The Ruinous Powers come to Equestria, and nothing good comes of it.
In the grim darkness of the 41 millennium, there is only war. War, and Friendship.
When the Ruinous Powers of the Warhammer 40,000 universe take an intrest in Equestria, you know nothing good is going to come out of it. When Celestia is struck down by an agent of Tzeentch, the land of Equestria will soon find itself locked in combat with it's own denizens as Chaos itself begins to corrupt the land. Discord was difficult enough, but now our little ponies will have to face four gods of chaos at the same time.
A (Comedic/Dark/Adventurous) Warhammer 40,000 and Friendship is Magic crossover. Here be fanon, canon, and headcanon of both series.
It was a beautiful bright day in the town of Ponyville. The sun shone bright as can be, the birds were singing. And as far as Rarity, Ponyville’s own unicorn fashionista, could attest, not a hair seemed out of place on this nice quiet day.
That is, until the sudden explosion came from within the tree library in the middle of the town. The sudden boom that accompanied a flash of light and sparks from within the Books And Branches Library was loud, thunderous, and more than enough to send a certain trio of florists into a panic.
"The horror! The horror!” screamed the most vocal of the three, holding her hooves to her cheeks before galloping of with her co-workers in a panic. If the earlier explosion wasn’t enough, the trio of panicking planter ponies running through the town was more than enough to catch the attention of Applejack, who had been working at her apple stand at the time.
“What in tarnation’?” she exclaimed, before galloping off towards the library, which now had smoke pouring out of the windows. With a hop, skip, and a jump, she landed at the building’s red door, faced away from it, and applebucked it off of its hinges. The door flew inward, hitting the floor of the library with a clatter. Smoke billowed out of the now open doorway, nearly blasting the Earth Pony full in the face. Taking a step back, she took her hat in hoof and placed it over her mouth.
“Twi’, Spike?! You two alrigh’?!” the orange Earth Pony shouted as she galloped in. Thankfully, she didn't see any fire in the room, just an inordinate amount of smoke. Her call was answered by a series of coughs and hacks as a purple unicorn stumbled out of the smoke, her dark violet mane frazzled as she struggled to force the smoke from her lungs. Without a thought, Applejack returned her hat to its proper place, snagged the lavender unicorn's tail in her mouth, and pulled her friend out the door. Once free of the smoky library, she released Twilight's tail.
Twilight Sparkle, magician extraordinaire and personal pupil of Princess Celestia herself, fell flank first to the ground, still coughing as she shook her head and wiped away the soot that covered her face. “Applejack—" the lavender unicorn coughed out, trying to form a sentence. A series of coughs crushed any hope of that. The orange farmpony took the brim of her hat in her mouth and fanned her friend with it, trying to blow away any remaining smoke.
"Don't talk, sugarcube, breathe!" ordered Applejack as soon as she ceased fanning her compatriot with her hat. "Landssakes! What in the name of mah great-aunt happened in there!?"
"Applejack! Twilight!" called a cycle of voices from behind Applejack. Turning to the clamor, the farmpony was relieved to see the rest of her friends rushing over to assist.
Ahead of the entire pack was Rainbow Dash, who dropped to the ground before rushing to the duo. "What happened?!" she exclaimed, looking at the smoke billowing from the front door of the library. There was no visible open flame, but thick black smoke still poured from the tree's interior.
Coming up right behind the speedy pegasus was a bright pink earth pony whose poofy, curly hair far out-shined her Cutie Mark of three balloons. Rather than running as Applejack had done earlier, this Pony had urgently skipped over to where everyone was gathering.
"Omigosh, isTwilightalright?! IwasworkinginSugarCubeCorneronsomesweetswhenIheardaHUGE-" The rapid-fire speaking of the energetic Earth Pony was cut off by Applejack silencing her with a hoof to the mouth.
"Pinkie, calm down. Twilight's fine, she just needs some air" she said, removing her hoof from the mouth of Ponyville's premiere party pony.
As Pinkie rushed to Twilight to envelop her in a massive hug (blatantly ignoring Applejack's advice to give her some air), a pristine white unicorn with a luxurious purple mane and a trio of blue gemstones adorning her flank was the next to arrive. Her reaction was simple and to the point. "WA-HAHA!" she exclaimed, jumping up a bit as she took in the disaster before her very eyes. So much disarray! So much untidiness! So much unfabulosity!
"Twilight dear! Are you alright?!" she said, galloping over to the coughing unicorn, much to Applejack's chagrin. ("Ah swear, yah tell some ponies to give another pony some air and they crowd her worse'n hogs 'round fresh slop.") "Pinkie, step aside."
"Okie Dokey Loki!" the pink pony said, hopping away and giving the Unicorn fashionista access to the coughing Twilight. Screwing her face up in concentration, Rarity focused. She'd need to get every last bit of horrid, dirty, filthy smoke out of her friend's lungs. This was going to be a delicate move, so she couldn't afford to let her thoughts stray. Her horn glowed with a soft blue light, and Twilight's chest followed suit.
"Twilight, dear? I need you to breathe out now." Rarity requested. As Twilight exhaled, the ivory Unicorn gently let her magic pull every last smoky molecule out of her friend's lungs. While she wasn't as mystically powerful as Twilight, she had a keen sense of detail that helped her in this effort greatly, gently securing the smoke in a wreath of magic and easing it out by riding along Twilight's exhalation. With Twilight's every breath, smoke that shimmered with Rarity's magic would follow. There was a considerable amount, no doubt because Twilight had been at the point where some spell or potion backfired. The moment Rarity released her concentration, the remaining smoke floated away and dissipated, allowing Twilight to take a breath without coughing. Rarity also began to pant, not being used to such intense magic use.
Applejack approached the white unicorn, a confused, if relieved look on her face. "Rar', I thank yah for helpin' clear Twi's lungs, but did you really have to use magic?"
Rarity sniffed. "Honestly Applejack. Twilight was most likely at the source of all this smoke when that rather raucous explosion occurred, and she inhaled a good deal of it. As you saw, there was a considerable amount of it still in her lungs."
"Yeah... but wouldn't coughin' get rid of it all? You sure you weren't showin' off?"
At this accusation, Rarity gasped. "Applejack, I'm insulted! Me, show off? I'd never do something so barbaric!" The white Unicorn turned, 'hmmph'ing before stepping away.
Applejack shook her head before looking back to Twilight, who had finally caught her breath. "You alrigh' sugarcube?" she'd ask. "What in the hay happened in there?"
Twilight shook her head in an attempt to clear it. "I was working on an alchemical formula, and I stepped away for a second to grab some powdered wormroot. That's when I heard Spike exclaim-" she stopped, her eyes widening in a mix of fear and shock. "Spike! Owlowiscious! They’re still in there!"
"Oh my goodness!" a fourth voice suddenly piped up. Fluttershy landed, quivering in fear at the large cloud of smoke still billowing from the front door.
"I got’em!" Rainbow Dash announced, before zipping inside the house, a prismatic blur showing the path she took. A moment later, she zipped back out, coughing. "The smoke's too thick; I can't see a darn thing. There's no fire, either!"
"Open the windows for Celestia's sake!" Applejack exclaimed, running over to a ground floor window and opening it, ducking out of the way to avoid the smoke that billowed out. Normally, if there had been a fire, opening the window would cause air to rush in, worsening the fire; however, in this case, without the fear of a conflagration, opening the windows assisted in ventilating the house and clearing out the smoke. Fluttershy and Dash took to the air, opening the windows that were too high for their earth-bound fellows. As Fluttershy opened the balcony doors, a soot covered owl suddenly flew out. Twilight let out a small sigh of relief as she saw her nighttime assistant fly out, circling the library once before descending. She trotted over to the normally nocturnal avian, who was shaking himself and ruffling his feathers to clear the smoke and soot from him.
"Owlowiscious! Did you see Spike?! Is he alright?!" Twilight inquired, getting in the owl's face with each panicked question. Hopping back a step, the owl took a moment to smooth out his ruffled feathers.
"Hoo." he hooted, uttering the only sound he could make. If anyone could have understood Owl at that moment, they would have heard the simple hoot as "I saw him, he's alright." Unfortunately, nopony there was fluent in the language of nocturnal avians; consequently, his hoot was misunderstood as a question, one that Twilight didn't want to hear at all.
"SPIKE! THE DRAGON WHO- AUGGH!" the lavender Unicorn bellowed, the momentary relief she felt a moment ago vanishing, before falling to the ground and sobbing. She was terrified of what might have happened to the one companion that she had had with her almost all her life. As Twilight's overactive imagination got the hold of her once more, the smoke within the library had diminished considerably; flowing out the open windows. Without a moment's hesitation, Rainbow Dash raced inside the library.
"HANG ON SPIKE!" she'd bellow as she rushed inside, leaving the remaining five ponies outside. The interior of the library was now much easier for the sky blue Pegasus to navigate, save for the constant flow of smoke coming from a brownish gold liquid on the table; most likely the potion that caused this mess. At once, she spotted an all too familiar purple tail sticking out from under the table. Faster than Pinkie could say "Ten Seconds Flat" (which is quite a feat, considering how much of a motor mouth the pink pony could be), Dash zoomed down to the floor, grabbed the young dragon's tail in her mouth and began to pull! No cry of pain or any other reaction came from the dragon; that worried Rainbow. It meant he was either out cold or worse… no! With a shake of her head, the Pegasus would steel herself; there was no way Spike would die at all! He was a bucking dragon, no stupid smoke or weird potion was going to put him down! Rainbow Dash tightened her grip on Spike's tail, the hard scales being more than enough protection against the bite, and began to drag the young dragon across the floor.
"Jeeze Spike! You need to lay off of the gemstones; you're heavier than I remember!" the prismatic Pegasus said as she dragged Spike along the floor, flapping her wings to assist in moving the dragon. Why was he so heavy? Before Dash could dwell on that thought anymore, a sudden gust of fresh, non-smoky air hit her lungs; she was no longer within the library. Still, she dragged the purple reptile a bit more till he was completely out of the library.
"Spike!" Twilight screamed, before getting up and galloping over to Dash and the currently unconscious Spike. She nearly bowled over Rainbow, causing the Pegasus to grab her and hold onto her.
"Twilight, clam down! You need to give him some air!" This statement from Equestria's Best Young Flier did nothing to assuage the Unicorn's fear.
"What's wrong with him?! Is he sick?! Is he hurt?! Is he-" she yelled, trying to squirm out of her friend's grasp.
"Twilight! Calm down NOW!"
The sudden order from Fluttershy silenced everyone in the vicinity as the yellow Pegasus flapped on over to the panicking Unicorn and the Pegasus restraining her, pushing them aside as she began to look over Spike. All eyes were on Fluttershy now as she walked around the unconscious dragon, looking him over. Twilight looked away, sobbing into her hooves. The rest of her friends trotted over to the distraught Unicorn, trying to comfort her. Seconds turned to minutes, and to Twilight those minutes felt like hours. What felt like an eternity passed before Fluttershy looked up... and smiled.
“He's just sleeping. A lump on the head knocked him out cold.” the yellow Pegasus said, trotting back over to the gathering of ponies. At once, they all let out a collective sigh; Twilight's tears returned, but out of joy rather than devastation.
“Hey! You know what this calls for?!” Pinkie Pie suddenly exclaimed, before reaching into her obscenely poofy mane and extracting a noise maker and a small Alligator, its toothless mouth gripping her foreleg. “A PARTY!” the party pony bellowed, before blowing into the noise maker. A light trumpeting noise sounded out from the party favor, along with a cloud of confetti that flew off of the tip of the noisemaker.
“…Pinkie dear, how long was Gummy in your mane?” Rarity asked; baffled at how Pinkie Pie used her mane, her mane of all things, as storage! It bordered on a crime against Fabulosity!
“The whoo~ole time.” Pinkie replied, a smile on her face. Pinkie’s usual bout of randomness, along with the fact that Spike was safe, was more than enough to get Twilight to cease her tears, smile and then laugh.
“Oh Pinkie.” The lavender Unicorn said, pulling all of her friends into a hug. “Thank you all so much; I don’t know what I would have done without you girls.”
“You’d still be coughing up smoke like a dragon! RAAAAWR!” Pinkie piped up once more, doing a rather poor imitation of a dragon. All ponies present began to laugh.
“You mean like Spike?” Rainbow Dash piped in, obviously meaning it as a joke.
“No, he’s far too young to start breathing out smoke. His fire-breath isn’t that developed.” Twlight replied a matter o’ factly. “It says in Sarkhoof Vol’s Guide to Dragons that cesium fire dragons like Spike don’t have the ability to just breathe out smoke until they reach a certain age.”
“What age might that be?” Fluttershy asked, looking back to the sleeping dragon.
“Around 17 years of age, when their spines take on a sharper appearance. Why do you ask?”
“Oh… well, it’s just…” Fluttershy squeaked, looking down to the ground and shuffling her left forehoof into the dirt.
“What’s up Fluttershy?” Twilight would ask, getting closer to the timid Pegasus. A look of panic flashed across her face for a second. “Nothing’s wrong with him, is it?!”
“N-no, not at all!” Fluttershy quietly explained. “It’s just that… well… did he shed recently?” Twilight racked her brains for a second, thinking… yes, Spike did go through a molt recently; no less than two days ago. You don’t forget cleaning up the old skin of your number one assistant that easily, especially when the empty eye sockets staring right at you dive right into the uncanny valley.
“Why yes he did, no less than two days ago.” The lavender unicorn said, raising an eyebrow. “Why the sudden curiosity?”
“Oh, um… it’s just that… you might want to open some windows soon…” Fluttershy replied, looking back down. “Spike’s spines are a bit… sharp.”
“What? That can’t be right.” Twilight said, trotting over to Spike. “That’s completely ridiculous! He’s a few years younger than me, and even then he still has a number of years before his spines even become poi-”
Twilight stopped, blinked twice, and before just staring at her unconscious draconic friend. Fluttershy had been right, his spines were sharp! But that wasn’t the only difference…
“But, but… I don’t… WHAT?!” she cried, throwing her head back. "Great! First my library explodes, I nearly suffocate from smoke, and now this?! CAN THIS GET ANY WORSE?!"
Unfortunately for Twilight, it was about to get worse. Much, much worse.
The Warp: a swirling, psychic realm of non-space and raw energy. A dark reflection of the material universe. An ocean of chaos. Raw emotion given energetic form. The home of daemons and chaos itself. Some have likened it to the hell described in certain religions; they aren't far off. The souls of the dead are rumored to wander the Immaterium, meandering aimlessly until they are plucked up and devoured by daemons and the Ruinous Powers. It's not a nice place, not one bit; especially when the Chaos God of Blood and Rage is angry.
Khorne stormed into Slaanesh’s domain, seething with an anger that would give an Angry Marine pause. The warpborn manifestation of all anger, bloodlust, and martial prowess in the universe slapped aside a stray Daemonette that had gotten in his way, turning it into a bloody splatter on the wall. He hated coming into the domain of his fellow Chaos god, oh how it drove him to anger. The sheer amount of bright pastel colors, the silken cloth, the smell of incense, the pretentiousness of it all. Kicking open the doors to the innermost sanctum of the God of Excess’s part of the Warp, Khorne pointed accusingly at Slaanesh, bellowing its name once more.
“Hello there, Khorne.” Slaanesh said, reclining into the excessively elaborate throne it had conjured up with a mere thought. “What brings you to my abode? Need a shoulder to cry on~?” the Prince of Pleasure teased as it toyed with the immaterial soul it held in its hands. Said soul was screaming in an agony that would drive a man mad as Slaanesh pulled a chunk off of it, giggling with childish glee.
“Up yours, you pretentious excuse for a god!” Khorne bellowed, stomping over to the throne; another daemonette wasn’t quick enough to escape the Blood God’s angry steps, and was promptly crushed. It squealed in delight for a moment before its skull burst. “Your waste of space worshippers cost me an offering in the Materium! My followers had nearly finished spilling enough blood before yours interrupted!” Slaanesh raised an eyebrow, giving the war god a look that spoke volumes.
“But everyone on that world was eviscerated by Kharn; surely more than enough blood was spilt?” She Who Thirsts questioned, a small smirk crossing its face.
“Yes, blood was spilt, but the offering was completely fucking awesome, and your faggot worshippers completely ruined the mood!” Khorne shouted, getting right in Slaanesh’s face. “YOU KNOW I HATE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS; AND WHILE KHARN IS A HELL OF A GUY I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO PULL HIM AWAY FROM HIS OWN KILLING SPREES TO ENTERTAIN ME!” Slaanesh smiled a toothy smile; this unsettled the Blood God.
“Oh please; if anything, I was enhancing that bloody sausage-fest with my daemonettes and cultists.” It answered, reaching up and trailing a finger along one of the bull horns that adorned the helmet of Khorne. The Blood God suddenly seized the Prince of Pleasure’s hand in a crushing grip squeezing hard. Slaanesh bit its lip, letting out an 'oooh' followed by a laugh. “Oooh…Not so rough, Khorne; we haven’t even started foreplay~.”
“Touch me again and I will end you, you cocksucking faggot.” Khorne threatened, not wanting any of Slaanesh's bullshit.
“I’ll just enjoy it.” Slaanesh smirked, lifting his other hand and gently tapped Khorne on his helm’s face plate, before vanishing in with in a cloud that smelled of incense appearing behind The Blood God. “Besides, need I remind you about that rather… interesting time you spent with a certain sal-?" And with that, Slaanesh had crossed the line. He broke the sacred Rule of What happens in the Warp, stays in the Warp. Khorne's angry meter went from 'Very Angry' to 'So Angry that Planets Explode'.
“THAT NEVER HAPPENED! PATHETIC WRETCH I SHALL HAVE YOUR SKULL ON A PLATTER!” Khorne bellowed, turning on the Chaos God of Pleasure with his War Axe, conjured without a thought, and slashing at him. Slaanesh fell back, dancing just out of range of the Blood God’s swing, before opening its mouth and sticking out a rather long tongue, doing an epic tongue waggle.
“Catch me if you caa~an~!” it teased before turning tail and running. Khorne followed in hot pursuit, screaming obscenities and describing, in graphic detail, just what he would do to Slaanesh if he caught him. Considering Slaanesh, even on his best day, couldn’t beat Khorne on his worst, the Chaos God of Excess made a smart move in running like hell. ____
Nurgle, the Chaos God of Pestilence, disease, and decay, sat in his gardens, watching his daemons plod about. How he loved them so. He loved his Plaguebearers, he loved his Nurglings, he loved his followers; they were all his children. Yes, life was good for Grandfather Nurgle. He loved how little changed, how everything stagnated and became rotten. The bloated avatar of disease and decay smiled as he watched one of the many moldering willow trees sprout a seed. Someone had become infected with Nurgle’s Rot, filling Papa Nurgle with glee; another Plaguebearer would be coming into existence soon! The God of Decay reclined, enjoying how little changed in the routine…
“I’LL REND THE FLESH FROM YOUR BONES! THEN SEW IT BACK ON SO I CAN DO IT AGAIN!”
“Oohooo, Khorne you devil~!”
Slaanesh ran into the Gardens of Nurgle, laughing at how much rage he was causing for Khorne. The threats the Blood God was throwing at the Prince of Pleasure were also making him positively giddy!
Slaanesh stopped when it heard that noise; that sickening pop already filled it with a sense of revulsion. Looking downwards, it lifted its right foot. The rotted, pus-filled remains of a Nurgling were splattered across its foot; oh that was just nasty.
"Disgusting! Foul! SO UNCLEAN!" She Who Thirsts would scream, wiping its foot on the ground in an attempt to get the remains of the miniature Nurgle daemon off of its foot. "Ugggh! Nurgle you fat, filthy slob. Don't you ever clean up around here?"
Now if Nurgle was know for one thing besides his lack of hygiene, it was his patience. Everything eventually rotted, and decayed, so there was no rush to go anywhere. As such, because he had all the time in the universe, Nurgle was by far the most patient of the Chaos Gods; only Tzeentch had more patience, and that was because he planned everything beforehand. Nurgle had the patience to deal with Tzeentch's inability to treat his followers like family instead of faceless employees, he could tolerate Khorne's temper tantrums and spastic fits of rage, and he could tolerate Slaanesh's omniphilia to an extent. However, despite having nigh-infinte patience, he still had his limits. Stepping on a Nurgling he could handle, because they felt no pain and it wouldn't truly die. The insults he was used to, as Slaanesh never really got over Nurgle stealing away the Eldar Goddess Isha from him. But to even suggest, to even think of suggesting, the idea of cleaning up the Gardens of Nurgle; imposing a massive change on HIS realm...
Well, let's just say that Slaanesh should be thankful Nurgle was not as outward with his anger as Khorne, because the Lord of Decay's patience with Slaanesh had run out. Rather than get up and punish Slaanesh himself, Nurgle simply called out.
"Oh Khorne, Slaanesh is right here." he declared in a rumbling, fatherly voice. The sound of a enraged cry soon followed as Nurgle smiled, seeing Khorne charge straight at Slaanesh and tackling him. The force of the tackle would drive the pair of Chaos Gods into the bloated, disgusting gut of Nurgle; Slaanesh was the first to hit. It got a mouthful of the innards draping out of the Lord of Decay, before the force of Khorne's ferocious tackle would knock Nurgle off of his throne. The Trio of Chaos gods would then begin rolling down the hill, now becoming a big ball of violence.
Tzeentch, the greatest of the Ruinous Powers, the Changer of Ways himself, procured a clock out of thin air, grasping it in one of his talons and looking at it.
"Three, two, one..." he muttered, before hearing the sounds of three Chaos gods fighting. He looked down from his platform, and saw the big ball of violence rolling up the hill. The mere sight of that would have driven a physicist insane. Tzeentch, however, could care less. In the Warp, especially his realm, the laws of physics simply shook their heads and walked out the door. "Good, right on time." The Changer of Ways watched as the ball of fighting Chaos Gods hit a ramp, launching them skywards and right up to his platform. Nurgle landed first, followed by Slaanesh, and finally Khorne, all of them landing in a heap. Tzeentch let out a rather humorous chuckle, loving the scene.
"Fellow Gods, glad you could make it!" he called, now taking on the form of a gargantuan specimen of one of his birdlike Greater Daemons, the aptly named Lords of Change. Slaanesh stood up, covered in head to toe with Nurgle's filth, trying to get away from the Blood God and the Lord of Decay. Khorne was up next, growling in a gibbering rage, ready to eviscerate the Prince of Pleasure.
"I'm going to MURDER YOU, Slaanesh!" Khorne bellowed, raising his axe up high.
"Khorne, could you tone done the gibbering fuckwaddery for five seconds? I brought you all here to discuss something" Tzeentch said, dismissing the clock he had held a moment ago. Khorne didn't listen, ripping off Slaanesh's arm before wailing on the Prince of Pleasure with it.
"Brought us here?" asked Nurgle as he pushed himself upwards. "These two bull rushed into my Gardens and knocked us to here."
"Nurgle, Nurgle... you forget who I am sometimes." Tzeentch tsked. With a wave of his hand, he conjured up a walking stick, the twisted and distorted faces of tortured souls engraved in it. "I simply redirected the warp portal Slaanesh's cultists took to the planet where Khorne was having that fun little bloodbath with his followers. Knowing how much Khorne had been enjoying that little offering to him, it was obvious that he'd go and try to beat Slaanesh's head in with its own arms, Q.E.D." The avian form of the Changer of Ways shifted to that of a tall armored man with a riot of blue flames for a head. He strode about the room, ignoring the sounds of Slaanesh being beaten with its own limbs. "We all know Slaanesh will never, ever, beat any of us in a fight, so it would obviously decide that running was the best option. But because it doesn't think beyond screwing whatever it sees, it would end up not looking where it was going, run into your garden, and suggest cleaning it up. You would become angry and point out Slaanesh for Khorne, who would shove it into you, causing all of you to tumble here." Tzeentch's form wavered again, before shifting to that of a man in a suit, a beard on his face and shoulder length brown hair tied back. The Lord of Change sat down on a throne, smirking as he tented his fingers. "Just as Planned." he muttered, snapping his fingers to procure a martini glass before drinking from it. The other Gods simply stood there, staring at the Changer of Ways. Even Khorne had stopped beating Slaanesh with its own dismembered limbs.
