• Published 11th Sep 2019
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Twilight's Nightmare - Nightsclaw

Twilight in her most desperate of moments, issues a cry for help. She was not expecting the Nightmare to be her saviour.

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CH 33 Nightmare's Vault

The feeling of sinking through the shadows was starting to become routine. Candice just dropped her hooves for the soft landing. It proved unnecessary as she impacted an extremely soft surface.

They arrived in a place that had no light at all. Her thestral vision kicked in, and the unique colours of darkness greeted her in what looked like a small room or vault. Looking down, she saw they were on a bed that seemed big enough for one full-sized Alicorn to sleep on, or a few regular-sized ponies.

Twilight was there reclining next to her. In the dark, she still looked just as beautiful as she did in the daylight, only in a different way. Her eyes had the slit appearance that Candice’s own did at the moment. She had dropped the vision protection spell she had on her eyes since it would not be needed here. Candice laid down next to Twilight, close enough for their wings to touch.

Twilight suggestively trailed a hoof along Candice’s withers then wrapped a hoof around her and pulled her close against her barrel. The feeling of closeness and warmth filled her from behind as one of Twilight’s wings became a blanket over her.

“Private enough for you?” It seemed that Night was talking in a playful tone of fake mockery.

Candice just smiled a bit and nodded.

Twilight’s new necklace seemed to be vibrating between the two of them, it almost felt like a deep purr from a powerful animal. Just in case Nova was trying to talk to her, Candice paid attention to the pattern to see if there was code there, though none was found. The vibrations seemed strong enough to almost be a massage aid.

Candice cast her eyes about the room as she relaxed against Twilight’s warmth. The walls of the room were filled with shelves, racks and cupboards. It seemed the bed was in the middle of a well-organised hybrid of a store-room and an armoury.

Almost all of the storage places were completely filled and precisely laid out. Two sections had items missing which interrupted the pattern. The first was a weapon rack that was missing a dagger. The other section was black gems, each spaced neatly on velvet cushions along a shelf. It appeared two were missing.

As Candice was taking in the room, Twilight seemed to also be looking around in curiosity. By the changes of expression on her face, it seemed like she was having an internal conversation and was not trying to hide the fact.

For a completely sealed room with no apparent exit, the air was clean. It smelled a little of rare night flowers, but the scent of lavender from Twilight’s coat was what pleasantly filled her nostrils the most.

Candice took a deep breath. Twilight’s base scent, hidden beneath her shampoo and the ever-present mix of parchment and ink, was a weak mix of pegasus and eathpony. It gave the impression of laying in the grass under a tree with a fresh evening breeze softly caressing one’s coat. That lovely and delicate scent was almost completely hidden under the sharp tang of Twilight’s powerful unicorn magic. To Candice, it was heavenly. Even if she was made for Twilight, the scent was making her wonder if it was actually Twilight that was made for her. She was the older between them, after all.

Candice just waited for the conversation to conclude. She was patient, and Twilight was well worth the wait.

“So you wanted to… have some time with Nova?” Twilight asked, sounding a little hesitant.

Candice repositioned herself to be facing Twilight. “I feel bad that she missed out on things last night. I wonder if, had she experienced the cleaning, would she have reacted that way. I honestly don’t really understand the dynamics there. I don’t know if she can feel what’s going on with Night in control or not. If it’s a choice on Night’s part, or your’s. I lack too much information to be able to piece that puzzle together yet,” she stated.

“... Nova is part of me… or rather I have a part of her in me…” Twilight said before continuing, mothing the words so Nova could not hear them. ‘When I was made, part of Nova was ripped from her and used to make me… so we are linked… that is why without this,’ Twilight placed a hoof on the neckless ‘She can drive my actions… sometimes that can be fun… sometimes it can lead to regrettable things.’

Candice nodded slightly. Mouthing back, she said, ‘Does Night have the ability to share with Nova?’

Twilight shook her head. Night’s tones spoke from her mouth. “Nova, do I have your word you will not burn anything in this room?”

‘Promise’ was tapped out so rapidly it could only just be made out.

“Are you ready? … Nova can be… intense,” Twilight asked.

“I would like to talk to her first before we start anything. I also want to make sure that this isn’t something that you would regret. I don’t want to hurt you.” Candice replied with concern.

The necklace rattled. ‘Hello, Gift.’

“She can hear everything we are saying.” Twilight shrugged. “This body is just a puppet I use to interact with the world.” She looked down slightly. “I got over any regrets I might have had as Night… is not one to consult before doing things.”

Candice nodded. “Hello, Nova.” The neckless seemed to jump at Candice. “I’m sorry you missed out on the activities last night. I would like to make it up to you,” she said with remorse in her voice.

‘Please, Please, please, with cheery on top, please’ Nova rapidly tapped in answer. The necklace seemed to be bouncing, almost as if Nova was jumping up and down in excitement.

Looking Twilight in the eyes, “I believe I am ready, Twilight,” Candice answered.

Twilight took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She placed a hoof on the neckless and worked an intricate pattern of unicorn and pegasus magic though her hoof.

The first thing that Candice noticed was the heat radiating from Twilight’s flesh. The second was the light. Twilight’s mane and tail seemed to spark at first as embers rolled along them. They caught the hair burning away, being replaced with rolling sheets of merely warm flame.

Her grip tightened, and Nova buried her head in Candice’s mane, breathing deeply. Everywhere Nova’s burning mane touched tingled, and an almost fevered desire started building within Candice. Clearly, this was some sort of emotion influencing magic backed up with a bit of Alicorn power.

Candice cast her strength and durability enhancement spell. It looked like she was going to need it if she was going to get through this without injury. She remembered the power of Luna’s embrace and how easy it could have crushed her. Combined with what happened to the room the previous night, she wasn’t taking any chances.

