Eternal Equinox: A Vinyl-Verse Story

by Commando-Scarecrow

First published

Imagine a world where Vinyl Scratch will weild the element of harmony. This is it.

"Once upon a time, in the magical land of Equestria, there were two regal sisters who ruled together and created harmony for all the land. To do this, the eldest sister used her unicorn powers to raise the sun at dawn. The younger brought out the moon to begin the night. Thus, the two sisters maintained balance for their kingdom and their subjects: all the different types of ponies.

"But as time went on, the two sisters grew greedy and covetous of their neighbors to the north. The Crystal Empire stood ready to defend themselves, but even their prince, noble and kind, could not contend with their power. On the fateful day they turned on their once friend, they became the ultimate perversions of their former selves. The elder sister became Solaria Dawn, herald of light and hate, and the younger became Night Mare Moon, harbinger of darkness and fear.

"Reluctantly, the noble prince delved into the darkness and found the forbidden powers needed to save his empire from certain doom. With the might of the shadows, combined with the mystical strength of the crystal heart and the elements of harmony, he was able to defeat his former friends and bring peace to all of Equestria, bearing the responsibility of both sun and moon. Harmony and peace once again fell upon the lands.

"One thousand years has passed since that time..."

Chapter One: Epic Train Time

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"Stop it." Sapphire Star, a blue-violet crystal pony stated plainly to her charge in their passenger room on the train. She had golden eyes and a quill pen and paper cutie mark. She was a reletively small mare. Maybe a a whole two inches shorter than Vinyl Scratch herself.

"Alright," Vinyl Scratch, a white unicorn musician that had somehow gotten to be King Sombra's personal student, turned off the small flashlight and placing it in her money pouch. She'd brought it to see if shining on a crystal pony would make them glow. As it turns out, it did. It was beautiful. And it had also irritated Sapphire Star to no end. But it wasn't like there had been anything else to do on the train to Ponyville. The trip there was infamously long, after all, and Vinyl had already listened to all the records she'd brought... three times.

"Have you ever been to Ponyville, Miss Vinyl?" The attendant asked, genuinely curious. She'd been sent by her teacher, King Sombra, to keep an eye on the blue maned musician. He knew she had a knack for getting into trouble, so he knew that an attendant would probably be needed.

Vinyl Scratch gave an irritated sigh. "No. And stop calling me 'miss', Saphy. Titles make my skin crawl." It was true. In fact, she made it a point to avoid most duties that the king gave her because it would end up giving her more of a title. She was happy just being a student.

"My apologies, Madam." She was seriously doing this to get back at her for the flashlight thing. Vinyl knew that. But she guessed that that was just the price she had to pay for being allowed to plan one of the biggest bashes of the years. The annual Eternal Equinox festival. As her mind wandered back to the day she was given the position as festival organizer, she looked through the windows of the train and out to the rolling green pastures and trees, just beginning to fully adopt the magnificent golden hues of the fall and remembered being sent to the small town of Ponyville...

My little Pony, my little pony
Ah ah ahh ahh
My little Pony
Never wondered what true friends would be like
My Little pony
Until all my new friends got me so psyched
Dedication, Lots of trust!
Giving all you got, And heads to bust!
Helping others, it's an easy feat!
And magic makes it all complete!
It's my little pony
I just can't believe I have so many new friends!

“Hark!” The King shouted as Vinyl entered his personal study. He’d been spending hours, maybe even days, in there lately, so, naturally, Vinyl was worried about him. “From within my study I dost hearest!” She heard her teacher and king shout as he turned around to meet her, his green eyes meeting hers and his grey coat and raven black mane complimented well by his very regal looking crimson robe. "Pray tell! What dost my young apprentice bringeth her instructor!?"

Vinyl sighed. This was their king… for the last thousand years. But then, she did know how much he loved talking like he was one thousand years old just for kicks. “You called me, your Majesty?”

As he lowered his feather-quill pen on his desk of mahogany, an exceedingly rare wood found only in the forests surrounding the city of Maredrid. He preferred the aesthetic of the old fashioned, and flowing red cloaks and quill pen were just a couple of them. He smiled wryly. “Yes I did my student.” He lifted himself from a scarlet cushion and began to leave the room. “Come, Vinyl. We need to talk.”

The master and apprentice wandered through the beautiful, centuries old alabaster and crystal walls of the palace. It was were Vinyl Scratch had called home for the last 9 of her 17 years, and in those years, King Sombra had only asked Vinyl Scratch to walk with him like that maybe a hoof-full of times. She knew this was going to be serious. “As you are aware, your 18th birthday is arriving.” Of course Vinyl Scratch knew, but she listened on to the thousand-year-old unicorn. “And as you know you’ll be needing to take on more responsibilities.” Then he looked at her, almost through her sunglasses, with a look of fierce joy. “And, as the unofficial princess of the Crystal Empire, I’ll be needing to find you a proper suitor.”

“Wait, what?” Despite hearing off-beat things from her king at least three times a day, this actually took her greatly by surprise. Which was a surprise all in itself.

“How do you feel about that one cellist?”

