• 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 4: Fear not this Night

Twilight Sparkle slept peacefully in her bed. The moon shone brightly into her room. The door to the big balcony was open, so a fresh wind blew in. The silky, white curtains ghostly floated in the gentle breeze. It was a time when the nights were still very warm. Twilight snuggled deep into her bed and breathed softly through her nose. Next to her lay Flash Sentry.

It was very quiet in the sleeping room. Sometimes the hallway creaked outside when a guard passed by. In every corridor there were guards posted. It was practically impossible to walk unnoticed through the corridors without being seen.

Twilight had put on a sweet smile in her sleep. After the little fun with Flash, she was deeply relaxed. The mattress wobbled as the stallion stood up. Like a shadow he bent over the princess and looked at her. His eyes lit up and a murderous grin ran across his face. Under his wing he had hidden a jackknife, small and fine, decorated with ornaments. He took it in his hooves. Twilight felt the movement in the bed and opened her eyes. Then she turned her head. With red glaring eyes, Flash stabbed her.

Twilight gasped in panic and reached for her throat. The dream had felt so real that she had actually felt this knife at her throat. It wasn't just a bad dream; it was a warning. Still breathing heavily, she looked at Flash Sentry. He lay on his back with his mouth open and played a relaxed snoring concert. Fortunately, the most beautiful thing had not been a dream.

She touched her neck once more and decided to take some fresh air. Carefully she pulled back the curtains and got out of bed. She slipped into her night slippers and put on a sleeping coat. Her mane was a little fringed, but that didn't matter at the moment. The previous dream caused her much more worry. Nobody dreamed that just like that.

Outside a fresh wind was blowing in her hair. She looked at the moon, which shone in all its beauty.

“Oh, Celestia, oh Luna! What would you do in my place?” she asked aloud and though of the sisters who spent their time off in Silver Shoals.

“How may I assist you, Your Majesty?” asked the familiar voice of Luna close to her. The pony of the night stood directly in front of her and smiled.

“Prince…” Twilight held her breath. She was about to call Luna “Princess”, but she just remembered that she had taken this title off. “Luna?” Are you really there?” she gasped.

The former princess strolled past her and looked at the wide panorama of Canterlot. "The nights in Equestria are still peaceful as I remember; a fantastic view. I am an alicorn who can guide dreams, even if I no longer rule over this kingdom, but sometimes I wonder, how are you?”

Twilight had huge respect for her abilities. She still didn't know if she was dreaming or really awake. Sighing, she sat down. Luna seated next to her and listened. “Even though I’m in the lead and have friends in all corners of Equestria, today proved to me that not everyone likes me. Assassins are after me.”

Luna looked at her in silence while Twilight continued to lament, “How can this be? Why do they want to harm my friends and me? I am good to my subjects, aren’t I?”

Luna gently reached for her shoulder. “No one says that governing is easy. Indeed, like my sister and I, you will encounter beings you can’t please. But you have companions on your side and they will always support you, because they know your goodness.”

She stood up with open wings. Her long shadow cast by the moonlight. Twilight remained seated and remembered Starlight’s words in the throne room. It was not time yet for the council of friendship she called together once in a moon. But this was the best solution. Starlight and Luna were right. Tomorrow she would call her friends together and tell everyone what happened. She shouldn’t bury her head in the sand and wait for more attacks. “Thanks, Luna! And thank you for freeing me from this nightmare.”

“You’re welcome! Guarding the ponies dreams is still my duty, even if my sister meant, “Let Twilight make the decision.”

Twilight liked to hear that and spoke a little more calmly, “I can cope with everyday life, but the dream realm still causes me difficulties. Often I’m too exhausted and…”

She looked flushed in the direction of the sleeping chamber where Flash Sentry was snoring loudly. Luna grinned and looked at her eyes. “Well, well...”

Giggling, Twilight put her hoof over her head. She never thought that Luna was the first to know about her little affair. But she was good at keeping secrets. With a hint of anticipation in her voice, she said, “Let’s watch over the night together. I will show you. It’s actually quite simple.”

