Key Gear

Private Pony Mystery Theater: Exit Trixie, Stage Right.

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@@Dave247,

 

Ambrosia wasn't sure of what else to do. She didn't want to leave and go for help, because she was afraid that the darkness would return. She had only a single glimpse of the strange darkness, but she immediately recalled her earlier conversation with Lapis, in which he had talked about the "killing light". If light could be used as a torture device, then Ambrosia shuddered to think of what darkness could do. If she went for help, there was no telling how long she would be gone. She couldn't leave these ponies at the mercy of some freakish force.

 

Mercifully, the unicorn opened his eyes and stood up before Ambrosia had too much time to dwell on her thoughts. Watching him as he recovered and stood to his hooves, Ambrosia felt just a tiny bit silly. This unicorn was definitely not the same as Dusky. He was a bit shorter and skinnier. He was also gifted with a remarkably friendly expression, even when he was recovering from getting knocked out. She had completely missed all of this in the dim lighting in the parlor. If anything, this unicorn was the opposite of Dusky.

 

She was so distracted with her line of thinking that she didn't quite respond to the unicorn's questions. The mention of coffee snapped her out of her trance though. She was just about to offer to go to the kitchen and make a glass, when she realized that the unicorn was staring straight into her eyes. His stare was uncanny. His eyes were just about the same shade of green as her own. Slightly discomforted, Ambrosia took a step back, but she didn't avert her gaze.

 

When the unicorn finally broke his stare off, Ambrosia looked to see what had attracted his attention. The green colt was carrying the filly off. The colt seemed to be fine enough, and the filly was breathing and looked like she probably just fainted. Ambrosia was very curious to know why the two had broken into Trixie's room and what they hoped to find. However, for the moment, she decided to let them be.

 

Day then looked back at the cook and now with the two of them being alone, felt rather uncomfortable. Every time he looked at her he couldn't help staring into his eyes so he quickly looked away in a different direction. Looking past her he asked "Umm... I'm sorry but I don't know your name..."

Taking a deep breath, she turned back to the strange unicorn, just in time to lock eyes with him again. After a few more awkward moments of the unicorn staring into her eyes and then looking elsewhere, she squinted. She decided to ascribe the pony's strange behavior to his awakening from a daze. When he finally asked for her name, she was relieved. It meant that they wouldn't need to take him to a doctor in Ponyville.

 

She replied. "My name is Ambrosia. I'm the cook on this train. I'm sorry that I didn't reply to you earlier. You were staring. I mean, I guess I might have been as well." She laughed with her trademark carefree laugh, and she changed her demeanor to match the laugh. Ambrosia glanced quickly over her shoulder into the empty room and then back at the unicorn.

 

"If you don't remember what happened, then I won't be much use. I got here just in time to see you light up this room and clear that... Strange darkness." For just a moment, Ambrosia looked thoughtful, but she didn't betray her thoughts by saying them out loud. She still didn't know enough about this unicorn to know whether or not she could trust him. Strange things were happening on this train, and she needed to be certain he could be trusted.

 

Intrinsically, she knew that the unicorn wasn't untrustworthy. As far as she figured, he just seemed to be too nice to be a bad pony, but she wanted to know more. Ambrosia's face assumed a serious expression, and she spoke in a calmly inquisitive tone. "Well, what's your name, friend? And, do you know what those two young ponies were doing in there?"

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------

 

"Excuse me sir, my name is Lapis Lazuli. I do believe I have some questions for you. Perhaps you'd like to accompany me back to my room?"

Dusky didn't move. For at least ten long seconds, he maintained his exact posture and did not acknowledge the pony that was speaking to him in any way. He wasn't purposefully ignoring Lapis. He was simply deep in thought. As he thought, his eyes remained open, but they glimmered strangely with a curious intensity. He stood in the dining car, seemingly completely oblivious to his surroundings. Soon, he started rocking gently from side to side as if rocking himself to sleep.

 

Suddenly, he licked his lips, stopped rocking and turned to look Lapis directly in the eyes. The motion was swift, silent, catlike. Dusky's dark eyes still glimmered. They were strangely dark, even for him. Indeed, they seemed nearly orb-like. He spoke with a soft, sleepy voice that seemed, just vaguely, to be more tired than it normally was. A smile silently made its way across his face. It was a pleasant, respectful smile. However, the smile also seemed vacant, as if Dusky was, literally asleep on his hooves.

 

"Lapis Lazuli? A pleasant name. You have some questions for me? Hmmmm... Really? Well, I suppose I can do my best to answer them. Your room is... Room 1? Hmmm... Yes. I saw you when you boarded the train. Hmmm..." For a brief moment, Dusky's face betrayed his indecision, then he continued. "I... Yes... I think that we should. You know. I have some questions of my own that perhaps you could answer. I like questions. You see, Lapis, I am always in favor of the pursuit of knowledge. Yes. Let's go to your room." He said this, but he did not move.

 

"Well, hello there, you two." Before he could say something unimaginable sarcastic, like, "Fine trip we've had so far, aye," he quickly bit his tongue, only to breathe out heavily, the taste of blood in his mouth. "The, uh, weather's great today." He glanced out the window to approve this statement, before looking back.

Dusky looked out of the window. As the train moved, the scenery passed by at a decent rate of speed. It was nighttime. The weather was indeed great. The sky was clear of all clouds, and the stars twinkled beautifully against the dark tapestry of the sky. To Dusky's eyes, they seemed to dance. With a curious tone in his voice, he answered this newcomer. "Yes, it is such fine weather. Look at Luna's children dancing across the sky. Beautiful. I think."

 

Dusky turned back to Lapis. "Is not the night sky a beautiful thing, Lapis? The stars. Their radiant light muted by distance. Mere specks of dust upon the vast darkness of the night's sky. Yet... So many, and so vibrant. Many a night have I stared at them, questioned myself as to their meaning." Dusky turned back and looked at the darkness outside of the window.

 

His soft, silent voice seemed strangely strong as he continued. "I will tell you what I think. They are a clever mockery of the darkness. During the day, the brightness of the sun is only shrouded in places by shadows crawling on the ground - like worms. However, during the night, the beauty of the darkness is polluted by the light of the myriad stars. Only moonlight should shine in the dark. It is, I think, a better, purer light than the light of the day. It has... A cleansing, ethereal beauty to it. It lacks the ruthless jaggedness of daylight, crushing the shadows without a care as to their nature... Their purpose..."

 

When Dusky looked back at Lapis, his eyes seemed wistful and he seemed, almost, to be in search of confirmation or agreement. "The question, Lapis. The question is simple. The stars, so beautiful, that mar the night. Why? Why do they exist? To complement the beauty of the moon? No. I think that the exist to provide a balance to the darkness, to ensure that it remains... Controlled. Hmmm.... But, why? Why? Why... Surely the night can control itself, without the need to be watched over by the many kin of our own glorious sun?" Dusky closed his eyes and left them shut for a moment, before opening them.

 

"But, of course, that is not why you are here. You are here so that we can both go in search of the truth. In your room? Yes? Well, let us walk. Let us walk, my friend, and perhaps we can both increase in our understanding. Perhaps, you can speak... Along the way. Ask me your questions. Don't be afraid. For you see, I have much work to do. As you may or may not know, there is... A problem with the train engine. I am, of course, the engineer. I must tend to my duties."

 

Without a further word, the unicorn began swiftly walking towards the front of the train. Despite his height, Dusky moved with an unusual lack of noise. Silently, he passed through the passenger car containing room's 9 through 12. When he entered the passenger car containing Trixie's room, he nodded briskly at Ambrosia but kept walking. He ignored Daylight completely as he continued on his way. After exiting the passenger car where Ambrosia was, he slowed his pace to allow Lapis to speak.

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------

Key was still unconscious, sleeping. She lied in her bed exactly where Electrobolt had left her. On the outside, she appeared to be sleeping soundly, peacefully. But, her dreams were troubled. They were not nightmares, but they were strange. The felt nearly lucid, but she had no control over her actions. She could feel the grass under her hooves as she stepped through what appeared to be the ruins of a once mighty city. All around her, there were signs of decimation. Buildings crumbled. The frostbitten remnants of ponies in various states of death and decay littered the landscape. All around, there were not even the faintest signs of life.

 

She could feel the grass under her hooves, but she could not control her direction, and the direction that she walked seemed to take her through the very heart of the destruction. The world of the dream was dark, intensely so. The darkness seemed to linger, yet there were still shadows - darkness within the darkness that seemed to move soullessly just within the scope of her peripheral vision. Strangely, she could feel no fear, only a tremendous sorrow. A feeling that increased to such a point that, if she could, she surely would have stopped. She would have walked away from the destruction.

 

As it stood, she couldn't leave. So, the feeling continued to grow until she wished that she could wail in misery. Finally, the darkness overtook the world completely. There, unable to see anything or to feel anything, she felt a certain peace. It was as though this was truly where she was meant to be. A voice spoke, the same that had addressed her earlier, but strange... It sounded distant yet more powerful than before. "What... What you saw is the reason for what I am today. Much like you, I have seen much of life. But, I have seen more than you. Than you both... So much more."

 

Even in her dream, Key felt a sudden fear at hearing the voice. The voice responded, soothingly. "Fear? You have no need to fear me. I am your guardian. I merely did what I did in order to protect you. Both of you. You are... Still too young to truly grasp the important mission that you are destined to accomplish. And he is... Not ready. He has much to learn about the nuances of the darkness. How it can hide, protect. How it can be an ally in conflict. Something that you know well?"

 

Key's unconscious mind rebelled. She would not, could not believe that she had any commonality with this voice. She began to toss and turn in bed. The voice was displeased, at first, but it became progressively more soothing as it went along. "After all that I do to visit you, is this truly the courtesy that you intend to show me? I know what you think. You think me evil. But, let me assure you, this is not the case... I am... Merely... An embattled soul, like yourself, pursuing a simple goal without deeper subtlety. You wish for your family to be restored - an end to your pain. I wish for.. An end to my own pain as well..."

 

Key continued fighting back. The voice remained silent for what felt like hours before finally speaking again. "You wish to leave me. How unfortunate. Don't you want to know... About your family?" Key's struggles stopped. She did want to know. The voice hissed. "I thought so... So... You are too willing to do what you must to reach your goals. That. Is weakness. I know from experience, an experience that... I can share..."

 

The darkness gave way and Key found herself suddenly staring at a bleak, rocky cavern wall. She also began to feel something, the strangest tingling all over her. She also felt... Larger... Very much so. She tried to move, but she couldn't. Instead, this strange form slowly looked down. Her eyes took in the sight of a massive, reptilian arm... It was ripped, shredded, and torn in so many ways that she was repulsed. The tingling grew into a stinging, vibrant sensation of pain - like thousands of needles being woven through her living flesh.

 

@@Electrobolt,

 

With a scream, she tumbled out of bed. The dream was over, but, around her, it seemed that the darkness still remained. Frantically, she staggered back to her hooves and ran to her room door. She tore the door open and stepped out into the hall. Standing there, panicked, in the hallway, one thing that the voice had said stuck in her mind. "He isn't ready..." She mouthed the words, then decided that she knew who this pony was and that... Perhaps his not being ready for the voice was a strength and not a weakness. She sprinted to Electrobolt's door and knocked on it with frenzied strength.

 

 

 

OOC: I'm not being random, I promise... All of this is gonna tie in together quite nicely. In the morning time (in the RP), many things will be made clear. Including a corpse or two. Also, I will write for the remaining NPCs tomorrow, if the rules allow. I've also reached a conclusion. These posts are probably going to always be this length. Oh goodness. :X

 

 

Edited by Scootacool
  • Brohoof 5

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Water Opal left the two alone, heading toward the Parlor Car once more. He hadn't quite understood what the ponies had spoken about. Something about the night sky, and then there seemed to be a speck of religion tied to their conversation, for some strange reason. It was like...they had spoken Old Equestrian, a lost language rarely found anywhere in Equestria. He decided to dismiss trying to comprehend the meaning of the words Dusky had spoken, and entered the Parlor Car profoundly, probably another effect of the moonlight shining off the right side of his body.

 

His eyes not drooping the slightest, he sat down a table away from a green pegasus, and pulled out his book once more. The Epic of Filgamesch, which he had noticed the title had been after days of continuously replacing the F with a G, was quite an interesting tale, most exciting to read. All those different species of animals, some he had never even heard of. He opened to page 126 and read a few chapters, getting wrapped into his book, one conflict being replaced by the next...

 

Water Opal woke up just 10 minutes later, his book on his lap, and he sat up, yawning and stretching his hooves. Setting the book on the table to retrieve later, he stood up, feeling a bit more energized by his unintended nap. He sat down across from the green pegasus, and leaned back against the soft velvet of the chair. Once he was in a comfortable position, which must have been a few seconds later, he said, "Hello." Quite a strange start to a conversation, as Water Opal realized a few moments later if not accompanied by anything else to say. "My name is Water Opal, what"s yours?"

  • Brohoof 2

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After having put Key Gear in bed and then entering his room, Electrobolt locked the door shut. He then sat down at the table for a moment, thinking about whether Key would be alright or not. For some mysterious reason, he thought about checking in on the filly, before shrugging it off. He thought, *Probably just paranoia... Key's probably fast asleep, dreaming something nice... I hope so anyways...* before looking out of the window, at the dark, yet starry night sky. The stars seemed as if they were dancing tonight. After observing them for a while, he eventually let out a small yawn, before going over to the bed and climbing in, crawling underneath the covers. He then fell fast asleep, heading into the realm of dreams...

 

******************

 

As Electrobolt drifted off into slumber, he began to toss and turn as he was experiencing something rather unsettling to him in his dreams. Within his dreams, the whole room was nothing but black. Yet he was able to see himself as if in a lit room. "Where am I...?" he muttered to himself, as he started to idly wander around the room. As he continued wandering, he eventually bumped face-first into something. Rubbing his face, he looked at what he bumped into... Only to see nothingness. Confused, he tapped the area, hearing a clinking sound as if glass was being hit. "Invisible walls...?" Picking himself up, he continued roaming through the area.

After finding himself bumping into invisible wall after invisible wall, he sighed. "Why am I here...?" he questioned himself, wondering what is going on. "What is all of this..." Just as soon as he closed his eyes, a light began to shine in front of him. Both startled and confused, he quickly opened his eyes and looked up, before seeing the light fade away. In place of the light stood his parents. The one on the left was a bright-yellow mare, with a pretzel for her cutie mark, hazelnut eyes and a gorgeous goldenrod mane. On the right stood a navy-blue stallion, who bore two crossed wrenches for his cutie mark, sky-blue eyes and a dark-brown mane.

Electrobolt could only stare at the sight in front of him. "Mom...? Dad...? Is that you?" he asked them, confused at what was going on. The two adult ponies just looked at Electrobolt, smiling. As he looked at them, he recalled their professions. The mare, his mother, worked in a bakery as a pretzel-maker. Every day when she returned home, she would always bring him a freshly-baked pretzel, wearing a warm smile on her face. The thought of eating those freshly-made pretzels made him smile. Next, he looked over to the stallion, his father. He was a repairpony, and although he wasn't a unicorn, he was still pretty darn good at his job. Every day when he returned from his job, he would always have some grease on his coat. It was easy to clean off, though, and he loved his job. Also, whenever Electrobolt's video game consoles would have something go wrong with them, he would be able to fix them rather quick.

As he looked at them both, recalling their professions, he eventually realized something. These two ponies... Now that he actually thought about it, he didn't have any of their traits - not even visual appearances. This startled him, as they had been his parents for all his life. How could he have not noticed this? Just as he was about to get up, the whole area suddenly began to be filled with fog. Electrobolt began to look all around, wondering where this fog is pouring in from, but was unable to see anything. When the fog stopped, he looked back to where his parents stood, only to see their silhouettes. Even more, they seemed like they were walking away. "Wait! Where are you going???" he called out, trying to chase after his parents. However, even though he ran after them, they seemed to be moving faster than him until they disappeared from view. "Wh... Why are you leaving me...?"

It was just then, however, that two more silhouettes appeared in the distance, approaching him. "Mom...? Dad...?" he weakly called out to them, as they continued approaching him. However, once they stopped nearby, his eyes noticed something new about the silhouettes. They were both different from his parents. "Wait... Who... Who are you...?" he uttered out, trying to get a better look at them. But it was no use, as the fog obstructed all of their intrisic details, save for the shape of their silhouettes. He was becoming rather nervous and unsettled. If the fog wasn't a good enough reason, then the complete silence would.

After a minute of complete silence, though, yet another silhouette appeared. This one was smaller than the two in front of him. Much smaller, in fact. As he looked at the new shadow, he could recognize some sort of similarity. The size, the scruffiness of the mane, or what seemed to be the mane... It reminded him of somepony he had known earlier. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on who this pony could be. After a while of thinking, his eyes shot open. The pony that was next to the taller ponies, he recognized it now! "Wait... Key Gear? Is that you???" he called out to the small shadow. Almost as if answering him, the shadow gave out a nod.

However, just after that had occurred, the room suddenly became dark. Electrobolt was scared, as he should be. This darkness, it was the same as before... The fog had been replaced by this darkness that seemed to be alive. It was as if it was that candle flame in Trixie's room - cold, orderly, precise. Just then, he heard this chilling laughter, before a voice spoke up. "Hello again, Electrobolt..." His eyes shot wide open, as he looked around, only to see nothing. This voice... This distant, yet hoarse and earthen voice, it was the exact same voice he heard before.

 

"I have returned, Electrobolt, to finish what I had started. You see, that light really hurt me. But fortunately for me, and unfortunately for you... This time, it's just you and me. Now... I feel very hungry..." Without even revealing it's forms a second time, the creature revealed it's gaping maw to the young colt. Scared out of his mind, he tried to move... Yet, he found himself unable to move. Even though the liquid thing from before wasn't pulling down on his legs, they felt as if they were as heavy as stone. He kept trying to move, yet he was stuck in place.

 

As the maw breathed heavily, Electro continued to get barraged by blasts of bitter, cold air. Yet he was unable to shiver, being frozen in position. *Is this it...?* he thought, still freaking out. *Is this the end of my life...?* It was then that the creature pounced at Electrobolt, mouth wide open, as he was about to make a meal out of the young colt. Just as soon as the creature got in his face...

