Veil of Thoughts
Chapter 1Eno retpahC
The dream was over. Twilight had watched it be over. She had watched Applejack vanish and felt the end come but she hadn’t woken up. Instead, she had faded away, into the darkness.
Twilight could feel herself falling… No. That wasn’t right. She didn’t have a word for it. What did you call it when you stayed absolutely still yet moved away? Maybe falling was close enough.
There was something else, somepony else, falling with her. Even though Twilight couldn’t see the other pony, she felt it was there. No. That wasn’t right either. Felt was the wrong word. It was more like she sensed the other pony, more like she knew that there had to be another pony. She also knew that other pony shouldn’t be here with her.
Reaching out with her… whatever they were — she couldn’t think of the name — Twilight gently pushed against the other pony. The other pony didn’t seem to want to move but Twilight pushed with all her strength. Not with her – whatever they were — but with something else, with something she might once have called ‘magic’ but that word wasn’t right either.
The other pony began to slow. She was doing it. She was pushing the other pony back, back to where it belonged.
Twilight felt a coldness press against her back and she shivered at its touch. She could see it. She could see the coldness, the feeling, the sensation; it had form and shape. She could see it through some twisted kind of sight. Twilight could see the edge of nothingness.
The boundary of existence had no color. Against this vast nothing, the blackness all around Twilight might have been the brightest white by comparison.
The icy cold crawled over Twilight. She was pressed against the divide yet she had not gone beyond the edge. The other pony, the one she could not see, could not feel, but knew was there, did not stop. The other pony tried to continue through, its hooves slipping from the darkness and passing into the nothing below. Twilight held like a barrier, keeping the other pony mere hooves away from nonexistence.
They were stuck there; moving neither towards the blackness above nor the nothingness below.
Tentatively, Twilight pushed at the pony she was holding. It moved slightly further away, but as it did, Twilight began to sink into the nothingness. If she could have screamed, she would have. She could not comprehend the feeling. It wasn’t pain, it was something worse, something terrible. It was like her very essence was being torn apart.
Twilight pushed again, with more force this time. The nothingness tore at her, latching onto her soul and digging into her thoughts, but Twilight did not stop. She pushed harder. Everything she had was focused into pushing the other pony back.
And suddenly, the other pony was free. Twilight could sense it in the same strange way that she could feel it. The other pony was racing away from her, sailing up through the darkness… flying… flying away…
If she could have smiled, Twilight would have but the nothing took her and she had nothing to smile with.
Dash felt herself rising upwards. It was like flying… No. That wasn’t right. Flying was the wrong word for it yet she could think of no other word. Perhaps flying was close enough? Yes, she was flying, even if she couldn’t feel her wings.
She couldn’t comprehend what had just happened to her. She had been at peace with herself. Her eyes closed against the darkness; against the end. Everything had just stopped and she had started to fall.
Fluttershy may have delayed it but it had still come. Dash had felt it come, felt the nothingness embrace her and take her with it, dragging her down towards the inevitable.
She had not been afraid. She was ready to accept it, so that Twilight could go back to how she was. Except, right at the edge, right where there wasn’t anything anymore, she had stopped. Something… No, somepony, had stopped her, had held her back.
They had lingered there for a long time and then as quickly as it had come, the feeling of not being anything receded. Dash almost felt like she had been shoved back, pushed away from death.
The tiniest glow of light glinted in front of her and Dash held up a hoof to her eyes to shield them against it. Even as small and distant as it was she could feel its warmth calling her back, beckoning her to return to it.
Not that she felt that she had any choice. Her path seemed to be set. She felt like a cork, shooting up through a deep ocean, destined to rise to the surface with little control.
As Dash got closer to the glowing light, she became aware that she was not alone in the darkness. There was a pony right beside her, sailing upwards towards the light as well. Dash turned her head and saw the shadowy outline of the pony. It was another pegasus, its wings flapped gently in a slow rhythmic beat. It was either further away than Dash had thought, or was smaller than she assumed.
“Fluttershy?” whispered Dash. The pony turned its face towards Dash and she felt a bolt of shock run through her body as she saw its eyes. Those eyes! Those were her eyes! The same color, the same shape.
