• Published 14th Sep 2012
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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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Ch7: The Long Week

MLP: Roses for the Grave
By Mordy

Ch7: The Long Week

Sunday

For most of the citizens of Ponyville, it was a normal Sunday like any other. The thing about Sunday’s was that they have the uncanny power of being quite boring. Even though for most it was a day off, it stood within a strange dead zone between the oh so fun and joyous Saturday and the dreaded and loathed Monday. The citizens went about the day with a slight smile on their face, not as big as they had the day before with the knowledge of what awaits them tomorrow poking them in the back of their minds. Sure they were happy to not work on such a gorgeous day, but they all knew it wouldn’t last.

Some wished for the weekend to last forever, such as the little colts and fillies that had school the next day. For others they wanted this day to keep lasting so they could avoid returning to their jobs and spend more time with their friends, families, or simply doing what they loved. However, a few just wanted the day to simply end so they can begin getting the upcoming week done and over with. Like pulling off a band aid or finally receiving the shot when visiting the doctor’s office. It’s not so much the shot itself, but the anticipation of it coming.

On this particular day there were some ponies whose train of thought was not of the day ending, but instead the week. Every second, every minute, every hour caused the foremen of a little construction project to look more nervous than he did just a moment earlier. One could almost see wrinkles and gray hairs start to sprout from him as the stress of their deadline start to take its toll.

From a less experience individual or even an experienced one, their progress was looking fairly good. The ground work had been marked, the entire basement area dug up, which was very large allowing for plenty of storage, and it wasn’t even noon yet. They already were building the new structure from the bottom up and their progress looked admirable.

That was until one learned of some minor details. First of all most didn’t know they had worked throughout the entire night. The townsfolk figured they made all this progress by working only from morning till late in the evening. If they knew about them working all night, their progress didn’t impress as much. That would be the end of it unless they had the blueprints for their work. Not that anypony would. No citizen or government official would have any knowledge of the entire project plan except possibly the basic approved blueprints.

The true blueprints would reveal so much more. Everypony would only see what looks like to be the foundations to a basic house or possibly shop. But there was so much more to it than that. At that very moment construction was being done deep underground as quietly as possible. Work that certainly wouldn’t be approved, at least not without jumping through many legal loopholes and cutting through more red tape than streamers found at one of Pinkie Pies parties. Well… maybe not that much red tape, but close.

The secret underground was what was causing the most stress between the foremen. They trusted that the diamond dogs they had digging could get it all done, but there were a few things that stabbed their minds. One being they sill had more work to do below once everything was dug up. Secondly, dirt still needed to be removed from below and spread out of the way while being inconspicuous. They didn’t need ponies wondering why so much ground had been dug up for such a seemingly small house. However, of all the things that worried the two unicorns the most was the unknown progress. They could only safely check on all work being done below at night. Checking during the daytime was risky especially with curious ponies still wandering by to watch.

The red haired unicorn was thankful that they at least kept their distance and were no longer berating him with their insufferable questions. The gawkers were still talking to each other, discussing what all this was about. They threw out speculations and debated away at the possibilities. It was annoying, but was much more tolerable than the previous day.

The foreman was glad to have the background noise to help distract him from the work below. He knew the earth pony that had arrived with the diamond dogs was down with them, making sure they didn’t screw up, regulate their breaks, provide aid when he could, and remind them of the pay cuts they would receive if things didn’t happen on time.

Normally the dumb mutts would start to threaten them in return, but because they all were being paid by the same employer if a pay cut happens everyone loses a cut, regardless of how well one particular group performed. It somewhat encouraged all to be at their best while also making sure everyone was doing their part.

A long heavy sigh erupted from the unicorn in a futile effort to evacuate all the stress being pent up in his body. He wiped some sweat from his head as the day continued to drag on.

Monday

Mondays were always a drag for most. Usually a bit busy or seemed busy with the long week ahead of them. Others, who enjoyed their jobs, were able to tackle the day with a smile. Unfortunately, for one of those individuals who loved her work, today was just not meant to be thrilling.

The alabaster unicorn with a stylized purple mane, Rarity, sat behind a counter within the Carousel Boutique surrounded by dresses and mannequins all around the shop. Materials lay around here and there such as needles, threads, cloths, and gems. Overall, everything was kept fairly tidy.

