by P-Russ

Chapter Four: Thoughts and Revelations

Chapter Four:
Thoughts and Revelations

Silent the night. Silent the moon as it watched over the world. Silent the stars, keeping vigil with the moon, casting their uncertain light. Silent the birds of prey, favoring the cover of dark, as they fall upon unwitting prey. Silent the mountains, standing against the sands of time, stoic until the end times. Silent the trees, guarding all those who seek shelter among them. Silent stood the ruler of this all. Silent stood Luna, princess of the eventide, matriarch of the moon, and friend of the castaways.

Deep in thought she stood on her balcony, watching over the twinkling lights, both above, and within the city she called home. Canterlot itself was calm, the only things breaking this period of stillness were those who loved the night as much as its maker, but those were few and far between. She did not particularly mind this, no matter how few her admirers, she still wove a tapestry of her own being, of her very soul, and hung it in the skies for all to see. To look into the night was to look within Luna herself. Though, she was not nearly as peaceful as her domain this night. Her outward calm opposed by a turbulent worry within her.

Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and reflected upon her day, upon what the cause of her worries were. It wasn't difficult to figure out. Her disturbance was easily tracked to her vision. Her foretelling was not infallible, though it was always right. The matter was there, the interpretation was varied though. She had gained her visions on the moon, during her banishment. So distraught was she, that her mind looked down upon those who had scorned her, those who through their love, had cast her from their presence. She saw all that her moon saw, traveling the world for a millennia. The more she saw, the more the could truly see, though her vision was distant and partial at best.

The refinement of her vision was gained through her dream-walking. As her sister looked after Equestria as a nation, as a people, as a way of life, Luna looked after the ponies themselves, their minds, their well being, their hopes, and most importantly, their dreams. Every night Luna had taken it upon herself to guard the dreams of those finding rest in her night. Just as Celestia held court, Luna stood guard. Her only company during these times were the dreamers and their dreams, and often, their nightmares. It saddened her to enter a nightmare to calm the dreamer, only to see herself as the terror blighting their mind. This sadness cast her mind back to the moon, and her visions.

As she continued to stand against the horrors of the night, watching over the sleeping nation, she began to develop a sense, an awareness of her vision. Not a control, but an acknowledgment. The visions were, for a time, contained to her times thinking upon her own imprisonment. But the more that she saw, the more frequent they came, not only in dreams, but in her waking hours as well, though they became more and more indistinct. Where she once could tell when and where, now she could only guess. Where she once could tell who, she only saw silhouettes. Where she once saw what many would call the future, now she could only see a likeness, or a symbol of what is to come.

It was this vagueness that caused her troubles, this inability to discern, without a doubt, what was happening within her own head. A vision had come to her, and it had left her unsure and worried.

The vision was of a bald hill, no grass or trees, just blackened dirt. A crimson sky slowly turning into a black, starless, night. Only the moon, red as spilt blood, showed over the scene. As she crested the hill, the moon brightened, shining is auburn light before her. In the light before her, a mass of shadow flowed and turned. An army of shades stood at attention, staring ever forward. The ground between her and the army cracked, clods of dirt and stone violently thrown from the epicenter of the break. Out of the crack rose the head of a wolf, fur grey as ash, eyes red as fire, teeth black as the abyss of space, projecting an aura of control and hostility. From the smaller cracks around the wolf's head rose twelve bipedal figures, tall and proud, shifting through many colors as she looked at them. One by one they approached the wolf, kneeling before it. As they knelt, their colors drained, leaving only the darkest of reds. This continued until eleven of the figures knelt around the wolf.

The twelfth had stayed where it had risen. It turned away from the wolf and approached her. As it climbed the hill on which she was observing all of this, the wolf's eyes focused upon it. A beam of shadow lanced through the air, striking the figure in its back, and forcing it to the ground. The shadow separated from the figure, tearing away a large portion of its essence, and returned to the wolf, kneeling before it like the others. The now injured figure struggled to regain its footing. Slowly, it limped its way over to her. As it came before her, it stopped. After a moment it straightened, and bowed to her.

