• Published 11th Sep 2013
  • 15,889 Views, 1,377 Comments

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 27

A merchant has come to our home, along with a dozen ponies that towed his wagons. He claimed he had wares and weapons for us that we would be interested in, and wished to demonstrate them for us. So we made room in the grounds clearing before the woods, and allowed him to set up his performance. It was amusing how his staff never knew quite where to keep their eyes, always darting between us and the woods, almost as if they thought they had a chance to flee should we chose them as dinner that night.

The merchant however, despite his inner fear that was quite prevalent, held a strong front and charismatic face. Most ponies that do not react respectively do not live long, but he was well aware of his lines and when to not cross. Night Walker actually had taken an interest in him, and I cannot say if it is for good or for ill on the merchants part yet.

Though his demonstration was only an hour long, he piqued our interest at what he was offering. Top of the line bows for the unicorns that were stocked with a newly fashioned type of arrows that held freezing properties, hoof-attached blades high in quality, and even cloud containers that would hold low charged thunderclouds. However innovated or crafty he was in theft on acquiring such items, we bought some of his products.

Regardless their applications and advances in technology however, I felt some unease at dealing with the merchant, and even more so at his offer to return when he creates the next latest product. Night Walker was more than happy to offer him a return visit, but I wonder if he saw the merchant as I did. His cunning eyes that calculated each move, product, and pony, or the hunger within in soul that was more prominent than most I have seen.

This pony is dangerous, even if he is beneficial. I have no doubt he would switch clients without a heartbeat should a better opportunity arrives.

But as always, Night Walker addressed my concerns and put me at ease. He mentioned that should he ever catch the merchant wishing to do such business with somepony else, it would be the last time he would ever make a sale. I don’t consider myself as eager to spill blood as some vamponies, but I would not think twice if such a pony departed our world.


-Ruby Sparkle




Two days later


“Princess Ruby, Prince Blueblood has requested a moment of your time for introductions.”

Ruby’s crimson eyes shifted up from her current page and to the butler standing in the doorway to her room. She did not reply at first, feeling that perhaps she had misheard him and was giving him a chance to correct himself. But his silent and waiting posture confirmed that the master of the house did indeed wish to meet with her, and she lifted her nose from her book with a deadpan look.

“Really now?”

“That is correct, Princess,” he simply replied. “If you would be so kind as to save your place, I will escort you to him”

As if the purposefully delayed introductions to Blueblood weren’t irritating enough, the butler’s habit of always speaking in such a dull tone only added to Ruby’s displeasing mood. Since she had first met him, he had not once displayed an ounce of personality or emotion. He always remained predictable, stoic, and utterly lackluster in all his responses and mannerisms. And it had begun to bother Ruby a great deal, though she did not entirely know why.

It might have been perhaps the fact that she and her bat ponies were refugees in hiding, despised creatures that were being hunted by the Royal Guard whose recent actions proved they were willing to kill if they were not able to capture them. If anything, her experiences with anypony besides those of her own kind had proven fruitless and unfortunate, which meant that she would need to be on guard against everyone else. She needed to ascertain any threat that would present itself, and deal with it appropriately and swiftly. She could not fail to hesitate even for a moment, for if she had, Lunar Pearl and Ebon Wing might have suffered damage had she not acted quickly.

Ruby at times would find herself thinking of two attackers, the green pony who was lost, and the Royal Guard that attacked them. Both of them had worn hateful glares towards her ponies, and both had tried to injure them. And when she thought of her angry faces, her mind would always drift to how quickly those glares turned to expressions of surprise and horror. It seemed the only way to make it so no pony would look upon her kin with such faces, was for her to deal with them forcefully, as they had attempted to do so.

She did not know why everypony she had encountered thus far showed such animosity towards her subjects, viewing them as if they were indeed the monsters they shouted them out to be. But she could no longer stand those types of looks made to her and her ponies. She could not, and would not ever again allow others to view them as such. It was her royal duty to ensure the protection of her subjects, and she would do it by any means necessary, a violent and swift end proving to be the most useful method of correction so far. But for her to judge effectively so that she did not kill without reason, she needed to know how the various ponies around them would react to her kind. She need to know what they were thinking, and if they would prove to be a threat.

But she could not get a reading from the butler, and that put her in a unending state of unease and suspicion.

She had wondered at times if he had learned how to behave so stoically from a school dedicated for butlers, or if he had just been born as the most boring pony in Equestria.

