• Published 17th Oct 2018
  • 3,006 Views, 64 Comments

Moonlit Waltz - Carapace



A young woman catches the eye of a stunning vampiress and finds herself transfixed, longing for the undying embrace of Twilight Sparkle, the former Regent of the Night.

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1. The Commissioner

A breath of cold wind played teasing games through her hair, across her skin. Like a lover’s breath in the early morning. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, and the young woman shivered and adjusted her cream-yellow scarf so it settled upon her better and covered her bared skin.

Soft, silky smooth, and fashion forward, she mused as her sapphire eyes fell and lingered a moment on the three pale blue diamonds hand-stitched at either end. Fine work for an idle, self-indulgent project in the early season.

A fine work of fashion, better still to protect from the rigors of the Canterlotian winter high on the slopes of Mount Canterhorn, where the air was thin and the winds as harsh as the nobles’ coffers were deep. And that was just the summer storms!

As for winter on Mount Canterhorn-well, legend had it that Celestia, the Ageless Princess of the Sun, and her younger sister afforded the Winter Spirits one place to work the brunt of their harsh magics in exchange for some reprieve for the rest of the realm.

Personally, Rarity held little such interest in that tale. Nothing but the delights of winter play for the children and marvelous fashion for the civilized came from the so-called Spirits’ magic.

If they even existed. They were, after all, but stories—old wives’ tales her mother told to frighten her sister and she so many years ago.

Then again …

Rarity traced a finger along the hand-stitched diamond pattern. Luna, the Ageless of the Moon, had been just a story too. Nothing but a silly legend they learned about in school.

Until last Summer Solstice.

A shiver ran down her spine. Rarity leaned against the railing of the second-floor balcony of her prized boutique, the Fount of Fantasies, wrapping her delicate fingers around a cup of steaming tea as if to steal its warmth for herself. She glanced out of the corner of her eye at the lone pieces of furniture—a pair of wooden chairs and a small table for two, painted white with a bit of purple trim.

Or, more specifically, her eyes focused on the neatly opened envelope, card, and glinting brass letter opener laid upon the table. Imprinted upon the card’s face in elegant, flowing cursive was an invitation.

An invitation to an event which promised nothing short of glamor, opportunity, and intrigue.

Oh, was there ever intrigue in this.

Miss Rarity of Canterlot,

Her Royal Highness, Princess Celestia, would like to extend her cordial invitation to the upcoming Winter Solstice Ball, taking place on the twenty-second of December, year of Harmony two-thousand and one. This historic evening will mark the first official event in which both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna have hosted in over a thousand years, which, of course, will feature a joint appearance by the entirety of the House Guard, officers, and Lady Twilight Sparkle, Regent of the Night.

Formal attire is required. If you so wish to bring a guest, you are granted a Plus One with your invitation.

Please R.S.V.P. with your intent as soon as possible. Her Majesty looks forward to hearing from you and hosting you in Canterlot Castle.

Sincerely,

Raven

A historic evening indeed. On many levels at that.

Rarity drank in a deep breath through her nose, savoring the smooth, soothing scent of tea as she took a sip. A long day of work on her dresses had done little to dull the shot of adrenaline she’d gotten when her shop door opened to reveal that stately looking gent in fancy red coat and white gloves, come all the way from the castle to hand-deliver her with that invitation.

Frankly, the only way it could have been a bigger feather in her cap would’ve been if Princess Celestia herself had come. But, Rarity realized, that might be getting just a bit ahead of herself.

Right up there with being crowned Princess of Fashion—oh, the flights of fancy she had when she was young!

She said at a mere twenty-three years old. Yet, still, she had those little moments where her mind saw fit to wander back to those fanciful dreams, away from the trials and tribulations of adulthood. Or the mundane.

Such a shame about that princess dream never panning out, she could have used a helping hand or two. Or, at very least, she did miss those days she could trick Sweetie into helping out in exchange for treats.

Damn. “I suppose the boutique won’t clean itself.” Rarity sighed and ran her fingers through her royal purple tresses.

With a shake of her head, she drained the rest of her tea in a single shot, savoring the warmth as it ran through her very being. Rarity rose from her makeshift seat with a sort of elegant, almost fluid grace and moved to clean off the table. Clutching her emptied up and letter opener in one hand and the card and envelope in the other, she hummed a low, aimless tune and glided through the balcony door and master bedroom. The young woman ignored her plush bed’s siren call with all the reluctance of a young girl who scared of the storms outside.

