• Published 4th Jan 2014
  • 6,588 Views, 448 Comments

Our Voices Carry Through The Hills - Surry



Twilight wakes up to find that she has lost her voice completely, and even worse, her magic. All the while, Ponyville is being absolutely annihilated by a unicorn that looks exactly like her.

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As My Soul Bends

As My Soul Bends


Splash!

Twilight’s front hooves plopped down heavily into the stream, kicking up water behind her. Though she still couldn’t quite see where she was going, she was able to make out a faint path along the trail of running water. She had to pick up speed, maybe even outrun Rainbow Dash until she tired herself out. Then again, she was as equally exhausted as her friend… but she still had to try to convince her somehow.

“Get back here Twilight!!!” Rainbow’s voice was quickly gaining on her.

What do I do?! Should I just give up!? What would she do to me if I did?!

Panting laboriously, she came to a fork in the stream and went off in a new direction. Rainbow could hear her frantic footsteps start trailing off and she changed course as well. As her grogginess started to wear off, she began to run faster and faster until she was at a full gallop, closing the distance between them even more swiftly than before.

Twilight could hear a quiet sound of water crashing in the distance, and it became louder the longer she ran. The trail of the stream widened gradually and she had a progressively harder time staying out of the drink. With no other option, she hopped up along the embankment and continued to follow the rushing water from up high.

After progressing further downhill, Twilight saw the cause of the crashing sound. The stream haphazardly flowed directly into a much larger river. She was forced to change direction yet again, as crossing the rushing torrent would be clearly out of the question. While the river was quite loud now, the crashing sound still increased in volume the further she ran.

Rainbow Dash was so close behind now that Twilight could hear the labored breathing of the pegasus. Terror plagued her mind in heavy waves the shorter the gap became between them. She began to lose focus on where she was going, concentrating nearly all of her energy into each long stride. Her legs were just about to give out, when the river’s volume finally reached its peak.

This is hopeless. She’s going to get me. Maybe I should just let her. It’s not like she can do anything to me worse than what’s already happened.

“Stop running Twilight!!! Now!!” Rainbow angrily demanded.

With no longer the will to keep running, her back left leg lazily dragged along a stretch of rocks, and she tripped yet again.

She tumbled off the embankment and was mercilessly swallowed up into the raging currents, suddenly feeling water rush into her mouth and down into her lungs. Her head briefly broke the surface, and she gasped desperately for any air she could. She coughed forcibly in an attempt to seize the water out of her airways, but it would not budge.

With the river sweeping her away, her body relinquished and fell limp to her now pointless commands.

Rainbow couldn’t believe what she was seeing. It seemed like just earlier today Twilight was an unstoppable engine of destruction and chaos, but now she couldn’t even escape from the clutches of a river.

She kept racing along the embankment, waiting for Twilight to surprise attack, or teleport away… but she did nothing. In fact, she seemed to be in actual peril.

“What’s she doing?!” she asked herself.

Rainbow suddenly heard the increasing noise too, and turned to her front to see the cause. Just a little further ahead of Twilight, the river abruptly ended, or so it appeared. Rainbow quickly realized the crashing sound was coming from that of a monstrously tall waterfall, and now, her former friend was shortly about to be swallowed up by it.

“No! What do I do?!” Rainbow cried.

Deep below on the river bed, Twilight’s hooves struck a large rock sending her into a series of violent flips. Now extremely disoriented and still struggling for air she began flailing her front legs around, looking for something to grab on to. However, the only objects she could find in the swirling torrents were loose twigs or rocks that were too smooth for her hooves to grip.

Rainbow fought a raging battle within her, deciding whether or not to help the struggling unicorn. All she could think about was the destruction of Ponyville and how Twilight had caused it, had taken away the use of her wings, had so visciously attacked her just earlier that morning. But was this really the same unicorn?

Twilight felt the speed of the current pick up even more, and then she saw it for herself… the drop-off. Right at the river’s event horizon, a large hollowed out log provided the last bit of resistance to the river before it released into a watery abyss.

Weakly, Twilight lunged one leg out and managed to wedge one hoof inside the cylinder of wood, but with dense waves crashing into her side and over her head she felt her grip begin to falter.

Rainbow reached the massive log as well and began carefully walking across it. Should she take one false step, there would be no flying away to safety. Incredibly tired and worn out, she shakily made her way to the end of the log and leaned her head down towards Twilight.

“So, what trick are you trying to pull this time?!” she yelled at the struggling unicorn.

Twilight's hoof slipped a little and the current pushed her a little closer to the edge. With her head completely drenched Rainbow could not see her tears, but her face told the whole story.

Her body and soul had been defeated, and the faint glint in her wincing eyes communicated that fact. She shook her head lightly with the most solemn of frowns cursing her lips.

It’s no trick, Rainbow. This really is the end… for me anyway.

“Why won’t you say anything?!!”

The pegasus watched her friend, almost as if she were in slow motion, silently mouth the words to her…

’I’m sorry.’

Sensing that her time was nearly finished, and with every ounce of willpower she had sapped right out of her decrepit frame… she smiled briefly at Rainbow, and let go.

“NNOOOO!!!!” her friend shrieked.

