Trace found himself in pitch-blackness. He looked around, but couldn’t see anything in the black abyss. Panic started to take hold of Trace, he knew that he needed to do something, but couldn’t remember what it was. He stood still in the darkness trying to recall how he had gotten here. Trace focused on his surrounding and found that he could feel the grass beneath his hooves. Trace’s eyes began to adjust to the darkness, and he was able to make out shapes.
The shapes became distinct little by little. Ahead of him was more blackness, but when he looked behind him he could make out a tree line. He looked ahead again and could see that there was another tree line in the distance. Things began to grow more distinct and Trace was able to tell where he was. It was night, and there were neither stars or a moon out to light the clearing Trace was in. In the middle of the clearing Trace could barely make out five figures.
One of the figures was huge and was slowly moving towards the other four. Trace could see its red glowing eyes in the darkness. Terror struck Trace when he realized what the moving creature was. He then looked to the other four, and knew immediately who they were. The basilisk slowly moved towards the four ponies cowering in fear. Trace stared at the creature as it licked its lips, ready for its meal.
“You can’t be here. I killed you!” Trace screamed at the monster. It didn’t hear him and continued to near Rarity and the three fillies.
“Rarity run!” Trace screamed to her, but she didn’t move.
Trace tried to gallop to them so that he could save them again. He was stopped when he was unable to move his left fore-hoof. Trace looked down to see shadows grasping his leg holding him in place. Trace tried to pull away from the shadows, causing immense pain to lash through his leg. He continued to struggle screaming in agony and frustration as he tried to free himself from the shadow’s grasp.
More shadows erupted from the ground, and curled around Trace’s body forcing him to the ground. Trace ignited the rune in his mane and hurled magical power against the shadows causing them to let up. Some of them were blown away by his outburst, which caused him to pour magic into freeing himself. Every time Trace would fight one off pain would lance through his horn. He tried to ignore the growing migraine, but was unable to. He continued to fight, and the shadows kept reappearing, trying to conquer him. The pain in his horn kept growing in intensity, it felt as if someone were cutting it in half with a molten cleaver.
Suddenly, an immense force slammed him to the ground. He could not push against it as it held him tight to the earth. Trace yelled in anger as he tried to buck himself free, but it was in vain. Trace continued to rage, which only made the force press down on him harder allowing him no movement at all.
He could not possibly hope fight such a powerful foe. He would not submit, he had to save the ponies that needed him. He looked back across the clearing to see that the ponies and the basilisk were gone.
“Trace.” A voice called out in the darkness.
Twilight sat in the waiting room of the cold sterile hospital. Two ponies she knew had been taken to intensive care last night. The worst of the two, Sweeite Belle, was still in critical condition. The doctors had done everything that they could for her, and she was now stable.
“She is lucky to be alive honestly.” The doctor informed Rarity. Twilight stood by her friend offering her support.
“Tell me doctor is she going to be okay?” Rarity asked. The white mare had been crying for a long time now, and seemed to have no more tears. Her mane was a mess and her eyes were red and puffy.
“We have her stabilized now. There isn’t anything else anypony can do for her. At this point we just have to wait and see.” The doctor replied.
“Can I be with her?” Rarity asked.
“Of course.” The doctor replied.
Rarity moved into the room behind the doctor and took a seat at the side of the bed Sweetie Belle lay in. Twilight attempted to follow her into the room, but found her path blocked by Nurse Tenderheart.
“I’m sorry Twilight, but family only.” The blue pony informed.
Twilight stepped back, and turned back to the waiting room. She walked to a corner where she took a seat on a cushion that was set out. She levitated over a magazine from a nearby table and began to flip through the page.
Twilight broke from the memory; it was in that same waiting room that Twilight now sat. Over the hours she had read every magazine in the room, and was just looking at the pictures in them at this point. The doctors had not allowed anyone to go and sit with Trace, he had no family in Ponyville. They had told Twilight that he had a leg broken in two places, and had suffered from severe magical exhaustion along with some internal injuries. They had exclaimed that it was remarkable he wasn’t going to suffer any permanent damage after expending so much magic.
Twilight tossed the magazine aside, having grown bored with staring at pictures. She looked around the room to be greeted by white. The walls were white. The ceiling was white. The floor was white. Twilight had never thought she would ever grow so bored of white, but sitting in this room for hours was starting to wear on her. She looked up to the ceiling and began to count the tiles.
’76, 77, 78.’ Twilight’s monotonous task was halted when she heard alarms start to go off, and several large orderlies raced past her into Trace’s room.
Twilight got up from her seat, and trotted over to the room investigate. She was lucky that she hadn’t galloped there as one of the orderlies was hurled from the room and slammed into the wall of the hallway. Twilight chanced a look into the room to see several nurses and orderlies trying to restrain a thrashing Trace.