“Octavia’s not my girlfriend!” Oh great, she thought in her anger. This again.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” He added that on as an afterthought. "I'd still love you as my own even if you were a-"

“For the love of-“ He actually made that assumption a few times while she was his student. Each time she took it even worse. “We’re just friends! Seriously, Old Colt, I even tried to hook her up with that violinist once!” It didn’t work out that well, but it wasn’t Vinyl’s fault that Octavia had crazy high standards. But, then, the cyan and cobalt maned musician really wasn't sure it would work out anyway. At that point she was just spit-balling to see if Octavia would put some effort into a relationship with somepony else. She still cared more about her career more. "I don't even like mares that way!"

Half the time she thought he did that just to have fun with her. As he once told her, being king is an extremely boring job. He got his laughs from whoever he could. And as luck, or bad luck in Vinyl’s case, would have it, she was always his closest target. “But I digress. That is not really what wanted to talk to you about.”

“Grr,” Vinyl let out a low and agitated growl at her teacher. Yes, this was her king and teacher. And this wasn’t the first time she wondered how the in the hay he got the job in the first place. Never mind how he saved the world from Solaria Dawn and Night Mare Moon a thousand years ago.

“What I really wanted to talk to you about was the Great Eternal Equinox Festival.” The Eternal Equinox, celebrating the equality of the night and day, was one of the biggest bashes of the year, rivaled only by the Grand Galloping Gala. Then he jabbed his hoof into her chest. “And I want YOU to be the one in charge of everything going flawless.”

“SWEET!” Vinyl Scratch said that entirely by reflex, along with hugging her teacher. He smelled like smoke, but not bad smoke. More like the scent of a warm fire in a place that was familiar and comfortable. She could barely even contain her joy in the long white hallway, which King Sombra responded with a warm smile. “I won’t let you down, your Majesty!” This was the biggest thing he’d ever trusted her with. Even bigger than letting her plan the Grand Galloping Gala a few years ago... that actually ended in disaster. So she really meant it when she said she wouldn't let the old colt down.

"Now the only stipulation is, Vinyl," the king had told her very sternly. It didn't matter. Absolutely nothing could ruin this moment. "Is that you may not, under any circumstances, perform as the entertainment."

"Oh come on!" She was wrong, something did ruin the moment, and Vinyl Scratch didn't take it well, but she did take it. She had to. King Sombra was busy in his study all the time lately doing Galaxia knows what, so he really didn't have the time to take the long, and boring, trip to Ponyville and iron out all the details for the Eternal Equinox Festival. There, Vinyl was supposed to find out how everything was going. From entertainment, to food and to the decor. It was all Vinyl Scratches problem, or opportunity, depending on how a pony looked at it. Maybe her teacher thought it was a good way for her to learn some responsibility. Or maybe he just needed some alone time. He always did get kind of moody this time of year.

But then Vinyl had a question to ask. Since her 18th birthday was coming up, she maybe thought it was a good idea to get this out of the way. It had actually been on her mind a lot lately. “There was something I wanted to ask, actually.”

“Hmm”? King Sombra raised one his black eyebrows at his pupil. “Yes? What is it, Vinyl?”

“Well,” Vinyl Scratch looked to the floor, not really sure about how to proceed with this, so she figured she would just go ahead and ask him. “Why me?”

“What do you mean?” She had a feeling that he knew exactly what she was talking about, but he always wanted things clear for him to see. Which was kind of ironic, given he could turn into a living cloud of shadow anytime he wanted to. He just usually didn't want to.

“Why did you choose me to be your student?” Her eyes begged him for an answer, even though every time she'd asked, he side stepped ti completely. “Why did you pick me up off the street, a seven year old musician from the streets, and choose me to be your student? You could have chosen anypony else. You could have even had somepony with a special skill actually IN magic.” Vinyl knew they existed. She'd never seen one, but if being the student of a living smoke cloud taught her anything, it was to always have an open mind about things you don't have a clear picture on. Because if it turns out you're wrong, it can and will end up biting you in the flank.

He only gave her an all knowing smile. “The reason for my choice will become obvious given time. Trust me on that.” He had so much faith in her. “I know what I’m doing. Remember, I don’t just wear this crown on my head to keep my head warm… although it is nice to have it on during the winter time.” The white unicorn chuckled a little bit at her king’s joke. Still, she couldn’t help but wonder why he chose her and not somepony with more potential.


"Any idea how far away we are, Saphy?" That was more or less Vinyl's pet name for her personal attendant. It was also about as close as they got, actually. They'd known each other for a few years, but she'd always declined Vinyl's offer for friendship. "Because I am so freaking bored out of my gourde over here." She rested her head on her arm, watching the veritable colors of fall, from amber to gold and red, fly into the wind passed the train.

"I believe the train should be stopping any minute now, Madam," that time she said it with small smile on her face. "Have you any ideas of what the festivities will hold?"

That was a good question, actually. Vinyl really hadn't taken the time to think about it. "Dunno." Then she got to thinking about it a little more in depth. "I have a friend that lives over there in town, so maybe I'll help her out and give her a little extra publicity." She was talking about her gray earth pony friend, Octavia. The two had known each other for almost as long as Vinyl had been the king’s personal apprentice. They even went to the Crystal Imperial Academy of the Arts as fillies. Vinyl had even set her up with her first boyfriend. That... could have gone better. But hey, live and learn, right?

"That would be an excellent idea, Madam," Scratch could easily see past her maid's sycophantic facade.

