• Published 12th Aug 2013
  • 13,698 Views, 217 Comments

Warring Dusk - AlphatheGriffin17

A happy day soon descends into a war between two peoples. Canterlot is under siege, the princesses are captured and Dusk must take up arms or watch his home fall.

  • ...

Unlucky The Night Before

With the sun beginning to lower outside, replaced by the glow of stars and streetlamps, a few more added touches and a slight ache in his head from working most of the day, Dusk decided it was time to call it finished for now. There was only so much that he could add to this display and he just hoped that Cadence would find it satisfactory this time.

He hadn't really seen much of her or the others since Twilight had come by. He suspected that they were all busy working on their parts for the wedding. It would be nice to see them all for drinks this evening and discuss what had been happening with them all. Or it would be, were it not for the other looming prospect this evening.

He'd had plenty of time to think since Twilight left and he still wasn't sure exactly where he stood on this. He did agree with Twilight that Cadence was acting a lot differently than when he'd met her and from the Cadence she remembered. At the same time though, it seemed perfectly understandable, given the circumstances and the pressure that she was under. Everypony had their limits and Cadence was no different.

Still, Twilight did expect him to support her in this matter. He'd practically promised, after all. Was it worth trying to convince her to see his point of view? Combined with her stubbornness and her temper, he wasn't sure if he'd have the courage to face up to that. But he might have to do something, act in some way…

A knock sounded at the door. He looked towards it.

"Hello? Come in, it's not locked."

There was no reply, no sound of any movement. Frowning, he crossed the room and opened it with his magic. He peered around in the dark. He thought he saw a shadow move out the corner of his eye, but there was nothing.

"Hm, nopony here," he remarked.

"Guess again."

The voice directly behind him must have made him leap a foot in the air. Gales of laughter soon reached his ears and his face was burning when he turned.

"Was that completely necessary?" he asked.

"Perhaps not," giggled a grinning Princess Luna, "but it was certainly amusing."

He closed the door, fighting a reluctant smile. "I thought you were supposed to be the mature and sensible one between you and your sister."

"In a sense, but she also tells me that I should 'loosen up more', so I thought there would be no better way than to play a 'prank', as I believe it is termed, on my good friend for some general frivolity." She giggled again. "I must confess, it is extremely effective."

"Apparently so."

"In addition, with the increased security, I must take extra vigil over the night soon," she added. "I am trying to have as much enjoyment as I can before that."

"Fair enough." He let out a small chuckle. "Remind me to keep you away from Pinkie and Rainbow from now on."

"Just you try," she countered. "Come now, Dusk. It is the night before a wedding, a time when the young couple dream of each other in their beds, yearning for when they might at last share one another's warmth and love for the rest of their days."

"A time when princesses play tricks on their students and friends?"

"A fair point. Still, perhaps you should 'loosen up' a little yourself," she advised.

He smiled. "I didn't know you were the romantic type, Luna."

"I spent a thousand years trapped in the moon. I had to find ways to remain optimistic," she said, still smiling.

"A fair point," he echoed. "Even so, I find myself a little surprised."

"Why should you be?" A warm smile took over. "Weddings are a wondrous time. When two ponies are joined together in the bonds of love, all worries and cares forgotten, lost in the warmth of their embrace, a day that they will forever remember for years to come as the moment they became one. How can such a time not be looked upon as beautiful?"

"How indeed," he nodded. "That was… very profound, Luna."

"Thank you," she returned. "I've seen it many times, reflected in the dreams of those couples that I come into as part of my duties. Every time, I'm amazed with what I see."

Dusk felt his face burn again and he couldn't hold back a laugh. "I imagine it would and I also thought above such things."

Luna's face was one of confusion first, but she suddenly gasped and blushed herself when she caught his meaning.

"Dusk, how dare you imply such a thing!" she accused playfully. "I am a princess, not a peeping tom!"

"Who's to say you're not both?"

"Dusk!" She started giggling again, her blush deepening. "I could have you locked up for such a remark!"

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but first they must be thrown."

