• Published 28th Mar 2020
  • 1,803 Views, 25 Comments

Starlight Glimmer and the Runekeepers - JPHyperX

Starlight Glimmer's life changes when she finds an ancient secret she must uncover. Meanwhile, assassins plan to kill Twilight Sparkle.

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Chapter 3: A Terrible Discovery

The grey Pegasus mare flew eager minded towards the palace of Canterlot. The winds were strong, but she had flown this way for a long time to send important messages. Sometimes she'd mess up an assignment, but most letters reached their destination safely. She flew past the high towers. A bit scatterbrained as she was, she sometimes lost her flight path and therefore flew unnecessary detours or diagonal curves. The palace guards with their spears and golden armor registered her. But they knew her well and continued their patrol undeterred.

In the palace, Twilight Sparkle sat on the throne again, in front of her stood the chosen search troop in line. “I order to search the caves for my friend, Starlight Glimmer. We have been separated, and it is vital she remains unharmed,” she called.

There were various entrances to the mines below Canterlot. If Starlight escaped through one of them, she would contact them. So she had speculated with Sunburst, who stood with Trixie beside the throne.

Tempest saluted in front of the guard formally, ready to deploy the troops. She was a little stricter on the ponies than Twilight's brother Shining Armor was back then. But perhaps it was also what the Canterlot Guards needed; fresh wind, less pampering and sweet talk, more endurance and discipline.

The double doors swung open, which the palace guards caught quickly with their magic. It was Spike who entered, and if anyone thought Twilight Sparkle had grown up well, they should take a look at him. He had received a considerable growth spurt. His muscles had formed magnificently. The wings on his back had become wider and his teeth much longer. He wore a gold medallion around his neck; the sign of the royal advisor. He was the next ruler to Twilight Sparkle, so to speak. When she couldn’t spare any time, he was in charge of organizing. He also acted as an intermediary and ambassador between dragons and ponies.

Sunburst and Trixie startled a little when they saw him. They hardly seemed to recognize him.

“Twilight!” shouted the dragon in a grumpy voice, “Is this true? Someone tried to kill you?”

How he had found out was beyond even Twilight's comprehension. Perhaps he had overheard the guards chattering.

“Yes,” she confirmed, “Twice!”

Spike's scales became sharper with fright, “WHAT?!” He threw his claws over the head. Twilight wasn't lying. He would freak out. “Is that why all these guards are here?”

Twilight shook her head. “No, it's a search party for Starlight Glimmer...”

Spike's scales are sharpening again. “Are you implying that...?”

“No, no, Spike! We were separated in the caves. I'll explain later.”

Spike furrowed his brow. Everyone in the room couldn't blame him for reacting like that. “But don't we need these guards more urgently here at the castle?”

Tempest replied clearing her throat, “Probably. But the assassin killed himself. If he was a lone wolf, a new attack wouldn’t come so soon. But my guards always have a sharp eye. I trust them to protect you and the princess.”

Before Spike could ask any more questions, something crashed behind the gate of the grand entrance. Everyone looked up in a flash and whirled around.

The gate opened slowly screeching and a grey post mare staggered in with rolling eyes. She held a telegram in her mouth. One of the unicorn servants trotted up to her and requested her to hand it over. He inspected it thoroughly and when he discovered no traces of any spells, he levitated it directly to the princess.

Twilight unfolded the message and her eyes grew bigger. She even read it twice. Then she called out in relief, “She's all right! She's in Ponyville!”

Sunburst and Trixie lowered their heads calmly and sighed in unison. Tempest signaled the guards to return to their original posts.

Sunburst stood up again and spoke enthusiastically to Twilight, “This is good news. We have to meet her immediately.”

Spike scratched his head, “Well, I can still spit letters, remember?”

“Maybe there was a reason for it,” Twilight said pensive. Spike didn't seem too amused by this comment. When she noticed his reaction, she responded immediately, “But certainly not because of you.”

Suddenly Spike blew his cheeks open and belched a green ball of fire out of his throat. A parchment scroll materialized from the fire and fell right in front of Twilight's hooves. She picked it up.

“At least someone’s thinking about it,” Spike gasped contentedly and pounded himself on the mighty chest.

Twilight unfolded the role. “It’s from Applejack. She has discovered something and asks us to come quickly.” She looked at Tempest in surprise. “And she wants you there.”