“We have to hold him down before he does any more harm to himself.” Nurse Tenderheart yelled over Trace.
Trace lashed out with his magic and tossed two more nurses aside. Twilight decided that it was time she intervened. She cast out her magic to envelope Trace and held him still. Trace continued to struggle, but could not move with her holding him still. Trace was beginning to foam at the mouth as he strained against her magic, it was then that Twilight noticed that he wasn’t even awake.
“Trace.” Twilight called to him. The change was instant. Trace seemed to calm down at hearing her voice.
“Trace you need to calm down. Everything is okay. Everything is going to be alright.” Twilight said stepping closer to the white unicorn. Trace stopped struggling against her, and slowly opened his eyes.
Trace sat up as he opened his eyes, he immediately shut them again as he was blinded for the third time that week. There was a massive white light beaming down at him, and his throat was sore. He had no doubt that he had been having another nightmare, though he was never able to remember what any of them had been about. Wincing Trace slowly opened his eyes again to be greeted by a blurry lavender unicorn standing over him.
“Twilight, is that you?” he asked.
His question was confirmed when the mare in question leaned down and hugged him tightly. The magic that Trace hadn’t noticed was enveloping him dissipated. Trace stared around the room to see that nurses and orderlies were staring at the two in amazement. Trace saw that one of his legs was suspended in a cast, and held in the air above him by a sling. It was then that Trace realized he was in a hospital.
“Twilight what happened?” Trace asked pulling away from the embrace. “Is everypony okay? Where is Rarity?” Trace was beginning to panic again, and was stopped as the pain in his horn flared up again.
“Rarity is okay Trace. I hear that you are to thank for that.” Twilight replied trying to calm the stallion once more. The nurses and orderlies left the room and the two to their conversation.
“What about Sweetie Belle. Twilight what happened?” Trace asked, calming down a little.
Twilight paused, not knowing exactly what to tell him. Trace saw her hesitation, and began to fear the worse.
“Don’t tell me that she… is dead.” Trace said.
“NO!” Twilight exclaimed. “No Trace she isn’t, but it isn’t good. She is in critical condition. Rarity is with her now.” Twilight explained.
Trace sank back into the bed horrified by the news.
‘I wasn’t able to help her.’ He thought. ‘I wasn’t strong enough. Why wasn’t I strong enough? Why did I let that monster get to her?’
“I’m so sorry Twilight. I wasn’t able to stop this from happening.” Trace said, apologizing to the pony he could find.
Twilight saw the depression on Trace’s face, and grew concerned. ‘Of course it is sad that Sweetie Belle was hurt, but if Trace hadn’t been there none of the four he had saved would be alive now.’
“No Trace you can’t think like that. If you hadn’t been there who knows what could have happened. You saved four ponies last night.” Twilight informed him.
“Thanks Twilight.” Trace replied giving her a fake smile. “I think I need some rest though.” Trace continued laying back into the bed.
“Okay then. I will go back home, but I will be back in the morning to see you.” Twilight said making her way to the door.
Trace waved to her with his free hoof as she left the room. He was alone in the room. He buried his head into his pillow trying to allow sleep to reclaim him. He was unable to fall back asleep however.
‘I should have been stronger.’ He thought. ‘What hadn’t I been stronger. If only I had been born stronger like Twilight I would have been able to easily save everypony. Why was I born such a weakling?” Trace was unable to turn his brain off, and this kept him awake.
Trace lay in bed for several hours unable to make himself comfortable. Part of him knew that he had done everything possible to help the injured filly, and another part knew that if he weren’t so weak things would have gone better. Trace wrestled with himself for hours before a thought occurred to him. ‘I need to see her.’
It was approaching morning as Rarity sat next to her sister in the cold hospital room. There were several machines hooked up to the sleeping filly. One kept track of her heartbeat, and another kept filling her lungs with air. The beep of the machine and the bag filling and releasing air were the only sounds Rarity had heard in hours.
Sweetie Belle lay on the bed with tubes protruding from her mouth. There were bandages wrapped around her torso where the Basilisk had maimed her. She looked to be sleeping, but Rarity could hardly bare to see her in such a condition. So she continued to stare at the ground as she had done for hours.
“I’m so sorry Sweetie Belle I wasn’t able to do anything for you.” Rarity whispered.
Behind her Rarity heard the door to the room open. She didn’t look up as sompony limped into the room and stopped when they were beside her. She was hardly aware that there was a pony standing next to her, she was exhausted by the day and had not slept yet.
“I’m sorry Rarity.” Trace said to the mare he was standing next to.
Rarity was startled by the voice and looked up to him. Trace stared down at her noticing that her mane was a mess and her eyes puffy from crying, but she still looked beautiful to his eyes. This made the situation that much worse.
“I wasn’t able to keep her safe. I’m so sorry Rarity.” Trace apologized again, letting his head fall.
