• Published 23rd May 2019
  • 10,570 Views, 570 Comments

Timeless - RadBunny



When Princess Luna returned, the thousand years of banishment was a blur. It was merciful, in a way. Everycreature she once knew was there one minute, and gone the next. One stallion wasn't so lucky.

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Chapter One: The hourglass that never tipped

Dreams were an interesting thing; it had taken centuries for Luna to learn how to perform her duties correctly. It had taken even longer to perfect the art of dispelling nightmares let alone detecting them. Now however it was second nature, a reality she traversed and dealt with as easily as the physical one.

As she floated through the nightly realm, snapshots countless dreams rose up to meet her. Each had an aura, providing the Princess with a sense of how best to help if at all. The ones with a soft color sheen were pleasant dreams, be it of frolicking in a field, reading a book with a loved one, or having a pleasant day at work, if the pony happened to be a workaholic that is. The crimson bubbles were blurred and Luna steered clear of those. Privacy was certainly something everypony should have and lustful dreams were no exception, be it in olden times or now.

She had made the mistake of peeking in on those once.

Once.

The dream bubbles with black tendrils were her target; those that were fully engulfed yielded a nightmare in full swing. Each was dispelled in a different fashion, be it by vanquishing a monster, comforting a pony, or simply changing the setting.

It was an exhausting yet rewarding job but one that Luna wouldn’t trade for the world.

And to think I was once so unappreciative of Celestia’s willingness to make me a good breakfast! Or dinner in my case.

A smile tugged on her light bluish-purple features, the Princess of the Night angling her wings to soar among the dream bubbles. One bubble caught her attention, glowing a series of colors. Black mixed with green and blue, it was as though the pony wasn’t able to decide on whether it was a nightmare or a pleasant experience. She had seen this dream bubble before and dove in without a second thought.

Blinking in surprise, Luna found herself on a hilltop, a unicorn stallion sitting atop it gazing at a night’s sky. The moon was larger than normal and this time had the Mare in the Moon emblazoned upon it. The stars were brilliant, shining as though magnified through a massive lens and making the entire scene nearly as bright as day.

Ten dreams, and I still have no idea who you are! No ancient shopping bazaars this time nor views of battles long past.

“Ah. My mind has conjured you up again. Or perhaps you are real? I suppose it doesn’t matter now,” the stallion rumbled. His deep voice carried a strange weight to it, as though each word was thought out and said precisely with exact meaning and feeling.

His tan coat as times before remained curiously shrouded, somehow preventing Luna from seeing the exact features of the odd pony. Even his cutie mark was hidden by the mirage. The only thing unblurred were the pony’s eyes, dark brown and as strong as an old oak tree. They looked at her briefly, a strange sense of determination behind the stallion’s gaze.

“I will be in Canterlot within a few hours so I guess then I’ll finally get to see you in the flesh. For better or worse I do not know yet,” he mused, the landscape shifting as the stallion walked across the hill. “Perhaps something more pleasant before I wake.”

The phrase prompted Luna’s eyes to widen.

A lucid dreamer?

A massive lake reflecting the night’s sky was now filling her vision, the two ponies perched on a rocky island in the center. A strange hum permeated the dream now and the stallion sighed. “A blessing or a curse seeing you here must be. For from my mind I cannot see.”

That poem, I’ve read that before…

Luna was ejected from the dream as the pony woke up, the Princess immediately snapping herself out of her dream-realm state. Her sister was likely not even asleep, having barely retired for the evening after Luna raised the moon. For the few hours immediately following the setting of the sun, Luna browsed the dream realm and held night court on occasion, the later times being for the later every night.

“Sister,” she whispered, poking her head into Celestia’s chambers after knocking. Sure enough, the Alabaster alicorn was sipping on some steaming tea, perking up at seeing Luna enter.

“Lulu! What’s the occasion?” Celestia asked, stretching out on the massive custom-built couch, her regalia set neatly by the door.

“That dream again. The pony is supposed to be here, tonight,” Luna stated flatly, shaking her head slowly. “And I know of the threats. My guard is on full alert, but is it not odd? A pony in his dream signifying to be here on the eve of a dangerous tip off?”

