• Published 11th Sep 2013
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Second Princess of the Night - Senyu



With King Sombra gone, is Equestria truely safe from harm? Or will another foe as old as the Crystal Kingdom itself appear now that the dark unicorn's position of evil is vacant? What new danger will threaten the land and the Elements of Harmony?

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Act III - Chapter 40

“Ruby…” Twilight quietly said before trailing off. Her unease was apparent to the others as they waited for her to continue. They briefly glanced amongst each other, catching the notes of confusion and worry in each other’s eyes within the candlelight. Among them, Applejack and Rarity held the most concerned expressions at the mention of the name. Then, a moment of panic seemed to come over Twilight as her breathing increased, but she calmed herself with a deep breath, and spoke with trepidation. “Ruby is… A part of me…”

Each pony waited for her to continue, but Twilight was at a loss for words again.

“Twalight,” Applejack suddenly said in a soft voice. “Ya can’t go blaming yourself for whats happened. You aren’t that pony anymore. You never were.”

Twilight winced at the statement, but she shook her head in reply. “I… I know… But that’s not what I’m trying to explain… Just… Listen, please. Ruby isn’t some trick or spell that Night Wal-.“ Twilight’s ears fell when she paused at the name, but made herself to continue. “She isn’t some spell Night Walker used to control me. To be honest, I’m still not exactly sure what she is but... She’s real, and she’s still inside me.”

Applejack and Rarity looked to each other with greater concern, Fluttershy drew her hooves close to herself, Spike looked up to Twilight with a confused look, Pinkie Pie merely tilted her head as she blinked, and Celestia wore a stoic and hard face.

“Twilight,” Celestia said with a firm voice. “Do you mean to say that even now Ruby is conscious within you?” Twilight shamefully looked away at Celestia’s intense stare, but nodded meekly in reply. Celestia’s wings quivered ever so slightly at the answer, and she visibly showed a great deal of effort to take a deep breath. Afterwhich, she appeared to have calmed herself, but the look in her eyes remain unchanged.

“Are you able to remove her?”

“No…” Twilight replied.

Celestia’s lip tightened, and a silence passed through the room.

When nothing else was said, Rarity furrowed her brow. “What’s going on?” she asked looking back and forth between Celestia and Twilight. “Exactly what does this all mean?” When neither answered, she settled her eyes on Twilight and leaned towards her. “Twilight, please answer me. What’s happening?”

Twilight pulled her hooves closer to herself and began to rub them against each other. “Well, remember when you met me in Fillydelphia? I… I had called myself Ruby. I’m sure you thought I was suffering amnesia, but the truth is… that wasn’t me. I was somewhere inside, only partially aware of what was happening to and around me. I had been like that the entire time. Ever since Night Walker to-… took my memories from me… She had been the one in control.”

“So when we tried to tell you we we’re yer friends...” Applejack said.

“You weren’t talking to me. You we’re talking to her,” Twilight replied sorrowfully. “I could hear you, but I could never answer. And no matter how many times I tried…” Twilight’s body shook as wheeze escaped her. “She wouldn’t listen… She never listened!”

Everyone was quiet as Twilight steadied herself again, all of them trying to calm themselves in kind at Twilight’s visible pain. “But now…” Twilight said after a shuddered breath. “Now she’s no longer in control. When all my memories came back, something happened to us to cause our positions to switch. Now… she’s somewhere inside me…”

The sound of wood splintering caused everyone’s ears to perk, and they all turned to Spike who was gripping the edge of the table with such force that he nearly punctured all the way through it. Tears streamed from his eyes, but his pained glare and gritted teeth showed a fire within. “Stealing your memories wasn’t enough, so he put another pony in you?”

Twilight’s mouth hung open at the glare Spike stared up at her with. She couldn’t recall a time seeing him like this, seeing a fire that burned with fury and pain at the same time, or even a time he had been so damaging to furniture. A hurt expression passed over Twilight’s face, and she placed a hoof onto Spike’s claw.

Spike turned his head as he tried to blink away the tears, but his frown did not disappear, and his grip on the table only lessened slightly beneath Twilight’s gentle touch.

Twilight stared long and hard at Spike, then sighed. “No, I don’t think he put her inside of me.”

“Then how did she get there?” Spike asked.

