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



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

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Act III - Chapter 53

“We’re here,” Twilight quietly announced.

Hidden within the thick foliage, Twilight peered across the gorge at the Castle of the Two Sisters. Though it had been some time since she had last visited, everything was as she remembered: gaping holes in the walls, moss-covered stone, and an ever-present thin layer of fog no matter the time of day. Despite her previous visits, the castle still held many mysteries for Twilight, and while some part of her was inclined to search for them, she shoved such thoughts aside. Instead, she refocused on her goal, turning her curious and admiring gaze of the castle into one of scrutiny and suspicion.

At first glance the castle appeared as abandoned as always, but upon closer inspection, and thanks to her improved eyesight, she could make out the faint tell-tale signs of occupation. Dead grass indicating that rubble had been moved, darker sections of brick where the moss and vines had been torn, and gaping holes that had been haphazardly covered by various objects.

A breeze passed, and as Twilight sniffed, her feathers bristled.

They’re in there...

Which means so is he.

They both shuddered, and Twilight found her heart beating faster at the thought. Their determination began to crack now that they were mere minutes away from meeting Night Walker face to face, and a twinkle of fear began to seep through their defenses.

It took only a moment for it to be sealed away, and they both breathed more easily as they calmed.

It’s not healthy locking it away like that, is it?

No, but it’s only for a little while.

We should be scared, shouldn’t we?

Yes, we should be.

Twilight briefly reflected on the notion of sealing one’s fear, noting how she felt disconnected, yet more aware of her surroundings. The world felt simpler in this state, and she wondered why they had not done this before.

Then, she remembered Rarity, and the fear came back with resounding force.

Twilight, it’s okay. Calm down, it’s okay. Twilight, listen to me!

Twilight took deep breaths as she dug her hooves into the ground, hanging on to Ruby’s words for support.

There we go, just take it easy. It’s going to be okay, Twilight. We aren’t going to end up like her. Keep breathing.

This… This is wrong, but…

I know, Twilight. I know...

A tear fell down Twilight’s eye as she took in one last breath, and then she exhaled, feeling disconnected from the world once again.

I’m just as worried about it as you are, Ruby said, her voice also more relaxed than before. We’re only doing this for a short time. I won’t let us end up anything like Rarity. This is about surviving. We can’t give into our fears while fighting him.

Then what do we give into?

Twilight’s chest twitched at the remaining emotion, one that they had unknowingly been kindling since they had entered the woods. But it was more apparent now, and while they didn’t reject it, they didn’t let it grow more than it already had.

Anger is an easy emotion, especially for a vampony about to fight. Ruby recalled how she fought Night Walker for her first bowl of blood, noting how easy it was to slip into a furious state. Some times it helps you through it, making you more aware of everything despite the fact you become so heated. Night Walker is probably counting on the fact that we’ll give into it so easily, but I don’t think we should seal it, not completely at least.

Twilight tensed her hooves.

No, I don’t either. It sounds silly, but I think I’d have a much harder time moving my hooves if it wasn’t for our anger, like it’s driving me forward.

All of this would be incredibly fascinating to study if we weren’t about to face our worst enemy.

No kidding.

After eyeing the castle one last time, Twilight retreated from her viewpoint and retreated back to her group. Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and the thirty members of the Royal Guard looked at Twilight expectantly, all of them now recovered from their trek and awaiting orders.

Twilight paused for a moment as she, again, registered that she was in fact in charge of them, and by all accounts, a leader in a military operation. Thus far her only experience with Equestria’s military had been with formal matters, either as Shining Armor’s sister or as a Princess for a ceremonial event. But now that she was standing alongside the guard, or rather, commanding them for a fight, it made her wonder just when it had been that she stopped feeling anxiety in leading.

Ruby chuckled at Twilight’s concern over the matter, and then urged Twilight to address the issue instead of wallowing in it.

“We’ll run through it one more time,” Twilight said.

Despite having memorized their orders, each pony perked their ears attentively.

“Night Walker and around two-hundred and fifty bat ponies are somewhere inside the castle. There are numerous elderly and children, so I’m estimating around one-hundred to one-hundred and fifty will actually be doing any fighting. As for how many of them are vamponies, there’s simply no way of telling.”

The guards’ expressions tightened, having been informed of Night Walker’s capabilities. The idea of one vampony was bad enough, but an unknown number was more than disconcerting.

“We’ll enter along the eastern wall once Ember Mane returns. Mist Hoof and the others will have already found positions on the inside, gathering what ponies they can to help us. When it starts, we all stick together, move quickly, and we hit Night Walker with everything we got. We can’t afford to let this fight draw out.”

Silver Shield stepped forward. “And if some of the bat ponies still intend to fight during, or afterward?”

