• Published 12th May 2013
  • 4,446 Views, 188 Comments

The Nightbook - Sunset-Chan

Twilight Sparkle finds herself slowly drifting away from her friends as her OCD grows worse and worse. Trying to find a solution, she finds infantilism for herself. Meanwhile a cold winter approaches, bringing with it the greatest challenge yet.

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Prologue ~ In Principio

"What?" was the only thing she had managed to say, only barely intoning it enough so it was a clear cut question. The mare stared at the board before her, the writing explicitely spelling out the worst possible thing to happen in this kind of situation.

Train to Ponyville cancelled - Next train in 2 hours.

Twilight took a deep breath and – just to make sure – read the line again.

Next train in 2 hours.

For whatever reason, no matter how hard and long she stared, the letters didn't miraculously change. She was stuck here for two more hours. The lavender unicorn shook her head and turned around to walk to the next best bench she could find and seated herself. A groan escaped Twilight Sparkle the moment she had done just that. Both because of the announcement and because her legs were aching from the day's work. All of her bones seemed to cry out, and for a moment she felt a hundred years too old to do anything at all. Worse yet, now she was facing the most inevitable boredom since she had left Canterlot a year ago.

Twilight Sparkle, personal student of Princess Celestia, bearer of the Element of Magic; she hadn't thought her trip would end up bad nor had it seemed that way until this point. The small town of Maneville had some kind of archaelogical excavation going on she had heard, stuff that dated back into the times before the princesses' arrival. With her interst piqued, she had come here for exactly that. She had spent the better part of the year with her friends in Ponyville and even though she cherished the time, it could get on a pony's nerves to almost always have somepony else fluttering about. She had needed some time away from it all.

Even her own trusted assistant had been going on her nerves recently. Every time she tried to read, Spike would find some way to distract her and if not, somepony else would go and demand her attention, be it her friends or some citizen of Ponyville. This sort of thing came hoof in hoof with living in the town library she guessed, but really, a pony could only take so much.

She had spent an entire day helping with the excavation, mostly digging in the earth or listening to the other ponies arguing the nature of the wall they had found, not that Twilight had ever seen any walls there. The disinterest in her had been a welcome change and only sometimes a pony would walk to her and explain to her the finer points of field archeology.

There had only been dirt, and lots of it too. As she had dug through it, it had made her remember her own foalhood and how few the times counted she had done anything but entertain herself with books. She remembered reading them and before she could do that, she had them read to her. Twilight had always been a – how had her father called it – a smart cookie. Things like these were fondly remembered. Be it the soft embrace of her mother as she walked Twilight through the alphabet or the applause she had gotten as she had recited her first poem. Yes, never did she have the time to play outside back then.

The excavation had given her a wonderful excuse to think about the question why she had been like that. Sure, every other pony there took the excavation seriously, and Twilight wasn't really slacking off, but as she had pushed her shovel into the dirt, the the thought of building a giant sand castle had come as strangely amusing to her. Had she ever bothered with such things when she had been a child? Twilight couldn't remember, and some part of her had told her she didn't want to.

Now, as the day began to grow darker and rain fell heavily on the roofs of Maneville she watched it coming down, wondering how much time had passed since she had seated herself. A minute? Maybe two? Twilight sighed.

There were a total of two clocks in all of Maneville, one was owned by some old coot who had lived by the dig site, the other by the station staff, a mare that Twilight had been made to understand did not like anypony interrupting her when she was doing anything in her small house on the lone platform. Considering the only times she ever moved out of her small house was to write some important thing on the chalk board it was almost impossible to get to talk to her. Strange ponies were almost completely normal for all of Equestria, as it seemed.

No matter. She was still sitting in the same place, boredom growing.

Twilight had originally planned to pack a or two books. She hadn't yet started reading the new Daring Do novel and had found herself drawn to this interesting book she had found: 'Scheduling and Planning – When you need to stop', a rare work by a giraffe who had lived a good hundred years ago. Up until this point the filly only had had little to no involvement with psychological non-fiction and had hoped to get a good glimpse at it by picking out some random book. Sadly, she had gotten someone endlessly going on about the flaws of attempted perfection or something like that.

Luck wasn't with her, as she had forgotten to pack either. Sad it was mainly due to her future plans heavily relying on how well everything here would have worked. Now the next three months were potentially ruined. Twilight grimaced at the thought. Because of her own lenience she now had to face boredom like never before and in the long run her entire life would turn into shambles. For a brief moment she wondered if Celestia would send her back to magic kindergarten for something like misplanning her life.

Twilight hoped not. At least not if the excuse would involve a not-packed book. The thought appeared rather silly to her, and she giggled slightly.

