• 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 36

Ruby yawned as she exited the bathroom, drying off the last damp strands of mane with a towel. She looked at the clock on the wall and saw it was a bit after six pm. A tired smile lighted her lips.

Guess I couldn't manage more than a few hours today.

It’s not that bad. I actually feel pretty good.

Feeling Twilight’s bustling activity inside of her, Ruby couldn’t help but smirk. You’ve become more and more energetic. Must be a side effect of making more connections for you. Speaking of which…

Ruby wrung the last bit of moisture she could from her mane and threw the towel into the nearby hamper. Closing her eyes, she called upon her Soul Sight, and turned her gaze inward.

It’s getting a little easier to follow along now.

Yeah?

Hmhm. I still don’t understand it all, but I think I’m getting the jist of it now.

Ruby raised an eyebrow, but kept her smile. I thought you knew everything I did.

It was easier when I was entirely dependent on you, but now that you’ve given me some room, it’s like I’m learning things all over again. Twilight eagerly watched as Ruby inspected herself, noting the minor changes from before, and testing the budding bridges she had created. That tickles.

What does it feel like?

Kinda weird, I guess. It’s not physical, but it is at the same time. I’m not really sure how to describe it, but it’s similar to how I know what your body feels like without actually feeling it.

Let’s get with Night Walker today about that, there’s some things I want to go over with him that I’m a little worried about.

Like what?

Ruby pulled her vision back, looking over her soul from a distance. Outside of the small fibers that connected the tiny and various parts of her being, she could see the larger structure as a whole and how it all fit together; a nearly endlessly layered design that still held mysteries despite how many times she peered deep within it.

I’m a little concerned about how you and I are going to fit if we keep expanding you. We’re starting to overlap on some parts, which is nice because we can be closer to each other, but I don’t want it to cause any problems.

Ruby could feel Twilight nodding in agreeance, a sensation among others that had become increasingly clearer to notice. I think I see what you mean.

We’ll ask him after breakfast, and after we check up on Mist Hoof. Despite all that blood, I’m pretty hungry after working on him. Ruby dismissed her Soul Sight, and headed towards the door.

I hope he’s doing alright, Twilight replied with a shiver from yesterday's memories.

Her dwindling but still apparent aversion to being a vampony made Ruby laugh lightly. He’s a tough pony, he’ll manage.

Exiting her room and closing the door behind her, Ruby gave her wings a stretch, bristling her feathers as she shook off the last remnants of sleep.

“Right, let’s start the night.”

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

After procuring a bottle from the stash Silver Platter had set aside for her, and a plum due to Twilight’s insistence for variety, Ruby made her way through the penthouse and towards Mist Hoof’s room, passing bat ponies along the way that were also beginning their night.

“Ruby, good evening!”

“Good evening, Ruby.”

“Evening, Ruby.”

Walking through the main hall, Ruby paused to greet each and every one of them, ensuring that their needs were being met and quelling whatever concerns they had from yesterday. She was bidding goodbye to a senior batpony when the trotting of tiny hooves caught her attention, and she turned with a knowing smile.

“Hello, Lunar Pearl,” Ruby greeted happily as the little filly came sliding to a halt.

“Ruby! Good evening!”

Behind Lunar Pearl, Ruby could see Lily Wing casually catching up, and flashing an apologetic smile. “Sorry for the early night welcome, but she was determined to see you.”

“Is it true you beat up a bunch of ponies?” Lunar Pearl asked with wide eyes.

Oh dear, what do we tell her? Should we-

“It’s true,” Ruby said as she bent her head down. “But I only did it to protect Mist Hoof and the others.”

Lunar Pearl flashed her a toothy smile. “Awesome!”

I don’t think that encouraged her to avoid fighting, Twilight said in annoyance.

Relax, it isn’t like she’s going to go off and start fighting other ponies.

“Ruby, Ruby!” Lunar Pearl exclaimed as she jumped up and down while flapping her wings. “I bit a stallion the other day when he almost caught me, but I got away and made it all the way back to the penthouse without help!”

A moment of dumbfounded silence passed between Ruby and Lily Wing, the both of them staring with open mouths as Lunar Pearl stood confidently in triumph.

You were saying?

“Lunar Pearl!” Lily Wing shouted when she came back to. “You left the penthouse!?”

Lunar Pearl immediately lowered her ears and shrunk down. “Y-Yeah… but it wasn’t my fault.”

“How was it not your fault!?”

Her hoof traced a circle on the carpet. “... We were playing Hide and Hunt, and I hid in the laundry room, but I didn’t know that’s where the laundry was taken and I fell down the chute and…”

Ruby knelt down and gently raised Lunar Pearl’s chin, looking on her with concern. “Did anypony hurt you or see you?”

“N-No!” Lunar Pearl said as she pulled away. “The stallion I bit was the only one who came close to finding me. You should have seen me, Ruby! I was sneakier than a shadow, and faster than a… a… a bee!” Her proud smile returned in an instant, and she begun motioning with her hooves. “I fell down the chute and into a giant pile of clothes, and-”

Ruby and Lily Wing listened in disbelief as she recounted her tale, staring with wide eyes more for the fact that she hadn’t been caught and hurt instead of the daring moments that Lunar Pearl thought were captivating them.

“-and then I hid in the cart and was brought all the way up here and I got away before he could pass the cart to Silver Platter.” Finishing her story, she grinned expectantly at Ruby and Lily Wing. “Well? What do you think? Was I a good vampony or what?”