"Stop kissing up, Saphy..." Vinyl bluntly stated almost by reflex. She had a feeling that responsibility wasn't the only reason she was sent down here to set up everything for the Fall Equinox Festival. In the days before she actually left the Empire, King Sombra had been telling her that she needed to make more friends. Which struck Vinyl Scratch as odd because, as a DJ in her day job, she had plenty of friends. Dozens, maybe even over a hundred of them. But she could use the vacation. And Vinyl Scratch always did love party planning. "You're not good at it."

"I'm sorry, Madam." There again with the madam.

"Saphy!" This was getting ridiculous. "Call me madam again!" The white unicorn was getting visibly irritated by her off-blue traveling companion now. "See what happens!" She dared her attendant.

But she didn't take the threat seriously. In fact, the crystal pony was now wearing an ear-to-ear grin on her face, her golden eyes beaming with laughter that she herself was expertly resisting to release. "Of course. Please forgive me, Madam."

Vinyl Scratch glared at her attendant with a look that appeared to be made up of one half vat-of-boiling acid, and one half of sheer animosity. Then she broke into a small smile. "You're alright, Saphy." Her grin widened as she realized that there might be hope for her yet. "You're alright." Then she felt something that came as a very welcome relief. Vinyl and her attendant felt the train slowly break into the station. “Finally!” It took a whole day, and a very boring traveling companion, but they were finally here. “C’mon, Saphy!” She grabbed her maid by the arm, running towards the door, only to find that something was off. There were trees, sure, but it was nothing like what Octavia had told her. In fact, it looked more like one of those “old-westy” towns she’d heard about in her some of her records more than anything. “Wait a sec…” She turned to the nearest guy that worked on the train. “Hey, guy! Where are we?”

A golden earth-pony with green eyes looked back at her. “Why, ma’am, ya’ll are in the great town of Appleoosa!” It almost sounded like he said that last part with a whinny. Apparently, he was proud enough of this town to do that.

Rage built up in Vinyl Scratch’s veins as she felt her blood boil. “And how long until we get to Ponyville?” She did her best to be polite to the train worker. It wasn’t his fault that this was the train to Appleoosa.

“Why, that’s where we’re headed as soon as this stop is over and done with, ma’am!” Then he turned down the excitement. Good, Vinyl thought. She was all for optimism, but getting stopped here had put her in kind of a bad mood.

“Well, how long until the train gets back to moving?” She asked him, still expertly executing her best polite face in spite of her anger.

Then he smirked at her, taking out a small pocket watch with the emblem of an apple on it. What was he doing? “Why, it should start right… about… now!” The train suddenly jolted, causing Vinyl and Sapphire Star to fall over. “But the trip will still take another day, or so.” He began to walk off into the next box car. “Y’all might as well make yerselves nice and comfy here.”

“Allow me, Madam,” Sapphire Star said as she tried to help up her charge as they watched the train colt leave. Vinyl Scratch gratefully accepted her help and watched as the train moved past the myriad apple trees that dotted the rustic and dusty landscape of the frontier town.

“Thanks, Saphy,” She sighed in irritation at what just happened, so much so that she even ignored Sapphire Star calling her madam. Well, she thought to herself. There’s no helping it now. “I’m gonna go get a bite to eat.” She walked off to the food car, turning to her sort-of-friend without even realizing it. “You want; I could get you something while I’m there.”

She shook her head no at her charges offer,” No thank you, Miss. I’d brought my own lunch for the trip here.” She said that with an amused smile.

"Well the offers still open if you-" Wait a sec… she knew something. “Sapphy…” Viynl's voice went eery calm, which almost never happened. “Did you know that this train was going to stop at Appleoosa before Ponyville?”

Now the blue-violet pony was wearing her Cheshire grin yet again. “Why, of course not, Miss Vinyl. And of course I didn’t know that this trip would take an additional whole 17 hours, with which your teacher, King Sombra, told me to force you into your studies which you have been slacking off on for the past week or so, making this an opportune moment for you catch up on all of them,” Vinyl Scratch sighed. So it came to this, eh? It would explain why they were headed to Ponyville a whole three days before the Autumn Equinox Festival. “That would simply be preposterous, Miss Vinyl.”

With one last sigh, Vinyl Scratch surrendered to her teachers “not-commands” to make her study while on the trip here. “Alright, Saphy, I get the idea.” She made her way to the food car. “Just lemme get a bite to eat, and I’ll be right there.” So she made her way to the food cart, choosing to order a little something extravagant for all her troubles. She went for a carrot burger with apple bacon. The lunch of champions. While Vinyl thrived in the chaos as much as any occupational DJ did, she couldn’t help but think that this was just the beginning of all her head-aches. “Well,” mumbled under her breath, taking a drink of her sparkling cider, one of the few luxuries she actually went out of her way to enjoy, “only thing I gots to say to that is ‘bring it on’.”

Oh look. A Broken Turn-Table

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King Sombra of the Equestrian Crystal Empire walked through the darkened and hallowed halls of his ancient crystal palace, the moon light illuminating the walls and stained glass windows and eliminating any practical need for a lantern or torch. If he was right, and he usually was, then the shadow king’s student was either asleep on her intentionally extended trip to Ponyville, or studying and wishing she was asleep. Either way, Sapphire Star was no doubt doing her job well.

