• Published 29th Oct 2019
  • 834 Views, 121 Comments

Midnight's Shadow: The Bog Witch - Ponibius

Midnight Sparkle answers a summons as an evil spirit has taken residence deep within the Swampy Bottom Bog and is starting to corrupt the land. Midnight finds herself facing annoying haunts, monsters, irritating teenagers, and worst of all: mud.

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The Bog Witch: Prologue

There was a great evil within the heart of Equestria. Its reach was long, its resources truly immense, and its power both great and subtle. Only I appreciated the scope of this threat, and I planned on ruthlessly hunting it down. But first I needed to fully know mine enemy. To act with haste without knowing the resources available to this evil would be to spell doom for all of Equestria.

Thus I had multiple boards set up, each covered with papers and pieces of string stretched out this way and that to connect facts together. I was in the middle of considering whether Diamond Dog raids in the south were related to the rise of gem prices in Southmarch when Mother entered my room.

“Child, there are matters I would...”

Mother trailed off when she saw my collection of evidence. Mine eyes remained upon the boards as I answered her. I was on the verge of an insight and did not wish to lose it. “What is it, Mother? Is some monster attacking the countryside and devouring ponies to sate its hunger on the flesh of the innocents? Or have the nobility launched some scheme to try and have you removed as grand vizier again? Or might I aid thy choice in our menu for dinner?”

“I was going to discuss dinner, but now...” Mother frowned as she examined one of the boards. “Explain this, if thou wouldst.”

Ah. Of course Mother would wish to know what I had spent the last week working on. It had so consumed me that I had hardly seen another pony, much less the sun. “There is a great evil which plagues the land—so terrible that 'tis nearly impossible to fully grasp. The hags in Appleton, the brewing war with Gryphonia, the Crystal War, the Ephors turning on Celestia ... it all arises from the scheming of one pony.”

Mother’s face screwed up. “I beg thy pardon?”

I stomped a hoof. “'Tis the Perfidious Filly, she is behind it all! Every ill in the world is her fault, I just know it.” I pointed to the boards as I went through different aspects of the fiend’s master plan. “The inflation of sugar prices, the increase in monster attacks to the south, rain storms on the night of the Gala—all her! ‘Tis all linked.” I rubbed my chin. “Even if I have yet to determine exactly how ‘tis all intended to work together. But I will see through the mist of her deceptions in time. Then she will rue the day she was born.”

Mother blinked owlishly as she absorbed the great evil I had laid bare before her. “That seems highly unlikely. I suppose thou wouldst blame the war on her too?”

I tapped my forehooves together. “Which war? I affirm thine answer regardless, for she is responsible for much. She manipulates events in little ways, bringing us closer and closer to war with High King Severus just as it was with the Lunar Rebellion. And I much mislike how events coalesce in Freeport. A little whisper here, a push there, the right people placed in the right positions—and then the evils of war hang over us.”

Mother groaned and massaged her brow. “She was but a newborn foal during the war, and a mere child of five years when Veritanu came to Equestria. How could she possibly have driven these events?”

I rubbed my chin as I returned to that question once again. I had considered many times in the past how such could even be possible. “How indeed, Mother? How indeed... 'Twould be a simple enough task to complete with time travel and an organization willing to do her dark bidding.”

Mother’s ear twitched. “Current temporal theory says that any attempt at the manipulation of past events would simply result in the creation of a closed time loop. Also, the filly in question has yet to display the slightest inkling of magical talent.”

“Or so she has led us to believe,” I countered. “Besides, what about the future? Who can say what new spells or magics could be invented centuries from now? With sufficient planning and preparation, any number of things are theoretically possible.”

Mother shook her head with a sigh. “As magi, we cannot base entire theories on what might be possible in the future. That is not even getting into the plausibility of some vast and secretive organization successfully hiding itself for centuries when I have trouble keeping secrets in court for more than a few days. Ponies are notoriously loose-lipped, especially about secrets.”

“Because most ponies are not involved in dark, horrible conspiracies bent on the destruction of all of Equestria.” I returned to examining my board. “Now, I must consider how the meeting of the mayors around Manehattan and the increase in bank interest rates are related to the Perfidious Filly’s plans—especially given the insidious nature of the banana market.”

