Afterlight

by Dyon


Chapter 2: A New Beginning

It was difficult to describe exactly how I felt at the time. I actually wasn’t able to feel anything. My body had left me, and I was just free floating in a vast sea of color and emotion. It was by far the strangest thing that I could ever remember happening to me, but at the same time I wasn’t worried.

Without my eyes I gazed in every direction at once and found that I was alone. The loneliness that I thought would have enveloped me at the realization didn’t come as I floated through the expanse of color around me. All of the colors of the rainbow swirled around me in a dance that nothing else could possibly hope to capture.

My legs were gone, but I was able to navigate the swirling ocean of energy with ease. The colors that greeted me were warm, and when I approached them I felt safe. The soft reds and oranges reminded me of my foalhood, when I would play with friends without a care in the world.

A ribbon of light green cut through the reds and suddenly I was taken back to the monthly trips I took with my dad to the woods on the edge of town. At nights I would grow scared of the encroaching darkness outside our tent, but just one look at my father and I would feel safe again. We didn’t often get to spend much time together, but when we were out in the woods I knew that I was the only thing that mattered.

The green began to deepen until it started to turn blue. I felt my mind turning to the memory of my mother’s funeral. I was only eight at the time, and not able to fully understand what was going on, but the pain I felt was real enough. The memory changed to my seventh birthday where my friends and I sat around my birthday cake. It was such a great party, and mom had even managed to get out of bed to come and give me my present herself. If I still had my eyes I think a tear might have rolled down my cheek.

The blue continued to deepen until it became a rich violet. Suddenly, I was thrown back to my college years where I spent my first night with my marefriend. She had been a beautiful pegasus, and her fur was the most magnificent and alluring green that I had ever seen. I truly thought that I loved her, but fate it seemed had different plans for us. She ended up graduating, and enrolling in the military. I dropped out of school, and moved to the city so that I could find some way to support myself.

The memories changed once again, but the color continued to hold. I found myself in the worn out apartment building that I had been living in for the last couple of years looking at the beautiful mare that was my neighbor. She leaned in towards me as I did the same, and we passionately embraced each other.

The colors blurred and I found myself in a home I didn’t recognize, but felt welcome in all the same. I was sitting at a table reading the newspaper, while two foals ran around in the living room. One was a young unicorn colt that was chasing his older sister around the room. I called out to them, and they immediately stopped what they were doing, and scrambled over to me.

I gave a short speech before patting the colt on his head and ushering them off. I think I told the filly to look after her brother while they were at school today. Time flew by again, and I was in bed with Violet as she cuddled up beside me. Tomorrow was Hearth’s Warming Eve, and I had to make sure to get all of the presents set out tonight before the kids woke up in the morning.

I was sitting in a chair with my lovely wife on my right. It wasn’t often that she found time to break away from her rehearsals at the theatre, but today was a special day. To my left sat my daughter with a bored expression playing across her face. I found it funny, but my attention quickly turned away from her as my son’s name was called and he proudly walked across the stage to the principal that was holding his diploma. As he turned to look out to the crowd I waved to him, and caught his embarrassed smile as he looked off to the side of the stage. Embarrassing your kids is one of the best parts of being a parent.

The years flew by once more, and I was sitting on the couch with Violet. We were getting on in years, and the kids had grown up and moved out leaving us a big house all to ourselves. The quiet was a welcome change, and we just enjoyed each other’s company. She leaned into me and I held her close; this moment was enough to last a lifetime.

Something grabbed me and I was pulled out of the memory of things to come. I looked around me, and saw a black line reaching through the tempest of color and into me. I didn’t know how I knew that the black was seeping into me, but I did. I tried to pull away, but the dark line began to reel back to where it came from.

I fought with it, but it was no use. I was dragged through the ocean of emotion and peace as I tried desperately to get away. I didn’t feel any pain, quite the contrary actually, the line made me feel like I was beginning to have flesh again. Before I had simply been, but now I started to feel my chest again. The sensation continued to spread until I was aware of my hooves once again.

That was when I felt the pain.


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The scorching tore through my body causing me to scream out. I cared little if anypony heard me in my throes of agony as I flipped about on the ground. The cold stone beneath me stood out harshly against the blazing fire that was tearing its way through every nerve I possessed.