“I’m not sure,” Twilight said as she pulled her hoof away. “To be honest, I’m not sure if she was entirely her own pony to begin with. Ever since Night Walker used that amulet on me, it felt like I was slowly splitting myself apart… I’m not sure how to describe it, but I don’t even know when she actually appeared.” Twilight turned her head to stare absentmindedly at one of the candles. “It’s hazy, but with each passing day she became stronger and stronger. And each time she did, I felt like I was being pushed down, stuffed under a pillow or water. Eventually she wouldn’t even acknowledge me, and I became more and more faint…”

The sudden touch of Spike placing a claw on Twilight’s legs caused her to flinch, and she turned to him. His scowl still remained on his face, but his watered eyes showed the comfort he tried to convey to her. Twilight gave him a thankful nod as she patted his claw, then turned back to everyone in the room. “Eventually, I found a part of myself that I could hold onto that she couldn’t push me away from. I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to stay, and even talk to her later.”

A smile suddenly appeared on Twilight’s face, and her voice held a hint of joy. “Then you girls showed up. I still couldn’t remember who you were, but every time you were near me, I could feel something happening. Like a piece of myself I had lost was coming back. It’s like you gave me strength to keep going. And when she made me stronger, more aware, it was easier to think about you all.”

Twilight smiled at the moments she could recall, how Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash stood by her, fought for her, and even believed in her no matter how many times they were told otherwise. She remembered how she felt when Ruby extended her connections within their soul so that she could feel more, understand more, and develop feelings for things outside of her core. It was during that time that the bat ponies began to fill her heart as well, along with the appearance of Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash. A feeling of pride and deep gratefulness filled her at the thought of what her friends did, but with it came the feeling of dread of also recalling everything Ruby had said to them, and the things she had almost done to them.

All too soon Twilight’s mind trailed to the field she had lain in when her memories had returned to her, and the conversation she had with Ruby. Twilight’s face became tight at the thought of it, and she had to mentally keep herself in check from flashing her fangs in disgust, a knee-jerk reaction that only madecaused her to feel even more deplorable.

“How do we get rid of it?” Rarity asked with a cold voice.

“I don’t know…” Twilight replied.

“There must be a way. That thing can’t stay inside of you.” Rarity turned to Celestia. “There must be a way to get rid of it, isn’t there?”

Celestia did not respond. Instead, her gaze remained fixed on Twilight.

“Princess!” Rarity pressed, glaring until Celestia finally turned her eyes to her. “Is there anything we can do?”

Celestia regarded Rarity for a moment, then turned her eyes back to Twilight who also looked towards her with an equally pressing but more timid expression.

“From what I know of the matter,” Celestia began, “it is not an easy thing to remove. It… She is a part of your very being, etched into the fibers of your soul. As to what extent she is a part of you, I cannot say. But am I to understand she was the one in control when we met on the balcony?”

“Yes, and I’m sorry for that,” Twilight replied quietly.

“Then it appears she’s stable,” Celestia said, followed by a defeated sigh. “I do not know of any methods to remove her without damaging you in the process. Even then, I cannot say if she would vanish or not.”

“But you know what she is? I mean, more in the sense than what I already know?” Twilight asked, putting her hooves onto the table as she leaned forward. “You know what I’m dealing with?”

“I’ve never experienced it myself, but yes… I am familiar,” Celestia replied. “It was an occurrence I’ve had the misfortune to come across only a few times. Though, usually they vanished after the pony had recovered back to their normal selves.”

“I’m getting confused,” Pinkie Pie exclaimed. “Is there a pony inside Twilight or not? How does she even fit?”

“It’s not like that, Pinkie,” Twilight said. “It’s more that she’s in my mind.”

“Oh,” Pinkie Pie said with a much more understanding tone. “Can you say ‘hi’ to her for me?”

“Pinkie,” Rarity all but shouted. “This isn’t a game.”

“I know that,” Pinkie Pie replied. “I just wanted to greet her is all.”

“Pinkie, Ah’m with Rarity on this one,” Applejack said. “Twalight has… something inside of her. Ah think Ah’m following what’s going on, but we need to focus on what to do about it, not throw it a party. Understand, Sugarcube?”

Pinkie Pie gave them a sour face as she placed her hooves onto the table. “I get what’s going on too. And besides Me, Princess Celestia, and Twilight, you two keep calling her an it. I don’t think that’s very nice.”