 

******************

 

"WAAAAGH!!!" Electrobolt suddenly popped his eyes wide open as he tumbled off of his bed, wrapped up in his sheets like a burrito. Looking around, he could see that he was not in that dark realm, but instead, he was back in his room. "Was... Was that just a dream...? But... It seemed so... Real..." He was gasping between breaths as he noticed his forehead was drenched in sweat. "That... I don't know if I can sleep again tonight..." As he was trying to unravel himself from the sheets, he heard a frantic pounding on his door.

 

Thinking it was a concerned passenger, or perhaps one of the workers on the train, he hurried to get himself unwrapped, which took quite a bit of time. After finally breaking free, he got to his hooves and wiped the sweat off his forehead. He then approached the door and unlocked it, before opening it to see a spooked Key Gear. Concerned about why she was up, and how freaked out she was, he moved out of the way and said, "Um... Come in, Key..." To be honest, he was still spooked because of his dream, and he really wanted to get some things out. Perhaps talking about them might help him calm down.

 

Once Key Gear entered his room, he quickly closed the door and locked it up tight. After sitting down on his bed while Key sat down wherever she felt like, the young colt let out a sigh. "I take it you had a nightmare, too...?" he asked, his heart having been pounding when from the nightmare. "Um... Anyways... Yeah... About my nightmare..." Taking in a deep breath, he began to explain what happened when he was fast asleep. He did his best to explain in his words what all had occurred to him.

 

Shivering slightly after having told Key his nightmare, he added, "I... I think all this started after everything had gone dark in Trixie's room... You see... Once everything went dark there... There was nothing except for this frigid wind... And this heavy darkness... After some time passed, this voice spoke up... It... It sounded as if it knew me, and you... It said something about me having disappointed me for the second time... But I don't even know what it was talking about... But it also said it had seen me from birth... How, I don't know..."

 

Taking a quick breather after having said all that, he shook his head. Continuing from there, he resumed, "That's not all, though... It even spoke as if it knew you... It had said that although you had all kinds of advantages, I was lucky enough to find a home... Also, I recall it saying that it took you under it's wings... Not to mention it said something about 'getting back to the topic at claw'... It even knew my name, before asking if Electrobolt was what I called myself... I... I just... This is so confusing..." Holding a hoof to his head, he sighed.

 

"And then... And then I was getting dragged down by something... And the voice spoke to me... Almost as if it was encouraging my fear... It then said something about... About how it only needed one pony for its goals... And then..." Now, Electrobolt was shivering at the thought of what would have happened, had Daylight not stepped in. "And then, it... It tried to eat me... I... I was scared out of my mind... But then... This bright beam of light came in... Daylight... He saved me... He saved us..." Realizing he had rambled on, he sighed. Still shivering, however, he asked, "Um... I... I'm sorry, Key... I don't know why I rambled on like that... I... I guess I just needed to get that out... Anyways... What happened with you...?"

  • Brohoof 4

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Dusky just stood there, seemingly ignoring him. This unicorn didn't look all that much like the goldenrod unicorn now that Lapis had gotten a good look at him. This unicorn seemed to be taller, yet somewhat plumper. And, unlike the unicorn from the parlor, Dusky seemed to be rather unfriendly. But that last observation could be wrong. Lapis would have to wait until the stallion spoke. But Dusky appeared to be sleeping or something along those lines. Very peculiar, especially since he was supposed to be a member of the staff, most likely the engineer. It was probably what he was. All the other occupations were filled.

 

He was just about to give up when Dusky finally responded. Dusky turned to him, his face a mask of sleep, as if he weren't all there. Lapis began to regret making his decision, but there was no turning back now. He path was set the moment Trixie insulted Ambrosia. He had no control over his destiny on this train, so he might as well just go with it.

 

Lapis breathed a silent sigh of relief when Dusky agreed to be questioned. And the fact that Dusky also wanted to ask questions delighted him. The exchange of knowledge was a worthwhile experience. Lapis readied himself to head to his room, but found that Dusky hadn't moved an inch. It seemed that a blue unicorn had approached the two of them without Lapis noticing.

 

Dusky started to become unsettling. The way he spoke made the fur on Lapis's neck stand up. He even gave a shiver. He shook his head lightly and tried to focus on what was being said.

 

Then Dusky turned towards him, and Lapis tried to appear interested in the strange words the grey unicorn spoke. His disdain for stars and praise for the night itself really unsettled the blue pony. He did his best not to slink away, but it was becoming too much. Unfortunately, this pony was his only lead besides Springer, and Springer was definitely not to be trusted. Despite his unusual behavior, Dusky seemed to be relatively harmless when compared to the much more intimidating Springer.

 

After staring out the window during his reverie, Dusky turned back towards Lapis again. This time, his eyes looked distant, yet squarely focused on the stallion before him. And he asked what seemed like a simple question, but Lapis could not, and perhaps would not, answer. If he said something wrong, he could very well lose out the chance to learn what in the name of Equestria was going on aboard this train.

 

Luck was on his side though, as Dusky immediately moved past it, and started walking. Lapis quickly trotted after the odd unicorn. And Dusky also confirmed his suspicions. He was the engineer, but that only meant they weren't going to have to stop in a town for repairs, maybe. Hopefully Dusky could fix up the engine. Lapis vaguely recalled something Vim had said to Ambrosia. But that didn't really matter right now.

 

Dusky picked up his speed, so Lapis had to as well. They seemed to past by room 8 rather quickly, but Lapis didn't look towards it. He needed to focus on Dusky. Despite the one way nature of a train, Dusky might use magic to escape from him, simply out of reasons Lapis could not comprehend. So his eyes remained locked on the pony ahead of him.

 

And then Dusky slowed down. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to speak up, so he did. "Dusky, first I would like to know where you were. What were you doing? Due to a chain of events, I have been searching for you since the middle of dinner. And perhaps you can explain your involvement with Springer. Back in the parlor car, you two seemed to be discussing strange matters. If it's alright with you, I wish for you to tell me everything you know. If just so all my burning questions can be answered."

 

The two of them soon arrived at room 1, and Lapis went up to the door. "Here we are, my room. Funny thing is, I was away from here for maybe only a few hours, yet it feels like it's been months. Hmm, odd how time works. Come, let us go inside and discuss a few matters. You said you had questions for me as well." He opened the door and trotted inside, hoping the engineer would follow suit. He sat down upon his bed and waited for Dusky. "Be sure to close the door on your way in." Lapis called to him.

  • Brohoof 5

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When Flow got inside her room, she locked the door and reflected on what happened at the show, "Sigh, I feel so stressed out...it's all because of that witch, sigh, sending me to the frozen north just to impress the audience. Did she even know that it would hurt her reputation even more? Yawn, I need to go to bed, that way I could relax from all....this...Yawn.....stress..." She let her body slam on the comfy bed, not even caring about putting on a blanket. In no time she slipped into dreaming.




It was a cloudy morning as Flow woke up, "Uhh..what up with the weather? I didn't expect a cloudy day, perhaps it's another case bad forecasting," She thought before getting up from her bed, then she notices that the train wasn't moving, "Huh? Why did we stop? W-What's going on? Where are we?" She peered out of the window to notice that they were in Canterlot, "What? Did we return to C-Canterlot? But...why?"

Next she leaves her room, where she notices an eerie silence combined with a dark hallway, "Okay...this is really scaring me." The next thing she sees is Room 8, Trixie's room "What in the world? That's strange. Why is her door open?" she took a look inside to find a ransacked place, "What happened he-" Her thoughts stopped abruptly when she sees Trixie down on the floor.

"T-Trixie? A-are you....okay?" Slowly, she touches her, and to her horror, she finds no pulse in her, and her body is cold, Trixie is dead and upon realizing that, Flow steps back horrified "No....t-this can't be..T-Trixie..Dead?...A...A...AH....AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!"




"AAAHHHH! Pant....pant...pant" Flow wakes up, "Pant...Oh..it's just a nightmare....pant...pant....I...hope this isn't..a premonition...sigh....hopefully." Afterwards, Flow tries going back to sleep, but so far she has difficulty trying to. Edited by Narutardedscum!!
  • Brohoof 5

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He tossed and turned in his sleep, but remained asleep nonetheless. He felt himself in the dream world. In dreams he could feel himself snuggled warm in his bed, yet his mind was as free as a bird. He would’ve liked to wander and think of nothing in particular, but his subconscious refused to let him. Instead he was directed to his old living room in his old apartment. A fire crackled and his mother sat in a rocking chair, enjoying the flames.

 

“I’m proud of you, Magicon,” she stated without opening her eyes. “Come here, my son,” she gestured. Magicon was hesitant to approach her. He rarely saw his mother in dreams and was always scared of what it meant when he did see her.

 

“Don’t be afraid of me, my son,” she turned around and smiled. “Come here and sit by your mother.” She looked much older than he last remembered. It was as if she had aged along with him. Her hair was gray and wrinkles were everywhere but her sweet smile was unchanged and Magicon approached her and sat on the carpet in front of the fire next to her.

 

“You did a good thing tonight,” she stated.

“I did it for selfish reasons, though.”

 

“True, but you saved somepony from a very bad one. That’s good enough for me.”

 

“But, I saved her only to get back at Trixie.”

 

“You also did it to prove what true magic is, something I never did,” she gestured to her horn.

 

“This doesn’t change anything,” he mumbled.

 

“Oh, I think it does.”

 

“No, it doesn’t.”

 

“You must see that it’s hopeless. I’m at peace. If I wasn’t I would let you know.”

 

“But…don’t you miss me? Aren’t you mad at me?”

 

“Yes to the first one and no to the second. I always knew you were troubled and I did my best to help you but it wasn’t enough. Sometimes, I wish I could’ve done more.”

 

“There was nothing you could do. You were and still are the greatest pony I ever had and the only one I ever truly loved.”

 

“I’m touched, but if you truly love me, let me go. Stop wasting your time in those books and museums. Look at what you did tonight. Go and make a name for yourself: a good one that ponies will respect.”

 

“I can’t.”

 

“You must try.”

 

“Well, I can’t! I won’t let you go!”

 

“You must if you are ever to be truly happy.” Her chair began moving away from him and Magicon scrambled to cling to it. Yet he was unable to.

 

“Mother! Come back!” he yelled.

 

“Goodbye, Magicon. Let me go and take care of yourself,” she smiled and faded away while a sobbing Magicon stared at her former spot. He sat down by the dimming fir and cried. He didn’t realize that his physical body was shedding a single, silent tear as the train continued forward.

  • Brohoof 6

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With those words he attempted a small smile at the conductor and winced from the pain. “Ah, sorry Vim, but…I need to rest. Thanks for everything you’ve done.” He turned his back to the conductor and pulled the sheets over himself and prepared for a nice long rest.
 

 

Vim nodded respectfully and left, shutting the door behind him. This unicorn... Had given him something else to think about. Briefly, he considered walking the train, but he decided not to. He felt like he had been awake for weeks, the day had gone on for far too long. Vim made his way to his own room and went to sleep. For whatever reason, he dreamed of food - berries, nuts, and pies.

 

------------------------------------------------


 

Once he was in a comfortable position, which must have been a few seconds later, he said, "Hello." Quite a strange start to a conversation, as Water Opal realized a few moments later if not accompanied by anything else to say. "My name is Water Opal, what"s yours?"
 

 

Springer looked up at the unicorn in front of him. He had just been taking a break from restoring the parlor car back to normal. He had been sitting there daydreaming, completely lost in his own world of thoughts. He smiled with the brightest smile imaginable before responding. "Hey, buddy, my name's Springer. Nice to have you here!" Springer glanced around hurriedly before continuing. "Actually, buddy, I was hoping that somepony would stop by, I just wanted to show somepony something."

 

Suddenly, Springer reached under the table and pulled out a strange assortment of items - cards, rings, marbles. Grabbing a handful of marbles, he leaned back in his chair and started to juggle them at a frightening rate of speed. His eyes started to sparkle, and his smile widened tremendously. "What do ya think of this, buddy?!" Springer suddenly held out his hooves to his sides and the marbles were gone. 

 

The cards were next. Moving his hooves quickly and with frightening precision, Springer built a small castle out of cards. When the building was finished, he waved his right hoof over them, while holding his left up in the air. The castle seemed to take flight and the marbles were back. The air filled with cards and polished rocks, but order was restored in a mere matter of seconds by the quick-hooved pegasus. Springer was now juggling the cards and the marbles.

 

The rings were next. While still juggling, Springer used his mouth to grab a couple of rings from the table and flip them high into the air. As the rings spun, the radius of Springer's juggling became greater and greater. Finally, the rings and the items being juggling made contact, in perfect alignment. All of the items flew threw both of the rings and vanished when going through the second one. Springer caught the rings before they landed and then whipped them both over the table. All of his cards and marbles were back.

 

Leaning back with a grin, Springer asked the unicorn. "That was fun, wasn't it buddy? So, tell Springer. Do you like these  kind of tricks? See, they aren't magic, just a bit of slight of hoof, you know what I mean? Anyways, I think that they are just as good."

 

------------------------------------------------


 

He then approached the door and unlocked it, before opening it to see a spooked Key Gear. Concerned about why she was up, and how freaked out she was, he moved out of the way and said, "Um... Come in, Key..."
 

 

It was only a few moments, but it seemed like it had taken forever for Electrobolt to open the door. In those few moments, Key felt more afraid and lonely than she had ever felt in her life. When the door was finally opened, she rushed inside without a second thought. Here, with Bolt, she felt safe.

 

Once Key Gear entered his room, he quickly closed the door and locked it up tight. After sitting down on his bed while Key sat down wherever she felt like, the young colt let out a sigh. "I take it you had a nightmare, too...?"
 

 

She had settled herself on the floor, right in front of where Electrobolt was sitting. When he spoke to her, Key looked away from Electrobolt and nodded. She heard the note of fear in his own voice, and she decided that she would do her best to not let him see how badly shaken she was. She was shivering intensely, but the room wasn't cold.

 

"Um... Anyways... Yeah... About my nightmare..." Taking in a deep breath, he began to explain what happened when he was fast asleep. He did his best to explain in his words what all had occurred to him.
 

 

As Electrobolt began to explain his dream, Key slowly turned to face him again. Her thoughts were overpowering her fear. The similarities between their experiences was uncanny. The darkness, the voice, the cold, and even the monster... They were all familiar to her because she had seen them too. At that moment, she said nothing though, because she didn't know what to say. She guessed that perhaps whatever had triggered when she opened the small box was still affecting them both. However, Electrobolt wasn't finished talking. He went on to describe his experiences in the room.

 

After some time passed, this voice spoke up... It... It sounded as if it knew me, and you... It said something about me having disappointed me for the second time... But I don't even know what it was talking about... But it also said it had seen me from birth... How, I don't know...
 

 

Key listened more and more intently as Electrobolt continued to talk, she was deep in thought. The voice had claimed to have known Electrobolt since birth, but from what it had told her, she knew that it also seemed to have known her since birth. To Key, if they were both the same age, then the voice would have had to travel between Manehattan and Ponyville to know them both so well. It would certainly have had some type of interaction with Bolt in order for it to claim that he was a disappointment. The thought of a malevolent voice riding a commuter train made no sense to her. She kept listening.

 

Taking a quick breather after having said all that, he shook his head. Continuing from there, he resumed, "That's not all, though... It even spoke as if it knew you... It had said that although you had all kinds of advantages, I was lucky enough to find a home... Also, I recall it saying that it took you under it's wings... Not to mention it said something about 'getting back to the topic at claw'... It even knew my name, before asking if Electrobolt was what I called myself... I... I just... This is so confusing..." Holding a hoof to his head, he sighed.
 

 

Key sniffed and looked down at the floor. Advantages? She didn't feel advantaged. She was about to comment to this effect when the full impact of Electrobolt's next sentence hit her. He had been lucky enough to find a home... The implication, she realized immediately, was that she had not been. But, how would this distinction even be relevant if there was not some type of connection between her and Electrobolt. Key's fears were temporarily forgotten, she was distracted by the rapid-fire sequence of thoughts that Electrobolt's story was setting off.

 

Dimly, she caught mention of being taken under some creatures wings. She immediately thought of a pegasus, but... She had never been helped by one of those. However, at the mention of a claw, Key's mind immediately did a back-flip  There was only one thing with both wings and claws that had ever helped her, it was the old griffon that had taught her nearly all that she knew about mechanical things.

 

Key slowly rose to her feet with her ears in an alert position  This was all beginning to make sense to her, but she wasn't sure if she liked how these pieces were fitting together. She wished that she was just confused, that she didn't have to even try imagining the story that was forming in her mind.

 

"And then... And then I was getting dragged down by something... And the voice spoke to me... Almost as if it was encouraging my fear... It then said something about... About how it only needed one pony for its goals... And then..." Now, Electrobolt was shivering at the thought of what would have happened, had Daylight not stepped in. "And then, it... It tried to eat me... I... I was scared out of my mind... But then... This bright beam of light came in... Daylight... He saved me... He saved us..."
 

 

"Only one pony..." Key repeated the phrase silent as her eyes widened. The voice... It wasn't just a voice... It was real, and it had tried to kill Electrobolt. The voice, the griffon, the darkness, the monster, the train ride, Trixie... Key's head swam with all of the thoughts that were making their way through. She wanted to connect the pieces... She just needed a missing piece. Then, she heard Daylight's name, and she remembered something from much earlier in that long day.

 

"Key, while I was looking into your history, I discovered that... you may have a brother." He then paused so that the full force of the words could set in with her.
 

 

Thinking back to the illusions from earlier, she suddenly recalled how she had mistook the voice of her father for Electrobolt's voice. The ramblings of the strange voice in the darkness and this other incident... It was all far too much to be a coincidence. She took a few steps away from Electrobolt so that she could look up into his eyes. Key shuddered. They were nearly exactly like her father's eyes both in their color and in how they expressed a certain stalwart strength. Electrobolt was her brother. Key stared at the green colt.

 

Realizing he had rambled on, he sighed. Still shivering, however, he asked, "Um... I... I'm sorry, Key... I don't know why I rambled on like that... I... I guess I just needed to get that out... Anyways... What happened with you...?"
 

