Broken Silence

by Shadow Horizons

First published

Twilight finds herself the unwilling target of a small group of ponies mere weeks before the resigning of the peace treaty between nations.

The Sunrise Accord. A binding agreement between Equestria and her neighboring nations to maintain peace that is signed whenever a new leader rises to power in one of the nations.

With the recent redemption of Princess Luna, and the revealation of the newest bearers of the Elements of Harmony, Princess Celestia has called for another resigning of the Accord. And on the day of the Summer Sun Celebration, all of the nations will meet together to do the signing.

However, an old order of anarchists threaten the prospect of continued peace. And, to Celestia's dismay, they've set their sights on her faithful student.

Abandoned due to lack of inspiration and other projects.

An Urgent Meeting with the Princess

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Chapter One: An Urgent Meeting with the Princess

It didn’t matter that she had walked through the Great Doors into Canterlot Castle countless times over the past few years. It didn’t matter that the warm glow of the eternal fires burning in their braziers that reflected off of the black and white checkered flooring and golden accents of the massive foyer were a familiar and usually welcoming sight. All that mattered to Twilight Sparkle at the moment was the curiosity she had about the Princess’ request to meet her at the castle in private.

Questions swirled around in the mind of the purple-coated unicorn like a mental melting pot, but all of them boiled down to the question of why Princess Celestia wanted to meet with only her and not the rest of her friends. The past several times Twilight had been called by the Princess to Canterlot, her friends had been summoned along with her. So, why was this meeting different?

As she strode across the foyer, Twilight’s lavender eyes automatically focused on the stained glass mural at the top of the wide staircase that dominated the back-half of the hall. Unlike the other stained glass scenes taken from Equestria’s history that could be found throughout the castle, this particular scene was one of the most iconic amongst all circles of ponydom. The image Elements of Harmony, in their former state, shone brightly as the midday sun beamed through the glass. To their left was the image of a white alicorn with a pink mane, flying in circles around the Elements in tandem with the image of her sister, a dark blue alicorn with a mane colored like the night sky.

Standing underneath the motif was the sun princess of Equestria and Twilight’s mentor, Princess Celestia. Everything about the Princess practically screamed royalty, from her brilliant alabaster coat, to her magnificent, multi-hued mane that seemed to flow on its own in a non-existent breeze. Princess Celestia didn’t immediately notice Twilight enter though the massive doorway. Her full and undivided attention was on the conversation she was having with a thick-furred being that was only slightly smaller than her.

Twilight’s heart seemed to come to a sudden halt mid-beat and she found herself frozen in place as Celestia’s conversation partner took notice of the new arrival and turned to face her, giving Twilight a clear view of what it was, an Arcwolf. The one now staring at her was powerfully built. He had a slender, yet-muscular body, clearly designed for speed and strength that was easily visible despite the thick amount of well groomed white-fur that coated his body.

Among the various breeds of canines in existence, the Arcwolves were amongst the most, if not the most, intelligent of all. They mostly kept to themselves, living in small townships in the frigid arctic country of Vinterall and were rarely seen outside of their homeland, which only raised further questions in the back of Twilight’s mind.

The purple-coated unicorn remained in place as the Arcwolf turned back to Celestia and thanked her for her time before turning away to walk towards the exit. Twilight remained still, frozen with fear as the Arcwolf flashed a grin in her direction, displaying his shockingly pristine, and razor sharp teeth designed for tearing into flesh. A chill ran down the young unicorn’s spine. She must’ve visibly shivered, because the Arcwolf let out a bark of laughter.

“Ease yourself, young one,” he said in a deep, soothing voice. “I’ve no desire to taste the flesh of my dear friend’s subjects.” He bowed his head slightly towards her in a gesture of what Twilight assumed was respect. “I am Arctos, Alpha of the Arcwolves. If I’m not mistaken you are Twilight Sparkle, are you not?” Twilight nodded slowly, still slightly nervous. She had never exactly felt comfortable around carnivores. She blamed it on their teeth. “I’m truly honored to make your acquaintance. Your Princess speaks most highly of you in her letters.”

Twilight was taken aback. “She- she writes about me?” She inquired. The Arcwolf let out another barking laugh.

“Of course she does!” He grinned toothily back at her. “And with good reason. She’s very proud of you.” The unicorn felt her face flush slightly as Arctos continued on to say “I do wish I had more time to speak with you and hear your account of some of the tales Celestia has written to me about, but I’ve been away far too long and must return to my home. Farewell, Miss Sparkle.” Giving her another courteous bow, the Arcwolf strode out the foyer and into the blinding sun outside.

Twilight watched as he left, temporarily mesmerized by the way the sun shone against his white coat, creating an effect similar to how snow looked in the early light of day after falling. But she wasn’t here to have a prolonged chat with Arctos, Alpha of the Arcwolves. She took a deep breath and turned back to face her mentor, who was smiling softly down at her. A small twinge of unease raced through her as she looked up at the Princess. Celestia’s wings were folded against her side rather than flared out proudly, a truly rare sight. Twilight honestly could not recall the last time she hadn’t seen the Princess’ wings fully extended. And there was something else behind that warm smile. Sadness, perhaps?

“Thank you for coming on such short notice, Twilight Sparkle,” Celestia said as Twilight began to ascend the stairs.

“Of course, Princess,” the young unicorn replied. “If you don’t mind me asking, why did you only want to see me?”

The Princess was silent for a moment longer than necessary, as she stared down at Twilight, who felt her stomach twist into a knot. Something was clearly, very wrong. “Please, come with me.” Celestia turned and led her most faithful student up the smaller flight of stairs to her right and into the Hall of Histories. Here, depicted in over a hundred stained glass windows, were several of the most famous scenes of ponydom’s history.

Twilight immediately recognized several scenes. The very first window depicted the founding of Equestria when the three pony tribes finally set aside their differences and unified under the banner of friendship. Almost immediately after that scene was the legendary battle between Starswirl the Bearded and the great dragon, Legorath. Another displayed Nightmare Moon being banished to the heavenly body she had once had dominion over.

