"Twilight, look!" Spike calls from the balcony, looking left toward the horizon. His scales reflect sunlight into Twilight's eyes.
Ignoring Spike's tone of urgency, Twilight simply squints and decides to finish the paragraph she is reading before bouncing out of bed.
"What is it, Spike?" she asks as she approaches the balcony. On her way there, she sees a crowd forming in the streets, facing the same direction.
"Look!" Spike says again.
Twilight steps onto the balcony and turns to her left. She squints again as she observes a strange light from within the forest that matches the brightness of the sun. She also notices that the forest is covered with thick, black clouds. As her eyes adjust, she sees that the light is taking the form of a vertical pillar, connecting the sky to the ground. Its shape suggests that it is a ray of sunlight, but the ray itself is glowing, giving off its own heat and light, as if it is becoming an extension of the sun itself. A minute has not passed before Twilight starts to sweat from the exposure.
Surrounding the brilliant tower of light is a large fiery ring. A forest fire has started and seems to be constantly expanding, approaching Ponyville.
"Twilight!" Rainbow Dash says as she swoops down to land on the balcony. She doesn't look tired, but her face is soaked with sweat. "The princess is missing — I just went to Canterlot to check."
Twilight turns to look at the forest again.
"The princess is supposed to be controlling the sun. Has anypony looked over there?" Twilight asks, pointing toward the light.
"They've tried. Nopony can even get close; it's way too hot," Rainbow explains. "And it's getting hotter here, too. If this keeps up, we can't stay here anymore. I have to go warn the others!"
Rainbow dashes off, leaving Twilight and Spike alone on the balcony.
"Too hot..." Twilight repeats to herself, recalling a spell that had intrigued her once before. She walks back into her bedroom and pulls a book from the shelf, flipping the pages with telekinesis (TK).
"Aha, the vampire spell."
The vampire spell is capable of making a pony part vampire. Among the benefits of being a vampire are wings, optional breathing, and an incredible resistance to light and heat. This last part was a surprise to Twilight when she first read it, as she had learned from ponylore that vampires are sensitive to sunlight. However, according to the book, this is not the case. Becoming part vampire also has a few undesirable consequences, but Twilight knows it is only temporary. She can dispel it as soon as she is finished.
Confident in her skill, Twilight concentrates as her horn steadily glows brighter. With a magnificent flash of light, a pair of giant bat wings sprouts from her body. She then feels a sudden urge to bite the next pony she sees. After taking a moment to suppress the craving, she walks to her closet and removes a set of hoof boots.
"Spike! Where's that book on enchantments I was reading last week?" Twilight says.
Spike trots back into the room. "It's over he—what? What happened to you?"
Twilight looks at him. She loses her train of thought, feeling as though she can already taste the rich blood from the small dragon.
"Twilight? You're drooling," Spike points out.
"Eep!" Twilight quickly closes her mouth and wipes it with her leg. "Spike! Where's the book I asked for?"
"It's over here." Spike trots over to a shelf and slowly removes a book. The book gently glows purple and then escapes his grasp, flying to Twilight. Twilight rests the book on the ground and flips through pages until settling on a chapter about fireproofing enchantments. She carefully begins to read the instructions.
Spike remains where he is and observes Twilight's rather unusual wings. "Twilight?"
"I'm busy, Spike."
"Are you going to fly toward the fire?" Spike asks, a clear sound of concern in his voice.
Twilight looks up from her book and turns toward the small dragon. "I have to, Spike. The princess is missing and nopony else can do anything about it. Don't worry; I'll be okay."
"Okay," Spike says slowly. He trudges down the stairs.
"I should be okay," Twilight mumbles to herself.
Twilight places the four boots in front of her and concentrates, producing a rather bright glow from her horn as she casts her most powerful fireproofing spell on her boots. She can't begin to guess how hot the immediate vicinity of the light will be, so she needs to prepare for the worst.
She steps into the boots and walks to her balcony. Upon seeing the crowd again, she is hit by a wave of thirst for blood, but her strong sense of duty easily subdues the urge. She flaps her wings, trying to familiarize herself with the new limbs. Leaping into the air, she is delighted to find that her instincts enable her to take flight perfectly.
