• Published 4th Mar 2012
  • 3,465 Views, 95 Comments

Darkness' Embrace - Tricondon

Twilight has to save Equestria before time runs out.

  • ...

Proving Her Worth

Chapter 8

Proving Her Worth

Twilight snorted at the brown Earth Pony across from her. She growled low in her throat, and her opponent did the same. Her foe leapt, turning his head to the left and bringing his sword blade towards Twilight. She ducked and twisted her head, feeling the vibration in her teeth as the two weapons met. It rattled her, and she unconsciously clenched down tighter, keeping a better grip on the hilt. The brown pony jumped over Twilight, who waited a half-second, then kicked her hind legs, feeling a grim sort of satisfaction as she felt her kick connect with the pony’s unprotected stomach.

Twilight allowed herself a moment of pride before she turned around, swinging her full weight on one hoof. The brown Earth Pony had already recovered, though Twilight noted he was favouring his left side. She also took another moment to chide herself for allowing her pride to show; that time could have been better spent attacking.

Her inner monologue had taken her mind off the battle; a fact that did not go unmissed by her adversary. With a strangled grunt, he hopped to the right, swinging his sword in a wide arc. Twilight barely had time to react, and she felt her whole head shake as their blades connected once more. This time, however, her sword came flying out of her mouth, landing with a clink on the ground. Twilight made a move towards it, but quickly found her rival’s sword at her neck.


The voice was masculine, strong, and powerful. The sword at her neck lowered, and Twilight meekly got back to her feet, turning to face her trainer, Rock Solid. The aged black Earth Pony walked into the sparring ring and nodded towards Twilight and Dirt Streak, another recruit-in-training.

“You were a little slow recovering, Dirt. Do yourself a favour in the future and try not jumping over your enemy. Twilight showed exactly why that’s a poor idea. Still, impressive swordplay.” He grunted and turned towards Twilight. “And you. I saw that smug smile. In the heat of battle, you will never have an opportunity to think back. There will be moments when you can catch your breath and plan ahead, but never think about what you could have done. Always think about what you will do, and what is happening right now.” Rock Solid paused a moment. “Now, answer me this: why did you lose your grip on your sword?”

“I…it wasn’t properly aligned?” Twilight ventured a guess, to which Rock Solid gave her a firm slap on the shoulder.

“No. You were biting on it too hard. Don’t worry about keeping your sword in perfect alignment all the time. Your sword must become an extension of your self; it must move with as much grace and finesse as your own legs. This means it must be easily maneuverable, which can only happen if you keep a light bite on it. Too much, and you risk chipping a tooth when your opponent lands a hit, or perhaps breaking your entire jaw. Consider yourself lucky that these wooden practice swords are less firm than a real metal blade.”

Twilight and Dirt nodded, and Rock dismissed them, calling forth two other recruits. He barked at them to fight, and Twilight watched intently.

It was some time later that Twilight finally dragged herself into Ditzy’s little house. Of course, without the movement of the sun, it was difficult to tell the passage of time. To her best guess, Twilight had been here for two weeks, but found it problematic getting a straight answer out of anyone else. Since this war started, and the moon froze in place in the sky, ponies everywhere abandoned their old methods of keeping time. Without the passage of the sun, terms like day and week no longer had meaning, the season never changed, and the moon itself never went through its phases.

Twilight hated it.

The near-constant darkness was difficult to adjust to after the bright days she remembered. Worse than that, however, was the military training she was undergoing. She hated having to learn how to fight, and despised the thought that she might be forced to kill another pony. It didn’t help that nopony in this entire encampment would give her a straight answer as to what happened.

The epitaph on Fluttershy’s statue mentioned Nightmare Moon. Try as she might, Twilight couldn’t figure out how she came back.

Princess Luna had been purged of the dark forces controlling her by the Elements, so it couldn’t be her again, could it? She thought to herself. Twilight sighed, shaking her head. No matter how many times she thought about it, she simply couldn’t come up with an answer.

Engrossed in her thoughts, Twilight didn’t notice Ditzy exit their shared bedroom until they bumped into one another.

“Oh, Twilight. Finished with your training already?” Ditzy sounded surprised.

Twilight nodded.

“Yes, Dit…er, I mean, Aye Commander.” Twilight groaned inwardly; the strict militaristic jargon seemed to clash with what she remembered of the ponies from Ponyville. Ditzy smiled softly.