Celestia stopped shortly after passing the image of Nightmare Moon’s banishment and stared up at the window in front of her. Twilight stopped as well, giving her mentor a quizzical look as she did so. Celestia’s gaze remained on the window for several uncomfortably long moments. Displayed in the glass were the images of several different races gathered in a circle around a diamond shaped object. The image of Celestia was at the top of the diamond. To her left and right were the images of a griffon and an Arcwolf, respectively. Below the Arcwolf were the images of a pair of deer, the mysterious race of magic users from the great forests of Calavan that lay just past Equestria’s easternmost border. Opposite of the deer was a Ram, to represent the sagely race that resided in the unnamed mountainous region to the southwest of Equestria. Celestia finally broke her gaze away from the window and turned her head towards her student, giving her a soft smile.

“Do you remember the first time I brought you here?” She asked.

Twilight nodded in response, a small, reminiscent smile spreading across her face. “How could I ever forget? It was my first time ever getting close to the castle and I got to come inside!”

Celestia let out a small chuckle. “Yes, I remember. You were so excited and full of so many questions. I even had a hard time keeping up with you.” She turned her head to look back up at the window. “This was the only window in this entire hall you asked me about. You had never heard of the Sunrise Accord before, and so I explained it to you.”

“That’s right,” Twilight said, the mental image of herself as a young filly eagerly asking her new mentor about the window briefly flashed through her mind. “You told me that the Sunrise Accord was put into place by you and the leaders of the nations that surround Equestria to maintain peace and prevent another war like the Nightmare War from happening ever again.”

“Your memory is as good as ever,” Celestia commented proudly. Twilight’s cheeks flushed briefly at the compliment. “Those were almost the exact words I said to you that day.” The Princess’ smile slipped and she hung her head slightly, a simple display of emotional weakness that the young unicorn standing next to her had never seen before.

“Princess…?” The knot in Twilight’s stomach only got tighter. There was no doubt about it now, something was terribly wrong. Even when Discord had been set free, Celestia had only shown signs of irritation with the spirit of Disharmony and Chaos. Now, she looked sad and worried.

“Forgive me, Twilight,” Celestia said. “I haven’t been feeling quite like myself lately.” She drew in a deep, calming breath and quickly regained her composure. “I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m bringing up the first time I brought you to the castle.” Twilight nodded in response and Celestia couldn’t help but notice the look of confusion on the unicorn’s face. “When I told you about the Sunrise Accord, I only told you what any history book you read about it would say. I didn’t tell you one of the driving factors that allowed so many different races to put aside their…” she paused for a moment, trying to find the right word to use. “...disapproval of one another for the sake of peace.”

Celestia turned away from the image of the first signing of the Accord and briskly trotted down the hall with Twilight following her closely. The Princess led them to a small door, hidden behind a curtain at the end of the hall, just a ways past the two windows that depicted Twilight and her five closest friends defeating Nightmare Moon and Discord with the Elements of Harmony. The sun princess turned and stared down at her most faithful student.

“In this room is the window that tells a story even I do not wish to remember,” Celestia explained. Twilight picked up on the subtle hints of strain and emotional pain in her voice as she spoke. A soft yellow light surrounded the Princess’ horn as she used her magic to activate some hidden mechanism behind the door. A series of loud clicks shortly followed and ended with a dull thud before the door slowly opened inward of its own accord.

The sudden rush of fresh air from outside swirled through the room that had been locked for an unknown number of years. Thick amounts of dust were thrown into the air and even outside of the room in a small cloud. Twilight let out several painful coughs as she accidentally inhaled some of the dust. She looked up at the princess, still feeling confused at the entire situation. Celestia seemed to be unaffected by the dust, but she no longer wore a smile. Her face was grim and her mouth was pulled into a taught line as she stepped into the room. Six magical fires blazed to life along the edges of the room, activated by a permanent spell.

The room was, for the most part, empty, and yet the space felt cramped. A small stone platform that was about as tall as Twilight stood in the center of the room with a pale blue crystal resting in its center that glowed with a faint internal light. Directly above the crystal, floating in midair and held in place by magic, was a stained glass window. Twilight stared up at the window, her studious curiosity beginning to take hold.

The window, unlike the others in the hall beyond the room, made particular use of the colors red and black. It displayed the truly horrifying images of five ponies wearing black cloaks murdering others with blades and magic. The blood of their victims ran down the glass, pooling together and leaving a large, red section that took up most of the window. The only reprieve from red in the lower half of the image was a yellow circle that contained the image of a weeping Celestia.

“I have spent almost my entire life pursuing peace,” Celestia said softly. “When Discord ruled over Equestria with his madness, my sister and I rose up against him to bring about harmony. When Nightmare Moon reared her head, I banished her to protect my subjects. But when these ponies appeared…” She gestured with a hoof at the black cloaked ponies on the window. “I was powerless.”

“Who were they?” Twilight asked. “I’ve read quite a lot of Equestria’s history and even a little of the history before Equestria, but I’ve never seen something so… awful.” Celestia looked down at her student sadly.

“You won’t find them in any history book,” she explained. “But you might find mention of them in a conspiracy novel or two.” She turned back towards the window and sighed. “It wasn’t too long after I had banished Nightmare Moon that these ponies appeared. I’ll be honest with you Twilight Sparkle, I had always had Luna there to help rule before. But, with her gone I was finding it hard to rule by myself. I had never had to raise both the sun and moon before and I had to master it while doing my best to stop Equestria from collapsing in on itself or being torn apart by its neighbors.

“I managed, though. Somehow, I managed it all. I struggled for years but when it was all said and done, Equestria was as strong as ever. The last of Nightmare Moon’s loyalists were locked away and I was beginning to meet with the leaders of our neighboring nations so that we could achieve peace and harmony between us all. And that’s when they emerged.

