History Goes In Circles: Love Lost
"Feeling okay?" I ask Mistake when we leave the interrogation room.
Just yesterday he overtaxed his body and while I have no clue about energy needed to imitate Void's power I can guess it must have been a lot. The state of his head bothers me a bit more than the state of his body though.
"I needed the closure. I was sure he would never do anything out of ill will but I just needed to hear it from him. What about you, Chokey?"
Darky looks at the floor and stomps her hoof apprehensively.
"Do you really want to know? Some ponies prefer lies, I know I do quite often."
"I don't," Mistake shakes his head, "Nothing changed about my feelings for you. From day one I wanted to make you happy even for a simple second no matter the cost. I will accept anything you have to say without a word."
That can't be good.
"Fine then," Darky takes a deep breath, "I feel nothing towards you. I can place you into my memories but that doesn't change that I don't know you at all. You aren't even a friend. Heavy is, Cromach, while an asshole, is but while everypony is saying I should be crazy about you nothing makes me feel that way. Sorry."
"Okay," Mistake nods.
They say hope dies last and I've just seen it happen.
"Is it all?" Darky asks.
"Yes," Mistake smiles but his voice is flat, "I will keep out of your way if you want me to, if the memories make you uncomfortable. I will do anything you want to make you happy even if that thing is removing myself from you."
"We still have the assassination attempt to solve," Darky shifts uncomfortably at Mistake's words, "Let's leave personal things for later."
"Princess Luna said we had enough time so why don't we take a break and rest. I know I haven't had a good night's sleep since I left for the Empire," I offer.
"Fine with me," Darky nods, "I'll just report to Luna to see how long we were gone and take a day off. Think about what to do in this situation and let's meet tomorrow."
"Tomorrow," Mistake says and leaves the room.
Walking back to the apartment,,, it's late afternoon so our trip couldn't have sent us too far... unless the date changed but I doubt that's the case. The time doesn't bother me though, Mistake's silence does. I mean he isn't the talkative sort unless asked something but now he feels like... feels the same way as the day I met him wandering the streets.
"Everything all right?"
"Guess," he mumbles.
Yeah, the tone suggests that I should shove all my questions somewhere only vibrators and adventurous tongues fit. He needs time so I just walk silently by his side back to the apartment.
As soon as we enter Mistake walks into the bathroom and running water of our shower can be heard soon after. I, on the other hoof, know the cure for such blues and it is called alcohol. Remembering Mistake loving wine, I slip out of the building to get something not too cheap but still easy to find in abundance.
Returning with three cheapest bottles of sweet wine I could find, I realize the shower is still running. Despite trying to stay clean and fresh, Mistake has never been the type to try seven kinds of shampoo and three mane conditioners.
Is it possible his body gave up after his scrap with Void?
I should check. In case I'm wrong I can always mask it as being pervy. The door clicks open only to let me see the black unicorn sitting on the floor of the shower, blue mane clinging to his forehead leaning against the wall. When the cold air from the room reaches him in the warm water he turns to me and hides his face with front legs. I carefully walk to him and turn the shower off. Immediately I know that the running water was there to drown the noise, and possibly Mistake himself.
He's crying loudly, my entrance only making things worse.
I don't know what to say. I read the journals, I know how important Darky was to him. To hear her say nothing that happened means anything... I can't imagine how low he must be feeling right now. He's been through a lot for just one batpony and now he thinks he's alone.
He isn't though.
"Shhh," I sit down, cradle him in my arms, and start stroking his cheek. I can sit here all day if need be.
Fortunately, it isn't. After few minutes of brushing his mane and close contact his ragged breathing and sobbing finally slows down.
"Better?" I let my claws go down his back and then run my hand up again. There's no way I'm going to do something stupid like going lower right now. As much as the wet unicorn pressed against me tempts me I'm not stupid enough to push it right now and ruin everything. Trust is easy to lose and taking advantage of Mistake in such state, while probably easy, would be idiotic beyond belief.
He just looks up at me but breaks eye contact second later. Guided by my hand, he looks back up again and I scratch the long fur on his chin.
"Why?" he mumbles, "Why do you waste your time with me?"
How to answer it correctly?
I find you sexy beyond belief? No. True, but no.
My entire soul kept screaming at me to stay by your side even while you were desperately in love with someone else? No.