Silver Platter, you are by far the most cliché butler I have ever seen, she thought to herself with distaste, an opinion that had only been reinforced from reading the variety of literature that lined the many bookcases of the penthouse. Some of her worries about him had somewhat lessened when she had finally learned his name. However, it was something that in retrospect was obvious to the point of irritation, an experience that only added to her already sour mood.

Being around the bat ponies had caused her to forget all about cutie marks, being that they were unable to receive one due to the Sister’s tampering over the years. So when she had learned the butler’s name was Silver Platter, showcased by his cutie mark of a fancifully decorated tray, her frustration towards him only grew. Ever since she had first met him on the train station, where he had commented on the deaths of her ponies like an idle conversation about the weather, she found herself having difficulty just tolerating his presence.

She had more than once considered draining dry so that he no longer bothered her, but the voice that had appeared in her mind since they had fled the cave adamantly opposed the notion; it was proving to be another annoyance to stack on her already frustrated mood.

But with all things considered, Ruby could only imagine the type of pony who would hire such a dry servant. At least she would now be able to finally answer that question.

Placing a bookmark on her page of her book, she rose to stretch her legs and wings, then promptly hopped off the bed and trotted through the door. “I’m ready,” she announced as she passed him, knowing full well he would wait for her to leave the room before guiding her to Blueblood.

With a single nod of affirmation, Silver Platter took the lead and began to escort Ruby down the decorated corridor.

“I take it then that Prince Blueblood has finally found sometime between his busy scheduling to meet me?” Ruby asked with suppressed irritation as she fell behind him, her curiosity overcoming her desire to speak as little as possible to him.

“He managed to fit you in between his five pm appointment and his seven-thirty. It appears that an individual with prospect had failed to impress him, and was dismissed early.”

Hearing the she was merely something to occupy a recently opened time slot made her lips curl. “How polite of him.”

Ruby’s legs began to take swift and rigid steps as she held herself in check, resisting the urge to either race to Blueblood’s office or lash at the nearest decor.

One would think meeting a vampony princess who was capable of drinking a pony dry would be a priority, she thought in grimace. Honestly, we’ve been here for nearly a week and he is just now finding time to talk about the situation?

The two of them made their way through the penthouse, or as most of the bat ponies called it, the mansion. Blueblood’s office was at the top of the three story building, above large rooms and luxurious bedrooms that had no expense spared. However, despite there being enough space to give each batpony a bed, all twenty-eight of them choose to stay together as much as possible, leaving only just above a dozen bedrooms occupied, and they managed to do it so that they were all in one hallway.

As Silver Platter and Ruby turned to the corridor the bat ponies slept on, Ruby’s mood immediately brightened, and her ears perked up as she greeted passing ponies and peeked into rooms as she passed by.

“Princess Ruby! How are you today?” one of them asked, immediately eliciting a few head pokes from the rooms.

“Just fine,” Ruby replied with a grin. “How are you all doing? Is everypony comfortable?”

“More than ever!” a colt exclaimed. “The floors here are softer than my old bed!”

When Ruby opened her mouth in concern, his mother quickly put a hoof around his shoulder and gave a small smirk. “Don’t worry, Princess. The beds weren’t that bad. He’s just a little excited.”

“Oh, I see,” Ruby laughed nervously. “While it makes me happy to see all of you so close to each other, are you sure you still don’t want a bed for each of you?”

“Thank you for worrying, Princess,” the mother replied, “but we’re really alright. The extra blankets and pillows Silver Platter gave us have been more than enough.” Turning her head to Silver Platter who had been waiting patiently and quietly, she gave him a soft smile. “Thank you for your help.”

“Of course, madam,” he duly replied.

As she gave a nod to both of them and began leading her colt back into their room, her ears pricked and she turned her head back. “Oh, I almost forgot. Silver Platter, we’ve put all the linen in the fourth door down the way you just came. That was the right room wasn’t it?”

“Yes, madam. It will be clean in a day. If you require any additional linen, please let me know.”

“Will do,” she replied happily, and retired to her room.

Ruby and Silver Platter continued down the rest of the hallway, stopping every few doors to talk to various ponies who were checking one thing or another with Silver Platter, and reassuring Ruby that everything was going good. As they did, Ruby’s eyes kept drifting to Silver Platter at every request that had been given to him, wondering just how much he had been doing while he had been doing her best to ignore him.

