• Published 7th Feb 2013
  • 6,680 Views, 286 Comments

Brand New Dusk - AlphatheGriffin17



Book II. Returning once more with new determination, new goals and a new hat, Dusk is ready to see what the magic of friendship can offer... and perhaps much more.

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Meeting of the Moon

"Dusk, what's wrong?" asked Twilight in the library while they were working. Dusk placed back the book he was levitating, but didn't turn to face her.

So, they had noticed. They'd noticed how he'd been acting a little distant with them since yesterday, while the princess was still here, after he'd had his… revelation. He'd been dwelling on it, not really listening when they'd been talking to him and had left earlier than normal. He hadn't missed the looks on their faces, as he'd acted similarly in the old days, before he'd saved them from the Paraserpent. Perhaps there was some kind of agreement between them for if he started acting like that again.

So Twilight, the one who knew him best and who he had deeper feelings for than any of them, had probably been asked to talk to him. The question was… how much should he tell her?

"Nothing, Twi," he said, trying to sound casual, "I just… have a lot on my mind, that's all…"

"Yes, I can tell, but that's not the whole truth." This was a statement, not a question. He felt a warm hoof on his shoulder. "Dusk, don't think you can hide anything from me. You shouldn't have to. Talk to me, please?"

He glanced at the hoof on his shoulder, and then turned to look right into her violet coloured eyes, which were shining with concern for him. She was right; he couldn't hide anything from her… except for perhaps how he truly felt for her.

"Twilight… am I a good pony?" he asked her.

She appeared confused by the question. "Well, of course you are. Is that what's concerning you?"

"No, it's just…" He paused, searching for the right words. "What if, one day, I wasn't? What if I wasn't a good pony anymore?"

"Dusk… what is this?" she asked, looking a little scared. "Why wouldn't you be good anymore?"

"Just hypothetically, what if I was?" He could hear a shiver entering his voice, but he tried to ignore it. "What if, like Nightmare Moon, I needed to be stopped to prevent me from harming anypony? Would you stop me, imprison me somewhere?"

"Dusk, what do you-?"

"Would you, Twiight Sparkle? Would you be able to do it, despite the fact that we're friends? Would be able to do what was right, what was necessary, for the good of all? Would you? Do you-"

"Dusk please stop!" He did, only to realise that she looked to be on the verge of tears… and that he was too. "How can you ask me something like that? Why would you? Please… stop…"

Dusk immiedeately felt guilty and turned his gaze to the floor. "I'm sorry, Twi I… I didn't mean to upset you… I just… I just…"

"Dusk," she said softly, raising his head up gently so he faced her. "Tell me what's really wrong. Just… don't ever ask me that again. I think you know the answer…"

It was as if those words had pressed some kind of switch inside him, because suddenly he was able to tell her what he had originally kept secret. He told her about what he'd learned with the buffalo, about his powers and where they might have come from. Then, he told her about this new fear he had of what they might do to him, if they might corrupt him. All the while she listened and waited, her expression becoming even more concerned.

When he was finished, she was silent for a few minutes. Then asked, "That's what you're afraid of, that you become an evil tyrant like Nightmare Moon?"

"Yes…" He wanted to look away from her, to hide the fear that was manifesting behind his eyes, but he couldn't.

"Dusk, that's not going to happen. That's not you, I know it isn't."

"How do you know?" he asked, his tone bordering on cynical. If she noticed this, she didn't comment on it.

"I just do… don't you trust me?" He couldn't even begin to say no to that.

"I do… I do trust you. Just, what if-"

"No."

"But, what if-"

"Don't talk about that, please, because it's not going to happen." She sounded so determined, so sure of herself, that Dusk found that he almost believed her. Almost. "It won't happen."

"Okay… if you say so…" The fear was still there, but it had been lessened slightly.

"Good, now why don't you try and take your mind off of this? It's not good to dwell on something that won't even happen." With one last smile and a gentle hug of reassurance, she headed off to the East wing, leaving him alone in the West.

He turned to look at his reflection in the window. An image flashed briefly across his thoughts, his dark blue fur now black, his green eyes becoming cat-like pupils, dressed in dark battle armour. Like Nightmare Moon. Then it vanished as quickly as it arrived. Maybe Twilight was right. He shouldn't be dwelling on this.

Having an idea of how to shake his thoughts away from this, Dusk went off to look for Spike, that darker image of himself flashing once more across the corners of his mind.


