• Published 14th Sep 2012
  • 4,084 Views, 224 Comments

Roses for the Grave - Mordy

Dark magic is a powerful and banned art believed to be long forgotten. Unbeknownst to the common Equestrian citizen, that art is very much alive and practiced in secret by less harmonious individuals.

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Ch5: A Place to Call Home

MLP: Roses for the Grave
By Mordy

Ch5: A Place to Call Home

Julius gave off a great big yawn as he finally pulled the trailer to their destination. A small magic shop at the edge of a small town not to unlike their previous town they had lived in, minus the ludicrously large graveyard. The shop was a normal wooden two story house. The upstairs reserved for the living quarters and the downstairs for the shop. It was quite efficient as one could sleep in longer before having to get up and open the place. The colors of the shop were a bit brighter than their old home to match this towns much cheerier mood, which wasn't a very difficult feat. The shop was painted a light blue with the shutters of the windows being a bright green. The sign that hang over was a mix of green lettering and a blue background with a green border to match. It simply said, “Magic Shop,” with a grimoire to the left of the lettering.

Julius smiled at it as he unhooked himself from his cart. Femme and Ecto would stay inside the mobile home while he took care of business. It was approximately just a little bit past noon as he walked into the shop. This shop had a much friendlier tone than his had. The shades were open letting light in and it had the same friendly color theme as the outside did. It was also a lot less dusty and more organized. Something he envied to a degree. The usual supplies were set out, ingredients for potions, books, scrolls, and cantrips as well as other knick knacks.

He approached the counter where a light blue stallion with green hair was reading a spell book. He started to see a pattern here and chuckled slightly which caused the owner to finally look up from his reading and jump a bit. After getting over being startled, he set the book down and with an upbeat attitude he greeted him, “Welcome friend! What can I do you for?”

Julius pondered for a moment before answering, “Well… the nights have been deathly cold,” he put a bit of emphasis on the word deathly as he spoke. This caused the other stallions eyes to widen and his ears to perk up at his statement.

He cleared his throat and replied, “They most certainly have, but not as unforgiving as the burning light of the sun. I prefer the cool nights myself.” He looked intently a Julius, his eye narrowing at him.

Julius coughed as his eyes browsed the shop. “The shadows of the night do bring a comfort the light can’t match,” he said as he gave a nod and held out his hoof to the shop keeper. The owner brought his own hoof up to his and they shook.

Both of them looked around for a moment, eyeing the door and the windows to make sure no pony else was around before Julius asked a question, “Do you cut your own mane? It’s quite nice,” he said while feigning interest with the neatly cropped mane of the other unicorn.

The shop keeper looked around again and then gave him a confirmation, “I do, and do you cut yours as well?” He looked at Julius mane, getting in close to examine the tips of his hair that looked like they were dipped in ink. Julius gave a little sigh, “I used to, but I had to stop recently.” His shifted his eyes in a bit of paranoia. “Anyway, I need a new cover for my book. The old one has been… ruined.”

The blue unicorn nodded and he walked around the desk and went to the front door. He turned the open sign on the door, causing it to say, “On Break,” it was the same as the sign he used to have on his shop. It was a very useful tool for any establishment to have.

Julius was lead into the back and into a windowless room with a few bookshelves filled with tomes and a square table that had a couple of chairs surrounding it. On the table there was ink, papers, and a white unlit candle. Julius approached a chair and took a seat opposite of where the papers and ink were. The other unicorn locked the door behind him and secured it with magic. He then proceeded to place a sound ward around them so no one could hear their conversation. Julius then put his own sound ward right on top of his to ensure he wasn't letting certain individuals listen in. They both nodded in agreement and the unicorn sat himself across from Julius.

“Now that we’re alone we can safely stop speaking in code. At least I hope,” the shop keeper groaned and stretched himself out as he pulled a book from one of the shelves with his magic and then lit the candle off to the side, causing a blue flame to start burning on the wick. He turned to Julius, “Okay, I don’t know your name. I don’t want to know your name and I’m not going to give you mine. We never had this conversation and we both agree to never speak of this outside of the covenant. Deal?” He glared harshly at his guest not wanting any trouble from him.

