• 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 47

Ready?

Apprehension emanated from Ruby, but she refuse to let it sway her. Yeah, let’s do it.

Twilight readied herself, and then rapped the door with her hoof. She waited for some time, and when she heard no response, she raised her hoof to knock again.

She isn’t going to answer. Just go in.

But if she wants to be left alone, shouldn’t we-

I’m not getting on that airship until we see her.

Twilight fidgeted in place at the reminder that they’d leave Dusktown within the hour, hating the notion of being late among all things. But she and Ruby had put aside this event for too long, and it was more important than not being late when it came down to it.

Twilight sighed. Alright, I’m going in.

Hesitantly, Twilight opened the door and closed it behind her as she entered into the sparse bedroom. Right away she spotted Lunar Pearl curled on top of the bed with her head facing the wall, away from Twilight. Twilight had ensured she had been loud enough to announce her presence, but Lunar Pearl didn’t acknowledge her in the slightest. Twilight feared that she might have caught her sleeping, but the faint rise in Lunar Pearl’s heart rate told her she was awake and aware of Twilight’s presence.

“H-Hello, Lunar Pearl,” Twilight said sweetly. When Lunar Pearl still did not respond, Twilight walked to her and sat on the edge of the mattress. “I hope it’s okay that I came in. I wanted- I mean, we wanted to see you before I left.”

Twilight craned her head to see Lunar Pearl’s face, barely been able to see her face covered by her arms and tail. Even then, Lunar Pearl kept her eyes locked on the adjacent wall. Aside for the slight furrow of her eyebrows, her expression was neutral.

Twilight’s ears folded back from worry. I don’t know what to say...

It was some moments before Ruby spoke. Just… Say what I say.

Twilight felt uneasy speaking for Ruby in such a personal matter, but it was too important to Ruby to deny the request. Twilight would oblige for now, but she mentally memoed herself that at some point they need to figure out if it was possible for Ruby to speak as if she was in control of their body again. Twilight furrowed her brow as she concentrated internally, doing her best to relay Ruby’s words as soon as they were mentally spoken.

“Hey, Lunar Pearl. It’s Ruby.”

Lunar Pearl’s tail flicked, and she briefly glanced at Twilight before turning her gaze back to the wall.

“I’m sorry that I haven’t spent time with you, especially after how hard you worked to find me. A lot has been happening to me, but a lot has been for you too. Being away from your sister, learning about who and what I really am, coming back to Dusktown… I can only imagine how hard all of this has been for you. And I’m only going to make it harder by leaving you again.”

Twilight’s paused momentarily at the bluntness in Ruby’s words, but she nonetheless continued on.

“I haven’t given up on fixing all of you, and you can be sure that I won’t let your sister get hurt if I can help it. I don’t know when she or I’ll be back, so until then, take care of yourself. I promise I’ll try to get everything sorted out as soon as I can. I…”

Twilight cocked her head as she listened, but Ruby was struggling to even vocalize her next words. Though she found it hard to say, it had been a feeling Ruby had held ever since she woke up, something that developed in the cave when it was only her and the bat ponies, when her world was so much simpler. But it was a feeling she had never actually said aloud, and it pained greatly that she wouldn’t be able to say it for herself.

“I…” Twilight mumbled. She paused to swallow the lump in her throat before she said quietly, “I love you, Lunar.”

Lunar Pearl flinched as she let out a soft choke, and then she buried her face in her arms and tail further.

The sound of a shuddered breath came from Ruby before she said, Alright. Let’s get going.

Twilight gaped. What!? That’s it?

Yeah, that’s it.

You can’t just leave it like that!

I can and I will. Get us out of the room and don’t say another word to her.

Twilight’s jaw fell in disbelief. She then tried to formulate something cheerful to say that would somehow raise Lunar Pearl’s spirits, but Ruby’s insistent attitude, along with an uncomfortable pluck of a soul fiber, convinced Twilight otherwise. She gave one last forlorn look at Lunar Pearl before she reluctantly got up and left the room.

After closing the door, Twilight glared at the ground as she flicked her tail about. Do you honestly it was a good idea to leave her like this? Do you have any idea what she’s going through?

We both have an idea of what’s she going through, and it’s pretty much the same. This isn’t easy for me, Twilight. You know that. But there’s nothing we can say to help her. There simply aren’t sweet words for this kind of stuff.

She’s just a filly!

She made her decisions, Ruby stated. Twilight scoffed, but held her tongue solely due the turmoil that bubbled beneath Ruby’s relatively calm voice. It was her choice to leave her sister and the rest of them for the hopeful chance that she’d find me. But instead she got the two of us stuck like this, and even worse, she doesn’t even know if she can believe you that I’m still here. On top of that, she’s back in Dusktown. Her chances of escaping again and heading back to her sister just became nonexistent. For all she knows, Lily’s going to die.

And you think letting those horrible facts stew in her head is healthy for her? Twilight replied in disgust. If that’s what vamponies think being kind to each other is then we need to seriously restructure some things.

She doesn’t need a pony to comfort her, she needs a pony who can take action for her, Ruby replied. You know this isn’t easy for me, Twilight. Of course I want her to feel better, but lying to her about the situation isn’t going to help. She’s had more than enough words and false promises in her life. I won’t give her another, not unless I can make it come true. And as much as I hate to say it, she’ll at least be safe here while we handle things.

Ruby shared a mental image of the missing bat ponies, and with bitterness, Night Walker’s smiling face. There’s nothing I want more than to take him down and fix all the bat ponies, Ruby said with a growl. The sooner we take care of that, the sooner Lunar Pearl can have a normal life. Nothing is going to help her more than that.

Twilight scowled at the floor, letting her own anger at the image of Night Walker burn along side with Ruby’s. I still think you could’ve gone about it better than that with her. When we’re done with this, we are spending some serious time reevaluating vampony social standards and refreshing you on childcare books.

When Night Walker is dead and the bat ponies are fixed, we can do anything you like.

With their goals realigned, Twilight left the hallway for the front door. She spoke briefly to the bat pony mare and stallion who’d be watching over Lunar Pearl, neighbors who Lily Wing trusted before to babysit Lunar Pearl. After a quick talk and warning to keep an eye on Lunar Pearl, Twilight said her goodbye and left. Outside, she found all of her friends and the escort of guards waiting, and then all together, they started making their way to the docks.

