• 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 49: The Iron Maiden

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 49: The Iron Maiden

Celestia shuffled back when Twilight’s dark shroud of magic started to roil. “P-Please, Twilight. I don’t want to fight you. Just listen to me!” Her lips curled in as the oracle’s aura manifested briefly in a dark purple mass. It sank back into her like a sickly goo.

“I’ll bring down your day.” Twilight extended a hoof towards the princess and her grin vanished. Grunting, she bared her teeth as her horn shined a dark purple. “Damn it. Even now I can’t reach you with my telekinesis. I don’t understand…”

The princess collected herself and shook her head. “Twilight, please…”

A wave of dark energy ripped from the floor, flowing into the throne and consuming the princess’s body. Twilight raised her hoof and it erupted into the ceiling. When it receded, Celestia was glaring down to her from inside of a golden barrier. She glided back down and discharged a yellow-white ray of energy from her horn. The beam raked across the floor, forcing Twilight back to the door.

“I will not take an unnecessary beating from you,” she spat.

The oracle snorted and rolled her eyes over the stained glass windows as she spoke. “There’s nothing a liar like you can say to convince me otherwise.”

Celestia chewed her lower lip briefly. “Twilight, I can’t fight you. Much of my magic has been suppressed.”

“I don’t believe you.”

A loud hum preceded a black and purple beam piercing Celestia’s barrier. She groaned as she was blasted back, but remained standing. Spots of her alabaster fur were singed, a mournful glance cast to the damage. The light armor she wore lost its luster but was intact. Twilight slowly walked towards the princess, her horn buzzing as she readied another attack. “Don’t give up just yet, Celestia. I’m already enjoying this. But honestly, your sister put up a better fight when we sparred.”

“I beg of you, Twilight. I am not your enemy!”

Twilight scratched at her ear and turned away. “Begging for your life didn’t work out so well for Trixie.”

Celestia’s eyes fell to the floor. “N-No! Vibe… You didn—“

Twilight gave her a dark look as the tone of her voice flattened. “Oh, but I did. I don’t tolerate betrayal from anyone.” Her eyes narrowed. “Not even you.”

The princess swallowed as Twilight drew closer. She leaped into the air and flapped her wings, flying towards the doors, but another beam struck her right wing and she spiraled down. With a thud, she hit the floor and rolled. She lay there for a moment before rising once more. Frowning, she held out her forehooves and presented silvery bindings attached to them. “My magic is suppressed. I cannot fight you with my full strength even if I wanted to indulge you.”

The oracle stared at them in silence. It would make sense that Aurelius would suppress her magic, but she was still able to block one of my spells. “I’m calling your bluff, princess.” Charging towards her, her shroud darkened into a thick shell, and she drove a punch into the princess’ stomach. She leaned in close as the shell receded from her face, grinning as she watched Celestia’s jaw fly open. The air in her lungs had been smashed out, and the absence of breath was punctuated with pained, guttural sounds. Twilight reeled her hoof back as the princess hit the floor. She stared down at the writhing body of her former mentor. Disappointment had already filled her. Closing her eyes, she visualized the space around her, slowly expanding beyond the castle grounds. No guards were coming, but new, much stronger creatures had appeared in the city. I recognize two of these, but that third one… She pondered the last being. They’re hiding a massive amount of power. It seems even more familiar than the other two. Could that be the same…? She turned and stepped to the throne as she continued to analyze what was outside, paying no heed to her injured foe.

“I… don’t want… to fight you…” Celestia called to her with a hoarse voice, interrupting the oracle.

Twilight whirled around and shrugged. “I guess you weren’t bluffing. Why don’t you take off your bindings and face me with all of your magic. I’ll crush you just like everyone else that’s gotten in my way. Your betrayal just makes you one more obstacle.”

The princess took a slow, deep breath and eyed Twilight cautiously. “Am I still held to our promise?” Twilight gazed back in silence before hanging her head. Celestia continued as she approached the throne with delicate steps. “Then I suppose this is not the end after all. I helped raise you. I trained you. I know you. You are not the posturing monster that stands before me now, so take your best shot, Twilight. I will not kneel to your power, nor your sins. Am I allowed before you now because I am all that you have left? Am I wrong?” She reached the steps and stared back fiercely, but Twilight rapidly descended and struck her in the face again. The princess toppled to the floor.

