• Published 15th Feb 2012
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Tears in the Snow - Wintergreen Diaries



Twilight sees a vision after casting a spell to see the future and ends up saving a mysterious colt.

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Accursed

Chapter 21: Accursed

For once Cerulean fell asleep before Twilight, his excessive use of magic that day combined with waking early led to him turning in rather early, and as she finished the last of her reading she blew out the light and snuggled into bed behind him. She glanced over as her hoof made contact with one of the teal leg bands he always wore, something she never really paid much attention to. She stroked them gently and gave a start as her mind was suddenly bombarded with negative emotions, the foremost of which was an overwhelming desire to scream.

She withdrew her hoof in shock, staring at Cerulean who had fortunately not woken from her sudden movement. His breathing was normal and there was no snow around, so she couldn't have been sensing a nightmare of some kind. But if not a nightmare, then what? She touched it a second time and was again filled with the darkest of thoughts. She withdrew her hoof and stood, a rising fear flooding her senses. She attempted to encircle the band with magic but immediately stopped, a searing pain shooting through her skull as the hatred came in much stronger. Twilight swallowed hard, debating whether she should wake Cerulean or not. Summoning her courage, she simultaneously grabbed both leg bands and yanked hard.

Bangles gasped as the runes on her leg lit up, dropping the files and stepping back. The corners of her mouth curled into a grin as she closed her eyes and poured the full weight of her malice into the runes, transfering her thoughts and intentions to Cerulean.

"Writhe... You shall always be alone, abandoned and forsaken. There is no escape."

Cerulean screamed in agony as a massive blizzard exploded from his horn, throwing Twilight against the railing and nearly sending her plummeting to the main floor. A black mist began seeping from his legs and swirling around within the snow that swept the room.

"Cerulean, wake up! Please, wake up!" she pleaded desperately, but her voice could barely be heard over the howling gale.

"Twilight, what is this? What's going on?" Spike shouted, terrified as the frost began to expand. Twilight teleported Spike to herself and ran him outside. As she turned to return she stopped short, the raging ice already having made it to the doorway. Spike jumped in front of her as she tried to enter. "Twilight, there's no way you can make it through that storm!"

"I have to try, Spike! This is my fault, I can't just let him suffer alone," she screamed, knocking Spike aside and dashing inside. The second story had already frozen solid in an ever expanding wall of ice, with Cerulean at it's center. His body quaked as it was wracked with pain, every nerve ending seeming to be ripped out as the shadows continued to flow from his legs. As the darkness wrapped around her, Twilight could feel the hatred flooding through her mind, threatening to drive her mad as she pressed forward. She summoned her magic to create a barrier, but it took all her effort not to be overwhelmed. "Cerulean, make it stop! Please, wake up!" she shouted, pounding against the wall of ice that was steadily creeping down the stairs.

"Twilight, get out of there! You're going to die if you stay!" Spikes voice pierced through the mist, and Twilight grabbed a parchment and quill before dashing out of the house. She grabbed Spike and continued to run before turning and watching in horror as the whole house was consumed, forming a solid pillar of ice. It stretched towards the sky, at least a good thirty or forty feet into the air before slowing to a stop, the high winds still whipping around the epicenter.

Princess Celestia woke with a start as her horn recieved the incoming message. All formality had been abondoned as the whole scroll was dominated by a single word.

"HELP"

She immediately recognized Twilight's writing and threw open the windows, making straight for Ponyville without hesitation. Even in her most desperate of times, Twilight always signed her letters. For her to not could only mean that she was truly in dire straights. Celestia pushed her wings harder, not wanting to waste even the smallest fraction of time. It took her only a few minutes but it felt like hours, and as the town came into view her fears were confirmed by the presence of the monolithic icicle jutting out of the ground. Twilght threw herself at the princess as she landed, too terrified to speak. She wrapped a hoof around her and stared at the shadows that swirled around.

"Spike, what has happened here?" she asked, forcing herself to remain calm.

"I don't know, I woke up when I heard Cerulean scream. Then snow started flying around the room and Twilight and I hightailed it out of there. Please, Celestia, you gotta help him!" Spike begged. Celestia said nothing and approached the storm, sticking a single hoof into it and wincing as pure darkness flooded her mind.

