• Published 11th Sep 2013
  • 15,893 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 35

“Night Walker!” Ruby exclaimed. “When did you-”

“Later, there are more pressing matters at hoof,” Night Walker replied as he and Shade Flare approached her. “What happened to Mist Hoof?”

Ruby turned towards Mist Hoof and lowered her ears, wincing at noticing how shallow his breathing had become. “We were attacked,” she answered quietly. “They came out of nowhere and had us surrounded. We needed to bide time until we could get the chance for all of us to escape, but… it was too long for Mist Hoof.”

“Ruby,” Cloud Shadow murmured. She and the bat ponies who had fought with Ruby were hovering near the edge of the table, their own faces a mirror of Ruby’s worry. “I’m so sorry that-”

“It’s not your fault,” Ruby said quickly.

“But... if I had been more-”

It’s not your fault!

Cloud Shadow flinched at the shout, and let her ears fall as she turned her head away. Willow Shade wrapped a hoof around her and leaned towards her.

“You did what you could,” Ruby said between her clenched fangs. “If you want to blame somepony, then blame the ones who did this.” Ruby swept her gaze across the room, causing the room of bat ponies to wince. Even though they knew that the malice that emanated from her wasn’t meant for them, it was hard not to recoil from it.

“You can trust that anypony who dares to hurt any of you will be sorry that they did.” Ruby rested a hoof on Mist Hoof’s leg, and gave a gentle squeeze. “The ones who hurt Mist Hoof tonight will pay dearly for what they’ve done. As soon as he gets better, Night Walker and I will make sure they'll be dealt with.”

Murmurs passed through bat ponies, some in excitement, some in concern. But out of all the reactions among the ponies, she paid the most attention to Night Walker’s. When she saw his head nod in approval, she flash a small smile of gratefulness to his agreeance.

“Well said,” Night Walker said clearly. “Unfortunately, we'll have to set that matter side, for the time being. As I’ve said, there are more pressing matters at hoof.”

Ruby gave a scowl and opened her mouth to reply, but Night Walker silenced her with a raised hoof. “I’ll explain it to you later. Right now…” He turned his attention back to Mist Hoof.

The refocus on Mist Hoof’s condition stole whatever argument she had planned to make. “R-Right,” she replied shakily. Focus, Ruby, focus. You can get them later, Mist Hoof needs your attention now. She moved to Mist Hoof’s head and gently lifted it towards her. “I’ll start right away. Can you help me, Night Walker?”

“Actually, you’ll be helping Shade Flare,” Night Walker corrected.

Ruby lowered Mist Hoof’s head and frowned. “What?”

“Something unexpected has occurred, Ruby. Something that only happened because of you.” With a nod from Night Walker, Shade Flare stepped up to the table.

Ruby narrowed her eyes in question, but quickly snapped them open at a detail she had failed to notice until now. “Shade Flare, your eyes!”

Shade Flare gave her a expressionless glance, letting her clearly see his amber eyes. Before she could ask what happened, he spoke in a low and dismissive tone, “Don’t worry, they’ll change soon enough.”

Without waiting for her reply, Shade Flare bent down to Mist Hoof’s neck and bite into him. He begun with small sips of blood, then steadily drank deeper, pulling in more with each gulp. Ruby scowled in disbelief of his insanity and moved to throw him off before he wasted anymore blood. But before she could, Shade Flare glared up at her and froze her in place; his once amber eyes now a bright red.

“Interesting, isn’t it?” Night Walker commented as he stepped closer, pulling Ruby away from her slackjaw expression. “Because of you, Ruby, vamponies will never be the same again.”

“I don’t understand,” she replied.

“I’ll explain it later. First, help him tend to Mist Hoof. He’s still having trouble with certain steps. Despite his many deaths, he hasn’t developed Soul Sight yet.” Night Walker gave a small sigh. “But he’s learning how to work without it. For now, help guide him along.” Ruby opened her mouth again, but gave a slow and hesitant nod when Shade Flare already began moving to the next step without her.

With an approving nod at the cooperation between the two, Night Walker turned to face the room. “The rest of you,” he spoke clearly. “Get some rest, the sun is already up. I promise Mist Hoof will be fine.”