Luna closed her eyes. A cool wind let her sparkling mane rise like a curtain. While Twilight watched her in the moonlight, the world around her changed. Equestria glowed and magical northern lights stretched across the sky. This was the dream realm and below her she saw all the auras of sleeping ponies.

Even Starlight’s aura in the castle calmed down instantly from a nightmare. Luna began to sing.

Fear not this night. You will not go astray.

Though shadows fall, still the stars find their way.

And you can always be strong. Lift your voice with the first light of dawn.

Dawn's just a heartbeat away. Hope's just a sunrise away.

Twilight slept in her bed again. She was very grateful for the dream Luna had given her. She no longer felt alone and snuggled up to Flash, who answered to her tender embrace.

In the morning the rooster crowed, waking up Starlight. She immediately remembered her nightmare. Her hoof had strangled Twilight and there was nothing she could do about it. Her friends screamed and begged her to stop. Then the picture blurred and she had seen Luna. She sang to her, and it gave her new strength and courage.

From then on she could sleep well again. She smiled gratefully and finally stood up to look out the window into the early morning light. Twilight also seemed to be doing well, otherwise the sun would not be in the sky. Starlight stretched and her back cracked. Then she checked if she packed everything last night. The trip to the mountain would not take too long, but it would be a steep climb, so she had packed climbing gear. Since it could also be very windy and cold, she took a woolly hat and a purple scarf that Rarity had sewn for her as a birthday present. At the end it showed her cutie-mark as an embroidery pattern.

If it hadn't been a vacation trip, she would have taken her kite with her, a huge hobby. Flying kites in the mountains... She remembered this idea and wrote it down on a piece of paper. This she pinned to a cork board. Next to the memo she hung pictures of her friends, images from the past, in which Twilight was only the princess of a small castle. If she had known at that time that one day she would rule over Equestria... No, Starlight could never have imagined that.

With a new zest for action, she left the room to meet with the others in the hall. The clock was still on the table and showed the symbols. Sunburst also stood there ready to travel and studied the map. He held a compass in his hand and murmured around: “We have to take this path if we want to reach this symbol.”

Starlight took a closer look at the symbols one by one. Sunburst seemed to have changed something, because they were all scattered in different places. “Morning, what did you do, Sunburst? They are all lying all over the place!”

The stallion noticed her. “Oh! Good morning, Starlight! I’ve found something very interesting.”

He had sketched something on a notebook, a map of Equestria, on which he had drawn these symbols. He had been to the baker on the side. Starlight took a pretzel from the bag and listened to him. “I woke up a little earlier to have another look at the map. When I touched one of the symbols, it flew to another place, and each symbol shows us on the map where it should be. This clockwork is very old, and yet there is so much magic in it.”

Starlight looked across the table with fascination and found that some symbols were right at the edge of the card. Another one even seemed to go crazy and didn't know exactly where to move it. It was flickering and always changing position. ”What's wrong with this one?” Starlight asked in surprise.

Thoughtfully Sunburst stroked the tip of his beard. “I don't know. Maybe it’s disturbed by some magical entity.”

Starlight asked further to change the subject: “Where is Trixie? Is she up yet?”

He looked in the direction of the dormitories. “I think you need to check on her. She might be sleeping.”

Grumbling, Starlight went to Trixie's room. She opened the door and found her sleeping of course. Her head lay on the pillow at an angle, snoring like a saw blade. Her sleeping position itself was an artistic marvel. She had pressed her head on the mattress and her backside was sticking up. Just like one of those yoga positions, only in a less graceful form.

Starlight took a deep breath and stretched her neck. The she added some magic to her vocal chords and shouted, “RISE AND SHINE, SLEEPYHEAD!”

The magic amplified her voice as if she was speaking through a megaphone. A neat little trick she learned by Twilight.

Trixie jumped out of bed like a whipped rubber ball and stuck to the ceiling with a tousled mane. Starlight continued speaking normally and smiled at her from below: “Good morning! We'll be on our way, shan’t we?”