You persuaded the princesses and your friends to save me after I almost made all of them die for my own benefit? No.
None of those fit. Even if none of that happened I would have been happy just doing whatever job I found in this city and returning home to Mistake every evening and cuddling him in a bed made for one pony. I could look into those pink eyes all day as long as they looked back, well, at least one of them. I would learn how to repair mechanical gadgets just to have him lean against me while I repaired his arm or added a rocket launcher to it.
All that despite knowing he feels the same way about Darky. There is only one word in the entirety of invented language that fits here.
"Because I love you."
"I don't know, right? I just do so stop asking nonsense!"
And he does. For the first time he stops the unheard 'why?' and...
...smiles. The sadness is there but something new melts the shadows in it and lets light come through.
"Clean enough?" I point at the wet floor and lick a drop of water from his muzzle.
"Give me a second," he nods towards the door and when I don't move, scared of losing this moment, he adds, "I won't make you wait."
Brushing the strand of blue mane from his face, I pick myself up from the cold floor and walk outside. Mistake comes out few minutes later, mane brushed and coat dry.
"Drink?" I wave one of the bottles on the table.
He sniffs the open bottle, scowls, and sits on the bed next to me.
"This thing hasn't seen grapes in a documentary. Still," he takes a swig, "as long as it strips paint it's good enough."
The afternoon turns to evening...
"Yoo 'member how I tried to set yoo up wit' Chryssie?"
"Daaamn dude, I almost pissed myself when I saw that hacksaw she calls a horn."
"Missed an' evenin' offa lifetime!" he bops my head, "She can grow tento- tenticulo- ten tickles in her pusshy that reach up to yer rump."
...and the evening slowly drifts away as well. I tell my stories from being a recruit and Mistake puts a little personal detail into some of the more interesting journal entries I remember.
One thing I have to commend him on is that he's definitely not a lightweight. He gets buzzed easily and he's a great drunk but at the point when much larger earthponies, and most griffons, would keel over he's still capable of speaking... well, shpeekinngh.
In the end he falls on his back, legs spread.
"Sheein' I'm free tonite," he hiccups and giggles, "Feelin' ex... pe...rimun.. tall?"
I just put the last bottle down by the bed and draw the blanket over his head. His breathing slows down one short movement later and in the darkness he's out like a light. Turning the bedside lamp off, I slide under the covers as well.
I'm not gonna bang you while you're drunk off your ass. One evening I will take you out for dinner. After that I'll find the best love hotel in Canterlot, carry you through the door while ordering the cheesiest room they have. I might even grope you a little while the receptionist looks for the key just so she can hear you coo happily. The room will have a bathtub big enough for both of us with water so hot we'll melt into one being. I will get out first and let you brush that sky-blue mane of yours while I throw rose petals around, making a little walkway leading to bed.
I will make sure you remember our first night, not wake up with hangover strong enough to make a minotaur barf.
After all, there is no rush, at least not until I start pumping you like a pneumatic hammer.
Damn, and I was so romantic for a while there.
"Good night," I hug the unconscious unicorn.
Another morning comes, this one bringing more promise than most before.
The door opens and quite chipper Mistake throws a warm and delightfully smelling paper package at me. Waking up early? After so much drinking? Is this opposite day?
"I didn't want to bring forth apocalypse by trying to cook breakfast so I went to Donut Joe's and brought something sweet."
"You're sweet enough."
"That was terrible but for yesterday you are forgiven. I also have an idea about what to do with the incident at the castle."
"I'm listening. No, wait!" I open the bag and a sweet donut of gargantuan proportions greets me, "I'm chewing while listening."
"Void's advice was, as usual, helpful. I think that since the incident involves my family and some sort of magic even Luna couldn't identify it is entirely possible that the guy who attacked me might be involved. Betty, my eye and leg... his presence revolves around me."
"What did Void say?"
"He said that whatever worked when I tried to kill him should work against everypony else as well. My plan was to get my hooves on weapons able to hurt a partially magical creature and protect me from their magic. Knowing what I know now it wouldn't have worked against Void but he is a special case. The weapons are called Blades of Balance and were made by Starswirl the Bearded to counteract the Element of Magic that isn't balanced by any other Element from the mirror world."
"I suppose you know where they are then. Some sort of dungeon guarded by monsters, machines, and specters of ancient times?"
