• Published 27th Mar 2015
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Dusk Falls - NorrisThePony



Celestia discovers an eldritch conspiracy in the small beach town of Dusk Falls. Luna fights back growing feelings of jealousy and isolation.

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Deepsy and Indigo (II)

I took at least an hour to get myself completely oriented with my kitchen, analyzing where everything was, what I had and what I needed to purchase from the general store in Dusk Falls. By the desk I found some parchment and a quill and started making a list, which had to be continued first onto the opposite side and eventually onto another piece of parchment entirely.

Throughout this hour, the guards outside remained at their station on both sides of my door even when I first asked if they wished to come in for breakfast and still after I simply told them to go home. Home, which to them were large ocean houses paid for completely by the royal treasury. Still, they answered not to me but to the Captain of the Royal Guard, who by extension would answer to me and Luna, but I was in no mood to start sending letters so early into my one year’s rest. If they wanted to stand by my door all day, then so be it.

I tried the coffee that had been left for me, or, more accurately, I sipped it a little and nearly choked as I forced the wretched liquid down my throat.

I don’t like coffee much. That’s Luna’s thing.

The guards outside had appreciated it, though, and when I motioned towards a set of mats for sitting, they finally heeded my request to, for the love of the sun and moon, give their poor hooves a rest.

“You two are the only member of my royal guard situated in Dusk Falls right now,” I explained, information they undoubtedly knew but I wished to hear said aloud myself. “And therefore, you are the sole ponies responsible for my safety. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” They both said in sync, and saluted.

“Okay, good. Please, stop saluting at everything. It’s unnecessary,” I smiled warmly and sipped a bit more of the repulsive black liquid in my mug. “Now, despite what orders you may have been given, I am altering whatever they might be. Equestrian Law states that Princess Luna and myself must be under protection at all times, which is really why you’re here in the first place. I mean no rudeness, but I have never understood nor even agreed with this law.”

I took another sip of my coffee and a quick pause to gauge their expressions; stoic and even more stoic, before continuing;

“As such, I really need to request that this business of standing by my door at all hours of your twelve hour shifts is to be halted indefinitely, by my orders. I’m here on vacation, and don’t think I’ve blindly selected you two to be my trusted guards.”

In my magic I levitated up a small file folder and withdrew from it two carefully written documents, paper, not parchment, and started reading from the first one. As I did, I turned slightly to face the stallion guard, who undoubtedly knew what it was I was about to say from my previous sentence.

I actually didn’t, though. I’d noticed the guard’s files earlier that morning, but hadn’t found the time to actually look through them. I assumed Luna had left them because I didn’t remember bringing them myself.

The stallion guard’s name, according to the file Luna had left me, was “Deep Sea,” which I presumed was attributed to his blue coat but personally I thought it was much, much too light of a blue to ever be worthy of the name. It was such a light blue that from a distance it might have been mistaken for white. Perhaps his darker blue mane was instead the source of the name.

“Deep Sea,” I said, already not liking the necessity of the name having to be said in full or else simply sound silly. “Do you like this town? The heat, and sunshine?”

“Yes, your Majesty!” He said quickly, nodding. “Much better than the rainy weather in Vanhoover.”

“Good, I’m glad. And you, Miss…” I took a quick glance at the file, but she answered me before I had the chance to read it.

“Posy,” she said, bowing before me. Her voice was soft and quiet, but her eyes gave off a magnificent glimmer that complimented her small but sparkling smile. She was the exact opposite of what I’d come to expect from the stern, emotionless nature of the royal guards whilst on duty. In the morning light, I noticed that her long indigo mane was highlighted with stripes of dark pink and purple, as was her shorter tail. “Indigo Posy.”

“Indigo, and Deepsy,” I said with a hint of mischief. They grinned back, but Deep Sea looked a little embarrassed at my nickname. “It’s a pleasure to meet you both. Consider this the start of a one year vacation for both of you.”

