Shortly after Nightmare Night
It is dusk, the time in-between, and in the intermission between the day and night there is ample time for affairs of grave import and secrecy. Thus Nightshade walks along a vestibule of the Throne Room, her attention focused upon a scroll which she levitates before her. Her face is stern and stoic, but her eyes reveal much activity in her mysterious mind.
Diamond_Dancer is sitting quietly in the throne room tonight, peering over a thick tome as she researches infomation for her latest mission. Like most youths doing homework, Diamond is only 'sorta' paying attention to her book. Poor thing looks absolutely bored- which is why her lips twist into a warm smile when she hears someone coming...oh, wait, it's Nightshade. *sigh* She's more of less as secretive as Nettleglum, yet hardly close to being quite as much fun. Still, it pings Diamond's interests (since it's not research) Where does that mysterious mare go...?
Nightshade stops for a moment, magicking her scroll into the shadowy aether where all her effects seem to be stored, and glances around furtively. Apparently, clairvoyant sensation is not within her list of abilities, for she seems to decide that all is clear. Her horn glows once again...but it's not shadow? No, it's clearly starlight, and as she steps between the...between something. She's gone, and not by any of the regular unicorn means. For a brief moment, though, there is a bending of light and shadow at the spot where she disappeared.
Diamond_Dancer's ears per curiously when she Nightshade suddenly...vanishes? "What da heck...How'd see..." Diamond frowns. Nightshade is full of mysteries, but this? THIS is a doozy- a glowing, glimmering distortion of reality? Wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwway more interesting than a book on mythical creatures and ancient monsters. The little filly climbs to her hooves slowly, and creeps over to the cleft of dimensions. Timidly, she reaches out, tapping at the portal with a hoof, before boldly stepping through it. After all, when you're invincible, whats the worry in poking your head into random portals?
Maybe the filly shouldn't have stepped through that, because all at once reality seems to fall apart around her. Colour and outline lose all definition as a swirl of trembling, cacophonous chaos spins around and around. Space itself loses all meaning as dimensions warp an waver and reform into new patterns. Then, just as quickly as it happened, the whole process reverses until, after what seems to be quite a long time, the filly is deposit in a strange, round room that appears to be quite ancient.
Diamond_Dancer gives a little squeal when the world starts swirling around her- but honestly, she's been to Tartarus. She's been teleported in several different ways by her star, and she's ripped her the fabric of reality so many times it probably needs a tailor. Diamond is a tough little filly, so squeezing her eyes shut and waiting for it to be over is her go-to-reaction to swirling things around her. When she lifts a hoof from her eyes and looks around neverously. "...Dis is weird..."She squeaks quietly, slowling climbing to her hooves and walking a few paces around the room...
Nightshade is not too far away, but her back is turned and she's continuing forward towards the table in the middle, where it appears other ponies are waiting, all unicorns. One of them, a stallion, speaks. His coat is alabaster-white, his mane silvery-blue, and on his flank is the symbol of an ancient pedestal, black tendrils seeping out of the cracks upon its surface. "Business from the south?" he asks Nightshade, regarding her impatiently. "It's been 5 minutes." -- "You can afford to wait, then," she responds, suverying the others. "Let us begin, then, going around as usual..."
Diamond_Dancer isn't entirely sure what she's stumbled onto, but her common sense (which isn't often listened too) Explains that maybe, just maybe, she might want to stay queit for now. The filly is tiny, luckily enough, and crouches low. As low as she can, almost belly to floor, and slowly sneaks closer. She doesn't know any of these ponies- NOR does she know what Nightshade's up to. Princess Luna is gonna find out as soon as she gets back, thats for sure. For now, Diamond sneaks as close as she possibly can. For a pony with no feeling in her body, the little one is surprisingly stealthy..