He waited patiently as they slowly filed out the room. Willow Shade and the others needed a more personal reassurance, but left on the promise that he would speak to them separately and at greater length later. Afterwards, he walked over to the balcony doors and closed them, bringing a comfortable darkness into the room for Ruby and Shade Flare to work in. Finally, he sat himself into a comfortable chair and observed the two of them from a distance, watching closely along with his own Soul Sight. But while Ruby’s was focused on Mist Hoof’s soul, Night Walker’s was focused on her.

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

Ruby gave a weary sigh as she trudged into her bedroom. With a longing look towards her bed, she wanted to toss herself beneath the covers and sleep away the night’s events, urged on by the aching of her muscles and tiredness of her mind. But she couldn't rest yet, at least, not until after she got some answers from Night Walker who had followed her into the room.

Ruby unceremoniously climbed onto her bed and sat herself down, legs tucked beneath a large pillow to rest her chest against. She then turned her head to ask Night Walker her first question, but paused when she saw how he too sat himself tiredly down into the chair across the room. His usual calm and collected sense of presence was lacking, or really, entirely gone. Even his critical and seemingly knowing eyes were resting closed, half covered by his hoof resting on his temple.

Ruby opened her mouth to question if he was alright, but decided against it as she continued to watch his strange behavior. She had never seen him like this, so uncomposed and undaunting. To add to the strangeness, she couldn’t recall him smiling, not even once, since they finished Mist Hoof's transformation who was now resting in a room of his own.

Ruby stared at Night Walker, his fragile demeanor bringing her a disconcerting sense of unease.

What do you think it is? Twilight asked, sharing in Ruby’s apprehension.

I don’t know, but I don’t like it. Ruby frowned her eyes in concern as she rested her head on the pillow, watching him intently and patiently. He’s so… vulnerable.

That’s your first thought? Twilight replied in distaste.

I didn’t mean it like that, Ruby responded, furrowing her eyebrows. It’s just… how bad are things right now if even he’s so worried about it?

Whatever it is, it must be weighing heavily on him...

A silence passed through the room while Ruby waited for Night Walker to pull himself from his rested state, to open his eyes and flash her his reassuring smile while confidently explaining what they would do next. But the longer she waited, the more worried she became that it would never come, and the deeper her concerns dug inside her. Yet, despite her numerous worries of what was to come, looking upon him even now, a faint but content sigh escaped her lips.

I’ve missed him too.

Ruby mentally smirked. I take it you were developed enough to be aware of him?

My memories are a little vague, but I kind of remember what it was like back then.

Though Ruby knew Twilight shared her sight, there were times where Twilight was more intently focused during the moment as if she was trying to see through Ruby’s eyes as her own; this happened to be one of those times as they watched him together.

Looking through your memories of him when they drift in, I feel like my feelings of him were right. I hope whatever’s bothering him doesn’t last too long

... Twilight?

Yes?

Ruby didn’t ask right away, leaving a hesitant feeling that caught Twilight’s attention. Eventually, at Twilight’s inner prodding, Ruby asked, What do you think of him?

You should already know.

No, not our opinion. Just yours. You have enough room to have your own thoughts, feelings, and even memories now. So… I just want to know what you think of him without my side.

Twilight was quiet as she stared along with Ruby at Night Walker, noting as many details as possible. The silver in his mane, the sheen of his black coat, and the quietness on his normally either eccentric or intimidating face.

I guess… even though I’m still growing, I feel like I know him, and that I can trust him.

... You do?

Yeah, don’t you?

....

Twilight conjured the mirrorscape within their minds, and looked to Ruby questioningly. What’s wrong?

Nothing, Ruby said, though while averting her eyes from the mirror.

You do realize it’s pointless hiding how you feel from me, right? Twilight gave a frown as Ruby reluctantly turned to face her. Why are you bothered about how I feel?

Because… I don’t feel like that.

You don’t think we should trust him?

Ruby sighed. No, I still trust him. It’s just… there’s nothing else there. Ruby shifted her attention from the mirrorscape back to Night Walker. It’s hard to explain… I just… feel like I’m lacking something, like I should feel more towards him than I do.

A wave of uneasiness washed through Ruby. You know, just because we’re sharing your mind more, doesn’t mean I won’t get in the way of…

Ruby mentally grunted. I don’t have a crush on him.

Then what is it?

You said it’s like you already know him, right?

Yeah, and?

... I don’t.

Twilight forced the mirrorscape back into Ruby’s attention and looked upon her firmly. Ruby, your memories were tampered with. Don’t go blaming yourself because of what the Princesses did.

