• Published 7th Sep 2013
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Glory Be - BlackRoseRaven

Luna and Scrivener struggle to set right all the wrongs from their past and save their family and friends. Tenth and final story in the Blooming Moon Chronicles/99 Worlds Saga.

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Longing And Guilt

Chapter Fifty: Longing and Guilt

Innocence had the biggest scowl in the world on her face as she sat in the motorcycle sidecar, and Antares was honestly trying his hardest not to giggle. But she was sitting there, with an ice cream popsicle in one claw, continuing to give him a look that he was fairly certain was capable of killing him if she concentrated even the teeniest amount of magic into it, so... how was he supposed to not laugh?

The motorcycle was parked in front of Sugar Cube Corners, which was closed at the moment. He had no idea where Pinkie Pie must be, but even with the place closed, there were still plenty of ponies sitting at the benches, and foals were coming and going, slipping letters through the slot in the door to order up treats. The next time the sweets shoppe was open, Pinkie would have invariably filled out all the orders and would be waiting to give them out to the foals with a smile on her face.

They had picked up some ice cream from a little, more commercialized store down the street, and Sin had a hot chocolate, too, while Antares had a cheap, poisonous-tasting coffee and a bag of energy drinks as a sort of peace offering for his parents. Scrivener Blooms would like them, at least, even if Luna was a purist about her damn coffee being the only thing she really drank for caffeine, but that's why he had picked up a few coffee-flavored candies.

“We should go.” Innocence said sourly, and Antares snorted and shook his head before he returned to polishing the skull on the front of the motorcycle with a rag. He had maybe accidentally gone off the path and rammed the bike into an old tree thanks to an idiot squirrel running into the path, but it had just gotten a little dirty. Nothing he couldn't take care of. “We should go, and you should. Die. Let me cut off your head and give it to Mutt, it'll be less painful than anything else she might want to do to you.”

“You're so pleasant, Sin. That's why everypony in the whole wide world loves you.” Antares replied mildly, then he glanced up absently at her, and she scowled darkly at him before the stallion looked down, even as he greeted calmly: “Hey, Kismet. How are you?”

“Very well, thank you.” Kismet said kindly, and Innocence squeaked and jumped, fumbling her ice cream and dropping it in her lap. She looked sulkily down at this, and Kismet smiled at her, saying softly: “I apologize, young Innocence. I didn't mean to startle you.”

“Wasn't... you.” Innocence mumbled with childish sulkiness, dropping her head and grumbling under her breath as she looked away. “Just... stupid stuff... and... yeah. What are you doing here?”

Kismet shrugged, grasping his heavy tome between his clawed gauntlets as he looked down meditatively. “I have heard that my services will be needed shortly through the senses of my kin. I also wished to spend time in this world, with the people who remind me why it is good to strive so hard to protect it. These goings-on with Greater Heaven... they... disappoint me, I suppose. I find it disheartening that those who could be so wise, those who hold such great power... fail to use their minds or wisdom for greater ends.”

“Everyone's selfish. Get used to it.” Innocence muttered, and then the strange unicorn shook her head briefly before her horn glowed brightly as she glared down at the mess of ice cream in her lap, dissolving it away into steam. “Everyone's selfish. Even you, Great Reaper. We're your source of souls and protection. You're using us as much as we use you.”

Antares slowly glowered up at his sibling, but Kismet only smiled kindly down at Innocence through his warm gaze, replying gently: “Consider it what you will, young miss. But to be used properly is better than misuse or disuse, is it not?”

Innocence didn't quite know how to reply to this, and Antares snorted in amusement before he looked up at Kismet and said seriously: “I never knew you were into all that kind of stuff, Kismet. But I guess, you know, as a Reaper you gotta find something that excites you, and hey, if you're into use and misuse and denial...”

“You're always pleasant to talk to, Antares Mīrus. A reminder that all of us can grow up even while we're growing down, so to speak.” Kismet replied kindly, bowing his head forwards before the Great Reaper added gently: “Your mother is doing very well, by the way. I know you're concerned for her, but she seems fine and healthy.”

“Hey. Hey. Hey, no cheating. Assbutt. And... you can't really know that, she's not dead.” Antares mumbled, rubbing at his own features before he flung the rag in his other hoof at the Great Reaper. This bounced off Kismet's chest, but he caught it easily in one dexterous claw before it could fall. “Don't a jerk, that's my job.”

Kismet only smiled and shrugged, then he calmly turned towards the motorcycle, kneeling and beginning to slowly polish along its side as he said softly: “My apologies, then. I simply wanted to extend my sympathies and the little reassurance I can give.”

“Stop. Stop that. Come on, you're like a God of Death. Go play heavy metal if you want to do something, stop. Polishing the goddamn motorcycle, Kismet.” Antares said awkwardly, raising a hoof to the death entity, but Kismet only smiled as he continued to calmly, leisurely clean off the mud-splattered metal plates.

“My station is unimportant. My title is as well.” Kismet simply shrugged, and Innocence frowned uncertainly at the god of death as she shifted uncomfortably, watching the steady, paced way he worked, how he seemed so... simply so at peace with himself, and with the world around himself, in spite of lowering himself to the task of a servant... maybe because he's lowering himself to... to such a... menial job... “A job that strains the body is no less worthwhile than a job that strains the mind. We should not mistake complexity for necessity: if the entire world was made of philosophers and sophists, then who would be left to make make food, shelter, all the ten thousand other things even I at times take for granted?”

“Horses of Heaven, I hate you sometimes. Great, yeah, make us all feel guilty. Talk down on us from your... dead soapbox of... dead wise thingies.” Antares grumbled, and Innocence only shook her head slowly before the glossy-black unicorn said finally: “Can you at least try and look like you're not enjoying yourself?”

Kismet only looked peacefully up, then he replied kindly: “But would my lie grant you any reassurance, Antares Mīrus, or would you only feel greater guilt as I attempt to bow to your designs?”

Antares looked stumped at this, and Innocence hesitated before she looked up and asked suddenly: “Why did you give my... I mean, Twilight Sparkle your bell? I've never heard of a reaper of any level willingly parting with one of its weapons before... they serve as the containers for your souls, don't they? Not to mention how powerful they are on their own...”

The death entity chuckled quietly at this, the rag gently wiping away another splotch of dirt as he said softly: “Weapons? They are only tools... sometimes harnessed in unpleasant ways, but no less tools for all that. And while my brethren may often choose to put their souls in such things, I myself prefer the casing of my body. It feel warmest; my soul is me, after all, and I spent too long... apart from it. But that, of course, is a story for another day.”

