by Orcus

Chapter 1: To Escape a Storm

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Thunder crashed and roared above the city of Manehattan, filling the night air with deafening sounds and flashed of lightning. Rain poured down from the blackened sky like a blinding waterfall, and wandering through it as fast as could be seen was a pony-shaped figure dressed in a yellow raincoat that was shimmering with the wetness enveloping it. Sticking out from the hood covering its head was a single horn.

In a muddled fashion it trotted through the streets under the guiding light of the various lampposts lining the sidewalk. Passing the occasional turn at the ends of the roads, it continued to speed forth until it finally spotted the kind of building it had been searching for.

In bright, glowing neon lights, the word 'HOTEL' was shown, expressed on a sign vertically attached to the side of the building. Upon seeing this, the pony hurriedly entered it through the revolving door sitting in the front like an alluring candle. No sooner had it escaped the storm, the pony found itself in a wide and brightly lit, but empty lobby that seemed utterly devoid of any kind of life.

With a sigh of relief at being out of the rain, the figure pulled the hood down from its head, revealing a unicorn mare bearing a light green coat and light brown mane. Her eyes, shaded in a much darker form of brown, scanned around the lobby of the hotel until they spotted a check-in counter. Pulling her raincoat off and folding its soggy form up neatly with her green-tinted magic, exposing the sapphire-blue backpack she had been wearing underneath, she approached the counter and saw an earth pony stallion of a dull red color on the other side, who was currently napping with his head held in his hoof and glasses crookedly hanging over his short snout.

"Um... Hello?" the unicorn greeted, tapping a hoof on the greeting bell, sending out a small chime that snapped the clerk awake. Snorting as he fixed his glasses, he focused on the new shape standing before him with a grumpy leer that quickly mollified.

"Hmm... how may I assist you?" he asked.

"I would like to rent a room," she spoke, lifting a small pouch from her backpack and placing it in front of the clerk with a metallic jingle coming from within it. Looking into it, he saw there were a few coin bits inside of the pouch.

"A room? Well, that's what we're here for..." he mumbled back in a barely-mustered chuckle, placing the pouch to the side and yawning after he finished the sentence. Setting to work, he lifted a pencil and pulled out a medium-sized notepad. "How long do you wish to stay?"

"One night," was the pony's immediate answer, straightening her posture out in the process.

"You sure?" the clerk inquired. "Just a single night? We serve a full complimentary breakfast in the morning if you schedule for-"

"It's just for the night, thank you," she insisted. slowly nodding his head with a sigh of understanding, the pony behind the counter scribbled something down on a notepad and readjusted his glasses before getting up from his seat and exiting the counter.

"Here's your key," the clerk murmured in his tired voice, handing her the object he spoke of in his hoof. Using her magic to pick up the small object by the long orange tag sticking out from its base, the mare listened as he continued on. "You have room thirty-seven. Just go down the hall, take a left at the stairs, head to the first floor, and it's five doors further on the leftmost wall. I hope you have a good stay here, miss...?"

"Page. Page-Turner," she finished for him. With the directions pointed out, Page also gave him a grateful and polite nod. "Thank you."

"Ring if you want room service," the clerk sighed, returning behind the counter at a snail's pace. Rolling her eyes, but keeping her cheerful smile in the process, Page turned about and began to make her way down the hall, the key and wet raincoat floating behind her, each held in a greenish halo of magic.

By the flickering, pale-yellow light of the bulb resting on the ceiling above, Page-Turner was very busy working on the latest chapter of her latest novel in the room she was given. The only sound to fill the room was that of a feather quill pen scratching on paper, and when it wasn't that, it was the the rattling noise of the young mare sifting her hoof around a nearby bowl of peanuts she poured recently after calling for room service, or a burst of thunder from outside.