Twilight didn’t reply at first, but with a deep breath, and a quick exchange with Ruby, she replied, “Our goal is to save as many lives as we can, but your lives are just as important. I can’t ask you to not protect yourselves.”

Silver Shield nodded, and stepped back.

“As for your roles,” Twilight continued. “Unicorns will focus on defensive spells, making sure we keep our distance from any vamponies that charge in. Earth ponies along the perimeter, and pegasi covering our top. There’s a good chance that we may be split up, if that happens, make your way to Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Silver Shield, or myself.”

“And when we do find Night Walker,” Rarity said. “It will be as a group, not alone, correct?”

Twilight nodded, understanding Rarity’s implication. “This is about saving Equestria, not just about us.”

Rarity eyed her, but seemingly accepted the answer.

Rainbow Dash smacked her hooves together. “This has been a long time coming. We’re gonna show him what happens when he messes with us.”

Twilight smirked at Rainbow Dash’s words, finding that she was in agreement, a notion that would have troubled her greatly a few months ago. “Let’s get ready, everypony,” Twilight said as she cocked her ears. A moment later she turned in Ember Mane’s direction just as he emerged from the forest.

“Everything is set to go,” he announced. “The hole is secured, and the others are gathering the supporters.”

“How many vamponies?” Rarity asked.

“Between twenty and thirty is our guess,” he replied. “Most of the ponies are scattered between the main rooms and the lower dungeons.”

“Best we could have asked for, I suppose. Where’s Night Walker?”

“Ebon Wing confirmed that he was in the throne room.”

“Well then, shall we get started?” Rarity asked.

Twilight nodded, and with a wave of her hoof, they began to fall in line as Ember Mane guided them to their entry point. And as they stealthily wove their way to the castle, keeping away from potentially prying eyes, Twilight’s thoughts shifted onto her environment. The faint hoof steps around her, the light rustling of bushes, and the rising urge in her throat even though she was sated. Twilight and Ruby were fully aware of the consequences of what could happen today, of the ponies that might die due to their orders, and while that notion sent Twilight’s stomach for a roll, she could not help but trot a bit quicker in excitement.

And for once, she didn’t question that excitement.

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

After traversing a wide path around the castle, Ember Mane stopped the group at the edge of the forest. They were on the other side of the gorge now thanks to crossing deadfall that was out of sight from the walls. Now all that remained was a short stretch of open grass between them and an unusually large hole in the castle walls. The fog was thicker along the ramparts, capable of shrouding any pony watching this section of the wall, and so the group waited with tension.

Twilight pressed her hooves into the ground as she waited, caught between the sensation of bursting energy and steady patience. The simple joy of stalking a target, of preparing oneself for attack, was hard to ignore. But it did not overwhelm her, and with Ruby’s assistance, she steadied herself.

Time seemed to stretch as they waited in silence, their eyes locked onto the looming walls that became more foreboding by the minute. Worry began to set in as they watched, and when they did finally spy movement from the hole in the wall, their breath caught. A head popped out, Willow Shade or Cloud Shadow, Twilight wasn’t certain, but whoever it was looked directly at their hiding place and motioned them forward.

“Follow the left wall when you get inside,” Ember Mane whispered before darting forward. Twilight and Rarity were on his heels immediately, with the guards and Rainbow Dash only a few steps behind them. They reached the wall in a few short but heart-pounding moments, and they quickly found themselves within the dark castle where Willow Shade greeted them. As directed, they turned left and continued their movement through a darkened hallway, trusting Ember Mane to guide them deeper into the castle.

Their hooves echoed in the hall, and far too loudly for Twilight’s taste. Her confidence in their surprise was changing into urgency at the concern of somepony hearing them, but she grit her teeth as she dismissed the worry as best as she could.

Stick together. We can’t get separated. Trust them, she whispered to herself, and Ruby aided her by stifling the concern.

We can do this. Stick to the plan. Move swiftly.

Attack at the right moment, overwhelm him with numbers and don’t give him a chance to react.

Charge him from the side, use magic to hold his movements.

Evade his shadows, don’t let him grab a hold, stay on top.

Go for the throat, the first available weak spot.

Don’t let up, keep attacking. Kill him.

Kill him.

Kill hi-

Twilight, along with the rest of the group, skidded to a halt in the hallway, having nearly collided with a bat pony who had unknowingly turned the corner onto their path. Gasps were heard alongside the sound of magic beginning to twinkle, but before anypony could act, Twilight whispered in surprise, “Lily Wing!”

Lily Wing flinched at her name being called, bringing her out of her shock from seeing Twilight and her entourage standing before her. “Ruby?”

Twilight smiled in reply, but that smile quickly faded when Twilight took notice of Lily Wing’s red eyes, and a note of trepidation entered her voice. “Lily Wing, listen to me.”