Kismet paused thoughtfully, then he looked up kindly at Sin, shrugging slowly. “The tool I passed on to Twilight, the bell... I feel that she'll use it well, if only she would trust more in it. Perhaps, Innocence, you will do me a favor and ask your mother, when she returns, if she will practice with you. Or even just to see it: even just in each other's presence, the two will get to know each other.”

Antares rolled his eyes at this, striding over and snatching his rag back with telekinesis from the death entity, and then he looked mildly over the bike as he said: “You know, it's really creepy the way you talk about that. It's like you gave Mom a... a pet ferret or something. Not a giant heavy bell. Why the hell a bell, anyway? And... goddammit, look at this. You did way too good a job, now I'm going to have to completely polish up the other side.”

Kismet looked down at Antares, and the glossy-black unicorn huffed and quickly yanked the rag away, grumbling: “Hell no. I'm not letting you do the other side too. Go... mop a floor. Clean a house. Do. Something else. I dunno, where the hell do reapers live?”

“A better question would be whether or not agents of death live at all. If not for our duty to serve life's end, then for the way many of my brethren are so mechanical in their design. Perhaps Thanatos knows; I do not.” Kismet replied equably, and Antares stared at the death entity before the Great Reaper stood and turned his eyes back to Innocence, who was glaring up at him distrustfully. “Yes, child? Please, don't be afraid to speak.”

“I... am not a child. And I don't know what you want, or why you'd pass on such an object of intense power to Twilight Sparkle, but...” Innocence struggled to form the words, to make coherent what exactly it was that she half-suspected... half-needed to be the truth. Because otherwise, if such a powerful creature could act so altruistically, without working for any benefit of its own... “I know it's something, and I'll figure it out!”

“I sincerely hope in time, you do understand what I have done, young Innocence. But that will not be until you learn to open your eyes... and see that for all you've been taught by Gymbr, precious little of it has been worth learning.” Kismet gazed down at her, with a kindness that... that almost hurt. “Perhaps that's why you've been finding it so easy to forget all those years away... and remember instead all the years before you made that... small misstep, that grew into such a large mistake.”

“You... you don't know anything.” Innocence muttered after a moment, flushing and looking down with a brief shake of her head before she finally turned a scowl towards the death entity. “I learned a lot from Gymbr. I learned how the world works. I learned the truth behind all people, and that wrong and right are nothing but concepts. I learned that power rules everything and... only the strongest have any say in how to live their own lives.”

Kismet simply shrugged, and then he said softly: “And haven't you learned that those who live by the sword often die by it as well? How can you defend tyranny when you've been the one to feel its costs the very most, Innocence? And why is it that in spite of everything you say, you still retain a spark of your namesake, even if you've made yourself believe that you're this awful, terrible and twisted thing inside? For I do not see a monster when I look at you, Innocence. I see a filly, who has been badly hurt by the world, and does not trust it... yet longs to.”

Innocence leaned back, then she shuddered and looked sharply away. Kismet bowed his head politely as Antares frowned over at his sister, before the Great Reaper said gently: “I apologize. I overstepped my bounds, and perhaps allowed my temper to get the better of me.”

The mare only looked away with a a snort, crossing her forelegs and mumbling: “It... it doesn't matter to me. You can say whatever you want. Words are meaningless.”

“Nothing is meaningless. Even if we will it to mean nothing, that action in and of itself gives it meaning and impact.” Kismet shrugged, then he paused before turning his eyes towards Antares, nodding towards the stallion as he said gently: “You are correct, by the way. The force you call the Light is not present here... at least, not yet. But your little sister is right as well... you shouldn't throw yourself into risk. There's too much at stake here, Antares, and you will undoubtedly have quite a role to play in the near future.”

“I don't like that you're essentially Death with a capital-D and you're telling me that.” Antares said flatly, and then he shook his head briefly before moodily slapping at some dirt on the side of the motorcycle with the rag. “Now I have the feeling that everyone is going to die and I'm going to be left alone, fighting the Light all by myself.”

“Your greatest blessing, Antares Mīrus, is that you will never be alone.” Kismet said kindly, and the stallion sighed but smiled wryly after a moment up at the death entity, nodding briefly. Kismet nodded calmly back, and for a few seconds all they could hear was the hum of conversation ebbing and flowing around them before Kismet smiled and laced his silver claws together, saying gently: “I should excuse myself for now. It seems we all have our tasks, after all... and remember, my friends. Even when we fall, it is only another opportunity to learn to get back up.”

Antares looked up at the death entity for a few moments, and then he said flatly: “Sometimes I wish stuff actually bothered you. I hate that you pretty much make all of us look as grumpy and pessimistic as like... my Dad.”

Kismet only shrugged placidly, and Antares shook his head slowly before he glanced over at Innocence. But the strange unicorn only had her head lowered, sulking moodily, and after a moment the stallion rolled his eyes and said wryly: “Well. Take care of yourself, Kismet. And I'll do my best to make sure Sin here at least doesn't die. Even if apparently everyone else is going to.”

“We all die, young Antares. It's simply a matter of 'when...' and more important than the day of our death is what we do with the life we're given.” Kismet seemed to smile beneath his mask between the two ponies, shrugging calmly. “Death only occurs once, after all, and it is merely a journey from one realm to another. What you do before and after is what is important.”

Innocence only mumbled and shifted a little, while Antares sighed and shook his head slowly, saying wryly: “You are the biggest pain in the flank I have ever met.”

The death entity only shrugged again, and then he turned and strode leisurely off, fitting in strangely well with the other inhabitants of Ponyville. Antares watched him leave, and then he sighed and rolled his eyes, turning his eyes back to the motorcycle and beginning to polish along dirty side of the bike, saying mildly: “Alright Sin. Give me a few minutes, and we'll get out of here and pick you up another ice cream or something.”

“I don't want a goddamned ice cream.” Sin said crankily, and then she shook her head vehemently and muttered: “This is stupid. We're wasting our time now and you're going to get us into trouble and... let's just get out of here.”

Antares shrugged at this, looking up at Innocence before he suddenly smiled and stood up, saying quietly: “Fine, then... let's do what you want. Since you haven't been a complete and total bitch for at least a few hours now, we might as well try and reward that.”

Innocence looked at him distrustfully, and the glossy black unicorn sighed and rolled his eyes, half-suggesting with a sigh: “Do you want to go train, or do you want to go to the engineering lab so you can pretend you're not trying to leech out Hecate's brains?”