A sudden surge of lightning tore through Rainbow’s heart. She gripped onto the log’s frame with her back legs and thrust her upper body downward, reaching desperately for her falling friend. Using both of her front hooves she cupped Twilight’s own within hers. The addition of her weight caused Rainbow’s legs to wobble uncontrollably, but she held in place. Taking advantage of her athleticism, she slowly began pulling her up.

Twilight remained in absolute awe, still not fully comprehending she was still alive. She did however note that her friend was struggling greatly to pull her up, and decided to grip onto her leg with her other hoof, assisting her in any way she could.

Rainbow finally lurched her up over the top of the log and released her, letting Twilight cough up the last of the water still caught in her trachea. Inhaling exasperatedly, the unicorn collapsed onto the side of the log and calmly looked up at her friend sitting next to her. Rainbow was quite out of breath as well, but she hadn’t nearly fallen to her death like Twilight had.

“’Huff’… so what’s… ’huff’… your deal… Twilight?” she asked skeptically.

The unicorn didn’t respond, instead giving her an insignificant smile as a token of gratitude. Her eyes fluttered waveringly as she felt her last bit of energy finally get used up. With the utmost serenity, the tension in her face relaxed as consciousness slipped away, and she mouthed yet more silent words to her friend.

‘Thank you.’


This familiar heat lightly nipped at Twilight’s nose.

She could see the orange glow beneath her eyelids as she suddenly felt herself snap back to alertness. She didn’t open her eyes yet, for she didn’t want to cause any sudden commotion should Rainbow Dash still not trust her. Instead she stirred around on the rough ground as non-threateningly as possible.

She could hear the crackle of the fire she made earlier and nothing else. Sincerely hoping that the coast was clear, she pried one eye loosely open.

Rainbow Dash was sitting upright, staring intently into the flames. Twilight waited for a minute but she never budged an inch. She was quite shocked that Rainbow hadn’t try to tie her down or anything of the sort.

Does she trust me now?

Dash glanced over at her friend and saw one eye peering lazily back.

“You’re not gonna try anything funny, are you?” she said sternly.

Twilight gently shook her head.

“Good,” she replied.

Pushing up weakly from the ground, Twilight nonchalantly sat up and gazed solemnly into the fire as well.

The things I could tell you Rainbow… you have no idea. So much needs to be said, but without my voice, how would I do it?

“So, why did you come back for me?” Rainbow averted her gaze to meet Twilight’s.

Her eye contact let her see deep into her soul. Twilight nervously pointed back to her own throat.

I can’t speak Rainbow! Can’t you see that?

“So, you were trying to choke me?!” she yelled.

Oh no!! She thinks I was trying to strangle her!!! No Rainbow, that’s not what I meant by that!!

Twilight shook her head vigorously while still maintaining eye contact.

“Then… what were you trying to do?” she calmed down somewhat.

Seeing this as a good chance to show her motives, Twilight stood up. Rainbow was a bit uneasy at first, but decided to let her make an argument. The unicorn pointed up to the night sky where she had seen her friend fall from.

Twilight glanced back quickly to see if she was paying attention. Quite deliberately, she traced a line from the sky to the surface of the lake with her hoof, and forcefully flailed her arms upward to show her there was a great splash.

“Was that supposed to be me?” she asked.

Twilight nodded at her statement and continued. She made a paddling motion with her legs, aiming towards the center of the lake where she had splashed down. She stopped briefly and pretended to lift something heavy onto her back while simultaneously pointing to Rainbow.

“You picked me up?”

Twilight nodded again.

She made more swimming gestures aimed at the coastline and then pretended again to lift the weight off her back and gently set it down. Twilight then used her hoof like a pillow, laying her head against it, and made a snoring sound.

“I was sleeping,” Rainbow guessed.

Yes, now you’re getting it!! I knew you would!!

Twilight smiled and came to sit down beside her. She could tell Rainbow was still slightly lost in the dark.

“Okay, so now the big question. Why can’t you speak to me? You spoke quite clearly earlier today.”

Ugh… how does she still not get that it wasn’t me?! C’mon Rainbow, we were making progress here!

Twilight’s frown returned and she pointed back to her throat.

“You… lost your voice?” Rainbow wasn’t sure whether or not to believe her at this point. She had been tricked once already, maybe she was just trying to trick her again. But why go through all the trouble of falling into the river and acting out the little scene for her?

Twilight nodded even more glumly, letting a tear dangle at the end of her lash.

“How did you lose your voice?”

Her friend simply pointed back at the direction she came from, towards Ponyville she guessed.

The other me stole it!! She’s the one responsible! She even took my magic too!!

“You… lost it in Ponyville?”

Twilight pointed to her horn next and attempted to make it flare up, twisting her face in concentration. However, despite her best efforts, she could not conjure any magical energy.

“So, you can’t use magic anymore either?”

She nodded her head gravely. She had hit the nail on the head.

“You used it all up destroying Ponyville, huh?!” she shouted offensively.

Twilight couldn’t believe it. She had explained everything to her as best as she possibly could, and she still didn’t make the connection. She fell hopelessly onto her front legs, once again defeated. Her eyes welled up with tears once more and she began to quietly sob into her hooves, all the while gently shaking her head side to side.

