Music of the Night

by Aegis Shield

Chapter 1: Music of the Night

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A/N: Songfic ahead, be wary if you've not seen at least one version of the Phantom of the Opera.

Music of the Night (Part 1)

Twas a night like any other, a warm summer’s eve, in a place that perhaps you seen in your dreams.
It was another evening in Equestria and all through a pony town, it twas past time for ponies to be lying down.
All snug in their beds, warm and tired, even Pinkie Pie was in bed (no longer sugar-wired).
The stars not yet twinkling, for you see, Luna was looking at the sky, a pitch dark sea…

“It seems even a thousand years does not change the habits of ponies.” Luna sulked just a little. “They still do not appreciate our beautiful nights.” She flapped her wings open, her horn aglow with deeper magicks than most ponies could even dream of. Slowly, stars began to wink into existence and the moon began its ascent into the evening sky. The sun had been tucked away by Luna’s sister, Celestia, so it was her turn to look after all things heavenly. That meant bringing out the moon and aligning the stars just so. But with everypony asleep it hardly seemed worth it anymore. She sighed. This was the same sort of problem she’d felt a thousand years ago. Ponies playing and running about all day, and then lying asleep all night unappreciative of her beautiful starry nights. Atop that, a thousand years of being feared wasn’t exactly cured overnight. The recent success at Nightmare Night had been a substantial victory, but many ponies still feared her. “Was a thousand years exile not enough for our foolishness?” she mumbled, admiring the random plots of stars in the sky. Standing regal on the crest of the hill, she almost didn’t notice when somepony wandered past on the road, past some park benches and stopped under a tree. “Huhm?” she leaned a little, blink-blinking. The hour was late, who was that out wandering around thus?

He was a white colt, with an electric blue mane and black glasses on. The lenses were colored so darkly Princess Luna wondered how he saw anything at all in the night. She watched him find a good spot under a tree by the lake, seat himself, and heave a happy sigh. Someone enjoyed her night, perhaps? She NEEDED to go meet this pony! She approached noisily, her hooves clopping along as she sprinted down the hill to greet him. He whirled about, standing up. “Who’s that?” he said, his head veering in all directions.

“It is us.” Princess Luna said, standing plainly in the middle of the path. His head stopped veering around and his ears perked. His head cocked and he turned his head slightly to hear her more closely. “We saw you here beside the lake and wanted to say hello!”

“Oh, hello there.” He said carefully, hoofing at the ground lightly.

He didn’t seem to be looking at her directly, but past her. Luna briefly checked over her shoulder. Nothing there. Trying to be more sociable, even with one pony, she took a couple of steps forward. “Do you enjoy the stars?” her tone was a little obnoxious, but she was still getting used to speaking outside the normal Royal Canterlot Voice. She leaned forward as though upset with him, and he leaned back a bit. “Uhm,” she put a hoof briefly to her mouth. “The stars are nice, did you come out to see them?” she said much more sweetly, leaning back out of his face.

“Not exactly, no.” he smiled gently, his eyebrows bunching. “But I hear they’re nice.” He inclined his muzzle just a little, and his dark glasses slid down his face a bit. His eyes were milky and the color muted. Blind. He was blind.

“What brings the blind out into the summer night?!” Luna was shocked, approaching rapidly and peering at him with bold curiosity. “Thou couldst fall and get hurt or something!”

“I’m alright. Night time is actually the safest for me.” He said, smiling and pushing his glasses back up.

“What dost thou mean safest?” Luna’s wings folded down and she blink-blinked at him.

“Well, I can’t see so I have to rely on all my other senses to get around on my own.” He told her. “So, at night when it’s quieter and there are fewer ponies moving around, it’s easier for me to… see, the world. Y’know what I mean?” he gestured vaguely with his hoof, trying to explain. Luna was leaning to one side, looking at him from different angles. He didn’t appear to be injured or lost or anything of the sort. He seemed quite capable.

“Forgive us, we did not mean to insinuate that thou art helpless.” Luna said, her ears turning back.

He smiled at her rather broadly. “Well, thanks. It takes people a long time to realize that just because a pony has a disability, doesn’t mean they need to be coddled. My name is Cleff, what’s yours?”

