In The Shade of Time

by Silver Scrolls

The experiment

A pencil perched between her lips bobbed up and down alongside her mumblings as she read her notes. Twilight’s focus shifted from the paper to the floor then back to the paper as she rechecked her work over and over.

Around her danced a intricate seamless line of runes drawn in chalk with great care. Each rune wove into the next like strands of wool into a tapestry. And, just like a tapestry, only a few individuals truly understood how such simple lines became the great works of art they were. In the case of this circle there were only three ponies alive today who could hope to understand how everything wove together and what it created, Twilight and the two princesses.

“So teleportation matrix ties into...” She glanced at her notes and scribbled something of her notes. “No that won’t work, it would take too much energy.” With a swish of her tail she erased a spot in the circle behind her while her hoof erased what was in front of her. “Maybe if I...” The pages flipped as she scribbled a few complex formulas down and solved them as her magic grabbed a piece of chalk and began to fill in the gaps she had created in the circle.

“Okay that should work... No, this would be too unpredictable.”

With a flap of her wings Twilight cleared the circle and landed next to her bench where dozens of books lay open or bookmarked and pushed to the side. Her notes clattered onto a chair nearby out of the way as she delved into the tomes of knowledge. The books began to fly past her eyes as she grasped at the thin threads of understanding coming together in her mind. “Yes, this is it. If I take in Clover’s theorem of mana conservation and Blazing Shield’s theory of magic sentience and apply them to...”

Her voice trailed off as she got more and more excited and darted over to the circle, three books following her. Her eyes darted between the books and the runes on the floor as she began to make revisions. The tips of her wings quivered as each new rune was altered to perfection or erased and replaced completely. After several hectic minutes the books thudded back onto the desk and Twilight smiled down her new creation.

“Yes, yes, yes, yes. This is it.” Her wings fluffed and she did a little hop from side to side. “All that’s left is testing.” She glanced up at the door, the lock clicking into place with a gentle push of her magic. “Door is locked, circle is completed, calendar is clear.” Her chest expand as she drew a deep calming breath. “It’s time.”

A short hop and a careful flap of her wings and she settled herself in the center of the circle but before she could clear her mind and being focusing the door slammed open. Papers flew everywhere as a blue streak burst through the door and spin in the air before dropping to the floor in a grandiose pose.

“And another perfect landing, not a hair out of place.” Rainbow smiled at Twilight as she dropped back to all fours, her tail sweeping across several chalk lines. “Ready to go Twilight?”

Twilight’s eyes twitched and she ground her teeth. “Rainbow, to the corner.” Her hoof snapped up pointing to the corner by the desk. “And don’t even think of leaving till I am done here.”


Twilight looked Rainbow in the eye and jabbed her hoof at the corner. “Rainbow, go to the corner.” Rainbow opened her mouth to retort only to be wrapped in Twilight's magic and roughly shoved into the corner. “Stay.”

Slightly admonished Rainbow sat down in the corner, blowing a raspberry in Twilight’s direction as she crossed her hooves in annoyance. Ignoring Rainbow’s antics Twilight turned back to her work and began to repair the damaged circle. Unbeknownst to her, the aforementioned pegasus noticed some chalk nearby and, with a wicked grin, carefully reached out. Two quick lines crossed two runes and the chalk was concealed under Rainbow’s wing before Twilight turned back around.

“Now I need complete silence, complete.” Twilight narrowed her eyes at Rainbow before her horn flashed and a pinkish bubble covered Rainbow. “Better safe than sorry.” She stuck her tongue out at Rainbow who looked a little confused before hopping back into the circle and settling down.

Slowly her eyes drifted closed and she took several more deep calming breaths. Breathe in and hold for three seconds, then exhale slowly, just like Celestia taught her when she was foal. Her heart slowed and mind settled, not even a ripple of a stray thought danced through the folds of her mind as she stared down at the chalk lines around her. The whole room began to take on a pinkish-magenta color as a thin line of magic traced up the spiral of her horn and gathered at the tip.

As the magic grew, the room seemed to shake and vibrate with power as the rules of reality bent and twisted to Twilight’s whims. A strong and gentle thrumming sound filled the room as the air and light began to bend around Twilight, distorting the room around her in tandem with the surging power.

A smile played at Twilight’s lips and a thin beam of magic arced from the energies gathered at the tip of her horn and struck the circle behind her.

A purple spark arced along the chalk line, erasing it as it went and leaving a bright magenta trail like a sparkler twirling in the dark. Another beam and another spark erased yet another section of chalk. In place of the chalk lines now hung a ghostly purple image of what had been erased

Twilight smiled to herself as she took another deep breath and more magic gathered at the tip of her horn.

