• Published 13th Oct 2011
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The Quiet Place - Aynine



Twilight fights against sinister manipulations, struggling to overcome a deep-seated darkness within. As she battles to preserve everything she cares about, she will sacrifice anything necessary to succeed. But the price of victory may be herself.

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Chapter 31: Sleepwalker

The Quiet Place

By: Aynine

[Disclaimer: I own nothing of the MLP franchise and all rights are reserved by Hasbro and the respective parties involved.]

Chapter 31: Sleepwalker

The princesses stared in disbelief at their beloved city. The dust and ash above Canterlot hung thick in the air, casting a sickly dread over the ruination. Fires from Aurelius's attacks started to die out, but their smoke trailed to the sky and added to the haze. Much of the northern sectors were untouched, but the central plazas and far southern corner had been all but erased in the wake of the assault.

"Sister, what just happened?" Luna muttered as their gazes gravitated back to the center. "That light... It was not natural."

Celestia's legs trembled, but she forced her voice to remain steady. "It looks like it's over. The soldiers have their orders. I need... We need to find Twilight."

"Oh, Canterlot..." muttered the moon princess, closing her eyes tensely for a moment. "I should have joined the fray. I should have—"

"No, Luna! The decisions have already been made." Celestia's eyes watered as she watched her sister hang her head for a moment, hesitance and guilt shimmering in her eyes when she raised it again. "The soldiers will begin returning soon, but we need to find everyone who was fighting."

"A-As you say," Luna said, shaking her head quickly.

Celestia led a slow, mournful flight over the cityscape, her eyes gleaning the catastrophes below while darting around briefly to ensure that she could be prepared were they to be attacked. The bodies of subjects and soldiers alike twisted her stomach, the sight of destroyed homes compounding her guilt. It can be rebuilt, she tried to reassure herself, but the lives could not. She cast a glance to Luna, but the moon princess was too busy mourning the battlefield to look her way.

They touched down to the ground when they reached the epicenter of Aurelius's battle, where the explosion of light had been. Much of the land was bare from the magic used, the rubble savagely pushed outward as a result.

"Where is everyone?" Celestia wondered, her horn glowing to illuminate the area. The princesses split apart as they investigated the area, slow and cautious steps toward craters and mounds of debris. Where are the bodies?

"I do not know. This is where Aurelius was fought. Were we wrong and he was victorious? Could he have fled with Telos's body?"

The questions came as distant noise to Celestia, her focus drawn to the piles of rubble and empty landscape. No blood. No bodies. Not even remains of any bone dragons were in the area. She sighed quietly and began to turn when something in the distance caught her eye. Twilight? "There!" The sun princess bolted forward, emitting a brighter glow to expel all shadows around, Luna trailing just behind her.

"Twilight," Celestia said the same time as Luna said, "Nightmare Moon."

The Id was lying limply on the ground. She angled her head to squint at the princesses while moaning. She raised a weak hoof to shield puffy, reddened eyes from the bright light. "Princesses?"

"Thank goodness you're okay," Celestia said in relief.

"Are you two hurt?" Luna asked, crouching down to examine her body. "You seem ill, but I do not see any injuries."

Is she experiencing... eparation anxiety? Celestia wondered.

The Id squeezed her eyes shut, but no tears came out as she quivered on the ground. "She's... she's gone."

***

Trixie folded and covered her ears with her hooves as Berry unleashed a shockwave down the line of bone dragons, watching in awe as they were blasted apart by the invisible force. It streamed down the path, carving a groove through the icy field and down the ranks. It was now her turn to fight and Berry's to rest. She watched as the mighty knight fell to her haunches and lay her sword beside herself, large, strained gasps causing her chest to rise and fall rapidly.

With her horn glowing, Trixie prepared herself for the next wave, but her body protested with an achiness that touched every fiber of her being. The call for magic brought with it a migraine. Damn, I'm almost going to be bedridden after this is all over, she lamented. Her vision started to jump at her as she watched the cliff intensely.

Derpy dropped down beside the magician, hitting the ground and stumbling before she caught herself. The paladin had gashes and bruises across her body, wincing as she faced the others. She panted while wiping blood and sweat from her face, then crouched and used a sword to lean on as she rested. "I don't think you can buy us enough time, Trixie," she said, twisting her neck to look towards the central areas. "I don't know what that light was," she continued, shuddering, "but I don't think she's coming back because of it."

