Twilight took a deep breath as the chariot slowly descended into Manehattan.The two pegasi flying the chariot, Twilight noticed, appeared to be new. Their flight pattern was a tad clumsy, and their helmets were ever so slightly crooked. However, she probably only noticed those small differences because she had been flying in chariots all her life. It had been about a three hour flight, and Twilight was already beginning to feel sleepy, though her anxiety prevented her from resting in the plush seats of her borrowed vehicle. She just kept staring at the sunset, trying to mentally will it to move, but it stayed stuck in the sky like gum in the middle of summer.
I’m the Element of Magic, aren’t I? Twilight thought, brimming with frustration. I used to move the sun before the Dark Times. Why can’t I do that now?
Not only was she frustrated, she was nervous. Anything could have happened to Celestia since the battle... It must have been something awful, though, because the sun... She shook her head. I’ll just ask her what happened. I’ve known her for months now. I can talk to her.
She sighed and rested her chin on the rim of the chariot. The towering city of Manehattan, the second-largest in Equestria next to Fillydelphia, sprawled out beneath her. Unlike Fillydelphia, which consisted mainly of boomtown-style apartment complexes and hastily thrown-together office buildings and factories, Manehattan was much more refined, sporting fifty-floor skyscrapers and gleaming, neatly paved roads.
There didn’t seem to be nearly as much restlessness as there was in Fillydelphia, either; no buildings were in the process of reconstruction or reparation, and as the chariot lazily circled above its landing strip while waiting for it to be clear of pedestrians, Twilight saw that many of the ponies down below were pleasantly chatting with each other, in no hurry to get to their destinations, if they even had one. Some colts were playing kickball in the street, and even the businessmares seemed to be in no hurry to attend to their corporate errands.
And it made Twilight homesick.
Swallowing the melancholy lump forming in her throat, Twilight turned her focus to the saddlebags that Luna had placed in the chariot for her. She had already looked inside them, twice, in fact, but she decided that checking inventory thrice over would be better than letting her wistfulness hold a coup on what little emotional control she had left.
The saddlebags were a light purple, with Twilight’s cutie mark emblazoned on each of the two connected bags. Inside them was a map of Manehattan, some money, the letter Luna had given her, her crown, and a timepiece, since nopony could effectively tell the time by the position of the sun anymore. Twilight checked the positions of the little hoof and the big hoof and saw that it was about four thirty. Half an hour until I’m supposed to meet her.
“Feelin’ nervous, Ms. Sparkle?” the younger of the pegasus pair asked. He was one of Luna’s Royal Regiment; he was a dark gray in color, and his armor had blue and purple color scheme. His pelt and mane had probably been magically altered to match the uniform, which Twilight noticed had changed since she last saw it. The pendant at the center of their chestplate didn’t resemble a dragon’s eye anymore, replaced by Luna’s insignia, and their eyes, which used to have been magically enchanted to look like a dragon’s, had been left to their natural state. The most notable change, however, was that instead of the traditional bat-like wing transmutations that set Luna’s pegasi apart from from others before the war, these two guards were flying with normal, unenchanted, feathery pegasi wings.
Luna must be under a lot of pressure by public opinion, Twilight observed. I think she designed the uniform herself, way back when she started ruling with Celestia. It looked nice, too; it’s a shame she had to give it up. “Yes, a little,” she mumbled.
“Well, if you don’t mind me sayin’ so, Miss, you don’t have anythin’ to worry about,” the guard continued. He had a slight Appleoosan accent. “We were the ones that escorted Celestia here, right, Raj?”
The older one nodded, glancing at Twilight nervously. “Yes, this morning.”
“And did she look upset, or anythin’?” the younger one continued.
Raj shook his head. “No, not at all.”
“I’d even venture to say that she looked... better than ever!” the younger one exclaimed after a short pause. He laughed nervously, scratching the back of his neck. “Ms. Twilight, I think that you’ll have a pleasant conversation with our Princess. But worryin’ your little head off ‘bout it ain’t gonna do you much good. You’ll have a lot more to worry about in a few days, be-lieeeve me. But for now, I’d not overthink things. Raj does that sometimes, and it gets him into a lot of trouble, ain’t that right, Raj?”
