96w, 3dCoffee, Tea, and Everything Else
94w, 5dDoubled Fun
96w, 23hAlicorn Twilight
93w, 3dTwilight, Alicorns, and Awsome
86w, 5dTwilight is Best Pony
93w, 1dTwilight Sparkle
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82w, 20hKeeria's Library
61w, 2hfimfiction's favorites
66w, 2dAlternate Perspectives
16w, 4dFic Graveyard: Untimely Deaths
36w, 3dSolitary Confinement
16w, 5dMy reading list
9w, 1dThe Vixens recovered scrolls
Twilight looked down at the colt before her. The young pony looked so much like his father. His red vest was too large for him, but Twilight recognized as having belonged to Daily Vigil. The pony before her was a practical replica of Daily on the day that she had first met him. She wondered if as time went on she would begin avoiding ponies because they reminded her too much of those who had passed on. Twilight suspected a day would come when every face would bring to mind dozens of ponies who had passed to the great pasture. She had no idea how Celestia had gone on for thousands of years when she was falling apart before even having lived longer than a normal pony lifespan.
Evening Vigil's eyes were dry, but the redness in them was obvious. Twilight wondered just how the colt was holding up since she had not seen the pony or his mother since the funeral.
“My dear Evening Vigil, you have requested an audience with me. What is it that I may do for you?”
“I... I know I’m still young your majesty, and I’m not very good at a lot of things. But my father did teach me how to keep time and follow a schedule. I’ve also heard that you’ve yet to fill the position of Royal Time Keeper. My father wanted me to follow in his footsteps.” For most of his speech the young pony had been staring at the ground. However, with his last words he looked straight up at his princess. “So... I would be honored if you would make your new time keeper!”
Twilight felt her heart wrench as the colt stomped his forehoof in determination. Evening had looked up to his father so much, but Daily Vigil had been the same way with his own father. She wanted to tell young Evening to go home and focus on school. She wanted the pony to focus on spending time with friends. Instead she found herself saying something completely different.
“Very well. I will not take the position away from your family. It is yours if you want it. However, you don’t need to do this. Yes, your father wanted you to follow in his footsteps, but he also wanted you to to be happy. If you ever feel that the position is too much, or that it is not for you, please tell me. There is no shame in that. It will be hard work. In addition to your duties, I will expect you to continue on with school. Both your father and grandfather needed ample education to best serve me. For now though, you need to rest. You have been through a lot. Later, I will speak with you and your mother about the scheduling of your duties.”
The pony smiled and practically fell over himself thanking her. As she gazed at him, Twilight wondered about the pony’s future. Twilight hoped that she would not have to watch him grow up only to die in a senseless accident. Unfortunately, she did not know if there was meaning in any death.
She was beginning to question the benefits of friendship. Its magic had brought her so much joy, but it also brought with it great pain. Even if she was not too close to other ponies, they would hurt her when they died. There was nothing anypony could do about that. If she allowed herself to get too close to the colt in front of her, he would just wound her heart with his eventual passing.
However, she was also afraid of a future where her only company was Spike, Celestia, and the statue of Discord. Purposefully distancing herself from ponies seemed like an even bleaker future.
As young Evening prepared to leave, a green magical flame drifted into her throne room. Twilight snatched the materializing scroll out of the air with her own magic and ripped it open. Spike normally would write his status reports and letters before he went to bed for the night. A message being sent just after sunset was likely something important.
The court understood the significance of the magical flames and silent whispers broke out. The nobles had not forgotten the state that the knight protector had been in the last time he had returned to the capital.
“Guards! Send for the Captain Commander immediately. Inform her that I want a full mixed squadron of the elite guard assembled in the main courtyard within the quarter hour.” Twilight stood up and began galloping towards the exit. “Everypony, the rest of court is canceled this evening. I need to get something from my study but will meet the guard once I am ready.”
All of Twilight’s earlier thoughts immediately vanished in her flurry of activity. As she rushed through the hallways of the palace, her guards struggled to keep up with her longer strides. She had considered teleporting directly to her study, but knew that it would take time for her orders to reach Rainbow Dash.