While Dusk did like to ground himself in fact and realism, he always thought that the imagination and stories could offer so much more than just cold hard fact, open up worlds unknown. Worlds where ponies rode dragons and had mental bonds with them, worlds where aliens and space travel were fact, with rooms bigger on the inside and mighty star ships, worlds where the of society had fallen to ponies rising from the dead to eat the flesh of the living and tales of survival against grim odds.

He also enjoyed having hypothetical discussions, usually with Twilight, on a variety of subjects, but mainly ones that related to her studies, such as the possibility of using time travel magic, experiments that had been performed with magic to try and resurrect the dead, if they could travel beyond Equestria to the stars above. Whether realistic or fantastic, he enjoyed thinking and debating on the possibilities and ideas that they had.

That was what he was doing with Spike in the library on their break, whilst Twilight was reading from a book on magic: discussing what they would do if zombies attacked and what their plans would be to defend themselves and survive, a subject that Spike had been introducing Dusk to. While Dusk wasn't a fan of violence, he always liked stories where the characters fought against unbeatable odds and came out on top. It was one of those subjects that he'd always wanted to talk about if he ever had friends and it was rather fun debating with the baby dragon on this.

"Well, they'd have a hard time eating me," Spike was saying to him. "Thick scales would really give them something to chew on, and then I'd get 'em with my flame breath."

"That wouldn't be such a good idea," pointed out Dusk. "They don't feel pain from what you told me; fire would just turn them into walking torches. Or shuffling rather."

"Oh, good point… even so, I'm fire proof, thanks to my scales."

"But the rest of us aren't and it would take a while for them to burn regardless. You might end up destroying more than they would."

"Right, I see the problem there," he admitted. "Oh well, maybe I'd just run for it. I'm pretty fast and they're slow, so they'd never catch me."

"But they don't get tired either," he mentioned. "You have your limits, they don't and they'd catch you if you're tired enough."

"Dusk, honestly," Twilight commented exasperatedly, but she was smiling, apparently relieved that he was taking his mind off his dark brooding. "How can you talk about something so ludicrous?"

"It's just a hypothetical discussion Twi, like the ones that you and I have."

"I know but zombies, really?"

"Hey, it could happen!" leaped in Spike defensively. "Organise before they rise Twilight, cause you never know."

"I do know because zombies don't exist, so you have nothing to worry about." She shook her head, giggling. "Honestly, you two…"

"Fine, but if you end up being munched on, don't come crying to-" He stopped to grab his chest and suddenly belched green fire, the smoke going right in Dusk's face.

"Spike," he coughed from the unpleasant stench, "what have you been eating?"

"Sorry bro," he said abashedly, catching the letter that had materialised and opening it.

"So, what's the princess writing about today?" asked Twilight as she walked over.

"Well…" He paused as his eyes travelled over the letter. "For one thing, it's from Princess Luna and it's not for you Twilight… it's for Dusk."

"I… beg your pardon?" whispered Dusk in disbelief, Spike handing the letter to him.

He was right, for the scroll came with the Seal of the Moon, rather than the golden Seal of the Sun Celestia used. This one was a deep black, with a crescent moon set in the centre, stars decorating it in the middle. His eyes travelled over the elaborate writing as he read aloud:

To Dusk Noir
Citizen of Ponyville, formerly of Canterlot

Thy presence is requested at the Royal Castle of Canterlot from six o clock forthwith. It is the wish of thy princess to meet thee and to know thee better.

A carriage will meet thee at the library where thou workest. At the time it is appropriate, thou shalt be returned home and our intentions will be complete. We look forward to meeting thee soon.

As written by thy ruler

Princess Luna
Bringer of the Night.

"Wow, a royal summons, from Princess Luna!" Twilight looked very excited. "Dusk, this is such an honor that she would want to see you personally!"

"Yeah… that's what I was thinking," he murmured, still trying to take it all in.

"Six o clock, that's only half an hour from now!" she exclaimed. "Oh my gosh, that's not a lot of time. Let me see…" She looked him over with a critical eye, assessing his appearance. "Oh… um… oh, I'm sure you look fine. At least, I hope you do, I wouldn't want-"

"Twilight, calm down," Spike said.

"Calm down? How can I calm down? Don't you want him to make a good impression on Princess Luna?"

"Well-"

"Exactly!" She pushed him urgently upstairs. "Come Dusk, you need to make sure you look your best for this."

