• 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 51

Walk swiftly, young lavender,

Let your rose be your heart.

Let her thorns protect you,

For never you’ll be apart.

See swiftly, young rose,

Let lavender be your guide.

Let her petals sooth your fury,

Forever she’ll be at your side.

Come swiftly, young flowers,

Come to the awaiting night.

For you grew not in the sun,

But in the Shadow’s dark light.

Twilight, it’s okay, really. I’m fine.

Ruby, you promised. We’re doing this.

Honestly, it’s okay. Let’s just focus on—

Do you want to do this while walking with the others, or alone while we have the chance?

Twilight turned her head back in the direction of the cave. Though the trees blocked her vision, her ears twitched at the faint voices of everypony else preparing themselves at the cave’s entrance. Winter was close, and while no running of the leaves had occurred yet, the growing chill in the air made noises clearer to hear. Any cold Twilight might have felt were she not a vampony, however, was diminished as the sun began its climb into the sky, and Twilight imagined for Ruby how it might be if they addressed this issue while surrounded by everypony on the trail.

Ruby snorted. I doubt you’d actually do that. The embarrassment would be too much for you.

Twilight did not respond with irritation or sarcasm despite how much Ruby wished she did. Instead, Twilight focused her consciousness inwards and waited patiently with a firm but solemn heart.

A brief moment of regret came from Ruby for her jab, and for the others she had thrown as they walked to this secluded spot, but she still kept up her now much smaller wall. It’s a joke. I was joking. You don’t have to act all—

Ruby.

... Yes?

You can let it go.

Ruby didn’t respond, and when Twilight ever so gently pressed closer to her, Ruby let out a sniffling sound, and her remaining wall fell.

Many of Ruby’s fears and pains were alleviated when she and Twilight found the bat ponies again. They were the source of the pain she had kept hidden away since she and Twilight reforged their connections. Twilight had been overjoyed when Ruby had finally opened up again to such a deep and personal level that there were no more secrets or hidden feelings between them; a level she had once known when she had been on the inside. But even after finding the bat ponies and letting the bulk of it out, there still remained a tiny portion that Ruby kept locked away. Twilight had not pressed it further during the reunion with the bat ponies, but she was not going to let it fester any longer, and so as promised, Twilight now addressed it.

Ruby had just hoped it had been later instead of sooner.

Twilight wrapped her essence around Ruby, acting as both a warm pillow and blanket for Ruby to cry into as she shuddered internally.

I’m sorry for everything… I’m sorry for pushing you away and keeping things from you. I’m sorry for acting like I have and for jabbing at you. I know I said it was because of an identity crisis, and part of that is true, but it’s mostly because of everything weighing on me. Twilight, I… I need you. I need you and the bat ponies. I’m not anypony without you all.

You know that isn’t true, Twilight whispered gently.

Ruby sniffed. I know, but for right now… it’s how I feel. S-Someday I’ll be my own pony, but right now… I need them, and I need you. Ruby pulled herself closer to Twilight, grasping wherever she could so that she could feel safe within Twilight’s consciousness. I need you…

And I’ll be here. Just like you’ll be for me. Together.

There was still more trauma within Ruby that needed healing, and if Twilight’s recent experience on the issue had any say, Twilight knew they would be touching on this matter again multiple times in the future. Though Ruby was grafted from Twilight’s soul and was strong and mature in matters that Twilight wasn’t, she was by all accounts still young and much like a child in the grand schemes of things. She was a being that had grown much too quickly, not allowing her a lengthy amount of time to come to terms with her inner self and emotions. To make it worse, she had been betrayed by the pony who had been her biggest support in her growth, a crucial pillar that tore itself from beneath her. But even more devastating was Twilight’s response to her, and Twilight knew there were wounds between the two of them that would take time to heal despite both their logical aspects having already settled everything.