With a burst of magic she blasted her study’s door open and flinched when she heard the wood crack. Still, a broken door was a small price to pay if it meant purging Equestria of its tumor. The weed had been allowed to grow for far too long.
She trotted over to a display case against one of the walls. Held within was one of Moon Dreamer’s creations. It was a suit of armor designed to be worn by Equestria’s sole princess. Twilight had been amused by the artifact, but never thought she would need to actually put it to practical use. She did not know how much help it would be against her foe. However, she was not going to ignore something that could save her life.
If it was the same creature, she had defeated it before. However, that victory had only come after the thing had slain Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. Twilight might not live to see another day. Only a few hours prior she had set the sun over Equestria, but it could turn out to be the last time her kingdom would ever feel its warmth.
The risk was worth it. She would destroy the thing that had taken Celestia from her; She would crush the thing that had killed Luna and Pinkie Pie. Twilight Sparkle would eradicate the being that had forced her to take Little Pinkie’s life.
Her magic was practically boiling over in response to her emotions, and the glass on the display case shattered into thousands of shards. Pieces of plate mail began to hover around her as she strapped on the under-harness with her telekinesis. One by one, each piece snapped onto the harness, interlocking with every other piece. She felt them click into her regalia; her chest piece having been designed as part of the armor.
Within moments Twilight Sparkle was encased in shinning star metal. Every component of the armor was studded with a gem and etched with glowing runes. Each of the precious stones had been crafted into a limited power amplifier, and once the battle began, they would rapidly burn out. However, they could still provide her with an edge.
As the last piece of the armor was secured, the runes all began glowing as one. Twilight began to fill her mind with spells of terrible power. Before her reign nopony had cause to learn spells designed to inflict harm. However, once the creatures of the empty sky began to attack ponies, Twilight had authorized the unsealing of the forbidden section of the Canterlot Library. If need be, she would become a goddess of destruction to save Equestria.
By the time Twilight reached the courtyard, dozens of soldiers where arrayed. Each pony stood at rapt attention, knowing only that their princess had put out an urgent call. Officers strode amongst the lines performing one final inspection. Nearby Rainbow Dash stood overseeing the preparations. As Twilight stepped in front of them, all action ceased.
“My brave little ponies, I have received word from my knight protector of a terrible evil lurking in the Everfree forest. This is an evil that has plagued Equestria for far too long. When we arrive, you will be providing me with support while I engage the enemy. I want magic users to set up an anti-teleporation field while pegasi will watch the sky. The rest of our groundforces will provide cover for the unicorns and ensure that our foe does not escape on hoof. We will be departing as soon as I have had a word with the Captain Commander”
Twilight walked over to her most loyal friend and continued on in a lower voice. “I want you to recall the conversation we had recently. There is a chance that the foe we will be engaging will bear a resemblance to me. It may be one of the impostors, and I just want you to be warned.”
She had no idea what events could drive her to become the monster she had fought. However, Twilight could not deny that the creature could be some visitor from another time. No matter how absurd, she could not afford to overlook any possibility if she was to save Equestria.
The ponies gathered in a large circle around their princess, and once they were arrayed, Twilight engulfed them with her magic and flung them through space to reach their destination. She channelled the spell through one of the amplifiers on her armor and winced as she felt, rather than heard, it shatter. The feedback set her teeth on edge but was nothing she could not deal with. A small headache was a small price to pay to preserve her strength for the coming fight.
The teleporation spell she had cast would have left a lesser unicorn - even one skilled at the art - exhausted. Twilight instead felt only a small bead of sweat forming on her brow. Unfortunately, the spell was a necessary evil because she was concerned that if they took the time to fly to the Everfree Forest their quarry would be gone.
In a crack of light, they had arrived outside of a location familiar to Twilight. For all she could tell, not even a day had passed for the ruined palace of the two alicorn sisters. Moss and weeds grew along the cracked stone, and the only light came from small glow orbs attached to the armor of each of her ponies and the lumination from the horns of the unicorns.
“It’s in there. Everypony fan out.”
Twilight could sense the malevolent presence inside the old palace. It would be her first time meeting the force face to face since Celestia’s death, but she could swear it felt different. The same sense of wrongness was there, but she could not recall the dark and angry pressure that she was feeling now. In her dreams it was always a morose sadness.
