• 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 55: Weaving a Future

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 55: Weaving a Future

Twilight’s heart pounded, her breathing fighting back the sound of hurried steps as she raced through what seemed like ruins of stone. The eroded surroundings drank in a peculiar light, bathing everything in a blue hue. She had no time to look around as columns and dilapidated statues flowed by in the murkiness. Something drove her, something deep. Something primal. Fear. She chanced a look over her shoulder, but her hooves hit a loose stone slab and she tripped, her face grinding against the stone beneath as her body slid to a halt. Wasting no time, she teleported back to her hooves and continued forward.

The fear washed over her, turning her skin to ice until it consumed her entire body. She reached an open area, the blue hues growing brighter as columns surrounded the outer edge. She stopped to catch her breath and observe for a few precious seconds, scanning the massive chamber before looking up to an empty darkness. She surged forward again, this time using her wings to give her legs a break. The thump of her heart only made the fear worse, but she stopped as she crossed to the other side. Whirling around, she could see a figure approaching.

“I’ve come for you, Twilight. It’s time. There’s no need to run anymore.” Nightmare Moon emerged from the shadows, a warm smile on her lips.

Twilight stared at her, eyes wide as the adrenaline coursing through her made reasoning difficult. The Id appeared serene, but something within the oracle refused to let her guard down. The fear had shaped her instinct, and she braced herself to fight as Nightmare approached. From the depths of a black cloak, the monstrous scythe came into view. “Do not be afraid, Twilight. Everyone must face their fate.”

“S-Stay away from me! You’re not… You’re not her!” She took a panicked step back as the Id quickened her pace. “You’re not r-real.” She swallowed as she loosed a wave of force, but it did not stop her advance. “You’re not real! You’re not! Real. You… Are not… re…al…”

She struggled to force the words out as it felt as she was suffocating. Her lungs seemed to fill with something other than air. As Nightmare reached her, she was lifted up by her aura, and it slowly constricted her neck. Not… real…

The Id spoke one last time, but her words were muted as Twilight’s heart frantically tried to keep her alive, but the oxygen was leaving her. She caught one last glimpse of Nightmare close up and realized what was off about her.

Her eyes were not sharp, not draconian; they were the eyes of someone, something else. Real… Are you?

***

Twilight awoke with a scream as her head shot up. She slammed into the underside of the trunk, coughing and wheezing as she tried to get her bearings amid darkness. Thunder boomed outside and her hovel had flooded. She quickly lurched out, tumbling through the collapsed dirt door she made and out into the rain and mud. As she rolled, Moonlight poked her in the back again, reminding her of its existence. She threw the blade before her and huddled over it, panting and shuddering. The fear within the dream still held her, but it was rapidly fading.

Her mind tried to piece it together before it slipped from memory. Soon, all she could concentrate on was her breathing, letting the cold rain batter her and wash away the mud. She took her sword and stood up, looking across a grey haze of a sky. As the thunder roared, she looked to the distance and could see the lightning flash, ripping the grey clouds apart in fleeting streaks. A deep breath filled her lungs as reality finally smothered the fear. She focused and pulled the last moment of her dream back to the front of her mind. Those are not her eyes.

Lightning cracked in the distance. “Is that… you, Astra?” Twilight asked aloud. The lightning in the distance maintained its sporadic appearance while the thunder marked it for those that failed to witness it. She took a deep a breath, taking solace in it just being a regular storm, before continuing on through the rain.

-----

Luna awoke to a crash just outside of her room, snapping up and dashing to her chamber door. As it flew open beneath her magical grasp, another crash boomed just behind her. Whirling around, she watched as the outer wall of her chambers collapsed, shouts and hollers coming from the other side. Stone dust rolled through her room and she shielded her eyes. After it cleared, she stepped to the edge and looked below to see ponies scrambling to check for injuries. The princess peered down, sleep still in her eyes.

A stallion with a hardhat and neon vest called up to her. “Sorry, Your Majesty. This part of the castle has suffered structural damage. Didn’t mean to take this wall out, but we’ll have it fixed in no time.”

I don’t feel like dealing with this. Luna spun around and exited her chambers. As soon as she stepped into the hallway, she bumped into someone else and stumbled.