"Not really. One is at my parents' house. Order of the Silver Sun guards one while the Temple of Luna hosts the other weapon. I will go to Manehattan while you and Chokey get the one from her parents."
"Lost you there."
"The Cult of Luna used to protect batponies from persecution while Luna was branded a traitor. It changed from an underground refugee organization to a place for Luna's worship. The headquarters is here in Canterlot and Chokey's parents are the leaders."
"How did you find that out?"
"My father in my reality told me after I stole his sword and... did what I did. I didn't know at the time the batponies there were Chokey's family and I went there ready to kill anypony standing between me and the other sword. Fortunately, Void, sent by Chokey, stopped me before I could do another terrible thing in a string of bad decisions that is my life. With both swords I attacked him and lost my eye in the process while not even scratching him despite him being in his drastically weakened form."
"What a price."
"Small, considering what it led to. It could have gone so much worse. Well, you shouldn't have much trouble this time."
"Why don't you go with us?"
"For your safety, mainly. If I am somehow being watched by whoever the bronze guy is then you should easily get the sword, take the next train to Manehattan, and scout the area while all the attention is on me. If the enemy is there you'll just give me the sword, we'll kill him, and end at least one of our problems."
"What if we're delayed?"
"I should be able to get the sword at our mansion myself and one should be enough, combined with my wings, to deal with any problem. The other sword is there just to be sure and you'll have my back in case something goes horribly wrong."
"And what if the bronze guy and the assassination are unrelated?"
"Then I will beat the living shit out of my father for finally going insane and take the sword for later use. If he or whoever is in charge now doesn't explain things they will face justice."
"I... am scared."
"You should be fine."
"I'm scared of losing you," I admit, "Last time you ran off by yourself I dragged you out of the mirror world and I was still useless. I don't want to carry your limp body again unless it's into bed... OUR bed."
Mistake smiles and hugs me while nuzzling my neck.
"Remember what I told you about loss. You mustn't let fear paralyze you even it the chance is there. Trust me, you would hate yourself even more later if you gave in and chained me to the radiator."
"Idiot. Still, tempting, tempting."
"I'm leaving now and the train to Manehattan leaves every hour. Go to the castle, grab Darky, get the sword, catch the next train, she knows where to go," his clawed arm pats my cheek, "Got it?"
"Yes, sir!" I salute.
Mistake packs a small bag and runs off. I know it's most likely just fear but something tells me things will go wrong. Worry or not, I have to rush to the castle.
I'm not exactly too keen on flying in heavy armor and with a battleaxe sheathed on my back but I want to do the entire thing as quickly as possible. Passing few Nightguards patrolling the upper floors of the castle, I finally knock on the door of Darky's office.
"We have to go!" I catch my breath and tell her.
"Nothing, yet. Mistake put a plan in motion though. We have to get some balance sword or something from your parents at Luna's temple."
Her mouth falls open.
"How do you-? How does he-?"
"No time, read the journal later again. We need that weapon and we need to go to Manehattan immediately after."
"I suppose we could borrow the old thing but it's just a decorative sword with magic to keep it sharp, isn't it?"
"Apparently not. COME ON!"
"I'm going, I'm going," she quickly puts on her custom version of silvery Nightguard armor and both of us fly out of the castle. She leads the way through the thick clouds, careful not to lose me because I can't match her speed even in armor.
The Temple of Luna looks like a shrine where someone could just stop during an evening stroll rather than a temple devoted to mass worship. We descend to the steps leading to a midnight-blue stone building with triangular roof and dark purple carpet beginning right behind the entrance.
The inside is a large hall similar to Void's obsidian temple but made of mundane building material, still painted blue of the same color as Luna's coat, with a large, angular marble pillar in the middle surrounded by flowers and candles. The sides of the hall, mostly hidden in shadows, reveal stairs leading downwards to the cellars. A refugee organization must have hidden tunnels underneath whole Canterlot.
Unfortunately, what's more interesting than the architecture is a tall, white-coated unicorn with golden blond mane threatening two batponies with a sword. As we enter his sapphire eyes leave the batpony pair and focus at us.
"Aaah," he laughs, "here is the whore who seduced my brother just to spread herself before his would-be murderer. Well, both of you will get what you deserve soon enough."
