• 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 I - Chapter 6

He approached me one night,

Within the cobble streets of our town,

I thought him a lost stranger,

But he was more I soon found.

History and secrets he spoke of,

Things that I had not known,

He promised me salvation and power,

For in each of us, his blood was sewn.

What lies did the Princesses tell us?



“This is really becoming too easy,” Trail spoke aloud. He sat back against his cushioned work chair, idly whisking about a red liquid within his wine glass. He held it at a hoofs distance in front of him, directly in the path of the dimming sunlight that shone through the large office window. With him in the shadows, and the glass held out in the light, he pondered over the way the light shined on its glossy surface as it was sloshed about the glass, casting shimmers like of a body of water.

“How good it is to enjoy moments like these. It’s a pity I didn’t appreciate the simple things such as this. Or the moon crossing a barren tundra, a feather of a bird suddenly appearing, or the sight of a lone balloon making its way up into the never ending sky. Truly, life is full of wonderful little moments, and only the wise are aware of it.”

Trail brought the glass to his lips, and sipped it’s contents, enjoying each drops flavor as it slide down his throat. With a satisfied hum, he returned the observing the glass in the fading sunlight. “Or maybe one just needs to be locked in a box for a thousand years.”

He chuckled at the memory of his imprisonment. “Even that seems like a distant memory now...”

The sun’s color was beginning to bring a fiery red to the room, casting a dull glow onto the carpets and wooden floor. The light’s beams were fully visible as they cut across the air, showing the stark difference of what the light touched, and what remained in the darkening shadows. It reminded him of a scene he had once seen during a sunset in a forgotten monastery so long ago. The imposing and awe inspiring sight of monolithic columns that looked to reach to the clouds themselves in height, shouldering a wide expanse of roof and ceiling decorated in the finest details. A scene that could not be fully expressed in mere words on how it would capture the eyes and soul of a viewer, lost in awe of such a grandiose and beautiful sight. Something that could only be understood when witnessed.

“But such sights do not exist now,” he said with a grimace. The thought of the things that were now lost in history forever, fated to be buried within the sands of time, bothered him greatly. Now the only thing that was left, were simple things like a red glass sparkling in a setting sun. Though lacking in palatial and moving form, it was still something beautiful to consider.

He briefly pondered the deeper meanings of the scene. The red glass lit up by the sunlight, representing todays age that was full of life and light. Under Celestia’s rule, the ponies of Equestria truly had shifted to a time of relative peace and splendor. There were no famines, no wars, no monstrous acts of cruel ponies. There was only simple pleasure, sunlight, and life.

While in turn, Trail sat in the shadows of the room, inches away from the beams. He was from a time before such happiness was prevalent. And he remained in it, destined to be swept away with the rising sun and tossed aside like a bad dream. He knew very well that he did not belong in this new world, and was constantly reminded of it each and everyday. From how the ponies acted, down to the very furniture he owned. Everything reminded him that he was a part of history and separate. A creature that was willed by powers that overcame him to never exist or be repeated again.

But I will not be forgotten…

Trail narrowed his eyes as the last rays of sunlight began to dim further, the sun approaching its final descent.

I will not fade away into history like an old mare’s tale, I will not yield to such demands, he thought darkly. I will not be swept away by this world, nor will I squeeze into its fabric and design. I, one of the Four Shepard’s of Darkness, The Night Walker, Soul Poisoner, will stand and make my mark in this age.

Trail’s face turned to a scowl after his vow, fully determined to reach whatever means necessary to carry it out. But after a moment of quiet anger and focus, he let go of the feelings and relaxed back into the chair. The brief respite of internally fighting the world brought forth the memory of one of the poems that had been sung during his time. Lifting his head, he stared out through the window.

“Day Light, Moonlight,

Turn to shadows sight,

Pass on in silent grievings,

Fade fast to the walkers might.


Traveling by wood,

By mountain and snow,

Fear his reaching grasp,

For his domain he has sowed.


Fear the Beast, his rage mighty,

Fear the King, his magic corrupting,

Fear the Dead, her touch chilling,

But least not forget, the Shadow alluring.


Do not tempt The Night Walker so,

Least you feel his fangs beckon,

With your life, blood will flow,

And sate the soul you so foolishly reckoned.”

Swirling the glass again, he chuckled. “Not the most eloquent pieces written in homage, but always a favorite while enjoying a drink.”

The last rays of sunlight were vanishing slowly beyond the horizon, masking the room in growing shadows as that chased the remaining slivers of light. Trail lifted the glass into the last beam, watching as the golden glows of light fade, turning the reflective liquid surface into a dark color.

“May this world see its last sun, and be brought back into the shadows of truth and reality, as cold and hard as they might be. Or let the shadow forever leave his mark, never to be forgotten...”

With said prayer, Trail brought the glass towards his mouth. Tipping his head back, he drank the red liquid with a single gulp, and happily sighed as his tongue licked the edges of his mouth, savoring the few remnants of the taste. Inside, he felt the internal pulls and yanks of fabricated forces settle down, and yield back into submission once again. A wide grin spread across his face as he set the glass back down onto the table, simultaneously with the last of the sunlight fading completely into the night.

“But still…” Trail repeated after a moment. “This is really all too easy.” He leaned forward and brought both his hoofs under his chin as his mind worked over the progress he had made during his time in Ponyville. He had built a decent client pool amongst the town’s residents, making him more familiar and earning the trust of practically every pony. He had access to as much blood as he needed, easily obtained by the multitude of post hypnotic suggestions augmented by his magic. It would be easy to summon anypony for a quick drink if he so desired.