“They called themselves the Black Hoof, a group of ponies who opposed not only my rule, but the rule of anypony. They were under the impression that ponies didn’t need rulers and that we didn’t need to make peace with any other race. Unicorns, like you, were able to move the sun and moon on their own before my sister and I came along. So the Black Hoof claimed that the other races should be thankful to us, otherwise, we could take away the sun and moon and plunge the other nations into darkness so they would never think to oppose us.

“Naturally, I was immediately opposed to their views and I refused to listen to them. So they decided to take matters into their own hooves. They became assassins and began attacking important political figures. In a few short years, many good lives were lost. Not just ponies were the victims. The chief of the griffins was one of the first non-equines to go. A small pack of Arcwolves and an entire clan of deer soon became victims as well.

“The other leaders and I met in secret shortly after that. We all agreed to work together to stamp out the menace of the Black Hoof before the masses as a whole began to learn of their existence and panic set in. That was how the Sunrise Accord truly came to be. We agreed to peace, but only after we eliminated the assassins. So we hunted them down until we had caught and punished them all. It took us fifty years because they kept moving around and recruiting new members, but we did it. Once the last of them was taken care of, we made the Sunrise Accord official, and agreed to have it resigned every fifty years to maintain the agreement.” Celestia turned to look down at her most faithful student. The purple-coated unicorn had visible paled.

“How, um, how did you punish them?” Twilight asked, hesitantly. She almost didn’t want to hear the answer.

“Murder in cold blood is one of the worst crimes a pony can commit,” Celestia explained. “It deserves only the harshest of punishments. I trapped them and prolonged their lives so they’ll be forced to suffer with their punishments forever alone.”

The Princess’ words triggered a part of Twilight’s memory. Words she had heard spoken in the Hall of History not too long ago quickly flowed through her mind. ‘It’s quite lonely being encased in stone. But you wouldn’t know that, would you, because I don’t turn ponies into stone.’ Twilight let out an audible gulp, but Celestia didn’t seem to notice.

“Forgive me for being so forward, Princess, but what does any of this have to do with me?” The young mare asked. “And why did you only want to meet with me and not with the rest of my friends?”

“It has everything to do with you, Twilight, and your friends too,” Celestia replied after a minute or two of silence. “But what I intend to speak with you about needs to be kept an absolute secret from anypony. Luna even tried to discourage me from sharing it with you, but you are my most faithful student, and even though part of me sides with my younger sister, I cannot bring myself to hide it from you.” Celestia gave her student a sad half-smile.

“As I’m sure you know, I’ve been meeting with the leaders of our neighboring nations for the past few weeks now,” the Princess continued as she led Twilight out of the small room and relocked the door. “For the most part, they all agree that Luna needs to sign the Sunrise Accord, as well as you and your friends.”

Twilight’s mouth dropped open slightly in shock at the idea. The prospect of being able to be a part of an important historical event was truly astounding, but it also raised questions within her mind. “Why us?” She asked, tilting her head slightly to the side. “I can understand Princess Luna, but why me and my friends? We’re not all that important, are we?”

“Of course you are,” Celestia said with a smile. Once again, Twilight managed to catch a glimpse of sadness hiding behind the Princess’ eyes before it vanished. “You and your friends are, for all intents and purposes, the Elements of Harmony. You have been since the six of you defeated Nightmare Moon and gave me back my sister. The other leaders agree that the Elements should have the opportunity to sign the Accord as well.”

“But that doesn’t explain why you asked me to come alone,” Twilight noted, “or why Princess Luna didn’t want you to share that wit-” her voice trailed off as she realized the Princess was slowly shaking her head.

“That’s not what Luna wanted to keep a secret from you,” Celestia said. She motioned with a tilt of her head towards the door to the room they had just left. “I didn’t show you that window as just a history lesson. It was a warning about what the Black Hoof is capable of.”

“A warning?”

“Yes. A warning.” Celestia fixated a gravely serious expression on her face and looked back at Twilight. “What Luna didn’t want me to share with you, was that we believe the Black Hoof has returned. Not the same group I trapped years ago, but a group of assassins nonetheless.” She lifted her left wing slightly as her horn glowed with a soft yellow light. A photograph floated out from underneath her alabaster feathers and hung in midair between the Twilight and Celestia. “They sent us this.”

Twilight gave a gasp. It was a picture of her and her five closest friends, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity and Rainbow Dash all gathered for a group photo outside of the library in Ponyville. It hadn’t even been a day after they had defeated Nightmare Moon and at Pinkie’s suggestion, they had all agreed that taking a picture together to celebrate their newfound friendship was a fantastic idea. To Twilight’s previous knowledge, only seven copies of the photograph existed. One for each of her friends, and one she had sent to the Princess to show how happy she was to finally have friends. But in this photograph Celestia was showing her, a black horseshoe had been drawn over the faces of her and her friends.

“What in Equestria?” Twilight asked out loud, taking a step back from the photo. “I don’t understand.”

“This was how the Black Hoof announced themselves when they first appeared,” Celestia explained, her tone unreadable.

“You don’t… you don’t think we’re the Black Hoof, do you?” Twilight asked nervously.

Celestia shook her head. “Of course not, my little pony,” she reassured the young mare, who breathed a sigh of relief. “That’s not it at all.” Twilight breathed a sigh of relief.

“Then what does it mean?”

“I’m sorry, Twilight. But it means that the Black Hoof has chosen you and your friends as their first targets in over nine-hundred years.”

Like a Game of Chess

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Chapter Two: Like a Game of Chess

Celestia took another sip of tea and carefully eyed Twilight over the cup. The young unicorn hadn’t spoken a word in almost half an hour and still had yet to so much as touch the tea in front of her. Celestia gently set the cup down and fixated her student with a concerned stare.

“Bit for your thoughts?” The Princess asked. Twilight shook her head and remained silent. Celestia let out a sigh. “Come now, Twilight. This isn’t like you. I know you’ve got something going on in that head of yours.”

“I just don’t understand it all,” Twilight said, finally breaking her silence. “None of this makes any sense. Why would the Black Hoof come back now, after nine hundred years of doing nothing, just to kill me and my friends? It doesn’t add up.”

