A fan-fiction author and computer programmer that lives in Pasadena. ======> TIp Jar <======
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The latch clicked, the well oiled hinges offering not a single sound as the door swung open. Twilight, Dash, and Fluttershy stepped forward, the lights from their headlamps moving about the room as they took in the scene. Celestia’s private quarters, a regal bedroom just as beautiful as one could imagine. The huge, four post bed was a siren calling out to the three exhausted ponies, but they couldn’t rest. It wasn’t safe to rest right now.
Twilight felt a pang of guilt as she and her friends began to search the room. They opened drawers, searched Celestia’s desk, dumping everything and anything out onto the floor unceremoniously. Though, Celestia would probably find the ransacking of her room a fair price to pay when Twilight and her friends finally managed to turn back the darkness.
The desk had offered nothing but quills, bottles of ink, some government papers and blank pages. The small bookshelf had held just that, books, and the dresser draw in the room had played home to a number of different regal garments, horseshoes, and necklaces... some Twilight had seen the princess wear on certain occasions while others that looked like they hadn’t been used in years.
Still, they found nothing that stood out as the answer. No spell book that gave the miracle spell to turn back the darkness. No great and powerful weapon or tool. Nothing.
“So, is this it... we came all this way and there’s nothing here.” Dash growled. Twilight could tell; the pegasus’ patience with the situation was running thin, just like her own.
“Maybe there was another clue in the song.” Fluttershy offered.
“There was only one line. Find the strength for the fight where the sun rests at night. The next line starts talking about the lake. No, the answer has to be in this room.” Twilight said, setting down a firm hoof.
“Well, where haven’t we looked? I mean, we checked the desk, the dresser, the bookcase...”
“What about the bed?”
Twilight and Dash blinked, glancing first at Fluttershy and then the bed. In truth, they had ignored the bed, but it made a bit of sense. The bedroom was where Celestia rested at night, but more specifically she rested on the bed.
The trio began to work at the bed. They tossed the pillows off first, wondering if Celestia had maybe tucked something beneath them. Then they went after the blanket, the sheets, tossing it all to the car corner of the room until they were down to the mattress. Twilight even levitated that away too, leaving only the wooden frame.
That’s when they saw it, hidden in the headboard of the bed. A small wooden door, a hidden compartment. Twilight felt her heart starting to race, wondering what could be contained within. She swallowed nervously, lighting her horn. It took a bit of fiddling, but the lock on the small door finally clicked opened. The door swung open under the gentle guidance of Twilight’s magic, that arcane energy spreading to the contents of the secret compartment.
A trio of items floated in front of the three mares, cradled gently by the Twilight’s levitation spell. One was a book, a hoof written diary. The last two items were a pair of necklaces. One silver with a moon pendant, the other gold with a sun pendant.
“So... what... are those like some super, magical... things that can kick the darkness to the curb?” Dash asked, obviously expecting the sun’s strength to be something... more.
Twilight didn’t answer immediately, skimming through the pages of the journal. The dates on the pages were from back before Celestia and Luna became the princesses of Equestria, back when there was a single queen. Few ponies realized that the sun and moon weren’t created by Celestia and Luna, that they were in fact made by Equestria’s one and only queen, who left the land over a thousand years ago. Luna had been the one to fill the night with stars, to create the beauty of the night, but the heavily bodies of the sun and moon were themselves gifts the princesses had inherited.
The unicorn shut her eyes, her horn flashing a bit bright for just a moment. The flash came from a locater spell, something she had found in the library one day and quickly grew to love. It was a spell that could search a book for certain words. The words the spell was to find were strength and pendent, and those two words only occurred together on a single page. Twilight, Dash, and Fluttershy all leaned in, reading the diary entry.
Celestia and I were out playing in the forest last night it when it got late. Big sister tried to get me to come back but I was having so much fun I didn’t want to. Then the sun set, and it got dark. There wasn’t any moon last night, so it was really, really dark.
Celestia and I tried to find our way back to the castle, but we got lost. The forest is so scary when it’s dark. Celestia won’t admit it, but she hates the dark. I don’t mind the dark as long as I can kind of see, but it was really, really dark last night. We both started to get really scared.
I felt so bad. It was because of me we didn’t back to the castle before sunset. Celestia started to cry, but I guess that was a good thing. Mom found us quickly when she heard Celestia crying. She had been so worried about us she didn’t yell at us or anything.
Until this morning. She was mad at us this morning. Celestia and I are grounded for a month.
Celestia and I been having nightmares since Mom had to come rescue us from the forest. Mom just told us they were just nightmares, but a few nights ago she started to look worried.