In addition, he had already befriended Twilight Sparkle, Alicorn Princess and Element of Magic within the first week of his arrival. Since then, he had spent almost every other day with her either talking about some item of his, or in discussion of today’s theories on magic. He had to study quite a bit to become knowledgeable enough to remain somewhat even hoofed with the mare given how much things had changed over a thousand years, but anything was worth the effort for the rewards that would come. It was even worth the trouble of spending time out in the sunlight to keep up appearances, but only after a quick sip of the alicorn’s or others blood to fuel the spell.

Thankfully she didn’t give a second thought as to why Trail requested to meet with her primarily in the evening and inside most of the time. A simple explanation of him being busy during the day with clients was enough to cease any suspicions that she might have formed. Even her friends had been graciously accepting of him and showed no ill will, save one.

Trail recalled the moment he had shared with Applejack only a few hours prior. He had just finished a session with a client, a stallion with a B+ blood type with self-esteem issues. Trail was making great progress in fixing him, and was seeing him out the door. It was then that he caught sight of her. He, of course, was friendly and waved in hello towards her, to which she naturally returned. But the way she quickly left and the cheapness of the smile she gave hinted to him that she did not feel as her actions implied.

He was very well aware of the many other times she was simply standoffish towards him. Anytime he would attempt to converse with her, or even the rarer times he had met her outside, she was always quick to end the conversation and be on her way. When he was able to, Trail risked a moment of soul sighting her as she departed. After a few successful attempts, he was able to confirm her feelings towards him as they flared brightly from her interaction with him, and none of them showed anything positive.

“I suppose she might be the trouble I’ve been expecting to happen at one point or another,” he mused out loud. “But even then it’s not much to deal with.” His mind spun over possibilities of how to handle the situation. From various ideas of befriending her, to wondering if it was possible to force her to comply with magic. After contemplating for sometime however, he sighed and pulled himself out of his thoughts. “I can’t become too wrapped up on this, creating further trouble where there might be none. This world is just too lax for my taste it seems. It lacks any of the dangers I would normally have to prepare for.”

Trail sat in his chair for a few minutes before suddenly turning his head back towards the window. “Probably about time now.”

Getting up from his chair, he made his way to one of the desks within the room. Upon reaching it, he whispered beneath his breath words that were bound to a spell, causing the desk to flare once with a red light. Reaching down, he pulled open one of its drawers. Inside was a simple wooden hinged box. With a small flip of the lid, he verified all its contents were in order. Soon, this blood will be the key to our salvation.

Closing the lid, he extended his hoof out before him, then whispered words beneath his breath. Immediately afterward swirling shadows began to wrap around the box's wooden frame, engulfing it until even his entire hoof was lost within its darkness. A moment later, he raised his hoof from the shadows, revealing nothing but open air as the wooden box no longer sat upon it. The shadows faded away as they trailed after his hoof, closing the still open chest drawer. Assured the spell had safely stored the box, he proceeded out of the room and the house.

Opening the back door, he walked out into the cool night air, his hoof steps swishing the grass of the back garden. He briefly glanced over the carefully tended flowers and bushes, maintained by the gardener filled with great pride at keeping the grounds at their best. Trail often gave an extra tip to the older pony for thanks of his hard work, a few bits more than the agreed price. The gardener graciously took the extra payment when given, but never once declined towards the offer. Lately he even had begun to hang around longer than need be in expectation of a tip. Modesty would be becoming of him.

Walking past the tended plant life, Trail continued towards the expanse of woods only a short distance from his home. As he approached, the figure of a pony melted out from the shadows of the woods, and met him the rest of the distance.

“Good evening, Shade Flare,” Trail greeted, a smile spreading across his lips as he made out the full form of the pony. The stallion’s coat was a smokey grey color, perfect for blending into the night. Even spotting the pony within the trees would have been impossible for most, but even without the enhanced vision Trail possessed, nopony could mistake the other features of the stallion once they were close enough to see him.

His eyes were amber in color, and instead of a round pupil, a slit was in its place instead. Small tufts could be seen on the top of his ears, making them appear slightly longer and more angled. But most striking of all, was instead of feathers on his wings tucked to his side, they were more resembling of a bat, leathery and loose. The pony that stood before Trail was none other than a batpony, and also, a member of Princess Luna’s Lunar Guard.

“Good evening, my lord, how does thy fair tonight?” Shade Flare responded, bowing in respect.

“Please dispense with the formalities, if there is one thing I like about this age, is that they are trivial and unneeded. And I’ve already told you before, you try too hard on old talk.”

“I… apologize. What would you ask of- I mean… what would you prefer to be called?”

“For now, Trail will do. Best to stay in character as much as possible.”

“As you wish,” Shade Flare replied.

“Are the others gathered?”

“Yes, they are awaiting your arrival within the woods.”

“Good, let’s not keep them waiting.”

Trail and Shade Flare moved towards the treeline and were soon engulfed by its foliage and shadows. They quietly crossed across the dirt ground and underbrush, neither of them making noticeable sound as they passed through the woods.

“Mr. Trail,” Shade Flare began..

“Trail will do.”

“…Trail, may I ask how goes your progress in Ponyville?”