“Grounded is what you are,” Lily Wing replied with a furrowed brow.

“But-”

“No ‘but’s, you’re grounded.”

“Ruuuuuby!” Lunar Pearl quickly turned to her and gave the most innocent and poutiest look Ruby had ever seen.

“Lunar Pearl,” Ruby began while tactfully closing her eyes. “You could have been seen and let ponies know we’re here. Even worse, you could have been hurt.” She opened her eyes and saw how Lunar Pearl had shrank, her tail and wings wrapped around her body. “A vampony doesn’t let themselves fall into danger needlessly. You need to be more aware of your surroundings. If you had been hurt or caught, we might not have noticed until it was too late.”

Once again, Ruby lifted her chin. “Why didn’t you tell somepony what had happened when you got back?”

Lunar Pearl fidgeted her hooves, but didn’t turn away. “...I was worried that I was going to get in trouble… like I am now…”

Ruby stood back, keeping her eyes focused on Lunar Pearl. “You’re in trouble because you didn’t use your head and see what you were getting yourself into. You worried your sister and me a lot.” Lunar Pearl lowered her head again, peeking from behind her tail. “Next time, pay attention to your surroundings, and don’t needlessly endanger yourself or others. Understand?”

“...Yeah…”

Lily Wing flashed a thankful smile to Ruby as she walked up to Lunar Pearl. “Come on, Lunar, let’s go get some breakfast.”

“Okay…”

As Lunar Pearl stood to leave, Ruby quickly bent down and whispered in her ear, “Still, it must have taken a vampony of real skill to get back all on her own.”

The grin that spread on Lunar Pearl’s face caused Lily Wing to look at Ruby questionably, but was only given a knowing wink. Trusting that Ruby hadn’t said something to cause the incident again, Lily Wing gave one last thankful nod, and guided Lunar Pearl with her wing down the hall and towards the kitchen.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Except that last part.

Ruby mentally chuckled. I hope this strict attitude of yours isn’t permanent. She did do something impressive after all.

That doesn’t mean you should encourage her.

Relax, she’s a tough little filly. And she’ll make a fine vampony someday.

With the first calamity of the day dealt with, and what Ruby hoped would be the hardest, she continued her way towards Mist Hoof’s room, debating with Twilight the entire way on if they could ask Silver Platter to filly proof the laundry room, and a dozen or so more rooms.

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

“Knock knock,” Ruby announced as she opened the door. Looking in the room, she saw Mist Hoof sitting upright in his bed, a content smile on his face as he motioned her in.

“Princess Ruby, please, come in.”

“I thought I told you to not call me that?” she playfully replied as she closed the door and made her way to a chair.

Mist Hoof gave a gruff laugh. “Well, it’s not every day a pony gets to die and come back to life. I’d say it’s making me feel bold enough to risk my life again calling you a princess.”

“You have a strange sense of humor, you know that?” Ruby said as she sat herself. “How are you feeling?”

“Honestly?” Mist Hoof said before flexing his wings. “Not much different than normal. You sure you turned me into a vampony?”

“Actually... it wasn’t me.”

Mist Hoof raised an silver eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

Ruby spent a moment to take a breath, then leaned forward in her chair, dropping the playful tone from earlier. “You were pretty out of it, so I don’t think you can remember, but Night Walker and Shade Flare are here.”

“Really,” Mist Hoof replied without surprise, and more in a statement than a question. “He’s got a knack at showing up at the right time. I take it he turned me then?”

“No, that’d be Shade Flare.”

“Ah, so he’s finally a vampony.”

“Yes… and no…”

The two of them stared in silence at each other for some moments, until Mist Hoof finally exhaled in confusion. “Am I still dying on top of the table? Because this is becoming very confusing.”

“No, you old fart,” Ruby laughed. “Turns out I somehow made an entirely new species of vamponies that only become vamponies when they drink blood. Shade Flare was the first, and he’s been able to reproduce the results on other bat ponies.”

“Well, that's something,” Mist Hoof replied. “And here I’ve been staring at that shadow in the corner for the last hour trying to make it move.”

“Sorry, but I don’t think you could do that even if you were a vampony right now,” Ruby said teasingly.

“Can’t blame an old pony for trying,” he merely replied while throwing off his covers and stepping out of bed. “Right, first order of business. We sticking to the original escape plan?”

“What are you talking about?”

“The plan, Ruby,” Mist Hoof said while raising his hoof. “If we become found, we both decided we would evacuate everypony to a new location.”

“Yes, we did,” Ruby replied as she too slid off her seat. “But I don’t think it’s come to that yet.”

“Ruby, we have no idea who those ponies were.” A serious mood came over Mist Hoof, and his tone dropped as he turned to face her. “For all we know, they already know where we live. They knew you would be at that motel, and we didn’t even spot them until they chased after you. We should be considering leaving while we have the chance.”

“Can you at least let yourself recover before getting worked up about this?” Ruby said as she flared her horn. Using her magic, she neatly reorganised the sheets of his bed, leaving the top one open for him to crawl back under. “You may not feel like it, but you’ve gone through an extensive change, you need to rest even if your body doesn’t feel like it.”

“Ruby, this is serious.”

“And so is this,” she urged. “Mist Hoof, your soul has been changed, and I don’t even know the full extent of those changes. You need to rest. Night Walker and I will handle anything that happens.”