When they left the hall and continued their way upwards, Ruby eyed him closely for some minutes, before giving a gentle cough..

“Um...Silver Platter?”

“Yes, Princess Ruby?” he said without looking back.

“Why is it I haven’t seen another pony besides yourself and Prince Blueblood?”

“Is discretion of your stay not in your interests?”

“No it is,” Ruby quickly replied. “It’s just… I kind of expected to see more ponies considering how many of us there are. I mean, you can’t possibly be taking care of this entire penthouse yourself.”

“As a matter of fact, I do.”

“Really?” Ruby asked in disbelief. “That’s… wow, you must be busy.”

Silver Platter did not respond, and continued to dutifully lead her through the penthouse, leaving her to her own thoughts a slight perspective change of him, and the meeting ahead.

Regardless of how helpful Silver Platter had been so far to her bat ponies however, the fact that Silver Platter remained stoic throughout any situation still bothered her. She had already soul sighted him in an attempt to put to rest some of her suspicions, but her prying yielded little answers. It seemed his emotionless attitude was mirrored equally in his soul, having but a simple and bare sphere with little connections. Many parts of him had been formed in a rigid fashion and were confined in an orderly design cluing her to some traits, but she couldn’t reveal more with her current level of understanding of the soul. She still had a long way to reach Night Walker’s knowledge of souls, and even further if she would ever hope to manipulate it as well as he did.

In the end, she had no choice but to remain passive and alert around Silver Platter, having no evidence he would do anything that might threaten her or her ponies, but not wanting to leave anything to chance.

Which brought her back to Blueblood, and the many questions she had for him.

He had graciously accepted her and her ponies into his home, provided fresh fruit for them daily, and allowed them to roam freely within the penthouse. But all of that would mean nothing if Ruby felt some possible threat or danger from the prince.

Regardless of the fact Night Walker had trusted him, Ruby would never be at ease with a pony that could potentially threatened the well being of her ponies. The Royal Guards that were supposedly supposed to keep an eye and protect the bat ponies had been responsible for those who were unable to take part of their new comforts.

“Here we are,” Silver Platter announced, snapping Ruby from her thoughts.

Before her was decorated set of double doors that held simple yet curving designs. She had first thought the wood to be painted, but quickly realized their golden color was actually natural. “What kind of wood is this?” she asked without thinking, her curiosity overcoming her apprehension in a heartbeat.

“Golden Oak, directly imported from Unicorn Range.”

Wow, that must have costed him a fortune. That wood has such quality that it’s one of the most preferred materials for enchanting. And given that they grow the slowest amongst the all the flora in Equestria, they are rarely available for sale, she automatically recited in her head with wonder.

Taking a moment to admire the swirling designs of metal etched onto his surface, Ruby wondered if she had ever owned something fashioned from the mythical wood before she was imprisoned.

“Shall I introduce you?” Silver Platter asked, having waited respectively for Ruby to take in the various details.

Closing her eyes so that she could regain her focus on the meeting, she exhaled and straightened herself. “Please do.”

With a nod, Silver Platter’s horn wrapped the handles with a white light, and pushed inwardly. The doors to the artisans skills, opened without making a single sound. Ruby half mindedly strained her ears to hear a peep from them, but found the craftsmanship too high in quality to give away any noise. Her impressed opinion on such skilled designs however, was barely given any thought as her eyes locked onto the pony across the room.

Sitting behind a polished desk, horn aglow as he penned over various parchments, Prince Blueblood worked.

At first, the sight of him quickly flared Ruby’s negative predisposition of the unicorn, but was pushed aside as she took in the details of his form, easily visible from the darkening sky behind him. The room was built with the wall behind his desk that was made entirely out of glass, casting his silhouette before the horizon that the sun had set under only an hour ago. Outside, the windows looked to be an aerial balcony, creating a potential recreational viewing spot of the land around them, and a landing point for guests with the ability to fly.

Around Blueblood desk were stacks of papers and books, neatly organized into piles of ones he had finished, and ones that awaited his attention. The quill he held in his magic twirled about various pages with a tenacity that caught by surprise, its rhythmic motion of scratching paper being the only source of sound in the room. And while he levitated it with precise skill and speed, his attention seemed to be focused on a stack of papers he held in his hoof. His eyes hardly left the held papers, and he only partially glanced now and then for the next piece of parchment that needed his signature or required some sort of editing.

