So you know how I said no more fanfic? My brain betrayed me. It's a tad long, however, so it will be after the break this time.
I had hoped to get this up before Season 2 began, but it simply didn't happen. The drawing was finished that night after the airing, the writing was the next day. Ah well, what is one to do?
I know this Assassin's Creed/ MLP crossings are not new, but I was struck by the thought of a larger group than the commonly seen Octavia. This was a fun one to make, fun idea, fun layout, fun colors. My only frustration is that the idea took root when I was about 80% done with the previous pic. Having 2 ideas in one's head makes one of the ideas suffer. But enough blathering, have some assassin pony.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is (c) Hasbro, you know the whole drill.
And without further ado, the fic
Twilight stirred awake to the sound of hushed voices. Two came from in front of her, one behind, but only darkness greeted her when she looked to see who was speaking. The words reached her ears as slurs of sound, oddly befitting the sluggish state she was in. The slight ruffles of light slowly brought the unicorn’s senses into focus; she had been caught. They had bound her. And judging by the slight bobbing sensation, she was being carried along by magic.
Twilight tried to muster a teleportation spell, but her magic came to her like molasses, dribbling and shapeless. Had she been drugged? She tried to think back to her potions, tried to recall any magic dampening draughts, but it only made her head swim. With nothing else to do, Twilight tried to force her way out of her bindings. The voices stopped. Twilight managed to struggle against her bonds for only a few seconds before sleep consumed her mind again.
“What is this? Get her out of this at once! By the sun and moon-”
“We have procedures, as you are well aware. She wasn’t harmed, simply sedated.” Twilight squinted her eyes shut. Where a headache would normally have been, a swirling mess of thought garbled her senses. She was set down, the bindings on her legs undone. “Have you managed to find out how she got in?”
“I’m afraid not, dear. I’m simply not the unicorn she is. I believe, however,” Twilight knew that voice, though she still could not recall where from, “we will be able to simply ask her.” The bag was lifted from her head. Though the only source of light was from the candles on the far stone walls, it still stung, and Twilight pressed her eyes shut. A comforting hoof brushed her mane, and with some effort, she looked up into the worried eyes of Rarity.
“Rari…what, what happened? Are you ok? Did they get you too? Where are the others? And what are you wearing?” The fashion-loving unicorn was dressed top to bottom in a white robe, punctuated with streaks of red fabric and gold lace. The hood had been pulled back, allowing her mane to bounce freely in the still air. Across her barrel, a silken red sash was held in place by a large metal buckle. A thick woven twill pauldron covered her left shoulder, from which a long, brown cloak covered her leg. Glancing around, Twilight noticed other ponies, all dressed nearly the same; Rarity seemed to have added a touch more flare to her outfit.
“I am quite alright, Twilight, as are you. Or at least, you will be once the numbing potion wears off.” Rarity guided Twilight’s attention back to her. “Now, how many hooves am I holding up?”
Rarity giggled. “I suppose that’s a bit too easy of a question. Can you stand on your own?” Twilight nodded and, with a little difficulty, got to her feet. “You see, Crescent? Nothing dangerous. Honestly, I can see where Twilight gets her tendency to overreact from.”
Twilight’s breath caught. Despite the protests her head gave, she looked over her shoulder to a large unicorn standing anxiously. Her violet eyes found his yellow ones beneath the shadow of his hood. The stallion sighed in defeat and pulled back his hood, blue coat and dark blue mane catching the candle light. Gazing at Twilight with a mix of worry and apology was her father.
“D… Dad?” Twilight tripped on the first step, and Crescent was beneath her before she hit the ground. With his help, she eased back onto her feet, though she wasn’t sure that was where she wanted to be. “What is all this? Why is Rarity here too? Who are these ponies? And-”
“Twi,” Crescent nuzzled her, “I’m so sorry you had to find out this way. I should have told you, when I thought you were old enough to understand, but we have rules.”