Luna’s mind instantly raced. If she said she was Princess Luna, she would automatically be linked to the legend of the horror of Nightmare Moon, her evil incarnation. “Uhm… eh-ehrr…” the powerfully-voiced alicorn stuttered a moment.

Cleff cocked his head. “Well, you don’t hafta tell me if you don’t want. You’re probably some high-ranking official or something, right?” he sat on his haunches and turned his head towards the lake. The frogs and crickets serenaded the night.

“How didst thou KNOW?!” Luna demanded, her Royal Canterlot Voice slipping for a moment. The force of her voice made Cleff’s mane flap wildly. Her hoof jumped to her mouth. “Wh-what gave us away?” she asked a little more softly.

“The way you speak.” Cleff said, pausing briefly to scratch at his cutie mark. Adorning his flank was a circle, a dot, a circle, and another dot. Luna surmised perhaps it was brail, the written language of the blind. But surely his cutie mark, which was supposed to represent a pony’s talent, would not be a herald of his disability? That seemed unfair to him. But, she did not bring it up. “You sound like you’re talking to a crowd, or maybe in front of ponies of much lower rank. Not used to relaxing for five minutes?” he cocked his head, smiling gently.

Luna wilted a little, even her wings unfolding to droop on the ground. “Forgive us, we didst not mean to speak down to you, Cleff.”

He smiled, nodding. “Forget about it, you’re fine.” Cleff cocked his head at the barely audible sound of feathers on the ground. “So, out flying in the clear night, or just getting some air?” he said conversationally.

“I… uhm…” Luna thought fast. “Our work takes place at night, you see, when all the other ponies go to bed.”

“Ohh, I see.” He nodded sagely. “What do you do?”

“Wuh… weather.” It was an outright lie, but he seemed to believe her.

“Lots of Pegasus ponies work on the weather around Ponyville. I hear it’s the gem of the kingdom, outside Canterlet.” Cleff nodded. “It’s nice of you to keep thunderstorms away during the night. They would keep ponies awake, and they’d lose sleep.” He praised her. “It must be a thankless job, huh, since everyone else is asleep?” Luna blushed despite herself. Even through her web of lies he spotted some truths, this one!

“We look after as many ponies as we can. Whether they appreciate it or not.” There was some bitterness in her tone that even she heard, and she found herself sitting slowly. “Tell us about yourself, Cleff. We seem to have the night together.” She offered so that he would do the talking instead of her.

“Well, I’m DJ Pon-three’s little brother.” He said conversationally. “I’m musically inclined, but not like that pounding, deafening stuff she likes to play.” He shuddered. “When I can’t hear at all, I really am helpless, so I have to stay far away when she’s playing that stuff.” Luna had never heard of DJ Pon3, but nodded. Then she remembered he couldn’t see her nodding and sighed a little. “I sing, personally.” He said, smiling coyly. “I’m pretty good.”

“Thou dost?” Luna said, a little surprised. “Thou are?”

“Mhm. I sing the music of the night, sometimes.” His cheeks colored even as he said it. How lame did it sound to say out loud, even to a stranger?

“There is music for the night? We didst not know this!” Luna stood, leaning into his face with her mouth in a perfect o-shape. “Whilst thou share the music of the night with us, Cleff?!” it sounded almost desperate, but she really was very excited at such a concept. Imagine, a form of music just for her vocation! It was exciting!

“O-oh, okay.” He nodded slowly, a little put on the spot suddenly. “Can you… make a little breeze, here by the pond, weather-pegasus?” he asked her, gesturing in the vague direction of the whistling cattails. Luna bit her lower lip a little. Weather ponies controlled the clouds, not the wind currects. Well, if he was blind he probably didn’t know that. Concentrating a moment, she wavered the waters, and then the whistling cattails. They bent accordingly, and began to whistle. It was a good thing he was blind, or he would see her horn glowing. Cleff nodded his approval when a sweet melody slowly emerged from the plants. He stood upon the embankment of the pond, on a little flat rock that suddenly became his stage. His chest inflated with breath while Luna looked on, her magicks sparkling silently. With something simple like a phantom breeze, she could keep it up effortlessly for hours. She watched him do what looked like breathing exercises for a few moment, his frame moving in an up and down motion for a bit.

Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation.
Darkness wakes, and stirs imagination.
Silently the senses, abandon their defenses…

Cleff trailed off a moment, turning to the left and beginning a slow and easy walk. The tweeting crickets and night birds paused in their activities, positively mesmerized by the voice. Luna followed, rather slack-jawed for a princess of such high standing. His voice was haunting, practiced, whispy. She loved it instantly, and her wings flapping open in genuine excitement.

Slowly, gently night unfurls its splendor.
Grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender
Turn your face away from the garish light of day!
Turn your thoughts away from cold, unfeeling light!
And listen to the music of the ni-iiight…

Cleff’s vibrato was simply stunning. Luna felt heat blossoming hard in her face as he inclined her head to one side with a careful hoof. This was not just singing, but a performance with a partner intended. Opera? It was hard to tell. The cattails whistled spectrally along, and she followed him a bit closer. She was curious, and strangely light-headed. His voice was beautiful. She dared not speak while he pranced forward, behind a tree and then around it. His footing was unsure because of his blindness, but he made it around unscathed. All the owls looked upon the pair of them, halted in their hooting.

Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams!
Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before!
Close your eyes, let your spirit start to so-ooooooooar!

He was crescendo-ing and Luna felt her eyes go soft and wide in exhilaration. The final word was far higher in key than any colt had the right to be, and Luna felt her eyebrows jump. When he came back down to earth, he gave a shuddering whisp,

And you’ll live… as you’ve never lived… before.

She came near to him to hear better, leaning to take in all he would say. Luna could feel the twinkle of the stars, bits of magic escaping her control as she rode the jubilation of someone singing for the night. The thrill was immeasurable.

Softly, deftly, music shall caress you!
Hear it, feel it, secretly possess you.
Open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind!
In this darkness that you know you cannot fi-iiiight…

Cleff steered her about the clearing and near the pond, around the trees and through the path. Like a dance between a snake-charmer and a flutist. He paused a moment for breath.

The darkness of the music of the ni-iiiiiight…

The princess followed Cleff about as though they were waltzing, entranced by his wonderful voice and its lovely lyrics. So true were they, his words of the night and their wonderful tune! She wanted to be nearer, and she stopped as he almost stepped into her. He read the sounds of her body language and stopped mere inches from her.

Let your mind start a journey to a strange new world,
leave all thoughts of the life you knew before!
Let your SOUL take you where you long! To be-eeeeee!

He was crescendo-ing once more, to the very mountaintops! Luna gasped in exhilaration, rearing up in her wordless joy. He held the note until the very foundations of the pond and surrounding area shivered. Luna fell to gasping, having been holding her breath throughout the held note. Her head drooped until it was almost to his level. They were nose to nose, almost.

“Only then— can you belong—to me.” He whispered, the vibrato bringing them back to earth, but the words backing Luna’s frame shiver.

Then the words registered and she jolted back to reality. She stood upright. “What?!”

Yanked out of the flow of his song, Cleff stutter-stepped. “H-whut?” he said, cocking his head back and forth blindly. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing! We are just… just…” there was a thundering in her stalwart frame, one of flushed excitement. “Thy song UPLIFTS US FROM SADNESS!” her Royal Canterlot Voice exploded back into being, and she reared up joyfully as lightning split the sky in a fantastic display. “MOST WONDERFUL OF NIGHTS!” She embraced him, throwing him over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes. He let out of a squeaky toy sound when she squeezed, wiggling a little until she put him down.

“Th-thank you?” he said, trying to ignore the new chink in his back. Though he was blind, his eyes displayed dazzled swirls of dizziness.

The Next Day…

The street traffic of ponies was parting frantically, for a dark armored alicorn and twin guards walked among them. Trying to be regal and upright, Luna held her chin high and her eyes closed in the way that was only proper for royalty to do. She stopped in front of the only record store in Ponyville, Vinyl Scratch’s Beats. The place was not hard to find after Luna had asked enough palace staff about where one goes to find recorded music. That sort of thing hadn’t been around a thousand years ago, so she was especially excited to try out such an attractive idea. If music could be contained on a flat circle in all its magnificence, then surely it was just as wonderful as in real life.