“No.” Rarity said. “If anything this is my fault. I lied to Sweetie Belle and told her I had work to do. If I had just let her and her friends stay over for the night then none of this would have happened.”
“No Rarity I am as much to blame for that as you.” Trace replied.
“Oh Trace, you did everything you could. I know that.” Rarity said stroking his mane, Trace kept his head down.
“That is exactly the problem.” Trace replied. “I did everything I could and it still ended up like this.”
“Trace we were lucky that you were the one who found us there. If it had been anypony else I fear what might have happened.” Rarity said trying to sooth his self-loathing.
“No!” Trace exclaimed. “I am a mage trained at the academy in Canterlot. If it had been any other graduate from that school then nopony would have ended up hurt. I am just a weakling and I was unable to protect your sister. I can never apologize enough Rarity I’m….” Trace was cut off as a pair of lips stopped his confession.
Trace opened his eyes to see that Rarity was passionately embracing him. He gave into the moment and returned the embrace. The two sat there on there on the floor of the hospital room in each other’s hooves. It was Rarity that broke the embrace.
“Trace if you had not been there none of us would be alive right now. I can never thank you enough for saving my sister and me. I don’t want to ever hear you again saying that you failed us.” Rarity told him.
Rarity looked down and saw that Trace’s leg was in a cast. “Should you be walking around the hospital?” she asked.
“Probably not.” Trace replied. “I cannot tell you how hard it was to get out of that sling without using magic.” He continued.
Rarity gave a small laugh. “I imagine that Nurse Tenderheart would have a heart attack if she saw you up and about.” Rarity said.
“I don’t know her very well so I will have to take your word on that.” Trace replied.
Several moments passed as the two sat on the floor looking at each other. An awkward tension began to seep into the air of the room. The white elephant in the room raged to be acknowledged, but both ponies were afraid to bring it up. It was Trace that broke first.
“Rarity.” Trace said taking on a serious tone. “I don’t know how I feel about that kiss. It is true that I really like you and I admit that I want you. But you have just been through a traumatic experience I don’t know if I feel right about it. You don’t have to…” Trace was once again interrupted as Rarity pulled him into another kiss. The two held this one for several minutes before parting.
“That is not fair.” Trace said, his demeanor noticeably light. “I might have to get you to stop doing it.”
“Make me.” Rarity dared.
It was Trace this time that pulled Rarity into a lip locked embrace. The two sat in a room in the overly white hospital holding each other. Both expressed what they wanted and the other returned their desire in full.
Trace limped into the room, and surveyed it. The sling that had held his injured hoof in place lay on the ground next to the bed. And there was a small puddle of clear fluid on the ground next to the IV, which had been removed from his leg when he was making his grand escape. The room was dark, and silent. Exactly how he left it.
Trace slowly made his way across the room to the bed, where he would sleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. He carefully climbed into it making sure that he didn’t bump his leg into anything, and cause pain to shoot through his body. The leg was already hurting a lot. The pain had been growing ever since Trace had left the room, he could only assume that the IV had some sort of pain reliever in it. However, he wasn’t going to attempt to put the needle back into his leg. That would have been a terrible idea.
Trace laid down on the bed, and attempted to drift off to sleep. This was not as easy as he had expected it to be. He found himself tossing and turning as the chronic pain in his leg kept him awake. Trace started to think back to the events of the last couple of days, eventually he settled on a memory that happened not to long ago.
“Now what.” Trace asked still holding Rarity.
“I’m not quite sure actually.” She replied.
“Well it seems that we may have skipped that date that we were supposed to have.” He said.
“Yes, it would seem so.” Rarity agreed.
“I feel that we have ventured out of the friend zone.” Trace said with a smile.
Rarity let out a small chuckle. “I agree with you there.” She replied.
“So do you want to make this thing official?” Trace asked.
“Right now I think we should wait.” Rarity replied, causing Trace to lose his smile. “At least until everypony is out of the hospital.”
Trace stopped to contemplate this before he spoke again.
“I think that you are right Rarity. We will hold off for now, no matter how hard that may be.” Trace said nuzzling Rarity. Rarity returned the gesture, and pulled away to give Trace a serious look.
“I think that you should get back to bed.” She said flatly.
“Are you sure?” Trace pleaded, but Rarity would not be swayed.
“It was nice to see you walking around, but the doctors said that your leg was hurt pretty bad. I don’t want you harming yourself further on my account.” Rarity replied.
Trace looked down in defeat. Rarity had been right his leg was killing him. He lifted his head to tell her that he would see her tomorrow only to find himself once more in a passionate kiss.
Trace had finally managed to fall asleep. He calmly breathed, his body had lost the ability to tell him he was in pain. For a while peaceful dreams were what greeted Trace, it had been the first time in a long time.
Screaming was all that could be heard for miles around. An entire city fell from the clouds. Lovers held one another. Parents attempted to shield their children. Some even tried to reassure one another that something would pull them out of this mess. More than anything, there was screaming.
