• Published 13th Dec 2017
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On Shimmering Steel - Clay Pigeon



Eight long years of conflict & war, all spent a þousand years in þe past – all brought to an end by þe combat-obsessed warlord Apollyon. Now, þe Warden has returned to her own time & must reacquaint herself wiþ þe life she left behind…

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Chapter II – Return

Chapter II – Return

The Warden’s mind was floating through a primordial expanse of nothingness. There was no sight, no smell, no sense of touch.

Is this what being dead is like? She felt a bit bemused. Yet my senses fail me. Why? Should I not be ascending the stairway to heaven, fated to forever sing amongst the choir invisible?

“ Sunset… ”

There was a noise.

Why is there noise? The girl thought. This existence had been in silence so far – why the sudden change?

“Sunset…”

A voice. Yes, she could tell ‘twas a voice now; so familiar to her, and at the same time so utterly strange, as if she had heard it long ago. ‘Twas calling her birth name; a name she had not used in many years.

A flicker of amusement flared within the Warden’s mind. The spirits of Heaven were trying to bring her over to the next life if she had to guess. Hearing her nearly-forgotten birth name being used so casually was such a curious feeling though, for that name had not been spoken aloud in a very long time; most only knew her title of Warden, and referred to her as such.

And yet, as the Warden lamented, the voice was becoming louder.

“Sunset, wake up! It’s morning!”

What?

All at once, the Warden’s senses came flooding back like waves filling up holes in the sand. For a moment, the knight did nothing. Rather, she simply allowed her eyes to remain at rest, content to simply feel her surroundings. She was in a bed, that much was clear – admittedly, ‘twas a much more comfortable bed than what she was used to. She’d likely be sleeping on the floor for a while.

Surprisingly, ‘twas Sunset’s body that felt the strangest to the former knight. She still felt the aches and tiredness of battle, yet at the same time, inexplicably rejuvenated. She still felt the strength and resilience of her muscular form, a forced adaptation to the harsh world of the eleventh century. However, she almost felt too strong, as if she was not meant to be as physically capable as she was.

Finally exposing her cyan eyes to the open air, Sunset saw that she was draped in a soft linen blanket. Pulling it aside to reveal her nude body, she saw that she still bore the same scars she had carried for many years; a new one screamed a bright red down her left shoulder, a painful reminder of a blade as jagged and cruel as the warlord who’d wielded it.

Confused beyond belief, Sunset tore her eyes away from her scarred and muscled body and looked around the room, and her jaw nearly hit the floor.

No… this cannot be, she thought in disbelief.

She was in her old room in Celestia’s house. Her closet door stood ajar, revealing her more casual wardrobe directly opposite to the door on her right. “Sunset, I know today’s a late start,” the voice called again, “but that still means you have to actually get up.” She heard footsteps coming up the stairs, the floorboards creaking against the person’s shoes. The door opened a crack and an off-white face peeked through, framed by glimmering rainbow hair. Her magenta gaze met Sunset’s own cyan eyes, and Sunset was stunned still.

Her mother, on the other hand, was glaring at her with lighthearted sternness. “Come on Sunset. I’ve got breakfast on the table and it’s getting cold.”

Celestia waited a moment before she noticed her daughter’s stunned expression and the absolute stillness of the room. “Sunset?” she asked, her voice now laced with concern. “Is everything alright?”

Rather than answer, Sunset could not help but see if this scenario she found herself in was real with her own two hands. She stood up, grabbing the sheets to cover her scarred body, and slowly walked over to the door. Her hand reaching out to rest on her mother’s forearm, Sunset Shimmer finally spoke aloud the single word she had so longed to say for many years.

“Mom.”

Celestia opened her mouth to repeat her question when she found her waist enveloped in the most heartfelt hug Sunset had ever given. She was surprised at first, and her body went rigid; she soon softened, however, and returned the gesture.

“Sunset,” Celestia’s voice came again, breaking the silence. “Did you not sleep well last night?” Sunset looked up at Celestia in confusion; her mother’s face bore no expression of relief at her return, only a look of concern as if Sunset had indeed slept poorly the previous night. In fact, it seemed that Celestia did not realize Sunset had ever been absent in the first place. If I must hazard a guess, she thought, I’d be inclined to believe that the Lord has returned me to my time in the same night as my departure from it. Sunset gave an internal sigh, a mental smirk blanketing her mind in sarcasm. How kind and considerate for the Lord above to do so.

Estimating that she indeed had never been absent from the rest of the world’s perspective, Sunset quickly backed away from her adopted mother, realizing that such a profound relief at seeing Celestia again would seem strange. “Never mind,” she said, hoping to brush it aside. “Just a weird dream.”

