• Published 1st Feb 2013
  • 1,817 Views, 93 Comments

The Ghost Of You - MadMan

Sequel to Intension. Twilight, Luna, and the Black Berets seek to stop the unstoppable.

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The Crimson

Nightfury grunted as he pushed an errant leaf away from his snout. He had been laying in the dirt for hours now, and even his impressive patience was wearing thin. The guards at the gate had been standing completely still, and even Nightfury had to admire their fortitude. Six hours, and I've yet to see a single indication that they’re ponies, not statues.

Nightfury nearly smacked himself as a belated realization came to him. Just like what we saw back at the bandit camp. Fake sentries. Well, now we have formulated a hypothesis, let’s test it!

He lifted a small rock from the dirt with a hoof and forcefully slung the projectile to a point several yards to the side of the guards. The rock hit the ground, eliciting a soft thump as it bounced. Immediately, the guards turned as one and sent a pair of spells at the exact spot the rock had landed. Bright light flashed and thunder boomed, and Nightfury had to resist the urge to swear loudly. Okay, they’re real, and quite alert.

Nightfury looked to his side, nodding at Hawkeye, who was crouched among the trees several yards to his left. They dared not communicate in anything more, lest they be noticed. They retreated back into the woods until they deemed it safe to speak.

“That was a dangerous stunt, Nightfury. You should try to abstain from such nonsense.”

“Calm down, I just wanted to make sure they weren’t fakes. Remember the bandits in Sang-Realle?”

“Vividly. In any case, the west gate isn’t an option. It would seem that our only choice it to scale the wall.”

Nightfury sighed as Hawkeye pulled a specific spear from his quiver. It was slightly more robust than the others, and there was a hole in the shaft. Hawkeye reached into his saddlebags and produced a length of finely twisted rope, which he pulled through the hole and knotted. When he finished, the duo turned and walked back the direction they had came, towards the walls of Canterlot. Once there, They spent several hours crawling through various undergrowth searching for an unattended section of wall to scale.

Eventually, they spotted a section of wall that butted up against a rock outcropping at the base of the mountain that seemed unguarded, on their side at least. Hawkeye balanced the spear on his hoof and took careful aim, throwing his spear over the wall with a flick, the rope following through the air like a perverted afterimage. A soft thunk from the other side of the wall told them that the spear had found a landing spot. A few tugs on the rope told them that it was secure, so Nightfury began hauling himself up, hoof over hoof. He would have preferred a simple levitation spell and avoided the fuss, but he didn’t want to alert any magicians who could detect his magic usage. Even Hawkeye using a small spell to throw his spear would have been risky.

Nightfury climbed to the top of the wall, hauling the rope up so it wouldn’t be spotted by passerby. They hadn’t seen any guards patrolling outside the walls, but they had agreed that it would be safer if Hawkeye waited outside. If Nightfury’s only escape route was discovered, Hawkeye was to warn him with a communication spell and wait in the woods. In opposite, if Nightfury was found or captured, he was to send a message to Hawkeye, who would retreat back to the others with what information they had.

Once the rope had been coiled and set aside, Nightfury looked around carefully, making sure his ascension hadn't been spotted. The city seemed dark and silent. Deciding he was safe so far, Nightfury brushed a lock of his dark blue mane out of his face, and focused on getting down from the top of the wall. Luckily, the spear had lodged itself in the roof of a building that sat against the wall, so Nightfury was able to locate a drainpipe and lower himself to the quiet streets. If Nightfury hadn’t had years of experience in battle zones and the ensuing carnage, he might have thrown up at the scene he had somehow not spotted from his vantage point on the wall.

Bodies lay in the street, torn and bloodied beyond recognition. The gore stretched down the street in both directions, until the street either faded from sight or turned a corner. Husbands lay over wives, mothers lay over foals, brothers over sisters, and strangers lay next to other strangers who had no one else to die with. Looking down, Nightfury looked at a stallion who had died trying to protect a mare, presumably his wife. The stallion had red hair, which clashed horribly with the blood coating him. His eyes were open and unseeing, still feared with fear and pain, even in death. It was a grisly scene, and Nightfury had to take a second to compose himself as rage clouded his thoughts. They were civilians, innocent ponies! Axion, you have a large toll to pay, and I can only hope that I can be there when it is collected.