"This magic has been forbidden for centuries. Somepony is crossing a line that should never be crossed, and it isn't Cerulean." She turned to face Twilight, who was making an extreme effort to calm down, focus, and remain rational.

"Forbidden magic, Celestia?"

"Yes, Twilight. This is a curse, and a strong one at that. And I would guess that it's been building intensity for years, judging by the strength of the reaction." Spike took a step away from Twilight, her expression turning murderous as her teeth ground together.

"Bangles..." she whispered to herself as the anger began to control her, her thoughts darkening just like the shadows that had ensnared Cerulean.

"Twilight!" Celestia bellowed, tearing her back to reality. "Do not let hatred breed in your heart, lest you share a similar fate." Twilight hung her head, completely beside herself with worry and helplessness. Celestia's expression softened as she wrapped Twilight in her arms once more. "All is not lost, there is yet hope. However, even my powers alone will not be enough to break the spell. I will return with Luna. Meanwhile, go and gather your friends. The Elements of Harmony will be necessary to save Cerulean." Twilight nodded weakly, barely feeling the strength to stand. "And Twilight, do not attempt to enter that house." With that, Celestia took flight towards Canterlot.

"Hang on, Cerulean. Don't give in," Twilight said softly before taking off towards Sweet Apple Acres, channeling her anger into determination and forcing her legs to move. Applejack was sound asleep when her door slammed open, causing her to tumble to the floor. She would have complained but a single glance at Twilight told her something was very wrong. "Applejack, I need your help. Please, help me gather the rest of our friends, we need the Elements of Harmony to save Cerulean and..."

"Well what are we waiting on? Let's git goin' Twi!" she said, bolting out the door before stopping briefly. "I don't need all the details, but if our friend is in trouble then we're gonna help 'im. I'll tell Fluttershy to get Rainbow Dash, you head t' town an' get Rarity and Pinkie Pie. Where should we meet?"

"The library, you... you won't be able to miss it." Applejack ignored the enigmatic answer and made for Fluttershy's cottage while Twilight teleported into town and gathered Laughter and Generosity. As they made their way to the library they found the other elements staring at the blizzard, their confusion and anxiety clearly displayed.

"Twilight, what's going on? Is Cerulean doing this?" Rainbow Dash asked, pointing a shaking hoof at the pillar.

"He's been put under a curse, a forbidden magic." There was a unified gasp at the statement, the friends looking at one another.

"What kind of mean meanie would do something like that to Cerulean? That doesn't make sense," Pinkie Pie pondered aloud. Applejack's gaze darkened as she and Twilight exchanged knowing glances. Celestia and Luna landed a short distance away from them and approached.

"Thank you for coming, everypony. Luna and myself will combine our magic to create an opening in the storm. You all must get as close as possible and use the Elements of Harmony. That should be strong enough to temporarily dispel the curse."

"Temporarily?" Twilight repeated in disbelief. "There's magic that is stronger than the Elements of Harmony?" Celestia and Luna exchanged worried glances before speaking.

"Twilight, I am familiar with this particular spell. Conditions are set by the caster, and once they are broken it causes a terrible pain that eventually destroys the mind. Cerulean must have found a way to keep it from activating, but something disrupted it. Hast thou any idea what it could be?"

"I removed his leg bands, but how would that?.." she stopped. "It doesn't matter, we need to help him. Please Celestia, Luna..." she turned around. "My friends... please, help me save Cerulean."

"Sugarcube, you couldn't stop me if ya tried. C'mon, princesses, let's git this show on the road!" Applejack exclaimed, her friends raising a loud cheer. Luna and Celestia approached the gale and crossed horns, emitting a bright light that pierced into the storm and melted a path into the ice. The mane six entered, sticking close so as to not be tainted by the dense black mist that filled the library. The path in the ice only made it to the base of the stairs, where they stopped and looked towards the second story. The six elements began to shine as their magic energy combined, shooting forth a brilliant rainbow. As the beam hit the ice it filled the library, banishing the darkness and evaporating the ice.