 

Stirred from her thoughts by his question, Key bit her lip and averted her glance. Her sudden realization had hit her like a kick to the gut. Now, she was shivering again, but it wasn't due to either fear or cold. Suddenly, she understood what had happened that day between the two of them. 

 

The reason for why Electrobolt had chosen to sit at her table out of all of the tables in the dining car. The reason for why they had both behaved so strangely in the parlor car. It was obvious. There had been a connection between them. Something had drawn them together. But... Why? Why here on this train? Still looking away from Electrobolt, Key's mind worked frantically. 

 

"Only one pony..." This time, she repeated the phrase in her mind only. Perhaps, she thought, this train ride, the stolen artifact, the darkness, the rambling voice... Maybe, it was all some kind of demented test. Maybe the voice had set the entire situation up to somehow measure the both of them... To see which of them would break first. To see which of them could... Key's expression became confused... What did the voice want from them... From only one of them...

 

Key was still shivering, and she looked over at Electrobolt and saw that he was as well. She didn't care what the voice wanted. She didn't care for its game. At that moment, she didn't even care about Trixie. She only cared about one thing. "Electrobolt, I'm sorry that it took me so long to respond. I was thinkin'. And, I kind of realized something. You and I. We're brother and sister." Key waited just a moment for this to sink in, before she continued, talking quickly. 

 

"The voice didn't have as much to say to me, but it did mention that there was another... And, I think it meant you. Also... When we were in Trixie's room, I saw these things that were pretending to be my parents. That's when I realized it. You sound like my father. Then, there's everything that you just said. I think the voice knew us both from birth because, well, maybe it was there." Key's nose scrunched up as she realized what she had just said. They were both the same age. The only possible way for them to be brother and sister would be if they were born at the exact same time.

 

"I..." Key suddenly found herself with a complete and total loss of words. Her eyes were moist. She wished she knew what to say, but she didn't. All day long, she had been learning that her words always failed her when she wanted them the most. Instead of talking, she trotted to Electro's bed and sat next to him. Then, clumsily, she hugged him and buried her face in his soft green fur.

 

------------------------------------------------


 

"Dusky, first I would like to know where you were. What were you doing? Due to a chain of events, I have been searching for you since the middle of dinner. And perhaps you can explain your involvement with Springer. Back in the parlor car, you two seemed to be discussing strange matters. If it's alright with you, I wish for you to tell me everything you know. If just so all my burning questions can be answered."

 

Initially, Dusky showed no reaction to these questions. It was as if Lapis had never spoken at all. Instead, he kept walking at his same pace. From the corner of his eyes, he watched the earth pony with a curious, silent intensity. After some moments, he smiled. He would answer all of Lapis's questions, in full, soon, and he hoped that Lapis would be similarly forthcoming.

 

The two of them soon arrived at room 1, and Lapis went up to the door. "Here we are, my room. Funny thing is, I was away from here for maybe only a few hours, yet it feels like it's been months. Hmm, odd how time works. Come, let us go inside and discuss a few matters. You said you had questions for me as well."

 

Dusky nodded. "I know this... I, myself... Was only away from the train engine for a few hours. Yet, it felt like I was away for some strange eons. It is, indeed, strange how time works... Its flow is at once both immutable and transient, like a mighty rushing river it carries us all forward to our fates. Each passing moment gone forever, and yet the possibilities of the future remain open to us all."

 

As Lapis entered the room, Dusky stood outside for a moment, seemingly lost in thought. Finally, he spoke. "Lapis, I sense that you... Understand fate in a way that is uncommon in modern Equestria. Destiny..."

 

He opened the door and trotted inside, hoping the engineer would follow suit. He sat down upon his bed and waited for Dusky. "Be sure to close the door on your way in." Lapis called to him.
 

 

"Don't worry. I will... I will close the door." Showing uncharacteristic hesitation, Dusky slowly entered the room, shutting the door behind him. Once within the room, he stood in front of the closed door, and his eyes seemed to sparkle with a strange luminosity. He licked his lips before he began speaking. As he spoke, his sleepy voice seemed to be backed by a curious intensity.

 

"Now, first, I would like to answer your questions, Lapis. Lying is weakness, which I cannot abide, so you can trust that I will answer you with full honesty. Where was I? I was in the caboose. What was I doing? I was sleeping, walking through the world of dreams. My involvement with Springer? Hmmm... Well, now, that is much more complex... Rather like a good meal, Lapis? Spices... Ah... My apologies, I missed dinner due to my nap."

 

Dusky's sleepy eyelids lowered even more than normal as if to hide his eyes from Lapis. He shivered as though was cold, but the temperature within the room was perfectly normal. He continued. "Springer and I... We have business that concerns Trixie. This business is of a rather confidential nature, but I believe that I can share some of the essential facts with you. Something was stolen. A promise was made. A promise was fulfilled. Now, it is time for something to be returned. Then, there will be a final problem."

 

Dusky's voice wavered, but he continued steadily. "My apologies for the vagueness. As I said. This is a rather confidential matter. Now... Perhaps... You would care to answer my questions... And we can learn from each other. If you answer my questions, then I would be willing to tell you more about what I know. If you don't then... I see no point in continued conversation."

 

Dusky moved himself so that his height and weight made the door inaccessible to Lapis. He licked his lips. "Lapis. Why are you on this train? What purpose or force brings you here? What happened in the magic show? Who's idea was this magic show? And... Can you tell me about something beautiful?" He smiled pleasantly.

  • Brohoof 5

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Lapis watched as Dusky entered and closed the door. The unicorn seemed so very peculiar, but he was simple enough to trust for the time being. Lapis needed answers, and this was the only way to get them. In truth, he sort of had to lower his guard ever so slightly to get what he needed. He had to remain calm and collected. And he had to answer any question Dusky might ask him.
 
Lapis nodded as Dusky answered the first few questions. Technically, he knew that much, and was only confirming it right now. But once he got to the part with Springer, Lapis gave a shiver. That pegasus was an odd bird, and hopefully information concerning him would be useful. But Dusky was being vague. Lapis made a mental note to answer the questions he'd receive as honestly and openly as possible. If he did that, then maybe Dusky would return the favor.
 
The way Dusky lowered his eyelids spoke of cowardice. What kind of pony wouldn't look another in the eye? But Lapis remained focused on the words.
 

"Springer and I... We have business that concerns Trixie. This business is of a rather confidential nature, but I believe that I can share some of the essential facts with you. Something was stolen. A promise was made. A promise was fulfilled. Now, it is time for something to be returned. Then, there will be a final problem."

 
That definitely sounded suspicious. He thought back to Trixie's room, and the stage show. And of course the story of the first flash of light. Not much to go on all together, but perhaps it was a start. He needed a bit of help unraveling this mystery. Maybe there was someone on board who could help. But how would he present it? Time would only tell.
 

"My apologies for the vagueness. As I said. This is a rather confidential matter. Now... Perhaps... You would care to answer my questions... And we can learn from each other. If you answer my questions, then I would be willing to tell you more about what I know. If you don't then... I see no point in continued conversation."

 
Lapis readied himself for any and all questions. "Yes, of course. Ask away. I have nothing to hide." he said with the utmost confidence. Whatever Dusky would ask, surely it could be of no consequence to him. Unlike Dusky, Lapis was just a normal earth pony scholar. And a smart one too.
 

"Lapis. Why are you on this train? What purpose or force brings you here? What happened in the magic show? Who's idea was this magic show? And... Can you tell me about something beautiful?"

 
Despite the fact it seemed like Dusky was blocking the door, Lapis paid it no mind. All he had to do was answer the pony and then he could move on to much more important matters than silly questions like the ones Dusky had asked him. He quickly reviewed the questions in his mind a few times before answering.
 
"I am headed to Los Pegasus to attend the Applewood Festival, which I assumed most ponies on board this train were doing. Why would you even ask? It's rather obvious. And what do you mean by 'purpose or force'? I got on this train because my young assistant, Asteria, had found a poster detailing the event. Sadly, she could not come along on the train with me as I did not have enough bits."
 
Lapis took a moment to think about this whole situation. He was just a researcher. Not some fancy detective. What had he gotten himself into? He should not have followed Ambrosia. Now he was trapped in a room with a unicorn who was rather suspicious. The questions he asked seemed standard enough, but they hinted at a cracked psyche. But Lapis knew to keep his mind sharp and his demeanor calm and collected. Not even his body language gave away the doubt in his mind that Dusky could very well be rather dangerous.
 
He cleared his throat and moved on to the next question. "At the magic show, Trixie preformed a few neat little tricks, but truly, it was all fluff in my honest opinion. She boasted far too much about her simple tricks. Ah, but one thing did stick out. She opened a portal of some sort and tossed an innocent pegasus into it. Where it led, I do not know. But a unicorn by the name of Magicon saved the poor mare. And to my knowledge, it was Springer's idea to have Trixie do a magic show."
 
And now for the last question. It seemed out of place. Not at all what he expected. But it was answer or fail. He thought about it long and hard before he answered. "Something beautiful, eh? Very well. The smile of a young pony is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen in all my days of living. My dearest companion Asteria presented me that smile. She's so easy to make happy, but all the same, it is beautiful just to see her happy."
 
He smiled fondly to himself. Such simple things made life worthwhile. But there was a glint in Lapis's eye as he realized that Dusky wanted a specific answer. How would he know about Asteria to even ask about something beautiful? It was clearly a trick question. He thought back to the walk over to his room. Dusky loved the night. And only one pony embodied the night perfectly.
 
"Ah, but of course, I hear tell the most beautiful thing in all of Equestria is Princess Luna, mistress of the Night itself." he said with an unusual longing. Despite what he said about a foal's smile, the Princess of the Night was somewhat more appealing to the eye. He'd never seen the princess in person, but that did not detract from the one time he had seen her at a distance at the Festival of Dreams a month back. So the memory was rather fresh.
 
Lapis did his best to hide a sly grin. He felt he had answered all the questions perfectly. He knew very little as to what was truly going on aboard the train, so if Dusky wanted special information about the show, Lapis could not provide it. And he was completely innocent of any wrong doings, and his place on board the train was for travel purposes only. He eyed the stallion by the door cautiously. He might have slipped up despite his confidence. If something was off, he would at least want to be prepared. Life traveling from place to place had taught him that much.

  • Brohoof 6

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After Electrobolt had finished his speech, his attention was brought to Key Gear, as he saw that she was shivering as she had been earlier. He was assuming it was because she was still spooked from her nightmare before, but perhaps there was something else going on in her mind. Then, the silence made its return, as he was waiting for the filly to respond to him. Worried that he might have wound up scaring Key even more, his face started to show some concern. However, after a while had passed, Key finally responded.

 

"Electrobolt, I'm sorry that it took me so long to respond. I was thinkin'. And, I kind of realized something. You and I. We're brother and sister." Key waited just a moment for this to sink in, before she continued, talking quickly.

 

Electrobolt's eyes shot wide open when Key had come to this conclusion. In his mind, he asked himself, *Wh... What...? Brother and... Sister??? Where... Where did she...* However, his thoughts were halted when he recalled the words the voice had spoken to him. How it had known him and Key, how it claimed to have known him from birth while also knowing the filly, and... And then his dream, how he had seen the filly next to the two grown ponies. *Wait... If the small pony was Key, then... Those two other ponies... Could it be possible that they were her parents...? And, quite possibly, mine...?*

 

 

"The voice didn't have as much to say to me, but it did mention that there was another... And, I think it meant you. Also... When we were in Trixie's room, I saw these things that were pretending to be my parents. That's when I realized it. You sound like my father. Then, there's everything that you just said. I think the voice knew us both from birth because, well, maybe it was there." Key's nose scrunched up as she realized what she had just said. They were both the same age. The only possible way for them to be brother and sister would be if they were born at the exact same time.
 
"I..." Key suddenly found herself with a complete and total loss of words. Her eyes were moist. She wished she knew what to say, but she didn't. All day long, she had been learning that her words always failed her when she wanted them the most. Instead of talking, she trotted to Electro's bed and sat next to him. Then, clumsily, she hugged him and buried her face in his soft green fur.

 

Key then spoke once more, his train of thoughts temporarily on hold, as she spoke about her dream, how she had heard the same voice speaking to her in her sleep. When he heard the voice also spoke about another pony, and how she pieced it together, saying he was the other pony, Electrobolt began breathing a little faster. And upon her saying she met things pretending to be her parents, that her father sounded like him, he was at a loss of words. And then she said that perhaps the voice knew them both because perhaps it was there.

 

Electrobolt was now shivering again, this time from surprise. Surprise and the realization that they were brother and sister. He then recalled that Daylight had said earlier that Key might have a brother. His heart was beating rapidly as he breathed heavily. Key Gear was his sister, his sister that he had never known about while living his life in Ponyville. And he himself... He was the brother that Daylight was talking about. It was then that Key tried to say something, yet stopped as she couldn't find the words. Looking at her face, he noticed she seemed to be tearing up.

 

Just then she slowly began to approach his bed before sitting down next to him. Just then, she had hugged him, burying her face in his coat. He wanted to say something so bad, yet much like Key, the words just couldn't surface. So instead, he wrapped his legs around Key, returning the hug. In all of his life, he had lived in Ponyville, believing himself to be an only child. However, after only the course of one day, he found out he had a sister and that everything that had occurred today was the catalyst for all of this. He held the hug, as his eyes began to grow rather misty and damp. To him, things began to feel right in the world, having been reunited with his sister.

  • Brohoof 5

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Daylight noticed that his staring was making the cook uncomfortable which in turn made him feel uncomfortable but was curious to see that she seemed to be staring back at him. When she started talking, to avoid a repeat of what had just happened he looked past her face to her mane, which was a nice dark plum colour.

 

 

She replied. "My name is Ambrosia. I'm the cook on this train. I'm sorry that I didn't reply to you earlier. You were staring. I mean, I guess I might have been as well." She laughed with her trademark carefree laugh, and she changed her demeanor to match the laugh.

 

"Ambroisa... such a lovely name..."He thought, taking a moment to look back into her eyes again before quickly looking back to her mane. The fact she was the cook he knew already though. When she called him out on his staring he both looked and felt rather sheepish, and because of her laughing he tried to force out at least a small chuckle to pretend it was fine but he was terrible at hiding his true emotions. He found it rather interesting that her laugh was a very sort of carefree like and her whole expression change to match it as if it really hadn't bothered her. It was sure bothering him though and the best he could do was only fake a simile which he was sure she would be able to see though.

 

 

Ambrosia glanced quickly over her shoulder into the empty room and then back at the unicorn. "If you don't remember what happened, then I won't be much use. I got here just in time to see you light up this room and clear that... Strange darkness." For just a moment, Ambrosia looked thoughtful, but she didn't betray her thoughts by saying them out loud. She still didn't know enough about this unicorn to know whether or not she could trust him. Strange things were happening on this train, and she needed to be certain he could be trusted.

 

Daylight thought back to the last few things he remembered. He had cast a spell into the room and got knocked back against the back wall in the process. He remembered feeling a sharp pain in his head, which still hadn't gone away yet right then which must of been when he hit his head. the absolute last thing he remembered seeing was the blackness starting to fade and that was it. He looked thoughtful. he still didn't know what, if anything Key and Electro discovered. He would have to ask them tomorrow as they were probably too tired from today's ordeal.

 

He took a good moment to survey the room. Hardly anything was disturbed, except for a few open safes. The room looked like it hadn't even been lived in. He frowned. One of the the young ponies must have opened those safe's somehow, which he was sure Trixie would not be happy about when she found out. He wasn't going to go and investigate her room any further for the moment as that would most likely only further annoy her.

 

 

Ambrosia's face assumed a serious expression, and she spoke in a calmly inquisitive tone. "Well, what's your name, friend? And, do you know what those two young ponies were doing in there?"

 

he looked back at Ambrosia when she started talking again. "Oh, I apologise. My name is Daylight. And as for those two young ponies..." he trailed off. Again, he felt rather sheepish and his body betrayed his expression but for a different reason this time. He looked back to Ambrosia who's face was portraying a serious expression. He couldn't lie as he never lied, especially not to her. He wasn't sure how much he wanted to tell her though but he didn't want to hide anything either as that would only be dishonest of him and cause problems later on. He had only one choice then...

 

Taking a deep breath, he again looked directly into Ambrosia's eye's and spoke very seriously. "They... they were searching Trixie's room because they were looking for something. Something that Trixie reportedly stole. What the actual item is though... I can't say as I honestly don't know. None of us do. We assume though that it had something to do with what Trixie was able to do in the parlor the evening. It's takes powerful magic to open a portal like that as you saw how exhausted Magicon was after successfully attempting it himself, and Trixie only just broke a sweat. Trixie is up to something... and I'm going to find out what."

 

He looked out the window. It was rather late in the evening now as it was dark. There would be not more more that he could do today with everything soon going to bed if they hadn't already from the long and tiring day. He looked back to Ambrosia and spoke again, but this time less serious and more casually. "Umm... I don't mean to be a bother but if it's not to much trouble could I get a cup of coffee? I would have liked to have had one during dinner but I noticed you hadn't put any out and you seemed busy in conversation at the time that I didn't want to disturb you." he said with a friendly smile.

Edited by Dave247
  • Brohoof 4

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What a strange way to start a conversation, Water Opal thought to himself, using every mouth muscle he had to keep his mouth shut. "I-I do like tricks like those, ev-even if it was quite...surprising." All I did was introduce myself. He began doubting that the pony had even told him his name, but his mind drifted back to the beginning of the conversationg, where he realized that the pony had indeed mentioned it.

 

"Had you really been waiting for somepony to come by so you could do something? You must be very determined." You must be very sad and lonely, Water Opal added in his mind, surprised that the sound of his voice sounded more bitter than comforting when he had...er, thought it.

 

"I'm one for magic tricks myself," he said, grabbing his book from under the table. He began balancing it on his hoof, grinning, before waving his other hoof in front of it, though clearly to anyone who was looking, he had hit it. A clattering sound was to be heard on the floor, and Water Opal offered an innocent consolidation of a grin and an embarrassed smile. Mostly and embarrassed smile, though.

