• Published 12th Jan 2013
  • 11,691 Views, 566 Comments

The Demon's Angel - Radiant Dawn

Wake up, go to work, be a human...but what if this all changed by the arrival of someone special? How much will change, and will it be a good change? Most of all, how important is your universe to you?

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Chapter 20: Thunderhead

Chapter 20: Thunderhead

Like most nights, I found myself not needing sleep, so I simply relaxed with my eyes closed as I held the two smaller pegasi in my arms, relishing in the warmth of their bodies and the softness of their fur. Much as I liked it, I would never be able to bring myself to tell Dash and Scoots that I could literally spend all day just holding them...feeling their warmth against my own body and feeling their breathing and heartbeat against my chest.

Dash would never let me live down something so sappy.

Today was an important day for me though, as it was the last day before I left for the mission Lil had for me. I had to make the most of it, because no matter the pony, three weeks was a long time to be away from loved ones...especially when the loved ones were as awesome as mine. The six ponies that meant the everything to me were unique in their own right, and though I was only in love with one, I cared for and loved them all.

Rainbow Dash...the love of my life. Though I’d never use the term out loud, it was as much a truth as the fact that I was the skylord, or a draconian. She was one of the reasons I smiled every day, and was the one who constantly kept me on my toes as far as sarcasm or jokes.

Scootaloo. The young filly was a lover from my past, and though I did not care for her in that way at the present time, she was still as valuable to me as my wings. In many ways, she was my wings. She lifted my spirits when I was feeling low, and her youthful attitude reminded me to play and enjoy myself. She helped to remind me not to judge simply by looks alone, as her maturity surprised me time and time again.

Applejack was the sister I never had, but always wanted. She was a tough no-nonsense girl that could work out in the fields all day without a second thought...but at the same time, she was as soft and loving as anyone could be. Her deep reservoir of love that she held for her friends and family constantly surprised me, and her unshakable honesty was often blunt, but always welcome.

Dear, sweet Fluttershy. The often-timid mare was every bit as kind and loving as the princesses themselves, and her loving warmth could melt the ice off of even the most cold and barren heart. Thoughtful and caring, the mare was doing what she truly loved by tending to the animals that often stayed in or around her house, and there was not a doubt in my mind that she would be able to calm even the most anger-ridden pony. She was the only pony I could honestly say loved everyone she came to know, no matter how big, small, young, or old. Her heart was easily as large or larger than that of Celestia, and her kindness truly knew no bounds.

Celestia was quite possibly the strongest person I had ever known. She had weathered centuries of hardship, and ruled an entire kingdom while still keeping a startling amount of her people happy...nearly all of them. In addition to that, she cared more for her ponies than she did herself, often working well into the later hours of the day to assure her subjects were happy and well taken care of. She was benevolent to all who met her, and yet I sensed she would not hesitate to destroy any threat to her people, should it come to such a thing. More than anything though, her strength was proven by banishing Luna to the moon for a millennium. Many ponies that did not know her personally did not think this was very serious, but in fact, it nearly destroyed her. To those that were close to her, it was clear that Celestia loved her younger sister more than her own life...and so in sending her away, it caused her to give up hope. She told me stories of days when the sun would rise an hour late, just so she could look at the moon a little longer. And, she told me of a time she once attempted suicide because of her loneliness. Thankfully for her people, she was unsuccessful, but it was a testament to just how much sending away her sister had damaged her. And yet, she overcame that. She still ruled her people and looked forward to the day when Luna would return.

I only hoped that one day, I could be half as strong as her.

Lastly but certainly not least, was Luna. Long ago, she was my wife...my queen. We had remained close through the eons, and little to nothing had ever broken us apart. She had been forced to trudge through my death, and was now forced to watch me have the love of another. Even with this being the case, she still loved me...and with honesty serving true, I loved her. Just like Dash, I would always love Luna. There was a bond that transcended life itself that held us together, and not even separate romantic interests could ever break that. Was it awkward sometimes? Of course...but we knew it would not change anything. The thing that Luna constantly reminded me of was the fact that even in our darkest times, we always have a choice to be the bright and shining light of the world, both for ourselves and our people. Luna also taught me that our mistakes will always be a part of us...but they do not have to define us. Her corruption by the entity that made her Nightmare Moon was proof of that, because after her cleansing, she had reverted to the pony she was before.

