The Witching Hour: As The Tempest Rages

by Bryan Luna

First published

With a tip from Princess Luna, Midnight Storm finds out she's not the only living kirin and sets off to find more of her kind

Midnight Storm is a very rare creature, a kirin, and the only one of her kind in Equestria. Almost resigned to the fact that she may never meet another of her kind, a ray of hope comes when Princess Luna points her to a section of the royal library that might just point her to more of her kind.

Armed with this new knowledge and a rekindled resolve, she and those closest to her will embark on a quest to find a race that hasn't been seen by the world in over a millennium.

Contributor/Prereader: Chaotic Ink

The Lead

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Midnight Storm sat at the table in the Golden Oaks library, her large draconic eyes looking over yet another book. After a few moments of examining the old text she let out an annoyed huff. "There is nothing in this one either!" She groused, letting out a snort. "Why is this so difficult? Shouldn't there be something somewhere that can help me out here?" Midnight brooded, her tail swishing in annoyance until a new voice broke her from her stupor.

"You didn't find anything at all Midnight?" Asked the lavender unicorn that trotted into the room.

Midnight shook her head. "There isn't anything on other kirins here anywhere Twilight." She said, getting up and stretching after having sat still for hours on end. "I know there used to be more of my kind so it's really hard to believe that there wouldn't be any information on them at all." She said irritably.

Twilight's face fell. "I can't believe that in all of the books I have here that not one of them has anything at all on kirins Midnight. I'm sorry I couldn't help you with this."

Midnight stayed silent for a moment longer. "You're Princess Celestia's student; isn't there anything else you can do?"

"Personally no, the library here can only hold so many books, maybe if you ask Princess Luna she can help you with it." Twilight continued to think for a moment. "The Royal Archives might have something though. They hold a lot of knowledge from the earliest parts of Equestria's history so if any place has the information you're after that will be it." Twilight replied.

Midnight looked at Twilight. "Don't you have to have permission to go in though?"

Twilight nodded in ascent. "Unfortunately both Princess Celestia and I are too busy to grant you access Midnight. I'm sure Princess Luna will though, maybe she can even point you in the right direction."

"That's something I guess," Midnight huffed, still annoyed. "I have to go to give my report on this month's activities from the Everfree Forest tomorrow anyway. I need to get home before Sapphire and Squeaks start to worry, see you later Twilight." Midnight said as she headed for the door.

"I'll keep looking through my personal collection as well, there might be something I missed." said Twilight

Midnight nodded and left the tree house with a snap of her large leathery wings.

After Midnight had left Spike peered out form the kitchen and then ran over to Twilight. "Is Midnight going to be okay Twilight?" Asked Spike with concern in his voice.

Twilight smiled down at her assistant. "I think so Spike, but I can't even begin to imagine how frustrating this must be for her." Twilight sighed and shook her head. Not knowing was bad enough for Twilight, but for Midnight it had to be worse.

Normally Midnight would have flown home, but given the later hour she chose to trot. The streets were relatively devoid of ponies that she might bump into while on the ground and she felt exhausted after almost an entire day having looked and found nothing. All of her life Midnight had been curious about other kirins, and she had heard rumors about them from many other places like Prance and Neighpon.

"Neighpon." Midnight muttered under her breath. One hundred years ago in Neighpon the eldest daughter of a prominent family was said to have been kirin but Midnight could find no validation of this rumor. So like all of her other leads it had turned out to be a bust.

Midnight smiled as she went. Sapphire was a Thesteral, or bat pony and Squeaks' biological mother. The two had met five years ago when Midnight was a new member of the Lunar Guard had been called by Princess Luna to assist her and her the First Lunar Guard division with finding out about a Thesteral colony that had been reportedly attacked by Bugbears on a number of occasions. Unfortunately some of the colony's members had died defending their homes and families from the unusual aggression from the creatures. Among them had been been Sapphire's husband and Squeaks' father. It was after Midnight had helped to save and relocate the remaining colony members that she had taken a shine to both Sapphire and Squeaks and began helping them to start a new life in Ponyville.

Midnight picked up her pace knowing that Sapphire would likely already have dinner waiting, and seeing Squeaks would lift her spirits as it always did. Upon arriving Midnight opened the door and was greeted by her wife and their daughter.

"Hello Midnight. how did it go?" Asked Sapphire as she turned to face her wife. "I see." Sapphire said after seeing Midnight's expression.

Midnight sat on her haunches heavily and sighed. "I didn't find anything, but Twilight said I should check the Royal Archives when I'm in Canterlot tomorrow." Midnight paused trying to find the words but couldn't.

"It's okay mommy, Princess Luna can help you I just know it." Said Squeaks nuzzling her mother.

Midnight returned the nuzzle. "Thanks kiddo." She said smiling at her daughter.

Sapphire smiled "Squeaks dinner is almost ready, go wash up." She turned back to Midnight. "Would you help me with this Midnight?"

"Okay mommy," Said Squeaks with a squee before nuzzling Midnight again and then trotting off to the bathroom.

Midnight got up and joined Sapphire at the kitchen counter. "So what are you making anyway?"

Sapphire smiled "Oh it's just a salmon casserole recipe I picked up when we were in Canterlot last time. With some help from Fluttershy and her animal friends I was able to get the fish I needed to make it."

"It smells good." Midnight replied laying her head on Sapphire's back.

"Yes, it does and I need your help to put on the finishing touches before I put it in the oven." Sapphire said

Midnight lifted her head and gave Sapphire a pout. "Alright dear." She replied nibbling on Sapphire's ear.

Sapphire giggled "The sooner we get it in the oven the sooner we can cuddle." Sapphire's words seemed to motivate Midnight to help out and a few minutes later they were on the couch in the living room cuddling.

Squeaks had come back down and joined the pair as the casserole cooked in the oven. "So even Twilight didn't have anything mommy? I thought she had a book for everything." She said sweetly from under her mother's wing.

This caused both Midnight and Sapphire to laugh. "It's impossible for even Twilight to have a book for everything Squeaks." Midnight said ruffling Squeak's mane with her hoof.

Squeaks stuck out her tongue at the gesture causing Midnight to smile.

Dinner came and went being a largely subdued affair until Squeaks was telling Midnight and Sapphire about her day at school with her friends. At one point Midnight laughed a little when Squeaks told her the story of Diamond Tiara sneezing while trying to drink some water and soaking Silver Spoon in the process.

Sapphire just rolled her eyes and said. "It's not that funny Midnight."

Midnight between snickers replied. "That filly is a brat, she really needs how to learn to behave better. Besides that is very funny, right Squeaks?"

Squeaks gave a squeaky giggle. "Yeah, it was funny."

Sapphire facehoofed. "Okay you two comedians. Midnight it's time to get Squeaks her bath."

Midnight sighed "Yes dear. Come on Squeaks let's get you cleaned up and ready for bed." Midnight said finishing off the last of her dinner on her plate.

"Okay mommy." Squeaks replied scarfing down the rest of her dinner and then hiccuping a couple of times before blushing.

Sapphire sighed "I swear you are a bad influence on her Midnight." She said taking their plates.

Midnight and Squeaks just looked at each other and Midnight shrugged as Squeaks jumped up on Midnight's back. "Let's get you in the bath Squeaks."

"I want a bubble bath tonight mommy." Said Squeaks with a pout.