“Hey, neither of us is on duty. You can call me ‘Ditzy’ here.” A glint of light caught Twilight’s eye, and she looked up at her friend. Ditzy was wearing her full set of armour, save for her helmet, which she had tucked under a wing. She must have looked confused, since Ditzy continued talking.

“I’ve gotten new orders. I leave immediately with a small group of Pegasi.” Ditzy frowned. “I can’t say any more than that. I am sorry, Twilight.”

Twilight nodded in response.

“I understand, Ditzy. Do you know when you’ll be back?”

Ditzy shook her head.

“Sorry. That’s also classified. You can handle living on your own for a few days, right?” She asked, her voice full of concern.

“I’ll be fine, Ditzy. Just, be sure to come back to me, ok?” Twilight forced a smile. Ditzy returned it, though Twilight thought it was just a little forced, too.

“Of course I will.”

Twilight groaned as she woke, slid out of the bed and shuffled around the room. A sudden sharp pain in her hoof told her she had found her armour, which she had shed before sleeping. With a heavy sigh, Twilight bent over and began the arduous task of putting her armour on.

“This would be so much easier if I had my magic.” She muttered to the empty house.

Twilight walked to the door, where her helmet and boots lay. She slipped into the reinforced shoes and awkwardly put her helmet on. Pinkamena had gracefully allowed Twilight to obtain a helmet modified for her horn; rather than a crude hole cut in the top, the armour-crafter had designed her helmet with an extended crest with a small hollow section where her horn would sit. Twilight thought it looked stupid, but all she had to do was recall her first day here, seeing another Unicorn’s horn chopped off right in front of her, and she was grateful for the extra protection for her own.

Her armour on, Twilight moved to the next item on her list: food. The rumbling in her stomach told her she had overslept, and she quickened her pace towards the mess hall.

By the time she arrived, the mess hall was still fairly busy. It was loud and noisy as Earth Ponies and Pegasi spoke and told stories. Twilight even swore she heard laughter every now and again. She walked over to the counter, received her rations and sat at a table that was mostly deserted; she had tried speaking to others, and the helmet did a fair job at hiding her horn, but news travelled fast, and not everypony was eager to befriend a Unicorn.

Twilight dug into her meal, if it could even be called as such. It was tough to chew and nearly flavourless. Ditzy had said that food rations were running low and they were forced to scavenge in the forest for edible mushrooms and grass. The stew-like mush in front of her was the result of taking everything they gathered and mixing it into a fine paste so that they could distribute it evenly and fairly. Idly, Twilight wondered if there was some way to start a farm of some sort here in the camp.

“Somepony, help!” The shrill voice cut through the chatter, and everypony quieted down to search for the speaker. Twilight looked around, her curiousity piqued, and spotted a Pegasus crawling in through the door nearest her. He was badly beaten, with pieces of his armour missing, revealing his bloodied hide. His left wing was bent at a funny angle, and Twilight assumed it was broken.

Belatedly realizing that she was closest, Twilight sprung from her seat and skidded to a stop in front of the wounded Pegasus.

“Hey, hey, calm down. What’s wrong? What happened?” Twilight was dimly aware of a few other ponies crowding around her and the injured Pegasus, but she pushed those distractions to the back of her mind. Somepony passed along a cup of water, which Twilight took and awkwardly balanced it in her hooves. The Pegasus took a few staggered gulps then pushed the cup away.

“Am…ambushed by Unicorns. We had no warning. My wing got broken in the fight. I don’t think the others got away.” His face fell. “Please, send some help! We were heading to the Canterlot ruins, along the mountain. Com…Commander Ditzy was…” the Pegasus never finished his sentence, blacking out from his wounds. He collapsed on the ground, and Twilight was rudely shoved aside by a doctor who had just arrived. He got to work tending to the Pegasus’ wounds, and eventually carted him away.

None of this Twilight really registered, however, as her mind was occupied by the soldier’s last words. Ditzy is in trouble?

“You want to do what?!”

Twilight stood firm, not even blinking as Pinkamena continued to yell.

“Completely out of the question! The Unicorns don’t take hostages. They’re dead. And even if they might be alive, there’s no way I’d send a measly recruit along with the others. I will miss Commander Doo, but we have to move on. I want this idea of a rescue to die right here and now!” The Captain punctuated her words by slamming her hooves on the table.

“Yes, sir.” Twilight sighed.