Well over a thousand ponies fell from the city of Cloudsdale flailing their useless wings in an attempt to fly. None of them managed to even slow their decent. Among those straining to pull out of their death fall were four ponies in the blue flight suits of the Wonderbolts. Spitfire pumped her wings as fast as she could.
The screaming was deafening as the ponies fell together. It did not last long. In a moment the area beneath the previous city of Cloudsdale grew silent. There was nopony left in the city. The had fallen.
Trace bolted awake causing a shooting pain to lance through his leg. He found himself once again drenched in sweat; he had another nightmare last night. He had been in the hospital for five days now, and every single morning he had woken to the same scene. Any minute now the nurse would come in and ask him if he was okay. He would wave her away and attempt to remember what had terrorized his mind the previous night, but be unable to recall anything.
‘Right on time.’ Trace thought as Nurse Redheart entered the room. The white earth pony with the pink mane looked Trace over. She sighed and made her way across the room. Trace noticed that she had a new pair of sheets balanced on her back. Nurse Redheart pulled a key from her saddlebags and undid the lock that chained Trace to the bed. Trace had been confined to his bed for the past three nights after Nurse Tenderheart found him wandering the halls a few nights ago.
“Another nightmare?” the nurse asked.
“I wouldn’t know.” Trace replied truthfully.
Nurse Redheart rolled her eyes, and prompted Trace to move so that she may retrieve the sheets he was on. He begrudgingly complied so that she may do her job. Once there were new sheets on the bed she lifted Trace’s file from the holder at the end of the bed. Once she checked it over it was placed back into the bin.
“The doctor will come in later to see you.” She told him before making her way out of the room.
Trace was left again to his thoughts. ‘I have never had this many nightmares in a row.’ He thought. ‘Maybe it has something to do with what happened. I hope I’m not suffering from PTSD.’ Trace lost himself as thoughts began to race through his mind about his current predicament. He didn’t even notice that Rarity had entered the room.
“I hope I am not intruding.” The white unicorn said snapping Trace out of his trance.
“What? Oh when did you get here?” he asked.
“A couple of minutes ago, but you look so cute when you are lost in thought that I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt you.” She replied.
Trace blushed a little at the comment, but quickly recovered.
“How is Sweetie Belle doing?” he asked.
“She is doing much better. The doctors say that they are going to release her later today.” Rarity answered brightening significantly. Sweetie Belle had woken up three days ago and had been on the fast track to recovery ever since. She hadn’t suffered many serious injuries asides from blood lose and a large laceration where the basilisk’s claw had gotten her.
“That’s good to hear.” Trace said. “I guess that means you will have to get used to having a hyperactive filly in your boutique again.”
“I am afraid that mother and father won’t be letting her stay with me anymore after what happened.” Rarity said, her mood dropping. “I don’t blame them either. It was my responsibility to keep her safe, and I failed horribly.”
Trace was quick to reply.
“What happened wasn’t your fault Rarity.” He said. ‘It was mine.’ Trace was still unable to let his failure to protect the filly go, but Rarity had asked him not to bring it up, so he wouldn’t.
“I know what happened was nopony’s fault, but I still cant help feeling responsible.” Rarity admitted.
“Do you know what that makes you?”
“What?” she asked.
“The best big sister in the world.” Trace replied.
Rarity made her way to the bed where she planted a kiss on Trace’s cheek. The two hadn’t had a real kiss since they agreed to hold things off until they were both out of the hospital. That did not dull the feelings that were expressed between the two however. Trace was about to say something when he heard voices coming from outside the door.
“I can’t believe he did that. Was he always so wild when he was young?” Twilight asked.
“You wouldn’t believe. He was always getting into fights with the other colts at school. At least once a week he would come home with more bruises. It was always over something trivial too. Like someone calling him a blankflank or making fun of him for not being able to use magic.” The mare that walked next to her replied.
Trace knew who the two were before they entered the room. He hid his head beneath a pillow, and tried to look as if he were sleeping. This was really hard to do when one leg was dangling in the air restricting his movement. Rarity turned to see Twilight enter the room with a mare that she didn’t recognize. Her eyes shot wide as it dawned on her who the mystery mare was.
“Are you pretending to be asleep Corny?” Margaret Trace asked.
Margaret was a white unicorn mare with a pink and red mane. It was styled perfectly, very much like Rarity’s. On her flank she bore a cutie mark of a sewing needle and a camera. Rarity was next to her in an instant.
“OHMYGOSHOHMYGOSHOHMYGOSH. Do you know who you are?” Rarity gushed at the bewildered unicorn.
“I think so, but now I’m not so certain.” Margaret replied.
“Corny?” Twilight asked still unable to get over what she had just called Trace.