The captain blinked confused and pointed at herself, “Me?”

“So it is written. She has found something with Rainbow Dash, and it’s extremely urgent.”

“But what if this is another trap?” Tempest replied. “It’s better if you stay at the palace and we send a representative.”

Sunburst called. “We're volunteering. We have to go to Ponyville anyway to meet Starlight.”

Twilight agreed nodding and rose from the throne. “Then follow me. I want to show you something great.”

Spike and Tempest grinned when she said that. Together they left the throne room.

They passed through the corridors of the servants’ and maids’ rooms. As they followed Twilight, Sunburst asked her a question, “How have you been lately? Have you, by any chance, found a possible faithful student?”

Twilight chuckled boldly and thought back to her mentor Celestia and the time she studied at the School for Gifted Unicorns. “Not yet, but I’ve heard that a baby foal at Magic Kindergarten already shows remarkable abilities. Her name is Luster Dawn and she can already read.”

Sunburst and Trixie opened their mouths when they heard that. “She could surpass Starlight,” gasped Sunburst with delight.

Twilight raised a proud glance and walked past her private library. In this room a pony was already sitting at a round table, a white alicorn with curly, purple hair. She studied intensely concentrated on the books. She was just as tall as the princess in her younger years.

Twilight spoke as she watched the learner. “It’s going to take some time for that to reach its full potential and until then I'll support Flurry Heart where I can.”

Sunburst wept a tear of joy when he saw the young alicorn mare. When she was a baby, he had fed and cared for her for a long time. The fact that she had grown so big apparently filled him with hope and pride for the following alicorn generation.

They left the library and walked up a spiral staircase of white marble. When they reached the top of the tower, they stood in a mid-sized room. The pink light of a magic circle reflected off the blue walls, which was as wide as a whole carriage. Spike explained right away what it was all about, “This is a teleportation circle. Twilight and some talented unicorns developed it. I was skeptical at first, but then I realized how useful it could be.”

“Unfortunately, it only works in one direction,” Tempest said. “We used it after Starlight Glimmer wrote us.”

Trixie and Sunburst looked at this magical invention with fascination. Twilight kept on explaining how the circle worked, “Even non-unicorns can use it. You just have to step inside and think long enough about the place you want.”

“Great idea,” Trixie called amazed.

Twilight pointed to the center of the circle. “All right then, please stand here and think about Ponyville. It will bring you there in no time.”

Sunburst, Trixie and Tempest did as they were told. The circle whirred up as it detected the presence of three beings. They closed their eyes to gain a clear picture for the desired target.

Twilight said goodbye once more while the sound of magic grew louder and louder, “Please send my regards to Starlight and that I wish her all the best. Tell her to hurry back and…”

A swirling stream of pure magic rose from the circle. The ponies inside vanished into thin air.

“…get well soon,” Twilight finished the sentence and lowered her head, deeply concerned with Starlight Glimmer.

The travelers fell through a deep, purple maelstrom of fire. It only took the blink of an eye to reach the middle of Ponyville. In front of them stood a large house whose façade had been built as if made off baking ingredients. Tempest gazed at the building in astonishment. “Okay, one of you is definitely hungry. Cause I wasn’t thinking about Sugarcube Corner.”

Trixie blushed and confessed as she drilled her right hoof into the ground, “That must have been me. I thought we could have a little snack in-between…”

Tempest rolled her eyes, but was forced to smile. If Trixie was a guard, she would tell her off for that. But luckily for her, she wasn’t one of them. “You go ahead. I have to watch my form. What about you, Sunburst?”

The stallion cleaned his glasses calmly while Trixie rushed into the cake shop. “No need. I’m used to eating very little and my stomach can’t handle too much candy.”

At the Sugarcube Corner, Trixie went to the cash register. There stood Mrs. Cake, who greeted her new customer, “A wonderful day, Trixie! How’s school business?”

“Oh, not much, just a little incident with Starlight Glimmer and a creature that nearly killed her.” She gasped when she realized she’d babbled a little too much.

Mrs. Cake was so startled, she drooped her face. “For Celestia’s sake! I hope she’s all right!”

Trixie smiled embarrassed and tried to calm the confectioner down. “It’s alright! Starlight handled it without any trouble. But our school is closed for the moment. Safety first. One box of mini crumb cakes, please.”