“It’s because you and your friends are the only ones who can wield the Elements of Harmony,” Celestia explained. Twilight raised an eyebrow at her. “The Elements are… well, I don’t know if ‘picky’ would be the right word to describe them since they aren’t exactly sentient. Their power can only be used if the ones using them had a strong enough connection to the six Elements.

“My sister and I found them during Discord’s reign, and as you know, we used their powers to trap him forever. The second time they were used, I was forced to use them against Nightmare Moon when I banished her into lunar exile. After that, the Elements refused to respond to me.” Celestia gave her student a small smile. “But I knew that someday, Nightmare Moon would return and the only way to stop her would be with the Elements of Harmony. So to keep them safe, I built Canterlot and moved away from the palace in the Everfree Forest because I knew that once the palace was abandoned, nopony would ever have reason to venture that far into the forest ever again. And so, I left the Elements of Harmony behind for the day, or night I should say, when they were needed again.

“As time went on, I began to watch closely for anypony that might represent any of the Elements. But I grew hopeless as time grew shorter. Then, I received a vision.” She chuckled at the look Twilight was giving her. “Yes, a vision. My sister and I had always received visions of the past and occasionally of the future, but they were always hazy to us and never clear on most details. This vision, however, was exceptionally clear. It showed me a young unicorn filly that was going to take an entrance exam for placement in my School for Gifted Unicorns. She was very gifted with magic in the vision and for the first time in centuries, I believed I had found somepony who represented one of the Elements.

“So, I decided to put this filly to the test. As fate would have it, the Queen of the Dragons had come to me just weeks before, and presented me with a small dragon egg. The poor, unborn dragon’s parents had been killed in a devastating avalanche back in Draconia and without its mother to hatch the egg, the poor thing would die. That egg was the key. I worked an enchantment into its shell so that only a safe spell that could hatch the dragon without harming the creature would open it and I had it presented to the filly as her entrance exam.”

Twilight’s eyes were as wide as dinner plates and her mouth hung slack. Celestia simply smiled back at her and took another sip of her tea.

“That… that was…” Twilight was stumbling over her own words as she processed what the Princess had just shared. “You knew about me from a vision?” Celestia nodded.

“And I found out about your friends in the same way,” she explained. “I had visions of each one of them every night for the next five nights after I made you my personal student. But I didn’t believe them until I had a vision of what would happen on the day Nightmare Moon returned.”

Another moment of silence overtook them as Celestia waited for her most faithful student to respond. When the unicorn sitting across from her remained silent, she continued. “Do you understand yet? These visions were clear to me because of my former connection to the Elements. They showed me the six ponies that represented them the best and pointed me in the direction of the one who would unite them together with the magic of friendship, you.”

“The Elements now only respond to you six, as all of you are the first ponies to truly represent the spirits of the Elements in over a thousand years. If something were to happen to all of you…” Celestia let her words hang.

“That’s why the Black Hoof is after us?” Twilight asked in a barely audible whisper that would make Fluttershy sound loud. Celestia nodded.

“Without a doubt,” she said as she finished off the last of her tea. “If they were to successfully eliminate the six of you, there is the possibility that it could destroy the Elements of Harmony as well, given how closely tied to the Elements you and your friends are.”

“What good will that do anypony?” Twilight asked, hanging her head slightly. “How does violence solve anything?”

“It doesn’t,” Celestia answered. “Violence begets violence. That’s why I strive so hard to maintain peace not only among my subjects, but among the other nations around Equestria. One war will lead to another, and to another, and to another. One of the best examples of this would be the legends of an ancient race of that once ruled over this world of ours. They were an incredibly violent species and though they preached about peace, they knew nothing of it. They would kill each other over the pettiest reasons and they waged many terrible wars against themselves with weapons of unfathomable destruction until one day, they finally destroyed themselves.”

“That sounds like a terrible story,” Twilight pointed out.

Celestia nodded in agreement. “But it isn’t without its lesson, Twilight. It teaches us that violence will only lead to our own destruction, just as it did with that ancient race.”

“Is it true though?” Twilight asked. “About the ancient race, I mean. Did they really exist?”

“Who knows?” Celestia replied. “I’ve never found any evidence to their existence aside from the legend itself, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. If they ever existed, it was long before my sister and I came into being.”

Silence once more fell between the two of them. Though Celestia didn’t show it, it made her slightly uncomfortable. Ever since she had met Twilight, there had hardly been a moment when the two of them were together that was spent in silence, with the exception of the times when Twilight was completely focused on her studies. A small voice in the back of her mind wondered if Luna had been right, and that she shouldn’t have shared the information about the Black Hoof with Twilight.

“So, what do we do now?” Twilight finally asked after a couple of minutes.

“Now, we wait,” Celestia replied. A look of shock appeared on her student’s face.

“Wait?!” She cried out. “But they’re trying to-” Celestia held up a golden hoof to silence Twilight before she could continue.

“Yes, Twilight, we wait,” she explained. “Think of it like a game of chess. By sending the picture, the Black Hoof has made the first move and now they’re waiting to see how we’ll retaliate. So we’re going to wait for them to make the next move.”
“I don’t think that’s how chess is played, Princess,” Twilight pointed out.

“I know,” Celestia said. “But to defeat an enemy that thrives on using underhoofed tactics, you need to use underhoofed tactics of your own. So, we’re going to trick the Black Hoof into thinking that we aren’t taking them seriously.”

“How are we going to do that?” Twilight asked. “I can’t think of any way to pull it off, especially since they probably know that I came here to see you today. They’ll put two and two together.” Celestia smirked confidently back at Twilight.

“And that’s where we have the upper hoof,” she said. “When you leave here today, you will return to Ponyville and continue going about your day-to-day business as though nothing was wrong. You will still write to me when you learn a lesson about friendship and you will pretend none of this happened today.

