Through the dust that flared up had the three hunters moved. They hadn’t the faintest idea what to expect from the other side. All they knew was that they would soon discover it. One thing was a certainty though, somepody had to clean that place. Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo all made their way through the doorway. The three would be in the other room mere moments later.
The dust began to lower and their vision returned to them. What they caught in their eyes was everything but the sight that they had hoped for. A gulp came from the three of them. The had entered a throne room of sorts. The most striking factor was that it was filled with paintings of all sorts of ponies, presumably vamponies that had lived through the ages. What they didn’t saw though, was the one painting that hung closest to them. The one where Sweetie Belle was depicted on. Perhaps it was for the better that they didn’t saw it.
And how could they have missed it? There were four sets of eyes that glanced at them. At first they noticed a stallion clad in black with bright silver hooves and burn marks all around them. It wasn’t the strangest sight to see and Apple Bloom strung her bow. The silver arrowhead was ready to be pieced through the throat.
“Wait!” Scootaloo shouted all of the sudden.
Apple Bloom hadn’t the faintest reason why she should decide to not pierce his neck. The earth pony shot a glare to the pegasus, who pointed to the other beings present. Slow but sure would Apple Bloom lower her bow, terrified of the sight she was beholding. “Oh no...” Those were the only words that she could have said.
The three of them had gone out of the frying pan and straight in the fires. Tartarus had opened up and their worst demons had been made clear for them. Their toughest battle yet, laid ahead of them.
In one corner stood a mare that they all knew and remembered. Maybe they remembered her a bit too well for their liking. A blue coated unicorn mare, who tried her best to remain to the shadows. “Ya can’t be..! Trixie, Lulamoon?!” Apple Bloom managed to speak. The confusion had hit her hard. Nopony knew what had happened to the mare, but if this was the place where she had ended up, life hadn’t been that kind to her. “Ah, Ah can’t believe it!”
“If you thought that was bad...” Scootaloo mumbled and nudged the earth pony’s side. Apple Bloom reacted and followed the hoof that pointed to the stairs of the throne. There was yet another shock that came to them. One that would hit just that bit closer to home.
On the stairs it laid like a lion waiting for its meal, the lycan with the yellow coat and the pink mane. It reminded all three of them to somepony else that they knew far too well. Somepony whom they had suspected to be of curious nature for a long time. But would they have believed the fact that it was in fact the pony they thought to be, that laid there? None of them dared to believe it, but the scent that the wolf carried was undoubtedly hers.
The earth pony wasn’t in the mood for jokes and strung her bow again. This time it was aimed at the wolf who didn’t even move a muscle. “Ah ain’t in for jokes tonight! Ya better not be who Ah think yar are!” Apple Bloom commented to the wolf. One who just remained lying there, without a care in the world.
The hungry set of eyes had a good look to the three of them. Their flesh was tender and young, perfect for a good snack. Something in the mind of the wolf prevented her from just lashing out to them. After all, those hunters were once ponies she had considered friends of her, foals of her own to some degree. Confliction rushed through the mind and the claws scratched over the stone stairs, leaving their marks while they retracted. Doubt had filled the beast, a first for the three hunters.
“This isn’t a joke, Apple Bloom. This is far from a joke,” commented Sweetie who had her eyes firm on the throne. A throne that was clad in shadows and darkness. Only two crimson red rims could be seen, the vampony queen was home and those ponies, were her court. “We’ve arrived right in the lion’s den. And they are hungry.”
The queen atop the throne had kept her mouth shut firm and wouldn’t reveal too much about herself if it wasn’t going to be necessary. Although the reveal had to come at one point or another. Though maybe, just maybe, the chance existed there that they could at least talk a bit with one another. Even though Sweetie had slaughtered vamponies and lycans alike in cold blood before, but now she was facing somepony higher up the hierarchy. She had to take an advantage out of that. She stepped closer to the throne. It left Apple Bloom and Scootaloo gawking at her actions.
Whatever would come next, Scootaloo had laid a hoof on the hilt of her sword. The arrow still remained firm in the bow of Apple Bloom, ready to be fired at the first being acting out of line. They were ready to emerge in the fight if it would come that way. What struck them the most was the fact that none of the creatures had already decided to attack them. It showed to them that the queen was ready to at least negotiate with them. Or listen to the words of plea that they had to spill before the floor would be stained with their blood.
A macabre thought indeed, but it was the possible truth on the matter. Everything could be turned upside down in just one second. All of them kept their eyes on Sweetie Belle, who rose her head to the shadow covered queen. The hateful glance in her eyes spoke more than enough words, but the queen was unmoved by them.
