• Published 25th Jun 2021
  • 1,046 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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5 Final Preparations

Twilight headed for her personal library to refresh herself on all the notes she had written about the dark tyrannical king, and soon found herself sidetracked by the anecdotes and stories she had amassed about her long-dead friends. Nostalgia flowed over her as she reminisced about their adventures, and not for the first time was glad to have taken such copious notes, transporting her back to the times they had shared. It was so vivid, so real, that it made her feel as if they were all there with her again, which in a sense they were.

A knocking sound echoed around the library as a messenger tried to get his monarch’s attention, but she was too engrossed in happy memories of times gone by. It was only on the third attempt that she stirred and pricked her ears up, suddenly connecting the sound of knocking with somepony at the door. She put a bookmark at the page she was reading with a soft smile, and closed the book with the gentle reverence it deserved before rising to cross the room.

“Coming” she called back, saving the messenger from having to knock for a fourth time.

She opened the door and received the few words that told her the scouts had returned. In an instant, her mood changed; this meant it was time to go.

Twilight went back to the lecture theatre where the generals were already waiting, and Spike was there with them too. They all stood as she entered and with a gentle wave of her hoof bade them seated as she joined them around the table.

“What news?” she asked.

“Scouts report that the railway line is blocked by an outcrop of crystals, and that the sky further north was black as night” said the pegasus.

“At this point, a contingent of Night Guard ventured forward as we have better night vision than our pegasi colleagues” the bat pony added, “And they found themselves under attack from the air by ferociously determined pegasi wearing unusual headgear.”

“The metal masks with strangely glowing green eyes?” asked Twilight.

“Yes, your Majesty” replied the general, “Exactly as you briefed us.”

“What losses did you suffer?” she enquired, dreading the answer.

“The Night Guard defended themselves, but it wasn’t long before more of the enemy could be seen coming to join in. Completely outnumbered, the Night Guard fought a valiant rearguard action as they headed back out to where the pegasi from the Royal Guard were waiting, so as to even up the odds a bit, but we did take casualties and there are three who won’t be coming home.”

“I am sorry. Please let me know who they were and I will see the families myself; they will also be recognised as the heroes they were” Twilight lamented, “But that duty will have to wait for the time being. It is clear that Sombra’s power is increasing, and we must head up to stop him without delay.”

The generals agreed, and Twilight dismissed them before turning to head out of the door herself. She took one last lingering look at the remains of the cake that still beckoned temptingly to her, but she looked away, already focused on something even more important.

No more than twenty minutes later, Twilight strode out to her Royal chariot wearing her gold battle armour, ready to take her place at the head of her army. Once safely aboard, the two pegasi and two bat ponies acting as her charioteers sped forward and lifted effortlessly into the air. Once airborne, flights of pegasi, bat ponies and thestrals joined in a pre-determined sequence to create an aerial armada in a defensive formation around their Princess.

The whole stunning spectacle was watched longingly by an adult dragon who stood on the Royal balcony, and waved a lonely claw for his Princess in a farewell gesture of love that none would see, before turning back to resume his duties as Equestria’s Prince Regent.

Being chauffeured gave Twilight an uninterrupted opportunity to think things through. Something wasn’t right and she was having trouble figuring out what it was. If she hadn’t set her mind to rest by the time she arrived, it would have to be put to one side as far greater problems would need to be taken care of first.

The lands they passed over were quiet, too quiet, she noticed; or maybe she was just being paranoid? Perhaps they had always been like this, and she had never really paid attention before? Certainly, this undefinable ambience ran an uncomfortable hooftip up and down her spine, gifting her with an unwelcome feeling of brooding doom.

They followed the railway on its scenic journey from the metropolis, through the inhospitable and increasingly mountainous landscape that led ever northwards.

Peering forward from her seat over the four charioteers, Twilight was alert for something, anything abnormal. Finally, her patience was rewarded when she noticed that something was wrong with the sky; the one all around her was azure blue, yet up ahead on the horizon, it appeared to be transitioning rapidly to black. She looked over to one side and became aware of a pegasus scout flying alongside her; they exchanged knowing glances. How long had he been there waiting for her to notice?

She nodded her acknowledgement and he flew off to be replaced by the pegasus colonel and his Night Guard counterpart.

“Your Majesty” he broke in, “We are approaching the boundary of darkness reported by the advance party of scouts. We can expect Sombra’s forces to engage us at any time now, so we have spread word amongst the guards to be on high alert. Do you wish to draw their forces out or press on to confront Sombra?”

“We go in” said Twilight with conviction, and the colonel nodded his agreement as the word was disseminated through the ranks.

There were no signs of any activity as they approached the eerily sudden transition from daylight into darkness, and drove on through as if entering a tunnel. Instantly, all those with light-adapted eyes suddenly felt blindfolded, while the bat ponies and thestrals felt immediate release from the near blindness they had been experiencing in the harsh brightness of daylight, and began to see properly for the first time in hours.

The formation regrouped with the disadvantaged Royal Guard now being protected by the dark dwelling Night Guard; most noticeably the pegasi on combat air patrol were relieved of their duties by thestrals and bat ponies, providing continuity of essential protection from above.

Twilight looked at the sky. Because she was responsible for both the sun and the moon, she knew the night sky and all of its intricacies. This was most definitely not the night sky, but an inky blackness, possibly encompassing the entire Crystal Empire. Such a feat would, she reasoned, take an awful lot of magic, but before she could explore this idea any further, a shout rang out from her left side; attackers were approaching!