Ruby’s mind was an equal to Twilight’s, and while her emotions burned just as brightly as Twilight’s, they lacked the depth and experience, which made Twilight all the more determined to see Ruby’s recovery happen smoothly. She refused to let Ruby hide deep within her ever again, and would ensure she supported her as Ruby had done for her.

After some time of silently sharing in each other's presence, they summoned the mental landscape and stood before the mirror. The cracks were only thin lines now that could be easily overlooked, and from a certain perspective, they even formed a beautiful if not complex pattern like the lines in a stained window. Additionally, there were no longer any missing shards, allowing them to see each other in full. With heartfelt smiles the two of them placed their hooves onto the glass, and then pressed their horn tips together. They breathed a sigh in comfort at the knowledge that the mirror was now solid again, and that it no longer threatened to crack from their touch. And just for a moment as they relished their connections to one another, they felt as if they had actually touched each other instead the mirror's surface.

Sighing once more in relief, they cast away the mirror world, and returned to the present.

Ready?

Ready.

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

“Hey, Applejack, hit us with some more of those apples!” Cloud Shadow asked.

“Coming right up,” Applejack replied, and she began to fish out two more of Sweet Apple Acre’s prized products. Once she had two stems firmly held in her mouth, she whipped her head and threw them up high where they were quickly caught by two dark blurs.

“Hmmm! Sh’ou guud!” Willow Shade announced as she began devouring hers immediately.

Applejack held a proud smile even as she tactfully moved out from beneath the two bat mares and the dripping mess they made. “Ah know Ah said Ah had plenty with me, but we’ll run out at this rate if you two keep munching on them like this.”

“Last ones *mmf* for now *Om* Promise!” Cloud Shadow replied.

Applejack chuckled while shaking her head, and then she glance back at Rainbow Dash who had elected to take up the rear. The two bat mares and Rainbow Dash had decided to hover as the group walked, and thus far Rainbow Dash had kept a firm and unpleasant glare on her face.

“Come on, Sugercube. Lighten up,” Applejack said. Rainbow Dash merely grunted in response.

“Want an apple?”

“No thanks.”

“We’ll take it!” Cloud Shadow exclaimed, and she began taking larger bites in effort to finish her current one more quickly.

“Hey, it’s mine! Give it here, AJ!” Rainbow Dash responded.

“Sure thing,” Applejack replied with a smile.

“And throw it high.”

Applejack gave her a knowing look, and then knelt down. Putting all her strength into it, she whipped her head and sent the apple soaring above the tree line. Just as the apple reached its maximum height and came to a standstill, Rainbow Dash snagged it as a rainbow blur, proceeded to perform three loop de loops on her way back down, and then resettled back into her hovering height next the group. With a smug grin, she began munching on her apple, unaware of the fact that she had settled above Applejack who was once again moving out from beneath the dripping juices.

Cloud Shadow and Willow Shade simply raised their eyebrows with neutral looks, and when Rainbow Dash gave them wink, they quickly ate the remaining parts of their apples. Then while wiping off her chin with a forearm, Cloud Shadow said with a sly grin, “Three loops is pretty impressive. But maybe if you had wings like ours then you’d be able to do four or five.”

“Pssh, like leather wings can compare to feathered ones,” Rainbow Dash replied, and then took a large bite. “I shtill don’t ghet how you ‘gan even fly whish thoughs.”

Cloud Shadow and Willow Shade exchanged mischievous grins with each other before turning back to Rainbow Dash. “Something tells me you’ve never seen a batpony show their stuff in the sky.”

“Nope,” Rainbow Dash replied wiping off her chin. “Can’t be too great.”

The two bat mares giggled as they landed on the ground. “In case you didn’t know, it is true that pegasi fly more efficiently than we can,” Cloud Shadow said.

“Having those long feathers really does help catch the air beneath you, where as we have to flap a lot more,” Willow Shade added.

“But just because our flying takes a bit more effort, doesn’t mean we can’t fly better!”

