• Published 8th Sep 2012
  • 2,990 Views, 343 Comments

Starlit Knights - BlackRoseRaven

Darkness has come to Equestria, and the world is threatened with destruction. Can Luna stop it?

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The Brave New World

Chapter One: The Brave New World

The Nibelung gasped, running as quickly down the short corridor as fast as its squat little legs could carry it, greasy black fur that covered its thick frame almost glimmering beneath the light cast from the hanging lanterns above. It wheezed heavily with almost every step as it sprinted forwards, but there was terror in its beady black eyes as it shot towards a heavy iron door, fear lending it haste.

It rammed into this with its shoulder, knocking it open with a gasp and staggering out onto a high landing, almost dropping the large, nasty-looking crescent-headed axe it clutched in one black-furred hand as it leaned over the short railing – but being only a few feet high, it had to stand on the toes of its ugly, hoof-toed paws, screaming down at two other, almost-identical creatures at the bottom of the large, rectangular room: “Ponies come! Ponies are come!”

The two fellow Nibelung stared up at their companion, nonplussed, confusion on the faces that were three-quarters wolf and one-quarter pig with their scrunched, wrinkled muzzles and large tusks. Then the two dwarf-creatures traded a look and laughed loudly, the simple steel armor they both wore over their bodies clanking as one of them leaned forwards and the other beat his own war axe against his chest, replying in its high-pitched and amused voice: “Ponies come? We wanted ponies come, remember? We set up trap!”

And with that, the Nibelung gestured towards where a Pegasus filly was bound and gagged, her limbs tightly tied together and her wings bound against her body, large red eyes looking back and forth with terror, her scarlet, fluffed-out mane and tail falling over her own battered, gray-white body. Tears of terror leaked down her face as she shivered on the cold cement floor against the back wall, and the Nibelung grinned at her before he returned his gaze to the creature at the top of the stairs, pointing at him with his war axe as he shouted: “Ponies come to us, we catch more ponies for leader-boss! We use Steely to make sure!”

The wolf-creature gestured behind them, at the silent, metallic giant that stood half-cloaked in shadow, made out of thick, rusting metallic plates. It stood on two squat legs, with a wide, wide body and gorilla like arms ending in clobbering fists with thick digits and bulging knuckles, and its head was tiny and topped with a pyramid-like cap, eyes made from faintly-shimmering crystals gleaming in its sockets and wide jaw curved and protruding. The Nibelung on the ground both giggled as they looked gleefully at this gargantuan golem, the other one holding up a rectangular controller of some kind. “Steely help us catch stupid ponies good! Fancy-corns help us lots by giving us Steely! You big coward if you think-”

And then there was a tremendous boom from upstairs, and the two Nibelung stared upwards stupidly as the dwarf-wolf at the top of the stairs spun around, then dropped its axe with a squeak, raising its hands in a gesture of surrender… and a moment later, something smashed into it and sent it rocketing through the air with a screech to smack loudly into the wall across the room, before it fell the thirty or so feet to the ground, landing in a pile of filthy rags and hay the creatures used as bedding with a puff of dust.

A moment later, a tall female pony leapt down to the ground from the platform, landing with a grin on all fours as her midnight-cyan eyes all but glowed out of her skull, a mane and tail made of ethereal starlight flicking backwards as she leaned forwards and pawed a hoof against the ground, her tall horn glowing with blue light, making her look all the more gleeful and intimidating at once as her dark-sapphire coat all-but-shimmered. “Hast none of thee ever heard ‘tis but a bully’s act to pick upon a child half thy size? It seems I must teach thee all a lesson in manners!”

The pony flexed her strong, tall frame, her wings spreading for a moment as she readied herself and her hooves anchored against the ground, mane and tail streaming back as if both possessed a life of their own. The ivy necklace around her neck swayed lightly, the single black pearl that dangled from this glinting, almost mesmerizing: upon it was engraved a black rose, and the two gaping Nibelung stared at this, then at the cutie mark on her flank, a large splotch of the black night sky with a glowing white crescent moon in it… before they both simply screeched as the winged unicorn shot suddenly forwards, one half-raising his axe before the female sliced her horn across his chest, his armor tearing as he was sent almost comically flailing through the air before the pony pounced on the second wolf-dwarf, crushing him to the ground and sending the remote flying from his hands as he gargled.

The gemstones in the golem’s eyes glowed all the same, beginning to move… but behind the winged unicorn, a second pony leapt down from the landing above and broke immediately into a sprint, and the female didn’t even have to look back over her shoulder as she arched her body, forming a ramp as her eyes glittered with strange joy. His hooves charged up her back, and yet she barely felt it all the same as the charcoal-colored male leapt forwards… and with a flick of her head upwards as the male leapt past her in a blur, the winged unicorn added a powerful telekinetic shove to his body, guiding him like a missile towards his target.

He half-flipped towards the golem, slamming both hind legs outwards as his body glowed faintly blue with the female’s added push, making his messy white mane and tail shimmer all the brighter… and then his hooves smashed savagely into the metallic monster and the male simply tore through it like a bullet, grunting as chunks of metal and crystal flew around him in a hail of shrapnel and debris as the golem collapsed backwards, head tearing from its shoulders and bouncing along the ground as the earth pony slammed all fours into the wall behind the creature… then arched his back as he shoved off, flipping gracefully to land on his hooves, and grinning in pleased surprise when he landed successfully as the female shouted cheerfully: “Well done, Scrivener Blooms!”