Celestia nodded slowly, her eyes narrowing slightly. “This is the same pony you have mentioned before; the one with the dreams that should not exist? I would say it is most certainly odd and not a coincidence. Be careful, Luna. We may get these supposed threats somewhat often but it is the times we dismiss them…”

The Sun Princess let out a titter, waving her hoof at Luna’s unimpressed expression. “Oh goodness. I forgot who I was t-talking to for a moment!” Celestia laughed, not able to resist a bit of mirth. “You have, after all, been more concerned about security than I ever have! And I mean that in the best way possible Lulu, and am thankful for it,” she added with a smile, prompting a chuckle from Luna.

“Aye. Yet thankfully my plans were rarely put into action. You can rest peacefully, Sister. A portion of your guard is on standby and my own Night Guard is on full alert. Additional measures outside the castle have been put in place as well.”

The two rulers parted, one heading to the throne room for an early session of night court, while the other lost herself in the never-land of dreams.


As businesses shifted to their evening schedules the inhabitants of Canterlot likewise began to re-emerge. For many of younger ages the time of partying had barely begun and many clubs had begun to spin up their disco tracks for another evening of fun. When old lamps dimmed, newer neon lights ignited with their own fire, luring in all wanting some late-night dancing fun.

His worn horseshoes clip-clopping along the cobblestone streets, an unassuming unicorn made his way slowly towards the castle. Clad in a worn faux-leather fog coat, one would easily place such a pony as a lighthouse keeper or perhaps a rainy-day security guard. While larger than most stallions, his limbs and body were not overburdened with excessive bulk. The lean muscle that was wrapped around his frame spoke of a life constantly in motion and of regular use.

The clothing the stallion wore seemed to radiate a sense of innate self rather than mere fashion. The coat was worn away in many places, patched and expertly sewn from tears and gashes. The pony underneath seemed to carry himself much like the coat, as though needle and thread had worked its way through himself on many occasions. Odd bumps and angular shapes seemed to protrude from the jacket, but only if the stallion shifted one way or the other.

When the jacket was blown by a gust of wind, the tan pony’s cutie mark was visible for but a moment prompting a few interested looks. A light tan cloud stood out on his flank, a black shield on either side of the symbol. It was then gone from view underneath the coat, much like the pony that meandered in and out of various views.

A few ponies hawking counterfeit wares opened their muzzles to showcase their products but their words turned to ash on their tongues. The brown eyes that stared back at them showed no openness to such wastes of time, and a few who turned away shook their heads slowly. They had held his gaze a moment too long and seen the knife’s edge hidden underneath the placid eyes of the odd pony.

His target was now nearing; the Canterlot Court area. Night court should be in session and the old worn brass pocket watch indicated that he was just in time.

Time. Just in time indeed. He mused.


Princess Luna tapped the edge of her seat in thought. Something was amiss, that much was certain. While not as old as Celestia, especially considering the one thousand-year banishment, the Alicorn had developed a vague sense of when something was not right with the world. Celestia naturally had a more refined ability honed over many more centuries.

This however, was different. Even the two guards that stood at the bottom of the throne seemed on edge.

“Dancing Iron, you and your compatriot have been shifting for a good thirty minutes; it is most unlike you,” Luna remarked, no petitioners making their way into the court as usual. Night court rarely saw visitors but the ones who did show always made Luna perk up ever so slightly. Between the late hour and Luna’s reputation of being not as ‘amicable,’ however inaccurate that may be, it was somewhat understandable. I do admit, I lack my sister’s affectionate touch when dealing with fools.

“Sorry, your Highness. Just, something seems off. Even the other guards seemed a bit odd,” Dancing said, adjusting her helmet slightly as furry thermal ears poked through the helmet’s top. Her companion, a fellow but burly bat-pony stallion by the name of Spear Note, nodded in agreement. The pair looked similar in dark violet armor and grey fur, the result of a spell in the armor itself much like the royal guard.

“I must agree with her. It is an odd night,” Spear chimed in.

Luna let out a thoughtful hum, head shaking slightly. “I too would agree. This heightened security is not like other…”

Her voice drifted off as a stallion trotted in, a strange, worn coat covering most of his body. His eyes looked up and the Princess stiffened.

I know those eyes.

