Twilight's Nightmare

by Nightsclaw

CH 29.2 Visions of Historical Confections

Starlight was being carried in Twilight’s hooves as if she weighed nothing. It was hard not to feel like a toy being carried by the Alicorn. She could feel the powerful muscles moving with each wingbeat. The whole time not a single expression of effort crossed Twilight’s face. She was grinning happily, darting playfully around in the air.

Rounding a corner and tucking her wings, Twilight let them fall through a hole in the ceiling. As gravity took hold, Starlight could feel a small amount of panic build, a teleport spell came to mind. Only her trust for Twilight meant she did not cast it immediately. 

Suddenly Twilight spread her wings, one powerful flap was all that was needed to arrest their fall. As thick dust scattered around the room, Twilight’s rear hooves set down on the broken tiled floor with a faint click.

Slowly the dust settled, revealing their surroundings. The ruined kitchen had most definitely seen better days. Starlight could not even imagine what it would have looked like in its prime. Currently, it was only barely identifiable as a kitchen. The large fireplaces and work surfaces were covered with debris from the ceiling and overgrown with plants from the Everfree trying to reclaim the building with its wild nature. 

Some of the happiness faded from Twilight as she looked around. Starlight could feel the slump to her teacher's body as she carefully set her down on her own four hooves.

Starlight could not figure out why the sight of the ruined kitchen caused her friend to fall into such a state of melancholy. Twilight walked over to a high shelf and looked mournfully at the remains of a shattered jar on the floor. With her aura, she picked up the pieces, slowly fitting them together, rotating what Starlight could see was now taking the form of a cookie jar.

What is going on with you? Starlight wondered to herself. Was that a tear in Twilight’s eye?

With a flash of magenta magic, the cookie jar was whole once more. A hint of a smile played across Twilight’s face as she started to place the jar atop the highest shelf. She paused seemed to nod to herself and teleported the jar away.

Starlight took a single step towards Twilight, whose head snapped around, for a moment eyes with an alien intensity looked out from her friend’s face. Twilight blinked in confusion, it seemed as if she had forgotten Starlight was there.   

“Twilight?” Starlight asked, careful not to take another step. Something in Starlight just knew that doing anything to startle the mare would end badly.

The strange look in Twilight’s eyes faded, another blink and it seemed Twilight had returned, her friend, her teacher, smiled back at her. The feeling of danger receded, being replaced by the warmth of her friend’s kind eyes. 

“Yes? Are you ready?” Twilight asked eagerly.

Starlight nodded, she would have to be careful for now. She needed to find out what was wrong with Twilight. The Elements of Harmony were keeping secrets ever since Twilight returned to Ponyville. She had no clue what it was, no one did. Something had happened while she was away. There were rumours of a falling out between Twilight and Celestia. Add to that how strange Twilight was acting today, plus the events from the temple that she was doing her best not to think about.

Starlight knew she needed to talk to somepony but who? Princess Luna? Princess Celestia? Spike? 

“Equestria to Starlight?” Twilight’s soft voice asked.

Starlight looked back at her mentor. “Sorry, I got lost in thought there for a moment. The spell, right. How far did you want to look back?”

“One thousand, one hundred and twenty-two years, four moons and six days,” Twilight said tapping a hoof to her chin. “Less three hours.”  

“You want to look back how far?” Starlight asked in disbelief, not only at the amount of time but how exact Twilight’s target was.

Twilight smiled. “I just need you to cast the spell, I will be providing most of the power.”

“Still, that's a lot of magic… are you sure you’re up for that?”

“Yes,” Twilight stated confidently.

Starlight looked a little unconvinced. “We are not skipping any of the safeties.” 

“Of course not, too much good has happened to take that risk,” Twilight concurred, “Now please cast the spell.”

“Why are we doing this again?” Starlight asked.

“We are finding the recipe for... some of Luna’s favourite foods that have been lost to time,” Twilight said. Starlight could not help but wonder what her friend almost said.

“So definitely no torture, screaming, monsters or things that will require Lunas help for the next month?”

Twilight advanced upon her, moving closer, a little too close for comfort, with the slightly strange look in her eyes. “This is just preparing for a celebration. The time we're looking into will have nothing untoward to be seen.”  Twilight said, pressing against her as she started massaging Starlight’s back and shoulders, “Now just take a breath and calm down.” 

