The Moon in the Dark

Long ago, the Monsters and Humans fought a great war. The Monsters lost, and were sealed in the Underground. It would take the power of seven human souls to break the barrier that kept them imprisoned. They only had six. And so the Monsters waited and hoped, praying that another human would find their way to the Underground. Some thought the seventh soul would give their King the strength to break the barrier. Some dreamed of a human who would be their friend, and save them all...or had nightmares of one who would bring back the war.
...but nobody came.
...but somepony did.
Eons after the war, with no way to tell how much time had passed above, a tiny blue filly with wings and horn fell into the underground, calling for her Mama. None knew the poor creature's nature or origins...but her soul was powerful with magic, even more so than a human soul.
None can know what will come...of this little 'Woona'.


27. Madness

Undyne eventually found the end of her tears, and rubbed her eye.  "Geeze," she muttered.  "I can't believe I broke down like that in front of you, pony.  Some Captain I am...don't tell anyone about this, okay pony?"  She furrowed her brow as she heard no response.  "Pony?"

Something stirred briefly against her chest.  Glancing down, she saw that the tiny filly had curled up in her embrace, tear tracks down her face, and was deep asleep.

"Huh," Undyne muttered.  "Didn't really expect that.  Can't really leave you alone, though, can I?  Some other monster's likely to come along and take your soul while you sleep..."

A wicked cackle echoed in the air.  On instinct, Undyne hurled a spear of magic at the source of the cackle, tracking it expertly.  She was rewarded with a shocked cry, followed by silence.

"Yup," Undyne grumbled.  "Definitely can't leave you unattended."  Sighing, she got to her feet.  "Well, my house is closest.  My armor's too heavy for me to make it to Alphys' place through Hotland."  She started to walk, only to trip slightly as her foot caught on Woona's saddlebags, set aside when Woona had prepared to accept death.  " some friends in there..."Setting the back strap over her shoulder, Undyne carried the bags along with Woona.

She made sure not to encounter anyone on her way back, not ready to face what any of them might say.  A wrong guess could easily be worse than a right one.  She didn't want to face anyone until she'd made her report to the King...even if it would likely be the last report she ever made as Captain of the Royal Guard.

Making it back to her home without interference, she carried Woona into her room, tucking her into the bed and setting the bags to the side.  With that done, she left the room - shedding her armor as she went, leaving herself in just her black workout clothes - and made her way back to the kitchen, picking up the phone.  "Here goes..." she murmured, dialing the number.

The phone rang a few times, but was eventually picked up.  "This is the palace," the King's deep, warm, friendly voice responded.  "How may I direct your call?"

Undyne did her best not to have her palm meet her face.  "Your Majesty-"

"One moment please," Asgore responded.

Undyne's resistance crumbled, and her hand smacked her face.  "Asgore..."

"Ah, Undyne!" Asgore greeted pleasantly.  "It's such a treat to hear from you.  Anything new in your life?  Or anyone?"

This time, her forehead met her kitchen counter.  "...Your Majesty, I'm afraid I'm calling because I have failed as Captain of the Royal Guard."

Asgore was silent for a time.  "Oh?" he asked finally, his voice still gentle, a curious tone added.  "How do you feel you have failed?"

"I...I was confronted with the one whose soul would set us free," Undyne explained.  "She...she lowered her guard, allowing me to take her soul to save everyone...and I could not do it.  I...could not betray my friends to save them."

Asgore let those words hang in the air for a few moments before speaking.  "And you see this as failure?" he calmly inquired.

"Isn't it?" Undyne demanded.  "I betrayed my duty!  I betrayed you!  When it came to the moment of decision, I chose my friends over my duty!"

"As Captain of the Guard, that is your duty," Asgore stated firmly.

Undyne froze, his words confusing her.  "What under Ebott are you talking about?" she demanded.  "Your Majesty," she added respectfully.

"Recite the Guardsman's oath," Asgore ordered.

"My oath is sworn, to obey my Captain, to protect my countrymen, for the glory of our Kingdom," Undyne responded automatically.

"Recite the Captain's Oath," Asgore demanded.

"My life and Soul are no longer my own," Undyne recited.  "They are for others.  My solemn vow, to serve and protect my people, my country, in the Name of the King."

"And you say you have failed in your duty," Asgore offered, a smile audible in his voice.

Undyne hesitated.  "I...I don't understand..."

"The order of who you serve in both oaths is an order of priority," Asgore explained.  "As a Guardsman, the orders of the Captain are paramount.  They are to obey their Captain before their King.  And the Captain is to put the well being of the people before the well being of the Kingdom, and before the King's orders."