“But I’m not sending you back without protection.” Twilight’s ears perked up and she gave her teacher a perplexed stare. “When I first received the message from the Black Hoof over a week ago, I immediately began making the necessary preparations to ensure that you and your friends would be protected by trustworthy ponies. Most of them have been in Ponyville for quite some time now and they’ve promised to protect the six of you with their lives if necessary.”

Twilight swallowed a nervous lump in her throat, silently hoping the entire situation wouldn’t have to come to that. “Do I know any of these ponies?” She asked the Princess.

“Perhaps,” Celestia replied. “I would be surprised if you hadn’t seen at least one of them before. As I said, they’re all living in Ponyville. Well, almost all of them.”

Twilight waited, expecting the Princess to elaborate further, but instead was met with silence. Twilight cleared her throat and asked another of the many questions burning in the back of her mind. “Do I get to meet any of them?”

Celestia fixed her with a stare and Twilight fell silent. The stare wasn’t intimidating or angry; in fact, the Princess’ expression was unreadable for a moment before she broke into a small smile. She opened her mouth to speak but was immediately cut off as one of her unicorn guards strode up and whispered urgently in her ear. Celestia’s smile vanished, replaced with a frown that clearly displayed her annoyance.

“Can’t they wait?” She asked back. “I’m in the middle of a very important meeting with my star student.” The guard shook his head and Celestia let out an irritated sigh. “Very well. Inform his lordship that I will meet with him shortly.” The guard bowed to the Princess and quickly exited the room.

“I’m so sorry about this, Twilight,” Celestia said, giving the lavender coated unicorn the most apologetic look she could to convey how sorry she really was. “Lord Steelbeak has never had much patience, and I wouldn’t want to anger the Altai Dominion further by denying their leader an audience. Things are already tense enough with them as it is.”
“I understand, Princess,” Twilight said, doing her best to hide her unease at the prospect of having to leave Celestia’s presence so soon especially now that she was aware of the fact that a group of assassins were after her and her friends. She realized quickly that the Princess had easily seen through her.

“Don’t you worry, Twilight Sparkle. I will do everything in my power to put an end to the Black Hoof, once and for all,” Celestia vowed. She bowed slightly to Twilight, startling the young unicorn. “Try not to worry too much. My guards will escort you back to Ponyville and there you will be protected by the ponies I have charged with keeping you and your friends safe from those assassins.” And with that, Celestia rose to her feet and turned to leave with Twilight following suit. A pair of pegasus guards, both with dazzlingly white coats beneath the golden armor they wore, strode forward to flank Twilight on both sides.

“Make sure she makes it back to Ponyville safely, sergeant,” the Princess said sternly to the guard on Twilight’s left. Twilight winced slightly as she saw the look Celestia gave the guard. It was a threat as much as it was an order as the look on her face clearly added ‘Or else.’ The guard saluted and gave a verbal confirmation.

“Until next time, my faithful student,” Celestia said. She gave Twilight a sad, half smile and slowly made her way out of the room as Twilight was ushered out through a side door and into a spiral staircase leading to the courtyard.

Unbeknownst to Twilight, Princess Celestia threw one last look over her shoulder at the disappearing form of her student before stepping into the room beyond where her sister, Princess Luna stood waiting.

“You lied to her.”

Celestia winced at Luna’s words. They were cold as ice and her tone was nothing but accusatory.

“I just didn’t tell her everything.”

“You don’t deny it?”

“Why would I? I didn’t have a choice.”

“There is always a choice, big sister. You could’ve told her the whole truth. A partial truth is still a lie.”

“What was I supposed to do?” Celestia asked quietly, tears she had been fighting back for days finally began to well up in her eyes out of guilt. “Was I supposed to tell her that she is the real target, just so the Black Hoof can get to me? Tell her that her friends are only targeted because she’s their goal?”

“No. If I had been in your position, I would’ve done the same,” Luna admitted. Her tone had dropped to the soft, comforting level of a mother soothing her heartbroken child. She stepped forward and gently nuzzled her older sisters’ cheek. “But that doesn’t mean it was right.”

Despite the situation, despite the stress she was under now, Celestia found herself almost unable to suppress an urge to laugh. “And here I thought I was the big sister…”


Twilight stared in dull shock at the two pegasus guards that had been assigned to take her back to Ponyville. Their pristine white coats were ruined by the twin rivers of crimson running down their necks, staining their coats red. Their eyes were opened and staring lifelessly across the courtyard.

The young unicorn’s heart pounded painfully against her chest as she found herself unable to move, frozen as much by fear as she was by the cold, razor sharp edge of the blade that was being pressed against her throat. She couldn’t see the other pony clearly, only the faint, blue glimmer of his horn that matched the aura supporting the knife in midair and the black cloak that concealed any defining features on him. She could feel his breath, hot and moist behind her ear as he leaned in closer to her.

“Tell me, Twilight Sparkle, do you fear death?”


Author's Note: Yes, the beginning is slow and incredibly short. But future chapters are planned to be much, much longer. I just can't resist a good cliffhanger.

Mist Weaver

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I have returned! After almost two months of writers block with this story and the two others I've been working on, I was finally able to finish this chapter and make it presentable. So without further ado, I present the next chapter!

Disclaimer: Shadow Requiem does not own My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. But you already knew that.

Chapter Three: Mist Weaver

“Tell me, Twilight Sparkle, do you fear death?”

Twilight’s blood ran cold as the stallion whispered the question in her ear. A small part of her mind immediately wanted to scream at him for the unwanted violation of her personal space, but the fear that was keeping her from reacting was also binding her mouth shut. She could feel the cold metal of the blade through her coat and the knowledge that she was literally a hairsbreadth away from joining her ancestors in the void was beginning to make her knees shake.

The stallion remained silent for a few moments, waiting to see if Twilight would respond before letting out what sounded to Twilight like a disappointed sigh. “I’ll take that as a yes,” he said. “I have to admit, I’m disappointed. I never expected Princess Celestia’s prize student, the mare who opposed Nightmare Moon without hesitation, who led the small group of ponies in opposition of Discord and who is the living embodiment of the Element of Magic to freeze up when a blade as pressed to her throat.” Twilight’s eyes shot open in mixture of surprise and irritation. Was this stallion actually insulting her before he planned to kill her?