Hovering with the help of her strong wings, which seem to work with little effort, Twilight turns to face the forest.
"The fire seems to be getting closer. I have to hurry!" Twilight says to herself. She then takes one more look down at Ponyville, noticing the many worried ponies helplessly observing the phenomenon.
"Good luck, Twilight," a familiar voice calls from behind. Twilight turns to see Spike waving. She waves back and smiles awkwardly, conflicted between the desire to comfort Spike, the knowledge that she is risking her life, and the fact that Spike looks oddly delicious right now. The moment ends when Twilight races toward the light, flapping her wings as a giant bat would.
Twilight enters the great wall of smoke caused by the forest fire. As predicted, the vampire spell allows her to continue without breathing. Even if the smoke were not there, the hot air would surely damage her lungs. The smoke-filled air seems to last a surprising distance, but the pillar of light pierces the smoke as if it is not even there, helping Twilight to continue in the right direction.
Soon the smoke thins out enough for her to see that she is within a great circle of black, charred ground, separating the burning forest from the light source. The sky is completely masked with black smoke, except where the light pierces it. In fact, the entire area is so black that the column of light is the only visible light source, giving everything around it an eerily long shadow. Based on the smoldering remains of trees below her, Twilight believes that she too would have burst into flames by this time if not for the help of the vampire spell.
On her way across the blackened plain, she notices wind blowing dust and ash around in violent patterns. The severity of the dust storm increases as she approaches the pillar. As she gets close, she feels her face becoming uncomfortably warm, despite her magical protection. Suddenly she senses... blood?
Twilight sees nothing, but she follows the scent. Soon, through the violent wind-driven dust, she can make out a white figure, clearly visible against the contrast of the black background.
"Princess Celestia! There you are!" Twilight shouts from above. She notices that Princess Celestia is wearing similar protection to her own, but she does not appear to be a vampire.
"Twilight? How did you get here? Nopony else should be able to get near my sunlight."
Seeing and hearing the princess again puts Twilight at ease. It has been at least a couple months since the two last met. Twilight comes to a rest on the ground.
"I used a vampire spell. Vampires are immune to sunlight," Twilight explains.
"No they aren't. Vampires hate sunlight."
"That's what I thought too! And my name is Twilight; everything about this is so ironic."
Celestia averts her gaze and says, "Twilight, you have to leave. I can't have you getting in the way of this."
Twilight walks up to the princess. Heated dust continues to swirl about the two ponies. "Why? What are you doing?"
Princess Celestia snaps, "I don't have time to explain. You need to get out of here, now!"
"But you're burning down the forest!" Twilight complains. "Ponyville is going to burn down soon! You need to stop!"
"Twilight. Leave now, or I will remove you myself!"
Shocked, Twilight leaps into the air and hovers. Glaring down at the princess, she shouts, "I am not leaving until you tell me what is going on!"
The intense heat has been getting to both ponies.
The princess stands on her hind legs and points her glowing horn at Twilight. "So be it!" she shouts. A moment later, Twilight is enveloped in a pale green glow.
A popping sound occurs, and Celestia's concentration is lost. She opens her eyes to see Twilight recovering from a recent exertion of her own magic.
"Is that the best you can do, Princess?" mocks Twilight. "I'll be here all day!"
Celestia stands on all fours and concentrates harder. Her horn glows, nearly opaque, and sparks fly from it. The thick, heated air that surrounds the two ponies seems to acquire a static charge. Soon sparks fly all around Twilight, and a spherical cage of electric arcs encloses her. Twilight lets this effect take place for curiosity's sake and then attempts to dispel it as well. The cage fades briefly, but it comes back into full force.
Twilight, undaunted, develops a more determined expression on her face and causes her horn to glow sharply. She teleports, only to arrive in the same place she started.
Celestia, realizing her success, relaxes and looks at Twilight within the lightning cage.
"Now, Twilight, I am sending you back home. You should think about how you have behaved today. When I am done, I'll..."
A blinding flash from the cage, accompanied by a loud buzzing sound, overpowers all of the light in the area, even that from the pillar itself. Upon adjusting her now very wide-open eyes, Celestia finds that Twilight has flown straight through the barrier of lightning. Twilight's wings maintain flight, but her body convulses as small electric arcs dance about her. Celestia blinks in surprise; she did not expect Twilight to still be conscious.
