• 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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~*Tea Party*~

With a roar of sound and a rush of wind, the courtroom was gone, and only the void remained. There was a low growl, and hungry eyes stared out at her from the darkness. There were hundreds, thousands, millions of them, as vast and numerous as the infinite stars in the sky.

“Okay…” Twilight said, her voice cracking. She took a hesitant step backwards and found herself pressing even closer to Fluttershy. “I suddenly feel less defiant than I did ten seconds ago. Thoughts?”

Fluttershy’s eyes darted back and forth, trying to take in every threat at once. While Twilight would have expected a much stronger terror response from the real Fluttershy, this one was apparently made of sterner stuff.

“You know,” Twilight muttered under her breath, “it would be awfully silly if I spent all this time going through this big journey of discovery and self reflection only to get torn apart by a swarm of hungry cats at the end.”

Fluttershy nodded, a slight smile playing at her lips. “It would kind of wreck my entire raison d'être.”

Twilight suppressed a chuckle. They were back to back now, watching the horde from every angle. They hadn’t pounced yet, simply waiting for them out in the darkness. “You know, you really are different from the Fluttershy I know.”

Fluttershy snorted haughtily, a familiar arrogant tone entering her voice that sounded almost alien coming from the shy pegasus. “I am an Alicorn Princess in my own right, after all. More than capable of standing with you as an equal.”

“Standing with me as my equal…? Fluttershy, you didn't really think I would care about something as trivial as that, did you?”

She hadn’t been talking to the Fluttershy next to her, but she looked away all the same.

Shaking her head, Twilight began to channel magic into her horn. The surge of energy she had experienced upon the realization of the truth was gone, and had likely been limited to that singular purpose, regardless. “Fluttershy... The mantle of Golden Wish was just an illusion you crafted through lies, deception, and misdirection. Just another story, but stories have power to the ponies who believe in them.”

Fluttershy nodded and closed her eyes. She began to shimmer, and in a twisting vortex of golden light, Golden Wish stood in her place once more.

“To me, at least, this form is far more comforting. Now then, oh Great and Powerful Twilight Sparkle, what do you suppose we do about this predicament?”

“I told you not to call me that,” Twilight snapped reflexively. The banter was a welcome change, and the power of two alicorns, especially one with a toolkit as varied as Golden Wish's, was nothing to scoff at, but that final red truth still rang in her ears.

This story will not have a happy ending.”

The cruelest of taunts or threats from any of the villains she’d faced in the past hadn’t even come close to filling her with even half as much dread as the weight of that truth did. Her mouth had gone completely dry, and she wanted nothing more than to just curl up underneath her bed back home and never come back out again.

What hope was there against despair so absolute?

Golden Wish nudged her in the side roughly. “You’re not really going to give up now, are you, Twilight?”

Twilight shook her head and swallowed deeply. “Of course not. I suppose we’ll finally get to see what sort of special powers you truly possess, outside of the bounds of fantasy.”

Their levity was cut off by a sudden glint of light from up above. A voice rang out from every direction, cold and merciless.

“Do you know the definition of a Miracle, Twilight Sparkle?”

“An effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known pony or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause,” Twilight said, quoting the sixth edition of the Canterlot Equestrian Dictionary. “Do we really have to play the rhetorical questions game?”

“An extraordinary event. Something incredibly unlikely. A pony wins the lottery. A pony trips on a rock and breaks their neck. A terminally ill patient wakes up cured the next morning. A unknown power manifests itself on the eve of a battle that will decide the fate of nations. When it comes down to it, a miracle is either a statistical unlikelihood assigned greater meaning by those who witness it, or the direct intervention of some greater power.”

There was a blur of motion, and Infinite Miracle was before them. Her feline eyes shone as hungrily as the rest. “True miracles can only be written in storybooks, and no author is going to save you now.”

Her scythe swung in a great vertical arc towards them. The blade rent the very fabric of reality as it passed, promising an unfathomable oblivion to any caught in its wake.

Twilight shot off like a rocket, veering towards the left. She could sense Golden Wish doing the opposite, the two fanning out in a V shape as the scythe split the air between them.

The cats pounced, converging down on the pair like a swarm of angry hornets.

