There was a time, millennia ago, when the Earth was governed by peace and harmony. All the races would assist each other, maintaining the fragile balance that kept their land stable. The Dragons, with their fireproof scales and immense strength, would bring about night and day along with the Unicorns. The Griffons, with the innate ability to touch clouds, would change the weather and the seasons with the Pegasi. The Zebra, with their advances in potion-making, would help farm and fertilize the soil to grow food for everyone with the Earth Ponies. To date, there is no other period in history where peace existed between all the races of the Earth.
However, all the races knew that this peace was thinning, and that any tip to the natural balance would cause it to falter. Many disputes have been left for negotiations for the sake of maintaining harmony. Some that were in dire need of attention had been brushed aside due to the sheer amount of requests that plagued the rulers of each land. The Dragons felt that the Griffons and the pegasi were taking too much of the airspace while the Zebra complained that the Griffons’ harsh takeoff due to their large size displaced their fertilizer. Due to the lack of experience the rulers had in dealing with these requests, the first Council of Elders was held to address them. Each race sent their leader in order to negotiate an understanding between them.
However, all did not go as planned as the council departed with one missing member. The Alicorn that represented the Ponies had mysteriously vanished and none of the other races dared to speak of what occurred during the meeting. Without a word, they quickly departed to their homes and left the Ponies in a state of panic and unrest. The Dragons and the Griffons decided to take this weakness as an opening and attacked the Ponies they once worked with. With the guidance and leadership of two nameless, regal sisters, the Ponies were able to repel the attacks and force them back to their own lands. Thus began the Age of Chaos where the leaders of each race would attack each other for the sake of dominance, or so it seemed.
One pony, the single guard present during the Council of Elders, knew a portion of the truth behind the warring races. Ruling over all the land had no merit if it created years of civil unrest and the races knew this. This wasn’t a war for supremacy; it was a war for divinity. The guard raced to the princesses as soon as he regained consciousness from the contained explosion that occurred within the room where the council was held. However, he did not realize that the blast knocked him out for six months and he awoke under piles of rubble and debris. By then, it was too late to stop the war from escalating, but it wasn’t too late to stop the races from destroying each other. There was only one way to do this, however, and that was through the Crystalline Equinox, the product of the Council that no one wished to speak of, the lost artifact that was spoken of only in hushed tones after the meeting.
Little is known about the Crystalline Equinox besides the thousand year war that it provoked. Tyrant after tyrant had tried to find the mysterious crystal, only to be killed or overthrown by another who wished for its power. Thousands of villages were raided and destroyed to acquire an item that only the race leaders knew about. Ponies, Griffons, Dragons and Zebras all suffered under those harsh times when their young were brutally murdered and their homes completely destroyed. For it is said that the Crystalline Equinox held incredible power and granted the wishes of the one in possession of it. Those that knew this secret were willing to sacrifice anything for it, including their kingdom, their loved ones, and even their lives when the occasion called for it. Death was a common sight in all the kingdoms as the war, famine and sickness began claiming more and more victims. Finally, when all hope was lost and the races were all but extinct, the Crystalline Equinox was found…
He stared, horrified at the scene before him. Moments ago, waves upon waves of all the races had clashed, their final goal in sight. Now, there was nothing but dead, rotting corpses that carpeted the blood stained ground. He knew that he had done this, that his wish had caused the eradication of every single soldier that had fought on that mountain. This twisted atrocity of his initial intentions forced him to his knees, the crystal lay forgotten beside him. Not a soul heard the piercing cry of pure frustration and torment that escaped his lips and resounded throughout the land. He picked himself up, he needed to show the world the corruption that they had all sought for, that only evil could come of what they had been searching for. Focusing the last of his strength into the crystal, he projected his image, surroundings, and voice across the entire Earth and said:
“Thine of the Earth, hear my call and cease thine actions. I have found that which has been sought for millennia, that which has drawn more blood than the collective natural deaths beforehand. THIS is what the populace has fought for. THIS is what tore families apart, caused the genocide of many races and made one strike down an innocent in cold blood!”
“This small, worthless rock is the cause of all the suffering, all the pain, all the hatred that thou hast for one another!”
