• Published 30th Jul 2016
  • 3,135 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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17 The Final Battle

The sound of rapidly retreating hoofsteps met my ears as I turned back to face Chrysalis, the lightning that arced along my body discharging into the ground between us in white-hot bursts. My horn lit up with magic and I teleported both of us a fair distance from Celestia’s body, given I wanted to leave her remains as intact as possible for her funeral. Chrysalis didn’t even flinch at the sudden shift in scenery, although her eyes did flash with an unknown emotion as she glanced towards the fallen princess.

“Such a waste of power.” She muttered as she turned back to me, “You use your limited reserves to save the body of a dead pony from harm, even when you know that you need every ounce of magic against me. Truly a pitiful sentiment.”

“You wouldn’t understand the meaning of my actions,” I growled as I fell into a fighting stance, “because you have no heart with which to care for anypony other than yourself.”

Her eyes narrowed as the Amulet activated, “I have my children to think about, just as you once did as my son. Now you fight to protect those who are beneath us, going so far as to revoke your birthright and throw your lot in with those who are meant to serve as our food. You are no longer a changeling, but you will be subject to changeling law. As Empress of Equestria, you are sentenced to death for high treason, with the added punishment of having all of your magic drained for my use.”

I felt a tug on my magic as the Amulet began to spin, and I did the only thing I could think of to stop the drain. I took all of my magic and pushed it into the ground beneath my hooves, creating a massive spell seal that glowed ice blue. It quickly grew until the edge vanished over the horizon, and I grinned as the pull on my magic stopped.

Chrysalis’ eyes widened in shock, “No! It’s not possible! Nopony can stop the Amulet from draining their magic! Not even Celestia could keep it from taking her power!”

“But that’s the trick,” I replied as I walked forward, “the Amulet takes magic from living beings and gives that power to its wielder. My body is devoid of magic so there is nothing for the Amulet to take. Yet,” I let some of my power flow back into my body, teleporting behind Chrysalis and blasting her between her wings with a charge of magic, “I can call upon my magic at will, meaning you can’t steal my power and I can still fight at full strength.”

She roared in fury as she spun around, “Simple tricks that will do you no good. I will have your horn on my wall, magic or no magic.”

With that the battle truly began. She let loose a massive blast of dark blue magic, marking it as Luna’s, forcing me to jump out of the way before the deadly stream could hit me. I called upon a portion of my own power and sent it towards her as several ethereal swords. She threw up a shield and deflected them while sending several of her own back at me, forcing me to throw up a shield of my own.

Back and forth we dueled, power charging the air like a thunderstorm as attacks and shields were created and destroyed in rapid succession. Yet it seemed that we were holding in a steady draw, neither of us able to get the upper hoof on the other. I guessed that my rage over Celestia’s death had given me more power to work with, or I was unable to realize my full power until I fully committed to defending the ponies. Either way, we were going nowhere fast, but I knew that in a drawn out battle I was going to lose my strength first. With the stolen power of the ten most magical ponies in Equestria at her disposal, there was no way I could out-last my mother in a straight fight. I had to come up with something fast or I was going to run out of steam.

I flared my wings and took to the air, dodging more ethereal blades while arcs of lightning threatened to fry me. Being off the ground
limited the magic I could pull from the seal, but the added speed and maneuverability made up for it be allowing me to dodge instead of having to block.

“Sit still and let me kill you!” Chrysalis growled as her horn sent surge after surge of magic my direction, “This is getting rather annoying.”

I smirked as I dove towards her, creating twin sabers with my magic, “Then maybe I should take the fight to you!”

She formed a set of swords of her own, our blades clashing in a shower of sparks as I put my entire weight behind the blow. Her hooves began to slide along the ground as I pumped my wings, her fangs flashing in the shifting light as she tried to push against my swords. In a surprise turn of events, one of her hind hooves slipped on a patch of mud, and before she could recover my strength pushed her over and onto her back. I landed on top of her and pressed my blades towards her neck, her eyes widening if fear for the first time that I could remember.

“You think you can defeat me?!” She hissed as our crossed weapons inched towards her throat, “I have the powers of a god! Nopony can hope to stand against me!”

I grinned as I pressed down, my forehoof moving out of her line of sight, “Then why am I on top if you’re some invincible goddess?”
Her eyes flashed white as the Amulet glowed, “I’ll show you who’s on top!”

