The Quiet Place
[Disclaimer: I own nothing of the MLP franchise and all rights are reserved by Hasbro and the respective parties involved.]
Chapter 47: Painting Dawn
Luna shivered in the rain, even beneath her cloak, as she continued to trail the others. Chrysalis stayed close and kept an eye on her while the princess gazed at the flooded ground, periodically being ushered along by the changeling queen. Her thoughts seemed to drift away from the tasks at hand more than ever as she pondered her interaction with Nightmare Moon over and over again.
She’s right. I should have gone after her, but how has she been unaware all this time? What has she been up to? She sighed to herself. Even now I still feel I cannot trust her, and without Twilight as her warden my apprehension of her has only grown since. A pang of guilt hit her and she raised her eyes ahead as they neared the boutique. Perhaps it is I that is at fault. This isn’t what Twilight would have wanted, and my petty feelings should not be getting in the way now. Her eyes drifted to Daring. I must move past this.
Daring quickly scouted the surroundings before motioning the others to enter the boutique. Even inside the thunder boomed and the tapping of the rain could be heard over most everything else. Chrysalis changed into her “Nympha” alias before the fashionista and grey paladin greeted them, sweat running down their faces and matting grimy fur.
“Well, then,” Rarity said as she exhaled, “I’ve done all I can on my end.” She levitated the sword before the rest of the group. “I don’t know what to do from here. Derpy’s sword is ready to be finished, but,” she levitated a second sword before them, “this one needs to have the entire magical process completed. I’m afraid that is well beyond my capabilities.” She removed her goggles to reveal rings the grime had surrounded her eyes perfectly.
Daring took her sword and inspected it. “This will do nicely. It doesn’t have to be like my original, but it has to be strong enough to cut through steel and dragon scales.”
Rarity’s mouth pulled back in uncertainty. “Well, I don’t know about that, but it should work like any other once it’s complete.”
“We will need to move your tools outside into the rain,” said Leo. Meeting her surprise he continued. “In order to finish the swords for celestial knights we’ll need a much greater level of heat than you can produce in your forge here, Rarity. Furthermore, the final stage requires some fairly potent magic. Normally, this would be conducted by high level unicorns in a controlled environment with a set of specific materials, but I’m improvising in what will be terrible and volatile conditions.”
“You do know that we’ll attract any dragons within a mile radius of this place,” she responded.
“Indeed,” said Luna. “That is a risk we must take. We will fight whatever comes, but you will need to continue the process with Leo.”
The chancellor glanced at Luna and shook his head. “Paladin Do will be unavailable towards the end of the final process.”
“And why is that?” asked the princess. Before she could receive an answer Daring darted into the back, returning moments later with several tools.
“We don’t have time to explain,” she said before shoving the materials into Leo’s saddlebags. She motioned for Derpy to follow her. “Let’s go get the anvil.” The younger sister groaned before trotting after, Leo following quickly behind.
“Rarity, I will need a weapon. What do you have that could fit my stature?”
The fashionista sized up the princess with several angled glances before nodding to herself. “The largest weapon in my arsenal is a battle axe.” She turned and headed downstairs.
Luna looked around and found the changeling queen had been staring at a mannequin, too distracted to notice the princess observing her. “What is it, Chrysalis?” she asked softly.
“Oh,” she murmured before meeting Luna’s gaze. “It just reminds me of the hive, of my people. We are… blank templates to be anything.” Her eyes drifted away momentarily. “We can identify one another, but others cannot easily tell us apart. I stand alone in that regard.” She focused back on the princess and offered a bittersweet smile. “Quite literally now that I’ve been exiled.”
Luna stepped closer and observed the mannequin she had been looking at. “It is not so different from ponies,” she said.
“How so? How is it different being born to look like everyone else of your race, but having the power to turn into someone else from another? Our uniqueness is only borrowed from someone else. You ponies are born unique.”
The princess chuckled. “Our identities must be discovered for ourselves. Though our cutie marks may have a significant impact on our livelihood there is still much beyond that in which we must find out about ourselves. I am more than the Princess of the Night, the oft-overlooked princess whom raised and lowered the moon each evening and morning. If that was all I was, then the world from the moment I left to the night I returned would have been no different than as if I had died. My sister had already replaced me as I was and the world moved on without ever mourning my loss.” She levitated a dusty hat and dress from one of the piles in the corner of the room and outfitted the mannequin. “I may never stand beside her in admiration and acknowledgement, but I have rediscovered myself and more in the world since my absence. I owe much of that to Twilight. She saw that I was struggling, that I was no more than a lost foal in a world I no longer understood. Perhaps,” she levitated the hat and rested it upon Chrysalis’s head, earning a bewildered stare, “you need only someone show you that you are more than what others believe you should be.”