“Disturbingly easy. I have not encountered any setbacks or troubles as of yet. So far all the ponies accept me and I seem to be earning their trust rather quickly. Fortunately Princess Twilight has had little contact with the Royal Sisters of late. You have positioned members to inform me should they hear word of either of them coming to visit Ponyville correct?”

“Yes, we have connections in place to catch any official word of travel. I of course, would know of anything concerning Princess Luna, but we also are in works with members of Princess Celestia’s guard, claiming it to be a security measure for both parties to know the locations of both Princesses at all times.”

Trail gave a small grunt. “They didn’t have that before? My goodness have things changed. I suppose that’s the best that can be done for now, but given how un-official the Princesses act these days, I would be lucky to hear anything at all should they choose to visit.”

“Would they really recognize you on sight?”

“Without a doubt,” Trail replied. “I can do many things, but masking a cutie mark is not one of them. There are some parts of the soul even I cannot modify. Princess Celestia and Luna would know me the moment they laid their eyes upon me, something I wish to avoid as long as possible.”

“And are you still sure Princess Twilight is the best course of action? Would it not be simpler to build your forces far away from the Royal Sisters and Elements of Harmony?”

“It would,” Trail said nonchalantly. “But it would lead to my inevitable downfall.”

“Sir?”

“I cannot face the Elements of Harmony. From what I've gathered, they are beyond my strength to deal with. Eventually my presence would be revealed, the element bearers gathered, and their power used against me. My return may as well be as short as Sombra's was; a fate that I would do best to prevent.”

“Which is why I am choosing this course,” Trail continued. “To deal with the issue head on before it may become a larger problem, as well as solve our current dilemma.”

“And you still plan to turn her?” Shade Flare asked.

“Yes.”

Shade Flare opened his mouth to ask another question, but decided to keep it closed and return his attention back on walking.

Trail however had not missed the behavior, and spoke after a few moments. “What do you want to ask?”

“It is not my place to question your plans.”

“Honestly, does the little knowledge of me that survives paint that bad of a picture? I will not deal punishment out to my subordinates that question for good reason. If I do not want you to know the details, I will make it clearly known.”

“Y-yes sir,” Shade Flare hesitantly replied, nodding in understanding.

“Please, ask away.”

Shade Flare remained silent as they trekked deeper into the forest before he finally coughed and voiced his concern. “Trail… is it really wise to turn Princess Twilight into a full vampony?”

“Your worries are?”

“She is already an alicorn, why in Equestria would you want to give her your gift? Believe me, I am forever thankful for what you are trying to do, but wouldn’t it be easier to avoid reversing our fate and beginning with normal ponies?”

“I will not abandon you,” Trail said firmly.

“But would Twilight not become even more powerful and present an even greater threat?”

“Yes, she most likely would become even more dangerous.”

“Then why?”

“The full answer… I cannot delve into for now. You must trust me on this, and know that even augmented with the power in our blood, I will still pose a threat to her in turn. And I will see to her downfall personally should she ever become a true threat.”

Shade Flare regarded him, still worried of the reasons behind his plan to continue with the princess, but he stopped himself from pressing the matter further. It is as he said, he will reveal to me when he desires. I must simply trust him for now. Glancing at Trail briefly, Shade Flare regarded him fully as he had done so many times; something that he had yet to tire of. For the sake of our kind, I have to trust him.

They continued the remainder of the walk without speaking, passing through small glens and overgrown ferns like sifting shadows.Eventually, a break in the trees could be seen ahead, revealed a small clearing that was larger than any that had come across yet. Halting on sight of it, Trail’s eyes briefly scanned the opening in the forest and the trees on the edges.

Twenty-three. Small, but a good start, Trail thought. It had been easy for him to spot the various ponies standing about in and around the clearing. Some of them were directly in the middle of the small field, deep in personal conversations, while others preferred to be away on their own near or in the trees, watching from the shadows or high vantage points. While the most of their coloring were various shades of greys, browns, dark greens and blues, there were a few brightly colored ones such as yellow and red.

While some ponies may find it odd that a darker palette of coat color was the majority of the group, the fact that each and every one of there was a batpony like Shade Flare would send the strangeness home.

“We have twenty-four, sir, all trustworthy and willing,” Shade Flare stated.

“Twenty-four?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Where is the last one?” he asked, his head on a swivel to pick out the remaining pony. He wondered if Shade Flare had miscounted, for a pony that was able to remain undetected by the Night Walker would be certainly most talented.

“I… do not know, sir,” Shade Flare replied, taken aback at the assumed knowledge Trail was somehow able to see each of them so easily. Not even we bat ponies have that good of sight, he thought. Clearing his throat, Shade Flare continued. “I’m assuming it must be Ebon Wing, he has an odd affinity with the shadows. At times, even a full guard is unable to find him if he so desires.”

So, Trail thought. It seems that some traits managed to survive the test of time. How fortunate some thing’s were able to be passed down. Still looking for the final pony, Trail asked, “Is it common for one of your own to have such a gift?”

“No, sir, abilities like Ebon Wing possesses appear randomly every few generations. However we have been lucky that these last few years. There have been a large influx of ponies possessing rare traits.”

Fate, you beautiful thing, Trail cheerfully thought.

“Would you happen to have something to do with it, sir? Given your recent release.”

“It’s possible, but it is something to be looked at another time. First, let us locate our hidden friend.”

Trail closed his eyes and focused his attention inward, Shade Flare looking at him in a questioning manner. When he opened them again, his eyes were pure white in color and held a soft glow to them. Shade Flare stifled a small gasp upon seeing them, unsure of what exactly he was intending to do.

