Azure trotted happily back to the inn and up the stairs as she makes her way back to the room. She slowly opened the door and peered in to see Samukai looking about the room nervously. “Samukai! You’re awake!” She exclaimed with excitement as she trotted right into the room. Samukai turned to look at Azure, panic in his eyes.
“Azure! The crystal it-” He looked to her neck to see the crystal.
“It’s right here, don’t worry.” She placed her saddle bag down by the bed. “While you were resting, we went out to find-”
“Give it back!” Samukai roared. Azure looked to him surprised.
“Samukai?” Summerfly asked worriedly.
“Okay….” Azure took off the crystal and gave it back to him. With a swift motion, he snatched the crystal from her hooves and placed it around his neck.
“You shouldn’t have taken it, not without my permission! What if it got lost, stolen, even broken?!”
“I would never let that happen, we just wanted-”
“It was my idea, Samukai, we just wanted to gather some information while you rested!” Summerfly protested. Samukai went silent. “If you’re going to snap at anybody, snap at me!” Azure looked to the crystal with surprise and went to protest, but Summerfly started to speak. “You are acting very unreasonably! We were only trying to help, and the only reason I told her to take it is because she wouldn’t know where to go without us!”
“Don’t bring me into this.” Eclipsed groaned.
“If anything happened, Azure would surly have protected us, she is strong and skilled, you know this!” Samukai took a deep breath and looked to a worried Azure.
“I’m sorry for snapping at you, Azure.” Samukai said, his voice heavy.
“It’s okay, you were just worried for your friends.” She smiled at him in an understanding way, he smiled back and started to relax.
“Aw, I was hoping there’d be a fight.” Samukai rolled his eye. “How about we discuss what you found, maybe over a meal?”
“I’m already one step ahead of you!” Azure went through her bag and pulled out two paper bags. “I thought you’d be hungry after that fight!” She tossed the bag to him and he caught it in his claws. “I hope I got something good for you, though, Summerfly said you’d eat anything.”
“Oh, you have no idea.” He tore it open, pulled out an apple, and ate it whole. “You really didn’t have to; I could have manifested a meal for us.”
“Summerfly also told me that, but I think you’ve used enough of your energy for one day.” She sat down, dug into her larger paper bag pulling out an apple for herself, twisted the stem off, and ate it whole.
“That was some battle huh?” Samukai grinned.
“Yeah, you really were amazing, I only wish I could have been more help.”
“You did plenty with saving all those ponies and that one in the house.”
“I just couldn’t let that poor pony be obliterated.”
“I would have done the same, if I didn’t have my barriers to block the attack. Even still, you’re quite skilled.” Azure blushed a little.
“I’m not that good, really.”
“You were, you must have had a good teacher.”
“He was….” Azure became silent, a distant look in her eyes as she stared down at her bag. Samukai looked to her worriedly.
“This isn’t a painful subject for you, is it?” Azure shook her head and looked to him with a smile.
“Oh no, not at all! Those are some of my favorite memories, learning how to fight and proper technique when using a rapier, it was wonderful! With his help, I felt like I could truly contribute to my home, more than I could before! Every time I rose up in the ranks, we all celebrated with one big dinner!” Samukai smiled.
“It sounds like you have some really nice friends.”
“They were….” The distant looked returned.
“If there’s something bothering you-”
“I’m fine, Samukai, don’t worry about me.” She smiled at him. The mutated kirin gave off a hefty sigh.
“How about you catch me up on what I missed?” Azure nodded and went over all the information they gathered, even telling him of the strange bat pony. Summerfly interjected here and there, adding parts Azure missed as Eclipse made his usual remarks.
“You haven’t seen any groups of bat ponies or other such ponies around, have you?”
“No, that’s new to me.” Azure sighed.
“I was hoping that you’d at least would have heard something.”
“That is interesting to hear, a bat pony being chased down for some crime by armor cladded ponies, they don’t sound like Celestia’s soldiers.”
“And the one mare, the one that forced her way through the crowd.” Summerfly added.
“The soldiers said she shouldn’t have left their hideout.” Azure explained. The mutated kirin looked down in thought as he tapped his chin. “I’ve got a hunch that either these knights or whoever this bat pony is have something to do with the beasts. If they’re not from here, they could have brought them from wherever they’re from which would explain why a jungle native beast would be here.”
“That would explain quite a bit.” Samukai mused. “I think it’s time we paid the Everfree forest a visit, that’s where most of the beast have been seen coming from.” Azure looked to him excitedly. “If we are to find either the bat ponies or armor clad ponies there with the beasts, we could have our answer to this mystery.” Azure quickly finished her meal and tossed away the garbage, Samukai followed finishing up his meal just a bit faster than her.
“Then let’s head out!” Azure took her rapier and saddle bag and looked to Samukai to lead. He quickly grabbed his bag then led her out of the inn and through town as the sun slowly set.
