• Published 12th Nov 2012
  • 1,728 Views, 11 Comments

Rising Night - StLeibowitz

A meeting with a dark pegasus in the Archives thrusts Twilight into a world she never knew existed.

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Chapter 2

The practice spheres thudded heavily to the floor for a third time, slipping from Twilight’s telekinetic grasp as another burst of pain made it through her anesthetic enchantment and broke her concentration. She didn’t dare take her bandage off in front of the princess; everything was perfectly under control after all, what kind of mage would she be if she couldn’t take care of a pony bite? She wasn’t technically allowed in the Archives after hours, either – exposing her injury could jeopardize her frequent visits in the quiet of night. Grimacing in pain and concentration, she reached out again and seized the spheres once more, beginning to move them through a few complicated control exercises.

The polished stone orbs whirled rapidly about, tracing out figure eights, co-orbitals, triskelions, pentacles, and faces. Her concentration didn’t slip again, despite another burst of pain from her foreleg. She laughed a little; she could do this! Everything was perfectly under control.

She felt the flow of energy to her horn suddenly slacken, then surge rapidly as if some blockage had formed and been removed. The spheres dipped in their paths and then shot off at high velocities beyond any normal pony’s control. Twilight ducked one of the spheres as it fired straight at her head and heard the sharp crack of stone shattering on shield as Celestia intercepted it.

“You seem a bit…distracted, today, Twilight.” The Princess of the Sun commented. “Does it have anything to do with your leg?”

“I doubt it. I feel a migraine coming on.” She rubbed her temple with her good forehoof; she did indeed notice the warning signs of a killer headache’s approach. She hated what she was going to have to do next, but there was little choice. “Princess Celestia, may I take today off? I’m not feeling well enough to continue my studies for now.”

“Of course, Twilight. I understand.” Celestia gave an understanding smile to back up her assertion. “I’ll check in on you tomorrow morning in your quarters to see if you are fit to continue then. You’re certain there is no larger problem I should know of?”

“Certain.” Twilight replied, and trotted past the Princess and out the door. She would have to reach her quarters as quickly as possible to avoid embarrassing herself in public. Magic-induced migraines sometimes came with…unique side effects. She had accidentally turned her coat bright red while in the throes of one when she had been a filly; she had no desire to accidentally turn somepony walking the Palace halls into a fly or a puddle or something equally difficult to reverse.

She was in the main hall when the full force of the migraine hit. Squinting her eyes against the suddenly bright lighting, she tried to puzzle out where her room was located, but her horn had other ideas. A surge of power flowed unbidden to its tip, despite the unicorn’s best efforts to suppress it, and the horn was ensconced in a bright glow as it tried to drag her forwards.

A seeking spell! She realized. Thank Celestia. I could have sworn this would be much worse.

It got worse. As the horn tugged her forward, she put her full weight on the wounded leg. The sudden shock of pain, combined with the magical migraine, caused darkness to close in on the corners of her vision. Despite her best efforts, the blackness constricted her line of sight to a pinprick before snuffing vision out altogether and sending the unicorn dropping into the pit of unconsciousness, horn still dragging her through the palace.

She awoke in a dark room, devoid of furniture beyond large cobwebs hanging in the corners. She was on her side, breathing deeply and evenly. Her leg throbbed, but the migraine appeared to have gone; instead, her main ailment now seemed to be the deep ache she felt in her eyes and jaw. With painful slowness, she lifted herself to her hooves again, keeping the bitten foreleg off the ground.

Where am I? She looked around for any hints to her location. It’s old and dusty, and the air is still; no air conditioning, then. Only the older portions of the Palace lack the heating ducts that were installed last century, so I must be in there, then. She groaned. This would be a fun predicament to get out of. The older parts of the palace were known for their…interesting design schemes; Discord would have been right at home in some of the more ancient halls, and several parts of the closed-off corridors seemed to incorporate impossible, magically-sustained geometries that made retracing your steps a chore.

The room had three doors in it. One, slightly ajar, appeared to be her entrance and likely exit as well. The other two were closed securely; of them, the one directly across from the entrance was unlocked. Curiosity overriding caution once as it had in her encounter in the Archives, she twisted the doorknob and edged into the chamber beyond.

She jumped back in surprise as she found herself facing a life-size portrait of…somepony. Head tilted, she considered the image, leaning unceremoniously against the wall and covered in a thick layer of dust. Clearing the worst off with a simple spell she had devised for books, she exposed more of the thing than the two eyes she had come face-to-face with.

The portrait was of a blue pony, her coat as dark as midnight, with a mane that looked to be cut from the same material that the night sky was made of. To Twilight’s surprise, she had both wings and a horn – an alicorn! Wasn’t Celestia the only one? The unicorn searched the bottom of the ornate silver frame for an inscription of some sort, giving the name of the subject. Ah! Here it is.

Luna, Dea Noctis ex Equestria et Coregina d’Equi. Luna, Goddess of the Equestrian Night and Queen of Ponies. Both titles reserved for Princess Celestia now, and only on the most formal of occasions. Had this been her predecessor? No, the use of coregina as opposed to simply regina implied a Diarchy, not a monarchy. Twilight had enough of a familiarity with High Unicornian to recognize the difference between the words, despite the fact that they made no sense. Puzzled, she left to try the second door.