“I want...” Innocence scowled a little, then leaned forwards, saying challengingly: “I want to go out into the Everfree Forest. And I don't want to fight you, Antares, but I want you to teach me some of your magic.”

The stallion looked surprised by this request, and then he hesitated before looking up and meeting her eyes evenly, saying finally: “Fine. But... just... this is purification, Sin. You've been using dark magic and kind of the opposite stuff so long that I don't know if you'll be able to find the right wavelength. Even Prestige can't mimic my purification. Hell, even Aunt Tia can't.”

“I can do anything.” Innocence said firmly, and Antares studied his sister for a few moments before he smiled despite himself, shaking his head slowly. But he felt... a strange tingle, all the same. A warmth, almost: for some reason, that hadn't sounded like the evil goddess Sin was trying to set herself up to be. That stubbornness, that crankiness, that determination... that felt a lot more like the old Innocence than the new Sin.

“Fine. Okay, Sin, sure.” Antares grinned after a moment, shaking his head slowly before he teased: “You know, Mutt's awful at anything apart from combat magic, but Mom-”

“Oh shut up, I'm nothing like Momma!” Innocence said grouchily, crossing her forelegs with a huff and a childish glower, and the mare shook her head out and muttered: “Anyway, none of that matters, really. What matters is that I continue to get stronger, and there aren't a whole lot of things stronger than purification.”

“There's your face. Which is stronger than anything in the world. Because it's so ugly.” Antares said mildly, and Innocence glowered at him before he said kindly: “Just some brotherly ribbing, that's all. We're siblings. We should be able to have all kinds of fun at each other's expense.”

Innocence rolled her eyes, then she hesitated as Antares turned to stuff the rag into the little pocket-slot on the side of the bike that normally held Luna's gun in place, and the mare forced herself to take a breath before she scrambled up into the driver's seat. Antares immediately winced, but Innocence rose her head high, saying grumpily: “No. I'm going to drive.”

“Yeah. Yeah. That doesn't sound like a recipe for disaster or anything.” Antares said grouchily, and then he shook his head and said finally: “Sin, this... is not a good idea. I mean. Okay. Stealing the motorcycle in the first place was not a good idea, Luna is going to beat the crap out of me. But if you drive this motorcycle, you're instantly putting yourself on Mom's 'pummel' list. No, let me correct that. You sat in the seat, that puts you on the 'pummel' list. If you drive this, you'll go on Mom's death list.”

Innocence only huffed at this, and then she looked at her brother and said mildly: “Tell you what. If you don't let me drive, then I'm going to overcharge the magic crystals that power this thing to make the engine explode. Then you can drag the broken motorcycle home and she'll probably blame you for it, because it seems like something stupid you would do to try and make it run faster.”

“You. That's.” Antares mouthed slowly, and then he twitched before saying flatly: “Goddammit, Innocence, what the hell? Like. Seriously. What the hell? When did you turn into such a monster?”

Innocence only smiled sweetly at him, and the two glared at each other for a few moments before the mare said moodily: “I learned from the very best. Now squish yourself into that dumb little sidecar and let's get going. I'll drive us out to a nice spot.”

“Oh this is going to end horribly.” Antares sighed tiredly, and then he nodded grouchily before striding around the machine and awkwardly squeezing himself into the sidecar, adding crankily: “Just. Try and listen to me at least right now, okay? Remember that if you scratch or dent this thing Luna is going to murder us both.”

The strange unicorn rolled her eyes and then she wiggled herself into a comfortable position before leaning down and twisting the throttle, then scowling. Antares groaned and rubbed slowly at his features, and then he said tiredly: “Okay, first. You have to turn it on. Second, you want to take it out of park and put it in reverse with that lever there, and... no, you know what, first we should go over the gages and-”

“No. When I was learning about magic, I was taught in action. I've always learned by doing.” Innocence grumbled, wiggling the handlebars back and forth and making Antares wince before the mare grasped the keys with telekinesis and turned them firmly.

The engine roared into life, and Innocence looked proud of herself before she began to twist the throttle, and Antares hurriedly snapped his horn towards her, almost knocking her out of the seat with a squeak as the engine gave a brief whine. “We're in park! We're still in park!”

Innocence huffed, and then she straightened even as a faint blush suffused her cheeks before she checked over the gages on the hub of the machine. Then she reached up and hesitantly pulled a lever downwards, carefully checking what it did and how the dials changed as she mumbled: “I was just... seeing what it did, that's all. I'm not an idiot.”

“Yes you are. Yes, you are.” Antares said flatly, and then he grumbled and said finally: “Look, basically... put it in reverse and... for the love of the Horses of Heaven, keep an eye on what's around you, we don't need to go running over any ponies... even though whenever anyone hears this thing going they scatter, since Mom is horrible on this thing.”

Innocence lightly grasped into the handlebars, flexing her claws against the grips as she muttered: “You're really such a nice pony, Antares. You should stop talking about Mutt like that behind her back. It's not like you're any better.”

“For one thing, I am a better driver than Móðer. For another, I talk like this to Luna's face. You're the one who likes to grumble about Twilight behind her back, anyway.” Antares said flatly, and Innocence grumbled as she moved the lever to reverse before twisting the throttle, and both siblings yelped as the motorcycle shot backwards, ponies that had been minding their own business scattering in all direction with yells and shouts. “Brake, brake!”

Innocence jerked the handlebars back and forth, making the motorcycle zigzag before she squeezed the brake more on accident than purpose, the bike halting with a screech of tires only a few feet away from crashing into the building across the street as both ponies were almost flung off it from the sudden stop. Then the strange unicorn cleared her throat as her brother slowly, creakily turned towards her, staring at her before Innocence carefully moved the motorcycle into drive, and mumbled: “I'll... I didn't think it would go so fast. I'll be gentler.”

“Please.” Antares wheezed, and then he glowered at his sibling even as Sin more-carefully twisted the throttle and began to rumble along up the street at an uneven pace, the stallion shaking his head out briskly before he muttered: “I guess it could be worse, though. Although you're crazy, Sin. Completely frigging crazy. And... even out, will you? And watch where you're going, this thing won't do very well if you hit a hole or a dip.”

“Stop whining, I'm fine.” Innocence grumbled grouchily, and then the strange unicorn shook herself out quickly, adding irritably as they only zigzagged a little down the road: “All these lies about you having faith in me, well... here I'm asking you to trust me and no, no, Innocence must be bad, Sin must be too dumb to-”

She turned a corner, then hurriedly seized the brakes to avoid crashing into a patrol of Nibelung, almost whiplashing herself and Antares out of their seats. The dwarves stared at them, and they stared back before Innocence twitched, leaning over the windshield and shouting: “Get out of the road or I'm going to make back bacon out of the lot of you!”

