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 1/24/16; Beware, cultists!

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Princess Luna



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PostSubject: 1/24/16; Beware, cultists!   Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:35 pm

Gleaming Echo walked with an air of calm through the ruined temple that acted as the Nightmare Cult's hideout with an air of calm, even if on the inside he was sweating up a storm and wanting to break out into a full panic! Why did he decide to do this again?! The cultists hated traitors (insert stormtrooper meme here) with a passion that they saved only for heretics! He'd be on the run clear to center Equestria! That was the only place he.... might possibly be safe. His hooves brought him to the detention cells and he came to a stop as his resolve hardened. He needed to get Lady Yunalesca out of here before the cultists did something to her.... She had yet to be affected by the madness that seemed to affect the rest of them. Even Gleaming had gone a bit mad... His desire to take the raiment for his own... So precious it is... He was currently wearing the raiment with a weak illusion covering his form to mask that fact. Just enough to keep him from being identified quite... yet? The stallion came to a stop at one particular cell and offered a smile. "Time to leave, Lady Yunalesca." Did he brief her on the plan? Oh buck, he didn't remember!

Yunalesca spent most of her time in her cell lazing around on her bunk, staring discontentedly at the wall. Whenever any of those cultists came around, she usually ended up ignoring them out of spite- some of it was aimed at herself, too. She had only herself to blame for letting them capture her, but really what could she have done? She didn't know battle magic, didn't know how to fight, hardly even knew how to fly! Some alicorn she was. Yuna was broken from her dark thoughts by a somewhat familiar voice. She almost felt like ignoring him, up until he'd said 'Time to leave.' Leave where? Was he.. setting her free? Yuna straightened up to look at him past her fall of hair, suspicious. Yuna slowly slid off of her bunk to approach the bars, peering at him. "Leave? You mean I'm free to go? Then get me out of here already!"

Silent Dusk stared at four cultists, hoof blades unsheathed and dripping with the blood of three cultists already on the floor, yet she knew her stamina would run out eventually but by Luna she would never give in, the odd angle of her left wing made escape impossible as it was. "Come on then you crazy nightmare lovers, I'm not done dancing yet so let's see if you know how to tango."

Gleaming Echo returned the gaze with a note of amusement. "Well.. Not quite... ~ I'm leaving and you're coming with me. I will not leave these mad cultists with one of the sacred! We just have to be... careful." he'd say as he unlocked the door. "Just follow me and try to act like you normally do. Shouldn't be too hard." he shot that bit of a jab her way with a playful tone of voice. The unicorn adjusted his robes and turned to walk from the room. he wasn't bothering to put a magic surpressor upon the alicorn since he hoped he wouldn't need it. He also didn't know if they'd get into a fight as they left! Thus he carefully began to lead the way to the entrance of the catacombs. So far so good! A flash of magic from his horn and the two door-guards were yanked back against the stone wall, thus letting them step out into the sunlight! Such a thing made the poor stallion grimace briefly but the discomfort would fade... hopefully. "We'll have to go on hoof for now... I couldn't take down the defenses... Required the high speaker's magical signature...So no teleporting and no flying either Lady Yunalesca." he shot back to the alicorn.

Yunalesca didn't need her talent to tell her that the news was too good to be true. She would still be stuck with one of the cultists. Alas, freedom. "I don't want to be stuck with them either." She responded curtly, stepping out of her cell once he'd opened the cell door. To his jab, she simply responded with a look and adjusted her shawl properly over her wings before trailing after him. Her forced companion had to dispose of two guards before they could finally reach the outside, and oh how she'd missed the sunlight! Even if its brightness stung her eyes and made them water. Yuna clenched them shut and rubbed at them with a foreknee. "But I.. Nevermind." Yuna thought to leave her flightlessness to herself.

Silent Dusk was rushed by the cultists and fought like a mad mare, dodging a strike from her left while slashing her hoof blade along the face of one of the cultists seemingly missing him until a bright red line appeared from chin to forehead as the pressure from inside split his face in two, a kick to her injured wing made her bite back a screech and whirl around to buck a second cultist hard enough to hear the bones behind his jaws crack, two left..

Gleaming Echo inclined his head. "After we escape you are quite welcome to go where you please, lady Yunalesca. However might I ask to be allowed to be a.. guard I guess? So that something like this does not happen again?" he asked with a somewhat curt tone as he stayed in the lead. No need to make the alicorn nervous! To many with the same beliefs as he acting so casual with one was blasphemy, but he found himself caring somewhat less. Long as the great alicorn were protected he was happy! After a bit of walking his ears perked again though. Did he hear... combat! A thrill of excitement raced through the cultist and a wide grin adorned his face. "Combat! Somepony is in peril! As a good hero I must rescue them!" Thus he quickly began to gallop in that direction ~ accidentally forgetting about his charge. What a guard... failure!

Yunalesca gave her head a shake and could look up at him once her eyes had adjusted enough to the daylight to do so. So, she could still be free? Interesting, yet.. His offer made her inwardly cringe a little, but she had to think- he could probably be useful to her. Hmm. "I'll think about it." She said, and she would- she liked her solitude, and she didn't want to be stuck with one of those cultists. Still. Yuna followed after him, mulling over her decision when he, and soon she, picked up on the sounds of fighting. "W-Wait! Shouldn't we run away.. ?" Yuna began, but he was already off. Irritation flickered over her features and she rushed after him, nervous about the whole situation.

Silent Dusk ran at the third cultist and nickered angrily as the mare was charging her horn, so without thinking she dashed towards the unicorn and headbutted her full in the muzzle, throwing all her weight behind it slamming her helmet into horn and forehead cracking the thing in the process, then gasped with cold dread as something cold parted her skin and flesh of the left side of her barrel, wheezing while she finished off the unicorn before facing the stallion who stabbed her, bloodied sword held in his magic. "B-buck.. you... bas..." and dropped.

Gleaming Echo hopped out of the bushes at about the time the mare fell to the ground! "Stop thy fie***" The dialogue was ended as he failed his landing and face-planted gracelessly into the ground. The silence was so awkward that there may very well have been a tumbleweed rolling past. Attempting to maintain as much dignity as he could he stood and brushed his forelegs off. With closed eyes and a long suffered sigh... He deserved that... That he did... He knew better. His muzzle twitched and his eyes opened to the sight of the bewildered cultist with blood-coated weapon still raised. "Just..um.. disappear please." And with that the grumbling stallion fired an arcane lance at the cultist who was, alas, still somewhat in shock by the she sheer fail.. and the betrayal of course. The lance speared the cultist right on target and the stallion fell... The stallion moved to the fallen pony now to check if she was alive!

Yunalesca, unfortunately, didn't see her 'rescuer' face plant. It would have made her feel better; she didn't know what she expected when she reached the scene of bloody battle, but it definitely wasn't this. It brought a sick feeling to her stomach and made her legs feel a little shaky, but she forced herself after her new companion. He was approaching a downed mare, who looked to be in bad shape- another casualty, courtesy of the cult. She grimaced and stepped lightly around the splashes of blood staining the snow. "Is she.. gonna be alright?" Yuna asked, peering around the stallion. Not like she cared or anything.

Silent Dusk was painting the forest floor in a new lovely shade of red, wasn't she an attentive mare? this place could use some color, gasping on her side the thestral looked up at the two unicorns and spat. "Go ahead finish it you cultist lowlives, hunt a mare while she's down leave my family wondering why I never came home scum."

Gleaming Echo stared down at the mare who had just spat out quite the brave line in the face of possible demise! Then again approaching someone that had been attacked by cultists WHILE dressed as a cultist himself probably wasn't the brightest idea. "Could just tell them you took up a job as a fertilizer." he'd snap back in a slightly gravelly voice only to blink and continue on in his 'normal' voice. "I am terribly sorry about that." he turned away and muttered. "Darn it Tar, don't do that!" And then turned back. "You'll be quite fine miss! Besides, what hero would leave a mare in distress; Much less finish her off! We need to leave before the cultists rally and chase us!" The former cultists horn lit up and he focused some healing magic into the wound. Enough that she hopefully wouldn't bleed out while he picked her up in his aura and set her across his back! With new passenger in tow the unicorn continued back on the merry way while whistling a cheerful tune!

Yunalesca peered warily at the wounded pony, and yet, she understood her reaction. "I am certainly not a cultist. They kidnapped me!" She exclaimed defensively, and shot a confused glance towards Gleam at his odd behavior. Who was he talking to? Oh Celestia, did she end up with a madman? He was a part of a cult that worshipped Nightmare Moon, tried to act like a hero, and offered to be her body guard? Yuna huffed. She kept watch while he tended to the stranger, and was relieved to see they were on the move again- albeit with a new member to their party. She made sure to keep pace.