Fighting the paralyzing impulses within her body, Twilight says, "I'm... stronger than... you think I... am."
Twilight hopes that her persistence will cause Celestia to back down and talk to her, but the opposite happens. Celestia, for the first time in Twilight's presence, shows signs on her face that she is losing control of herself. Twilight sees something in the princess' eyes that scares her. Twilight is familiar with Celestia's look of disappointment, her look of chastisement, and even, on occasion, her look of anger, but her anger always seemed controlled, as if she had it for a specific purpose and could rid herself of it any time she chose. This is different.
This is a look of genuine hate.
"You are making a big mistake, Twilight Sparkle. I was going easy on you. Your vampire spell is the only reason you are not lying helpless on the ground right now."
Twilight is speechless. She senses the princess' implied threat of dispelling her vampirical side. This close to the fiery beam, she would be instantly fried, and she isn't confident her own magic would be enough to save her. This seems to be a most severe punishment, one unspeakable for anypony to do, let alone the princess, but Twilight saw something in Celestia that didn't belong, and now she no longer feels secure in calling any bluffs.
"I will say this one more time, and for your sake you had better listen. Leave. Now." Celestia's eyes supplement her threat.
Fear fills Twilight's being. Would the princess really go that far? Is whatever task she is working on truly worth the life of her student? Twilight can only think of one thing to say.
"Or else what?" Twilight asks, much of her enthusiasm gone.
"Or else I will end you."
Twilight is overcome with horror as she gazes upon one she formerly knew as her mentor, one she trusted and respected. She needs not hold back her tears, for they are vaporized as soon as they surface. However, she does not find the will to continue fighting. Her demise at the hooves of Celestia has become too real in her mind. She quietly flies herself away as fast as she can.
Again in the solitude of ashes and smoke, Twilight reflects on what just happened, her thoughts running amuck.
"The Princess is controlling the ray of light, but why? Why would she be willing to sacrifice me? Is she willing to sacrifice Ponyville, too? Why couldn't she tell me what she was doing? What's the rush?"
Twilight has had many questions in her life, and so she returns to the place that has offered many answers: her library.
... or what's left of it.
Upon reaching Ponyville, Twilight discovers that the forest fire has nearly reached the town. Signs that Ponyville is far too hot are also evident. The distorting effect of heated air can be seen in every street. Leaves and grass within the town have begun to shrivel. There are very few ponies outside anymore; it seems everypony is evacuating.
Twilight approaches her treehouse to find that it, too, is suffering from the heat. She lands on the wooden balcony, causing smoke to seep out from beneath her boots. She quickly lifts off again, leaving a black bootprint, and decides to approach the front door instead. She removes her boots and leaves them outside on stone to avoid setting anything on fire. The ends of her legs are a safe temperature for the inside, but the same can't be said for the rest of her body. She opens the door with TK.
"Twilight?" Spike says as he walks into view of the doorway. "Twilight!" Spike runs over to greet his favorite pony with a hug.
"Don't touch me! I'm really hot."
Spike stops in front of Twilight. "And I'm a dragon, remember? I can handle hot." Spike leaps up to Twilight and squeezes her, and then he immediately jumps off.
"Yowww!!!!!" Spike says as he runs around with a red face and arms.
"Spike!" Twilight gallops outside, Spike floating behind her in magical tow. Twilight, electing to use purely TK in her current state, turns on the garden hose and douses Spike for a minute. Afterwards, Spike calms down, but he makes an observation.
"The water isn't cold."
"Really?" Twilight asks.
"Yeah. It's supposed to cool off after you run it for a while, but it hasn't!"
Twilight allows the water hose to drop and uses her wings to dart up into the air, looking at the distant water tower. Spike runs into the house.
"The heat is affecting this whole town, and it's only going to get worse," Twilight explains. "We need to find out what Princess Celestia is doing!" Twilight lowers herself to the ground as Spike runs back outside.
"What's happening? Did you find the princess?" Spike asks.
Twilight looks at the ground. "The princess was there, but I still don't know what's happening; she ordered me to leave without explaining anything." Twilight lets out a sigh of frustration. "This isn't like the princess! Something is wrong."