It was a slow day unfortunately and Rarity made the most of it by reading the latest in one of her fancy romance novels finally finding the time to enjoy it. Still, she was feeling down from the lack of customers and inspiration. It happened from time to time, but didn’t make it any more enjoyable than any of the other times.

The slow day couldn’t really be blamed; there simply wasn’t any exciting balls, galas, or parties in the near future (excluding the parties of a certain pink pony). Add onto the fact that she was in a town that had a great negligence of wearing anything, but the bare minimum, what could one expect?

Inspiration on the other hoof was something she could do something about. Rarity was hoping to be struck by her artistic talents as she read her novel, but to her dismay her mind remained a blank slate with not a single sketch or drop of color touching it. This was disheartening to say the least, but that didn’t keep a smile from tugging at her lips as she let her book carry her mind into another world.

At the current point in her book, two friends, both mares, were attending a small masquerade party. Unbeknownst to anypony at the party, the two were secretly lovers, but were they were in an arranged marriage with two other stallions. The marriages would end a feud between families while creating strong ties that would help benefit the community. They were taking advantage of the masquerade to spend time with one another and give into their desires for each other one last time before they must be betrothed.

One of them wanted nothing more than to make this night special before they sacrificed their happiness for the greater good. The other, however was not so willing. She wanted to do good, but sacrificing true love wasn’t worth it for what greater good could there be other than to find purest love in a harsh and unforgiving world?

Oh, how scandalous and tragic! Rarity thought with a small sigh. Inwardly she was raising a hoof to her head, leaning back with her eyes rolled up and letting off her overly dramatic sighs while falling back on an imagined fancy red sofa.

Her thoughts then began to wonder what it would be like to have a masquerade dress, but there were rarely any masquerade balls. Though it would be nice to have one on hoof. Rarity smiled as ideas started to form and began to wonder if she made her own line of masquerade dress that if they became so popular, the noble ponies might start to throw masquerades just as an excuse to wear her dresses. She found herself beaming at the thought as she set her book down and began to get to work.

Tuesday

A door swung inwardly to a dark, dank apartment. The only light was that which poured from the outside window. The lights of Manehatten were always a constant in the night, which is why the curtain business was so lucrative in this city.

The same door slammed shut as a pitch black stallion rubbed his throbbing head. His eyes scanned the room as he pushed his black mane out of his good eye while rubbing the swollen one tenderly.

The apartment had only the basic necessities. A table with two chairs, a sink with a cabinet above it, a fridge sat just to the side of the sink and on the other side of the room was a bed and a small bathroom next to it. Nothing else was here and it was all that this stallion needed and the only things he wanted to have here at the moment.

His cold, dark violet blue eyes scanned the room one more time before sighing and locking the door behind him. He then slowly made his way over to the fridge, wincing with each step as a bit of pain shot through him, causing a migraine to overtake his train of thought. His unicorn horn glowed with the violet dark purple energies as he opened the freezer and used his telekinesis to pull out an ice pack.

He winced as the cold bag touched his forehead, placing it mostly on his right eye. As the initial frosty pain subsided he let off a slight moan as a numbing relief overtook him. Licking his lips he pulled out some cold water he had ready and drank from it greedily, the chilling liquid easing his parched throat and drowned his anxieties.

A quick stretch and a crack of his neck occurred just before he started to complain out loud, “Geeze that was one mean left hook!” He drained the rest of his water and tossed the plastic in the sink. “I knew he could hit hard, but that felt like a wagon ran me over.” He limped over to the bathroom and let a soft glow erupt from his horn as he examined his bruised body and black eye that he had been covering with the ice pack.

He sighed at the damage, “Look at your self! Got the snot beat out of you by some caped hoodlum. You knew what he was capable of, but you still got too cocky! You were lucky to get away.” He rubbed one of the bruises and tensed up at the touch.

He shook his head. “You were on top of the world, making a real name for yourself and then you finally decide to play fair and what does that get you? Well its right in front of you!” he snarled out at his reflection.

His eyes trailed down to the sink, his breathing heavy and exhausted as he continued his little monologue, “You’ve got nothing now. Got dumped by your marefriend–” he cut himself off and then pointed a hoof at his reflection. “No! You dumped her! That’s how she’ll remember it and you made sure of it.”

A bit of sadness entered his eyes. “You’re falling down to rock bottom real fast.”

