• Published 9th Jan 2015
  • 4,812 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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Call of Crystal

Hold Your Color
by Quillery

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

Chapter Fifteen
Call of Crystal

Dash lurched from rest as the train car rocked against its rails. She yawned and stretched, looking around as she rubbed her eyes. Edweena and Yearling were across from her in the chair, engrossed in their own discussion with Aurora and Khroma, who sat beside Dash. Their words echoed like white noise in Dash’s mind, as she continued searching the car.

Ditzy was alone across from them, also trying to sleep. She had her head propped against the window. The window fogged with each breath and her body bobbed with the motions of the train.

Twilight, as Dash eventually found, was seated on the other side of the car, surrounded by books in her seat. Her head jerked to and fro as she jumped from line to line, from book to book as they sat open in front of her.

Dash sighed. Twilight had been doing that since they left Canterlot. Not a moment on the train and she was burying herself in research. Dash knew all too well what this meant. After a year with Twilight, there were plenty of little quirks that Dash picked up on and understood of her friend, but this one was not one she enjoyed tolerating.

Twilight found deep comfort in research. Anytime she was concerned or worried about something, she would study, either to determine if she was right, or if there was anything new she could understand. She would do so for days on end, sometimes forgoing sleep just to keep her conscious mind occupied and not directly face the problem. And the problem they now faced would take plenty of research to understand.

Dash, her mind still weary from rest, found herself drifting back to the previous night. She too had difficulty dealing with the revelation they had discovered, and the scope of the threat they now faced.

She remembered awaking on Celestia’s bedroom floor. Twilight was right beside her, her eyes also fluttering open. Crystal Dream was already standing, watching her carefully as she regained consciousness.

There were more ponies in the room then when Dash went to follow Twilight into her dreams. Her dad, aunt, Edweena, Ms. Yearling and Ditzy had finally caught up with her, and were waiting patiently beside Celestia’s bed, where they shared what they knew with Luna.

Crystal Dream raised her hoof, signaling the others. “They are awake.”

The group by the bed turned their attention to Dash and Twilight. Luna was the first to stand and approach, her expression inquisitive.

“Well, Miss Sparkle? Did you find what you sought?”

Twilight blinked and started trembling. Luna raised an eyebrow when she didn’t answer and turned her attention to Dash. “Were you not successful, Miss Dash?”

Dash gulped and met Luna’s eyes. “N-no, we found what we wanted. B-but, we just can’t believe it…”

Luna nodded tersely. “I understand your wariness, but there is no room to conceal the truth if we are to understand this mystery. Please, share what you know.”

“It’s…” Twilight tried. “It’s somepony we know.”

Khroma frowned. “A friend of yours?”

Twilight shook her head, her eyes watering. She stifled a sniffle and gulped. “N-not exactly. Somepony we’ve met in the past. She was… a difficult individual, but I know she has a kind heart. I just… don’t understand how this happened.”

Dash placed a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder. They shared a moment, staring into each others eyes as Twilight searched for the strength to continue.

Twilight looked back to the group with a steadying sigh. “It’s Trixie Lulamoon. The traveling entertainer.”

Luna blinked. “The one who discovered the Alicorn Amulet?”

Twilight nodded. “Y-yes, her.”

Luna turned and closed her eyes. “Pride… and jealousy…” she whispered. “Coupled with the power of the amulet on her mind…” She turned back and opened her eyes. “It is no surprise the Nightmare chose her as a host. She would have been irresistible, and easily broken with the presence of the amulet’s influence.”

“She’s not like that!” Twilight shouted. “I know she’s made some mistakes, but she’s always shown hope and determination to do better. I refuse to believe that she’s being controlled by the Nightmare because she’s weak!”

Luna lifted her chin, staring down at Twilight with a level gaze. “I do not mean to besmirch Miss Lulamoon’s spirit, but the facts must be understood. She has fallen, perhaps not willingly, to the Nightmare's influence, and acts as an enemy against us. Steps must be taken to free her, without harming her.” Luna closed her eyes again. “If it is not already too late…”

“What do you mean, ‘too late’?” Twilight demanded.

“The longer one remains enthralled to the Nightmare’s power, the further their own will is suppressed. Too long, and it ceases to be, and the Nightmare will have a permanent home.”

Twilight’s mouth fell open in shock. The tears started flowing freely as her face fell into unbearable sadness.

“That’s not going to happen,” Dash said. “We’ll get Trixie out of there, even if we have to boot the Nightmare across Equestria.” She put a leg around Twilight. “I promise, Twi. We’ll get her back.”

