Starcrossed

by The Drunken Sailor


Chapter 15~ Brothers

Chapter 15~ Brothers

Celestia's sun sat high in the sky and set the white marble of Canterlot ablaze with a brilliant glow, the fresh snowfall sparkled in the cold light giving the entire city an almost holy glow. At least, that's what Flash thought as the train crested the mountain and pulled into Canterlot station. He and Twilight wasted no time in leaving the train and making their way up towards the Royal Castle. As they went they passed many residents who bowed respectively. They entered the castle gates with Twilight giving a happy sigh.

"It's good to be back," she said.

"Yeah," Flash agreed. "That trip seemed to be much longer than it actually was."

"It wasn't all bad though," Twilight said, brushing up affectionately against Flash. "Right?"

"Right."

The two ascended the steps of the castle to have the doors open before them to reveal Shining Armour. Twilight wasted no time in sprinting forth and almost knocking her brother to the ground with a powerful hug.

"Hey, how was the trip?" Shining said, returning his sisters hug.

"There's so much I want to tell you! You won't believe some of these nobles..."

"You'll have to tell me later, Celestia's waiting for you inside... I think you two have a lot to talk about."

"You're right, excuse me." Twilight broke her embrace and entered the castle. Flash made to follow her but was stopped by Shining's hoof.

"Not you, I think you and I need to talk," Shining said and Flash's heart dropped into his stomach as he suddenly realized he was talking to Twilight's older brother and all the fear of that hit Flash like the train he had been riding for the past month.

"Come with me," Shining said with a tone and smile that was probably the most menacing thing Flash had ever seen, he followed Shining's guiding hoof around his shoulders into the castle and left into a side hall.

"Now, Twilight send a letter forth before you arrived here-"

"S-she did?" Flash said, Oh Celestia he knows.

"Yes, to both me and Princess Celestia," Shining said. "She told us everything that happened during your trip, everything you did."

"Okay..."

"She also said how she wanted to make you a knight," Shining said catching Flash's eye. "Now, it's not exactly up to me but... from everything Twilight said you are certainly capable and even without her recommendation I'd definitely have you promoted, but again knighthood is something I have no hoof in, but, I want you to know you have my personal thanks for protecting my sister."

"Oh, uh, you're welcome?," Flash said in surprise.

"Good, now, there was one other thing Twilight said in her letter... And it was only in my letter not the Princesses," Shining said while stopping in his tracks and facing Flash. "Twilight is a grown mare, a Princess, but she's still my sister, she can choose who to spend her time with whomever she wants and I won't interfere."

"Really?" Flash asked. "You're not going to threaten to break my spine or something if I hurt her?"

"No, why would I do that? You seem like a good stallion Flash and you haven't given me a reason to doubt you, I'm keeping an eye on you of course but I have no worries," Shining said, cracking a smile.

"Wow, uh, thanks," Flash said.

"You're welcome, now, let's head back, the Princesses will want to see you once they're done."

They turned on the spot and walked back, not having gone far in the first place. They made it back to the great hall just Twilight and Celestia were walking out of it. Twi shared a look, grin, and wink with Flash before joining Shining, then disappeared around a corner as Celestia beckoned for Flash to follow her. With a deep breath he stole his courage and followed obediently.

The Princess didn't say anything at first, merely cantered casually through the hall. Her silence only made Flash more nervous, his heart rate elevated and his mind raced with what would happen to him. What if she didn't want him to be a knight? What if she actually thought he did a terrible job protecting Twilight and deserved to be thrown back out on the streets? What if she didn't think a Princess like Twilight deserved to be with a no name grunt like him.

Flash forced himself to take a breath, he was still nervous but he realized most of his fears were unfounded. Looking to distract himself, Flash found himself looking up at Celestia. She was much taller than the average pony and Flash couldn't help but wonder if Twilight would ever grow that tall. There was an energy about her, a warmth that radiated from her like the sun she represented that was joined by a buzzing of the pure magical power that she wielded. This was the closest he had ever been to the Princess, this was immediately followed by the realization that Celestia was not just a Princess but a goddess. She was a cosmic being of unimaginable power that could move a celestial body thousands of kilometres away with a mere thought, and then Flash thought of Twilight whom was also a goddess of near if not matching power to the one next to him right now. Suddenly Flash felt like he and his fears were very very small, it was almost comforting.

