• Published 7th Aug 2020
  • 856 Views, 63 Comments

Scarlet: Broken Pedestal - Skijarama



Princess Twilight Sparkle has returned to a world that has gone without her for over four hundred years. With the aid of Scarlet Frost, she and her friends set out into the world, heedless of the changes, good and bad, their return has put in motion.

  • ...
7
 63
 856

Spectator

Author's Note:

THIS STORY HAS BEEN CANCELED.

Click here to learn why.

This night is proving to be a wearisome affair, Nocturn mused as he stared down into the verdant mountain valley. His leathery wings twitched at his sides in irritation as he perused the sight of the great fires that burned near its center, swallowing a large and impressive orchard and reducing much of it to little more than blood-stained ash.

“This shouldn’t have happened…” he growled under his breath, resisting the urge to kick a stray stone by his hooves. He kept a firm hold on his composure, however. One in his position could never afford to lose focus. The still-burning welt on the side of his temple where he had been struck several times by a stone from some nights prior was evidence enough of that.

From within the roiling flames, a flash of purple light suddenly erupted, causing the inferno to billow out like a tattered dress under an intense updraft. Trees that were unfortunate enough to be nearby toppled and Nocturn’s keen thestral ears could just make out the thunderous clap of the explosion, along with the tell-tale crack and rumble of falling lumber. He could just barely see a figure, blue and red, flying back from the blast, ablaze, and leaving a trail of smoke in its wake.

Scarlet Frost.

Nocturn’s brow furrowed. He had been watching her fight for a while now; watching as she resorted to ever more desperate and even self-destructive tactics against her sole enemy, who had yet matched her blow-for-blow, keeping her on the defensive. Nocturn’s eyes returned to the inferno and the great pillar of smoke left in the wake of Scarlet’s spell, looking for any sign of her adversary.

There was movement, and the pegasus revealed himself: burned, battered, but still ready to fight. Nocturn watched Silent Edge fly down from the smoke, only for Scarlet to hurl something at him, striking him in the face and sending him falling to the ground in a rolling heap. Nocturn winced. He had to imagine that hurt.

Silent rose to his hooves, facing Scarlet down. Neither of them moved, however. Nocturn figured they must have been taking a moment to catch their breaths, size each other up, and maybe even exchange words. They had been friends, once upon a time, after all…

The lull in the action afforded Nocturn a chance to reflect on all that had happened leading up to this point; he looked down, his ears drooping as a small part of him recoiled with shame and disgust at his own role in the tragedies of the last twenty-four hours. If he had known that Silent would be so brazen and insane as to hire a small army of mercenaries just to get at the filly…

“...I should have acted sooner,” Nocturn mumbled, returning his gaze to the fight as the two combatants lunged for one another again. “I never should have allowed it to come to this…”

“Sir…” a voice asked from behind him, drawing his attention. Nocturn turned to see a squad of four Nightblades standing behind him, waiting patiently, though for what they did not know. One of them, a female unicorn, had stepped forward to speak with him. “With all due respect, if you believe you should have acted sooner, then what is it holding you in place now? Should we not make our move now, while the traitor is alone?”

Nocturn stared down the unicorn, narrowing his eyes with scrutiny. She quickly backed away like a frightened puppy, her ears folding back. Satisfied, Nocturn turned back to observe the battle unfolding below. “...Scarlet Frost wages battle with Silent Edge,” he stated matter-of-factly. “She is a wanted criminal, while Silent Edge is, as you said, a traitor. We are holding back so that they may destroy each other. When they are done, only one will stand, and that shall be the one we dispose of. We are allowing them to do part of our job for us.”

“But, sir, the longer we wait, the longer those griffons will be running loose,” the unicorn tried, though her words carried far less strength than before. “Should we not do something?”

“You were there as well as I was when that feral swarm attacked Scarlet and her comrades,” Nocturn pointed out simply. “And you know as well as I how effortlessly ‘Hraesvalgr’ was able to dispose of the lot of them. The griffons are a problem, yes, but against the combined might of the First Dragon Sentinel, and an Alicorn besides, they will be little more than bothersome gnats on the wall.”

“And the changelings?”

That gave Nocturn pause. He looked down, his brow furrowing in thought as he recalled how Silent had led the band of griffon mercenaries to attack this secluded valley and its many hidden inhabitants. He had been able to hear the screaming of the drones that had been tending the fields with unsettling clarity. It was as if he had been back on the front lines of the war all over again…

He shook his head a moment later. “Our sole objective is the elimination of Silent Edge. Anything else we do is to be in service to this objective,” he said reluctantly. “Even were it within our orders to aid them, how would we? Skilled as we are, we are but five, and the griffons are many. Our direct interference would only complicate the situation in unwanted ways. Besides, the Lunar Council will wish to know of the existence of this ‘Sanctuary,’ what the Lamp means to it, and its divine leadership. I will not act on something so important without their guidance. We hold back.”

“...Yes, sir,” the mare finally relented, withdrawing into the shadows. Nocturn grunted in response before falling silent, keeping his gaze fixed on the battle. It was becoming apparent that Scarlet was on the losing end of the fight, now. She was on the defensive, forced into a perpetual retreat, while Silent was still going strong. Nocturn predicted she would not last much longer.

A prediction that was proven correct when Scarlet’s magically manifested swords were dispersed after one last clash against Silent’s single remaining wingblade. He struck her down, and that was the end of it. Scarlet was defeated. Nocturn hummed, watching as Silent reared back, preparing to thrust his blade down into the fallen unicorn.

“Rest in peace, Scarlet Frost,” Nocturn thought. “For all your wrongdoings, I do not believe you a villain.”

“Silent! STOP!”

“What?”

