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Twilight Sparkle awoke standing. Her eyes flickered open to a brilliant white sky. She was standing. She must have fallen asleep standing. It was a good thing too, when she looked down she found she was standing ankle deep in water. Twilight looked around. There was nothing but the placid water in every direction and the white sky above. No matter how far she trotted the water stayed the same depth. Her hoofsteps barely even created ripples as she walked. In the sky to her left hung the moon and to her right, the sun. A gentle breeze blew past; her mane ruffled slightly and she did not bother to fix it. A spray of mist danced above the water’s surface, giving off a slight rainbow. There was an unnatural peace to this area, not to mention the surrealism of a plane of endless water. “This must be a dream,” Twilight said to nopony in particular. “But what am I supposed to do here?” Twilight spun around in place. On her fifth turn, she noticed a far away object that had not been there before. “Good as idea as anything else.” She walked slowly to the object. It was some spindly thing off in the distance. She glanced up at the sun, which was glowing dully in the sky. The moon was full, but lost in the white sky. Finally after much walking, she reached the object. It was a tree, and a dead one at that. Its branches were twisted in an untraceable nest of intertwined paths. Its bark was a shade of gray similar to that of a statue. The water rippled out from the tree’s base. Twilight looked around. The sound of a stringed instrument of some kind was playing. Twilight followed the sound to the top of the tree. She shook her head at the sound’s source, “Hello.”
“Hello,” Discord replied. The draconequus was slowly going chromatically up the notes on a fiddle he was clutching. “I’m glad to see you’re starting to show some civility around me. You were being just downright rude before.”
Twilight glanced around. “Why am I here?”
“How should I know?” Discord reversed directions of his playing; now gradually stepping down through the notes on the fiddle. “Perhaps you’re dead?”
“I’m not...! I’m not dead!”
“Oh yes, that’s what it was now. You’re dead. This is the afterlife. Storm Dancer really did a number on you.”
Twilight looked at her reflection in the water. “That’s not true! This can’t be… How can you be here then?”
“I’m a god. I can be where ever I want. It’s one of the perks of being omnipotent.”
“You are not a god! You’re some crazed sprit with a twisted sense of humor!”
Discord reversed directions on his tune again, slowly climbing the scale. “Blasphemy! I should smite you or something. I am too a god. Or I was one anyway. Now I’m nothing more than a resting place for pigeons.”
“This can’t be the afterlife. There’s nothing here! Just the water and the sun and moon. And this dumb tree!”
“Oh I can’t tell you how much I hate pigeons. If there’s one thing I don’t miss from the garden outside the castle it’s the blasted pigeons. Oh and the field trips. Those were ever so annoying.”
Twilight shook her head. “I remember Luna was carrying me up to bed though. I couldn’t have died….”
“They really are worthless creatures. All they do is eat and defecate on statues. Pigeons that is. Not the field trips. I don’t think a trip is capable of sitting on top of a statue. It should though. Twilight, take a note! When I get my powers back I want to make field trips a living creature. Like an eight-headed zebra-sidewalk thing. No! Wait. Avocados. Perfect, absolute genius. All field trips shall be made into avocados. I’m not sure how that’s going to work yet. I’ll figure out the details later. Point is, write it down so I don’t forget.”
“Are you even listening? I’m telling you I’m not dead.”
“Oh. You’re still on that. Yes of course you’re not dead. I’m a god of chaos, not the afterlife. Once you’re dead you’ll never have to worry about me again. I just told you that because you take everything so seriously and it’s hilarious. Did you write down the note about the avocados? I’m not kidding, this is super important. The fate of Equestria could very well hang on this one day. Avocados. Not the writing part. Don’t forget.”
Twilight shook her head. “Then why am I here in this strange place?”
Discord resumed playing his fiddle. “Don’t look at me. I don’t know. I’m just resting here because I needed to get out of the dungeon for a while. That stupid siren is singing again. It’s much more peaceful here.”
“This is one of your stupid lessons isn’t it? What’s with all the water?”
“I told you I don’t know.” Discord leaned over the side of the tree.
“The sun and the moon both in the sky at the same time over a field of water with a single dead tree. Is this supposed to be symbolic?”