The changeling queen blushed and turned away, manually removing the hat and unceremoniously draping it over the mannequins head and face. “It is not so easy for us to be more than we are, let alone unique. We are changelings. When you are meant to be everything else, how do you define yourself?”
Heavy steps could be heard coming from the back room as Daring and Derpy burst through the doorway with the anvil between them. Each were grunting and flapping their wings as they carried the hunk of metal towards the door.
“D-Door,” Daring grunted as she nodded towards it, struggling to keep her side of the anvil off of the floor, her wings flapping to keep steady.
“Hurry!” blurted Derpy.
Luna quickly opened it with her magic and the sisters shambled out into the rain. She prepared to move after them, but Leo returned with more items and Rarity followed after with the aforementioned battle axe.
“This is the only large weapon I made, and it wasn’t intended to be used. I cannot endorse its usage, but I would rather you be armed with something comfortable.” Rarity passed the weapon to Luna and glanced away. “So, this is it. It’s all coming together tonight.”
“This is a weapon more suited to my sister’s tastes.” The princess took the axe, inspecting its double-edged head and sighed. “And I’m afraid so. Are you ready? I know you are not a combat unicorn, so I do not expect you to join us in the push for Canterlot.”
Rarity rubbed the back of her head. “I was never ready for this, and I will not be joining you in Canterlot.” She closed her eyes and sighed. “I’m sure you understand, even if I volunteered for this. We can’t give up hope. Just promise me that you’ll free all of the ponies that Aurelius has extradited to the north.” She met Rarity’s gaze. “After tonight, I’ll have done all that I can to help, and I won’t take risks any longer. I’ve been apart from my sister and friends for much of the time since the fall of Canterlot.”
Daring stumbled into the entryway and rested on the door frame, one foreleg wiping her brow of rain and sweat. “Are you guys coming, or what? I’m not putting that thing back, you know.”
Luna nodded and followed her into the storm with Rarity and Chrysalis on her heels. The downpour had not let up in the slightest and visibility was still obscured with only the flashes of lightning clearing her view momentarily. She found the anvil a distance away from the boutique with Derpy draped over it and panting. Leo had already finished an alchemy circle, detailing the center.
“We are ready, Your Majesty. Once we begin there will be no turning back.” He removed his cloak and revealed his sopping body. “I don’t advise your cloaks. They could catch fire.” Rarity put on her goggles and stepped to the anvil as Derpy drew one of her swords. The others discarded their garments as advised.
Luna stood the axe up beside her and ran a hoof through her mane. “We are ready. Rarity. Leo will guide you in these final processes while the rest of us shall hold off whatever may come. I trust this won’t take too long.”
Leo shook his head. “It will take longer than spellsmithing a blade traditionally, but I’ll do my best. My lady, if you will,” he said, motioning Rarity to the anvil. Derpy’s unfinished repair was laid out with Daring’s copy, and the unicorn took up her smithing hammer.
The clang of steel to steel erupted and reverberated into the air, bouncing off of the walls over the rain. Leo moved about reciting incantations and periodically sprinkling materials over the weapons, and soon they started to glow against the rain.
“We’ve already woken up the neighbors,” Daring called out as she motioned to ponies peering through their windows. “Let’s hope there’s no loyalists here.” She drew her sword and guarded the left of the anvil, Derpy taking the right, Luna taking the front, and Chrysalis watching the rear of them as Nympha.
Minutes passed slowly to the cacophony of the rain, but Leo and Rarity didn’t miss a beat in the hammering and the incants, but a distant roar put the defenders on alert. Lightning flashed and Luna saw three dragons in the distance.
“Damn, we’ve got company already,” shouted Daring. “Someone must’ve spotted us at night.”
Luna scowled. “Expand the perimeter. Not a single dragon can make it past us!” She turned to Chrysalis. “Generate a barrier around them in case they breathe.”
“What about you? I don’t have a lot of strength, and you’ll need all the help you can get.”
