• 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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20 A Shocking Surprise

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any and all "hnnnggggs" that may or may not be a direct cause of this chapter. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!! :pinkiehappy:

I was an absolute nervous wreck. My wings were twitching nonstop and I was biting my bottom lip so hard it almost bled. It had been hours and still I had heard nothing from the doctors. By this point I was almost ready to barge into the emergency room myself and fix it all with my magic, but I had no idea if that would cause more harm than good in this situation.

Let me back up a bit. It all started a few months after Luna and I finally settled the bad blood between us, and had moved in together as the new rulers of Equestria. The ponies still had trouble trusting me, and I found myself alone in Day Court more often than not, while Luna was so busy during Night Court she had to send ponies home most of the time because there were simply too many. For a while we fell into this new routine and managed to find a delicate balance, doing our best to hold the nation together after the tragedy that had befallen Equestria.

Then, one night, Luna woke me up with a panicked expression, her mane soaked with sweat and her heart racing like a Wonderbolt after a race. We managed to get her vitals back to normal with some subtle magic, although the fever never truly went away. At first that was all it was, and Luna managed to keep herself presentable with morning and evening showers to keep her coat pristine. Then came the next surprise, headaches. These weren’t your normal variety headaches either. No these were the mind-splitting migraines that would lay her out on the floor for hours at a time. It happened once in the middle of Night Court, and Luna was forced to call off the meetings for the rest of the night, going so far as to dunk her head in a bucket of ice to dull the pain. I only found out about that little incident the next morning, when she told me over a cold bowl of ice cream that she had somehow convinced the castle staff to give her.

For weeks these headaches plagued her, yet when we asked the castle doctors to take a look, they couldn’t find anything wrong with her. Of course Luna’s physiology and magical signature were unique to any other pony in Equestria, so it was like asking the doctors to tell us why a hydra was losing teeth when all they knew was that manticores shed twice a year. They simply had nothing to go on that could act as a baseline. Luna and Celestia had never gotten sick before, so nopony had bothered to look into how they differed from normal ponies, and it was coming back to bite us in the flank big time.

It finally came to a head when the stomach issues began creeping in, forcing Luna to race to the bathroom at any hour of the day, no matter what it was she ate or drank. It was at that moment that I realized that there was truly something very wrong with Luna, and I had her admitted into Canterlot General until we could figure out what was going on.

Word spread rapidly that Luna had fallen ill, and with the wound of Celestia’s death hanging over the ponies, honest terror began to crop up within the citizens. Where they going to lose Luna, so soon after losing Celestia? What could be causing this disease? Why now after so long without any signs of weakness?

And then the rumors began to spread that Luna’s illness was my fault, that I had planned this from the very start and was slowly killing Luna now that Celestia had named me her heir. In a crazy way it all made sense, I let my mother kill Celestia after she brainwashed her into making me her heir, then once I fake banishing the Changeling invasion, I make it look like Luna fell prey to some unknown disease and take over completely.

For a while things tipped back and forth on a razor’s edge, leaning from all out panic to nervous waiting and back again and then over to plans of rebellion. Yet I could do nothing but watch my citizens stew in their fear and uncertainty, because I was feeling the exact same thing, watching Luna grow weaker and weaker.

It got so bad that by the fifth month, Luna didn’t have enough strength to lift the moon anymore, forcing me to take over her duties as a large mass began to grow in her stomach area. Just like with her headaches, her unique magic scrambled any probing the doctors tried, leaving them with no idea what it was that was slowly expanding in Luna’s abdomen.

Now, I was pacing back and forth in the waiting room, hoping and praying that Luna would be alright. The growth in her stomach had gotten
big enough that it was starting to affect her ability to move and use the restroom, and the doctors had come to the decision that it had to go. Yet just as they were bringing her into the operating room, she had started complaining of pulsing cramps that were doing their best to rip her insides apart. Fearing that if they went in now they might cause irreparable damage, the doctors had forced me out of the room so they could monitor her vitals and keep her from hurting herself. One terrible part about Luna being an alicorn was that painkillers burned through our systems like sugar, meaning there was nothing they could do to ease the pain as her screams echoed through the building.
For six hours I paced back and forth, listening to the sounds of my marefriend scream and sob as I ground my teeth in self-aimed fury. I felt next to useless out here, and yet there was nothing I could do to help Luna as whatever it was that had infected her tore her body apart. Finally, as her screams rose to a high-pitched wail that refused to stop, I had had enough.

I marched up to the Night Guards blocking the way to the emergency room, stopping only out of courtesy as they crossed their spears.
“Let me by or I’ll shove those spears so far up your plots that you’ll have to clear your throat to polish the blades.”

