• 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 52

A few days later…

In the early morning as the sun began to peek over the horizon, a tired guard let out a yawn. His companion next to him followed in suit moments later, and after a few lip smacks, they dutifully returned their attention to the street in front of the treehouse. Though the only occupant inside was the princess’s companion, Spike, they still remained ever vigilant.

The burden of defending Ponyville had been eased somewhat by the arrival of more guards as per the orders of the Twin Sisters to double its defenses, but even though there were more bodies for the patrols and watches, it raised the tension that beset the town.

An attack wasn’t expected, but given the state of everything, every pony still worried about the potential for one, and of course, the whereabouts of their local princess.

The two guards cocked their ears as they heard the library door open behind them, and they turned with welcoming smiles as Spike hobbled out with a tray of coffee and snacks.

“Here you go, guys,” Spike said as he sat the tray down between them. “Can I get you anything else?”

“This is plenty, thank you,” one guard replied as he lifted a mug and began to cool it with his breath.

Spike gave him a cheerful nod, but then looked down sheepishly as he began poking his index claws together. “Any word yet?”

“Nothing yet. We still haven’t even been told if Princess Celestia has returned to Canterlot.” He then took a brief sip, wincing at the temperature. “Though, I can’t imagine we’d be the first to hear about it.”

“Oh…”

As the guard magically raised a slice of bread and cheese to accompany his coffee, he paused at the glare he was receiving from his companion.

“I mean… I’m sure we’ll hear any important news right away, especially anything relating to Princess Twilight and her current whereabouts. After all, we’re Ponyville’s garrison, Princess Twilight’s home town. And you’re her… best friend, right?”

“Her assistant,” Spike corrected, but by the small smile he wore it was clear to them he wore the title proudly. “You’re right. I’m just still worried about her. I don’t even know how many times she’s run off without me where I can’t do anything for her, like an assistant should be doing. I know I’m a still a baby dragon but… I can still do something.”

The two guards exchanged brief glances, unsure of how to respond. One, however, eventually cleared his throat. “Forgive me for speaking poorly of our Princess, but I couldn’t imagine why anypony would want to run away from such a delicious brew of coffee.” He took a long sip of his cup, and let out a satisfied sigh. “There’s a reason why the library post has been called the best spot in Ponyville amongst us guard.”

“Well, there’s more where that came from,” Spike said, looking somewhat more cheerful.

The guard gave him a relieved smile before raising the cup to his lips again, but just as he was about to take another sip, the small gem badge he wore on his shoulder strap began to flash with a blue color.

The two guards paused their eating as they looked over their gems, and all traces of tiredness vanished from their faces.

“What is it?” Spike asked. “Is it Night Walker?”

“No, attacks are in red,” one of them replied. “Blue means something big is happening that isn’t dangerous. Usually it's reserved for things like Princess Celestia or Luna suddenly arriving. Judging by the light, it looks like the patrol on the east side activated the alarm.”

Spike moved beside one of them as he looked closer at the flashing gem. “Do you think the Princess’s found something about where Twilight’s at?”

“Maybe, or…” the guard said as he lifted his head and looked down the street. “Or maybe it’s someone even better.”

Spike followed his gaze and saw a large group of ponies approaching the library from the main street, and at the front of them was Twilight wearing a happy but nervous smile.

“Twilight!”

Knocking over the tray of food without care, Spike ran towards her as fast as he could and threw his arms across her neck when he reached her, nearly knocking off her sun hat in the process. He let out a soft ‘oof’ from his collision with her, having forgotten she was sturdier than before. Though, even if he wasn’t a dragon with tough scales, he wouldn’t have cared if the tackle had given him bruises.

“You’re back!”

“I’m back,” Twilight softly replied as she lowered her head and wrapped a hoof around him. “Sorry I keep running away.”

“Just as long as you keep coming back… it’s alright,” Spike whispered.

After a tight squeeze, Spike let go of Twilight and looked up at her with a worried expression. “What’s going on? Where did you go? Did you run into Night Walker? How was Dusktown?”

“Dusktown was interesting to say the least,” Twilight replied. She then turned her head to look over her shoulder. “As for the rest, it’ll take some explaining.”

