// Story: A Knight's Tale
// Chapter: Chapter 1
// Author: lionel23
Knight Light gasped for breath as he slid down the slope of the hill to the foliage below. With deft precision he kicked himself off just before hitting the bottom of the earthen slide and landed squarely on his hooves.
"Knights, where art thou?" he called to his fellows, two of whom slid down shortly after him.
While each of them were dressed similarly in long, sea blue caparisons decorated with their homeland's livery, Knight Light's own outfit differed slightly. He was the only 'knight' to wear a steel helm over his face, while the other knights wore cloth face coverings. Of the two other ponies sliding down to join him; one was a regular pony knight of his homeland while the other was a proud unicorn with a dazzling white coat. And it was the unicorn who spoke first.
"Milord, we won't be able to outrun them forever," stated the unicorn that also held the position of captain of the pony knights; his gaze looking warily up towards the direction they had just come from.
Knight Light's gaze fell over Captain Silver Lancer, his brow furrowing as other contingency plans raced through his mind. At this rate, their pursuers would be upon them in mere moments. There simply wasn't any way for them to escape in their fully armored barding much longer, unless
"We should split up" Captain Silver Lancer began to announce, but his words were cut short.
"No, we shall not!" Knight Light stamped his hoof firmly into the ground, "I refuse to abandon my fellow knights to the enemy!"
"Pardon me, milord," Captain Silver Lancer retorted in a matter-of-factly tone, "But traveling in a formation such as ours leaves us both slow and vulnerable. We must split up and divide our foe's attention if we are to escape."
"And the last time I looked, Captain," Knight Light emphasized the Captain's rank and position in a not-so-subtle reminder of his station, "I was the one still in charge here."
"S-s-sire, I have to agree," a timid, barely audible voice called a distance, backing that of the Captain.
The trio of ponies turned to see two more members of their company rejoin their ranks. Of the two that showed themselves, only one had had any distinguishing characteristics to the other earth pony knights; he was the pegasus messenger of the group.
"I think you've been out-voted, milord. You do realize that if you are caught, this whole quest will end in failure."
Knight Light averted his gaze and paused to think for a moment. As the knights stared at their leader in silence, it was interrupted briefly when Knight Light suddenly hoof-stomped the ground in frustration.
He knew what they were saying was correct, but at the same time it wasn't something he had to like. A long, tense silence hung over the group; the mist of that early morning day clung to their coats and seemed stifling. At long last, their leader finally spoke.
"Fine, I shall relent to this plan for now. But each and every one of thou are not to throw thy lives away needlessly, understood?" Knight Light took a deep breath as he looked northwards towards their destination, "We shall split up and regroup before we continue onto Canterlot together."
"Canterlot is still a distance away, milord. Where shall we meet up before then?" queried the Captain.
"There was a small village not too far from here, I saw it while we were cresting the hill," the meek pegasus knight spoke up and realized he had spoken out of turn, "I-I'm sorry, milord!"
"That's quite all right, Butterscotch. I had asked for options and thou hath given me what I needed. So it's settled, to this village we shall hasten."
"It is agreed, milord," the other knights nodded in agreement.
The sound of a clattering of hooves could be heard nearing their location; each pony in the company froze on the spot as it was all too familiar to the troop. Knight Light's eyes echoed the alarm and worry that each knight there knew in their hearts; for it was the sound of their pursuers closing in
and rapidly at that!
"Quick, we must be off! Good luck to everypony. Fare thee well!"
And with that, the five knightly ponies split off individually into the underbrush while a furious storm followed closely right behind them. All unknowns to the sleepy inhabitants of that sleepy, little village in the distance. A village's name that just happened to be called Ponyville.
* * *
"Spike, Spike! Where are you?" Twilight Sparkle called out as she cantered back and forth about the main room of her library, her voice in a tizzy.
"I'm right here, Twilight!" Spike declared from atop a ladder near one of the back bookshelves.
"Have you found that book Fabulous Fables and Fantastical Fairy Tales yet?" Twilight asked with a slightly exasperated tone.
Usually she was so organized, but when it came to keeping track of her collection of books
well, that was another story entirely; and one that would have ended poorly if not for her closest and number one assistant, Spike.