Pinkie Pie trotted to Twilight’s side with a worried face. “How’s Loopy doing?”

“I couldn’t get a word out of her,” Twilight sadly replied. “Was she at least a little happy when you were with her?”

“I got her to smile now and then,” Pinkie Pie replied cheerfully, but her enthusiasm dropped as quickly as it had appeared. “She and everypony else are worried about lots of stuff.” Twilight nodded in agreement, and they walked silently for some time.

“Twilight?”

“Yes, Pinkie?”

“You can fix them, right?”

“Yeah… I think so.”

“When you do, I’m going to need an airship or three.”

Everyone, including the guards, looked to Pinkie Pie a questionly. “Why in Equestria would you need that?” Twilight asked.

“Because I’m going to throw the biggest, bestest, most happy-making party I’ve ever thrown.”

Her proclamation made them all pause, and while the guards simply had no idea of the oncoming powerful forces, it brought a smile to the girls faces, even Rarity. But Pinkie Pie’s unnaturally grim determination soon made those smiles vanish. The fact that Pinkie Pie of all ponies was treating the situation with such seriousness only reminded them how dire things were, and how much was at stake for the bat ponies.

That reminder in turn served to cause further indecision within Twilight as to what she would do once she arrived in Canterlot.

Still haven’t decided on asking them to come or not? Or even telling them at all?

I probably should, shouldn’t I? Twilight asked in a guilty tone. Not depending on them is practically the cause of everything bad that’s happened so far…

If it helps, I’m as nervous about it as you are.

Twilight felt Ruby’s stance on the matter clearly, but as anxious as they both were, it was for entirely different reasons.

You know that they’ll help the bat ponies.

I know they will. You don’t have to start sharing your memories, Ruby said even as Twilight began to share her past. You don’t have to convince me that they’re trustworthy, not even Rarity who I’m aware is fighting this as hard as she can. I really am trying to not be so cautious of them. It’s just hard since they aren’t my friends and that almost nothing good happened in Fillydelphia between us. And don’t start recalling about the fight in the yard. I’m fully aware they risked their lives for the bat ponies. I’m trying to stay as positive as I can. It’s just… It’s hard, okay?

Twilight gave a small smile. I know this is hard for you, Ruby. Thank you so much for everything.

A wave of appreciation washed over Ruby who begrudgingly accepted it, and to Twilight’s delight, didn’t try to reflect back at her. Alright, alright. Let’s just focus on when we should talk to them. I say we do it when we’re close to landing so they don’t have too much time to stop us if they decide otherwise.

You really need to find one personality and stick with it, Twilight commented. It’s almost random now on what does and doesn’t set you off. Though, I guess it isn’t too bad being able to make you get flustered from time to time.

I started off as a copy of you, remember? I may have developed my own tendencies, but I’m still you by most regards, even the aspects you deny.

Please, like I get flustered so easily.

The sudden and forceful image of Twilight smearing her face and drool across the mirror flashed through their mind, and Twilight stumbled at reliving the experience from Ruby’s perspective.

“You okay, Twalight?” Applejack asked.

“Just fine!” Twilight quickly replied and with bright red cheeks.

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

With Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash for company, Twilight watched from the rear of the ship as they drew further away from Dusktown. She visually took in each detail she could while the town was still within sight. From its starlike decor to the bat ponies she saw, she and Ruby held the images firmly in their minds. Their visit had been short, and under unfortunate circumstances, but they would come back to Dusktown, someday. When Night Walker was dead, they would be back.

Their mixed escort of bat ponies and pegasi continued with them even when the town finally vanished from view, stating that they’d escort them all the way to the edge of the Unicorn Range. But as reassuring as their company was supposed to be, even the bat ponies Twilight would secretly glance at now and then, their rigid and tight formation only caused Twilight to recount the various rules and restrictions on the town, and inevitably, Elder Grove who wholly supported them. He had kept their departure on the docks formal and short, having only to say farewells to Twilight and Celestia due to Luna staying behind. But as kind and hopeful as his words were that this terrible time would pass and things would become better again, Twilight heard the hidden message intended for her in the tone of his voice.

Unfortunately for him and his ideals, Twilight and Ruby had already made up their minds on the matter.

“That sure was some place,” Applejack commented.

“I didn’t like it,” Rainbow Dash said.

After a moment, they all turned to Pinkie Pie for her opinion, but her grim and silent mood was answer enough.

Applejack tipped her hat in the town’s direction in farewell, and then turned to Twilight. “How you holdin’ up, Twalight?”

“As well as I could be, I guess,” Twilight replied. With a sigh, she turned away from the rail. “It wasn’t at all what I thought It’d be like. Artiscally, it’s a beautifully town of course. Probably the best in all of Equestria. But I sort of feel the same way you girls do about it.”

“What’d Ruby think about it?” Applejack asked.

Her question caught both Twilight and Ruby off guard, and Twilight’s ears perked in surprise. Turning to face her friends, Twilight saw all three of them looking to her expectantly.

“She… She didn’t like it much either,” Twilight slowly answered.

“Can’t say I blame her,” Rainbow Dash said. “I mean, come on. The place has flight zones for Celestia’s sake. I’d go crazy if somepony told me where I could and couldn’t fly.”

Rainbow Dash gave a dissatisfied snort as Twilight looked to her with a puzzled expression. She was trying to figure out why they had a sudden interest and openness to Ruby. But without further explanation, Rainbow Dash flexed her wings, making her joints pop from the stretch, and then began some physical warm ups. “Alright then, what’s plan? We gonna head after Night Walker right away or do you need to pick up something up first?”

Twilight stiffened at the question. “W-What are you talking about?”

“You can drop it, Twi,” Rainbow Dash said, not even bothering to look at her as she threw a few hoof punches at an imaginary target. “There’s no way we're letting you do it alone.”

“We figured there might’ve been a chance you’d go and do something crazy,” Applejack said. “Heck, Ah’d probably do the same thing if Ah’d gone through what you did. But it was Rare’s who mentioned you might be up too something. She felt pretty confident you’d go and try to pull some crazy stunt.”

