"It's a shame, you always used to prepare yourself so well when you had an audience with the princesses," Rainbow Dash said. "They let you stay in the castle, and this is how you repay them?"
Twilight looked at her through the mirror, refusing to turn around. Her eyes were bloodshot, her mane was disastrously unkempt, and her teeth had been ground into painful stubs. Laying next to her on the vanity was a copy of the latest Daring Do novel, an unused hairbrush, and a pair of scissors.
"Why are you here...?" she asked bitterly.
"That's a really good question Twilight," the pegasus began, circling the unicorn with a mocking grin. "Why am I here?"
With a scream that had been long repressed, the lavender mare picked up the book in her mouth and threw it at the mirror, shattering it.
In her life, Twilight Sparkle had experienced many emotions. Many of them positive, and many of them negative. But, for the first time in her entire existence, she was feeling the most powerful and pure emotion she had ever imagined possible.
Hatred. Cold, unforgiving hatred.
It was a thing that didn't come easily, a terrible fate bestowed upon anyone and everyone she directed this hatred at. A twist of the knife that was already lodged into her victim from the guilt of the heinous crime he or she must have committed to awaken such fury from the lavender mare.
"What do you mean back order?" Twilight asked, growing increasingly unstable by the second. "You said that the new Daring Do book would be in by today! I have a customer that has been patiently waiting for it..."
She had to admit to herself, 'patiently' was a bit of an exaggeration on Twilight's part. She knew that Rainbow Dash meant well, but knocking on her door every morning at six sharp to see if it had arrived early was more than a little excessive. Not that she could complain, it was an effective method in making sure that Spike woke up on time and kept to a regular schedule.
That being known, Twilight couldn't help but be helplessly frustrated at having to disappoint one of her friends. Rainbow had been waiting on this novel for weeks, and she could predict the imminent rage that would engulf the pegasus when she delivered the bad news.
"My apologies miss," offered a scrawny mail colt. "But that's what the company told me when I went to pick it up. They said it should be here within a few days."
Twilight sighed, defeated. As if she didn't have enough problems of her own to worry about, now she had to add 'stressing out a friend' to her list. It was relatively early, so perhaps the unicorn had time to prepare some tea before Rainbow arrived, with hopes of softening the blow.
"I'll see you then, I guess," she said insincerely before closing her door on the undeserving target of her anger.
Well, she thought as she began to make her way up the stairs and into her room. I suppose he deserves a 'sorry' for all of that nonsense.
Twilight focused on her door knob as it was enveloped by a dark pink aura, opening to reveal a quiet, but nonetheless chaotic-looking bedroom. The mare took a quick look at her quarters, a soft grunt escaping her as she reviewed her haphazardly positioned bedsheets and covers, which were lying at odd angles between her mattress and the floor.
She walked over to Spike's basket, lightly prodding him with her hoof.
"Wake up, sleepy head."
"Wha- oh," he started, quickly glancing around the room as he was risen from his slumber. Content that whatever fears he had weren't realized, he turned to his offender with a frown. "What's the deal Twilight? Do you have any idea what time it is?"
Twilight knelt down to rustle her assistant's spikes. "Do you?" she taunted playfully.
Spike considered the question for a moment. "No," he finally answered. "But what's so important that I need to get up when it's completely dark out?"
"Rainbow Dash's book is on back order," she said gravely.
The dragon gave Twilight an incredulous look, but once the reality of the situation hit him, his eyes widened. "Mother of Celestia..." he began, a sense of dread overtaking his features. "I'll start storm-proofing the library."
Twilight smiled, somewhat relieved that Spike wasn't mad enough at her to be utterly humorless. "I don't think that will be necessary," she mused, rising up from her crouched stance. "Just put on a pot of tea for us, please. I think Rainbow should be here around six, so that gives you plenty of time."
Six came and went. So did seven. And eight. And nine.