“I’m really not much of a cat pony,” Twilight growled. She flared her power, conjuring a shield in front of her, tapering it into a fine point as she continued to plow forward at top speed. Shrieks and yowls bounced off her shield only to be immediately silenced, like thousands of bugs splattering against the windshield of a train.

Working a defensive spell into an offensive one like this necessitated that some parts of her body remained vulnerable for the sake of maneuverability, and even as she kept the bulk of them from tearing her apart, she felt hot flashes of pain streak across her flank and against her wings.

“Goldie!” Twilight screamed out and she to spin to her right. She could just barely see Golden Wish mimicking her maneuver in the opposite direction out of the corner of her eye. As she continued her barrel roll, they spun around each other like a pair of orbiting stars.

She let her magic flow out of of her horn unrestrained and undirected and felt it resonate as she twisted through the air. The two continued their elegant dance through the void, spinning around each other in a dizzying double helix. Power radiated in all directions, and they began to pick up more and more speed. Any of the beasts that were foolish enough to get in their way were obliterated in a shower of fur, fangs, and gore.

They were moving faster and faster. Had this place had a true sense of gravity or physics, they probably would have been torn apart, but such rules had been checked at the door. Even so, something was pushing back against them, stretching as they pushed against it, resisting the will to break.

“Just, a little, bit, more!” Twilight screamed, and she redoubled her efforts. The barrier broke and they shot forward even faster in a thunderous explosion. Colors, radiant golds and purples blazed forth from her mane, and the ambient starlight seemed to shift in color.

The wave of energy ripped through the horde like a tsunami crashing down on a sand castle. With that much power, not a single set of eyes remained.

Twilight leveled out of the spin, laughing madly as she flew even with Golden Wish. “Rainbow Dash is going to flip when I tell her about this!”

Golden Wish shot her a radiant smile, her own mane trailing contrails of power. “What are you going to call it, a Twilight Wishboom?”

“Yeah, no. That would just be dumb.” Twilight craned her neck as the stars, fragments of other worlds, sped past them in a blur. “Uh, you don’t happen to know which one of these is home, do you?”

Golden Wish frowned and began to slow down. The two soon came to a stop, glancing around the endless infinity. “We can’t exactly check all of these…”

Twilight swallowed. Even if she wasn’t being hunted by a vindictive monster, her hopes were beyond “needle in a haystack” and far closer to “atom on a planet.”

There had to be something she could do; it was her home. Her friends were there waiting for her, worrying. She should be able to sense something like that. She closed her eyes and focused.

Twilight…

It was faint, but she heard a familiar whisper in her mind. Fluttershy.

Twilight…

Again, this time from Rarity. It was followed by faint echoes, all of her friends voices, calling her home. Where was it coming from?

Out of the corner of her eye she caught a star that seemed to be a much deeper shade of silver than the others. In way, it reminded her of…

“Moonlight! Oh, Luna, you clever pony, you.”

She quickly pointed out the star, then began to channel her magic again once more. She was already starting to feel the fatigue, but it wouldn’t be much longer now. “Let’s g—”

Something huge and fast shot down from above and swallowed Golden Wish in an instant.

“NO!” Twilight screamed, and shot down after what appeared to be a great serpent. She began to gather together energy for a strike, but the great creature suddenly roared in pain, and with a blast of light, Golden Wish burst forth from its insides.

“Go!” she screamed at Twilight, one of her wings looking ragged and bloodied. With impossible agility, the Leviathan twisted back on itself and crashed into her from the side, its great mouth threatening to to swallow her once more.

Golden Wish held on as they plunged downwards, hooves stretched out at awkward angles to prevent the great jaws from clamping down on her.

Twilight pulled into a dive, trying to catch up and get level with the beast, but its speed was incredible. “I’m going to get you out of there, hang on!”

“Just go, Twilight! Don’t worry about me, I’ll catch up with you later!”

“But-”

“Do it!”

It didn’t feel right to leave her, but she could see another pair of massive eyes staring at her from the darkness, a second great serpent ready to devour her soul.

“You’d better not die!” Twilight roared and shot straight up towards the fragment that was her home.