Warriors or not, the Nibelung winced and hurriedly scattered, all of them clearly knowing better than to attempt to deal with anyone from Luna Brynhild's family. Antares groaned at this, rolling his eyes before Innocence grumbled and started the motorcycle forwards again, saying grouchily: “Never realized how dumb everyone is. Walking down the center of the road... sure, there's not much carriage traffic but come on, it's a road. It's not for just. Loitering in the middle of.”

“You know, Luna gets exactly like this on the motorcycle, too. This is exactly what Dad is always complaining about and why he hates riding with her.” Antares said dryly, and then he sighed and shook his head moodily as Innocence only grumbled and continued to drive forwards, listing only a little bit back and forth.

The glossy-black unicorn was actually a little surprised, though: Innocence was picking up the motorcycle pretty quickly, not swerving all over the place and only jerking a little bit as she drove along. They made it to the gates without any major incident, but then Innocence leaned forwards, and Antares stared for a moment before he winced and ducked a bit, grabbing the safety bar inside the sidecar even as he said hurriedly: “Hey, wait, wait, don't-”

And Innocence ignored the stallion as she leaned forwards and twisted the throttle, shooting down the road and sending up a rooster tail of dust behind them as she sped towards the Everfree Forest. They rocked back and forth, bouncing painfully along the path as Innocence gritted her teeth and began to giggle as she felt a surge of terror and adrenaline and raw... freedom.

Antares shouted in horror as they hit a small rise that would normally go unnoticed: but with the speed they were at, it launched the motorcycle into the air. It was only an inch or two, and yet Antares yelled as if they had just been flung to the skies and Innocence felt like they were flying, her eyes widening, her expression gleeful before they hammered back down to the earth and she zigzagged back and forth wildly.

The stallion tried to shrink further into the sidecar as Innocence leaned forwards, daring to press the throttle harder as they accelerated down the straight path through the Everfree Forest. Then Antares' eyes widened in horror as they hit something in the road; a root, a dip, an animal, it could have been anything and yet it all would have had this same result, as they swerved wildly back and forth and Innocence lost control, her giggles turning into yells as Antares reared back, but reacted too late as the strange unicorn twisted the handlebars and squeezed the brakes.

The motorcycle overbalanced, the machine screeching as it twisted to the side and flung both ponies loose as it bounced and rolled off the path to smash through the trees, sending up a burst of leaves and detritus as it crashed down.

Antares groaned loudly from where he had landed on his face, blinking slowly as Innocence lay in a crumpled heap near the edge of the road, but in spite of the bruises, the bleeding, the probably-broken-bones, she started to giggle, a dumb smile spreading over her features as she whispered: “That was amazing.”

“Oh we're so dead.” whimpered Antares, and he staggered uneasily up to his hooves before shaking himself out... then staring in horror as the damaged sidecar fell out of where it had been tangled in some of the higher branches, crashing down with a thud at the edge of the road and rolling slowly upside down with a thunk, a mangled wheel spinning weakly through the air. “Oh. Oh no.”

Innocence finally regained her composure as Antares broke down into inaudible whimpers, and then she slowly picked herself up and gazed excitedly over at the stallion through bruised features and a bloody nose from hitting the ground face-first. “Let's do it again!”

“Are you insane?” Antares almost howled, and then he gestured violently at the side of the road, where the motorcycle was laying in a wrecked, broken pile. “Look! Look at what you did! Horses of Heaven, Sin, I trusted you, I trusted you and I shouldn't, I just should not have, because... because look at this! Look what you did!”

Innocence glared at the stallion, looking insulted before she snorted and strode forwards, rudely shoving him out of the way. Antares stumbled and opened his mouth, and then stared blankly as Innocence's horn began to glow, the mare muttering: “You are completely worthless, Tarry.”

Slowly, she rose her horn as she concentrated, and the motorcycle, the sidecar, all the broken bits and pieces of metal began to glow brightly. Then Antares staggered backwards in surprise as a strange resonance echoed out of the damaged hulk before all the different parts of the wrecked motorcycle were hefted into the air, Innocence gritting her teeth as she slowly tilted her horn to the side, guiding them to swirl with strange grace above the road.

The pieces revolved around each other, spinning calmly with the motorcycle itself the nucleus, broken handlebars and pieces of glass and the sidecar and all the other broken chunks of metal and glass and elsewise in strange and beautiful orbit around the machine. Then the aura intensified: first around the smaller pieces, swallowing them up in the light before they were yanked towards the motorcycle and clicked into place with the ease of locking a scattered puzzle back together, damage vanishing, dents popping out, scratches filling in.

In just over a minute, the motorcycle was almost completely repaired, apart from the sidecar: this danced strangely and beautifully with the vehicle itself, before they both slowly spun to lock perfectly together, leaving the repaired vehicle itself hovering in pristine condition above the road. And slowly, the ghostly aura turned into simple telekinesis as Innocence carefully lowered the motorcycle to the ground, and then she sighed in relief and smiled a little after a moment, shaking herself out briefly as she murmured: “There. Restoration... time-space magic. No need to panic like a little filly, Antares, over some spilled milk.”

The mare reached up and rubbed absently at her scaled features, then blinked and blushed deeply when she realized she wasn't polymorphed, cursing under her breath and wondering how long it had been since she'd let her disguise slip. Then she scowled when she saw Antares staring at her, opening her mouth... before the stallion said quietly: “That's amazing.”

Innocence felt a strange pride well up in her at this, and she smiled a little after a moment before shrugging and replying easily, doing her best to hide how tired the spell had made her: “Well, I am a goddess, Antares.”

“Goddess of pain-in-the-flankery.” Antares grumbled, rolling his eyes and shaking himself out as he muttered: “Now I regret I said anything. But... well... thanks, I guess. Even if you have to be a jerk about it, that's... at least we won't be tortured before we get killed.”

Sin rolled her eyes, feeling irritated... and telling herself that was just bruising that made her stomach clench, not a strange kind of pain from how Antares had stopped praising her. She shifted a little, then slowly rubbed at her face before huffing when the stallion climbed into the driver's seat, complaining: “Oh come on, it's my turn!”

“No. No. You lost your turn forever. I am never, ever, ever going to let you drive this thing again, whether you can repair it or not.” Antares said flatly, shaking his head quickly before he added finally: “But... come on. Get in the passenger seat and I guess that we can still go and find a place to... teach you about purification or something. Still don't think you'll be able to do it, though.”