On one hoof she had no idea where Twilight had gotten so good at massages, if she were at the spa, she would happily relax against Twilight. Given they were in the middle of the Castle of the Two Sisters deep in the Everfree and Twilight seemed as stable as one of Pinkie Pie’s towers of cakes… she was more guarded. 

Starlight nodded, still a little worried as she started to cast her spell. Twilight moved closer, still placing her hooves on Starlights shoulders as she slowly lowered her horn to touch both of theirs together. 

Starlight felt small, Twilight was physically bigger than her, something that she never really noticed in everyday life. Now she was looming over her. The knowledge of how physically strong she was almost made her tremble. The power radiating from Twilight’s wellspring was more than enough to daze a lesser pony.

“Just concentrate on the spell,” Twilight said, her tone soft and calming. Starlight could feel the fear fading, so what if Twilight was acting strange, she was still her friend. The edge of worry retreated, leaving Starlight feeling safe, she had nothing to worry about in the forest. Twilight was here to protect her.

Starlight let her eyes close for a moment, all the complexity of the spell sorting and ordering themselves in her mind. It was second nature to her to adjust all the needed variables. Over a thousand years? She almost wanted to laugh. Twilight said she had enough power, and it was not like her to be wrong about the math.

She pushed power into her horn as she started the spell. She had nowhere near enough magic to reach that far back. A blazing magenta light illuminated the room as Twilight lit her horn, pouring power into the spell. 

There is so much. Starlight's eyes went wider and wider. And itch, tickling, a warm sensual caress, she could not quite pin down the sensation running through her horn. She almost wanted to giggle or moan with the sensation, but she could not quite figure out which to do. 

Twilight slowly pulled her head back, leaving a sun-bright line of magic connecting their horns. A cocky knowing grin sat on her muzzle. As the draw of the spell increased, Twilight did not even react as more and more power flowed in from the Alicorn. 

Starlight may not of had the same head for numbers as Twilight did, but she knew when she was feeling so much power that numbers ceased to matter. Once again she was grateful she ‘battled’ the Princess of Friendship, and not the Armoured Alicorn she knew could casually throw death spells around that had escorted her to the temple. 

Despite the calming presence of Twilight, the increasingly intoxicating feeling of the unlimited power bending to her will, caused a fearful shudder to shock Starlight’s body. If anything went even slightly wrong, she knew she would be dead, completely desegregated before she knew what had happened.

A single wing wrapped around her in a reassuring embrace. Starlight leaned into it, using the physical contact to ground herself in the moment.

Pushing aside her fear, Starlight turned her attention to the room around her. The damage of centuries was restored in a few heartbeats. The sheer amount of power being channelled through Starlight’s horn should have had her rolling on the floor in pain or have blown her head clean off, but neither happened. 

It took a few moments to realise most of the power was not flowing directly through her horn’s ley line. Instead, it was perfectly mirroring the patterns it was making so closely that any adjustments Starlight made were instantly copied by Twilight's spell work.

If Twilight had said what she was going to try, or how much power she would be using, Starlight would have refused outright. She was glad she did not. Just seeing this magic was giving her so many new ideas she might be able to use. 

Starlight turned her attention away from the arcane and focused on her mundane senses. The world of the past sat there. If it was not for the safety on the spells, she could reach out and touch it. 

Ponies rushed around, preparing for some sort of feast. A little of the food seemed familiar, but for most of the dishes, she had almost no idea what they were. Twilight trotted over and reached out to snatch a star shape confection from the side, her hoof passing right through it. Twilight growled, before shaking her head.

Twilight sat on her haunches looking around, fondly casting her eyes over the ponies. It almost seemed as if she knew them. A dozen scrolls burst into the air around her, each picking a pony and following them with text appearing upon them. Starlight glanced at one. It was recording everything that pony was doing, even sketches were drawing themselves. As more text was written, the scrolls kept getting longer and longer.  

Twilight looked to the doorway and let out a thoughtful hum. “Stay here,” Twilight said in a gentle voice, but the edge of command was firm. Starlight felt her bodies unwillingness to move despite her mind's desire to follow and find out what her teacher was up to.

A pulse of magic reinforced the time spell. Perhaps Twilight was just moving further afield? Another pulse and one of the magical safeties was carefully parted. Panic rushed through Starlight, she had to do something but channelling this much power left her paralysed. She could not stop the spell without Twilight dialling back her magic. The best result would be an explosion. Did she plan this?

