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



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

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Act III - Chapter 39

With wistful eyes, I did spy,

The pony I had once known.

With shadows deep, and words so sweet,

She traveled to my home.

With days of worry, and nights in frets,

I beckoned her to my arms.

But still she was, and with heartfelt sobs,

She begged for me to run.

Yet I could not run...





“Maybe I could go see her now?”

The tinkling of a spoon against porcelain stopped as Rarity gave an exasperated sigh. “Pinkie, how many times must you make me say it? Let her rest. You can see her when she wakes up.”

Pinkie Pie lowered her ears solemnly as she turned her gaze back to the stairs. “How much longer do you think she’ll be asleep?”

“I don’t know,” Rarity replied, furrowing her brow yet again.

“But I-”

“Pinkie, please!” Rarity snapped. Pinkie Pie flinched from her voice, then sat back in her chair, forcing her eyes to wander over the table instead. Rarity kept a firm glare on her, but let it fall as she rubbed the side of her head. “I’m sorry, it’s just… Give her time. She hasn’t even been back for a day.”

Pinkie Pie gave a heavy sigh and grabbed onto her tail for solace, kneading it in an anxious fashion as a stifling silence filled the room. Rarity gave her a brief but worrying glance before stirring her cup of tea again, having yet to take a single drink as she stared into it absentmindedly. Pinkie Pie’s hoofs slowly became more erratic as she stroked her tail, quickening her pace as her eyes began to dart back and forth between the table and stairs. But just as she was about to open her mouth, a sudden and gentle touch caused her ears to perk in surprise, and she forced herself to take a deep breath. Pinkie Pie’s lip quivered for a moment as she wiped her eyes, then turned towards Fluttershy, giving her an apologetic smile.

Fluttershy returned it with a meek smile of her own before withdrawing her hoof and easing herself back into her chair. Rarity’s frown lessened slightly at the kept peace, but did nothing else as she continued to preoccupy herself with her cup.

Minutes passed between the three of them as they sat in uncertainty, apprehension, and concern before a soft clamour in the kitchen broke the atmosphere, followed by the entrance of Spike and Applejack.

“Got some some snacks, all,“ Applejack said, a note of dullness in her voice.

“And more tea,” Spike added. He flashed a hopeful grin as he showcased the pot, but lowered it when nopony responded. With less spirit, he placed it beside the plate of pastries Applejack had set at the center of the table. “I guess no one needs anymore yet…” he commented after eyeing the still full cups.

“I… I could use some more,” Fluttershy softly said as she extended her cup to Spike to show the little bit she had drank.

Spike gave her a small smile, then grasped the pot. “One full cup, coming right up.”

Fluttershy nodded in thanks as he topped her off, and began to daintily sip.

Silence filled the room again, and everyone’s eyes focused on some spot that wasn’t each other.

Rubbing his arm in hesitation, Spike briefly glanced at them all, then to the stairs. When nothing seemed to change at the head of the dark steps, he directed his gaze towards one of the still covered up windows, watching the sunset’s light slowly become duller and duller. “I take it Princess Celestia still hasn’t come down yet?”

“I believe she’s still speaking with Princess Luna,” Rarity answered without lifting her head.

“Has she asked for any more quills or parchments?” Spike asked hopefully.

“No.”

Spike fumbled with his claws, then looked back and forth between Rarity and Applejack. “”So um… What happened in Fillydelphia?”

Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy looked to the both of them as well, lifting their ears in interest. Applejack, however, gave them a sorrowful expression, and Rarity simply looked away as she hid her face behind her hair.

“To yell ya the truth, it’s a little hard to recount,” Applejack said as she took her hat off and placed onto the table. “There’s still somethings Ah ain’t too sure about, but Ah suppose you all should know.” Applejack looked towards Spike. “Did Twalight tell you anything before we showed up this morning?”

“No…” Spike replied.

Applejack took a deep breath as she closed her eyes, then sat herself into a chair. “Ah guess we’ll just have to wait to hear her part.” Staring at the food on the plate, yet feeling no hunger despite having not eaten all day, Applejack’s eyes glazed over somewhat.

“It took sometime, and Ah reckon a godly amount of luck, but we finally found her.” Applejack lifted her ears and looked to them all. “She was in Fillydelphia of all places, just walking around the street like it was nothing. Except she didn’t look like Twalight, not at first. She had some outfit and wig on disguising herself. Ah didn’t even recognize her ‘till Ah heard her voice and saw her mane.”