Spike followed her gaze past Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash, and he widened his eyes in surprise at the five bat ponies in the back that he hadn’t noticed at first glance. But given that there were at least ten guard ponies in a tight circle formation around Twilight’s entire group that blocked the view, it wasn’t too surprising in retrospect. Though, nopony seemed too pleased by the situation given that the guards and the bat ponies kept shooting wary glances at each other.

“Uh, Twilight? Night Walker isn’t somewhere in the back, is he? Like, maybe surrounded by every guard pony in Ponyville?” Spike asked quietly.

“No, it’s just these five.” Twilight raised her hoof towards them. “Mist Hoof, Cloud Shadow, Willow Shade, Ember Mane, and Ebon Wing. Guys, this is Spike, my personal assistant and dear friend.”

“By the ni~ght!” Cloud Shadow squealed before she dashed forward, startling the guards and everypony else. She then skidded to a halt only inches away from Spike and gave him a fawning grin. “You are adorable!”

Spike flinched at the sudden incursion to his personal space, and before he could open his mouth, Cloud Shadow swept him up into her arms and began nuzzling his cheek. “You’re so warm! Ah! I love your scales!”

With the exception of the guard tensing their muscles, everyone else looked on in shock.

“Nice to… meet you?” Spike mumbled as he sat rigid in her arms.

“Oh my gosh, I’m sorry!” Cloud Shadow replied as she set him down. Lowering the front portion of her body so that she was eye level with him, she gave him a cheerful grin. “I just get a little excited sometimes. Hi, I’m Cloud Shadow! It’s nice to meet you, Spike. Is it okay if I touch the barbs on your head?”

“I, uh… sure?”

Cloud Shadow squealed, and ever so daintily poked the barbs on Spike’s head. After a few gentle prods, she began to giggle in excitement.

“And ponies mistake us for twins,” Willow Shade said with a deadpan voice, not having been caught by surprise in the least by Cloud Shadow’s reaction towards Spike, and she began to trudge towards her. “Doesn’t matter if it’s lizards or snakes, she’s always loved reptiles. She’s got tons of them back at her house in Dusktown. Honestly, like I could ever have a sister with such a freaky habit.”

Cloud Shadow frowned as she looked back at Willow Shade. “It’s not freaky! Ponies just don’t understand them. Everyone back home just runs away from the snakes, never taking the chance to see how cool reptiles actually are.” She then turned back to Spike and flashed him a big smile. “Of course, you’re not a snake. You’re a dragon! Which is ten times better! How awesome is that?”

“Pretty awesome, I think,” Spike nervously replied.

“Okay, Cloud Shadow, time to let the poor guy free. He isn’t one of your pets,” Willow Shade snarkily said before grabbing Cloud Shadow’s tail in her mouth and beginning to pull her away.

“Hey, I’m not done yet! I still need to ask him if it's true dragons can eat gems or not!”

“It’s true,” Twilight answered for Spike, who was also looking quite unsure about the whole matter.

“I knew it,” Cloud Shadow said with childlike grin even as she was dragged into the back of the group.

“Okay…” Twilight said. “Now that… whatever that was is done… Silver Shield!”

“Yes, Princess?” a unicorn guard responded, the first one to have spotted Twilight and the others approaching the town.

“Please have all the guard within Ponyville assemble in front of the library. There’s... something I have to discuss with you all.”

Silver Shield gave a quick salute, and then began to work his magic into the gem badge pinned on his shoulder strap. After casting his spell, his and the other badges within Ponyville began to flash between blue and purple.

Twilight eyed the badge curiously. “When did the guard get those? I’ve never seen them before.”

“They’re newly issued, Princess,” Silver Shield replied. “We only received them a few months ago. The entire guard was supposed to be outfitted with them but there was a delay in production, so at this time only the contingent in Ponyville has them.”

Twilight stepped closer and looked at it in fascination. “What are they called?”

“Gem Markers. They are early prototypes of a means of communication amongst guard, developed by Prince Blueblood.”

And like that, Twilight’s interest was lost.

“Right now we can only communicate by color patterns, such as the first color being the situation and the second the location, but there are plans to—”

“Okay, I get it,” Twilight replied flatly, and she began walking towards the library.