After that her thoughts just drifted around for a while as she went through an imaginary list of books she could've taken with her, up until her mind stopped at the thought that Spike was a baby dragon and she had left him at home alone. Had she told him that there would be no partying or had she forgotten that, too? What if she had not only forgotten that, but also to reinforce any fireproofing spells she had cast on the library and right now the whole place was burning. With. All. Her. Books!

Then Twilight remembered that Spike's fire was magical in nature and the worst that could happen was that he'd accidentally sent some books on a journey to Celestia. She hoped that wouldn't happen, as that would drastically heighten the chances of Celestia sending her back to kindergarten. Not only that, but she already had a new order to stack them in her mind and was intent on pulling through with it. She had no idea how much a fire could damage, but the mare was sure it had great chances of ruining everything.

Well, even if nothing happened, she still needed to collect some of the books borrowed from the library earlier than expected. Playing book collector was now a thing she needed to do and her mental list of things to do grew even taller. That gave way for the decision to write some more lists on what lists to write when she got home. A pony could never have enough planning planned.

Somehow her thoughts then went back to the book titled 'Scheduling and Planning – When you need to stop', which detailled about a certain, fairly unknown, psychological disorder.

The rain tumbled down from the roofs of the houses and even from the one that sheltered her and after a moment Twilight turned her head up, her thoughtful expression making way for a frown as some sort of realisation hit her, a realisation that could not have been true.

"I don't have OCD..."

A moment later she felt herself doubting and asked the nothingness all around: "Right?"

Twilight was gifted with a healthy brain; a brain that thought the most brilliant things, as well a natural curiosity and scientific aptitude only Pinkie Pie had ever managed to defy. She enjoyed looking for questions and answers alike and normally, she also loved to analyse things. Yet, the moments her thoughts drifted to herself the filly felt strangely filled with wroth. Her eyes remained on the ceiling above her and Twilight would have loved nothing more than to have somepony appear and drag her away from the road she was about to go down.

"Making a list of lists of checklists for checklists is completely normal, right?" And a voice in the back of her head answered: No.

Twilight shook her head and turned it, her eyes fixated on the rain, her ears listening for the soft pounding noise it made when it touched the hard surface of the roof above her. It created a vivid drumming noise, one that calmed her mind, one that made her wonder.

It had actually rained on the first day she had ever gotten any kind of mark in school, an A+, although she had completely forgotten on what subject. Was it equestrian? Math? Sports? She remembered her father telling her that she was a bright filly and her mother congratulating her.

As the drumming continued Twilight found a slight smile on her face. That was a good memory, since she found that one the starting point of her always trying to excel at everything. Succeeding had soon come easy to her, at least in most intellectual subjects the unicorn was presented with. Even a pony like Twilight Sparkle couldn't be perfect at everything, sad as it was.

She closed her eyes as she leaned back once more, letting the memory seep through her and her thoughts drift again.

Twilight was gifted, and Twilight remembered.

She had been without friends throughout her school years and it had never bothered her. Well, except for the moments when the others started ignoring her and had called her an egghead. Truth was that Twilight had quickly grown accustomed to it and nowadays the only one calling her that was RD, and Twilight knew it wasn't meant to demean her. However, she remembered and somewhere in the beginning encouraging words from her parents and good marks had been all she had.

The drumming went on, and on, like the most beautiful sound Twilight had ever heard. "I've never thought about that," she said, knowing there was nopony who would answer. She was the only pony taking this train around this time of day and the rest of the town had already gone into their homes. There, they ate and told jokes while out here, Twilight waited and started to think.

Never had she even really bothered with anypony in school, most of her relationships with other students extended to sometimes helping them with their homework and laughing at one joke or the other. She remembered the books she had read, though. She remembered all of them.

One of the first ones she had read had been about Nightmare Moon and the origins of Nightmare Night. She remembered being both scared and enthralled by the words presented within the leatherbound tome. Though the most beautiful thing the filly remembered wasn't the book itself, but a foalsitter and a brother, reenacting scenes from the book for her, scaring the little filly into laughter.

That really was a good memory, if not a bit sad in hindsight. The only ponies she had interacted with in her youth had been her closest family members and two princesses.

Sure, there had been some interaction in school: Lyra had loved reading as much as she did and in the school for talented unicorns there had been some blue unicorn who had been into fantasy novels like you wouldn't believe. They had existed but Twilight Sparkle had always lived in her own world.

Though she remembered, both of those had left her life. Lyra might've been a resident of Ponyville but was either busy with her music or with her wife. And other one had vanished, a long, long time ago. Her thoughts drifted to Trixie for a moment and she gave way to a smile as she wryly told herself: "Hopefully she didn't grow up to be like that.“

The rain answered her with its rythm and Twilight found herself acknowledging the rhythm more and more, letting it fade into the background. All the ponies she had known had either grown up or vanished, all of them except herself.