They both looked at each other in confusion, and then back at me for some sort of explanation. I chuckled lightly and carried on.

“According to my sister, and, unfortunately, Equestrian Law, you need to be here. That being said, I don’t see any reason why I should require any sort of constant protection in this town which seems completely safe to me. So naturally, this business of guarding my door for twelve hours a day seems unnecessary, and I aim to be rid of it.”

Their confused expressions only further intensified. Deepsy rose an eyebrow and Indigo shuffled shyly and looked down at her hooves.

“Consider this a paid vacation. If I need any sort of royal protection, your services will be required, but if I’m going to have to keep you here in Dusk Falls then you might as well spend it in Dusk Falls, and not on my porch all year.”

What else was I to do? It seemed like the most sensible solution to me at the time. Besides, they seemed pleased about it, if not a little taken aback. I could already imagine the hell I’d have to pay with the Captain of the Royal Guard but I’d dealt with that hot headed stallion dozens of times and had only grown used to his arrogant antics.

“Princess Celestia?” Indigo asked shyly.

“Yes, dear?”

“Are...are we still being paid for our regular work hours?”

“Oh, my, certainly!” I assured with a swift nod and kind smile. “You were promised a daily pay in advance and it will remain unchanged.”

“Thank you very much, Princess Celestia,” Indigo said, but Deep Sea looked a little more skeptical and did not let a smile betray his obvious suspicion.

“With all respect, Your Majesty...” he spoke, his strong yet welcoming sounding voice commanding enough authority to make up for his partners meek and timid demeanor, “...this is all highly unorthodox. We were sent here to protect you and I have no desire to shirk my obligations.”

“I understand, and if this is the way you feel then I invite you to stand beside my door every single hour of your waking moments guarding me from the ferocious threats Dusk Falls has in store,” Smiling mischievously, I examined my empty coffee mug as I spoke with a sly, conspicuous tone of challenge lining the outskirts of my voice. “Personally, and while I do not consider myself a warrior or goddess by any means, I believe I can deal with most threats on my own. But, as I have said, it is your choice entirely.”

Widening my grin and dismissing myself with a quick nod, I whipped around and trotted off the porch, starting down the pathway towards Dusk Falls.

The bright and blinding whites of the morning sky were already fading into a deep blue as I trotted through the path. On my right, tall pine trees towered, the sun poking in and out of their sweet scented canopy. To my right lay dunes of sand layered with spindly and tall grass, eventually flattening first to beach and then to the infinite expanse of the ocean.

After a few minutes of walking I came to a crossroad which veered off in four directions; behind me where I had come, to the left across the dunes towards the red and white lighthouse towering above, straight on towards the heart of the town, and finally to the right, leading in a direction I did not know but was willing to wager lead towards the road snaking through the ravine with Crystalline Falls looming above. If ever I needed to slip out of Dusk Falls without a trace, it would seem like this would be the road to take. The long grove of pine and birch looked quite welcoming and would undoubtedly play host to many a sunday stroll in the year to come.

For the time being, I trudged straight forwards through the crossroads along the path, one that had been beaten in by enough carriage wheels of the years that it had the form of two lines of dirt separated from each other by grass.

The shuffling of hooves where I had come alerted me of the presence of my two guards, but I didn’t turn to greet them and instead kept my head held high as I sniffed in the aroma of pine needles and salt wafting in across the sand. Ahead of me lay a single house erected beside the path and in front of the unpaved dirt roads of the town. An elderly looking mare was sitting on the porch of the house and rose first in surprise when she saw me, before instantly descending in a bow.

I returned her gesture with a friendly smile.

“Fine morning, isn’t it?”

“They always are here, Your Majesty!” she returned my smile with one of her own.

My wide smile didn’t falter as my hooves left the path and touched the road, my trot probably looking more akin to a playful skip at this point. I had ended up in a more rural portion of the town, the dirt streets lined with the same cozy looking log houses with nary a shop to be seen. The Ferris Wheel loomed to my left as I continued down the road which looked like it switched to cobblestone some distance ahead.