Slowly, ever so slowly the magic gathered, swirling along the grooves of her horn at a snail's pace. Her vision swam as sweat dripped from her forehead and the dull throb of a headache formed at the base of her horn. Panting heavily, she pushed harder and harder, the lights dimming as the glow of her horn overshadowed them.

Languidly a spark fluttered free from the tip of her horn and floated towards the chalk runes. Lazily the little spark of magic landed on the last of the chalk lines and skittered along them.

Twilight bit her lip as it danced and pushed her magic a little harder. Suddenly her eyes snapped open and she watched as the little spark skipped across those two lines her mischievous friend had made. She took a deep breath and leaned back then breathed a sigh of relief only to pause mid sigh as everything started to change.

The next few seconds happened in slow motion around them. First the spark began to flicker and expand at a rapid pace, the circle quickly following suit. The lights flashed brighter, blinding the two mares. An ungodly shriek soon filled the room alongside the searing lights, tearing through their ears and digging into their heads with a vengeance.

Neither one could muster the strength to move as the assault on their sense continued for several seconds. Finally a gale force wind slammed them to the floor where they covered their heads in a desperate attempt to filter out some of the wailing that echoed throughout the room. And then, without warning, everything came to an abrupt halt.

Twilight and Rainbow both blinked a few times to clear the spots away while shakily rising to their hooves.

They glanced at each other but before Twilight could so much as sigh with relief the magic shattered. With a massive earth-shattering boom the circle broke and the world turned purple as both Twilight and Rainbow found themselves flung about like leaves on an autumn wind.

Twilight was the first to rise, having been at the center of the storm of magic.

“Ugh, what?” she groaned.

The room spun around her and she shook her head in a horrible attempt at regaining her bearings. A sudden wave of nausea dropped Twilight back to the floor. She closed her eyes tightly, waiting for the nausea to pass.

Several minutes passed before Twilight heard Rainbow groan and instantly her attention was drawn to the rainbow-maned pegasus. Her bubble of silence had broken, Rainbow had been inside, the ramifications. “Rainbow, are you okay?” Immediately she started poking and prodding with both her hooves and magic.

“Does everything sound normal? Do you have your hearing? How many feathers am I holding up?”

A purple feathered appendage was held in front of Rainbows face only to be pushed away roughly. Rainbow let out a harsh whine as she clutched her head and pushed the wing aside. “Please, not so loud, Twilight, my head is killing me.”

A happy sigh deflated Twilight. “Oh thank the fates.” She smiled at Rainbow. “I was really worried for a second.” Curiosity sated Twilight left her slightly stunned but recovering friend to focus on the massive scorch mark that had once been her spell. “Now where did I go wrong.”

Rainbow behind her rubbed her temples with her wings. The gentle tink of chalk landing on the floor made Twilight's ears perk up. Wincing with a horror stricken face Rainbow watched the little tiny piece of white chalk slowly roll across the floor. In her mind it was like the giant boulder guarding some ancient secret Daring Do was on the hunt to uncover but unlike her favorite novels there was no escape from this fate.

The small inconspicuous writing implement bumped against against a crack in the floor and balanced on the edge, hanging there precariously, as fate considered the two available options. Would the chalk roll back into the crack or keep going? Rainbow bit her lip, a hoof quivering as though she might somehow influence the ominous decision of fate somehow.

With a little clink the chalk shifted and restarted its journey towards Twilight’s hoof. Rainbow whimpered under her breath as it began rolling faster and faster until it bumped the purple wall looming up from the floor. Twilight slowly looked down at the chalk, catching site of a very nervous pegasus in the corner of her eye.

“Rainbow, why so nervous.” Like a glacier calving in reverse, the jagged pieces of Twilight's thoughts sucked pulled up from the turbulent sea of her mind and joining with a much larger and colder piece of truth. Rather than her face lighting up in understanding it cooled and the color seemed to drain from Twilight's face. “Rainbow.” The word came out more as a growl than anything else and Rainbow tried to step back away from her enraged friend.

“So um, how’d that get there?” She smiled sheepishly. “Must have been knocked off the desk.”

Twilight’s mane seemed to dance with fire as her whole body began to shake with suppressed rage. “What did you do?”

“Well, um, you see, I thought it might be funny to know.”

“Do you have any idea what could have happened!” Twilight's voice boomed and somewhere a blue alicorn smiled with pride as the young ponies voice shook her castle.

“The spell fizzles, or umm explodes like it did.”

Twilight's eye twitched and strands of her mane popped out in random directions. “Think bigger, so much bigger, so much worse.”

Rainbow shifted uncomfortably. “So blow up the castle, Ponyville.”