I had expected the pain to kill me, but it might have had the opposite effect. I was feeling the life return to me, and it hurt worse than anything that I could ever imagine. It felt as if the very blood that pumped through my veins was made of dry ice, instantly sapping the heat out of any flesh that it passed by, and rendering it dead and black.

I continued to wail as the pain moved to my muscles. The same burning coldness that had been coursing through me before settled itself in my legs and chest, and began to throb with every beat of my heart. I felt as if my insides were going to explode as every beat of that damnable muscle pumped more burning blood into the aching tissue.

The cold finally reached my skin where it really began to go to work. I could practically feel my skin turn black and break open with every painful spasm. It tried to hold still as I realized that every turn I made only sent more pain coursing through my blackened decaying flesh. The exhaustion helped a lot, and soon I found myself lying on my side panting.

Each breath I took lessened the pain somewhat, and eventually it had subsided to a tolerable ache. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I knew that I should be dead right now. That train had definitely killed me so how could I possibly be here?

Hesitantly, my eye began to open little by little. I was lying on the cold stone floor of some eerily dark room. I couldn’t see my hoof that was lying on the floor in front of my face as I stared out into the darkness.

I don’t know how long I laid like that looking out into the blackness of the room around me, but eventually a small rectangle of light made itself known. I squinted, and realized that it was a slot in the side of a door, and stared at it intently. Two eyes passed in front of the slot for moment. They stared into the room, and narrowed on me for a second before the slit closed once again, bathing the room in shadow.

My mind began to slow, and I felt myself losing the tenuous grasp on consciousness that I had. I started to drift off once again to sleep that would hopefully allow me some small escape from the pain that I felt still pounding through my body. The last thing I saw before unconsciousness took a hold of me was the door that I had been looking at opening and a tall figure walking into the room.

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I could have been asleep for hours, but it felt like it had only been minutes. I didn’t awake to the scorching pain that I had before or the intense throbbing that I had felt as I lost consciousness. Instead I felt as if electricity was racing through my body as every nerve sparked with energy. Wearily, I opened my eyes and noticed that I wasn’t alone.

Torches that lined the walls of the small stone room illuminated the grey background. The damp smell of the underground made its way into my nostrils as I took a deep breath. My eyes narrowed on the large figure that was seated across the room from me. It took a moment, but eventually my eyes finally adjusted and I was able to make out the pony across from me.

She was tall, far taller than anypony else that I had ever seen. Her mane billowed behind her in a breeze that couldn’t possibly have found its way into this underground room. She looked down on me with deep turquoise eyes that perfectly accented her deep blue coat. On her had sat a long spiraling horn, and on either side of her a magnificent wing held itself perfectly still. It took me a moment, but the realization of who was sitting next to me hit me, and I reflexively made to bow.

As my legs uselessly kicked to bring me to a standing position pain raced through me once again, causing me to cry out. A worried look flashed across the princess’ face, but it quickly turned back to one of mild curiosity. She continued to stay seated, not making a move to do anything. I tried once again to move, but the same pain as before blocked me and I found myself staring uselessly at Princess Luna from the ground. Seeing that I wasn’t going to do anything, she stood and slowly approached me.

“You should not try and strain yourself. One does not simply come back from death, and shake it off as if it were nothing,” she informed me as she stalked closer.

I tried to reply but found myself hacking instead. I took several more deep breaths before I tried again, and found my voice came out far raspier than I remembered. “What happened?”

Luna pondered this question for a moment, “From what we have been told, you were hit by a train. We brought you back to this mortal plane after we found your soul wandering through the aether.”

I remembered the train, there was no way that I could ever forget the feeling of having every bone in my body crushed. I shuttered as the memory came unbidden to the forefront of my mind. I pushed down the memory, and tried to focus on the situation in front of me.

“Why?” It was really the only question that I cared about at the moment.

“All will make itself clear in time. For now you need to rest.” Her horn began to glow a deep indigo as she extended it toward me. I wasn’t able to shrink away as the tip of her horn connected with my forehead, and I once again found myself wandering through the blackness of sleep.


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Something metallic landed just inches in front of my face causing me to wake with a start. I found that my legs were working again, and I lifted a hoof to my eye to coax it into opening. I felt very well rested as I blinked the sleep out of my eyes and looked around the room I was still lying in.

The princess had apparently left me where I still lied, but a different mare had found her way into the room. She was big, at least as far as mares went, and her slitted eyes glared down at me with a predatory glare. I recoiled immediately and jumped away from her.