Silent Dusk was healed by the stallion and blinked in surprise as she was lifted onto his back, immediately slipping a forehoof around his neck as she pushed a hoofblade to the stallion's throat. "Release this mare you kidnapped and you won't become fertilizer yourself, I don't know why you take me alive but I'm not falling for it." oh nice did the thestral get it wrong there or what?

Gleaming Echo came to a stop as the hoofblade was placed upon her throat. His muzzle split into a rather devilish type grin. "Fine ~ Then we can leave you here." There came the gravelly voice again! A brief localized pulse of magic to knock the injured mare's hoof from his throat preluded his teleportation right out from under her; thus letting her drop to the ground ~ appearing a few strides away. "Do you really have to be such an ass, Tar? A hero doesn't leave an injured mare at the mercy of cultists!" Gleaming whined to the darker part of his psyche. "She's asking for it! Bloody ungrateful bat!" ~ "Hey, that - is - speciest!" ~ "Cry me a blood-soaked river, brat.." ~ "Go! Time-out time Tar!" ~ The only reply was a snarl as the cultist cheerfully turned back to the two with a smile. "Sorry about him! He's a grump!" he smiled wide. Oblivious to the fact he was coming off as a complete loony!

Yunalesca frowned a little at the assumption, but she was quietly surprised. "I'm not his prisoner." She stated bluntly, jerking her head towards the stallion. "He was the one who freed me. In fact I could just dump you bot-.." The alicorn stopped, looked around at Gleaming when he spoke, his voice a growl. It only got stranger from there when he began to argue with himself, changing between voices- or so it appeared to her. Yuna came to a halt and stared at him where he reappeared. "What in Equestria? Sorry about who? You were just talking to yourself, like some kind of crazy pony!"

Silent Dusk blinked as suddenly there was no stallion under her anymore and gravity reminded her that without wings it was calling the shots here, then the floor came by to say hello as she impacted on the floor with a squeal, writhing while she curled up and hid in her leathery wings, feeling slight moisture slickening her coat again. "Ugh.. the way you said it.. I thought he had you captured, ugh what a brute.."

Gleaming Echo glared at Silent. "You did ask for it. Honestly, a hoof-blade." he'd say with a bit of a snort. "Anyways! Over-exposure to Nightmare's raiment has causes my psyche to have a liiiittle bit of a split." he'd say as he brought his hooves up to show just 'how little'.. "I am Gleaming Echo, I refer to my 'brother' as Tarnished Echo! It is really hard to be a hero when one's 'psyche brother' doesn't care." he smiled wide and inclined his head a bit. "Perhaps if we find a mirror you'll be able to see him!" the cultist cheerfully smiled. "Now then, miss Mare! The patch heal was ruptured, may I heal you and get us out of here now? I'd rather not get mobbed by cultists..."

Yunalesca's eyebrows raised at the explanation, which probably only helped.. a little. She understood enough about magic to know about curses and negative effects of certain magic, but that was about it beyond her talent. The pink mare exhaled sharply and glanced to the thestral. She felt a sudden urge to smirk, a mean urge- there was no rational reason for this desire, she just felt like doing it out of sheer spite. She chose not to though. "Oh, whoops." Yuna said, sounding almost unconcerned. The mention of the cultists again made her stiffen and she started walking again. "Yeah, I'd rather not see their faces ever again. Hurry it up, you two."

Silent Dusk uncurled herself and gave them a glare. "Fine, fine! heal me and I'll help you two out for a while, Luna be damned I should have stayed in Hollow Shades." yet she felt with the way things were going she'd never see home again, it was a gut feeling, miss ice and mister crazy there would probably get her killed, if only she could fly.

Gleaming Echo beamed and hopped back to the mare's side with his horn lit up. "The cultists are gonna be really mad.. I kinda stole Nightmare's Raiment to when I broke Lady Yunalesca out!...." he'd say as he healed up the wound once again and even gave the mare a brief hug! With the dark side in time out it was the cheerful Gleaming that was in the most control! Hopping up wit the mare he levitated her back onto his back and started right back along while whistling cheerfully.

Yunalesca flicked an ear back at the other two when she heard the mare and heard in her tone her anger. She lowered her head a little in thought, her face thankfully hidden from the pair with her in the lead. Maybe, for the time being, she'd try to be a little nicer to them; key word was try. The mare could probably slit her throat in a fit of anger and that would be that- who knew what Gleaming would do. Perhaps as soon as she found her wagon again everything would be fine, if she could find it and if the cultists didn't do something with it. Sigh. "So," Yuna started, straightening back up and aimed her question at their newest member, "what's your name?"

Silent Dusk hung over the stallion's back as walking was really out of the question right now, pointing a hoof at Echo with a smirk. "Fertilizer according to that one, but my parents called me Silent Dusk, Dusk for friends, so you can call me Silent Dusk." oh yes somebody was moody because she was hurt.

Gleaming Echo looks over his shoulder. "That was Tar, Miss Silent Dusk." he'd say with a bit of a grumble. The unicorn knew the direction to the nearest city. If all went well they'd make it there before the cultists realized they were gone; and then they could head on the road west! They needed to get to a rail station so they could head back towards safety! He didn't know what the thestral would do.. Nor what the alicorn would do. Well, bugger ~ Just where were they going now?! Huh... he had no idea. Town first, he supposed. He didn't really think as far ahead...

Yunalesca made a noncommittal noise in her throat before she spoke. "Silent Dusk, huh? Alright. You already know my name, but for the record?" She turned her head a little so she could look back at them with one eye. "It's just Yunalesca, or Yuna. Not 'Lady Yunalesca.'" The pretend-unicorn tried to keep the snark out of her voice, but she couldn't help it. Snark just came to her. Yuna decided to slow a little until she was walking beside Gleaming again, frowning thoughtfully. "You wouldn't happen to know what those cultists did with my wagon, do you? If its near, it might make the trip a little easier, but if its back at that temple.. Well, there's no way we can turn back."

Silent Dusk sighed in defeat, she felt tired and hurt and looked at the two. "Okay I'm sorry alright? I'm just in a lot of pain I fought off eight of those crazy ponies before you two came around been stabbed and probably bruised or broke a wing, so you can call me Dusk." then she resumed playing saddlebags for Echo, her wings were leathery so hey that was already one part.

Gleaming Echo looked to the 'unicorn' and smirked some. "Whatever you say ~ Lady Yuna." He could return the cheek at times just as good as she could snark! He cleared his throat and adopted a bit more serious of a look. "We should be arriving in the little village in about...eh... ten minutes. If it hasn't been moved; your cart should be there. Several of the cultists thought that they could use it.... We might as well take it back, no?" he asked a he looked back at Silent. "Will do, Miss Dusk." He kept an eye out just in case more cultists appeared; but he doubted it.

Yunalesca bit her lower lip with a tooth while Dusk spoke, but she said nothing to it yet. She snapped a look at Gleam for his cheek, but she let it go. If he wanted to keep calling her that.. well he probably could. The news that her wagon was still where it was heartened her greatly. "Of course. All my stuff is in there." Yuna said. "A bed to rest on too, though I'm afraid its a little small for the three of us." They were getting closer to the village, it seemed, but her steps would be lighter knowing that the cultists hadn't messed with it.

Silent Dusk perked her ears and sighed. "Can we also look for a doctor so that I won't die because of internal bleeding? would be greatly appreciated you two." yes she kept her voice as friendly as she could muster while Echo carried her around, luckily thestrals weren't heavy at all especially the smaller ones like her.

Al-Burq was making his way into the country of Equestria, keeping to the fringes of the land. Large, iridescent wings carried the pegasus at canopy level. The long flight feathers were dipped in dabs of red, like splatters of -- paint: the undersides colored with faded gold lining the solid pine. When he flew it looked as if the stallion painted the skies. His approach was hardly silent, the rugged wings clapping with every downward stroke, making it sound like a clap of thunder in the distance. He soared for several feet before his wings stroked to keep him on his path. For much of his journey he road the wind, but as the land became littered with trees his visibility of the terrain became strained. His flame-tongue colored mane was braided back in a foreign style, the same went for his tail. The golden vest he wore was stitched with nondescript mosaic designs along the collar, with matching cufflinks on his hind legs.
Al-Burq's saddlebag was of similar color to his vestments, the stallion's cutie mark a wild display of what appeared to be a lightning-storm. Legs were tucked beneath his large body, red hooves roughly edged by gold-pine fur. His ears pricked up, the monocle over his left eye gripped beneath the scowl of his brow. Below there appeared to be travelers. Cocking his head he would note there were no clear roads about, and the maps he had were useless given their age. The canopy did not help with his directional allocation. What was once here, was no longer. Citizens of Saddle Arabia have only just began to renew relations with Equestria, so it left the once isolated scholars of the country with a whole new world to meet. For an Arabian male, for he was closer to the regions where a sturdy form was better given to the harsh conditions. While remiss to associate with the barbaric dregs that likely harbored the scenic country -- he had no choice.
Al-Burq shifted his weight, head lowering as his wings tucked against his side. Like a whip cracking in the air the male broke into a freefall before throwing open his cape of feathers, a few feathers at the end of his braided tail stiffening as he dropped in for a landing. His legs reached out as his hoofs clapped against the ground with a fierce clap, followed by light clops as he pranced to a halt, the momentum of his landing hardly reduced by touching ground. His braided tail would flick, head raising up. The male stood tall and observed the gaggle from a reasonable distance. Storm grey eyes turned, a natural scowl present beneath the gaze of his monocle. He exhaled as the company. Pegasus, unicorn. While generally well mannered thanks to his upbringing, thanks to his upbringing he was less sociable with other pony. Where Earth Pony were considered laborers, Mules and Donkeys were naught but slaves.
Al-Burq clearing his throat he spoke up. "Pleasant journey travelers." Though this was hardly the case for the stallion. "Would you perhaps know where the nearest town is located?" That was what he recalled the books calling these smaller cities. Towns? Not Villages? Bizarre as it seemed. He put on a pleasant expression, masking his contempt for commoners. Though truth be told these ponies were a bit above the plebeian sates-heads and laborers of the deserts.