Then she paused before raising a hoof, and the Nibelung still pinned beneath her squeaked before she slammed it into his head and knocked him unconscious before leaping off and charging towards the dwarf that still clutched his battle axe, slowly picking himself up and rubbing at one of his tusks with a whimper before he winced as the winged unicorn shot towards him, raising his weapon with a yell… and then simply standing, frozen and terrified, as the female skidded to a halt in front of him, the wolf breathing hard as the pony glared at him, challenging him to attack.

Then, moving slowly, she rose a hoof as he continued to stand petrified with his axe above his head… and then simply punched the wolf-pig in the nose, knocking him back on his butt and making him squeal as he dropped his axe to clutch at his face, eyes watering as the male sighed and headed over to the tied up filly, carefully beginning to undo the ropes as she gazed up at him with both humiliation and relief. “Luna, people skills, remember?”

“Oh, shut up.” Luna retorted, and then she grinned down at the Nibelung as he looked back and forth in terror through the room: both his friends lay in dazed heaps, and the golem had been torn to shattered pieces… and slowly, he shrank back as the pony licked her lips slowly. “I have always wondered, so pray indulge me, little one. How much of thee is pig? For I have a friend who would very much be delighted to gobble down some rinds of pork.”

“Please don’t hurt me!” The Nibelung scuttled backwards, but Luna only grinned brightly as she chased after it almost playfully, even as behind her, the male pony rolled his eyes. “I tell you anything, anything! Was… was harmless prank!”

“Harmless, right.” Scrivener muttered, yanking the last of the ropes free from the filly… and then the foal leapt up and hugged him fiercely, and he embraced her quietly back, half-curling around her as his mane floated strangely around his features; far from handsome or glamorous, almost half of his face was covered by a hoof-shaped, ugly scar, but his chestnut eyes shone with gentleness as the little filly looked up at him, trembling, eyes overbright. “Are you okay, Scarlet Sage?”

She nodded a few times, then buried her face against his chest, whimpering a little. “I am, Uncle Scrivy. I’m… I’m real sorry.”

“Oh, ‘tis fine, child, worry not. Thou art okay, and ‘tis what is truly important…” Luna smiled over her shoulder to the young Pegasus, then she glared back towards the dwarf when it tried to slink away, adding menacingly: “But Nibelung, were I thee, I would quickly confess to what possessed thee to think ‘twould be a good idea to kidnap a young filly, especially when ‘tis the filly I look upon as mine own daughter.”

The wolf-pig paled slowly at this, grinning weakly and raising a finger… and then when Luna growled at him, he squeaked and cowered backwards, covering his head and rambling: “Fancy-corns tell us to do it! Please no hurt me flying fancy-corn, I… we run away back to Niflheim! Oh please, please no beat us anymore! We had to do it, fancy-corns made us!”

Luna looked meditative at this… and then Scrivener walked up beside her and nudged her firmly, making her mutter under her breath before she smiled a little when Scarlet Sage quietly pressed against her. The sapphire mare sat back and protectively wrapped a foreleg around the filly as she kissed her forehead softly, while Scrivy asked quietly: “The unicorns… they wore symbols, didn’t they, of the solar eclipse?”

The Nibelung nodded rapidly… and Luna half-glowered at Scrivy as she nudged him firmly with her shoulder, muttering: “I think sometimes that thine emblem represents thy lack of fun, Scrivener Blooms.”

“Oh, hush.” The earth pony smiled despite himself as he glanced back at the symbol on his flank, of a raven quill over a black rose blossom. “You’re just jealous because yours covers your entire butt.”

“Speak not of my butt at this juncture, Scrivy, ‘twill be time enough for thou to admire it later.” Luna retorted, tilting her head upwards imperiously, and Scrivener laughed despite himself before she returned her own gaze to the Nibelung before it could attempt to slink away, leaning down as her cyan irises glowed. “I have one final question for thee, dwarf. From whence did thee and thy kind pass into this world? The Black Baroque or one of the deep tunnels that are thought to lead not just into the bowels of Equestria, but all the way to Helheim itself?”

“The Black Baroque, the Black Baroque!” squeaked the creature, shivering and quickly curling itself backwards. “But we’ll… we flee back to the tunnels this very day, I promise! We’ll dig our way all the way back to Niflheim, if you wishes us to, we promise you fancy-corn!”

“Good. And goodnight, dwarf-creature.” Luna said comfortably, and then her horn glowed as her eyes gave a flash, and the wolf-pig blinked stupidly at her before its eyes rolled up in its head and it collapsed in an unconscious heap, beginning to snore loudly as Luna looked meditatively over at Scrivener Blooms. “I think, mine husband, thou has made me soft. After all, part of me says we should make bacon from these creatures, but I also no longer see fault in letting these fools live.”

“Now, now, Luna, we all know you had a heart to begin with. There’s no need to pretend you’re more bloodthirsty than you already are.” Scrivy chastened gently, and Luna huffed at him before she smiled a little when he leaned over and kissed her cheek quietly, her ephemeral night-sky mane brushing softly against his features before he gazed down at Scarlet Sage, saying quietly: “Let’s get out of here, though, before any more of these dwarves show up. I really want to get home and put my hooves up and relax. I’m only glad they were just thugs, not raiders.”

