• Published 17th Jul 2016
  • 11,432 Views, 177 Comments

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.

  • ...

Chapter Three: Hope

It was getting worse.

It was getting much, much worse. I was losing my composure, I was losing my sanity. Every day, the burning circle on my neck boiled like a searing blister, a blazing fire on my flesh. The darksign knew that I was without hope, without purpose, and it punished me for it.

This morning, I had not awoken as I usually had, lying about on the stone floor. When I came to, my hands were clawing against the walls, a low snarl erupting from my throat. I had been scraping at the stone with my fingers, and they bled. I felt pain now, but it was nothing to the worry, the absolute fear I bore within my heart.

Any day now, I would lose my sanity. I was afraid, afraid for my life and myself. I had thrown myself into a corner of my cell and covered my face with my hands, clutching at my head like a crazed madman.

That was what I would become soon enough, was it not? A ravenous hollow, a creature of dark. I could already feel my flesh thinning, my strength waning. I was truly terrified, and I knew not when I would last know my own mind.

And it had happened again—several times in fact. I could count on more than one hand the amount of times I lost my mind, if only for a brief moment. It was only fortunate that the equine guards did not patrol this quarter of the dungeon, for I was sure that they would have put me down like an animal if they had witnessed it.

Now, I was curled up on my pitiful excuse for bedding, desperately clutching at my head with my two hands. My mind reeled, twirling through the excesses of my memories in a frantic attempt to hold onto my self. What was I, who had I been? Before I was an Abyss Watcher, before I was an accursed undead, who had I been? Maybe, just maybe, if I could remember, then perhaps I would not hollow so soon.

I remembered threads and laces, tiny bits of cerebrum that defined who I was. I recollected a town, a village, deep within the heart of a nation. Blue, dragons, a golden crest. Nobles, knights, a warrior’s breast. Where had it been? What had it been called?

“Where—where had I lived?” I stuttered incorrigibly, my eyes darting back and forth as I struggled to recollect. “Ast—Astora, maybe. That’s a—that’s a name, right? A familiar one?”

Astora, a name, a possible home. A grand city in the far distance, ruled by highborn nobles. Home to marvelous grandeur, hearth to noble knights. It was no wonder that I had been brought up on such magnificent tales of legend. Yet, the nation was failing, having already fallen in the past to unknown curse and indefinite disease. It was not the grand country as it had once been, and it would never be so again. A distant memory of a fond home.

Crying in excitement, I pulled harder at the threads of my mind, my clutch on my knees turning my flesh white. My mouth was stretched wide, a brazen smile or assaulted frown I did not know. “What else, what else... a job? Pages, books, messages—I was a page!” I lurched onto my side, my hands scrabbling at the cold ground as I struggled to catch myself.

What else was there, hiding in the depths of my cognizance? A job, a title—perhaps as a boy. I was a page once, I knew that much, and I had elevated myself even higher, an aid to a knight.

“What had they called me?” I muttered, sitting back up. “A squirrel, a squint—a squire! That—that was what I had been, a squire under a knight! Bearing his shield, his armor, his arms! Magnificent blue, golden cloth upon plate!” A pained, yet elated grunt emerged from between my lips, my teeth clenched in furious concentration.

I had commonly visited a blacksmith, the only one of my town. He had been a kind man, and was the only one I trusted with my master’s equipment. There was another, however, a grizzled veteran of smithing. White hair, a bare, muscled chest. What had they called him? I did not recollect. But a name floated somewhere within, the two blacksmiths having called me by it.

‘Prithee, Quinn, you’re hitting the boy’s sword too hard with that hammer. Loosen up a bit, and throw a bit of titanite in there, too.’

‘I know what I’m doing, old man. I’ve repaired this sword often enough. Roland seems to trust only me with his knight’s weapons.’

Roland? Quite possibly my name, and a small grin crept across my mouth. It was a start, and I would use it. There was nothing else on hand, and I wouldn’t want Luna to call me “watcher” or “undead,” as it was. I would have to tell Luna my name—I was sure she would be elated!

And that brought my mind back to her. My only companion through the past few days, my only connection to the outside world. I knew her somewhat well, and we had shared stories in the night. She had visited thrice before, excluding her first foray into the depths of my dungeon, and I had come to enjoy her stays. Luna was a pleasant sort and, quite possibly, was the only reason I hadn’t hollowed yet.

My desperate struggles to remember my past, my near incoherent babbles in clawing through the depths of my mind, did nothing to stave off the darksign. I had to give myself a purpose, where there was none—and I knew that I would not last much longer. Yet, every time Luna visited, I could feel the darkness ebbing away, its smoky tendrils lifting from my mind, if only for a brief while. Even now, the mere thought of the princess gave me a slightly more lucid mind, and a warm feeling in my breast.

She was a friend, I knew, and friends were seldom found in the horrific realms marred by the fading of light, the dying of fire. I had many friends once, within the ranks of the Abyss Watchers. That, accompanied with our goals, our purpose, allowed us to survive the hold the darksign bore on us.