Mist Hoof blinked at the mention of the name, and narrowed his eyes as he looked away thoughtfully. “Night Walker…”

Ruby was in the middle of refluffing his pillows when Mist Hoof gave an odd grumph.

“Ruby, we need to talk about those mares that helped us.”

Ruby didn’t respond at first, choosing to finishing setting the bed exactly as she desired it to be. Eventually though, she asked in a quiet voice, “... What about them?”

“They said somethings to me, things that I don’t necessarily believe but…” He turned towards her, noting that she was still facing away from him. “They helped us a lot in that fight. I saw the white one by your side, facing those ponies that were giving you a hard time. I don’t know if what they said was true, but they helped us when they easily could have made it much more difficult. I’d say that at least counts for something.”

“... What’d they tell you?”

“That... “ he began slowly,” you’re Princess Twilight Sparkle. You were abducted by Night Walker and… had your memories stolen. They said that they were your friends, and have been looking all over Equestria for you. They said… they missed you a lot and were worried for you.”

Ruby was eerily still as she continued looking forward.

“Ruby, I-”

“I don’t know why they keep insisting that I’m Twilight Sparkle,” Ruby quickly said. “Or how they can expect me to believe Night Walker has been using me all this time.” Turning around, she gave Mist Hoof a sidelong glance, her crimson eyes sparkling from the lamplight. “They may have helped us, but I won’t tolerate their lies. When I go and see them again, I’ll get to the bottom of why they are doing all of this.”

Mist Hoof regarded her for a moment, before giving her a questioning look. “Not alone this time, I hope?”

Ruby replied with a smile. “No, not this time.”

Mist Hoof nodded as they closed the matter, and made for the door. “I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.”

“Hey, come back here!” Ruby exclaimed. “You need to rest! I’ll bring you some food.”

“Oh, come now, Ruby. Spare an old batpony the luxury and peace of eating fruit where he wants.”

Ruby scoffed, then gave a playful smile. “Unless I’m imagining it, becoming a vampony has made you more difficult to deal with.”

“Night Walker did say that when we finally became vamponies, we were free to challenge each other as often as we wanted.”

Ruby gave a toothy grin. “He also said that they settled those challenges with fights. Think you could take me on?”

Mist Hoof feigned fear, and raised his hoofs up as he opened the door. “Please, Princess, I wouldn’t dream of challenging your authority and strength. You’d make me a stain against the wall in no time.”

“That’s right, I would,” she cheerfully replied as she caught up with him in the hall.

I think I’m going to like having everyone become a vampony.

Because brutishly settling all debates with fighting is the best way to deal with things, Twilight dryly replied. Nothing more exciting than kicking and biting each other instead of reading from pages of well refined points and responses.

You make it sound so boring. There’s no reason why you can’t do both.

Ugh.

As Ruby smirked at Twilight’s resentment, Mist Hoof caught her attention by doing a small skip now and then while testing his wings.

“Hmmm, there might be a small spring to my step. Guess I’ll have to wait until I try some blood. How does it taste?”

“Better than any of the wine in Blueblood’s bar,” Ruby answered. “I think you’re going to like it.”

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

“So, how do you feel?”

“Can you see through the darkness more easily?”

“Do you feel stronger at all?”

“Hey, let me see your eyes!”

The crowd of bat ponies stared in wonder as Mist Hoof set down his glass, only a few droplets of blood left at the bottom. They waited impatiently for him to finish his drink, and were now pushing against each other to get a good look at him.

“Come on, show us your eyes,” one of them said again.

Smiling to himself, Mist Hoof finally opened his eyes, and revealed to them all their now crimson color. A collected breath of awe escaped the crowd, and they only huddled closer to inspect them.

“Look at that.”

“Nifty.”

“Mommy, will my eyes be red too? Can’t they be green?”

From a distance, Ruby, along with the few batponies that weren’t as impatient as the rest, watched from a table holding an assortment of fruit, happily watching the crowds reactions to the newest vampony.

“Will you look at him soak it up,” Willow Shade commented. “You’d never imagine that yesterday that he was on this table and bleeding.”

“Don’t remind me,” Cloud Shadow mumbled.

“Oh come on,” Willow Shade said with a gentle hoof smack. “I saw you jump to his side during the fight. If you hadn’t done that, he might have never made it back. You protected his old butt better than any of us.”

Cloud Shadow scoffed and looked away, but couldn’t help but let out a small smirk.

“He certainly seems to be doing well,” Ruby said. “I just hope he doesn’t push himself. He still needs to rest despite how good he looks.”

Willow Shade waved her hoof dismissively, and replied as she took a bite out of a pear. “Thagh old timer ish touff enuff.”

“Please chew your food,” Ruby deadpanned.

With slightly red cheeks, Willow Shade quickly swallowed the rest, and returned to her confident demeanor. “I’d bet he could take on twenty ponies now. With all those extra powers, he could scold them all in half the time it would have taken him before!”

“I may be old, but I’m not hard of hearing! At least, not anymore,” Mist Hoof shouted back.

When Willow Shade looked at him in disbelief, he merely replied by twitching his tuft ears. Afterwards, she slunk back against the table and looked away with a pout. “Bat feathers, he’s gonna be worse now isn’t he?”

Ruby merely smiled as she glanced over Willow Shade and the rest of the bat ponies. Seeing them all gathered like this made her heart feel full and happier than it had been in awhile. It was moments like these that she felt like she was back in the cave which seemed so long ago, back when her world was only filled with them and the comforting shadows.