Midnight looked at Squeaks for about a minute, and then relented. "Okay Squeaks, you win." Said Midnight as they entered the bathroom.

Midnight had finished drawing the bath for Squeaks and was sitting contemplatively while Squeaks played in the bath. She was so lost in thought that she didn't notice Squeaks was plotting something and only became aware of it when a bubble floated over to her and popped on her horn. "Wha?" Said Midnight snapping out of her trance.

There was Squeaky in the bathtub blowing bubbles at her with an adorable look on her face. "Come on mommy, be happy. I like it when you're happy," Said Squeaks with a squee as she blew more bubbles Midnight's way.

Midnight laughed and looked at Squeaks. "You are something else kiddo." Midnight said with a smirk.

Squeaks squeed again. "Help me wash my mane?" Squeaks asked sweetly.

Midnight smiled and grabbed a cup and set about washing Squeaky's mane before they brushed their teeth and she put Squeaks to bed.

"Good night Squeaks." Midnight said softly.

"Good night mommy." Squeaks replied as she drifted off to sleep.

Midnight joined Sapphire in the hall after quietly closing the door to Squeaks' room. "It's really hard for me to imagine my life without you two."

Sapphire giggled "That taken with us are you?"

Midnight nibbled Sapphire's ear again and smirked. "You know it dear." She said with a wink.

Sapphire giggled again and kissed Midnight as they headed into their room. The pair settled down for the night and Midnight fell asleep quickly but became restless after a few hours. The frustration of not having found any verified information on any other kirins had worn her out more than she had realized.
Midnight began to shift in her sleep as a strange, cryptic dream took shape. She found herself falling into a pitch black ocean and sinking beneath the surface.

Midnight quickly swam to the surface of the pitching, roiling seas and looked around upon breaching. Heavy rain obscured her vision and thunder roared in her ears. Off in the distance she saw the outline of what looked like a series of islands illuminated only by the periodic flashes of lightning coming from the storm clouds.

She tried to focus on the islands, and tried to swim in that direction. At this time she would do anything to get out of the dark, dangerous waters. Frantically she tried to power through the waves only to be driven back by them time and again her strength ebbing with each wave that hit her.

Finally, after much struggle Midnight's strength began to falter and she felt herself begin to slip beneath the waves once more. As she slipped under the water Midnight could swear she heard the roar of dragon.
Midnight woke with a start and fell out of her bed waking Sapphire who looked down at her from the edge of the bed.

"Ow! What the buck!" Midnight said before realizing that Sapphire was looking at her.

"Midnight what happened?" asked Sapphire

Midnight blinked few times and the she tried to untangle herself from the sheets as she replied. "I just had a really weird dream is all. I'll be alright."

"I hope so, you've got be on the train in about two hours." Sapphire replied

"Two hours! Buck!" Midnight exclaimed rushing into the bathroom to shower.

Sapphire gave a confused smile while getting up to wake Squeaks and make breakfast.

Ten minutes later Midnight shambled down the stairs and into the kitchen grumbling. "Stupid, stupid crazy dream." Midnight muttered bitterly under her breath.

Squeaks tilted her head and asked. "Mommy are you okay?"

This snapped Midnight out of her trance. "Oh, yeah Squeaks. Mommy just had a weird dream is all." She then smiled at the filly. "I'll be alright though. I'll talk to Princess Luna and she if she can help me figure it out."

Squeaks nodded "It's a good idea mommy. Princess Luna knows a lot about dreams."

Midnight kept smiling. "I know right kiddo?" She said before trotting over to Sapphire and kissing her.

Sapphire returned the kiss and when they broke from it she hoofed Midnight a plate of food. "Here you are Midnight eat up; you'll need the energy today."

"Thanks dear." Midnight said taking the plate and sitting down at the table.

Midnight, Squeaks, and Sapphire ate and talked casually until they'd finished and it was almost time for Midnight to leave.

"Have a good day at school today Squeaks." Midnight said with a smile while sweeping up the batfilly in a winghug.

"I will mommy, we're having Family Appreciation Day today and Granny Smith is coming in." Squeaks replied

Midnight smiled "Oh? That ought to be interesting then."

"Eeyup." Squeaks replied sounding like Big Macintosh.

Midnight and Sapphire laughed and shared a kiss. "Don't give Princess Luna a hard time okay dear?" said Sapphire

Midnight rolled her eyes. "I'll be on my best behavior." She quipped trotting out the door.

Squeaks titled her head. "Mommy is kind of weird sometimes."

Sapphire laughed in response. "It's better than when she's cranky. Now go get your saddlebags ready Squeaks it's almost time for school."

"Yes mommy." Said Squeaks as she flew up the stairs to her room.

"Squeaks no flying in the house!" Sapphire called after her.

The train ride was a perfect time for Midnight to think. She sat quietly on the Friendship Express as it steamed towards Canterlot she remembered the cryptic dream from the night before.

Midnight sat on the train remembering the strange dream she had the night before. "Where are those islands?" She asked herself. Midnight focused trying to recall the details, but could only remember the brutal storm and the islands highlighted by the flashes of lightning. "What the buck does it all mean?" Midnight asked herself yet again. She simply sat still lost in thought until the train came to a stop and the conductor shouted. "Next stop Canterlot." After the train stopped Midnight disembarked and trotted towards Canterlot castle. Midnight arrived at the castle a few minutes later and made her way past the gate guards and into the castle itself.

She quietly chuckled to herself as she made her way to Princess Luna's office as she remembered a certain cocky pegasus who was the son of a Neighponese ambassador that had called the royal guards a bunch of show ponies and got a first hoof schooling in just how untrue that idea was. Midnight continues along to the office where she was met by Princess Luna's new secretary Star Catcher.

"Hello Midnight." The dark blue pegasus said cheerfully. "I'll tell the princess that you're here."

"Thank you very much Star Catcher." Midnight replied cordially.

Star Catcher smiled and turned towards the office door and entered.

While Midnight was waiting she started to think again. "I should visit Sunset while I'm here. It's been a month since we last talked." She thought to herself. Midnight smiled again, Sunset Shimmer was one of her oldest friends and Princess Luna's protege. She had known Sunset for some number of years now dating back to her time training for the lunar guard.

"Princess Luna will see you now Midnight," Said Star Catcher snapping Midnight out of her revere.

"Thank you Star Catcher." Midnight replied trotting though the door.

"Hello Midnight!" Luna said enthusiastically. "So how is little Squeaky?"

Midnight smiled at the lunar princess. "She is doing just fine princess; Sapphire is doing well too."

"That is good to hear; now about your report. I've noticed that the Everfree Forest hasn't produced any problems lately. Part of me is relieved, but also concerned."

Midnight smirked. "Hey I am fine with not having some creature wander into Ponyville and raising a ruckus every other week. It's been nice to have some peace and quiet for a change."

Luna raised an eyebrow. "And yet you seem to have something weighing heavily on your mind Midnight. Why is that?"

"Is it that obvious?" Midnight deadpanned

Luna nodded. "What is it Midnight?"

Midnight sighed. "I had a strange dream last night telling me to find a place called the Isle of Storms. That wasn't you was it?"

"Neigh dear Midnight, it was not me. But I do think I remember a reference to such a place in the royal archives. Do you have anything more?" Asked Luna.