Julius shut his eyes and nodded. “Yes, yes, that’s fine. I prefer it that way in fact!”

The magician face lightened and he dared to smile. “Very good, glad you know the procedures. So, why do you need a new refuge?”

To recap, this colt was a fellow who was also part of the Darkmoon Covenant. There were many precautions for dark magic users, leading to many cases of paranoia. This was why coded phrases were introduced and implemented as small talk so others could speak to each other in the open about various subjects. Julius’ greeting was to make sure the shop keeper was part of the loop and he had to respond in kind when the correct phrase was given. Then he asked about him cutting his mane which was a code phrase for asking if they were in disguise, usually as a transformation spell or the use of dyes. So, Julius didn’t know what his new "friend" here really looked like, but he knew what Julius looked like which made him a bit uncomfortable. However, this also invoked more trust from his shadowy compatriot.

The final thing Julius had requested was about a new cover for his book, but what this really meant was he needed a new home to hide out at while still being in touch with his fellow magic users. This brings us back to the magician’s question which made Julius ashamed to answer, but he swallowed his pride and responded, “I got caught. Thankfully they only saw me in disguise. They have no idea that this is what I truly look like.”

The unicorn winced, “Ooo, that’s really going to hurt your chances.” He shook his head as he lifted a quill with some magic and dipped it into the ink as he filled out some paper work. “How’d you get caught?”

“They found one of my failed experiments trying to bury itself. I wasn’t–” He was interrupted by the unicorn.

“Necromancy? Wait… were you holed up in that one town that’s just filled with graves?” He asked inquisitively and Julius nodded.

With a heavy and exasperated sigh he replied, “Yes and yes.”

The unicorn took a deep breath, “Your chances are looking pretty shot right now. I know that was a prime spot for necromancers and losing that is going to make some ponies very unhappy.”

Julius tried to reprimand himself, “I was emotionally depressed and made a poor decision. I still managed to escape them!”

The unicorn raised an eyebrow and harrumphed, “Depressed? What are you, a pansy and escaped who exactly? The townsfolk right?”

Julius scratched his chin with his hoof, remembering the goatee he had now and would need to get rid of it later. “Actually… it was the Canterlot Guard.” He smiled sheepishly.

The unicorn facehoofed. “Well, that’s just dandy! Next you’ll tell me they found the hidden alcove where necromancers could…” He stopped when he noticed that Julius was looking away and rubbing the back of head unable to look him in the eye. “Oh for the love of Luna!” he growled out and continued to write on the parchment. “Any other screw ups you want me to mention?” he asked sarcastically.

Julius shook his head which caused the unicorn to be relieved. “So, anything you can offer me that would make them consider you instead of throwing out your request?” He got a bit sour as he got to the end of his question. “Perhaps details on what your experiment was?” The magician had a slightly sly grin, a bit eager to get a peak on what a fellow dark magic user had been working on.

The unicorn was quickly disappointed as Julius replied, “Sorry, I’m not ready to reveal my work yet.”

“Your application has no chance,” he deadpanned.

Julius smiled though. “I would be inclined to agree… if I didn’t learn some very interesting information when I was captured.”

“Wait, you got captured?” The magician added that detail on his application and Julius groaned at this.

Julius gritted his teeth and explained, “Yes, I got captured, but that’s beside the point! I have important information that could protect others from being discovered!”

The unicorn just lazily stared at him unconvinced. “And what pray tell, is that?”

Julius looked around with a bit of caution. He was being very careful with this information. His friend took noticed to this and was getting concerned with what he could possibly know that would make him this afraid even as safe as they were right now. It took him a minute to collect his nerve before responding in code, “There’s… an angel among us.”

The magician’s eyes widened and he stood up. “What! Do you know who? We’ll get rid of this… angel immediately!” He was shaking, that phrase meant the Darkmoon Covenant had been invaded and an outsider knew of their secrets, such as their coded phrases.