“Oh yes. He absolutely hates whenever anypony calls him that. In fact that might have caused a few of the fights I was telling you about earlier.” Margaret said turning to Twilight.
“What do you mean fights?” Rarity asked after collecting herself.
“I mean that my brother was quite the rebel rouser when he was just a small little colt. Always getting into fights with older children at school, and come crying to his big sis whenever they beat him up.” She replied.
Trace who had been watching the entire exchange from beneath the cover of his pillow let out a snort at the last remark. This caught the attention of Margaret and she trotted over to the bed so that she could remove the pillow from his head. ‘Dammit.’ Trace thought as he came face to face with his older sibling.
“Hello Corny. You don’t look so good.” Margaret said smiling down at the invalid.
“I would say that same sister.” Trace shot back invoking a laugh from his sister.
“I see that being confined to a bed has not dulled you sharp tongue.” She replied.
“It would take more than a week of bed rest to relieve me of my greatest weapon.” Trace said eliciting another laugh from the older mare.
“Well now Cornelius aren’t you going to introduce me to your marefriend?” She asked, causing Rarity to turn a deep shade of red.
Without missing a beat Trace turned to Rarity.
“Margaret this is Rarity. She is a dress designer in town, and is very fond of your work.” Trace answered, pleased that he was able to change the subject.
“Is that right?” Margaret asked turning to the mare in question.
“Yes, I absolutely love what you did with the dresses that you put out last fall. I have even tried to incorporate your designs into my own.” Rarity said moving closer.
“You honor me with your praise.” Margaret replied.
“Careful if you make her ego any bigger it will take all of the air out of the room.” Trace said causing Margaret to give him a death stare. All this did was cause Trace to break out in laughter.
“It is you who should be careful Cornelius. Do you know how many embarrassing stories I have of you?” Margaret said.
“Have you not already told Twilight everything?” Trace asked motioning to the lavender unicorn. Twilight backed up against the wall not wishing to be caught between the feud of the two siblings.
“It seems that you have wasted your ammunition, and do not forget that I have tales of my own.” Trace shot back.
“You know me brother. I save the best for last.” Margaret replied with a grin. “Would you want Rarity here to find out about the toaster incident?”
“What toaster incident?” Rarity inquired.
“Okay, okay you win.” Trace conceded.
“Trace what was she talking about?” Rarity asked turning to Trace.
“That is for me to know and you to never find out.” He replied causing Rarity to pout.
Rarity was about to say something, when she was interrupted by Doctor Remedy walking into the room with some X-rays floating behind her. The mare was about twice as old as Trace, and her yellow mane was beginning to grey. Doctor Remedy stopped as she entered the room to look around at the four ponies within it.
“I am sorry, but what I have to say should only be heard by the family of the patient.” She said addressing Twilight and Rarity.
“It’s fine doctor I don’t mind them here.” Trace said stopping Rarity and Twilight from leaving the room.
“Very well.” Doctor Remedy said before making her way to a wall where she hung up the X-rays. The blue mare then pressed a button on the wall causing a light to come on behind the X-rays. The pictures were of a clearly broken leg, which Trace could only assumed belonged to him.
“This has to do with your leg Mister Trace.” She said turning to the patient.
“So what is the news doctor?” Trace asked, hesitation apparent in his voice.
“It seems that there is nothing else that we can do for it. Your bones have managed to heal well, but there was extensive muscle damage. I fear that you will never have complete mobility again.” Doctor Remedy replied, she didn’t like bearing bad news but it was part of her job.
Rarity gasped at the news, and Twilight’s eyes went wide. Margaret made her way to her brother and hugged him tightly. The only one that didn’t seem affected was Trace, but that was only because he was lost in thought and unable to show his emotions on his face.
‘Never have full mobility again? What does that mean? Is she saying I won’t be able to walk again? Can this really be happening?’ Trace was beginning to feel dizzy.
“What does that mean exactly doctor?” It was Twilight who spoke up this time.
“It means that he will never be able to gallop again, though he should be able to walk on it somewhat after it has healed some more.” The doctor replied turning to Twilight.
Doctor Remedy turned back to Trace ready to answer any questions he might have. She waited there for many more minutes looking at the stunned stallion. After five minutes had passed in silence she made her way to exit the room.
“I’m sorry that there wasn’t more I could do.” She said before leaving.
Trace sat in his sister’s embrace for a while unable to say a word. Nopony in the room dared to speak, or even move. Nearly another ten minutes passed before Trace managed to pull himself away from his sister.
“I think… I think that I want to be alone right now.” He said addressing everypony in the room.
“Cornelius are you sure?” Margaret asked making her way back to her hooves.
“Yes. I think it would be for the best.” He replied.
Slowly everypony began to file out of the room. Rarity was the last to leave. She looked back to Trace and saw that his expression was completely blank.
“I am here for you Trace.” She said to him.
“Thank you Rarity.” He said turning to her. “Can you please close the door behind you?”
