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Chapter 15: Paranoia
Cantor swallowed hard and dramatically, reading the order another three times before replying. “I um…” He began, then shook the apprehension from his mind. “I’m sure it’s nothing.” He said.
“This!” Twilight replied sharply, jabbing the letter accusingly with her hoof. “This, not signed, not addressed by the princess,” panic was heard in her voice. “Isn't ‘nothing’!”
“Ummm… I’ll be right back…” Cantor grinned foalishly before teleporting nearly instantly into Celestia’s throne room.
He flashed rather quietly into the room, just in front of the two huge wooden doors which separated the brisk, late winter air from the toasty castle interior. “Hey, prince-“ Cantor began before violently cut off by princess Celestia.
“YOU!” Celestia screamed at her visitor.
Cantor sunk to the floor at the outburst. “Me?” He whimpered, trying to be a comedian and hoping the princess would lower her tone.
“YES, FUCKING YOU!” She bellowed, Cantor felt tears in his eyes; the princess was either scared or VERY angry with him. Grievously, the situation was that of the latter. “I am FURIOUS with you!” The usually regal princess continued her petrifying rant.
“Why? What did I do!?” Cantor argued back, finding his footing a little.
“The sun, the moon… DO YOU KNOW HOW THAT FELT!?” Celestia screamed again.
“Sister… please calm down…” Luna pleaded, obviously as scared for Cantor as he was towards Celestia.
“No! I will NOT calm down!” Celestia shot back. “Cantor,” She breathed fiercely, “I don’t know what the HELL was going through your mind, but you nearly gave me a FUCKING HEART ATTACK!!!”
“How!?” The stallion asked, regaining his posture and raising his wings above his head. Even if Celestia strained her own wings, she could never hope to be as tall as Cantor now was. Never before had he seen the princess like this, and he wasn’t one to make assumptions, but hearing the princess swear was probably as rare as finding a rock that bleeds.
“I lost control!... I thought… I… I…” Her train of speech derailed and plummeted off a cliff and she broke down into tears.
Cantor rushed to the princess’ side, but halted when Luna shot him a disgusting look. The princess of the night cuddled her sister as she groaned into her chest, her enormous horn barely making it over Luna’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, princess, but you haven’t told me what’s wrong, so I can’t help this time.” He said sharply.
Celestia turned her head out of Luna’s comforting breast. “I thought… it was happening…” Her eyes were bloodshot and her lips trembled as she drew in and out broken breaths. “…The end of the world…”
Cantor sighed heavily and shook his head. Celestia watched him from where she lay, his form now standing above her. “If I may refer to you as ‘Tia’, princess?” Celestia nodded and held her breath. “Tia, you know as well as I do that you have nothing to fear when that day comes… And neither do I… the one we need to look after, Tia, is Twilight…”
The princess’ breaths were deep and fast, her whole body heaved as she calmed herself down slowly. “I just… It was so unexpected…”
Once again, Cantor sighed heavily. “I’m so, so sorry, Tia. I’m sorry I scared you so much, but understand this:” Cantor sank to his belly as he came level with Celestia’s beautiful face. “Whenever I’m around, you have nothing to fear. I will never let anything harm this land and you know I would gladly die if any of my friends were in danger.” Celestia’s eyes shuffled around nervously before falling to the floor. “Look at me.” He ordered, the princess complied without hesitation, meeting the stallion’s paralysing orange eyes. “You know this is true…”
Tia simply nodded, unable to break the bond between the two discs of fire burning brightly with passion and truth. “I… I believe you, Cantor…” She said, a content expression appearing on her face, her rate of breath still rather rapid, but a lot calmer none the less. “I put my heart and my trust in you. I know you will do great things…” A short moment of understanding was held. Cantor could see the fury leave her indigo eyes as her lips curled ever so slightly at the sides.
“Well, I’m glad that’s out of the way!” Cantor spoke, clearing the atmosphere of any tension and heaviness, getting up quickly and turning around. “I’m pretty sure you had something to do with the papers yesterday?” He asked cheerfully, striding slowly and dramatically to the balcony overlooking the horizon.
“The idea was Twilight Sparkle’s” Replied the princess, allowing her sister to help her to stand.
“Speaking of which…” The stallion added, standing on his hind legs and resting his forearms on the balcony’s raised edge. “I’d better let her know everything’s okay; she seemed really apprehensive towards your message.” He was speaking loudly and far more quickly than she was used to.
“Is everything… ‘alright’, Cantor?” She asked, beginning to walk slowly towards him.
“Never better!” He shouted, swivelling one hundred and eighty degrees to face the other two alicorns.
“It’s some energy drink: “Pegasus revive”. He confirmed, his blood still fizzing with the high levels of adrenaline the drink contained, the shock of Celestia's outburst wearing off now allowed the drink's effects to return.
Princess Luna looked distraught. “Pegasus revive!?” She exclaimed. “How much did you drink?”
“Uhhh, about a litre.” Replied the stallion, beginning to bounce on his hooves gently.
Luna turned to her sister, horrified. “Is that bad?” Celestia asked generally.
“I’ll say!” Cried the princess of the night, “That’s near lethal!” She turned back to Cantor. “Don’t drink any more, okay!?” She asked, the stallion’s wings now flared up behind his back. The two regal sisters giggled like fillies at the unique format of feathers giving away the stallion’s ‘mood’.
“Why not? It’s great!” Cantor argued back, now beginning to catch a few milliseconds of air as he trotted on the spot.
“For me?” She asked, batting her eyelids, knowing there would be few other ways to convince the stallion from going into hyper drive.
“Alright… For you, Luna.” Cantor agreed, now beginning to jump. “Forgive me, princess… es, but am I allowed to go now?”
Celestia smirked. “Very well, Cantor, you are dismissed…”
With that, without so much as a goodbye, Cantor disappeared in a flash of purple sparks, causing the princesses to squint slightly. The sound was relatively quiet for teleporting such a distance with a rather large pony.
Celestia turned to her sister. “What, in all good manners of heaven was that!?” She cried.
“What was what?”
“’For me?’” Celestia mimicked, her eyelids fluttering just as her sister’s did.
“Oh, stop it!” Luna returned, blushing ever so slightly. “You know he probably wouldn’t have stopped if I had just asked.”
The white mare sighed with a little smile. “I suppose you may be right, Luna.” She cast her gaze in the direction of Ponyville, just seeing the edge of the gargantuan grey disc which would provide a most impressive snowfall.
The barn was full of idle mumbling before the white stallion fizzled into existence right in front of Twilight, causing her to jump.
“AH!” She cried as she reeled backwards a little. “What was it?” She asked once she quickly regained her posture.
“As I said, Twilight, nothing serious, just… alicorn stuff. You probably wouldn’t understand…” Cantor returned, waving off the accusation with his hoof, his horn still rather bright as he influenced the weather outside. Once again, he was trotting on the spot, yet was now a lot more in control of his mind. “Should we get going? It’s quite late…”
“Late!?” Exclaimed Pinkie Pie, stepping into the conversation. “It’s only like… five o’ clock.”
“Yeah, but this snowfall is gonna be going overnight and a little into the morning at this rate. If we don’t all get home soon, we’ll be snowed in and I don’t think this barn has central heating.”
Everypony seemed to agree with this statement, mumbling amongst themselves fears of catching a nasty cold. “Hey, thank you all again so much for this party! I really appreciate it!” Cantor mentioned again, drawing a broad smile from the pink mare. “How did you set this all up so quickly?”
“That was Spike.” Twilight answered quickly. “He was outside in the morning when I got up. I told him to tell everypony you were back, but the party was Pinkie’s idea.”
“Really, pinkie?” Cantor asked, turning to the sky blue eyed mare. “You set all this up this morning?”
“Yup!” Pinkie chirped proudly. “And everypony helped!” She threw her arms above her head and turned to face the other barn’s inhabitants, who smiled to him in return.
“And all so quickly… Thanks again guys, this has been…” Cantor thought for a moment, yet decided to go with his cop out. “Indescribable…”
“Well…” Rarity spoke, clearing her throat a little to remind everypony of her presence. “We’d best be setting off; we don’t want to catch colds now, do we?”
“’corse not.” Replied Applejack, stirring up a little loose straw with her forehoof.
“Does anypony need help getting home?” Cantor asked openly.
“Let’s all stick together until we have to part ways at least.” Twilight suggested, nosing out of the barn door at the dark, frozen world outside. The decorations and food had been packed away, the latter of the two mainly by Pinkie Pie, letting as little of her baked confectionaries, though there were few left, go to waste. The barn looked as it had done before the party mare had arrived with the other girls and set to work like a mad thing, transforming the humble storage shed into a party hall to be proud of.