I landed on all four hooves, but instantly collapsed again as my legs were unable to support my weight. I found myself staring up once again at the mare in front of me as I began to study her. I noted that her fur was a harsh grey that clashed with her purple irises. On her sides massive bat wings were coiled, ready to spread wide in an instant. Her mane was short and a deep crimson color that had a line of black running through it. When I looked back to her face I noticed that she had two extended canines protruding from her lips.

“Are you okay?” her voice was much softer than I had expected. She took a hesitant step forwards, and I managed to stop myself from shying away.

“What is going on?” I asked as I managed to push myself into a sitting position.

“You are still getting used to your new body. It will take some time before you fully adjust,” she explained.

Her words struck me, and I found myself staring down at my hooves for the first time since I woke in this room. My previously white coat had turned to a light grey that still held its light blue tint. Fearing the worst I brought my hoof up to my mouth and hesitantly poked around my teeth. I found a sharp canine protruding from my lips that threatened to pierce my hoof if I poked it too hard. The mare must have sensed my horror as she immediately started fumbling for the right words to say.

“Oh my… did the princess not… calm down you are going to be okay.” I am not sure if she kept speaking or not as my mind began to reel.

I was dead. Of that I was one hundred and twenty percent certain. I had died in that subway terminal, but somehow I was here. The princess had said that she had brought me back, but why? I just couldn’t understand why I was still alive. Why? Why?

Something waving back in forth in front of my eyes caught my attention and broke me from my bleak ruminations. My eyes focused on a hoof waving back and forth in front of my face.

“Um… I brought you some food to eat since you are probably hungry.” She motioned to the tray that was set down a couple of feet away. That was probably what had woken me up. She walked back over to where the tray was lying and brought it back over to me.

A simple sandwich was set before me with a nice looking glass of orange juice beside it. It was at that time that my body made it known how famished I was, and I picked up the sandwich and began to devour it. It occurred to me that the meal might be poisoned, but I brushed the thought away since it made no sense. Why would you bring a pony back to life just to poison them?

I quickly finished the sandwich and picked up the glass of orange juice and began to inhale it. I drank too much, and was soon coughing up a lung as the mare in front of me looked at me with worry. I held up a hoof to show her I was okay before I finally regained control over my breathing.

“Are you feeling better?” she asked hesitantly.

I had to admit that the meal had actually done quite a bit to improve my mood. I had been in a great deal of pain before, but now I was actually feeling really good. Actually, I felt better than I ever had before.

“Yes, I’m feeling great actually. Like I could run a marathon in my sleep.” She giggled at my reply; it was actually rather cute if you could look past the scary eyes and teeth.

“You probably could. That will wear off in a couple of days though. Oh where are my manners I didn’t introduce myself.” She put a hoof forward, and I hesitantly shook it. “My name is Clarity.”

“I’m Lucky Star, and it’s a pleasure to meet you.” I lowered my foreign hoof to the ground and chuckled lightly at the irony.

“It does seem a little ironic given the circumstances,” she agreed.

…OH SWEET CELESTIA CAN SHE READ MY MIND! The thought soared across my consciousness in an instant, and caused the strange bat pony in front of me to take a step back.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to. I can’t always control it,” she explained as she continued to back up. I held out a hoof to show her that it was okay, and she immediately stopped.

“It’s fine I guess. I just don’t think that I have ever met a pony that could do that before.” Did she actually blush? “But if you wouldn’t mind could you please refrain from entering my sanctum.” I tapped the side of my head with a hoof as I gave her the most calming smile I could muster.

“I try not to go around reading other ponies thoughts since it is so terribly rude. Don’t worry I won't go spreading your secrets around or anything.” She took a few steps forwards and seated herself in front of me.

“So… why am I in this room in a new body?” Approaching the situation head on was probably the best way to proceed.

“Because the princess brought you back,” she replied simply like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Yes, but why?”

“Why did she bring any of us back?” I caught that the question was rhetorical and had to quirk my eyebrow to relay my confusion.

“What do you mean us?” I thought it was a valid question.

It seemed my inquiry only caused her to sigh as she began her explanation. “All of us were brought back by Princess Luna. We are her guard and do as she commands for the good of Equestria.”

