• Published 26th Oct 2014
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My Twilight Facade - axelsempai



Suddenly, I'm Twilight Sparkle and I don't want to be here.

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Friendship is Obligatory: Part 2

I left Spike upstairs on the big bed, letting him rest. The poor kid was delirious, babbling about Nightmare Moon. I was scared too, but I was in no position to be laying down on the job. I needed to find a way to stop Nightmare Moon, and I didn't have much time.

Having noticed earlier that the library was arranged alphabetically and not using some arcane decimal system, the search for the book I needed was pretty short. The Elements of Harmony: A Reference Guide. I plopped the book onto a table and started reading.

I would have liked reading to completion, but the door slammed open with a rainbow blur speeding up to me. Rainbow Dash stopped just short of my face, glaring at me. "What's your deal?" She demanded. "First you're being all brave, then you just run off like a coward!"

"In case you didn't notice, Rainbow, Nightmare Moon is far too strong for anyone to handle alone. This was a tactical withdrawal."

"Tactical, my flank!" Rainbow accused, waving her hoof around.

I opened my mouth to respond, but I was interrupted by Applejack, who was entering the room with the others. "Settle down there, Rainbow. Nopony's blamin' her for runnin' off." She turned to me with a frown that demanded answers. "But you know something we don't, don't ya Twilight?"

The others stood side by side, and all stared at me, expecting an answer. I nodded, conceding their right to know. "Right. Nightmare Moon is an angry goddess who was imprisoned on the moon for a thousand years. Now that she's free, she will bring eternal night, which will inevitably kill all life on the planet. I need to stop her somehow, but the only way I can figure to do it, is to find the artifacts that beat her last time: The Elements of Harmony."

"So you know where they are?" Asked Rarity.

I shook my head. "Not really. The last known location of the Elements was the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters." I read a little bit more, noting that the Elements were based on a few core values. Kindness, Laughter, Honesty, Generosity, and Loyalty. There were six, but only five were known.

Hm, how about that. I found it awfully coincidental that there were six Elements, and six of us. Thinking hard about it, things were making a little sense, in a conspiratory way. Each of these girls was a known factor in this world, but I was the only one who was a mystery, just like that elusive Element. Was it fate that we correspond to these artifacts?

Applejack's voice brought me out of my considerations of numerology. "Uh, Twi? You all right, sugarcube?"

I realized that I was staring at everyone in contemplation. I lightly shook my head. "Yeah, I'm fine. Anyway, the castle is in the middle of the Everfree Forest. I'm sure we can get in there and get out before Nightmare figures us out, no problem."

Fluttershy, similar to everyone else, started shaking. "D-did you say the Everfree F-forest?"

"Yeah. Is that bad?"

"Bad?" Scoffed Rarity. "It's terrible! The Everfree Forest is the most dangerous place in Equestria!"

"Pfft! I'm not scared!" Rainbow boasted. She shifted uneasily in place.

"Good, because we need to get going pretty soon. Anyone want to come with me?" I offered. I figured I would need some help. These girls were most likely connected to this all, somehow, and I doubted I could do this alone. I just hoped that I wasn't finding paranoid connections where there were none.

"Heck yeah! I'm not letting some obnoxious moon pony win!"

"Ah'm with with ya, sugarcube."

"I'm coming, too. We must stick together, after all."

"I'll follow you, if you don't mind..."

Pinkie was jumping around with excitement. "Woohoo! We're an adventuring party!" She stopped in place. "Whoa. I could throw an Adventure Party!"

I smiled confidently. "Then I'm glad to have you all along. With all six of us, I'm sure we'll succeed."
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The moon was shining brightly overhead, bright enough that one didn't need an extra light source to see. Darkness was hardly an issue, which was great, because we were going into a "spooky" forest.

Spooky was a relative term, because I found it difficult to be terrified of this particular shade of green. Big deal, the trees look like they're crying leaves. This would only be scary by the standards of a children's cartoon. Naturally, everyone I was walking with was paranoid as all hell, eyes shifting in every direction as if some kind of monster was going to assault us from the surrounding foliage. Except for Pinkie, who was bouncing alongside us without a care. It was weird how the prospect of adventure excited her to the point that she didn't care about danger.