Trixie snapped her head to the paladin. "Don't say that again. Twilight will come back."

"Look," Berry said, pointing to the icy zone. "It's already thawing."

"Damn..." Trixie muttered as the next wave reached the top and filed into the area. The lingering effect of Colgate's Giga Freeze had expired and the dragons moved without delay towards them. "I'm not going abandon my duty!" Crying out, lightning rained down on the dragons, striking only a few down and concussing the rest. No, damn it—Not yet!

The attack had given pause to the advance, but she fell to sitting as the drain lashed at her with pain and fatigue. With the black hole gone and the ice zone thawed, there was nothing left to aid them anymore.

"We'll die if we stay, Trixie," Derpy said, driving both swords into her baldric. "If we retreat, we at least have a chance to regroup with other soldiers."

The magician rose to standing, staring ahead. She unfastened her cloak and discarded it before pressing her hooves together. "Take the other knight and get out of here," she said quickly.

"Trixie, we can't leave you here!" protested the paladin. "It's our duty to fight just as much as you."

The magician slowly pulled her hooves apart, a sphere of energy expanding between them. It crackled loudly, growing in volume as it expanded in size. "I am not letting any of these things past me! We're the only line of defense until the soldiers return, so I'm staying!"

"But you'll—"

Berry grabbed one of Derpy's hooves and shook her head. "We might not be unicorns, but we can sense a little bit of magic. I know you can feel it in the air. We can't stay for whatever she's doing." She quickly locked her greatsword on her back and threw Colgate's body over it.

"Are you sure about this, Trixie?"

"I'll be fine. You think I'm going to let these pathetic little things kill me? Hah!" Trixie's eyes flowed across the battlefield and towards Gram. The sword was still a blade of ice and hadn't melted, a mist continuing to radiate from it. "Now get out of here."

She could hear the clanging of the knights' hooves growing distant behind her, leaving her alone. The sounds of the dragons coming up the mountain became lost in the crackle of the sphere. She slowly marched forward as they arrived and filled the area. She moved towards Gram, in the center of the zone, as the dragons poured in and surrounded her. This is going to hurt.

When all of them filled out the area, cautiously watching her maintained sphere of energy, she roared and it expanded, taking all of them in the area inside. With a clap of her hooves, the sphere sealed itself and began to shrink. Confused, the outer dragons were destroyed as the edge receded, and the closer ones attacked Trixie. She crouched down into a ball and formed the smallest barrier she could over herself as the skeletal monstrosities raged about, some thrashing each other into the sphere's edge to try and survive in the diminishing space.

"Please... Please... Please..." Trixie muttered to herself as they struck at her barrier. She could feel it weakening, hearing them inflict a crack into it, but she dared not look up. Her lucky stars were counted as she realized the dragons had fought for space as much as they fought to kill her. As the last one toppled over onto her barrier, its body was erased as the sphere shrank down to her. The barrier revolted against the spell for a few seconds, but it shattered.

This is it!

One last ember of magic escaped Trixie in that moment, linking her to the frozen sword. The sphere exploded, a discharge of energy ripping through the buildings and shearing the land. Fissures spread out from the point of origin, uplifting slabs of concrete and ruining the ground. When it ended, Trixie collapsed onto the slab beneath her, blood gushing from burns and open wounds that riddled her form while other parts of her appeared to be frozen, rapidly thawing. The tip of her horn was blackened, and she loosed a languishing groan as she used her forelegs to crawl to an upright slab. Through one eye, she watched the cliff as hope waned within her.

The haunting sounds of more bone dragons emanated from it.. I'll wait for you, Twilight. No matter what... I'll... wait... She allowed herself to slide and fall to the ground, a smear of blood on the slab she had laid against. She suppressed a yelp and tried to relax through the pain, hoping playing dead would work. The last thing she saw as she closed her eyes was the dirty haze in the sky, but she allowed herself a smile before going limp.

She could hear the dragons landing, their slow movements as they scanned the area. She cursed her bright colored fur, hoping she wouldn't get noticed otherwise. It wasn't long before they found her among the rubble in the night. Please work. Please think I'm dead. Ugh... it already feels like I'm dead. Cracking an eye, she watched as it lowered its head to her, opening its jaw. Is... this it? Am I going to die? She squeezed her eye shut, her fur bristling as fear ran along her spine, the pounding of her heart filling her head. She screamed as the she could hear the creak of the jaw starting to close.