Twilight’s stared in disbelief at the three of them, mentally cursing at Rarity all the while. Pinkie Pie still hadn’t said anything yet, but the intense focus she had on Twilight showed she felt the same.

Twilight glanced at the ship's railing, but the moment she did, Rainbow Dash jumped in front of her. “Don’t you even think about it,” she warned as she poked Twilight’s chest. ”Try running again and I can’t promise my tackle will be nice like last time.”

Twilight fearfully leaned away from Rainbow Dash’s intense glare and proximity, their noses nearly touching.

Ruby vividly recalled the mid air tackle. She calls that being nice?

Applejack came to Twilight’s side, and gave a smug smile. “Face it, Twi. There ain't no way we’re ever letting you handle something like this again on your own. We’re with ya one hundred percent.”

“But-” Twilight stammered.

“One hundred and twenty percent,” Rainbow Dash corrected.

Twilight stepped backwards as she looked at them in astonishment. “But what if something awful happens? This is going to be dangerous!”

“All the more reason we’re gonna come with ya,” Applejack said.

Pinkie Pie then came to her side as well with a high but impossibly slow hop, trapping Twilight between the three of them. Twilight felt her heart twinge from their support, but the thought of the worst case scenarios made it painful. “This is serious, girls,” Twilight warned.

“And so are we,” Rainbow Dash replied.

“You could die!” Twilight shouted. “I couldn’t bear losing any of you!”

“You think that’s enough to stop us?” Rainbow Dash said with a raised eyebrow. “We’ve faced hydras, diamond dogs, dragons, changelings… Not to mention Sombra, so that’s one Shepherd’s butt we’ve already kicked.”

“That was Princess Cadance,” Twilight corrected as her voice rose in volume. She wanted to scream at them at how serious and incredibly, horrifically, and violently concerning the matter was, but due to their unbudging stance, Twilight forcibly lowered her voice as she attempted to calm down. “You have no idea how much I want you girls with me. It’s just that as scary and horrible as the idea of facing Night Walker alone is, losing any of you is even worse.”

“This ain’t our first rodeo, Sugarcube,” Applejack replied. “Ah don’t plan on dying myself, but Ah’d be damned if Ah didn’t risk my life making sure you don’t die neither.”

“Exactly. We’ll be able to handle anything as long as we got each other’s backs,” Rainbow Dash added, punching her hooves together for added effect. “Besides, if any of us are about to die, all you gotta do is bite us and turn us into a vampony.”

Twilight’s eye twitched as her voice rose multiple octaves. “I’m not turning you into vamponies!”

Rainbow Dash she shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know, Twi. I have to say, I think I’d be a pretty cool vampony.” She then snickered at Twilight’s beat red face, a symptom of wanting to shout too many things at one time.

Suddenly, Pinkie Pie raised her arm and cocked it like a weapon, creating an audible ‘cha-chink’ that made the rest of the girls pause. With a deadset expression and deep voice, Pinkie Pie said, “We’ve got a party to crash.”

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

“Again, are you really sure that you-”

“Come on, Twilight! How many times do we have to say yes?”

Twilight flashed Rainbow Dash an annoyed look before turning back to the others. All six of them were now in one of the ship’s cabins. They were only a few hours away from arriving in Canterlot, and so far each attempt at planning their next course of action had been halted by Twilight to reaffirm that they all indeed wanted to come. To her relief, Fluttershy finally spoke some sense.

“It is really scary going off on our own to find Night Walker. Maybe even scarier than a dragon…”

“See? Exactly my point!” Twilight exclaimed. “It’s really, really dangerous!”

“But… If we really have too… then I’ll go too.”

Twilight groaned. “Fluttershy… Not you too.”

Are you really complaining about them willing to risk their lives for you?

Yes! Yes I am! Twilight closed her eyes as she rubbed her temple with a hoof. Rainbow Dash and Applejack I get, and even Pinkie Pie for that matter. And I can already imagine Rarity’s stance on it. Of course I don’t want any of them getting hurt but I at least know they can take care of themselves to some degree. Fluttershy on the other hoof… I’m just too worried for her.

I’m pretty sure you’d find some other reason even if Fluttershy wasn’t here... Ruby then sighed as she suggested, Why don’t you just tell her that we’re going to kill him?

I can’t do that!

If she still wants to help after knowing that, then I’m not seeing how you can convince her otherwise.

You’re not helping, Twilight growled.

“A-And besides,” Fluttershy continued when she saw Twilight looking at her again. “We’re just going to use the Elements of Harmony on him, right? I think I can be brave enough for that.”

Fluttershy received a few supportive nods, all except Twilight who tilted her chin downward. Eventually, the others noticed the sudden mood change, and they tentatively waited for Twilight to speak.

Twilight’s wings bristled slightly as she spoke in a low tone, “No... It’s not going to be that simple.” She clenched her jaw tightly as she pulled her lips back, revealing her fangs to them all. She then looked back up and they paled at the hostility in Twilight’s red eyes, resembling Ruby’s for the ones who had met her.

Twilight spoke in a calm voice that didn’t fit her frightening demeanor. “This isn’t going to be like the other times. We can’t afford using the Elements of Harmony on somepony like him. Even if we somehow got the chance and time to use them, there’s no telling what they might do.” Twilight paused to look at each of them in the eye. “I’m going to kill Night Walker. I’m not giving him any other option, not after what he’s done.”

With the exception of Fluttershy’s quivering, a dead silence descended within the cabin.

Wow, think you might have overdone it? Also, I don’t curl my lips that much.

They need to know how serious this is. I won’t endanger any of them if they can’t accept that.

As Twilight kept her menacing demeanor up, she was dimly aware of Ruby’s prodding, and begrudgingly allowed her to dig deeply into her portion of their soul. After some moments Ruby commented, You really have changed since the beginning.

A lot’s happened...

“Well then,” Rarity casually said, breaking the tension. “If you’re quite done trying to scare us, I think it’s best that we figure out our plan of action, preferable before we arrive at Canterlot.”

A hint of guilt flashed across Twilight’s face, but she quickly recomposed herself, and then narrowed her eyes as she regarded Rarity. “I mean it, you know. I’m going to kill him.”