“This could be troublesome.” Samukai noted.
“You don’t have night vision, do you?”
“Is the forest that dark?”
“Darker than most, especially at night.”
“Then I’ll find a lantern or something.”
“It’s alright.” He manifested a glowing orb with his soul. “This should help, but your range of sight will still be limited. Azure looked to the orb with wonder.
“Is there anything you can’t do, Samukai?!” Azure asked, Samukai shrugged with a grin. They soon found themselves at the entrance to the forest. The thick trees, wild vines, and plentiful bushes and leaves showed exactly what made this forest so dark and untamed.
“It will be dangerous, so keep an eye out, and watch out for any blue flowers; you don’t want to touch them.” Azure nodded and took out her rapier in preparation for anything that may come in her way. They walked into the dark forest, the orb helping Azure see as she stared about, taking in the strangeness of the Everfree forest.
“This forest really is dark.” Azure noted as she noticed how pitch black it was, the light helping a great deal as a sense of nervousness started to rise within her. She did not like the enclosed feeling the trees gave. “It must be nice to have night vision.”
“It’s certainly useful, especially when living here.”
“You live here?!”
“When I came here, this is where I woke up and has since been my home in its own way.”
“How fascinating! How’d you get here anyway?”
“I just woke up here one day, I had no other recollections of another life, no memories.”
“That sounds so awful.”
“In some ways, it was, I do remember being deathly thirsty and hungry, at least I had the castle to occupy my time, until I created Eclipse and met Summerfly.”
“That’s so nice – wait, you created Eclipse?”
“He’s my alter ego manifested you could say.”
“I’m his better side.” Eclipse added.
“I think Samukai’s better.”
“It’s not like your opinion matters bug face.” Azure rolled her eyes, Samukai smiled as he blasted away some bramble in their way.
“So, why is this place called the Everfree forest anyways?”
“That is because everything in this forest grows and moves by itself.”
“Many ponies fear this place for that reason.”
“Why fear it? I think that’s amazing! Imagine what you could learn from this place, it could help so much in society I’m sure!” Samukai smiled softly.
“Not many see the world the way you do, Azure.” As they stepped into a clearing, a low growl like sound echoed through the forest, traveling just far enough for their ears to pick up. Azure immediately drew her blade, Samukai stood on the defensive. “It seems we have our lead.”
“Should we split up, it may make finding the beast a much faster process?”
“That’s a bold suggestion coming from the one who could barely hold her ground against that one from before.” Eclipse commented, Azure glared at the crystal.
“If that pony was not in danger, I could have taken that beast down in time; I’ve faced much larger.”
“Oh, I’m sure.”
“Cut it out!” Samukai sneered at the crystal. “I think it may be a good idea, but try not to go too far, so we can call to one another when it’s found.” Azure nodded and took off in the direction she thought it was, the orb following her. Samukai started to walk off in the other direction. He looked about for tracks and kept his ears open for any more sounds the beast may make. The sound of a soft roar echoed through the forest one more, spreading evenly through the trees. “Interesting….” He looked about the forest, swiveling his head here and there. “I don’t think there’s a beast like that here with a roar so distinctive.” He heard the roar again, this time, it sounded louder. He ran in the direction in which the roar sounded loudest until he came to a clearing where he saw a hairy, boar and wolf like, beast writhing about; his front was more wolf like and his back more boar like. He quickly went to its side, a look of worry on his face. Doing his best not to agitate it, he walked about it, searching for any wounds it may have. “What’s bothering you?” The mutated kirin mused to himself. Suddenly, the beast stopped moving.
“Did it die?” Eclipse asked. Before Samukai could check, the beast slowly rolled onto its paws and hooves and stood up, turning its mad eyes to Samukai who quickly summoned his golden glowing blades. The beast gave off a mad roar, one with great power behind it as it blasted Samukai into a nearby tree, his blades dissipating. Samukai looked to the beast sternly as he got back on his claws.
“I don’t want to harm you,” he said softly, the beast roar once more. “but it seems I don’t have a choice!” Samukai went to summon his blades again, but they did not appear. The beast took a few steps toward him.
“Now’s a good time for some soul action!” Samukai tried again, but nothing happened. The beast gave a low growl, approaching closer and closer, Samukai taking two steps back for every one the beast made. “What’s wrong with you?!”
“I don’t know.” The beast then pounced forward as Samukai jumped to the side causing the beast to jump righting into a tree. It turned sharply to him, even more angered than before as it got right up and charged. Samukai swiftly ran, giving the beast a chase as they weaved through the forest. Faster and faster the beast ran, keeping up skillfully.
“You better come up with a plan and fast; I don’t want to end up beast chow!”
“Come on, Samukai! You’ve got to do something!” Summerfly cried. The beast then pounced once more pinning Samukai to the ground. Samukai looked up in terror as the beast wailed in his face.