Big Macintosh closed the door behind the group as they set off into the alien world. Though it was still technically Equestria, the billions of ice crystals, frozen where they fell, created a beautiful, all be it a little eerie new world. The path was non – existent beneath the ponies’ hooves and they had to rely on memory to find their way back.
Applejack, Big Mac and Applebloom were the first to depart from the group, waving goodbye and receiving another thanks from Cantor for the wonderful afternoon, though in this frame of weather, the time of day could easily be mistaken as late night.
Even though this snow was frigid to the groups hard hooves and in some spots hid dips and potholes in the ground all too well, the huge change of texture underhoof made it seem as if they were walking on mattresses. Either that or clouds, Cantor thought the fluffy airborne structures were much softer, but after consulting memory, found that assumption to be debateable. There was no wind whipping at their coats, and even though the snowflakes which had frozen in time in front of them were easily dispersed by a simple gust from a pony’s breath, the air still felt remarkably cold, no doubt in the negative digits.
Cantor had lit a campfire in the centre of the group, and to some degree, it provided adequate warmth, but all in all, it made little difference.
“It’s s-s-so c-c-cold.” Fluttershy shivered. Cantor had subconsciously been tracking Fluttershy the entire night, and she had been… unusually quiet – even by Fluttershy’s standards.
“I know, Fluttershy.” Rainbow Dash comforted her, pulling the yellow pegasus closer to her body with her wing, jerking Scootaloo, who was riding on her back around a little, nearly knocking her off.
“Hey! Careful!” Scootaloo said, rather harshly.
“Whoops!” Rainbow chuckled. “Sorry there, Scoot.”
“It’s cool.” The little orange filly replied, hugging Rainbow’s neck tightly.
“Don’t worry, you’ll be home and warm by the fire soon.” The blue mare continued. The meek pegasus sighed contently: though she got lonely at times, there were few things she found more satisfying than watching a small fire gently crackle and pop in her secluded cottage with all her woodland friends. Even having the thought of being warm in her mind made Fluttershy feel cosy snuggled under the wing of her friend.
By now, the eight ponies and their reptilian compadre had reached the outskirts of Ponyville and were just crossing the bridge into town when the energy drink in Cantor’s body died and his system shut down, causing him to collapse into the snow. If it weren’t for the sudden rush of coldness that followed, he would have stayed there until he was rested, but the other ponies around him dragged him upwards to his hooves.
“Oh,” He sighed heavily, a massive headache starting to set in. “what… what happened?”
Twilight answered his question after helping him to stand. “The drink must’ve worn off… You’ve crashed.”
Cantor being Cantor, his initial reaction was to get everypony to safety at the sacrifice of his well being before he lost control. He grunted as his horn flared up and the snow stopped falling once again. In the short time he had been down, the snowstorm had progressed much too far to be walking the streets.
“Rainbow! You and Scootaloo get back to your house. How long will that take?” He barked, turning to the pegasus.
“Uhhh, about a minute if I hurry. Why?”
“Just go. I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up for.”
Rainbow Dash nodded. “Got it. Come on Scoot, hold on tight!” And with that, she took off with the little filly clinging tightly to her back as Rainbow rocketed through the sky towards her cloud home.
“We’ve got a minute to be sure she’s home safely. Pinkie, Once again, agh, thank you for organising the- ngh, party. Can you- can you get home?” The alicorn asked, now struggling to keep his powerful magic under control.
“Sure thing, Cantor.” Pinkie answered definitively. “Oh, and you’re welcome!” She beamed and galloped off into Ponyville towards Sugarcube Corner. Momentarily, Cantor’s magic slipped from his grasp and the blizzard picked up again before the stallion halted it, growling as he strained all of his energy into his horn.
Fluttershy was now beginning to panic, her wings had clamped to her sides and she was shivering. And not just because of the cold. “You three, let’s go!” Cantor instructed, leading the three mares, one filly and Spike towards Twilight’s treehouse. Fortunately, Ponyville was an extremely small town and nothing was ever a five minute walk away, or in this sense, a half-minute gallop. The group assembled outside of Twilight’s library and Cantor dished out his next set of orders. “Twilight, get inside and get warmed up. Rarity, will you and Sweetie Belle- Agh! God DAMNIT!” He snapped as he reinforced his horn with what little magical energy he didn’t have. “Can you make it to the boutique on your own!?”
Rarity, still slightly shocked from the stallion’s outburst had to take a second to collect her senses. “…Oh, yes, Cantor… We’ll- We’ll be fine.” And with that, the white unicorn took off to the left, diving down an alleyway, also with her sibling clinging tightly to her back.
Cantor then turned to Fluttershy, who was now cowering on the floor. Before addressing the trembling pegasus, he nodded to Twilight and Spike to get inside. She nodded in acknowledgement, unlocking the door and stepping into the darkness. She turned around before closing the thick red door. “Be careful.” She instructed, pecking Cantor on the cheek before returning to her house and flicking the lights on, bathing the entire ground floor with yellow light.
“Fluttershy, get ready, you’ll feel a tingling sensation.” The alicorn warned.
“Wh- what?” The pink maned pegasus whispered right before Cantor touched his horn to Fluttershy’s head and the two erupted into purple sparks.
Even though he had the ability to teleport to Canterlot in just over a second, the strain on his magic still caused him to grimace in pain as he appeared inside Fluttershy’s cottage. He gasped for air before turning to where he guessed Fluttershy was laying. “Okay?” He asked frantically as he felt the small trail of blood roll out of his right nostril. Suddenly, the lights in the cottage flashed on and he saw a panicked looking white rabbit at the bottom of the staircase holding his paw to the little light switch.
Fluttershy brought her head from between her forelegs and stared around at her brightly lit house. “I’m home…” She asked, slightly confused.
The alicorn’s head was swimming with a deadly mixture of pure pain, forced concentration and the will to protect his friends. “Take that… as a… ‘yes’…” He strained, his teeth clamped together and his eyes wound shut. Without awaiting a reply, he quickly enveloped himself in a shower of loud sparks, leaving the cottage silent for a brief moment before the wind began to howl through the shutters.
As soon as he reappeared in the library, Twilight was already sitting nervously on her sofa, awaiting his inevitable return. When the alicorn flashed into the middle of the room, spraying out sparks like a firework, Twilight gasped half in surprise, half in glee. She wore a huge grin on her face until he began to sway unsteadily, not correcting his footing on the third pendulum-like swing and falling onto his side with a heavy ‘thump’. Somewhere miles away, Rainbow Dash had just slammed her cloud door shut when the alicorn’s grip on the weather was released and the wind and snow began to scratch at the walls of her home. She sighed contently as she joined Scootaloo on the large, three – seater sofa and chatted for the rest of the afternoon and into the early hours of evening about the marvellous party, all the while, listening to the banshee-like air outside.
Scootaloo thought about being in that clubhouse still. About being in this snowstorm. She cringed as the notion that if it weren’t for Rainbow Dash adopting her and giving her a proper home, she might not have woken up in the morning, never been able to tell the blue pegasus how she felt about her, and in fact, the same could be said for Dash herself.
Scootaloo shifted closer to Rainbow Dash, hugging her tightly and burying her face in Rainbow’s chest. “I love you, mommy…” She sighed as she began to slowly fall asleep in the arms of her best friend. No. More than that… she was right the first time; her mother.
Cantor’s face contorted as the post-unconscious nausea set in. Everywhere was dead silent and his entire body ached with even the slightest movement. His eyes peeled back to reveal the dozy purple face of Twilight Sparkle laying on her side staring at him.
“If I had one bit… for every time you did something stupid…” She began, causing her stallion’s expression from a scowl to a hearty smile. “I’d be a very rich pony…” She finished, wearing a large grin of her own.
Cantor chuckled with his breath before rubbing his eyes with a hoof. He felt remarkably warm under the sheets of Twilight’s bed, but the real heat was coming from the stunning mare opposite him.
He reached behind Twilight and pulled her closer, having to only exert his mortal strength a little as she weighed hardly anything to him. He kissed her. The two ponies now as close as they could possibly be without…
“Hey, Twilight?” Asked the stallion, pulling away from her mouth just enough to be able to talk without biting her tongue. “What time is it?”
“About… four in the morning. Why?” She answered, her eyes still closed from their tender moment.