I know, I know, Ruby responded guiltily. It’s just hard sometimes to deal with all of this.

The feeling emanating from Ruby caused Twilight to trot up to the mirror and place her hoof on the glass. Yes, it is. But you're strong! Much stronger than I would be! she exclaimed. It’s because of you that Mist Hoof survived.

He almost died because of me…

You were acting to find information, nopony could have known this would have happened. When Ruby did not reply, Twilight gave a harumpf, and tapped against the glass. Ruby, what’s wrong with you? You’ve been acting weird ever since Night Walker arrived.

Ruby turned her head away. I don’t know, and I don’t know how to explain it. Can’t you tell how I feel?

I have an idea, but you need to open up a little more if you want it to make sense.

Ruby gave her a sidelong look, then sighed before stepping towards the mirror. Without a word, Ruby thrusted her hoof onto the glass, placing it directly over Twilight’s hoof. A barrier fell within Ruby’s soul, connections were form, and sensations passed between them.

Twilight was slow to speak, caught in disbelief and in wonder at experiencing an impossibly closer connection to Ruby. I… I didn’t realize you were so scared...

And I didn’t realize you were so confident, Ruby chided in response. How can you be so sure of things?

I don’t know, I just am. But still, I didn’t know how much things were weighing on you...

To be honest, neither did I…

They two of them were quiet for some moments, poking about their newfound connection until Twilight eventually worked aloud, When Night Walker showed up, everything became hard to deal with…

Ruby sneered. Shows how strong I am.

That’s not it. Twilight leaned forward so that she could look into Ruby’s downcast eyes. It just means you trust him enough to be open about your problems. It means he’s important to you.

Ruby turned her head away from Twilight’s eyes, but a small smirk appeared on her face. Of course I trust him. Ruby played over her first memories when she awoke in her mind. Moments where Night Walker was by her side explaining some step in Soul Sight, walking with him while checking on the bat ponies, watching him teach them how to fight; even her fight with him was now a pleasant memory, causing a small shiver from Twilight. But most striking of all, was the first memory she could remember, being high up in the sky, surrounding by shimmering clouds and twinkling stars. She could remember how new and mysterious the world seemed then, before she learned she was a princess, vampony, or even her name. Back then, there was only the sky, and Night Walker carrying her through it all.

He is important to me, Ruby softly said. I can’t imagine coming this far if it wasn’t for him.

Twilight gave a smile that mirrored Ruby's own, and gave a gentle push against the glass. You and me both.

Ruby flashed her a thankful smile and pushed against the glass to match Twilight, deepening the connection between them. She could feel Twilight’s own thoughts and feelings more clearly than before, causing her to wonder how she had gone on so long pushing Twilight away. Before, she had only been a small nuisance that flared at inconvenient times, but now, she was proving herself as a pillar of strength to lean against, and a well of knowledge to share with. If she had to guess, she was beginning to think of Twilight as somepony as important to her as Night Walker, and as she leaned deeper into their connection…

“Oww,” Ruby sharply said as she brought a hoof to her head.

“Something wrong?”

Ruby rubbed her temple as she fluttered her eyes open, and looked upon her bedroom. Night Walker had seemingly awoken from his nap, and was now staring at her with familiar and sharp eyes again.

“I’m fine… Just… tired from everything that’s happened.”

Night Walker only replied by nodding.

You sure you’re okay?

Yeah, just a little headache.

Shaking away the brief pain and concerned thoughts of both Twilight and Night Walker, Ruby sat herself upright and focused her attention fully on him. Now that he was awake and apparently back to his old self again, there were matters to discuss, with the most important being her first question. “How are the ponies in Vanhoover?”

Night Walker stared at her passively, then gave a small smirk. “They’re fine for the most part. They had simply run into some trouble, much like you had if I had to guess.”

“They were attacked?” Ruby asked with a scowl..

“Yes.”

“How bad was it?”

Night Walker paused a moment before replying, “Two dead, three severally injured.”

The moment the words left his lips, Ruby’s wings had snapped out and bristled in fury.

“I swear, when I get my hooves on-”

“Calm down, Ruby,” Night Walker said while rubbing a hoof on his forehead again.

Ruby blinked in surprise before glaring back at him. “You can’t expect me to be calm when you’ve told me that my ponies have died!”