“And if nopony here can accept that, then they’ll stay behind,” Rarity cooly replied. “Trust me, dear, I’m fully aware of the consequences of this endeavour. And I can assure you that you aren’t the only one who feels that way.” Her stoic face only cracked slightly, but it was enough to reveal her underlying animosity. “He’s the one that started all of this. He’s the one responsible for taking you away from us and robbing you of your memories, not to mention all the ponies he’s killed. And if it wasn’t for him, this divide would have never existed between us, Twilight. As unladylike as it is to say it, I fully agree that he’s a dead pony now. And if there’s any pony whom I will willingly make my target, it’s him.”

Twilight kept eye contact as she measured her. Unsurprisingly, Rarity had been the only one to show no qualm—or any reaction at all, really—during their discussion. While Twilight greatly appreciated her shared stance on the matter, it worried her greatly that Rarity had fallen just as far as her to so casually talk about such things.

While the rest of the girls were initial appalled at the decision to kill Night Walker, they were slowly coming to terms with it, swallowing the lumps in their throats before nodding slowly in agreement. Even Fluttershy gave a soft nod as she visibly fought back tears.

Twilight sighed as she let go of the anger she had purposely drawn forth, hating that the emotion was becoming more natural to her as time passed. She relaxed her tense facial features and looked to the girls with a saddened expression.

Looks like they made their decision.

I still feel awful for it. Just look at Fluttershy and how she’s forcing herself. Even though she looked to Twilight bravely to show her support, her quivering chin only made Twilight more sure that this was all a bad idea. She mentally searched for something, anything, that would convince her that it would indeed be okay for all of them to come with her. She desperately wanted their help, but not if it costed even one of their lives. She simply couldn’t pay that price.

And it was then that one last idea came to Twilight, and despite all her moral senses telling her no, it was the only thing left that might sway her and her friends feelings on the matter.

Twilight breathed deeply before she spoke, “Before I can agree to have any of you come with me, I have to make sure that you all understand the dangers that could arise.”

“Will you just give it a rest already?” Rainbow Dash said as she crossed her arms. “We already know what’s at stake. You aren’t talking us out of this. We’re coming with you.”

“I’m not going to risk any of you, Rainbow,” Twilight stated firmly. “I need to make sure you’re all really prepared for this. We could be facing anything, and I won’t force anypony to do this if they can’t truly handle this.”

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. “Like we’re really forcing ourselves here to help you out. We can handle this, Twi.”

“I still need to make sure.”

“Yeah? And how are you going to do that?”

“With Soul Sight.”

Rainbow Dash, along with the rest of the girls, gawked at Twilight.

You’re going to do what now?

I’m not, you are.

Right, because as friendly as they’ve tried to be with me lately, they’ll be completely fine with me taking a look inside them.

They don’t have to know it’s you.

“Twilight?” Rarity asked.

“Yes?”

Rarity gave a skeptical stare as she asked, “Back in your library, I seem to recall you mentioning that you couldn’t perform Soul Sight, and that Ruby was the only one who can.” The look on Twilight’s face was answer enough, and Rarity let out an distasteful snort. “I’m not sure if I’d feel comfortable enough to have her peering within me.”

While Ruby’s emotions showed how impressed she was at Rarity’s memory, she gave a snort as well. The feeling’s mutual.

Twilight swallowed as she folded her ears back at the stares she got. “You’re right, it would be Ruby looking into you, and I know that’s a lot to ask. She and I will be invading your space in the most personal way possible. It doesn’t directly tell us tangible secrets, but it’ll show who you are deep down, and how you really feel about it.”

The girls were looking much less certain on the matter now as Twilight continued, “But it’s my condition if I’m going to let any of you come with me. I have to know how you really feel about it.” Twilight lowered her chin as she looked to them solemnly. “I know I’m making a big fuss about this, but please, I have to do this.”

The girls looked to each other, silently gauging the others’ feelings about letting Ruby peer within them. There were concerns, of course, even from Rainbow Dash despite the bravado she showed. But the desperate finality on the matter from Twilight eventually convinced them, and they all nodded their heads in reluctant agreement.

“Alright, Twalight,” Applejack said. “If you really have to do this, then we’ll prove it to ya. You and Ruby can go ahead and take a look.”

A breath escaped Twilight, and she lifted her chin as she felt her chest quiver.

What are you getting so worked up for? It’s just their souls.

It’s my friends’ souls, Twilight replied weakly.

They shared no more words on the matter in lieu of emotional exchange, and Ruby felt Twilight’s view on the matter was akin to Ruby when looking within bat ponies, though Twilight held much more anxiety than her. Twilight was both excited and scared at the prospect of looking into the souls of the five closest ponies in her life, ponies who were so close that they were able to synchronize with each other on equal wavelengths to a level that allowed them to use the Elements of Harmony. Though their friendship had begun without warning and during frightening circumstances, it had been with a bond so deep that—even to this day—they still explored the binding connections between themselves. Now, Twilight was about to see just how tangible that bond was.

It was with apprehension that Twilight closed her eyes, and breathed slower to calm herself from the anticipation. Ruby, I-

You don’t need to ask me, Ruby replied as she already began calling forth the Soul Sight. This is important for you, so it’s important for me.

Twilight made sure her gratefulness was felt, and she waited patiently for Ruby to fully bring the power forth. When Twilight felt the otherworldly magic build in her eyes, she slowly opened them, and gazed towards her friends.

The girls had become still beneath Twilight’s white and glowing eyes, similar in appearance to whenever they wielded the Elements of Harmony.

Twilight turned to Rainbow Dash first, causing her to stiffen under the penetrating gaze. Rainbow Dash’s cheeks became red as she forced herself to maintain eye contact, but then nervously looked away. “Do… Do I have to look into your eyes or can I…” she mumbled.

Twilight giggled softly. “No, it’s okay. Honestly, I don’t even notice your body during.”

“Oh, okay,” Rainbow Dash said with apparent relief, but still held some apprehension.

Alright, here we go, Ruby announced. We’re gonna try and stick to the norm here. As much as you like them, I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to go all the way in like how we did with the mare back at the hospital.

Agreed.

