• Published 6th Aug 2012
  • 9,600 Views, 128 Comments

Part I: Precursors - Auryx Saturnius



A royal family secret and an alien stranger threaten the peace of Equestria.

  • ...
49
 128
 9,600

2:4- Enemy at the Gates

Celestia nodded silently and the Didact continued his commands as they walked up to the pillars that marked the entrance to the castle. “This is where we part ways. Celestia and I will be going down the dungeon and continuing the search there. Twilight, I need you to spread the genomorphic spell I taught you to all of your friends and to the remaining royal family members when they arrive. You and Vulcan will try and continue to search with what you know here in Canterlot. It doesn’t take a deductive mind to figure out that Celestia told you information involving all of this.”

The princess and Twilight looked at him profoundly. “As I said, it doesn’t take a deductive mind. You were on the fritz yesterday: all riled up and worried about something. It was obvious that something very important was preoccupying your thoughts.

“That said, I expect you to know what to do with that information when the time comes.” He turned to her and rustled her mane, like what a father would have done to a son or daughter. “You might not have known me long enough to have learned my methods and philosophy, but when this is all over, I’m sure you could become a great student...”

Twilight smiled proudly as he nodded to her to continue on. With a pat of a hoof to his shoulder, Vulcan began to follow her down the hall to the rest of the ponies. She moved with a quick pace, like the Didact would: never wasting time and always knowing what to do.

As she walked, she let her horn charge with magical energy as it pulsed through her body and changed her form. Without a break in her stride, the violet light peeled away: her sneakers letting her walk silently across the marble. A dim green light caught the edge of her sight: a tall, handsome young teenager with electric blue hair matching her pace at her side.

“The Didact obviously put you in the lead, Ms. Sparkle. So, what’s the plan?”

“First,” Twilight began, “I’m going to try and find Rarity and Luna. The two of them should still be together in the castle boutique and, with any luck, the rest of my friends should also be there. After that, Ignio, we’ll go meet Jovian and Aria at the North Tower.”

The young prince chuckled at his nickname. “You’ve been living around royalty for too long...”

With a flip of her hair, Twilight smiled at Vulcan’s comment. Even so, she quickly regained the composure for her next question. “Do you know whether Jovian is bringing his key with him?”

Vulcan nodded and wiped a few beads of sweat from his forehead. “He wrote back to Celestia’s note and said that he will be keeping it on him at all times.”

“And Sirius?”

Vulcan frowned. “His letter wasn’t as comforting. His key had been taken just before he got our sister’s letter. There was nothing left behind by any would be assailants and thieves: the sword just vanished without a trace.”

Twilight shook her head. “Four keys in two days... those clerics move fast.”

“Your optimism of the situation is duly noted.” Vulcan pushed his cape from his shoulder, the purple flying behind him as it resettled on his back. “I, for one, have confidence in the practice and experience of the Didact and we certainly know that Celestia is capable of making a difference too.”

Twilight nodded as they approached the doors to the castle boutique. Even from the outside, the two of them could hear the murmuring coming from inside. Twilight could make out the wavy, dramatic tone of her friend Rarity and both her and Vulcan could hear the liquid voice of the Lunar Princess far and few between. It was obvious that Rarity was doing most of the talking: small conversation bits mixed in with mental notes she would have stated aloud, or exclamations she would say when she donned on a new idea or a slight miscalculation.

Their presumptions were correct as they opened the door and walked in to the sight of the ivory unicorn using her magic to look over the human princess with a professional scrutiny and constantly fondled or frisked points for her measurements. Luna herself, however, wasn’t entirely comfortable, as Rarity was examining her in her underwear: the only sense of decency and cover being a dark blue bra covering her breasts and a pair of similarly colored panties. Her pale skin was incapable of hiding the dim blush that was painted over her cheeks.

“I don’t know why you’re even getting slightly flustered Lulu.” Vulcan was bursting with snickering laughter at her sister. “It’s not like ponies are the kind of race that wears extensive clothing.”

“I know,” Luna frowned and seemed to deflate in her mood. “But it just feels... awkward, to be standing in my skivvies with someone poking around.”

