It was a cozy afternoon, with the library being a source for warmth as the winds picked up. Kaleb was in the kitchen, reading a book as he sipped on a hot chocolate made from a small stove. Engaged on the page he was on, Kaleb didn’t notice Owlowiscious fly in, landing on a small perch on the table. The owl pecked at a small bowl close to the perch.
It had been a week since the Gala, but the week had gone by slowly for Kaleb. He had replayed the memories in his head many times, but to no avail could he figure out the context. Fluttershy had been helpful in giving him support, often trying to keep his mind off whatever was troubling him, even though she did not know. The afternoon teas have been relaxing, and his work at the farm had paid off. The rest of the Apple family was at a harvest festival in a nearby town, with Applejack staying on the farm looking over everything. She had given him the day off, and he was going to take advantage of it.
Setting the book down, Kaleb sighed and went over to the library, seeing the books that need to be put away. He took the ladder and set it against one of the shelves, moving up and reaching out to the Force. The books levitated into the air and Kaleb caught them, setting them onto the shelf. It was a simple yet satisfying task. With the harvest being done for the most part, Kaleb had stepped up and assisted in the library, often helping with whatever needed to be done.
He looked out the window, looking at the frost on the ground, his eyes moving toward the sky and eventually settling on the Everfree forest. In an instant, he felt the Force reach out to him, but there was something different. An unsettling chill went into the air, and with it came a malicious feeling, one that resonated with darkness. Startled, Kaleb leaned closer onto the ladder, with his nose almost pressing up against the glass. There was a voice, nearly a whisper that spoke to him, with an element of hatred in its veins. When it called his name, Kaleb jumped, falling backwards onto the floor as the ladder went with him.
The large crash spooked Owlowiscious, who immediately flew towards the noise and gazed over him protectively, like a mother looking over her young. Kaleb groaned as he moved back up and gazed up at the window, trying to figure out what just happened. “I’ve never had that happen before, not even during meditation. There’s a disturbance in the Force, but it appears there’s also a shroud of mystery.”
Owliowiscious hooted, pointing a talon to the kitchen. Kaleb looked at him with a bit of annoyace. “It’s not like the book. And besides, the culprit always makes their clues obvious while whatever this is hidden in shadow.” He felt guilty for snapping at the owl, but it helped cover up any anxiety to an extent. He heard a furious knocking at the door, and he heard a familiar voice of Bon Bon at the door. Opening it, he heard a rush of hoof steps as felt her close the door quickly with force.
“There are clouds made out of cotton candy raining chocolate milk. Giant bunnies, singing corn, weighted apples…” She talked, faster and more in a panic than anyone else, handing him a library book.
Kaleb looked at her with disbelief. “It’s okay, I’m sure everything is fine. Probably Pinkie playing giant Candyland again, Twilight said that the spell usually wears off…”
She was gone before he could finish and left the door open. Kaleb looked outside with curiosity and could not believe what he saw. It looked like something out of a children’s book, with cotton candy clouds raining chocolate milk, and giant bunnies roaming across the town, their thin legs stretched out so that they even towered over Kaleb. There were balls of corn tumbling across the ground, leaving their kernels lying in piles as they fell apart. The sun had begun to be obscured by the pink clouds, casting a pink film of light on the ground. Before Kaleb could take it all in, the Mane Six all ran towards the door, forcing him to jump out of the way as they immediately entered the library with Spike closing the door behind them, locking it.
“Kaleb, could you make sure that the locks on the windows are secure? Especially the balcony door on the upstairs balcony and in the bedrooms?” Twilight asked, her eyes filled with concern.
Kaleb nodded and without haste ran up the stairs two at a time, taking care to quickly sprint to the balcony to lock it. The tumbleweeds of popcorn were assembled on the balcony like giant beachballs and were soaked with the chocolate milk. Quickly running to the other rooms, he closed the windows and grabbed his lightsaber from his nightstand on the way out, hiding it in a small leather pouch that he had custom made. It made it very easy to conceal from plain sight, but still able to be drawn in a moment’s notice. He went back down to find everyone huddled together speaking in hushed voices, each having their own worry and concern.
“All of the doors and windows on the second floor are locked,” Kaleb began, eyeing Twilight with curiosity. “Do you have any idea what’s going on? This is weird, even for Equestria.”
Twilight shook her head. “My magic has no effect on what is happening. Even if it did, I have no idea what…”
All of a sudden, Spike began to cough and sniff rapidly eventually getting to a point where he could no longer hold the sneeze back. Jumping slightly into the air, he sneezed out a jet of green fire and along with it was a scroll of parchment with the royal seal on it. Applejack caught it with her free hoof and handed it to Twilight. She gasped as she broke the seal and opened it.
“It’s from Princess Celestia!” Twilight exclaimed as she quickly began to read it aloud.
My dear friends,
I have sent this letter to Spike in hopes that it will reach you in time. It is of great importance that you read this. An old foe of mine who I thought I have defeated a long time ago has returned. His name is Discord, the mischievous spirit of disharmony and chaos. Before my sister and I stood up to him, he ruled Equestria in an eternal state of unrest and unhappiness. Luna and I saw how miserable life was for all ponies of Equestria alike, so after discovering the Elements of Harmony, we combined our powers and rose up against him, turning him into stone. The spell must have been broken since Luna and I are no longer connected to the Elements, so it is you who must wield them against him. However, I have discovered that the Elements, which had been in Canterlot Tower, have gone missing and the spell that protected them has been broken. You must find the Elements and defeat Discord. I have faith in all of you. Faustspeed my little ponies.
Everyone froze in the room as Twilight’s voice drained out, the color almost draining out from their faces. It was a minute later that Spike spoke up. “Whatever happens now, we have to find the Elements. If Discord gets to them first…”
“We’ll send him right back into that stone prison where he belongs!” Rainbow Dash chimed in, her hooves up to punch an imaginary foe. “With our awesome powers, he’ll be toast in no time.”
The others nodded in agreement. Twilight thought for a second before speaking up. “We should stick together. It should be that simple, but something’s not right. If he has the Elements, then he could defeat us in less than a second. Why hasn’t he done so yet?”
Kaleb was the one who answered. “He may be trying to draw us out into the open, with what is happening outside being the distraction. He’s certainly powerful enough as is, why he would need the Elements is beyond me. The question I have is how he is able to do all of this.”
“The questions that you’re asking no longer make sense. For what fun is there in making sense?”
