• Published 13th Oct 2011
  • 17,560 Views, 1,168 Comments

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.

  • ...

Chapter 57: Lonely Pond

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 57: Lonely Pond

Nightmare peeled her gaze away from Twilight and back to the ravaged party behind her. All eyes were on her, even those of the contractors on the clifftops, and they wore their shock openly. She glanced to the successfully assassinated dragon beneath her, but she did not need to absorb her work; hundreds of dragons had met their end at her blade in the preceding years. Suddenly, the foes on the clifftops began to move, shouting furies down to those below.

“They’ve slain the guardian!”

“The king will be furious!”

“You’ve won your audience.”

The Id’s interest was piqued, even as she poised for more fighting. I’ve won my audience? What does he mean by that?

In unison, the dragons breathed in, their chests glowing before flames and fireballs rained down in a storm. Though a barrier formed over everyone else, Nightmare was left alone to defend herself. She sprang into the air as liquid fire hit the corpse of the guardian contractor and splashed over its body. She spun, narrowly missing a drop from reaching a wing, before rushing towards Twilight.

She turned and shouted over her shoulder. “Get to that cave! We’re going to need more cover!”

Contractors moved to bar her path, and she was forced to descend as a wall of fire rolled towards her. It came too quickly, and she dived sharply, hitting the ground and skidding. She lost her balance and rolled across hardened dirt and rocks. As the heat passed, she popped up, gritting her teeth through the pain while the rocks fell from the indents in her flesh. Before she knew it, Luna was at her side.

“Breach them together! Waste no time on killing,” said the moon princess.

Nightmare watched as Luna rapidly gyrated, a white ring appearing around her. Her hammer smashed a defending arm into the dragon’s chest, a titanic blow that rippled through the air and gusted the Id to the side. It did not kill, but the attack broke the arm and stunned the contractor out of the air. Nightmare’s body shifted into a black, starry shell, a shroud of darkness bubbling around her new form. With a distorted roar, she rocketed into the chest of the other contractor and delivered a single blow to his chest. The force paled compared to Luna, but she cracked the scale and winded him, dropping him to the earth. The shell faded, and the contractor slumped forward, and then curled to the ground.

Equestria’s forces rushed past, an inferno chasing them, growing with each fireball from the rest of the contractors. The flames were about to overtake them when Celestia appeared once more as a giant, her wings absorbing the onslaught.

“Keep moving!” she bellowed, pivoting and fanning the contractors back. Two sweeps of her massive wings and the flames were gone, but the strain on her face was evident. Her steps punched craters into the earth as she walked over her allies to the cave. She turned when she reached the mouth and took a deep breath, tilting her head back and spreading her wings wide. With a heave, she brought her wings together in a thundering clap. Cliffs and boulders sheared to pieces as the contractors were blasted away in the gale that followed. Abruptly, the princess shrank to her normal size and collapsed.

Daring collected her body as they pushed into the cave, moving deeper and deeper. “Prepare a shield if they return to breathe flames upon us,” ordered Luna. As they hustled deeper into the cave, a blue barrier appeared and pushed most of them back.

Nightmare blinked and turned back when she realized only her and the Brood had made it. “What happened?” The dragons exchanged confused glances with her.

Daring moved to the barrier and raised a hoof to it, activating its appearance. “It seems to lock out anything that isn’t a dragon, but…” Her eyes narrowed on Nightmare Moon. “She’s not a dragon.”

The Id swallowed as the Brood took steps back from her. “What are you,” one of them asked, “if not a dragon, yet allowed through?”

Nightmare only stared back pensively as she thought of an answer. “I… don’t know,” she replied. “There was an armored dragon in Canterlot. He… he called me dragonkin.” She swallowed again as the gazes grew heavier. “He said the king would want to see me, but…” Silence fell as everyone kept their eyes on the entrance of the cave, or the Id. “I’m beginning to think there’s another dragon king here.” The Brood exchanged glances in silence.

Luna loudly cleared her throat. “We have no time to be questioning Midnight’s origins. She has proven her allegiance time and time again. Our magi must find a way through this barrier.”

“Twilight made it through only a moment ago,” reminded Nightmare. “She’s not like me, and I possess her original body. This can’t be tied to physical traits alone.”

Chrysalis moved to the barrier. “I wonder…” She transformed into a dragon and stepped forward. The barrier appeared suddenly and tossed her away, dispelling the transformation.