Now almost noon, Twilight's tea had long been cold, and she couldn't help but wonder why the pegasus who had been so eager to claim her next edition in the series was nowhere to be seen on the date of its supposed arrival.
Just as she was about to give up hope and go into town, Twilight heard a soft rapping on the door. "Come in Fluttershy," she called, expecting the unusually pathetic knock to belong to the yellow pegasus.
"Uh, it's me," corrected a raspy voice. "I'm welcome too, right?"
Twilight's ears perked up. "Rainbow Dash?" Twilight asked in surprise as she jumped up to answer the door in person, pushing it open with a hoof. "Where have you been?"
As the door opened completely, Twilight was taken aback by the sight. Her friend's mane was even more disheveled than usual, and her eyes were bloodshot. Choosing to respect her Rainbow's privacy, she simply stepped aside silently and allowed the cyan mare to enter.
"I made some tea for us," Twilight said, hoping to break the social wall that had formed between them in the brief minute of awkwardness. "Though, it's probably co-"
"You're wondering about why I look like a wreck, right?" Rainbow interrupted bitterly. Her voice was cold, uncaring, and Twilight didn't like it one bit.
But it wasn't her place to act on that notion. "A little bit, yes. What happened to you?"
"Was just up late working," she responded halfheartedly, leaving Twilight partially unconvinced of the statement's truth. "How are you?"
"Fine," answered the unicorn. That was new. In the entire month Rainbow had been coming to the library, she had no interest in her friend's well-being, only that of the book she was waiting on.
Confused, Twilight decided to inquire her on it. "Are you here for your book?"
Rainbow Dash bit her lip. "Yes," she answered unenthusiastically. "I'm guessing it came in this morning?"
This was it. Rainbow was going to be furious, and there was nothing Twilight could do to calm her down. After all of her days waiting, the pegasus was going to be let down. The lavender mare cringed, knowing exactly what response would come of her bad news.
"N-no, it's on back order." she forced out, bracing herself for the oncoming torrent of rage.
But it never came. "Oh," Rainbow replied without any noticeable change in mood. "That's a shame."
Twilight completely froze. This was unlike her friend. No, this was the polar opposite of Rainbow Dash, the hot headed action-craving daredevil and self-proclaimed best flier in Equestria. Her behavior made no sense, and the only response Twilight could muster was slowly opening and closing her mouth.
"So," Rainbow Dash said, snapping the unicorn back into reality. "You said you made tea? May I have some?"
"Uhm, of course," Twilight said, unsure of what exactly was going on. "Make yourself at home."
As Rainbow clambered onto a nearby couch, Twilight trotted briskly into the kitchen where she was met with Spike's curious eye. "How'd she take it?" he asked cautiously, expecting the worst.
Twilight flipped the kettle burner on while she thought over just how to answer that. "She... didn't care."
Spike raised an eyebrow. "What?"
Twilight looked back into the living room, watching Rainbow Dash as she sat peacefully on the sofa. "Rainbow was completely fine with it. She seemed so... indifferent."
"Do you think she's okay?" asked Spike, a hint of concern dripping from his voice.
The unicorn dismissed it entirely. "Of course she is, she's just tired from working all night."
The dragon seemed content with that answer until a stray thought struck him. "Working? But there isn't a cloud in the sky, there hasn't been for days."
He was right. There had been absolutely no weather work all week, and Twilight had even heard from Cloud Kicker how nice it was to have some time off. Twilight had been ordering Rainbow's book at the post office, and Cloud Kicker had been talking to one of the employees. She remembered it being a gray pegasus, but the name didn't come to her.
But Rainbow had no reason to lie to her, unless she was having trouble with something. Unwilling to add any extra stress to herself, Twilight decided that whatever it was, Rainbow Dash would be open about it eventually if it was important enough for everyone to hear.
As if on cue, the teapot let out a high pitched whistle. Twilight extended her arcane influence to her surroundings, levitating multiple objects to prepare the finished drinks.