No, this forest wasn't scary; it was annoying. It annoyed me in so many ways. If it's so dangerous in here, why was there a clear dirt path leading further within? Why do vines have to cross the path from overhead, always just low enough to get in your hair (No, I'm not letting my new female body get to my head)? Why do I keep thinking I see a dark blue cloud flying overhead when clearly it was a cloudless night? This place made no sense!

Despite everything that bothered me about the forest, I kept on a neutral expression. Walking in silence was clearly doing us no good, so it fell on me to start some conversation. "So, have any of you been in here, before?"

"Heavens, no! Just look at it, it's dreadful!" Rarity complained.

"Yeah, I noticed that this place was a crap-heap."

Rarity winced at me. "Is there a need for such language?"

I sighed. "Sorry, I'm just surprised none of you have ever been here before. I lived near a cave back home, and kids would always wander off in there. They had to block it off, after a while."

Applejack raised an eyebrow at me. "You had caves in Fillydelphia?"

I stared at Applejack for a moment, keeping my nervousness in check. "If you know where to look." I replied cryptically. While I was born in Philadelphia, I'd rather not have to explain that I moved to another town, the name of which I doubt sounded similar to a town here in Equestria.

Rarity looked at me, confused. "Hold on a moment, I thought you were from Canterlot?"

We stopped near a cliff, none of us paying it much mind. That was because the ponies were all looking at me, expecting me to address the inconsistency. I wondered when Rarity could have possibly heard about where my persona was from, then I recalled that she spoke with Spike back at her house. Ugh, damn lovey-dovey dragon. Why does he have to make things difficult?

"Well, I was born in Fillydelphia, but then we moved." I smiled in a way that I hoped disarmed any further inquiry.

"Y'sure? 'Cause ya don't seem like yer too sure about yer answer." Damn it, Applejack. You had to ask.

I silently hoped that something, anything, would keep these questions from going on for much longer. To my great relief and slight dismay, there was a rock-slide, and we were standing right on top of it. The ground beneath us unexpectedly broke and tumbled down the hill, bringing us down with it. The pegasi among us were in no trouble, as all they had to do was flap their wings and they were safe. As for the rest of us, we slid downhill without any good way to stop ourselves. Rainbow and Fluttershy caught Rarity and Pinkie, but that left Applejack and myself. Well, Applejack caught herself on a random root, but I was the only one who was still scraping at the ground for some traction. It was no use, even with the unnatural dexterity in my hooves, I couldn't hold on to anything.

The edge was coming way too close, so I turned and tried scrambling away in futility. Applejack noticed my predicament, and slid down to help me with surprising control. Just before I fell to my death, Applejack came close enough to me that I caught her hooves. We both stopped, with only myself in any danger now. We both strained to keep our holds, and I looked around for some way to descend safely. I noticed that a few outcroppings on the cliff one could land on, but I was unable to reach them from where I was. I was losing my grip on Applejack, and even she was having trouble keeping herself where she was. She peeked at something behind me, and looked at me with determination.

"Let go."

"The fuck I will! That fall will kill me!" I protested.

"No it won't." She debated. She looked me dead in the eyes with a sincerity that I felt almost calming. "Ah promise that if you let go, you'll be safe."

The look in her eyes was all the reassuring I needed. She spoke plainly, and with the utmost confidence that all will be right. I couldn't argue any further, because just by looking at her, I knew she was right.

Then I let go.

As I fell to my death, I made sure to keep myself as dignified as possible. My friends would remember me as the one who fell to her death with the strength of character to take it in stride.

I most certainly did not scream "OH SHIIIIIIIIIT!" as I fell. No sir.

While I was expecting to splat against the ground, I failed to notice Rainbow and Fluttershy flying nearby, ready to catch me at a moment's notice. They caught me pretty quickly, and brought me down to the ground at a comforting (and most importantly, safe) speed. When they let go, I grabbed them both in a grateful hug. "Thanks, it means a lot to me what you did there." I said.

Both made their excuses for breaking the hug, one out of pride and the other because she's Fluttershy, and we watched Applejack show surprising agility in descending down on the outcroppings of the cliff. As Applejack walked by and gave me a reassuring pat on the shoulder, I contemplated her. Here was a mare that valued truth.