All of them turned whipped around the room as they heard the disembodied voice speak. There was a mysterious scurrying around the room that increased, with the occasional small movements of books. A giant outline of what appeared to be a snake was seen, but it was nearly invisible with a clear sheen that was meant to indicate movement. Blending in like a chameleon, the body whipped its way around the room, stretching to a length of over one hundred feet as it coiled around them and made its way up the ceiling, stretching upside down as they the nearly invisible head slowly made its way down. “I must say, being trapped in stone for over a thousand years is very lonely, but then again, it does give you time. Time to think but also to plot your revenge. Things in Equestria have become quite boring since then.”
Fluttershy instinctively inched towards Kaleb, who had his eye on the ceiling. The rest of the ponies had their eyes at various spots around the room, trying to comprehend what they were seeing. Finally Rainbow Dash broke the silence. “Show yourself, or are you afraid of us?”
“Very well, Rainbow Dash.” With a shimmering movement, the body became clear to reveal a mishmash of various animals, with the fur of a bear and the tail of a dragon. The head was dangling upside down, revealing what appeared to be a donkey’s head with a dragon’s tooth sticking out of its mouth with two types of horns. As the body began to shrink back down to normal size, it revealed the legs were from a goat and a dragon, with the arms being from a griffin and another creature. The red pupils in the yellow eyes widened as the head moved a full 180 degrees up into its correct position, and the neck shrank to normal proportion, revealing the creature to be around nine feet tall. “It’s so good to be able to stretch after being in that position for so long.”
Twilight turned her serious gaze to the creature. “What have you done with the Elements, Discord?
With a snap of his fingers, the chair in the corner grew in size, and walked over towards him as he sat down. “Oh, trust me, the Elements are perfectly safe, Twilight. I must say, you are not quite as impressive in person than I thought you would be.”
Applejack looked confused. “Wait, you know us?”
“Of course, I know who you are, Applejack. Being frozen in stone for a thousand years, you do overhear a lot of conversations. Rarity as the element of Generosity, you as the element of Honesty, Rainbow Dash for Loyalty, Fluttershy for Kindness, Miss Sparkle for magic, and Pinkie for laughter, my personal favorite of course.” Discord then proceeded to laugh, but it was one that echoed with the screams of other creatures and animals fitting for a chaotic spirit.
The others looked down at the ground uncomfortably, but Kaleb held is head high. “Stop stalling. We know that you have the Elements.”
The legs of the chair twisted violently as Discord turned to face him. “And then there’s you. Kaleb, right? You know, I must say that you would have looked better in a tuxedo than a suit at the Gala. But what am I saying? Say I do have the elements with me, but what fun would there be in just letting you have them.”
Kaleb raised an eyebrow, and then began to play along. “For a spirit who prides himself on chaos, you sure ask a lot of questions. If you’re not using them now, then I assume that they are to bait us?”
Discord formed a small smile. “Well, my favorite letter of the alphabet is Q after all. Finally, one of you is playing along. They were not to bait you out in the open, I could find you no matter where I go, but simply to fool with you. I like to play with my food before eating it.”
The others began to look up at Discord, casting confused glances at each other. Rarity began to speak up. “So, you want us to play your game?”
Discord clapped his hands as the chair began to randomly float off the ground. “Yes! My challenge to all of you is one of twists and turns, oh so many of them are my master plan. Just make sense of this change of events, and you’ll find them where you began.”
Twilight looked at the others, discussing the challenge in hushed voices that not even Kaleb could hear. Turning back to Discord, she responded tactfully. “We’ll play your game Discord, as if we have a choice.”
Frowning slightly, he moved his head and gazed at them all. “I would hope that you would be more enthusiastic that I’m sparing your life for now, Twilight but no matter. You’ll all start to have fun in no time.” With a snap of his fingers, the library before them turned into thousands of playing cards which scattered in the wind, leaving a barren wasteland where all of the buildings in town had turned into playing cards and scattered among the wind. They twisted and snaked around the group, forming a barrier that they could not see out of or leave, with only the sound of the wind and a creepy song playing out of an old music box that was floating and dancing around. Eventually, the music slowed down and with the breaking of strings, the cards vanished into dust to reveal what lay in front of them.
A giant hedge maze had been formed, with walls up to ten feet high and appearing to stretch across the vicinity of the town. It appeared to almost go on forever, with the ending appearing to be a little bit into the Everfree forest. There were gray clouds forming in the sky, blocking out all sunlight, appearing to fit the mood. A mist formed over the top of the hedges, obscuring the maze itself.
“Nothing like the twists and turns of a maze for a great game. Nothing special really, just something inspired by the labyrinth of hedges that I started at for over a thousand years. Speaking of which, I may have just given you a clue for our first rule. Just look around.”
Kaleb heard the screams of terror as he realized what Discord had done, nearly fainting himself. The horns of Twilight and Rarity were gone, along with Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash’s wings. Each pony looked paler than before, and Fluttershy moved closer to Kaleb, leaning up against him. Kneeling down slightly, he looked at Fluttershy, seeing how faint she was but also on the verge of panic. “Just breathe with me and keep your eyes on me. You’re going to be alright, we all are. We just need to stick together.”
She nodded and followed his breathing, keeping her eyes on him as he gently said that she could hold his hand if she wanted. She did, and they did that for several seconds before she let go and indicated that she was okay. Getting up, he turned to face Discord as Twilight was now.
“Give us our horns and wings back!” Twilight glared, the anger in her voice seething.
“You’ll get them back in good time, I simply took them to make sure there’s no cheating. You see, this is the first rule of our game: no magic or flying. I couldn’t figure out what to do with you, Kaleb so I grouped you in Applejack and Pinkie.”
He must not be able to sense the Force, Kaleb thought, being careful to keep his expression blank. I must keep it hidden.
“Rule number two: you must all reach the end of the maze to win. After all, that is the meaning of friendship? Being able to do things together. The maze ends in the Everfree forest.”
Fluttershy spoke up to address her friends, coughing slightly. “Like Twilight said, as long as we stick together, we should be fine.” The others agreed with enthusiasm, their cheers echoing out among the air.
Discord smiled slightly as his mind began to turn. “But you know, true friends should be able to find each other no matter what. Rule number three: you’ll all have to start at different locations and find your way from there. And the final rule: Everypony has to play or the game is over and I win. Best of luck to you all. By the way, you might want to watch out for the sleeping flowers.” With a finger snap, he vanished.
“What does he mean…” Twilight began, but then an orange gas was omitted by the flowers which had formed around them in a perfect circle. The gas was spraying fast, and Kaleb could feel his vision getting heavier as the urge to sleep become clearer. He could see the outline of the maze through the orange mist, which was the last thing he saw before collapsing onto the ground with the rest of his friends.