"In my dream is was told by the voice that it was in the Shining Sea somewhere. That's all I know." Midnight replied "So what about the voice princess? If that wasn't you then who was it?"

"I am afraid that I can not say Midnight. Dreamstriding is an ancient and powerful form of magic known by only a few, but it is known by some other than I. So I am far from the only one capable of such a thing. More over even with the long lives Tia and I have lived there are still many mysteries in the world that even we can not understand." Luna replied

"Well Twilight said I should check the royal archives for anything," Said Midnight.

"It is a good idea." Luna said thoughtfully, and then she brightened up suddenly. "I know I shall send Sunset Shimmer to help you in this task as I am unable to accompany you today. We have to prepare for the arrival of the new Dragon Lord Ember who wished to formalize relations between dragons and ponies."

"Oh! That's why it was so busy around here today. I hardly noticed beyond the increase in patrols." Midnight replied.

Luna giggled "My but you are distracted today." Luna teased causing Midnight to turn red and look away indignant. "I shall send word to the archive keeper and my student, it has been a while since you two last had a chance to talk."

Midnight turned back to the princess. "Thank you princess, and yeah it's been a while. Sunset really needs to get out more."

Luna snorted "I have tried telling her this, but she insists it's not so. Perhaps she'll listen to you on this matter." Luna looked over the reports for a moment longer with a worried expression. She looked up at Midnight and said. "I am going assign a small observation unit from the second division to keep an eye on Everfree in addition to your guards in Ponyville. This silence from the forest has me greatly worried."

Midnight nodded in agreement. "It is an issue of concern princess."

"Yes." Luna agreed picking a quill in her levitation magic and writing on a piece of paper. "Take this to the royal archives and I shall send for Sunset to join you shortly. Between the two of you I suspect you'll be able to locate the information on this Isle of Storms in the Shining Sea." Said Luna floating the paper to Midnight.

"Thank you Princess Luna, maybe we can find out something important." Midnight said standing to leave.

"Indeed, I wish you luck in finding answers Midnight." Luna replied as Midnight trotted out the door.

As Midnight trotted to the archives she thought about what Princess Luna had said. "More over even with the long lives Tia and I have lived there are still many mysteries in the world that even we can not understand." Midnight huffed, of course the princesses didn't know everything, nopony could after all. She continued to think on the matter remembering those words Princess Luna had said to her. "Some things are simply a mystery." She decided right then that she didn't like the particular mystery, and though she would never say it out loud it unnerved her greatly.

Midnight broke from her thoughts and resumed trotting to the archives. She arrived a few minutes later seeing Sunset talking to the gate guard, and Sunset didn't seem too happy at that moment.

"I said I need to go in," Sunset said to the guard.

"And I said I can't let you in unless you have permission." The guard replied sternly causing Midnight to burst out laughing. "What's so funny?" the guard snapped before realizing who he'd just snapped at. "Oh! Captain Storm! I'm sorry I didn't recognize you." He said sheepishly.

Midnight regained her composure and addressed the guard. "You work in the castle but don't know who lives here? Next thing you know you'll be trying to arrest Celestia for impersonating royalty," She retorted sharply leaving the stallion to imagine what would happen in said event.

The grey earth pony looked confused for a moment. Then he looked to Sunset. "Wait, you're Princess Luna's student?" He asked receiving only a nod from Sunset. The guard looked to Midnight and then to Sunset and back, and adopting an almost panicked look her opened the gate. "Please forgive my insubordination ma'am, go right in."

"It's about time." Sunset snapped

Midnight just gave the new guardspony a smirk. "Next time be more aware of who you're talking to rookie. The princess doesn't like it when guards are dense." She said trotting into the archives.

"Y-yes ma'am, it won't happen again." The guard stammered in response.

Midnight chuckled as she trotted through the gate with Sunset.

"Sheesh, it's like he doesn't have a brain or something." Sunset said sounding exasperated.

"Take it easy on the poor guy Sunset, it's his first day." Midnight replied casually.

Sunset stopped and turned in place. "You are telling me to take it easy on him after what you did Midnight?" Sunset smirked "Hypocritical much?"

Midnight shrugged "It's different when you're a guard captain. You have to keep them in line when you're in charge Sunset."

Sunset just shook her head and trotted deeper into the archives. "So what are we looking for exactly anyway Midnight?" Asked Sunset as Midnight fell into step beside her.

"A reference to some place called the Isle of Storms or something like that; it's in the Shining Sea somewhere." Midnight replied plainly.

Sunset sighed "Well it's a place to start anyway. Come on, the history and geography sections are over here. If we check those we should find something we can use."

Within minutes Midnight was looking over a bookshelf trying to find something, but coming up empty. "Hey Sunset, is there anything we can do to narrow this down? It'll take forever if we don't."

Sunset peered from around another bookshelf. "I wish." she replied "Unless you can tell me something more specific we'll just have to look around and hope we get lucky."

Midnight screwed up her face in concentration. "The only other thing I can remember is that island was surrounded by storms."

Sunset looked thoughtful. "An island surrounded by storms huh? You know I think I remember seeing something about that when I was down here last. Give a minute and I'll see if I can find it again."

Midnight sat on her haunches and thought. "Is there anything else?" She asked herself, but no matter how she tried any other details had fled. Had there been many details to begin with? And she was still confused by the voice. Who was it? And how had they known both her name and her desire to know more about her own kind? Midnight found herself more and more unsettled by what had happened and wondered if she should try to check for any other known users of Dream Magic.

"Hey I think I found something!" Sunset said excitedly snapping Midnight out of her thoughtful trance.

"I've got to stop daydreaming like that." Midnight told herself as she went to join Sunset. "So what did you find exactly?"

Sunset turned around with a manic grin on her face that reminded Midnight of Twilight when she made a big discovery. "This." Sunset replied up a scroll in her levitation field.

"It looks old. Are you sure we can rely on anything that this says?" asked Midnight

Sunset nodded "Oh yes, it may be old but it's accurate."

"Okay so what does it say?" Midnight replied.

"Well it doesn't reference a place called the Isle of Storms but it does tell of a place called the Storm Archipelago. And it definitely says that this place is the only place still known to have both dragons and ponies living together. So there should be kirins there Midnight, but there is a problem," Said Sunset.

Midnight cocked her head. "A problem? What kind of problem Sunset?"

The amber unicorn sighed. "Getting there it really hard. You see it's called the Storm Archipelago because it is constantly ringed by severe ocean storms." She said unrolling the scroll. "It can be done though but the captain and ship have to be the very best or you'll never get near the place."

"Can't we just use an airship and go over the storms instead?" Asked Midnight.

Sunset shook her head. "There isn't a single airship that can rise above these storms Midnight, so the only route is by sea. That's why it isn't very well known, almost nopony ever goes there because of the risk. It's also how this population has managed to stay so isolated. It's also how they've avoided any outside interference."

Midnight nodded "That will probably complicate things too considering how long it would have been since they last had contact with the outside world." Midnight grew thoughtful again two hours worth of searching and they had found something. And while it was looking to be a useful bit of information it came with many complications. "We should tell Princess Luna about this. Oh! Do you know what kind of dragons are on this island Sunset?" Asked Midnight she stood and stretched.

"Well there is not a lot here, but the scroll says that the islands are home to a kind of dragon known as a Storm Dragon." Sunset replied

Midnight cocked her head. "Storm Dragon? Is that anything like a Wyvern?"

