Chapter IV: Showtime in the shadows
Luna opened one eye and mumbled "It's too early to be early…". Her personal attendee and friend, Mystique Wind, nudged her gently with a smile on her muzzle and sparks in her eyes. It was midday – streaks of sunbeams shot through heavy curtains that covered high windows in her chamber. Luna blinked, yawned, grumbled under her snout and with tired voice asked "What's is do damn important? I am tired! And I need my beauty sleep, you know – they can arrive today or tomorrow, and I want to look my best, you know…" she mumbled, letting her eyes close again.
Mystique Wind giggled.
Luna rapidly opened her eyes and stood up instantly with sudden realization. "They are here, aren't they!?" she shouted, and her maidservant nodded with a wide smile. Luna gasped and shrieked "Don't just stand here with a foalish grin! Help me get ready!" she jumped off the bed and in a rush attempted to brush her mane and coat, put on her regalia, paint her eyes with some shade and choose a perfume – she failed at everything with growing frustration.
Mystique quickly attended her mistress taking care of the brushing "Calm, Princess, calm!" she said cheekily. "They are a band of vagabond ruffians and you are a Royalty of the highest sort." She added while tending gently to Luna's tail. "Composure!" she finished with a commanding tone of a teacher.
"You're right. Right." Said the Midnight Princess with a sigh "But I am so…" she waved her forehoof randomly in the air, looking for the right word. "You know!" she huffed.
"Excited?" Mystique tried the obvious answer.
"Yes, yes, that too." Replied Luna, painting her eyelashes "But I am afraid too. I don't know, maybe I am afraid of my own expectations meeting with reality". She glanced with a little smirk over her muzzle towards her friend "You know, it's not that I lately met a lot of ponies."
Mystique laughed heartily, and Luna's joined her with her own chuckle.
"I have, well, a personal request for Lord Edgewing" Mystique stare at Luna in mild bewilderment. What kind of request could she want from the commander of the Royal Guard? Princess drew closer to Mystique Wind and whispered her orders in confidence. White unicorn stiffened and her face was a mask of bewilderment after Luna finished with a confident, serious look.
"You sure, Luna? It's kind of harsh trea-" she stopped, as her friend… Her Princess' gaze grew stern and sharper than a diamond drill.
"Do it." Princess Luna said with a tone that knew no objections.
Mystique Wind shivered – there was something new in Luna's eyes – nevertheless, she bowed low and answered.
"Yes, My Highness"
* * *
Twilight hated this part, but she reasoned with herself that it is necessary for her plan to work. She already felt guilt for even thinking, of doing something like that to her friends, but in the bigger picture she was doing it for their own good. When she trotted into her library Spike was already long asleep. She wrote a quick letter to princess Celestia with many, many questions and rapidly got to her alchemy lab to set her plan in motion. She spent almost entire night brewing, distilling, observing with extreme caution condensation on strangely shaped flasks, and she finished with six little ampules filled with orange liquid just when the first beams of the morning sun began to shoot out of the horizon. She smiled at the result and yawned, tired from so much work done in such a short time.
Exhausted, she picked the pills and trotted slowly towards the kitchen to make herself some light breakfast, before she hit the bed to catch some sleep. While she was eating a fast snack, she gulped one of the ampules and wrote a note to Spike
Don't wake me up. I worked all night. Clean the Alchemy Lab, Please.
She hang the note on the kitchen doors and walked upstairs to catch some sleep. Applejack was correct – her friends were truly lucky, that she was around to plan things for them.
* * *
They walked slowly under escort of confident, beautiful mare and her two guards towards the colossal form of the Alabaster Palace, the most famous piece of architecture in entire Equestria, mainly for being a home to the God-Empress of the entire land, omnibenevolent Princess Celestia. But not only – it was a magnificent structure, monumental and enormous, build from white, silky marble with gold and silver décor. Uncountable spires, thin and built in a way to seem impossible by law of simple physic, scraped the sky with their sharp roofs. It was built to make everyone silent, suffocated with its glorious majesty – like it was saying "Yes, we can live in something THAT magnificent and glorious – kneel now and stay quiet, and maybe we will allow you to exist in peace". It worked. Not on Pinion, however. She was still too young to get the subtle hints.
"Ooooh! Look, how sparkly!"
"Aaaah! And this is sweeeet!"
"Omigosh, look at that towers over there!"