There was a deafening bellow from behind her and the second serpent gave chase, its howl rattling her to the bone.

It was gaining on her, and fast. The thing was just too damned big to outrun. Even as she poured on every bit of speed she could possibly manage, it gained on her.

The leviathan’s jaws stretched wide, and they were bigger than all of Equestria’s oceans combined. Wider still, and they could swallow an entire planet, an entire cosmos. The void loomed up beneath her, somehow even deeper than the one she already raced through, threatening to engulf her very soul.

It was hopeless. She needed to be faster, but even here, where physics meant naught and distance was more of an abstraction, she had limits. That trick she had pulled moments before had been a fluke, a resonance of their powers and wills combined. She was alone now, and only Rainbow Dash would have even stood a chance of escaping.

A titanic fang shot past her as the mouth began to close around her, the bulk of it encompassing nearly her entire field of vision. She could barely even comprehend the existence of a being so unimaginably massive.

A strange memory flickered in her mind as she was pulled deeper and deeper, the distant moonlight of home becoming a bare whisper.

Rainbow Dash had wanted to go faster than the speed of light. She hadn’t known that it was impossible, and Applejack had tricked her without technically telling a lie. Just another harmless joke between friends, but Twilight wryly wished that it hadn’t been. Going faster than the speed of light would be the only thing that could save her right now.

The jaws closed, her guiding star went dark, and Twilight smacked herself in the forehead with her hoof.

She was a complete idiot. When it came to travel, she had been able to outrun light for years.

Twilight teleported out of the leviathan’s grasp with a quick pop. The near aeonic distance she covered by that simple lateral movement would have normally taken the energy of an entire sun, but the wonky laws of physics here were back to working in her favor.

The serpent whipped around, its size manageable again but still impossibly fast, and the chase was on once more.

The stars loomed closer, and Twilight leapt towards them in jarring jumps, teleporting every time her pursuer began to nip at her hooves.

With another flash, a great crystal was before her, blocking her path. Each facet of the gem reflected an image deep within, and she found her movement arrested, mesmerized by what she saw.

It was her own reflection, and that of her friends. Not just scenes from the novella, but of her life too. Images of possible futures, possible pasts. Herself as a stallion, a dragon, a griffon, a breezie, and dozens of other twisted configurations. Strange creatures, alternate realities, things that could be, and perhaps, in this world between worlds, were.

A voice whispered in her mind, deep and insidious as the leviathan closed in. “Fiction is a vast and endless expanse of possibilities, Twilight. True narratives. Fulfilling ones. Action, adventure, love, truths. Didn’t you use to curl up under your blankets as a filly, reading by the light of your horn, daring to dream about what life would be like if you lived in a storybook?

Twilight faltered, her heart pounding in her chest.

What awaits you at home, truly? A sad, narrative-less reality. A friend, who in a mad obsession betrayed your trust and sought to hurt you deeply. Love? Love is something meant to be pure and honest. Not something so ugly and twisted, clearly broken. The Fluttershy you believe in is reflected there. One who, while shy and insecure, is honest and pure in her emotions.

A lifetime played out before her in seconds. Like so many days before, Fluttershy showed up on her doorstep. Instead of a book, she just had something she wanted to say, awkward, unable to spit it out, blushing furiously. Finally, she squeaked out an unintelligible confession, kissed her straight on the lips, and ran away as fast as she could, leaving a stunned Twilight behind.

After a bit of soul searching, Twilight tracked her down. She sat on Fluttershy’s bed while Fluttershy hid underneath, and they talked it out and agreed to start a relationship together.

Awkward dates and foalish mistakes followed; Twilight was no expert at love herself. But, they truly cared for one another, and their love grew from a tiny seed of infatuation into an unshakable foundation.

Love. Marriage. Kids. Old age. Grandkids. Peace. A thousand moments, glimmers of an existence, each moment full of a wholesome love and happiness that Twilight had never even considered for herself. She was floored by the sheer bliss of it all.

It was a trick, obviously, and yet…

You will never have such a life at home. Not with her.