“And your talking to yourself,” a voice called out from behind.

“Yes, and you’re talking to your…” His eyes went wide and he turned around to find two stallions and a mare watching him. All three were unicorns. The two stallions looked like they could have been brothers. Dark green coats with pale white manes and the mare was a yellow with light green hair. However, one couldn't be sure if those were their true coat and mane colors. He could tell there was something very off about the stallions, but his attention focused on the mare who looked fairly bored.

The trio were wearing black robes with shades of dark purple and sickly green within. Obviously they were very well trained magic users. The black stallion was unimpressed. “Who are you and why should I care? And how did you get in my home for that matter?!” He nearly shouted, but restrained himself due to the thin walls. He tended to have complaints about noise, though it wasn’t from shouting. Usually it was... moaning.

The mare answered and then got straight to the point, “Magic. Now, Deimos we have a proposition–” she was quickly cut off by the one known as Deimos.

“How’d you know my real name?” He buzzed out with a bit of irritation.

“Please hold your questions. I’ll gladly explain any relevant inquiries you may have,” her reply merely got her a cold glare, but she ignored it. “We are from the Shadow Council and we have a job for you and from the sounds of it, you sound very available.”

Deimos strutted over to her, holding back his pained tears as he cockily answered, “Oh yes, I’m very available babe.” He winked causing the mare to blush a little bit, but give him a cold glare.

“Funny, weren’t you just talking about a marefriend?” She retorted, which caused him to back up slightly.

“Marefriend? What marefriend? I don’t have a marefriend. I’m very single and available as you put it.” He gave her a wide grin and she just frowned at him.

“Right…” She cleared her throat and continued, “Anyway, we have a job for you. We need you to keep a close eye on a certain unicorn to make sure he stays out of trouble while reporting back on his secret research. Somepony has very special interests in him and would prefer him to stay out of harms way.”

Deimos cocked and eyebrow. “And your wanting me, why? I know I have talents that would make it easy to get close to him, but don’t you have spies, assassins, and like ninjas to do this kind of stuff?”

“Yes, but we feel that you would be better suited. We believe he wouldn’t feel as threaten if he was aware of your presence than if one of our special operatives was watching him. Besides,” she trailed off for a moment as she pulled out a manila folder with her magic and floated it over to him. “We think you’ll take a special interest in this one.”

He grabbed the folder with his own magic and opened it. “So, I don’t have to be sneaky about this is what your saying?” He grinned coyly as she never said he couldn’t be seen or straight up walk up to his target.

She fidgeted under his gaze. “We would prefer a bit of subtly and the avoidance of any confrontation.”

Deimos chuckled, “And I’d prefer to do neither of those thing.,” He proceeded to examine the folders contents as the mare just gritted her teeth at him. He scanned through each document, containing a picture and some basic data about them such as height and age. “Let’s see, a spirit, that will be fun to deal with.” he then let off a whistle as he got to the red head mare, “Oh baby! I wouldn’t mind having her as a minion… oh,” he frowned as he read. “She’s one of them bloodsuckers!” His tongue stuck out in annoyance, “And finally we have…”

A wide grin spread across his face as he started to laugh whole heartedly. “Julius Grave! I haven’t seen him in years. Man we’re gonna have to catch up. So much to reminisce and so many stories to tell!”

“You’re not going there to catch up with him! You’re there to make sure he stays out of trouble and learn of anything useful he’s done over the past few years.” The mare’s temper for him was reaching its limits.

He waved a hoof dismissively. “Yeah, I know. I’ll do it, just to get away from this city and to meet up with an old friend.”

“Good to hear. We’ll need you to get to Ponyville by sometime next week. We’ll contact you when we want an update.” She finally cracked a smile, glad to be done with the fool.

“Alrighty, but there is one thing I should tell you before you go,” he started as he got close again, causing her two body guards to sneer at him as the mare looked into his eyes wondering what else there could be to discuss. “That’s a lovely cloak you have.” The mare was taken aback by the compliment, but then it was quickly followed by a more crude remark, “I’d bet it would look even better on my bedroom floor!”

Last thing Deimos remembered was having the mares right hoof get more in touch with his left eye.