Gleaming Echo returned the look with a bit of a grin. He could be a little cheeky if he wanted! He didn't have to worry about flogging if he upset somepony! He was his own boss now! Muahaha! Well, asides for Lady Yunalesca of course! He was going to try, key word try, to be a good guard for the disguised alicorn. Now that they were far enough from the cultists he let the cantrip hiding the raiment fade. Now it made some sense why it sounded like he had something on his hooves! He did! That and the moon-crested chestpiece. He really wasn't trying to look more evil/like a cultist but how could he refuse the raiment! It called to him, wanted hiim! It was his! He inwardly shook his head. ~He kept his gaze out only to blink as he caught sight of a... pegasus? He stepped in front and inwardly frowned. Both the attention of Gleaming AND Tarnished was focused upon the pony before them! "Greetings, traveller!" (dare ya read that in claptrap voice) he replied cheerfully only to let out a bit of a frown. "You are close! The town is naught... eight-to-ten minutes that way!" He raised and pointed a hoof in the direction they were heading.

Yunalesca pondered Dusk's request and didn't see why not, as long as it didn't risk her dying on them. She was about to open her mouth to say so, but shut it again at the sound of flapping wings and the following greeting. She turned to see who Gleam had responded to- a pegasus, naturally, but her suspicion returned. A cultist pretending to be somepony else.. ? No. None of those brutes would have worn such foreign garb. Yuna cast aside her paranoia. "Ah, hello." That was about all she could manage, as Gleam beat her to the answer.

Silent Dusk coughed up a good swath of blood before waving a hood limply to her fellow flying pony, then snarked softly. "Hello, yes that way what those horn things said." wow was she out of it, the lightheadedness that crept into her surely didn't help her mood either she so so hated vital organs being punctured by sharp objects.

Al-Burq rolled his shoulders, stiff from the long travel. Even pegasi needed rest occasionally, but he had pushed himself to arrive before another day passed. The country was strict, restricting travel to the common pony. Even a noble born such as he had difficulty getting pass into Equestria without political vices or reasons. It was only thanks to his culture that scholarly endeavors were as heeded as military! But time was still limited. He was given pass for only a month to learn what he could and return. Travel was difficult when it was on the power of your own wings and time was your enemy, as were tail winds! Speaking off his braided tail settled as his body relaxed on the ground. The feathers at the base of his tail flexed a bit more before becoming still. Upon landing his body regarded the foreign soil with a wary touch. It was unlike the soft sands of his home, nor the smooth cobblestone of his cities.
Al-Burq flapped his wings once or twice before finally leaning them in to fold back. His head tucked against the feathers, smoothing them down carefully before they fully pressed to his back. He whipped his head back, braid pulled from between the rested wings, the tail of hair landing over his right side. His lip quirked in a soft smirk, facial expression barely shifting. Of course he had to hold himself with grace and poise. Not only was it a duty of his station to remain confident and hold his dignity -- but quite frankly it was hard to carry a monocle in one's eye when their face wiggled all about! He came to a stop, the figures a bit odd looking, but it seemed to be the case with all Equestrians. When the unicorn spoke to him, the scholar turned his head in attention. "Quite so? I give thanks." Well wasn't he in luck! The mare across seemed to listlessly greet him, though it was to be expected.
Al-Burq wouldn't expect Equestrians to have proper etiquette. "Charmed." He offered the horned mare. His brows furrowed as he took a step or two back, blood suddenly presented to the earth in sacrifice! He calmed and looked to the other pegasus, who seemed unwell. Now he could not be called a noble if he let the dregs of society, let alone his own kind, fall dead at his hooves. Rather unbecoming... "Stranger, 'lo, your health has taken a turn!" Well it wasn't normal to be blorting up blood, so one must assume there is impending doom to another pony's wellbeing. "Please, lean upon me." he offered. "If you are heading to town as well, haste must be made!" Though it was a waste of time, to let a fellow pegasus suffer so was unthinkable and downright rude. On the other hoof he could ask them questions if they were natives. To be truthful they looked like a bunch of gypsies. He'd best watch his wallet just in case.

Gleaming Echo quirked an eyebrow as he looked to the pegasus and then to the thestral upon his back. The rather strange looking foreign pegasus thus offered to let Silent lean upon him and Gleaming somewhat dead-panned and smirked some. "I'm not sure standing would be in her best interest lest she potentially re-open the wound I sealed shut. Kinda would rather my new friend not wind up fertilizer!" he smiled jovially. The less Silent moved the less likely the wound would re-open! The town wouldn't have any doctors, sadly, but once they were there he would be able to risk staying still long enough to properly attempt to heal the mare! At least a good enough job that she'd be able to move again. "You are quite welcome to join us on our trek! However I'm afraid we must make haste! A ghastly horde of cultists lay back that way and they might just be after us!" he cheerfully smiled and continued right along walking. Stopping would mean they could get caught out here in the open; which was not good.

Yunalesca looked over at Dusk with veiled concern at the cough and she was sure she saw a flash of red. Yikes, they really needed to get her help! This stranger, though he seemed helpful, didn't seem like he would be of too much use to them- she wasn't either, but hey. "Yeah, they're some of the brutes that attacked her." Yuna gestured to the thestral and started walking after Gleam, expecting the stranger would follow them. "You don't look like you're from around here. Obviously, I mean, but where do you come from?"

Silent Dusk wheezed and coughed. "I'm so sorry to be a burden if only that last unicorn didn't stab a sword straight through me I'd scout ahead for you." and yes she genuinely meant that, she didn't like being useless and now some big tall new pegasus joined them and that only made her feel more and more embarrassed, dripping cute red drops alongside the stallion on who's back she rested.

Al-Burq tried in earnest not to make a face. His vest would be ruined by stains, and he felt rather naked without it. It was a banner of his nobility so without he felt like a commonpony. He kept his ears swiveled forward, a neutral scowl on his expression. Though her weight was inconsequential to him, what ruffled his feathers, so to speak, were her lack of them. At first he thought it was perhaps a problem suffered by commoners, some filthy mange-like disease that ate away the lovely feathers a pegasus prided themselves in, but now that he was closer, it became clear they were unmarred stretches of flesh draped frail bones. He felt his heart jump. Such a vision of loveliness. He did not thing featherless wings would be so lovely, but their mysteriousness, contour and coloration had him fascinated. What sort of pegasus was she? Were they native only to Equestria?! It made the scholar almost humm with delight.
Al-Burq had naught been but a half day in Equestria and he has come upon an elegant mystery! He moved to match his pace to her own. He did not want to aggravate any wounds she may have by lifting her onto his back, nor further stain hi-- no, no! One must's be selfish in the face of one's kind, but -- was she? So many questions! Though his mind danced with the delectable desire to define this degenerate beauty, getting to a place where she may rest and not suffer her mortality was likely best. He could not ask questions to a corpse! "Hmph." He rumbled. "So there are barbarians even in these self-proclaimed lands of peace?" He had to hide his harumph with a more astute observation. "You say these barbarians chase you...?" There was a touch of disbelief, after all they looked akin to Gypsies and they were hardly innocent of crimes themselves. but he would not be close-minded on such matters. It was important to ask, learn, and record.
Al-Burq walking at pace his words flowed from his lips, his tone smooth and even. His voice was not deep, but light and rather melodic for a male. It was comparable to tenor. It was gentle. "Cultists, though quite a common occurrence among cultures remote, Equestria is considered an advanced country." Of course he had to resist spitting when he spoke. For as far as he has read the country itself was rather primitive in their culture, arts hardly advanced beyond folkmusic... Al-Burq would infer he is from across the seas, a famous scholar from Saddle Arabia!

