Dark as Chitin

by LostBox

Chapter 25: Cometh the Hour

Segment Music

Dawn and I now stood outside a room I had never noticed before; the enormous magical presence on the other side. Stepping up to the door, I opened it just a crack, sticking my head inside. What I saw both confused me and made sense all at once.

"What the?" I whispered to myself.

"How curious..." Chrysalis mused.

In the center of the room was what seemed to be a holographic 3-D map laid over it. Aside from this, the rest of the room looked extremely unkempt. This was understandable though, it looked like some kind of storage room.

Dawn leaned against me, trying to peek inside as well. "What is it? Let me see," Dawn pleaded.

I moved out of the way, giving her the opportunity to see for herself. Dawn stuck her head through the doorway before pulling it back out abruptly.

"What's Discord doing here?!"

"I don't know, but I'm finding out," I said as I opened the door a bit more and slipped inside, Dawn following after me.
"Stay close," I whispered, as I darted behind a stack of boxes.
"Don't worry, I will."

I stopped in my tracks, realizing that it wasn't Dawn that replied. Turning on a dime, I was now face to face with the Lord of Chaos himself. Discord leaned in close to me, stroking the tuft of his chin with a paw as he looked at me. He hummed to himself curiously before using his talons to turn my head, inspecting me more closely.

"So terribly sorry about this, but I just need to confirm something." Discord lamented as he placed his pawed appendage to my chest.

Upon doing so, I felt a sharp, white-hot pain course through my body. In an instant, Discord's paw was recoiled by bolts of white ethereal lightning. Discord's hand smoked for a bit afterward, but there was no serious damage left behind. Just as quickly as the pain had appeared, it had also vanished. Discord held his paw in his talon, looking away from me.

"What a fearsome thing, and I was only trying to say hello. So that's her aim then..."

I was confused, to say the least. "What did you-"

Just as I was about to ask Discord about what he had done to me, Dawn suddenly made a loud gasping noise. Discord vanished and reappeared above the map. I trotted up beside Dawn from behind the boxes to see what she had been looking at. Dark tendrils were stretching out from a single black blot on the map. The tendrils almost seemed to be alive with how fluidly they were moving. Two tendrils in particular seemed to be moving at high speeds towards a green orb on the map. At seeing this, I suddenly felt a massive wave of dread pass over me.

"Oh, that certainly doesn't feel ri-" Chrysalis said before abruptly being cut off.

The small connection I had to my mother had been severed in an instant, and I had no idea why. At that moment, I had dropped everything I had been doing or feeling and looked for the nearest exit to the room I was in. Somehow, I knew where that green orb was, and I knew I had to get to it before those tendrils did. Setting my sights on a window, I stretched my wings out before taking off. With my current speed, I knew that I wouldn't make it in time, so I decided on using magic as well. Using telekinesis, I influenced my body to move faster by pulling in the direction I was flying. On top of this, I used the barrier spell to make a semi-permeable barrier that would allow me to catch just the right amount of updraft while also cutting through the wind. Finally, I topped this off with a series of combustion spells behind myself, increasing my speed nearly five to six times. My magic was steadily draining, but that wasn't what I was concerned with.

Despite my drastic increase in speed, the wild throbbing in my chest never ceased, it only got faster. From Ponyville to Canterlot was about four hours by train, but I should be able to arrive significantly faster. Even still... I just don't know if I can make it in time.

Canterlot Royal Garden... a few minutes ago...Segment Music

Luna had arrived at a dead silent garden, not even the crickets made any sort of noise. She began looking around in hopes of finding anything obvious or indicative of the green orb but found nothing.

Through telepathy, Discord started guiding Luna. "To your left... no, no my left."

Luna sighed, a bit annoyed. "We cannot see you, Discord."

"Oh, that's right, my apologies, it must have slipped my mind. Head straight."

Following Discord's instructions, Luna came to a dead end. All that stood before her, were the statues of three petrified figures, the very same figures that tried to take over Equestria nearly two decades ago. Luna searched around for a few minutes, only to find nothing.

"We have found nothing," Luna stated.

Discord hummed to himself methodically. "Perhaps-"

Before Discord could finish the thought, the telepathic connection between himself and Luna was severed, leaving Luna alone with her thoughts. The moment this happened, Luna immediately knew something was wrong. The magic in the surrounding area had been cut off. It was as if the magic beyond a certain point had vanished without a trace. Luna looked around desperately searching for an answer to this newest development. It was when her eyes drifted up toward the sky that she noticed what exactly had happened. There was no sky in sight, instead, she had been precipitously trapped inside a pitch-black dome. Despite this fact, she could still see somewhat fine, the area had just gotten significantly dimmer.

Focusing her magic on the barrier, she attempted to use dispel, but it had no effect. The barrier felt vaguely like some form of dark magic, but far too ominous to be dark magic by itself.

Without any warning, Luna felt a cold sharp pain appear across her neck. She gasped for air, clasping at her neck with a hoof, a silver viscous fluid dripping from an open wound. It seemed to almost sparkle as it seeped into the soil of the garden, causing small royal blue flowers to sprout from the ground.

"So, alicorns do bleed after all," A smooth feminine voice said from behind Luna.

Luna whipped around toward the direction of the voice, only to see nothing. Casting a healing spell on herself, her wound began to close itself, returning her vitality. Luna placed a barrier around her body, getting into a defensive stance.

"Who is there?!" Luna yelled into the darkness using her Royal Canterlot voice; something she hadn't done in years.

