• Published 17th Oct 2018
  • 3,019 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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2. A Mind Enraptured

Every day and night since Twilight Sparkle’s visit had passed in a sort of fever dream.

In all honesty, Rarity could’ve sworn only a day had passed. And yet, before she even knew it, the week had passed her by and she was looking ahead to her schedule for the next, eyeing it in the middle of a workspace strewn with order forms, dress designs, and books of history and myth.

Making Princess Luna’s dress had been going quite well, of course. Given that Lady Sparkle had explicitly asked her to incorporate midnight blue and sparkles as a call to the Princess of the Moon’s love for the stars, using the night sky as a base for inspiration was, quite honestly, a no-brainer.

That first night alone had been spent both researching and sketching out her ideas. Her muse had been held captive by the vampiress’s stare, the same as the young woman herself, then, inexplicably, released the instant she walked out the door and into the cool winter night.

Released to run utterly wild with inspiration. There was so much that could be done with the night sky! So much she could incorporate the ensemble, something subtle, but catching for the keen eye. Constellations, distant planets, shooting stars, and far more than she could imagine!

Her work desk looked like an odd mix of historian, dressmaker, and astrologist ever since. A fact her—ahem—darling little sister and friends picked up and drove into the ground with great vigor and a dash of vindictive pleasure.

“Y’know, I remember all those times you used to get on us about how we needed to keep things tidy around here,” Sweetie Belle mused from her spot lounging on a cushion on the opposite side of the room. She huffed and propped her chin on the heels of her hands and said in a rather fair imitation of Rarity’s voice, “Sweetie Belle! You need to learn to put things away after your done!”

“Organization is the key to success!” Scootaloo chipped in through a bout of snickers.

The coup de grâs came, naturally, in Apple Bloom’s thick, almost lazy drawl, “Y’all’ just flit from one thing to the next, like it’s nothin’. Ain’t got no sense of focus or direction in a thing she does, girls.”

Rarity looked up from her sewing machine and eyed their reflections in the mirror with a frown. “My desk is quite organized, thank you very much!”

“Coulda fooled me! Looks more like my sister’s room after Rainbow Dash comes a-callin’!”

“Could you not?” Scootaloo groaned, covering her reddened face with her hands. “I don’t need the visual of your sister and my sorta-sister together!”

The farmer’s daughter shrugged. “Sorry, Scoots.” Her verdant eyes glinted with mirth, betraying her insincerity. “I’ll make sure to keep from remindin’ ya that we got kicked outta Dash’s place last night because—”

“Shut. Up!”

Snickering, Sweetie Belle rolled over and grinned. “She’s not wrong though. Just look at all those fabrics and drawings and star charts and books Rarity’s got thrown all over her desk—like a little tornado came whipping through, eh?”

Rarity could do little but purse her lips. They weren’t wrong, damn the little troublemakers. They were so much easier to deal with when they were preteens—still in school, still so sure that being forbidden from going to the ice cream parlor or being forced to do chores instead of playing as punishment for their messes was the most terrible thing they’d ever deal with in life.

Simpler times. Though, difficult for her, as a true newcomer who hadn’t quite cut her teeth in the fashion industry, let alone garnered a reputation that led Lady Sparkle to come calling.

Thus, the current state of her desk—on one side her work, and on the other her newfound obsession, Lady Twilight Sparkle, Regent of the Night. Formerly the Regent, as the Lady herself had noted.

Who could possibly blame her? Thought they were common enough a sight to those who frequented the city at night, let alone the Moonlit Court itself, there had always been a sort of mysticism surrounding vampires. They among all others guarded the history of their kind as though it were worth more than all the gold and priceless gems the world could offer. What little was known of them—the fatal aversion to sunlight, garlic’s repelling effect, and, naturally, their need to feed upon mortal blood—had come only from direct observation over the thousand or so years since their first sightings in the realm.

The rest? Pure myth, a dash of speculation, and just a touch of romanticism.

Well, the latter more in her romance novels than works of history. But the point stood! In any case, there was good reason for her little side project, even if her sister and her little friends didn’t quite see it.