Sunset sighed "Sort of, Twilight and I came across them when we were doing some joint research last month trying to find out more about dragons in general."

Midnight raised an eyebrow. "Joint research?" She replied skeptically. "Is that all you were doing Sunset?" Midnight teased with a smirk.

"It wasn't like that Midnight!" Sunset defended blushing wildly.

Midnight just kept smiling. Normally she never teased anypony, but given what she was seeing starting with Sunset and Twilight she just couldn't help but harass her friend a little.

"Y-yes Midnight, that's all." Sunset stammered in reply. "Anyway what we found was really quite fascinating. Storm Dragons can more directly manipulate the weather than pegasus ponies or alicorns can. And instead of shooting fire from their mouths like other dragons they expel lightning either in the form of a bolt or a kind of cone."

Midnight's eyes widened. "Really?" She said sounding shocked.

It was Sunset's turn to smirk. "Yes really Midnight. In fact when it comes to storm magic they have the best grasp on it of anypony. That is if what we read was true, some of the tales are quite fantastic." Sunset scrutinized Midnight for a moment and then gasped. "I bet they can help with your storm magic Midnight!" Sunset exclaimed

Midnight's eyes widened again at Sunset's revelation. All of her life she had this particular kind of magic and had occasional trouble with it. Midnight's mother had said that this type of magic was like the result of her father Wind Storm's draconic blood since it was very rare that any unicorns actually had this talent.

"Hey Midnight!" said Sunset "Come on it's not like you to daydream this much."

"S-sorry Sunset; it's just that this has been a lot to take in all at once. I can't believe we found something based on some weird dream I had. It's strange you know?" Midnight replied shakily.

Sunset smiled "Yeah I can only imagine how shocking this must be for you Midnight. But still we need to take this to Princess Luna. I think the only way you're going to get to this place is with her help."

Midnight flexed her wings. "Yeah." She replied somewhat distantly.

"Hey we have something finally Midnight. So put on a happy face alright?" said Sunset

"Okay Sunset." Midnight said with a tired smile.

"That dream last night took a lot out of you didn't it Midnight?" Sunset said as she started to look over the scroll once more.

Midnight sighed "Yeah, it did. More than that I'm worried about how long I'll have to be away from Sapphire and Squeaks while on this trip is all."

"Well I can go to Ponyville and check up on them for you Midnight. I want to share what we found with Sparky anyway." Sunset reared up and cloped her front hooves together. "Just imagine the new areas of research this information opens up!" Sunset squealed

Midnight raised her right eyebrow. "Sparky? Yeah I'm sure you two will be doing a lot of research together alright. I recommend the corner cafe near Sugarcube Corner for some of that research. I hear it's hungry work." Midnight said with a barely restrained smile.

"T-thanks for that Midnight. I'm sure we'll get a lot done working together." Sunset replied blushing.

"I'm sure you two will actually." Midnight replied "Hey why are you looking over the scroll again Sunset?"

Sunset smiled from behind the scroll. "I'm trying to see if there is anything else we can use to help you out Midnight."

"Good idea, we wouldn't want give Princess Luna an incomplete report on what we've found." Midnight said

"It may not be complete as of yet, but I would still like to hear what you have found my little ponies," Said Princess Luna who had come in unnoticed while Sunset and Midnight were talking.

"Ahhhh!" Both mares replied in unison.

Luna giggled "I did not intend to shock you both. So what did you find?"

"Well," said Sunset regaining her composure. "We found an old scroll that references a place called the Storm Archipelago. It says in the scroll that ponies and dragons live there so there should be kirin like Midnight as well."

Luna cocked her head. "The Storm Archipelago you say?"

"Do you know the place princess?" Asked Midnight.

"To an extent, both my sister and I have been aware of it but were never able to journey there ourselves. So it was understandably difficult for us to believe some of the stories that came from the ponies that went there and came back." Luna replied.

"So you knew about this place and didn't tell me?!" Midnight shouted.

"Well, yes and no Midnight. We were indeed aware of it but had not the proof in hoof to be able to say with any degree of certainty. Also because my sister and I deal with so much information on a daily bases it can be exceedingly difficult to know what we can rely on."

"That makes sense." Said Midnight calming down. "But now what do we do? If it really is that difficult to reach I don't see how this helps at all."

The Lunar Princess grew quiet for a few moments before speaking again. "I will speak to my sister and we will make arrangements for you to journey to the Storm Archipelago Midnight. I know of a captain with a ship capable of getting there and back safely. It will still be a rough journey but I want you to make contact with the inhabitants of the islands and see what you can find out Midnight."

"Why send just Midnight princess? Twilight and I could go as well and we'd be better able to work with Midnight to establish some kind of diplomatic ties."

Luna shook her head. "Neigh dear Sunset, I need you here helping my sister's student with further research instead. There may yet be more here in the archives. Still other clues to the whereabouts of more kirin may yet be found and we need the two of you on that."

"So who is going to keep an eye on Sapphire and Squeaks for me then?" Asked Midnight.

"I shall send my best, my personal bodyguard Moonlight Glow. They will help keep an eye on both your family and the alarmingly silent Everfree Forest."

"Isn't that a bad idea?" Midnight asked flexing her wings.

Luna laughed "I'd like to see some errant assassin try to get past my personal guard. I'm sure Head Captain Nightshroud would welcome the exercise." Luna said giving the pair an unnerving smile.

Midnight and Sunset looked at each other shocked, both knew the head captain's reputation and were not wanting the mental imagery they were now having.

Midnight coughed "I need to return to Ponyville so I can start getting ready."

Luna nodded "Yes Midnight, just wait a few days and everything will be ready. Until then spend all of your time with you family, I know how much they mean to you dear Midnight."

"Thank you princess, I will." Midnight then turned to Sunset. "If you and Twilight find anything else let me know when I get back. This could be more wide spread than we realize."

"We will let you know Midnight." Sunset chuckled "Hey maybe you could have your own guard division filled with kirin someday."

Midnight smirked "Maybe, but we need to keep in mind that there are potential threats among other kirin as well, they aren't all going to see eye-to-eye with us after all."

Sunset frowned at the thought as Midnight left the archives. She didn't want that to be the case given how rare kirins were, but it wasn't impossible.

The train ride back to Ponyville was quiet and Midnight was once again lost in thought. While the prospect of more of her kind was exhilarating, it was also frightening to some extent. If any of them decided to attack Equestria then she would be forced to fight her own kind. This was a prospect Midnight did not relish, but if it came to that she would protect her friends and family without hesitation.

Midnight disembarked from the train after it reached the platform and stopped. She moved to an open space and took to the air with a powerful snap of her large leathery wings. She needed to get home as soon as she could so she could tell Sapphire and Squeaks what she learned. As she approached her house she began to feel conflicted. One the one hoof she had what she had been looking for her whole life, but on the other hoof she would have to leave her home and family for an as of yet unknown length of time. And given the late hour of her return she knew Sapphire would probably have dinner waiting as well.

Midnight landed and trotted up to the door, she hesitated for a moment to steel herself and opened the door walking inside to be greeted by Sapphire and Squeaks the later launching herself at Midnight like confetti out of one of Pinkie's party cannons.

