• 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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7 Ordeal by Darkness

Suddenly Twilight felt, rather than heard, a whoosh of air and turned her head to face the direction she thought it had gone in, but the pervading darkness made it impossible to lock onto something fast, shooting by close to her.

Dull thuds and the clatter of metal appeared to be growing more noticeable, and the sickening cries of stricken ponies seemed to be becoming more heart wrenching in their finality, suggesting strongly that the brutal fights going on around them were now being won and lost uncomfortably close by.

The encompassing darkness was counterpointed by the distant light from the strangely glowing Crystal Castle, and its eerie purple light that reflected from anything shiny, like helmets and armour. Much more sinister were the occasional streaks of ghostly green glow from the horizontal eye slits on the mind control helmets worn by enslaved pegasi as they swooped past. The ponies were all aware that by the time they saw these close up, they were already history.

Whilst Twilight was able to pick out and follow one pony, or possibly even a number if they were all flying in the same direction at the same time, the darkness deprived her day adapted eyes of any opportunity to focus on the detail of individual combats, or even take in the overall picture, denying her of any sense of whether they were winning or losing.

Not knowing where the next awful sound would come from played on her mind; her heart was racing and a part of her brain was screaming at her to hide, but her strong sense of duty drove her to stay resolute and inspire those who were at that very moment flying around her, fighting to protect her and the pegasi in their battle group.

She looked up and strained to see a stream of bat ponies and thestrals wheeling down from altitude. She knew such displays would not be performed simply for the delight of showing off precision flying, and her mind raced with the thoughts of what hideous combat must be going on all around her that required so many Night Guard to come down and lend their support.

Deprived of all but rudimentary sight, she was becoming convinced that the sounds of horrible physical clashes were now creeping even closer to her, heightening her sense of vulnerability. Was it really getting louder, or was her brain, denied the full vision she desperately wanted, compensating by making everything seem that much more threatening? She tried to push such fears far from her mind and hold her imagination firmly in check, lest she start to conjure up frighteningly exaggerated scenes of bloody pony to pony combat, whittling away at her forces as the toll of personal loss increased and the possibility of failure loomed larger.

Twilight knew she had to keep going to the Crystal Castle, and the guards all recognised it was their sworn duty to ensure that she got there. Some of the Royal Guard were starting to develop a little night vision, but lacked the ability to see sufficiently well as to be effective in combat, so reluctantly stayed in close formation, placing their faith unswervingly in the Night Guard as they fought to protect their Princess and themselves.

Seemingly out of nowhere, a flash hurtled past followed by the grunt of a pony having the wind knocked out of him. Suddenly a gap formed in the ranks of pegasi close to the Royal chariot as one of the Royal Guard spiralled down to the suburbs below, winded and concussed from the impact of a helmeted pegasus. The grey stallion whose friend had just disappeared suddenly felt very vulnerable with a gap next to him where his friend had been up until a few seconds ago.

Why had it been him?

Who was next?

Twilight could sense the aura of fear beginning to rise among the guards and shouted out words of encouragement and support, helping to motivate all those who were close enough to hear, and engendering a feeling of confidence that spread much further.

The Crystal Castle was starting to look marginally bigger than before, but their progress seemed to be painfully slow as the sound of fighting reached a crescendo. One of the Royal Guard, confident in his night vision peeled away from the battle group and followed the flash that showed where a helmeted pegasus had just gone past, but he had gone very little distance himself before being knocked out of the sky by another of the mind controlled conscripts.

Twilight could taste the frustration which had made that ill-fated guard break ranks and called out again for all of them to keep going and not allow themselves to be distracted. She was holding them together, for now at least, but the pressure was intense.

“Your Majesty” came the voice of a bat pony flying beside her, “Apologies for the late reporting. The enemy attacked in force and we have suffered losses, but we are prevailing. Some of their attacks got through; I can only apologise for the losses suffered, but we are now clearing up the last of the remaining attackers.”

“Please spare as many as you can without putting our own forces at risk” Twilight replied, “Remember, they are unwilling combatants and we may still be able to learn something useful from them.”

“Would you like us to bring them to you, your Majesty” he enquired.

“We are close to our destination now” Twilight mulled over, “Find out what you can for yourselves and only bring somepony to me if you think they have something important to offer, thank you.”

“As you command” he saluted smartly before disappearing into the darkness once more.

As the sounds of battle began to fade, Twilight became eager to get as much additional information as she could from the captured pegasi and impatiently awaited one of them to join her or one of the Night Guard to bring word of what they had discovered. All at once, the Crystal Castle seemed to be getting closer much faster as time ran out.

“Your Majesty” a voice with clipped military efficiency announced to Twilight’s side, “Most of the freed pegasi knew little of importance, except for one. Apparently, the driving force behind this invasion is a mare …”

“Cadance …?” she gasped, suddenly recalling what the pegasus guard had told her earlier about a change coming over her sister-in-law, “Is it possible that Sombra is working his evil magic through her somehow …?”

“With respect, Ma’am” he continued, “We’re almost there. What do you want us to do?”

“Proceed as planned” she replied, “Also, spread the word that Sombra appears to have Princess Cadance under his control and she must not be harmed.”