Mainly for Twilight's benefit than his, Dusk let her comb his mane so it looked neat and presentable, make sure his fur wasn't too scruffy and talk him through some quick instructions on how to behave in front of royalty. It wasn't stuff Dusk didn't already know, but he was feeling extremely nervous about this and he hoped that this session would calm him down, as well as Twilight, who was fussing over him like his mother, while Spike sniggered in the corner.

"W-w-why do you think she wants t-t-t-to talk to me?" Dusk asked her, as she ran a comb through his mane.

"I think I can take a good guess," she replied nervously. "She wants to know about your powers."

"Y-y-you think so?"

"It's the only reasonable explanation. Now come on, we need to get you ready!"

That got the wheels in Dusk's head turning, if nothing else.

So, Luna finally had taken an interest in him, enough that she had requested him personally to meet her. All sorts of questions tumbled over each other in Dusk's head: what would she think of him? Had she made the connection between her powers and his? Would she issue a warning, a caution against them? All of it made it very hard to relax, so that by the time the carriage arrived, Dusk was still shaking.

"Okay," Twilight was saying, still fussing, "always address her respectfully and politely."

"Right."

"Take your hat off when you meet her too; I don't know how she might take it."

"Okay."

"Try to relax, breathe deeply and stay calm."

"E-e-easy for you t-t-t-to say," he stammered, trying very hard to control his breathing.

"Oh Dusk," she said pityingly, gazing softly at him. "Sorry I'm fussing so much, but I want this to go well for you."

"So do I…" he said quietly, climbing up onto the carriage, as she gave him a reassuring hug.

"Just be yourself and you'll be fine," she advised. "And… good luck."

"Yeah, good luck bro!" called Spike. "Let us know how it goes!"

"I will, see you later!" he cried, waving to them as the carriage took off into the sky, bearing him towards Canterlot once more.

He truly was thankful to Twilight for trying to make sure this went well. Her concern for him just served to show how deep their bond of friendship was; even it had made him feel a little more nervous as a result of it. Still, she had tried her best to prepare him and he was grateful for it. He just hoped that it would go smoothly, or at least not be a complete disaster.

In addition to his nerve-wracking fear, Dusk's fear of heights and flying was starting to kick in again. Trying his best to calm himself, he turned his attention to the Pegasi that were pulling the carriage. Their fur was the colour of grey and their eyes were yellow, their wings leathery membranes, like those of a bat rather than a bird. Princess Luna's Shadow Guard, her own elite warriors and chauffeurs. They must have started recruiting again now that she was back on her throne, for they hadn't been seen for over a thousand years.

They arrived at Canterlot as the sun was beginning to set beyond the horizon, landing at the foot of one of the tall towers. The guards reared and whinnied, bringing the carriage to a stop and, still shaking, Dusk climbed down from the seat and shuffled along. One of them strode forward to meet him.

"You will wait," he ordered and entered the tower the door slamming shut behind him.

Dusk was now left alone, with only the remaining guard for company. Aside from when he first met Twilight, he'd never been more apprehensive in his life and even this occasion seemed to top that. Celestia was relaxed and kind, but Luna was authorative and formal and would probably have higher standards of expectations where manners were concerned. Would she deem him passable with how he normally was? How would this go?

He was quickly checking himself in the reflection of the carriage when the guard came back downstairs and looked at him hard. Dusk stood straight and waited.

"Princess Luna is on the balcony at the top of this tower," he told him in a grim voice. "Be sure not to keep her waiting."

"I-I-I won't and thank you sirs," Dusk said quickly and hurried through the doors, trying his best not to run up the stairs.

Within minutes, he reached the top where the door stood shut. He took time to collect himself, catch his breath and do his best to stop himself shivering. Just remember your manners Dusk, he told himself, act normal and you'll be fine. I hope…

He raised his hoof and knocked on the door. "Enter!" a booming voice commanded. Gulping, he pushed it open and stepped out onto the balcony.

There stood Princess Luna, her back straight and her head high. She was bigger than Dusk, but not as much as her sister. Her fur, like his, was a dark blue, her mane having that strange gaseous quality that Celestia's did, though hers sparkled with starlight instead. A crown and crest of black adorned her chest and head, her horn was long and menacing and her wings were folded back. It was hard to tell her expression, as it was blank and stony.