The ancient regent of Equestria walked through the halls as he couldn’t sleep. There had been a lot on his mind lately, most of it concerning the Autumn Equinox. He doubted sending Vinyl to prepare Ponyville for the Autumn Equinox Festival would end up as badly as when she entertained for the Grand Gallaping Gala a few years ago. He didn't even know sparkling cider was flammable. But sleeping had often eluded the great leader of ponies, so, as he always did, he decided to take a midnight stroll through his gardens.

He went ahead and left his thick, crimson robe in his quarters, alog with the silver armor he wore on a day to day basis. It wasn’t really that cold, but mostly he just didn’t feel like wearing it for whatever reason. As he past guard after guard of every tribe, earth, crystal, unicorn, and pegasus, he tried to save all the thoughts he wanted to ponder for when passed through the large marehogany threshold and into the serenity of his royal gardens.

Finally, after nearly two minutes of walking, he was rewarded by an almost full harvest moon shining its silver light upon the blue roses. Supposedly, the garden was legendary in its beauty. It was allegedly seeded and designed by the greatest of all architects, Marble Column, and was planted 1,000 years ago to “celebrate” his victory against the dreaded Solaria Dawn and Night Mare Moon. It wasn’t NEARLY the simple. In fact, it was nearly the exact opposite. He planned and planted the garden himself and, although it WAS 1,000 years old, its beauty was hardly the stuff of legends. In fact, all it had been was a few dozen blue rose bushes King Sombra had planted in his spare time and a marble statue that was carved for him and his two dearest friends just before they turned. Although it still caused him a great deal of pain to even be in its presence, he still basked in its simple beauty if only for one reason: never forget.

They were his best friends, and he had to betray and seal them away within their own duties, the sun and moon, for a full millennium. He hated himself for what he did to them, he truly did, but he had no choice. He had to be the hero his empire NEEDED, not the hero he wanted to be. “I had no choice…” He muttered to himself. He always muttered that to himself as he saw his monstrous reflection in the mirror. Really, he could have changed his form anytime he wanted to, being a creature of shadows and smoke. He just didn’t want to. At this point, even he wasn't sure whether or not it was out of penance of betraying Luna and Celestia and taking their country as his own or just to show his subjects his true form as it really was. Although he preferred to think the latter.

But even among his indigo roses, he knew these thoughts wouldn’t go anywhere useful beyond hurting himself and bringing up more painful memories, so instead he thought about something that usually brought him joy. He smiled as remembered the first time he met his student, Vinyl Scratch.

The day was like any other. His court wasn't meeting, so he didn't have to veto, or counter-veto or command or belay anything. And although he had a royal guard, led by the Sir Blueblüd II, he really was quite capable of taking care of himself. But that particular day, he felt like seeing his empire as it really was, and without the illusions that the simpering politicians and sycophants presented it to him as. Almost on a whim, he decided to go to Gateesburg, although he wasn't quite sure why at the time. And so, if only to tickle the king's fancy, he flew out the nearest window as a shade of smoke blacker than the darkest night.

As he finally made touch down back to the earth, he willed himself to appear as nothing more than a grey colt of no older than 40, a small contrast to his usual guise as a vigorous 30, in a nice black suit with an almost silver colored shirt. His smoke going in seamlessly within his body, he walked through a torrential rain that had been scheduled by the local weather ponies. Strange, he thought. I didn’t think a storm was scheduled for today. But then, as much as everypony in his empire would like to believe, he didn't know everything. And so he walked among his people, seeing little else than the hurried lives of ponies of each tribe, with the exception of perhaps crystal ponies. Even as their king for a thousand years, King Sombra found it hard to tell them apart from normal earth-ponies. He would have feel bad about it, too, if most everypony in his court didn't have the same problem.

That was when he saw her. A small white filly with a musical eighth note as her cutie mark and two different shades of blue, cyan and cobalt, streaked in her mane and red-violet eyes, barely hidden by a pair of badly damaged and cracked sunglasses that were more than likely dug out from the trash and filth. He stopped, pondering why she was at a turn-table in the middle an ally in this deluge, struggling to make her instrument of choice work for her. Nopony else in the city even stopped to give the small foal a second look, either too busy or just not caring for a small girl that may have very well been homeless. Shameful.

And then the most peculiar thing to happen in years appeared within the shadow king's head. A wild and outlandish thought began to ruminate. With a wily grin, he approached the small girl. “There something I can help you with, Old Colt?!” Her voice was high-pitched and full of attitude. Obviously, he thought, she was a street rat.

The plot of insanity began to develop in earnest as he continued to scan over the tiny unicorn child, from her mane to horn to her tail. “That remains to be seen," he answered cryptically to his mysterious prospect.

“Whatever,” she dismissed the king as though he was anypony else. Granted, that was precisely why he went on these impromptu trips. So as to be ignored by his subjects and to see his empire for himself and to reward the kind and punish those who deserved it. The child continued to fiddle with the wiring within her turn-table, while at the same time guarding the one record she had with her only piece of clothing, a green coat that hardly seemed to match up with her own natural colors of blue and white.

“Very interesting”, he muttered to himself as he left her alone in the wet cold. This trip would take longer than he thought. So he sent a letter to another small filly that had been training to be an attendant for another noble colt. Express delivery. As king, it wasn’t like he was ever short on money. It read of how he would not be in the capitol for the next few days. The court will have a conniption over it, sure, but those who couldn’t get along without him deserved the hassle. And those who could get along without him would be fine.