“No reason, I just like to know how long I was out for.” He chuckled softly again. “I guess that’s something I’m going to have to get used to…” He smiled before Twilight leaned across and kissed him again.
Twilight giggled softly herself. “I suppose so…” she pressed her lips to his once more.
“Is it still snowing?” Cantor asked, still far too tired to turn over and stare out the window.
Twilight quickly glanced to the large circular window at the end of her bedroom before her eyes returned to the stallion. “It is…” She confirmed as Cantor lost his battle with consciousness and fell to sleep almost as soon as his eyes closed.
The purple unicorn kept her serine smile as she herself began to slip away into her subconscious mind. She gave one final notion to the sleeping alicorn in the form of “Good night, Cantor.” Just as her eyelids closed and she joined him in the realm of the mind.
Cantor woke up once more, his eyes dreary and his mouth caked with a disgusting, sticky taste in it. It took the alicorn only a moment or two to realise he was no longer in Twilight’s bed, but instead, laid uncomfortably on his back with his four limbs outstretched and…
Cantor’s breathing became erratic and his heart beat faster. His pupils became tiny as he confirmed that he was lying on a hard metal table.
He began to thrash, but there were so many points of his body held down. He hated being held still this way, especially when the restraints were leather belts; four holding each hoof to the table and another four nearer the top of where each limb connected to his torso. On top of that, there was a leather strap around his groin and neck, disallowing him to sit up properly, whilst still leaving his white chest and stomach exposed.
By now he was in a state of panic, but he found confidence in his powerful alicornian magic. He breathed deeply a few times before willing the straps holding his body down to break. When nothing happened however, the panic came back, though now twice as bad. His rate of breath quickened and his voice came into his exhales. His eyes, now tiny pinpricks darted to the top of his periphery, he noticed the horrifying contraption clamped tightly around his horn: undoubtedly the most sensitive part of unicorn anatomy by far. He pushed with all of his might, and he could feel the familiar sensation of channelling the magic, however now it bred no results.
His eyes started to water as the confusion, phobia and helplessness set in. He scanned his surroundings, (if you could call them that), finding nothing but darkness all around except for a blinding operating light above and a trolley of sick – looking surgery equipment to his right.
“Hello? Anyone!? Where am I!?” He cried, his orange eyes brimming with tears. He tried his luck against the straps again, but was still faced with the same horrific result.
His heart stopped and he held his breath when he heard a steady clopping over his right shoulder. He turned his head as much as he could, straining his eyes upwards and trying to look past the vice over his horn. Suddenly, the room went quiet and the silence invaded Cantor’s ears once more. The only sound was the beating of his heart thumping in his chest.
“HIYA!” A bright pink mare cried, leaning over the stallion’s head and looking into his eyes.
Cantor replied with a blunt shriek before exclaiming: “Pinkie! Thank God you’re here! Please can you get me off this thing? I’m so scared right now.” He wore a great relieved smile across his face as he followed the pink pony around his right side. She jumped up and rested her front hooves upon the tight strap around his forehoof.
She examined it closely before replying. “Hmmm… I don’t know… I don’t want you running away when I get to work…”
Cantor furrowed his brow in confusion. “What are you talking- …no… god, please no…” He pleaded, his pupils becoming tiny and lost amongst a sea of orange. “No. Pinkie, if this is some sort of joke: it’s not funny. This is actually my phobia. I'm so, so scared, Pinkie. Please untie me.”
The pink mare laughed manically as the room lit up and various atrocities were revealed. The heads of unrecognisable ponies hung from their manes by rusty chains bolted to the ceiling. There was a collection of blood covered instruments of torture against the walls. The alicorn could almost feel the adrenaline dump as he identified an iron maiden stood menacingly in the far corner. “TWILIGHT! CELESTIA! ANYONE! HEEEEELP!” He screamed, thrashing as much as the chilling restraints would allow.
“What’s the matter, Cantor?” The demonic Pinkie Pie asked, picking up a scalpel and straddling the white alicorn’s chest, leaning towards his face. “Aren’t you having fun?”
“Pinkie, please… don’t do this…” He pleaded once more, giving in to his phobia and beggining to cry.
“I have to do it, silly; it’s my job!” She giggled again, true to herself, but only terrorising the already petrified alicorn even further.
“Your job!?” Cantor yelled, exasperated. “What kind of sick FUCK would do this!?”
The evil mare just chuckled again and ignored his question. “Ohhh, we’re going to have so much fun!” She beamed a wide, horrifying toothy grin. “You’re my first alicorn!”
Cantor lost all hope. His fear remained, but he thought as though he should go down fighting. “FUCK YOU, you sick, twisted FUCK!” He yelled, then proceeded to spit in Pinkie’s face, making her recoil.
A grimace flashed across her face as she wiped the saliva from her eye before she returned to that satanic smile. “Oh, you’re going to wish you hadn’t done that…” She said in a deep, raspy voice. She dismounted the stallion and threw her scalpel down loudly on the trolley, causing several other instruments to clang. Cantor laid and watched her pull open a draw in a desk at the end of the room, under a banner with the words: “Life is a party” Sprawled on the dirty fabric in a black colour, not to be mistaken for anything other than stale blood.
Pinkie swivelled around with an Ice cream scoop in her mouth. “I been ‘aiting ko use ris!” She spoke around the stainless metal handle.
“Sounds like you’ve had a lot of practice talking with shit in your mouth; is that why you do this? Hm? Because you were some stallion’s play thing in the past?”
Pinkie leapt back onto the table and snarled like a wild animal in Cantor’s face, now holding the scoop in her right hoof. Now it was the alicorn’s turn to be snide. “I bet I’m not the first guy to be in this position.” He spat with a deviant smile of his own.
Cantor saw something behind Pinkie’s crazed blue eye snap as a tiny trail of sadness crept into her mind. The stallion saw this as his opportunity to make a possibly life saving move. “Pinkie Pie, I’m sorry about that… this isn’t you: where’s the fun loving, happy, caring mare we all know and love?”
The pink mare atop him shook the memories from her head before laying atop his body and forcing his upper eyelid open with her hoof. “I’m glad you’re a fighter, Cantor…” She sighed seductively, “I can tell already this is going to be a long one…” Cantor didn’t see the humour in that comment as all his eyes focused on was the sharp metal edge of the spoon approaching his left eye.
Once again, his breathing picked up as he realised he was as good as dead. He wasn’t afraid of dying alone, however he had really hoped it wouldn’t end like this. He could already feel the coldness of the metal seeping into the back of his eye socket and he began to hyperventilate, every neurone in his brain telling him to run away, but try as he might, he couldn’t even budge the straps around his limbs.
The edge of the scoop touched the sensitive back of his eye as he woke up screaming for the first time in his life. He sat up in Twilight’s bed, staring forward into the pitch black room, taking heaving breaths like someone who had nearly drowned. He was paralysed, the feeling of the tight straps still very evident on his limbs. He swallowed and gasped again before turning to his left to see the empty half of a bed. Frowning out of curiosity, he looked back towards the end of the bed where he came face to… well… no face; Twilight Sparkle, or at least a creature with Twilight’s purple horn and navy blue mane was straddling him, her face completely blank; no muzzle or mouth, just two gaping black holes where her beautiful eyes should have been.
Cantor screamed and sank back into the cushion as the demon slithered up his body and let out a muffled wail of anguish as blood poured from the two huge orifices in the middle of it’s face, landing all over the white stallion’s own, splattering red inside his mouth as he screamed his life out.
He woke up crying and screaming a second time, hyperventilating as the tears poured from his eyes. His breathing was filled with his terror. He was frozen in place, the horrendous image of the mare he loved, her perfect lavender discs gone and replaced with two portals to the lemantable pits of hell stained within his mind. Suddenly, he felt two forelegs wrap around his heaving belly and a soothing “Shhhhhh… shh shhhhh…” in his ear as the arms began to cradle him.
He took in several long breaths, calming down as much as he could as silently as possible whilst he allowed Twilight to comfort him.
“Sorry.” He whispered, wiping his eyes and craning his head down to look at Twilight. Her features were back and so were her sparkling eyes as she looked up at him.
“Sorry for what?” She asked, resting her tired head on the stallion’s tensed chest and closing her eyes.
Cantor turned and hugged the mare back. “About waking you up… Sorry, that’s the first nightmare I’ve had since I came to- …for a long time…”
He slowly laid back down, his eyes darting around the room to check for monsters. His head hit the already warm pillow and he felt a small trickle of sweat roll down form his forehead. He stared upwards at Twilight’s bare ceiling, listening to Spike’s heavy snoring and noticing how he whistled a little on the exhale.