The golden armor the unicorn is wearing seems to imitate the patterns of the Royal Guard but is custom made to be a snugly fitting full platemail reaching up to his chin instead of the chest and backplate of the Guard. The unicorn himself emanates a confidence shared by gods when faced with ants and his long horn is a mark of massive magical power.
"Searing Light?" Darky gasps.
"In the flesh. Second in command of prince Shining Armor's Crystal Guard, at least until duty called me back home to finally deal with the emo goth music band reject you call Luna. How do you know my name, little bat? Did Blazing tell you?"
Searing is incredibly hot, similar to Heavy Hoof in a way, but where Heavy is warm and understanding Searing feels cold, distant, and calculating. Watching the godly unicorn in his perfect armor, my eyes fall on his weapon. It is a greatsword with blade of polished, almost white steel, and a sharply contrasting ebony hilt. I haven't seen many unicorns use what griffons would consider a two-handed weapon, unicorns usually relying on speed and sharpness of the weapon rather than weight, but this sword would definitely fit the bill. What doesn't fill me with confidence is that Searing is levitating it as easily as a normal unicorn would use a toothpick.
When I look up from his horn I see a glass display case on top of the prayer pillar holding a weapon unpleasantly similar to Searing's sword. The second greatsword, similar in shape, sports a reverse set of black and white scheme - the blade is ashen grey while the hilt seems to be made of pure ivory.
"What do you want here?" Darky asks carefully.
"Something that can send Luna back to the depths of Tartarus where she belongs."
His sword flies up and cuts the display case from the shelf holding it. As it drops down the aging batpony stallion close to Searing Light performs an amazing feat of precision by kicking the display case away from the unicorn and straight at Darky. As a reward he gets a sword through his chest.
"DAD!" Darky yells and the mare next to the hurt batpony drops down to him.
"Don't fret!" Searing's sword aims at Darky and she freezes, "It is not fatal as long as the nice lady treats it. I just didn't want the old guy to get needlessly hurt. After all, you and your cooperation, little bat, is important."
"Me?" Darky asks.
"Of course! I couldn't care less about you or your race of flying rats but Blazing seems to be fond of you," he pulls something red out of his saddlebag and levitates it to Darky, "He expected your confusion and sends something to help you remember."
The item is a rather small red hoodie. Darky winces as the item lands on the floor in front of her.
"That can't be. It got lost."
"It is not the exact thing, just something looking similar enough with a bit of my brother's power inside."
Darky immediately drops it.
"I could just bring you in chains to him."
The conversation up until now points at something impossible.
"Blazing is... alive?"
"He is difficult to get rid of, that I must admit. Now pick up the clothes, I don't have all day."
Darky does as she's told and a golden tendril with black center wraps around her hoof. She twitches away but more and more short tentacles brush the hoof holding the hoodie and in the end she lets go.
"I... lost all that?" she asks Searing.
"Give me the sword and you can have it again."
"You remembered? That's great!" I stop as Darky gives me a look colder and darker than arctic ice.
"Yes, I remember every feeling, every scent, every touch. The first day I met Blaze while he was shakily talking to Sharp Biscuit. The Heart's Warming evening we spent together. The night I stopped princess Luna from killing him. Every. Single. Day. Until the Nightmare Night when he was sent to guard princess Luna and ," she narrows her eyes and hisses, "Mistake killed him. The same Mistake who then killed Sharp, my oldest guard friend. The same Mistake who WILL BURN!"
She picks the display case up. Kicking her away, I rush the unicorn with my battleaxe in my hands.
A blow from something invisible knocks my helmet off and dazes me.
"No need," says the unicorn looking behind me. I turn my head to see Darky with her hoof up, horseshoe blade almost touching my neck, "I can do this myself."
Searing's horn glows bright white and the steel, gold-plated helmet dents, then crumples, and finally gets squeezed into a small ball that drops on the floor, all that accompanied by Searing's uninterested smile.
I hate unicorns.
With another bout of telekinesis my chest explodes with burning agony. Groaning on the floor, I try to ignore the cracking caused by my every breath and get the dented chestplate off of me.
Good, I'm not coughing blood meaning my ribs just feel like every one of them is broken in multiple places.
"Silly catbird, defying a clearly superior race," Searing snorts in contempt, "You, bat, remove the sword from the case and give it to me."