“Your highness. I respectfully request an audience and your council,” the stallion’s voice carried across the room causing Luna to nod in curiosity.

Such an odd and respectful manner. Perhaps we can get to the bottom of this.

He stopped a short distance away, then bowing his head and kneeling on one hoof. While such gestures were all too common, this pony seemed to lack much of the anxiety that usually surrounded meeting royalty as he performed the motions.

“May I ask your name, gentlestallion, and the manner of your audience?” Luna questioned, forcing herself not to shift with nerves. Her nights were supposed to be ones of peace, not this odd tension that was threatening to engulf the entire castle.

“My name is Shifting Sands, Princess Luna, and my request is not a simple one. Before I give you the true reason I am here, I must ask for you to be on your guard,” Shifting remarked calmly. “The threat to your life is real, and I have come to warn you and help if I can.”

Luna had to stop a giggle, waving a metal-shod hoof at the stallion as a bit of her nerves evaporated.

“While we are honored at your request, we are quite safe and wish to thank you for your concern. Our guards have everything in hoof for security here.”

The worry in the brown eyes that met her own stopped the Alicorn’s mirth cold as his words froze her entire figure.

“Your highness, your guards are the threat.”

Dancing and Spear lowered their weapons at the stallion, letting out a soft growl. “You dare!” Dancing hissed, prompting Shifting to shake his head.

“Not all but a group. Many are still loyal but not nearly as devout as these two. A portion should be here soon and they have deadly intent.”

Luna quickly activated a silent alarm spell, eyes narrowing at the stallion still kneeling in front of her. “How do you know all this? Who are you?” she demanded, standing up to her full height.

Before Shifting could reply four windows burst into shards, over a dozen ponies clad in night-guard armor standing in a semi-circle around the four individuals.

“Silent alarm?” one of them called.

“Delayed. We have a few minutes.”

One of the ponies stepped forward, holding a spear with an experienced grip. The mare took off her helmet, letting a gold mane spill forth as her slitted yellow eyes looked towards Luna.

“Hello, Princess. Sorry to barge in, but we’ve got some business to take care off. Nothing personal, really,” Knife Twist remarked, the Captain of the Guard then securing her helmet. “Dancing? Spear? Really? I told you to take some time off today. I really didn’t want you caught up in this,” the treacherous mare sighed, then shrugging her shoulders. “No matter. Let’s get to work then.”

“I think not!” a bellow caused the guard to pause, an amused gaze on her bat-pony features.

“And you are?”

Shifting Sands stood as his jacket began to burn away. The brown stallion glared at Knife, eyes narrowing with genuine rage. “Shifting Sands. Private First Class,” he grunted, prompting a laugh from the Captain.

“A Private? Some off duty Guard? Really? Oh goodness. Sorry, but you’re out of your league.”

Two of the guards were promptly flattened as Luna had heard enough, yanking the very stones of the castle’s floor to pin them to the walls. She then grasped her head in pain, a strange ringing making the world spin.

“Ah ah ah! No alicorn magic for you,” Knife chirped, tossing up a small red crystal that vibrated this way and that as it floated in the air. “Not good for more than five minutes, but too much monologuing already.”

The captain trotted forward and pirouetted, thrusting the spear forward to impale the still-frozen stallion. Her yellow eyes widened in shock as the pony blocked the strike, pinning the Captain to the ground with her own spear.

“Ten years I’ve been waiting for you, Knife Twist. Ten years to plan for you and your treasonous cultists. I was one of the original members but you probably don’t even remember me,” Shifting hissed, his jacket now falling away fully.

Leather barding covered the stallion nearly completely only ending near his limb joints. Odd strips of metal, bumped and angular, were seemingly welded into the armor at regular intervals. His brown eyes held no mercy as he blocked another strike from the captain, his own horn igniting with a bright tan flash.

The captain found herself encased in solid stone, having melted into the floor below. All she could do was watch in horror as the stallion stepped over her, Luna’s two loyal guards taking either side of Shifting.

The remaining group rushed the trio and the room was thrown into chaos.

Dancing was a blur of movement, cracking skulls with her own spear as her companion pummeled an unfortunate traitor with his metal-shod hooves. Four faced Shifting Sands, a few traitors behind those ponies that readied their other weapons.