Riding from the back seat, Twilight attentively watched as Rainbow Dash’s soul appeared, marveling at how it was nestled within her chest. Then, as Ruby focused their consciousness towards it, Twilight saw her vision fade away as the soul became the focus of their attention. Ruby kept them hovering just far enough to avoid inadvertently falling into the strange mental landscape, but it was close enough for the orb-like structure to fill the entirety of their vision. With Ruby’s aide, Twilight looked over Rainbow Dash’s existence, and after a few moments of sorting out what she saw, she lost her breath.

Even as the tears began, Twilight heard Rainbow Dash’s voice as if it was from an outside source. “T-Twilight? Is everything okay? Am… Am I okay?”

Twilight choked as she brought a hoof to her mouth, but she did not wipe away the tears for they did not impeded the Soul Sight, and she merely shook her head side to side. “Rainbow Dash…”

“Yeah?” she replied in worry.

“It’s beautiful…”

Twilight couldn’t see Rainbow Dash’s face, but she saw the flashes of light pulsing within Rainbow Dash’s soul, revealing her feelings from the comment. Despite Twilight’s recollection of peering into others ponies souls multiple time, she couldn’t help herself but become overwhelmed at seeing the soul of a pony who was so close to her.

I’ll admit, she is quite the pony, Ruby commented, doing her best to give Twilight some emotional privacy.

Look at her, Twilight said with awe. She still depended on Ruby’s shared thoughts to understand the purpose of the majority of the sections. Yet, she could only keep her attention focused for a moment on one spot before another piece caught her eye, desperately trying to take it in all at once. However, Ruby’s intense focus on a prominent section drew Twilight’s interest, and she joined her to study it. With a brief touch to Ruby’s knowledge, Twilight looked upon the piece in reverence. I know she’s the Element of Loyalty, but I didn’t think it’d be this prominent. She looked at the multitude of fibers that extended from the piece that gave it a connection to nearly every single other component within the soul. Why doesn’t she ever show how much it means to her?

It’s well balanced, Ruby said, impressed at its structure. It doesn’t overflow into her negative aspects too much, and it looks like worry gets filtered out before reaching anything vital. It’s obviously the biggest part of her, but it doesn’t override her being as much as I’d expect it to at first glance. For such a featherhead, she sure has one heck of a design to her. Ruby wordlessly called Twilight’s attention to her as she focused on specific area. Look at this scar on it, right here.

Twilight frowned as she took the disfiguration in, noting that despite its healed appearance it was unsightly compared to the rest.

Something big must have happened here to cause this, Ruby commented as she inspected it closely. But it’s healed amazingly. I bet it hardly impedes the rest of her now.

Twilight tried to recall what might have left such an everlasting scar, and only one thing came to mind. Discord…

Who?

Twilight shared only a few memories of the chaotic entity, which was more than enough for Ruby.

Wow, okay... It’s alarming that something like him even exists.

Twilight moved away from the scar. I want to keep this brief, but let’s take a quick look around. I want to see if there is anything else to her that I don’t already know.

Ruby followed behind as Twilight poked about, answering any question Twilight had whenever she found a piece that caught her eye. When they came to a particular section, Twilight found it hard to resist giggling aloud. I had no idea!

Ruby, however, not limited to physical reactions, was already bursting with laughter. I’d never have guessed! Rainbow Dash is such a filly!

We shouldn’t make fun of it, Twilight said, but it didn’t make her stop giggling mentally. I had no idea she had such a soft side to her.

No wonder, look how buried it is. I can’t imagine that she’d ever show such a feminine side willingly.

Let’s make a note to address that with her later, Twilight said as she moved away. The areas near it don’t look too healthy.

Good eye, Ruby commented. You’re starting to pick it up.

Only thanks to you.

They made another sweep over the soul, noting how very real and large her ego was among other notable things that Rainbow Dash regularly expressed. But as tempting as it was for Twilight to explore deeper, Ruby reminded her why they were even doing this in the first place, and Twilight reluctantly followed Ruby’s attention to the matter at hoof.

Rainbow Dash’s fear was real, albeit smaller than Twilight believed it should have been. But it was clear that she wouldn’t be dissuaded, and that she took the matter seriously. Despite her confidence, she wasn’t treating the situation as frivolously as Twilight had believed.

Seen enough?

Yeah… Take us out.

Twilight saw Rainbow Dash’s soul pull away from them, and she blinked at the room that flooded back into vision. The Soul Sight was still active so she could see the bare forms of the souls of the other girls, but she held off diving into the next one to give Rainbow Dash an adoring smile. Rainbow Dash tilted her head in confusion and opened her mouth, but Ruby and Twilight had already turned to Applejack.

Within moments, Applejack’s soul filled their vision, and it had the same impact on Twilight as Rainbow Dash’s had, and Twilight simply gave up on holding back her tears.

Seriously? Ruby said as she looked over the section that she easily identified as Applejack’s honesty. I get that you’re all the Elements of Harmony, but isn’t this a little much? Doesn’t this seem just a little strange to you?

No, she’s perfect. Twilight smiled as she felt herself become warmer from Applejack’s soul. She’s just who she is.

While honesty was indeed the most notable part, the portions that held her love and ties to family nearly matched it. Applejack’s foundation was grounded with a stability that few others held, and while her weakness of carrying heavy burdens on herself seeped into her otherwise strong aspects, Applejack was truly a down to earth farm pony with all the hospitality and warmth one would ever find.

I always thought of her like this, but to actually see it… She really is a remarkably strong and amazing pony. Twilight sniffled before she looked towards Applejack’s feelings on hunting Night Walker down, and found the same emotions that Rainbow Dash held.

Well, that answers that.

Hmhmm, Twilight replied, and she signaled she was ready to pull out. Though, she couldn’t help but laugh at seeing Applejack’s embarrassment flare up at their inspection. When the cabin came back in view, Twilight smiled at Applejack’s fidgeting and flustered appearance.

“So… H-How do Ah look?”

“Absolutely perfect,” Twilight replied. “But you really need to lean on us more when you need to, okay?”

Applejack’s face turned red, and she tipped her hat down to cover it. “Y-Yeah, Ah’ll do that…”

Next up.

Fluttershy squeaked when she fell under Twilight’s gaze, and began to shake.

“It’s going to be okay, Fluttershy,” Twilight gently said. “You won’t feel a thing.”

“I… I know. It’s just…” Fluttershy opened and closed her mouth a few times as she tried to speak, but then eventually shook her head and puffed her chest out. “J-Just look!”