“By Equestria, Pinkie,” Rarity said as she brought a hoof to her temple. “This isn’t the time for this. This is a serious matter.”

“I know it’s serious too!” Pinkie Pie replied. “Which is why I’m talking to her.” Turning her head back to Twilight, Pinkie Pie asked, “Did she say hi back?”

“Oh, for the love of…” Rarity muttered beneath her breath.

“Uh… No, she didn’t,” Twilight said.

“What’s the matter? Can’t she talk?”

“Pinkie Pie, I’d rather we didn’t do this…” Twilight said. “She isn’t a pony I want to talk to...”

Pinkie Pie lowered her ears as she leaned back into her chair. “Oh… Okay. I just figured she was lonely was all.”

“Why would it be lonely?” Rarity asked with a wave of her hoof.

“Because she’s far away from her bat ponies,” Pinkie Pie replied.

Everyone stared at Pinkie Pie like she was the most absurd thing they had ever seen, all except Twilight who widened her eyes at the statement, and clutched her chest at a faint tingling sensation within her.

"..."

Twilight’s pulse rose as she gripped the table, forcing herself to pay attention to anything other than the brief contact within herself.

“Back to the matter at hoof,” Celestia said, waiting until everyone’s attention was on her. “Twilight, you said that she found a cure for the bat ponies.”

“Y-Yes, that’s right,” Twilight replied.

Celestia nodded in her direction before stepping down from her chair, an action everyone else did as well a moment later. “I must return to Canterlot. There is much I must discuss with my sister.”

“You’re going already?” Twilight asked in a quiet voice.

Celestia gave her a warm smile, then walked over to her so that she could pull Twilight into an embrace with her wings. “I’m sorry I must leave so soon.” Wrapping her wings around Twilight tighter, Celestia rested her cheek against Twilights who eagerly returned the comforting gesture. “I am overjoyed to have you back, my dear Twilight,” Celestia whispered. “We will talk more when I return. But for now, rest, and be with your friends. You will get through this, of that I’m sure. I trust that you will be able to recover from all of this.”

“I’ll try,” Twilight whispered back, pressing into her as a tear formed.

“I’m certain you will,” Celestia replied.

After squeezing each other one last time, they regretfully pulled away, and Celestia turned to face them all. “I’ll return when I can. Until then, I ask that you all remain in Ponyville. A flight of my guards will remain here for the time being. Mayor Mare has graciously given them temporary board and food at the town hall. If you have any need of their assistance, please let them know. Until I return, my little ponies, take care of yourselves.”

With one last nod and reassuring smile, Celestia made for the door, then vanished into the night, her golden aura illuminating the door’s handle it as closed behind her.

Twilight stood staring at the door until Spike gently placed a claw on her leg, giving her a supportive smile as she wiped a tear from her eye. In return, she pulled him close for a hug, then the two of them went back to the table. Everyone else sat themselves as well, and they all looked amongst each other for what to say next.

“So,” Pinkie Pie said first. “Did she say hi yet?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“It’s strange,” Twilight said.

“Hmm?” Rarity replied.

Twilight forlornly stared into the her cup of freshly poured tea she held, tilting it slightly as she idly watched the candlelight flash across its surface. “With everything that’s happened, I’ve gotten these moments where things almost feel like they’re normal. Like none of this had happened at all.” Sighing to herself, she brought the cup down to her lap. “Then like that, it’s gone…”

Rarity sat across from Twilight, the two of them sitting on cushioned chairs near one of the covered windows. Rarity turned to look at Spike and Pinkie Pie asleep on the floor, sharing a blanket and pillow due to the rest having been kicked away while dreaming. Applejack made a noise now and again from the kitchen, and Fluttershy was away tending to her animals that would soon wake with the dawn. Rarity turned back to Twilight, and stared into her crimson eyes.

“I know the feeling…” Rarity quietly said.

“... I’m sorry all of this happened…”

“Twilight, you can’t blame yourself,” Rarity replied. “None of this is your fault.”

“But if I’d done things differently then none of this would have happened,” Twilight pressed. “If I’d never gotten close to Night Walker, or tried to do handle everything on my own, then all of this could have been avoided...”