These six ponies helped me hold onto the world and not become the monster I could be with the amount of power at my disposal...as well as the instincts that constantly screamed at me to hunt, hoard treasure, and mate with as many females as I could.

Let’s just say I’m thankful that Dash has a high sex drive.

Nearly an hour and a half into the dawn, Dash and Scootaloo began to stir, each stretching their wings and groaning as the bones popped.

“Ah...that felt good.” Rainbow Dash remarked as her back popped a few times.

“Ew...” Scootaloo commented, a rather disgusted look on her face.

I chuckled and allowed my wings to lift me up off the bed, stretching out the coiled muscles and feeling a pleasant tension release as I did so. I then looked to the two pegasi and asked, “So what do the two of you feel like doing today?” I looked to the schedule on my bedroom wall that Dash had been kind enough to give to me and noted that today was supposed to be cool and overcast. “Seems like a pretty simple day so far as weather is concerned, so I thought maybe we could go see the princesses today.”

Scootaloo’s eyes widened at this, and she nodded furiously. “That would be so cool! I’ve never gotten to meet the princesses face-to-face!”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea, Koa?” Dashie asked as she shook out her mane and tail. “I mean, I know you’re chummy with them, but I’m sure they have better things to do than hang out all day.”

I smirked. “You see, that would normally be true had Luna not personally filed all of the tax forms, met with the nobles, helped to plan the Grand Galloping Gala for next year, and made sure the Canterlot weather teams were scheduled correctly for the next month. Usually Cel takes care of all that, but Luna’s noticed lately that she’s been working herself too hard...like she normally does this time of year.”

“So she figured she’d lend a hoof and help her.” Dash finished for me. I nodded, causing her to smile. “Now see? That’s an awesome sister. So I take it you kinda planned this then?”

I shrugged. “You’ve got a short workday, Scoots is out of school because it’s Saturday, and I have nothing to do until nightfall...so yeah, I kinda planned it a little.”

She stared at me for a moment before patting my wing. “You’re awesome, you know that?”

“Just trying to keep up with you, Dash.” I remarked, causing both pegasi to giggle. I then jerked my head to follow, adding, “Come on, I’ll make us some breakfast before you get going, and we can meet outside the town hall.”

”Alright, I’ll meet you two outside the town hall later!” Dash shouted as she soared away, heading towards the weather factory of Cloudsdale.

“So what do we do until then?” Scootaloo asked from beside me. “We have a few hours to kill until she’s done.”

I reached down and picked up the filly, placing her up on my shoulder. “Hmm...how about we go visit Sweet Apple Acres first. Your friends should be there today, right?”

She nodded. “Yep.”

“Cool.” I replied with a grin. “I’ll see if AJ needs any help then, and you can see your friends in the meantime.”

“Koa?” she asked softly, and I looked to see her smiling hopefully. “Do you think that maybe Applebloom and Sweetie Belle could come with us?”

I shrugged. “I personally don’t have a problem with it, so long as their sisters say it’s alright. If they want to go, you need to tell them to ask their sisters about it.”

Scootaloo bounced excitedly on my shoulder, and replied, “This is gonna be so cool!”

I chuckled as we walked through the town, noting the many friendly waves and smiles I received from the residents, as well as more than a few confused and curious expressions asking why the orange filly was with me, riding on my shoulder. I simply put the questioning glances out of mind...it wasn’t their business, and their often-incorrect inferences about the situation didn’t really bother me anymore.

“So Koa...” Scootaloo began nervously, “will you be able to come home sooner if your job-thingy goes fast?”

I shrugged, not really knowing myself. “All I heard from Cel is that I can expect to be on the job for at least three weeks...I don’t know much more than that, and for my own safety as well as everypony else’s, she’s not telling me anymore than that until I meet her tomorrow morning.”