“Oh, hush,” Rarity politely commanded. Princess or not, Luna was her client and as the seamstress, she was in charge. “Besides, you have a nice body curve and I can picture the best dress for you. Provocative and beautiful, but still with an air of modesty and regality.”

“I pray you aren’t bodging my dress simply because of this form now.”

Rarity paused, confused at the remark. “No, of course not... I think.”

The unicorn at last looked up from her work and stared at Twilight and Vulcan through her work glasses. She was taken slightly aback by her friend and her human form. Granted, the look seemed to work for her: a busty and waisted form under a lavender, short sleeved t-shirt and a darker skirt that only seemed to go down to the middle of her thighs. Rarity saw that is matched her pony form perfectly: a beautiful mare that is either awkward about the way she looked due to circumstance, or was devious enough to think of such a ploy anyways. The seamstress placed neither above her librarian beauty.

It was the young man beside her that stumped her the most. She had never seen him before, yet he was human. Granted, she has only really seen Luna as human, and it was that said person’s statement that made up the extent of her knowledge on the concept. Yet, the stranger with the electric blue hair seemed to be comfortable with the form he took. He had an interesting look: a solid red button down shirt and while trousers, which covered a pair of large black boots that added to his height. Fastened to his shoulders and trimmed with gold was a cape of a royal violet: similar to the colors that symbolized the royalty of previous times. Then it hit her. She had known that the princesses have had three brothers of varying ages, and she had heard one had arrived for the Summer Sun Celebration yesterday.

“May I inquire...” she began with a quiet, giddy tone, “Would you happen to be Prince Vulcan?”

He smiled. “En la carne, and please, simply call me Ignio.”

Rarity almost exploded with happiness and excitement towards the prince. Like spitfire, she began to babble about possible designs for the suit she was to design for him. Twilight, however, placed her hand on her friend’s neck, giving her the cue to calm down and pay attention.

“I’m afraid we don’t have much time for that presently. The Didact is adamant with time management at the moment.”

Rarity wiped several beads of sweat from her forehead in confusion. “I must admit darling that I’m not entirely caught up with what as happened over the past 24 hours. You’d have to explain who this Didact is.”

“Vicar regained his memories,” Twilight explained, “and ever since has been helping with those aliens from before.”

“So our stranger friend managed to regain his memories.” Rarity smiled brightly. “Well, I imagine he is just a smashing and wonderful character.”

Twilight nodded, but kept herself on the topic at hand. “He asked me to do something.” She let her magic coalesce around her hands with a violet glow. “He wants me to teach everypony the genomorphic spell that made me human.”

Rarity’s eyes shot up. “You get to make me human? Darling, what are we waiting for?”

Twilight nodded once more and extended her hands over her unicorn friend. “Wish me luck.”

The violet surrounding her hands grew in intensity as the spell cloaked Rarity with Twilight’s magic. The white coat unicorn hovered where she was standing, the violet light around her shifting into a brighter, pale color that shined across the room.

Behind the light, Rarity’s form began to morph into something different. Here forehooves and her hind-hooves all stretched out to a longer length and conformed into a pair of arms and a pair of legs. Her horn disappeared into her head and her muzzle shrunk into her face, forming a smaller nose. Her mane lengthened, the curls stretching to fit over her bangs and around her shoulders.

As Twilight poured more of her magic into the spell, something unexpected happened. Unlike when the Didact used the spell on her, someone’s magic caught on several rolls of fabrics as sheets of indigo and blue of varying patterns and designs were grabbed in an aura of pale blue. The fabrics came together around Rarity’s lit form and swirled about as the light grew to a blinding intensity and finally ceased as Twilight collapsed backward and fell on her behind.

The Rarity before them all was beyond their previous imagination. The fabric that had converged on her form during the spell was obviously her doing: an attempt to build upon her new look. Through some form of “fashionista psychic abilities,” she made it work. Her pants were of a darker, plain indigo, which stopped at the perfect length above her velvet flats of a similar color. A lighter turquoise made up a beautiful, long sleeved blouse that covered her entire torso: a complete, total modesty that still made her beautiful. Resting on her head with a slightly darker color to the blouse, letting only her bangs show with a dull violet, was a headdress that wrapped around her head and went down to circle around her shoulders and chest.

