A Nocturian Tale

by Corvus Eclipse

Chapter: 2

The king’s eyes opened wide and an unnatural sound went through his breathing mask. Everything around him was blurred like some invisible force have casted a grim spell upon the world. Struggling against the cables Eridanus quickly injected a so called “Auto injector” into his veins. Reacting upon this movement a mechanism released a dose of strong medicine. The medics and physicians claimed that the extract from a root called “Colorless Vein” would boost his sickly organism. Other ingredients have been added with the purpose of supplying the body with crucial substances Eridanus did not know much about, but his sick body stopped to produce them on its own. At least that is what he has been told.

< With proper care, and more importantly with time your body will start to function properly my lord. Magic was preserving your organs during your coma. They adapted to it and now since the spell is no more the organs can’t function on their own and supply the body with vital substances. Time my lord! Time! Time and your cooperation with us IS of great importance. >

The voice of one of the most trusted and talented doctors of Nocturia went through his mind losing itself like any sound in the depths of the Underground. Slowly the injection started to fulfill its purpose. The tens muscles, that seemed to out match the strongest granite the depths of earth had to offer lost the painful tension and granted the king some rest. Gladly his sight was no longer a messed up vision of colors and shapes. Everything melted together, reshaping the blurry chaos into a proper picture of his surroundings.

Due all the excitement the King under the Mountain noticed that he was holding his breath. While the lungs were filled with the artificial air the sickly stallion inspected the place he was occupying. As suspected there was no chance of recognizing anything. Thick walls of richly engraved stones were shaping a great chamber so big, that several families would have found shelter within it. Everything was gently lit up by natural crystals, which were emitting pleasant warmth alongside the light. Spreading in various locations they served their purpose well for their light kept the relentless darkness of the Underground at bay.

Exquisite furnitures were literally ‘one’ with their environment, creating a unique touch of precision, talent, grace and beauty. Paintings of events long past told their stories on the walls, carpets of crimson color spread their wonders patterns over the floor, cups of gold decorated with gemstones of all shapes and forms reflected the light in a marvelous way, while the softest moonsilk touched the king’s body like a refreshing breeze. A chamber suited for a ruler everypony would say.

< The only refuge where a King could take off his mask… but in the end it is nothing more than a fancy prison. A place full of memories no matter if good or bad… > Thought Eridanus, recalling a memory so strong he wished he had forgotten it within the depths of the Underground with the rest of his clouded memories. For now this place would serve as his home for as long as possible. A soft sound caught his attention. Fighting against his protesting muscles, he followed the source of the sound.

The search did not take long.

At the edge of the formidably great bed lied Moonwing: his little star. It was her breathing that has lured the stallion’s eyes upon his child. Wondering how he did not feel the touch of her hook upon the chest, Eridanus noticed that he was covered in at least two thick quilts. Yet somehow the body was feeling cold. It seemed that something was happening to the sick king while the sleep has finally overtaken him. Gladly no nightmares have haunted Eridanus, but of course it was a possibility that the memory failed its task.

Still too weak to stand up Eridanus took his time for watching his youngest child. Though so many years have passed certain things remained the same. A vision of distant time appeared among the foggy curtain, which was surrounding his mind with its milky coat. He saw himself holding the few days old Moonwing between his front legs. She was inspecting him with her cute eyes, which were slightly glowing in the dark, smiling about every movement she spotted. No matter if it was a move of his wings and hooks, or some funny facial expressions every father performed for his beloved children.
Especially the happy giggles of Moonwing, while he gently nuzzled her soft small nose echoed in his mind and soul. It was the most valuable thing Eridanus claimed to own: memories of his family.

The smile disappeared from the king’s face. Even if it were only a few moments his mind managed to preserve, the mere thought of how many things the cruel fate has taken away from him filled the heart with pain words could not describe. She was no longer the small fur ball that kept slide down his leathery wings; she was a beautiful grown up mare. He did not see her grow… he did not see how she slowly learned how to use magic... he was not there in the time of need, in the time when the younglings thought they knew everything about the world. He was not there to help her overcome any problems that might have crossed her path. He was not there to listen, to advice, to support and to love her as any father should.

Only her brothers were with her, while the coma was still upon him. Eridanus’s eyes slightly open and he could feel how his heart started to beat faster.

< Brothers… >

He groaned and let his hooks grasp his paining head. This rather clumsy action not only woke up the sleeping Moonwing, but also pushed her away, making her fall ungentle on her back. Quickly she stood up:

“Father!” She cried out and came closer. Cold sweat was running down his body while some kind of conflict was unleashed in the king’s mind. Pictures, sounds, smells, feelings and emotions were pushing against the fog, ripping its milky curtain with each flash. The stallion did not feel the magic that was flowing through his body. Moonwing was calling for the doctors while she tried to hold her father, who was unnaturally tossing his body against his will. With growing fear her yells quickly became louder, and though he was not hearing them in act of desperation she also sent ultrasonic sounds, which were affected by magic so they would not simply return as echoes.

Suddenly the King under the Mountain stopped to toss around letting out a very long and relived sigh. His eyes were glowing with white light, hiding the pupils and irises with it. The breath became normal though his breathing mask fell off despite Moonwing trying to make it remain at the right place. Still sweating under the two quilts Eridanus used his wings to remove them, welcoming the pleasant temperature of his new chamber. For a moment he seemed to be lost, but the sound of many hooves returned him back into the reality.

On his own he placed his mask back where it belonged and looked upon the small group of ponies who have literally bumped into the king’s chamber. His daughter was fighting against tears while she was inspecting him, but for some reason Eridanus was feeling a little bit better.

“Child… where are your brothers? Where is Corvus? And… where is Aurelius?”

The ponies exchanged some quick looks while hoping to hide it from their king, but sadly this did not work. One of the elder doctors came closer and gently helped him to lie down on his bed. Surprisingly he felt so weak that he did not protest or fought against it.

“They are performing their duties father.” Said Moonwing who took her place back at the edge of the bed, touching his cheek with her hook. “Otherwise they would have come to visit you…” A single tear ran down her cheek as she leaned against his head. But the king was no longer among them for he has fallen asleep. The doctor saw what kind of injection the king used and gave him a different type of injection, which would limit the influence of the other medicine.

“It seems that the king’s body is regenerating faster than expected my lady. He suffered an overdose of the vein extract I am afraid. We never had a case like that before… I beg your pardon Princess.”

“Make sure that this will never happen again…” She stood up with teary eyes and was about to leave the room. While everypony cleared the way for their Princess she turned around and said: “If something will happen to my father I will make sure that any of you will disappear in the depths.”

The doctors and physicians quickly gathered around the king, trying to hide that they were not shaking in fear. The heavy door behind her closed on its own without a sound. Two strong and healthy stallions were awaiting her arrival.

“I will return to my duties on my own… make sure that any precautions about my father’s security have been made.”
The guards hit the ground with their banded hooves and separated from each other. Moonwing was aware that she has overreacted… she would have never done something like that to her subjects, but fear tends to cut deep and take the better of every living being. First she was walking, yet quickly she started to run while her sobs echoed through the caverns. The Princess under the Mountain was running as fast as she could through the darkness, fearing that she might never again look into her father’s eyes. For she had neither the courage nor the strength to tell him the truth about his sons.