Ignoring Shade Flare’s fascination, Trail squinted his eyes as much as possibly to prevent the small amount of luminescence they gave to reveal their location from the gathered ponies. It would be after all, unfitting for a pony of his stature to be noticed during the night.

Chuckling at the various attitudes and responses, he returned his focus back to the search. Before him, various translucent orbs twinkled into sight, located exactly in the chest of each pony. From a quick glance, he could see a multitude of emotions affecting each of them, namely anticipation and nervousness being the prominent ones. Trail passed over each and every orb, looking for the missing one that he knew would be different than the others. However, as scanned, he quickly did a double take on one particular soul, it was the kind he did not expect to have been brought to the meeting.

“Why is there a filly?”

“That’s Lunar Pearl, sir,” Shade Flare said with a sigh. “She… well, it wasn’t an option to leave her behind. I was actually hoping you might be able to do something about it.”

“What’s the problem?”

“She overheard a conversation about the gathering and had insisted to join. We, of course, denied her but she then threatened to reveal the whole thing to everypony. No matter what threats we made, she wouldn’t budge between either coming with, or turning us all in.”

“I see,” Trail merely commented..

Shade Flare looked back and forth between the clearing and Trail. “Are… Are you upset that we brought her, sir?”

“No, it’s quite alright. Better now than later I suppose. Our success depends on the future generations such as herself. She can be the first of her age to learn.”

Shade Flare nodded in reply and remained quiet, waiting patiently for Trail to finish scanning the members.

He would inspect each one in detail later, but for now he returned his focus on locating the twenty-fourth orb, a feat that took less than a minute as his vision expanded outside the clearing. Nestled within the tall branches of one of the trees, a reddish orb flickered. It appears they can use some powers, most likely passed down by family bloodlines of the more powerful members. I wonder which one he had descended from.

Trail closed his eyes once more, and opened again, now returned to his normal red color. “Let us greet our guests,” he announced. Shade Flare nodded his head, slightly wary at sudden change of his eyes.

The soft lull of conversation became noticeable as they neared the group. From what Trail could tell, they whispered with a mixture of eager tones, and nervousness. While he knew how the majority felt, he could only wonder what they were thinking, knowing that they would soon meet a pony that had only be told to them in old fables behind closed doors.

When the first pony spotted them, her ears immediately dropped, her legs locked into place, and her eyes became impossibly wide. Trail could faintly detect her rising heart rate, and politely suppressed the urge crack a smirk. It was only a few more moments before they entered the clearing before the rest of the group responded in similar fashion.

Some visibly locked up like the mare, while others twitched with anticipation, their ears pricking forward as they watched Trail’s every movement. All conversation ceased in the clearing, causing it to become eerily silent. The sound of blood rushing through their bodies nearly drowned out their hearing as looked onto Trail with awe, still grasping with the idea that he was indeed walking towards them.

Heading straight to the middle, Trail strode purposely forward, only making eye contact with the few in his way that scrambled quickly when they realize he was heading right for them. When he did reach the center of the clearing, he stopped, and gave a long look out into the crowd surrounding him. All their eyes were on him, and a warm feeling spread through his chest at seeing their faces. Though their features were different, many similarities remained. And in truth, he welcomed the new changes openly. Having known Shade Flare the longest, he had grown fond of their tuft ears, leathery wings, and slitted eyes. And having a group gathered before him, caused even more heartfelt feelings to flow out. They were the only thing familiar in an unfamiliar land and time.

His mood to them however, remained unknown and passive, as he held a stone set face while looking out to each and everyone one of them. To his delight, only a few turned their gaze away from him, the majority keeping full eye contact with him when he looked upon them.

When he had reached the last one within the clearing, he turned his gaze upwards and towards a specific tree at the edge of the clearing. When nothing stirred upon his stare, he loudly spoke out for all to hear. “Please, come down from there, I would like to have everypony within easy sight.”

The crowd’s heads followed Trail’s gaze and watched as the branches of the tree shift slightly. Shortly after, a form dropped from its branches and onto the ground with a small thud. Looking closely, Trail saw a young batpony, barely a stallion; stare up at him with wide and fearful eyes.

The rest of the ponies began to murmur quietly, unable to believe that he had spotted Ebon Wing so easily, a feat nopony else had managed ever since he first learned of his ability.

Shade Flare let a small smile break his lips. Ebon Wing always depended on that trick of his. I can’t imagine how he feels on seeing his best defense be shattered so easily.

“Please,” Trail spoke in a more gentle tone. “Come, join the rest of us.”

Ebon Wing hesitantly stepped a hoof forward, his body shaking visibly at having been found. With a gulp, he moved to join the rest of them, preferring to stay closer to the back to have some protection between him and Trail.

Trail waited until the murmuring died down and each pony was quiet, waiting expectantly for him to speak again. Finally, breaking his passive mood, he let out the first smile they had seen of him, and he spoke on to them with a compassionate voice. “My brothers, sisters, I have returned.”

Lifting his chest, he assumed a regal pose as his hooves dug into the grass, the stance bringing back memories of calling out to a crowd so many times before. “I want to thank each and every one of you for coming here tonight. I know that doing so was a great risk, and not an easy one to make. You are all gathered here because I requested it. You heard my whispers, and desired to see if they were true or not. You wished to know the truth, one that only a short time ago, you were denied of by being completely unaware. I am stricken with grievance to the fact that none of you know your heritage, your true heritage. To know that I, a forgotten relic of the past that walks the land again, am a part of your family. And that you all are my brothers and sisters.”