“Probably. Maybe it’s your inner turmoil or something.” Discord waved Twilight off and went back to his fiddle.
“I thought you were supposed to be…”
“Oh I got it! I’ll turn all the little ponies that go on the field trip into avocadoes. There it is.”
“Listen to me!”
“Oh you’re right. That’s not really turning a field trip into an avocado that’s more just turning the field trip participants into fruit. Is an avocado a fruit? Bah. It don’t matter, if it's not it will be by the time I’m done with it.”
“I thought you were supposed to be teaching me something!”
“Fine! You want this to be symbolic? Take a look.” Discord grew in size and his shadow engulfed Twilight. He snaked around and pointed to the moon. On the horizon a large outline of Luna appeared below the moon. Opposite the image was a child’s drawing of Ponyville and Canterlot, painting the sky below the sun. “The time may come yet very soon, for you to choose between the sun and the moon. The moon which loves you without a doubt and the sun which Equestria cannot live without!”
“Enough of your riddles! What do you want with me?”
“Want? Why nothing but your absolute happiness, little Twilight.”
“Happiness? You have a funny way of showing it, assaulting my mind with images of my fillyfriend’s death and my home being destroyed.”
“Happiness is the goal, my little pony. I never said it would be a smooth path. You have to earn it. I show you things that prepare you for events to come.”
“You show me lies! This whole place is just a fun ground for you to torture me!”
“Torture you? Here? I can’t. This is your dream.”
Twilight looked around “This is… my dream…? You’re a liar. This is one of your little lessons.”
“You would think so. But as hard as it was for me to comprehend, apparently you actually do a have a brain and this is what brains do at night. They dream.”
Twilight glanced up at the sky. “My… dream…?”
“Yes but perhaps you’re right. We should get down to business. Let’s face it. I’m not getting anywhere with this avocado dilemma. Well. Since you asked for it. Let’s play a game. I call this one ‘Statues!’”
Twilight gasped, “No…!”
“Too late.” Discord laughed as he snapped his fingers. The water began to drain down an unseen hole in the ground. Twilight was sucked into the vortex of water, pulled by the current to the center of the area. Discord laughed as the sky darkened and thunder echoed. Twilight’s head was pulled under the surface. She kicked her legs and flailed her neck. Her head surfaced only long enough to take a gasping gulp of air as she was pulled back down. She neared the edge of the swirling drain, feeling the flow turn from sideways to vertical as she fell into the abyss. Discord’s laughing expression was the last thing she saw from the surface as she was pulled into darkness. As she fell downward she had the strangest feeling that she was falling the wrong way. All around her objects on inexplicable origin were passing her, traveling upwards. A table, affixed with several colorful balloons, passed her by. A small pocket watch zinged right near her snout. A couple of books teased her as she tried to read the titles before they flew upwards and out of sight. She could have sworn that she had just seen Fluttershy’s pet bunny float by with a red vest. Then the speed increased. She was assaulted with scrolls and cookies and rainbow colored lightning bolts. Flower petals and pillows brushed against her tail as a few stray trees and apples bumped into her hooves. A large muffin smacked her in the face and somehow became lodged in her mouth. Then she began to tumble. She rolled from side to side as the objects assaulted her. A group of pink butterflies flew past by her in the hurry to evade her fall. She did loops around a set of sewing supplies that could not seemed to be bothered to get out of her way. Just when she thought it could get no stranger, a gray Pegasus with a blond mane floated by from the side. The gray mare snatched the muffin out of Twilight’s mouth and gave her a salute before lazily floating off to the side, nimbly dodging a pair of horseshoes that flew by. Twilight could see a small dot of light below her. The wind was nipping at her mane and stinging her eyes as she neared the light. She was almost to the light when it vanished with a clicking noise. Soon after, she impacted against a hard object.
When she stood up the first thing she noticed was how hard it was to see. The area had become very dark and devoid of all color. It took her a moment for her eyes to adjust, but when the world finally came back into focus, she could tell without a doubt that she was at the front gates to Canterlot Castle. She pushed the grayscale doors open and entered the castle. A muffled sound echoed around her, perhaps the scraping noise of the doors but it could have been anything. She walked down the large atrium of the castle. It was as she always remembered it, a long hallway lined with fantastical stain glass windows. However there were also several statues of royal guards placed rather peculiarly around the hallway. The Unicorn leaned in and stared closely at one of the stone stallions. A voice rang out that startled Twilight. “Twilight?”