If it wasn’t for the tears that had built in Fluttershy’s eyes, Twilight would have believed Fluttershy was ready to face anything. Soon, her shaking body was replaced with her luminous soul, and Twilight’s ears flattened at what she saw.

Looks like you were right, Ruby commented, though it was with sadness at what they saw. It’s amazing that she’s been able to push herself as much as she has.

Twilight couldn’t even speak as they moved around Fluttershy’s soul, feeling pained just looking at the flared sections overflowing with anxiety and fear.

She has courage, I’ll give her that. Ruby drew Twilight’s attention to the section buried deep beneath the pulsing fibers. It’s tiny, but incredibly strong. To think this little thing has gotten her through everything that’s happened. I can only imagine how it could grow without all these constrictions around it. Ruby sorrowfully watched the budding section force bursts of courage throughout the webwork of fear, causing tiny tears that—while not too destructive—were undoubtedly causing internal damage to Fluttershy’s soul and psyche.

It’s clashing with her too much. The amount of fear, doubt, and anxiety is too prominent within her on matters like this. If it grows like this, it’ll eventually rip something. Just look at all the scarring...

She can’t come with us, Twilight whispered. Her chin quivered as she moved away, indicating to Ruby her desire to leave. I can’t risk her… She’s in too much pain from it already.

You know it’s going to devastate her, Ruby said, but she nonetheless began pulling them out.

I know, but I can’t risk her. Twilight stifled a choke that threatened to make her start bawling. The pain and fear within Fluttershy was too much for her to bear, and she knew she could never look at Fluttershy the same again. She wasn’t even disappointed in her, she was just hurt at how fragile Fluttershy really was and how hard she had managed to push herself with her seedling of courage. It made her feel angry at herself for not having been able to recognize the outward signs sooner.

When the room came back into view, Twilight had no idea how to break the news, but given that Fluttershy was now outright crying, she realized she must have inadvertently revealed her answer from her facial expressions during her inspection.

Even though Fluttershy was openly bawling and taking lungfuls of air through her mouth, she still kept an insistent expression, pleading with fearful eyes that Twilight wouldn’t turn her away.

Rarity and Pinkie Pie were at her sides, doing their best to calm her down, but Fluttershy paid no mind to them as she kept staring at Twilight expectantly. “W-W-Well? I-I can c-come... r-right?”

Twilight felt as if she herself would break down when Fluttershy pushed her chest out just a little more, still trying to look brave despite her quivering chin. The Soul Sight faded and Twilight’s eyes returned to their crimson color, and she slowly shook her head side to side.

Fluttershy’s expression fell in heartbreak. “B-But I can b-be brave…” she whispered. “I w-want to help! I n-n-need to c-come!”

“... I”m sorry, Fluttershy,” Twilight said quietly. “I know you’re brave. I really, really do. It’s amazing how strong you are deep down.”

Fluttershy’s front legs finally gave out as she laid herself down, but she still looked to Twilight with desperate hope. “B-But it’s n-not enough?”

Twilight shuddered as she too found it hard to breath, and she laid down as well to look at Fluttershy from equal height. “I’m sorry… I’m so, so sorry, but I couldn’t live with myself if you forced yourself to come like this. I can’t do this to you… I can’t let you do this to yourself…”

Unable to hold the tears back any longer, Fluttershy began sobbing. “B-but… I ha-have to do s-something!” She buried her head beneath her hooves as she wailed into the cabin floor, all while Rarity and Pinkie Pie comforted her. “E-Even if we a-are going to k… ki… kill him… I w-want to be the-eh-eh-er! I want to he-eh-elp!”

“I know,” Twilight cooed as she moved towards her and began stroking her mane. “I know you do…”

“I c-couldn’t be there b-before!” Fluttershy cried on. “I just w-want to be th-there for y-you now!”

“I know, Fluttershy, I know…” Twilight said while whimpering.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash had at some point also come closer, and now the five of them were collectively comforting Fluttershy, whispering assurances even as Fluttershy continued to beg to come between her sobbing.

Time passed, and eventually she cried herself to exhaustion. Even then she still pleaded for Twilight to let her come, turning to the others for support. Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie had sided with her at first, but in the end they were convinced it would be best for her to stay, and they gave Fluttershy their heartfelt apologies.

They hated it, but since they wouldn’t be using the Elements of Harmony, they couldn’t afford to have Fluttershy endanger herself against an opponent like Night Walker. He was the type of pony that—if he desired—wouldn’t hesitate to kill Fluttershy right away. She wasn’t quick or strong enough to protect herself against him, and it would be dangerous if the others had to focus on her instead of themselves.

When they finally managed to convince Fluttershy as well that it’d be best for her to stay in Canterlot, she became very quiet.

“Don’t worry, Fluttershy,” Pinkie Pie said with a sad smile. She had remained by her side the entire time and was still rubbing her back. “I’ll stay behind with you.”

Fluttershy looked up to her with wide eyes, as did the others. “R-Really?” Fluttershy asked in disbelief.

“Really really,” Pinkie Pie said. Her ears fell down as she looked to Twilight. “As much as I want to be there with you, Twilight, I don’t know if I can. Especially if you know… if you’re gonna K, I, L, L him.” After Twilight nodded in agreement, Pinkie Pie beamed at Fluttershy. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t get ready to throw the biggest and bestest party ever! In fact, it’s going to be so big that I’ll need your help.”

“You m-mean it?” Fluttershy asked with large eyes.

“You got it!” Pinkie Pie replied. “It’s gonna be so big, that we’re going to need all of Canterlot Castle just to fit it all! I’m still going to throw a big party in Dusktown, of course. But that doesn’t mean we can’t throw the main bash at Canterlot!” Pinkie Pie leaned towards her and grinned. “We’ll help them when they get back in the way that only we can do.”

A smile finally appeared on Fluttershy’s face. It was a small one, but it was still a smile.

The mood brightened considerably once Fluttershy managed to get herself back on her hooves. Pinkie Pie was already chatting away about what color of streamers they should decorate with, and it brought relief to the others.

One left, Ruby tentatively reminded, also having been disheartened at Fluttershy’s distress.

Right…

Twilight turned to Rarity who instantly noticed, and after a staring at another for some moments, Rarity simply nodded.