"Don't tempt me." She smiled again when her giggling subsided. "I watched you perfecting your display through the window. It looks magnificent. You are sure to make the bride and groom sparkle at the wedding. I regret I won't be able to see it."

"Thanks," he mumbled. "Why won't you be there?"

"It takes place during the day and I must rest up my strength for the night, especially after tonight with all of this increased security. I must help set an example." Her features darkened a little. "I shall be on vigilant look-out for two individuals especially."

"As will I," he promised. He'd wondered when they'd arrive at this. "Have you heard anything else?"

"Only affirmation of what we already knew. Our forces have reported that they've definitely left our borders, at the edge of the Loveless Lands," she informed him. "We've heard little beyond that, other than that one of the colonies has reported capture of a party of three."

"Three?" Dusk's blood chilled. "I… I though there were only Edge and Tube."

"Perhaps they acquired a little hired muscle, as we have discussed," she pondered. "Why does that seem to trouble you so?"

"Nothing," he said quickly. "So… this threat against Canterlot. You don't think they might be behind it?"

She studied him for a little. "Unlikely. The three of them against the might of the Royal Guard and myself and my sister? They wouldn't stand a chance."

"It would be foolish, yes," he agreed, though his fears weren't quite put to rest.

"Besides, they can hardly make threats from their current position," she reminded. "They were lucky that it was a colony, not a hive that picked them up."

"Why is that?"

"Because hives don't have prisons," she said grimly.

"I see," he nodded, getting her meaning. "You'll have to teach me about it sometime."

"Yes, studies of the other lands are something I've neglected," she realised. "I shall have to rectify that once this is over. There is much I could teach you there."

He smiled again. "I'm always eager to learn. It would make a difference from all of the fighting magic."

"I thought you might appreciate that." She looked out of the window. "Now, I had best return to my duties. It was good to see you as always, my student. Enjoy the wedding."

"I'll try." Something else occurred to him and he stopped her before she left. "Luna wait, I just want to ask, have you noticed anything… different about Cadence?"

"Well, as I've said I have not been present much at Canterlot during these preparations, but…" Her features creased in thought. "Now you mention it, she had been unusually short-tempered as of late, lacking a little in her usual demeanour. Why do you ask?"

"Dusk, I am sure that this only pre-wedding nerves. She will be fine on the day. Unless…" She looked right at him. "Is there something that you wish to tell me?"

He considered telling her what had been happening, but decided against it. She would have enough to deal with at the minute with guarding the night.

"No, nothing. You might be right," he said. "I was just wondering about it. Right, I'm going out too. Mind if I walk with you some of the way?"

She nodded and smiled. "That might be difficult when I take to the sky, but I would appreciate it."

"Happy to do it." He held the door for her and stepped into the darkened streets. "So, Luna, concerning all you said about weddings, have you ever thought you might want to experience it yourself?"

She smirked mischievously. "Dusk, while I am flattered that you would ask of me, I do not think Twilight would appreciate your proposal."

"The thought had occurred to me," he chuckled. "But the question still stands."

An almost wistful look came to her face. "Perhaps…"

"Why don't you then?" he ventured. "Surely you wouldn't have any trouble finding somepony like that?"

Her expression changed now, clouded like a starry sky. "It's not a question of finding one who will spend their life with me… it's a question of if they can."

"Oh…" Dusk suddenly felt guilty asking her. "I'm sorry…"

"Don't concern yourself," she said gently. "As they say these days, it is no big deal."

"If you say so." He patted her leg comfortingly. "You never know, you might find somepony."

She didn't say anything, only returned his look, her eyes glistening for a moment. Those ancient eyes that had seen so much, more than his own ever would… and would continue to forever.

"I had best return to my duties." She unfolded her wings. "Fare thee well for now, good Dusk."

"For now and Luna? I'm sorry, I truly am."

"It is fine." While her mouth smiled, her eyes held a different reaction. "Thank you."

"My pleasure. Besides, it wouldn't work between us anyway." He returned her smile. "You are a thousand years older than me."

Now that smile reached her eyes. "Indeed."