She sighed and nodded her head, which I saw from my peripheral vision to the right. “I guess that’s gonna have to do.”

I reached my hand to my shoulder and took one of Scootaloo’s forelegs in it, the small limb just fitting in my palm. “I know that Dash is technically the grown-up, but I want you to watch out for her, okay? She’s going to get really lonely without me around, and she doesn’t do so well with loneliness.”

“You want me to keep watch over Rainbow Dash?” she asked skeptically.

I nodded. “And I’m going to ask the same thing of Fluttershy and Applejack. She’s going to need her friends while I’m gone.” I thought for a moment before sighing. “She’d hate me to tell you this, but she’s actually really sensitive at heart...even more so because she hasn’t had much practice with her feelings.”

“Neither have I.” Scootaloo replied dryly.

I nodded. “Perhaps that’s true, but all the same you are one of the ones that knows her best, and as much as I hate it, you’ve had a lot of practice dealing with loneliness.”

I continued walking towards the large farm that was looming behind the hill I crested, and Scootaloo had gone completely silent. I had come to know her well enough by now to recognize when she was thinking, but I also knew that she tended to like to work things out herself, whether it be thinking, a new trick, or even flying. So, I kept the silence comfortable by softly rubbing the hoof I held with my thumb, hopefully adding to a more relaxing atmosphere for her.

“Koa?” she whispered, her tone suggesting she was rather worried about something.

No longer at odds with myself or my speech, I simply responded, “Yes little one?”

I felt as the filly fidgeted nervously. “What if...” she began, only to sigh and lean against my head, “what if...something happens?”

She didn’t need to say more...I knew exactly what she meant. In honesty, the possibility of me not returning one of these times had crossed my mind quite a lot. As far as I was concerned, so far I’d gotten lucky...but that luck might not last much longer. I was well aware that I was not immortal, felt pain, and could be killed. After all, it had happened in the past when I was married to Luna, and whether it was another assassin or a large screw-up on my part, the possibility always existed...

I could lose my life.

“Scoots, I want you to listen to me closely, okay?” I began, and I felt as the filly’s head turned to look at me. “I’m not going to lie to you or skew the truth, because I believe it’s important that you and all the others know exactly what’s at stake here.” I saw her nod from the corner of my vision, so I sighed and continued. “I can’t promise you that nothing will happen...and I think you know that. “ Again she nodded. “Well, the very reason I’m doing these things is because they’re too dangerous for anypony else to do, and while I’ve yet to come across a situation I couldn’t handle, there’s always the possibility for the worst to happen.” I moved my hand to the back of her head, and stroked my hand through her mane lovingly. “If something should ever happen to me, I want you to be strong. That doesn’t mean don’t cry and that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel sad and depressed that I’m gone...what it means is that I don’t want it to beat you. I don’t want you to lose the will to live...because I’d like to think I taught you more about life than that. What I’d want you to do is live your life, knowing that someday, we’ll meet again. I’ll never truly leave you, Scoots...I care about you too much.”

I could tell that she was trying not to think of the worst, but she still graced me with a determined nod. “Okay Koa...I’ll be strong.”

“I know you will.” I replied with a smile. I then turned my eyes to the path in front of us and smiled. “Well here we are. You go and see your friends...I have something I need to talk about with Applejack.”

The filly nodded and sped away towards the rear of the property, leaving me heading for the open farmhouse.

I was near-family with the Apples, so I didn’t think twice of it as I simply knocked on the open door frame and entered the home, and saw Applejack and Big Macintosh sitting at the table with several large baskets of washed vegetables, separating them into different piles.

Applejack looked up at me and smiled. “Well howdy, Koa. How you doin’?”

I smiled in return as I made my way over to the two Apples. “I’m doing just fine, AJ.” I then looked to the large red stallion, who looked a little worse for the wear. “How are you feelin’, Mac?”

The burly pony shrugged with a sigh. “Threw mah back out. Doctor said Ah can work again when we get tha new plow.”