“Well, I suppose that at least explains why our guest didn't bother using the entrance.” An ash grey pony with a black mane trotted forward, her hooves silent against the stone floor. Lavender eyes measured Twilight as she drew near. “You, Ms. Sparkle, managed to teleport into the third hall, forty meters below ground, despite our protection spells. Such is to be expected, really, of a personal student of Princess Celestia. I’m just glad we were able to find you before you caused any trouble.”
“Teleport… I don’t recall ever… You said guest?” Twilight had to lean on her father to keep standing.
“Granted, you did seem disoriented when we found you. The numbing potion might not have been necessary, or not in such a quantity as was given to you, but with a unicorn of your stature, proper measures had to be taken.” The grey pony trotted in a circle back out into the expanse of the room. “And yes, you are a guest here. No harm shall befall you;no threats will be made. You shall have the truth, such as you are willing to bear.”
A flurry of wind through a high passage drew everyone’s attention as a blue and white blur raced across the threshold. The pegasus did a quick lap around the ceiling before floating down to the ground. “I got the messages around, Tavi, but the Fillydephia branch says they can’t make anything happen until-” Her eyes caught Twilight’s. “Uh-oh…”
“Rainbow Dash? What in Celestia’s mane is going on?”
“Crescent, dear, perhaps you had best be the one to explain.” Rarity made her way to a heavily laden table and set about making drinks. Crescent set Twilight down on her haunches, then sat beside her.
“Twilight, sweetie, the short answer is that,” he paused to find the right words, “we are a secret order, tasked with maintaining the stability of Equestria.” A weak smile appeared at Twilight’s look of disbelief. “I had a similar reaction when I first found this place.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Twilight saw “Tavi” send a pony running off with a scroll in his mouth. “So you’re police?”
“In the loosest sense of the term, yes. You won’t find us dealing with petty crime, though. Though our enemies are few, they are powerful, and their goals would bring disorder to our home. Each of us found this place, or on rare occasions was invited, and joined of our own volition.” The stallion accepted a drink quietly, but looked distant. “Our work rarely takes us beyond the borders.”
“Enemies? Who are your enemies, exactly?” A spark of anger flared in Twilight’s mind. “Are you trying to overthrow the throne?”
“I think it would be rather difficult for them to be enemies of the throne, seeing as I established them.” Celestia swept into the chamber, the messenger close behind. Each pony raised a hoof, whichever was covered in the brown cloak, and held it across his or her heart. On the given leg, a decorated metal contraption was bound with thick fabric. A space was left at the end of the object, perhaps to allow something to extend past the hoof. Twilight made to kneel, but a dizzy spell forced her to simply bow her head. “Twilight, my dear student. I almost wish I could say I’m surprised to find you here.”
“You knew about all of this?” Twilight tried to recall any indication, any comings and going during her time with the princess that would have revealed some inkling of the truth.
“Of course. Not long after I was forced to banish Nightmare Moon, I found myself alone. I was singlehoofedly managing Equestria domestically, internationally, and militarily. It was more than one even such as I could handle. But the true problem came in dealing with poisonous individuals, members of Equestria that would see the world burn for their own gains. I could not deal with them overtly. Even if I were not seen as a tyrant, bringing light to their plans might intrigue others to pursue similar courses of action.
“And so I founded the Colthood, who would act as my invisible sword. They could deal with those I could not, and observe from the shadows the happenings of Equestria.”
“We are the shield that does not exist.” With a wave of her hoof, the ash-grey pony beckoned to the others. En masse, they lowered their hoods. Rarity and Rainbow stood nervously to one side. Cheerilee tried to smile. Braeburn had to take his hat off before he could remove his hood, much to the dismay of the hawk perched on it. A sea foam green pony, the friend of Pinkie Pie’s friend, smirked excitedly. There were others, many others, some Twilight recognized, many she didn’t. “We are the same as any other pony nine moons out of ten, but when darkness lurks, we are called to action.”