“Now, you’ll have to move in with the other recruits. I tolerated you staying with Ditzy because she requested it, but now that she’s dead, I’ll have to promote some other pony to her position, and I doubt they’ll want a roommate. You can stay in her hut until I find a suitable replacement. Dismissed.” Pinkamena waved a hoof, which Twilight took as a sign to leave.

Twilight walked through the camp briskly, already fighting back tears. She managed to hold them back, but once the door of the hut slammed shut behind her, the tears flowed freely. Twilight sank to the ground, convulsing and shaking as she tried not to sob out loud.

After a few minutes, Twilight shakily stood up, dragging her hooves over the floor as she wandered around the room. In the back of her mind, she knew she was late for her training, but she didn’t feel like going anywhere, having to look other ponies in the eye. Twilight found herself at Ditzy’s desk, still laden with a few papers that she had been reading before she left.

Twilight glared at the paper, her sadness mutating into hatred. She wasn’t sure what she was angry at, just that she was angry. Through tearful eyes, Twilight slammed her hooves on the table and made a large sweeping motion, clearing it of its contents and causing them to flutter onto the ground. Twilight glanced at the scattered papers and growled at them. Uncertain what to do next, Twilight turned around and kicked the table. A small smile formed on her mouth as she heard the table splinter and shatter under her hooves.


Her smile dissipated, reforming into a frown.

“What was that?” She asked the wall. “That wasn’t wood…”

Slowly, Twilight turned around. The desk lay upside-down in two pieces, one of the legs broken off at the base. Curiously, Twilight noted the leg was hollow. Her eyes widened as she located the source of the mysterious sound. There, resting on the ground, lay a sword. Not a wooden practice sword as she was training with, but a real metal one.

Twilight’s face contorted into one of confusion as she looked around, trying to figure out where the blade came from. Her gaze fell on the remnants of the table, and two tiny metal hooks on the underside.

“Even in her home, Ditzy was prepared for trouble.” Twilight said softly. Both sadness and rage forgotten, Twilight looked at the sword again as a plan began to form in her mind. “She saved my life…I owe her that much.”

Twilight ran through the thick underbrush as fast as her legs would go; only pausing to get her bearings as best she could. The sword, safely in the scabbard she had found in the false leg of the table, bounced against her side as she ran. She risked a glance behind her, but could only make out the dim lights of the camp far behind her.

Escaping the camp had been trouble-free; very few ponies bothered to look at her unless they had to. That fact also made it easy to simply walk out with the sword in plain view. Twilight felt a pang of guilt as she thought about Rarity, the only Unicorn in the camp again, but she pushed the feeling aside for the moment.

Up ahead, Twilight could see a break in the trees, and she headed towards it with single-minded determination.

Finally the trees parted, and Twilight found herself in a wide open field. The moon hung above, as unmoving as it ever was, with a fair number of stars dotting the sky. Twilight slowed to a trot, looking around to try to get her bearings. It was the first time she’d been outside the forest since her capture, and Twilight frowned as she realized no one had ever told her what forest they were even hiding in.

Still, Twilight scanned her surroundings, trying to figure out where she was. The forest stretched out behind her; everywhere else she looked she saw only dark silhouettes of far-off buildings and distant mountains. The moon simply didn’t give off enough light to see by.

“Argh! How can I find my way around if I can’t even see?!” Twilight stamped the ground in frustration. With a heavy sigh, Twilight looked around again. “Forest and mountains. That could be anywhere in Equestria!”

A glimmer of light far to her left caught Twilight’s eye, and she focused on it. Deciding that she had nowhere else to go, she started off for it.

It wasn’t until she had been walking for some time that Twilight realized the light could be one of Nightmare Moon’s soldiers. This possibility was helped along by the fact that the light Twilight was chasing seemed to be moving as well, though whoever it was didn’t seem to be aware of Twilight, despite how close they were. Twilight kept low to the ground, nearly dragging herself along as she continued approaching it.

The glowing object vanished suddenly, and Twilight perked her head up, trying to locate it again. Through the haze, she could just make out a building not too far ahead. Cautiously, she approached it, thinking it looked somewhat familiar…

“Oh my…” she whispered softly as she got close enough to the structure to make out finer details. A few broken birdhouses still hung from the tree, but most had fallen to the ground from disrepair. There were remnants of a tiny bridge that crossed a small creek, but it too had collapsed, and whoever had appropriated the location had ‘fixed’ the issue by placing a simple wooden board over the stream of water. As for the building itself…

It was Fluttershy’s cottage.