Kaleb awoke slowly, with him seeing the green that surrounded him. Jumping up to his feet, he found himself in a corner of the maze, seeing the hedges that surrounded him. There was a relatively wide path that he could make out, seeing the grass underneath the mist. He began to walk slowly, looking around at the hedges, and began making turns. He wandered around aimlessly for a few minutes before pausing to think.
I need to have a strategy or else I may never get out of here. It appears that the sun is still in the sky. Maybe I could use it as a guide to make my way out of the maze. But what if he’s replicating the sky and it’s a trick? I don’t know enough about magic to make that decision. One thing is for sure: I need to find Twilight and the others.
He continued to wander through the maze, following the sun and using it as a guide. The Everfree forest was south of Ponyville so his best bet was to try to figure out which was south. Drawing on the Force, he felt its presence and outstretched his hand, trying to read the landscape to detect the animals of the Everfree. Although it was nearly the end of autumn, there should still be animals present and active in the forest.
Kaleb felt the presence of the Everfree, along with the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, beavers, and many others who had stayed. Their voices were strong, but Kaleb detected something else. There was worry and fear among the animals, some of whom were fleeing the forest trying to get away from what was bothering them. Those who stayed were hiding in their dens, the fear present in their voices. At first, he assumed that they were trying to get away from Discord’s magic, but nothing they spoke of was of disharmony or chaos. The main emotions they spoke of were terror, suffering, anger, and hatred.
He could not realize what he was hearing, unsure what was power was bringing out these emotions. All of a sudden, he felt the presence of a power which he had felt in the library call out to him, saying his name as clear as day. The negative emotions in the voice rang like a bell in his mind, and a chill crept down his spine to the core, with a small voice in his soul almost agreeing with what the power was saying. Kaleb was knocked off of his feet by the power and just like that it had vanished.
Coughing, he tried to regain the wind that was knocked out of his lungs as he tried to make sense out of what just happened. Getting back up on his feet, he realized that at least he knew which direction to take, and began to follow it, hoping that it would lead him south.
I’ve never heard of animals having those feelings so strongly. Some left, while others were left with those negative emotions. I don’t know who or what is calling out to me or causing this type of distress with the animals but one thing is for sure: that is not Discord’s magic.
His thoughts were interrupted as he heard a voice and saw that Twilight was running towards him. As they met in the middle of the hedges, he saw that she had a look of doubt but also relief. “Thank Faust, it’s you. I thought I would never find you or anypony else in here.”
Kaleb met her gaze as she gave him a small hug. Accepting it for a few seconds, he ran his hands through his hair and looked at her, realizing that her mane had become slightly gray. “It’s good to see a familiar face as well, Twilight. Have you found any of the others?”
Twilight’s face fell in disappointment. “I have but Discord must have done something with their minds. They appear to be the opposite of their personalities and all traces of what made them suitable for the Elements are gone. I don’t know how to reverse it.”
He thought for a moment before responding. “Discord said that the Elements are hidden at the end of the maze. If somehow, we could get the rest of the group to the end of the maze, then maybe the Elements can help restore them to their former selves. Discord may be a spirit of chaos, but he appears to be strict on outlining and following rules to his game. I would expect some twists and turns, but he will not lie on this matter.”
Twilight had a look of amazement on her face. “Of course! The Elements have many powers, and their magic may just be powerful enough. Good thinking on that one. I’ve been following the sun to go south towards the Everfree.”
Kaleb nodded. “I thought of that as well, but I’m unsure whether the sun is real or an illusion conjured up to trick us. I don’t know enough about magic to know whether that’s possible or if he has that type of power.”
Twilight thought for a second before responding. “The sun is real. Although I don’t have my magic, I know enough about the conjuring of illusions to tell if it’s fake. A sun illusion may look like a sun but it cannot generate any type of heat or cast a shadow. Since you can probably feel the heat and there are shadows casted by the two of us, I can verify that it’s real.”
Kaleb heard distant voices calling out at the end of the path, and he realized that four out of the six were there. “How did you manage to get them to come with you?”
“It’s just a matter of persuasion. You really have to know them and their strengths emotionally to appeal to them. I found them progressively as I was going south, so Fluttershy should be nearby. I’m just worried about Spike.”
Kaleb turned to look at the four ponies, who he realized had had lost the color in their mane and coats. “Since he isn’t linked to the Elements of Harmony, I imagine that he’s fine I’ll find Fluttershy along with him and meet you at the end of the maze. By the way, I discovered that Discord can’t detect the Force, and I still have my lightsaber. That may be to our advantage.”
Twilight breathed a sigh of relief.” I’ll see you at the end of the maze, Kaleb!” As she was leaving he called back to her. She turned around, curious about what he was going to say.
“There’s something else, Twilight. Something else is at play here, something powerful that I sensed. There’s an overwhelming power coming from the Everfree Forest, and I can tell you that it’s not Discord’s magic. I can’t describe it, but I urge you to please be careful,” Kaleb said, his voice quiet but still with urgency and a sense of alarm.
“Thanks, Kaleb. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out.” Waving, she turned around and went back towards the others, who followed her as she continued on south in an eastward direction.
Kaleb sighed as he got up and began to walk southwest. He moved with urgency, but also with delicate care, as to avoid alerting anything to his presence. For the next twenty minutes, he moved this way, his senses on edge looking for any signs of danger. Eventually, he brought his hands in front of him for balance and kept them close to the ground to detect any signs of movement. As he adapted this familiar position, he saw an image forming in his mind and before he could realize what was happening, the image began to play out.
The small freighter moved through the atmosphere well enough, but it still wasn’t perfect. Kaleb felt the shaking of the walls as the storm billowed through the sky. Each small gust of rain and wind felt like a gale and with each clap of thunder then entire ship would shudder and groan in pain, as if getting ready to fall apart. The only lighting besides from the lightning was from small emergency lights on the walls, which flooded the ship with both a blue and red light. Often times, they would flicker causing a strobe effect, with each one fighting for control of the other.
The stream of emotions that Kaleb was going through right now were just as conflicted as the lights. There had been this anxiety that had plagued him over the past few months, appearing after an undercover mission. Although he had had anxiety in the past, it had never been this consistent, nor had it ever conflicted with his meditations. His anxiety and worries began to increase, and although it had been difficult at first, he sought Master Yoda’s help in improving his meditations, learning how to bury the emotions to find harmony and balance in the Force. This helped to an extent, but not as much as he hoped. There was still trouble concentrating and sleeping at night, along with difficulty remembering certain things that had happened on his missions. It was almost as if steel walls had been placed in his way so that he could not see, and with each push came a fogginess and a feeling of panic and depression.