Trail paused to gauge the reactions of the small crowd, their eyes still wide with awe.

“I will not speak out harshly against the Princess’s that you have served over these thousand years, only that they have done you a large injustice. I am not entirely aware of how they manage to accomplish what they did to you, nor the full extent of your treatment during my absence. But I promise you, the lies of the Royal Sister’s will be no more. For tonight, you take the first step to reclaim who you once were!”

“Look upon me, and see your history. For I, am the Night Walker of old, Lord of the Vamponies, and I have come to reclaim my kin.”

They crowd remained quiet, many with their mouths open. Each of them was transfixed by the pony standing before them, filled with awe and wonder. His stance was regal, his coat blacker than night, his mane silver as the stars, his eyes a piercing red, and his voice so clear and commanding that it demanded attention and respect. Everything about his presence radiated a power that matched the Royal Sister’s themselves. It was as if they had seen a long lost king come straight from the pages of an old novel.

“If you’re a vampony, where’s your wings?” a small voice called out in the moment of hushed awe.

Every pony turned around and moved aside to reveal a small filly in the far back that had interrupted Trail’s speech. Tension grew within the crowd as some began to nervously flicker their eyes between her and him in fear of what punishment may occur to the little filly. Shade Flare stared dumbfounded towards her until his teeth came together in a slow grind. “Sir, I deeply apologize for her actions, I take full responsibility. Please do as you-“

“Nonsense, I will handle it.” Trail interjected. Shade Flare shot a concerned expression, unsure of what he intended. He did not want to see the filly incur his wrath, but he would be unable to stand up to him should he decide to punish her.

“My dear, what is your name?” Trail asked.

“Lunar Pearl,” she answered calmly, unaware of the thick atmosphere that was settling onto every other pony.

“And how would you, Lunar Pearl, a filly, know anything about vamponies?”

Each pony turned to Lunar Pearl for her reply, their breaths held for fear of how the conversation might turn out.

Much to the dismay of everypony, Lunar Pearl puffed up her cheeks. “Just because I am a filly, doesn’t mean I’m stupid. If you’re part of our family, then why don’t you have any wings? Every batpony I’ve seen has wings.”

For the crowd, it was like watching a pony dig her own grave with each uttered word. To their surprise however, Trail merely chuckled in reply.

“An astute observation my dear. To answer it simply, you are the product of tampering by the Royal Sisters. As I said, I do not know what they have done, but its obvious there were certain features they were unable to remove, your wings being one of them. Tell me, does this seem familiar?”

The closest ponies jumped back as streaks of shadows immediately began to circle around Trail’s torso, spinning around him like possessed ribbons wrapping a present. Moments later they faded away, leaving two appendages to the stallion’s body that were not there before. With a swift motion, Trail unfurled his wings, causing a soft ‘thwamp’ sound.

Each ponies mouth, and Lunar Pearl’s, were open as they stared in disbelief at what had just happened. All except for Shade Flare.

I bet I looked a lot like them when he had first shown me. Who would expect an earth pony to know magic, and the kind of magic that can use darkness itself to create wings? Something that hasn’t been seen in Equestria in a long time.

“Now let me educate you on vamponies, Lunar Pearl,” Trail said coldly, causing Shade Flare’s smug smile to dropped instantly. Trail took a step forward towards Lunar Pearl with his wings still flared, while she in turn, stepped backwards reflexively. “Do not move.” Trail said, his voice holding her still as if he had casted a spell.

It was then that Lunar Pearl finally felt the fear that the rest of the crowd had been feeling, the fears of a small filly who had pressed the wrong button to many times. Trail, who for all her care, appeared as a normal pony only moments before, was now the source of all her fears she had felt. She contemplated on running regardless of how he spoke to her and whatever further trouble she would be in, but when her eyes met his, the urge was dashed in an instant.

His red eyes seem to pierce her very being and plant her firmly to her spot. As red as they were, they seemed old, unmoving, and more terrifyingly, unknown. She was not able to see the emotions or reason behind those eyes, or why they were now moving towards her.

The rest of the ponies felt a tightness in their chest at the horror what was surely about to be cruel sight, some fidgeting while they internally battle themselves, ready to stand to her defense if it were not for the crippling fear of receiving whatever punishment she was surely about to be dealt. Even Shade Flare found himself unable to speak up for her, for he too had once witnessed they way Trail approached her, and wished with all his being that it would end in a similar, and non-damaging, fashion.

Trail stopped his approach on a few hoofsteps away, looking down at Lunar Pearl who had fell to her knees and was now shaking, a small whimper escaping her lips as she stared up towards him. She didn’t even dare to blink.

His face was unrevealing as he glared down to her small form while his wings shifted above his head, his body appearing as if to ready himself for what would surely be a strike. Lunar Pearl ducked her head and threw her hooves over herself to protect herself against the coming attack the best she could, waiting for the imminent pain of who knows what to lash at her. She heard the other ponies in the crowd gasp and she gulped, waiting for what seemed to be forever on whatever was to come. But instead of a sharp pain, his voice spoke instead.

“Feel them,” he said softly.

Still shaking, she reluctantly removed a hoof and peeked up. What she saw was not an angry vampire lord of the past, ready to deal what surely would have been a harsh blow or an evil spell. But instead, saw one of his wings dipped down towards her, and his cold stare replaced with the stony expression he wore when he first entered the clearing. She stared at him, then his wing in confusion, not entirely sure of what he was asking of her.