He stayed watching her for a moment, while she flew up to the tower her sister watched from.

"Rest, my sister. As always, I will guard the night," she pledged, letting a worn-out Celestia leave.

She gave him one last smile from the tower before turning her gaze to the land beyond. All of these years and they only had each other. It might not be much, but it was something at least. And he was part of it. That was something to be proud of.

Tpping his hat to her, he carried on down the street where he soon spotted the girls. His marefriend, greeted him with a kiss and a drink.

"There, I got your orange, your favourite," she said brightly.

"You know me well, Miss Sparkle," he said, sipping it gratefully.

"I wouldn't be much of a marefriend if I didn't." She didn't waste time getting to the point. "Bet I can guess what you're all thinking. Cadence is the absolute worst bride-to-be ever."

The others stared at her in surprise.

"Who, me?" Spike asked in a high voice, mimicking Cadence with a little figurine of her.

"Spike! That goes on the cake," Applejack said sternly. He put it down, laughing nervously.

Rarity spoke up first. "Twilight, whatever are you talking about? Cadence is an absolute gem!"

"Rarity, she was so demanding!"

"Well, of course she is! Why shouldn't she expect the very best on her wedding day?" she dismissed.

She facehoofed in reaction. "Applejack, did you know that after she told you how much she just 'love-love-loved' your hors d'eouvres, she threw them in the trash?"

"Aw, she was probably just trying to spare ma feelin's," she remarked in understanding.

"No, she was just being fake and totally insincere!" she insisted. Everypony else suddenly avoided making eye contact.

Fluttershy raised a hoof tentatively. "She did raise her voice at one of my birds during rehearsal."

"See? Rude!" she repeated, latching onto this.

"But he was singing really off-key," she added. She held up the bird in question, who demonstrated. Dusk could have sworn he felt his glasses crack a little.

"Pinkie Pie, you had to have noticed how Cadence treated–" She stopped when she realised both she and Spike were playing with the cake figures, making kissing noises and giggling. "Never mind. Rainbow Dash, you're with me, right?"

The Pegasus flexed her wings stiffly. "Sorry, Twi. Been too busy prepping for my sonic rainboom to pay much attention to the bride's bad attitude."

"Ray, come on!" she cried. "You're good with reading ponies, you must have seen something!"

"Well…" He thought for a moment. "I have to say, I haven't seen much of her, but something about her has sort of rubbed me wrong, especially considering what her reputation is like."

"See? He knows what I mean!"

"But," he added, "I don't know if it's anything bad. It's kind of hard to figure out, even for me to say anything definite. I'm not really ruling anything out but… I'm staying neutral in this one."

She growled in frustration. "Well, Dusk and I are both in agreement on this, right honey?"

"Um… yes," he said unsurely, not willing to stand against her in this state.

"See? See?" She placed a leg around him. "Cadence was criticising his colours, bossing him around like nopony's business. She's bad news!"

Dusk glanced around nervously. The others were starting to exchange understanding looks.

"The princess is about to get married. I'm sure any negative behaviour she might be displaying is simply the result of nerves," said Rarity.

Twilight shoved her hoof away and slammed hers on the table. "And I'm sure it's the result of being an awful pony who doesn't deserve to even know Shining Armor, let alone marry him!"

"Think maybe you're bein' just a tiny bit possessive of your brother?" suggested Applejack.

"And I feel that you're being rather unkind, pressuring Dusk into siding with you like this just because she didn't speak highly to him," put in Rarity. "Dusk, you can be honest. You don't need to pretend."

The others all agreed.

But Twilight was having none of it. "I am not being possessive, he is being honest, and I am not taking it out on Cadance! You're all just too caught up in your wedding planning to notice that maybe there shouldn't even be a wedding!"

She slammed her hoof down again, knocking over everypony's drinks and stalking off. Dusk glanced from them to her, gulped and scrambled after her.

"Twilight," he began gently, "I think perhaps you should calm down and-"

"Is it true what Rarity said?" she suddenly asked.

"W-what do you m-mean?"