There was no doubt in Twilight’s mind. The grass-grown roof may have been brown and long dead, and a number of the windows were boarded up, but it was otherwise unchanged. Forgetting about the light she was chasing earlier, Twilight crossed the ‘bridge’ and went up to the door, her mind awash with memories.

As she neared it, Twilight heard a voice. A single voice, female, coming from inside the cabin. Recalling the war she had inadvertently found herself in, Twilight dove to the ground, deciding that marching in through the front door would be a poor idea. Instead, she crawled along on her stomach to the window nearest her, which, fortunately for her, was one of the few not boarded up.

As silently as she could, Twilight raised herself up and peeked inside. The inside of the cottage was barren of most of its furnishings, though there was a blanket and a pillow lying in the center of the room. A tiny candle sat beside them, burning steadily. Twilight guessed that the candle was the light she had been following.

As Twilight surveyed the room, the candle suddenly flew up and out of sight. Twilight was shocked initially, but it quickly came back into view, the soft glow of Unicorn magic keeping it aloft. A cloaked figure came into view, the cloak hiding any trace of their appearance, though the combination of the floating candle and the soft glow from underneath the hood gave away that the mysterious pony was a Unicorn.

It, or rather she, since Twilight could hear the cloaked pony mumbling to herself, paced around the room rather anxiously. Twilight strained her ears, but couldn’t make out more than a few words.

“Got to be soon…can’t wait much longer…but I can’t find her…”

Without warning, the pony stopped her rambling and turned to the window, staring straight at Twilight. She took a few steps towards the window, and then gave an insane giggle, raising a hoof to point at Twilight.

“She’s here! She’s found me!” She yelled, and Twilight shrank back from the window. Moments later the door flew open, the cloaked pony standing in the archway. She giggled again. “It’s you! You’re here! You can help me!” The pony paused, and then spoke again. “Unless you’re her! You won’t help me! You’ll try to kill me! Not if I can kill you first!”

With a yelp of fear, Twilight jumped back, keeping her distance from the mad mare. The crazy Unicorn levitated a small knife out of her robes, keeping the blade pointed at Twilight. The knife flew towards Twilight, who hopped to the right, avoiding being skewered by it, and broke out into a run. She leapt over the river in one bound and continued running, not looking back. Behind her, Twilight could still hear the senseless mare yelling after her.

“Go on then, run away! Coward! You’d best hope I find her before you do!”

Twilight kept running until she reached the boundaries of Ponyville, where she slowed to a trot. She looked behind her, scanning for the mad mare, but could find no trace of her. Giving a sigh of relief, Twilight turned around, taking in the sights of the destroyed city.

“Back in Ponyville.” She murmured softly. “It feels like it was so long ago.”

Twilight walked through the town slowly and cautiously, keeping an ear open for any voices. She recalled her first time coming through here, and was afraid of a repeat performance. Twilight looked up at the mountain before her; even though it was dark, in her mind Twilight could see the twisting train tracks as they traversed the tricky trail.

Eventually she reached the fragments of Ponyville’s Train Station, and Twilight was surprised to find the broken heap of a train still in the station. Curiousity got the better of her, and she quickly ran up to it, her hooves echoing on the wooden platform. The engine itself had seen better days, judging from the amount of grime on it. A quick survey told her that even if the train were operational, the state of the tracks would make driving it a virtual impossibility.

Twilight walked further down, poking her nose into one of the passenger cars. A number of the windows had been broken, and anything not nailed down was gone. There was a thick layer of dust everywhere, and Twilight guessed that it had been a while since anypony was here.

Twilight backed away from the dilapidated train, turning her gaze back to the mountain where Canterlot once sat. She followed the tracks with her eyes until they faded into the darkness, and she began to wonder if this plan was doomed to failure.

With a determined snort, Twilight shook her head, dispelling those pesky doubts, and began following the decaying train tracks up the mountain.

Twilight’s hooves hurt. She was tired of walking, tired of moving. She was covered in sweat and desperately wanted something to eat and drink. She wanted to do nothing more than teleport back to her library, eat a meal fit for Princess Celestia, and wake up from this constant nightmare.

She was broken out of her self-pity by the sound of voices coming from just around the bend. Twilight crept alongside the mountain, relying on it to keep her hidden.