Thinking back, she found it hard to believe they had come so far. Here they were, a successful transformation, and a potential cure for all the bat ponies, and they were celebrating it with a table of food on top of a tower that looked out over the world; they had indeed come a long way from the underground cave.

Turning her head to peer through the windows, she gave a happy sigh at the sight of the city line and the stars above them. The sun had descended only an hour ago, it’s fiery flames now a purple tinge on the horizon. It was another beautiful night, and it made Ruby feel hopeful for the future. Even the sky seemed more colorful than usual. From the dark blue night sky, to the fading sun, even towards the streaks of colors flashing in the distance.

Ruby stiffened, then suddenly sat up from her stool and stared intensely through the window.

“Ruby? What’s wrong?” Willow Shade asked.

Ruby didn't reply. Instead, she stared unblinkingly into the night sky. There, amidst the bright city lights turning on for the night, a trail of colors sped their way upwards and towards the tower.

Oh no…

“Ruby? Are you alright?” Cloud Shadow asked, having too taken notice of her behavior. When she frowned and followed Ruby’s gaze, she squinted at the approaching display in the distance. “What’s that?”

Before anything else could be done, the charging rainbow colored blur reached the balcony, and came to a sudden halt that caused the wind to buffet the glass windows. Everypony in the room became dead silent at the sudden arrival of the pegasus floating outside the balcony. Jaws were open, fruit was half chewed, parents covered their children beneath their wings, and every pair of eyes were focused on the magenta pair that were trying to angrily peer through the tinted windows.

“Ruby! I know you're in there! Come on out!”

Everypony was motionless as she covered her eyes with her hooves to look in, and quickly resorted to banging her hoof against the glass. “Get out here, Ruby!”

Slowly, every pair of eyes shifted towards Ruby, who was glaring furiously at Rainbow Dash.

What does that idiot think she’s doing?

I don’t know, but she looks stressed.

You think she’s stressed!? She came barging in and is freaking out everypony! How did she even know where we are?

“I don’t know who that mare is,” Willow Shade said with in a low tone, “but let me and Cloud Shadow take care of her.”

“No, I’ll handle it,” Ruby stated, her eyes narrowed as she revealed her fangs in annoyance. “Nopony comes outside.”

With that, she hopped off her stool, and made her way to the balcony door.

“Ruby! If you don’t come out in ten seconds, I’m coming in!”

Snarling in irritation, Ruby opened the door and stepped outside, closing the door behind as quickly as possible. “Will you stop shouting!?”

Rainbow Dash turned to face her, and a series of expressions played across her face before she resolutely gave her a firm look and landed in front of her. “Ruby, we need to talk.”

“How did you find me?”

“That’s not important, right now you-”

“It is important!” Ruby snapped. “You can’t just expect to show up and start telling me we need to talk. How did you find me?”

Rainbow Dash opened her mouth to yell, but gave a frustrated groan and spoke in a controlled but wavering tone. “Look, one of the ponies you guys fought without me knew where you were, and they said they were coming again tonight. And then we saw them and-”

They know where we are?

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you! But that-” Rainbow Dash said but was cut off by Ruby throwing open the balcony door and rushing inside.

“Somepony find Night Walker! Mist Hoof, we’re taking that evacuation now!”

“Ruby! Hold on I-” Rainbow Dash began, but stopped as she followed her inside. Now on the other side of the glass and inside a massive living room, dozen of bat ponies were staring at Rainbow Dash with mixed expressions ranging from confusion, anger, and curiosity.

“Woah…” Rainbow Dash mumbled at seeing them all. “Uh… Hi?”

None of them replied as they returned her gaze.

“Mist Hoof, gather everypony up and start taking them to where we planned!” Ruby shouted as she rushed about the living room.

“On it!” Mist Hoof replied while cautiously looking at Rainbow Dash.

“Everypony else, get to the second floor! We’re leaving now!”

“R-Ruby! Wait!”

Ruby spun around and marched straight to Rainbow Dash. “When are they going to be here?”

“I don’t know, but listen to me! That isn’t the only reason why I came!”

Ruby narrowed her eyes and peered behind Rainbow Dash, spotting multiple white forms in the sky approaching the tower.

Rainbow Dash saw her grit her teeth, and turned her head around to see. “Pony feathers. They’re faster than I thought.”

“Are you going to help me?” Ruby said coldly.

“What?” Rainbow Dash said in surprise, turning back to Ruby.

“I said, you are going to help me!?” Ruby’s fangs were revealed as she snarled her muzzle and squinted her crimson eyes to the approaching pegasi. “Either you help me buy time for my ponies, or get out of here now.”

Rainbow Dash looked stunned for a moment, but then nodded her head. “Yeah, you can count on me.”

Ruby eyed Rainbow Dash for a moment, searching for anything that might betray her otherwise, but Rainbow Dash held a determined look, and she snorted in response. With one last glance around the living room to ensure the remaining bat ponies were on their way out, Ruby ran for the balcony with Rainbow Dash following along, and they both leapt into the sky.

“It looks like over twenty of them. Try to stall them where you can, and fight only if you have to,” Ruby commanded.

“You can see them from this far?”