"Not yet. It was that red book, wasn't it?" Spike threw himself headfirst into his search, digging through Twilight's treasure trove of books to try and find the one book that eluded his best friend's efforts.
But they were not the only two in the room. A third pony sat quietly at Twilight's table. She was a dignified guest from Canterlot who watched the two residents of Ponyville with fascination. She sat quietly on her side, atop a purple cushion with gold trimmings that Twilight had provided for her guest.
She was a unicorn graced with a snow white coat and a two-toned mane that seemed to shimmer between a soft teal and an even softer, deeper sea blue-green pattern. Her flank was marked by the image of an angel holding a choir book while her storm gray eyes followed the pacing of Ponyville's most respected librarian.
"Twilight, you really needn't go through all this trouble for me," she spoke with a beautiful, crystal-clear soprano voice that seemed to echo off the wooden walls of Twilight's room.
"Nonsense, you came here to retrieve a very important item for Princess Luna and as a loyal subject of Princess Celestia I will produce what is requested of me," Twilight stopped in her pacing as a quiet voice in her head suddenly reminded her of her position as hostess and turned to face the Canterlot unicorn, "By the way, how are you enjoying the tea?"
The snow-white unicorn blinked, momentarily caught off guard at the sudden change of subject. It only took a moment for her to collect herself as she realized she was holding a cup of Twilight's tea this whole time and had been sipping at it unconsciously.
"It's quite good, I have to say. I've never had anything quite so rich or exquisite before. Where did you say you got this recipe?"
"My friend Zecora was kind enough to give it to me. She lives out in the Everfree Forest and I frequently go out there to pay her a visit and pick up another batch. Perhaps before you return, I can give you some for your trip back home?"
"That would be most delightful, most delightful indeed!" Angel Song replied with a smile on her face smiling.
Blinking her eyes suddenly, she cleared her throat and quickly tried to play off that momentary outburst of hers; returning back to her usual tranquil and lady-like manner
"I mean, I'm sure her Highness would be overjoyed to taste such a fine blend."
"Twilight, I found it!" Spike proclaimed from the top of the bookshelves, thrusting his tiny arm into the air with the object of their search tight in his claws.
Angel Song and Twilight Sparkle looked up at the baby dragon and chuckled softly in unison. There was something to be said about the sight of a pudgy baby dragon pumping his arm into the air like if he had placed first in the Running of the Leaves.
"All right, all right; that's enough there champ," Twilight smiled and, using her magical powers, gently levitated Spike to the floor between herself and Angel Song.
"I did well, didn't I?" he placed the book before Angel Song and took in a deep breath, puffing up his chest, which was quite a ridiculous sight for someone of his short stature.
"Of course, that is why you are my Number One Assistant, is it not? Now, could you please fetch some snacks for our guest? I'm sure she would love to try some of those delicious cookies you were making earlier to go along with the tea, of course."
Twilight thanked Spike as he zipped off into the kitchen to whip up some of his homemade snacks for the two unicorns, thus leaving Twilight and Angel Song alone in the study.
Angel Song wasted no time in using her magic to open the book and flip through the contents of the dusty tome. She seemed to have quickly engrossed herself in the pony tales while Twilight merely smiled from her position as a silent observer. The sound of fluttering pages was the only thing to pierce through the silence of the room, that was until Twilight eventually spoke up.
"Is that what you were looking for?" Twilight asked curiously as she laid down beside Angel Song, pulling up her own pillow to also rest her body atop of.
"These are such romantic stories! This one here is about a charming princely pony that comes to save a fair damsel in distress. I've always been fond of stories such as these," Angel Song then raised her head and closed the book when she realized where she was, "I mean, this is exactly what Princess Luna was looking for."
Twilight giggled politely to herself, nodding politely at her guest.
"If I may ask, did Princess Luna say why she needed such a book? I'm sure a copy of this must exist in the Canterlot Royal Library?"
"Quite perceptive of you, Twilight. I also concur with your analysis. I'm more than certain that such a copy does indeed exist somewhere within the Royal Canterlot Library," Angel Song said coolly and calmly, though Twilight grinned even when she caught the royal servant sneaking a quick peek back into the book.