Mrs. Cake packed her order and Trixie paid before she was getting too uncomfortable. “Bye, Mrs. Cake!”

She trotted to the exit and saw a shady figure standing at the corner. It was a grey pony in a closed hood cape. Two glowing red eyes peeked out from under the shadow. “Quintus, successful?” he asked her in a smoky voice.

Trixie turned around and looked askant at the dubious shadow. “Huh?”

“Quintus?” he replied.

The mare did not quite understand what he meant and raised an eyebrow. “What’s a Quintus?”

The stallion said nothing, but the corner of his mouth pulled down frowning. He threw the cape over his head and disappeared in a haze of black smoke. Trixie knew these tricks, but there was real magic behind that. No smoke bombs or anything. Pale as a sheet, she pointed to the dark corner and looked over at Mrs. Cake. But she had turned to the closet behind the register. There’s no way she could have noticed anything. Trixie left the store thoughtfully.

Tempest and Sunburst were already waiting. “Well, that took long enough,” she huffed. “We have to find Starlight Glimmer as soon as possible and then go straight to Sweet Apple Acres.”

“Sorry!” Trixie just said and began eating the first mini cake.

Sunburst noticed her disturbed face. “Was something wrong?”

Trixie bit off a piece, chewed and swallowed before answering, “I don’t know, there was some guy asking me something weird.”

Tempest and Sunburst listened up. This gave them a sinking feeling. Tempest had to ask, “What did he ask, and what did he look like?”

“Haggard, dark fur, red glaring eyes, and wrapped in a frock, very edgy.”

Tempest stopped abruptly and stared Trixie straight in the face. Her halved horn flashed as she screamed, “ARE YOU BUCKING SERIOUS?”

Sunburst and some other ponies in the area stared at the tall mare in shock. Trixie had curled up into a little blue furry ball. Tempest Shadow’s brief outburst had a touch of her alter ego when she had served the Storm King. Twilight had told her to control such tantrums. Not only because she scared of other ponies, but also due of the strain on her broken horn.

Trixie buried the face behind her mane. “He-he disappeared in a black puff of smoke. I have no idea where he went.”

Tempest raised her head and took a deep breath, just as the princess had taught her. Calmly and steady she exhaled again. “Okay… This means extra attention. I hope Twilight, Spike and my guard are as well. At least tell me what he asked you.”

Trixie stood up again and levitated her cake box. “He called me Quintus and asked if I’d succeeded with something. I have no idea what Quintus means.”

Sunburst could explain it, “Quintus is old ponyish and means something like “The Fifth”. Probably an alias.”

Tempest went on and spoke disparagingly, “Of course it’s an alias. Assassins and criminals usually act that way when they have an intention.”

She remembered how the Storm King had given his slaves and minions new names. He hated most pony names and renamed everything that sounded too cute for him.

They crossed the square in front of the town hall, a round building that towered over all other village huts. Therefore, it was a popular meeting place for all villagers. Ceremonies, such as the Winter Wrap-up day, were started here.

Trixie nibbled the last cake and threw the box into a garbage can. Tempest looked around and watched every pony in the area. Concentrated, she spoke to the others, “If Starlight Glimmer is smart she’d be waiting for us here. Just about every pony is here at one time or another.

“Trust me, she is,” Sunburst replied calmly.

The three ponies walked towards the town hall. It seems there had been a small event. A chain of colorful pennants hung over the village lanterns. Also the terraces of the town hall showed some festive decorations. As they walked around, Trixie thought of something. “So the guy called me Quintus because he thought I was his accomplice. The guy who kidnapped me…”

Tempest lifted her ears in surprise. “Spot on!”

“Hey! I’m not that stupid!” Trixie huffed insulted.

Tempest shook her head smiling. “I really meant it! Well, it may be a little obvious, but it proves me you think the way I do, and I’m thinking like Twilight Sparkle.”

Trixie stopped for a moment after she had heard this compliment. Tempest just hoped it didn’t go to her head.

Starlight Glimmer sat on a park bench not far from the restaurant. It belonged to one of the most famous places in Ponyville, since it was near the town hall.

She stared absent-mindedly at the numberless watch. She had been at the hospital before. But the doctor couldn't do more than bandage the leg and prescribe a painkiller that didn't work for magical injuries.

