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

Second Princess of the Night - Senyu



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

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Act III - Chapter 49

Stirring from her sleep, Twilight slowly opened her eyes. The sun was well above the horizon, but thanks to the cover of the forest its rays hadn’t disturbed her. She looked to her sleeping friends close by and listened to their gentle snores. The scents of the forest coupled with the sounds of her friends were soothing to Twilight, so much that she was tempted to let herself drift back to sleep.

Hmmm…. not a bad idea...

Twilight perked her ears forward in surprise, but then relaxed and nestled her chin back into the soft grass. I forgot what that was like.

Ruby yawned before she replied, Hmmm? Forgot what?

Waking up when you did, back when I was on the inside. It started when you gave me more connections back at the penthouse. It felt like I was part of a dream that became real whenever you woke up. Twilight blinked slowly, reminiscing on the memory. It was kinda of nice.

Yeah, I guess it is. Falling back asleep is more comforting alongside another pony, especially when you can feel their sleepiness. It makes you wanna drift right back with them...

Yeah…

Twilight stared at the nearby trees, simply enjoying the moment as she slowly woke from the dreamlike state. She turned her attention inward to Ruby, noting the sensations their connections made as Ruby herself woke up. Though Twilight wanted to enjoy the unique sensation, the ever-rising sun caused her to look up, and she sighed as she reluctantly rose to her hooves.

How much longer do you think we should let them sleep in?

Just a little bit more, I think. We made good distance last night despite your breakdown.

Twilight frowned. Come again?

Ruby shared her memories, and Twilight’s ears fell at the flashing images.

I… I’m so-

You don’t need to apologize, Ruby interrupted. It had hit you hard, made you numb the entire night. I don’t blame you for that. Celestia’s important to you.

Still, this isn’t the time for that. I should have been-

Twilight.

... Yes?

Stop. Ruby shifted herself closer, touching Twilight’s consciousness while at the same time laying a gentle hoof on their soul. The mirrorscape appeared around them, and Ruby looked directly into Twilight’s eyes. Stopping Night Walker is important, but you’re still just a pony. I know how hard it was for you to do that to Celestia. We all do. You’re friends didn’t think less of you, so you shouldn’t either.

Twilight pulled away from the mirrorscape so that she could look to her friends, and she felt her chest quiver. It’s just… I want this to be over… I want all of this to be over. Twilight bit her lip, and her wings began to shake as well. Everything is just… I want- Why can’t things go back to-

Suddenly, Ruby flooded over their soul, causing Twilight to let out a gasp. An abnormally warm and peaceful sensation overcame her, sending her troublesome thoughts into disarray as she lost herself in the feeling. The gentle sounds of her friends sleeping came back into focus, and Twilight stared up at the trees in wonder as her mind reeled from the sudden calmness.

After relishing the moment for some time, Twilight blinked in surprise as her awareness slowly returned, and she focused inward. What did you…

I calmed you down, Ruby replied with a firm but gentle voice. I know, Twilight. I know your feelings, your doubts, your worries… It’s going to be okay. Let’s just… Let’s just get through this, and it’ll all be over.

Sitting herself down, Twilight stared at her hooves. Are… Are you okay?

As good as I can be. I mean, we’re only going after the first pony I ever knew and trusted...

Ruby…

Ruby drew herself away. It’s fine. We can focus on me later. Let’s just wake your friends up and get moving.

Twilight nearly pressed the issue further. She knew she should have. If Ruby was allowed to break through her walls to help her, then she should do the same for Ruby. But if Ruby was also having doubts, or had some buried feeling that would make her break down, Twilight didn’t know if she’d be strong enough to not fall into emotional despair along with her.

Twilight grit her teeth, and before Ruby could drift closer to see what she was feeling more clearly, Twilight buried her worries deep, and she took a deep breath. Ruby?

Yes?

When this is over, we have a lot to do.

... Yes, we do.

Twilight took another breath, magically pulled out her wide brimmed sun hat from her bag, and then looked to her friends.

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

“Hey AJ, hit me with an apple,” Rainbow Dash said.

Applejack paused for a moment to rummage through her saddle before tossing a bright red apple into the air. “There ya go.”

Rainbow Dash swooped over to catch it, and then settled into a leisurely hovering pace above the girls. “Thanks. So, how far was Fillydelphia again?”