A smile appeared on Applejack’s face. “Ah couldn’t believe it at first. Here we were searching everywhere we could, and we just bump into her out of the blue.” In a moment, however, her smile faded. “Then things went wrong. She just took off from us, running like she was afraid of us or something. She said something about us and the Princesses, and some nonsense of how we were sent to capture her. Me and Rare’s chased her to an alleyway. We tried talking her down, to reach her and let her know everythings alright, but…”

Applejack gave a frown as she pulled her hooves to herself. “But then she gave me this look. Ah can’t quite describe it, but… It wasn’t right. It wasn’t a good look. It wasn’t Twalight…” Everyone remained quiet as Applejack recalled the memory, briefly glancing at each other in confusion.

“No, it wasn’t Twilight at all,” Rarity suddenly said. Picking her cup up with a hoof and taking a sip for the first time, she held it close to her as she tightened her grip.

“Wait, I don’t understand,” Spike said. “Did you find Twilight or not?”

“Yes and no,” Applejack answered. “Ah don’t know how, but Night Walker had done something to her, changed her… Aside from the obvious.” Everyone in the room gave a small shudder at hearing the name. “She kept calling herself Ruby, and swore up and down that we weren’t her friends.”

“Pinkie!” Rarity suddenly said.

Pinkie Pie froze in mid leap from her chair, then fell onto the floor with a pleading expression. “Pretty please?”

“She’s had as much comfort as she can take right now,” Rarity replied. “Just… Please, sit back in the chair and let us finish.”

Pinkie Pie gave another glance to the stairs, then slowly made her way back to her chair. She plopped her head onto the table, and as impossibly as always, though lacking in the usual energy, surprised them all by sticking her tongue all the way to the plate of pastries, and wrapping it around one to bring back and munch on despondently.

“Anyways,” Applejack continued, “We tried to get her to calm down, but it wasn’t working so we started getting ready to put that ring Princess Celestia gave us onto Twalight’s horn. And if it wasn’t for Rainbow Dash showing up like she did, we would have never gotten it on her.”

“How… How much longer do you think Dashie will be?” Fluttershy asked.

“Afraid Ah can’t say,” Applejack replied. “She said she’d be right behind us once she was done taking care of Gilda. She said she needed a day or two with her, just until she’s sure that she’ll be okay, or at least as well as she can be.”

Pinkie Pie sat straight up in surprise at the news and looked at Applejack intently. “What’s wrong with Gilda?”

“From what Rainbow told us,” Applejack replied, “Night Walker had gotten ahold of her and… Well, Ah’m not exactly sure what happened, but it doesn’t sound like the doctors think her chances of flying again are good.”

Fluttershy let out a small squeak as she covered her face with her hoof, and tears appeared in Pinkie Pie’s eyes.

With a sniff, Pinkie Pie asked, “Do… Do you think she’ll mind if I throw her a Get Well party?”

“I thought you two didn’t get along,” Rarity commented. “Wasn’t all those pranks at that party meant for her?”

Pinkie Pie wiped her eyes and gave a small smile. “She isn’t the nicest Griffin I know, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help her when she needs it. Besides, she’s still Rainbow Dash’s friend, I think. And that means she’s my friend too, even if we don’t like each other that much. Besides… Everypony needs someone when life is hard.” With her smile fading fast, Pinkie Pie turned her head back to the stairs.

Rarity opened her mouth to snap at her again, but instead gave a sigh. In a soft voice, she said, “I’m sure Twilight will be happy to see you too, once she’s gotten her rest.”

“Yeah…”

A minute of silence passed before Spike gave another insistent cough.

Applejack twitched her ears as she lifted her eyes from the ground. “Oh, right.” Taking a quick sip from her cup to wet her throat, she continued. “After we got the ring on her, we brought her back to the hotel the three of us had been using while we were in the city. We were right in the middle of figuring out what we were gonna do when Twalight woke up. We tried talking to her again, but no matter what we said, she wouldn’t believe that we were her friends or that she was Twalight.”

“I still don’t think you should have let her go,” Rarity interjected.

Applejack gave her a frown. “What were we supposed to do, take her away by force?”