“That’s it, we’re dead.” Samukai kicked at the beast, pushing with all his might to no avail as the beast stood over him like a statue, looking ready to burrow is massive tusks into his body. Just then, he saw something from the corner of his eye, a blue and white blur. A small grin grew on his face.
“Looks like I won’t be the one on the ground for long.” He remarked as the blur tackled the beast to the ground. Samukai rolled back over onto his claws and looked to see Azure, standing over the beast, a rage in her eyes.
“You will not eat my friends!” Azure screamed. The beast wailed at her knocking her of him, she stretched her wings out as she jumped back and alighted to the ground, standing strongly before it. The wolf face beast roared as it did before sending out a massive sound wave that pushed Azure back a couple centimeters. Once the best had finished, Azure charged, her rapier floating beside her as she slashed at it. The beast jumped back and started to claw at her. Azure blocked all of its attacks, dodging a few as she slashed at it. As she slashed at its sides, the beast raise both of its claws and brought them down on her. Azure immediately brought her wings up, blocking the attack, and successfully knocked them away, leaving its stomach wide open. Within the blink of an eye, she turned and bucked at the stomach of the beast knocking it back several feet and into a tree that fell to the ground.
“Nice kick!” Samukai cheered. Azure looked over to Samukai, quickly running to him.
“Samukai, are you alright?!” She asked, worry filling her voice.
“I’m fine, Azure.”
“I can’t believe you needed mop face to save your life.” Eclipse commented, Samukai glared at the crystal.
“We’re so glad you came in time.” Summerfly said.
“Yeah, are you alright?” He asked.
“You really need to ask?” Eclipse responded.
“I wasn’t asking you.”
“I’m fine, Samukai, don’t worry.” Another roar then came out, more powerful than before as it knocked Samukai back against a tree. The beast lunged out of the bramble and charged at Samukai, an intent to kill clear in its eyes. Azure felt a rage surge inside her once more as she looked to the beast and concentrated harder than she ever had before, the beast soon coming to a halt as it slowly rose in the air. Within Azure’s grip, it could not move at it was helpless smacked into the ground, Samukai flinched at the sight.
“I told you not to hurt my friends!” The angered cartazonon yelled. The beast grimaced and tried to get up. “Haven’t had enough?” She picked it back up and swung it about then threw it against another tree hard enough that the beast blasted through several leaving a long line of broken stumps. “How did you like that?!”
“That was amazing! I didn’t know bug face had it in her!” Eclipse shouted excitedly. Azure turned back and smiled at Samukai before grabbing at her head.
“Azure!” Samukai yelled and ran to her, Azure slowly sat down.
“I’m alright… I just… I think I over did it.” She said, a tired sound in her voice.
“How about I teleport you back and I’ll continue the investigation from here?” Azure nodded.
“I think that’d be for the best, especially if there are any more beasts.”
“Maybe you should check to make sure you can before you make any promises.” Eclipse reminded him. A sheepish look spread on Samukai’s face.
“Oh, right….” Azure looked to his curiously. “Something seems to be blocking my soul.”
“Really?!” He nodded. “That actually does explain a bit… could it have been that roar?”
“I’m not too sure, but it seems you’ll have to walk, if you can.”
“What about the beast?”
“I doubt he’ll be a problem, not after that. Besides, we need to get you out of here before another one comes along.” Azure nodded.
“If you say so.” She said with a small smile as she did her best to stand, Samukai went to her side and helped to give her support as he led her out of the forest. She swayed a bit here and there, but he managed to help her stay standing and soon made it out without any more incidents. They soon made it back to the inn where Azure crawled into bed and soon fell asleep. Samukai quietly made his way out of the room and to the front desk where the pony taking over the night shift sat.
“Could you tell Azure if she comes down here to stay put until I return? She’s the big fluffy lion like creature.” She nodded. With everything settled, Samukai made his way back to the forest.
“Finally, some time away from that happy-go-lucky puff ball; she was getting on my nerves.” Eclipse moaned. Samukai shook his head at the remark and continued to search around the forest, the beast’s attack continuing to linger in his mind. The idea of such a creature being able to block his soul like that seemed impossible and with a roar non-the less. “Seems pretty stupid to me.” Eclipse stated.
“It makes no sense to me either. The only explanation I have for this is that some outside force cast the spell as the beast roared to give that illusion.”
“What, they couldn’t step up and take the credit? Some villains they are.”
“No, I think there’s more to it. Whoever is doing this knows who we are, what we’re up to, and that we’re getting close to the answer.”
“Are you sure? I mean, if there is, shouldn’t that be something we would have noticed? A spell that powerful can’t possibly have been cast from too far away.” Summerfly mused.
“As good of a point that is, I believe that we’re dealing with someone, or something, that powerful.”
