• Published 16th Jul 2014
  • 2,957 Views, 51 Comments

That Which Plagues the Mind - Journey Blue

King Sombra has returned from the shadows, his sights on a new conquest. Twilight Sparkle's efforts to save the Crystal Empire may have gone unnoticed by the masses, but not by Sombra. She has earned his interest. Much to her dismay.

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Chapter 3 - To Love to Loath

Twilight watched the Crystal Express approach, still far off in the distance. It would soon be time. And she felt miserable.


Twilight had been it correspondence with Cadence for some time. Her and Shining Armor’s efforts to resort the Crystal Empire were finally coming to fruition. Yet as the prosperity of the empire grew, so too did their duties. Thus when Twilight, on a calculated whim, invited Cadence to visit Ponyville for the following weekend, she had honestly expected the Crystal Princess to decline. But that hadn't stopped her from clinging on to hope.

And her hope had not been in vain.

After days of hoping, wishing, begging, for a yes, for it to please be a yes, she had finally received the letter bearing Cadence’s royal insignia. And as she took the letter and began to open it, feelings of angst, of worry, of dread, of fear, began to bubble up from the back of her mind. Only to be instantly dispelled.

Cadence could come!

This news had her prancing and flying circles around the library. For the first time in months, Twilight had felt optimistic, and genuinely happy. But keeping her happy state of mind had proven to be hard fought.

Why had Cadence been able to come at all? Hadn't the Princess more pressing obligations to the Crystal Empire than to be spending her time for cordial visits? And wasn't it selfish for Twilight for requesting that time, knowing full well the consequences that would result for Cadence?

Are you even worthy of her time?

Yes. Yes she was. Twilight was indeed worthy Cadence’s time. And she wasn't going to let her doubt sway her in her belief. They were fellow Princesses, and sisters-in-law after all. They had every right to occasionally invest their time in personal affairs.

So then why did Twilight feel so foalish?

Wouldn't this be a good opportunity for two sisters-in-law to bond? Didn't they both wish to spend time together, time when they could relax, time when Equestria wasn't in danger?

But Cadence has duties that you do not. This visit comes at a greater cost to her than you.

It did, didn't it. Cadence had an empire to run, whereas Twilight had but a library. But that was why Twilight had to do her utmost to ensure that the entire visit went perfectly.

And at first, it had.

When Cadence had arrived, escorted by two royal guards, red carpet unrolling before her, regal composure, she had greeted Twilight in a most formal manner. It was only after Twilight had responded in kind, that she heard the Princess chuckle, and realized it was all a farce. Cadence had merely been teasing, and admitted as much. It had been clear that Cadence was in high spirits.

And up to her games.

Of the guards that escorted the Crystal Princess, Twilight had immediately recognized one of them. She had wondered if her slight enamor with the orange pegasus had slipped by Cadence during her last visit to the Crystal Empire. It was now certain that it did not. And Twilight had no doubt in her mind that Cadence had hoof picked Flash Sentry for her personal escort just so that she may have the opportunity to get a better read on Twilight. The fact that Cadence had used this visit so strategically, both shock, and impressed Twilight.

Cadence could be rather ruthless will in came to love.

A quality Twilight found both irritating, and endearing.

And a bit embarrassing. For her at the least. Standing next to Cadence, Twilight felt exposed, vulnerable, knowing that with or without magic, Cadence could read her like a book. And it hadn't helped that Flash had caught her staring at him, he who had then paused briefly, to smile and nod back at her before reboarding the train. Whether or not she managed to stopped herself from blushing mattered little when she was in Cadence’s presence. Cadence would already know.

But all pages have two sides, and Cadence wore her heart on her fetlock. Twilight didn't need magic to tell what her sister-in-law was thinking. Cadence was never one for subterfuge, and her modesty showed. Turning to Cadence, Twilight had caught her with a self-satisfied grin on her face. One that, try as she might, she couldn't hide.

Twilight gave Cadence a look of exasperation, whom responded in kind with a smile of mock innocence.

They couldn't hide anything from each other.

This thought rather pleased Twilight. The bonds that she shared with her sister-in-law hadn't diminish at all, and could only grow stronger with time. Twilight would make certain they did, starting with this weekend.

Cadence had sensed Twilight’s enthusiasm, and smiled as she spoke, “Knowing you, you've made some plans.”

“Boy, have I”, said Twilight, smiling in kind.

It had been at that point, that Twilight, for a time, had finally been able to forget about all the thoughts that had burdened her. All the frustration, the doubt, the guilt, anger, despair, shame, forgotten. Even Sombra.

As she trotted beside Cadence, her conscience light, free of worry, Twilight felt like a filly again. The same filly that Cadence, all those years ago, had spent so many nights with, reading stories by the bedside, building forts out books and pillows, making arts and crafts. The filly that had yet to realized the responsibility of being Celestia’s student, of being a Bearer of Harmony, of being a Princess. No, for a time, a short time really, Twilight was like a filly: happy and carefree.

Together they had spent their first hours that day, exploring Starswirl’s traveling museum, Cadence mirroring every bit of Twilight's enthusiasm and curiosity. Twilight’s adulterated joy and excitement had rubbed off on Cadence, and she was having fun. They both were having fun. If only it could last, but even for a day. But for even a few hours more. But it would seem that fate hadn't seen it fit for the illusion to continue.

Discord had to ruin it.