“I do know who, but this pony is untouchable.” He shook his head in defeat.

The nostrils of the other unicorn flared. “What do you mean untouchable?! What pony could we not hope to silence?”

Julius looked at him with sorrow and defeat. “Let me rephrase my statement.” He worked up his nerve again, “There’s a goddess among us.”

The unicorn fell to his seat as horror filled his eyes. “No… no! You mean… the queen?” He was of course referring to Princess Celestia, but they knew better. Changing her title would not change the fact of what she was to them, a tyrant that ruled all of Equestria. She was a queen in every sense; she merely hid the truth behind an innocent forename, perhaps to be more beloved by her subjects.

A nod came from Julius as he confirmed his suspicions, “I heard it straight from the queen’s mouth. She was the reason I got captured in the first place.” He saw his friend gave a look of awe as he recounted his capture and how she had tried to bribe him with limited freedom in exchange for information and servitude. He then started to finish his explanation, “Once I saw an escape I stringed her along got her to believe I was considering helping her until I had my chance to escape.”

The magician had been writing down his recount. “And you say we were betrayed by a now dead necromancer named Black Tail from some time ago?” Julius nodded to his question and he wrote a bit more down. “Well, this will ruffle a lot of feathers. Just might make up for all that happened, still I wouldn’t hold your breath. Getting you a new residence isn’t going to be top priority for the higher ups.”

He waved his hoof dismissively. “It’s fine, as long as it gets done eventually I suppose.” He kept his eyes on the paper as the unicorn signed his own name and cast a spell on the sheet before floating it over to Julius. He took the sheet, all the notes he had taken had reformed into a hidden message. It was now disguised as some legal document with a line at the bottom for him to sign his name. This was another way of getting secret messages across to other members. He signed his name and it reformed into a new name, Jules Vern. Odd name to him, but he was more concerned that if Celestia knew the spell to decipher these messages. She would at least be aware of them, but the spell to decode them was known by very few. He knew how to code one, but even Julius didn’t know the spell to translate these messages.

He proceeded to roll up the paper and bind the scroll with a special insignia provided to him by his magician ally, before he tossed it into the blue flame, instantly transporting the message to a particular destination. It mimicked the dragon mail magic used by Princess Celestia and a particular purple dragon. However, it was older and a bit stricter with its destination. It would be sent to a focal point and redirected to the proper figure within the covenant. That was one of the drawbacks of this form of mail; you couldn’t send a message directly to an individual without going through the proper channels. Only if two were to set up their own separate focal points and taught the other the spell to directly send their message to that point would it be possible. Unfortunately the hassle of doing that was normally not worth it unless absolute secrecy was required.

With the paper work done Julius played with his goatee and asked, “So… what have I missed these last few years?”

A dark room kept aglow only by a single blue flamed candle erupted for a moment when a scroll formed above the fire. A dark blue aura surrounded the paper before the message unwrapped and was pulled in front of the hooded unicorn who sat at the obsidian desk that held his light source. Materials and paperwork scattered around in organized chaos. He always had so much to manage, but he was able to work at his own leisure. No pony could force him to get things done, but he was punctual none the less.

A quick spell cast and the message of the document was deciphered. A quick scan of the details and the eccentric unicorn had to stifle a laugh for relocation request after making such blunder with being discovered. However, his mood turned sour as he gained an annoyed interest when the details of Queen’s knowledge came to light and the betrayal of the now deceased necromancer Black Tail. It was a name he recognized, the necromancer had been quite promising, but then upped and vanished from the covenant without as so much as a word. This didn’t cause too much concern as nothing was set in place to keep anypony bound to the covenant, but it was well ingrained into the mind of each individual that betraying the secrets of ones fellows would end in severe punishment. Not even death would protect a traitor.

A low wicked chuckle escaped the unicorn at the thought of Black Tail’s retribution, but then he noticed the name of the pony that had slammed head first into this entanglement of trouble. He began to laugh even harder, “Julius... it’s been awhile. What has my student been up to all these years?”