It was in that first moment of meeting the prince where he worked, seeing his unhesitating movements towards the various items that demanded his attention, that Ruby’s had nearly questioned if he was indeed the same pony from before.

This was not the egotistical stallion that seemed to find his own reflection in a nearby mirror more pleasing than anything else. Nor was it the never content brat that had practically ignored Ruby during chance meetings in his home, choosing instead to speak with Silver Platter about some petty task before leaving. She had even managed a quick glance into his soul when she did spot him roaming the house, finding the initial surface of him to be shallow and frivolous.

But none of those traits were apparent in him now as he diligently worked before her. Now, his entire persona and atmosphere were drastically different than her previous moments with him. Ruby was quickly reminded that despite her initial opinions of the stallion, he was still of royal blood and the owner of an expansive company.

With this new impression firmly planted in her mind, there was little doubt from Ruby that regardless of his self-centered behaviors or odd mannerisms, he had worked to get where it was at. And he was more than aptly qualified for such positions of rule.

Silver Platter stepped past Ruby gave a polite cough to indicate their arrival. “Prince Blueblood… I present Princess Ruby.”

The quill that scratched across the paper paused in mid writing, bringing about a sudden silence to the room. Blueblood’s eyes lifted from his held pages, and looked towards them with a calculating intensity that Ruby had not seen, nor believed him to be capable off. Her foul mood and list of questions faded quickly from her mind at the imposing presence he currently gave, finding that her initial assumptions of his shallowness were possibly entirely unfounded to begin with.

After giving the two of them a quick observation, Blueblood immediately began to stack the papers he was working on and set them aside in small piles. He did not even take the time to finish the sentence he had been currently writing during his cleanup, yet Ruby had an odd feeling that after she had spoken with him, he would be easily able to continue his flow of work and thought as if she had never interrupted him in the first place.

His potential of being threat had risen dramatically within the few seconds she had met him, and she could only wonder what he was truly capable of.

“Thank you, Silver Platter,” Blueblood said after he had finished putting his work away. Silver Platter gave a respectful bow and proceeded out of the room, closing the silent doors behind Ruby. They didn’t even generate a click when they had fully shut. “Princess Ruby, it is a pleasure to finally have your acquaintance,” he said calmly.

“Likewise,” Ruby replied nonchalantly, having already moved past her initial surprise of the stallion and now entirely focused the details that would be discussed tonight.

“Please, let us have a seat,” he said motioning to his right.

Ruby followed the gesture to a pair of cushioned chairs seated in front of a unlit fire place, a small table beside each with what looked like sealed bottles next to upside-down wine glasses.

So he is as cliché as his butler, she thought with slight amusement.

As she moved towards the chairs, Blueblood sat up from his and gave a small stretch. After a quick glance to ensure all his papers were positioned as he wanted them to be, he moved to join her. “Do you mind if I get a fire going?” he asked.

“Not at all,” Ruby replied. She tried to show disinterest in the action, but secretly held a level of interest of the unicorn’s magical prowess. While creating fire with magic wasn’t particular an uncommon level of ability, it would at least show that he was more competent than the average unicorn. And it would show some of his potential in a fight.

Ruby discreetly watched from the corner of her eyes when his horn became a glow with a golden color. However, much to her dissatisfaction, he instead magically grasped a hold of a dial built into the trim of the fireplace and slowly turned it, bringing the fireplace to life with a steady flame.

Ruby’s ears twitched in irritation not being able to see some example of his skill in magic, but it was quickly replaced as she considered what she had just seen. He had not used his own magic to ignite the fireplace, nor had used a match to spark some kindle. In fact, there was no wood within the fireplace at all, leading her to only guess at its origin.

“Interested on how it works?” Blueblood asked with a sly smile.

Ruby’s eyes quickly snapped from the fireplace and refixed an expressionless glance towards him, mentally berating herself for acting like a foal who had just seen a magic trick. Yet despite her recovery, she knew she had been caught with her curiosity, and had given up her aloof appearance she had attempted to display. Forcing herself to not flare her nostrils in annoyance at losing the upper hoof so early in the discussions, she yielded to her natural curiosity and the expectant look from Blueblood. “Please, explain how it works.”

His sly smile only grew as he placed a hoof onto the fireplace. “I assumed you already know a little of my patented charged gemstones?” A simple nod from Ruby was his answer, easily recalling the butlers short explanation of the item and how it was a core feature of the driverless carriages that brought them here. “Well, with a few modifications, it is also able to produce a flame without the need of timber or coals.”

