• Published 11th Sep 2013
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Second Princess of the Night - Senyu



With King Sombra gone, is Equestria truely safe from harm? Or will another foe as old as the Crystal Kingdom itself appear now that the dark unicorn's position of evil is vacant? What new danger will threaten the land and the Elements of Harmony?

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Act II - Chapter 20

One week later…


Ruby cracked her neck, deciding afterward that it would be a good time to take a break from her reading. Saving her spot, she set the book aside and stood onto her hooves, stretching out the soreness that had accumulated from laying in one position for the night; much like she had done every night since the wagon full of books had been delivered.

She had been initially apprehensive at the amount of reading material Night Walker had procured for her, but discovered quickly she had a ravenous appetite for reading that was hard to sate. She dove into the books like a fish in water, and absorbed everything she read. In truth, she found that reading was now one of—if not her favorite—things to do; a fact Night Walker had confirmed for her after walking in and finding she had read three books in only a day and a half.

While she was well over halfway through the material and in a particularly interesting section regarding enchantments, she felt the need to take a break and get some much needed social interaction. She had felt bad locking herself away in her alcove and not mingling with her ponies as much as she wanted to, even if they all of them had expressed their understanding how important it was for her to study, and even support her isolation.

Ruby didn’t know how many times the adults had scolded the young ones to not bother her during her research. But to her pleasure, they relented now and then when the children convinced them to at least allow them to bring her some food, and managed to sneak in a few minutes of time with her.

Though whenever they did, Ruby took her time eating the fruit they brought her. Had she not forced herself to eat them out of politeness, some of it would have surely spoiled from being left unattended in a corner. While the taste of the fruit they gave her wasn’t bad per say, it just seemed lacking to her. She couldn’t place a hoof on it, but anything she had eaten saved that bowl of blood seemed tasteless. It wasn’t that they had no taste whatsoever, just that they seemed bland. But she ate them anyways, unable to deny such thoughtful gifts.

What was more odd for her though, was that since drinking the blood, she had yet to feel hunger but could still eat the food they brought to her. It was like constantly being stuck between a state of feeling satisfied in appetite but still being able to eat more. In all honesty, she doubted her hunger levels would have changed much had she eaten not eaten at all.

However, despite her desire to spend time with them, she had diligently put time into relearning all she could of magic, and to devising a spell to reverse the princess’s magic. But she could only do it for so long, and decided now would be a good time to take a much needed break.

After all, what kind of a princess would I be if I couldn’t even say hello to everypony now and then?

Looking over the pile of books she had organized three piles that were marked as ‘have read’, ‘read again’, and ‘yet to be read’, Ruby gave her wings a quick series of flaps to shake the stiffness in her muscles, and proceeded out into the main cavern.

The underground sanctuary had become very much of a home in such a short time, becoming more familiar each time she walked about its expanse. It was hard to believe she had only been released from the Royal Sisters in little over of a week, yet it felt like she had been here much longer.

Everypony had seemed to have settled comfortably in their temporary home, now having stocked and organized supplies, pitched tents and blankets, and even a rug here or there to spruce up the cavern floor. The mysterious benefactor that Night Walker was in contact with had delivered more items a few days later, bringing in various items such as the things that now adorned the cave that brought about a more homely feeling.

Ruby had questioned if it was wise to risk contact with a pony that wasn’t one of them, but was assured by Night Walker that his contact would not betray them to the Crowns. He simply left the matter that a pony of his status would not risk the benefits of working with them against the loss of his status in society for being discovered working with them, or the trouble that would come with angering a Vampony Lord.

While Ruby had initially felt appalled at the hinted violent and no doubt unpleasant act that would be delivered onto whoever it was, it left quickly at the reasoning of why it would needed to be done. She would be lying if she said that she didn’t feel her blood boil somewhat at the idea of trusting a pony only to have them backstab her and her ponies later.

At times she wondered how much the Royal Sisters had tampered with her, figuring that it was their doing for the internal split sides of her struggling against her thoughts and actions. But she need only remind herself that she was a vampony, and grew to accept that sometimes unpleasant things needed to be done to survive; an attitude that thankfully was beginning to overcome her impulse that caused knots to develop in her chest anytime something besides sunshine and rainbows would become the topic.

