Swedish guy with too much imagination. Draws comics as a hobby and writes as a diversion.
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Part 1: Parasite
“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
Twilight was thinking. It was only a half-formed thought, though, with no real hooks she could attach to anything else. Perhaps it was more of a musing than anything else, she was thinking about how everything leaves a trace. like this book, for example, the first casuality of a period where she tried to read in her bathtub. (Everything went well, until spike decided to cannonball in and from that day its had a stain on it.) Perhaps she had just read too much detective fiction, but she could really understand the method Pony detective Solaris Pons used in “The Case of the Missing Horse Shoe”, where one look betrayed that the masked pony claiming to be sent by Duke Kensington was in fact the duke himself wearing a mask. When her assistant, Watterson, questioned her logic, she had brilliant explanation involving pose and accent. Maybe it didn't quite make sense, but she liked the Solaris stories anyway. She looked around the room and imagined herself being able o trace her own steps backwards until the day she moved in and beyond. It was an amusing thought, but after all the times she cleaned, doing so would be difficult, if not impossible. She liked the idea of deduction, though, and she hoped for something she could test her skills on. And it came to her in the form of a knock on the door: ”knock... knock KNOCKknock”. Twilight closed her eyes, and let her mind race. It couldn't be Applejack ,she liked tapping the ”Shave and a haircut” rythm”, and Rainbow Dash was right out, her knock consisted of two loud bangs that could wake the dead, repeated until you opened the door”. Rarity usually knocked in a sequence of three quick knocks, then a fourth one after a few seconds. After that she generally waited for you to open. This knock was....interesting, it had the same rising rythm as Fluttershy's knock, which was usually hard to hear utnil about the third time it was repeated, but something seemed off about it. She had decided, It was either Fluttershy or someone who just happened to knock kinda like Fluttershy... She got shaken out of her thought process when the knock started again: ”Knock... KNOCKNOCK knock... knock?” If it was Fluttershy, she definitely had something on her mind, since she'd rarely knock that forcefully on the door.
“Come in!, Twilight said from across the room.
“Uhm, I'm sorry if I disturbed you”, said a familiar voice from the door.
Sure enough, it was Fluttershy.
”Don't worry, I was just being a bit absentminded”, Twilight said, “so is something troubling you?”
”Oh no, I was just wondering if I could borrow a couple of books from you”, Fluttershy said, “if it isn't too much of a hassle... I got a list here”
Twilight grabbed the list with her magic and made it float in front of her so she could read it.
”Are you sure about this?” Twilight asked, ”this is some pretty difficult books about magic, I don't think even I have read half of these...”
”I'm sorry, if it is too much trouble I can ask someone else”, Fluttershy said.
“Oh no, its's fine!”, Twilight said, “It's just,... you might want to skip this one, “Cult of the Worm”, it was revealed to be a hoax a few years ago, and “The Art of sSmbols in Magic” is an antiqued volume, ”Serrated strokes” By Antonia Egon is a better take on the same subject. The rest are fine books, but you're not a unicorn, you won't be able to learn any spells from these. ”
“Oh, I know, I don't want to do that” she said, “I just stumbled on the subject when I was looking for something else, and I felt I needed to learn more to understand it.”
”Okay, are you sure you can handle it though? Some of these are kinda difficult, not to mention scary! ”The Hook that Scratches the ceiling – collected essays about wild magic” is not for the faint of heart...”
“I'll keep that in mind”, Fluttershy said as she collected the books together in a side-bag.
There are one hundred and sixty four windows in pony-ville, and at three o'clock at night, only three of them had a light shining from behind it. One of them was at Twilight’s house, where Spike was staying up reading the latest book in the “Larry Globetrotter, the Adventures of a World-traveling Dragon”. He'd never admit to liking these books in front of Twilight, or she'd never stop recommending books to him. So for now at least, it was his little secret. The second window that had a light behind it belonged to Vinyl Scratch, who had long ago forgotten the time. She was trying out the latest tracks from the Pony DJ service and she was hopelessly lost in the hypnotic spinning of her turntables. She could sit for hours mixing from one track to another, never missing a beat. She made the heavy snaredrums of ”love is a battlefield” by Vespa match the atmospheric breakdown in ”Djs lifts me higher” by Skittles perfectly, and when the song reached its climax she'd abruptly fade it over to the glazy synth-beeps of “Goblins in drag” by Livinr0dent. That combination of beats always made the audience go crazy. She fell in love all over again with the raspy tones of the Royal 303 bass synthesizer. This was her element, she owned the night.