There were only two places where skin was visible on Rarity’s body. The first was her hands, nails painted with a deep, rich violet. The second was her face. Her skin was richly tanned to a light caramel, which only amplified the strength of the beauty in her eyes: a clear, sky blue.

Rarity flashed her hands out above her head and made a stance to show off her new look. The sleeves of her new clothes flew loosely around her wrists and her fingers glowed dully with the light blue of her magic.

She smiled brightly. “Khayaly! I absolutely love this! Such beauty and finess.”

Twilight found herself nodding dumbfoundedly. She couldn’t tell what Rarity necessarily looked like on the top of her head, but she could tell that whatever it was fit Rarity completely.

The former ivory unicorn gracefully walked around in her new attire and made notes in her head about the room. It needed to be reorganized, fabrics and multiples of her tools of trade laying askew across the marble floor and the furniture. Then there was still Luna, who she hadn’t even started making the dress she had planned for her. She could feel that her magic had increased at least tenfold...

Rarity flicked her finger up in excitement. “Idea!”

Her magic ignited in her palms and the many fabrics and tools lying around the room began to levitate and move around to either be used or put away. Pins floated around and stuck cloth together midair.

“There is no need to worry, princess.” Rarity began to get focused into her work once again. “I’ll make you a dress that would be worthy of the name of the moon...”

“Of that,” Luna said, “I have no doubt.”

Twilight managed to snap out of her stupor and revert her attention back to the task at hand. “Rarity.”

“Yes darling?”

“Rarity, the Didact had told me to spread that genomorphic spell to all of the Elements of Harmony and to the royal family as they arrived. I need to go meet Prince Jovian as he arrives, so I can’t stay and wait for all of our friends to pass through here. Could you cast the genomorphic spell on them when you see them?”

“Why of course darling.” Rarity only briefly glanced at her friend, too focused on the detail of her work. “I’m sorry if I’m not looking at you, but I’m still listening. Just teach me the spell and I’ll be sure to show our friends.”

Twilight smiled at her friend’s willingness to help and placed her fingers on her temples. Her magic ignited and her eyes began to flash rapidly with reflections of light and energy from the inside. Rarity found her eyes doing the same, and after a couple seconds, could remember the genomorphic spell neuron from neuron.

“I’ll make sure it gets done, Twi’.” Rarity turned her head and looked at her friend straight in the eyes. “I may not know who this Didact is, but one thing I know is that Vicar was nice and kind, so I trust him. You go do what you need to do, darling: I have everything covered.”

Twilight smiled and walked out with Ignio, leaving the fashionista and the Lunar Princess alone to work. Rarity turned back to her subject at hand and smiled towards the princess. “And don’t I have something wonderful planned for you.”

Luna could only blush and cringe at all the ideas she will have to be standing through.

***************

Twilight and Vulcan were quick to reach the northern tower of the castle. Even after exhaustingly walking up the numerous flights of stairs that lead to the observation deck near the top, the two of them stood firmly against a growing breeze. A few loose leaves and a small cloud of dust danced around in a rolling spin, neither deterred or affected by the higher altitude of the tower. That was when the two of them saw it.

The chariot was coming in from the north, pulled by four pegasi that glided with the wind current. As they approached, Twilight recognized them as Chinook Guards: the personal legion of pegasi that were assigned to protecting Jovian Amon Galaxia: Duke of Windsoar and Prince of the Northern Winds. Standing proud on his chariot, the prince was accompanied by his wife, the lovely Aria Cadenza Galaxia, who stood beside him.

Ever since Twilight was a young filly, and Princess Cadence was her foalsitter, she had known Jovian and Aria. She had always treated them like an aunt and uncle, and they always treated her like a member of their family. During the many times her parents were off on business with their respective careers, Twilight would spend the night with Princess Celestia in the large castle. But, every so often, though it was quite rare, neither her parents or Princess Celestia could care for her, so Princess Cadence would watch her at her house in Windsoar, where Twilight would spend time with her and with the princess’ parents.