Lily Wing’s face went from shock into guarded suspicion, and she crouched low as she revealed her new fangs. “No, it’s Twilight, isn’t it?” Lily Wing remarked.

At once Rarity had her three rapiers out and pointing at Lily Wing, with the rest of the guard shuffling into an attack stance as well.

Alarm shot through Twilight’s body as Ruby thrashed about, screaming at Twilight to stop them. But before she could, Lily Wing asked with a sharp voice, “Where’s Lunar Pearl?”

“Lunar Pearl?” Twilight mumbled in surprise.

“Lunar Pearl!” Lily Wing replied as her voice rose. “Where is she? I know she went after you!”

“She’s safe!” Twilight said, all while making hushing motions with her hooves. “Please, just let me-”

“Tell me where she is right now, or I let everypony know you're here,” Lily Wing whispered. Her eyes narrowed and her muscles visibly tensed.

“Dusktown,” Rarity quickly said. Lily Wing glared at her, appearing offended that she was even there. “She’s at Dusktown.”

“If she isn’t,” Lily Wing threatened.

“She’s there,” Twilight said, stepping between Rarity and Lily Wing. She was slow with her movements, ensuring that she didn’t do anything to startle Lily Wing. “I promise she’s there. She’s safe. But right now, we could really use your help.”

“To take down Night Walker?” Lily Wing asked, briefly breaking eye contact with Twilight to glance over the apprehensive guards.

“Yes, that’s exactly why we’re here.” Twilight dared a step closer, and spoke softly, “He has to be stopped, Lily Wing. You know that, don’t you?”

Lily Wing took a step back. Her wings were flared open, ready to take flight at a moment’s notice, and her look of suspicions had yet to change.

Twilight heard the guards shift behind her, and she raised a wing in command to stop their movement. She didn’t look away from Lily Wing as she did, and Twilight dared another step towards her. “Lily Wing, I don’t know how the vampirism is for you, but you have to trust me. We just want to stop Night Walker for everyone's sake, including Lunar Pearl’s.”

At the mention of her sister’s name, Lily Wing’s eyes narrowed, and she stood up from her crouched position. “I don’t care who it is that helps us, Twilight. I only care about my sister.” And with that, Lily Wing strode forward and past Twilight.

At Twilight’s order, no pony blocked Lily Wing’s path. Within moments, she had passed the group, making her way to the exit with haste. After she had rounded a corner, Twilight stared at the spot Lily Wing disappeared from, and a sense of sadness came over her.

“So… We’re just gonna ignore that happened?” Rainbow Dash asked.

... Let’s go…

Nodding to herself, Twilight turned forward without a word, and they continued their march. She buried the worries that came from running into Lily Wing.

There was only one thing she and Ruby had to focus on, and any distraction at this point could prove fatal.

After a series of winding corridors, they soon found themselves in a wide dining room. Awaiting them was Mist Hoof, Cloud Shadow, Ebon Wing, and some fifty odd bat ponies. Twilight now recognized where she was in the castle, and so she confidently strode forward.

“Mist Hoof!” Twilight said as loud as she dared.

“Twilight,” he replied, and he quickly went to meet her. “Night Walker is in the throne room just ahead. So far he doesn’t suspect anything.”

“Good. Hopefully it’ll stay that way until we’re on top of him. Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and I will be the ones to stop him. The guard will support us and attack where they can but will mostly provide cover against the vamponies that attack, and the rest of you are meant to keep the other bat ponies from interfering.” Twilight looked past him and at the bat ponies. They were whispering fervently to each other as they glanced between Twilight and the guards. “Are you sure you all will be okay?” Twilight asked, directing her voice to them.


“We can handle ourselves,” one replied. “The sooner we finish this the sooner we can move on.”

“The rear’s clear,” Willow Shade announced as she came up from behind. “Aside from Lily Wing who took off, no pony has noticed you.”

“Lily Wing?” Mist Hoof asked.

“Later,” Twilight said. “Right now let’s focus on the main goal. Is everypony ready?”

Everyone stood tall as they looked back at her, each affirming in their own way their preparation whether through a snort or flexed wings.

Twilight’s breath caught at the sight of so many ponies looking at her with such hardened expressions. “Good, get ready.”

Twilight moved towards a closed door, placing her hoof on the handle as she gave one last look to all the ponies behind her. After that last sweeping glance, Twilight pulled on the handle and threw open the door.

Two rooms were all that stood between her and Night Walker, and she could hardly contain herself. Even as she burst into the main hallway where some bat ponies laid scattered about in rest, she only quickened her pace and ignored the startled cries of alarm. She briefly took note of their look of surprise at her and the mixed group at her heels. To her relief, none of them showed any sign of stopping Twilight, and so she kept her pace.