But tonight Mom brought us some presents, two necklaces. They’re so beautiful. She told us that they’re special, magical necklaces. She said when we’re both asleep at night, and if we start to have a nightmare, we can use the necklaces to find each other in our dreams. That way, we can face the scary dreams together. That we’d have the strength to be brave together.
Celestia says it's silly, but I saw her put the necklace on once Mom left. I put mine on too. Hopefully, if I have a nightmare, big sister will be able to protect me.
The necklaces worked. I started having a nightmare last night, but before it got too scary my necklace in the dream started to glow. The light from it pointed into the darkness, and when I followed it I found Celestia. The darkness just seemed to go away when we were together.
Mom was really happy when we told her too. She said that we never had to fear the darkness again as long as sister and I stuck together.
Twilight’s eyes moved from the page to the pendants hanging in front of her. This was what was supposed to help them face the darkness? These little necklaces that had belonged to the princesses in their youth?
Yet, the necklaces had been a gift from the Queen; they likely held some power greater than portrayed by their small size. That, however, wasn’t what worried Twilight. What worried Twilight was the journal offered no information on how the necklaces could be used against the darkness that currently threatened them and all of Equestria. They were made so the princesses could find each other during a nightmare, but how could two little necklaces stand up against the full force of an actual darkness? How could the little trinkets possibly help them face the darkness Nightmare Moon commanded?
Dash seemed to share at Twilight’s disbelief, and was venting it in anger. She stormed away, jumping and kicking at the books and other things that lay scattered about the room. “What are we supposed to do with those?!” Dash grunted, sending a book flying against the far wall. “I bet I could break them just by stepping on them! How are they supposed to do anything?”
“I don’t know.” Twilight replied, turning the necklaces over in the air. “But, this has to be what the song was talking about... even if they do seem a little flimsy.”
“I think they’re pretty.” Fluttershy offered.
“Oh, well, isn’t that something? Maybe we can bribe the darkness to free Equestria by giving it the pretty necklaces.” Dash chirped with sarcastic enthusiasm before kicking at another books.
“Oh... um... well... I didn’t mean...”
“Dash!” Twilight scolded, glaring at the pegasus before turning to Fluttershy with a much softer gaze. “She didn’t mean it.”
“No, it’s... it’s okay. I know that... well, them being pretty doesn’t really help.”
“Here, why don’t you wear one of them? Keep it safe.” Twilight offered. Her magic undid the clasp on the sun pendant's chain, looping it around Fluttershy’s neck before re-securing it. The necklace was a good fit, gently hanging right at the crest of Fluttershy’s neck.
“Oh, Twilight... really, maybe you should let Dash-”
“What are you talking about? You’ve done such a good job taking care of AJ’s hat. I’m sure you can take care of a necklace.”
“What about the moon necklace?”
“I’ll wear it.” Twilight replied, using her magic to bring the chain about her neck. “We’ll keep them safe together.”
This brought a smile to Fluttershy’s face, the first smile in several hours. Dash opened her mouth to provide another snarky comment, but both Dash’s mouth and Fluttershy’s smile were abruptly interrupted. A tremor shook the castle, a voice calling out from every dark corner of the room.
“You can’t save them. You’ll never be able to save them. I won’t let you near them.”
At that a loud crash came from the bedroom door, a Taken soldier knocking the door off its hinges. The thick wooden barricade crashed to the floor, making all three mares jump from the sudden entrance.
Twilight, however, reacted quickly, drawing out one of the last fireworks. Her horn lit the fuse as she used her levitation magic, grabbing hold the unhinged door and using it to push the Taken soldier out of the room. She then threw the door clear and unleashed the firework. It screeched into the hall, striking and bursting against the soldier, who was burnt away by the particularly powerful explosion.
Still, despite the sudden scare, Twilight was smiling... smiling wide. A smile that had both Dash and Fluttershy scared.
“Twilight, please tell me you didn’t just crack?”
“No, Dash, I’m fine... better than fine.”
“It’s Nightmare Moon; she’s scared. She’s scared because we have these necklaces. I don’t know how, but something about these necklaces can let us stop her.”
Dash began to smile herself. “Yea... she did sound pretty scared there, didn’t she?”
Twilight nodded. “She did, and if she’s scared of these then that means the song from the Old Gods was telling the truth. We have the strength to beat Nightmare Moon and the darkness, now all we need to do is get to the lake.”
“But Nightmare Moon won’t let us just go back down the way we came. She’s probably got the castle entrance blocked by now.”
“There’s more than one way out of the castle.” Twilight said, sprinting out into the hallway. Fluttershy and Dash followed, flying after the unicorn as she galloped down the hall. A few careful turns and a few minutes of running, and the trio were once again outside in the night air.