I thought of what day it was before shrugging. “A few more days then. Not too much longer, just be more careful, bud.” The stallion nodded before getting back to sorting vegetables, so I sat down at the table next to AJ. “So what are you two doing exactly?”

“Sortin’ vegetables.” the mare replied as she continued her work. “Already washed ‘em, now we gotta sort out tha bad ones ta use fer a compost heap.”

I nodded. “Sounds good. I’ll lend you a hand then.”

The orange farm mare smiled gratefully and pointed at a basket behind her. “Haven’t started on that one yet. Grab it and get sortin’. Ah’ll fix us a nice lunch after we’re done.”

The sorting didn’t take too long, and it was mindless enough that it allowed me to just stop thinking for once, and enjoy a bit of silence in my mind...and the good meal of apples, a few carrots, and apple juice relaxed me.

As we all sat at the table, I thought it would be a good time to bring up the matter with my little “field trip” today, so I cleared my throat and called, “AJ?”

The mare swallowed the juice she was drinking and then looked to me. “Yeah Koa?”

“I was going to take a little trip to Canterlot today, to visit the princesses, and Scoots is coming with me.” I began, also taking a drink of the sweet beverage provided to me. “And she asked if your sister and Sweetie Belle could come with. What do you think?”

“Ah don’ know. Mac, whaddaya think?” AJ replied cautiously.

“Well,” the red stallion began, pushing his empty plate away, “she’ll have Koa ta look out fer her, an’ she knows ta be respectful to her elders.”

The orange mare nodded before turning back to me. “Well, Ah don’ see a problem with it then. Jus’ have her back b’fore midnight.”

I nodded and stood before taking all of the dishes to the sink and dropping them off. “Sounds good, AJ. You need help with the dishes and such?”

The mare shook her head with a smile. “Ah appreciate tha thought, but if Ah know them fillies, they’re already more excited than a pig in a fresh mud pit. Go an’ see to ‘em, and Ah’ll see ya later.”

As I approached the CMC clubhouse, I heard the three fillies speaking quite loudly about something, and their words only became clearer as I began to descend the hill that gave way to the field the small grove of apple trees the clubhouse was in.

“And then she said he was just a big faker!” exclaimed the squeaky voice of Sweetie Belle.

I then watched as the three fillies descended the small ramps that led up to their meeting spot, and they all smiled when they saw me.

“Hiya, Koa! How are ya doin’?” the yellow earth pony asked.

I shrugged. “Pretty good. By the way, I already asked your sister and she said you could come so long as I have you back by midnight.”

The yellow filly hopped a bit in excitement at this and exclaimed, “Ah’m gonna meet tha princesses!”

I chuckled and nodded. “Yep. I’ll warn you ahead of time to...well, just be prepared for anything unexpected.” The three fillies stared at me warily, and I just chuckled again. “You’ll see what I mean. Anyway, I guess we should go ask Rarity and get going then, yeah?”

“Sounds good, Koa.” Scootaloo commented.

Luckily for all involved, Rarity agreed as well (though not before some clever persuasion on my part), which meant that currently, the three fillies were riding my back as I flew through the air around the town hall, waiting for Dash to get off work.

It went without saying that the three young ponies were whooping and squealing in delight the entire time. I mean, it’s not everyday a pony gets to ride to Canterlot on the back of a dragon to hang out with the princesses. Luckily after the weeks had gone by after my first appearance in my true form, ponies were no longer frightened of a large gray dragon flying through the skies. Quite the contrary...we were getting an admiring audience by a few ponies down below.

“Is it normal for all those ponies to be staring at us?” Sweetie Belle asked curiously.

I shrugged as I began to lower us to the ground. “One gets used to it, I guess. It’s not like seeing a huge dragon flying around with ponies on its back was a regular occurrence before I came around.”

“Just walk away like it’s the most normal thing in the world...you’ll look so much cooler.” Scootaloo suggested to her friends.

And then, I watched as all three of them fell off of my back...and flat on their faces.

“That was an awesome set of faceplants, girls.” I remarked mirthfully.

The three pushed themselves up and stood, while Scootaloo shot back, “Shut up, Koa.”