It was typical for Trixie to sleep so late and Starlight had told her several times to go to bed a little earlier. Perhaps she was a late riser by nature. At least Starlight saw she had packed. Her two saddlebags lay filled next to her work table. In her bag she saw a couple of plates and a large checked sheet. Starlight frowned. “This won’t be a picnic.”

Trixie recovered from the shock and landed back on her mattress so that her bed cracked. Then she straightened up and blew a strand of hair out of her face. "Why not?” she asked dazedly.

“It won’t be a long journey and Sunburst has already bought something for us. There's no need to carry any more stuff,” Starlight replied.

Trixie moaned and threw her head back. Then she replied in a similar voice, “I appreciate you pointing that out, but I’m sure we’ll need these supplies. I understand you are serious about your hoof. But when you travel, you never know what’s coming.”

She grinned, thinking that she had found a quick-witted argument. Starlight had enough and turned around. “Well, fine! Just pull yourself together! I hope you have some climbing gear with you. We’re climbing a mountain after all.”

After she had left the room, Trixie noticed she hadn’t packed that yet.

Starlight returned to Sunburst, who packed his notebook and handed her the pocket watch. "The mountain is only half a day's walk away, so we don't need any sleeping gear if we hurry. Once we find the symbol or whatever it is, we can trot back to Ponyville and see what comes next.”

Trixie dragged herself into the conference room with her two stuffed saddlebags. She was bathed in sweat.

Starlight couldn’t believe it. She took off her luggage and rummaged through her superfluous stuff. Then she opened the other bag, and two white doves flew out. Then she found a meter-long chain of tied up scarves of different colors. “Honestly, Trixie, did you pack your whole magic wagon?”

Her friend smiled embarrassed, “No, of course I only brought the bare essentials.”

Starlight blinked at her confusedly, "You think a rubber wand is necessary? She levitated the wiggly thing in front of her. Trixie smiled again but didn't seem so sure about this decision.

“Maybe we can enchant a few... hikers with a magic show along the way?”

Starlight threw the stick away and growled at her. Sunburst came along before a fight broke out. “We are losing time. It’s best if Trixie takes one bag with her that has the essentials. We can divide up the rest.”

Annoyed, Trixie threw a saddlebag on her seat in front of the place card. In her other backpack were washing things, a sleeping mat, something to drink and snacks, also climbing equipment. Nevertheless, there was a lot in it that had nothing to do with the trip, the ribbon from the colorful towels, a folding top hat and lots of smoke bombs. But the latter was not a bad idea, as Starlight thought.

After they were certain they had everything together, they set off. Trixie put on her cape and put on her pointed hat. Sunburst straightened his robe and Starlight tied the scarf around for the cool morning air. Together they left the castle.

The morning Ponyville was found to be completely empty. As agreed, they headed west on the road. They could already see the mountains, whose tops were surrounded by thick clouds.

As they passed the town hall, they saw Captain Tempest standing on a grandstand with the mayor of Ponyville. Many ponies stood in front of them and new spectators joined them. It became a big gathering. The ponies talked in disarray and Mayor Mare asked in vain for silence, “I beg you, ponies! Listen to the captain, there is no reason to panic!”

Many questions arose in the crowd, “Is the princess all right?” “Why is Luna back?” “Will Princess Twilight be back under her command?” “Is she sick?”

Tempest waited patiently until everypony calmed down. Then she spoke, “Twilight is fine. Luna has appeared to us all in a dream because our princess has some heavy work to do.”

The three friends joined the crowd. “What's going on here?” Starlight wanted to know.

A yellow mare named Golden Harvest recognized her. Starlight always bought fresh vegetables from her. “Starlight Glimmer! Everything alright? I heard you got hurt!”

Then she noticed her bandaged hoof and flinched as if she feared it was contagious. “Then it is true! Oh, my goodness!”