Content with her work, she brought the cups out to the main room, where Dash was still sitting quietly. Twilight placed the pegasus' tea on a nightstand in front of her, where she accepted it with a small nod. Drinking from her own cup, the unicorn took a moment to study her friend in detail.
Rainbow Dash didn't just look completely exhausted; it dawned on Twilight that she looked... distant. Careful. Anxious to the point that she couldn't even be comfortable in her friend's home. Twilight was obviously concerned, but more than that, curious at what the cyan mare could have been doing the previous night.
But before Twilight could make any assumptions, Rainbow broke the silence. "Do you ever think, Twilight?"
What kind of a question was that? Of course she 'thought'. Everypony did; it was a basic fact of life. "What are you talking about? I think all the time, we all do." Twilight said, cocking her head at the unusual query.
"No, no," Rainbow Dash said, shaking her head. "I mean, do you ever think. About yourself, about the world, about what's really important."
Twilight shuffled her hooves in thought. "No, I guess not. I've always been content with just living life as it comes to me. Why so cryptic all of a sudden? This isn't like you at all."
Rainbow Dash didn't answer. Instead, she simply turned to stare out of the window. She held that pose for awhile, taking in the morning view before letting out a long, pained sigh.
The sound of it made Twilight's lip quiver; she had never been put into this kind of situation before. But that sound... that terrible, defeated sigh. It made her stomach twist in pain. There had to be something she could do.
Before she had the chance, Rainbow Dash got up from the couch and walked over towards the library exit. "Thank you for the tea," she said politely as she opened the door, taking her leave without waiting for Twilight to respond.
The lavender mare watched the door swing back and forth before clicking shut. An uncomfortable, still silence quickly engulfed the entire library as she took a moment to consider what had just happened.
She needs a friend, Twilight concluded.
"Twilight, dinner's ready!" Spike called.
Maybe it was. Maybe it was even the best meal Twilight would ever eat in her life, but tonight, she had no appetite at all. The morning's events still hung over her, occupying every thought process she could form. It wasn't voluntary; the unicorn had tried to get her mind off of Rainbow Dash, but she knew that there was something she had to do. She couldn't just sit here locked in her room all day.
That utter look of despair. What could possibly cause that out of nowhere? Just yesterday had Dash been at her door, eager to jump into the first chapter of Daring Do and the Keepers of the Seventh Gem. But now? Now the pegasus was just a drained, exhausted, empty shell of what she had been.
It wasn't Twilight's place, but... maybe talking to her was the best idea. How much could possibly be made worse by simply asking if she was okay? Worst case scenario, Rainbow Dash doesn't want to talk about it, and the unicorn is asked to leave.
But it was nothing to starve over, especially seeing as she was pleased with that decision. "Coming!" she finally answered, making her way down the stairs and into the kitchen.
Twilight's heart skipped a beat when she looked up at the clock. "Eleven...?" she asked obliviously. "I've been up there for the entire day?"
"Yeah," Spike answered. "I didn't even hear you writing. What were you doing up there anyways?"
Do you ever think, Twilight?
What are you talking about? I think all the time, we all do.
I mean, do you ever think. About yourself, about the world, about what's really important.
"... Thinking." Twilight replied.
"Well, I made soup," the dragon announced, placing two bowls of bubbling green liquid on the table. "It's your favorite, daisy stalk chowder."
The lavender mare took her seat and began eating, albeit not as exuberantly as her reptilian companion. Though hunger wasn't an option, she still wasn't in the mood to drink her entire meal in one gulp. Even if it did happen to be the best meal Twilight would ever eat in her life.
The irony wasn't lost on her, and for a moment she laughed, much to the confusion of Spike.
He stared at her incredulously. "What's so funny?" he asked, raising his lack of an eyebrow.
"Nothing," she replied, waving him off with a hoof.