Celestia gave her a disbelieving look but smiled and nodded. “If you’re sure,” she said, sounding entirely unconvinced as she went back downstairs. “Breakfast is ready, by the way. We’re having French toast.” At the mentioning of those words, Sunset’s face lit up in a smile.

“Sounds good,” she responded, walking over to her closet in order to put on something a bit more normal for once. However, as she discarded her bed sheet, a glint caught her eye, and she knew that this demanded her immediate attention.

At the foot of her bed, glinting in the morning sun, lay her armor in a pile of padded cloth and dented steel.

Sunset’s mind started racing. Why was her armor here‽ This made no sense! She’d thought that her spirit had been sent back in time, not her physical form! How could her armor possibly be here, literally a full millennium after it had protected her last‽

Sunset took a deep breath to calm herself, attempting to clear her mind. Whether it made sense or not, her body had been returned to the present along with her spirit, and her armor was here; these facts, she could not change. However, she could definitely do something about it now. But what to do?

Deciding the simplest solution was probably the best, Sunset grabbed the pile of cloth and armor and shoved as far under her bed as she could. ‘Twas not much, and it definitely wouldn’t last forever, but it would buy her enough time to figure out something better. Turning back to her closet, she grabbed one of her more normal outfits and threw it on. It didn’t feel quite right, but she ignored the chill running down her spine and made for the kitchen, intent on enjoying her breakfast before it had an opportunity to cool further. Her boots clacked against the hardwood floor as she ran into the kitchen, attracting the attention of her aunt.

“Mixing it up today?” Luna inquired, her cocked head exhibiting her intrigue as she paused from her own breakfast. Suppressing her immense joy from seeing her aunt again at the last possible second, Sunset examined her choice of attire, which she admittedly hadn’t paid much attention to when she’d thrown it on a moment before. Her trademark leather jacket fell over a magenta top with her cutie mark emblazoned on the front. Combined with her orange skirt, Sunset realized she had donned an outfit nearly identical to the one she wore prior to her reformation.

Whoops.

“Looks good on you,” Luna said, halting her niece’s thoughts. Now that Sunset thought about it, she no longer felt any attachment to this outfit; ‘twas no longer a painful reminder of who she used to be. Now, ‘twas merely a set of clothes: a magenta top and orange skirt, nothing more.

However, as Sunset began to think about it, that fact began to unnerve her, making her feel slightly on edge. So familiar was she with gambeson tunics, with chainmail hauberks and plates of fitted steel, that having naught but simple cloth and thin leather as protection left Sunset feeling… exposed; naked even.

Yet another thing the former knight would have to re-familiarize herself with.

Sunset pushed that thought aside, certain that she would simply get used to it. For now, she had much more important things to worry about.

Things which could wait until after breakfast, Sunset thought as she saw the plate of French toast placed in front of her, her mouth beginning to water. “Gratias pro caveris me,” she muttered under her breath as she tore into the delicacy, cutting up several pieces to be consumed.

‘Twas the most delicious thing Sunset had ever eaten. Syrup dripped down her chin as she shoved piece after piece into her mouth, savoring the taste of egg as butter slid down her throat. Oh, how she had missed the taste of French toast.

“Sunset, come on!” Celestia’s voice from down the hall, pulling her out of her euphoria. “I know you love French toast, but we’re going to be late for school!”

Uh oh. In her delight, Sunset had completely forgotten about Canterlot High. Her shoulder slumped under her leather jacket. She felt completely unprepared. Storming onto the battlefield with a significant risk of pain or death, that she could handle. She wasn’t ready to go back to Canterlot High.

Then again, had she been ready when she first defeated Ademar and been recruited into the Blackstone Legion? Had she been ready when she faced down Jarl Guðmundr? Had she been ready when she stormed the Blackstone castle and slew Apollyon herself?

No… she hadn’t.

Shrugging, she got up from the table, grabbing her backpack on the way out the door. She would have to deal with things as they were dealt to her. She had done so in Ashfeld, and she would do so here.

She slid into the car, swinging her backpack around to rest on her lap. ‘Twas time to return to Canterlot High.

Author's Note:

For those of you who are wondering (Yes, all two of you), this story has Sunset as the adopted daughter of Principal Celestia. I’d recommend reading the story Finding Home by Cirrus Sky, as while I wouldn’t consider it canon to On Shimmering Steel, the basic points leading up to Sunset’s adoption in this story are pretty similar.

Translations:

  • Latin: “Gratias pro caveris me” – Latin for “Thanks for taking care of me.” –
  • Icelandic: “Ég ríf þig í bita!” – Icelandic for “I’ll tear you to pieces!” Spoken by the female Raider during their Unblockable Fury attack.
    This was the original line before I realized that, as a Warden of the Iron Legion, Sunset probably didn’t speak Icelandic; at least, not well enough to use it in common speak.