• Published 15th Jul 2017
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The Black Sheep - Irrespective

How far are four Guards willing to go to ensure the safety of the Kingdom and the Crown?

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XII - Do You Doubt The Power of The Moon?

Two whole months.

Two months of no Celestia.

Captain Shining Armor was just about at his wit’s end. All of his leads had fizzled out, his extra patrols around Canterlot and out into the surrounding area had come up with zilch, and his ‘interrogations’ had come up empty as well.

There was only two other options his harried brain could come up with: put each of his Guards on the racks until they confessed, or to go knock down the front door of all their houses.

Both were very much illegal.

He dug his hooves into his forehead and rubbed. Perhaps Luna would give him some good news tonight. She had said she was close to perfecting the searching spell; it was the only thing that had kept him sane. As soon as her spell hit on Celestia’s location, every pony in his Corps was going to march to the rescue, and then the four miserable miscreants who had put him through this were going to pay.

“Captain Armor?”

“Princess!” Shining smiled deeply, and bowed to her as she entered. “I hope you have good news for me?”

“I believe I do. I have been practicing all day today, and I believe I am ready to cast the Searching Spell.”

“Excellent!” he clapped his hooves together. “What do you need from me?”

“I will need four of your pegasi guards.” She replied. “To have the maximum reach, I need to be high above Canterlot. The spell will then search downward until it finds my sister.”

“Wing! Clover!”

The two pegasi appeared in an instant and saluted. “Sir?”

“Go get two pegasi from 22nd Squad, and then fall in with Princess Luna. She needs your assistance tonight.”

“Sir!” they shot off into the palace.

“Have them meet me outside. I shall form a cloud large enough for the five of us to stand on, and they will ensure I am not interrupted as I cast my spell.”

“Of course.”

“D’ya think this’ll work?” Clover asked, as they both cantered down the hallway.

“I have no idea.” Wing replied. “I suppose it will, I guess.”

“It was a good run though, wasn’t it?”

Wing smiled deeply. “It was an amazing run. We’re going to go down in the history books.”

“And then get sent to the moon.”


Yes, it was a good night for a spell.

Luna rolled her shoulders, eliciting a few cracks and pops. Corporal Light Wing, Private Clover Leaf, Private Barn Stormer and Private Moon Dream were going to be witnesses to the first casting of the Soror Inventum Spell in over a thousand years.

Truth be told, Luna felt a bit giddy. This was her first attempt at using some really heavy-duty magic since she’d returned from exile – her dreamwalking excluded – and she wanted to see how much of her former power had returned. Though she had assumed she was back to full magical strength when her mane had gone ethereal again, she wasn’t totally sure if she really was.

Now she would know for sure, and she would save her sister in the process. That alone was enough to make her smile madly and giggle a bit in joy.

“All right.” She announced, as she looked over the square cloud she had made. “Each of you take a corner, and make sure I am not disturbed while I cast this spell. It will go very badly very quickly if I cannot maintain my focus throughout the entirety of it. I give you authorization to use every means available to you – short of lethal means – to carry this order out. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Princess.” The four replied, though the two ponies from the 22nd squadron seemed nervous.

“Take your positions.”

The four Guards did so and Luna waited for them to establish a visual contact with everything around them. Once they had established their perimeter, Luna smiled.

Time for the magic.

She began to work the spell, carefully crafting the individual components in the air before her. It was a deliciously intricate spell, one with weaving components and synchronizing levels of patterns and little sparkles even.

Much as she might hate the complex spells, they were an absolute delight when they were done right, she had to admit.

“Mmm.” Celestia groaned a bit. “Been a while since I’ve had a headache.”

She gently lifted Little Celly off of her back, placed her on the table, and moved to put away the research paper entitled Moonshine’s Distillery Techniques – A Critical Study that she had been reading.

“What?” she asked, as she put the paper away in the box. “Oh, don’t worry about me. I’ve probably been reading too long. I just need a drink of water, and a little break.”

Celestia moved over towards the sink, but then suddenly felt a wave of pain unlike anything else she’d felt in a long time pushed into her skull. The pain was enough to make her loose her footing, and she fell hard on her left side.

“Ow!” she screamed. “What is this? I’m not using my magic, so where is this…?”

Her eyes widened in horror.

“Oh no! Luna! She’s using the…GGAAAHHH!”

The pain tripled in intensity, and Celestia grabbed her head.

“LUNA!” she shouted. “You’re doing it wrong! You need to…YYEEEAAAHHH!”

Anything she might have said was completely lost in the waves of pain that were radiating through her body, from the base of her horn back and from her pelt inward.

“LUNA!” she shouted in the Royal Canterlot Voice. Her Solemn Oath was completely forgotten as the pain threatened to rip her apart. “Please, Luna! Stop!”