 

"I, uh, never said I was good though," he continued, bending down to return the book to his lap, before becoming upright once more. "Were you really holding a bunch of marbles, cards and rings just so you could show anypony who sat down here at night where many ponies are probably asleep...your juggling ability? Wow..."

Edited by The Alicorn Amulet
  • Brohoof 6

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"I am headed to Los Pegasus to attend the Applewood Festival, which I assumed most ponies on board this train were doing. Why would you even ask? It's rather obvious. And what do you mean by 'purpose or force'? I got on this train because my young assistant, Asteria, had found a poster detailing the event. Sadly, she could not come along on the train with me as I did not have enough bits."
 
Dusky's eyes opened. He blinked once before looking at Lapis in a curious fashion. It seemed as though he wanted to ask another question right then and there, but for that moment, he said nothing. Instead, he merely studied the earth pony in silence. On his face there was just the slightest trace of an emotion that he only rarely showed, admiration. Lapis was so unaffected by Dusky's demeanor that the shadowy pony was mildly impressed. 
 
He cleared his throat and moved on to the next question. "At the magic show, Trixie preformed a few neat little tricks, but truly, it was all fluff in my honest opinion. She boasted far too much about her simple tricks. Ah, but one thing did stick out. She opened a portal of some sort and tossed an innocent pegasus into it. Where it led, I do not know. But a unicorn by the name of Magicon saved the poor mare. And to my knowledge, it was Springer's idea to have Trixie do a magic show."
 
Dusky continued to study the earth pony. Like a statue, he stood in front of the door, completely still. It was only when the portal was mentioned that Dusky showed any reaction. He raised an eyebrow. This was useful information. When the name of Magicon was mentioned, Dusky's ears seemed to twitch. He licked his lips. Plainly, this incident was what Springer had in his own twisted way, alluded to earlier. Trixie had managed to open the portal... And, perhaps... Magicon had as well? Dusky's eyes glimmered dangerously and with a curious intensity as Lapis continued talking.
 
And now for the last question. It seemed out of place. Not at all what he expected. But it was answer or fail. He thought about it long and hard before he answered. "Something beautiful, eh? Very well. The smile of a young pony is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen in all my days of living. My dearest companion Asteria presented me that smile. She's so easy to make happy, but all the same, it is beautiful just to see her happy."
 
Dusky waited, unmoving. Like a cat watching a bird peck for worms, he watched Lapis as the earth pony pored over the answer to his last question. After a number of seconds had passed, a smile began to appear on Dusky's face. He licked his lips and, for just a moment, looked like he would leave his position at the door. He began to lean, just slightly to his right side, as though he had an injured leg. His smile continued to grow.
 
When Lapis finally spoke, Dusky shook his head softly as though attempting to wake himself from a dream. At first, his visage remained cloudy, but as Lapis continued to talk, Dusky's intensity faded. The glimmer in his eyes dulled. The smile went away. His leaning form stood upright. Replacing all of this, for some moments, was a deeply troubled expression, it was as though the shadowy pony was struggling to understand something, poring over a puzzle of great complexity. 
 
"Ah, but of course, I hear tell the most beautiful thing in all of Equestria is Princess Luna, mistress of the Night itself." he said with an unusual longing. Despite what he said about a foal's smile, the Princess of the Night was somewhat more appealing to the eye. He'd never seen the princess in person, but that did not detract from the one time he had seen her at a distance at the Festival of Dreams a month back. So the memory was rather fresh.
 
Dusky looked away for just one moment as Lapis mentioned Luna, and when he looked back, his eyes, for once, no longer had their characteristic sleepy appearance. Instead, they seemed almost normal. He sighed and it seemed as though the weight of the world fell from his shoulders. Slowly, he walked away from the door. He stopped right in front of Lapis and sat down on the floor in such a way that his eyes were level with the earth pony seated on the bed. He then spoke, calmly and with no hint of his earlier demeanor.
 
"Yes... Luna is indeed the most beautiful thing in all of Equestria. Not only this, but... You are an interesting pony, Lapis. My apologies if my earlier questions insulted your intelligence, that was never my intent. With that said, you answered them well. Not only this, but... Your answer to this last question... It reminded me of a thought, something that I've often wondered in my moments of silent meditation. Hearing of your companion, perhaps it is a thought that you can help me with. This conflict... Long have I sought its resolution."
 
Dusky nodded. "Before I ask you anymore questions though, I will, as agreed, tell you more of what I know. You see, Trixie... She took something from me. This thing was.. A book... A book of magic. It is one of great value. It was supposed to be returned, but it never was. You see... It was with this book that she was able to increase her power to the level that you witnessed in the show. Opening a portal..." Dusky frowned. "There is something else. There is a thief on this train, Lapis. She wants to steal something that doesn't belong to her. Now... I think I've said enough. I have one more question for you, just one."
 
Dusky sat silently for a moment, deep in thought. When finally he spoke, his voice was distant, wistful. "Lapis. I can, if only vaguely, sense in you a kindred spirit. Like me, you are a pony that has traveled far and seen many things in your time. And, yet, also like me... If you are asked to name something, just one thing, that is beautiful... Ah well... You named two beautiful things, but... To me... There is a connection..."
 
Dusky sat in silence for a few more moments before continuing. "Lapis, imagine, for a moment, a world..." Dusky hesitated, but he continued. "Imagine a world where the there is no more suffering... Where... Everything is perfection itself. A world in which nearly all of your dreams are realized completely. A world in which there would be nothing holding you back, no inhibitions. The greatest adventures would be yours. The greatest knowledge. The greatest experiences. Imagine a perfect world. Perfect, except in one way. Imagine this perfect world without being able to see Asteria's smile ever again. This world. Would you live in this world?"
 

-------------------------------------------

 
What a strange way to start a conversation, Water Opal thought to himself, using every mouth muscle he had to keep his mouth shut. "I-I do like tricks like those, ev-even if it was quite...surprising."  
 
Springer smiled and his eyes twinkled. He seemed to derive a considerable amount of pleasure in Water Opal's surprise. He leaned back in his chair.
 
"Had you really been waiting for somepony to come by so you could do something? You must be very determined."
 
Springer raised his eyebrows and sat up in his chair. "Determined?" His smiled never faded, but the word was spoken with an edge. "Buddy, let me tell you a little something. Determination, that's only what you need if you are trying to... Force your way on the natural order of things." He leaned back. "I'm not determined, I just am. You know? I exist. It was no bother to me to wait here. If nopony showed up, then I would've done what I did anyway. But, since you are here..." Springer shrugged. "It is funny how stuff works sometimes."
 
"I'm one for magic tricks myself," he said, grabbing his book from under the table. He began balancing it on his hoof, grinning, before waving his other hoof in front of it, though clearly to anyone who was looking, he had hit it. A clattering sound was to be heard on the floor, and Water Opal offered an innocent consolidation of a grin and an embarrassed smile. Mostly and embarrassed smile, though.
 
Springer smiled right back at Water Opal and quietly said. "That wasn't too bad, buddy. Practice, practice, practice, you know?" 
 
"I, uh, never said I was good though," he continued, bending down to return the book to his lap, before becoming upright once more. "Were you really holding a bunch of marbles, cards and rings just so you could show anypony who sat down here at night where many ponies are probably asleep...your juggling ability? Wow..."
 
"Well, you are much better than somepony who never even tried. See, now, if you just talked about it but you never did anything, then you wouldn't be any good. But, you try so I think that makes you at least some good." Springer laughed. "As for my toys..." Springer waved his hooves rapidly over the table and the trinkets were gone, all except the two rings.
 
"Maybe I was holding them all here? Or, maybe... I was holding them... Here!" Springer grinned as he reached out a hoof and pulled a card from behind Water Opals ear. "Well, hey buddy, would you look at this! It's your lucky card!" Springer put the card face down on the table. "Wait a sec before you look at it. I wanna show you a little something."
 
Springer picked up the two rings from the table and held them both, one and each hoof. "See buddy, since you did take the time to show up here, you get to see my favorite trick... Take a look at these two rings..." With a fluid motion, Springer moved the two rings as if to hit them together, but there was no sound when the rings collided. Instead, the two rings had seemingly became one. 
 
Springer's smile faded and he spoke with a strange breathless intensity. "See this, buddy, it is a ring, yeah? But, just a few moments ago, it was two rings. I like this trick. It's my favorite trick, because it's so simple but mysterious. Somepony looking at this would say that I made one of the rings disappear, but what if there never really was two rings, just two halves of one... And you only saw one side?" 
 
Springer calmed down. "But, that's not really the only trick that I wanted to show you. Take another look at this ring? Now, tell me, buddy... Are you watching closely?" Springer span the ring on his hoof and then dropped it on the table. The ring continued to spin even after hitting the table, but Springer was gone. Water Opal was alone with his "lucky card". The card was blank. The ring continued to spin.
 

-------------------------------------------

 
He held the hug, as his eyes began to grow rather misty and damp. To him, things began to feel right in the world, having been reunited with his sister.
 
She could remember the last time that she had been hugged. It was by her parents, before they went on the journey that they would never return from. It was nearly eight years ago that they had left her, but she would never forget that hug. The look in their eyes when they knew that it would be so long before they would ever see her again. She remembered it.
 
Even in her darkest moments living alone, she would often remember that hug. She would remember their faces, too. She would imagine what they would have done if they had known that they would never come back. Would they have changed their minds? Or, was their desire to face the unknown so great that they would have gone anyway and left her alone?
 
Many times, she wished that her last hug with her parents had never ended. If time had frozen, and she would have remained in their loving embrace forever. Then, they would have never left her. They would have always been together, until the end of time itself, maybe even beyond it.
 
Just a few hours ago, she had not known what to think of this awkward green colt. But, now, she knew all that she needed to know. He was her brother. The family that she thought was gone forever, it still existed. Electrobolt was her family, and he was there, right there, by her side. 
 
As Key and Electrobolt held their embrace, the memory of her last hug with her parents came flooding back to Key. Along with this memory came a thought, a simple thought. If this hug lasted forever, then she would never lose Electrobolt. He would never leave her like her parents did. Driven by this thought, this hope, she tightened her hug and kept her face buried in his fur. She didn't ever want to be alone again. 
 
The sadness of the memory of losing her parents so many years ago. The happiness of gaining a brother. Both feelings collided intensely within Key, and she was overcome by emotion. Tears silently streamed down her face and into Electrobolt's coat. It was in this state, after a few more minutes, that she drifted into sleep in her brother's embrace. It had been a long day.
 

-------------------------------------------

 
he looked back at Ambrosia when she started talking again. "Oh, I apologise. My name is Daylight. And as for those two young ponies..." he trailed off. Again, he felt rather sheepish and his body betrayed his expression but for a different reason this time.
 
Daylight's sheepishness made her feel bad for putting him on the spot with her question, especially since he had just recovered, but Ambrosia held her expression. She needed to know, and she was willing to make Daylight awkward to get the answer to her question. If he was as honest as he looked, then she was certain that he would just tell her the truth. When Daylight trailed off in the middle of his explanation, she became concerned. If there was one thing that Ambrosia couldn't stand, it was ponies that lied or shied away from the truth.
 
Taking a deep breath, he again looked directly into Ambrosia's eye's and spoke very seriously. "They... they were searching Trixie's room because they were looking for something. Something that Trixie reportedly stole. What the actual item is though... I can't say as I honestly don't know. None of us do. We assume though that it had something to do with what Trixie was able to do in the parlor the evening. It's takes powerful magic to open a portal like that as you saw how exhausted Magicon was after successfully attempting it himself, and Trixie only just broke a sweat. Trixie is up to something... and I'm going to find out what."
 
Ambrosia's eyes opened wide as Daylight spoke to her. She was certain that he had answered truthfully because it all sounded far too fantastic to her ears to be something that could have been made up on the spot. And... It also fit rather well with what she herself had observed about Trixie. There was definitely something wrong with the magician. But, Ambrosia wondered, who was Daylight to believe that he had a reason to find out what Trixie was doing? Ambrosia's serious expression faded into one of curiousity. He had answered her truthfully, but now... She wanted to know more about Daylight.
 
He looked out the window. It was rather late in the evening now as it was dark. There would be not more more that he could do today with everything soon going to bed if they hadn't already from the long and tiring day. He looked back to Ambrosia and spoke again, but this time less serious and more casually. "Umm... I don't mean to be a bother but if it's not to much trouble could I get a cup of coffee? I would have liked to have had one during dinner but I noticed you hadn't put any out and you seemed busy in conversation at the time that I didn't want to disturb you." he said with a friendly smile.
 
Ambrosia followed Daylight's gaze to the window. It was rather dark outside, and she hadn't even had time to clean up the kitchen yet. She stifled a yawn as she realized that she was probably going to be up far later than normal that night to finish her duties. When Daylight asked for a cup of coffee, the timing couldn't have been any more perfect. With a bemused expression, Ambrosia laughed softly before she replied. "Well, your timing couldn't have been any better. I was actually just thinking about a cup of coffee for myself."
 
Ambrosia walked to the dining car. It was right by them, so it didn't take her very long to get there. While they were on their way, she decided to take the opportunity to ask Daylight a number of questions that had been slowly forming in the back of her mind. "Daylight, what makes you so sure that you ever will find out what Trixie is up to? Not only that, but... If she is as powerful as you say that she is, what happens if she tries to stop you? Why would you do something so dangerous anyway?"
 
By the time she had finished her questions, they were in the dining car. She had actually already prepared some coffee earlier for Vim. She figured that the coffee was still good, it had only been a few hours earlier and it was still hot. She poured two cups of coffee, placed them on a platter, and moved them to a table. Then, she waited for Daylight's answers.
 

(OOC: And, yes, Key actually snores when asleep. Loudly. Of course. :P)

  • Brohoof 5

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"This is sort of...creepy," Water Opal muttered, staring down at the bare card and the spinning ring. A card that meant nothing to him, unless it was some kind of meaning to be yourself in that weird movie Kung-fu Pony with the pony named Po, a tongue-twister if attempted to be said 10 times fast. He pushed the card further away and looked at the spinning ring. "He couldn't have," he said, continuing to stare at it, trying to see 2 rings within one, but all he could see was a sphere the spinning ring made.

 

"Why won't it stop," he asked himself, looking around the room and under the table for the pegasus. "And why is he gone. With the tricks he knows, he might as well be hiding in the ring!" He inspected the ring in case this was true, and even though a trick of the eye caused him to merge the ring and a green curtain further down the car, which made him think he saw a green pegasus, his brain trying hard to convince him it was just his eye going out of focus.

 

He leaned back, looking around the empty cart. He decided to stand up and take a few steps toward the door in case something happened. He hoof knocked into the table and he cried out in a muted shout of pain, before he recovered and half limped to the door. The ring, which had been knocked off the table, was still spinning on the floor, without it having made a sound as it landed.

  • Brohoof 4

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As Electrobolt continued to hug Key Gear, his eyes were growing wetter, as tears slowly began to stream down his face. He then began to recall his life back in Ponyville, how he had grown there believing he was born there. Recalling his past, and the voices of the ponies he was around while growing up, one thing stuck out to him. When he was just a young colt, his accent would be completely different from the others, yet he never gave it so much as a second thought. Then, there were his parents. Just like his accent, he never paid much mind about how his parents looked in contrast to him. Now that he was aware of these things, however, he wondered why he never thought about it in the first place.

 

He then, later on in his young age, obtained his cutie mark for playing games. Not just any ordinary games, however. His talent lied in the ability to play video games with relative ease. Not once had he seen any Earth Pony be able to use their hooves to handle things like video game controllers with finesse, yet he believed it to be that he was a special case, that he was different. As soon as he recalled this memory, he thought back to not too long ago, when he broke into Trixie's room with Key. He had noticed that she had used her hooves to handle the lockpicks with finesse. Now that he was aware that Key Gear was his sister, he then began to think that perhaps his ability to use a video game controller with ease wasn't just him being a special pony, but rather, it ran in the family.

 

As he thought on about this, he felt the filly tightening her hug on the young colt. Sighing softly, he just continued the embrace, as he was considering asking Key about how she learned to use the lockpicks. He then quickly dismissed the idea, thinking now would be a terrible time to ask her about this subject. So instead, he tightened his own hug on the filly, holding her closer to him. Right now, the filly needed comfort, and he would do everything in his ability to do so.

 

While he continued hugging Key, he heard something as his ears perked up. Looking around while being careful with Key, he wondered what was the cause of the sound. Eventually, he looked down to Key as he realized the source of the noise was her snoring. Sighing with a small chuckle, he carefully moved around to grab the bed sheets and then cover the both of them up. He wasn't about to risk waking up Key Gear by pulling himself out of her embrace, so he simply let her remain the way she is. After tucking both himself and Key in, he slowly lowered his head to give the filly a small peck on her forehead as he whispered, "Good night, sis..." After that, he lowered his head on the pillow and, in a few seconds, wound up falling fast asleep. This time, he dreamed of happy dreams, ones including Key Gear, his sister.

  • Brohoof 5

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When Daylight looked back from the Window, he saw Ambrosia trying to hold back a yawn, and couldn't help yawning himself. He didn't realize how tired he was up until now, and that his head was still bothering him a little from when he he hit it earlier that he decided when he got back to his room he would go straight to bed. There was no time to go over any notes tonight as he needed the rest.

 

When Ambrosia replied, she laughed softly before speaking,. There was something about that laugh that he found... cute. He was pleased to hear that she too was wanting a cup of coffee so they both headed down the train back towards the dining car. It wasn't that far, but he doubted the trip would be a silent one. He was sure he had spiked Ambrosia's curiosity with his answers.

 

Sure enough, she had some. He didn't immediately reply though, as these were no easy questions and he preferred to wait until they were in the dinning car and he had his coffee. When they arrived, she poured two cups for each of them, then sat down at one of the tables. He joined her, and used his magic to levitate his cup and take a sip from it before putting it down.

 

The coffee tasted perfect. it was a perfect balance between sweet and bitter, something he had struggled to get right himself for a long time. "This is some of the best coffee I've tasted." he said to Ambrosia smiling, and levitating the cup in mid air, before taking another sip of it. "It took me quite a lot of experimenting to balance the flavors out between sweet and bitter, and it was imposable for me to reproduce the perfect blend again the next day when I just happened to stumble upon it by accident."