Maybe when this is all over, I could tell her the truth about myself.
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We walked through five minutes of forest and found the path again, where we knew we would be making progress. None of us knew how to navigate, save for myself, but that was useless without the sun rising from the east. I didn't make it a habit to know which way was north, but I at least knew which way the sun rose. Without knowing the cardinal directions, we were walking blind. So it was a good thing that we were following the roads again.

Now, if only Rainbow would stop boasting about saving our lives. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful, but I learned something about myself: I didn't like being reminded of my near-death experiences.

"...and once Pinkie and Rarity were saved, whoosh!... Me and Fluttershy loop-de-loop around and WHAM! Caught you right in the nick of time." She smiled, basking in her own glory while the others were completely straight-faced.

"Nice story. I was there, so I might be a bit biased, but I'm sure it would be a nice story to tell your kids someday." I hid the sarcastic edge in my voice, so Rainbow didn't catch on that I wanted her to talk about something else. Not until I decided to change the subject, anyway, about something I was sure she would love to elaborate on. "So, Rainbow. I take it you know a lot about those "Wonderbolts", huh?"

Rarity and Applejack groaned behind me, while Pinkie bounced in place saying "Oh boy, story time!" Uh oh, what did I get myself into?

Rainbow hovered next to me, looking like she was ready to go on some tirade, but a loud growling froze us in our tracks. I looked ahead where I heard it, but there was too much foliage in the way. We stared ahead for a long while, but we heard nothing else.

"I guess it's gone now." I commented.

"Um, what if it comes back?" Fluttershy asked.

Pinkie raised a hoof, like she was hoping the teacher would call on her. "What if it's a big, bad monster?"

"A monster? Don't be ridiculous, it was probably just a wolf." I said, hoping to relieve the tension.

"That didn't sound like a wolf." Fluttershy corrected.

Ugh, who made her the animal expert? "So, what? You think it's some mythical beast, like a manticore? Don't be absurd." I joked, the irony of speaking to a pegasus was lost on me.

A fearsome roar from ahead shook us. We faced the creature that roared, and I blanched in terror. "Oh my god, a fucking manticore." The creature was a lion with tail of a scorpion and large wings, similar to that of a bat. It bared its teeth at us, growling at us in warning.

While I was petrified at the sight of such a deadly creature, others had the presence of mind to do something about it. It was in our way, and it had to go. To that end, Rarity charged the beast. If I wasn't scared stiff, I might have been impressed that Rarity was the first one to challenge it. She ducked under one of its swings, and kicked him in the face, a sight that brought me out of my stupor with its badassery.

The manticore glared at Rarity and roared right in her face. The force of its call pushed back her hair. I thought she would have just shaken it off, since, you know, there was a lion/scorpion right there that she kicked in the face with no problem, but the sight of her hair ruined was more than she could take, and she ran behind me to fix it.

Seriously, Rarity? That was just lame. I turned back in time to see Applejack trying to wrangle the beast into submission. But she was quickly thrown off with barely a struggle. Rainbow flew in to do her thing, while Applejack landed right next to me.

She looked up at me with slight annoyance. "Is there a reason yer just standin' there, Twilight?"

"What can I do? I'm just a sales clerk!"

"That ain't no excuse! Rarity's a fashion designer, and she just clobbered the critter!"

I looked at the manticore, which just finished batting away Rainbow. Rainbow looked dazed, but otherwise okay. That did nothing to make me any less angry at that glorified cat barring our progress. How dare that brain-dead abomination hit my friend! I ran at the beast with a plan coming to mind.

"Hey kitty, up high!" I yelled. The manticore swung high at my head, as if it understood what I said. I ducked under the swing, and came up behind the manticore. Emulating Applejack's tree-harvesting method, I brought my hind legs forward, and shot them back.

Right in the nads.

The manticore screeched, and fell on its side, using a single paw to grasp its pained loins. I saw various reactions from my companions, from Rarity's look of disgust, Applejack's look of disappointment, Pinkie visibly wincing, Rainbow rolling on the ground with laughter, and Fluttershy staring in sheer horror. I payed no mind to their reactions, though.

