• Published 30th Jul 2016
  • 3,139 Views, 69 Comments

The Night Mare's Guard - Shadow Quill

The Changelings haven't been sitting idle the three years they haved been gone. Now they're back and better than ever, with their sights set squarely on the alicorns of Equestria. One dark mare, shrowded in mystery, sits right in the crosshairs.

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10 The Grand Galloping Gala

The next two weeks passed in both a blinding blur and a stagnant crawl. Luna was still acting cold towards me, and barely spoke with me other than to provide instructions or directions during her experiments. I knew that she was still upset over the argument we had before, but I was beginning to wonder if there was any way to patch up the budding bond we had before my monumental blunder. Well, we were about to find out, because the Gala was tonight, and if all went well, Twilight and her little group would be singing a very special song for the Princess of the Night.

We stood at the top of the main steps in the grand ballroom, Celestia, Twilight and Cadence standing together at the top as they greeted the nobles. Luna was next to me, a few steps behind the other princesses and definitely not in a very good mood. Her face was calm and smooth as stone, but I could tell by the slight twitch of her tail and the glances she kept sending the vast windows that she would rather be someplace else.

I had to stifle a yawn as the last noble couple left the steps, leaving the royals alone at the top save for myself and Twilight’s friends. Celestia stepped forward and spread her wings, the ponies below falling silent as they listened.

“I want to thank everypony for attending this year’s Grand Galloping Gala.” Her voice rang clear and pure over the amassed ponies, “Tonight we have a very special event planned for you all, and I dearly hope you enjoy what is in store.”

She nodded to Twilight, who stepped forward with her friends and spread her own wings, “For the last month, ponies from all over Equestria have been sending me letters, containing songs of their own creation that they wished to have presented here tonight. While there were many songs that we thought were amazing, three stood out above the rest.” In typical Twilight style, she pulled out a list in her lavender magic, reading it off as Rainbow Dash and Applejack rolled their eyes, “In third place, we would like to congratulate Archmage Seal Breaker for his eloquent and profound piece, A Single Word.”

I looked out over the assembled ponies and spotted the aforementioned Archmage, his deep brown fur accented by his bright green mane and piercing grey eyes. He nodded his head to the Princess of Friendship, the others stomping their hooves politely as attention was returned to the purple alicorn.

“In second place,” Twilight continued, “we have Grazioso Cadenza, written by Canterlot’s very own Octavia Melody.”

This time the response was much stronger, ponies stomping and even whistling as a dark grey mare with a black mane blushed and hid behind the familiar Vinyl Scratch. It took a moment for the noise to calm down, but as silence fell over the ballroom everypony waited on baited breath. Everypony wanted to hear who got first place, and what kind of song could outshine even the renowned concert cellist.
Twilight smiled as she shared a glance over her shoulder with her friends, “In first place, we have a song that comes from one of Canterlot’s most elite. In dedication to Princess Luna, it is my honor to announce that Captain Silver Shield, with his creative and inspiring piece Moonlight Day, is our contest champion.” She glanced over her shoulder at me with a knowing smirk, “My friends and I will be singing his song for all of you tonight, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.”

I stayed perfectly still as the eyes of everypony present turned to me, including the burning gaze of a certain alicorn, whose shock and uncertainty washed over my like the tide as Twilight and her friends took to the stage that had been erected on the right side of the room.

Luna leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Why didn’t you tell me about this?”

I smirked as I responded, keeping my eyes locked on the six ponies standing center stage, “Because it wouldn’t have been a surprise if I had. Now hush, they’re about to start.”

She was either too shocked or too preoccupied to reprimand me for my language, but I could feel the curiosity coming off of her like fireworks as the lights dimmed. A moment later six spotlights fell onto Twilight and the others, casting them into stark relief as a powerful and yet whimsical instrumental began. I had no idea where the music was coming from, but I figured it didn’t matter, so long as it kept going as it was. The lively brass melded well with the more smooth woodwinds, creating an almost dreamlike atmosphere as Twilight stepped forward.

I can see you now, standing over there
Your heart is full of hope and nothing can compare
Shake off those darkened dreams, because you are the one
The one and only pony, who has faced her fears and won

The beat picked up as her voice rang through the hall, the others picking up the chorus and echoing her cry as the music took flight.

This is for you, (Yeah) stand up and sing now
Take your place now, and give a royal bow
We know you feel the pain, of making past mistakes
But tonight, you fly, under a starlit moonlight day
(You fly-y-y)
Under a moonlight day
(You fly-y-y)

Twilight stepped back, swaying to the beat as Rainbow Dash flew up and over the crowd, singing and smiling like a filly as she did loops and barrel rolls.