Raj looked uncomfortable. “Entour, is this really-”
“Now, now, don’t make a fuss,” the younger one, Entour, said. “You see, back home, Raj always used to do these complex math problems and such. But one day, he found a problem so complex and tricky that he stayed up all night tryin’ to get it one-hundred percent. He said, ‘I’ll do this problem even if it sends me to my grave!’ Real loud ‘bout it, too. Neither Ma nor Pa could do anythin’ to help him with it, and I was tryin’ to get to sleep, ‘cause we had a big test the next day.”
“Did he solve the problem?” Twilight asked, leaning forward in the chariot.
Entour laughed. “I’m gettin’ to that. He finished the problem, all right, and he did it one-hundred percent like he promised, but it took him until way past his bedtime to do it. He got somethin’ along the lines of one, maybe two hours of sleep. I mentioned we had a test the next day, didn’t I? The problem he took the en-tire night to solve was just the homework, maybe worth five, ten points. But he flunked the test, real bad, too. He jus’ couldn’t stay awake for it!” Entour chuckled, nudging his older sibling as they began their final descent.
“What happened?” Twilight asked. “I mean, was the test really important?”
“‘Bout ten times more important than the homework was. Now, it wasn’t all that serious, and he still got an A in the class and all, but that’s not my point. My point is, if you focus on the little things, sometimes your own stubborn determination can end up being your downfall, you see? Sometimes you just gotta let it go and look at the big picture. Sure, the little things are important, but the bigger things are more important. You understand what I’m sayin’?”
Twilight nodded just before the chariot landed, sending a startling jolt through the passenger car. They were at the entrance to the Sunlit Dew, where she was supposed to meet Celestia.
“Whoops! Sorry,” Entour apologised. “So wrapped up in the story, I didn’t see where I was landin’. Durn attention span. Sorry, Miss.”
Twilight smoothed down her mane. “Oh, don’t worry about me. And thank you very much for the advice.”
Entour made a motion as if he were going to tip his hat, but almost took off his helmet, instead. “Ack, helmets. Still gettin’ used to workin’ here. Anyway, Miss, s’my job to worry ‘bout you. That’s what they pay me for, anyway. But you look like you have your head on straight,” he added with a wink.
Twilight laughed as she stepped out of the chariot. “Sometimes I wonder.”
Entour chuckled. “We all do, time and again. And you’re welcome for the advice. Just put it to good use. I’d hate to see you gettin’ yourself chewed up by Equestrians just ‘cause of your nerves. And have a good chat with the Princess, by the way, Ms. Sparkle. Chances are there’ll be a different set of guards to take you back home afterward.”
“I’ll be sure to put in a good word for you both. Thank you, Entour, Raj,” Twilight said. She bid them farewell before taking a deep breath and trotting into the Sunlit Dew.
It was one of the smaller shops in Manehattan, even though it was in the middle of the city. The floor was a paved amber that glittered in the sunlight. There were about ten set tables placed around the café, with couches along the walls. A couple baristas, a mare and a stallion, tended to the containers and machines behind the counter. There were a couple customers already in the shop, but neither of them gave Twilight a second glance, something she was grateful for. I’ve been gawked at enough already.
She walked up to the counter, and the stallion asked, “How can I help ya, Ms. Sparkle?”
Twilight glanced at the menu. “Oh, just a hot chocolate for right now. Raspberry flavored, if you have it. But how do you know my name?”
The stallion, a unicorn, chuckled. He had a coffee-colored pelt and a pepper-colored mane, and his cutie mark was a steaming mug of joe. “You could say I’m in the know. Yer the Element of Magic, Miss; everypony knows ya by name, an’ those of us who read the paper can recognize ya on sight. O’course, those of us who moved to Manehattan recently are a lil’ more passive ‘bout the whole ‘Discord’ issue an’ all that. A few friends a mine’d probably like yer autograph, come to think of it,” he added, smiling. He glanced back at the other barista to make sure she was making Twilight’s hot chocolate. “That’ll be five bits, Miss.”