"Twilight believes you to be a good choice for knighthood," Celestia said, getting right to the point.

"Ah, y-yes ma'am, she told me," Flash stuttered.

"And what do you think?"

"Ma'am?"

"Do you think Twilight is right?"

"Well I.. uh..." Flash thought about it for a second, was he worthy of knighthood? He had dreamt about it, sure, but he had never stopped to question if he was truly worthy of such an honour, could he live up to such a legacy? Him who had been lying through his teeth about who he was for years now, to his officers, to his friends, and to Twilight. "I... don't know ma'am."

"A fair answer. I for one, agree with her," Celestia said and Flash's heart jumped. "You have gone above and beyond your orders and protected our newest Princess, you've certainly impressed Twilight and I am not in the right to override her, thus I believe we should go forward with it."

"I... t-thank you ma'am, it's a great honour-"

"No, it's not," Celestia said, she stopped and looked up at a nearby stain glass window that depicted Twilight and her friends defeating Discord. "This is not an honour, nor a gift. It's a responsibly, a burden, with this knighthood you will have the weight of a nation upon your back. You will have their fears, their anxieties, it shall be yours as much as it is mine. You will be an instrument of myself, my sister, and Twilight and you will be our weapon, I want to make this entirely clear Flash Sentry. I shall make you a Knight of the Three, but this is not a gift, it is a curse... and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me."

Flash was taken aback, he hadn't expected that. Nor had he ever looked at knighthood in such a way, but still, she had confirmed it. He was going to be knighted. Flash felt his chest swelling with pride and excitement, it took him a moment to get his thoughts back together and respond.

"I... think I can do that ma'am, forgive you I mean," Flash said.

"Thank you," Celestia said. "Now, let's talk about you and Twilight, hm?"

Oh shitfuck.

"She seems quite taken with you, and is happy," Celestia said, she still wasn't looking at him. "So I won't step in nor interfere, however I want you to consider something. Twilight is immortal whether she chooses to accept it or not. She will live on far beyond this era into the unseen paths of the future, far beyond her friends, and far beyond you."

"In time, she shall come to terms with this, but there will be a time when time catches up. When your strength begins to wane and all that once was will fade, and she will be alone. This is the curse of the Alicorn and is one we must all come to terms with. Cadence has chosen to be happy now and face the grief later. She realizes she will far outlive Shining Armour and has accepted this, her love far transcends the boundaries of time. But I wonder if Twilight can do the same... just something to consider."

"I... will, ma'am," Flash said, he bowed and turned to go. He made it halfway across the hall before Celestia called out to him.

"Just one more thing," she said. "When you become a knight you leave your past behind, you become a new person so to speak. Your old life doesn't matter anymore, just something I thought you should know."

Celestia's smile was way too knowing for Flash's comfort zone, so he bowed again and hurried out of the hall. His mind was already going rapid fire with all that Celestia had told him and for a moment he didn't even pay attention to where he was going as the prospect of what was happening was just too unreal. Flash had trouble even comprehending it, for the longest time all he felt was an overwhelming sense of joy, pride, thanks, and privilege.

But with that sense of graciousness came a sense of guilt and his high mood came crashing down, he didn't deserve this, any of this. He was a thief, liar, a deceiver, a poor no-name homeless stallion that had no place amongst these heroes and goddesses. With this thought Flash's high mood came crashing down, he internalized it though, no, that was the past. As Celestia said, after he was knighted he would be a whole new person.

Flash's thoughts were interrupted by a familiar softness at his side, he looked over and saw Twilight cuddling up to him, her wing draping over his back like a blanket. A happy smile was on her face as she stared up cutely at Flash with half-lidded eyes.