She and the group galloped into the next room, and there at the other end of it stood the tall, closed throne room doors. By now the castle was filled with shouts of surprise and screams, and this time, some bat ponies reacted. Up ahead of Twilight three vamponies snarled at her and the advancing group before they charged forward to intercept. Twilight flared her horn, and in one sweeping motion of her head, magically threw the three vamponies aside and into the castle wall. She winced at the thud they made, but she continued on, reassuring herself they were tough enough to recover from such a hit.

The throne room doors were only a few feet away now, and Twilight’s eyes narrowed as she magically grabbed the handles. “Get ready!” she shouted, revealing her fangs as she charged forward, readying her pool of magic to unleash a spell the moment she set sights on Night Walker.

Then, she threw open the doors, and a wave of shadows washed over them from within the throne room.

The group skidded to a halt as their vision was engulfed, to the point that they couldn’t even see their snouts. Panic erupted between them, and their organized formation quickly fell into a huddled mass. The unicorns lit their horns as brightly as they could, finding in dismay that they were only able to reveal a few feet around themselves. Without being able to see what was above them, Rainbow Dash and the other pegasi landed and warily peered about. Hooves stepped on other hooves as they all glanced wildly about the suffocating darkness, all while shouting out their ranks and whatever they could see.

Rarity, however, remained calm at the front, and kept her light low, only using enough to hold onto her rapiers. Her ears pricked at each noise she could make out in the commotion, carefully balancing on the tips of her hooves in preparation to react.

There was nothing except the smothering darkness, and even after the group began to quiet down, there was no sign of it fading away.

Rarity exhaled as she focused her senses outward, taking in as much information as she could both physically and magically, and she found what she sought. Gripping onto one of the rapiers with all her might, she thrust it forward through the darkness some twenty-feet ahead of her, and although the sound of metal piercing stone was all she heard, the darkness began to clear. Cries of relief came as everypony could see again, while some remained quiet as they watched the shadows meld back into their proper places. Rarity, however, kept her unblinking eyes forward until she could finally make out her target’s form.

He had dodge her rapier by the smallest of margins, and was now looking at her with a passive gaze. “That was a good throw,” Shade Flare stated.

Rarity quickly pulled her rapier back, and then drew her weapons about her, slowly moving them in methodical patterns. When the darkness had completely vanished, she briefly glanced at her surroundings before refocusing back on Shade Flare.

“Where’s Twilight?” she asked, and it was only then that the others realized that she was gone.

“What’d you do with her?” Rainbow Dash followed up, her feathers bristling.

“She’s with Night Walker,” Shade Flare replied with a dismissive tone. “We’re to wait here until they settle things.”

“Pff, like that’s gonna happen,” Rainbow Dash remarked. “Catch up when you can, Rares.” Rainbow Dash then flapped her wings, and propelled herself towards the nearest hole in the ceiling. Her escape, however, was quickly cut off when three bat ponies appeared at the hole’s entrance, and each of them glared at Rainbow Dash with piercing red eyes.

“Oh for the love of-” Rainbow Dash said, as she pumped her wings faster in order to barrel through.

Meanwhile, Rarity hadn’t taken her eyes off Shade Flare. “You seem to be under the impression that we’ll accept standing idly by,” she said. “Or that you’ll be able to actually stop us from assisting Twilight.”

“Both, if you have to know,” Shade Flare responded. Raising his hoof, tendrils of shadow began to stretch from the nearby nooks and cracks, and they slowly began to converge towards Rarity. “Regardless of the method, my only goal is to keep you all here.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint,” Rarity replied. “But I can’t afford to spend time here with you. Then again, if you insist, perhaps I can take some of this pent up anger out on you!” Rarity’s eyes snapped wide as a furious expression came across her face, and with a three pronged attack, she charged Shade Flade.

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

Twilight found herself coughing at the sudden lurch she felt as the shadows overtook her, and she blindly waved a hoof in front of her. She was surrounded by an unnatural black, unable to see even a few feet ahead of her despite how much light she created with her horn. But her confusion quickly faded, and she assumed a low position. Her ears were on edge as she listened intently, and she shortly realized just how quiet it was. No shouting, no galloping; it was entirely too quiet.

The darkness swirled around her, and she waited as her heart pounded in her chest. Seconds ticked by one after another as anxiety began to grow within Twilight.

Ruby! Soul Sight, now!

Not bothering to close her eyes, Twilight kept her senses tuned as her eyes began to glow white. It was disorienting having Ruby use Soul Sight while Twilight tried to focus on their surroundings, but it was not in vain, and the soul they sought appeared before them in the darkness.

Despite them seeing it just for a moment, something within Twilight and Ruby snapped, and Twilight found herself screaming as she shot a magical beam in its direction. Her spell cut through the darkness and crashed into a stone wall, grinding against it with such force that the stone buckled and cracked before the spell twinkled out.