No. No. NO! That’s not it Rainbow. That’s not it at all. Why won’t you trust me?

“Are you saying that’s not right?!” she asked loudly.

Instead of responding with a nod or shake, Twilight simply picked her head up with rivers of tears streaming down either side of her face. Her gentle, soulful eyes broke Rainbow’s focus as her friend’s cheeks became more and more damp under her building stress. The pegasus couldn’t look away. This was not the ruthless destroyer she had faced earlier today. Even when she had claimed innocence that morning when Rainbow threatened her, she saw something different in that pony’s eyes. But now, she saw none of that behind Twilight’s tears.

“Am I wrong, Twilight? About everything?”

Yes Rainbow. Yes.

Twilight nodded calmly with yet another meager smile.

She coolly approached Rainbow and slowly placed her forelegs around her shoulders, so as not to startle her this time. Sobbing ever so lightly and trying to hold in her emotions, Twilight relished this hug… and even better still, Rainbow returned her sympathetic embrace. They held each other so blissfully that the world around them seemed to stop. Rainbow could hear her almost silent whimpering, as the pressure of the day began to lift from off of her nearly broken heart.

Twilight felt so pathetic, but her friend graciously understood and allowed her to vent her frustration and crippling depression. She let out another faint squeak here and there, trying fruitlessly to tell Rainbow how happy she was that she finally was on her side.
Staring out over the lake and carefully holding her crying friend, Rainbow tried to think of better questions to ask, ones that she could actually answer.

“So Twilight, if that wasn’t you in Ponyville… then do you know who it actually was?”

She stopped crying for a moment to lift her head and Rainbow could tell her answer was no.

Twilight gradually let go of her friend knowing she was probably dying to know more information. Feeling a little light-headed, she sat back down and stared into the heart of the fire. She was so very tired and her body begged for sleep, but if Rainbow had more questions then she would gladly answer them.

“Why did you run from me then if you were innocent?” she asked.

Twilight cocked an irritated eyebrow at her.

Really Rainbow? Did you really just ask that? You screamed at me! And then you chased after me like you were gonna kill me or something!

“Uhh… never mind. Don’t answer that.” Rainbow felt so embarrassed and realized it was probably better to stick to ‘yes or no’ questions.

“Did the other Twilight send you here too?”

She could actually answer this one. Twilight nodded while pointing back into the forest in the direction of the stream.

“She sent you into the woods, huh? That seems kinda weird.”

Rainbow glanced back at the lake. “And then you… saved me… and made a fire for us.”

This one simple fact made her want to take back everything she had done or said to Twilight tonight. She was still her best friend, even after all the craziness she had met with today. It was her turn to cry now as she felt her soul crumbling in on itself, trying to imagine being in Twilight’s place right now, after all the lies and deception she had faced with such fervor and the torment her mind had been put through.

“Oh Twilight, I’m so sorry I chased you… and I’m sorry I yelled at you, after everything you did for me too. I must be the worst friend ever…”

Her unicorn friend amicably shook her head at the comment and smiled warmly.

No, you’re not the worst friend ever Rainbow. Don’t even think that for a second. We all make mistakes.

“So… you’re not mad at me then?” she asked solemnly.

Her friend shrugged her shoulders jokingly.

Ehh… what are you gonna do? I can’t stay mad at you forever.

Rainbow felt so relieved to know that her friend wasn’t going to hate her for the rest of her life, which she found ironic considering that was probably what Twilight was feeling herself just a short while ago.

With the rest of their stress slowly fading away they found that exhaustion was settling in. Twilight could barely keep her eyes open any longer and she could see Rainbow was fighting sleep as well, but then again, they didn’t have to anymore. As their small fire started to fizzle out, Twilight picked up the last of her now sparse pile of driftwood and threw it lazily upon the flame. Rainbow let out a lengthy yawn as she did so and steadily fell over onto her side.

It was becoming increasingly cold throughout the still night air and the breeze coming in from the lake wasn’t exactly helping their situation. Twilight cautiously scooted over towards Rainbow and calmly laid down beside her. Her coat still remained damp from her excursion into the river, making her shiver ever so subtly.

Rainbow heard Twilight’s faint breathing behind her as the fire started to fade out. She was obviously freezing, not being used to staying out in the wilderness for quite this long. In response, Rainbow flipped over sternly to face her cold friend and reached her forelegs around Twilight’s thin wobbly frame. She reeled her in close and placed her friend’s head into the crook of her neck.

Her mane brushed past Rainbow’s nostrils, almost making her sneeze, but she held it together. Though still cold, Twilight was once again comforted by her presence, listening to Rainbow’s breathing and slowing down her own pace to match it. A single tear fell down her cheek and she casually swept it across Rainbow’s coat, but she didn’t seem to notice. With their bodies now synchronized and radiating heat to each other, they found themselves falling into a state of relaxation and finally a much needed rest.

Thank you, Rainbow.


FLASH!

Though Shining Armor didn’t usually teleport to get around places, today was a marked exception. He was almost required to, as traveling from Canterlot by foot while hauling a full suit of golden armor would’ve proven very difficult.

Winking into existence, his hoofs casually planted onto the ground, and he took in the overwhelming sight before him.

