• Published 4th Mar 2012
  • 3,690 Views, 95 Comments

Darkness' Embrace - Tricondon

Twilight has to save Equestria before time runs out.

  • ...

Forgotten Friendship

Author's Note: Many thanks to Bronymaster for helping me with a few trouble areas.

Chapter 5

Forgotten Friendship

The trio stepped into the dimly lit room, and Twilight waited a few moments for her eyes to adjust. What little light there was streamed in through the tiny window; the light danced on the opposite wall, reflecting off the gemstones hanging in the window. Twilight looked around the room, noting a sparse amount of furniture. A table with a few scraps of uneaten food sat in the corner, a rather long couch with only one arm sat against the front wall, and a tiny table with some tiny gems at the couch’s head. A door set into the back wall was tightly shut, and behind it she could make out the sounds of someone shuffling around. There was a misty feel to the room, and a moment of searching revealed incense burning in the corner.

The door in the back swung open, and the mysterious Unicorn trotted out. She stayed against the back wall, shrouded in darkness, and gave a curt nod.

“Hello, Miss Ditzy. Always a pleasure to see you again.” There was a brief pause before she spoke up again. “Ah, little Blitz. My, how you’ve grown!” The Pegasus colt snorted.

“My name is Lightning. Not Blitz.”

“Tut-tut, one shouldn’t be ashamed of their namesake, dearie. Your mother chose your name with pride, and that is precisely how you should take it.” As she spoke, the Unicorn stepped out of the shadows, into the small beam of light coming from the window. Twilight stared, dumbfounded; it was Rarity. She held herself with a modicum of pride, despite the mud and sweat matting her fur down. The Unicorn clattered as she walked, and Twilight noticed the odd dress she wore; not so much a dress as it was a haphazard spider web of crisscrossing bronze chains, inset with various coloured gems where two strands met. She wore an unusual circlet with a large diamond in place of her horn. Peering closer, Twilight could just make out the Unicorn’s horn inside the diamond, and she mused for a time as to how anypony could even consider jamming their horn inside a large rock.

“And this must be…” Rarity’s voice trailed off, and the group fell into an uneasy silence. Twilight got the sensation that Rarity was staring right at her, though the dim light made it difficult to tell where she was looking. A few minutes passed before Commander Doo stepped forward.

“This is the prisoner, Twilight Spar…” A rude gesture from Rarity silenced the Pegasus, and the group fell into silence again.

“Twilight, dear? Is that...is that really you?” Rarity seemed to whisper reverently. And there seemed to be something wrong with the way her eyes moved. Now that Twilight could make them out properly, they seemed to be trying to look at her, but were looking off slightly to the left.

Twilight was about to answer, when there came a sudden large crash from outside, followed by a lot of muffled cursing. Twilight, startled by the sudden loud noise, jumped in surprise. Commander Doo walked over to the door and nudged it open, poking her head outside.

“What is going on out here? I swear, Hooves, if you’re still following me, I’m going to kick you again.” The statement was greeted by silence as nopony answered. “Private Bolt, I need you with me. I’m sure the Unicorn here won’t try anything while we’re gone.” Lightning only nodded solemnly as he followed his Commander out the make-shift doorway.

Now alone in the room with Rarity, Twilight took the time to take a better look at her friend. Her mane was unkempt and unruly, sticking out from under that bizarre circlet haphazardly. Peering closely, as well as one could considering the dim lighting, Twilight noticed Rarity’s mane had a... duller tone to it. It didn’t look the once-vivid purple it had once been. It looked more...pale blue? Her mane seemed greasy, as if it hadn’t been washed in a long time. And her coat....her once lustrous coat was a dull gray and looked very unkempt; covered in mud as it was, Twilight thought her assessment that Rarity could use a good washing was quite correct.

Twilight turned her gaze to Rarity’s dress. The fashionista had always had an eye for the hottest trends and fashions, but even Twilight’s untrained eye could tell this conglomeration of chains and jewels was the furthest one could be from the height of fashion. Twilight followed the chains, which all seemed to converge on the circlet on Rarity’s brow. The diamond covering her horn seemed to glow softly, and it took Twilight a few moments to realize it was the same glow signifying a Unicorn was using their magic.

Finally, Twilight’s gaze fell on Rarity’s eyes. She had followed the sound of Commander Doo and Lightning leaving, her head pointed towards the door, but her eyes were looking too far to the left, staring straight at the barren wall. The colour in her irises was...milky, like those of-

Twilight gasped as she came to the realization. At the sound of her voice, Rarity turned back to Twilight, though her eyes still weren’t looking directly at her.