Luna lurched and caught the changeling, her eyes drifting to the walls as she gently set her down. “Look.” A hoof aimed towards the edges where the barrier formed. “Perhaps she overpowered it.”

“No,” a raspy voice chimed in, followed by a series of coughs. Celestia shakily stood up with Daring’s help. “She wouldn’t have had time, and certainly not with such a devastating beam from earlier. Twilight’s natural talent is magical concentration, and by proxy, compression. This is why she has always been capable of such high levels of spellcraft, and how she was able to utilize your technique so quickly, Luna.” Celestia coughed several times and moved to the barrier. “We don’t have many options, and I don’t think a simple dispel will be one of them.”

Luna brought a hoof to her chin for a moment as she looked to the ceiling. Her magical shell formed and she stepped to the barrier. It formed, but she stepped forward and only struggled briefly. On the other side, it faded away. She growled to herself and turned around. “Of course… I taught her the only way through. What about everyone else? I do not even teach archmagi, let alone do we have the time to teach it to those among us now.”

“We need to break it,” Celestia declared. Uneasy glances were brought her way, but she ignored them. “In order to do this quickly, we need to simultaneously stress and destabilize it. It is ancient, but it will not have existed for all this time without weakening if the creator has not cast it again.”

Nightmare moved to the barrier. “What do you need us to do?”

“The Brood, Luna, and Nightmare Moon will all stand within it. As many of our forces that can will move into it and maintain its activation. The magi, myself, Luna, Midnight, and Chrysalis will channel our magic into it and attempt to unravel it completely.” She turned to the changeling. “I trust that you can see what it is we’re working with.”

The changeling swallowed. “I’ve… never done something like this, but I’ll try.”

“Good.” The sun princess turned to her sister. “Do you think you can handle disrupting and dispelling at the same time?”

Luna snorted. “I have been craving a challenge for some time. I did not think I would get them all at once.”

“Alright. Let’s begin. Everyone get ready.” As they lined up to the barrier, Celestia closed her eyes and began to visualize the spell. “Now!

The Brood and Nightmare moved into the barrier, having it form and harmlessly display across their bodies. The rest of the forces moved in simultaneously, with Luna baring her teeth as she fought it, repeatedly digging her hooves into the ground.

Nightmare closed her eyes and could see the entirety of the spell. I’ve… seen this before. Somewhere… Aurelius made this? No… but he may have had a hoof in its construction. The combined efforts saw the barrier weakening, and Nightmare could see the spell fraying. She joined in with them, channeling her magic into it and unraveling it. After several minutes, it started to fall to pieces. As it collapsed, the Id’s eyes shot open. “Get back! It’s going to discharge the remain—”

An explosion ripped outward, blasting everyone back, and the ensuing shockwave caused stalactite to rain down. Chrysalis was the first to rise, and she dove and tackled Luna, rolling away from the worst of it. Shields formed over the party members and the pieces of the cave rolled safely to the sides.

“Are you okay?” Chrysalis asked, watching as Luna stood up and dusted herself.

“I am fine,” she replied, turning to offer a helping hoof. However, a gash running down the changeling’s side caused her to lift her with telekinesis. “You did not need to do that. My constitution is sturdier than yours.”

“You know…” Chrysalis growled. “Most say thank you.” A minotaur came to her and triaged the wound.

Luna bowed her head, earning a sidelong frown. “Thank you, Chrysalis.” The changeling muttered something, but it was too quiet to hear. The moon princess turned away and regrouped with Nightmare and Celestia.

“Excellent work, everyone,” said Celestia. “Let us advance. It seems we are safe in here for now.”

The princesses and the Id took the lead, and Nightmare couldn’t help but sense Twilight’s presence throughout the cave. They were only minutes behind her, and that fact burned her soul. We’re so close, she thought bitterly. Her memories of Ponyville moved to the front of her mind, and she sighed. She had to choose between saving Trixie, and being there when Twilight had awoken. A part of her wished she had let the magician perish anyway, to keep the archmagi to herself. She sighed again. That wasn’t the part of her Twilight had given her back. She pushed the dark what if of her past choices away and looked ahead. A massive gate now stood in their path, reaching at least as high as two standing dragons. The trio moved to it and placed a hoof on it, peering into its construction.

Nightmare and Celestia swallowed, and Luna knocked on it. There was a tink from her solleret, but it was barely audible. The same hoof was brought to her mouth as she chuckled. The stars in her mane began to twinkle, and constellations could scarcely be seen within.

“I know what you’re thinking, Luna,” spoke the elder sister.