With a burst of energy and a shockwave like thunder, I was knocked off of her chest and into the air. I crashed into the ground some thirty feet away, the impact knocking the wind from my lungs as my spine creaked. I coughed as I forced my eyes open, spying my mother as she took menacing steps towards me. Her horn was alive with sickly green magic, and her eyes were absolutely livid as her gaze bore into mine.

“You are an insect,” she cried as her wings flared, “no more important that the dirt beneath my hooves! I am a goddess, rightful ruler of Equestria, and I will not stand for any more of your foalish games!”

She reared onto her hind legs and slammed them into the ground, her magic disrupting my spell seal and causing it to dissipate into nothing. She turned her gaze onto me, her lips curled into a sadistic grin as she began to laugh.

“Now I can finish you without your pesky magic getting in the way.” She stepped closer until she was only a few feet away, “A shame really, you could have been something great if you had only stayed loyal to your kind.”

Her horn began to spark as the glow around it grew brighter, her laughter growing in volume as two, then tree over-layers of magic enveloped the twisted spire. A devastating surge of magic, brighter than the sun in the sky, erupted from her horn as emerald hellfire. It surged towards me as a wave of power, torching everything in its path as the ten pony wide surge bore down on my position.

An Equis-shaking explosion echoed across the plains, shaking large boulders from the mountainside and uprooting several of the nearby trees. Chrysalis continued to laugh as smoke billowed from the epicenter, although the sound died in her throat as a rainbow light began to peak through the thinning cloud. I grinned as my body became visible once again, along with the dome of shifting rainbow magic that had
protected me from the attack.

Chrysalis gaped in complete shock, “H-How?! You had no magic to use! I destroyed your spell seal!”

I chuckled as I lifted my hoof from behind my body, revealing the Amulet as it pumped the magic contained within it through my body, “I’m not using my magic. You really should keep better track of your things.”

One of her hooves leapt to her chest, where it met bare chitin. Her eyes widened in realization, and I could see the truth dawning on her as the dome around me dissipated.

“That’s right mother,” I said as I placed the Amulet around my neck, “I never intended to kill you when we crossed swords. My true objective
was always the Amulet.” She backpedaled in terror as I stepped towards her, “Now that the shoe in on the other hoof, give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill you right now.”

“P-Please,” she whimpered, falling on her flank as her hind legs gave out, “I-I don’t want to die.”

I continued until I was muzzle to muzzle with her, my gaze locked with hers as her lips quivered in terror. I let her simmer in her uncertainty for a moment, before I activated the Amulet.

She cried out as her magic was drawn up and out of her horn, her body twisting and writhing as she fought to keep the magic within her. Yet, it was for naught. As she gave one last cry of loss, her magic was absorbed into the Amulet, never to be released.

She fell to her stomach as her strength gave out, her eyes locked with mine as her sides heaved. I lowered my head to her level, and
whispered into her ear, “Unlike you, I am not a murderer. I’m giving you this one chance. Take your hive and never return to Equestria. If you do, know that there is no place on Equis that you can hide from me. If I even think you’ve sent infiltrators into pony lands, I will find you, and I will make you watch as I kill every last one of your children before I send you to the burning abyss of Tararus.” I paused for a moment to pull back, making sure she was looking me in the eye when I spoke, “Do I make myself clear?”

Her reply was a whimpering nod, and as I stepped away from her she scrambled to her hooves. “W-What about my magic? You can’t expect me to survive out in the Badlands without my magic.”

My eyes narrowed as a frown formed on my face, “You have a hive full of changelings who can use magic. Be glad I’m letting them keep their magic instead of taking it like I did yours. Now send the order through the hive mind. You have three days to get beyond Equestria’s borders. I don’t care which direction and I don’t care how.” She hesitated for a moment, so I took in a deep breath and let loose my own version of the Royal Canterlot Voice, “NOW CHRYSALIS!!!!”

She made a very undignified squeak, flaring her wings and making a beeline for the mountains to the east. As she did so a black mist seemed to rise from Canterlot itself, as thousands of changelings fled the city en mass. I nodded as they slowly faded into the distance, before turning back to the forest where the others had disappeared. As I had expected, they had only taken refuge inside the forest, not fled the area entirely. As I made my way back to Celestia’s body, the ponies and Shards slowly filtered out of the shadows to meet me. Most of them looked relieved, although Luna, Cadence and Shining Armor had uneasy expressions when they spotted the Amulet around my neck.