He began to pick his way down the strangely empty streets, carefully avoiding the bodies of the slaughtered as he noted the complete absence of guards. At first, Nightfury darted from doorway to alley, from garbage can to staircase, but after several blocks of nopony in sight, he abandoned the time consuming endeavor in favor of a cautious jog. He stopped at every intersection and carefully peeked around the corner before continuing, growing ever more suspicious at the conspicuous lack of activity.

After half an hour of gore-choked streets and not a single living pony sighted, Nightfury was barely a stone’s throw from the castle. He climbed to the top of a house to get a better vantage point, but he saw the same sight he had from the streets.The majority of the castle was dark, except for a few windows on the lower levels that were lit from within. The front gates looked unguarded, but Nightfury knew better than to trust such a transparent ruse. He was about to climb down and try his luck at one of the unlit windows, but something made him stop and turn, staring at the castle until he realized what had caused his trepidation.

Bodies were still lining the streets, but for some reason none lay in the courtyard. The carnage stopped exactly at the line where the buildings met the grass, and not a single limb was beyond the imaginary boundary. Blood was still plentiful, however, and the majority seemed like it was smeared, as if the body that had left the blood behind had been dragged away to some unknown fate. Nightfury noticed that the blood was more plentiful in the courtyard than it was on the streets. Green grass was now stained red, the stalks reflecting ominously in the low moonlight. The pavestones that made up the path to the gates were practically indiscernible underneath the coating of smeared blood. Nightfury noticed that somehow blood had found it’s way up the trunks of the few trees that stood in the courtyard, reaching almost to head height.

Shaking his head in wonderment of the carnage, Nightfury vacated his vantage point, creeping closer to the courtyard. He hesitated for a moment before leaving the cover of the streets for the open space ahead, but not a living soul was visible, so he continued forward. His destination was a window that he had spotted cracked a small amount. Why anypony would want this smell to drift in is beyond me.

Edging around the myriad puddles of blood, Nightfury approached the window. He managed to get to the window without stepping in any blood, much to his relief. Don’t want to be tracking any bloody hoofsteps around.

Slowly lifting his eyes to the window, Nightfury looked into the room. Finding it dark and empty, he opened the window a bit wider and pulled himself in. He found himself in an austere study. Bookshelves lined the walls, and a large desk dominated the center of the room. Making his way to the desk, Nightfury kept one eye on the door as he opened a few drawers. Peeking at a few of the papers within, Nightfury found nothing interesting until his eyes raised to the top of the desk. A few papers and quills were scattered about, but what really got his attention was the large roll situated just to the side, tied with a velvet ribbon. Ohh. that looks important.

Nightfury carefully untied the bow and unrolled the stiff parchment, his eyes widening in the darkness. A map of Equestria and beyond lay before him. Lines, crosses, and short notes were scattered around the map, and Nightfury didn’t need but a second to see it for what it was. An invasion plan for all of Equestria and the surrounding area.... I need to get this to Luna immediately.

Nightfury carefully rolled the map back up and clenched it on his teeth, preparing to slip back outside. He looked around the room once more, then walked back to the window. He was just about to quietly lower himself down when he heard the door behind him open. Foregoing caution, Nightfury let go and dropped to the ground, dashing over to a nearby tree and ducking behind it. Not daring to peek out, he waiting for the shouts of an alarm being raised. When none came, Nightfury forced himself to count to ten before looking around the trunk. The window he had just vacated was now closed, and candlelight was coming from within the room. Knowing he had only moments before the missing map was discovered, Nightfury took off at a dead run from his tree, galloping towards the streets he had picked his way down earlier. He vaulted bodies and slid on puddles of blood as he raced down the silent roads.