“So, you’re the vampony queen that lived in the woods of Everfree for so long. I hope that you have been able to enjoy your reign, because it has come to an end, tonight. From this night onward, Equestria will be safe from your subjects. And how we’re going to achieve it, is up to you. Either we slaughter everypony present here, or we negotiate our way out of this. The choice is yours. That’s the choice that I’m giving you here, don’t waste it.”
The unicorn turned away from the queen and walked back to the other two hunters. That was the biggest mistake that she could have made in that moment. Because it was in that moment that the queen would speak her words, revealing the truth. “Careful with your words, Sweetie Belle.”
Sweetie stood dead in her tracks and an eye twitched just a little bit. “What, did you call me?” She turned immediately back to face the queen. The eyes had a confused gaze in her eyes next to the hatred for the beings present. “I dare you, repeat it.”
“It’s your name, isn’t it?” the queen returned. “Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, the three Cutie Mark Crusaders. Since when did you three decide to hunt the armies of the undead? Since when, did you heed the call that only the bat ponies should have heeded?”
The games were over. None of the hunters were in the mood to duke it out with the vampony queen and they demanded answers. The glances in their eyes spoke more than enough words. The queen would heed the looks alone. She stood up from her throne and would leave the shadows. Every step taken, revealing more of the terrible truth that had been lying underneath it.
First did the ivory coat come and then the rest came. The purple, curly mane and the refined facial features of the mare gave it already away. It was somepony whom they had thought to have lost a long time ago. Neither of the hunters could believe whom stood there.
“Rarity?!” was the only name that the three of them could speak.
Sweetie Belle didn’t knew what she saw happening in front of her eyes. She wanted to say that it was a fake, that it was somepony else that stood there. She wanted to scream that it was a illusion or a changeling taken her looks. Yet the feelings were at their strongest now that the queen had revealed herself. The sheer fact that Rarity stood there was more than enough to let Sweetie buckle through her legs. She began to shake, tears formed beneath her eyes. She didn’t wanted to believe it.
The stern look that Rarity had in her eyes was enough to invoke fear in the other hunters. Just the way she stood there, with that purple night gown around her middle. Just one glare and they had all been shut down. That was the power that Rarity had within her. But at the same time did it rose a couple thousand questions at the same time. A lot of them, and most would be asked by Sweetie.
Nausea filled the throat of the young mare. She wanted to vomit and prayed to everything that she believed in that it was just one sick lie. But fate was never that easily to be toyed with. This situation wasn’t one that had much difference either. Rarity stood there, like a statue, staring down to them. “Why?!” was the one question that Sweetie managed to get out. “Why did you abandon me, us?!”
Rarity may not have showed it, but she too was surprised. Surprised on the fact that Sweetie and her friends stood there, before her, to murder her like some sort of beast. How the roles had changed from their younger days, it was almost worth smiling about. Yet the non-beating heart of the vampony was almost shattered in three different places when she saw her own sister coming in. She could kill anypony in an instant and not sleep any worse. But Sweetie Belle? She was a special case to the matter. Everything had changed that night, everything would change for that day as well. The gears were grinding in her head, but answers had to be given.
“You ask me, why?” Rarity returned with a stoic voice. Her facial features never changed while her body went sideways on the stairs. “There are many reasons as to why I would have just abandoned you and the family. But first things should be done first.” Her glance shifted over to the wolf and they both gained a smirk on their faces. “Would you be a dear and block off the one exit that they have. I want them to listen carefully to what comes next, and I don’t want them to run away.”
Apple Bloom aimed her arrow to the wolf while Scootaloo drew her sword to it. The wolf on the other end just rose up calm, like any other moment. She would have trudged her way to the doorway with a wide arch around the hunters. The hungry eyes were never taken off of them though. Fluttershy was still hungry for flesh and those three would have been perfect for her next meal. Even though they had been friends, the beast that was in control couldn’t care less.
“So you’re going to lock us in? With no way of escape, heh, you never changed, dealing in absolutes,” commented Sweetie Belle. She found a new strength and rose back on her legs. The feelings coursing through her were set aside. Her hunter-mode was on and she wanted to know the truth behind her own sister. There was no reason for Rarity to have acted in the way that she did. The younger unicorn was outnumbered of course, but it was still Rarity whom she spoke to.
The wolf had blocked off the one exit that they had and the other two hunters kept a keen eye on her. But at the same time, they also had to keep an eye out for Soulful Gust. The black stallion had moved to the right side of the group, blocking off any exit that they could have from there. Though he remained close to Rarity’s side for some reason. The dead look in his eyes never revealed anything about his own plans.