Before Spike could insist on getting more information out of the unicorn, there was a loud knocking on the door. Twilight smiled; for once she knew exactly who it was, and this time, she was going to set things right with Rainbow Dash.
Twilight walked over to the door, pushing it open. "I'm glad you came back, Da-"
The unicorn cut herself off as she noticed that standing in front of her wasn't the rainbow-maned pegasus. Instead, the pathetic-looking colt from earlier that morning, giving her a sheepish smile. Twilight worked her mouth for a minute, but eventually her sense returned to her. "Envelope? What are you doing here so late?" she asked.
"Well," he began, poking around his saddle bags to find a small, rectangular package. "This came in early, so I thought you'd like to have it now instead of tomorrow."
Twilight's eyes lit up. This was perfect; she could bring the book over and give it to Rainbow. This would surely cheer the pegasus up, just a little if anything. Much to the mail colt's surprise, the unicorn jumped out of her house and trapped him in a bear hug.
"Thank you thank you thank you thankyouthankyou-"
"Can't... breathe..." Envelope muttered, gagging under the force of Twilight's hooves.
Upon seeing his distress, she released her grip. "Sorry. But you have no idea how much you've helped me."
"Anytime, miss Spar-"
"Gotta go bye!" Twilight quickly shouted as she ran out of the door, leaving one very confused colt in her wake.
As her balloon closed in on Rainbow Dash's flying mansion, Twilight focused her energy on her hooves, feeling a quick, sharp pain shoot through them as her cloud walking spell took effect.
It had been a long time since the unicorn had any reason to cast this spell, and to say the least, she obviously didn't like doing it that often. But for this occasion, it was well worth it.
Landing softly on Rainbow's cloud home, Twilight hopped out of the balloon and took a moment to consider the situation. The pegasus had looked terribly desperate and tired, so Twilight truly needed to prepare herself for the worst. Whatever was bothering dash was bad, really bad.
What if it involved her friends?
What if it involved her?
Had someone hurt Dash?
The questions kept rolling in, but the unicorn dismissed them all. She was going to give Rainbow Dash the book, and they were going to talk it all out. She walked up to her friend's marble door, pushing it open. It was right then that Twilight knew Dash would come out of this, and that everything was going to be okay.
But sometimes, the world just doesn't want to cut you a break.
At first, Twilight didn't process it. She didn't recognize it. It was wrong, a joke played on her. A sick joke that could only be realized in a fully black spectrum of existence - a spectrum she couldn't be on. A dimension she wasn't a part of, one she had only wandered into accidentally.
But if that were the case...
Why was it so real?
The unicorn dropped the book, walking slowly towards Rainbow Dash's bedside. On the floor, the cyan mare lay silent and still. There was no blood or rope, no debris or weapon, nothing. There was nothing to explain this for what it was.
Yet it was, nonetheless.
Acting on impulse, Twilight extended a hoof to check for signs of life. A heartbeat, a slow breath, anything. Reality set in as she was greeted with electrifying stillness and deafening silence. It burned in the mare's mind, and in turn, she clutched her head in pain.
Twilight had understood the phenomenon of blurred vision and dulled perception in times of extreme emotional stress, but she had never expected to go into shock. She had never expected to feel nonexistent.
Yes, that was the word. Nonexistent. She felt as a spectator, watching this portion of her life be played out for her; a front row seat to her unwanted, indescribable piece of the world. But the theater was cheap. There was no noise, and the sight blended into the background. It was forced, but at the same time, restrained. A contradiction that caused it to look deformed, which in hindsight, was a perfect way to describe it.
Hours seemed to pass as her search for any signs of hope failed to turn up any results. At this point, her vision began to realign into focus. She saw clearly, more clearly than she had seen in her life, but what she heard... that was truly torturous.
Ticking. She hadn't noticed it before. A grandfather clock, a hoof watch, anything. Ticking. Close yet so far, mocking her as if to tell her that time was moving by, that she only had so long to make a move. As if to tell her that she could escape, as if to tell her she could change the course of events, but only if she did it right now.