The princess took the axe into both hooves. “I shall be fine, even with a makeshift weapon.” Lightning bloomed in the skies and more dragons appeared behind the first set. What the—? We’re going to be overwhelmed like this. She glanced at the ragtag party of warriors and she could see the uncertainty on Chrysalis’s face, and the exhaustion on Derpy’s. However, Daring appeared to be ready to fight. The first dragons reached them and the party divided to take them individually.
Luna leaped into the air, using her smaller form to whisk between its swipes and claws. She spun and bent her body, flowing between its strikes as she built up momentum. Twirling through its defenses, she slammed the axe head into its chest, puncturing the hide and bringing it down. The dragon roared and furiously swiped at her, striking the top of the axe. Luna ducked underneath a claw and roared as she swung wide, catching the first wound and carving its chest open wider from it. As blood poured forth, she struck her deathblow into the neck and watched as it toppled forward into the grass. She turned to see Derpy had already made a similar precision strike against her foe.
Daring’s dragon dropped out of the sky with the sandy pegasus riding it. Her blade protruded from the back of its neck in a single killing attack. She nodded to the others as more dragons neared their perimeter.
“Hey, Leo. How much longer before you need me?” she called over the bellows of thunder.
The chancellor finished an incantation and replied without looking up. “I’ll yell for you when we’re ready. Just hold them off for as long as you can.”
The next wave arrived and the paladins were forced to double up on enemies. Derpy struggled to see in the rain, but she used her nimbleness and the night to her advantage, striking limbs and wings as she maneuvered about.
Luna was one on one again, but this dragon was faster than the last. She switched tactics to striking at their limbs, managing to chop off one of the attacking claws as it passed her. A dragon appeared overhead and unleashed a wide breath of flame over the area.
“Chrysalis!” the princess yelled as the breath flowed over them. A green barrier appeared briefly as the flames receded, and the changeling queen’s transformation had been lost.
“Keep… going,” she said. “I can still block a few more.” Rarity turned and looked over her shoulder, spotting the changeling queen. Startled, she nearly dropped the hammer. “Don’t stop… I’m on your side.” Reluctantly, the pounding of steel continued.
Leo finished another incantation as he laid another material over the blades. Rarity’s hammer sparked the metals and they ignited with a blue flame.
“Leo, what’s happening?” she asked.
The chancellor turned to Daring. “We need your fire now, Paladin Do. Fight off this wave and join us. The rain is slowing us down.”
Daring blocked a strike from a dragon, the sword just barely keeping the talons from reaching her. “Hey, that’s not exactly an option right now.” When another flash of lightning hit, she could see more reinforcements on the way. “This is getting dangerous. I can’t fight so close to you guys, even in a storm.”
“We must finish this.” He turned to Luna and Derpy. “It’s up to you two. Can you handle it?”
Luna roared and cleaved through the dragon’s other arm, striking into its side in a single attack. She quickly spun backwards and used the other edge to strike into its ribs. A choking cough escaped their throat before the dragon crumbled.
“I cannot guarantee your safety, but I will do my best. I do not have my war hammer, and this axe will only be able to handle my attacks for so long.” Her horn started glowing and the head of the axe shined blue with it. “Derpy, I will cover Daring’s side. Keep fighting!”
Daring dropped down to the anvil. “Alright, are you ready? I haven’t done anything this small in a while.”
“I trust you, Paladin Do. This is our only gamble.” Leo started a new incantation with more fervor in his voice, retrieving materials from his satchel. He dropped small cubes over the blades and Rarity quickly pounded them in.
The sandy pegasus pointed her sword at the anvil and flames ran along the blade before burning over the weapons being forged and flowing down the sides. Derpy caught the glow in the corner of her vision and turned to glimpse her sister. In that moment, a claw came down and viciously raked across her body. She dropped to the ground and receded closer to the anvil, clutching the wounds.
“Derpy!” Luna cried as she cut down another dragon. She moved to help the paladin, but a warding hoof stopped her.
“I can still fight! We can do this,” she replied.
The princess nodded, turning to face two more dragons. Damn. We need Daring with us or we’re not going to last much longer. Every flash of lightning seemed to reveal additional enemy forces on the way, and every dragon she brought down felt less like a victory and more like delaying the inevitable. A shriek of frustration escaped her throat as she leaped towards a dragon’s head. The axe blade shined blue and she struck at the skull, smashing it in a burst of blue light, blood spattering her body and dragon immediately dropping to the ground. Landing, she glanced at the weapon, noticing she had broken that side of the head. The second dragon whipped its tail around across the ground, splashing mud, grass, and water at the princess.