"...You're a dick." She Who Thirsts said, snatching its arm back from Khorne.
"Why thank you." Tzeentch said, before returning to the avian form of his Greater Daemons. "Now, the reason you're all here..." Tzeentch began to pace, sighing. "...Is anyone even having fun with this universe any more?" he ask the other gods, looking at them. "I mean... this whole Grimdark thing is nice and all, but I feel it's time for a change in scenery." As expected, the other three let out roars of disapproval, with Nurgle being the most vocal.
"We don't need a change of scenery! The same old things are perfectly fine!" Nurgle bellowed.
"This is because you hate change." Tzeentch replied, before looking towards Khorne and Slaanesh. "These two however... they seem to be getting bored."
"NO WE'RE NOT!" the two Chaos gods bellowed at the same time. Tzeentch raised a feathered eyebrow.
"Oh Really?" he asked, "You both seem to lack interest in any events going on these days unless you're yelling at each other. Don't you want a break from that routine?" The Blood God and Prince of Pleasure both raised their hands to retort, but stopped half way. Tzeentch was right, it was becoming increasingly difficult to even entertain themselves. Slaanesh was constantly trying to get under Khorne's skin just so he could feel the sensation of fear; something he rarely felt.
"You see, this Grimdark universe has next to nothing left to provide for us." Tzeentch said as he walked on over to a large, circular stone dais, a cloud of smoke and thunder atop of it. "We need what the mortals call a vacation... a new place to corrupt and bring a little Chaos to. And I have just the place." Tzeentch clapped his hands, the clouds on the dais began to part. "I was monitoring the cosmos one day long ago when this place caught my attention. Upon my first visit, I got a look at a rather interesting world. Bright, unworried, and orderly to the point where the inhabitants control the turn of the seasons and the rotation of a star and lunar object." The Changer of Ways spun on his feet, turning to face his compatriots. "I was cast out by a rather powerful individual, but I dragged her into the Warp with me. Unfortunately for myself, she escaped; eluding my grasp for quite some time. Apparently during the time before we managed to put the Big E on his golden throne, she got in contact with the Emperor of Mankind. After an undetermined amount of time, she managed to slip by me again, and get back to her own realm...”
“Fellow Gods of Chaos, I give you...” Tzeentch turned away, muttering to himself. “Pause for dramatic effect...” With a wave of his arms, the clouds parted completely; exposing a bright, colorful sphere to the Ruinous Powers. “Equestria!”
A very, very long moment of silence permeated the domain as the gods looked at the sphere on the dais up close, observing what they saw. The bright and colorful rural areas contrasted the duller (in comparison to the rest of the world) colors of cities that were spread across the entire planetoid. The inhabitants, however, caused a variety of reactions amoung the Ruinous Powers.
“...Tzeentch, why are we looking at a planet full of sentient equines that are bright and colorful?” Nurgle would ask, scratching his head. Khorne's question was the same, but more blunt.
“Why the fuck are we looking at-"
"PONIES!" Slaanesh exclaimed.
"Yes, Ponies." Tzeentch said, walking up to the globe. "It seems odd, really, but I've found that this planet may have something for us all." The Changer of Ways looked towards Nurgle. "A visit from us, suddenly appearing into their rather peaceful lives, would be more than enough to cause dispair. " The God of Decay and Despair now looked a bit interested. The Changer of then turned towards Slaanesh, who was still looking upon the globe with a hungry gaze only it could make. "I don't think Slaanesh here needs convincing, but there are snobby royals who would be prime for its influence." Finally, he turned to Khorne, who was fuming with rage.
"This place has nothing for me! It's got mother fucking colorful ponies that Slaanesh enjoys. That's plenty of reason to hate it. the Blood God answered indignantly.
"Au contrare, my bloody compatriot, these equines can (and have) show martial prowess and extreme rage in times of need. In fact, I have an example comming up soon."
"Then what are we waiting for!?" Slaanesh shouted, before running at the sphere, laughing manicaly.
"Slaanesh, don't-" Tzeentch began to say, only to have Khorne stop him.
"I gotta see this." The Blood God said, before looking back up to Slaanesh. The Prince of Pleasure had taken a running dive at the sphere, a look in its eyes that pretty much said what was on its mind: it was going to have fun.
And it would have, if not for the fact it struck an invisible barrier surrounding it before receiving a nasty electrical shock. The God of Excess screamed in what sounded like sheer ecstasy, a psychic scream that bellowed through the Immaterium and the Materium. In the Material universe, this had the unfortunate result of the heads of sentistive Psykers and Sorcerers serving Slaanesh to explode, violently. Khorne was laughing uncontrolably, enjoying the sight of She Who Thirsts being electrified. After a moment, Tzeentch figured that enough was enough, and pulled Slaanesh away from the barrier. The Prince of Pleasure had a blissful look on its face as it flattened its frazzled hair.
""Oh my... I haven't had a shock like that in forever~." Slaanesh said, stumbling away bowlegged from the Dais to the rest of the gods.
"As you can see, there is a rather powerful shield. Designed specifically to keep us out." Tzeentch said, walking up to the sphere. "The shock it delivers is also very powerful, as it attacks our very essence; even Nurgle would feel it." Tzeentch gestured to the bloated Plague Lord, who stumbled back a bit.
"So why the hell did you introduce this to us if we can't even get to it?! Khorne bellowed, his helmet rattling from the force of the shout. He leaned forward to Tzeentch, causing the Changer of Ways to lean back a bit. "First you introduce us to this faggot planet with fucking ponies as the inhabitants, saying how good it is. Now you're telling us that WE CAN'T EVEN GET TO IT?! A pause, ended by Tzeentch grinning with a smile that only an asshole could make.
"I never said we couldn't get to it, only that this barrier impeded our progress. There is a weakness in the barrier, a small tunnel that we couldn't possibly fit through... but a greater daemon could." The other gods, hearing this, all spoke up at once.
"Ooh! Ooh! Let me send a Keeper of Secrets! It'll show those ponies a good time~ Slaanesh said, its eyes sparkling with desire and glee to inflict horrid things upon the populace.
"Ahhh, but one of my Great Unclean Ones would be far better; they have a sense of humor." Nurgle laughed; obviously wanting to share the love of Papa Nurgle.
"I'm not wasting a Bloodthirster on this worthless planet." Khorne said, crossing his arms and looking away. Tzeentch waved his hands.
"Gentlegods, Gentlegods. While your enthusiasm is appreciated, it's not needed. I already sent a Lord of Change to possess someone... or pony, in this case. In fact, I did it thirty five minutes ago..." The Changer of Way procured a clock once more, looking at the time. He grinned evily. "And the barrier should be down right... about..." With a sudden fizzle, crack and a pop, the barrier around Equestria shuddered, and then popped. "...Now." With a grin and a wave of the hand, he discorperated the clock once more. "Take a seat, fellows, there's one little show I want you all to see before we get started." Each of the god procured their own chair: Khorne's being a massive throne made of skulls, Slaanesh's was solid crystal, adorned with fine cloths and throwpillows, and Nurgle's was a rotted stump covered in moss and other filthy things. Tzeentch snapped his fingers, and his own throne pulled on up next to the other Gods; the screaming faces of tourtured souls covering it. All of them took a seat.
"And here... we... go." The Changer of Ways said, flicking his fingers towards the globe; a specific area on it, to be exact. The spot he pointed to was mystically magnified, zooming in onto a mountain range; more specifically, a city on the side of the mountain, made alabaster stone and gold. However, something was amiss. The largest building on the edge of the cliffside, a palace, it looked like, had a large cloud of smoke drifting out of a huge hole in the ceiling of the innermost keep. Another zoom, and the Ruinous Powers were blessed with the inside of the tower.
It was a massive throne room, and it was in complete disarray. The stained glass windows were shattered, banners and drapes torn to shreds, and singe marks covered the floor; a sign of powerful sorceries and magics. However, what was most interesting to the viewers at the moment, was the pair of ponies in the center of the room, one standing atop the other. The one standing victorious over its foe was a light gray Unicorn with a black mane who showed the signs of possession by Daemon of Tzeentch. Many eyes along his face, one deformed wing sticking out of his side, extra limbs that are not standard for a equine. It was also laughing with a deep reverb in it's voice; it was a laugh of victory, for it had defeated its foe. And that foe; unconsicous, bruised, and defeated...
... was Princess Celestia.
"Just... As... Planned." Tzeentch said, summoning a martini once more and sipping from it.
Thought for the Day:It is better to die for your friends than live for yourself.
Whoo! Finally done!This took a while to finish: 30 Bucking pages!
Just a little note that I'm going to make some minor edits here an there as time goes on: nothing too serious, just polishing some rough edges and formatting.
Apologies this took so long in getting out: do enjoy.
Acrid smoke and the wail of air raid sirens filled Ponyville. Townsponies ran in every direction, any hope of a neatly organized evacuation forgotten in their panic. The earth shook in a drumbeat of desolation, a regular rhythm that spurred them into further flight.
The cause of this chaos looked down upon it from on high, and found it pleasing. It let out a roar of triumph and malicious glee, sweeping its tail in a path of destruction. It struck a building, demolishing it with a single terrible blow. The beast continued on, each step it made flattening all that stood in its path: ponies, carriages, buildings, and even cabbage stalls. The beast roared once more, continuing its blind rampage through the rural town, the fleeing denizens' screams of terror only pleasing it more. Raising its arm, it slashed at the nearest building, its claws tearing into the walls of the structure. There was a momentary scream of terror, abruptly cut off. The beast grinned, moving to continue its quest…
Something glinted out of the corner of its eye; something shiny. Turning its massive head and focusing on its grisly handiwork, the beast's eyes fell upon the source of the flash. Inside the gutted building, standing in the center of the rubble untouched and undamaged, a simple mirror stood. The beast found it curious and leaned in to gaze at the suspicious object, its head snaking into the building The reflective ellipse was so simple, so uninteresting, and yet so…
The beast froze suddenly before gazing, not at the mirror itself, but what was displayed in the mirror, its own reflection. It blinked. Scales of a deep purple sheen; eyes a deep emerald green…
“No…” the beast said, pulling its head back away from the mirror; all glee from earlier replaced by fear, terror, abject horror. That was when it finally noticed which building held the mirror: the Carousel Boutique, almost unrecognizable with the enormous gash in its front. The beast violently shook its head in utter denial, a hand of ice gripping its heart.
“No… no!” it cried, stumbling backwards away from the building. Then it noticed the blood splatter on its claws
And in that blood, a shred of white hair… and on that impossibly tiny scrap was a trio of bright blue diamonds. The beast shut its eyes, shaking its head fiercely as tears welled up. The icy fear was replaced by a drowning sorrow, before anger at itself and its actions flared in its chest like a wildfire. Clenching its fists, the monster threw its head back, arms splayed out dramatically towards the sky before roaring towards the heavens.
Spike catapulted upward into a sitting position, still screaming in horror, anger, fear, and almost every negative emotion under the sun. His chest heaved as he panted, his scream ceasing for but a moment before he caught his breath and resumed. The young dragon continued his cry of despair for a moment longer, before stopping and realizing where he was. He was in Twilight's room, in his basket... at least, that's what it looked like. For starters, it was a few sizes too small; he felt horribly cramped.
“Mmmgh, this crummy bed is tiny.” he groused, before rolling over and crawling out, letting out a loud yawn. "What was up with that dream, anyway... so darn horrifying..." Spike rubbed his eyes before extending his arms, stretching them out... huh, that's odd, they felt a little longer than he remembered. The young dragon opened his eyes to get a look at his limbs, see what was up with the-
“GASP!” Spike exclaimed, announcing what would be an action as a word. His hands…
“W-w-what’s going on here?!” he yelled, turning his head around and looking down all over his body. “Oh no…” the young dragon darted over to Twilight’s dresser, and looked in the mirror above it. The reflection stared back at him; thankfully, it was not the face it had been in his dream. It was, however, not the face of the same old pre-adolescent Dragon that he'd grown used to seeing. The reflection of the young dragon's face was no longer curved and rounded, but angular and sharp. The same could be said for the green spines over his ear holes; now looking like emerald knives. As for the rest of his body, Spike looked downwards; his arms and legs were long and lanky. The dragon remained silent for a good long time, before his brain finally found the right reaction to a situation like this: screaming at the top of one's lungs.
Over the few hours before Spike awoke and shouted his head off twice, Twilight and the others had cleaned up the mess caused by the earlier alchemical explosion: Rainbow Dash zipped around the higher parts of the room, clearing out any smoke that had risen above the windows before they'd been opened. Fluttershy tended to Owlowiscious, making sure that the owl was perfectly fine. The butter yellow Pegasus hummed a soft tune as she checked his wings, Owlowiscious standing perfectly still as she did so. On the other end of the room, Pinkie Pie bounced around, placing the books back on the shelves (in the very same order Twilight had left them in prior to the explosion, much to the lavender unicorn’s amazement.) The energetic pony carefully balanced a large pile of precariously stacked books atop her head as she bounced over to one of the shelves. Once there, she grabbed the tower of literature off of her head and began to reshelf them, singing an especially booktastic song to herself. While everyone else was taking care of the biggest parts of the mess, Rarity devoted her time to the little details. The alabaster unicorn trotted about the room, handling overall tidiness by using her magic and a feather duster to remove the errant soot from everything, including the soot. Twilight sat by one of her lecterns reading a rather large tome: Silver Flask’s Manuscript of Many Mixtures, as her friends tended to her home. The Unicorn bit her lip, losing herself in the book as her eyes ran up and down the page she had been reading and rereading for the past hour. Applejack simply looked inquisitively at the small puddle of brownish gold liquid that remained on the table, which had now stopped smoking. Curiosity gripped the blonde Earth Pony as she looked at the spill, trying to puzzle out what she felt was its most mysterious property.
“Now how could an itty bitty li'l puddle like this make so much smoke?” the farmpony inquired, not daring to risk a sniff or a touch to find out. She left all the fancy mathematics and science-y stuff to Twilight; her brain hurt just trying to make sense half of the stuff that the Unicorn had said when she was on a roll. “Seriously, it was there was a bonfire right in th' middle o' yer house."
“That’s what I’m trying to figure out, Applejack.” Twilight said, her eyes skimming that same page for the fourteenth time, trying to figure out what had happened. She’d mentally gone through every last step before the explosion countless times and still could not figure out what went wrong. She’d done everything by the book, so what had caused the potion to explode? Her frustration boiled over. “Auuugh! I just don’t get it! I’ve read the entire potion recipe up to the point when I went to grab the powdered wormroot from my stores downstairs and I still can’t figure it out!” The lavender unicorn sighed and hung her head.
Applejack walked over to her and placed a hoof over her friend’s shoulder. “You’ll figure it out, Twi, don’t be gettin' all upset jus' 'cause some fancy shmancy book ain't tellin' ya nothin'.” The orange Earth Pony gave Twilight a pat on the back before a thought popped up in the back of her mind. “Although… jus’ what were y' making?” She looked down at the page Twilight had been reading. At the top of the page, in big fancy letters and underlined was the name of the potion,“Polymorph Draught”. Beneath the name there was a picture of a pony dropping a feather into a beaker, then drinking the solution in the beaker and transforming into a bird. “What’s this here Pol… Polmo… Ploywhatsit thing?”
“Polymorph Draught,” Twilight corrected, her head perking right back up at the prospect of a lecture. “It’s a potion that allows a pony to temporarily transform into another living thing of the same size. What the drinker is transformed into depends on what is added as the final ingredient," The Unicorn recited from the book, walking towards the table and observing the puddle of liquid. "But I didn't even come close to that stage. I had to add the wormwood and then let it sit for a fortnight... what did I do wrong?" Twilight let out a defeated sigh; feeling exhausted as the stress from earlier took its toll on her. She fell on her haunches, her face covered with a downtrodden look. Before she could start any sort of moping, however, there was a hoot, followed by a feeling of weight on her head. Owlowiscious had flapped over and perched himself upon Twilight’s head, looking clean and happy; you could hardly tell he’d been spooked by the earlier explosion at all. Fluttershy flapped on over as well, the pink maned Pegasus looking quite pleased with her work. It wasn’t as fantastic as some of Rarity’s makeovers might have been, but one had to admire the careful work she had done to take care of the owl.
"Owlowicious is in perfect health, he was just a bit shaken up from the big booms," the yellow Pegasus said, patting the owl gently on the head before smiling ever so sweetly. “Who’s a good little owl?”
“Hoo.” the nocturnal avian replied, keeping his usual expression of Owl-Neutrality. Once Fluttershy ceased her petting, Owlowiscious flapped over to one of the bookshelves and hooted repeatedly, before seizing one of the books from the shelves and pulling it out with several tugs. Flapping his wings faster and harder, the owl struggled to carry the rather large book over to Twilight. He began losing altitude halfway to his owner before Twilight’s magic surrounded the book and plucked it from his grip. Owlowiscious let out a thankful hoot, continuing to remain airborne for a while longer. Curious, Twilight examined the large tome that her nighttime assistant had grabbed for hers. It was a very thick book, the cover being made of fine black leather with the edges trimmed with metal. In the center of a cover, there was a finely crafted metal emblem of a dragon head, a blood red ruby serving as its eye. The craftsponyship on the emblem was fantastic, Twilight had to admit.
"Oh my stars, Twilight! The cover of that book is exquisite!" Rarity exclaimed, placing the feather duster she had been using down on the table as she got a closer look at the large tome. "The metalwork on that emblem is amazing; I've never seen such perfect detail!" She pressed her hoof against the book, feeling the leather. "Such quality leather! This must have cost you a fortune! What book is it?"
"Sarkhoof Vol's Guide to Dragons." Twilight replied, looking at the cover of the thick, leather bound book, pulling it away from Rarity. "Please be careful. Celestia gave this to me after that incident with Spike's growth spurt." The rest of the group shuddered a bit. Nopony wanted a repeat of what happened on Spike's birthday last year; a rampaging dragon hoarding the entirety of Ponyville once was more than enough. "It's a first-hand copy, signed by Sarkhoof Vol himself... so it is worth a fortune." The lavender unicorn looked back up to her nocturnal companion with a quizzical expression etched on her face. "Owlowiscious, why did you grab this?"
The owl answered the only way he could. "Hoo." The matter apparently settled, he flapped to his perch near the window. Twilight scratched her head, confused. Why would her nighttime assistant give her a book that had no relation to her current train of thought? He'd never done that before.
Twilight suddenly opened the book as the gears in her head turned, her brain beginning to connect the dots. As she flipped through the tome, picture after picture of nasty looking dragons could be seen, all of them drawn with careful, almost loving detail. A quiet squeak could be heard as Fluttershy looked away from the book, her fear of huge, gigantic, terrifying, enormous, teeth-gnashing, sharp-scale-having, horn-wearing, smoke-snoring, could-eat-a-pony-in-one-bite, totally-all-grown-up dragons apparently extending to pictures of them as well. Twilight didn't blame her; some of the dragons even frightened her: the Lich Dragon in particular. Dragons were bad, and so were Zombies: put both together in an undying reptilian body and you had something that went past horrific and right to mind-numbingly terrifying. It was certainly worse than dragons obsessed with zombies, that’s for sure. Turning away from her current ghastly train of thought, she continued to scan through the pages till she found what she was looking for.
"Cesium Fire Dragons." She read to herself, skimming through the information she'd read numerous times before. She'd almost memorized the behavior section, as a matter of fact. Regardless, she continued to read, looking for something...
"Here we are!" The lavender Unicorn exclaimed, drawing the attention of the rest of her friends, who gathered around.
"Whatcha find, egghead?" asked Rainbow Dash, looking at the page Twilight was on.
"While all dragons contain so much magical power that parts of them can be used as Alchemical Ingredients, such as dragon scales, talons, etc, Cesium Dragon Saliva is so potent that it is used in many different potions. The alchemist Silver Flask has found no more than over 12 different uses for Cesium Dragon Saliva…!” Twilight halted in her reading, before snapping the book shut and galloping back to the desk where she had left the alchemy book. Pinkie suddenly popped up next to her.
“Ooh! Ooh! Is that a cookbook? I see recipes!” the pink Earth Pony said, hopping around excitedly. “What are you making? Pie? Cupcakes? Science Brownies?”
“Science Brownies? How in Equestria wouldja make such a thing?” Applejack asked this, as Twilight was too busy searching through the book to do so.
Pinkie grinned, before standing on her hind hooves, holding her forlegs out in a dramatic pose.
“With SCIENCE!” She whinnied, and if lightning could have struck at that moment, it would have. Unfortunately, the Pegasi had scheduled clear skies for the day, so lightning strikes on demand were unavailable, even when dramatically appropriate. Not that that stopped Pinkie. “DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUN!” Her sound effect was rewarded with stares from almost all of the room's occupants, save Twilight and Rainbow Dash. The former was far too busy browsing the alchemy book, occasionally muttering under her breath, to even acknowledge such shenanigans. The latter, meanwhile, broke out in a fit of laughter.
"Pinkie Pie, that was so random, even for you!" the Pegasus said between laughs, holding her sides as she guffawed
"NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" A sudden cry of denial was bellowed from the bedroom, drawing everypony's attention. Twilight ripped her gaze away from her book, her eyes filled with worry once more upon hearing the cry.
"Spike!" the lavender unicorn cried, galloping towards the stairwell in a panic. Hooves clattered against wood as she ascended the stairs, the scream stopping as soon she reached the second floor. Twilight barreled towards the door to her room; the door was still closed, as she had left it when she and her friends had carried Spike up to her room. It glowed with a wreath of magenta as Twilight wrenched it open with a flourish of magic. Her entry was met with another empassioned shout from Spike, currently screaming at his own reflection. The purple scaled dragon stumbled backwards, his feet becoming entangled with each other and tripping him. Another flash of magic flared from Twilight's horn, catching Spike in a Telekinesis spell and halting his fall. Zipping over to her draconic companion, Twilight embraced the panicking dragon in a hug in an attempt to calm him down. Her number one assistant thrashed in her grip, still in a panic from what he was seeing.
“Spike, it's alright. I'm here.” The lavender Unicorn murmured to Spike, gently stroking his head with the precise, gentle care of a mother cradling her child. Slowly, the dragon ceased his flailing and panicked cries, before curling up closer and snuggling against Twilight, whimpering.
When the rest of Twilight's friends had finally reached the room, they had been greeted by the sight of their normally bookish friend gently stroking Spike's head, the now larger than normal dragon curled up against her. After a few moments of taking in the rather heartwarming sight, the pony/dragon embrace was broken up; Spike was then bombarded with questions from everypony, save for Rarity and Twilight, who had gone back downstairs to retrieve the book she had been looking at.
"Ummm... y-you're not going to turn into a giant dragon again, are you?" Fluttershy asked, avoiding direct eye contact with Spike.
"I, uh..." Spike began, only to be cut off by an excited Pinkie Pie bouncing around him excitedly.
"Oh!Oh!Oh!" she chanted, her smiling growing wider by the second. "You look so much older now! I'm gonna have to throw a 'Suddenly Grown Older' party as well as a 'Get Well Soon' party!" Before Spike could respond to that, Dash cut in.
"Wow, Spike. You look so scarily awesome! I mean, scarily awesome in the sense that you look totally awesome, but also a biiiiiit scary; not that you are scaring me." The blue pegasus said, hovering around Spike.