He paused to gauge Ruby’s reaction to his short explanation, hoping that she might question it further or display some level of being impressed. However she only stared at him with a neutral expression before eventually speaking, “So it lights a fireplace. Is that it?”

“Really, you can’t see the applications of this new combination of technology and magic?” he replied with a bemused tone, acting like he knew the punch line to a joke that he had yet to tell. When a raised eyebrow from the vampony princess was all he received, he removed his hoof from the fireplace.

“Imagine this in the home of everypony. In every fireplace or kitchen stove. It does not require magic to operate, so pegasi and earth ponies can use it just the same. In fact, we are already developing prototypes that can remain in place without the need of precious cloud stone. Imagine everypony having access to a fuelless fire for heat.”

Ruby’s neutral expression slowly turned into one of genuine interest as her mind began to run through the implications of his statement. “A fire that doesn’t require wood or coals…”

“I’m sure you can imagine the benefits of not having to pay for burnable material, or the amount of wood that could be spent on other purposes,” Blueblood hinted as he watched Ruby begin to comprehend its full potential.

“But it can’t be fuelless,” Ruby said aloud as she rubbed a hoof over her chin. “Everything needs a source… so I assume it’s from the magic stored in the gems?”

“Right you are,” Blueblood replied, pleasantly surprised at her quick attack onto the mechanics of the device. From little I know of her previous life, she no doubt is more than capable of understanding how it works. Turning his attention back to the flame that seemingly came from nowhere, he resumed his explanation.

“As I’m sure you are aware, it does require some upkeep to continue producing a flame on demand. As of now, it is still not economically feasible to mass produce. We still need to increase the lifespan of the spell as well as make its recharging as simple and easy as possible. There are a few possibilities we can choose from, but the kinks are still being worked out. Much better than the pony I had kicked out only minutes earlier. He had suggested supplying flammable gas to each household in Equestria. Imagine the absurdity of that,” he said while laughing. “Setting up the infrastructure to deliver the gas alone would be an engineer’s nightmare straight from Tartarus!”

“While also remaining highly dangerous,” Ruby added.

“Most certainly,” Blueblood agreed. “Killing ponies is not something I want to make apart of in my business. I could not imagine the lawsuits it would garner.” Blueblood chuckled at the half proposed notion before shifting his focus back onto Ruby. “You know, perhaps if we become more familiar with each other as our… current arrangements hold, you may even be able to assist on some of my companies designs. Night Walker had mentioned that you were a very capable problem solver,” Blueblood commented. As Ruby thought to herself, he finally took his position on the chair across from her, and awaited her reply.

“To be honest,” Ruby began, “From what I have learned from you, I never expected you to be this type of pony.”

Blueblood was about to reply in defense, feeling that she was referring of his actions during the Gala sometime ago. But he quickly caught himself at the folly of mentioning the event.

“What did you expect?”

“That you were a selfish, egotistical, and spoiled brat that had everything handed to him due to his family ties,” Ruby said without hesitation.

Blueblood merely chuckled at her assumption, a response she did not expect. He raised hoof into the air while at the same time leaning his head onto his other that he propped up. “I won’t deny the first two, but I will have you know that besides my summer home in Los Pegasus, everything I own I had worked for. Anything that I hadn’t I’ve have passed on or sold.”

“And what is your line of work?” Ruby asked, hoping he may reveal something of interest that she did not already know.

Smirking at the question and at the chance to show off his exploits, he happily answered. “Transportation, innovation, and advancement for ponykind.”

“That’s specific,” Ruby quipped as she settled herself back into her chair.

“Well, my talents are broad, and I could never chain myself down to one prospect,” he simply replied. “I am responsible for over two-thirds of the latest advances in technology and magic in Equestria for the last eight years.”

“Surely you alone did not design all of your products,” Ruby said slyly as she began to fall into pace with the banter.

“Despite how capable some believe me to be, I am actually quite the intelligent pony. However, I cannot take full credit for all of my accomplishments. How very perceptive of you, my dear.”

“Don’t call me that,” Ruby interrupted, her smile not faltering in the slightest as she partially revealed her fangs.

“Noted,” Blueblood replied, his pleasant voice and mood remaining strong as well. “But no, I did not invent all of my items. Instead, I owe that to the ponies that work for me, courtesy of my special talent.”