She knew better, though. The clocks were a lie, and now was far too late.
Twilight let out a breath that she hadn't realized she'd been holding as she got up from the floor. Surveying the scene before her a second time, now with more accurate perception, everything seemed to click into place.
On Rainbow's night stand sat an opened bottle of white pills and a note. Drawing obvious conclusions, the unicorn sighed. She hadn't cried as of now. She didn't feel sorrow, or pain, or grief. Empty. Numb. Those were the only words she could use to describe it. She felt nothing now.
Twilight didn't want to read the note, but it was inevitable, so she decided to bite the bullet and get it over with. Swallowing a lump that had formed in her throat, Twilight formed an aura around the letter, bringing it closer to her muzzle.
So this is it, huh?
I guess that isn't how you expected me to start this. Honestly, I don't even know who I'm addressing. As of now, I don't care. You probably want some sort of apology, or explanation, so I'll give it my best shot.
Earlier today, I went to visit one of my friends,
Twilight coughed, her stomach jerking up into her throat.
And while I was there, I asked her if she thought about life. She didn't, and that was okay. It was actually what I expected. We're all so young, and that feeling of invincibility we have... It makes us ignorant to those kinds of thoughts. Makes us want to avoid them.
But I can't. I've never been able to. That's why I put on a brave face and feigned superiority, pretended to be confident to reinforce that same invincibility within myself. Needless to say, it didn't work. Perhaps confidence is just that, though. The ability to superimpose a falsity upon yourself and wear it as all that you are. To live by ambition.
In the end though, it's just that. A falsity. A mask, a facade, whatever you want to call it. That's why anyone who knows me wouldn't understand this writing, it makes no sense. I've never spoken of myself as one with words, but I guess for something to stick out, another thing must be ignored for balance to be maintained.
"The calligraphy... the articulacy... this is beautiful," Twilight said to herself, only to realize just what exactly she was complimenting.
At that point she lost it, turning from Rainbow's note to vomit. Dry heaving, the unicorn composed herself, but not without consequence. She was absolutely, utterly disgusted with herself. This was so sick, so wrong, so perverted...
And she thought of it as beauty.
I think I'm getting off topic. This may seem out of nowhere, or unexplained, but it isn't. If anything caused me to be like this, I can't remember what it was. But only recently, only just a few months ago did I truly realize how severe I had a problem.
The blind fear and insecurity, the crippling thought of being hated and marked a failure. The day of the Best Young Flier's Competition. I understand that stage fright is common, but...
... I almost killed her. I was so obsessed with myself. I had lived in Cloudsdale my entire life, I knew exactly what would happen if she had gone up and done the act she was planning to do. But I was preoccupied, too preoccupied to explain that fact. Too preoccupied with a falsity.
I refuse to let that happen again.
"What?" Twilight asked no one, turning the parchment around several times before throwing it on the ground. "That's it? That can't be it."
How could Dash have stopped on that? The letter barely explained a thing, it just ends without making any sense at all. Confused, Twilight took a moment to desperately search the room for a second note, only to find nothing of the sort. Frustrated, Twilight lifted up the original paper with her magic and sent a flame through it, incinerating the note to ashes.
"Stupid mare," she accused, looking back down on the still body of Rainbow Dash. "Stupid, stupid mare."
Completely drained and out of options, Twilight lied down next to the cyan pegasus, wrapping a lavender hoof around her body. She was cold, ever so cold, but the unicorn didn't mind. Exhausted and ripped of emotions, Twilight placed her head on Dash's, giving the other pony a gentle nuzzle.
As they lay there, Twilight heard one last thought enter her head before falling asleep. One last destructive, dangerous, horrible thought. One thought that would alter the course of Twilight's life for longer than she would have ever wanted it to.
I could have stopped this...