The anvil is in range! Luna realized, and she threw herself towards the end of the attack to catch it. “You little whelps think you’re stronger than me? I may be weakened, but you are nothing to me!” With a battle cry, she tightened her grip on the tail and ripped the dragon from the ground before slamming him overhead and flat onto its stomach. She took the axe and ran up its stunned body before reaching the middle of the spine and hacking at it repeatedly. By the third hit she had reached the bone, finally severing it and killing him.
The light from the anvil had grown since Daring took over, but Rarity had been forced away and the sandy pegasus was now pounding the blades while simultaneously emitting fire into them. Plumes of smoke and steam rushed into the air, obscuring any overhead attackers.
“Your Majesty, it is nearly finished! Please, hold out for a little while longer!” called the chancellor as he backed away and resumed his incants.
Luna glanced at the axe, only a few jagged pieces remaining of the edge. I was hoping to conserve more magic, but I’ll leave the fighting to Derpy. She discarded her weapon and moved to the anvil, raising her hooves momentarily as her horn shined brilliantly. A dark blue barrier manifested over them. “Derpy, do what you can to keep them away. I’ll hold this for as long as I have to!”
The grey paladin turned to face her, revealing the three deep slashes running down her torso. “I can’t do much more, Princess Luna. I’m too exhausted.”
Luna’s eyes widened, as Derpy wobbled and flames struck the blue barrier while other dragons piled on and started to attack it. The strain hit the princess instantly, and she bared her teeth as sweat ran down her head. Heat from the spellsmithing quickly filled the inside, only adding to the stress of maintaining their safety. Derpy moved outside and started to distract and strike the dragons back, but an unseen tail whip sent her crashing back inside of it.
“I’m sorry, Princess. All of these battles without rest have finally caught up to me. I thought I could do it, but… I’m not strong enough.” The grey paladin crawled over to her and lied down, her chest rising and falling rapidly, streaks of blood running down her sides. “I did my best. I was hoping… to see Rainbow Dash… one last time…”
The barrier cracked, but Luna glanced down and smiled. “Thank you. Having you by my side is all I could ever ask for.” The storm could scarcely be seen or heard through the dragons surrounding them, each attacking at the barrier. “If this is where I am to die, then I am glad it was fighting with you.” The barrier continued to crack and they glanced up as the dragons came down in force. A smaller, green shield suddenly covered them.
“You… can’t… seriously… be giving… up… now!” Chrysalis ground out through clenched teeth. “The starving changeling… has to outdo… another princess!?”
Luna took a deep breath and moved beside her, adding her magic and relieving some of the strain. “You’re right, Chrysalis. I’ll burn myself out before I give in now.” Despite the second wind, the heat in the area had begun to make her dizzy, and she struggled to concentrate. How much longer is this going to take? We’re not going to last through the night. Rarity joined in, adding what little magic she could, but the combined efforts started to fail. Several moments passed and the barrier threatened to shatter beneath the horde of dragons.
“It is done!” announced Leo. “Now, everyone! GET DOWN!”
Light and flame exploded from the anvil in a ring of intense heat as Leo tackled the three to the ground, dispelling the barrier. Luna rolled to glimpse the source, but it was blinding. Dragons screeched and roared, their shrill howls filling the air as the night rolled back in an inferno. A stream of orange light surged through one of them, burning a crevice into its body before redirecting its path and slamming into the chest of another, burning completely through its chest. The stream of light continued to rip through various vitals of the attackers as they attempted to strike at it and breathe upon it.
Dragon breath did not deter the light, nor were the strikes slowing it down. Luna caught sight of one dragon successfully striking it with its talons and shift its trajectory, only for the talons to melt away. In a brief moment, as the light began to die down, she caught a glimpse of a winged creature engulfed in flame, rushing between each dragon that got close. Finally, after several had been killed by the stream of light, they began to retreat.
However, the light chased them, cutting off limbs, or burning through wings, grounding them all. Luna lost sight as the light moved away and her eyes were blinded in the shift back to the darkness, but she could hear the dragons roaring and crying in the distance. Finally, after what she estimated was ten minutes, there was only rain. Leo stood up first and helped the princess to standing. She noticed Derpy had passed out, but she looked around and could not find the sandy paladin.