A sharp sizzling sound starts up behind her head. Twilight turns to observe a sandwich being grilled on her own back.
"Spike!" Twilight shouts as she uses TK to return the sandwich to its owner. "That's disgusting!"
"Aww," Spike whines, as he takes his warm sandwich.
Twilight magically lifts the hose and covers herself in water, producing a giant cloud of steam as the water makes contact with every part of her superheated skin. It is, however, cool enough to bring her skin to a safe temperature. She turns off the hose and shakes dry.
"Come on, Spike!" Twilight says as she gallops inside.
Spike enters a moment later and follows her upstairs, finding that she is already patrolling the bookshelves. Twilight removes a book on sun-related spells, sits on the floor, and begins to study intently. Spike, feeling the need to help in some way, sits down beside her and pretends to read.
A loud crumbling sound outside breaks Twilight's concentration and wakes up Spike.
"Huh? What happened?" Spike sits up and rubs his eyes.
"Go take a look, please," Twilight says, her attention returning to the book.
Spike looks out the window and reports, "The neighbor's house collapsed!"
This info barely registers in Twilight's mind, as she has found a section of the book that may shed some light on the light.
"Twilight?" Spike suddenly sounds very worried. Twilight, still engrossed, does not respond.
"Twilight, our house is on fire!"
Twilight reads the word "fire" at the same time Spike says it. It registers as something mildly humorous until it clicks that fire is a very bad thing. Twilight looks up, startled.
"Where?" she shouts as she runs over to Spike.
Spike points out the window. The entire town is covered in a far more intense light than before, and, sure enough, the branches on Twilight's treehouse are smoking. It seems every wooden structure directly in front of the light is about to burst into flames. Twilight has a number of things running through her head. She needs to prevent her treehouse from burning down. She can do this with a bubble spell, but it will be hard to concentrate on her book while keeping the spell active. She's also concerned about Spike. He is a dragon, and dragons are resistant to heat, but it may not be safe for him to absorb that much direct sunlight if they go outside. Twilight knows she is safe as a vampire, but she's not about to create the first vampire dragon.
Still, if the library burns, so do all the books, and Twilight needs these books. Twilight finds a comfortable stance, shuts her eyes, and focuses. Her horn produces a wide glow, and the light from outside changes from a blinding white to a bright purple. The treehouse is enclosed in a large magical bubble, blocking most of the outside light. The tree branches continue to smoke but to a lesser degree. Twilight carefully opens her eyes and walks back to the open book, her horn continuing to glow. She holds a stressed look on her face as she sits down and begins to read while simultaneously sustaining the powerful bubble spell.
Spike walks over to observe Twilight's efforts. He notices that Twilight's eyes pause at each word in the book, compensating for what little spare concentration she has. Seeing that Twilight is busy, Spike decides to help himself to some ice cream. It is a very hot day, after all.
There is no answer.
"Spike, I know what Princess Celestia is doing. Spike?"
It is unusual for Spike not to answer; he usually wakes from a deep sleep after the first call.
"Spike! Where are you?"
Twilight stands up and walks slowly, continuing to provide the necessary focus for her bubble spell. She spots some empty tubs of ice cream on her way down the stairs, as well as large globs of melted ice cream forming a trail toward the guest room. As she approaches the room, she smells smoke. She opens the door to find that her bubble spell has partially collapsed. A scorching ray has burned its way through the wall and turned the room almost completely black. The smoke begins to fill the rest of the house. Twilight runs in, knowing her immunity to the rays and the smoke, but she trips and loses her focus, causing the bubble to vanish completely. The entire house is bathed in brilliant white light, and smoke rises from any part of it that is lit.
Right now there is only one thing on her mind: finding Spike. She darts to the side of the bed. According to Spike's scent, he should be right there, but all she sees is a tub of boiling ice cream atop the flaking remains of the mattress. Horrified, she watches the ice cream bubble. "S-S-Spike?" she stutters.
Something reaches out from under the bed and grabs Twilight's leg.
"Yahhhh!" Twilight jumps and sees Spike hiding beneath the decaying bed for shade. She breathes a heavy sigh of relief and casts a new bubble spell around the house, returning the lighting to its former purple glow.