I found myself hyperventilating, and started to feel dizzy. Clarity caught onto my plight and quickly moved to my side to stop me from falling over. We stayed like that for several minutes before I finally managed to regain control of myself again. A fit of manic laughter started to make its way from my mouth, and it seemed to put the mare beside me on edge.

“You mean that the princess brought me back from the dead for a job?” I completely broke down somewhere between sobbing and laughing hysterically. “No reason unemployment is so high. All of the good jobs are going to the dead.”

I fell over away from Clarity, and continued to laugh my head off. This situation was so messed up I didn’t even know where to begin. I had been dead just a couple of hours ago, but it had actually been pretty nice. I couldn’t remember anything specific, but I knew that I had been at peace in paradise after that train had hit me. Probably my reward for dying to save some loser.

“Are you done mocking me?” her words cut through my delirium and I stopped my laughter immediately. I managed to make my way back into a sitting position and looked at the mare that was glaring daggers at me. The scary eyes helped with that a lot.

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to make fun of you or what you do it’s just that this situation is so insane.” I rubbed my hoof against my temple. I could feel a headache coming on.

“I understand that you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment, but you need to understand what is going on. Are you feeling well enough to walk around.” I shakily made my way to my hooves, and was soon standing.

When I was standing I noticed that I was actually bigger than the mare in front of me, if only by a little. I actually thought that I was taller than I had been previously. I put an uncertain hoof forward which I followed then followed with another. As I continued to slowly walk forward the motion started to come back to me, and I soon found that it was exceedingly easy. How come I had thought it so hard to do before?

“I can walk it’s a miracle!”

I caused her to let out another giggle with my terrible joke, and noticed that I was starting to find that cuter every time I heard it. “That’s great. Earth ponies seem to take to the transition easier than the rest so I guess you have that going for you.” She made her way past me to the door that I just now noticed was standing wide open. She walked outside into the hall, and disappeared around the corner as I continued to watch her.

After a moment I saw her head pop back into view as she smiled at me, “Are you coming?”

“You bet,” I replied as I hurried after her.

The hallway I soon found myself in was made of the same stone that the room had been. I looked both ways, and saw the corridor extend for eternity until it finally tapered off into blackness. Clarity stood to my left waiting for me to get my bearings. Archaic torches were hung periodically along the walls shedding the only light that the dark hallway had.

“So where are we exactly?” I asked as I moved along beside her and we started to walk down the long hallway. I had noticed before that it smelled like we were in some underground cave, and the smell began to vanish the farther away we got from the room we had been in.

“We are at the home base. This is where we operate out of,” she said as she motioned to the walls around us.

“Okay… and where is that exactly?” I felt like I was going to get a lot of cryptic answers out of this mare.

“I’m not supposed to tell you actually,” she confided as we continued forward. We passed several rooms along the way that looked eerily similar to the one that I had been in. A few had a table bolted down in the middle of the room with chains fastened to them.

“Why would that be exactly?” I pressed.

“I can't tell you that either.” It looked like my questioning was starting to make her uncomfortable.

“Well what can you tell me then?”

“Not that much,” she replied. “Things will be made much clearer once we meet up with the others.”

“The others?”

“Yes, I told you that there were others here didn’t I?” I did recall her saying something about other previously.

“Okay, so we are going to meet up with more creepy ponies then?” I mentally slapped myself as soon as the sentence left my mouth. “Sorry, I didn’t mean that.”

Instead of being insulted as I assumed she would have been she threw her head back and started laughing. “I thought all sarosians looked really creepy too when I first saw them. You look a lot creepier than I do by the way.”

I stopped for a moment. “Do you have a mirror?” I asked as I began to feel around my mane.

“Oh yes, I forgot to show you didn’t I? I can really be scatterbrained sometimes.” She unfurled one of her wings, and brought forth a mirror that she had been holding with it.

I gave the leathery appendage a wide berth as I took the mirror from her. I held it up to my face to see what was so strange about my new appearance. At first glance I had to admit that I did in fact look a lot stranger than she did. All of my features seemed to be the same as they were before, but the colors were all wrong.

My normally two toned yellow mane had become long and black with two laces of gold running through it as it hung over the side of my neck. The two extended canines that hung out over my upper lip were almost twice as long as Clarity’s. My eyes had also changed colors and were now a brilliant shade of yellow as they stared back at me.