Dusk remembered his manners and bowed to her. For the longest moment there was an eerie silence, no doubt as the princess was looking him over, silently judging him with her gaze. Neither of them said a word, Dusk not daring to say anything until she addressed him. It was Luna who broke the silence, Dusk refraining from jumping out of shock of her loud voice.

"Greetings Dusk Noir!" she boomed in the Royal Voice, "It is good to finally meet you in person! We extend our warmest invitation to you and welcome you to our home!"

Dusk promptly bowed lower, gripping his trilby and grimacing from the volume which she spoke. "M-m-my most humble a-a-and sincere greetings, Your Majesty," he replied, his voice shaking. "I-I-I am honoured t-t-to meet you."

"We are glad to hear it," she said more quietly. "You may rise."

Dusk did so, looking her in the face. The night sky behind her shone with the stars, the beams of the moon casting a beautiful glow around her. Her stony expression had gone, replaced by a friendlier smile. She crossed to a nearby table and sat one side, raising a hoof, upon which she wore silver shoes.

"Come, the night is beginning and we shall drink some tea, to warm us against the cold."

"O-o-of course, Highness," he said, rising and crossing to the table that had been prepared.

Luna poured herself a cup of tea and looked across at him. "So Dusk, are thou well?"

"Um… q-q-quite, Your Highness," he replied, spilling a little of his tea as he poured some.

"But why dost thou shake and quiver so?" she asked, sounding concerned. "Are thou cold?"

"I-I-I apologise a thousand fold, Highness," he said quickly. "I am… not cold. I-I-I just er… have some nerves with… meeting new ponies… sorry."

"Oh. Sorry, we did not realise…" she said, sounding rather abashed with herself. But she recovered herself and spoke once more. "You need not fear, for this is merely a friendly meeting between Princess and subject. We request that thou try to relax while thou are with us."

"Y-y-yes Your Highness, of course." Feeling a little better now, at least enough to stop stuttering, he took a few deep breaths and met her gaze. "I apologize, Majesty, for my lack of self-control."

"We take no offense, apologies are not necessary," she replied in a clipped voice. "We wish thee to simply relax, as we said and not act as if thou are facing a manticore in the fiercest of rages, for we intend no harm to thee."

"Of course, Majesty," Dusk repeated, taking a sip from his tea to calm himself. "It's just that… this is an unexpected pleasure, meeting you like this."

"We thought as much. We have heard much of you, from our sister and from the reports conveyed from her student, Twilight Sparkle. We were intrigued by this and many other things and desired to meet you in full, to learn more about you. Your tea is satisfactory?"

"Yes, thank you princess," he answered. "Well um… what would you like to know?"

"Well, thy reaction to us is not what we expected," she said, sounding almost surprised.

"Reaction, Highness?"

"Yes. While thou wert nervous, that was down more to the qualities of thy character, less so to do with ourselves and how we addressed thee."

"You mean… speaking in the Royal Voice, princess?"

"Ah, so thou knowest why we speak like this?" she noted with interest. "It is a mystery to most ponies apparently, for they do not seem to know."

"Well, the Royal Voice was used by both you and your sister thousands of years ago," he began to explain, his knowledge-filled head taking over. "It was tradition for you to speak using the royal 'we' and to speak in a high volume when addressing subjects."

"Correct, unless…" she prompted. Dusk realised what she was getting at and continued.

"Unless you are hosting guests at Canterlot, then the royal 'we' is still used but the speaker lowers the volume at which they speak to more respectable levels, so as not to deafen or damage the hearing of esteemed guests," he finished smartly.

"Correct once more," she said proudly. "Thou are to be commended on your intelligence, young Dusk. Not many ponies would have known such a thing."

"Your uh… words gladden me, Highness," he mumbled, sipping his tea and diverting his gaze.

"They should." She stirred her tea, placing another sugar cube in. "Our sister has also told us of thy deed in the Everfree Forest, where thou did brave the dangers of the Forest and of the minion of our foe to save thy friends."

"She um… she did?" he muttered quietly.

"Of course. It was a brave act that thou didst, risking thyself to rescue those closest to thee, not to mention thou helped to defeat a deadly enemy to Equestria. Paraserpents," she hissed with disdain. "Vile creatures, we remember…"

"Indeed…" Dusk cleared his throat and spoke up. "Well, it wasn't all down to me, I mean… I had help, quite a bit and you sister was the one who beat it, not me. I was uh… acting pretty stupidly anyway, I didn't have any kind of plan. I just… ran on in there and hoped for the uh… the best. Quite unlike me, really…"

"Then you do not take pride in thy accomplishment?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Not entirely," he admitted, "I know I did help, but I just um… just know it wasn't all down to er… me, that's all."