Starlight wanted to answer something, the next mare came along. She was a light yellow pony with a red mane. “What did the creature look like? Is it still there?”

She was surprised how these ponies knew that. Tempest spotted them and ran to her. The other ponies made way. “Glad you came. The townspeople are restless. Looks like, a rumor has spread.”

Trixie pulled her hat over her face to hide her red cheeks. Starlight looked at the other ponies. The village bordered on an eerie forest, and it happened from time to time that something crept out of this forest and frightened the villagers.

She made a decision and pushed her way through the crowd. The Ponies noticed that she wanted to say something and scattered away, so she has a free path to the podium. She saw familiar faces. Lyra Heartstrings and Sweetie Drops, the mail-pony Derpy Hooves who delivered the telegram and the mare who ran the jewelry store. But Rainbow Dash and Applejack were not present. They probably took care of the barn.

Starlight shouted, without a magic amplifier, “Listen up, ponies! I know that these rumors make uncomfortable, and I’ll be honest, they are all true! Yes, a wither pony injured me! But you can all relax! I have eliminated this monster! There is no more Danger! Furthermore, the princess trusts you! She had united the Elements of Harmony! She and her friends had saved Equestria several times, and WE ALL had put these three villains in their place! So stop doubting! Support the Princess of Friendship!”

The town hall square became silent. Starlight wasn’t finished with her speech yet, “It looks like dark clouds are approaching again, but now it is the time to prove that we are strong together through unity! Let us show the enemies, whoever may come, that they won’t have it easy on us!”

The crowd stared at her spellbound. Even Sunburst looked at his friend with glazed eyes. Tempest couldn't help but marvel, and she was even more amazed when the first pony stomped to the ground in applause. Then the entire herd began to trample, causing the place to shake.

Starlight tried to show some modesty and chuckled. “That’s the spirit!”

She climbed down from the pedestal and whipped her man back as if she had accomplished a work that could change the world. Mayor Mare approached her. “My goodness, I hope you don’t offer yourself as a candidate at the next election.” Then she quietly added, “Please, please don’t do it.”

Starlight had to smile about the idea; she could already make good speeches. “Don’t worry; I have something else to do. Your post is secure, for now, Mrs. Mayor,” she said jokingly. Then she strutted away, before the old mare wondered what “for now” could actually mean.

The crowd split up. Ponyville returned to everyday life. Tempest, Sunburst and Trixie ran to Starlight. The captain had to compliment her, “I’ll pass on to Twilight what you said. This will encourage her. I’m sure.”

“I just had to shake them up a little,” said Starlight and looked at the individual chatting pony groups.

Captain Tempest nodded in agreement, “Now I can start with why I’m here in the first place. Twilight has asked me to bring you a gift.”

For Starlight this was quite unexpected. “For us?”

“For you! It’s this crystal!” Tempest tapped on her breastplate and the pink crystal star fell out. The captain caught it and presented it to Starlight while she continued, “I can have a new one. It will be useful for you. You can use it to get in touch with Twilight.”

That was a good idea, Starlight thought. It wouldn’t be bad to know if the princess was safe.

“I envy you a little,” Tempest said gloomily.

“Why is that” asked Sunburst.

She sighed deeply and spoke, “I was also on a journey, after I had renounced the Storm King. I had spread the word the he had been defeated and in the meantime I made new friends. I traveled with them. It was wonderful, but now I am the captain of the royal guard. I would have loved to come along.”

“But isn’t it also an honor to stand at the side of Twilight Sparkle?” Starlight replied with a smile.

“Yes! It is!” Tempest saluted goodbye. “Good luck on your journey!” So the three ponies left the village. The mountain called for them.

Tempest watched hopefully after them. Then she made her way to Sweet Apple Acres.

At the farm, volunteers and soldiers helped the Apple family by cleaning the barn. The carcasses were lying in a pile outside. Ponies with nose clips scrubbed the blood from the walls.