"Quick, get him while he's down!" I kept my mind focused on beating this sucker down. Get in our way, will you? We'll show you what's what!

Before I could pounce on it and pommel it with my hooves, Fluttershy jumped in the way frantically waving her hooves. "Stop! Stop!"

Indeed, I stopped, bewildered at the suddenly concerned pegasus. I had him on the ropes, so why stop me when I had the advantage? More puzzling to me was why Fluttershy started to nuzzle the manticore and offer him soothing words. Come on, why are you being so friendly to the enemy? Hit him!

The manticore whimpered at her, holding up one of its paws to reveal a humongous thorn that I can't believe I didn't notice before. Fluttershy pulled it out, eliciting a pained whimper from the beast, but it quickly showed its gratitude for the friendly pegasus, nuzzling and licking her affectionately.

The others snuck past the heart-warming scene, each making sure they weren't getting any attention from the manticore. Fluttershy eventually said her farewells to the manticore and made to walk past me.

"How'd you know how to pacify the manticore like that?" I asked.

"Well, sometimes, we all just need to be shown a little kindness." She replied nervously. She trotted past me at a slightly faster rate, almost as if she was avoiding something.

Tapping on my back caught my attention, so I turned around, and the manticore grabbed me by the throat with its paw. It growled at me, as I uselessly kicked my legs to break free. It roared, and threw me into a tree. I smashed through the tree with my back, hit another tree on my head, and landed on the ground with a thud. I groaned to a seated position, and noticed the manticore blowing a raspberry at me before scampering off into the forest.

I stood up, stretching my aching back, thankful that for some reason, it hurt a lot less than it really should have. Just another reason to assume we're operating on cartoon physics, I guess. I scrambled to catch up with my friends, who were walking off as if I wasn't just attacked like that.

Despite my pain, I couldn't help but think about Fluttershy's actions. She beat the manticore with kindness, while the rest of us struggled to fight. Maybe she was right. A nicer approach to the future might be better than what I considered.

At the very least, I'll get savaged less by monsters.
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Rainbow crossed her arms defensively. "Look, all I'm saying is that I thought it was funny."

Applejack gave her a reserved glare. "And ahm sayin' it was dirty!" She looked at me with the full force of her indignation. "Why'd ya use such a rundown, dirty trick like that?"

She was referring to me kicking the manticore in the nuts, of course. Rainbow was laughing about it the whole way, which eventually led to them arguing about it. Of course, they had to bring me in at some point, since it was my actions that were under review.

"I'm the rogue. I always fight dirty." I coolly replied.

This didn't help my case with Applejack. "Why'd you have to do that? That's no honest way to win!"

I rolled my eyes. "Okay, fine. If it really upsets you, then no more low-blows."

"That'd be great."

When she turned away from me, I smiled wickedly. Traveling with her was like playing with a paladin. All I did was promise not to do any low-blows, but just like the paladins of D&D, she didn't realize that it didn't exclude me from other dirty tricks. The next monster I see, I'm gouging its eyes.

As if to test me on that conviction, the area went completely dark. I lowered my stance, shooting my eyes in every direction to see some kind of monster. It had to be a monster, right? I wasn't expecting the manticore, but I'm ready this time!

"I know the Everfree Forest isn't much to look at, but I at least want to see something" I heard Rarity complain.

A soft splat sounded by Applejack. "I think I stepped in somethin'."

Fluttershy seemingly shrieked in response. "It's just mud." Was Applejack's deadpan comeback.

Light returned to the glade, but what I saw sent shivers down my spine and scared the others into screams. Horrid, red trees with monstrous teeth in unnatural maws wailed at us with terrifying expressions of savage intent. I backed away from them, bunching up with the rest of the party in the center of glade, fearfully observing the abominations.

All of us were quivering in fear, except Pinkie Pie. She was standing up to one of the trees, making silly and demeaning faces at one of them, giggling like a maniac the whole time.

"Pinkie, why are you taunting the tree demons?" I asked, half because I was scared for her life. The other half of me was curious as to why Pinkie was unafraid of potential danger.