“Sounds like we’ve got an epic boss fight a head of us!” Samukai rolled his eyes.
“Be careful, Samukai.” Summerfly said worriedly.
“Don’t worry, there’s nothing I can’t handle.” He said with confident reassurance. The creature continued through the forest, keeping his ears open, his eye scanning every inch of the area, until he heard a voice, one that seemed familiar somehow. He took off toward the source, weaving around bushes and bramble until he came to a small clearing where the beast from before sat whimpering like a beaten puppy as a bat pony with her mane tied up just a bit by what looked to be a headband of some sort. Some of her dark, wavy mane lay gently against her back and bat wings showing clearly against her lighter coat of a similar color. She gently stroked the beast, a bloody cloth by her back hooves and bandages covering his wounds.
“You poor dear, who would dare try to harm you?” The beast whimpered and moaned in response. “Don’t you worry, once we get back to camp, I’ll get you a nice big meal and something to help the pain.” The creature then gave a moan that sounded a bit happier, the bat pony smiled in response.
“Finally, a real lead.” Eclipse muttered.
“She couldn’t possibly be behind the beast attacks, could she?” Summerfly said with worry.
“She did say something about a camp.” Samukai added.
“I say we pin her down and demand she take us there.” Eclipse said, malevolence in his voice.
“Maybe we should just follow her until we find the camp?” Summerfly suggested. Samukai tapped his chin in thought.
“That would be the safest option, then again….” The beast started to stir a bit as it sniffed the air. He then perked up, his eyes widening with fear, the bat pony looking to him with worry as he curled up and whimper fearfully.
“What is it?!” The bat pony looked about nervously.
“Whelp, our cover’s blown because of your stench.” Eclipse spat. The distraught bat pony took out a small dagger, holding it firmly in her mouth, looking about with a fierce protectiveness.
“Who’s there?!” She spoke through the dagger. “Ef you think you can take Grimalkin frum me then you’re going to regret et!”
“Actually, this may work to our favor.” Samukai muttered to the crystal before standing up, revealing himself to the protective bat pony. She noticed him almost immediately, her stance more defensive as she scowled at him.
“You, were you the one who attack him?!” Samukai shook his head.
“He was the one who attacked me initially.” The bat pony looked to him surprised.
“He would never, not unless he was provoked!”
“Then he must have been before attacking me. Is he your pet?”
“Not exactly.” She said, still keeping an air of caution about her.
“If you’d like, I can heal him.” The bat pony glared at him with distrust. “I assure you that I mean no harm, I only want to help.” He put up his claws in a non-threatening manner. Reluctantly, the bat pony stepped aside, dropping her guard. Samukai nodded softly and walked into the light revealing his face. At the sight of him, the bat pony looked to him with surprise and disbelief. “Is something wrong?” He asked, the bat pony shook her head.
“No, it’s nothing….” Samukai went over to the beast, a look of curiosity lingered in his eyes, leaving when he turned his gaze to the beast. He took a deep breath as he held a claw out to the beast who cowered away from him, whimpering meekly. Soon, a soft golden light enveloped the creature calming him as his wounds closed; the bat pony looking on with pleasant surprise. The beast stood up, moving its body about as it noticed the pain was gone. He started to bound about happily. “You… what is your name?”
“Samukai.” He said with a smile. The bat pony smiled excitedly and ran up to him, taking his claw in his hoof, a look of excitement on her face.
“Then it’s true! The scripture spoke the truth!”
“The what?!” Eclipse exclaimed from the crystal. The bat pony jumped back into her defensive stance, looking about wildly.
“Don’t worry.” He lifted the crystal. “It was only Eclipse, he resides in this crystal, and so does my friend, Summerfly.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” Summerfly said, her voice meek. The bat pony approached him again and stared at his crystal.
“That’s very fascinating.” She stood up tall, her chest puffing up a bit. Samukai then noticed a curious necklace depicting a crescent moon with an intricate design within it. Within the curve of the crescent was a small circular orb that glowed under the light of the moon. “I am Moonstone, future leader of the Bat Winged Beasts.” Samukai looked to her curiously. “We’re a group of beast tamer bat ponies.”
“Just bat ponies?” Samukai asked.
“Yeah, we couldn’t recruit any ponies, mostly because of the times we’re active, and other creatures didn’t seem interested.” She smiled sheepishly, Samukai nodded.
“What brings you out here?”
“And what’s up with this scripture?!” Eclipse demanded.
“I think it’d be best if I let my father explain the second question.” She turned and motioned for Samukai and the beast to follow her leading them through the forest. “To answer your first question, we’re here because we’re trying to prevent a terrible disaster from befalling.”
“A disaster?!” Summerfly exclaimed worriedly.
“You wouldn’t have happened to notice any beast attacks happening, or if it could be connected to this disaster?” Samukai asked curiously.