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

Some minutes later, Twilight—with her hat set aside—and her friends stood by the library. In front of her and in formation were the forty members of the guard stationed in Ponyville. It was no secret that Twilight had kept her duties as a princess as minimal as possible, hardly ever addressing any crowd in a royal fashion save for a few ceremonies that required her presence. But what was even more important for them was the knowledge that they would be the first unit in the guard to receive an official command, and they waited for it eagerly.

Despite their small numbers, the task of defending Ponyville had only been given to the most elite members, excluding any of those who had connections to the Hunters. While the more senior members wore a calm countenance, the younger ones could hardly suppress their grins at what they considered to be an historic occasion.

As silence fell over the attentive guards, ponies were beginning to wake from their beds and exit their homes for the day. It was only minutes before a crowd began to form around the library, and as it grew, Twilight’s nervousness only deepened.

It was only after receiving a small nudge from Rarity, along with a supportive smile that was more saddening than helpful, that Twilight gulped and finally stepped forward.

This part sounded a lot easier in my head.

Twilight sensed a small amount of amusement from Ruby, and she knew Ruby was contemplating making a jab at Twilight’s first official command being an order to war, but to Twilight’s relief, Ruby suppressed it given the gravity of the situation. My rule was short, but trust me, it does become a little easier with practice. You can use my memories for guidance. Just tell them what you want to do.

Easy for you to say. If any of them die then—

I know Twilight, I know. But as much as you don’t want to hear it, this is one of those times where lives must be put at risk. Twilight shuddered at the notion, and a flurry of emotions and thoughts came rushing through. But thanks to Ruby’s deeper knowledge of their soul, she picked through the oncoming fears, isolating the small ones with a magical calm while addressing the larger worries. You aren’t Princess Celestia. You aren’t Princess Luna. You are Twilight, and you’ll rule as you are supposed to rule. Talk to them as Twilight would.

But what about you?

Twilight felt the phantom sensation of Ruby smiling. Then talk to them as the Princess of Friendship and Vamponies would. I’ll give you a hoof.

With Ruby’s aid and direction, Twilight felt her fears drift away from her, and while Twilight retained her persona for her choice of words, Ruby’s influence was available at a moment’s notice should she need to rely on it. Twilight took a deep breath, exhaled, and then stepped forward as she raised her voice.

“As you are all aware, Night Walker and some one-hundred and fifty bat ponies have gone into hiding.”

The guards stiffened their backs and perked their ears forward.

“Due… Due to recent events, I’ve learned where they are hiding,” Twilight said as she motioned to Mist Hoof and the others. “Thanks to these bat ponies whom you are to treat as comrades, we learned that Night Walker is within the Castle of the Two Sisters, deep within the Everfree Forest.”

Some of Ponyville’s residents gasped at the statement, but the guards remained quiet as they listened.

“Night Walker needs to be stopped, therefore…” Twilight said, her voice faltering somewhat. But thanks to Ruby’s assistance, Twilight fixed her posture and looked to them with a firm gaze. “Therefore I’ve decided that he must be dealt with now, before the day is over while we have the advantage of daylight.”

There were murmurs from the gathering crowd, along with more gasps. While the guards remained composed, they did flick their tails and widen their eyes in surprise at the bold declaration.

“Of course, we will notify Princess Celestia and Princess Luna about this,” Twilight said, purposefully using their titles. “But we cannot wait for their arrival. I will be entering the Everfree Forest here shortly. I ask that some of you please remain in Ponyville so that it can continue to be defended, and to greet Princess Celestia and Princess Luna when they arrive and inform them of the situation. But if any of you wish to aid me in this dangerous mission…” Twilight swallowed, and took another step forward as she raised her hopeful voice. “Then I ask that you come with me to stop Night Walker, and help bring peace back to Equestria!”

As she waited for reply, Twilight became aware that she was holding her breath. She looked into the eyes of the guard ponies that stared at her in a mixture of resolve and uncertainty. A knot began to develop in her chest, and as she was about to open her mouth, that knot suddenly unwound itself.

It’s okay. Just give them a moment.

Twilight swallowed again, and just as she was certain they were about to refuse her command and do something ridiculous like detain her while they notified Princess Celestia and Luna, one pony called out.

“We’ll follow your orders, Princess Twilight,” Silver Shield called out. He then knelt before her, and within moments, the rest of the guard followed suit as they replied with the same words. “We will accompany you into the Everfree Forest and assist you in stopping Night Walker. Our lives are in your hooves.”

