• Published 9th Jan 2015
  • 4,789 Views, 342 Comments

Hold Your Color - Quillery

The fate of colors in Equestria are in Dash's hooves as an ancient artifact tied to her family is stolen. Old enemies are rising from the darkness, vying for her life, and time is running out.

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Eternal Twilight of the Spotless Mind

Hold Your Color
by Quillery

Suggestions, Editing and Pre-Reading by :
Siyray, Willsons, Izraill Z, BabySkittleMonster, Legion222, Dreamshadow, edensbane, amacita

Chapter Fourteen
Eternal Twilight of the Spotless Mind

Surfing through a whirpool was as every bit as disorienting as Dash expected. She felt every twist and bend of the current as it raced through the unknown spaces in between Twilight’s mind. Her body was wrenched side to side, but felt no pain, only a persistent tug that guided her to her destination.

A light twinkled in the distance as Dash struggled to see where she was going. The waters carried directly towards it and it grew brighter the closer she got. There was a rush of air that flowed over Dash’s body as she was ejected suddenly from the current and came to a rolling stop when she landed on solid ground.

Dash tried to cough up water, but her lungs were dry. Her eyes snapped open. She was sitting on a dirt path, completely devoid of water.

She groaned as she worked to get to her hooves. “Wow. What a ride…”

She turned to Crystal Dream, whom she expected to be right behind her. “Was that really—”

Dash was alone on the path. A quick glance around confirmed this. There was no sign of Crystal Dream anywhere, or Twilight for that matter.

“Hey!” Dash shouted. “What gives! You said you’d take me to Twilight!”

Dash grunted when no reply came, only a bristling of wind on the grass. She snorted angrily and looked around, trying to figure out where she was.

The path climbed a small hill not far away. Dash shrugged and plodded up the road. The area seemed familiar, but there was something strange that put Dash on edge. She wasn’t certain if it was the taste of the wind, or the smell of the air, but she could have sworn she had stood on this ground before, not long ago.

Over the crest of the hill, Ponyville lay below. Dash frowned and scratched her head. “Am I still dreaming, or am I actually home?” she wondered.

A minute later she was approaching the edge of the village. It had to have been nearing noon, as everypony was out and about in the village square. The market was in full swing, school foals were playing in the schoolhouse yard and the smells of lunch foods being prepared drifted from every direction.

No pony paid Dash any special mind as she wandered through in her confused daze. Everything screamed at her that this was a perfectly normal Ponyville, but she could just feel something wrong in the air around her. It was almost as if something was missing.

A flash of color above her stole her attention. A rainbow roared across the sky, darting from cloud to cloud, popping each as it passed. She heard a familiar laugh cackle from above as each ball of fluff met a watery end.

Dash blinked as she watched the scene above, as her own memories started to pull at her mind. “Is that…”

The streak of colors dipped behind a building, followed by a crash and shouting. Dash chased after it around the corner. She dug her hooves into the dirt to a speedy halt as soon as she came to the other side. She stood still, mouth hanging open, as she watched Twilight, lying in a puddle of mud, trying to untangle herself from…

“Is that… me?”

Dash couldn’t believe her eyes. There in front of her was Twilight Sparkle and herself, standing in a mud puddle. They were too far for Dash to hear what they were saying, but she recalled everything perfectly.

“Uh.. ‘scuse me?” Dash said, chuckling.

Twilight looked at her with a glare.

Dash laughed again. “Let me help you.” She took the to the sky, and quickly returned with a nearby raincloud. After a few quick stomps, the cloud let out its watery contents, and doused Twilight with water.

Dash looked down from the cloud to examine her efforts, and broke out laughing at the sight of the now clean, but soaking wet, Twilight Sparkle.

“Oops, I guess I overdid it. Um, uh, how bout this?”

Off into the sky again, Dash began to pull tight turns around Twilight. In the blink of an eye, a small tornado swirled around her. Once it was complete. Dash slowed to a hover.

“My very own patented, Rain-blow-dry!” She lowered herself to the ground, chin high.

When she bothered to open her eyes again, she was met with a glaring, tangle-maned Twilight. She couldn’t contain herself anymore, and fell to the ground, rolling with laughter.

Twilight sighed. “Let me guess: you’re Rainbow Dash?”