She jumped and bounced all over the place, trembling with excitement, her emerald eyes wide opened and filled with sparks. Royal guards didn't noticed or tried their best not to, but Vexing Sun smiled with pride at all the praise for her city, even when it came from a kid.
Rest of the team was a little less excited. To be honest, they weren't excited at all. Doctor Cunning looked troubled and dead serious, looking all around himself, like he expected an entire horde of cops, agents or an army jump from the nearby gardens to get him. He was calm, he always was, but he couldn't contain his paranoia. Ace Flush's snout got sourer and sourer with every step – she hated the fru-fru atmosphere of the royal palace and she surely hated being unable to unload hey fury on somepony for so much time – Swash gulped, because he knew, he would be the generous receiver of her next outburst. Lagro was stoical as ever, and maybe even glad that this time nopony gave him more than a glance when their made their way towards the inner palace – times had changed, and ministers, workers and nobility of the Canterlot got used to seeing every species known to Equestria and beyond. And Pinion, well, Pinion were enjoying herself quite well – as for her, she suddenly stopped in her track and turned her head towards Swash, gave him this terrifying look that only griffons could do with sudden shrink of her pupils.
"You promised!" she said with her lovely, chirpy voice.
Swash stood still in bewilderment "Err. Could you remind me, what exactly I promised?" he said with an awkward smile while scratching his head. Pinion huffed in disappointment and jumped to face him.
"A hat! You tol'me that you buy me hat in Phillydelphia!" she screeched. "I still want a hat..." she added with a whisper, her eyes going glassy. She knew how to make Swash do whatever she wanted. He was such a softie after all. As expected, Swash sighed and patted her on the head.
"Right. Right! After the meeting, if it's okay with you, pipsqueak!" he said. Pinion flashed him a fast smile and dashed away to recon nearby bushes and fountains with a happy, clear laugh.
Vexing Sun was observing the entire scene with visible curiosity. She saw that Swash stared at her and cleared her throat. "Isn't she a little too young for your…" she tinkered for a few second than finished "Well, your line of work, so to speak?". Swash smiled kindly and nodded.
"She surely is. But we had no choice but to take care of her. And so she stayed with us." He saw that Vexing Sun opened her mouth to ask the question, but he didn't let her. "Don't" he said seriously and quietly. "Just don't. It's how it is and how it will be. End of story for now." Silver coated mare closed her mouth and gave a barely visible nod. Swash changed the subject to release the tension.
"Please, do tell me, her Majesty will want to see us, like now? This instant?"
The perfect mare shook her head, letting her crystalline mane flew around her like a cloud. Swash could walk with her all the day long, just to observe her fluid movement and sparkling visage.
"Of course not. Her Highness, Princess Celestia, wish for you to relax and reinvigorate from your journeys. Her Grace will meet you tomorrow just after the sunrise on private breakfast. Until then you are Her personal guests, and will be treated with utmost respect as such – feel free to ask and do anything you will.
Ace snorted with a diabolical grin, but said nothing, earning a curious glance from Vexing Sun. After a short while entire group entered the main hall of the Alabaster Palace – it was bustling with activity, dozens of different ponies trotting with stacks of papers, maids cladded in white and black uniform dusted, ran along with plates and worked whatever tasks they had ahead of them and in front of each of eight monumental pillars stood an unshakable silhouette of a Royal Guard pegasi.
Iridescent young unicorn stood in place and presented an older, well clothed elegant stallion with light grey coat and slick, cut short black mane and tail. His cutie mark was quite unusual, representing a single fully opened eye.
"This is Serving Duty, a chief butler of the Alabaster Palace and caretaker of Her Highness personal guests – like You are now. Don't worry, he will provide whatever you need in a jiffy!" she finished, giving Serving Duty a huge wink, that he didn't respond to even with the tiniest twitch of a single muscle. Instead, he bowed a complicated bow ruled by obscure rules of court etiquette, and said with a snobby, well-practiced tone.
"Welcome to the Alabaster Palace, esteemed guests. As Vexing Sun already told, I bear the honor of the Chief Butler here, and I am here to serve all of you at your every whim."
He bowed again, at the magic started – it wasn't unicorn magic, as the Chief Butler was an earth pony, but his words worked like a spell. Suddenly, entire team were surrounded by smiling maids, that split them up skillfully and offered to show each of them their rooms. It probably worked every single time but this one. Old habits never cease to work.