A dull clang silenced her wail, and she took a frantic breath. Her body quaked with fear in the moment of silence that followed. Opening her eyes, she could see the bone dragon with two metal protrusions preventing the mouth from closing, and she strained herself to raise her head and follow their length. They merged into a single rod with a real dragon holding the weapon, casting a grin to her.

"It is a surprise to see you again, little one. Perhaps you could use our help," Garr greeted. Trixie collapsed back to the slab in shock, her body trembling with relief and pain. She laughed deliriously as Garr stepped forward and moved the bone dragon back with the lance, then torqued it. The dragon's neck broke down into itself beneath his strength, and he spun around and brought the lance down, crushing the front of its frame.

Trixie couldn't even say her thanks as she lost her focus to the sound of draconic roars and Garr barking orders. Of course... more dragons...

***

"What... what do you mean she's gone?" Celestia choked out confusedly. "Aren't you both connected... in the same body?"

Nightmare's tear ducts had long since spilled their reserves, but the mixture of sorrow and fear hung on her face. "Something... I don't... I don't know," she stuttered. "It... It pulled us apart. I don't... I don't know!" she cried, slipping into incoherent cries and murmurs.

Luna pivoted and scanned the areas, frowning. "Where is Telos?"

Nightmare regained enough of her composure to answer. "Dead. Aurelius killed him," she replied hoarsely.

The princesses shared wide, grim looks before looking down to Nightmare. Luna watched with surprise as Celestia crouched down and stroked a hoof through the Id's magic-drained mane in an effort to calm her down. It seemed to work for her nerves, but her body continued to tremble.

"If Aurelius slew Telos, then where is the prince now?" Luna asked.

Nightmare hesitated before answering. "I don't... know. He... he was also pulled into that... light. The portal..." Celestia helped the Id to standing as she glanced around. "Where is everyone? The bone dragons... the soldiers?"

"We were hoping you could tell us," replied Luna. When Nightmare gave her a guilty a look, she quickly added, "There shall be time later to recount these events." The alicorns turned to leave, but a yellow, transparent sphere of light illuminated the southern skies. "Sister. Is that not—"

"One of Telos's spells! Could he have survived?"

Nightmare grimaced as images of the sage's final moments surfaced in her memory. Her mind played the crunching of his bones and gushing blood back to her, threatening to cripple her with nausea once more. When she shrugged off the feelings, Celestia launched herself towards the location, leaving the others in a hasty flight.

The darker alicorns chased after her, catching up as they soared over the cityscape. The walls of rubble eclipsed the tops of most buildings, and Nightmare blinked away the memory of her and Twilight defending themselves when coming to aid Telos. A roar prompted the Id to look ahead. Large, dark figures thrashed with the bone dragons in the distance, equaling their size. One held an odd black weapon one claw, brutally bashing and striking down the bone dragons as they reached it.

"Dragons!" said Luna and Nightmare in unison.

In the distance, they could make out two ponies galloping towards the castle, and Luna recognized them as the Celestial Knights. Descending, they landed in front of them, prompting them to halt. Derpy quickly knelt in the presence of the princess while Berry awkwardly bowed her head.

"Status report, Paladin," said the moon princess.

"We fought until we exhausted ourselves, Your Majesty. Knight Minuette used up her power to buy more time for Archmage Sparkle's return, but we were unable to outlast the enemy forces. Archmage Lulamoon stayed behind to ensure our escape." Derpy raised her head to meet Luna's gaze. "I'm sorry, Princess. We failed."

"It should've been me," spat Berry.

"Do not dwell. It is already done," Luna reminded her. "What of the dragons aiding Archmage Lulamoon now?"

"Dragons?" said both knights, with Derpy continuing, "She was alone when we left."

"Quickly, come with us. They may need help," Celestia said as she took flight. The others joined her in flight with Derpy beside Luna.

"We don't have much energy left, but we'll try," said the paladin as she tried to keep up.

"Oh, come on. I don't have wings." Berry groaned from below as she started to run back down the path, muttering curses to herself.

They reached the battlefield at the southern cliff several minutes later, touching down as three dragons brawled against their undead counterparts. The black lance was jutted into a bone dragon, lifting it into the air before slamming it onto the ground and breaking it into pieces. Noticing their presence, the black dragon pivoted to face the ponies.