Three spears then flew towards Luna, the Alicorn still reeling from the effects of the crystal. She had enough willpower to raise a shield however, but didn’t have time for a gasp as the spear passed right through it, the enchanted weapons countering her own magic.

Grasped in a tan glow, the three spears froze mid-flight then snapped in half. Shifting shook his head as he then rounded on the three guards, tossing the broken weapons aside.

Who is this pony?!

Magical tethers ignited along Shifting’s armor, whip-line arcane tendrils running across his entire frame, dancing across the raised strips of metal. Ropes of pulsing power surged up from the floor, feeding into the energy that swirled around the unicorn.

Ancient magic? Using the leylines of Equestria?

The air snapping with magical power, the unicorn seemed to skate towards the guards and hitting one hard enough to send him comically flying into a wall, armor dented and cracked.

A saber then drew from a scabbard along Shifting’s side, the stallion then frowning as the blade shone in the room’s crystal lighting.

“Right. Avoid killing if able,” he muttered to himself, and the saber began to glow slightly with his sand-colored magic. The edge melted back into the blade, making the weapon a blunt instrument rather than edged.

Dodging a swipe of a sword from one, Shifting broke the stallion’s jaw with a brutal punch, his own weapon blocking a sword swipe from yet another. Another traitor darted in, scoring a successful hit on Shifting’s side armor with a blade. The owner’s reward for a successful blow was a buck to the face, sending his neck twisting at an odd angle as he flew across the room.

He’s fast, too fast for a normal pony. And those blows are shattering metal! How…

Now facing another four guards Shifting Sands growled, arcane lines of energy sparking out from his armor as the sword spun expertly in his magical grasp. “You all betrayed your oath, betrayed her!” he hissed, brown eyes narrowed in fury.

He swiped a hoof across the floor, a series of blue symbols sketching themselves across the floor into a magical rune. Luna’s eyes widened as the old magic activated, sending a line of tan protective shields snapping out across the room, separating her from the battle. What made the Alicorn stare, however, was that her half-moon symbol was shining brightly in the rune’s center.

A guard tried to breach one of the shields and the magical entity retaliated by hitting the pony hard enough to crack his helmet, then returning to its original station in the line. Luna’s two loyal guards had dispatched three enemies each leaving just six ponies now facing them. The group was significantly less confident, only a few edging forward now.

Shifting trotted forward, an air of almost dismissive confidence radiating from the odd unicorn.

With a blur of magic he careened into the middle of the group, the unicorn’s arcane-charged blows sending the assailants flying into pillars and walls. One unfortunate guard met his face by being dazed by a blunt saber blow to the head, only to take a rib-cracking blow to his chest.

The remaining two traitors now threw down their weapons, Shifting Sands holding his blade at the ready as they begged for their lives.

“Mercy. That is offered now more often than not, correct? Such a thing has become more and more common,” he asked himself, saber glowing to restore the razor-sharp edge. “It is perhaps better that I do not make that call.”

As Dancing Iron stomped on the restraining crystal to shatter it, Luna shook her head as she activated her own armor, breastplate and greaves weaving into shape along her frame as she trotted towards the groveling ponies. The tan shields created by Shift vanished, leaving her to pass by unimpeded.

“In the olden days we would execute you without a second thought,” she remarked, a sword forged from a metal as dark as her cutie mark now summoned in her own grip. “But we are not in the olden times, are we? Private Sands, can you remove my Ex-Captain from the floor please?”

Shifting put away his own weapon, looking over to the still-mortified thestral frozen in the stone. “Of course, your Highness.”

The ex-captain gasped for breath as the stone spit her out like a foul meal. She then gulped as Luna leveled her sword, eyes devoid of any mercy. “We should kill thee.”

“LUNA!”

The air in the room popped, a flaming alabaster alicorn now hovering in the center. Celestia’s mane was ablaze with orange fire, a molten blade in her telekinetic grip as a detachment of royal guards thundered into the throne room.

The group skidded to a halt, only seeing a group of wounded or dead bat-ponies groaning and Luna holding a sword to the throat of her own captain.

“…What did I miss?” Celestia whispered, prompting a wry grin from Luna.