Mother shot me an unamused glower. “Child, I think we must find a more useful endeavour for thy time.” A shadow of a smirk flashed across her lips. “Thankfully, I have the perfect task for thee.”

I stiffened at the news. “A task? But Mother, the Perfidious Filly must be stopped!”

Mother pressed her lips together ere nodding to herself. “I shall see to the matter presently. This task meanwhile requires thy particular talents.”

I frowned. “What task is this?”

“Archmagus Mossy Banks requires aid in resolving several tasks that require a Magus of thy skill, and I would reinforce my bonds with him,” Mother informed me. “Keeping all the archmagi firmly in my orbit is vital to our plans, particularly where our efforts to see thee become an archmagus are concerned. Thou canst learn the details of what Archmagus Mossy requires from him. No doubt he can explain what he needs and answer thy questions better than I.”

It felt as though a hole into the abyss was slowly opening up below me as I fully grasped what Mother wished for me to do. “No, you are not thinking to send me to ... Froggy Bottom Bog?! ‘Tis filthy!”

Mother tossed her mane. “As I recall, thou didst make quite a production of proving that thou hadst o'ercome thy aversion to mud and grime.” Her lips quirked into a smirk. “Thou wert positively covered in mud.”

I grimaced and my body writhed in revulsion at the memory. It seemed my gambit had failed miserably. “Aye, that is true. But just because I can deal with such things, that does not mean I wish to.”

Indeed, one of the last places I wanted to go in Equestria was that bog. I had read of Froggy Bottom Bog, and every description of it caused nothing but revulsion in me. That bog was filled with all manner of dirt, mud, gunk, biting insects, and other horrors that I hardly wished to think about. I would rather face monsters or warlocks in battle or, dare I say it, carry water again than face the filth of the bog.

“Duty often requires us to do things we would not wish to,” Mother stated, her tone brooking no argument. “I hardly wish hearing the whining of every self-important noble or ignorant farmer who comes to the palace, but I do what I must as my duties demand. If thou wouldst be a proper magus of Equestria, then thou must answer when duty calls.”

“Is there not some other duty I can do?” I pleaded. “Something less ... dirty? Thou art given requests for aid from all quarters. Surely there is another task to assign.”

Mother’s eyes narrowed. “Archmagus Banks requested mine aid, and thou art best suited to delivering it. I have given my word on the matter and that is final. Prepare thyself for thy journey, for thou wilt be leaving posthaste. An archmagus is not to be kept waiting, and thou havest a long flight ahead of thee.”

My ears wilted. Why was life so cruel to me? “Very well, Mother. Though if I could have but one request?” I looked to my boards. “At least promise to look into the matter with the Perfidious Filly whilst I am away? I fear what evils she might enact, and if there is anypony who can uncover them in mine absence...”

Mother smiled reassuringly as she patted me on the back. “Do not worry, I shall make it my highest priority until the matter is resolved.”

Mother was arguably the greatest warlock hunter in Equestria. If there was anypony’s hooves I could leave my great work in, ‘twas hers. “My thanks. My mind is already at ease.”

Mother inclined her head. “Very good then. I suggest preparing for thy trip.”

“I shall do so.” Delaying the matter would not make dealing with the mud any easier, and tarrying would only make Mother wroth.

I picked up a few things I would need for the trip, and as I started departing my room I noted Mother approaching one of my boards. No doubt she wished to examine the Perfidious Filly’s many crimes.

She picked it up and stacked it on top of one of the other boards, as though to transport all of them. I thought it queer, but that was probably my mind being foolish. Mother would not ignore a threat as great as the Perfidious Filly. Likely she was just transporting everything to her own lab or office to carry on my important research.

I knew I left this project in good hooves. For now, I needed to concentrate on what would be mine own disgusting mission.

Author's Note:

Thanks to my editors Chengar Qordath and Comma-Kazie for all their help, and to my pre-readers Brony Writer, wolfstorm56, Trinary, 621Chopsuey, Rodinga, and PoisonClaw for their hard work editing.

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