“Do you want to talk about it?” The purple unicorn asked, releasing the stallion from the one sided embrace and propping herself up on one elbow. “I always find it helps me to talk to somepony about it whenever I have a nightmare.” She thought for a second about when she experienced her ordeal in the time the stallion spent away, and now she felt employed to help him feel better as a returned favour. “I never had nightmares when you were here, Cantor.” She whispered. “So I want to help you not be scared…”
The alicorn sighed and turned to face Twilight. He closed his eyes and held his breath when he next spoke. “There’s just one more thing I need to tell you about…” His expression was serious, but his eyes still begged for understanding.
“What… do you mean?” Asked Twilight cautiously.
Cantor sighed heavily once more. “This applies to all of us; to the other girls as well…”
“What is it?” Twilight insisted.
“I’ll have to tell you all tomorrow…” He replied solemnly.
“Can’t you tell me now?”
“Sorry, Twilight, but as I said, this applies to everyone. What time is it?” He turned over just after asking this to the window where he could see the feint pink rays of the sun tempting the sky and finding their way around the black window frame and into Twilight’s bedroom.
“Probably about five, half five in the morning…” The purple mare answered, following the stallion’s gaze towards the perfectly round window. Cantor rubbed his eyes again before he drearily yet calmly turned back to face Twilight.
“So do you want to talk about it?” She asked, laying down herself and pulling the covers up over half of her head until only her eyes and up remained exposed.
Cantor copied her, except he pulled the covers only up to his neck. “Not particularly…” He replied blankly, not sure whether to be confused, scared or disgusted at the previous night terror, or whether he should dismiss the idea of such a ridiculous fabrication. “I don’t think it means anything; it was just a bit weird…”
Twilight’s eyes fell under the covers for a second before returning back up. “Do you… mind if I take a look?” Cantor’s pupils shrunk. “I’m always interested in the workings of the mind; it’s such a marvellous thing. Especially if I’m helping out a friend at the same time…”
“What do you mean… ‘take a look’?” The alicorn replied, now fully awake and knowing he probably wouldn’t sleep again for the rest of the day. He wasn’t really a heavy sleeper, even if and when he stayed up to the early hours of the morning.
“You know, the dream reader spell I was talking about a few weeks ago.” Twilight said, her voice coming across exaggerated beneath the duvet.
Cantor thought for a minute, and through searching back in his rather groggy mind, he did remember hearing Twilight say something about re-watching ponies’ dreams while they were awake, though it would take a much more powerful force of magic, such as Cantor’s, to pull off the spell whilst the target is wide awake.
“No, Twilight… Seriously don’t. I’d hate for you to see that.” He cringed as he said this, still somehow feeling the weight of Pinkie on top of him, the straps around his limbs, and the cold, sharp edge of the ice cream scoop touching his eye. He shivered again and attempted to relieve the stress by stretching his feathers and ruffling them inside the warm bed. Twilight Sparkle remained silent. “Seriously, Twi, I really don’t want you inside my head: what you find there could be…” He chose his next words very carefully. “…Unnatural…”
The purple mare’s eyelids dropped unexpectedly but she quickly shot her hoof up form under the sheets and rubbed her tired eyes.
The sun had now crested the valley to the east, yet the world was still rather deeply in sleep, and Twilight’s poor body was still requiring at least an hour before she could find the willpower to get up. A little smirk made it onto Cantor’s face as he observed the mare rubbing her eyes, brushing the back of her hoof across the top of her nose, much like a newborn child would. Once again, Cantor Pulled her close, nuzzling her neck and speaking softly: “Go to sleep, Twilight.” But she had already fallen under.
The stallion was more than pleased to watch the love of his life doze peacefully in the growing light of day, hearing her peaceful breathing and watching her bed sheets rise and fall in sync with her breath as she slept. He could have lied here forever, right here, next to this astounding, fantastic, perfect mare.
Being as careful as possible, he brushed a few stray strands of navy hair from her face before kissing her on the forehead gently. The time seemed to pass so quickly to the stallion, the only thing filling his vision and his thoughts was of the magical unicorn in front of him. Cantor had always seen ‘love’ as something overrated, some of his classmates in his previous life had become distraught at loosing their ‘heart’s desire’ that they felt as if their world was going to end. Right before moving on to the next person they were ‘in love’ with.
“Call it trial and error.” Thought Cantor, “I don’t believe in such things. Such shallow relationships weren’t even something to be acknowledged, rather something to be frowned upon for taking something so tender with such little care.” The alicorn sometimes found himself thinking about loosing Twilight, he tried not to, but that, he also thought, must have been a coincidence of experiencing the power of love. He couldn’t tell what would be worse, if the mare stopped loving him or if she died. By the time his train of thought reached that far, however, he distracted himself by thinking about the happy times he had spent with Twilight, and indeed, the many happy times to come.
Twilight suddenly stirred ever so slightly, causing Cantor’s mind to break away from the blissful memories of her and allow him to observe the real thing, which was undoubtedly a thousand times better.
“Good morning, sleepyhead…” He softly spoke after the mare’s eyes had serenely opened to reveal the stallion already gazing back at her with those passionate orange spectacles.
Twilight let out an almost non-existent chuckle and murmured a quiet reply of “Morning, Cantor…” Accompanied with a most satisfying smile.
Until now, the stallion hadn’t realised, but the room was full of light. He hadn’t been conscious of time, and had been watching Twilight sleep for getting on for three hours, continuously mulling over the memories they had, and still had to come. He rolled over and peered out of the large window, seeing the bright sun made even brighter by the completely stark sky, the thick snowfall below reflecting it’s light and making it seem as though there was a floodlight aimed into the bedroom.
“What time is it?” Asked Cantor, turning back around after feeling the bed dip to the left. He could still hear Spike snoring, so he assumed it hadn’t passed noon, although he reminded himself about the fact that dragons could sleep for hundreds of years at a time, but he dismissed the thought, given that Spike was still a baby in dragon years, and therefore couldn’t hibernate for such a vast period of time.
Twilight had already risen and was tucking the corners of her side of the royal blue duvet under the spongy mattress. Cantor followed her lead, taking his sweet time tucking his own side of the bed in. this particular morning was quiet… eerily quiet, as if foreboding something sinister. However, Cantor batted away the apprehension, convincing himself that it was all an effect of the dampening snow which piled high upon everything in it’s graceful decent to the ground.
“What was that you said about talking to all of us last night?” Asked Twilight, finishing with her side of the bed and moving onto a little wooden brush placed neatly on a side table in front of the mirror. She then proceded to carefully brush her navy mane until it was straight again, something Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie and Cantor all deemed pointless.
“I just need to tell you all… a lot of things… nothing sinister so it seems, but… important.” Said Cantor, looking at the reflection of Twilight in her mirror. Even though she was dragging the wooden brush through her hair, across her face and obscuring her eyes, Cantor noticed unmistakeable elements of worry etched into her otherwise carefree eyes. “Honestly Twilight, don’t worry: nothing’s going to change, I just… need to make a few things clear.”
Twilight blinked once slowly and gently reset the brush on the table, brushing her hair to the left with one quick swipe from her hoof.
“This involves everyone, so please, don’t trouble yourself over it. How about some breakfast, hm?” He asked, smiling at Twilight’s reflection. Her face, to his dismay, remained blank, even as she began to walk away from the table. Her mind was obviously racing with assumptions and possibilities, all of them negative. She felt a hoof airily tap her flank. Turing around, she was met with the stallion’s eyes, different, but containing all of the honesty, passion and subtle dominance which made her fall in love with him.
“You know I love you, Twilight? Don’t you?” He slowly said, ambling towards the unicorn at barely a snail’s pace until the two were nose to nose.
Twilight gave another exaggerated blink before replying. “Of course I do, Cantor… And I love you too.”
“Good.” The alicorn responded. “Because that’s one thing you and me both know is never going to change.” He pecked her lightly on the cheek then proceded to step around Twilight, being careful not to break eye contact. “I love you, Twilight Sparkle… I know I’ve said that before, but I just want you to know it’s true. You matter far more to me than anyone else on this planet, even myself…” His eyes narrowed at the mare, imprinting the words onto her mind.