Wednesday

Celestia rubbed her temples while lifting her crown lightly above her head with her magic. She let out a long sigh as she let her tiara rest lightly atop her head. Tired eyes peered down at the piles of reports and an ink bottle before her. She then turned her gaze away wanting to do nothing more than to look at something else that wasn’t made up of wood or ink.

She was in her private study, lying down on a large purple pillow with gold trimming while a soft glow of an evening fire warmed her. The whole room was made up of purples and blues, the hardwood floor decorated with many shapes, symbols, and patterns that served no other purpose than something interesting to look at. A potted plant sat on a small elevated table and not too far from the table was a rug hanging on the wall that depicted the night sky in shades of blue.

Celestia forced her pupils to meet the piles of reports before her again. Things had been very hectic and had quickly spiraled out of control after the events with the necromancer known only as Shop Keep, if that was even his real name. First her absence caused a slight panic among the nobles when she was late to court. She had slept in at the behest of her advisers so she wouldn’t be so exhausted. That would have been the end of it if there weren’t so many other problems showing up. Strange tidings to the north, crime sprees in Manehatten, the unsuccessful search for Shop Keep, and then there were a couple of disappearances.

The last thing was what was worrying her. Over the last several days some important contacts that were keeping tabs on either potential dark magic users, unscrupulous individuals, or had infiltrated some levels of Darkmoon Covenant had gone up and disappeared without a trace. And Celestia couldn’t help, but feel that it was all her fault. She had blabbed her knowledge to Shop Keep, never once thinking he’d be foolish enough or even capable of escaping while he was in her presence. They were never able to figure out how he did it, they guessed his wife might have aided him somehow, but that was only speculation at best.

She thought they would have found him by now, but no pony had seen or heard of him since he escaped that small town. Either he disappeared from the face of the world or ponies weren’t talking and feigning ignorance. The former seemed more likely at this point. She bet he was somehow involved with all the disappearances, but not directly. Possibly he got the information out about her knowledge, but she doubted he could know so many individuals to spread out so far.

There was a knock at her door and Celestia straightened her neck before hiding some of the more sensitive reports under the many stacks of paper. She cleared her throat and answered in her gentle regal voice, “Come in!”

The door cracked open and an alicorn slid right in. She was almost as big as Celestia and wearing a black tiara and regalia emblazoned with a silver crescent moon. Her coat was a dark midnight blue and her flank was marked with a black splotch that also had a silver crescent moon making it resemble the night sky. Her long mane and tail flowed much like Celestia’s, but instead resembled more of a blue night sky dotted with many specks of white that looked like stars.

Shutting the door behind her she unfolded her wings in delight, “Good evening dear sister! We hope thou art enjoying our night,” she spoke with traces of an old equestrian dialect. Something Celestia adored even if it was archaic.

She gave her little sister a smile as warm as her sun. “It is wonderful that you came to visit me Luna. Your night is as beautiful as always and brings me insurmountable joy!” Her smile broke as she partially lied on her last sentence. She had yet gotten to see Luna’s work as of this night, but she didn’t doubt for a moment that it wasn’t beautiful.

Luna face brightened up like her moon brightened the night sky at Celestia’s compliment. She trotted over with glee and laid beside her sister, giving a playful nuzzle as they each embraced the others comfort. “What keeps thou so busy tonight, dearest Tia?” She asked, using Celestia’s nickname that was only appropriate to use by… well only Luna.

“Oh, just the usual complaints from the nobles dearest Lulu. If I could harness all that steam they let off we’d have a never ending renewable energy resource.” Luna giggled at the joke. Celestia almost rarely saw Luna without a smile anymore. She was so much more cheerful these days, actually feeling appreciated for her night sky now and Celestia was thankful for that. The only problem now was her inclusion with the royal duties. She had been able to lighten Celestia’s load since her return from banishment, but it was still hard for the ponies to accept her as a co-ruler. However, Celestia was sure that in time everypony would be as comfortable going to Luna as they were with her.

She turned her head back to the reports and found herself thinking of the reports that were currently hidden. Specifically the one about the necromancer. They had discovered he was part of cult called the Children of the Night who had worshipped Luna or rather her envious persona, Nightmare Moon. She had been aware of the cult before Luna even returned and after her sister had been freed she did everything she could to keep that cult and any information about it away from her. She greatly feared the ramifications should Luna ever come in contact with their members.

Celestia was interrupted from her thoughts by Luna, “Sister, art thou well?”

