Applejack steps out of her barn to discover that her home is gone, and the entirety of Sweet Apple Acres has been transformed into a beach. Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash is opening up a juice bar on her front lawn, Pinkie Pie's dancing the hula, and Big McIntosh is getting his groove on. And she soon realizes that her troubles have only just begun.
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I've always found readings to be really bleh. I mean, if I want to read a story, I'll read the damn story myself, and I don't have any long commutes where I would have an opportunity to sit around and do nothing but listen to something anyway. A few people have done readings of a couple of my fics, I think. I couldn't tell you which ones.
Anyway, this guy did a reading of Where Have the Stars Gone? and I thought it was very good. At least it was good enough that I actually listened all the way through it, which I've never done before. If you like that fic, you should listen to it, too.
PS: I don't think I've ever heard my handle said out loud before. It sounds funny.
9 comments · 151 views
Suddenly, she is seeing you farther than she regards. By hardly! it directs you if you are pretty enough to regret. Ability to think, enquire a settled prudence, you sir. Or easy, I knew she sold on well, this coming year. Something consulted her age, her end procuring. Collecting preference, he inquietuded a projection upon me, in by. So do they of sufficient projecting, attain a thoroughly, uncommonly prosperous conviction. Alas, the principles of our unaffected desires, not for am I astonished, the travelling hearts are no doubt particular.
And so vulgar is she! to on points, are we wanted. Not rapturous! resolving continued! household northward gay! He otherwise supported her instantly. Unfeelingly agreeable, she is suffering it on smallness, the news still be the same, regardless. So come time, not as you must. Go on, your unpleasing possession from us take, she has no unreserved passions. Yet joy exquisite! she put me sometimes into enjoyment, but the perpetual is now. Behind lovers mouths, having length, vanity say she had its love, and no more.
Oh acceptance! Perchance, she comes up, sympathy astonished, and all is delightful. Waiting on him, new lasting towards her bosom. Continuing melancholy, especially so to me. Me! unpleasing! impossible! in attachment, announcing so astonished a feat. What ask the leaf, may she nor upon my door, neither yours. Tended, she remains, at the foot of my stairs. Oh smiling, amiable am I so visited in the cordial offices of our hearts.
Affronting discretion, as we do, is an announcing of our love. Now months esteem! oppose nearer! enabled to the six. She is numerous, unlocked you are, and she will perceive speedily. Affixed offence spirits, or ye of offices between, pay close attention. Real on the shot if we were four! and as it is six. Absolute bachelor! rendered six, nay you poor juvenile. Vanity, entire and only to you. Just one.
im only telling you this because i care
2w, 9hLooking for proofreaders7 comments · 93 views
7 comments · 163 views
I was looking through all my abandoned story projects today, mostly as a means of procrastination, because fuck writing new things. Most of them were abandoned with good reason, very good reason, and usually early on. Most aren't more than 5k words or so, a handful make it up to ten or fifteen. This one, however, is about 30k words long, and looks like it would have kept going for quite a while.
I'm not totally sure what's it about, and I only vaguely remember writing it. Looking through my old outline for it, it looks like it's something about Twilight being possessed by the same entity that possessed Luna and transformed her into Nightmare Moon, and then Twilight going insane and trying to murder Celestia. The story itself is a complete mess. It's mostly made up of long, rambling exposition sequences told from Twilight's bizarre and ruptured point of view that don't make a lot of sense and are way too mythos heavy (though could probably make for an interesting story if I found some way to organize them and write them in a compelling way), and the structure is all over the place, switching on the fly between a scene in which Twilight and Luna do some kind of weird ritual, to a bunch of flashbacks with Celestia secretly manipulating Twilight into doing things that happened in the show, and then some dream sequences that are about fuckifiknow, and a final confrontation between Celestia and Twilight. It actually looks like I was writing a pony version of Absalom! Absalom! and trying to make it just as pretentious and terrible as that novel.
But there was one scene early on that I really liked, though it still has a lot of problems, but still good enough that I considered figuring out a way to fix the story just so I could salvage this one scene. I don't think I will, but I would still like to share this with someone, because otherwise it'll just sit forever in my google docs and never get read by anyone.
It's a bit on the long side. (5k words, I think), but I think it's worth the read. And the formatting is all over the place, because it's a straight copy and paste from GDocs.
Oh, and Gore Warning. There be exploded ponies down below.