“Verily. To Ponyville first, and then into the Everfree Forest, then.” Luna agreed, and she smiled softly down at the filly before returning her eyes to her husband, adding softly: “To home.”

Ten long months have passed since a beautiful wedding that was interrupted by an attack from evil things thought long-defeated… ten long months have passed since a boisterous, loudmouthed unicorn proved to shocked eyes not only her value, but that beneath her obnoxious exterior, there had been the heart of a noble heroine after all; a statue of Trixie the Brave now stood in the middle of Ponyville, commemorating her heroism… and her sacrifice.

Equestria has grown darker and more dangerous: chaos expands and order declines in every area of the country, but more than that, things have begun to stir that were thought dead and gone, the slumber of awful creatures has been disturbed, and ponies find themselves in a world they were not wholly prepared to live in. A world so different from the Equestria that Princess Celestia had struggled to build and maintain, no longer peaceful, but more and more becoming warlike, becoming wild.

Many ponies blame Nightmare Moon, still obsessed with the story of years ago now, the lies that Twilight, Celestia, and Luna herself were forced to spread to save Celestia’s honor and dignity in the face of her subjects. Few know the truth, that it was Nightmare Moon who saved Equestria from being destroyed and ‘purified’ and burned… but now other rumors are spreading about a great conspiracy, and hopes that Princess Luna does still live, somewhere.

And Luna does: deep in the Everfree Forest, living as an exile with her husband, Scrivener Blooms… living the life of the self-sufficient warrior with perhaps a few dashes of hedonism and mischief, teaching the once-quiet writer her ways, training him in the old arts she once lived by. Often in these dark times, however, she ventures through the Forest that has long accepted her and Scrivy as just another of its many residents, and walks fearlessly through Ponyville, where they do not revile her as Nightmare Moon or treat her with fear… but look instead to her as a heroine, and even a savior.

Ponyville has changed: more and more, the village and the surrounding area is being fortified with both old magic and high walls, and its ponies are being trained by Luna and others to survive the ever-rising threat of darkness that grows with every day, spreading more of its pall throughout the land, giving rise to Nightmares and Phookas and other monsters and creatures that had vanished for a millennia and more, leaving ponies living in complacency and silence, convinced that all the old mares’ tales had been nothing more than lies. That there were no such things as demons or monsters, that apart from dragons the worst beasts that lived in the wild were merely dull animals like hydras and manticores, that ghost stories were nothing more than legend and myth.

Not that things were without peace or good, though… and not that it was hopeless. Ponyville, Canterlot, and many other places were becoming beacons of light in the worst of the darkness, and Princess Celestia was hesitantly and slowly reintroducing the old ways that she and Luna had once lived by, in the dark, dark days a thousand years ago, with their brother Sleipnir by their side. Celestia craved order, justice, peace, and harmony… but had finally realized that in hiding the truths of the past, she had left her nation all but defenseless, giving them many years where they lived in childlike joy… but never preparing them for what might one day rear its ugly head, and like innocent, sheltered children thrusted out into the savage slums of the world, all too many of her subjects were now being manipulated, intimidated, and torn into by the darkness that was rising from the depths of the earth.

Luna was glad for it… glad for many things, in fact, and in a strange way, perhaps even glad for the way the world was turning. She was no quiet princess, and unlike Celestia, she did not wish to rule over subjects, standing tall and proud and in a way, apart… she wished to walk amongst them, be part of their games and lives, to sing rustily along with rowdy voices in dark taverns and to fight on the battlefield, protecting the innocent, willing to throw herself, grinning, against any and every adversary that came along. She wanted to chase lusts and pleasures and desires and urges, she wanted to live by her own rules, not caring about social norms or what other ponies thought about her, cheerfully indulging in mischief and pleasure and bringing her husband and best friend, Scrivener Blooms, along with her on all her schemes and misadventures.

And Scrivy was all too glad – at least most of the time – to chase after Luna and to run beside her, to let her follow her dreams and even her weirdest wants and ideas. He loved her more than anything in the world, and he knew she loved him… so much, in fact, that she had shared not just her vital essence, her life-force with him, making him stronger, faster, more resilient, and extending his lifespan while shortening her own… when Scrivener had lain, dying, pierced to the heart… she had mixed their very souls together to keep him alive. It had almost ended with them both dead… but together, they had survived, and only grown stronger for it.

Now they could even hear one another’s thoughts, could feel one another’s emotions all the clearer, could tap into one another’s abilities and strengths. Luna enjoyed using it as an excuse to force Scrivy along on her escapades pursuing things he might have been hesitant at otherwise… but he knew, he felt in their mixed souls, the sanctity with which she treated their marriage and moreover, their love, all the same.

They had grown together, become better ponies, stronger for their experiences: Scrivy still didn’t see himself as a warrior, but with Luna’s rough training and the way she had passed much of herself on to him, he had grown much stronger than the average earth pony… and combined with his odd natural resilience to magic, he certainly felt like a little more than the court poet he had once been. But what made him happiest was the pride he sometimes felt from Luna, when he was trying his hardest… and while he was nowhere near her level, she treated him sometimes like he was the hero of the couple, not her.