Arching their backs, the two mares flapped their leathery wings and propelled themselves backwards, causing Applejack to duck her head while Rainbow Dash weaved in panic. The two bat mares had in one motion placed themselves behind Rainbow Dash, and with another flap of their wings, soared past her and into the sky.

“Our wings let us maneuver in ways that you can only dream of!” one of them shouted as they became indistinguishable from each other so high up.

“And don’t forget the loops!”

One of them broke off from the other and began tumbling in what looked like a free fall. But on closer look, she was actually performing a series of loop de loops in rapid succession and in a dizzying fashion. She continued her antics as she fell closer and closer to the ground, and just before she hit the tree line she threw her wings wide open and soared back upwards with ease.

“And we can grab more air instead of letting it slip past like feathers do!” she cried as she joined her companion.

“Oh yeah? How about this!” Rainbow Dash shouted and zoomed towards them.

As the three of them began to one-up each other in the sky, the rest of the group stared up from below with irritated expressions, Applejack even more so as she wiped off the discarded apple Rainbow Dash had dropped on to her hat.

“Do you want me to stop them?” Mist Hoof asked.

Twilight peeked up from beneath her sun hat, and it was only due to reassurances from Ruby that Twilight sighed and returned her eyes back to the woodland path. “No, let them sort it out. As long as they save some energy for when they need it and don’t injure each other, then they can bicker up there as much as they want.”

“Well, Ah’ll say one thing,” Applejack said as she finished cleaning herself. She craned her head upward and scowled at the acrobatic trio. “They ain’t getting no more apples as long as they're flying.”

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

As night settled and the campfire began to burn brightly, the group sat comfortably around its warm light. Despite some warnings, the three troublemakers were still off and away, having not taken a single break all day from showing off their aerial moves to one another. And now that it was night time, the bat mares were gleefully taking the opportunity to use their advantages over Rainbow Dash.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group enjoyed a pleasant dinner while they could, and took the uninterrupted time to discuss important matters.

“Night Walker was careful not to engage directly with Princess Celestia,” Mist Hoof continued. “He kept his distance and only came in when he had a clear shot, but he only managed grazing hits whenever he did.”

Twilight listened intently to Mist Hoof’s recount of Night Walker and Celestia’s battle, with Applejack and Rarity commenting now and then on a detail that Mist Hoof had missed.

“His main problem was Princess Celestia’s horn of course,” Mist Hoof said. “I can’t imagine how much weight she’s capable of picking up or how far she could throw something given that she raises the sun and moon.”

“Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that,” Twilight interjected. “She doesn’t move them like you would a pen or a rock, but that can be discussed later. Please, go on.”

“Huh,” Mist Hoof said before continuing. “Well, whenever she flared her horn to grab him, Night Walker would summon a sphere of shadows, darkness… I’m not sure what you’d call it. But it was damn good at blocking Princess Celestia’s sight of him.”

“And thus removed any potential hold on him,” Twilight added before sighing. “It was becoming night time, wasn’t it? So that means he had plenty of shadows to work with without battling the effects of pure daylight.”

“What’s that mean?” Applejack asked.

“Celestia is capable of channeling some of the sun’s magic, allowing her to cast spells no other pony can. Those white flames you all saw on her that night is one of those. I could feel the effects just being near them, but it isn’t as strong as natural daylight.” Twilight looked down at her half eaten apple. “I don’t know the full details of it, but because I’m an alicorn I’m naturally more resistant to daylight than regular vamponies. Night Walker has to cast a spell to become immune to it on the level that I am, but even so… I can’t imagine Celestia’s light had too great of an effect on him unless she had the time to focus on a particular spell just for that occasion.”

“And he never gave it to her,” Mist Hoof said. “If anything he was acting as if he was enjoying the whole ordeal. I couldn’t hear what he said to her while they fought, but judging by Princess Celestia’s reactions, she didn’t take it too kindly.”