Twilight’s mouth fell open, and she stared at them in a mixture of shock and relief.

Are you really this surprised that they decided to come with you?

... A little.

Ruby laughed, and Twilight felt her brush gently against her. Come on. You’re a Princess. We’ll, technically you’re two princesses if you count me.

Which I do.

Then what are we waiting for? Let’s hash out the details and get going while we have daylight.

Twilight nodded, and then motioned for the guard to rise. “Silver Shield, please select the ponies you believe should remain in Ponyville. As for the rest of you, collect whatever you need for a trek, we’ll be going through the Everfree, and not through the regular path. Rainbow Dash, can you show the guards the spot along the eastern front, the one near the stream?”

“Sure, Twilight,” Rainbow Dash replied. “But wouldn’t it be easier for them if we use the trail that passes by Zecora’s? These ponies haven’t really been through the Everfree before, and that one has a lot less undergrowth.”

Twilight shook her head. “I’m worried that Night Walker will have some pony on watch, so we’re going a different way.”

“Alright, if you say so.”

“Thank. I’ll be there as soon as I send of a letter to Princess Celestia.” Twilight turned to her attention back to the guards. “We will discuss the details of our plan and then enter the forest. We leave in half an hour.”

After giving Twilight their salutes, the guards leapt into action immediately. Silver Shield, along with a few senior members, began selecting those who would remain in addition to drafting contingency plans. Others quickly set off to gather their supplies for the trek, while some dashed into local restaurants for a quick breakfast, of which Rainbow Dash followed shortly.

Twilight exhaled as her nervousness began to fade, and after glancing over the ponies she now commanded, she turned towards the library. “Spike, we’ll be sending a letter.”

“Got it right here,” Spike said, whipping out a quill and parchment.

Twilight blinked in surprised, wondering when he had entered the library, but dismissed the question as she smiled at him. “Always my number one assistant.”

“You know it,” Spike replied, and he readied the quill.

Within a minute, the letter was written and Twilight quickly eyed it over. It was brief, horribly so, but it covered the main points of the situation clearly. And given the dire nature of the matter, Twilight could only afford the time to triple check it.

“Looks good, Spike,” Twilight said as she gave it to him. But as soon as Spike rolled the parchment and expanded his cheeks, Twilight quickly snatched it back from his grasp with her magic.

“Not yet!” she exclaimed. A faint red appeared on her cheeks when Spike gave her a questioning look, but she kept the scroll beside her. “We’ll send it just before we enter the forest.”

“But don’t you at least want to hear what—”

“Spike,” Rarity said as she appeared beside him, startling him in the process. “Trust Twilight on this matter. She needs to remain focused.”

Spike began to prod his claws together again as he looked back and forth between them. “I don’t like it…” he said. “Everypony keeps trying to do everything on their own.”

“I know, Spike,” Twilight said. She walked up to him with a sullen face and placed a hoof on his shoulder. “I know this has been hard. But please, only send this letter after we’ve entered the forest.”

Spike looked up at her, and then to the scroll she now magically extended out to him. After a few moments followed by a heavy sigh, he nodded his head. “Okay…”

“Thank you, Spike,” Twilight said, and she wrapped her hooves around him for a tight hug, one that he returned as well.

“Just… Please be safe and come back, okay?” he whispered to her.

“I will.”

They squeezed one another once more, and then pulled apart as Spike reluctantly grabbed the scroll and held it close to his chest.

Rarity placed a hoof on his shoulder and smiled at him. “Thank you, Spike. I promise we’ll return shortly. We’ll take care of each other.”

“Okay,” Spike replied, looking somewhat cheered up, but still gripping the scroll tightly.

Rarity nodded, and then turned to Twilight. “You know what you must do first, before we enter the Everfree.”

Twilight gave her a questioning look, but then froze at the intense gaze she received from Rarity. Twilight gulped before bringing a hoof towards her throat, gently rubbing at the small burn that she had been intentionally ignoring.

“I’m not going to be able to talk you out of this one, am I?”

“I’m afraid not, darling.”

“You haven’t fed in a while, Sugercube,” Applejack said as she approached. “Ah’m sure Pinkie’s cupcakes were good, but Ah have a feeling they ain’t enough to sustain ya for something as important as fighting Night Walker.”