"Sooo, how'd it go?" Twilight asked. "You were certainly distracted if I was able to sneak up on you."

"Yeah, uh, Celestia agreed to knight me," Flash said. "....All thanks to you."

"Nah, you deserve it and everyone thinks so," Twilight said, nuzzling him.

"I guess so," Flash said, nuzzling her back and taking comfort from it. "It's just a lot to take in at once, you know?"

"I know," Twilight said. "Why don't we go recite the new oath? There's a whole new stanza but did you know the others each have an attached meaning and stories to explain them..."

Flash found himself smiling as he followed Twilight, listening in close as she ranted on about the history of the oath.

~~*~~

The stallion was young, a punk, clothed in a dirty jumper and brown coat. He wailed in pain as he was thrown violently to the ground, his head smacked against the stone and scrapped his joints raw. He didn't have a moment to move before a hoof came smashing down on his rear leg, there was a sickening snap! and the stallion screamed again until his mouth was clapped shut in a golden magical glow.

"Now," said White, he was dressed in a clean white suit, yellow tie, and a white cloak that hid his face in a deep white hood. "What do you say?"

"I-I'm s-sorry sir! I'll have the money to you right away sir!" The stallion on the ground said.

"Mm, Iron Hoof?" White asked.

Iron Hoof grunted, he was the one who was currently grinding his hoof into the poor stallions back leg. Iron was strong and as big as a bull, he wore a simple boiled leather vest and some greaves. A short heavy iron sword was at his side, White didn't feel like making it easy for the shit on the ground though.

"I don't believe this weasel, you hear that Mr. Sky? I think you're a liar," White said and without warning he kicked High Sky in the stomach hard, yelling angrily with each blow. "AND I DON'T. LIKE. LIARS!"

High Sky screamed silently against White's magical gag. Mercifully the stallion in White relented and spoke calmly yet again.

"You promised me a new source of prime, good quality salt, just give you some funds to start, and I believed you, I trusted you and what do you do with that trust? You throw it away and use my money to buy cheap-ass salt and get yourself higher then Cloudsdale, I am very disappointed in you Mr. Sky, what do you have to say for yourself?" White released his magical grip on High Sky's jaw.

"I'm sorry! Please! I'll work for you! Whatever you want! Cook for you I don't care! Please Mr. Golde-"

"Shhhhh..." White said, shutting High Sky's mouth again. "You know how I feel about names my friend, now I'm afraid I can't allow this level of disrespect to pass, so how about we-"

"Ah-hem," a new voice said, White looked over and saw a stallion dressed in brown leather and a cloak. The Thief seemed to be waiting.

"Oh, it's you, just a moment," White said before looking back at High Sky. "Your lucky day kid, I've got more important business to attend to, now be a good boy and make your way to Trottingham. Speak to White Powder in a place called The Broken Hoof, he'll get you into one of his kitchens, now scram."

"Oh, thank you Mr. Gol- I mean sir! I won't let you down! Thank you! Thank you!" High Sky said and Iron Hoof released his back leg, High Sky shakily got to his hooves, thanked White again, and limped as fast as he could away from the situation.

"Now what do you want? You fulfill the contract?" White asked, looking back at the Thief.

"Not exactly, I was wondering if we could... choose a different mark?" The Thief asked.

"A different... a different mark?" White asked incredulously and then laughed. "You're joking, you've gotta be, kid, I can't just give you a different mark, that defeats the purpose, no, you need to show me you can do a job and do it well.... you're not thinking of backing out on me now, are you?"

"N-no... sir," the Thief said.

"Good, you made me a promise kid and I don't like liars," White said. "Now go on, times a wasting and I am not a patient stallion, you have until noon tomorrow to deliver me that necklace."

~~*~~

Flash took a deep breath, his chest pushed against the steel chestplate he had been given. In fact his entire body was covered in new polished steel armour, it was all ingrained with swirling designs of suns, moons, and stars. His vision was slightly obscured by the plumed helm he wore, over his back was a cape of deep purple and by his side rested a ornate longsword. Thus was the equipment of a knight, a true warrior, and if Flash was being honest with himself he preferred his old guards armour and his old Snowhawk cape, he shook the feeling away though, after today that life would be gone.

