Shining Armor watched as the others left, once he was sure it was just him and the guards his horn flared, dispelling the illusion of his fatigue.
“Captain, why did you throw the fight?” One of the guards asked as he approached.
“What, saying I can’t put on a show for our guests?” Shining asked.
“Just curious is all; we all know you’re much stronger than that.”
“Alright then, I was interested. I wanted to see how far she can push herself once she’s set her mind to something. She’s devious but wants to test her limits. If I was in a foreign land showing off my skill, I wouldn’t want the local guard to mop the floor with me. She’s got heart and skill, there’s room to improve and I can tell that she knows there is. Now, other than winning a few bits for me, was there anything else I can help you with?” He asked with a smug grin.
The guard sighed and tossed him a moderately sized bag of bits, “The new recruits are going to be pissed when they find out.”
“I’m sure once they see the new equipment and the free drinks this weekend they won’t complain too much.” He said.
The other guard chuckled and went about repairing the dummy. Shining noticed something shimmering on the ranged target before remembering that the bat-no, the thestral mare forgot to retrieve her daggers. He pulled them out with his magic and gathered the final one from the polearm.
“Are these truly as strong as she insists?” He muttered, looking them over. They were a comfortable weight, pretty balanced, and he managed to cut himself without realizing it as he saw the drop of blood trailing from his hoof. “Definitely sharp as hell…”
He carried the daggers in his magic along with the polearm down to the armory. The sound of an anvil rang out as the blacksmith worked on forging another weapon. Shining let himself in and set the polearm off to the side for repair as he approached the forge.
“Ye best keep back if ye know what’s good fer ya.” The large dirty minotaur warned as sparks flew from his work.
“Relax Kenneth; I got something you might like to see.” Shining said.
The minotaur roared in rage and threw an iron fire rod at Shining, which bounced harmlessly off his shield. “I TOLD YOU! MY NAME IS FUCKIN’ KEN!”
“But it suits you.” Shining chuckled.
Ken huffed, “Whaddya want? I’m busy.”
Shining walked up and set one of the daggers onto the work table. “Ever see anything like this?”
Ken picked it up and looked it over, tested the balance with a few expert motions, and sliced hit thumb up when he went to test the sharpness. “Th’ craftsm’nship is somethn’ Ah aint seen b’for. Balance is too perfect, blade’s too sharp, this ‘ere is enchanted.”
“I already checked for enchantments, the blade is pure, all natural. According to the owner it took her people about 1500 years of forging to perfect it. I want to test exactly what we’re up against if peace between us turns south. I witnessed her other weapons slice through your armor like it was paper, and one of these was even imbedded into a polearm.”
Ken looked at Shining with a raised eyebrow, “Well le’see whut we got.” Ken took a bit of chalk and marked along the side of the dagger, then gripped the handle and slammed it into an anvil. It imbedded itself with a solid ‘thunk.’ Ken noted the marks on the dagger and whistled.
“Got about tree inches ‘a penetration.” Ken said as he grabbed his large forging hammer. He stepped back and swung hard into the broad side of the dagger. There was a loud crack as chunks of steel and iron went flying in all directions.
Shining lowered his shields once the dust settled, revealing that the anvil was shattered in half, a large chunk on the floor nearby. Imbedded into the far wall though, was the dagger. Shining pulled it out with his magic and handed it to Ken. He looked it over with a keen eye before he shook his head in disbelief, and then held it out for Shining to see.
“Ye best be on yur best behave’yor lad, Don wan’ be picken a fight wit this lot.”
Shining nodded as he examined the dagger, it was still as pristine as it ever was as it glinted dangerously in the light of the forge.
Prince Blueblood was having an awful day. After the fiasco of having to eat alone he learned that a new bat pony and a black bug looking thing were disrespecting the nobility and the princesses by referring to them casually. Unfortunately he was unable to locate his aunt before his meeting with the other house nobles. He was too busy steaming in his seat over the events that the discussions before him went unheard. That is, until, the discussion of the conversation changed to one noble recounting his run in with the filthy bug.
“I say, it was the most hideous and vile monstrosity my eyes were subjected to, and then it had the audacity to fight back instead of lying down to be killed.”
Prince Blueblood’s ears perked up, “Did it look like a black bug?”
The noble looked to the prince with wide eyes, “Yes, yes it did my lord.”
Blueblood stood from his chair, “Then this abomination must be put down. I will see to it that it is done.”
“Sire, there is word that it has quite the formidable guard of its own.” The noble warned.
“Then it will be put down as well.” Blueblood said as he left the meeting room, slamming the door shut behind him. He was quickly approached by his butler.
“Will you be needing anything sire?”
“No, I am to be left alone until further notice.”
“Understood sire.” The butler bowed out of the way ad Blueblood stormed passed.