"I see…" She took a sip of her own tea, regarding him with added interest. "Thou art quite humble in thy words and actions, we notice."

"So I've been told. Is that uh… that a bad thing, Highness, if I may ask?"

"Thou mayest," she permitted rather unnecessarily. "No, it is not. Modesty is an admirable trait, something that most ponies lack these days. Still, thou shouldst still take some pride in what thou doest, shouldst thou not?"

"Of course, yes," agreed Dusk absently, wishing to move the discussion away from this. "Was there um… anything else you wanted to ask me?"

"Yes, and we think that thou knowest what we will ask of thee now," she said pointedly. "We have noticed, from thy performance at the Canterlot Magic Contest, the unique magic that thou possesses."

"Oh yes," Dusk said with some trepidation.

"Well, thou mayest have noticed that we were watching thee after thy performance was completed and this is why." She set down her teacup and closed her eyes, her horn glowing.

Soon, her body took on the same qualities as her sparkling mane, the same appearance as his sparkling colours. She moved as a tendril of blue, creeping across the floor like a snake, then leaping off the balcony and soaring like a bird over his head. All the while Dusk watched her fly and soar. She was magnificent, as at home in the air as an eagle and with all the grace of a swan.

She landed behind Dusk and reformed as herself, still smiling with satisfaction at the expression on his face.

"Princess, that was beautiful, if you don't mind my saying."

"We do not and thank thee," she said, dipping her chin. "However, our powers were much more… extensive when we were… we were…" She paused, unable to continue.

"When you weren't yourself," reasoned Dusk, not mentioning the name of the monster she was once known as. Then, his own fears surfaced once more. "Princess… may I ask you something?"

"Thou mayest," she said simply.

"Well… you know the similarities of your powers and mine?"

"We do know of this, as do thee. What is thy point?"

"Well… you became… Nightmare Moon," he said quickly and quietly. "And I was wondering… well, dreading more like if I… If I might…" Now it was his turn to stop, for fear of finishing, of the possible answer.

"Ah, thou wishest to know if, because of the similarities we have, that thou too mayest become corrupted, as we were?" He only nodded, unable to look up at her. "Then thy fears art ungrounded, for that shall not be thy fate."

Dusk felt his jaw drop and he whipped his head up to look at her. "E-e-excuse me?"

"Thou shalt not go down the same path that we did and close thy mouth, it is unbecoming." He did so and let her continue. "We shall not go into details, but it was due to the influence of another force that turned us into the mare of darkness you know from the stories. That force was destroyed when the Elements of Harmony were used against us. Unless that force returns and targets thee specifically, which we doubt it will, thou shalt remain as thou art."

"So… I won't be corrupted by my powers?"

"No, thou will not. Does that comfort thee?"

"Yes… yes it does… more than I can say." Feeling immense relief well up inside him, he gazed up at Luna's smiling face. "Thank you, Your Highness, for silencing my fears."

"It was only natural, but we are glad that this knowledge as relieved thee. Now," she added, "since there is no fear of thee becoming a stallion of evil, thy princess requests that thou demonstrate thy powers to us."

"It would be my honour," Dusk bowed and tapped into his own magic, sharing it with his… well, kindred spirit.

Luna watched as he put on his display for her, offering no comment but obviously intrigued by what he could do with it. She now and again requested forms for him to create, usually creatures that roamed Equestria or famous historical figures from pony history, Dusk adding little bits of information of what he knew about the animals or ponies he was asked to create, Luna always raising her eyebrows at how much he knew.

"Impressive, young Dusk," she finally said, when he didn't have the energy to continue. "Thy magic is very unique, even if we do share similarities where it is concerned."

"Thank… thank you, Highness," Dusk gasped, doing his best to remain standing.

"And thou hast only been able to manipulate colour before thee, not alter thine own body like we can?"

"Yes, Highness… ever since I was a foal… I wouldn't really know how to anyway…"

"Interesting, I wonder," she muttered to herself, looking thoughtfully at him. "Oh, never mind, it matters not. How is thy strength faring?"

"I'm fine now," he told her, "it just takes it out of me, depending on how long I do it and how big the shapes are."