“If need be, yes.”

Applejack gave a frown. “She wasn’t supposed to be a prisoner.”

Rarity flipped her hair as she set her cup down. “She might as well have been for how she was acting.”

“Like that would have made things any better.”

“It certainly would have prevented everything that happened. We could have been back in Ponyville already and near the Princesses for help.”

“You know how bad that would have gone, especially how she felt over those bat ponies.”

“Well, just because she was acquainted with those kinds of ponies does not mean they were more important than her.”

“Twalight needed us to be there for her and believe in her! Not toss her in a bag!”

“And how many times do we need to go over the fact that she WASN’T Twilight?”

“Girls, stop! Twilight’s trying to rest!” Spike shouted over them.

Applejack and Rarity blinked in surprise, before the two of them turned their heads shamefully away. “Rarity, Ah-”

“I’m going to see if there are any other kinds of tea,” Rarity announced before suddenly lifting herself from her chair. “Excuse me.” Keeping her eyes straight, Rarity trotted out of the room, leaving everyone to glance about each other.

“What’s wrong with her?” Spike asked with worry.

Applejack sighed. “This whole mess hasn’t been easy for any of us. But… it’s been a bit different for Rarity.”

“Different how?”

“I’m going to go check on her,” Fluttershy announced as she too hopped off her chair.

Applejack opened her mouth to protest, but instead closed it as she gave a sigh. “Yeah, you do that, Sugarcube.”

Fluttershy gave her a hopeful smile, then departed into the kitchen after Rarity. When she entered, she squinted her eyes at the little light in the room from the eastside window that was covered up. But the appearance of Rarity’s form opening a cabinet eased her concern, and she carefully made her way towards her side.

“Um… What other kinds of tea are there?”

“Let’s see,” Rarity said without looking at her. Taking the boxes out individually and holding their face to the dimmed light for a brief glance, Rarity began setting them in a row. “We have Mulberry, Blueberry, Dandelion, Daffodil… Which would you like?”

“Whatever one you’re going to make,” Fluttershy answered.

“Daffodile it is then. Excuse me”

Fluttershy moved to the side for Rarity, then squeaked at the sudden touch of something on her legs.

“That’s a chair, darling,” Rarity merely commented as she gave Fluttershy a reassuring touch with her hoof, then moved to the stove.

Fluttershy stood in silence as Rarity began preparations for making a new pot of tea, watching her in concern, gleaning what she could from the few details she could make of her face in the shadowed room, and noting that not once had Rarity used her horn all evening. Once Rarity had finished the preparations and set the pot to boil, she stood stoically near it, her eyes fixated on the warming water.

“Um… Rarity?”

“Yes?”

“.... Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, dear,” Rarity replied.

“I don’t think you are…”

“Well then, I’m as well as one can be during a time like this.”

Fluttershy rubbed her leg with a hoof, then slowly moved towards her. When she was by Rarity’s side, Fluttershy gently placed a hoof onto Rarity’s, and stared at her with a patient expression. “I can listen if you don’t mind while it boils. Just like at the spa.”

Rarity looked to Fluttershy out of the corner of her eyes, then nodded solemnly as she walked herself backwards to sit on one of the stools. “I’m sorry, dear… It’s just been a little much."

With a small smile, Fluttershy waved her hoof through the air until she too found a stool, and sat beside her all while keeping a comforting grasp.

“From everything horrible that’s happened to when Twilight vanished on us again in Fillydelphia… It’s been worrying beyond belief…”

“Which one is bothering you the most?”

“Twilight, obviously,” Rarity immediately answered. “But there’s also.... Celestia, I don’t even know where to begin.”

“Wherever you feel like,” Fluttershy said quietly.

Rarity gave a sniff, then lifted her head as she stared at the pot. “How about how I am the bane of Twilight’s existence and it’s apparently part of my bloodline to kill vamponies like her?”

Fluttershy gave a small meep, to which Rarity replied with a hollow laugh. “I know, it sounds silly doesn’t it? But it certainly doesn’t feel silly…”

“... What happened?”

“Well, a lot of things,” Rarity said shakily as she tried to clear her throat. “There were bat ponies whom I didn’t really care for, Twilight of course, and then there were these ponies…” Fluttershy remained quiet as Rarity took another breath, creasing her forehead as she recalled the moments.