Twilight trembled under her leg and said nothing.

“What else did you see?” Khroma asked. “Was there anything else to determine what they are up to?”

Dash tensed. She found great difficulty in lifting her head to face her father. The look in his eyes was enough to show the concern he felt.

Dash sighed. “Yeah… there is…” She looked at Luna. “Trixie is wearing King Sombra’s horn around her neck.”

Luna’s eyes widened. “King Sombra’s—You cannot be serious?!”

Dash nodded. “I know what I saw. The very same bit that got sliced off by Cadence’s shield thing last fall. All red and glowy and dripping with evil. It was pretty obvious.”

Luna’s head shrugged as she stared at the ground. She looked like her mind was going a million miles a second, crossing multiple stages of disbelief, worry and dread. “This… this is far more serious than Celestia led me to believe. The theft of the Prism is one thing, but to conceive that it would be, or even could be used in such a manner…”

“Princess Luna…” Edweena chimed in. “You cannot possibly mean to suggest—”

“Is it not obvious?!” Luna shouted. A raging wind escaped her mouth, as the ancient speaking pattern of ages past crept back into her voice. “An artifact as powerful as the Celestial Prism, and the last physical manifestation of the King of Shadows, the power of the Nightmare and an indoctrinated host… What other possibility is there that Sombra’s possible return now looms on the horizon!?”

The room was locked in a frozen chill as Luna finished her rant. She stood, wide stanced and her face was set in anger as she panted.

“That… That can’t be all that’s at stake here…” Edweena said. She turned to Khroma and Aurora. “You know most about the Prism, is that even possible?”

Khroma’s expression turned grim. “It is not… impossible.”

Edweena’s mouth opened in shock.

Khroma nodded, keeping his gaze on the gryphon. “The Prism, at its core, is still a crystal focus, capable of channeling untold amounts of magical energy. Its primary function has always been the manifestation of colors and light in the world. The magic surrounding it prevents its task from being halted suddenly, which is why my family’s burden exists. But if it were to remain idle for too long, its stored magic would fade, and would wait for new magic to saturate it. Any magic.”

Khroma turned to Dash. “As soon as my daughter’s colors fade away completely, anyone could do anything with the Prism. And we could do nothing to stop it…”

Dash wasn’t sure what to say, what to think, what to feel. She just stood still, staring in disbelief at her father. Twilight was still trembling beside her, crying. If anything, she was getting worse as the revelations continued, and the future looked bleaker with each minute.

Ms. Yearling cleared her throat and stepped forward. “Well then. I’m sure this lot has ‘ad plenty o’ bad news to last a life time. So how’s about we move on from the doom an’ gloom and start commin’ up wit a solution?”

“Like what?” Aurora snapped. “What in Equus do we know that actually helps us. We know our enemies, but nothing of where they are going next, or when they wish to move forward with their plans.”

Yearling, to everyone's surprise, managed a wink, and smirked deeply. “Now that, dearie, is where you could use a bit o’ catchin’ up.”

Aurora’s fur bristled as he fumed at Yearling. “Why you insufferable Buckingham busybody! You stand here and toss insults like you think you understand the gravity of the situation.”

Yearling shrugged. “I ain’t tossin’ nottin’ my dear. I threw it right in that pretty face o’ yours.”

Aurora snapped her wings open and stomped towards Yearling, her face set in fury.

“Auntie, stop!” Dash said. “Just don’t punch anything in the face for five seconds and we might learn something!”

Aurora stopped at Dash’s request. She glanced at her niece, eyes narrowed before she turned back to Yearling. She let out a snort, and lowered her wings. “Well? I am waiting.”

Yearling shot a hoofs-up at Dash. “Thanks, luv. Now, as I was sayin’. I got a pretty good idea where we can dig up a few things.”

“Not literally, I hope,” Edweena said.

Yearling guffawed. “Oh heavens no. An excavation would take way too much soddin’ time. I meant just looking up some history on big ol’ Sombra and Nightmare.”

“Wh-where?” Twilight sputtered. She wiped her eyes and choked back further tears as she stared Yearling down. “There is almost no history in any books today on Sombra’s downfall or the Nightmare. Only legends and myths! Princess Celestia and Luna are the only ones to have ever met these individuals for any period of time, and even that isn’t any help.”

Twilight blinked as the words left her mouth and she suddenly looked at Luna. “U-um. I didn’t mean…”

Luna waggled her hoof dismissively. “I understand what you meant, Miss Sparkle. And you are correct. I know much of Sombra’s history, but not much of his new powers before he was banished. Nor the origin of the Nightmare.” Her gaze drifted to Yearling. “But clearly, you know something.”