“Y' ain’t gonna go on some hoardin’ spree again, are ya?" asked Applejack, pushing her head close to Spike’s and staring him right in the eye with a very stern look. "It’s bad enough you stole all the apples and leaves off o' th' orchard one time.” The young dragon stammered and stuttered as he tried to find an answer, already overwhelmed from all of the questions
“Girls, please stop being so uncouth and leave Spike alone." Rarity interrupted, making her way over to the dragon and giving him an affectionate nuzzle. Spike's face flushed red from the physical contact from his crush, and a blissful smile cross his face "It's obvious he's going through a lot right now, and constantly asking him questions isn't helping.”
Before Spike could say words of thanks — or just blubber incoherent lovey-dovey babble — Twilight returned from her venture downstairs, carrying both Sarkhoof Vol's Guide to Dragons and Silver Flask's Manuscript of Many Mixtures aside her head with magic.
"I've figured out what happened, everypony!" the Unicorn librarian said, opening the first book to the page she had been perusing. The others looked at the contents of the page, reading quietly for a moment.
"Ummm, Twi?" Applejack broke the silence, raising an eyebrow. "What exactly are we lookin' for?"
"After Owlowiscious handed me the book, I remembered that certain parts of dragons were used in Alchemy, so I looked through the book to find out what Cesium Dragons had to provide." She pointed a hoof towards the passage that she had read earlier. "Since Silver Flask was the one pony who discovered 12 different uses for Cesium Dragon Saliva, I looked through his Alchemy book." At the mention of dragon spit being used as an ingredient, Rarity's face turned a little green. That was just disgusting! Twilight continued regardless, already on a roll. "I looked at the index of potions by ingredient in Silver Flask's book and fou-"
"Spare us the details, Egghead. What happened?" Rainbow Dash interrupted with a huff, crossing her forelimbs indignantly. Six pairs of eyes looked back at her, their gazes not approving. "Oh come on, I just wanna skip the boring stuff and hear why Spike's suddenly looking so awesome!"
"As I was saying..." Twilight began, looking back to the book and flipping through the pages. "I found several different alchemical recipes that made use of Cesium Dragon Saliva, but one caught my attention for two reasons." One flourish of magic later, the lavender unicorn opened to another page. Like the rest of the recipes in the book, the name of the Potion was at the top of the page: Draconic Maturation Accelerant.
"This is what caused Spike to suddenly grow so big; he got hit with the equivalent of a draconic growth hormone!" Twilight said, looking pleased at finally cracking the case. "The first reason is obvious," she pointed to Spike with her hoof, who looked away while he twiddled his thumbs. "The other reason, and possibly the more important one is the fact that the first seven steps to brew this potion are identical to..." Applejack let out a gasp, finally catching on to what Twilight was saying.
"That weirdo transformation potion!" the orange mare exclaimed, her expression a look of revelation.
"Exactly!" Twilight smiled. "There's even a little note here on this page." Celestia's personal prodigy pointed to a small window of text near the 8th step:
Make sure all, and I mean ALL, members of any and all draconic races are not in the area when you are brewing this potion; the smell of the concoction is irresistible to them, and they will try to seek it out. (See also Dracoattractant Pheromone Philter, p. 394)
"Spike, did you smell anything before the beaker exploded?" Twilight asked her aged up Number one assistant, who tapped his head with a claw as he tried to think.
"...Oh! Now I remember!" the purple dragon exclaimed. "I was coming back in after getting the mail from Ditzy Doo. When you went down to the basement, that's when I smelled the most wonderful, irresistible smell in the world." He breathed in through his nose, recalling the smell: it smelled like Rarity's hair when she'd kissed him on the cheek during his birthday last year, only stronger. "Ahhhh, so sweet..." he opened his eyes, only to be greeted by everypony trying to hold back laughter at the dopey, dreamy look on his face; Dash and Pinkie could barely hold in a snicker. "Uhhh, anyway! I don't remember what happened after I first smelled it, but I do remember it being so strong, and so good, that I ended up drooling. After that, there was a loud noise that sounded like someone was gargling nails, and then... blackness."
"Exactly!" Twilight said as a matter of factly, closing the books and placing them on the nightstand next to her bed. "Since the potion only needed Cesium Dragon Saliva to be finished, you drooling into it was more than enough to complete it; enough to make it react so violently!" The lavender unicorn smiled triumphantly, very pleased with herself. If it could have, wind would have blown dramatically through her mane.
After a beat, Rainbow Dash asked the question on everypony's mind. "...So, how do we get him to change back?"
Twilight's triumphant expression vanished in an instant; she had no idea. "Uhhhh...." the lavender unicorn racked her brains, trying to think of an answer. "Well... "
"Why don't you try the recipe backwards?!" Pinkie Pie interjected, bouncing over to Twilight. "If the original potion made him grow, maybe brewing it in reverse will make him shrink!"
Twilight's face took on a look of mind-numbing disbelief that could only be described as "wat" at this brand of Pinkie-Logic. "Pinkie, that's just... that's not... I... wow." she said, shaking her head.
"What? Don't knock it till you try it!"
"Oh forget it, I'll just write a letter to the Princess, maybe she knows something!" Twilight turned to Spike. "Spike, take a letter." the adolescent dragon skillfully and quickly procured a quill and piece of parchment from the end table drawer, ready to write.
"Dear Princess Celestia," Twilight recited, having done this for so long that she had effectively perfected the art of reciting a letter. "There's been a minor accident in Ponyville involving Spike. Thankfully, he's not rampaging again like he did before, but due to an Alchemical mishap, he's now matured a few years. I can't find anything to reverse the effect, and I was wondering if you might know something. Your Faithful student, Twilight Sparkle." the scratching of quill against parchment ceased shortly after Twilight finished. "There, that should be good. Now send that off to the princess and-"
Twilight's request to Spike was suddenly cut off by a loud raucous burp like noise and a gout of emerald flame, a rolled up letter in front of her.
"A letter from the Princess?" She inquired, eyebrow raised. Spike let out a hacking cough, pounding his fist against his chest.
"Yeow... that burned more than it usually did." he said, kneeling over a bit. That gout of flame felt less like heartburn and more like someone lit a torch in his chest.
"Probably because your fire breath is much more potent with you being aged up." Twilight said, before unrolling the letter sent to her. "Let's see what the Princess has to say." The Princess's personal prodigy began to quietly read the letter to herself, her eyes moving back and forth across the paper...
"Ooh! Whatsitsay!?" Pinkie said, hopping back over to Twilight... then stopping. Pinkie looked at Twilight's face, frowning. "Twilight, is everything alright?" Twilight no longer looked all happy or inquisitive; she looked down right horrified and shocked, judging by the look of her slowly widening eyes. Her magic failed her as she lost concentration, and the letter fell to the ground.
"The... Princess..." she said, her eyes blinking in rapid succession; her mouth opened and closed as she tried to find the words. Pinkie Pie picked up the letter, deciding to look at it.
"What about the Princess?!" Rainbow Dash asked, grabbing Twilight by her shoulders and shaking her. "What's happened, Egghead?!" Before the blue pegasus could shake Twilight enough to Manes Bond's liking, Pinkie let out a loud, horrified gasp.
"The Princess is seriously hurt!" the Party Pony screamed, dropping the letter.
Earlier in the Day:
Castle Canterlot, home of the Royal Princesses of Equestria. Here, a pony could come to have their pleas and requests heard by either Princess during their respective courts: in fact, the Day Court had been in session for the past several hours...
Princess Celestia sighed inwardly, wondering when the Morning Court was going to end. Of course, she betrayed none of this in her expression, maintaining a front of patience and wisdom for the latest babbling noble in a long, grueling line. It seemed like every single member of the Canterlot nobility had some sort of issue that could only be solved through royal intervention, and for the past several hours, she'd had to listen to every single one of them. Even the ones that came from the most self-entitled and prissiest nobles. In fact, the current noble who had been making his requests for the past half hour was so overflowing with self-entitlement that Celestia was sure she could fill an oil drum with it.
"... and you recall the fiasco at last year's Gala, caused by those commonplace ponies!" the onyx black stallion declared, walking with the strut of a very snobby pony. “The fact is, Princess, is that the commoners are obviously overstepping their bounds and need to be curtailed. Yet you’ve not done your du-”
The Princess took a moment to dredge the stallion's name from among far older, FAR more important memories. “Onyx Ring, you've sought an audience with me on this very topic every day for more than a month now. What more would you have me do that I have not already done?”
The stallion sputtered, apparently not expecting such a question. “B-but...!” He racked his brain for a counterargument.
"I can do no more without violating the rights of the citizens of Equestria. I cannot simply discard the laws of the land when they inconvenience me, Onyx. To do so would be a betrayal of the responsibility entrusted to me when I took the throne. It would be a betrayal of the principles upon which our country was founded. If I were to do as you request, I would become little more than a tyrant, a petty dictator ruling through fear and intimidation instead of love and respect. I would be no better than the kind of pony who would order the execution of those who sought her audience for even the humblest request simply for wasting her time." She fixed the stallion with a plaintive gaze. "You don't want to make me that kind of pony, do you, Onyx Ring?"
“...Uh.” The black stallion let out a loud, audible gulp in... fear? Embarrassment? Celestia couldn't tell which, but the way the stallion held himself spoke volumes about his current train of thought. The Princess of the Sun gave him a warm smile
“Is there anything else you would like to discuss, my little pony?”
“...No, your highness.”Onyx Ring bowed to his monarch, before turning away and leaving, his head hanging. Celestia frowned at the stallion’s show of dismay; Onyx's pride may have been wounded, but it was for the better. On the plus side, if fate smiled upon her, she wouldn't be hearing that request from him for a while. Lighthearted bluffs like that tend to work wonders for her. The sound of the throne room doors closing brought Celestia out of her thoughts, and she straightened her posture, a movement imperceptible to the guards and Royal Scribe due to how little she adjusted herself. She turned her gaze to the scribe, a brown Unicorn with an inkpot Cutie Mark. "Scribe Inkheart?” the Unicorn mare looked up from the scroll she held with a spell.
“Yes, M’Lady?” she asked with an air of professionalism that a Royal Guard would be proud of; though the ones currently at Celestia’s side dare not break from their statuesque positions. Constant Vigilance, second in command of the guard, had taught these ponies well.
“Please, do send in the next cit-” Celestia stopped midway; looking suddenly up at the roof of the room. Her guards shifted from their positions upon seeing their monarch react so suddenly.
"What is it, Princess?" A Unicorn Guard asked, looking up to where Celestia was looking. The Alicorn remained silent, keeping her gaze up at the ceiling for a good while. The guards tensed, ready to rush to their Princess's defense at any second, but remained unmoving to keep up the illusion of unpreparedness, despite the fact that they had already shifted position. Time seemed to slow, each second feeling like an eternity; Celestia finally spoke, breaking the tense moment.
"Scribe Inkheart, I need you to go out and let everypony know that the Morning Court is ending early." The Alicorn moved her gaze away from the roof. The Scribepony blinked.
"But, Princess... isn't it a bit early to-" Celestia looked down to the Unicorn, her stern gaze telling all. Inkheart stared for a moment, before nodding silently. "Yes, M'Lady." With that, the Royal Scribe stowed her quill and paper before galloping out. Pleased that her Scribe had done as she asked, the Princess of the Sun closed her eyes; taking a slow, quiet breath...
And suddenly, the ceiling exploded.
A rainbow of colored magics flared as the Unicorn guards cast shield spells, the debris from the roof bouncing off of the wards. The Pegasi guards took to the air, forming around the princess to shield her from the attacker. Celestia breathed out: unrattled by the explosion, before opening her eyes. She furrowed her brow, glaring at the hole in the ceiling. There, slowly descending from the air was what looked like a light grey unicorn with a black mane... but that was where the similarities ended. Numerous eyes were all over its face, all of them open. Limbs that were not standard for a Unicorn equine grew out of its sides, a grossly deformed wing grew out of its right side, and tentacles waved out from all over its back. Its horn was glowing with a fiery red aura. The energy she felt emanating from the figure floating there... it had been so long since she felt something like that. Her eyes fell upon the interloper's flank, and she saw a bright blue symbol that she recognized all so well...
"...So, you finally found me, Tzeentch?"
Princess Luna awoke with a yawn, rubbing her eyes. Giving her head a shake, the Princess of the night looked out the window; it was nearing the evening. The midnight blue Alicorn sat up in her bed, kicking the covers off of her body before walking over to her mirror. Her reflection stared back at her with the same tired expression that she wore, imitating her yawn as well a moment later.
"I need to set a visitor limit on the evening court." She mumbled to herself, shaking her head once more to help wake herself up. Despite her own court happening in the dead of night, there were still a number of ponies who came to it; over a hundred ponies had shown up last night for who knows how long, some of them had taken hours with their requests. Since last year's Nightmare Night in Ponyville, she'd managed to quickly gain popularity despite the fiasco that had occurred at the beginning of the celebration. Ponies from all over Equestria were making trips to Canterlot just to have a simple audience with her. While the fact that Equestria was warming up to her following the Nightmare Moon incident was a pleasant thing , the sheer volume of visitors to the night court made it such a time sink, often going on until the sun was ready to rise. As the Princess of the Night stared back at her reflection in the mirror, the door to her room opened.
"Good Afternoon, Princess Luna. Did you sleep well?" Luna turned around to face the intruder, and was greeted by the sight of her favorite butler, a tan Earth Pony with his black mane tied back into a short ponytail, and a trio of wavy silver lines as his cutie mark; a monocle rested over his left eye.
"Thank you Silver Strings; my sleep was short, but much needed." Luna answered, beckoning the Earth Pony in. Silver Strings trotted in, and Luna finally noticed the tray on his back; mounted atop it was a black metal teapot, steam rising out of the spout. "I see you've brought me tea, many thanks."
"Yes, I figured you would need a pick-me-up after last night's Court." Silver Strings said, trotting over to the table near the window of the room and placing the tray on it. "I do say though, last night's sky was perhaps your best yet: I stayed up a bit later than usual to enjoy a bit of tea with your personal guard and watch the night sky." Luna smiled at the compliment, trotting over to the table and levitating the teapot to pour herself some tea.
"Oh Miss Luna, please; let me pour it, it's not proper for you to do so when I'm around." The Earth Pony interrupted, moving back to the table. Luna let out a sigh as she let the pot down back onto the tray. Silver Strings was so old fashioned sometimes, always wanting to pamper and her. Even on Nightmare Night he insisted she wear a cloak of some sort to stay warm: something she remedied with an illusion spell. The stallion gripped the handle in his teeth, before pouring the hot water into the cup and adding the tea leaves.
"You do know I am your elder by nearly a millennium, Silver Strings; surely you don't need to pamper me every day." Luna gripped the teacup in a levitation spell, bringing to her mouth and taking a sip. It was splendid, as always.
"But then I'd be out of a job, M'Lady." The stallion chuckled as he trotted over to the other side of the room and retrieved Luna's royal wear. He placed the fine pieces of metal onto a pillow, which he placed on his head, and trotted back over to Luna. "Besides, you cannot argue that I don't make fine tea." The Alicorn let out a light laugh at the bit of humor, and nodded. Setting the cup down, she cast another levitation spell and floated the metal jewelry over to herself. Crown on head, followed by the chest piece, and finally the shoes. Satisfied with her work, Luna stood back up and walked over to the window, looking outwards to the courtyard. Royal Guards Patrolled, the grounds keepers tended to the numerous plants and royal memorabilia, a weird mutated looking pony was floating over the throne room, the birds on the grounds were fluttering pa- wait a moment...
"Silver Strings, come here." Luna said, looking back towards the odd sight she had just seen. “Do you see that as well?” Her butler trotted over to the window, looking to where she was pointing. He took one look at the sight, blinking a few times, before removing his monocle from his eye. The stallion wiped the lens and placed it back over his eye; the appalling sight was still there.
"What in high heaven?" he asked, craning his neck to try and get a better look. The anomaly's horn glowed with a magenta light, before launching a blast down at the roof. Aloud explosion accompanied the blast, shaking the entire castle. Regaining his composure, Silver Strings looked back to the central keep, watching... whatever that was descend into the throne room. "The Morning Court is still going on...” he muttered, before the connections clicked in his head and he gasped. “It's going for Princess Celestia!" the Earth Pony shouted. “Luna, stay here, I'm going to rall- Princess?”
Silver Strings turned to his left to find that the Princess of the Night was no longer beside him. The slamming of the door announced the alicorn's sudden exit.
Celestia watched in horror as bolts of warpfire blasted from the creature's horn, vaporizing her Pegasi guards the moment they were struck.
"Protect the Princess!" Silent Vigil, the senior guard on duty, shouted. The Unicorn guards formed a phalanx around the princess, before casting several warding spells at once to block incoming attacks.
"FOOLS!" the creature snarled, before its horn glowed again and fired off more bolts. The shield spells shattered under the assault, allowing more of the warpfire bolts to get through and slam into several of the guards. Silent Vigil watched as his men were engulfed in the magenta flames, rapidly turning to ash.
"HOLD THE LINE! DO NOT FALTER!" he bellowed, prepping another ward. The Creature roared again, before charging up another blast. The Guardspony closed his eyes; if today was his time, then so be it... There was a flash, but not the magenta color of the intruder, but rather the golden light of Celestia's magic. The creature was blown backwards, slamming into the wall from the force of the powerful spell.
"Silent Vigil, get out of here." The Princess ordered the Royal Guard. The grey Unicorn stallion gawked at the princess in disbelief.
"No Princess, it is our duty to protect you. I shall not leave your side"
"You can't do your duty if you're dead, Guardspony. Now heed me and get out of here." Celestia ordered, looking back up at the creature, which was pulling itself out of the wall.
“I’d rather die than leave you to this monster, your highness.” Silent Vigil snorted, before standing his ground once again.
“And I am your Princess, and I order you to stand down. Just because I'm over a thousand does not mean I'm helpless." Celestia said, before leaping into the fray. The Unicorn sputtered, trying to argue... but let out a defeated sigh. She had ordered him to retreat, and he had to obey. That monstrosity was just way out of their league; still he wasn't going to run completely.
"Fall back!" he shouted to the guards that remained standing. “The Princess ordered a retreat! Fall back!” The other guards, already recovering from the shock of the assault, were flabbergasted by the order. “We’re not leaving her, we’re just getting reinforcements!” Silent Vigil added, snapping his guards out of their confusion. The order understood, the remaining guards concentrated, before vanishing in a flash of light: teleportation spells.
Satisfied that her guard was out of danger, Celestia turned to face the intruder, who had now pulled itself free of the wall.
“I don't know how your master found his way here, daemon." Celestia bayed, the unfamiliar feeling of anger rising up in her chest. "And I do not care, either; but you are not welcome in this world. Leave. Now." The monster what was once a pony looked all 64 of its eyes upon the alabaster alicorn, before letting out a snort of laughter.
"Oh, why would I do that? There's far too much destruction for me sow for me to leave now." the daemon spoke, a deep layer of reverb in its voice. It grinned grinned, its host mimicking its action. "Lord Tzeentch gave me a task, with the reward of more power; I intend to follow through with it!"
"The old bird wants me out of the way, doesn't he?" Celestia deadpanned, her mind already gently pulling up a thousand years worth of combat spells and erecting mental defenses. "He must be scraping the bottom of the barrel if he sent someone who's looking for more power." The daemonhost growled, not taking the insult nicely.
"I am a Lord of Change; the Greatest of Tzeentch's Daemons!" its horn glowed with magenta fire once again, firing off a thick stream of warpflame. "You are NOTHING, INSOLENT EQUINE!" The torrent of warp fire surged towards Celestia, before suddenly being stopped by a shimmering bubble of golden light. The Princess shook her head, before returning her glare to the daemonhost.
"I am Princess Celestia, ruler and protector of Equestria. I bring day to this world as my sister brings night to it. You? You've waltzed into my realm, harmed my subjects, and threatened me." Her horn glowed once again, spells at the ready. "If you will not leave like I've asked, then prepare to face retribution."
"Hah! So be it!" the daemon declared, before spurring it's host's body forward, flying right at the Princess.
The Alicorn snapped her wings downward, taking to the air. The host pony slammed into the floor, cracking it from the impact, before following Celestia into the air, blasting fireballs from its horn. Celestia dove and weaved around the projectiles with the skill of a master, showing that she wasn't some feeble, defenseless mare, but a powerful deity. The Sun Goddess of Equestria spun to the right, narrowly avoiding one fireball and feeling the hellish heat when it passed far too close to her back. Righting herself in midair, she turned to face the daemonhost and fired off a series of her own spells. Bolts of golden light blasted towards the daemonhost, striking with deft precision and accuracy. The daemonhost whinnied as it was struck, knocked off balance by the barrage of magical missiles. The opening noticed, Celestia flew right at her opponent, landing infront of him and lashing out with her front legs, her hooves cloaked in sunfire. The multiple flaming hoof strikes smacked into the daemonhost's face, igniting what remained of its mane and leaving burn marks in the shape of hooves on it's face. It reared and whinnied once more, countering with the numerous tentacles on its back. Celestia leapt backwards, out of their reach. Her horn glowed once again, before the sunfire left her hooves and floated into the air. The flames coruscated and compacted, before taking the shape of an ornate rapier. Grasping the bound blade with a spell, the sun goddess slashed at the incoming tentacle assault from her foe.
The daemonhost yowled in pain as Celestia's skilled swordsmareship sliced and diced its tentacles, gently smoking hunks of them falling to the floor. With her foe on the retreat, Celestia pressed onward with her attack, swinging her blade in a florish as she blasted more golden flames at the daemonhost, scorching its flesh. The daemon growled, realizing it was being pushed back towards the wall; if it was cornered, it would most certainly loose: even completely sacrificing the host's body to allow its true form to emerge would just give the alicorn a bigger target. Its constant attacks on her mind had yielded no results; her mind was an impressively guarded fortress and would not break while she was so focused. The anguished cries of terror and pain from its host's soul wasn't helping with its concentration either... Celestia blasted the daemonhost with another fire spell, sending it into the wall. It was out of time...
“You've lost, daemon. Now leave this world or die. You shall not harm the ponies of Equestria any more.” The Alicorn said pointing her blade at the prone daemonhost
The daemonhost blinked, and then grinned to itself, not wanting the Princess to see it. There was its opportunity. It relinquished control of the body ever so slightly, allowing the host's soul to to take over its body. The eyes that were originally the only ones prior to possession cleared, becoming blue once more.
“P-Princess!” the stallion stammered out, obviously in pain. “H-help... me...” Celestia blinked, hearing her subject's pained cry.
“Shhh, do not worry, my little pony; we'll find a way to help you.” The alicorn closed her eyes, before reaching out to touch the Unicorn's own mind to console him. She heard his pained sobs, and so desperately wanted to help. She brushed against the pony's mind, feeling the scars of possession on his psyche...
“Gotcha!” the daemon said, crushing its host's control and sending a psychic assault directly at Celestia's psyche through the mind-link spell she cast. It struck hard, filling her mind with images of horror within the warp, blasting at her sanity. The Alicorn hadn't a chance to respond, only able to scream out as her mind was assaulted and violated by the daemon's talons. Her spells faded away, and the daemon let out a laugh. “I AM VICTORIOUS!” it shouted, before blasting the Alicorn with warpfire. Celestia was struck at point blank with the numerous fireballs, sending her sprawling to the ground. In the sky, the sun froze in its place; no longer guided by a deity's magic. The daemonhost laughed maliciously, floating over to the fallen Princess; it hadn't killed her, yet. It wanted to savor the moment before it quashed the life out of her completely. The monstrosity dropped down on top of the Alicorn, pressing its hoof against her neck.
“Pathetic, worthless equine: no one challenges a Lord of Change and wins!” it boasted, laughing again.
It was at that moment that the throne room doors were blown open, blasted right off of their hinges. The daemonhost halted it's laughed and fired off a spell, completely disintegrating the giant metal doors.