With a derisive sniff, she returned her attention to her work and muttered her retort just loud enough that they could hear, “Except my desk is divided into one side for work, the other for a side project. Your rooms at your condo look like someone summoned a tornado.”

“Hey!” Scootaloo protested. “I haven’t done that since I was eight!”

Rarity looked up and eyed her in the mirror, arching a well-trimmed brow. “Eight?”

“… Okay, fine! Thirteen!”

Before she could think to go down the line, Apple Bloom raised her hands in surrender. “Ain’t even gonna pretend on the plant magic. Still, point stands.” The farmhand turned singer rose and padded over to Rarity’s side, letting her eyes sweep over each sketch, chart, stitch, and text with a wrinkled nose. “Don’t think I’ve ever seen ya let things get to be such a clutter. What’s all this stuff? Dancing In Darkness: The Secret History of Vampires? Bloodlust and Moonlight: A Comprehensive Guide to the Vampire Courts?”

“The heck?” Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo was at her side almost immediately.Rarity watched as her sister picked up one of the thick texts and frowned. “I thought those were all those trashy romance stories you loved. Since when did you become a historian?”

“Where the heck did you even get these?” Scootaloo added. “A couple of these look older than my parents’ house and that’s been in the family for centuries!”

Rarity forced herself not to grimace or lose focus. Instead, she kept her head down, her eyes trained on the hemline. “I can have my interests,” she grumbled. “And just because I love a good romance novel doesn’t mean I can’t like history! And they’re not trashy, I’ll have you know!”

“Uh huh. Sure. And, see, I’d almost buy that, Rarity. If you’d ever shown an interest in anything historical that didn’t involve the fashion industry for some sort of new spin on classic designs.” Though she didn’t look, Rarity could feel those emerald eyes boring into the side of her head, gleaming with mischief. “So, why don’t you come clean, oh sister of mine? You’re a worse liar than I ever was.”

She couldn’t help it. She twitched and turned away, sucking in her lips to hide any expression.

“I am not.”

“You just twitched and made sure I couldn’t see you trying to hide a guilty smile. Also, your ears are turning red.”

“Redder ‘n Big Mac when Sugar Bell comes callin’,” Apple Bloom so helpfully chipped in.

Damn. She’d taught them far too well how to keep a weather eye out for when something was amiss. Any other day, she might have even been proud.

Today? Not so.

At the rate they were going, they’d never stop, and she’d keep getting distracted arguing back. And, naturally, a distracted dressmaker would produce subpar results.

That simply would not do. Not for a commission as important as this.

Worse still, she’d just about lost focus then and there. Her muse’s voice, so vibrant and clear until now, had faded into the background amid justifications and carefully crafted excuses—worded so there could be no hint, no betraying Lady Sparkle’s explicit demand that the commission be carried out with the utmost secrecy.

And here she was, letting it just slip away.

Rarity flicked off the sewing machine with a huff and rose so suddenly the girls scattered as if they were children again. To hell with it. A walk to the library will help me clear my head. Not to mention return a couple of these books before I get charged that ridiculous late fee.

“I’m taking a walk,” she muttered, snatching a book from Sweetie’s grasp with a baleful glare. “Since somebody seems keen on making it impossible to focus on anything today!”

“Come on, don’t be like that! We were just playing!”

Sniffing, she turned so sharply the hem of her pale purple dress snapped through the air, and stalked over to retrieve her purse from the wall hook near the front door. A wave of her fingers and sapphire sparkle of arcane energy was all it took to float her purse to rest upon her shoulder and flip the “OPEN” sign to read “OUT OF OFFICE.” With a backward glance over her shoulder, she leveled each of the young women with a stern glare.

“Do not,” she said slowly, “under any circumstances let a client in and take commissions. I’ll not have another Spring Fling Soirée fiasco to my name because you three fancied yourselves my assistants.”

“That was one time!” Scootaloo blurted, stomping her foot so much like the little girl she’d been at the time. “And you got them all done!”

“With delays, yes. And I’ll not have that happen with the Winter Solstice Ball just around the corner. So you will behave, or I’ll make sure each of your baby pictures makes it into every tabloid for the next year!”