“She did get mighty mad,” Applejack agreed. “When the two of them starting smashing pieces of stone off of the tower Ah thought the whole thing was gonna come down. It was only thanks to Rarity that none of those chunks ever reached the street.”

“It was all I could do to assist,” Rarity replied. “Though I wish I had been able to get a hold of Night Walker while he fought as well.”

“He dodged your magic too?” Twilight asked in disbelief.

“Only a few times, but I had stopped shortly when it became clear I needed to focus more on the falling environment.”

Twilight returned her gaze downward as she pondered over the information, mentally comparing what she had learned against what she and Ruby already knew of Night Walker’s capabilities. He was strong and fast, possessed regeneration capabilities that allowed him to heal even broken bones in minutes, and he was capable of both shadow and vampony magic of which neither she nor Ruby knew the full extent of. Despite Ruby’s victory that night when she had thrown his body against numerous trees to get her first drink of blood, Night Walker hadn’t been serious in fighting her. Even the short duels they had in the caves afterwards couldn’t be called real fights.

Night Walker was one of the most dangerous foes Twilight had ever faced, and though she felt fear at the thought of going against him for real, there was a fire in her that beckoned her to confront him, a fire that Ruby shared. Whether it was more because they were a vampony now, or because their pain and desire for revenge had changed them so, they were both intent on facing him.

“And what about Shade Flare?” Twilight suddenly asked. “How did he fight?”

“His opponent was no push over to say the least,” Rarity said. “But he is certainly dangerous in his own right.”

“His control over shadows is similar to Ebon Wing’s,” Mist Hoof said as he glanced at Ebon Wing. The sudden attention from everypony caused the quiet pony to pull his wings around his legs.

“We ain’t saying you’re him,” Applejack said warmly.

“Of course we aren’t,” Twilight said. “But if you could share anything you know about your powers it’d be really helpful.”

“Well…” Ebon Wing began. “I’ve been doing it all my life so I’m not sure really how to describe it, but I’ll try.”

Standing himself up, Ebon Wing moved a short distance away from the fire until he was next to a tree. “Sometimes you have to look at shadows differently than other ones. They aren’t always the same, but they usually work well enough if you focus.”

Ebon Wing placed a hoof on the tree, and after a moment of silence, began to slide his hoof into the shadow. “I usually try to think of it as a hole I can go into, or like a coat that wraps around me,” he said without looking away from his hoof. “And if there’s enough of it and I’m feeling good, I can completely cover myself in it, and even move around a little.” After exhaling, Ebon Wing stepped forward and within moments, vanished into the tree.

Everypony else looked on in amazement, all except Mist Hoof and Ember Mane who had on more than one occasion been responsible for tracking down the user of such an irritating ability. Even though Ruby had seen it a few times herself, she was just as amazed as the rest of them were. And then an idea came to her.

Twilight’s ears flicked at Ruby’s voice, and she called out, “Ebon Wing, stay right there. I’m just going to check something.”

“Okay,” Ebon Wing replied with a muffled voice.

Twilight moved away from the fire until she was but a few paces from the tree, and after closing her eyes, reopened them to reveal a white light. Following Ruby’s lead, the two of them used Soul Sight towards the tree, and found the nestled orb hidden within it and wrapped by a thin veil of darkness. To Ruby’s surprise, it was more difficult to locate him than her previous attempts, but they found it nonetheless.

The veil that surrounded his soul was something he did not previously possess, and if Ruby and Twilight had to guess, it was something related to shadow magic. Their guesses, however, only made Ruby feel regret. I can’t believe I didn’t study those magics while I had the chance. I just figured there would be time to learn and—

It’s okay, Ruby. You didn’t know. We both didn’t.

Ruby exhaled after receiving a gentle touch from Twilight. Right. Let’s see what we got here.