I willed my form to become my more compact shape, and after a few seconds I opened my eyes to see the three fillies and every other gathered pony staring at me.

I chuckled. “That never gets old.”

Scootaloo nodded in agreement. “Probably the twentieth time I’ve seen that, and it’s still cool.”

I looked up at the sky and used what knowledge I could to estimate it was almost noon, so I smiled as I turned my gaze back to the fillies and sat down on the building’s steps. “Dash should be meeting us here pretty soon, so we’ll just chill out and wait for a bit.”

“How long is it gonna take us ta get ta Canterlot?” Applebloom asked curiously.

I shrugged. “Maybe twenty or thirty minutes. Takes a lot longer on the train only because it rides through the countryside, through the hills, and around the mountain three times until it gets to the city. I guess it’s meant to be a pretty scenic route or something, but it’s so much faster to just fly there.”

“Y’all are tellin’ me. It takes eight hours ta get there on tha train!” Applebloom exclaimed.

I nodded. “Well you don’t have to worry about that. You all will be taking the Dragon Express flight straight there.”

Scootaloo rolled her eyes and nudged my knee. “You’re a dork.”

“You love it.” I replied with a smug grin.

The orange filly rolled her eyes again and then jumped up on my lap, the same a cat would...which of course caused her friends and the other ponies milling about to stare at us. Like usual, I ignored the looks of confusion and just gently massaged the filly’s neck with my thumb and index finger.

“Um, Mr. Koa?” Applebloom called nervously.

I chuckled lightly and shook my head. “Just Koa is fine, Applebloom.”

“Oh...a-alright then.” the farm filly replied carefully. She then looked around us and continued with, “Do y’all think it’s smart ta be all touchy in public like that? Ah mean, Ah know ain’t nothin’ goin’ on here, but tha other ponies don’ know that. They might think y’all are special somponies with each other.”

I shrugged, utterly nonchalant about the whole issue by now. “If they want the truth, they just need to ask. Besides, I enjoy making ponies feel stupid about making incorrect inferences about what they observe, especially when it’s something that lewd.” I then gestured with my head to the pony in my lap. “Scootaloo and I are just good friends...she’s like a little sister to me at the moment, and for the foreseeable future, that’s all that we’re going to be to each other.” I turned my gaze to the many ponies not-so-subtly shooting questioning looks our direction. “Once all these other ponies grow a pair and actually just ask us the truth, they’ll find out that there’s absolutely nothing going on in a romantic sense...at all...as if the news about me being with Rainbow Dash wasn’t enough.”

“Who’s talking about me?” answered a certain raspy voice from behind me.

I turned to the cyan mare who was trotting over to me, and smirked. “I did. Whatcha gonna do about it?”

“Oh, I can think of a few things. I just can’t do them in public for the most part.” she shot back smugly.

I chuckled and nodded. “Don’t want Celestia to come to Ponyville in a tiz again, do we?” I then looked to the fillies for a moment before motioning to the sky. “Their sisters said it’s cool, so let’s get going.”

Dash nodded to me before launching herself into the sky. I changed to my larger form to allow the fillies to take places on my back, then also took to the skies towards the city of Canterlot.

When the five of us arrived at the landing pad that was set up for visitors outside of the palace, I found that the guards were all milling about rather suspiciously, and a lot of them looked pretty nervous. They nodded to me as I passed, but still looked pretty shaken up.

“Something’s going on here.” Dash commented.

I nodded, keeping alert. “Yeah...something’s up. I’ve never seen the guard this nervous before.” I then looked to the cyan pegasus warily. “Dash, go on ahead and see if you can find Cel and Lulu. Make sure they’re alright. I’ll keep the girls safe.”

Dash nodded with a salute and sped off, leaving me with three fillies, two of which were extremely nervous.

“K-Koa? There ain’t nothin’ bad happenin’, right?” Applebloom asked worriedly.

I put on the best comforting smile I could and shook my head. “Probably not, AB...we’re just being cautious is all. ‘Better safe than sorry’ and all that.” This seemed to reassure the two fillies at least a little bit, though it was clear they were still nervous.