“Twilight had visited us in our hotel. Things didn’t go well because she suddenly began to run from us. We followed her out to this construction yard of sorts, and then we found these ponies who called themselves ‘Hunters’.” Rarity placed her other hoof on top of Fluttershy’s. “They said I was the same as them, aside from the fact we shared the same coat color and similar mane hues. They said it was my duty to help them capture Twilight and…”

Fluttershy gripped Rarity tighter. “That’s nonsense. They don’t know anything about you.”

“I know, and I keep telling myself that,” Rarity replied. Her face, however, became more solemn. “But they were right. Deep down, some part of me agrees with them…”

“Rarity, you can’t let them trick you-”

“It has nothing to do with them convincing me, Fluttershy,” Rarity said as she gave a shuddered breath. “Whether I wanted to believe them or not, I could feel it. Princess Celestia even confirmed for me when she explained their history on our ride back.” Rarity’s eyelids fluttered as she sharply inhaled. “Every time it appeared it becomes stronger and more noticeable, and I don’t know when it will stop.”

“What are you talking about?” Fluttershy asked. She brought a hoof to stroke Rarity’s mane as she stared worryingly at her sorrowful face.

“It just happens, and it feels so natural,” Rarity continued. “Everything becomes so… mundane. It’s like the whole world becomes grey. My fears, my worries, my joys… it all disappears when I slip into that state. Nothing bothers me or becomes worrying. I didn’t even care about the ponies I injured…”

Fluttershy’s tightening grip made Rarity choke on a sob that had been building. “I’m sorry, I’m not making much sense, am I?”

“It’s okay…”

Rarity took a moment to recollect herself, then straightened her back as she turned to Fluttershy. “Applejack and I found Ruby in a construction yard. There were those ponies I mentioned and they were determined to get their hooves on Twilight. Applejack and I met up with a few bat ponies that were with her. After we finally caught up to Twilight, there were many of those strange ponies between us and her. I went to her side, clubbing each and every one of them I could that got in my way. Once I reached her, Twilight and I fended off five other ponies that were like me, uncaring, cold, and calculating.”

She paused for a moment as Fluttershy widened her eyes at the information dump before continuing. “I didn’t care how many broken bones I left, or how many ponies looked at me in fear. None of it bothered me, none of it reached me…”

Rarity turned her ahead when the familiar sound of bubbling water reached her ears, and she carefully pulled herself away from Fluttershy to see to it. Fluttershy on the other hoof, keep a worrying stare on her all the while. Eventually, she managed to get her mouth working again, and spoke quietly, “At least you helped Twilight.”

“Maybe…” Rarity replied. “But that strange state doesn’t always seem very helpful…”

“What do you mean?”

Rarity turned off the heat, and began fishing for cups in the cupboard. “Sometimes when I get into that strange mood, it feels like nothing matters, or at least bothers me. Everything becomes easy in figuring out what to do because there are no reserves in any of my actions. But other times…” Rarity grasped the first cup she came across, bringing it down for her to look at. But as she did, it began to shake from her hooves. “Other times… I… With Twilight as she is I….”

The cup fell from her hoof and clattered onto the table, leaving a small crack on its edge. At once Fluttershy was beside her, wrapping her hooves around Rarity’s increasingly shaking form. A soft sob began to escape Rarity as she leaned towards Fluttershy, letting her be enveloped by her wings. Keeping a firm hold on her, Fluttershy stroked her mane as gently as she could, waiting patiently for her to speak again. And when she did, it was so quiet that Fluttershy thought she had almost imagined it.

“Sometimes… I hate her…”

Fluttershy didn’t ask or say anything, choosing instead to help Rarity sit on the floor as she kept at her soothing touch.

“I can’t stop myself from feeling it,” Rarity half choked and whispered, trying as hard as she could to keep her voice low. “But there are times when I just hate her… I hate her for what she is, and it makes me sick just looking at her. I nearly struck her with my hoof when she drank my blood! What kind of friend does that?”

Fluttershy didn't answer.

“And even worse, It’s now becoming the only thing I feel when I’m in that uncaring state, and it’s becoming easier and easier to fall into it! There’s nothing else besides that hate!” Rarity nuzzled her face into Fluttershy’s shoulder, leaving trails of mascara and tears. “I’m an awful pony for feeling that, but I can’t stop it! It’s tearing me apart and I don’t know what to do!”

