Wings of the Heart

by gundamexia34

Ch 3

After everyone had gone back to their homes, with Tim and Gilgamesh following Twilight since they had nowhere to stay, the former decided to ask their host something.

“So, is there any particular reason that your friend Rarity is so uptight?” He asked, honestly wondering just what the deal was with that mare.

“I honestly have no idea,” Twilight shrugged, “I feel like she’s just always been that way.”

{At best, she took lessons. At worst, a strong desire to be like that, that it’s bleeding into reality.} Gilgamesh guessed.

“Bleeding into reality?” Twilight asked.

“In the Metaverse, you are represented by your inner desires. The ones you don’t want to acknowledge. That representation is known as a Shadow, and usually, it’s not something nice or pretty.” Tim said, shaking his head, “Has she mentioned wanting to be nobility or anything in the past?”

“...There was that time she tried getting close to Prince Blueblood.” Twilight explained hesitantly, “He treated her like utter garbage though.”

{That sounds bad, but we can investigate if she has a Palace later.} Gilgamesh advised.

“Yeah, for now, we have a trip to prepare for. Luckily, you and I don’t have any luggage to pack.” Tim half-joked.

“Oh, yes! You’re right!” With that, Twilight dashed up the stairs, nearly running over Spike as he came down.

{She seems to have a combination of scatterbrains and single-mindedness.} Gilgamesh commented as Spike picked himself back up.

“Tell me about it,” Spike said with sarcasm.

“I could’ve said the same about you when we first met.” Tim joked to Gil, “I remember how you were so curious about everything, but so skittish that if anything you didn’t expect happened, you darted away faster than a cheetah.”

{Don’t even think of bringing up those ugly, green things!} Gilgamesh said in combined anger and fear.

“Oh, you mean one of...These?” Here, Tim pulled out a picture of a cucumber, making Spike blink.

With a meowing shriek, Gilgamesh jumped away from the picture, transforming into his Chibi form in a puff of smoke, before yelling out, “PERSONA!!!” Magatsu Izanagi then appeared and took a fast swipe at the picture. The room practically froze for a few seconds before the picture fell apart practically into confetti.

Magatsu Izanagi blinked at what he had just done, having lashed out at what his contractor had viewed as a threat. He then turned to Gilgamesh with a flat look that all but screamed ‘Really?’ without verbalizing a single syllable. He wasn’t the only one, as Tim was giving his cat a similar look.

“Don’t look at me like that!” Gilgamesh shot at the both of them. “I’m sure you’d both have a scream and an overreaction to your own fears!”

“What in Celestia’s name!?” Spike finally said, having found his voice after the shock.

“Persona. Usually, they’re essentially purified versions of Shadows that form when you learn to accept those parts of you that you deny. For some reason, they tend to take on forms from mythology and the like.” Tim began, “I say normally because Magatsu Izanagi here actually bonded to someone else at one point, but that person is...Gone, and the normal Persona Awakening method would have killed Gilgamesh, so the two made a new contract.”

“Fascinating!” A voice declared, making them all jump as they turned to see Twilight back from her room with a suitcase on the ground beside her and her notebook and pen in hand.

“I wanna ask how you got packed so quickly, but I’m just gonna guess ‘magic’ and move on.” Tim deadpanned.

“You’d be right!” Twilight said with a tilted head, closed eyes, and a wide smile.

“If I am no longer needed, I shall return to the Velvet Room,” Magatsu Izanagi said before vanishing.

“Velvet Room?” Twilight blinked, then sighed as he had already left.

“Some kind of border-dimension. It straddles the line between the Metaverse and Reality, and maybe a few other places too. From what I can tell, it’s something of a safe haven or last resort for if things are about to go tits up on a scale of universal levels at least.” Tim shrugged, “I don’t know much more beyond that.”

“And I’m sure you’re curious about it, but only those with a ‘contract’ can enter. In Tim’s case, it’s between him and its master. In my case, it’s between me and Magatsu Izanagi, my Persona,” Gilgamesh added.

Now then, if we’re gonna catch the train, we might want to hurry.” Tim said, taking Twilight’s suitcase, then holding up a hand before she could speak, “A gentleman does not leave a lady to carry a bag or do other menial tasks if he can help it.”

“Takes a load off my plate,” Spike muttered as he led the way to the train station.

Tim sat with Gilgamesh in his lap as he watched the girls discussing why Twilight never mentioned her brother on the train ride to Canterlot. The name of the place had him mentally snorting, though he kept an especially close eye on Rarity. He was actually worried now that he knew she possibly had a Palace, and he knew that if she did, then they needed to deal with it ASAP before she really got herself into trouble.

{If I may interject, Twilight...And please translate so Miss Butters can understand and hopefully learn to work through my accent.} Gilgamesh spoke up. {From what I can tell, you say that his love life is part of “forgetting” to train the guards and soldiers and also forgetting to inform you sooner on his wedding plans, am I right?}

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying!” Twilight responded after Tim translated word for word.

