Have I just wrote fanfiction based on a fanfiction? Yay! This is a slightly overdue xmas present for the super awesome AlphaTheGriffin17. Whom is the owner of Dusk and writes the amazing Dusk saga. If I'm trying to avoid revision his stories are the best way to do it.
Anyways! I hope it's not too terrible since most of it was written at 2am. Thank you for being wonderfully brilliant!
The snow fall was heavy on Ponyville, the day was reaching its end and a warm red glow had settled on the horizon. Hearth's Warming was a few days away and ponies were rushing through the market place, their saddle bags close to overflowing. Unicorn, Pegasus and earth pony alike were all full of festive spirit.
Shutter Bug happily trotted through the town, Hearth's Warming was always good for business and the only dream catchers left on her tail were her personal ones which were also accompanied with a few baubles. Reaching the town centre Shutter Bug stopped to admire the large tree that had been put up a few days ago, her green eyes grew wide as she marvelled at the decorations.
Glass baubles of all sizes hung delicately on the tree's branches along with ornaments' in all shapes; stars, snowflakes, prancing reindeer. Tinsel in an array of colours was wound around the great tree; glistening blue lights brought the whole thing together in a grand tree representing all things festive.
Shutter Bug practically jumped with fright, her right wing flapped as if she was trying to fly away and her ears flattened against her head. Looking around franticly the blue Pegasus came upon the speaker who was looking rather concerned at Shutter Bug's reaction. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you." The speaker was a simple earth pony, with a simple white coat and a messy green mane. Shutter Bug noticed that the pony had unusual blue eyes, although she couldn't pin point exactly what made them unusual. In fact the entire pony emitted a vibe of unusual.
Raising her ears slowly, Shutter Bug managed to stammer out a question, "W-w-were you talking t-t-t-to me?"
"Do you see anyone else around here?"
Looking around, Shutter Bug noticed that the white stallion was right. It was getting dark now and most ponies had gone home. She'd been staring at the tree longer than she thought. Shaking her head Shutter Bug began to eye the stallion with suspicion; however she kept her tone of voice calm and friendly. "I'm sorry, but I'm out of dream catchers available for sale."
"That's okay. As lovely as they are, I'm not buying. I'm not one for festivities. Although, you could do me a favour."
Suddenly the white stallion had a rope, "Could you fly up and tie this to the top of the tree?"
"Oh, I'm sorry." Shutter Bug looked at the floor, shuffling her hooves. "I can't fly."
The white pony was around the other side of the great tree, "Ah well, I'll just let the flames climb up the tree."
"What?" Shutter Bug saw a green glow before the Ponyville tree was set alight. The fire was everywhere before she could take action. Shutter Bug turned left to be greeted by hissing fire. She turned the other way, the fire snapped at her blue coat and smoke began to burn her eyes. Was this the doing of the white stallion?
Shutter Bug called out, "Hello? Sir, are you okay?" Her reply came in the form of fire and it slithered towards her, snapping its fiery maw around her left leg. Shutter Bug howled in pain, her sky blue coat glowed as embers began to burn through onto skin.
Shutter Bug galloped forward towards a gap in the flames; she could feel her tail burning as the green fire seemingly chased her. Her right wing flapped desperately and pointlessly, every instinct telling her to fly away as fast as possible. Her lungs were burning, gasping for oxygen as the smoke laden air began to choke her slowly. Shutter Bug's gallop started to slow, each hoof becoming heavy and each breath becoming agonising.
The green fire swept up unnaturally high, surrounding Shutter Bug and she stopped moving. The fire swallowed the sky.
A black figure galloped in the fire, laughing and watching with large glass blue eyes.
Shutter Bug snapped her eyes open, pupils wide, ears back, right wind preparing to fly. The first thing Shutter Bug knew was that she was screaming. The second thing Shutter Bug knew was that she was inside somepony's house. The third and final thing Shutter Bug knew was that she was in pain. She stood up and winced as pain ran up her right foreleg; her coat there was black although it had been covered in an orange paste. She lifted her hoof to inspect the strange substance and drew her head away, scrunching up her nose.
"Zecora did say it wouldn't smell very nice, but it seems to be working."