“No, they wouldn’t be enough,” Twilight mumbled in reply as she lowered her ears. She affixed her gaze downwards, biting her lip in dread.

It isn’t that bad.

Yes it is. It’s awful.

Twilight recalled when she had feed on Applejack and Rarity, back when she had returned to Ponyville. The memories were a bit hazy due the overwhelming sensations. The pain in her heart, her tears, the horrible burn in her throat, the guilt she felt, all of it had been simply so overwhelming that she tried to remember the event as little as possible. But to her dismay, the taste of the soothing blood stood clear in her mind when she did think of that time. Even now as she thought about it, she parted her lips from her urge to drink. It was an urge she quickly muffled when she realized what she was doing.

“You need your strength,” Rarity said, the firmness in her tone catching Twilight’s attention. “And you need a clear mind. You can’t fight him like this.”

Twilight’s face fell at the statement, and she turned her gaze downward again.

She’s right, Twilight. You drank quite a bit from them last time, but most of that was used replenishing your strength. And your constant exposure to sunlight has been burning away what little reserve you have left.

You… You were paying that much attention to me?

Of course I was. Just because we weren’t on speaking terms doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to do what I could. We do share the same body, so it’d be stupid if I didn’t. Don’t you remember the moment when you could fly again?

The memory of Twilight fruitlessly attempting to sate her thirst with water from a stream came forth, back when Twilight had just had her memories returned. Though, the memory was now shared with Ruby’s perspective, and Twilight saw what she had done.

That’s right, my wings weren’t working…

We were damaged pretty badly, Ruby said in a gentle voice, referring to when Twilight had torn through their soul recklessly. It took me a while to patch things up.

Ruby, I—

You don’t need to apologize, Twilight. At least, not right now. Rarity and Applejack are waiting for you.

Twilight blinked in surprise as she returned her focus to her surroundings, and her cheeks reddened upon seeing her friends patiently waiting in front of her. “Sorry,” Twilight mumbled.

“It’s alright, darling. Did you and Ruby come to a decision?”

Twilight nodded. “She wants me to drink as well…”

“Then let’s take care of it right now.”

Twilight nodded in defeat, and trudged for the library door, mentally noting how many days she had managed until now for future cases.

Rarity magically opened the door for Twilight, and then motioned for Applejack to enter first. She then turned her head towards Mist Hoof and the rest of the bat ponies who stood a short distance away. Mist Hoof gave her a nod before he gathered the others and began to follow the guards.

“Spike,” Rarity said, still keeping an eye on the bat ponies.

“Yes?”

“Would you be a dear and please show Mist Hoof and the others where the Everfree border is?”

Spike gripped the scroll as he looked to the library. “I guess, but I was kind of hoping to be with Twilight through this though…”

“Another time, Spike. Right now she needs some privacy.” Rarity turned towards him and touched his shoulder with her hoof. “It’s hard enough having two of her friends nearby for this. Until she’s more comfortable with the matter, it’s best to keep the audience as small as possible, no matter how supportive their intentions are. It’ll be easier for her right now.”

Spike looked up to her, and to Rarity’s surprise, actually frowned at her. “And how do you know what she needs?”

Rarity opened her mouth to reply, but Spike turned away before she could.

“Sorry… I’m just worried for her. I just want to help.” Then without another word, Spike dashed off to the departing bat ponies, wiping his eyes along the way.

He knew about Twilight and Rarity’s situation, and it was clear to Rarity how difficult this all was for him. The thing that made the situation worse, however, was the lack of feeling within Rarity as she watched him run off. She imagined another time when she would have felt torn in asking him to leave, or rather, not even having the heart to do so. But she didn’t have those notions presently, and so, she searched for the only thing that she could feel, and she kindled it, fanning it hotter and hotter for the stallion she intended to unleash it all upon.

With a grim face, she turned around and entered the library, closing the door behind her. Despite her growing fire, she kept her face calm and her movements composed as she approached Twilight and Applejack.

“So… How are we doing this?” Twilight asked.

“Ah’ll be the one,” Applejack said. “Rare’s and Ah already talked it out. As much as Ah hate it, Ah’ll be staying here in Ponyville, readying things in case it doesn’t go well. Ah do more harm than good if you had to worry about me in a fight, given the loss of blood and all.”