The very next day, while it was still raining, King Sombra went to the very same spot that he found the young unicorn before. Lo and behold, there she was, still trying to fix her turn-table and still caring more about that record than her own freezing hide. Then she looked up to him, showing surprise for only a split second before she mouthed off again. “You again?!” Still high-pitched and still full of the same spunk as it had been yesterday, the king thought to himself.

The shadowed unicorn smiled. “Me again.” he echoed her as knelt over to the white foal, curious of her actions. “What is it you do here, Child?”

She didn't even bother to meet his stare. “I make music on a turn-table! What the hay it look like?!” She answered that almost as an insult. “Why do you care?!”

King Sombra casually shrugged. “I suppose you might be able to say that I’m a music lover.” Not really a lie. King Sombra loved music in almost all its forms, but loving music really wasn't why he was here. He took out his money pouch and used his deep violet telekinesis to front her a golden 20 bit piece. “Could you perhaps play an old colt a song?”

She scoffed at her king, still having no idea who he really was. “Take you money back,” she said with a grunt as she continued to try and fix her device. “The dang thing’s busted.” Then the small girl took on a sad voice, mumbling as if she didn't want the king to hear her. “Always has been.”

King Sombra pushed the bit piece closer to the small mare. “Keep it. You look like you could use a bite to eat.”

Then she did the remarkable. She used her telekinesis to throw the coin at the royal colt’s royal head, leaving a small red spot where the impact had been made. “I don’t need your charity!”

It barely hurt, but King Sombra was reeling more from the shock that that actually happened, rather than the pain it brought him. “Is that right?” He asked, not really expecting an answer.

“Yeah!” She seemed to shout at an even higher octave than he thought a small filly could. “It is! You wanna make something of it, Old Colt?!" She shot him a glare from behind her mangled shades.

“No child," he answered with a smile and a chuckle, "I think that will be all.", so he left again. And he went to the post-office to send a letter to local weather pony station, on official parchment and everything. He even placed his own royal seal of a windigo and crystal tower on the royal letter, saying to extend the storm by just one more day. The regional weather ponies might be irked by it, or even genuinely hacked off at it, but they could hardly refuse an express order from their king, after all. He was the boss of everything. Except the griffons. And the dragons.

The next day, the king of the empire left his hotel room for one last time to see if the white foal was still there. And, to much a lesser surprise than his second day in the city of Gateesburg, he found the filly still in the rained out alley, soaking wet and still valuing her record more than herself. And she was yet again trying to fix her turn-table.

Seeing his green and red eyes, the foal sighed deeply. “What do you want, Old Colt?!” He honestly wasn’t sure whether or not she just had a loud voice, or she was yelling on purpose. Not like it mattered anymore. His mind was made up. “Can’t you see I’m busy?!”

King Sombra smiled warmly at the girl. “What’s your name, Child?”

She seemed almost shocked to have somepony ask her that. Like nopony really cared enough about her to ask her that. “My name is Vinyl Scratch! And I’m a DJ!” Then almost as an afterthought in the cold rain, she added something else. “And you’re driving away all my customers!”

He wanted to ask “What customers?” but he didn’t. He was here for a totally different reason than to egg on a street musician with a busted up instrument. “Well, Miss Vinyl-“

“Don’t call me “Miss”!” she cut him off. That settles it, King Sombra thought silently as he looked over an interesting prospect for the last time before he made his decision. “I'm not old like you!” Adorable.

“Alright,” he started over, agreeing with her. It wasn’t like he was going to give her much choice in this, but he still preferred to be polite about it. “Well then, Vinyl.” He knelt over closer to her, meeting her brilliant reddish eyes with his green. At first she staggered back, afraid of the dual colors in his eyes. “What if I told you I can take you out of here and bring you to a great big castle to live as a princess?”

“Hmph,” she scoffed at him again. Apparently she didn’t believe him. “I’ve had friends fall for that line before! Never saw them again is what happened!”

He knew what she was talking about, and it made his blood boil to even think that there were those who would do such to children. But he wasn’t here to help them. He was here to help her. “Is there nothing I can do to make you come with me?” He could have forced her if he wanted to, being the king and all. But he would've preferred it if it didn't come to that.

Then she thought for a minute, pondering what the ancient king of shadows asked her. It took maybe a minute, but finally, she thought of something. “If you can fix this thing, I’ll do whatever you want.” She didn’t shout it that time. So maybe he really was getting to her. It at least meant she had an indoor voice.

King Sombra took on a Cheshire smile of kingly proportions. “Well, alright then.” He lifted up her turn-table and closely began to examine the damaged wiring within. Myriad parts were missing and a great deal of the wires were either torn up or torn out, but he was able to make do with what he had just fine. Old trash that had shared the alley's space with the two went into the turn-table, repairing the capturing the youth's wonder and imagination. For her, it must have been quite a show. Finally, after only thirty seconds, he set the device down in front of the small foal, good as new. “How’s that.”

Suspicious of his actions, she slowly set her one record on the turn-table, powering it on without a hitch. Then she began scratching the record, performing a kind of music that was totally alien to his Majesty, even at his age. She turned to glare at him. “You cheated!" He could see her fighting back the tears of joy. Good. Even if she didn't know how to say it yet, he could tell she wanted to say thank you.