Pinkie giggled, and looked at our questioning looks with a smile. "Oh, girls, don't you see?" Pinkie started shuffling her hooves, as if she was dancing. A phantom tune started playing, which confused me more than Pinkie being excitable. I looked around for some kind of instrument playing, but we were alone with all of these trees glaring at us. Now I was really confused.

Pinkie wasn't paying my confusion any mind, and she began singing.

When I was a little filly and the sun was going doooowwn...

My confusion was compounding further. "Don't tell me she's going to sing?"

Pinkie, somehow, appeared above us and continued her song, making gravity her bitch.

The darkness and the shadows, they would always make me froooowwn...

Without batting an eye, Rarity called it like it was. "She is."

I'd hide under my pillow

From what I thought I saw

But Granny Pie said that wasn't the way

To deal with fears at all

"You've gotta be kidding me." I groaned. I looked at the trees, expecting to see them doing something. Strange, they were standing completely still. Why were they doing nothing?

She said, "Pinkie, you gotta stand up tall

Learn to face your fears

You'll see that they can't hurt you

Just laugh to make them disappear."

Pinkie brazenly laughed at one of the trees, and it poofed into an ordinary not-evil tree. The others gasped, but I stood bewildered. "You've gotta be kidding me." I repeated in shock.

So, giggle at the ghostly

Guffaw at the grossly

Crack up at the creepy

Whoop it up with the weepy

Chortle at the kooky

Snortle at the spooky

The others joined in on the singing and the laughing, each laugh transforming the trees. I just stood there watching with amazement. Pinkie halted the song entirely to stand right in my face, slightly glaring as if I was doing something wrong.

And tell that big dumb scary face to take a hike and leave you alone and if he thinks he can scare you then he's got another thing coming and the very idea of such a thing just makes you wanna...

Pinkie erupted into a giggle fit, making even more of the trees normal again.

Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuugh!

The music cut out, and everyone fell to the ground with laughter. Not me though, I was still staring at one last tree that hadn't been fixed yet. I was studying it.

"Hey, Twilight, why aren't you laughing?" Pinkie asked.

I finished glaring academically at the tree and turned to the others. "Couldn't we have just walked past them?"

This gave their laughter pause. They looked at each other questioningly, then looked at me. They burst out with renewed laughter, once more falling to the ground in their mirth.

I wilted with embarrassment. "That was a legitimate question, guys." I whispered defensively.

As they eventually got up to continue the journey, I wondered about the spectacle I just witnessed. Pinkie's boundless optimism was infectious enough to defeat another encounter with the forces of darkness. It was truly amazing to me how simply thinking on the bright side of things was enough for us to surmount another challenge. I smiled beside myself. I guess I really needed to loosen up.
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Before the giggling could cease, we left the glade to find a river in our path. The river was wild and white with its sloshing. It looked impossible to swim across.

"How are we going to cross this?" Pinkie asked. A strangely sensible question coming from her.

I looked up and down the river. "Who the hell makes a road going this far in the forest, yet forgets to put a bridge down here?"

"Language." Rarity chided.

"Sorry."

We could hear sobbing from upstream. With no further leads, we decided to investigate. We found a huge purple serpent in the river, thrashing its tail around the river in sorrow. "What a world, what a world!" He wailed.

I sighed. Who thrashes out is sorrow like this? I get wanting to break something from time to time, but this is just ridiculous. We needed to cross the river, and this guy was making it difficult. I suppose it's up to me and my quick wits to sort this out, huh?

I approached the serpent, followed by my friends. "Hey, are you okay?"

"No, I am not okay!" He sobbed, throwing his head back in despair. "This tacky purple cloud whisked by and cut my beloved mustache clean off! And now, I look hideous!" He fell into the water in despair, splashing water onto the whole lot of us, much to our dismay.

No, this is not the most stupid thing I've ever had to deal with. I have a headache for completely unrelated reasons.

"Oh, give me a break." Rainbow groaned.

"That's what all the fuss is about?" Applejack asked with indignation.

Rarity looked downright offended by the remarks. "Of course it is! How can you be so insensitive?" She scolded with her head held high.

Rarity approached the serpent with a critical eye. "Oh, just look at him. Such lovely luminescent scales!"

I pushed my ridiculous bangs out of the way to stare at Rarity. What was she doing?

"And your expertly coiffed mane!"