Rarity began to weep as quietly as she could into Fluttershy who silently cried with her as well. The two of them remained on the floor for sometime, all while holding each other for comfort from the wrenching pain in their hearts. Eventually, though, Rarity’s breathing became less erratic, and she quickly wiped her eyes as she stood herself back up. “We… We can’t let the tea become cold…”

Fluttershy reluctantly let Rarity go to finish filling the cups, finding it difficult to stand up herself. Fluttershy watched with still streaming tears as Rarity set the cracked cup to the far edge of the counter and began pouring lukewarm tea into new ones. When Rarity turned around to offer Fluttershy’s hers, Fluttershy stared intently Rarity’s eyes.

“Do you hate her now?”

Rarity widened her eyes at the question, then meekly looked away. “No…”

“Did you hate her when you defended her from those other ponies?”

“... No…”

Fluttershy stepped forward and gave Rarity a quick hug, brushing her cheek in a motherly fashion. “Then you aren’t an awful pony.”

Rarity opened her mouth in surprise, but found no words to speak with. Instead, she closed her eyes as another tear fell from her, and returned Fluttershy’s embrace.

“... Thank you, Fluttershy…”

Smiling in return, Fluttershy took her cup, and positioned herself by Rarity’s side, waiting patiently for her to recollect herself and clear the mascara trails on her face. When she was finally ready, the two of them made their way back into the living room, finding that Spike had already lit the candles to brighten the darkening library.

Pinkie Pie and Spike gave Rarity a worrying stare, which Rarity returned with a reassuring smile. “Sorry about that, everyone. I’m okay, now.” Fluttershy and Rarity returned to their seats, all while Applejack watched Rarity with a knowing glance, then flashing an appreciative smile to Fluttershy.

After taking a sip from her new cup, Rarity cleared her throat. “Now then, where were we?”

“Ah sped them up about the fight in the yard and who those ponies were,” Applejack said.

Rarity blinked in surprise, then nodded slowly in understanding when neither Spike nor Pinkie Pie suddenly looked to her. “Right. Well, after that, we got ahold of one of the ponies attacking Twilight. He informed us of where Twilight was. We sent a message to Princess Celestia right away at the Royal Communication center in Fillydelphia. Rainbow Dash met up with us later that evening, but she decided to go ahead on her own once we told her everything.”

“She was a might upset she had been away during the fight,” Applejack added.

“That’s an understatement,” Rarity said.

“Then what happened?” Spike asked.

“Well, like Ah said, Ah’m not too sure what happened with Rainbow,” Applejack began. “Something about fighting them Hunters in the sky when all of a sudden Night Walker showed up.” Applejack furrowed her brow. “When me and Rare’s got to the balcony he was already there with Twilight.”

“Did you fight him?” Spike asked with wide eyes.

Applejack looked over to him and gave him a small but oddly sad smile. “No, that was Princess Celestia’s job.”

“She got there in time?” Fluttershy asked.

“Like a shooting star with all the heat of the sun,” Applejack said. “Ah’ve never seen a Princess look that powerful or angry before. She made that time Twilight turned on fire look like a tiny spark against a pyre.”

“There was a small scuffle between her and Twilight,” Rarity continued for Applejack. “It was then that Princess Celestia saw first hoof how Night Walker had twisted her. Then…”

Applejack and Rarity looked to one another, wondering who should say it.

“Then…” Applejack said. “Night Walker brought out the necklace, the same one you saw that night she disappeared, Spike.”

Spike rubbed his claws together as he glanced to the spot it had happened many nights ago. “What… What he do with it?”

“Ah wasn’t too sure of that myself at the time,” Applejack said. “He whispered something into it and it caused Twilight to start freaking out on us. Me and Rare’s tried to get her to calm down, but it was like she couldn’t even hear us. Then, all of a sudden she flared her horn, and she was gone.” Applejack sighed as she reached for her cup. “After that, Princess Celestia fought with Night Walker, but the awful devil managed to get away. We searched the penthouse for Twilight, but there wasn’t anypony left, except for Prince Blueblood that is.”

“Prince Blueblood?” Spike asked.