He took another sip before continuing. "Now, as for your questions. I can understand that you would be rather curious considering what little I've told you about my business here an myself in general. So I'll do more then just answer your questions, I'll tell you what you everything you want to know..."

 

Again, he paused, taking another sip of his coffee before starting with his explication. He also scanned the room with his eyes. It was empty, except for them. Everyone else would be in their rooms by now... including Trixie. "My name is Daylight, as you already know. I am a Detective that works in Manehatten. Key, the young filly you saw earlier hired me to find and object that Trixie stole. She received a unknown note that informed her of the theft and sent a letter to me requesting aid. The note note however, did not say what the object was, which was why you caught the young filly and her friend in Trixie's room. They would have been trying to search for whatever it was that that she had taken, which I will have to ask them tomorrow if they found anything." He paused, once again, to take his notepad and pencil out to write a note to remind himself to talk to the two young ponies tomorrow, while take another sip of coffee. "Oh, I almost forgot to mention. The young colt's name is Electrobolt. I don't know much about him other then the two met on the train and seem to have become good friends quite quickly which is good because Key needs someone to watch out for her." He said while still looking down and scribbling his notes.

 

When he was done writing, he replaced his notepad and pencil in his pocket and continued speaking. "How can I be sure that I will find out what Trixie is up to? The truth is, I can't. All I can do is try and hope that she slips up and leaves a clue behind somewhere. I've read a lot about Trixie and none of it lines up with what happened tonight at the show. It's like she... changed or something..." he trailed off, looking into the distance deep in thought while taking another sip. " I can't say for certain how powerful she is but... nothing of what I read said she could do anything like she did tonight. If she tries to stop me... then she will have to face the consequences. I am a forgiving pony, but I don't take kindly to rudeness and arrogance." he said frowning.

 

"Now, for the final question... why would I do something so dangerous? For the same reason I am telling you all of this now. I am a gentlepony. I value Honesty and Trust above all else. When i got Key's letter... although I admit I was a bit skeptical... a true gentlepony never refuses the request of a young filly in need." And with that, he sat back in his chair and relaxed, drinking the rest of his coffee.

  • Brohoof 4

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When it seemed like he had passed whatever test it was Dusky had set for him, Lapis relaxed ever so slightly. For the time being, the unicorn was just a tad less dangerous. As Dusky walked towards him, Lapis tried his best not to move away. Stony resolve was necessary in this situation, and he had to be on his guard. Perhaps things were slowly moving to his favor. He mentally prepared himself for what may come next.
 

"Yes... Luna is indeed the most beautiful thing in all of Equestria. Not only this, but... You are an interesting pony, Lapis. My apologies if my earlier questions insulted your intelligence, that was never my intent. With that said, you answered them well. Not only this, but... Your answer to this last question... It reminded me of a thought, something that I've often wondered in my moments of silent meditation. Hearing of your companion, perhaps it is a thought that you can help me with. This conflict... Long have I sought its resolution."

 
Lapis nodded to himself. So he had taken the right course of action in mentioning Luna. And it seemed like Dusky might even admire his intelligence. So he had answered the questions correctly. Things were looking up. But the mention of Asteria set him on edge a little. What could she have to do with something Dusky had been thinking of? Whatever it was, it needed to be resolved if Lapis was to move along in what was becoming something of a little game. Lapis carefully navigates the strange questions, and Dusky slowly reveals what was really going on aboard the train. Simple yet informative.
 

"Before I ask you anymore questions though, I will, as agreed, tell you more of what I know. You see, Trixie... She took something from me. This thing was.. A book... A book of magic. It is one of great value. It was supposed to be returned, but it never was. You see... It was with this book that she was able to increase her power to the level that you witnessed in the show. Opening a portal..." Dusky frowned. "There is something else. There is a thief on this train, Lapis. She wants to steal something that doesn't belong to her. Now... I think I've said enough. I have one more question for you, just one."

 
The truth, or as much as Dusky was willing to say for now, was somewhat startling. A book like that could hold much power. The desire to learn as much about it flare up within him, but he fought to keep the urge under control. Now was not the time. He went over the other thing Dusky had said. A thief was aboard the train. And she planned on stealing something, which of course was what thieves did. Lapis went over all the passengers he'd seen. He assumed that all the ponies back at the parlor were all the ponies there were. How many mares had there been? He thought it over. There was Flow, a white unicorn, a blue filly, and there might have been another unicorn mare. Dusky could be referring to any one of them. It could even be Ambrosia, despite the fact she was a member of the staff. Not everyone was who they appeared to be on the surface. He'd be sure to ask once he answered the final question.
 
As Dusky sat deep in thought, Lapis noticed that the unicorn seemed a bit different. Lapis had been so focused on his thoughts that he hadn't noticed earlier. Dusky didn't have as much of the mysterious aura as he did a little before now. He seemed more....pony. But that didn't mean he wasn't still dangerous. But perhaps it meant he was lowering his guard. And when someone lowers their guard, it is easier to acquire information.
 
The way Dusky spoke of kindred spirits and a connection between them made Lapis cock his head imperceptibly. He was similar to the unicorn, even if just a little? Well, something like that could definitely help. The more he could get Dusky to like him, perhaps the faster he could get to the bottom of things. But honestly, at this point, he didn't know what he was doing anymore. What was he trying to achieve? It had something to do with Trixie, but here he was, interviewing, and being interviewed as well, by a completely different pony. He wondered what had happened to the boastful mare.
 
Lapis caught something about Dusky also traveling. That would mean he knew the difficulties of avoiding cities and other ponies. or at least, that was what Lapis hoped he meant. That was what traveling was to him. Just him, Asteria, and the world itself. Nothing else  mattered in life. And of course, the pursuit of knowledge. That inextinguishable urge to uncover all the mysteries of the world. To leave no stone or leaf unturned. To dive into danger just to locate forgotten secrets. It was a thrilling life, especially to a pony who had read about adventure much of his foalhood. Even though in truth he rarely went to ruins and found them to be full of danger and excitement, since usually research just involved studying and questioning ponies, it did not detract from the pure pleasure derived from it.
 
Dusky had been sitting in silence the entire time, clearly aware of Lapis's daydreaming and not willing to interrupt. But now he asked the final question.
 

"Lapis, imagine, for a moment, a world..." Dusky hesitated, but he continued. "Imagine a world where the there is no more suffering... Where... Everything is perfection itself. A world in which nearly all of your dreams are realized completely. A world in which there would be nothing holding you back, no inhibitions. The greatest adventures would be yours. The greatest knowledge. The greatest experiences. Imagine a perfect world. Perfect, except in one way. Imagine this perfect world without being able to see Asteria's smile ever again. This world. Would you live in this world?"


Lapis got misty eyed. It sounded like a dream come true. He could go anywhere, question anyone, learn everything. He didn't care about anything else for several moments as images of a perfect world flashed before his eyes. No more suffering... Perhaps he would never have to eat, or sleep ever again. He could read and study forever and ever into oblivion. And even beyond that, he could just go out into the world and do anything and everything. But then he realized there was a condition.
 
A world without Asteria's smile? What did that even mean? Would she just not smile, or be happy? Well, he'd still have her presence, and he could always find a way to make her smile anyway. There was always a loophole. It was the nature of the universe. Everything had a backdoor, a way out. But you needed to be clever enough to find it. So that would be far too easy. Dusky must have meant a world without Asteria at all. If she never existed, then there'd be no way for her to be brought into the perfect world. And honestly, without that youthful filly, how could the world be perfect? He'd grown accustom to her waking him up early every morning, and the delighted chirp she'd make when a new adventure would begin.
 
Certainly that would be a horrible world then. And the more he though about it, the more he realized it would be awful even with Asteria. Who would want to live in a perfect world?
 
"No, most certainly not." he began, somewhat angry, but he reigned it in the minute he became aware of his demeanor. He had forgotten who was in his presence. An unknown unicorn like Dusky could very well take offence to anger. He cleared his throat. "Terribly sorry about that. It's just that, you have made a somewhat insulting proposition. I'd hate a world like that. And not for the sole absence of my dear assistant. No, for a perfect world is an awful idea. That world may not have suffering or anything to hold me back, but that is what makes life worthwhile. Everyday, I wake up in the morning, and I ask myself, 'What challenges will today hold?' And whatever the answer may be, I charge forward ready to take on life. You see, I love life the way it is, problems and all. It makes me feel alive. If I were perpetually happy, I would most certainly feel dead inside."
 
As he finished, he silently swallowed. He may have made another mistake. But he could not live in such a world. And he needed to make that point clear. He did not want Dusky to think him a coward, always taking the easy way out of things. He was a smart pony, and knew much about life. He did not know what Dusky had seen or done, but unless this were another test, then this unicorn was sorely mistaken to think a perfect world would truly be someplace you could live in. With a cold but measured glare, he watched Dusky for a reaction.

 

But then he remember he had one last question himself. Risking making Dusky possibly more upset or angry, he choose to ask it now. "You mentioned a thief, and specifically referred to them as a she. Perhaps that means you know who they are? If you are willing, and this should be my last question for now, please tell me what you know about the thief and the object she wants." And as he said that, he tried to soften his stare to that of mild interest. By showing too much emotion, he could very well have jeopardized everything. He just hoped it wasn't too late.

  • Brohoof 5

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The coffee tasted perfect. it was a perfect balance between sweet and bitter, something he had struggled to get right himself for a long time. "This is some of the best coffee I've tasted." he said to Ambrosia smiling, and levitating the cup in mid air, before taking another sip of it. "It took me quite a lot of experimenting to balance the flavors out between sweet and bitter, and it was imposable for me to reproduce the perfect blend again the next day when I just happened to stumble upon it by accident."
 
Ambrosia positively beamed at the compliment. Then, she took a sip of her own coffee. It really was one of the better blends that she had made. While she didn't tell Daylight, she had, in fact, stumbled on this particular blend accidentally as well. It had taken her much longer than a day to discover it as well. In fact, it had taken her a number of weeks of careful experimentation. During that time, she had wondered across dozens of different blends that could work for various circumstances, but... The perfect blend had eluded her efforts until the very end.
 

Again, he paused, taking another sip of his coffee before starting with his explication. He also scanned the room with his eyes. It was empty, except for them. Everyone else would be in their rooms by now... including Trixie. "My name is Daylight, as you already know. I am a Detective that works in Manehatten. Key, the young filly you saw earlier hired me to find and object that Trixie stole. She received a unknown note that informed her of the theft and sent a letter to me requesting aid. The note however, did not say what the object was, which was why you caught the young filly and her friend in Trixie's room. They would have been trying to search for whatever it was that that she had taken, which I will have to ask them tomorrow if they found anything." He paused, once again, to take his notepad and pencil out to write a note to remind himself to talk to the two young ponies tomorrow, while take another sip of coffee.
 
As Ambrosia listened carefully to everything that Daylight said, the entire situation made sense to her. Of course, the younger ponies would break into Trixie's room looking for whatever had been stolen. Daylight, because he was a detective, was probably well versed in how to investigate things like the stolen object. Ambrosia reasoned that this probably explained his confidence. While Daylight scribbled in his notebook, Ambrosia made her own mental note to check with the detective the next day and learn what the young ponies had uncovered. As she continued to reflect on what Daylight had said, Ambrosia took another sip of her coffee. Something was troubling her, but she didn't mention it.
 

"Oh, I almost forgot to mention. The young colt's name is Electrobolt. I don't know much about him other then the two met on the train and seem to have become good friends quite quickly which is good because Key needs someone to watch out for her." He said while still looking down and scribbling his notes.
 
Ambrosia remembered the interactions between the young colt and filly that she had seen in the dinner car and then in the parlor car. She also remembered how Electrobolt had carried Key out of Trixie's room with such care. As far as she could tell, the connection between those two was more than that of just good friends. With a mildly amused smile, she realized that Daylight was probably not very gifted at figuring out the motivations of younger ponies. She decided that she would keep an eye on the two younger ponies herself.
 

When he was done writing, he replaced his notepad and pencil in his pocket and continued speaking. "How can I be sure that I will find out what Trixie is up to? The truth is, I can't. All I can do is try and hope that she slips up and leaves a clue behind somewhere. I've read a lot about Trixie and none of it lines up with what happened tonight at the show. It's like she... changed or something..." he trailed off, looking into the distance deep in thought while taking another sip. " I can't say for certain how powerful she is but... nothing of what I read said she could do anything like she did tonight. If she tries to stop me... then she will have to face the consequences. I am a forgiving pony, but I don't take kindly to rudeness and arrogance." he said frowning.
 
Ambrosia took another sip of her coffee. She didn't know enough about Trixie to be certain of whether or not the showpony was different, but she certainly knew that Trixie was out of control, out of control and dangerous. While Daylight sounded confident in his abilities to bring Trixie to justice, Ambrosia had her own doubts. When the darkness had been in Trixie's room, the showpony, herself, had been nowhere in sight. To Ambrosia, if Trixie wasn't there then how could she have been responsible. There had to be something else... Some other force at work on this train. She took another sip of coffee and dwelled on her thoughts. She looked down into her glass of coffee with a concerned expression.
 

"Now, for the final question... why would I do something so dangerous? For the same reason I am telling you all of this now. I am a gentlepony. I value Honesty and Trust above all else. When i got Key's letter... although I admit I was a bit skeptical... a true gentlepony never refuses the request of a young filly in need." And with that, he sat back in his chair and relaxed, drinking the rest of his coffee.
 
She looked up from her coffee. His words had made an effect on her. Detective Daylight was every bit as noble and honest as even the finest member's of the royal guard. He was willing to risk his life for a filly that he barely knew to contend with a force that he had only the barest of details on. While she maintained a neutral expression, she silently admired this detective. 
 
For just one moment, she looked saddened but then the moment passed. Her earlier concerns had come back to her, and she was even more worried than before. Daylight was such a good pony that the thought of him being in over his head caused her expression to cloud. To Ambrosia, the circumstances surrounding the entire mystery seemed to be both too convenient and too ambiguous. She knew that Daylight wasn't lying to her, so there had to be something wrong with the situation itself. Something... A number of things didn't make any sense to her. 
 
How could Key have hired Daylight to find an object she claimed ownership over without the filly knowing what the object was. Who had written the original anonymous note? How could they have known about the theft if it was Trixie that stole the item? Why did they send an anonymous note to a filly instead of just alerting the Royal Guards and providing them with all of the details. Why did everything seem to have happened in just the right way to bring both Key and Trixie to this train? 
 
Ambrosia took a sip of her coffee and then rambled in her own pleasant fashion. "Daylight, you are a really admirable pony. The way that you are helping Key. That's something that only a true gentlepony would do. But, now that I know all of this, I'm a bit worried. Before you told me all of this, I just knew that there was something really wrong with Trixie. I didn't figure that all of this other stuff was happening too." Suddenly, Ambrosia shivered, and she looked around. She didn't see anypony there, but she had the distinct feeling that they were being watched. 
 
Turning back to Daylight, she smiled and continued to talk, but she had changed what she was going to say. "Daylight, speaking of your young friends, you know... Well, you remember back in parlor car, I think I mentioned that we would need to talk about the little incident that you walked in on. Well, now seems like as good of a time as any. Basically, I had walked in the parlor car and your young friends were getting rather overly affectionate with one another. I think that they may be a bit more than good friends. You might want to keep a good eye on the both of them, to keep them out of trouble with Trixie and with themselves." Ambrosia stopped to finish off her coffee before continuing.
 
"Don't worry though, I'll help you to keep an eye on them. I get the sense that you aren't very good with young ponies." She winked at him. "So, maybe tomorrow when you ask them about their adventure in Trixie's room, I could join you? For now though..." She looked around at the dining car. "I have quite a bit of work to do... I'm not too proud to ask for help, but I'm afraid of what Vim would say if he caught me putting passengers on kitchen duty." She laughed lightly, but her laugh was tinged by distraction. She still felt as though they were being watched.
 

-------------------------------------------------

 

"No, most certainly not." he began, somewhat angry, but he reigned it in the minute he became aware of his demeanor. He had forgotten who was in his presence. An unknown unicorn like Dusky could very well take offence to anger. He cleared his throat. "Terribly sorry about that. It's just that, you have made a somewhat insulting proposition. I'd hate a world like that. And not for the sole absence of my dear assistant. No, for a perfect world is an awful idea. That world may not have suffering or anything to hold me back, but that is what makes life worthwhile. Everyday, I wake up in the morning, and I ask myself, 'What challenges will today hold?' And whatever the answer may be, I charge forward ready to take on life. You see, I love life the way it is, problems and all. It makes me feel alive. If I were perpetually happy, I would most certainly feel dead inside."
 
Dusky's eyes flickered for just a moment when Lapis began in anger. A smile formed on his face, but he said nothing. He was mildly disappointed, but his respect of this earth pony had been justified. Lapis had hidden nothing from him and had spoken with the true strength of his own conviction, respectfully and without fear or trepidation. Dusky silently continued to listen.
 

"You mentioned a thief, and specifically referred to them as a she. Perhaps that means you know who they are? If you are willing, and this should be my last question for now, please tell me what you know about the thief and the object she wants."
 
Dusky shook his head and spoke carefully while maintaining his smile. "Hmmmm... I do know who she is, of course. You see, she is no ordinary thief... She is one of the greatest thieves in Equestria today. Yet, you must understand, she is so young that I can hardly feel comfortable in exposing her identity to you. This is especially true since she is working, onboard this train, with a detective that has only a dim knowledge of her unfortunately troubled past and her equally troubled motivations. As for the object that she wants..." Dusky's voice trailed off.
 
After a few moments of sitting in silence, Dusky stood up and sighed. "And... I believe it is time for me to make my investigation of the train engine. Lapis..." Dusky nodded his head towards the earth pony as a sign of respect. "You are, I think, one of the more interesting ponies that I have ever had a chance to encounter in my years of existence. It has been a pleasure to speak with you, and I hope that this is not the last time that we speak in this fashion."
 