Sighing, Kaleb put on his navy-blue rain equipment that would blend into the night. The poncho was customized to be similar to a Jedi cloak, with a normal-sized hood. Due to time constraints, this was all that Master Johanna brought him, and although it was not ideal he would have to adapt. The thunder shook the ship, and the cockpit door opened. Closing it quickly, Master Johanna sat down across from Kaleb, the hood of the rain cloak not being up. She looked at him with a quiet concern.
“I’m not to fond of thunderstorms either, if it makes you feel any better. This was the only ship that they had available in a short time.”
Kaleb was still looking at the floor. “Just next time, get a ship that’s less cramped. I’ve never been fond of small spaces, especially in the dark.” He looked back up at her. “I’m sorry, I guess I’m just letting this anxiety get to me.”
She waved a hand. “It’s okay, I can’t blame you. This mission just came up out of the blue.” Looking around to make sure that they were alone in the main cabin, she sighed before talking again. “I know things have been rough, Kaleb, especially with the volume of undercover missions. How have your meditations been?”
“Master Yoda has helped a little. I’ve been focusing on going back to the basics of the Code, trying to embrace the balance and harmony of the Force while not acknowledging these emotions. He says that it is the one way to find inner peace and balance.”
Johanna frowned slightly. “He and I have a slight difference of opinion on that. Then again, I’m not on the council. Anyway, this is something that I will be talking to you about later. Just try and clear your emotions and thoughts, maybe go through some of the breathing techniques I taught you.”
Kaleb looked up at her, surprised about the harshness in her tone. She realized what had happened almost immediately. “I’m sorry, I should not be putting my frustrations on you. I think I may be more nervous for this mission than I realized.” She softened her tone even more, reflecting sympathy for him. “Things will be easier when you become a Jedi Knight. There won’t be much of a need for undercover missions anymore and hopefully this war is over soon.”
He offered her a small smile. “I may have fought with a staff more often, but it feels good to be back to a lightsaber. Let’s just hope that a peace treaty is closer than we think.”
The cockpit door opened, and one of the crew members stepped out. “General Johanna, Kaleb, we’re approaching the drop zone. This storm has let up a little to give us a short window to drop you twenty feet to the ground. From there, we’ll patrol around the area to make sure it’s secure from any Separatist reinforcements. Just give us the signal when you’re ready to be picked up.”
Getting to their feet, both Jedi brought themselves toward the landing doors, hanging on to a support handle from the ceiling. The doors opened revealing the darkness below, as small lights beneath the ship went on to reveal grass. Kaleb jumped followed by Johanna and as soon as they landed the lights went off and the ship flew away. Catching their breath for a moment, the storm had died down to where it was just a light rain. He heard her voice sharp as day in the darkness.
“I’ll head west toward the village and scout out any droids that are guarding the village along with hostages. You can go east and find the Loth-wolves and see if there are any civilians that can be taken to the mountains. Communicate through the comlinks.”
Kaleb nodded. “Master Johanna?” She turned back to him. “May the Force be with you.”
She smiled and replied in kind. “And may the Force be with you too, Kaleb.” Slipping into the shadows, she disappeared in the tall grasses. Kaleb moved quickly, keeping himself low to the ground and having his arms towards the ground. Sprinting in short bursts, he eventually found his way to a small pile of rocks which he rested himself upon and looked. He saw a group of twenty villagers huddled together, many of them clutching small items. Looking around, he saw that there were no battle droids in sight, and he revealed himself to the group, to the result of many aiming their small to medium sized blasters at him.
Taking a knee on the ground, he slowly took off his hood and moved his cloak to reveal his lightsaber. One of the women signaled for the group to put down their blasters and moved toward him. “Thank the maker, it’s a Jedi!” She exclaimed quietly. “I didn’t think that the Republic would hear our distress call.”
“We did, and I’m going to get you to safety. How many do you have here?” Kaleb asked, scanning the group.”
The woman responded quickly. “We have twenty here, eight of which are children. We managed to escape the worst of the attacks and fled up into the hills, but they’re still holding six hostages. Do you have a ship?”
“My master is currently moving towards the village and she has a plan to get you out of here. I know that this is going to sound crazy but you’ll have to trust me. There’s a risk of Separatists combing the skies, so I’m going to get you transport up into the mountains where they can’t follow.” Without delay, Kaleb extended his mind into the Force and cast a wide net, searching the grasses by the mountains for the transport that would save the villager’s lives. In a span of a few seconds, he found a pack and reached out to them in urgency. At first, the leader was hesitant and mistrusting due to the attacks but saw that Kaleb would not hurt them or the villagers and they began to make their way there. In the meantime, he did a headcount and administered any type of first aid that he could, often trying to comfort the children by making the laugh.
It was a few minutes later that the pack of Loth-Wolves arrived, with the great surprise and alarm of the villagers. After assuring them that they had his word as a Jedi that they would be safe, they reluctantly agreed to let the wolves take them to safety. Although some were a little mistrusting of the wolves, they changed their minds when they saw that the children took joy in them. Once all of the villagers were loaded onto the wolves, Kaleb handed the woman a distress beacon from his belt.
“They’re going to get you as far away from here as they can and just press the button. The Republic should pick you up.”
The women thanked Kaleb, and the wolves started to sprint across the plains towards the mountains. Once they were out of sight, Kaleb breathed a sigh of relief and started to make his way back. He had only taken a few steps when suddenly he heard a crash and saw that their ship had been blasted out of the sky. Realizing that it was an ambush, he started to run only to find himself surrounded by thirty battle droids with their guns aimed at him. All he saw was the flash of the blaster before igniting his lightsaber.
Kaleb snapped back into reality as he heard a familiar voice. “Kaleb, stop, it’s just me, Spike!”
Spike was being held down on the ground by the Force, as Kaleb was standing over him ready to lunge. He held his lightsaber in his hand, ready to ignite the blade at a moment’s notice. Realizing what he was doing, he immediately released Spike and put the lightsaber away. The sweat from his forehead drenched his face, and the panic had come on stronger, now affecting his actions around him.
“Spike, I’m really sorry about that. I must have been on high alert and not noticed you,” Kaleb explained, trying to keep calm in front of the young dragon. “I don’t know what happened, I swear I was there a second ago and…”
Spike reached for Kaleb’s arm, pulling down to get him to kneel down to his level. “It’s Discord’s magic, isn’t it? Everypony is being affected by it in some way. I know you would never do anything to hurt anypony or kill them in any way.”
Kaleb nodded, pushing back the memories that had come into his mind and deciding to go with Spike’s story that it was Discord’s magic that would cause this. “You’re right, it must be his magic that is affecting me. Or at least to some extent. I ran into Twilight and she told me that the plan was to continue going south to the end of the maze. She has found Rarity, Pinkie, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash. I told her that I would find Fluttershy.”