The internal struggling was becoming less and less each day as she willed herself back into her old behaviors before being sealed, cornering whatever the sisters had inserted or removed from her against a metaphorical wall. In fact, that part of herself felt much tinnier than it was on the first day she had awaken, but still found it was very much alive whenever the matter of her subjects came up.

As she made her way, she looked about the cavern happily at the sight of her ponies going about their nightly routine. A few were carefully walking down the slope from the exit to the outside; fruit packed in their saddlebags from the surrounding forest. Some were going through supplies, checking through their stocks and deciding what would be preserved and what would be handed out. And besides the ones who seemed to be in relaxed conversation or otherwise, the rest were deeply involved in combat practice.

Night Walker had said that fighting was in their blood, having been the descendents of ancient warriors that the vamponies had been revered as, and needed to further connect to their roots as well as hone skills that they would no doubt need in the near future. He would often delve into stories by request at the prowess of their ancestors, how they were the masters of the night and could not be bested in any war in which they fought while in numbers.

As usual and much to Ruby’s dismay, such stories did not bring any memories back to her. It seemed she could only recall fragmented various facts of the world rather than her interactions with it, which further confirmed on how quickly she grasped her reading material covering magic. It was like recalling memories of a past life in startling clarity as the words almost read themselves to her. But seeing the bat ponies train at first hoof, it made her wonder just how much more proficient they were in combat back in the day than they were now.

While they did not have weapons to practice with, they seemed very adept from hoof to hoof fighting to hunting; the latter being more stressed for in practice from Night Walker. It wasn’t that they were bad at it, only that he forewarned that stealth and ambush would be very crucial for them to secure their previous positions in the world.

It was when Ruby was transfixed on watching two bat ponies duel in the air above the cavern floor that she heard the soft footsteps of a pony approaching her from behind.

“I never believed it growing up, but it seems all these generations of keeping tradition alive is finally paying off,” the mare said behind her.

Turning her head, Ruby saw Lilly Wing standing next to her, also watching the aerial dogfight. Happy to see the elder sister again, Ruby spoke. “Ebon Wing had mentioned that you all were practicing back when you all lived in the Royal Sister's town. Did the princess’s really allow such a thing?”

“They did and didn’t,” Lilly Wing replied. “For whatever reason, Princess Celestia allowed some practicing, even having a member of the guard teach a class on basic counter attacks. I kind of remember somepony explaining that it was to keep some familiarity in our heritage. But I found it weird how she and the guard would behave when they learned we were practicing things like hunting.”

Lily Wing laughed suddenly as she recalled childhood memories. “The guards would always throw a fuss when they caught us in alleyways sneaking up to each other. Even more so when a filly or colt was brave enough to try sneaking up on a guard. Our parents would always scold us for doing such things in public, and especially on Princess Celestia’s personnel.”

Her reminiscent face took on a more distant look as her happy mood was dampened somewhat. “I would remember the how some of them would look at us whenever we did stuff like that. Not all of them had it, but some held a look of contempt in their eyes. Like… there was something wrong with us…”

Ruby looked worryingly towards her, eating herself even more at the fact she had been locked away and unable to help them. But just as soon as Lily Wing’s smile faltered, it was back up again, her cheerful attitude she always managed to have except when worrying about her sister. “But I guess it makes sense since we’re related to vamponies. To be honest, a lot of things now make sense. I always wondered what so different about us that would prevent the Princess from allowing us to leave the town.”

Lilly Wing stiffened slightly when she felt Ruby put a hoof onto her shoulder, and looked to her questioningly.

“There’s nothing wrong with you,” Ruby said warmly. “The only thing that is, is what has been removed from each of you.”

Lilly Wing was taken aback from such a personal gesture from Ruby. As much as Ruby kept proving to her and the others, and as much as Lily Wing kept telling herself that she was a vampony, Lily Wing still had a hard time accepting the princess inwardly. Lilly Wing had grown all her life as a batpony, and had learned in time that bat ponies are the only ones you can fully trust. It was difficult to suppress her initial feelings whenever she looked at Ruby who lacked the leathery wings, tufted ears, and everything else that was so familiar. And she had to forcefully tell herself over and over that she was not like all the other non-bat ponies she had met, and was most definitely not like the Princesses who while always put on a friendly face, still always emitted an off feeling Lilly Wing felt towards her and her kind.