“And that is?”

“As you can see, my cutie mark is a compass rose. It had appeared when I took ownership of my first company, a reputable train line.” Blueblood shifted about his chair as his horn grabbed a bottle of wine next to his personal table, uncorking it with ease and pouring himself a glass. “It signified my love for travel. I knew the moment it came that, regardless of what other endeavors I would pursue, transportation and travel would always remain my most beloved interest.”

After he finished pouring his glass, he brought it in front of himself and began to idly swish it about. “But that is not my only talent.”

“Two talents?” Ruby said in amusedly. “Surely you are not so self-centered to believe that you have two special talents.”

“Indeed I am,” he replied without pause. Ruby’s took on a skeptical appearance as he sipped from his glass, of which he placed back onto the table. “You see, I don’t just have a knack for those particular industries, but I happen to have a sixth sense when it comes to ponies. Not only do I know how to steer products across the land…” he said with noticeable pride. “But I also am able to steer ponies onto their own successful paths.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?”

“It means I have an uncanny ability to know a pony’s destination in life based on their potential,” he explained with a smile that made Ruby want to smack off him. “I would not have gotten to where I am today if it were not for the skilled and talented ponies I have found throughout my life. With proper guiding, I have been able to steer them onto very successful career paths. And the ones with the most potential, I hire on the spot to work for me and my company. So far, not a single one has let me down. And they themselves have made advances in their respective talents that would not have been possible alone or unsupported.”

Lifting his glass again, he finished, “While I may be the most self-centered pony in all of Equestria, and very much justified in believing as such, I do not fail to miss the benefits others can bring.”

“Benefits that mainly aid you it seems,” Ruby said. “Why do I get the distinct impression that you view them only as investments and tools?”

“I do,” Blueblood answered immediately. “They are perhaps the most valuable investments I can make. That is why I ordered every pony within one of my factories to evacuate and leave behind all our work when a fire had started. I much prefer the loss of a device that can be recreated over that of a valuable employee.”

“Even if you had jumped in the fire yourself, that is still a low way of looking at others,” Ruby replied, her smile vanishing from the stallions cold look on life.

Blueblood chuckled to himself as he prepared to take another sip. “Is it any different than you viewing them as food?”

Ruby’s eyes became narrowed as her hoofs gripped the arms of the chair. She was spending a lot of effort to leap onto him from her seat right there and then. Her teeth grated each other as he held her jaw tight.

Don’t do it!

Quiet!

No! the voice shouted back. You’ve been becoming more and more violent in your ways of thinking! It won’t solve anything if you kill him!

Ruby wanted to fight at the inner voice, still very much upset that it even existed to begin with and that she could not do anything to silence it. But even with her foul disposition, it had spoken a measure of truth.

Blinking her eyes from sudden clarity, she instinctively brought a hoof to her chest to calm herself down, ignoring whatever looks she may have been receiving from Blueblood.

She had gotten angry. Far too angry. Her nerves were already high strung from the not too long ago escape for their lives, and had little time to fade from the pressure of being in the middle of a city of ponies who could very well attempt to kill them. That along with having to trust her ponies safety to Blueblood on top of it, she was more or less not in the best stable state of mind.

After a minute of breathing exercises, she looked back up to him as a sign that she was ready to continue. She was about to apologize, but the prince beat her to it.

“My apologies. Given who you are, I did not think it to be a sensitive topic.”

“No, the fault is mine,” Ruby said while shaking her head. “Please forgive me. With all that has happened over the last few days, everything has just been a little… stressful.”

“Is there anything I can do to help put those worries at ease?”

“There is one thing that might help,” Ruby said as she readjusted herself in her seat. She closed her eyes and drew her focus inward; summoning the magic she had started to become more familiar with. With a finally soothing exhale, she opened her eyes and stared intently at Blueblood with a brilliant white light escaping her pools.

“Promise me that you will not endanger my ponies, or betray us to the thrones.”

While Ruby’s request had been simple and clear, the edge to her voice that almost seemed to echo with an unnatural force sent an even clearer message of what the consequences might be for breaking such a promise.