At this moment in time, however, Scrivener was humming to himself as he sat in their beautiful little cottage: situated past a burbling creek in a small field in the Everfree Forest, it was made of heavy, dark logs, and sat in the shaded comfort of a tall cliff that stretched towards the sky, above the enormous treetops of the Everfree Forest. They only had a few rooms, but they didn’t need much when they had all the space the Forest could offer for everything else: their bedroom, their den, their kitchen was all they ever really used and needed.

Scrivener was sitting in the den, his back to the room as he worked quietly at a desk, quill in one hoof as he quickly wrote over sheets of parchment. A tall stack of papers rested next to him on top of several old books, and an inkwell was on his other side as the sapphire feather gleamed with dark radiance, enchanted long ago by Luna so it would never break, taken from her own wing and treasured by the male.

Behind him, the den was a zone of resplendent comfort: large, soft plush circular bedding sat in front of the wide fireplace, and pillows and cushions rested around the room. Several paintings rested over the walls, including one of Scrivener Blooms running through a shadowy forest hung above the mantle: the art was a little smudged, a little messy, but to him, it was the most beautiful, meaningful painting they had, because Luna had done it for him, and all by hoof instead of using her powers.

Luna herself was sprawled in front of the fireplace, looking bored as she gazed at the everlasting, warm blue flames that quietly crackled along the heavy, mostly-for-show logs resting inside, one hoof absently stroking the back of their pet, Samael. The creature chirped quietly, a small pseudodragon… or at least it once had been. Now it was an ivory skeleton, yet adorable in a strange way all the same, from the blue flames that glowed softly in its eyes to the mace-like tip of its bony tail, the lizard-sized undead beast’s small, useless wings flapping once before furling back against its body as it snuggled lazily down against the bedding.

Then the winged unicorn looked up moodily over her shoulder at the male as he began to mumble to himself, before she slowly rolled onto her side with a grumble and pushed herself firmly over the bedding with her limbs until she was facing him, as Scrivy said musingly: “No, no, that’s not the right way to describe it… I need a better word… and I should change this around too. What would… yes, that would do it.”

The male frowned a bit, tapping his quill against the side of the page before his eyes widened slightly, and then he grinned a bit, rapidly beginning to write again as he said to himself, not seeming aware that he was actually speaking or that Luna was slowly slinking closer: “Yes, yes, that’s it! Slow it down, move the pace, make them smile… then dash it all way in their faces! Yes… now, word, word, give me a word for bad…” He paused, then said in a brighter voice, leaning back and resting his front hooves on the desk: “Maliciousness! Maliciousness…”

He slowly sounded the word out a third time, drawing it out and then adding with odd cheer: “Or fallacious! Even better, yes, yes, really build it up then-”

Luna leaned in, now standing beside him, and Scrivener’s face twisted in shock as she firmly licked up the side of his neck all the way to his mane, the male freezing with his hooves outstretched, a trail of saliva now shimmering lightly on his cheek as she said loudly in his ear: “I am bored, Scrivener Blooms.”

“Luna, you were the one who wanted me to get this transcribed today.” Scrivy said flatly, looking over at her moodily as he rubbed a hoof at the side of his face to wipe away the trail of wetness, and Luna favored him with a pout. “I… we rescued Scarlet Sage, we saw her back to Ponyville, we visited with Twilight and Fluttershy, and then we trained for like two hours after a walk through the Everfree Forest. It’s been seriously like-”

“’Tis been more than an hour, Scrivener Blooms, and while it was nice to laze for a short time, now I am bored and require thy attentions.” Luna said clearly, and then she grinned and half-lidded her eyes at him, making him wince back as she leaned in to press their noses together. “Be either very good or very bad, Scrivener Blooms, and I shall attend to thee in other ways as well.”

“Luna…” Scrivy began… and when she simply glared at him, he sighed and muttered, dropping his head forwards: “Alright, alright. Let me just finish this first chapter at least then, then… I’ll entertain you. It’ll only take me… twenty, thirty minutes, maybe.”

“Twenty minutes, ridiculous! And what shall I do for such an accursed long time?” Luna asked flatly, and Scrivener grumbled under his breath before he flailed at her childishly, and she shoved back at him with a huff. “Pardon me for wanting to do things with my husband.”

“Well. Go paint or sketch or something.” Scrivy gestured towards the easel that sat across the room, resting against one wall with a large pad of paper and her artist’s kit beside it as he said mildly: “We can’t always be out killing things or beating them up, dearest. Nor can we always be in the bedroom.”

Luna just favored him with a sour look at this, and then she paused meditatively when Scrivy turned back to his work before she grinned to herself, glancing towards her art supplies… and a large jar of white paint and a brush floated slowly over to her, the former popping quietly open before she caught the latter, keeping the jar afloat with telekinesis as she muttered: “Very well, Scrivener Blooms, I shall paint.”

With that, she dipped the brush into the jar, then began to paint across Scrivy’s back, the male not seeming to notice at first even as he frowned a little at the odd sensation traveling over his spine, quill writing along the parchment as he ignored Luna’s occasional giggles… and then it slowly dawned on him what was happening, and he carefully put his quill down, not turning around as Luna hummed and grinned widely to herself, her brush continuing to stroke quickly and effortlessly along the male’s broad back as he asked slowly: “Luna. Are you doing what I think you’re doing?”