Page-Turner was a professional writer by choice and by trade. Her own cutie mark represented an open book with its pages fluttering by; gotten back when she had written her first, amateur book as a filly. And so far, according to the critics at the convention she had attended here in Manehattan, she was fairly talented at her craft. She was quickly gaining recognition in the world for it too, and her last novel was a bestseller that even made it into the newspaper.

She popped another peanut into her mouth and closed her teeth around it. As she slowly ground it into mush and swallowed it, a thought that caused her eyes to widen in excitement and brilliance flooded her mind, erasing any trace of doubt for what she had in store for the dramatic chase scene she was currently creating in her book. Forgetting everything else in her rush to perfect it, her feathered pen turned to a rapid flurry of movement that filled the next few pages in an ocean of words. Brushing her light brown mane back from her eyes with a hoof a scant few moments later, she took a few seconds to examine her handiwork with a proud glare.

And so it went in a similar motion for some time afterword. Dipping the feather pen's tip into the inkwell if it ever went dry, she would hastily return to filling the blank pages of the book with writing, though her movements had become much more sluggish with every passing hour. Unleashing a long, rumbling sigh, she finally decided to look to her silver-tinted pocket watch - a gift she received her father and mother from her last birthday - and flipped it open with her magic to see the time.

One-fifteen a.m.

Page let an exhausted puff of stale air leave her lips as she took in this information with a heavy heart. Regretfully, she pushed her seat back and got up from it, telekinetically placing a plain strip of crimson-colored cloth into the book like a bookmark, and closing it with a mostly-quiet clap. After that was done and over with, she grabbed and devoured one more peanut on the bowl before making her way toward the bed, and practically jumped into its inviting form; quickly squeezing herself underneath its thick covers.

She always admired how fluffy and comfortable hotel beds were, though she never lost her fear of bedbugs lurking in such a place as well. Thankfully, before she had gotten too comfy in this place, she made sure to check it for any sort of problems in that regard; to which she found nothing out of the ordinary.

After using her magic to shut off the light switch, the mare flopped her head onto the large, soft-as-goose-down pillow, and pulled the covers over her horned head. Within a few short minutes she slipped into a deep sleep, blissfully unaware of what lurked in the shadows of the cold outside and the downpour that seemed to continue without end.

And something was lurking in the shadows. Two things, actually.

The pony-shaped figures, both covered in tattered, robe-like jackets of a dark coloration and bearing hoods over their heads that hid any discernible facial features inside under a pair of inky black clouds, simply stood in silence on the sidewalk. Together they looked up at the hotel building they had been lead to through the heavy rain and bellowing thunder, and specifically had their sights set on a certain window with a light coming from within it for the last three hours. When the light finally went out, leaving it appearing as nothing more than another blackened rectangle on the hotel building, both lowered their heads simultaneously.

The slightly taller of the pair looked to the other in a quiet, slow motion. "It's time," were the first words he uttered in a deep, throaty, dragging voice that sounded like something dripping out of a coffin.

"And you're certain that she is the one you want? That she has all of the qualities you seek?" the smaller one asked; his voice much lighter in volume, bearing the personality of an ancient, creaking board that was likely to be found in an attic.

"Most certain," he replied, quite jovial in his tone, despite its dense volume. "And it's not so much what she has, as to what she is, my old servant."

"It might not have been a picnic the whole time I was with you, but all the same... I shall miss you, my master," the shorter one murmured, almost sorrowfully, after a short period of silence came between them. He lifted a hoof up and fixed a scarf-like wrapping of cloth that was spun around his neck from behind the hood before lowering it once more.

"And I shall too, through whatever may happen to me after this is all settled," the taller one sighed, before managing a long-drawn, cracked chuckle. "Now, you know what to do. Farewell."

Nodding, the shorter one began to walk away, leaving a small echo through the rain-soaked air on the cobblestone street with his hoofsteps. Refocusing his attention to the hotel, the other began to walk his cloaked frame forward toward it, fully ready for what was to come.

Next Chapter: Night Terrors Estimated time remaining: 28 Minutes
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