cold emotionless eyes. “Whichever you pick, I will have your strength, your sacrifice will help protect Equestria. None will think less of you if you wish to seek your fate now instead of standing between our charges and the nightmares that are out there.”

“You have one hour to make your choice.” Luna decreed.

Candice made her choice without a single bit of doubt or hesitation. Looking around at the choices available to her, Candice looked at Luna standing in front of her. “I have been presented with three options before me, but when I look at them, I see four choices. What if I just choose you?”

Luna’s eyes narrowed, not a single other reaction was visible as she asked. “Are you sure?”

“You accepted me wholly as I am. You are the first that I can recall ever doing so. I return to you the same. I accept you for all that you are, for who you are. I do so without reservation. I love you. There is no more to the truth than that.” Candice stated with her heart open for Luna to see.

The smile that crossed Luna’s fanged mouth was truly feral, the look in her eyes was delighted. She let her eyes flick to the offered items, one by one, letting them dissolve into the shadows, the chalice last. She advanced and loomed over Candice. 

Seeing Luna like this with the desire she had, brought back the feelings of when Luna started her ministrations upon her neck. The desire beginning to make itself known once more. She stayed still for a time, her confidence in her choice unshaken even if she didn’t know where this would lead. All she could do was give her heart to Luna and trust in what she would do with it.

Luna’s power flared around her, the world becoming nothing but Luna and darkness. Luna lowered her head with her eyes now glowing like two silver moons staring straight into Candice’s own. “Then you, my dear Candice, are MINE.” With a sudden motion, Candice found herself in the same position as she could see herself in the mirror. Luna’s fangs savagely sunk into her neck as powerful wings wrapped around her. 

Like last time, there was mild pain and pleasure. Unexpectedly, with a twist of her head, Luna ripped her head back, leaving a large open wound. Instead of blood pouring out, the freezing darkness forced its way in.

Despite the pain, Candice opened herself, yielding, willing every bit of her to Luna. Giving her magic, her body or at least whatever she counted as having at the moment. 

Luna plucked a single star from her mane. Lifting it with her aura, she pressed it against Candice’s heart. The mass of it was burning so intense she couldn't tell if it was hot or cold as it seared her coat. Luna’s hooves pulled her into a kiss. Candice got the copper taste of her own blood from Luna’s lips. The kiss was returned as Candice pulled herself fully into the embrace, her own wings wrapping around Luna.

Luna seemed to relish the contact, deepening the kiss. One leg lovingly wrapping around her barrel as the other pressed against the star. With slow inexplicable force, Luna pushed the small burning speck as it melted its way into Candice’s chest.

Candice resisted screaming with all her might, the few whimpers that tried to escape were engulfed by the kiss. The kiss that she was clinging to as if it were a lifeline.

The pain within Candice built. She could feel her magic wildly fluctuating, new sensations blossoming within her. Candice, being one of the few mortal ponies with more than one wellspring, was uniquely informed. She could feel another one, a third wellspring being created within her. She could feel part of Luna, part of her love’s magic, become one with herself. A tiny piece of Luna would forever be a part of her.

Luna pulled back from the kiss, Candice’s mouth following for a short distance, love and want clear in both their eyes. She breathed in deeply, some of the darkness swirling into Luna’s open mouth. Pressing forward and bringing Candice to the ground, she resumed the kiss, the irresistible force denying any chance of resistance, not that Candice even tried.

She felt a liquid slide down her throat, she could feel its terrible painful cold, it tasted like nothing she could describe but left all her senses tingling. As it settled within her, the cold sensation became pleasant instead of painful, like something had changed within her. Like how the warmth of the sun was pleasant to her when under Celestia, now it would seem the cold of the night would be her home.

The silver markings on her wings, hooves and now tufted ear tips flared with energy and glowed brightly with moonlight.

All the pain she had felt, faded, her new wellspring settling down, the wonderful liquid smoothing her injures. Luna’s hooves, wings and magic began to explore Candice’s now Nightchosen body. Catching a glimpse through the mirror, she could see the changes slowly appearing on her real body. 

Her new eyes pried the darkness allowing her to see the Nightguard watching in apparent awe, though Striker was now holding a lot of bits. 

Luna did not give her much time to watch as she did her best to make sure this would be her best night ever.

Candice didn’t have any objections as the mirror was promptly forgotten. Her magic suffused her body once more.

Candice slowly woke up, wrapped in wings and hooves from behind. Her now sharper hearing could hear the heartbeat and breath of the pony holding her. Her body felt great, she felt alive, she felt powerful. Her body could remember the pleasure from the night before. Their clean, light, perfumed scents indicated they had both been cleaned.

It did not take much for her to work out that she was in bed with Luna. Her sovereign, her love, was deeply asleep and her mane seemed almost flat, like the etherealness of it has nearly been lost. The room was dark but to her now slit eyes it was as bright as day. Her bodies new senses and what was happening hit her, the darkness of the room was now rich with new colours, the shadows had as many unique shades as there were stars in the sky. 

Candice started a small experiment. She gathered her magic and tried sending it to Luna. She was hoping it would help her recover a little bit faster. She felt Luna accept the power, a smile crossed her lips and then everything suddenly faded to darkness. 

The last thing she heard before falling into unconsciousness was Insight’s voice, That doesn’t seem like it was a good idea.