“You two seem to do a lot of talking without me these days,” Twilight replied quietly, but lowered her ears as she mumbled an apology immediately afterward. “Sorry… Are you sure, Applejack?”

“Yup,” Applejack said after a sigh, understanding Twilight’s irritation but nonetheless feeling right about her actions. “And Ah promise, no more holding out on ya. We’re just trying to look out for you is all, especially when… well, you know.”

“I tend to do stupid things on my own?”

“Because sometimes you can get a little rash,” Applejack corrected. “Besides,” she said as she returned to the topic at hoof, “it’s not like there’s anypony else that could do it. Or even another pony you’d be willing to bite Ah bet.”

“And as much as I would love to help,” Rarity said. “I don’t think I’m in the best state to let you drink from me. Last time was difficult enough, and I’d hate to do anything violent right now.”

Twilight reluctantly nodded, and sat on her haunches.

Do you want some help?

No… Don’t suppress anything.

... Are you sure?

Twilight sighed. Someday I’ll be better with it. Maybe even accept it. But I’ll never get there if I keep running away from it.

Hmmm.

What?

Nothing really. Just interesting seeing how you feel. Twilight felt Ruby’s consciousness pull closer, gently poking at a spot in her chest that felt like a knot. It’s interesting to see that despite a pony’s sudden bravery or courage that there’s still a very fragile foundation beneath it. Ruby plucked at the fibers of Twilight’s underlying fear and anxiety, and it made Twilight shuddered at the emotions she was attempting to muffle.

That’s not helping.

I’m not doing it to be mean, Ruby replied, and she drew her focus on it more. Take your drink. I’ll be down here observing. Don’t worry, I’m not going to suppress anything or change how you feel about it. It’s just research and making sure everything goes okay with you. There’s a lot of anxiety flaring up and I’m not liking the way it’s pulsing through you.

Oh… Okay.

Twilight returned her focus to the library, and reddened again at Rarity and Applejack’s stares. “Sorry, Ruby was just setting something up.”

“Is she going to make it easier for you or something?” Applejack asked.

“No, just… She’s just watching. Let’s just get this over with.”

Applejack nodded, and then shuffled closer to Twilight. “So ya want my leg or…”

“Leg’s fine,” Twilight mumbled in reply.

“Right.” Applejack raised her hoof and extended it out to Twilight.

Twilight stared at limb with a sense of dread and apprehension. But even as she did, the slight burn in her throat drew her attention to the blood vessels within Applejack’s leg, and Twilight subsciously parted her mouth as her breathing quickened.

“O-Okay… Here goes,” Twilight whispered, finding herself captivated more and more by the moment.

Twilight carefully lowered her head, eyeing Applejack’s orange coat with wide eyes as she looked over various entry points. “Where should I… um…”

“Same spot as last time,” Applejack replied, though with a bit of nervousness in her voice.

Twilight nodded, and she quickly found the scars. She opened her mouth at the sight of them, closed it, and then opened it again, tensing each time she drew her fangs closer. Part of her still wanted to turn away and risk facing Night Walker as she was, but she knew that couldn’t happen. Especially when Applejack was willing to abstain from the fight for Twilight’s sake.

The thought of it made Twilight feel disgust towards herself for having to rely on Applejack in such a way, but at the same time, there was a deep thankfulness towards Applejack letting her rely on her in such a way.

Worried what she might do if she delayed any further, Twilight took a quick series of breaths, and then bit into Applejack with her eyes closed.

Twilight heard Applejack suck in a breath, and she felt her muscles twitch in response to the bite, but all of that seemed terribly unimportant as soon as the blood entered her mouth. Its mere taste nearly drove all of Twilight’s anxiety away at once, and it was only afterward that she realized that she had moaned.

She dimly opened her eyes as she drank, losing herself in the strange sensation of feeling weak in the knees while also feeling a strength enter her body. The burning sensation in her throat vanished beneath the soothing and warm blood, and she closed her eyes as she pressed herself closer to Applejack’s leg, greedily drinking more.

Her shame and guilt lingered at the edge of her mind, but she dismissed it as best as she could, forcing herself to only focus on the rejuvenating effects of the blood. And though she also tried to push down the immense satisfaction that came over her while drinking, she couldn’t help but feel the sense of pleasure build.