Soon the speakers came into view, and Twilight hugged the mountainside as closely as she could. There were a group of four similarly armoured ponies, two Unicorns and two Pegasi, and they were surrounding a group of Pegasi wearing the armour of Twilight’s camp. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw Ditzy, beaten and bloodied, but alive. Twilight looked over the other Pegasi with her. There were seven ponies lying together, but it seemed like only four were still alive: Ditzy, a green one, a blue one, and a red one.

One of the Unicorns trotted over, grabbed the red Pegasus and dragged him over to his cohort. The Pegasus tried to kick at them, but one of the other Pegasi flew down, pinning the struggling pony to the ground. Both Unicorns lowered their horns to the Pegasus and concentrated. Their horns glowed for a moment, and the Pegasus stopped struggling. The Unicorns pulled back as their Pegasus flew off to join his buddy in the sky. The red Pegasus climbed to his feet, not flying, and Twilight noted his wing was broken. He stared at the two Unicorns.

“Who do you serve?” One of the Unicorns asked.

“Nightmare Moon, in all Her glory.” Replied the Pegasus, his voice monotonous. The two Unicorns nodded, and the Pegasus walked over, grabbing the blue Pegasus and dragging them over to the two Unicorns.

“What? NO! Lemme go! You’re not doing that creepy mind trick on me!” The Pegasus yelled, and Twilight felt her jaw drop as she recognized the voice.

“Rainbow Dash?” she said, awestruck.

Twilight clapped a hoof over her mouth, but it was too late. All the ponies gathered turned in her direction and the two Unicorns stepped towards her.

“Who’s there? Show yourself!” One of them commanded. The other nodded his head, and the red Pegasus galloped towards Twilight. She gave a shriek and leapt to the side, only to realize she was now exposed. She turned to look at the two Unicorns, both of whom had very disturbing smiles.

“Heh, a tiny recruit. This should be over quickly enough.” Grinning sadistically, the first Unicorn charged at Twilight, levitating his sword from its scabbard.


The sound of two blades meeting and bouncing off each other reverberated in the still air. Twilight didn’t even recall drawing her own sword; her body was moving of its own volition. Out of the corner of her eye, Twilight saw Ditzy looking at her, but had her attention drawn back to the Unicorn confronting her.

The Unicorn glared as he increased his attacks.


Again and again, the Unicorn’s sword swiped at Twilight, and time after time, her own blade was there to meet it and deflect the attack. She twisted her head and spun the blade around, manipulating the hilt with her tongue as effortlessly as she once manipulated objects with her magic. Some part of her knew she couldn’t keep it up, and already she could feel her reflexes slowing. The long climb had physically exhausted her, while the Unicorn had his magic to aid in his fight.


Twilight felt some of her teeth rattle against the hilt as the sword was knocked free of her mouth. She watched it fly through the air and come to rest beside the red Pegasus, who simply stood to the side, watching with dead eyes. Twilight turned back towards the Unicorn, who smirked at her and lunged with his sword.

Twilight shrieked and dove to her left, scrambling to recover her sword. She felt the Unicorn’s weapon connect with her armour and winced as it threw her off balance, falling to the ground. She looked up in time to see the red Pegasus kick her sword over the edge of the cliff and gave a despondent wail.

Twilight climbed back to her feet and whirled to face the Unicorn again, though she was visibly shaken.

“Aw, not gonna attack me head on, little pony?” the Unicorn teased. Twilight didn’t have time to answer, as her opponent began swinging his sword madly. Twilight ducked and twisted her body to evade, but she didn’t move fast enough and gave a cry of pain as the sword sank through her armour, cutting into the joint between her chest and her leg. She jumped back, tears welling in her eyes from the pain; her leg felt like it was on fire, and it was only then she realized the sword was still stuck in her.

“Hey! Give that back!” the Unicorn snarled, advancing towards Twilight. She tried to run, but the pain shot through her leg and forced her to her knees. She looked up at the Unicorn as he bit down on the hilt of his own sword and pulled. Twilight gave a sharp cry of pain, but the sword remained stuck in her. The Unicorn’s expression was as confused as Twilight’s, and he pulled again, harder.