Twilight chuckled at the snow white pony's reaction as she noticed the unicorn leaning closer and closer into the book as she covertly struggled to continue whatever story she had just been reading.
"Though I don't understand," Twilight wrinkled her nose and made a slight face, "Why would she make you come all the way out here to Ponyville for a book that she could easily get from Canterlot?"
"Oh, Twilight," Angel Song absently reached out a hoof and gently patted Twilight Sparkle on the head, "There is much more to this trip than you realize. Her Highness has indeed been most interested in tales of princes and princesses as of late, that is true. It reminds her of those halcyon days before she ended up being banished to the moon for a thousand years."
"So then what else could" Twilight began but was immediately hushed by the ever-graceful Canterlot unicorn.
"Twilight," Angel Song finally pried herself away from the intriguing tale that had preoccupied her attention to turn and smile softly at the librarian, "When you saved Princess Luna and returned her to her rightful place in Canterlot, she was very much a scared and solitary recluse
though, please don't tell Princess Luna I ever said such a dreadful thing!"
Twilight smiled and nodded in agreement, permitting Angel Song to continue in her explanation.
"I was assigned to be her hoof-maiden ever since that day she first returned to Canterlot Castle, and I very much admire the dedication and diligence she takes in her duties as Princess of the Night. But she never made any real friends and only has ever confided truly in Princess Celestia or myself. Mind you, it took her forever and a day to open up to me.
But then came the day of Nightmare Night and when she returned from that celebration
Twilight, I don't think you understand how much of an impression you left upon her, and for the better I might add! I personally believe that the true reason she sent me here was not to fetch this book but to find an excuse to hear from you, as indirect as this may all be."
Twilight's eyes seem to shimmer under the sunlight shining in from the window as she felt something tug at her chest. Princess Luna had indeed had a hard time fitting in no thanks to Rainbow Dash, Twilight mentally noted. That night had nearly ended the celebration of Nightmare Night for all eternity! But after much effort and planning, Luna was finally accepted by everypony and learned to open up and be herself. The results of Luna's transformation from scary figure to loved Princess then spread like wildfire to the other ponies in Ponyville and everypony soon too accepted her too. That singular thought almost brought Twilight to tears as she recalled that night as if it were only yesterday.
Almost precisely on cue as Spike always found the right time and place for everything he did - the smell of freshly baked cookies wafted into the room. Both unicorns closed their eyes and took in a big whiff of the delicious aroma before they turned their attention to the source of the treat, both with a mouth-watering smile on their faces.
Spike set down a tray of cookies along with two glasses of milk before each of the unicorns and bowed politely. Angel Song was reminded from Spike's body language of the royal servants in Canterlot Castle and giggled softly.
"Ladies, may I present to you my own personal treat; these are some of my freshly baked homemade triple-decker nut-crazy vanilla-cream cookies!"
Angel Song blinked curiously at the baby dragon's name for his self-proclaimed creation, briefly glancing over at Twilight Sparkle for assurance. The librarian merely giggled in response as she picked up a cookie with her magic.
"Don't worry, they are quite delicious, I assure you," Twilight promised the Canterlot pony and took a delicious bite of her own cookie.
"Well, if you insist
I guess one bite couldn't hurt
With the trepidation of a newborn foal, Angel Song slowly picked up the cookie, dipped it in milk, and then hovered it in front of her face. With elegance and poise, she took a small and very graceful nibble of the cookie. She chewed the cookie warily in her mouth before her expression eased from cautious optimism to softened delight.
"Wow, these are quite magnificent. Thank you, Spike," Angel Song gave him her smile of approval, the beauty of which caused Spike to blush shyly.
"Aww, you really don't need to say that," he paused as the two other unicorns looked at him, "No, really you can say more."
"Spiiiiike," Twilight gave him a stern yet playful look, and he sunk down humbly into his seat at the end of the table.
"Oh, that is quite all right," Angel Song interrupted, though Twilight could have sworn she caught a brief glimpse of a look of worry and concern on her face, "Mr. Spike, you are a marvelous baker. If I may be so bold to ask, could you make me another batch that I might take back with me to Canterlot? I'm sure Princess Luna and Princess Celestia would love to taste such a divine treat."