Nightfury was only a few blocks away from the spot he had crossed the wall when he saw a pony step out from an alley in front of him. The distance and the darkness made it hard to tell who it was, but Nightfury could tell that they were unarmored. Could it be a surviving citizen?

Nightfury skidded to a halt, his hooves fighting the blood on the streets for traction as he realized the horrible truth. The pony before him was a citizen, but not a survivor. It was the stallion he had noticed when he first entered the city, blood still clashing with the red mane. His eyes were glowing with a red magic, as was the rest of the body. The pony took a few unsteady steps towards Nightfury. He tried to take a few steps back, but bumped into something. Whipping around, Nightfury found himself face to face with
another dead pony, brought to life with cursed magic. Looking around, Nightfury saw more ponies, previously dead in the streets, now standing, encompassed in a red haze. Soon, he was surrounded on all sides. Time for subtlety has passed, I think.

Lighting up his horn, Nightfury let loose a tremendous force, knocking the ponies around him to the ground. Taking off down an alley, Nightfury ran in what he hoped was the right direction. Hoofsteps came from behind him, but he dared not look back as he ran. More ponies were rising to their feet as he passed, but years of training allowed him to race past them at a pace they could not match. He quickly left all pursuers far behind him, but more were joining the chase every second. Risking a quick look back, Nightfury saw that he was being chased by dozens of the dead. He paid for his actions nearly immediately, as he nearly ran headfirst into a wall. Skidding sideways, his side collided painfully with the brick wall, but he managed to keep running. He turned a corner, and another, desperately trying to find a way out of this morbid maze.

Nightfury galloped down alleyway after alleyway, avoiding the open streets, which were certainly filled with even more of the dead ponies who were not dead. He could no longer see the ones chasing him, but he could hear their hoofsteps. His sides burned and his lungs gasped for air, but he could not stop yet. I have to get this map to Hawkeye!

After what seemed like hours of being silently chased through Canterlot’s streets, Nightfury finally found the dead end alley he had arrived in. he desperately searched for the drainpipe he had climbed down, but to his anguish he found that he had run past it. Turning, Nightfury took only a single step before stopping. He saw the drainpipe, but he also saw the large crowd of ponies that was right beside it. From wall to wall, the alley was now choked with bodies. They all fixed him with blank, red eyes. Looking up, Nightfury saw that several pegasi had now joined the group and were now hovering above him, so levitation was out of the question, as was teleporting. I can’t risk leading them to Hawkeye.

Nightfury knew he had only one option. Closing his eyes, he grasped the map in his mouth with magic, sending it and a message to Hawkeye in one short bust. Here; take this to Luna. Don’t wait for me.

The map disappeared in a flash, and when it cleared, Nightfury saw that the ponies in front of him were now approaching, as quietly as they had been when chasing him. Nightfury decided it was the silence that bothered him the most, the calm taciturn of these unnatural stalkers. Responding to their silence with a yell of his own, Nightfury lit his horn and charged forward. "If I’m going to Hell tonight, I won’t go alone!"

A spell hit the pony directly in front, separating the head from the neck. The red glow immediately dissipated, and the body went limp. Nightfury felt an irrational surge of hope swell in his breast. They can be killed!

Diving into the mob, Nightfury let loose the full extent of his rage, reaching out with magic and hoof. Uncountable bodies piled in the narrow alley as the impressive combative prowess of a Black Beret was unleashed, but Nightfury knew he was fighting a losing battle. There were simply too many of these zombies, and only one of him, and he was already tired. It was only a matter of time until one of them got in a lucky swing, and soon enough, it happened.

He never saw it coming. All Nightfury knew was that one second he was fighting, and the next there was a bright flash and he felt himself fall, pain echoing through his skull. He waiting to feel himself being eviscerated, ripped to pieces by the enchanted soldiers. Instead, he faintly saw them standing around him calmly as the world faded to black.

Author's Note:

Trying to improve my writing style a bit. In any case, this chapter was in progress waayy to long. Glad to finally finish it. Feedbaaack!

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