Dusky strode to the door and raised a hoof to the door handle as if to open it, but he stopped, hesitating. After a few moments, he lowered his hoof to the floor and turned back around to face Lapis. "Ah... Well... Perhaps... Perhaps I should tell you just a bit more... I think that, for your patience, I owe you this much... The object that the thief wants is the book that I mentioned earlier. The one that Trixie stole."  
 
Dusky hesitated again, his eyes seemed both distant and indecisive. But, he continued speaking. "Lapis. The true value of this book is not found in the magic that it possesses, though that is considerable. The true value of this book is contained in a story that is hoofwritten in the margins of the pages. The story is communicated intermittently throughout the book and written in a hectic, scrawled style as though it was written by a pony that had been driven mad."
 
Dusky took a deep breathe. He then exhaled slowly. "You say that you would like to understand... You would like to know more about the object that this thief wants? Well, then, I believe it is essential that I should share the essence of this story with you. I think that this would serve a dual purpose. Your understanding of the object would increase, but also, if you should find the object, then you will be able to look within its pages and see this story for yourself - supporting my claim of ownership."
 
Dusky paused again, and his eyelids drooped slowly, and his voice sounded vacant. It was as though he was recalling a dream only dimly remembered. "This story takes place a... Very long time ago. Far before even the events that we celebrate today on Hearth's Warming Eve. Equestrian civilization was, at this point, remarkably primitive. Wars, dragon raids, attacks by primordial monsters... All of these were common occurrences. During this time, ponies were divided into minor agricultural settlements and trading towns. Occasionally, these settlements and towns would even make war among each other."
 
"Into these circumstances, a number of guardians naturally arose. These guardians were ponies gifted with tremendous power, and they chose to use their power to watch over certain areas - defending the area from threats both from within and from without. There was no formal alliance between these guardians. They just naturally arose whenever one of them was strong enough to make a difference for the better."
 
"Among these guardians there was one that was substantially powerful than all of the others. He was a pony, but he was no ordinary pony. His strength and endurance were without compare. His intelligence placed him among the greatest geniuses of his time. His speed was legendary. His grasp of magic and his ability to perform even the most difficult spells were at a level only matched by few since that time. The territory that he watched over became the safest region in Equestria. To the ponies within this place, he was more than a hero, he was a demigod. All throughout Equestria, he was respected by ponies and feared by their enemies."
 
"All of this came to an end on one dark day when a dragon was sighted making its way to the central town in the region. This dragon... It was incredibly large, strong. Easily among the largest that existed at this time. When the guardian responded to the threat, he quickly found himself pushed to the limits of his abilities. To protect the town, he had to use some of the most powerful combat and defensive magic available to him. After a furious battle, he succeeded in driving the beast back, but... His victory came at a great cost. He was wounded, badly. His wings were scorched by the beast's putrid fire and no healing magic seemed to be able to undo the damage. In such a state, he would never be able to fly again."
 
"The enemies of the guardian... They sensed his weakness. Slowly, the peace that he had maintained through strength began to crumble around him. With each passing day, his ears were filled with heartrending stories of death and despair. He did his best to continue to defend, but he was too weak to be nearly as effective as he once was. He sought out the help of other guardians and many of them responded. However, none of them were nearly as powerful as he was. The death toll continued to rise. His sanity began to crumble."
 
"Finally, in desperation, he searched out and found a magical spell that he could use... This spell would turn him into the very thing that had proved itself to be more powerful than he was - a dragon, massive and mighty. Well, he performed this spell. It worked. He became a dragon even larger and more terrible than the one that had wounded him so terribly. His first action, of course, was to return to his home - the central town in this region. Unfortunately, when the residents of the town saw him approach in his new form, so massive and terrible, they panicked. All available guardians within the region were summoned, the town watch was mobilized, and he was attacked. The very ponies that he had sacrificed so much to defend... They were now attacking him with their full force and fury."
 
"Well, he was no longer a pony. He was a dragon. The essence of the creature that he had became, it overwhelmed his natural inhibitions. He lashed out against the defenders with all of his strength. He destroyed them. In a mad rampage, he laid waste to the town, slaughtering the defenders and so many others. It was... An ironic tragedy. When he regained his sentience and saw what works had been wrought by his power, he descended into a deep madness. For some years, he existed in this state, avoiding ponies and taking out his fury on lesser dragons. At a certain point, he regained enough consciousness to make an attempt to undo the spell that turned him into the monster to begin with. It was then that he discovered his ultimate folly. A dragon could not use magic."
 
"The realization both broke him and sobered him. Knowing that his own magic would not hold the solution, he began to search, to listen for anything that he could discover that could help him to return to what he had once been. He needed to find a higher level of power - an external magic that he could harness. After some time, he found this thing. Hidden away, deep in the wilderness, was a place... A place where an incredible shapeshifting being lay hidden, locked away. This guardian... He resolved that if he freed this force, it would feel entitled to grant him just one request - to restore him to his original form and to free him from the dragon that he had become."
 
"After years of searching, he found the place where this creature lived. However... As massive and strong as his form was, he was completely unable to break or even damage the door that held the creature in captivity. Instead, he had to use his knowledge of mechanical systems to open the lock that held the creature in. His large size was perfect for the task of opening the massive door, and he eventually overcame the complex lock and released the creature. As the massive door began to slide open, he was filled with such hope as he had never felt in many, many years."
 
"But the creature that his eyes beheld... Was like nothing he had ever seen before. It was massive... Even larger than he was... It seemed to be composed of uncountable writhing fibers of some unknowable substance, each one also being composed of the same. The pattern appeared infinite. There was no end to the depth of the terrible writhing, wriggling mass of the creature. As it shambled towards him with a freakish, convulsing snail-like movement, he was gripped by a terrible fear as he realized something. This monster, this disgusting beast... It was mindless. It existed purely on instinct. It could not grant his wish and, to it, he was prey. He fled, leaving the creature to its own devices."
 
"From a distance, he looked back in time to see the creature laying waste to a small trading settlement. The ponies were... Totally useless to defend themselves. At the very sight of the creature, they would lose their sanity. Some of them would run screaming in mad terror. If they were armed, then some would kill themselves with their last shreds of sanity, just to avoid the fate of the madness. Others would stand still, overcome by madness and horror... Only to be devoured by the writhing monstrosity."
 
"As the guardian watched this scene develop, he was overcome by a sense of guilt. It was happening again. The same thing. In his desire to return to normal, he had unleashed a power that he could not control. Now, innocent ponies, the ones that he was meant to protect, they were being slaughtered. A fury rose up within him. He would not allow this to happen again. He took to the sky, soaring as fast as he could and at a tremendous height. After a short time, he was ready. He descended at an angle, directly towards the creature and bared his mighty claws."
 
"He hit the creature with so much force that they were both carried at some distance away from the town. Seeing that he was clear of the village, he unleashed a blast of dragon-fire that was so intense that it incinerated the landscape around the monster. Before the monster could respond, he continued his attacks with a furious sequence of heavy blows and a mighty swipe of his tail. The freakish mass of the monster quivered with pain. It was too large to dodge the blows and its response had been delayed because it had never before experienced an opponent of such power and intensity. Most would go mad at the mere sight of it, but this dragon seemed immune. The monster was stunned by the power and speed of the attacks. The dragon seemed tireless."
 
"When finally the monster began to fight back, it struck out at the dragon with dozens of massive, sharpened coiled tendrils. Like massive threaded needles, they ripped into the dragon's hide as though it was a paper construct. They tore through the dragon, inflicting horrendous wounds. Yet, the dragon kept fighting. The guardian poured all of his fury into this one fight. The monster was impressed, but as it was no more than an instinctual creature, it was also nonplussed. Eventually it would break this dragon. And, eventually it did. There reached a point where the guardian's form was so ripped and mangled that it began to fail him. The dragon was losing the fight."
 
"After nearly an hour of combat, the guardian was down. The monster had won. It was wounded, but its wounds were nothing compared to his. He had been mortally wounded. His wings were broken. His body mangled and twisted. His dragon form was dying, he would never become a pony again. Again, he had been defeated by a stronger power. Turning his eyes to look at the settlement, the guardian took comfort that the survivors had managed to evacuate during his fight. Darkness overtook his vision. But... This darkness didn't last for long. You see, the creature... Impressed by the power of its foe, chose to merge with the dying dragon."
 
"The guardian was not only restored, but he had gained the ultimate power. He could shape-shift into anything. His magic was completely restored. He was more powerful than he could have ever imagined. He caught up to the ponies that had evacuated from the settlement and began to live among them. For many years, he dwelt like this. He experienced life as he never had before. Happiness, sadness, love, loss - he dwelt among them as a normal pony. For once, he was content."
 
"As time went on, though, he began to have unusual episodes at an ever increasing frequency. He would seemingly fall asleep when he was alone, and he would wake up in a different location. Ponies around the town began to speak of his strange sleepwalking episodes. They became worse and worse. At the same time, disappearances began occurring around the town. Slowly, the guardian began to suspect that he was the one responsible for the disappearances. His suspicions were confirmed one day when he came to and found himself standing over the unconscious and badly injured form of a pony, a mare, that he had held dear to him... Horrified by this, he took her to safety and immediately left the town."
 
"He suspected, but he could not prove, that the monster that had merged with him was able to take over his mind at will. Lacking a mind of its own, it would use his faculties for its own purposes. Journeying far in search of answers, he finally found a book of ancient and powerful magic. In this book were a few pages that spoke of the monster and its origins. Through this book, he was able to learn that the monster was, indeed, a type of parasite. These few pages also provided a spell that could be used to separate the monster from its host."
 
"However, even while he continued to gather information about the monster, its traits, and its power, he continued to lose control over his actions. For the safety of ponies everywhere, he chose to banish himself to the farthest reaches of the Frozen North. The journey was long and it was tedious. The monster could, of course, sense his intentions and it fought him the entire way. He was focused on his destination though, and after many months of travel, he reached a mountain... This mountain held a cave. He journeyed... Deep into this cave... It was there that he had decided to finally end his torment. To remove the monster. To restore his badly wounded dragon form, and finally, to die of his wounds."
 
"When he had gone as deep into the cave as he could. He began the spell. Focusing his power... He was able to recreate the massive door that had once contained the monster. Focusing harder... He could begin to feel the monster leaving him. He could also feel his magic slipping away once more, but he didn't care. Soon, he was just seconds away from success. This was when... The monster made one, last minute, attempt to remain united with its host. It seized control of the guardian's mind and corrupted, warped the spell. What was supposed to be a spell of order became a spell of chaos."
 
"In a split second, the very fabric of reality was shorn for miles in the area around the cave. The pony, the dragon, and the monster all shattered into the very essence of each form before recombining. Now, at once, all three forms existed independently and... Yet... None of the three forms existed. The monster, it was partially banished from this world. Now, it sleeps - a sleeping horror. The pony... Slept a dreamless sleep for eons, and... Is now, still asleep. The dragon... Lurks deep within the cave in the Frozen North... The wounds that it suffered in the battle with the monster are still open, hurting. It should die and fall... But it was rendered immortal by the corrupted spell. All three forms are now transitory... Lurking between the fabric of dreams and reality..."
 
Dusky cleared his throat. "Lapis, forgive me for talking so long into the night. This story... This story from that book... You know... I have read it... So many times, and yet... It still affects me. Within the book, you will find this story. It is written in an older dialect of the language that we now speak, but you should be able to follow it. If you come across this book, I would very much like to have it again. This book... The story of the guardian. It is the reason that I hold the views that I hold, and that I dream of a perfect world."
 
Dusky turned back towards the door and reached for the handle again before stopping for a second time. "Lapis, you will... I think, probably not agree, and I can respect this... To me... The key observation from this story is that, ultimately, it was not the guardian's fault that he fell. Think about it. If he had never been needed, if ponies had been able to protect themselves, then he would have never fallen. He would have lived a normal happy life."
 
Turning back towards Lapis, Dusky spoke with an energy and conviction that was rare for him. "To me, this story... It represents a warning to us all. If we fall into the trap of appreciating and defending weakness... Appreciating minor pleasantries because they bring us comfort. Defending and teaching those that are unable to defend and teach themselves... Then, we... The strong, the wise, the intelligent, the fast... We will all be kept back and placed into danger by those that are less capable than us. They will lead to our destruction." With that final admonition, Dusky turned, opened the door, and went to resume his duties as an engineer. 
 
Dusky and Lapis had been speaking for a remarkably long time. It was now into the early morning hours of the next day. 
 

OOC: Yeah so... Sometimes you just start writing while listening to Hans Zimmer scores on loop and... Heavens... This kind of stuff happens. My apologies for the length, but I hope that the read was, at least, mildly enjoyable. Tomorrow (IRL and in the RP), daybreak, and interesting things happen. Interesting things that don't involve me writing another insane wall of text. So, everypony should congratulate Berry Pie (Lapis), he unlocked the extended cut scene.

  • Brohoof 7

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Lapis listened and digested Dusky's words. The thief was young, so young that the unicorn did not wish to reveal her identity. To Lapis, that was a telltale sign that the mare in question was a filly. Why else note that she was young? He had no idea how old Flow was, but she couldn't be too much younger than himself. Ambrosia was certainly not a filly, and that white unicorn seemed to be around his age as well. The only filly on board the train was the young earth pony. And she seemed to have something to do with that goldenrod unicorn. He had seemed the inquisitive sort perhaps. It wouldn't be too far-fetched to think he was a detective. Of course, Lapis would never have come to that conclusion on his own without the subtle influences of Dusky and what little he had seen of the other unicorn. The lanky stallion did not correlate to what Lapis thought of when someone mentioned a detective, but you never judge a book by its cover.
 
Lapis waited for Dusky to continue after he had trailed off, but he instead got up and headed for the door. Somewhat resigned, Lapis nodded his head by way of goodbye. Dusky was a busy stallion, and had to attend to his duties. Though disappointed, Lapis understood. He just wished he could learn more. He truly hated cliffhangers.
 
But lucky for him, his wish was granted in a manner of seconds. And so it was revealed that the mention of the book was not entirely pointless. The thief wanted the book. Clearly she thought she could acquire power or something from it. Why else steal something like that? And it was truly ironic that it would be stolen from a thief. He wondered if the blue filly, whom he was partially certain was the thief in question, knew that Trixie had stolen the book in the first place and if there was any truth to 'honor among thieves'.
 
Dusky hesitated, so Lapis assumed that meant he was finished. He had enough information to go on anyhow. In the morning, he'd introduce himself to the blue filly and try to learn a little about her. And perhaps he'd talk to the unicorn as well. Sudden, Dusky resumed speaking. Lapis had thought he had already left, so he was mildly startled. Dusky seemed to barely make a sound when he wasn't speaking.
 
As Lapis listened, he mind kept drifting back to the filly. He hated having to wait sometimes. When a thought comes into his head, he likes to charge right into it and take it on immediately. But he still heard that the real value was the notes written within the book. Surely the power contain within the pages was worth more, but what Dusky said seemed to contradict that.
 

"You say that you would like to understand... You would like to know more about the object that this thief wants? Well, then, I believe it is essential that I should share the essence of this story with you. I think that this would serve a dual purpose. Your understanding of the object would increase, but also, if you should find the object, then you will be able to look within its pages and see this story for yourself - supporting my claim of ownership."

 
Honestly, Lapis did not know whether or not to return the book to Dusky, even if he did own it. This book probably held much power. Although, the world hadn't ended yet. So if Dusky had owned the book previously, he probably had not used it for some evil purpose. So, if Dusky could in fact prove his ownership of it, Lapis could not see anything wrong with returning it to him.
 
And so Dusky began his story. Lapis listened very carefully to his tale of war, and dragons, and ancient times. All that he said to Lapis was so very new to him. Lapis pulled out his notepad and flipped to a blank page. he wrote down every single thing Dusky said. There was not too much written of those times in the history books, so nothing really collaborated Dusky's tale. Only the book in question would. If the story was to be found on those pages, then Dusky was telling the truth. And if not, then perhaps he'd keep the book for himself. Surely a museum would gladly take it off his hooves. But Lapis just hoped what Dusky spoke was the absolute truth. One, that would mean a record of very ancient times existed, and two, Lapis would feel better about the whole ordeal if he could just give the book to someone else. Something told him that the book was dangerous to the normal mortal.
 
Lapis was very tired, and did not feel like going over everything tonight. But he had written down the entire story as a precaution. With it safely down on paper, he would not forget, and he could easily show it to anyone else. Dusky had begun to leave again, but stopped once more.
 

"Lapis, you will... I think, probably not agree, and I can respect this... To me... The key observation from this story is that, ultimately, it was not the guardian's fault that he fell. Think about it. If he had never been needed, if ponies had been able to protect themselves, then he would have never fallen. He would have lived a normal happy life."

 
Lapis tilted his head perplexed. "That is an odd observation. Life simply happens. And if this guardian felt it was his job to protect the ponies, it was his own fault. No one said he should have protected them. Truly, sometimes you must be selfish and care only about oneself. I myself would gladly have protected the innocent ponies, for it would be interesting to be a great hero. But of course, those are just silly fantasies. It is fun to dream about the past, and the heroes too, yes?" he replied dreamily. Sleep had set in half way through the story, but he had remained alert enough to get it all down on paper. Now, with nothing to keep him awake, his eyelids fluttered briefly, and he yawned as well.
 

Turning back towards Lapis, Dusky spoke with an energy and conviction that was rare for him. "To me, this story... It represents a warning to us all. If we fall into the trap of appreciating and defending weakness... Appreciating minor pleasantries because they bring us comfort. Defending and teaching those that are unable to defend and teach themselves... Then, we... The strong, the wise, the intelligent, the fast... We will all be kept back and placed into danger by those that are less capable than us. They will lead to our destruction." With that final admonition, Dusky turned, opened the door, and went to resume his duties as an engineer. 

 
Lapis was startled awake when Dusky spoke again. He certainly had not expected Dusky to speak so forcefully. He did his best to process what was being said. Unfortunately, much of what was said was lost on Lapis. He sort of tuned Dusky out. It was rude of course, but it was also rude to keep Lapis awake any longer. When the unicorn finally left, Lapis slide the notepad onto the nightstand and shut his eyes. In a matter of seconds, the blue stallion was fast asleep. In truth, he was used to staying up late studying. But without Asteria, he would probably wake up rather late.