Rarity gave a snort as she frowned. “That frivolous stallion had apparently been the one to give shelter to Twilight and the bat ponies while they were in the city. The moment he saw Princess Celestia he started spewing some nonsense of praise for Night Walker and charged her. She should have thrown him off the tower then and there.”

“Whether he’s smart or stupid, Princess Celestia believed Night Walker had gotten to him somehow in someway,” Applejack added quickly, quelling the surprised faces towards Rarity somewhat.

“You’re right, an ego-centric stallion like himself wouldn’t have any problem being tricked,” Rarity replied.

“So what did the necklace do? Did you guys find Twilight afterwards?” Spike asked.

“No, we didn’t,” Applejack said. “That letter you sent us was the first thing we heard of her after she vanished on us again. We came straight away after that. It was on the way that Princess Celestia filled us in on some things.”

Applejack gave a brief glance to Rarity who only turned her gaze away.

“Apparently, that necklace he stole had been what he used to control Twalight. He… “ Applejack found it difficult to speak, and took a quick sip as she steadied herself. “He used it to steal her memories. All this time Twilight didn’t know who she was, and he convinced her that she was Ruby, a vampony princess from the same time he was from…”

Everyone besides Applejack and Rarity gave a small gasp, then turned their heads to the stairs. The sun had set some minutes ago, and the deep and foreboding shadows that filled the upstairs only served to emphasize the dark fate that had befallen Twilight. Now, it wasn’t just Pinkie Pie that wished they could go upstairs right away and be beside Twilight.

Then, either through coincidence or an appropriately timed entrance, the golden trimmed hooves of Celestia appeared at the top of the steps, and she slowly made her way down the stairs.

“Princess,” Applejack said as they all got off their chairs and moved towards her.

“How is she?” Spike asked worryingly.

“Is she awake? Can we see her yet?” Pinkie Pie asked right after.

“No, not yet,” Celestia replied. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she turned to look at each of their faces. “I trust you’ve all been informed on what’s happened?” The nods in return answered her. “Good.”

“Princess Celestia,” Rarity began. “What’s going to happen next?”

Celestia looked towards her, and saw the faint glint of ire behind Rarity’s eyes. “I spoke with my sister. As it stands, there has been no news of Night Walker or the other bat ponies.”

Rarity tightened her lip, then gave a nod in reply.

“But right now, that should not be your main focus,” Celestia continued. “Night Walker and his followers will be dealt with by Princess Luna and myself. As for you five, you must be by Twilight’s side now more than ever.”

“Ah think Ah speak for everyone in that this is where we all want to be,” Applejack answered.

Celestia looked to each of them again, and gave a heartfelt smile. “Twilight is lucky to have such faithful friends such as yourselves. No matter what the circumstance, you must all be here for her to help through this.” Celestia looked to Rarity last as she spoke, then turned her head to the covered window. “I’ll be staying until Twilight wakes up, but then I must go. My sister and I have much to discuss face to face.”

“Can I get you a cup of tea?” Spike asked.

Celestia turned to him and smiled. “I would love one.”

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

“The truth is that I do not know how much Night Walker’s influence has affected her,” Celestia said. The six of them were seated at the table as they talked, recounting various details or questions that they had yet to bring up amongst each other, doing whatever it took to pass the time. “He was called the Shadow for many reasons. One of those was his ability to seep into the heart and soul of another pony, twisting and darkening them for his own agenda or experiments.” Celestia looked to the wall with an unsavory glance, almost as if watching a distant scene. “Even among the Four Shepherds, he was one of the ones I worried about the most.”

“You mentioned them before,” Rarity said. “Who are they?”

“The Four Shepherds were ponies who were most known for their evil, destruction, or darkness. Equestria was not the pleasant and peace filled land as it is now, but it had never been as awful as it was during their reign.”

“How come we’ve never heard about them until now?” Spike asked.

Celestia closed her eyes as she leaned slightly back in her chair. “There was once a time when I believed the only chance for a brighter future was for the past to be hidden so that no pony could recall the previous darkness. After all these years, that decision seems to be catching up to me. First my sister, then Discord and Sombra, and now Night Walker…”

Celestia became quiet, and so did the rest of them. They all became lost in some thought or another, wondering how things came to be, or what they would do next. Even though Twilight was back, they still felt as powerless as they had during those weeks of worry. There was a glimmer of hope that maybe things would become right again in some manner, but it was a dim one, and they did not know how to go about reaching for it. The silence would have been unnerving if they hadn’t all become so familiar with it as of late. But unlike those late nights spent awake in desperate hope, the first one to break it was Twilight who gave a sudden cough, and they all turned their heads to the top of the stairs.