“S-Sorry, Your Highness,” they stammered. She turned around to see a gryphon bowing, his head held low.

“Forgive me. I did not… see you.” She rubbed her eyes and yawned. “I did not expect the gryphons to respond to our request so quickly.”

“Oh, I’m just an ambassador as a liaison,” he replied. “I’m just here to keep the politics in place.”

Luna plucked a brown feather from her fur. “Very well. I suppose I should find Celestia.” She brushed the gryphon off and rounded a corner, smacking into another figure. She stepped back and quietly growled. This time it was a minotaur.

“Whoa there, princess. Didn’t see yah there,” he said. When she merely stared back without saying anything his eyes darted away. “Uh, I’ll be going now.”

Did I sleep for a week? Luna wondered. She had little time to think on that before Daring Do trotted down the hall to her.

“Good morning, princess,” she greeted in a sing-song voice.

“Paladin,” Luna grumbled, her eyes narrowing.

“You look like you slept well. Princess Celestia is waiting for you in the dining hall. She figured you would want some breakfast.” Daring walked beside her, bouncing between steps. “So, we’ve already got everything set with the gryphons, the Brood, and the minotaur. The only ally we haven’t turned in right now are the changelings.”

Luna froze. “W-Where’s Chrysalis?” She thought of where the changeling queen might be, but Daring Do stepped up behind her.

Who?” she asked.

Luna frowned as she glanced between the two Darings. “I am not in the mood for this.” She trudged forward as Chrysalis reverted and stuck by her side, with the real Daring Do on the other.

“I can’t provide any drones,” the changeling lamented. “You’ve only got me.”

Luna eyed her thoughtfully. “I am sure we will be fine with the allies we have. I am thankful that you are here at all.”

Chrysalis chewed her lower lip. “N-Not much of a choice…” she muttered. “I don’t want to go to the Badlands, but that’s where you’re going.”

Luna found her sister at the dining hall table amidst scrolls, books, and other objects. Several advisors were at her sides, while a plate of pancakes rested precariously on a book. The book burst open within a magical aura, and the plate spun over while the sun princess had her eyes in another book, her mouth addressing questions by one of her advisors.

Luna caught the plate of food in her magic and set it back on the table before clearing her throat. “I see your hooves are full, sister. How may I offer assistance?”

A pancake was enveloped in the sun princess’s aura and compacted before being stuffed down her throat. Luna couldn’t help but stiffen at the sight. After Celestia managed to swallow it whole, she finally responded. “Ah, you’re awake. There’s no need, Luna. The Brood’s forces are on their way as we speak, and the minotaur and gryphons are already here.”

“So… soon?” Luna cocked her head as a gryphon entered the room, fully clad in armor and clutching a scroll.

Celestia nodded to Daring to accept it. “I will not sit idly by while Aurelius is free. The faster we can get rid of him the better. With Twilight somewhere between him and us, time is of the essence. I’m using all of our reputation and will to get this done.” Daring passed the scroll off to her mentor and it was quickly scanned. Abruptly, it burst into flames and the ashes trickled to the floor.

“When do we begin?” asked Daring.

“Get the soldiers organized. The dragons will operate as a separate unit, but I want the minotaur and the knights at the vanguard. The gryphons shall cover our flank with the dragons leading the sky. Our unicorns will be protected and able to offer their full support. Speak with Paladin Hooves for the full details.” Celestia took a deep breath and faced Luna, her eyes quickly noting Chrysalis’s presence.

“I would have one of us stay behind, but I’ve already created a contingency should our mission unravel.” Everything before Celestia erupted in her aura, fanning out and then cycling before her eyes until a notebook and a loose sheet of paper were isolated. It was moved to Luna before everything was reorganized and settled. “She was still in the middle of her research, so she never allowed anyone else to use them. Archmage Lulamoon has been able to extrapolate some of the practical theory, but Twilight is years beyond us in her knowledge.”

“These are… runes?” The moon princess flipped through several notebook pages detailing rune designs and esoteric documentation of magical transmission. “This is Twilight’s work into teleportation runes. Can we use them?”