Spike’s eyes widened with recognition. “I know where Fluttershy is! She’s not far from here, but I haven’t been able to get through to her. Discord’s magic has really affected her.” Dragging Kaleb along, Spike led him through the maze, running through various corners and paths that seemed to go on forever. Finally, after a few minutes of running, they arrived at a small circular clearing with a fountain and a bench. There was a pony facing the fountain, and it turned around as Kaleb and Spike entered the courtyard.
The first thing that Kaleb noticed was that the color from Fluttershy’s coat was gone, or at the very least diluted into a layer of gray mixed in. This change correlated with her mane and her eyes, which had an expression of indifference, but also anger as she looked at the two. Stomping her hooves on the ground, she trotted towards them with a glare.
“Oh, look what the dragon dragged in. A mess of a human who can’t even use magic to save his friends,” Fluttershy began, her voice filled with malice and intimidation. “No wonder you look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”
Kaleb paused for a moment, thinking about his words carefully. “Not a ghost, but a shadow. I know that the real Fluttershy, my friend, would never treat her friends this way nor turn her back in their time of need. Discord’s chaos may have a hold on her, but I know that she is still in there, somewhere.”
Turning quickly with a snap, Fluttershy’s tail hit Kaleb in the chest, with such force that it drove him back several steps, nearly catching him off balance. “Oh, boo hoo! This is something even you in all of your stupid wisdom can’t fix. Just go back to your miserable planet and whine to your parents. Oh wait, you can’t because they’re dead.”
Her words hit him more than any brute force did. Tears began to well up in Kaleb’s eyes as he fell back onto the bench, trying to rein in his emotions. Spike came up to him, looking concerned. “She’s not herself, Kaleb. She’s trying to get to you, you can’t let that happen.”
Taking a few short breaths, Kaleb nodded. “It just feels so real, especially with the voice. Twilight said the key is to understand them emotionally and hoping that will get them to listen. I have an idea, but I’ll need your help. Be supportive but keep your distance. I’ll do the talking and you do the nonverbal cues. Okay?”
Spike nodded, before starting to speak in an undertone. “Whatever you do, just be careful. Fluttershy is really sensitive, and I don’t want to see her hurt in any way.”
Standing up, Kaleb moved slowly to where Fluttershy was staring at the fountain. Spike hung back at the bench, watching with intensity. Stopping just a few steps short of where she stood, Kaleb spoke in a quiet voice. “You’re right, my parents are dead. They died shortly after I was born, and the world appeared just as hopeless now as it was then.”
Spike looked confused, but Fluttershy began to take up an interest, moving to face him with a satisfied look in her eyes. “The Jedi should be ashamed of what they turned out.”
“But they also taught me something, something that I learned from years of experience. No matter where you are in the universe or what stars you may see, they can lead you to the one place where you never forget: home.”
Spike nodded and gave a friendly smile towards Fluttershy as she began to look not with malice, but with a neutral expression, with her eyes giving off an expression of wonder, sitting down on the grass. Kaleb continued. “There are millions and millions of them out there, each burning red hot, being born and living their lives before dying out in a blaze of fury. Even the stars whose fires have gone out still leave a trail to guide anypony home, no matter who they are. You told me that your parents would take you up to the highest place in Cloudsdale and taught you everything you know about the stars and constellations. Even though Cloudsdale is far away, you feel close to them by looking into the night sky.”
Without hesitation, for he knew that any doubt would cause failure, he drew on the Force and knelt down in front of her. Casting his hand over her forehead, he found her mind and her conscious, feeling the immense power that Discord’s chaos magic had on her. Kaleb closed his eyes. It had appeared that she had been taken over by force, trapped by the powerful magic. I can’t and won’t force Discord’s magic to disappear, it will cause her pain. Whatever happens, I cannot add to the trauma. Perhaps… Kaleb thought to himself, now realizing that he could no longer hear the maze around him.
Kaleb could feel another mind that he realized was Fluttershy, although it was faint. Knowing that he did not have much time, he quickly began to speak. “Fluttershy, it’s me, Kaleb. I know that you can hear me despite whatever magic Discord put on you. Remember what I said about the stars: that two people can look at different stars but they tell the same stories; ones of the lost finding their way home. The stars that your parents showed you can lead you back, but I cannot be the one to break this barrier: it has to be you.”
The magic surrounding Fluttershy’s mind began to stretch and strain. “That’s it! You can do this because your friends believe in you, your family believe in you. And I believe in you, because you are stronger and braver than anyone I’ve ever met. Your kindness will change the world.”
Discord’s magic broke, and the impact drove out Kaleb from her mind. Physically, the wind was knocked out of him as he was knocked a few feet into the air and landed hard on his back. Spike ran towards him, looking with confusion and concern but an overwhelming anger. “What did you do to her!? If you did something I swear…”
Kaleb simply propped himself up looked at what was happening, pointing Spike in that direction with both of their expressions in amazement. The color on Fluttershy’s coat had begun to come back, with a faint light resonating from her cutie mark. It spread at a relative pace before restoring all the color, allowing the cutie mark to stop glowing. She started breathing, and both Kaleb and Spike moved towards her, with Spike staying slightly behind him. Kaleb saw her wings begin to flutter slightly as she awoke, and her eyes opened with confusion and alarm as she saw both of them.
“Oh my, what happened? I…” Her voice trailed off as she saw Kaleb staring back at her with a small smile.
“Welcome back to the land of the not-brainwashed. Where there are actual stars you can see.”
Fluttershy did not laugh initially, but immediately launched Kaleb into a tight hug, He could feel her chocked sobs of laughter, as she held onto him closely for a few seconds before releasing. She quickly ran over to Spike and gave him a quick hug as well, before standing to face them. “Thank goodness, it’s wonderful to see you. If I may ask, how was I able to hear you? I thought that Discord’s magic was too powerful.”
Kaleb thought for a second before answering. “Discord may be able to suppress unicorn magic, but he mentioned that he grouped me in with Applejack and Pinkie because he didn’t’ know what to do with me. He can’t sense the Force, so wasn’t able to take it away. As for speaking to you, I used the Force to go into your mind. I’ve never used this ability before, so I don’t know how I did it, but I just knew. I tried to be as gentle as I could since you were going through enough, so I did not nor would I ever force you.”
Fluttershy took in the information, examining him before speaking. “I trust you, Kaleb, and I know that you would never force anything against my will. Thank you for respecting those boundaries and those words of encouragement. Also, thank you Spike for helping out and finding me.”