Nova’s eyes opened, revealing burning irises and tightly slit pupils. She let out a pleased growl. “Gift,” Nova rumbled from the now wickedly fanged mouth.

Candice hugged her tight, wrapping her wings around her. She could do the leyline cleaning from this position without issue. With how Nova was being, she was fairly certain that this fire elemental disguising itself as an Alicorn wasn’t going to let it stop there.

With a kiss, Candice started cleaning the ley lines of Twilight’s wings. Or were they now Nova’s?

Nova seemed startled at first with the contact, almost as if she didn’t know she had wings. That did not last long as they shifted on their own, becoming easy to access and Nova started to purr. Candice was happy for the participation, it made things easier for her.

Candice wasn’t even using her full regeneration rate for her magic to do the cleaning. This was just the start and should be rather pleasant.

“Good, Gift,” Nova purred, letting her mane reach out and start trailing along Candice’s own wings.

Candice wasn’t too worried about the fire, despite being burned the night before. The warmth was nice, not the burning that occurred the night prior. At worst, even if she did get burned and had to regrow her feathers, she would be minus the ability to fly for a few days. Wouldn’t be the first time she was grounded and had to use her magic to heal her wings.

“I’m glad you’re enjoying this. Though I do wonder, do you know my name?” Candice was curious. She wasn’t used to others giving her nicknames.

“Name?” Nova looked thoughtful for a moment, it seemed like a light of intelligence was building behind her eyes. “Yes.. you are Candice,” Nova’s voice still spoke with power but somehow had gained some culture and the better diction that came with education.

“Why do you call me ‘Gift’ then?” Candice asked.

“You are the Moon Mare’s… Luna’s gift to me… To us,” Nova answered.

Candice remembered some of the things that Luna had told her. She recalled that parts of Twilight had been torn asunder to rebuild her. “I’m sorry you went through so much pain. I’ll do my best to make sure I don’t cause you any myself.”

“Gift is… Thank you, Candice.” Again it was if Nova was still remembering how to speak properly after being unable to for the longest time.

“What is it that you want, Nova? I don’t want to cause you pain, physical or emotional. Let me know what it is that you desire,” Candice asked her.

“You,” The passion in Nova’s response was as forceful as a raging inferno. That one word was saturated with Alicon magic, even thinking clearly was a struggle for Candice.

“How much of this is Nova, how much is Twilight?” Candice wanted to make sure she wasn’t going to cause duress to Twilight.

An almost silent growl rumbled through Nova’s chest, but she seemed to control herself. “Nova… I am a good filly,” she whispered under her breath. Only Candice’s sharpened senses allowed her to catch it. Nova met Candice’s eyes, a mix of impatience, doubt and thoughtfulness just showing past a burning lust. “I am… Nova… I think. Here like this I can think, the world makes sense, and I know who ponies are. Nova… I think I am, sharing what Patch… Twilight knows. I think we are here, but she is a lesser part.”

“You are a good filly, Nova,” Candice said.

A touch of a happy filly-like smile graced Nova’s face.

“Just relax and enjoy yourself. I promise you will like this,” Candice promised with growing desire of her own as she started the full ley line cleaning and let Nova’s influence take her.

The ‘just relax’ part did not last long. Apparently, Nova did not do passive or just laying back to enjoy herself. The room was back in comfortable darkness. Nova’s flames had faded out over half an hour ago, then they just held each other. Candice was very grateful for the durability enhancement, or she would have bruises for sure and possibly a few broken ribs just from the hug alone.

“I take it you enjoyed your dalliance?” Night’s voice asked, her smirk was almost audible. Her eyes were back to her ‘normal’ thestral ones.

Candice looked at Night. Her dismissiveness of Nova was a little off-putting. “That was more than a dalliance. She deserves her turn just as much as you do. That she was denied it isn’t right. Not that you had a choice in the matter.” Candice wasn’t going to put everything on Night when she didn’t deserve that.

“My Sister has created a true monster in that one, I hope you can keep her tame.” Night idly remarked.

“If she is allowed to have fun every once in a while, then it will be far easier. You won’t have to worry about her doing that. Especially now that I know ‘Celestia’ is a no-go topic.” Candice still wasn’t happy about what Celestia had done.

“She would burn down a city because they did not have her favoured snack in stock,” Night bitterly retorted.

“Would you two please stop arguing?” Twilight drunkenly complained, sounding very relaxed and extremely content. It seemed very much like she wanted to hold on to that feeling and not have to deal with anything daring to interfere with it.

“Just go back to your Dreams,” Night snapped.

“Fine,” Twilight growled. The magic pressure in the room drastically diminished. It seemed like Twilight had pulled a large part of her magic away. It left the room feeling a little empty and cooler.

Surprise shot over Night’s face for a moment. It seemed to take a little effort for her to smooth her features back to the calm, relaxed smile of being the most powerful mare in the room.

“Guess I’ll get a chance to talk to her later,” Candice remarked. “Why where you surprized? She did exactly what you told her to.”

“She is normally too polite to slam the door in anypony’s muzzle.” Night tossed out as an answer, waving a hoof. “It seems she is picking up some bad habits.”

“Stop being so bitter about it. You have a lot to look forward to,” Candice said, letting a touch of annoyance enter her tone, as she restarted the ley line cleaning.

Night lay back, spreading her wings regally, like some ancient ruler ready to be tended to by her servants. “I would not be so bitter if Nova had not burned part of my wellspring away as I tried to stop her incinerating Ponyville not that long ago.” The bitterness was gone, replaced by the more dulcet tones of pleased relaxation.