Even Ruby was not immune to its effects, and Twilight became aware of her own pleasure mingling with hers as they both felt the delicious and sating effects it wrought on their body.

“That’s enough, Twilight,” Rarity’s voice said, cutting through the haze.

Twilight opened her eyes, and for a moment she stared coldly at Rarity for the interruption. But that notion was banished as quickly as it had come, and Twilight let go of Applejack with a loud exhale.

Twilight’s breathing had become heavy, and she watched in envy as Applejack drew her arm away.

“Was that enough?” Applejack asked while cradling her arm.

Twilight didn’t respond at first as she breathed open-mouthed, still coming down from the blood’s intense effects, but slowly and surely she closed her mouth, and she gave a simple nod.

The uneasiness in Applejack’s face was clear, but she still mustered a smile as she stood herself up on three legs. “Good to hear. Ah’m a… Ah’ma go bandage this now.”

“Okay,” Twilight whispered, and she watched as Applejack hobbled her way into the kitchen. Twilight licked the lingering blood within her mouth, idly noting how much she had drank in her brief but intense stupor.

“I see that this time was a bit different for you,” Rarity commented as she eyed Twilight.

“Y-Yeah, it was…” Twilight replied.

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

An hour later…


Quietly passing through the Everfree Forest, Twilight’s senses were nearly overwhelming. Every sound she heard, every scent she smelled, all of it came flowing to her like the information she would read out of a book. Even Rarity’s close steps were more noticeable for Twilight, and the accompanying guard were practically impossible to ignore. Their movements were not clumsy by any means, even in their armor, and Twilight didn’t doubt that they’d be able to silently approach any other pony. But for her, they might as well have walking around clanging pots while holding large arrow signs.

This is definitely different than before, Ruby quickly spoke.

Twilight’s ears swiveled as she heard a squirrel cross a branch high above her, noting how its tiny footsteps sounded over the tree’s moss.

Everything is so distracting, Twilight complained with wide eyes. I don’t even know what to focus on!

You’re not the only one, Ruby said. Twilight could feel her moving her consciousness about their body in rapid motions, matching the high speed they spoke to one another. There’s so many connections flaring about us and I can’t help but jump to each of them. We’re practically buzzing with energy.

Buzzing. Why are we buzzing? Twilight asked as her eyes snapped back and forth across the crude trail.

Too many possibilities, Ruby replied with a shortened breath. Her attention would be drawn in an incredibly focused state at one section before another would catch her notice, and at times she would even concentrate on multiple sections at a time. We’ve been deprived of blood for a while, possibly causing us to overload now that we’ve finally drank. Likelihood? Very.

Agreed. Other hypothesis?

You focus on the outside, I’ll focus on the inside, Ruby quickly replied as Twilight began to formulate her own.

Right, of course, Twilight replied as she turned her head to catch a fleeting look at an owl poking its head out from its hollow in the distance.

Other hypothesis. Our reformed connections have created an unintended side effect of doubling the effects of blood, causing us to become overcharged from drinking.

This is going to happen every time!?

Likelihood is small. Highly improbable.

Twilight silently weaved through a series of low-hanging branches, dodging their otherwise intruding touch with abnormal ease.

I bet I could walk at a thirty degree angle to my side without losing pace.

Test for another time. Third hypothesis. Applejack’s blood holds a special effect due to some unknown compatibility.

Twilight paused, but only for a moment.

New hypothesis.

Don’t worry, it’s unlikely. This didn’t happen last time.

Twilight nodded fervently. Final hypothesis?

Final hypothesis is that we are becoming a stronger vampony as time passes. If that’s true, I suspect we may be experiencing a growth spurt and eventually we won’t suffer such an extreme effect.

Conclusion?

Ruby zipped around their soul two more times before finally coming to a somewhat normal pace. Within moments Twilight too felt the unbridled energy dim, and she slowed her pace. That’s better, Ruby said with a tired breath. Should be easier to contain ourselves now. As for my conclusion, it’s a mixture of being deprived of blood along with us becoming a stronger vampony. Although, not dreading about it as much as you normally do might have had some effect.

Ruby recalled her memories of drinking, remembering her anticipation and eagerness in a way that made Twilight shudder. Whether or not the mindset affects the taste, I am never going to look at it like that.

Never’s a long time.