They did a masterful job of keeping their emotions in check, the thestral stallion on my left managing to look me in the eyes as he replied, “I’m sorry sir, but we’ve been ordered by the hospital staff to keep everypony out of the emergency room so that the doctors can do
their work.”

Luna’s screams became mixed with heart-wrenching sobs, and I refused to let her suffer any more when I could be at her side. “If you won’t let me pass, then I’ll just let myself in.”

My horn lit up with magic, and in a flash I teleported from the waiting room directly into the emergency room. Luna’s screams hit me full force as I came to my senses, and I placed a sound dampening spell around myself as I raced to her side. Yet I was stopped only halfway, my eyes widening in shock at what I was seeing.

Lying on the bed, her hind legs spread wide and her tail tied to one side, was Luna. Her nethers were exposed for all to see, while a single mare sat waiting with a blanket in one hoof and a towel in the other. The other doctors had moved to one side, their eyes wide in shock as Luna’s stomach contracted over and over. In that moment, it all came crashing together in my mind. Elevated body temperature, headaches, morning sickness, those were all common symptoms of a mare going through pregnancy.

The shock of that realization knocked me on my flank, forcing me to sit down as I watched the nurse ease Luna through birth. Birth. I just couldn’t believe it. Luna had told me multiple times that she and her sister were barren, unable to have foals no matter who they chose to bed with. Yet here we were, watching as a miracle unfolded before our eyes.

Finally, Luna’s screams faded until all she could do was gasp and grunt. The nurse was keeping a laser focus on her opening, the cloth in her grip ready to act in an instant.

“You’re doing fine Princess,” she said in a soothing tone, somehow keeping her composure while Luna struggled to breathe properly, “just a
bit more and this will all be over.”

Luna managed to crack one eye open to look between her legs at the nurse, “Truly? Thank the makers.”

The mare nodded and held up the towel between her hooves like a net, “Alright Princess, this is it. On the count of three, give me one last big push. Can you do that?”

Luna nodded weakly, “Verily, we believe we can manage that much.”

“Alright then, one, two, THREE!!”

Luna clenched her teeth before letting out the highest and loudest scream yet. I had to close my eyes and place a sound-proof spell around my ears to keep from going deaf. Yet as Luna’s screams died down, they were replaced by the far weaker, but much higher pitched cries of a newborn.

I opened my eyes and slowly stepped forward, watching in awe as the nurse dried off the foal before wrapping it in the blanket. She carefully walked around and gave the foal to Luna, who gently held it in her hooves as she cradled it against her chest.

As I walked up to her bedside, the nurse smiled wide and said, “Congratulations Princess, it’s a filly.”

Those words seemed to break the ice that had frozen the room in place, causing the doctors to dash from their places along the wall to make sure Luna was still alright. She let them go over her vitals without seeming to see or hear them, her eyes and complete focus centered on the little bundle that was resting peacefully against her chest.

As the doctors came to the conclusion that Luna wasn’t going to keel over at any point in the near future, they filed out of the room with the nurse, leaving us alone save for the softly breathing filly.

Luna gently brushed part of the filly’s ebony mane from her face, revealing the muted lavender fur underneath. Her lips pulled back into the most pure expression of joy I had ever seen, and she leaned down to gently place a kiss on the foal’s forehead.

She didn’t even look up at me as she spoke, keeping her eyes on the precious bundle in her hooves, “For millennia my sister and I thought we couldn’t have children. We took lover after lover in our youth but were unable to conceive. Yet here I am, holding the one thing that I thought I could never have.” Her eyes filled with tears as she looked up at me, “I don’t even know what I’m feeling right now. Is this joy for myself, sorrow for my sister, or some unusual mixture of the two? I am truly at a loss for the first time in my life.”

I lifted a hoof and gently held her cheek, “I think it’s all that a lot more. You just gave birth to a foal that you had no idea you were carrying. You just became a mother when you thought it was an impossibility. I think you have more than enough reason to be a little confused right now.”

Her chuckle was dry and forced, but the smile that peaked around her exhaustion was genuine, “True enough, although that leaves little question as to how said foal got into me in the first place.”

The blood drained from my face as that information sunk in, “By the First Mother, I’m a father. I’m a FATHER!”

The giggles morphed into full laughs as I tried to get my mind to stop spinning, “Thou saw all of that and didn’t stop to think about how it had come to be? Apparently we are not the only ones who are a bit confused.”

I shook my head to clear it, trying to keep my focus on the here and now, lest I got nuts thinking about the what-ifs, “Anyway, that’s not important right now. What’s done is done. I think the thing that’s got me curious right now is what type of pony is our daughter? We know she’s not a unicorn because there isn’t a tiny spear stinking out of her forehead, but what about wings?”

Luna smiled as she looked down at the little filly, “I don’t truly care all that much what she is, so long as I know that she is mine.”

