• Published 31st Mar 2017
  • 3,174 Views, 93 Comments

The Mare that eats The Monsters - Skijarama

She is known as no more than a myth, a legend, a bedtime story to scare little foals. Her name is Moonrise Drifter, and Twilight Sparkle is going to learn more about her than anypony has in a long time...

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Chapter 13 - Silence in Canterlot

Three Days Later…

Twilight Looked over the checklist in her magic with a scrutinizing gaze, hunting down any and all unticked boxes of any variety. It was all in order, save for one at the very bottom. ‘Triple check the checklist to make sure I didn’t miss anything when I double checked the check list.’

Twilight blinked as she vaguely recalled the first time she had used that particular item on a checklist. That had been a… weird day. Regardless, Twilight checked it and rolled up the impressively long sheet of parchment. “Okay, everypony! Everything checks out, let’s go!” she called out to the last batch of evacuating civilians, waving them along to get on the train. “Keep it calm and orderly, ponies! Don’t rush and don’t shove!”

The crowd was almost silent as they began to anxiously shuffle into the large train. The line ran back almost two city blocks. Twilight was glad that the evacuation train had so much space; and that it was heavily armored and would have a contingent of guards accompanying it to ensure it’s safety.

As the crowd filtered into the train, Twilight glanced up into the clear afternoon sky over Canterlot, feeling the cool mountain breeze extremely keenly. She glanced back towards the city proper, her ears drooping at the sight. It was practically a ghost town; this was the last batch of civilians to be evacuated. Twilight and her friends would be following along with the last train to help make sure it was safe and protected.

There had been numerous sightings of fiends in the last two days, growing more frequent by the hour, practically. Each one that came in depicted sightings drawing closer and closer to the capital city.

Drifter was beyond displeased when she had learned she would not be in Canterlot. Luna, presumably by Celestia’s request, had ordered that Drifter go along with Twilight and her friends.

“Twilight Sparkle!” Came the lunar princess’s voice from overhead as she swooped down from the sky, having been atop one of Canterlot’s towers to keep a careful eye on the intricacies of the proceedings. “I trust all is in order?”

“It is, Luna. This is the last batch of the ponies that live here. They’ll be ready to leave in a little under a half an hour; head counts and engine prep and all that.” Twilight replied before looking down slightly. “Are you sure we can’t try to help?”

“I’m sure you can help, Twilight, but I believe your efforts would by and large be better suited to protecting the ponies that leave Canterlot.” Luna replied solemnly, looking over the train herself. “You’re experience in battle is limited. As powerful with magic as you are, that alone won’t save you in the heat of war… and Canterlot is about to become a warzone. Besides, your friends have only ever engaged in battle once, during the Changeling Invasion some time back. Those Changelings used swarm tactics to overwhelm their adversaries… you won out against one wave, but were still captured.”

“You’re right… I wish there was more we could do…” Twilight sighed in defeat, shifting backwards slightly.

“If all goes well, Horizon will fall here when the battle ends.” Luna said coldly before turning her gaze to glare out into the distant terrain that their vantage point revealed. “...I just fear that my sister will hesitate.”

“...They were lovers, weren’t they?” Twilight ventured carefully, flinching back at the scowl that spread on Luna’s face.

“They were moving that way, once. But he betrayed all of that. His actions are not forgivable; the only salvation he should be granted is a swift death.” Luna’s voice grew in cold, hateful bitterness as she spoke, her teeth clenching and a fire flickering in her eyes. “Yet with the honeyed words he said to my older sister, she has started to fool herself into thinking he can still be brought out of it.”

Twilight didn’t say anything, merely looking down and shrinking slightly under the intensity of Luna’s anger, no matter the fact that it was directed elsewhere entirely.

“He will pay. If Tia won’t end him, I will.

