• Published 17th Jul 2016
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Shadows and Watchers - -SBRS

An Abyss Watcher is flung into Equestria after the Ashen One's secret betrayal. Finding someone to hold onto, he discovers new purpose under the guidance of the moon.

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Chapter Two: Visitor

I was rather surprised at how quickly it happened.

One moment, I had merely been thinking, pondering on what I was to do. The next, it seemed like I had briefly lost my mind. I do not recollect clearly what exactly I had done, but I “woke up” crawling along the ground, my mouth curled into a vicious snarl as my hands clutched the bars of my cell.

I was scared, to say the least. I did not realize that I would hollow so quickly, so soon, after I had lost purpose. It had not been the case when I had first become undead—it had taken weeks, months until the first laces of sanity were unwoven.

I do not know what prompted my brief bout of madness. Perhaps the darkness of my cell, my cold isolation, might have spurred it on. Or, perchance, my knowledge that I was in a completely different world, with creatures far beyond my realm of knowledge and belief, began my descent rather quickly.

Whatever it was, I was scared. Fearful, afraid for my own life and rationality. I had always prided myself on my mental prudence, but here I was, losing myself within days.

It had not happened again, to my knowledge. Many hours had passed since then, and a guard, armored in golden plate and mail, had even descended into my cell, bringing with him a platter of food for me. Old vegetables and stale bread, it had been, but I did not care. I had no need for food, not as an undead. Few things could truly sate my wants, my needs.

If only I still bore my treasured flask of estus.

The sun had fallen, my cell left with only a pleasant blue sheen for light, when I heard the clip-clop of hooves outside. Not the stomping hooves of a guard or soldier, but elegant little steps, subtle and quiet. It was as if my visitor did not want others to know they were coming. I was sat on my rump, my hands poking at the stale, molded bread before me, when she rounded the corner.

Before, when I had first seen her, she had looked rather plain, compared to her sister. The sun had been up then, but now, in the pale light of the moon and stars, she looked like a goddess for my salvation. Soft sapphires of blue and silver adorned her body, and her horn shone like a crystalline star. Her eyes glowed in the darkness, and I found myself drawn to her. Standing up, I walked as close as I could, placing a hand against the bars of my cell.

“What brings you here, princess?”

She was silent for a few moments, looking at me with a strange composition of emotions. Pity, for one, and curiosity for another. She looked a bit fearful, but appeared as though she was hiding it.

“Sit, please,” she spoke, her voice like a lovely wisp of nightly breezes. “I wish to speak with you, and I’d rather you be comfortable for our talk.”

For some unknown reason I followed her request, backing away and taking my usual seat on the cold stone beneath my feet. Crossing my legs, I held my hands together like an eager pupil. “Very well. What do you wish to speak about?”

She hesitated for a moment, before gently sitting on the ground on the other side of my cell. Her wings settled against her coat. “Many things. I hope you have the time?”

“I have nothing but time, princess,” I replied, spreading my arms wide. “Though, I’d rather not have to call you ‘princess’ every time. May I ask what you are called, your highness?”

“I am Luna,” she answered, a small smile upon her mouth. “Princess of the Moon and the Night.” She took a sorrowful expression. “I am sorry that you cannot remember your own name.”

I shook my head, waving my hands in dismissal. “It’s of no fault of your own. I’m sure I’ll remember in time,” I said. “So, Princess Luna of the Moon, how shall we begin? A question? Statement? A threat, perhaps?”

“I’d like to learn more about you,” Luna replied, leaning a tiny bit closer. “I have many questions, and I’d like to see them answered, if possible.”

“Go on, then. Ask your first.”

Luna sat quietly for several seconds, before looking back up at me. “Earlier, when my sister and I had come to talk to you. You had told my sister that you did not come from here. And that there were more of you.” Gesturing towards me with a hoof, she continued. “Where exactly do you come from? And why were there so many… undead?”

I did not answer at first, only chuckling darkly. “That, in and of itself, Princess Luna, is a long, long story,” I finally said, leaning back on my hands. “Suffice to say, things are not good back home. Would you like to hear my story?”

Luna nodded eagerly, looking almost like a dog asking for crumbs from a dinner table. “Yes, if you’d like!” She caught herself, though, coughing lightly before reassuming her regal visage. “I mean, yes. I’d like to hear this story of yours.”

“Very well,” I looked up, taking a deep breath. “Prepare yourself. This may take a while.”

And thus, I told her of my world, of my home. I told Luna of legends, of tales that I, as a young man, praised and followed like a moth to a flame. The nations, the kingdoms, the men that molded great, legendary empires that spanned the entire globe. A king who had conquered a continent with his holy crown, of scholars who channeled entire archives to better others’ lives. I told her of myself, a young man, searching eagerly for his place in the wide, wonderful world.

But then, it had all gone wrong. I told Luna of the gods, of the Lord’s own sin. I told her of the lie, the lie that had brought down millennia of civilization, that which had fooled man. Like a bear caught in a trap, we had fallen for the gods’ falsehoods, perpetuated their pitiful Age of Fire. I told my hostess of the Abyss and the Abyss Watchers, my brothers. How we burned kingdoms down to prevent the spread of dark, how we, as undead, found our purpose. How, without it, we would have hollowed, gone insane, killed ourselves off like pawns in the gods’ games.

