• Published 26th Jun 2012
  • 1,663 Views, 41 Comments

Daughter of Chaos - Pennington Inkwell



Eclipse Tumult is forced to fight an enemy from his distant past, one that he had prayed was gone and dead. But can even the brother of Discord and his faithful student stand against the godlike powers of the sadistic Eris?

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Foreshadows

Eclipse was surprised to find Celestia leading him to the council room, usually reserved for times of crisis. As the two of them walked inside, Eclipse took a quick note of all of the ponies present. Shining Armor, his old friend, was sitting at the head of the table, looking uncharacteristically grim. Princess Cadence as sitting right next to him, looking over what appeared to be photographs and maps. Next to her, in turn, was a green-coated pegasus in modified Night Guard armor, pointing at different places on the map and retrieving more photographs from a saddlebag. When he came in, Cadence looked up at him, smiled a little as she waved her hoof, then went back to the notes, quietly talking with Shining Armor. Among several nervous-looking guards were the bearers of the Elements of Harmony. Pinkie Pie seemed more interested in talking than anypony else, enthusiastically shaking hooves with everyone. Applejack and Rarity were both looking at other photos, Rarity wearing a pair of red glasses in order to see extra detail. Fluttershy was simply sitting quietly, shivering with fear. A photograph was sitting on the table in front of her, obviously having been what scared her. Rainbow Dash wasn't actually in a chair, instead anxiously flying circles around the ceiling. Twilight was sitting with the green pegasus, quietly talking. The two of them obviously knew each other, judging from how they were talking. Eclipse could tell that this was serious, but he still had no idea what was wrong. Luna was sitting at the close end of the table, and motioned for them to sit, as well. She was missing her usual smile, but she still held herself with a royal air. Whatever this was, it had her worried, as well. Celestia sat next to Luna, taking the head of the table, and Eclipse sat next to her, filling the last chair in the triad.

"On the behalf of my sister and I, I would like to thank you all for coming..." Luna spoke up, declaring an end to the muttered conversations. Silence fell like a stone. "It has come to all of our attention that there appears to be a threat at our borders... it has been viciously attacking Eclipse's parasprite guards, and we have good reason to consider it both sentient and of malicious intent. Our goal is to determine what it is and what its motives may be." As a consensus of nods ran throughout the table, the younger Princess looked up at her sister. "We do believe that this thing first appeared outside of Equestria, and has been pacing near our borders for some time. My supporters in the New Lunar Republic seem to have had the first encounter with it." When Celestia nodded her approval, Luna turned back to face the table. "Mister Sure Shot is here representing the NLR and brings all of their information on encounters and sightings. I would like to pass control of the discussion to him for the time being."

The ponies all nodded, and Eclipse nodded with them. Whatever this thing was, it had certainly made everypony morbidly serious. When it comes to the safety of Equestria, Celestia and Luna don't mess around...

He had learned about the two support organizations, the New Lunar Republic and the Solar Empire, shortly after becoming the princesses' personal adviser. While it sounded as if the two organizations would be at odds with one another, one supporting Luna and the other supporting Celestia, the two merely demonstrated a spirit of competition, each trying to outdo the other. Each one supported both princesses, but specialized in meeting the needs of one in particular. There was a lot that went on behind the scenes of Canterlot, Eclipse had discovered, that went unseen to the naked eye,

"Thank you, your highness." Sure Shot stood, seemed to be unsure for a moment, then nodded to himself and took to the air, taking a stack of papers with him. As he floated though the air, he began passing them out to the gathered ponies in packets. "The NLR base in the Plains of Lore seemed to come across this creature's first manifestation, albeit unknowingly. It had seemed to be a group of unrelated events, until now..." As he finally reached them, he gave Celestia, Luna, and Eclipse each a packet of several pages. The first page was a large photograph of a creature that Eclipse recognized from a long time ago, before he came to Equestria. It looked like a gigantic worm, as long as a hoofball field, with a gigantic mouth at one end, lined with fangs.

"The first occurrence was the death of several dune worms. I have seen, myself, how difficult these creatures can be to kill, usually requiring a precise strike to the nerve bundle in their midsection to end their lives... My team, as you know, hunts the monsters for a living, recovering the small bundles of magical energy stored in their bodies for use in magical enhancers at a high profit... However, when we opened these dune worms to look, not only had those magic reserves been drained, leaving the organs holding them shriveled and decayed, but they seemed to have been killed from the inside. As we looked around to try and determine the cause of death, it appeared as if they'd had holes simply drilled into them, coming out from their stomach. You'll find an illustration of the wounds on page two..."

Eclipse turned the page, and was greeted by a transparent sketch of the creature, showing all of its organs and internal body structure. In the center, however, was what appeared to be some kind of nest of spines, jutting out long spikes that stabbed through the creature, stopping just below the skin.