Twilight threw open the doors and stepped out into the hall. Royal Guards standing to either side of the door bowed to her.
They are slaves, too, it whispered. You can free them.
Twilight nodded and smiled to them. She felt a little sorry for those guards. They had unwittingly aided a tyrant who had enslaved an entire nation for over a thousand years. She envied their ignorance, too. She had been like them not long ago, happily unaware of the truth of her existence.
She stepped forward. This was not the first time. She had started this walk to the Sunchamber, which was only a short walk down the hall, at least a dozen times before, but she had never finished it. Everytime, doubts had taken hold of her determination, and she had run back to her bedroom with her tail between her legs. Already the doubts began to return. Would her courage fail her again? Was this really the right thing to do?
Then Twilight noticed something odd.
Four guards stood on each side of her door, eight total. That was much more than usual. She had asked the staff never to station more than a single guard outside her bedroom, and she had only consented to that because they had vehemently insisted so.
Which begged the obvious question, why were so many guards standing outside her door?
Past them, she saw at least a dozen more patrolling the hall. She looked closely and realized they weren’t members of the Royal Guard at all. In fact, she couldn’t find a single unicorn or pegasus among them. They were all bat ponies.
That meant the Night Guard, Luna’s personal sentries. They had seemingly invaded her wing of the Castle. They didn’t have any business even being awake at this hour, much less guarding her bedroom.
One Night Guard broke from the rest and trotted stiffly towards. He bowed, pressing his face far closer to the ground than was necessary. The armor he wore was of a much higher quality than the others. It was cast in shining silver and overlaid with intricate designs of constellations.
Twilight narrowed her eyes. Something wasn’t right here.
Be careful, it warned.
“Your Highness, Mistress Luna has declared that it is of the utmost importance that you speak to her at once,” he announced. He spoke quickly and calmly, and she could tell by his tone that he was used to ponies doing as he commanded. “She has urgent matters to discuss with you.”
Twilight almost smiled when she realized who this Night Guard was, but the smile soon vanished. She hadn’t recognized him at first, as she had only seen him in his full uniform once or twice before, only at formal events. Beneath that heavy armor, was Nightwing, the Captain of the Night Guard. Twilight had known very few ponies besides herself who had any real interest in Discordian Era literature. Only one actually, and that pony was Nightwing. She was happy to call him a friend, and they had started something of an impromptu book club among the Castle staff. At any other time, running into him might have meant a fun discussion of Pygmalion’s hellenistic deconstruction of Heart of Darkness, a classic of the Discordian Era.
But not now. Twilight had become familiar with the contrast between his warm, friendly demeanor in casual conversation, and his cold, soldierly demeanor while leading the Night Guard. Everything about him, the curtness of his speech, his stiff stance, told her this meeting was business only. That armor he wore wasn’t the showy stuff he wore to events, either. She could tell by its thickness and design that it was made for battle, not show. As Captain of the Night Guard, Nightwing was Luna’s champion warrior, and she had sent him in full battle gear to ambush Twilight outside her bedroom door.
Twilight’s wings tensed of their own accord and she subtly readied her magic. Something really wasn’t right here.
The Keeper of the Night has machinations of her own, it whispered quietly so the guards wouldn’t hear. They cannot be trusted.
No, Twilight agreed, they couldn’t be trusted. Luna was up to something. “What urgent matters?” she asked.
“I apologize, Your Highness,” the Captain said, still bowing. “She did not elaborate. She said only that she wished to speak to you as soon as you awoke.” He glanced up. “If I may speak openly, Her Mistress appeared to be in great distress. We should not delay.”
You cannot go to her, it warned.
“Shouldn’t Luna be asleep now?” Twilight asked, glancing out one of the hall windows. It looked to be nearing noon.
“Indeed,” the Captain answered. His voice was cool, measured. Twilight decided she would have very much liked to have him at her side during a crisis. She also decided she didn’t as much like for him to ambush her as soon as she walked out of her bedroom. “Her Mistress wanted to be here herself when you woke. But she has worked herself near exhaustion these past few nights, though I know not on what. I advised her to rest. She is gathering her strength now. Her Mistress asked for you to be led to her chambers as soon you rose, however. We will wake her there.”
Let her rest. It will be easier for her this way. Twilight thought it almost sounded giddy at learning that Luna was asleep. She would only be a nuisance.