“WHO DARES ATTACK ME?!” the daemon bellowed, looking towards the entry. He was greeted by the sigh of a midnight blue Alicorn, her eyes glowing white; a look of unbridled, righteous rage across her face. Her gaze was locked upon the monstrosity standing atop her fallen sister; her anger spiked.
“THOU HATH HARMED OUR SISTER! THOU SHALL SUFFER THE ULTIMATE PUNISHMENT!” Luna roared, the Traditional Royal Canterlot voice reaching maximum volume. The Princess of the Night let out an enraged snort, stamping the ground in challenge.
"You dare challenge me, pathetic equine? I. Am. A. GOD!" the daemon bellowed, launching a blast of warpfire at the Princess of the Night from its horn. The hellish flames struck the alicorn, engulfing her. The daemon laughed darkly as it watched the warp-born flames surround Luna. “Cross me and DIE!” it shouted, before resuming its vile mirth. The foul cackle reverberated throughout the room; the ground seemed to shake with every guffaw.
Luna's voice, amplified far beyond mortal lung capacity, overwhelmed the laughter. "Thou may thinkest thyself a god in whatever hell thou callest home, but this is Our realm. Our Sister's realm. We have sworn to defend this land, its ponies and all under Our rule. THOU ART NOT WELCOME HERE!" The Traditional Royal Canterlot Voice reached such a high volume that the ground itself did quake, the debris from the daemonhost’s earlier fight with Celestia trembling at the might of the moon goddess’s voice. The dark shadow of the alicorn within the riot of magenta warpfire flickered several times, before suddenly vanishing. The flames shuddered and wavered, vanishing a moment after. There was no burnt corpse or pile of white hot ash.
“An illusion?!” The daemon screeched in astonishment, opening all of its host's eyes, trying to locate where its foe had disappeared to. This it had not foreseen; it hadn’t even considered the possibility of fighting a foe with illusionary magic. That very oversight would be its downfall. The throne room suddenly became dark as night without the stars; the only source of light coming from a single silver orb that hung in the air in front of the daemonhost, drawing its attention. It’s every eye fixated on the image of the moon, every limb prepared to strike, every act of warp sorcery at the ready.
“I am destruction incarnate; I am a Greater Daemon of Tzeentch! You do not frighten me with your pathetic attempts at intimidation! I see everything!” the daemon yelled, before looking into the future. It saw the alicorn princess appearing on the right, only to be struck down by a blast of warpfire. It smiled, its host mimicking its action. “DESPAIR, FOR I AM THE END OF DAYS!” it thundered, before suddenly facing the left and blasting out a stream of warpfire from its horn. Luna flashed into existence, only to be engulfed by the flame. The daemon laughed once more as it watched her burn. “You don’t hold a candle to my pow-” Its boasting was cut short as its host’s limbs suddenly locked up. It couldn't move! It tried to open its mouth to speak, but found it couldn’t. The warpfire and Luna both suddenly vanished: another illusion? But how? It had seen the future. It had known what would happen. Before the daemon could cast a spell to free itself, the Traditional Royal Canterlot voice thundered once more.
“We are the Princess of the Night, of the Moon, of the black abyss of the night sky! Neigh; We are Night itself!” Luna’s voice thundered as the Princess of the Night materialized behind the daemonhost, her midnight blue coat now an inky black; her mane, a cloud of stars. The alicorn opened her eyes, her once round pupils now slits, like a cat's. “WE ARE THE NIGHT GIVEN MORTAL FORM. TREMBLE BEFORE OUR WRATH!” Luna’s horn glowed with a flash of deep blue, before casting a second spell to follow up the Immobilization Spell binding the monster before her. The Daemonhost suddenly found itself hoisted and held aloft; it could feel the magic flowing around it. “NOW, FEEL THE MIGHT OF THE MOON UPON THEE!”
As the Princess of the Night, Luna’s powers were mostly devoted to illusions and trickery, and it was a rare day where she could match Celestia’s might in a contest of raw power; the sun was far greater than the moon. This did not, however, mean Luna was weak in any way. The younger Alicorn still had powers far beyond the strength of even the most magically inclined unicorn. She could conjure this power in the forms of two mighty spells. The first exposed the target to the pure essence of night. The other, however was far more brutal, and exactly what she chose to use now. Though the moon was held in place by Luna’s own magic and the weight of the world, it exerted an influence of its own on both. The tides of the oceans ebbed and flowed with the moon’s pull, and Luna was inflicting that very force upon the monster that had dared to harm her sister:
With the Daemonhost’s mouth sealed shut by the immobilization spell, it could not scream in anger or pain as it felt the titanic forces began to squeeze it into a ball: a tiny, tiny ball. Luna screwed her face up in concentration as she poured more and more into the spell, watching as the creature’s limbs bent at unnatural angles as it was crushed by the gravity she was forcing upon it. The many eyes of the daemonhost bulged before its body suddenly ruptured. Not a drop of its blood touched the floor, held in place as Luna poured more and more magic into the spell. The body of the monstrosity let out a series of sickening cracks and pops as bones snapped and eyes popped; still, Luna did not let up till the monstrosity was compressed into a tiny ball of organic matter that might once have been a pony. Only then, with a loud, disembodied scream, did what remained of the daemonhost explode in a violent ball of warpfire, discorporating completely. The scream of the daemon still rang throughout the entire hall long after the host's body had discorporated.
Luna released the magic from all of her cast spells, each of them vanishing one after the other. The throne room became bright once more as the illusion of Darkest Night faded away, shortly followed by Luna's body glowing with a bright white light as her body shrunk back to its normal size. Upon ending the spells, the Princess of the Night panted heavily as she dropped to the floor; the multiple doppelganger spells, followed a simultaneous casting of Darkest Night and the Gravity spell had taken a taxing toll on the Alicorn, draining her considerably. Shifting to her Nightmare form to trick the beast only increased that toll. So many spells cast, so much magic burnt: it was through only sheer force of will that Luna still was awake.
"It..." she panted, trying to push herself to her feet. "...is done." with a grunt of exertion, Luna forced herself to her hooves, standing tall as she trotted with urgency over to Celestia. "Celly! Celly, please be alive!" Luna reached her fallen sister, who looked as bad as Luna felt. Her once alabaster white coat was now singed black in many spots, along with splashes of red from wounds that had been cut into her. Her wings were missing many feathers, and her mane and tail were dim. To the moon goddess's relief, her elder sister's sides still rose and fell; she was still breathing! Gathering up whatever strength she had left, Luna summoned up the Royal Canterlot Voice for the second time and hollered.
"HROTHGAR! ODAHVIING!" she bellowed at the top of her lungs. At the Princess's call, a pair of shadows swooped into throne room through the hole in the ceiling made by the interloper. They landed in a crouch behind her, kneeling as the shadows faded away from them, revealing two stocky, grey, dragon-winged Pegasi dressed in Royal Guard armor, colored a deep purple. The two personal guards of Princess Luna, the Guardians of Night, Hrothgar and Odahviing, knelt before their ruler.
"The warriors of the Night are yours to command. We obey your call." they said as one, before standing up again and facing Luna. It seemed like only now they noticed how tired she seemed. The bodyguard on the right, Hrothgar, was the first to speak.
"M'Lady, art Thou alright!?" he exclaimed, moving to inspect the Princess for any wounds. Luna pushed him away.
"Do not mind us, Our Sister is wounded!" she declared in the Royal Canterlot voice, earning a gasp of surprise from Hrothgar. If Odahviing felt shock, he kept it hidden; only speaking in a voice that belonged to a stallion that’d been around for a very long time.
"I shall fetch the Royal doctors, M’Lady, if Thou desirest." he asked, already extending his wings in preparation for flight.
"Make it so, and quickly!" Luna ordered, and the Night Guard bolted upwards out through the hole in the ceiling. Happy that the doctors would be on the way, Luna finally dropped her commanding attitude, fear streaking through her as she turned back to Celestia, nuzzling her older sister. "Oh please don't die, Tia. Don't die." She sobbed, dropping to the ground and pushing herself against Celestia. Hrothgar courteously looked away from the two, standing in a silent vigil in the event there were more attackers poised to strike.
Luna gasped, and only snuggled up closer to her elder sister. The voice had sounded like it was coming from within her mind...
"Tia! Oh please, don't die on me!" the younger alicorn cried.
"I'm not dead... I'm tougher than that... but that daemon did... something to my mind. I can't move at all... “Celestia’s voice said, sounding weak and distant.
"D-daemon?" Luna asked; the unfamiliar word sending a chill down her spine. "Is that what that... thing was?"
"Yes... it possessed a Pony's body..." Celestia's voice began to sound even more distant, like a fading radio signal. "Look, Luna... I don't have much time to talk; this telepathy spell won't last much longer... go behind my throne. There's a secret compartment... read what is inside." There was a sudden cry of pain from Celestia's voice, one that caused Luna to cringe. "Don't worry about me, I'll be fine. Just stay strong! I love you, sister." The last words her sister had spoken echoed in Luna's mind, before fading away.
"Tia? Tia?!" the alicorn said, nudging her sister. Celestia did not move save for the continued rising and falling of her chest. "TIA!"
Odahviing had returned a few minutes later, the royal doctors in tow. All of them had gasped in horror when they saw their monarch lying on the floor, unconscious. Still, they had managed to levitate her onto a stretcher and carried her to the Castle Hospital with the upmost urgency. Shortly after that, Luna had ordered the entirety of the palace and the city of Canterlot locked down till any accomplices of the beast that had attacked Celestia could be found: all land and sky routes to the city would be shut down. She'd find out who'd sent that monster, and she’d see to it that he (or she) would pay. On top of that, she had to notify Twilight Sparkle; Celly would want her student to know what happened. But first, she needed to do something.
“Where is that blasted compartment?!” the alicorn shouted, as she continued to scrutinize the back of the throne. She saw no door of any kind, and a detection spell yielded no illusions… so where was that secret compartment Celestia had mentioned? As Luna continued her search, Hrothgar and Odahviing stood rigidly at attention, keeping a silent vigil. At least, until Hrothgar tried to peak over his shoulder to get a look at Luna…
“Brother Hrothgar, do control thyself. We art here to stand guard; not try and sneak a glimpse at the Princess’s hindquarters.” Odahviing said, not even acknowledging his associate with a glance. The other Night Guard returned to his rigid pose, looking very embarrassed. Fortunately for him, Luna was far too engaged in her search to have heard the older guard’s voice.
“Not so loud, Odah, sheesh… do you always need to use the voice?” The younger stallion would say, keeping his eyes forward.
“Always.” The older stallion’s chest rumbled as he chuckled. “Thou may not wish to incur Her Majesty’s wrath; dost thou not remember those two clumsy foals who tried to woo the Princess?" Hrothgar did remember that incident: two stallions had picked up the Princess when she'd been out with her handmaiden (the princess was in disguise, of course, under the alias of Selene), had begun to buy her drinks, and had plans for her with not so innocent intentions. One of the idiots had made the mistake of slapping the Princess on her hindquarters. The resulting explosion of magic from an angry princess had wrecked the entire bar and left those two stallions regretting their actions. Hrothgar had no intention of being on the receiving end of her wrath, but he was still young, only having joined the Royal Guard a year ago in his late teens. He'd only recently been chosen for Luna's bodyguard (hoof picked by Luna, none the less!), and was still prone to some juvenile habits: checking mares out was one of these.
"Oh come on now you old coot, don't tell me you looked at some of the mares." he said, sheepishly grinning before returning to stoic guard mode.
"Thou still hast much to learn, Brother. We of the Night Guard may be Her Ladyship's honor guard, but we still need to show some shred of self-control." Odahviing replied, unfurling his draconic wings to emphasize his point. As Luna let out another stream of curses at her current task, followed shortly by a rapid series of clangs, he spoke up again. "M'Lady, dost thou require assistance?" Hrothgar looked over his shoulder, and stifled a laugh. Somehow, seeing the Princess just wailing on the thrown with her hooves was adorable.
"WHY HAST MINE SISTER MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND A SECRET COMPARTMENT?!" the alicorn bellowed. She blinked, realizing how she just answered her own question, before letting out a sigh and sliding to the floor. "I need help..."
"M’Lady, perhaps thou art trying too hard?" Odahviing offered, remaining motionless. "I believe that behind the throne doth not necessarily mean in the back of it. Perhaps it be so obvious thou didst not notice it?"
"..." Luna blinked again, before looking down directly at her hooves. Bolted to the floor was a handle, covered in a thick layer of dust. Directly below it was a plaque, also covered in a thick layer of dust. With her right hoof she brushed away the dust, allowing her to read what was engraved into the metal plate.
OPEN IN CASE OF CHAOS INCURSION
PS. You spent most of your time behind here looking at the back of the throne, didn't you, Luna?
Luna was silent, the words on the plaque staring back at her. The amount of dust covering it shot down any theory that the message had been carved within the year. In fact, the metal working on the plaque looked pre-Equestrian Renaissance, which didn't occur until about 500 years after she was first banished to the moon, judging by the way the text was carved in. This could only mean two things; the first being that Celestia had expected this entire incident. As for the second one, Luna asked herself if she was really that predictable...
"M’Lady?" Odahviing asked once more. "Art thou alright?"
A series of dull thunks were heard as Luna began to repeatedly bash her head firmly against the throne, absentmindedly wondering how much abuse an alicorn skull could take from bashing against a hard surface. Upon seeing the Princess of the Night apply her face to the throne, Hrothgar looked at his comrade incredulously.
"I though you said to show some self-control?!" he asked. "Didn't you just talk out of turn?" Odahviing smirked.
"Seniority in Luna's Guard allows some perks." the older stallion said. Hrothgar's ears perked up when he heard 'perks', causing Odahviing's grin turned to a disappointed frown. "And no, not those kinds. Get thy mind out of the gutter, Brother."
Thought of the Day: “Venerate the Princesses, for tomorrow you may be dead.”
Unit of the Chapter
Night Guard Pegasi
Pt Cost: +100pts
WS 4| BS 4| S 4| T 4| W 1| I 4| A 2| Ld 9| Sv +3
Unit Type: Jump Infantry
Nighttime Warriors: The guards in Luna's Night Guard have mastered the ability of moving in and out of the shadows and darkness, making them very difficult, if not impossible, to strike at them. Any Unit attempting to fire on them is subject to the Night Fighting Special Rule. In addition, the Night Guard Pegasi are also not subject to the Night Fighting Special rule.
“We heed Your call.”: The Night Guard always heed the call of their Princess, and arrive at her side when she calls. Night Guard Pegasi always arrive via Deep Strike from reserve, and if they Deep Strike within 6'' of an HQ unit, they do not scatter.
Tzeentch smiled a sinister smile before pulling himself out of his seat. With a snap of his fingers, the shimmering image on the dais zoomed back out to the full view of Equestria. The Changer of Ways turned to his compatriots, clasping his hands together.
“So, what do you all have to say?” he asked, and was answered with silence. Considering the looks on each of the other Chaos God's faces, this was not a bad thing. Slaanesh's face was lit with happiness, a glow that hadn't been seen on it in a very long time.
“BY ME, THAT WAS AWESOME!” the Prince of Pleasure exclaimed, hopping out of his conjured throne and hopping in place excitedly; it was kind of disturbing. “Sweet love, that voice the blue one had; that was amazingly loud! And her mane; I REALLY like her mane!”
“We get it, Slaanesh. I can assume you're on board with this?” Tzeentch inquired, eyebrow raised. The response was equal parts expected and loud:
“YOU BET YOUR INCORPEREAL ASS I AM~!” Slaanesh squeed, bouncing around the room like an overexcited daemonette who just found her first catch. Tzeentch smiled; just as planned. Khorne let out a sigh at the Chaos God of pleasure's antics, muttering something about rending limbs and playing BloodBowl with a bloodthirster as the ball.
“Nurgle?” Tzeentch flapped over to the bloated God of Pestilence, who was stroking his chin thoughtfully. “What did you think?” The Plague Lord 'hmmmed' to himself thinking for a good long while. Tzeentch waited, tapping his foot. Nurgle could take so long someti-
“I'm in. This place certainly has potential; I look forward to seeing despair and disease of my making make its way throughout the world.” Nurgle said, waving Tzeentch away. The Changer of Ways had to double take to make sure he wasn’t hearing things; Nurgle showing interest in a plan of Tzeentchian design? Not as planned!
“…You’re not pulling my leg are you?” Tzeentch asked, flabbergasted for a moment. He betrayed none of this to his compatriots, however; maintaining the grin he wore earlier.
“Do you see plagues and fungi running up your leg?” Nurgle let out a boisterous rumbling laugh; Tzeentch actually had to hold back a chuckle at that. As much as he despised the Plague Lord, he could not deny that the old festering pussball had a jolly sense of humor. Pulling himself away from the foul stench of Nurgle, the Changer of Ways finally moved over to Khorne, who was sitting quietly, looking at the floor. The Blood God had been quiet for the entire time; not a curse, not a howl of rage. That was so very unlike the god of anger.
“Well, Khorne? You’ve been awfully quiet, what did you think?” Tzeentch asked, stepping back just out of Khorne’s reach lest the Blood God rampage. Even though Tzeentch had a number of ways to fuck around with Khorne when he was on a berserker rage, his favorite being luring Slaanesh into Khorne’s path, it never hurt to be caref- wait. He was the Changer of Ways, he could see into the immediate future. Tzeentch mentally facepalmed; how in the Warp did he forget his precognition? The Changer of Ways muttered something incomprehensible before straightening his posture. Before he could even peak a look into the future, however, the Blood God spoke.
“I approved of that angry one with the wings and horn that totally crushed your daemon; though her methods were PANSY METHODS!” Khorne bellowed, banging his hand on the armrest of the Skull Throne he summoned for emphasis. One of the skulls exploded into shards of bone, and every Khornate Worshipper in the Matterium suddenly felt an irresistible urge (more-so than usual) to collect even more skulls for the Skull Throne, “USING ILLUSION SPELLS AND MAGIC?! WHY NOT RIP ITS US-DAMNED HEAD OFF!?”
“So… you’re on board?”
“I AM, BUT ONLY TO KILL AS MANY OF THOSE STUPID PONIES AS POSSIBLE!”
“Wonderful!” Tzeentch clapped his hands together, and the air aside him spun, twisted and stretched; a pair of suitcases, covered in deformed howling faces, appeared from the fabric of reality. “Well, gentlegods, now that we all have an agreement on what to do, I’d say it’s time to actually go down and start spreading some Chaos.”
All of the gods let out their own signs of approval: Slaanesh bounced around rambunctiously and cackled with glee. “This is going to be a wonderful sensation! They shall feel the Ultimate High~!”
Nurgle let out a rumbling laugh, the entrails hanging from his bloated midsection jumping and jiggling in the most grotesque fashion imaginable. “They shall feel despair, and the love of Grandfather Nurgle,” he rumbled.
Khorne stood up and raised his war-axe aloft. “FOR THE SLAUGHTER!” he bellowed.
Tzeentch beamed, before letting out his own evil laugh. The other gods joined in, the symphony of divine mirth reaching out to all the ends of the Warp.
Now that Luna was finished venting pent up stress and anger via the abrupt and repeated application of a throne to her head, she sat in her chambers looking at the one object, a single scroll, that she had extracted from the compartment. She was simply looking at it, and not unrolling it to read, because of the throbbing feeling in her head from her earlier face-throning. It turns out that while Alicorn skulls were just as sturdy as a solid metal throne that did not mean that they weren't immune to bruising and headaches.
"In hindsight..." Luna ignored the painful throbbing just below her horn, annoying as it was. "...smashing one's face against a metal object is not the smartest way to alleviate stress." Silver Strings trotted over to her, an ice pack dangling in his muzzle as he offered it to the Princess. The Alicorn accepted it, taking it in her hoof and pressing it against the bump in her head.
"Would you like some more tea, M'lady? After everything that has happened today, a little tea would help you relax from this... stressful situation." The Earth Pony offered politely. Luna looked over to him, remaining quiet for a good while. Stressed? She was far more than stressed right now; she was near the point of panic. She wanted to scream at the top of her lungs, cry out in anguish, slip into grief and wallow in... whatever Princesses were supposed to wallow in. She wanted to do all of this, but it was imperative that she maintain a front of professionalism. She took a deep breath, before politely nodding.
"Yes... a bit of tea would do, even though I'm not that stressed..." she lied, before turning back to the scroll. Silver Strings turned around, and shook his head; it was more than obvious that the alicorn was on the verge of a mental breakdown: she had nearly lost her sister, and she just had all of the royal duties dropped upon her lap. How anyone could handle that and remain sane was a feat in of itself. The stallion trotted over to the stand where he had set up the tea tray, only to hear the leathery flap of wings from just outside near the balcony. He looked up, and was greeted by the sight of Hrothgar and Odahviing landing, having returned from their rounds.
"Welcome back Sir Hrothgar, Master Odahviing." The Earth Pony curtsied, before pouring some more tea for Luna. He tossed a glance to the older Guardspony, his worried gaze telling the stallion all. He nodded with a snort, before looking towards Luna.
"M'lady, everything thou hath requested hath been done. The skyways and roads to Canterlot hath been closed off, and Brother Hrothgar and I questioned the populace alongside the rest of the Guard." Odahviing reported, standing at attention along with his fellow.
"What didst thou find?" Luna asked, using the Traditional Canterlot Voice, but neglecting the reverberating effect that was the Royal half. Silver Strings placed a tea-cup full of nice steaming tea. The Princess of the Night thanked him, before taking ahold of the cup and sipping from it. Hrothgar reached into his saddle pack and procured a scroll, unraveling it and holding it in his hooves.
"From what Brother Odahviing and I had gathered, the beast had suddenly appeared in the residential district. Upon further investigation, however, we discovered that the monster had not just appeared, but that a specific pony had suddenly transformed into the beast." the younger Pegasus summarized. "Eyewitness reported that said pony had been a Mister Jet Set, husband of-"
There was a clatter of metal as Luna suddenly dropped the cup, spilling the contents all over the table. Before the puddle could reach the scroll resting on the table and ruin it, Silver Strings moved in and snatched it off of the table with his mouth, tossing it to Odahviing. The Stallion reacted with super-equine speed, catching the scroll in his mouth with a delicate grip. Twisting in mid-step, the butler pony suddenly spun and procured a washcloth, taking it in his hoof and quickly wiping up the entire spill.
"Mistress Luna, is everything all-" he said, looking up at the alicorn. Luna's eyes had gone as wide as saucers, her expression one of shock.
"It... it was once an Equestrian Citizen?" the Princess of the Night stammered. Hrothgar nodded, but stopped in his reading of the report. Luna shook her head; she had to have heard that wrong. "T-that's impossible, no pony ever looked that monstrous! Not even Discord looked like that!" She looked over to Odahviing, hoping his answer would be different, only to see the Stallion shake his head. The Alicorn sunk in her seat; she had just ended the life of one of the citizens she had been sworn to protect. She'd let her own anger consume her and blindly destroyed his body: condemning the soul of the possessed pony still in the grasp of whatever had possessed it. She’d acted no better than that colder, darker side of her that had controlled her for all those years. Worse, she’d even taken upon the form of Nightmare Moon for that one attack. Was the corruption that had gripped her not as destroyed as everypony thought it was? Was it still lying in wait for Luna to let her guard down and possess her again? The thought made the midnight blue Alicorn shudder violently in fear.
"Tis sad, but true, M'lady." Odahviing spoke, after placing the scroll on the table, his voice solemn. "As Brother Hrothgar hath said, the pony in question was a mister Jet Set, husband of Upper Crust. When questioned, Miss Crust said she hath no clue what had caused her husband's transformation..." the older stallion stopped there, purposely neglecting to mention how the mare had been hysterical when she heard what had happened. It had taken both he and Hrothgar nearly an hour to get a proper answer out of the crying mare; she’d been honestly devastated, one simply can’t fake tears and sobs like that. It honestly surprised Odahviing; he was so used to seeing the ponies of Canterlot only caring for themselves that the thought that a high class married couple actually loving each other dearly that the thought never occurred to him.