Twilight studied the unicorn's expression quietly, trying to find any hints of that earlier face Angel Song had made, but with no such luck. Perhaps it was just her imagination?
Either way, she didn't want to make too big a deal out of it. How would Angel Song know the usual way she interacted with her best assistant in the whole wide world?
"Twilight, Twilight!" shouted a very familiar voice from outside as somepony was banging loudly on the front door.
"What in all Equestria is that about?" Angel Song looked perturbed from the constant banging racket that was greeting Twilight's front door.
"I wonder who that could be
" Twilight said to herself and half-rolled her eyes before nodding towards Spike.
Spike skipped quickly over to the door and the moment he touched the knob, it was as if a magical force field that held it place had suddenly dropped. Their 'visitor' flung the door wide-open and charged in at full speed. Unfortunately it wasn't much to Spike's benefit, as he got reacquainted with the door and the wall the hard way.
As Spike was pancaked by the door, Pinkie Pie flew in and threw herself upon Twilight Sparkle, her hooves grabbing onto Twilight shoulders for support and shaking her almost violently.
"Piiinnnkkiiiee Piiiee... whaaatttt areeeee yoooouuu dooooiinnng?" Twilight struggled to say throughout the shaking, while a beleaguered and confused Angel Song seemed to be at loss for words and looked on in worry.
"Twilight, Twilight! There's a new pony near town! You have to come and see, come and see!"
pony?" Angel tilted her head to one side, narrowing her eyes, "But wait, you said near town? Then that means this stranger has not even arrived in Ponyville?"
"Yup, that's right!" Pinkie Pie nodded and let go of Twilight to put her hoof in the air if she were testifying about the truth in a court of law. It was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! At least that was by Pinkie Pie's logic and thinking.
Twilight continued to shake back and forth despite being released from Pinkie Pie's 'death grip' on her, and it took a quick-thinking Spike to spring into action and grab ahold of Twilight, jarring her out of her convulsions.
thanks, Spike," muttered a dizzy and semi-nauseous Twilight Sparkle as the room continued to spin for her.
The purple librarian shook her head and took a deep breath. That seemed to have stopped the room from spinning for the most part now, though that wasn't much comfort for her or her stomach.
"Pinkie Pie, if this pony isn't even in Ponyville yet, how do you know he is even on his way here?" Twilight asked, as Angel Song also shared her same burning curiosity.
"Well, I was out looking for Rainbow Dash to ask if she wanted to come to Sugarcube Corner and make some cupcakes with me when she suddenly flew away from me. I don't know why she does that, maybe she just didn't see me? So I was like 'Hey Rainbow Dash, Rainbow Dash!' and I was all hopping and skipping after her and pretty soon I was waaaaaaaayyyy outside of town when I suddenly saw this pony! And I'll tell you Twilight, I've never seen a any pony"
" muttered Twilight.
"like that in all my life! Never have I been so excited, though not as excited as when you first came here and I was like 'Oohhhh!!!' and"
"Pinkie!" Twilight raised her voice, jarring everyone in the room out of their captive stupors from Pinkie's rambling, "Focus girl, you were saying you saw this pony
"Oh yes! He was quite a handsome pony, if I do say so myself! And I do say so myself! He was like a streak of black and blue and like whoooosh! He ran so fast he was like a blur and I tried following him but then I lost him, though I think he was on his way to Applejack's farm. So I was like I got to go tell Twilight because she would really want to meet this pony so then I ran all the way back here and so I was slamming my head on the door going all like 'Twilight, Twilight!' and then the door opened and then I was like shaking you over and over and"
"Spike, get my usual things, will you?" Twilight cut in though Pinkie Pie continued to ramble on.
"Angel Song, would you like to accompany us?" Twilight asked her guest politely.
Twilight rose on all fours as Angel Song's storm gray eyes seemed to toss and turn as she was deep in thought, pondering Twilight's request. As the storm in her eyes settled, she eventually nodded to Twilight and magically lifted the pony tale book and placed it into her saddle sack that was lying nearby.
"I think I will, thank you. I'm sure Princess Luna would love to hear a good story or two when I get back, and meeting a stranger does sound like it might make an interesting story."