Shutter Bug spun around, avoiding shifting her weight to her damaged leg, her eyes meeting a dark blue Unicorn, with a mop of brown hair and emerald green eyes, who wore a trilby hat upon his head which had a sprig of holly pinned to it.
"Where am I? Did you set the tree on fire? I could've died!" Shutter Bug glared at the unicorn; she could feel tiredness begin to seep into her but was determined not to show it.
"The Ponyville tree?"
"Did you see any other tree set alight?"
"Actually, I didn't see any tree set alight. The Ponyville tree is perfectly intact, miss."
"Don't lie to me! I was there, it nearly killed me!"
The unicorn took a step forward, "Miss, there was no fire."
Shutter Bug stopped, realisation dawning upon her. "How did I get here, in this house?"
"I brought you here, with the help of my Zebra friend. She's responsible for the ointment on your leg."
Shutter Bug took another unsure sniff of the orange goo on the black patch of her coat. "Who are you?"
"Dusk Noir, miss." The unicorn held out a hoof, which Shutter Bug shook carefully.
"Name's Shutter Bug. Thank you for helping me, your kindness is appreciated." Shutter Bug went to leave, but found walking on her wobbly legs very difficult. Her legs gave out and she tumbled into Dusk, her messy mane falling in front of her eyes. "S-s-s-sorry."
Shutter Bug attempted to rise but found herself falling once more although this time Dusk was ready to catch her.
"You're still weak." Dusk said it with such concern and friendliness that Shutter Bug didn't feel the need to fight against the notion of being called weak. After all, she was weak and probably still needed some rest. Dusk glanced at her stump of feathers but made no move to question her about it.
"May I ask what happened to you, Miss Bug?" They began to walk together, Shutter Bug leaning on Dusk for balance, heading towards his sitting room.
"I have terrible dreams, sometimes. And when I do, I get 'souvenirs' of sorts."
"So, if you have a dream about fire?"
They reached the sitting room Shutter Bug lay down, relieved to have the weight off her burned leg. Her green eyes studied the space around her; it had simple furnishings and was obviously kept tidy and organised. Shutter Bug went to speak but found the words coming out as a yawn.
"You should get some sleep, Miss Bug."
"I've already intruded enough." Shutter Bug looked out the window; it was in the dead of night. She clamped her mouth shut as she felt another yawn trying to make its way out.
"Nonsense. We found you on the road to Ponyville. Do you, um, have anywhere to stay? I'm happy to house you till you get back on your hooves."
"I'm not homeless. I have a home. Well, a wagon. Home on wheels."
"I'll get to finding it tomorrow."
"It's awfully late, Miss Bug. You're injured and tired. Get some rest."
"But I" Shutter Bug's protest was cut off by Dusk giving her a hard look, which didn't look fitting for such a gentle stallion. "Thank you. I swear I shall be gone by morning."
"Hush now. Get some rest."
Shutter Bug slowly drifted off into sleep and she sighed contently when Dusk trotted over to cover her in a fluffy blanket before leaving her to her rest.
Shutter Bug lazily open her eyes, a ray of light drifted through a small window and the sound of a pony trotting about reached Shutter Bug's ears. She shook her mane out of her eyes, the gears of her mind gradually remembering the events of the previous night.
Shutter Bug got to her feet, taking pleasure in stretching her legs and letting out a gleeful sound when she felt no pain from her left leg. She swished her tail happily, the dream catchers twined within it clattering.
Dusk walked in, wondering what was making the clattering noise. "Ah, I see that you're awake."
"Dusk! My leg, it's better!" Shutter Bug rushed over to show Dusk her healed leg. The ointment had sunk into coat, although her brilliant blue fur was still burned black, the pain had gone and Shutter Bug could put nearly her whole weight on her leg without wincing.
Dusk smiled warmly, "That's good to hear. Even better news, I've found your house."
"Where was it?"
"Sweet Apple Acers, an apple orchard not far from Ponyville. It makes sense since you were found on the road between the two. If you don't mind me asking, why did you leave your wagon?"
Shutter Bug shuffled on the spot, "I'm hopeless at finding my way, which is ironic for a travelling pony. I thought if I went on ahead that I'd find the way to Ponyville. Then the snow began to fall, and I just lay down for a moment..."
"Then you fell asleep."