Twilight ignored the statement, directing her attention to slowing herself down. She found it much easier now to close her eyes for a moment and ignore everything that was around her. Taking in a deep breath, she exhaled and resumed a normal walking pace. From what you remember from drinking blood, this is a pretty big increase in energy. Would our growth as a vampony really be this quick?

I can’t say anything for certain. We are the first vampony alicorn. Who knows what will happen. If I had to guess I’d say we might find unexpected boosts in some categories, but we’ll still grow at a normal rate in others, if not slower. There’s simply no telling how we’ll turn out in a year, or even a hundred years.

Twilight let out a hum as she pondered the statement, but shortly smiled. At least we’ll be together to find out.

Yeah, at least we have that, Ruby replied happily, if not with some shyness.

“Twilight?” Rarity called out.

“Yes?” Twilight replied, but as she looked behind her it was apparent what Rarity was about to ask. While Rarity and herself appeared only slightly out of breath even while carrying her bag containing her rapiers, and Rainbow Dash looked like she could go another twenty miles without breaking a sweat, the rest of the guard were panting heavily as they took the pause in their trek with relief.

“Oh… Sorry.”

Rarity merely raised an eyebrow, but otherwise kept quiet as she turned to keep vigil while the guard caught their breath.

She hasn’t spoken much.

She’s probably trying to stay focused.

I can feel her resentment from here.

Yeah, me too, Twilight quietly replied. Despite Rarity’s composed posture, the subtle tension in her body did not escape Twilight. Even when Rarity met her gaze, Twilight could see the building fury behind her otherwise hollow eyes.

Twilight then craned her head upward, taking note of the sun's position between the thick foliage of the Everfree Forest. Midday was only a few hours away, and they had nearly arrived at the castle.

“Twenty minute break, and then we’ll continue again,” Twilight announced. “We aren’t too far away, so ready yourselves.” The guards nodded, and most took the opportunity to relax while some elected to stand sentry alongside Rarity.

Twilight herself also took the chance for a break, and she sat atop a thick root of a tree. She then closed her eyes and focused inward, aiding Ruby where she could as they both silently prepared themselves for what was to come.

They needed something to aid them in their fight against Night Walker. Something he didn’t have, or at least, wouldn’t expect from them. The problem was, however, nothing was coming to mind. But for once in her life, Twilight didn’t balk at such a notion. Instead, she focused her thoughts inward towards Ruby, and together, they focused on their singular goal.

The sensation was small, at first, and neither noticed it right away.

Whenever the bat ponies were in danger, Ruby was the one who became active and alive. Twilight would become all but invisible in such situations. The reverse was also true to some degree. Even when Twilight was on the inside, she would become stronger whenever her friends were threatened, allowing her the strength to override Ruby’s body from time to time with something as simple as a hoof stamp.

It was always their intense desire to protect their loved ones that drove them, and now, those desires aligned with each other. For the first time, Twilight and Ruby were truly matched both emotionally and mentally, and before they realized it, they had lost themselves in an overwhelming sensation.

Their thoughts were consumed by the emotion building within them, their passions feeding off each other as they each added more and more fuel to the fire. Whenever one of them would feel an inkling of doubt or fear from their singular goal, it would be smothered by the confidence the other exuded. Whenever one of them would feel a flash of strength and courage, it would be strengthened further on by the other.

With each breath they took as they sat in concentration, their feelings and thoughts spiraled about each other faster and tighter to the point that it was nearly dizzying. Within their sense of self-empowerment was a warning of danger, but they continued on regardless, driven by their matching desires.

The feedback loop they found themselves in suddenly sputtered and ground to a halt as a great uneasiness came over them, and clarity came back to Twilight as she reopened her eyes and turned her head toward the castle. Peering into the distance, she saw a bat hanging from beneath a branch, and when Twilight made eye contact with it, it unlatched itself and flew away.

Twilight’s eyes narrowed as she watched it disappear into the forest, and her wings bristled as she exposed her fangs.

He knows we’re coming.

We both knew this wasn’t going to be a full-on surprise attack.

What do you think he’s planning?

I don’t know, but whatever it is, it isn’t going to change the fact that we’re going to kill him.

No, it doesn’t.

Twilight looked in the bat’s direction one more time, and then closed her eyes again as the two of them fell into their burning goal once again.

This ends today.

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