Luna received a nod and a response, “You don’t need to stay with me, Lulu. You should enjoy your night.”

To Celestia surprise, Luna nuzzled her neck and closed her eyes. “We already are.” Celestia then craned her neck to embrace her sister’s comfort, a tearful smile spreading across her face.

Thursday

Detective Details stared out of his window and the quickly moving landscape, listening to the wheels move along the steel of the railroad tracks. Across from him was Giant Wall who had his eyes closed, but looked a bit irritated. Next to Giant Wall sat a pegasi mare in the usual soldier uniform of gold armor and a white coat. To Details' right was another unicorn, also part of the Equestrian Army. The yellow stallion was feeling a bit out of place.

They were on their way to Manehatten, their fruitless search for the necromancer lead them to start expanding to the further towns and cities. All of them were exhausted and were missing their homes and families. Giant Wall was bothered by how long it was taking to find one stallion and that not one single lead had been found. He was doing everything he could to control his rising temper and dwindling patience.

Details was also quite upset with the turn of events. He felt like he had failed everypony when he was unable to find anymore clues as to where their target could have galloped off to. He looked at the disheartened faces of the group and an idea came to him.

He perked up and gave them all a stupid grin. “I think I got something that will lighten the mood!” They all looked up to him expectantly. He used his magic and pulled out a small black box that could fit in his hoof as he announced his cure for their stress, “A nice cup of tea!”

They groaned and Giant Wall’s eye twitched. “Tea? That’s your idea?! The only thing that will make me feel better now is the news that we have caught this nuisance of a unicorn, can head home, and the chance to buck him in the face!” He gritted his teeth as he seethed with anger.

Details waved both of his hooves in the air defensively. “Easy big guy! I know we’re all not in the best of moods, but I assure you this tea will be just what the doctor ordered.” He got up and then peered out into the hall where he asked a service mare to bring some hot water and tea cups. He then retreated back to their private booth and sat back down with the rest.

“What’s so great about this tea?” Giant Wall muttered as he wanted to get his mind off of things.

Details just winked at him. “Oh, you’ll see!”

It wasn’t too long before their door opened and their server pushed in a little cart with a glass pitcher of hot water and four tea cups with little plates under them. Detail pulled down the blinds to keep the sun from getting in as their waitress left the cart with them and wished them a good day.

Details carefully opened the black box with his magic and a faint blue light emanated from within as he brought the cart closer to him. He reached in with his telekinesis and pulled a glowing blue petal. Giant Wall’s eyes widened. “Wait, is that one of those flowers you bought from that nec… err criminal?” They weren’t supposed to mention that the pony they were hunting was a necromancer in public areas or places that could easily be eaves dropped. The other two soldiers stared at the glowing petal in worry, not trusting anything that could have belonged to the hunted unicorn.

Details smiled and doused their worries, “Yes, I did buy it from him and he actually left it in his shop when he was expecting me to pick it up. Anyway, the petals aren’t dangerous. You can purchase petals of a Death’s Rose even from within Canterlot.” The knowledge that it wasn’t an illegal item put their minds at ease, but the name of the flower did not.

He let the petal fall into the pitcher and they could see the petal slowly dissolve and turn the water into a thick blue color, “It’s going to taste a little plain, but it will be the best cup of water you’ll have ever had!” He poured each of them a cup and magically lifted the cups to each to them before getting his own.

Giant Wall stared down into the scentless cup of glowing blue water, scrutinizing it till he finally gave a shrug and took a careful sip. His pupils dilated and he went from being tense and rigid to a peaceful and relaxed state. His muscles eased up and he leaned back as his whole body released every ounce of stress from his body. A small smile crept on his face and his eyelids drooped lazily as he let out a pleased sigh, “Whoa…”

Details let out a hearty chuckle with a smug smile he said, “Told you! It’s a special tea known as Blue Rose Bliss. It’s usually mixed with flavors, but gets the job done even with plain water. Best stress relieving drink you’ll ever have.” He then took his first sip and he quickly began to mimic his compatriot’s easy going state. The other two soldiers followed suit and the pent up anxieties began to leave the room.

The mare pegasi peered up from her drink and questioned Details, “Why haven’t I ever heard of this stuff? This is wonderful, I’d have one of these everyday if I could.”