Nocturn’s eyes darted to the mouth of the cave, his ears twitching as they only just picked up the sound of a familiar filly’s voice screaming at the top of her lungs. Primrose, a small, earth pony unicorn—and secretly a changeling—came galloping at Silent and Scarlet, throwing a dagger at the former with her magic.

Nocturn’s nostrils flared as he took in a sharp breath. “This just became more complicated,” he thought. He had been primed and ready to give the order to move in and take Silent down, but doing so now would make this delicate situation even more troublesome.

Primrose was joined by another pony: a grown unicorn stallion. Sharp Lens. In his sky-blue magic was clutched a curved sword of griffon design, plucked from the fallen body of one of Silent’s hired sellswords, no doubt. He charged at Silent with a series of swings, battling the injured pegasus back before withdrawing to stand protectively in front of Primrose and Scarlet.

Nocturn strained his ears, but he could not make out their words. They talked back and forth for a short time, with Silent visibly appearing hesitant. Then, however, the pegasus lunged forward, batting Lens aside and charging for Primrose. It was now that Nocturn began to hear them; Primrose screaming in terror as she backpedaled away, Scarlet crying out in desperation for Silent to stop. His wings flared, and he opened his mouth to give the order to move in.

“NO!”

Scarlet suddenly vanished from her place on the ground in a flash of light. When she emerged, she stood protectively over Primrose, just in time for Silent’s blade to plunge into her back. Nocturn winced. He could not hear it from here, but he could imagine it.

A deathly chill fell over the mountains, and somewhere in the distance, thunder rumbled in the clouds. Nocturn watched Silent withdraw his blade, and Scarlet fell to the ground, seemingly lifeless. Nocturn slowly folded his wings up at his sides. “...And so it is done,” he whispered. He glanced back at the others, opening his mouth to speak.

He stopped when he heard Primrose crying.

He paused, his brow furrowing as the unfamiliar sound invaded his mind. He turned and looked down, watching the scene continue. Lens battled Silent back once again, using his magic to form a sky-blue barrier to keep the former Nightblade at bay. He then charged back to Scarlet and hovered over her, both himself and Primrose working to do something with the body. “Save it, perhaps?” Maybe Scarlet was somehow still alive, in spite of her injuries.

Nocturn’s gaze fell, his wings folding back up at his sides. Now more than ever, he knew he should have acted sooner rather than later. Primrose may have been a changeling and potential threat, but she was still just a child. It did not take a genius to see that in Scarlet, she had found a new mother to look after and love her after her untimely separation from Sclera.

“No child should be made to grieve like this… So young.”

And then, something unexpected happened. Primrose’s cries went silent. A chill ran down Nocturn’s spine, and his eyes snapped back to the scene. Primrose had just stepped out of the barrier, ignoring Lens’ shouted protests. For a moment, she just talked with Silent, the pegasus flaring out his wings in preparation to cut her down.

Then, Primrose changed.

Nocturn’s eyes widened as Primrose was consumed in a rapidly-expanding swirl of green flames. When they parted, a giant, ice-blue scorpion emerged. Nocturn’s stomach churned in shock as the monster lunged for Silent, giving him no chance to evade or fight back. The otherwise silent air became filled with agonized screams and the audible tearing of flesh and snapping of bone. He could hear his subordinates shuffling uncomfortably behind him. They recognized Silent’s voice. They had all known him at some point.

To hear him begging for his life like this...

Soon, it was over. Silent was torn to pieces by the scorpion, his dismembered remains painting the earth in a macabre work of art. The scorpion then returned to being Primrose and sluggishly dragged herself back to Scarlet’s side as Lens dropped the barrier. They knelt over the body, and their grieving cries tickled his ears.

“...They have suffered enough...” Nocturn decided, turning back to his comrades. “Withdraw, all of you. We make our return to Newcanter come the morrow. The Councils must hear of this.”

“But, sir-”

“I will hear no protests,” Nocturn shot down immediately. “Find a secluded place and get some rest. You will all need your strength for the journey back to Newcanter, and one of you will be remaining behind to keep tabs on matters here. I will be along shortly. I would watch them for a while longer.”

His subordinates glanced uneasily amongst themselves before turning and making their exit, soon vanishing from sight. Nocturn waited to ensure they had all gone before he returned his attention to the valley. The alicorn he recalled seeing before—none other than Flurry Heart, one of the Five, if he had to guess—had emerged from the cave. She was speaking with Lens and Primrose now.

Minutes passed. Eventually, Nocturn began to think it was time to return to his troops. As he was about to take his leave, he noticed the alicorn’s horn light up with magic, as did Lens’ horn and Primrose’s eyes. Nocturn watched curiously as streams of magic flowed into Flurry’s horn, growing in brightness to the point it was almost blinding.

“What are you up to…?” he wondered to himself.

Suddenly, Flurry lowered her head and directed a pulse of magic into Scarlet’s broken body, filling the air with a bassy hum and another wave of golden light. Nocturn squinted against that blinding radiance, trying to make out just what they were doing.

Slowly, the glow died down. The trio of standing ponies went into a flurry of motion, lifting Scarlet up and bearing her swiftly into the cave. If the frantic nature of their movements was anything to go off of, she was alive, and they meant to save her.

They vanished into the cave, and the valley fell silent. Nocturn gave a quiet hum, his wings shifting on his back. “...I see,” he mumbled before turning around. “So, it truly is Flurry Heart then… Who else but a goddess among ponies could hope to save somepony as broken as her?”

He flared out his wings and took to the skies, slit pupils scanning the world below for his comrades. He found them soon enough and made his descent. “I do hope you survive, Scarlet Frost. I have the feeling there will be need of you in the days to come…”

With that sentiment, Nocturn vanished from sight into the darkness of the night, even as the clouds overhead parted, allowing the moon to cast its pale glow upon the land.