• Published 12th Aug 2013
  • 13,689 Views, 217 Comments

Warring Dusk - AlphatheGriffin17

A happy day soon descends into a war between two peoples. Canterlot is under siege, the princesses are captured and Dusk must take up arms or watch his home fall.

  • ...

Intentions of the Soul

The Canterlot dungeons were very under used. In fact, it wouldn't be inaccurate to say that they were never used at all. Since Equestria was a relatively peaceful land, the use of any kind of incarceration was rather redundant. They were more of a remnant of a darker time, when they actually needed to be used to detain those who would bring chaos and disorder if they weren't.

For centuries after, they had mostly been left empty while still being kept in good condition, only occasionally being used. They were as much a part of the city its streets and people, serving as a reminder for the darker parts of history and the consequences if they were to be repeated. Now they had been put to use once more, though the ponies in them were victims of a very different regime.

There were two of them occupying those cells, with changelings on regular patrols outside. Shining Armour sat contemplating, trying to devise some kind of method of escape, only vaguely appreciating the irony of being locked in his own cells. Twilight Sparkle tried to squint through the darkness to make out any details for the same purpose. Even the smallest of things might aid in some kind of escape.

The more she thought about it, however, the more she was reminded it was an increasingly hopeless concept, both from what she'd read about the dungeons and what she was learning now. The bars were tough metal and they didn't have the key. The walls were thick and the windows that existed were tiny. The guards were too numerous and the cells had an enchantment that dampened unicorn magic, since they were made with such prisoners in mind.

She sighed and leaned back against the cold wall of her cell. Until some kind of chance came up, it looked like she was just going to have to wait this out. For now.

She could hear Shining's low breathing in the other cell directly next to her, leaning on the opposite wall. He had barely said a word since they'd been captured. He was only ever like this when he was angry, usually at himself if he felt he was responsible for it. It wasn't like they'd failed in their task. The changelings were simply too great in number, but they had stood their ground long enough to let the others get away and fought as long as they could.

Even if it had come at a cost.

"Shining?" she called softly. Silence was the only response. "Can you hear me? BBBFF?"

"Yeah...?" His voice was cold and distant.

She searched her mind for a response. "How... how are you holding up?"


"You're sure?"


She paused. "I think we both know that's not true. What is it?"

"It doesn't matter," he muttered. "It's nothing."

"I'll be the judge of that," she countered. "We're not exactly going anywhere, so you might as well tell me."

"Don't remind me."

"Shining, we did what we had to do," she said gently. "It worked too, they all managed to get away. Be proud of that."

He was quite for a while before he answered. "I would be, if it meant you'd gotten out too."

"Don't get started on that," she replied sternly. "It was my choice to stay with you and I don't regret it. You needed the help and I wasn't going to just leave you."

"I could have handled it alone."

"In your state, I think we were lucky to last as long as we did." She crawled closer to the sound of his voice. "You needed my help."

"I didn't ask for it."

"You didn't need to." She let a lighter tone come in. "You'd think I'd just leave my big brother alone?"

"Might have been better if you had," he muttered. She could make him out in the darkness, his head hung low. "Now, we're both stuck here and there's nothing we can do."

She shook her head. "We'll find a way. We'll escape somehow."

"With these blocking our magic and changelings outside?" He gestured around at the walls. "Doesn't look like much chance of that."

"Then the others will save us," she tried. "They'll come for us and they'll free us."

He sniffed bitterly. "Just them against the entire changeling swarm?"

"They'll get help." She'd never heard him sound like this before. "You can't give up, Shining."

"I'm looking at the facts. Chrysalis has the soldiers, the resources, the foundation of a solid defence and they barely even have that. We bought them time, but just how much before they wind up in here with us?" He glanced around at her through the bars. "The changelings have taken Canterlot, even with all the increased security, they beat both princesses! What chance do they even have against those odds?!"

Hearing all of that from him hurt more than she could have expected. "Shining... please..."

"And Cadence is out there, all her on her own. She needs me and I'm stuck in this cell! I'm useless!" She recoiled a little when his hoof slammed into the ground. "You wouldn't get it..."

Though his tone sounded completely hollow and hopeless and Twilight could sympathise, she had reached her limit now with that last declaration. She made sure there was a noticeable tone in her voice when she spoke next.

"Wouldn't I?"

Shining appeared to pick up on it. "Twily... I didn't mean..."