Luna grinned to her. “And you know it is the fastest, most efficient method among our resources.”

“I’m worried you’ll injure yourself,” Celestia said, placing a hoof on her sister’s shoulder.

The moon princess cast a hoof to the corridor. “Fear not, sister. There is more than enough space in this old cavern. We have no time to break this down any other way, nor should we expend more resources than necessary. You know this is the best option.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Chrysalis as she approached and stood beside Luna. A white bandage wrapped her torso, with a bloody splotch where her wound was.

The constellations in Luna’s mane became clearer, gently twinkling in the dim light. “I am going to shatter this gate, so that we may move forward.”

Chrysalis moved to the gate and tapped a hoof to it. “Shatter this? I doubt that… a lot.” She turned and raised a brow to the moon princess.

Luna frowned. “Stand back. Far, far back with a shield, and witness.”

The changeling cocked her head to one side. “Witness what?”

Chyrsalis and Luna began to move back, but the sun princess placed a hoof on Nightmare’s shoulder. “A word, if you don’t mind,” she whispered.

The Id eyed her carefully, but quieted her voice nonetheless. “Are you worried about the changeling?”

Celestia shook her head. “Twilight. Our confrontation with her is inevitable, and so is you being there. There’s something I need to pass to you. With the extent of her memories, do you recall how she and I communicated before… before Aurelius?”

Nightmare blinked as she searched her memory. “Telepathy? I don’t know anything more than that.”

Celestia sighed. “It’s not a… circulated spell, but it exists. Both ponies must actively be listening for the other to make the connection. You two shared such a… unique bond, but I’m wondering if you wou—”

The Id placed a hoof on Celestia’s shoulder and shook her head. “What we were… and what we shared… That cannot be replicated. I spent a lot of time on my own after she vanished, and I’ve learned things about her resurrection I wish I could forget.”

“Oh? And what is that?” The pair could hear Luna hollering for them, and they turned to acknowledge, but remained.

“I dare not say. Not because I don’t trust you,” Nightmare said, preparing to walk away, “but because I don’t know if it’s true, or if it even matters now.”

The sun princess stopped her. “I’ve been thinking about this for some time, and I wonder if it will work. A full link would require a ritualistic spell, on both ponies’ part, but you can temporarily establish a connection if both of you want it.”

Nightmare blinked. “How? For how long?”

Celestia took a deep breath, but maintained her hushed voice. “For only as long as you touch. Here,”—she produced a small scroll from her mane and presented it to the Id—“you will need to memorize this. If you can reach her, if there is any way to bring her out of this safely and peacefully, I will give my life for it.”

The Id studied the complex formula on the scroll before absorbing it into her mane, mouthing some of its contents silently to herself. She glanced up to the sun princess and shook her head. “You and I both know it will never come to your life for hers.”

The pair started for the main group, and Celestia continued on, hollering for them to move further back down the corridor. Even as they stopped, Luna encouraged them to move even further back, but Nightmare declined.

“I cannot guarantee your safety at this distance,” said Luna.

The Id shook her head. “I don’t know exactly what you’re going to do, but I can… feel something coming. The magic welling within you is… incredible. I want to see this as closely as I can.”

Luna smirked. “Perhaps it will be all you need to know to see all sides to this power of ours. Very well. At least stand to the side behind a boulder, or carve yourself a nice crevice to shelter in. This will not be a pleasant experience… even for them,” she said, casting a hoof to the rest of the group.

The princess placed her hammer down and ran a hoof over her mane, smoothing it backwards and out of her eyes before it floated and flowed renewed. As she did so, it seemed as though no individual stars remained; everything had formed into beautiful constellations. Galaxies, or so Nightmare thought, seemed to glint inside of the blue void, but she wasn’t entirely sure. Whatever they were, they burned within, and the deep blue of the mane had started to take a subtle cosmic appearance. The longer she gazed, the more it drew her in, as if it desired to assimilate her. She jumped when Luna put a hoof to her face.

“I need you to witness this, more than anyone else. Once you have seen it, you shall fathom these powers, and you may very well need that for Twilight, and whatever else may await us.”

Confusion was etched on the Id’s face, but she moved to the edge of the corridor, finding a crevice and peeking out from it to observe Luna.

The princess closed her eyes and sat quietly for a moment. All external light seemed to draw into her mane, and it burned in the darkness it created. She picked up her hammer, the designs on the head glowing with life while it gathered energy. Rising up, she took the hammer in both hooves and poised to move. With a deep breath, she exhaled slowly and rushed forward, her wings bursting open and taking her off the ground. However, she blurred into a white light, piercing through the darkness.