Finally, I told Luna of my brothers’ and mine suffering. We burned for the lie, ignorant of our fool’s errands. We screamed, we pained, and when we arose, to sate the lie once more, we were hollowed, killing each other in a deadly massacre.

By the end of it all, a cool morning light had begun to sift in from my window. Day had come, the sun rising. I had not seen the sun in a long time, but I felt warm, pleased. Perhaps it was the sun’s warmth, stronger than it had ever been back home.

Or maybe it was just the relief I felt, having opened my mind to another being who cared. I had not opened my heart yet, if it still existed. But maybe that was still to come.

Luna looked at me with solemn eyes, a hint of moisture patterning her irises. She made to speak. A relief, since my throat was parched, my tongue dry.

“What will you do now?” she asked, holding a hesitant hoof out towards me.

I looked away, having long lost my dry demeanor. “I don’t know. I find myself wanting in this new land. But,” I trailed off, angling my sight out the window. “I just know that, without a purpose, I will hollow soon. I will lose my mind, and then I will be truly lost. Perhaps, I’ll need to find something to do here, if I’m ever let out.”

The princess merely nodded, before rising to her hooves. “Keep hope, my friend. I think there is hope for you yet.” She turned away from me. “I must take my leave now. I’m afraid my sister will call for me, and I may have neglected my own duties in speaking with you.” She bowed her head. “It has been a pleasure.”

Once more, I was left in my cell’s darkness, with only the sun’s light to comfort me. Laying down on my back, I closed my eyes.

“I could say the same, princess.”

Princess Luna walked at a brisk pace through the Royal Palace, her silver heels clicking elegantly upon the marble floor. She could feel the eyes of her guards on her, watching for her safety, yet Luna did not feel at all at ease.

She had learned much from the undead, as he had called himself. Very little of it was pleasing, and very much of it disturbed her. His world had quite literally ended, yet here he was, aimless in nature. Luna was disgusted, fearful, at even the prospect of such a world, but she felt immense pity for the undead.

Luna was unsure of what she would do. On one hand, it would be quite easy to ignore the problem, the dilemma, altogether. Yet, that was not what she stood for! Since the beginning of time, Luna had urged for the safety and protection of her and her sisters’ little ponies, wanting only for their love and appreciation. She had made a mistake once, and she would not make it again.

But the undead, Luna felt, deserved more than mere pity. She would help him, Luna decided. But how? That was the issue, indeed. Luna was not sure her sister would agree with her own judgements. Celestia was wary, the safety of her subjects and her kingdom always at the forefront of her mind. Their talk the other night had only cemented Luna’s belief that Celestia did not trust the undead, not for one second. It was likely her sister would deeply disapprove of her visit in the dead of night.

“Luna!” Speak of the devil, Luna groaned in frustration. Turning around, she came face to face with her sister, the Princess of the Sun.

“Yes, sister?” Luna asked, smiling lightly. “What do you need?”

Stepping closer, Celestia approached Luna with a concerned expression. “Luna, where have you been? The Night Court was without a princess, and I could not find you anywhere in the castle!”

Luna scoffed, rolling her eyes. “Oh, the Night Court. Celestia, there are never any ponies looking for assistance. It wouldn’t have mattered, if I were there or not.”

Sighing deeply, Celestia placed a hoof upon her forehead. “That doesn’t matter, Luna. What if somepony had come? They would have arrived with no princess in sight, no help at hand!” Moving her hoof to Luna’s shoulder, Celestia leaned in. “Where were you, anyways? You weren’t in your quarters, or in the garden, or on the balcony—“

“I talked to the prisoner, sister,” Luna interrupted, grasping Celestia’s hoof with her own. Gently, she removed it from her shoulder, though did not let go. “I was curious, and I wanted to learn more.”

Surprised, Celestia leaned her head back, an expression of disbelief upon her face. “Talked? To our prisoner, the undead?” Luna nodded. “What for, Luna? I told you, I do not trust him. Equestria doesn’t need an undead crisis on its hooves. We’ve had enough trouble as it is within these last few years!”

“And it won’t,” Luna reassured her, taking a step backwards. “I learned much from the undead, and I can safely say he won’t be a problem. But, I must ask something of you, Tia.”

Celestia took a deep breath, closing her eyes before finally nodding. “Okay. For you, Lulu. What do you need?”

“The undead will need a purpose. That is for a reason that I may tell you in time, but he will need something to do,” Luna answered, smiling at Celestia. “I will talk to him a bit more, and I will decide what to make of it. But, Celestia, you must promise me, allow me to take him in if I decide to.”

“Take him in?” Celestia questioned, tilting her head in confusion. “What for? What will he do?”

Shaking her head, Luna frowned. “I do not know yet. Perhaps as a guard, or something. He was a member of a band of formidable fighters in his own world, perhaps we can make use of him here.”

Princess Celestia did not answer for several long seconds, contemplating her decision. After what seemed like an eternity to Luna, she finally nodded, giving Luna a warm smile.

“Very well, sister. I’ll trust your judgement. I don’t understand why you feel this way, but I’ll trust you.”

Elated, Luna broke out into a wide smile, standing on the tips of her hooves. “Oh, thank you, Celestia. I promise you, this isn’t a mistake.”

“But Luna,” Celestia warned, narrowing her eyes. “If this goes bad, we will need to stomp it out quickly. I don’t want to burden the Elements with even more work, so we will need to take matters into our own hooves.”

Nodding solemnly, Celestia left, leaving Luna to her own thoughts.