Scootaloo on the other hand, thankfully, had complete faith in me.


Dash’s upset voice shocked me out of my thought processes, and she nearly barreled into me as she flew back to us.

The mare took deep breaths for a few seconds to catch her voice before tapping her head with her hoof. It took a moment for me to understand what she wanted, so I released my hold on the ability I normally kept under lock and key, for other ponies’ privacy. I nodded as I did so, and Dash began to tremble a bit as her panicked thoughts began to flow to my mind.

“I’ll take the girls away. Celestia’s hurt bad...get in the throne room right now.”

Dashie’s thoughts nearly caused me to drop to my ass in shock, but for the sake of the three other ponies, I didn’t react other than a short nod.

Rainbow Dash then looked to the three fillies and sported a rather stern look that left no room for rebuttal. “Girls, come with me. Don’t ask questions, just follow.”

The young ponies looked even more nervous now, and even Scootaloo was beginning to show signs of panic, but the three of them followed the rainbow-maned pegasus as she led them out to a small garden with a fountain in it.

As soon as they all could no longer see me, I broke into a sprint towards the throne room, in utter terror at what was happening, and the fear propelled me at a speed that didn’t seem fast enough.

After an agonizing five or so minutes later, I arrived in the throne room to find what seemed like the entire Solar Guard gathered...and to my horror, it was around a prone Luna, who was laying next to a shivering white alicorn on the ground. Along with these who were gathered were a number of small piles of ash scattered about the room, but I paid these no mind as I made my way to them.

The guards all recognized who I was and made way for me...but when they had, I almost wished they hadn’t.

Laying trembling on the ground was Celestia. I hadn’t thought before that there was such a thing as “pale” white, but I was very, very wrong. The sun princess hue had gone from radiant to ghastly. She was sweating profusely, and yet her teeth were chattering violently as Luna had her entire body draped over the sun princess, attempting to keep her warm. I caught sight of numerous puncture wounds along the white alicorn’s side, each with a bluish tinge around it.

“Koa.” spoke a rather distraught voice.

I looked at the source of the call to see my daughter standing there, tears in her eyes as she gazed at me. Without warning, she rushed to me and embraced me as her tears began to run down my scales. It was a warm, elated feeling to have my daughter so close and willingly embracing me, but I gently pushed her away when I remembered that things were not under control yet.

I took a look around the room and loudly spoke, “I need a report of what happened from any of the guards that were in or around the room. Quickly, please.”

A rather beaten-looking white stallion in gold armor stepped forward, and as he removed his helmet, his long orange mane splayed out over his neck. I could see multiple bruises and cuts along his exposed body parts, but they did not seem to bother him much.

The stallion saluted me quickly before stating, “Pony-at-arms Spearhead, sir.”

I nodded. “At ease, soldier. Tell me what happened.”

The pony relaxed a bit before nodding. “I was the only guard in her majesty’s throne room when the attack happened, as the others were ushering out her personal masseuse.”

I thought it strange that Cel employed a personal masseuse, but that could wait until later. “Attack?”

“Yes sir.” he responded gravely. “At least a dozen cloaked ponies sprang from the shadows as the other guards left.”

I raised my eyeridge at this, becoming more anxious as I looked around. “And where are they now?”

At this, the guard smirked as he gestured to the room. “I’m sure you’ve noticed the ashes, Skylord.”

I nodded with a proud smile. “Well done, soldier.” I then looked to the downed alicorn and frowned. “What’s happened to the princess?”

The stallion turned his head and nodded to a pony who held a steel tray in a magical aura, which the stallion took in his own magical grasp and gave it to me. I took the tray and widened my eyes when I saw nearly twenty small metallic darts, each with blood on them.

“I was able to dispatch them all, but they still caught us by surprise. The princess was struck multiple times.” he explained.

My expression darkened further as I picked one of the darts up and brought it to my nose, taking a large whiff of it before coughing and placing the dart back down on the pan. “Neurotoxin.”

“Beg your pardon, sir?” the stallion asked.