Celestia sighed. “They’re everywhere. She used them for her archmage work, but they are hidden. How to use them and where exactly they’re located are a mystery even to me, but I believe I can get one working.”

“Just one?”

The sun princess nodded. “A one-way trip back to Canterlot. It will take tremendous magic, and it will destroy the rune. Twilight’s research into such long distance teleportation was left mostly to theory before her ascension. Whether it can be done or not… well, I can’t say from the notes, and we don’t have time to study them thoroughly and conduct tests.”

Luna swallowed. One of us to live for the kingdom, the other to die for a chance. I hope it never comes to this. “Exactly how much time do we have?”

Her sister waved her advisors away and shook her head. “We begin the march tonight.”

“Tonight!” Luna echoed. “We have hardly had the time to lick our wounds, let alone prepare for such a risky foray into enemy territory. Our city is in shambles and our government no doubt in chaos. Please reconsider a little more time.”

“That’s not necessary, Luna. The celestial knights had been ironing out an operation for much time. You knew that. We’re adapting their knowledge and plan to accommodate the additional soldiers from the allied races. I want to spend more time gathering our strength as well, but there’s no telling what Aurelius plans to do, and what it will mean. The last time he had time he sieged Canterlot with an army of undead dragons. We’re lucky they weren’t the real thing. Matters regarding Canterlot will be fine among our counsel.”

Luna grimaced, and Chrysalis put a comforting hoof on her shoulder. “Very well. I shall see to it that I am absolutely ready. Some shortcuts will be needed for my healing.”

“You will be fine.” Celestia gathered her things and organized them once more. After her sister had left, she was alone in the room. “She doesn’t seem to have noticed,” she announced.

A black mist coalesced at the ceiling and funneled down to the other side of the table. Nightmare stepped out of it as it dispersed and frowned. “Remind me again why I kept them asleep?”

Celestia looked up as she floated a pancake before her. “She suffered more grievous injuries than I to stop Twilight. I want her as strong as possible for the battle ahead, and she would have hindered that by throwing herself into working with me.”

The Id nodded. “This is all moving too quickly.”

Everything in the sun princess’s grasp ceased moving as she peered at Nightmare. “You are the last one I expected to say such a thing. What brought this on?”

Nightmare sighed and turned her head away. “I didn’t think I could feel this way, but… I’m afraid of seeing Twilight again. No one wants to get her back more than me, but it’s different when you’re finally faced with the end.”

Celestia smiled and moved to her, placing a gentle hoof on her. “Your fears are understandable, but you have all of us. We will get her back. With the paladins and our allies assisting, we will be successful.”

The Id’s apprehension faded and she nodded. “I have something to ask you, since you’ve been around for much longer than I have.” She swallowed when the princess turned and gave her a hard look. “Ahem. I mean… After Twilight fled Canterlot, I encountered a dragon in the city. That fiery pegasus of yours said he was a contractor, but he called me a dragonkin. Aurelius has many shortcomings, but magic is not one of them. I spent much of my isolation thinking about my origins, and that was the moment my suspicions were affirmed.”

“You think you are part dragon?”

“I know I am, Celestia.” Nightmare glanced at one of her hooves. “I have seen Twilight’s memories, and while they come and go like normal, I recall the Rites of the Alicorn quite vividly because of her. I am not a natural being in any sense of the word. If I was to have been borne from a similar process, just how much of a dragon’s traits could I have?”

The princess gazed at her in surprise as she processed her words. “You… think I would know how to create a dragon hybrid?”

The Id shook her head. “I’m sure such experimentation is against some moral doctrine, but given what you’ve done for Twilight and how her power has grown, can you speculate on what that could be like for me? I want to know everything about myself and how to use it to my advantage. I was supposed to be a homunculus, a soulless creation designed to attach to Luna and corrupt her. Aurelius failed in making me what I was supposed to be, and I will use every bit of that failure against him.”

Celestia stared at her for a long while, but slowly she pulled her gaze to the books before her. “Our information on dragons is a bit sparse. Between the falling out from Aurelius and their relatively private culture, we don’t have much to go on. What they can do with magic, or anything else, we don’t know. Twilight, Archmage Lulamoon, and Knight Dash had a firsthoof look at Draconis. The only other pony that might have any idea is you… through Twilight’s memories.”