Twilight just nodded with closed eyes, understanding completely what that meant. Cantor giggled gently, re-capturing Twilight’s attention. “Come now,” He spoke up, taking the first step down Twilight’s staircase. “It’s too early in the morning for such a deep conversation. Let’s go downstairs; I’ll make us breakfast-“ He gasped. “Oh!” Cantor exclaimed, before wincing as he remembered the sleeping dragon. He shot a glance towards Spike, still sound asleep and snoring heavily with the thin blue blanket draped across his back. “Oh.” He repeated in a whisper, “I’ve got something new to show you, you’ll love it!” He sustained his whispering volume, though it happened to fall at the opposite end of the scale, being as loud as a whisper could be, illustrating his enthusiasm.
Twilight smiled genuinely, nodding contently and following Cantor’s lead down the soft wooden steps. One thing troubled her, she wasn’t sure exactly what it was, yet she could feel the electricity in the air. It was as if something was about to change, or something was going to happen that she wasn’t sure if she was going to like or not. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind, not dismissing it completely, but removing it from her active side all the same.
“What is it, Cantor?” She asked the white stallion after he came to a halt by the cream sofa perched against the wall behind Twilight’s shallow coffee table.
The alicorn motioned for her to sit and she complied, shifting around the right of the coffee table and perching on the edge of the seat, a pleasurable shiver ran through her body as the unusual, but still refreshing sensation of the cold material connected with her toasty coat.
“What would you like for breakfast, Twi?” He asked, beginning to pace back and forth. “Anything you like.” He added, slipping Twilight a knowing wink.
“Ummm…” The unicorn pondered, her hoof tapping at her chin. “…Waffles.”
“Waffles?” Cantor responded dryly.
Twilight giggled. “Yes please.”
“Anything… with your waffles, madam?” Asked the stallion, stopping his pacing and heading towards the kitchen.
“…Blueberries.” Twilight replied definitively, sinking further into the sofa, becoming swallowed up in the cushions.
“Ohhh, good choice, Twilight…” Grinned Cantor as he entered the doorless frame to the kitchen.
“But I don’t have the ingredients to make waffles.” Twilight called out in a voice that could have been heard as a protest.
The stallion’s head poked back out and around the door, his left eyebrow raised inquisitively. Nopony spoke for a moment, and when the exchange of confused and knowing expressions was done, Cantor disappeared into the kitchen and returned with two plates, a pair of teabags, and a couple teacups floating behind him in a veil of violet. He planted himself next to Twilight on the sofa, and set the plates and cups down appropriately.
“Now,” Began the stallion, staring intently at the cups and sitting on his haunches atop the seat. “would you like some tea?” he cast his attention to Twilight, who didn’t answer immediately as it didn’t register to her as a real question.
After a few seconds of silence, the purple unicorn looked at Cantor and answered. “Oh, um, yes please… I… I always have a tea in the morning…” Cantor smiled: she sounded confused, and in all fairness, she had the right to be. For one reason or another, Cantor found it really cute whenever Twilight misunderstood something, to see a mare who usually had an answer for everything lost for words, stammering various letters as the supercomputer inside her head raced to work out what it had just heard. The stallion was reminded of the time when he tried to explain temporal causality loops to her, (granted, his memory of the subject was fuzzy, he was still able to outline the gist of it) illustrating the dangers of travelling backwards in time.
“Okay…” Cantor replied to Twilight’s statement, turning back to the teacups and producing two orbs of boiling water just above the table. Twilight, always intrigued by Cantor’s mystical power, observed in wonderment, sitting herself up straighter as the boiling water fell into the cups. Cantor then lowered the teabags into the water, for some reason, seeing water boiling made it look a lot cleaner than it normally appeared in a glass or likewise container.
“Now for the hard part…” Cantor declared, his horn glowed bright purple and his mane transformed. It went from being a limp, scraggly rust coloured one to a flowing golden one, shining like the sun and billowing out in front of him, resembling that of one of the princess’. Twilight’s mouth fell agape as she observed the godlike form of her friend staring intently at a blob of milk which materialised in front of him. He was focusing intently, yes smiling at his miracle.
The collection of smooth, white milk then split into two smaller ones, each no bigger than a small plum, and descended into both of the cups. Cantor’s mane and tail continued to billow with golden light as another pair of substances appeared, two pieces of sugar, about the same size as a plump grape made their way to each steaming cup. Cantor’s celestial mane continued to flow as the plates illuminated with a similar golden light and brown and blue dust particles began to swirl around each. The alicorn frowned in deep concentration as two servings of waffles and blueberries materialised in font of him.
Twilight continued to gawp, astounded as her bare white plate suddenly had two steaming waffles placed atop it with a small mound of bright, plumb blueberries. Looking at the second pair of waffles sat next to her own, one, without paying much attention to the little details, could have deemed the two dishes identical.
Cantor’s mane deflated, lost it’s shimmer and returned to the regular rusty orange colour it always had. He couldn’t help but produce a cocky grin as he turned to the mare on his left.
“Impressed?” He asked, not expecting a response from Twilight Sparkle as she remained staring wide – eyed at the plate of delectable looking food.
Very slowly, Twilight turned her head to face Cantor.
“It’s perfectly safe to eat.” The stallion declared, fetching two sets of knives and forks from the kitchen around the corner and placing one of them on the lip of Twilight’s plate.
She ignored the gesture. “Cantor!” She exclaimed, finally finding the words to express her astonishment. “That’s… not possible!”
“What’s not possible?” He asked, still keeping his smug look.
“Ah- This!” She said, sounding as if she were complaining. “Making food out of thin air!”
“Well I can make the elements out of thin air. Well, except air, that already kind of-“
“This is different! We’ve talked about this! Being an Elemental is just a lost, or at least very rare form of magic, but doing things like this is on the same level as… as...”
“Go on, you can say it.”
Cantor chuckled, cutting a corner of his breakfast off with the edge of the small knife. “It’s just something I learned in Manehatten; the ponies there tend to frown upon others eating their park, so I just kind of… discovered I could do that…” He popped the morsel of hot, steamy, slightly crunchy, but otherwise moist waffle into his mouth with a couple of blueberries. Definitely one of the better recipes if he did say so himself. “They’re nice, Twilight… Try some.”
Apprehensively, Twilight too took a mouthful of her artificial breakfast, the sweet smell of the waffle and the fragrance of the blueberries hitting her nose before she ate it, and once it was in her mouth, she began to chew eagerly, savouring the taste, no doubt one of the best breakfasts she had eaten recently.
“One thing about making food this way, Twilight…” Cantor began, swallowing his first bite and beginning to cut another. “Is that, if you know what you’re doing, they’ll come out pretty much perfect every time…” He smiled in spite of himself, before taking another mouthful. “It’s not a problem for you this way, is it?” He asked, watching Twilight’s unjustified expression.
“No, no. Not at all.” She answered, relieving Cantor slightly. “It’s really good, just… This isn’t natural, Cantor: you can’t- there isn’t- it’s-…” She stammered until she gave up and said what was on her mind. “You’re a god, Cantor. I don’t know how to feel about that.” At this point, all she was focused on was the alicorn, she had completely forgotten about her breakfast.
Cantor allowed his eyes to fall shut before swallowing his food, the throaty sound echoing loudly inside his head.
“Has anything changed?” He asked, his eyes still shut.
“What?” Replied Twilight.
“Am I any less of a stallion than the one you fell in love with?” Disallowing Twilight the time to respond, he re-opened his eyes and burned intently at her. “Or a better question would be: ‘Am I any more’?”
This question in particular hit Twilight hard. Thoughts and conclusions rushed through her mind, yet she could not steer away from her definite answer. “No.” She said, “No, you’re no different than when I first met you; still as caring and loveable as ever. I don’t care who or what you are, as long as you’re you, nothing else matters to me, because I love you.” Cantor’s face changed to an expression of pure bliss and happiness.
“I love you too, Twilight. More than words can describe.” He replied, gently leaning towards the mare. “Whatever happens in the future, good or bad, remember that I’ll always be here for you no matter what. Don’t ever forget that, Twilight. When you’re with me, you have nothing to fear, and whenever I’m with you, neither do I.” He stopped moving when the two ponies’ noses touched. “When I was gone, You never left my thoughts, not even for a second. Honestly, I tried to forget, hoped to never have to say ‘what if’, but I thought you had said that for me already. And it tore me up.” He grabbed Twilight’s hoof and squeezed it tightly, yet not enough to cause pain or discomfort. “I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I love you, Twilight Sparkle… And I always will.” Twilight closed her eyes and Cantor followed.
“No matter what…”
Their lips brushed against each others before a distant sounding voice shattered the silence. “Hey, did you guys know it’s like, half ten in the morni- oh…” He stopped once he caught both of the equine’s unamused faces. “I didn’t know you two were um…”
“You know, Spike,” Twilight began, shooting Cantor a knowing smile. “there’s ‘killing the moment’, and then there’s that…” She said, pointing an accusing hoof at Spike.