“If we were so lucky.” Twilight waved her hooves about. “If we were lucky it would be contained to Ponyville. It could have torn open time and space unleashing an eldritch monster. Time could have ceased to exist. You could have...have....have....” Her sentence trailed off as her nostrils flared and she collapsed into a whimpering lump on the floor.

Rainbow gulped and licked her lips. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would be that bad, or deadly.”

Twilight popped up onto her hooves without warning causing Rainbow to jump. “That’s not the only deadly thing in this room right now you irresponsible half-witted feather brained AIRHEAD!” Enraged, Twilight growled and bits of flame flickered up and down her mane. “You could have killed everyone on this fates forsaken continent.” More flames licked at Twilight’s body as the color seemed to fade from her coat slowly turning it white.

Rainbow glanced up and was about to chuckle nonchalantly until she saw Twilight standing just a few steps from her. Rainbow licked her lips nervously as she scooted backwards away from the mare that was literally burning with rage. Carefully she stumbled to her hooves, all while moving away from Twilight and towards the door.

“Sorry Twilight, I just remembered something...” The end of the sentence never left her mouth as her blue muzzle met a heavy wooden door, and Rainbow slid down the door to the floor with a pained yelp. Cautiously she turned around, an uncertain smile wavering on her lips.

“So um, what exactly did I screw up?” Rainbow closed her eyes hoping that this might put Twilight on one of her rants and distract her enough not murder her.

“A better use and expansion of Starswirl’s time leap spell, the one that caused me so many problems a few years ago.” Twilight’s voice was more of a growl when she spoke so she took a moment to calm herself with Celestia’s breathing technique. The flames in her mane died out and the color returned to her mane and coat after several long breaths.

“I wanted to try and stabilize and extend the range, which now I have to start over from scratch. With that said I would greatly appreciate it if you went back upstairs and waited for me.” Her smile and calm words were a poor facade, the rage easily bleeding through; adding a low growl to her words and a coldness to her gaze.

Without needing any more prompting Rainbow was gone in a streak of rainbow color that led out the door and up the stairs to the library. Rainbow figured a good stint with a Daring Do novel while she waited would help calm her nerves.

Twilight quickly set the circle back up, double and triple checking not only her notes, but the books as well. She glanced up at the clock in the room before she started. “Oh great, she broke my clock. Well no matter, I have plenty of time to finish up these tests before the party ends.”


Upstairs in the castle’s library Rainbow had found one of Twilight’s bean bags and dragged it to a nearby window where she was now curled up with one of her favorite Daring Do novels, Daring Do and The Centaur’s Stronghold. The afternoon sun shined through the thin blueish  crystal window behind Rainbow. It warmed her feathers and back, helping Rainbow lose herself in the book.

Lost inside the book, Rainbow forgot about the world around her. The party, her mistake, even where she was forgotten as she absorbed herself in the world of Daring Do. This book wasn’t her favorite one, there wasn’t as much adventuring in it as the others instead it focused more puzzles.

Just as the book was reaching its peak and the big villain was about to be revealed a loud pop ripped Rainbow from the book and back to reality. Just a few feet from her stood a disheveled Twilight. A slight twitch was visible in her left eye as she mumbled to herself incoherently.

Rainbow opened her mouth to say something but the words caught in her mouth and slowly she raised the book in front of her like a shield. Within the mumbling she could have sworn she heard her name mentioned and not in a good way. Peeking around the side of it as Twilight walked right past her, completely lost in her thoughts. Gingerly Rainbow slod of the cushion and followed Twilight out of the room.

“Um, Twilight.” Rainbow spoke hesitantly, her ears laid back over her skull.

Twilight stumbled and grunted. Blinking owlishly she shook her head to bring herself back from the recesses of her thoughts and turned to look at her friend. “Oh, you’re still here Rainbow, didn’t leave for the party?”

“I wanted to but, I lost myself in a Daring Do novel and I wanted to make sure you were ok.” Rainbow smiled a little. “Are you, alright?”

It was slow, like watching Tank race across the floor to his food bowl. Unlike Tank though, it was only slow because Twilight was sifting through so much information as she looked for an answer to if she ok. Physically she only had a few minor injuries, a bruise or two and her wing might be a little sprained, mentally she was exasperated and frustrated. “No, this project has me defeated. I thought I was so close and then you came in and screwed everything up and now nothing seems to be working the way the math says it should.”

Rainbow frowned and lowered her head. “I’m sorry. I guess I screwed it up more than I thought.”

Twilight closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. “Yes you did. I can’t even figure out what you did or how it affected the spell. Complex spell work like this is so sensitive that I don’t know if I’ll be able to ever unravel what you....”