He held the crystal high and glared at it with such loathing that those that watched believed that his stare might be enough to reverse the spell it had cast. He lowered the crystal and continued:
“Many wish to have this crystal in their possession and for them, I have a message!”
“Brave the trails that none shall ever finish and find that only darkness awaits, for this will never see the light of day from this moment on!”
The unicorn cast a spell, infused with the power of the crystal, and sent it to places unknown. Though nobody knew where the crystal was, the tether that it had formed with them could no longer be felt on their Earth and each race began to reconstruct their homes and their land. Unfortunately, only chaos followed as the ties that the crystal formed with the warring races could never truly be dispelled. These ties were formed from the strong emotions that guided spirits to find the crystal and, even after death, remained with them. It is said that a common voice resounded through the hearts of these individuals that prophesized a second coming of the crystal and that the souls of those that it touched will never truly be at rest until it is destroyed.
The ancient tome was closed as a certain lavender unicorn mused...
“Hmm…A second coming…?”
“Spike? Spike?!” Twilight's calls seemed to be in vain as she walked into the library until the purple dragon jumped down from a nearby ladder.
“What is it Twi-… hey, I don’t remember seeing that book in the library?” Spike glanced at the frost colored cover of the book. Apart from being such an uncommon color, the picture of the gem on the cover looked absolutely delicious to the growing dragon. “Is it a gem cook book? You know I like them fresh from the ground.”
“No, Spike, it must have gotten mixed up with all the other books that I ordered. Can you put the rest of these away while I take a better look at this book? I might be able to find out who it belongs to.” Twilight set her saddle bags full of books down and placed the special book on her pedestal. She started flipping through the dusty pages looking for a clue as to who it belonged to.
Who in Equestria would want a book like this anyway? There isn’t even a title, just this odd looking gem…
The sound of a paper avalanche interrupted her thoughts.
“I thought you might have needed ‘Equestrian Crystal Compilation’, but it might have been just out of reach.” He chuckled under a mountain of books.
“That’s my number one assistant,” she commented as she levitated the book towards her, “as useful as he is clumsy.” She flipped through the book looking for the crystal that was mentioned in the book, however, there were no accounts for the Crystalline Equinox, nor did any of the pictures match the one on the cover.
Hmm, maybe Rarity might know something, her special talent is gems after all.
“Spike! I’m going over to Rarity’s for a while, would you mind watching the library?”
At the sound of his true love’s name he immediately dived for Twilight’s leg. “Rarity’s? Oh why can’t you take me? Please, please, pleeease?”
“You have to stay here in case the owner of the book comes looking for it. Though I’ll try and get you a treat from her okay?” With a disgruntled air, the dragon sat down heavily and snorted out a puff of green smoke.
“Fine,” he agreed, though without clearly expressing his reluctance.
Twilight left the dragon to his sulking and exited the library with the book in tow. She walked to the shopping district of Ponyville and entered Carousel Boutique. The bells chimed to announce her arrival. The Boutique was as elegant as always. The sunlight streamed in from the tall windows accenting the vibrant colors of Rarity’s summer dress line that adorned the dress forms lining the wall. The fashionista was busy adding a perfect sapphire to a beautiful sky blue dress before she noticed Twilight walking in.
“Why hello Twilight, to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit on this fine summer afternoon?” Rarity, as pleasant as always, seemed to be in an even better mood today.
“Good afternoon, Rarity, I was just wondering if you knew who this book belonged to. I found it in my bag before I got into the library and realized the delivery pegasi must have mixed up my order.” Rarity froze when she saw the cover.
No...Why me? Why now? We can’t possibly…She didn’t realize the wide eyed stare she had been giving the book until Twilight interrupted her train of thought.
“Rarity, are you ok? You seem kind of…” Twilight inquired.
“Oh, my apologies Twilight, I’m a bit absent minded right now, would it be possible to come back later when I’ve regained my composure? This dress must have taken more out of me than I realized,” Rarity asked, the shakiness in her voice evident.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” asked the clueless unicorn. Twilight knew the pressures that Rarity had to deal with in the design world and offering her help was the least she could do in comparison to the generosity that her friend showed on a daily basis.
Oh Twilight, if only you knew your place in what is to come.
“Oh, it’s quite alright. I just need a little break is all. A bit of alone time while I gather my thoughts can do wonders to reignite my inspiration.” Rarity was never a good liar, but Twilight was never good at reading between the lines.
“Ok, Rarity. I guess I’ll come back tomorrow then.”
As she left, Rarity collapsed on the cold floor of her boutique. It was as if the gravity of the situation had affected her physically and she could no longer move. She breathed a sigh of relief when her normally inquisitive friend didn’t question her about the drastic change in demeanor.
I must prepare for… Rarity tried to swallow the lump in her throat. That gem, I must prevent its acquisition at all costs. The unicorn headed upstairs to her closet and hit the switch hidden behind last year’s fall line. To her, this was the perfect hiding place as no one would even touch those out of style rags.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose.” Rarity cringed at the sight of those over-used browns; even the end of worlds couldn’t cause her to ignore a fashion crisis when she saw one. Hidden doors swung open to reveal a dark, winding staircase that led to the depths of the boutique. With a shudder, Rarity began her descent to a room she had wished she would never see again.
He stood at the base of the mountain, a cacophony of screams assaulting his ears. Wave after wave of Griffons, Pegasi and Dragons clashed in the air with no advantage on any side. Talons met hooves mid flight, only to be separated by large gouts of fire. Sickly green residue and the blood of the fallen soaked the ground, the Zebra’s mixture a potent poison to any who came in contact with it. The Earth Ponies, gleaming in armor of steel, formed a phalanx as powerful Unicorn mages fired devastating spells behind them. Scorched trees and piles of debris were the only inhabitants of the barren, war-torn landscape. The scene before him was no different from the hundreds he has seen since the beginning of the war, but watching it never became easier. He forced himself to look away from the carnage that lay before him and focused on the task at hoof. The crystal sat at the apex of the mountain and only he knew how to gain access to it.
His horn at the ready, he charged towards the skirmishing species and began his ascent. A circle of Dragons blocked his path, their attention taken by the Earth ponies they were engaged with. Before any could take notice of him, he blinked to the other side of the crowd. Noticing a shadow sprinting between the blackened trees, he readied his sword with a hope that the shadow would not notice him. Before he could reach the break in the trees, the shadow made its move. Steel clashed as sword met dagger.
“A Unicorn that wields a sword? Your proficiency shall be explored.” Assassins were only effective when they had the element of surprise. This one had just thrown that away and the unicorn now had the advantage, or so he thought. The Zebra seemed to dance gracefully around any strike he made and retaliate with such speed that he could hardly catch up.
‘I’m losing time,’ he thought. He quickly conjured a wall of force that would push the Zebra back a few hundred meters. However, before the wall hit, the striped menace threw a potion onto the ground, a green glyph forming at the impact point. The wall passed by, causing the Zebra to only slightly lose balance. Before his attacker could recover, he blinked out into the clearing and continued running.
‘Strong with the blade as he is with magic. The fate of his enemies could only be tragic.’ The Zebra, dressed in all black, ducked back into the shadows, ready to pick off any others that might be wandering alone.
A gigantic, imperfect orb of black crystal, housing the Crystalline Equinox, hovered ominously at the peak of the mountain surrounded by the leaders of each species. The few attempts to break the shell failed as the black crystal would seemingly regenerate faster than they could damage it. Being the most powerful of each species, the jarring impact of each strike or cast resounded for miles. Dodging pillars of fire, pools of poison and cosmic beams, he was able to avoid detection and approach the shell. With the leaders' focus on each other, he began his spell to penetrate the shell’s defences.
Matrices upon matrices of magic code were carefully interpreted and skilfully cut from the main spell. A localized hole began appearing directly above the unicorn and the realization of his progress almost caused his spell to falter. Any deviation from his spell could cause the shell to learn the process in which it was being attacked and close itself to him forever. After what seemed like an eternity, the Crystalline Equinox was finally in sight. He quickly grabbed it, blinking up and back down the hole in the shell.
‘What is your wish?’ The Equinox spoke to his mind. The unicorn hesitated, something was wrong. The last time he saw the Equinox, it was bright white, the color of purity. Now, darkness seemed to swirl around the edges, threatening to completely consume its opposing shade. There was no time to worry, the combatants sensed the power of the crystal leaving its shell and turned their attention to him. He closed his eyes, knowing that he would die if this didn’t work.
‘My only wish…’ The leaders charged him, their minds set on acquiring the crystal.
‘…is for the fighting to stop.’
And it did.
Twilight awoke with a start, the dream had felt so real. She trembled as she remembered the scene that played out in her mind. It was as if she could still feel the power of the crystal in her hooves and the blast that resonated from the dark, twisted wish. She reached under her pillow to pull out the book. Since she was a filly, she always believed that books would whisper secret stories when everypony was asleep. This one had whispered a story she never wished to hear. With the moon at its zenith, Twilight’s research instincts kicked into full gear.
I have to find out what happened, from start to finish. This book can’t be the only one detailing the events of that time. Book after book was thrown to the floor after Twilight had finished with it, not bothering to place it in its proper place to save time. She had to be careful not to wake Spike in case she questioned her about the dream she wished to cleanse from her mind. Dark shadows lengthened as she combed through the archives with no results. Minutes seemed to turn to hours and the lavender unicorn was no closer to the answer she sought…
“Twilight?” The assistant prodded her awake. Twilight’s eyes shot open and jumped up from her sleeping position. Her sudden movements caused several book piles to topple over, successfully eliminating the little order that it tried to maintain.
“Oh my gosh, Spike! What time is it?” she said after glancing at the calendar.
“Umm, ten o’clock?” replied the dragon.
“Spike! I have to pick up the new shipments from the courier today! Why didn’t you wake me up earlier?” Twilight galloped out of the library with speed that would rival Rainbow Dash.
“But Twilight, its….” Spike began. He let out a frustrated sigh as he went over to the calendar. He tore off yesterday’s date to reveal that it was Saturday, and Twilight never schedules anything for Saturday so she could spend time with her friends. Spike sat down in front of the door.
“One…two…three…,” he said while looking at the clock. The door to the library slowly opened to reveal one slightly agitated mare.
“Today is Saturday, isn’t it?”
“I’m telling you, there’s something weird about that book.” Noon had come and Twilight and her friends began their picnic. They settled on a bluff overlooking the grassy plain; the tree they sat under was the only one for miles. Gently rolling grassland met with clear, blue sky, the perfect setting to enjoy a day with friends. The red and white checkered blanket floated down as Twilight’s friends began the preparations.
“I just don’t see what’s so wrong ‘bout a silly old book,” commented Applejack. “It just don’t seem worth the fuss.”
“I think that if Twilight thinks it’s a big deal, it probably is. I mean, that’s just what I think,” Fluttershy piped in. “I mean, remember that time with the letter?”
“Yea, we all remember how worked up an egghead like you got over something like that. What’s up with the book then anyway?” Rainbow Dash said, floating above Twilight and eying the book with disinterest.
“That’s just it, I don’t exactly know. I think it made me dream about a time in the past, a time near when the book was published, but I’m not sure,” Twilight replied. “I think there might be an enchantment on the book that transfers its contents to the reader.”
Pinkie gasped. “Maybe it’s supposed to tell everyone secrets about the future! Oh! Have it read my future Twilight! I want to know about the new flavour cupcakes the Cakes are baking! Please, please, pleaaase!” She hopped up and down in front of Twilight, the former not bothering to explain how illogical her friend’s statement was.
“Well, sugercube, since you’re the resident go-to-pony ‘bout all things magical and the like, you would know better’n’all of us put together.”
“You could always ask Rarity. She might not be as adept as you, but I’m sure she could help. She always talks about you inspiring her to learn more about magic at our spa get-togethers.” Fluttershy always had a lot to say about Rarity, mostly because Rarity had a lot to say.
“Where is that drama queen anyway? She was supposed to help me make my tricks look flashier yesterday, but never showed up.” Rainbow Dash dropped to the ground with a pout and crossed arms.
“She’s probably just busy with another one her fancy schmacy orders,” suggested Applejack. She shuddered as the memory of Twilight’s sleepover reminded her of how froufrou her creations could be.
Twilight mulled at how little help her friends were when it came to magic, but tried to enjoy the picnic. The beautiful weather definitely helped her mood and soon she forgot about the dusty old book and focused on having fun. As Spike’s sandwiches and Pinkie’s cupcakes ran out, the group started to rest, the sun dipping low on the horizon. Sunlight began to fade as the fatigued group drifted off into a peaceful slumber.
Luna’s night had already materialized when Twilight finally awoke. She lay beside her friends with her eyes closed, soaking in the cool, summer breezes that washed over her. She opened her eyes just a crack, only to be greeted by a mare, fully clad in dark garments. Twilight tried to cry out in surprise, but a hoof immediately found her mouth to stifle her call. Panic struck, as she tried to warn her friends with kicks and screams.
“Make any noise and you die here. Don’t even think about blinking out,” the unfamiliar voice commanded. It sounded as if she was speaking through a gag and couldn’t articulate properly. Regardless, the blade at Twilight’s throat prevented her from any movement and casting would be obvious and require too much time. With closer inspection, it seemed that the blade was attached to the underside of her fore hoof and could easily be retracted. The assailant’s attire was composed of strips of black fabric that gave her a mummified look, loose ends trailing in the wind.
“Where is the book?” questioned the mare. Her piercing, bright golden eyes scanned the picnic area. Twilight forced herself to not look behind the tree where all their saddlebags were. The golden eyes studied her intently.
“You’re gaze, it’s avoiding the tree.” As she slowly got up to check the tree, her blade still pointed at Twilight, a blur of blue tackled her to the ground. Rainbow Dash grabbed her adversary’s hind leg and lifted her off the ground with her fore hooves.
“What the hay do you think you’re doing pointing a knife at my friend, huh?” Rainbow looked down to realize that her capture wasn’t flailing, which is what normally happens when non-pegasi ponies are lifted off the ground. Instead, she lifted herself up and swiped where Rainbow was grabbing her.
“Whoa, calm down lady.” Rainbow let go as the attacker landed on her feet and bolted to the trees.
“Ohh, no you don’t.” Twilight erected a force field in front of the tree and the cloaked figure rebounded off of it. The sounds of the struggle caused her friends to slowly awake from their slumber.
“Wh….what’s going on? What’s with the all ruckus?”
“And I was having such a lovely dream about chocolate covered frosting…mmm…chocolate covered frosting.”
“Don’t you see the…” But as quickly as she appeared, the silent assassin was gone. Twilight scanned the horizon. Where could she have hidden on such a levelled out plain? she thought.
“Oh man did you see me Twilight? I totally saved your life there with my signature Rainbow tackle.”
“Uhh, I’m grateful that you saved my life, but wasn’t that just a normal tackle?”
“Oh, Twilight, I knew you wouldn’t understand.” Rainbow Dash shook her head disapprovingly.
“Is anypony going to tell us just what the hay just went on ‘round here?” Applejack gave them an inquiring look.
“I was attacked by some black bandage wearing freak when Rainbow Dash saved me. She probably didn’t notice her sleeping on a nearby cloud,” Twilight explained. “She wanted the book and held a knife to my throat to get it." She swallowed visibly, still feeling the cold tip of the blade against her neck, the fear the she could’ve died finally seeping in. “I have to tell Princess Celestia. Go home everyone, the night isn’t safe,” said the trembling unicorn. Her friends were reluctant to leave her after such a traumatizing experience, but Twilight insisted that she be alone to deal with what had happened.
“The least we can do is walk you home,” said a concerned pink pony, an unusual frown robbing the place her smile would usually occupy. The fearful unicorn complied, relieved that her friends were by her side on the way back to the library.
“Spike, take a letter.”
“On it.” The dragon rushed over to the drawer and picked out some parchment and a quill.
Twilight began detailing all the events that happened to her the past two days. Had it really been only two days? The discovery of the book and the events that led up to the attack had felt like weeks. Near death experiences will do that to a pony, I guess.
“…and I request your immediate council, your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle. Got it!” exclaimed the dragon. He had calmed down immensely since Twilight relayed the news of what had transpired that night. Several scorched paper bags littered the floor; hyperventilating had always been a problem when it came to Spike’s panic attacks.
“Send it, hopefully the princess will answer soon,” Twilight said as Spike opened the window and sent the letter in a magical green flame. Almost as soon as it was sent, Spike grabbed his belly and belched out a letter that Twilight quickly grabbed with magic.
“Dear Twilight Sparkle, my most faithful student,” Twilight read. “Though your situation is very concerning, my duties in Canterlot prevent me from visiting and offering my guidance directly. I know you will be able to keep yourself and the book safe with the help of the other Elements of Harmony until I am able to make the trip.” Twilight’s jaw dropped, too shocked to finish reading the letter.
“Does she not realize that I could’ve been killed tonight? No, the princess trusts me. I’ll do everything I can to learn about and protect this book.” Twilight read and re-read the letter just to be sure she understood what Princess Celestia was telling her. If this was simply petty theft, the princess would have just asked me to send the book to her. The fact that she wants to come personally must mean that there is more to this then I originally thought. Twilight glanced nervously at the saddlebags she left beside her desk. She brought the book out and scanned through it once more, hoping to find something she missed.
“Wait a minute, this wasn’t there before.” The last page of the book seemed to have some writing etched on its margins, flowing script that were similar to the study notes that she would always write. “It looks like some sort of spell, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”
“Maybe ‘Interpreting Indiscriminate Incantations' would help?” suggested Spike, pulling it out of a nearby shelf. A blanket of magic formed over the book as Twilight brought it to the desk.
“Hmm, the only thing this tells me is that it might be a summoning spell. That isn’t enough information.” She glanced at the spell once again, an uncertainty filling her. “The easiest way to figure this out is to just cast the spell and deal with whatever comes out. That way, I’ll have a better control of the situation and understand the book a little more,” she reasoned. Her curiosity always got the better of her.
“Ok, Twilight, but be careful, you don’t exactly know what’s going to come out of there.” Spike shuffled nervously, the apprehensiveness evident in his body language. “I mean, what if it summons a dragon?”
“According to the book, a simple spell like this can only summon something small. Besides, living creatures wouldn’t survive a summoning as basic as this,” assured Twilight. “I’ll set up some defences just in case anything happen, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.” Twilight set up a few wards before addressing her assistant. “Run down the appropriate ward safety check list.”
The baby dragon ran to the wardrobe and fetched out a list contained on several papers stapled together.
“Magic nullification ward?”
“Physical barrier ward?”
“Isolated system ward?”
Twilight’s horn glowed when an intense bright magenta glow as she began forming the magical matrices in her mind. As she cast the spell she felt a sharp tugging at her chest. She looked down and gasped when she saw a white tether connecting her body to what seemed like empty air. A faint outline of a stallion seemed to emerge at the other end of the tether, but faded as quickly as it appeared. Twilight poured more magic into the spell, in hopes of getting answers from the stallion she just saw. Suddenly, a bright flash enveloped the room before everything went pitch black.
“Twilight!” cried a worried purple dragon.
“I’m right here Spike!” Twilight called out to her assistant, but their voices seemed to echo off the very darkness that consumed them. A voice, seemingly belonging to the darkness, pulsated from all around them; an ominous presence filled the entire room.
A quest for power so long ago, the seeds of destruction it did sow.
Champions of light and dark alike, fought each other, strike with strike.
Their souls forever bound to me, tethered until I agree
To allow a fight for divination, their bodies reformed for the duration.
A war of the millennia, Masters will install, Heroes at their beck and call.
In one day, they will appear, to make your objective very clear.
The disembodied voice resounded painfully through Twilight’s mind until an eerie silence permeated the silence.
“Spike?” As soon as the silence was broken, the darkness was lifted and Twilight was back in her library. She realized that she felt extremely exhausted and fell asleep before reaching the ground, her assistant already snoring on the other side of the room.
Golden eyes watched them through the library window, their owner swearing to herself as she watched the events unfold. She thought she would be able to steal the book when Twilight was asleep and leave unnoticed, but it appeared that the lavender unicorn had other plans for it. Things were not going according to plan. She knew she had to participate in this silent war whether or not she wanted to. She looked up at the still darkened sky and galloped back to her hideout. Since it has come to this, even more preparations are necessary. She sighed; this night was really beginning to suck.
A flash of green fire lit up in front of Princess Celestia, materializing into a letter. She closed her eyes after she read the report from the most faithful student.
“Luna,” she telepathically called out to her sister.
“It is time.”