The baby dragon turned to face the wall, then looked back to the unicorn, finding, as expected, nopony behind him. “Who, me?” He asked, placing a claw across his scaly chest.
“Yes!” Cantor and Twilight both cried at once, sending the pair into giggle fits.
“Oh…” Spike replied, a slight blush across his cheeks. He took a step forward and made his way across the room to the pair of ponies, giggling like foals. “Hey, waffles! I didn’t know we had waffles, Twilight!” Spike decreed, taking a long inhale through his nostrils, savouring the delectable smell of the golden brown batter cakes.
Twilight winked at Cantor and the stallion nodded. “What uh, what would you like for breakfast, Spike?” He asked, looking down at the dragon from where he perched on the cushion. “Anything at all.”
“Anything at all!?” The purple reptilian replied, sounding half excited, half in disbelief.
“Anything you desire…” Cantor spoke, peering up at the tip of his horn.
Spike rubbed his chin and put on a devious little grin. “Diamonds.” He answered.
The alicorn didn’t react any more than turning to Twilight for confirmation. “Go for it.” She replied cheerfully in a tone that was rather testing itself.
Cantor furrowed his brow and gave a face of sheer determination as his horn lit up bright purple and his mane and tail billowed around him, casting out it’s golden light.
Spike jumped back with a gasp as a ball of intense light appeared at the far end of the room, the ball soon took shape and formed an odd shaped cube-like impression. Cantor’s magic continued to flow from his horn as he appeared to float atop his majestic tail. All of a sudden, the shape became clear – crystal clear, yet was still surrounded by a purple glow. The light from the aura shone through the curious shaped object and lit up the entire library with bright violet light. The object was smoking and for a while, it hung there in mid air whilst it cooled down. Cantor’s hair had since returned to normal and he was suddenly feeling incredibly tired.
Whatever he had made, it certainly was heavy, and, despite it’s shape, still rather beautiful. It cooled for a moment before Cantor was certain it wouldn’t damage the clean wooden floor and he set it gently down, slowly removing his magic from around it. It certainly was a strange shape: some sort of lopsided cube with a queer lump sprouting from one of the top corners. It was as clear as glass, there was no distortion of colour from the object to the other side of the room; it was purer than glass – but Cantor still needed a dragon’s approval.
“Well, I… I think that’s diamond, I mean, it’s quite simple to make, just carbon, right?” He asked, looking to Twilight, who promptly nodded, still ogling the weird shape.
Spike trotted across the circular room until he was next to the transparent block. It stood nearly as tall as he did, and even though he was still unsure, Spike couldn’t hide the wonder in his eyes. He gave it a small testing prod with the tip of his tongue and a unique taste aroused his senses and his tail whipped back and forth as the sensation no pony could ever understand consumed his body. “It’s! It’s! It’s diamond!” he exclaimed, gnawing at the bulge in the side. “It’s so hard, too!” The dragon gushed, to which both ponies exchanged glances of immaturity and burst out laughing.
Spike looked back up at the couple, Twilight had collapsed onto Cantor’s belly and both ponies were causing each other to laugh even more, only partially entertained by the original innuendo.
“Laugh all you want, guys, this diamond’s perfect! Thanks so much, Cantor!” Yet the dragon’s praise went unheard as the unicorn pushed the alicorn further into hysteria and vice versa.
Cantor chose the wrong moment to open his eyes again, seeing Spike furiously licking the end of the deformed part of the cube. “LOOK WHAT HE’S DOING!” The alicorn shrieked in a shrill, ecstatic voice which was far from his familiar low one, pointing a hoof directly at the excited dragon, adoring to no end the second taste of diamond he had ever had in his life.
Twilight copied Cantor’s stare and began to howl with laughter herself. “I can’t! Can’t! Breathe!” she wheezed as he fell off of the sofa with Cantor who had been sliding perilously closer to the edge of the seat since the laughter began, landing on top of him and jabbing him in the chin with her horn. Cantor held Twilight tightly as their laughs of ecstasy subsided to gasps for precious air, aching sides and painful jaws.
“Are jewels even nutritious to dragons?” Asked Cantor, Seeing that Spike had now chipped off a lump of diamond and was suckling noisily at it, stirring up a suppressed laugh from the stallion.
“Don’t ask…” Twilight replied, looking behind her at her assistant and giggling herself. “All the books in this library make it unclear at best about dragon anatomy.”
Cantor squirmed out from beneath the unicorn and got to his hooves, extending his right foreleg for Twilight to take. She used the extra limb to drag herself upwards, never breaking eye contact as she rose.
“Now… where were we?” He asked through half lidded eyes.
Twilight lowered her own eyes and smiled warmly. “Right about here…” She answered, leaning forwards towards Cantor.
Their mouths were millimetres apart when a thunderous hammering at the front door occurred.
“Oh, what now!?” Yelled Cantor, turning away from the mare and glaring at the source of the noise. Without warning, Pinkie Pie burst through the door, a frigid air flooding into the house.
“Hi, guys!” The pink pony cried, bounding into the room, leaving a small trail of snow on her wake. The loose, brightly coloured wool – lined saddle she wore bobbed atop her back with her strides.
“Pinkie! Close the door!” Twilight ordered, observing the pink mare leap across to the entrance, slam thee door with her hooves and return to stand directly in front of her.
“Hi!” The party pony repeated, beaming into Twilight’s face with some unsung excitement in her eyes.
Twilight stepped back, allowing herself some space to breathe. “Um, hello, Pinkie… Why are you here?” the unicorn asked, eyeing up her visitor.
“Duh, Twilight: Today’s a snow day! You know what that means!” Pinkie exclaimed.
“Ugh…” Twilight sighed. “Snowball fights?”
“Well… yeah, but what else?” Pinkie Pie implored.
“Yeah, but what first?”
“Ooh! That’s a great idea! I hadn’t thought of that one but I sure am now! But that’s still not what I meant, Twilight. Wow, you’re bad at this game!” Shortly after saying this, Pinkie Pie began to giggle merrily to herself.
Twilight pondered for a moment, her logical mind racing through possibilities; knowing Pinkie Pie, what she had in mind could literally be anything. “Tell me, Pinkie.” The lavender unicorn asked with a sigh of defeat. “I haven’t a clue.”
“Winter cupcakes!” The Earth pony exclaimed.
Cantor froze, images of the darkened room, blinding lights and tight leather belts coming back into view. He could imagine the pain caused by the dreaded ice cream scoop and he didn’t intend to think about being skinned by the satanic mare, however his paranoid mind had different plans; he could already feel the thin skin layer being torn from his muscles, while he screamed and Pinkie Pie laughed.
“No.” He thought. “It was just a dream: she would never do that… but... that’s what Rainbow Dash thought in that damn story…”
“Ohhh! I have to admit, I love those seasonal cupcakes you make, Pinkie!” Said Twilight. “What are these ones like?”
“Ahhhh, you’ll just have to wait and see!” Pinkie replied, tapping the side of her nose with a hoof.
“Well, I’ve got nothing else planned for today. What about you, Cantor?” Asked Twilight, turning to look behind her at the shifty alicorn, already certain of his answer.
“Come on.” He scorned himself inside his head. “Pinkie would never do that; that story was fake, anyway…”
“Uhhh, yeah, I’ll come. It sounds like fun!” Cantor confirmed, yet still finding that he had to force a smile.
Cantor, Spike, Twilight and Pinkie Pie left the warmth of the library and entered a different, yet still rather welcoming world; icicles hung from the roofs of houses and large snow mounds lay on either side of the street where some ponies had come and cleared the paths. The sky was bare: empty from everything apart from the sun slowly making it’s way across the pale blue expanse. Everywhere, foals and some older ponies (though mainly stallions) were engaged in vicious looking snowball fights, small orbs of compressed snow were raining down on both sides and the sound of laughter and screams of joy echoed throughout the new scenery.
The town of Ponyville looked nice in the warmer weather, but compared to it’s appearance now… It was absolutely stunning. The sunlight bounced off of the virgin snow and gave the ground the appearance of glowing. Every inch of every tree, now relieved of their leaves, too, was coated with snow, yet each individual branch was still distinguishable from the others.
The trio of ponies and their dragon comrade had reached the centre of town after a few minutes of walking, enjoying the scenery, and the usually consistent fountain had frozen and been turned off for the first time in months. The spectacular town hall stood out more than usual from the other houses, every single inch of it’s great dome roof was covered in snow, making the windows which surrounded the roof in a large ring jut out and give the appearance of little gems imbedded into the snow.