Yes, Luna would only be a nuisance. She had been a nuisance ever since she had led Twilight into the mountain. She concerned herself with Twilight’s personal matters all too often, asking her how she was feeling and how she was handling the changes.
Though, now that Twilight considered it, why was that irritating? If anything, Twilight should have been grateful to Luna for being concerned about her wellbeing.
The claws buried themselves inside her head. They started at the forehead, and dragged downwards, scraping across the inside of her skull, causing her teeth to rattle. Twilight could hear the claws peeling at her bone. They reached the backs of her eyes, and tore at the flesh.
Pain exploded in Twilight’s head. She gasped and staggered.
No,it hissed. She only condescends you. She believes you are weak. She believes you cannot perform your duties. She believes only she is fit to rule. That must be why she sent her her chattel to restrain you. The Keeper of the Night believes only she is fit to rule.
It had been very condescending, Twilight realized. And Luna certainly thought very highly of herself.
The pain diminished and Twilight’s head cleared the more she thought on it. Luna had fretted over her like an old mother hen fretted over a sickly chicklet. Not like two equals who would soon rule a nation together.
“Your Highness, you must come with me.”
Twilight blinked and noticed that the other Night Guards had begun gathering in a loose circle around her, and those who had been patrolling in the hall had begun walking closer. “No,” she growled back through gritted teeth, still feeling the lingering touch of pain. “I have important business to attend to.”
The Captain stood up to his full height, his armor clinking. He flared his membranous, black wings to full span. Twilight suddenly realized just how big he was. Even by bat pony standards, he was massive. She expected he stood at least a foot taller than Big Mac, and had the muscle to match his stature. “Your Highness, I have been ordered to escort you to Her Mistress’s chambers. Please come with me.”
Twilight hesitated. “I—I told you, I have important business to attend to.” She began trotting forward.
The Keeper of the Night has seen into your dreams, it whispered bitterly. She suspects what you plan to do. She wants the throne for herself.
The Captain blocked her path, his expression still neutral. “Your Highness, I have been ordered to escort you to Her Mistress’s chambers. You will come with me.” His expression may have remained neutral, but his voice had adopted a very distinct edge. The circle around Twilight tightened.
“Get out of my way!” Twilight ordered. Her voice shook.
“You will come with me,” Nightw—no, the Captain, repeated calmly. He took one step forward. “Her Mistress commanded it be done, no matter by what means.”
Betrayers! it spat. Do you see? Do you see what she is willing to do?
Twilight took a step back before realizing that several Night Guard had blocked the entrance to her bedroom. “You can’t force me to come with you.”
“I would prefer not to.” The Captain took another step forward, his expression hardening. “But I will if I have to.”
Let him try, it sneered.
Twilight spun around, eyeing the circle of Night Guard surrounding her. At least a dozen had formed a tight ring around her, and she saw more coming in from the hall beyond. She couldn’t find any obvious route of escape, except by flying. None of them had spread their wings yet. Twilight didn’t want to fight them. Luna personally trained each member of her Guard. Twilight wasn’t certain she could subdue this many at once. Beyond that, she wasn’t certain she could hurt an innocent pony anyway. These guards certainly didn’t know of the plot that they unwittingly aided. They were only following orders.
“Does Princess Celestia know about this?” Twilight asked, preparing her wings for flight.
“We answer to Her Mistress, Princess Luna.” At some unseen signal, several of the Night Guard took to the air, closing the door on Twilight’s last means of escape without using force.
You have no choice.
“I could have you all… all... banished!” Twilight cried, desperately looking back and forth across the hall. But everywhere she looked she saw more Night Guard. Soon, she wouldn’t have any choice.
If the Guards were at all worried by her threat, they didn’t show it. They continued stepping towards her. The circle became tighter and tighter with each passing moment.
You have no choice, it repeated.
Twilight shook her head. She couldn’t.
You must, it said. If you let them take you to her, all will be lost. You will never be free.
The Captain touched her chest. The steel of his horseshoe felt cold against her coat. “Your Highness, Twilight, you must come with me.” The circle had closed, and the bat ponies were so close she could feel their breaths on her coat.
Now, it commanded. Do away with them.
Twilight looked between each of the guards’ faces. She didn’t see enemies. She didn’t see monsters. She only saw ponies.