"We also made sure that Princess Celestia's condition has been mostly kept under wraps for the time being." Hrothgar added, trying to move away from the current topic upon seeing Luna sink into her seat. "However, reports from the rest of guards have shown that there is a growing unrest in the populace, due to the fact that the sun has not moved at all for the past few hours.” Luna’s junior guard had a point; the sun had not moved from its previous position since Celestia incapacitation. Yet another thing to add to the Princess of the Night’s growing list of responsibilities she was not prepared for. “You do realize that they will need to be informed soon."
This was... a considerable amount for Luna to absorb, comprehend, and react to. She'd just been told that she'd killed a pony (despite him being possessed) in her blind rage, nopony had any idea that Celestia was comatose, and that riots may be breaking out soon. Still, she had to remain calm, despite her entire body urging herself to panic.
"Very well... I suppose I can do something. After all, my sister left me this scroll. Surely it has something of note." The Princess of the Night's horn flashed, lifting the scroll off of the table with a spell and then opening it. The text was very ornate and fancy; similar to old texts that dated back over 500 years...
"Celestia's Anti-Chaos List" If you're reading this, Luna (I certainly hope it's you), then I have been incapacitated by an agent of the Ruinous Powers. This is a list of what you should be doing in order to prevent things from getting worse: 1. Don't Panic. Try and get everything in order.
Luna blinked... that was it? Only one step? Surely there had to be more. The Alicorn looked all over the paper, flipping to the backside as well, and didn't find anything else. Her left eye twitched...
"D-don't panic?" she stammered, her voice cracking as her emotional state finally stretched beyond the breaking point. "THATS IT?!" The Alicorn's twitching eye ceased its spasms as something inside Luna's mind snapped. All of the stress, all of this information she had just crash down upon her, finally overran any control the Princess had at the moment and she did the exact opposite of what the list told her.
"WHAT DO I DO!? I DON'T HAVE MY SISTER'S EXPERIENCE WITH THIS! WHAT DO I DOOOOOOOO?!" Luna screamed, flailing her forelegs before grasping her face in her hooves. Silver Strings and Hrothgar both reared in surprise at the sudden mental breakdown, the former moving to try and steady the panicking princess.
"Princess, please! Do stay calm!" The Earth Pony said, trying to stop the Princess from flailing her limbs anymore and hurting herself. Luna did cease flailing her limbs, only to replace that with rapid inhales and exhales. "Don't hyperventilate! Sir Hrothgar, HELP ME HERE!" The younger pegasus galloped over, trying to assist the butler in his efforts to pacify Luna. His gaze met with the butler pony’s, the same thought going through their heads. A distraught, panicking Alicorn was more than enough to be a recipe for disaster; especially considering that Luna’s last metal breakdown ended up with her inflicting Eternal Night on Equestria. Odahviing remained stoic, calmly casting a glance at the scroll on the table. The paper shimmered for a second, before another line of text faded into existence on it. The Guardspony raised an eyebrow as he leaned in to gaze upon the scroll and read the text that had suddenly appeared.
2. Odahviing, would you kindly get your Princess to stop panicking?
Without a second thought, the stallion looked up from the scroll and scanned the room, looking for a specific item: something to help with the pacification of the Princess. A quick scan of the room bore the fruit of his efforts and he calmly walked over to Luna's nightstand; picking up the object atop of it.
“M'lady, please calm down!” Hrothgar pleaded, trying to halt the Princess's hyperventilating with little to no effect as Odahviing carried the object back towards the table. The older stallion held it out to the other guardpony, who looked at the object with a look of confusion on his face. "An abacus? Odahviing, this is no time for math!" the younger stallion said, before the abacus in question was cloaked in a veil of midnight blue magic and pulled out of his partner's grip. Luna seized the abacus in her hooves and began to fiddle with the many beads on in, a steady series of clicking noises replacing the rapid breathing as she began to calm down.
“M’Lady, please calm thyself.” The stallion said in a calm, careful voice. “Not only because thy screaming and hollering shall surely draw the attention of everypony in the vicinity; panicking will make the situation even worse... and upon closer inspection, the scroll seems to be enchanted." He gripped the scroll in his teeth and showed the second line of text that had magically appeared.
Silver Stings adjusted his monocle as he looked at the paper, a look of dawning comprehension over his face. “Princess Celestia must have enchanted it with a Text Concealing Spell!” The Earth Pony said, drawing the gaze of everyone in the room. Upon noticing the three pairs of eyes gazing upon him with questioning looks, he cleared his throat “…What? Spellbooks are good for light reading."
Luna rolled her eyes, before taking the scroll from Odahviing and casting a simple enchantment detection spell. The paper glowed with the powerful golden aura of Celestia's magic in response to the spell; Luna could feel the power behind it. Considering it had been sitting in that secret compartment for only Celestia knows how long, the simple fact that the spell had not faded away after all that time was unexpected. "Amazing... Celly must have poured so much magic into the spell to make it last so long..." the Alicorn uttered to herself.
"Don't those kind of spells have some trigger to make the rest of the text appear?" Hrothgar asked. "Usually when the prior step is completed?"
As if on cue, a section of the scroll shimmered and coruscated, before yet another line of text appeared before Luna's eyes.
3. Make sure my incapacitation is strictly on a need to know basis. Oh, and make sure the ponyrazzi don't catch wind of it lest you want a political manure-storm on your hands.
Well that was certainly more helpful than the first two steps, and judging by the absence of clacking abacus beads, it had the added bonus of helping Luna completely calm down. The alicorn took a deep breath, closing her eyes as she began to plan out the next move.
"Silver Strings?" Luna looked up from the scroll, directly ahead of her.
"Yes, Mistress Luna?" The butler pony straightened himself as his Princess addressed him.
"I need you to be my ears among the castle staff, I don't want any information leaking out about mine sister's incapacitation." The alicorn spoke with a voice of authority, drawing herself up into a commanding posture. "Hrothgar, Odaviing, I want you on riot patrol and informing the public with the rest of the guard. Let the citizenry know that there's no need to worry, and that I shall have a public statement for them soon."
"Yes M'lady." the pegasi responded as one, kneeling. A smirk crept its way up Luna's face; now that she wasn't panicking like a little filly, she could plan ahead. With the guard notifying the populace, and her butler listening on the staff for any information leaks before the public statement she planned, everything would be fine. Nothing could go wron—
The sound of a camera shutter interrupted Luna's thoughts, drawing her attention to the source. Hiding just under the edge of the balcony, a camera harness and rolling tape recorder on his saddle, was a brown pegasus with a red cap just over his ragged blond mane. The look on his face was similar to that of a foal who had been caught with their hooves in the cookie jar. Luna stared at him, wondering just how long the pegasus stallion had been standing there... wait: camera, tape recorder? Oh heavens above. Ponyrazzi.
"Uhhhh, hi." he said sheepishly, waving one hoof.
"Oh...hello." Luna said, meeting his gaze. What felt like a long period of silence (it was actually only a few scant seconds) followed their greetings before Luna finally spoke again. "And who might you be?"
"Uh... um..." the pegasus chuckled as he shifted his eyes left and right, obviously failing to hide his anxiety and search for an escape route. Hrothgar suddenly stepped forward, pointing an accusatory hoof at the newspony.
"Who are you and why are you sneaking around?!" the Guardspony bellowed, giving the other pegasus a point blank blast of the Night Guard Version of the Royal Canterlot voice. The photographer let out a yelp, before unfurling his wings and pivoting on his hooves to take to the skies and escape. With a panic driven downward snap of the wings he took flight, narrowly avoiding the rushing tackle from Hrothgar, who landed in a heap. "Come back here!" the bat-winged pegasus bellowed, flaring his own wings in preparation for takeoff. He wouldn't have that chance, however, as the ponyrazzi was suddenly enveloped in a cloud of midnight blue magic that held him in place as he futilely flapped his wings and thrashed about.
Luna shook her head as she dragged the stallion back into her quarters. "Running away from the Royal Guard isn't the best of ideas." she deadpanned, looking the ponyrazzi in the eyes. "Running from a princess is even worse. Especially if one has been sneaking around the palace after a lockdown has been engaged."
The Pegasus let out a nervous laugh. "L-l-look Miss, I'm just…" he began to say, only to be cut off as Silver Strings took the camera off of the harness and began to look at it. It was one of those newer enchanted models that allowed the user of the device to review their shots on a small screen on the back. "Hey hey hey! Careful wit' dat; it's 'spensive!"
The earth pony ignored him as he perusing the contents of the camera. There was a considerable amount of images of the palace ground, Guards standing at attention... oh hello, that certainly looks intriguing; numerous pictures of the two fights that had demolished the throne room. "You weren't thinking about taking these pictures to the tabloids, weren't you?" Silver Strings' usual happy demeanor was gone, now replaced with a look of accusation. "Make a quick bit off of the misery of the Princess?"
The pegasus photographer violently shook his head. "No way man, I ain't like dem tabloid rats," he said frantically, still squirming in Luna's magic. "I just takes da pictures and makes sure da story is what it is, yeah?"
Luna rolled her eyes at this statement, still skeptical of his story. "Then why didst thou hide from Our sight, and attempt flight most cowardly upon thy discovery?!" The alicorn’s Royal Canterlot Voice blew the pony's hat right off of his head.
Once the magically-enhanced sonic blast had subsided, he quickly fixed his mane before speaking. "See, in my 'sperience, the ponies what I'm takin' pictures of don't like knowin' dat pictures is being taken of 'em. I got da bruises ta prove it, too." He gestured to both Hrothgar and Ohdaviing. "And dose two boys o' yours don't looks like the negotiatin' types, neithahs."
"Rest assured good sir, that we art quite skilled in the Nigh-Lost Art of vocal discussions," interjected Odahviing, stoic as ever Next to him, Hrothgar nodded in approval. After a beat, the elder guard amended, "...At least I am. Mine partner's skill oft leaves something to be desired."
"Hey!" The younger Pegasus snapped.
"Yeah, but youse don't looks da part." The photographer pony squirmed, turning his head back to Luna. "Ummm, Ya Princessness, couldja let me down?" The Princess of the Night squinted a bit, looking the Pegasus right in the eye.
"Can We trust thee not to flee? Not to tell the ponies of Our kingdom what hath transpired here?"
"Youse gots my honah as a newspony. I'd eats my 'at befores not obeying a direct request from da Princess."
Luna mulled over it for a second more before lowering the newspony to the floor and releasing the spell that had held him. She still didn't fully trust him not to run as he already had, but even if he did, he still couldn't outrace her magic. The pegasus trotted around, flaring and furling his wings a few times to test them. He reached down, picked up his hat and tossed it back on his head. "See? I ain't runnin'." he said, before looking back to Silver Strings. "Hey, Mistah; could I gets my cameras back?"
The butler's answer was elegant and concise: "No."
"No." The earth pony tossed the device onto his back, his tail flapping as he did so. "And if you should try to snatch it from me, you shall lose a leg for the attempt." Money Shot blinked at the threat, and he he could have sworn he saw several of the hairs in the Earth Pony's tail glinting in the light.
Luna raised a hoof. "That will be enough, Silver Strings," she interrupted, before looking toward the disappointed pegasus. "I do not believe you mentioned your name. You are...?"
"Da name's Money Shot." the stallion said, tipping his hat. Luna tilted her head in confusion, while Silver Strings raised an eyebrow at the fact that somepony would name their child that. Odahviing remained silent, but Hrothgar put a hoof to his mouth, trying to stop a snicker from escaping.
"...Interesting name, good sir." The butler pony broke the awkward silence, clearing his throat. "Does it have to do with some of your... previous work?"
"My parents was really sheltahed." was Money Shot's reply, before tossing a glance over to the snickering Hrothgar; now stopping as Odahviing gave him a disapproving glare. "Yeah yeah, laugh it up; youse 'ardly be da foist."
"What's so funny? Surely his name means that the shots he takes are worth a good bit." Luna asked, oblivious as to why Hrothgar would find it so funny.
"Uhhh, sure... dat's one way to puts it." Money Shot coughed, averting her gaze. To explain the other meaning to the Princess of all ponies just made his imagination run wild with what would happen; the rumored 'Lunar Banishments' he'd heard about sprung to mind. Thankfully, before anypony could ask any more questions about somepony’s name, Silver Strings interrupted with a cough.
"M'lady, don't you have duties to attend to?" prompted the tan earth pony. “Preparing a public statement before the riots break out? Or getting the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony and informing them of the situation?”
“…Oh yes! Thank you Silver Strings!” Luna said, sitting right up and at rapt attention. “*ahem* As I was saying, good Money Shot," (and here Hrothgar bit his lip to hold back a chuckle resurgence) "you may see the Royal Bursar for the expenses of replacing your equipment. In the interest of fairness, I should warn you that he is something of a camera buff himself, and will be informed of the make and model of your device." This was totally untrue, but the newspony's expression made it clear that he believed it. "Attempting to cheat him is highly discouraged. Do I make myself clear?"
He swallowed nervously. "Crystal, Ya Majesty."
"Excellent. Once that is complete, you may be on your way. Hrothgar, escort him to the Treasury."
“Yes, M’lady.” The younger Guardspony saluted, before urging the photographer along with some nudges.
“Oh, and Money Shot?”
“I know you made a promise on your honor, but as a small reminder: it would be very unwise to mention what you saw in the throne room today to the populace before I can speak with them.” Luna’s voice took on a hard, almost threatening edge as she spoke. “Very, very, unwise…” Money Shot let out a nervous gulp once again, before nodding in understanding.
“Yah, Princess…” with that, he trotted out of the room with Hrothgar right behind him. Once the door had shut behind the pair, Luna cleared her throat.
“Well, now that that’s out of the way… let us get to work.” She looked to Odahviing and Silver Strings. “I trust that you two will do admirably; please keep me in the loop.” The Pegasus and the Earth Pony both bowed, then trotted out of the room. Luna was now alone in her room, no one to watch her. After looking round the entire room once to assure she was alone, she dropped the calm, strong, and professional mask she had worn in front of her subjects and let the tears fall. The midnight blue Alicorn sobbed her heart out, her tears staining the already dark carpet with even darker splotches.
"C-celly..." Luna sobbed, making her way to her bed and collapsing onto it, letting all of the stress and sadness she had kept bottled up for the past several hours. "I... I don't know if I can do this..."
Silver Strings frowned as he eased the door shut, ceasing the eavesdrop session he and Odahviing had been doing.
"Let's just leave her be." the Earth Pony said, adjusting his monocle. He really didn't need to; it was just a habit that he'd picked up whenever he became stressed. "She's been through so much; a little crying will help clear her head."
[b"She must still do her duties. Sorrow has befallen us all, Sir Strings, but our duties come first." Odahviing snorted, before turning about face and walking down. The Earth Pony huffed in irritation at the comment from the guard, no matter how true it was.
"Yes, but it doesn't mean we should just keep quiet and bottle everything up. It's disastrous to do so." He trotted to catch up to Odahviing, managing to keep pace despite the Pegasus's larger frame (and by extension, his longer legs). "What would you do if Sir Hrothgar were killed in the line of duty?"
"I would mourn him, aye. But tears cannot be shed for every life lost. Were I to cry for every pony who died every day, then never would I be able to do my duty" The bat-winged pegasus paused in his steps for a scant moment, before continuing."Hrothgar is reckless, undisciplined, and worst of all he still doth not know when to keep his mouth shut about the fillies." The pair passed a T-section of a hallway, one where Hrothgar was continuing to escort Money Shot to the treasury, but with the added bonus of talking. Judging by the tail ends of the conversation, Silver Strings figured that the pair were discussing the fairer sex.
"I see your point, Master Odaviing... but I know for a fact that you still enjoy having him as an apprentice. At the end of the day when I bring you both and Her Majesty the evening tea, you all are laughing about something." The Earth Pony chuckled, and to his surprise, he heard the low rumble of Odahviing's laughter.
"I suppose thou art right, Sir Strings." the Pegasus said with a smile, which quickly left his face as he returned to Stoic Guard Mode, as Hrothgar had coined it. "For now, I bid thee farewell. I must deliver Her Ladyship's orders to the Guard." Silver Strings bowed his head courteously.
"I wish you luck, Master Odahviing. I must attend to my duties as well." With farewells exchanged, the Butler and the Guardpony went their separate ways.
Pewf! That went much better than expected time wise. Granted, it's shorter after that monster of a last chapter, but I need to give my fingers a break sometime!
So we get a little look at the aftermath of the attack from the Daemonhost, mostly how Luna is dealing with it. She's not having a good day, and to top it off, the Ruinous Powers are en route to Equestria with less than grand intentions!
As a side note, I'll make edits to the narrative as I (and FanofMostEverything, bless him for being an awesome editor) come across errors and parts that don't do well.
Do leave some comments as well, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Thought of the Day: True Happiness stems only from Duty.
There were a number of things that she found creepy and/or scary; from the massive monsters of the Everfree Forest to zombies, a fear she secretly shared with Spike. But she could understand, rationalize, categorize and respond to such stimuli. She could react appropriately to them. If she didn't understand something, if she couldn't determine an appropriate reaction to it, she responded badly.
The news about Celestia left her near catatonic even as her friends tried valiantly to get a response out of her.
Well, it did until she felt something wet and slimy enter her ear and wriggle around.
"Ugh!" she whinnied, yanking her head away from the offending object before digging her hoof into her ear to try and wipe away the slimy residue within it.
"Blaugh! Pitooe!" spat Rainbow Dash, regretting sticking the wet willie. Apparently, auditory hygiene wasn't high on Twilight's list of priorities; or at least that was what the awful taste that had been left on the impetuous pegasus' tongue had implied. "Told you it would work!" the blue Pegasus spat at Rarity, who cringed at the most uncouth method of rousing their catatonic friend.
"That doesn't make it any less disgusting, Rainbow." she scolded, trotting over to Twilight. "Twilight? Are you alright, darling?"
Having finally wiped the saliva out of her ear, Twilight heard Rarity's inquiry. Within seconds she had an answer;
"Okay? OKAY?!" Twilight shouted, flailing about in exasperation. "How can I be okay when the Princess is hurt?! How?!" She began to pace frantically. "Do you know how bad this is?! Princess Celestia moves the sun. Without her, the sun will stay where it is, and then it'll be eternal day becauseIdon'tknowifPrincessLunacanmovethesuncauseit's-"
Before Twilight's panic-stricken diatribe could become any louder or faster, Pinkie Pie grabbed her by the shoulders. With a loud, ludicrous slurp, she licked the lavender Unicorn's entire face, eliciting a disgusted exclamation from both Celestia's personal protege and Rarity. Pinkie only smacked her lips repeatedly.
"Huh, I guess she doesn't taste like Sparkle Juice." the pink party pony observed. Save for Twilight, who was too busy wiping the second splash of spit off herself, everypony (and dragon) else in the room could only tilt their heads in confused silence.
Rarity broke the stunned silence. "Pinkie, what in Equestria was that for?!" She still rather disgusted that two of her friends had resorted to licking Twilight like dogs in order to rouse her.
"Well, I heard a rumor that Twilight actually tasted like Sparkle Juice. You know, those funny juice boxes they sell at the market? Since Rainbow Dash sticking her tongue in Twilight's ear got a response out of her, I'd thought I'd eat two cakes with one fork!"
"Uhhh, Pinkie? Howsabout y' say that so us normal ponies kin understand?" Applejack spoke up, just as befuddled as everypony else. Pinkie let out an exaggeratedly annoyed sigh, facehoofing.
"I wanted to stop Twilight from panicking like she had ants in her pants (not that she's wearing pants, but don't even get me started on that,) and test that rumor about her tasting like Sparkle Juice at the same time. Sheesh, Applejack, this isn't fancy mathematics."
Applejack would have made a comment about how everypony really doesn't wear clothes, but between feeling mildly insulted by Pinkie's statement (even if she didn't mean it) and Twilight's beginning to mutter worriedly again she realized there were more important things to deal with. She marched on over to the lavender Unicorn and placed a hoof over her mouth, silencing her.
"Look here sugarcube, if you keep on making more racket than Granny Smith at the start of Zap Apple season, the whole town'll know and then we'll have everypony scared and running around like a bunch of scared mice. Now Ah'm gonna remove mah hoof from your mouth and then Ah want you to calm down. Clear?"
"Mppfhl." was Twilight's response. The orange Earth Pony lifted her hoof from Twilight's mouth, bracing herself in the event of the bookish Unicorn not heeding her advice. Thankfully, this was not the case.
"But... aren't you all worried too?" Twilight asked. "I mean, Celestia is just as important to the rest of Equestria as she is to me."
"Oh believe me, Ah'm shaking in mah hooves right now. Ah'm very scared."
"Of course we are Twilight," continued Rarity, "but stress and panic are far from productive actions, and it even ruins one's complexion."
"All I wanna do is find the bozo who hurt the Princess and show him a thing or two about hurting someone!" Dash dropped to the floor on her rear hooves before punching at an invisible opponent.
"Do I need to break out into song about how you need to face your fears?" The response to Pinkie's reply was a resounding "No!"
"Uh... I... but-" Fluttershy let out a scared squeak. The timid Pegasus was certainly scared, but at least she hadn't been flailing about like Twilight had.
"Besides, you didn't finish reading the letter!" Spike said, trying to reach the paper on the floor where Pinkie had dropped it. Of course, due to his growth spurt, he misjudged the length of his arm and bumped it into the floor. "Ow! Stupid potion!" he snarled, sticking one of his sore fingers into his mouth and sucking on it. "The news about Celestia's only halfway through the message: there's still more." After another moment of Spike stubbing his fingers on the floor, he finally managed to seize the letter and cleared his throat before reading.
"Dear Twilight Sparkle,
It is with great pain and sorrow that we deliver to you this message: disaster has befallen your mentor, Princess Celestia. Several hours ago, she was suddenly attacked by an unknown assailant, who inflicted upon her wounds most terrible and grievous. While she still lives at this time, she is unresponsive and has been confined to the Royal Hospital until such time as she wakes. You and the other Bearers of Harmony are hereby summoned to Canterlot Palace posthaste.
Please do not tarry, as the fate of Equestria hangs in the Balance. All will be made clear upon your arrival, down to the most minute detail.
Princess Luna, Mistress of the Moon
This news did little to soothe Twilight's nerves; in fact it only served to further fray them. She let out an audible gulp upon hearing that, once again, the fate of Equestria rested in their hooves. Her lips quivered and her eyes twitched, ready to let out another bout of...
"No." she stomped her hoof on the ground. Both times that Equestria had been in peril, she and her friends succeeded. Both times they had done it without help from Celestia. She wasn't going to let her Mentor down. "No more panicking!" She spun to face her friends, a determined look shining in her eyes. "Spike, prepare the balloon. We leave for Canterlot!"
By all rights, it should had been a quiet evening in Canterlot. The Pegasus weather teams had scheduled a cloudless evening with a slight breeze, and everypony had been minding their own business. By all rights, there should have been little to no unrest in the city (save the usual pish-poshiness of the nobles), and no reason for it. Any chance of a peaceful night, however, had been dashed by the sun's unmoving zenith and the sudden lockdown at the city's gates. High above the streets, Odahviing and Hrothgar sped towards their next destination: the western gate.
Exhaustion threatened to slow Hrothgar down; he and Odahviing had been flying about Canterlot without a moments rest for the past eight hours and showed no signs of slowing down. The younger stallion kept pace with his Captain despite this. The old coot didn't seem tired despite pushing himself as hard as Hrothgar, and he was in peak physical condition.