“Is something the matter, dear?” There was something peculiar about her voice, something that Twilight couldn’t quite place. However, currently her mind was occupied with other matters.

“Rarity, are you…are you blind?” Twilight asked in a voice that was barely audible. Rarity simply nodded, then frowned.

“You asked that the first time we met, Twilight. You were just as impertinent then, too.” Rarity huffed, becoming very interested in the wall; a gesture that was somewhat diminished due to her blindness.

Twilight stood there, unsure of what to do or say. She had read many books on dealing with disabled ponies, but it is one thing to read about it in a book, and another to deal with it right in front of you. Especially when it was one of your best friends.

The two stood there in relative silence, but something Rarity had said plagued Twilight’s mind.

“Wait, Rarity...the first time we spoke, you could see. You could see fine just last week when we had a picnic together. You even complained about my plain dress and offered to ‘fix it up for me.’ What happened to you?”

Rarity snorted, and Twilight mused momentarily on how unladylike it was.

“Twilight, I’ve been blind since I was a filly. I was blind when we met, I was blind a week ago, and I’m still blind now. And we’ve never gone on a picnic together; I may be blind, but I still remember everything I’ve done.” Rarity snorted again, glowering at the floor. “As if I would have any reason to go on a picnic with you, anyways…” Rarity sniffled, a tear running down her cheek.

Rarity shook her head and frowned, bringing herself out of her thoughts. She looked in Twilight’s general direction, her features taking on a look of confusion.

“Why would I complain about your dress? I cannot see colours, and designing clothes is best left to one who isn’t blind.” There was a definite bitter edge to her voice.

“But, but…” Twilight stammered, her thoughts becoming jumbled. “But your shop, my birthday present…” Twilight rubbed her head, trying to discern why her memories and Rarity’s didn’t mesh. “Designing clothes is what you do, Rarity. It’s part of who you are.”

Rarity scoffed, her voice taking on an air of authority.

“No, I’m quite certain you’re mistaken, Twilight. My skill lies in enchantments. I enchanted that spell block on your necklace now, and I enchanted my dress so I can ‘see.’” Rarity paused a moment and sat down on her couch. She turned her head, not-quite-looking at Twilight, and continued. “I can’t actually see the way you can. You see this jewel on my horn?” Twilight nodded, but she didn’t think Rarity even noticed. Rarity continued talking, regardless. “It’s for telling me when I am close to bumping into other people or objects, and telling me how far away they are.” Twilight was not very surprised by this. Many similar things had been made to help blind ponies in the past, though she was surprised that Rarity had cast the spell on it herself.

Rarity continued, though. “Then my dress performs another purpose for me. Half of it is enchanted to help me sense the small, precise objects needed to perform my...jewel crafting. The other half of my dress is able to tell me exactly who is nearby me, so I can identify others correctly. Twilight’s ears perked up, her studious nature taking over.

“Wait, magical identification? How? I’ve toyed with the idea in the past, but I’ve never been able to perfect it.”

Rarity chortled, and Twilight again thought how unlike Rarity it was.

“Everypony has a magical aura to them, dear. This aura is unique to each individual pony, and I’ve found a way to sense it. Unicorns have the strongest auras, and I think it’s because we can use magic that these auras seem to grow more powerful for us. The next would be Pegasi, and of course Earth Ponies have the weakest auras. I think these auras are representative of a pony’s skill with magic, but I can’t say that for certain.” Rarity sighed, levitating a drink off the table and sipping from it delicately.

“Of course, these auras may be unique to each pony, but they tell me nothing about the identity. I’m reliant on my memory, remembering which aura goes with which pony, and most of the time I get it right. Earth Ponies have always given me trouble; their weaker auras mean I generally have to rely on my other senses, though there have been exceptions.” Rarity sighed again, a tad more wistfully this time. “A pity I don’t have any other Unicorns around these days. Their auras were so much easier to read, and they could help me attune new crystals to help me ‘see’ better.”

The fashionista’s last statement broke though Twilight’s thoughts, and she found her mind swimming with unanswered questions.

“Rarity, what happened? Why is everypony at war? What happened with the Unicorns?” Her voice was filled with urgency. Her voice was filled with fear. Rarity frowned, her face scrunching up in thought.

“Do...do you not remember, dear? I realize it was a few years ago, but...” Her voice trailed off.

