• Published 27th Feb 2014
  • 807 Views, 18 Comments

A Night Too Long - Tumbleweed

Princess Luna recruits Fluttershy to save all of Equestria (whether she likes it or not).

  • ...

Chapter 4

“What was that?” Rainbow Dash narrowly dodged a large chunk of falling masonry. “Did we just set off a booby trap? I bet we stepped on something and set off a booby trap. I told you we should've flown! Stupid cultist robe keeps getting tangled up in my wings and it smells like my grandma's basement.”

“Isn't your grandmother from Cloudsdale?”

“Yeah, and?”

“How do you have a basement when you live in a magical cloud house?”

“Grandma Dash found a way, alright? And she found a way to make it smell funny, too.”

“I don't care what you smell, Rainbow. We've got bigger things to worry about.”

Twilight Sparkle descended the spiraling staircase, walked through the doorway at the bottom, and out into open air. She yelped in dismay, only just spreading her wings in time to slow her descent, landing hard on all four hooves onto the uneven rubble below.

“See!” Rainbow Dash glided effortlessly into place beside Twilight. “Told you we should've flown!” The pegasus fidgeted with her stolen cloak, attempting to fold her wings comfortably beneath it. “Man, what happened here, anyway?”

“Something collapsed this entire chamber.” Twilight's horn glowed as she cast a simple (to her, at least) spell. “Probably through the use of a concussive bolt, if I'm reading the residual magical residue correctly.” She frowned and squinted her eyes in concentration.

“Any sign of Fluttershy?” said Rainbow Dash.

“No- but that may be a good thing. By my estimate, we're standing on at least ten tons of solid stone. There's no way anypony could've survived it-”

“I AM NOT JUST ANYPONY!” A beam of blinding white magic lanced through the rubble. Tiny flakes of rock flew in all directions, and Twilight and Rainbow raised their wings instinctively to protect themselves. A moment later, Princess Luna made her grand entrance- battered, bleeding, but still glowing with righteous purpose.

“HOLY CRAP NIGHTMARE MOON!” cried Rainbow Dash.

“Calm down!” Twilight snapped at the pegasus, “I'm sure there's a perfectly rational explanation for all this.”

Princess Luna blinked the granite-dust from her eyes, focusing on the sight of the two ponies in front of her- and the telltale black cloaks they wore.

“Oh.” Princess Luna narrowed her eyes, “It all becomes clear.”

“Princess Luna, let's be reasonable- just tell us where Fluttershy is-”

“You'll never find her!” Luna spat.

“Please, Princess-”

“You surprise me, Princess Twilight.” Luna sneered. “When I first met you, I thought you were little but a naïve filly. But this...I must say, this sick scheme of yours has been well played. I bet you were the one who leaked word of the 'cult' in the first place, knowing I'd intervene. How long were you planning this? Were you counting on me bringing Fluttershy, or is she part of your treacherous plot?”

“What plot?” Twilight blurted. She braced her hooves and tried to ignore the sudden feeling of being much, much smaller than Princess Luna. “I don't know what you're talking about!”

“Please, Twilight Sparkle. Your dissembling is shameful. To claim ignorance whilst clad in the vestments of my enemy? Surely, you know I'm more canny than that.”

“I don't know half of what you just said, but I do know one thing-” Rainbow Dash snarled, “it's go time!” She lunged forward.

“Rainbow, no!” Twilight raised a hoof to stop her, but the pegasus was, as expected, too fast.

“Indeed.” Princess Luna's horn glowed, and Rainbow Dash slammed to a halt, frozen in midair by a telekinetic hold. “This is a matter to be
resolved between Princesses.”

“Princess Luna, wait!”


Fluttershy woke.

She coughed, delicately, and blinked the stone dust from her eyes. Slowly, Fluttershy's eyes began to adjust to the darkness. For a moment (several moments, actually) Fluttershy trembled and sobbed quietly.