“Deepsy?” I called behind me.

“Yes, Your Majesty?”

“Celestia, if you’d please. Is this part of town where you and Miss Posy will be living in?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Deepsy pointed to a house as we passed, a dark blue affair with a tall palm tree drooping over its roof. “That’s my house, and the yellow one over there is Indigo’s.”

“I do believe this is the only area of Dusk Falls that has houses,” Indigo added. “Other than Mayor Kleos’s home, of course.”

“Indeed?” I asked. If that were the case, then Dusk Falls surely could not have had a population much over two hundred, for spread out across the six long streets in this area there was only around forty houses. Then again, Dusk Falls was a tourist town, it made sense that the number of permanent residents would dwindle when compared to those like myself.

After some distance, the dirt road merged with an intricate and much wider road built from cobblestone. It travelled straight and uninterrupted from the entrance to the town, all the way to the boardwalk. Shops and stands lined it on both sides, and although it wasn’t nearly as busy as the boardwalk had been last night, there were nonetheless many sets of eyes watching me and my escort as I trekked to the right towards the exit to the town where the general store was located. Ponies immediately bowed in my presence, as they undoubtedly would for a short while, but eventually it would thankfully cease.

It had been that way in Canterville, the small community near the castle in the Everfree where me and Luna lived. We strode into Canterville so frequently that eventually ponies became accustomed to seeing us and slowly but surely lost sight of the necessity to bow in praise as if we were goddesses. Neither me nor Luna quite liked it to begin with, but I was the only one truly bothered by it. I think Luna secretly enjoyed the attention, especially considering she was denied so much of it due to her nocturnal way of life.

The tallest building in Dusk Falls was only a little shorter than the Ferris Wheel, and like the Ferris Wheel it was built directly beside the boardwalk. It was clearly visible directly across the main street of Dusk Falls I was now standing on. The word ‘HOTEL’ descended along one side of the five-story building, magically illuminated neon that would be burning bright come nightfall.

But it wasn’t where I was headed, for the general store was located down the road towards the entrance to town. Onwards I marched, with my trusty parchment pulled from my saddlebags and levitating in the air in front of me.

The main street of Dusk Falls, the cobblestone one that travels straight to the boardwalk, was lined on both sides by the same quaint, colourful buildings as I’d seen in photographs and postcards of Dusk Falls. It was like walking through a forest of red, blue, green, orange, and yellow stores and shops, many with entire windows dominating their entire street-facing walls. There were candy stores and post offices, toy shops and book stores, every one looking absolutely beautiful in the late morning sun.

The occasional carriage thundered and rattled by, but the majority of the ponies on Main Street seemed to be content with walking, spotting me, and descending into a respectful bow, before going about their business.

“Princess Celestia?”

“Yes, Indigo?” I asked without turning around.

“Um...where exactly are we headed?”

I am heading for the general store. You are permitted to go where you please.”

It would seem that ‘where they pleased’ turned out to indeed be the general store as well, for Deepsy and Indigo both trailed behind me as I pushed the glass door open and strode into the store, a friendly sounding bell striking as the door struck it to signal my entry.

“Oh my goodness!” Hushed whispers instantly exploded as the stores customers dropped what they were doing in immediate respect of my presence.

“It’s Princess Celestia!”

“The Sun Goddess herself!”

Shopping for myself was a fairly new experience, most of the time I had servants to run out to purchase anything that I might not be able to find within the walls of the castle. Occasionally I would go myself, if only to break up the monotony of simply doing the same thing every single day, but for the most part it was work saved for ponies whose jobs were to meet me and Luna’s needs.