I looked to the soldier in front of me and sighed. “It was some sort of neurotoxin on these darts, likely the venom from an animal. Neurotoxin is a venom or poison that affects the brain and nervous system.” I then looked to the shivering mare with a deepening frown, noticing that her cheeks were flushed though it was clear she was freezing. “What are the common venomous animals around these areas?”

“Well sir,” he began, seeming a little unsure, “Equestria as a whole is host to a great number of living things, but the only one I can think of off the top of my head that would have this kind of effect would be a manticore.”

Fluttershy had taught me much regarding survival training at my behest, seeing as how I would be travelling a lot for my career. With that being the case, I understood just how serious this situation was.

“If she weren’t an alicorn, she would be dead already.” I spoke softly. I then raised my eyes to the guard and sighed. “That doesn’t mean she will survive this without help, though. Her strength can only go so far on its own.” I pointed to a few guards milling about, just watching the event unfold. “You four, take a carriage to the edge of the Everfree and look for a cottage on the outside of Ponyville. A young pony that goes by the name of Fluttershy lives there...we’ll need her help. Tell her exactly what happened,” I then took one of the darts and held it out, “and bring this to her. If anypony will be able to accurately identify exactly what we’re dealing with, it’s her. I’ll warn you, she’s really shy, but if you mention that the princess could be dying, she’ll be more than happy to help. Don’t delay...leave immediately.” The four guards did as I asked and took the dart from me before putting it in a leather pouch and immediately leaving the throne room. I then turned to the guard and sighed. “As much as I hate to say it, we’re pretty helpless without something to counteract the poison. We have to wait for her to get here.”

“Anything else, sir?” he asked nervously.

I shrugged. “Not much we can do except scour the entire palace for-”

“Already done, sir.” the stallion interrupted.

I nodded with a smile. “Good.” I then looked nervously around me and said, “Umm...I need a private moment with the royals, please.”

The guard nodded and ushered his fellow guards off to continue searching the premises, leaving me alone with three royals, one of which was slowly dying.

Luna was completely silent and devoted to her sister, but my daughter was in need of comfort, so I sat down on the steps that led to the thrones and held my arms open to her, which she graciously accepted as she snuggled herself into my embrace.

The unicorn sniffled a few times before muttering, “I’m scared...”

I nodded, placing my head atop hers as I worriedly eyed two of the most important ponies in my life. “Me too, Moonbeam.”

“It was them...” Luna growled angrily, her rage nearly palpable. She looked up and met my eyes as she elaborated. “The Lunar Republic.”

I furrowed my brow as I replied, “I thought I took care of them. That one guy, what was his name...Brass bolts, right?”

Luna sighed and shook her head. “No...that was just the one hideout we found. There are likely to be many more, and this is proof of that.” She then gazed down at her fellow alicorn, which was now whimpering as the shakes threatened to overtake her. “It was the mission that Tia had planned for you...she found another base in the mountains bordering Canterlot.” The dark alicorn then levitated a scroll over to me, dropping it in my outstretched hand as my daughter and I looked at it. “These are your orders.”

I narrowed my eyes as I let out a soft growl. “I better not be ordered to bring them back alive...after this, I don’t think I could control myself.”

“Then if you must, give them quick deaths.” Luna remarked without even so much as flinching.

The doors that led to the landing platform were thrust open, revealing a very frightened yellow pegasus mare being chased by a dozen or so guards.

I held up my hand to the guards and shook my head, which caused all of them to stop and nod before again leaving the throne room.

Once we were again alone, Spitfire quickly galloped to the downed alicorn, and began letting tears of fear and sadness drop down her face. “W-what happened to her?”

“Assassins from the Lunar Republic.” I replied softly. “We think she’s been poisoned with manticore venom.”

The mare looked down at her mother and attempted to keep from breaking into sobs as she asked, “What can we do?”

I released Moonbeam and made my way over to them, taking a knee next to the three ponies. “We sent for Fluttershy for help. We have to wait for her.”

I could tell this wasn’t what the mares wanted to hear, but they nodded as I said so.

Please hurry, ‘Shy...