"Spike! Are you okay?"
Spike coughs a few times. "Yeah, I'm okay. I am a dragon, after all. And sorry about the ice cream."
Twilight smiles, a tear rolling down the shaded side of her face. "It's okay."
Spike crawls out from beneath the bed, covered in soot. Sniffling slightly, Twilight leads Spike out of the room, trying to banish her sudden craving for fried dragon blood.
Returning to the book, Twilight begins to explain her findings to Spike.
"It's called a Sun Stiletto. Celestia is magically focusing most of the sun's energy into a single ray aimed at the ground. The only purpose of this spell would be to rid something of a dark influence, since the sun's focused energy contains the magic to purge all impurities, but if sunlight is focused into the ground for too long, the stored energy will cause the planet to crack. Spike, there is absolutely no good reason for the Sun Stiletto to have gone on for this long. We have to stop her!"
"But what can I do?" the baby dragon asks.
Twilight ponders for a moment. Spike is in no shape to take on the princess, even in a vampire form. The library will probably burn up the moment she leaves, so she first needs to get Spike to safety. The house and its furniture can be replaced; this wouldn't be the first time the library has been destroyed.
"Spike, I need to get you to safety. You can't stay here."
"The other five ponies came by while you were out and told me where everypony evacuated to. I can show you," Spike says.
"All right, but first I need to study more. The library will burn down as soon as I leave, and I need to get ready."
"Okay," Spike says, going straight for the last tub of ice cream. Twilight shakes her head, but she has bigger things on her mind. She recalls that the princess threatened to dispel her vampirical side if she does not leave, but the vampire spell is the only way she can survive the magnified sunlight. This leaves only one option in Twilight's mind, one that she dreads. She will have to modify the spell so that the vampire becomes a true part of her and not just a magical addition. This will prevent herself, or anypony else, from dispelling it... ever.
Twilight, now acclimated to maintaining a house-sized bubble, studies the vampire spell over and over. Immediately after finishing the lengthy description, she begins reading from the top again. She is well aware of the changes that accompany this modified spell. By permanently becoming a vampire, all of her vampiric tendencies will increase in severity, her behavior and instincts will adjust to accomodate her new species, and ultimately she will become, as far as she knows, the first true vampire unicorn. It is a most troubling image.
Having memorized the text, Twilight sifts through her thoughts, still moving her eyes across the text as if she is reading. She is stalling, and she knows it.
"Hmm?" Spike says, removing his head from the ice cream tub.
"I wish there was another way, but I am going to have to be a vampire forever."
"Mmm, all right. The wings do look cool on you," Spike comments and stuffs his head back into the tub.
"Spike, you're not listening to me! I don't think I'll be the same after this. Vampires are obsessive creatures. They stay awake at night, they drink blood, they're... batty—"
"Woah, they drink blood? That sounds cool too!"
"Not if you're the one bleeding drunk from... being, bluh," Twilight nearly chokes on her own saliva, and the room floods with a momentary flash of light before Twilight composes herself and restores the bubble. Her new taste for blood further discourages her from making the transformation. She swallows and continues, "I don't really know what's going to happen when I become truly half-vampire. I guess what I'm trying to say is, we may not be able to live together anymore."
Spike understands the true meaning of these final words clearly. Suddenly the prospect of a vampire Twilight seems terrible.
"No, Twilight. You can't do that. Think of another way!" Spike protests.
"I have, Spike. And I'm sorry, but the fate of Equestria is at stake again... and there is no other way. Are your things packed?"
"Then let's go."
Spike departs for the stairs, leaving Twilight alone, surrounded by her many bookshelves. Twilight spots one of Applejack's old supersized apple buckets that Twilight uses to carry a massive number of books, and this is the perfect occasion to use it again. She levitates it to the middle of the room and then removes books from the shelves a few at a time, dropping them into the bucket. On any other day she would dump the entire room's books at once, but she must maintain the outside bubble a while longer. Once finished, Twilight sends the bucket outside through the balcony, since it will not fit down the stairs, and rests it on the now desolate ground. She then walks downstairs to check on Spike's progress.
"I'm ready!" Spike calls, emerging from the kitchen with his bindle.
