• Published 16th Apr 2014
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Besides the Will of Evil - Jetfire2012


A shadow from the deep past returns to threaten Equestria, along with all the world. Can Twilight Sparkle and her friends be a light in the dark?

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Chapter 40

Author's Note:

Two chapters today! Next one coming right up!

Celestia is in the Dreaming. She is also in the lovely gleaming throne room of the Crystal Empire. Celestia is a goddess, and there are many things about this status that her subjects do not understand, or properly appreciate. The Dreaming is within her and without her, above her and below her and about her. She is the Dreaming, for she is a god and gods are Dreaming-stuff. When she breathes, the great and lovely swell of color that stretches into a glowing heavy-weight infinity flares and flashes, bathed at once in golden light. She is not the pronghorns, who must enter the Dreaming by their drugs and meditation. She is not Rainbow Dash, who need but meditate. She is greater. She is in the Dreaming all the time.

What she sees- it cannot be totally described. Her vision is the vision of the world, but also of the Dreaming, which is in the world and yet is not the world. The Dreaming is a total part of all the world, and is beyond the world- it is the Before-Life, and it is Life, and it is the Afterlife, an endless gleaming cycle spiraling below-above-beyond, life feeding on life and bringing forth new life in turn. The Dreaming is Being is Lightning- Lightning is the ladder that the Dreaming travels down from. The Dreaming came down in the Lightning at the starting of the world, to bring Life to the Unlife of the early days.

This is all unclear. There are ways to be clearer. There is a a single word, in fact, that totally and perfectly describes the Dreaming. However, it is in a language that few know, and few can speak. Celestia can speak it. So can Luna. Discord can, though he may have forgotten how. Cadence will be able to someday, but she is not ready yet. And the Elements of Harmony...

Celestia can See, when she peers through the Dreaming. She sees infinity of sound and color and of feels and scents, all Existence, all Experience all at once- all that can be felt, all in a single glance. She can feel Power, too. And she can feel the Elements of Harmony. They pulse and gleam. In them is the Lightning, bright and hot, pure channels of power that are not only in the Dreaming but that lead beyond them. Because, of course, the Wills That Draw The World exist beyond the Dreaming. It is their dream.

My princess? It is a guard.

Yes, good sir? What is it?

She feels his Being- his reality, his channel of the Lightning- buckle, crack. She sighs, emanating golden brilliance, and switched her great and mighty spirit back to focus in the waking world. The guard was cowering, for to him, in that moment, Celestia had been as bright, or brighter, than the Sun she raised. It had not been a brightness he could see, though- it was a brightness he had felt- had thought, had... sensed. He could see it just a bit when he blinked- it was burned into his eyelids, like lightning.

“I'm so sorry, good sir,” said Celestia, smiling gently down at him. She shimmered gentle gold and pulsed a calming aura round herself. “You are... Captain Tumbledown, yes?”

“Ah! Y-Yes, my princess,” said Tumbledown. He stood upright and snapped off a salute. “Sorry for the impropriety, ma'am!”

“It's quite all right. I did, however, say that I wished to be alone.”

“Well, ma'am, it's just that... Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy have returned.”

Celestia gasped. “Send them in at once!”

Tumbledown went galloping away. Celestia peers once more through the Dreaming. Brilliance blazes back at her. There are a spirit and a spirit like she's never felt before. They have a power and a brightness close to hers. She has always been able to feel the Elements of Harmony, even when they faltered, even when Reiziger's shadow came and covered some of them in darkness. That is why she has not ever given up her hope. But they have not been like this before.

“Heya, Princess Celestia!”

“Hello, Pinkie Pie!” Celestia said, dropping from the throne. Her eyes went wide. “Oh my goodness,” she whispered. The ponies were transformed: they were tall and beautiful, long-legged, graceful, larger than before. Fluttershy's wings were enormous, and were lovely, while Pinkie had the start of wings herself, just tufts for now upon her sides. They stood before her; glancing back and forth at them, she simply said, “You've grown.”