“And what were you doing that led to her attacking you?” Candice wasn’t taking her word on the accuracy of the description.

“Nothing, she decided to weigh into mine and Twilight’s conversation after Nova burned you by attacking me. Hence the state of Twilight’s room.” Night said.

“And what exactly did you say to Twilight before Nova attacked you?” Candice asked in a tone that brooked no mood for anything but the factual truth. She was still tending the ley lines and started on her horn.

Night just arched her back, making her horn much more available. She seemed to not be paying enough attention to the conversation to answer.

Candice let off the cleaning, not letting Night use this as an excuse to avoid answering.

Night groaned, “Did you have to stop..”

“You didn’t answer my question,” Candice said flatly.

“Impatient mortal…” Night admonished. “Then as you wish. We were talking about the freedom I allow Twilight, and if I was in error about allowing her so much of it.”

“Word for word, Night. I’m trying to figure something out, and your elusiveness isn’t helping.” Candice’s annoyance was starting to rise.

“You think I have Twilight’s perfect memory?” She sighed. Give me a moment. Night closed her eyes and looked like she was deep in thought. “I believe I said ‘You must have better control of yourself, you are an Alicorn, not some common mortal unicorn.’ “

Night considered for a bit. “Then Twilight said ‘You think I bucking want to be like this? You think I would have done that if I could have stopped it?’ “

Night paused for a moment. “my next words were said before we had come to a… more amicable arrangement between our selves.” She seemed hesitant to continue.

Candice said nothing, just waiting for Night to go on.

“I asked ‘Perhaps I should tighten your chain?’ It seemed that letting Twilight, and hence Nova, have the ability to run rampant was most unwise,” Night said, defending herself.

Candice just shook her head a bit before speaking, “It didn’t occur to you that saying something like that could incite Nova into trying to kill you? Especially after what just happened?”

“We were alone, and somewhere Nova should not have been able to sense, let alone reach.” Night answered sharply.

“You still threatened Twilight. You know they are connected. You didn’t think a fragment could travel around to places you can?” Candice asked what should have been blatantly obvious to those with the knowledge of fragments.

“Not with the strength of … you know whose seal keeping her restrained. What she did should have been impossible, especially so for, what is in essence, a mortal’s soul.”

“Well, that’s one more thing to chock up to her being the Element of Magic. They really don’t seem to follow the rules that the rest of us have to.” Candice thought about what Little Star could do. It really seemed to be either hereditary or an Element of Magic thing. “I take it you won’t make that mistake again?”

“I have the necessary defences in place, thank you for your concern.” Night answered.

“You wouldn’t need defences if you just used some tact,” Candice pointed out.

Night lifted a wing to silence Candice, but she had already stopped. “And why do you think today even happened? As I said, there was a conversation. That does not mean I am a fool, something will set off Nova again. We can only hope one of us will be able to stop it before anything too permanent is done to anything or anypony we care about.”

“You have a point, but you could still stand to learn some tact. It might help you with Twilight herself, and others,” Candice said patiently. She was honestly trying to help Night at this point. She more seemed ignorant of pony sensibilities. If she wanted to function with Twilight and not harm Twilight’s reputation, she was going to have to learn to play nice.

“Perhaps…” Night almost purred “but Twilight is more of a worry than I am. Have you seen how she is acting now that she is no longer my Sisters ‘faithful puppet’?”

Candice smiled. She wasn’t expecting miracles, but at least this was progress. “Yes, I have. I’m glad she isn’t so strangled by that mentality anymore. I honestly think that she will settle out. Trauma takes time to recover from. Not that I know what exactly she went through. I understand enough... I think.”

Night’s expression darkened. “Do you want to know?”

Candice looked at Night. “Yes, I want to be able to help her. The more I know about what she went through, the better I can help. Might even let me help you more,” she answered with seriousness.

“Are you sure?” Night’s tone was deadly.

Candice was unfazed, her determination to help Twilight wouldn’t allow her to back out of this.

“Very well, light your horn… wings…” Night started, muttering something in an ancient-sounding language before continuing. “When you wish the nightmare to end.” She lowered her horn to Candice’s head. “Ready?”

Candice nodded.

The world faded, and in an instant, she was somewhere else. She was in an ancient stone structure. She could feel the horn on her head and the sensation of strange magic reinforcing her body with every step. Luna’s presence was beside her, she could feel the now-familiar wellspring, but with so much more detail. All of her senses seemed sharper.

Her gaze settled on a blood-stained stone altar in the middle of the room. Something was said, but the words seemed unimportant and carried no meaning for her in this vision.

The world around rippled and tore before settling down. Every sense she had, other than vision and hearing, were scrambled. Whatever magical working had just been performed, there was no way her mind would be able to recover it.

Twilight appeared pinned to the alter by silver spikes, several dark-robed figures gathered around her. Twilight twitched once, and the torment began.

As the scene continued, Candice just felt the anger turn to rage, but no matter how she felt, the body she was in for this vison stayed passively still.

If she ever encountered the Dark Mage, Candice would ensure he had no time to react before she dispatched him, though she wished she had the means to inflict Twilight’s pain upon him.

Hours passed, and Twilight should have been dead many, many times over. In the end, she was left a bleeding wreck of a pony. Her horn was now driven through her own heart. The Alicorn before her could not even whimper, could not even twitch in pain. Candice couldn’t even imagine how she felt. Not once had Twilight fainted, or lost consciousness, even after losing at least four times the blood that should have been in her body.

The vision faded to the darkness of the room and Night’s intense, cold eyes looked into her own. “And now you know.” She said, her voice devoid of any emotion.