“I can, and you will!”, he snapped back with surprising volume.

Ruby flattened her ears and tucked her wings as she recoiled beneath his gaze, and shrank down so that she was laying on the bed again. It was the first time she could ever recall of him shouting at her, and it easily replaced her anger with concern and confusion.

“Now is not the time to be worked up, Ruby,” he said with a stern glare. When she meekly nodded in reply, he leaned back in his seat while exhaling. “There are too many things that need to be addressed. We can’t afford to become blind, even if the things that we wanted didn’t happen.”

Ruby shifted her eyes to the carpet and took a deep breath before lifting her head back up. “I’m sorry…”

“It’s fine,” Night Walker replied.

Ruby took another breath. “Okay… what’s first?”


“First,” he said in a tired voice, “are the Hunters.”

Even with the promise to hold herself in check, she could not help but reply in a cold voice, “The ponies that attacked us?”

“Yes.”

“Who are they?”

“They… are an old foe, one that I thought had not survived the years. Another oversight on my part.” Night Walker shifted his eyes to a nearby wall as if to stare past it. “They gave us plenty of trouble back then. From annexing our lands to assassination attempts, they were a constant thorn in our side.”

“How come we didn’t take care of them?” Ruby asked with a frown.

Night Walker gave another smirk. “They aren’t as easy to deal with as you might think. If they had any of their initiated members attacking you tonight, then I’m sure you’ve noticed.”

Memory of the fight flashed across Ruby’s mind, as well as the pony who fought beside her.

“How can they fight like that? They weren’t just quicker and more alert...” Ruby furrowed her eyebrows as she searched for an apt description. “It’s like… they weren’t afraid, or feeling anything for that matter. Even their heartbeats were unusual…”

“Who knows,” Night Walker said with a shrug. “After their kingdom was razed by an army of undead, the royal members swore a blood oath against all undead, us included. Some say they made a deal with a powerful unicorn, others that they unlocked the secrets of a relic. While I’d wager more on the first one, I don’t know for sure.”

“An army?” Ruby asked in surprise. “Ours?”

“No, not us,” Night Walker said with a shake of his head. “It belonged to another shepherd.”

“Shepherd?”

Night Walker gave Ruby a blank look, before laughing quietly to himself. “Sorry, I keep forgetting what you don’t know.” With the traces of a faint smile, he said, “It’s a story for another time.”

Ruby eyed him curiously, but reluctantly agreed as another thought popped into her mind. With a serious expression, she stated simply, “Shade Flare.”

“Yes, Shade Flare…” Night Walker echoed. “To be honest, that was very much... unexpected.”

“What happened to him?” Ruby ask sternly.

“You, I think,” he replied simply.

“That’s not enough.”

“What more do you want?”

“I want to know how he was able to do that,” Ruby replied. “Night Walker, he removed the alicorn magic. And on top of that, he can now change back and forth between a bat pony and a vampony!” Ruby’s eyes were wide to further her exclamation. “How is that possible!?”

“I’ve been trying to figure that out the entire flight over here,” Night Walker replied, narrowing his eyebrows in deep thought. “What's more, the bat ponies he changed in Vanhoover turned out the same as well.”

“Are you serious?” Ruby whispered.

“Very.”

When she did not speak further, Night Walker looked towards her and saw her deep in contemplation. She raised her hoof to her chin, and her gaze turned to the carpet. He waited for further reaction from her for sometime, but when it was clear she wasn’t coming back soon, he asked in a curious but teasing tone, “Don’t tell me that this bothers you?”

“Hmm?” Ruby replied as she snapped back. “Oh, no! Far from it. This is huge news! I’m just trying to figure out how it’s possible.”

He regarded her for a moment, then sat back in his chair. “I see.”

“While we worked on Mist Hoof, I couldn’t help myself from glancing at his soul. That strange structure we saw when he first transformed looked fully formed and active. I still don’t understand how it works, but I bet it's what allows him to become a vampony when he drinks blood!” Ruby straightened her ears as she faced Night Walker. “Did the ponies he transform have the same thing as well?”

“They did, although less developed as his. I imagine it was take sometime before it completely sets in,” he replied. “Their transformation was slower than normal, but it was less dangerous than the usual process. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t lose a single pony from it.”

“That’s happened before?” Ruby asked in concern.