"But...why?" Undyne asked, confused.

"We are a race of magic," Asgore explained.  "The magic we wield is driven by thought, and powered by emotions.  We may have lost to the humans, but they were never the greatest threat our race could face.  Do you know what that greatest danger is?"

Undyne shook her head.  "No, sir.  I don't.  What could have been more dangerous to our people than the humans?"

"A mad King."

Undyne blinked.  "I don't see-"

"By definition, the King is a Boss Monster," Asgore explained.  "Our soul is the strongest of all our people, and thus is our magic.  Imagine that magic shaped by insanity, and driven by deranged desires."

Undyne shivered at the very idea.  "I'd really rather not, sire."

"Few would," Asgore confirmed.  "That is why the last test to become Captain of the Royal Guard - the one you actually passed first - is to prove combat capabilities superior to the King's."

Undyne's jaw worked, struggling to make sense of what she was being told.  "You mean...when I knocked you down in combat training..."

"Exactly," Asgore replied.  "You were tapped to be Captain that day...because you showed you had the skill to take me down if needed, and the willingness to do so.  And I knew...if ever the Madness took would free me."

"But...but you're our hope, Your Majesty!" Undyne gasped out.  " can't go mad!"

"You are wrong," Asgore replied, his voice broken.  "The seed of Madness is already planted in my mind.  Don't you see?  They weren't just humans!"  Asgore's voice lost its discipline, becoming somewhat frenzied.  "They were her children!  They were my children!  And I killed them, with these hands!"  Hysterical sobbing broke into his speech.

"But it had to be done!" Undyne insisted.  "Not just for all monsters...but for them, too!  It was Mercy-"

"Death is death!" Asgore wailed.  "Whatever the justification, their blood is on my hands!  It will never wash out!  I see their gaze upon me as my weapon destroyed their flesh!  It haunts my nightmares and my waking world!  I took from them the choice to Spare me, to Spare them from a worse fate...but the pain of betrayal was the last living feeling they knew!"  Hysterical sobs broke into Asgore's voice.  "My children...gone by my hand...their blood...all I see is blood...make it stop!  Make it go away!  Undyne, help me!  Save me!  END IT!"

"Asgore!" Undyne screamed in terror, the phone nearly breaking in her hand, so tense had she become.  "Enough!  Calm down!  Breathe!"  Hearing the sound of the King hyperventilating, she ordered, "Paper bag!"

She could hear a bag rapidly inflating and deflating on the other end.  Eventually, she heard her King once more his normal self.  "Undyne...I'm...I'm sorry you had to witness that.  I...I have control of myself most of the time...but..."

"I understand, Your Majesty," Undyne replied, managing to keep her voice under control as she gripped her countertop.

Asgore took a few deep, calming breaths.  "I...I must be strong...for my subjects.  Un...until the barrier breaks...I cannot fall.  Thank you for your help, Captain."

"I am ever at your service," Undyne replied.

"...Citrine..." Asgore began.  "It's past her bedtime.  She never sleeps soundly unless I tuck her in with her favorite blanket and teddy bear.  And the others need a story as well..."

Undyne winced.  It had been so long that Asgore - and many others - had forgotten the names of the human children whose souls waited to break the barrier.  The only one who still remembered was Gerson, and he refused to see anyone these days.  Asgore had taken to referring to the souls by the names of gemstones that shared their color.  "Go see to them, Your Majesty," she offered.

"I shall," Asgore replied.  "Thank you for your service, Captain."

Nodding dumbly, Undyne hung up the phone.  As she let go, she pulled her hands back...staring in stunned shock at where her grip had warped her counter to match the contours of her hand.  She had long known that having to take the human souls had been difficult for the kindly monarch...but she'd never realized how it must have affected him, that they were his own children.  He worked so hard to seem kind and wise, gentle with his subjects...but the madness that he just barely held back...

"And we expect him to absorb the souls of seven of his children, dead by his own hands, to become a god..."  Undyne shook her head.  "A mad god...would he even want to save us at that point?"  She stared at her hands, the hands that had tried to take the souls of her King's children in the past.  "...we don't deserve to be saved.  That...that we'd do this to our own King..."

As she felt her hope begin to flag, she shook her head, steeling herself.  Maybe the surface would be forever beyond the reach of monsters.  Maybe it should be forever beyond their reach.  But so long as Woona was in their care, it was the duty of Monsters - of Undyne herself - to see to it that Woona made her way safely home, without knowing the true torment the race faced.

She knew what she would have to do come morning when the filly awoke.  It was time to make friends...Undyne Style!

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