“Where is Paladin Do?” she asked as she scanned the surroundings.
Leo pointed to a mound of dragon corpses, some still burning in the rain. “There.”
Daring looked down at her with a heavy gaze, two swords impaled into the head of the dragon she stood upon. She offered a solemn nod as a grey dust filtered into the air around her before quickly congealing to her form.
Her power is heat? Luna thought as she examined her from afar. This is not a normal flame, though. What is it truly? Her heart sank as she realized what the grey slime from earlier had been. Now I understand why we needed you to finish the forging. You could generate and withstand the heat we needed.
The sandy paladin whirled back and forth quickly, loosening as much of the grey slime and dust from her as she could before taking her swords and gliding down. Without speaking, she moved to the anvil and took Glance Reviver, setting it down beside her sister.
“Thanks, Ditzy. Rest easy. I’ll take it from here.” She leaned down and kissed her forehead before turning to face the others. “The cavalry has arrived, Leo,” she said, aiming a sword in the distance opposite of Canterlot. “I see the first ponies of the resistance coming.”
The chancellor exhaled and collapsed. “Thank, Celestia. I thought we were going to die. We’ll get your sister some medical assistance.” He watched as the sandy pegasus flew off to greet their allies.
Luna shot him a surprised look. “You are the calmest and most collected pony I know, and you have been betting on Paladin Do this entire time. Yet, you gave up hope?”
Leo sat up, brushing grass and dirt from his back. “You’re right, Your Majesty. It’s been quite a night, and we have more fighting ahead. I’m afraid there’s not much time to rest.” He peered off towards the ponies marching towards their location. “It seems all of the hiding and preparation Paladin Do and I have done is finally paying off.” He cracked a grin and turned to her again. “You referred to her as paladin, Your Majesty. Not once, but twice.”
The princess frowned. “What difference does it make?”
Leo chuckled and rose up. “I suppose it doesn’t do anything but give you more questions than answers.” He placed a hoof on her shoulder. “There will be time for that, I’m sure.”
“U-Uh… um…” Rarity chimed in. “Just wh-what is s-she doing here?” She had a hoof pointing at Chrysalis as she cowered back from her.
Luna moved to shoulder the exhausted changeling. “She is an ally at my behest, Rarity. I promise you that she means no harm. I have not forgotten what she has done in the past, but we need as many allies as we can get.”
The fashionista swallowed hard. “O~~~kay,” she responded slowly. “This makes me very uncomfortable, though!”
Chrysalis abruptly assumed Rarity’s form, earning an even more shocked expression. “Not as uncomfortable as this does, I hope,” she said, snickering.
“Knock it off, Chrysalis,” said Luna, gently smacking her.
The changeling reverted to her own form. “Okay, mom.”
The princess sighed. “Let’s get Derpy to the hospital. I’m sure we can handle any attention we’ll get from here on out.” She cast a glance over to Daring while she was still talking with the ponies of the resistance. She’ll come when she is able, she told herself. With a glow of her horn, she levitated the grey paladin over her back. “I’ll watch over her.”
Leo nodded. “There’s some cleaning up to do here. We’ll join you when we’re finished.”
“This is the end of the line for me, I’m afraid,” added Rarity. “I won’t leave Ponyville, but you’re welcome in my house if you ever need a place to stay. Do not hesitate to call upon me for assistance if you need it.”
Luna smiled. “Thank you, Rarity. You have helped far more than you know.”
Chrysalis trotted up beside the princess. “I’m not going anywhere without you. I don’t trust anyone else,” she said, looking nervously to the militia Daring had begun to organize. Several of them had already taken notice of her.
“That’s fine,” replied Luna as she started to walk towards the hospital. Her eyes drifted up to the windows of houses, catching light and awed faces within. She wasn’t sure if they were more surprised by the appearance of Chrysalis, or the long missing princess, or perhaps the piles of dragon corpses in their wake. For once, she felt at ease walking out in the open, and the presence of the changeling queen was welcome. “Hey, Chrysalis.”
The changeling yawned. “Yes, what is it?”
“Are your people capable of feeling love?” the princess wondered aloud. Chrysalis stopped and stared at her in bewilderment. She snorted, at first, and then erupted into laughter. Luna scowled and continued walking. “Forget I asked.”