"Mommy!" Squeaks squealed as she raced over to hug Midnight who returned the hug. Squeaks pulled back and looked up at Midnight. "So did you find anything with Sunset's help? I bet you did because Sunny is so smart like miss Twilight," Squeaks said with a squee.

Midnight felt her conflicted feelings vanish for a moment and smiled down at the cream colored batfilly. "I sure did Squeaks; now did you get ready for dinner?"

"Yes mommy." Squeaks said with a nod.

"Good, we can eat first and I'll tell you both about it." Midnight replied

Dinner was another relatively subdued affair until Midnight asked Squeaks about school and Family Appreciation Day. The story Squeaks told resulted in Midnight chuckling and then scrunching up her face in disgust when Squeaks told her about the story of the founding of Ponyville by the Apple Family and how Granny Smith licked the four off of the chalkboard afterwards.

"I know she is getting up there in years, but ewww." Midnight said with a shudder.

Sapphire giggled at her wife's discomfort. "Talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth." She joked causing both Midnight and Squeaks to roll their eyes at her.

Squeaky giggled " Yeah, that can't taste very good. I like Granny Smith though, she's fun!" Squeaks said with a smile.

"So how is Sunset doing anyway Midnight?" Asked Sapphire.

Midnight rolled her eyes "Fine I guess. That mare still spends way too much time in libraries and archives though."

Sapphire giggled "She sounds like Twilight then. She really should get out more."

Midnight nodded and dinner continued with both Midnight and Sapphire warning Squeaks to not scarf down her dinner at the risk of getting hiccups. The excited batfilly just blushed and gave both mares a nervous smile before resuming eating in a more careful fashion.

After dinner had ended the trio went into the living room and settled down on the couch, Sapphire and Midnight had settled down at least.

"Squeaks stop bouncing like that. Midnight can't tell us what she found out if you can't settle down long enough for her to tell us." Sapphire scolded.

Squeaks looked at Sapphire. "I'm sorry mommy, I'm so excited right now!" The filly squeaked.

Despite her apprehension Midnight smiled. "Come on now Squeaks." She said extending her left wing for Squeaks. Squeaky eagerly jumped up on the couch and snuggled under Midnight's wing.

Squeaks looked at Midnight with her big yellow eyes full of excitement. "So did Sunset help you find out about more kirins mommy?"

Midnight's conflicted feelings hit her again full force and she sighed. "Yes she did, but there is a problem." Midnight paused unable to speak for a few moments.

"Well what is it?" asked Sapphire

Midnight sighed again. "The place that probably has more kirins is in the south Shining Sea. It's an island chain called the Storm Archipelago."

"So you're going to have to leave then?" Said Squeaks sadly.

Midnight nodded "For a little while yes." She said pulling Squeaks closer with her wing.

"You're going to come back right mommy?" Asked Squeaky.

The question hit Midnight pretty hard. Given that Squeaks had lost her father at such a young age this was what had worried about the most. She nuzzled Squeaks. "Of course baby girl. I wouldn't want to stay away from you two."

Squeaks nuzzled into Midnight's coat. "Okay mommy." Squeaks said sadly, but then her expression changed and she looked at Midnight with a question in her eyes. "Are you going to bring any others like you back mommy?"

"Maybe sweetheart, we'll see if any want to come with me." Midnight replied.

"Yay! I want to meet another kirin." Squeaks chirped.

Sapphire smiled "I'm glad you finally have this chance Midnight. I am concerned about some things though. For example what do we do if we need to deal with something that comes out of the forest when you're away?"

Midnight looked at Sapphire. "Princess Luna is sending an observation team to watch Everfree so they can help if needed. She is also sending Commander Bloodmood and Lieutenant Moonlight Glow to help out with anything you two might need while I'm out."

Sapphire gave an annoyed huff. "I'm not really comfortable with that Midnight. What about ponies from your guard unit instead. That way they won't get under hoof or stand out to much. I'm sure Princess Luna would agree to that."

Midnight thought for a few moments. "I could have Stormer and Slipstream check in on you two I guess. I mean they are right here in Ponyville already and most everypony does already know them. So that might work."

Sapphire nodded approvingly. "Yes that will be better dear."

Squeaks squeed. "Yeah Slipstream is a lot of fun."

Midnight rolled her eyes and smiled. "Just don't get her into to much trouble, okay Squeaks?"

"Yes mommy! I'll be a really good little filly." Squeaks replied squeeing again.

Sapphire sighed "I really don't see why it's needed anyway. The Everfree Forest has been really quiet lately."

"That is why it's needed." Midnight replied "Everfree has never been this quiet Sapphire. It has me worried about the two of you and Fluttershy as well."

"That's a good point." Sapphire conceded

"Let's not worry about it anymore tonight okay you two," Said Midnight.

Sapphire and Squeaks agreed, the next few days were going to be some of the most important of their life as a family.

The Journey Part One

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A few days have passed since Midnight Storm had learned of the existence of the Storm Archipelago in the Shining Sea. A series of islands said not only to be ringed by a series of viscous ocean storms, but to be the home of more living kirins. As Midnight finishes some of her preparations upstairs Sapphire is placing breakfast on the table for their daughter Squeaky Wings when there is a knock at the door.

"Here you are Squeaks." Sapphire said warmly as she placed a bowl of oatmeal topped off with strawberries in front of the filly.

"Thanks mommy!" Squeaks replied with a squee. "So is mama going to have breakfast with us?"

"She will be down soon to have breakfast with us Squeaks." Sapphire replies while going to answer the door. Squeaks smiled and began eating as Sapphire reached the door. Opening it revealed a large black hippogriff and a smaller brown griffon.

"Miss Sapphire it is a pleasure to see you again." The hippogriff spoke formally with a serious tone.

"Stormer it is good to see you again. And hello to you too Slipstream." Sapphire replied.

"Hey Saphy, how's it going?" The griffon responded causing Sapphire to glare lightly at her.

Stormer stared at Slipstream. "How many times have I told you not to be so casual with the captain's wife Slipstream?"

"As of now it stands at four hundred and thirty seven ma'am." Slipstream replied receiving a stern glare from Stormer and an exasperated sigh from Sapphire.

Squeaky upon hearing this broke down into a fit of giggles which caused Slipstream to give both Sapphire and her much more serious counterpart a cocky smirk. "See, Squeaks thinks I'm funny." Slipstream retorted.

Sapphire sighed again. "Just come in you two, Midnight will be down shortly." Sapphire said ushering Midnight's subordinates into the house. "By the way would you two like some coffee while you're waiting?"

"That would be appreciated Mrs. Storm." Stormer replied.

"That would be nice actually, thanks." Said Slipstream. "So how is the captain anyway?"

"Midnight is fine, she may be having a little trouble with her packing though." Sapphire replied with a giggle. "So how would you like your coffee ladies?"

"I'll have mine with cream and sugar." Slipstream said energetically.

"I'll take mine with a little milk please." Stormer said.

"Okay one moment and I'll have it right over to you." Sapphire said as she went about adding the coffee and requested ingredients to each cup. She trotted over to the pair and hoofed them over their cups and then Midnight called from upstairs.

"Hey Sapphire, could you give a hoof with this bag for a moment? It's being a pain in the plot again." Midnight called down.

Sapphire moved to the bottom of the stairs. "Again? Alright I'll be up in a moment." Sapphire turned to the mares and her daughter. "It will be a moment longer I am afraid." Said Sapphire as Midnight muttered some curses under her breath from upstairs.