With that said, I could have just sent Deepsy and Indigo with my list and stayed at home, getting myself acquainted with my new home, perhaps going for a walk down the Crimson Coast, or cracking open the first of what would surely be many, many books that I would read over the year. But no, I wasn’t going to do that anymore. This was a new chance for a new way of life, and I wasn’t going to squander it sitting on my flank all year.

By time the three of us finally left through the doors and back into the busy Main Street, the sun was perched high above the sky and a distant bell was chiming two o’clock. Both saddlebags on my sides were nearly overflowing with the various affairs I had purchased, and still I had needed Deepsy and Indigo’s help in carrying three more bags that I couldn’t comfortably carry myself. Over the afternoon, they had definitely become much more comfortable around me, talking amongst themselves, laughing and joking with me, and straying off to look at the stands and shops as we slowly explored Main Street.

“Your Majesty?” Deep Sea said, while I had paused to inspect some particularly succulent looking oranges at a vendor's stand. Indigo had strayed off someplace else, leaving me and the stern stallion guard alone.

“Yes, Deepsy?”

“You...you said this morning that me and Miss Posy were selected as your guards for a particular reason.”

“Yes?”

“I was...well, I was just wondering...um, for curiosities sake, of course, why we are here with you. I mean, I'm assuming you would have chosen more...”

He stopped suddenly, as if just now hearing what he was speaking regarding his companion and thinking it unfit to say aloud.

“Experienced guards?” I finished.

“Well, I suppose so,” He said guiltily, casting nervous glances around for the tell-tale golden armor aflame with sunlight. Indigo was nowhere to be seen, so carefully he proceeded. “Indigo... and myself, of course... I mean, we aren't exactly the most capable ponies on your force.”

“Capable of what, may I ask?”

My question came unexpected, leaving Deep Sea shocked long enough for me to carry forwards. I wasn’t expecting him to have had an answer for me anyways.

“Capable of feats of strength?” I said, almost coldly. “Deepsy, as much as I respect a pony who can hold their own in defense of themselves and others, it is the absolute least element of virtue I hope to see in any of my guards. Before it comes kindness, honesty, generosity, loyalty, and joy.”

“The Elements of Harmony…”

“Ah, so you know your history,” I said, “Very good. Wisdom is another virtue I admire. But yes. Ponies in the past have made the unfortunate mistake of presuming that because me and my sister wield the Elements of Harmony, they as our subjects are absolved from the opportunity of withholding their teachings.”

I floated a few bits towards the clerk of the stand who had quite obviously been listening to us stealthily. Grabbing three apples and floating one over to Deep Sea, I started walking away from the stand and he followed.

Deep Sea nodded and took a bite from the apple he was holding in his wings.

“Have you known Indigo before now?” I asked.

“Not particularly closely,” Deepsy said, “We were in the same training regiment, I remember noticing her since she was one of the only mares. She didn’t really talk to anyone, she just sort of minded her own business.”

“I can see that.” I nodded, although still I had an impression I had failed to properly answer his initial question. "What exactly is troubling you, Deepsy? Why bring negative attention to yourself so?"

"Well... I just kind of presumed we were here for a reason."

"Like... some manner of undercover detectives?" I blinked. "I hardly think I would be the most appropriate mare for such a task. My status hardly grants me subtlety. No, truthfully I have no ulterior motives to coming here."

If Deepsy had anything further to say, he did not do so as we were both blinded by a sharp and sudden flash of reflected sunlight. Indigo was some distance ahead of us, looking as though she was searching through the busy streets for somepony. After awhile, she caught sight of us and with a few light flaps of her wings soared over the crowd and set down to my right.

“The ponies here are very friendly,” she said, forming a nervous and uncomfortable grin. “They uhh...they were quite curious about you, Princess.”

“Ah yes, well, I imagine their curiosity won’t last too much longer once they realize that I am here to stay.”

I passed Indigo the third apple and we continued walking down the street in relative silence. By time we reached the boardwalk of Dusk Falls, the sky had already started to blend from its vivid blue to a more greyish prelude to the incoming twilight that Luna’s moon was bringing about. Like at dawn, I felt the same tingling in my horn, and I stopped walking the moment my hooves touched the wooden boardwalk.