"Captain, we've covered the whole bucking city!" he shouted, putting on another burst of speed despite the ache in his wings. "We've gotta take a rest or we're gonna be too tired to-"
"Sleep when thou art dead, Brother Hrothgar!" Odahviing interjected, keeping his eyes forward."Stow thy complaints until we hath completed Her Majesty's orders."
Hrothgar grit his teeth in anger. He wanted to smack the Captain upside the head so bad right now. "Celestia-damned hardass..." he muttered under his breath, too tired to act upon that idea. The next few minutes were wreathed in silence as (finally) the western gate entered their field of view.
As they approached, it became apparent that a situation was starting to brew. A small gang of ponies were heckling the guard stationed at the gate. A trio of Unicorns stood ahead of the rest, obscenities spewing forth from the lead one's mouth. They kept their distance from the lone guard who stood between them and the western gate. That's what bothered Hrothgar the most; there was only one guard. "Where're the rest of the Guards that were stationed here?" he pondered aloud.
"They may hath been called to assist in other parts of the city, Brother. We art lucky that we managed to hear of this uprising so early." Odahviing flapped his wings harder, spurring himself towards the ground. The pair of Guardsponies noiselessly landed a short distance behind the small gang of instigators, now able to clearly hear what was going on.
"Do you know who I am, you brain-addled charlatan?!" the foremost pony, a bright pink, black maned unicorn stallion with a goblet for a cutie mark, stomped his hooves on the ground in a show of intimidation. The lone Earth Pony guard seemed amused by this, if the almost imperceptible rumbling of his barreled chest was anything to go by.
"Sir, I'm sorry. The city of Canterlot has gone into lockdown by order of the Princess Luna." the pristine white stallion recited the same sentence he'd been saying for the past twenty minutes. "You will be allowed to leave as soon as the lockdown is lifted."
The bright pink stallion let out a strangled cry of frustration as he stomped his hooves in a hissy-fit. "I'll have your badge for this! I have important business in Trottingham and you're getting in my way!" The high-pitched, incessant whining of the stallion earned a muffled snicker from Hrothgar as he covered his muzzle with a hoof. Odahviing sighed, before signaling his Apprentice. With a downward snap of their wings, the pair leapt over the gang of ponies and landed in front of them, blocking their view of the lone guardspony.
Upon seeing that he was currently blocked from view, the stallion let out a long sigh; obviously relived at the sudden arrival of backup. "Thank the Princesses..." he muttered.
Odahviing nodded to him. "Brother Guardspony: status report." The dragon-winged pegasus's reverberating voice silenced the onlookers in a mix of awe and fear. Hrothgar faced the crowd, ready to react should the crowd rise into riot.
"We'd been standing at our post as ordered, Sir." the Earth Pony reported. "However we had gotten a sudden report of small riots breaking out in the Merchant District. The sergeant and the other three guards with me left to assist. I stayed behind." He let out another drawn out sigh. "I've been dealing with the crowd for the past hour. Your arrival was much needed."
"Well done, stallion. You've done your Princesses proud." Odahviing turned around to face the small gang of nobles with Hrothgar. They'd not said a word, but if looks could kill, he and Hrothgar would have been corpses the moment they'd landed. He cleared his throat. "Citizens, return to thine homes. The Princess will have a statement for thee within the hour." Unfortunately, that seemed to have the opposite effect of what the stallion intended, as the Unicorn who'd been raising a ruckus earlier rose his voice once more with a vengeance.
"I don't want to wait a bucking hour!" he bellowed, causing the residents of the nearby buildings to poke their heads out their doors and windows. "My associates and I need to leave immediately!" he gestured to the pair of ponies who flanked him, a very bulky Earth Pony with a brown coat and a white mane, and a shorter, teal coated Unicorn who looked very shifty, carrying two large saddle bags on his back. Both of them looked a bit anxious, be it from the fact that their leader was drawing attention... or something else.
Hrothgar raised an eyebrow at their anxiety. Maybe these were accomplices of the creature that had caused this whole fiasco and wanted to get away from it. He glanced sideways to his Captain, who nodded. Hrothgar stepped forward. "You'll need to wait, sir. But in the meantime, we would like to ask you and your associates some questions." It was only when Hrothgar uttered the word 'questions' did the anxious looks the trio turn into faces of ponies who had something to hide. The smaller Unicorn began to take a step back, "And where do you think you're going?!" Hrothgar shouted at him, causing the teal stallion to squeak and freeze where he stood.
"N-n-nowhere! I was just... stretching my legs!" the stallion said with a nervous laugh, pulling at his collar as he did so.
Hrothgar squinted his eyes and pouted, his gaze now drawn to the bags on the teal Unicorn. "Why are you gentlestallions in such a hurry to leave?" He asked, deciding to save questions about the bag for last, "And on that note, why are you three so nervous?"
"None of your business, you whelp!" the lead stallion said, stomping a hoof in aggravation again. "Now step aside!" The Unicorn trotted forward, his nose held up high in the air. Hrothgar stepped in front of him, stopping the stallion's advance and receiving a strained whine for his troubles. "I said step aside!"
The noble was really beginning to get on Hrothgar's nerves; in fact, he could practically feel the snootiness coming off of the buck-head. Never the less, the Guardpony remained silent as he stood his position. 'Just like Odah taught me: don't react. Ignore them and they get mad and make mistakes.' Hrothgar thought to himself, before he turned his attention back to the noble. The bright pink unicorn, whom Hrothgar had decided to call Hissy Fit for the time being, tried to step around him. The Guardspony flared his wings with a metallic snap, blocking the Unicorn's path and earning yet another ear-searing whine.
"Are you dumb, you foal!?" The aptly nicknamed Hissy Fit spat, rearing on his hind legs and splaying his forelimbs skyward exasperatedly. Hrothgar suppressed a chuckle at the sight, but was unable to suppress a reply.
"No, but I see a pony who sounds like somepony pissed in his tea..." he muttered under his breath. Hissy Fit's eye twitched and he ground his teeth. Apparently Hrothgar's utterance wasn't as quiet as he wanted it to be.
"You... petulant, uncultured ruffian! You're a foal and an idiot!" the Unicorn shouted loudly. A few steps away, Odahviing watched the situation, keeping his eyes on the two accomplices of the noble and the small crowd that was starting to gather. They didn't look like an angry mob, but more along the lines of a group of curious ponies. Still, he had to applaud his apprentice's skills, save maybe the comment; a bit loud, that. He'd have to talk with Hrothgar about that. Hissy Fit's wave of insults grew ever loud, growing ever more vulgar, but Hrothgar just kept his mouth shut. Odahviing let a small, almost imperceptible smile cross his face...
"... and your mother was a whore!" Hissy Fit shouted, and the crowd erupted in a gasp. Odahviing's small smirk faded almost instantly upon hearing that, replaced with a sharp inhale. He knew what was coming next. He knew, but hoped that it wouldn't come to pass. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Nary a moment later there was the sound of a Unicorn being struck, and sent sprawling to the ground. Hrothgar had kicked him right in the face and he was fuming with anger. The Pegasus tore off his helmet, throwing it on the ground and giving everypony a look at his eyes: they were alight with fury.
"TAKE THAT BACK YOU BUCKING HORSEAPPLE! TAKE! IT! BACK!" Hrothgar roared, stomping over to the prone Unicorn, looking ready to knock all of Hissy Fit's teeth out. The Pegasus raised a hoof to stomp down on the Unicorn's face.
"BROTHER HROTHGAR!" Odahviing shouted, the Royal Guardspony Canterlot Voice smacking the younger Pegasus off balance and sending him stumbling off to the side. The Night Guard Captain strode over to his apprentice, disappointment etched upon his face. "What in Tartarus wert thou thinking?!"
Hrothgar ignored his mentor's words, trying to push past him to get at Hissy Fit. The Captain grabbed ahold of the younger Pegasus's blond mane with his mouth, restraining him. Hrothgar whinnied in fury as he flailed his front legs, trying to tear away from his Captain's restraining grip. "Let me at him! I'll break his teeth!" the blond Pegasus snarled, causing the now recovered Hissy Fit to scrambled backwards, wanting to get away from the angry guard.
Odahviing yanked hard on Hrothgar's mane once more, before looking to the other Guardpony. "Bruffer garfpony, affiftance peafe!" he ordered as best a pony with a mouthful of mane could. The Earth Pony Guard from earlier hurried to help, grabbing a hold of Hrothgar and easily halting his movement.
Satisfied that his apprentice was held back, Odahviing walked over to the crowd, particularly the Unicorn that Hrothgar had kicked. Hissy Fit was scrabbling to his feet, clutching his jaw and ranting angrily. "That's assault! I'll charge you for that you—"
The pink Unicorn's threat died off as he found the face of the Night Guard Captain less than an inch from his own face. As much as Hissy Fit wanted to get as far away from the huge and intimidating Pegasus, he found himself transfixed by the Guardpony's gaze. His limbs became concrete as a the dark chill of fear shuddered down his spine. It was a gaze of somepony much greater, a gaze that made Hissy Fit feel so tiny, so insignificant. The larger Pegasus's lip pulled back into a snarl, before he finally spoke:
"Go home. Now."
"Y-y-yes s-s-sir." Hissy Fit stammered, gulping loudly. The Unicorn turned tail and fled into the crowd, shoving aside ponies who got in his way. The rest of the crowd watched him go, before a clearing of the throat drew their attention back to Odahviing.
"Citizens of Canterlot, thy princess Luna requests thy presence at Castle Canterlot within the hour," he announced, his amplified voice reaching the ears of everypony there. "Please, for the time being, return to thy homes."
It didn't take long for the crowd to respond and quickly disperse. Within the span of several minutes, the only ponies remaining on the street were Odahviin, Hrothgar, and the Guardpony who was restraining him.
"Let me go... Let me at him." the younger Pegasus's demands had quieted to a angered whisper, and his thrashing had degraded into weak kicks.
Odahviing let out a heavy sigh, turning back to face his apprentice. He removed his helmet, holding it in his hooves as he shook his head. "Hrothgar... I know your mother is a sensitive topic for you." The older Pegasus said, all amplification and formality gone from his voice as he placed a hoof on Hrothgar's shoulder. "But I've told you, you can't explode into rage every time somepony says something about her."
The younger pony averted his gaze from the Night Guard Captain, muttering something that Odahviing nearly missed. "...Bastard got what he deserved." Hrothgar muttered, before looking back towards the Guardpony restraining him. "Could you let me go now?" The Earth Pony looked towards Odahviing, who nodded in affirmation, and then released Hrothgar. The younger Pegasus stretched his bat wings, before trotting over to his helmet and picking it up. Despite being thrown to the ground in a fit of rage, the armored head piece was unsullied save for a small scuff where it had struck the ground.
"Hrothgar, you can't just brush off that you nearly broke the jaw of a civilian." Odahviing paused, before adding "I won't claim that he didn't deserve it, but I've told you time and again—"
"Control my anger or it will control me," Hrothgar recited flippantly. "Yeah, I get it. I can't help it! I try to keep my temper down, but the moment someone even mentions her name in the wrong tone... " The younger pegasus growled angrily, stamping his hoof on the ground repeatedly. He slumped to the ground with a sigh, exhaustion from flying non-stop all day finally taking its toll on him.. "...I miss her, Captain." Hrothgar felt a heavy hoof rest on his shoulder.
"There's a time and a place for mourning, my apprentice." Odhaviing placed his helmet back upon his head, unfurling his wings . "Come now, we've only a short way to go. Art thou able to fly?"
Hrothgar pushed himself to his feet, fighting the urge to yawn. He might have been tired, upset and stressed, but when did that stop the Captain? "I've been worse..." he paused, before grinning and adding "... like when I had to carry your sorry flank out of that cockatrice nest."
There was a beat, then a rumbling chuckle that evolved into a boisterous laugh from the Night Guard Captain. Hrothgar joined in a moment later. Soon, the air was filled with mirthful laughter.
"Well consider my talking thy sorry arse out of that situation repayment for that."
"Oh come on, I had to drag your stoned body out of there, then beat the son of a toad who statued you to a pulp so you'd get free! Why should scaring a noble be repayment when you scare them on a nightly basis?"
"Because I am the Captain." Odahviing said with finality, before turning back to the lone Guardpony. "Stay Viligant, Brother." The Guardpony saluted, before returning to his post at the gate.
"To the skies, Brother Hrothgar!" the Captain bellowed, and with twin downward snaps of their wings, the two Pegasi rocketed upward into the air once more and began their flight to their next objective. For the next several minutes, Hrothgar and Odahviing flew in silence once again as they adjusted their flight path back to Castle Canterlot. Down below, they could see several ponies already making their way to the castle...
"...Captain, Look!" Hrothgar suddenly shouted, pointing a hoof upward. The stallion's gaze followed Hrothgar's hoof, and gazed upon the sun... and let his jaw drop ever so slightly. Once again, the star was moving along it's celestial path. Visibly so. As though making up for lost time, it drifted towards the western horizon...
'Celly made this look so easy...' Luna mused to herself as she focused on her task. Remembering what Celestia had told her of the devastation an Eternal Night had caused, Luna had quickly surmised that a time of Eternal Day would be just as terrible for the populace of Equestria, if not more so. So, just like her elder sister before her, the Princess of the Night had taken the duty of moving both the Sun and Moon. At the very least until her sister was well again.
"It shouldn't be that hard," she had said to Silver Strings a short while ago, "How hard could it possibly be?"
Significantly harder, as Luna soon found out. Moving the moon was no easy task, by any standards, but moving the sun? She could only wonder how Celestia didn't burn herself out every day when she made the sun rise!
Luna screwed up her face in concentration as her horn glowed with her signature midnight blue magic in her attempt to set the sun. Silver Strings sat a short distance away, apprehensively watching his Princess do the very job her elder sister had done. The elderly stallion shifted uneasily and opened his mouth to speak, but closed it when he realized that a slip in Luna's concentration could have more disastrous consequences than overexertion. That didn't stop him from getting up from his seat and trotting back inside the castle to find a medical kit in the event something unpleasant did happen.
Luna allowed herself a small sigh of relief as she heard her butler's hoofsteps fade. Now that she didn't have someone watching her work, she found it much easier to concentrate. Not that she didn't enjoy his company, but such a delicate job as moving the sun required that she devote every ounce of her focus to it. Knowing that somepony was watching her work was not only distracting, but it made Luna anxious. And anxiety led to mistakes.
"Move... move... AH! TOO MUCH TOO MUCH!"
"Mistress Luna, is everything alright?!" Silver Strings called from within Luna's room, having returned from his errand. He poked his head out onto the balcony, watching Luna's fight for control.
"Yes! No need to worry!" Luna answered rather haphazardly as she redoubled her efforts to correct herself. Wild fluctuations of magic pulsed from her horn as she sought to reassert control over the spell. To her trained eye, the alicorn could see the various strands of magic weaving around her horn and the sun as she tried to move it back into alignment with its celestial path. To the untrained eye, it looked like the sun had developed a mind of its own, thrashing about in the sky for a few moments. "Come on Luna... if you can suplex an Ursa Major... you can do... THIS!" the Princess of the Night growled, letting out a roar of effort as she finally reasserted control over her magics and pushing the sun smoothly down the rest of its path. The sky changed from a baby blue to a bright, vibrant orange, before the deep violet abyss of the night sky came into view, no longer hidden by the bright rays of day. Luna's legs wobbled, all strength gone from them, before she collapsed onto her belly, her chest heaving as she caught her breath.
"Princess Luna!" Silver Strings galloped over to the prone Alicorn, his faced etched with worry.
"I'm fine, Silver Strings." Luna huffed, pushing herself to her feet. Sure, the claws of fatigue gripped at her, her emotional state was beginning to decay, and worry wracked her very soul, but she was not hurt in the slightest! If her body was still whole, she would continue.
"Mistress Luna, you're stressed out of your mind and you've been working nonstop. As your butler, your friend, I implore you to rest!"
"IF WE REST NOW THEN WE ARE NOT FIT TO BE PRINCESS!" Luna rounded upon her butler, letting out a Traditional Royal Canterlot Voice amplified shout.
Silver Strings clenched his eyes shut from the force of the roar, his monocle blown clean off his face. "P-Princess... " he sputtered, tying his mane back into the ponytail that it had been blown out of.
"Silence, Silver Strings." Luna's voice had a hard, angry edge to it. "I am the acting ruler of Equestria for now. It is my duty to care for its citizens. I cannot disappoint the ponies I protect!"
"I never said you'd—" The loud, leathery flap of wings interrupted the butler pony, announcing the arrival of both Hrothgar and Odahviing. The pair of Guardponies touched down, bowing before their princess.
"Captain Odahviing, Hrothgar." Luna addressed the pair of guards.
"Milady." They replied in unison, before rising from their bow. Luna took notice of the discolored scrape on Hrothgar's helmet.
"Didst thou come into conflict?"
"A minor altercation, Milady. I assure thee, nopony was hurt," Odahviing spoke, looking back to the sky; stars now dotted the black void. "Thou hast moved the sun..." The Captain seemed... awed by the feat. Luna could see it in his eyes...
"Yes. Our Sister has not yet awakened, and We had to take up Her Sacred Duty." She let out a tired sigh. "It has taken much of Our power to do so... but we endure."
"You should rest!" Silver Strings interjected, his voice laden with frustration. "Even Princess Celestia had her limits; even she needed rest!"
"SILENCE!" Luna barked angrily. Silver Strings was taken at the unexpected fierceness of the order, shocked into silence. Without another word, the Alicorn stormed back inside, slamming the door behind her. Once the Princess was out of earshot, the butler turned to the Guardponies, flabbergasted.
"I... I don't know what to do!" he exclaimed, pacing as he spoke. "At this rate, Luna will work herself to death!"
"Yeah, we kinda got that." Hrothgar muttered with a roll of his eyes, only to receive a bash on the back of the head from his Captain. "Ow! What was that for?"
"Your flippant attitude, Brother." Odahviing turned towards the butler pony. "Sir Strings, Princess Luna is a stubborn mare. It will take more than the word of a simple coltservant to change her mind."
"Oh, I knew that. It just makes it all the more frustrating! Why won't she listen to reason?!"
"Desperate ponies are rarely sensible, Sir Strings. She shall continue to do as she pleases until she comes across something she'll be unable to handle. Once that time comes, then she will look to you for help."
Silver Strings sighed, looking up at the stars that dotted the sky. They seemed haphazardly thrown about, nothing like the beautiful works of art that Luna usually produced. "I can only hope that you're wrong, Master Odahviing..."
Manehatten, The City that Never Rests, The City Of Second Chances, and the city of many other titles. Ponies would go about their own business on a day to day basis, carriage taxies would continue ferrying ponies to points all over the city, and barring a giant squid attack (what a time the Royal Guard had with that on,) not much happened that would break ponies out of their routines. A pony could walk around all day and not realize how late it was until he looked at a clock. In fact, that was most likely the reason why nopony noticed that the sun was still at noontime some eight hours later. Even then, it was only regarded as a mild curiosity.
Ignorance is bliss. A bliss that all of the Chaos Gods enjoyed as they walked through the crowd of ponies milling about. Strangely, nopony reacted to the appearance of four odd looking ponies, but then again, no one could easily look upon the actual Ruinous Powers.
No, seriously. The quartet of were invisible to all but each other.
"Tzeentch... you have five seconds to tell me why I am a fucking pony before I rip your head off." Khorne snarled, most certainly not pleased with his current form. The Blood God was now a massive, blood red, black maned Pegasus garbed in armor. "And why the FUCK DO I HAVE A GODDAMN TATTOO ON MY ASS!?" Khorne looked to his flank, adorned with his own sigil.
"Ah, I should have mentioned that... Equestria has a metamorphic metamagic field about it. It's a passive barrier that's so ingrained into the dimension that even I couldn't break it... if I wanted to that is." Unlike his far angrier companion, Tzeentch looked upon his current form with intrigue. He stood a head taller than the other Gods, his coat a regal blue. Rather than a mane of hair like everypony else, he had one of feathers similar to those of his wings. Ah yes, speaking of the wings: there was something the Changer of Ways was familiar with. "Hmmm, Wings... a full head taller than all of you... and— oh what is this?" Tzeentch reached a hoof up and tapped the horn upon his head. "Horn and wings? Huh, just like Celestia... interesting."
"Say it in something I can understand! Confusion makes me ANGRY!" Khorne bellowed, stamping upon the ground in anger. "ANGRY WITH ALL CAPS; ONLY CAPITAL LETTERS CAN DESCRIBE MY RAGE RIGHT NOW!"
"Whatever enters Equestria takes the form of its residents. Apparently that extends to us as well. To put it so simply that even you could understand, Khorne: Not-pony things go in, pony things come out."
"Grrrrr.... I HATE THIS PLACE SOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!" The Blood God looked upon the crowd that milled around them, murder on his mind. Tzeentch saw the coiling of a pounce being readied, and he sighed. His horn glowed a vile magenta color, before wrapping the ponfied Blood God in a wrap of magic. The effect was immediate: Khorne went to pounce upon the unsuspecting crowd, but found himself rooted to the ground. The God-Turned-Pegasus roared and thrashed about with anger, threats spewing forth from his mouth.
"Khorne, you know as well as I do that if we just go out into the open immediately, we'll be found out and routed. Unlike the Imperium, this world's Protector isn't rotting away on a giant golden seat." Tzeentch paused, before chuckling to himself once he realized the irony. "Well... one isn't, at least." The regal blue alicorn looked upon the crowd with feirce golden eyes. "Look around you: so many subjects to corrupt..."
"AND THEY ALL LOOK ADORABLE~!" came a piercing shriek from Slaanesh. The Prince of Pleasure's ponifed form was that of a bright pink, ambiguously gendered Unicorn with a garish white and black stripped mane. Its eyes were mismatched, one eye was a normal green pony eye, and the other was turqoise and siltted like a cat's. "Oh Us, I'm going to have so much FUN!" She Who Thirsts began to prance about, singing about the very horrible and very unsavory things it had planned.
"Look at them all, ignorant of what goes on around them. Just meandering and doing the same stagnating rituals every day." Nurgle murmured, looking upon the crowd. Not much had changed about him: he was still the big, bloated avatar of disease and decay that he had always been. The only major difference was that he was now a large, disgustingly bloated, sickly green Earth Pony.
"Excellent to see that at least some gods are enjoying themselves." Tzeentch sneered. "But I digress... let us stick with our usual modus operandi. Get a few souls corrupted into serving us, have them form cults, watch hell get raised, get a Warp Portal open, and kick back with a martini or two." he turned from the unknowing crowd and back to the other Runious powers. "So, gentlegods, I wish you luck.... oh and Slaanesh, don't cause spontaneous orgasms in the populace. It gets really messy and it is always a pain to clean it up."
"Awwww, but it's so fun watching them squir—" Slaanesh was suddenly interrupted by Khorne's massive frame casting a massive shadow over it. The Prince of Pleasure slowly turned about, and was staring down the business end of a giant Axe. It eeped, and then leapt back as Khorne tried to cleave him in two. Unfortunately, trying to cleave someone in two is much more difficult when the axe has to be wielded orally. Khorne's swing went wide, hitting the ground to the left of Slaanesh.
"GAAAAHGGH! I CAN'T EVEN FUCKING SWING MY US-DAMNED AXE CORRECTLY!" The Blood God howled in fury, his coherent words devolving into a mad gibbering not too dissimilar from the Berserker Marines that swore allegiance to him. He stomped his front hooves on the ground in a fit of rage. "THIS CURSED PLANET WILL RUN RED WITH THE BLOOD OF ITS INHABITANTS FOR THIS AFRONT!"
"Yeah... you do that, Khorne." Tzeentch snarked, before flaring his wingspan, "I'm going to go do... whatever it is that you aren't doing."