"Shouldn't you get a new bag mama?" Squeaks called up the stairs.

"When I get a chance sweetheart; and when I remember." Midnight replied muttering the last part under her breath as Sapphire came upstairs.

Slipstream looked to Squeaks. "So one of her bags is being a problem?"

"Kind of," Said Squeaks. "The zipper is kind of a pain sometimes, but I think that is because mommy over packs it." Squeaks said dropping her voice to a whisper causing Slipstream to laugh.

"Packing for a long trip does tend to be stressful." Stormer acknowledged taking a drink of her coffee.

"So what exactly does the captain want us here for I wonder?'" Asked Slipstream. "Because all I've heard is these rumors about the Everfree Forest being quiet all of the sudden."

"I find that to be unlikely," Stormer replied. "Everfree is a dangerous, untamed wild lands area and will likely always be so."

"Actually it's true." Squeaks piped up. "No pony knows why, but it's been really, really, reaaaaaaaalllllyyyy quiet all of the sudden." Squeaks said before munching on a strawberry while waiting on her oatmeal to cool enough to eat it.

Slipstream and Stormer stared at each other in disbelief. Both had lived in Equestria their whole lives and had never once known Everfree to be quiet. Both had always assumes that such a thing was impossible given what live in the vast untamed forest and were now faced with something that they had always thought to be impossible.

"No wonder Princess Luna is sending her bodyguard and an observation team." Slipstream said in awe.

Stomer merely nodded and drank her coffee.

"And that is why I wanted you two here to keep an eye on Sapphire and Squeaks." Midnight said coming downstairs with Sapphire and some of her bags. "That and to keep an eye on the forest too. Everfree has been too quiet for far to long and I am concerned by that."

Stormer hummed and replied. "Is that why Princess Luna has sent her student as well captain?"

"No," Said Midnight. "Sunset Shimmer is here to aid Twilight Sparkle with more extensive research on other kirins and where they could be located. It has become more of a priority after Sunset and I discovered the information about the Storm Archipelago in the Royal Archives."

"So now that we have more solid information it has finally become more important then?" Asked Slipstream.

Sapphire shook her head and replied. "No, it's always been important to the diarchs to find out more about kirins. We just never had much solid to go on until now."

Stormer scratched her chin thoughtfully. "Didn't the sisters know many kirins at one point in their long lives?"

Midnight sighed. "That was over a thousand years ago, and from what both princesses have told they all seem to have vanished one day out of the blue. That's why this trip is too important for me to put off until we can figure out why Everfree is so quiet." Midnight's concern was etched on her face as she spoke and her tail moved back and forth showing her worry. "That is also why I need you two here to keep an eye on Sapphire and Squeaks. Princess Luna wanted her bodyguard Moonlight Glow to be in charge of that, but Sapphire wanted you two here so as not to get underhoof."

"I see captain." Stormer replied. "This is a very delicate situation indeed."

"So what about the observation team? Do we help them too captain?" Asked Splistream.

"Only if things get out of hoof or Sapphire and Squeaks are directly in danger. The observation team Princess Luna is sending are from the second, so they are perfectly capable of handling things. That and I have heard rumors that an agent from Princess Celestia's monster hunting agency is living right here in Ponyville. I don't really believe it myself, but if it proves to be true then I am sure they will be helpful as well." Midnight said sternly.

"So we observe and report, but do not otherwise act unless it is necessary. Understood ma'am." Stormer said with a salute.

"That is correct." Midnight replied. "Sapphire here will pass along any reports and especially anything urgent."

"Yes ma'am." Both hybrids replied.

"Okay now that's out of the way lets all have breakfast. I made enough for everyopony after all." Sapphire said as she returned to the kitchen.

Squeaks squeed at the news she was having guests, she liked Stormer and Slipstream. Slipstream in particular had a habit of making Squeaks laugh like Pinkie Pie would often do.

Meanwhile in the abnormally quiet Everfree Forest a pair of ears twitch and an owl's talon flexes proving that the forest is not entirely still.

Later than morning at the train station Sapphire and Squeaks are saying their goodbyes to Midnight.

"Okay now I want to you stay safe Midnight," Sapphire said.

"Sapphire I am in the royal guard, there isn't a lot of safety in that line of work." Midnight deadpanned in reply. "Besides, I am not reckless like Rainbow is so don't worry so much alright?"

"I know dear." Sapphire conceded. "But I still worry anyway." Sapphire replied as Midnight snorted. "Now try not to bite anypony's head off or set anypony on fire while on the ship okay Midnight."

Midnight let out a snort at Sapphire's remark while Squeaks let out a squeaky giggle. "Oh come on mommy, mama is not that bad."

Midnight smiled at Squeaks. "Thanks kiddo. I am glad somepony here gets me," Midnight said while ruffling Squeaks' mane.

Squeaks squeed while Sapphire rolled her eye at Midnight's antics. "Just come back in one piece Midnight. That's all I ask."

"I will Sapphire." Midnight replied turning serious before she and Sapphire share a parting kiss. "I've got to go now or I'll miss my train," Midnight said picking up her baggage and heading into the train car.

"Say hi to the other kirins for me mommy," Squeaks said as Midnight got on to the train.

Midnight smiled and said. "I will Squeaks, I promise." Midnight trotted to a bench and sat down looking out the window at Sapphire and Squeaks and smiled and waved back as Squeaks wave at her. The train lurched forward and began to depart Midnight felt a sense of satisfaction that while she was away Ponyville would be looked after and that Sapphire would be able to take charge if she needed to.
Three days later.

Midnight stretched as she emerged from the train. It had been a long trip and she was finally in Las Pegasus where she would be meet the captain of the ship she would take to the Storm Archipelago. She had retrieved her bags from the luggage car of the train and looked at one in particular. "Squeaks is right, I need to replace this one soon." She thought to herself. Sighing she picked it up in her wing claw and started towards the docks, until she realized that she didn't know where they were. Facehoofing and grumbling for a moment she decided to ask somepony when a tap on her shoulder got her attention.

Midnight turned and looked to see a blue coated pegasus pony wearing the uniform of the Equestrian Royal Navy.

"Captain Midnight Storm?" Asked the mare.

"Yes, and you are?" Asked Midnight.

"I am First Mate Storm Rider of the Equestrian Royal Navy ship Sea Spray. It is an honor to meet you ma'am." The replied with a wing salute.

"I don't remember Princess Luna telling that there would be anypony meeting me at the train station." Midnight huffed sounding annoyed at the oversight.

"Apologies ma'am, it happened at the last minute despite Princess Luna's efforts to the contrary. The Sea Spray just came out of dry dock after a run in with a hurricane last month and we've been scrambling ever since." The first mate replied. "If you'll follow me I'll take you to the ship and the captain."

"Just out of dry dock?" Midnight said now sounding shocked. "Are you sure the ship is even ready?"

Storm Rider smirked. "I can assure you that the Sea Spray is tougher than any hurricane captain. Just follow me and you'll see what I mean," She said trotting away.

"Okay, I guess I'll take your word for it," Midnight said with a shrug as she began to follow Storm Rider. After a twenty minute trot they arrived at the docks and Midnight was guided by Storm Rider to a very sturdy looking Galleon that certainly looked like it could weather just about anything.

"I see what you mean, she sure looks sturdy," Midnight said.