Innocence looked up with surprise at this, and then she gave a faint, small smile before quickly clearing her throat and instead glaring at him, arguing: “I can so. I can do anything. I'm a-”

“Megalomaniac, I know. Let's just get going.” Antares said tiredly, and Innocence grumbled before rubbing absently at her features, then sighing and striding over to pull herself up into the sidecar, settling herself down on a seat that now felt brand new as the stallion mumbled: “I wish you'd told me you could do that sort of thing earlier. Would have saved a lot of wasted time polishing this stupid thing up. Thanks, Sin, really.”

“Shut up or I'll tell Mutt you were the one who wrecked her motorcycle, not me.” Sin grumbled, and Antares winced a bit before the mare huffed and looked away... then frowned as she thought she saw something in the trees. Her horn tingled for a moment, but then she simply shook her head when her eyes flicked through the forest and she didn't feel or sense anything further, and she figured it was simply an aftershock from the spell... magic that powerful often had a longer-lasting recoil, after all.

But as Antares and Innocence began to rumble quietly away, a Pale flickered into being and smiled faintly after the two, the ghost shaking her head slowly. Then, translucent Twilight Sparkle flickered back out of reality and turned to head in the direction of home and her partners, reassured that her children were okay, impressed by Innocence's grasp of magic... and hoping beyond hope that maybe they were finally starting to get through to the mare who was finally starting to seem more like the strong-willed young unicorn she had once been, and less like a greedy stranger in her daughter's skin.

When Antares and Innocence came back home, they found Luna calmly sitting on the deck, only looking mildly at them as the stallion brought the motorcycle up onto the lawn. He climbed out of the bike and awkwardly offered some half-crushed candies and the single energy drink that had survived the crash to the mare: even if Innocence had restored everything else, their cargo hadn't been so fortunate.

Luna took these, looked at Antares for the longest time, then stepped forwards and firmly bopped him with her horn. Antares winced and smiled lamely, and then Luna sighed tiredly and stepped back, saying wryly: “Thou art too cute for me to punish right now, and I am also too tired.”

Antares grinned in relief at this, striding past his mother... and then freezing at the door as she added pleasantly: “But know that thou art very fortunate Innocence was able to restore my precious Epona to her full virtue after 'twas crashed. I fear, Antares, that if thou had returned to me with my motorcycle in anything but better condition than when thou stole it from me, I would have cut the male off from thee for hurting my sweet steed.”

There was an awkward silence for a few moments, and then Antares looked lamely over his shoulder at Luna before he said awkwardly: “Uh. Sorry.”

“Aye. Just do not take her again in the future.” Luna turned around, smiling pleasantly before she slowly leaned in, making the stallion shrink under the glare she gave him while still maintaining her calm facade. “Or else bad things will happen to thou. Very bad things.”

Antares grinned weakly, and then he nodded lamely a few times before Luna spun around and smiled as Innocence approached awkwardly, looking uneasily up at her mother. “And thou. Did thou enjoy the ride upon Epona? I see that thou art a little bruised and tired...” Luna paused, scowling a little as she drew her eyes meditatively over her daughter. “And did thou drive my precious?”

“Nope.” Innocence lied immediately: Luna saw through it, and knew from what Twilight had shared with him that the strange unicorn was lying, but she only continued to study her daughter, wanting to see if she what she would say next.

There was silence for a few moments, and Luna felt disappointment as Innocence dropped her gaze and shuffled a little... then the strange unicorn looked up and said awkwardly: “I... it wasn't... Tarry's fault, though. The crash. It just... I guess it... I guess it was more my fault than his.”

Luna cocked her head in surprise at this, and Innocence shrugged lamely. There was silence for a few moments, and then the sapphire mare almost stated wryly: “So the crash is thy fault, but thou did not drive my steed, is that what thou art saying?”

“I... kind of. I guess.” Innocence smiled weakly after a moment, flushing a bit, her eyes darting to the side and her head tilting; so many tells at once that Luna almost felt sorry for her. But mostly, the sapphire mare just felt frustrated... even if she thought there was a little bit of hope thanks to the fact that Innocence was trying to take a little bit of responsibility.

“She's distracting.” Antares said helpfully, and Luna sighed as she clearly got the hidden message from her son: to not push the subject too much. So after a moment, the sapphire mare nodded almost grudgingly, and Antares smiled a bit as he dropped his head and murmured: “Don't worry. I'm... going to handle it better next time. Promise.”

Innocence felt a twist inside her... she told herself it was fear that Luna knew exactly what was going on. She told herself it was indigestion, and pain left over from the crash, and strain from her training; she told herself it was anything but guilt. And when Luna looked up at her, it took all the strange mare's strength not to blurt out the truth, to instead force a smile as she bowed her head forwards and mumbled: “I... I promise too.”

Luna nodded briefly after a moment, and then the sapphire mare grunted before gesturing at the two, saying finally: “Go inside then, and I shall take thee both at thy word.”

Antares grunted as he turned around and shoved the door open, and Innocence hurried past her Móðer with a sigh of relief, striding into the hall after the glossy-black unicorn.

Luna sighed, then absently closed the door with a flick of her horn before her eyes roved towards the bedroom windows. The curtains were closed, but she could still almost see Scrivener Blooms fumbling around in there, looking for some spare supplies they could pass on to Gymbr... they were admittedly kind of curious by now what the creature wanted with paper pads, after all. Neither of them really thought of Gymbr as precisely the artistic or writerly type, whether or not he was a mix of Scrivener and herself.

She smiled faintly in the direction she felt the stallion was, then turned her eyes back forwards... and was unsurprised when a Greater Nightmare flickered into being in front of her, the creature bowing its head politely as it said softly: “Mistress. You called for us?”

“Aye, I did.” Luna paused, then regarded the creature thoughtfully. “And thou decided to wait and observe until my children returned, did thou?”

The Greater Nightmare simply smiled and nodded, dropping its head respectfully. “I did, Mistress. I did not wish to interrupt your thoughts, nor your meeting with your children. And it felt as if you wished for our conversation to be more... private. Since your children were fast approaching on the... construct...”

The Greater Nightmare gave the slightest grimace, looking over its shoulder at the motorcycle, and Luna smiled wryly before she shook her head slowly and said quietly: “Well, then I shall compliment thy wisdom. And I suppose that I do wish for some... care in this task, my loyal servant. I need for thee to fetch Eventide for me, and... Scrivener Blooms, Twilight Sparkle, and myself have decided that thou must also bring us several other loyal Nightmares tonight, to become Greater Nightmares. We have a task of serious import that will require strength and finesse. Those who have already served us loyally will be sent on this mission, but their number shall have to be replaced.”