"So we noticed," she commented. "Well, if thou art feeling well enough, let us walk. As thou art friends with the Wielders of the Elements, there is something thou mightest like to see. By the way, thou mayest wear thy hat, if thou art inclined?"

"Of course…" Letting her lead the way, Dusk began to follow her through Canterlot Castle, happy to be putting his trilby back on.

They walked back down the stairs into one of the adjoining corridors that took them into the rest of the Castle, all manner of doors lining walls leading to other rooms and places. Guards who were on the night shift, a mix of Celestia's Sun Guards and Luna's Shadow Guards, patrolled through the corridors, alone or sometimes in pairs. They bowed whenever Luna passed close to them, nodded to Dusk and resumed their march.

The layout of this building reminded Dusk of something that he'd read in a book on the Castle. "Princess, isn't the Starswirl the Bearded Wing?"

"Indeed it is, we must pass through it to reach our destination," she explained. "Besides, we thought thou mightest appreciate it. Havest thou ever been in the archive?"

"Unfortunately no, it's the most secure wing of the Castle," he recalled. "I wouldn't have the authority or the clearance. I wouldn't mind having a look though, if I could…"

"Oh yes of course," she said sympathetically. "Most unfortunate, but we thought it might appeal to thee. Look, here it is."

She gestured to a caged door to their right, through which Dusk could see long aisles of ancient and priceless scrolls and books, with a large hourglass in the centre of the chamber. Some of the most powerful and dangerous pieces of magic were contained in that room, which was why it was kept locked at all times and guarded around the clock.

"The works of the greatest unicorn that ever lived," whispered Dusk in awe of it.

"Quite a sight, is it not?" She gestured to the door opposite and led him through it. "Didst thou know, young Dusk, that the wing contains not only the works of Starswirl, but also the prophecies of Fore Sight the Uncanny?"

"The prophet of the unicorns?" asked Dusk, interested by this information. "No, I didn't…"

"We did not think so, though we are surprised that thou knowest of him, due to his obscurity in unicorn history. Dost thou knowest much of him?"

"Some things, but not a lot because there's so little on him." He took some time to recall what he knew. "He was apprenticed to Starswirl, along with Clover the Clever, gifted with the power to have glimpses of the future. It was he who first predicted the sects of pony society would come together. He married Private Pansy of the Pegasi after the union, they had children but then he left for some mysterious reason that he never explained, quite insane at the end of it. Then he died a few days after he returned. Quite tragic really…"

"Yes, it was," she agreed in a regretful tone, leading him across the starlit grounds. "We were taught by him, that is to say me and my sister, along with Clover, in magic before he left on his strange quest. He had a most unique and familiar way of telling the future, one that he taught to me when he discovered I had similar talents."

This latest piece of news shocked Dusk to an even further degree. "You mean… he had my, well our… colour power?"

"Exactly, his visions came to him in swirling images of colour that only he could interpret. He could do it at will, but his visions came and went at random. It was a closely guarded secret, so it would not have been recorded, much like the time travel spells." She gave him an admiring smile. "It is possible that thou are descended from him, as you have inherited his talents, though we are not sure as to what degree."

Dusk was shaking his head in disbelief, but grinning in spite of himself. How had he ever thought that his power was something ponies might find freakish and strange, when he held resemblances for it not only in the co-ruler of Equestria, but also a figure in unicorn history? It was one of those rare occasions when he felt genuine pride for himself, that completely crushed his earlier fears. Just wait until Twilight would hear about this, he thought excitedly.

Soon, Luna told him they'd arrived at their destination. It was Canterlot Tower, which housed the living quarters of the Royal Pony Sisters, but why did Luna bring him here? She led him up a set of stairs down a long corridor, where the coloured glow of stained glass windows graced the hall with a beautiful glow. Looking around at them, Dusk saw various records of pony history suspended in time: the reign of Discord, his defeat at the hooves of the sisters, Nightmare Moon's imprisonment and the rediscovery of the Elements of Harmony.

His gaze lingered on the last one, for he had been there at its unveiling. It was strange, seeing it again now after what had felt like so long. The night he had seen it for the first time was when his life had changed forever, when he'd begun to discover the Elements himself. Albeit in his own way, of course. Tearing his eyes away from the image, he continued to follow Luna up to the end of the hall, where a large door towered over him. At its centre was the image of the sun, with a hole at the centre of it.