Twilight suddenly heard shouting and voices being raised outside, reminding her of how little time they might have before Ditzy and Blitz came back. Reluctantly, Twilight changed topics, her thoughts turning to the odd way Pinkie was behaving.

“Rarity, what happened to Pinkie? Why isn’t she happy?”

“Isn’t it obvious, Twilight? We’re at war, and that’s hardly any reason to be happy. Besides, from what I’ve heard, Pinkamina was never all that cheerful before the war began.”

Twilight scowled as she rubbed her head in confusion. Nothing she was hearing made much sense to her; Rarity being blind as a filly, Pinkie always unhappy. Everything she’d heard clashed with her memories; not to mention the ruins of Ponyville that still lingered in her mind. Her thoughts turned to her other friends; Applejack and Rainbow were both strong ponies. They were probably fighting in the ranks somewhere, drafted onto one side of the war or the other. Twilight yearned to know what happened to them; however, before she could ask, Ditzy marched back into the room. Trailing behind her was another pony Twilight couldn’t place.

“Miss Rarity, I do apologize for the interruption. I hope the prisoner did not give you much trouble.” Blitz entered the room last, looking quite smug with himself. Rarity nodded slightly.

“No, it was quite nice to see an old friend; I do have so few these days.”

Ditzy snorted, looking quite perturbed.

“So, this Unicorn is an ally of yours? But she bears a striking resemblance to the Princess,” Ditzy took a moment to spit on the ground before continuing, “You are absolutely certain she is no threat to us?”

Rarity nodded, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

“Believe me, I do not believe this Unicorn is any threat to us.” Rarity turned her head, hiding a smile behind her hoof. Ditzy either didn’t see this, or chose to ignore it; Twilight wasn’t certain.

Ditzy instead chose to turn to the unfamiliar pony she had escorted in.

“There, now go make yourself useful and report to the Captain that our resident Unicorn finds the prisoner, Twilight Sparkle, safe and not a threat.” Ditzy turned towards Twilight and smiled. “You may even get that necklace off, if you’re lucky.” Snorting, Ditzy turned back towards the strange pony. Her vision narrowed, her normally mismatching eyes straightening themselves out to glare at the pony. “And another thing. Don’t ever let me catch you spying on me again. If I do, you’ll be in the infirmary for a month. Understood?”

The pony nodded quickly, and with a brief salute, quickly exited the tiny hut. Ditzy turned back to Twilight, her eyes returning to their normal state, which was admittedly abnormal for any other pony. She smiled again, though Twilight got the sense that it was forced.

“If you’ll follow me, Miss Sparkle, we’ll need to meet with Captain Pie so we can get you acquainted with our villa.” Motioning for Twilight to follow, Ditzy headed outside. Twilight took a few steps, but paused and turned back to Rarity.

“Wait, Rarity. Do you know anything about Fluttershy?” Twilight’s thoughts were consumed by her timid friend. This war-like world would have no place for her, and Twilight yearned to know what had happened. Rarity’s eye twitched, and she frowned.

“What? Why would you ask about her?!” There was an undercurrent of anger in Rarity’s voice, but Twilight chose to ignore it for the moment.

“Please, Rarity, it’s important. Where is she? Is she here?” Twilight began to yell, unable to keep the urgency out of her voice. Ditzy poked her head back in the room, wondering what the yelling was about. There was a brief pause as Rarity closed her eyes, lost in thought.

“…yes. She’s here. I visit her a couple times a week.” Rarity opened her eyes. “Why do you want to know if she’s here? What more can…?” Rarity brought a hoof to her mouth, silencing herself. A few moments passed before she lowered it and resumed speaking. “Did you want to see her?” Twilight nodded.

“Yes, please. I have to see her immediately.”

There was another lull, until Rarity finally turned, speaking to Ditzy.

“Commander Doo, could you be a dear and take our guest to see Fluttershy? It shouldn’t be too far out of your way.”

Ditzy stepped into the room, concern plastered on her face.

“Are you sure that’s wise, Miss Rarity?”

“Yes. Perhaps it will help her.” She spoke plainly, without emotion, completely opposite from a few minutes before. Ditzy nodded slowly.

“Of course. If you’ll follow me, Miss Sparkle?”

Twilight walked out after Ditzy, a small smile on her lips. The scene was odd, but perhaps seeing her friend would help her puzzle out what had just happened.