“I’m… I’m awake now…” Twilight hesitantly said.

In a single moment Pinkie Pie had leapt from her chair and was already running up the steps. “TWILIGHT!”

Twilight gasped in surprise, then gave a wide smile as Pinkie Pie threw her arms around her and began nuzzling her cheek.

“I’m so glad you’re back!” Pinkie Pie cried as she swung herself to and fro from Twilight’s neck.

“I missed you too, Pinkie,” Twilight replied, glad for once that she was able to handle her antics with a bit more strength.

“I’m going to throw you the biggest and bestest party you have even seen! It’ll have cake, balloons, gifts, pie, fizzlers, and everything!”

Twilight giggled as the weight in her chest seemed to become lighter despite the weight pulling on her, and she wrapped a hoof around Pinkie Pie. “I can’t wait to have a Pinkie Pie party.”

Pinkie Pie settled down for a moment, and gave Twilight a long hug in return, wiping her eyes with her mane despite having her hoofs full. “I’m so glad you’re back…”

After a moment, Pinkie Pie pulled back and gave Twilight a happy grin, then turned her head to everyone below with a determined expression. “I swear by the pony sitting in that chair, if any of you goes missing like Twilight did, I’m never letting you out of my sight again!”

“Pinkie…” Twilight said with a nervous smile.

“No Pinkie’s or butts, I mean it,” she replied.

Once she was sure she made eye contact with everyone to show her point, Pinkie Pie let herself go from Twilight, and proceeded to bounce back down the stairs. Twilight followed right after, and saw Fluttershy standing at the bottom of the steps with an expectant grin and wet eyes.

“Fluttershy!” Twilight cried as she flew down the remaining steps and embraced her. To Twilight’s surprise, Fluttershy gripped her with more strength than she thought was possible from her, and lowered her ears in concern of the sudden sobs that emanated from her.

“Fluttershy, it’s okay, I’m back,” Twilight said reassuringly as she held her.

“I know,” Fluttershy’s quiet voice said, having been only audible enough for Twilight’s sharp ears. “But I’m with Pinkie on this. You or anypony else can’t ever go missing again.” Fluttershy gripped even tighter, and she buried her face into Twilight’s shoulder. “You girls are my only friends, and I wouldn’t know what to do if something happened to any of you…”

“Fluttershy…”

Twilight waited patiently for Fluttershy to calm herself, helping her dry her tears when she did eventually pull herself away. With a reassuring smile, they gave each other one last hug, then went to join everyone by the table. Along the way Celestia’s wing gently brushed Twilight’s back who returned it with a quick nuzzle, and Spike got a hug as well as he pulled out a seat for her. One way or another, all of them shared a comforting touch with Twilight before she sat herself, then they all waited patiently as she took a drink from the cup of tea Spike prepared for her.

“How you feeling, Sugarcube?” Applejack asked.

“Much better now, thank you,” Twilight replied. She looked to both Applejack and Rarity, then blushed as she shrank in her seat a little. “I’m sorry about yesterday.”

“Don’t think nothing of it,” Applejack replied right away as Rarity averted her eyes. “That’s what we're here for, and we’ll be happy to help you out anytime you get hungry again.”

“Thank you,” Twilight said, feeling a tear or two beginning to build in her eyes. “But hopefully it won’t be much longer. Once I figure out how to cure myself, I’ll be back to my old self.”

The smiles on everyone's face faded at Twilight’s words, and they turned their eyes to something else that wasn’t her. Twilight frowned at this, then looked down to Spike’s sudden touch as he gave her a saddened expression.

“Twilight,” Celestia said, drawing her and everyone’s attention. “You know how much faith I have in you and your abilities. You have surpassed levels that only few ponies have ever came close to reaching, and even some feats that Star Swirl The Bearded could not achieve.”

“But…” Twilight hesitantly said.

“But… I’m afraid that even you will not be able to find a cure for this.”