Twilight loomed over Celestia, her eyes drinking in the sight. She had yearned to get revenge—to mete out her own justice—but the damaged body of the sun princess left only a feeling more empty and hollow than the one that drove her on. The doppelganger whispered into her head, but it was muddled and distant. She could not understand its words as she stared down at the sun princess with apathy.

Moving to where the throne had been, she sat down and allowed herself to continue analyzing the situation. Celestia wasn’t lying; her power was grossly diminished to the point that she wasn’t far above an unicorn adept. “Why are you suppressing your own magic?” She watched as the princess picked herself up and rubbed her face. “You are… and you aren’t. There isn’t any fun in this if you can’t fight back.”

Dull clinks reverberated when Celestia bent down and banged one on the floor several times. “Then there will be no fun to be had. Hear me out, Twilight.”

The oracle snapped up and fired a blast of energy at one of the bangles. When the puff of smoke faded it appeared unfazed. Made of null-magic runes? Then that means… Her eyes focused on Celestia, and she took a step back. To have this much magic under direct suppression… “Take them off. Both of them.”

“I… won’t.” The princess chewed her lower lip again. “Why are you so eager to fight?”

“If you won’t fight me now I’ll just have to come back later. You’ve already wasted enough of my time here.” She turned and stepped towards the hole the prince escaped through, but a blast of energy passing her head stopped her. Twilight stiffened. “With your magic suppressed you aren’t even a threat to me.” Celestia charged her, but Twilight spun around and kicked into her abdomen, knocking her away. She pivoted to walk away, but a new presence burst through the doors and stopped her. The magic they held was enormous. It was a familiar strength, one that she had faced before, but one that was never as strong as she felt now.

***

Alarms and shouts had already filled the air when Luna arrived on the other side of the portal. The resistance forces splintered into smaller groups and pushed out from the landing point of the portal. Luna watched as it closed, lamenting that Trixie could not join them. Daring and Derpy were in the skies issuing commands while Leo recounted the unicorns’ plans to them one last time. After a moment they marched into the fray, and Derpy dropped from the skies to the princess’s side.

“Let’s go, Your Majesty. You will be recognized immediately, and we need to reach the vaults as soon as possible. I’m still injured, and I’ll need my shield if I’m going to keep fighting dragons.” The grey paladin drew Glance Reviver and took a deep breath.

“Hey, we’re not hanging around for the battle outside.” Daring landed beside them, both of her swords already drawn. “We need to go now, while we still have the element of surprise on our side. The faster we get your weapons the better.”

Luna nodded. “We shall fly. I am unarmed and will try to conserve my magic if I can. Can you two handle anything we encounter?” The sisters exchanged glances before nodding in unison. “Let us hurry.”

Large bells pealed atop towers while dragons dotted the sky with many landing and meeting the resistance forces on the ground. Unicorns worked together to shield the soldiers fighting or bind their enemies’ movements, but they struggled against the raw might of their enemies. Luna’s stomach twisted as she watched several ponies of a cell outmatched. Dread filled her as she watched one being eaten alive, loosing one final scream before he was crushed among the dragon’s teeth. Just continue on. Their loss means nothing if this battle cannot be won.

Two dragons blocked their flight and Derpy attempted to strike, but Daring soared in front of her. “I’ll take these on and catch up with you later. Just keep going! I’ll leave the rest to you, Ditz!” Derpy nodded and they picked up pace.

Light rose from the city behind, and the princess peered over her shoulder to glimpse a watchtower with a bell come crashing down. A thick plume of dust and debris licked at the sky, and she turned to the castle as they drew nearer. “I fear the resistance needs their strongest fighter now.”

Derpy shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. Protecting you is my priority. I’ll do whatever it takes to take back Equestria, but we still need to find Princess Celestia and Rainbow Dash.”

Luna’s heart skipped a beat. The lost celestial knight had been absent from her mind until now. “I pray neither of us will come to do more things we would never otherwise.”

Pegasus soldiers rapidly marched out from the castle, and the pair braced themselves for a fight. With only glances her way, they soared past the princess in silence. Do they not recognize me? Am I not a threat, or are they not enemies? She did not have time to watch as they reached the castle grounds. Luna could feel herself being pushed back, and the harder she flapped her wings the greater the resistance became. Forced to land outside the gates, she noticed two black spots marring the ground while both pieces of the steel gate before them had been crumpled and tossed aside. “This must be of Twilight’s doing. I can think of no other. Tread carefully. If we see her, do not overtake me.” They entered the castle grounds, finding bodies of veiled unicorns in the ruined grand entranceway. There weren’t many, with some helping each other and checking wounds. When Luna entered, they froze as they gazed at her.