The carousel and Ferris Wheel were not yet illuminated, and I watched with awestruck fascination as a small congregation of half a dozen unicorns began casting a magic spell which arched as a beam of light and struck the Ferris Wheel. The great wheel started to turn, and as it did it the steady hum of cogs began rising in volume. It was an interesting type of machine, for it would seem that upon magical activation it functioned on its lonesome without constant exposure to any sort of magical energy. Perhaps it was enchanted itself, which would certainly account for the bright and glowing colour starting to flow into the Ferris Wheel.

“Excuse me a moment,” I said in an off-hoof manner. The moment my guards spotted the tip of my horn alight with magic, they began signalling any nearby ponies to step back and give their princess space. I was thankful, for any interruption while I lowered the sun would be less than welcome.

The hulking sphere of flaming gas started its descent, its collision course with the distant waves rippling on the horizon engaged. Nearly every single pony on the boardwalk instantly stopped what they were doing and watched, and even through my intense focus I could see them all gasping in wonder and amazement. They’d undoubtedly seen the painting-worthy duet of the red sun and the waves, but never before had they watched the very cause of it standing amongst their presence and conducting the magnificent celestial dance.

The sun continued to sink. Over the trees, the moon began to rise. The lights of the boardwalk were now almost fully illuminated in the crepuscular half-light, and slowly ponies resumed their business as I lowered my head and my horn and let my magic dwindle away.

As if nothing at all had just happened, I continued walking into the heart of Dusk Falls’ nightlife. A band was playing a joyous song as the same vibrant neon lights on the Ferris Wheel also started to illuminate elsewhere down the boardwalk.

A certain stand caught my eye, and playfully I trotted over and lifted an enormous light pink sun-hat onto my head. Vibrant peacock feathers jutted from the back of the wide brim, and without even bothering to look in the mirror mounted beside the stand I knew I must have looked the perfect balance of playful and regal.

“How many bits for this marvelous hat?” I asked the griffin operating the stand.

“Princess Celestia!” she exclaimed, taking notice of me for the first time. “Oh my goodness! Asking about my hats! I can’t charge the Equestrian Princess of the Sun for such a petty, talon-made—”

“Here’s thirty bits,” I said, ignoring the sign asking for twenty and dropping the respective amount in front of the shell-shocked griffin.

I continued walking with the hat perched atop my head, and not a minute after I had left the stand did I feel a sudden wave of exhaustion overcome me. I realized that I hadn’t slept for more than thirty hours, and was running on nothing more than half a cup of coffee and some Earl Grey tea. The time must already have been almost eight o’clock, and although I was used to staying up quite late I had an overwhelming urge to be back at Pink Sunset and asleep.

“I’m an alicorn princess and the bringer of light and day,” I joked through a yawn, “And yet I’m presently losing a battle against sleep deprivation.”

The best I received was an awkward laugh from Indigo, so I yawned again and gave my wings a quick ruffle. “My apologies, but I think I’ll be flying home,” I said, and then narrowed my eyes at Indigo and Deepsy...or, really, only Deepsy. “Flying home, alone. I’ll see you two tomorrow.”

Without further ado, I took off into the cooling summer twilight and left the neon lights and staring ponies behind. I traced the boardwalk to the street, and the street to the path, and finally the path to Pink Sunset. I flew over the beach aflame with deep shades of red and orange, the Crimson Coast indeed. Like in the chariot, I soared past the lighthouse and eventually into Harmony Bay, where Pink Sunset was standing alone with her porchlight the only source of light amongst the lone pines and palms. The tide was higher than what I remembered it being when I had left, and as I spiraled down lower and lower I could hear the sound of seashells clinking against each other like wine glasses underneath the raised porch of the house.

“Day one down. Three hundred and sixty four to go.”