Satisfied both that her point had been made and with the horrified gasps and sputtering pleas which followed, Rarity slipped out the door and closed it with a wave of her hand and a wicked little smirk.

Sometimes, an elder sister had to make it a point to remind the little ones who ran the roost. Even as an adult.

Especially, as an adult, she corrected herself as she hurried along the bustling cobblestone streets, careful not to find herself in path of any horse-drawn carts or carriages.

Canterlot itself wasn’t nearly as big as the younger, more metropolitan cities like Manehattan, but it was still very much the heart and soul of the realm. It wasn’t so much divided into boroughs or sides as it was by terrace. Rather like Cloudsdale, where the storm folk—like Scootaloo and her family—called home.

Ironic, given the grudge held in the old days. But that was about a thousand years out of date, give or take a century or three.

The shining city on Mount Canterhorn was divided into six terraces, each named for the founders of the realm—Rarity lived right on the border between the Platinum and Clover terraces, more on the Platinum side as the levels changed, while her sister and friends lived over on Hurricane Terrace.

With how the city was divided up and with respect to the founders themselves, it came as little surprise to anyone with a brain that the best libraries could be found in Clover Terrace—the Brainiac Asylum, as the kids so lovingly dubbed it. And among the lot, none save the Royal Archives themselves were more extensive than the Clover the Clever Memorial Library. If ever there was something to be learned, old Page Turner could help you find it.

Which is why it was so very striking that her quest for knowledge on one of the nation’s most important figures in the last thousand years met a dead end. “Surely you must have something else?” she asked. Only years of practice refining her self-control kept her from openly begging. “Something more in depth? Not that your other recommendations weren’t gripping—they were!—but the information seemed rather … thin, in certain areas.”

Page Turner looked Rarity in the eye, sighed sadly, and just shook her head. “I’m sorry. I understand entirely what you mean, of course. The subject has been of great interest to scholars for some time, and information is woefully scarce.” She reached up and laid a hoof on the newly returned books and said, “These were the most comprehensive and in depth text we carry on vampires, and certainly the ones that offer the most coverage on Lady Sparkle and her court.”

Woefully scarce? The most extensive? Rarity felt her heart drop into the pit of her stomach.

If that was truly all they had to offer, there was little more she could find. Worse still, what little she had found was barely more than common knowledge or those near mythical stories—Lady Sparkle, the most powerful of all vampires, had stood at the head of her court and planted her feet between the foulest creatures of darkness and the happy innocents which slumbered in their beds or partied and danced the night away.

Her history, her upbringing, even her overall demeanor save for what was seen in her actions as Regent of the Night and joint appearances with Princess Celestia and Princess Cadence was a complete mystery. Hell, with how they spoke of her, it was almost as if Lady Sparkle had just appeared out of thin air.

A prospect which, even out of her presence, sent that familiar shiver down Rarity’s spine.

Shaking herself, the dressmaker drew in a deep breath and banished that feeling. There was always another thread to pull. One yielding no results didn’t necessarily mean there was nothing to be found.

Just that she hadn’t pulled on the right one. “I see,” Rarity murmured, trying her level best to keep her disappointment off her face. “Thank you for your help, then. I don’t suppose you might be able to recommend any of the other libraries who might have any further resources? I understand it’s probably a longshot, but ...”

Page Turner gave a rueful smile. “Unfortunately, we tend to have the more extensive collections in Canterlot, miss. I don’t mean to insult my fellow librarians, we’re all quite proud of our own collections, but there really isn’t a better source for information on Lady Sparkle throughout history. I’m truly sorry.”

The thread came free and unraveled everything. And with it, Rarity’s heart.

Ridiculous, the logical side of her, that part so normally repressed beneath years of reading those fanciful romance novels, whispered. She’d only met Lady Sparkle once, for a fleeting moment. Anything more than her want to commission a dress for Princess Luna was the result of that now-healed cut on her left hand. Nothing more.

Still, that didn’t take away the slight sting she felt in her chest. Disappointment bled into her very core.

So much for finding all the mysteries of Lady Sparkle. Maybe she’d get lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the beautiful vampiress at the Winter Solstice Gala.

No matter.