Dash, the real Dash ducked behind her hiding place, her mind racing. “... the one and only,” she whispered. “I can’t believe it. The day we met. Was I really that much of a dork in front of her?” She slapped a hoof to her face. “Ugh, of course Twi would have a perfect memory of this…”

“Her mind has drifted to you often as of late,” Crystal Dream said.

Dash yelped and fell backwards. She slapped her head to get her eyes to stop pulling loops and glared up at Crystal Dream. “Jeez, lady. Give a mare some warning before you do that!”

Crystal Dream chuckled. “And I thought Rainbow Dash was a fearless bulwark.”

Dash frowned. “I‘m not a bull, and I’m way too fast to be a lark, so why don’t you can it with the fancy words and tell me what I’m doing here?”

Crystal Dream blinked and started shaking her head. She cast a glance in the direction of the echoes of Dash and Twilight’s first encounter. “Because, this is as close to Twilight I can bring you myself. You will have to manually travel from this memory to the others if you wish to find her.”

“But… why this memory? It was so long ago.”

“Because, it appears Twilight has repurposed her priorities as of late. Her waking thoughts, her resting thoughts, and even her dreams all seem to be of you.”

Dash shrugged. “So? We’ve been in a relationship for a year. I think about her all the time too, it's nothing special.”

“Ah, but there is something else at play here. In my experience as Princess Luna’s esper, I have found predictable occurrences, and signs of mental strain. This… fixation may seem normal from the outside, but in here, it borders on obsession.”

Crystal Dream flicked her hoof. Ponyville faded into white as a gust of air blew over Dash. Images flew by, as if moving pictures of Dash’s life from the time she met Twilight to the present.

“When one dwells this much on a single pony, even on events of the past, they are worrying of the importance on their lives.” She turned to Dash. “Twilight has concerns, strong concerns for your safety. She feels as if you will not be there in her future, and is fixated on the memories of the good to compensate for that possible loss.”

Dash felt her chest burn and twist. “Twi’s… scared of losing me?”

Crystal Dream nodded grimly. “These past few days have heralded dark events, Rainbow Dash. Even you cannot deny them.”

“But she thinks I’m not gonna make it? That’s insane!”

Crystal Dream’s eyes narrowed. “Some have said love itself is insane. That the mind, lost in love, does what it would never rationally do otherwise for love’s sake. Twilight said it herself that love was a… mystery to her. It was you that opened that path to her. You both embraced it together, and how found greater happiness with it, but unbeknownst, you have also accepted the far greater risks it can pose on you both.”

Against the endless white of the dream, a glowing light that matched Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark appeared. A second light appeared, this time of Twilight’s cutie mark. They were joined together by a single thread of light.

Crystal Dream waved her hoof and the thread was severed. The two cutie marks separated and burned into the blinding white surrounding them. “Just as you have found each other and bound yourselves to the the throes of love, so have you placed yourself on the precipice of oblivion. Should the thread be severed, you will both be lost, alone and separated. That is the risk love places on our hearts, Rainbow Dash. Twilight is just now seeing the fragility of it and it is consuming her.”

The veil surrounding them faded to black as it parted aside. Dash felt water spattering at her coat, and thunder rumbling in the distance. She stood on a cobblestone road, as a harsh wind drifted past, carrying along the drizzling rain.

She heard galloping hooves approaching her. She turned towards them, and saw Twilight running towards her. Dash smiled as she ran towards Twilight, her heart soaring. “There you are!”

A cold wind rushed through Dash as Twilight ran right through her. She turned, just another ghost in Twilight’s memories as she tried to understand what Crystal Dream was trying to show her.

Twilight ducked into a small alley, hiding in the shadows. She was breathing heavily as she pressed herself against the brick wall. Dash frowned as she looked around at the state of the buildings and how familiar they were.

“This… this is Stalliongrad… We’re in St. Poniesburg when…” Dash clutched her chest as the memory came back to her. Tears formed at her eyes. “When she ran…”

A voice shouted from above. “Twilight! Please stop running! I only want to talk!”

Dash looked up and saw herself hovering in the sky. The echo of her was flush with panic as she drifted back and forth, peering down through the buildings. She slowly descended towards the building, holding something close to her chest.

