After the Return of Nightmare Night Opera TP
((Also posted by Virga's player at <a href="http://equestriamuck.proboards.com/thread/777/when-canterlot-sleeps">http://equestriamuck.proboards.com/thread/777/when-canterlot-sleeps</a> ))
OOC Date: March 18, 2014
Characters: Virga, Nightshade
Setting: The passing of Firefly induces much introspection
Night had fallen on several hours ago, and the celebrations for the return of the Sisters had quieted down. Canterlot slept, and even the Palace itself shared in this rest. The nightly guards stood at posts, and the servants in the night hours tended to their chores. Tonight was the quietest night in memory, and nothing could have been more perfect for Virga. In the pale moonlight he silently landed, the sounds of his hooves and closing wings bend the only audible thing in the eerie silence. He'd been away, but not too far. Cadence had kept him company for awhile, but now he was alone. A servant greeted him and he requested hot, sweetened tea, but other than that no pony approached him. No guard, no Princess, but most of all, a certain pegaus did not. Virga stood under the moonlit skylight, gazing up at the distance stars. He'd take his tea right there, in such the odd place, when it came to him. Sitting at the usual table would never be the same.
"It's quiet tonight," says Nightshade, appearing, quite suddenly, right beside the pegasus warrior. "Even my contacts are reporting few signs of trouble, as if the Realm itself was in a state of full repose."
Virga's ears turned to the familiar voice, one he hadn't heard in some time. "They sleep, content for normalcy," he said. "I will not sleep." The servant who fetched his tea returned and he quietly asked for the cart to be left where it was; he'd return it himself. "Tea?"
Nightshade helps herself to a cup of tea, nodding gratefully to the servant. "Your place is to guard the Realm during the time of the Sun," Nightshade states. "Even now others watch the world of Night, content in their labours." She looks out over the balcony, surveying the vast stretches of land, all uner the benevolent rule of their immortal Princesses.
Sugar, no creme, no honey, no milk. Virga usually didn't drink his tea this way, but it was a nice change. The pegasus eyed Nightshade, and then the balcony and to the scenery beyond. "My place," he said, "normally with I'd agree, but now I'm not certain. I've been placed on leave."
"I know," says Nightshade, keeping her gaze outward. "The notice passed through my office yesterday. I...understand the reasons behind it." Her posture seems to slacken, just a little.
Virga remained quiet for several moments as he sipped his tea and watched the inactive landscape. He'd been the most open with Cadence, yet even with her he had not shown the extent of how much the news weakened him. He showed nopony this. Fortunately, others had given him space instead of wondering how he could be so emotionless, at least outwardly, about recent events. "I will live."
"As will we all," Nightshade says. "Despite the terrors which haunt the frontiers of our ken, like pale shadows of things yet to come." She turns her head and looks, with great anxiety and anticipation, to the south. "Or the ghosts of broken dreams that never were."
What was to the South? He did not ask, as her words were closer to him than a pony may think. Virga sat down the tea, his wings slackened in a way they never did. "The loss is twofold, the majority is not aware, it was not written within the notice," he said. "The idea had life enough to be a loss although a life never began." And this was something he 'didn't' tell Cadence. And why? She was upset enough, but Virga needed to tell somepony; he couldn't comfortably mention it to Luna, or Celestia, or even to Dash. "She is what you say. We dreamed about this, thought heavily for it. When the Crystal Empire appeared, I thought it would be me, seeing an end in paralyzing crystalisis. Perhaps that dream would have been had life turned this way, but if it did a little foal who will never be born would be an orphan if so." He looked at Nightshade then. "...we would have called her Joule."
For a time Nightshade persists in silence, ruminating carefully on Virga's words. She is deathily still, her mane fluttering about in the night breeze the only hint of movement. "To the south, beyond the Badlands, is a realm rich and plentiful," she says mysteriously. "Winter is only a strange dream there, where summer reigns supreme and the land teems with life and energy. It is called Eskellia, and the ponies there are hardy, but jovial, wont to make merry even during the midweek. It is ruled by a great king...or was." She sips her tea, and for a moment there is something like wistful longing in her.
Or was. That was all too familiar. "To the Southwest, high on Mt. Everfree, once existed the Kingdom of Efrelib, a place always cold and detached from Equestria even before this city's building," Virga replied. "It was a small, monastic kingdom, ruled by an alicorn who abdicated his throne before the rise of Discord." He had his own mysterious story too.
Nightshade turns to face Virga now, intrigued. "Even the official palace records concerning Efrelib are sparse. I fear more may be in places which even I do not have access to." She sips some tea again, pondering. "Why did he abdicate?"
"The King ordered his subjects to spread across the known world," Virga answered before he took his tea. "To share the learnings of the Kingdom, which have been filtered down through the ages. As for the King himself, he went to to the far north and became a hermit who watched the Empire from a distance, never interfering. His Way mingled well with the ponies who lived in those remote parts, but eventually he was forgotten by most records." The pegasus sipped and slowly refilled his cup. "That same King found me after birth, raised me in his ways, and died when I was old enough to fend for myself."
Nightshade's eyes gain a certain brilliance as she reflects on this story. "So, at last, many of the missing pieces in the story of your puzzling origins is revealed," she states.
"I cannot tell you how old I am," the pegasus said, offering the pitcher of tea. "King Orbello knew what I was, and studied me with the same intensity Princess Twilight reads books. There were times when he subdued me into a slumber. Most of my life so far was spent in the time surrounding the rise and reign of Sombra. The world changed every time I woke, and the Crystal Empire's existence is extensive. I may have been born millennia, centuries before Sombra, or a few decades. The armor I wore when I first appeared in Equestria was from the age of Commander Hurricane, but that doesn't adequately date me."
"Yes, I see," Nightshade responds, tapping her chin. "You do not remember your foalhood, then?"
"My earliest, no," Virga said, setting the pitcher down. "But I remember an ancient machine....one I must soon seek."
"A machine?" says Nightshade, piqued. "What do you remember of it?"
"I remember...a chamber, deep in the earth," he answered. "It had a manner of mending on the magical level."
Nightshade nods lightly. "In time, I will have to inquire about this matter, but...it seems prudent to wait a little longer." She gazes out into the night again, thinking about Celestia knows what. "Memories most precious are best considered with great caution."
"I say seek, but I know where it lies," Virga said before he finished his tea. "But...I'd rather have a pony with me when I see this place, for historical recording."
"I would be honoured to accompany you, if you'll have me," Nightshade says, without any hesitation. "History, after all, is within my purview." With that, she steps away from the balcony, turning towards the halls. "I must retire now, for the days have been trying, as you may be aware. Good night, Sir Virga...and take heart."
In truth, he was hoping she would wish to join him for that expedition. As much as he liked Dash, Nightshade was more oriented to such subjects, and there were not many other ponies he could think of other than, perhaps, Red Velvet, who might share that affinity. "I accept," Virga answered. "There is no better short of the Sisters for this venture. Do have a good rest, Nightshade."
"I shall," Nightshade says, bowing politely. She walks down towards the door, vanishing into the palace proper. But the door remains closed.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014