"Stand close to me. I'm going to release the bubble and then form a new one around us."
Twilight closes her eyes and relaxes. The house is again flooded with light, but the two are soon enclosed by the familiar purple glow of a bubble. The house around them, inside and out, smokes and catches fire.
"Come on!" Twilight shouts as she opens the door and exits. Once outside, they pause to adjust to the intense light that makes it into their bubble. The entire town looks dry and empty. Twilight quickly sends the bucket of books into the bubble before it has a chance to catch fire too. They turn to watch their home become a giant open fire. To their right, the Sun Stiletto is visible. It is so bright it seems to be much more than a mere pillar, even through the filter of the bubble.
"Where to, Spike?" Twilight asks, looking toward the Stiletto. Spike climbs onto Twilight and points his bindle in the opposite direction. Twilight begins to walk.
"Giddy-up!" Spike says gleefully.
Normally Twilight might protest that demeaning phrase, but she wonders if this would be the last time she and the dragon could be so close. She questions if she would be able to handle being a real vampire. If not, she doesn't want her final moments with Spike to be full of rebuke.
Rarity is the first to spot the glowing bubble. "Twilight! Over here, quickly!" she calls. She turns to the other ponies and says, "Everypony, Twilight's here!"
The entire town has taken refuge in a grassy clearing hidden behind a large hill; the ponies now begin to form a line to spectate. The light is apparently still very strong over here, and none of the ponies seems willing to enter direct sunlight. In effect, the ponies are lining the perimeter of the hill's shade. Twilight says nothing and continues walking steadily toward the gathering.
"You okay, Twi?" Applejack asks as she gets closer.
"Hey guys!" Spike calls from Twilight's back.
"Are those wings on you, Twilight?" Rainbow Dash says, hovering over Fluttershy.
The crowd makes room for Twilight and her luggage, revealing Pinkie Pie.
"Welcome back, Twilight! I'm so happy you're okay! I was so worried about you!" Pinkie shouts as she throws some confetti.
"Thanks," Twilight says. She enters the shaded area, places the bucket, crouches so that Spike can dismount, and then allows the bubble to disappear. Twilight lies on the ground, her wings relaxed and to either side. She has a terrible headache from maintaining multiple spells for a few hours.
Rainbow lands to her left. "Hey Twilight, why do you have bat wings?" She pokes one wing with her leg.
Spike chimes in, "Twilight cast a vampire spell on herself!"
"She did what?" Rarity gasps. "Why would she do that? They look dreadful."
Twilight winces at the sound of Rarity's disapproval.
"No they don't!" Spike and Rainbow speak together.
"But they are weird," Rainbow continues. "Why are you a vampire, Twilight?"
"It makes her immune to the heat from the sun!" Spike explains.
"Woah, that's awesome! What else does it do?"
"She says it makes her into a bloodthirsty creature too."
"Oh," Rainbow says, looking down at Twilight. "Is that why she's drooling?"
Twilight opens her eyes wide, jumps up, and wipes her mouth. She blushes as she notices the whole town staring at her.
"Ughhhhhhh I don't want to be a vampire anymore..."
Applejack steps foward. "Well, then why don't you undo it? You can undo it, can't you?"
"I can't! I mean, I can, but I won't be able to, and..." Twilight pauses to take a deep breath. "I'm going to have to make it permanent."
"Huhwhuuh..." Rarity trails off, fainting. Fluttershy catches her.
"Why would you do that, Twi?" Applejack asks.
Twilight hesitates. She is reminded again why she must make this sacrifice. "Because it is the only way to stop Princess Celestia!"
The crowd is suddenly filled with conversation. The Mayor steps forward.
"Twilight? What do you mean by that?" the Mayor asks.
"I visited where the light is coming from, and Princess Celestia is there. She's not acting herself though, and she ordered me to leave. She is creating a Sun Stiletto. I think she did it because something is trying to control her, but if the Sun Stiletto goes for too long, the planet will crack!"
The crowd noise intensifies. The Mayor and Twilight's friends move closer to hear the rest.
"The only way I can stop Princess Celestia is to make myself a true half-vampire, forever. It is our only chance... but I just can't get myself to do it! I'll be a monster! You guys will never look at me the same again. I'll never look at you guys..."