The sun was now slowly lowering to the horizon. Horizon’s first fiends would doubtless start making efforts to infiltrate the city and get at anypony still there; guards and soldiers, mainly. Celestia took the opportunity to look down upon the old, old city and fondly remember the long journey she had started on with so many other ponies to build it up into what it was now. Normally, even at this hour, there would be plenty of ponies up and about, doing their business.

Now, though, there were practically no ponies anywhere to be seen. Only guard patrols, each consisting of a half a dozen ponies each, searching and guarding numerous areas in the city along intricate routes. A soft breeze blew by, causing an old shop sign in one of the business districts to sway and creak, the sound almost deafening in the relative silence. A mouse scampered across from one side of an alley to the other, squeaking in unease and dread.

If any animals that lived in the city could leave, they already had. No birds chirped and there were so very few stray dogs or cats meandering the streets, seeking shelter from the nightmare they could sense was on the way. Celestia slowly looked up at the horizon as her sun began to dip below it.

“Please don’t prove me wrong tonight, Horizon…” she whispered, touching a hoof to her chest and shuddering with anxiety.

“Tia…” Luna called softly from behind her on the balcony, stepping up to her sister’s side from the interior of the castle. “Are you going to be okay?”

“I think so, Luna…”

“Good. I’ll be by your side the entire time. You won’t have to go through this alone.”

Celestia simply hummed and smiled softly. “Thank you, little sister.” she turned and nuzzled Luna affectionately. “I love you, Lulu…”

“Where did that come from?” Luna asked with a raised eyebrow, though she gladly accepted and returned the nuzzle.

“I just wanted to say it one more time. Just in case I don’t-”

“Sister.” Luna interrupted softly, but firmly, giving Celestia a long, hard stare. “Don’t think like that. Don’t even accept it as a possibility. You will not die tonight; I won’t let you.”

Celestia smiled softly and held her sister in a warm, shivering embrace. “...And that is exactly why I love you…”

The two shared an embrace for several moments before the sound of heavily armored hooves galloping towards them drew their attention. Turning, the two alicorns saw a royal guard with the dyed coat colors of a sergeant stepping onto the balcony, throwing a quick salute. “Your highnesses, urgent word from the upper districts! One of our patrols located a small pack of fiends and eliminated them.”

Celestia sighed and turned back towards the city view, knowing this would be the last time she would see it so quiet and peaceful…

“Thank you, soldier. Spread the word to prepare for battle; Horizon will be here any minute.”

The sergeant bowed and left in a sprint, his armor clanking and scraping as he disappeared into the castle. Luna turned her own angry eyes down to the city below, already searching for signs of fiends in the streets. Now that she really looked, she saw plenty… “Let us not stay this matter any further.”

“Of course… let’s go.” Celestia said uneasily before the two lifted into the air on their wings and swooped down into the city.

The atmosphere inside of the speeding train was tense, to put it mildly. Every single pony that sat next to a window looked outside anxiously, expecting something out of the darkest parts of what could be imagined to leap from the gradually deepening shadows at them and turn the train into a slaughter.

Twilight and the others wouldn’t allow that to happen.

Drifter, in her still recovering state, had taken on the role of making sure ponies were calm and collected, giving comfort wherever she could. Specifically, she was doing what she could to help a pair of earth pony siblings, a filly and colt named Wonderboom and Palmwood, respectively. Wonderboom had a bright green coat with a far brighter green in her mane and tail, making them almost white. She had big amber eyes and a timid posture.

Palmwood had a light brown coat with a mane and tail of dark brown that gradually grew lighter the further along the hairs got. His eyes were a bright, vibrant cyan. Neither of them had their cutie marks yet, and had been separated from their mother in the crowd boarding the train. They were both quiet and anxious, looking around in extreme discomfort at the nervous and even scared faces all of the adults were wearing.