“It's okay, Fluttershy.” Fluttershy had once read that vocalizing one's fears was often the first step in dealing with them. It certainly beat hiding in a corner and crying, an option that Fluttershy had only abandoned once she realized that in the blackness of...wherever she was, it would be very, very hard to find a place to hide.

“Everything's going to be just fine. I mean, you're only lost. And alone. In the dark. In a big scary evil tower, with a bunch of crazy ponies trying to end the world, that's all. You just need to be optimistic, that's all. Find the silver lining.” It took her a few minutes to find something to be optimistic about. “At least Princess Luna's not yelling at me.”

In fact, nopony was yelling at her at all. The cave (or wherever she was) was deathly silent. If it weren't for the circumstances, she might've found the lack of anypony close somewhat comforting.

“So. Um. Now what?” Fluttershy asked herself. “Oh, I'm no good at this. Twilight's the one who knows all about magic and adventures and things.” And then it struck her. “What would Twilight Sparkle do?”

The answer came just as naturally: “She'd make a list. That's what she'd do.”

And so, the little Pegasus began to take stock of her situation.

She was still underground (which was bad), alone (which was worse), and chained at the ankle. (This was also bad).

She raised her manacled leg, and followed the chain down to the shackle set into the stone floor.

“You're awake, good!” Thistle Down stepped out of the darkness, lighting his way with a faint glow from his horn. His coat was dusty,
matted with blood in places, but the same unhinged glint still shone in his eyes. “I was afraid there would be nopony around to share in the moment of my ultimate triumph!”

“Um. Okay?” Fluttershy tugged against the chain holding her in place, even though she knew she wasn't strong enough to break it. “Now that you've triumphed, can I go?”

“Not yet, little one. I'm close, damnably close...but not finished yet. Behold!” Thistle Down tittered madly to himself. He lifted his head, and levitated a battered, tarnished brass bell out in front of Fluttershy. The faint outline of a pony skull was emblazoned on the side of the bell, barely visible in the cave's darkness. “Here, here is the key to my triumph- to Lady Nightmare's ultimate victory! For once I ring the bell, the great beast Taresk will awaken, and then the pretender Celestia shall be struck down!”

“That...doesn't sound like a very well thought out plan.”

“Silence!” Thistle Down said, “My plan is brilliant! You merely lack the intellectual capacity to understand it!”

“Um. Okay. That's probably true. I don't really think about world domination very often.”

“Of course you don't! You would've lived your entire life as an unthinking member of the peasantry, with little to worry about besides
your day to day life.”

“That sounds really pleasant, actually.”

“Of course you'd say that! But now, now with the Screaming Skull, I shall wake the Taresk, and bring glorious chaos onto Equestria! All I
must do is ring this bell, and it shall all fall into place!”

“Are you sure?”

Thistle Down bristled. “Of course I am! How dare you question me?”

“Oh, sorry! I don't dare to do much of anything. It's just, um, well, I guess I don't see how your plan's going to work. I mean, if the Taresk is the biggest, scariest monster ever, why would it listen to you? Won't it just do whatever it wants?”

“Ah.” Thistle Down smiled. “That, peasant pony, is a good point. But, you're making a key mistake- you see, the Taresk is no beast- it is a force of nature! I cannot control it- I only set him loose, to take his rightful vengeance upon the world!” Thistle Down's eyes lit with a twisted gleam. He began to laugh, showering Fluttershy with the spittle of madness. “And all it takes- is this!”

He struck the Screaming Skull.

“Truly, Twilight Sparkle,” Luna said, “you are a worthy opponent.” Princess Luna felt her lungs burn, felt her muscles ache, felt the droplets of liquid (sweat or blood, she couldn't be sure) dribbling over her coat. She hadn't fought like this...ever, she realized. Not even her sister could match Twilight's sheer magical power. Already weakened from having the better part of a tower dropped on her, Luna knew the only thing that kept Twilight from defeating her outright was her comparative lack of battle experience.

Or perhaps Twilight was holding back.

