• Published 30th Aug 2015
  • 1,111 Views, 59 Comments

Do Not Go Gentle - ShinigamiDad

Death's Harbinger needs Luna and Twilight's help to solve a centuries-old mystery

  • ...

Sins of the Father

Luna was speaking to a young pegasus filly, when her eyes fluttered shut for a moment, and the air was filled with the sound of rushing wind. An ominous form swirled into view.

The little gold-colored pegasus’ eyes went wide, and she flew off in a panic, as Luna regained her bearings.

“Sorry,” Reaper said as he materialized next to her, and took a step sideways, sinking slightly into the cloud on which they were standing.

“Please stop doing that!” Luna said crossly, fanning her wings in order to regain her balance.

“I didn’t expect you to be in Cloudsdale,” Reaper explained. “I figured I’d just pop back into Fillydelphia without too much disruption. Obviously I had to tug a little harder to catch up with you.”

Luna glared: “Yes, scaring poor little Sun Sprite witless in the process! There’s another upcoming nightmare I shall have to deal with!”

Reaper shrugged apologetically: “Again, sorry. So why are you in Cloudsdale? Did the Fillydelphia trail go cold, or what?”

“Not exactly,” Luna replied, lifting off, and gracefully swooping down toward a colonnaded structure below.

Reaper appeared on the small temple’s steps moments before Luna landed.

“I assume you are familiar with the various grim statues and shrines to Nightmare Moon scattered throughout Equestria,” Luna said, looking up at a bas-relief sculpture of herself, carved into the temple’s frieze.

“Sure,” Reaper replied, “they’re historically some of the more common locations I’ve had to visit to collect ponies who meet violent ends.”

Luna’s ears drooped: “I know. I have seen many a dream of murder or suicide centered on these shrines. It is another part of my dark legacy I must repair.”

Reaper nodded solemnly: “So why are we at this one?”

“When you left to rejoin Twilight,” Luna explained, sitting on the shrine’s cracked and stained steps, “I began checking every dark corner of Fillydelphia I could recall, looking for traces of Grey Thorn, in order to either track him or thwart him, as needs be.”

Reaper walked up the steps past Luna, and began looking closely at the various dark vines and cracks lacing the shrine’s columns.

Luna gazed out over the dreamscape Cloudsdale, and continued: “I ended up at the city’s main statue to Nightmare Moon, and noticed many ponies in distress, clearly in the midst of unsettled or frightening dreams.”

Reaper quietly unsheathed his blade, and began tentatively poking at a vine.

Luna closed her eyes: “I swept the area with a bright light, in an attempt to lift the mood, when I noticed a vapor or fog, clinging to the base of the statue, that resisted the light for a moment. As I moved closer, it shrank away, into the shadows beneath the sculpture, and disappeared.”

She stood and looked around for Reaper: “There you are! What are you doing?”

He shifted the glow of his horn to a deep, almost black, purple glow, and scraped his blade along the length of a vine: “What are these vines? Are they an artifact of your dark period, or just part of the dreamscape, or…?”

Luna peered closely at the vine, which was now becoming thinner by the second. It vanished entirely as she came closer.

“Those vines are not mine,” she said. “You have no discernible impact on creations within the dreamscape, and yet clearly you had an effect on that tendril.”

Reaper nodded: “Then it completed vanished as you closed in.”

He straightened up, sheathed his sword, and said, “Finish your story. What happened after the incident with the sculpture?”

Luna nodded: “Yes--in Fillydelphia. I watched the vapor or shadow shrink away, and saw a dark patch in the sky for a moment, blotting out some stars. It reminded me, again, of the Tantabus, and I was determine to follow it to its source. I have stopped by several shrines this night, ending here in Cloudsdale.”

Reaper chewed his bottom lip: “Do you think he’s been using these shrines and sculptures as bases?”

Luna furrowed her brow: “I’m unsure. He may have simply been using them as jumping-off spots--locations from which he could quickly and consistently navigate the dreamscape.”

Reaper walked to the bottom of the shrine’s steps: “In any event, I think you’ve sussed out the method for hunting him. We just need to patrol a circuit of the remaining shrines, and we should be able to at least keep abreast of his actions.”

“Agreed,” Luna said, as she joined him at the shrine’s base. “Now what of your time with Twilight? Have her studies been fruitful?”

“Maybe,” Reaper said as he kicked a fragment of masonry off the edge into the clouds below. “She thinks Grey Thorn may have been the child of Pale Rose and some unidentified stallion from the Greensward clan.”

“Hmm,” Luna mused, narrowing her eyes as she peered into her memories, “Greensward. I recall Pale Rose having several, shall we say, active dreams involving a stallion named Verdant Grove.”

“Do we need to grab Twilight and head back to your dream quarters to do some group research?” Reaper asked.

“I think not,” Luna replied. “Taking her Verdant Grove’s name should be sufficient for now. Do you recall his death vision?”

Reaper tapped his chin for a moment: “Yes. I don’t remember it being notable: a vision of his father…”

“His father?” Luna repeated. “High Heath?”

Reaper nodded: “Yes. Why?”

“Did High Heath precede his son in death?”

Reaper furrowed his brow: “No--actually he didn’t. Give me a minute to run through his death vision…”

He peered into the distance and faded slightly, as Luna closed her eyes again, bringing up her own memories. They both opened their eyes at the same time with matching looks of surprise.

Luna spoke first: “He raped her!”

“That’s certainly the way it looks from my side,” Reaper concurred. “I don’t think Verdant Grove was the father--it must have been High Heath!”

Luna nodded.

“So Pale Rose’s active dreams of Verdant…?” Reaper queried.

Luna took a deep breath and composed her thoughts for a moment: “Many were undoubtedly true fantasies of Verdant, but those final, rougher visions, must have been her compensating for the reality of High Heath’s involvement.”

Reaper sighed: “There’s likely no good way to know this far removed from the times involved, which stallion was the true father, but I suspect neither one wanted Rose pregnant.”

“Not given the acrimony between those two families, no,” Luna said.

“Well,” Reaper said, “I’m pretty sure Twilight will find all this interesting. I wonder if she’s found any corroborating evidence.”

Luna turned back toward the shrine, passing a beam of bright, sky-blue light across it like a stream of water, searing away the remnants of dark vines: “Undoubtedly, though I’m not sure how this helps us in the here-and-now.”

Reaper shrugged: “Who knows? She seems like a bright kid--I’d like to give her every bit of information we can. Where do you plan to go next?”

Luna pondered for a moment, paying particular attention to the carvings above the shrine’s opening: “I have not been to Appleloosa in several days. I will go there now.”

Reaper grimaced: “I recall some particularly grisly deaths associated with the Nightmare Moon statue there.”

Luna took a deep breath: “And the attendant darkness that lingers there to this day must be especially enticing to our quarry.”

“True. Well, I’ll catch up to you as soon as I can. Good hunting!” Reaper faded away, leaving a faint afterglow from his horn.

Luna stood for a moment, regarding her image in the stone, tipping her head sideways, scouring away the last traces of vine. The beam of magic intensified for an instant as Luna leaned closer, focusing on Nightmare Moon’s form, then it went out. She stepped back, nostrils flared, and took flight, leaving the carvings intact.