“Of course I can.” Ruby halted in mid air, a sizeable distance from the tower and in plain view for the ponies when they arrived. Gauging the approach, she turned to Rainbow Dash. “We’ll hold them here as long as possible while everyone escapes through the other side of the building. Don’t let any of them make their way behind it.”

“Got it.”

The two of them turned forward and patiently hovered in place, watching intently as the ponies drew closer and closer.

“Hey, Ruby?”

“What?”

“... Nevermind, it’s nothing.” Ruby shot her a sideways glance, and saw Rainbow Dash was smiling happily. “Just glad to be helping you again, that’s all.”

Nothing else was said as the ponies arrived. The group of them had flown with as much speed as they could muster, but slowed to a halt once they spotted Ruby and Rainbow Dash waiting for them. From where they were, Ruby could see the expression on their faces, and how nervous most of them were, all except one pegasus who stared at them passively.

“Ready for round two?” Ruby shouted at him.

“We aren’t here to fight, Princess Twilight,” he called back. With a raise of his hoof, he motioned for the other pegasi to spread out. As they did, they made sure to keep the same distance between themselves and Ruby.

Rainbow Dash frowned at the pegasus. "What the hay? Is that-"

“Why do I find that hard to believe?” Ruby chided, interrupting Rainbow Dash. Turning her gaze, she looked over the rest of the pegasi. “How many of these pegasi were in the yard? I can’t imagine much considering how many I killed. I’m guessing like most of your troops, they haven’t seen much battle?”

The pegasi noticeably backed off when Ruby gave them a wicked grin, making sure that they could see her fangs. “I’ll make sure that the ones who live will learn to never come chasing after me, or my kind ever again.”

Rainbow Dash shook her gaze of disbelief in recognition of the leading pegasus, and whispered , “Ruby…”

Keeping her grin steady and eyes forward, she answered back, “What?”

“We… We aren’t going to kill them… are we?”

Ruby’s smile vanished and she gave Rainbow Dash a piercing stare from the corner of her eyes. “If it comes to it, I’ll do anything I have to if it protects my ponies. If you can’t handle it, then get out of here now.”

Rainbow Dash’s ears fell back, and for a moment her hovering faltered. But she soon regained control, and gulped a lump in her throat. “I’m not going to kill anypony, but I’m not going to let them get to the bat ponies either.”

Ruby eyed carefully, then turned her gaze back to the pegasus. “Make sure that you do.”

“Princess Ruby,” he called again. “Things have changed. If you follow our orders you have my word that you and the bat ponies won't be hurt.”

“And what in all of Tartarus would make you think I would do that?”

“If you don’t, then we'll-” the pegasus began, but stopped as he shifted his eyes to his right. It was faint, but Ruby had caught it, and followed his gaze, turning to her left and upwards. Had she not done so, she would have never seen the two black blurs fall out of the sky, and tackle two unfortunate pegasi. Whether they had died on impact, or were just stunned, their bodies fell towards the ground, only to be saved by four other pegasi who thought it wiser to flee while they had the chance.

“Night Walker! Shade Flare!” Ruby called out in surprise. The two vamponies gave a small nod in affirmation, then set their hooves onto the rest of the pegasi. In seconds, a brawl had begun, and the rest of the pegasi dove towards them all. “Rainbow Dash, let’s take care of these three and-”

NIGHT WALKER!

Ruby flinched at Rainbow Dash’s shout, and watched in disbelief as she dove towards Night Walker with furious speed. Instinctively, she flared her horn to catch her, but the charging shouts of pegasi coming straight towards her caused her to stop. Dodging the first one, Ruby swooped beneath them, and magically grabbed all three and scattered them with a throw.

What does she thinks she’s doing?

I don’t know, but we need to stop her! They shouldn’t be fighting each other!

Ruby magically grabbed one of the pegasi that was recovering, and pulled her towards her ready fangs.

“Stop! Don’t kill me! Please! I’ll go, I’ll go!” the mare shrieked as she was pulled closer.

Ruby closed her mouth and glared at her. After watching her squirm and tear within her grasp, Ruby let her go. At once the mare flapped madly away towards the city streets with the other two pegasi close behind her.

Ruby sneered as they fled. This isn’t a fight. Looking around, she saw many of the other pegasi were doing the same, fleeing with all their strength away from the four combatants who had chosen to remain. Shade Flare was paired off against the fearless pegasus, the two of them expertly exchanging blows as they ducked and dived against each other, and Night Walker was facing Rainbow Dash, smiling confidently as she charged with abandon.

I’LL KILL YOU!” Rainbow Dash screamed at the top of her lungs. Night Walker however, only grinned cheerfully as he surrounded himself in a orb of shadows, to which Rainbow Dash plowed right through before turning around and dashing through it again.

What in Equestria is she trying to do?

Ruby! She believes Night Walker stole your memories!

Bat wings, you're right. She’s going to hurt herself or worse if she keeps at him like this.

Flaring her horn, Ruby flew towards the two of them, magically catching a hold of Rainbow Dash in a purple aura when she came close enough. “Rainbow Dash! Stop it!”

“LET ME GO!” Rainbow Dash screamed as she squirmed in Ruby’s magic.

By the night, she’s furious! It’s hard to hold her!

“LET ME GO! LET ME GO! I’ll KILL HIM!”

Ruby squinted her eyes as she held restrained her further, wondering in amazement how she was so strong.

“Thank you for that, Ruby,” Night Walker said as he flew to her side, smiling casually despite Rainbow Dash’s vengeful stare. “What she lacks in experiences, she more than makes up in tenacity and speed. I’d even say she’s a better aerial fighter than me.”