Twilight felt the ground shift and knew, without looking, that Spike had just landed besides her. However, when she turned to speak with him both her hearts skipped a beat.
“Spike! Your wound...”
Spike’s injury from the last time he had fought the creature had reopened, and at first Twilight had thought it to be a fresh wound. Blood was oozing out down his chest, with more being added with each beat of the dragon’s heart.
“I’m fine; don’t worry about me. It's just bleeding a little is all. I made sure not to get close to the thing. It still seems to be just standing around inside the palace. If you're sure you want to fight it alone, I’ll join the pegasi in the sky to make sure it doesn’t fly out through the holes in the ceiling.”
Twilight watched in agitation as Spike pressed a claw against his chest. Hopefully, once she had killed the source of the wound's taint, she would finally be able to heal it.
“I’m sure Spike.” Twilight released a heavy sigh as she turned towards the palace entrance. “I don’t want any other pony going up against that thing’s power. But Spike, should the worst happen - I... I’ve been preparing a backup plan for Equestria. It’s not done, so I haven't told anypony yet, but it should allow some ponies to survive in the case of my death. You can find it in a purple notebook in my study.”
"What do you mean?"
"Even if it's only a few thousand ponies, as long as ponykind lives, there will be hope. Equestrians don't give up. If I pass away, the goal is preservation. It may take thousands of generations, but eventually a pony will come along who will bring back the light. That is my final plan should all else fail."
“Twi - you’re the strongest pony ever. Nothing is going to happen.”
Twilight did not respond as she began walking towards the stone archway. Each step came down hard across the ancient stone, causing it to crack beneath her shoes. Her magic began to spread out in angry tendrils as she used it to expand her senses. The threads of energy did not find anything, but she still felt the wrongness all around her. It stained the once solemn place. It had stained her Equestria.
She would destroy it.
Slowly Twillight passed through the ruined palace with only the one thought on her mind. The only sound was the echo of her own hoovesteps and the howling of the wind. Each clattering step was filled with determination and brought her closer to her goal. A tingling feeling ran up her horn, and Twilight knew that the anti-teleportation field was in effect. She had no doubt that if she was dealing with the same creature that had killed Celestia, that it would be able to punch through the barrier. However, the seconds that the field would slow it down would hopefully be all Twilight would need.
Of course, she had no idea if it would try to run.
She found herself in a familiar room. The ancient chamber where Celestia had stored the elements of harmony for their thousand year wait. Currently the elements were safely stored in Canterlot, but they were just useless pieces of inert stone. The day that Pinkie Pie had died their attunement had been shattered, and they had reverted to being nothing but stone spheres.
Twilight often wondered if throughout each generation Celestia always had ponies in mind who could serve as embodiments of the elements. Likewise, she wondered if she was neglecting her duties by not having ponies selected to serve as the new bearers of harmony. She had no clue how long Discord’s imprisonment would last, or what she would do if he ever broke free.
Something in the room shifted and the stone and moss faded from view. She was in a void of darkness.
“Who’s there?” Twilight tried to keep the fear from her voice. “Show yourself.”
The chuckling froze her heart. It was there with her, and when it spoke its words she found herself shivering. It was the voice from her nightmares.
“What do you mean? Do you not recognize me?”
“I said show yourself!” And as Twilight spun around she saw it. “What type of an abomination are you?”
It was just like before - an alicorn but not. The thing's legs had too many joints and bent at all the wrong angles. Its wings burned away on motes of nothingness, but yet never seemed to shrink. Monster, creature, abomination - none of those words seemed to fit. Twilight found one word running over and over again through her mind.
“Is that anyway to speak to your only daughter? Oh, that look on your face? Right now you just came up with at least ten different possibilities, didn't you. I wonder if any of them are right.”
“You’re lying,” Twilight snarled her response.
“I can assure you that I have no reason to lie to you mother. However, I suppose if enough time passes, you’ll discover the answer eventually.”
“You’re not... You’re from -”
“Oh, no. That would be rich though. The only daughter of Equestria’s sole ruler travels back in time to plunge the world into darkness. That would be a terrific bit of adolescent rebellion. But tell me, do you really think you actually talked to yourself from the future?”