Rarity felt her gut tighten at Twilight’s sorrowful face staring at her, then turned away. “I wish you hadn’t either…”

It took only a moment for Rarity to widen her eyes at her comment, and she quickly turned back to Twilight who wore a stunned expression. “T-That’s not what I meant!” Rarity exclaimed as she leaned forward and reached a hoof towards Twilight. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say that!”

Twilight gave her a pained glance, but it vanished quickly beneath a sad smile. “It’s okay…”

“Twilight, I-”

Twilight shook her head as she set her cup aside on an end table. “I’m sorry. You have every right to be mad at me. I’m the reason you all had to search for me. I’m the reason why you have that scar on your leg. And I’m the reason why ponies are dead…”

“Twilight...”

Twilight closed her eyes, and tears began to trail down her cheeks. Yet, still she smiled. “I’m supposed to be a princess, and all I’ve done is be kidnapped and controlled by a mad pony. Because of that, other ponies are dead. All because I let myself be taken. They died because of me. I still remember some of their faces and… and... “ A shaky laugh escaped Twilight that turned into a wheeze, followed by a gasp of air as her smile finally gave way. “And now I’ll never get to meet them like I should have. I was too scared of being a princess that now I’ll never be able to take care of them!”

With a dreadful anxiety, Twilight clutched her hooves together. “I’ll never be able to live with myself for everythings that happened. I’ll never be able to wash this blood from my hooves! I… I don’t know what to do!”

The pain in her chest caused Twilight to grab her stomach, feeling that she might become sick as her mind raced through her violent memories. But despite the heartbreaking pain, Twilight found she was able to stop herself from crying further, somehow. A faint breath left her lips, and a sudden but hollow feeling rose up inside her as she stared absentmindedly at the ground. Her thoughts slowed, and her body felt heavy. Her pain remained a deep ache, but it was dull for the moment, bringing an uneasy numbness.

I’ll never be able to give back the lives my hooves have taken… even if I wasn’t the one that moved them…

Twilight’s eyes glazed over at the empty feeling that filled her, and her body slumped in her chair. Whether this strange sensation was better than feeling the remorse she felt she needed to bear, she could not tell, but her numbed state did not last long when Rarity’s faint cries reached her ears.

“Please, Twilight… Don’t make me hate you…”

Twilight blinked as her mind snapped out of the lethargic state, and turned her eyes to Rarity who was all but beset with herself. She had wrapped her hooves around her body as tightly as she could, and her face was contorted as she cried from her shut eyes.

Staring opened mouth in confusion at Rarity, then tentatively reached a hoof towards her. However, the moment she touched her, Rarity to flinch as if in pain, causing Twilight to quickly withdraw her hoof.

“Rarity, what’s wrong?”

Rarity shook her head as she buried her face behind her hooves, her body rocking forward and back ever so slightly.

“Rarity!” Twilight exclaimed in a hoarse voice. Fresh tears began to fall at Rarity’s unresponsive and worrying behavior, and Twilight found her wings quivering as her heart fell. “R-Rarity, please! What’s wrong? Do…” Twilight swallowed a lump that had appeared in her throat. “... Do you really hate me?”

Rarity finally lifted her head, and looked to Twilight with watered eyes as her chin trembled. “No! I don’t!”

“Then what’s wrong?” Twilight asked, extending her hooves out to her for comfort once again.

Rarity stared apprehensive at Twilight’s outstretched hooves, then hesitantly extended hers towards them. Much to Twilight’s relief, the moment Rarity touched her she held onto them as tightly as she could, but it was only a brief alleviation of her concern as Rarity’s shoulders rocked from forced back sobs.

Twilight waited patiently for Rarity to get the worst of it out of her, using the time to recollect herself as well. Eventually when Rarity’s breathing had become more even, and her body no longer felt like it was able to shake any further, she took a deep breath, and pulled a hoof back for only a moment to wipe her eyes.

“Do… Do you know anything about the Gemstone family?” Rarity asked with a shaky voice.

Taken aback at the academic question, Twilight answered, “I know they were the rulers of a kingdom that existed a thousand years ago. There aren’t many records left about them, but they supposedly had a prosperous rule until a disaster of some kind crumbled their kingdom.” Twilight gently tightened her hold on Rarity’s hooves. “What do they have to do with this?”