“Well, well…”, a voice called out as the darkness began to recede.

Twilight’s neck hairs rose at the sound, and she found herself already firing another spell in its direction before she could think.

This time she saw him dodge it, and as the shadows finally faded, her eyes locked onto Night Walker’s. There he was, across from them, and it was then Twilight realized she was in an entirely different part of the castle. She was in one of the many great halls with pillars and looming archways, and without another pony in sight.

“If it isn’t Princess Twilight, and if I’m not mistaken, Princess Ruby as well.” He eyed them over with a smile, looking at them more in fascination than actually concern. “What a surprise.”

“Night Walker,” Twilight growled.

“I must say, this has been one of the most—”

Twilight didn’t give him a chance to finish before she fired another beam while bolting directly at him despite the ease with which he dodged.

With a furious scream that matched the one Ruby shouted internally, Twilight magically grabbed ahold of Night Walker and flung him towards her, slamming her hoof into his jaw with all her might. His head whipped from the impact, sending a stream of blood gushing from his mouth. Without pause, Twilight reaffixed her magical grasp on him, and then slammed his body into a nearby pillar, cracking the stone.

At the impact, Night Walker slumped over, motionless. Twilight glared at him with wild eyes, breathing heavily while fangs gleamed.

Any chance of remaining calm or collected while they were in front of Night Walker had been thrown aside in one heated and irrational moment. It was like a switch had been flicked, one that accessed a reservoir of negative emotions both Twilight and Ruby had built for Night Walker these past few weeks. There were no thoughts between them as a fire rose up in their souls, building back and forth, spurring each other to greater heights. Their already deadly vampony instincts were fueled by that anger, causing them to move with more zeal with each action.

When Night Walker let out a groan, Twilight’s body immediately reacted. She darted towards him and opened her jaw as wide as she could, zeroing in on his throat. But just before she latched onto him, Night Walker shot his leg forward, connecting squarely with Twilight’s chest.

Twilight’s eyes went wide as the air left her lungs, and she was sent flying across the stone floor.

Twilight!

Twilight clutched at her chest as she gasped for air, hardly registering Ruby.

“I suppose you think you can beat me easily, especially considering you won most of our fights,” Night Walker called out, already back on his hooves as he brushed off some dust. “Motivation must be encouraged when bettering a pony, even if one must sacrifice their pride in doing so. Even when you drank blood for the first time, I was more concerned with your growth rather than an easy victory.”

Twilight wheezed as she propped herself up with a leg, finding that they were shaking too much to fully stand upon.

“A broken bone doesn’t impede you as it would most, but it still hurts, doesn’t it?” Night Walker asked. His posture then straightened as his back contorted with a series of cracks. “Though, I don’t suppose I ever taught you how to heal yourself quickly. Even if I had, how much blood did you come here with? One pony? Two? Five?”

“Night… Walker…” Twilight hissed, and her feathers began to bristle.

Twilight’s breathing was quickening, and despite her vampony senses, her vision was narrowing. Even Ruby’s normally expansive awareness was focusing along with her. Their essence began to move around each other in a rhythmic fashion, pulsing in such a way that their energies started to align and resonate.

Night Walker smiled. “That’s quite a look for you, Twilight. Such a predatory manner. It almost matches the expression I envisioned you wearing when I turned you into a vampony.”

“Night…. Walker…”, Twilight said with more strength. As she regained her balance, she stamped her hoof on the ground, cracking the stone as her horn began to flare out of her control, and Night Walker’s smile fell. He then quickly summoned his soul sight, turning his red eyes white, and he furrowed his brow at what he saw.

“Night Walker…” Twilight hatefully said again, her eyes glowing white, and as she lifted her hoof, a gentle breeze began to stir within the great hall.

Had Night Walker been a heartbeat later in dismissing his Soul Sight, he wouldn’t have had time to block Twilight’s attack. With a burst of speed, she had crossed the distance between them with two steps, and was now pushing him back as her hooves delivered blow after blow.

Night Walker roared in return, and after blocking Twilight’s next attack, he countered with his own, catching her in the side. But the blow did not send her flying as he expected, and he snarled at Twilight’s hot gaze upon him. Despite her attacks on him, her eyes remained white, and she hissed at him between her exposed fangs.

The wind continued to rise around them, now blowing so much that Twilight’s mane and tail were beginning to lift up, and she continued her assault.

She screamed, hissed and snapped, trading blow for blow with him as she pushed him further down the hall. Even when Night Walker managed to strike her, she continued on, never yielding an inch of ground as her voice and the wind continued to rise.

A noticeable tension filled the space around them, the unmistakable sensation of magic becoming thick in the air, accompanied by a low hum that caused a physical vibration across their skin.