"She the finest ship in the navy captain." Storm Rider replied. "Right this way and I'll show you to her captain." Said Storm Rider resuming her trot towards the ship with Midnight following wordlessly. They continued their trot up the ship's gangplank and onto the deck where Midnight saw something, or rather someone unexpected.

She saw a crystal earth pony mare standing on the deck and giving instructions to the crew who simply saluted and went about making whatever final preparations were being ordered.

Storm Rider approached the mare and spoke. "Captain Blue, Captain Storm is here now."

"Thank you Storm Rider I'll tend to my business with her while you help the rest of the crew ready the ship for departure." She replied.

Storm Rider saluted. "Aye, aye ma'am."

The Captain turned towards Midnight. "So you are the famous Midnight Storm then? I must admit that when Princess Luna said you were going to the Storm Archipelago and that you needed my ship to do that I was curious. I am Captain Naval Blue of the Royal Equestrian Navy at your service Captain Storm," She said in a soft voice that sounded more fit for an Applewood actress than a soldier.

Midnight took in the mare in front of her for a moment. She was slender, soft looking mare with a dark blue coat and a white name and tail. Her cutie mark which was a naval captain's hat looked out of place on this mare even with her being clad in a naval uniform. "You are not what I thought you'd be captain." Midnight replied in a tone that failed to mask her surprise.

The mare's sea-foam green eyes lit up as she laughed. "I know right? There aren't too many crystal ponies outside of the Crystal Empire usually. And fewer still in the Equestrian Armed Services. Anyway, because of the downturn in pirate activity in that part of the Shining Sea we have more than enough time to help you out with this."

Midnight cocked her head. "Piracy is on the downturn?"

Naval nodded. "I don't know why exactly, but the pirates have gone really silent throughout the whole region. So we'll have no real trouble until we reach the archipelago, then we may get lucky or not."

"Have you been there before?" Asked Midnight.

Naval sighed. "Just a couple of times. We ran aground in that area the first time and the second time we needed supplies due to an unexpected shortage. And to answer your next question, yes there are kirins there."

Midnight looked at her puzzled. "And you didn't report this to your superiors?"

Captain Blue facehoofed. "We did, but we were roundly dismissed. Some of the officers don't really believe that there are kirins still out there in the world Midnight. And they tend to look at you as an anomaly. Some ponies actually think that you're not a kirin at all and you're just using magic of some kind to fake it." Naval faced Midnight and looked at her very carefully. "But I can tell that you are the real thing Midnight Storm. There is no doubt in my mind."

It was Midnight's turn to facehoof. "I can't believe that some ponies still think that way."

"Buck 'em." Naval replied flatly. "They can be that way, but soon enough they'll see that they don't know everything they think they do."

Midnight smirked, she could tell that she and Captain Blue were going to get along just fine. "So my reputation doesn't concern you then?"

Naval laughed. "Captain Storm I married a griffon, so I can handle a grump well enough." Her words came with a knowing wink. "Now I'll show you to your cabin so you can get settled and we can get going. Maybe we'll catch a lucky break and the storms won't be so bad."

"I hope so." Midnight replied while following the captain.

Ponyvile, at the Ponyville school house, lunch time.

Squeaky Wings along with her friends Berry Pinch, Dinky Do, and Twist sit down at an outside table for lunch. Squeaky opens up her lunch box, pulls out a salad in a plastic container and starts poking at it with the fork she'd also retrieved from her lunch box.

"Squeakth, ith thomething wrong?" Asked Twist.

"Yeah, you seemed off all day today." Observed Pinchy.

The display of concern broke Squeaky from her trance. "Oh," She said with a sigh. "It's just that mom had to leave on some business for a while."

"More royal guard stuff?" Asked Dinky.

Squeaks looked thoughtful for a moment before answering. "Yeah, well kind of. You see mommy and and Sunset Shimmer found out a place where there are more kirins!" She squeaked out excitedly causing her friends to gasp in astonishment.

"Really?" The trio of fillies replied in unison.

"Yeah." Squeaky replied while getting a bottle of mango juice out of her lunch box and opening it. After drinking some of it and setting the bottle down on the table she resumed speaking. "But it's all of the way down in the south Shining Sea. And the, archy-pella-goo has nasty storms all around it." Squeaks said sounding a bit unsure.

" Archipelago." Dinky corrected. " And I can see why you're worried then," Dinky said thoughtfully. "However we're talking about more kirins here!" She squeed with excitement.

Pinchy nodded in agreement while munching on an apple slice. "Yeah! This is gonna be epic!"

"Oh, oh, oh. Think of the new Pillow Knighth adventurth we could come with!" Twist said excitedly getting her friends to nod in agreement.

Squeaky stuck her form in her salad and ate some it while thinking. "Hmmm, The Lost Treasure of the Storm Islands?" Squeaky proposed after swallowing the salad.

Pinchy hummed. "Maybe, but what kind of enemy do we fight?"

Dinky and Twist hummed in unison at the thought.

"Shoot!" Pinchy shouted breaking the fillies' thoughtful silence. "I can't come up with anything."

"Don't worry about it." Squeaks replied. "We'll come up with something," She said with Dinky and Twist nodding in ascent.

At the same time as the fillies are dreaming up adventures to have Twilight Sparkle and Sunset Shimmer are at the train station awaiting the observation team representative.

"So what do you know about the observation team that Princess Luna is sending Sunset?" Asked Twilight.

"Well they come from the second Lunar Guard division. So they know how to gather information. I've also heard that they are being led in the mission by a unicorn from the Royal Academy for Gifted Spellcasters." Sunset replied.

"Wait, it's somepony we went to school with? Do you know what kind of magic they use Sunset?" Twilight asked sounding a little surprised.

Sunset nodded. "Yeah, I think I remember hearing that she was a shadow magic user too."

Twilight's face showed shock. " There was only one pony that had that kind of magic for her talent Sunset."

"I know." Sunset replied. "I didn't think we'd all end up here in Ponyville at the same time together. I guess I really underestimated the Everfree Forest Sparky."

Twilight giggled into her hoof. "No pony could ever predict that place Sunny."

"True." Sunset replied while giggling back at Twilight.

As the two mares giggled and talked lightly they were approached by a unicorn mare with a dark grey coat and a dark purple mane and tail. Her dark green eyes seemed to sparkle as she saw the two mares talking as she approached and some the nearby ponies noticed the cutie mark on her flanks. After all a jet black ball of magic wreathed in purple fire was unusual.

"Excuse me," She said interrupting Sunset and Twilight's conversation. "Twilight Sparkle, Sunset Shimmer; I am lieutenant Umbra Shroud of the second Lunar Guard Division. I am here with the observation team to investigate the disturbing stillness of the Everfree Forest."

Twilight cocked her head. "I seem to remember you Umbra. You were at the Royal Academy for Gifted Spellcasters at the same time as us right?"

Umbra nodded. "That is correct Twilight Sparkle, though we didn't have much contact." Umbra studied Sunset and Twilight for a moment. "Wasn't Trixie Lulamoon usually with the two of you?"

"Yes she was. Although she is currently performing in Vanhoover right now and will be back in Ponyville in a few days." Twilight replied.

Concern crossed Umbra's face. "She isn't planning on traveling through Everfree is she?"

"No." Sunset replied.