Still bearing a wily eyed grin, he began to lay things down for the young unicorn. “I believe you are to come with me, as the agreement stipulated, Vinyl Scratch.” So he picked her with his off-purple magical aura, but she accepted it without struggle. The insane plan continued to form within his head.

She seemed genuinely scared now, totally unsure what was going to happen to her with the great king that stood in front of her. "Is it true?" She stumbled and stammered over her words, showing her nervousness and still no doubt afraid of the grey stallion and his intentions. "Do you... do you really live in a big castle?"

He released her from his magic and rested her on his back, choosing to take the turn-table and record with him as he traded his smirk for a warm smile. "Vinyl?" His answer to her began to inspire her faith in him, "My castle is the biggest in the whole, wide world." He could see the hope that beamed and glowed within in her eyes as it began to replace the fear and uncertainty. With good reason, Sombra offered himself. Being taken to live in a castle was every fillies dream.

"Trust me." She grabbed his neck, finally believing in his words and feeling the warmth of his raven black mane. An emotion that had long since eluded her began to have some meaning again: hope. He’d found a treasure today, whether that treasure knew it or not.

A Den of Theives

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"Finally!" The white unicorn in sunglasses shouted out as she left the train behind her, her black suitcase trailing behind her while enveloped in a blue aura. She stretched out her legs, then her arms, then her neck, and then somehow all three at once without falling. Then she took a good look at the town that would be her home for the next two days. It seemed rustic, although not nearly as much as Appleoosa. In fact, Vinyl Scratch kind of digged the place. It seemed easy to live in and easy to enjoy. The buildings didn't look too crowded together and they all had a jovial and happy appearance about them. There wasn't a building over three stories high and almost none of them deviated from a classic wooden design. In fact, it looked like only a handful of them had any bricks at all. The residence also seemed friendly. Real friendly, not "kiss-up" friendly. And the best part was that there weren't any servants around, which was nice. Vinyl Scratch always made it a point to get her own stuff around the castle back home. It seemed like the type of town were everypony knew everypony. I mean, she began to explain to herself, I still got Saphy here, but she's not really a servant. More like a traveling companion that's gonna make me do my homework if I try to slack off. "Goodbye train, and hello PONYVILLE!" She shouted that last part almost totally by mistake, drawing the attention of a few bystanders."Heh heh..." The royal protégé blushed a little.

"Miss Vinyl?" Vinyl didn't even care about the "miss" thing that Sapphire Star kept throwing at her. The unicorn just figured that she's better get used to it, because it probably wasn't going anywhere any time soon.

The DJ turned around, not really expecting what to see when she did. "What is it- WHOA!" the young mare looked to see her attendant stumbling out of the train, barely keeping her balance from all six cases of luggage she was carrying in her arms. "You ah... you need any help there, Saphy?"

"I would very much appreciate it, Miss Vinyl," she grunted as she very slowly and very carefully made her way off the train and onto the train terminal. "This is all quite heavy, after all, and I'm sure his majesty wouldn't appreciate all your studies falling to the earth to be tramp- Gah!" She fell backward, losing her balance, from the balcony and onto a different set of tracks than the ones the two companions were brought in on... as a train was coming.

As she gathered her wits, she saw a locomotive headed straight for her. "SAPHY!" Vinyl Scratch shouted as her maid was about to get killed by the great vehicle. Her pink mane fell apart and she soon followed it. Even in this happy little town, it looked like tragedies would always happen eventually, and even as the crystal pony scrambled to escape her early demise, she knew it was too late. As time began to stand still, they both realized that it was too late.

Suddenly, a red flash. In the instant between the moments, a great red stallion, almost twice the size of any normal colt, appeared out of almost nowhere to rescue the young mare from a certain and gruesome death. He jumped over the tracks, completely ignoring the various books that scattered the area, his mane like a golden blur in the sunshine. Throwing her on his back, he quickly leapt from the tracks, beating the train by mere seconds and, in a single bound, made it to the terminal only a few feet from Vinyl Scratch, forever earning him the gratitude of Sapphire Star.

As her scarlet savior set her down, she couldn't help but look deeply into his apple green eyes and admire his apple blonde hair, complimented flawlessly by his freckles and piece of wheat sticking out of his mouth. She felt her face flush as she found herself noticing, no, straight up STARING at him and his muscles. What's more was that the air that began assailed her senses seemed to reek of apples.

Sapphire Star just found a new favorite fruit.

After what seemed like an eternity of admiring the colt, Sapphire Star finally gathered her senses and spoke up. "Thank you for saving me, Mister..." She fished for a name from the crimson colt, hoping to remember it for later on.

"Big Macintosh," he answered in a ludicrously deep southern accent, again beautifully complementing his frame and form as though he had been carved out of marble by Galaxia herself. "Y'all should be more careful in the future."

"Yes, well," she cleared her throat, evidently trying not to make herself sound like any more of a fool than she already had. "Thank you very much for saving me, Mr. Macintosh. Perhaps someday I can make it up to you." Sapphire Star, feeling her face flush with blood even more, was completely and utterly devastated by her choice of words. Vinyl Scratch, meanwhile, couldn't help but find the whole thing hilarious. It seriously took every single ounce of her will power to bust up in laughter at what her attendant just said to the big guy who just rescued her. She could barely breathe.