Tempest looked at this heap in disgust, gathered by flies and other animals. A guard sprayed everything with disinfectant. The family was up early to remove the things as quickly as possible, because with all the carcasses, diseases also came and an epidemic would be very bad for the Apple family’s business.

Tempest walked over to the two friends who were scrubbing the inside walls of the barn. “How’s it going?” she asked Applejack, who wiped the blood with both hooves.

“As you can see, very slowly!” she said in a harsh tone. Tempest looked around and realized that the writings were still legible despite all the drudgery. The barn had to be repainted, that much was certain.

“I have come to say that Twilight calls you to the palace. There will be an emergency conference,” she proclaimed.

Applejack tossed the sponge into the water bucket, so that the blood-water mixture splashed in all directions. “Ya know, Twilight is our best friend and Ah like her a lot, no, we even love her. But what’s really bothering me right now is not some conference, but the dead pigs on ma farm!”

Tempest understood their problem. “Oh, don’t worry about...”

“Ah don’t think about anything. Ah wanna ask you a question. When ya came pulling in here, did ya notice a sign out in the front of ma barn that said “Dead Pigs Farm”?”

“Applejack, you know my guard ponies will help you…”

“Did ya notice a sign in the front of ma barn that said “Dead Pigs Farm”?”

“No, I didn’t,” Tempest replied with an expressionless face.

“Ya know why ya didn't see that sign?” Applejack asked.


“Cause it ain't there cause farming dead pigs ain't ma bucking business! That's why!” she shouted. Tempest tried to remain calm so as not to be infected by the earth pony’s anger.

“Applejack, we’re not going to store…”

“Don’t ya bucking realize that if Filthy Rich comes along and finds these dead bodies outside ma barn, will damage our reputation for a long time? Our apples will no longer be sold. We’ll be out of business, plain and simple. That means no more Zap Apple Jam; we lose our best customers and maybe even the whole property. Ya know what’s at stake here?”

Applejack sat down and wiped the sweat from her forehead. “I wanna help Twilight, but Ah don’t wanna risk our existence for this, okay?”

Rainbow Dash stopped scrubbing and touched her calmly with her wing. “Hey, AJ, we’ll find a solution…”

“DON’T BUCKING AJ ME, RAINBOW!” the farmer shrilled. Rainbow flinched. Applejack took a short breather. She noticed that she had yelled at Rainbow Dash in sheer anger.

“Ah’m sorry, sugarcube, but Ah don’t wanna hear about “AJ” right now while our whole life is on the short line. Granny is very sick, Big Mac is becoming a father and what it all caps, we don’t have any pigs as a fertilizer for our farm.”

Tempest walked silently towards the two ponies. Only the hectic scrubbing of the guards and volunteers filled the barn. “I see your situation and can really understand your anger. Even I feel compassionate because the bastard smeared this name on the wall in pig's blood. I may know someone who can help us.”

She called the sergeant to her, a well-built Pegasus stallion with white fur and blue mane. “Sergeant Hoofstrong, I need your crystal. I want to contact an old friend.”

The stallion followed the command and pressed the crystal on his armor. Tempest performed a simple spell that brought her the desired creature. Instead of a projection, she heard a soft male voice. The quality wasn’t very good.

“Huh? That thing glows?” the voice shouted in surprise.

“Capper, it’s me,” the captain said.

“Fizzy? Hoo, man! It’s been a long time. Whassup in Equestria?”

Tempest came straight to the point. “You’ve heard of a gang that makes dead things disappear?”

The voice remained silent for a moment. “Eeh, yes… The Vultures of Klugetown?” What happened, for the love of Celestia, did you just…”

“Listen, this should happen as quickly and unobtrusively as possible. Bring the guys in. There’s something on Sweet Apple Acres.”

“Yo, got it. Greet your pony friends for me.”

Thus, the conversation ended. Tempest glared at her sergeant. “And you mention nothing to the princess. We settled the matter without any problems.”

Hoofstrong saluted without a word. Everyone kept working and Tempest swept the floor.