Doctor was asked to give his cape and top hat away. He didn't yell or react in any rude way to this question. He simple stare deep into poor maid mare eyes and said coldly "No". Poor filly stood in front of him, petrified and unable to react or broke the eye contact that bore into her with malice, causing her to shudder all over. She was quickly swapped with another maidservant, and needed an entire day of rest to calm down. Two other servant assisted Doctor Cunning to his chamber in silence.
Lagro was left out, as always – even the most loyal and bravest of maids were resistant to approach his huge, rugged frame. Swash understood their fears, even if it was without ground – only under stern gaze of their boss, Serving Duty, two tiny – in comparison – fillies shakily walked towards the dragonling and with hushed voices asked him to walk with them towards his room.
Ace on the other hand entered a Full Dominatrix Mode. She quickly adapted her posse and trot to that of the snobbiest and snottiest nobility, she practically watched the world now with her nostrils with her head craned up and she already threw like a dozen of different "request" towards the servants, that were bustling around her trying their best to fully accommodate her "needs". Swash shook his head at such a shameful display, but there really was nothing he could do.
Then he heard a crush of something very delicate being shattered into million pieces. He tried to look over the crowd only to notice two mares trying their best to contain energy filled contraption that was Pinion, who reached her maximum excitement level and couldn't stop herself from jumping around being careless. Due to her extreme acrobatic abilities, two maidservants would hardly be enough to catch her. Ever.
Swash looked at Serving Duty with an awkward smile while brushing his mane, trying his best to look carefree and apologetic in the same time – not an easy task to achieve. But the Chief Butler looked as stoic as ever, not even a single brow raised, not even a twitch on his muzzle.
"Excuse me for that" said Swash, meaning the broken vase "It was expensive, wasn't it?"
"Invaluable indeed, sir" replied the earth pony with the same, unshakable tone he used while introducing himself "But of course it matters not, for it was only five centuries old vase from Relief Period. We still have a few of those, fortunately, and we can't blame the young lady for her… eagerness, can we?" He said with a nod, and with this nod two neat and smiling mares in maid uniforms approached Swash. Oh, he is going to enjoy this for sure.
* * *
Sun was setting on the horizon and first stars began to shine on the purple sky. Air was still brimming with the coppery, after storm scent that he enjoyed so much. Ol'Stooge was old indeed, and he was sitting in his rocking chair on terrace of his wooden house, smoking terrible pipe that his daughter hated so. He smiled at the very thought of his offspring, a living embodiment of his lovely wife, let her rest in peace – his daughter, Glittering Sky, had the very same lavender coat and almost identical, goldish mane. Also, she was an unicorn, just like her mom. From him she received a stubborn nature and eyes filled with endless curiosity towards the world. Ol'Stooge sighed while blowing a circle of blue smoke. It was getting late, Glittery should be home by now.
And in that moment, somewhere deep in the nearby pine forest, on the background of crickets concerto and night birds songs, he heard the faintest of screams. It was so weak and distant, that he believed for a second that his age mixed with the wind is playing tricks on his imagination. But then, he heard it again. And again, stronger this time. Glittery was in this forest. He was old and far from good form, but he never ran as fast in his entire life.
After a quick gallop he found her. She was lying on the grass, like she was sleeping. He felt the change in the forest – there were no sounds, no chirpy voices of the birds, nor the playful orchestra of insects in the high grass. It was silent, and he knew that silence well – something was on the hunt in the thicket. He gulped and slowly trotted toward Glittering Sun.
"Are you all right, Glitty? Come on, we need to go!" he shoved her gently with a forehoof and turned her head towards him. When he saw her eyes he jumped back with a gasp of terror. Her daughter eyes were empty – once emerald irises were now light grey, almost white. He began to shudder, and whisper under his snout "No. No. No no no no…", he slowly pulled his head to her chest – Praise Celestia! She was breathing and the heart was working fine. Slow, yes, very slow. But fine all the same. He sighed heavily with relief, he tried to wake Glittery up, but she didn't respond to anything. And then, when he lifted her body from the ground he noticed something that made him speechless.
Her cutie mark was gone.