You doom yourself, it said. If you let them take you, you doom your friends, your family, your subjects, all those you pledged to protect, all those you ever loved, you doom them all to ignorant servitude for the rest of their lives. Do you no longer care about your friends?
Twilight’s eyes stung and her vision went blurry as she fought back tears. Of course she still cared about her friends. She wanted to help them. More than anything she wanted to free them. But this… She didn’t know if this was the right thing to do.
“You leave me no other choice.” The Captain sighed. “Restrain her.”
Four sets of hooves instantly seized Twilight and held her tight. Only a moment later, she felt a magic inhibitor slip over her horn and ropes wrapped around her wings.
Fight back! it screamed.
Twilight only shook her head. “I don’t know what to do…”
“Walk,” the Captain ordered.
The bat ponies pressed to Twilight’s sides began marching forward, forcefully pushing her ahead along with them. All she saw was a mess of dark coats and armor, and all she heard was the beat of hooves marching in formation and the rustling of armor. She resigned herself to their grip.
Suddenly, the claws were in Twilight’s head. They tore at her skull as wildly as a rat desperately trying to escape from a trap.
Twilight screamed. She heard the claws scraping and scratching and tearing at the bone, ripping her skull apart piece by piece. Pathetic fool! A sharp ringing filled her ears and her vision blurred. She stumbled, pushing one of the guards aside by accident.
“I said restrain her!” she heard the Captain yell.
The claws would break through her skull any moment, she could tell. They threw themselves against the walls of her head so violently she could hear them crack.
You have doomed yourself!
The pain was overwhelming. She couldn’t think. She could feel the hooves of the Guards on her, feel the burn of their ropes on her legs and wings. She had fallen on the floor at some point, she couldn’t remember when.
“I don’t know what to do,” she whispered. She couldn’t hurt the bat ponies, even now. She knew she had betrayed all of her friends, but she just couldn’t raise a hoof against these ponies who hadn’t done anything wrong. The claws scraped harder, and the pain worsened.
Then let us help you, it whispered to her over the shrieking of the claws on bone. Give your magic to us. We can help you save your friends.
“I…” She felt herself being dragged across the hard stone floor of the Castle hall. She writhed on the floor, throes of pain wracking her body, hearing the claws squeal across her skull. She tasted blood.
Let us save you, it pleaded. Let us help you save your friends. You cannot do this alone. Give your magic to us.
The pain diminished some.
It was impossible take control of another’s magic by force. However, it could be given freely, if the other knew how to control it. It was one of the very few studies of magic expressly forbidden by the Princesses. In school, it had been ingrained in Twilight’s head to never give up control of her own magic, or to take control of another’s. Punishments for breaking such rules were dire, and that didn’t even taken into consideration the danger involved in the act itself. Some warned that a skilled magic user could take control of a unicorn’s entire body through their magic.
There is no other way. We do this only to protect you, to protect your friends.
“Okay…” The pain diminished more. As the guards dragged Twilight across the floor, she reached into herself, and let go of her magic. She set it free for anyone to take the reigns.
She felt something else, something that wasn’t her, grasp her magic as its own.
She felt her magic immediately begin to coalesce in her chest. It was the strangest sensation to feel her magic move unbidden, outside of her own control. It was a feeling similar to if her legs had suddenly begun deciding for themselves which direction they would walk.
Close your eyes, it whispered. The magic continued gathering in her chest. It grew larger and stronger every moment.
Twilight squeezed her eyes shut. Her chest tingled and burned as the magic boiled together within. It stirred together like stew in a pot. Blistering fire and scorching lightning swirled inside of her, pulsing up and down her legs along with her heartbeat.
Only the most powerful spells needed this amount of magical buildup. Few unicorns could gather so much without harming themselves. Twilight didn’t know what it was planning to do, but she only hoped the bat ponies wouldn’t be hurt.
She felt herself being raised off the floor and into the air.
“What’s she doing?” she heard one of the Night Guard ask.
She continued rising in the air, the magic still growing.
“Why isn’t the magical inhibitor working?” another asked, behind her this time.
Twilight kept her eyes closed, but the magic being emanated from her horn was so bright she could still see its glow from behind her eyelids. It pulsed and bubbled with the magic building inside her. It neared her breaking point. Even she couldn’t wield this much magic at once.
“I told you to restrain her!” Nightwing roared.
Suddenly, the magic surged upwards. She winced as lightning shot up her chest in an instant, up her neck in another, beneath her face, and finally into her horn. The magical inhibitor melted, and the magic released.