Night Walker cursed as he waved his hoof, causing shadows to form between him and Twilight. His magical shield managed to stop Twilight’s hoof in place, and he took the momentary break to leap away from her.

Twilight did not pursue him. Instead, she continued to glare at him with her piercing white eyes as her mane and tail freely flowed upwards, and she was then lifted into the air. As the magic grew around her, her chest felt like it was being electrocuted. The waves of energy bouncing back and forth between her and Ruby were reaching an irrepressible point, but they continued on, moving more on instinct than conscious thought.

Somewhere in the back of Twilight’s mind, she was aware of how similar this sensation was to when she used the Elements of Harmony, but instead of feeling connected to six ponies, she felt only Ruby.

The magic was reaching its peak, and a sudden bright light emanating from Twilight filled the great hall. Night Walker used what few shadows he could to cover himself, appearing as nothing more than a dark spot before an increasingly incandescent white light. Then, for only a moment, there was an eerie pause of silence as the wind and magic ceased.

And then that moment ended. A torrent of blazing light and barely controlled magic ripped through the air directly into Night Walker.

The stone at the impact location buckled from the sheer magical force, turning to dust in the maelstrom of energies. The wooden beams high above split from the explosive effects, and the sound of highly condensed magic rang throughout the hall as it obliterated the center of the room. Coupled with the spell’s deafening noise, Twilight’s scream could be heard.

And as quickly as it had begun, the storm ceased, and Twilight fell to the ground.

There was a pain unlike anything Twilight had ever felt deep within her, even worse than the time she had shredded her and Ruby’s souls. It felt like a pony had pressed a white hot brand into her chest, and her mind dulled as her body jerked about. Ruby shared the pain, and together they shrieked and moaned together as Twilight clutched her chest.

It was so much that Twilight’s vision would fade to white for moments at a time, blocking her sight as the tears fell down her cheeks.

They did not know how much time passed during their agony, but eventually, the pain began to lessen, leaving them struggling to pull themselves back into some semblance of sense and order. But even as they could begin to form rational thoughts, a sound caught their attention, and dread filled them.

It was a weak laugh, one that came out between fits of coughing.

Twilight grit her teeth as she turned her head in its direction, squinting her eyes through the tears and pain to see a figure standing a short distance away.

Even with her blurry vision she could see that despite his laughter, Night Walker had not escaped the magic unscathed.

Numerous sections of his coat had been seared, more than what a regular pony could live through. Although he was standing, not all of his limbs were braced in the right direction, and one had even bent in multiple places. But despite his injuries and awful look, he wore a fanatical grin. Even as he coughed up blood, his teeth shone from his smile.

“Well... done,” Night Walker said. “That... my princesses, was truly spectacular.”

Twilight’s mouth opened and closed in a dumbfounded expression, unable to move her limp body.

“What’s with that look? You should feel exhilarated, proud even! Don’t you understand what you just did?”

Twilight’s gaze didn’t change.

“I see,” he replied. He then sat himself down and stretched his foreleg, popping the joint back into its socket before bending the arm back into its proper direction. “I don’t suppose you would be able to comprehend much after that. But to put it simply, you just performed something that’s never been done before.” He snarled as a foreleg snapped together, and he tentatively gave it a flex before giving her a sly grin. “A Soul Resonance with only one soul. Although, I guess you don’t really have just one soul anymore, do you?”

Twilight let out a weak noise.

“Ah ah ah, don’t strain yourself,” Night Walker replied. “What you just did was very dangerous, and rather poorly done if I must say. You damaged yourself far more than you did me.” After flexing his foreleg again, he turned his focus onto his other wounds, and his black coat began to reappear across his charred skin.

“You see, broken bones and burned flesh heal much more easily than a cracked soul. Still, I should be lucky that’s all I suffered despite your lack of control. I dare say if you attempt something like that again as carelessly as you did, you’d risk tearing yourself apart entirely.”

“Buh… Ugh…” Twilight replied, now finally being able to move her hooves as she tried to support herself with them.

“You know, if you weren’t an alicorn, I’d say you would have killed yourself back there,” Night Walker mused. “How fascinating your resilience is.”

“I’m not… Done…”, Twilight mumbled as she began to lift herself.

“Oh, but I think you are,” Night Walker said. Flinching as he straightened himself, he walked over to Twilight and kicked her hooves out from beneath her. “You are done. You’ve failed.”

He looked down on her as she groaned in pain, and he let out a ‘tsk’ as she attempted to lift herself up again. With a growl he latched his jaw onto Twilight’s back leg and threw her across the room, licking the blood from his lips with a smile. “Don’t you understand, Twilight? You’re done, and now, there’s nothing left to stop me.”

“No,” Twilight weakly replied, struggling to get herself up.