“Why wouldn’t you just use a teleportation spell to put yourself behind me, where you can land a blow across the back of my head, rendering me unconscious?” The stallion asked. Twilight mentally kicked herself, one, because that course of action should have been her first reaction to the situation, and two, because it was the stallion (a pony that had come here with the intention to kill her) who suggested it.

“I bet you’ve got all sorts of spells that you could have used to overpower me and make a break for it. I’ll be completely honest; I’m not the most talented unicorn around. I’ve only got basic telekinetic ability and of course my special talent,” the stallion continued. Twilight’s cheeks flushed crimson from a mixture of embarrassment and irritation. “So tell me, why didn’t you try to escape?”

“I- I don’t know,” Twilight admitted, finally finding her voice.

“I do,” the stallion said. “Whether you were aware of it or not, you couldn’t do a thing to me.” To Twilight’s surprise, he removed the blade from her neck and strode directly into her field of vision as he sheathed it beneath his black cloak. With a flick of his neck, the stallion threw off his hood and revealed himself to Twilight.

The unicorn stallion seemed vaguely familiar to Twilight. He had a sapphire-blue coat that had a slight sheen to it in the mid-afternoon sunlight. His silver-white mane was cut relatively short and styled so that it was spiked forward but not in a way that it hid his amethyst-colored eyes. The black cloak he wore concealed the majority of his body, so Twilight wasn’t able to see what his cutie mark was or if he was hiding any other weapons underneath it.

Twilight locked eyes with the stallion after giving his appearance a quick glance over and shot the fiercest glare she could muster at him, but all she accomplished was earning a small chuckle from him. “Please, Miss Twilight, anger doesn’t become you.”

“Then maybe you shouldn’t be threatening to kill me,” Twilight retorted. “What do you want exactly?”

“To introduce myself,” the stallion replied as though it should have been obvious. He surprised her by giving her a bow. “The name’s Mist Weaver. Princess Celestia has assigned me to be your personal guard until the situation with the Black Hoof is resolved.”

Twilight’s eyes went wide and her mouth dropped open. “Huh?”

Mist Weaver sighed. “I said ‘Princess Celestia has assigned’-”

“No, I heard you the first time,” Twilight said, quickly cutting him off. “What I meant to say was what are you doing putting a knife to my throat if you’re supposed to be my guard? And why didn’t the Princess mention you when I spoke with her? How do I know you’re not lying to me? You did kill the guards you know.” The lavender unicorn pointed her hoof at the bloodstained bodies of the pegasi guards that were supposed to take her back to Ponyville while glaring accusingly at Mist Weaver, assuming that was his real name.

The stallion in question let out another chuckle, the kind somepony would when they were privy to knowledge that others weren’t. “Why in Equestria would I attack the Royal Guard?” He asked as his horn lit up with a faint blue light. “That would be incredibly stupid and is a pretty showy way to get one noticed, wouldn’t you agree. Allow me to shed some light on this little scene.” The air around the two of them began to shimmer, vaguely reminding Twilight of the streets in Canterlot on a hot summer day when waves of heat rising off of the stone streets would become visible and distort the scenery slightly.
The shimmering of the air around them intensified until it distorted everything around the two unicorns. Colors blended together, rapidly becoming a swirl of prismatic chaos until it suddenly came to an end, and the world seemed to return to normal. Once again, Twilight felt her jaw drop open in surprise, much to Mist Weaver’s amusement. Instead of standing in the Canterlot Castle courtyard like she had thought, Twilight found herself standing in the heart of the bustling Canterlot Central Station as countless other ponies rushed around to reach their trains before they could depart.

It took her a few moments for the shock of the sudden change in scenery to wear off, but when it did, she immediately rounded on Mist Weaver, preparing to demand the answers to the hundreds of questions she had forming in her mind. However, her voice refused to cooperate with the rapid turning of the wheels in her head and all that came out was “What did-? How’d you-? When-? Huh?”

Mist let out a chuckle and motioned with his head for Twilight to follow him. “I’ll tell you everything you’ll want to know on the ride to Ponyville, fair enough?” He began to turn away from her to head towards the platform where the train to Ponyville was now boarding. But before he could take even one step towards his destination, Twilight grabbed hold of him with her front hooves and spun him to face her.

“No,” the lavender unicorn said forcibly. The irritation burning inside her at this confusing situation must’ve shown on her face because she saw Mist visibly flinch as she spoke. “I am not going anywhere with you until you explain what you did back there. Less than five minutes ago, you were holding a knife to my throat and asking me if I was afraid to die!” The volume of her voice was rising rapidly and it was drawing several curious looks from nearby ponies in the crowd.

“We’re just rehearsing a play, everypony. No need to worry,” Mist called out. He waited until the others in the crowd returned to minding their own business before focusing on Twilight again. “Would you keep your voice down? Do you want everypony to hear y-”

“You were threatening to kill me!” Twilight shouted. The confusion and stress that had been rapidly building up ever since the Princess had revealed the intentions of the Black Hoof to her finally manifested as an uncharacteristic flood of anger directed on the stallion. More ponies nearby were stopping to stare at the pair of unicorns.

“Still just rehearsing, folks! Don’t pay us any mind,” Mist called out reassuringly to them, his voice containing a barely audible quiver as he looked into Twilight’s furious gaze. “For the love of Celestia, Twilight, drop the decibels so I can explain myself.”

Twilight’s lip curled back in a low, feral growl. “Then explain yourself,” she demanded. “You claim that the Princess assigned you to be my personal guard, but I had a meeting with her not even twenty minutes ago. Assuming you are telling the truth, tell me why she didn’t tell me about you.”

“Put yourself in the Princess’ position for a moment,” Mist said, still in his hushed tone as his eyes bored directly into Twilight’s. “You found out that your prized pupil and her friends, who also happen to be Equestria’s greatest heroes in over three hundred years, are being targeted by a recently resurfaced group of assassins that haven’t been around for almost a thousand years.