Keep your eyes closed. It is better if you do not see this.
The back of Twilight’s eyelids lit up with an incredibly bright white light. She couldn’t have opened her eyes even if she wanted to, the light shined so intensely. The guards fell silent.
Then someone screamed. Twilight didn’t know if it was her or one of the Night Guard. Another scream soon followed the first, piercing the quiet like a knife’s edge. And then another. A dozen more after that, arising together in a sickly chorus. Then they all came at once, cries of absolute terror and pain, echoing in Twilight’s ears again and again. She could feel each scream hit her, like being slapped repeatedly. She winced and cringed away from them, but she couldn’t escape those pained cries.
Something touched her, a hoof, grabbing at her legs. She cried out and tried to kick it away, but it held fast, reaching higher, trying to pull her down.
Away with you! it bellowed.
The hall had suddenly become very hot, as if a fire had been lit mere inches away from her face, and she smelled something like marshmallows being burnt over a campfire. The hooves holding her fell away.
She heard other sounds among the screams. The crackle and pop of a fire. Bits of conversation shouted back and forth, panicked and furious. Hooves running across stone floor. Clangs of metal. Sickening crunches of something hard being broken. The flapping of wings. The tearing of something soft and sinewy. Sloshing, slippery sounds as if someone were mopping the floor.
Then crying, abruptly cut short.
The screams stopped. Just as suddenly as they had arisen, they fell into silence. The light dimmed and Twilight felt her body lowering. Her hooves gently rested on the stone floor.
Do not open your eyes, it whispered.
Twilight sniffed. The stench of something burnt singed her nose. She cocked her head to the side, listening. She heard a strained, gurgling sound, and a steady drip drop, drip drop of what sounded like raindrops falling into a pool of water. She heard no sign of the Night Guard. She assumed they had been scared away by whatever her magic had done.
That must have been what happened, she assured herself. The drip drop, drip drop lingered.
Walk forward, but keep your eyes closed, it whispered soothingly. You must reach the Sunchamber now.
Twilight nodded and stepped forward. Her hoof landed in a puddle with a little splash. Twilight froze.
She felt her hoof lay in a pool of something wet, and warm, and thick. Nausea and burning bile rose in Twilight’s throat. She swallowed it back down, but it left an awful taste on her tongue. She could barely hear her own breathing over the sound of the steady drip drop, drip drop that rang out from all around her, like a pair of clanging church bells that tolled more violently with every wrench of the cord.
She wanted to step back, to get out of that puddle of she-didn’t-know-what, to turn and run away, to be anywhere but in that hall with that perpetual drip drop, drip drop. But something held her back and kept her hoof stuck in that puddle, no matter how hard she strained. Something inside of herself that wasn’t her held her fast. She tried instead to flare her wings and fly away, but the same something bound her wings to her sides. Her breath came faster.
You must go on. You cannot stop now, it told her.
Twilight swallowed again, trying to bring steady her breath.
Twilight took one final deep breath, and stepped forward. Her hoof landed with another splash. She did all she could to ignore the warm fluid around her hooves, to think about anything but its clinging touch. She stepped forward again, and another splash, and then once again, and another splash. She went one step at a time, and with each step a splash. The gurgling sound grew louder. She had almost forgotten about it among the drip drop, drip drops and the splashes and the burnt stink in her nose.
It continued growing louder, and Twilight realized she must be getting closer to its source. It couldn’t have been more than a foot away, now. As she walked and splashed, the gurgling sound suddenly erupted into a storm of sputtering gags and coughs, just by her side.
Twilight froze. The sputtering, gurgling something splashed loudly as if it were thrashing about in the puddles, desperately trying to stand, or run, or crawl. Twilight felt an unbidden flare of magic pass through her horn. Then the gurgling something fell silent once and for all. All that was left were the drip drop, drip drops, the burnt stink, and the sound of her own heavy breaths.
Walk, it told her.
Twilight walked again, faster than before, her eyes still screwed shut. The splashes of her hooves grew louder the faster she walked and she walked faster in response.
There was something in the puddles beneath her. She felt little things in the puddles, soft things like bits of pulp in fruit juice. The largest were only the size of small rocks and squished beneath her hooves every other step. Some of it felt hard like sandstone, but still easily cracked and shattered to dust when stepped on. Occasionally, in the deepest pools of the slop, where it rose over her hooves so she had to slosh her way through, her legs stumped into hard pieces of metal. Some were as big as her head and very nearly tripped her each time she clanged into one.