“I’ll…” Twilight mumbled. It was all too much. She didn’t want to face this now. She didn’t even know if she wanted a life like that, let alone with Fluttershy. The Fluttershy she knew had turned out not to be so sweet and innocent, she…

With a yelp, Twilight teleported to the opposite side of the crystal as the Leviathan crashed into it, shattering it into a million pieces. She sped forward, dodging the shrapnel, and from the corner of her eye she saw the serpent melt into the form of Infinite Miracle. The broken fragments gathered around her and began to spin, orbiting her like a ring of asteroids.

“Where are you running to, Twilight? I know in your heart you want to be running away instead. You know what you’re going to see when you confront her. It isn’t worth it. You can do far better than that worthless lump of trash.”

An almost irrational anger pulled at her briefly, and Twilight flared her magic, firing blindly behind her. “Nopony has the right to talk about my friends like that!”

Laughter followed her as she continued to flee, cold and cruel. “Your loyalties are so fickle, Princess. Perhaps you need a reminder of what awaits you at home.

There was a whizzing hiss, and crystal fragment flew past her ear at an impossible speed. She yelped and threw up a quick shield behind her. Had her head been just a little to the left, it would have taken her ear off.

The second projectile tore through her shield like it was paper and ripped through one of the feathers on her right wing. She wasn’t going to be able to dodge or protect herself like this. She prepared to teleport, but there was a sudden sharp pain in her back, and—


The stench was unbearable, but no amount of physical sensation could dwarf the horror and loss of hope deep inside her.

She had held strong when Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie had gone missing. It was just a harmless prank, a misunderstanding, an error in communication. She had remained calm and directed the search efforts when they had found the bloodstains. Her friends might have been hurt, and she was definitely worried, but everything would turn out alright in the end.

The sight of their corpses, throats cut and casually tossed into a ditch in the Everfree Forest, picked at by scavengers, extinguished that light for good.


She cried out in pain and tumbled through the void as she came out of the teleport, struggling to right herself. It hadn’t pierced straight through her, at least, but she could feel the jagged shard sticking out of her back and hot blood trickling down her side.

She was close now. Her home fragment pulsed with a warm, silver light, calling to her, inviting her in. Everything would be alright if she could just make it there.

Another shard bit deep into her cutie mark, and she screamed.


Rarity and Applejack were the next victims. Their burgeoning relationship was cut short, and they lay twisted together in a bathtub filled with their own blood.

She was going to have to tell their families, she realized. She would have to explain to them how, as the lead investigator for this case with the full resources of the crown at her disposal, she had no solid leads, no justice, no comfort.

A strange, cruel joke came to her, as they often did as of late, and she had to suppress a giggle. Maybe that erstwhile trio would finally get their cutie marks if they helped catch their sisters’ murderer.


No! Not like that. It was all just a lie. Something like that could never actually happen. She would—


She caught her in the act, blood still dripping from her hooves.

“Oh. Um, hi Twilight. I didn’t expect you to come home so early.”

She didn’t look crazy. Her eyes weren’t wild, she wasn’t ranting or raving. Fluttershy looked and sounded like she always did. Sweet, kind, a light blush on her cheeks, hesitant on how to proceed.

If Spike’s mangled body hadn’t rested beneath her hooves, Twilight almost could have believed this was normal.

Fluttershy took several steps forward until she was standing directly before Twilight. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Twilight could practically feel the heat radiating from her friend’s blush.

“Um, Twilight, listen. There’s, um, something I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time, but I’ve always been too scared. I’ve thought about how I was going to say it, but I guess you’re just supposed to let these things come from the heart. Well, here goes.”

Twilight stared, unable to move or react in any way.

Fluttershy peeked out at her from behind her bangs, a shy smile barely visible. “I’m in love with you, Twilight. I have been for a while. And, um, if you’ll take me, I’d love nothing more than to be together with you forever.”


Twilight slowed, coming to a stop. The crystals piercing her flesh were an incredible weight, and it was just too much effort to keep on moving. What was the point? She had figured out the truth. Why was she trying to delude herself into thinking that it was even remotely forgivable?

Nothing but ruin was waiting for her when she returned. Even if this grim prophecy didn’t come true, she wouldn’t be able to accept the truth, and it would shatter her friendships. Why even bother?