“Well, my beloved husband, I know not what thou suspects me of doing.” Luna replied in a saccharine voice, the image of her husband’s scowling face forming quickly across his back, almost a perfect match for the sour look currently on his features as he continued to look moodily ahead at the wall past his desk. “I assure thee, ‘tis certainly not anything tawdry.”

“Oh, really?” Scrivy glanced over his shoulder at her, and she looked up at him innocently… then laughed when Scrivy threw himself at her, tackling her back to the floor, the brush and paint both going flying as they wrestled and rolled back and forth, leaving smears of white paint across the ground.

Then Scrivener burst into laughter himself, even as Luna threw him firmly backwards and sent him crashing onto his back before she leapt on top of him and pinned him, grinning down at him widely as he smiled back despite his best efforts not to, their eyes locking as he said softly: “One of these days, Luna, I’m actually going to manage to be mad at you for more than five minutes.”

“Thou, mad at me? Why, thou art the one destroying my artwork and who has gone and spread paint all over the floor.” Luna replied seriously, and Scrivener snorted in amusement before he shoved his hooves upwards and knocked her back onto her haunches, then dived forwards and pounced on top of her, grinning as she fell back onto the bedding in front of the fireplace and they sent Sammy skittering away with an irritated squeak.

She laughed, looking up at him with half-lidded eyes as she reached up and stroked a hoof over the scarred side of his face, making him smile a little as their eyes locked and she said softly: “Handsome Scrivener Blooms. How can thou blame me for wanting to always do more with thee? We are not all work-driven, thou must know… why, sometimes I think that thou art as bad as Twilight Sparkle.”

“Oh, that’s mean, Luna, real mean.” Scrivy smiled slightly at her, then he grunted when she suddenly grabbed him and twisted to the side, slamming him firmly down against the bedding… but then only slipped forwards and pushed her face against his neck as they lay side-by-side, Scrivy embracing her tightly as he murmured quietly into her ear: “Besides, you and I both know we probably spend an unhealthy amount of time together as it is, even bound as we are. And I do gotta get these manuscripts done at some point, and sent out… before Celestia changes her mind or something about sharing with the world the events that have transpired, and the old stories of the past.”

“Perhaps thou art right.” Luna mused for a moment, then she leaned up and looked past him at the splotches of white paint and the fallen jar and brush, and her horn glowed quietly for a moment as she concentrated before there was a faint pulse, and the spilled paint vanished as the jar righted itself and the brush steamed, cleaning the paint from its bristles before it and the paint container quietly floated upwards and settled on the island that separated den from kitchen. “But all the same… I treasure my time spent with three, Scrivy. Both sides of me do.”

She smiled a little, then buried her face back against his neck, and Scrivener laughed a little, looking down at her softly as her mane floated silently around her, glimmering with the stars. He reached a hoof up to stroke into this, enjoying the way it tingled quietly against him with odd warmth… and then he closed his eyes and pulled her closer as Luna murmured softly: “Even with our link… I cannot express my gratitude to thee. For caring for me so… even with how much of me is stained with darkness.”

She looked up at him affectionately, and Scrivy shook his head a bit with a quiet laugh, saying softly in return: “It’s like you forget every now and then how often I tell you that… I like your darkness. You’ve changed it into something… better than even Celestia’s light, I think, Celestia’s… blinding, all-purging light. You’ve used it to save lives, and innocent people, and proven that darkness can embrace… can comfort… that the deep and blackest night can be safer than brightest day.”

He stopped, then kissed her forehead gently, just beneath her horn, making her smile wider. “I love you, Luna… I love every part of you. Even Nightmare Moon… maybe especially Nightmare Moon, with what you’ve reshaped her as.”

“And yet without thee, I would be nothing more than a jealous wreck, and likely would have been drawn in and corrupted yet again by the coming shadow.” Luna replied warmly, gazing into his eyes. “I love thee as well, deeper than I can express. All of me does, for thou art what I always needed… the pony who places his love, trust, and value in me.” She paused, then added mischievously: “Although there is always Twilight Sparkle as well, but… she is not as fun as thou art, Scrivy, albeit easier to annoy.”

“Well, thanks, Luna, I’m so glad to hear it.” Scrivener replied amusedly, shoving their foreheads together… and then Luna winked before she kissed him firmly, and he met her mouth gladly, twisting their tongues together for a moment before drawing back and gazing affectionately at one-another. “You really need to stop pushing that whole ‘foals’ subject with her, though.”

“I want a child, Scrivener Blooms, and as I cannot bear one myself even with the help of Zecora’s medicines and Celestia’s magic, Twilight may be our closest hope for… giving one to us.” Luna grumbled in return, and Scrivy rolled his eyes with an amused smile before she headbutted him firmly, making him wince back. “Why art thou even complaining? ‘Tis certainly no vexation on thy part, is it? Why, thanks to my ‘adventurousness,’ as thou coyly phrases it, thou has had the pleasures reserved for kings… or at least, more handsome and richer ponies than thou art.”

“Oh, thanks, Luna, really, that’s nice.” Scrivy replied dryly as she sat up… then he wheezed when she punted him lightly in the stomach, grabbing at his chest with a wince. “Hey!”