Rarity valiantly beat back that insidious little voice, whispering that such rest would come in but a few minutes and descended the stairs, careful not to drop her cup.

But as she reached that last step, the blade of her left foot caught caught on the carpet, her ankle rolled.

Fire shot up her calf.

She let out a startled yelp, her arms wheeling as she stumbled forward and tried to right her footing before she tripped and was served a face full of wall. The empty mug tumbled from her hand with a clatter and skipped across the tile floor, but, miraculously, didn’t shatter.

Her kneecaps, however, didn’t agree with their sudden meeting with the tile floor. Rarity planted her left hand upon the ground, a mere half-second before her face could hit, she felt something bite the palm of her hand.

Ladies and gentlemen of the noble court, Rarity thought with a sardonic smile and heavy sigh. Making her grand entrance to the Winter Solstice Social, one of Canterlot’s own, Rarity.

A good thing such a spill had happened behind closed doors, or the vultures in the industry would’ve been circling in a heartbeat—with Suri Polomare the first in line.

A sudden throbbing in her left hand coupled with a sudden burning sensation. Rarity glanced down and let out a frustrated sigh at the droplets of blood already marring her lovely tile floor. She turned her hand over, a frown spread across her features as she loosened her grip on the letter opener to inspect the cut across her palm, just beneath her index finger.

Of course. Such a klutz.

Just what she needed as a dressmaker—and right in a spot that would be sure to pain her and reopen itself with her every movement each time she went to stitch or cut fabric. Not to mention how it would stain if she didn’t bandage it before cleaning up her—aha—little mess.

With another sigh, Rarity rose to her feet and collected her mug, then headed off into the kitchen for a hot date with the first aid kit and a bottle of antiseptic.

Truly, the epitome of class and grace.


If there had ever been one fantasy that stuck with Rarity all the way through adulthood, it was that she might be visited by an adoring caller in the middle of the night. Completely unprompted. Just three sudden knocks, jarring her out of one of her favorite books and a bottle of wine to whisk her away on a magical eve of romance and passion.

At this point, with her right hand bandaged and that cut stinging with each attempt to grab and place something on the appropriate rack or drawer, Rarity would be perfectly fine with the mail person.

What manner of romantic, magical eve such a call would bring would at least serve some entertainment. And who knew? Maybe the thought would be enough to match the whimsy of those childish dreams.

But as she felt another bite of pain shoot through her hand in the midst of rolling a length of mint green fabric and sliding it onto the rack, Rarity had to scold that last remnant of her childish self. There was no chance such a thing would happen. Not to her.

“Perhaps,” she mused aloud, a hint of a rueful smile playing upon her lips, “if there were some spell to turn fantasy tales into reality.” Pausing a moment, the young dressmaker brought her uninjured hand to her lips to stifle a laugh. “Oh, silly girl!” she teased as her mother would. “In such a world, you might dream yourself a little unicorn living in a carousel!”

Her parents did so love to poke fun. All well-meaning and supportive in their own way. It had been their prodding which finally guided Sweetie to pursue a career in music with her little friends, and they had frequented the Royal Canterlot Hall each time they came through on tour.

Naturally, it was right about here, as she had only just managed to rein in her wandering imagination and return to adulthood and the mundanity of cleaning her own messes, that fantasy was made real.

Three sharp knocks against the oaken door sounded out. Rarity turned so quickly her immaculate curls whipped and bounced against her cheek.

Who could be coming to call at such an hour?

Probably some overeager patron, knowing her luck. Someone who was so certain their need for a dress or suit couldn’t possibly wait until normal business hours. More likely, someone who’d just gotten their invitation and ran over in a hurry, determined to ensure they would get the first dress made by the newest, hottest prospect in Canterlot fashion scene.

Self-indulgent? Yes, just a bit. But a little confidence in one’s talent did wonders for business.

And Rarity made sure to put on her brightest, most winsome smile and straightened her shoulders as she turned and opened the door with a snap of her fingers and spark of dazzling sapphire. Magic well-practiced, the perfect way to make an impression on the shadowed figure standing in the doorway.

“Welcome to Fount of Fantasies,” she chimed, reciting her usual greeting. “Home of heart’s desires, flights of fancy, and—”

“And works of pure imagination,” the figure drawled in a melodious, feminine voice.