One moment, she was staring at the candle that had once guided Starswirl on his quest, the next, at the sickly Draconequus. One moment, her little fantasy had been absolute, the next, it lay in shambles. One moment, she had been perfectly happy, the next, perfectly miserable. One moment, her head had been clear, her thought in harmony, the next, they all were in discord and disarray.

He certainly knew how to live up to his name.

First had been the feeling of surprise. Surprise that then transformed to anger. Anger that was suppressed, giving way to contempt. Contempt that, no matter how saturated with loathing, could not stop the growing feeling of lost. The feeling of hurt. The hurt that a pony feels when something special is stolen from right in front of them. And smashed to pieces.

Yet by some cosmic humor, it was not her who had been the victim, but Discord.

Discord who was free of fault. Who was free of shame.

Discord who, by right of his ailment, had saw fit to guilt Twilight and Cadence out of spending time on each other. And, instead, spend it on him. He had seen fit to take advantage of every bit of Twilight’s hospitality, and try every bit of her patience.

Before she realized it, Twilight had gotten roped into playing hoofmaiden for the pitiful Draconequus. Cadence along with her. But to Twilight’s dismay, Cadence had been willing to put up with it.

'It would be fine,' she had said, 'just give what he wants.' she had said. But Twilight knew better. Knew Discord better. Give Discord but an inch, and he would take a mile.

A mile that he would proceed to stretch to the very ends of Equestria. And did.

What should have been quality time spent with Cadence, was now wasted time spent with Discord. And it had been a long flight. A very long, and tiring flight. A flight that hadn't given Twilight much of a chance to talk with Cadence, what with their exhaustion and fatigue. But the flight had given Twilight something. It had given her time to think. Too much time to think. And dwell. Dwell on how, despite her best efforts, everything had gone to ruin. Dwell on how easily she had been manipulated. How readily she had jumped at the chance to cure Discord with an elixir. Only to become his puppet.

See how he has made a mockery of your friendship. Turning bonds into chains. What did you expect? Discord to not be discordant? You thought he was Reformed? Maybe, but Discord will always remain true to himself. He will never truly change.

And she had thought they could be friends.

But it had all worked out in the end hadn't it?

Discord had gotten his just reward. And Cadence had had fun.

Twilight should have been pleased. And, in a way, she was. Her plans had gone awry, but it had worked out for the better. Cadence had gotten what she wanted: some excitement and time away from the Crystal Empire. Discord had gotten what he wanted: proof that Twilight was willing to put up with him for the sake of friendship. And this pleased Twilight.

But she also felt miserable.

Miserable because it had been she who hadn't gotten what she wanted.

She had wanted time to talk to Cadence. Time to truly talk to Cadence. To open up about the thoughts that burdened her conscience. About Sombra. About his offer. And to ask Cadence what she thought. To ask her for help.

But there hadn't been much time. And what time there was, hadn't been right. Had never been right.

And now her time was up.


The train ground to a halt with a piercing sound that compelled Twilight to gnash her teeth.

A minor addition to her already vast frustration. Frustration about how she hadn't resolved any of her problems. Hadn't been able to rid herself of her growing depression. Of her mental turmoil. Of Sombra.

Her time with Cadence had been that chance. Not that it had been a waste though. She had still enjoyed her time with Cadence, and Cadence with her. But it hadn't left Twilight feeling any happier. If anything, it left her feeling selfish. Selfish wanting more. More from her time. More from Cadence. But what more could she ask for? What more could she do –do now– now that the train lay motionless in front of them?

Could all Twilight do now was say goodbye?

There had to be something more. Something more Twilight could say. Say to help dispel her frustration, her worry, her despair. It would be months before Twilight would have another chance to spend time with Cadence. Surely, there was something she could say. Could do. Do to make the wait more bearable.

Yet when the time came to say goodbye, Twilight couldn't say anything.

But, it would seem, she didn't needed to.

Cadence already knew.

Whether by her magic, or by the look in Twilight’s eyes, Cadence was aware that there was something still bothering Twilight. Something she hadn't talked about, something she had wanted to talk about. And as they turned to say farewell, Cadence embraced Twilight.

“I really enjoyed spending my time with you, Twilight. I had a great weekend. Though I know it bothers you that things didn't go quite the way you had hoped. And, I know that something else has still been bothering you. Something that you wish to talk about.” Cadence spoke earnestly. Her affection both obvious, and genuine.

“There is. But now is not the time.” said Twilight with a feeling of regret.

Cadence loosened her embrace so that she could face Twilight. “For another time then.”

“Whenever that will be.” Twilight said sourly, staring down at her hooves.

“Don’t be like that, Twilight. I will always be able to make time for you. And I will always be there when you need me. You know that.” Cadence lifted Twilight’s head as she spoke. "Twilight, I care for you and I love you. And I always will.” –She nuzzled Twilight’s cheek– “I hope that helps.”

It did.

It really really did.

“Thanks Cadence.” Said Twilight, now giving Cadence her own embrace.

As she watched Cadence depart, Twilight was able to smile. No longer feeling miserable. It still hurt to say goodbye, but now it was bearable. She hadn't been able to address the feeling that had been troubling her. But now, if anything, they could no longer prey on her.

Even now, as she watched the Crystal Express disappear into the horizon, Twilight could feel the turmoil in her mind subsiding. And feel Sombra’s influence lessening.

His words were losing their power.

Was he be aware? She was certain he was.

But she was no longer worried. If he decided to speak to her again, she wouldn't be helpless.

You are indeed amusing.

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