Darky breaks the glass case and I wonder why the unicorn hasn't done it himself. Protective magic, perhaps? Not that it matters.
"DON'T DO IT! You have no idea how much Mistake suffered for you and-" her kick to my face ends that line of monologue.
Searing carefully levitates the black sword from Darky's mouth and...
The spiral on his horn glows brighter and brighter until it's painful to look at. The magical veins, much more numerous and thicker than I remember from Mistake in the mirror world, rupture one by one, splattering their purple glow before fading completely. The two greatswords, Blades of Balance, fall to the ground, and Searing's horn shatters.
I don't wait for anything and rush to him, grabbing each sword in one hand. At least I try to but Darky snatches one of them in her mouth first. I ignore her and without hesitation stab the unicorn bleeding out of his eyes, mouth, and ears, pinning him to the floor.
"Filthy griffon," Searing groans, pulling himself up on the blade, "Can't you see what you're... doing? Heh, doesn't matter because dawn... has... arrived..."
For the first time I notice a green crystal that pulsates with his words on Searing's neck. My reflex works faster than my mind and I pull the sword out and start running. With how my chest hurts flying is impossible.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Darky screams, standing still and watching her mom trying to drag her husband to safety.
They don't get even get two pony lengths away when the green bubble envelops them, Darky, and even me.
Searing's magic was tremendously strong and the green sphere radius is much larger than in the castle, melting the entire building and part of the street around it.
How do I know?
The white blade in my grasp grows hot but when the light fades I'm still there and so is Darky, black greatsword clutched in her mouth. Only a perfect round crater remains from where Temple of Luna was.
Sneaking to unmoving Darky, I try to snatch her sword away but she's faster.
"This is all Mistake's fault," she whispers, "My family, attack on Luna, everything."
"NO IT IS NOT!" I slap her, "He loves you even though you are an ungrateful bitch who doesn't deserve him in the slightest. Searing Light killed your family! Blazing Light, the new one or whoever he is, sent him here! Sombra made Mistake kill Sharp Biscuit! He just suffers over and over because he tries to do good and you BLAME HIM?"
I punch her but she still doesn't release the bite on the black sword.
"Don't be so fast to believe whatever fanatic said just because it seems to fit," I ready the sword to cut her head off but lower it after a short thought, "No. I will not kill you. You WILL come to Manehattan with me and you WILL apologize to Mistake yourself."
"I need to go home."
"We are going to Manehattan!"
"I. Want. The. Diary."
Oh right, she now has all of them. Well, the original, filled one and my linked book. Mistake still has his. This might help her sort things out.
"Fine, but be quick about it."
I ponder what happened in the temple. My theory is simple. The swords apparently block magic according to what Mistake said and from what I remembered from a mention in the journal. The fact that the explosion didn't kill us also helped the guess. Searing, seeing that his magic power was massive, got ripped apart by his own power having nowhere to go.
Mistake has to know that will happen to him, right? He said he used both of them though. On the other hand, his magic only manifested itself in his wings and his telekinesis was barely enough to hold a sword. Maybe the effect isn't too strong for him.
Darky just grabs the two black books and we rush back to the train station to catch the passing train. When we're sitting inside she buries her head into Mistake's old journal while I skim through my linked book to see the little entries he stopped writing after the mirror world incident. I guess at least in his head he deserves privacy.
My blood gets ice cold when I notice a fresh entry.
I used to say I might be many things but I'm not a liar. Now I don't even have that.
You will probably find this message eventually so I don't have to bother hiding it somewhere.
As you know I can summon true death so no matter who is waiting for me in Manehattan his life will end. If I manage to get my hooves on at least one Blade there is a chance mine won't. I am grateful for what you said, Cro, and if I return I'm willing to give it a chance. After all, I have nothing to lose anymore. The reason I'm going first is so I don't put you or Chokey in danger. I know you don't like her for not choosing me but I would never force myself on her... not again. I acted like Valiant once and I've regretted it ever since. In case we don't meet again just know that there is enough place in my heart for both of you. After all, while you're banging somepony you need somepony else to rut you from behind, right? That's called efficiency.
It kicks me that Mistake is wrong. Both of the swords are here and there's nothing to protect him.
I throw the book at Darky.
"Read this, you whiny little shit!"
Not for the first time I'm praying to whoever might be listening to let me get to Manehattan in time.