Twilight kicked open the library door to enter, and not longer after, slammed it back shut. The sudden noise woke a sleeping baby dragon, who instead of being up in his room, had been passed out on the couch. He had dark circles under his eyes, indicating his concern and fatigue.
Noting the entrance of the lavender unicorn, Spike jumped up and pointed an accusatory claw at her. "Where in Equestria have you been!?" he shouted at her. "You never told me where you were going, and I was up all ni..."
Spike's mouth stopped working as he took a better look at the mare before him. Her eyes burned red, her fur was standing on end, and her hoof looked crushed and bloody from where it had impacted the door.
"Twilight..." the dragon began, suddenly very remorseful about his recent actions. "What... what happened to you?"
"Take a letter Spike," she said in a cold tone, ignoring his question. "Now."
Afraid of what could happen should he disobey, he picked up a scroll and quill, motioning for Twilight to continue. She took a breath, trying to calm herself as she made the hardest announcement she ever had.
It was ten. Ten in the morning. She had slept at Rainbow Dash's all night, a memory she knew now would haunt her for the rest of her life. If she hadn't hated herself enough before this, sleeping next to the carcass of one of your best friends didn't help much at all.
The sad part was, that wasn't even the worst of it. Very soon if not today, her friends may try and convince her otherwise, but there was one absolute truth. This could have been prevented, and Twilight was the pony who could have prevented it. She had seen the despair on Rainbow's face with her own eyes, and what did she do about it?
She wanted to die. For the first time in her life, Twilight wanted to die. She was too overwhelmed to maintain any form of stability, and that scared her. When she tried to imagine her future, she saw nothing. She couldn't picture it. It was black and empty, and that scared her.
But she didn't have the luxury of death; it would only place a larger burden on the shoulders of everyone else, an unnecessary addition to the currently unknown pain they all possessed. It made her wonder for a moment, if she had actually been the first in that room. If anyone else had seen that and just ran. Just ran like she should have.
In her heart, she knew it wasn't true. The world wasn't that kind to her, and this was her guilt to carry, hers alone.
So how was she supposed to share that?
No, she couldn't start it off like that. It couldn't be another student to teacher letter. This was different, this was important, and all titles they previously owned were now completely irrelevant. Celestia was no longer Twilight's mentor, or ruler, she was just someone the unicorn needed to speak to right now.
"Celestia," she began, more content with her greeting. "Your immediate presence is requested outside of Ponyville Library."
Spike scribbled the message as fast as he could, looking up at Twilight as he sent it with a small breath of green fire. "What's all this about, Twilight?"
The lavender mare exited the library, once again ignoring the dragon's question completely. There was so much on her mind, so much that Spike wasn't ready to hear right now. So much that only one pony in the entire country could handle it as it was.
With a flash of bright white light, that particular pony had arrived. Twilight felt electrified as the alicorn's powerful magic surged through her, igniting every vein in her body. She looked above her, where the source of it was hovering regally. Gliding down to the soft cut grass, Princess Celestia turned to the unicorn.
"Twilight, what is the meaning of... oh my," She said, only then noticing her student's physical condition. "What is going on here?"
Twilight didn't answer. Instead, she simply walked towards her balloon and gestured for Celestia to enter. The alicorn did as instructed as Twilight lit up the balloon, sending it afloat.
For awhile, they stood in silence. Twilight wasn't looking at Celestia, and she hoped that the alicorn didn't see how troubled she really was. Knowing the princess, however, she probably knew very well what was going on, or at least what emotions were cascading within the lavender mare. But Twilight had called her here for a reason, and she needed to speak.
"Celestia," Twilight began, turning towards the alicorn, who looked a little surprised at the informal address. "I need you to promise me something."
The alabaster mare looked puzzled, but nodded anyways. "Anything, my faithful student."
"No," she corrected, causing even more confusion with her teacher. "I need you to promise me something, and I need you to keep this promise for as long as you live."