“In all honesty, Sweetie? I’m not even sure what I’m going to do with you lot. It does seem like something I can use to my benefit. On the other end, letting you go risks me the chance of being found by another group. And, I’m sure you don’t want that to happen to your dear old sister, do you?” Rarity was just taunting the hunter at this point. She wanted to see just how far she could press Sweetie’s buttons before she would have gone all out and all crazy. A thing that was probably a lot easier said than done.
The young unicorn released a huff in response. She wasn’t the mood to play along the games that her sister would play with her. She had grown older and way past those pesky inconveniences. “My sister died, when the Carousel Boutique burned to a crisp. You’re nothing more but an echo of the mare she once was! So why do you torment me with your appearance here?! Why shouldn’t I just slaughter you?!”
Now were they getting somewhere. Rarity had Sweetie almost exactly in the spot where she wanted to have her. The time would be there to finally make the revelations and, probably have it all end up in a sisterly brawl once more. Only the states would then be literal life and death.
“I would call this meeting a twisted fate of misfortune, Sweetie,” returned Rarity while she took a step further down. Her eyes were still firmly locked on those of Sweetie while the other two hunters kept an eye on the other three beings present. The wolf, the vampony and the thrall, all three posing threats in their own rights.
“A twisted fate of misfortune?! We thought that you were dead! We held a closed casket funeral for you! And yet, here you are. You’re drinking the blood of the innocents to keep yourself alive. Not even once was there something that indicated that you were still alive!” Sweetie returned to her with a raised voice. The cracks had disappeared altogether. The young mare stomped her hoof on the floor and charged her horn. She was having enough of the games that were played.
The rage that went through Sweetie was noticed by the other two. Apple Bloom began to whisper in the unicorn's ears. “Are ya sure now’s the right time? To throw a temper tantrum to yar own sister, who ya just figured out is still alive?”
“Apple Bloom, shut up or I will make you do it myself, okay? This is none of your business and the last thing that I need, is somepony telling me that I need to do,” the young unicorn hissed through her teeth. For just a moment would the stare between the sisters be broken. Sweetie wouldn’t have anything from Apple Bloom’s words.
The earth pony could understand the direction that the unicorn came from, but the way in which she brought it was one that she didn’t have to do. A huff came from her while she shrugged, tensing the bow again.
Everypony felt the tension that was rising and none of them were comfortable with it. Trixie and Gust both moved more to Rarity’s side, to join the queen if she required aid of any kind. The two had so their own reasons as to why they came closer to the queen though. Reasons that may have been obvious for some, impossible to figure out for others.
Rarity grinned like the devil that she was and uncurled the wings that were her night gown. All three of the hunters were baffled at the sight. The moan that left the vampony when they were fully spread was lustful, teasing and inviting. On the other end, it gave so much clarity to events that had happened so long ago.
“Yar kidding me...” Apple Bloom spoke, remembering the events that had happened at the boutique.
“You, you were right, all...all along,” the pegasus managed to say after a gulp. How could it have been that they were so blind? How it could have been that they didn’t dared to believe how Sweetie had noticed what they didn’t? Was it the fact that they wanted to believe that everything was right and fine? It was the most logical answer that they could give for it.
Sweetie Belle let the matter come to rest though. She wouldn’t be telling her friends that she was right and they were wrong. No, now was the time to be a team, more than ever before. In a way, they were facing their greatest foe as of yet. Fate truly was a harsh mistress to keep happy. “That cursed ghost was right after all, you did kill her!”
“Killed whom? I need names, Sweetie. Details, plot, beginning, middle, end. Otherwise the story isn’t going to make much sense,” countered Rarity while she gave a flap with her wings.
The young unicorn glanced with a dead-stare to Rarity. How much she despised her sister in the moment just so much, that she could just cast a massive, destructive magical beam to her. “You slaughtered Fleur Dis Lee in cold blood, remember that?”
Oh how the memories returned back to Rarity. The final screams of the unicorn before she would finally die. How she pulled her heart out of her chest and watched her still beating heart with her own eyes. “I remember her far too well. She got what she deserved though. I’ll spare you the details.” Rarity’s wings went flat against her body and she regained her posh posture and tapped her hoof against the stone stairs. “Usually I would just slaughter ponies like you. It’s you lot that I love to enjoy slaughtering the most and drink from. But, the fact that you three managed to even get in here raises all sorts of questions. Which makes me beg the question: why are you here? Why are you three truly here?”
The questions that she asked weren’t as easily answered as they would have liked. It was easy to lie to Rarity, but she would see through it straight away. The sheer fact that she asked those questions made all doubts disappear. It was in fact the real and true, albeit a lot darker, Rarity that stood there. The one Rarity whom they came to know and love over the courses of their lives.
How the mighty had fallen...and they would fall even further.