Candice’s voice was cold and determined. There was no room for even thinking there might be a shred of empathy for the Dark Mage. “If I happen to find him, there is nothing that will stop me from ending his existence. My only regret is I lack the ability to render upon him what he has rendered upon Twilight.”

Night chuckled darkly. ”If that is your only regret, you are a very easy mare to please.”

Candice cocked her head in curiosity.

“What, caught your interest have I?” Night coyly teased.

Candice looked at her flatly. She wasn’t rising to the teasing, but she did nod slightly.

Night rose up, spreading her wings impressively. “I am the Queen of Darkness, I am the Nightmare that nearly destroyed the sun. I think inflicting a ‘small’ amount of suffering is well within my powers… but they are not exactly what you would call… legal to even know exist, let alone cast.”

“I know plenty of magic that would get me killed by Celestia if she knew I was able to cast them. Adding one more to that list isn’t going to change how much danger I’m in at all.” Candice wasn’t interested in if things were legal at this point. Just knowing about Alicorn fragments would mean her mind altered at the very least if the hypocrite of a solar Alicorn found out.

“So… I have myself another student then?” Night asked with an amused smirk on her face.

Candice nodded. “I am already pledged to Luna and Twilight, you are a part of both. I’m sure you somehow qualify in that, one way or the other, so I’m already your student in a fashion.”

Night sighed slightly. “So magic lessons it is then.” There was clear disappointment in her voice.

“I’ll make it worth your while,” Candice said with a smirk.

“You had better,” Night responded. “Now the simplest of these spells is a variant on an illusion spell. It lets the caster ignore pain, saving it up for later. The limitation is the spell has to be unleased to empty its store. All pain you have shunted into it is felt by the target in a mere moment, though it may feel far, far longer to the victim.” Night grinned, showing fangs. “At times, this can even be enough to defeat an opponent or even kill them from the experience.”

“Very well.” Candice was more in a learning mode, almost meditative. Information and facts were a thing to simply be absorbed. Emotion wasn’t really a factor at the moment.

Night leaned in, lifting Candice’s hoof as if to kiss it. Instead, her head snapped forward and her fangs bit deep into Candice’s fetlock.

Pain and the feeling of blood running from the wound staining her coat assaulted her senses. A moment later, the metallic scent of her blood hit her nostrils. The more animal part of her brain wanted her to run and flee. But guard training had long ago striped that drive of any ability to control her actions. Not to mention that she had felt far worse than this just saving a foal, and that paled compared to the agony of becoming Luna’s chosen. She didn’t even flinch more than a slight tightening of her muscles to keep herself still. The small thestral part of her felt a little hungry at the scent of blood.

Night pulled her head back, licking her lips and fangs, clearly enjoying the experience. She met Candice’s eyes, looking both impressed and annoyed at the lack of reaction.

Night lit her horn with a spell, the arrays were complex, archaic and just plan non-sense in sections. “This is the more advanced form of the spell.” Half the sections fell away, leaving something that would still be hard for most ponies to learn due to how unfamiliar it was to modern spellcraft.

Night looked between Candice’s two wings. “Normally I would place this around a students horn… but for you, I am a little stumped… can you copy this?”

Candice nodded, and her magic lit her wings.

Night turned out not to be the best of teachers. It had taken what felt like hours to learn the spell. Though the spell lesson also served as pain tolerance training. Something she asked Night to push her on.

Causing pain was something that Night had proven extremely talented at. From simply shattering the pain concealing spell, to what she could do with her horn, hoves, wings and fangs, she could be considered an artist.

She had managed to adapt more than a few modern bits of the Arcane sciences to reinforce the spell. She knew if it shattered, all the pain stored within it would be released upon the caster instead of a target. That was not something she wished to happen if she was relying on it.

“So you can finally cast it without grievous error,” Night purred. Night, it turned out, seemed somewhat of a sadist and liked causing pain. Not surprising considering her past.

“Yes, though your teaching methods need work. It’s obvious you don’t have much experience in the mentor department. Thank you though, the additional training was quite useful.” Candice said with genuine gratitude.

Night snorted with annoyance. “Not all of us had one-thousand years to get fat eating cakes and learning how to be a school teacher. If you want to learn how to wield weapons and fight in battle, that I can teach, and teach well.” She said, clearly trying to prop up her ego.

“I’m going to take you up on that offer,” Candice smirked. “Luna already has me training to be her Champion. I look forward to it.” Her tone was honest and promising.

“Then I might need to arm you with a few surprises to catch her out with later.” Night smiled, clearly visualising it before returning her focus on Candice. “But first I believe you said you would make it worth my while?”

“I do indeed owe you a show of gratitude,” Candice said before pouncing on Night and nearly instantly subduing her with cleaning her ley lines.

Candice had needed a blood regeneration spell cast on her during the training, and once again during their intimacy. Night proved that not all forbidden magic was evil. If it was not for that one piece of blood magic, she would have had to have gone to a hospital.

Night had opened a few cupboards and pulled out some bottles of liquid and offered them to Candice to drink. The first was some sort of fruit juice, the second was just water it seemed, but did wonders to make her body feel less abused.

Night had fallen asleep in her embrace, and Candice followed shortly after with the expectation to be doing more training with Luna.

Something moving next to her woke Candice. A flailing hoof banged into her chest. It seemed to be searching for something. A weak magenta glow started to fill the room.

Candice hugged Twilight in her wings and drew her near. “Good morning, I think. Difficult to tell in here.”

Twilight leaned into the embrace and settled peacefully. “Morning G… “ Twilight stopped for a moment, seeming puzzled. “Morning, Candice.” She said nuzzling into Candice’s chest.

“I’m more than happy to be your ‘Gift’ you know,” Candice said with warmth in her voice.

“I know, pillows and blankets don't talk,” She said playfully. Luxuriating in the embrace.