Twilight already felt confident about the result, but she still needed to do it. “Okay,” Twilight said, drawing everypony’s attention. They looked back and forth between Rarity and Twilight, wondering and worrying at what might happen. Twilight stilled herself and pensively gazed at Rarity’s hooves as Ruby recalled the Soul Sight.

I don’t think anything's going to happen, but be ready in case something does.

Got it.

At Ruby’s command, Twilight slowly lifted her head, and delved into Rarity’s soul.

Rarity’s generosity was clear, spreading about her being in ways that was odd by most accounts. Her ego was apparent, as were the various forms of excitement that could be evoked by the simplist of things that interested her, indicating her association with such things could be called petty as Ruby put it. But all of it was weaved with her generosity in such a way that it reduced the inherent negatives associated with those kinds of characteristics. As much as she cared for herself, nearly every fiber of her being was built to be shared with and applied to other ponies. Her attention to detail, her excitement, even her ego had significant portions dedicated to her giving nature. As much as she prided herself on her interests such as fashion, it was evident that the pony who would wear it stayed at the forefront of her mind.

Those were the parts that Twilight admired, and felt honored to see so that she could appreciate and understand Rarity in more ways. However, it was the other aspects that frightened her and drew her attention the most, and Twilight could now sympathize with those that said the Hunters were cursed.

Where Twilight’s soul was layered with crimson coloring, Rarity’s was layered in grey. It wasn’t as balanced or evenly ingrained as Twilight’s, but it was nearly as prominent. It augmented some sections more than others, artificially drawing out more than what could naturally be produced in areas such as her suspicion, awareness, and anger. The fibers specifically related to her physical nature such as reflexes were streamlined in an incredibly efficient manner that made the utmost use of her abilities, allowing her to go above and beyond without actually making her physically stronger.

But while these traits were refined and boosted in new ways, others were stifled and even isolated outright. The grey substance didn’t cut fibers like what seemed to have happened to Night Walker’s fragmented soul, but it clumped and blocked pathways just as effectively. Even now Twilight could see Rarity’s fear nearly engulfed by the grey clumps, preventing its tiny pulses of light from extending outward to the rest of Rarity’s being. Looking at the thing as a whole, Rarity was slowly transforming into a cold and calculating creature whose morals were effectively removed, allowing her to perform her actions guided by hatred flawlessly and without hinderance. Only when those action were performed could the rest of her emotions such as happiness be released for short amounts of time.

Aside from the nurtured fury that throbbed like a hungry beast, Twilight could finally understand Rarity’s sentiments of her being dead inside. Internally, Twilight felt far more alive than Rarity.

Unable to handle it a moment more, Twilight wordlessly begged Ruby to take them away, and Ruby was more than eager to comply. While not as distraught, she too had been unnerved at the inner workings of the Hunter’s curse, and she held even more apprehension towards Rarity now.

Once again, Twilight believed she had inadvertently revealed her emotions physically, for Rarity stared at her with a gentle but sad expression.

“That bad, is it?” Rarity asked.

Twilight wiped her eyes, trying to rework her face into something that didn’t show complete heartbreak.

“I thought so,” Rarity whispered.

It was unfair. It was so terribly, terribly unfair that she couldn’t stand it. Without thinking of how Rarity might react, she immediately moved towards Rarity and embraced her tightly. To her relief, Rarity did not strike her, but Twilight would have hardly cared if she had. She needed to hold Rarity right now, even if it would wound her to do so.

Twilight’s shook as she cried into Rarity’s shoulder, dimly aware that she shouldn’t grip too tightly. Rarity allowed it as she pulled Twilight closer, and started rubbing Twilight’s back with a hoof to soothe her. Though Rarity’s eyes showed a deep sadness, not a single tear came as she cooed to Twilight, “It’s alright, dear… It’ll be alright…”

The others kept their distance despite how much they wished to share the pain. Rarity wordlessly acknowledge their plight as she cradled Twilight, giving them a silent look for them to pick themselves back up and be strong for Twilight’s sake.

Eventually, Twilight pulled herself away, still sniffling as Rarity gently wiped away the tears. “There, there, darling,” Rarity said with a smile. Now that Twilight knew how fake and forced it was, she felt herself nearly start crying again. “Everything will be fine. We’ll take care of everything together, right?”

“R-Right,” Twilight mumbled. With one last shuddered breath as Twilight calmed down, she gave Rarity a small smile. “Thanks for not hitting me.”

“Don’t worry,” Rarity said as she straightened Twilight’s mane with her magic. “There’s only one vampony I’m going to hurt.”

Twilight giggled, and then brought her hoof to her mouth in shock. “Wow, how dark are we getting to laugh at that kind of humor?” She knew she shouldn’t find it funny, but it was hard not to smirk at the idea.

Rarity simply smiled as she finished with her mane, then motioned to the others. “Now that that’s all settled, shall we discuss the plan? It can’t be much longer before we arrive in Canterlot.”

Twilight stepped away to sit where she could face them all. “Right. It’s pretty simple right now.” They all retook their seats as they listened attentively. “Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, you’ll provide cover for our escape to buy us as much time as possible. Celestia, Cadance, and my brother will be there, and I can’t imagine it’ll take them long to realize that we’re gone.”

Fluttershy meekly nodded while Pinkie Pie gave a salute.

“As for the rest of us, we’re going to meet up with up with the bat ponies Lunar Pearl mentioned. It’ll be Mist Hoof, whom you met, Rarity and Applejack.” The two of them nodded at their memory of the older stallion. “If my guess is correct, he’s waiting with the other bat ponies that you fought beside in the yard.”

“And you think he’s just gonna accept that Ruby is no longer in charge?” Rarity asked.

“Truth be told, he was already suspecting that I was Princess Twilight,” Twilight replied. “I don’t think he’s aware that Ruby is still alive, or even was her own entity for that matter, but he brought up my identity more than once after he had spoken to you two.”

“He seemed alright to me,” Applejack said. “But do you think he’ll really help us find Night Walker?”

“I can only hope. Lunar Pearl wasn’t able to remember where they were, and by the sound of things, they might have already moved on.” Twilight frowned slightly as she tilted her chin down. “I still can’t figure out why Night Walker even let her go in the first place, or left Mist Hoof and the others waiting for me if they still are. It’s almost like he wants me to find him.”