Twilight gave him the coins and waited for her chocolate to be ready. “Slow day today, huh?” she asked.
“Well, we get most of our clientele durin’ the early mornin’. The danged sun ain’t helpin’ with that, but what can ya do.” He shrugged. “Name’s Latte, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you,” Twilight said.
“So why’re ya here, anyways?” Latte asked.
“Oh, um, I’m meeting a friend,” Twilight said quickly.
Latte nodded. “Well, we close our doors at five thirty, so they’d better hurry up.” Twilight’s hot chocolate was done, so he levitated it over to the counter. “So where’re ya sittin’, Miss?”
“By the couch is fine,” Twilight said, biting the inside of her mouth to hide a grimace. Luna’s training can’t come soon enough...
Latte set Twilight’s steaming beverage on an end table by the couches. “Let me know if ya need anythin’ else.”
Twilight thanked him and sat down next to her glass. He added a straw and everything, she observed, counting eight marshmallows floating in the fragrant mixture. She tried to sip it, but it was still too hot, so while she was waiting, she awkwardly got out her timepiece and set it on the couch. It was just after five now. She’ll be here any moment.
The minutes ticked by. Twilight’s glass slowly depleted as she daydreamed about Discord, Harmony, the Elements, the Princesses, Verba, Guilt, and essentially everything else that came to mind. Fifteen minutes passed, and when Celestia still hadn’t shown up, Twilight became worried. The other two customers had left, and Latte had departed deeper into the store, probably to check inventory or to file some paperwork, leaving just Twilight and the other barista left in the Sunlit Dew.
After wiping down the counter, the other barista went over to clean the tables. She was a pale white pegasus with a light-pink, braided mane that hung down on one side of her head. She was a little younger than Twilight was, and probably still in school. She completed her tasks with a quiet determination, and when Twilight glanced at her, she saw that the barista had a silver tattoo next to her left eye. It seemed to spread from the corner of her eye outward toward her ear, and was a glossy, swirling pattern, like a gust of wind.
“So...” the barista began. “What’s up?”
“Oh! Nothing, really,” Twilight said. Blushing, she added, “Sorry if I was staring.”
“Nah, I get it a lot. You get used to it after a while,” she said, continuing to wipe down the table. Her cutie mark was of a glimmering rainbow pattern of light, but Twilight couldn’t place from where. It wasn’t any ordinary rainbow, that was for sure.
“Excuse me, but... I’ve never seen a cutie mark quite like yours before,” Twilight ventured.
“Heh. Not many ponies have. You have to go way up north to see anything like it. But when you do...” she sighed, gazing longingly at the ceiling. “It’s like nothing you’ll ever see again.”
“What is it?” Twilight asked eagerly.
“It’s called the Aurora Borealis. Where I got my name. It’s Aurora, by the way. And you’re Twilight,” she said.
Twilight nodded. She sounds... I’m not sure. She sounds something, I just can’t place what. Familiar? No... But it’s not like she sounds all that strange, either, she thought, taking another sip from her glass. It was about half empty now. “So where are you from, exactly?”
“Like I said, way up north,” Aurora said. “S’where I was born, s’where I got my cutie mark, and s’where I found my only coltfriend.”
Twilight considered asking who Aurora’s coltfriend was, but she decided not to. That’d be a little too probing. “How’d you end up working here?”
“Well... I don’t really work here. S’only part time,” Aurora said.
“And is the rest for school?” Twilight asked. Something’s odd about her, but I can’t place what...
Aurora burst out laughing. “Wow, I didn’t know I looked that young! Thanks for making my day.”
Twilight turned a slight shade of red. “Well, then how old are you?”