A blue aura enveloped the past’s cookie jar and floated it over to the window. A young teenage Princess Luna had a huge victorious grin as she stole a hoof full of ill-gotten cookies before stealthily returning the jar to the top shelf.

The main cook smiled, flicking her eyes towards the window. The rest of the staff did their best to keep their laughter silent as the Alicorn of the Night snuck away, ‘apparently’ unnoticed. “She is going to spoil her dinner again,” one of them said.

A heavy pulse of magic made Starlight’s eyes cross, it took a few seconds before she could see anything again. She sensed the safeties of the viewing spell were back in place. 

Twilight came trotting in with a book, a few trays of plants and a box suspended in her magenta aura. The proud look on her face falling slightly when she caught sight of Starlight’s unhappy scowl.

“Twilight…did you deliberately bypass the safeties?”

Twilight hung her head a bit. A bit of shame showing on her face. “Yes, I did…”

Starlight’s expression hardened as she levelled her gaze at Twilight, “I’m not so mad about the fact that you did it, considering the closed-loop nature of what I detected. I’m more mad about the fact that YOU spent three years convincing me that the safeties were critical so we COULDN’T affect the past, THEN you go and exploit that to CHANGE THE PAST ANYWAY!” She yelled.

“Nothing was changed.” Twilight retorted and an edge of a growl to her voice before taking a long calming breath. She continued, her voice sad and almost a whisper. “I needed ingredients that went extinct several hundred years ago. The recipe was lost. I didn’t take anything from the past, though. I just duplicated what was there. The seeds that I have are taken from a jar that was still here in the present, but the seeds had turned to dust. There is nothing missing to change anything.” 

“You say you’re alright after what happened to you on that damnable altar, but the more I see of how you’re acting, the more I see that you are in fact NOT alright. You need help! If not from me, then get help from somepony. Please.” Starlight finished her rant quietly, tears starting to well up in her eyes.

A few waring expressions battled across Twilight’s face. Irritation winning for a moment before sadness claimed the day. “I will do what you ask, I will arrange a meeting with Luna and Cadance.”

“Why not Celestia?” Starlight asked.

A single mote of flame danced along Twilight mane before it faded. “Haven’t you heard?” She said, voice sounding hollow

“No,” Starlight felt her gut sink, for a moment, Twilight felt dangerous again.

“The reason I’m not alright isn’t because of the altar, It’s because of what Celestia did to me.”

As Twilight continued to explain, Starlight listened with growing horror. She had used mind control, used forbidden magic, but not for anything like that. She enslaved ponies, but she did not cut up ponies souls. To hear that Twilight was on the verge of forgiving Celestia was almost unbelievable. Most of what happened was the Warlock’s fault, the same pony who assassinated the original Twilight with a book. If it was not for how terrible the whole situation was, she would laugh at the idea of the Princess of Books being killed by one, but none of this was a laughing matter. 

If she came across the Warlock, she would have words with him. Starlight was fairly sure Twilight world forgive her for how much forbidden magic she would use with those words. It would be for a good cause though.

At the end of her tale, Twilight seemed dead and listless. All the energy had fled from the powerful Alicorn, now she was a pony Starlight could defeat. Even the power flowing to Starlight’s horn weakened, causing the world of the past around them to lose most of its colour.

Starlight collected herself, “I can’t bring myself to even imagine what that was like for you. I can’t even wrap my mind around that. But that doesn’t matter to me. You are my friend and I’m going to be here for you.” She said as she pulled Twilight into a hug. Twilight let her eyes close, wrapping her wings around Starlight. Starlight’s ribs creaked. She bit her lip as she was about to protest, but a few drops of warm liquid falling onto her back, stilled her complaints. 

Motion and a Trixie like hat caught her attention. Looking over Twilight’s shoulder, Starlight saw a young-looking Starswirl the-not-yet-bearded poke his head into the kitchen and look around. Starlight took this as a sign to end her spell. Twilight effortlessly reduced the power in turn with her until they were once again looking at the ruins of the present.

Starlight stroked Twilight’s mane reassuringly. It felt odd to be the reassuring one. She would be talking to Princess Luna at the next available opportunity, assuming she could still breath after this Alicorn grade hug.