You once made ponies, feel so strong and proud
Your sky lit up our dreams, whenever you’re around
Now you’re here again, standing tall and bright
With ponies who want to be your friends, and bring you to the light

Right as she got to the end of her solo, she flew up to Luna, giving a crisp salute before flying back to the stage. The group picked up the chorus together, their voices ringing through the air as ponies began to sway and dance to the beat. I even caught Cadence and Celestia tapping their hooves as they threw knowing looks my way.

This is for you, yeah, stand up and sing now
Take your place now, and give a royal bow
We know you feel the pain, of making past mistakes
But tonight, you fly, under a starlit moonlight day
You fly-y-y
Under a moonlight day
You fly-y-y

At that moment Pinkie Pie did a flying jump right to the edge of the stage, her body bent over backwards as she did mind-bending acrobatics. And yet she never lost the words, singing in a rap version of my song that even I never saw coming.

So don't let anypony, tell you that you’re wrong
And don't let anypony, break your heartbeat song
Yeah there’s days when we might feel down, and need some time alone
But the truth is that you have all of us here, to brighten your gemstone

Pinkie finished her breakneck rap with a triple backflip, landing right next to Applejack as Rarity stepped forward. Her voice was a crisp and bright light as her melody floated through the air, and I was beginning to wonder if this was even my song anymore, so moved was I by the adaptation of the lyrics into something much more than the original.

So don't ever be ashamed, to wear your crown of gold
You're the light of the night to all of us, you’re the star of every show
You glow like the moon and the stars, in the brightest midnight sky
This is for you, trust who you are, don’t ever say goodbye

This time, instead of all of them singing the chorus, Applejack took up the mantle and sang it in her kind southern drawl, the others backing her up as she performed a one-pony square dance. Her eyes were closed as she spun around, flipping her hat into the air and letting it land right back on her head as she finished.

This is for you, (Yeah) stand up and sing now
Take yer place now, and give a royal bow
We know you feel the pain, of making past mistakes
But tonight, you fly, under a starlit moonlight day
(You fly-y-y)
Under a moonlight day
(You fly-y-y)

The music changed key and I felt my wings stirring as the beat picked up. I could have sworn that I was flying through the moonlight with them as the song carried me away. I was almost too enraptured to notice the emotions coming off of Luna, but as I paused a moment to look at her I nearly fell over.

Luna had tears rolling down her face as the six mares sang the chorus once more, her eyes so full of emotion that I couldn’t begin to place them all. Any yet, under all of them, there was one that stood out from the rest, one so powerful that it nearly knocked me over as I tuned into it. It was tranquility, like her heart and soul had soothed from a tortured tempest to a serene lake. In that instant I realized that my song had done something unbelievable. It had allowed Luna to accept her past, and maybe even embrace the present.

Twilight and company paused as the music wound down to a soft melody, their voices filled with joy as they stood together for the final lines,

You shine like the moon and the stars, don’t ever fade away
We love you, Princess Luna, don’t let your heart give way

As the lights slowly came back to their regular brightness, the entire ballroom was silent. Then, it erupted in cheers and whistles as ponies on every side turned to face Luna and me. I felt suddenly self-conscious as masses of ponies began to crowd around us, asking questions and pressing against me like a howling gale.

I sent a pleading look towards Luna, who was having a similar problem, and she nodded before her horn began to glow. In a flash of blue light my stomach turned itself inside out, only for the world to swim back into place as my vision cleared. I grunted as I stumbled slightly, feeling a steady flank press against my own as I got my bearings back.

“Forgive me for not preparing you,” Luna said as I stood up fully, “teleportation can be rough the first several times on ponies who aren’t used to it.”

I shook my head to clear the last of the spots from my vision, seeing that we were now standing in front of the doors that led to Luna’s chambers, “So it would seem. May I ask why you brought us here?”

She looked away and I felt a quick surge of embarrassment as her cheeks flushed purple, “In all honesty I was thinking that we might hide here for the rest of the night. If only to avoid the new fans you seem to have acquired.”

I smiled as I rested a wing on her flank, “Do I need to hide from you as well?”

She looked back at me with one eyebrow raised, although after a moment understanding crossed her features, “Oh you have no need to worry about me. I greatly enjoyed your song, but I won’t go about chasing you through the halls asking for your autograph.” She got a cheeky grin on her lips as she leaned down to meet my gaze, “Why? Does my faithful Captain want to be chased around by a fanfilly version of his princess?”