“Oh that… We’re so sorry about that. Some of those beasts are ours, but we didn’t send them out on a rampage on purpose. It started not too long after we set up camp here, some of our beasts started to act strangely, even going mad for a small amount of time. We did our best to keep them from escaping and attacking anyone; it was much tougher than we expected. It seems even my loveable Grimiekin was a victim as well; he seemed to be fine when I let him go out to hunt.” She stretched a hoof out to him and pet him as he looked to her with worry. “Don’t worry, big guy, I know you didn’t mean it.” The beast gave a loving purr like noise as he nuzzled her lovingly.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure you did all you could. Besides, I’ve been there holding them off.” She sighed with relief.
“I’m so glad you were. No one was killed, were they?” She asked with great worry.
“No one has, yet, thankfully.” She smiled.
“Thank goodness.” She muttered to herself.
“You wouldn’t happen to have any leads as to why, do you?” Summerfly asked.
“We have a hunch.” She said with disgust. “Before coming, we did check the area for harmful plants, safe, covered, and secluded place to set up camp, and check the beasts before travel, all to ensure things like this don’t happen. To us, there can only one conclusion we can bring, the Daylight Knights.”
“Who are these knights?” Samukai asked, his curiosity growing. Moonstone gave a small, angry snort.
“They’re a group of no good jerks parading around like-” She suddenly stopped and looked about, her ears twitch slightly. “Do you hear that?” Samukai tilted his head a bit trying to hear what she did, then, it hit him, a cry, from a pony no doubt. Before he could say anything, she and her beast took off in the direction of the sound; Samukai quickly caught up with them. The group soon stopped at the sight of a horrifying scene. Quickly, they crouched under the safety of the bushes and bramble as the event before them unfolded. A mare and a stallion stood back to back as three armor cladded ponies surrounded them with menacing looks. Their armor shimmered brightly even under the moon’s light and appeared well kept, even expensive. In their mouths and magic were very threatening weapons, two swords and a spear.
“Pay up!” The one that had the most expensive looking armor screamed demandingly, his hoof slamming down on the ground impatiently.
“We told you, we have nothing to give.” The mare stated, her voice full of worry.
“You think these services are cheap?!” One of the lackeys yelled.
“You were the ones who jumped in here and drove it off, we never asked for your services!” The stallion stated angrily. The sword of the unicorn pressed firmly against his neck, the stallion felt his breath caught right below its edge.
“If we weren’t here, you’d be dead. You either pay, or we’ll bring that beast back.”
“You can’t!” The mare cried.
“Shut up!” One of the lackeys demanded as he slammed a hoof near hers. The frightened mare jumped back and got closer to the stallion who glared at the group, trying to keep a brave face as he felt the blade being pushed ever so slightly harder against his throat. Moonstone made a motion to attack, but Samukai held her back.
“We need to be smart about this.” He whispered motioning to the blade against the pony’s neck. She nodded understandingly. “Go around to the other side and wait for my signal.” He scratched at the ground twice. “Got it?” She gave a comprehensive nod and motioned for her beast to follow as they snuck around to the other side. Samukai stood up and walked into view.
“Good evening, lovely night we’re having.” He said in a cheery manor. The dark eyes of the knights turned to look at Samukai as the two victims looked to him with hope.
“Who are you and what do you think you’re doing here?!” The leader pointed his spear at Samukai threateningly.
“Just a simple samurai taking a relaxing stroll.” He gave them a friendly smile. “I assume you’re doing the same.” The knights sneered.
“A samurai, huh?” The head knight grinned maliciously. “What, you think we don’t know what you’re up to you freak of nature?!” The two lackeys snickered and laughed. “We’re not dumb enough to be distracted by your silly comments.” He pointed at him. “Kill him.” The knight with the free sword ran at him, holding his blade high in the air. The moment he was close enough, Samukai jumped over him and, in a split second, he turned and knocked him right onto the ground, face first, before he could even register what happened. The knight with the sword against the pony’s neck, pulled his blade back a few inches as he looked with shock and anger. Seeing an opportunity, Samukai’s horns glowed as the sword lifted away from the knight and was flung several feet away. In their confusion, Samukai scratched at the ground twice. The beast jumped out within seconds from behind the leader and knocked him to the ground, the bat pony followed closely behind running up and placing her dagger close to the second lackey’s neck; Samukai went over to the knight on the ground and placed a firm claw on his back, holding him down and using his free claw to throw the sword away.
“No, I think your dumber than that.” Samuaki commented.
“Ha, you fall for the simplest trick in the book! Shows just how smart you pathetic losers are!” Eclipse laughed.
“I should have known you beast lovers would be here, meddling about like you always do!” The leader spat, Grimalkin pressed down harder on his back and snarled at him.