Twilight shuts her mouth tight as she begins to drool again. This time, the tears are forming from both eyes.
"We wouldn't disown you, Twilight. You'll always be our friend," Applejack consoles.
Rainbow adds, "Yeah, you've always been a freak."
"Rainbow!" Applejack scolds.
Rarity begins to wake up.
Fluttershy walks up to Twilight and wipes the unicorn's tears. "It's okay with me if you're a vampire."
Pinkie disappears for a moment and jumps back in front of Twilight with a vampire costume. "I'll be a vampire with you!"
Rarity hesitates but then walks up as well. "I'm sorry, Twilight. If you can't help it, then we'll make it work. You'll always look magnificent in my eyes."
Twilight smiles, "Thank you, all of you."
A violent earthquake knocks most of the ponies to the ground. The rumbling stops a few seconds later.
"Oh no, I hope I'm not too late. I have to hurry! I need that book on vampires!"
Spike, right on cue, leaps into the giant apple bucket and produces a book within two seconds. "Got it!" He hurls the book to Twilight, and she grabs it with TK, flipping its pages to reach the vampire spell. She takes one more look at each of her friends. This time, she feels no thirst.
She looks down at the book with new resolve, and she begins to cast the spell. She closes her eyes during the process, feeling herself changing. Physically she looks no different, but on the inside, there is something new.
The spell finishes, and Twilight opens her eyes.
"Twilight, you still with us?" Applejack asks.
Overall Twilight feels the same. Maybe this whole change was overrated, she thinks. She looks over at Applejack and smiles.
"I'm okay! I think I'm okay. I FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE—" Twilight screeches like a bat at Applejack before quickly covering her mouth in surprise.
"Oh my..." Rarity faints on Fluttershy again.
"Testing one two three..." Twilight mumbles. She glances over at Rainbow and Pinkie. Both have their mouths open, Rainbow with a frown and Pinkie with a smile.
The Mayor speaks up, "Good luck, Twilight. We all believe in you."
Twilight's friends all offer kind words of support. Fluttershy waves Rarity's hoof as if to say "bye."
Twilight steps out of the shade and into the blinding light. She jumps into the air and speeds toward the immense light, very quickly departing from the others' eyesight.
Princess Celestia waits by the Stiletto. The surrounding dust has long since cleared. The light has become so intense that even the black, charred ground seems highly reflective.
Celestia hears a faint but distinct screech. She springs up and looks around, but she can't see anything through the blinding light.
Twilight, however, can "see" all she needs to. Her eyes remain closed, but echolocation enables her to identify the only thing on the ground that has not been leveled: the princess.
The sound stops, and the princess soon returns to her resting position. She closes her eyes but then hears the faint sound of whooshing air above her. She looks up, but she sees nothing through the thick lighting. Suddenly a bat pony descends and grabs her. Together they tumble in the ashes, and then, instinctively, Twilight bites Celestia's neck.
"Aaaugh!" Celestia yells as she tries to shake herself free.
Twilight realizes the strangeness of what she has done, but she continues to draw blood. Celestia's body suddenly goes limp. The princess blinks a few times and looks around frantically, her eyes now exhibiting the familiar benevolence Twilight's known all her life.
"Twilight? Twilight! Help me! I need..."
This change of behavior prompts Twilight to release hold of her neck, but Celestia does not finish her sentence. Instead, her eyes return to their former malevolent state.
Celestia begins again, "I thought I told you to leave, Twilight! You have disobeyed me. Now you will learn your final lesson!"
Celestia rolls away and uses TK to launch Twilight high into the air.
"Goodbye!" Celestia's horn glows sharply, and Twilight is enveloped in a bright flash. Twilight remains airborne, flapping her wings.
"What? How did you...?"
Twilight screeches and descends on Celestia again. Celestia's horn glows violently, and Twilight's does the same. Twilight is encompassed by both a pale green aura and a purple one as both ponies struggle for telekinetic dominance. Twilight maintains a stalemate for a few seconds, but she quickly becomes exhausted and cannot prevent herself from being overtaken. With full control, Celestia throws Twilight toward the Stiletto. Twilight hits the ground and slides, stopping right next to it. Celestia begins to walk over to Twilight as Twilight attempts to stand back up.
