Dependable Blades

by DocDelray

Chapter 1: Prologue

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Heavy hooffalls on pristine marble floors echoed throughout the castle of Canterlot and combined with the clang of metal with every step. Stallions and mares alike, clad in shining golden armor marched their way into the courtyard of the palace as the sun above them began to make its way over the horizon. A sizable legion stood at attention while their commanding officers strode up and down the lines barking commands at them.

As the sun finally set and all were assembled, another loud ring of metal and hooves could be heard approaching from the side courtyard. A group of ponies clad in dark armor began to march their way into the main courtyard in formation. Unlike their golden-clad comrades, these Equestrians had eyes that shone in the darkness with a predatory gleam. Long, pointed ears sat atop their heads ending in tufts of fur while folded at their sides were long leathery wings.

The changing of the day shift with the night shift had always been a sight to behold for anypony lucky enough to be in the castle walls to witness it. They were Equestria’s bravest and strongest, after all, keepers of the peace and defenders of the crowns. Anypony would count themselves lucky to be counted amongst their number, a place of vaunted honor that was hard earned. And currently, one mare in particular was doing her part to earn her place.

Amber Shine was a young up-and-coming member of the guard, not yet a fully-fledged member. Her fiery mane and tail for which she was named had long since settled into a state of natural curls that stood out brightly against her dull blue fur and long bat like wings that stayed folded at her sides. Her golden, cat-like eyes watched the assembled ponies in the courtyard down below change shifts. The body of this mare was one of taut-and-toned muscle that reflected years of training in preparation for the day she would be one of those proud ponies in the courtyard below. She wore a lightweight cuirass and a pair of bracers around her forelimbs, though her armor was not as fanciful and well polished as the guards down below. A smile curled her lips at the thought of it, revealing the long pointed fangs of her kin.

“Oi, mind the daydreamin’, runt,” her commander snarled at her.

“S-sorry sir, I was just-“

“Just make believin’ you was one’a those fancy rank-and-show ponies down there again.” He stated flatly as a sharp eye fixed on her from beneath his tattered helmet.

“Uh… aye… sir,” she admitted as her ears and demeanor drooped to the floor.

Tch, chin up girl,” he scoffed at her as they continued strolling through the upper halls of the castle. “You’re doing real guardspony work, not stompin’ around in the open to look pretty for the nobles and dignitaries. You should start takein’ pride in that.”

“I know, sir…” She sighed as she kept pace behind him. “It’s just that, when I joined the Night Guard, I thought I’d be doing important things. I thought I’d be doing things like fending off assassins and other threats to the crowns.”

“You are doin’ important work,” he snapped at her. “You might not be livin’ the storybook fantasy you had in mind, but the work we do is just as important, don’t forget that, girl.”

“So, what important guardspony duty are we covering tonight, sir?”

“Real simple task, not even you can screw it up.” He replied. “We’re going to be assisting mage Burnt Ember with his latest spell.”

“Lab assistants,” Amber scoffed. “Forgive me, sir, if I don’t happily embrace the idea of scrubbing floors and fetching vials of newt eyes as the high point of a royal guard’s life.”

“You young pups, always itchin’ for adventure and hopin’ for a fight,” her leader grumbled. “Just wait till you get that adventure or that big fight, you’ll be beggin’ the princesses for simple tasks like these again.”

As they pushed open the door at the end of the hall, they were treated to sight neither of them certainly expected to find. Fiery bolts and streams of magical energy strafed the air around them and scorched the stonework of the room. The smell of burnt wood and paper filled their nostrils as the chaotic beams tore the room apart. At the center of it all was a tall cast iron brazier that spewed forth thick plumes of smoke.

Both guardsponies made a mad dash for the nearest piece of thick furniture they could find. Amber ventured a glance over her shoulder to see the spot she had been standing suddenly turn into a thick black smear.

“So, Sergeant, at what point does this go back to being a simple task?” Amber chuckled at him.

“Shut it!” He snapped at her as another bolt of magical energy struck their barricade. “What the in the fires of Tartarus happened here?!”

“I don’t know,” cried a shrill voice above the chaos. “Everything was added to the spell perfectly. This reaction, it shouldn’t be happening!”

“That you, Burney?!” the Sergeant asked.

“Yes, it’s me, and don’t call me ‘Burney’!”

“So how do we stop this thing!?”

“I’m working on that!”

Amber peeked out from behind cover just a bolt struck the wall beside her. Yelping in surprise she quickly pulled back into hiding. She knew they couldn’t just sit here, that they had to do something. Hiding behind an overturned desk while magical death filled the air around them, this wasn’t what a guardspony should be doing. They needed action and they needed it now.

“I’ve got an idea.” Amber proudly announced.

Before anyone could question the brash young mare, she had already darted out of cover. Running at a full gallop, she tried to close the gap between herself and the magical concoction gone mad. Her ears and wings pinned themselves against her body as she tried to make herself a smaller target. The air around her stunk of burnt fur and ozone as she barely avoided bolt after mystic bolt. Soon her destination had been reached, and with a loud battle cry, she reared up on her front hooves to give the brazier a hard kick.

A loud, thunderous bang filled the room and shook the castle, as her hooves connected with it and the mystical energies spewing forth became disrupted. Smoke filled their room coupled with the sounds of coughing. As the debris began to settle and the lack of magical chaos was no longer felt, the pair of ponies carefully strode out from their hiding spots. Cautiously they made their way through the haze to the source of all the problems, they braced themselves for twisted remains they might find, but neither were expecting this.

“Burney, was the spell supposed to do that?”

“I… well, no, of course not.”

“Then what am I lookin’ at?”

On the floor, where they had assumed either the unconscious or dead body of Amber Shine would be, was instead a head of cauliflower. The pair shared a look of confusion before looking back at the vegetable on the floor.

“I really hope you can fix this, Burney, because this is going to be one hell of an incident report!”

Next Chapter: Cauliflower? Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 51 Minutes
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