It seems that there is not much business with the other ponies, as they quickly relate brief anecdotes about their seemingly ordinary days. The alabaster stallion speaks first, providing a terse description of what sounds like estate management. The next to speak is a mare with an amber-orange coat and a braided road-red mane who is, apparently, an archaeological researcher. Next is a highly excitable and erratic stallion with a shaggy golden-brown mane and a dishevelled cinnibar coat who is very obsessed with archival work. Finally, the last stallion, the youngest, with a forest-green coat and a silvery-green mane, speaks about improving certain magical devices. At the end of their briefs Nightshade speaks once again. "Very well. There being no further business, let us discuss the matter at hoof." Her horn glows with starlight once more, and the table glows right back until, with a surge of light, it projects an image of...Bardigan. "As you are well aware, Mr. Dewshine and I endeavoured to monitor the latest manifestation of Mr. Bardigan's sub-creational ability. Though we have yet to discover a method of penetrating his glamours, we have collected much useful data."
Diamond_Dancer's ears immediately perk when the name "Bardigan" appears. Now she's keenly listening- every word that scrapes past her ears is recorded and she holds her breath. Focus, Diamond. Keep it together. You don't know what they want, you don't know what this is about. No need to slip into a frenzy. They're just...just probably trying to help. Just keep it togther...
"Isn't this the fourth, fifth time he has manifested?" says the alabaster stallion. "And we have not seen fit to enact containment measures?" -- "I read that the /last/ pony like him gone and...and wrote himself out of existence!" says the cinnibar stallion, his eyes seeming to persist in a wide-eyed, crazed look. "And that guy was less powerful. What if...what if Bardigan writes /us/ out of-" -- "Don't be ridiculous," says the amber mare, factuality clear in her tone. "Bardigan hasn't even committed a full-phase summoning yet. We can't rely on these precedents when there is no comparison." -- "That sound about right," says the young, foresty stallion. "His readings are stable right now, nothing critical, so there's no indication for accelerating the plan. Right, Nightshade?" -- Nightshade is silent for a few, tense moments. "No, Mr. Dewshine, I must concur with Limestone. I have recently learned that the Directory is now aware of his existence, which means that he now presents a clear and present danger to the Realm. We must proceed with the first stage of containment."
Diamond_Dancer's ears perk sharper at that. Containment? Bardigan is a danger?! No, no he's not! He's her brother, the only pony ever to see past her sickness and adopt her! He saved her from a live of misery in the Manehatten slums! They want to contain him?!! No! NO!! Diamond, keep it together!! Going beserk won't help him! Listen! Learn! Keep your head! Bardigan is the most valuable thing in your life, don't let them take him...
Silence dominates the discussion for a while. "So," says the alabaster stallion, apparently named Limestone, "you'll be giving Bardigan a, hm, a stern talking-to?" -- "As always, Mr. Livery," she replies. "He is clearly unaware of the magnitude of his power and should be informed accordingly. Perhaps we can enlist Ms. Dancer to act as his protective element, if we can prevail upon Her Majesty to make it so...or perhaps she can convince the Princess herself. What do you think, Ms. Dancer?" Her head turns around just a little bit, but enough to make it clear that, yes, she knew all along.
Diamond_Dancer's takes a step out, nervously, from her hiding spot and draws in a deep breath, trying to look as calm and rational as possible, not to mention focused and unphased by the sudden reveal of her eavesdropping. In reality, she's terribly scared- but for Bardigan, she'll do her best to stay brave. "...Alright. Y-You'se know I'm here. Y, you'se also know d-dat my star can grant me ANY wish I m-make. So you'se been start talkin...what -IS- Bardigan? What do you'se mean by containment? I- I won't let you'se hoyt him! I WON'T!" *Better start talkin'*
"That depends on your definition of 'hurt'," Nightshade replies, turning around fully. The others, too, have finally noticed Diamond and gaze at her with mixtures of curiosity, wonder, and suspicion. "At the moment physical coercion is not part of the equation, if that is what your worried about. Now, what we suspect Bardigan of being may best be discussed in his presence, but needless to say we have observed his power of making stories come to life with great interest and also, as I am sure you can understanding, some worry."
Diamond_Dancer Shakes her head. "H-He's harmless! I've talked to him, he doesn't even know how he- " There's a tiny Diamond Dancer living inside of Diamond's head. At the moment, this teeny, tiny Diamond Dance is wildly pounding on the "ABORT SENTENCE" button in Diamond's brain. If they don't know HOW he does it, they might tear him apart to find out. Priority 1: Protect Bardigan. "...W-Who ARE you'se guys? What is dis place?" She squeaks, even if her voice is getting slightly smaller- nervous. "I-I'm da Miracle Mare, you know~ I-If anyding happens to me, P-Princess Luna will be mad...