Yearling flashed a smile. “That I do. The real question is, what do King Sombra, the Nightmare, an’ one thousand years ‘ave in common?”

A moment of silence drifted through the room. Everypony exchanged glances. They blinked each in turn as realisation slowly crept in and they slowly looked back to Yearling.

“You don’t mean…” Edweena said.

“Yep!” Yearling said. “We’re off to the Crystal Empire!”

And that was it. No lengthy goodbyes, no fanfare. In under a few minutes, a private train en route directly to the Crystal Empire was personally requested by Princess Luna, with Dash and company on board. Dash tried to get some sleep, but the jostling of the train and the tension on her nerves prevented any useful amount of rest.

Which led to the her current moment. Everypony was still engrossed in their discussion of what Yearling knew of the old archives in the Crystal Empire Library, and where anything of note on the Nightmare, Sombra, or anything in between might lay. Everypony but Twilight.

Dash slipped away from the group and trotted over to Twilight’s seat. If she had been aware of Dash’s approach, she made no effort to show it. Her nose was buried in a book, as she usually was, but there was a far more grim look of determination in her eyes. They flicked from page to page, not stopping for a second as Twilight digested several decades of history and information in minutes.

Twilight hadn’t tried to get any sleep as Dash had, as far as Dash could tell anyway. Her mane was slowly deteriorating into a frazzled mess. Her eyes were turning red, and the skin on her face was tingeing black from hours of missed rest.

“Twi?” Dash said quietly.

“Mmm…” Twilight mumbled in reply.

“Twi. Are you okay? You’ve been cramming for hours.”

“Mmfine… reading…”

Dash frowned. “Twi, please. Talk to me.”

At this point, Twilight stopped replying altogether, and it set Dash’s nerves even further on edge.

“Twilight. We need to talk about what happened in that dream.”

“Not now…” Twilight said. She spoke like she was talking to no pony at all, just a faceless presence that lingered nearby.

Dash huffed as the last straw was crossed. She took the book in Twilight’s possession and pulled it down from her eyes, slamming it shut.

Twilight blinked in surprise and frowned. “Rainbow Dash! I was reading that! It could have something important on the Nightmare or Sombra!”

Dash shook her head. “No, Twi. You aren’t finding anything useful in this book,” she said, tapping the cover.

“And why is that?” Twilight said, trying to pull the book from Dash’s grasp.

“Because you’ve been reading the same page over and over for ten minutes now. You do that all the time when you’re worried and reading at the same time.”

“No I wasn’t! I was just trying not to miss anything important!”

“Twi, stop lying to me. After a year of dating, you pick up little things about the one you spend time with. There’s a lot of little things you do when something’s bothering you, and I’ve taken the time to notice.” Dash pushed the book away, and cleared a small section next to Twilight so she could sit down. “Now please. Just take a breather and talk to me. You’re starting to freak me out.”

Twilight shuffled away. “I… I really would rather not…”

“Twi…” Dash put a hoof on Twilight, who winced at the touch. Dash blinked, and pulled the hoof away. “Twi?”

“Its just… that dream…” Twilight closed her eyes and sighed. “More like nightmare.” She looked up and away, her eyes searching through memory. “I felt like I relived every important moment of our lives together. It was… strange, almost nostaligic, really. And so… calming.” Twilight sniffed and rubbed her eyes. “I don’t think my mind was ever so calm after reliving the happier moments of us being together, even some of the less… favorable days.”

Dash smirked. “Like the time I brought you roses and it turned out you were allergic?”

Twilight giggled. “My face almost looked like a big purple balloon!” She sighed after she stopped laughing, as her expression turned sombre. “Its just… the last one… the last dream. It wasn’t something that happened, it was something that was going to happen. I could feel it… You were lying there, cold, empty, I couldn’t tell if you were living or…” She hesitated and sucked in a sharp breath. “... or worse.”

She choked on her words as tears started beading at her eyes. “I couldn’t take it, seeing you like that. The Nightmare standing over your body, like some great prize she had won, laughing at me.”

Dash gasped when Twilight turned to her, seeing the haunted look in her eyes.

“I couldn’t protect you. I couldn’t save you. I couldn’t even fight for you. I just lost. I lost everything. The Prism. The Princess.” Twilight grabbed Dash and squeezed tight. “I lost you. And I couldn’t take it.”

Dash squeezed back. “Twi, you know you don’t have to protect me. I can look after myself.”