At that moment the foal decided to wake up, opening her eyes before opening her mouth and giggling. Luna and I gasped as she reached for Luna’s face with her front hooves, her slit-pupil blue eyes and tiny fangs doing wonders to make our minds stop working.

“No, it couldn’t be,” Luna muttered as the filly gently played with her mane, “could it?”

“There’s only one way to find out.” I replied, gently unwrapping the blanket from the filly’s body until it revealed her to our gazes. Sure enough, folded against her sides were a tiny set of bat wings, black as the mane on her head and tipped with a pair of pure white claws. Her ears also supported twin tufts of fur, making them seem far too large for her tiny head.

Luna’s mouth gaped as the filly twisted her starry mane between her front hooves, “A thestral. Our daughter is a thestral.”

I smirked as she slowly lifted her gaze to meet mine, “Well at least you won’t have to worry about her staying up too late.”

A hoof to the side of the head was my reward for that little joke, “Take this seriously Noble! What are we going to do about her schooling?
How will she make friends? I’m worried she might not be accepted because of what she is.”

I climbed into the bed, taking up what little room there was, and wrapped them both in my wings as I kissed Luna on the forehead below her horn, “It’ll be alright Luna. We’ll figure this out just like every other parent has across the millennia. We just need to focus on taking it one step at a time and things will work out in end.”

“But how can you be so sure?” She asked as she turned her gaze back to her daughter, who had fallen back asleep while we weren’t looking, “What makes you so certain she’ll end up alright?”

I lifted her gaze with my hoof again, keeping her eyes locked with mine as I spoke, “Because she’s your daughter, and anypony related to you won’t take anything lying down.”

She smiled as she pressed a chaste kiss to my lips, “Don’t forget she’s also your daughter. With a clever mind like yours she can’t go wrong.”

“So long as she doesn’t use it to outsmart us.” I added, causing both of us to chuckle softly.

“So what are we going to name her?” I asked, gently running a hoof through the foal’s mane.

“I was thinking,” Luna said softly, “Primrose. It’s a flower that only blooms at night, and has one of the sweetest scents I have ever experienced in my long life.”

I smiled, “Then Primrose it is.” I leaned down and placed a kiss on her lips before placing another on Primrose’s cheek. The filly thestral giggled softly in her sleep and curled up next to Luna’s body, holding her mother’s mane over herself like a blanket.

The news that Luna had given birth spread so fast that it seemed the newspaper headline the next morning was unnecessary. Ponies flocked from near and far to come and see if the news was true, although at that point Luna was still too weak to take any visitors. I took every petitioner that came to ask the same question, and told them all the exact same answer. Finally, after about a hundred ponies had come and gone, I asked one of the guards to take a picture of Luna with Primrose and spread the picture around the city. Within the hour thousands of pictures were dropped from the sky, landing on every possible surface within Canterlot and leaving no question as to the validity of the headline.

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the petitioners. In fact, it seemed to make even more show up then the first run of ponies. Finally, I called Day Court to a close and sent them all on their way, but not before telling everypony within earshot that Luna and our daughter were both healthy and safe, and that more news would be sent out as things progressed.

That seemed to at least appease the crowd, allowing me to make my way back to our chambers in peace while the castle staff bustled about like an agitated beehive. In light of what had happened, multiple changes had to be made to our chambers, not the least of which being a crib for our daughter. The ceremonial swords Luna kept on the walls had been removed, while the doors to the balcony had been foal-proofed to prevent the filly from falling.

All and all, the entire castle was going to get a makeover, starting with the rooms and halls closest to our chambers and working out from there. Nopony wanted to be the one responsible for leaving something dangerous where Primrose could get ahold of it.

I opened the doors leading to our room and spotted Luna lying on her side with Primrose resting against her belly. Luna’s wing was draped
over the filly, creating a sort of tent for her to rest under while her body heat helped Primrose sleep.

“Good afternoon my love,” I whispered as I climbed into the bed, “how are things?”

Luna’s eyes were tired by bright with love and happiness, all of it aimed at the bundle of joy that slept peacefully under her wing, “I couldn’t be better. The simple fact that I have a daughter seems to finally be sinking in. I can’t seem to get it out of my head that this little filly is my own flesh and blood. At times I find myself fearing that she’ll simply vanish into thin air, like this is all simply a wonderful dream.”

I smiled as I nuzzled her softly, “Then I hope you never have to wake up. Seeing you like this makes me the happiest stallion in the world. I just hope I came make you feel the same way.”