"I can't help but notice two things, Sure Shot..." Twilight finally spoke up, keeping a thoughtful hoof on her chin. "One, that this originated from the main stomach... Whatever it was, it got chewed and swallowed, then attacked... And the other thing is that, if the magical reserves were dried up, then this thing may have been attacking them for the same reason they feed on unicorns: to gather magical energy, and it's being very shifty about it..."

Sure Shot nodded. "That's why we think that we may be dealing with something of amorphous shape and very reliant on magical energy to survive. If you will all look to the next page, you'll find the official report on the matter filed by my crew and I." He cringed a bit as he preemptively turned his own page.

"After that, there were several attacks on nighttime guards, though each seemed to escape with only minor injuries..." You will find a list of the summaries of the incident reports on the next page."

Eclipse turned his page, but couldn't help his eye wandering to the next page, where there was another large photograph. It showed a bright yellow colored earth pony, dressed in Night Guard armor like Sure Shot's. She looked badly beaten, both of her eyes blackened with bruises in her swollen face, her front legs sticking out at awkward angles and bleeding from long cuts. there were more lacerations along her sides, and Eclipse could tell immediately that both of her back legs had been dislocated. Her red mane was caked with blood, which had dried to a dark brown color. Her tail was even missing hair in places, the skin below stained as if she had been burned by acid. There were two deep gashes forming an "X" across her cutie mark on both sides, to the point where they couldn't be made out for what they were.

There was a sound of a loud gasp, and when Eclipse looked in the direction of the sound, it appeared that Twilight knew the pony, because her hoof was covering her mouth.

"This... thing got Quick Strike?" She asked, eyes wide.

"Our combat specialist... was assaulted more thoroughly than the others while on patrol..." Sure Shot gave Twilight an apologetic look. "This is confidential, at her request, to any pony who was not present at the time... She wanted to avoid losing face with those she teaches." He took a moment to shudder when he glanced down at the picture again. "She will be fine, with time. Broken bones heal, thanks to the help of some of our most experienced doctors... But her account of the attack is disturbing, to say the least." He turned the page again. "Her own account is not for the faint of heart, but to summarize, the thing appeared to her as a black fog, nearly indistinguishable in the night. It then proceeded to assault her, and she describes it as taking on several different forms, from a omnipresent mist to a simple black earth pony. Whatever this thing is, it's a shapeshifter."

"It tested her physically, testing the physical limitations of a pony, including what was required to break or even kill one..." He shuddered. "She claims that it only left her alive because it said that it wanted her to live with the trauma... Proving three things. One: that this creature is sentient, two: that it plans to attack other ponies, and is more than likely to kill, and three: that it is sadistic. It enjoys the pain of others."

Eclipse's heart skipped a beat as an old memory came back to mind, and the realization slammed him in the face with all of the force of a freight train. He shook his head, trying to shake off the shock as he looked down at the written account. It was a word-for-word transcription of Quick Strike's words.

It was everywhere at once... It was like, once I stepped into the mist, I had already surrendered... I couldn't do anything. I punched at it, of course, when I realized that it had been the one that had scratched me on my flank, but it didn't work, of course... It was like trying to punch smoke, my hoof went right through it. It laughed... It laughed at me. I tried to run, but I was lifted into the air, instead. It was like some unicorn was holding me up, but... It turned me onto my back, then pulled my legs out so that my stomach was exposed. And then I heard a voice. It sounded like a girl... like the voice of Nightmare Moon herself... It said, "Okay, then... Let's see what makes you tick..." And then... it went into me. It- it was horrible! The smoke, it pried open my mouth, it sank in through my skin... everywhere. It was everywhere. I could feel it inside me, rolling around in my body, turning my stomach, poking at my organs, playing with my bones... And then it seemed to become violent. My body couldn't hold it, couldn't take it any more... It felt like I was going to explode from the inside! I thought that I was going to die! And then, all of a sudden, it came out again, pouring out through my mouth in a giant gust... After that...

"Did she give a name?" Eclipse asked quietly, looking up from the information packet again. "Did she call herself anything?"

Sure Shot, who had been in the middle of a sentence, was cut off at the sudden interruption. It was the first time that Eclipse had actually spoken in the meeting. He had noticed a few odd looks, perhaps because nopony expected a draconequus to sit quietly and listen during a calm, organized meeting. Indeed, he would agree that it was slightly out of character for him, but if this was important to the Princesses, he would be willing to take it seriously... With the exception of a glass of chocolate milk every few minutes, of which he took a nervous gulp before asking again.

"Did she give a name, Sure Shot?"

"Well, no..." He looked around the table from his vantage point in the air. "Unless anypony else saw an instance with a name?"

As a group of murmurs answered in the negative, Eclipse felt his spirits continue to fall. Celestia turned to him, looking worried.