Dash looked down around her neck, to the same amulet her echo held, trying to find Twilight. The echo of Twilight was still holding herself to the shadows, hiding. She stared forward, her eyes almost vacant in confusion and worry.

The echo of Dash called out again. “Twilight… I just want to talk. Please talk to me. I can explain. Just… give me a chance. I know you can hear me. I know you’re there.”

The echo of Twilight gave a start, as she looked down to the necklace she too wore. She looked around, searching in desperation for an escape as the echo of Dash flew closer. She froze and squeezed the necklace between her hooves. With a quick tug, she pulled it from her neck and let it drop to the ground. She lifted her hoof.

Dash rushed forward, hoof outstretched. “No! Don’t!”

The phantom Twilight brought her hoof down, ignorant to Dash’s protests. The amulet shattered under her hooves, and the memory itself began to split and break like glass all around her. Dash began to fall into nothing, as the last images of Twilight vanishing in a flash of violet filled her eyes.

She landed on something firm, and opened her eyes to Crystal Dream once again, floating in a twilight glow. Dash groaned as she regained her balance on the shapeless ground she stood on.

“What the hay was the point of that!?” Dash shouted. “That was the last memory either of us needed to relive.”

Crystal Dream pursed her hooves together. “But it was the first real step towards your bond. As far as I am concerned, it is the most important memory to show. Even in the beginning, Twilight’s grasp of what it meant to love and be loved was weak, shapeless, much like the place we stand. In the year since, you have both seen that understanding grow. Unfortunately, for Twilight, she is one who must understand all aspects of something influential in her life. It is her nature.”

Crystal Dream began to float away. She beckoned Dash with a wave of her hoof. “Come, we are almost there.”

Dash followed, trudging further into the strange landscape that Crystal Dream escorted her through. Her mind felt weary from all the games the esper was playing on her. She felt no closer to an real understanding. She looked up, intent on more questions.

She frowned. Once again, Crystal Dream had vanished without a trace, leaving Dash in darkness. She looked around, trying to figure out what memory of Twilight’s she was in now.

A faint violet glow shimmered in the distance that drew Dash’s attention. She crept towards it. There was a change in the air the closer she got. It felt like something pounded heavily against the earth and sent great tremors in every direction. Dust and sparkling particles drifted through the air, as the light blazed brighter.

The light was a large sphere that shone like the sun. Dark malevolent energy like the night sky smashed against it, sending out sparks that crackled through the air. The wind raged with each strike and nearly knocked Dash from her hooves.

When Dash got close enough, she gasped. Twilight was the one in the sphere, channeling her magic into the barrier with all her might. The Nightmare; there could be no other thing it could be, opposed Twilight in this endless void. Their powers were matched, each of them gritting their teeth and straining everything into ending the other.

“I…” Twilight seethed. “Won’t. Let. You. Have. Her!”

The Nightmare laughed. “She is already mine, little princess!”

Dash’s heart skipped. In between Twilight and the Nightmare, was a grey form, lying still. Despite the lack of color, the cutie mark was the only proof she needed to see that the two powers she was witnessing were fighting over her. What was left of her.

“Do you see now, Miss Dash?” Crystal Dream said.

Dash remained calm as the question came. She turned, unphased by Crystal Dream’s sudden appearance. “See what? My marefriend giving her all to save me? Scared out her wits probably? And me? Not able to save her?” She grabbed Crystal Dream and glared at her. “What are you trying to pull here? Are you enjoying putting us through this? Is this a game to you?”

Crystal Dream blinked. “Games are meant to be won, Miss Dash. I am merely showing you what needs to be seen. The rest is up to you.”

Dash didn’t even blink as Crystal Dream faded away before her eyes. She turned back to Twilight. The Nightmare was growing larger. The darkness whirled around her as her magic glowed brighter against Twilight’s shield. Sweat poured from Twilight’s forehead as she was slowly pushed back.

The air around Twilight’s shield crackled with energy. Dash could see splinters forming in the magic, and she sprang into action. It didn’t matter if it was a dream or not, she wasn’t going to stand around and do nothing to protect the one she cared about most. Twilight was strong, but they were stronger together.