"Greetings, Your Majesties. It seems an ally was needed in this trying time," Garr said, giving a quick bow.

Celestia nodded. "I'm glad you came, Garr."

"We owe a great debt to Twilight Sparkle, and by proxy, her nation. The freedom of the Brood cannot be measured. This is a small effort to repay her kindness. We'll talk more once these dragons have been dealt with." As he turned to begin fighting, Luna dashed ahead of him and his two allies.

"Stand behind me," she shouted, prompting the dragons to finish off their enemies and pull back. Celestia dashed to stand beside her sister as she drew magic into her horn, and formed a barrier in front of them. With a battle cry, Luna pointed a hoof into the distance where the dragons flowed in. "Black Hole!"

Nightmare blinked away deja vu as the familiar spell appeared before her eyes again, drawing in the bone dragons and erasing them. Luna's version of the spell was not as strong, drawing them in from a smaller zone, but it was still as effective at reducing them to nothingness. After several minutes, the dragons had stopped coming over the cliff entirely and Luna ended the spell.

"Is that all of them?" she asked, suddenly panting for air.

"More of the Brood are dealing with those at the base of the mountain. If they have stopped attacking the city, then the rest will soon be destroyed."

"Where is the archmage?" Derpy asked, glancing around.

Garr's eyes fell to the knights and his demeanor changed. "The mysterious Executioner of the Badlands. So, you are a warrior in service to Equestria... This is... unfortunate news."

Derpy found herself with a hoof to her swords and standing sideways to the dragon. "What did you call me?" she said, her eyes narrowing.

Berry gave the dragon a heavy look, but remained still with Colgate on her back. "What do you care? I don't see you out there."

"Berry, what's going on?" Derpy asked, not taking her eyes off of Garr.

The dragon's eyes narrowed, but he became placid. "The archmage is over there," he said, pointing to his side. Trixie lay on a stained slab of concrete, her tattered cloak reduced to bandages soaked with blood. "The little one is mortally wounded, but she will survive."

Garr and the knights stared at each other for a while longer before the dragon pried his attention away. Derpy gave Berry a confused, worried glance, but the earth knight shook her head.

Celestia reached the magician and crouched down, prompting Trixie to open her eyes. "P-Prin...cess?" she rasped. Luna stepped into her view with a concerned, but relieved look and illuminated her injuries. "Is it... over?"

"Yes," the sun princess confirmed. "Rest now. I'll heal some of your injuries." The white glow of the healing spell emanated from her hooves, lighting up the area.

Nightmare moved closer to them, trying to remain out of sight, but the magician twisted her neck to glimpse her. "Twilight? You came back," she said, smiling.

"I..."

The Id froze as she stared at her. Fear and guilt wrapped her heart, slowly constricting as Trixie's eyes lit up at seeing her, and her stomach flooded with nausea as words escaped her. No. She can't know, yet. She can't... She slowly moved closer, her guilt and grief trembling her body until she stopped moving. It'll only be until she recovers more. She cast Trixie a grim, hollow look before closing her eyes and shaking her head. Why can't I lie to her? Why now of all times can't I bring myself to lie? Fragmented memories flashed into her mind of Twilight and Trixie's relationship. For a moment, she saw the magician in the same way as Twilight had, but the feeling had vanished as quickly as it appeared. "She's not... here."

"What... do you mean?"

Nightmare opened her mouth to speak, but Celestia answered instead. "Don't worry about Twilight right now," she said in a soothing tone.

The magician closed her eyes and lost consciousness, much to Nightmare's relief. She cast the sun princess a thankful look before observing Trixie. As she watched her surface wounds close, more fragmented memories filled her head, muddling her thoughts. She gnashed her teeth and forced herself to walk away, her legs still trembling. She eavesdropped on the knights to distract herself.

"Hey, why did you call me the Executioner of the Badlands?" Derpy asked sourly, prompting Garr to turn and face her. She no longer had a hoof on the hilts of her swords, but she had remained ready to draw them.

"That is the name the Brood has given to that of a dragonslayer from the Badlands, said to have slain many dragons by themselves."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up," Berry said quickly. "The Brood aren't even from the Badlands."

"The Brood may not, but I am. You may not be killing members of the Brood itself, but you are still killing dragons." Garr lowered himself to better meet the eyes of the knights. "To some of my kin, you are little more than murderers."