“What do you mean?”
“Tell me, does Equestria know that its ruler has a family history of mental illness?”
“That’s not -”
“Oh? Then I take it grandpa ended things the way he did just because he could not stand having as an unlovable daughter as you? Listen mother, lets look at it this way. Why haven’t you told your friends about your little Celestia Construct-” The creature ignored Twilight’s startled outburst at the mention of Celestia. “I bet you want to say it’s because they wouldn’t understand. Well, you’re right - there is no way anypony could understand. Creating a pale imitation of somepony you’ve lost is not the behavior of a normal healthy pony. Do well adjusted ponies dig up the corpses of their students and mutilate the body to create a weapon to kill themselves. That sounds a bit too much like your father to me. For goodness’ sake, you’ve been trying to make friends with a statue.”
Twilight growled in anger and formed a shimmering mote of light. It did nothing to banish the darkness, but in it enough power was trapped to obliterate the atrocity before her. It shot forward with a terrible shriek as the mote burned through the air. As the spell shot off, Twilight could hear another amplification crystal shattering. The monster leapt out of the path of the blast laughing all the while.
Twilight had finally regained her balance from the creature's verbal attacks. It's behavior was so different than the first time she had encountered it that it had caught her off guard. Gone was the apologetic monster. In its place was a spiteful and malicious creature.
"I don't know what you are, but there is no way you're my daughter."
“Now now mother. Is that how you think mothers are supposed to treat their daughters? Or perhaps you just aren’t good with children. How many minutes did you spend around that one pony - Pinkie, I think her name was - before crushing her heart?”
“I don’t know how you know these things, but you don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. I did what I needed to do.”
A dozen more motes of light sprung into existence, swirling around Twilight. Each of the motes sparkled like a star in the night sky, and their high pitch whine was accompanied by the shattering of amplification gems. As one the motes all arched towards the creature following along different paths. As each one slammed into the darkness, Twilight’s ‘daughter’ evaded each one.
“Oh, I’m sure it was necessacery. However, did you need to enjoy it so much? Did taking the life of another pony need to bring you such a dirty little thrill? How long until you take another life, mother?” The monster drew out the word 'mother' in a mocking tone. “Are you going to institute capital punishment for ponies that do wrong so that you can be their executioner? You can take lives while still following all the rules that way.”
Twilight’s words were transformed into wave of pure energy that shot out in all directions. When the light faded Twilight could see the creature slowly picking itself up off the inky black ground. It spit out some viscous liquid that faded into the darkness.
“You think you can beat me like that? Tell me mother, when was the first time that you saw me?”
“You think I would forget?" Twilight screamed at the monster. "It was when you took Celestia from-”
“NO!” For the first time the creatures words were filled with rage. “Think harder. The first time. When mama died, and papa... You were filled with anger at the Princess for not saving her. Guilt for not being a good enough student. If you had worked just a little bit harder, maybe Princess Celestia would have been willing to help. You didn’t know how to deal with all those emotions. Good little ponies don’t get angry at their teachers. Good little ponies don’t kill their moms. You pushed it all away and bottled it up. THAT - That was the first day you saw me, the day I was born.”
Twilight found herself frozen. She wanted to deny the things words, but it was right. She remembered now, a horrifying vision that she had suppressed far beneath her consciousness - a nightmare of a dark twisted Celestia. She could not remember if she ha just seen it in her dreams or if it had been there while waking.
“How... How can that be?”
“Why are you so slow mother? Is it just because you don’t want to recognize the truth. Fine, I will spell it out for you. Why do you think it was so easy for you to create that pathetic construct? It was because it wasn't your first attempt. Years before, your nightmares gave birth to me. Only my runes are not carved into stone and crystal. The runes that sustain me have been burned into the very fabric of your mind by years of self-hatred and guilt."
"I don't... I don't hate myself." Twilight stuttered the words. But even as she spoke them, she questioned her own honesty. She tried to form another mote of light, but it wavered and spluttered out.