As it bowed, a myriad of colors erupted within it, swirling together in a haze of blues, golds, and white. But the earth began to rumble yet again. Without warning, a stone spike burst from the ground and impaled the figure before Luna, lifting the now unresisting corpse into the air. The colors within the fallen figure whirled faster and faster within their host, shining brighter and brighter. The light began to rival the sun in intensity, and finally burst forth from its shell. A wave of the purest white enveloped everything, casting away the shadows, and bringing life back to the hilltop. Blinking to recover from the light, she saw everything as it should be. The hill green with life, the army cast back into whatever pit it had arisen from, the wolf and its followers removed from the land. All was calm and as it should be, everything except a black stone spear and its victim still hanging from its point.

This was what came to her, this is what caused her worry. Though she thought about bringing it up with her sister, she thought it best to find some sort of interpretation first.

There was no need to cause a stir over what could possibly be nothing.

"Ah still don't trust 'im. Ah mean, ah heard 'is story and all, and ah believe it, somthin' just don't sit rightly with me."

"I know what ya mean mate. Seems a bit off if ya ask me."

They looked back to the figure laying unconscious in the back of their wagon. The steady rise and fall of the blanket the only betrayal of life.

"Well, both of us are hidin' thin's from the other. Ah can't rightly tell what's eatin' 'im, but somthin' tells me that he wouldn't quite like us bein' night guards an' all. Luna ain't gonna like it neither."

"Yeah? Way I see it, we're gettin' info, we just need to nut it out with this one, and if that means crossin' the bush, good on us. It's not like we're chucking a sickie, we're gettin' what we need on that whole "Diamond Nation" racket."

Moon just sighed. He disliked Hunter's nonchalant attitude for this kind of work, they had worked together often, and he would be hard pressed to find someone he trusted more, but the way he dealt with protocol was annoying to say the least. Moon wasn't much better, but still, at least he tried.

The two stallions turned back to the fire, watching the reds and oranges dance to an eternal song that only they could hear, consuming all and leaving only ash in their wake. Wood, leaves, grass, anything within the reach of the fire was reduced to nothing. It continued its dance, roaming around its stone prison, drawing the eyes of the two into a sense of security and calm.

Sharpeye hated cloudy nights. They caused the shadows to waver too much. It was great for prey and hunter alike, though when one hunts dangerous game, you want to see it, preferably before it sees you. He stood in the uncertain light of the moon, looking at the line of trees that marked the borders of their territory, and the start of their hunt. Bloodtooth had been very specific in their instructions, track and kill the traitorous ex-alpha. Not their first assignment like this, and probably won't be the last.

A scent wafted through the air around him. He grinned, teeth glinting in the light of the moon.

Too easy. He thought. With a series of hand signal the four other hunters gathered around him, all sniffing the air, no doubt smelling what he did. Dumb bastard has a fire, and if its not him, well... they might know something, no one expects the diamond inquisition.

A nod passed between the group, and as one they jogged toward the source of the scent. After a few minutes Sharpeye spotted the tell-tale glint of orange between the branches. A quick signal to his companions. They began to fan out, circling around the clearing that held two ponies, gazing into their fire. Another predatory grin formed across his muzzle. He raised his paw, the hunters he could see doing the same, telegraphing the command to any who could see.

A silence ruled the clearing, that only the crackling of the fire at the center dared oppose.

The paws dropped, and they lunged toward the fire.

...Uhg...What happened?...

I slowly opened my eyes. The last thing that I remembered was a flash of pain and then blissful unconsciousness. I shifted around. A slight tug on the fur on my back suggested that I had been bandaged. The slight weight around my body told me there was a blanket over me. The wood underneath me said that I was in the wagon from earlier. The fact that I still saw nothing said that it was still night. The warmth spreading along the lines of the scar sugge-... well thats new.

There was no pain, just a flowing warm, like water, trickling down the channels of the brand. It flowed, yet remained within the confines of the mark.

And it was getting warmer.

Interesting... Weird and concerning, but interesting.

I silently slid out from under the rough blanket, and onto the ground. My paws making no noise as I stood, balancing against the wagon, trying to regain my senses. My eyes focused to show I was in the shadow behind the wagon, my ears stopped ringing to hear the crackling of the fire and the murmuring of the two travelers. I idly sniffed the air, inhaling the scents of the forest, the smell of wood smoke, and something else. I couldn't quite name the smell, yet it was there, just on the edge of recognition.

My eyes widened in realization.

They have found me, and they have found the ponies. The innocent will not die for my own sake, I need to lead the hunters away.

In a symphony of motion, I leaped onto the wagon, and five shadows bolted toward the fire.