Details frowned only slightly before his faint smile returned. “Well, the petals are slow to harvest and the flowers are incredibly rare. It also doesn’t help that most ponies that get a hold of the petals tend to sell them for overly exorbitant prices. Good luck finding somepony selling it, let alone being able to afford it.”

“Well that sucks. I could think of many times when I could have used this. So, what else can you do with those petals?” Giant Wall asked as he took another relaxing sip.

“I know it has some magical uses, but I’m not too familiar with what those are. I just use it to make one of the two teas,” He explained and took a bigger sip this time, causing his smile to grow wider as he felt like he was floating on a cloud.

“What’s the other tea?” Giant Wall asked again as he finished his cup and carefully poured another for himself. He didn’t feel like he was gripping hard, but the pitcher remained firmly in his hoof.

Details' face become somber and he answered, “The other is called Eternal Bliss.”

The mare’s wings quickly opened up with excitement. “Sounds wonderful! I’d love to try some of that.”

Detail gave her a cold glare causing her wings to droop and shed away some of her joy. “No! No you do not. Eternal Bliss is only ever drank by somepony who no longer has the will to live.” They all stared at him with their mouths agape.

The mare hesitated to ask as she struggled to find the energy to stop staring with her mouth open at him. “You mean… it–”

He cut her off quickly, “Yes, it kills whoever drinks it. Thus, granting them the eternal bliss that is death. I heard it's supposed to be completely painless and the most pleasant way to die. Only problem is that the ingredients are so rare and expensive you’d never be able to get it. It’s pretty much reserved only for the incredibly wealthy and incredibly depressed.” He shook his head at the foolishness of trying to kill oneself if they were so well off.

The unicorn next to him leaned in and lazily stated, “You sure know a lot about this tea,” he observed as he finished his cup.

Detective Details looked at each and every one of them before he confessed, “I once tried to make the tea for myself.” All their faces fell as worry started to fight its way out of the stress relieving tea. Details waved his hoof dismissively at their concern. “That was a long time ago. I’m well passed it now and I’m far happier now.” He gave them all a wide smile and offered to pour them some more tea. They all returned his smile and held out their cups as their minds returned them to more cheerful thoughts while the train carried them onward.

Friday

It had been a fairly uneventful week for Twilight and her friends. Just the usual stuff, another party from Pinkie Pie, Rarity trying to dress Rainbow Dash in the most frou-frou dresses imaginable, Applejack dealing with the antics of her sister and the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Rainbow still reading through the latest Daring Do novel, and Fluttershy accidentally causing an invasion of Monarch Butterfly’s that nearly took over the entire town. You know, a normal week for them.

Twilight was currently checking out the progress of the new construction project that had started nearly a week ago. Fluttershy and Applejack were currently there while Spike was with Rarity at the Carousel Boutique helping the fashionetta with a new dress line.

The fairly large house before them was nearly done, with mostly just painting needing to be finished. A little while ago an inspector had just finished examining the structure and approved it on the quality and safety. The girls had gotten a chance to stop him to ask what it was like in there and he confirmed that the entrance was very much built with a shop in mind. The crew was even starting to bring in boxes filled with unknown supplies. This now lead them to wonder, what kind of shop was it going to be?

Applejack looked the nervous of the three as she looked onward at the two storied home which was a mixture of purples, blues, and a bit of green. She was the first to speak up, “I’m not likin’ it.”

“The colors?” Squeaked Fluttershy as she stood a little further away from the building and its crew than her friends.

“No, no, I’m talkin’ about it bein ‘nother shop. They ain’t tellin’ us what their sellin’. What could it be that they need ta keep it a secret?” She shuffled around a bit then started to jump to conclusions, “What if they gonna sell some fancy shmancy imported apples?!”

Twilight patted Applejack on the back. “Oh AJ, no pony will want any other apple than the best in town and that’s always been the Apple family’s apples!”

She took a deep breath a sighed with a nod, “Yeah, yer right Twi. Dunno what I was thinkin. We got the best darn tootin apples in all of Equestria! What do I have to be worried about?” A grin formed on her as she pushed her Stetson up slightly.

The red mane foreman, who was now looking a lot happier, scoured through the plans to make sure he hadn’t missed a thing. If even one thing was forgotten they could expect a major pay cut regardless of how small it was. As he thoroughly checked, double and even triple checked the plans a butterfly landed before him. Seeing the winged insect sparked him to immediately crush the defenseless creature from underhoof. The result was the spread of gore and a very audible shriek followed by the fainting form of Fluttershy.