But the more she interacted with Ruby, the more she grew over those initial feelings of hesitation and resentment. Every day, she was slowly becoming the beacon of hope that Lilly Wing had feared would never arrive in their lives. However, when she realized she had not said anything, and had been staring wordlessly at Ruby for some moments, she quickly bowed her head. “T-Thank you... for coming to our aid.”

“Please, you don’t have to bow,” Ruby said as she gently guided her back upwards. “I may be a princess, but I am a Vampony Princess. And as such, I don’t expect my subjects to act like that.”

“Your memories are coming back?” Lilly Wing asked hopefully.

“No,” Ruby replied as she turned back to watch the practicing bar ponies. “But Night Walker has been filling me in what we were like during our rule. Turns out that vampony leaders are in combat as much as their subjects are, treating each other as equals on the field of battle. Apparently, it’s only in very formal times do we act so regally.”

Lilly Wing laughed at that. “I guess that’s good to hear. I would hate to think of you as a princess like the sisters who seem to let others do the work for them.”

The two remained quiet for some time as they looked out to their kin, silently observing in interest whenever one would get the upper hoof on another in a duel. Eventually, feeling of the need to say something with the princess nearby, Lilly Wing coughed and decided to ask what had been going on in every other ponies mind.

“So… how is the research for the spell coming along?”

Ruby sighed in exhaustion. “It’s going, but I’m still not there yet. I haven’t even touched on any material that could even remotely do what the princesses had done to all of you.”

Lilly Wing waited patiently for her to continued, but grew concerned at the thoughtful yet worried face Ruby held as she stared off. When it was clear she had been lost in her own thoughts, and had no indicator on when she would come back, Lily Wing asked hesitantly, “Is something bothering you?”

“Hmm? Oh… no, not really,” Ruby said after snapping out of her mind. “It’s just all this studying is getting to me, that’s all,” Ruby put out a weak smile, but its effect was lost.

Lilly Wing had a feeling that she was holding back, something she was hesitant to say to her, something she had seen many times from the faces of her elders whenever they dodged difficult questions like if she would be ever allowed outside the town. At first thinking it would not be wise to press her further, she recalled how Ruby had just mentioned such formalities were lost on vamponies, and that they were supposed to be equals in the field of battle. And from what she knew, comrades in arms did not let others suffer silently in whatever ailed them.

Taking in a deep breath for bravery, and hoping she wouldn’t receive a backlash at pushing things, Lilly Wing asked, “What’s really bothering you?”

“What do you mean?”

“There’s something else,” Lilly Wing said, daring to even narrow her eyes at her to send the point home that she wasn't going to be able to hide it from her. “You’re worried about something. Can you please tell me?” While she was being assertive in the matter, she did not forget to at least be somewhat respectful..

Ruby was about to continue with the feign, but the stern glare from Lily Wing convinced her otherwise that she was not going to get away with it. Not even thinking on how easy it would be to use her royalty to tell her off, Ruby sighed and let her head hang down slightly.

“I guess… I’m just worried that the spell will work…”

Taken aback in surprise, Lily Wing had to find her voice before asking, “W-What do you mean? Why would you be bothered on it working? Isn’t turning us back into vamponies a good thing?”

“But that’s the thing,” Ruby said as she lifted her head. “Do you really want to become vamponies?”

“Of course!” Lilly Wing answered immediately. “That’s why all of us are here. We risked our lives to escape to have a chance at restoring our heritage. Why wouldn’t we want to become vamponies once again?”

“Because… you will have to drink blood…”

Lily Wing became quiet, taking the deeper meaning of that sentence in full. In truth, the idea of possibly killing another caused her chest to tighten, but another resolve overpowered it easily as she puffed out her chest with a deep breath.

“Princess Ruby,” she said, ignoring her known dislike for the full title in casual conversation. “I know you know of how we beat ponies are currently living. And I understand why you are concerned for us on that regard. But everypony knew full well of the things necessary to be vamponies. Each of us knew exactly what we were getting into, and still chose to come because we believed it better than living the alternative.”