The lavender pony glanced around to find a shadowy figure at the end of the hallway. “Who’s there?”
“Quickly! This way, Twilight.” The shadowy figure ducked around the corner. Twilight recognized the voice. It was Princess Luna’s voice. Eager to find a way out of this nightmare, Twilight raced down the hallway. Her hoofsteps muffled against the stonework despite her understanding of sound to tell her the exact opposite should be occurring. She rounded the corner to see Luna a fair distance ahead. Luna’s lovely blue coat was the only color in the otherwise gray world. Like a beacon drawing Twilight closer. “This way. We must hurry, my love.” Twilight followed Luna into the royal ballroom.
The grand hall was littered with ponies that were made of stone. The statues were all poised as though they had been sculpted in the middle of grand waltz. Luna glanced back to Twilight with a heavy sigh, “Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a statue, Twilight?” Luna weaved in and out of the ponies and made her way across the dance floor. “It must be dreadful to be a statue. Unable to move, trapped in a pose for all to see. I guess the best you can hope for is that you’re posed gracefully, so that others will see you how you want to be seen.” They walked around several ponies dressed to the nines, bowing to their partners with elegance. “What if the pose portrays you as a monster though?” They walked up to a pony that had tripped, and was immortalized in stone in the middle of a fall. “I guess if that’s what was going on when they made you a statue, then you’d be forever remembered as a villain. Ponies would only ever see the darker side of you. You’d be remembered only for your sins.”
“There’s always redemption.” Twilight tried to kiss her fillyfriend, but Luna walked away too briskly.
Luna made her way up to the stage where the stone band was frozen in the middle of a stanza. “It must be dreadful to be a statue. Unable to speak or sing. Ponies only can look at your image and from that they make their judgments. You try and call out to tell them that no, they are wrong! But your voice can’t leave your lips.” Luna’s tail brushed past an elegant pony on the cello. “Your sweet music is forgotten. There is no way for you to share it with others because they can only see the memory.” Luna paused a moment to stare at the cello. “I bet if statues could sing it would be a mellow song.” Luna pushed the gray curtain aside and disappeared behind the stage.
“There’s always a chance they could see the real you.”
Twilight followed suit and found herself, strangely, in the castle kitchen. Luna walked past several ponies wearing chef hats. They were in the midst of a chaotic still life. All around the ponies were dashing from left to right trying to quickly prepare dinner for the royalty and their guests. Only they were not moving. They too were encased in stone. “It must be dreadful to be a statue. Unable to interact with others, or share in conversations with them about nothings.” They walked past a pair of chefs statues, one was putting the finishing touches on a cake, while another was smiling widely and patting the first on the back. “No pony that can tell you that you’re doing a good job. No words of kindness can make it to your ears to praise your actions.” They moved over to a lone pony that was knelt down on the floor, trying to clean up a mess of broken eggs. “No pony to hear your calls for help. Perhaps that’s for the best though. Who would help a statue?” Luna lowered her head as the rounded a corner.
They found themselves in another hallway. There a Pegasus statue stood, donned in armor from the Griffin War. “It must be dreadful to be a statue. Unable to affect the world in any significant way.” Twilight walked past the stone Storm Dancer and shook her head. Luna paused only a moment to spit at the statue’s hooves. “Watching others rally around your misdeeds. Living on in infamy. The object of hatred. Forever.” Luna shook her head as they left the statue to their backs. They descended some staircases. “That’s what it means of course. You live forever.” The stairs delved deeper and deeper into the darkness. “And when so many years go by, your features… they wear off… the statue you once were is not just a figment. All the subtleties of your expression are gone. But the general pose is still there.” Twilight glanced around. They had entered the dungeon of the castle and were walking down the long hallways towards the crypt. “With your features gone, all on lookers can no longer see the pain in your face. The regret.” Luna was walking faster than Twilight. The Alicorn faded into the darkness ahead of Twilight, despite how fast she galloped after her love. Luna’s voice echoed. “All they see is the menacing pose.” Then Twilight could see nothing. Only the unknown darkness greeted her pupils now. “The enemy of the past.”