Door number two concealed a far more impressive set of rooms than door number one. Twilight found herself in a richly decorated antechamber, floor tiled in black marble flecked with quartz, walls painted in silver and midnight blue, with green moss draped on the lip of the room’s boundaries to drape down along the edges. Each strand of moss was festooned with dozens of tiny white flowers, closed tightly.

Where was she? She couldn’t recall any part of the palace that looked anything like this at all. The floor tiling, the color scheme, the plants – none of these were familiar.

Oh, no. She sank to the floor as she realized what must have happened – all signs pointed to it being correct. I must have teleported! I’m not in the palace at all, am I? It explains everything – I must have teleported into another nation’s palace! Never mind that she knew of no other alicorn-run nation anywhere in the known world; that only made things worse! If she found a map in here, she probably wouldn’t even see her homeland on it at all. She would have to find somepony to talk to, explain her situation, maybe try to find a job as a librarian in a small town that she could use to isolate herself from gawkers…

…assuming she wasn’t arrested for espionage first. She buried her face in her forelegs. This was not how she had imagined her day going at all. The prospect of never seeing her parents or her mentor again brought tears to her eyes.

After about an hour of wallowing in despair and the last fading vestiges of her migraine, she dejectedly trudged back to the open doorway in the previous room and pulled it open further. With a crack of bone on wood, she slammed headfirst into a wooden wall brace.

What the hay?

The door was sealed by plaster and wood framework, as if it had been covered up at some point and forgotten. She really must have teleported, then; there was no other way into these depressingly lit…okay, completely unlit…How am I able to see? Had she cast a night vision spell too? She didn’t feel any of the usual drain on her magic that a sustained enchantment would usually cause. Pushing that thought aside for now, she turned around and gave the plaster a sharp buck. Might as well get the espionage trial over with.

Then she turned around and felt two burning knives bury themselves in her eyes.

Twilight only removed her head from her hooves after she had crawled over into the darkest corner she could find and faced herself away from the light. That had hurt; like being stabbed in the face by a spear made of fire. The afterimage of the hole she had made still floated in the center of her field of view; apparently, she had teleported to a secret room inside of the sun.

Cautiously, she glanced at the door that the brilliant light glimmered through. Her eyes adjusted, but not nearly enough that she could look at it comfortably. With a slight exertion of will, she called up her magic and forced it into a spell, envisioning a pair of sunglasses she had once seen a mare wearing. The room darkened considerably, but at least she wasn’t blinded by the light. She peeked through the hole she had bucked in the plaster and breathed a sigh of relief. There would be no espionage trial after all.

Through the damaged wall, she could see the familiar white marble flooring and pastel walls of Canterlot palace. Her room was directly across the hall from where she stood; now that she thought about it, the color scheme in the garden room had been similar to her own chambers – which had carpeted flooring. She used magic to blast a hole in the wall large enough to walk through and trotted back to her quarters.

Once inside, she lifted a corner of her room’s carpeting with magic; sure enough, the floor was the same quartz-flecked black marble that the garden room had. But why had that portion been sealed up? More research was required, she decided, and resolved to fully explore beyond the doors she had seen in the garden. As she was leaving, though, she caught sight of her reflection in the glass covering a picture of her and her parents from the previous Hearth’s Warming Day. Something was wrong.

With a quick application of magic, the glass became fully reflective. Her eyes widened – at least, she thought they were hers. She couldn’t remember ever having slit pupils before, even though the eye color was the same. She bared her teeth, seized with a sudden suspicion of what she would find; sure enough, she now possessed two stubby, sharp fangs.

How did this happen? She stared at her image like a deer caught in a spotlight. Was it that pegasus that bit me?

It had to be, of course. There was no other explanation; she had had eyes like Twilight’s were now, and the holes in her foreleg were enough proof that she had possessed fangs as well. The unicorn reached the conclusion that her seeming ability to see in the dark and her painful sensitivity to normal light levels were related to this as well.

There was no way she could return to her studies now – not looking like some monster from a foal’s book. She would have to figure out some way to hide her appearance, an illusion spell powerful enough to fool Princess Celestia during hours of close contact every day of the week…her horn ached just thinking about it. There was no way she would be able to maintain a spell like that! She may have the raw power, but she lacked the skill – and Celestia was clueless about illusion magic. She would be no help in devising a disguise to fool her, even if that concept wasn’t self-defeating.

Although, she realized, I would only need to disguise my pupils and my teeth. That shouldn’t be nearly as difficult as a full-body illusion.

Almost unconsciously, the magic flowed, reshaping the reflection of her pupils back to their original rounded shape, and whittling her fangs down back to what they should be. Pleased with the spell and deeming the resultant drain on her magic acceptable, the lavender unicorn galloped back out of her room to find Celestia. She had a lesson to continue – and then, tonight, more research to do. Whatever had bitten her in the Archives, she was no pegasus; Twilight did not intend to remain in the dark about her nature for long.