“GET AWAY FROM HER!” Rainbow Dash yelled.

Night Walker cocked his head with a toothy grin. “Come now, Rainbow Dash. Why don’t we go inside and talk things out!”

“GO TO TARTARUS YOU ****”

Oh my...

Night Walker, however, gave a mirthful laugh. “I’ve missed your fire. It’s a shame I never got a chance to do a session with you.”

“Night Walker, you’ve met her before?” Ruby asked, nearly letting Rainbow Dash slip from her grip in surprise.

Night Walker’s smile grew thin, and he stared thoughtfully at Rainbow Dash who was still shouting obscenities at him.

“Yes, I have.”

Mindfully keeping her focus on her magic, Ruby turned her head towards him with a questionable look. “Who is she?”

“She, my dear Ruby, is a nuisance that will soon be dealt with.”

Ruby watched in confusion as Night Walker slowly hovered his way towards her, parting his mouth slightly to reveal his fangs.

“If you lay a single hoof on me," Rainbow Dash growled, "I’M GOING TO BEAT YOUR FLANK ALL THE WAY TO THE CRYSTAL KINGDOM!”

Night Walker hovered closer, causing Ruby’s focus on her magic to waver.

Ruby! You’ve got to let her go!

But if I do, she’ll-

Night Walker is going to kill her! You can’t let him!

Ruby strained to keep her magic in control as she watched Night Walker come beside Rainbow Dash. He looked at her hungrily, while Rainbow Dash craned her neck as far as she could while still giving him a death glare.

RUBY!

I… I…

“Um… what’s going on here?”

All three of them paused, then turned their heads to see an unexpected visitor watching a short distance away with a bag of groceries.

“Gilda!?” Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

“Rainbow? Is that you?” Gilda said as she peered through the darkness. “What are you doing here? Who’s that?” she asked pointing a claw to Night Walker. She then turned her head, and nearly dropped her bag when she did a double take at Ruby. “Holy bird droppings, you guys found Princess Twilight?”

The three of them were at loss for words as they stared at Gilda, until Rainbow Dash shouted, “Gilda! Get away from here!”

Spurred into action from her shout, Night Walker tucked his wings and dove down then upwards towards Gilda.

“Hey! Get away from me! What are you doing?”

Dropping her bag, she deftly avoided Night Walker, but he pursued her quickly and relentlessly. When he revealed his fangs and snarled at her, a fearful expression appeared on Gilda’s face, and her wings locked up for a moment, long enough for Night Walker to seize her.

Grabbing her shoulders from behind, he tightened his grip on her until she wasn’t able to flap, and was afloat entirely by his grasp.

“H-Hey! Let me go!” Gilda squirmed and slashed with her claws, but Night Walker held her still by gently biting onto her neck, applying enough pressure to freeze her in place but not enough to draw blood.

“I’d stay still if I were you,” he said between his teeth. “It’s been sometime since I’ve had griffon, and you wouldn't want to tempt me by squirming.”

“Let her go!” Rainbow Dash cried as she thrashed about, forcing Ruby to focus on holding her even more.

“Rainbow Dash! Calm down! I’ll let you go if you just stop!” Ruby pleaded.

“No! I need to stop him!”

Night Walker removed his mouth from Gilda’s neck, and looked smugly towards Rainbow Dash. “Don’t worry about it too much, Ruby. She’s a bit stubborn to listen to any reason.”

“R-Rainbow Dash…” Gilda stammered. “W-What’s going on?”

“Gilda! You’re going to be okay!” Rainbow Dash gritted her teeth as tears began to flow down her cheeks. “Don’t hurt her! Please!” Whipping her head to Ruby, Rainbow Dash gave her a painful and pleading expression. “Ruby! Please! Let me go and stop him! We need to stop him!”

Ruby looked back and forth between her and Night Walker, opening and closing her mouth in indecision. “I… I don’t…”

Ruby, he’s going to kill them! You’ve got to stop him!

No, he isn’t. I… I…

Ruby!

“Please, let me go,” Gilda weakly said. “I… I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t want any part of it. Just let me go.”

“I’m sorry dear,” Night Walker soothingly said. “It seems you just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. And being an acquaintance of that hot headed pegasus doesn’t help either.”

“N-Night Walker,” Ruby said after swallowing a lump in her throat. “We don’t have to kill them. Rainbow Dash helped me, and we have no idea who that griffin is. The bat ponies are safe, they’ve all probably left the tower by now.” Ruby felt how oddly dry her mouth was, despite having a bottle of blood before this mess had started. “We can just let them go, can’t we?”

Night Walker gave her an intense and scrutinizing glare, so much that Ruby became deathly silent and hovered backwards. He was staring at her in a way she had never seen him do before, and it was unnerving her in ways she couldn’t explain.

“Ruby…” he began slowly, bringing a faint smile to her lips. “... I’m very disappointed in how you turned out.”

Ruby’s smile fell, along with her ears, and she soon found it hard to even keep herself aloft. “W… What do you mean?”

A eerie silenced pass through the sky as Ruby stared questionably, and fearfully at Night Walker. His warm expression was gone, his reassuring smile had faded into a passive line, and his eyes stared coldly at her like some discarded item.

A knot tore itself into Ruby’s chest, and the wind picked up with a sudden flurry.