“Should I be flattered?” Twilight stared at Princess Luna from the other side of the chamber.

“I'm no flatterer.” Luna said.

“Yeah, you're just a crazy and evil and stuff!” Rainbow Dash piped up from somewhere behind Twilight Sparkle. Sometime during the
melee, she'd been trapped inside a force bubble- though it was unclear which Princess had put her in it: Twilght to keep her safe, or Luna to keep her out of the way.

“Princess Twilight,” Luna's voice carried all the courtesy of a dagger sliding from its scabbard. “Silence your vassal, please.”

“She's not my vassal, she's my friend! Just like Fluttershy! Just like you!” Twilight blinked back the tears she felt forming at the corners of her eyes. “Why won't you listen to me?”

“Apart from the part where you tried to loose an ancient and terrible evil upon the realm?” said Luna, “or perhaps I should mention how
you've created a doom cult so as to blame it on me. The cloaks are a nice touch, I might add. A bit cliché, though.”

“Wait.” Twilight looked over her shoulder at the now-ragged cloak hanging off her shoulders. “This? This is a disguise! I took it from the ponies at the top of the tower! I thought you were the one who started an evil doomsday cult!”

“After a thousand years of madness and exile, why would I do such a thing?”

“Because you're evil and crazy and scary, duh.” Rainbow Dash said.

“Not. Helping. Rainbow.”

“Hah! What need have I for a cult?” Luna spat on the floor. “Especially with the likes of these foals?”

“She's right, Rainbow Dash.” Twilight Sparkle nodded. “Princess Luna isn't exactly...subtle. If she turned evil and tried to kill us-”

“Again.” Rainbow Dash noted.

Twilight winced. “Again. I think we'd notice it.”

“You certainly would!” Said Princess Luna. She lifted her chin and flared her wings, defiantly. “Not that I would consider doing so.” She added, if a little lamely.

“So...” Rainbow Dash said, “you're saying Princess Luna didn't kidnap Fluttershy?”

“Kidnap? I say thee neigh! I impressed her into my service, due to her affinity with beasts.”

“What kind of beasts is she supposed to be affinitizing?” Said Rainbow Dash.

Twilight Sparkle's face paled. “The Taresk.”

“The what?” said Rainbow Dash.

A great rumble rolled through the dark stone chamber.

“The that.” Twilight said.

“So you're saying this Taresk thing already woke up and started tearing the mountain down?”

“No, Rainbow Dash.” Luna said, “The monster is the mountain.”

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Comments ( 7 )

So confused

I have great hope that Luna and Twilight can settle this like grown mares and get to work fixing this stuff.

“You're awake, good!” Thistle Down stepped out of the darkness, lighting his way with a faint glow from his horn. His coat was dusty, matted with blood in places, but the same unhinged glint still shone in his eyes. “I was afraid there would be nopony around to share in the moment of my ultimate triumph!”

“Um. Okay?” Fluttershy tugged against the chain holding her in place, even though she knew she wasn't strong enough to break it. “Now that you've triumphed, can I go?”

So many yes. :fluttershysad:

4499375 Seems pretty clear to me. What's the confusion from?

Okay... I've got problems with this chapter.

It's another case of miscommunication and leaping horribly to conclusions. Also, Twilight being more than a match for Luna and/or Celestia? That's a personal thing that I disagree with, so more subjective. But... sorry, Tumbleweed. This one leaves me pretty cold.:fluttershysad:

This story is excellent and reminds me how much I miss Luna Eclipsed Luna compared to boring 'shows up in dreams and offers platitudes' Luna.

Now, the chapter clearly states that Twilight is only more than a match for Luna because she's injured from ten tons of rock falling on her. It does not say she's normally so.

I am loving this story already, you have captivated my attention on this wonderfully written story! I can only wait to see what you have in store.:yay:

Yeah, this is a nice premise, but the execution isn't working so well. The misunderstandings are a little too pat, the mistaken identities a little too easily mistaken. It could have used another chapter or two of setup before getting to this point.

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