“So it’s over now, isn’t it?” Rainbow Dash asked as she looked between her friends, “We won?”

“That depends greatly on what Noble Light is about to do next” Luna said in a neural tone as her gaze locked with mine, “He alone controls our combined magic, and holds the fate of Equestria in his hooves.”

That seemed to hit the others like a ton of bricks, and I could practically feel the air chill as all eyes turned to me. The Shards weren’t worried, although I saw a couple exchanging interested glances.

I shook my head slowly, “You need not fear. I have no interest in taking my mother’s place as a tyrant.” The Amulet flared as I spread my wings, “As my first act as prince, I return the magic that I took from you.”

The magic swirled out of the amulet and up my horn, condensing into dense balls of magic, each colored corresponding to each pony. With a wave of my head the balls of power flew off and hovered in front of each pony, pausing for a mere second before melting into the center of their chests. And yet, there were still two motes of magic left. One, a bright gold color like the morning sun, and the other a sickly green like moss. The green magic I channeled into the ground, causing green shoots of grass to grow from the bare and scorched ground around us. Yet, when I tried to do the same to Celestia’s magic, it refused to follow my direction. I tried again, only for it to do something completely unexpected.

The mote of magic split into two, moving behind me and hovering over my cutie marks. I turned around to watch as the magic melted into my body, causing my marks to glow with the same golden light for several seconds. When the glow faded, my eyes widened as the changed designs met my gaze. The gold scales that had simply hovered over the crossed swords, were now emblazoned with the same sun design that adorned Celestia’s flanks.

Luna stepped forward slowly, her gaze lingering on my changed cutie marks, “It would seem you truly have become Celestia’s successor. You now bear the weight of her sun on your shoulders. Take heed that you do not squander her final gift.”

Slowly the other ponies walked up and formed a semi-circle on my left, their gazes traveling over my flanks with awe. Carapace and the other Shards walked up and saluted, her voice tinged with regret as she spoke, “Sir, we have failed our mission to protect the ponies. We are ready for whatever punishment you deem fit for us, as we were unable to keep them from harm as instructed.” My Shards dropped their salutes and bowed their heads to me in shame, “What must we do to make up for this failure?”

I shook my head slowly, stepping up to Carapace and lifting her head with one hoof, “You haven’t failed me Colonel. I highly doubt you could have stopped Celestia even if you had known what she was planning. I will not hold you accountable for the actions of a pony who had every right to choose her own fate.” I moved past her and pulled every one of the Shards to a fully upright stance, “I am proud of you all for risking your lives for my sake, and for the lives of these ponies. You are a credit to your kind and shall be honored as such.”

I winced as a blatant fact reared its head in my mind, “Although, given I am no longer a changeling, I guess you are no longer bound to my service as your king.”

They all clamored around me, shaking their heads as they spoke to the contrary. Carapace move up in front of me and spoke with her head held high, “Changeling or not, you will always be our king, although in light of recent events I should say you will always be out prince.” She bowed low as the other Shards followed suit, “We shall serve you until the end of our days, because you have proven yourself as a worthy leader.”

I was taken aback by their conviction, and yet as my gaze moved from one set of eyes to the next, I could see no hesitation, no second thoughts in any of them. They truly wished to serve me still, even as I had become.

I nodded, tears forming in my eyes, “Very well then. If the ponies will have us, I would be honored if you would serve as my Silver Shards once more.”

We turned to look at Luna and the others, who had mostly positive expressions on their faces. Only Shining Armor and Cadence looked conflicted, although they made no objection as Luna nodded.

“We would be honored as well if you would make your home in Canterlot.” She extended a wing towards the city, “Please, allow me to show you the city as it should be seen.”

I paused for a moment as the others turned to follow the ponies. I looked over at the crater where Celestia lay, “One moment please, we need to bring her along. A pony of her nobility and strength deserves a proper funeral.”

Luna nodded, her horn glowing with magic as the same navy light enveloped her sister’s form. In a flash her body disappeared from view, and under the questioning gazes of the others she explained, “I have transported her body to her private chambers. Nopony will disturb her until such time that we can give her a proper ceremony.” A single tear ran down her face as she turned back towards the city, “Come, we must make certain that no changelings remain in the city, and that our ponies are not falling to pieces in our absence.”