"Oh, like we really want the Princess to poke her nose into this place!" says the scraggly stallion, one eye twitching. "You don't know h-" -- "If you will excuse Mr. Whisperwhirl," Nightshade suddenly interrupts, and Whisperwhirl, his mouth hanging open, quickly slumps into diffidence. "Who we are is a grave question, a grave question indeed, something that few are aware of. The Society of Chron- perhaps I should say it in words you will understand. Ahem." She gives Diamond a calm, mildly condescending look. "We are Shadowwalkers, and this place is our...clubhouse."
Diamond_Dancer nods her head nervously, taking a step back. This is big- very big, bigger than Diamond could ever hope to understand and she realizes it. "Ok...Y, you'se guys is Shadow Walkers. A-And you'se monitor magical stuff dat happens to Equestria, right? L, like protesting it from p-ponies getting to powerful. And Princess Luna can't know about dis, or she'd have told me. Y-You alos know about me. "She squeaks, breathing getting, harder- faster. "You've musta been trackin' me...y-you'se must know what I am, and whats happened to me. "She sputters sheepishly, fur heckling on her neck, and back, wings spreading out into 'combat' position. "... T-Tell me more...
"We try to have a good relationship with the Princesses," says the amber-coloured mare, stepping forward. Her voice is softer, more cordial than Nightshade's. "But we are separate from them. We Shadow-walkers have worked to defend the Realm secretly for many centuries now, but really our true purpose is to survey the frontiers of Living Memory. Protecting the Realm just happens to coincide with that goal." -- "Indeed," says Limestone Livery, a haughty quality to his own words. "Our Society is dedicated to preserving knowledge that exists only as whispers and remembrances of ages past. We are the archivists and chroniclers of ponykind, and we do our utmost to do our duty."
Diamond_Dancer swallows nervously. "B, but you'se CAN'T take Bardigan away! I need him...h, he's...He's da most important pony evah..."She sputters, trying not to sob. What's she supposed to do? How can she stand up to something like this. "P-Please...?"
"We have not yet resolved to imprison Mr. Bardigan," Nightshade states. "As we have just discussed, it is prudent for now that we simply convince him to keep watch over his power. However..." She steps down from the platform until she's at the same level as Diamond. "If you would prevail upon him to seek our guidance, then many problems can yet be resolved. Bardigan can continue his life as always and not have to worry about...questionable influences."
Diamond_Dancer narrows her eyes, trying to be as threatening as possible- well as possible for a tiny filly in a room with full grown stallions and mares as unicorns. "...I-I won't let anyding happy to him. You'se know dat right? I aint' a pony to be messed wif...b, but I'll tell him to be careful...if dats what you'se want...
"Don't worry so much about it," says the younger stallion, who, by process of elimination, is probably Dewshine. "Ms. Nightshade can talk to your brother for you, but, you know, I guess you can remind him every now and then." -- Nightshade nods solemnly. "Of course. Now... I do believe you are trespassing on private property, Ms. Diamond."
Diamond_Dancer shifts her weight ever so slightly, eyes narrowing. If it's a throw down they want, it's a throw down they'll get. Just because she's a filly is no reason to underestimate her. "I was in da castle, and Princess Luna have me complete access to it! I'm her poysonal soyvent! Dis is linked to da castle, and dat means it part of da castle! But a fight is da last ding you'se want from me. "The little filly mumbles nervously. "I-I swear you'll regret it! "
Nightshade doesn't say anything, but only gazes at Diamond with that cold, emotionless look she always has. "You," she repeats, "are trespassing."
Diamond_Dancer takes a step back, the tiny filly looking scared, regardless of how brave she's trying to be. "Don't do dis, Nightshade..."She pleads quietly. "P, Princess Luna would have you'se head if you'se attack me. A, All of you! I'm da Mircale Mare! Da Fantastic Filly! I, I'm Da Night Errant! "She barks, wings spreading further- Diamond starting to scuff her hoof against the floor like she preparing to charge. "You'se know I'm invincible...I'll take at-at least one of you'se wif me...D-Dink about it. Am I woyf fightn'? I've been trained by Fiyah Fly, da Princess's Stewart!" She barks, taking another step back...