"I mean that you're just agreeing with me because it's what I want to hear." She rounded angrily on him. "You'd better not lie to me, because we both know I can tell."

Dusk swallowed again. "Well um… I do think that um… you might be right about Cadence. Your um… your concerns are certainly warranted."


"But… maybe you might be… sort of um… well…"

"Spit it out!"

"Twilight, please!" Her moment of stunned silence gave him some hoofing. "Okay, I just think you might be jumping to conclusions here. The girls might be right, in that she's just acting this way as a result of nerves."

"But I thought you agreed with me!"

"I do, to an extent. I do believe that Cadence is acting adversely to how she has before, but I also think we shouldn't make any rash judgements." He reached out for her. "Please, just calm down and think for a moment."

She pushed his hoof down and looked away. "Fine then, you want further proof? We're going to see my brother and see what he thinks. He'll understand, he'll agree with me and you'll see my side of it."

"Twilight, please…"

"Don't start with me, Dusk," she snapped, walking away. "I'm not in the mood right now. Come on."

He sighed, knowing there was no point in trying to argue with her now. Maybe a visit to her brother's would help put her fears to rest. She would need something to help set her on track, so maybe this would be it. He didn't want to dig himself in a deeper hole than he already had.

It didn't take them long to find Shining's house. It was quite a grand affair, as were most homes in Canterlot and flanked by two Shadow Guards at the entrance. They nodded to Twilight and Dusk, while the former knocked on the door.

Shining smiled in greeting, already dressed in a formal uniform and wearing a silver badge on his chest, stepping aside so they could come in. Already he could see the signs of his personal effects, including some crossed swords on the wall, a shield above the door and two suits of armour beside the fire place.

"Twily! Your big brother's looking pretty good, don't you think?"

"You look fit to wed a princess, Shining," supplied Dusk.

"Thanks, that was kind of the idea," he chuckled. "Your coltfriend's got good taste, Twily." He looked and saw her bottom lip quivering, her eyes shimmering. "Huh. Everything okay?"

"We need to talk," she said urgently. "I think you're making a big–"

She was interrupted by somepony clearing their throat. They looked to see Cadence descending from upstairs, looking accusingly at both him and Twilight. Again, a sense of unease gripped him from that.

"Oh, uh, hi, sweetie," Shining said nervously.

"She sure has a way of sneaking up on people," muttered Twilight.

"Could I speak to you for a moment, dear?" she asked in a tone that didn't suggest anything friendly.

He looked awkwardly at them both. "Better see what she wants."

Dusk could see Twilight giving him a scrutinizing look while they closed the door to another room. He was about to say something, when their voices reached his ears. Though the door was shut, their discussion could still be heard, muffled where they were.

He looked to Twilight, who was already edging closer. Reluctantly, he followed her.

"Look, we need to talk," Cadence started.

"I'm here to talk," assured Shining.

"It's about your sister and her coltfriend, okay?"

"I– look, look, she's okay, so's he–"

"Just... listen to me."

"I'm listening, I'm listening."

"I thought I made it perfectly clear I didn't want you to wear that," the princess said when they reached the door.

Peering through the crack, Dusk watched while Shining displayed the badge proudly.

"This was my favourite uncle's."

"And?" Cadence asked icily.

"And I think I should wear it," he followed up.

"Are you disagreeing with me?" she demanded.

"I guess I am– " The instant he said those words, he clutched his head and cried out in pain. He grimaced visibly, like he was fighting against something.

Cadence stepped forward. "Oh, dear. Are you getting another one of your headaches?"

Instantly, she cast a stream of green magic from her horn at his head. A green glow appeared around it, seeping into his eyes and left them unfocused, staring vacantly. Dusk felt his own widen at this.

"Feeling better?" she asked. Shining nodded dumbly in response, his eyes still green and unfocused.

Dusk looked once at Twilight, saw the look on her face and knew what she must be thinking. She gestured to the door, he nodded and the two of them ran, ignoring Shining's calls. They didn't stop until they were in the next street.

"Need any more convincing?" Twilight panted. "She's not just unpleasant and rude. She's downright evil!"

