• Published 25th Jun 2021
  • 1,045 Views, 17 Comments

Creeping Darkness - Bronyxy

An unexpected visitor crashes Day Court, alerting Twilight to something being seriously wrong in the Crystal Empire ...

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13 Night Guards to the Fore

“We need to recreate what took place up here to try and understand what happened to Twilight Sparkle” Luna stated, “Do we have an eyewitness?”

“Yes, hundreds” confirmed Cadance, “But all from at least a hundred yards away.”

“Are there any scouts among them?” Luna considered, “They are trained to be the most reliable observers.”

“Yes, I’m sure there would be some” agreed Cadance, “Would you like me to summon them with their Commanding Officer?”

“No” Luna reasoned, “I do not wish them to feel under any duress. They must be free to speak their minds.”

“A good point, Lulu” agreed Celestia.

Cadance dismissed herself and went to organise the witnesses, leaving the sisters alone.

“Poor Cadance” said Celestia.

“Shining Armor would have been proud of her” agreed Luna.

“He always was” confirmed her sister, “But to be honest, I am more concerned about what has happened to Twilight right now.”

“You and me both, dear Sister. Cadance will feel much better once Flurry Heart makes a full recovery, but the disappearance of Twilight Sparkle is most vexatious.”

Luna stared up at the moon, then after a pause added, “Tell me Sister, does that image look just like it did whilst I was imprisoned, or does it look more like Twilight Sparkle?”

“There will be plenty of pictures we could use as comparison” said Celestia, “But my impression is they look the same.”

A beating of wings followed by a delicate landing announced that Cadance had returned.

“The witnesses are all engaged in different duties at the moment, but I have secured four who will be with us in a few minutes.”

“They should be enough” Luna confirmed.

All three Princesses lapsed into companionable silence, each reflecting on their own thoughts in a pleasant moment of respite, where none felt the need to speak, or be heard.

The moment was broken by the beating of more wings as a pair of bat ponies landed on the same platform, but at a respectful distance from the powerful Royals.

“Please, come and join us. You may know Princess Luna and Princess Celestia” said Cadance, careful to introduce Luna first, as she would be the more important of the two former diarchs in the eyes of the bat ponies.

The two scouts bowed respectfully, but were otherwise unperturbed by the proximity of power.

“Thank you for agreeing to meet with us” Cadance acknowledged, “Please would you tell us what you saw when Princess Twilight and Nightmare Moon landed up here?”

The two scouts relayed their observations which both referred to a stream of blue light pointing upwards followed by the two alicorns walking down through the floor, after which a bolt of rainbow energy exploded upwards stretching up to the moon.

“Did they go down the stairs we see here?” asked Luna.

"I could not see” said one.

“I do not believe so, your Majesty” said the other.

“Where, then, was it, if you believe if may have been different?”

The bat pony walked across the floor, stopped, looked off thoughtfully into the distance then moved a little to one side before coming to a stop.

“Here” he confirmed.

Luna asked if they had anything else to offer, and so they debriefed on everything they could remember, but neither provided anything that wasn't already known. With the approval of her aunts, Cadance then dismissed the two scouts as they waited for the second two to join them.

“What do you think?” asked Celestia.

“Let us wait to hear whether the next two accounts corroborate what we have just heard” suggested Luna, “We have been gifted more witnesses; we should hear them out before acting precipitously.”

“Wise, Sister, very wise.”

This time, there was more tension in the silence that descended between the Princesses, and none felt particularly at ease, their minds racing with possibilities.

After what seemed an interminable age, two more sets of wingbeats joined them; a bat pony and a thestral. Introductions were conducted by Cadance in the same manner as before, and they told their versions of events, both of which bore a striking similarity to what they had already heard. The bat pony could not confirm the existence of a second stairwell, but the thestral was adamant. He paced it out as the earlier bat pony had done and came to stop at exactly the same point.

“It was a much wider stairwell than the one that is here, your Majesty” he explained, “It seemed to wrap around in a descending spiral around a hollow vertical shaft.”

“How did you see it in so much detail?” Cadance enquired.

Luna flinched imperceptibly but said nothing.

“We hunt from a position of height, Princess” he explained, “Our natural instinct is to observe from above, and as a scout, that is what I do.”

Cadance decided not to ask what he hunted, because she had a very strong feeling it would make her feel queasy, but the point had been made; he was a reliable observer, and his information tallied with that from the earlier bat pony.

Cadance dismissed the two scouts, but Luna bade the thestral stay as he had given the best description of what had happened.

“Twilight Sparkle’s magic is magenta; the blue magic was therefore clearly from Nightmare Moon” Luna reasoned, “Since we share the same magical signature, I shall repeat the action. Stand clear.”

Luna made sure everypony was well away from the area where she had been warned the unseen stairwell was situated and aimed her horn at the crystal structure in the roof. She fired a bolt of light blue magic, in just the same way as her wicked alter-ego had, and watched as the sickly trail of dark magic flowed down and spilled across the floor. As it coalesced, the floor opened up and there was the stairwell, just as the thestral scout had described.

Luna moved to the edge, then turned to her sister; “We do not know what or indeed who we may find down there. It could be Nightmare Moon, it could be Twilight Sparkle, or it could be nothing at all.”

She then looked to the thestral; “I should benefit from a pair of good eyes. This could be dangerous, so I shall not order you to accompany me, neither shall I hold it against you if you do not want to.”

“It would be my honour, your Majesty” he replied without hesitation, and immediately joined her in the darkness.