“Yes,” said Fluttershy, quiet strength within her voice. “Our Elements of Harmony have... enhanced, I suppose. They're stronger than before.”

“And we're ready to kick that big meanie Reiziger's butt!” said Pinkie, bouncing up and down.

Celestia sighed, full of peace. “I... you girls have done it.” She smiled. “I am extremely proud of you.”

“We're happy you- eep!” squeaked Fluttershy, for then Celestia drew both of them into a tight embrace. Pinkie smiled hugely and returned the hug; with a gentle sigh, Fluttershy did likewise. “I'm just so happy we may be able to stop Reiziger.”

“You will of course need your four friends,” said Celestia. “However, I think they may be coming along in their own time.”

“Oh!” said Fluttershy. She pulled out of Celestia's front leg. “Princess Celestia, we brought somepony back who needs help!”


Trixie slept with fitful breathing in the palace's sick houses. She was swaddled in a linen sheet, and she was soaking it with sweat. Nurse ponies attended to her, changing out the cold compress upon her head, keeping magic fans trained on her. Even as everypony watched on, she stirred and thrashed within her bed. Her sharp teeth gnashed, and her horn flared a rotten black.

“My word,” whispered Celestia.

“I have never seen any corruption like this,” said Wizenbach, flipping rapidly through charts and papers. “As bad as you were, Pinkie Pie, this is far worse. It has been both physical and mental.”

“Mental?” Fluttershy asked.

“Yes. I've been probing her mind with my psychological spells. Her mind has become accustomed, even dependent, on having another mind alongside it. It's like... it's like when a pony gains too much weight too fast, their skin becomes permanently stretched; their body warps and bloats until it is changed beyond repair. Reiziger's presence in her mind has done that to it. He became like a parasite, like a physical addiction. She needs him in there- that's what he's done to her. Without him in her head, her mind just... doesn't work.”

“Poor Trixie!” shouted Pinkie.

“And that's to say nothing of what he did to her body- I mean, she's a meat-eater now.” Wizenbach shuddered. “All these things... they're horrible. They were always theorized in my textbooks at university, hypothesized about- but I never actually thought I'd see them done. I never thought anypony would be so monstrous.”

“You can help her, can't you, Princess Celestia?” asked Fluttershy.

“All respect, your highness, but I think she may very well need you,” said Wizenbach. “I'm not sure anything short of your magic can fix this.”

“Hmm,” hummed Celestia. She walked to Trixie's side. Her horn glimmered a gentle gold, and golden power trickled over Trixie's fitful slumber. “I might be able to help her... but it's no sure thing.” She turned about. “And frankly, I'm not sure it would be wise for me to try. I worry what my power would do to her.”

“But my princess,” said Wizenbach, “if not you, who?”

“Hmm... how about the two ponies before you?”

Fluttershy's eyes widened; Pinkie's eyes bulged. “But princess,” said Fluttershy, “we... we don't have experience, not with this.”

“You have something better: you have the power of Harmony,” said Celestia. “And you two in particular can help her. Fluttershy, you have the Gift of the Healer. You can repair her body and her mind. Pinkie Pie, you have the Gift of the Psychic. You can rebuild her Self, the thing that Reiziger destroyed.”

The two Bearers shared a glance. Fluttershy's eyebrows rose. Pinkie smiled and nodded. “Let's do it!” Pinkie cried.

“I...” Fluttershy looked at Trixie, then looked up at Celestia, who smiled and nodded. Fluttershy took a deep breath, and nodded, turquoise eyes firm with new purpose. “All right. Let's do it.” Wizenbach waved her front leg, and the nurse ponies around the bed pulled back. Fluttershy and Pinkie walked up to Trixie, who was still breathing raggedly. Fluttershy's cutie marks glimmered. “I can feel her,” she said. “I can feel how much she's been hurt. She's in so much pain,” her ears drooped, “it's so awful.”

Her mind is gross and yucky!, thought Pinkie.