“No,” answered the pony beside her. The light shifted across the pony’s body, revealing a coat of powder blue and a mane of rainbow colors. She was not a full grown pony, she was a filly. More precisely she was how Dash had looked when she was a filly, even the cutie mark was missing.
“You!” cried Dash, pointing an accusing hoof at the filly.
“Us actually,” said a voice from her other side. Dash turned her head so fast that she actually spun in the air. A small lavender unicorn was flying alongside so that she was flanked by the fillies.
“Sparkle,” whispered Dash. “What are you two doing here?”
“We are here for you,” said Rainbow. As she spoke she began to move in the air, they both did. Like some strange flying formation, they circled around Dash, orbiting her as if she were a planet. “We are here, to give you back what you’ve lost, so that you can go on.”
“To give me… what?” asked Dash in confusion, her head turning as far as it would go as she tried to keep track of the filly.
Above, the tiny point of light had become massive. It was as large as the sun now, filling most of the sky. Its brightness washed over them, yet it did not blind them. However, Dash was too busy to concern herself with it now.
“We were divided before,” said Sparkle, coming into view. “Half in one place, half in another. We were not really sure where either of us belonged.”
“You gave me to Twilight,” said Rainbow as she floated past, “because I was too painful to keep. You wanted her to protect and remember me… once you were gone.” Dash looked away.
“Twilight gave me to you,” said Sparkle, “because she didn’t want to lose you. She wanted you to have me so that you could always stay, even if she couldn’t remain.”
“Now that it’s just you,” said Rainbow, once more in front of Dash. “We can be whole again. You can be whole again.”
The fillies began to glow, just as bright as the light overhead, which now filled the entire sky. Their slow orbit began to increase in speed and the fillies became little more than whirling orbs of light as they spun around Dash.
“Hey! What are you doing!” shouted Dash. She felt strange. She could feel the essence of each filly starting to pour into her. Memories were flooding back into her mind. Life was flowing back into her body. “Stop! Please stop! I don’t want this! I want Twilight! I want…”
All at once everything collided with Dash. Both fillies slammed into her as she crashed into the glowing white sky and was forced back into life.
A new sensation enveloped Twilight. Not falling, floating? Sinking maybe? Twilight wondered if this was what it was like not to exist. If it was, it really didn’t feel that much different. Her thoughts seemed a little slower, it was hard to focus and hard to think. However, those things were still there, she could still think.
Did she have more than thought? Was there anything more than thought? Twilight tried to remember what else she should have, what else there could be for her to have. What she wouldn’t give for a checklist.
What else, thought Twilight to herself, what else should I have! There was no answer.
Twilight tried to reason out what else there should be. She tried to draw inspiration from her surroundings. Yet everything around her was filled with nothing. Not darkness, not emptiness, just colorless nothing.
Shouldn’t there be something?, thought Twilight. Shouldn’t I see something?
As she thought it Twilight realized what she was missing, what else she should have, sight. She knew it, within whatever was herself. Her eyes opened to the darkness, washing away the nothing that had been a moment ago.
She was surrounded in darkness once more, yet this darkness was different somehow. She couldn’t explain it, after all, darkness was darkness, yet this was just… different. She still couldn’t see anything but she knew it was there, knew she was seeing it.
However the darkness did not stay black for long. Tiny pin pricks of light winked into existence. There was only one or two at first, but soon the blackness was filled with them. There were millions of them, billions of them, more than she could ever count. They were in every direction, close yet impossibly far away.
“Stars,” whispered Twilight softly. She had a voice. As she had spoken aloud she had realized she had a voice.
Her eyes looked down and Twilight knew that she had eyes. What else did she have? She lifted her foreleg and watched as her hoof materialized before her eyes. It was connected to something, to a body, she had a body. She glanced over herself. It was all there, just as she expected it to be. A lavender coat, her purple mane, four legs and the unicorn horn atop her head.
No. That was wrong. She shouldn’t be able to see all that.
Her perspective changed. She was inside her body, floating in the darkness, surrounded by shining stars. She didn’t know if she had everything she should have, but this felt like it was enough for now.
Twilight’s attention shifted from her internal focus to the strangeness around her. She didn’t recognize this place. It was quietly beautiful and strangely haunting. She felt like all the stars were watching her, waiting for her to do something.
Distantly Twilight felt like she knew this place but she didn’t have a name for it.