“About two days of walking if you’re on a road,” Twilight replied, tactfully moving herself out from beneath Rainbow Dash. “But we don’t have to reach the city itself. The rendezvous point Ruby had made with Mist Hoof is a bit outside of the city limits. If we’re lucky we might make it by tomorrow night.” Twilight looked upward at a break in the tree canopy to see the towering mountains in the distance. “As long as we keep the Foal Mountains on our left, we should be able to find the spot with no problems. The mountain range ends just a few miles away from Fillydelphia’s farms.”

Rainbow Dash was silent for some moments with the exception of her loud eating. “This is going to be a long walk.”

“Do you really think Mist Hoof will know where Night Walker is?” Applejack asked.

“I’m not sure,” Twilight replied. “But it’s our best chance at figuring it out.”

The four of them walked in silence for some time, and then Applejack said, “Twalight?”

“Yes?”

“Ah know how important this is, and trust me when Ah say Ah’m with ya every step of the way…”

Twilight stopped and turned to Applejack, as did Rainbow Dash and Rarity.

Applejack began to nervously rub a hoof behind her head. “Facing Night Walker with just the four of us sounded pretty good last night, but now that Ah’ve been thinking about it, shouldn’t we have gone with the Princesses and the guards?”

“Are you saying we can’t handle this?” Rainbow Dash asked with a mouth of apple.

“Ah didn’t say that. It’s just… this isn’t like the other times, is it?”

Rainbow Dash swallowed and open her mouth to speak again, but Twilight spoke before her. “No, this isn’t like the other times. And to be honest, I have a feeling Night Walker is expecting me to do this.”

Both Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked to her in surprise, and Twilight turned her gaze downwards. “Night Walker is dangerous, and he’s only becoming more dangerous each day. Ideally, I’d like to take him down with an entire army.” Twilight narrowed her eyes. “He’s a monster, capable of awful things. If he wanted to, he could attack any town and kill all its inhabitants.”

Rainbow Dash landed beside Applejack, and both of them paled at the words. Applejack gulped. “T-Then all the more reason to bring everything we’ve got, right?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Twilight replied. Ignoring the shocked looks, she continued, “If Night Walker had done something like that then I’d be marching for him with the entirety of the guard right now.”

“But he hasn’t,” Rarity said, and Twilight nodded.

“What the hay difference does that make?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“All the difference,” Twilight replied as she lifted her head. “It’s been bothering me for a while now, the way Night Walker has been going about things. He’s been leaving too many openings for us to use against him. He could have killed all of you the night he turned me, spawned new vamponies to overtake Dusktown in one move, never returned my memories… It’s like he’s been purposefully leaving things to chance, all while working towards some unknown goal.”

“Raising an army of vamponies and taking over Equestria sounds like a pretty clear goal,” Rainbow Dash said.

“And if that’s all it was, he could have gone about it a hundred different ways that would have made more sense,” Twilight replied. “I can’t put my hoof on it, but it’s precisely how he’s done the things he’s done that makes me think I should face him now, before anything else happens.”

Rarity stepped forward. “You know very well it could be a trap.”

“Yes, I know.”

“You can’t possibly predict the actions of a madpony, no matter how tame they might seem.”

“I know…”

“And you still want to face him?”

Twilight sighed. “Yes, I do… I need to figure out what he’s planning for Equestria… And for me… Leaving Mist Hoof and the others at the rendezvous point, letting Lunar Pearl come and find me… I think he wants me to meet him.”

“What if he kills you?” Applejack asked, furrowing her brow. “If everything you said is true then why are ya wanting to meet him like this and on his terms?”

Twilight closed her eyes to take a deep breath, and after some moments, opened her eyes again. “I need to do this. Ruby and I need to do this. I know it seems foalish but I need to figure out what’s going on before any more ponies are killed. I’m sorry, normally I have pretty good reasons for why I’m doing things, but this time… It’s just something I feel needs to be done.”

Her friends all exchanged glances with one another before turning back to Twilight, and while Rainbow Dash and Applejack still looked uneasy, they all gave a single nod towards Twilight.

“Well, at least we slept on it,” Applejack said. She tucked her hat downward and shifted her saddle into a more comfortable position. “Alright then, let’s get going.”

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

As the sun was setting on the horizon, the four of them stopped within a thicket of woods to set up camp. With Twilight’s teleportation they had covered more ground than expected and they estimated that they would most likely reach their destination by noon tomorrow. But the magical effort coupled with the sun's rays was tiring, and the other girls were exhausted from traveling the majority of the previous night.