Cerulean fell to the floor in a heap, his shallow breaths barely making a sound. The other elements gathered around as Twilight ran up the stairs and held him in her arms, staring at his forelegs which were coated with blood. Twilight levitated a towl out of the bathroom and began to wipe it away to reveal the true nature of the curse. Where his leg bands had once been there were words carved into his flesh, and traces of scar tissue could clearly be seen. Blood slowly seeped from the words, one leg reading "Forsaken" and the other "Abandoned." Twilight had no time to indulge her growing hatred for Bangles as Cerulean came to, coughing weakly and whimpering from the lancing pain shooting through his legs.

"Cerulean, I'm so sorry... I didn't mean for this to happen," she whispered, hanging her head in shame.

"Four years..." Cerulean said weakly. "For four years I kept the curse at bay by never letting anypony gaze upon the scars, nor letting them know of their existence. And just like that, you..." Twilight reached her hoof towards his face when he caught her hoof firmly in his own. "What gave you the right? Why, Twilight?" he demanded, using what little strength he had left to flood his voice with anger. His vision wavered for a moment before fading to black as he mercifully lost consciousness. Twilight sat stricken, his words cutting deeply into her heart. She had no excuse. She sensed the danger and ignored it anyways.

"I'm sorry, Cerulean... I..." she choked out before losing her ability to speak, tears falling onto Cerulean's face and running slowly down his muzzle before dripping to the floor. Celestia approached and lifted Cerulean onto her back.

"Twilight, I am going to take him back to Canterlot. The curse yet remains, and I will do everything in my power to set him free. In the mean time, please try to find a way to apologize." Luna followed Celestia out, and Twilight's gathered around and silently offered their sympathy, holding their friend and wishing for an end to the sadness. One by one they filed out until Applejack alone was left with Twilight.

"Applejack?" Twilight said hesitantly, causing her to turn.

"What is it, Twi?"

"Could you..." she stopped. "Could you stay with me tonight?" she whispered, too exhausted to cry any further. "I don't want to be alone." Applejack wrapped her in a warm embrace as her soothing words eased Twilight's burden, if only by a small amount.

"Of course, Twilight. C'mon, you need t' get some rest." Twilight feebily crawled into bed, and Applejack climbed in beside her, holding her tightly. She was relieved to hear Twilight's quiet snores shortly after. Applejack couldn't really understand everything that had happened that night, but she was glad that it was her Twilight had asked to stay. They hadn't really spoken much since she had kissed Cerulean, even when they gathered for ice cream just hours before, and she took Twilight's request to mean that she was indeed forgiven. She closed her eyes and wished for Cerulean's swift recovery, as much for Twilight as for herself.

The princesses returned to their rooms and shut the drapes after barring the door. The guards had been instructed not to interfere, regardless of what they heard. The captain cringed as he heard blood curdling screams coming from behind him, closing his mind and trying not to think about what could be causing the mournful howls. It took a four hours to dispel the curse, and Cerulean's body slowly lowered to the floor as they finished. Opening the door she beckoned the captain inside, who quietly obeyed, trying not to gaze at the crimson puddle in the center of the room.

"Captain, please take this stallion to Twilight's old room, and post somepony inside the room at all times so we will know when he awakes. And please, clean his wounds." He nodded, lifting Cerulean onto his back and making straight for Twilight's old bed where he deposited him and posted a guard as instructed. The guard set about washing the blood away that coated his legs, shaking his head as he wondered what had happened though not daring to ask questions.

Sleep, or at least restful sleep, fled from Twilight that night, and she felt anything but refreshed when she awoke the next morning. Applejack lay beside her, still fast asleep, and Twilight quietly arose and wandered downstairs. She quickly drafted a letter to Princess Celestia asking how Cerulean was doing before nudging Spike into wakefulness just long enough to send it. He was just about to fall asleep again when he exhaled the message which Twilight grabbed immediately. Hope crept back into her heart as she read the message.

"To my Faithful Student Twilight,

Cerulean is going to live. The process to remove the curse took quite some time and was extremely painful for him, but was fortunately successful. As of now he has not awoken since losing consciousness after the procedure, but I think it would do him good to see you. Please come to Canterlot as soon as you are able.