“Wow, I look like one of those vamponies from those terrible black and white movies.” My remark caused her to burst out in another fit of loud guffaw.

“You totally do,” she said between her laughter. She was laughing so hard I was afraid that she was going to fall over. I turned my attention away from her and back to the mirror where I continued to study my reflection. Something caught my attention, and I tore my gaze away from the reflective object and turned to stare intently at my own flank. It was completely bare.

“My cutie mark is gone.” I couldn’t actually believe something like that was possible.

Her laughter ceased immediately, and her expression saddened. “Yes, we all lost our cutie marks when we come back.” She lifted her wing and motioned to her own flank, which I noticed for the first time was blank.

“Why is it gone?”

“Can you remember what it was before?” she asked, and before I could reply immediately I found that I couldn’t. I couldn’t remember what the one thing was that was supposed to make me special, and set me apart from everypony else. I would have probably have gone into some sort of existential crisis if everything that had happened today hadn’t already braced me for more bad news.

I let out a calm breath, and preemptively stopped myself from breaking down again. “Okay, that is just one more thing that I will tack onto the insanity that I have been beaten with lately.”

She smiled at me, “That’s the attitude. Now come on we don’t want to keep the others waiting.” She turned and continued walking down the hallway, and I quickly followed after her.

It didn’t take too long for us to reach the end of the hallway where a large set of double doors blocked our path. Clarity put a hoof to the doors and pushed one open with a loud creak. I heard a conversation on the other side of the door come to an end as she stepped across the threshold. I took a deep breath, and followed her into the room.

Once inside the first thing that stuck out to me was just how large the room actually was. It was almost as big as the lobby in the building that I worked in. Or had worked in actually. Several chandeliers hung overhead casting a bright candlelight across the room that illuminated it quite well. There were no windows in the room, which I found as odd, but at the moment not much anything was going to throw me off.

Several couches and plush chairs formed a circle in the middle of the room, and a huge round table sat in the middle of the circle. The table held a map of all of Equestria, and I noticed several pieces were placed out all around the map. When I looked closer I noticed that two of the pieces was actually moving slowly across the map all on their own.

There were a total of five ponies in the room who seemed to have been waiting for Clarity and I. Three of them were lounging on the couches, and seemed to have stopped mid sentence as we came in. Another one was behind what looked like a fully stocked bar continuing to shake a drink mixer in his magical grasp as he lazily looked in our direction. The last was a mare that was not paying us the least bit of attention as she continued to play a game of pool.

“Everypony,” Clarity began, “this is Lucky Star.” She pushed me forward, and I found myself struggling to keep my balance.

“Umm… hi.” I managed to choke out.

One of the ponies that had been lounging on the couches, another batpony mare, got up from her seat and glided over to where we were standing. The trip was only about forty feet, but she landed in front of me in a split second.

“It’s nice to meet you, Lucky Star, I’m Silver Wing. Welcome to the Eternal Guard.” She smiled as she extended a hoof, which I hesitantly accepted. Silver Wing was an even darker shade of grey than Clarity was. True to her name her completely silver mane hung over the side of her head as she gazed at me with her deep scarlet eyes.

“Riiight.”

“We should get introductions out of the way as soon as possible shouldn’t we?” Without waiting for my reply she was already ushering me over to the group that was still lying on the couches. The stallion from the bar soon joined us with his drink in tow.

“This fine specimen over here is Ginger,” she said motioning to the earth pony mare that she had been lying next to a moment before. Ginger was actually a very light shade of black, and her perfectly styled red mane was held in the air but what I could only assume was an exorbitant amount of hairspray.

“This lazy bum here is Strafe,” she motioned to the light grey unicorn stallion that was also lying on the couch. His light teal mane was braided down his neck.

“I resent that,” he said, but didn’t sound that enthusiastic about it.

“Yea yea whatever.” She turned and pointed at the stallion who was taking a sip from his recently procured drink. “This here is Focal Point. Try not to talk to him about politics because once he gets going he just will not stop.”

Focal Point raised an eyebrow at the odd introduction, but kept his silence. He also had a dark grey coat, but strangely enough had a deep pink mane with a few black streaks running through it that fell over half his face.

“And that ball of joy over there is Melody. Try to stay on her good side if you want to keep all your limbs in working order.” The mare in question merely grunted in response as she continued to line up her shot.

