• Published 19th Mar 2017
  • 4,599 Views, 131 Comments

And a Sky Full of Stars - Amber Spark

With her wife stolen away and the world’s magic fading, Sunset must hunt down the monster ripping the power from her beloved to murder the very stars themselves. Because if the stars die… her world will soon follow.

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The Righteous Sun

Sunset’s teal magic flared to life by pure instinct as she threw up a shield of kinetic force against the balefire. She howled as the gargoyle's magic tore at the barrier, but she knew better than to use magic directly against balefire. That wouldn’t just kill her, such an act would destroy half of the Phoenix Tower.

The hideous gray-skinned monstrosity cackled as more of its brethren emerged from the nearby spheres.

They looked like a madpony’s nightmare, a deformed hybrid of a vampire fruit bat and a dragon crone. Thick leathery scales garbed their twisted bodies. Claws with black talons dripped with green toxins. Fangs jutted from their faces, curving below their blunt muzzles. Tufts of ragged black fur sprouted in random places all over their hides, flickering in the arcane breeze.

The final one erupted from what Sunset now recognized to be a Transit Sphere.

She knew that only somepony within the Tenth Arcane Tier could conjure such powerful magic. She knew that only a creature of the Sixteenth Tier could destroy a piece of the Phoenix Tower with such ease. She dismissed these thoughts in an instant.

There was only one thing she worried about.

And these things were in her way.

Balefire ripped into her shield from all sides as Sunset expanded it into a bubble. Each of the hideous malformed monsters flapped their tattered, bat-like wings as they spun in a circle around her, trying to overwhelm her defenses.

“You are in my way,” Sunset growled as she hovered in midair, the teal energy around her starting to buckle under the strain. “Flee, or I will tear you to pieces.”

She didn’t shout. It wasn’t proper for a Princess to raise her voice—or so Twilight enjoyed reminding her—so instead she kept it as cold as the frozen snows beyond the Crystalline Imperium.

The gargoyles just cackled in the same bone-chilling tone. All at the same time. It was—to use an old colloquialism—freaky.

She didn’t have time for freaky.

“I tire of this.”

A shockwave of brilliant golden fire erupted from Sunset’s body as she channeled her anger and touched the power of her Sun. The gargoyles shrieked as they were thrown backward by the force of the blast, their withered bodies smoking in the cool evening breeze.

They didn’t fall far.

But perhaps it was far enough.

With a twist of her magic, the shield bubble transformed into a disk of enraged power. A quick tweak to the spell matrix gave it teeth. And then, despite the exhaustion threatening to overwhelm her, she threw her spinning disc with as much telekinetic force as she could muster.

The first gargoyle didn’t get a chance to even make a sound before the disc ripped through its deformed head, leaving nothing but a puff of black ash behind.

Constructs! Sunset realized. They’re constructs!

Sunset spun in midair. Constructs or no, they could still use balefire. Despite the fate of her beloved, she could not risk such creatures descending upon her city. Even the Whitecoat would be hard pressed to present a defense to the magic of raw oblivion.

The next one died as fast as the first, though it managed a half-second cry of rage before dissolving into ash. They were already regrouping and trying to flank her.

She managed to dispatch a third foul beast before the drain on her magic proved to be too much. She was gasping for breath as her ability to draw upon the magic of the world continued to give diminishing returns.

They attack during the Transition… This… this was well-planned and well-executed...

She would thank the individual responsible personally… and fatally.

As soon as the other nine beasts were destroyed.

Sunset lost her grasp on her magic, and the razor-sharp disc vanished. The echoing cackle of the beasts once again filled the sky, but Sunset Shimmer had safeguarded the many races of Equestria for millennia. She was the Chosen of the Sunmother herself. She had fought in battles beyond counting, in this world and many others. She had defied gods, imprisoned legends and chastised beings of the Thirtieth Tier.

She would not fall this night. Not to creatures as mundane as these.