“You don’t know who these assassins might be. You don’t know what talents they possess. You don’t even know if they might be members of your castle staff, always within earshot, and always underhoof. So, you gather a group of talented ponies that you know you can trust because of their history and you secretly assign them to protect your student and her friends at all costs, as well as apprehend the assassins if the opportunity arises.

“But that’s still not enough. You’re still extremely worried. So, you invite your most faithful student to meet with you to explain the situation to her. That small action then makes it harder for the Black Hoof to carry out their goal, because now, one of their targets knows about them and can be on the lookout. But, you can’t tell your student that because of how important she is to you, you’ve assigned your student a personal bodyguard. And that bodyguard then becomes an ace in the hole, a factor the Black Hoof won’t be aware of until it’s too late. And that ace-in-the-hole bodyguard is me.”

Twilight stared silently at Mist for several seconds. A small part of her mind kept wondering why he looked so familiar and she had to keep reminding herself to remain focused as the stallion explained himself and offered up a possible reasoning for the Princess’ lack of mentioning that she would have a personal bodyguard. Assuming Mist was being truthful, of course.

Mist stared back patiently. His eyes never left Twilight’s, as though he were challenging her. Twilight let out a slightly irritated groan. Mist Weaver was right. If she was in the Princess’ place, she would probably act exactly how Mist had just explained the situation. But that didn’t mean it was true. She knew for a fact that she had been in the courtyard of Canterlot Castle moments before, watching two royal guards bleed to death from wounds swiftly dealt to them by the stallion in front of her. With his familiar amethyst colored eyes staring back at her…

Twilight shook her head back and forth to refocus herself. That was the issue. Mist wouldn’t have an explanation for that.

Smirking, and confident she had found the hole in Mist’s reasoning, Twilight posed her next inquiry. “Okay then. Even if your explanation makes sense, that doesn’t explain why you killed those guards or why you put a blade to my throat and threatened to kill me. And it definitely doesn’t explain how we got from the castle to Central Station in the blink of an eye without teleporting.” Mist opened his mouth to respond, but Twilight immediately cut him off before he could so much as exhale. “Don’t try to tell me that it was a different type of teleportation. I’ve studied up on all kinds and that definitely wasn’t teleporting.”

“It wasn’t teleporting,” Mist said simply. “And I didn’t kill those guards."

“Yes you did,” Twilight said. “I saw you do it.”

“You saw what I wanted you to see,” Mist explained. “I had casted a perception manipulation filter over your mind the second you stepped outside of the castle.”

Twilight felt her jaw drop open. He had used a perception manipulation spell on her and she hadn’t even realized it? It had all been an illusion? She couldn’t believe it. Illusion magic was rare and typically used to add a little extra ‘oomph’ to a performance or a celebration. But perception manipulation? That was advanced magic. Extremely advanced magic. It required deceiving a pony’s brain into believing the illusion was reality. In a sense, the caster of the spell could have complete and total control of another and the pony on the receiving end of the spell would be none the wiser.

Mist had a rather cocky smirk on his face as he stared back at Twilight. “Does it make sense now?” He asked. “Remember what I said to you in that illusion? I told you I wasn’t the most talented unicorn out there. I have a basic grasp of telekinetic magic and my special talent.” He reached around to his flank with one of his hooves and pulled back his cloak to show off his cutie mark, a pale blue crescent moon with a star in the middle of the empty space, both partially concealed behind a silver cloud. “My special talent is that I have complete mastery over the school of illusion.”

Twilight felt her mouth drop open yet again. Why did she keep doing that today? It didn’t matter. She simply couldn’t believe that the stallion in front of her had mastered the illusion school of magic. Only seven other ponies across all of recorded history had ever claimed to do so, including Starswirl the Bearded, who had mastered nearly every school of magic during his time, and the equally powerful, though slightly less well known, Marelin.

“You can’t be serious,” the purple-coated mare said in disbelief. “You have to be lying.” Mist Weaver raised his brow at her.
“Challenge accepted,” he said. He tilted his head upwards towards the large, stained glass dome sporting the image of a phoenix in flight that Central Station was best known for. “Take a look up there.” Twilight’s eyes followed his gaze. She stared at the phoenix image for a moment and nearly cried out in shock as the phoenix winked back at her. She watched, transfixed as the phoenix came to life and literally leapt off of the glass and began flying around the station, occasionally letting out a loud screech.

The other ponies in the station, however, seemed completely oblivious to the living work of art soaring and screeching above their heads. Twilight could only stare, absolutely fascinated, as the phoenix caught fire and picked up its speed. It twisted and turned in the air, leaving a lasting trail of flame behind it that formed the words ‘Do you still think I’m lying?’
Mist Weaver grinned smugly at Twilight as she gave him a dumbfounded look. “How come none of the other ponies can see this?” She asked.

“And send the entire station into a panic?” Mist asked. “No thanks. Only you and I can see this little spectacle I’ve created. Not that it really matters, I suppose. We haven’t been in the station for at least twenty minutes.” Twilight’s head whipped around faster than what should’ve been possible.

“What do you mean, ‘we haven’t been in the station for at least twenty minutes’?” She asked, already dreading the stallion’s answer. Mist Weaver simply smiled innocently back at her. “You didn’t.”

High above them, the phoenix turned sharply in the air and dived towards the two unicorns. “I did,” Mist replied in the sweetest tone he could manage. The phoenix impacted around them in an explosion of flame. Twilight cried out in shock and fear, but quickly fell silent as she realized that the flames burning around them had no heat to them. The flames burned themselves out rather quickly, allowing Twilight to take in her new surroundings.

As she had suspected, she was standing in a train car as it made its way towards Ponyville. Mist Weaver was sitting comfortably on one of the nearby bench seats, grinning innocently at her. Twilight sighed in defeat and shot Mist an irritated glare as she went to sit down on the seat opposite of him.