"This," said Luna, standing by it, "is where the Elements of Harmony are kept safely hidden. This door, and the enchantment that protects it, can only be broken by Celestia or me."

Dusk stared at the door with renewed awe, his spine tingling in the knowledge that he was in the presence of the most powerful magical artifacts in all of Equestria. "Incredible, but… why have you brought me here?"

"If thou wishest Dusk, we would like to show them to thee." She smiled as his jaw dropped once more. "We trust thee not to steal them, if thou wouldst like to see?"

Dusk didn't reply, just nodded silently, feeling so honoured that Luna would trust him this much. He supposed that, since he was friends with Twilight and the others that he would like to see them. Dusk had to admit the thought had crossed his mind more than once, just to see what they might look like…

Luna lowered her head and inserted her horn into the hole in the door. A magical blue light shone at the centre, spreading along the grooves of the door and filling the whole room with a bright light. After six lights shone in unison, the door slowly opened to reveal a purple chest on a plinth, adorned with jewels and gems. Luna levitated this off and brought them down to Dusk's eye level. He hardly dared to blink as the chest opened, revealing its precious contents.

Dusk gasped. They were more beautiful than he could have ever imagined. Five were necklaces, gilded in gold with a different coloured jewel at the centre of them, each in the shape of the girl's cutie marks, the facets glinting in the light. The odd one out was a diadem, again in gold with a star-shaped purpled gem set at the top. This was no doubt Twilight's element, Magic. He moved to levitate it, and then glanced up at Luna.

"May I?" She nodded, her look saying that he'd better be careful.

With as much care as possible, he levitated the diadem up to his face, revolving it slowly and examining every little detail. He did the same with each of the Elements in turn, smiling as he could feel little essences of his friends in each one, shivering at the power that they radiated. He almost felt a sense of completeness in their presence, like they were the final pieces to a puzzle that he hadn't even been trying to solve. He supposed that was a natural state to feel in, as they were literally the vessels of friendship.

He didn't know how long he stood there with them, but it was deep into the night when he put the last one back and Luna shut the chest, sealing the room in which they were kept. He let all of his gratitude of such a privilege that she presented him come out in his smile, which she returned in perfect understanding.

"We knew you might like that. Now, we have kept thee long enough and thou art no doubt tired." Dusk opened his mouth to insist he was fine but a yawn came out instead and she nodded gently. "Our point exactly. We shall call a carriage to bring thee home."

She led him back outside, where a carriage actually stood waiting for them. Dusk felt rather disappointed at having to leave so soon. He'd enjoyed this evening with the princess and felt that they'd made a good connection with each other. There was a certain fondness in her voice that hadn't been there at first. He could at least hope he'd made a good impression.

"Thank you for taking the time to meet me, Your Highness," Dusk said sincerely. "It was wonderful meeting you personally and being your guest."

"It was good to meet thee as well, young Dusk," she replied. "We hope to see you again in future. Sleep well and know that we are keeping vigil across this land."

"I'll sleep soundly with that knowledge." He waved as the carriage took off into the night sky, already looking forward to telling Twilight and the others about this tomorrow.


Luna watched until the carriage became a speck in the distance, still wearing a gentle smile. Tia had been right about him; he was a good-hearted stallion and she had already taken a liking to him, taking pride at being able to put his fears to rest. She didn't know if it was possible for them to be friends, with her being royalty, but she certainly hoped so.

But establishing good terms with Dusk Noir had not been the only purpose of this meeting. Already, armed with this new knowledge, she was having the guard admit her into the Starswirl the Bearded wing of the Palace, making for the archives of Fore Sight. There, she pulled out one particular scroll, reading over the passage yet again.

Despite her sisters insistence otherwise, she knew this only confirmed the details that were written down here and they most definitely related to the young stallion. And the way those stones around his neck had sparkled in the presence of the Elements... She felt some satisfaction in the knowledge that, so far, she was right about this, as had been her former master.

Now, only two questions remained: when would the rest of the details come to pass and what would that mean for them and the citizens of Equestria? For the first time in a long time, Princess Luna was scared. For all of their sakes, she hoped that it didn't mean what she thought it meant.

Author's Note:

Okay, a little note here of explanation. Look at how Nightmare moves around in episode one and two, the weird smoke she becomes at times. Those are what Dusk's puppets look like, they're just different colours and shapes as opposed to just being blue. That's where I got the idea from.

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