• Published 26th Jan 2014
  • 4,493 Views, 513 Comments

The Heart of an Author - Oroboro



Mystery. Love. Magic. Murder. Truth. These are all important elements in the murder mystery Fluttershy has written, and is now asking Twilight to read. But she struggles to solve the mystery in which it turns out she's the protagonist.

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Twilight's scream pierced through the midnight air as her eyes snapped open.

She was soaked with sweat, the stale air helping little as she lay there taking short, ragged breaths.

So it was all just a dream. She had known it was, on some level, but the pain, the fear, and the exhaustion all felt so real. Even now her body still trembled from the phantom memories of death.

Well, dream or not, it wouldn't do her much good to dwell on it. It was still dark, and sleeping anytime soon would be a tall order, so a midnight snack would be an appropriate way to calm her nerves.

Twilight moved to throw the covers off of her and then froze.

There weren't any covers. Or pillows. Now that she actually looked around, and her eyes had started to adjust, she realized she wasn't in her room at all.

This was impossible, wasn’t it? It had to be another dream. It wasn't exactly uncommon, after all, to wake from a nightmare just to be catapulted into another.

Her mind was completely alert though, and the fear fueled adrenaline that coursed through her veins told a different story.

Twilight hesitantly stood up, looking every which way. She was greeted by the sight of nothing but an empty black void, stretching out in every direction. Even the solid ground she stood on seemed to continue on indefinitely.

Despite the lack of light, however, Twilight knew it was not a lack of vision that isolated her. This void was a literal one; it was an expanse of nothingness covering all of eternity..

She rubbed at her eyes and tried to find even the slightest hint that she wasn’t alone here. Her efforts were rewarded when she began to make out the soft glimmer of stars; tiny pinpricks that represented so much more slowly painted a canvas across the sky.

Not that sky was truly an appropriate descriptor. Twilight gingerly tested the ground before her and, finding it solid, began walking slowly. "Hello? Is anypony there?"

Her voice carried through the void, eventually being swallowed up without a trace.

This had to be a dream, right? Ponies just didn't randomly wake up in the middle of space. Well, she supposed there was that one time with Princess Celestia when she became a princess, but that was different. That had been warm and comforting. She largely suspected it had been a personally constructed mindscape of Celestia's. If only she had actually bothered to ask her about it.

Not that she would have likely received a straight answer even if she had.

But just what was this strange reality then, and what did it represent? She certainly wasn't in Equestria anymore. She could still feel her magic, its power a comforting pulse in the back of her mind. She wasn't defenseless, then, but she was still hesitant to start casting spells. Who knew what could happen if she did so carelessly?

Lost in thought, Twilight stopped as she realized that she had been walking forward for quite some time. The stars were even clearer now, though it still appeared as if she were walking on nothing at all.

"Princess Twilight Sparkle."

A voice rang out, cold and unfamiliar. Twilight spun, immediately readying her magic. "Who's there? Show yourself!"

“Of course. That’s why I brought you here, after all.”

Twilight watched as a low shadow crept across the ground, slowly coming closer before it stopped and looked up at her with a pair of slitted, purple eyes that shone in the darkness.

“Wait, you’re…”

The cat’s lips twitched slightly in what might have been a grin, before she was engulfed by a bright blue flame.

Twilight stepped back, instinctively shielding herself from the heatless inferno. In a flash it was over, and a unicorn stood before her instead.

“You may call me Infinite Miracle.”

Twilight stared blankly at the gray mare. “You’re a cat,” she said flatly.

Infinite Miracle smirked, running a hoof through her long blue mane. “I am one yet many. All I wish is within my grasp. I am a traveller, a gambler, a reader, and a player.”

“I don’t understand,” Twilight said, biting her lip. “Is this supposed to be a dream?”

“You still slumber in your bed at home, but your heart and soul lie here with me, in this world between worlds.”

Twilight raised a hoof then frowned, a million questions dashing through her mind. “This is fascinating, and as utterly confused as I am, I could stand here asking questions all day. But I think it might be best if we just skip to the point.”