Pinkie Pie was wearing her bright blue and yellow saddle which adorned a diamond pattern across her whole back, brilliant white wool plumed around the edges, nearly identical to Twilight’s own cosy back protection, however the unicorn’s saddle adopted a one – tone light blue across hers. As an added bonus, a pink and white scarf was tied loosely around her slender neck. And despite the fact that he was paranoid about his dream last night, the instinctual part of Cantor’s brain was able to overpower the fear with the stallion-induced observation of “the more clothes somepony wears, the more attractive they become…” Cantor wore nothing, not even a scarf – mostly because of the feminine collection Twilight kept in her closet, but partly because he was perfectly fine to walk in the sub-zero temperatures with nothing but the feathers on his back to keep him warm. Surprisingly enough, they did an astounding job of doing just that.
They were now approaching the bakery and Cantor’s apprehension had returned. He allowed his legs to carry him towards Sugarcube Corner alongside Twilight and the innocent enough Pinkie Pie.
“So are um… are the others coming to help out too?” The stallion asked, sounding convincingly unafraid.
“Yeah,” Answered the pink mare. “I asked them all if they wanted to come today before I got to you, Twilight.” Pinkie scanned her surroundings, checking every alley and pathway. “They should be here by now…” She muttered.
Just then, a high velocity frozen projectile came flying through the air, striking Cantor on the end of the nose, splattering snow up his nostrils and into his eyes. The stallion sneezed loudly into the ground and brought his head back up to see who the culprit was. His eyes fell upon a group of ten or so teenage colts pointing and laughing at him. A sly grin spread across his snow covered face as his horn flared violet. A large patch of snow behind him glowed a similar colour as it lifted into the air and settled above him. He tore off a piece of the snow with his magic, and seeing the colts still hysterically laughing, began to squeeze the mass of snowflakes with the magical grip.
The first attempt turned out to be a fail as the first ‘snowball’ was crushed to oblivion, stopping when it became no bigger than a pea. He tore off another amount of snow and compressed it gently. Through the precision of magic, the snowball became a perfect spherical shape and a reasonable density. Cantor tested it’s weight to make sure he didn’t throw it to hard and decapitate somepony. Flicking his head quickly to the side, he released his hold on the ball of snow, sending it slightly to the right of the group, gorging the settled snow on the ground and forming a long trough until it lost it’s momentum and stopped.
The young stallions turned to the impact before turning their attention back to the alicorn. They soon matched Cantor’s expression, the two unicorns in the group compressing snow into several snowballs of a rather worrying size, cantor, meanwhile, picked up a nearby field and separated it into several hundred more snowballs, the snow which levitated behind him fell to the floor and landed with a muffled thud atop the ground.
The group of two unicorns, seven earth ponies and one lone pegasus heaved their collection of ammunition into the air. The wave of infantry arced in the twenty metres the two ‘teams’ stood apart, and gathered speed on the downfall. Cantor did nothing except stand there as a couple of snowballs fell short, one hurtled straight over the alicorn, landing in a skeletal tree, sending it’s load of snow falling to the ground below. Most of the other mortars landed in an untidy scattering around the stallion, causing Twilight to skip to the side to avoid being hit squarely on the tip of her horn. Every snowball except one missed, the one good shot striking Cantor on his rump and exploding with a most impressive spread.
Cantor furrowed his brow and uttered “My turn.” And with an effort laced grunt, heaved the couple of tons worth of snowballs across the battlefield, blotting out the sun. He grinned and craned his neck to the sky. The gesture was promptly mimicked by the colts; gazing up to see where the sun had gone. Their pupils shrank and they hit the deck, covering their heads with their hooves and bracing for impact. The snow came down like missiles, pelting their fuzzy saddles with soft – packed balls of snow, after only the first quarter of ammunition was exhausted, the opposing team were already buried under a respectable mound of snow, and it was piling higher by the second.
He quickly deposited the remaining snowballs onto the soft ground, each one disintegrating as it fell, adding another inch or so under where they flew.
“Ha ha!” The alicorn laughed as he observed the colts emerge from the pile of snow and wander off in search of another area to have their snowball fight.
“Cantor,” Twilight began, sounding highly unamused by the display. “They’re foals.” She stated, “Very old foals, but still, don’t you think you overdid it?”
“Well… I…” He stammered, looking anywhere but at the unicorn mare. “They started it!” He eventually declared.
“Oh, please…” Sighed Twilight in a dismal tone. “That’s one of the worst excuses imaginable. How old are you?”
“Six- Really?” Twilight asked in exasperation. “You’re…” She cast a glance towards the pink Earth pony and her dragon assistant who both stood idly listening to the conversation. “Ummm, you guys go ahead, I need to ask Cantor something personal.”
“Okey dokey lokey!” Replied the excitable party pony, offering Spike the opportunity to ride on her back to the bakery. “Come on, Spike,” Pinkie continued, “Let’s leave these two ‘lovebirds’ alone to chat.” She added before bolting off into town before either pony could protest.
Twilight turned to Cantor and blushed gently, keeping her head buried in her neck as much as possible without breaking eye contact.
“I’m… what?” The stallion enquired.
“I didn’t know you were… you know… under-age…” Her blush increased dramatically, so much so, that the still oblivious Cantor felt the air around her heat up.
“Under age for what?”
Twilight looked back up and raised her eyebrows. “You know…” She mumbled, her entire face red from the still rather new concept.
Her huge blush gave it away. “Oh…” Cantor simply replied. “Did… did I really not tell you I’m sixteen until just now?” He asked, joining Twilight in thinking back to when they met.
“I-“ She started, “I don’t think you did…”
“Yeah, I can’t remember either…” Cantor commented. “Wait, there’s an age restriction?” He asked, a little surprised, yet still agreeing that it was a little necessary.
“Yes, you have to be eighteen at least.” She answered with a little nod.
“Well how old are you?” Cantor asked quizzically.
“Cantor!” Twilight cried out quietly in mock disapproval. “Don’t you know it’s rude to ask a girl her age?” She scorned playfully, failing to hide a foalish smirk.
The alicorn, slow towards the concept of sarcasm quickly apologised, receiving a hearty giggle from Twilight.
“I’m nineteen, Cantor…” She bespoke, her blush subsiding, her face changing back to a tickled lavender.
Cantor blinked once and raised an eyebrow. “Well that’s hardly what I’d call ‘old’, Twilight.” He enunciated with respect in his tone.
“Thanks…” The purple mare replied with a cute little smile. “You’re such a rebel, Cantor: ‘messing about’ under-age…” She giggled and turned away from Cantor, swishing her straight cut tail up so the tip of it brushed across his nose.
The stallion froze as he himself began to glow the revealing colour of crimson. After a second or two of stunned silence, Cantor caught up with Twilight who had already made her way several paces down the frosty path. Paranoia from the nightmare almost completely wiped from his memory until the ominous bakery rose up in front of him. Much like the rest of the town, the roof of Sugarcube Corner was heavily plastered with snow, giving it the appearance of an enormous cupcake.
“Should we wait for the others, Pinkie?” Twilight asked as she strode into the bakery with Cantor in tow, the door gently clicked shut behind him, causing a little brass bell to jingle quietly above.
Cantor took one last look outside at the playing ponies before turning back to the bakery with an abrupt sigh.
“Yeah…” Pinkie agreed in a very unusual bored tone, “I guess we should…” She peeked out of the window and cast an observant glance up and down the heavily populated streets. Alas, none of the four other mares could be seen. Pinkie pie scurried from the windowsill and flung her loose saddle over her head to land on a hat stand in the far corner of the room, nearly causing the skeletal piece of furniture to topple over before she dove into a cupboard under the tiled work surface and began rummaging noisily.
Mr. and Mrs. Cake were in the nursery, attending to the pair of two year old foals who had become rather troublesome during the past few months. The cries of the tiny ponies were muffled greatly by the walls and thick floors of the bakery, yet the dull sound of hooves clopping on floorboards could easily be heard.
Spike was assisting Twilight with the task of removing her saddle whilst the unicorn took her thick boots off and placed them carefully in the corner at the base of the ‘hat’ stand harbouring Pinkie’s mislaid piece of clothing.