“Who knows what’s going on in that crazy pony’s head,” Applejack said with a scowl. “He never sat right by me in the first place. There’s just no telling what twisted thoughts are running through his mind.”

Twilight nodded, but she still felt off about the whole thing.

I’m with you on that. I don’t like the feel of this.

What do you think he’s planning? He’s got the capability to turn bat ponies into vamponies. So far he’s only got a small but powerful army, but you’d think he’d have made his move by now or at least made sure there’s no loose ends.

Whatever it is, he’s not going to get away with it. You know as well as I do that this could just be an elaborate trap, just another line of bait while waiting for his other hooks to catch. Celestia knows he’s always planning for the next step.

You’re right. No matter what, this ends with him dying. No other outcome. Also, that’s twice now that you-

I know, I know! Ruby said with a fuss. You don’t need to keep count!

“What’s Ruby think?” Applejack asked.

Twilight blinked in surprise as she looked up. “Oh. She’s… She’s also worried about things. Like if it’s a trap or not.”

“Well, I’m right there with her,” Applejack replied. “This whole thing smells as rotten as a month old apple core.”

Twilight regarded Applejack for a moment before she asked, “Why are you all showing more interest in Ruby now?”

“That’d be me, darling,” Rarity said. Twilight turned to her in surprise, and Rarity gave an innocent shrug. “I know it seems strange. Trust me, by all accounts I want to get rid of her still, but I have to wonder how much of that is my feelings on the matter versus my… less appealing side. But despite that, I’ve seen how much of an influence she’s had on you.” Rarity gave Twilight a knowing smile as she motioned to the girls. “We’ve all seen how you were before you and Ruby came to terms. And while I didn’t trust her at first, I can clearly see how much better you’ve become now that you two are friends. It’s not hard to notice all the times you’ve become quiet while staring in the distance. I can’t say I approve of it yet, but despite my intuition, I think she’s good for you. We all do, in fact.”

Twilight stared slack jawed at the other girls, and saw giving her supportive nods and smiles.

“If anything, she cares a lot about the bat ponies,” Applejack said. “It’s hard to hate a pony that thinks that much about family and all.”

“She’s a pretty good flier from what I remember,” Rainbow Dash said. “If you two ever figure out how to swap places, you should let me practice with her. She’s looks like she might be able to give me a mean race.”

“I-I don’t really know her,” Fluttershy squeaked. “But besides some of the… well, things I don’t think I can talk about right now, she seemed pretty nice. And Lunar Pearl really liked her, so I think she’s good with children.”

“Are you kidding? Loopy loves her!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed. The statement sent a twinge of pain through Twilight and Ruby from their farewell to Lunar Pearl, but Pinkie Pie continued on. “The entire time she was so worried about what was happening to her, and she even asked if Twilight swallowed her whole or something! How silly is that?” While Pinkie Pie snickered profusely, the rest of them merely gave a half-hearted laughed at the morbid joke.

They’re… They’re really good friends, aren’t they?

You saw their souls too. You tell me.

A sudden groan echoed throughout the ship, and they all tilted their heads at the muffled shout from above. “Canterlot in sight!”

They all turned back to each other, mentally preparing themselves for the moment that would soon come.

“We’ll all meet up in Pinkie’s room in a few hours,” Twilight said. “Her balcony faces east which is where we’re heading. Eat before then, and bring whatever you think will be essential. We’ll be moving quick and light.”

As they all nodded, Pinkie Pie suddenly jumped up. “Oh! Oh!”

“What is it Pinkie?” Twilight asked.

“You never looked inside me!”

“I don’t think now’s a good time to-”

“Puhleeeeeeeze?”

Pinkie Pie gave the largest puppy dog eyes she could muster, adding a quivering lip for extra effect.

Twilight rolled her eyes, but sighed in defeat considering she didn’t know if she would be able to grant the request again. “Fine, sit down.”

Pinkie Pie exploded upwards once before zipping into a sitting position, still fidgeting in excitement.

Twilight closed her eyes as Ruby summoned the Soul Sight again, and she reopened them as they peered into Pinkie Pie’s being.

Twilight gave an amused smile from obliging Pinkie Pie’s enthusiastic request. Then, her facial expression became blank as she took a second glance at Pinkie Pie. Twilight rubbed her eyes with her hoof, and then frowned as she stared more intently. Some moment of silence passed before finally a look of pure horror spread across her face.

What in the name of Celestia’s flank!?

“Pinkie Pie!” Twilight screamed. “What is wrong with you!?”

Author's Note:

For those who don't recall, Night Walker held a similar reaction to Pinkie Pie back in Chapter 15. While Pinkie Pie's soul is confusing and comedic, it is like that with reason that won't be revealed in this story, but in the sequels. And no amount of begging will get me to spill it before it's reveal!

As for the rest, I hope the cabin scene wasn't too drawn out, but too me it felt how things might have gone realistically. That's the problem with trying to do things as real as you think they might be, you get a lot of dialogue that doesn't necessarily move the plot forward which is one of the key points I've seen other writers mention. Every line and sentenc should be build to move the story forward. As good as that is and something I try to follow, I say phooey to it some times because slice of life moments are full of back pedalling and stalling moments and conversations. I hope to eventually nail it down so I can have them in such a way that isn't too detrimental to moving the story forward and isn't annoying, but I'll just have to hope it is bearable until I can practice it more.

Any hoo, this story is drawing close to the end. I can't guess how many chapters are left, but we are certainly approaching the end. Hope the ride has been enjoyable, and that you're all ready to dive into the next adventure in the sequel. Remember, I've got four stories to write, and I can only hope that I can finished each one in less than a year's span. I mean, have you seen some of the other authors on here? They're pumping out 200k+ stories under five months! What the hell!? What drug do I need to be taking to get those results? Also, having looked back at previous chapters to recall what I wrote when Night Walker looked into the girl's souls, how on Earth did any of you put up with my shoddy writing and grammar? I know I'm no where near from being considered a great writer and all, and I like to think I've improved quite a bit thanks to my wonder editors, but seriously... those previous chapters. I can't wait to fervently tackle those old chapters again. I feel like Koro Sensei in wanting to polish them up.

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