Silent Dusk hung over Echo's back still and tried to see if she could move her left wing yet, which she managed be it with agony so flying was still a no go, then her golden eyes focused on Al. "Say.. are you.. from the south Sir?"

Al-Burq had lost himself in his thoughts. There was much to do and too little time to allow himself to become absorbed in his usual fetishes. While this was an opportunity to learn about these small hovels they called villages, his primary goal was to make it to a more inhabited part of Equestira and learn of their culture. So far he has only come to learn of barbarcy and the primordial wastes of forest, hardly noteworthy. Growing up around sand and stone where such structures were scarce: trees were little worth as a resource. His storm colored eyes stared at the ground as he marched along. The fluttering whisp of the female's voice called his attention. His head snapped up as he rose with pride to speak. His chest puffed out, hooves scraping against the dirt with heavy motion. He had to resist spreading his wings like some peacock, for the pride that welled in his chest when thinking of his country was grand!
Al-Burq cleared his throat as he began. "Why yes, I am proud to call Saddle Arabia my home! There is no other land greater, but that does not mean we are uninterested in these foreign countries." He chuckled, wings twitching in place as he resisted that foalish skip in his step. "It has fallen upon me to observe and learn what I can of the quotidian routines of --- haa ponies." He bit back the harsh descriptor that rolled against his tongue, trapping it and stomping it out. "Such an intriguing lot though, is this village--" Had to bite back yet another foul rubric. "Is it your home? Or perhaps a safe haven?" Given he was still rather uneasy about their origins. He could be walking into a trap so had to stay on guard!

Gleaming Echo inclined his head as he walked along with the group. "... I used to be back with the cultists! Bunch of merry fellows when they aren't capturing ponies and trying to kill them! They had some killer cider...hehe" he hummed as he looked back and forth at the beginnings of buildings. "They captured Lady Yuna and I decided that it might be better to cast my lot out here. How can a pony be a hero amongst such villains!" he smiled as he walked carefully along so not to cause the mare on his back more pain. "The cart should be this way." he mused and turned down a side road. After a few minutes he came to a barn and inside said barn would be Yuna's cart seemingly unharmed.

Yunalesca remained silent for the most part, mulling over the new pony's answer to her question. So he was a foreigner, huh? The fact that he was a scholar certainly explained his.. vocabulary. "No," She broke in curtly, "it's just a nearby town." The mare fell silent when Gleam spoke up next, detailing his part and his leave of the cultists. Eugh. "They thought I was some sort of 'oracle' just 'cause I was a fortune teller. Bunch of crazies.." This latter sentence was muttered under her breath, but the rest she left out- she didn't need either the thestral or their newest traveling companion to know what she was. The rest of the way into town, and to the barn, she spent in silence until they'd found her wagon. Yuna rushed towards it and checked inside to make sure nothing was missing. Good..

Silent Dusk muttered in a half daze. "I'm from a town in Shady Woods called Hollow Shades, most of us thestrals live there, except those that sign up for Princess Luna's guard that is, I'm a scout for the village usually and we caught wind of those cultists, I was sent to watch them but they saw me and as Echo can attest stabbed me." she did try not to drip on Echo if she could help it.

Al-Burq arched a brow, head canting slightly when the mare spat out in disgust toward the conversation. Such uncouth mannerisms. When she came to admit she was indeed a teller of fortunes he could now submit to the idea she was likely conning the Cultists and it had gone wrong. The young stallion spoke of their inevitable escape, and exclamations of heroism. "To be grandiloquence is on par with knavery." Though he himself spoke with such a bombastic tone that it could make your average pony cringe. His speech was intoned with intelligence, lined tenderly with arrogance, but one well earned. He was not the sort easily fooled, but was insurmountably ignorant of the world beyond the deserts. They seemed to approach what was indiscriminately a gypsy's cart. He was surrounded by unavoidable evidence of their impecunious stations. He mulled over his current state of affairs.
Al-Burq could not rightly leave the winged mare to bleed out, but he would have to supplicate to his deities to keep him safe from these vagabonds. His attention was caught by a foreign word. "Thestral...?" His brow shifted, barely able to catch his monocle as he nearly slipped from his seemingly unshakable demeanor. Though outwardly polite, inside he was a scathing, spiteful, bloated peacock! He pranced to a stop, wings shifting on his back, the weight uneasy due to the tired muscles swelling a bit from travel. He would need to ice them at a later time, or at least keep them tucked. He eyed the gypsy, wary of her now, before he turned to the winged lass. He had to stab down that desire to whip out a quill here and there. Such a swell of information! Perhaps he could get her to repeat it at a later time? There was even mention of a princess? So royalty meant something to these mendicant!
Al-Burq's tailfeathers stiffened a bit as his braided tail swayed. "My dear mare, save your breathe, we may become familiar at a time where your breathing is not inhibited by your grievous injuries!" He did not question their peril, merely the state of their actions that brought them to this point! Heathens, to be sure, but such a frail, winged lass did not deserve such injury. He could surmise she sought to help the ruffians only to fall into endangerment. He looked up. "Are we much farther, this poor mare looks to have suffered enough." He seemed to push as the horned mare seemed a bit more given to a cart of likely stolen goods than the injured mare's well-being.

Gleaming Echo stared at the pegasus blankly for a moment or two when he made that comment about to be grandilo-whatever! He had no idea what that word meant but he knew what knavery was! "Hold your tongue - dar cockerel..." came the gravelly voice of Tar from the unicorn who quickly bit out a curse. "Do you HAVE to insut every other pony we come across!" he quickly continued in his regular voice only for Tar to once again reply. "Stop running into bloody pigeons then! One put a knife to our throat when we tried to help her and the other is trying to~ Bah, you stick with your 'friends', this is sickening! I'm going to go read something..." Tar bit out only for the unicorn to have to wince and shake his head. "Okaaay! He's pissed off now..." Gleaming muttered and shook his head. "Once we get to the cart I can properly heal her. I had to hold back because it would have been suicide to put all my magic into healing her whenever there might have ben cultists on our trail!" he muttered. "Do we have somewhere to put our friend down so that I can finish healing that wound?" he'd cheerfully ask the unicorn with a wide smile. Gleaming was once again the one in charge! As cheerful as ever.

Yunalesca had to stop to look around the back of her wagon, where the door was, to give the pegasus quite the unamused look. She was about to withdraw before Gleam spoke up, and seemed to have another argument with his other half. This was going to take some getting used to. She cleared her throat. "Uh, yeah. You can lay her on my bed while you work on healing Dusk." Yuna replied and disappeared inside- she was gonna lay a few towels down on the bed in question, just so any spilled blood wouldn't end up staining her sheets. Once that was done, she stepped back out. "I think I have a first aid kit somewhere, too, so y'know."

Silent Dusk stared at Echo again, the typical I think I like him well enough but by Luna get me off of this mad stallion before his bad half decides to toss me off a cliff, then smiled a moment at Yuna thinking that was quite the kind gesture which she had not fully expected of her new travel companions, then finally at Al as she gave him a helpless look, sure she would love to chat more with him but her wounds hurt and she really really needed aid. "Umm does it help if I say I meant well?"


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PostSubject: Re: 1/24/16; Beware, cultists!   Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:50 am

Al-Burq stood with his hoofs together like a bird perched at the edge of a branch. His shoulders were stiff, wings pulled crossed and raised off his back in an anxious position. Though his facial expressions were without discernment, his body was a well oiled machine. As a pegasus he moved with the wind and his entire body was a tool, a weapon against and of the elements. Muscles were trained to work together so one could not move their hoof, without tailpinions stiffening, or raise a back leg without wings spreading out to balance him. It was a delicate game that was trained into a pegasus since birth. The extra pair of limbs would make them almost chimeric if they were not perfect! Symmetrical wings perfectly placed to keep the body moving as efficiently in the air, as on land on one's hooves. He was troubled by this situation. Gleam was looked upon with great distress.
Al-Burq looked as if a chickenhawk flew well over his coop for the male's wings lifted off his body, pain forgotten momentarily as the wrists of his wings came end to end in display. The flares of gold and pine at the base of his flight feathers seemed to imitate fire, for the downy growths seemed to dance as they were presented to the wind. The stiff flight feathers were a faded gold color, reminiscent of bolts of lightning. Hos forehooves stamped against the ground as he became rigid. The pounding crash of thunder softly rumbled from beneath his shoeless hooves, making the feat rather impressive. He was a bit heavier in terms of most Arabian Saddle residents, but he was not so large that the stamp made any consequential deterrent. "Frigid ice!" He bellowed in shock, for if you were touched upon your tush with ice you would certainly stiffen like a spooked cat~!
His direction from Gleam were several, prancing paces back. "This sort is unbalanced!" Pray tell peacock, what gave it away? His eyes went wide, monocle finally falling from place, only with luck was the glass hanging from a small silver chain latched to the lapel of his vest. He reared up for a moment, hooves coming to his chest. After a second he dropped back down, unsure what in the Sand's names what to do! He seems to have picked the wrong party to consort with! He circled once, tail pinions flared out. Now what to do? Save the mare, kick him in the face?! Now he could hardly see with the haze of a soft blur coming over his bad eye. "Ah, ah!" he fumbled with the monocle on his hoof and raised it to his left eye. "Bespoken madness!" He proclaimed. "Unicorn!" he called to the Gypsy, too polite to call her that off-hoof. "Mare! What has becometh your ally!?"