Luna only gave him a grumpy look in return, however… but then she smiled slightly and leaned down with a wide grin, half-lidding her eyes as she asked teasingly: “All the same, however, I do so enjoy my pleasures. ‘Tis another thing reminiscent of the old days, after all, when-”

“Oh Horses of Heaven, Luna, not another story about what a dirty girl you were even back then.” Scrivy covered his ears with a wince, and Luna threw her head back and laughed, shaking it slowly.

“Well, we did not have such ‘fun’ as exists in today’s world, nor as many morals nor this odd ‘political correctness!’” Luna exclaimed, looking almost gleeful as she sat down, reminiscing. “Oh, Celestia, she was always the prude, but think not for a moment she did not have her own indulgences… nay, not as oft as myself or Sleipnir, perhaps, for my brother and I would sometimes sit at the bar and place bets upon who could first acquire a ‘partner in leisure,’ but all the same, I wonder if her own desires were not worse than our own, with her reluctance to speak of them even when we-”

“You’re evil.” Scrivener interrupted clearly, and Luna nodded thoughtfully at this before the male sighed and rolled his eyes as he stood up, adding mildly: “And Sleipnir encouraged this? I thought he was the wise one between you three.”

“Perhaps ‘twas his wisdom speaking.” Luna replied, and her smile softened as she stepped forwards, stroking silently beneath the male’s muzzle. “We were in a very physical world in those times, my beloved daydreamer. And the times of peace were rare… we were always on the road, always on the move, pursuing this, called away to defend that, embattled and constantly surrounded by blood and chaos and death.”

She stopped, lowering her head and saying softly: “Physical passion… physical touch, ‘twas a way to relieve those stresses, to remind ourselves… we could do more than kill. And ‘twas a source of pleasure, and pleasure was hard to come by in many other ways. For all our fame and fortune, we had not the coin to waste upon the vast amounts of liquor it would take to get drunk, and all of us knew it would be a foolish thing to do. On those rare occasions we did drink too much, too heavily, too deeply, after all, there was almost always some foolish braggart, or some possessed, sad soul, waiting to take advantage of our self-induced states of discontent and attack, hoping to gain an edge.

“Nay, gold was better spent upon repairs for our gear and resupplying ourselves… and lodgings for the night, a comfort that is greater when one has a warm body… or perhaps more, as I am sure thou realizes by now…” She winked, making Scrivener blush a bit. “Pressed against one’s own. ‘Tis also the one time we were able to have physical vulnerability with another, and ‘twas just as important… sometimes, one… wished to drop one’s armor, and ‘twas a physical metaphor when we were able to remove what we were girded in, that also loosened the tongue.”

She quieted, looking thoughtful… then simply stepped forwards and kissed him softly, and Scrivy returned it gently, slowly, passionately, as it seemed to last forever before she pulled slowly away, murmuring: “But it all has so much more meaning when one can share it with those they love. ‘Tis so much more comforting, and deep, and pleasant. We are of different worlds, Scrivener Blooms, but… our worlds draw closer every day, and more and more… I see thee becoming more like me. I know not if I am saving thee or corrupting thee. I know not if I should be sad or happy. But to think heavily, ‘tis thy job, not mine.”

Luna winked at him, then she flicked her mane to the side and grinned slightly, turning around and striding down the hall towards their bedroom, looking over her shoulder and inviting: “Come with me, Scrivener Blooms. I shall amend any jealousies thy might have by showing thee just how much I love thee.”

“I. Can’t I finish…” Scrivy started, and when Luna glowered at him and her horn glowed slightly, he quickly cleared his throat and called lamely: “Coming, coming.”

Luna smiled slightly again… and an hour later found the two curled up together, the room around them dim but lit by the rays of the moon outside spilling in through the frost-speckled window, curled comfortably on top of the heavy blankets and bedding as the female smiled with pleasure and stroked a hoof slowly along his chest, murmuring softly: “’Tis bliss with thee, my love. Although I know in large part ‘tis because of our link… not just because thou hast gotten good at understanding what I desire and enjoy.”

“Thanks, Luna, you’re the only pony I’ve ever met who can completely emasculate me and compliment me all at once.” Scrivy replied mildly, and Luna laughed before she kissed the side of his neck, making him smile slightly as he gazed around the room, looking along the shelves stacked with books and scrolls and trinkets, to the large stands upon which rested two ornate, beautiful sets of armor next to a large antique dresser… and then his eyes roved upwards as he laid back, gazing at the black-painted ceiling decorated with images of constellations and celestial symbols before he tilted his head curiously when Luna half-crawled on top of him, gazing up at her affectionately

“Tell me, when did thou first experience the pleasures of the body? I am curious.” Luna said softly, continuing to play her hooves along his chest, and Scrivener snorted in amusement before the female grinned slightly as she rested her front limbs across him and leaned down. “What, am I not allowed to be interested in thy history? Do not most poets write great exclaiming songs about those they’ve cajoled into bed?”

“I would be offended if that wasn’t so true.” Scrivy said mildly, reaching up and poking her nose gently, and she wrinkled her muzzle before Scrivener leaned back meditatively, saying softly: “It was in Trotronto, after the second time I got published… I was on-off seeing someone, cute girl, but not someone I thought would… you know.”