Nightmare’s eyes opened wide, her heart suddenly racing. I have only seen Twilight bring this much magic out once. She swallowed as Luna became a white ball with a tail. And that power could have annihilated Aurelius, but she chose to do use it for something else in that moment. More streams of light spiraled away from the tail, and Nightmare formed a powerful barrier over herself. …Life.

Luna collided with the gate, and reality seemed to warp at the impact point, pulling the air inward in a vacuum. A suffocating light blossomed at the location, erasing any details and darkness. The explosion of energy tore backwards, shredding the cavern walls and forcing all debris and dust away. The impact itself would have deafened the Id at her distance, but the barrier dampened the sound. Even with that, the sound of the metal shearing apart and rocketing past her caused her to cover her ears. The cacophony made it sound as though the gate did shatter. The discharge of magic rippled through her body, and her legs threatened to buckle, a queasiness washing over her stomach and head.

There was no dust to settle in the aftermath of the striking point, only a period of adjustment for Nightmare’s eyes to clearly see the damage. Her jaw absently fell open as she looked at what used to be the gate. The doors appeared as though they had been punched inwards, with thick slabs of metal being bent, snapped, sheared, or even melted depending on how close to the impact they were. Deep, textured indentations into the metal and stone inside marked the doors’ movement at the bottom, while the tops were bent and no longer on any kind of track.

Nightmare peered around the vicinity to take in the lack of what remained, and her head started to pound from the raw energy still lingering. Grooves in the earth, whether on the floor or ceiling, were completely clear of loose dirt, and all of the carved erosion and detail could be seen. There were no stalactite or stalagmite remaining, but large shards of metal pierced the walls, floor, and ceiling at the same distance of her wake. Some melted, and some snapped cleanly, but all bent or distorted in some way; the array of pieces offered the cavern teeth.

The Id took a deep breath and glimpsed Luna in front of the door. The princess lied on her back, her chest heaving, and her mane stopped flowing, the lights having gone out of it completely; it was a mess of silky blue strands. Nightmare approached slowly, the residual magic in the air intensifying her headache and queasiness, and it created an eerie glow in the area. Raspy breaths became audible as she walked the last few meters, but Chrysalis soared by her. Instinctively, Nightmare’s scythe was in her hooves, and she prepared to remove the changeling’s head. Her body melded into the magical hues of the room as she slipped closer.

“What the heck was that!?” the changeling cried. She lowered herself and took the princess upon her back. She moved to the hammer and attempted to lift it, but several attempts of it not budging deterred her. “Are you okay? I’m taking you to the medics.” The Id relaxed and slipped her scythe into her mane and emerged before the princess.

Luna still could not catch her breath, and her eyelids drooped as she glimpsed the Id. “I am… fine… Just wait… here.” Chrysalis set her down and sat beside her, keeping her from collapsing to the ground. The princess’s chest moved in a sweeping rhythm, and for a minute, it was the only sound among them. With a large gasp, she finally appeared to recover enough to keep her body aloft on its own, albeit wobbling. The changeling grew pensive when Luna raised a trembling hoof to Nightmare. “Do you… see?”

The Id swallowed. “You terrify me, Luna.”

Luna’s face grew plump for a second, her eyes widening, before they snapped shut and she snorted. Abruptly, she fell into a fit of laughter. “You’re such a… silly pony.”

Nightmare scowled. “Do you even have any magic left?”

The rest of the group approached, but many of them shuffled along uneasily. The shell shock of the blast echoed in their faces, the awe in their eyes, and they fanned out to examine ground zero. Celestia moved to her sister and shook her head.

Luna’s eyes were on her sister, but she replied to the Id. “I used sixty… perhaps seventy percent of my total capacity. My body is strained and fatigued, but I shall recover that and be capable of fighting some more. However, my contribution to our efforts from this point forward shall be minimized until then.”

“I still find that reckless, Luna,” Celestia chimed in. “We don’t know what’s inside, or if there are any more gates like that.”

The moon princess cleared her throat and stood up, relying on the changeling for support. “It is clear that this place has not been so disturbed in eons. With such sweeping defenses on the exterior, and these contractors being hardy foes, I highly doubt their inner domain will boast such defenses.” She sighed. “Still, I must concede that you could be right. Let us pray that Aurelius, and even Twilight, can clear such obstacles for us. For now, I am prepared to move onward.”