“More than happy to be that anytime you like. Though considering how much I enjoy your scent and holding you like this, I’m wondering if you were made for me. I am older,” Candice teased back, humour clear in her voice.

“Well, even the Tree of Harmony seems to think I should just enjoy this, so I’m done fighting it.” Twilight tilted her head up and kissed Candice extremely meekly for such a bold statement.

Candice kissed her back. The feel was so different than when Nova was there. This was sweet and tender but surprisingly not as inexperienced as she was expecting. “If I was made for you, then would you like to see me in more detail?” She asked.

Twilights ears perked up. “Well, I was meaning to perform a study on you.”

Candice rolled back and stood with her wings out in a pose that would be expected in a Doctor’s office. “Do you have any callipers and notebooks available?” She asked in a quite friendly tone.

Twilight looked genuinely offended. “Who do you think you are dealing with?” The room was suddenly half-filled with different measuring devices and tools of science. “Sorry,” she meekly apologised a moment later.

Candice nuzzled her. “You have nothing to be sorry for. I don’t know what you keep in those dimensional pockets of yours. I should have expected that, though.”

“I have a list…” Twilight said sheepishly.

“Ooh, can I see? Knowing your inventory would save a lot of questions down the line.” Candice said with enthusiasm.

Twilight offered a magnifying glass and a scroll that could likely have stretched from Canterlot to Ponyville. “This is my last audit from two months ago.”

Candice cast an overcharged temporal dilation spell and mental alacrity spell. It took a while to skim-read from her perspective, but it would have only taken about a minute from an exterior perspective. When she was done, she floated the list and magnifying glass back to Twilight. “Impressive list. Though if that’s from two months ago, you might want to update it.”

Twilight seemed pleasantly surprised that Candice had something positive to say about the list. It was almost as if she was braced for some sort of negative comment.

“I know. I just can't seem to be bothered, It does not feel worth the time. It is something I would have done before… but now, who cares? I don’t.” Twilight shrugged.

“I would imagine with how things have changed, your priorities have as well. So shall we?” Candice asked as she once again took an examination pose, obviously not shy about showing Twilight everything she might want to see.

Candice could feel Twilight’s eyes trail along her body. The small surges of power radiating from her whenever she spotted anything interesting. Candice used those cues to display whatever Twilight was gazing upon at the moment.

Most of the tools and instruments were transported back into Twilight’s pockets as she advanced on Candice, clipboard and quill ready to take notes.

For a time, there was only the sound of Twilight’s magic and a quick scratch against the paper. It stopped for a bit, and Candice could feel Twilight’s power fluctuate for a few moments. Candice just looked at Twilight for a moment to make sure she was alright.

Twilight smiled and seemed to gather up her courage. Moving closer and inhaling deeply of Candice’s scent, she let her magic envelop one of Candice’s primary feathers. The measuring tools came out, and every detail was noted down.

She moved on feather by feather, each one her ministrations became a little more proficient, a little more sensual. By the time she moved to the second wing, Twilight was not even trying to hide what she was doing, This, this was foreplay disguised as a physical exam.

Candice was starting to feel rather nice with her wings being tended to so sensuously. Twilight seemed to still be nervous, so she let her take things at her own pace. She still presented anything that Twilight desired to study, for inspection.

Twilight took another deep breath and hummed contentedly. “Only a few more feathers and then we can move on to ‘other’ things.”

Twilight’s attention focused on one of Candice’s unique features, her tail-feathers. Her magenta magic went to preening her wings as Twilight’s hooves and muzzle set to examing the first tail-feather.

It was not long before Twilight’s scientific approach started studying the ‘other things’ she mentioned before.

Yes, Twilight had taken notes, or rather the notes had taken themselves.

Twilight was a bundle of contentment and happiness curled up under Candice’s wings and held in her hooves. Twilight was barely even breathing but was still warm and healthy, occasionally nuzzling or snuggling her. Candice would not be getting her wings or her foreleg back anytime soon, though she had not a single complaint about that. Not once had Nova shown up, nor had Night interrupted. For the first time, it seemed she had just been Twilight.

Insight was even contentedly snuggling with her little fragment of Night that was left behind for her during last night’s extremely intimate session. Candice had let Night know about Insight wanting to join in. Night had decided to leave a gift.

Candice though was lost in the embrace of Twilight. She kissed her under her horn and nuzzled her in return to the affections she received. “I very much enjoyed that Twilight. Thank you. I hope I made your time just as enjoyable.”

Twilight leaned into the nuzzle, clearly avoiding a horn that wasn’t there.

Candice in her amusement licked Twilight’s horn. “I don’t have one of those.”

Whatever Twilight was going to say was lost to a pleased moan.

“Alright, that was more sensitive than I thought it would be. Maybe I am missing out on something by not having a horn,” Candice half-joked.

Twilight took a moment to compose herself, “It is only because I am not restraining myself here. You don't seem bothered by my power, and with this room blocking even my senses, I can… stretch out and relax without every little flicker of magic within miles disturbing me.”

This meant the most to Candice. The fact that Twilight felt she could fully relax, and be herself around her, was deeply touching. “Your magic actually feels very nice to me. It’s like I’m wrapped up in you even while I am holding you physically.”

The sensation seemed to become warmer and somehow convey Twilight's happiness as it gently pressed in around Candice, embracing her.

“That feels nice, like I’m being hugged by your magic. I’m happy you have someplace to relax. You deserve it, especially after what you’ve been through. I’m sure my feelings for you could make Emerald drunk on love with how I feel about you right now,” Candice said softly to Twilight, still holding her in the winged embrace.

“You make her sound like Cadance or Rarity…” Twilight said.