“Of course, Mistress. We are honored...” The Greater Nightmare bowed low to Luna in the dusky light, and then it hesitated before looking up and asking: “May I inquire about your new servants? My siblings and cousins and the rest of our great family of your glorious night are... unsure where we should stand in regards to them.”

Luna smiled wryly at this, then she said softly: “I am unsure myself. But I shall let all of thee know once I am more certain, is this fair?” A pause, and the Greater Nightmare nodded respectfully. “Good. For now, go about the task I have given to thee.”

The Greater Nightmare bowed, then vanished, and Luna sat for a few moments, pondering the question it had asked. She admittedly wasn't entirely sure how far her control over the former guardians of Gymbr extended, and now she was curious... so after a few moments of thought, the sapphire mare finally looked up even as she heard Scrivener's mental groan, her horn glowing as she called out to Myre as she would any other servant of the night, saying clearly: “Thy mistress desires a word with thee, Fate formed in my apparent image.”

She sat and waited calmly: even the Nightmares could take up to a minute before appearing, after all, and they could move as quick as her call could reach them with their ability to become insubstantial. Myre, on the other hoof, was a physical creature, and she had no idea how much actual magic the Fate had at her disposal: she mostly seemed to just fling corruption around, after all.

Then Luna grumbled as nothing happened after more than two minutes, before she began to turn... and then something strange tickled at her senses before she looked up-

A black comet hammered down into the yard, Luna wincing in horror as it splattered her precious motorcycle with dirt and ooze. She mouthed wordlessly, then stared as the black gunk covering the lawn quickly pulled itself together before forming into Myre, the Fate awkwardly saluting even as she swayed dizzily on the spot. “Sorry I took so long!”

“Thou... I... look at what thou did to my motorcycle! Thou dirtied it!” Luna finally snapped, gesturing violently at the vehicle, and Myre tilted her head curiously before looking over at the machine, then suddenly breaking apart into a puddle of black ooze that swarmed over the vehicle. Luna immediately panicked, shouting and flailing her front hooves violently, but a moment later Myre splashed off the other side and reformed with a grin and a pleased gesture at the now sparkling-cleaning motorcycle.

Luna stared blankly, and Myre shook herself out, a bit of dust and grass falling away from her body. “I live to serve, Luna Brynhild.”

“Thou great silly dish rag.” Luna mumbled, and then she shook her head a little before asking flatly: “By all that is holy, Myre. Does thou lack self respect as well as any apparent structure? Is there nothing thou can't do, and more importantly, nothing thou won't do?”

“I'm just doing what I was programmed to, that's all.” Myre smiled a little and dropped her head awkwardly, nodding once. “To serve, in any and all capacities.”

Luna softened a little, feeling oddly... guilty over her outburst. And then she gave a small sigh before studying the mare made of corruption and asking curiously: “Myre... how did thou get here?”

“I can catapult myself long distances.” Myre shrugged and smiled again, and the two studied each other before the Fate said finally: “I'm keyed to you now, as Mistress Hel ordered. We... myself, Dusk, Imago, and Twilight Shadow... we're supposed to obey you and protect you, from anything and everything. Our full power is at your disposal, and we'll do anything you please. Yes, anything as in... anything. We have to, and... I, for one, want to.”

Luna studied Myre for a few moments, shifting a little: it was so hard to tell whether or not the entity was being honest, or if Myre was just reflecting what Luna wanted to hear. Admittedly, she had the occasional awkward thought about 'testing' Myre's dedication in ways that made Scrivener Blooms groan... although really, Luna didn't think Scrivy would whine or protest for long. But thinking of Scrivy brought up something else that Luna had meant to ask... “Why is it that thou and Scrivener Blooms are both composed of corruption, but he has a body and thou art merely... slime?”

“I am not slime.” Myre grumbled a little, and then she shook her head and shrugged, raising a hoof: it transformed in a ripple of dark ooze into a claw, and Myre flexed this absently before she murmured: “But I'm not sure. It's not like... ice and water, Luna.”

“'Tis so, and 'tis not. 'Tis just strange.” Luna retorted, and then she sighed a little and shook her head before saying moodily: “What makes it truly strange to me, Myre, is that Scrivy was easily able to manipulate thee into anything he desired, quite literally. Yet he cannot bend and shape and change his own corruption with such ease. And yet thou could not do the same to him.”

Myre only smiled and shrugged, then she hesitated before suggesting: “When Gymbr first spoke of you to us, we were clearly all meant to work together... maybe I was designed to augment Scrivener's powers as well as Gymbr's. But again, we were simply... told to serve. And when you turned against Gymbr instead of working with him, he rushed to make us stronger and better... to...”

Myre bit her lip, and Luna smiled faintly, shaking her head. She knew just from that look alone what she was about to say: that Gymbr had turned his attention to Innocence, to the one pony who he had managed to drag into his darkness... something I shall not ever forgive him for, no matter how long or short it takes us to... restore our daughter to whom she once was. “Aye. Well... tell me about this, Myre. I did not realize that thou wert designed for... us.”

“I was. Dusk was designed to control and produce Tyrant Wyrms, I think, and Twilight Shadow's role was to administrate and act as sort of a... magic receptacle, a charge-point. And Imago has her own army.” Myre shrugged and smiled over at Luna. “I'm... glad to be fulfilling my purpose. I think both... because I'm programmed to, and because I think... I'd like to serve you anyway, Luna Brynhild. You and Scrivener Blooms...”

She looked down and laughed a little, and there was silence for a few moments before Luna smiled and said kindly: “Perhaps we should test thy theory... our theory, rather. Go and ambush Scrivener Blooms. See if thou can poke him into working with thee.”

Myre brightened at this, then she nodded firmly and ran forwards, Luna blinking in surprise as the mare ran straight at her before bursting apart into streams of dark ooze that flooded against and around her body, spilling over her with a caressing warmth that made the sapphire mare shiver in strange pleasure before Myre splashed past and slid quickly beneath the door.

Then Luna grinned over her shoulder, turning to open it and trot quickly after the creature, wanting to see what was going to happen even as Twilight Sparkle sighed inside their minds. The half-warning came a little too late for Scrivener, though, who had gotten absorbed into reading old stories and looking through old sketchbooks before he winced when something warm and wet and tingling slid up along his back, pressing against him before a pair of forelegs wrapped around him as something licked his ear, then whispered into it: “Luna told me to work with you. She has many things in mind.”