"Is that what they call us? The ones fighting for everyone's safety?" Colgate said, stirring, and Berry crouched to allow her to climb off her back and stand. "We keep everyone safe by thinning their ranks, and we get labeled by their enemies? Why don't you spend a couple nights there and see if you last?"

"Blood for blood is not the answer," Garr said, his voice growing heavy.

"Well, we'll see about that... won't we?" the unicorn knight said.

"Enough," Celestia shouted. "I understand your disagreement with the duties of my knights, but your indifference should not be directed at us right now," she said, motioning to Luna. "Now is not the time for arguing the morality of how the Badlands are handled."

"I'm sorry, Your Majesty," Colgate said, kneeling.

Garr bowed his head. "You are right. Forgive me, Princess Celestia. I know all too well of the danger there, even to our own. It is not my place to judge, so far from the areas impacted."

"I know about the massacre in Draconis," Derpy said. Garr gave the paladin a questioning gaze. "With that, and that you know we've killed dragons before the recent war, why would you help us now?"

"Silence, Paladin Hooves," Luna barked.

"No, it is a fair question to answer. This one hides no malice in her heart. If you know of the massacre, by now you must also know that the entirety of the Brood's council had been manipulated by Aurelius. Those of the royal guard, and King Render himself, were not of sound mind at the time of Equestria's assault. We hold no ill will towards her or Equestria for the result of Aurelius's machinations. If not for her, the Brood would still be subjugated to his poisonous will. Are you satisfied?"

"Yes, and I'm sorry for what happened."

Garr chuckled, much to everyone's surprise, and he lowered himself to the paladin again. "We mourn the past so that we may face the future with a clear mind."

Colgate held wary eyes to Garr as she strode past him and retrieved Gram. She hesitated before pulling the blade from the ground and surveyed the area. With a heave, she pried it free, fragments of ice falling away from it, and slipped into its sheathe.

"Come," Garr said as he extended a wing to the ground. "There is still much to be done." Everyone climbed atop the dragon's back, with Celestia carrying Trixie on her own.

As the black dragon lifted off towards the castle, the Id cast an empty look to the battlefield. None of it matters, she thought as the shadow-laden destruction passed in a blur. Everything we did. Everything you tried to do... None of it matters without you. She snapped her head up as a hoof rested on her shoulder.

Luna offered her a soft look. "I know it is sudden, but this is not how she would want you to carry on." Nightmare turned her head away, but the moon princess used her hoof to turn it back to hers. "We had shared such terrible feelings for ages. I... know."

Nightmare clamped her eyes shut as she tried not to cry, but she found herself quietly weeping into the princess's neck when she pulled her close. "Why... would you take pity... on... on me?"

"You mistake empathy for pity. Ages of anguish passed us, but here we remain. Do not give up on her. You have never submitted yourself to defeat in the past, and now is not the time to begin." Celestia stepped closer and raised a hoof, but Luna shot her a glance and shook her head, prompting her to only watch. "A thousand years I cannot properly remember. I know now what you had done for us in the past, and what you had not. We will find her." Nightmare pulled away and nodded, wiping her eyes.

The dragon set down on the steps leading to the castle's entrance landing, extending a wing for everyone to disembark. Ponies had already gathered on the landing, wounded and uninjured alike. Medical personnel were already in the throes of triaging those injured while members of the council relayed commands and information among the others. All of the chaos there paused for a tense moment as the princesses returned, with relieved faces smiling to her and avoiding the dragon. As their eyes traveled over the knights and princesses, they lost their glimmer when they met Garr's, and quickly went back to their duties.

"Your Majesties," said Chancellor Leo as he rushed to greet them. "We panicked when we couldn't find you here."

Celestia set Trixie down as she began to awaken. "Forgive us, Leo. We had to be sure the worst was over," she replied. She examined the area and all of the injured, her expression weighing to the grisly sight of blood and soldiers writhing from their wounds. "How many...?"

"As bad as to be expected, but the efforts of the knights assuming the frontline has spared many. The Archmagi had been devastated by Aurelius's first assault and I cannot bear magic to represent them. I'm afraid we won't know the total of how many perished in the battle until we sweep the city in the hours to come."

"I want the search and care for survivors to be our priority. We will send for aid to rebuild the city once that is done," said Celestia.