Her words were met with unanimous agreement, and she led our group up the mountain and to the city gates. It took several hours to reach the city proper, but it was that or wait for the train to pass by at sunset. Nopony was there to greet us, although that wasn’t the case when we made it further into the city. Ponies were cautiously peeking out from windows and doorways, as if uncertain that the nightmare had really ended. Yet as Luna led us along the main road, ponies started to come out in twos and threes, falling in behind us as we made our way towards the castle.

It started out as a simple whisper, barely loud enough to be heard over the sound of hooves on the cobblestones. And yet as more and more ponies joined our impromptu parade, a song that rang with hope and cheer began to rise in the afternoon light.

Today we live, today we breathe
Today we know that we are strong when we are weak
Today we trust, we overcome
Take every chain that kept us slaves and throw them off

I turned and watched as ponies from all over began to sway and dance to the words, smiles on ever face as we walked down the main road towards the castle. The Shards and I were taken aback by the impromptu song, although the hope and pride that filled the air was quickly charging the hearts of everypony who could hear it.

We're not waiting for permission
We defy our inhibition
Like our middle name is "fearless"

I nearly jumped out of my new fur as Rainbow Dash flew in next to me and sang with a loud enough voice to make my ears ring. Everypony joined in with her for the chorus, and I couldn’t help the smile that crossed my lips as two of my Shards joined in.

If we're gonna fly, we fly like eagles
Wings out wide
If we're gonna fear, we fear no evil
We will rise
By our power, we will go
By our spirit, we are bold
If we're gonna stand, we stand excited
If we're gonna walk, we walk united
We walk united

Twilight and Cadence fell in next to Rarity and Shining Armor, who started up the next part as Fluttershy sang backup chorus with Pinkie Pie.

Today is ours, it's always been
Before we face the fight
We know who's gonna win
We live by faith and not by fear
We don't want safe and quiet
We don't wanna run and hide

This is not an intermission
It's our time, not gonna miss it
Today we shook off all our fear
Today we stood for ourselves

With that the rest of the ponies joined back in, and I couldn’t help myself as I lifted my head and sang along. The rest of the Shards added their voices to the heartfelt number, and for the first time since beginning our rescue mission, I felt like everything was going to be alright.

If we're gonna fly, we fly like eagles
Wings out wide
If we're gonna fear, we fear no evil
We will rise
By our power, we will go
By our spirit, we are bold
If we're gonna stand, we stand excited
If we're gonna walk, we walk united
We walk united

I was shocked once again as Luna took a solo for the bridge of the song, her crisp and melodic tone rising high into the air as she spread her wings and lifted her head. For a moment I could only stare at her, before letting my heart go and joined in with her as the others came together for one final stanza.

Oh, everywhere we go
The battle has been won
We know we can be sure
So, we take it hard in faith
With every step we take
We know we'll rise victorious

If we're gonna fly, we fly like eagles
Wings out wide
If we're gonna fear, we fear no evil
We will rise
We stand united, for all of time we stand

We came to the castle gates as the song wound to a close, and for the first time the ponies seemed to notice the extra alicorn in their midst, along with the dozen changelings that had somehow slipped without notice for the entire trip up the main road.

As the ponies began forming into a mob, Luna stepped forward and cried out, “Ponies of Equestria! Fear not, for these changelings are responsible for our freedom! They were instrumental in defeating Chrysalis, and are welcome in this city for as long as they wish!”

Her words were met with mutters and uncertain looks, although they quickly switched to confused as a pony yelled, “Who’s the new alicorn?!”
Immediately all eyes were locked onto me, and I felt like shrinking under their gazes as they began yelling over one another.

“Where did he come from?!”

“What does he want?!”

“Is he your long lost brother?!”

Luna raised a hoof to still the crowd, and mercifully they quieted. “Prince Noble Light was changed into what he is now when he proved his loyalty and conviction to the ponies of Equestria. You should know that he used to be known as King Silver Jacket of the changeling race, but was transformed into an alicorn when he revoked his birthright and saved us from Chrysalis.”

A pony from the middle of the crowd called out, “Where’s Princess Celestia?! Wasn’t she will all of you when the changelings invaded?!”

Luna cast the rest of us an uncertain glance, before taking a deep breath. It didn’t take empathic abilities to see that she was struggling to hold in tears, and without thinking I stepped up and rested a wing over her shoulders. She cast me a grateful glance before turning to the gathered crowd.

“My little ponies,” she swallowed thickly before continuing, “it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you,” she paused for a moment, as if unable to speak the words, “that my dear sister has fallen in battle.”