“Never ask a mare her weight or her age,” Aurora cautioned, grinning at Twilight. “Let’s just say I know some good stylists.”
Twilight took another sip of her lukewarm chocolate, slightly miffed. “So how did you get to Manehattan?”
“I flew,” Aurora said simply. She had finished wiping the tables, and was trotting back behind the counter to grab her saddlebags. “Latte is a friend of mine. I started visiting him here about seven or so months ago, and I help him out when I have the time.”
“So you work here just for fun?” Twilight asked.
“Something like that,” Aurora said, reaching into her saddlebags. She turned and faced opposite of Twilight.“Hey, I need your opinion on something.”
“Sure,” Twilight said.
Aurora tried to hide what she was putting on, but Twilight caught a glimpse of the ruby chain she was placing around her neck. When she turned around, she was wearing a solid, shining red ruby necklace with a lightning-shaped pendant at the center. “How do I look?”
Twilight later regretted taking a sip of her drink right as Aurora turned around.
It felt as if her mind blew a gasket, and as her body tried to shriek and gasp at the same time, her chocolatey beverage took a detour right out her nostrils. She sputtered and coughed, trying to clean herself up while Aurora was doubled over laughing in the background.
But it all made sense. The reason the sun wasn’t moving was because Aurora wasn’t an alicorn. The reason her voice sounded off was because it was almost exactly the same as Dash’s. The reason Aurora was used to being gawked at, the reason she looked so young, the reason she didn’t have to work at the Sunlit Dew...
Celestia wasn’t late; she had been there the whole time.
“The look on your face!” Aurora exclaimed, howling with laughter.
But Twilight wasn’t amused. After she had recovered, she asked, fuming, “Why would you do that?!”
Aurora wiped a tear from her eye, still laughing slightly. “Why not? Twilight, after all that’s happened, I think you deserve something to brighten your day. And you have to admit, that was at least a little funny.”
“No, it wasn’t,” Twilight hissed through gritted teeth. “Celestia, the last thing I need right now is a surprise.”
“Twilight, call me Aurora. That’s my real name,” Aurora said. She looked a little letdown that her prank hadn’t been received well, but she added carefully, “And calm down a little. I’m going to explain everything, but one step at a time.”
“The hay you will!” Twilight seethed. She stood up and pointed at the window. “Look at that! The sun is frozen! Not only that, but ponies are at each others throats over Discord, and since I doubt any of them will believe you’re the Princess, Luna’s been working herself into the ground! Don’t you even care?! You should be doing something, not working part-time as a barista!” Twilight swatted her hoof to the side, and a whole row of tables glowed faintly. It was the most magic she had done since the battle, and if she were at full strength, the entire restaurant would have been turned upside-down.
Aurora waited patiently for Twilight to finish, though she was clearly hurt by the rant. “I know all of that, Twilight. But I can’t do anything. Drammatica has convinced her followers that I’m dead, and that any of my signatures, no matter how authentic, are to be considered forgeries. Luna’s tried conjuring an illusion of me to prove them otherwise, but her magic is too strained at the moment to complete the spell. Twilight, I didn’t ask to be put in this situation.”
“Then how did you get here?” Twilight asked, restraining her anger.
“Hate split open my body... and I guess a second one was inside,” Aurora said after a brief pause. “Deception must have encased my real body, the one you’re seeing right now, with an alicorn-shaped shell and used the fragment of Magic to fuel my immortality. Hate broke it, though, with his last strength, and then everything went black. I woke up when Luna found us, but she was the only one who believed me when I said I was Celestia. She’s the only pony alive who knew me when I was in this form.”
Twilight had calmed down slightly. “Okay. Fine. I can believe that. But there’s something that’s bothering me: Why are you happy about this?”
“What do you mean?” Aurora asked.
“Why do you think that you changing back into a pegasus is a good thing?” Twilight demanded, once again motioning at the sun. “Equestria can’t stay like this forever!”
“I know, Twilight, and this is going to sound selfish, but, well...” Aurora brushed her mane back behind her ear. “Twilight, I’m finally me again.”