A bright light illuminated the center of the room, igniting with a thundering sound. The statue of Discord stat over the spotlight, posed as though he was signing a song. To the right was a statue of Princess Celestia staring up at the sky longingly. Luna was standing on Discord’s other side, gazing at Twilight. The blue Alicorn spoke in a hushed tone, “It must be dreadful to be a statue. Unable to change how others view you.”
Twilight shook her head. “Luna… You have me. You have me who sees you for what you truly are! A kind soul who’s biggest fault is just wanting to be loved.”
The Alicorn nodded. “Perhaps you’re right.” The room rumbled violently. The two ponies let out a gasp. The ceiling fractured. Fissures crept quickly around the area, a soft blue light pouring from the crevasses. With the thundering sound of a rock slide, the ceiling dissolved away to the night sky. Color flooded into the chamber as the starry sky shone forth, an ocean of rich blue velvet sprinkled with pinholes of light. In the center was the crown jewel, the centerpiece of the whole arrangement, the pale moon. It sat brilliantly high in the sky in all its glory, casting a spotlight down onto the ponies in Discord’s crypt at the heart of the castle dungeon. Luna looked up at the moon and tears streamed down her face. She was lit with a golden light coming from the floor. Around her hooves a circle of runes traced themselves into the dirt. Luna looked down in horror. “Twilight!” The Alicorn called out as the circle’s invisible artist completed tracing. A pillar of light raced up from the ground and struck the moon. Twilight shielded her eyes for a moment. A gust of wind knocked Twilight back as Luna screamed. In a second the ground inside the runic circle vanished and Luna fell.
“Luna!” Twilight raced forward and jumped through the rift. Her rear hooves wrapped round one of the legs of the statue of Discord as she fell into the fissure. She quickly interlocked her front leg around Luna’s own. Luna was dangling out into a colorless landscape, covered in dust.
“The moon!” The Alicorn’s face was streaming with tears. “We’re on the lunar surface! Please! I don’t want to go back!” Twilight struggled as some invisible force was pulling at Luna’s tail. She felt her grip on the statue slip and the two ponies edged further into the rift.
“I’ve got you! I’ve got you!” Twilight’s legs felt as though they were going to be torn off. Wind rushed up around her and bits of dust and pebbles nipped at her cheeks. “It’s going to be ok!”
“Please! I can’t go back! I can’t go back!” Luna’s leg slipped slightly as a small pebble hit her eye. “I won’t go back! Twilight! Help me, Twilight! Don’t let go!”
“I won’t let go! I’m here!” One of Twilight’s hind legs slipped and she fell forward past the shining light of the runic circle. She now was in danger of flying out with Luna as well.
“Twilight!” Luna screamed.
“It’s ok! My leg is caught on something! I’ve still got you!”
Luna gasped, “Sister! Tia, please help me!”
Twilight strained her neck to look back up through the rift. Princess Celestia was staring down at the two ponies with a scowl of hatred on her face. Twilight had never before seen such anger in her mentor’s eyes. Fire burned in them, a fire more intense than the breath of a Dragon. “Princess! Help us! I can’t hold on much longer!”
“Little Lulu.” Celestia's voice rang with malice. “You have broken the code of the Alicorns. And for that you shall be punished. From this moment on, the sun hath forsaken thee.” Celestia’s raised her hoof overtop of Twilight.
“Please sister, give me a second chance!”
“I already gave you a second chance. And you are never returning.” Celestia smirked.
Luna screamed. Celestia’s hoof came down on Twilight’s spine and the Unicorn’s leg slipped from the statue. Twilight and Luna fell into the rift. For a moment there was tranquility as they passed through the rift and entered the cold embrace of space. In some twisted way, the moon had a lonely beauty as they floated. Twilight looked back at Luna. “Don’t let go!” The Alicorn screamed. Then Twilight felt a large claw wrap around her body. The bright yellow claw of a Griffin arm pulled her slowly back into the rift. Her grip on Luna failed and the Alicorn was flung away.
Luna yelled as the void of space consumed her, “Twiliiiiiii…!”
Discord laughed, “Sometimes… you can’t have it all.”