"Yeah... not that." and with a downward snap of his wings, the Changer of Ways took flight, leaving behind his fellow gods to their own devices. The sounds of bickering slowly faded from the ponified god's ears as the others fell out of earshot. Now that he was free to concentrate, Tzeentch began to look among the many, many ponies below him.
"So many ponies, so little time." he muttered, looking down upon the crowd for a perfect candidate. Somepony who was easily cowed. Somepony whom he could easily manipulate. Somepony who coul-
"Oh hello, what is this!" Tzeentch flapped his wings to still himself in midair. He'd felt something... interesting. It was a feeling of malice, mixed with hope, the hope to have the chance to humiliate someone so utterly. The swirling vortex of those emotions flared up in Tzeentch's sight like a flare, drawing him towards its source. Its thoughts, so rich with desperate plotting that they were already halfway to a prayer unto him, sounded in his ears.
"...those FOALS! How dare they call Trixie a two bit hack!" the voice screeched through Tzeentch's head, drawing him ever closer to its source. Tzeentch landed atop a building overlooking a small, dank alleyway. Down below, a bright blue Unicorn with an even lighter mane paced about angrily; Tzeentch could practically see her malice hang about her in a thick miasma. "They couldn't even see talent if it was shoved in their faces and then... WHATEVER ELSE WOULD BE SUITABLE!" The blue mare bucked the wall in anger.
Trixie began to pace back and forth, a myriad of curses spewing forth from her lips as she cursed her luck. Ever since that... incident in Ponyville with the Ursa Minor, it had become almost impossible to find work. Without her wagon-stage, one that had cost her a good sum of bits, she had to do her acts without the assistance of her dazzling display of fireworks. To her, that had been no issue: she'd stuck with her basic act, knowing that it would be plenty to keep those petulant spectators in awe.
At least that's how she planned it in her head. What actually happened was that she had done her usual routine, flashes of light, a couple of illusion spells to simulate a light show, the works. Everything had been going as planned: the crowd had been in awe. But then she had declared her name, declared herself as THE GREAT AND POWERFUL TRIXIE! It was at that moment that a stallion in the crowd had called her out, calling her a two bit hack. Trixie had laughed at him, demanding any kind proof to his insults.
He mentioned Ponyville.
It seemed that cursed town was always there to remind her of that blasted night. Try as she might to put that entire event behind her, it somehow always reared it's ugly head. That town had cost her the place that she had called a home for several years, and all of her possessions within it, and now it was beginning to cost her the reputation that she had built up over the years she traveled. What had those two featherbrained, idiotic foals been thinking when they brought an ACTUAL Ursa Minor to town for her to fend off? Surely anyone with half a brain would have realized that Trixie had been stretching the truth a little.
And then there was that one mare who dared to come out of nowhere and show Trixie up. To simply tame that beast of the stars without any effort. The one major blow to any credibility her stories might have had. Just remembering her lavender coat, her mane of deep purple with a brighter stripe, that Cutie Mark of a six pointed star, drove her to fury.
Trixie ground her teeth and, self control be damned, screamed skyward.
"CURSE YOU TWILIGHT SPARKLE! CURSE YOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!" the Unicorn's horn flared with magic as she seized a small trash can, lifting it up and hurling it against the wall. Refuse and trash were sent flying as the metal bin hit the wall with a loud CLANG. "I swear... I swear that you'll rue the day you dare to stand up THE GREAT AND POWERFUL TRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIXIE!"
Tzeentch looked down from his perch, intrigued. This mare had a penchant for showmanship, that was always good. She also seemed to be looking for vengance, another driving point. But there was the issue of her magical abilities, or rather lack of them. The Changer of Ways could already tell that this Unicorn was a braggart: exaggerating her powers to compensate for her lack of them. Still, people, or ponies in this case, on a quest for vengeance were very easy to manipulate. Casting a casual glance into this universe's past, Tzeentch focused explicitly on her. A little information gathering never hurt; after all, to be omnipotent, you needed to know, or have the ability to know, everything about everyone.
"Well... you're certainly an interesting little pony..." Tzeentch muttered, a coy smile curving his lip as all of Trixie's life flashed before his eyes. "You're not exactly what I'm looking for, but you'll do." he cast his gaze back to the ranting Unicorn. Without effort, his form dissipated into a cloud of smoke and descended down towards the unsuspecting mare.
"...and after Trixie has crushed you so thoroughly, Trixie will make you apologize and BEG for forgiveness for that affront to her!" Trixie let out a vile laugh as she imagined the Unicorn bowing before her at her feet. "And when you beg for forgiveness, Trixie will look down upon you, you pathetic Unicorn, and ever so gently whisper her answer to you... No."
"Certainly one for humiliation, aren't we?"
"GAH!" The Unsuspecting and Shocked Trixie exclaimed, rearing onto her back legs in surprise. "Who's there?! Who dares disturb The Great and Powerful Trixie during her monologue?!"
"The Great and Powerful Trixie? Such an impressive name for a Pony who couldn't even get into Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns."
Trixie froze. How did that voice... no, it was probably her imagination. The smell of the alleyway was getting to her. Yes, that had to be it.
"On the contrary, Miss Lulamoon, I'm far, far more real than whatever fantasies you could concoct." the voice spoke once more, letting out a snide laugh. "Always the one for showing off, even when you didn't get into the school you wanted to." It was now that Trixie noticed a thick blue cloud had descended upon her, flashes of light shining from within as the voice in her head spoke.
"H-h-how..." Trixie shook her head, this made no sense. Only several ponies knew that she had applied and was subsequently rejected from that prestigious school. And the ponies that she didn't know personally kept that rejection as private records. The unicorn stumbled back to where she had hung her cape and wizard hat, removing them from their resting spots and placing them atop her head and shoulders.
"I know all. I see all." Tzeentch's voice laughed.
"Well... if y-you know all then per-perhaps you know who you are dealing with!" Trixie stood on her hind legs, holding her front hooves outward in a feeble attempt to ward off the cloud. Her horn glared threateningly, for all the good it would do. "I am the GREAT AND POWERFUL TRIXIE! I can flay your flesh with a thought and pulp your bones with a blink!" Trixie's threat was met with another round of laughter.
"You could do no more to harm me than you could keep me entertained with the light show. I could turn you into a gibbering monster in the blink of an eye and you'd never even know." Trixie let out an audible gulp at the thought. This... cloud knew she was all hot air. Still, she stood tall, putting of her best impression of bravery as she stared down the cloud. The sourceless voice let out another laugh, almost admiring her bravery. Then came the clearing of a throat. "But...I am not here to harm you, no. I am here because you have caught my eye."
"...?" The glow faded from Trixie's horn, before she dropped to all fours. "I... I have?" Catching herself, Trixie cleared her own throat. "I mean, of course I have! Anyone would know that the Great and Powerful Trixie is an eye catcher! Trixie's power is unmatched!"
"Except for a certain purple unicorn who, and I quote 'dared to come out of nowhere and show Trixie up,' hmm?"
Trixie twitched in anger at the mention of that unicorn. "Trixie was simply... unprepared and restless! Yes, that! Those foals woke Trixie in the middle of the night and she had no time to prepare for the Ursa Minor!"
"You can lie to yourself all you want, my little pony. But you and I both know your stories are lies, stretches of the truth, and made up."
"Don't lie to yourself anymore. Your magic is as weak as your stories."
"Sh-shut up!" Trixie clamped her eyes shut, tears slowly beginning to form as she shook her head. "Shutupshutup!"
"Oh stop the water works. I said you were weak, not useless."
"Because you need to know your own lies before you know the truth." the voice said. The cloud in front of Trixie began to shrink a bit, taking on a more coherent form. "And I am here to show you the way to the true path."
"W-what do you mean?"
"The path to power. The path to finally get your vengeance upon those who have wronged you." The shape became more and more clear, now taking the shape of Tzeentch's alicorn form. "I can give you that power. No, I can promise you that power." The Changer of Ways extended a hoof, and a ball of magenta warpfire came into being and floated there.
Trixie looked upon the approaching Alicorn with awe. She thought that only Celestia and Luna were the only alicorns in existence, yet standing before her was one unlike any she had seen before. And he promised her power! Revenge! Trixie could only imagine what she could do with it. "This power... will it be able to help-"
"Take revenge on Twilight Sparkle? Utterly humiliate her? As she is now, yes." Tzeentch grinned once more, taking a few more steps forward. "You will have the power to raize buildings, dominate others, and split the sky asunder." Trixie's eyes lit up. She was already picturing herself lording over a defeated Twilight, and nothing stopping her.
"Trixie wants it! Give Trixie the power! GIVE IT!" she yelled, looking ready to pounce upon the Changer of Ways
"Then pledge yourself to me. Serve me loyally and you shall be rewarded."
"Trixie does! Anything for the chance to show those foals who dared wrong me!"
"Then come closer, say that you pledge yourself to Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways, the Architect of Fate, the Lord of Sorcery!" Tzeentch let out a low laugh as he saw the Unicorn scramble over to his hooves, a hungry look in her eyes. He smiled as he heard her pledge herself to him completely and utterly. Granted, he was being a little more upfront than he usually would, but not all steps in a plan had to be subtle and sneaky. Sometimes it took a little extravagance or offering power to temp mortals. He leaned his head down so that his own face was a short distance from Trixie's... "Utter the phrase, 'I serve the wind of change, it controls all! ' and the power is yours."
Trixie grinned happily, screaming. "I serve the wind of change, it controls all! I serve the wind of change, IT CONTROLS ALL! "
"Then it shall!" Tzeentch's horn glowed with magenta light, and he touch his horn to Trixie's. A flash of magic burst from the contact point, and Trixie screamed. The blue unicorn reared back, clutching her face as light erupted from her eyes as Warp Sorcery flooded her mind. And the pain, by Cel- no, by Tzeentch the pain. Trixie could feel her entire body, her mind, her very soul burned by the sheer power flowing for her. She could felt the desire to sever the connection to her body, to let the waves of power that crashed over her wash her away. Her thirst for revenge, however, rooted her firmly to her body. She wasn't going to loose herself in this power, not when she haven't had a chance to even use it. She endured the pain... pain that she'd never felt before. It was a pain that was a splash of ice water to the face: shocking, chilling, awakening. Yes, it stripped away the lies that she had known all her life, showing her spells that she'd never even DREAMED of.
She felt the Warp overtaking her... and it was a GOOD pain!
"YES! TRIXIE KNOWS EVERYTHING!!! TRIXIE! SEES! EVERYTHING!!!" Trixie cackled as she felt herself suspended in midair, the magic flowing about her. It was like waking up from a dream, she felt refreshed, reborn, remade. She cast her gaze towards the rubbish bin she had thrown earlier in her fit of rage, and her horn flashed once. The metal bin shuddered and shook, before exploding in a conflagration of magenta flame. The Great and Powerful Trixie cackled once again, her mirthful laughter reaching a crecendo.
Tzeentch chuckled at the Unicorn's display of her newfound power. She certainly was worth her title now... but he digressed. As impressive as the mare's showmanship was, she was nothing more than a pawn in his plans. She would be of use to him till she fufilled her purpose...
"Yes... for now." Tzeentch muttered as he saw the Cutie Mark upon Trixie's flank change. It was still a simple wand waving wound some magic, but now the magic had taken upon new shape.
The Mark of Tzeentch.
Just as Planned.
Thought for the Day: Better to be broken in body, than corrupt in mind.
Author's Note: Oh Geeze, this took a while, and it's not even as long as Chapter 2 was.
But yeah, Chaos Gods have moved on in, we get a little more insight into Luna's Guards, and Luna is stubborn as a mule. Also, a question for my readers:
Are you getting a bit bored with the focus on Hrothgar and Odahviing? Do you want me to cut back on their focus a bit?
The first thing that graced the Princess of the Sun's eyes were the sheets of her bed, white as her own alabaster coat. The Alicorn sat up, checking her surroundings: A large, pristine white room, bare save for a few tables with medical equipment upon them, a large, open window leading to outside, and the large white bed that she lay in. Given what had just happened to her, Celestia surmised that she was in her personal medical quarters. Everything was exactly as she remembered it.
Ah yes, that reminded her; her own body was in very sorry shape. Feathers missing from her wings, patches of fur burned away, and no feeling in her left hind leg beyond a dull throbbing. Still, at least she hadn't actually been killed... unlike several of the guards that had been protecting her.
Celestia flinched at the memory of a young Pegasus guard – Speed Ball was... had been his name, barely two weeks in the Guard – diving in front of her to intercept one of the balls of warpfire that had been aimed at her. She'd seen the look of determination on the young stallion's face for a scant second before the magenta flames consumed him, leaving naught but ash. The memory filled the Alicorn with pain and shame. She should have erected a barrier around the throne the moment the daemonhost's horn had glowed with that putrid magenta warp magic; she could have easily held back the assault, too. As the thought crossed her mind, Celestia began to ponder why she hadn't done that in the first place. Perhaps it was the shock of the situation, that a foe she 'd thought long gone had managed to return? Perhaps it had been the grotesqueness of the daemonhost itself; tentacles did not belong in those areas. The Princess was not a mare of a weak stomach; she had served along side Sir Aquila during the Griffus-Equestria Border War a century ago and was no stranger to the horrors of death and war.
And yet Celestia found herself sickened at the memory of the monstrosity that her foe had sent. Just the power emanating from it had made her ill... but then again she was no stranger to feeling the Warp rip and tear at her body. Memories long suppressed began to come back in waves: the claws of daemons tearing at her young body, the whispers of insanity that—
"I need some tea." Celestia suddenly spoke, pulling her thoughts away from the horrid memories. Twisting her head about the room, her eyes fell upon the nightstand next to the large bed. Atop it was the white and gold teapot and cup that she almost always drank from. A gentle cloud of steam rose up from the pot's spout. The Alicorn could just smell the tea already. The smell of Jasmine Oolong tea reached her nostrils, the signature drink of her favorite tea maker, Ground Herbs. Exactly as she remembered it. Focusing, she reached out with her magic, cloaking both the cup and and teapot in a glow of gold, before pouring herself a cup. As the pleasantly smelling liquid, the scent exactly as she remembered it, began to fill the cup, the Celestia felt herself calm for the moment. Levitating the hot pot back to the table, she looked into the teacup and brought it to her lips, letting the warm liquid slip into her mouth...
Celestia's eyes snapped open the moment the first drop of tea touched her tongue, pulling the cup away from her. There was something very, very wrong right now... She'd known Ground Herbs for as long as he'd been the current tea maker, fifty years and counting, and every time she had spoken with the elderly stallion he'd swore upon his family's name that he would never make his tea taste the same way twice or he would quit his job out of shame.
This cup of tea tasted exactly like the cup she had this morning before the Morning Cour...
Celestia blinked once as she began to put the two and two together. Realizing the predicament she was in and summed up her reaction in a single, succinct statement.
A horrible, echoing cackle suddenly split the air; Celestia watched as the teacup she'd held a moment earlier suddenly twist and snap out of existence. Thunder rumbled and lightning cracked in an intimidating display of chaotic fury. Sourceless daemonic screams echoed throughout the room, causing the Alicorn to sweep her eyes about. Movement out of the corner of Celestia's eyes drew her attention to the wall... and promptly regretted it. The walls had become distorted and misshapen, with screaming, eyeless faces bulging out of them. Anypony else would have been terrified of this sudden development, and most likely would have frozen where they stood.
But then again, Celestia was not an ordinary pony. Upon the conclusion of her sweep of the room, she raised an eyebrow, as if to say 'Really?'
"Tzeentch, stop with the theatrics." Celestia demanded, her tone unamused and unhappy. Her imposition was met by the ceasing of the horrid laugh, only to be replaced by the sound of a tongue clicking in disapproval.
"Celly, Celly, Celly. You're hardly in a position to be making demands," chided Tzeentch's voice, coming from the mouths of the many faces on the walls, speaking as one. "Unconscious, sealed in your own mind, and all within the span of a few minutes' time. You're slipping."
"You just caught me by surprise. If you were going to visit, you should've said something." Celestia said, sounding utterly disinterested with the vile view.
Another laugh, this one slightly quieter, chased her reply. "Surprises are more Slaanesh's thing anyway, be they parties, songs, or anal penetration. I prefer a slightly more... subtle, yet showy approach." Tzeentch's voice slithered into Celestia's ears like chilled mercury, causing the Alicorn to wince in disgust.
"Yes... subtle." Celestia sneered as she glanced meaningfully at the walls, which still writhed in maddened agony. "Obviously." One of the mouths on the walls opened up wide, before a single, bloodshot eye was pushed into place, staring at the Alicorn.
"But yes, I'm getting ahead of myself... how might you be holding up, dear old Celestia? "
"Oh, you know," the princess said with a shrug, "same old, same old. Omnipotent incarnation of chaos threatening my world. Again.”
"Mmmm, yes. It's been a long time coming. It gets awfully boring spending a thousand-plus years trying to crack a barrier like that while focusing on other plans." The eye suddenly sprang forward from it's spot on the wall, propelled by a tentacle, before stopping right at Celestia.
The Alicorn held still, staring at the eye with mild disinterest. “Get to the point, Tzeentch. I have much recuperating to get to.” she spoke, her face stoic. “What do you want?”
A chuckle echoed from the many mouths on the walls. "Always the stoic one, aren't you? You won't mind me and my...” There was a pause, as if the voice was searching for a word. “...associates... renting out the place for a while? It's gotten dreadfully boring in the Warp and we need a vacation."
Celestia scowled at the suggestion. "From what I recall, among the few things the Warp isn't is boring.” Memories of running about in that violent hellhole threatened to surge up from long-repressed memories, only for the Alicorn to force them back. Shaking her head, she then cast a piercing glare at the eye. She'd seen what Tzeentch was capable of, what he and the other Ruinous Powers had in store for Equestria. The alicorn's lips pulled back into a small snarl. “As for 'renting' Equestria, even if it was for sale, and it isn't, you have nothing I want."
Silence pervaded the room following Celestia's declaration, the eye staring at her for the longest time. Then, the room suddenly and unexpectedly erupted into a high pitched cackle as the many maws and orifices in the room erupted in laughter, filling the room with the sounds of vile mirth. “Oh! AHAHA! That's a good one! She- AHAHA she thinks we're asking!" The other mouths laughed in agreement, mocking Celestia.
The princess rolled her eyes and sighed. "Yes, yes, let's all laugh at the silly pony. Now, are you going to try and talk me to brain-death, or are you going to let me convalesce in peace?"
The eye turned its gaze back to Celestia, glowering at her. "C. None of the above. After all, neither is particularly advantageous for me. On the one hand, talking to you will become boring after a while if you don't react. On the other, leaving you alone allows you to recuperate faster. So, I have a better idea." The eye and mouths suddenly vanished, pulling back into the walls and melding into the solid surfaces. In front of Celestia, a giant TV monitor dropped down from the ceiling, coming to a stop in front of her face. The Alicorn could see her own reflection in the black screen staring back at her. She found it odd that while the rest of her body was battered, bruised and burnt, her head and face remained untouched. Curious... but she was getting distracted from her adversary's plot.
Celestia frowned. She had a hunch as to what was coming "Let me guess: you're going to show me my ponies being corrupted and slaughtered by you and the rest of your blighted pantheon." Maybe if she guessed ahead of time, it would spoil his fun. Maybe.
“No, that's too simple. Really, anything so predictable that even you could think of it sounds a bit too boring. For the moment, at least.” Tzeentch's voice echoed, droll tone exaggerated to the point of self-parody. “No, I've got something a bit more entertaining.” The eye from before appeared once more, except it was now floating in a cloud of blue flame, the sclera of the eye black as coal and the iris a fiendish gold. “We're going to find out how well Luna can act under pressure... how does an unruly mob in the Castle Courtyard sound?”
A flicker of worry played across Celestia's features before giving way to a grin. "Do you really think I have so little faith in my sister? She's got a cabinet of advisors who I hoof-picked and millennia of experience. She'll be fine. As for a mob, I trust the guard can do its job."
Another laugh; Tzeentch seemed in such a happy mood today, the Alicorn noted. She forgot how much the Changelord liked to hear himself laugh. "But... has she seen those loyal guardsponies and a few choice civilians slaughtered by screaming, firebreathing monstrosities from nightmares beyond even your wildest imaginations?" Tzeentch's disembodied voice laughed once more, this one much more sinister than before. "The stress is already getting to her. Who knows what might happen if she sees ponies she called together murdered?"
The alicorn shrugged her wings, not buying the scenario. "Pics or it didn't happen, Changelord." she declared.
The TV came on with a click and a hiss, making way for static, and after that, it focused on Castle Canterlot's courtyard, where hundreds, no, thousands of ponies had gathered, all of them looking a bit nervous. On the balcony where Celestia would have given a mandate stood Luna, flanked by her two guards. "Why don't you watch?", Tzeentch's voice echoed...
Luna took a deep breath, closing her eyes.
'Just like you practiced, Luna.' she muttered inwardly, trying her best to ignore the rising feeling of dread in her chest. Waiting below the Alicorn was every Pony who had been in Canterlot that day: aristocrats, merchants, workers, swindlers, models, every type of Pony that Luna could think of. She withheld a nervous gulp; no Princess worth her salt would dare show that she was intimidated by such a large crowd. Luna paused in her mental review of her speech, pondering just how many ponies were below her. All of them waiting for her... waiting, watching, judging...
The Princess of the Night turned her head to look at Odahviing, opening her mouth to speak. "...Captain, How many—"
"The entire population of Canterlot, save a few stragglers or those who couldn't make it. Around 346,587 ponies in all." replied the bat-pony, stoic as ever. Luna's jaw hung for a moment: over three hundred thousand ponies. Three. Hundred. Thousand. The number boggled the Alicorn's mind. There were more ponies in this one city than all of Equestria at the time of her banishment. Even the recent influx of ponies visiting her court was nowhere near that number.
And she had to speak to all of them at once...
'...Why couldn't I have been the one who got attacked?' she asked herself, brushing away the nervous sweat from her forehead. Being in a magical coma was far preferable to something like this. Celestia was the one who had been the public figure prior to the whole Nightmare Moon incident. Luna had always stuck to the shadows, unseen and never bothering with the large crowds.
The sounds of the castle's herald calling the attention of the entire crowd to introduce Luna snapped the Princess of the Night out of her thoughts. Quickly letting out another nervous gulp and steeling her visage, Luna readied herself.
"...presenting your Princess of the Night: PRINCESS LUNA!" the white stallion bellowed, stepping away to allow Luna to step forward. Almost at once, the midnight blue alicorn noticed that the crowd's reaction was nothing like if it had been Celestia. No cheers or stomping of hooves, just curious murmurs of "Princess Luna?" and "Where's Celestia?" Luna cleared her throat, summoning up the Royal Canterlot Voice.
"CITIZENS OF CANTERLOT!" Her amplified voice echoes throughout the courtyard, startling birds and several of the ponies who were not expecting such a loud greeting. "MANY OF YOU ARE WONDERING WHY THIS GREAT CITY HAS ENTERED A STATE OF LOCKDOWN, OR WHY OUR SISTER IS NOT HERE WITH US THIS EVENING." A murmur began to radiate throughout the crowd, murmurs of worry. The Princess of the Night took a deep breath, bracing herself for whatever reaction the crowd might have.
"IT IS WITH GREAT PAIN THAT WE BRING THIS NEWS: PRINCESS CELESTIA, YOUR RULER, OUR SISTER, WAS THE TARGET OF A HEINOUS ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT EARLIER THIS DAY." Luna paused for a split second, still unable to comprehend that someone, or in truth, something had tried to kill her sister, and nearly succeed. "WHILE HER ASSAILANT WAS UNSUCCESSFUL IN ENDING HER LIFE, THE PRINCESS HAS FALLEN INTO A COMA FROM WHICH SHE HAS YET TO WAKE." Before she even finished her sentence, the crowd below the alicorn rose into uproar. Gasps of horror, cries of fury, and the occasional invoking of Celestia's name.