It had begun slowly at first, a soft hum in the distance that was barely audible. But as the seconds passed, it’s noise grew, and the vibrations in the air were more and more noticeable. Flicking her ears in surprise, Ruby turned her head to the west, and saw a faraway but blazing light approaching the city, like a hot meteor of white fire that threatened to destroy all within its path.

“It seems we don’t have the time to properly deal with these two,” Night Walker said as he too turned to view the small but growing distant light. “Ruby, let her go, it’s time we head back to the penthouse.”

“But… Rainbow Dash…” Ruby asked, finding it difficult to even form words.

“Don’t worry about her, she’ll be more than preoccupied with this.”

With a flex of his hooves, followed by the snapping of bones, Night Walker crushed where Gilda’s wings met with her shoulders, and dropped her from the sky.

GILDA! Rainbow Dash screamed at the top of her lungs.

Stunned, Ruby slipped on her concentration, and Rainbow Dash tore free, diving down with red eyes as Gilda screamed while she plummeted to the streets.

When the two of them became muffled by distance and the upper winds, a chilling quietness filled the space, and Ruby stared in disbelief as Gilda and Rainbow Dash vanished into the lights of the city below, half aware of the tears that had crept on the edge of her eyes.

“Let’s go, Ruby,” Night Walker commanded as he flew passed her.

She flinched in shock, then slowly hovered back to follow him, unable to pull her eyes from the city.

Ruby… how could you let him...

Ruby opened her mouth to reply aloud, but found no words.

How could you… How...

Shaking her head slowly, she reluctantly tore her eyes away, and flew after Night Walker.

... Why did you let him?

I… I didn’t know… I...

They could both be dead! Why did you let him do that!?

They were… they would have… he said they’d be enemies… but....

You could have stopped him!

Ruby’s vision became blurry, and she wiped away the stream of tears that had formed. She looked at her wet hoof questionably, still shocked at what had happened.

I… I don’t…

Gritting her teeth, she threw herself forward with all her might to reach the balcony, nearly tumbling to her knees when she landed onto it. Her knees were weak, her breath was short, and the knot inside of her chest grew more painful by the moment.

“Ruby!”

Ruby’s ears snapped forward, and she turned her head to see Applejack and Rarity standing in the doorway to the penthouse. “What… what are you...?”

With just one look at her, the two of them rushed forward and wrapped their hooves around her. “Darling, what happened? Where’s Rainbow Dash? She charged ahead of us before we could stop her but-”

“Rarity,” Applejack interrupted, and with a dark tone.

Looking up, she saw Applejack staring hard in front of them, and when she followed her gaze, Rarity saw Night Walker only a few steps away, smiling casually at the three of them.

Night Walker,” Rarity said, feeling herself slip immediately into the state she had been in the construction yard. Her eyes widened to catch as much light as she could, and her muscles tensed as she prepared herself. The difference this time however, was that she was not devoid of emotion like last time, and she openly showed it by clenching her jaw. “How dare you show up like this.”

“So hostile, Rarity,” he replied calmly. “And here I’ve been looking forward to this eventual reunion. Not how I imagined it, mind you.”

“Yer in for a world of hurt, you rotten ****,” Applejack said.

Night Walker gave a sly grin, and turned his head to the city lights. “Funny, Rainbow Dash had said the same thing.”

Surprise flashed over Applejack’s face, but was quickly replaced by seething anger. “What did you do to her?”

“I assure you,” he said with a toothy smile. “I didn’t harm a single hair on her. She left all on her own. ”

Applejack and Rarity stepped forward, placing themselves in front of Ruby. But the rising wind, followed by a sudden heat, washed over them, and drew their attention upward.

“Ah, and here’s the main event,” Night Walker said cheerfully.

In a blinding light, a large fireball came barreling through the sky and towards the tower, only to stop shy of some dozen feet and disperse into fragments of white flames. There, hovering with a visible light that brightened the face of the balcony, was Princess Celestia, the flames of her expedient travel still lingering on her form, and her eyes a brilliant white.

Night Walker,” she resentfully said in the Canterlot Voice.

“Princess Celestia, good to see you again as well,” he replied with a small bow.

Her eyes narrowed at his reply, and the trailing flames burned with further intensity. However, as her eyes moved across the balcony, she spotted Applejack, Rarity, and between them, Ruby’s huddled form.

“Twilight…” Celestia whispered, her furrowed brow giving way to a sorrowful expression. At once her flames extinguished, and her white eyes dimmed to their pink hues. Slowly, she landed herself onto the balcony, and stepped towards her. “Twilight…”

As Celestia drew closer, Ruby’s weak legs stiffened beneath her, and she found renewed strength alongside a kindled fire. “Don’t… you… come… a step… CLOSER!” Ruby screamed as she stood up.

Applejack and Rarity flinched at her shout, and parted between her and Celestia, who wore a look of shock, then pain.

“Twilight—”

“I’M NOT TWILIGHT!” Ruby screamed. Stomping her hoof, she flared her wings and pointed her horn towards Celestia. “Don’t you dare call me that! Not after what you’ve done to me! What you’ve done to my ponies!”

Celestia opened her mouth, but the vengeful glare from Ruby silenced her. With fresh tears, she whipped her head to Night Walker and flared her horn with a bright light. “WHAT DID YOU DO TO HER!?