He halted, looking up at her with a wince, but Luna only gestured for him to go on, and the male nodded after a moment, saying quietly: “I liked her. Cared about her. But she was a little… self-centered. Still, we had good times together. We ended up coming back to my apartment after the movies one night and she… didn’t leave that night.” He smiled slightly at her, and Luna gazed amusedly back. “The next morning she went off to work, I went off to writing some more poems for the magazine, etcetera. We were actually together for quite a while… but thinking about it, I never really… talked to her, and she never really talked to me, and there would be entire weeks sometimes where we wouldn’t see each other. Then that whole mess with the publishing house happened and I got the boot, and well. That was that. She took her stuff, just up and left, and I never saw her again after years of playing that… game with her.”

Luna looked at him curiously, and he gazed back at her, before she leaned down and kissed the side of his neck quietly. “We can hunt her down and kill her, should thou wish, my handsome poet. Or perhaps do the crueler thing and let her see all she’s missed out upon now.”

“Oh, Luna, if I was still with her, I’d never be with you, would I?” Scrivy smiled slightly, stroking her face gently, and she laughed and grinned at him deviously.

“Well then, apparently thou art not aware of the lengths I would have gone to in order to claim thee as mine, Scrivener Blooms.” Luna winked at him, then she kissed his nose gently, making the male laugh before she softened and said softly: “For I would do anything to see thee happy, my handsome daydreamer. Anything at all.”

“Dangerous words. But I like that about you, Luna… brash, courageous, and dangerous.” Scrivy replied softly… and then he smiled when the winged unicorn pushed herself up and flicked her head to the side, looking amusedly down at him before he climbed to his own hooves, the two embracing for a soft moment. “I love you, warrior princess.”

“I love thee too, but hush thy mouth.” She smiled all the same, however, even as she batted him lightly with her horn, and Scrivener laughed a bit before she flicked her horn to the side, the bedroom door opening… and both of them looking down curiously to see Sammy sitting in the hall before he leaned forwards and spat out a letter, Luna grumbling a bit at the sight of the royal seal. “Oh, well, at least mine sunny sister for once had the courtesy to wait until after we had indulged ourselves…”

Luna stomped past Sammy as the letter floated into the air beside her, and the pseudodragon huffed before grumbling when Scrivy gently patted his bony companion before following after the female, saying mildly: “You know, sometimes I think you’re just clinging to this dislike of Celestia because you really don’t want to admit how much you actually care about her.”

“This is exactly why I told thee to hush thyself, Scrivener Blooms.” Luna muttered, and then she flicked her head to the side, the letter unfurling the parchment flew backwards and struck Scrivy in the face, clinging against his features as he staggered at the end of the hall as Luna posed imperiously and ordered: “Read, my beloved scribe.”

Scrivener grumbled and shook his head quickly, stepping backwards so he could study the paper… and then he frowned a bit before saying clearly: “‘Dearest sister. As I have promised to keep you informed of any and all current events, I must share grave news with you today. The village of Silver Hoof, at the edge of the Gray Mountains, has been completely destroyed, and no survivors have been located. To make matter worse, the results of heavy seismic disturbances were detected in the area and the entrance to an enormous tunnel system was discovered, leaving me to fear the worst.

“‘Therefore, I must ask something that I know will be difficult for you, and particularly for your husband, Scrivener Blooms. I…’” Scrivy halted, frowned deeply, and then he closed his eyes for a moment before steadying himself as Luna looked up with a frown, and then she winced when he read quietly: “‘I must ask that you and Scrivener Blooms journey to the neighboring city of North Neigh, to investigate disturbing rumors in the area.’”

“Scrivy…” Luna murmured, stepping towards him… but the male only smiled faintly at her, holding up a hoof and giving her a quiet look, and she nodded quickly, blushing a bit.

“‘However, I will not send you alone. I am making arrangements to send the finest ponies I can offer to aid you… the newly formed Starlit Knights, who I will place fully at your discretion, under your control. I believe you will be familiar with most of the members… and leading them, to assist you and because I believe both you and Scrivener will require support on this endeavor in more ways than one, will be Twilight Sparkle. I have already visited her and spoken to her at length, and I know that she agrees… for your sake, not for mine. I wish to discuss this further with you, however, if you decide to undertake this journey: I will require some time to finish preparations, but in a week’s time both the Starlit Knights should be prepared and I will be able to provide you with equipment, information, and things that I hope will be even more precious and valuable. Love always, Celestia.’”

Scrivener halted, then he grimaced a bit, rubbing at his face and muttering: “Well, that sounds vaguely ominous… although I guess if we do go back there, I can at least rub in everyone’s faces that I’m married to you. Or at least put a scare into my… family.”

“They are not thy family, Scrivener Blooms… I, Twilight, Scarlet Sage… and even Celestia are thy family.” Luna said quietly, walking towards him as the parchment furled and floated over to drop onto the male’s desk, and then she nuzzled him quietly as the earth pony closed his eyes and let his head hang forwards, smiling a little as she kissed gently along his face. “And we do not need to go if thou does not wish to, even my orderly sister seemed to recognize that would be asking much… but all the same, if we do go, I see no reason why we would have to hide our faces in such a remote bastion as North Neigh. Let everypony believe that Nightmare Moon and Scrivener Blooms have come to their town to ransack and destroy it, ‘twill not be far from the truth for all they did to thee.”