Oh, I get it now! Clever. She's complimenting the serpent on all of his best qualities so he won't be so sad. Not bad, considering all I really know about her is that she's quite the fighter.

"And your fabulous manicure... all ruined without your beautiful mustache!"

... Damn it, Rarity. And you were doing so well. Just as expected, the serpent's wailing renewed, and the water was wild once more with his incessant thrashing.

Rarity glared in determination. "I cannot let such a crime against fabulosity go uncorrected!" She ran up to the serpent and ripped off one of his scales, unsurprisingly causing him to yelp in pain.

His questioning of Rarity's actions was lost to us that day, though I'm sure we were all asking the same question. Why she took that scale was evident soon enough, when she slashed the bladed object at herself, cutting her tail off! I had to say, I was impressed she would do such a thing, considering how much she cared about her hair with the manticore. Because of that, I was stunned to see Rarity so readily tear apart her tail.

Rarity didn't blink at this, merely staying focused on the task at hand by levitating her removed tail up to the serpent's face. I don't know what kind of magic she used, but she firmly attached her fallen tail onto the serpent's face like it was the second half of his mustache. It was an ingenious plan, but it had one fatal flaw. Her tail was purple, his mustache was orange. Imagine my surprise when instead of being upset about his mis-matched facial hair, he was thrilled to have a full mustache.

"You look smashing." Rarity complimented with a straight face. I don't know how, but she's probably a better liar than I am.

"Uh, Rarity? Are you really okay with this?" I asked her, motioning to her tail.

Rarity gave it a glance, and her face had a flash of distaste on it. "Oh. Uh, it's fine. Short tails are in this season. Besides, it will grow back."

She was a transparent liar, after all. She was really attached to her tail, yet she readily gave it away to someone else just to make them fell better. That was very sweet of her, and her generosity really spoke to me.

Then Rainbow Dash whispered in my ear. "The mustache would grow back too, you know."

Ah. Great, this whole scene was a waste of time. All that sweet talking, because some serpent couldn't just accept that he had to change his style for a little while. Great, now my head hurts again.

Frustrated, I started wading across the river now that it was calm. The serpent lifted me from the water, arranging his body as stepping stones across the river.

"Allow me." He said, granting us access across the water.

On second thought, this scene made things a bit more convenient. I could live with that.
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We followed the road for a little longer, and cleared the treeline. Ahead, I saw the crumbling ruins of a castle, which I presumed to be the resting place for the Elements. It lay across a chasm, which I paid little attention to. Excitement filled my mind, and I sped up to a jogging pace. "That's it! We've found the castle, girls! Victory is nigh!" My optimism spread to the others, and they picked up the pace as well. That is, until we hit our next roadblock.

The bridge was out. Again. What is it with bridges (or the lack thereof) and pissing me off? I hate this world already.

Pinkie sighed. "Now what?"

Rainbow fluttered her wings. "Duh, I'll just fix the bridge! Just gimme ten seconds." She jumped down the chasm, presumably to pick up our end of the fallen rope bridge.

"Oh yeah." Pinkie giggled to herself. With sudden and tone-killing intensity, Pinkie turned to me. "Say, you never told us where you were really from."

Seriously? You bring this up now? Just for that, I'm avoiding your question like it has ants on it. "I don't like talking about it. Can we talk about something else?"

"Okay. When's your birthday?"

Damn it. What is it with Pinkie and asking the hardball questions? With a non-sequitur, no less. "May."

Pinkie stared at me with that blank smile for a little while. "What day?"

"I think it's a Tuesday, this year."

Pinkie's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Is there a reason you're avoiding my questions?" Pinkie gasped dramatically. "Oh no, do you not like birthdays?"

Okay, this is getting out of hand fast. Besides, it's been way longer than ten seconds, what's taking Dash so long? I looked across the chasm to see Rainbow talking to some strangely dressed pegasi. Their outfits were admittedly badass, with dark colors and spooky yellow goggles. Who were they, though? I didn't see them before. I leaned closer to make out their conversation, hoping to get some information.

"...It's them or us." Said the pegasus, who I assumed to be the leader.

My eyes widened. Oh no, we could have Rainbow betray us now! "Rainbow! Please, don't listen to them!" I yelled.