Candice looked at Twilight quizzically. “No, I mean that she would be filled with love energy to the point of being drunk like she was after the group hug yesterday.”

Twilight lifted her head enough to turn to face Candice fully. “If that is some sort of innuendo, I did not do anything to her in that hug… that would just be strange and Night is the only one that has done anything with her anyway. Physically, out here in this world, you were the first pony I have done anything thing like this with.”

Candice was touched that she was Twilight’s first. She was glad she did everything she could to make it special for her. Though she would have to ask about that qualifier later. Right now though, it was time for something more important. “You didn’t have to. The love that was there in the pony pile was absorbed by her. She was trying not to act drunk but was clearly failing to hide it. Do you not know she’s a changeling?” Candice asked with clear concern.

“A Changeling?” Twilight looked worried. “Oh, Thorax is going to write a very unhappy letter after he hears about this… Night has practically claimed her as a pet.” Twilight slumped down.

Candice kissed Twilight and held her tight. Twilight melted into the embrace as Candice spoke. “It’s alright. I personally don’t mind if she’s physically involved. Though I would like to talk to her about security and the like. Any chance you could arrange a meeting with her for me?”

“You will need to speak to Night about that. We have an agreement... Emerald is hers,” Twilight said, an edge of shame in her voice.

Candice lifted Twilight’s head to meet her eye to eye. “Believe me, Twilight, you have nothing to ashamed of. I’m not even sure why you feel that way right now,” she said, then shifted her tone to that of humour. “I order you to believe me on that.” She smiled to make sure the point was delivered.

She snuggled under Candice’s wing. “Yes, Pri…” Twilight caught self before saying more. Regretfully but deliberately pulling out of the embrace to sit a little ways apart from Candice. “I will try… but I don’t know if I have told Night that the laws about enslaving other species got removed over eight-hundred years ago.”

“What are you talking about? Why would Night have her enslaved? And how?” Candice was concerned, and it showed clearly in her voice. Though she mentally filed the fact that Twilight almost called her Princess away for later.

“Pet… I just thought it was a term of endearment. Now that I know she is a changeling…” Twilight murmured.

“This is concerning, we should talk to Night and get this cleared up. She needs to release Thorax’s kin from whatever she did to her.” Candice didn’t like the idea of slavery, and she wasn’t going to stand idly by and let it happen.

Twilight’s body slumped, dropping down as if its strings were cut.

Looks like the whole puppet statement isn’t a metaphor at all. Insight said, still sounding extremely relaxed.

It would appear so. Candice replied.

It’s only because she does not have enough practice to control the body… while doing other things. A tired voice that sounded very much like a mix of Night and Insight added.

Welcome to the land of the living. So what is this about Emerald being enslaved? Candice asked with a tone of extreme seriousness.

Ask her. The new voice said.

Twilight’s eyes shot open, revealing slits that glowed for a moment in anger. “I was resting…” The eyes locked on to Candice’s own hard eyes. “If you wanted… What do you want?” Nights voice started annoyed and ended in a calm, assessing tone.

“What is this about you enslaving one of Thorax’s changelings?” Candice asked in a level tone.

Night looked puzzled. “Why would I do such a thing? Even I know they are Equestria’s allies, even if they are like my sister’s puppets.”

“Emerald Shade?” Candice reminded her

“What about her?” Night asked.

“She’s a changeling you have enslaved…” Candice started.

“Yes, and?” Night was seeming both bored and puzzled. Stretching and looking around the room.

“And you have her enslaved. How are you not putting two and two together here? Enslavement of other species was outlawed eight-hundred years ago.” Candice felt herself starting to show her annoyance

“Oh… you think she is one of that weak fool of a King Thorax’s still. No, I captured her spying and trying to take advantage of an Alicorn. She was one of Chrysalis’ from Ponyville.”

“There are changelings in Ponyville?” Twilight asked, taking control of her mouth again.

“Of course there are, they are everywhere. Can you not feel them?” Night asked quizzically. “Though some of them are a lot harder to track down than others, if it was not for Emerald feeding from us, I think I would have missed her.”

“If you can feel them, then that would explain why you thought Twilight knew already.” Candice still wasn’t happy that she wasn’t told. “So why didn’t you tell me then?”

“You have been with us for less than two days, and you expect me to trust you with all my secrets. I do not know that my sister has not set you up to try and kill us under the right conditions with her mental manipulations.” Night said dismissively.

“I’m your guard. I expect to be informed of a potential security threat! I’m also Luna’s chosen. If there was some mind magic there, she would have found it. Feel free to take a look yourself if you’re actually concerned about that.” Candice was getting a bit incensed.

“And if there was one, I would have told you.” Night broadly stated. “I know my sister is far too skilled at mind magic. She could get something past me, and I assume the only reason Luna is walking around free, is that she has some sort of magic compelling her,” Night explained with forced patience.

“That mental surgeon wouldn’t be able to get a mind spell past Twilight’s wards at the castle. Try again?” Candice retorted.

Night sighed. “No, but the change could already have been made. For all I know saying the ‘Night will last forever’ might turn you into a solar zealot.”

“Will you both be reasonable,” Twilight pleaded. It looked odd, the expression flicking to another whenever the speaker switched.

“Night, Twilight. Insight was never found by Celestia. If she was, she would have been killed and my memory of her would have been removed. The fact that she is still there is proof that Celestia didn’t butcher my mind.” Candice reasoned.

“This is not the point. The point is Emerald Shade.” Twilight said.

“Yes, it is likely better than talking about a possible, but unlikely, threat. One that I would rather not prove to be real,” Night responded, looking to Candice with a hint of concern.