“Your insane desire to always make everypony proud - failure being completely unacceptable - that is what brought me about.” As the creature spoke Twilight felt the darkness pressing in around her. “If little Twilight was ever a bad pony it would disappoint your parents, it would disappoint your precious teacher. Anger, hate, lust, greed - healthy ponies allow themselves to feel these things. They live their lives and deal with the pain an suffering in it. You just shove it all away. Proud Twilight, strong Twiliight. Can't hurt a pony's feelings Twilight. Does it feel good to know that your desire to love everypony gave birth to Equestria’s final doom.”
Finally the creature struck. The blast was a spiral of nothingness that tore at the very space around it. Twilight threw up a barrier at the last moment, but the force of the attack caused another amplification crystal to shatter.
The two were dancing around throwing titanic blasts of energy at one another. Twilight did not know how many attacks she could successfully block. Each one that she was unable to dodge ruptured another one of her armor’s crystals. Once they were exhausted, the strain of defending herself would become incredible.
“No! I deny you. I deny your existence.”
“Oh mother, that only works if you believe it, but we both know that you don’t. You know the truth. You’ve felt me leaching energy away from your precious sun. Deep down inside, you've known it for years now. You killed Celesita. You are killing Equestria.”
The blast that of dark flames that slammed into Twilight tore through her barrier and slammed her against some unseen barrier. As she stood up on shaky legs, she felt pieces of her armor falling off. Pain lanced down her side, and the fire still licked at her flesh.
“That’s not true.” Twilight spoke her words through choked tears. “I didn’t...”
“Then why didn’t you join the battle earlier? Why wait until the final blow? Why are you even bothering to fight now? You can’t beat me.”
Twilight finally understood their battleground. They were not fighting within the normal bounds of space; it was a sub-dimension of hate, loathing, and darkness. Even still, she knew that the energies of their battle were being discharged into the palace of the twin sisters. She hoped that her ponies would be safe outside of the palace. It had been a mistake to bring them. She had been so focused on getting her revenge, that she had ignored their safety. If any of them were injured it would be her fault.
Suddenly a spark of understanding flashed in Twilight’s eyes.
“It doesn’t matter if what you say is true. I don’t care if you exist or not. All I care about are my little ponies. More than anything else, I want to protect everypony. That's why I am fighting right now. There are ponies that depend on me, and I can't let them down. You should know, I’m willing to die for Equestria. It’s you that can’t win.”
The creature stepped back in shock as Twilight began to become surrounded by a prismatic glow.
“You're wrong mother. I win, when you become me.”
The monster transformed its body into a living weapon as it shot towards Twilight in an arrow of black flames. There was no defending against the attack, so Twilight did the only thing she could. She defied it.
Twilight shot towards the embodiment of all that was wrong in her life. Whereas the monster was a bolt of darkness, Twilight became a lance of brilliant energy that consisted of every color in the rainbow. The creature was right in that Twilight did not deal with her emotions well, but that was why she had her friends. Her memories of all the happy moments from her past coalesced into a tangible force. The two collided and for a split second time stood still.
Then all was oblivion.
Yea, it's a bit of a cliffhanger, but I'll be posting the next chapter 'Aftermath' tomorrow, so you don't need to wait too long.
Hopefully this chapter is a nice change from the slower pace we had been going at.
Oh, so my story has fanart now. Go check it out (has blood, incase that upsets you): http://echolesshowl.deviantart.com/art/Then-the-Princess-grew-wings-286322206
It's my hope that the interchange between verbal and physical battle was satisfying. Before this chapter I debated between foreshadowing that this fight was coming or throwing it out of left field.
If you missed what happened to Daily Vigil, reread the very end of Twilight's notes in the last chapter. Just imagine all your friends are over for your birthday party and your dad falls off a ladder while hanging your pinata and breaks his neck. Some birthday.
I'm trying to get better at mixing the dialog up with action, so let me know how that went.
Also, btw tonight or tomorrow I will be reuploading edited versions of the first 6 chapters. If you're bored they might be worth a read, but plot wise nothing is different. It's just an attempt to improve the narrative.
EDIT: For those that are counting, this probably marks the end of (the unofficial) part II of the story. Next chapter marks the entrance to part III. A revised plot outline gives us another 9 chapters, so this is probably going to break 100k words.