Rarity sniffed as her breathing steadied, and she focused her eyes to the ground. “Well… It seems those ponies who attacked you were the descendants of that royal family. Princess Celestia explained it to myself and Applejack.” Rarity’s voice was quiet at first, but she grew more confident with each word. “Long ago, their kingdom suffered an attack of… Celestia, how else am I supposed to say it… undead ponies. I can only imagine how horrible that must have been. Shambling corpses and rotting fle-AUGH! I can hardly think about it!” Rarity shivered at the idea. Even as she thought about it, she tried to pull her hooves away from Twilight, but forced herself to stay connected.

“When… When their kingdom fell… They sought revenge on all undead. They found a unicorn to make a pact, a deal, or a curse, I’m not entirely certain. But in the end, they swore an eternal oath of vengeance against all undead.”

“That’s… Well… Wow, I don’t know what to say to that,” Twilight replied in genuine astonishment.

“But their oath didn’t stay as strong as they hoped over the years,” Rarity said. “Something about dilluded bloodlines and fading spells.”

“And this has to do with you how?” Twilight asked, though a unsettling idea had already begun to take root in the back of her mind.

To her growing fear, Rarity hesitantly looked into her eyes, showing all the sorrow, dread, and conflict that was within her.

“The Gemstone’s had one defining feature, something that only they had at the time during their rule. Each royal member had a pure white coat, and dark hue of a mane that was like the night.”

Twilight’s eyes flashed over Rarity’s hooves, then to her hair, then back to her eyes. Rarity, however, shamefully averted her gaze.

“Rarity,” Twilight said with a reassuring smile. “Do you know how many ponies had similar coats? It’s not like the Gemstone’s were the only ponies who were white and purple. Ponies back then always proclaimed some bold or unique feat.”

“I know that,” Rarity replied though while still looking away. “But…But I am a descendant of them. I know because I felt it, Twilight. Their magical curse is in me, and I’m afraid of what it will make me do…”

“That’s ridiculous,” Twilight pressed. “How do you know that's true?”

“... Do you remember the construction yard?”

Twilight blinked as she frowned to recall what that meant, but the hazy memories soon came, and Twilight’s comforting mood vanished at the recollection of that night.

Rarity pulled her hooves away, finding no resistance from Twilight. “That night when we fought for you… I was overcome by something. A strange state of mind…” Rarity’s breathing had returned to a calm and steady state as she looked away as if staring into the distance, anywhere that wasn’t Twilight. “Everything felt so simple, so easy. It was like there was nothing I needed to concern myself with. I just needed to do what I needed to do. And because of that… I hurt many ponies…”

Twilight’s eyes widened at the statement, and she saw how Rarity narrowed her eyes ever so slightly from her memories, an action Twilight had become all too familiar with of late.

“I don’t know how much you remember, but I stood by your side, defending you with everything I had.”

“I remember…” Twilight quietly said before flashing her a small smile. “It was only because of you that I got away.”

Rarity briefly looked at Twilight, but shamefully turned away again. “But that isn’t everything… Celestia how I wished it were the only thing I needed to worry about…"

“What do you mean?” Twilight asked with worry. Sitting at the edge of her seat, Twilight grabbed Rarity’s hooves again and held onto them until she finally looked at her. “What’s wrong?”

A breath escaped Rarity at seeing Twilight’s eyes widen with concern for her, and she could no longer hold it back. Without hesitation, Rarity fell forward into Twilight who caught her in her arms. Twilight gasped in surprise as the two of them fell from their chairs and onto the floor with each other, much like they had been yesterday. Though, instead of Rarity brushing a soothing hoof across Twilight’s frantic form, it was Twilight comforting Rarity.

“I don’t want to hate you!” Rarity cried as she buried her face into Twilight’s shoulder. “I don’t want to hate any of my friends! I don’t want to be an awful pony who hates her friends, but I can’t sta-ah-ah-ahop!”

Twilight opened her mouth to reply, but instead choose to continue rubbing Rarity’s back in a reassuring manner all while quietly crying along with her.

“It’s only happened a few times, but those awful ponies said it would keep happening!” Rarity continued, her voice becoming more erratic and high pitched. “They wanted me to perform some horrible ritual to make me like that all the time. As if I would ever! But even without it, I’ve felt terrible towards you! I should never feel like that! Not to you, or any of the girls! And I… I… I’m afraid it won't stop!”