The unnamed pegasus glared at me, her eyes flashing with power. Mist came from out of nowhere, and clouded our view, hiding the events across the way from observation.

I stomped with fury. "God DAMN you and your goddamn magic!"

"Twilight, calm down!" Rarity tried consoling.

"No, I'm pissed now! Every time! Magic screws me over every fucking time!" I yelled into the mist, as if my voice had the power to clear the weather. My ranting made everyone look at my head. I wondered what they were looking at, but I was too angry to find out. Once again, magic was dead-set on pissing me off. I hate this world already.

I glared into the mist, while the others were worriedly watching me, as if I was going to do something I might regret. We sat still for a little while, when Rainbow burst through the mist, landing in front of the bridge with a triumphant pose. In my delight, I whooped with joy and rushed over to hug her. It was one of the manly hugs that only last a moment with maybe a pat on the back. I'm not a girl (and screw you if bring up any technicalities).

"Oh man, you have no idea how glad I am that you're sticking with us!" I admitted with some relief.

Rainbow smirked. "I'd never leave my friends hanging."

I smiled back at her as she flew across the chasm, followed by the others crossing the bridge. She was being offered a chance to join a group far more powerful than us, and prestige with them, yet she chose to stick with us. Such a loyal friend. How could I not be happy with someone like her with me?
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The inside of the castle could hardly be considered "inside". There wasn't a roof to speak of, yet there was no debris on the floor to indicate there was a roof in the first place. Columns flanked either side of the room, but they were cracked and had vines growing on them. Nature was slowly creeping in here, as vegetation was all over the place in random segments of the wall and any stone surface. But what really caught the eye was the center. In the center of the room was a statuesque pedestal, on top of which sat five grey orbs surrounding a larger orb. I recognized them from the books. The smaller orbs were the Elements of Harmony.

"There they are. Our key to ending it all." I proclaimed. Rainbow, Fluttershy, and Rarity used their particular methods to bring the Elements to our level.

Pinkie was counting them. "There's only five." She observed.

"When the five are present, a spark will cause the sixth Element to be revealed." I quoted from the reference guide. "I guess we need to do something with these. But what?" I asked.

"Uh, if I may make a suggestion." Rainbow hovered next to me and flicked a chitinous mass on my forehead.

"OW! Rainbow, what the fuck?" I demanded. But then, I widened my eyes in surprise. I looked up, trying to see what was on my head. I patted it with my hooves, finding what ever it was to be conical in shape. "What the fuck is this?" I asked, all anger towards Rainbow forgotten.

"Um, that's your horn, dear." Rarity answered with a confused look.

My mouth dropped. "I'M A UNICORN!?"

The others, Pinkie included just in case I didn't realize I said something weird, had their faces contorted with confusion. It was Applejack who broke the silence. "Ya... didn't know you were a unicorn?"

My eyes shifted in either direction. "Yeah, I knew. I just wanted to be sure you knew."

She eyed me uncertainly. "Okay... then you know what yer doin', right?"

No, of course not. "Well, I can think of something." I lied. I looked at the Elements before me. A spark, huh? So I just needed to make a spark out of my horn? Gee, if only I knew how to do that.

"Well, what are you waiting for?" Rarity asked to encourage my progress. Not that she really helped, since that only added to the pressure I felt.

I concentrated on the Elements as hard as I could, using my mind to try and improvise the magic out. It wasn't working, and I certainly didn't feel magical. Not that I really wanted to be magical, but I had little choice. I tried for an unknown amount of time, but all that happened was Pinkie yawning. So, unless I was accidentally casting a sleeping spell to my left, I wasn't getting jack done.

I took a breath to relax, since I was getting nowhere by thinking hard about nothing. The Elements were being surrounded by a blue cloud, that I swear I could recognize from somewhere...

Wait, oh shit! I know that cloud, it was the same cloud that Nightmare Moon used to enter the Town Hall! The cloud expanded, spinning around the Elements and making them fly around inside the tiny twister of magic. I panicked, yelling "The Elements!" and lunged forward to grab as many of them as I could. I heard my friends call my name behind me, then I felt a sensation that I never thought I would ever feel in my life.