She ran as fast as her legs could take her. There was an audible crunch in the air, as Twilight’s shield began to fail. Tears were falling from Twilight’s eyes, as she cast a panicked glance in the other Dash’s direction. Her knees started to give out as she wobbled on her legs.

Dash could hear Twilight beginning to cry, not just out of sadness, but of desperation, of failure, and it tore Dash to pieces on the inside.

The shield shattered, filling the air with an echoing explosion of glass. The shards of Twilight’s broken magic struck the ground before evaporating before her eyes as she collapsed to the ground. She held her head down as her tears fell freely to the ground.

The Nightmare halted a moment, laughing in victory as she prepared one final spell. The air around began to chill, as all of the light drained from Twilight’s body.

The Nightmare lowered her head, and let the spell loose. Twilight didn’t try to move, acceptant in her fate.

A fate that Dash would not allow. She dove with all her speed towards Twilight. A surge of surprise shot through her mind when she actually collided with the unicorn, and the two toppled out of the Nightmare’s path. They rolled over each other, safe from the final strike.

Dash wheezed as she regained her balance and found herself staring into Twilight’s eyes. She was staring straight back.

“D-dash? Is that really you?”

Dash took Twilight’s hoof and placed it on her cheek. “I feel real, don’t I? I told you I’d always be there for you.”

Twilight’s face quivered as she stood on the edge of another breakdown. Tears welled at her eyes, but Dash did not allow them to last for long. She wiped them away and placed a hoof on Twilight’s chin. “Now buck up, babe. We gotta a big shadowy jerk to put down.”

Twilight nodded shakily as she struggled to get back to her hooves. Dash helped her up as best she could, but it became quickly clear that the Nightmare was not going to give them much more time.

The air continued to crackle with dark magic and rage as the Nightmare screamed. Her magic began to swirl from everywhere, bringing savage winds to bear against Dash and Twilight.

They stood their ground as the next spell came to life. They shared a glance, and nodded to each other, affirming their bond, their love, and that nothing would break it, not even in dreams. They faced the Nightmare, hoof in hoof, waiting.

The dark sphere of magic soared towards them. Dash refused to blink, but she felt Twilight trembling against her. She squeezed Twilight’s hoof and cast one more affirming glance. For that moment, Twilight went still, and breathed a single, calm sigh.

The magic never came. When they looked again, the nightmare had stopped moving. She stood above them, near a stone ceiling in a small, narrow chamber. A fountain of light poured from nearby. The light it cast flowed down onto Princess Celestia, accompanied by Ditzy Doo, frozen in time.

“Twi?” Dash asked. “What is this?”

Twilight walked away from the light, towards the Nightmare’s silhouette. “This is the moment before the Nightmare shattered the Reshef mirror and cut Celestia off from the sunlight. I know I saw something in the shadow when it exploded.” She turned back to Dash. “This was the memory I was trying to find.”

The ticking of a clock rang in Dash’s mind. Before her eyes, seconds began to crawl past like dull hours. The extended tendril of the Nightmare’s magic rose up from her form towards the mirror. It struck soundly, and filled the chamber with a blinding light.

Dash shielded her eyes as the nova held through the passage of time. She stumbled towards Twilight, as she was peering up at the Nightmare’s shadow.

The light cut through the dark miasma that enveloped her body. Underneath was the form of a regular pony, clothed in long robes and a hood. A strange pendant hung from her neck, it was a red thorn that shimmered with dark magic, but Dash blinked when she recognized it.

“That’s… that’s King Sombra’s horn, isn’t it Twi?”

Twilight didn’t answer. She was looking directly at the Nightmare’s face, her eyes wide. Twilight’s mouth opened and closed as if trying to speak, but the words refused to come.

Dash peered through the light, trying to see the face more clearly. It was certainly a unicorn, she knew that from her encounter in the cave. Her coat was a lightish blue, almost indistinguishable from the dark shadows that covered her. Her mane was a shimmering blue and silver, tainted by streaks of black. It was her eyes, though, that Dash finally lost herself in.

Her eyes were like a blanket of the night sky, speckled with stars and endless galaxies. They all glowed with a deep purple, shimmering with magic.

“Oh,” Twilight said, once again on the verge of tears. “Trixie… what have you done?”

Author's Note:

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