Rarity shamelessly poured all her anguish and plight into Twilight’s shoulder, uncaring at how disheveled her hair was becoming or the streaks of tears on her coat. And through it all, Twilight took every moment of it, never letting her hold onto Rarity’s shaking form lessen or the gentle caress of her hoof on her back cease.

Yet, aside from Rarity’s muffled wails, a stifling silence filled the room, and Twilight carefully looked about without letting go of Rarity. Pinkie Pie and Spike were awake, staring wide-eyed towards her and Rarity, and behind them, Applejack in the doorway to the kitchen. Twilight held a small smile as she gave them a nod, and they all made their way towards her.

The three of them positioned themselves around Rarity and Twilight, and with one motion, embraced Rarity with their arms. Rarity’s cries stopped as she quickly pulled her head away from Twilight, sniffling and trying to catch her breath as she stared at all of them in surprise.

“We’re here for you, Rarity,” Twilight said, drawing her focus. Twilight gave her the warmest of smiles as her eyes watered, and she gave a slight chuckle. “Just like you were there for me yesterday. No matter what, we’ll always have each other.”

The nodding grins and whispers of reassurance from the others caused Rarity’s vision to blur, and she threw herself back to Twilight, letting herself be comforted by the close presence of her friends while she let out the all of the fears that had plagued her mind.

How long they all held each other, none of them could say. But eventually light began to brighten the room through the covered windows, signaling the dawn, and they reluctantly withdrew from Rarity only after she insisted.

“Really, I’m fine now… Thank you all…” Rarity said as she wiped her eyes.

“Here,” Spike said, offering her a handkerchief.

“Thank you, darling,” Rarity said as she levitated it towards her.

“Glad to see ya using yer magic again,” Applejack commented with a sly smile.

Rarity blinked in surprise as she paused, then looked over the glowing piece of cloth. For a moment it looked like Rarity would break down again as her chin trembled at the sight of her aura, but she remained strong as she continued to wipe her eyes with it.

Applejack gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder, then took the handkerchief away when she was done with it.

“Looks like it’s morning,” Pinkie Pie commented as she looked at the covered window that grew brighter by the moment.

“Yeah…” Twilight forlornly said as she too looked.

A quietness filled the room as they all watched the blocking fabric become brighter and brighter. Yet, unlike the stifling silence that held an air of dread that had so many times befallen them over these last hours, days, and weeks, this one held a different quality. It was not unnerving, nor was it comfortable. It was an inbetween, the moment before a change.

Then, a knock at the door broke that quietness, and they all turned towards the front entrance. “Ah wonder if that’s Dash,” Applejack said as she moved towards it. Opening the door, Applejack cautiously peered out into the morning lit street, and stood there for a good moment.

“Is it Dashie?” Pinkie Pie asked.

Applejack pulled her head back and turned to them with a surprised expression. “No, it ain't her. Twalight… You better come over here.”

Twilight gave a confused look, then hesitantly made her way to the door as Applejack stepped aside. Carefully opening the door just wide enough for her to peek out the door, she saw the two bodies of armed stallions standing at sides of her front steps. Their golden armor shone in the morning light, and they stoically looked forward and away from the library. Opening the door a little more, Twilight followed their gaze, then gasped.

Out on the street, and piled about in a large mass, were the majority of Ponyville’s residents. They all stood patiently in front of the library, holding onto various baskets, bags, and wrapped gifts. Some of them even held large banners that said ‘Welcome Home’ that were decorated in ribbons and glitter. Then, one of them spotted Twilight who had inadvertently opened the door further the more she stared, and they erupted in chorus.

“Princess Twilight!”

“You’re back!”

“We missed you!”

“Are you okay? How are you feeling?”

“Twilight!”

“The Princess is back!”

“Welcome home!”

The ponies began to cheer as ribbons were thrown into the air and they all looked towards her with large grins and hopeful eyes.

Twilight stood in shock in the doorway, her wide eyes looking across all of their happy and relieved faces with her mouth agape. In moments Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Spike, and Applejack were behind her, staring out to the crowd with astonished faces. Pinkie Pie, however, quickly grinned as she threw her arms in the air. “Why did nopony tell me we were throwing a party!? I would have brought more ribbons!”

“You didn’t do this?” Rarity asked in disbelief.