The utter ruin of Ponyville struck at the core of his being.

“NO! Why would somepony do this?!” he exclaimed.

While on his way to the destroyed city he had passed by some civilians in desperate need of assistance. Most of them didn’t get a good look at the perpetrator of the chaos, but one was certain that Twilight Sparkle was the culprit. He didn’t want to believe it when he heard the news, but with some violet-pinkish flames still burning in the wreckage, the evidence certainly wasn’t presenting a good case for her.

“It can’t be… could Twilight really have committed this crime?” he asked himself.

Entering from the outskirts of town he kept his head low should anypony try to attempt a sneak attack. It was well after midnight and the stars bled through the black sky, but he had arrived as quickly as he could and no later. He was shocked when he had received the orders from Princess Celestia herself earlier that day, notifying him of an attack on Equestrian soil. Willingly, he left well before his first officers, and they would most likely have to catch up. A pegasus can only fly so fast, but Shining had become diligent enough in his use of magic that he could now cover vast distances simply by teleporting, though at a great cost to the magical levels within his body.

He passed down through street after street. Most buildings and homes were simply dissolved into blackened shadows, piles of still burning ashes. A crackle of burning wood could be heard now and again, and a wisp of purple flame would occasionally lash out at his feet as if reminding him just who he was dealing with.

“There’s no way, it’s got to be some mistake. I just couldn’t see Twily doing this in a million years, or ever for that matter.”

“Hello?! Is someone there?! Please! Help me!!”

A tiny voice cried from inside the blackened shell of a gutted home.

“Yes! Don’t worry! I’m coming!” he shouted in response.

Shining bounded into the ashy ruins, tromping over burnt wooden floors and dodging loose hanging planks. His golden armor clanged together with each long stride. He came to a door peered inside a wrecked room and saw a little filly, an earth pony, trapped awkwardly underneath a crushed bed frame. She appeared to have wrapped herself in some towels and now they were keeping her from wiggling her way out.

“Please, help me,” she said calmly.

“Of course,” he replied.

Shining used his magic to lift the charred bed over her, releasing its deathly grip. The filly squirmed away unharmed and removed the soot covered towels, revealing her untouched sunflower yellow coat. Her frizzled purple mane clumped in front of her face, but she promptly swiped it away.

“What happened here?” he asked.

The girl quietly looked around the ruined room. After taking a moment to calm down she met his eyes.

“I… I saw ponies running in the streets, and the fire. Then my house just… burst into flames. I panicked and ran into the bathroom, but it was on fire too, so I wetted some towels and ran back to my room. I would’ve ran away but the front door was on fire, and then I heard ponies screaming at something, so I got really scared and just hid under my bed.”

“Well I for one think you were very brave,” he commented with a smile, “And nice thinking too. Those towels probably saved your life. Now, you wouldn’t happen to know who did this… do you?”

“I… only saw somepony teleporting on the rooftops after that. I couldn’t see her face, but she was purplish… and a unicorn obviously. I’m sorry, that’s all I know,” she said nervously.

He was certain now. The other civilians were not just talking nonsense, which made this news even harder to swallow. His heart flipped over in his chest, still not sure how to answer the little filly.

“I see, well um… let’s get you to safety.”

He wouldn’t allow himself to show it, but he was starting to feel dizzy as his mind began spinning trying to come up with a possible explanation. She followed him out of her ruined house with her eyes closed most of the time. They cautiously avoided any piles of burning wood and made it back to the street the building overlooked.

“Hey mister, what’s your name?” she asked.

“Me? Well, I am Shining Armor, Captain of the Equestrian Royal Guard. I live to serve folks like you. What is your name by the way?”

“Oh my name is… wait, who’s that?”

The filly pointed uneasily down the road behind him.

He swiftly turned his head, catching sight of an eerily still silhouette of a pony. The shadowed figure’s horn lit up with a crackling sparking aura composed of violet energy. A bolt of dread streaked down the length of his spine.

Then, the unicorn slowly advanced upon them.

“RUN!” he yelled at the frightened filly behind him, “Run as far away from here as fast you can, and don’t stop.”

Realizing who it was, the filly obeyed his command and started galloping away down the city streets. At this point he was just happy that the shadow didn’t chase after her. It did make sense though, as he was the bigger target here.

Shining Armor carefully removed his purple and golden helmet and placed it on the ground beside him. With nothing obstructing his vision now, he could clearly make out her features.

“Oh, I wouldn’t have done that if I were you,” his sister said.

He couldn’t believe what he was hearing... but his royal duties took first priority. On the brink of crying, he issued a stern warning he sincerely hoped he would never have to.

“Twilight Sparkle! For the crime of high treason against Equestria’s citizens, I order that you come with me to Canterlot, where you will stand trial before a council of your peers!”

Those were the most difficult words he ever had the displeasure of speaking.

She halted abruptly and raised an eyebrow.

“Come on, Shining Armor.” She scoffed at his request. “You know it never works like that. Besides, you couldn’t make me go even if you tried, not by yourself anyways. I was hoping Canterlot would’ve sent more than just you. This won’t even be a challenge.”

He broke decorum for a brief moment at her hostile words.