Candice shook her head. “If it is still a possibility, I would rather it be eliminated as one. That can be done later though. How do you have Emerald bound?” Candice asked, obviously still annoyed at the prospect of her being a plant by Celestia either not being dropped or not ruled out.

“We came to an agreement.” Night smiled. “She clearly was poorly informed about Alicorns. We can hold you to any agreements you make with us.”

“You used pact magic on her?” Twilight asked alarmed.

“Has Celestia even taught you how not to use it when arranging bargains you have a vested interest in?” Night asked, clearly starting to get annoyed at Twilight’s lack of education about Alicorns.

“... no,” Twilight answered, looking worried.

“There there is a good chance there are ponies out there that you have accidentally enslaved to your whims, even it is over minor things,” Night stated flatly.

Twilight’s magical presence seemed to back away, and Night’s seem to expand. It was like Twilight was ceding the point. The feeling of the magic blanketing Candice changed before fading. The Alicorn magic before her was constrained once again. She could no longer just feel who was speaking, but their body language would still give them away. Even when Night was acting the part of Twilight, she would give herself away with subtle clues.

“You don’t have to do that when it’s just me. I don’t seem to be affected by casual use of that. Besides, I know when that magic is being used, and you have never used it on me,” Candice assured Twilight.

“No, she has not, not yet. What she has done is been less skilled at persuading ponies than she thought she was. Unconsciously using her Alicorn persuasion and instinctive pact magic to have things go in her favour.” Night’s tone was soft. It seemed like she was trying to sound reassuring like this was not a major thing.

Candice felt this wasn’t so minor a thing, “Apparently there is still much that Twilight needs to learn about being an Alicorn. I would suggest going over with her, everything you know about Alicorns. Don’t leave anything out. I would be happy to learn alongside you as well, Twilight, if that is something you would permit. I already know enough to get me killed by Celestia if she found out I knew. It wouldn’t change anything for me, and I honestly feel that the more I know, the better I can help you.”

“Celestia would not kill you,” Twilight interrupted. “She is not that bad, yes she has done some… things. But she is not a … Bad pony she has just made mistakes… lots of mistakes.”

“If she found out I knew that Nightmare Moon was no longer contained, I would be dead for treason,” Candice stated flatly.

Twilight looked shocked. “Really? I know she would not take it well to start with but kill you just for knowing?”

“For knowing and not reporting it, yes. For most other stuff like Blood Magic, she would still surgically remove the knowledge.” Candice pointed out.

Twilight laughed sardonically. “So what do you think she would do when she finds out I kinda sold my body to Night here?”

“And it is a very nice body, at a fine price too,” Night laughed playfully.

Candice couldn’t help but chuckle a little at that. “First, have to agree with Night there about the fine part. I don’t’ know what the price was, but then there is a lot I don’t know about your agreements. Second, you are the Element of Magic. She would probably rip her from you, then overpower your defences and reconstruct you again. You are too important to her to kill like that. If you were not an Element Bearer, then she would just kill you because you were too vulnerable to the Nightmare. That’s my honest assessment.”

“She did not kill Luna… so I think you are mistaken,” Twilight said with what sounded like desperate hope.

“No, she just edited her memories to the point that she’s a good little sister again. Luna is missing, centuries probably, of memory.” Candice regretfully assessed.

“But that's just how she says hello,” Night added unhelpfully. Clearly, there were some issues there.

“Look, Celestia is trying to help. Trying to get things sorted. I really think she is improving. I…” Twilight trailed off as if running out of the will to defend her former mentor.

“Has Celestia removed the seals she put in your mind? Has she even apologised for doing it in the first place?” Candice asked.

“No… and I would never let her into my mind to do so,” Twilight defiantly stated.

“But she hasn’t even offered or apologised. That isn’t improvement. That’s just doing things the same way they have been done. What she does with the mind magic is wrong. Her casual use of it and what she did to you was wrong. She decided for you that she was going to leave out vital parts of you. Parts that if you had, you wouldn’t be struggling with now. Because she felt that the Princess of Friendship didn’t need to be able to feel the deepest forms of friendship.” Candice said softly as she moved closer to hug Twilight.

Twilight latched onto Candice, seeming stuck between anger and tears. After a few seconds, tears won. “It had to be done, she had to do it. The world had to be saved. I saw the spell that was used to kill me, her. Once she cast it, that was it. The world needed an Element of Magic.”

Holding her tight in her wings, Candice spoke even more softly. “Yes, maybe she did, but she shouldn’t have made choices about your personality and your capacity to feel love, or lust, for others. She didn’t have that right, only the power.” Candice consoled her.

“Ponies are an Alicorn’s to do with as they please. That is the way of the world.” Night coldly stated. “Celestia was raised to rule them in the Old Traditions. Be extremely grateful she has let most of them fall to the wayside.”

“That might be true, Night, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s wrong. She had the power, yes, undeniable. She didn’t have the right, though. No creature has the right to force their will on others. Doesn’t stop them from trying though.” Candice felt like she was stating what should have been self-evident matters of fact. That Night wasn’t seeing things this way just showed how long her road was that had yet to be travelled.

“And if having a will, having an opinion or desire forces it upon others whether you want it to or not?” Night asked.

“Then learn to control it. Convincing somepony with the logic of an argument is fine. Forcing them to change their minds with magic is not. Understandable if one is learning control. Twilight still needs that control and Celestia should never have withheld that information about her abilities. If Twilight has done wrong accidentally, then it’s Celestia’s crime for not educating her,” Candice answered quietly.

“Containing the power like that would make us far too easy to kill, almost every reinforcement our bodies have would fade, our healing slowed. Just having Alicorn magic causes it. You have even been influencing those around you with it.” Night said as she left the body for Twilight to enjoy the hug. A shadow form of Nightmare Moon settled on the bed next to Twilight. “The only choice is whether to actively compel them or just leave it at a mere suggestion.”