Nightshade keeps staring at Diamond sternly while her colleagues start to get, well, a tad awkward. Whisperwhirl says something to the amber-coloured mare, and they both nod in agreement. They turn to face Diamond, their horns glowing, and momentarily the ground beneath Diamond starts to slide towards the bright pillar at one of the alcoves.
Diamond_Dancer takes another step back, and another, eyes widening. She doesn't know WHATS going on- and she really *REALLY* doesn't want to find out. "Star, teleport me! I wish I was somewhere else!" Diamond shrieks suddenly, and with that the little filly instantly vanishes in an explosion of brightly colored stars! ...and she reappears 3 feet to the right. Well, technically it isn't "here" so the star granted her wish....
At this point the amber-coloured mare drops all pretense of politeness. "Yo, kid, this meeting is for grownups and you should go back home!" she shouts. They don't seem to make a move with their magick, although Dewshine seems to have run off towards the western room.
Diamond_Dancer groans at her Star. She needs to be much, much more specific, it seems. "L, look, W, what do you'se guys plan to do to me?! You'se know I'm da Princesses Soyvent! IF she finds out anyding has happened to me, I'll make you'se pay- n-not to mention Bardigan!" She snaps. "I'll tell him to write you'se all out of existance!!"
Whisperwhirl gets right freaked, jumping off his hooves and scrambling to the south door, slamming the door shut and, apparently, locking it too. -- "What part of this being a private clubhouse do you not understand?" says the amber-coloured mare. "I mean it's bad enough you're compromising our security here." -- "Let's hold off on this, Amber Alacrity," says Nightshade, before looking up at Diamond. "Ms. Diamond, perhaps we can come to an understanding that will end this...conflict. What are your terms?"
Diamond_Dancer is trembling scared, ears folded back, and she's ready to lash out at the closest pony near her. She wasn't kidding when she said she was trained by Firefly, and being part of the Princess's Court DOES offer her specific 'boons' as it were. "T-Toyms? ... I...uh...I want you'se t-to leave me and Bardigan alone!" She announces firmly- well as firm as a scared little filly can sound...
"You know, I am going to have to chat with Mr. Bardigan about his welfare. Would that still be permitted?" Nightshade replies, keeping her cool all throughout. Meanwhile, Dewshine emerges from his room wielding a cube-like device which seems to beep faster as he directs it towards Diamond.
Diamond_Dancer doesn't make a regular wish, now- no, she makes a specific wish under duress. Fear, specifically, which focuses her mind in a sense. "I WISH I WAS IN MY ARMAH!" She barks- and suddenly, the little filly is glowing brightly. Very brighty, and when that light fades away, she's clad in a very odd looking, set of armor. White, with blue gems covering her elbows, chest, head, knees, hooves, flanks and wings. Princess Luna's 'shatter plate' - one of the boons Diamonds been grant in service to the Princess. She turns towards Dewshine, taking a step back. "Back off! ALL OF YOU'SE!"
Nightshade glances at Limestome, then at Amber, then back at Diamond. "...When you are done, ah, protesting, we adults have business to tend to." Her horn glows with cosmic radiance for a few seconds before a large shield suddenly apparates between Diamond and the central table, leaving only Dewshine and his cube device. He just sits there, taking notes and measuring things while the others have a muffled conversation beneath the dome.
Diamond_Dancer looks particularily confused, but her guard still remains up, her wings arched in a 'combat' stance. "...Dats it? If you'se was just gonna kick me out, dats fine! "She says with a nervous chuckle. "I was afraid you'se was gonna...it doesn't mattah. Just point me to da exit, ok?" She squeaks quietly, ears pressed back against her skull.
"It's...it's at that obelisk over there," says Dewshine, sounding rather cordial but, also, quiet. "You can't miss it; it's the only one activated right now." Indeed, the obelisk shines with unearthly and disturbing brilliance, yet the light isn't blinding nor does it seem to seep beyond the confines of the alcove. "I could show you out if you wanted."