Blueblood held a stoic expression as he listened to her request, choosing to make his response at careful as possible lest he angered her further. His skin beneath his coat took on an odd feeling of being cold but clammy at the same time. He had developed a talent for sensing things outside of reason and logic, a crucial ability in picking out the potential of others despite their appearances and current standings. But no matter what logical conclusion he came to, no matter how much his mind may have denied it, his body was reacting to his honed natural instincts without his control. Though he may have never voiced it to another soul so long as he lived, he would never forget the sensation that swept over his body from her gaze and voice.

He would never forget the fear she had induced straight into his core.

With more effort than he ever believed such an action require, he answered her question without his voice wavering or cracking. “I promise.”

Ruby remained motionless as she stared at him for some moments longer, searching what she needed to see in his soul before being satisfied with his answer. Closing her eyes once more, she extinguished her soul sight, and let out a breath at her expended effort. Blueblood had done the same thing after he felt her piercing gaze leave him.

He didn't lie, Ruby thought to herself. And it appears I scared him more than he is willing to accept. Holding back a smile at the events she had witnessed within his soul, she finally let go some of her worries she had held in her mind since their arrival. She could trust that her ponies would be safe within Blueblood’s home. For now.

This experience with Blueblood however, proved to be a useful one. She had learned a few things from him during her prying, and coupled with his attitude while they had spoken, gave her a base picture of what she could expect from the stallion. He was truthful on his outlook on himself and others, viewing them simply as valuable items that could benefit him and his interests. He was confident, intelligent, and could take control of any situation that presented himself. He was indeed a capable pony that deserved a level of respect. And Ruby could sense his attitude from before was quickly manifesting itself again, something that would allow him to take back some of the control he had lost. He was a pony that could face adversity in strides, and not be afraid to use other ponies to get into very powerful positions. In short, he was dangerous, and could never cease to be a threat regardless of whatever peace may be currently in effect.

But she had established her dominance over him. And for a vampony, it was one of the most important things one could do.

“Do you happen to be thirsty?” Blueblood suddenly inquired.

Ruby looked at him with a confused expression, curious as to why he would ask it but impressed that he had managed to regain so much control of himself so quickly. What effects that had been left over from her intimidation were only faint traces now.

Blueblood glanced towards the bottle and glass that stood on her side table, shifting her focus to its contents.

With half a mind already knowing what it contained, Ruby wrapped it in her magic and brought it between her and the fire, watching it contents reflect the light in a unique way. Needing to confirm it, she uncorked the lid and wafted its smell beneath her nose, immediately causing her throat to tighten at its scent.

It was like an addiction whenever she smelled it. While her throat would begin to irritate her whenever such a scent wafted by her nose, she desired it in a level that could not be met by anything else. It was like a fix that even if you had just taken it, should it present itself to you again, your body would immediately begin to crave more as if you haven’t had it in years. If she simply enjoyed the sweet smell the bottle emitted for some time, her throat would no doubt eventually begin to burn like a patch of desert, desperately crying out for the only thing that could sate it.

It was a cruel thing she thought in retrospect. The thing that caused you pain, was also the same thing that soothed it. It was a painful experience that took, then gave.

“Who died for this?” Ruby asked after taking the contents smell in.

“No one,” Blueblood replied.

She looked towards him with a bewildered expression, watching his previous sly smile spread across his lips again at his obvious amusement in her reaction. “That… came from a blood donation from Southern Field Hospital at Brass Wagon Lane. When you are in influential positions, buying a few odd items can be easily done.”

“So… no pony had to die for this?” Ruby asked as her eyes became wide, looking onto the bottle as if it was some brilliant invention that seemed impossible.

“With today’s medicine, blood can be obtained easily without harm to the donor.”

“Of course,” Ruby breathed in excitement. “Why didn’t I think of this before? This could solve many of our problems! We should have done this a thousand years ago!”

Blueblood felt it was in his better interest to not correct her that such things did not exist a thousand years ago. Night Walker had said her memory had been fragmented into unknown sections. If I am not careful this charade he insists putting on may fall apart. But I hope he does not expect me to decide what she does and doesn’t piece together. I fear that level of control is even beyond my reach.

Ruby’s dark mood had completely vanished over the events of tonight. She had established a baseline of expectations from Blueblood, secured the fact that her ponies were not in danger, and had discovered an alternate method to sustain her diet. For her, the evening could not have gone better as she happily poured the deep red liquid into her glass, smiling at the way it settled and how the light reflected off of it.