“Yes, very often in fact,” Night Walker replied. “Not everypony can handle the stress which vampirism puts on the soul. The only reason I believed that we would be successful with just over a hundred bat ponies was because it was already partly grafted on to them. Their chances of dying was less likely.”

That’s horrible!

Yeah, it is… Ruby replied slowly. But… it makes sense.

You can’t possibly agree with it, can you?

I take it you don’t?

I...

Although Twilight became quiet, Ruby could feel her mind working the problem out, searching for some alternative solution. Yet, despite her efforts, a sinking feeling coming from Twilight washed over Ruby.

Why do things have to be like this? Ponies shouldn’t have to decide these kinds of things...

The mirrorscape flashed into Ruby’s focus again, and she saw Twilight sitting slumped on the other side of the mirror. I don’t know, Ruby said as she rested a hoof against the glass, peering through towards Twilight with a sorrowful gaze. She knew how much these things bothered her, but given the recent strengthening of their bonds these last few days, she was beginning to understand how it pained her to experience them. But this isn’t the time for figure these things out. Twilight, we’ve made tons of ground with each other, but you can’t keep letting these things get to you so much, not if we want to remain this connected.

I know… I’m… slowly getting used to it, but it’s just...

Twilight, I need you, which means the bat ponies need you as well. Ruby smiled warmly as Twilight looked up to her in confusion. The fact that their positions had reversed from only minutes ago didn’t escape Ruby, and made her briefly consider just how integral Twilight was becoming to her; no longer an experiment in Soul Sight or potential trap set by the Princesses. You’re strong as well, Twilight. And right now, we need to face these things together. We’ve already come this far together.

Twilight bit her lip, but slowly stood up and moved towards the mirror. I’m sorry…

There’s nothing to be sorry for, Ruby replied reassuringly.

Twilight took in a breath, and took a moment to recompose herself. Alright, I’m feeling better. Let’s get back to figuring things out.

You sure?

I’m fine. Just… promise to look over my connections later. I want to make sure there isn't any bad wiring causing problems.

A very crude description, but I don’t think that’s the problem, Ruby replied playfully. Who knew Twilight could be just as scared as me.

Before Twilight could reply, a polite cough sounded throughout the room, bringing Ruby’s focus back.

“Something wrong?” Night Walker asked again.

“Nothings wrong,” Ruby replied while turning her reddening cheeks away.

“You were spacing out again.”

“Was I? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean too. I was just-”

“Having an inner conversation?”

Ruby’s eyes widen as she turned to Night Walker, and her cheeks became more red as her gave her a knowing look. “You… you can tell?”

Night Walker gave a small laugh as he stepped down from his chair. “When you’ve had as much experience with them as I have, you learn a thing or two.”

Ruby began to rub her hooves together. “I was actually going to ask you about her. There’s some things I wanted to know, and I want to make sure I’m doing everything right.” Night Walker looked at her appraisingly, causing her to fidget with her hooves even more. “I’ve… really gotten used to her, and I want her to stay, but I want to make sure I’m doing things right for both our sakes. So… do you have any suggestions?”

Night Walker didn’t reply at first, choosing to let out another sigh as he turned for the door. “Sure, we can talk about it later. There’s nothing inherently wrong keeping one or a few to the side, given they are ones you use frequently. After all, if it wasn’t for them, my imprisonment would have been much more boring.”

“So you approve?” Ruby cheerfully asked.

Night Walker looked over his shoulder, then gave a small grin. “We’ll talk about what to do with her later. For now, let’s get some rest, it’s nearly noon, after all.”

Ruby gave a happy nod before gleefully sliding under her covers. “Alright, see you in the night.”

“Good day, … Ruby,” Night Walker said quietly as he exited the room and closed the door shut behind him. The hallway was empty, and a stifling silence filled the penthouse. With an exasperated sigh, Night Walker looked thoughtfully towards the carpet, running over the recent events in his mind again. From the discovery of Shade Flare, to the silent observation of Ruby’s soul while within her room, a dozen possibilities flashed through his mind, stemming a hundred choices, and countless outcomes. For Night Walker, things had gone very much unexpected to say the least.

Raising his leg, shadows coalesced around his hoof, leaving in their wake a diamond amulet that flashed with the faint images of a forgotten life.

Author's Note:

Another chapter, and with it, reaching the milestone of 400 likes. Also, this story apparently hits featured box now with each update. Thanks so much everyone for following along!

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