Diamond_Dancer tilts her head lookin at the 'obelisk' and then back to Dewshine. "...Y, Yeah? Ok? But only cause you'se is friends wif Nightshade. No funny stuff, ok? Go on n' show me..." She says nervously, tepidly approaching Dewshine...
Dewshine seems to have a reserved, introspective demeanour in marked contradistinction to what one might expect from working in a place like this. He steps towards the obelisk, his cube-thing floating along beside him. As he gets closer to Diamond she might see that the "cube" is actually some kind of measuring device, with a big prismatic "lens" on one side that constantly faces her. "Uh, yeah, that's just my aetherometer. Nothing too weird."
Diamond_Dancer tilts her head curiously. "Aeth...erometah? whats dat?" She asks slowly, making sure to keep her distance. Honestly, the girl had no idea what she was getting into following Nightshade, and for now it seems like she's bitten off more than she can chew. For a 'knight' of princess Luna's court, she looks fairly nervous.
"It measures magical energy," Dewshine explains. "Anyway, here we are." They come to the obelisk, and this close one can see that the surface is not stark-white but rather shimmers with a faded image of the royal palace. "We designed it so that non-practitioners could leave just by pushing on the wall."
Diamond_Dancer holds up a hoof slowly, ears still played back. She doesn't know if she can trust this 'Dewshine' And takes a deep breath. "You'se...you'se guys ain't gonna come back to get me or somedin like dat, right?" She asks slowly.
"You haven't really uncovered anything secret, so...no," Dewshine says. "Just...don't try to come back here, OK? You're not even able to open the portal so how you got through Miss Nightshade's portal is a bit of a mystery, really." The aetherometer whizzes and buzzes as it keeps gathering data, floating about Diamond like a curious insect.
If the Aetherometer senses magic, Diamond is glowing quite a bit. Aside from her crystal heritage, the glistening armor she's wearing, and the glimmering star around her neck, there's something -else- about her that might be making that little cube notice her more. Something almost sinister in nature. "I didn't know dis place even existed. I don't want anyding to do wif you'se guys, ok? S, so you'se leave me alone, I leave you'se alone...o-okay?" She squeaks quietly.
Dewshine looks apprehensive, even guilty, as Diamond lays out her terms. "Uh...we'll do what we can, yeah." He tries to avoid looking at her in the eye. "Just serve the Princess and we'll be happy." The aetherometer's buzzing assumes a more constant tone, emitting rhythmic sounds as the lights noticeably change from green to yellow.
Diamond_Dancer's ears faulter- flickering from 'combat' ready to down and sad. "...Just...if you'se gotta deal wif me, dats fine. I nevah wanted any of dis, but please leave Bardigan alone? "She says softly. "He adopted me, and he made life bettah and...I know if don't mean much to you'se guys, but he's a good pony. Really! I don't want him ta be locked up or hoyt, ya know? He's da most important pony evah. Please don't hoyt him. Cause I'd do anyding for him. And anyding to save him." She sighs.
"Yeah," says Dewshine. "We know." He doesn't seem to be particularly talkative right now, but whether it's due to reticence or Nightshade's orders is unclear. "We aren't an enemy, Diamond Dancer. We're trying to serve Equestria just like you."
Diamond_Dancer seems to relax visibly when she's told they're not the enemy and she draws in a little breath. "...Okay den. Den we're on da side." She says, reaching out to press her hoof against the obelisk.
"So far," says Dewshine mysteriously, his voice swallowed up by the swirling, shifting, spinning world that greets Diamond. It's like when she came in, but in reverse, colours and shape being drawn into thei containers by some kind of compression, or something like it, a suction of the wavelets of reality into compact forms. Very soon, the world reforms, specifically that same room in the palace from where she left.
Diamond_Dancer's ears fold back again and she shivers, shaking her fur out and glancing around. Back in the Castle. Ok. No problem. Now to ask Princess Luna about what in the heck that was...
Silence rules the Palace as the night shift assumes its duties, several "bat-ponies" taking their places around the throne room. Meanwhile, in a place not quite in normal reality, ponies of strange power plot and plan as best they can for the sake of the Realm...
Tuesday, November 4, 2014