Twilight found herself standing where the horrors had begun: the balcony where Celestia had made the sun set and Luna made the moon rise. It was hard to believe that hadn’t even been a full day since that happened. Twilight felt like she had lived through a week or longer.
Yet they had made it, they were there... and for the first time Twilight felt they really had a chance of defeating the darkness.
Yet, the darkness was not ready to submit. The weather outside turned violent quickly, the wind whipping at the ponies’ ears. The lake below tossed and turned, a funnel of water starting to rise up. It was another shadow tornado, this one as large as Lakeshore castle and three times as violent as the last.
“Are you sure we have to dive into that lake?” Dash asked.
“And we don’t know what we’re going to find down there, are we?”
“Twilight, if we save Alan, remind me again how hard I need to kick his flank for putting us through all this.”
Twilight smiled a little. “Don’t worry, I will.”
“YOU’LL NEVER SEE ANY OF THEM AGAIN!!!” The darkness wailed, sounding less and less like Nightmare Moon and more and more like something else... the deep rumbling mixed into the voice sending a chill down Twilight’s spine.
The tornado of shadows shifted, bending and twisting. As it did, a massive column of ravens took flight, beginning to circle the lake. Their shadowed, feathered bodies began to form a barrier, a wall of flapping wings and sharp claws to keep Twilight and her friends from the lake.
“How... how are we supposed to get through that?” Fluttershy asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t have enough fireworks left for all those birds.”
“You two just worry about getting into the lake. I’ll keep the birds off your back.” Dash said, the pegasus hopping into the air.
“Hey, I’ll be right behind you. Not even a million birds can out fly the best young flier in Equestria. Fluttershy, think you can carry Twilight to the water?”
“Uh... maybe... I won’t be able to go very fast.”
“Just worry about getting there. Twilight, use the fireworks to try and clear a path. I’ll keep the birds off you as best I can. Just keep yourselves safe. You two have those necklaces, and that’s what can beat the darkness.”
“Rainbow Dash, no! You don’t realize-”
“Yes, I do, Twilight, and don’t tell me there is another way. Even if I carried you Fluttershy couldn’t keep the birds away. This is our only option.”
Twilight bit back one final plea, brushing away some tears from her eyes. She knew Dash was right... her mind clicking back to what Alan said. He wasn’t writing a story anymore, but the events he started in motion with his writing had been shaped as a horror story. Twilight had read horror stories... and she knew Dash was right. There was only one way she and Fluttershy would reach the lake. Only one hope of stopping the darkness... because there is only ever one hope in a horror story.
“Okay Dash, but as soon as Fluttershy and I hit the water I want you to get someplace safe. The lights are probably still on at the record store. If you can, try to get back there.”
“Got it.” The pegasus said with a firm nod. With that Twilight glanced over at Fluttershy, the yellow pegasus also nodding. She fluttered into the air, pinching Twilight between her hooves so that she could carry the unicorn. It took some struggling, but Fluttershy managed to get Twilight off the ground, the unicorn trying to help her friend by reducing her weight with a levitation spell.
At the same time Twilight took out all the fireworks she had left, a set of approximately a dozen fireworks... but they were big fireworks, the kind of show stoppers that were saved for the climax of a pyrotechnic display. One of them was about the size of Twilight’s head even, the label on the side reading, “Celestia’s Fury”.
Dash took the lead, the pegasus swooping down off the balcony as Fluttershy followed. The swarm of ravens, which had to number in the thousands if not tens of thousands, shifted. Streams of the black, shadowed birds began to fly at the three mares, but Twilight had already lit the first few fuses.
The fireworks screeched out, flying within inches of Rainbow Dash before hitting and exploding inside the ravens. The screeching of the birds joined the echos of the explosion, their bodies turning to shadows and quickly burning away. Still, it was only a small number of the huge army of ravens, which were already continuing the assault.
What few birds survived the bombardment of fireworks met up with Dash, the pegasus spinning and kicking in the air. Hitting the birds hurt, burned a bit, but Dash ignored the pain as she made sure Fluttershy and Twilight stayed safe.
They were reaching the barrier of birds, Twilight lighting the largest firework. Still, one raven made it past Dash, the bird crashing into Twilight’s face. Thanks to the unicorn’s headlamp the bird was burned away quickly, but it had been enough. The last firework slipped free of Twilight’s levitation, falling towards the beach below.
Twilight’s sudden cry made Dash glance back, the pegasus seeing the falling firework. Performing a maneuver that would have made the Wonderbolts proud, Dash turned hard, going into a dive as she chased the firework.
The air at Dash’s hooves began to condense and build, the pegasus’ eyes watering as she pushed herself to catch the firework. It was within feet of hitting the ground when Dash nabbed it, pulling an abrupt turn.