"Yes." Shutter Bug stopped talking for a moment, her nightmare still fresh in her mind. She could almost feel the heat and taste the smoke. She mentally shook herself, clearing her head. "I'll be on my way. I thank you once again for helping me."
"It's perfectly alright. I'm off out anyway, so I can walk you to your wagon."
Shutter Bug smiled and Dusk's good hospitality, making her way out and into Ponyville's busy streets. She still limped slightly but it was hardly noticeable and the happy mare hummed a melody as Dusk walked her towards her home away from home.
Walking through town Shutter Bug noticed how the streets were full of ponies who looked awfully worried. Reached the centre of town the crown intensified, all murmuring and shuffling nervously.
"I wonder what's going on." Dusk spoke quietly to himself, heading further into the crowd. Shutter Bug followed him, curious herself. Dusk emerged at the front of the crowd where Mayor Mare was trying her best to keep everyone calm. At the sight of Dusk she looked slightly relieved.
"Dusk, have you seen Twilight? We're in need of her assistance."
Dusk didn't seem to like the attention, "She's off in Canterlot. A treat from Rarity, a spa day I believe. All the girls have gone."
"Oh no. This is disastrous."
At this point curiosity had gotten the better of Shutter Bug and she stepped forward, "What's so disastrous?"
At this point Mayor Mare took a calming breath, "Everyone's Hearth Warming day presents have been... Stolen."
At this point the crowds murmurings became outcries mostly consisting of, "Who?", "Why?", "How?"
Dusk quickly recovered, hiding his worried expression. "Are you sure, Mayor?"
"Absolutely. It's the same story with everypony. They woke up to find everything gone. Not a single object left under their trees."
Shutter Bug was about to ask the mayor if she knew what time the incident happened when a flash of white and green caught her eye. A stallion was hovering at the very edge of the crowd, watching intently. His eyes were of a blue that reminded Shutter Bug of a pane of glass. He was circling slowly, simply watching the events unfold, without saying a single word to another pony.
Something about the silent stallion made Shutter Bug feel uneasy, while every other pony was nervously chattering he seemed oddly collected. She began to walk over, ears tipped forward. The stallion saw her approach; his green mane shuffled in front of his glass eyes, and he turned away from the crowd and galloped off down an empty street. Shutter Bug went to follow but making her way through the crowd was difficult for a small pony like her.
"Miss Bug, where are you going?"
Shutter Bug looked back to Dusk, "I was just..." she realised that she had lost sight of the white stallion and wondered if he had ever been there at all. "Never mind. It seems like you've got your hooves full here."
Dusk smiled apologetically, "It's a very strange incident indeed."
"Terrible timing. Hearth's Warming day is tomorrow."
"I know, Twilight won't be able to get back until late, she's the only pony who can solve this."
"Wait, that means that you're the Dusk Noir! The seventh element of harmony."
"Um, well yes but it isn't such a big deal..."
"I'm so sorry. Oh, gosh I've intruded upon your home and become a hassle to you." Shutter Bug mentally cured herself. This was an element of harmony and she had wasted his time by becoming lost.
"Miss Bug, it's perfectly alright."
"No, no, no! I'm awfully sorry. I'll be going. I'm sure that you'll figure this out." Shutter Bug ran off, Dusk attempted to follow but the crowd of worried ponies surrounded him asking questions and all exclaiming that Hearth's Warming day was over.
Shutter Bug ran until she was sure she was alone. She stopped taking in gulps of air, her breath swirled like fog in the cold and she shivered. "I should've brought a scarf." Shutter Bug looked around, realising that she didn't recognise anything around her. "And a map."
Shutter Bug guessed that she was just outside of Ponyville although her guess wasn't the most reliable. The sun had begun to set and the first stars were beginning to become visible. Shutter Bug began to walk, hoping to come across someone who could point her the way back to Ponyville. It gave her time to think, she had made such a fool of herself, in front of an element of harmony nonetheless. Shutter Bug summarised that Dusk thought she was an idiot, she stomped her hooves as she walked getting angrier by the minute.
It was because of her angry stomping that Shutter Bug didn't see the hole before she was stuck down it. She landed with a thump and once she had recovered, checking all of her dream catchers were intact, began to call out, "Is anypony there?" no reply followed.