She stepped through the door, light washing over her form to reveal a lovely, hourglass figure clad in a dress of crimson and black, high-collared cape. Her long, flowing hair was a midnight blue with twin flashes of purple and magenta running from just above her left eye to the very end. As for her skin, well, the moonlight just seemed to make it glow like she had been touched by a goddess. The very picture of perfection and beauty. All of it, however, paled in comparison to her eyes.

Eyes as vibrant red as her very lifeblood, with slitted pupils that seemed to pierce through her being to take weight of her very soul.

Rarity felt a cold shiver run down her spine, one part fear, one part just a hint of anticipation and something else.

She licked her lips. When had they gotten so dry? “Y-You’re not one of my regulars,” Rarity stammered, cursing her nerves. Always at the worst possible times!

“No. I am not.” The woman’s luscious, crimson lips curved into a smile which revealed just the slightest hint of pearly white teeth. Most notably, a set of lethal canines too long to be any human’s.

Her breath hitched. Not a supernatural beauty by mere turn of phrase.

A vampire.

The vampiress didn’t so much as walk toward her as she did stalk with a predatory, sensuous grace. A subtle wiggle of her fingers sent a tendril of raspberry sparking from the tips and closed the door.

She held Rarity in transfixed in her gaze, as if a spell had been cast upon her in that instant. A thousand words, flowery praise from all her favorite books, raced to be the first to leap from the tip of her tongue.

All she could do was goggle and struggle to swallow down the lump in her throat, and blurt the first thought that managed to wriggle itself free, “Then—Then how would you know of me?”

“I know many things. It’s been my duty to help Princess Celestia—” the vampiress paused to bow her head in deference “—maintain the realm for a thousand years until her sister, Princess Luna, returned to this world. My honor and privilege then as Regent of the Night, and now taking my place as her loyal servant.” Her crimson eyes dazzling with mirth, she raised a delicate hand to present her knuckles and the silver ring and sapphire stone. “Lady Twilight Sparkle, at your service, Miss Rarity.”

No mere caller or overeager noble. With exception and respect to the princesses, Lady Twilight Sparkle, Regent of the Night, was the top of the food chain—figuratively and quite literally.

It was she, after all, who ruled alongside Princess Celestia for a thousand years, keeping the Midnight Throne occupied until such a time when Princess Luna returned from her imprisonment. It was she before and throughout her own princess’s banishment who commanded the Night Guard and Legions of the Night—vampires, ghouls, goblins, nameless creatures and even daring mages who dabbled in old magic—to defend the realm from the monsters who lurked and preyed in darkness.

And yet … even with all that known, there was so much mystery surrounding the legendary Regent of the Night the populace had practically taken to inventing their own stories to fill in the gaps.

Rarity hastily took Twilight’s hand in hers and dipped at the knee, bowing her head low. “Lady Sparkle, please forgive my ignorance! I didn’t recognize you!”

“No apology necessary. I’m quite used to …” Twilight trailed off, her nostrils flaring. She released Rarity from her gaze at last, her eyes instead settling on Rarity’s left hand.

More specifically, the bandage.

Her tongue ran across her lips. Those slitted pupils began to dilate, as if hoping to take in a work of art.

The vampiress drew in a deep breath through her nose, the corners of her mouth twitched and tugged into a hungry smile. “Delicious,” she murmured, her voice full of haunting rapture.

Another shiver ran down Rarity’s spine, coupled this time with a little flutter of her heart. “Er,” she began, unsure of how to draw away without being rude. “Lady Sparkle?”

“Hmm?”

“Er … may I?” she asked, gently tugging on her left hand in silent prompting.

Twilight released her grip and jerked her hand back as though she’d burned it upon a hot stove. Embarrassment flitted across her features, but was gone in an instant.

In its place, she affixed a stately mask. “My apologies,” she said smoothly. “The scent of blood is rather … enticing, shall we say? To answer your previous question, Her Highness, Princess Luna, is in need of a dress for the upcoming Winter Solstice Social.” Pausing a moment, Twilight arched a brow. “You’ve received your invitation, no doubt?”

She knew?

Rarity did her best to hide her surprise. A visit from Lady Sparkle herself was enough, the rest? Gravy.

“I have, yes,” Rarity replied. “Only just this afternoon.”

