• Published 11th Mar 2019
  • 1,352 Views, 146 Comments

Graveyard Shift - TDR

Princess Luna forms her own group to deal with the threats to Equestria.

  • ...

In which a lazy dog is jumped over.

Graveyard Shift

In which a lazy dog is jumped over.

There exists a thing called the Kotodama. It is the belief that certain words or tones can alter the very existence around one self. It is the explanation for why ritualized magic is so perfect when done correctly and so disastrous when it is not.

The Kotodama is truly a thing that exists, but it is not word nor deed that defines it.

The Kotodama is music.

Not such as one would hear from a band or bird song, though that plays into it.

The Kotodama is more than that.

It is the steady click of the loom as fate weaves, it is the scratch of the pen as the story is told, it is the astral choir of the twinkling stars and the turn of the planets. It is the crackle of the suns energy and the faint popping and twang of a seeds growth. It is the first cry of life and the last breath of death and every heartbeat and draw of air between, it is all things and nothing.

Every soul that exists adds to the music, every one a different cord, a different chime adding to the music that few can hear for long. Perhaps they might hear the hint of it in bird song, or the wind rustling through the trees. It is often heard in the first wail of a newborn.

But it doesn't take long for those who hear it to be distracted, to stop listening.

I have been listening to it for longer than many have been alive, seeking one tone, one note that I have been waiting for.

[ Wil 'o' wisp woods.]

Dust coated the insides of the old shrine, centuries worth of of cobwebs and grit coated everything in the small building. Everything from the rotted wooden pews to the stone alter was coated in a thick layer of gray and brown.

The lone occupant of the room was not spared either. He lay across the alter unmoving as he had been the one or two times some intrepid explorer had come across this place in the past, found nothing of value and left.

The last time he had moved was to close the door after one of them had left it open.

To be honest he wasn't even sure why he had bothered. She was gone, and no trick or ability he possessed was going to bring her back.

He remembered his time in the world. Centuries of being free to do what he wished dancing to the music of the Kotodama. Nothing was a threat to him, most were beneath him and those who were not, were not as clever as he and he easily fooled them or tricked them to make his escape.

Still in time he had found his nitch in the world. A small village he could raid and a large forest he could hide in, the ponies knew of him and named their forest for his lights, the little minions he had created, the fireflies that had been tasked to serve him, to lead the unwary to him.

He had feasted like a king in those days. Never culling to much to drive them away, or too little that they forgot him.

He never bothered to keep track of how long he lived like that, carefree and doing whatever he wished, playing in the forest, teasing the powerful, and feeding on whomever he wanted.

That came to an end when she arrived.

She was a knight, yet not of one of the gods. A unicorn of brilliant pastel aqua fur and pure white hair. She carried a blade and wore armor of another land. The villagers told her of him, of the monster in the woods, and she set out to slay him.

What a delightful game that had been.

As expected she had failed in the end and he had a sumptuous meal of it.

Only that wasn't the end.

A generation later a white haired pegasus mare with pastel blue fur came to hunt him. The tricks from before failed and he received the first wound he had in as long as he could remember.

Such was his surprise and anger at this that he played no longer and destroyed her where she stood.

A generation later she came again, and again, and again. Every fight became more and more difficult as the mare seemed to learn from every defeat, despite the fact it wasn't the same mare.

Every generation brought him closer to death and he found he was no longer as carefree or as known as he was before, he was spending his time preparing for the new battle with this mare and at one point he realized that he had neither tasted pony flesh nor even appeared to the villagers in near a hundred years. There was no reason for a knight to constantly show up to fight him.

So the next time she came, he hid, removed any trace of his existence and watched to see what she would do.

Finding no threat she took up a watch over the forest, built a home and kept watch over the town. And when she died of old age, a generation later she came again and moved into the same house with near the same routine. When she passed and returned a third time he made his presence known again. Not as one to fight but out of curiosity for why she kept returning.

Though she was prepared for conflict, he didn't seek it. He wished to know why she came after him generation after generation. She had no clue of course, it was simply something that she knew she needed to do. The music of life that is the Kotodama does not tell it's players the song they are playing, it just allows them to play and conducts them on the proper melody.

Her soul was tasked to hunt evil, his was an evil soul, the pattern was there. Yet it had been some time since he last did anything that would raise the ire of the Kotodama, while the disharmonious tune that he played would not be forgotten, his instrument could be changed.

It was not something he noticed of course, not until he had life times to sit and think to himself to realize it. So he stayed near by, still causing annoyance and pain, but anything too far and she would reign him in. And he found he listened.

Generation after generation she faded and returned. On his whim he aided against some bandits or a famine, or disease, and the locals that knew not of his past built him a small shrine. He found that his favored food was no longer palatable, though chicken was a delight he could not resist.

And then many many years ago, she stopped coming.

He waited of course, she had always come to confront the evil of the forest. Yet three generations later she had not, then ten, then twenty. The sky went dark and the sun and moon fought and she did not return.

He had retreated to his temple, to wait. She would return, she had to.

It was then many years later, that he realized she was not going to return.

Her soul was drawn to fight evil, to return over and over until it was defeated.

There was no evil left in this forest for her to need to return to.

Still he waited, he had nothing else to do, and the thoughts of doing anything else were never followed. The shrine grew forgotten and lost in the forest, the village became a city and he faded from memory and into local legend. But he didn't care, he was obsessed with the feeling, something he was unsure of what it was, something he could not shake and yet stole his desire to do anything.

He did not like it, but it was all consuming.

Dust settled, plants grew over the old shrine and yet he did nothing but lay in the darkness of the shrine, listening, disinterested in anything but the music. And even that was only to hear the note of the soul he was waiting for again.

Until one day.

The door to the shrine was opened once more, and the moon itself shown through the opening.

She spoke words, told him of her desires and offered him a chance to seek what he was looking for.

After thinking himself clever, to look for the knight had never occurred to him. But there was something else in the voice of the moon. A music that he had not heard in some time, the Kotodama had not forgotten him and it played a new tune, one that drew his interest more than anything else had in a thousand life times.

The moon asked for his aid and she would offer hers in return to find that white maned knight.

His response was a Cheshire grin, and four vulpine tails stirring from the ancient dust of the shrine as he rose.

Author's Note:

First recruit has been found.