“Twily… what are you saying?” he pleaded with her, “Why are you acting this way? I’m your brother for Celestia’s sake. We don’t have to do this!”

“You might not have to, ‘brother’. However, I on the other hand have no time to play games in Canterlot… at least not yet,” she replied cheekily.

“You’re acting just like Cadence did the days before our wedding! Are you a changeling?! What have you done with my sister, you monster?!” Magical energy started to subconsciously pour into his horn out of sheer anger.

“My my, as always you’re so quick to jump to conclusions. A changeling? It was a good guess perhaps, I’ll give you that. But you are wrong again ‘brother’. I am still just a unicorn.”

She casually started to approach him again.

“CHANGELING OR NOT! YOU’RE COMING WITH ME!!” he shouted.

FOOM!

His pent up immobilization spell fired loudly, rapidly reaching his sister in only a fraction of a second. His pinkish aura was intercepted by her own horn and she somehow managed to deflect the spell away with a jerk of her head, making the blast collide into the side of a building. The wall of the charred home noisily collapsed to the street below.

“If you’re going to take me in, might I suggest using more offensive spells than that one. Defensive spells aren’t going to get you anywhere I’m afraid.” She hunched down on her front legs aggressively as if preparing an attack of her own.

“I’m not going to hurt you!!” he yelled.

“Then I’ve already won, ‘brother’.” She grinned evilly and with a bright flash of purple light, teleported to a space directly beside him.

“Behind you!!” she shouted.

“Oh no you don’t!!” he retorted.

Right as she fired her coursing lightning bolt of hot energy, he teleported as well, off to some distant rooftop. Her beam scorched a long burning scar in the road way and she silently cursed to herself that she had missed. Angrily she reared her head.

“Gah! Why did you have to move?!” she yelled up at him.

“Have it your way Twilight!” He fired another streaking pink spell in her direction which she countered with a violet blast of her own.

Their heavily condensed energy collided with such force that an impact crater crushed the ground beneath the epicenter. Ash piles were blown away, thickly clouding the surrounding atmosphere. Deciding not to wait around for her to come back at him again, Shining teleported to another rooftop over the blackened remains of somepony’s home. It was simply amazing to him that some of these buildings could even still stand.

To his shock, she flashed into existence over the structure directly opposing him.

A slight pang of fear crossed her eyes as she saw that he had beat her to the punch.

“Uh oh…” she said bluntly.

He fired another torrential beam at the skeletal structure of the building beneath her and with a great surge, it began to topple over as well.

With her support falling away underneath her feet, she teleported again and just like the first time landed right next to him. He angrily charged another attack and fired, but once more it connected with nothing. She flashed into existence right behind him yet another time.

"How can she move so fast?!"

Now completely off guard, Twilight casted a simple, quick, and efficient freeze spell on his legs. His hooves remained plastered to the surface and he struggled to turn his body, but all his efforts proved useless.

He grunted and thrashed about, while she ever so elegantly paced around him. She was so close to him now it made his face flush red in anger.

“H-how did you-?!”

She quickly interrupted, “You let your anger get the best of you. Just as gullible as ever. Maybe that’s why you always stuck to sports when you should’ve spent more time studying.”

“What are you talking about?! What’s with you Twilight?!” he shouted.

“All in good time, ‘brother’. Hahahaha.” she chuckled lightly.

“You’re a liar!! You are a changeling aren’t you?!” he accused.

“Ugh… not this again. Whatever, keep making up conspiracy theories all you want. It doesn’t matter now.”

She let loose another calm wave of violet energy over his muscular frame, effectively halting all of his bodily movement. He tried in vain to fight against it, but accomplished little of anything.

“Grr… the other guards are on their way. It’s only a matter of time now before they show up and take you away for good Twilight. You have to stand trial!”

“You really still think I’m not beyond saving? After everything I’ve done?! Well… you certainly do stick to a misplaced moral high ground. As for the other guards, I don’t even care. I’m done with this town anyway as you can plainly see. Now… I think I’m going to move on to phase two.”

“What are you talking about?! You planned this?!”

Twilight put a hoof over her mouth. “Oops, I’ve said too much. I’ve got to put you out for a while now, but I do hope you know that I enjoyed our little ‘fight’. I really must be on my way now.”

Her horn blazed upward again with her familiar purplish energy. It poured out like a cup overflowing down onto Shining’s head. He felt the muscles in his neck seize up as he let out one more abated breathy grunt, until he was fully encased within a solid shell of magical aura.

“Excellent, now he won’t get hurt,” she added.

She brought her face close to his and delicately whispered in his ear, though he couldn’t even hear her from inside his prison. “As much as I hate to admit it, you were one of my favorites, Shining Armor.”

She backed away from him and took a final glance at the city around her. “May our paths not cross again.”

With another bright flash, she teleported off into the night.


“HHHUHHH!!”

Twilight loudly gasped as she flung herself awake for the third time.

Even with Rainbow gently holding her she was finding it extremely difficult to stay asleep for more than twenty or so minutes at a time. Horrible headaches continued to throb within her skull, causing her to have terrible nightmares as well. They came and went in shorts bursts and she knew it would have been impossible to make it through the night if not for her dear friend keeping her close.