This was it. This was the day. The amalgamation of all of Flash's fears, his dreams, finally against all odds he was here. Yet he still couldn't believe it, wrap his head around it. Why? How? It just didn't seem possible and Flash couldn't help but wonder if something out there made this happen, pulled the strings of fate until he came to stand here just outside the throne room.

Stealing his courage once more, Flash took a breath and nodded to the guards, they pushed the doors open and revealed a huge compacted crowd. Nobles, lords, and foreign dignitaries had gathered and lined either side of a long aisle that led to Twilight, Celestia, and Luna. Holding his head high Flash marched down the few steps and towards the Princesses. He let his eyes explore on their own and to his surprise he noticed several familiar faces, Lady Rose Petal smiled sweetly at him with Arctic Wind standing close by. He also spotted Lord Forest Green giving him the evilest most angry murder-gaze he had ever received, he forced himself to ignore him as he came to stop before the Three Princesses.

Once he halted, Flash pulled his helmet off his head and laid it down at his side. He then drew his longsword free for the Princesses to inspect, the blade reflecting the light of the room with its blue tint. After a moment Flash turned the sword point-down into the floor and knelt with his head turned down respectfully.

"Flash Sentry," Celestia spoke first. "You have demonstrated your skill and dedication to what is true."

"You have proven your loyalty and service to we who are Three," Luna said next.

"And you have shown your worthiness of our blessing," Twilight said, unable to keep the smile off her face.

"Do you accept this blessing? Do you accept this responsibility? Will you swear yourself over to us? In the sight of gods and mortals?" Celestia asked.

"I will," Flash said, trying to keep the shaking out of his voice.

"Then swear it," the Three said in unison while sparking their horns to life. Suddenly Flash felt that power again, that huge sparking force all around only it was thrice the potency, he felt the heat of the sun, the coolness of night, and the cozy warmth inside that marked friendship and without much thought the words that he had practiced earlier came free.

"I, Flash Sentry, hereby do swear to faithfully and loyally serve the Princesses Three,
and to protect the rights and freedoms of the Equestrian people.
From this moment forth.
I shall be the sword against tyranny.
I shall be the herald of the sun.
I shall be the soldier of the night.
I shall be a friend to the innocent.
By the gods whom watch.
By the Three who see.
I do swear."

"Then rise as our instrument, rise as a Knight of Three," Celestia said, Flash obeyed and rose from his knelt position, he kept his head bowed and Luna leaned forward and planted a kiss atop his head, she was followed by Celestia, and then by Twilight who let her kiss linger just a tad longer then necessary.

"You have our blessing, harken to it," Luna told him.

"All hail Sir Flash Sentry! Knight of the Three!" Celestia declared.

Flash turned to face the crowd, raising his sword high as the hall rumbled with applause. Some chanted his name and Flash couldn't help but revel in it. The mood of the room was infectious, Flash couldn't help smiling as the full realization of what he was and what had happened hit him. He finally did it, he was a knight, it was a new day, a new life.

Flash sheathed his sword, grabbed his helmet, and the crowd swarmed around to congratulate him. For a moment he was overwhelmed by the amount of people around him but Flash felt a familiar hoof grab him and begin to pull him through the crowd. It was only once he came free of the crowd that he saw that it was Twilight guiding him, she didn't let up even after they turned a corner away from the great hall. The sun was beginning to set casting a brilliant orange light into the long hallway, by the time they made it to Twilight's room it was dark. Twilight pushed Flash into the room while magically closing the door and unclasping Flash's armour, her lips graced his and the two of them found themselves falling into the bed.

Flash woke up to Twilight's warmth next to him, her face buried in his chest. He smiled briefly but it quickly vanished. Something had woken him up. Trying not to move, Flash looked around the darkened room. Nothing seemed out of place until his eyes set upon the open balcony door, the cool breeze tinkled his fur and the night sky was clearly visible. That must have been what woke Flash up.