They weren’t stupid; they knew something bad was happening, but their mother hadn’t told them anything except that they needed to go with everypony else and evacuate from Canterlot immediately. Drifter inwardly sighed in aggravation, but honestly, she couldn’t blame the poor mare for hiding the details of the situation. They were vague enough for everypony here, and still it was enough to make them all fidget with nervousness and deep-rooted fear.

“So, tell me more about your mom, kids.” Drifter said softly, letting them catch up to trot next to her before continuing at their pace.

“Um…” Wonderboom started in a quiet, reserved voice. “She’s really nice and sweet. She knows all there is to know about using plants as medicine and, uh… oh! She has just the most big and beautifully red eyes I have ever seen! They’re like big rubies.”

“Yeah, she works at the canterlot hospital. Something about dealing with venoms or toxins or something.” Palm added, scratching the back of his head absently.

Drifter smiled warmly. “Well, that is a very respectable job for a mare to have. She saves lives by the sound of it; I can respect that a great deal.”

“Yeah, mommy loves her job.” Wonder said with a happy grin, bouncing slightly in her stride. “She’s so nice and kind and stuff. She even gets stallions coming by the house trying to… uh… what did mommy call it, Palm?”

“Well, mom calls it ‘courting,’ but my friends at school keep saying ‘seducing’ would be a better word… what do those mean?” Palm said with a tilt of his head. Drifter hid her mouth behind a forehoof and giggled softly.

“So she has stallions looking for her romantically? That’s sweet~.”

“Pluegh! No thanks!” Palmwood stuck out his tongue and shook his head vigorously. “I do not wanna see some guy kissing mom! That’s gross!”

“But what if they love each other?” Wonder pointed out, earning a huff from her older brother.

“Even worse!”

Drifter laughed quietly at their foalish antics. Sometimes, she missed living in the world of a filly. Every day was a new adventure that brought new and exciting experiences and lessons. Now, though, every day was either a continuation of the last, or the beginning of some new, hellish nightmare that brought more blood and death than anypony should have to see in a lifetime.

“Drifter!” Rainbow’s voice suddenly called out before the cyan pegasus practically appeared in front of her, having been flying fast enough along the train to be a blur to most sets of eyes. “We’ve got a problem!”

“A problem?” Drifter asked, masking her tone so as to not scare the foals next to her. “What sort of problem?” she already knew.

“The fiendish kind…” Rainbow answered before glancing over her shoulder. “Some of the guards up top are saying we’re being followed by flying creatures.”

Drifter grimaced and then turned to look at the two foals, who were now definitely scared from the sudden shift in tone and atmosphere. She turned back to Dash with a hard stare. “Get to the engine room and get the conductor to get this thing into full speed.” she turned to the rest of the car. “Everypony listen up! Close your shutters and lock your windows right now! If you brought anything along that could be used to defend yourself, anything at all, then get them out NOW!”

The train erupted into a flurry of activity as Rainbow shot away to follow her instructions. The foals looked around in frightened confusion before looking to Drifter for answers. “Miss? What’s happening?” Wonderboom asked, on the verge of breaking down into terrified sobs.

“I won’t lie to you… things are about to get scary.” Drifter said gently, lowering herself to look them in the eyes. “We’re being followed by monsters. Terrible monsters that will stop at nothing to eat you, me and everypony else on this train. I won’t let them, and neither will Princess Twilight or the friends she brought along. We are going to protect you; all of you.”

The siblings shifted uneasily, huddling closer to themselves and also to Drifter. “Don’t be scared...:” Palmwood muttered to his shivering and crying sister, trying to sound tough. There was no hiding the fear in his voice.

“No.” Drifter said firmly, earning looks from them. “You should be afraid. This is a bad situation we’re all in. Heck, I’m scared, too.”

“But you don’t look scared…” Wonderboom mumbled up at Drifter doubtfully.

“I am scared, terrified even, trust me. I’ve just…” Drifter paused for a moment to think. “...learned how to control my fear. It’s fine to be afraid, you two… just so long as you don’t let it control you.”