Blueblood sat in silence as he observed her swirl about the liquid, savoring every part of it before daintily sipping it, her fangs causing a soft clink onto the glass as her lips wrapped around its edge. Ruby… I am very much looking forward to see how you might develop in the future. How long will this play that you so confidently believe to be real last? What will your reaction be when everything you know comes apart at the seams? Hopefully, I will be able to watch it from afar.

Blueblood covered a certain smile that parted his lips ever so slightly with a hoof. I’m getting that sensation again. You have potential for events that have yet to pass. It was a smile whenever a pony was able to travel towards a direction in their life that would help him immensely. I don’t know what you will do, or how it will come to be, but you will prove to be very beneficial to me. Somehow, someway, I’m going to reach even greater heights because of you.

Ruby let out a satisfied ‘ah’ after gulping the last drop from her glass, having switched from small sipping to enthusiastic chugging. She could not help but try out the delicious liquid in every manner possible, and she was already pouring another glass while considering how long she could hold it in her mouth before swallowing.

Then it’s decided, Blueblood thought to himself smugly. I will help you on your path, wherever it may lead. For one day, it will be of use to me. Blueblood magically grasped his glass and raised it in front of him. “A toast?”

“Hmm,” Ruby happily hummed, feeling more content and at ease than ever over the last few days. “Yes, a toast.”

“To the future,” Blueblood announced. “And with it, good fortune on both parties.”

“To the future,” Ruby replied before sucking in a mouthful of liquid, not caring in the slightest how Blueblood might think of her. In her mind, she had already established she was in the superior position, and she could act however she wanted.

Blueblood held back his distaste for her actions, but it was easily suppressed at the possibilities springing forth in his mind. I am so very curious to see what kind of pony you will become Princess Ruby. Or even possibly… Princess Twilight.

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

“Your late,” Blueblood snapped at his guest atop the balcony.

The griffin tried to catch his breath as he set his parcel down, stretching his wings from the speedy flight. “It ain’t our fault we met ‘sum headwind,” the griffin retorted in a gruff voice. “That, and your requested replacement learning ‘ta ropes of things.”

“As I said before, Feathermane,” Blueblood said while he magically grabbed the wrapped package. “I desire griffons who are accustomed to ponies. If I ever want to establish a regular trading system between our empires, I need representatives that understand pony culture to help justify my requests.”

“Aye, you needn’t ‘ta repeat that sphiel to me again,” Feathermane replied. “Still, ah suppose the lass is having better luck than tha ponies back in ‘ta kingdoms.” With a laugh that was more of a bark, the griffin added, “I hear they are still having a hard time eating with a griffin at tha same table. You leaf chewers sure do a’ve a weak stomach.”

“Hmm,” Blueblood idly replied as he opened the parcel and inspected its contents. “Where’s the rest of your group?”

“Oh, they be coming in shortly. Ruck decided to grab a bite to eat before landing. He hates doing business on an empty stomach. And Fen ah suppose is helping the lass catch up.” Feathermane turned his eye to the night sky, awaiting the distant forms of his comrades to come into view. “She’s a strong flyer no doubt, but I fear she doesn’t have much of a gut when it comes ‘ta something’s. The seasonal winds don’t take too kindly to her it seems.”

“I am hoping after we have setup a profitable trade business, we can begin securing air streams rights for faster shipments. If we can show your rulers the positive effects of mass continental trading, they will help make the trip more bearable,” Blueblood said at the mention of the winds.

Feathermane laughed again in his rough voice at the notion. “Good luck with that! If you don’t ask nicely, you might find a blizzard chasing ya all tha way home.”

“Well, I better not disrespect the Griffon of the Seasons then,” Blueblood replied as he begun to move inside.

“Ah, there they are,” Feathermane announced while looking up into the night sky. Blueblood stopped and craned his head upward in attempts to see the approaching griffins, but his eyes could never be as sharp as that of the older griffin.

“RUCK! FEN! HURRY UP AND GET YOUR TAIL FEATHERS DOWN HERE!” Feathermane shouted, causing his neck feathers to bristle from his polite motivation. His eyes then narrowed the form that was a short distance behind them. She was wobbling about from the heavy package she was carrying, and even from his distance he was able to tell she was having trouble holding onto while remain aloft.

“AND TELL GILDA TO NOT DROP THAT PACKAGE AGAIN OR ITS COMING OUT OF HER PAYCHECK!”

Author's Note:

Only have one thing to say this time...

I've passed the 150k word mark! WOOT! Did not know if I would make it or not!

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