“Huh?” Twilight asked.
“When Deception made me an alicorn, she placed this inside me,” Aurora said, reaching into her saddlebags. She pulled out a glistening red, yellow, and orange fragment shaped like a bent teardrop. It was about the side of Twilight’s timepiece, and bright, fiery energy swirled within it. “This is a fragment of you. The Element of Magic. Luna found it halfway across the battlefield, next to Fluttershy.”
Twilight reached for the fragment. It was warm to the touch, and all of her anger was replaced with awe. “So... All this time...”
“Well, did you think I was lying when I told you about the fragments?” Aurora inquired with a grin.
“No, but... I thought that they were just used to make you two. I didn’t know that I was fighting at partial strength all this time,” Twilight explained. “Can this... Can it make my horn grow back?”
Aurora smiled. “Better. It’ll double your magical ability. But that’s only once we get it inside you. That’d be a pretty big pill to take.”
“How do you plan to do that?” Twilight asked.
“I was hoping Guilt would know something,” Aurora said.
“You heard about him?” Twilight asked.
Aurora arched an eyebrow. “Twilight, just because I’m not an alicorn anymore doesn’t mean I’m not a Princess. I know everything Luna does.”
“Okay.” Twilight sighed, suddenly weary. “This has really been a crazy couple of days,” she said, resting against the arm of the couch.
“For all of us, Twilight. You’re not alone,” Aurora said. “Imagine how I felt when I woke up as an ordinary pegasus.”
“I thought you said it was an improvement,” Twilight said.
“Well, yeah... but I kind of liked being tall,” Aurora said sheepishly. “Now not only do I have stubby legs, but I have tiny wings, too. I fell down the stairs about five times the day I woke up, and I’m still having a little trouble with flying. But I’m working on it.”
Twilight nodded. “So, Aurora...” The name came out a little awkwardly. “...In what way do you feel like, um, ‘you’ again?”
Aurora paused. “Well... Let me explain it this way: Take you and Dash, for instance. What are all of her best qualities?”
“She’s loyal, obviously,” Twilight began. “She knows how to take a joke. She’s strong, and she’s able to make the snap decisions I’m never able to. She’s instinctively good at fighting... and, overall, I think her heart is in the right place in any situation.” Her throat tightened upon remembering Dash’s wound, but she let it pass.
“Take all of those, and combine them with you,” Aurora said.
Twilight grimaced. “I see what you mean. So your personality itself was in conflict?”
“A lot, at first. I was numb to emotion for days at a time for the first few years, only to have my stockpiled feelings blow up in somepony’s face a little later, usually Luna’s. She didn’t have as much of a hard time with it as I did, but I didn’t do much to help her out. Over time, I guess the edges smoothed, but you still saw how, um... weird I could be,” Aurora elaborated.
“So... this fragment you have will make me more... spontaneous?” Twilight asked nervously.
“Well, it will make you more you, so anything that’s already there will be expressed more. Since this is the more passionate side of Magic, your mood will swing a little bit more, and your emotions will be heightened to a degree. But since this is a fragment of Magic, and not, say, Generosity, you won’t feel much different at all once you adjust to the new power,” Aurora explained. “Of course, what I’m saying doesn’t mean anything if we can’t get this inside of you. Luna tried absorbing it herself, just as a test, but it’s not like it’s rock candy or anything, and she’s too afraid that if she breaks it, it’ll be lost forever.”
Twilight exhaled, her earlier rage having fully departed her. “I’m sorry for getting so angry earlier.”
Aurora didn’t say anything for a few moments, as if she were carefully contemplating her response. “...I think... Twilight, let me test something. I might know why you’ve felt off the past few days.”
“I don’t feel off,” Twilight said.
Aurora bit her lip. “Just trust me. I need you to answer a few questions.” She paused. “What’s your brother’s name?”
“Shining Armor,” Twilight said.
“Okay, what’s his position in the Equestrian Government?” Aurora asked.