"You think you're the only one who's not worried?" she pressed on. "Dusk is out there too and I have no idea what might happen to him. It scares me so much just thinking about it, but I have to look past it. I have to believe that he'll make it, that he'll fight on and he'll come through, along with all of our friends. For all of us... for me. Like they've always done..."

"But... Cadence, she..."

"She's tougher than you give her credit for. It was her love for you that helped her find a way out of that cave and it's her love for you that's going to bring her back here, to save us. I know in my heart Dusk has the same strength and he's going to use it. They'll look after each other and they'll come for us." She reached through the darkness and found his hoof. "I... we have to have faith, otherwise... the changelings have already won."

It actually made her feel a little better, feeling the warmth of her brother's hoof. The hoof that had always been there to pick her up when she'd fallen. It felt good now, to be returning the favour and be there for him when he needed her the most. As he had done so many times with her.

"I guess you're right." The grip tightened comfortingly. "I'm sorry, Twily. It's just... I guess I just lost it there for a bit..."

"I know how that feels," she giggled. "At least I'm here to help you find it again."

"Yeah... thanks," he murmured. "You really believe in Dusk, don't you?"

"It comes from being with him." She laughed a little. "It's not the first time he's had to save me, but I'd say I've had to save him a few more times since then."

He soon joined her. "I can imagine that. It always was pretty hard to stop you when you set your mind on something."

"I thought being stubborn was something I got from you."

"I think it's fair to say we both share it."

"Apart from a few seconds ago?"

"I guess I just needed a little kick to get me back into shape."

"More than a little, I'd say."

"If you say so." A teasing tone made it into his voice. "So, you really seem to have your heart set on Dusk."

Her cheeks felt hot. "I just... believe in him, that's all."

"Really? How long do you believe it'll be before he gets down on his knees and pops the question?"

"Shining!" She punched his arm lightly. "That's nothing to joke about!"

"Who said I was joking?" He was still laughing. "You two have been dating for quite a while."

"Only a good few months!"

"Almost a year, by my count. Can I be your best stallion then?"

"You..." She hit him again, thankful he couldn't see her blush. "He's grown on you, hasn't he?"

"I guess so." She made out a shrug in the dark. "He's really a good guy, even if it took me a while to stop being an idiot and see it."

She returned the gesture. "Well, you stallions are usually idiots, I've noticed. That's why mares exist, to keep you on the right track."

"Says the mare who tried to create a friendship problem to report about."

"It seemed like a big deal at the time! How did you even hear about that?!"

"Come on, you think I don't know about the things my little sister gets up to in Ponyville?" he chuckled.

She blushed again. "I hope that's not all of it then..."

"What was that?"

"Nothing, never mind."

"If you say so." He snapped his head up at a loud clanking. "I think we're gonna have some company."

The doors opened, a pair of changelings marching towards them and opening the door to her cell. One changeling stayed outside, while the other came in and leered down at her. She did her best not to seem intimidated.

"You're coming with us, pony," he sneered.

Shining was at the bars in seconds. "Hey, where are you taking here?!"

"Quiet you!" The changeling jabbed his spear at him. "It's none of your concern."

"You come in here and say that to my face, bug!" he growled.

"Shining, don't." Her command seemed to calm him. "It's best if we don't aggravate them. I'll be fine."

He hung his head, reluctantly conceding. "You'd better be,"

Though he wasn't threatening them anymore, she could tell he was still tense. He never took his eyes off the guards while she was taken out of her cell. She couldn't help but feel a sense of isolation when the doors closed on him.

"Where am I being taken?" she asked her guards.

"Queen Chrysalis wants to see you. Now, no more talking or I'll remove your tongue. Am I clear?" he growled.

Twilight nodded silently and followed them. She comforted herself knowing that she'd soon have a chance to strike back and, for now, it was safer just to go along with it. But only for the time being. They wouldn't be in control forever.

She looked out of the windows while the guards led her on. The changelings outside in the city were all flying frantically in different directions, a clear excitement in their movements and from what she could make out on their faces. Some moved alone, some were getting organised into ranks and assembling in open spaces.

It was clear to her what was happening. They were getting ready for something big. What exactly she didn't want to think about.

She could hear Chrysalis's voice when she neared the hall she resided. It sounded like she was in an argument with another changeling, her distorted voice exchanging words with another deeper one, this with more of a rasp.