“Of course.” Rarity replied, making her way out of the room, closing the door.
From beyond the door she could hear the sound of sompony crying softly.
“Hey there Sweetie Belle.” Scootaloo exclaimed as she entered the hospital room, Applebloom trailing close behind her.
Sweetie Belle looked up from a book that she had been reading. One of the nurses had given it to her when she complained about being bored. Sweetie Belle sat up in her bed to look at her friends as they entered. She was no longer hooked up to the machines, and only had the bandages wrapped around her torso to give away that she had been injured a few days prior.
“Hey there guys.” Sweetie Belle replied, waving a hoof to her friends as the made their way over to the bed.
“We heard that you were gonna get out of the hospital today.” Applebloom said as she approached her friend.
“Yea, the doctors said that I could go home.” She replied.
“Well that’s great. It hasn’t been that fun trying to crusade with you bein in the hospital.” Scootaloo said.
“I don’t know how much crusading I can do guys. The doctors said that I cant play around outside for a while.” Sweetie Belle informed her friends, looking a little depressed.
“Well that’s okay. We can do other stuff like…” Applebloom deadpanned.
“Like sewing.” Scootaloo offered.
“Yea we can do stuff like sewin’. Rarity has lots of stuff at her place to do that with.” Applebloom confirmed.
“Rarity doesn’t like me touching her dress making stuff. And besides, I’m not going to be living there anymore.” Sweetie Belle replied.
“If you’re not going to be living with Rarity then where are you gonna live?” Scootaloo asked.
“My mom and dad are taking me back to live at their place.” Sweetie Belle confirmed. “I usually stay at Rarity’s since they are always going on vacations and stuff, but after what happened…” Silence filled the room as Sweetie Belle stopped mid sentence.
“Well that’s okay we can still visit you right?” Scootaloo asked.
“Yea, my mom and dad live on the other side of Ponyville.” Sweetie Belle explained.
“Well see there, ain’t nothin’ gonna change to much.” Applebloom said.
Rarity walked into the room, and saw that Sweetie Belle’s friends were talking with her. She paused for a moment wondering if she should wait for them to finish their visit before she came into the room. She decided against it.
“Hello there Applebloom and Scootaloo, it’s a pleasant surprise to see you two here.” Rarity said causing the three fillies to turn to her.
“Hi Rarity.” Applebloom said to the older mare.
“Yea, hey Rarity.” Scootaloo added.
“Hey sis. Why are mom and dad not letting me stay at your place anymore.” Sweetie Belle asked, causing all of the fillies in the room to look at Rarity in expectation.
“Well Sweetie Belle” Rarity started “they were just so worried by what happened that they want to have you with them to make sure you are okay.”
“But, I like living with you.”
“I know, and I love having you around. But it’s their decision to make, and we have to abide by them.”
Sweetie Belle’s head sank as she saw the finality in her sister’s words. She didn’t really have a problem living with her parents, but she preferred living at Rarity’s much more. It seemed that her mom and dad were trying to punish her, and that was mean. Rarity saw the look on Sweetie Belle’s face and made her way over to her sister, pulling her into a hug.
“Don’t worry Sweetie Belle we will see each other all the time, and you can come over to the Boutique whenever you want.” Rarity said
“Thanks Rarity.” She replied.
The room was completely black, but that didn’t give it any difficulty in seeing. It knew where everything was since it had been here so long. It had no eyes, but it could see the unlit torches that lined the walls. Any minute now they would come to life, as its nightly visitor would descend the stairs.
As if on que a rumbling from above signaled that she was coming. The lights in the winding staircase came on one by one as she descended the stairs. A dark figured entered the chamber, and with a flash of light, the torches around the room sprang to life. Luna cantered up to the book that sat in the middle of the room to inspect it.
‘She is here again. Every single night. Does she come to gloat or does she want to open the book. If only she would. I would be out of here in an instant.’ An unseen force glared at the alicorn from its prison.
Shadows danced against the walls. The book in the middle of the room cast no shadow. The blue alicorns stood in front of the book staring at it, her face unreadable. Every night she came here, and every night the invisible entity raged at her.
‘Look here Luna. Remember your hate. You know it is still there. You cannot escape the truth. Those ponies care nothing for you. That’s right, feel the disgrace of a princess hated by her subjects.’ Luna broke her gaze from the black book and quickly gained a hold of her emotions.
‘LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! FEEL MY ANGER!’ The being raged at the princess. It knew she couldn’t hear it, but he mentally screamed all the same.
Luna sighed and turned away from the book, and made her way to the wall to check the enchantments that kept the chamber a secret. Every night was the same; it would get a few moments with the princess before she would walk away. She would come back and look into it again. It was nearly impossible for the being to escape its prison with a pony merely being close to it. Especially when that pony was Luna who already knew all of its tricks. It would still try. Just like it had for countless nights.