  • Brohoof 6

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He was staring out the window again. Sometimes he just couldn't help himself, lost in a self perpetuating time warp that distracted him from time to time. His memories of familiar scenery would draw him into a place no other pony could venture. Berry Nut sighed quietly as he shook himself from the state, turning back to continue dusting off some old books in the Ponyville library. People looked at him with expressions akin to a cross between confusion and concern. What pony in their right mind would take already organized books off the shelf to dust them? He once had this conversation with the head librarian. Berry reasoned that presentation was a large part of why people went to the library. He gave the example of the Canterlot archives to the head librarian, and described a robustly exaggerated scenario where the books were in places no pony could easily reach. Where all the books had thick layers of dust on them that caused everypony within a 20 foot diameter to sneeze, disrupting the calm and quiet atmosphere that was so important to maintaining a peaceful non-disruptive environment. The head librarian relented at this, of course she did.

 

Berry Nut believed in the art of logical explanation. No matter how absurd the action, there could be a reasonable explanation if only for a wanting of perspective. Berry nodded slightly to himself as he lightly dusted the books with a dry cloth, being careful on the book edges so he would not damage the cover. Though he knew sometimes he'd go to far with his reasoning, and go into his shopkeeper haggling mode. In the old days, Berry was quite the haggler when it came to any item he desired in a shop. One shop owner once told him that he could get items from a shop by handing a shopkeeper their own wares and convince them that they needed it so badly that they'd forget it was theirs in the first place. Berry never did such a thing, not even he was so gutsy in his youth. Even now though, as he balanced the book on one hoof and polished it with his rag in the other, he wished he had. So he could have another story to remember.

 

He did this for some hours, losing himself, practically falling asleep in that quiet, when suddenly he heard somepony speak, breaking the spell abruptly. “Excuse me, do you work here?” It was a stallion's voice that Berry Nut did not know. “A patron this far back into the library? Has he never heard of a reference desk rather than bothering busy ponies while they are clearly working meticulously? And his question... do I work here? That is a good question. It doesn't feel like work. It actually feels quite relaxing. Sleep inducing...” He thought to himself, though his expression betrayed only mild irritation, his voice was calm and hallow as he responded. “Yes... yes I do. What do you need?” The pony, taller then him by a few inches, seemed to have white fur and a fair mane of green, along with eyeglasses. He inquired to Berry Nut concerning a book about the history of the Everfree Forest. Berry willed himself to put his dust rag down, and he began looking along the shelves, knowing this particular book to be a bit high up, he excused himself to obtain a ladder.

 

The ladders were typically used rarely, and the head librarian often worried that he would fall, but he wasn't concerned. “If only they knew... I've been through much more frightening experiences then a library ladder. I should respect fear, by fearing what should be feared the most.” He smiled, and coincidentally his expression was timed wonderfully so that this dear patron thought it was a pleasing activity of Berry's to obtain this book. While in Berry's mind he was berating this stallion for his laziness concerning a simple matter of going to the right people for assistance. As Berry set up the ladder and began climbing slowly and methodically, his eyes already catching sight of the book, he pondered to himself. He suddenly realized that he had seen this stallion before. Yes, walking by his home on occasion chatting with a young mare. “Then again, I've seen him with several young mares. He must be popular with them, especially the way this stallion brushes his mane. He must think very highly of himself, or maybe not if he required so much grooming to feel good about himself. Oh to be young and... good looking.” Berry mused to himself as he took his time in taking the book gently and sliding it out with his right hoof with utmost care and precision before hugging it close, and descending. It wasn't pleasant carrying books this way, but soiling history with his mouth always felt wrong to him. Berry reached the bottom of the ladder without incident, and balanced the book on his hoof as he offered it to the stallion.

 

“Thank you so much sir!” The stallion said with an exuberant nod of his head. He took the book... in his mouth, and set it down on the floor. “How... insolent. No respect for knowledge, is a little care to much to ask of these young ponies today?” Berry thought to himself as he resisted showing his displeasure. The stallion took up the book in his mouth and tossed it behind him, it landed on his back. A very clever trick indeed. Before he turned to leave, he stopped, and blinked a few times. Berry was growing socially weak with such a display of hesitation. “Is there something else?” Berry said in that hallow voice that rang with a strength that is unusual for one of his age. It was his no nonsense voice. The stallion tilted his head to the side. “You're a unicorn, right? Couldn't you have just used magic to, you know, kinda get the book?” The stallion spoke confidently. Berry narrowed his eyes slightly and sighed softly. “Lets, discuss your points one at a time, young pony. Yes, I am a unicorn... for your benefit I'll leave it at that. There is no such thing as ~kinda~ getting a book. Unless I ripped out part of it and left the rest of it. Magic isn't to be used in such a haphazard manner where other options are still available and reasonable. I'm a librarian, not restaurant pony. There is no such thing as fast knowledge books. This is a library, and knowledge comes with patience and seeking. You'd do well to remember that. Be more patient in the future when it comes to your knowledge, or you might make a mistake.”

 

Berry spoke in a very parental manner, hoping he sounded tired and old enough to warrant no argument from this stallion. He held back a smile as the stallion gave him a wary glance before nodding and trotting off. Berry sighed in relief. “Another patron satisfied!” He smiled slightly and decided that the head librarian would understand if he left a bit later then usual. He always stayed a bit late. And tonight was no exception. It was dark outside already. He went to the back room to pull on his saddle bag, and before he left he made sure to turn out the lights.

 

Berry Nut casually made his way out of the library. He didn't move like an older pony would normally move. His was an above average paced walk that made him look like he was always needing to be somewhere. As he walked the empty streets of Ponyville, he saw very few lights on. He passed a newsstand and saw a copy of the Ponyville Gazette, the last one, and the paper pony was asleep. He tsked before his horn glowed a faint yellow color, ten bits flipped from his saddlebag and landed in a pyramid pattern, perfectly stacked on the stand with tiny clinks that didn't wake the sleeping pony. He nudged the paper from the stand, and let it slide into his saddle bag, smiling a grin that he usually had when he used his magic when no one was watching, to do things that no one expected. Ever since he was a little colt, he had gotten a kick out of such things. He still did even in his old age. When Berry got home, he fixed himself a glass of water and sat in his chair. A very comfy chair he had obtained in Manehatten many years ago.

 

His house was small, with no really defining features about it besides that there was only two windows. One for the living room, and another near the front door. Both of these he kept curtained with dark fabric. He lit a candle with his horn and finally delved into the gazette. Berry liked to read newspapers with cool water, something about it reminded him that he was retired and here to relax. “What's this? A train carrying that flim-flam filly they call Trixie set out from Canterlot and on it's way to Manehatten? Why, that would bring the train through here. Hmm... I do like trains, maybe I'll go watch it. Bring back memories of my lucky days. Yes that would make me happy. Yes I think I'll do that.” As Berry thought this, a smile crossed his face for a moment. He liked remembering his days when he was more than what he was. A time when riches and prosperity always seemed one innovation away. While he didn't get much success, some of it was exhilarating. “I did have some joint pain earlier today. I need to see that train. Good medicine I think it will be.” He wanted to get that rush of adventure in his bones again, and seeing a train would be just the ticket.

 

 

 

 

Berry checked the time, there was a clock piece right in front of him hanging on the wall for that very purpose of letting him know when it was time to sleep, read, and work. But tonight, his guide would be the gazette. Comparing the time that it was scheduled to pass through, to his clock piece, he reasoned that setting off now would be preferable. “Only a chicken hearted blue blood cares if you're early... he would too.” He said to himself, then frowned. He hated talking to himself. It made him feel crazy, which wasn't a thought he enjoyed entertaining. It made him feel better that there was something wrong with everyone else besides himself. It disturbed him less that way. Berry hastily left his home, but not before stuffing the gazette in his saddle bag.

 

He trotted at a brisk pace, his pelvis started to ache a little but he didn't pay it mind. To Berry, that just meant that his pelvis still thought it was time to sit down, but it would stop aching if only to see that train. To feel his youthful energy return with his memories. A time of innovation, and where sorrow had no lease in the wake of his adventurous spirit and unbreakable willpower. Berry raised his head high as the train station came into view. “A moment in time never looked so wonderfully put together for me. I want this, no, I need this. Let me see myself mirrored in those windows as they fly by, and show me the pony I once was. Whom I sometimes wish was still around.” Berry Nut came to a halt nearby a building, and sat down, waiting patiently with a wistful expression. Waiting to be rejuvenated, his eyes scanned for the train that he was sure would not disappoint him.

Edited by Something Interesting
  • Brohoof 7

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Daylight was glad to see Ambrosia beam at his comment. It made him feel good when he made other ponies happy which was something he always tried to do. While he spoke, he noticed that Ambroisa was listening carefully to what he was saying which made him glad because it meant she was interested to hear his lengthy explanation that sometimes bored other ponies.

 

 

When he finished, he let Ambrosia reflect on everything he had said. It was a lot of information which, when he thought about it, didn't make a lot of sense when he pieced them together, but he didn't dwell on that as if there's one thing he learned in his years as a detective, it was that the only way to understand a confusing situation was to find the connecting information.

 

 

Ambrosia took a sip of her coffee and then rambled in her own pleasant fashion. "Daylight, you are a really admirable pony. The way that you are helping Key. That's something that only a true gentlepony would do. But, now that I know all of this, I'm a bit worried. Before you told me all of this, I just knew that there was something really wrong with Trixie. I didn't figure that all of this other stuff was happening too." Suddenly, Ambrosia shivered, and she looked around. She didn't see anypony there, but she had the distinct feeling that they were being watched.

 

When Ambrosia complimented him, he smiled and looked down at his cup shyly. It made him glad when other ponies praised him but he was too modest to make a big deal out of it. The satisfaction it gave him was enough. He knew he was nothing special and just another good pony in the world.

 

When he looked up, her expression had changed to one of concern and the topic had now moved to Trixie. This was often the price that came when he shared his knowledge about a case to another, concern and worry. Most of the time some already existed in the individual and him talking with them only furthered their concerns. He sighed, as he contemplated about if things would be better if he was more selective about what he told other ponies, but then dismissed the idea as to him, it was a form of lying, and he made sure to always be as truthful as possible.

 

When she shivered all of a sudden and looked around, it puzzled him until he felt the hairs on the back of his neck prick up. He knew this feeling all too well as one that he was being watched, and Ambrosia seemed to sense it too. Looking around the room himself, it wasn't that dark so he could still clearly see everything, and nothing seemed out of place to him. When Ambrosia started talking again, he ignored the feeling for the time being and looked back to her.

 

 

Turning back to Daylight, she smiled and continued to talk, but she had changed what she was going to say. "Daylight, speaking of your young friends, you know... Well, you remember back in parlor car, I think I mentioned that we would need to talk about the little incident that you walked in on. Well, now seems like as good of a time as any. Basically, I had walked in the parlor car and your young friends were getting rather overly affectionate with one another. I think that they may be a bit more than good friends. You might want to keep a good eye on the both of them, to keep them out of trouble with Trixie and with themselves." Ambrosia stopped to finish off her coffee before continuing.

 

When she started talking he remembered witnessing what was the end of... something happen in the parlor between Key and Electro. He had temporally forgotten about it as he had been more concerned about the show and the events that followed. When he heard her say "overly affectionate" and "more than good friends" he was stunned. What else was there going on between them that he didn't know? He sighed and raised a hoof to his head. He had been so wrapped up in the case that he had failed to notice this himself. He hoped that this wouldn't damage the situation they were in too much.

"This is exactly why I prefer to work alone" he groaned softly, and raised his other hoof to his face burying his face in his hooves.

 

 

"Don't worry though, I'll help you to keep an eye on them. I get the sense that you aren't very good with young ponies." She winked at him. "So, maybe tomorrow when you ask them about their adventure in Trixie's room, I could join you? For now though..." She looked around at the dining car. "I have quite a bit of work to do... I'm not too proud to ask for help, but I'm afraid of what Vim would say if he caught me putting passengers on kitchen duty." She laughed lightly, but her laugh was tinged by distraction. She still felt as though they were being watched.

 

"Oh, yes, thank you!" he quickly replied feeling all flustered while removing his hooves from his face. The truth was that he preferred dealing with older ponies as they were more mature and generally more... stable. Smiling to Ambrosia he said, "I would very appreciate it if you could join me tomorrow. You seem to have a knack for dealing with younger ponies." "An extra set of eyes to watch those two would be good" he thought. "I don't want them to get up to any... funny business." He frowned when he thought this, and thought back to when he was a young colt and what the other ponies his age got up to.

 

With her last sentence he took it as it was his time to leave. He got up, drank the last drops of coffee in his cup and replied to her. "I'd better let you go then. I would have gladly offered to help but I wouldn't want to get you in trouble." Day then yawned, and realized how tired he was. The pain in his head was starting to come back slightly as well which told him it was finally time that he got some rest. It was getting rather late and he liked his much needed sleep. "I'd better head to my room now to get some rest, so I guess see you tomorrow then. Try not to stay up too late cleaning though, as you need the rest as much as I do." he said to her in a caring way while smiling. "Goodnight Ambrosia". He then walked over to the exit of the dinning room and was about to open the door when he stopped and looked around the room again. Day still felt as if he was being watched but he could see nothing of interest. Shrugging, he opened the door and walked into the adjacent passenger car.

 

As he approached room 12, his room and opened the door, he heard loud snoring coming from the room next to his, which he was sure was Electro's. "Boy does he snore loud" He said to himself before walking in his room and closing the door. He made sure to lock it as he didn't want anyone walking in on him while he was asleep. He took out what he was carrying in his shirt pockets which were just his notepad and pencil, as well as the notes he had taken with him and put them on his desk. He then took off his shirt and hung it over his chair. He would prefer not to wear them but he needed pockets so that he could carry things in, and the cape was more or less just for show, but he thought it made him look nice and it gave him confidence.

 

Day looked at all his notes that were now sprawled across his desk. "I should go though some of them again at least... but I need the rest." he thought. Before he got into bed, Day got an extra pillow out and placed it in his bed. He then got into bed himself, resting his head on the first pillow and hugged the second pillow against himself with his hooves. He slept much easier this way, epically when he slept in a bed that wasn't his own, if he had something to cuddle with as it gave him comfort and made him feel secure. He continuously kept going over everything that had happened that day until he drifted asleep.

Edited by Dave247
  • Brohoof 5

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"This is exactly why I prefer to work alone" he groaned softly, and raised his other hoof to his face burying his face in his hooves.

 
She didn't react to his remark, but she had definitely caught both the gesture and the words. Ambrosia was not surprised that Daylight wasn't particularly fond of working in teams. He was a detective, so it made sense that analyzing and observing would take priority over dealing with social situations. 
 
He was tactful and polite enough, but Ambrosia reasoned that Daylight was, perhaps, not as good as she was at reading the emotions of other ponies. With all of the things happening on the train, she thought about how this limitation could be a problem for the detective. She wasn't a detective herself, but... She hoped that maybe she could help Daylight.
 
Part of her desire to help Daylight arose from her natural tendency towards doing good things for other ponies. She liked to help other ponies in need whenever she could. However, the other part of her desire to help Daylight was somewhat selfish. Listening to Lapis's stories earlier in that day, she had begun to think about how she had lived a sheltered existence. If she helped Daylight, then it would be something exciting - solving a mystery and working with a real detective.
 

"I would very appreciate it if you could join me tomorrow. You seem to have a knack for dealing with younger ponies."

 
She jumped for joy on the inside. On the outside, she stayed as calm as she could, merely maintaining her smile and answering calmly. "Just let me know when you are going to speak with them, and I should be able to skip away from whatever I'm doing to join you."
 

"I'd better let you go then. I would have gladly offered to help but I wouldn't want to get you in trouble."

 
Ambrosia nodded appreciatively. She was honestly happy that Daylight hadn't made a big deal of it. In truth, she was just as rigid as Vim when it came to following rules and procedures. This was one of the reasons that she had earned Vim's respect so quickly. However, while Vim was blunt and steely, Ambrosia preferred a softer approach. She favored hinting to passengers and hoping that they got the message.
 
Typically, her approach worked well. The only ponies that gave her problems were the stallions that seemed far too friendly for their own good. They would disregard her hints and fall all over themselves to help her. Usually, with them, she was forced to not only be blunt but also, sometimes, downright rude to get the point across. Ambrosia thought about this for a moment... Daylight was a breath of fresh air. There was a certain intelligent gentleness and consideration inherent in this stallion that she appreciated.
 

"I'd better head to my room now to get some rest, so I guess see you tomorrow then. Try not to stay up too late cleaning though, as you need the rest as much as I do." he said to her in a caring way while smiling. "Goodnight Ambrosia".

 
"Goodnight Daylight!" Ambrosia waved at Daylight as he left. It seemed silly, since he was right there, but she couldn't help herself. This detective was not quite like any pony that she had ever met before. He was intelligent, like Lapis and Dusky. He was determined, like Vim. He was dutiful, like Springer had always seemed to be before that day... However, Daylight seemed to have an intrinsic kindness that none of those ponies seemed to have.
 
Ambrosia frowned and her thoughts trailed off in a different direction. Springer had seemed unbalanced all day. He was both more assertive and more random than he used to be. It also didn't seem to make any sense to her that he would have such a fascination with Trixie. Normally, Springer was careful to maintain a certain distance from all of the passengers. Something didn't seem right...
 
She shook her head, sighed lightly, and looked around at all of the work she had left to do. There was more than enough work here to keep her busy for a while. She started working... Washing dishes, wiping down tables, moving things back into place. She stopped after about ten minutes though... She realized something that she had, due to tiredness, missed earlier. When Daylight had left the room, her feeling of being watched had left as well. She shook her head. The feeling had certainly not been caused by Daylight. 
 
Her mind went back to the darkness in the room, but it didn't really match with the feeling of being watched that she had felt while speaking to Daylight. Whatever it was just hadn't seemed nearly as threatening. She shook her head. It didn't matter right now anyway, if she didn't finish the kitchen before Vim woke up, she would have something more important to worry about. She didn't want to damage her reputation with the stern conductor. 
 