The grey unicorn breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank Luna, we don't need any further complications in our assignment. Some ponies in parliament saw fit to object to out deployment thus the delay in our arrival."

Both Sunset and Twilight facehoofed. "Well that answers that question," Said Sunset bitterly.

"What!" Twilight squeaked indignantly. "I can't believe the bureaucrats would get in the way like that!"

"They have no sense of history Twilight, nor do they grasp just how bad this is." Umbra replied flatly. "As for the rest of my group they are already checking in the the mayor at town hall. We should be ready to start our investigation tomorrow morning. As Princess Luna and Celestia requested we will keep the mayor, yourself, and Sunset appraised of our findings."

"Very well then. Twilight replied. "Would you like our help? I'm sure that Sunset and I can provide at least some assistance in your investigation."

Umbra shook her head. "No Twilight Sparkle, you would only be under hoof, and since we have no idea what we may be up against it's best for the two of you to remain in Ponyville. And I'd prefer not to upset both of the diarchs by placing you at unnecessary risk. This is our duty as members of the royal guard and our risk to take. Besides my understanding was that you and Sunset Shimmer have important research to carry out on the matter of kirins like Captain Storm. You can best aid us in this way and by keeping in touch with the princesses."

For a moment Twilight looked as she was going to protest before Sunset stopped her. "Listen Twilight. Umbra has got a point. We're not trained for this kind of thing and would only get in their way. Besides that we do have our own duties to take care of. Both Luna and Celestia want more information on kirins and it's our job to see what we can find. So let's focus on that okay Sparky?"

Twilight deflated. "Okay Sunset, you're right. But I'm not really happy about it."

"Don't get so down Twilight. We'll be needed to look over their reports too," Said Sunset causing Twilight to brighten up.

Umbra nodded. "That is right," She said her tone now less formal. "The combined knowledge and expertise the two of you have will serve the investigation better that way. And to be honest I'd rather not have to face either princess should something happen to you in the field. That would not end well." Umbra's statement hung in thick in the air causing all three mares to shudder.

Twilight gave a nervous giggle. "Yeah, I can see why you wouldn't want that."

Sunset facehoofed. "Don't remind me Sparky. I still remember that time at the academy when that guest speaker got on Celestia's bad side."

Umbra gave a polite cough and simply said. "Quite. Now I need to rejoin my team so we can get back on track. you two can expect that first report in a day or two depending on the circumstances," Umbra said as she departed.

Twilight turned to Sunset. "Okay so what books do we start with? I suggest Tales From the Dragon Lands by A.K. Yearling."

Sunset facehoofed. "Twilight those books are just fantasy stories written by Yearling when she's not busy with her latest Daring Do book. No what we need to look at is..."


"...USING YOUR FACE FOR A SEAWEED WRAP!" Midnight snarled at the argumentative stallion in front of her.

The yellow coated stallion was not backing down however. "Now you listen here Captain Storm. This here is my galley and I don't need you getting in my way while I'm trying make lunch for the rest of the crew!"

"Celestia's plot! I won't get in your way! I just want to cook my fish!" Midnight shot back.

The stallion stood firm glaring at Midnight who glared back with equal intensity. Lighting seemed to be shooting from the eyes of both the kirin and the pony involved in the standoff until a voice broke the stalemate with a laugh.

Both contestants turn to see a light blue mare with an aquamarine mane and tail and a cutie mark depicting a placid stretch of ocean. "I swear Onion Skin, you are just far too territorial about the galley. Besides if you let Captain Storm cook her catch she'll be out of your way a lot faster. And it's not like you're going to have all of that food ready in the next ten minutes anyway," She said with a smile playing in her pearl pink eyes.

The stallion harrumphed in reply. "I guess you've got a point there Calm Seas." Onion Skin replied while turning back to Midnight. "Just don't make a habit of this okay Captain Storm. I'm the cook here and I do the cooking, He said stomping off to the back room.

Midnight snorted. "I'll cook the stupid fish myself thank you." Midnight muttered under her breath her tail flicking back and forth in annoyance. "Some ponies." Midnight huffed.

Calm Seas giggled. "Don't let Onion's gruff exterior get to you captain, he is actually just a big softy."

"I find that difficult to believe." Midnight deadpanned.

Calm rolled her eyes. "He's like the onions he is named for, he has layers captain. He is only grumpy on the surface."

Midnight snorted. "That sounds like something Sapphire would say about me." Midnight replied with a small laugh.

Calm looked at Midnight quizzically. "Your marefriend?"

"Wife actually." Midnight replied as she placed a frying pan on the stove and began preparing to cook her fish.

"Oh, I hadn't heard that you were married captain. So how is it being married?" Asked Calm Seas.

Midnight broke into a dopey grin. "It's pretty great actually, and our daughter Squeaks makes it even more worthwhile. I wouldn't trade them for anything."

Calm Seas smiled back. "You certainly seem happy with them."

"I am. " Midnight replied. "So what can you tell me about where we are going Calm Seas? What are the dragons and kirins like there?"

"Oh now there is a fascinating subject captain. First the dragons are a unique type of dragon called Storm Dragons. They tend be smaller than other kinds of dragons spit lightning out rather than breathing fire. They also have a kind of weather manipulation magic that they're born with so they can use that for different things as well. I once saw one of them wield a lightning bolt in her claw like a whip." Calm Seas replied enthusiastically.

"Really? I had no idea that could be done." Midnight replied.

"Neither did I until I saw it. It makes me wonder what else they can do with their storm magic," Said Calm Seas.

"I'm wondering that as well," Midnight said oiling the pan before adding the fish. So is there anything else you can tell. me?"

"Not much really. You'll have to talk to other crew members to find out more about it. When we get there you'll find out a lot more though," Said Calm Seas.

"Ain't that the truth," Onion said coming out of the back room. "Here captain, try these with your fish. We got them from the kirins on the islands." Onion placed some plants that looked like peppers of some kind on the counter in front of her.

Midnight eyes the peppers cautiously. "Are you sure these are safe?"

"Oh definitely, they've got quite a kick though so be careful." He replied with a chuckle. "Now where did I put that stupid pickle barrel again?"

Calm Seas rolled her eyes. "It's down in the hold Onion."

The stallion facehoofed. "Thanks Calm; I'd forget my mane if it wasn't attached," He said exiting the galley.

"And you trust him to cook when he forgets that easily?" Midnight asked.

Calm seas giggled. "Trust me, he may forget where some things are placed but he never screws up a recipe. He is kind of a genius in the kitchen."

"I guess. " Midnight replied still eyeing the peppers.

"Here, I'll show you how to cut these and use them so you don't overdo it." Calm Seas said crossing the room. "Onion want's kidding about how hard these kick if you don't use them just right. Thankfully I've watched him do it so I can help you out."

"Thank you then. I wasn't sure how this trip was going to go." Midnight replied.

"Oh don't worry about us captain. We're the best crew in the royal navy," Calm said with a smirk.

Midnight laughed. "You remind me of a certain griffon I work with. She's pretty cocky, but she hasn't let me down yet."

Calm Seas laughed in reply. "Well then you know you're in good hooves captain. Now let's get that fish cooked shall we?"

As Calm Seas demonstrates the proper method of cutting and using the peppers she and Midnight begin talking about random subjects. Calm Seas also points out the the crew members that might have the most interesting stories about kirins of the islands for her to listen to.