Why does my head hurt so bad?

She fidgeted around unevenly making Rainbow Dash quietly stir awake also. The pegasus uneasily looked down at her unicorn friend with concern.

“What’s wrong, Twilight?” she asked almost silently.

Clenching her eyes shut in obvious pain, her friend pointed to her temple.

“Your head hurts?” Rainbow guessed.

Oh gosh. Like you wouldn’t believe! It’s unbearable, really.

Twilight silently nodded and laid her head back down, letting out a long sigh in an attempt to shrug off the pain. The fire beside them had burned out about an hour ago, leaving only a few hot coals left behind.

“Is there anything I can get you that would help?”

In place of answering her directly, Twilight simply pulled Rainbow closer to her and nuzzled her gentle nose further into her soft neck. The only thing she wanted for her headaches right now was the comfort of her friend. Rainbow took the hint and squeezed around her even tighter making Twilight smile lightly in satisfaction.

Just… please stay here with me.


So far, Twilight’s impostor was quite delighted with how well her plan was progressing. With a majority of her obstacles now out of the way, completing the rest of her scheme would seem comparatively simple.

No longer having any reason to stay in Ponyville, she fled into the Everfree to avoid capture. Although, if she could take down the captain of the royal guard, then taking care of any other soldiers had to be simple as well… but she did not fret, as that time would come soon enough. Soon she would be even more unstoppable.

“Hmm… the forest is much more overgrown than I remember it,” she glanced around at the dense foliage using a dim glow from her horn like a lantern in the night, “It has to be in here somewhere.”

She continued to venture deeper into the thicket, passing by various sticker bushes and hanging vines from tree branches when at last, she finally saw it.

But a simple hole in the forest floor, she knew it led to something much greater and grander, something that few ponies knew how to actually exploit… and still get away with it. She stuck her horn’s light down into the hole, gauging its depth. When she had decided that she could easily fit through, she descended quite carefully. It was more of tunnel really, with twists and turns that she wasn’t quite expecting, but whoever had made this entrance had clearly done so to make it look as inconspicuous as possible.

With only her dim violet light guiding the way, she finally came to a much larger opening which funneled out into a vastly expansive cave. There was a ramp that took her down to the ground level that smoothly leveled out. Stalactites hung high on the ceiling above her, dripping small droplets of water occasionally.

“I never expected it to be so easy to get here. Only a fool would come this far without knowing what they were doing.”

She finally reached a small body of water at the midpoint of the cave, and smiled at her reflection deviously.

“Fortunately, I am no fool… Gah, how did that blasted rhyme go again?” she asked herself.

She continued to stare at Twilight’s face for a second, contemplating the potential risks. If this worked like she thought it would, then nothing in Equestria could stop her.

“Yes. Now I remember.”

She inhaled deeply and leaned down towards the water, stopping with her nose just inches away.

"And into her own reflection she stared… yearning for one whose reflection she shared… and solemnly sweared, not to be scared… at the prospect of being doubly mared."

She let her body fall forward into the drink and was quite shocked to emerge on the other side, completely dry. She propped herself up onto the rocky layer in front of her and pulled herself up.

Before her stood another clone of Twilight Sparkle, but she wondered if her copy still retained her memories like she had.

“Are you who I think you are?” her copy asked.

“I am the original, yes, and as such… if our plan is to succeed then I need you to follow my lead.”

“But wait… if we make more of us, then won’t our mental acuity significantly decrease?”

“I like the way you think, but yes, you are right. If we continue to multiply then our minds will certainly be stretched thin,” said the original.

“How do you plan on combating this then?”

“You are my clone. You should know already that I have a spell for such a problem,” she dismissed.

The copy planted a hoof on her face in embarrassment. “Oh, how could I have forgotten? Silly me. Let us commence then?”

“Shall we?” agreed the original rhetorically.

They both took their places at the edge of the pool and simultaneously dove in. When they emerged on the other side the impostor couldn’t believe she now had three clones of herself to do her bidding.

But her lust for power could not satiated.

“No… I must make more! All of you, enter the water now!”

Not questioning their leader’s judgment, her subordinates dutifully obeyed and dove into the water as well. Copy after copy of Twilight Sparkle emerged from the water’s depths, and her numbers continued to swell, until she had a meager army gathered before her. Most of her clones gave her blank stares, but she had anticipated this and had prepared accordingly.

“Now I just need to apply the memory-meld spell. If not for the real Twilight Sparkle, this would’ve been nearly impossible.”

Her clones were starting to get anxious being so closely packed together in the cave. The impostor could tell she would have to act faster.

“I need your attention!!” she yelled.

They all mindlessly stopped any chatter, and fully obeyed her once more. When she was sure all eyes were on her she began charging her horn.

“Excellent! Now hold still!” she demanded forcefully.

A dense purple fog seeped from her horn slowly, and started to fill the vastness the cave. She had to enter each of their minds, one by one, and plant the seed of her knowledge, her pain, her misery, and the need for revenge most of all.

A clone here and there rejected her pain and felt themselves sucked back into the mirror pool. At this point it was merely survival of the fittest, and the undesirables would have to be weeded out tediously, but it was a sacrifice on her part she was willing to make. Her “army” had been effectively cut in half through her efforts, but with her knowledge of events now deeply rooted in each clone’s psyche, she felt confident that her plan would not fail.