* * *
The Wanderer hid himself in a cavern, far away from the… place of occurrence. IT was correct from the very beginning – how could IT ever thought that ITS new form needed to follow the same rules as any other being occupying this strange, vivid and chaotic plane? Fortunately for IT, IT found the source of pure energy easy to consume and manipulate, allowing IT to break the bindings of the Laws. ITS form was now a mere tool for ITS will to shape. However, the miniscule energy drained from this four legged creature wasn't even nearly enough – IT needed more, much more. The Wanderer could sense hundreds of energies swirling around two very powerful ones in the distance. No. IT must be Patient. Patience was hard to acquire when time lashed at IT with unreasoned cruelty, but IT understood that ITS existence could be easily wiped out by bearers of such potent energies. However, IT scanned and felt six less powerful, but still quite indomitable sources of raw magic – closer than the big two, and much easier to dealt with. Yes. IT made a decision.
The Wanderer flew into the night, a wingless blur of shadow passing through the sky.
* * *
A knife hit the wood with a loud *thunk* sound and stood, vibrating, in the bread-board.
Dr. Cunning then took it out and repeated the threw, plunging it yet again into tortured piece of wood with another *thunk*. Entire team was sitting in one of the palace kitchens in darkness enlightened by two small candles. Ace was drunk or nearly drunk, as she was drinking wine for entire day, ravaging royal cellars of some rare and very expensive annuals. Pinion slept on Lagro's back, and the big lizard himself was sitting in silence sharpening his monstrous, blackened hunting carver. Swash was the only one smiling – he enjoyed the room service greatly. He already had addresses to two lovely mares, and it was only half of a day!
*thunk* A throwing knife landed in front of Swash.
"I would kill for your thought, Knack." Said Doctor solemnly.
"He's'a… He is'… Ssss!" Ace slurred and hit the table hard with her forehead. Yet, she managed to say "He's thinkin' abbot rumps! Justya look'em him, smilin' nuts!" She hiccupped.
Swash smiled evilly.
"Oh, and I believed that the green on your lovely snout was from all the alcohol you poured into yourself, my dear! But now I see, that you are simply jealous!"
Ace waved a hoof uncoordinatedly in his general direction without even attempting to raise her head from the table, and snarled.
"Just come'ere, you dirthy weas- weasley, so'ah could kill you."
Swash laughed for a few moments, but then turned his head towards still not amused Cunning and said.
"To be serious, I am thinking about what exactly we are going to do. I mean, what kind of, ha, request, someone with position and power like Princess Celestia could want?" Swash picked up the throwing knife and began juggling it mindlessly with a sigh. He stood up, still playing with the blade and said "We should catch some sleep while we can. Tomorrow everything will be cleared, eh? Doctor could you help Ace? You know she would hurt me badly in her current state." Doctor simply nodded and without too much caring just get slurring, mumbling, grunting and shoving red mare on his back. Lagro left without a word still carrying little, dozing griffon. Swash was left alone in the kitchen. He looked around, and noticed a big painting of some stuffy, snobby elderly mare – he looked at it and with a rapid yet sparing move he threw a blade right between the eyes of the old hag.
He smiled to himself and left the room.
* * *
Luna was watching them in the kitchen. It was a proper palace after all, filled with secret corridors and rooms designed for protection of the inhabitants and for this – spying on the guests. Mystique Wind stood next to her, extremely polite and nice as usual, but nevertheless guilt gnawed at Luna's consciousness without remorse. She bit her lip – she tried her best to be more of a friend than an employee, but it was so hard for her to change habits she learnt thousand years ago. She frowned, and still observing the team with the eyes of a big painting hanging in the kitchen, she said quietly.
"Sorry Mystique, for the earlier."
Mystique gave her a quizzical look. "I beg your pardon?"
"Oh come on. You know! For ordering you around and the harsh treatment with the special request? You must be mad – friends don't do that. I am sorry. Really."
"Luna. You may be my friend and that's all right. But you're also my employer, and that is all right too. My fault, really – I am in no position to question your orders" said the white unicorn with a shrug and a faint smile.
Luna sighed and said under her muzzle "But you are. I need advices, even if I do not follow them". A loud laugh came from behind the wall, and Luna pressed towards the eye slits to watch what happened. The blood-red mare, Ace Flush if she recalled well, were dead drunk and the rugged grey coated unicorn with bright orange mane and tail laughed his heart from her clumsy attempts to do something to him. Luna had never been so excited in her entire long life. They looked exactly how she imagined all of them.
Swash Knack, leader of the group was an epitome of an adventure novel hero. He was muscular and rugged, his body marked with tens if not hundreds of scratches and scars. He also maintained a certain style in his clothing and mannerism – like a handsome buccaneer or a rich pirate. Luna was observing him from the very first step he made in the palace, and was quite astounded how very different voices he could use – from the stern, harsh tone of command to slithery, velvet sounds of a poet. She giggled in her hooves quietly. Ah, it would be just fantastic to meet him tete-a-tete, to listen to his stories!