"Well done, Shutter Bug. Gold star for you." Shutter Bug shook her coat free of dirt, seeing that the hole was infract a convergence point in an array of tunnels. A a source of light being emitted from further along one of the tunnels.
Shutter Bug crept closer, "Hello?" her dream catchers rattled as she walked. It wasn't so cold in the tunnel and Shutter Bug was sure she could feel it getting gradually warmer. Her hears perked up as she began to hear mumblings.
"They'll all pay. Ponies shall pay."
"Hello?" Shutter Bug closed her eyes as a flash of green illuminated the tunnel.
"Hello there." A white stallion smiled at her, his green mane messy and his left ear seemed to have a bite out of it.
"Who are you?" Shutter Bug tried to continue through the tunnel but the stallion simply smiled and prevented Shutter Bug from moving forward.
"Just a pony. How did you get here?" Shutter Bug had chills running through her spine; this pony wasn't 'just a pony'.
"I fell in. You might want to fill that hole up or something."
"Noted. Now, if you please. I'm busy."
"It's a private business."
Shutter Bug managed to weasel her way past the stallion, her eyes growing wide when she discovered why he had be trying to keep her out. Every single present in Ponyville was stacked in a neat pile, towering high of the ground almost reaching the ceiling of the tunnel. They were all beautifully wrapped adorned with ribbon and bows and each one represented love and friendship.
Shutter Bug span around to face the white stallion, anger burning through her and when she spoke her voice surprised even her. "These don't belong to you."
"Hearth's warming day is cancelled. Ponies will pay."
"You can't steal gifts and force ponies to buy them back. That's horrible!"
A flash of green caused Shutter Bug to cover her eyes; once they were opened the white stallion had been replaced by a grotesque creature. It's body was completely black, and it had two large insect like glass blue eyes. It's legs were riddled with holes along with the creature's ears and a spike grew from its head. From its mouth protruded two long brilliant white fangs and from its sides two small insect wings buzzed.
It took all of Shutter Bug's will not to scream and run. She stood her ground trying her best to stop her legs from trembling.
The creature stepped towards her. "They will not pay with bits."
Shutter Bug would've asked what the ponies were supposed to pay with but the look the creature gave her told her all she needed to know. Shutter Bug gulped, "S-s-stay back." She needed to tell someone about this, anyone.
Shutter Bug took a deep breath; she closed her eyes and charged forward pushing past the insect pony. She ran and ran taking lefts and rights through the mass network of tunnels and praying she emerged somewhere safe. Shutter Bug could hear the sound of hooves following her and as her hoofbeats increased in tempo so did the beating of her heart.
Light appeared at the end of the tunnel and Shutter Bug thanked Celestia that her injured leg hadn't slowed her down.
The terrified mare resurfaced next to the Ponyville clock tower, snow was coming down heavily the flakes the size of horseshoes. The last rays of sunlight were beginning to fade and the stars were becoming more visible. Green flashed behind her and Shutter Bug knew the monster was close.
"Dusk! Has anypony seen Dusk?" Shutter Bug glanced behind her the monster was once more a white stallion. This time she did scream, her legs were starting to ache and her lungs were beginning to burn. "Dusk!"
Shutter Bug reached the town square, eyes darting from pony to pony hoping to see Dusk's familiar face. She would've sighed in relief upon seeing Dusk near the Ponyville tree if she had any breath to spare. Shutter Bug galloped the last few feet nearly collapsing when she reached Dusk. "Dusk! Monster. Bug Pony. Presents. Tunnel."
"Miss Bug, catch your breath. What is it?"
The white stallion caught up grinning menacingly. Shutter Bug stood forward on wobbly legs, Dusk at her side. "Don't come... Any closer" Shutter Bug was still gasping for air. "That's not a pony, Dusk. It can change."
Dusk studied the non-pony, "Left behind by the swarm?".
Green fire surrounded the pony, revealing the true creature that it was. Unknown to Dusk and Shutter Bug the fire had managed to creep its way to the Ponyville tree, small embers beginning to set the tree alight. At the sight of the changeling every other pony ran inside, hiding from the monster's eyes.
"You've seen these before." Shutter Bug spoke it as a question but the pained expression on Dusk's face was answer enough.
"Where were you during the Changeling invasion, Miss Bug?"