Fluttershy's hooves started glowing, first with soft pink light, but as she focused more it turned a blazing, gleaming white.

Fluttershy, is it okay if I keep a teensy-tiny hooftap inside your mind? That way we can be sure we're completely working together!

That's a great idea, Pinkie, thought Fluttershy. Let's make sure we're completely coordinated.

The mental link established, the two ponies moved as one. They came just over Trixie, both of them with shining cutie marks, Fluttershy with flashing hooves, Pinkie with eyes faintly shimmering. They shared a final glance. Then they acted: Fluttershy pressed her white hooves in Trixie's stomach, while Pinkie thought out, AROOGA! AROOGA! Prepare for dive!, and closed her eyes.

The white light pulsed and flickered out of Fluttershy, washing over Trixie in bright waves. Pinkie's face began to twist and scrunch, as though she were chewing something very chewy. Fluttershy maintained serenity, breathing evenly as power emanated from her. Long, long minutes passed in silence, save the breathing of the ponies present. Over time, however, something in the color of the room began to change. It was slow, and not entirely apparent first. Then Wizenbach saw it, and she gaped. Rainbow waves were flashing in he air. Even as she saw them she could feel the power in the room, her horn was itching, her eyes were watering, the ponies round her gasped, Celestia suddenly smiled-

All done!

A final burst of blinding white went flashing through the air. As it dimmed, Fluttershy and Pinkie pulled away. Wizenbach leaned forward. Her eyes bulged, and she smiled with surprised delight. Trixie was... normal. Her coat was once again the lovely blue, her mane and tail were whitish-sky shade. She was breathing quietly, and as her mouth came open they saw normal pony teeth within. She slept quietly for a few more moments; however, her breathing hitched, and in gentle blinks her purple eyes came open. “I... I...”

“How do you feel?” whispered Fluttershy.

“I feel...” she sat bolt upright in bed. “I feel...” tears began to gush out of her eyes, “I feel good!” She immediately started crying.

“Aww, cheer up, Trixie!” said Pinkie.

“No, I'm happy! I'm so, so happy! Thank you, thank you, thank you-” Trixie fell out of bed and got to her knees, “thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you, thank you more than anything! I... I can't talk...” she was trembling, “I can't say... I can't... how can I possibly thank you enough?

Smiling gently, Fluttershy reached down and cupped her cheek. “Don't, Trixie. Don't try to repay us, or anything like that. All this was freely given. Just live, and be happy!”

Trixie surged up and wrapped Fluttershy in a tight hug. Pinkie bounced over, and Trixie wrapped a hoof around her neck as well. She stayed there, hugging them, taking in their presence for a long, long time. At last, she pulled away, tears still in her eyes. “Y-You guys smell really nice now,” she said.

“We do!” said Pinkie. “I think I smell like cotton candy! And Fluttershy smells like trees!”

“Trixie.”

They turned about. Celestia now loomed above them. She was not smiling- she was not angry, but she was not smiling. Trixie inched backward. “P-Princess Celestia...”

“I am glad you are healed, Trixie Lulamoon,” said Celestia. “However, now that you are restored to your proper self, we must talk, you and I. We must speak of your actions as Reiziger's servant.”

“I...” Trixie was unsteady on her hooves, shaking a bit. “I...”

“Princess Celestia, please,” said Fluttershy. “She's just gotten back to normal. Give her a little time.”

“I understand your fears, Fluttershy. I promise I shall not hurt her. But I must speak to her. Now.”

In that instant, something changed about Celestia. Everypony in the room could feel it, though they could not quite describe it. Fluttershy and Pinkie, being elevated in their understanding of the world, had a better notion of it. In that moment, Celestia ceased to be gentle and friendly. The sunlight in the room seemed harsher, brighter, less delightful and more piercing. Though still beautiful, and still so kind, in that instant Celestia seemed terrible and vast.

Trixie trembled- but she did not flinch. “All right,” she said, standing tall but with bowed head, “I'll talk.”