“...Captain...” Twilight thought hard. “...Captain of the Royal Guard.” Why couldn’t I remember something so simple?
Aurora nodded. “Yes. Who is his wife?”
“He got married?” Twilight asked, her jaw wide.
Aurora nodded. “Yes, just after Envy and Arrogance were defeated. He sent you a letter about it, and records show that it was successfully delivered.”
“Obviously not,” Twilight grumbled. “Who did he marry?”
“Princess Cadance. My niece,” Aurora said. She glanced at herself. “This... will be a little hard to explain.”
Twilight laughed. “Okay. I’m going to have to give him a hard time for not making sure I knew.”
Aurora sighed. “The problem is, Twilight... you did.” She pulled a paper out of her saddlebags and showed it to Twilight. It was a congratulatory letter. “It’s your hoofwriting.”
Twilight sank further into the couch, her shock heightening as she read the letter. Tears welled up in her eyes, and she wiped them away. “Why can’t I remember something that’s so important?”
Aurora clearly didn’t want to continue, but she did anyway. “Twilight, do you know who Princess Cadance is? Other than my niece?”
“N-No...” Twilight was trembling now, but not out of fear, shock, or sorrow. Something was rising from within her, chilling her to the bone. Memories long lost began to resurface, but just for a moment before diving back down to the depths of her consciousness. Something inside her was waking up.
Aurora pulled another document from her saddlebags. It was a crude drawing of Twilight and a pink alicorn that she didn’t recognize.
“She was your foalsitter,” Aurora said softly. She saw that Twilight’s eyes had glazed over, and she asked again, louder, “Twilight? Twilight!”
Aurora shook her, and saw that Twilight wasn’t responding. She’s gone into some kind of trance! She hastily called for Latte, who rushed outside to warn the guards.
The shadows in the café seemed to lengthen and twist. The fur on the back of Aurora’s neck prickled, something it had only done once before. She felt a mix of terrible fear and overpowering nausea as she realized what she was up against.
“I n t h e f u t u r e... I w o u l d r e c o m m e n d w e a l l m i n d o u r o w n e x p e-
r i m e n t s.”
The ghostly voice flew through the room as a bundle of shadows assembled in the ever-darkening shop. The guards from outside pounded on the doors, but they were sealed with an unbreakable spell.
“I should have expected something so low, Indicina,” Aurora growled. “Why don’t you just leave us all alone? We have enough on our hooves already with the Elements of Discord.”
The shadows cackled, something like ten or twenty voices all chattering in glee. But Aurora received no answer. The dark energy moved chaotically, but it all seemed to want to touch Twilight, even fighting amongst itself to get near her. Her breathing slowed, and her eyes became bloodshot.
Aurora took an effort to remain calm. I... I can’t do much here, not in an enclosed space. Oh, Luna, please hurry!
All Twilight could feel for what seemed like several minutes was a searing pain. Agony slowly crawled up her legs and up her body like a horde of tiny claws, erupting from her mouth with a final gasp of terror and shock. It ended with her soul being cleaved from her body.
She was still inside the Sunlit Dew, but it wasn’t the Sunlit Dew; all of the light had become shadow, and vice versa, leaving behind a twisted, almost photo-negative version of reality. Twilight stepped away from her now limp frame, watching as the pale white shadows writhed around her and Aurora.
A shiver ran up her spine, and she turned around, only to see the world vanish and be replaced with a new one. The corrupted Sunlit Dew disappeared, and was replaced with the wreckage of Ponyville Hate had created. Nopony was there, however, save one, sitting daintily upon a throne of white, translucent lotus flowers. Indicina.
“What do you want from me?” Twilight asked. She stumbled; everything seemed to be happening in fast-forward, and she could barely think without having her thoughts stolen away as soon as they appeared. She was unable to control her frantic twitching, and her limbs seemed to jitter with a mind of their own. Wherever she was, it wasn’t good for her body.