Luna made her way back to the black book to gaze at it once again. Just like she had every night. The entity within reached out to her once again.
‘Look at me Luna. You know me. Just talk to me. It can be whatever you want. I am a very good listener.’ Luna opened her mouth for a moment, as if she were going to say something. ‘YES! YES! Talk to me Princess.’
Luna began to laugh to herself hysterically.
‘I’LL KILL YOU LUNA! MARK MY WORDS, YOU WILL DIE!” The being raged as the princess turned and left the chamber, still laughing. Once she was gone it began to calm and turned back to its thought on escaping the prison it was locked in.
‘She is lucky that no one else knows I am here.’ It thought. ‘All I need are some words. It is so simple. I cannot be contained here forever. I will be freed. The first thing I am going to do when I’m out is wipe that smile right off of her ugly face.’
Trace lay in his bed staring at the ceiling. He had been lying here for hours unable to bring himself to do anything different. He had counted the tiles on the ceiling three times, and was now just staring blankly into space. He had cried a little after hearing the news. Luckily he had persuaded his visitors to leave before he did. He would not allow them to see his tears.
‘Have I ever wanted to go out and gallop before?’ he thought. ‘But now that I know I never will be able to I don’t know what to do.’
‘Don’t worry about it to much there is nothing you can do about it now.’ He answered himself
‘Maybe I can find a way to fix this. I have done some complicated things in the past. Why should this be any different?’
‘Runes can do a lot of things, but you know that you can’t fix a pony with them.’
‘Maybe nopony ever tried to use them for something like this.’
‘If the doctors here couldn’t do anything for you then you should not presume that you would be able to. Just let it go.’
‘That is probably true. It’s funny how just when I gain a little bit of power something else is taken from me.’
‘That is just how the world works it seems.’
‘The universe preserves equality. Once somepony gains something it needs to be balanced out.’
‘That is how the universe should work, but it isn’t. Maybe that rule just applies to you.’
‘If it applies to me then it should apply to everypony. That would be true equality wouldn’t it?’
‘Yes but is that…’ Trace was brought out of his internal conversation by the sound of the door to the room opening. His sister made her way into the room. She was smiling warmly at Trace, but he had known her long enough to know that she was really forcing it.
“Hello Cornelius, don’t you think that sitting alone in this dark room is going to depress you?” she asked turning on the light to the room.
“I think I deserve to be depressed at this point.” He spat back, angry that she had interrupted his musings.
“I guess you have a point there. I heard that you fought a basilisk to get those injuries. I never would have thought that my little brother would have ever been able to do something like that.” She remarked.
“I killed the damn thing to.”
“Yes I heard about that also.” Margaret said looking to the floor.
“I know you disapprove, but it was necessary. That thing would have just found some other pony later who probably wouldn’t have been able to get away from it.”
“I know you are probably right.”
“I don’t regret ending that thing one bit. Just look at what it did to me.” Trace said motioning to his defective leg.
“Don’t you think that you should feel a little bad? You ended a life, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
“You weren’t there. It was survival of the fittest. Even if I hadn’t needed to I would still do it. Look at what happened. I am a cripple now because of that thing!” Trace screamed.
“I don’t pretend to know what you are going through Cornelius. Just know that I am here for you whenever you need me.” She said placing a hoof on his shoulder.
Trace calmed down. He wasn’t mad at his sister, and taking out his frustration on her wouldn’t do anypony any good.
“I am sorry sister. I am not angry with you.”
“It is fine brother, I know.” She said smiling down at him. This time Trace returned the smile.
“I do not think that you have to worry to much about this.” She added, “It seems that you have already made plenty of friends here in Ponyville. Perhaps sompony that is more of a friend?”
Trace gave a laugh.
“We are not supposed to discuss that until after I have been released.” He stated.
“Oh well pardon me for intruding.” Margaret said giving a small laugh of her own.
The two broke into a wild fit of laughter. The mood in the room seemed to change in an instant, from sadness to mirth. The sibling truly enjoyed each other’s company and had not had a chance to talk like this in a long while. Trace ended the merriment when he turned to his sister.
“Has father been told?”
“Yes I told him before I came. I asked him to join me, but he was too busy I’m afraid.” She replied after a moment.
“To busy with his posturing to come see his injured son. That sounds just like him.” Trace commented.
“You two really should work this out.”
“Work what out? I think he made his feelings regarding me very clear when I declined dropping out of school to help him run the family business. Disinheritance is usually a strong way to determine feelings.”
“I know he feels just awful about that.”
“Awful that he ended the nobility of his bloodline. That would probably weigh on the mind of an old stallion like him.” Trace said chuckling to himself.
“The bloodline ends with you does it? What about me?” she asked taking insult.
“No offence sis, but I don’t see you as the kind of mare that settles down. I on the other hand.” Trace motioned to his injured hoof. “Well let’s just say that my dream of being a great war hero are probably dashed now.” He joked.