But what bout the third window? It belonged to someone who would usually go to bed early, Fluttershy. So if anyone was outside at this hour, they'd find it incredibly odd. Inside, an arrangement of oddly shaped leaves was lying on the table. A few of them was smelling faintly of lavender and each tasted of one of the ingredients of Mooncake. She assumed, at least, not that she's tried to taste every one of them. But in a fit of mad experimental spirit, she tried to taste five of them, and it was the case for them at least. On each leaf there was a symbol, some of which she managed to find in the illustations and tables of the books she borrowed from Twilight. Fluttershy sighed.
”I'm going slightly mad” she said to herself, ”if I go to bed maybe the leaves wont even be here tomorrow”.
There was a knock on the door. A few second passed, there was another knock, then two knocks, then five... That was usually how twilight knocked. Fltutershy was stuck with this realizarion for while and then went to the door to open it.
”Oh hello Twilight, what are you doing out this late?”, she asked.
”For some reason, I couldn't sleep”, Twilight explained, “I had these strange nightmares, so I went for a quick walk to clear my mind and when I passed your house, I saw you had the lights on. You're never up this late, is something the matter?”
”Oh no, I was just...”, 'Fluttershy began, but Twilight interrupted.
”Fluttershy, I have enough experience with friendship to know how this goes. Something is bothering you, and you won't tell anyone until whatever is bothering you starts to cause trouble somehow. And it is waay too late right now for a friendship lesson, so if you have something on your mind, please tell me, even if it seems minor and silly”
“Oh okay”, Fluttershy replied, “I'm making some tea for us, green tea, it's not good to drink black tea in the middle of the night, if that's okay with you?”
The two cups was left standing abandoned on the table. They where growing cold as Twilight was examining the leaves.
”I've never seen anything like this before!”, Twilight exclaimed, “Where did you get them?”
“I found them in The Everfree Forest, Angel went missing a few days ago and I was afraid he had gotten lost there.”, Fluttershy explained, “As I was looking for him, I found this strange bush, it had a pink stem and bright blue leaves, these!”, she pointed at one of the leaves on the table. ”It had a strange smell, but you can't smell it from the leaf, and each leaf had the same symbol on it. I didn't know what it was, so I marked the potions on my map in case we needed to find it again, and I picked this leaf as a reminder, it felt sort of tingly in my hoof... Anyway, I found Angel in the toolshed later, poor thing had fallen asleep. The next day I went back to the same place, but the plant was gone. At first, thought I had just misread the map, so I looked around and found five more plants, these five, I marked them on the map too, but I don't know if they are still there. All in all, I found sixteen plants like these, all with a strange symbol on them. I didn't want to worry anyone, you think it might be bad?”
Twilight had a hint of horror in her eyes.
”bad? These symbols come from Demonspeak, one of the most potent magical tounges there is!”, she exclaimed, “I'm really glad I got here, if you had tried to pronounce any three of these in succession, you could've done anything from conjuring a new color to erasing yourself out of existence.”
Fluttershy shuddered, “What do you think may be behind it?”
”I don't know”, Twilight said, “but we should ask Zecora, she knows the forest better than anyone else.” Twilgiht took a look around Fluttershys house, the little nests that lined the ceiling where all occupied by sleeping animals, even the owls where sleeping.
“But let's do it tomorrow”, she added, “It is getting early, in the morning, that is. And I'd like to try to get some sleep tonight.
“Yeah, me too”, Fluttershy said, “Thanks for your help, and forgive me for not telling you about this sooner, I didn't realize...”