Another shard whizzed past her, but this one stopped, right in front of her face. Even lifting her eyes up to track its movements felt like trying to raise the sun.

In the reflected facet, Twilight could see a bright pink unicorn with a mop of blonde hair mostly hidden under a garish beret.

The image of Absolute Certainty met her eyes, and then winked.

With a sickening tug of motion, Twilight suddenly rocketed forward as if launched by an invisible spring. Before she could even register what was going on, she slammed into something solid at an incredible speed. She bounced off of it as every bone in her body protested in agony.

Twilight groaned and shook her head, trying to regain her senses. With a start, she realized that the crystals had fallen out of her, and that the malaise they had brought with them was gone. It wasn’t hopeless; she was doing this for a reason, and she was going to see her friends again, no matter what.

A soft light pulsed from behind her, and she turned around to see the reflection she most wanted.

Home.

She saw herself there, lying in a hospital bed. Her friends watched over her in shifts. Reality was just an arms length away.

Infinite Miracle was there in front of her, her eyes glinting with manic delight as they locked with her own.

“Why are you going through all this trouble just to stop me?” Twilight asked, jumping backwards.

Infinite Miracle clicked her tongue, shaking her head. “Tragedy, Twilight. The genre is Tragedy. Somebody is going to walk away from this heartbroken and alone. To struggle on and on until the end, until hope is just within your grasp, only to fail. Is there anything sweeter? Tragedy is the forge that makes the strongest steel, and I was hoping to leave this game with a new weapon.”

Twilight snorted, her eyes shifting about warily. The cats were returning, slowly creeping in from the surrounding darkness. She was so close. “And what? You think you can dissuade me with images of my friends being murdered? As if. I’ve been dealing with that for days now. A little scenario change isn’t going to break me.”

“Just a scenario change? What you saw is the truth. Fluttershy is a murderer, or will soon become one.

Those words struck like an iron barb around her heart, but she wasn’t going to fall for a trick that easy. “We’re talking about alternate realities, here. Just because it’s ‘true’ for any given story doesn’t mean it’ll happen at home.”

Infinite Miracle growled, her eyes narrowing to slits. “Last chance, Princess. It would still be a tragedy if you never woke up. Join me or die.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Can you get any more cliche? Bring it on.”

That terrible scythe formed once more, and Twilight readied her own magic.

It would have been nice if she had been able to say goodbye, at least.

I killed you, in this room. The door is locked and the chain is set. The room is a golden closed room.

There was a brilliant flash of gold, and a translucent red cube coalesced into existence around Infinite Miracle.

Golden Wish flapped down from above, her eyes wild with challenge. “Can you escape?”

Infinite Miracle raised a hoof to brush back her mane, her eyes cold. Her scythe began to glow a radiant blue. “Do you really think your mundane puzzles can hold a candle to someone like me?”

“Long enough for Twilight to escape.”

“Goldie, your leg…”

Golden Wish turned to look at Twilight, her eyes were filled with pain, but her face twisted into a smile anyway. “Ah, you know. I think I lost it during the chase. It’d be a pain to go back and find it now.”

Blood dripped from the stump where her right foreleg had been.

Infinite Miracle turned to regard Twilight. “And you’re really just going to let her sacrifice herself? I’m going to get out of this cage; there’s absolutely no denying it. And when I do, there will be no escape. Is that the kind of happy ending you’re looking for?”

Twilight shook her head. “Goldie, you don’t have to do this for me.”

Golden Wish rolled her eyes. “Please, Twilight, I’m a fictional character. I was written for the explicit purpose of killing all of my friends, just so you could figure out a puzzle. I don’t deserve anything better. Let me have this.”

Twilight bit her lip. She could feel both sets of eyes on her, one pleading, the other judging. Why were these choices never easy?

Golden Wish looked away, her voice soft. “Twilight… When you get back. Tell Fluttershy… tell my mother, that I forgive her for making me do what I did.”

Golden Wish turned back to face Infinite Miracle, fierce determination burning in her eyes.

“I will,” Twilight mumbled. She dived forward, past the cage of red as blue truths began to tear at it, and touched home base.

Darkness took her. This time, at least, it was warm.

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