“I wasn’t aware that you had such aspirations.”
“Of course not aspirations like those will ruin your health.” He stated laughing some more.
“Well it seems that I have succeeded in cheering you up. But now I must get back to Canterlot, and the last train tonight leaves in little more than and hour.” Margaret said turning to leave.
“Remember Cornelius if you need me I am but a letter away.”
“I will keep that in mind. It has been good seeing you again Margaret.” Trace said waving to his sister as she made her way to the door.
“It has been wonderful seeing you as well. We will have to do this again sometime.”
“I only have so many hooves sister. Must we sacrifice one every time we are to meet?” Trace called to her as she left the room. Down the hallway he could hear her give a laugh before the door closed behind her.
Trace limped into his house and shut the door behind him. The place was completely dark, and he flipped the light switch that was on the wall next to him to illuminate the space. He still couldn’t do any magic.
He made his way into the dark house not bothering to turn the lights off behind him. He had not slept in over two days. He was afraid, because every time he did sleep he would awake after having a terrible nightmare. He couldn’t remember what they had been about, but the fear still lingered with him. Bags were beginning to appear under his eyes.
He slowly crossed the living room only to stop when he reached the stairs. ‘Ah stairs, my old nemesis.’ It was awkward as he tried to make his way up to the second story and to his bedroom. Only being able to use three hooves was not something that he was accustom to. It took Trace several minutes before he finally reached the top of the stairs.
Trace grinned as he triumphed over adversary
“Aha stairs you should have known that you were not match for me.” He proclaimed, unable to pat himself on the back without falling over.
Trace then limped across the hall and into his room where a perfectly made bed greeted him. Never in his life had Trace been so happy to see a bed as he was now. He slowly made his way over to it, and awkwardly climbed into it. Once situated he laid down so that he might sleep, hoping that it would be dreamless.
‘Celestia please grant me at least one night of peace.’ He prayed as he closed his eyes.
Not a moment later he heard the doorbell ring downstairs.
“You just don’t like me do you?” he asked the Goddess as he got out of his extremely comfortable bed.
Trace grumbled as he made his way out of the room and back to the stairs that blocked his path. The way down was much easier, but halfway down the doorbell rang again.
“I’m coming. I’m coming.” Trace stopped for a moment as he realized that he sounded like an old stallion having trouble getting to the door.
Trace snarled and made his way down the last few steps and into the living room. He limped across the floor as fast as he could, trying to prove to himself that he wasn’t old yet. He reached the door, and twisted the knob with his teeth opening it. Rarity greeted him as he the door swung open.
“Um, hello Trace I hope it isn’t to late.” The mare said giving him a hesitant smile.
“No of course it isn’t.” he replied.
“I just heard a little while ago that you were released from the hospital, and I remembered that I needed to give these back to you.” Rarity said lifting a pair of sunglasses out of her saddlebag with a bit of magic.
“Oh well thanks.” Trace said, taking the glasses in his teeth.
“Oh think nothing of it.”
The two sat there in silence for a while just looking at each other. The situation was steadily growing more tense and awkward. They both knew what it was that they wanted to discuss, but neither was able to breach the subject.
“Returning your glasses wasn’t the only reason that I came over here tonight.” Rarity admitted.
“I was hoping that it wasn’t.”
“I am not really that good with this kind of thing. I know that ponies seem to think I am, but I really haven’t had much time for romance in the past. I don’t think that there is really a guide for how we are supposed to go about doing this.”
“I think it is rather simple.” Trace said. “Rarity would you do me the honor of being my marefriend?” he asked.
Rarity was shocked by his frankness.
“I would love to Trace. Would you likewise be my coltfriend?” she asked in return.
“Nothing would make me happier my lady.” Trace said with a bow. Rarity giggled a little at the situation.
“You are right that was rather simple.”
“Most things are really.” Trace admitted.
“I suppose you have a point there Trace.”
“Now that is over with, would you like to come inside and have a cup of tea with me?” Trace asked motioning to the kitchen.
“I would love to” Rarity said making her way inside the house.
Celestia sat in her chambers reading a letter that Twilight had seen fit to send her.
Dear Princess Celestia,
This week I have learned that one pony’s bravery can overcome almost any obstacle. A new pony named Cornelius Trace arrived in Ponyville last week, and we quickly became friends. When some fillies were lost in the Everfree forest he went in to help save them. While in the forest Trace confronted and beat a basilisk in order to save four ponies from it. Trace however, was injured pretty badly in the battle. He showed me however, that when other ponies are on the line we have to step up and meet a challenge head on.
‘This would probably be why Trace hasn’t sent me any reports on his research so far.’ Celestia mused. ‘I am glad though that he has managed to make friends in Ponyville so quickly. Perhaps I misjudged him'