Indicina looked up, laughing. “What a strange question to ask, Magic. Let me articulate my response.” She pointed at Twilight, who wailed as her heart felt as if it were ripped in half. The room shifted, becoming Verba’s dream dimension, but Indicina and her throne of petals remained constant.
“Who... Who are you?!” Twilight asked, falling to her knees. Everything was happening too fast. Memories surfaced only to be destroyed or stolen as soon as she caught a glimpse of them. The only idea she could grasp for more than a moment was one of a rust-colored mane, but even that was blasted away by the torrent of memories rocketing through her mind. She bent down, heaving, as she felt tidal wave after tidal wave smash against her temples.
“My existence is of no importance,” Indicina mumbled, plucking a flower from her throne and sniffing it. “I am simply your dream. A figment that will drift away once you destroy me, as will all the others.”
Twilight coughed. Magenta liquid dripped from her mouth and nose. Her insides were on fire.
“I suppose you could compare me to that little friend of yours who was so kind as to interrupt us earlier,” Indicina muttered angrily. “The one who broke the sacred gateway and entered your dreams. He prevented us from learning the truth, and we were so close, Twilight. It’s such a shame.”
“V-Verba...?” Twilight asked, choking. It was taking all her effort just to stand upright, but even that was beginning to fail, and she crumpled to her knees. “O-... Or Obsidian?”
“Obsidian...” Indicina said wistfully, her anger having abruptly evaporated. She cradled a lotus in her forelegs and started to rock. “He was the only one who saw me.”
Twilight screamed. “Make it stop!” The pain was overwhelming, an endless sea of suffering that washed over her senses and threatened to drown her entirely.
“You have every capability of ending it... and yet you do not. It’s strange. You confuse me,” Indicina murmured, tossing aside her flower. It vaporized in midair, leaving nothing behind, not even ashes. The room shifted again, and Twilight opened her eyes a crack to see that they were on the top of the Daymare’s spire in the Dreamscape.
“Why?!” Twilight cried. Her body was being torn apart; she could no longer control her spasms. “Why are you doing this to me?!”
“Because you need it.” Indicina said softly. “True pain will be encountered by not only you, but your friends, as well, and very soon. Too soon. You must know how to handle it. You must know how to approach it. You must know how to deal with it, else all you know will be lost, just as I was.” She stepped down from her throne, slowly approaching the writhing Twilight. “Twilight... You are stronger than this. I don’t understand. What I’m doing is simple. Pain is not hard to comprehend. Agony is the very essence of life.”
Twilight barely heard her. Her body seemed to be melting, and brightly colored dots danced about in her vision. She felt progressively lighter, as if she were a towel being wrung dry and then hung out in the sun. The pain began to ebb.
Indicina paused for a moment, then stated, “The memories, the ones that are no longer necessary... they have been dealt with. I can see that you are in need of a rest. Know this, though: It will get better before it gets worse.”
Twilight fell limply onto her back, with the golden skies of the Dreamscape stretched endlessly above her. Indicina sat down beside her, resting her head on the glass platform and gazing intensely at Twilight.
“You will need every last bit of your strength,” Indicina said sweetly, pursing her lips and stroking Twilight’s cheeks with an unsettlingly real affection. “Your greatest trial is almost upon you. I have taken a burden from your shoulders, but the rest is up to you. Do not be afraid to take chances, child, for your very domain is risky bets. And I hope that, when we meet again, you will have played your cards wisely, and in your favor, not our enemies’.”
Twilight’s consciousness wanted to depart, but it seemed chained to her mind, and it squirmed and twisted in her skull as it tried to break free. She was all but dead.
“Think on that, my darling dearest,” Indicina murmured. “Remember this world of Dissonance when you confront your greatest enemy. It will be her only chance to escape.”
And then Twilight’s consciousness was free of its bonds, and it departed her body gleefully before soaring off into the distance.
[Note]: I do not own anything in this story that already belongs to someone else.
This story takes place BEFORE season two, but AFTER season one.
Please let me know if a link doesn’t work.