Gleaming Echo let out a bit of a sigh. "Short-short story! Nightmare Moon's armor is cursed! Caused-me psyche to get a bit of a split! I'm the hero; Tar's the villain! All rolled into one happy package! Two peas in a pod! Two sides of the same coin!" he rambled as he carried the injured mare into the cart and headed for the bed. "We'll get you right situated... Everypony with magic was required to learn healing spells in the cult!" and with that he set the mare down and began to focus magic into his horn. "Do-doot de magicku!" he cackled at the memory. The cultists thought that was an incantation ~ Thus he set to work. Yep!  She was relying upon a mad stallion to heal her. Thankfully he was effective at what he was doing. She'd already start feeling better!

Yunalesca let Gleam handle most of the explanation since, well, he knew more than she did. She stepped out of the way while he carried Dusk into her cart and glanced back at the shocked pegasus. "He's crazy, but he means well. You'll get used to it. Probably." She stated bluntly, eyebrows lifted. "By the way, my name is Yuna." For that, she had to fight the urge to speak slowly, the way one does to one who is uncomprehending. "I know its a little scary at first, but hey, he's saving a life right now."

Silent Dusk squeezed her eyes shut as Echo started his healing hoping that nothing would go wrong she really still hated sharp objects slicing through her though. "I know you're focusing Echo but where are we traveling to?" she'd ask the former cultist now wanting to be hero stallion, laying as still as she could while she was getting her treatment.

Al-Burq seemed dumbfounded by the explanation, but at least he sort of relaxed, as was evident in his wings which lowered back down, hanging loosely at his side. The explanation made sense, but he did not want it to. There were many things in this world that could bring a pony harm. He did not know of this Nightmare Moon, but cursed armor? There was always great speculation as the the effects of cursed items and what they could burden upon their users. He has read of such trinkets turning the wearers into chickens, for the sake of the sorcerer's amusement. But there were many that had ill effects not so benign. He cleared his throat, settling the monocle back over his eye properly. "I..I see. Well beg your pardon, but it is a rather displacing course of events. To act so casually in the presence of madness could concrete the idea that I was the mad one!" In other words don't act so casual around a loony! Geez!
Al-Burq nodded to the mare's words. "Yes, miss Yuna," He stressed her name. "I shall overlook such since the mare's well-being is in jeopardy, but I cannot sit comfortably granted the turn of events." Well he had more than his wallet to worry about now, didn't he. While emphatically intrigued, he had to bite the cud on this one and resist questioning the healer whilst he worked, now that he had a lighter clue as to why the Cultists were after them. The cursed armor could have perhaps been a sacred relic. The Gypsy would have sought to steal it and the foolish unicorn to wear it and become this hero he speaks so fanatically about. Whatever it did, this curse, it created onto him a villain of his very own. Did it perhaps grant wishes? he tapped his hoof to his chin in thought. It seemed outrageous, but without enough information he was left with nothing but theories!
Al-Burq regaining his composure he would fluffle his feathers and securely tuck his wings back. Trotting forward he overlooked the procedure. If not for their miraculous skill in the less abstract arts of magic -- Unicorn would be as ineffectual to him as Earth Ponies and Alicorn. There was a touch of envy to be able to express magic in such a way. The more acquiescent skill of their weather manipulation may have stood on par with fierce gods, but he would certainly embrace being able to carry more supplies with a flick of his skull and thoughts. Impressive as it was though -- it seemed there stood a price to be had with such lowbrow parlor tricks. Deranged wizards with a touch for sipping too much of the tea, and brusque mares with a proficiency of wit that forestall even great legacies of inane rascals, who shall not be named.

Gleaming Echo let out a bit of a chuckle. "To be perfectly honest, dear Dusk... I have no idea! I actually think I might go with Lady Yuna to make sure nopony tries to hurt her again!"  He focused on keeping the healing spell properly functioning even with all of these distractions. A lapse in concentration and it might hurt her! Why ~ He'd feel dreadful if something happened and he didn't heal her right! His ear flicked towards the other two and he let out a bit of a humm.~ He really wanted to reply to a few things! "Tar isn't THAT bad when one got to know him. I mean - He IS kinda born from negative emotions...." he'd mutter only to fall quiet once again. He really needed to concentrate lest he accidentally hurt the fair thestral!

Yunalesca wasn't exactly sure how to respond to the baffled pegasus and started with a shrug. "It's.. I'm not entirely how to feel about it. It's absolutely nuts, but what're you gonna do?" She grimaced. "Usually in the face of complete weirdness, the best thing you can do is just ignore it." Or that was what she was aiming to do, anyway. Seeing a pony talking to himself in two completely different voices was jarring. Yuna moved over when the pegasus joined her at the wagon's only door to look in. "Yes, well, I just hope 'Tar' doesn't also try to kill us all."

Silent Dusk kinda hoped that too, she was putting up a brave front right now but in the end she was a city guard a scout not a hardened soldier and the wounds she had sustained made her scared and kinda worried, that's why she was snappy and not in the best of moods she just wanted a nice slab of meat and some apples right now. "I prefer living too Yuna.."

Al-Burq felt really just uneasy. Were these how common ponies joked? Such grievous passtimes really unsettled his gentle tummy! In fact thinking of such he had recalled he had not eaten for a great many hours. His worry for the threstral had caused his worry to shift and the mad wizard really just sent his blood pumping that he was a titter with energy! He grunted and lowered his rump to elegantly plant itself pon the ground. He was used to travel, albeit among the pleasant comforts of his home's traveling merchants and fertile river valleys. Trees abound yet not one ripe with the sweet desert stars or prickly pears he so enjoyed. While bitter to most ponies or overly sweet they met the gentle palette of the noble with a sense of exultation. T-that aside, these morbid jokes should fine place to case! He was much too comfortable in his ways to no longer find means to meet them!
Al-Burq coughed softly. "Should... we find a less dreary course of subject? What of you Miss Yuna?" he began. "Some have given their hometowns and backgrounds of gained aberration -- " He glanced to Gleam before looking to the mare. "But you have made little forward progress in the revelations consistent with ... ah-- team work!" He shook a hoof in the air as if all gung-ho about the concept, but he was hardly a pony-person nor was he really driven to making allies who hadn't connections to knowledge and swaths of information. He did not wish to seem bereft in his explanations so pondered a bit on his own thoughts. "What I wish to express is the curiosity of you Equestrian Ponies. You seem quite multifarious in your natures." For the citizens of Saddle Arabia the various cultures from old, unified pony tribes certain made their kingdom today, but there was too little known about Equestria at this time. Al-Burq pushed to stand. "Simply put -- your unique circumstances are outrageous and deserve to be recorded." Ah there he went. "Why one could even submit they should be chronicled for other ponies to read of your excerpts in the future!" Found the scholar.

Gleaming Echo could only quietly whistle a bit of a cheerful tune after a moment or two; something to keep his mind away from the conversation. It was a bit of an odd song, but that mattered rather little; it served to focus him even while he decided to reply a little bit to Yuna and Dusk's worry! "You all don't have to worry about him... I mean... He can only take control when I am either surprised or well.. angry. The rest of the time he just sits in my head and reads memories."

Yunalesca couldn't help but be so morose, it was just in her nature to be so focused on the negative and the dark. Wasn't it what got her into fortune telling as a talent to start with? "If it makes you feel better, Dusk, I foresee no death in your near future." She tried to joke and eventually refocused on the pegasus stallion again. "Well, I.. come from a town in the Unicorn Range. I kinda left it when a big storm came through and wrecked most of it. I've just been kind of traveling ever since." Yuna shrugged. "But, you know, Equestria's usually pretty normal. Stuff like this isn't gonna be encountered too often, if at all. Pegasi make the weather, earth ponies make our food, and unicorns do.. whatever." The not-unicorn glanced back inside at Gleam, eyebrow quirked. "Good to know."

Silent Dusk actually calmed down at that and lay back more relaxed fear now more apparent in her eyes as the adrenaline rush passed away and the more sober thestral resurfaced. "For what it's worth Echo thank you for blasting that cultist back there and saving me, that was very generous." then tried her wing again and winced, hissing as sharp teeth gritted. "Ow."