Your Teacher,

Princess Celestia"

Twilight knew exactly what she needed to do. Applejack watched her silently as she prepared to leave, grabbing her journal and socks and stuffing them into a saddlebag, along with some quills and parchment. As much as Applejack would have liked to go, she knew that this was something for the two of them to work out themselves.

"Twilight?" She stopped packing at the sound of Applejack's voice. "Bring Cerulean back. Don't let 'im run, no matter how hard he may fight ya. That colt needs friends, especially now."

"Don't worry, Applejack. Even if I have to hogtie him, he's coming back," she asserted, steeling her will. As she opened the door to leave she stared in shock at a rather large box that had been deposted just outside, an envelope attached to the side.

"Cerulean,

Sorry I couldn't get these to you the day of your little excursion, it was a rather large order after all. You sure know how to win a mare's heart, giving her a mass of dusty books. Only one mare I know of that would possibly enjoy such a thing, and she's much too good for you. Oh well, best of luck!

Francis Lingua"

The box was too large to fit through the door, so she opened it there. Inside were new copies of every single book that had been destroyed by the shower water, and even the ones that had been deemed to be of acceptable condition after. So this was the surprise package he mentioned... Truly, she would have been ecstatic on any other occasion, but the gesture only fueled her desire to repair things between them.

"Spike! Come move these inside, I've got to go to Canterlot! I'll try to be back by tomorrow afternoon!" Taking a quick trip to Carousel Boutique, she threw herself at Rarity's mercy. It was a thoroughly unnecessary act as Rarity readily fulfilled Twilight's request, and she stuffed the gift into her bag and made straight for the station. She arrived in Canterlot around noon, and made a short detour to give Francis her regards.

"Twilight! I'm glad you came, actually. There was something I meant to stick in the package but it completely slipped my mind," he said as cheery as ever. "Speaking of, how did you like your little gift?"

"Firstly Francis, it wasn't little. And I've got to admit, nothing yanks my heart strings like a couple dozen books," she replied, flashing a smile. He chuckled and continued rummaging around behind the desk.

"Ah, here it is. Give this to Cerulean, I think it will make his day." He handed Twilight the unofficial copy of "Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone" that Cerulean had never received.

"He never came back for it?" Francis shook his head sadly.

"He couldn't even walk through town after the trial four years ago, so he left shortly after being released. Didn't even say goodbye to his friend, it must have torn him apart inside." A sudden inspiration struck Twilight.

"Francis, do you know where Lemon Chiffon is now? Is he still here in Canterlot?" Francis smiled as he sensed her intentions, nodding his approval.

"He's just down the way at that fancy restaurant on the corner, now what was it called?" Twilight stuffed the manuscript in her bag, yelling her thanks over her shoulder. She knew the place, having eaten there a time or two. She burst through the door, causing all the upper class ponies to stare at her disdainfully as she tore into the kitchen. Lemon was difficult to miss, as he towered over everypony else. That, and he had the trademark hat of the head chef to match his cutie mark. He was constantly moving around the kitchen, making sure everything continued smoothly and the quality was unrivaled. The staff all turned and looked at Twilight with surprise as she marched straight up to him.

"Lemon? Lemon Chiffon?" The kitchen staff began whispering and grinning as he beheld the mare with utter confusion.

"Uh... yes, I am. Have we met, miss?.." he said, raising an eyebrow. Twilight had to crane her neck just to make eye contact.

"No, my name is Twilight Sparkle. Lemon, I don't have time to explain but Cerulean's been..."

"Cerulean? You've seen him?" Lemon interjected, cutting her off. Twilight couldn't tell if it was anger or desperation she heard in his voice.

"Yes, Lemon. And he's in bad shape. I'd really like you to come with me to the castle to see him." Lemon's mind reeled at the prospect of seeing his friend again after all this time. As a torrent of emotions both good and bad flooded Lemon's mind, he called over his assistant and plopped his hat onto his head.

"Hold the kitchen for a day, and don't make me look bad!" He turned to Twilight, who regarded him with eager eyes. To her surprise he bowed low to her. "Please Twilight, I beg you. Take me to Cerulean."

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