The group looked forward through the destroyed gate and into the sanctum within. Braziers and torches along the walls lit the way. Oddly, they seemed to cast more light than they visibly produced, but Nightmare could sense a magical element to their existence. The corridor led to a chamber that opened ahead, but she could not see into it. She felt something powerful drawing her, and took the lead. Twilight is close. It seems she hasn’t gotten much further ahead of us.

“Wait. There could be traps,” Celestia called from behind her, but she only increased pace.

The familiar sensations of Twilight’s magic grew stronger and stronger. She paused at a break in the corridor and took a deep breath. Her eyes shot open and she peered ahead. I smell blood… So much blood. She quickened her pace as she drew closer to the chamber ahead.

“Midnight!” the sun princess called again.

The Id whirled out of her trance and glanced back to her comrades. Another barrier manifested and barred their path. It shone red, and glyphs just beyond it glowed and emitted a soft hum as Luna pounded into it with partial magical augments. However, something else caught her attention; the Brood could not pass.

“That one seems to be unaffected,” spoke one of the dragons in a rumbling voice, pointing a cautious talon her way. “Yet, even we dragons cannot pass.”

Nightmare approached the barrier, stopping just on her side of it. She scanned the faces of those stuck behind, their eyes all on her. With a deep breath, she turned and started to walk on in silence.

“Surely there must be a way to disable this from the inside,” Luna called.

Nightmare paused, twisting her head back. “You don’t understand. This is not a place meant to be entered by us. I…” She swallowed, diving into her memories of Aurelius. No matter how deep she went, she could not find an origin point. Only bitter moments of the past welled to her mind, and it wasn’t enough for an answer. “I am different. I don’t know why I can move through the barriers, but I can’t wait and figure it out. Twilight is just ahead.”

Daring frowned and drove a blade into the barrier, grinding it across, but to no avail. “So, you’re not going to help?”

Nightmare shook her head. “I’ve never hidden my motive. Twilight is the most important thing to me. I will not allow her to escape me again when I am so close. None of you are in any immediate danger.”

Luna beckoned. “You will need this,” she said, offering her hammer. The Id eyed it for a few seconds, and finally returned to the barrier. Stepping through, she took it into her grasp, and Luna wrapped a foreleg around her own. Nightmare tensed, but the moon princess smiled once more. Two silvery bangles drifted out of her mane. “Until you are comfortable with using our power, you shall be aided by these.”

Nightmare nodded and equipped them on her forehooves. The hammer slid into her starry mane, disappearing into the depths of the deep mist. “Thank you, Luna.” She lurched forward and took the princess into an embrace. “Please forgive me.”

“What do you—"

Blue light engulfed the pair, burning for a few seconds, and then rapidly flowed into the Id. As it ended, the princess toppled backwards and Chrysalis fired a blast of magic at the Id. Nightmare surged to her and dispelled it with a gentle touch of her hoof. As the changeling reeled in shock, the other hoof came from around her head and forced her to the ground. The rest of the group moved to subdue her, but she dashed to the other side of the barrier, a solemn look on her face. Several members of the group shouted in anger at her, others in confusion. She turned her back to them and prepared to step away, but Luna called out to her again.

“It seems… that I must surrender all of my faith for Twilight unto you… Nightmare Moon. Do not disappoint me.” The princess started to lose consciousness.

Nightmare looked to the cold stone at her hooves and nodded. The stars in her mane had connected into constellations, and she glanced over her shoulder a final time. The sharp eyes carried the emotion that her face refused as she locked eyes with her counterpart. “Sweet dreams, Luna.” In a flash, the space beyond the barrier was empty.

Author's Note:

6/25/19 - I work too much. All I want is Hollow Knight: Silksong to come out. lol At least Ori and the Will of the Wisps got a release date...

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Comments ( 6 )

Hopefully Nightmare can knock some sense into Twilight or atleast help her fight against the vengeful ghost in her head.

It's so great to see more of this story.

9698468 That's no ghost in Twilight's head, but it's definitely getting worse...
9698811 It's not going anywhere. I'll finish it. Eventually. Probably. ;0

What you wrote is correct, but it is written, at the time of writing this, “If your in the market...” it should be, as you stated, “If you’re in the market”. I don’t remember that you used the incorrect one, though I don’t exactly remember right now.

So happy to see this updated, even if I'm a bit late.

well i hope things get better for you and hopefully this month and next year will be better.

Login or register to comment
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!