“Maybe you should have thought twice before causing more trouble than you have.” Moonstone sneered. “Now, if only I had some rope-” Almost instantly, Samukai summoned rope that wrapped itself around the hooves of the knights as well as two horn bracers for the unicorns. The beast jumped back in fear at the sight of how the rope slithered into place. “Well….” The mare and stallion walked up to them, slowly recovering from the threats made.
“Thank you for saving us.” The mare said with a wide smile.
“It’s no trouble.” Moonstone said.
“Is there anything we can do for you? Anything at all?” The stallion offered.
“I can think of one thing, go enjoy the rest of your night.” Samukai said with a smile. The two smiled sweetly.
“You’re very sweet.” The mare said before rushing off with the stallion.
“I wonder what brought two civilians so far out into the Everfree forest.” Samukai mused to himself.
“I can think of a few things.” Eclipse said in a sleazy way. Samuaki only rolled his eyes, then looked down at the tied-up group.
“Seems like you have a lot of explaining to do once we bring you to the authorities.”
“Wait!” The bat pony cried out. “I’d rather they be taken back to our camp.” Samukai raised an eyebrow at her.
“And why is that?”
“I think they can provide us with some information we need, specifically, their base.”
“Like we’d give you that!” The lackey under Samukai screamed, the mutated kirin pushed down on his back a bit harder.
“Let me guess, longtime rivals?”
“Then as long as you don’t torture them-”
“Of course, not! We’re just going to be very persuasive, right Grimiekin?” The beast growled at the tied-up knights.
“I’m pretty persuasive myself.” Eclipse offered.
“I don’t think so.” Samukai stated.
“Anyways,” the bat pony motioned to the beast who started to nuzzle the knights onto his back “let’s get these sorry excuses for knights back to camp.” The beast went over to Samukai, he lifted his claw as the beast placed the last knight on his back. With the tied-up knights gathered, Moonstone took lead as they made their way to the camp. They soon stopped once they reached a large clearing lit brightly by the moonlight. Samukai looked down and noticed the small settlement filled with large tents, cages big enough for the beasts who live in them to be comfortable and secure, and other various spots for holding supplies or for the bat ponies to relax. Bat ponies of all sorts walked about happily as they went about their business, some with beasts, others speaking to one another enjoying the lovely night.
“This way.” She motioned for him to follow once more as she made her way to the bustling settlement, Samukai following close behind. The moment she stepped in, she waved a couple guards over. “We have some hooligans from the Daylight Knights, could you take them off our hooves?”
“Certainly.” One of the guards stated. Moonstone looked to her beast who rolled the group off his back, each landing on the ground with a clank, thump, and oof. The guards quickly took them away as the other bat ponies stared, many looking on with curiosity, others fear, some even laughed at the sorry lot.
“You’re going to pay for this, you hear me?!” The head knight screamed.
“Yeah, we’ll see about that.” Moonstone snicker as she gave a playful wave goodbye.
“Should I take him back to Beast Housing?” Another guard offered as he motioned to Grimalkin.
“That’d be lovely, thank you.” She smiled sweetly to him. The guard blushed a bit before straightening himself up and went over to the beast. Moonstone motioned for the beast to go with him to which he gave a small whimper of protest. “Grimiekin, don’t be like this. Once everything’s taken care of, I’ll come visit you, maybe with a treat if you’re good.” Grimalkin jumped with excitement at the sound of a treat, Moonstone laughed softly to herself at the sight. “Go on you spoiled beast.” She gave him a little nudge before the guard went and took the beast away.
“He’s such a sweetie.” Summerfly commented.
“More like a pathetic puppy if you ask me. I bet he wouldn’t last an hour on his own, some beast he is.” Eclipse sneered. Moonstone motioned for Samukai to follow her as she started to make her way through the bustling camp. Many bat ponies waved friendly hellos to Moonstone as they passed by, she waved back in kind. As they walked, Samukai couldn’t help but look about, noticing all the strange beasts and tents that were oddly shaped with intricate designs that swirled all of which felt like a representation of the night. Moonstone soon stopped in front of the largest and most regal appearing tent in the whole establishment. She then stuck her head inside of the tent speaking to whoever was inside. “Father, I’ve brought some interesting visitors!” She exclaimed excitedly then trotted right in.
“Oh have you now?” A voice said with intrigue as Samukai followed Moonstone into the tent. He looked about and noticed all the books, papers, maps, and other items that looked to be for beast lying about in small clutters about the office like interior of the tent. At the end of it was a wooden desk with a strong looking bat pony behind it. He appeared to be gruff with a well-cared for beard on his face, his mane equally cared for and combed back neatly. In his eyes was a stern, yet calm look. The way he sat gave off a sense of authority as he sat up straight, his shoulders held back strongly.
“Oh yes, three sorry knights all tied up, and one hero.” The bat pony raised a curious eyebrow at the mention of a hero. She motioned to Samukai as she stepped aside, the gruff bat pony gave him a warm smile.