{Well, I have a bit of a suggestion that might spare him of your wrath...Or at least direct the wrath at the correct problem. There could have been more or other things that may have occupied his time in such a way that caused a decrease in guard quality and forget wedding invitations to you. Like that giant bubble I think I’m seeing over the mountain city.}

Tim paused midway through when he heard the word ‘bubble’, leaving Twilight to finish translating as he looked at Gilgamesh with a raised brow. He then looked out the window and his jaw dropped.

“I was gonna ask if you sneaked some catnip out of the case...But that would mean that it affects me as well since I see it too.” He deadpanned.

“Huh?” Twilight turned in her seat and her eyes widened in shock at the sight of the force field, “Oh my gosh! That has my brother’s magical signature! What in the world could possibly require him to shield all of Canterlot Mountain?!”

Her voice was fraught with worry now rather than rage.

“Okay, not to cause a panic, but is it just me or does that shield run across the tracks?” Tim asked, looking toward the front of the train as they approached it.

{Heads between your knees! I think we’re on a collision course!} Gilgamesh screeched as he dived under Tim’s seat.

Just as it looked like there was about to be a wreck for the history books, a hole opened in the shield and let the train through, though there were a few seconds where its edge scraped along the roof.

{Are we dead yet?} Gilgamesh asked while shivering under the seat.

“Nope, looks like whoever is in control of the shield is on the ball...Barely. A second or two later though…” Tim said, taking a few deep breaths with his hand on his chest.

{This shield is handled by one individual?} Gilgamesh asked, getting a nod from Twilight. {Then it’s more than just love life taking up his mind...and that’s affecting more than just your wedding invite. It’s almost like he’s drunk or high on something to be barely on time like that.}

“Or he could be utterly exhausted.” Tim suggested, “Lack of sleep or overworking and stress can really take its toll on you. I should know.”

“He phrased it to point out that it could have been those too,” Spike said flatly. “And I’m sure that Shining doesn’t drink, or if he does, he’s really careful in his spirit intake.”

“Well, I guess we’ll find out.” Tim said as the train finally slowed to a stop, “Come on, let’s get out there.”

“Brother!” Twilight said, her rage fully replaced with horror and worry when she saw how ragged Shining Armor had become since she last saw him, “Oh my goodness, are you alright?! I can’t believe I wanted to be angry with you, you’re obviously not healthy!”

“You don’t need to sugarcoat it, I’m haggard, you’re angry, let’s just skip past that and…” Shining said blearily.

“Just tell us!” Spike shouted, interrupting the tired stallion.

Shining shook his head in defeat and fatigue before speaking. “A threat was made to Canterlot about a week ago, and I’ve had to maintain the shield from the train station since then.”

Tim sighed, looking at Shining with sympathy as he put a hand on his shoulder.

“I feel your pain. Maybe not as bad, but I’ve been there. Working 24/7 just to make ends meet and ensure those that you care about are safe.” The man said, “But just remember, you are important to them too.”

Shining chuckled lightly at Tim’s words. “I know that. It’s just, I’m the only one capable, outside of the Princesses, to be able to make and maintain a shield like this. Not much of a choice to begin with.”

“Look, what do you know about this threat? If you know any specifics, maybe you can lighten the load by having smaller shields around the targets.” Tim suggested.

“Heh, you sound like one of my kinder commanding officers from when I was back in Basic,” Shining said with a laugh. “And outside of the threat being made, the only thing we know is that they are brutal. Along with the threat, we received someone’s skull with it. Stripped clean of flesh and the bone gnawed a bit into certain parts.”

{Sheesh! Way to send a message.} Gilgamesh commented.

“...I know this may sound bad, but do you still have that skull somewhere? I have a hunch.” Tim asked as gently as he could.

“You’d have to ask Princess Celestia for it, it’s not my say if a civilian can see it or not,” Shining answered.

“Understandable. Though I will say that I know a good bit about bones. My father was a doctor, a mortician to be exact. As much as he hated to do it, he sometimes had to bring me to work on the times he couldn’t afford a babysitter when I was out of school. I can tell a lot about how someone died by just a glance.” Tim explained.

“Still not my say, but good to know,” Shining said, smiling. He then motioned for one of the nearby guards. “In the meantime, I think you all should get up to the castle, if not to rest, then at least to handle the last bits of wedding preparations that I can’t do. It’s really been a big stressor for Cadence.”

“Wait, you’re marrying Cadance?! As in the best babysitter ever?!” Twilight said excitedly, then blinked, “But the name on the letter…”

“Celestia’s insistence to have her formal name on the invites,” Shining explained. “And I’m sure she’ll be glad to see you too, so hurry up and get some of that stress off her plate.”

“Well, that solves a few problems at once.” Tim said, before blinking, “Shit, I never introduced myself. I’ll do so when we meet again, for now, you just keep up the good work.”

Shining simply smiled and then gestured for the guard he summoned to lead the group to the castle.