Jovian was a jolly, boisterous kind of stallion: always loved to entertain the young filly with his numerous stories of adventure and embellishment. As always, his wife Aria would sit by him, quietly like the mare she generally was, and would support her husband. On the occasional visit, Twilight would be able to munch on a platter of cookies that Aria was well known to make, and would sit on a rug and listen to the stories of Jovian and his endless exploits.

Over time, Twilight had come to adore the two of them, as much as she did Princess Cadence, and would always beam with excitement when that rare opportunity to visit them came up once or twice a year. Even now, as they approached on their chariot for the Summer Sun Celebration, Twilight felt the nostalgia of the times spent with them.

Jovian was a large stallion as well, as large if larger than Big Macintosh back in Ponyville. Even so, he was a strong flier and could make an excellent pegasi. His cream orange coat was well kept and his red mane and tail were well groomed. Still, even the majesty and awe of an alicorn was no match for the raw beauty and lustrous being of his unicorn wife. Aria was well known in northern Equestria to be perhaps the fairest mare in the land. Many in Canterlot who were of such high prestige to know of the many family members of Celestia and Luna dared to place her beauty above that of the Canterlot supermodel Fleur de Lis, and with good reason too.

Aria’s light pink coat glowed in the sunlight and her mane flew in the wind like a fluttering flag of sparkling lavender. She too had violet eyes, with a similar intensity to Twilight’s, and she had loved to pat the filly on the head and tell her the same thing over and over again. “One of these days,” she would say with her quiet, but beautiful voice, “your eyes will become the most beautiful in all of Equestria. No stallion would even be able to look you in the eyes and not fall head over hooves for you then.”

Thinking back at it, it made Twilight smile. Now, as the chariot pulled onto the observation deck and the Chinook Guards folded their wings and landed, it was Twilight’s turn to impress the two of them.

“What strange creatures!” Jovian exclaimed, “I’ve never seen anything like them in my travels.”

“Darling,” Aria was tilting her head, trying to recognize the two of their faces, “they look familiar, as if we’ve met them before.”

“Well,” Vulcan rang out, his arms outstretched, “at least I’m relieved that my own brother can recognize me before his wife could.” He laughed sarcastically.

“Vulcan, you little tree hugger, is that you?” Jovian was more than surprised to hear his younger brother’s voice from the bipedal creature in the red coat and purple cape.

“In the flesh, hermano.”

“Vulcan!” The large alicorn came forward and embraced his brother in his forehooves. Even as a human, Vulcan was still only as tall as the cream orange prince, and he was still being crushed by said prince’s embrace. Aria, on the other hand, focused on Twilight, still trying to place where she had seen her before.

She was at a loss, and inquired, “Would this be your marefriend, Vulcan?”

Twilight smiled, “I’m afraid not Aunt Aria: he’s just not my type...”

Aria beamed at the voice. “Twilight! By the stars, I haven’t seen you since you were a little filly.”

Jovian removed himself from his brother, who quickly began to gasp for air, as the stallion turned to the young woman. “This can’t be the little bookworm would stay up and listen to my stories...”

“It certainly is Uncle Jovian.”

He too broke out in a smile and began to embrace her. It wasn’t as hard as the embrace he gave to Vulcan, but Twilight could still feel the uncomfortable pressure between the alicorn’s muscles. “I missed you two as well...”

“It has certainly been a long time.” Jovian released her and waved a hoof at both of them. “What has happened to you two. What are you?”

“We’ve been transformed into a race of sentient beings called ‘humans’,” Vulcan explained, “Twilight has learned a spell from a friend to do it. Both Tia and Lulu are also like this, along with Twilight’s many friends.”

“Where are our sisters?” the prince asked boisterously, “I thought they would be meeting us here.”

“I’m afraid something came up that required a change in plans,” Twilight said smoothly. “We can explain more on the way to your room.”

Jovian sighed a hefty sigh of relief. “Ah! after a long trip, it is always good to rest. Come, come you two.” He walked beside Twilight, the dull glow of a pale blue used to keep her close to him. “Now, I have told you many stories over your foalhood, dear bookworm, please share one with your aunt and uncle while we walk.”

***************

“How awful of a situation...”