"It seems that way but…"

"Dusk, you can't still be on the fence with this!" she groaned. "You saw with your own eyes what she did!"

"I'm not really sure what I saw," he admitted. "It looked bad, but it could have been something entirely different."

"Like what, exactly?"

"He had a headache. It could have been to lessen the pain of it. You've used spells like that on me before."

"But they've never had that kind of effect on you!" she argued. "You saw it! It was like he was hypnotised or something. He's in trouble, we've got to warn everypony!"

"Twilight, just wait a moment and-"

But she had already taken off down the street. "No time, hurry!"

"Not the first time I've followed you around in Canterlot," he muttered, giving chase.

He did sort of stand by what he had said in that it could have been some sort of therapeutic magic for his headaches. He'd gotten one after re-energising the shield when they'd seen him and having to keep it up constantly would be a strain. Just like how Cadence's wedding planning would be a strain on her.

Even so, one thing nagged in his mind… why was her colour aura green? Usually, unicorns and alicorns had auras that matched them in some way, in their fur colour or eyes. Cadence wasn't green in any aspect of her body, so why was it like that? It wasn't exactly much in the way of proof though, he didn't even know what they were supposed to be proving.

He caught her heading to where the girls all were. He picked up the pace, hoping it wouldn't be too late.

"Who goes there?" demanded Luna from her balcony. "Stay indoors, Twilight Sparkle."

"Don't worry, she's with me!" he called up to her.

Twilight had already burst through the door. "Shining Armor's in real trouble! You have to help–"

She stopped talking and Dusk saw why. Talking excitedly, their manes styled elegantly and decorated with flowers, the girls were all wearing beautiful gowns they most certainly didn't have before.

"Dresses? What are you–?"

"Can you believe it?" Fluttershy felt the fabric of her dress, beaming. "We're gonna be Princess Mi Amore Cadenza's new bridesmaids!"

"New bridesmaids? What happened to her old bridesmaids?" asked Dusk.

"She didn't say. But she did tell us that she would love-love-love it if we'd fill in fer them," answered Applejack.

"Seeing as we've been working so hard and everything," put in Rarity.

"And you had your doubts about her."

"Told you she was an absolute gem!"

"You sure this is what I should wear?" Rainbow asked. "Doesn't seem all that aerodynamic."

"I'll see what I can do," Rarity said, leading her off.

"Ray, do you know what happened to them?" asked Dusk.

"Huh?" Ray had been more interested in how Fluttershy was dressed and now blushed furiously. "Nothing's happened, nothing at all, absolutely nothing, I wasn't staring, what are you talking about, shut up!"

Dusk backed away and was dragged out by Twilight, who shut the door behind her.

"Isn't this proof enough?" she hissed. "Her bridesmaids have gone missing, doesn't that tell you something?"

"I suppose but…" He sighed, trying anyway. "There could be any number of reasons why her old ones have gone. Maybe they were a security threat."

"Then why didn't she say anything?" she countered. "What kind of threat could those three mares cause?"

"Looks can deceive," he said pointedly. "It may not be that, it could be something else."

"No, it isn't! She did something to them!" She growled and shook her head. "Why are you doing this, Dusk? I thought you were on my side."

"I am on your side, Twilight, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with what's happening." He stepped forward. "I'm trying to help before you do something you'll regret."

"The only thing I'll regret is if I do nothing, while my brother marries some evil witch!" she retorted. "Why is it that you refuse to see that?"

"Why are you interpreting everything that's happening here as a threat against Shining?"

"Because it is!" she yelled. "Like I said, ignoring the truth when it's staring in you in the face."

"I suppose you'd know." He instantly regretted those words the moment he said them. "Twilight, I didn't…"

"Fine then." Her eyes were shimmering again and she refused to look at him. "If you won't see the truth when it's standing right in front of you, I'll just have to show you, along with everypony else. I have the proof and I'm going to act on it."

"What do you mean?"

"Tomorrow will be my last chance before the wedding. I'm confronting Cadence then during the rehersal, with or without you." She looked up. "So, are you with me?"