I shuddered at the mental image, “No thank you Luna. I’d rather you send me back to the ballroom then deal with that.”

She nodded, the smile never leaving her face as she opened her door, “Then I suggest you come in before said ponies find us. I would hate to lose my favorite Shadow Sword to a mob of adoring fans.”

“I’m your only Shadow Sword,” I reminded her as I walked in, the door closing behind me.

“But that makes the title so much easier to earn,” she countered as she climbed into her bed and lay down with her legs neatly curled under her chest, “after all, it’s not everypony who gets to spend time with me in my personal chambers.”

I nodded, conceding the point, “Hey, Luna?” I asked, “May I ask you something?”

She seemed to sense the change in mood, her face becoming more somber as she locked her gaze with mine, “You seem to have something weighing on your mind. What is it you wish to ask?”

I paused, hoping I wasn’t making another massive mistake, “Can you forgive me for what I said the last time we spoke?”

Her eyes narrowed in confusion, “To what do you refer?”

I swallowed, knowing that once I said my next words, everything could either fall into place, or fall apart, “The things I said that night two weeks ago,” I clarified, “the comment about your banishment in particular. I was stupid and said something I know I shouldn’t have. I made a huge mistake and pushed a wedge between us that hasn’t gone away until tonight. I want to know if you can forgive me for my foolish actions, and if you would consider letting me make it up to you.”

Her expression became thoughtful as she looked down at her sheets, “I understand that what you said was not meant in spite or anger, yet the pain it caused me was still very real. While I can forgive you for putting your hoof in your mouth, I cannot forget the pain it created so easily.” She lifted her gaze to meet mine again, “What would you do to make it up to me?”

My eyes lit up as I felt the sparks of our bond igniting into a small yet powerful flame once again. Gotcha. “I would like to take you on a picnic, if you would like to join me in the castle gardens once the Gala has come to an end.”

This was it, the moment I had been waiting for. Now if she would only take the bait.

She took a second to think, although if the flare in her emotions were anything to go by, I already knew her answer. She smiled softly as she nodded, her eyes shining with happiness as she looked at me, “I would be delighted. Where shall we meet?”

I nearly let out a sigh of relief, but managed to hold it in as I went through the possible places we could go. It had to be someplace private, so my actions would be hidden from any passing ponies, but still with the right atmosphere to work to my advantage.

“I think the clearing by the pond would be a nice place,” I said, “the trees would be beautiful under the moon, and the stars wouldn’t be hidden by the castle lights.”

Not to mention the castle guard don’t patrol that area. I added in my mind. It’s the perfect spot for an ambush.

Her face lit up and she nodded, “That sounds lovely. I shall meet you there after the castle has gone to sleep for the night. Will you be waiting for me when I get there?”

I smiled, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

I walked over to the door and checked to see if the coast was clear. When I saw that there wasn’t anypony nearby, I glanced over my shoulder and gave Luna a quick wave before slipping out the opening. I quickly made my way through the halls, using less traveled corridors to avoid the ponies that might be out this late. Luckily, I made it back to my quarters without incident, and locked the door behind me as I walked over to the chest against my wall.

I opened it and pulled out the Amulet, taking a moment to look it over before slipping it under a fold in my armor. It wasn’t visible to anypony and should be secure until I had a chance to use it. Like it or not, my mission was coming to a head at this picnic, and only fate knew if it would end in victory, or failure. I looked around the room one last time, taking in the simple furniture and slightly dusty shelves.

“Come tomorrow,” I mused to myself, “this will all be ours. I’ll be living in the royal suite with mother, and changelings will rule Equestria as we rightfully should.”

I opened the door and stepped back into the hallway, closing the door for the final time as I made my way to the castle kitchens. Hopefully they had something that would pass as picnic fare, at least for as long as it took to use the Amulet. There would be no room for mistakes, no second chances, and I could feel my mind racing at the thrill of a hunt nearing completion. This night, under the moonlight, Princess Luna would meet her doom.

Author's Note:

Dun, dun, duuunnnnn!!!!! Oh I love a good cliffhanger!!! Always gets readers pumped for the next chapter! Anyway, what did you guys think of my third original song? Did it pass muster or was it terrible? Anyway, let me know in the comment section what you though of the song and the chapter in general, and I'll be waiting for you there.
See you all next chapter,
Shadow Quill, Messenger of the Moon.