Luna paused.

Was that Celestia? She had heard something. The Guards hadn’t moved, so it wasn’t anything nearby. Celestia must have been calling out to her.

“Well, more power is needed then!” she cheerfully announced. Her eyes glowed pure white as she poured every last bit of magic she had into the spell.


Celestia couldn’t remember when she had felt this much pain.

She really couldn’t remember her name at the moment, to be honest.

Her legs were thrashing in every direction possible, her wings were flailing in wide circles, foam was coming from her mouth, the spasms were coming in fast and furious, and her eyes were clamped shut in pain. The game table had been caught in the agony and it was quickly beginning to resemble shredded cheese.

All she wanted was for it to all stop.

Had she been in a proper frame of mind, she might have noticed the iron bolt being slammed out of the way, or the trap door being nearly ripped out of the floor. She might have watched Sgt. Pokey try to take the stairs four at a time, miss the second group, bounce off the stairs, and then hit the basement floor with a sharp thud. Sadly, the torture she was enduring prevented all that.

“Crabapples and Horsefeathers!” he hissed through gritted teeth. With one hoof wrapped around his ribs, he moved as quickly as he could to where she was writhing. With a quick move around her wings and over her hooves, he reached over and ripped off the suppressor ring.

Luna sighed, blinked, and her eyes returned to normal.

No luck.

The spell should have worked in five minutes or less. She had let it go for a full fifteen. At this point, she risked injuring those beneath her who were sensitive to strong magic surges.

“All right, that is all.” Luna announced sadly. “It did not work. Let us report back to Captain Armor.”

“Horseapples and Crabfeathers.”

“I think you’ve got that backwards.” Celestia joked weakly. Her eyes were open but unable to focus in on anything, but she felt the Sergeant softly lift her head up and tilt her mouth slightly upwards. Two gentle strokes from some sweet smelling cloth cleaned the foam from her mouth, and then she felt the cool edge of a cup touch her lips.

“Drink this, but slowly.” He instructed. “It will take away the pain and help you recover.”

Celestia tried to, but her mouth felt swollen and raw. Only a few blissful drops made it across her tongue and down her throat, the rest dribbled out onto the floor.

“Here, try again.”

This attempt was better, and she sipped gently. The gnashing thunder that was ripping her insides began to calm, and she smacked her lips as she felt the relief trickle farther and farther.

“Interesting concoction. What’s in it?” she asked.

“Wormroot, Grildshum, Toffida, Echanucia, and a few drops of honey for flavor.”

“A rather interesting drink.” She remarked, as her eyes started to focus in again. “Usually it’s counterindicated to use Toffida and Wormroot together.”

Pokey helped her to sit upright and made sure she was stable before handing her the cup. Once in hoof, he replied to her but moved towards the table in the room.

“Normally you’re right, however; the Grilshum acts as a neutralizing agent both for that and the pain.”

“What are you making now?”

“A salve for your horn.” He replied, as he emptied the contents of a previously unnoticed saddlebag onto the table. “You’ve got some nasty magic burns running up the length of it. Best to get it treated quickly.”

“I’m not surprised.” Celestia replied, as she reached up and gingerly touched the appendage with one hoof. “Luna put a lot of power into that spell.”

“If I had only known.” He replied, as he placed some herbs into a pestle. “I had no idea she was going to try to do that tonight. If I had, I would have removed that suppressor ring earlier.”

“How did you find out?” she asked, as she sipped her drink.

“Once Luna summoned the 22nd squad and mine to guard her during her spell the other guards started talking. I heard it from the 12th Squad as I was getting ready to leave for the evening. I bolted straight here when I found out.”

“I’m glad you did. What are you mixing up now?”

“Grilshum,” he said. As he continued, he held up each ingredient momentarily before placing it in the pestle. “Dragon’s Breath, Aloe, Silvates of Calcium, Moonmilk, and Dandelion.”

“That’s one of Starswirl’s.” she remarked, as he turned around to the table and grabbed the mortar. “You seem to be missing one ingredient, however.”

“Which one?” he asked over his shoulder. Celestia heard the mortar start to grind against the sides of the pestle.

“The Sorrowful Tear of an Anguished and Repentant Soul.”

Pokey then turned back around. Celestia then noticed that large tears had built in the corners of his eyes and were now beginning to flow down his cheeks. He moved the pestle to catch one of these tears, and then resumed his grinding.

“I think I have that covered.”

“Sergeant, you didn’t…”

“No, this is my fault.” He cut her off. “You’re going to say it’s not my fault, but it is. I knew Luna was close to perfecting the Inventum spell, and she and the Captain are getting desperate to have you back. I should have had that suppressor ring removed yesterday, if not this morning. You’ve been foalnapped long enough.”