He wanted to say yes. He really did, but he couldn't. Not this time. He wanted to say something to make her understand, to explain himself, but nothing came to mind.

She nodded slowly. "Looks like I really am on my own. So much for having my back."

Without looking back, she stalked off into the night. He reached out for her, but words still failed him and he only watched while she walked off alone.

Celestia felt like she was floating. Her limbs, her body, every fiber of her being seemed weightless and unburdened, as though in water. She tried to stand, only for her legs to kick and strain without purchase. Her wings stretch out as she struggles to take flight. But something was holding her back. The very air seemed thick and heavy, and the strokes of her wings brought no movement. The unfamiliar sensation of fear began to creep into her stomach.

What had happened? Where was she?

Her eyes cracked open, pupils dilating as she peered into the gloom. She blinked rapidly, waiting, then willing, than practically demanding them to adjust. The darkness remained absolute. Frustrated, she tried to cast an illumination spell ahead of her. Her horn glows somewhat, and a bright sphere of light shot out from the tip. She is dazzled from the sudden change, and it is all she can do not to slam her eyes shut to ward off the glare.

What she saw made her freeze in disbelief.

The light brought no illumination. It cut into the darkness as though it were puncturing a physical barrier, only for the blackness to coil inwards and snuff it out of existence. There was nothing out there.

Dread crept into her thoughts, and she twisted her body to the side before sending off another sphere of light into the unknown.


Her head curved and spun, shooting off light into every direction. In every case, the same. The lights met the darkness, and the darkness consumed them. A lightless abyss stretched out around her, and she was alone.

Her mind raced. Where was she? How had she come to be trapped here? As though in response to her panic, the darkness pressed inwards, and it seemed that she was no longer floating, but being held firmly in place. A fixed point in a sea of emptiness.


She tried to calm down and think. The last thing she could remember...was being in her room...and going to sleep... so then that meant... was she dreaming? Was all of this just a dream?

She was dreaming, she knew that much. Though she controlled the sun, even Celestia knew when she had entered this particular realm. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem. Her dreams never were. With her own magic and a passive influence of her sister, it was enough to keep her nights peaceful and undisturbed.

This time though, it felt different. She couldn't feel her sister's influence and her power felt dwindled somehow. Whatever might happen tonight in her dream, she wouldn't be able to prevent and she wasn't sure she'd like it.

Before she coul dwell on this further, she felt a presence against her mind. Expecting Luna's, she reached out towards it with her own...and then promptly recoiled and drew back. That presence... she knew it all too well. And it hadn't been her sister. It was too large...too violent...and far, far too angry. It was something that she'd hoped she would never have to deal with again.

For the first time in a long time, she started to become scared.

Then she started to feel the presence again, drawing closer to her. The darkness around her began to lift, slowly becoming red as strange bubbles begun to rise around her, as though she were in water. Looking up, she saw no surface, the bubbles simply rising on out of sight.

And this presence around her... despite her efforts to keep away from it, she felt it coming closer, getting larger against her mind. Even while trying to keep it out of her head, she can tell that it is massive and powerful. She could feel it emanating something dark... a deep burning force that she recognizes as rage. Pure, seething rage directed at her, of such magnitude and power that she herself could feel in her mind.

As this happened, the bubbles around her were becoming more abundant, rising up at more frequent intervals and in larger numbers, as though boiling in response to this growing heat and the presence to which it belongs.

And then she heard the voice around her.


It was deep and guttural, speaking slowly and deliberately and coming from everywhere at once as it said her name, its voice seething with a mocking tone.

The bubbles rising up below her started to coalesce into two large forms ahead of her. Abstract at first, they slowly started to take shape, becoming more round in their new forms. Then the bubbles begin to fade, with colour replacing them.

White, red, black...by the time it was done, Celestia found herself staring into two large eyes, red with slit-pupils, and absolutely filled with fury as they stared back at her.

The voice spoke again. "At long last, we have the chance to speak…" It sounded simultaneously amused and malevolent.