Gently as he could Flash slipped out of Twilight's grasp, she squirmed a bit in search of him and Flash felt really guilty for leaving even briefly. He planted a kiss on her temple and moved over to the balcony door, he made to close it but... what was that. Some sort of noise, a rustle of feathers, some sort of bird? Curiously Flash stepped out into the cold and took a deep breath, a smile came to his lips. He should head back inside, he didn't want to catch a cold.

Flash made to go back inside but without warning the balcony door slammed shut, Flash whipped his head to the side where he had seen movement. Sitting there in the rail was a stallion, covered in dark leather armour and shrouded in a brown cloak with a deep hood that hid his face. It was the Thief, the same one that had been on the train not two days ago, Flash reacted immediately, moving towards the door again and opening his mouth to call out but the Thief interrupted him.

"Wait!" He hissed. "It's me, Flash, it's me."

"What are you talking about? What do you want? Who are you?" Flash demanded, keeping his voice low for now. The Thief seemed to hesitate but then reached up and pulled his hood free of his face.

It was Swift.

What? No. It can't be him, no, no, no, no! I can't be! No! Flash was frozen, a storm raged in his head, sorrow, regret, and anger, oh yes a disgusting deep-seated anger boiled up in Flash's chest. Why? Why now? Just when he had finally moved beyond this, beyond his old life, here Swift was, ruining it. As quickly as the feeling came Flash felt ashamed about it, the anger was replaced by guilt, and... happiness, Swift... He was alive, right here, in front of him.

"S-Swift?" Flash asked, his heart was thumping. "What? How?"

"I know, I know, I just... It's so good to see you, Flash," Swift said, his trademark impish grin graced his features. Flash's breath caught in his throat, everything about his face was the same, same clever eyes, same grin, some more marks and a rough beard but other than that he looked exactly the same.

"I wanted to find you, I really did," Swift continued. "I remember that night like yesterday, I got away, just barely and I was hurt bad. That's when... a friend found me, and nursed me back to health, so I went looking for you, everywhere, but I couldn't find you."

"But, that was you, on the train before... why?" Flash asked.

"Same reason I'm here. That friend who helped me? He's leader of the Thieves Guild," Swift said, a hint of excitement in his voice. "Flash he's offered me a place, better jobs, great money, it'll be just like the good old days, you and me shilling some lordling taffer out of his gold, eh?"

"Swift that's..." Flash paused. "You haven't answered me, why're you here?"

"The guildmaster set me a job to prove my skill, your lady friend has a necklace someone wants terribly. I get that and I'm in," Swift explained. "I'm sure he can make a space for you too, Flash, we can be a family again."

"I.. I don't know," Flash said, taking a step back. "No... No! Swift, I can't go back to this, we can't go back to this, I'm a knight now and Twilight... I care for her."

"Stop kidding yourself Flash," Swift said. "This is Emerald all over again, can't you see we can't trust these noble types? They'd step all over you if they had the chance. What's the story this time huh? Minor house in the south? Inheritance? You father was a knight? What lie did you weave huh?"

"That doesn't matter now..."

"Of course it matters you fucking taffer! How many times are you going to have your heart broken before you realize people like her don't like you for who you are, only what they want you to be!"

"No, Twilight's different," Flash said firmly. "Swift... just walk away from this, forget about the necklace and the Thieves Guild, we can still see each other and maybe I'll even be able to find you an honest job, but you need to turn away from this."

"I'm not going to wash dishes or peddle on my hooves for anybody, I take what I can and I give nothing back," Swift said. "This place in the Guild is my chance at a better life. I have no choice here Flash, even if I wanted it. The Guildmaster would skin me alive if he found out I walked out on him, there's no turning back."

"I can't let you Swift, I can't just stand by while you break the law right in front of me," Flash said.

"Flash... don't do this... meet me in the gardens in an hour, bring the necklace. If you don't then I'll have to take it... and you won't be able to stop me," Swift said, spreading his wings. "...I love you." And then he flew off.