We had talked about much, during her visits. She had told me a bountiful amount of the outside world. Equestria, as it was called—a land of ponies, a land of magic. In her own words, it was a wonderful world, with adventure lying in wait around every corner. Stories of her sister and herself were plentiful, as well as of the modern happenings of the world. Politics, culture, the ever-growing bounds of the greatest cities of the land. It was clear Luna loved her realm, and she loved her sister.

How very quaint.

Yet, it was also clear that Luna did not feel completely at ease. The tone of her voice, upon every detail of Equestria, carried with it a certain bound of solitude and uncertainty. Her stories of her sister, Celestia, were marred by inflections of doubt and anxiety. What the issue was, I did not know, and I was not privy to any information. I did not want to prod.

I did not know when Luna would visit next. Perhaps it would be tonight. Maybe tomorrow. Or, perchance, she would not return, at least for a while, and her next stop in the dungeons would greet her with a mutilated husk of a man, insane and mad and lost of his will.

I just prayed it wouldn’t be the latter.

I was stirred from my torrid slumber by a warm feeling, growing closer by the second. Oily wisps of dark retreated from my mind, disappearing from my nightmares. She was coming, I knew, and I sat up, waiting for her arrival.

After several moments of silence, the sounds of hooves were audible, low clip-clops echoing throughout the dungeon. I watched as Luna rounded the corner, finally visible from my cell. A small smile was upon her face, and she herself looked rather eager. Coming to a stop before my cell, Luna nodded her head.

“Hello, dear Watcher.” Watcher—I had told Luna to call me by that name, until I could remember my own. It was fortunate that I could finally share my name. “Enjoying my night?”

I shrugged, tilting my head. “As much as I could whilst asleep. Though, I was not sure you would come at all.”

“What, and miss our conversations?” she replied, a hint of amusement in her voice. The horn upon her head began to glow with an ethereal light, and my cell’s door opened. Luna walked in and sat down opposite me. “Not at all. Though, I have been quite busy these past few days.”

My interest was piqued. “May I ask with what, Luna?” I queried.

“Nothing you should worry yourself with,” Luna said, shaking her head. Her ears perked towards me in attention. “How have you been yourself?”

I chuckled grimly, spreading my arms and motioning around my cell. “Oh, you know. Rotting in this cell. Sleeping. Counting the cracks in the ceiling. It’s been rather alright.” My brows furrowed, and I frowned.

Luna, for her part, looked apologetic, matching my frown with her own. “And I am sorry, Watcher. I’d hope you haven’t been too lonely?”

“You are one of two companions of mine these days, Luna. I could warrant loneliness is the other.”

Nodding her head glumly, Luna looked away. I felt somewhat ashamed of myself, scolding my mind for such harsh words. Reaching a hand out, I laid it upon one of her forehooves.

“I remembered my name.” I told her, and watched as her ears pricked to attention, her eyes widening when she looked back up at me.

“You did?” Luna asked with wonder, her ears slowly swiveling towards me. “May I ask what your name is, then?”

I gave a chuckle, taking a moment to cross my legs. “At least, I think it is my name. I do not remember very clearly, but I presume that my name is Roland.”

Luna whinnied in excitement, clapping her hooves rapidly. “This is wonderful! Oh, happy day!” Her eyes were closed, and her mouth was curled into a smile as she clapped. It looked rather adorable, though I was immediately ashamed of my thoughts.

After a moment, however, Luna took on a perplexed expression, an eyebrow raised as she tilted her head. “Though, I cannot say that name is a familiar one. ‘Roland,’ I have never heard anything like it.”

“I can say the same for your ponies’ naming habits. The captain of the guard you told me about—Shining Armor?” She nodded in affirmation. “What an odd name. As are the rest that you told me of.”

We laughed in unison, our voices echoing throughout the dungeons. It was clear that I enjoyed my time with Luna, and we continued to converse throughout that night. Our time together passed quickly, however—much too quickly for my liking. Several hours later, the moon had begun to fall, brought down by Luna’s own magic. The sun had risen, high and mighty in the blue sky. Yet, it only felt like minutes.

“Now Roland,” Luna said, rising from her seat on the ground. “It is time that I make my leave. Do take care of yourself without me.”

“Always,” I replied, happy with our talks yet disappointed that she was leaving. “When will you visit next?”

Luna shook her head, a smile upon her face. “I do not know. But, I do know that my next visit will be my last.”

Instantly, I took a concerned expression, though I tried to hide it. “What? May I ask why, Luna?”

She backed out of my cell, a rather mischievous expression upon her. “Your time in this dungeon grows short, Roland. Your imprisonment will not last much longer. Soon enough, I will be able to show you Equestria as it really is, and more than through words.”

I watched as Luna left, her form disappearing around the corner. I wondered what she meant, confused, yet I was also hopeful.

Author's Note:

The last of the "introductory" chapters. After this one, we'll be getting right into the thick of things. Consequently, the chapters will be getting longer.

Hope you guys enjoyed!