“Princess Celestia does enjoy her dramatic revelations,” Twilight mused with a hint of fondness to her tone. She turned away and clasped her hands behind her back, gliding around the room to survey her surroundings. “But I digress. Princess Luna has asked that I commission a dress on her behalf since I’ve been helping her acclimate to things since her return. I trust you’ll be making a queue for the event?”

Nodding once, Rarity tracked the vampiress around the room, taking in her every move. Appreciating that ensemble, of course. It was perfect, but that confidence, that gait, that sensuous sway in her hips all brought it together with the proverbial bang.

Twilight hummed, her smile returning. “Splendid.” She stopped in place just before the full-body mirror—barren of any reflection. “Then I would like to request the first available spot for one of your finest. Something in midnight blue that sparkles like her night sky—she does so love the stars.”

“I—what—but—I mean, yes, I can certainly do that, but there are—”

“Money is no object, of course.” The vampiress waved a lofty hand. “You will be paid from my coffers. This is meant to be a bit of a surprise to her. You’ll have to excuse me, but the dear Princess expects to wear one of hers from over a thousand years ago. She’s strange in her way—terribly shy and frets over how her legacy might make other receive her, but so stubborn I doubt I could move her with the help of all my kind.”

Rarity blinked. “Er, wouldn’t she—”

“Protest? Oh, she will, of course. But, as I transition from Regent of the Night to her lady in waiting, I’m well aware that sometimes I must take action in her best interest—a first impression is quite important, as you well know.” Twilight grinned, exposing the full length of her fangs and sent a third shiver down Rarity’s spine, and sent her heart aflutter once more. “Well. I suppose we both know that, yes?”

Oh, yes. Yes, she did.

Every bit of her, right out of some fantasy novel. Yet, somehow, more.

But there was business. A noble in her boutique, here to commission her work for Princess Luna. If ever there were a more real form of opportunity knocking, Rarity hadn’t seen it.

“Of course,” Rarity whispered. She coughed and shook herself, then spoke up, “I’ll need her measurements, though. A dress for an event such as this must be perfect.”

Crimson eyes glinted. “Yes, indeed,” Twilight purred. “You and I are on the same wavelength in that regard. Fortunately for us …” She drifted closer once more, that smile back in place as she reached into her bosom and retrieved a folded slip of paper, then held it clasped between her index and middle finger and offered it to Rarity. “The measurements are precise.”

Rarity accepted the paper with a hesitant nod. Curious, she unfolded it and gave it a quick look over. Simple enough. And notes for style? She’s good. “I can do this,” she said, looking up to meet Twilight’s eye once more. “Though, I’ll need to know if you’ll be picking it up or if you’ll be sending for it.”

“Have it sent to my villa, if you don’t mind. As I said—” she closed the distance between them before Rarity could think to flinch, her cold breath teased her ear as she whispered, “This is to be a surprise. Your discretion will be appreciated and rewarded.”

A few such rewards floated to the forefront of her mind. Rarity prayed with every fiber of her being that her cheeks not betray her. “I—No one will know until she makes her grand entrance, Lady Sparkle.”

“Just what I wanted to hear.”

Twilight drew away, her smile in place once more as she made as though to turn and leave. But then, she seemed to think better of it, and stopped.

And caught Rarity’s injured hand in hers once more.

The vampiress lifted it slowly, guiding Rarity to turn her hand palm up so she could bring the wound to her lips and drank in a deep sniff to savor the scent. “You should be more careful,” she murmured. “A wound like this is more likely to make you more … enticing in ways you don’t quite intend.”

Her piece said, she released Rarity’s hand and swept out of the boutique, the slightest twitch of her fingers enough to open and close the door in her wake.

Rarity stood stock still for a long moment afterward, her heart racing and chest heaving as though she’d just run a marathon. Slowly, she backed up to lean against the wall and sank down to sit upon the floor.

She had heard those whispers and rumors surrounding the mysterious Regent of the Night, Twilight Sparkle. For years, they’d circulated to create that mythical figure, one of awesome, terrifying power and refined, unnatural beauty.

Slowly, she ran her tongue along her lips. That shiver down her spine returned and grew into a tremble not of fear, but of excitement—yes, excitement. That was definitely what she felt.

The stories were all wrong, Rarity thought, letting her eyes fall to the slip of paper still clutched in her hand. She’s far more beautiful face to face.

For the first time since her younger years, Rarity left her mess for the morning and drifted off to make tea, then to search her study. There had to be something to bring light to some of that mystery.

All she needed was the right place to look.