Flash was left frozen where he stood, Swift, his brother, he was alive. It didn't seem possible, Flash had long lost hope of him being alive, let alone finding him, but there he had stood. This was too much, Flash felt like he was drowning, what was he going to do? He remembered what Swift had said, about the old days, he remembered how happy they had been, the excitement of theft and the joy of success.

No, no! He was a knight now, he couldn't go back to that, it would break everything his oath meant and stood for. No, as much as it pained him he couldn't let Swift just walk free. He was confused, dangerous even, and as a Knight of Three it was his duty to arrest him. With a heavy heart Flash stepped back inside, his eyes alighting on a slumbering Twilight, she needn't know about this. Planting a gentle kiss on her temple Flash then moved around the bed, he made to leave but paused for a moment, considering, and then he grabbed his longsword and headed out.

~~*~~

The Canterlot Gardens were cool and quite this time of night, the grass covered in a thin layer of snow that was slowly growing with a light sprinkle that fell from the sky. Flash's hoofbeats crunched softly and he entered the gardens proper, looking around as he did so, no one was there, neither was Swift. Where was he?

There was a soft flap and suddenly Swift landed lightly on the ground, a grin could be seen in the bright moonlight from under his hood. He began walking towards Flash.

"Glad you came lil'bro," Swift said happily. "I knew you'd do the right thing, now where's the-"

Swift stopped as his eyes spotted the longsword at Flash's side, his grin disappearing in an instant. His eyes met Flash's and reflected a hurt and betrayed look.

"What's that for?" He asked, his voice shaking slightly.

"I'm sorry, Swift," Flash said, trying to keep the emotion out of his voice. "But I can't stand by, you're a criminal and you have to face justice, I'm sorry, so sorry, but you're under arrest."

"No! I'm not being tossed in some cell like a slave!" Swift yelled, fast as lighting a dagger appeared and he blindly rushed Flash who blocked the strike with his own blade, he pushed Swift back who slide across the slick ground.

"Think about what your doing!" Flash said, lowering the point of his sword. "Don't throw your life away!"

"You're the one throwing your life away!" Swift retorted and rushed again, this time with a flurry of rapid jabs and slashes. Flash blocked every one but just barely, the night ringed with the clash of steel as the two brothers fought.

"I looked for you!" Swift yelled, as they locked blades. His eyes had begun to spill tears onto his cheeks. "Everywhere! Half killed myself doing it! And this is the thanks I get!"

"I'm trying to help you!" Flash said, feeling his own eyes moisturize as Swift disengaged his blade. "I can put in a word for you, your sentence won't be long, but you have to stand down!"

"No! I'm not tossing who I am away! Not like you!"

The two of them exchanged more strikes, the blows were sloppy but powerful from emotion. Flash could barely bring himself to swing his sword, this was wrong, this was so wrong. Why couldn't he see what he was doing? Why couldn't he see what he was giving up?

In his internal turmoil Flash lost his concentration, Swift was able to breech his defence and carve his blade across Flash's left cheek, opening up the flesh and spilling blood everywhere. Flash screamed in pain and stumbled backwards as Swift froze up, his eyes widening in horror at what he had done.

"Flash!" He exclaimed. "Oh shit, oh shit, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to..."

Flash wasn't listening, the pain ignited something in his chest. Fury, how dare Swift attack him like this! He was a knight! Clearly Swift was dedicated to being a criminal through and through, and if that was how he was going to act, then Flash would just have to treat him like a criminal. Without warning Flash threw a wild slash at Swift who ducked under it. Swift stabbed upwards and struck home as his dagger plunged deep into Flash's chest, right between the ribs.

Both brothers eyes met as the horror struck them, Flash spluttered and gurgled as blood filled his lungs. Swift was left stunned and his grip on the dagger relaxed. Flash stumbled and fell on his side, his blood staining the snow around him.

"No... no, no, no, no, no, no! Flash! Flash!" Swift yelled desperately. He knelt down and shook Flash violently, no response. "Flash! Hang in there! Flash please! Please! don't die! Please! Flash!"