Peering closer, they saw the fibers that flashed due to Ebon Wing’s use of shadow magic. It pulsed in a way that was different from regular magic, and in some ways similar to the natural magic found within ponies like a pegasus’s flight and earth pony’s innate sense of the earth. From a quick academic guess, Ruby and Twilight figured that not all ponies are capable of learning shadow magic, and even among the potential candidates there would only be a small amount that could actually perform it. Ebon Wing’s use of it was a testament to his incredible natural affinity. After a closer but restrained inspection of the other aspects of his soul for privacy’s sake, they came to a conclusion as to why his ability worked in the particular way it did.

Hiding in the shadows is what he really wants... Ruby’s voice then became soft. I didn’t realize he thought of himself like this...

You can’t blame yourself, Twilight preemptively said.

I know, but I can change how he will feel in the future. Nopony should feel as if they’re meant to be alone.

Without letting his soul out of sight, Twilight walked to the side of the tree Ebon Wing had entered and placed her hoof onto the dark bark. Narrowing her eyes, she and Ruby focused on the unfamiliar magic, attempting to copy the magical pulses that Ebon Wing generated. With effort, and possibly some luck, they were successful in their mimicry, and Twilight’s hoof slowly slid into the tree.

The rest of the group watched in awe as Twilight extended her entire foreleg into the tree’s shadow, and then gently pulled Ebon Wing out. Ebon Wing stared up with the widest pair of eyes Twilight and Ruby had ever seen him make, and after dismissing their Soul Sight, they both looked down at him with their gentle, crimson eyes.

“You don’t have any reason to hide yourself anymore. At least, not for those reasons,” Twilight whispered so only he could hear.

Ebon Wing numbly nodded his head, and together the two of them walked back to the fire.

Mist Hoof looked at Twilight, then to Ebon Wing, and then back to Twilight before giving a satisfied grunt. “Looks like I know who to go to in the future.”

Twilight smiled, and then turned her focus to Ebon Wing. “It was a harder than before to find you.”

“Yeah… uh…,” Ebon Wing said as he found his words. “N-Night Walker had been teaching me. He said I had a lot of potential and that… I shouldn’t hide it away either…”

Twilight paused for a moment, but smiled nonetheless. “Well, you shouldn’t. In fact, I’d like to talk with you later and see if you could teach me what you’ve learned.”

“Me? Teach you?”

“Sure, why not?”

“N-No reason…” Ebon Wing then turned his gaze back to the fire and hastily began eating his remaining portions of food.

“So uh… You can do this shadowy magic now?” Applejack asked.

Twilight raised her hoof before the campfire and concentrated on the shadows she casted, but nothing happened despite her and Ruby’s effort. Dropping her hoof as she sighed, Twilight replied, “I think I can pick it up, but it isn’t going to be easy. It’s an entirely unknown magic for me, and there aren’t any written documents about it even in Dusktown. Even as the Element of Magic and a vampony it’s going to be one of the harder things I’ll have learned.” Twilight lowered her hoof, but then gave a smile. “But once I get the hang of it, I think I’ll be fairly good.”

“And vampony magic?” Mist Hoof asked.

Twilight’s smiled turned into a frown. “That’s going to be even more difficult. Not because it’ll be hard for me to cast, but because I know even less about it than shadow magic, and because it uses blood. I refuse to experiment recklessly with it.”

“But you know some of it, right?”

“Just enough to turn a pony into a vampony,” Twilight replied. “Speaking of which, I need to look you over in detail sometime.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to do it now?”

Twilight shook her head. “Ruby and I have a lot of examining to do before we feel comfortable in turning any more ponies into vamponies.”

“I see,” Mist Hoof said as he rubbed his chin. “I suppose it’s better than going about it too eagerly like Shade Flare has been doing.”

“What do you-... oooooooh,” Twilight groaned as she placed a hoof on her forehead. “Right… We completely forgot… Shade Flare has already been turning others into vamponies, hasn’t he?”

“Afraid so. In fact, he’s probably been busy making more this entire time.”

Twilight groaned. “Great…”

Having everypony handle Shade Flare and the others might have been possible, but if there are more vamponies...