Candice’s senses could tell the form was just a projection, just potent illusion magic. Night was still within Twilight.

“Are we monsters?” Twilight asked dejectedly.

Candice held her even tighter. She didn’t want Twilight thinking of herself like that. “Only if you want to be. Influencing a pony with passive alicorn magic can be controlled. Just don’t suffuse it outside of your body. You don’t’ lose the protections.”

“That only limits its effect, and that is what I have been helping Twilight do.” Night added. “But, every spell, every stroke of a wing allows more to be released.”

“Just don’t actively go mind controlling others. Starlight had to be taught that lesson. I’m sure you know it too. You taught it to her. But that was active use. What you are doing isn’t. They are still free to choose the other path. What Celestia did was remove the choice completely, like when Starlight cast the mind control on your friends.” Candice continued to console Twilight.

“There is one more thing, Candice.” Night said gravely. “You are ultimately asking us not to feel.”

“I’m not asking that at all. Just don’t go using it to mind control and remove choice.” Candice calmly replied.

“Alicorn magic only answers to emotions and desires. If Twilight tried to heal somepony she hated, she would kill them,” Night said coldly.

Twilight flinched. Night’s illusion rested a wing on Twilight, seeming to try to offer comfort.

“Unless you just don’t use the Alicorn magic when you heal them.” Candice pointed out.”There is always a choice there. I have Alicorn magic now too. I don’t go around casting it about, and I still feel things very strongly.”

“Yes, but you are not an Alicorn,” Night started glaring. “You only have a touch, the smallest of tastes. Not enough to really do anything. A full Alicorn only has a touch of the magic of the lesser ponies.” Night paused, taking a calming breath, seeming to try and copy Twilight’s breathing technique. “Why do you think Chrysalis beat Celestia? That was her trying to only use her unicorn magic. As she likely did not want to have to redecorate the place from the new ‘molten glass look’ it would have had.”

“Twilight has a stronger unicorn wellspring now than she did when she was a unicorn. The ‘just a touch’ statement doesn’t match up with reality. The rest I can only speculate about.” Candice ceded.

Twilight lit her horn and the room filled with a pale magenta glow. She was using an illusion spell, a good quality one, but not one made to deceive.

Next to Twilight, a pony-sized ball of purple arcane magic floated, a hoof sized ball of blue pegasus and green earthpony magic seemed to orbit it. Three more dots of energy danced next to them, too small to judge their type in this false colour spell.

“Night is not lying.” Twilight looked around. “This is what I see when I meditate and seek my wellspring. The magenta is the Alicorn magic.”

Candice lit her wings and cast a similar spell. Next to Twilight’s, there was a now a matching one but in Candice’s set up. Two wellsprings of equal size one blue and the other purple were connected by a bridge of a ley line. Near it, and with new ley lines growing towards it from the other two, was a much smaller grey thestral wellspring with a slight bit of damage to it from Night’s activities the evening before. A smaller core was slowly generating Alicorn magic and suffusing into the others. “That’s what mine look like.”

“I know,” Twilight guilty answered, “I looked when we first got to my castle.”

Candice kissed Twilight, not wanting her to feel guilty about being curious. Twilight extended the kiss and wrapped her forehooves around Candice.

Candice could feel Twilight’s gratitude for being forgiven, her desire to be happy and leave all this talk of conflict and difficulties behind. It was a desire that may have compelled a non-chosen pony. Night caught Candice’s gaze with a look that said ‘see’. It was returned with a look that said ‘practice’.

“Nothing to even be guilty about, Love. I would share with you everything I am. I think getting you practice with your abilities needs to be a priority. Though for myself, knowing how you feel with that is beneficial, and appreciated.” Candice said, her voice trying to be relaxing and reassuring to Twilight.

“So I can keep my Pet, yes?” Night lazily asked.

“You have control over an enemy agent. I think that fits under the exemption clause for covert warfare,” Candice said, though she didn’t like it still, she had to admit it actually wasn’t illegal in this case.

Night smiled. “Good, I would hate to have to kill her.”

Twilight offered a glare at Night, who just looked back calmly.

Candice understood Night’s position there. “I want to know what her pact is though and I would like to interview her. I need to be able to do my job properly. I would also like you to tell me if you acquire anymore. Is that acceptable?”

“A pact can also offer protection from mind magic and other manipulations. Will you accept a Pact not to tell Celestia?” Night asked calmly with narrowed eyes seeming to stare through Candice’s soul.

“Yes, I don’t intend to tell her anything at all anyway. I don’t report to her. And my request?” Candice said.

“I will humour you and let you speak to my Pet, as for the rest, we will see,” Night responded.

“Thank you, Night,” Candice replied back.

“You will not tell Celestia or her agents anything about myself or my actions. Will this be an acceptable pact?” Night asked.

“No problem, I’m already under that one from Luna. Just worded slightly differently.” Candice smiled.

“Then the protections will be doubled!” Night let lose a small laugh.

Night let her mirth fade, standing and taking on the look of a regal ruler. “Candice, First of the Evening Guard. I Bind you. You will not tell Celestia or her agents anything about myself or my actions,” Night imperiously declared, the world itself seemed to listen. Offering no resistance, each word seemed to strengthen her resolve to follow them, instead of feeling like binding chains.

“Accepted,” Candice stated. She could feel the effect solidify as she accepted the pact.

“Now,” Night started. “Return to your task of hugs.” Night pointed back to Twilight. The faint grin seemed like it could have become a giggle on somepony less controlled.

Candice did more than just hug Twilight.

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