“Octavia here,” Crescent motioned respectfully, “is the daughter of our branch head. Sadly, age has not been kind to him, so she acts in his stead until such a time as we decide on a new leader.
“Every pony finds a task in the Colthood that suits their special talents, much like finding their cutie mark. Rainbow Dash acts as a scout and messenger. She is among the few we contacted; we felt having a pegasus capable of creating a sonic rainboom might prove useful. Rarity and Octavia work as spies, often in aristocratic gatherings. Rarity joined shortly before the two of you met, as it happened. Cheerilee is the Master Librarian of our branch. All records and tomes are kept in her care.
“Braeburn acts as our eyes on the frontier. His pet hawk is also one of the best reconnaissance birds we have. And Lyra… Well, her agility and tendency to fight on two feet makes her one of the best, if not most unpredictable, fighters we have.”
“You’re assassins.” The room fell completely silent. “How…” Twilight looked at her father. He wasn’t sure if it was awe, confusion, or hurt he saw in her eyes. “How could I have never seen this? How could I have never noticed you… Why didn’t you tell me? Tell us? How could you lie to Mom like that?”
“You really told her nothing, eh, Crescent?” Lyra smirked.
“Your father kept nothing from your mother, Twilight.” Octavia accepted a drink from an attendant. “Your mother was one of us as well.”
“Huh-” Twilight’s jaw dropped.
“A right good one, too. I reckon your parents met ‘cause of the order.” Braeburn twirled his hat on one hoof. “’Course, she couldn’t be an active agent while she was with child. So yer folks decided she would retire, so tah say, and yer dad here kept at it.”
“When you were accepted into the academy,” Crescent interrupted, “your mother and I begged Celestia to never tell you about any of this. Admittance to the Colthood is often a lifelong commitment. Though not as demanding as it used to be, it is a heavy burden, one we did not want you to bear as we had. I suppose, though, it’s in your blood.”
“Though I hate to be the one to interrupt,” Octavia twirled her drink on her hoof, “it behooves me to know, how did you find this place?”
Twilight paused for a moment, searching through the fog in her head. “Sweetie Belle came to the library, actually.” Twilight glanced at Rarity. “Rarity hadn’t come back from her trip yet, and Sweetie Belle was getting worried. She asked me to find you, Rare, but when I did, it said you were underground. So I tried teleporting to you to figure out what was wrong with the reading.”
“You were able to locate an individual pony in Canterlot and teleport to her all the way from Ponyville?” Cheerilee was utterly impressed. Whispers floated among those in attendance.
“I… guess so. But the next thing I remember after starting the teleport spell is, well, all this.”
“She really is your daughter, Crescent. I told you as much.” Celestia chuckled. “I think this has been enough for one night. Twilight, you should get some rest.”
“Wait, but what happens now? Am I a member? Do you wipe my memory of all this? Am I-”
“That is your decision, Twilight Sparkle. As was said, no member of the Colthood is here against their will. Everypony here makes the decision to uphold our laws by themselves.” A reverberating stomp echoed through the room.
“No,” Crescent stood, “Twilight is just a girl. I can’t allow this.”
“You didn’t have any problem telling her the truth, Crescent. Why the change of heart?”
“I owed her the truth, Cheerilee. But this is too far. She’s too young.”
“She’s older than Rainbow Dash, dear. You had no objections when I joined, and I was younger than she is now.” Rarity’s mouth tightened.
Crescent turned to Twilight. “Sweetie, our lives aren’t better for it. The secrecy of our existence is of the utmost importance. Our own friends and family cannot know, which is why neither Rainbow nor Rarity has told you. Spike would never be able to know. We must leave our homes, for months or years at a time, for the sake of our mission. We have to kill,” he glanced around the room, “and at times, we are killed.”
“We can teach her to defend herself,” Braeburn said.
“She is a powerful unicorn, and would be a grand ally,” Octavia said.
“She is my daughter!”