A streak of light raced past overhead. It was completely silent as it moved. It had a long streaming tail of light that slowly evaporated as it soared across the sky. Twilight watched it for a long time until she lost sight of it in the field of distant stars.
However, she didn’t have to wait long before another and still another shot past. The sky was not full of them, not like it was full of stars, but there were still many. Twilight wondered what they might be.
Suddenly, Twilight felt herself move. She could not say how she moved. She did not have wings, her hooves did not touch the ground, for there was no ground. In truth, it didn’t even feel like she was moving, yet she moved.
Around her, tiny glints of light began to spark into existence. Twilight glanced back to find a long tail of stardust streaming out behind her. To somepony else, she supposed that she looked like a shooting star, just like the ones she had seen only moments ago.
Faster and faster she raced towards the distant stars, having no idea where she was headed. Her eyes searched the stars in front of her looking for some clue of a destination. There were so many stars, more than she could ever properly see in an endless life time. Each glinted and sparkled like a tiny gem as her eyes swept across them.
Her eyes kept being drawn towards one spot, no matter where she looked. At first she wasn’t sure what was different about the small group of stars. They seemed to be just regular stars, like all the others in the sky. They were special in their own way, but no different than the rest. Yet they were different. The way they were grouped, the way they twinkled. She knew those six stars. That was what she needed, that was where she needed to be.
They were growing stronger, pulsing with light, beckoning her on. She reached out her forelegs, trying to grab the impossibly far off points of light like a little foal. They twinkled at her, out of reach.
Some of the other stars in the sky raced past her. Twilight caught glimpses of them and was surprised by what she saw. Up close, they weren’t stars at all. They were… cutie marks. That one had been of an hour glass. And that one over there was some bubbles. And still, the one that narrowly missed her head, was a rainbow like wave of colors. But they were different somehow. The cutie marks weren’t static as they normally appeared, they moved and glowed with a strong inner warmth, all but the rainbow wave of colors, which was dull and lifeless.
Now there were hundreds of cutie marks shooting past her, so many that she could hardly even make them out. Some were vibrant and bright, others dull and faded. She knew some of them, had seen them on other ponies. Many more she did not know or had never seen. There were so many of them!
Twilight looked back to the group of six stars. They were much brighter now and much larger. The star at the center had grown the largest of the group. It was brighter than the others too. Its color had changed from glinting white to pulsing purple. She recognized the constellation, she knew the symbol, it was her own cutie mark.
She got even closer still. The five small stars around the larger purple one began to change, their glinting white exterior becoming more defined until Twilight could make out each in turn. Three apples, three butterflies, three diamonds, three balloons and a cloud with a rainbow lighting bolt. Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, Pinkie Pie… Rainbow Dash, those were their cutie marks. Each one glowed brightly, radiating warmth and moving with life.
Each of the marks grew larger in her vision until all of the sky before her was filled with only the six cutie marks, all of the other stars were invisible against their brightness. Then even the whole sky was not large enough for them. If Twilight turned her head she could look at each one in turn, but she could no longer see them all at the same time.
Twilight focused her attention back to the purple star at the heart of the constellation, wondering what it had changed into. Her eyes widened as she saw it. Twilight was all too familiar with what had appeared before her. It was the library tree that she called home.
With a gentle thud of hooves, Twilight landed on the side of the house, so that it was like a floor beneath her. The stardust trail washed down around her, cascading away like tiny diamonds.
Twilight glanced around. There were no dirt roads around her, no Ponyville, just the house floating in blackness and her atop it. The infinite number of cutie marks hovered above her, pretending to be stars once more and watching her, while streaks of light raced across the sky towards their own stars.
She pulled her gaze down from the sky and found that she was standing on the library door. Her eyes widened slightly at this realization. This door, this door was for her. Unlike every other time she had encountered it, this was her door.
With the gentlest of movements she tapped on the wood. The door opened, swinging inwards. Brilliant white light poured out of the house. It was blindingly bright, Twilight couldn’t see anything beyond it as she hovered in front of the glowing entryway.
But she didn’t need to see where it led, she knew. She knew this was it, this was where she was meant to go. Putting her hoof into the light Twilight felt warmth run up her leg. Taking one last deep breath she plunged into the unknown and vanished. The door closed silently behind her. The warmth around the library tree faded away and it turned dull and lifeless.