"As you wish, Your Majesty." He half-turned to regroup with the other council members, but he stopped for a moment. "Has my daughter sustained any permanent injuries?"

"No."

Leo nodded and returned to the others, quickly slipping into the conversation.

"I shall tend to the needs of the knights. Do not hesitate to ask me for anything, sister," Luna said quickly and gently. "The loss is all of ours to bear. We will shoulder the burden together."

"Thank you, Luna. I will find time to mourn later." Celestia turned to address the crowd, offering explanations and orders, trying to bolster their morale after so many had just watched their homes burn and their friends die.

Nightmare moved to the far end of the landing, wishing to be away from others, and gazed at the ruined city. She listened absently for her name, but the sun princess mentioned her as little as possible, much to her relief.

Luna found Derpy cradling Dash in her lap as she soothingly hummed to her. The paladin nodded to her and she pulsed magic into the cyan knight's body. Dash wrenched her body and groaned, but she quickly relaxed as Derpy stroked her mane, resuming her humming.

"That should be all. Inform us at once if something is amiss with her," Luna said as she moved to the other knights.

"Thank you, Princess Luna," Derpy called after her.

Trixie rose to standing and glanced around to the chaos. Ponies were scurrying about, shouting and hollering to one another. Celestia was speaking over many of them, but all of it fell to the background for her. She glimpsed Nightmare standing far off to the side by herself, staring at the city with a blank expression. Hobbling to her, she leaned herself against a column, her magic exhaustion sapping her physical strength. "Twilight?"

Nightmare flinched, then slowly turned to face the magician. "No."

"Is she sleeping?"

"No, Trixie." Nightmare replied, turning her head away. "Twilight is gone."

"What do you mean?" Trixie said, leaving the column and forcing herself to stand closer as she faced the Id.

"A light ripped us apart and took her into a portal. I don't know what happened or where, but I... I couldn't stop it." Nightmare winced, hanging her head in shame. It took a moment for the magician to process the information, and she raised her head to gauge her reaction.

"Y-You didn't stop it!" Trixie's eyes widened and she shoved the Id into the next column. "Or did you just stand by and watch so you could steal her body?" she hissed.

Nightmare did not know when or how, but her magic had erupted on its own. A dark sheathe held Trixie in place before her. "How can you accuse me of that?" she snapped back.

"It's easy," the magician replied. "You were evil and selfish before. What's to say that you aren't now, huh?"

Nightmare's anger vanished instantly as the words hit her ears, and she released her magical hold. She fell to her haunches, her mouth quivering. "N-no! All of that was before..."

"Before?" Trixie echoed, moving to loom over her. "Before what? Before you needed another body?"

Nightmare raised her head, the pain shining in her eyes. "Before she defeated me. Before she saved me. Before I... I fell in love with her."

The magician lurched backwards into the column, her body shaking as she glared at her. "What did you say?"

***

"Twilight," a muffled voice sang. "Twiiiiliiight," it repeated again, its sweet tone piercing into her sleep.

She twisted her body, eyes still closed, and moaned. "I don't want to get up. Just a few more minutes," she mumbled, rolling back over.

A nudge to her side elicited another protesting moan. "Come now, Twilight Sparkle. It is time for you to awaken."

Sitting up to face the voice, Twilight yawned before opening her eyes and taking in the world through blurry vision. However, the entire scope of it had been occupied by her awakener. Startled, she fell onto her back while her awakener moved to stand over her, leaning down. Twilight shivered nervously as they brought their face closer to hers.

"P-Princess Celestia, d-don't scare me like that! What are you doing?" she asked quickly.

The white mare occupying her view cocked her head to one side, a plain look on her face. "I am not Princess Celestia," she said softly.

Author's Note:

10/10/2014 - This is the last chapter I had left off before taking the whole story down for revisions, like, two years ago. :s This is the end of the rewrites of previously published chapters, but there's still two more chapters that I never published back then that need to be rewritten.

I was terribly unsatisfied with the initial rewrite, and subsequently did a couple more editing passes. I like where it's at now.

PS: Hooray for a chapter being under 5,000 words after its rewrite. ****ing finally! Now to celebrate by procrastinating with Diablo 3 some more. --Edit: Nevermind. FiMFic says 5400 words. /cry

PSS: This chapter was formerly titled "Eldritch Reality".

2/23/2015 - Peppy's edits added.

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