Twilight was busy fanning herself with her hat, watching the darkening horizon with a longing gaze when Rainbow Dash returned with a bundle of sticks.

“This should be enough, right?”

“Set ‘em on the side for when I get it going,” Applejack replied after adjusting the last rock of the fire pit. Pulling out a match from her saddlebag, Applejack struck it alight and placed it into the kindling, nurturing the flame with her breath until it grew large enough for more wood.

Rainbow Dash stretched her legs before setting down on the grass beside the beginning fire. “So, who are these bat ponies we’re meeting?”

“That’s right, I’ve forgotten you’ve never met them,” Rarity said.

“They’re alright, Ah suppose,” Applejack said, not having taken her eyes away from the fire. “Rares and Ah only met them briefly, though. Ruby’s probably the best one to answer that question.”

Twilight flicked her ears in surprise, and the feeling was shared by Ruby.

Wow, they weren’t kidding about including me, were they?

That’s just the kind of friends they are, Twilight replied with pride.

Well then, repeat after me...

Twilight cleared her throat and cocked her head to the side to listen while her friends made themselves comfortable around the fire.

“The bat ponies we’re meeting up with are Mist Hoof, Ebon Wing, Willow Shade, Cloud Shadow, and Ember Mane. They were some of the best bat ponies in the refugee group, and they were the ones who fought alongside Applejack and Rarity in the yard.”

“How was it they were there anyways?” Applejack asked.

“They were secretly following me, I mean, Ruby, even though she ordered them not to. They weren’t willing to leave her on her own so they decided to stay within the shadows when she went out that night to meet you three at the motel.”

“Must be pretty good if you never noticed them,” Rainbow Dash mumbled.

Applejack and Twilight frowned in confusion, but Rarity spoke before them. “You need to stop blaming yourself for that night, Rainbow. We all know you would have been there fighting harder than any of us.”

Rainbow Dash merely snorted in reply, and at Rarity’s recommendation, Twilight continued.

“Mist Hoof is an older bat pony, and the second turned vampony. His wounds were so serious after the fight that he needed to be transformed in order to survive.”

“Good to hear he lived, though Ah can’t say it’s under good terms,” Applejack said. “Ah thought he was alright in my book. He sure treated me and Rares well.”

“He was polite,” Rarity said.

Twilight smiled and nodded in agreement. “Of all the ponies that I personally remember while inside of Ruby, I have to say Mist Hoof was probably one of the best. He was kind, willing to fight for the sake of others, and was always looking out for the ponies around him.”

“Shame he has to survive on blood now,” Applejack said after a sigh.

“Well, only if he wants to, remember? The new vamponies don’t have to drink blood. They just need to drink if they want to use any of their powers.”

“Oh right, Ah forgot.”

“Though, I still need to take a closer look at them when I get the chance. Even though they are supposed to be free of defects and not require blood, I still want to confirm it. Anyways, then there’s Ebon Wing.” Twilight paused as she cocked her head before continuing. “He’s the youngest among them, only just entering stallionhood. And though he’s a little timid at times, he’s good enough to hold his own. But the thing that makes him different from the others is his innate ability. He’s the only known bat pony right now that is able to hide himself within shadows.”

“What, like, turn black or something?” Rainbow Dash asked.

Twilight shook her head. “No, I mean he’s able to literally wrap shadows around himself and vanish from sight. Being born with magic like that is incredibly rare these days, but it used to be somewhat common back in the past.”

“So it’s because of his vampony ancestry then?” Applejack asked.

“I think so, though Night Walker mentioned there was vampony magic and shadow magic. To be honest, Ruby and I never learned the difference between the two so I can’t say. In fact, we didn’t learn any new magic aside from Soul Sight.”

Applejack wrinkled her nose as she prodded the embers with a stick. “Probably for the better if you ask me.” Satisfied with the fire, Applejack began setting larger pieces of wood onto the flames, brightening their camp now that the sun was gone.

A thoughtful look passed over Twilight’s face, but she dismissed it quickly. “As for the others, Willow Shade and Cloud Shadow are two fillyhood friends, but you’d think they were sisters at first. They’re both rambunctious, mischievous, and always trying to outperform the other. You’d probably get along with them, Rainbow Dash.”

“Yeah? They any good at flying?”

Twilight smiled. “I never got to see them show their stuff in a race, but I’m sure they’d love the challenge.”