Blueblood traversed the halls of his mansion, making his way to his private study. He locked the door behind him before moving behind his desk. He swung the massive painting of him and his aunt Celestia outwards on its hidden hinges, revealing a large safe.
He entered his combination and it unlocked with a clang. He pulled it open, revealing it to be thick re-enforced steel. Inside was all manner of currency, from bags of bits, to precious gems, to bars of gold and the odd royal regalia. He ignored all this as he reached far into the back, and with a grunt he pulled a hidden lever.
He backed out, closing and locking the safe and closing the portrait as a set of hidden stairs revealed themselves. The floor behind the desk dropped down in parts, each bit dropping lower than the last until after seven such steps revealed a patch of stone descending into the darkness. He grabbed the candle holder from his desk and lit the four candles as he headed down into the darkness.
He pulled another lever further down, causing the stairs behind him to ascend back into his floor. If anypony were to look inside, it was appear as though nothing were out of the ordinary. Blueblood walked proudly through the darkness; while the tunnel wasn’t too well used he has taken it upon himself to keep out the spiders. He couldn’t trust a maid with such knowledge after all.
After some time the path leveled out as the stone slowly became crystal, the light from his candles reflected and made the crystals glow with an eerie blue light. He maneuvered through the winding natural cave until it opened into a cavern, where a bunch of filthy ponies mingled about. Some sharpened weapons while others drank and gambled. He had reached the headquarters of the thieves’ guild, a bunch of cowardly lowlifes that made up the scum of the city.
“Oi lads, look who decided to join us!” One of the thieves called out, his foul breath assaulting Blueblood across the short distance.
Blueblood held back his retort, “Yes, I need to speak with Clavicus about a certain matter.”
“Oi oi, you know better than to speak the Boss’s name like that Ol’Blue. He’ll string you up and drain yer fluids like he did to Timmy Two Time.” The thief warned. Blueblood paled slightly, having forgotten just what he was dealing with momentarily.
The thief nodded, “Tha’s right, know your place noble. Now, wait ‘ere while I go let him know.”
Blueblood nodded as the thief walked to a cave at the back. He spent the time waiting standing there awkwardly as the others went about their business. He didn’t have to wait long before the other thief returned.
“The Boss will see you, ye best behave or else it’s Timmy Two Time for the likes of ye.” He threatened, and then laughed with the others as Blueblood hurried into the back.
The cave wasn’t too long, ending with a dark red cloth hanging from the top, marking a type of entryway. Blueblood put out the candles and set them off to the side before making sure he was presentable. Once he finished checking everything he moved the curtain off to the side and walked in.
The interior was completely different from the caves outside. The guild had built a large living room, complete with wooden floors, walls ceiling, and fireplace. The furnishings were likely stolen or ordered with stolen bits. Along the walls hung the heads of various ponies, each with a placard for who they were and the reason for their death. Among them were several monsters he had never seen before. He made it about four steps inside before a dagger made of sharpened bone was imbedded into the floor at his hooves, causing him to yelp and jump back.
“What is your business here?” A raspy voice called out. Bluebook looked around but all he saw was the back of a large chair in front of a fireplace.
“I-I have come seeking assistance with a matter.” Blueblood spoke up from where he stood, not daring to move.
“And what makes you think I would be willing to do as you ask?” The voice asked.
Blueblood shivered, his spine tingling as though he were listening to nails on a chalkboard. “Two newcomers have insulted her highness and the nobles; they must be dealt with… I can pay you anything you want.”
“Do you take me for a fool?” The voice asked, but didn’t wait for a reply. “I have no need for your gold or gems. I want something in particular in return for my services.”
“Anything, Lord.” Blueblood said with a bow.
“I know of the ones you speak. One of them is a changeling boldly walking about in the open.” It said.
“Changeling?” Blueblood asked in confusion.
“Yes… This changeling has something that I want. I want you to retrieve it for me once the job is done. If you can’t manage that, well, those two will be the least of your worries.”
Blueblood paled further as his eyes shot to the mounted heads, “But… How will I know what it is?”
“You will know. Now leave my presence.” It commanded.
Blueblood bowed quickly before scurrying back to the cave, nearly forgetting his candlestick in the process. He hastily made his way past the bandits as they heckled him, back into the cave he came from. With the candles lit he navigated the dark tunnel until he reached the lever and pulled it once again.
The stone before him rumbled as the stairs slid into place. He clambered up and the lever sprang back, causing the stairs to return to floor level. He blew out the candles and used his magic to clean up any dust on his cloths or fur and the floor that had descended into the cave below.
Once everything was presentable he headed back to the castle, the other nobles can do as they please, for he was on a mission, one he could not fail. He walked the paths in darkness, the moon high overhead. He reached the castle as unholy howls filled the air, followed by the screams of the guards as they were torn asunder. Knowing his time was limited, he hurried to the guest rooms to retrieve his master’s payment.