Spike to a mock bow before looking at the maze nervously. “We need to get going to meet Twilight and everypony else at the exit of the maze. Kaleb, do you think you could do that again with everypony else that was affected?”
“I don’t think I’ll be able to; both because I don’t know them as well and it took a lot of energy out of me,” Kaleb explained as they began to walk south towards the end of the maze. “I should be fine as long as I don’t have to do that again.”
The three followed the sun as they went deeper into the maze, confident that they were close. Kaleb noticed that Fluttershy was back to her normal self but was still unsteady on her hooves as she walked. Spike led the way as he went back to walk at her pace, allowing her to rest on his arm. It was about fifteen minutes later that they finally arrived at a large circular clearing with two other paths leading to it, arriving to find Twilight and everypony else waiting for them. Pinkie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Applejack all argued with each other in a corner, with Twilight running towards them.
“Thank Faust you’re alright, I was so worried about you,” She exclaimed, giving each of them a short hug. “I knew you all could make it. Now all we need is the Elements. How was Fluttershy able to break free from his magic?”
“I’ll tell you later,” Kaleb explained, craning his neck as if he was searching for something. “For now, we need to find Discord and get the Elements.”
Calling out to the sky, Twilight raised her head high and spoke with authority. “Discord! We played your game and all of us have made it out of the maze together. Give us the Elements!” With a flash, Discord appeared in a floating throne, hovering slightly off the ground. He studied them for a moment before he spoke.
“My, my, it looks like you have completed my game. I must admit, it was entertaining to brainwash the five of you, but it appears my skills have been bested, beaten. Very well, you may have the Elements.” With a snap of his fingers, an ornate wooden box appeared, floating down and set gently upon the ground. Twilight ran to open it, with even the brainwashed members of the group looking with interest. The box opened, and Twilight gasped as she discovered that the box was empty.
“What are you playing at, Discord! You promised as soon as we finished your maze, you would give back the Elements!” Twilight yelled with anger.
“I did, didn’t I? Well technically, I said that when you finished my game I would give them to you, and the maze was simply the first part. The final challenge is a race back to the Elements, with the clue to the location being given by my riddle,” Discord replied with a smug look.
Twilight thought for a moment, speaking to herself. “Find them where it all began… of course! They’re back somewhere in the library! “
Discord smiled. “Exactly! I believe you will be needing these.” With a snap of his fingers, Discord brought back the wings and horns that the pegasi and unicorns were missing. “However, with this final stretch, there’s a rule that even I did not know until today. More specifically a power.”
Twilight and all of the other ponies looked confused. “It spoke to me a few months ago at first, but it was so tempting that even in a weakened state it could still reach me. The power it holds is unimaginable in that it could take over all of Equestria, and yet can give the user so much control over others, that no one can be able to stop me. Fear, aggression, hatred, rage, suffering are the most powerful emotions we have, so why not use them?”
Kaleb’s mind was racing as Discord spoke. What he had felt today, with the Force was not normal or natural, but yet had that same sense of power that was being described. Every creature he had encountered was affected by it, either by running away or with the hatred filling their mind. A look of horror and shock emerged on his face as he realized exactly what Discord was talking about, much to his pleasure. “So then, the young Jedi does know what I speak of? You know, I knew about your powers but allowed you to keep them so that everything would fall into place.”
Kaleb slowly looked at him and spoke with a quiet intensity. “Listen to me: you do not know what that power will do to you or others around you. Just as much as it will harm every creature in Equestria, it will harm you, corrupting your mind and body and using it. You do not know the power you are dealing with.”
The Mane Six along with Spike each had a look of shock as Kaleb spoke, confused but both equally as scared with the tone that he used. Fluttershy moved towards Kaleb and asked quietly. “What do you mean by power, Kaleb? Please, you’re scaring me.”
Discord interrupted Kaleb before he had the chance to speak. “So, you haven’t told them? Do you feel it, Kaleb? The call of darkness, just answering the light that came when you crashed here? Equestria will fall under my combined powers and it will be a better place.”
“From a certain point of view, one that does not truly know the powers of the Dark Side of the Force,” Kaleb stated with that same quiet intensity, not allowing Discord’s words to get to him. “What you speak of is suicide, what makes you think that it will not kill you as well?”
“Because it will take you with me!” Discord snapped and slowly out of the ground a coldness emanated, more powerful than anything Kaleb had felt. Twilight, Fluttershy, Spike, and the rest of the Mane Six began to shake in fear, the coldness surrounding their minds as well as their bodies. Even for Pinkie, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity, their minds have appeared to be free from Discord’s magic as they jumped in alarm and all of them huddled together in fear. The clouds had turned pitch black and blocked out all sunlight, seeming to lose any hope that was left in the sky. The winds began to blow at a high speed, tearing away the maze, which vanished from thin air and was replaced by the remains of abandoned building, where many residents hid away in their basements. Discord spoke almost in a whisper snapping his fingers. “Let there be darkness.”
With a snap of his fingers, Discord’s eyes turned to black as the red pupils stayed, showing a fire that was present. Dark wisps of magical energy formed around him, turning into a tornado that surrounded him, one that projected voices of anger, rage, and hatred that only built the longer it was there. A large bang sounded over the high winds, and Discord was gone, leaving only the sound of the trees bending and snapping with fury.
Twilight moved forward to Kaleb with the others behind her, still shaking with fear. “Kaleb! What do we do? I can’t stop this!”
Kaleb looked at the fear in her eyes that were reflected in his. “Whatever you do, do not succumb to the emotions it presents, not matter how tempting it may be. Remember the power of friendship, the Elements.” He knew that control over oneself in the face of the Dark Side was the key to defeating it. “I know it may sound derivative, but it’s…”
He stopped speaking as he heard Fluttershy scream, pointing to the Everfree Forest. The others huddled together in fear as they saw what was approaching them. It appeared to be a creature, but unlike any other they had ever encountered. It stood at around Kaleb’s height, taking the exact same form as a human. Made out of the dark wisps of smoke that had surrounded Discord, with the smoke moving at a high speed creating a blurred effect that kept it’s face obscured. All that could be seen of it’s face were two eyes glowing orange the color of lava. It moved at a fast pace, sometimes launching itself on the ground on all fours like an animal. Kaleb stood frozen, feeling the winds of darkness hit him like a storm, trying not to be caught in their power. The moment of panic he thought would come did not, and he realized what was to happen.
Turning back towards them, Kaleb spoke in the same quiet intensity, this time with an edge of fear in his voice. “Go. Get to the Elements. Find Discord and defeat him. I will handle this.”
Turning back to face the creature, he saw out of the corner of his eye that they were transfixed with fear, frozen and unable to move. “NOW!!!” Kaleb barked, turning himself towards them as they snapped out of it. As each of them ran towards the library, Fluttershy flew towards him, giving him a hug that was quick yet intense before going as fast as she could with the others.