The remains on the walls were still there, but they were all able to remove the worst of the dirt successfully. Applejack left the barn and was astonished to find the pile of carcasses had disappeared.

While they had spent five agonizing hours cleaning the barn, the aforementioned visitors had arrived. Some stallions of the guard must have been witnesses how these vultures had cleaned up there.

“Those guys were really fast,” said one guard.

“And efficient,” claimed another.

No matter how these guys did it, Applejack felt much better. Even though there was some blood on the floor, the problem was solved. “Tempest and her connections.”

The guards cleaned the remaining blood from the ground in which they dug up the earth. So it looked as if the Apples had a new field in planning. Filthy Rich wouldn’t care as long as he could trade with the Apples undisturbed.

“So,” Tempest finally said to the two friends, “Then would you be willing to come along?”

Rainbow Dash nodded decisively. Applejack came up to give her a moment, “Ah’m going to say goodbye to ma family real quick.”

She ran into the main house, which was also connected to the barn. She climbed the stairs to Granny Smith's room. She carefully opened the door and saw the green old mare lying in bed. Sugar Belle was sitting at her side.

Applejack's grandmother breathed heavily and loudly, her eyes seemed to be glued together. A damp cloth lay on her forehead to cool down the fever. She had been getting worse and worse for days and Applejack was beginning to worry that it was her time to go. Even though she knew that no one lived forever, this sight hurt her a lot. She took off her hat and pressed it firmly against her chest.

“Hey, Granny,” she said.

Her grandmother raised her head when she recognized her voice. “Applejack?”

“Ah will be away for a moment. Big Mac and Sugar Bell will take care of you,” she explained. She didn’t know why she always went up to say that. Probably because she feared it could happen at any moment. Granny Smith was in a kind of dawn sleep. Half-awake, half at rest, probably she didn’t know where she was anymore.

“Apple Bloom is there too,” Applejack said.

Granny Smith turned her head to the side. “All right, go ahead,” she said, and Applejack left the room again. Before she crossed the threshold her grandmother said, “But please, feed the pigs before you leave.”

“Sure, Granny,” she said and gritted her teeth as she walked down the stairs.

When she stepped out of the house again, she saw Filthy Rich, as she expected. He talked to Tempest, who explained everything was fine. Big Mac and Apple Bloom with the piglet in their hooves were also present. Applejack tried to put on a mask of false cheerfulness. Never before had this stallion been so unwanted. Only good that the vultures had removed everything in time.

“It has come to my attention there was an incident on the farm. I thought I’d take a look.” He blew his nose with a tissue, “It smells like you sprayed something.”

Applejack came running and answered with the most polite face she could put on, “Good afternoon, Mr. Rich! We’re fine, no problems here.”

At least here she could be honest. There were really no more difficulties. “And what are all these guards doing here?” asked Filthy Rich.

Applejack was never good at creating stories, nor was it in her element. But luckily Tempest answered for her, “A pest control, but Twilight took precautions and sent the best specialists.”

The guard ponies were pleased with this designation. Some stallions proudly hit each other on the hooves.

Filthy Rich raised his eyebrows with concern. “Pest control? I hope nothing has happened to my apple trees.”

Sometimes Applejack could slap him. His trees? She pulled herself together and replied, “These kinds of pests avoid those trees.”

Mr. Rich was satisfied with this answer and changed the subject. He drew a smile that only a business stallion could make, “Oh, that’s good to hear. Of course you have to protect the other trees, no question. How is Granny Smith, I haven’t seen the good old lady for a long time.”

Applejack sighed, “She is lying in the bed seriously ill. Until then I’m running the farm. She could really use some rest.”

Filthy Rich looked affected at the young mare and touched his chest. “Oh, that sounds terrible. I hope I can help your family with something.”

Applejack smiled thankfully, even though she wished he would finally disappear. “I appreciate that, be we don’t need any help right now.”

“Let me know if you need any. The Rich family will be there for you.” Then he looked at Apple Bloom and the little piglet in her hooves and stroked the animal. “Cute little piggy.”