“Go on, touch them.”

Looking at him, his face still held a passive mood that she was unable to read. She wasn’t sure if he was tricking her or not into something even worse, but decided to tempt fate anyway. A brief thought of being banished to some evil dimension the moment she touched his wing crossed her mind.

She slowly reached out a hoof and placed it on the wing membrane, flinching slightly when she made contact. But instead of rippling magic, she felt soft skin. Crossing her brows, she brushed her hoof along the membrane, feelings its almost fuzzy surface tickle her hoof. She followed it all along to the wing forearm, and felt the hard bone that supported the form, and small tufts of fur outlining it.

“See, not so different than yours are they?”

She looked back to Trail, and found that his face had turned into a gentle smile, his eyes no longer foreboding or threatening. With her mind trying to catch up in the turn of events, and in not being in troubles, she answered his question by moving her other hoof to touch her own wings, and compared the feeling between the two. After a strokes on both wings, she quietly mumbled in surprise, “No… they feel the same.”

“That’s because we are connected,” he said. Trail knelt down and tucked his hoofs beneath him to look at her at eye level. “We may seem different on some of the things on the outside, but I assure you, little Lunar Pearl, we share the same blood. Vampony blood. And that, my dear, makes us family.”

Lunar Pearl stared up to Trail in awe, still figuring out how he had turned from such a scary pony into the nice one that was smiling at her now. Her brain was unable to form any words, and so she simply nodded to him.

A collective sigh was heard as everypony else let out a breath of relief. Many of their worries now vanished into the night at seeing the kindness of their claimed to be ancestor. Any doubts they had before of his behaviors were settled in the safe knowledge that he was at least kind to small fillies and colts.

They were all quiet as they took in the comforting moment, before a sharp noise cut through the night air.

*CRACK*

Trail’s ears flicked at the sudden noise of a twig breaking within the forest. Immediately he stood up and stared coldly in the direction of the noise in the shrouded woods. The rest of the group followed in suit and joined his gaze, some looking into the darkness fearfully on who might have discovered their secret meeting, others with anger in their eyes for the intruder that dared to track them.

Trail shot Shade Flare a questioning glance, in which Shade Flare replied in a hushed voice, “There should have been no evidence to go by that this meeting was in place, I have no idea who it might be, sir.”

Trail narrowed his eyes before turning them back to the forest. He ran over the options in his mind, unsure if whatever lurked in the shadows was a true threat or not. Quickly, he decided a course of action, and issued a low command. “Hide yourselves, and prepare for a potential fight.”

The bat ponies gave each other unsure looks; they had not expected a fight to happen during the meeting, especially for a pony they had just met. Some began to worried if they had made the right choice in even agreeing to come here. Shade Flare however, cut short any hesitations or doubts the ponies had as he repeated the orders. “You heard him, get into formations! Ebon Wing, take Lunar Pearl,” he hissed.

As silent as possible, the group of bat ponies scattered into the surrounding trees of the clearing, blending into the low shrubbery and tall branches of the trees with stealthy trots and flaps of leather wings. Using their familiarity with the night and their dark coat color, they pressed themselves against the darkest shadows they could find, and braced themselves for whatever foe that might appear from the woods. Ebon Wing quickly scooped up Lunar Pearl and flew to one of the highest branches, her eyes still locked onto Trail as she was taken away. Once they were all in place, Trail glanced over where they had all gone, ensuring none of them were revealing themselves in some manner. Although his eyes that saw the night as day were able to pick out a few here and there, he knew that no normal pony would be able to spot them. He huffed quietly with pride. They aren’t as skilled as their ancestors, but they do not disappoint.

Checking once more each one was securely hidden and receiving a nod from Shade Flare on completion, Trail withdrew his focus once more from everything around him, and brought forth his Ponyville personality.

“Now, let’s see who’s causing a fuss this late at night,” he cheerfully spoke.

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

Applejack treaded deeper into the woods as carefully and quietly as she could. The fire and determination that minutes ago had thrust her into the situation were cooled when it became very apparent she could not continue running recklessly through the dark woods. One reason was due to the noise, and the second was because of the near misses she had of nearly crashing head first into the trees.

Now she was stepping gingerly across the forest floor, squinting hard into the shadows to make out anything else that wasn’t a tree or a bush, all while trying to watch her own footing.

“Dangnabbit, how in Equestria did Trail and his partner get through here?” she grumbled to herself in a hushed voice. She couldn’t imagine them having gotten far ahead of her, but due to the rate she was traversing the forest now, she was afraid she might fall back behind or even worse, lose them.

Seconds turned to minutes as Applejack steadily made her way between the trees, her eyes starting to become sore due to the constant squinting. Each time she thought she might have spotted something, it turned out to only be a trick of the shadows. The constant trudging unknowingly placed terrain and lack of any hints of the ponies she pursued began to become disheartening; she was afraid that she had already lost them and was wondering aimlessly through the woods late at night.

“Shoot,” she whispered. “They can’t have gone too far in.”

Twisting her head around, she was met with the same sight in every direction; outlines of trees followed by inky thick darkness. She was beginning to consider it was pointless to continue searching and focus on getting back out of the woods least she become lost herself.

Not yet, just a little farther. Ah’m sure they’re out here, she thought, convincing herself to keep going.