Al-Burq was a bit silent now. He was given the information he desired. While a talkative fellow, he was not the chatty sort. He was remiss to depart, but at the same time remaining did not sit well with him. This young winged female had his greatest intrigue, the madman second. The story from the unicorn mare was -- trite, at best. A boring old tale of travel upon first light. It was unexpected, in truth. But by far the most unthrilling bit of dribble he has heard today. With a sigh he looked to the injured mare. "Perhaps you should not strain yourself my dear." he called, raising a worried little hoof, hanging it daintily over the ground.

Gleaming Echo smiled some at the thestral and flicked an ear. "It was... well, what a hero would do right?" he'd ask as he focused his magic in a more broad area to repair the damage... The deep tissue damage was more or less repaired now! "Just do try to be careful for roughly a day or two! Oh, and no flying." he'd say in a rather amusingly stern voice. Much like a pony healer might say right? Well; he did have a bit of a talent for healing and lighter magic ~ Much like Tar had a talent for destruction and darker spells.

Yunalesca seemed to have helped Dusk calm down with that telling, even though she'd done nothing to prove it. Well, she helped. "Yes, I suppose." She thought to answer Gleam's question, but the mention of 'hero' made her think again. If his odd necklace split his personality in such stark black and white.. she just wondered what he was like before he had been divided. Interesting thought. She might just let him travel with her, at least then she could have help against any unruly ponies. "Yeah, you could probably take it easy in my wagon.. although where we can go from here, I've no idea."

Silent Dusk nodded staying put laying on her side right now, looking from one pony to the other then wing shrugged some. "I don't think anypony plays go fish do you?" that and they probably didn't have any playing cards, well Yuna may have tarot cards or something.

Al-Burq could not be stuck in this wagon while the lass healed. And no flying! What a dreary existence. Twas why pegasi tried so hard to avoid such injuries. "It is a shame you are bed ridden so. But soon, at least, you will be well in time." He gently offered. Sighing he twisted his wings a bit, only to feel the soft soreness. "At least I could use an ight as well." he audibly submitted, unable to find good cause to up and leave these flowing wells of information, save the gypsy. Must hide his wallet elsewhere! "Pardon me for being so frank, but say you were subsumed by this cult?" At least he felt it seemed appropriate. The unicorn male seemed more part of it than the female, as one could spot from his -- lunacy. Ah such a word a stab to the princess of night, were he to have knowledge of such a tale, which was only part of Equestrian history. He quickly recalled the unicorn was indeed mad. "Ah, how inclusive were you with this cult?" Still a big word, not as big though. He tried.

Gleaming Echo inclined his head some as the glow of his magic faded from his horn. "There we go... all set!" he'd say only to blink and tilt his head some and turned more to face the other two! "Mmm... Well I WAS thinking about heading further into mainland Equestria. The closer we are to Canterlot the less likely the cultists will follow myself and Lady Yuna. Well ~ More myself!" He'd say with a bit of a sheepish grin and a scuff of his hoof. His attention turned to the foreign pegasus and he hummed. "Well! I was inducted into the cult from birth as a foal because my parents were members themselves. Of course the teachings didn't seem to latch onto me as well as they liked. Of course Lady Nightmare is important, but each of the other holy ones are important in their own way! Besides... I'm not so much a fan of eternal night..." he added with a bit of a flippant tone of voice. Of course I never left the order since I never really had reason to. My friends were there to! Then Lady Yuna appeared and I decided that my time had come!" his expression soured some. "They 'might' be after me because I decided to relieve them of Nightmare's raiment! The curse caused each of us to slowly go mad! Incidents of violence increased - some outright went insane! I had to get the raiment away before the rest of us... well, yeah! Tarnished claims he can help me keep from losing any more of my mind and, well, honestly I have to hope he can!" Because trusting his dark side was a thing!

Yunalesca flicked an ear at the mention of 'go fish.' It was mostly a foal's card game, as far as she was aware, but a card game nonetheless. A pity she didn't have the right cards. "I'm afraid the only cards I've got are my tarot cards, for reading fortunes." She replied, true to the assumption. Yuna fell silent when the pegasus asked the other stallion about the cult, and got to hear his full story- albeit the condensed version. The idea of cults brainwashing even foals into it made her grimace- what a horrible thing! "Let's hope so, but I like the idea of staying near Canterlot. I'm sure there's a town somewhere around there that'll be safe for us. Which means, yeah, you can stay."

Silent Dusk curled up and yawned then. "For health's sake and because injury tired me out I think I will sleep a little." which is exactly what the thestral mare did, more questions and problems were for tomorrow, she had suffered enough stuff one day.

Al-Burq had noted there were many mentions of this Lady of the Night. "You have made multiple mentions of this -- lady." He spoke up, gently of course so the bat mare could rest. "Who is it you speak of? In all my time I have not heard of such a deity." Now if there was a cult worshipping some night creature it was undoubtedly either a deity or some prophet, either what it was a great honor to learn something new, especially from another culture! This would do his leaders proud, for they found some sort of pleasure allying themselves with a country full of rather troubling idealism. Peace among races -- hardly probable given the differences of power among them!

Gleaming Echo couldn't help but smile some as the pegasus appealed to his cultist side by asking just who Lady Nightmare was! "Lady Nightmare is the ruler of dreams, the night, and if she were to ever return she'd bathe the land in an eternal nigth! Which between you and me would be wonderful for sleeping! No more sun waking one up at odd hours in the morning! Alas, many generations back she rose up against the sun and lost! Thus she was banished until recently and was... lost to us again." he'd say with a heavy sigh as he scuffed a hoof! "But alas the Nightmare cult preserved outside of Equestria! Though I might have done a bit of a blow by taking Nightmare's raiment off their hooves!"

Yunalesca pondered if she should continue being nice and find some actual playing cards for the thestral, once she woke up. For the time being, she deserved her rest and the mare could focus her attention on the two stallions. She let Gleam answer the foreigner's question first before she chipped in. "Princess Luna. He's talking about who Princess Luna used to be, but she's back now. She's one of Equestria's rulers, the sister to Princess Celestia. They're the ones who raise the sun and moon." Yuna might as well explain a little further, right?

Al-Burq furrowed his brows in sheer confusion. The lad went off on a tangent as the scholar scrambled to get out his quill and ink. He scribbled what he could down, grasping to every word the unicorn male spoke. He seemed quite fervent in his regard for this lady, and moreover -- hardly lacked the good qualities of a fanatic. His quill was drawn back from his paper, the feather tool clenched between his front teeth with the trained diligence of a trained scholar. "Excuse me?" Madam, you surely jest!" While he was aghast with disbelief, leave it to somepony to find value in a politician who merely spoke words and never actually did. He knows of Princess Luna, but she was nopony of merit. A princess who sat on a throne and tried to usurp the kingdom from her sister, who was foolish enough to pardon the Alicorn on account of, what was it? Pity? Far from him to know the whole story. All he had were tales that did not reach his country.
Al-Burq stifled a laugh. She did not seem the sort to attempt such forceful political gain. From what he has heard she was a little -- dull. She spoke little and breathed onto others with the trained tendencies of a circus pony. All an act put on for commoners. He was a noble. He knew well of the pomp and parade, but he had wit and education to back up his charm. "I have studied little on the mare. I am a scholar, not a politician. What I know of the princess of Equestria," He again tried not to spit ungraciously... they were after all hosting his country with a treaty of kindness. He needn't ruin talks of peace and trade just because politicians made him a bit sick. He was just thankful there were so few, if any left besides they, in the world! "But that is why I am here. To make such knowledge more accessible." He laughed politely...

Gleaming Echo let out a bit of a chuckle... as the conversation turned towards the princesses. "Indeed! The princesses in Canterlot, while they hold such magical might, are just politicians! They bow to the whim of the idiot nobles with the bits!" he spat out the word like it was a poison. "When they could make the country better; stronger!" he'd let out a growl. Needless to say that was probably the indoctrination talking... It would take more than what... three hours?.. of freedom to break years of indoctrination to the nightmare cult! Needless to say the ah... training... didn't include many lessons on... economics. One day was just sitting in front of a parchment that had the face of a princess with a big red 'X' through it!... He got extra credit by adding a graffiti mustache on the pink one, wall-eyes on the white one, and a goatee upon the princess who was Not their beloved Lady Nightmare!

Yunalesca returned the stallion's look of disbelief when he asked if she was joking. The same look that would be turned onto the other unicorn. "They're not just politicians. They're.. well, they're princesses! I doubt they would bend easily for a bunch of spoiled brats, not when they can move celestial bodies the way they do. I mean, really, the old stories about how they defeated Discord?" Yuna piped up, feeling annoyance at both of them- she had her own views, too, because of her upbringing. "Well, if you want information, I'm sure you can go to them personally. We'll be heading close to Canterlot anyway. Why not get things right from the horse's mouth?"