“Starlight,” she suddenly heard a familiar voice. Trixie stormed up to her like a filly to her mother. It warmed her heart.

She opened her front legs to embrace her friend. “Oh, Trixie, you’re all right!”

Then she looked past her and spotted Sunburst and Tempest. After Trixie's hug, she wanted to jump into his hooves, too. “Sunburst, I'm so sorry!”

But he refused at first and spoke severely, “Please… Do not do that again… I almost died of worry!” But then he actually let her hug him.

Tempest strode satisfied towards Starlight. “Now that we're all together again, we can hurry to Sweet Apple Acres.”

“Why? Something happened?” Starlight asked in surprise.

“At the same time as we received your telegram, a letter arrived from Applejack via Spike,” Tempest replied.

Starlight hit her forehead. “Oh, the dragon mail. Damn, I could have done that as well. Sorry, after all the fuss, I forgot.”

“You'd better apologize to Spike,” The Captain quipped. Suddenly she looked up at the sky. Starlight felt the presence of a fast pony.

In the sky a rainbow trail passed over the thatched roofs and headed towards them. A Pegasus with a fringed mane appeared in front of them. Her face showed clear signs of distress. “There you are at, Tempest! AJ is waiting and the longer it takes, the more she panics! Why isn't Twilight with you?”

Rainbow Dash looked at the other three confused. “And what are you doing here?”

Sunburst waved at her with a crooked smile. “We’re here to represent her. There have been... um... several incidents, and for her safety she's staying in the castle.”

Rainbow didn't look like she could handle any more events. She let her hooves down and turned her eyes up. "Oh, great! Seems like, all of Equestria is in trouble... again!"

“Tell us, what happened," said Starlight.

Rainbow's wings beat faster as she shouted, “Just go and find it out! Especially you, Tempest! I really want to hear what you have to say about it.”

The last sentence sounded like an accusation. Then she dashed back to the farm. Tempest looked anxious and started to gallop. “Let's hurry.”

The farm consisted of a red-painted main barn, a small henhouse and a pigsty, and a huge apple plantation, the boundaries of which no one could really estimate. The ponies slowed down and Tempest turned up her nostrils when she caught the farm scent.

Everything looked peaceful. No sign of trouble. The owner of the farm, Applejack, was sitting at the entrance of the barn. She had a wild debate with Rainbow Dash. Next to them were Applejack's siblings. Big Mac had a neatly combed mane, and little Apple Bloom had grown quite a bit. She had braided her mane into two braids and freckles formed on the bridge of her nose, just like her big sister.

Applejack's stress level seemed close to the limit. Her blonde hair was disheveled, and she hissed loudly, “Whaddaya mean, Twilight can't come? This mumbo jumbo can only be handled by her or do ah look like a unicorn?”

“AJ, we'll ask her later. She sent help, including Tempest.” Rainbow Dash tried to calm her down. Then she spotted the others.

Tempest stepped forward and asked without hesitation, as if she were the exterminator in distress, “Where’s the problem?”

Applejack sparkled at her with light green eyes. “In the barn, and ah wanna hear a good explanation!”

The Captain ignored her quick-tempered manner and walked up to the house, the others followed. Big Mac addressed his smallest sister, “Apple Bloom, you stay right here. This isn’t for your eyes.”

“But ah've already seen it. Ah was there with Applejack when she saw it. What else can shock me now?” she protested.

Starlight went past them. “What happened exactly?”

The looks of the two apple siblings wandered tellingly to the barn. Tempest opened the door, and an even fouler stench blew towards the ponies. It smelled bestial, so that their eyes watered. But they finally overcame themselves and entered.

What they found there, strapped everyone's throats. Inside the barn, there were about a dozen pig carcasses at every corner. Their intestines and blood lay scattered on the floor and mixed with the straw. Black flies were swarming all over the place as if celebrating their feast. A circle of blood was drawn on the clean center, with unknown writings on the edges. It was also decorated with blown out candles. The wooden walls were also smeared and showed all kinds of different symbols. Guts and other dead pigs hung from the struts. It looked like a macabre slaughter festival. But what disturbed everyone more was Tempest’s name on the wall right in front of them. In blood-red letters they read, “Tempest Shadow.”