“Come on, Cantor…” The alicorn scolded himself, rubbing his left temple hard with the tip of his hoof. “You’re being ridiculous. After all, in the story, Pinkie Pie-“
“I already made a batch!” The pink Earth pony cried gleefully from behind the counter, a case of twelve large cupcakes with copious amounts of dazzling white frosting, sprinkled with sapphire coloured strands of sugar at a perfect ratio resting on the surface in front of her. At any other time, the treats would have been an astounding work of art: time, care and dedication poured into each one. Unfortunately, the sequence of events had kicked Cantor’s panic receptors into overdrive.
“Oh, no! No, no, no, no, no!” The stallion stuttered, his eyes locking onto Pinkie as she took a cupcake from the selection and offered it to Cantor. He winced and backpedalled until his rump hit the wall and his head sunk to the floor. His usually placid eyes held noting but distress as the bakery’s top mare loomed over him with death in her hand and evil in her eyes.
Pinkie giggled, as did Twilight, Thinking that Cantor was simply playing some sort of game. “Come on, Cantor! These things are like, the best cupcakes ever!” Pinkie laughed, thrusting the cupcake even closer towards the mortified alicorn.
“Pinkie, really, no.” Cantor insisted in a voice barely more powerful than a whimper. His breathing became irrational as his heart thundered inside his chest. His brain was telling him to run, but his legs wouldn’t obey. He could feel the evil seeping from the satanic pink mare as she tormented him with the thing he feared the most.
Twilight still regarded the whole performance as a joke, chuckling along with Spike and Pinkie at Cantor’s grievous expense. The unicorn observed in amusement, finding great entertainment in her stallion – friend’s emotional torture. Her laughs immediately ceased and turned stale, however, when she saw the cowering alicorn begin to cry. Her heart skipped a beat and she found difficulty breathing when she clocked the expression of absolute terror fixated in the stallion’s eyes. She had seen her stallion upset before, albeit benign, she had seen him shocked, even a little angry before, but never had she seen Cantor absolutely petrified. The only time she could remember was last night when he woke up screaming.
A gentle cry of “Oh, no…” Escaped her lips the instant she forged the connection, yet she struggled to find her voice to speak out from the shock caused by the heart-wrenching look the alicorn was giving Pinkie as she did nothing but brandish the perfect cupcake in front of his face, driving his head lower into the ground.
“Pinkie…” Cantor sobbed, “Please don’t…” He continued to whimper as his heart began to ache from filling his muscles with adrenaline.
Pinkie Pie was laughing too much to hear the desperate plea and continued to wave the sweet around in the air just above his head.
“Aren’t ya gonna eat it?” Pinkie Pie pouted, still not noticing what horrific pain she was causing one of her best friends. “I worked really hard on them too…” Her playful pout erupted back into whooping laughs of amusement as her mind refused to open her eyes and see; she was having far too much fun…
Cantor hacked up a scream which caught inside his throat and came out as a gag of intense emotional anguish.
His ‘fight or flight’ reflex was failing miserably, the ‘flight’ option completely gone as long as Pinkie kept him held down, and despite all the horror, he would never attack Pinkie Pie…
Unfortunately for the pink one, the ecstatic Earth pony made this decision for him by proclaiming “Here comes the choo-choo train!” And burying the winter treat into Cantor’s muzzle. The unwelcome gesture instantaneously transformed all of Cantor’s fright to blood-boiling rage, that of a new level he had never felt before, nor could he control his actions fully after Pinkie made that fatal error.
A low growl rumbled in the back of Cantor’s throat before it exploded into a full-blown roar of animosity. “GOD DAMN IT!” He roared, turning the tables and forcing Pinkie to stumble backwards as The alicorn rose from the floor and stretched his wings behind his back, now appearing three times as tall as the pink mare. Her pupils shrunk and her eyes widened as all of her amusement was sliced and diced into fear.
Cantor stabbed his hoof downward at an incredible speed with the force of a boxer to back it up onto Pinkie’s muzzle, resulting in a very audible crunch followed by a high-pitched whimper from the distraught mare.
“I SAID NO!” Cantor bellowed once more towards the party pony, a thick stream of deep crimson trickling from both her nostrils and into her mouth, frozen agape in a silent scream. Her eyes streamed tears of a lethal mixture of searing pain, fear, panic and confusion, disallowing her brain to control her legs.
The white alicorn’s teeth had rapidly sharpened to razor-sharp interlocking points and his once understanding, kind, emotional eyes had been consumed by a rich blackness, covering the entirety of both of his eyes with a shiny, evil, death – like darkness. Without warning, the infuriated alicorn lunged forward and sunk his needlepoint teeth into Pinkie’s right shoulder. The flesh being sliced like butter until the teeth struck bone and stopped abruptly.
The new sensation of pain overpowered the shock inside Pinkie’s mind and she screamed her life out as Cantor growled deeply into her flesh and vast amounts of blood rocketed from the wound, into Cantor’s mouth and down the length of her leg. The stallion bit even harder into the bone before turning around with Pinkie and bending his head to the floor. Pinkie Pie fell, and ripples of the most intense pain she had ever felt rocketed endlessly through her body, growing more intense with every quickened heartbeat.
Cantor, or whatever the foul creature he had become, then put all of his weight in tossing the feeble pink mare into the air. His hide and neck tensed as he spun around and launched Pinkie Pie with much momentum through the frosty glass window of the bakery, tearing a long strip of skin from her shoulder, making her wail in grief all the way until she hit the snow outside, landing beneath the hooves of Rainbow Dash and her four other friends, splattering the snow under her with bright red blood.
The searing sensation of the ice cold floor against her gaping wound was too much for the poor mare to handle and she lost control of her voice, emitting screams of indescriptable agony which tore through the otherwise peaceful town.
Rainbow Dash’s eyes darted from Pinkie’s bloody, scrunched up face to the smashed bakery window. With alarming speed, Cantor’s enormous white bloody form pounced from the break, lunging straight for the crippled mare on the floor, her cries only fuelling his bloodlust. Both Rainbow and Applejack reacted instantly, catching the alicorn under both forelegs and halting him from his target. They had to pull with all their might to prevent the monster from ripping their friend apart.
He hissed and snarled like a rabid dog in the two ponies’ tough grip just when his searing hatred began to subside to where it belonged. His teeth blunted once more and he felt as if he could see more clearly again.
“Wh- What’s going-“ Was all he could manage before he felt a hefty blow beneath the chin, cutting him off mid-sentence.
Rainbow Dash sought her chance and full body tackled the stallion to the ground, straddling him and pressing her back knees forcefully into his shoulder blades.
“You! Fucking! Bastard!” She cried, pounding her strong right hoof into his face with every word until Applejack pulled her off of him.
“Let me go! Let me go!” The infuriated Pegasus demanded, her sudden gush of hatred turned to remorse when she saw what she had done to the stallion’s face. He quickly climbed to his hooves. Blood flowed from his nose in torrents and he bent down and spat out several broken teeth onto the floor below, the rarest of blood staining the white ground a chilling red.
“Why!?” Rainbow Dash pleaded, not removing her eyes from Cantor’s bloody face.
His eyes finally became clear and he had full control over his body once more. He touched the tip of his nose with his hoof, the movement sending a spike of searing pain through his muzzle and around the front of his brain, making his eyes water. He stared down at the motionless Pinkie Pie and the sobbing yellow pegasus beside her. Just then, Twilight burst from the doorway of Sugarcube corner, the bell’s cheery chime unheard amongst the crowd of ponies which had briskly gathered around in a large circle.
Twilight faced Cantor in horror and shock when he looked over his shoulder at her. Her eyes struggled to take in the whole scene. All around, ponies were muttering and gasping amongst themselves. Twilight’s gaze rested upon Fluttershy, who was huddled over Pinkie Pie, sobbing inaudible words into the pink mare’s lifeless mane. Rarity sat behind the butter coloured pegasus, fighting back tears of her own as she stroked Fluttershy’s quivering back and gazed upon Pinkie’s face, frozen in a perfect representation of pure pain. Rainbow Dash had broken down into tears in Applejack’s arms and the orange Earth pony was shooting Cantor a piercing look of disgust, though it was not noted.
Twilight was all Cantor could see and hear right now, and her bright eyes were brimming with pained tears and denial. She shook her head slowly as she asked: “What have you done?...”
The purple unicorn blinked lightly and a small tear rolled down each cheek as she spoke.
Cantor’s breath was stolen. For the life of him, he couldn’t find the right thing to say.
“I… I don’t…” He stammered before sealing his eyes shut and exploding into a field of purple sparks, stunning the crowd into silence. The only sounds to be heard was the agonised sobbing of two heartbroken Pegasi as they lay there in the reddened snow.