"Do you think that you might know what this is, Eclipse?"

"Not without a name... It could be any number of things." He muttered, trying not to make eye contact. "Anyway, carry on, please."

"Eclipse... if you know anything, it is your duty to speak now." Luna turned to look at him, as well. In fact, the entire table was staring at him, making him slightly uncomfortable.

"I was just wondering, Luna! A name might have helped! You know I've seen a lot of crazy stuff in my time... I lived in a lot of other places before Equestria!" He started to feel as if he were on the defensive, and a cotton candy cloud formed out of nervousness over his head. "Please... Just keep going! I don't have anything to say!"

The ponies all looked at each other, then began to talk again, but Celestia kept staring at him, one eyebrow raised in suspicion.

"Tia, please... It was nothing." He whispered.

She frowned for a moment, then leaned in closer. "I'll want to know what you were thinking, later..."

Eclipse nodded quietly as Sure Shot finished talking.

"Thank you, Sure Shot... We appreciate the information, and the presentation was well-done." Luna nodded as she looked over to Shining Armor. "Captain Armor, I do believe that you have some information for us from the borders?"

"Yes, your highness." As Sure Shot returned to his seat, Shining Armor rose out of his, using his magic to pass a group of photographs to the pony to his left. "As you'll see in these photographs coming around, there have been several attacks at the borders. Border security hasn't been a problem since Eclipse introduced the use of parasprite squadrons to patrol, rather than ponies. However, we have been finding entire squadrons dead... drained in a manner similar to the dune worms' magical reserves. The moment that we try to touch them, they turn into dust and crumble away..."

Eclipse's eyes grew wide, and rather than skipping a beat, his heart felt as if it had stopped completely.

"The first few sightings were all in the same area, on the easternmost point of Equestria, but they've been appearing all over the border, now. We don't quite understand what could be doing this, or why it doesn't come further into the country..." As the pictures came to Eclipse, he took them with a trembling hand. "But the last attack left a message spelled out with the corpses... somehow."

One by one, he shuffled his way through the images, his precious paraspites' dead faces staring out at him, eyes wide open and afraid. Parasprites were a favorite snack of his, true, but the ones that he ate were created without thought, without a thinking mind or a personality, and he would reduce them from a living creature to a dried fruit before consuming them. This was simple cruelty, feasting on creatures that could feel the pain as they were drained by their life force. Finally, he reached the final photograph. He almost couldn't see it because of the tears welling up in his eyes, but the message was spelled out clearly.

Hello, Daddy... I'm coming.
Be ready.

Eclipse blinked a few times, trying to process how this was even possible. It was definitely her. There was no mistaking it, this message was for him. The confirmation spun in his mind, and the room began to spin as well, as he became light-headed from the shock. Suddenly unbalanced, he put a claw on Celestia's shoulder as he tried to steady himself.

"Eclipse, are you alright? Eclipse?" Celestia's question came too late as Eclipse slumped forward, falling into unconsciousness on the table.













Across the world, Pennington finally emerged from the hole in the ground, lifted by several unicorns. He, in turn, was lifting the three large artifacts via magic, spinning the orbs in a small circle around himself. As his hooves touched the ground again, a small purple dragon came running up to him, waving her winged arms in an act just short of panicking. When she reached him, she jumped up and wrapped both arms around his neck in a tight hug.

"Penn! Are you alright?" I heard that there had been some kind of cave-in, and that you were in it! Then, when I tried to get closer, those dumb ponies wouldn't let me! They said that it was 'too dangerous!'" To illustrate, she pointed to the ponies around them, including the unicorns that had just helped him out of the cave.

"I'm fine, Moonstone..." Pennington smiled and gently peeled her off of his neck. "And they were right, it was too dangerous..." He took a moment, turning to the rest of the group.

"Everyone! Nopony is to touch these artifacts in any manner, nor are they to enter that room! Understand? What we are dealing with fried Carbon Date to a black crisp!" Any other conversation amongst the ranks stopped dead. Everyone had been thrown into shock. A few of them looked ready to cry. "Artifacts. Room. Both off limits!" Knowing that he didn't want to be around when ponies started mourning, Pennington lifted Moonstone onto his back, turned his back on the crowd, and walked away. Like it or not, he had to keep face in front of the ponies that he was leading on the expedition.

So, instead, he turned his mind to the artifacts as he walked back to his tent.

"Is he- Is he really dead?" Moonstone whispered as they walked, gently bouncing up and down on his back. "You were only down there a few minutes..."

"It was like he was struck by the world's strongest bolt of lightning..." Pennington stopped the revolution of the orbs around himself, ending with the lightning inscription in front of himself. "They seem to like me, though... In fact, I think that there may have been a reason why I chose that spot to dig..."

Moonstone blinked in confusion. "Penn... I don't know if we're seeing the same things, again..."