Starlight puffed up her cheeks in the face of disgust and horror. Trixie gave a suppressed choking sound and her face turned pale. Without hesitation, she ran out. Sunburst tried not to scream; worried one of the flies might get into his mouth.

Applejack stood in front of the door with a very grim face. Right behind her was Rainbow Dash, who helped her stay upright. “Twelve pigs… Only one piglet survived…”

Tempest turned around and showed a deeply shocked face. “I… can’t find the words.”

Applejack’s lower lip quivered and more tears gathered in her eyes. Her voice became louder, “Then explain me why ya gosh darn name is smeared on the wall?!”

Nopony found an answer. Wordless, as Tempest said. Neither the crime nor the reason why this name was written on the wall delivered any explanation.

Sunburst looked at the writings to decipher some spell. He found what he was looking for. “It seems to me that something has been conjured here.”

Starlight’s ears rang, her heart began to race. This sudden realization made her throat completely dry. “I think that was it…”

The stallion nodded agreeing. “Yes, I see we have found the source of your creature.”

Applejack calmed down and was able to contain her anger as best she could. “What creature?” she asked interested.

Sunburst held his nostrils closed and pointed towards the exit. “I’ll explain it to you, but first I need some fresh air!”

Everyone agreed with this statement. Starlight looked at one of the symbols as she passed by. Something about it looked familiar.

In front of the barn stood a pink unicorn mare with dark purple curls. She wore dungarees, like from the typical country times, when Ponyville was freshly founded. But what was especially noticeable on her was her small, round belly. Starlight recognized her. “Sugar Belle! How are you?”

The unicorn mare beamed and embraced her old friend. “I’m fine! As far as things go.” She looked worried at the barn. “Big Mac forbids me to go in there. But judging by Applejack’s reaction, I don’t want to either.”

Starlight looked at her belly and immediately knew how she could replace the subject with something more pleasant. “How long you’ll be in foal? It’s starting to look pretty heavy.”

Big Mac came up and snuggled her. Sugar Belle giggled, “Another good four month and yes, the little one is becoming heavier.”

Sunburst had sat down on a stone and played around with his beard. Then he took a stick and drew some symbols on the sandy ground.

Meanwhile, Trixie tumbled out of the outhouse. White porridge, which had once been a crumble cake, poured out of her nostrils. She reached into her stomach, held her neck stretched out and limped towards the others. Starlight spoke to her with concern, “Trixie? You actually threw up?”

“Nothing’s impossible for the great and all-powerful Trixie,” groaned the magician. Sugar Belle used her horn to pull a tissue from her overalls. Trixie immediately blew her nose with it.

“I feel the same way sometimes,” said Sugar Belle compassionately.

Starlight had to correct her, “No, I think it was that in the barn.”

“Oh, dear, is it that bad?” she gasped.

Trixie groaned again and dragged herself past them to sit next to Sunburst. “Oorgh! Please don’t remind me.”

Sunburst had eagerly drawn other symbols in the sand and tapped them concentrated with his stick as if he wanted to interpret a syllable. Applejack and Rainbow joined in and looked at his writing.

When he had gained their attention, he started to explain, “What we see here are symbols for incantations. Somepony has used a very specific spell: Necromancy.”

Applejack and Rainbow stared bluffed at him. But Starlight knew what it meant and she didn’t like it at all.

“Something like zombie ponies?” Applejack asked.

Sunburst nodded and continued, “Yes, as the soul escapes, only the body remains and only this one is revived. An empty husk, to which one can command everything, but with it comes something much more evil. Resurrections of this kind are against nature. Whoever breaks these rules will be punished severely, unless you know exactly what to do.”

Starlight wound up her bandage. “This morning I was attacked by such a beast! It caused me this!”

The others flinched when they saw this dark, leathery skin. Sunburst continued, “And these writings aren’t just incantations, they are orders. It says something like this: The creature is to mark Tempest Shadow, who will carry the mark forward to kill Twilight Sparkle.”

Applejack and Rainbow lost control of their jaws. “Somepony is out to get Twilight?” gasped Rainbow, "But why did that thing attack Starlight?