“Nope, but I wished I did now!”

“Excuse me, your highness,” one of the guard ponies said.

“Y-Yes?” Twilight replied, unable to take her eyes off the cheering crowd.

“They appeared just before dawn. We’ve already explained to them that if they wish to deliver their gifts, they will need to form an organized line. They agreed, but they insisted that they first gave you a Pinkie celebration of your return on our condition that they must wait for you to appear so as not to disturb you.”

“They’ve been waiting for me this whole time?”

“Yes, Princess,” he replied. “It seems they have been waiting for you for a while now.”

The cheering ponies chorus did not lessen as the sun continued to rise, showing their bright eyes and happy faces more clearly by the minute.

Twilight took a step out from the library, her eyes still wide at the display as tears began to trickle down. Another step, and she found her hoof was now in the daylight. The sun’s touch was as uncomfortable as it had been the first time in the field, but whether it was the fresh blood within her, or the adoration and joy that overwhelmed her senses, the sunlight all of a sudden didn’t seem so bad.

Then at last, a wide smile appeared on Twilight’s face, and she openly cried as the ponies continued to shout out her name with ‘welcomes’ and moved towards her. The guard ponies began to move to create order, but paused at Twilight’s outstretched hoof in their direction. They gave each other a quick glance, then settled back to their spots as they scanned the crowd.

Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Spike stepped out of the library as well, but choose to stand by the guards. They watched with large smiles as Twilight met the crowd, then became enveloped by it. Gifts were being handed to her left and right, hugs and comforting pats never seemed to stop, and smiling and crying faces exclaimed their joys and fears. Unbeknownst to Twilight, the whole town had been affected by her absence, and now that they all had the chance, they were determined to let her know. They were determined to show that they missed their princess.

“Ya know,” Applejack said. “Sometimes it’s easy to forget that she’s a princess now.”

Rarity smirked as a filly who had latched on too tightly was pulled up with Twilight’s head, finding that Twilight was all too willing to nuzzle her in return. “Yes, indeed it is. She had been so set on being treated normally that everypony eventually stopped showing it. I suppose she doesn’t really know how much this town cares for her, even before she became a princess.”

“That’s Twilight for you,” Spike said with a grin and crossing his arms.

“Yes, that is our Twilight,” Rarity agreed.

The three of them waited patiently as each pony had a turn in welcoming back Twilight, a fanfare that only promised to be repeated at ponies insistence that they throw a celebration of her return. The joy that filled Twilight was beyond anything she expected for her return in Ponyville. How its inhabitants would react to her and treat her from now on had been a source of dread for her since her arrival. She wondered if they would fear her when she slunk passed their houses that night, if they would look to her in anger or terror at her crimson eyes and red stained cutie mark. But what they had done was beyond her imagination, and she could not help but continue to cry in happiness as the rows of faces welcomed her back. It was a joy of being surrounded by loved ones that she had only ever experienced with a much smaller amount of ponies. It was a joy that permeated down to her very core, and stirred feelings of similar moments that had filled her body in the same way sometime ago with different ponies.

"..."

Author's Note:

Looking at the story now, there is a bit I would change in the beginning. The plot point of Twilight not being comfortable with being a princess was so underused throughout the story, and had actually only became a idea during the middle, just before Ruby had begun taking the princess role seriously. On the next rewrite of this story in the far off future, I will probably have more scenes showing Twilight's uncomfortableness with her royal position. This would of course include more scenes with Night Walker once I figure out a new name to replace Nathan (Listening to the comments, as I agree Nathaniel Moon—shortened version 'Nathan'—needs much reworking). I always wanted Night Walker to hold some iconic villian traits, but I feel like I over did it in the beginning with the monologuing which were attempts to show that he talks to himself a lot (due to being locked in a coffin for a thousand years with the ability to create personalities).

Any hoo... Hope everyone enjoyed this chapter. Starting to pull away from Twilight feeling down and crying, though it won't be entirely gone. I feel like these last few chapters have been me doing "Insert Twilight Cry, sad but relevant plot/world building info, another sad smile, add more tears." Not sure how well I am doing with the trauma bit, but hopefully you can all stand it for a bit more. Next chapter is awaiting editing pass at the time of posting this chapter, and with it, a few words from Ruby. Thank you all for reading the story this far, and I hope you've been enjoying it.

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