Rainbow Dash smirked. “Cool.”

“And lastly is Ember Mane. To be honest I don’t know too much about him. He’s the quiet type, so much so that Ruby wasn’t able to get many words out of him whenever she talked to him.”

“Was he that fellow that came in at the end of the fight?” Applejack asked. After a quick recount with Ruby, Twilight nodded. “He looked pretty worn out when he joined up with us. He must have been fighting the whole time while the rest of us were sneaking around trying to find you.”

“Hmm,” Twilight replied. “Ruby says it wouldn’t surprise her if that was the case. Each of them are tough in their own right, just like all the bat ponies that she came to know.” Twilight frowned for a moment, but then gave a gentle laugh. “Ruby and I have some differing opinions on how things came to be with them, but we both agree on how we feel towards the bat ponies, though Ruby’s a bit more connected.” Twilight stared into the fire with a smile. “They’ve been through so much, and though I don’t agree with them on leaving Dusktown, it was still a choice that required a lot of courage. They’ve waited a thousand years for help, so I guess I can’t honestly say that I blame them anymore for taking the first chance that came, even if it was a poor one. Not while they’re facing everything plaguing them…”

Twilight narrowed her eyes, and when she spoke again, the others instinctively knew it was Ruby’s words. “They’re strong, loyal, and only want happiness for themselves. They were promised that happiness in return for surrendering themselves so that no more blood would be shed. They were willing to work towards peace. And because of that, they could have new dreams, dreams that I want to make come true for them. I want the ponies who have given everything to me, their trust, their hope… even their lives… I want to see them cured. I want them to be free.”

The fire crackled as they all sat in the silence following Ruby’s statement, and for a time, they searched themselves for their feelings on the matter. Then, Twilight spoke for Ruby again. “We’re going to end their pain. We are going to kill Night Walker and turn them into vamponies. Good vamponies that will only take blood when it is willingly given and to protect others. I’m going to take them away from Dusktown and show them sights they’ve only read about. They’ll be able to travel on their own, see any part of Equestria they desire, and never again be trapped behind walls.” Twilight nodded in agreement on the matter, transfixed by Ruby’s proclamation as much as the others were. “They’ll be able to see new forests, towns, mountains, and even Twilight’s drooling face against-”

Twilight snapped her jaw shut and her face became beat red.

What are you doing!?

Well, besides saying what I wanted to say, and I do mean to do everything that I said, I wanted to see if I could get you to say something if you weren’t paying too much attention. I have to get my fun in some way.

“Huh, Twalight? What’s that about-”

“Nothing! Nothing at all! Forget it!” Twilight hastily stood up and moved away from the fire. “I’m just going to take a quick look at Ruby’s connections! I-I think something went wrong and I need to fix it!”

It’s too funny how you become embarrassed at the smallest things.

Shush!

Without look back, Twilight sat herself just shy of the campfires light and sighed, enjoying the relief in her eyes. Looking out into the darkness, noting the various details of the forest that she saw so easily, she asked, I did want to talk to you about everything that you just said, though.

Ruby drew herself closer and spoke quietly, I wanted to talk, too. I guess this was just the first good opportunity to express it.

Twilight sighed and looked downwards at her hooves. It’s a lot of responsibility, isn’t it? Looking after an entire race of ponies…

You still have trouble imagining being a princess, don’t you?

Twilight nodded, and she shared her memories on the matter. The feeling of pressure that came from leadership, something far different than the pressure of completing a homework assignment or even saving Equestria. It was terribly worrying to be responsible for so many ponies, and incredibly strange to have all those ponies treat you differently than they did before. Twilight’s thoughts drifted to how she’d seen ponies treat the princesses, the majority of them acting just as she had when she was a filly. There was awe, respect, but also distance. Celestia was the epitome of what it meant to be a pony, an idol of light that radiated compassion, authority, and wisdom. Twilight shared her feelings towards Ruby in ways that she might have never been able to express with words if she tried, emotions that reached beyond description.

All of that… To think that any pony could look at me like that. That they could depend on me so much and trust in me so much to handle things…

It’s overwhelming.

Twilight closed her eyes as she sniffed. Yeah…

Ruby’s presence filled Twilight, and Twilight tilted her head as though she could rest it upon Ruby’s shoulder. I felt the same too. I still do now, Ruby spoke sweetly. Having the responsibility of all the bat ponies thrust onto me when I had only just seen the sky for the first time in my life, I felt like I was dreaming as my hooves were swept from beneath me. It felt like that nearly every single day.