Melody was a rich onyx unicorn with an electric green mane that was cut short to her head. I seemed to have noticed a distinct trend between all of the sarosians pertaining to coat color. Before I could ponder the implications I found my vision being taken up by Silver Wing.

“So you are one of those deep thinker types huh? You will get along great with Captain Nightshade then.”

“Captain Nightshade?”

“He is the leader of the guard, and reports to Princess Luna directly. He is out on assignment now, which leaves me in charge.” She gave me a hasty salute, which I didn’t know what to make of. “First Lieutenant Silver Wing.” I saw Strafe sigh and roll his eyes out of the corner of my vision.

“That’s great and all, but what exactly is going on here?” I found myself asking that question a lot.

“You mean Clarity didn’t tell you?” Silver asked looking at the mare to my right.

“She said she wasn’t allowed to tell me,” I answered for her.

“Oh yea I told her not to. It must have slipped my mind.” Silver Wing bopped herself in the head a few times as she continued to smile at me. I think this mare might be on some powerful drugs, and I was not afraid to admit that I might be curious to try them.

“So then can you tell me what is going on, and where we are?”

“Sure. First Princess Luna brought you back from the dead using her super powerful alicorn magic, and you have been lying in that room moaning and sleeping for almost a week now. She said that when you finally stopped we could go and check up on you. So I asked Clarity to bring you something to eat since I knew that you would be really hungry, and then she brought you out here.”

“Wait, you mean that I was in that room for a week?” There was no way it had been that long.

“Yea, I know it must have felt like years, but it was only a week. Go figure.” It took some strain, but I was finally able to put aside that comment for later.

“Okay, where are we exactly then.” Strafe and Ginger had gone back to their conversation, and Clarity had taken a seat on the couches and was talking with them. Focal continued to stand against one of the chairs watching events unfold with a detached expression showing across his face.

“We are at the home base.”

“Where is the home base?” This might take a while.

“In Canterlot of course,” Silver replied, oblivious to my rising agitation.

That one I had actually not been expecting. I had just assumed that we were in some underground bunker in Manehatten, but somehow we were over halfway across the country.

I was about to ask another question, but the mare in front of me made her own inquiry first. “Hey, what do you remember about the other side?”

The rest of the group stopped their talking and turned their attention to us. Even Melody had stopped mid shot and was glancing in our direction while still wearing a mask of indifference. I didn’t need any clarification on her question; it was obvious enough by itself what she was talking about.

“Well,” I began, “ I can’t really remember much. I think I remember seeing my parents, but that’s it.” I shrugged.

“That’s nice. Nopony else can really remember much of what it was like to be on the other side either, but it’s nice that you got to see your parents.” I was about to remark, but she once again stopped me before I could even begin. “Clarity,” she said, turning around to look at the pegasus mare that was lying on one of the couches, “why don’t you finish showing Lucky Star around.”

That mare in question excused herself, and stood up from the couch before gliding over it to stand in front of me. Silver Wing smiled before doing a backflip, opening her wings momentarily to give her increased lift, and landing on the couch behind her silently. It was probably the most graceful thing that I had ever witnessed. “If you have any more questions feel free to come talk to me any time.”

I soon found myself being pushed out of the room by Clarity as the three on the couches returned to their conversation that we had interrupted when we arrived. As we left the room through a different set of double doors I couldn’t help but notice that Focal was staring at me intently, while Melody watched me out of the corner of her eye.

The doors banged closed behind us, and I saw that we were once again in a long hallway lined with torches. I briefly wondered how many torches it took to keep this place running since it seemed to be their chief source of illumination.

“The torches don’t actually burn out,” Clarity informed me, and I was immediately reminded that the mare next to me was able to hear my thoughts.

“I thought I asked you not to do that.”

“Sorry, sometimes I can’t help it. Maybe you should try thinking quieter,” she suggested as she began walking down the hallway.

After rolling my eyes I saddled up along side her as we walked. “Are these some kind of magic torches then?”

“Yes actually. Artificial lights tend to hurt our eyes so we have torches and candles everywhere for illumination. At first we just used regular torches, but that started to become expensive so we had a unicorn enchant them to never burn out,” she explained.

“Is that also why there are no windows?” I asked, causing her to look at me surprised.

“You picked up on that pretty fast. Yes and no. The sunlight also isn’t very good for us since we are more suited to low light vision, but the reason there are no windows is because we are inside of a mountain.”