Kaleb never took his eyes off of the creature, watching it charge before it stopped before him. It snarled as it faced him, the winds buffeting them both.
“You will not take over this world, creature of the Dark Side, because I would rather die than watch that happen. I am a Jedi, like my Master before me, and I believe that the light will overcome the dark. I’m giving you one last chance to stop this now, to go back into the shadows where you dwell.”
A distorted voice came out of the creature, which Kaleb recognized as his own. “Kaleb, you think you know everything but you know nothing. I will make you suffer before you go on to the next life. Or you could join me and we will be unstoppable.”
Kaleb took his lightsaber out of his belt, holding the blade out in front of him. “I would rather die than join you. I will do what I must to protect my friends.” He ignited the blade, adapting a Soresu fighting stance, the blue light being the one source from the darkness.
The shadow charged him at an inhuman speed, taking out a lightsaber with the hilt made out of the same smoke and igniting the blade of red. Dodging it with all of his might, Kaleb moved quickly out of the way and parried the blow.
They each began a series of attacks against each other, but Kaleb noticed that this was no normal duel. His defensive fighting style was not going to hold up long against the series of barrages that the shadow was bringing against him. With the shadow pursuing him, Kaleb ran into the Everfree Forest, trying to find some advantage in his surroundings. Slowing down, he rested against a tree, thinking for a moment before he was out of the shadow’s sight, but he was mistaken. The shadow emerged from one of the branches, jumping and knocking Kaleb down, releasing its hold as he slid to a stop. Kaleb got up, his lightsaber in his right hand.
“I know you better than you know yourself. Every move, every thought you take are mine,” The shadow jeered, stalking back and forth like an animal.
“I don’t know why you take the form of myself, but I know that it is a trick. The power of the Dark Side will not tempt me.”
The creature snarled as it turned off the red lightsaber, the glowing orange of its mouth. Kaleb moved but was not fast enough. It jumped up to the branches above and then jumped down to tackle him. Kaleb moved in kind, moving towards a tree trunk but was held down by its hand grabbing his leg. Kicking it off, Kaleb just barely made it to a branch and climbed over it, turning off his lightsaber in the process. Jumping from branch to branch, he watched as the creature to his dismay continued to catch up to him with every jump. Before he could turn it back on, the creature tackled him and they both fell twenty-five feet to the ground where they both fell in a clearing away from each other.
Kaleb ignited his lightsaber as he unleashed a barrage of Ataru forms, switching to the offensive. The creature reignited its lightsaber and returned them in kind, managing to block them all and moved around him to avoid detection. Once the creature built up enough power, it jumped on a tree trunk, adapting the familiar Falling Leaf attack which Kaleb went to dodge. But the creature moved out of the position quickly and moved the blade down low, spinning as it did so.
Kaleb howled in pain as the red blade caught his ankle, the skin burning as the wound cauterized. The creature took this opportunity to pin him down, holding him so that he wouldn’t move. Kaleb was breathing heavily as he spoke each breath bringing pain to every word. “How…you know…everything.”
The creature spat as it spoke, making Kaleb feel the heat coming from it’s mouth. “I know you, I am you, I know the darkness inside of you.”
Kaleb spat back in defiance. “I have no darkness in me, and I will not be tempted.”
“The demons of your darkness haunt you in the place where you had them buried. The past.” The creature put his hand above Kaleb’s forehead faster than anything Kaleb had seen and he felt the images play out in his mind.
Kaleb ran towards the abandoned building in the underbelly of Mandalore, keeping up with the speed of his assailants as he pursued them, wearing his undercover gear and carrying a staff on his back. As he approached the building, he saw the families trapped inside the cells inside the building, their screaming loud as they banged on the glass. Kaleb ran towards them as all of a sudden, the building exploded into a fireball, sending shrapnel into his way. Ducking for cover, he ran into the burning building to see that the mother and father were dead, as the children screamed for their parents to come back to them. Kaleb jumped towards the container, but it fell through the floor onto the level below. The screams of the children were silenced as he heard the glass break and saw the red staining the floor.
Geonosis’s winds whipped around as Kaleb held his position in an armored convoy that made its way through the desert. From up above, the engines roared of Separatist bombers that came out of nowhere, dropping explosive devices that were triggered by the convoy’s movements. The bombs went off, exploding as the speeders in front of him were destroyed leaving only him and Rogue, the clone who Kaleb had been with for two years as an informant. They tried to swerve to avoid it, but it flipped the armored land speeder, sending them both in the same direction. When Kaleb landed, he saw the giant piece of metal that had entered Rogue’s leg and tried to shield out the screams with no avail. The clone begged to end his life, for there was no communications for a medical pickup. With tears rolling down his face, Kaleb buried the lightsaber deep within Rogue’s chest, seeing the coughing of the blood and the blankness of the eyes as he stared down at his dead friend. There was no burial, only a pyre and the darkness of the night with no stars to light the sky.
He heard only darkness, as his vision was obscured as he heard the sound of families of slaves being separated, the children begging for their parents to come back as they were taken to various transports. The babbling of mothers and fathers who might never see their children again, brothers and sisters being torn apart all came to him. The sound of the scuffling of feet came along with screaming from the slavers as one of the mothers shouted something as she ran to protect her children from the hands of the whip. He heard a shot from a sniper rifle, followed by an unnatural silence, and a scream as the body was torn away and the children were pushed onto that ship. Yet he did nothing as he sat in the silence waiting for orders of when to move.
Kaleb pushed off the shadow and stood up, his whole body shaking as he whipped around the forest, feeling the panic stronger than ever. He could not trust his senses which felt off, and all he could hear were the screams of those he could not save, along with hundreds of other memories. He tried running only to find that even though the bleeding in his ankle had stopped, there was no way to escape the forest. He saw the shadow moving towards him, and with a several hard-hitting blows, managed to hold it off with his lightsaber, but just barely. The shadow had conjured up smoke which formed a barrier around the circle of trees, with various voices adding into the wall of sound in his mind. This created a distraction, and the creature to tackle him again, this time the image playing out before it even hit him.
Kaleb ignited his lightsaber and jumped up high into the air as the battle droids began to fire. They appeared to come from every direction, which made it difficult to see in the tall grasses of Lothal. Every time he would take one down, there would be more coming in his direction, which made it extremely exhausting. The various voices and buzzes of the droids created an electrical storm of sound in his mind and felt it slowing. With a crack of lightning in the sky as the rain began, the droids circuited out and fell to the ground.