"I was in the north, travelling. I've only heard stories and seen the damage from the battles. That, thing, is a Changeling?"
The creature spoke, "You shall pay most, Unicorn. All ponies will pay but you will pay most. Hearth's Warming day is no more!"
The changeling sprung forward, fangs bared; Shutter Bug ducked and covered her eyes while Dusk jumped to the side causing the changeling to crash head first into the Ponyville tree. With the help of that nudge the small embers landed onto dry pine needles and began to burn wildly. Soon the tree was consumed by green fire.
The changeling quickly recovered and noticed Dusk, who had misjudged his jump and fallen off his hooves. The creature crept up as Dusk shook his head and began to recover. Shutter Bug opened her eyes and saw the Changeling preparing to sink it's teeth into Dusk, she leapt to her feet and did the only thing she could think of. Charging forward the small Pegasus head butted the monster in its flank.
The changeling hissed, turning its attention to its attacker, Shutter Bug began to back away keeping eye contact and too afraid to look away. The changeling half hissed, half growled and opened its mouth wide ready for attack. With a crack the great burning tree fell landing on top of the insect pony, it shrieked under the weight of the tree and its shrieks turned to painful whimpers as the changeling was consumed by its own out of control fire.
The fire spread burning on cobble stone and devouring the Ponyville tree. Shutter Bug stood still paralysed by fear, her long tail was wrapped around her and her ears were pressed down against her head. A the fire spread Shutter Bug's fear grew and she closed her eyes refusing to look as her nightmare became reality.
"Shutter Bug! Shutter Bug! Can you hear me?"
Shutter Bug opened an eye and lifted an ear, "Dusk?"
"Yes, thank Luna, you're okay. Keep talking, I'll find you."
Smoke was quickly replacing air and causing Shutter Bug's eyes to burn, she coughed. "Marco."
Dusk replied, "Polo."
With a burst of magic Dusk stepped through a gap in the flames, holding out a hoof. "Come on, it's okay."
Shutter Bug wobbled forward taking Dusk's hoof and stepping away from the fire. Practically seconds later a group of mares came charging forward. At the head of the group was a purple Unicorn whom seemed very happy to see Dusk Noir.
"Dusk! What's happening?"
"It's not as bad as it looks, Twilight. Everything's fine."
"Rainbow Dash can you put out this fire?"
A rainbow Pegasus shot up into the air flying around the fire in eccentric circles creating what could be best described as a rainbow tornado. The fire died out and the half burnt body of the changeling still remained under the once great tree.
Twlight gasped, "A changeling."
Dusk simply nodded. Twlight placed a gentle kiss of Dusk's cheek. "We'll take care of the rest."
"Everypony's presents were taken."
A pink mare with a wild mane jumped up, "We found them! I can sniff out presents easy peasy."
Dusk chuckles, "Of course you can, Pinkie."
Shutter Bug smiled to herself and slowly began to wander away trying her best to reduce the amount of noise her clattering dream catchers made.
"Miss Bug, may I walk you to your home?" Dusk smiled, his dark blue coat was slightly singed but apart from that he was fine.
"I'm sure I can find it by myself." Dusk didn't seem to be taking no for an answer and gave Shutter Bug a hard look. "But some company would be nice."
As Shutter Bug and Dusk walked the first rays of sunlight began to grow on the horizon. It was officially Hearth's Warming day. They arrived and Shutter Bug's wagon, she made a happy noise and practically hugged the centuries old Vardo. Shutter Bug darted inside and came out with a scarf, which she promptly wrapped around her, and a dream catcher. The dream catcher was rather small, a blue gem lay in the middle and phoenix feathers hung down from it.
"For my rescuer."
Dusk looked taken aback and quickly apologized that he had nothing to give to her in return. Shutter Bug laughed at his panicking and pulled him into a hug.
Shutter Bug effortlessly got into her harness ready to set off.
"I think some time with my family is overdue."
Dusk nodded, "Of course."
"Don't look so sad about it. I'm pretty sure I'll be back in Ponyville before you know it. Now go spend some time with your friends, it's Hearth's Warming day after all!"
"Goodbye, Miss Bug."
Shutter Bug headed off humming a happy tune and Dusk headed towards his friends his new dream catcher clattering loudly.