Memories of the cave trickled into Twilight’s mind, and she let herself be immersed in the emotions they brought. The wonderment of seeing the world for the first time, the way a heart quivers at unbridled kindness and love, the kind of love one gives to a pony that they trust and admire. Though it was brief, Ruby had been treated like a princess, but not in the same way as Celestia, Luna, or even Cadance. There were hardly any instances where the bat ponies bowed to Ruby when she walked in, or gave her generic and harmless answers when she asked them about their day. They were honest with her, they laughed with her, and at times even sparred with her, attacking with all their might. That rush of battle with them where they saw her as one of their own and not just an idol that should only be praised from a distance, it filled Ruby with such joy and love that she could hardly believe that this was her life. That they were her ponies, and that she was their pony as well.

Ruby shared nestled memories and emotions, and Twilight found it difficult to not openly cry at feeling those moments as Ruby had felt them. Then, in the wake of her sorrow, memories slowly turned to the moments in the field where Twilight had attacked Ruby in fury, and before everything spiraled out of control, Ruby pulled back and flooded Twilight with calmness.

Twilight, it’s okay, shhhh.

How could I have done that to you? How could-

Ruby’s voice wavered, but she kept the calming sensation going. It’s okay, Twilight… It’s okay… You suffered as well… It’s okay...

Twilight wrapped her hooves around herself as she shuddered, letting Ruby’s influence slowly relieve the anxiety that appeared until Twilight could breathe easily again. She sat still for a long time, letting her mind pick itself back together from the wave of calm, forcing herself to not dwell on the cause of the downward spiral too closely lest she return to it.

I’m sorry… Thank you…

Any time. We’re together now, and we’ll take care of each other when they need it.

Twilight smirked. Just as long as you actually let me do the same for you, then I’m perfectly fine with that.

They shared a comforting silence with one another, simply enjoying the company of the other without words before a polite cough sounded behind them. Turning around, Twilight saw Rarity standing a short distance away.

“How are you doing?” Rarity asked.

Twilight stared in wonderment at how close Rarity had managed to get without her noticing, but she quickly dashed the concern and smiled warmly at her instead. “I’m doing okay. Just… Handling things with Ruby.”

“Do you mind if I join you?”

“I’d like that.”

Rarity quietly stepped forward and sat herself beside Twilight, and together the two of them looked out into the forest.

“What’s it like being able to see at night?” Rarity asked.

“It’s like it’s day time for me and I’ve put on a pair of glasses I hadn’t known I needed,” Twilight replied. “Are you able to see any easier?”

“A little.”

Falling into silence, the two of them continued to stare out into the forest, swiveling their ears whenever an animal made a noise or when Rainbow Dash chewed too loudly.

“We were talking about being a princess,” Twilight said suddenly. “About being a princess for the bat ponies.”

“And what did you two decide on?”

“Nothing yet. The idea of being a princess still kind of scares me. But if it’s for the bat ponies, I think it might be okay. They treat royalty a bit differently than other ponies do, so that helps.”

“Hmm, I do remember you having some difficulty regarding that,” Rarity replied, and a smile appeared on her face.

That smile should have been relieving to Twilight, but instead only filled her with worry about whether it was real or not. “If… If you’re doing that just for me, you don’t have to.”

Rarity’s face became neutral as she looked to Twilight, and she replied, “I don’t think you could convince me not to do it, darling. It helps every pony else, and it also helps me remember what it feels like. If I’m ever to break this curse, I suppose I should remember what it feels like to smile, shouldn’t I?”

Twilight’s mouth fell open, but before she could say a word, Rarity placed a hoof onto her shoulder, and gave her a wide smile.

“We don’t have too much further to go, so let’s stay strong until we finish this.”

Twilight’s ears fell as she bite her lip, and then meekly nodded. “Okay…”

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

The sun shone high above, casting sunbeams between the thick foliage of the forest they found themselves in. Their hooves were sore from trekking across hard country these last few days, but the blaring horn of a faraway train ignited their spirits once again, and they knew they were close to their destination. After a quick flight for perspective, Twilight identified the general location along the mountain side, and the four of them searched the forest. They eventually found their target, and were now eyeing the small cave entrance from behind a fallen tree.