Before Celestia could unleash her magic, however, a sudden purple aura appeared around her horn, and interrupted her casting with an overload of magic. Gasping in surprise, she turned back, and saw Ruby snarling defiantely.

“Do you like what I’ve done?” Night Walker chimed in, causing all their ears to turn to him. “It took sometime, but I managed to create a wonderful new persona. Unfortunately, she didn’t hold up to my expectations in the end, but she did the job well enough. It just happens that she is no longer needed.”

Applejack, Rarity, and Celestia gave Night Walker death glares as their bodies tensed, but the soft words from Ruby held them in place. “Night Walker… what are you talking about?” Lifting her head, Ruby stepped towards him. “What’s going on? Why aren’t we fighting her?”

Night Walker turned his gaze to Ruby, and she saw for a moment a soft expression pass across his face. “Ruby, I really did enjoy our time together. Truly, I did. You have been everything I had imagined you to be.” He raised his leg, shadows swirling about his hoof, leaving a diamond amulet in their wake.

“What are you doing?” Celestia growled.

Night Walker merely smiled at her, and brought the amulet close to his mouth. “Once again, leaving things to fate.”

With a faint whisper that even Ruby could not hear, Night Walker spoke onto the amulet, and it began pulsing with newfound life. With a blinding light, the amulet rose from his hoof, and shook with powerful magic, unlocking the bonds it held on it’s contents. Ruby felt her breath catch, and her legs lock into place, held by the magic that was pouring out of the amulet. With wide eyes, Ruby stared fearfully towards the amulet, unable to move or scream at the pull it had on her. Then, in a flashing of colors, a pulse of light left the amulet, and flung itself directly into Ruby.

The surge of magic caused Ruby to scream, and she felt an alien sensation fill her body, mind, and soul. Collapsing to her knees, she stared wildly at the ground as the magic wove and tore its way through her.

“Ruby! What’s wrong!”

“Twilight!”

“Ruby!”

The ponies were shouting around her, but she could not tell who was who. The sounds of magic being unleashed and Night Walker's taunting laughter dimly heard, but she could hardly focus on them due to the mind numbing feeling inside her. She could even barely feel the pair of hooves shaking her while their owner yelled in her ear.

Then, between the ravaging magic assaulting her body, a new pain arose. It built slowly, rising up from her very core to the front of her focus, burning with raw emotion. It was the pain of memories, and they flooded Ruby’s mind so much that she thought her head would explode.

In a what was a ear piercing scream, or a soundless one—she could no longer tell—Ruby’s horn flared, and the world around her vanished at the unconscious act of spellcasting. A moment later, the hard balcony floor had been replaced with soft grass, and bright lights of the city and Celestia’s magic had been traded for the darkness of the countryside.

She was far away from the amulet, but its magic still churned inside of her.

Shoving her hoof into the grass, Ruby’s pupils dilated as memory after memory resurfaced in her mind, colliding with the ones she already held.

It’s too much..., Ruby thought with tearful eyes.

A… Applejack.... Twilight breathed.

It’s too much…

Rarity, Rainbow Dash...

Ebon Wing, Cloud Shadow.

Pinkie Pie!

M… M… Mist Hoof… Lu… Lunar…

Fluttershy, Shining Armor!

Lil..y… Wing....

Spike! Celestia!

Night… Walker…

Ruby closed her overflowing eyes, and gripped the grass until chunks were being torn.

I remember it all now. I remember everything. Ruby! We can remember!

No… not we… it was… never ‘we’...

What are you saying?

Ruby clutched her stomach with her hooves, and fell onto the ground, shaking with exasperated breaths.

I’m... not real… I’m not... real… she quietly said in a mantra like fashion.

Ruby! Calm down! Everything isn’t back in place yet, I can’t remember everything yet!

I’m not real… I’m not real… I’m not… real...

Ruby… what are you doing?

Not real… never was… not real...

Twilight felt their inner world contort and shift, and gasped in surprise at the newfound control she had over the body. The sensations of the grass were now more vivid, and the cold autumn air filled her lungs in a way she never knew, until those memories slowly worked their way back her.

Staring across the ground in shock, Twilight felt and saw each piece of her life came back to her, flashing over her vision briefly like the pages of a long forgotten book. And with it, she could feel Ruby slip deeper and deeper inside of her.

“Ruby…” she whispered.

... I’m not real...

“Ruby!” Twilight shouted, feeling her own tears beginning to replace the ones that trailed down her already-stained cheeks as Ruby fell into the deeper recesses of her being.

Ruby!

Author's Note:

And here we are at the beginning of the third act. Bonds have been made and broken, and one alicorn will need to pick herself and the other pieces back up again. And for those wondering, Ruby is not gone. What Twilight will do with her, however, remains to be revealed. As for Lunar Pearl, her little adventure down the laundry chute is being written with other side stories during the bat ponies stay in Skyline Tower. It's not her own story that I promised and will someday deliver, but it will be a cute read nonetheless. And lastly, no, I did not forget about Shade Flare either. Ruby just happened to be to preoccupied with things to see how his duel turned out. Gotta give some hints and room for side characters to appear for future chapters/stories/side stories, and that pegasus may be one of them.

Thank you all for sticking along this ride. I have no idea how long the third act will be—something I've said for every act and somehow each is longer than the last—and it may seem like it will retread some ground as the characters deal with the aftermath of things, but it's necessary from a realistic standpoint. Twilight is in a difficult position right now, and it will be hard for her to accept/adjust.

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