“More ponies are going to die now. Because you weren’t up to the task to stop me.” Watching her closely as she rose, Night Walker began to circle her. “Because neither you or Ruby were capable of being a Princess. You two can’t protect anything.”

Halfway up, Twilight grit her teeth as she locked eyes with him, meekly raising a wing between her and him as a poor excuse for a shield.

“You came here with such a small force, without the aid of the Royal Sisters, and without a plan. Did you really think that this was enough? For me, you thought this was enough!” Night Walker shouted. “You’re naive, Princess Twilight and Ruby. And because of that naivety, ponies will die. You two will die.”

Twilight stumbled onto all four hooves, barring her teeth as she prepared to defend herself, but Night Walker merely gave her a dismissive glance, and turned away. “Though, you won’t have the luxury of dying first, that I can assure you. That’s the price for disappointing me so much.”

“W-Where are you going?” Twilight cried out, wincing at the pain that was thankfully beginning to dull.

“Ponyville,” Night Walker replied. “Perhaps you will have a little more motivation if I pay it a visit.”

Twilight snarled in response, and she flared her horn. At once the wind began to pick up and her eyes became white once again, but before the energy could cascade further, the wind died down, and Twilight’s eyes returned to their red color.

“Hoo?” Night Walker said with interest as he turned around to face her. “Collecting yourself are we?”

Twilight breathed heavily as she stared at him, finding enough strength in her legs to manage standing.

We… We can’t do that again, Ruby exclaimed with a pained voice.

I know! Twilight screamed. She didn’t tear her eyes away from Night Walker even as tears flowed down her cheeks. But we have to stop him! We can’t let him hurt anypony else!

“It’s a powerful trick, I’ll admit it,” Night Walker said as he squared his body to Twilight. “But it isn’t enough on it’s own, not while it’s that unstable.” His grin spread wider, and he stepped towards them. “Just how are you going to stop me then, Twilight? Ruby? How!?”

Twilight glared at him, and she took a shaky step towards him, and then another, this time with more strength.

Night Walker whipped his head as his voice rose in volume. “Just how in Equestria do you think you’re going to win this? How much longer should I toy with you before I end you and everything you’ve known and loved?”

Twilight screamed as she fell into a charging pace, and Night Walker sprinted to meet her.

“Come on, Princess!” he shouted as he landed a hoof directly in her face. “Show me!”

Twilight was knocked back from the blow, but she still stood. Even though her body burned from her injuries, she stood.

Keep going! I’ll do what I can to lessen the pain!

With a shriek, Twilight resumed her charge, and she flared her horn.

Night Walker laughed in response, summoning shadows with frightening speed to block Twilight’s vision of him so she could not magically grab ahold of him.

Her eyes flickered with a white light. To the left!

Twilight kicked forward, shooting her body through the shadows on the left side, and finding Night Walker directly in front of her. She snapped at him with her maw, missing his neck by inches as he reflexively dodged her.

Keep him moving!

Twilight swept low with her hooves, causing Night Walker to jump away, and in the time that it took for his body to fall back to the ground, Twilight was already at his face again.

Dodge right!

Twilight twisted her body, narrowly avoiding a stretch of shadow that had shot out from below her. Night Walker took that moment to continue running backwards, and Twilight pursued the moment she regained her balance.

Night Walker’s grin seemed to only grow. “Today is just full of wonderful surprises, isn’t it?”

Twilight’s eyes were now completely white, but although Ruby’s eyes were focused on Night Walker’s soul, Twilight was focused on his body.

“Let’s see how far you can go!” he shouted in excitement.

Night Walker pushed himself towards Twilight with his back legs, and the two of them began to trade blows again. Twilight let out a cry of pain each time Night Walker landed a hit, drawing out the pain Ruby had dulled, but she continued on. Ruby strained herself to ease what pain she could, all while detecting the faintest signs of action with Night Walker’s soul. Whenever a fiber began to pulse, whenever a muscle began to flex, it was all information for Twilight and Ruby to use, anything that could hint at what Night Walker’s next move might be. Steadily Twilight and Ruby fought on, and they began to find their pace.

Night Walker shot another stretch of shadow, and Twilight’s body twirled at once to avoid it’s touch, and she landed a hoof on Night Walker’s face with her spinning momentum.

Keep moving!

Duck low!

Avoid the left!

Hit him now!

Harder! Harder! He’s attacking now!

Keep going! Hold it together! We can do this!

We can do this!

We can kill him!

Kill him!

Kill him!

Twilight let loose a primal scream, and she lept into the air with her open wings. With her magic, she reached high above herself and grabbed a hold of a loose section of wood six feet in length, tearing it from the support beams.

Night Walker paused as he looked up at her, and let out a wild laugh at her plan. At once shadows rose up from beneath him and towards Twilight, enshrouding him from Twilight’s sight, but not from Ruby's.