“Is that… Princess Luna?” one called out. Whispers fluttered in the air before Luna spoke.

“I am indeed. Am I facing loyalists of Aurelius, or unicorns that served beneath the banner of my sister and me? Stay not thy tongue.” What unicorns could move gathered towards the center of the room before them. Derpy poised to draw her sword, but they stooped into a bow and removed their veils.

“We are the royal anti-magi, but we are not loyal to King Aurelius. We serve Equestria’s true crown, Princesses Celestia and Luna. If you have returned, then we are at Your Majesty’s service.” The unicorn speaking glanced to her comrades. “Those of us that are able.”

Luna smiled. Finally, some good news. “Then I ask of you to aid our allies in the streets. Remove your veils and stand against the prince’s pets outside. Drive out those wretched beasts and help us reclaim our capital.”

“As you command, Your Majesty.” The anti-mages stood up and marched out, but Luna raised a hoof before them.

“Before you go tell me what happened here,” she asked, motioning to the wounded unicorns.

“Archmage Twilight Sparkle. We were following orders to subdue her, but she proved too powerful for us. She continued on to find Princess Celestia. We could not stop her.”

Luna grew pensive for a moment. “Go. I shall seek out my sister and handle Archmage Sparkle myself.” She watched as they departed. When they were gone, Derpy exhaled loudly and wiped her brow.

“I’m glad they’re on our side,” the paladin muttered before looking at the princess. “Where is the royal vault? Even I don’t know where it’s at.”

Luna fought off every feeling in her body to race to the throne room and find Celestia and Twilight. Her body trembled as she forced herself to move to the right, rather than go forward. I will not be enough should a fight break out. Now is not the time to take a risk! she reminded herself. “This way,” she nodded after a moment. “Come. Time is not on our side in more ways than one.”

The clop of their hooves rang down the long corridors as they hustled past stray ponies. The castle was largely deserted of staff, but an enemy patrol attempted to impede her. Derpy dashed ahead and made quick work of the common guards, knocking them out with blows from the flat of her blade and the pommel of her hilt. One had made it past her and attempted to attack the princess. Luna drove a hoof into his chestplate, denting it and tossing him aside. He was left writhing as he struggled to remove his armor. She shot him a dark glance before continuing on at full pace.

Towards the right wing of the castle they reached a dead end, ornately decorated with tapestries and paintings neatly displayed. The opposing wall held a table with a vase. Colorful flowers reached from its lip, with a sunflower standing tall among them. “We are here.”

Derpy looked around before sheathing her weapon. “Is there a switch, or do we need magic?”

Luna stepped towards the end where one of the paintings hung. She gazed up to it while simultaneously motioning for the paladin to come closer. Within the frame was a darkness with a single inverted candle, its light bleeding back the darkness on the floor, rather than the ceiling it was affixed, and revealing a piece of carpet. It was not lit enough to discern any details and the painting itself seemed dull and out of place with the other fine art that hung in the castle.

“There is a trigger,” said the princess quietly as Derpy neared.

The paladin blinked and suddenly they were within the room in the painting. Everything was dark, save for the candle hanging from above, seemingly from the darkness itself yet illuminating only the small space of floor they occupied. A hoof flew to her sword’s hilt as she turned and looked into the void around.

“Calm yourself. You see as I do and there is nothing to fear. I made you as you are to gain those same benefits. A Paladin for one, and so…” The candle’s light grew stronger and illuminated the royal vault, revealing treasures of various design. “Was a Paladin made for the other. As you know, your powers and your blessing are bound to me. I have thought long and hard about the Celestial Knights and the Paladin from the moment my sister and I made the final decision to reinstate them. I was unaware that, all along, she had already done so and taken the liberty to bind a paladin to herself.”

Derpy spun around and met her serious gaze. “Do you mean Daring?”

The princess nodded and began scanning the treasures. “The Chancellor leaves me to my speculation of her strength, but I feel I have finally reached a conclusion as to what power she wields.”

“And what is her power?” asked Derpy as she followed after her, her eyes glazing at the myriad of gold, artwork, and weapons neatly organized and dustless.