Al-Burq listened to their words, his quill doing its thing as he jotted down words which he would later organize. Notes for now, just notes. Flicking his ears as he looked up the stallion allowed his wings to shift a bit. Leaving them in the same position too long got them rather numb. Flexing them was best! His brow twitched when Gleam all but hacked a hairball at the mention of noble. While it was annoying, he could not take offense seeing as he had a more proactive roll with his government by providing cultural development through the education of the ignorant dregs of Saddle society! He moved to dip his quill into the inkwell which he had rest beside him. His grey eyes turned to Yuna, brows furrowing ever so slightly. "Well, these tales are known, but they harbor little in the way of details. Not only did the event occur long before my birth, but it was a memory long after."
Al-Burq gave a nod. "After such a long time there are not many records about it outside of Equestria, at the least one can theorize. It was an even at the center of Equestrian culture so I can only suspect you have held some sort memoir of these historical events outsiders haven't access to." Which sometimes created -- cults. His head tilted a bit at her suggestion. "Are we that close to the lands of Equestria's capital?" He was quite surprised, since his old, useless maps hardly provided him any detailed accounts of the various changes that Equestria has suffered between Discord's rule and that of the noble princesses.

Gleaming Echo let out a bit of a chuckle. "You are a long way from Equestria's capitol, friend... And from what I understand about the locations of Saddle Arabia... You were going quite the wrong way!" he'd say with a note of amusement. The cultist let out a bit of a sigh though. "We can't really take the train with Lady Yuna's cart so, perhaps, we can simply take the east road and then travel along the tracks...." he suggested as he sat down on his rump and leaned back.

Yunalesca knew her same order still stood. If he didn't know the details, then who better to ask than those who'd been there themselves? "We do. We have a holiday called Nightmare Night, but it's.. sort of a fun thing meant for foals. A night to celebrate when Celestia banished Nightmare Moon and to celebrate the scary. To play games, eat candy, that sort of stuff." She replied. "That, and another, the Summer Sun Celebration. It's when Celestia makes a show of raising the sun early, although I've never gotten to see it myself." Yuna shrugged and looked over at Gleam, frowning. She probably could ditch her cart, but that meant having to carry her stuff.. Not that she had much other than clothes, her cards, and a crystal ball. Still, the cart was her own little home she worked from. "I think I've got a map somewhere. It's the way I've been able to go from town to town without getting lost. So, it's.. worth a shot." Yuna tossed in, moving into her cart and past Gleam to dig around in a few drawers. She knew she had to have it somewhere, she usually did put it away whenever she reached a new town.. Aha! Yuna levitated out a battered roll of parchment and offered it to the other two. "I think this is it."

Al-Burq gave a sigh as his head rolled back. Yes well he knew his maps were out of date, he did not need to be reminded how hopelessly lost he was! He kept his strong scowl to fight back the friction of his Monocle as he tried to emote utter degradation without breaking his mask. Shifting himself he rolled up his parchment in his mouth before tucking the dried document into his saddlebag. Giving another sigh he sniffed up his pride, clearing his throat. While he wanted to call Glean a fanatical heathen with gumdrops dancing through his hole filled head, he settled on the latter thoughts. "Listen here -- tis quite difficult voyaging far beyond seas and mountains with little more than history to guide one. The land has far changed, and by all I can tell from my maps your land has seen far more growth of -- trees," Gross green things not as noble as date trees! "And open roads closing up." He submitted, de facto.
Al-Burq turned to Yuna as she seemed to profess to the knowledge of these intimate rituals of historical significance a continued tradition among these pony-folk. So perhaps they did indeed have some sense of culture, but he wondered what sort of cap-backwards society celebrated what was to be a negative ceremony involving children? Oh wait, he did not need to for this sounded like cults. When the female procured a map he felt -- she could have done so a time back. "So are you heading in this direction?" He did not want to leave the winged mare to these -- vagabonds. His hoof reached out to collect the map, using his mouth to unfurl it with care.

Gleaming Echo let out a bit of a sigh. "I know ~ It wasn't like they didn't make us study maps in the cult. We needed to know where we were going." he'd say with a bit of a shrug. "I have no doubt that your maps are woefully out of date." he hummed only to quirk his head and look to 'his fellow unicorn'. "Do you.... Perhaps have a mirror somewhere that I can use, Lady Yuna? I need to have some words with Tarnished." he'd ask with a bit of a smile. He needed to have some words with a certain reflection of his! It was long overdue after all the trouble Tar had been causing them both!

Yunalesca allowed the pegasus to take the map from her, though he was given a quizzical look for his sigh. Was he frustrated? Probably, from the sound of it. "Well it is a lush countryside. Although if you look to the far south, it becomes nothing but desert." If that would satisfy him, not that anything seemed to. "Now that it's decided, yeah. Uh.." Yuna stopped, glancing to Gleam as he asked for a mirror. That she knew she did have. "I.. do. Somewhere. A scrying mirror. It's kind of used the same way as a crystal ball." Yuna turned halfway through her sentence to one particular drawer- a drawer where she kept all of her fortune telling things together, save for the ball itself. A bit too big. She pulled it open, moving a deck out of the way and levitating out a small and frameless oval mirror. "Here." She levitated it over, looking at him as though he was crazy while she did it- which, as they all knew now, he was.

Al-Burq gave a hum in the positive at the mention of the desert. Unsurpassed beauty. A difficult place to live, but what did not defeat you made you generously more grand! He pricked his ears forward, stormy eyes turning slowly toward Gleam before narrowing. He tried to ask 'what', but the scholar found the words dead on his lips. Nope! He shook his head, feathers bristling some before he focused on the map. Than the gypsy offered a scrying mirror. Now one did not need to be a wizard to know what scrying meant. No! Nope! Nah! No way! He pranced uneasily on his hooves and shook his head with an audible nicker. Stiffening some he pranced a considerable distance so that there was great pass between him and the unicorn. "I shall perhaps put to rest my weary boy.Travel was long and I do suppose we may continue traveling together." So long as he separated himself from these wayward wizards! Yes, rest. He would find spot far from the wizard to rest!

Gleaming Echo couldn't help but let out a bit of a smile as the mirror came into sight. "That will be perfect. Thank you, Lady Yuna." he'd say as it was set down. He merely inclined his head to Al before he met the eyes of his reflection. Almost instantly the cheerful expression of the reflection turned into a dark scowl and it seemed to independently turn its head to look around with eyes that were slit-pupil and quite sinister. "Damn it, brat, I was reading!" the gravelly voice came out from Gleaming as he watched the movements of his reflection. "I know! We need to address your social problems!" he replied with a crossing of his forelegs as he sat back in a somewhat grumpy posture. The reflection didn't mirror the movement and once again the darker voice groaned as the pony in the mirror glared. "What is there to talk about. I - Hate - Ponies!" the dark half of him replied with a scowl that was really childish...To be honest it looked like a pout.

Yunalesca looked past Gleam in the narrow window, that was, door, to the outside where Al pranced nervously. Oh, was he scared? She looked amused and had to fight back a smile while the pegasus put some distance between himself and the cart- as much as there was to be had within a barn. "Lucky us, we get to sleep on hay while we're still here. My wagon won't hold all of us.. uh," Yuna trailed off when Gleam started talking to himself in the mirror, but this time it was different. She dared to move up behind him to peer over his shoulder, just so she could get a better look at his 'other half.' So, he wasn't just crazy then? "Wow."

Al-Burq noped the heck out of there ! Though outside was not the best habitat for rest, he rather that than be murgled in his sleep. His hoof beat against the ground as he muttered of the inconsistencies between desert ponies and mainland ponies! Stomp stomp stomp! Though it looked as if he was throwing a tantrum he was actually digging up the ground so it was softer to rest in. He remained close to the cart so could, sadly, hear the mad ramblings. Folding his ears back he began to mentally recite some tables of weather theory to keep his mind far from the loon! Shaking out his head, the feathers of his wings puffed up a bit and tucked against his side to keep him warm in the cold weather. The desert was far more icy at night. Frigid ice indeed...

Gleaming Echo let out a bit of a grin. "Quite interesting isn't it.... It was a really nasty surprise one morning. Go to the loo and stare into the mirror only to suddenly have the reflection moving on its own." That got a bit of a 'snrk' from the dark half. "Ooooh, yes, that was great! Brat near soiled himself!" That thought seemed to bring a smile back to the reflection's muzzle as Gleaming grumbled. "So! As long as I gaze at myself in a reflection he will be able to 'move'..That is how it works." The pony in the mirror had turned to look more at Yuna as she looked over his shoulder. "It IS a pleasure to finally meet you, lady Yuna. In the ah... reflection?" He grinned with those sharpened teeth. He found her the most likeable between Gleaming's new 'companions', then again she did have the least grating personality for the dark pony!