“How interesting, something I will hear about later I presume, until then.” The bat pony got up from his desk and walked over to Samukai as he held a friendly hoof out to him. “I am Noctis, leader of this camp.”
“I’m Samukai.” He took his hoof and shook it.
“It’s good to meet you!” He grinned. “Does he know?” He looked to his daughter.
“I mentioned it, but I felt it’d be best if you showed him.”
“A grand idea!” He turned to a small shelf behind his desk, going through it carefully and soon pulled out a large scroll, a clear tear by the end, and placed it gently on his desk. Samukai and Moonstone walked over and watched him roll it out. The scroll showed illustrations depicting a story. In the beginning were two items that appeared to be ancient artifacts of some sort, soon after, it showed two groups, one that resembles knights fighting beasts and bat ponies, then goes to show the bat ponies holding up a glowing item, then an image of an army of them standing behind a creature that looked eerily similar to him; it looked like he was ready to lead the group into battle against something. At the edge was a tear, right in front of the depiction of the creature that looked like him, he could feel his curiosity grow.
“I can see the resemblance.” Samukai commented as he stared at the end, studying it thoroughly.
“The scripture was written long ago in preparation for the disaster, giving us warning for what is to come. It tells of a battle fought long ago between us and the Daylight Knights.” He placed a hoof at the bottom of the scripture where an old language ran across. “It tells of their danger they possess to Equestria. It was told, long ago, that two ancient items were given to both of our groups to be held in safe keeping, each holding the key of a grand destruction locked away long ago. At some point, the knights were led by a corrupt leader who wished to use these items to bring destruction upon the land, so a war broke out as he wished to claim the second half for himself. Thankfully, my father was able to hold off his attack and protect the item of which we kept here in safe keeping. Unfortunately, the last portion has been lost, most likely taken by them, we are unable to tell what this disaster will be, but we can tell that we must be the ones to fight against it.”
“And you believe that I’ve come here to help you.”
“Exactly. We intend to use our piece of the key to negate the disaster they’ll surely bring with theirs, even if it’s only one half of it. Those who wield the keys, wield whatever it is locked away as the keys explain. Of course, it is the last thing we wish to do seeing as a disaster is still a disaster, we would preferably like to prevent them from using to prevent the disaster all together.”
“And you will be the one to help us!” Moonstone looked to him hopefully. “You must!” Samukai stood there a moment in thought as this all sunk in, until he finally nodded.
“I will do my best to help you.” Moonstone smiled excitedly at him.
“Oh, thank you, Samukai, thank you!”
“You wouldn’t happen to know where these knights are, would you?”
“You do not plan on taking them on yourself?!” Noctis asked with worry.
“Oh no, I want to speak with them.”
“Speak with them?! They can’t be reasoned with!” Moonstone exclaimed.
“I’d rather settle this in a nonviolent manor. Besides, there may be a chance that there is more to this than just what is shown.”
“I highly doubt it.” She scoffed.
“I’ve had a hunch about all this myself. In some way, I feel there is some other form of interference happening here and I don’t think it these Daylight Knights are responsible, at least, not entirely.”
“You believe they have allies in this?”
“Not exactly.” Noctis sighed and looked him right in the eyes.
“Unfortunately, we do not know where their base is specifically, and if we did, we would have put a stop to this here and now. If you wish to find it, then go right ahead, but I would not go in alone, I do not want you to be killed over this.”
“Don’t worry, I don’t go down easily.” He nodded and smiled.
“That is good to hear as if this disaster is as dangerous as the scripture says, then we will need your strength.”
“Would you mind if I borrowed this for a bit? I have a friend that may be able to help and I think it’d be better to show her this than explain it.” He placed a claw by the scripture.
“That would be grand, any help you can provide would be wonderful.” Noctis rolled it up and gave it to him. “Be careful with it, and please, bring it back as soon as you can.”
“I give you my word.” Noctis nodded with a kind smile. Samukai place the scroll in his bag. “Is there anything I can do for you at this time?”
“You can join us for our evening feast.” He grinned widely. “It’s the highlight of our nights as we eat together.”
“I can introduce you to my brother, he should be returning soon!” Moonstone exclaimed excitedly.
“As much as I’d love to, I can’t. My friend needs me and I don’t want to leave her for long.”
“That is understandable. Before you take leave,” Noctis walked over to his desk and pulled out a necklace with a moon like pedant attached to it “hold onto this for when you return; it will show you have our trust.” He gave the pendent to Samukai which he also placed within his bag.
“Thank you, I’ll be sure to return tomorrow night, the we both can join your feast.”
“We’ll look forward to it!” Moonstone said with a wide smile. Samukai gave one last friendly nod to him as he turned to leave, Moonstone following close behind.