So he left again and the Apple family, as well as Rainbow Dash and Tempest, could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

After the whole thing was finally settled, Applejack and Rainbow Dash prepared to leave for Canterlot. They washed at a faucet while Tempest waited. “The carriage is already standing at the town hall when you are ready. The soldiers will stay in Sweet Apple Acres and watch over, until we are sure everything is okay.”

Rainbow lifted her head out of the faucet’s water jet. Her wet mane formed a sweeping splash. “Why don’t we take the train or use your unicorn beam action?”

“Not everypony can do that,” told Hoofstrong, “While Twilight wanted every other guard to be able to teleport, most are not yet able to do so.”

Applejack and Rainbow Dash raised their eyebrows and looked at each other. They wondered why the princess was so eager for everyone to teleport. But in the end, there was nothing wrong with the guard being able to do more than just stand around grimly.

Applejack packed her things. A short hug from Apple Bloom and Big Mac was enough to give her new courage. Then she left the farm with Rainbow and Tempest. The two friends hoped they could Twilight somehow.

In the snow-covered mountains, far to the north of Equestria, the dark hooded figure wandered along the narrow path. Its shape appeared like a single shadow in the white nothing. No one could tell where his clothing began or ended. The stallion was like a ghost of dark smoke. His red eyes glowed through the mist. The deep snow and the beating wind did not bother him. Any other hiker would avoid this area. Up here, the weather was untamed. No Pegasus would be able to fly straight ahead without crashing into a mountain.

The stallion went over a rugged gorge. The crossing was held by two thin, rock pillars. They looked like they were about to collapse soon. The pony’s destination was a high mountain, on which a blue light was flickering.

Behind the bridge the rocks didn’t look uneven anymore, but smooth and solid. A wide stairway led to the blue light at the top of the mountain. There was a large bowl of oil in which the blue fire was blazing. The platform on which this bowl stood was surrounded by four columns.

The stallion climbed up these stairs without making any effort. He did not even pant. Right in front of the flame stood another stallion. He was also a unicorn, like the other one. He was much bigger and wore a black robe. But his hood was pulled back and showed his blue fur with black stripes, which reminded of a zebra. However, it wasn’t a zebra. His long, white mane blew lost in the wind and his green slit eyes looked gloomy into the flame.

When the other pony reached him, he spoke in a deep, rough voice without turning around, “You are late, Octavus!”

The grey stallion bowed to his leader. “Forgive me, master. Quintus hasn’t appeared, and the pony he abducted is no longer in his pocket dimension.”

The blue and black striped stallion turned up his nose. “That means he is dead. And Twilight Sparkle is probably still alive. I shouldn’t have sent him on that mission.”

Octavus grunted scowling at the failed mission. The big stallion turned to the side and looked at the mountains. “But he insisted. Twilight’s friends are obviously more powerful than he thought.”

“He was always a jerk,” grumbled Octavus.

“But he made a wither pony, didn’t he?” asked the tall pony and turned further to the stallion, who immediately replied, “Certainly, I saw it with my very own eyes.”

“Did it mark someone?” the big stallion asked further.

“Hmm… I don’t know, but from the looks of it, probably not. Or maybe someone not closely connected with Twilight.”

His leader raised his head to give a new order. “This is what you have to find out. Find the marked one and bring him to me. He or she will surely leave traces. If there are none, create a new wither pony and finish it!”

Octavus bowed. “Yes, Primus!”

The leader turned around again und looked into the flame. He called for further orders. “I will also tell Secunda what happened and I will put Quartus and Septimus on one of Twilight’s friends. According to your reports, there are two of them in Ponyville.”

Octavus nodded and replied. “Very well, after dawn follows darkness, Primus!”

“After dawn follows darkness, Octavus,” he said, staring further into the blue flame, in close contact with his accomplices.

Author's Note:

"Fear Not This Night" was composed by Jeremy Soule and sung by Asya Kadric.
The soundtrack is an official part from the video game "Guild Wars 2".