After she was done prodding their minds, the purple haze lifted and her clones took their first real breaths of being self-conscious, having their own thoughts and awareness. Some of them shook their heads as if they felt bugs crawling over their skulls, but the side effects eventually wore off.

“Now we are all equals!!” she proclaimed.

Her copies silently nodded in agreement at her statement, still trying to center their gradually piecing together minds.

“So, with you now being as intelligent as myself, do you all agree that we need a leader?! I say since I am the one that brought you to this world, that makes me responsible for your actions, do you not agree with that as well?”

She received more complying nods from her fellow sisters and she felt her bloodlust began to soar to greater heights. Soon she would taste an even sweeter vengeance than she could’ve ever imagined, all under the false of identity of Twilight Sparkle. This plan was almost too perfect.

“Let us begin phase three then… hahahaha,” she chuckled devilishly at her subordinates with a most twisted grin.


Twilight awoke painfully yet again, as her headache had finally reached a boiling point. She carefully slipped out of Rainbow Dash’s embrace while she lay contently on the rocky surface. Slowly staggering to her feet, she headed towards the lake just a few yards away from them.

Her eyes were terribly bloodshot and worn out, and she had given it her best effort, but she simply could not sleep as well as her friend. She placed her hoof against her head and could tell by the heat that she was clearly running a fever. Sweat beaded down her neck and shoulders in short streams as she approached the lakeside.

I was freezing just a few hours ago. Why does it suddenly feel like the inside of an oven out here? Ugh… my head is spinning too. I don’t think I could even do basic math right now. This is ridiculous!! But..why does it hurt… so bad? Am I getting sick or something?

With her vision being blurred by the sweat trickling down her face, she stumbled forward awkwardly, and plunged into the cold water with a loud splash.

Relief flooded into her tired limbs and aching back. The water soothed her tender forehead and she felt pressure release on her joints, as she let the coolness seep into every crevice of her body. Deciding not to hold anything back, she let her frail frame fall freely into the black abyss. She didn’t even care anymore. The cold evenly combatted the heat and pain within her head and her body.

I should probably go up for air soon… but this feels so good. It’s like… I can finally fall asleep now.

A few bubbles escaped from her mouth as her chest fell in on itself. She could hear her own heartbeat slow down within her head.

What am I doing?! I’m going to die—no. No I won’t. Just a few more seconds. I’ll be okay. I shouldn’t think like that anyway.

She continued to fall into the watery blackness, letting her own desire for temporary relief override her survival instincts. Twilight didn’t want to ever go up now, not back to more pain and misery. Her mind started to slip away as well, as cold water began to enter her open mouth and trickle down the back of her throat.

Finally, after hours of agony… she fell asleep.


Splash!

“Hmm? What was that?” asked Rainbow.

Her eyes weakly pried themselves open and she was disheartened to find that Twilight was no longer held within her embrace.

“T-twilight? W-where’d you go?” she stammered.

Rainbow scanned the surrounding area only to find nothing, but then she saw a slight ripple passing over the lake close to their campsite which corresponded with the noise she had just heard just moments ago.

“Is t-that you Twilight? Are you in the water?” Her voice tensed more and more with each word.

She stood up and walked over towards where the ripple had emanated, though the water was still too dark to see through. She glanced around the campsite, looking around for Twilight one more time.

“Where did she go? She was with me just a second ago…”

Rainbow turned back to the water and a small pink glow caught her attention. A few feet below the surface, a tiny sphere of light cut through to the surface that seemed to be winking at her.

She felt true terror in her heart when she realized it was Twilight’s horn sending out a distress beacon. Her eyes widened in pure disbelief.

“NO! TWILIGHT!!!” she screamed shrilly as she dove into the black drink.

Her now recuperated legs were able to quickly propel her downwards. Twilight had fallen all the way to the lake bed, calmly resting on its surface in some peaceful slumber. Rainbow panicked and threw her legs around her friend’s waist, guided only by the faint pink light of her horn. With a powerful kick off the lake bed she surged both of them skyward.

Rainbow took in a deep gulp of air when she broke the surface and pulled her friend gently over her back, placing her on the rocky outcropping. Twilight’s body unfurled lazily over the rock and Rainbow desperately searched for any signs of life, but her chest wasn’t expanding. In fact, her entire body remained eerily lifeless and still.

“No, no, NO! Please, come on Twilight!” Rainbow pushed her head into Twilight’s sternum, listening intently for a heartbeat. When she heard nothing, she began frantically pressing down onto her chest with both hooves, attempting to manually start her heart. To her horror, Twilight remained completely unresponsive.

“No… no no no no NOOOOO!!” she shrieked.

Next, she took a mouthful of air and pursed her lips securely over her dying friend’s, and exhaled forcefully. Twilight’s ribcage expanded briefly and as Rainbow let go of her, her lungs retracted as well. No response.

Not yet defeated, Rainbow inhaled deeply and pressed firmly into her lips once again, letting out another long breath and expanding her friend’s lungs to full capacity.