Infinite Miracle nodded slowly, then walked past her, tail swishing back and forth as if she were still feline in nature. Twilight saw her cutie mark, a broken crystal flanked on either side by a pair of cat’s eyes.

“I’ll make it simple then, Twilight. I wish to invite you to play a game for me.”

Twilight turned to face her. “A game? What do you mean?”

Infinite Miracle’s horn glowed a soft blue, and two spinning crystals appeared in the air in between the two them of her. “This is a realm of infinite possibilities, of endless fragments, of fleeting thoughts and memories, chances taken and never taken. Each light you see out there represents a reality, a story, an idea, a life. Here is the place where the borders between fiction and reality become thin.”

Twilight lowered her head to stare at the crystals, leaning in close. “This is…” In their reflections, she could see familiar images. Herself in a mansion. Spending time with her friends. Discovering their bodies. Facing off against Golden Wish. Losing.

“These are the stories your friend Fluttershy has written. Truly, they are quite intriguing pieces of art, are they not? Such a unique mindset on her. I wonder where such creativity and ingenuity could have come from? But sadly, they are incomplete.”

Twilight reached up a hoof, lightly touching the crystal as she stared into its depths.

“Do you want to know the truth, Twilight Sparkle?”

Twilight blinked, looking up. “What do you mean?”

“Fluttershy will write no more novels. She has dropped out of this race, but the mystery remains unsolved. Is that acceptable to you?”

“I…” Twilight shook her head. She did want to know. It bugged her more than any unsolved problem she’d ever faced in her life, and she wasn’t entirely sure why. “I’m sure I can figure it out, if I just try…”

There was a flash of light, and the two crystals slammed into each other, becoming one. “I’m offering you a third and final chance to tackle this tale of treachery and woe. One last story, crafted from the hearts of those previous to it. This time it would not star Twilight, nor Twilight. But you.”

Twilight swallowed as the implications hit her. “You want me to… live through one of her novels? Like, for real?”

“A chance to pit your wits against the mare known as Golden Wish yourself. With the added perspective of a reader, it shouldn’t be too hard, right?”

One last chance to solve the mystery. The clues were all scattered about, and she was so close, but everything just kept slipping tantalizingly out of her grasp. Would just one more novel do the trick? But to live through that sort of nightmare herself... Could she handle it? And perhaps more importantly…

“Why?” Twilight asked, narrowing her eyes. “Who are you, exactly? What could you possibly have to gain from something like this, and why would you be interested in me and a novel written by my friend?”

Infinite Miracle chuckled, a slow laugh bereft of warmth. “I am merely a traveler. I seek out interesting things and engaging stories; this one has caught my eye. Will Twilight Sparkle solve the mystery and learn the truth? Or will both she and Fluttershy give up and return home, their friendship shattered? You could even say I’ve got a substantial wager riding on the outcome.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow. “So, what, you disguise yourself as a cat, spy on me, then place bets on the outcomes of our lives?”

“Yes.”

Twilight grit her teeth. “Forgive me if I don’t find that to be a particularly trustworthy sentiment. What about you, then? Do you already know the truth?”

“I have my suspicions, but I’d prefer it if you were able to confirm them. The best stories tell themselves as we live them, after all. That is the chance I offer: to write the story as you see fit, to be the Twilight Sparkle who takes victory for herself, rather than being the Twilight Sparkle written to fail.”

That much at least was true. In both novels, Fluttershy seemed to have written it so that Twilight lost in the end. But despite Fluttershy’s hopes that she would prevail where her fictional counterparts had not, the truth continued to elude her. Would exploring the world Fluttershy had so lovingly crafted from every angle finally reveal what she was missing?

“If I accepted your offer, to play this game… would it be safe?”

“No.”

Well, points for brutal honesty. Risking her life, all for a game, just to fully explore the truth of Fluttershy’s stupid novel. Such an idea would be totally insane, right?

“I… I’ll do it.“

She had to know. For her sake. For Fluttershy’s sake.

Infinite Miracle smiled, her horn glowing blue once more. An empty chessboard materialized in front of her, and she reached down and placed a small figurine shaped like Twilight Sparkle onto the board.

“Well. Let’s tear this catbox open, shall we?”

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