“I have?”

“Yes.” He replied, as he poured out the pestle into a larger bowl. Fresh water was added and mixed as he continued. “I was actually going to speak to you tonight about the terms of your release, and the timing.”

“What were you thinking?” she sipped her drink again.

“Tomorrow, before dawn. I thought it would be inspiring to have you appear on your balcony in a blaze of glory and triumphantly raise the sun once again. After that I and my squad would be at your mercy.”

“Very dramatic.” She replied with a slight chuckle. “But do you think you need to hold me longer now?”

“No. You are free to leave whenever you’d like. My orders were for you to remain uninjured while captive, so I have failed and my orders are now revoked. If you wish to stay it will be as my guest, not as my prisoner.”

“I think I will wait until tomorrow, at least.” She replied. “Your drink is doing wonders, but I still don’t feel up to moving too much right at the moment.”

“Very well.” He replied, as he now dipped a long strip of cloth into the bowl. “This will just be a minute more, and then you can place this on your horn.”

“It would work better if you did it. You would be able to wrap it tighter.”

“If you wish me to, then I will.”

Celestia nodded.

“So, I have been thinking about our conversations.”

“Oh?” she asked.

“Yes. You’re still not any closer to my motives, you know.”

“Well, I suppose I’ll just have to accept defeat and wait for the Formal Review.”

“But I have thought about what you said that first night, about evaluating my moves.”

“Good.” She replied. “And what are your conclusions?”

“I believe that the sacrifices I am making are worth the end result.” He replied. “And that you will see that as well.”

“I believe I will.”

“You know, I really didn’t expect you to even care.” He replied. “I thought you’d just happily sit back and wait to be rescued. I didn’t think you would start psychoanalyzing me.”

“You do realize that I’ve never been that type of pony?”

“I do now.” He replied. “I guess I made some sacrifices that were unnecessary. This is ready.”

Celestia laid down on her stomach and angled her horn towards him. His touch was soft but yet firm, and he had the wrap tight without it being uncomfortable. He was swift in his movements as well, and it only took him a minute at best to have the whole length of it wrapped.

“Thank you. I believe that shall heal nicely now.”

Pokey nodded solemnly. “You’re welcome.”

“How did you know of Starswirl’s Salve?”

“I entertained the notion of being a Doctor when I was younger, but I didn’t do very well in biology, anatomy, or terminology.” He laughed softly. “The only field I was any good in was the Apothecary. It just so happened to dovetail into my college studies when I reached that point in life.”

“How so?” she asked through a deep yawn.

“I’m sure you’ve found my old notes by now. I was studying to be a history professor, but I quickly became engrossed in the field of mythology. As I studied the established and natural histories, I was amazed to find how many times the mythology was involved. Nightmare Moon, for example, influenced the entire Age of Diplomacy, but yet she had become this scary monster that would come gobble you up if you didn’t eat your vegetables by our modern times, if anyone even remembered her at all. As I recall, even your prized student Twilight Sparkle didn’t really know about her until two or three days before her return.

“So, I turned my studies to that. However, I was a poor student, and eventually I flunked out. It was then I made the decision to join the Guards, until I could save up enough to open my own pharmacy. Life…”

His eyes went distant and hollow as he paused.

“Life had different plans for me, however, and here I remain.”

He heard soft snoring, and he smiled. What he hadn’t told Celestia was that he’d also added Moon’s Breath to the concoction, and that the mild sleeping aid would probably not need long to send her pain soaked body into slumber. She’d clocked out on him just as soon as she'd asked her last question.

“Until tomorrow, then.” He spoke softly to her sleeping form. He slowly limped his way upstairs, paused to look back at her for a moment at the top and then left with the door wide open.


“Shining, sweetie? Are you all right?”

“The spell failed?” he repeated, his left eye twitching.

“I’m afraid so. The only other possibility is that Celestia was not in range of my spell, but I placed enough power within it to reach clear to Ponyville. From what you’ve told me, it is unlikely the Guards took her farther than that.”

“Yes. Yes, that is quite unlikely.”

“Sweetie?” Cadence placed a hoof on her husband’s shoulder. If she didn’t know any better, it sounded like several things had snapped inside of him already.

“I’m fine, Cadence, just fine.” He told her, without looking at her or anything in particular. “I think I just need to go to bed now. I’ll formulate the next step to take tomorrow.”

His left eye twitched dangerously.

“I’ll come with you.” Cadence replied. She didn’t want him to be alone right now; she was afraid of what he might do in desperation. This, however, brought his focus to her and the soft smile he now sported took away some of her concerns.

“I’d like that, thank you. Let’s go.”