“Oh, come now, pretty princess. You’re asking someone that devours love and drains creatures of it to survive if they themselves can feel love. Do you know how ridiculous you sound?” She died down to a fit of snickers. “You’re going to kill me before the hunger does.”
The princess rolled her eyes as her head sank low. “I just wanted to know. Your race is a mystery to us, even after you crashed the wedding of Princess Cadance and Knight Armor.”
“Oh, I remember. Overpowering Princess Celestia made it to the front page of the scrap book.” She made a final chuckle before coughing. “Any more silly questions?” she asked, but abruptly bumped into the princess’s rump. They had reached the hospital, but Luna froze as she met eyes with her shadow once again. “Hey, she looks kind of like y—“
“Did you find Twilight?” Luna asked quickly.
Nightmare opened the dragon skull to reveal her disappointment. “Yes, but I was too late. She was going to kill Trixie before I stopped her. I left her unconscious, but I couldn’t stay while that unicorn was bleeding out. I’m going back for her.”
“W-Wait,” Luna pled with a hoof in the air.
The Id turned to her with a glower. “Why? You do enough for the both of us,” she retorted. “Besides, you seem to be preoccupied with something else.”
“Do not dare try and blame this on me! We have been preparing overthrow Aurelius, and I cannot abandon that effort now, even for her. What have you done all this time?”
The dragon skull snapped shut with a loud clack, and Nightmare pulled a black cowl over most of it, but the shine of her sharp turquoise eyes was still visible. “You and I have different priorities, Luna. Mine is, and will always be, Twilight. Nothing else is more important to me right now, even you or killing Aurelius. Until she is safe with me your mission doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned. And I owe you nothing, least of all an explanation.” A dark mist started from the ground, rising up around her and obscuring her body. “Why don’t you go make sure that unicorn didn’t die? She matters to Twilight, even if she isn’t herself right now.”
“Wait, Midnight don’t—“ Luna was cut off by the Id’s body vanishing into the mist and then dispersing. Did she… teleport?
“Who was that?” asked Chrysalis.
The princess sighed as rain pelted her. “Nightmare Moon. She was… she is a part of me in some way. Jealousy of my sister’s fame and adoration over a thousand years ago led me to become her… once.” She met her bewildered stare with an apologetic look. “It’s… complicated.”
“You’re not very good at relationships, are you?” the changeling joked.
The princess frowned and decided not to rebut her. “She must have dropped Trixie off. Let’s go see her.”
They entered the hospital with Chrysalis assuming her alias, but Luna garnered astonished and frightful looks, with some of the night staff loosing startled cries at the sight of her. After passing Derpy off to doctors that swore their loyalty to her, she inquired the magician’s location.
“We don’t have anypony here under the name of ‘Trixie Lulamoon’, nor archmage, nor Great and Powerful. Are you sure this is correct?” a doctor asked, pushing up a large pair of glasses as he perused the check-in book.
“She has light blue fur and a silver-colored mane. Her cutie mark is a wand and some twinkles. Surely she must have been gravely injured if she was admitted here.” Luna attempted to crane her neck to view the book, dripping water all over the counter, but the doctor made an annoyed sound as he angled it away from her.
The doctor raised a brow at her. “A unicorn was brought in with that description, but she was not identified and is currently in critical care. Do you know what happened to her?”
Luna curled her bottom lip and chewed on it for a moment. “I do not know what happened to her, but she holds vital information. I must see her.”
The doctor snapped the book shut. “Absolutely not. She is in critical condition and will be left to rest once she has been triaged. I will not risk her recovery even for you, Princess.”
Princess, Luna growled inwardly. Magic took hold of the doctor’s coat and lifted him up. “You are impeding a war effort, doctor. I have long since lost my patience for the evening. You will take me to her, or I will find her myself. I pray I do not need to give you any more contexts.” She sat him down and he cowered beneath her gaze.
“Y-Yes, right away, Your Majesty.” He nearly bounded the reception desk as he started down a hallway, careful not to move too quickly for the princess.
“Wow, I’m impressed. And here I thought all this time you were just a prissy mare that didn’t do confrontation,” remarked Chrysalis.
Luna shot her a fierce look, compelling the changeling to nervously laugh it off. Nurses and doctors in the hospital had begun to stare and whisper among themselves, but they paid them no mind. The clop of their hooves to the tiled floor was more than enough to drown them out. The doctor stopped before a door, and Luna could see the magician inside with two nurses finishing bandage wraps and hooking her up to machines.