The doors opened and she could see her speaking with a changeling who wore a scar over his eye, looking quite perturbed. Another stood to her left, one she had glimpsed before. He appeared to be the only one who wasn't enjoying what was going on here. Though the queen and the scarred one didn't notice her when she was brought in, he did. He managed a sympathetic look to her before turning his attention back to the debate.

She turned her eyes up while she was brought in. Celestia was still entrapped in a cocoon of slime, though now she had been joined by her sister. She could see that Luna was still trying to struggle free, but to no avail. She ignored the despair that threatened to grow inside her at this sight and kept her focus on the queen.

"... fail to see what the issue is here, commander Sting," she was saying.

"I think the issue is very self-evident, your highness," the one called Sting retorted. "I find myself questioning your choices upon these next two engagements with the enemy."

"And why should you do that?" she asked. "Are you not pleased to lead this battle, commander?"

"Far from it-"

"Do you have doubts in your abilities?"

"Of course not-"

"Then there is no problem," she said. "You will lead this contingent, he will lead the other. He is rather eager and I'd say he's proved himself at this point, wouldn't you?"

"But he is one of them, highness!" he hissed. "How can you trust him?!"

"I don't, but this will be a true test of his commitment. I know what I'm doing," she said confidently. "Now, I've heard enough for now. You have your orders, commander and I expect you to follow them."

Anger was still set in Sting's face as he bowed. "At once, your highness."

With one last disgruntled hiss, he stalked off out of the hall. As he passed Twilight, he gave her a long look of the deepest loathing before departing. She watched him go, and then turned her attention back to Chrysalis as she was pushed further forward.

"Still have your reservations about this, my dear ambassador Parlix?" she asked the other changeling.

He shifted noticeably. "I would not seek to disagree with your highness with my own doubts. I simply feel that... there may have been a better way."

"What could be better than this?" she asked, gesturing around the room. "You must rejoice, Parlix. We have struck a blow here for all changelings everywhere."

"I know that. I just can't help but dwell on the impact that we've made," he murmured.

Chrysalis didn't answer when she saw Twilight. She smiled horribly. "Ah, here's my wedding planner now. I must say, I'm very pleased with how things have turned out."

"I can't say I feel the same," she countered. "Why have you brought me here, Chrysalis?"

"So hostile, Twilight," she said mockingly. "I simply brought you here because my minions were about to pay Ponyville a little visit. Any sights you think we should take in while we're there?"

"How about the way out of town?" she shouted. "You stay away from Ponyville, you monster!"

"Monster?" She looked offended. "That's quite a harsh judgement to make, Twilight. I'm simply trying to provide food and wellbeing for my subjects, like any good queen. Does that make me a monster?"

"It does if you're exploiting another land and its people to do it!"

The queen shrugged. "You know what they say about eggs and omelettes. I'm sure your friend, Applejack, was it, would agree with me."

She felt her stomach contract. "No... no, you stay away from them..."

"I'm sure you must miss them very much, especially your dear sweetheart," she cooed tauntingly. "Why don't I see if my subjects can't bring them back? Then you can all be together again, best friends forever. It really does sound touching."

"No!" She started forward, but was restrained by the guards. "Leave my friends and my town alone!"

"Oh, but you misunderstand me, dear Twilight. I'm not going to Ponyville, it's far more comfortable here," she said smugly. "That's why a queen has to delegate her duties to those with more experience."

She gestured to the right, another familiar face entering on her indication. She felt her blood boil at the sight of him. With his smug, aggressive features morphed into a leer, dressed in golden armour he certainly didn't deserve and a confident swagger. A pair of metal cylinders were fixed on his forelegs, glowing with a white energy inside. Almost like a magical aura.

"Ah, Hard Edge. I see you're dressed for battle." She noted the metal tubes on his legs. "I see the good doctor has helped outfit you."

"Oh yeah." He held them up, grinning. "Just gave 'em a little test run. Can't wait to try 'em out for real."

"Well, you'll soon get your chance," she laughed. "I'm sure all the ponies in Twilight's little town will be excited to see them in use."

Twilight glared at him. "How can you do this? How can you just betray us like this, your own kind?"

"For a chance to get back at your little coltfriend and to get the glory I deserve?" He laughed derisively. "I got more than enough reasons."

"For your sake, Hard Edge, I hope that's true. Just remember," she hissed, "if you go after him, I won't be far behind you."

He smirked, opened his mouth to reply when something cut him off. Something that made him turn his head and look to the closed door it came from, smirking all the more. Something that gradually made every head in the room turn and look towards the source of it.