"Well, just be careful," he answered plainly, showing that the regrettable choice of words had barely even registered as a blip on his radar. "And we'll start from there." As he left for who know where, Vinyl couldn't help but notice her attendant staring at her rescuer. Specifically his back half. Specifically his plot.

"Ooh," The blue-violet mare sounded off as she admired the great red hued earth-pony known as "Big Macintosh" from afar. She'd never seen anypony like that in all of Crystal Cit-

"Did you seriously just swoon?" Vinyl Scratch, with perfect timing as always, interrupted her keepers thought bearing an ear to ear smile that would rival even King Sombra's infamous grins on his best days.

"N-no!" Blood once again rushed to her face as she lied, terribly, by the way, to her charge.

"Are you sure?" Vinyl kept pressing the issue on her almost-friend. "Because judging by the way you were just staring..." She trailed off, not really intending to finish that accusation. Sapphire Star would take it however she wanted to.

"P-please, Miss Vinyl!" She shouted at the student to the king as she continued to get more and more flustered. "I am above showing such base attractions! I prefer my stallions wise beyond their years and cultured by at least a decade of stu-"

"Hey, Saphy?" Vinyl calmly interrupted her assistant’s rant.

She gave a very irritated sigh. “Yes, Miss Vinyl?”

“You’re sparkling…” Vinyl mused with a fox like grin on her face while watching her friend glow a magnificent blue-violet hue.

"That... That's preposterous!" The more flustered she got, the more she began to stumble over her words. Glowing like that was the tell-tail sign of when a crystal pony was excited or happy about something. It was sort of like what happened with a Pegasus and their wings popping up, only when they did it could have meant any emotion: from anger to happiness to even feeling a bit frisky. For crystal ponies? It was the sure sign of a good time. "As I clearly stated earlier, I am above such-"

"Check your hooves, then." Vinyl smugly requested.

She did what Vinyl told her and took a moment to examine her hooves, then her flank, and then blushed in an even more terrible sense of embarrassment, her blood taking any that might have been remaining in her body and sending all straight to her face. "How long?" Sapphire Star meekly asked her charge, almost afraid of the answer.

"Oh," Vinyl was going to be totally honest with her friend now. "You've been doin' that since just after that red stallion saved you and you got lost in his eyes." And just for good measure... "It was adorable. Your purple glow was all up in his green pupils and everything."

And then she did the impossible. Her face grew even more red. "I want to go home now, Miss Vinyl." She was totally mortified and wanted to die from the embarrassment of what just happened. Not that Vinyl could blame her.

Vinyl held in her laughter for the moment and decided to drop it for now. But there was no way in tartarus that the white unicorn was ever going to let her attendant live this down. It was pure. Comedy. Gold. "Come on then, ya big Swooner," she put her arm around her now deep scarlet faced friend's shoulder. "We still gotta find our place before we see if everything is locked and loaded for the Eternal Equinox Festival."

She heard a sigh from her companion as she obliged. All Vinyl could do was keep smiling. And it wasn't just about the show that Saphy put on with that Big Macintosh guy anymore. All of the books that King Sombra had sent with them had been totally demolished by the impact of the train going at least 88 miles per hour. And that meant that the 17 year old mare didn't have to study any more. The train ate her homework.

The two wander through the small town, their once monumental amount of luggage reduced to just one suitcase, looking for their lodgings. This town is not that big, Vinyl began thinking to herself. Why is it so difficult to find our place? Maybe it was because the map was in one of the cases that had everything else that wasn’t in Vinyl Scratch personal suit case. She sighed and consigned herself to the continued admiration of the village.

But she had to admit. She’d gotten lost in worse places. This Ponyville place is actually kinda nice; she began to ponder silently to herself. I mean, The Crystal Imperial City is nice and all, but all the shiny surfaces sometimes hurt my eyes. Especially around Hearth’s Warming Eve, when everypony was in a good mood. But here, it seemed like everypony was usually in a good mood without the super bright eye-sores. She even saw a nice and old-timey bakery with a descent amount of ponies hanging around there. The sign said Sugercube corner, so naturally she just decided to get a snack. She felt her stomach growl in response to the thought, and so turned to her companion. "Hey, Saphy!"

"Yes, Miss Vinyl?" She stayed close to her charge, being sure not to lose her. In the last nine years, rumor had it that Vinyl Scratch had taken after some of her teacher's more frustrating mannerisms. Like disappearing while nopony was looking to do whatever tickled their fancy at the time. "Was there something you-"

"You hungry?'Cuz there's a bakery right there and I could get us a bite to eat if you want to get som- "The red shaded white unicorn offered her attendant. At least, she did until they both heard a very loud and very threatening voice coming from a rather petit cream colored pony a few yards away.

"AND IF I EVER SEE YOU PICKING ON THEM AGAIN, I WILL TIE YOUR MANES TO YOUR TAILS AND HOIST YOU UP THE FLAG POLE AT CITY HALL!" Vinyl and Sapphire Star just stood there, watching as a rather small creamy coated earth-pony mare with a scarlet mane and rose cutie mark started screaming at the top of her lungs at two tough looking colts, at least they looked like they used to be tough. Right now, it looked more like they were about ready to wet themselves. "DO I MAKE MYSELF PERFECTLY CRYSTAL CLEAR?!"