Lily Wing looked Ruby dead in the eye, her amber slits holding a fierce determination as she spoke. “We know this isn’t something easy, and ponies will die because of it. But we’re not going to sit by and watch ourselves fade away into history. We’ve already been lost to who we once were already…”

Before Ruby could respond, the shrieking of a filly in joy cut through the cavern. Turning both their heads, they watched as one of the stallions was tickling the belly of the children, pretending to be a monster chasing them about the cavern. Ruby looked to them sorrowfully as she mustered her next sentence.

“But… what about them? Is it right for them to have to been thrown into that kind of life? Even if it’s better than what it was before, can we really put blood onto their hooves?”

Lily Wing was silent for a long time as they watched the group of children play, eventually ganging up and tackling the stallion onto the ground. Although they were using hunter and prey tactics on their larger foe, bringing him down with commendable precision for their age, their smiling and laughing faces made it hard to imagine them performing said action with the goal of not tickling back their opponent, but instead to kill.

Eventually Lily Wing spoke, and it was quiet as she did.

“It’s funny…” she started off slowly. “I overheard one of them asking their parents when they were going to go back home, that they were missing their bed and other friends.” She smirked at the sight of the stallion breaking free and running a short distance, only to be tackled again by the group of children with fits of laughter.

“We brought them with us because we believed it was the best decision for them. We convinced ourselves it was for their future, so they wouldn’t have to live a life locked behind walls lined with spears. We wanted them to see the world… even if the world resented them for who they were.”

Swallowing a tightness that had built in her throat, Lily Wing finished confidently, but even then her uncertainty of it was heard in the tone of her voice. “Their vamponies… and that kind of blood that spills others already runs through their veins. And as awful as it might sound… I prefer the loss of another to that of my sister.”

The two of them watched the children in silent thought as they eventually hopped off the stallion, laughing all the while as he ruffled their manes and commented on their hunting skills. Eventually one of them turned to Lily Wing and Ruby’s direction, giving out a happy shout at finally seeing the princess outside of her alcove. Once the rest of them had caught noticed of one of them rushing towards her, the rest followed in suit, their happy facing quickly surrounding Ruby in a bombardment of questions.

Eventually, Ruby and Lily Wing got them all to calm down from their initial excitement, reassuring them that Ruby would be able to spend some time with them before locking herself into deep study once again. It was then that Ruby got the idea of a way to spend some quality time with them, and still give her a chance to do her new favorite pastime.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Night Walker watched with a critical eye on how the bat ponies were performing combat wise, throwing a word of advice to them now and then between the duels. They were fairly skilled in his opinion, but still lacked much experience they would need in real combat. He needed them trained as quickly as possible, least their current hideout be discovered by the scouring forces of the Royal Sister’s.

His benefactor had revealed that they were searching the land fervently for Twilight Sparkle, but there were only rumors of her disappearance outside of the scouting forces. Much to Night Walker’s surprise, they had not made an official announcement of her kidnapping, possibly to keep everypony from a state of panic he reasoned. But given the state of Equestria, he understood such startling news would be met grievously from the country, even potentially causing mass panic at the idea of a princess going missing.

But the word was spreading nonetheless, causing a slow but steady build of unrest within Equestria. Twilight Sparkle’s absence was not to be taken quietly it seemed, and the news would only grow as time wore on. Eventually, he concluded that the growing situation of fear and worry could be put to use later down the road.

But for now, he only needed to bide his time until he could muster a sizable force of vamponies before reestablishing a hoof hold in Equestria. With the combined strength of Equestria and the Crystal Kingdom, he would have to move carefully and precisely. While a group of vamponies was no laughing matter, they could still be defeated by the more advanced magic of today’s age and the princesses, both of them a force to be contended with.

He had briefly flipped through all the books he had given to Ruby, verifying all of it would be useful to her and skimming the latest collective knowledge of spells. He had made it a point during his first few months of release to ascertain the state of today’s world and its magic, both of them exceeding his expectations with new marvels everyday that surprised him. Even the cities were far above that than the olden times, housing sprawling expanse of stone and concrete that reminded him of a jungle of rock.