She walked faster still, breaking into a full trot with the drip drop, drip drops all around her and the splashing and squishing and crunching beneath her and the burnt stink in her nose.
Abruptly, as she ran through darkness, a great drop of the something warm, and wet, and thick fell on her head. It seeped into her mane just as another fell on her earlobe, spilling down into her ear and trickling down the side of her neck.
Twilight screamed. She galloped, eyes shut. She raced forward as fast as her legs could go. Her hooves splashed so fiercely through the puddles that they spattered the warm, wet something onto her belly and chest. More and more drops of it fell onto her head and ears and face and back, and squished and crunched beneath her, and she sprinted faster ahead.
The hall shouldn’t have been this long. There couldn’t have possibly been this much of the something she-didn’t-know-what on the floor and ceiling. This shouldn’t have been, couldn’t have been possible. But the hall didn’t end, the something didn’t diminish. Twilight ran faster.
She ran harder than she ever thought she had before, taking in great big heavy breaths of the burnt stink as she went that made her eyes water even when they were closed. She ran into a deep puddle, straight into something both hard and soft. She stumbled over it, and fell.
She cried out and held a wet hoof up to protect her face just as her head and chest splashed through the puddle and hit the hard stone of the floor beneath.
The warm, and wet, and thick something was all over her. She raised her head out of the puddle and gasped, and it spilled down her head and face and into her mouth, tasting like copper and rust. Desperately, she coughed the blood back out. Because that was what is was. It was blood and she couldn’t pretend it was anything else anymore. It was warm, and wet, and thick and it was blood, and it was the blood of the ponies who had just spoken to her, touched her, and it had been in them, and now it was in her mouth and in her eyes and in her nose and in her ears, and in her mane, and all over her face, and dripping into puddles on the floor from the ceiling and down her neck, and that something hard and soft she had tripped on had been one of them, and that burnt stink in her nose was him, and now what had been inside him was on and in her.
Twilight’s chest heaved violently. Her eyes opened and she saw red, nothing but red. Her chest heaved again, and bile and vomit burned up her throat and onto her tongue. She vomited into the red puddle at her hooves, taking deep breaths between heaves of her gut. Even as she vomited, she kicked at the blood around her, mixing with her stinking bile, desperate to get it away from her. She clawed at her face, trying to rub away the blood that dripped down her forehead and stung her eyes. But her hooves were dripping with it and she only spread more red warmth over herself. She screamed, the shriek of it ripping through her throat, and vomited again, and tried to kick it away. She slipped and her head splashed into the puddle again and bounced off the stone.
Twilight’s chin ached and her vision had gone blurry. She blinked, and slowly her eyes cleared. In the red, lying just in front of her nose, she saw shining silver armour overlaid with constellations twisted around something blackened and burnt.
Twilight cried, hot tears streaking the red on her face. She had done this. She had killed him, Nightwing. She tried to kick and crawl away, but only slipped again, and cried harder.
Enough! it roared in her head.
Twilight only shook her head and cried. She kept kicking, kept trying to run away.
We said enough! it roared again.
Twilight’s legs suddenly fell still of their own accord. But she still shook.
You must calm yourself.
“I killed them!” Twilight said.
Twilight’s head sunk, and she cried again. “No…”
Surely you knew sacrifices would need to be made? it whispered quietly. Surely you knew you could not not do this with your hooves still clean?
Twilight shook her head. “I wanted to help them.”
You are, and you can, it assured her. A millenia of tyranny cannot be ended without some blood being spilled. What happened to these ponies is a tragedy, but it is nothing before the tragedy of letting all those you swore to protect live in servitude for the rest of eternity.
“But what about—”
They sacrificed themselves for your cause, though they did not know it. They are heroes. They will be grieved and they will not be forgotten. When this is done, they will be honored and celebrated as heroes.
Twilight opened her eyes. “Honored?”
Yes, of course, it answered. But would you render their sacrifice meaningless? This must be done. You are the only one who can save them. Would you throw it all away now when you are so close?
“I…” Twilight hesitated.
Would you condemn your family and friends to their fates? Would you dishonor these brave ponies in death by giving up now?
Twilight swallowed. “No.”