“Thank you, Luna.” Scrivy said softly, smiling a little at her before he leaned forwards and rubbed their muzzles together gently, then he grimaced a little as he began to walk past her… before wincing when she spun around and darted around him towards the kitchen, saying nervously: “Luna, uh… I know you’re getting better with modern-day things and all but… I really don’t mind…”

“Oh nonsense, I shall put on coffee. I have learned how to do this simple enough task, have I not?” She gave him a flat look, and the male winced a little as he tilted his head back and forth before sighing and nodding. Luna looked pleased with this, heading towards their small coffeemaker as Scrivener turned instead towards the wooden cabinets, morbidly wondering just how long their appliances would last.

Luna, meanwhile, grinned as she sat back on the tiled, slightly scuffed floor: damaged more from ‘accidents’ here and there involving Luna trying a little too hard to cook, clean, or do anything else in the kitchen rather than from their hooves. Scrivy glanced over his shoulder at her nervously, then winced when she shot him a flat look and instead pretended to peer around the kitchen interior, at the large double doors leading out to the backyard, the cabinets, the stovetop and small appliances and the island and exceptionally thin wall that was all that separated living area and kitchenette… and then he smiled a little as he returned his eyes to the female, her own gaze softening as he said quietly: “Some days when I look around I realize how lucky we are that you have so much magic power at your disposal. You brought Sammy back… you helped a pony who felt stuck in the wrong body and gender become who he really wanted to be… you created a giant battery you can recharge as you please that all our appliances run off of and our house is lit by lanterns and a fireplace filled with everlasting magical flame. It’s amazing, Luna. It’s truly exceptional.”

“Nay, Scrivener Blooms… ‘tis not.” Luna blushed a little, glancing down and pawing awkwardly at the floor with a hoof before she looked back up warmly. “Much of this, I was born with. ‘Tis no great achievement to be born great… ‘tis much more impressive to earn it through practice and hard work. To be talented is wonderful, that is no lie… but it is in learned skill that there is true value and admiration.”

Scrivy smiled a little at her, saying quietly: “Now you’re just being modest.” He stopped, then turned around as he went back to digging through the cupboards, asking over his shoulder as Luna turned her own attention back to the coffeemaker: “So… North Neigh. I know we’ve talked about it before…”

“We have.” Luna paused with a scoop of coffee half-raised towards the open top of the machine, then winced and quickly flicked her horn to the side, the large can of coffee and scoop floating backwards as the coffee filters floated quickly off the counter, one popping open and dropping into the basket before she shot a surly look at Scrivy when he grinned at her. “Shush. On the topic at hand, however… I am gravely concerned. For sister to wish to send us… something both very serious and very foul must be occurring up in the northern wilds. And there are few things that would so completely be able to destroy an entire village, no matter how large or small… worse yet, sister made mention of the mountains. And awful, awful things, Scrivener Blooms, dwelt in the mountains even back in my day. Things of which ‘tis folly to speak.”

She fell quiet, and Scrivy nodded slowly, the two silent as Luna went about the rest of the process of making the coffee and the male prepared several muffins for them to share… and then the female shook her head and muttered: “Still, if thou art… prepared… for it, I suppose that there is no way that I can turn down my sister’s request. ‘Twould do more damage to ignore the problem… even if the destruction of a village such as North Neigh might not be entirely without pleasant effect.”

“You sound more bitter than I am about my past.” Scrivy said mildly, looking over at her with a smile… and Luna blushed a little before he tossed a muffin half towards her, and she caught it easily in the air with only a glance, the baked good glowing blue as it floated downwards and she took a meditative bite. “But… yeah. Besides, I’m curious about these Starlit Knights… and admittedly, the fact she’s sending Twilight too…”

“Implies that Celestia once more knows something she has not yet shared with us… although I must admit, she has otherwise been surprisingly forthcoming, particularly ever since the events of the wedding.” Luna responded with a bit of a sigh as she dropped her half-eaten muffin on the counter, and Scrivy gazed at her softly. “Oh, say it not. ‘Tis just… difficult. Less because of the mistake Celestia made, and… more because for so long, she has always lorded her position as big sister over me… and now, after all these years, she strives to be my equal, as if somehow I am greater than her? ‘Tis madness. It is like being once more ensnared in the shadowy realm of the mind by the Nightmares, except they were smart enough to get the details right.”

She stopped, looking quietly towards the coffeemaker as it burbled softly away, watching the dark liquid spill into the carafe… and then she shook her head slowly before allowing her eyes rove towards her husband as she said finally: “But we shall see, shan’t we? Perhaps for once… Celestia’s surprise will be pleasant, instead of leading us into greater peril.”

“Well, that would break tradition, though.” Scrivy replied softly, stepping up beside her, and Luna smiled as she leaned against him and gave him an amused look, half-lidding her eyes.

“Be not foolish, my love. There always comes a time to break traditions.” she replied softly, then she kissed the side of his neck quietly as they rested together as they both gazed towards the coffeemaker, watching the dark coffee spill slowly downwards and studying one-another’s bended reflection in the coffeepot as they both wondered silently what was to come in the days ahead.