Pennington craned his neck to look at his assistant. "Well, what is it? What you're seeing is bound to be helpful, right?"

Moonstone was the youngest in a very old family of dragons, which, like many of her ancestors before her, had allowed her to be born with a gift, a magical ability that she was to hone and grow over time. The gift she had was to see truth, and see things for what they truly were, rather than for what they appeared to be. She could see through lies, secrets, and even, on the rare occasion, see dangerous intent in other ponies. She'd been growing stronger on her adventures with Pennington, and he had learned the hard way that, on many an occasion, ignoring what she saw was a bad idea.

"Well... I know that these are supposed to be those stone orb thingies, but I just realized how close that they look to the Elements of Harmony in their dormant state. You know, like in 'The Elements of Harmony: A Reference Guide.'"

Pennington nodded, remembering that, before she had been assigned by Luna to be his assistant, Moonstone had worked preserving books in the restricted sections of the Canterlot Archives.

"You're right!" Pennington looked more closely, recalling the book that Twilight had showed him so many times. The orbs did, indeed look like the Elements had. "But there are only six elements, and they never hurt anypony.."

"Yes, but they don't look like that to me, any more..." Moonstone muttered, not taking her eyes off on the orb in front of her. "In fact, when I look at them, it's like I'm watching a movie, and they're the screen..." She stood up on his back and stepped forward, unceremoniously stepping on his head.

"Hey! Moonstone, what are you- hey! Stop!" Before he could react, Moonstone was reaching out for the sphere. Her claws stopped just short of the inscription, but Pennington could see the energy crackling between them, building like static. He stepped back, trying to get Moonstone away from danger, but the orbs moved with them, now hovering under their own power.

There was a tiny spark between Moonstone and the stone, and she suddenly fell backwards, landing on Pennington's back.

"Moonstone! Moonstone, are you okay?"

"I'm fine! I'm fine..." Moonstone muttered, rubbing at her shocked claw. Even as she did, however, her eyes grew wider. "Ummm, Penn? I think that was what I was seeing..."

As Pennington turned around, he saw the the orbs had floated out and away from them, hovering together in a triangle formation. Between the three of them, an image flickered to life. Pennington was transfixed as he watched the scene they played out.

It started with a vision of Canterlot, bright and shining, glittering on every surface, and an all-around beautiful sight. The orb versions of the Elements of Harmony hovered in the sky above, providing a watchful eye over the city. However, as they continued to stare, the image darkened and became cloudy, until the scene had changed from a beautiful day into a foggy, dark night. Clouds of darkness spread across the image, and soon the only part of the image that remained bright was the Elements of Harmony. They began to glow brightly, trying to spread light in the darkness, but they flickered, faded, and finally went dim as the darkness took full control. amidst the darkness, the sun fell. It didn't simply set, though, it fell uncontrollably in blazing flames and smoke. No moon rose, and soon, the entire scene faded to total black. The two of them could hear laughter coming from the darkness, as well. A deep, feminine laugh that reminded Pennington of Nightmare Moon's cackle. Slowly, a new image faded into existence from the darkness... The three orbs standing before them. They simply stood in the darkness, as if unaffected by the evil that had blotted everything out. The three of them began to glow soundlessly, the light building and building between them until it burst outward, banishing the darkness and making Canterlot bright again... Or, at least, what used to be Canterlot. Pennington and Moonstone's breath both caught in their throats as they observed the city in ruin, totally destroyed. Houses had caved in and were on fire, the sky was blood red, and the castle had crumbled, every tower having fallen in on itself, every roof having collapsed in, and the entire thing teetering on the brink of the cliff-side foundation that the entire city had been built upon. Ponies cried in the streets, and the sky was lit by a solar eclipse. Like a camera in a movie, the view suddenly came to the front of the castle, zooming towards the fractured front steps. Pennington and Moonstone watched as they finally began to make out the details of what was lying on them: Luna and Celestia's crumpled bodies, tossed aside like trash, and the Elements of Harmony between them in their current forms: necklaces and a tiara. Every gemstone of the elements was shattered, and the golden frames twisted and gnarled almost beyond recognition. Finally, as the view panned out again, three new objects were floating above Canterlot: a gleaming, iridescent shield of ever-changing colors, a huge broadsword, wider at the tip, seemingly created from the same color-shifting material as the shield, and a crown matching the inscriptions he had seen in the secret room. The three objects together glowed and glimmered with light, scintillating as they illuminated the dark sky, seemingly bringing a strange new dawn.

And then, all at once, the image flickered away, and the three orbs fell to the ground, their energy seemingly spent.

Pennington and Moonstone were frozen in horror at what they had seen. Silently, the dragon tightened her grip on Pennington's neck from behind.

"Penn... That was scary..."

"Moonstone, we need to get to Canterlot... Now."