The door slammed shut behind Twilight, and Rarity sat on the couch, lost in her thoughts. Eventually, she stood up and walked into the back room. A number of jewels lay strewn about, in various stages of being prepared. They ranged from crude jagged rocks, recently pulled from the ground, to the final stages of being inset into bracers and necklaces. A couple glowed softly, the aftermath of spells being placed on them.

Rarity walked past her workstation to her bed. With a sigh, she levitated her dress and circlet off, letting them drop on the floor where she stood. She hated this part, fumbling around in the darkness trying to find her bed. She was always careful to stand exactly three feet from the bed, with it on her left, but it never seemed to get any easier.

Rarity gave a more relaxed sigh as she snuggled under the thin piece of fabric that was meant to be a blanket. As she lay there, she found her thoughts returning to the Unicorn. Was that truly the same Twilight Sparkle she met three years ago? The auras were eerily similar, but there was something different about this Unicorn. Rarity frowned, rubbing her temples as she tried to figure out what was changed.

She hadn’t lied exactly; Unicorns were easiest for her to remember, and she remembered Twilight Sparkle quite well. Her aura had been immensely strong, as had the Twilight Sparkle she just met. But there was still something fundamentally different about the two. Why didn’t Twilight remember meeting before? Granted, it was three years ago, but still, considering what had happened to the poor thing she should remember.

“It was three years ago. Could a pony change so much in three years?” She asked the darkness, and as usual, the darkness gave no answer.

Ditzy led Twilight through so many twists and turns that she was hopelessly lost. Twilight didn’t even realize how large the encampment was until now, although it seemed in this area that the ‘houses’ were spaced out a little more. The number of guards around made Twilight think that this was where the higher-ranked ponies were.

“Captain Pie’s quarters are just down there, though Miss Fluttershy is down this way. You’ll want to see your Pegasus friend first, I take it?” Ditzy spoke up, startling Twilight slightly. Her voice was calm and gentle, the way a mother would speak to a crying child. Twilight nodded, her anxiousness growing.

Ditzy nodded back and resumed walking.

They came to a small garden in the center of the officer’s tents, a small wooden fence surrounding it. There was one break in the fence, clearly meant to be the entrance for Earth Ponies, and it was here that Ditzy stopped. She motioned inside the garden.

“Your friend’s in there. I’ll leave the two of you alone.” With that, Ditzy took up a stance outside the gate. Shrugging, Twilight walked in.

The garden was quite barren. Save for a few trees and a smattering of flowers, there was little else. As Twilight neared the center, a great stone statue came into view. From a distance, she couldn’t quite make out what it was, but she smiled as she heard birdsong.

“Even now, Fluttershy still cares for animals. It’s comforting to know that hasn’t changed.” Twilight muttered under her breath.

As Twilight neared the statue, the birdsong stopped. She looked up in time to see a few colourful birds take flight. Twilight frowned as she thought perhaps she frightened Fluttershy again, as she had when they first met. However, looking around the garden, she found no sight of the bright yellow Pegasus. Twilight sat down, looking around in confusion. Ditzy said Fluttershy would be here, but, other than herself, the garden was devoid of life.

A chirping sound caught her ear, and Twilight searched for the bird. She soon found it atop the statue, perching on one of the wings. Wait, wings? Dread welling up within her, Twilight turned her gaze to the statue.

It was a carving of Fluttershy. She was lying on the ground, various animals surrounding her. Her wings were open, stretching towards the sky. Her face held the expression of peace and tranquility, that joyous smile forever captured in stone. Angel Bunny was there as well, sitting atop Fluttershy’s head.

Twilight lowered her gaze to the statue’s base. A plaque was attached, and she trotted closer to read it, fear rising inside her.

Erected in loving memory of Fluttershy

May her spirit fly as freely as her kindness

Killed on day two of Nightmare Moon’s revival

By the tyrant Twilight Sparkle

“No…please, Celestia, no. Don’t let it be true.” Twilight’s voice cracked, and she simply stood there, staring at the statue blankly through tear-filled eyes.

A set of hoofsteps was heard behind her, but she didn’t care. All that mattered was the mix of sadness, loneliness, and emptiness that resided within her. It felt as if her mind had a switch, and someone had flicked it off. She felt nothing. Cared for nothing. Only the statue before her and the thoughts of loneliness filled her mind. Her life, her dreams, her friends, and the joy of living, were all crushed in that single moment of realization. Her friend was dead, and nothing she did would bring her back.

After a time, Ditzy nudged Twilight to her hooves, and escorted her away, leaving the sad memorial that was all that was left of Fluttershy behind.