Jovian clenched his cup of water tightly, tiny cracks beginning to dance across the glass. The genomorphic spell had worked without a hitch on him and his wife, and the two of them sat naturally on the sofa in their room. Twilight and Vulcan had taken seats across from them and, after the servants had delivered their respective drinks and left them alone, told the prince and princess the story of everything that had transpired over the past three days.

“So, they’re after our keys, are they?” Jovian looked down at the sheathed key hanging from his waist and resting on the sofa. “Well to get mine, they’ll have to go through me. I doubt they’d ever be able to even get close to my father’s.”

“Either way,” Twilight spoke up, taking a sip of her tea, “The Church of Unitology still has four keys: Sirius’s, Celestia’s, Luna’s and Vulcan’s. Is the Tempest only operable when all six keys are present?”

“Of course,” Jovian boasted, “When my father fashioned that lock onto the Tempest, he made sure that whomever wanted to enter had to get through the six most powerful magicians in the known lands of Astra.”

Twilight nodded, but Vulcan spoke up. “That may have been father’s intentions, but these Unitologists have been quite resourceful. Once once did they ever get in a fight over the keys, and that was merely because they had to stop and find the Didact before he regained his memories.”

“Do you think I couldn’t handle them?”

Vulcan shook his head. “Of course not, hermano. I’m only saying that you need to be careful.”

“And that you can count on us to help in any way possible,” Twilight added. Jovian smiled as he leaned over and embraced her in a bear hug.

“Of course we can count on you malyutka.” He chuckled as he let her go to try and uncrush herself.

Aria stood up and stretched out her arms. “Moy dorogoy, let us take a walk across the castle. I haven’t really stretched my legs for hours.”

“Of course.” Jovian extended his arm out and politely lead her to the door. He turned back to face Twilight and Vulcan. “Are you two coming?”

The two of them glanced at each other before both of them stood up and followed the prince out to the hallways.

“So,” Jovian started, “Celestia is working with this stranger who calls himself the Didact. Do you know where the two of them are now?”

“I’m afraid not,” Twilight replied. “When we split up, Didact and Celestia were heading to the dungeon where they were holding a Unitologist who had been captured by her. Knowing the Didact, they had probably already left to some other place by now, searching for answers.”

“Acceptable.” Jovian strolled casually down the hallway besides Twilight, Aria and Vulcan on his other side. “I’d imagine that they will be back in time for the Summer Sun Celebration. Celestia is an adult and can go where she pleases, so I won’t complain of her absence. What of Lulu?”

“Princess Luna is in the castle boutique with an eccentric Rarity, making her dress for the celebration. Sometime over the next couple days, I’m sure you and Aria should go and see her too uncle Jovian.”

“And who is this Rarity, you speak of?” Aria inquired.

“She’s a friend of mine. In Ponyville, she is known widely as the town’s best designer and seamstress. She even managed to find orders from the prestige of Canterlot.”

Aria smiled. “If she is a friend of yours dear, then she is a friend of ours. Perhaps we can walk down there now. The boutique isn’t obscenely far away and I’d love to meet this friend of yours.”

Twilight smiled as she lead them towards the boutique. They made their way through the winding hallways and passages, eventually crossing the center hall on the floor level. Pillars lines their way across the room, eventually leading out to the group’s right and towards the open entrance of the castle. The sunlight of the setting sun made numerous shadows and reflections of orange and pink light through the whole room. Celestia, where ever she was, seemed to still be keeping tabs on the sun, even with all the commotion and conspiracy facing them. Twilight looked at the sun’s rays, felt its warmth, and was reassured that everything would be okay. Somehow.

But, as they continued down the hall to the appropriate hallway, that feeling grew weaker, and an overall sense of dread seemed to cross Twilight. It felt like something was wrong- something was off- and the feeling that she should be trying to do something grew stronger.

It’s behind you.

Her attention was drawn to a soft, but distinctive click. It was clearly not natural, and she wheeled around. Twilight finally found the source of the dread that was beginning to overwhelm her, as she looked down the barrel of an Inferi rifle.