“And the branch head is my father, yet here I stand. Blood does not determine one’s membership. You know this, Crescent.”
The unicorn stallion looked to Celestia for aid, but the sun goddess bowed her head. Defeated, he turned to nuzzle his daughter. She returned the favor, albeit sleepily. “The decision will be hers and hers alone. If you care for her as a father would, as you do, support her decision whatever it may be. If she joins, perhaps you might consider training her. You’ve always had a talent for rearing talented recruits.” Octavia turned to the princess and saluted crisply. “By your leave, Your Highness, I believe we should adjourn for tonight. Thank you for coming on such short notice.”
“Thank you for informing me, Octavia. I believe I shall have a moment more with these two, but all others are dismissed. Rarity,” the princess smiled at the white unicorn, “it sounds as though you are missed back home. Perhaps you should depart, and see to matters there. You’ve done excellent work.”
“You honor me, Your Grace.” Rarity saluted and bowed her head, then turned to leave. “See you back at home, Rainbow.” She looked over to Twilight, who was looking back at her, and gave the most genuine smile she could manage. The tension sloughed from her shoulders when Twilight returned the favor, and the unicorn disappeared down a candlelit hallway.
Rainbow Dash trotted over to the lavender unicorn and whispered, “We can talk about this when you get back.” And with a gust of air, the sky blue pegasus was airborne and vanished into one of the high passages.
When it was just the three of them, Celestia sat beside Twilight, who looked almost ready to cry. The unicorn had simply been overloaded. She buried her face in her father’s mane and calmed herself with deep breaths, but made not a sound. The princess nuzzled her dear student with her nose, feeling the tension in her neck slowly subside. “The choice is completely yours, my dear Twilight. No one will think any less of you, no matter what, and you don’t have to decide, not now. Get some rest, and we’ll talk in the morning.”
Dawn found Twilight curled up in a bed, head on her hooves, eyes wide open. Crescent sat beside her, watching quietly. They had spoken some. Questions had been asked, answers given, secrets told and confessions made. And as the night wore on, the stallion saw a glimmer in his daughter’s eyes. It was the same glimmer she had come home with after the Summer Sun Celebration so many years ago. It was a flame, he and Dazzle had found out, that devoured knowledge, that hungered for truth and understanding. That flame was gnawed at by doubt and fear now, the price of growing up, but it proved as resilient now as it had then.
“Twilight?” She looked over at him, but didn’t move. “I know this isn’t easy. That’s part of why I didn’t want you to be here... But you are now. I just want you to know, you're my daughter,” he nudged her face with his nose, “and I will always love and be proud of you, no matter what you decide.” She nudged him back right as her stomach growled, ruining the moment entirely. “Why don’t we see about a little breakfast?” Crescent held the door open, then led her down the stairs toward the dining hall.
Twilight’s mind was still elsewhere. She could leave, she knew, and never have to look twice at the Colthood again. The truth with her parents could remain silent, the truth with Rarity and Dash would be a secret kept closer than a Pinkie Pie Promise. And if she did join, what about Spike and Owlowiscious? Yes, she would able to confide in some of her friends, but would she really be able to lie to Pinkie, Applejack, and Fluttershy?
Her subconscious, however, had latched onto a single word, used rarely but effectively. It was a word that had intrigued her since she was a filly, and even now turned all her doubts to dust. Truth. She couldn’t let it go, not while there were questions to be answered, facts to be discovered. To leave would mean ignoring reality, ignoring the truth. The thought weighed her hooves down until she came to a stop halfway down a flight of stairs.
Crescent looked up at Twilight. He looked her up and down, pausing on her eyes. The slightest smile crept onto his face, and he trotted back up the few steps between them. The stallion hooked his neck around his daughter’s, bringing her into a tight hug. For a while, it was just the two of them, silently reconciling years of secrecy.
Finally, Crescent murmured to his daughter, “We’ll have to get Rarity to tailor your robes.”