Scrivener stared off at the wall, and then he slowly, carefully reached up and untwined Myre's forelegs from around him, clearing his throat loudly before he said dryly: “I'm somehow sure that's not what Luna had in mind. I mean. It probably is but. It probably isn't at the same time so. Stop that. You're gross.”

“You don't really mean that.” Myre smiled as she sat back complacently all the same, the two looking at each other before the bedroom door opened and Luna leaned in with an amused expression. And Myre nodded as she became more serious, but still gazed at Scrivener with warmth, with loyalty, with... things he liked to see. Things that gave him pleasure to see, much as he denied it, as the mare made of corruption said calmly: “Your control over the Clay of Prometheus is almost absolute... even over me, your control's powerful whether I serve you or not. And I was just explaining to Luna-”

“Yeah, I can feel all the details filling in, thanks.” Scrivener said after a moment, raising a Talon as he glanced at the soulstone-horned mare, their eyes and minds meeting... and the stallion shivered at some of the mental images she shared with him before he grabbed his face and muttered: “Our kids are right in the other room. Also, Twilight's in our heads and I can feel her getting irritated with you.”

“Oh shush. Twilight Sparkle needs to loosen up. 'Tis not like she has to worry about disease, after all.” Luna paused, then looked thoughtfully over Myre. “Besides, I have heard that mud can be very hygienic. And pleasant when properly applied. There are mud baths at the spa, are there not?”

Scrivener slowly lowered his head, and Myre shrugged amiably before the Fate returned her eyes to Scrivener Blooms. “I live to serve, and I was designed to serve. And I think that we were meant to work together. Or maybe, I was meant to help serve as a link between you and Luna Brynhild.”

“Because, you know, it's not like Luna and I are already way too close. Literally, figuratively... every-other-atively.” Scrivener said dryly, gesturing pointedly at the sapphire winged unicorn, who shrugged meditatively and absently reached up to poke at the scars along her breast before she touched her eye thoughtfully, and the stallion sighed a little as he said almost pleadingly: “Don't. Don't bring that up, please.”

“Well, it bothers me! We are so close, as thou hast said... but...” Luna huffed, rubbing almost convulsively at her eye. “Then why is it thou bears such a scar upon thy face and I do not?”

“Because Scrivener Blooms got that scar before your soul-link was made.” Myre answered, raising her head with a smile, and both ponies stared at her before the winged unicorn of corruption blushed and lowered her head lamely. “I apologize. I was eager and... I can... read into you both a little. That, on top of what we were taught about you from Gymbr...”

“Gymbr... well, of course Gymbr would know...” Luna halted, frowning a little as she rubbed slowly at her face. “But 'tis... a strange fact for a creature such as he to share with his servants. I do not know why he would teach thee our histories...”

Myre shrugged a little, and when Luna and Scrivener both looked at her curiously, the Fate answered finally: “He wanted us to know everything about you. He wanted us to... be able to recite your histories. And each Fate, he... gave us all a new past. I was made to memorize your entire life, Luna Brynhild, and Dusk was told to memorize Celestia's, and Twilight Shadow... well, you get the idea. He almost wanted us to become you.”

“Oh, that's not creepy at all.” Scrivener said dryly, and Luna grunted in agreement as Myre shrugged awkwardly. Then the charcoal stallion sighed a little and muttered: “I guess that kind of fits Gymbr's whole... thing, though. He is kind of... us, just... evil.”

“Evil.” Luna grumbled and nodded all the same, much as she loathed the blanket term. There was silence for a few moments between the three, and then the sapphire mare shook her head out and poked at her eye a few more times, complaining: “Scrivy did not get all these scars after we tightened our link further. I should have inherited that great Celestia's hoof tattoo as well.”

“You are the only pony in the entire universe of ever that would be whining about not having a giant scar on your face. This thing is no fun for me, you know, it still gets all tender now and then. You know, especially when you step on my face while whining about Celestia and how she's bigger than you and you feel it proves your point by showing how her hoofprint is larger than yours.”

Luna glowered at him, and then she ordered Myre: “Punch Scrivy. Or bop him. Or do something else to punish him terribly.”

Scrivener huffed loudly at this, and then he winced when Myre grinned before the mare pounced on him, turning into a black wave a moment before contact that washed over the stallion's body: and just her touch like this set every nerve of his alight and on edge, made his muscles flex and his body tense up as he arched his back, and if not for the visible ripples of her corruption-composed body, it would have almost looked as if she had just merged with him... a moment before her upper half seemed to form itself up out of Scrivener's back just so she could firmly slap his rump with one front hoof, saying clearly: “Naughty colt.”

The stallion mouthed wordlessly, then shivered a bit – and oh, how he hated part of that was with thrills of pleasure! – as he turned to glare at the mare that looked almost as if she was sticking out of his back as Luna grinned in delight, then licked her lips slowly. “Scrivener Blooms, just think of all the things we can do with this wondrous creature!”

“Uh. How about no?” Scrivener winced at this, leaning back and shaking his head hurriedly as Myre laughed and turned around on top of him, then finally half-solidified... but her coat remained deep obsidian as she laid herself over Scrivener's back, reaching up to teasingly stroke a hoof under his muzzle as Luna stepped forwards with her eyes half-lidded. “Stop. Stop that, both of you. You're both complete creepers. Seriously.”

“But we interact so well!” Myre smiled slightly, and then she suddenly sprung off Scrivener and landed on Luna with a ripple, her body twisting itself around to sprawl over the mare's form as the two grinned widely, almost perfectly-mirroring each other... and Luna shivered a bit. She felt heat, and passion, and lust, and... oh, hunger, too, because Myre felt almost like Scrivener to her. It was like her touch along Scrivener had swept up some of his delicious corruption and... and...

She felt Myre's hooves gently grasp into her neck, massaging along her as the Fate nuzzled into her mane, pushed her body down against her, and she felt... almost a bleeding. A warmth, a deep, long-longed for warmth as corruption rubbed along her body, massaged into her skin, so... wonderful. So delightful. So... so...

Luna shivered, then suddenly bucked Myre backwards and off, breathing hard as dark veins pulsed through her body for a moment, and it took all her will and strength to fight it off as Scrivener stepped forwards with a growl. But Myre only looked confused, raising her head and saying slowly: “I was just giving you what you wanted, wasn't I? I provide. I serve. And I can transfer Scrivener's power to you, and yours back to Scrivener... I understand now. I was meant to be a conduit between you... to support, and empower you both... to feed Luna's hungers with Scrivener's essence.”