Metallic, echoing sounds. They grew louder with every one that passed, sounding at regular intervals. Hoofsteps. Hooves that wore metal. Calm, controlled, moving with a purpose. They grew louder, louder. She felt dread grow inside her as it did. Her eyes were fixed on the door, her body frozen in fear's icy grip.

They stopped. Silence. A blood red aura surrounded the door and slowly, they opened. A figure stood motionless, taking in its surroundings. It stepped forward, into the light.

Her mind comprehended a few things upon seeing this figure. Armour as grey as a gathering storm, set with a crest of a red circle at the centre and a black, jagged pattern, starting large in the middle and branching out through the rest of the metal, like a dead tree. A face covered with a cold helmet, unseen eyes gazing from two, dark holes. A purple plume set at the top, a robe of the same colour draped over rounded shoulder pieces.

Her eyes travelled to the blade that hung at his side. The same as the armour, the hilt decorated with a pair of stretched wings from where the blade began. One leathery like a bat, the other feathered like a bird, a purple jewel set in its hilt. She shivered. Few ponies had ever mastered the use of a sword because they didn't really have the physical capabilities to do so. If he had the commitment to master the use of one...

The helmet turned in her direction. She didn't even know if he was actually looking at her. Another shiver when down her spine. It was a pony... at least, she thought it was. Four legs, of a tall build, with a long horn and a pair of feathered wings settled at the back, grey like the armour he wore. Another alicorn? Where had this one come from? Who was he... he appeared to be male at any rate. Whoever he was, the impact that his entrance had was very evident.

Every eye turned to him, watching him like he was a dangerous animal who might strike any one of them at any time. Even Chrysalis looked a little uneasy, though she still maintained a calm composure. She could see Luna, staring in utter disbelief. Celestia however... it was like he had walked out of one of her nightmares from the expression she had.

"So, you managed to find it then?" remarked Chrysalis casually. "I see that it still fits you well."

The helmet barely moved to look at her. "Evidently so."

It was like a wind blowing through a darkened cave. Harsh and cold, laced with menace.

"Excellent. Then since part of what is due to you has been paid, I take it that you will still want the other?" she asked.

"Obviously," he breathed, like a dying gasp.

"Then I shan't keep it from you any longer. I will have some of my best guards escort you to the hive," she offered, two of them stepping forward. "They'll ensure that no harm comes to you."

He gave them a cursory glance. "It is not I thou should be concerned of being harmed."

"Are you saying that you'd attack my guards?"

He appeared to consider. "Only if they would give me cause to."

Chrysalis chuckled, though fear flickered in her eyes. "Then I hope that they don't."

"I suppose thou would."

He started towards the doors, the clanking of his armour echoing around the hall, drowning out the hoofsteps of the two guards that moved to join him. She saw them both tense visibly when they took positions and try very hard to maintain a disciplined composure.

He had almost reached the threshold when he stopped. The tension in the air seemed to thicken again. He was motionless as a statue for a long while. His helmet turned, glancing back with those darkened holes.

"Young mare." It took Twilight a moment to realise he was addressing her. "Thou hast hope that the one thou lovest most shall come for thee?"

Twilight blinked in surprise. How did he know? Had he been listening while she was in her cell with her brother? Why did it matter to him? Was he going to do something to Dusk? Any of these could have tumbled out as a question, but her response was a simple one.

"I do." She meant for it to sound defiant, yet it felt rather small in the presence of this pony.

She could have sworn she heard a hint of softness in his harsh tones when he spoke next.

"Hold onto it for as long as thou can. Thou may thinkest it burns as bright as a sun but..." He looked at his crest, then up at Celestia. "Even suns die."

He lingered for a few more moments then, with a flicker of his cloak, he left. Not a single eye left him until he had exited from the hall and the doors had shut behind him.

"Who... who was that?" she blurted out.

"A mutual ally," Chrysalis replied. "It was thanks to his and his compatriot's efforts that all of this was possible. At a rather minimal cost too, I might add."

"A minimal cost," remarked Parlix, "but for whom, I wonder."

Chrysalis didn't answer him. "Take Twilight back to her cell. I'm sure she misses being apart from her dear brother."

Twilight barely noticed when the guards came to bring her back, her eyes still fixed on the door. Even as she was taken back to her imprisonment, she couldn't help but wonder if the real threat wasn't the one that still resided in Canterlot, but the one that had just left.

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