Tempest, who was standing a little further away, suddenly replied, “I think I know why. The wither pony didn’t know my real name. The assassin in the cave had mentioned that he had made a mistake and that his revenant was lost. Unfortunately, Starlight Glimmer was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Starlight wrapped up the rotten hood again. Rainbow scratched her chin with a smirk, “Oh, yeah, right! Your real name is not Tempest Shadow, its Fuzzy Bob Perry… thing?”

“Fizzlepop Berrytwist!” she replied sharply. Trixie burst out laughing and rolled over her back. Her nausea seemed to have disappeared. Tempest frowned and lifted her muzzle. Starlight nudged her friend with her hind leg to keep her quiet.

Rainbow grinned at Tempest, “Ha, looks like your alias from the old days saved Twilight’s life. I’m glad you kept it.”

“Fizzlepop… ti-hi!” Trixie chuckled softly.

Starlight thought about the signs she knew from the castle again and decided to share it, “I have something important to tell you. Some of these symbols I have seen today. I will show you. If you have the time, we will go to the castle.”

Sunburst pointed his ears with interest. “Where did you see them?”

Starlight hinted clearly that they should follow. But Applejack hesitated and looked bitterly back at her farm. “Whaddabout ma barn? Granny Smith is mighty sick, and Ah’ve some other things to do. Ah can’t…”

Starlight understood her and agreed with a smile. It was really too much for the apple mare. Rainbow stood with her the whole time and tried to cheer her up. Still, her loyalty persisted and Applejack kept her honesty.

Tempest walked up to the two ponies. “I’ll send a squad to help you clean up. Princess Twilight will hear about this, and we won’t rest until we find who’s behind all this.”

Applejack looked at Tempest and smiled gratefully.

On evenings like these, the castle quickly became dark. Starlight had helped out a little and illuminated the corridors with beautiful firefly lamps. In the darkness with the lanterns the castle looked very mystical, like a deserted city at night. The young students had long since finished their lesson and had gone to bed.

Starlight and the others had the conference room all to themselves. Here she was able to show the others her discovery undisturbed. “It happened when I threw the watch on the table...”

She gently placed the watch in the middle of the map table. Nothing happened for a long time and that made Starlight very nervous. If this was a one-time reaction, she would curse this table and the whole castle, which sometimes really had a mind of its own.

But it was worth the wait. The watch lighted up. As before, it flew into the air and spat out the symbols. Sunburst, Trixie and Tempest stared at this phenomenon with wide eyes. Then, as Starlight had expected, the watch with the symbols sank onto the table. Sunburst gave a whoop and held on to his glasses as if they were trying to fly away, “Unbelievable!”

Starlight smirked. The castle and the map had not let her down. “That’s right; they’re the same symbols you saw in the barn.”

Tempest looked skeptical. “If these symbols have anything to do with this dark summoning ritual, it can't mean anything good.”

“I doubt it.” Sunburst replied confidently, “Magic runes and signs are neither good nor evil. It all depends on their use. You can also use letters to write something bad or something very nice.”

“Nice comparison,” said Starlight and looked at one of the signs again. “When I touch one of these lights, this happens.”

She nudged at the Aries symbol, which hovered over a mountain as usual. In the past, this card had had a similar function. The Tree of Harmony detected conflict situations and called a pony to the card to solve this problem. Sunburst took a closer look at this symbol and the place where it circled. “I wonder if it’s the same as before.”

Starlight shrugged. “I guess we’ll have to find out.”

“Wait,” Tempest suddenly said, “I’m going to contact Twilight. I think she should see this, too.”

She pressed on the pink star of her breastplate. The crystal flashed in two short intervals, until suddenly an apparition came out of the stone and Twilight Sparkle was projected onto the table in transparent form. “Tempest! Any news? How’s Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Starlight?” she exclaimed excitedly.

The latter replied, “I’m here! I’m okay so far!”

Twilight breathed a sigh of relief when she saw her missing friend again. “Thanks, to Luna and Celestia! What happened?”

Tempest reported, “Your friends are fine, but on Sweet Apple Acres, Applejack’s pigs were massacred and used in a summoning ritual. The family is outraged.”

Twilight stared bitterly at her, but Tempest continued, “We believe it was the origin of this wither pony and the culprit of this spell was certainly this stallion from the cave.”

"I'm sure of it," Twilight gasped.

“And another thing, princess.” said Tempest, “There may be other assassins at large. We must double our guards and also hand out wanted posters. I also suggest using the castle geese.”