Julius was in awe as the blue unicorn across from him finished telling him about the changeling invasion of Canterlot, “Seriously, I can maybe understand Discord if he never got to your town which you should consider yourself blessed. But not hearing about the invasion of the changelings? How isolated was that town?”

He chuckled, “It was quite out of the way and not exactly a prime tourist spot. Still, I might have been acting like a hermit while I was there. Heck, the only reason I knew about the Nightmare Moon incident and Luna was because of the whole everlasting night. Something like that doesn’t go unnoticed.” Julius had withdrawn himself from most of the outside world and had focused entirely on his own research. Something he was eager to dig back into once things had settled down.

His eyes drifted back to the blue candle and he tapped his hooves on the table with anxious anticipation. The other unicorn took noticed to this. “Hey, if they haven’t responded already I’d take that as a good sign. Means they haven’t immediately rejected you,” he pointed out, but as soon as he had finished his sentence the flame ignited and a scroll had appeared above it, causing Julius to immediately reach out for it with his magic. “Speak of the queen…” the other unicorn muttered.

Julius quickly read through the letter. “They’ve… already picked a place for me to move to. In fact they’re actually going to build a new location just for me,” he said with a surprise.

The unicorn dropped his jaw and grabbed for the letter. “What?! Some pony up there must really like you because I’ve never heard of such treatment being given to anypony I know/...” There was a tinge of jealousy in his voice.

Julius was frowning though as he grabbed the note back and kept reading it only to grimace with a sigh. This caused the other unicorn to raise his eyebrow. “A catch?”

Julius nodded to his question, “They don’t want me or any minions or friends I may have, to be in disguise. They also don’t want me to do any risqué magic that could expose me. In other words, they want to keep a close eye on me while inadvertently halting my research.”

The unicorn nodded in understanding, “I can see why that would upset you. Regardless I wouldn’t dismiss this kindness. Just find something new and more inconspicuous to work on.”

Julius frowned inwardly; he wanted to continue his research. He was, what some would call, obsessed with it. He had good reasons why, but he dared not share them. However, he accepted that it would have to be put on hold. He could at least try to figure out what went wrong with his last experiment so he would be prepared for when he could safely perform another again.

He signed a note that had been attached to the paper, essentially him agreeing to the terms that had been laid before him and he sent it off back through the blue flame. It didn’t take long before another note to come back telling him his new home would be ready within a week and its location. Julius looked to the nearby bookshelf and pulled out a map that had been setting between the tomes. He unfolded it with his magic and then searched for the location. He scowled at what would be his new home as he realized that it was way too close to Canterlot. This just meant he had to be even more cautious.

It wasn’t long before he left the shop; his business finished and was making his way back to the trailer. He looked at the letter with the location and date he should arrive, muttering to himself “Ponyville, eh?”

A lavender unicorn with a purple mane that had a hot pink streak running through it shivered uncontrollably. The shiver was noticeable all the way down to her cutie mark of a pink six pointed star surrounded by smaller white stars. The purple dragon with green spikes running down from his head to his tail easily took notice to the sudden vibration. “Hey, you okay Twilight?”

The unicorn known as Twilight Sparkles looked back to the baby dragon on her back. “Of course Spike! I just had a… sudden chill. But I’m find now,” she said as she gave Spike a reassuring smile and she trotted along back to a large tree at the center of town that acted as a library and her home. She pondered what could have caused her to have such a cold reaction on a warm spring afternoon, but she dismissed it with thoughts of study and regarded the reaction as harmless.

Oh, but how wrong she was…

Author's Note:

UPDATE 7/4/2016:
Removed "(Updated)" from the chapter title.

UPDATE 3/7/2014:
- Cleaned up this chapter, less work than previous ones. Nothing really new here.
- Moved old authors notes down to the proper section.

- We made it to the mane 6! Or at least Twilight. Julius will be taking a back seat to the story for awhile as we focus on other characters. Expect the spotlight to be on the mane 6 and Femme for awhile as well as visiting other characters of importance from time to time.
- I know chapter was shorter than some and we barely had any time with Twi, but she and the others will be getting a lot of the attention for a long while.