Together they were already running through their minds what his next move might be, what direction he might move in and how they would counter, as they dove down at him and the stretching shadows with their makeshift spear zipping in tow.

Keep him on the defensive!

Don’t let up!

Twilight’s wing jerked, a sign that their body was quickly approaching its limit.

No matter what happens!

We are ending this!

With shout, Twilight whipped her head downward, sending the splintered wooden beam shooting downward with such force that it pierced even the stone. The foundation rumbled from the impact, and after a few tense moments, the shadows began to fade.

Twilight landed on her hooves, breathing heavily as she looked towards the shadows with wide eyes. “Why…”, she asked.

The pain could no longer be suppressed, and Twilight’s legs began to shake beneath her.

“Why....”, she asked again, tightening her facial expressions as the pain caught up to her and tears began to fall.

A harsh laugh was heard from within the shadows, and the soul sight faded from Twilight’s eyes as they became red again.

“Why didn’t you dodge it!?” she screamed.

The shadows faded back into their respective places, revealing Night Walker’s impaled body. The wooden beam had pierced his chest at such an angle that he would have had to lean back and willingly let it hit him. But Twilight did not trust her sight, and she readied herself for another go.

“Come on!” she screamed at him. “I’m not going to fall for a stupid trick like that! Come on!”

With the wood blocking his view, Night Walker tilted his head to look at her, and he gave her a pained smile, and blood fell from his lips.

Ruby!

Already on it!

It took effort, but Ruby resummoned the soul sight, and together they stared apprehensively in Night Walker’s direction, ready to move should he have appeared somewhere else away from the obviously fake pony copy of himself.

But his soul was where his body was, and a gasp escaped Twilight.

“Why…” Twilight asked quietly.

Night Walker chuckled, though the act of doing so appeared to take a toll on him as he wheezed with pained breaths. “You finally… showed it… That expression I’ve been waiting for…”

His smile vanished as his body jerked, and blood erupted from his mouth.

Twilight stood in shock, slowly shaking her head side to side as the soul sight left her eyes again. “This is a trick, it has to be,” she whispered.

Night Walker’s breathing had become ragged, and he spoke with a tired voice, “No… Trick… At least, not the one you expect.”

“Why then?” Twilight asked, and despite the pain to do so, she marched towards him as her voice rose. “Why did you do all of this then!? What’s your plan? Why did you do any of this?”

She stopped on his right side, and slammed a hoof onto a portion of his chest that wasn’t occupied by wood. “Tell me! Why!?”

Night Walker grit his teeth from the pain, and for a moment, he looked as if he was about to scream in agony. But slowly, his pained expression lessened, and his smile returned.

Twilight blinked in disbelief, and then her expression tightened as she bared his fangs. Without another word, Ruby resummoned her soul sight, and they delved deep into Night Walker’s soul, searching for something, anything that would answer their questions.

What Twilight and Ruby saw, was a dying soul.

The normally active and glowing fibers began to dim one by one, starting with the outer layers while slowly working inwards. To Twilight and Ruby’s surprise, when some sections did become entirely dark, they simply peeled away.

False personas, forced connections, everything that was artificial that Night Walker had created lost its place and fell away from his soul, fading into nothingness as the white light of his being grew weaker. As all the lights began to go out, Twilight was dimly aware of her tears.

Her ears twitched at the sound of Night Walker’s breathing becoming slower, his heartbeat becoming quieter. Everytime he exhaled, another layer of his soul became dark, and his soul as a whole became smaller. Then, Twilight and Ruby finally took notice of movement within the surrounding darkness, and they recognized the black shadows that they had only glimpsed before. As the lights became dimmer, the moving darkness began to grasp what it could, nearly smothering what little Night Walker had left.

It looked so small now, so vulnerable and afraid as the shadows descended upon the last flickering light. It didn’t resemble the soul of stallion, especially one that had committed so many heinous acts. Those marks were there, of course, but the rest seemed off. It was only when the tiny soul pulsed and flashed in panic at the coming darkness that it dawned on Twilight and Ruby what the soul resembled.

It was like that of a child.

Unable to take a moment more, they ended the soul sight, and they saw Night Walker’s face staring back at them with an expression they had never seen him make before; one that they never imagined he could make. He was terrified, confused even, and he weakly extended a hoof towards Twilight. Pawing in her direction, he gave her a pleading expression, all while moving his mouth. But the only sound to escape his lips were faint gasps for air, and soon, his struggles lessened, and he became still.

Twilight stood frozen at the sight, and before she or Ruby could act, they found they could no longer hold back the toll of their battle, and Twilight collapsed.

Author's Note:

A story is done,
The final page has turned.
Two ponies faced the Night,
But soon, Blue will burn.

After the epilogue is posted, be ready to follow onto Book Two.

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