"You are indeed a strong little unicorn, Twilight," Celestia chuckles. "The old Princess Celestia taught you well, but it's over now."
Celestia's horn glows, binding Twilight's hooves to the ground. Twilight attempts to cancel the effect, but her efforts are in vain. She feels the end of her tail briefly enter the Stiletto and get burned off, despite her vampirical protection. Celestia continues to advance.
"You of all ponies should have known that you were no match for me. Trying to be a hero again? You always had such initiative."
The ground begins to shake gently beneath them. Twilight looks at the ground for a moment before lifting her head and gazing intently into Celestia's eyes. She sees the same expression she saw before, the one that doesn't belong to the Celestia she knows.
Celestia stops a few hooves away from Twilight. The rumbling intensifies.
"I've always wanted to see how you'd hold up in a fight, but it's time to put an end to this. It's a shame you had to learn it this way, but..." Celestia leans forward and sneers, "You can't beat me."
"I don't have to!" Twilight follows her statement by burying her face in the ground along with her glowing horn. A sudden TK shockwave crumbles the ground beneath the two ponies, forming a rockslide. In the same moment, both Twilight and Celestia fall into the Stiletto.
The shaking comes to a stop. The Stiletto gradually loses intensity until the barren land is covered with darkness under the smoke-filled sky.
The ponies of Ponyville unite in a search for both Twilight and the princess; they arrive at the epicenter as soon as they are able. The pegasi arrive first and attempt to clear out the smoke to make room for what's left of daylight. Approaching the center point of the phenomenon, Applejack discovers a hole twenty hooves deep. Near the bottom is an impression of Twilight's wing scorched into the rock.
"Everypony! Over here!" Applejack calls then slides down and begins to dig through the rocks and ash. Twilight's friends are the first to respond; each one, even Rarity, jumps in to help.
Soon, a white alicorn is uncovered. She is carried up the slope and set on the ground. Nurse ponies begin to care for the princess as the friends slide back in to continue digging.
A moment later, a hairless black unicorn is found. Fluttershy steps back in disbelief. The black unicorn is also carried up and laid down next to Celestia. The unicorn is dusted to remove the ash, but she remains mostly black from her burnt flesh. Having no visible mane, tail, or cutie mark, the unicorn has lost most of her unique features. There is, in fact, no easy way to identify the unicorn, but no one has any doubt who she was.
The remaining five friends stand around the lifeless black unicorn, their hope quickly fading away.
Princess Celestia opens her eyes and looks around. The crowd of ponies that has formed cheers briefly but quiets down again; there is little reason to celebrate.
Celestia remains lying on the ground, observing the blue sky.
She quietly says, "Twilight. You did it."
The crowd gets excited again as the nurses rush to Twilight, who coughs a second time and then whimpers.
"Twilight? Can you hear me?" Applejack says.
Twilight opens her eyes but can barely move.
"Princess Celestia, what happened?" Rainbow asks.
The princess takes a moment to search through her memories.
"A spirit, much like Discord, tried to take control of me. I created a Sun Stiletto in a desperate attempt to rid myself of him. However, by the time I was finished, the spirit had taken hold of me completely, and I could not enter the Stiletto. If it weren't for Twilight's help, I fear the worst would have happened."
She looks over to Twilight. "I can survive the sun's rays at any intensity, but Twilight... when you entered the Stiletto, your vampirical side was stripped from you. I do not know how you survived. Perhaps I shielded you from the Stiletto when I landed on top of you. You were only directly exposed for a second. I am glad you survived, my faithful, faithful student."
Spike runs to Twilight, "Hey Twilight! Want to write a letter to Princess Celestia while she's here?"
"Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm," Twilight moans.
"Dear Princess Celestia, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle," Spike announces as he writes the letter. He then rolls up the letter and tosses it to the princess, who catches it with TK, unfurls it, and reads it.
"Yes, I suppose this letter will do for this week."
"Twilight! You don't have to be a vampire after all!" Rarity points out.
Twilight takes a good look at each of her friends and smiles softly at them.
"Umm, pardon me, Twilight?"
Twilight shifts her attention to Applejack.