“Aye. Aye, perhaps... that is what thy purpose is.” Luna shivered a little, and then she gritted her teeth. “Servant, toy, champion... weapon, and tool, and... needle... Scrivy, I... I need my needle. I have not needed it for a long time but... I n-need...”

She shivered violently again, and Myre hesitantly stepped forwards, but Luna looked up at her and snapped: “Get out!”

Myre winced, then spun around and bolted through the door, and Scrivener gritted his teeth before he turned towards their things. He could feel Luna's hunger and needs, and his own primal passion was rising, but they were both fighting it, fighting it, fighting the-

Luna leapt onto his back, unable to stop herself, and Scrivener cursed as he was shoved down before he arched his back with a shout as Luna's teeth bit into his neck. She couldn't resist. She couldn't stand it anymore, the hunger, the hunger was burning her in full force and she needed, she needed, she needed it, needed it needed it needed it neededitneededitneeditneedit-

His black blood, concentrated corruption, flowed down her throat, swallowed greedily once, twice, five times, seven times, more; it was so delicious, and oh, the hunger demanded more and more, and she could feel her body rippling and flexing as it ran down her chin, mixed with drool and saliva as her eyes glowed and she gave in, she gave in because her whole body was on fire, every nerve was alight, and she could feel Scrivener flexing and growling beneath her and fighting to throw her off... but it wasn't her that he was fighting. It was himself, as the same ecstasy was channeled back into him and Luna gasped, inhaling the poison, feeling it burning her lungs but in the most delight, wonderful, welcome of ways as... as...

She wrenched her head back and gasped again, and then she trembled and stared down, black blood dripping from her mouth as she caught herself, realized what she was doing even as the hungers whispered eagerly for more... even as she felt her body flexing, her muscles bulging, the craving so... so intense. And yet all the same, it had been dulled, and worse... she felt Twilight in her mind, crying out to them both, and Scrivener had his face buried into the ground and black tears were running from his eyes as he shivered and clutched his features and...

Slowly, Luna looked to the side, and she saw Innocence and Antares there, both staring at her. Innocence didn't know what was going on, but Antares was looking at her pleadingly, half-posed as if he was ready to pounce on her... and Luna trembled before she shoved herself away from Scrivener and bared her fangs at them before snapping: “It is nothing! Get gone! Be gone! 'Twas nothing but... but a moment of... cease thy damnable staring at me, I am fine, we are fine!”

“Okay, Mom. We'll talk later.” Antares said quietly, reaching up to cover Innocence's muzzle as she only stared and trembled, not knowing what was going on, looking like a scared little filly. Antares kept her quiet, though, kept her from blurting out anything as he pulled her gently backwards, before he sighed softly and said quietly: “Mom... Dad... I love you, okay? No matter what.”

“I... Antares...” Luna trembled a bit, but her son was already stepping backwards, pulling his sister away before he quietly pushed the door closed.

They were left in silence... a silence in which the cravings... didn't subside, but became manageable. Especially as that hunger and frenzy and that... that gleeful idiot desire was beaten savagely down by shame and pain and... stomach twists, even if... even if...

Oh yes, there was pleasure. And there was power. And there was the reminder that no matter what else... she had never... she would never... be free of the grips of her.... weakness. They had been having such fun, such enjoyment! But... in a matter of seconds, when Myre had injected Scrivener's corruption into her, made perhaps a little more potent, a little more delightful from all the... the arousal and the teasing and the hungers, Luna had lost herself just long enough... hadn't been able to hold on... had... had...

She trembled and reached up, covering her face as she dropped herself against a dresser, shivering violently before she snarled and rubbed wildly at her mouth, smearing black blood over her features as she tried to wipe it off. And Scrivener Blooms was only laying on his stomach, staring silently, hating what he'd felt. Hating how... how part of him delighted in Luna's... suffering. How part of him reveled in her weakness. How he was her drug, he was her addiction, and some sick, twisted part of him enjoyed the fact that she would always... always have such a deep hunger for that dark stuff running around inside his body that... she would do anything to get it. And he liked that. How could a pathetic sadomasochist like him not, though?

There was silence for a few moments, and then Luna Brynhild reached up and touched her features before she whispered: “Scrivy, I... thou shall need to... prepare a needle for me. A vial of.. diluted corruption, to keep the cravings at bay until... until...”

“Once a drunk, always a drunk.” Scrivener muttered, slowly pushing himself to his hooves, and Luna snarled at him... but there wasn't real anger there. There was a lot of fear, and a lot of pain, and all kinds of self-loathing but... there wasn't a lot of anger, no.

They looked at each other for a few moments, and then the mare's prosthetic horn gave a quiet pulse before Luna clenched her eyes shut. She hugged herself, and hated the strength that flowed through her body before she sighed and whispered quietly: “If thou wants to be beaten, Scrivy, thou shall have to do better than that.”

The charcoal stallion laughed faintly, and then he looked away before he said quietly: “We were doing so goddamn well. And then Myre came along and...”

“'Tis not her fault. It hurts to say that, but she did not know... it makes me... weak. It makes me nothing but a pathetic, stupid, weak whore!” Luna spat, and Scrivener Blooms looked at her for a moment before he strode over and reached up, silently grasping her beneath the chin and tilting her head upwards, their eyes meeting for a few long moments.

“And you'll have to do better than that if you want me to hit you, Luna. We're... we're better than this. Feeding off each other, and better than hitting each other. We have... Twilight to think about, and Antares and... Innocence.” Scrivener said quietly, and Luna sighed softly as she nodded a little before the stallion gently pulled her up to her hooves, the two looking into one-another's eyes before he said quietly: “We'll keep your needle on hoof for the next while and... just... we'll be careful. You can usually handle your cravings, it's just... she got you right... right where it...”

“Pleases. Not where it hurts.” Luna smiled faintly, and then she looked down and nodded briefly before sighing softly, murmuring: “As if we were not already against enough odds as it is. One misstep by a servant who just desires to see us smile and... but I suppose we were playing with fire. Or rather, with... poison, to begin with.”

Scrivener only smiled faintly, and then he reached up and silently rubbed at the already-healed mark on his neck before reaching forwards and embracing her silently. And Luna sighed as she dropped her head against him, both shivering at and reveling in the feeling of his pulse against her lips, loving and hating and worshiping and loathing all at once the dark blood running through her husband's veins.

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