Determined again, she trudged on purposefully. However, her focus on her will to find the two hidden ponies made her fail to notice the thick twig in front of her, just below the knees. With a deaf defying crack that echoed throughout the darkness, Applejacks heart froze and then promptly sunk. She remained perfectly still at the realization of her action; her heart pounding loudly as her ears flipped about to hear anything that might have responded to the loud noise.

After a minute of silence, she finally dared to move her hoof off the twig and stepped over as quickly as possible. Ah sure hope whatever's out here didn’t hear that, she desperately prayed. Her heart still pounding, she began to continue making her way through the woods.

Shortly after the twig crunch, she squeezed her eyes again in attempt to see what lay ahead of her. From what she could see, it looked like a break in the forest; a brighter section only a small gallop away. Hoping that everything she had done so far had not gone to waste, she quietly and quickly made her way to the clearing, taking extra care to not step on any more branches.

Eventually she reached the line of trees and peered from behind a trunk she leaned against at what might be occupying the clearing. Her body froze when she made out Trail standing in the middle, his head pointed towards the sky.

What is he up to out here? And where’s the other fella? Applejack took a long look around, attempting to spot any other pony that may have been hiding within the trees as well. But she was unable to spot a single thing besides trees and shadows.

Having been so focused on spotting the second pony, Applejack failed to notice Trail was now heading towards her hiding spot until it was too late. When she turned her head back to him she immediately jerked it back behind the tree, he was too close for her to move away from her hiding spot without being seen. Applejack panicked, unable to decide what to do in such little time, that she did the first thing that popped into her mind.

Become a tree.

Trail’s soft steps could be heard as he drew nearer, but they were hardly heard over the sound of Applejacks heart beating furiously. With her eyes squeezed tight she repeated in her mind, Please don’t let him see me please don’t let him see me please don’t let him see me please don’t-

“Applejack?”

Pony feathers.

Applejack opened her eyes to see a very confused Trail paused in mid stride staring directly at her, his eyebrows narrowed in attempts to discern her behavior. “May I ask… what are you doing to that tree?”

Applejack stared wide eyed at Trail, realization how she looked towards him. Her entire body was plastered as tight as she could manage against the tree while standing on her hind hooves. With a brief eye shift from him to the tree and back again, she disembarked the tree and fell onto four hooves. “Ah… could… ask you the same thing as to why you are out here,” she retorted.

“You mean my stargazing?”

“Is that what you’re really doing?” she asked skeptically, no longer embarrassed on her discovery and completely focused on catching him red hoofed.

“Of course,” Trail responded with a smile. “I’m sure you’ve seen the stars, they are absolutely beautiful tonight! And, afterfall, is it my cutie mark.” Trail briefly flashed his mark, a red crescent moon with hoof prints beneath it.

Applejack eyed his mark skeptically, then glanced at the stars. “They are pretty tonight. Almost pretty e’nuff to maybe watch with a friend maybe?”

Trail’s demeanor became unsure as he replied, “I… suppose so. Are you… are you asking for me to watch with you? I never pegged you for astronomy.”

Applejack sighed and reached up to tilt her hat forward. “Let’s cut to the chase, who are you out here with and why are you here?”

“Whatever do you mean?”

“You know what ah mean! Ah saw you and another pony meeting up at your place and heading off into tha woods!”

Trail eyes shifted about as he took a step back, “I-I don’t know what you’re talking about. Are you sure you weren’t seeing things? The shadows can play tricks on the eyes you know.”

Gotcha, Applejack thought as a satisfied smile crept on her face, her eyes narrowed in accusation. “Ah wasn’t imagining things, and I know you’re lying to me. You’ve been lying this whole time! Ah’m tired of you prancing around like you got every pony wrapped around your hoof. You’ve been nothing but suspicious since the day you’ve arrived. Ah know you’re up to something and you’re gona tell me right now what is!”

Trail eyes shifted about the darkness as if he was looking for a way to escape the mare. This only made her surer of herself as she took a step forward in case he did decide to bolt for it. As she did, she thought she heard the faint sound of leaves rustling in the trees around them. As she began to turn her head to find the source of the noise, Trail suddenly shouted, “OKAY I’LL TELL YOU!”

Applejack paused and turned back to Trail.

“I’ll tell you,” he repeated more calmly. He took a deep breath in and exhaled as he sat onto the forest floor. His eyes then locked onto hers as he spoke in probably the most serious tone she had ever heard him speak in. “Applejack, what do you know of vamponies?”

Applejack stared blankly at him for a good ten seconds before replying, “Vamponies?”

Trail confirmed with a nod.

“Ya mean... tha monster costume ponies dress up as on Nightmare Night?”

“No, I’m talking about real… vamponies.”

Applejacks eyebrows became furrowed as she pointed a hoof at him, “You do know vamponies aren’t real right?”

“No,” he replied, a smile growing on his face. “They’re real alright. In fact, I’ve spent a large portion of my life studying them. You see, vamponies are actually real and hidden about Equestria!”

Applejack stared at the stallion as if he had just gone mad. When his grin didn’t disappear Applejack spoke in an unsteady voice, “Uh, Trail, ah know you’re the therapist and I’m not… but… doesn’t that sound just a tad bit crazy to you?”

His grin vanished as he took on a hurt face. “No no! You see, they are real! I’m sure of it! I’ve been collecting data on them to prove their existence, and I almost have enough to go public! You see, that’s why I met one of my partners tonight to exchange information!”

“So you were out here with another pony,” Applejack accused, once again a hard look on her face.