“Dismiss the guards and we shall tell thee. Not you, Shifting Sands, you stay. We are safe now.”

Not looking up from his bow to Celestia, Shifting simply nodded. “Of course, Highness.”


Celestia sipped a cup of hot chocolate as she looked down at the still-bowing stallion, then turning to look at her sister. “Your own Captain? How? And this one stopped most of them?”

Luna nodded, gesturing to a pile of weapons that was secured to the side of the room. The bodies both living and dead had been carried out, leaving only the two rulers alone with the curious stallion.

There was, of course, a massive detachment of guards outside the door.

“Indeed. I do not know her motives, only that she had been prepared to counter my magic. The spears are enchanted to counteract my shield spell specifically. Private Sands says this plan had been in place for a decade and he knew of it since he was originally a member.”

Celestia’s eyes narrowed, the bowing stallion then speaking up.

“If I may interject, your Highness. I was a member for the sole purpose of discovering their plans. I contributed in no way other than laying false information to delay their attack as long as I could. They did, for a time, consider attacking the recent Princess Twilight. I managed to keep their target to you, as such an attempt would have a higher chance of failure.”

The Solar Princess’s gaze softened ever so slightly, then yielding to Luna as she stood.

“Shifting Sands,” Luna called, trotting down to sit a bit closer to the odd stallion. “What is your full name and rank?”

The stallion paused, then stood and saluted the Princess with a snap of his hoof. A bit of confidence seemed to drain from his eyes replaced by trepidation. “Shifting Sands. Private First Class. First Battalion of the Lunar Knights.”

A sharp hiss left Celestia’s mouth, the ruler now trotting down to glare at the pony suspiciously. “That is impossible.”

Luna could only stare, eyes wide in shock. “Sister? When were my Knights disbanded?” she whispered, prompting Celestia to sigh. Shifting Sands now lowered his gaze, as though an invisible weight was beginning to settle on the stallion’s shoulders.

“Five years after I banished Nightmare Moon, they were incorporated into my guard. That was over one thousand years ago.”

The two alicorns now stared at Shifting Sands, the stallion standing at attention. His steely demeanor then began to crack, the muscles in the stallion’s throat constricting as emotion sought to delay his words. The confidence in his frame was gone, the pony seeming to have trouble standing. His eyes seemed somehow clearer than before as though a thin silk curtain had been removed between them.

“One thousand and seventeen years, your highness. I disobeyed that order,” he whispered, then unbuckling a small pouch on his chest. The Private retrieved a small item, setting it down on the floor and sliding it over.

At the sight of a white pearl moon etched in dark metal Luna’s eyes widened in shock,

and then began to water. A single brief memory surged to the fore as the Alicorn pointed at the stallion.

“Sister, I remember him,” Luna whispered, the implications of what was transpiring almost overwhelming.

“From when, Luna?”

“When I was a filly, a single exchange. I also remember him joining my Knights years later.”

Celestia glared at the pony while her sister continued to stare in shock. “Shifting Sands, how is this possible? How old are you?

Shifting grit his teeth, not able to stop the tears from tracing down his cheeks. “I-it is the other reason I came here, your Highness,” he whispered, not able to stop the flow of emotion that wet his fur.

“I came to seek penance. I made a mistake, your Highness. There was an artifact, and I thought I…” The stallion’s eyes widened, yet the Private still managed to keep his demeanor. “I just wanted to save them, your Highness. I couldn’t-I didn’t-I was too young to understand the cost of it all, be it within law and otherwise though. I found, I used…”

“Private Shifting Sands, What. Did. You. Do?” Luna barked, staring down the stallion with narrowed eyes.

Shifting shook his head, finally letting out a sigh. The guard stood as tall as he could, despite an invisible weight that made his shoulders shiver. “I used a Satyr’s Paw, over one thousand years ago.”

Author's Note:

This was a random idea that popped into my head, so here we go! Only a vague idea where this goes, so here we go!

For those not aware of the reference (Satyr's paw) Monkey's Paw

As a foreword, this is not a case of 'all-powerful OC woos princess,'
I highly dislike writing completely over-powered characters (no fun in that), so bear with me if this seems to be the case in this first chapter.