“When you can, please send for those knights you spoke of.” Noctis said as he looked to his daughter. Moonstone nodded and walked to the exit of the tent. She looked and called for the two guards from earlier and motioned for them to grab the prisoners. “Did you want me to lead you home?” Samukai held up a claw.
“That won’t be necessary, I know this forest like the back of my claw.”
“Oh good, I’d hate for our hero to get lost!” Samukai looked about for a moment to see the bat ponies pushing tables together and brining out chairs as they prepared for the feast. They worked together seamlessly as a sense of family came over Samukai as he smiled warmly at the sight.
“Blech! Can we get going before this scene turns all mushy?” Eclipse spat. Samukai rolled his eyes at his remark.
“Just a moment.” He turned back to Moonstone and looked down at her shimmering necklace once more. “There’s something that’s been peeked my interest since I met you.” He motioned to her necklace.
“Oh, this?” She held it up. “It was my mother’s, a very special necklace passed on through our family for many generations.” She smiled at it softly.
“I see, well, it was nice meeting you, Moonstone.” She nodded.
“It was nice to meet you too! See you tomorrow night?” Samukai nodded and went to speak, but found himself cut off by the sound of a pony screaming.
“LET GO OF ME!” A voice could be heard screaming. Samukai and Moonstone turned their attention to the source of the voice to see the three knights they tied up from before being dragged toward them. Moonstone’s father soon came out from the tent.
“I see what you mean by ‘sorry knights’.” Noctis commented. Moonstone laughed as the three were brought before the stern looking bat pony. “What brings you two unfortunate folks out here? To spy I presume, or to release more mad beasts?” The knight spat at his hooves, Noctis glared down at them. “If that is how you wish to go about this, then take them to one of our empty cages until they learn some respect.”
“Like we’d ever respect you!” He screamed as he was dragged off.
“Who cares what you do to us, we’ve already won!” The leader added.
“Yeah, we captured your no-good son not too long ago, and you’re not getting him back until you surrender!” Noctis eye’s widened and Moonstone gasped, a deep silence filled the camp in that moment as many worried glances were sent. Samukai tensed with anger, his right claw started to curl into a small fist.
“No, you’re lying, you must be!” She yelled.
“You wish we were.” The knight growled before bursting out into triumphant laughter. Noctis motioned for them to be taken away at once, to which the guards obliged. Once they were out of sight, the saddened bat pony began to cry, slowly sliding to the ground with grief, her father rushing to her side.
“It is alright, dear, we will get him back, they cannot hold him forever.” Samukai leaned down and placed a comforting claw on her shoulder.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get him back for you.”
“You don’t have to, this is-”
“It’s alright, I can’t sit back and let them win. Better yet, it gives me a chance to scoop out their facility wherever it may be.” Noctis nodded.
“Please, be careful.”
“Of course.” Samukai gave one last look of reassurance to Moonstone. She looked up at him, took a deep breath and got back onto her hooves.
“When you find the base, come and get us, we’ll put an end to this fight once and for all.” Samukai shook his head.
“Let’s get him back first before we jump right into fighting.”
“A good point. Come dear, let’s try and clear our minds of our anger and hate over a nice warm meal.” Noctis led his daughter away as Samukai made his way out of the camp and through the forest.
“Those knights are just so horrible!” Summerfly exclaimed once they were clear of the camp. “How can they do such cruel acts and live with themselves?!”
“That is just how some beings are, there isn’t much that can be done.”
“Hopefully we can get some action going once we find their base, maybe a full our brawl!” Eclipse said with excitement.
“I wouldn’t get your hopes up, the last thing we need is to cause a scene.” Samukai hurried out of the forest and back to the hotel as the sun started to rise. He started to slow down as he got to Azure’s door and knocked on lightly. With no response, he opened the door slowly, looking to her bed expecting to see her sleeping soundly only to find her bed empty.
“You don’t think she went back into the Everfree forest to look for you.” Summerfly asked. Samukai looked about and noted that her rapier and bag were right where he left them at the sight of which, he felt a slight drop in his stomach. He rushed down into the lobby and to the front desk where the head sat, a tired look in her eyes.
“Excuse me, did you give Azure my message? She didn’t leave did she?”
“Azure?” The pony yawned. “The fluffy one, right?” Samukai nodded. “Yeah, she was taken away by some… group. Real official looking.” Samukai felt his stomach drop even more.
“Did they say why?!”
“Yeah, said they needed her for an important mission.” She yawned. “They showed me their emblems and explained they were… knights, I think, on official duty by some important pony. Said they were investigating some big theft and she was needed….”
“Sounds like sleeping bug face is going to need her flank rescued!” Eclipse laughed as Samukai grimaced.
“Oh, I hope she’s alright. You don’t think this is about you do you?” Summerfly asked nervously.
“I don’t know, but I’m not going to let them keep her or Moonstone’s brother for long.” He took off from the inn, searching desperately for any information he could gather.