The rescue was punctuated with a single, cascading boom as Dash shot back up towards the swarm of birds, her tail and mane forming a rainbow behind her. Below, just above the lake, a cascading ripple of rainbow color spread out, glowing in the night. For the third time in her life, Dash had performed a sonic rainboom.
Dash took as best aim as she could as the rocket began to ignite in her grip. It burned her a bit, but with Dash’s aim the “Celestia’s Fury” firework shot straight for the cloud of ravens. It struck home, bursting into the largest firework explosion Twilight had ever seen. The radiant golden colors spread out, waving spikes taking shape as the firework’s light cut a huge hole in the wall of ravens. The end result, a sparkling reproduction of Celestia's cutie mark, a regal sun, shown brightly in the night, shining like the true sun for a few brief moments before the burning powders that fueled the fireworks were used up.
“YEAH!!!” Dash called as she continued to fly skyward, blasting past Fluttershy and Twilight as she arched in the air, the brightly colored rainbow she was forming standing out like a beacon of hope in the night. Twilight and FLuttershy couldn’t help but cheer, their eyes fixed on the rainbow.
It was a bad place to have their attention focused, because while a huge hole had been punched in the flock of ravens others still remained and they dive bombed at the pair. Using their bodies like missiles the ravens through themselves at Fluttershy, and after a few hit the pegasus she her wings faltered.
Fluttershy lost her grip on Twilight, the pair separating as they fell to the lake. A pair of splashes punctuated there landing. Dash, hearing the splashes, chanced a look back, expecting to see her friends come up for air. Twilight and Fluttershy, however, didn’t come back to the surface even after several long seconds.
“They will never find each other in the dark.” he twisted voice of Nightmare Moon called out from the still raging shadow tornado in triumph. “Equestria is mine!”
All the remaining ravens turned their attention on Rainbow Dash as the twister itself began to move in on her. The pegasus was still riding the speed boost of breaking the sound barrier, but as she bobbed and turned to avoid the ravens they began to box her in.
Dash kept her eyes on the lake below, hoping... wishing that her friend would surface. But she didn’t see anything. She circled and swooped, even as the ravens began throwing themselves in the pegasus’ path. Still, Twilight and Fluttershy never surfaced.
“How could you hope to save Equestria or your friends when you can’t even save yourself?” Nightmare Moon taunted. “You shall all be consumed by my darkness.”
Dash looked about, the ravens surrounding her on all sides and the shadowed tornado drawing closer. She didn’t know what happened to Twilight and Fluttershy; the worst fear Dash had was that they had drowned. Still... at the moment Dash knew that no matter what had happened to her friends she wasn’t going to get back to the record store. The darkness had her surrounded; she wouldn’t be able to keep herself safe the entire flight back to Emblem.
So Dash made a decision. The next best thing she could if she wasn’t able to escape. To go down fighting. To kick Nightmare Moon in the flank, which at the moment meant directly attacking the huge, shadow tornado.
Spreading her wings, Dash slowed herself down to just below the speed of sound, making a hard turn as she flew straight at the shadowed tornado. Dash smiled, feeling the friction of the air as she once again came close to breaking the sound barrier.
“This is for my friends.” The pegasus whispered to herself as she flapped her wings with the last bit of strength she could muster. The pegasus dove into the black tornado, and just as she was enveloped by the darkness the sound barrier snapped, another cascading rainboom cutting through the night air.
The brightly glowing colors tore at the tornado, making it break apart and disappear as Nightmare Moon wailed in pain. Dash heard the scream, and in her last moments smiled at the blow she had managed to land against the darkness.
The ripple of the rainboom spread out further and further, slowly dissipating into the night, but there was no rainbow shooting out from the rainboom itself. No trail of colors that would have trailed behind Dash as she flew. The light from the rainboom had been strong, but the darkness Dash had dove into was deep. Deep enough that it was able to envelope her before the light burnt it all away.
The shadowed ravens began to spread out into the air, their enemies now gone from the night wrapped world of Equestria. The scene grew peaceful again as well as dark. The stars themselves seemed to be blinking out, the moon losing its luminescence. One would have expected to hear Nightmare Moon’s laugh on the wind, her victory assured. Yet, the darkness deepened in silence, as if the one guiding had become stone cold and heartless.
As the world grew darker and darker, a single shape floated gently on the water, getting carried towards the shore. It brushed up onto the sand, getting drawn back out into the water by the next wave before being thrown far enough up onto the lake shore that it would remain still.
Applejack’s cowpony hat, wet and alone, sat in the sand of the lake shore, the only thing left behind by the six friends who had first come to the peaceful Wintergreen Forest. It sat, the lake water splashing at it gently as the world faded, and was consumed by solid darkness.