“She is in a delicate state. Though she doesn’t need surgery, her body has been brutally maimed. I urge you to leave her to rest.” He placed a hoof on the door handle and gently pushed it open. Luna and Chrysalis entered and the nurses quickly attached an oxygen mask to the magician and left, shutting the door quietly behind them.
“This… does not bode well,” Luna muttered as she stared at the bloodstained bandages wrapping Trixie’s body. “I fear my best friend may have become my worst enemy in the future.”
“Twilight Sparkle did this?” asked Chrysalis. “It doesn’t look worse than what that pegasus did to those dragons.” She moved to a chair in the room and sat down, a contented sigh escaping her throat. “If she’s your best friend, why would she fight against you?”
Luna’s eyes did not move from the grisly sight as she spoke. “Twilight has grown stronger than Celestia and I had anticipated, but this war and the things we had asked of her were too much. Her mind has become twisted, and though she is not entirely wrong to be bitter about the things that have occurred, she has become much darker, more determined to push through this at any cost than ever. Trixie is her lover, but if Twilight has reduced her to this…” She trailed off as her dark gaze shifted to Chrysalis. “What do you think she would do to a mere friend?”
The changeling swallowed and took a closer look at the magician. “What do we do about her? Is she going to be a problem?”
Luna sat down and closed her eyes. “I do not know, and for once, I am afraid of what the answer may hold. I will not know where her allegiance or her mind sits until I see her again.” Muffled groaning started her and she stood up as the magician shifted in bed. “Be at ease, Trixie. I, Princess Luna, am here with you now.” The magician attempted to raise a foreleg to her mask, but she couldn’t lift it high enough. Luna gently slipped it down.
“Stop…” she murmured.
The princess leaned closer. “What?”
“Stop… her. She can’t… go to… Canterlot… alone. She can’t… learn the truth… alone.” Trixie’s eyes opened, but they rolled around in their sockets.
Luna’s eyes widened. “What truth? Is it something about Aurelius? About my sister? Please, tell me.”
Trixie coughed as gently as she could. “Stop her… before she… reaches… Celestia…”
Luna wanted to press harder for answers, but Trixie struggled to breathe, and she replaced the mask. Her mind roiled with questions, but the magician lost consciousness again. She headed for the door and Chrysalis was right on her heels again.
“Where are we going?” the changeling asked.
Luna led the way to the Derpy’s room, her gaze intense once more. “I have once again been left in an impossible position. We cannot mobilize on Canterlot without first resting, but Twilight already has a head start on us. If Nightmare Moon is unable to bring her back, then I pray whatever Trixie’s warning was for ends up being wrong.” As they arrived outside in the grey paladin’s room, her mind slipped into a frenzy of thoughts while she watched nurses cleaning and wrapping her wounds. One thought stuck out to her in particular. So, Celestia is alive and in Canterlot, but what does that mean? Is she a prisoner, or is she helping Aurelius? Both notions made her sick. Daring approached the room with a concerned look, but she did not need to ask to receive an answer. “She is being taken care of.”
The sandy paladin nodded, but stopped as she placed a hoof on the door handle. “Thank you,” she whispered without looking.
“You saved my life, all of our lives. It is I whom is indebted to you,” replied Luna.
Daring shook her head. “No. I’m… sorry about what happened in the past, but I have to know something.” The princess raised a brow at her. “Was it you or Princess Celestia that led to me muting Leo all those years ago?”
Luna opened her mouth to speak, but froze for a moment. “Does it matter anymore?”
The sandy paladin turned to her. “It does to me.”
“I gave the orders on her behalf. I know you may not believe me, but you may ask Celestia yourself. Trixie confirmed that she is alive and in Canterlot.”
If Daring was surprised by the news, she scarcely showed it. “I… see.” She pushed open the door and quietly shut it behind her.
“Should we put more guards here with them?” asked Chrysalis.
The princess shook her head. “There isn’t a force in the world that could harm Paladin Hooves now.” She led the way towards the hospital’s exit.
Chrysalis cocked her head. “What makes you say that?”
“There is nothing I would not do to protect my sister, and Daring Do is no less different in that regard.” Luna took a deep breath. I have never wished for day more than tonight.