Her friends were immediately to her side trying to wake her up. They weren’t happy by this, but they understood why he would act that way. The butterfly invasion had really put them behind schedule and had made the red mane unicorn a nervous wreck. It took him better part of two days to get the twitch out of his eye, but through perseverance and a bit of luck things were going to be completed just in time.

Twilight and Applejack started to carry Fluttershy home, both looking back one last time and wondering what was in store for them and the town.


Julius rubbed his shoulders as he traded places with Femme for pulling their trailer. He stretched out and stared up into the night sky as he gave a crack of his neck. He was given Ecto’s dream catcher and he slipped it on. From within the odd artifact Ecto could see out into the world while remaining unseen. Julius and Femme might be able to wander about without a care as to who sees them, but ghost certainly can’t. Femme was also in disguise, able to hide her wings and have a less pale color coat more closely resembling manilla instead of white.

What happened next was the beginning of an ancient ritual that had taken place over the past week as they had traveled the road. “Are we there yet?” Ecto chirped from the stone within the dream catcher.

“No,” Julius deadpanned.

Not five seconds later Ecto asked again, “Are we there yet?”

“No…” Femme responded in the same monotone voice Julius had used.

Thirty seconds later. “Are we there yet?”

“No.”

“Are we there yet?”

“No…”

“Are we there yet?”

“No!”

About a minute later this time. “Are we there yet?”

“NO!!!!” Julius and Femme answered in an angered unison.

“Are we–”

Julius cut her off this time, “Ecto! For five minutes! Please. Be. Quiet.”

And for a beautiful moment in time there was peace and tranquility as they traveled along the road, uninterrupted. Only the quiet and beauty of the night was there to disturb them and neither Julius nor Femme minded that. Then after exactly five minutes on the dot. “Are we there yet?”

“Ecto! We’ll get there when we get there so stop asking! Just… find something else to do.” Julius was so annoyed and desperate to just have some peace of mind and much to his joy Ecto stopped asking if they had arrived.

There was some very audible bored sighs from Ecto. A bit annoying, but far more preferable than her constantly bothering them with the same inane question over and over again.

She sighed a few more times before a thought came to her head and she started to sing, “It’s a small world after all…”

“Aughh!” Julius screamed out as he covered his ears. “Are we there yet?!”

“Yes!” Femme elated as she pointed to Ponyville and the Everfree forest off in the distance.

Julius let out a long hysteric cry, “Oh, thank you sweet Luna!” He then began to gallop with Femme in tow. They were taking the long way around town to enter from the side closest to the Everfree forest, a necessary precaution as they wanted to hide their trailer and get to their new home with as little attention as possible.

As they finally approached the forest’s edge they were stopped by two unicorns, an earth pony stallion, and a bunch of other ponies dressed as construction workers. The dark blue unicorn who had acted as the night foreman stepped forward, “I’ve got a cave for sell. You interested in buying?”

Julius had to think for a moment before he remembered the correct response, “As long as it’s dark and has a bed I couldn’t ask for more.” He held out his hoof and the two shook it.

The red mane unicorn yawned, “I’m out of here, I’ll meet you at the rendezvous once your finished here.” He and the earth pony trotted off leaving the crew with Julius and company.

The unicorn cleared his throat, “We’ve been expecting you and we have a place ready to hide your vehicle and a secret entrance, one of many, into your new abode. I think you’ll find it to be the highest of standards.”

Femme was a bit wary, “Why are we being given such luxury?”

The blue unicorn simply shrugged. “I don’t know and it is none of my business. I can only assume you have some very good friends. Now, if you will please follow me.” He motioned with his hoof as he lead them and the other crew members to a spot at the edge of the forest, but far out of view of the town. He revealed a large wooden shack that would only show itself by activating a stone with a hidden magic seal on it and saying a password that they could change at a whim.

Hiding their trailer inside the shack they were pointed to an ordinary rock, but pushing in the right places revealed a secret underground path “This is one of the entrances to your underground base located just below your home. I’ve left you with a map that holds all routes and escape tunnels.”

“Great! We’ll just need to unload, though it’s going to take awhile.” Julius looked to his trailer and sighed, thinking of all the things to unpack and how long it would take.