"How did this happen!?" a livid stallion called out.
"Who will raise the sun!?" a frantic mare screamed.
"THE HORROR, THE HORROR!" a trio of fillies screamed. The crowd threatened to erupt into chaos!
"BE STILL!" Luna bellowed, the wind howling and thunder cracking as the Princess's exclamation rung throughout the entire castle grounds. Silence swallowed the entire courtyard as each and every pony flinched and were silenced.
"HER ATTACKER WAS SLAIN SHORTLY AFTER IT MANAGED TO INCAPACITATE HER. AS FOR HER DUTY OF RAISING AND LOWERING THE SUN..." Luna paused, the enormity of the task from earlier weighing down on her. "...WE SHALL TAKE UPON OURSELVES THE STEWARDSHIP OF SUN AND MOON ALIKE, LIKE OUR SISTER BEFORE US."
The noise of the crowd rose up once more, but in hushed murmurs rather than panicked caterwaul. Members of the crowd turned to each other and discussed amongst themselves. Luna let out a quick sigh of relief: no panic meant no riots, and no riots meant no ponies harmed. This had gone better than she had expected...
"Well, that could have gone worse. I told you she could handle it," Celestia said with a smirk as she watched her sister on the screen, feeling pride well up in her chest. A crunching noise interupted her thoughts, and she turned to her left: there sat Tzeentch, though not as Celestia remembered him. Last she'd seen him, he was a giant floating cloud of omnipotence and omniscience, not a bright blue Alicorn who was watching the screen with disinterest and casually munching on a bag of popcorn.
"Yeah, well..." the Lord of Change spoke, his mouth full and spraying popcorn everywhere (why he even bothered eating since he was a god, Celestia didn't dare contemplate,) "...that's because all those ponies that are in there? All those 'precious subjects'? They're sheep! They're rich and agree with whoever has the most cash or power." Tzeentch laughed, not making eye contact with Celestia. The Alicorn scowled.
"They're focused on material gains, and... yes they can be yes-ponies. But don't you dare—"
"Oh what are you going to do, give me a sunburn?" Tzeentch snarked, sticking his tongue out at the Alicorn. "They don't bother to ask questions, get knowledge that is rightfully theirs!" The ponifed Lord of Change lifted his hooves from the popcorn bag and clapped them together. The view onscreen changed to that of a bright pink unicorn stallion with a black mane. "All it takes is just one pony to ask a burning question..." Tzeentch smiled... "Just. One. Pony."
Celestia raised an eyebrow, before turning her gaze back the screen.
"Hold on a second!" a voice from the crowd called out, snapping Luna out of her relaxed state. The exclamation had come from the middle of the mass. Heads within the crowd turned towards it, and were greeted by the sight of a disgruntled bright pink unicorn stallion, his back mane combed in such a way to cover his left eye. Hrothgar sucked in an infuriated breath the moment he noticed him, recognizing the son of a mule who he'd kicked in the face. He opened his mouth to call out, but a swift glare from Odhaviing kept his mouth shut, even as the whiny voice of the pony – Hissy Fit, as he had mentally dubbed him – echoed throughout the courtyard. Luna, on the other hand, answered.
"AND WHO MIGHT THOU BE, CITIZEN?!
"Someone very important." the stallion replied, his voice oozing with self-righteousness as he stepped towards the line of guards, putting him right at the front of the crowd. "I am the Baron of West Pupik, a chair on the Parliamentary Subsidy Board for Sitting and Writing Utensils, the thricefold recipient of the Sour Grapevine, I have some questions, and I'd damn well like them answered!"
Luna paused for a moment, trying to drag any of those titles from the vast number that she remembered. Nothing came to mind. "Hmmm, very well. But first: your name?" she asked.
There was a pause from the stallion, before he let out a cough and a mutter. "Hissy Fit" came a reply through grit teeth.
"Pardon?" Luna said, dropping the Royal Canterlot Voice to better hear him.
"Hissy Fit." Slightly louder, but still barely audible even to her ears. The Princess of the Night spread her wings, hopping off the balcony and gently floating down to the courtyard. Hrothgar and Odahviing followed her down, not wanting to leave their Princess
"Once more?" She asked, hoof raised to her ear.
"...Hissy... Fit." The stallion groaned out. Luna blinked, finding herself in a moment of déjà vu.
"...twas a rough birth?"
"Mother said I cried no matter what was done." The stallion pawed at the ground, looking ashamed. A few quiet snickers came from the Royal Guards within earshot. A few ponies at the front of the crowd were less subtle, chuckling loudly. Odhaviing remained quiet. Hrothgar's eyes widened, before he suddenly burst out laughing.
"Sweet Merciful BUCK! That's actually your name?!" the young guard gasped out between laughs. It wasn't until he received three simultaneous glares from Luna, Odahviing, and Hissy Fit did he put his hoof in his mouth to stifle his laughter.
"...Forgive my guard, he's still in training under the captain." Luna curtsied, looking back towards Hissy Fit. "You had questions?"
The stallion looked at the giggling bat pony with a curious look. His eyes widened for a second, and he opened his mouth as if to say something. Before a word left his mouth, he closed it, and a devilish smirk crossed his face. "Ahem, yes. Several questions that I feel need to be answered." The Unicorn's horn glowed as he straightened his hair, the few bangs still covering his left eye remaining there. "First off: what exactly happened? All we're aware of is that an assassin managed to take out Princess Celestia and that you killed him, is that not correct?"
"Yes, that is correct. We saw our sister at her assailant's feet, before declaring a challenge in righteous fury! Soon after, we crushed the Assassin with the might of the moon!" The alicorn declared, raising her hoof up with an almost dramatic flair. Hissy Fit didn't seem impressed.
"That much we got, as well." he snorted. "But do you have the body? Furthermore; did anyone else see what
"Well... We..." Luna stuttered, trying to find an answer to Hissy Fit's question. There hadn't been anyone else to see the incident except herself, and Celestia's attacker had left no trace after coming down with a terrible case of harming-the-sister-of-the-mare-who-can-control-gravity. "We... We passed several fleeing maids and butlers as we dashed post haste to the throne room. As for the assailant himself, there are no remains; foul magics caused it's body to immolate, and leave no trace, not even ash."
"You dashed to the throne room?" Hissy Fit iquires, a puzzled, yet smug look on his face. "Couldn't you have teleported directly there and saved Celestia and the guards that had been killed?"
Hissy's question shook Luna to the core, her eyes widening as she came to the realization of. Of course, the one time she forgot that she had teleportation magic had to be the most dire of times. Taking her hoof, she let out a disgruntled sigh and face hoofed.
"We were... panicked." she explained, "Our sister was in dire danger, and we'd forgotten about our magic as we rushed to the throne room."
"Forgot... or you wanted to give the assailant enough time to do his deed?"
"...what?" Luna's eyes snapped wider, shocked at this suggestion. "What on are are you talking about?
"Where shall we begin, Princess?" Hissy Fit began to pace back and forth infront Perhaps in your sister's throne room, where you were conveniently the only other pony present? How convenient that nopony else can confirm the presence of this alleged assassin. Of course, your hoofservant could always vouch for you, but then, he would, wouldn't he?" the crowd, both of the guard and the civilians, let out a gasp of shock. But none were more shocked than the princess, who was now grinding her teeth in anger... "Or what about your diction?" The stallion continued, his caustic gaze still looking over Luna as he prowled back and forth in front of her, his steps becoming almost predatory. "It was understandable when you had first returned, but you've been immersed in modern culture for far too long for your use of the outmoded royal 'we' to be anything other than intentional. You don't just speak for yourself. You speak for something far, far darker; something you want us all to think is no more."
"How DARE THOU!" She bellowed, the wind suddenly howling in anger upon her shout. "HOW DARE THOU SAY, EVEN SUGGESTS, THAT WE WOULD TRY AND HURT OUR SISTER!" the Princess of the Night spread her wings, her eyes shining a brilliant white as her anger surfaced. "AND TO SUGGEST THAT WE ART THE MARE IN THE MOON... CHOOSE THINE NEXT WORDS CAREFULLY, CRETIN, ELSE THOU SHALT BE SMOTE WHERE YOU STAND! The crowd behind Hissy let out a terrified yowl and backed down, but not Hissy, who only seemed convinced of his argument at this point, if the smug grin on his face had anything to say about that.
"And here is evidence of this darkness!" He declared, turning his back to Luna for a moment and facing the crowd. "Threatening to smite somepony for simply voicing a theory?! I thought a Princess was supposed to love all of her subjects; Not act like a Dictator worthy of the nation of Griffus!" At this, Luna stopped, the question giving her pause... she DID threaten to smite him for simply speaking, but then again, he was angering her on purpose... but what if-
"Well it'd be hard when a hissy little buckface like yourself!" Hrothgar suddenly interjected, leaping forward in front of Luna and glaring the flamboyantly colored stallion in the eyes and stepping forward. Hissy Fit began to take steps backward, leaning his head as far away from the Guard as he could. "Calling the Princess out like that when she just had her sister seriously hurt is in bad taste! AND YOU CALLED MY MOTHER A WHORE! I'd very much like to cave your damned skull in you worthless piece of-" the younger guard bellowed, pressing his face against Hissy's. Of course, before he could finish, or do anything else he might regret, he felt a sudden yank on his tail, before the sudden feeling of weightlessness for a split second. He yelped and then felt the feeling of cold hard ground hitting his chest. He looked over his shoulder, seeing a very furious looking Odahviing with the younger stallion's tail in his mouth, as well as a disapproving glare from Luna and the rest of the Dawn Guard.
"...You see that?!" Hissy Fit suddenly exclaimed, turning back to the crowd. "Such rowdiness from a trained guard... one who'd even roughed me up PRIOR to now!" Dramatically, Hissy Fit lifted the bangs of hair covering his other eye, exposing the bruised and swollen shut ocular organ. "And that was from a captain's aide! I shudder to think what brutes and cutthroats you have lurking in the lesser ranks!" "This kind of barbarism would be unthinkable and inexcusable among Celestia's guards." he turned to Luna, pointing a hoof at her face.
"But we aren't dealing with Celestia, are we? No, now we have you and only you, the only princess we have to turn to in this time of tumult. Who would question a few emergency reforms, a lessening of daylight hours so you could save your strength? By the time you were through, we would have only noticed the coup when the sun hadn't risen in a month!" Hissy snarled. "The game is up, Nightmare Moon. You may have eliminated Celestia, but the rest of ponykind will not—"
"My sister is not dead." Luna spoke each word with careful, measured control, having reigned in her anger from her earlier outburst. Hrothgar and Odahviing tensed themselves. The princess of the night was pissed.
"Of course she isn't," scoffed the agitator. "That would be far too obvious. You might as well have banished her to the sun. No, you needed her out of the way in a way we wouldn't question. This assassin of yours is just a ploy to pull the wool over our eyes, but I will not stand for it!" the Stallion once more, turned to the crowd. "The facts are here, everypony! Will you take this liar's words for what they are?! Or will you stand up for what's right!?" to anyone smart, like Luna, and most of the guard, Hissy Fit looked like a raving lunatic. To the rather unsettled, paranoid crowd, however, the pink Unicorn's ranting began to make some lick of sense. Already, the quiet murmurs from before began to grow louder, before slowly rising into riotous cries of displeasure!
"Tell the truth!" one pony shouted
"Stop her! Get her to bring back Celestia!" another shouted
"Death to Nightmare Moon!"
Luna let out a panicked yelp as the crowd began to advance forward; no no no! This is EXACTLY what she wanted to avoid!
"Wait! Stop! We are... I am not Nightmare Moon!" she pleaded, even as her guards stood between her and the mob. "Just listen to me!"
"Listen to more lies that you spout!? We'll have none of it!" Hissy Fit yowled, now at the head of the mob. "Surrender yourself, Nightmare Moon, and we'll make sure you have a fair trial!" spurred on by Hissy, the Mob began to move forward, dead set on grabbing the Princess.
Guardponies, protect your princess!" Odaviing suddenly shouted, his magically enhanced voice snapping the rest of the Guards out of their stupor. Without a moment to loose, they rushed forward, forming a wall between the mob and Luna, who was incoherently apologizing as she lost herself to panic. With a sudden flash of magic from her horn, the Princess of the Night vanished in a flash of white light, reappearing on the balcony from where she came. Before her butler could even make a move to even acknowledge her, Luna immediately curled up, trembling frantically.
"Out of the way, idiots!" Hissy Fit snarled, his horn glowing with magic. "Let us at the liar! She deserves to be punished!"
The restless ponies began to mill around the guard, threatening to devolve into an full out brawling mob. Odhaviing hissed, baring the slightly elongated fangs that were associated with his guard.
Then there came the clearing of a throat.
All eyes turned towards the sound. There stood Fancy Pants, looking at them with a mix of pity and disappointment. He stared at the mob for the longest time, before finally speaking. "You all know who I am," he said. "You all know what I've done. You all know that I respect you, and you me. Now I ask you to show that you are worthy of that respect, worthy of your city, your princess, and your nation."
Silence reigned around the courtyard as the mob was shamed into silence. Even Hissy Fit was stunned, his jaw hanging open.
"Now, Her Majesty has had an arduous day, my friends. It would be in the best interest to not declare her something she is not. Good day." the white stallion simply glanced at the mob. At the front, Hissy Fit snorted, shaking his head.
"Are you daft, Fancy?! There are facts here that are—"
"Pure speculation based upon circumstantial evidence, fueled by a mob mentality. Really, Hissy, your actions are more befitting of your name than any credible objection." Fancy Pants took a few steps towards the smaller pink stallion. "Overreacting to things you hear without getting the whole story, really?"
"Whole s— What are you talking about?!" Hissy Fit stomped his hooves in anger, becoming more livid by the second. "Princess Luna said she was the only eyewitness to the whole thing!"
"And you didn't bother to ask Celestia's guards to confirm that?" Fancy Pants smiled sagaciously, gesturing over to a stallion just as tall as he, and colored exactly the same. The main difference was that this stallion was garbed in armor of a royal purple hue trimmed with gold, a six pointed star emblazoned on his chest piece. "Captain Armor, did you have any guards that were with Celestia prior to the attack?"
The younger stallion blinked for a moment, before nodding. "Yes, Lieutenant Constant Vigilance lead the afternoon shift as Celestia's Honor Guard," Shining Armor replied, remaining stalwart and straight faced as he spoke. "What he told us was... a bit unsettling, actually. He described some thing vaguely pony-shaped that flung balls of magenta fire that..." Shining gulped, as if trying to find the words. "...I can't believe that I'm saying this, but the magic it used reduced several guards to ash, armor and all. We teach all of the Unicorn guards and battlemages various forms of magic, but this was something we've never seen."
The crowd erupted into a whispered discussion for a moment, allowing Fancy Pants to speak once more. "Mmm, yes. One last thing, Captain Armor: how did the assassin enter the throne room?"
"Through the ceiling. It blasted through a foot of marble and steel with one shot of magic."
"And Princess Luna, from where did she enter?"
"The doors of the main chamber, blew them right off their hinges." Shining exclaimed. At the back of his mind, he couldn't help but wonder if a certain other Alicorn could do the same, and vowed never to anger her. "And just to be sure, I had the battlemages and court wizards sweep the area. They did find traces of Luna's magic on the door, but the debris on the ceiling had the residue of a magic very different from the Princess's."
"So, Hissy, how do you explain that?" Fancy Pants spoke once more, smiling with what would be considered a hint of smugness on any other stallion. The kind of smile that made you feel both flattered and insulted.
That was exactly how Hissy Fit felt as he let out another strained, angry groan, stomped his hooves again. "I-illusion magic!" the pink unicorn spat, desperately trying to keep his argument from falling apart.
Fancy Pants shook his head. "Luna's type of illusion magic does not reduce ponies to ash." He took a few steps forward, looking Hissy fit right in the eyes. "Now, I'm going to repeat myself: I ask you to show that you are worthy of my respect, worthy of your city, your princess, and your nation."
Hissy Fit opened his mouth to argue, but found it very hard to focus all of a sudden, as if his thoughts had been lost in a fog. Suddenly, Fancy Pants's request seemed like the best idea to him. "Y-yes sir..." the pink Unicorn muttered, before stepping back into the crowd.
A long pause followed, no one spoke, not even the crickets and birds chirped. Then, very slowly, the mob began to step back, many ponies hanging their heads. As they did, Fancy Pants heard a pair of loud sighs of relief behind him. Shining Armor and Odahviing being the source of it.
"Fancy, thank yo-" Shining Armor began, only to be cut off by Fancy Pants
"It's nothing, Captain. I was simply doing my duty and assisting the Princess in whatever way I can." Fancy Pants took off his monocle with his magic, giving it a quick once-over with a cleaning cloth. To Odahviing he muttered, "And Odahviing Chaser, I believe your princess might need reassurance from you and your apprentice." he passed a glance to the younger Dusk Guard, before casting his eyes upward to the balcony. Hrothgar blinked as a simple citizen addressed his Captain not only by his title, but by his name as well. Not even Celestia did that! Odahviing simply nodded.
"Your help was most appreciated, old friend." the batpony said, nodding his head, which Fancy returned. Spreading his wings, the Dusk Guard Captain looked to his apprentice. "Come brother, our princess needs us.
"Y-yes sir!" With a metallic snap of their wings, the stallions took flight back up to the balcony where their princess waited.
Fancy Pants pulled his pocket watch out, opening it for a moment, before looking on over to Shining Armor, the similarly colored stallion still staring slack-jawed. "So, Shiny, how's the wife?"
"Buh, wha?!" Shining Armor snapped out of his stupor, his helmet rattling as he did so. "Oh, well. Cadence is... doing alright. I guess?"
"That's good to hear." The older stallion said, clearing his throat. "In any case, my work here is done. My wife's come down with a bad case of the chills and I should head home to her. Take care, chap." And without another word, he turned about and left the Captain. Shining Armor blinked...
"...That was odd." he muttered. Still, it shouldn't be anything too unusual. Shrugging, he turned back to his retinue. "Alright, Guardponies, keep an eye out for any more agitators in the crowd. I don't want ponies getting riled up and causing another panic." he ordered. "And be sure to get some rest, and I want double shifts on tonight's patrols. Anything sneaks in, I want to hear about it."
As if to grant his request, an unholy shriek and the crack of thunder suddenly ripped through the air, as if reality itself was crying out in pain. The wind roared as if enraged, spurred on by some unnatural force. Near the castle doors, a swirling blue and black vortex of space and time suddenly appeared. The appearance and noise caused by the appearance of the rift sent the crowd into disarray as ponies stumbled and tripped in their scramble to escape from it. The Guardponies reacted as they were trained, already placing themselves in a phalanx formation between the swirling cloud and the civilians with perfect military efficiency. Shields and spears went up, forming a wall between the two. Though it was only a small cadre of about 22 ponies, the veritable wall of shields was threatening enough, ready to tackle whatever might come through the rift.
Unfortunately, nothing the guard had ever trained for could prepare them for what came next.
About a score of pink, bipedal beasts poured from the rift, balls of magenta flame flying from their gaping, toothed maws or from one of their three hands. Not that it mattered where it came from, because all of them were equally effective: the first salvo struck the foremost guards in the formation. With a flash of magenta flame on impact, the struck guards were knocked back, either blackened and burned corpses or naught but ash. Their shields did nothing, only serving as a secondary plate of armor before another ball of fire incinerated them Panicked whinnies ripped through the guard as they began to break rank, their formation beginning to crumble.
"HOLD THAT DAMN LINE!" Came a bellow from Shining Armor, the stallion leaping to the forefront of the formation. His horn flashed with magic as he cast a spell, a wall of magic spanning the entire formation flashing into being. A second salvo of the magenta fireballs impacted against the shield, dissipating on contact. The Captain of the Dawn Guard looked over his shoulder, to his men. "You break formation, and those civilians get hurt!"
"Bu-but captain!" one of the Unicorn guards spoke up, shaking like a rattlesnake's rattle. Shining Armor glared at him
"Damn it, you're a Guardspony, soldier! If you won't stand here, then get a few others and get those bucking civilians out!" he yelled, before pointing to a few more guards, a female Pegasus, a male Unicorn, and a male Earth Pony. "Mist Chaser, Sugar Blossom, Charming Knight, you work with him on getting the civilians to safety! Everypony else, with me, prep for counterattack!" The four guards all saluted before rushing in the opposite direction, barking out orders to the fleeing, panicked crowd. Shining returned his gaze to the beasts beyond the barrier, their twisted bodies unmoving, as if they were confused or angered, each and every one of them hissing and squealing angrily. Though this act of intimidation did little to scare Shining, he still felt a shiver go down his spine. These creatures were like nothing he'd seen before, and when you went into battle with a foe you knew nothing about, you were gambling your life. Even so, he had to buy time for the civilians, and that meant drawing the attention of the monstrosities. The remaining guardsponies around him, twenty-two in all, readied their spears and themselves, each one apparently coming to the same conclusion.
Shining's horn glowed once more, and he let out a single roaring shout. "GUARDPONIES, CHARGE!" As one, the small force of guards let out a collective battle cry as they dashed towards their foes. The horns of the Unicorns flared various colors as they fired off magic blasts in a suppressing action, the Pegasi took to the air and dive bombed them, while the few Earth Ponies in the group simply ran full tilt, their spears held forward. Shining's shield held out under the barrage of warp fireballs until they were well within range. The monstrosities who threw them roared menacingly as the guards approached, a few of them ducking down as the magic from the Unicorn guards flew over their heads. Then, when the charge of guards were mere meters away, Shining Armor dispelled the shield. Spears were thrust forward, Pegasus wings slashed with metallic snaps, and magic missiles of all colors streaked forward. Scarlet ichor splattered from the stabs, slashes, and impacts as the vile creatures were struck, each of them screaming in unholy agony. One of the Pegasus guards struck a horror at the crown of it's head, his wing (or rather, the extreme air pressure about it) cutting downwards. A pair of pulpy wet smacks were heard a scant second later. Shining's horn glowed once again, his magic conjuring a small shield.
"DIE MONSTER!" he shouted, slamming the miniature barrier into the nearest Horror's head, knocking it backwards. The unearthly beast's head hung at an odd angle as it collapsed to the ground, a gurgling noise emanating from it's throat. More battle cries and death rattles came from all around, and unfortunately, the casualties were not solely on the Horror's side. A Unicorn whinnied and screamed as his horn was ripped free of his head, before getting a claw through his throat, while a pair of the monstrosities grabbed a pegasus guard from either end and pulled him apart. Never the less, Shining kept barking orders and morale boosting shouts, continuing to fight with his guards for as long as he could. Thankfully, with one final gurgling sigh from the horrors, the combat had swiftly come to an end. Shining wiped the ichor that had splattered on his face away with a hoof, looking over to his retinue. "Casualty report; who'd we loose?" he asked.
"Spark Flicker is dead... oh Celestia, they ripped Bruiser in two..." came the reply from one of the guards, sounding extremely distressed and grossed out. Shining averted his gaze... death came and went; now was not the time to get sick over it.
"Focus, Guardpony." he said sternly, before looking to the other guards. "Alright, cordon off this area and -" There was a sudden sound of a POP, almost comical, followed by one of the guards in front of Shining shouting a warning. Rather than looking over his shoulder, the Captain leaped forward, spinning about to face what what behind him. He was a tad on the slow side, however, and felt burning pain run along his sides as claws dug into his flank, leaving a trio of long bloody slash marks. "What the-?!" Shining growled in pain, looking towards his attacker... or rather, attackers. Where the dead pink horror had laid a moment earlier, there was now a pair of similar looking blue horrors. Then came the popping noises again... all of the downed horrors suddenly convulsed, before exploding with loud comical pops. The result was them splitting into two smaller, blue colored versions of themselves. Shining quickly counted... where 22 creatures had fallen, there were now 44.