“You already made me the happiest mare in the world,” she said as she returned my nuzzle, “when you gave your heart to me and helped me to heal after my sister’s death. You placed yourself at my hooves for me to embrace or to scorn, knowing full well what had happened between us. Yet you did so anyway, and now your love for me has created the most precious thing I have ever held.” She bent down and nuzzled Primrose with her cheek, a single tear sliding down her face, “I just want you to know that you’ve made me so happy that I don’t even have the words to describe it. You gave me a child when I thought it was an impossibility.” She lifted her gaze to meet mine, “Thank you Noble Light, for everything.”

I kissed her at the base of her horn as I draped my own wing over her and Primrose, “You don’t ever need to thank me Luna. You’ve given me the same things and more. It’s the least I can do after all we’ve been through.”

She nodded, resting her head against the pillows, “I’m tired my love, come sleep with your family.”

I had absolutely no reason to argue, lying down facing Luna while using my wing to gently slide Primrose up to rest on the sheets between our chests. I held the tiny filly with one hoof while Luna did the same, connecting all three of us as I draped a wing over both of them.
The sun wouldn’t need to set for a couple hours, plenty of time to get some rest, “Sleep well Luna.”

She yawned wide before nodding, “Sleep well Noble.”

She closed her eyes, her mane falling over Primrose like a second blanket as she joined our daughter in the realm of dreams. I leaned forward and kissed her softly on the cheek before resting my head on the pillows. I closed my eyes and slowly drifted into sleep, comforted by the thought that no matter what happened in the future, I would protect Luna and Primrose with my life. That was the oath that I made as I fell completely into slumber, the soft rays of the setting sun bathing us in their glow as a peaceful silence fell over the castle. I didn’t know what was waiting for us in the future, but for that one moment, we lost the ability to care in favor of the love and tenderness we found in one another.

Author's Note:

AAAAAHHHHHH!!!! The feels, the feels!!! :flutterrage: Why must I play with my emotions like this?!! Oh, want, I do it because it does the same thing to you guys. Right, mystery solved. Also, I cracked 80K words, WOOT!!

Anyhoozzles, now that we have that out of the way, DID I SURPRISE YOU?! If so, you can yell at me in the towel section below but please spoiler-proof them if you're going to go into specifics. I don't want to ruin the fun for anypony else. :pinkiehappy:

Just so you all know, there is a sequel in the works with said newest best bat pony as the main character. I'll give you three guesses as to who I'm talking about. It's not going to be for a while because I plan on working with some of my others projects first. However, keep a lookout for the new book sometime down the line, because I'm not going to let this idea die after one book.

Alright then, from the top, exit stage left, and let the final curtain fall. This book is officially complete, so I'm going to say this one final time for all of you.

See you all next chapter, hopefully in another of my books,
Shadow Quill, Messenger of the Moon.

Comments ( 6 )

Other than the birthing scene, which was rather... un-sensitive, this played out well.

I'm sorry to say my liking for this story dropped when celestia died but it is still a good story

liked the story tho sad to say it didnt make my favs sorry, but practice makes perfect im sure your future as a writer is very bright

ACK! Too much love, TOO MUCH LOVE!

Anywho awesome story can't wait to see its sequal an thanks for ze awesome read!

A good story!
I enjoyed reading it.

Well, except for one thing you did in chapter 17:

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. [...]
You have three days to get beyond Equestria’s borders. I don’t care which direction and I don’t care how.

Would he really kill all his (former) siblings?
I think that would go too far. I can imagine he would punish her, maybe even declare himself the new leader of the hive, but punishing all of them for an mistake of their leader...
I would have also expected he would allow his siblings to stay in Equestria as long as they follow the laws. I mean, look at his personal guard. (How are they even okay with that?)
Banishing all of them, even those who may want to live in peace with the ponies seems too harsh for me.

But that's the only flaw I found in this story. The rest is good.
Small note at the end: I found the actual source of the full, uncropped cover art: "My new life as a Changeling." by Android-21-Midnight

Overall review: It's well-written, with few typos (I did not point all of them out, but there weren't many), and the story's not bad, although there were elements that I personally disliked.
I think the pacing was a bit abrupt, and in some cases not totally realistic (there's a word for fictional works acting naturally, as opposed to realistic implying comparison to reality, but I forget it, so this will have to do), however.
I'd be concerned about Stockholm Syndrome, and the amount of trust he was given on several occasions was unlikely (though the setting being what it is, perhaps it could be explained away).

The things I didn't like, though, include his rather abrupt ascension (Sure, it was needed both so that he'd be a reasonable companion for Luna (or are Changeling kings immortal/long lived to start?) AND so that he could defeat Chryssy, but it is too sudden of a Deus Ex Machina to be acceptable for me), Celestia's death, and his threat to the changelings. Even if he disagreed with his mother after that, banishment just worked so well the first time. He could also try to integrate the drones rather than banish them all, since they are now disadvantaged and will rally -- again -- around Chrysalis for the inevitable next attack.

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