Mystique shook her head with a defeated grim, as she saw Luna's eyes go glassy and unfocused when she entered the state of fantasy, drifting in her head from reality.
Suddenly splinters of wood hit her and the Princess in the snouts, sound of ripped canvas hung in the air while four inches of solid, white steel touched Luna's forehead, right between her eyes. A single drop of red ichor emerged at the tip of the blade and slowly slid down the edge. Mystique couldn't move a muscle, she was simply struck with terror. Princess, after a second that lasted forever, dropped backward and hit the wall behind her. She was breathing heavily, her stare focused on the glistening piece of metal. With a shaky hoof she reached her head and touched the tiny wound. A single smear of carmine colored her midnight blue coat. She gulped – maybe her sister was right after all. She wouldn't fit with them.
Mystique shook herself off and quickly dashed towards the lying Princess, with her horn aglow and ready to mend the wound. She kneeled over to Luna with tears in her eyes.
"All you all right? You all right?" She quickly mended the tiny scratch and stood upright, shaking from anger "They could kill you! They need to be punished! I will go there right now and tell them my mind." She snarled, turning back, ready to gallop across the halfway to made her word came true.
Mystique stopped and turned back to see Princess – no. To see Luna, her friend, looking at her with desperation.
"No. Please, don't. It's my fault. He didn't know who was standing behind the portrait" she said, but her mind had entirely different thoughts, like 'How could he EVEN know, that there was ANYPONY behind the portrait? And that knife. He could… How could he threw a blade like this?' and so on. Mystique helped her stand up, as Luna was still shuddering all over. Pristine unicorn huffed.
"Well, at least I changed my mind about your idea Luna. From before. HE deserves that." she said, still nearly bursting from anger. "And I bet they are ready to commence."
Luna nodded. But she began to believe that her little request would end in something too much to handle – but she will see it through.
* * *
Swash opened his eyes in a split second and, with a move faster than anypony could blink, raised a thin knife to a throat of a shady silhouette standing beside his bed. It was built in within him, a compulsory reaction that didn't ask brain for permission to happen – he blinked, yawned and smiled awkwardly to a shocked, sweating maid, a nice young mare with sweet, but now terrified eyes.
"Excuse me for that" he hid the blade under the pillow "Built in reaction, hard to turn off, believe me." He winked, getting up. "So!" he added with vigor, putting his white shirt on "Who request my presence in this blasted hour?".
Maid mare were even more shocked than before. With eyes opened wide, huge like a pair of platters she asked, stammering in disbelief "H-how c-c-ould you k-know?" and after a second she blushed a little and added "Sir?". He laughed a single note and with a dashing smile replied.
"First of all – experience. Second of all, I am no 'sir', my dear. In fact, I am as far away from 'sir' as it is possible, I believe." He chuckled, seeing the mare smiling weakly and relaxing a little
"Lead the way than. It is always a pleasure to follow a beautiful filly around." He said with a huge wink, watching her blush getting bigger and redder.
The Alabaster Palace lost nothing of its majesty during the night. Hundreds of blue lamps casted a soft, almost eerie light in the tall hallways – only difference Swash noticed is the loud clicking sound of his own hooves on the marble, that was easily heard now, without all of the day hassle around. He followed the filly through many chambers and probably an entire mile of stairs, to finally reach a huge, bah, monumental doors casted in dark iron, looking more like an entrance to a lair of some demonic overlord rather than a…
"Her royal Highness, Princess Luna of the Night and Moon will see to you right now"
Rather than a door to a private chamber of the younger royal princesses, so it seems! Maid mare that he followed here gave a full bow in front of absolutely stunning white unicorn filly with a cascading snow-like mane. Swash caught her eyes and he tensed and instantly got serious – for reasons currently unfolded before him this particular mare hated him. She was acting politely with proper etiquette and composure, but no one can hide their true feelings behind their eyes. And this particular lady hated him with all her might, her gaze almost scorching his coat.