“I won’t know until I try,” Twilight replied. “If I just have some time and maybe some reference books from the Crystal Kingdom, I might be able to-”

“Twilight,” Celestia interrupted, waiting until she had her full attention. Celestia held a firm look, but it fell away to a sympathetic expression. “I’ve spent centuries trying to find one. I’ve had the best and brightest in all generations tackle the problem. Even though Star Swirl with all his mastery on Soul Sight warned me it was not possible, I kept trying, and I still have yet to succeed.”

“Star Swirl could use Soul Sight?” Twilight asked in surprise.

“Indeed he could,” Celestia replied. “But even so, he was confident there would be no way to reverse vampirism.

“Twilight was able to complete one of Star Swirl’s spells,” Rarity said. “Who’s to say she couldn’t find a way to get rid of it that he didn’t think of?”

Celestia shook her head. “This is not some spell that he had been on the verge of completing or a theory that he laid the foundation of. This was something he wholeheartedly believed could never be undone. He even actually supported it in some ways.”

The Star Swirl The Bearded thought vampirism was right?” Rarity said in distaste. “I’m sorry, Princess Celestia, but I’m having difficulty in believing that.”

“Star Swirl thought many things that not all ponies agreed with,” Celestia replied. “Some of those caused him suffering, and others prevented the suffering of others. Regardless, vampirism was not something he believed could ever be undone, and only after centuries of trying to prove that notion wrong, I can no longer but choose to accept it.”

“All the bat ponies in Dusk Town…” Twilight said. Celestia’s slow nod answered her, and Twilight’s eyes fell to the table. “Then I’m stuck like this… Forever…”

Everyone looked to Twilight sorrowfully, all except for Rarity who made a ‘tsk’ noise. “There has to be something we can do.”

“All we can do right now is help Twilight transition into her new lifestyle,” Celestia said. “It will not be easy, but we will find a way.”

The room became silent once again as those words played across their minds, each of them imagining what the future would hold now that they knew it would no longer be the same as it once was. But with it, a thought crossed Twilight’s mind, and she furrowed her brow.

“Wait a minute…”

“What is it, Twilight?” Spike asked.

Twilight’s eyes moved about as she wracked her brain, then turned her eyes to Celestia. “You never were able to cure the bat ponies, instead causing mutations to appear, right?”

Celestia nodded. “I’m afraid so.”

“Then how did I… I mean, her...” Twilight looked down to the table again in deep thought as the others looked at her with questioning glances.

“Twalight, what is it?” Applejack asked.

“Back at Skyline Tower,” Twilight began, still staring intently at the wood. “One of the ponies had been transformed into a vampony…”

“Then it is as I feared,” Celestia said, narrowing her eyes. “Night Walker is trying to rebuild his forces.”

“Probably, but that isn’t what’s important right now” Twilight said, much everyone’s surprise. “I’m trying to remember, but… I think… A cure had been found during my time there. At least, something close to a cure.”

Celestia opened her mouth in disbelief, and leaned forward. “You found a way to reverse vampirism?”

“No, not entirely,” Twilight answered, finally lifting her gaze from the table. “More like a suppressant. If I remember correctly, if they have blood they become vamponies for a short time, but when they didn’t they were are just regular ponies aside from the bat features. No mutations, no illnesses, no problems…”

“Are you certain?” Celestia said with wide eyes. “Are you certain you found a way to save them?”

“I’m not entirely sure, my memory is still vague on the details, but I’m fairly certain that’s what happened. Though, I… I wouldn’t say that I discovered it…”

“What do you mean?” Celestia asked.

Everyone leaned forward as Twilight closed her eyes and began taking deep breaths, patiently waiting for her to answer. Eventually, Twilight mustered her courage, and she looked to them all, her red eyes flashing in the candlelight.

“I think… I think it’s time I told you all about Ruby.”

Author's Note:

Just because Twilight has something to focus her energy on, don't think she's emotionally over everything yet. I'm delving into new realms of writing for myself by trying to make her trauma feel real, and I know it it's something that comes and goes, so forgive me if I retouch on it later and doing it too much or too little while finding a good balance. Hope everyone's enjoying the story thus far. The action will pick back up as Twilight works out what to do with herself. Also, for something to look forward too in the far off future, I'm sure you all can imagine what Twilight's opinion of Prince Blueblood will be in the sequel.

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