However, the inability to use direct magic against the beasts sorely limited her options.

So, she improvised.

Two flashes of teal magic heralded the arrival of the Sunmother’s twin Flareblades. Each blade was elegant, thin and narrow, etched in ancient curving runes that burned with sunlight. Above the mouth-brace hilt of each blade, the amber Suncrystals glowed like miniature suns.

The last time she had wielded them in battle had been a century ago, against the shadowkin invasion during the last Emergence.

They were still as deadly as ever.

So was she.

Princess Sunset Shimmer darted forward with a surge of light and sound, emitting a blast of solar radiance in her wake. The gargoyles apparently had not expected a frontal assault. She cleaved through one’s neck and skewered another before they could bring their balefire to bear. The twin blades burned like pieces of the Sun itself, leaving trails of golden light with every sweep. It was almost a dance.


Three of them took up position in tight formation before her and unleashed an enormous gout of balefire at her, the hideous green and white flame eager to consume her magic and her body. With a grunt of effort, she crossed the blades before her, and corona of pure sunlight deflected the ferocious blast of oblivion magic. Her Sun was one of the greatest symbols of Life in creation, and these blades held her power.

However, the other four gargoyles were not content to let Sunset simply weather the storm. Two approached on each side, dive-bombing her with the intelligence of annoyed rocks.

She immediately folded her wings and dropped, keeping the blades up to prevent the balefire from tearing her apart. She almost laughed as the two pairs incinerated each other.

Sunset let gravity do the rest as she plummeted toward her beloved city. She could feel the magic around her, flowing and pulsing in the arcane winds. But the magic was faint… and it was fading faster than before. She did a backflip and shot back up into the sky toward the final three monsters.

But a single glance at the heavens almost made her lose her grip on the priceless ancient weapons.

The stars were going out.

Pockets of the sky were already as dead as the deepest caves beneath the great mountain she called home. She could feel the magic dying around her. Below her, cries of alarm rang out as the magic artifacts that defined the daily lives of every creature in Canterlot began to fail, from skychariots to magical energy conveyors. Yet she knew such things were well-built. Even if they failed, more mundane safeties would see to the well-being of the populace.

She focused on her enemy. She had to deal with them first. Then she could save her city and her wife.

But the cries from the city below reignited the rage she had kept so tightly controlled for eons. Ice flash boiled in the space of a heartbeat and molten fury replaced it.

Sunset Shimmer screamed as she became a blazing comet of furious golden justice. The balefire of the gargoyles found no purchase upon her amber coat. With a single savage spin of her blades, she ripped them apart in midair.

A moment later, mere ash floated lazily in the dying winds of Canterlot.

Despite her every instinct to fly to her rescue, Sunset knew Twilight would be cross with her if she did not see to the safety of their subjects before seeking the salvation of her wife. Still, it was troubling that the teleport to the High Court left her winded to the point of panting for breath.

“My Lady!” cried a familiar approaching white unicorn, running at a full gallop. “We saw the chaos in the sky! Master Windblade and her pegasi attempted to join the fray, but found themselves barely able to rise more than five feet above the ground!”

“Do not concern yourself with my state, Raven,” Sunset said as she fell into one of the Twin Thrones. She winced when she realized she had taken Twilight’s place, but couldn’t gather the energy to move. “The people… how fare matters beyond these walls?”

“Mistress…” The white unicorn shifted her glasses with a hoof—a sight quite strange to Sunset, who was so used to her aide’s soft red magic. “I’ve spoken to Your Majesty of the quiet fear that grips the populace of the city—indeed the whole land—but now? They are seized by panic. An assault upon the Phoenix Tower? A battle waged in the sky, and the failure of nearly every arcane device within the city?”

Raven shook her curling brown locks.

“These are ill tidings indeed, Highness.”

Sunset bit her lip and stared at her horseshoes. The next question was inevitable.