“You’re right,” Twilight said, “We must make it clear to these assassins that we will not be intimidated.”

Starlight stood next to the Captain, “And I also discovered something: When I put this watch we found on the map, it glowed up. Look!”

Tempest moved a little further so that Twilight could see the symbols on the map. She was amazed. “It’s been a while since it did that…” She examined the map and the symbols individually in detail. “This symbol there on the mountain. I know that place.”

Starlight became all ears. “Really? What is that mountain?”

“Once there slept a giant red dragon, which only spewed smoke and almost took the fresh air from Ponyville. My friends and I had gone there to ask him to find his sleeping place somewhere else. Fluttershy had been the only one who could speak into his conscience.”

Starlight laughed. She would have loved to see Fluttershy make this dragon cry. Twilight continued, “I didn’t expect there is something left. Otherwise the mountain looks very insignificant. I hereby give you the mission to investigate.”

Sunburst completely in travel-fever kicked with his front-legs. “Oh, this is going to be exciting.”

Tempest smiled a little envious at the three ponies. “As wonderful as it sounds, I must protect Twilight. I have the feeling that dark times will be upon us again.”

The princess nodded gratefully at Tempest's loyal statement. Then she smiled at the others. “Sleep well, my friends! May Luna watch over your dreams!”

Thus, she ended the magical connection of her crystal ball, which stood in her bedroom, formerly owned by Celestia. Many stacks of books rested on a reading corner and a telescope was directed towards the sky in front of the entrance to the balcony. Twilight went outside and watched the sun. She closed her eyes and raised her horn. A pink stripe stretched across the sky as the glowing fire ball reached the horizon. Without any problems she hid the sun behind the mountains, it went dark. The stars shone brightly. Twilight cast the next spell and let the moon rise. It illuminated her worried face. A tear ran under her eye, which she wiped off immediately. That day had stressed her more than a whole week. She wondered who could have anything against the Princess of Friendship.

She had brought peace to the world, united new nations. She was popular amongst all ponies and other creatures. But someone was out to take her life. And he or she would also harm her friends to achieve his goal. Who? Who could it be?

Twilight looked around; she stood alone on this semicircular balcony. Peace had returned. Spike and the servants were already asleep. Twilight leaned over the railing and whispered in a low voice: “Flash? Flash, are you there?”

A shadow below her moved and flew up. An orange Pegasus stallion appeared above her, landing on the parapet. Twilight's heart suddenly pounded wildly. She ran to him to give him a hug. They spun around and kissed each other. Flash Sentry, like all ponies, was smaller than her, but he could make up for it by flying. He touched her cheek. “You cried?”

Twilight turned her head away and went back to her room. Flash followed her with a wondering look.

“Some of my friends aren’t doing so well and my day was pretty rough, too,” Twilight replied exhausted. She stretched and spread her wings. Her growth gave her a hard time. If only she had known that growing alicorns could have back problems. But that’s what Flash Sentry was for. He was not only a good lover and guardian but also a good massager.

Twilight lay down on her belly and Flash immediately started circling his hooves on her back. He actually found some muscle tension and Twilight puffed as he made powerful circular movements around her back.

“Starlight Glimmer was attacked and injured, Applejack lost her pigs and then assassins are after me,” she said.

Flash stopped at once and looked at her in shock. “That doesn’t sound good!”

“No,” drawled Twilight.

Flash continued the massage silently and Twilight sighed embittered, she needed some distraction. She blushed at this idea and raised one wing to show him her waist. Flash smirked at this implication and started to do so. Twilight's neck stretched longer and her face reddened. Then their eyes met. The tension between them increased, and so they kissed deeply. Promptly Twilight stood up and pushed the stallion into bed with an intense gaze. Her bed was covered with dark purple starry curtains. She could pull them behind her to enjoy complete silence.

In the very beginning, Twilight thought that Alicorns were only here to lead. There no room for love, until Princess Cadence married her brother and even had a foal with him. From then on, Twilight knew it was possible.

But she wasn't sure what her folk would say. She was the princess of friendship. Was there enough room for family? For the time being, she kept her relationship with Flash Sentry a secret. She regularly drank a contraceptive potion and waited to see what her friends would say. One day she would tell them. She enjoyed her time and didn't think about it anymore, just enjoyed that one moment.