"My name is Mystique Wind. I am a personal attendee of her Majesty, Princess Luna. Her Grace would like to see YOU-" she practically snarled that piece "-immediately." And the doors swung open just enough to let him slip inside a gloomy chamber, filled with black and purple draperies lightened by a single lamp hanging from the ceiling. On a chaise lounge lied a midnight blue alicorn, adorned with regalia made of pure silver and topazes, her blue, starry mane flew around her like it was constantly caressed by the tender wind. The doors closed noiselessly behind him, and the Princess gave him just a glance. She was of course regal and spare with her movements, but he saw it – in her eyes there was just a tiny speckle of fright. Swash wasn't an idiot, and he began to put pieces of the puzzle together. And so he smiled villainously to himself.
He entered the center of the room and gave her Majesty the perfect court bow, still smiling madly. He didn't rose his head, waiting for the order to did so.
Luna was getting uncomfortable. He knew. She didn't know how, but he knew for sure – his creepy yet dashing smile was a confirmation. She gulped and decided to go for it.
"You may rise in my presence, Swash Knack."
And so he did, just to catch her giving the tinniest of nod that wasn't aimed at him. Learnt, no, burned into his very core reactions took over him. He heard the click of an armor behind and slightly left to him, so he jumped to the front with a clumsy yet effective somersault, in the meantime unsheathing his sword with magical grip. He cussed to himself when he saw two muscular forms of stoical Royal Guards going after him. They weren't armed with traditional weapons – as they were pegasi, they had no magic to use more sophisticated tools – but they were strong, and their wings could broke a bone, so the Royal Guards wore sharpened edges around their wings, acting like blades to cut down enemies in combat. So each of them practically carried two mighty blades, and Swash in a second was surrounded by a furious flurry of blows and slashes. He barely kept up to it with a single blade – Royal Guards were trained to a perfection, and he began to trot backwards from their assault.
Funny, how somepony must play a little trick to get out of situations like this. Swash closed his eyes for a fraction of a second and let out a bright flare from the tip of his horn, instantly blinding the guards. He seized the initiative and hit one of them with the bell of his sword – sound of cracking bone and broken teeth were his rewards for doing so. Second guardpony quickly dashed backwards to shake the effect. Swash couldn't allow that, he jumped over first of his fallen opponents to quickly engage the second in a swordfight. They were trained well, but in a duel he knew his skills and trusted them. A little too much, so it seemed, as the guard easily parried his strike and with a rapid plunge cut him quite deeply into the right cheek. Swash was furious now, but he didn't let it slip in a fight – he flew his blade ahead of the pegasus and stroke hard downwards, to force him to parry it with crossed blades of his wings. He promptly did so, opening himself for a mighty buck of Swash hind legs.
The entire fight lasted maybe half a minute. Probably less. Swash was sweating and breathing heavily for a moment, but he regained his composure, sheathed his blade and turned towards Princess Luna with a serious muzzle. She didn't move a muscle during the fight, and now had an entertained look on her royal snout. Shocked and entertained. He slowly began to work towards her and stopped next to a moaning Royal Guard, the one who received a generous blow in the jaw from his pommel. He looked down than he gazed directly into Luna's eyes – without taking his stare down, he kicked the laying stallion hard in the teeth, blood splattering all around the marble floor and dark cloths. He heard her gasp and he enjoyed her pained look.
"That… That wasn't necessary." She said with a trembling voice.
"That is true, My Highness. It wasn't."
Luna huffed and was set aback by this proclamation, and with a spark of anger awoke in her she snarled.
"I meant the kick! You won, why kicking him while he laid defeated!?"
"Well, for starters, I can't kick my employer in the muzzle. I quite often want to, but it simply didn't work that way. But what would stop me from doing so to someone that attacked me without a reason?" he asked, and rose his forehoof for another kick.
Luna instantly stood up and unfolded her wings to the full span, her horn began to glow and Swash felt a surge of extreme magical powers surrounding and changing Princess Luna's aura.
"Stop right now! LEAVE!" she said with a stern voice.
Swash still with a serious muzzle bowed down and trotted towards the big, black door. He opened them and turned his head back.
"Oh. And for the future, my Royal Highness, if you want to spy on somepony, hire a professional. I am at your service." He bowed again, and left the room with a loud bang of the doors. He waited outside for the roar of fury. It didn't came – all he heard after a minute from the chamber behind him was quiet sobbing. He hung his head low and sighed, trotting slowly towards his room, blood dripping from his wound on the cheek. He cleared the cut and saw himself together, cussing like hay and sweating even more from pain, and finally, when he laid his head on the pillow he thought about lessons learnt the hard way.