The two went out upon the great balcony attached to the throne room. Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy sat in the throne room. Cadence was with them, as was Shining Armor. They looked out through the open doors. However, they could not really see what transpired. The sunlight had turned blinding, massive brilliance blotting out anything more than silhouettes of Celestia and Trixie. Nor could they hear, for the sunlight seemed to blot out sound, as well. So they watched the silent puppet show, of Trixie standing, meek but firm, before the alabaster alicorn.

“I've heard about this,” said Fluttershy. “I've heard how Princess Celestia... judges ponies. How she calls them to account. I've never seen it, though.”

“She does it pretty often,” said Cadence. “I hear Luna does it too, now that she's back. Ponies don't really... talk about it, I guess. But I do keep my ear to the ground. I do hear stories.”

“Once had it happen to a buddy of mine,” said Shining Armor. “He says he did... something. He won't say exactly what. But one day he was leaving his house in Trottingham and she was there, standing right in his front yard. He couldn't get away.”

“But how does she know?” asked Pinkie.

“And how does she decide which... crimes... she's going to show up for?” asked Fluttershy. “I mean, everypony does little things wrong every day. Even big things happen every day. But she doesn't show up for all of them.”

“I don't know,” said Cadence. “I don't know the answer to either of those questions.” She smiled sheepishly. “It's one of those things about being an alicorn I don't really understand yet.”

The harsh light dimmed all of a sudden. They could clearly see Celestia and Trixie as they walked across the balcony, back into the throne room doors. “Trixie is finished,” said Celestia, smiling just as kindly as she always did. “She has realized the error of her ways, repented of the things she did- and I have forgiven her crimes.”

“I did! I am sorry!” Trixie said. She did not seem sad; if anything, she seemed even happier now. “I feel so much better!”

“I'm so glad to hear that,” said Fluttershy. “We-”

“General Shining Armor!” A mint green pegasus came bursting through the doors. “General Shining- o-oh, my princess!” He bowed low.

“At ease, Captain Spearmint,” said Shining Armor. “I thought I gave explicit instructions not to enter the throne room without permission.”

“I- I know, I know, sir, but the scouts! They've come back, and they bring urgent news!”

“Report,” said Celestia.

“An army- a black army, a massive army! An army miles long and wide! It's coming! Reiziger is coming to the Crystal Empire!”

“No!” cried Cadence.

“How far off are they?” asked Shining Armor.

“Five days, maybe four by the scouts' reckoning. There's a lot of them, but they're making good time.”

Celestia sighed deeply. “So this is it, then,” she whispered. “He is coming to wipe us out.”

“We have to prepare the defenses! Arm up!” said Shining Armor. “We're going to be in for the fight of our lives!”

“I can help!” Six pair of eyes turned round. Trixie flinched backward, but remained confident. “I mean, I can help you prepare! I know everything!”

“Everything?” repeated Fluttershy.

“Yes, about Reiziger's forces- everything! He was...” she shuddered, “he was always in my mind, and my mind was always in his mind. I was even always in his presence when he was making new creatures or refining old ones.” Her eyes bulged. “I know all there is to know about his forces! I know about the different monsters, I know their strengths and their weaknesses. I know the attack plans he likes to use, I know how his formations are constructed- everything, everything!”

“Can you tell us?” asked Shining Armor.

“Yes! Of course!”

Starcatcher, thought Celestia, come, and bring parchment- and a quill. Within moments, the powerful unicorn mage had teleported in, bearing plenty of paper and a quill with fresh ink. “Now, Trixie,” said Celestia, “tell us all you know.”

“I... okay,” she said. She swallowed. “I... I'll try to remember everything.”

I can help you remember things, said Pinkie- but then she flinched, and smiled. “I mean, if you even want anypony in your mind after... everything.”

“No, Pinkie, that's great,” said Trixie. “I... I don't mind you being in my head. You feel nice.” She glanced aside. “Not like him.”

Great! Then say everything you can! I'll fill in the gaps!

Trixie took a deep breath. “First of all, it's important you know about the balrogs...”