Luna stopped near a wall where a long object was wrapped in grey cloth. “Her power is derived from my sister’s. Seeing what she has survived, where she has thrived, and to understand the trials she has overcome… She can only come to possess an aspect of the almighty radiance that Celestia holds. I do not know the extent, but I know enough now to fear it.” She motioned to a vacant spot beside the wrapped object. “My sister’s weapon is missing. Perhaps she has prepared for a day when she would need to truly take up arms once again.” Against what, I wonder. There was a crash from behind them and Luna took the object and whirled around in one swift motion, raising it aloft.

Coughing, Daring straightened and gave them an uncomfortable look. “Uh, sorry I took so long. That first one was pretty flighty.” She brushed herself off while her sister ran a hoof over her face. “Nice bed sheet, Princess Luna.”

Luna frowned and ripped the wrapping off in a single motion. Her massive warhammer towered beside her, the shaft reaching to the tops of her flowing mane. The head was almost as large as Derpy’s abdomen, and one face could cover the profile of her own head. One side of the hammer held a waxing crescent moon in faint orange, while the other a waning crescent outlined in azure. The air in the vault drafted to her swings, the princess stretching and twisting her body with the weapon’s weight.

“Ah, I have longed to wield this in battle once more. I wish only that it was for a different reason.” She set it down with a heave. “Oh, but of course.” She found a small wooden box where the hammer rested. The lid creaked open to reveal a pair of silver bangles resting on cloth.

“What are those for?” Derpy asked as she studied them.

Daring rolled her eyes. “Unless those help with the fight, I really don’t think dressing up is the best time.”

Luna shot her a disappointed glance. “I’ll have you know they were designed to complement my appearance and my technique.” Sliding one onto each wrist, she took the hammer up again and moved to the center of the room. “Your shield, Paladin Hooves.”

Derpy perked up. “R-Right!” She quickly darted to the opposite side of the vault and returned with her tower shield and a strap. The wall of steel stood nearly as tall as herself, and she quickly fastened it to her back.

The sandy paladin gawked at it. “What the heck is that thing, the door to your house?”

“Svalinn,” Derpy replied simply. “It can block just about anything. Even your smart mouth.”

Ha. Ha, Ditzy.” Daring drew her second sword and immediately swung at her sister. In an instant, the shield was raised and the sword struck it. There was a tinny clang as the blade collided, bending slightly before fracturing. Both Derpy and Luna’s eyes went wide.

“What the heck are you doing!?” cried Derpy the same time as Luna bellowed, “Have you lost your mind, Paladin Do?”

“Relax, I’ve got—“

Derpy closed the distance between them. “After all that trouble to get you a second sword and mine repaired, you just go and break it!? I got injured for that! Twice!”

“Paladin Do, are you trying to sabotage our own efforts?” asked the princess in a heavy voice.

Daring frowned, looking between them as they waited for an answer. She spun around and strode through the treasures. Rattling of metallic objects and several clattering to the floor resounded in the vault before she returned with another sword. “That copy was just for me. I never thought it would be used in some real fights. That burst of energy that I used to take down the dragons wasn’t from my weapon power. It was from my own strength as a paladin. I’m still recovering from exerting myself last night and in the desert.” She drew the sword from its sheathe and held it before her face. She drew the second and crossed them. “So, having both of my swords will help me compensate for that.”

“You… had a second blessed sword crafted for you?” Luna inspected both of them before the sandy paladin sheathed them into her baldrics. “I… suppose there is no time to doubt you.”

Daring shook her head. “We need to get going. The resistance needs Ditzy and I back in the city. We have what we came for. Now let’s get out of here!”

The trio nodded, and Daring dashed into the center of the vault and vanished. Derpy followed behind Luna, and with a blink they were back in the end of the corridor.

Daring was down towards the other end and waved to them. “Come on! We’ve got work to do!” she shouted. She drew a sword and shattered a window before taking flight out of it.

Luna inwardly grumbled before turning to the grey paladin. “You may accompany me to the throne room. After that, I must insist you aid your sister,” said Luna. The paladin opened her mouth to protest, but a hoof was raised toward her. “Whether I enter the throne room and find my foe to be Aurelius or Twilight does not matter.” She took a deep breath as her mane billowed just above her eyes, opening to a serious gaze. “I will not require your aid this time.” Derpy nodded as they continued on.

Several guards rounded the corner and found them. Before the paladin could react, the princess had already charged to engage them. She moved in silence with dancing steps, and twirled into a counterclockwise spin. The head of the hammer did not strike a guard, but was driven into the wall. A monstrous quake rocked the corridor and the paladin nearly fell as she observed. The guards had all been knocked out.