Luna got no reply, causing her anxiety to increase gradually as the silence grew. Without warning, Luna felt her hind legs give out as she fell to the ground. There was a sharp pain across her fetlocks that definitely hadn't been there before. Looking at her hind legs, Luna realized that they too had been inconspicuously slashed. Healing this injury as well, Luna stood up before taking to the skies to overlook the garden. She had sworn her barrier had been up, yet she had still managed to get attacked. What's worse is that the barrier never came into contact with anything, she would have felt it if it did. Again, as Luna surveyed her surroundings, she found nothing.

Without any warning, Luna felt something adhere to her left hind hoof as she was yanked out of the air and slammed into the center of the garden. A small cloud of dust had been kicked up from the impact, but Luna hadn't taken too much damage from it. With a burst of magic, Luna stood up, clearing away the dust in an instant.

"Enough! Show thy self, scoundrel!"

"It pains me to do this, truly, but the Lord wills it," a cloaked figure stated as it walked toward Luna from seemingly out of nowhere, brandishing a knife engraved with strange symbols.

Luna's eyes drifted toward the knife, traces of sparkling silver lining the edge of the blade. It was blood, her blood. Weapons that could harm an alicorn were few and far between, yet this one was able to draw blood. Luna was suddenly filled with anger. She shot a powerful beam of magic at the figure, only for it to phase right through the being. Luna took a step back in confusion.

The cloaked figure chuckled to itself, removing its cloak as it and dropping it to the ground, "That won't work on me, but you're welcome to keep trying."

The figure that stood before Luna was nearly six feet tall, slender, but muscular. Upon seeing the creature though, Luna immediately knew what it was.

"An argonian?" Luna said, confused by her presence.

She spun the tip of her knife on her finger. "Oh, you know of us?"

"Of course, we do; a brutal cannibalistic race that drove itself to extinction, correct?" Luna said coyly.

The argonian smiled at this. "That's right, but our Lord has returned the gift of life to those of us that we're worthy."

Luna eyed the argonian dubiously. "Necromancy..."

Before Luna got any sort of reply, she felt something hard connect with her side. Luna was sent hurdling through rows of shrubs, eventually breaking her momentum by spreading her wings out before she touched the barrier. There were now two enemies she needed to deal with.

The moment Discord lost contact with Luna, he had already teleported to her location. He was met with a familiar scenario to the one her witnessed in the Everfree not too long ago. The difference was, that even with his enhanced chaos magic, the barrier wouldn't break. This barrier was far stronger and more refined than its predecessor ever was. They were almost incomparable.

"Well, that's not good."

Discord thought to himself for a moment before deciding on what to do. Faced with no other options, he opted to alert Twilight and Celestia about the situation through telepathy.

"So sorry to bother you two, especially on an important mission and all, but I fear Tia's sister may be in danger. Her magical presence vanished altogether in the gardens, and there's this barrier I can't quite seem to get through."

Twilight responded instantly. "We'll be right there."

With a flash of light, Celestia and Twilight were standing beside Discord, staring at a pitch-black wall.

Somewhere in the Badlands...

"It would seem that my subordinates are having much more trouble than I thought," A wicked voice said from within Sombra's head.

Sombra sat atop an onyx throne, two cloaked figures of a taller stature beside him. Sombra looked to each figure coldly.

"Go assist them, whether you fail or not, don't come straight back here. Make sure you aren't being followed before coming back," Sombra instructed.

Under the orders of Sombra, the two figures vanished into the shadows, as if swimming in them.

Inside the dome...(Segment Music)

Luna had taken some significant damage, then again, so have her adversaries. Luna had figured out the magic phased through the ghost-like argonian with the abnormally long tongue, but she was completely vulnerable to physical attacks. Luckily, Luna was quite the skilled hoof to hoof fighter. If the barrier hadn't been blocking out magic from reaching the outside world, she would have summoned her crescent eclipse blades and ended this fight much sooner. The other problem was the hooded figure that had joined the battle out of nowhere. It was smaller than the ghost-argonian, but it was extremely agile. Also, any sort of damage Luna did to it didn't seem to matter. In seconds, even without the use of magic, the wounds would heal. The only indication Luna had that the figure was even sustaining injuries was by the fact that it was gradually slowing down.

Needless to say, they were all in a tight spot, but Luna was especially tired. Being unable to siphon magic from the outside meant she was only losing more of it by the second. The barrier seemed to be absorbing whatever residual magicules that were inside of it before it formed. If this kept up, she wouldn't last much longer.

"I'm honestly surprised you were able to figure it out, but I'm still far from serious," the ghost-argonian said as it began walking toward the statues at the end of the garden.

Luna charged at the figure, only for the other figure to throw a powerful spinning kick at her. Luna managed to block the attack with a barrier but was still pushed back. Forced to sit back and watch whatever it was that the figure was doing, the ghost-like argonian eventually stopped in front of the statue of three petrified villains. Placing a dactyl to the statue of the former Changeling Queen, Chrysalis, it fell to pieces. Left behind was an almost transparent floating orb that emanated a green glow. The figure reached out, grabbing the orb before absorbing it into her body.

After doing so, all of her wounds healed, and her muscles seemed to tighten. She titled her head back toward Luna, smiling sadistically. Luna wasn't quite sure what she had just witnessed, but she was disgusted by it nonetheless.

"I'm sure the Lord wouldn't mind me borrowing one."