Yunalesca could only stare at the reflection while Gleam spoke beside her of when it first started happening. She.. really didn't know what to say to all of this. It was crazy! Seeing him and his reflection as two different beings, even though both voices were still coming out of Gleam. Maybe being around those cultists had driven her a little mad.. She heard the heavy retreat of hooves and a glance outside told her that Al had left- no doubt left the barn entirely. Yuna pulled her attention back to the mirror at the sound of her own name, eyebrows raised. "Uhh.. yeah, I guess."

Gleaming Echo couldn't help but let out what was perhaps one of the oddest laugh. It was a combination of both laughs thrown into one! Gleaming's more 'normal' voice and then Tarnished's more sinister! "Yes?! Oooh... I like her! It is almost like she is taking this all in stride! Nightmare's raiment must have affected you during your brief... captivity more than we thought, my dear..." the dark side grinned some as he moved to Yuna's reflection and put a hoof around it casually! Could she truly feel the faint sensation of the touch? Who knows! Maybe, maybe not... It might be her mind playing tricks upon her at the sight before her. "How could you expect any different, Tarny?" he'd start only to get a scowl and a growl for that nickname. "She is a... you know what, after all!" Gleaming finished as he looked briefly to the door and the direction of the bed.

Yunalesca's brow furrowed next from the mixed laugh- how in Equestria was he doing that? Heck, taking it all in stride? Was she? Was she really? Maybe the whole situation had been desensitized a little after she'd experienced what she thought to be the impossible- visions of future events, ascension. Yuna was broken from her thoughts again when the reflection moved, putting its hoof around her reflection's shoulders. Her shoulders bunched up instinctively, even though she knew nopony was actually touching her. Still, it was an odd thing, and she was unused to such physical contact. Yuna withdrew a little jerkily, just enough to still see the reflection, while Gleam continued to talk to his other half. For his cover of her alicornhood, she had to be a little grateful- she'd never wanted anypony to know it.

Gleaming Echo looked to Yuna's reflection, knowing that turning his head from the mirror would cause the reflection to revert. Oddly enough the reflection was forced to recoil as she jerked away and Gleaming let out a chuckle. "Don't change the conversation, Tar... You need to well... act nicer or something! You nearly killed our friend in there when you dropped her! Any more jarring and it would have caused further damage to her lung!" He chastised the dark reflection which just... well.. pouted. "She brought a knife up to our throat!" the dark half griped. "I think we were entailed to get away..." he continued and Gleaming sighed. "But... A hero doesn't kill the person they are trying to rescue!" That was met with a rather vicious grin. "But you said it yourself... I am not a hero... Two sides of the same coin, eh? Hero and villain? I can kill who I want ~ If I want!"

Yunalesca frowned, forcing herself to relax her shoulders while she listened to Gleam berating his reflection for his actions. It didn't seem to really work, considering their views. Although.. The alicorn dared to leaned back over Gleam's shoulder, quirking a brow. "You wouldn't kill me of course." She pointed it out bluntly to the darker half in the mirror, and yet again felt weird for talking to a reflection. Yep, it was definitely going to take some getting used to. "After all that trouble."

Gleaming Echo glanced at Yuna's reflection when she seemed to move back into 'view' once again on the Mirror. The dark half of the pony simply shot Yuna a grin that was more playful than not. "But of course not, Milady Yunalesca..." he'd say as he fell into a sweeping bow that was somehow both serious and mocking at the same time but there would be the air that it was sincere. "Why ever would I kill somepony I like!" he replied with a somewhat cheeky tone as Gleaming let out a chuckle. "She is nice, isn't she." Gleaming smiled some himself only for the dark half to continue. "Long as I like you, you need not fear me. Between the brat and myself; if we are there nothing will capture you again ~ On our lives." he chuckled.

Yunalesca looked a little thoughtful as she mulled something over, although the little bow was given a suspicious squint. "Me? Nice? I've been snippy with everypony the whole way." She brushed off before moving on. "Well then. I'd like to say.. mmf, ask you two to avoid killing anypony. Who doesn't deserve it. That includes our current companions. Think about it, Dusk seems to know how to fight, she could be useful." Using logic on a mirror, sounds about right, but it sounded like an obvious struggle to phrase her request the way she had. Although how she could stay in the good graces of a madman was beyond her.

Gleaming Echo inclined his head some as Tarnished looked at Yuna with a bit of a raised eyebrow. "Very well then... I will not kill the thestral. She has proven to be a somewhat interesting asset anyways... And it would be such a waste to end her after the brat healed her." The dark half raised and waved a hoof dismissively as he couldn't help but smirk. The dark pony had no intention nor the ability to seize control and kill their current companions, but... well, he might as well learn her argument. "And the pegasus, Milady?" he wanted to hear her reasoning for not killing him! He looked like a noble....He hated nobles!

Yunalesca remained silent as the pegasus was brought up- did they ever learn his name? She couldn't remember, although half of it might have been her not caring the bigger their little group became. She.. didn't really like being around too many ponies at a time. He also seemed a bit of a snob.. but that might just be an outward appearance. Who knew? "Honestly I just wouldn't want anypony hunting us for murdering some foreigner, but safety in numbers right? Besides, he might be useful."

Gleaming Echo let out a dark hum.... "As you wish, Milady... I will not harm a pony... Unless A) You tell me to, milady - And B) They try to hurt us...." Tar gave her another sweeping bow. "Why do you listen to her and not me?" Gleaming asked with a grumble only for the dark one to grin wide. "Why.... Dear Lady Yuna is one of the ... sacred, and you're just an idiot." he'd say with a smirk and a hiss. That last comment had been said low enough it was very unlikely anypony but the two of them were able to hear it.

Yunalesca was relieved to hear it, but could she really trust his word? Probably not. She didn't trust anypony to start with. When Gleaming grumbled, she heard his dark half's response and let loose a small snort of amusement. It was too late for her to stop it or take it back, so there it was. There was just something about the way it was said that struck her funny. Whoops. "Wow, burned by your own reflection."

Gleaming Echo let out a bit of a whine when even Lady Yuna laughed at his misfortune! "You ponies suck!" he grumbled as his ears laid back. This whole thing just made Tarnished laugh! "Hahahaha! Suck it up, brat! You're stuck with me!" he seemed to be quite happy he got that amused sound to come from the alicorn in disguise. "I'm sure if you ever got tired of it... You could just let me take the reigns...I'm sure Lady Yuna would much prefer that." he smiled mockingly at Gleaming whose ears fell back some but he did try to keep a brave face!

Yunalesca had to put a hoof over her mouth to bite back a laugh when Gleam whined at the both of them. Both? Weird thought. She dropped her hoof then and couldn't help but eye the evil reflection at what he'd said next. Was that suggestive? Or was she just reading it that way? Yikes. "I wouldn't know." Yuna uttered quickly and looked out into the barn beyond. Was it time to go to sleep? It was probably time to go to sleep. "I think it's probably bedtime for us little ponies. We're gonna have a long day of walking tomorrow."

Gleaming Echo was rather relieved that Lady Yuna didn't agree with the dark half of him again! At least somepony kinda...maybe wanted him around? His ears fell back and the light half of the pony just sighed inwardly. The dark half just continued to grin darkly at the light as if... nevermind, he knew precisely what Gleaming thought... He had plenty of time to wear him down; he was patient. "Very well, Lady Yuna... I shall bid you a good night." the dark half chuckled only for Gleaming to turn his head from the mirror. Once he turned away the reflection was abruptly once again just that; a reflection. "Sleep sounds wonderful...."

Yunalesca made to slip past Gleaming so she could head for the door, and paused once to glance back. "Uhh, g'night." She replied, uncertain about saying such in the first place. At least the dark half was gone from the mirror, if she was seeing that correctly from here. "Yeah. Unfortunately Dusk is sleeping in the only bed. The barn's got plenty of piles of hay lying around though. Itchy, but good enough." Yuna shrugged and moved down the steps, over to one of the piles in question. She kicked the straw around a little, trying to flatten it into enough of a bed shape as she could before she curled up on it. Soft enough. She just hoped she'd be able to get some sleep..

Gleaming Echo letout a bit of a shrug. "I've had worse than hay..." he hummed as he moved to exit the cart as well out into the barn. The cultist moved to a somewhat far pile of straw and settled himself down. "Good night Lady Yuna." he'd finally reply with a bit of a smile and curled up as tightly into a ball as he could... He was tired... Fleeing the cultists, saving Dusk, carrying Dusk, healing Dusk - and all that! Recovery would be nice...


The End.
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1/24/16; Beware, cultists!
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