"I've never had the chance to grow up," she mused. The unicorn was the same bookworm since day one.

For a moment she wondered. Hadn't she seen a set of swings a bit away from here? If so, should she go to them?

There was nothing on the platform she found interesting and the town was so small it was impossible to not hear or see the train approaching when it would.

Twilight Sparkle didn't know what madness grabbed her that made her stand up and walk out into the rain, letting the cold water wash over her coat and mane. It felt refreshing on her sore legs and she couldn't help but finally put a smile on. Her intent had already been to make the best of this day and if the weather itself wouldn't be sunny, then she would in its stead.

Pinkie had said something like that once too, on a particular stormy day with Roseluck exclaiming what horror was happening as her entire booth on the market had been carried away by the wind.

Maneville consisted of about ten buildings that made up the main village, with some farmers living a bit more away and a woodspony residing in her own small cabin in the forest. A village so small wasn't the most exciting place in the world, but at least she had seen a group consisting of both fillies and colts running around the whole day. For them, this place probably wasn't boring.

And a place and time were only as exciting as one made them out to be, so Twilight decided to enjoy the rain after the long and hard work. Digging up shards of ancient cultures was nice – though Twilight preferred to only read about them – but spending some time with oneself afterwards? That was priceless.

Although Twilight had to admit, even for a town this small, a playground consisting of two swings seemed a bit too stingy. Well, their children seemed to have other ways to kill time. She walked up to the swings. The wood seemed sturdy, though the rain had done a number to it. Water had fallen down for the better part of the evening, and as Twilight sat down on one of the swings she couldn't help but wince a bit. Cold and wet as she was, the swing itself felt even colder and wetter.

For a moment, she simply sat there and let the rain wash all over her. She quite enjoyed how it moved through her hair and trickled down her cheeks. Those seemed like things nopony ever seemed to notice and Twilight had a soft spot for details like that. She then put her hooves on the ground and put some weight into them to get the right kickoff. For a moment the world was still and rain was falling on the back of her head as she was looking down on the ground. Easily she figured that the swing was a tad bit too small for her, but then she lifted her hindlegs off the ground and let gravity do the rest of the work for her.

For a moment, rain was splashing against her face and a cold wind was playing with her mane. Her eyes stared at the sky, black and grey it was with countless droplets of water falling from it, falling onto her and past her.

For a moment she remembered Cadance pushing a swingset, back in Canterlot, the sun above them and she remembered laughter. Warmth filled it up, this memory of hers and Twilight let it wash over herself, much like the rain. Cold spilled across her front and back as she drowned herself in the memory. Laughter was all the filly heard and then came another time she kicked her legs into the air and she remembered a pony pushing her. Strong the hooves were and a familiar scent had hung in the air as little Twily had soared up into the air, but she never thought of turning around. Never wanted to. Instead, she just took another swing, something harping at the back of her mind.

She didn't count how many times she swung forth and back but every time she did, she felt a bit of joy coming to her, and something nagging her to do it better, and in a more fun way. For these few moments she was fully content with just herself and yet it all ended as quickly as it came. The bell broke through the constant sound of the falling waters, like a mother calling her child home.

Twilight stopped immediately, looking to from where the train was approaching. She made out lights moving in the darkness. The sun was gone and Luna had taken over completely, ruling the kingdom until dawn would come. This was the natural order, but it didn't make seeing any easier, so Twilight gave her hardest to look whether it truly was the train. No matter how much time had passed, it was still raining and she was thoroughly soaked. Well, it could've been worse. There could have been no train at all and she would've needed to gallop home.

Hopping off the swing, she bid her final farewell to the small town of Mareville, where she had dug for an ancient culture, and hurried to the platform once more, reaching it well before the train had even arrived. An aside glance showed the mare who worked here updating the message on the board and giving her a wonderous look as well. Twilight must've been some sight, her mane dripping into a small river, mud all over her legs, yet the mare only rolled her eyes and didn't bother to inquire further. Maybe she had seen Twilight on the excavation, but who knew. The filly herself couldn't help but notice how she felt both happy and tired. Tired in a good way. This was the kind of feeling that was a lot better than when she had left Ponyville. She had been easily irritable before, but now that she had gotten her head clean the filly was sure that everything was going to be fine.

The train arrived and Twilight hopped on a wagon, seating herself on one of the benches within. Now came the journey south and she stretched her legs, feeling incredibly drowsy. She leaned against the window as the train started to move again and she felt the cold glass against her cheek, thinking about how this had been quite the exciting day.

Then her eyes widened as she remembered something else.

She had never been on any swings in Canterlot.

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