“Oh, allow your servants to help you with that,” The unicorn chimed in, causing both him and Femme to give him a blank stare.

Femme quickly questioned him, “Our servants?”

With a wide grin he motioned to the large crew and gave them a nod and they all began to take off their hoods, safety goggles, and masks to reveal a pony bone head on each of them. Julius jaw dropped as he realized all of them were undead and the blue unicorn gave a chuckled. “These here are the ones who helped build your new home and will continue to serve and guard you. They will patrol your underground routes and do anything thing else for you if need be, but I trust you won’t have them go out in the broad daylight? At least not without some sort of disguise,” he warned sternly.

“Yeah… sure, absolutely,” Julius replied, dumbfounded by how much special treatment he was getting. He began to wonder who he knew that could possibly pull so many strings to get him a new home and all of this protection. As he pondered all of the possibilities the undead began to unpack their carriage at Femme’s order. Ecto Burst had also left the safety of her dream catcher to greet her fellow undead, even though they were fairly mindless.

Femme gave him a nudge and kiss on the cheek, “A good start, wouldn’t you say?” she smirked and rubbed his goatee, causing him to curse under his breath for forgetting he still had the little beard.

He smiled back at her though and pulled her in for a close hug, “Yeah, I think its great start.”

Saturday

Twilight looked up from her breakfast of oats to the sounds of knocking on her door. Her ears perked up and she scooted out from the table and cantered over to the front door. Spike was eating a bowl full of gems and hopped down from his seat while taking the bowl of dragon food with him, taking another bite every few steps as he ran over to Twilight.

“Spike, you really shouldn’t eat while running,” She berated him with a motherly tone as she opened her front door. It was Rarity and Pinkie Pie and they looked very excited.

Spike swayed back and forth as he got lost in the eyes of his crush, Rarity, who was smiling brightly, but at Twilight. Pinkie on the other hoof was bouncing up and down, grinning like a fool with her eyes closed. “Twilight, Twilight! You’ve gotta come see! You’re not going to believe it!” Pinkie got right up into her face, oblivious to Twilight's discomfort.

Rarity thankfully pulled the party pony back, giving her some space. “Oh yes darling. You of all ponies will appreciate this!”

“Appreciate what?” Twilight queried, wondering what could possibly have gotten the two so excited for her.

“Ooo, ooo! You know that super secret shop that was being built, but wasn’t really a secret because everypony knew about it, but no pony knew what they were building because they wanted it to be all a surprise and stuff. Which I can totally get because I throw surprise parties all the time and everypony loves surprises because that never see it coming and it makes them so happy and I love seeing everypony smile which is why I throw surprise parties and stuff. Anyway that new shop is a….” Pinkie’s rambling was cut off by Rarity’s hoof.

The alabaster pony smiled sweetly at Pinkie and suggested, “Pinkie, don’t you think Twilight would want to be surprised as to what new accommodation our lovely town has acquired?”

Pinkie gasped, “Your right Rarity! I can’t believe I almost ruined the surprise! What are we waiting for? I want to see Twilight's face when she sees it!” The pink pony jumped for joy as she started to bounce away from the library.

“Seriously though Twilight, you are going to want to see this,” Rarity said reassuringly.

“Just let me clean up breakfast and I’ll be right out,” replied Twilight as she and spike (after dragging the love struck dragon away from the door) started to clean the dishes of their breakfast up. It wasn’t too long before they were trotting along side Rarity to check out the newest shop in town and the surprises that awaited inside.

Author's Note:

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

UPDATE 3/9/2014:
- Another late night update. Cleaned up the chapter and I'm nearly done with all the chapters I need to fix.

NOTES:
- Was meant to be a bit of a filler chapter, but I managed to put a little bit of important information in it.
- This chapter style was a good way for me to catch up on all characters we previously met instead of devoting an entire chapter to them. I also introduced another important character. We’ll get to him soon enough.
- Small retcon. When I wrote this chapter I was still deciding on names for the different divisions of these underworld groups. I took out the part where the mare didn't know what Shadow Council's true name. It was only there cause I hadn't chosen a name yet. Also I took out a few other small things. As you get further you'll see more defined names of groups of individuals.
-Was also gonna retcon the warlock mares coat color, but thought it be easier to say she was in disguise.