Again, another anguished cry from Twilight, but the sword remained trapped. Frustrated, the Unicorn let go of his sword and kicked it with his hoof. Twilight bit back on her scream even as she felt the sword rub against one of her bones. The Unicorn grabbed his sword and gave it another yank, hoping this time it would come loose. Twilight gritted her teeth as the blade finally exited her flesh, and watched with sadistic glee as the Unicorn fell onto his back, his own momentum throwing him over.

Her pleasure was short lived, however, as her magical dampener started sparking. Twilight convulsed as bolts of electricity coursed through her body, her muscles seizing. I’m not even trying to cast a spell! She thought frenetically as another shock jolted her.

Then, with a loud POP, the shots of pain stopped. Twilight gasped for breath, trying to understand what happened. A flash of movement caught her eye, and she looked up in time to see both Unicorns’ swords headed straight for her. Twilight closed her eyes, bracing for the end.

If only I could make a shield…


What was that? Twilight cracked open an eye, then both eyes wide in shock. Around her, encasing her in a tight little bubble was a magical dome. She stared past it at the two Unicorns, who were eying Twilight with suspicion and wonder. Twilight turned her gaze over to Ditzy, Rainbow, and the third Pegasus, all of whom were eying her with confusion.

Another flash of movement and one of the Unicorns had Rainbow in his grasp, his sword at her throat.

“Alright, drop the shield or this one dies!” he demanded. Twilight glared at him, and a strange calmness descended on her. She ignored the burning sensation in her leg where the sword was buried moments ago and dropped her shield. The Unicorn next to Twilight made a move to strike her, holding his sword in his mouth, but never got that far.

His sword bounced off another shield Twilight blinked into existence millimeters from her hide, and the suddenness of it caused him to lose his balance. She glanced at him and grabbed his sword, wrenching it from his mouth in one clean pull. She smirked as she spotted a few teeth come out with it, and the Unicorn brought a hoof up to his mouth, yelping in pain.

Twilight turned her gaze to Rainbow, who had a few drops of blood seeping out from under the blade pressed against her neck.

“One more step, and she dies.” The Unicorn demanded, though Twilight could see the fear in his eyes. Twilight stopped moving, though she kept her gaze pointedly on Rainbow. The Unicorn smirked, lowering his blade. “Good, we have an understanding.”

“Not exactly…” Twilight murmured. Before he had a chance to react, Twilight focused, and her stolen sword flew at the Unicorn. He had no time to react before the blade dug itself deep into his chest. Twilight tilted her head, and the hilt of the sword broke off, leaving the blade in his body. A brush of wind, and Twilight ducked as the two Pegasi flew over her. She focused her attention on them, trapping both of them in a glowing white sphere, suspended in the air.

The two Pegasi flew into the bubbles, trying to break them. Twilight tilted her head again and the bubbles smashed against the mountainside. The Pegasi trapped within bounced around within the bubbles, crashing into each other and eventually collapsing at the bottom, both unconscious. Twilight blinked and the bubble vanished, sending both Pegasi falling onto the ground beside Ditzy.

Twilight glanced to her right in time to see the other Unicorn lunge for her. She glared and ducked feeling the Unicorn pass over her. She waited a half-second, and then kicked with her hind legs, grinning as she felt them connect. She whirled on her left hind leg, ready to face her opponent. The Unicorn scrambled to his feet and spun to face Twilight, his face contorted into one of rage. He charged at Twilight, screaming something obscene.

Twilight ducked again, bringing her head up beneath his. Her head rattled against her helmet, and she heard the Unicorn cry out in pain. She rolled over to her left, landing on her feet. The Unicorn was distracted by his painful jaw, and Twilight took the opportunity presented to her. She leapt forward, spinning in the air to land on her front hooves and bucked with her hind ones. She felt her feet connect with his face, heard an audible crack.

Twilight slowly turned around again, ready to fight some more, but it was not needed. The Unicorn was out cold, blood pooling around his broken jaw. She looked up at the other Unicorn, whimpering in pain as he tried, unsuccessfully, to remove the blade still stuck in him. The two Pegasi were unconscious, piled together next to Ditzy. The red Pegasus stood off to the side, not moving, though he was still alive.

Finally, Twilight turned her attention to Ditzy, Rainbow, and the third Pegasus. They were staring at her with mixed expressions of shock and panic. Twilight felt her features soften as she stepped towards them.

“Ditzy, I…” That was as much as Twilight said before she felt her strength drain. She tried to force herself to continue speaking, but eventually gave up and sank into unconsciousness.