Slowly her words faded as her eyes fixed on a clock hanging on the wall behind Rainbow. Twilight stared at intently, past the glass and the face and the hands. Beyond the gears inside to the tiny increments of time the tool measured. The longer she looked at the clock the more horror stricken her face became. Without warning she popped out of existence and then back into existence again with a broken clock in her hoof.

“No this can’t be. It’s not possible. I accounted for...” She stopped talking and turned to look at Rainbow. “No!?”

Twilight took off at a canter down the hall, bursting through the front doors of her castle, making a beeline for Ponyville. Rainbow looked around confused for a moment before following Twilight out the door. As she left the castle the first thing she noticed was the eerie silence. Her ears swiveled as her wing beats slowed.

No chirping birds or general din of the small town as ponies went about their business.


Rainbow stood there, confusion on her face.


This was wrong. Something was wrong. She fluffed her wings and swallowed the lump in her throat as she noticed a bird. It looked frozen in the sky, wings stuck mid flap. It hung there like a stage prop. The wings curved ever so slightly in mid up-swing.

With a single flap Rainbow leaped up and hovered beside the bird, completely captivated by its utter lack of movement.

She poked it.


“What the buck?” She poked it a third time before slowly lowering to the ground, head tilted to the side in confusion.

A piercing scream echoed through the town suddenly. The familiar tone and pitch froze Rainbow’s heart with fear.


She pivoted in place, kicking up into the air with a single graceful jump, the bird all but forgotten as thousands of scenarios flashed through her mind. All of them had one thing in common, Twilight in trouble because of her.

Rainbow’s heart beat like a drum as she flapped her powerful wings, barreling down the empty street. The silence around her coupled with that single scream drove her with primal fear. If anything had happened to her friend it was her fault, no one else could take the blame but her. The top of Sugarcube Corner came into view and just as quickly she spotted Twilight sitting by the door.

She flew faster, closing the distance as quickly as she could. Several feet from Twilight she stopped flapping mid stroke. A sniffle, almost a sob turned the blood in her veins to ice. The thud of her hooves against the ground didn’t even register as she skidded to a stop beside Twilight, her breathing labored as she tried to speak,

“Twilight what’s wr...” The sight of the Twilight’s terror stricken and tear stained eyes froze the word in her throat.

Twilight’s gaze remained fixed on the interior of the bakery, oblivious to the company that had just arrived beside her. Biting her lower lip Rainbow leaned around Twilight to look inside the bakery, terrified of what she might see.

The inside Sugarcube Corner looked almost completely normal save for one single fact.

Everyone was frozen just like the bird.

Rainbow could see her friends and several other ponies gathered for the party. Most of the town was here, there was Octavia in the corner with Roseluck. The CMC were by the cider bowl with Mint Twist, their classmate. Pinkie was talking to Applejack, probably telling a joke judging by the cider the was just starting to spray from Applejack’s nose. Confetti hung in the air like the snow in a winter picture. Someone’s cake hung from the edge of their plate while they stared at it in horror while Rarity looked like she was trying to jump away from the cake as it was aiming straight for her dress.

Slowly Rainbow slid into a sitting position beside Twilight, her back legs giving out as she tried to comprehend what she was seeing.

Just what in the name of fate was going?

Why was everyone frozen?

Was the whole town like this?

Did it extend past the town, if so how far?

Her internal revelry was broken as she was suddenly lifted into the air and turned to face Twilight. Eyes livid with rage filled her vision and yet, somehow, it didn’t scare her. To much else was swimming through her mind for her to find time to be afraid of the enraged alicorn that stood before her.

“Look what you did!” Twilight shook her captive friend back and forth. “Look what you're bucking prank did!” As she  screamed Twilight’s coat lost its color and her mane and tail seemed to catch fire. “Your careless, reckless, feather brained reckless prank, look at the consequences!”

Rainbow opened her mouth to respond but she couldn’t find it in her to. All of her attention was focused inside the small bakery full of statues.


Rainbow squeaked as Twilight’s grip tightened suddenly. The unexpected sound rattled Rainbow out of her stupor and her breath grew frantic and labored as it fought both panic and Twilight’s magical grip.

“You ruined my spell and now look at this, everything is frozen. YOU BROKE TIME!”

As Twilight’s scream washed over her Rainbow suddenly gasped. “I broke..” Her friends, her neighbors, Scootaloo, everyone, they were frozen in...time? “Time?”

Rainbow looked at her frozen friends and family. The realization plunging her mind into an icy grip of panic, fear and guilt. What had she done?

“But you can fix it right?” Rainbow looked back at Twilight who had calmed a little, enough for her mane and tail to turn back into hair.

“I...” Twilight looked into the small bakery and tear trailed down her cheek. “I don’t think I can.”