She went a bit slower than normal due to her tiredness. It was late into the night before she finished. It was hard to tell, but Ambrosia figured it was now the early hours of the next day. Yawning piteously after having placed the last dish into position, she trotted out of the dining car and towards her own room, 15.
 
Trotting through the parlor car, it looked like Springer had done a fantastic job of pulling everything together. She smiled.  Her smile faded though, when she entered the train car where her own room was. It seemed to be far darker than it should have been. She stopped at the entrance into the train car and peered into the dark.
 
Thankfully, this didn't seem to be the same darkness that she had seen earlier in Trixie's room. Instead, it merely seemed as though the lights were off. When she moved a little to the side, the light from the parlor car seemed to have no trouble piercing the darkness. She took a deep breath and trotted into the darkness. Ambrosia was many things, but she was not afraid of the dark. She didn't have very far to go to get her own room anyway. 
 
When she reached her door, she breathed a sigh of relief. She started to open her room door, but a small envelope in front of room 16, the adjacent room, caught her eye. It's bright white color stood out even in the darkness. It also seemed to have been placed at a strange distance from the door. It was as though somepony had tried to figure what would be the most effective place to put it so that it would be noticed. Her curiosity piqued, she trotted over and picked it up. She carried the envelope back to the parlor car, and opened it in the light. Inside was a small invitation that was hoofwritten with a remarkable, decorative script. "Hmmmmmm....." Ambrosia blinked. She had made the sound, but so had somepony else. She dropped the letter and spun around.
 
One of the shadows in the passenger car seemed to have come to life. As a pair of sleepy eyes fluttered open in the darkness, she recognized Dusky. As he slowly approached her, it seemed as though he was materializing from the darkness itself. When he entered the parlor car, he spoke in his sleepy drawl. "You know. You shouldn't go digging around in other pony's letters." Ambrosia's surprise was overruled by her annoyance. "Dusky. You should know. It's rude to sneak up on other ponies while they are investigating suspicious looking envelopes on a train."
 
Dusky shrugged. "I wasn't sneaking, and... It is hardly my fault that I saw you before you saw me. Yellow, particularly your shade, is not well suited for the darkness. You should dye your fur if you would like to blend in with the night. I recommend a shade of dark purple, very dark... Something akin to the princess of the night... I think that it would match your mane color much better than..." Ambrosia cut him off curtly. "Excuse me. Dusky, what is this?" She picked up the envelope and its contents.
 
Dusky smiled. "You know, Ambrosia, you are up rather late, is there something that is concerning you? Some reason that you are... Investigating?" Ambrosia frowned and narrowed her eyes. "What? Dusky. We are all members of this train crew. If we see something that is unusual, we should look into it. It's the right thing to do. Something that you may have forgotten. Where were you earlier today?"
 
Dusky laughed, an unusual expression for him. His laugh was soft, but in contrast to his sleepy voice, it was cold and steely. It grated Ambrosia's ears. He replied calmly. "Oh that. I was taking a nap. In the caboose. Apparently, Springer didn't look very thoroughly..." His eyes sparkled, seemingly daring her to take the bait. Ambrosia was too tired for Dusky's game. "I see." Despite herself, she yawned. 
 
Dusky's smile faded into an expression that seemed, genuinely, to be concerned. "In truth, I've been rather distracted today... As you know, there have been some rather strange events taking place on this train. I have... In my own way... Been looking into some matters..." He paused as she yawned again. "Ambrosia, I give you my most sincere apologies for disturbing you. It is easily apparent to me that you are tired. That is, actually, the reason that I wrote these invitations."
 
Ambrosia looked incredulous. "Uh huh. These invitations aren't real invitations. They don't say anything about what the invitation is for. And, I don't see how they have anything to do with me." Dusky smiled patiently. "If you are going to be investigating, then you must remember to be thorough. Turn the card over. There is some more writing on the other side." Ambrosia turned the card over. 
 

To the resident of room 16,

 

You are cordially invited to a morning of coffee, tea, and breakfast foods with Dusky Coal.

 
Ambrosia blinked, twice before speaking somewhat loudly. "What?!" Dusky smiled awkwardly, another unusual expression for him. "Yes? It will be wonderful? You can sleep in, and I can feed the passengers and comfort them by explaining the reason for the stop in Ponyville. I will also be able to divert their attention with my own discussions on various subjects." Ambrosia's face betrayed her skepticism. "I'm sorry, Dusky... I didn't know that you could feed and comfort. Well, anyway, have you spoke to Vim about this?"
 
Dusky grinned and responded charmingly. "There are so many things that you don't know, Ambrosia. Not just about me, but about the world, in general. And, no, I haven't spoke to Vim, but I doubt that he would mind. I don't exactly ask for much, and of course, it would be a small break for our hard working cook." Ambrosia was tired of this conversation and rapidly becoming wary of what seemed to be a series of rapid mood shifts in the shadowy pony. "Fine. Goodnight Dusky." She started trotting towards her room, but Dusky stepped in her way. She halted but didn't take a step back.
 
"Please deposit the envelope, neatly, where you originally found it... Goodnight Ambrosia." Dusky walked off. Ambrosia glared at him as he departed. She put the envelope back were she had found it, and finally entered her own room. As she collapsed into her bed, she muttered to herself. "He's like a giant, old, black, one-eyed barncat. Mean... Good for catching mice, crazy as a loon, crazier than that at night, and not much of a pet at all." There was something about the shadowy pony that always put her on edge. Like oil and water, they didn't mix.
 

----------------------------------------

 
As the sun rose on the next day, the train pulled into Ponyville and came to a stop. Vim had already completely his rounds for the day, and spoken with Dusky. He had approved of Dusky's breakfast idea, but he had made a note to check with Springer about Dusky's whereabouts during the prior day. Unfortunately, now, the green pegasus was nowhere to be found. Frustrated with what had been a journey filled with strange happenings and nonsense, Vim decided to leave the train to take a walk around the area of the station. 
 

Berry Nut came to a halt nearby a building, and sat down, waiting patiently with a wistful expression. Waiting to be rejuvenated, his eyes scanned for the train that he was sure would not disappoint him.

 
As he stepped out of the train and looked around, Vim found his attention drawn to a pony waiting nearby. Standing near one of the buildings on the station's grounds, there was an older pony with a dark blue coat. Vim's eyes opened wide, and he cautiously approached this pony. As he closed the distance, the resemblance was more than uncanny. This had to be him, his old friend. In a friendly and inquisitive tone, Vim spoke as soon as he was close enough o be heard. "Berry? Is that you?"
 

----------------------------------------

 
Back on the train, Dusky was smiling broadly. He had set an invitation at every pony's door on the train. However, he would only knock on a few doors. He hoped to be able to speak with some of the more interesting passengers before the others had a chance to awaken. 
 
@@Dave247, Dusky knocked on Daylight's door with gusto. He had been looking forward to this for some time. He wanted to make sure that Daylight received the invitation, so he waited a few more moments and then knocked again before continuing on his way.
 
@@Magicon, Dusky looked down to check the invitation. Ambrosia had put it into place, yes, but it was haphazardly placed. Quickly, he straightened it up before knocking on the door. He then waited a few moments before knocking again, just as he had with Daylight.
 
Dusky debated whether or not to knock on Lapis's door. As much as he enjoyed talking with the highly intelligent pony, he was much to respectful to wake Lapis up so early in the morning after he had kept him up so late with his story.
 
Dusky practically floated to the kitchen. It only took him a moment before he had laid out a suitable breakfast. There was coffee, tea, toast, vegetables, some fruits - all completely unsweetened, just how he liked it. With a deathly grimace, he carefully poured some sugar into a container for any guests with a sweet tooth. He was extremely careful to not spill a single speck. Dusky was not particularly fond of sweeteners.
 
Finally finished, he sat at a table near the middle of the dining car. In front of him was a glass of coffee. A glass of coffee, a notepad, and a quill and ink for writing. Patiently smiling, he waited for his guests to arrive.
  • Brohoof 6

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His right ear twitched as the sound of knocking was heard in the room. Yet Magicon made no response, convinced that it was a figment of his imagination. Yet the second knocking awoke him from his slumber and he slowly rose, uncovering the sheets and stretching his hooves out. Daylight streamed into the room, yet the passing shadows were not seen in the window. The train also wasn’t moving, a sign that they had arrived somewhere.

 

Slowly getting out of bed Magicon saw that his cape was draped on the sheets and part of it fell to the floor. He slowly grabbed it and put it back on top of the bed; he would get it in a moment. Looking out the window Magicon saw the still countryside outside, a few ponies farming and going about their business. He saw the mountains in the distance, reflecting against a clear blue sky dotted with white clouds. He then recognized the cute and quintessential buildings of Ponyville, and it dawned on him that this was the train’s next stop. He had been here numerous times, but had never truly enjoyed it that much. Ponyville was a small country town with simple pleasures: nice for a vacation, but boring to live in.

 

Remembering the knock on the door that had awoken him, he grabbed his cape form the bed, tied it around his neck, and unlocked the door. Peering out into the hallway, Magicon didn’t see anypony and all the doors to the other rooms were closed. Yet, looking down he saw an envelope. Picking it up and returning to his room Magicon telekinetically opened it. His horn no longer hurt and he felt back to his old self, though he didn’t want to try his chances, not knowing how much magic was still left in him.

 

He read both sides of the letter and was quite curious about it. “Why would Dusky invite me to breakfast?” he asked aloud. “This is…unusual. But I can’t be rude; I must attend.” He sighed, rubbed his eyes with his free hoof and proceed to leave is room.

 

He locked the door behind him as he made his way to the dining car. He had to pass through the parlor car which had been restored it its former self, yet Magicon could not repress a shiver as he passed through. The memory of what Trixie did, what he did, and the Frozen North made him feel very cold and uncomfortable. He wished they could leave this car on a siding somewhere so he’d never had to see it again. He didn’t want to be reminded of Trixie’s evils, even if it did mean his heroism.

 

He rushed through the car into the dining car. He immediately smelled the scents of a warm breakfast and coffee. Yet he didn’t see the chef that he had seen last night. He wondered where she was, but made no attempt to investigate. He couldn’t anyway as he saw Dusky sitting in the middle of the car. Magicon sighed. ‘Well, better do it. At least you can see what he wants.’

 

@, Approaching Dusky, Magicon asked, “I see you wrote this letter. To what do I owe the pleasure?”

  • Brohoof 6

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As the sun shone with brightly, the light had penetrated a sleeping Flow's eyes, "Ugh...please....turn the lights off....." she moaned before the light got the best of her "Oh, it's the sun, I should have fixed the curtains before going to bed," She chuckled a bit before noticing something, "Hmm Hang on...S-Something doesn't feel right.....the train....the train's not moving! No! This can't be happening! Trixie might be de-" Her thoughts were drowned out after staring out her window, "Ponyville...but...but- AAAHH Forget it....C'mon Flow, that was just a dream....there's absolutely no way that could actually come true.....sigh.....but I don't get it...why did we stop here?" The next thing the cream colored pegasus noticed is that her mane was all messy, "Ah...bedmane, gotta fix that..."

Before she trotted down the hall, she noticed that there was an envelope on her door, "Eh? What's this?" The envelope read "To the resident of room 5" Flow was curious about it, she thought that it might be from the conductor, thinking that it would explain the stop in Ponyville, but upon reading the card, it surprised her, "E-..Eeeehhhh??!! Y-YY-You are cordially invited to a morning of coffee, tea, and breakfast foods with Dusky Coal. I-...I-Is this....a.....d-...date?" Upon thinking that up, she gave herself a slap before continuing her thoughts "What in Celestia's name am I thinking? This can't be it, We don't even know each other!! Ehehehe..sigh...I gotta stop jumping to conclusions...."

When Flow makes her way inside the dining car, it changed her mood very much, the very smell of gourmet breakfast made her real hungry, "Celestia and Luna! This looks awesome, it really makes me so hungry, Pancakes...and..and eggs...with a hash brown....it's my ideal breakfast!"

As soon as she got her "ideal breakfast" on her plate along with a cup of coffee, she quickly sat at the first table she sees and quickly digged in "MMM...This is so good! Ambrosia's the best!" The great taste of her meal was more than enough to leave a smile on her face.

Edited by Narutardedscum
  • Brohoof 5

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----------------------------------------

 
As the sun rose on the next day, the train pulled into Ponyville
All night... Berry had been waiting there. That train meant enough to him to sacrifice sleep and food. Throughout the darkness he had quietly been suppressing thoughts of going home and sleeping. In fact, several times he randomly panicked when he thought he had fallen asleep right there sitting down. He couldn't risk that, or he'd miss the train's approach. Finally as the sun rose into the next day, before he could groan and sigh bitterly, he saw it. The train at last. He began feeling his old memories and excitement creep up from his innermost soul. He closed his eyes, a rare, genuine smile marking his face as he breathed deeply. The air was the same as it was 5 minutes ago, but now he felt that thrill of anticipation. That same anticipation he had always felt before going on a long quest in his youth. He could feel it now even as the train grew closer, and closer. 
 
He continued to be in this zin like state, he primed his ears, they supplied the noise for his visions and memories. The wheels clattering rhythmically to the invisible beat of adventure and a promise of something new and fresh. That was it. In the back of his mind he reasoned that perhaps he might have been a train conductor, then the thought left as he decided he it surely was the novelty of the experience itself! To become a conductor meant risking that novelty over something that was not promised. That promise? Eternal blissful thrills of adventure. It was his cure to the old age. He breathed in deeply even as these thoughts went through his mind, they soothed him as the sound became louder... but something was wrong. 
 
The rhythm began to falter. Berry hoped he was imagining it, and willed any form of cynicism to flee, because it must be his mind playing rude tricks. Why now! Berry's eyebrows furrowed. "Mrnggph?" He muttered incoherently as he peeked his right eye open as the train began grinding it's wheels. He struggled to keep his memories, but in the thought of the train stopping that meant other ponies would be appearing. He didn't want to face their strange looks and expressions. 
 
 
 
and came to a stop. 
He suddenly began to feel like a rabbit. To stand their doe eye'd while certain humiliation was sure to follow this disaster! "The paper didn't say it would stop, why did it stop? I didn't want it to stop, I just wanted to look, oh for the love of all turnips why would it stop? Dear Princess Celestia... do something!" He thought in frustration.
 
Berry tensed, he hadn't been prepared to deal with anyone. He didn't want to. He felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, and his mind berated him with thoughts that he should have known better than to take this risk. For the hope of reliving some old man's memory. 
 
 
 
As he stepped out of the train and looked around, Vim found his attention drawn to a pony waiting nearby. Standing near one of the buildings on the station's grounds, there was an older pony with a dark blue coat. Vim's eyes opened wide, and he cautiously approached this pony. As he closed the distance, the resemblance was more than uncanny. This had to be him, his old friend. In a friendly and inquisitive tone, Vim spoke as soon as he was close enough o be heard. "Berry? Is that you?"
 

----------------------------------------

 Hundred of thoughts of self depreciation was zooming through Berry's head. Suddenly he heard a familiar voice. It stopped every thought in his head except one. "That's not so bad. At least he has a nice familiar voice." 

 

He looked around, and didn't have to look far. He felt like clearing his throat to try and seem like he was doing something else. For he knew this pony. That rustic face, with the no-nonsense expression. Yes even as a colt, Vim held that expression. "Why is it that the older I get, the more everypony looks like they did when they were young?" He tossed the thought around in his head, but came back with no good answer besides some strange theory that he thought up right then and there that he called Reverse Age Symbolic Sight...  so Berry decided to offer a genuine smile, despite his tiredness. He valued all the friends he had made, and seeing one of them here may not be like a nice train breezing by, but he'd take what he could get after shivering most of the night. It's certainly not what he came for, but Vim didn't need to know that...

 

His face betrayed nothing of his misgivings except a collected smile, though his tiredness was apparent by his bad posture.

 

"Ah ha ehhrmphr. Hello Vim, old friend. What ~are~ you doing here in the middle of nowhere? Some people call it ponyville though, I'm not to picky."

  • Brohoof 7

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Daylight was lying in bed, awake, hugging his pillow tight feeling too lazy to get up. He was thinking about Ambrosia. Never had he met a mare so caring and thoughtful as himself. He grinned into his pillow as he thought about being able to spend more time with her. There was suddenly a loud knock on his door. He groaned and turned over, wondering who could be bothering him so early. When it knocked again he sighed and slowly got up. He made his bed nicely, leaving the extra pillow still in the bed then dressed into his shirt and cape before opening his door and peered outside for the mystery knocker. There was no one there except for a letter left outside his doorway. He picked up the note and took it inside using his magic before closing the door behind him and sitting down at his desk to open and read the letter.

 

To the resident of room 12,

You are cordially invited to a morning of coffee, tea, and breakfast foods with Dusky Coal.

 

What he found most peculiar about this letter was why it was written on two sides. "Wouldn't have it been easier to write the whole thing on the same side...?" he thought, turning the card over and over exclaiming both sides carefully. Clearly, it was an invitation, and from Dusky too. He remembered how Ambrosia was looking for Dusky yesterday and he wondered if she ever ended up finding him. He was unsure why a character such as Dusky who was the train's engineer would want to speak to him but at least he already had one question lined up to ask him.

 

He then got up, ready to leave before looking at his notes that he had sprawled across his desk the night before. He gathered some of the ones he thought he might need for today before shoving it in one of his pockets along with his notepad and pencil as well as the invitation before leaving his room and locking the door behind him. As he looked at the other rooms in his passenger car, he noticed that they too had letters outside them, which he guessed were the same invitations. No one else seemed to be up though so he also assumed that the mystery pony who knocked on his door did not do it to all the doors or only a select few.

 

@@Magicon, @Dusky

As he entered the dinning room, his assumptions proved to be correct. Sitting at one of the tables was the train engineer who he assumed must be Dusky along with Magicon who he assumed Dusky must have knocked on his door too. Approaching the pair he smiled and greeted them both. "Good morning Magicon. I hope you rested well after yesterday's... performance." He said his smile fading slightly for a second before tuning to Dusky. "I assume you must be Dusky, Good morning to you too", he said in the same friendly and smiling way way. He then looked down at the table in front of them. "Is that coffee? May I have some?"

  • Brohoof 5

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