“Mmph!” Rainbow let out a garbled noise as Twilight lightly coughed into her mouth.

The unicorn fell over onto her side gagging and coughing, all the while expelling all the water that was still caught within her airways, and feeling life surging back into her weakened torso. Rainbow had never been so happy than when she was seeing her friend come back from the brink of death itself, but her shocked state of mind kept her from saying anything as Twilight struggled to calm down from her ordeal.

What happened to me?! It feels like I have a house sitting on top of my chest! Did I pass out or something?

After taking a moment to breathe, Twilight casually reached up and felt her own soft lips, tasting a bit of saliva on her tongue that she didn’t recognize as her own.

D-did Rainbow Dash… perform mouth-to-mouth on me?

She turned around meekly to face her elated pegasus friend, who unexpectedly wrapped her up in joyous, yet strangely sorrowful hug.

Rainbow started to cry, sobbing as softly as a whisper into Twilight’s ear. “W-were… you trying… to kill yourself… or something?”

Her only response was a slight shake of her head. She let her eyes close with the utmost serenity and sighed heavily into Rainbow’s damp coat, allowing herself to get swept up once again into her friend’s loving embrace.

I’m sorry Rainbow. My head was spinning, my body was too hot for me, and… the water just felt so good. I guess one thing led to another… and…

Rainbow clutched her tighter. “Please Twilight… just stay by my side… and I’ll pull you through this, I promise. I know we got off on the wrong foot earlier, but I’m here for you till the bitter end. I hope you know that.”

Twilight sniffled weakly into her neck.

It was just a headache Rainbow, I swear. I wasn’t trying to kill myself. But, thank you… thank you so much for saving me again. I just wish I could tell you that I…

that I…

just…

want you by my side forever.


“Luna!!” A loud female voice broke the princess’s long period of silence.

She placed a hoof over her forehead in a meager show of aggravation towards her new arrival. She had been lost deep in concentration for hours on her observation deck, but she still was having extreme difficulty with something. With the night still dwindling away, she would not have much time left.

“Yes, sister?” she barked in irritation.

Celestia hovered down onto the deck, calmly placing herself next to her clearly preoccupied sibling. She approached her with absolute concern.

“I’m sorry Luna. I didn’t mean to disturb you, but have you found any signs of her yet?” she asked.

Her sister exhaled deeply in distress. “I’m afraid not. Your pupil is somehow preventing herself from entering any sort of dream-state. I haven’t felt her presence once all night. It’s almost as if she’s consciously not allowing herself to enter a deep sleep. That… or she placed a spell on herself to prevent her from doing so.”

Celestia sighed at the news. “Oh Luna… what am I going to do? So many refugees have already started pouring in from Ponyville. They’ve all been saying with certainty that it was Twilight causing the destruction.”

“Is that why you sent Shining Armor, sister?” Luna cocked an eyebrow.

“No, I sent only our fastest troops. There was no way for him to know ahead of time who we were dealing with. I just wish I had more answers for the citizens of Ponyville as well...” Celestia’s voice was faintly trailing off.

“What do you think caused Twilight Sparkle to commit this heinous act?” Luna asked.

“That’s exactly my problem, Luna… I don’t know what to think anymore,” Celestia drooped her head in grief.

“Oh come on, Celestia! You can’t possibly expect me to believe you’ve already forgotten. There are no others in all of Equestria that know better than us that no pony… is BEYOND SAVING!!”

A raging fire in Luna’s eyes penetrated deeply through Celestia’s soul. She was right in every way, however. Over a thousand years ago she had once felt this same sense of betrayal and heartbreak that she now faced, and she had frankly given up then too. Luna knew even better than she did, that terrible feeling of utter alienation.

Taken aback at her sister’s outburst, she fumbled with her response. “O-of course… you’re right, Luna. I’m sorry… I just don’t want what came between us to happen again with anypony else. I don’t think my heart could bare it, for a second time anyway.”

“Then what do you propose, sister?” Luna replied more calmly.

“Well, the safety of my people comes first,” Celestia confidently proclaimed, “Being so, I have sent half of the fleet to be stationed at every major settlement within a hundred mile radius.”

“How could you have planned this so quickly?” Luna asked.

“After ruling for as many centuries as I have, the most important thing I have learned in my time is that you can never be too cautious,” she sternly replied.

“Do you really believe she’ll attack another city, sister?”

“I’m not sure, but if I started treating her differently from any other criminal then everypony would certainly question my judgment.”

Luna glanced down at the city streets of Canterlot. From this high up she could see refugees dispersed arbitrarily at intersections and under street lights, desperately searching for temporary shelter.

“Have you seen her friends... the other elements of harmony? Have they come to seek your guidance?” she inquired.

“Yes… but only four of them have arrived so far. I allowed them to stay on castle grounds, but before I could ask them any questions they had all seemed too fatigued, and promptly requested a place to sleep. I was worried when Rainbow Dash didn’t show up with them, but the others said… she went to confront Twilight herself.”

"And she hasn't arrived yet?"

"Correct..." Celestia turned her head away to face the direction of Ponyville. " ...and If I don't hear from Shining Armor by morning, then I'm afraid I'll have to put a barrier around Canterlot myself."