This just became a lot harder if they all decide to come at us. We might have to reconsider this. I’m not risking everypony else to hold off Celestia knows how many vamponies while we deal with Night Walker.

Ruby let out a ‘tsk, but reluctantly agreed. I don’t like it either, but you’re right on that.

“Twilight?”

“Yes, Rarity?” Twilight said as she lifted her head up. But as she looked into Rarity’s eyes, she had a feeling at what she was going to say. “I can’t ask you all to—”

“We are settling this one way or another,” Rarity stated. “We all knew the dangers when we agreed to this.”

Twilight’s mouth fell agape, and before the rest could speak their mind Twilight had jumped to her hooves. “No, you don’t get to say that!” Pointed a hoof at her, Twilight shouted, “I am not risking your lives. Night Walker and Shade Flare were enough, but vamponies? Plural? No, we need to rethink this.”

“Then we contact Princess Celestia and Princess Luna to aid us.”

“They won’t let me face him! I have to do this!” Twilight snarled.

Rarity as ever, though, remained calm and neutral. “Then we have the local guard in Ponyville to assist us and they can either waste their time waiting for Princess Celestia and Princess Luna to arrive or they will escort us to the Castle of the Two Sisters. Regardless, Twilight, we are not backing out of this. Just because the situation has changed somewhat does not mean you can decide whether we can help you or not.”

“And why can’t I?” Twilight replied, lowering her voice but now beginning to tremble some. “I didn’t even want you to come when it was just Night Walker and Shade Flare, but… I can’t ask you to fight vamponies. I just can’t.”

“Excuse me, Princess, but we might not have to,” Mist Hoof interrupted.

Twilight blinked in confusion as she turned towards him. “What do you mean?”

Giving her a sly grin, he said, “Do you really think we were the only ones who wanted to side with you?”

“What?” Twilight whispered.

Mist Hoof motioned to Ember Mane and Ebon Wing. “The only reason why we were the only ones to stay behind was because we convinced the others who wanted to as well to not do it. They weren’t happy about it, but they decided to follow my advice when I gave it. When we arrive, we’re going to have a little bit of help on the inside.”

“In what manner?” Rarity asked.

“Night Walker’s current location, holding off others as much as they can should they attack, and sneaking us in if they're able to.”

“But they’d be fighting each other!” Twilight exclaimed.

“They won’t, Princess. They’ll just provide assistance where they can. I’m not expecting them to get into a hoof match. Bat ponies don’t fight bat ponies when it’s important.” Ember Mane and Ebon Wing nodded their heads at that. “The way I see it, nearly all of them aren’t going to be quite sure what to do about the whole matter, and I doubt any of them are going to get in your way either, Princess.”

“They’re not sure on who to follow…” Rarity guessed aloud.

Mist Hoof nodded. “Right now the bat ponies are torn. Do they trust their lives to be lead by Night Walker, or the Princess?”

Twilight had settled down somewhat, and was now sitting again. “Do… Do you really think they’ll pick us?”

“They like both of you. We all do. But if it comes down to it, I’d say it’s whoever is standing at the end.” Mist Hoof gave a solemn look as he quietly added, “I just hope it’s you when all is said and done.”

“It will be,” Twilight said. “Ruby and I promise. When we reach the Castle of the Two Sisters, we’re ending this.”

A tense mood fell over the campsite, and for some moments, the only sound was the crackling of the fire. But shortly enough, that silence was disturbed by three whooping and hollering mares that practically crash landed into the camp. Their wing strokes kicked up bits of loose grass and nearly blew out the fire. Aside from a few noticeable bumps on Rainbow Dash’s head that she most likely obtained while trying to keep up with the two bat mares in their night flying, the three of them looked to be in high spirits as they wore childish grins.

“So, what’d we miss?” the trio asked in unision.

Author's Note:

Bit of a slow and inbetween chapter, but rest assured that the climax is coming soon.

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