Murmurs spread across the masses, and another pony asked, “You mean she’s injured? Is she in the hospital?!”

Luna shook her head, “No. I mean that my sister moved on from this world.” She took a deep breath, lifting her head high to look out over her subjects, “Princess Celestia is dead.”

She stalled the outcries of sorrow and pain with a raised hoof. I was blown away by the loyalty and devotion they displayed by quieting again, even though I could see many ponies wiping their eyes. Several flat out fainted, while others looked like somepony had taken their entire world view and shattered it. Then again, Celestia had been ruling Equestria for over a thousand years. To most of these ponies she must have seemed undefeatable, a constant in their world that would never change. To hear that she was dead must have hit all of them like a ten ton boulder.

Luna lowered her hoof and took a shaky breath, unaware or uncaring about the tears that were running down her face, “While my sister will be missed, her legacy shall live on in all of us. Prince Noble Light,” she indicated me with a hoof, “was given my sister’s magic over the sun. Her final act in this world was to name him as her successor, and as such, he shall be ruling at my side from this point forward. There will be a ceremony to send my sister off in five day’s time at the castle, where we shall pass her on to the Golden Fields in body, now that her spirit has moved on to the next world.” Her chest shook as she wiped her face with a hoof, “If you will excuse me, I wish to have some time to grieve alone. Know that I will be holding Night Court again tomorrow, and that Prince Noble Light will be with me if you have need of our services.”

With that she turned and walked into the castle, leaving the entire population of Canterlot in stunned silence. After a moment Shining Armor called for the Solar Guard, and they quickly moved out to make sure that the city was secure. Twilight and her friends followed Luna into the castle, as did Cadence and her husband. For a moment I hesitated, unsure if I was welcome, but a quick wave of Twilight’s hoof settled my mind. The Shards followed me in, and I led them down a side corridor to the now vacant Royal Quarters. The doors on either side of the hallway leading to the room were open, revealing spare chambers for servants if the need arose. The Shards moved into these rooms without a word, allowing me to continue on to Celestia’s rooms alone.

I pushed open the great doors, noting that the great golden sun design seemed to be just a little duller than usual. It was as if the castle itself was mourning for the loss of its princess, and I looked around the room in cold detachment, as I tried to still the sense of wrongness in my heart. Here I was, given the diarchy on a silver platter by Celestia herself, and yet all I could feel as I stared at her personal belongings was guilt. I had been the cause of her death, and although I know she would say it had been her choice to save me, it was still my actions that had led to her making that choice. If I had been stronger for them then maybe they could have escaped. If I had been faster Chrysalis might never have caught us in the dungeons.

What if’s bounced around my mind as I walked up to the bed, looking over the still form of Celestia. Her eyes were closed as if in sleep, the sheets covering her body and the terrible wound that had claimed her life. For a moment I watched her and thought about what I might have done to save her, yet I knew in my heart that she chose to save me. There was nothing I could have done to stop her even if I had known her plan. It suddenly struck me that once the funeral was held and Celestia was laid to rest, this would become my bed, my chambers. And yet, I would never dream of sullying Celestia's memory by taking it from her now. My time would come, but not now. Maybe once we had sent Celestia off and I could move on from some of the guilt in my heart, then I might be worthy of sleeping in her place.

I turned and walked over to the couch and climbed onto the cushions. I let my head rest on the pillows, and closed my eyes. Yet as my mind was beginning to slow, my horn activated and pulled me to my hooves. I walked over to the balcony without my consent and found myself looking upon the setting sun.

Realizing what my magic was trying to tell me, I let the power flow and felt the sun with my magic. It was a powerful and wind thing, sending charges of power through my body as I slowly lowered it. As the light faded and the moon began to rise, I felt the connection slip away, leaving me feeling drained and weary. I turned my gaze towards the opposite tower, where I spotted Luna going about her duties. For a moment I thought about calling out to her, but thought better of it as my tired body and mind called to me. I stumbled back into the room and climbed onto the couch, my head hitting the pillows with a soft thump.The next several days were going to very long and filled with more tears that I could ever hope to count.

I just hoped that I didn’t make a mess of things after Celestia entrusted her kingdom to me.

Author's Note:

Well, here's the new chapter as promised!! Hope you all like this new stuff, although I imagine a few of you might be looking for some revenge by the time you get through with this one.

Anyway, hope you enjoy your New Years presents, and I'll see you next chapter,
Shadow Quill, Messenger of the Moon.