Nightmare shook her head again. “There is nothing there that could be of use to me. What of the Rites? What were they supposed to do for her?”

“Empower her, simply, with a forceful change to her constitution.” The princess crinkled her mouth for a moment. “Twilight has always pushed herself as far as magic goes, and already had an advantage as the Element of Magic incarnate. This also made her the best candidate for the ritual. As an alicorn, she gained greater magical resistance, a larger pool with which to use, and even greater control over her powers. As an archmage, we trained her for her ascension and continued growth. Combined, she was to be unstoppable, and then…” She closed her eyes and hung her head. “I never had to say it, but I feel it meant something that I didn’t. We sent her on an assassination mission through and through.”

The Id nodded and started to pace. “And if you had to hazard a guess when it came to me?”

“Mature dragons are incredibly resistant to magic. They recover from wounds quickly, and they have unparalleled endurance. If you’re truly a hybrid, I’m not surprised you’ve retained those gifts. How you manage to appropriate Twilight’s body to you is another matter entirely.”

“Dragons are also arrogant,” reminded Nightmare. “I’ve largely overcome that side of me, but I wonder if there’s some other weakness that could be used against me.”

“I can’t imagine having your wings cut would stop you.” The princess started to chew another pancake. “Your magi- is on a leve- with Twahl-ght’s, bu- you don- wiel- it t-e same way.” She swallowed and smacked her lips. “Sorry, I haven’t even had time to eat this morning.”

Nightmare waved her apology away. “I don’t think anyone can use magic like Twilight, even you. I have seen to the very depths of her power, and it is terrifying. Even she is scared of what she can do, but I don’t know if she’s conscious of it.”

Celestia nodded. “She has a good heart and understands the burden of carrying that power more than most.”

“When we merged, I could tap into that power, just as she can into mine. I don’t wield my magic the same way because I can’t be as efficient as her when it comes to greater magic. Luna and I are similar in that we both like to use an iris.”

This time, Celestia shook her head. “I would not be so quick to compare yourselves there.”

The Id’s mane plumed and slowly produced the head of her scythe. “Yes, she did always have a certain style to her strength. I can’t say we’re the same, but it’s hard to look past us using the basics of magic focus. Adapting them into weaponry had always fascinated me. I would give up mine for Telos’s staff if I could, but I’m sure I’m better off with this.” The scythe receded back into its magical storage.

The princess shuddered. “I would hate to think of what Twilight could’ve done in our fight had that not been destroyed. While I’m sure Luna could’ve subdued her all the same, it would have been much worse for me.” She looked at her materials once more and sighed. “I’m afraid I’ll need to be getting back to this. I have to make sure everything is in order before the march. Please keep an eye on Luna. I don’t want her to think she’s been left out of matters on purpose… again.”

Nightmare nodded. “It will be tricky. She is very perceptive, especially when it comes to me, but I’m more worried about her companion.”

Celestia paused. “About that… I’d like you to also keep your eyes on Chrysalis.”

“Do you think she’ll betray us?”

The princess sighed, her eyes closing. “I don’t… know, but I can’t allow the risk unchecked at such a crucial time. If my sister wasn’t vouching for her I would’ve thrown her in the dungeons to rot. She’s been staying by her side and keeping out of trouble, but it’s a threat I can’t ignore just at her insistence.”

Nightmare stepped closer to her and lowered her voice. “If she tries to betray us I will kill her. I won’t have some pet insect getting in my way to Twilight.”

“I was afraid you’d say that, but I’m also just as relieved.” She took a deep breath and offered a faint smile. “For now, she has done nothing to warrant suspicion. She seems to have grown attached to Luna, so just keep an eye on her.”

Nightmare nodded and turned to walk with the princess to the exit. “I won’t do anything that doesn’t need to be done. You have my word.” With that, she departed down a different hallway.

Author's Note:

4/17/18 Edit: Depression, cancelled plans from last year, and hating every game I play... by your powers combined, I am a new fucking chapter finally getting finished. Also, continuing my effort to downsize chapter length.

4/18/18 Edit: Forgot to add Peppy's delicious editing that accompanies every chapter. He prodded me cause I forget. <3

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