“Wait,” I stopped walking, “are you telling me that we are inside Canterlot Mountain right now?”

Clarity also stopped and turned back to look at me, “Yes, that is where our base is located. It is kind of the perfect hideout don’t you think.” She winked at me, a gesture that I couldn’t possibly hope to grasp the meaning of, and continued to walk forward once again. “Come on, we have a lot to see.”

Without bothering to protest I once again began to follow the mare through the dark tunnels. It wasn’t very noticeable at first, but little by little my eyes began to adjust to the harsh darkness, and before long I was able to pick out minute details on the walls we passed by. If I squinted I swore I could make out words carved into the rock of the hallway.

While distracted I almost ran right into Clarity as she stopped and opened a door that I hadn’t noticed before. “This,” she began, “is where we do all of our training.”

I peeked around her and the space that I saw laid out before me threatened to take my breath away. I had thought that the other room we had been in was large, but this was monstrous. The room, if it could even be called that, was the size of an entire hoofball stadium.

An enormous four hundred meter track ran the entire perimeter of the ovular cavern. In the middle of the enclosed space several different types of sparring equipment could be seen strewn about. There were actually bleachers on the far end of the track that were embedded into the natural rock.

When I gazed upward I saw that several stalactites hung ominously over our heads, some even had large metal rings fastened to them. The entire cavern was lit in an odd turquoise glow that came off of several massive gems that were embedded into the walls of the cavern.

I must have been gaping because the sound of Clarity’s light laughter broke me out of revere. I closed my mouth and turned my attention back to the mare beside me. “It is rather impressive isn’t it?” she said as she began to walk into the cavern. “We call this place The Green. Do you know why?”

I looked around the massive cavern once again, my eyes zeroing in on the soft glow of the crystals around me. “I could hazard a guess.”

She smiled and shook her head. “No, it has nothing to do with the lighting. We call this place The Green because it’s where the rookies come to train and become experts. This is where the real guards are made.” She quickly walked back past me and into the corridor behind us. “We have a lot more to see.”

The rest of the trip was pretty straight forward. We passed areas that were designated as the kitchen or the dining hall. Neither of them were actually that big, but compared to The Green it was going to be hard to even come close. Many of the rooms we passed were empty, and I asked Clarity about them, but all she replied was that they were rooms they hadn’t found a use for yet.

Soon we found ourselves standing outside a door that had a large yellow star emblazoned on its surface. “And this is your room,” she said, motioning to the door.

I had to do a double take as I was informed of the room’s purpose. I don’t know what I had been expecting, but having a room for myself already laid out was not it. I put a hoof to the door and pushed it open so that I might get a better look inside. The room was bathed in a thick black, and I was barely able to make out a rough shape of anything.

Clarity reached a hoof inside, and felt around for a moment. I heard a clicking sound as she slipped some sort of switch that was on the wall, and suddenly several torches and candles that were placed around the room lit up. “Fancy unicorn magic.” She shrugged as she walked past me and into the room in question.

I quickly shook off my confusion and joined her in what I had been told was my bedroom. It was a lot nicer than my apartment had been. A large plush bed sat against the far wall, and was outfitted with an exorbitant amount of pillows resting atop a magnificent looking red comforter. A desk sat against the wall to my left, and several sheets of blank paper adorned it along with a quill and ink.

The chandelier overhead provided most of the light, and held seven bright burning candles. When I looked closer I noticed that the flames were more yellow than they were red. A simple but extremely well carven table sat in the middle of the room. On it was a bowl of various fruits that tempted my mouth to start watering immediately.

What really drew my attention though were the bookcases that lined the left wall of the magnificent bedroom. Hundreds of titles stuck out to me as I slowly approached the tomes with reverence. Several of the titles I recognized immediately: Dante’s Inferno, Omeros, and The Dark Tower were just a few of the dozens of books that filled the bookcases.

“Well I can see that you like to read,” Clarity said from where she was standing behind me.

“I do enjoy a good read,” I replied as I started to scan over the titles.

“That’s good. I will come get you when dinner is ready okay?” I heard her move back to the door behind me as I grunted something noncommittal. The door behind me closed as she left, and with a smile of triumph I found the book that I was searching for. I pulled the large blue book from the bookcase and quickly flipped it open to the page I had been on before.

“Well at least I get to finish reading you.”