The next day, the ponies where standing outside of Zecoras hut, which was essentially a rather twisted hollowed-out tree standing at the edge of the forest. Decorative bottles and charms where hanging on the branches and a mask representing her House-Spirit was perched outside the hut. The door had a knocker shaped like a tiny pierced antelope skull. They knocked on the door, but no-one was answering.
“Maybe she's out?”, Fluttershy suggested.
There was a loud crash from inside the hut, followed by a few other noises and bangs.
“Zecora, are you in there?”, Twilight asked.
Another loud crash, followed by soft chanting.
”We need to talk to you about something, are tou busy?”
The shouting stopped and it turned into tense silence.
”Are you okay? I'm coming in!”,
Twilight twisted the doorknob and gave the door a push. Twilight went in, but Fluttershy was reluctant to just walk in without being invited. At first Twilight didn't see Zecora anywhere, she was too distracted by the state of her hut. A lot of the furniture was broken, and different kinds of occult artifacts where thrown all over the floor. The walls had several thick slashes in it and the pot filled with an unidentifable sludge had been left tipped over on the floor. Eventually however, Twilight spotted something black and whire lying on the ground...
“Fluttershy, you better come over here!”, Twilight demanded.
Zecora was lying on the ground in the remains of what used to be a table, and she was chanting to herself.
“Zecora?”, it took Zecora a while to realize there where people inside her house, and when she did, she suddenly stopped chanting and froze up.
Twilight continues, “Zecora! Are you hurt?”
There was a very loaded silence as she just stared at Twilight and Fluttershy, it wasn't until Twilight broke the silence with, “do you need to get you to the hospital?” that Zecora reacted, she inched closer to Twilight and she spoke slowly and deliberatly.
“Hurt?”, she said, “Pain is a mere physical sensation, my cries come from another dimension!”
Twilight involuntary took a step back.
“oookay...”, Twilight said, you're being creepy and weird right now, do you want to be alone for a while?”
At that Zecora put her hoof around Twilight’s neck and pulled her close, close enough for her to smell Zecoras breath of grass and herbs. She whispered to Twilighy
”Alone I walked trough the forest”. She said, “Alone I hear the voices without rest. Though they are gone now, nothing here to see, I hear the ghost of every bush whisper to me. Each one a cry of endless sadness, they whisper about the dancing madness.”, Twilight was smiling awkwardly, staring down the abyss of Zecoras mad eyes.
”Stop!”, Fluttershy yelled from the corner where she was watching the scene.
”Please don't hurt anyone, Zecora!”, she said, “we'll get you help!”
Zecora let go of Twilight, who crashed down on the ground and looked up towards Fluttershy.
”You say you want to help me too”, Zecora said, but tell me, have the noises also taken you?”
She walked slowly towards Fluttershy, trapping her in the corner of the hut, right next to a creepy-looknig fanged mask of some kind and a row of drid pumpkins on a string.
“Uhm, no?”, Fluttershy replied, desperately hoping that Zecora's mind would accept it as the corrct answer.
Zecora just stared at her, with eyes that almost seemed to glow yellow.
“I know the voices lying way”, she said “I know that the madness will stay!”, Zecora growled, ”those are the lies coming from the voice of a leaf, you're just trying to take my mind like a thief!”
And with that Zecora pounced forward. Fluttershy yelped, but jumped to the side. Zecoras head hit the wall, and shook it enough for the mask to fall down onto her head. She made an unsteady attempt to raise herself up, but stepped trough one of the dried pumpkins, who where now lying on the floor. She got up on her hooves, but lost her balance again, tripped and hit her head for the third time on the hard floor. After the confusion had settled down, Fluttershy couldn’t help but let out a gasp at the sight of poor Zecora lying motionless on the floor. Twilight went up to Zecora and checked for life-signs. Her chest was visibly moving and her pulse was fast, but steady.
”Don't worry, Twilight said , ”she's just knocked out, let's go find doctor for her before she wakes up.”