Luna pushed the door open, regal as always. The scattering of ponies in the store turned, their pupils shrinking into terrified expressions. Princess Luna nodded at her twin guards and they stood on either side of the entrance to give her privacy. She stepped slowly among the aisles of records, CD’s and other devices. Frowning and quickly becoming overwhelmed at technology she’d never seen before, she went instead to the counter.

A white pony with an electric blue mane and purple rave glasses stood there, nodding to whatever was pounding in her headphones at the moment. When she spotted Luna she gasped in terror, the headphones falling off. “P-princess! Princess Luna!” she said, quavering and then sinking into a low four-legged bow.

Luna sighed inwardly. Still the commonfolk feared her. Well, she may as well give them what they wanted. “We have experienced the JOY OF THY SIBLING’S VOICE!” she said, pointing powerfully at her with a hoof. “WE WISH TO FIND A RECORDING, TO EXPERIENCE IT WHEN WE PLEASE!” she cuffed the counter a bit, spider-webbing cracks across it. “HAVE YOU SUCH A THING IN YOUR RECORDS!?”

Vinyl Scratch’s mane flapped about and the shop’s windows threatened to burst in the concussive force of the Royal Canterlot Voice. “Uhm-m-m! You mean my brother C-Cleff? Sure th-thing!” She reached under the counter with her mouth, setting the desired record, wrapped and a little dusty, on the counter. Luna scanned the cover where, sure enough, the image of Cleff was there, beaming in his dark glasses.

“THIS PLEASES US! THANK YOU!” Luna dropped a small bag of bits, way too much for a single record, on the counter. She took her prize and spun about on her hooves, heading back.

“Th-th-thank you! Come again!” Vinyl Scratch stuttered, staring at the princess as she left, and then the bag that could no doubt buy an entire rack of records with ease. The bell above the door jingled, and the princess was gone. She watched the silhouette’s wings flap open, and the twin guards take off with her, gone.

Luna got home to the palace with her prize under her wing. When she got at last to her private chambers, guards stationed at her door as per usual, she unwrapped the record. It was a circular thing with tiny grooves up and down it on both sides. There was a hole in the middle, as though it needed to be mounted on something. She stuck the tip of her horn briefly into the hole, wondering if magic would activate it. No.

“Reveal to me thy secrets, record…” she murmured, turning it over and over as she lay on her belly on a cushion. She frowned, biting her lip. The packaging picture of Cleff smiled up at her brightly and she frowned back at him. “Did I miss something?” she pondered over the record and how to coax music out of it. Her royal temper was slowly bubbling up within her, for she was an alicorn easily frustrated by simple problems. Growling, she ignited her horn, ready to blast the record and make it play the music she so desired.

“Something troubling you, little sister?” The voice was feminine, and the horn-blast went off in Luna’s startlement! An arc of dark magic blasted across the room, hit a mirror, then shot out into the afternoon sky via the balcony windows. Luna turned, her face hot with embarrassment.

“Celestia…” she murmured, trying to fight down the heat in her entire face. She could feel her heart pounding in her ears. Her sister was elder and wiser, perhaps she would help. “I’ve acquired something amazing, big sister, please show me how it works!” she showed Celestia the mysterious record and all its grooved riddles.

Celestia smiled despite herself. “I keep forgetting that you’ve been away for a thousand years, little sister. Records are a relatively new invention, when you live as long as we do.” Her horn was alit with magic, taking both the record and its slip package with them. Celestia led the way to her own quarters, ponies parting the way as they travelled the hall. Luna and Celestia’s guards all four nodded to each other, still trying to get used to each other’s presence. When they arrived at Celestia’s room, she produced a record player from a closet and taught Luna how to use it.

Coaxing the record onto the tray and placing the needle just so, Luna turned the crank and waited anxiously with perked ears. Soon, after a bit of crackling, Cleff’s voice emerged from the horn and Luna beamed happily! Childish wonder poured from her and she pranced a bit, until she saw Celestia staring at her with a bemused expression. She calmed down, going and standing under her sister’s wing. They nuzzled each other affectionately, then sat upon a big cushion to enjoy the music of the night while the afternoon wore on.

End of Part 1

Next Chapter: Hear as the Outcast Hears Estimated time remaining: 2 Hours, 17 Minutes
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