They couldn’t detect any signs of life around them, nor any movement from within the cave, and so they sat quietly as tension filled the air.

“You sure this is the right place?” Rainbow Dash whispered.

“Positive,” Twilight replied.

“It looks like a trap to me,” Applejack said.

They stared at it some moments longer.

“What’s the plan if things go bad?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Get out of the cave and into the sunlight,” Twilight replied. “It’s our best chance.”

Rainbow Dash gave a satisfied nod and then asked, “You going to be alright?”

“It won’t be comfortable, but being an alicorn vampony makes it easier for me. I’ll be able to handle it.”

Twilight set aside her sun sat beside their unsaddled bags, Applejack uncoiled her rope, Rarity floated her three rapiers to her side, and Rainbow Dash flexed her wings.

“Be careful,” Twilight said, and together they stepped out from their cover.

Tentatively crossing the open ground before the cave, they kept their eyes locked onto the dark entrance while simultaneously keeping their awareness about them. There were few places a pony could hide on the outside, but they still eyed the rocks and trees with suspicion. When they came to the actual cave entrance, they paused to look into the dark pathway, feeling the air around them being funneled into it.

“I can’t see a thing,” Rainbow Dash commented.

Twilight flared her horn. “Better that you two can see and give us away rather than be ambushed without light.”

Rainbow Dash frowned at Rarity. “I thought a cave would be too dark for even you to see in.”

“It is, dear,” Rarity replied. “I’m just capable of fighting with sound alone.”

“Oh.”

With that, they entered the cave. Guided by Twilight’s light, they cautiously stepped through the winding path, taking each turn and bend with trepidation. As they progressed, the signs of habitation became clearer. Judging from the hoof prints on the portion of the floor that was dirt, it looked like a small group of ponies had been here for a time, and Twilight felt Ruby stir in hesitant anticipation as well at what they might find.

But when they entered a large chamber filled with boulders and they saw nowhere else to go, they paused. The silence was deafening this deep in the cave, and they looked about in concern. Having reached the end, Twilight flooded the chamber with light, and her and Rarity’s ears perked at the quiet hisses that came from around them. Twilight built a pool of magic in her horn, Rarity brought her rapiers to point, and within moments Applejack and Rainbow Dash readied themselves too.

A voice called out. “Ruby?”

Twilight lowered the intensity of the light, and she relaxed her guard. “Mist Hoof?”

Stepping out from a crevice, a greying stallion appeared. “Ruby! It is you!”

Twilight gave a sorrowful smile, but she let her pooling magic fade away and reduced her light further to a more comfortable level. Applejack and Rainbow Dash relaxed as well, but Rarity only lowered the points of her rapiers.

“It’s Ruby, everypony!” Mist Hoof called out, and four ponies materialized into view. Rainbow Dash flinched from Ebon Wing who literally appeared from the shadow of a rock on her right. It was just as Lunar Pearl had said. Mist Hoof, Ebon Wing, Willow Shade, Cloud Shadow, and Ember Mane had waited for her, and at once the group of bat ponies trotted towards her.

“A bit late, aren’t you?” Mist Hoof replied with a smug grin.

Twilight’s cheeks became red as she rubbed her leg with a hoof. “Sorry, a lot's happened.”

“I can imagine.”

“Is she going to put those away or what?” Cloud Shadow asked while giving Rarity a guarded look.

Twilight looked to Rarity and her still hovering rapiers, and gave a pleading nod, which Rarity only obliged after giving each bat pony and their surroundings one last glance.

“And here I thought you remembered us,” Cloud Shadow said.

“I do. I’m just not as trusting these days.”

Mist Hoof raised an eyebrow at that, but then turned his attention to Twilight. “Night Walker and the others left some time ago.”

“I’m aware,” Twilight replied. “I’m not sure if you know, but he also attacked Dusktown.”

The bat ponies gave a look of shock, and then Cloud Shadow and Willow Shade both grinned. Willow Shade said, “Alright, the boss is moving things along. Hey, do you know if a pony called Thread Weave joined up?”

“Girls,” Mist Hoof spoke in an authoritative tone, and he gave them a glance that silenced them. “First things first.” He turned his attention back to Twilight and gave her a gaze that caused her ears to flatten. “Before we do anything else, there's something that needs to be settled first. Are you Ruby, or are you Twilight?”

Author's Note:

And I've now officially past the 300,000 word mark. Dam, I never thought it'd be this long.

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