The two young colts nodded furiously at her threat. They looked like they were close to graduating from school, but they looked like small foals compared to the mare shouting at them A feat made all the more impressive by the fact that she wasn't that big at all. In fact, she looked only about the size of Saphy. "Yes, Ms. Rose Luck!"

"GOOD!" Then she turned around three fillies that were almost as afraid of this "Ms. Rose Luck" as the two colts were. "Now you three," she spoke down to the three small fillies, each without their cutie mark. A yellowish earth-pony with a bright red mane, a pearly white unicorn with pink and violet, and exceptionally well kempt, mane, and an orange pegasus with a violet mane.

The loud mouthed mare began in a softer voice that sounded much more like fresh picked lilacs laid on silk sheets than her shouting would have suggested possible for her to do. "I want you to stay away from those two. I don't want you three getting hurt again, alright?"

"Yes, Ms. Rose Luck." All three of the foals in a cacophonic unison unicorn as Vinyl and Sapphire finally fully understood what happened. A small foal was being picked on by two bigger and older colts, one earth-pony and one unicorn.

The scarlet maned mare gave a warm smile to the foal. "Good. Now run along while I finish up here, okay, sweeties?" As the three Ponyville youths began to run off to play, she hollered one last instruction. "And Sweetie Belle!? I want you to tell your sister or me next time this happens and-HEY!" She turned around to see the two colts running for their lives from what that must have thought was a psycho mare. "I DID NOT EXCUSE YOU!" She turned to a light post, leaving Sapphire and Vinyl Scratch wondering what the hay she was about to do. The two were shocked even more by what happened next. Ms. Rose Luck punched, literally punched, the light post, breaking it from the base with her bare hoof. And then threw it, lobbing it just ahead of the two teenaged colts trying to make their escape, stopping them dead in their tracks.

"SORRY, MS. ROSE LUCK!!" They shouted apologetically at almost getting their lives lost in the blink of an eye. For all they knew, anyway.

"Now then, go home and tell your parents what you did or I will, understand, boys?" Her voice was filled with the context of a not-so-subtle 'try it again, and I will kick your flanks from here to Canterlot. Do you understand me?'

"Yes, Ms. Rose Luck!" They seemed afraid for their lives as they ran off in different directions.

"Those boys will be fine now," the cream colored mare announced to herself with a prideful smile on her face. "They just needed a shove in the right direction."

Vinyl Scratch was the first one to approach her. "What was that about?"

"The two of them were picking on a few fillies that didn't have their cutie marks yet, and I was just letting them know that it's not okay to do that," She smiled, prideful, as the two terrified colts ran for their lives. Then she finally looked at the mare who asked her the question. "You're new here, aren't you?"

A sly smile appeared in the DJ's face. "Yeah, Mare! Name's Vinyl Scratch!"

"That name sounds familiar..." Vinyl Scratch almost wanted to fall over. She didn't like being waited on hoof and hoof, but she still expected most ponies to know who she was. "Do you perform?"

"Yeah, I guess ya could say that," her day job was DJing, after all. Although that wasn't really her claim to fame.

"Well, it's nice to meet you, Vinyl," the rosie maned mare took Vinyl's hoof and shook it. "I'm Rose Luck. My friends call me Lucky. Or Rose. Or Rose Luck. But NOT Rosie. EVER."

Vinyl Scratch senses a story behind that, but decided not to pursue it. "Gotcha, Rosie!" That's for scaring the hay out of us with your shoutin' earlier! Vinyl Scratch could be friends with just about anypony she wanted to. It was only when she wanted to alienate ponies did it actually happen. "King Sombra sent me here to get everything rocked and ready for the Eternal Equinox. Think ya can spare a hoof and help a mare find out where the catering is s'posta be done?"

"I dunno..." Now it was Rose Luck that was smiling slyly. "My memory might be a 'bit' fuzzy..." The con-mare began eyeing Vinyl's money pouch. "It might need some jogging..." And by that she meant 'pay me'.

Vinyl gave out a sigh of irritation. She could take a hint. "How's five bits sound?"

She rubbed her chin giving it some thought. "Not as good as 15... is how it sounds."

With one more sigh, Vinyl used her telekinesis to take out an even 15 bits to the creamy coated scalper. "Now will you tell me?"

Throwing her change up and down in the air like she'd actually accomplished something besides taking the white mare's money, she did what she was paid to do. "There're signs all over town." Throwing her arm around the royal apprentices neck, “Like over there.” Rose Luck pointed to a nearby light post that she didn't break down to see a sign advertising that Sweet Apple Acres was taking care of it. It even had directions and everything. The rosie maned mare removed her arm and began to smugly walk off. "Next time pay attention! You never know what you might find out if you look hard enough!"

The second pony she'd met in this town conned her out of 15 bits. "This party's gettin' crazy," Vinyl mumbled to herself as she watched the con-mare walk off with her eyes closed smugly and a great big smile on her face. Well, she thought. At least I know where to head first. "You get all that, Saphy?" She turned around to see that her partner in crime had gone missing. "Saphy?" She arched her head in every direction, looking through the nearby alleys and such. But she was GONE. Well, she complained to herself. This day just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it? Well, she still didn't have to go studying today, so there was that. At least she knew it couldn't get any worse. Then she felt a certain lightness on her side. Like something was missing. "What the- SHE STOLE MY MONEY POUCH!"