“But you don’t know that! Look at what’s happened in the past few days: Someone tried to blow up your house, the Nightmare almost killed Celestia and us, half of Canterlot might have been destroyed because of her minions, and now Trixie is wrapped around her hooves. What if it was one our friends she had instead? What if it was Rarity, or Pinkie Pie, or Applejack? She would just use them against us. How could we possibly fight against our own friends?!”

Twilight was panting through tears and trembling anger as she completed her rant. Dash sat, stunned.

“Twilight… You can’t think like this. We’ve been through rough spots before. We’ve beaten the Nightmare before. We beat Sombra before. We beat everything the world has thrown at us, and we can do it again. I don’t know what we’re up against, but—”

“I thought you died!” Twilight screamed.

Dash froze. The car went still as the conversation just a few seats away quickly ended. Everypony turned their heads towards Dash and Twilight, just as the latter broke down and began to sob.

“Twi…” Dash said, putting her hoof around Twilight.

Twilight’s voice was shaking as she fought back more tears. “Back at your house… My head felt like it was splitting open from the blast. Everything was a blurry mess. It was raining… and all I remember after the first hit was falling. I hit the ground really hard and nearly rolled down the hill. You landed right beside me, but you weren’t moving. You weren’t breathing. I was so scared, I didn’t know what to do! You had burns all over. I tried C.P.R, but I couldn’t stop my hooves from shaking to do it properly. I thought I was going to lose you and I couldn’t do anything to save you. I felt helpless. Your dad finally showed up and brought you back… and I did nothing.”

Twilight lifted her head and peered into Dash’s eyes. “I know you say you can protect yourself, but where does that leave me? We’re suppose to share together in each others lives, to protect and nurture each other. How do you think it makes me feel when I can’t even do something as simple as resuscitating you?”


“No! I’m not finished!” Twilight breathed deeply as she brushed more tears from her eyes. “Do you know how many times you’ve been in the hospital since we’ve been dating?”

Dash blinked. “Uh…

“Six! Not including this time. Do you know how worried I get when you keep doing your stunts and ending up there? I always support you, and I always know you’ll be fine, but when it actually happens… I feel like a little piece of me is hurt with you.”

“C’mon, Twi. I only get a little banged up, its never anything—”

“Its always serious. Wounds like that never fully heal. There’s always a scar, always a bruise. The more you hurt yourself, the more likely that you won’t come back—and I can’t take that. This year has shown me so much on how important it is to love, Dash, and I have you to thank you for that, but now that I have you, I can’t bear the thought of losing you either, just like when you first told me last year.”

“Twi!” Dash said sternly. “You won’t lose me. You need to stop thinking like this.”

Twilight shook her head. “No, I won’t lose you. I’m going to do everything I can to keep you safe, even if it means distancing myself until I solve this.

Dash frowned. “T-twi? What do you mean?”

“I’m going to figure out how to beat this, Dash. I don’t care how long it takes, or what I have to do, but I’m going to do it, even if it means I can’t be around you. I know you mean well, but being overprotective now is only going to slow me down.”

“Twi,” Dash said in exasperation. “C’mon, d-don’t say things like that. We can do this together, we always have. You don’t need to push me away to protect me.”

“No, I don’t, but its the best way that I can see right now. The Nightmare wants you, Dash. Us keeping our distance keeps us both safer.”

“Twilight, you aren’t making sense—”

“I’ve made,” Twilight intoned, putting her hoof down, “my decision. Please, Dash. Just give me some space, and we’ll get through this better in the long run.”

Twilight used her magic to retrieve the book Dash had taken from her and opened it back to her previous page. Dash sat there in silence, as Twilight completely shut her out and returned to her research without a single hesitation.

Dash wanted to say no. She wanted to resist, and tell Twilight she was acting like an idiot, but should couldn’t. Twilight was right. There was more danger in them being too close. As much as it pained Dash, she got up and moved back to her seat.

She plopped down next to Ditzy and stared forward in a daze. She felt a hoof on her back and turned. For the first time in what felt like a long while, she saw concern in Ditzy’s eyes. It felt like seeing an old friend, the Ditzy she knew and remembered, always cheerful and full of joy looking back at her like a caring friend.

“You okay?” Ditzy said.

“Yeah…” Dash said. She gulped and sighed, hanging her head. “No…”

Ditzy blinked. “She didn’t...y’know…” She shrugged her head in Twilight’s direction. “Did she?”

Dash shook her head. “No, we didn’t break up.” She lifted a hoof to her chest. All she could feel was the pain and ache deep within her heart, which only worsened as she reminded herself of the rift that now lay between her and Twilight. “But it sure hurts like it.”

Author's Note:

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