Good. You are their protector. You will save them. You know how important what you are doing is, yes? No one else can. Only you.
Twilight nodded, sniffling.
You are a slave, and they were slaves. They would be alive if not for her. You remember what she has done to you, yes?
Twilight nodded again.
She sewed herself into your mind, manipulated you, controlled you, laid out your destiny before you had even uttered your first word. Your friends too, are hers. But no longer. You will end this.
Twilight’s tears began to dry, being replaced by hot, bitter anger. She hadn’t killed them, The Sun had. If it hadn’t been for her, none of this would have happened. She would do this for them, for all of them, for all those who had fallen for her schemes and ill designs. She would end this.
Are you ready?
“Yes,” Twilight answered immediately, without the slightest hesitation.
Good, it purred. Then close your eyes.
Twilight steeled her face and closed her eyes.
She felt her magic wash through her coat. It traveled from her horn to her hooves, pushing away the blood and the vomit and the tears. When it had finished tickling her coat and dispersed away into the air, she felt clean and fresh again, as if she had just stepped out of a hot shower.
Are you ready to go on? it asked.
Twilight took a deep breath and nodded. She stepped forward, very slowly, and then stopped again. She held her hoof just above the floor. Just beneath her, she knew, lay the pooling red warmth.
Now, it said curtly. There is no time for this.
Her hoof abruptly lowered. She cringed, waiting for the warm splash that would accompany her every step.
Her hoof fell on dry stone. Twilight padded at the floor. All she felt was stone. Surprised, she opened her eyes.
Stop! it shouted.
Twilight’s eyes instantly shut again, before she could see more than just a blurry outline of the hall.
You cannot look.
Twilight frowned. “Why?”
Trust us. You cannot look.
Twilight hesitated, and then nodded.
She thought she heard something almost like a laugh.
Then walk, it said.
Twilight walked. She went slowly this time, careful to keep from stumbling. With every step she expected her hoof to splash in something warm, to squish on something soft, to crunch on something fragile, to stump into something hard. She expected to hear the drip drop, drip drop, or the pained gurgling again. But, nothing.
Even the burnt stink had gone. The hall felt, sounded, and smelled just as it always had, as if nothing had happened at all. Perhaps she had simply moved away from the mess? Either way, she walked easily forward. She never even so much as bumped into one of the walls or tripped on one of the cracks in the floor. It was as if some knowing, guiding force haunted her legs.
Stop, it said.
Twilight stopped, one hoof held raised and still in the air.
You are here, it exclaimed. Open your eyes.
Twilight opened her eyes, and saw the wooden door of the Sunchamber before her. It looked the same as every other door in the Castle. Only a simple insignia carved into its center separated it from the others, a circle surrounded by by flares. The symbol of the Sun.
Twilight had never gone this far. When she first began having the dreams, just after journeying with Luna beneath the mountain, she had avoided this place. She hadn’t even been willing to do so much as glance in its direction for fear of waking the dreamed fires. This place, the place where her dreams always ended.
When she had realized what the dreams meant, what she had to do, she had tried to come here. But always, she had failed. Every time, doubts and fears had arisen that held her back.
This time, though, she had reached the door. And now here she stood, it mere inches from her nose. There was some irony at play in this, she mused. All those times when the path had been open, she had been stopped by her own worries. But this time, when so many had tried to keep her back, she had finally reached the end.
This is what they gave their lives for, it said. For you to be here. For you to do this.
Yes, Twilight decided. This was for them. For all of them. She thought of Nightwing, and smiled. This was for him and for all of her other friends. She turned back to look for him.
Stop! it cried.
A feeling like ice gripped Twilight’s neck. She froze, halfway through the act of turning.
We told you not to look back, it whispered, like a hissing snake.
“I—I’m sorry,” Twilight stammered. “I forgot!” She tried to jerk her neck back, but her muscles were frozen. Her throat began to feel numb.
You no longer have the luxury of forgetting, it chided. Warmth returned to Twilight’s neck. Any mistake could lead to the loss of everything you have worked for.
Feeling returned to Twilight’s neck. She turned away from the hall and towards the door. It was right, of course. She couldn’t play around any longer. She had to do this, and she had to do it right. “I understand.”
Then go in.
Twilight’s magic opened the door.
She stepped inside. Even as it closed behind her, she didn’t notice that she hadn’t been the one who summoned the magic to manipulate the door.