“Yes I was, but I swear it was only to share information on vamponies! Please, you’ve got to believe me! They are real and I’m afraid there might even be one or two in Ponyville. You have to promise you won’t tell a soul about this! I can’t afford them knowing that I’m onto them and so close to exposing their existence!”

Applejack took a step back as he began to shuffle towards her, his face desperate and begging. Her mouth fell open and she took on a confused look as he rambled on about vamponies. Of all the things she was expecting, this was definitely not what she had in mind. She thought that Trail was scheming some evil plot to take over Ponyville or something similar like Queen Chrysalis during the wedding. But to believe in the existence of vamponies? What was worse, is that she felt like he was telling the truth, that he actually did full heartedly believe in their existence. Before she at least had a feeling that he was deceiving her and her friends, but now she knew that Trail was telling the honest truth. It worried and confused her, part of her feeling foalish suspecting him of something dastardly, another for worry of a full grown stallion believing in something like vamponies.

“Trail,” she interrupted, but paused as she saw his pleading face. With a sigh she said, “Ah promise ah won't tell anypony.” Who would believe me anyways? she thought. “But I think you should maybe get your head checked out. I know it’s your business to get into other ponies heads, but maybe you should let one in yours.”

Trail’s face sunk lower and lower, his behavior becoming more erratic. “B-but... I have books! I’ve been collecting for years on any material that has information on them! For example, they will burn in sunlight! And they hate garlic! It’s all there I swear!”

Applejack backed away a few steps as he reached out for her. “Whoa now, take it easy. Just, calm down now okay?” Poor fella has been reading too many stories, she thought. “Look Trail, ah will keep my word about not spreading the word, but just please don’t expect me to believe something like vamponies. Look, ah’m sorry ah followed you out here and suspected you of something okay. Let’s just… call it a night, and maybe talk about it more some other day. That sound good?” she said as sweetly as possible.

“Would you… mind if I did show you what I had on vamponies at least? I promise they are real and I have been collecting data on them.”

“Weeeeeeee can do that…” Applejack hesitantly replied. “Maybe later like... next week?”

A glimmer of hope shined back in Trail’s eyes as he stood straight up. “Yes of course! Next week. I’ll get everything I have so far and show you what I’ve discovered. I promise that you won’t be disappointed!”

“Well then, it’s a date. But for now, I really ought to be getting back home. You uh… take care now, okay?” Applejack said turning away from him.

“I will, have a lovely night!” Trail called out to her.

Applejack awkwardly waved back until she was unable to see him anymore from the blocking trees. With a large exhale she sighed as she trudged her way out of the woods. “Celestia do I feel like a foal, letting my imagination run wild like that.” She trudged through the forest and was shortly back at the stick she had broken. “Vamponies…” she mumbled. “I knew there was something wrong with that fella, but vamponies? He’s not a little colt anymore. And to think I was going to invite him to my house!”

As she continued on, not caring in the slightest of the trudging sounds she made, she ran her mind over the recent revelation. Ah suppose it does fit with his personality though. An eccentric stallion needs eccentric beliefs. I guess that’s why I’ve been getting such a weird vibe off him. He actually believes in vamponies! Ah mean, that mumbo-jumbo hypno stuff is already a stretch, but vamponies! Really? I sure went on a wild goose hunt tonight.

Applejack eventually saw the break in the trees and found herself on the outskirts of Ponyville. With one last look over her shoulder to the woods behind her she threw a very dissatisfied grunt and began to head back home.

“Vamponies… Of all things…”

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

Trail watched with cold eyes as Applejack began to make her way off, her face holding the most unbelievably fake smile while waving back awkwardly. Little did she know that there were over two dozen other eyes locked onto her since she had arrived.

Trail exhaled once she vanished into the woods and the sounds of her breaking branches faded. He felt like he should not have been surprised to see who it was that tailed them, but he had to admit it was better than an informant of Celestia or Luna that had manage to discover their meeting. At one point in the conversation he knew he was not going to be able to squirm by her without pressing the matter dangerously further.

Applejack, you are very lucky tonight that I didn’t allow the five bat ponies above us act out in fear.

Trail played a gamble in confessing part of the truth to her, hoping the rest of them would not intervene and do something that would have been hard to deal with later. But it had thankfully paid off, and now Applejack thought of him as crazy stallion instead of somepony that needed to be watched; at least in the suspicious sense, something that was much more manageable.

Once again, he closed his eyes and shifted personalities to his former self. Straightening his form, he turned around and walked out into the clearing again, the bodies of other ponies slowly revealing themselves as they came to join him.

Shade Flare was the first to approach him, a look of concern on his face. “Was it wise to reveal something like that to her?”

“Applejack is the Element of Honesty,” Trail replied. “I do not think she is aware of it but, but I suspect she has the innate sense of being able to tell if a pony is lying or not. Whether that is from being the Element of Honesty, or a natural talent, I cannot say. It would have been foalish of me to continue with that charade in any case. Telling her some of the truth without lying is the best option for now.”

Shade Flare stared out into the forest where Applejack had disappeared into, mulling over the possible implications of the nights events. “So,” he said as the rest of the bat ponies appeared into the clearing. “Vamponies hate garlic?”

“No, but I do. Always hated the taste of it.” Trail replied.

Trail turned back around to face the crowd, giving a nod towards Shade Flare who bowed before stepping aside to join the rest. Clearing his throat, Trail resumed. “With that out of the way, let us continue.It is time you knew our history. Our true history.”

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