“I can handle myself if you wish to see yourself to your sister! Purging the city of Aurelius’s pets is equally important. A king without an army is nothing more than a peasant.”

The paladin grew pensive for a moment. “Are you sure? You are my charge right now, not her.”

Luna turned to her and smirked. “I order you to protect Paladin Daring Do and expedite the removal of enemy forces from Canterlot’s city.”

Derpy smiled and nodded. “As you command. Good luck!” She turned and went down a different corridor, flying out of sight.

The princess took a deep breath. It is not luck that I shall need. She broke into a run towards the throne room, knocking aside a few stray guards with a quick sweep of her hammer or its shaft. Gone were her polite blows and she struck quickly, angrily. As she reached the final corridor she slowed to a walk. The doors were closed, but she could already feel magic emanating from the other side. There are strong enchantments on this room. They do not feel familiar. Perhaps they are of Aurelius’s doing. She could hear a yelp from the other side of the doors and she surged forward, smashing the throne doors open. As the light poured out to her she could see Twilight at the broken throne, and her sister laying at the bottom of the stairs. Patches of Celestia’s white fur had been singed, and Twilight turned, her black form striking fear into the princess of the night.

For a moment, her heart felt strangled as she gazed into the eyes of her nightmarish friend. The eyes were perhaps the only part of her that did not seem changed, but they pierced her soul. “What… have you done, Twilight?” she asked shakily, crouching down to examine her sister. “Celestia, are you alright?”

The sun princess cleared her throat and stood up. “Thank goodness you’re alright, Luna.” She lurched to embrace her younger sister, but Luna stepped back. “I’m fine. These wounds are superficial, but you must stop her from pursuing Aurelius!”

Incredulity pulled Luna’s brow down as she stared at Celestia. She glanced to Twilight and then back to her. “Sister, have you gone mad? We are here to overthrow Aurelius.” A hoof was placed to her chest.

“No, you cannot. Like it or not we need him.” When Luna attempted to shrug her away, Celestia placed both of her hooves on her shoulders and occupied the scope of her vision. “Do you trust me, Luna?”

“Of course, but—“

The sun princess moved closer, her eyes and face absent of doubt. “Then now, more than ever, I need you to trust me now.”

Luna chewed her lip. “I don’t know about this.”

“She’s a traitor as far as I’m concerned,” called Twilight. “Luna, if you value our friendship and my loyalty, and you trust me, you will not listen to her and help me kill Aurelius.”

The moon princess swallowed and glanced at her sister. “And… if I choose to believe my sister?”

Energy gathered around Twilight and an aura formed around her body. “Then you will be nothing more than a traitor to me.”

She… is serious about this ultimatum. “You are asking me to choose between my sister and my best friend. I ask you to trust in my judgment, Twilight. I will bear the responsibility if she is lying.” She moved to have Celestia behind her. “Please, do not raise arms against us. Trust me, Twilight.”

Trust?” The room trembled at the word. Twilight took a deep breath as her aura faded. “You’ve already chosen her, Princess Luna. I guess I can’t be surprised. Betrayal just runs in the family, doesn’t it?”

Luna hoisted the hammer onto her shoulder. “It pains me greatly to have everything come to this, but you have forced me to make an impossible choice. If you will not relent, then I will subdue you. This will not be like the last time, Twilight Sparkle. To threaten my blood and family, and to save my best friend from themselves, you shall bear the full extent of my wrath.”

A wide grin split Twilight’s face as she chuckled. “You have no idea. I’m trying to save you from yourselves.” She snorted. “As usual, your sister compensates for you, Celestia. Come Luna. I’ll show you what happens to those that get in my way.”

Celestia stepped beside her sister and spoke in a gentler tone. “Please, Twilight. Stand down. We need to talk.”

Magic roiled within her core, and her horn crackled to life. “It tells me that I will kill you both. I wonder how right it will be. It’s never lied to me, after all.”

The princesses exchanged glances. “It?” they asked in unison.

Twilight descended the steps and sneered. “You will surrender your status or you will die. I won’t lose to you here. I can’t.”

Author's Note:

3/21/17 - I wanted to finish this before I went to California, so here it is. The formatting was a train wreck on the upload. It *should* be fixed, but if it's not it's screwed until I get back on 4/5. <3

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