Get down!” The reaction was instantaneous. As the group dropped to the floor as fast as they could, the Inferi infantryman fired his weapon and the projectile was sent flying across the room at supersonic speeds. Twilight’s warning was only just in time, as the projectile tore through several pieces of her hair and ricocheted off of one of the multiple marble pillars and flew off in another direction.

Vulcan reacted first, his palms erupting with olive colored magic as he shot off several bursts as fast as the projectile. The infantryman was unable to dodge and fell back on the floor, mortally wounded, his gun flying off several feet away.

At the sound of a struggle, several other infantrymen came forward from the pillars, slowly surrounding the group with sabres drawn. The four of them could only back into each other; Vulcan, Jovian and Twilight all taking a fighting stance against their enemy. Aria, who didn’t know how to fight, took to standing behind her husband.

One of the infantrymen, obviously the commander by a more ornate uniform and sabre, laughed at them. “We only want the Key of Wind. If you give it to us, then I’ll make sure your respective deaths are painless...”

Jovian let out one of his well known jovial laughs. “You want my sword? Then you can have it, durachit'.”

With a powerful swing, he unsheathed the key from his waist, and a powerful gale of wind roared through the hall, pushing the soldiers back in surprise. The gleam of steel played against the orange and blue handle, the handguard shaped in the distinct spiral of a roaring hurricane. Engraved with a darker steel were the ornate designs and his namesake. “Ventos Mutationem” on one side, “Prince Jovian Amon Galaxia, Duke of Windsoar” on the other.

The infantry unit staggered back together, recovering from their surprise from the gale. The leader snarled aggressively towards the four of them. “Fine, it was your choice to die painfully!”

Jovian bellowed and pushed out his hands, another gale bending to his will and shooting out towards the infantry. Their leader was unphased, as he rose his sabre and slashed through the incoming wind, some, unforeseen magic separating his control over the wind and pushing it out of harm’s way. He made his way towards Jovian, slashing and cutting through the prince’s magic. With a great swing, he rose the sabre over his head and brought it down, where Jovian caught the blade with his own.

That was one of the differences between the alicorn family members: while most kept the keys as simply nothing more to show than a trophy, Jovian liked to have his key sharpened, and used it as his tool of choice.

He was quick to react and snuck his sword under the Inferi leader’s arms, slicing thoroughly through his chest and leaving a large gash of his rusty colored blood splattered over the infantry leader’s dark uniform. He fell onto the floor, gasping for his breath and bleeding out.

The rest of the infantry squad made their charge on the group. Vulcan and Twilight both shot off bolts of magic against them, but found that their sabres also dispelled their attacks. As they advanced with sabres raised, Vulcan pulled out his own sword, and Twilight manifested her own blade, taking a split second to check that her magic was completely separated from the weapon, then did her best to block or deflect the attacks that came to her. The blows were continuous, and every time the swords clashed, Twilight flinched and was pushed backward. After being pushed into the nearest pillar, the infantryman swung to the side and Twilight ducked, the sword bouncing off of the marble as she came up and shot her palm into his ribs and discharged a burst of magic directly into his torso. He dropped like a ragdoll, paralyzed by her spell of choice and hit the floor, unable to get up.

Vulcan fared better in his fight and was far less merciful. While the swords of him and his opponent clashed, he didn’t wince at the ring of steel and he countered with a straight lunge to the head with his first victim, then a slash across the throat with his second. The smell of blood didn’t hinder him, nor did the splatter of rusty colors across his coat jacket.

Jovian took the bulk of the infantrymen, numbering at seven. The whole time, he stood by his wife and protected her from the incoming slashes and the charging enemies. Aria let herself be a ragdoll at her husband, knowing he’d never let her be put in harm’s way. The prince used his sword when it was necessary and used his control over the wind as much as possible. The Inferi, while well trained, ultimately couldn’t stand a chance towards the prince’s greater prowess with the sword and sky. It was quick work for the three of them to finish off the infantry unit.

Jovian looked down at the group of soldiers. Most were dead, their rustblood pouring onto the marble as their bodies lost any color that may have previously been with them. Few were simply unconscious, unable to move due to the spells cast on them from Twilight. He heaved a heavy sigh.