Speaking of which, Night Walker thought to himself. I should check on Ruby’s progress.

Excusing himself from the senior bat ponies that helped oversee the training, Night Walker made his way to Ruby’s alcove. During his previous checkups, he was amazed at how quickly she poured through the tomes, doing what should have been a months’ worth of reading in only a week. Her speedy re-absorption of magical spells and theories only pleased him that things were progressing ahead of schedule. It was in hindsight, that the magical book he had left her to help bide time and distract her during her fledgling phase was probably devoured immediately. He had greatly underestimated her abnormal reading skills, but was confident that the next time he introduced the book to her, its quality of content would keep her occupied longer.

As he drew closer to the her room, her voice could be faintly heard speaking aloud, accompanied soft giggles now and then.

“-and Sir Feather Man dashed through the wood, nimbly dodging between the various monsters and plants that swiped at him for their nightly dinner…”

Curiously, Night Walker peeked around the corner of the alcove, and saw a sight that might have melted the heart of any other. Ruby was sitting with her legs tucked beneath her, her horn glowing softly as she held the levitating a book in front of her, while around her, was every filly and colt that resided in the cave, each snuggled up against each other and to her as close as possible.

Some lay flat beside her front hooves, their heads resting against her forelegs as they looked at the floating book, others laid beneath Ruby’s outstretched wings, snuggled beneath a blanket of feathers as they looked to the ceiling in imagination to her spoken words. And one of the smallest of the group was standing on her back, their head resting against her glowing horn as the colt attempted to look down at book from his vantage point. In fact, the only ponies who weren’t pressing themselves to the alicorn was a colt and filly laying in front of her, the filly intently watching her face as she spoke.

“Oh! Hello, Night Walker, I didn’t hear you coming,” Ruby said when she took notice of the him peeking in, causing the head of everypony to turn his way.

Tossing on a smile, he strode purposefully into the alcove. “I see we’re having a lovely reading session here.”

Ruby blushed slightly, hoping he wasn’t upset that she was spending her time reading to the small group instead of studying. “I was just taking a quick break from my research, and thought the children could use something to pick their spirits up. Spending so much time in a cave like this can be a little much for them.”

To her relief, Night Walker chuckled as he replied. “Do not worry, you are only doing your duties as Princess of the Vamponies. You are looking after our kin.” Ruby blushed even more at the compliment. The children watched in silence at the exchange between the two, Lunar Pearl especially who started off with a blank expression that slowly turned into a suppressed grin as she hid her mouth between her hooves, thinking she knew exactly what was going on between the two.

“Well, I wouldn’t want to interrupt the story telling anymore,” Night Walker announced as he turned to leave. “But when you are done, I would like to find me so we can continue with your studying.”

“Do you have another book for me?” Ruby eagerly.

“No, what I am going to teach you on cannot be found in any book,” he said with a sly grin. “With how much you covered already, I think it’s time we re-familiarized yourself on a very important ability.”

“And what’s that?” she asked, growing more curious by the moment.

His lips parted faintly at the prospect that another step was about to be taken on restoring his vampony subjects to their former glory, only having a little ways more to go before his work would see fruition. He replied to Ruby’s question with two words.

“Soul Sight.”

Author's Note:

Two chapters in one day!? My muse must be really working now!

Anyways, I promise I will stop harping so much on "oh noes the children!" and Twi's/Rubes morally struggle. By now she is getting used to it and starting to think more like a vampony where she needs to. But that's not to say some part of her won't be easy to get rid of, maybe even developing into the plot later. Also some coming chapters on her learning more about Soul Sight and vampony magic, so a bit of world building for this 'verse on the way.

In addition, Lunar Pearl may have gotten the wrong idea of why Ruby was blushing to Night Walker. Perhaps envisioning a budding romance? Let me know if a CMC themed chapter with Lunar Pearl and a few other batpony fillys/colts trying to set them up together would be in your interest. It may be a bit of a shout out to Heart's and Hooves' episode, but I'll try to keep it original. No love poisons. I can see Lunar Pearls logic now, "But they've been apart for over a thousand years!"

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