Swift put his ear to where Flash's heart should have been, hot blood warmed his flesh and made him want to puke but he listed carefully for the drum of life. There was none.

"Flash!"

~~*~~

Twilight yawned and sat up, ugh it was too early. She moved to wake up Flash but found he wasn't there, must have gotten up earlier. Twilight shivered slightly, why was it so cold? She looked around the quickly brightening room, her eyes alighting on the open balcony door. With a spark of magic she closed it before stepping out of bed, she stretched while yawning again. Looking around Twilight searched for her regalia, she found it all thrown sloppily on the floor and she smiled at that but then she felt confused as her necklace was missing, the one her mother had given to her. Odd, but most likely it was misplaced when she tossed all of her jewellery to the floor.

Twilight frowned a bit, where was it? Mm, not under the bed, not next to the cabinet, strange. Oh well, it would turn up eventually, but where was Flash? Perhaps he had gone down to get breakfast before Twilight woke up. Smiling to herself Twilight set to grooming and preening herself for the day, it took about an hour before she left her room, her coat shiny and brushed, and her wings smooth. The hallway was empty of everyone, it was quiet, oddly so, but the day outside was bright and fresh snow sparkled on the ground and rooftops of Canterlot.

Twilight didn't run into anybody until she made it to the main foyer which was bustling with activity, servants and guards alike move rapidly to and fro. All seemed to have a pined or worried look on their face which turned worse when they caught sight of Twilight although she didn't know why. Pushing through the crowd she managed to find Shining Armour in the crowd, he was fully armoured besides his helmet, behind him was a cart of some description that had several guards and what looked like healers around it.

"Shining?" Twilight called, her brother turned a pained look to her.

"Twi," he said, rushing forward and wrapping Twilight into a hug. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."

"Sorry?" Twilight repeated confusedly, staring at the cart, the healers and guards shaking their heads sadly. "What do you mean? What's going on?"

"Twi..." Shining said shakily, holding his sister at length. "Flash..."

"Flash? What about him? Where is he?" Twilight asked, Shining couldn't speak, only clenched his jaw tight as the realization slowly dawned upon his sister.

"Shining where is he?"

"Where's Flash?"

"Where... where... Shining?"

"Where's Flash!?"

"Where is he?!"

~~*~~

Swift walked up to the entrance of the inn, a faded wooden sign identified the dirty looking hole as The Staggering Stallion. The outside spelled disrepair for the entire building, cracked windows, dirty walls, and a sag to the whole building. When he pulled open the door, he was hit by a blast of heat coupled with the smell of cheap booze and smelly bodies. Inside was packed to the brim with early morning drinkers and tenants, the innkeeper spotted Swift immediately and motioned to the far corner of the room.

There sat White, who stood clearly out amongst these ruffians with his fine cloths and white cloak. Swift approached him and lowered his own hood, dark tracks could be seen running down his cheeks and his eyes were still red. Clearly, Swift had been crying.

"You look terrible," White stated as Swift sat down. "What happened?"

"Nothing," Swift said bitterly, keeping all emotion out of his voice. "I got your bucking necklace." Swift reached into his saddle bag and produced Twilight's necklace, the golden chain and ruby glimmered in the fire light.

"Impressive," White said, reaching for the necklace. "And from a Princess too." Swift retreated his hoof quickly. Emotionally compromised as he was, Swift wasn't an idiot.

"We had a deal," Swift said and White smiled.

"That we did," White said, he reached into his cloak and produced a large sack that jingled with the sweet sound of coin. "Here we are." The two of them exchanged treasures, White stuck the necklace into his cloak. He then smiled at Swift.

"I think it's time we meet properly," White said, he reached up and lowering his hood, revealing the face underneath. He had golden white fur and a golden brown mane that was slicked back from his face, his eyes were two blazing suns filled with cleverness and guile.

"Name's Golden Shine," he said. "And I think we can do great business together."

"Welcome to the Thieves Guild."