That fear gripped her even more. Despite her attempts to put on a brave face, even her voice faltered when she found the courage to address it.

"I command you… release me from this dream."

It only laughed. "You are in no place to make demands of me."

Desperate, she tried to reach for her sister for aid. The presence cut through her mental reach like a blade through bone and flesh.

"I have blocked the link with your sister. It's just the two of us in here," it growled.

With barely contained fright, Celestia slowly asked, "What do you want?"

The response was simple, yet menacing. "You know exactly what it is that I want." It began to rise with every syllabl it spoke, each one like a bolt loosed from a crossbow.

"You ponies are naïve. You, and all other races along with you...you are all frail and weak. You and your sister, Celestia, are no different. You are all nothing more than specks of dust; unworthy of the dominancy you have so boldly claimed. I was free...free, with the strength and authority that nature itself intended, while you mortals were permitted to exist, pursuing your meaningless goals in the shadows of greater power.

"But that time has come and gone, Celestia. You opposed the natural order. Your kind has already felt the consequences of such an act, long ago...and they shall soon feel them again. Your kind has set me for me a repeating cycle of imprisonment...within these ABOMINABLE walls of your own...but if there is one thing I have learned during my time among these worms, it is this: no prison lasts forever.

"Your kind has insulted me, Celestia. The gravest mistake it has ever made. By having the gall to trap me within such a prison as THIS...it is an insult I will not stand for. I have had many ages with which to mull on this, to allow my anger to grow, awaiting the fateful day... And now...I sense the time is near. I will have my revenge, Celestia. And I will have it soon."

Now, the darkness receded and she began to wish for it back from what she saw.

Canterlot was burning. All of its majestic spires and towers had been knocked aside, the grand city only a lifeless husk while the flames ate away at the remains. Blackened and burning too were the remains of her subjects, as devoid of life as her great city. They were all reaching out, like they hoped to find some aid before they had been consumed.

Her eyes were forced to look beyond that. It wasn't just Canterlot, but all of Equestria. Ponyville, Las Pegasus, Manehattan, Appleloosa, Trottingham. Prance, all of it. All of it was destroyed. Gone. Nothing was left, not even of the ponies who lived there. It was all gone. Her ponies, her subjects… Twilight.

And beyond even that. The Loveless Lands, every Changeling hive and colony, the Griffin Kingdoms, North and South, the Buffalo Plains, Kubwa Tambarare, all of it. Everywhere was gone and in their place, huge silhouettes towered over them, long necks, hunting eyes and sharp teeth hunting down all that remained.

And above it all, those eyes, piercing her like knives.

"And when that time comes...your precious subjects will know the mistakes of their ancestors. I will raze their lands, destroy their lives, render all that you have achieved over these years to naught. They will know pain and despair the likes of which has never been seen. They, and all living things, shall perish before me and my kind...and even you and your sister, Princess Celestia...even with your false immortality...you will be helpless to do anything but watch, just as you could do nothing but watch all those years ago! You will only be able to watch as I bring everything you know to an END!"

Celestia awoke, breathing heavily, cold sweat trickling down her face. She was staring up at the celling of her room, wrapped in the silky sheets of her blankets. She was awake… but she most certainly wasn't relieved.

She sat up in her bed and started to think on something in particular. In all of her years ruling, while she had seen things and done things that would likely traumatize any normal pony, she herself had very rarely ever been frightened by anything. One such was Discord, after she and her sister were nearly defeated by him. The only other scenario had been when her sister had turned into Nightmare Moon; she hadn't been scared of her sister, but rather for her sister.

Other than that, she had never been frightened. She had power of the sun and the love of her subjects. She never had reason to.

But there was one thing. One thing that the very memory of chilled Celestia down to her bones. One thing that, where all else failed, truly managed to scare Celestia like a filly. One thing that she had witnessed with her own eyes as it laid waste to thousands of her people, mercilessly slaughtering them while they struggled against it, while she had at the time been helpless to do anything but watch. One thing that she hoped, though she knew otherwise deep down, she would never have to deal with or think about again.

And that one thing...was now underneath her roof.

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