Sprinting as fast as he could towards the village, he could still hear of blasters and cannons being fired. As he approached the village he saw many of the homes being burnt, and spotted the hostages in the center of the village, laying dead as the fires illuminated their faces and fatal wounds. There was a sound of a Separatist ship approaching the village, and as it landed Kaleb prepared to strike, seeing Master Johanna being held captive. But as he was about to move, he felt an invisible force go over him, not allowing him to move nor speak, but just simply to stay there, hidden away in the tall grass.
The doors of the ship opened, and he heard a cough that sent a wave of fear into his stomach as he saw the cyborg walking down the platform into the village. General Grievous was wearing a white robe, which reflected the shadows of the bodies due to the fires and put his shadow on the bodies as well. The red cape was soaked in the fresh blood that was from the pile. He walked over to where Johanna was kneeled over, a look of disgust on her face.
“General Johanna, such a pleasure that you got their distress signal,” Grievous began, his cybernetic voice filled with malice. “As we speak, the rest of the villagers are being hunted down by my best battle droids and will be eliminated along with your apprentice.”
Johanna looked up at Grievous with defiance. “You will never get to them. I have full confidence that my apprentice would have saved them before they were found. You have lost.”
Grievous let out a laugh which then transpired into a cough, which left Kaleb with an unsettling chill. “It is you who have lost, general. By this time tomorrow, the people of Lothal will be in fear of what I can do and will surely panic, allowing chaos to rule their minds.”
A battle droid handed Grievous a lightsaber, which Kaleb recognized to be Master Johanna’s even at this distance. “Another fine addition to my collection. I have killed many to build it, for their blood is on the blades even though it cannot be seen.”
“What do you mean? Why are you doing this?” Johanna asked, her voice courageous, but Kaleb could see the fear in her eyes. Through the flickers of the fire illuminating the village, he thought he could see Grievous’s other arms reaching into his robes.
“The master should always die at the hands of their blade first!” Grievous roared and, igniting the green lightsaber, stabbed her in the chest before using the other blades to stab as well.
Kaleb screamed but could not move nor make any sound, as he screamed silently in his head, wresting with the restraints to no avail. Grievous walked into his ship along with the rest of the droids and the engines of the ship started as the it took off into the night. Kaleb found himself able to move again, and ran into the village, jumping over to where the body of his master was. Tears streamed down his face as he buried his head in her tunic and choked sobs came out uncontrollably. The rain and thunder of the thunderstorm rained down, washing the blood away, and soaking Kaleb as he laid next to the body. There were no stars to be seen on Lothal that night.
Kaleb found himself giving in to the anger, the hatred that billowed in his veins, the fear of these memories as he pushed the creature off with all of his might and reignited his lightsaber. These blows were full of anger, hatred, and malice as Kaleb rained down upon the creature, his emotions taking over and engaging as the shadow began to weaken, each block from its lightsaber becoming weaker every second of this battle. Every blow that Kaleb struck was for Johanna, and how he would use his anger to strike this shadow down, to make Equestria a better and safer place to live. Anger drove him over the edge, with his lightsaber forms becoming more aggressive, inching to similarity to those of Darth Maul and his method of Juyo, one of unpredictability. Finally, Kaleb pinned the shadow down. “I will kill you now if you don’t surrender.”
The shadow laughed maliciously as his eyes glowed. “Good. Feel your anger, your hatred, your fear, let it flow through you. Don’t hesitate, kill me now. Just as the one who killed them all.” With this, the shadows surround the trees began to move, each going in an opposite direction as they began to form an image that was bathed in red. Although Kaleb knew it was from his past, he was aware it was happening and this image became a diorama.
He found himself in the Jedi Temple, seeing the red sky against the windows, and looking down at the horror below, dropping his lightsaber as he confronted what lay in front of him. There were hundreds of dead Jedi, whether men or women, young or old, humans or different aliens, all of them dead. Kaleb immediately felt a panic attack that hit him harder than anyone of them had before. He could hear the sounds of the sirens, of the clones executing their orders as the blasters fired and the screams of the Jedi were heard. Looking to the ground, he found that there was blood at his feet that was on the floor, and he realized the full scope of what happened. It was as if he was the one who killed them all and it was in that moment that Kaleb realized the full power of the darkness.
“No, no, no, no, this can’t be real, no, no, I did not do this…” Kaleb babbled, looking at his hands as he felt the waves of shock, panic, and terror flood his system. He knelt down on the floor and felt the tears flow and the tremors that hit his body. He looked at his hands, seeing the blood that was now on them.
Just as he was looking down at them, he felt himself being lifted into the air by the Force, his body choking before being slammed into the ground. As he hit the ground, he did not feel the blood but the forest floor and it was not the Jedi Temple that he saw but the Everfree Forest. Kaleb realized that the shadow was standing over him, its red lightsaber close to his beating heart.
“Say hello to Master Johanna for me,” The shadow said quietly but with so much cruelty and malice that he did not know it was possible. He saw the blade moving fast and found his life flashing before his eyes, reliving the full scale of the traumatic events that had happened over the last three years.
It was unknown to Kaleb what happened next, but he saw a shock wave of light with colors of the rainbow, which disintegrated the shadow and everything that came with it. The brightness made it impossible to see, and he shielded his eyes toward the ground as the wave came. It was a few moments later that he could feel the light of the sun resting upon him.
Kaleb was lying down on the ground for over an hour or two before he got up, feeling the gash on his ankle swell up as he began to walk. He felt nothing for a few minutes as he walked: no emotions good or bad, just emptiness that filled his mind and soul. Then, the emotional pain came back: the memories, the panic which felt like it would never go away, and a sense of alarm that any threat could be there at any moment. Taking a break from walking, he sat on a tree stump and tried to calm down but to no avail.
Then came the sense of guilt which drove all other emotions to the side. As it began to set in, he was able to think. “I had no idea how close to the Dark Side I was, or what I would have become if it would have taken over. I failed; I failed the Jedi Order, I failed Master Johanna, I failed Master Yoda, Master Kenobi, Master Skywalker. I failed Fluttershy, Twilight, Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle. I’m sorry, I’ve failed you all.”
Kaleb looked out at the bird nest near him and felt that same sense of nothingness that occupied it. “My attachments have brought me close to danger, to letting everpony that I know here die, because I did not follow the Jedi Code. I let my emotions and attachments influence me too much. I have to dive into the Force, for only with it am I no longer a danger to anyone else. I must go into isolation, for it is the only way.”
With this final thought, Kaleb let everything go; every attachment, memory or emotion that was formed in his time in Equestria so far. Beginning his vow of silence, he walked out of the forest, taking a last look at the ponies celebrating before moving on.