“Highness… I also noticed… the… uh… stars. Highness… if I may ask… is Princess—”

The rage flowed through her, once again coming to her aid. It burned in her and gave her purpose, as did the magical flames inside the chaos engines that ran Canterlot’s infrastructure. When they were controlled, they were astoundingly useful. But if something failed, everything around them would burn…

She would use her rage this night. Use it to ensure the utter immolation of those who dared to assault her city.

“Issue a statement to the citizens that there has been an assault upon the Phoenix Tower by a hostile force. This is all the information We are prepared to release at this time.” Sunset sighed. “After dawn, We will give a full report on the events in accordance with the Law.”

“I doubt that will sate the ambassadors, my Lady.”

Sunset’s hair flared, but Raven knew her moods well enough to only wince slightly.

“Raven, I have much more important things to concern myself with than the well-being of ambassadors, when my—”

She stopped before she could say anything else. Raven knew. She always knew. She was eternal as they were. One of their few constants in this life. She was their sister, their mother and their confidante.

But what’s more… she understood.

“I’ll handle it, Sunset,” Raven whispered, out of earshot of the other nobles gathering before the Thrones. “Do what must be done.”

“Thank you.” Sunset’s voice was as quiet as her aide’s. “I do not know where the dawn will find me… but one way or another, it will see Twilight home.”

“Of that, I have no doubt. Shall I have it prepared?”

Sunset shook her head. “No. It will depart with me, quietly and without fanfare. When Philomena and Faerana return, tell them to seek me out. They will find me. I cannot wait for them. As for the rest… try to keep the lights on in our city, dear friend?”

Raven smiled wanly. “I always do.”

“This is different, Raven. The stars are going out.”

“Truly, you have no time to lose.”

Sunset took the time to grace her with her warmest, most heartfelt smile. Ten thousand words were contained in the single expression, but there was no doubt dear Raven understood it all.

She always did.

A century had passed since Sunset Shimmer had last donned the Solstice Raiment. The shadowkin legions had required extraordinary measures to push back. But not even they could murder the stars.

As Sunset stepped out on a distant balcony that hugged the great mountain peak of Canterlot—conspicuously devoid of guards per Raven’s work—she ensured every single piece was securely fastened. With every touch of her weakened magic, the ancient Equestrian runes that lined the old metal flared bright gold for a brief moment. She buckled the helm upon her head and took a breath.

Despite herself, she looked up. Nearly a quarter of the sky was little more than a void. She could feel the magic waning, not just from her, but from the world itself. It cried out to her, pleading with her to save it. To save them all.

Though she should do it for her people and the world, she knew the real reason she would do it. It was the same reason she had clutched at her rage, a reminder of the pony she had once been, so many centuries ago.

She did not enjoy this piece of herself.

But she would use it and those that had taken Twilight would burn for their transgressions.

Even if the stars died this very night, that fire would be enough to keep her going until the end of the world.

She would do it for her.

Just as she did everything else.

Sunset lifted her wings and took another deep breath. The thrum of ancient enchantments came to life, and the golden battle armor of the Princess of the Dawn shimmered. The twin Flareblades were strapped to her sides, ready to be unleashed upon the enemies of Equestria… upon anypony who found themselves between her and her lady.

With a flap of her mighty wings, Princess Sunset Shimmer rose into the air.

If she had been seeking any other pony aside from Twilight Sparkle, Sunset’s task would have been impossible.

Yet, Sunset knew as long as a single star shone in the sky, Twilight lived.

And as Sunset would always know when Twilight was smiling, she would always know where to seek her beloved.

The only thing that troubled her was her foe likely knew this as well. They would be prepared.

So be it.

And so it was that the Princess of the Dawn allowed the magic of the Sunmother—long ago imbued into the armor she now wore—to send her east into the dwindling stars of the night.

Author's Note:

Raven as an immortal? I'm sure I've never heard of any idea like that before... :twilightsmile: