Princess Celestia walked down the halls of the royal palace of Canterlot headed for her private chambers to retire for the night. She had already lowered the sun a few hours ago to make way for her sister’s moon and her time to govern and protect Equestria. The regal alicorn maintained a calm, dignified demeanor, but how she appeared externally hardly reflected how she felt on the inside. It had only been a day since the wedding of Princess Cadance and Shining Armor, and the Changeling’s invasion was still on everypony’s mind.
Twilight Sparkle and her friends had departed this morning, headed back to their homes in Ponyville. Celestia was concerned about her prized pupil’s well-being. In fact, she worried about all of her subjects’ well-being. News about the attack will surely spread all over Equestria by tomorrow. She wouldn’t be surprised if everyone from Los Pegasus to Manehatten already knew. She could already hear the cries of panic coming from her little ponies as they would certainly be worried about another possible invasion attempt by the Changelings.
Thinking back to Twilight and her friends, Celestia wondered how they would be affected by the ordeal. They had faced dangers before, but this was different. Queen Chrysalis had successfully replaced the bride and brainwashed the groom without anypony noticing!
Nopony, except Twilight. Celestia sighed at this thought. She knew something wasn’t right from the moment she saw the imposter. Why didn’t I see it? It was so obvious! Candance would never be so cold to anypony, even if she had pre-wedding jitters! The real Cadance was in good spirits and friendly during the preparations for the actual wedding, and she had just spent who knows how long trapped in the caves!
Celestia had reached the door of her bed chamber, but she didn’t enter just yet. Instead, she walked over to a window that was just at the end of the foyer. The curtains glowed with a golden aura as she used her magic to open them.
Magic…That’s another thing that I’ve should have noticed. The Changeling Queen’s magical aura was green. Cadance’s aura is blue. I’ve known her for all of her life, and I didn’t notice that my own “niece’s” magic had spontaneously changed color!? Celestia berated herself for this seemingly obvious oversight. She turned her attention to the window and looked over her kingdom. From this window, she could see Ponyville to the south. Lights could be seen glowing from the houses of the town. Somewhere down there was her faithful student.
Faithful, Celestia bitterly thought. Why couldn’t I have been as equally faithful to my most loyal subject? Sure, she does over react at times, but that doesn’t mean her concerns should be disregarded. That’s even a report she and her friends wrote to me about! At the rehearsal, I reprimanded her! She was trying to warn us, and I couldn’t even see the signs! I couldn’t see a disaster coming until it was already was upon us! Celestia’s gaze rose from the town up to the night sky. The moon glowed over the land. That wasn’t the first time I failed to see the signs before it was too late.
“Sister, why are you still awake?” a voice called from behind the white alicorn. She turned to face an indigo alicorn that had a concerned look upon her face. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine, Luna,” Celestia calmly reassured her younger sister.
“Then why are you crying?” Celestia hadn’t noticed the tears that were streaming down her face. She quickly dried her tears.
“Oh, it’s nothing. I…I just was…” She didn’t quite know how to respond to her sister’s question. Luna stepped closer to her sister, worry clear on her face.
“It’s about yesterday, isn’t?” It was more of a statement than a question.
“Yes, and about other things too,” Celestia confessed. There was no point hiding the obvious fact from Luna. “Like, what is going to happen now? How are our subjects going to respond?”
“Let’s continue this in your room,” Luna suggested. Celestia nodded in agreement and they entered the bed chamber. Once inside, Celestia laid herself down on her bed, and Luna then lay down beside her. “Alright, you were saying.”
“I fear what is going to happen next. How are our subjects going to react all across Equestria? What will they think of us, of me, now that I have failed them?” Celestia was scared, and it frightened Luna to see her in this state.
“Failed? Oh, come now. You didn’t fail anypony,” Luna tried to reassure her sister.
“How can you say that? Of course I failed them! I couldn’t see through that Changeling ruse when it was so obvious!”
“Don’t blame yourself for that! She had everypony fooled.”
“No, not everypony. She didn’t fool Twilight. Twilight knew she was a fake, and she was just going by what she remembered about her from when she was just a foal. I’ve known Cadance her whole life, Luna. Her whole life!” The tears were starting to form again in elder sister’s eyes. Luna opened her mouth, but she couldn’t think of anything to say to refute what her sister said. “I even let that creature get the better of me. Normally, she wouldn’t have stood a chance against me. I was so confident that I could have easily subdue her that I ended up forgetting the fact that she had fed of Shining Armor for so long that she had become unnaturally more powerful than what she supposed to be! I ended up cocooned upside down from the ceiling and I had to delegate my responsibility to protect Equestria to six mares that I’ve already asked so much from! If I had only listened to Twilight, then this would have never have happened!”
Luna didn’t know what to do, for it was truly a rare sight to see Princess Celestia so inconsolable. “Don’t place all of the blame upon yourself. Don’t forget, I was asleep through the entire ordeal.”
“Sorry, I just had to let it all out,” Celestia said as she recollected herself. “But still, we are faced with a problem. Our subject will be terrified by the news of the attack, and they will also hear how I was defeated by the Queen. They’ll lose faith in us and in our ability to defend them. Even now, they are losing faith in us.”
“What do you mean?”
“Earlier today, I overheard a few servants say that they questioned my ability to protect our kingdom and that I couldn’t even recognize an imposter.”
“We are not failures, especially you,” reassured Luna. “The ponies of Equestria forget that we are not perfect. They cannot comprehend the weight of the responsibility that we bear; all of the hard choices we have to make, the matters that we have to attend to, and the things we have to oversee. We can only do so much, and we always do the best that we can for our kingdom.”
“You’re right, but it doesn’t change the fact that we have a problem before us. I’ve made a grave mistake and I have to do something about before more damage is done.”
“Yes, but that will have to wait until tomorrow,” Luna said as she rose from the bed and headed towards the door. “As for now, rest, my sister. As always, I will guard the night.”
Earlier that day, a group of ponies and a dragon were walking to the train station in Canterlot. Well, most of them were walking. The dragon was riding on the back of a purple unicorn’s back, a pink earth pony was bouncing along the path, and a cerulean pegasus was hovering over them.
“Boy howdy, that was some weddin’,” said an orange earth pony wearing a Stetson hat as the group entered the train that would take them back to Ponyville.
“No kidding,” agreed the blue pegasus as she swooped into the cabin. She then found her seat by a window and placed her hooves behind her head as she reclined. “Ponies will talk about it for years! Especially after that Sonic Rainboom that I pulled off.”
“Now Rainbow Dash. Your performance was indeed spectacular, but it was Princess Cadance and Shining Armor’s big day,” a posh, white unicorn slightly scolded. A small, smug smile formed on her lips. “Besides, who could forget about those magnificent dresses?”
“Yeah, yeah, Rarity. The dresses were nice and everything,” Rainbow responded nonchalantly. The others also found their seats and waited for the train to depart. The pink pony was bouncing up and down on her seat.
“Don’t forget about the awesome reception party! Woo hoo! I don’t think I’ve ever been to such a big party! Except maybe for the Grand Galloping Gala, but that wasn’t as fun as this one. It may have had more ponies there, but it was nowhere near as fun,” the pinky pony quickly rambled.
“Yeah Pinkie, it was thousand times better than the gala,” the young, purple dragon agreed. He then frowned a bit. “But why didn’t anypony tell me that the Bachelor Party was supposed to be before the wedding?”
The ponies got a good laugh from this. No one actually assigned the dragon to host a bachelor party; he was just supposed to be the ring bearer. He kind of took on the “bachelor party host” by himself, because he thought it was his job as a male to do so.
“Oh Spike, give it a rest,” laughed the purple unicorn.
“But Twilight, how can you have a wedding without a bachelor party?”
“Spike, not everyone has a bachelor party. Don’t worry about it,” his caretaker reassured him. Despite this, he felt like he missed out on it. The train lurched forward a bit as it began to move. Spike felt an itch on his back. It was one of the ones that you get in-between the shoulder blades that you just can’t reach. That didn’t stop him from trying.
“Oh, I can’t wait to get home. Angel must have missed me so much,” worried the timid, yellow pegasus.
“Ah know what you are talkin’ about, Fluttershy,” Applejack agreed. “Big Mac and Granny Smith will be glad to have me an’ Apple Bloom back. Even though there was a weddin’ doesn’t mean the work can stop.”
Little Apple Bloom moaned a bit. She knew it was back to doing her chores as soon as she got home. She felt a little envious of her friends; Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle. They didn’t live on a farm like her, so they have as many chores as she did.
“Yes, work never seems to stop, does it? Life must go on,” Rarity remarked. “And I too must get back to my Opal.”
“Haven’t you got that itch yet?” Twilight was slightly annoyed that Spike hadn’t stop scratching himself. The dragon was starting to become frantic over the insurable sensation.
“Darling, it isn’t very proper to scratch one’s self like that in public,” Rarity instructed.
“I’m sorry. It’s just that…I can’t…seem to…get it…”Spike explained between scratches. Rainbow Dash got up and flew over to the afflicted dragon.
“Don’t worry, I got it.” She turned him around and rubbed her hooves over his back along his spines. He sighed with relief and slouched over.
“Thanks, Dash.” He sat back into his seat as she returned to her own.
The group sat quietly for a few moments as they reflected back on the events of the past few days. Twilight Sparkle had learnt that her brother was getting married, thought that her old foalsitter had become evil, thought she was abandoned by her brother, her friends, and teacher, was trapped by the Changeling Queen in an underground prison, rescued Cadance, exposed the evil queen, fought Changelings, prepared an actual wedding, and see it through all within a couple of days! It made her head spin just to think about. It was an emotional roller-coaster for everypony.
The train arrived in Ponyville a little while later. The group of friends exited the train and made there way off of the platform.
“Well come along, Apple Bloom. We best be getting’ home.” The farm pony headed off towards Sweet Apple Acres.
“Right, Sis. See ya’ll later Crusaders!” the yellow filly with a bow in her mane called back to friends as she followed her big sister.
“See ya, Apple Bloom. Later Sweetie Belle,” Scootaloo said as she hopped onto her scooter. The orange pegasus then sped off down the street.
“Bye girls,” Sweetie Belle said in return. The unicorn filly with the two-toned mane then trotted off behind her sister, Rarity.
“I’ll see you girls later.” Rarity then led Sweetie Belle back to Carousel Boutique, her fashion store that doubled as her home.
“Catch ya later.” Rainbow took to the sky and sped out of sight.
“See you later, everypony! I gotta tell the Cakes how the wedding went. They’ll want to hear all about it.” Pinkie trotted happily away still talking to herself.
“Okay then, see you later girls. Bye Twilight. Bye Spike.” Fluttershy then floated off towards her cottage on the edge of the Everfree Forest.
“Bye Fluttershy. Come on, Spike. Let’s head home.” Twilight headed back to Golden Oaks Library with Spike following behind her. As they walked back to their home, Spike reached his hand around to scratch at his back.
“You’re not going anywhere,” the three bridesmaids threatened with their eyes glowing green. Twilight backed away from the advancing mares. She turned to Cadance to see if she had any ideas, but she was struck with alarm when she saw that the bride to be was replaced by a towering figure with a black carapace and a croocked horn. Its legs were riddled with holes and its mane and wings were a translucent blue. The figure laughed with malice and Twilight jumped back from it. She turned to flee, but she came face to face with her best friends.
“Oh thank goodness you’re here. We got to…” The words died in Twilight’s throat as saw her friends smirk menacingly at her. Their eyes too were glowing green.“No! Not you too!”
“Yes…” the five ponies and the dragon droned in monotone voices. Twilight looked around and found a gap between the two groups that were closing in at her. She tried to run through it, but it was block off by another group. Her mentor, Princess Celestia, and her sister, Princess Luna, stood before her. Like the others, their eyes glowed and had such evil grins on their faces that she didn’t know was possible. She turned to run in the other direction, but that way was blocked too.
“Shining Armor, Mom, Dad…” Twilight sobbed as her family closed in on her. She fell to the floor of the cave weeping as the figure laughed at her despair.
“Alright, Apple Bloom. Let’s get these apples back to the farm.” Applejack was loading the last basket of apples on to the wagon. She looked up to look for her sister when she didn’t respond. The filly was by her side only a moment ago. She scanned her eyes around the orchard, but she still couldn’t she her.
“Apple Bloom? Apple Bloom! Where’d you run off to?” She groaned in agitation, but she went ahead and hitched herself to the wagon and started pull the wagon back to farm. As she was making her way past the fields, she noticed that Big Macintosh wasn’t there. That wasn’t unusual, but the fact that his plow was there by itself was. Big Macintosh always puts the farming tools away when he is done with them. By the looks of things, it seems like he just disappeared when he was halfway done plowing the field. Applejack was confused by these strange turn of events.
The blonde pony reached the barn and opened its large doors. She froze in mid-stride when she saw what was inside. Green cocoons were hanging from the ceiling of the barn, and there were ponies inside. She could see the figures of Granny Smith, Big Macintosh, and Apple Bloom floating upside down inside them. Next to them, she noticed other cocoons. They contained Twilight, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie. There were still more; Spike, the mayor, Lyra, Derpy, Cheerilee,…it seemed like all of Ponyville was there!
“This can’t be happenin’! It just can’t!” Applejack shouted in disbelief.
“But it is, Applejack,” a group of monotone voices called from behind her. She spun around to see her friends and family blocking to doorway of the barn. Applejack was about to ask how were there two sets of them, but in a green flash, they transformed into black monsters and pounced at her.
Rarity was struck with inspiration and had to act on it immediately. Fabrics were levitated across the room by her magic as she worked on her last piece. She stepped back to observe her latest creation. The dress was magnificent, but now she needed a model to wear it. The dress was designed for a filly, and she knew just the filly to try it on. Sweetie Belle fortunately wasn’t to be leaving to go home to their parents until another day. Rarity went down the hall to the guest bedroom which was most often used as Sweetie Belle’s when she came to visit.
“Sweetie Belle, could I ask you to model a dress for me?” she asked as she knocked on the door, but there was no answer. She knocked again, but there still was no reply. “Sweetie Belle? Sweetie Belle, are you there?”
Rarity opened door and walked in. The room was pitch-black. Rarity was about turn on the lights, but the door slammed behind her. She let out a yelp at the sudden noise, and she stumbled about in total darkness.
“W-what’s going?” she asked in panic. She then heard a low chuckle, and the fear grew in her heart.
“Generosity…” the voice hissed. “What’s so generous about you?”
“W-who are you? What’s the meaning of this?” Rarity tried to look for the source of the voice, but she couldn’t see anything in the darkness.
“You only care about yourself,” the voice judged. “Everything has to be about you.”
“That’s not true!” Rarity tried to defend herself from her unseen prosecutor.
“Oh really? Then were you when your friend, Twilight Sparkle, needed you the most?” The voice let out another cruel laugh. “You were too preoccupied on your silly little dresses to see that your friend was right all along.”
“I…I just thought…” the fashionista attempted to justify herself, but the voice cut her off again.
“Thought what? That Twilight was over reacting again? That she was being overly protective of her brother? Haven’t you learned to trust her yet? To take her concerns seriously? As I recall, it was you who facehoofed when she came running into the chapel to stop the ceremony.” The voice had a point. Rarity was ashamed and embarrassed by her friend when she thought that Twilight was again trying to stop the wedding. Rarity tried to think of something to say in her defense, but the voice spoke before she could come up with anything. “Some Element of Generosity you are. You walked out on your friend right after she was disowned by her brother! A truly generous pony would have comforted their friend, but what did you do?”
Rarity was silent.
“What did you do?” the voice asked again, but Rarity remained silent. She couldn’t speak because her tears robbed her of her voice. “Say it…Say it….SAY IT!”
“Nothing! I did nothing to help her!” Rarity screamed through her tears. The voice laughed at her cries. “Who are you!? Show yourself!?”
The lights came on, and Rarity stood face to face with herself. Her doppelganger laughed louder and louder as Rarity collapsed to the floor crying.
Rainbow Dash was napping on a cloud over Ponyville; her favorite past time. However, the pleasant nap quickly when the cloud she was on suddenly disappeared. The pegasus awoke to find herself falling down an abyss. She yelled in terror and tried to flap her wings to stop her fall. Her terror grew when she looked behind her and saw that her wings were missing. She looked around for anything, but she saw that she was falling down a hole.
“Not loyal, not loyal, not loyal,” a voice chanted as she fell. She finally landed at the bottom of the pit. She was surprised that she wasn’t splattered on the floor. She noticed that the hole was gone and that she was standing in the middle of Golden Oaks Library. She also noticed that Spike was there too. He was scratching at his back again.
“Here, let me help you with that,” she offered. The young dragon looked up at her and Rainbow jumped at what she saw. His eyes were more snake-like. His forked tongue flickered as he hissed at her. “Whoa, hey Spike. It’s me!”
The dragon hissed again and scurried out of sight up the stair to the bedroom. A second later, Twilight appeared at the top of the stairs. She glared at Rainbow Dash as she descended down the steps.
“Not loyal,” she said icily. Her horn glowed magenta with magical energy. A book went flying at Rainbow’s head, which she barely managed to dodge.
“Hey what was…whoa!” Another book went zooming by her head, then another, and another. Soon, Rainbow was being bombarded by books.
“Not loyal, not loyal, not loyal,” was all that she heard as she was being buried by a tomb of books.
Pinkie was in Paradise. She was at a party that dwarfed the Grand Galloping Gala by a hundredfold. Everyone she ever knew was there and she was standing in the middle of the dance floor with everypony cheering her on as she danced.
“Go, Pinkie, go!” they all cheered. Pinkie was grinning so hard that she felt like her face was going too spilt. Everything was going great, and everyone was happy. Pinkie closed her eyes, because her grin forced them closed.
Then Pinkie noticed something was wrong. The laughter had ceased. She opened her eyes to find that her friends were gone. In their place was a legion of Changelings.
“No, don’t stop,” a voice called out from the crowd. Queen Chrysalis stepped forward to face the party pony. A look of genuine glee was on her face. “Your love of laughter and of your friends is feeding us so well.”
“Yes, go on! Go on!” the Changelings cheered on.
“Where are my friends? What did you do with them?” Pinkie trembled as she desperately searched for her friends’ face amongst the crowd of insect-like faces.
“Come on, let’s party! Let’s sing! Let’s dance!” the mob demanded. They started to close in on her.
“Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity!” she called out as she was being swamped by the endless crowd that was still demanding her to party.
“What’s that!? Who’s there!?” Fluttershy cried out in panic as ran aimlessly in the Everfree Forest. She was hopelessly lost in the dense forest, and she hears noises approaching her. Dark figures appeared from out the trees. The looked like ponies, but she still couldn’t make out who they were. As they came closer, she noticed that weren’t ponies at all! It was the Changelings! Fluttershy screamed and ran away as fast as she could from the creatures.
Fluttershy came across the opening of a cave. It was dark and menacing, and she trembled at the thought of entering it. However, it was either enter the cave or face her pursuers. With a whimper, she ran inside. The cave was dark, but she noticed a light in the distance. With renewed hope she ran towards it. That hope was quickly shattered when she came to a large chamber filled with cocoons. She saw that Pinkie Pie was in one of them and that the rest of her friends were in a line waiting for their turns. They didn’t move at all, and their eyes glowed green. Rainbow Dash was next, and then Applejack was also cocooned. Fluttershy was paralyzed with fear as she watched the Changelings cocoon Rarity. Right before Twilight Sparkle was cocooned, she slowly turned her head towards Fluttershy. Tears wear streaming down from her glowing, green eyes.
“Help us…Fluttershy,” Twilight managed to say in a hollow voice before being cocooned.
Six ponies awoke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and with tears in their eyes.
Sunlight shone through the window of Twilight Sparkle’s bedroom. However, the unicorn had been awake for hours, and it showed. She had bags under her eyes and her hair was a mess. She hadn’t been able to fall back asleep since she awoke from the nightmare she had last night. When she awoke, she cautious looked around room while hiding halfway under the covers of her bed. She would feel silly for acting like a little foal again, but this dream caused her to throw all rational thought out of the window.
She sat there in her bed, debating whether should she get up and go about her normal routine or to try to catch up on the lost sleep. Ultimately, she chose to get out of bed. She made her bed and started to head toward to the stairs. As she walked, she noticed that Spike was still curled up with his blanket in his basket. She had always felt a little guilty for making her number one assistant sleep in a basket at the foot of her bed.
The purple unicorn walked down the stairs and then entered the kitchen to prepare breakfast. She pulled two bowls from the cabinets and filled one with oats. The other one she filled with a few gems for Spike. She placed the bowls on the table and headed back upstairs to wake the baby dragon. She walked over to the dragon and was going to gently shake him to wake him up.
“I’m awake,” he said before she even touched him. It surprised her to see him up this early.
“For how long?” she asked. He rolled over to reveal that he too had bags under his eyes.
“All night,” he confessed. He looked at her shabby appearance. “You look terrible.”
“You don’t look too good yourself,” she retorted with a snort.
“I didn’t sleep well. I had a bad dream.”
“Oh?” What were the chances that they both lost sleep over nightmares last night? “What did you dream about?”
“I don’t really want to talk about it,” he said with an upset look. Twilight was concerned, but she knew what might cheer him up.
“Hey, how about we go down to Sugarcube Corner later. Maybe the Cakes can make you another sapphire cupcake, or maybe an emerald cupcake.” Her offer did seem to raise his spirits. He smiled and his eyes did light up, in spite of the sleep deprivation.
“Yeah, that sounds great!” he exclaimed as he hopped out of his basket. Twilight was happy to see the improvement in his demeanor and they both went downstairs for breakfast.
“Spike, slow down!” Twilight scolded as the dragon inhaled the bowl of gems. “You’re going to make yourself sick!”
“I can’t help it! I’m starving!” Spike had just finished his third bowl of gems and was headed to the pantry where they kept the gems to get more.
“If you keep eating like this, you won’t have room for that cupcake.”
“Actually, I feel like I could eat Tom!” the dragon exclaimed.
“Tom?” Twilight asked while raising a brow.
“Yeah, you remember. Rarity’s boulder that she thought was a diamond,” he reminded the unicorn as he was about to fill his bowl again. He was stopped when a magenta aura surrounded the bowl and pulled it from his grasp. “Hey, give it back!”
“No Spike. At this rate, you’ll eat them all before noon.” She cleared the table and put away their dishes.
“Humph. Fine, but we’re still going to Sugarcube Corner today.”
“Yes, yes. But first, I have to do some research,” she said heading out of the kitchen.
During her studies, she looked for everything she could find about Changelings. She couldn’t get that nightmare out of her head. She wondered how Cadance and Shining Armor were doing on their honeymoon. Scratch that, she didn’t want to think about it too hard. Speaking of scratching, her scaly assistant was busy trying to reach that spot on his back. Twilight wonder if he maybe had a rash or something. Whatever what was going on, it was disrupting her research.
“Spike, do you mind? I’m trying to read.” The unicorn looked up from her pile of books to look at the itchy dragon.
“It’s that spot again. It just won’t stop itching,” the grunted as he tried to reach said spot. Twilight shook her head at his antics. He looked at her with the best sad puppy dog face he could muster. “Could you…”
“Oh no,” Twilight declined, feeling a little disgusted at the thought of scratching the dragon’s back. After a few more seconds of him begging with that face, she sighed and conceded. The dragon came over to her and she took a look at his back. She was surprised to see two red spots on his back on either side of his spines. “Spike, you scratch yourself so much that you left red marks on your back.”
“Well, could you scratch them? They itch like crazy,”
“It’s best not to. It might make it worse.” She looked over at the clock on the wall and saw that it was almost lunchtime. “Come on, let’s go to Sugarcube Corner. I believe that I owe certain itchy dragon a cupcake.”
When they arrived at the bakery, they noticed that the most of their friends were there. The only pony missing was Rainbow Dash. Twilight also noticed that everypony seemed so grim. Like her, they all looked like they hadn’t got a good sleep last night. This bothered her.
What’s going on? First, Spike and I both had a lousy night’s sleep, and now it looks like everypony had one too. Twilight sat down at the table beside Applejack. “Wow. Looks like everyone here had a rough night’s sleep. Is everyone okay?”
“To be honest with you, ah didn’t quite have pleasant dreams last night,” the cowpony sighed. Fluttershy meekly nodded her head in agreement. Rarity’s perfectly styled mane seemed to be tad frazzled. Pinkie Pie was unnaturally silent, and her poofy mane seemed to be a little flat.
“We didn’t either,” Twilight spoke for herself and Spike. Spike mood returned to how it was this morning after being reminded of his dream. Mrs. Cake walked in from the kitchen and noticed that Twilight and Spike had joined the melancholy group.
“Hello Twilight. Hello Spike. Can I get you anything?” she asked compassionately.
“Oh, well I was wonder if you had any gemstone cupcakes,” Twilight asked the blue earth pony with a swirly pink mane.
“Hhhmmm...I think I could whip one in a moment. I assume it will be for Spike.” The baker looked over at the dragon and gave him a smile to see if that would help cheer him up. “Any preferences? At the moment, we’ve got a few sapphires left over from your birthday. I think we might have a few rubies and emeralds. Ever since the two of you moved here, we try to keep a few gems in supple for everypony’s favorite dragon.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Cake. How about emerald this time?” the dragon smiled a bit. She happily nodded and headed back to make him his cupcake. The happy moment quickly faded and everyone was sad again.
“Huh, I wonder where’s Rainbow D…” Before Twilight could finish that question, the blue pegasus came flying through the door. Like the others, she also looked like a mess. She also had a newspaper under her front leg.
“You guys are not going to believe this,” she said as she threw down the paper on center of the table. The others curiously looked at the paper that was laid before them, but Rarity picked it up first.
“Surely the wedding has got to be all over the front page,” stated Rarity as she raised the paper to take a closer look at the headlines. She gasped at what she saw.
“I know right!” Rainbow exclaimed as she saw Rarity’s reaction.
“What? What is it,” Twilight asked the shocked the unicorn.
“‘Changelings Invade Canterlot. Equestria Gripped With Terror.’ I can’t believe this!” The fashionista laid the paper back down on the table so that the others could also see. The group huddled around the newspaper, and Rarity continued to read. “‘During the wedding of Princess Mi Amore Cadenza and Captain Shining Armor, the ponies in attendance were shocked to find that the bride was replaced by the Changeling Queen and was planning an invasion right under Princess Celestia’s nose. Eye witnesses report that Twilight Sparkle, the Princess’s personal student, stopped the wedding from proceeding by returning with the rightful bride and exposing the imposter.’”
“‘Under Princess Celestia’s nose?’” quoted Twilight. “I don’t like how they phrased that.”
“Oh, that’s not all! Listen to this! ‘…with the Changeling threat still at large and with the Princess inability to distinguish between an imposter and her own family, citizens all across Equestria are begining to doubt in her ability to properly protect our fair kingdom.’ Can you believe it!?” Rarity was outraged.
“How dare they question the Princess’s ability to govern Equestria,” roared Twilight.
“They’re just rattled. It was quite a dozy,” admitted Applejack. They were silent for a moment, but then Applejack spoke again. “Ah mean, even ah had a nightmare about it last night.”
“Me too,” added Pinkie.
“Same here,” confessed Rainbow Dash.
“I'm glad that I’m not the only one,” said Rarity.
“I-it was so scary,” whispered Fluttershy. She started to tear up and her face was partially hidden her long, pink mane. Applejack instinctively placed a hoof on top of hers to help soothe the yellow pegasus.
“Maybe we should tell each other our dreams,” suggested Twilight. Her friends looked at each other and then nodded. “Very well. Maybe I should start.”
As they took turns telling each other their dreams, everypony was there to comfort each other. After Twilight finished sharing, Applejack went next. Even the steadfast earth pony started to shake as she recounted how she saw her family cocooned in her dream. Pinkie Pie wasn’t her bubbly self as she told her story of how the Changelings were feeding off her love. Rainbow Dash and Rarity were reluctant to share their dreams, so Fluttershy went next. She told them how she was chased into a cave were she witnessed her friends being cocooned one by one by the Changelings.
“And…and then, T-twilight looked at m-m-m-me…” Fluttershy said between sobs. Pinkie had placed a leg around her friend’s neck and held her as she cried. “And her eyes were still glowing. B-but, she was crying. And, and she said ‘help us, Fluttershy.’ And then they cocooned her. Oh, I felt so powerless! I wanted to save you, but I was too scared!”
Rainbow Dash was scowling, and Rarity was wiping the running mascara from her face.
“Rainbow? Rarity?” Twilight looked at two ponies who hadn’t shared yet. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I…I’ll go next,” Rainbow finally said. It pained her to tell Twilight what she saw in dream, and it was uncomfortable to see her face as she told the story. As she was telling her story, she fought back tears the whole time. She wouldn’t dare let her friends see her cry. After she finished, Twilight walked up to her and place a reassuring hoof on her shoulder.
“Oh, Rainbow Dash. I would never say that. You know that, right?” Twilight asked her friend, and the blue pegasus nodded her head. “Sure, it hurt to have all of you walk out on me, but it’s not your fault, any of you. If anything, it was just as much my fault as anypony else’s. I wasn’t exactly presenting my case as well as I could have. I came rushing in making a fool out of myself when I could have calmly spoken to Princess Celestia in private about it. I don’t blame any of you for not believing me. And you are without a doubt one of the most loyal ponies I know. Don’t you dare even think that you’re not.”
Rarity then shared her dream and everypony noticed how it was similar to Rainbow Dash’s. However, unlike everyone else, she didn’t face an external tormentor. Twilight had to face her brainwashed friends and family. Applejack and Pinkie Pie had to face swarms of Changelings. Fluttershy had to watch as Changelings cocooned her friends. Rainbow Dash had to face a friend whom she had betrayed. Rarity had to face herself. She had to face a harsh accusation that was coming from within. The group then took turns to comfort the white unicorn.
“Rarity. You maybe a fussy, prissy pony, but you’ve always came through for us,” said Applejack.
“Yeah! I mean, you always were with us, even when things got dirty. Remember the time Applejack ran away to Dodge Junction and we were stranded in the desert?” Pinkie’s mane had inflated again from being with her friends, cheering each other up.
“How could I forget? It took me forever to get all that dust out of my mane,” Rarity dryly recollected. They all laughed at the memory and embraced each other in a group hug. Twilight looked from the circle of hugging ponies over to Spike, who was finishing off his cupcake. He still seemed upset. She had almost forgotten about is dream.
“Spike? Do you want to share with us?” Twilight asked her little friend, concerned. The others noticed his sour expression and they turned their attention to him. He didn’t say anything, but he finished off the last remaining piece of emerald.
“It’s all right, sugar cube. You can tell us,” reassured Applejack. Spike looked up from the table to look at his friend, and then he sighed as he looked down again.
Spike watched in fear as he saw what he had thought was Princess Candance transforming into a horrible insect-like creature. He then watched as Princess Celestia fall to the chapel floor after being hit by the monster’s attack. He watched as his dear friends run off to get the Elements of Harmony, just to see them be dragged before the Changeling Queen. He watched as the queen gloated over them.
The scene then changed. He was now watching Nightmare Moon announced her return. Then he found himself in the middle of Ponyville as an angry Ursa Minor rampaged through the town. Then he was watching as his friends ran off to try and convince a sleeping dragon to leave. The scenes continued to flow. He saw the parasprites eating Ponyville, the Diamond Dogs kidnapping Rarity, the battle between the buffalo and the settler ponies, the angry dragon who’s gems he had been eating, Discord mocking the failed attempt to defeat him, the aftermath of his birthday rampage, his friends beating the Flim Flam Brothers, the teenage dragons about to pound him into the ground, and so on.The images faded and Spike found himself alone.
“Useless. I’m so useless,” he lamented to himself.
Spike was crying as he finished sharing his nightmare with the six mares. The ponies looked at him with sympathy.
“Oh, Spike. You’re not useless,” said Twilight as she tried to calm him, but he cut her off.
“Weren’t you listening to me? Of course I am!” he shouted. “Every time trouble comes, I can’t do anything to help! Where was I when Nightmare Moon showed up? Asleep! Where was I when you were fighting Discord? Belching up letters! Where was I when the Changelings were taking over Canterlot? Standing there doing nothing!”
Twilight walked over to the dragon and took him into her forelegs. For a minute, she didn’t say anything. She just held him in her embrace. The others joined her in hugging him. Twilight then grasped each side of his face and lifted his head up so that they were looking eye to eye.
“Spike, listen to me. You are not useless,” Twilight declared as she tried to soothe him. “You are anything but useless. You must remember; you are a baby dragon. We can’t expect to throw yourself into harm’s way, nor do we want you to. We care about you, and we don’t want anything bad happen to you.”
Spike sniffed as the tears fell from his face to floor. Despite her kind words, he still felt guilty for not being able to help fight against the Changelings. He could have done something. Anything would have been better than standing by in fear and doing nothing! He could have breathed fire on that overgrown bug when she wasn’t looking or something like that.
“Yeah, Spike. You always help us out,” said Applejack.
“Of course! Besides, you’re always helpful when you come over to the boutique. And I have never met a better jewel digger in all of my life. You’re my Spikey-Wikey,” doted Rarity.
“And you stood up to those jerk dragons. That took guts.” Rainbow poked his belly to emphasize her point.
Their group therapy session ended with another hug and they all left the bakery together, sharing happy stories with each. As they left, Rarity discarded the newspaper with the article about the Changeling invasion. As they were walking, Spike thought to himself.
I know what they said was true, but still fill so helpless. Why do I have to be so pathetically small? Why can’t I do more? Spike scratched at his back again.
A few weeks have passed since the Royal Wedding. In that time, the Crystal Empire had return along with its inhabitants. Through the efforts of the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony and their friends, the evil unicorn, King Sombra, had been slain and the power of unity was able to be reflected across Equestria. Not only were the Crytsal Ponies safe, but harmony was able to return to the troubled citizens of Equestria. The ponies saw how determined the Regal Alicorns Sisters were to save the Crystal Empire, and they saw how quickly they reacted to the situation. Also, the Sisters had increased security throughout the kingdom to help prevent another invasion from the changelings. This renewed the faith of the citizens in their leaders.
Twilight Sparkle and her friends were doing better, too. Their nightmares had ceased, and Spike had seemed to overcome his feelings of uselessness. Being declared a hero can do wonders for one’s self esteem. He has even stopped scratching his back. However, his itch has developed into a throbbing pain on his back that comes at sporadic intervals, and his appetite has increased. Twilight wanted to take him to see a doctor, but she doubted that they could help due to the incident during Spike’s birthday. Despite this, everything else seemed to be returning to normal and everypony was happy.
Well… almost everpony.
A gray, spectacled unicorn was pacing back and forth in a highly decorated lounge in a Canterlot mansion. His wife, a pale olive unicorn, was reclining on a sofa trying reading a newspaper. However, her husband’s nonstop pacing was getting on her nerves.
“Jet Set! Would you please sit down!? You’re making me dizzy,” she complained to her anxious husband. Jet Set didn’t seem to notice Upper Crust’s complaint and only seemed to pace faster. Another unicorn was standing out on a balcony observing the night sky, seemingly not to be paying attention to the social climbing couple.
“What are we going to do now!?” Jet Set growled. “A few weeks ago, everypony was calling out for Celestia’s removal, and now, their worshipping her again! Our plan is ruined!”
“Calm yourself, Jet Set,” called the unicorn that was standing on the balcony. “Our plan isn’t ruined, it’s just… altered.”
“But, everypony loves Celestia again! This whole Crystal Empire business seems to have covered up the Changeling Invasion. Did everypony just forget about that!?”
“Ponies are simple minded foals. They are quick to worship their heroes during the good times, and quick to abandon them at the first sign of fault.”
“But what are we going to do now?” asked Upper Crust, looking up from the newspaper. “I mean, we can’t use our connections with the press now. If we say anything against her now, we will lose any support that we have left.”
“Just you wait, just you wait,” reassured the unicorn the balcony. “True, their victory in the Crystal Empire has changed things, but our plan isn’t ruined. They have just have been altered a bit. In fact, we are almost ready to take the step.” Almost on cue, the door opened and an earth pony butler with a balding mane and a moustache walked in. The unicorn on the balcony turned to see the new arrival and smiled as soon as it noticed that the butler was carrying a package. “Ah, right on time.”
“This just arrived for you from your agents in the north,” the butler announced as he placed the package on the coffee table in front of Upper Crust. The wealthy mare looked at the delivery with curiosity and set her paper down to take a closer look.
“Thank you, Manesworth. That will be all,” dismissed the unicorn as it walked in from the balcony.
“Very well,” said the butler as he bowed and then exited the lounge. Jet Set had ceased his pacing and joined his wife on the sofa. Their host now stood by the table and grinned with triumph over the package. The package glowed with a magical aura as it was lifted from the table and the wrapping was removed.
“What is that?” Jet Set asked as he saw the box open, revealing its contents.
“This, my friends, is the key to Celestia’s downfall,” gloated the host.
“Yes, but what is that thing?” asked Upper Crust, looking quite disturbed. “I-It looks like a…”
“A horn,” finished the host as it levitated the object in the air, admiring it. The horn had once belonged to a unicorn, and it disturbed Upper Crust to see somepony’s severed horn floating in front of her. Also, this horn was unlike any other she had seen. It was red and it was curved.
“This is the horn of the late King Sombra of the Crystal Empire,” explained the unicorn levitating the horn. “Ever since I learned about the Crystal Empire, I researched as much as I could.”
“But who was this King Sombra?” inquired Jet Set. The host just rolled its eyes.
“Honestly, doesn’t anypony study history anymore?” the host huffed. “Over a thousand years ago, King Sombra used his dark power to enslave the crystal ponies and their empire in the north. He was overthrown by Celestia and Luna, but not before he made the empire vanish. As you know, the empire returned, and so did King Sombra. But, Cadance was able to use the Crystal Heart to channel the love and unity of the crystal ponies and destroy him.” The couple listened with amazement at the story, but they had questions.
“Wait, how does this King Sombra’s served horn help us?” questioned Jet Set.
“Ah, I was getting there,” continued the host. “I was told that King Sombra was shattered into oblivion when struck by the power of the Crystal Heart. Funny, this is the first time that I can think of when somepony who was threatening Equestria was killed. Nightmare Moon was banished to the moon and then stripped of her dark powers when she returned. Discord was imprisoned in stone both times he plagued Equestria. The changelings were simply expelled from the kingdom.” The unicorn took a moment to ponder this, but soon brushed it off. “Anyway, I also learned that a piece of King Sombra’s horn had begun to overcome the Crystal Empire, even though it was separated from the rest of him. When I learned that he was shattered across the Artic North, I sent my agents to cover what they could find.
“What they had found at first wasn’t useful at all. They were only finding shards of his dark crystal magic, which was quickly evaporating into nothing. Any pieces of King Sombra himself also were fading away. But, I knew that if even a piece of him could survive, it would be his horn. A few days ago, they informed me that they had found it, but it was embedded in dark crystals that had formed around it and that it would take some time to free it. But now, it’s finally mine. Those foals. By destroying him, they practically delivered the instrument of their downfall to me.” The rich couple looked to each other, unsure about the other unicorn’s intentions.
“So what do you plan on doing with it?” doubtfully asked Jet Set. “Do you plan on using its dark magic to take on the princesses? You just said that King Sombra was originally overthrown by them. So how are the remnants of his power going to overthrow them when the whole of him couldn’t?”
“As mighty as he was, he was also foolish,” explained the unicorn. “His power is over misery, hate, and fear. Yet, he only used it to drain the will from the crystal ponies. He was so focused of dominating that he neglected to gather supporters and relied only on his own power. Because of this, he was alone when was challenged by the princesses. However, we will use its power to once again sow discontentment amongst the populace.”
With this revelation, Upper Crust and Jet Set were immediately excited. They looked at each other with devious grins of renewed hope in their scheme. Their host carefully inspected the horn.
“So, how do we use…” Before the mare could ask her question, the host had stabbed the curved horn into its own heart. Jet Set gasped in shock, and Upper Crust shrieked in terror, but, to their surprise, the unicorn didn’t show any signs of pain. No blood fell from the wound. In fact, the unicorn didn’t appear to be injured at all. The horn seemed to be melting into the body of the unicorn. The unicorn was using its magic to merge the horn into itself. After the horn had been completely enveloped into the unicorn, the unicorn staggered a bit. Its face with contorted with discomfort. After a moment, the grimace of discomfort changed into a grin of sinister delight. Black energy crackled around the horn of the unicorn, and it opened its eyes to reveal that they were glowing green with red irises.
“I think it is about time for us to hold another charity ball,” the unicorn menacingly chuckled.
It was another typical day in Ponyville. Celestia’s sun was shining, the sky was a beautiful azure, and the pegasi had placed fluffy, white clouds over the town. Everypony was going about their daily business. Applejack was, of course, tending to the apple orchards. Fluttershy was currently helping a bird who had hurt its wing. Rainbow Dash was showing off some of her new tricks to the Cutie Mark Crusaders. While Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom were impressed, Scootaloo was bursting with enthusiasm. Twilight Sparkle was currently writing a paper on the study of pre-classical runes. Pinkie Pie was hosting a birthday party for a colt in Sugarcube Corner.
Twilight Sparkle had given Spike some time off, so naturally he was at Carousel Boutique helping Rarity. Spike was acting as a mobile pincushion following the mare of his dreams as she assembled another outfit.
“Hhhmmm… oh yes, that looks divine! Now, how about… perhaps… Spike, could you please fetch me the purple sash over on the table?” Rarity asked the young dragon as she evaluated her progress. Spike immediately ran to the table littered with various materials on it, searching for the requested sash. He found it, but he also found that it was under a sleeping, white Persian cat. Spike grunted in frustration, because he knew that Opalescence was a stubborn cat and wouldn’t relinquish the sash without a fight.
“Okay, Opal. We can do this the easy way or the hard way,” Spike address the cat. The cat just yawn at him and turned her back towards him. Spike sighed, “The hard way it is.”
Rarity was humming to herself as she placed a necklace on the mannequin when Spike had returned with the sash. As she turned to take the sash from him, she was slightly surprised at what she saw. Spike was hold the sash neatly folded in his arms, but he had an angry, hissing cat clinging on to the side of his face scratching at his scales. Spike didn’t look very amused.
“Oh, Opal. Get down from there at once,” she ordered her foul-tempered cat. The unicorn’s horn glowed with a blue aura was she used her magic to simultaneously remove her cat from the dragon’s face and to take the sash from the dragon’s arms. The cat was placed on the floor, which then walked away in a huff to find a new napping spot. “I’m terribly sorry about that, Spike. Are you alright?”
“Nah, don’t worry about. Thick scales, remember,” he said pointing to the pins in his back. Rarity smiled and nodded at his comment at turned back to her work. She was indeed grateful for his thick scales, but today she took extra care where she placed those pins in his back. She had noticed the two marks on his back which Twilight told her that were causing him pain from time to time. She was reluctant to use Spike as a pincushion today, but he insisted that he was fine. “There! All done. Another masterpiece!”
Spike stood beside Rarity as they both admired her finished work. It was a midnight blue dress with silver trim. The purple sash was elegantly draped around it, and an amethyst necklace completed the ensemble. After her final inspection of her dress, Rarity used her magic to tidy up. She pulled the pins one by one out of Spike’s back and returned them to their container. Not long after she had finished cleaning did she notice that Spike was cringing. She was about to brush it off as another of Spike’s sporadic spasms, but then he suddenly cringed again.
“Spike? Are you all right, dear?” she asked, her brows knitted with concern.
“Yeah,” he said with a groan. “It’s just my back again. It…” His words were cut off by a hiss of pain. Rarity stepped forward with increasing worry. She had seen him wince before due to the pain his back, but this time it was different. The intervals between spasms of pain were shortening, and his reaction to them was intensifying. Another spasm struck and Spike was forced to his knees, breathing quickly. Rarity tried to think of what should she do, but her train of thought was disrupted by the sound of a bell ringing. Rarity looked to the front door and saw that the local mailpony had arrived.
“A letter for a Miss Rarity,” the gray pegasus with a blond mane happily announced. She pulled a fancy looking envelop from her bag a presented it to the fashonita.
“Oh, um, could you please leave it on the counter there? I’m kind of busy at the moment.” Rarity couldn’t be bothered with a letter now. The mailmare nodded happily and placed the letter down. As she turned to leave, her wing accidently knocked over one of Rarity’s mannequins.
“Oops, my bad. Let me help with…”
“No, no. It’s fine. I’ll take care of it.”
“Well, okay then. See you later.”
Rarity sighed with relief as the mare left, and then returned her attention to Spike. Before she could ask him how he was doing, the door opened again. Rarity saw her sister and her friends walk in, still in the middle of a conversation.
“…and then Rainbow Dash swooped down and…” the orange pegasus excitedly gabbed.
“Yes, we know, Scootaloo. We were there too,” replied Apple Bloom, a little annoyed. Their talking soon ceased as they saw Spike.
“Hey, Sis. What’s wrong with Spike?” asked Sweetie Belle.
“Oh, well, he…” Rarity didn’t quite know how to answer the girls. Spike’s face was straining in discomfort, and he was on all fours.
“My back…Feels like…something’s cramped up…” Spike groaned in between spasms. It felt like a highly strung coil was trying to unwind itself in his back. Spike couldn’t tell which felt worse; the coiled up feeling or the uncoiling. Oddly enough, he actually felt relief when it tried to stretch itself out, but the stretching felt like it was tearing something. With each spasm, the sensations magnified.
“Girls, I need you to run and get Twi…” Rarity began to say, but she was cut off by a shout of pain from Spike. The four ponies watched Spike with fear and concern as he panted. He would growl as his back stretched, and then quickly gasp afterwards. With only one final groan, he arched his back one last time, and then two wings bursts forth from his back. The four observing ponies gasped with shock. For a moment, Spike stood there on all fours with his new wings extended, blood dripping from them. His eyes rolled back, and he fell unconscious to the floor.
“Spikey-Wikey!” Rarity cried as she ran to the fallen dragon. The three fillies remained where they were, too afraid to move. Rarity ignored the fact that his blood was getting on her coat as she check to see if he was alive. He was breathing, and the blood that was spilt seemed to be only a small amount that was caught between his wings and the surface. However, Rarity was still worried sick.
“I-Is he going to be okay, Sis?” Sweetie Belle timidly asked.
“Yes, I think so,” the elder sister reassured. She looked up from the unconscious dragon to the three frightened Cutie Mark Crusaders. “Sweetie Belle, bring me some wash cloths. Apple Bloom, fetch me a bowl of water. Scootaloo, go and get Twilight.” When the three hesitated, Rarity firmly, but calmly, ordered, “Go now. Hurry!”
“R-Right,” the three said as they sped off. Scootaloo rushed outside, put her helmet on, and raced towards Golden Oaks Library on her scooter. Her little wings buzzed furiously to propel her as fast as she could. Even though it was only a few minutes, it felt like hours to Scootaloo. She felt like Spike’s life depended on her getting his caretaker to him as soon as possible.
“Twilight!” Scootaloo shouted as she rushed into the library. The sudden noise caused Twilight Sparkle to jump and make a large mark with her quill on the parchment that she was writing on.
“Scootaloo! You scared me to half to death. What’s…” Before she could finish, the frantic pegasus ran up to her with a urgent look on her face.
“Come on! We gotta go now! Spike’s hurt! He’s at Rarity’s…” the filly spoke, her words running into each other. Twilight Sparkle’s heart skipped a beat, and her breath was caught in her throat when she heard the words “Spike’s hurt.” The lavender unicorn ran out with the orange filly following her.
When Twilight arrived, she saw Rarity sitting down by Spike, gently cleaning him as Apple Bloom and Sweetie watched on with worried looks. She also noticed that what Rarity appeared to be cleaning were wings. They were little bit larger than Scootaloo’s, and they had green a membrane, like the scales on his belly or his ear-frills. Rarity looked up to her friend with a small smile, even though she was slightly messy. Twilight returned the smile as she walked over to them, and then she turned her attention back to her number one assistant.
“Spike?” she said softly as she gently caressed his head. He stirred a little at her touch and voice.
“…Mommy…” he mumbled half conscious, and then he fell back asleep. Twilight smiled and lifted him carefully onto her back with her magic.
“It’s okay Spike. Let’s get you home, big boy,” she said soothingly as she headed towards the door. When they had left, Rarity began to clean up the mess.
“You girls can run along, now. I’ll tidy up,” Rarity dismissed them as she picked up the soiled wash cloths.
“Wow, we gotta tell everpony ‘bout this!” exclaimed Apple Bloom as the three ran out the door. With the ordeal of Spike growing wings and cleaning, Rarity completely forgot about the letter on the counter.
A well groomed unicorn with a monocle took a sip of his drink and listened as another stallion droned on with his speech about how much he donated to some charity fund. Which charity fund, the monocled pony wasn’t quite sure. The bragging stallion didn’t mention which one. In truth, he didn’t care what it was, along as he was recognized for his “generous” donation. That was one of the reasons why that the listening pony didn’t want to come to this charity ball. It was filled with snobbish ponies from all across Equestria. Normally, he would have just sent a check, since he couldn’t stand being in the presence of the pretentious hosts, Jet Set and Upper Crust. The only reason why he came was because his wife, Fleur de Lis, loved to dance and had insisted that they went. He was really starting to regret that decision, for this current one-sided conversation had been going on for nearly an hour.
“Fancypants, come and dance with me,” asked his pink maned wife.
“Oh, course dear,” Fancypants replied. Turning to the other stallion, he said, “We’ll continue this conversation at another time. Hold my drink for me?” He gave the other unicorn his glass and walked with his wife to the dance floor, not waiting for a reply from the braggart.
“It looked like you needed somepony to save you,” Fleur stated as they waltzed.
“Thank you for that. I wouldn’t have lasted another minute,” he laughed.
“Oh, darling. It’s not that bad.”
“Yes, yes, but I can’t stand some of these ponies. They’re so…fake.”
“Not everypony can be as wonderful as you, you know.” They continued to dance as the band played on. The song was a duet between the piano and the cello.The piano was being played by a brown earth pony stallion, and the cello was being played by a gray earth pony mare with a black mane. The song that they were playing was one of Fleur’s favorites. It was so soft and soothing, like a lullaby. Supposedly, Princess Celestia wrote it herself a thousand years ago in commemoration of her victory over Nightmare Moon. What only a few ponies knew, was that it was in truth a song of morning for Celestia’s loss of her beloved sister.
As they danced, Fancypants observed the other ponies in attendance to the ball. Something odd caught his attention. “Sweet heart, have you noticed something strange?”
“What?” asked Fleur, looking at his perplexed face.
“This ball is supposed to be a charity fund by wealthy ponies all across Equestria.”
“It is, dear,” Fleur said, not seeing his point. “I see some ponies we know from Manehatten, Baltimare, and Fillydelphia. Look, even Prince Blueblood is here.”
“Yes, but what do you notice about them?” questioned the blue maned unicorn. Fleur took a closer look at the partygoers and saw what he did.
“They’re all unicorns,” she observed. It was true, everypony, except the band and the butlers, were unicorns. “Why did Jet Set and Upper Crust only invite unicorns?”
“Hhhmmm…I’m not sure,” Fancypants said with some concern. Something was amiss, and he didn’t like it. After thinking for a moment, a thought came to him, and it disgusted him. “I’ve should have known.”
“They’re Unicorn Supremacists,” muttered the stallion. “Jet Set and Upper Crust are Unicorn Supremacists.”
“What? Oh, come now,” she dismiss. “How could they be supremacists? After all, they’re holding a charity ball for the…oh dear.”
“For the establishment of more schools for gifted unicorns across Equestria,” he finished for her.
“Perhaps we should leave. I don’t feel comfortable here anymore,” she said, looking a little distraught. Fancypants nodded in agreement, and they discreetly headed towards the door. However, their departure didn’t go unnoticed. Jet Set and Upper Crust were watching from the floor above, overlooking the dance floor.
“Fancypants and his wife are leaving,” noted light olive mare.
“It doesn’t matter. There are plenty other influential ponies,” reassured the gray stallion.
“The Element of Generosity isn’t here either.”
“Really? Hhhmmm…Oh well. That’s a little disappointing, but I’m sure we can work around it.”
“Work around what?” asked a third voice.
“Oh, um, the Element of Generosity, Rarity, didn’t show up,” answered Jet Set, a little nervous to see how this news would be received.
“Disappointing, I had hoped that we could have taken care of her tonight,” the third unicorn remarked.
“I was certain that she would have come. I thought that she wouldn’t be able to resist coming to a high profile event like this,” Upper Crust tried to rationalize.
“Never mind that now. The plan is already in progress,” the third unicorn gestured to a fourth unicorn that Jet Set and Upper Crust failed to noticed. The fourth unicorn stood there with a blank expression on face, her eyes glowing green and red. “Go and join the party.” The glow faded from the mare’s eyes, and she walked off like nothing had happened.
“What did you do?” ask Jet Set impressed.
“I’ve been going around all night socializing with ponies, planting thoughts and suggestions in their hearts and minds,” the unicorn smirked. “Thoughts of discontentment and superiority.”
“Did you manage to ‘convert’ Fancypants or his wife to our cause?” asked Upper Crust.
“Unfortunately, no. But I don’t expect to get to everypony here tonight. Just enough to secure our grasp across Equestria,” the unicorn explained as the three looked down at their potential new sleeper agents. “If you will excuse me, I have many more ponies that I simply must ‘talk’ to.”
The couple watched as the third unicorn walked away chuckling to itself. Now, that they were alone, they continued with their own conversation.
“What do you think the next part of the plan will be?” Upper Crust asked her husband.
“I’m not entirely sure, but I think it might have something with the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony,” answered Jet Set. “After all, it seemed like the dual purpose of this ‘charity ball’ was to gather followers and to divide the Elements of Harmony.”
“Divide the Elements?”
“Yes, remember that they can only be used if all the Bearers are in harmony with each other. If we had Rarity under our control, then they would have been incomplete.”
“But Rarity didn’t show up. If the next step is to divide them, how are we going to do it?”
The party was coming to an end, and the unicorns were starting to leave. The band packed up their instruments, and the serving ponies began to clean up. Soon, all of the guests were gone, and the hosts were alone, except for one last guest, who was about to depart.
“So how many ponies did you ‘talk’ to,” asked the wealthy mare as she and her husband escorted their guest to the door.
“Plenty. I made sure that I converted at least ten very influential unicorns from every major city,” reported the unicorn.
“Well, well, well. Someone is a very busy pony,” remarked Jet Set. “I’d say our mission is accomplished for the night.”
“Almost,” replied the unicorn, stopping before they reached door. “There is just one more thing that I have to do.”
The couple exchanged a confused glance, and then they both asked, “And what would that be?” The third unicorn smirked, and there was a brief flash. The door opened and the guest walked out, leaving the couple standing there with their eyes glowing green and red, and a vacant expression on their faces.
The next morning, Twilight Sparkle awoke in her bed. She yawned and stretched her legs, and felts something nestled against her side. She looked down and smiled at the sleeping baby dragon at her side. He hadn’t been awake since his wings sprouted from his back yesterday. Twilight knew he would be frightened and confused from the trauma from the event, so she had laid him beside her in her bed last night for comfort. She reflected back at the time when they still lived in Canterlot. When he was a really small dragon, he would sneak into her bed and curl up against her when he would have a nightmare. Twilight didn’t think much about it then, but with him at her side at the moment, those memories pulled at her heartstrings. To be honest, she missed it.
The front door knock, and a voice called from behind it, “Hey, Twilight. Are y’all awake yet?” The voice belonged to no other than Applejack. The door opened, and the farm pony entered, and it sounded like there were others following her.
“We’re up here,” Twilight called to her visitors softly enough to not disturb the sleeping dragon. Hoof steps echoed as the group walked up the stairs to the bedroom, and the group led by Applejack came through the doorway. The other Bearers of the Elements of Harmony and the Cutie Mark Crusaders stood at the foot of Twilight’s bed.
“Well, would y’all look at that. He really did grow wings,” observed Applejack.
“Aw, yeah! Welcome to the ‘wing club’ big guy,” cheered Rainbow Dash. Applejack shushed the blue pegasus, seeing that Spike is still asleep.
Fluttershy went closer to Spike to take a closer look. “Oh, I hope the poor dear is alright. When the girls told me what had happened, I was so worried.”
“I think he’ll be okay, Fluttershy,” Twilight reassured the yellow pegasus.
“Has he awoken since yesterday?” Rarity asked, staring at the dragon with concern.
“No, not since I came to get him.” Rarity didn’t like that answer.
“Oh, I do hope that he wakes up soon.”
“Don’t worry, Rarity,” said Applejack, placing a hoof on her shoulder. “Ah’m sure he’ll wake up soon. Growin’ wings can’t be the easiest thing to do. He’s probably just tuckered out.”
“He better wake up soon, ‘cause we got to throw him a ‘congratulations, you grew wings’ party!” Pinkie exclaimed. Her voice caused the dragon to stir. The others got quiet and watched the dragon intently. The dragon slowly opened his eyes, blinked a few times, and yawned.
“What happened?” Spiked asked groggily. He looked around, and then he felt something different. He looked back, noticed his new wings, and bolted up wide awake. “Woah!”
“It’s okay, Spike,” Twilight said as she took ahold of his shoulders to calm him. Spike did calm down a bit, but he still was staring at his wings. “I guess this explains that itch you had.”
“I’m so relieved that you’re okay, Spike,” sighed Rarity.
“Yeah, we were so worried yesterday,” Sweetie Belle said.
“We walked in and you were groanin’ and moanin’,” added Apple Bloom.
“Then those wings popped out of ya, and blood went everywhere!” exclaimed Scootaloo. Spike recalled the “groanin’ and moanin’,” but doesn’t quite remember the wings spraying blood everywhere.
“Yeah, I thought you were going die, or something,” Sweetie Belle meekly remarked. Spike looked at everypony’s worried faces, and frown at the fact that he was the cause of such a fuss.
“Don’t worry, I’m fine,” he said. Then he looked back his wings and flapped them a bit, testing them out. They didn’t exactly look like they could get him airborne yet, but he decided to test them out. He took a few steps away from Twilight as to not hit her with his wings, and flapped them as fast as he could. Like he predicted, he didn’t take off like Rainbow Dash would, but he did rise a few feet off of the bed. After a few seconds, it felt like his wings were on fire, and he fell back to the bed, exhausted.
“Woah, take it easy, Spike,” said Rainbow Dash. “Don’t try to do too much too soon.”
“She’s right, Spike. You’ll need to get used to them first,” stated Twilight as she got out of the bed.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I just wanted to test them out,” explained Spike.
“So, are you up to a party?” asked Pinkie expectantly.
“Are you kidding? I’m always up for a party!” This caused Pinkie to cheer and pull her party cannon out.
“Then let’s get this party started!” declared the party pony, launching confetti and steamers all over the room with her cannon. The group laughed as they commenced with the “congratulations, you grew wings” party for the young dragon.
As the others laughed and ate cake, Rarity walked up to Spike. “Spike, may I have a word with you?”
“Of course, Rarity. What is it?” Spike asked. She motioned for them to step inside the kitchen so that they could have a more private conversation. He followed the white unicorn into the kitchen, and when they were alone, he noticed she looked troubled. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“I just wanted to make sure that you were okay,” she explained, still with serious look on her face.
“I said I was alright. Honest, I am,” he tried reassure her.
“Yes, yes, but still. That whole fiasco yesterday really had me scared. All of that blood…”
“Did… did I really bleed everywhere like Scootaloo said?” he asked, a little embarrassed.
“She was exaggerating a bit, but yes, there was some blood. To see my Spikey-Wikey bled like that and to be in some such pain, I didn’t know what to do or what was happening.”
Spike felt guilty to see her that troubled because of him. “I don’t remember what happened after my wings came out. What happened after I blacked out?”
“I had Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom gather some water and some wash clothes, and I sent Scootaloo to fetch Twilight while I cleansed the blood and the fluids off of you,” she explained. Spike blushed with shame and embarrassment at the thought of Rarity cleaning him up. “Twilight then arrived and she brought you home. From what I understand, you remained unconscious from the time you grew wings until just a few minutes ago.”
“I’m sorry that I put you through all of that,” apologized the dragon. Rarity smiled and wrapped a foreleg around him, bringing him into a hug.
“I’m just relieved that you’re okay.”
“Did I make a mess?”
“A little. I did get some blood on me, but I cleaned everything up.”
“It’s okay, no harm done.”
“…Is the dress okay?”
Rarity laughed at his remark. “Yes, the dress is okay. Let’s go get some cake.” They headed back to the party. As Spike entered the room, he froze. His cheeks swelled, and then he let out a belch of green fire. A letter bearing Princess Celestia’s seal materialized from the flame.
“Hey, Twilight!” Spike ran over to the unicorn with the letter. She took it from him with her magic, and began to read it. While she read it, her friend surrounded her, waiting to hear the message. As she read the letter, her eyes widen with surprise.
“It’s from the princess. She says that we have to report to her immediately!” Twilight summarized. Her friends looked at each other with confused expressions.
Princess Celestia paced the floor of the throne room of Canterlot Palace. Watching the anxious solar princess was the former captain of the guard, now the Prince of the Crystal Empire. Though he wasn’t pacing like she was, he was also concerned. The doors of the chamber opened, and the two immediately turned to the six ponies and the dragon that had just arrived.
“Princess Celestia, we’ve received your letter, and…” Twilight Sparkle stopped as she that noticed her elder brother was also there. “Shining Armor?” Excited to see her brother, she ran up to him, nuzzling the stallion.
“Hey, Twiley,” greeted Shining Armor.
“You’re here, too? Princess, what’s going on? Your letter didn’t explain what was…” she began to ask.
The princess held up a hoof to silence her excited student. “Twilight, I’m glad that you all have arrived here safely.”
“Safely?” Twilight said, confused at the alicorn’s words. Her friends shared her confusion. “What’s wrong?”
“Is a there a monster terrorizing Equestria, or something?” asked Rainbow Dash. She then pounded one hoof in the other. “‘Cause I’m ready show teach them not to mess our home!”
“No, Rainbow Dash,” the princess tried to calm the aggressive pegasus. “I have called you all here for your own safety.”
“What do you mean, Your Highness?” asked Applejack. Princess Celestia grew serious at the question.
“I have received a letter from an organization calling themselves ‘the Kingdom of Unicornia’ demanding that I relinquish my crown,” Celestia explained to her subjects.
“What!?” Twilight couldn’t believe that anypony could demand that of the benevolent ruler.
“‘The Kingdom of Unicornia?’” repeated Rarity, tapping her hoof to chin thoughtfully. “Why, isn’t that the name that Princess Platinum wanted to name Equestria?”
“Indeed it is, Rarity. But that’s not all, a threat has been made against all of your lives,” Celestia said grimly. She looked down at the young dragon that was standing beside Twilight. “Even you, Spike.”
“Spike!?” Twilight exclaimed as she instinctively wrapped a protective foreleg around her young charge. “But why?”
“In the letter, they claimed that they were planning to eliminate the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony and the Heroes of the Crystal Empire,” answered Celestia.
“And that’s why I’m here. I want to bring all of you back with me to the Crystal Empire where you’ll be safe,” announced Shining Armor.
“But, who are these ponies? Why are they threatening us like this? Why do they want you to give up you crown?” Twilight asked, becoming steadily more worried by the second.
“I believe that they are unicorns who believe that unicorns are superior to the rest of ponykind, and they also want to subjugate the types of ponies,” theorized Celestia.
“How could anypony be so insensitive!?” gasped Rarity.
“And super-duper mean?” added Pinkie Pie.
“Perhaps they wield the power of darkness,” the regal alicorn thought out loud.
“What do you mean, ‘power of darkness?’” asked Applejack.
“Nightmare Moon and Discord, we used the Power of Harmony to defeat them,” said Twilight, realizing what the princess meant. “The Elements of Harmony have the power to defeat those who would spread disharmony and darkness over Equestria. If they want us gone because of our connection to the Elements, which means they fear their power. Also, the Crystal Heart of the Crystal Empire spreads love and unity across Equestria. By targeting us, it means that they don’t want the power of harmony interfering in their plans to take over the kingdom. ”
“Well, it may be because we’ve saved Equestria before, and they’re afraid we’ll do it again,” suggested Rainbow Dash.
“That may be so, but I doubt that,” Celestia said. “They know who you are, Rainbow Dash.”
“Well, that’s not surprising,” the blue pegasus shrugged. “I bet a lot of ponies know who we are. We did save Equestria a few times.”
“Not exactly. While most ponies know that the Elements of Harmony were used to defeat Nightmare Moon and Discord and that a dragon delivered the Crystal Heart to Cadance, most ponies don’t know that it was you who did this things,” Celestia explained. “Yes, there are windows depicting your triumphs, many saw you at the ceremony acknowledging your achievements, and there are some eye witnesses, but the general public is not aware of all the details.”
“Why not, Princess?” asked Rainbow Dash. “It would be nice to receive the recognition that we deserve. The cheering fans, praising crowds of admirers, ponies coming from all over to see…” Rainbow stopped when she heard Fluttershy whimpering. She looked over to her friend to see that she was terrified of the thought of being surrounded by that many ponies. “Oh, right… Maybe there’s such a thing as too much attention.”
“That’s right, Rainbow Dash. Besides, don’t you remember how you were behavin’ before the whole ‘Mare-Do-Well’ incident,” reminded Applejack. Rainbow groaned, hating to have been reminded of one of her least proud moments. “Don’t want to inflate that ego yours more than it already is.”
“Yes, but that is beside the point,” the princess, trying restore the focus of the situation. “Over the years, there has been a few who were unsatisfied why my rule, and I have even received some threats. However, this is no ordinary threat. Whoever is behind this knows who you all are, and they want you all dead.” Her blunt phrasing of the situation caused the weight of the ordeal to sink in. The group looked at each other with uncertainty and dread. “Now, my little ponies, you must decide now what you are going to do. I can see three options; returning to your homes, going into hiding, or staying here in Canterlot.”
“I say we go and face them head on,” suggested Rainbow Dash.
“Well, if they know who Ah am, then they most likely know ‘bout my family,” Applejack said with growing fear. “If want to get to me, they might try to hurt them! Ah just can’t risk it! Ah’m goin’ home. We’ll look out for each other.”
“I would think that we would be safest in the Crystal Empire,” rationalized Shining Armor. “With Cadance and my protection magic and the Crystal Heart, we’ll be well defended.”
“Ah’m not gonna abandon my home or my family because of some high’n’mighty unicorns are makin’ threats!” the farm pony adamantly declared.
“Applejack, be reasonable!” begged Twilight Sparkle. “Sweet Apple Acres is not the most defendable place in Equestria!”
“What about the rest of Ponyville?” interjected Pinkie. “What if they attack the rest of our friends?”
“Maybe it is best that we did split up?” added Rainbow. “I mean, they can’t get us all if we’re not in one place? They’ll have divide their attention in able find all of us. You guys can hide, and I can look for who’s behind this.”
“Maybe we should pair up?” offered Rarity. “I can stay here in Canterlot with Twilight. She has family here, and I have friends here, too.”
“We have room at home. I’m sure Mom and Dad wouldn’t mind,” Twilight figured.
“Ah kind of like that idea,” Applejack said. “Pinkie can stay with me and my family at the farm.
“Well, who’s coming with me to bust some heads?” asked Rainbow Dash. “You guys can play it safe, but I’m not going to run and hide.”
“But if Twilight and I are in Canterlot, Applejack and Pinkie are at Sweet Apple Acres, Cadance and Shining Armor are in the Crystal Empire, and you running around ‘busting heads,’ where will Fluttershy go?” questioned Rarity. “Darling, would you rather stay with here with us, go with Shining Armor, or go back with Pinkie and Applejack?”
“I really would rather just go somewhere where no pony could find me. Oh, but I couldn’t leave my animals by themselves,” worried Fluttershy.
“Rainbow Dash, might I make a suggestion?” Celestia asked. “Let my soldiers take care of the situation. You can be responsible for looking after Fluttershy.”
“But I…” Rainbow was about to protest, but then she saw how the yellow pegasus was trembling. “Okay, I’ll take care of Fluttershy. Hhhmmm…I know! I just thought of the best place to hide!”
“R-really? Where, Dash?” asked Fluttershy.
“My place!” declared Rainbow Dash proudly.
“Uh, beg pardon, sugar cube. But how is that the best place to hide?” Applejack skeptically asked.
“Yeah, I mean it is just floating over Ponyville,” agreed Pinkie.
“Exactly! It floats! I can just move it anywhere I want,” explained Rainbow Dash. “And since it’s made of clouds, only pegasi can get to it. Heh, I’d love to see some unicorn try to get to us!”
“That’s brilliant, Rainbow Dash,” cheered Twilight, impressed by her friend’s clever idea.
“But what about my animals?” protested Fluttershy.
“Don’t worry, Applejack and I’ll take care of them,” offered Pinkie. “In fact, we can look after all of your pets for you.”
“Well, if it’s not that much trouble…”
“Don’t worry, we’ll be happy to do it for all of y’all,” reassured Applejack.
“Wait, what about Spike?” asked Twilight.
“I could take him with me back to the Crystal Empire,” offered Shining Armor. “I’m certain that the crystal ponies would love to have their hero back.”
Twilight looked down at the dragon with a concerned frown, her foreleg still around him protectively. “Spike, do you want to go with Shining Armor?”
“Yeah, it’ll be fun!” Spike answered enthusiastically. “They love me up there! Besides, it’s a city made out of crystal! All the gems I could eat!” His mouth started to water as he dreamt about an endless buffet of gems and crystals, and the other laughed at his enthusiasm.
“Very well,” stated Princess Celestia as she saw that they had figured out what their next course of action would be. “I have already sent out soldiers to search for any information. I’m also going to have guards assigned to protect you. Captain.” Hearing his princess call for him, a unicorn, wearing armor that designated him as the new Captain of the Royal Guard, entered the throne room and bowed. “I need three sets of guards to be assigned to protect these ponies. One to escort Prince Shining Armor and Spike back to the Crystal Empire, one to escort Applejack and Pinkie Pie back to Ponyville, and another to be assigned to Twilight Sparkle and Rarity. They are to protect them at all cost and at all times.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” the captain said with a bow as he left to carry out the princess’s orders.
“Princess, what about Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy?” asked Twilight Sparkle.
“They are to leave immediately and not to tell anypony where they intend to hind,” she explained. “There is something sinister ahoof, and we need to be careful. If anything does happen, I want you all to go to ‘the place where harmony was discovered’ and wait for me there. Do you understand?” The group thought for a moment, and then they realized the meaning of her words and nodded. “Good. Now go, my little ponies.”
The train was ready to depart from the station at Canterlot. Applejack and Pinkie Pie had departed the previous evening with two guards on the train back to Ponyville. Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash had left the moment Princess Celestia had dismissed them. They flew as fast as they could, or at least as fast as Fluttershy could, to Rainbow Dash’s house, which they moved to an undisclosed location. Twilight Sparkle and Rarity were standing on the platform of the train station, seeing Shining Armor and Spike off.
“Be careful, Spike,” Twilight told the young dragon. “And keep out of trouble.”
“Sure thing, Twilight,” answered Spike. “You can count on me.”
“I know I can,” Twilight said as she hugged him, and then she turned her attention to her brother. “Shining Armor, you had better look after him.”
“Trust me, Twiley. He’s in good hooves,” claimed her elder brother. “Nothing will happen to him, I promise.” Twilight smiled, but her smile didn’t match the concern look in her eyes. She released Spike from her embrace, and he followed Shining Armor on the train, followed by two guards. “See you soon, Twilight,” he said, to which she nodded back in return. The train blew its whistle and started to move.
Spike found his seat by the window and saw his caretaker standing there on the platform. He opened the window and called out as he waved, “See you later, Twilight! See you later, Rarity”
“Good bye, Spikey-Wikey,” Rarity waved back.
“Bye, Spike,” Twilight called to him. As the train moved further away, she said to herself, “Be safe, big guy.” The two unicorn mares departed the station, headed back to Twilight’s home, followed by their assigned bodyguards.
“Twilight, may I ask you a question?” asked the white mare as they walked down the streets of Canterlot .
“Of course, Rarity,” replied Twilight.
“What exactly is the nature of your relationship with Spike?”
“He’s my number one assistant and good friend,” Twilight answered, slightly surprised by the seemingly obvious question. “Surely, you know that.”
“That’s not what I meant, dear. I meant how do you really feel about him?”
“Like I said, he’s my good friend.”
“It’s more than that, I can tell. I’ve noticed that you have been more affectionate towards him recently. For example, you didn’t leave his side the whole time he was unconscious. Yesterday, I saw you wrap your leg around him when the princess told us that he saw also threatened. Just now, I saw your reluctance to let him go. ”
Twilight thought about her friend’s words, and then analyzed her own feelings about the dragon. “Spike is one of my oldest and closest friends. We’ve been together ever since I hatched him. Princess Celestia had me help her take care of him as part of my studies to help me become more responsible. He’s been my assistant ever since he was old enough.” She stopped for a moment to think some more. “I guess I only saw him as a friend at first. But after all that we’ve been through, I’ve been growing closer to him. There have been moments that really made me realize how important he is to me; him running away when he thought that Owlowiscious was going to replace him, when he joined the Dragon Migration, and most recently, when we faced King Sombra’s door.”
“His door? What do you mean?” asked Rarity, confused.
“When searching for the Crystal Heart, we came across a door that made you face your greatest fear. Mine was failing Princess Celestia and no longer being her student.”
“And what was his?”
“That I no longer needed him and that I was sending away,” Twilight frowned at the memory. “Knowing what someone fears the most really shows you their true character, doesn’t it?”
“I would imagine so,” stated Rarity. “He must really love you, then.”
“I guess that I love him, too. But not in that kind of way.”
“Yes, after all that you’ve said, I would think that he loves you as a mother, and you love him as a son,” concluded Rarity.
“That’s fair to say,” Twilight said as she stopped. She looked over at the various stores and then back to her friend. “Say, would you want to go shopping and then, perhaps, some lunch afterwards?”
“That sounds lovely,” Rarity smiled at her friend’s suggestion. They then headed towards a nearby clothing store, their bodyguards still following them. One bodyguard took out a watch to check the time. The clock said it was just past nine o’clock in the morning.
“Now tell me, what exactly is the nature of your relationship with Spike?” asked Twilight with a mischievous grin.
“W-what!? I…I…” Rarity blushed, flabbergasted at the question.
It was approaching noon and a unicorn was headed down the halls of Canterlot Palace. It was almost time. All of the pieces were in place. Just one more thing had to be done. The unicorn approached two large, midnight blue doors with silver moons and stars decorating them. Two unicorn royal guards stood in front of the doors, each wielding a spear. The unicorn stopped as it approached the two guards. The guards stood aside and nodded to the unicorn as it quietly opened a door, their eyes briefly flashing red and green. The unicorn entered the room and silently closed the door. The room was decorated with dark blue and black fabrics. The floor was covered with dark tiles, and heavy curtains were drawn across the windows, blocking the light of the midday sun.
There was a large, four post bed, also with dark curtains around it to block out any light that may have made it into the room. Sleeping upon the bed was Princess Luna, the nocturnal ruler of the night. The unicorn opened the bed curtains a little to reveal the sleeping, midnight blue alicorn. The unicorn pointed its horn at the sleeping princess’s head, its horn surrounded by a dark aura. The unicorn’s eyes glowed green and red, while a purple aura emitted from them. The dark aura surrounded the princess’s head and her face contorted with discomfort, but then returned to normal. The unicorn closed the curtain and headed back to the door. As the unicorn made its way to the door, its horn glowed again, and dark crystals filled the room.
“Sweet dreams, your highness,” the unicorn darkly chuckled as the door closed.
Back at Sweet Apple Acres, Applejack was busy bucking apple trees. Pinkie Pie and Apple Bloom were busy catching the falling apples in baskets. The two accompanying royal guards stood by, watching with disinterest. One pulled out a watch to check the time.
“Well, don’t let us have the fun,” Applejack sarcastically said to the observing guards. “If y’all want to stay here, y’all got to earn your keep.” The two guards remained where they were, not heeding her words. The two nodded to each other, then started to walk towards Applejack with their horns glowing.
Twilight and Rarity were sitting at a table outside a restaurant, enjoying their lunch. Across the street, a unicorn stallion with a monocle and a slender unicorn mare noticed the two and crossed the street to greet them.
“Why, Miss Rarity and Miss Sparkle. It’s so good to see the two of you again,” the stallion addressed the two dinning mares.
“Fancypants! Fleur de Lis! What a pleasant surprise,” exclaimed Rarity.
“What brings the two of here to Canterlot?” Fancypants inquired.
“Um, well, you see…uh…” Rarity said as she tried to think of an excuse, not wanting to disclose information about the threat. “We’re here to do some shopping,” she said pointing to the bags by the table. “Canterlot always has the most exquisite materials, and I invited my friend to join me.”
“I see.” Fancypants noticed the two stone-faced guards standing close by. “I say, why are…”
“Oh, look who it is, Jet Set,” a voice called from behind them. Everypony turned around to see Upper Crust and Jet Set approaching them. Rarity, Fancypants, and Fleur de Lis all groaned to themselves and then forced a smile.
“How are you doing, Jet Set? Upper Crust?” Fancypant feigned a friendly greeting.
“We’re doing well, thank you,” Jet Set said. “Rarity, it’s so nice to see you here. We were so distraught when you didn’t come to our charity ball.”
“Charity ball? When was that?” Rarity asked.
“Two days ago, didn’t you receive our invitation?” answered Upper Crust. “Everypony who was anypony was there.”
“Two days ago, let me think. Ah, yes. I do recall receiving a letter, but I was quite busy that day.”
“No matter, you and your friend, Twilight Sparkle, are here now, and that’s all that matters,” said Jet Set.
“Yes, it’s quite an honor to have the Elements of Magic and Generosity here,” said Upper Crust. Hearing that, something clicked in Twilight’s head.
“Oh dear, look at the time,” Twilight said suddenly. “Rarity, we must be going. It was so nice to see you again.” She placed some bits on the table to cover the bill and began to push Rarity along.
“Oh, won’t you join us? We were just going to an opera,” Upper Crust said with an aggressive tone.
“No, we really must…” Twilight began to say until the two guards blocked their way.
“We insist,” Jet Set said menacingly. The two mares noticed that the couple and the guards’ eyes were glowing with an eerie color.
“Come with us,” the two unicorn soldiers ordered, their horns glowing threateningly. Twilight, Rarity, Fancypants, and Fleur looked at the four advancing unicorns with fear and alarm.
Meanwhile, on a train making its way through the artic north, Shining Armor was shielding himself against an attack from the guards that were supposed to be protecting him. The guards had him cornered in the caboose of the train. His magenta shield was deflecting the blasts of magic coming from the two assailants. Spike was hiding beneath a table, watching the standoff between the three stallions. Spike looked around desperately for something to aid Shining Armor with. Though he was strong, it was a matter of time before his defensives where whittled down. Spike could only think of one thing to do. He rushed forth from his hiding place to one of the guards and exhaled green fire on his flank. The guard yelled in pain and glared at the dragon. The dragon gulped with fear as the guard’s horn charged with power.
“Spike! Look out!” shouted Shining Armor, but it was too late. The guard blasted the young dragon in chest, which set him bursting out the back door. The train was going over a bridge at the time, and Spike bounced off the tracks into the snowy abyss below, his screams fading into the blizzard. “Spike!” Shining Armor yelled. He charged his horn with as much power as he could, causing the magic shield to expand at an alarming rate. Since one guard was distracted with his burnt flank, the other was unable to stop the expanding shield and both were smashed into the walls by it. While the two were knocked senseless, Shining Armor placed a restraining spell on them. He then rushed out to the back of the caboose and looked out into the storm. There was no sign of Spike and his heart sank. “Spike!” he called out to the storm, but there was no answer. “I’m so sorry, Spike. I’m so sorry, Twilight. I failed you.”
Two guards were lying hogtied on the dirt. Their horns were also tied up, blocking their magic. The Apple Family and Pinkie Pie were standing over the two tied up soldiers.
“That oughta teach y’all a lesson!” shouted Applejack.
“Eeyup,” her big brother agreed with a rare angry look on his face.
“What in tarnation is going on?” the elderly Granny Smith asked.
“Ah’d suspect that these two are a part of that ‘Kingdom of Unicornia’ Ah was tellin’ y’all about,” said Applejack. “Big Macintosh, throw these two in the cellar. Pinkie and Ah got to tell the princess about this.”
“But Applejack,” interrupted little Apple Bloom. “These fellers are royal guards. How do you know that there ain’t anymore already at the castle?”
Applejack saw her sister’s point. If the guards that were assigned to me and Pinkie attack us, then that means… “Oh no. Our friends are in danger!”
“What are we going to do, Applejack?” asked Pinkie Pie, worried. Applejack thought of a plan.
“Ah’m going to see the Mayor. Ah have to warn her about the Kingdom of Unicornia.”
“How do you know that they ain’t already here?” asked Granny Smith.
“They’re unicorn elitists. They’ll have no interest in us Ponyville folk, even the unicorns here. But Ah bet that they’ll be here sooner or later to try and put us under their hooves. We need to be ready to fight back!” Applejack turned to Pinkie. “Pinkie Pie, Ah need you go to ‘the place.’ After Ah warn the Mayor, Ah’ll meet you there.”
“Yes sir, ma’am sir!” Pinkie saluted before the two spilt up.
“And Pinkie,” the orange earth pony called back as she ran. “Be careful.”
“Okie dokie lokie,” the pink earth pony answered as she disappeared into the Everfree Forest.
Twilight Sparkle was running towards Canterlot Palace with Rarity, Fancypants, and Fleur de Lis following her. Back at the restaurant, Jet Set, Upper Crust, and the two soldiers were lying unconscious on the ground. One should really think twice about attacking the most powerful unicorn alive. Unfortunately for them, their thoughts had been altered. As the four were nearing the castle, they came to a halt. Dark crystals were starting to cover the castle.
“Oh no, it’s started,” Twilight said in dismay.
As Princess Celestia was sitting upon her throne, she noticed the light coming from the windows had dimmed. There was something outside the stained-glass windows. Sensing something wrong, she stood up from her throne.
“What is this? Guards!” the princess called out. The doors opened and many guards marched in. They lined both sides of the throne room and stood at attention, but not to her. “What’s the meaning of this?”
“This, Your Highness, is a coup d’état,” a voice called from just outside the throne room. Celestia looked to opened doors, and a figured walked in.
“Prince Blueblood?” the princess exclaimed as she recognized her distant nephew. “What do you think you are doing?”
“Overthrowing you, of course,” answered the smug unicorn with a sneer. The white unicorn with a golden mane stood in the middle of the throne room, challenging the white alicorn with a haughty smile.
“You sent the letter? But why?” questioned Celestia, shocked that her own kin dared to betray her.
“Because it’s my time to receive the recognition that I deserve. It is time for us unicorns to take our place as the rightful rulers of this land. It is time to take back what you stole from us,” declared the spoiled prince.
“I did not steal anything from the unicorns!” Celestia defended herself.
“No? Then what about the sun and moon? Unicorns used to rule the other ponies because they could use their magic to raise the sun and moon. That is, until had you to come along.”
“It was Luna and my destiny to be connected to the celestial bodies. That is who we are, and we can’t change that. It is our responsibility to forever serve and protect our little ponies, and the unicorns had never ruled over the other tribes of ponies. They lived harmony, supporting each other with their unique abilities,” declared the princess.
“Don’t fool yourself, Celestia,” Blueblood challenged. “The pegasi and earth ponies, especially the earth ponies, were always inferior to the unicorns. Those simpletons’ ‘unique abilities’ are nothing compared to the magical power of the unicorns. We are the superior race, and I’m their rightful ruler. I am a descendant of the Unicorn King. I am here to reclaim what is mine and to put everypony else in their place.”
“I too am a descendant of the Unicorn King. Do not forget that my parents were Hurricane and Platinum, the King and Queen of Equestria.”
“Bah, and also the first traitors to the Kingdom of the Unicorns!” scoffed the prince. “Platinum betrayed her kind by consenting to share her throne was that pegasus cretan! She was no longer worthy to rule the kingdom! The crown should have pasted to her younger brother, my ancestor! Ever since you came along, my forefathers had become impotent, obsolete figure pieces, only royal by name!” The unicorn calmed himself. “But that doesn’t matter anymore. What matters now is that I will restore myself to my rightful place as King of Unicornia.”
“No, you won’t,” said Celestia as she rose in the air. “I will not let you enslave my subjects.”
“You don’t understand,” Blueblood gloated. “You have already lost.” Celestia’s eyes widen in alarm as the prince’s eyes and horn filled the aura of darkness, and the eyes of the soldiers matched that of the prince. “The guards are under my power and so are many power unicorns across Equestria, or should I say, Unicornia. As we speak, cities are falling under my command. Oh, and they are already dealing with your favorite little minions.”
“If you dare harm them…” threatened Celestia, her horn glowing in her wrath.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Blueblood sneered. “That’s if you value your sister’s life.”
“Luna?” Celestia’s heart filled with dread, and her horn ceased glowing.
“Did you really think I would come in here without some insurance? I knew that I could never challenge either of you head on, nor could I use my power to control your thoughts, but I could use my power to incapacitate her.”
“What did you do to her!?” growled the furious sun princess.
“I simply placed a sleeping spell on her and imprisoned her in a room that is protected by my power,” explained the treasonous prince. “Aside from the nightmares that I’ve filled her dreams with, no harm shall come to her, unless you don’t give me the throne right now!”
As Celestia hovered in the air, she thought of her options. Realizing she couldn’t face him then and there with her sister’s life at risk, she sighed in despair and touched back down on the dais. The prince smirked in triumph and started to approach her, but froze when her eyes suddenly opened, radiating a blinding light like the sun. In a brilliant flash, the princess vanished. After rubbing his eyes from the flash, Blueblood noticed that Princess Celestia was gone, and the throne was his. He climbed the steps of the dais and sat down on the throne, his laugh echoing through the chamber in victory.
Princess Candance stood on the balcony of the spire-like castle in the center of the Crystal Empire overlooking the main road. She had been told that the train that her husband was riding had arrived, and she was eagerly awaiting his return. She saw her husband approaching the tower, levitating two figures behind him. The crystal ponies watched with curiosity as their prince returned with two unconscious royal guards from Canterlot.
“Shining Armor, what’s going on?” the pink alicorn asked the white unicorn as he entered the chamber with his two prisoners. He explained to her the Kingdom of Unicornia’s scheme and how they decided to spilt up. He also explained that the two guards were brainwashed into attacking them. Hearing this, Cadance used her magic the release the two from the spell. “King Sombra’s magic, how is this possible?”
“I don’t know. We’ll have to wait until they wake up. Maybe they’ll be able explain more.”
“Where’s Spike?” asked the Crystal Princess. Shining Armor had mentioned that Spike had accompanied him, but the little dragon was now absent. Shining Armor’s face saddened at the memory.
“Cadance,” he began, not knowing how to tell his wife the horrible news. “Spike is dead.” She covered her mouth with her hooves as she gasped. “They blasted him off the train and into the ravine.”
“We have to let the others know,” she said with tears in her eyes. “As soon as we get information from these two, I’ll fly to the others. You can use the Crystal Heart to help power a force field to protect the empire.”
“No, I’ll go,” offered her husband. “I need to be the one to tell Twilight. I’ll use the Crystal Heart’s power to teleport myself to the rendezvous point. You then can use it for the force field.”
She feared for his safety and wanted to disagree with his plan, but she knew he was right. He had to be the one to tell Twilight about Spike’s fate.
Meanwhile, four unicorns where hiding in the alleyways of Canterlot. Twilight Sparkle peeked around the corner as they saw their pursuers run by them. She sighed in relief as they saw that they were safe for the moment. She turned around to face Rarity, Fancypants, and Fleur de Lis.
“Okay, here’s the plan,” she began to explain to the others. “I’ll teleport us to Ponyville. The two of you can stay in the library. Rarity and I will meet up with the others.”
“Thank you,” Fancypants said and Fleur nodded in agreement. Twilight returned the nod and began to concentrate. It would take some effort to transport four ponies to Ponyville from there. Her horn glowed magenta and then they vanished in a flash.
“Are you sure no pony will find us here?” asked Fluttershy nervously as she sat on her friend’s couch.
“Of course, Fluttershy,” Rainbow Dash said confidently as she reclined next to her timid friend. “I told you, no pony would think to look for us here. We’re over the ancient castle. Only a few ponies actually know where that is. The castle is constantly covered in a fog, so my house will blend in with it if somepony decides to fly over it, which they won’t because it’s in the middle of the Everfree Forest. No pony ever comes this far into it, even if they fly over it. Trust me, no one will ever find us.”
“Hey Rainbow Dash!” a voice called from outside as there was a knock on the door, causing the two pegasi fall of the couch with a scream of surprise. Rainbow Dash rushed to the door as Fluttershy hid behind the couch. When the blue pegasus opened the door, she saw Pinkie Pie bouncing up and down on a pogo stick to reach the house’s elevation.
“Darn it, Pinkie,” Rainbow Dash muttered to herself as she watched her pink friend smile and wave at her as she bounced up and down.
Applejack had just finished explaining to the mayor the situation and was now running the streets of Ponyville headed to the forest. She noticed her that friends, Twilight Sparkle and Rarity, were headed in the same direction.
“Hey!” she called out to get their attention. “Wait up, y’all!” The two unicorn mares turned to see the orange earth pony running up to them and stopped to let her catch up.
“Applejack, I’m so glad you’re okay,” Rarity said with relief. The friends hugged each other for a moment and then continued to run. “Is Pinkie Pie safe? What happened to the guards?”
“Pinkie’s safe,” explained Applejack. “She’s already headed to the ‘place.’ We were attacked by those two guards. We hogtied them and threw them in the cellar. Ah already explained to the mayor what’s goin’ on.”
“Good, we’ll meet up with the others and come up with a plan,” said Twilight. “I hope they’re okay.”
“Pinkie, you scared us half to death!” yelled Rainbow Dash. The three were now standing the ruins of the castle. “But, I’m glad to hear you and AJ are alright.”
“Wait a moment,” Fluttershy said, noticing that the farmer was missing. “Where is Applejack?”
“Oh, she coming,” explained Pinkie Pie. “She was just warning the mayor about the Kingdom of Unicornia. She’ll be here soon.”
Above them, a brilliant light flashed and Princess Celestia was hovering over the three. She descended to floor as the others bowed.
“Princess! What’s happened? What’s going on in Canterlot? What…” Rainbow Dash’s questions were cut off when the princess held up here hoof to silence her.
“I will explain in a moment,” stated the Princess. “But first, is everpony alright?” Pinkie Pie explained what happened at Sweet Apple Acres and Rainbow Dash told the princess that she and Fluttershy had come straight to the ruins in case something happened. Celestia looked out the window to see the cloud house hidden in the fog and smiled. “Very clever, Rainbow Dash.”
As she looked out the window, she saw Twilight, Rarity, and Applejack approaching. It wasn’t long until all six Elements of Harmony were reunited. They hugged each other and told each other of what has happened to each of them. They then turned towards their princess to hear what has happened to her.
“As you know, the Kingdom of Unicornia has taken Canterlot. They are led by Prince Blueblood, and he wields King Sombra’s magic.” The six were shocked to hear that the spoiled brat was responsible for the attack. They knew he was egocentric, but they had never expected him to be a usurper. They doubted he had the brains for such a complex scheme. “He has placed a sleeping spell on Luna and has taken her hostage. Before I came here, I tried to see if I could free her, but the trap would have activated as soon as I approached it or tried to attack it.”
Listening to the description of the trap, it reminded Twilight Sparkle of the trap that was around the Crystal Heart. She remembered that it was a complex spell that prevented her from being able to escape it by teleporting. “How are we going to save Princess Luna?”
“The spell is complex, but not unbreakable. I could have disarmed it, but her chamber was surrounded by guards that have been brainwashed by Blueblood. If they had spotted me, he would have activated it. I could have tried blasting it. His magic is nowhere near my level, but I fear that the trap would have killed Luna before I broke through it.”
“So what do we do?” asked Applejack. The princess thought for a moment and realized that they had an advantage.
“Applejack, you said that you had two guards in your cellar,” Celestia said to the farm pony.
“Yeah, Ah did,” she confirmed.
“I can alter their memories. We can send them back to Blueblood and have them say that they were successful. That way, he won’t continue to hunt the rest of you down. Maybe, he’ll even ease his guard on the Elements of Harmony.”
“A counter attack and a sneak attack,” summarized Twilight Sparkle. “We’ll have the element of surprise on our side.”
“There’s an Element of Surprise?” asked Pinkie Pie. “I thought there were only six elements.”
Rolling her eyes, Twilight continued, “We can sneak back into Canterlot, get the Elements, take down Blueblood, which would free the ponies under his control, and save Princess Luna!”
“I will go to Sweet Apple Acres,” announced Princess Celestia. “Wait here until I return.” In a flash, she was gone.
The six Bearers of the Elements of Harmony waited in the hall of the ruins for the return of Princess Celestia. It was getting late in the afternoon, and the sun was headed for the western horizon. The ponies were anxious for the return of the Solar Princess so that they can carry out their plan before the Kingdom of Unicornia could do anymore damage to Equestria.
The Princess appeared in a flash of sunlight. “It is done. I have sent to the guards back to Canterlot. I have also instructed the citizens of Ponyville to play along in case Blueblood sends more guards to investigate.”
“So when do we make our move?” asked Rainbow Dash.
“We should act soon, before anypony else is subjugated to Blueblood’s mind control,” suggested Rarity.
“Ah say we do it tonight,” Applejack declared. “No point waitin’ around while Blueblood makes a mess of things.”
“Not yet, Applejack,” corrected Princess Celestia. “We should wait a day. That way, the guards can tell Blueblood that they were successful and he’ll then move on to the next part of his plan. Whatever it maybe, it must involve sending the soldiers across Equestria.”
“It will be easier to sneak into the Palace if there are fewer guards around,” added Twilight Sparkle.
“Also, we might hear some news regarding Cadance, Shining Armor, and Spike.”
“Oh, I’m so worried,” fretted Fluttershy. “I hope they’re okay.”
“Don’t worry, Fluttershy,” comforted Twilight. “I’m sure that my brother can handle two brainwashed guards.” While they were talking, Princess Celestia walked to the window to look at the setting sun. It was time. She reached out with her magic and lowered the sun beneath the western horizon. She then headed to the window on the opposite side of the chamber. The sky was dark, but there was no moon in the sky. She waited for a moment. She hoped that against all odds that her sister wasn’t really under a spell and would soon raise the moon, but she didn’t. With a sigh, Celestia reached out again with her magic and raised the moon over the eastern horizon.
“So what do we do until then?” Rainbow Dash asked impatiently.
“Charades? Twenty Questions? Tell each ghost stories?” suggested Pinkie Pie.
“How about a history lesson instead?” offered Celestia, still looking out at the moon. The group of friends looked to each other and then sat around the princess. “I’m certain you all are familiar with stories of the founding of Equestria, the defeat of Discord, and the rise of Nightmare Moon.”
“Mm-hm,” they all confirmed.
“This is how they all connect. As you know, Equestria was made when the three tribes unified, but do you know why the flag of Equestria featured Luna and me when we were not even born?”
“No, Princess,” answered Twilight.
“It is because Starswirl the Bearded and his successor, Clover the Clever, foresaw that the three tribes would unite and that two alicorns would bring harmony to the land. Princess Platinum of the unicorns married Commander Hurricane of the pegasi and became the first rulers of the Kingdom of Equestria. Not too long afterwards, I was born.”
“Woah, wait a minute,” interrupted Rainbow Dash. “Princess Platinum and Commander Hurricane were your parents?”
“Wow, I’ll never look at the Hearth’s Warming Eve pageant the same way again.”
“Indeed,” agreed Rarity, remembering that she and Rainbow Dash played those roles in the pageant.
“Needless to say, they were quite shock to see that their child was an alicorn. At the time, an alicorn was something that only existed in prophecies. They were even more surprised when their second child was also an alicorn. Other pegasi and unicorns had foals together, but only we were alicorns.” Celestia paused and looked about the room. “We were born in this very castle.”
“You grew up here?” Twilight Sparkle asked in wonder.
“But, Princess. Why would anypony build a castle in the middle of the Everfree Forest?” asked Applejack.
“It wasn’t the Everfree Forest back then, Applejack,” answered the white alicorn. “Originally, my parents wanted to build the castle where the three tribes came together in friendship and drove away the Windigos, but the mountains were still far too cold to inhabit.
“Much had to be done under the reign of my parents to build a new kingdom. They worked very hard to provide peace and harmony for their subjects. My sister and I were taught by Starswirl the Bearded and Clover the Clever how to be successful leaders and we discovered that we were indeed the alicorns they had foreseen. Ever since we were born, the unicorns began to lose their control over the sun and moon. One morning, they couldn’t raise the sun at all. I was a little filly back then, and I saw how worried everypony was. On an impulse, I reacted and used my magic to raise the sun. It felt so natural, so easy. It was like I was born to do it, and it turned out that I was. And that’s how I got my cutie mark.”
The listening ponies applauded the story, and Rainbow Dash cheered, “Alright, Princess!”
Celestia smiled a little bit, but she shushed them, “Wait, my little ponies. I’m not finished.”
“Funny, that’s how stories like these usually end, ‘and that’s how I got my cutie mark,’” commented Pinkie Pie.
“A few years later, the same thing happened with Luna and the moon. We were the alicorns of the prophecy, but our destiny still awaited us. After the passing of my parents, Luna and I were to be crowned the new rulers of Equestria. That is, until he came along.”
“D-discord?” asked Fluttershy. The Princess nodded in confirmation.
“He came and brought chaos and madness to the land. We tried to stop him, but he was too powerful. We were driven from our home, and he made the castle his own. We sought shelter in the mountains where the founders took shelter from the blizzard. We didn’t know it at first, but we were drawn there by something. In the caves, we found gems and crystals, but they seemed to radiate with a magic. It was the cavern where the Windigos were defeated. The magic that was summoned by the power of love and friendship of the founders was still there. The laughter from their jokes, the kindness that was shared between them, the generosity the leaders found, the loyalty of their followers, the honesty and trust they had in each other, and the magic of friendship the discovered together. My sister and I used our love for each other and drew strength from it. Using the crystals from the cave and the love in them combined with our own, we created the Elements of Harmony and used them to defeated Discord.” This was greeted with applause, but the ponies then continued to listen.
“However, the harmony we provided wouldn’t last forever. Even though Discord was imprisoned in stone, Equestria was still feeling the effects of his rule. The forest, for an example, was never the same. It became unruly, and we couldn’t restore order no matter how hard we tried. We had to abandon our home and build a new one. On the bright side, we were able to fulfill our parents’ dream and build a palace over the place where we discover the Elements of Harmony.”
“Do you mean Canterlot?” Rarity asked.
“Yes, and when we were finally crowned as Princesses of Equestria, we did our best to restore harmony to our kingdom. However, the ponies of the time failed to appreciate the hard work my sister did for them. Luna would raise the moon for them and create a beautiful night sky for them. She guarded them while they the slept, but they shunned her. They only saw me as their princess. At first, she didn’t mind it, but the years and years of neglect began to take their toll on her. It wasn’t long after we had defeated King Sombra that Luna began to change. She became resentful, sullen, and depressed. Many ponies, even within Canterlot, became ignorant to the fact that she was even the co-ruler of Equestria.” Celestia stopped her story for a moment. She closed her eyes and continued in a softer tone.
“I should have seen it coming. As her sister, I should have seen her pain earlier. By the time I tried to comfort her, she had fallen so far into despair that nothing I could say could bring her out of it. I tried everything to raise her spirits. I even held a festival in her honor. At first, it seemed to work. She was so happy that ponies were coming to recognize her and to see her raise the moon. She was beginning to act like the Luna that I remembered growing up with. The night of the festival arrived, but no pony came.” The ponies’ eyes filled with tears and their heart filled with sympathy for Princess Luna as they listened.
“Her tears of heartbreak became tears of rage as the darkness entered her heart, transforming her into Nightmare Moon. She vowed in her wrath that the sun will never rise again. I tried to reason with her, but she was too consumed by her newfound dark powers to be reasoned with. She returned here to make it her palace. I gathered the Elements of Harmony and came to face her. Once again, I pleaded with her and tried to soothe her anger, but she wouldn’t listen. I had no choice; I had to use the Elements and banished her in the moon.” This time, the six ponies held their applause. Instead, they silently cried as they listened to the tale.
“I returned to Canterlot to a cheering crowd. Their princess had once again saved them and restored harmony to the kingdom. They cheered and sang praises to me as I marched back to the castle in triumph. I put on a brave face for them, but on the inside…I hated them. I hated them all.” The six were too stunned to even gasp in surprise. “It was their negligence and ingratitude that drove her madness. It was because of them that I had to face the next one thousand years alone. Their simple minds couldn’t comprehend the burden of immortality. I watch over the years as my subjects are born, grow old, and die. Many of them were my good friends. I even lost my connection to the Elements of Harmony. They can never be wielded by one pony. They are Elements of Harmony. By nature, they can only be used by ponies that are in harmony with each other. Once I had used them against Luna, they turned into stone and the Element of Magic vanished for I had just lost my only friend. Once I was alone in bedchamber, I wept. I just lost my sister, and they made a holiday out of it. I have always hated Nightmare Night. To me, it was an insult to my sister’s memory. I thought that I would never be happy ever again, but something came to me; a prophecy.”
“On the longest day of the thousandth year, the stars would aide in her escape,” quoted Twilight Sparkle.
“Exactly, my faithful student,” Celestia confirmed. “It gave me hope. Over the next thousand years, I developed a plan. I would find a pony worthy to bear the Element of Magic and would bring five others together in the spirit of friendship to be able to use the Element of Harmony to free my sister from Nightmare Moon.”
“But, Princess. How did you know it was me?” Twilight Sparkle asked her mentor.
“Do you remember your entrance exam?” Celestia asked, and Twilight nodded in response. “You were never expected to pass it. No pony was ever to pass it.”
“What!? B-but why was it the entrance exam?”
“It was an aptitude test to see how much skill little unicorn foals had in magic. I thought I could find the Bearer of the Element of Magic and train them as my personal student by seeing how much raw potential they had. However, you exceeded my expectations. No foal could possibly hatch a dragon egg, especially Spike’s, but you did.”
“What do you mean, ‘especially Spike’s?’”
“You see, Twilight Sparkle, Spike’s egg was a dud.” The ponies were shocked to hear this piece of information, but they were about to be even more astounded by what the princess said next. “Spike’s egg was abandoned by his mother for the embryo inside had no life inside it. Your magic gave him life and allowed him to develop into perfectly healthy baby dragon.”
Twilight Sparkle was speechless. She didn’t just hatch Spike, she gave him life. “So…so he really is…my son.”
“You are just as much his mother as the dragoness that laid his egg.” Tears of joy filled the lavender unicorn’s eyes. She had a son! She wanted nothing more to hold him in her embrace and to smother him with affection.
“Hey look, Shining Armor is coming!” announced Pinkie Pie as she noticed the stallion approaching from a window. As he entered the room, Twilight rushed to greet him.
“Shining Armor! You’re okay!” she exclaimed as she hugged her brother. He hugged her back, but could bring himself to smile. He gave his report to Princess Celestia on how Cadance was protecting the Crystal Empire and what they had learned from the guards. Apparently, Blueblood was indeed planning to spread his forces across Equestria to establish his reign as king after he believed the Elements of Harmony to be neutralized. This would leave Canterlot open for their planned sneak attack.
“Where’s Spike? Is he safe in the Crystal Empire?” Twilight asked urgently. Shining Armor frowned at the floor. No.
“Twilight,” he said quietly. He still couldn’t bear to look her in the eye.
No. Not that tone. Her heart began to race.
No. Oh please, don’t say it. Her breathing became heavy.
No. No. No. No. No. Her throat tightened and her eyes burnt as she held back tears.
“He’s dead. I’m sorry, Twilight. I failed you.”
“No!” Twilight cried out in despair. It wasn’t fair! She gained a son just to have him stolen from her. She buried her head into his chest as she tried to pound her hooves into him, sobbing as she did so. He held her in his forelegs as she cried. Her friends watched in sadness, crying along with her. Pinkie’s mane flattened. Applejack held Fluttershy. Rainbow Dash just sat there, to stun to react. Rarity fell to ground, weeping. Princess Celestia tried to remain stoic, but couldn’t hold back the tears. “You promised me! You…you…promised…”
“Spike! Look out!” The warning came too late. Time seemed to move in slow-motion as the blast of magic from brainwashed unicorn guard headed towards Spike. The blast struck the young dragon in the chest, knocking him backwards into the door at the end of the caboose. The door shattered from the force of impact and Spike was launched out of the train. Spike grunted as he hit the tracks and he bounced off the bridge and fell into the ravine below. Spike saw the ground approaching all too quickly. In desperation, he flapped his wings in hopes to stop his fall. Despite how hard he flapped his new wings; the ground still was coming up at him at an unmerciful rate. Spike closed his eyes and prepared for the end, but it didn’t come. He cautiously opened one eye and saw the he was hovering over the ground, his face only an inch the frozen ground.
“Whew…that was close,” he sighed with relief as he touched down. As the adrenaline rush wore off, his chest ached with pain from the blast. The wind blew and he shivered as he looked up at the bridge. The train was already pulling out of sight. Spike realized that Shining Armor was now facing the two soldiers by himself and started to take off, but he cringed with pain and clasped his chest. He landed again and looked back up at the train. He sighed as he realized that he can’t make it to the train. Instead, he looked around and decided he better start walking.
Following the bridge, he eventually came to the wall of the ravine. He looked up at the wall, debating if he should try climbing it or attempt to fly again. Considering the pain in his chest and the freezing wind, he figured that he should seek shelter. Fortunately, he spotted a cave nearby and headed into it. It was still cold, but at least he was out of the wind. He sat down against the wall and thought of what he should do next. Since Shining Armor and I were attacked by unicorns, it obviously meant that the Kingdom of Unicornia has already made their move and that they have infiltrated the royal guard. We decided to go our separate ways and all of us were accompanied by royal guards, except for Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. That means that they are in danger! However, there were two guards headed to the Crystal Empire! But, if anypony could take care of himself, it was Shining Armor. Besides, he has the entire Crystal Empire behind him. On the other claw, Applejack and Pinkie Pie are by themselves in Ponyville with the guards. Even worse, Twilight, Rarity, and Princess Celestia are now surrounded by the enemy! What should I do!?
As he thought, Spike’s stomach growled. Rubbing his stomach, he looked around the cave in hope that there was anything to eat. At first, he didn’t see anything, but then he could smell something delicious. He sniffed around like a bloodhound, trying to pinpoint the source of the wonderful smell. His nose led him around a corner and he saw a wonderful sight. It was a cavern filled with gems! He drooled at the sight of all the gems he found. His concerns were nearly forgotten as he began to fill himself with the tasty gems. After filling up with an enormous amount of gems, Spike started to fill drowsy. Wait, I got to help my friends! But…I can’t even…keep my eyes…open…
“My friends!” Spike yelled as his eyes snapped open. He stood up and started to head towards the entrance of the cave. He stopped when he noticed that something was off. He looked around the cave and noticed that it seemed smaller. He turned around, and saw something on the cave’s floor. He took a closer look and saw that it molted skin. “I must have grown while I was asleep. I guess that explains my increased appetite. Whoa, my voice sounds deeper. What less changed?” He checked the reflective surface of a gem to see himself. He wasn’t chubby anymore and he was now somewhat muscular. “Wow, looking good Spike, real good. Wait moment, my friends!” He ran out the cave and took off. Hang on girls, I’m coming. He took off towards the south, headed to Canterlot.
Eight ponies were sneaking through the alleyways of Canterlot. The Bearers of the Elements, Shining Armor, and Princess Celestia were cautious. Even though Blueblood had already sent his forces across Equestria, there were still a few soldiers patrolling the streets and they couldn’t risk detection. Twilight Sparkle watched with an icy glare as she saw two guards pass by, not noticing the group. Her anger wasn’t directed at them or even the soldiers that took her son away from her. She knew they aren’t to blame. No, her hatred was focused on Prince Blueblood.
“Twilight,” a voice called to her. Rainbow Dash placed a hoof on her friend’s shoulder. “Twilight, come on.”
“I’m coming,” she replied. She walked up to Princess Celestia and her brother. They stood facing the wall at the end of the alley. The princess’s horn glowed and the wall opened, revealing a tunnel into the mountain.
“A secret passage?” observed Applejack. “Are y’all sure this is safe? Ah mean, wouldn’t they know about it?”
“It is possible,” admitted Shining Armor. “But we don’t have any other option.” The group headed into the tunnel, proceeding with caution. Every second was filled with dread, for they feared that there would be a squad of soldiers waiting for them behind every corner. They followed the path through a labyrinth of tunnels. The mane six would be lost, but the princess and the former captain of the guard seemed to know where they were going. Finally, they came to a stop at another wall. Even though it was only a few minutes, it felt like an eternity.
“Listen, behind this wall is the vault that contains the Elements,” announced the white alicorn. “I’ll open the vault and then we’ll find Blueblood.” The group nodded and then Princess Celestia again used her magic to open the secret door. Carefully, the group stepped into the hall. The chamber was filled with black crystals. They made their way to the vault doors and the princess used her horn to unlock the door. Inside, the case that contained the Elements of Harmony rested on a pedestal.
“Aw yeah!” cheered Rainbow Dash. “Now, let’s go and kick…some…oh pony feathers.” The eight found themselves face to face with Blueblood and his soldiers.
“Eep!” Fluttershy squealed in fright.
“Surprise,” the usurper king sneered.
“Funny, I never thought I’d be so terrified to hear somepony say that,” Pinkie nervously chuckled.
“Well, well, well. You are all still alive,” said Blueblood as he observed the cornered ponies. “Honestly, I’m shocked to see you all alive, but I’d figured that you fools would try to sneak in to steal the Elements. Did you honestly think I would be so stupid and leave the vault unprotected?” They didn’t notice that a black ring of magic had rippled underneath their hooves as soon as they stepped in front of the vault doors.
“Actually, yes,” confessed Rarity. “I really think you are stupid.”
Prince Blueblood growled in anger, but then he smirked. “How very droll, but actually, I’m glad my guards didn’t kill you all. Now, I can…” He was cut off when Twilight shot a blast of magic right at his face. He raised a black shield of magic in time to protect himself from the attack.
“You killed Spike,” Twilight seethed in fury.
“Oh, so my guards managed to kill at least the runt,” mocked the blond unicorn and then turned to Shining Armor. “By the way, were they able to take care of your wife, ‘cousin’?” This caused Shining Armor to step forward and stand next to his sister, both ready to blast that smug look off Blueblood’s face. Actually, they wanted to blast his face off his head. “I would think twice before trying that again, that is, if you value Aunt Luna’s life.” This enraged the entire group, but the two unicorn siblings powered down.
Blueblood smirked as the eight surrendered and turned to a soldier. “Rally the citizens; it’s time to send a message to the ponies of Unicornia.”
As the Usurper-King Blueblood and his soldiers led their captives to the balcony that overlooked the town square of Canterlot to address his subjects, a pony stirred in her sleep. In her crystal filled bedchamber, Princess Luna tossed and turned as her dreams where corrupted by Blueblood’s curse.
Sister...sister, where are you...Why have you forsaken me...What have I done to deserve this?
“You know why...” a voice answered from the darkness.
“Sister? Is that you? Where are you, and why can’t I see you?” Luna called out to her sister’s voice.
“It is your own fault this happened...”
“W-what? What is? What’s going on?”
“You brought this upon yourself,” her sister’s voice said with contempt.
“Brought what upon myself? What’s going on!?” she begged to the voice for answers.
“Why, your banishment, of course.”
“Banishment!? What are you talking about!?”
“Don’t pretend to be innocent with me!” the voice roared. “You know exactly why you are being banished. Quite frankly, I’m starting to wonder if banishment is too merciful a punishment for you.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about! Sister, please...” she tried to plead with her unseen sister, but she was interrupted.
“You are no longer worthy to call me that, wretch!” the voice roared. “I am Celestia, Queen of Equestria, and you are nothing!”
“Don’t speak! You are nothing but a traitor! You dared to defy me, your queen! You, the lesser sister, should have known your place. You live only to serve me!”
“But we ruled Equestria together! As equals!”
“As equals? Ha! How could you ever think that you could possibly be my equal? Listen to them.” Luna could hear another sound in the distance. It was also accompanied with by a light. It was blinding, but an image soon can to view. Celestia stood before her with scowl upon her face. Luna realized that she was bound by chains and that they were standing on a balcony. There was a crowd of ponies gathered down in the square, cheering Celestia’s name. “Can you hear that? Whose name do they praise? Mine. What have you ever done to be worthy of such praise?”
“I raise the moon for them! I give them the night sky! The stars! The constellations! Meteor showers! Comets! I protect them while they sleep! I guard their dreams!”
However, Celestia laughed at her and her contributions. “Is that something to be proud of? Do you really think that they care for your little light shows? Haven’t you notice that they don’t care? You’re useless, you always have been. Honestly, I don’t see why I kept you around for so long as it is. I was doing a fine job ruling this kingdom by myself and everypony was happy. No pony missed you. To them, you will always be a story told to foals to give them a scare. Most of them didn’t realize that you really existed.”
Luna wept as her sister’s words pierced her heart. It was true, no pony missed her. She was at most a myth to them. Celestia took on responsibility for both the sun and the moon. Perhaps she only gave her back her duties just to humor her a bit. Something to do so that she would be out of her sister’s mane as she took care of the real important matters. The image before her faded away, which left her in darkness once again. This time, it was cold. It was cold and familiar. A new image came to her.
“No.” She saw something that horrified her. “No no no no no!” She was on the moon again. “No, please! Not here! Please! Help me!” She looked up and saw the planet in the sky. No pony would be able to hear her, much less help her. She fell to the lunar surface and wept. How could her own sister be so cruel; to banish her to her own moon? It was her moon, how dare she use it to torment its own mistress!? “No, please, no. I don’t want to be alone anymore.”
You are never alone, my dear, a new voice spoke to her.
Luna looked around, but saw no one. “Who’s there? Where are you?” She called out to the voice, desperate for companionship.
I’m here, the voice answered.
“Where? I can’t see you.” She franticly looked all across the landscape, but she saw no one.
I’m here, with you. I have always been with you. Luna recognized the voice.
“You!? What are you doing here!?” she said with venom dripping with every word, but the voice just laughed at her. “Why have you come back?”
Oh dear, sweet Luna. I never left. Don’t you realize that I am you?
“No, you’re lying! You possessed me! You made me try to create nighttime eternal! You attacked Equestria, Nightmare Moon!”
You attacked Equestria, the voice countered.
“No, you made me do it!”
You speak as I where some separate entity from yourself. Do you really believe that I am some external force that took over your thoughts and actions? No, Luna, I am you.
“You’re lying!” Luna denied, but the voice laughed in her head.
You really should really stop talking to yourself. Ponies might think you’re crazy.
Fine, have it your way. Luna sat down, scowling at the voice in her head. What do you want anyways?
To help you, of course.
Help, ha! What help could I possible want from you?
Vengeance? On Celestia? No! I love her!
Do you? Do you really love her?
Of course! She’s my sister!
Yet she despises you. They all do.
No, it’s not true. She loves me!
Do you really believe that? Do you think she loves you as much as she loves Cadance? Everypony loves her. She is your niece-who-knows-how-many-times-removed, yet the ponies of Equestria treated her like a princess more than they ever did you. That struck a chord. Everypony did adore her so much and gave her so much praise, yet she was only a princess because she was distantly related to the Regal Alicorn Sisters. What about your sister’s faithful student? It’s so obvious that she trusts her more than you. That was true. How often did Celestia rely on Twilight Sparkle? Luna did offer to go and help save the Crystal Empire, but she denied her and sent Twilight because of some test. Lives were at stake, and she risked them all on a test? She treats her like her own foal, always doting on her. She had been replaced with another, somepony who Celestia loves more than her. What about your loyal subjects? As I recall, they barely know you even exist. Did they morn when you were banished? No, they cheered. What about your favorite holiday? You do realize it isn’t really in your honor? It’s in honor of Celestia’s victory over you! They lose their princess, and how do they commemorate the event? With a celebration.
"It’s true...they hate me. They have always hated me..." As Luna spoke, the voice in her head spoke the same words. Then the voice in her head replaced her own voice. “They will pay. They will all pay.”
A wind started to blow in Princess Luna’s bedchamber. The curtains swayed in the breeze and the sleeping alicorn’s ethereal mane, which already flowed by itself, became a starry tempest. Swirling patterns of darkness spread across her midnight blue coat until it became black as an abyss. Her regalia glowed with magic and shifted until it transformed into light blue armor and a helmet. Her teeth lengthened into fangs. Teal, dragon eyes snapped open and power surged forth from the dark alicorn, shattering the crystals and obliterating the spell surrounding her. Nightmare Moon had awoken.
“Never forgive...Never forgive...”
The citizens of Canterlot were being gathered in the town square for a mandatory rally. The ponies were reluctant to leave their homes since they were afraid from the coup yesterday, but they were too intimidated by the mind controlled soldiers to resist. They stood in the plaza, nervously looking to one another and at the soldiers that were herding them in the plaza. The pegasi guards, which were now no more than mindless watchdogs, stood by the exits to make sure that no pony attempted to leave.
Usurper-King Blueblood appeared on the palace balcony that overlooked the crowd of frightened ponies. Princess Celestia used this balcony only special occasions when she needed to address her subjects. She used it more frequently back when Canterlot was still new and most of the kingdom’s population was dwelling in it. Now, with the press available and the population dispersed around the kingdom, it was starting to become obsolete. However, the blond maned unicorn wanted to send a message.
“Citizens of Unicornia,” he called out to the crowd, not quite able to match the Royal Canterlot Voice. “Today marks the end of an old age and dawn of a new era, an era that shall restore the natural order, an era where the unicorns shall take the rightful place and lead this kingdom to prosperity!” The only ones in the crowd to cheer were the unicorns that have been brainwashed to support the false king.
Blueblood nodded to one of his guards and stood aside as the soldiers led Princess Celestia, Prince Shining Armor, and the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony to the balcony. The crowd started to murmur in confusion as they saw their heroes standing before them.
“To mark the dawn of this new era,” Blueblood continued. “I shall execute the symbols of oppression of the previous age!” The captive audience gasped in alarm at the terrible declaration. “However, I am not without mercy. If the Elements of Harmony will submit to me and accept me as their rightful king, I shall spare them.”
The mentioned six mares only glared at the contemptuous stallion. He walked up to Twilight Sparkle, who was trying to stop herself from lashing out at him. “So, Twilight Sparkle, what do you say? I could always use an intelligent pony such as you in my court.”
“You killed my son,” she growl in hatred. “I will never join you!” Blueblood motioned to the two guards beside her, and they pushed her along to stand next to her brother and Princess Celestia. Next, he stood before Fluttershy.
“How about it, you don’t want to suffer the same, awful fate that awaits them, do you?” He was certain he could make the timid, yellow pegasus cry and beg for mercy at his hooves. Instead, she stood her ground, unflinching at his threat.
“I will never join somepony as evil as you!” she yelled, surprising him with her sudden ferocity. He quickly recovered and had her placed with the other ponies that were condemned to die. He stood before Rainbow Dash next.
“I could use somepony as tough and brave as you. I could even make you a commander of your own squadron,” he bribed.
“You’re crazy if you think that I’d betray my friends!” she shouted, insulted that he would think that bribing the Element of Loyalty would work. As she joined the others, he made his way to Pinkie Pie.
“So, what…” He was cut off by a pie to the face.
“Does that answer your question?” the pink mare asked. He wiped the pie off his face as she was dragged away. He wondered where she even got the pie from as he headed to Applejack.
“Don’t waste your breath,” she said as he opened his mouth to speak and then made her way to her friends. That left Rarity remaining with the self-proclaimed king. He had purposely saved her for last.
“Ah, Lady Rarity, I could use a mare whose beautiful could match my own as my queen,” he grinned, hoping to appeal to her vanity. It would gain him more support to have one of the Element Bearers at his side. Besides, she would make the perfect trophy wife as soon as he brainwashed her.
“I will never stand by you,” she screamed. “You foul, revolting, disgusting, treacherous, idiotic, brainless,…” As she continued her barrage of insults, he gritted his teeth in anger. He raised his hoof and struck her across the face. His backhoof had knocked the white mare to the ground.
“Rarity!” her friends shouted as they saw her assaulted. They tried to rush in to help her, but the soldiers restrained them. Rarity’s head spun as she laid on the ground. She looked up at Blueblood, her vision fighting to come back into focus. He stood glaring over her fallen form.
“I guess I’ll start with you,” he said with pure malice. Instead of finishing them off quickly, he decided to make them suffer first. He wanted them to beg for death before he gave it to them. This would make more of an impression on his new subjects, and it would allow him to take out his anger on the mare that was lying before him.
He raised his hoof to strike her again. As he prepared to hit her, something large with purple scales swooped down and placed itself between the king and the mare. Blueblood couldn’t react in time and had already brought his hoof down. The purple scaled being caught the stallion’s foreleg in its mouth. Everypony gasped in surprised at what they saw; it was Spike. He had become a teenage dragon. Though he wasn’t yet the size of Garble or his cohorts, he was a little larger than Big Macintosh. Before Blueblood or any of his soldiers could take action, the dragon bit down onto the usurper’s fetlock and cannon with a bite force that could shatter diamonds. Blueblood howled in agony as the bones in his foreleg were crushed into powder by the dragon’s maw. Spike released Blueblood, who backed away, clutching his crippled leg. The soldier attempted to charge the dragon, but Spike breathed emerald fire at the ground, halting their attack.
“Spike?” Rarity whispered as she looked up at her savior, shocked that he was alive.
“Spike!” Twilight cried out with tears of joy in eyes.
“You creature!” roared Blueblood. “For this, Luna will die!”
“No!” Princess Celestia shouted as Blueblood’s eyes glowed green and red with a purple aura emitting from them, dark magic flowing from his horn. Blueblood’s smirked with triumph as she saw the white alicorn’s despair, but his smirk vanished when he felt nothing. Triumph was replaced with confusion and panic, for he could no longer sense the trap that was supposed to be surrounding Princess Luna. Celestia noticed his panic and realized that his trap had somehow failed. She rose from the balcony, her horn glowing with a golden light. Bolts of magic shot her horn, striking the guards that surrounded the eight ponies. She restrained herself, only rendering them unconscious, for she knew that they were not to blame for their actions.
Seeing his soldiers easily defeated by the angry solar princess, Blueblood and his remaining soldiers fled back into the palace. The crowd cheered for their princess and the guards that were in the plaza rushed the balcony. Shining Armor, the mane six, and Spike took defensive positions, ready to face the advancing guards. Shining Armor created a magical barrier, which the speeding pegasi slammed into, knocking them out cold. The unicorn guards stopped running and began to blast at the shield with their magic. There was a flash of light and guards turned around to see that the mane six and Spike were standing behind them. Catching them off guard, Twilight and Rarity started to launch bolts of magic at the unicorns as Applejack bucked a few in the head. Two guards tried to shoot Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy out of the air, but the pegasi avoided their attacks.
“Hello,” a cheery voice said to them. They looked down from the sky straight into the business end of Pinkie’s party cannon. “Say hello to my little friend.” One guard was blown away by a blast of confetti and streamers while Rainbow Dash slammed into the other while he was distracted. Spike formed his claw into a fist and uppercutted a unicorn, sending him flying. Fluttershy landed in front of the few remaining guards. They charged their horns to attack, but they found themselves caught in the “Stare.”
“How dare you!” Fluttershy reprimanded them. “Attacking the princess and betraying your country! What would your mothers think!?” The spell that was controlling the soldiers was losing to power of the yellow pegasus’s stare. They were being compelled to attack, but could not resist the power that this mare seemed to possess. “Now, you are going to sit there and think about what you have done!”
That was the last that the spell could stand and it broke. The soldiers sat on their haunches and shouted, “Yes ma’am!”
Princess Celestia used her magic to free the minds of the defeated guards. As she finished her spell, the sky began to grow dark. Everypony looked to the sky and saw the moon beginning to cover the face of the sun. The moon eclipsed the sun, leaving a white ring of light in a darkened sky.
“Oh no,” Celestia whispered in dread, knowing what this meant. “We must get inside, quickly!”
Blueblood and his remaining soldiers barricaded themselves inside the throne room. Blueblood sat in the middle of the room, nursing his crushed limb as he desperately thought of what he should do. As he thought, the lighting in the room dimmed and a windstorm generated from nowhere. He looked around the room in confusion and saw a vortex of starry magic hovering over the throne. The vortex ceased and a black alicorn with a living mane of night sky and wearing armor saw standing atop of the dais. Blueblood stood in terror as the alicorn looked loathingly down at him.
“Perish!” the Mare in the Moon roared as she unleashed her fury in a blast of magic.
Eight ponies and a dragon raced down the halls of the palace.
“Where do you think he’s hiding?” asked Rainbow Dash as she flew above the others.
“I’m not sure. Maybe he used a secret passage out of the castle,” guessed Shining Armor.
“Maybe we could ask those guys,” suggested Pinkie Pie, pointing to the guards that just ran around the corner and were heading right at them. They prepared themselves for a fight, but then they noticed that the guards were in a panic.
“Your Highness!” the led guard called to Celestia. As they approached, she could tell that they were no longer under a spell. “In the throne room! It’s…it’s…”
Celestia didn’t wait for him to finish. She hurried to the throne with the others following her. They entered the chamber and froze at what they saw. Nightmare Moon saw sitting upon the throne and what was left of Blueblood was off to the side of the room. Some of the mane six nearly lost the contents of their stomachs when they saw the remains, but Princess Celestia’s gazed was fixed upon her sister.
“Oh Luna,” Celestia said in dismay.
“Welcome to my castle,” replied Nightmare Moon in a cold tone. She slowly descended the dais to stand before the group.
“The Elements of Harmony!” Twilight said, thinking of using them against the dark alicorn. “We need to get…” She started to run towards with other Bearers, but the doors slammed shut.
“None of you are going anywhere,” Nightmare Moon said darkly. The group looked to Celestia to see if she had a plan. The elder sister calmly walked forward the younger.
“Princess Celestia,” Twilight said to her teacher. “What are we going to do?”
“It will be alright,” reassured her teacher in a soothing voice. “Everypony stand back. I will handle this.”
Nightmare Moon laughed at her sisters words. “You really think that you can defeat me? Ha! You will pay for what you did to me. I swear you will all pay. All of Equestria will pay.”
“No Luna, this ends here.” As Celestia spoke, she was completely calm. There was no hint of anger or aggression in her voice. “Please stop this, sister.”
“You are no longer worthy to call me that!” she yelled in the Royal Canterlot Voice. The force of her voice nearly knocked the others over, but Celestia stood unfazed. “You made me suffer in that frozen Tartarus for a thousand years! You further mocked me by using my own moon to serve as my prison! When I returned, you dared to act as everything was alright between us! How could you possibly think that!? You don’t think I know how everypony thought of me when I returned!? They still hated me! They looked upon me with scorn and fear. They thought that I should have never been release from my exile. They thought I was monster! You only gave me back my responsibilities to try to keep the peace between us. There was never peace between us. You always claimed that we were meant to rule together, but I know the truth.”
“We are meant to rule together.”
“No, you were meant to rule. I was always the lesser sister. The ponies of Equestria would fawn over you and worship you. They only came to you with their petitions and their praises. I was only there to be a convenience for you; to be a steward over what others have forsaken. I gave them all I had; my love, my dedication, my devotion. What did they ever give me; their indifference, their ingratitude, their hatred. I was shunned from the light and forced into the darkness. Things haven’t change. They will never change. Now, it’s time for everypony to suffer as I have suffered, and you will watch. You will watch as they lose all hope, and finally, you will know my pain.”
The two alicorns stood face to face, their eyes locked. A moment of silence passed as they stared each other down. Finally, Celestia raised her hooves and brought them down onto her sister’s neck. Nightmare Moon flinched at the movement. She had expected Celestia to attack, but she didn’t expect that she would strike first or try to strangle her. Nightmare Moon prepared to fight off the assault and retaliate, but the choking sensation never came. Nightmare Moon looked in confusion at Celestia as she realized that she was being hugged by her elder sister. What surprised everyone in the room was that Celestia was crying.
“I know your pain,” Celestia said softly, her tears staining her sister’s neck. “Believe me, I know. I had to suffer the curse of immortality without the only one who I shared it with. I was constantly surrounded by ponies, but I was so alone. I wept for years after you were gone. It pained me to see how little our subjects cared for you. I tried to do everything to help them see you as I did. It pained me every day to raise and lower the moon in your absence. Every time I looked up at the moon and saw your image upon it, I was reminded of my failure to save you.”
“W-what…” Nightmare Moon was paralyzed with confusion. She expected a grand conflict, but what she found was her sister mourning for her.
“Even when you returned, I could sense your pain. I knew you felt like that everypony was judging you, but the truth is that they love you. But you kept your pain to yourself, not letting anyone in. I tried to help you, but you always claimed that you were fine. I knew how you still blamed yourself. The truth is that I have never blamed you. I still don’t.” Celestia released her sister from her embrace, and the two stood there, looking at each other.
“I…I…”Nightmare Moon stammered. Conflicting emotions surged through her. She wanted to believe that her sister was deceiving her, but her words were soothing to her.
“You never deserved all the pain and hatred that was placed upon you. I want to help you, but need to let me help you.”
“You…you’re trying to trick me!” Nightmare Moon stood back into threating stance, her horn glowing menacingly. “You’re just trying to get me to drop my guard!”
“No Luna,” Celestia reassured. “I’m trying to help you. You’ve held on to your pain for so long that you haven’t allowed yourself to heal.” Nightmare Moon remained in a combat stance, but her eyes started fill with tears. “Let it go.”
“I…I can’t…I don’t want to…”
“Let it go. It will be alright. Don’t worry; your big sister is here for you.”
“That’s right, let it go.”
The black alicorn was enveloped in a light. Her body shrunk to its proper size and the armor disappeared. When the light faded, her coat had returned to its natural dark blue color and her eyes where normal again. Luna was shaking and tears were running down her face.
“Tia…I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean it!” Luna sobbed as she fell into her sister’s embrace again.
“Ssshhh…” her sister soothingly hushed her as she comfortingly stroked Luna’s mane. “It’s okay, Lulu, it wasn’t your fault. Everything will be okay.”
As the two sisters embraced each other, the eight ponies and dragon stood by, watching. Realizing that the conflict was over, the ponies turned to Spike.
“Spike!” Rarity exclaimed as she threw her forelegs around his neck, standing on her hind legs to reach him. “You’re alive, and you’ve grown!”
“Yeah, turns out I was going through a growth spurt,” he explained.
“Looking good, big guy,” complimented Rainbow Dash.
“How did you survive the fall?” asked Shining Armor.
“Wings,” answered Spike, flapping his large wings a little.
“But they were so small,” exclaimed Fluttershy.
“Yeah, you could barely get airborne the other day without getting tired,” added Pinkie Pie.
“Well, when you’re failing to your doom, you tend to put everything you’ve got into surviving,” he explained.
“How’d you get so big?” asked Applejack, looking at his larger frame.
“I found a cave filled with gems underneath the bridge.”
“Spike.” He turned to see Twilight Sparkle walking up to him. She stopped in front of him, staring into his eyes.
“Twilight.” Before he could say more, she began crying and she wrapped her forelegs around his neck. He returned the hug.
“I thought you were dead…” she sobbed into his shoulder.
“I’m okay,” he tried to comfort her, but she continued to cry.
“Princess Celestia told me that you were my son, and then I thought I lost you.”
“Your egg, it turns out that you were never supposed to hatch, but I gave life to you. You’re my son…my baby boy…” She started to cry again. The news stunned him, but he embraced it with all of his heart.
“I’m home, Mama,” he said to her, beginning to cry a little himself. Their friends watch as the mother and son hugged each other, crying along with them, happy for their reunion.
After they all had share tears of joy, they left the throne room. Princess Luna walked alongside her sister, Princess Celestia’s wing pulling her into the white alicorn’s side. The two alicorns stopped at Blueblood’s body. Beside it was King Sombra’s horn, dark crystals had grown out of it like a seed sprouting roots. Celestia frown at it and then blasted it into oblivion. Twilight Sparkle and Rarity were both nuzzling against Spike as they followed the princesses. Pinkie Pie bounced after them as Fluttershy and Applejack trotted beside her, and Rainbow Dash flew overhead.
With the demise of Blueblood, the spell that had been placed on certain ponies had been lifted. Thus the day long reign of King Blueblood had ended and he laid on the floor forgotten, unloved, and unmourned.