The cold, grave tone Twilight took almost caused the alicorn to flinch, and she would have had she not experienced pressuring situations for thousands of years. Celestia nodded again, but this time, kept her silence. Whatever words she could have said wouldn't change much.
"I will one day fall," Twilight started, looking out of the balloon towards a marble house which was growing ever closer. "And leave you a phantom. I need to know that you will accept me for what I was, and move on. Unlike Luna, I won't get a second chance, and I won't be returning."
When the unicorn paused for Celestia to speak, she was utterly lost. It was taking all of her energy to keep a straight face, much less form discernible thoughts. But, the words eventually came to her. "Twilight... Why are you on such a dark topic?"
Arriving at Rainbow Dash's mansion, Twilight landed the balloon and stepped out onto the clouds. The air around this place was still, and a sense of absolute dread hung over her. A familiar twisting knot in her stomach formed, causing her to flex her hoof in pain. This response to the environment wasn't lost on Celestia, who gently prodded the unicorn with her muzzle.
It was now or never. Twilight breathed in slowly, tasting the rotting aura of death on her tongue. Sickened, the mare considered cutting her losses and turning around, but it was already too late for that. Extending a hoof, she once again pushed open the marble door, revealing the scene she hoped to never look at again.
"Oh no..." Celestia commented as she cantered towards Rainbow Dash, checking for signs of life just as Twilight had. Suddenly overcome with a mix of emotions, Twilight laughed bitterly at the familiar scene and shook her head.
"How long has she been like this?" the alicorn asked.
"An entire day at least," the lavender mare answered, her cold monotone showing no indication of changing. "I came over last night."
Celestia studied the body for a moment longer before rising and walking over towards her student. She began to speak to the unicorn, curiosity overpowering her mind. "Who told you what happened? A friend? The Ponyville guard? A nei..." the alicorn stopped speaking as she watched Twilight close her eyes, and let out a pained sigh.
Then the reality of everything hit Celestia like a train.
"You... You found her like this..." she said, more to herself than Twilight.
"I could have foreseen it," Twilight admitted, ashamed and disgusted with herself. "She came to me yesterday. She came to me yesterday in the worst shape of her life, and what did I do? I ignored it. I let her walk out, I allowed this to happen. Rainbow Dash is dead, and it is my fault."
Celestia knelt down to the unicorn, feeling her rage as it emanated from her body. Twilight was impossibly powerful, and whatever she felt was forced upon every other being. In this situation... It was far from pleasant.
The alicorn had to say something, or the consequences would be devastating. "No, this isn't your fault, Twilight. You had no idea, you could have never seen this com-"
"Do you ever think, Celestia?" Twilight interrupted, catching the white mare off guard.
"I asked, do you ever think?" the unicorn repeated, albeit louder than the first time. "About yourself, about the world, about what's really important."
No, I guess not. I've always been content with just living life as it comes to me. Why so cryptic all of a sudden? This isn't like you at all.
"I have lived for eons, Twilight, of course I think about bigger things," Celestia answered dismissively, unhappy with the change of subject. "I know you're in pain, but I've never seen you talk like this... so dark... so..."
"So cryptic?" Twilight asked, completing the mare's sentence.
Celestia nodded. "Twilight, did she say anything? Before she... went?"
Thank you for the tea.
"No, she left a note," Twilight said, until now having hid the memories of the accursed thing. "But I burned it. It made no sense. It wasn't emotional, or anything. It didn't even explain why. She couldn't tell me why."
Twilight felt her eyes burn. She couldn't deal with this, she couldn't cry in front of her teacher. She wasn't going to give Celestia the burden of seeing this, she was a stronger mare. She cared too much, and she had to detach herself. She had to fix things before anyone else could see her as she was.
"My faithful student," Celestia started, wrapping a wing around Twilight. "Please, come back home with me. You shouldn't be here right now."
"I don't need to uproot my life for this," she said. "I am not a filly anymore."