“Is it too much to ask for you to stop doing that?” The young mare asked. “It really messes with my sense of time.”

“Sorry,” Mist said, though he clearly didn’t mean it. “So, do you believe me now?”

“I suppose,” Twilight said. “It’s not like I can really do anything about it now since we’re already on the way back to Ponyville.”

“Exactly,” Mist said still grinning.

Twilight rolled her eyes and turned her attention to the scenery flashing by outside. The two of them sat in silence for several long minutes. Occasionally, she would steal a glance at her companion. She found it very hard to shake the feeling that she had met him before. He looked so familiar…

She nearly leapt out of her skin as Mist levitated a scroll in front of her face without any verbal warning whatsoever. Twilight gave him a confused look and he simply tilted his head in the direction of the scroll in response to her unspoken question. Twilight’s horn lit up with a faint, purple-red light as she took the scroll from Mist’s telekinetic grasp and opened it.

To my faithful student Twilight Sparkle,

If you are reading this, then I am assuming you have met Mist Weaver. As I’m sure he has explained by now, I have assigned him to be your personal bodyguard until this matter with the Black Hoof is resolved. I do hope you’ll forgive me for not telling you about him when we meet later today, but I don’t want the Black Hoof finding out that you have a personal guard.

I’m even writing this letter in my private bath chambers, far from the prying eyes of the castle staff.

I’m sure you might be a bit mistrusting of Mist Weaver at first, especially if he actually does show off his talent for illusions on you like he suggested he might. But I assure you, he is a trustworthy pony who has proven himself on more than one occasion. As such, I am also leaving him in charge of the other ponies I have sent to Ponyville to help protect you and your friends from the Black Hoof.

I trust in his judgment. I hope you can do the same. It would break my heart if anything happened to you or your friends, Twilight. So please remain safe and ever vigilant.

And remember, the sun will never set on the quest for knowledge, so long as somepony still pursues all there is to find.


Princess Celestia

Twilight stared at the last line the Princess had written. ‘The sun will never set on the quest for knowledge, so long as somepony still pursues all there is to find.’ That line was the secret code Twilight had come up with as a joke several years ago when she was still a little filly just beginning her life as Celestia’s personal student. And it meant that it really was the Princess who had written this letter. She had never shared that secret code with anypony else, not even Spike.

She rolled the letter back into a scroll and sealed it with a quick spell before looking up at Mist. The blue-coated unicorn was staring out of the window, his expression seemingly distant as though his mind was elsewhere. Twilight watched him for a moment, and let out a soft gasp as Mist turned his head slightly, revealing a bright red scar that ran from the underside of his left ear down to the base of his jaw.

Mist turned as he heard Twilight gasp. “What?”

“Your scar,” Twilight said, pointing at the side of Mist’s head with her hoof. “What happened to you?”

“Asking for my back-story, huh?” the stallion asked with a chuckle. “I thought you didn’t trust me.”

“The Princess seems to trust you,” Twilight said with a small shrug, sparing the letter Mist had given her a quick glance. “That’s enough for me to at least give you a chance. But don’t get me wrong. I’m still not happy that you used your illusions on me twice already.”

“It won’t happen again,” Mist promised. “So, you want to know how I got my scar?” Twilight nodded. “Alright then. Well… where should I start? I was born in Marekarth and grew up there until one of the silver mines collapsed. My father was buried under the rubble and my mother had been seriously ill for almost a year. When his body was finally found… she didn’t have the will to keep fighting the sickness anymore. That was almost three years ago.” The stallion hung his head slightly, his brow furrowed as he recalled the loss of his parents.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Twilight said. She couldn’t imagine what it must be like to lose ones parents at such a young age. Mist gave her a half smile.

“Thanks,” he said. His horn lit up and he levitated a small photograph out from underneath his cloak and floated it over to Twilight. “This is them. It was taken the year before the mine collapse.” The image showed a small family of four ponies standing in front the gates of Canterlot, clearly on vacation. Mist was standing in the forefront of the picture, looking slightly bored. His mother, a beautiful pegasus mare with a cream colored coat and a flowing red mane, was laughing and leaning against Mist’s father, a powerfully built earth stallion with an emerald green coat. Standing to Mist Weaver’s left in the photo, was a unicorn mare that looked to be nearly identical to Mist, only her coat was a lighter shade of blue and her silver-white mane was longer, with a slight flip at the end of the bangs that hung slightly over one eye. She had an expression on her face that clearly showed she didn’t want to be in the photograph, possibly even with her family at the moment.

Twilight’s eyes nearly bugged out of her head as she immediately realized why she had been thinking that Mist looked familiar. It was because she had met the light blue mare in the picture before under less than pleasant circumstances. She looked up from the picture to stare in shock at Mist. He couldn’t be related to her… could he?

The stallion had a confused look on his face as he watched Twilight’s facial expressions change rapidly from confused, to slightly irritated, and finally to shock as she looked away from the photo to stare back at him.

“Is something wrong?” Mist asked. Twilight took a moment to respond, and only shook her head when she did. Mist raised his brow at her, still confused.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” Twilight said, feeling very nervous about what Mist’s answer would be, “who is the other unicorn?” Please don’t let it be who I think it is. Please don’t let it be who I think it is…

“Oh, that’s my twin sister,” Mist said, releasing his pent up breath. For some reason, he was worried Twilight was going to ask something worse. Possibly something along the lines of ‘Have you ever killed anypony?’ That was a discussion he wasn’t ready to have with her, especially since he had the impression she only trusted him because the Princess did. The last thing he wanted to do was scare off his ward and lose his job because of his past.

“I see,” Twilight said, seemingly deep in thought. “What’s her name?”

Mist smirked as he stared at the picture. “Trixie.”

-Broken Silence-

And... cliffhanger! My specialty!

Yes, Marekarth is a play on Markarth from Skyrim, and yes, I will be elaborating on it in future. But for now...

I'm off! With luck, chapter four will be out in a week or two at most. At least my writer's block has died and all it depends on now is how much downtime I can find to write.