“Is everybody alright?” Jovian asked. He turned to check on his brother and Twilight, making sure that the Inferi didn’t injure them extensively.

The only reply came from a whimper behind him. “Dorogoy...

The three of them turned to the voice, Jovian using all his might to hold back the deep rage building inside of him. It was as he expected: Aria was being held with a sabre to her throat. What they all didn’t expect was that it was by the Inferi leader: the one that Jovian let fall to the ground and bleed out. The gash through his uniform was the only indicator that he had ever been hit: his yellowish skin having been completely healed.

“You can count yourself lucky,” the leader said, “that I can regenerate myself. Only the better half of the Hunters can do it, so I’d be wise to sheath your sword.”

“Don’t do it Jovian.” Aria’s weak plea was met with the cool steel being dragged closer along her throat.

He was furious. Jovian couldn’t handle that fact that this creature had the gall to take his wife as a hostage in its ploy. With a crushing grip on the handle, he quietly lifted the sword, and sheathed it at his waist, lowering his fist to his sides.

“Excellent, well done... Now, toss it over here.”

He was reluctant, and neither Twilight or Vulcan could help him. Jovian slowly unbuckled his sheath from his belt and held it in his hands. For long seconds, he stared at it, contemplating what to do. Ultimately though, he gave in, and tossed the key to the floor at the feet of the Inferi.

The leader smiled and, using his own magic, bent his shadow around and lifted the key to his waiting free hand. “You’re smart, dear prince, but now, I have no need for this hostage...”

“No...”

“Now, you can watch her die and realize that you have been b-” Without a sound, something ripped through his eye and silenced him. He fell to the ground like an abandoned puppet, Aria able to push away the sword at her neck and running towards her husband. The two of them embraced for the longest time, Aria crying into Jovian’s shoulder, not wanting to let go.

Twilight heard something drop behind her, the echo of metal hitting the floor ringing in her ears. She turned around to see Rarity, standing with her hands over her mouth, staring down at the rifle that the first infantryman held with tears flowing. Twilight quickly ran over to her friend and wrapped her in hug. Rarity readily accepted it, and freely sobbed into her friend’s breasts. Twilight did her best to comfort her.

“What did I do?” the fashionista would ask her, over and over again. “What did I do? What did I do?”

“You saved Princess Aria, Rarity...” Twilight told her.

“It felt... it felt so natural,” she sobbed. “Holding that weapon and stopping him... it felt... it felt right...”

Rarity continued to cry as Twilight fought to hold back her own tears. When the clerics attacked them in the dining hall, the fear was primal: so great that she couldn’t even cried if she tried. Now it was different. She feared for her innocence: for her humanity and consciousness. These creatures only wanted to hurt, destroy and kill anything in their paths: to simply survive against a foe like that, meant having to turn off the voices and rationale inside of her that made her kind and understanding. The Didact had told her that he had dealt with the Prophet of Truth and with those like him all his career. She respected him, and trusted him, but she didn't want to be like him. She didn’t want to lose her compassion and love...

...and that was why she started to cry.

Author's Note:

<(Whirl/Click)>
JOHN DO THE WINDY THING!!!

Also, 50'000 words!

If hasn't become clear by now, each of the royal family has a cultural theme centered around them. Vulcan's is Spanish, Luna's is British, Jovian's is Russian and Celestia's is American. WELCOME TO THE LARGEST CHAPTER SINCE ACT 1 CHAPTER 4, now even larger!

For the record, I made Rarity Arabic. Why? Because that is how my mind's eye pictures it. I can see her as the kind of fashionista that creates beauty and wonder in her work, why at the same time modesty and dignity, so I pictured a Muslim vibe to her humanity. Is she Muslim? No, and under no circumstances is the fact that she was made an excellent shot have anything to do with the fact she is Arabic. She has amazing eyes, so I pictured that aiming and a scope would be the kind of weapon she would do most good with... minus the emotion that she would kill someone. The rifle that she had picked up from the dead Inferi was the Xenon Mk. I Type C Plasma Rifle. HUMAN COUNTERPART TIME!
<(Whirl/Click)>

P.S. Thanks all who've read this story, because I've finally hit the 2'000 views mark. Thanks all of you!