The alicorn nuzzled her student gently. "Age doesn't matter, Twilight. We all feel sorrow. Come home, please. For me."
Twilight stepped out of the alicorn's wing, making her way for the mansion's only exit. "I'm not going to Canterlot. I owe her more than that, I have to host her funeral."
"And then what?" Celestia asked in a harsh tone, startling the unicorn. "You never think these things through! You're going to wallow in self pity and ruin your life for this!"
"No I won't," Twilight shot back. "You don't know me as well as you think you do."
Celestia shook her head. "Is that so? Think about when Discord showed up. You had turned against all your friends, and there was no hope for your victory whatsoever."
"I would have figured something out," Twilight argued.
"No," the alicorn corrected. "If I hadn't sent your friendship letters back to you, this entire country would be in ruins!"
For what seemed like hours, they sat in silence. Twilight had yet to face Celestia, who was now sweating from the tension that formed within the room. The alicorn looked back and forth between her student, and the still body of one of her best friends. Realizing the stress that the unicorn must have been under, Celestia swallowed her pride.
"Twilight, I'm so sorry, I don't know what I was thinking, I just-"
"No," the unicorn said, cutting her off. "No, no, no. You don't get to do that. You don't get to talk to me like that."
Twilight turned around violently to face her mentor. "Just who in Equestria do you think you a..."
But Twilight was no longer in the presence of Celestia. Standing before her, proud and tall as she had ever been, was Rainbow Dash. But there was a key difference between her and what she used to be. She looked older, more graceful, more... alive.
Once again, the irony wasn't lost. But this time, there was no laughter from either pony.
The background seemed to fade out as the cyan mare spoke. "What are you doing, Twilight?"
"H-How are y-you here?" she asked, backing up as far as she could into the void. "You... You're supposed to be dead."
Twilight was absolutely terrified, something that didn't pass over Dash lightly. She walked to the unicorn and put a comforting hoof on her shoulder. "Maybe so. But you obviously are seeing me for a reason, even if I'm not real."
The lavender mare looked at her friend in confusion. "But... Why?"
"Twilight. The second you start blaming yourself for other ponies' deaths...You lose yourself in the process."
She didn't know why. She didn't know how it came about. But hearing this didn't help the unicorn, it didn't bring her peace, it infuriated her. It made her more angry than she had ever been in her life.
"You want to give me advice!?" she screamed, shoving Rainbow Dash off of her shoulder. "You didn't have to go and do this! You didn't have to die!"
"Who are you to go and do this to me!?" she asked, her emotions reaching their peak. "Just who in Equestria do you think you are!?"
"I think I'm somepony who loves you very much, Twilight," Celestia said, holding the unicorn in her hooves.
Twilight gasped, looking around the room to see no sign of a living Dash, only the lifeless body lying next to the bed. It was too much. She didn't care who saw anymore, but for the first time since finding Dash, she cried.
Hot tears fell to the floor as the lavender mare sobbed violently, pushing on her temples as she did so.
It was painful to the point where it frightened Celestia. "Twilight... Are you-"
"No," she said in between sobs. "I'm not okay."
"Shh," Celestia said, rocking the unicorn back and forth. "Everything will be fine."
For the first time in her life, Twilight didn't believe her. She didn't believe the one pony who had taught her everything she knows. Celestia may be wise, but this was something that even she couldn't have possibly dealt with. The unicorn was so scared, confused, and shaken to the point where she couldn't even function.
"I need help," Twilight said. "I can't do this."
Celestia ran a hoof through her students mane, shushing her as she did so. "And you'll get it. You're going to be okay, Twilight. I won't let anyone else hurt you."
With a scream that had been long repressed, the lavender mare picked up the book in her mouth and threw it at the mirror, shattering it.
But when she whipped her head around to face her accuser, she was met with only the emptiness of Celestia's bedroom. Twilight let out a second shout, slamming her hoof on the ground as she fell to her knees. There was no one there. There had never been anyone there.
She was alone.