Do you know when someone says their being was "yanked in a direction" whenever they talk about teleportation? Because I now know exactly what that feels like. Imagine being inside a full body suit with a tether attached to it, while being suspended in a vacuum. If someone pulled really hard on that tether, you basically have the sensation of teleportation in a nutshell.

Being dumped out of the teleport was disorienting, sending me on my face for the third impact of the day. I sighed and pushed myself up to see the new room before me. It was definitely a room, this time with a roof over it. It was some kind of throne room, I guess, with a semi-circular window going up the height of the wall. Behind me was a staircase leading out of the room, and either side had more columns, these ones in better shape.

And standing where the throne should be was the goddess of darkness. Nightmare Moon was levitating the Elements around her, smiling evilly at me. "Well, well, look who's come to visit."

I stood up, glaring with determination. It was now my time to shine. Applejack saved my life when she promised my safety. Fluttershy pacified a raging monster with care. Pinkie dispelled all fear by laughing at danger. Rarity gave up a prized possession to console a grieving serpent. Rainbow denied the chance to elevate her station, favoring her friends over status. Now I stood face to face with the villain, and it was up to me to apply my lessons.

I doubted that I could make any promises to console Nightmare, kindness would be lost on a creature of darkness whose hatred was festering for a millennium, laughing would offend her, I had nothing with which to bribe her, and I wasn't about to swear fealty to her. If I was to succeed, I would have to improvise and outsmart her.

I smiled mischievously. "I've come to end this, once and for all."

Nightmare Moon gave me a condescending grin. "And how do you plan to do that? Are you going to distract me with another group of invisible soldiers?"

I lowered into a challenging stance. "You never know. I can be wild and unpredictable when I want to be."

Nightmare Moon lowered the Elements onto the platform and walked calmly to face me. "I fail to see how empty threats serve your purpose. More likely, you're going to boast of your false abilities in order to scare me." She lowered her stance, accepting my challenge.

I smirked, as she was doing exactly what I wanted. I started circling her. "It's not my abilities that should scare you. You've been watching us since the cliff collapse, haven't you? You should realize that I have no particular abilities to call my own."

Nightmare started circling me as well, chuckling at my admission of incompetence. "So why should I fear you? You've just admitted that you are weak, so what threat could you possibly pose?"

I just smiled at her. "You've been in battles before, right? You should know better than anyone that luck is just as important as skill. And lady, I have lots of luck on my side."

Nightmare raised an eyebrow behind her helmet. "Oh? And what good is luck when your opponent has enough power to overcome any lucky breaks you might have? What then?"

I stopped my circling, and she stopped as well. "I don't see how you have that kind of power, because you just made a grave tactical error."

She glared critically. "And that is?"

I smiled victoriously. "You left the Elements undefended right behind me."

Nightmare Moon looked confused for a moment, and looked past me. She just now noticed that in our circling, we switched sides in the room, where she was now on the opposite side of where she started. I yelled "Sucker!" and hauled ass towards the Elements.

This would all be pointless if I couldn't figure out how to use my horn in the next couple of seconds, so I concentrated once more. The Elements grew closer with each stride, yet I continued to try using my horn, hoping to find some way to force out some magic. I came to a stop right on the Elements, and pointed my horn at them.

Nothing.

I scraped at my horn, hoping that I could just ignite it like a match, but that only gave me a funny, euphoric feeling. I contorted my face like I was trying to squeeze one out, hoping that would give me enough concentration, but that didn't work either. Nothing I was trying was helping.

Nightmare teleported in front of me, and grabbed me in her magic. She threw me into the ceiling, where I yelled in pain. She tossed me back to where we stared down, with me painfully landing on my side. She laughed triumphantly. "That was a good one! Really, well done! It's too bad your incompetence got in the way of your hard earned victory! Muahahahaha!" Before I could roll my eyes at the villainous laugh, her expression turned dark. "Let's not let something like that happen again, shall we?"

She reared up, her horn glowing with power, and she stomped down with great force, the shockwave shattering the Elements at her hooves. Right before my eyes, she destroyed my only hope of returning home. The solution to my problems, the key to success, gone. Mere fragments remained of the artifacts that could have set me free.

I lost.

I stared at the fragments in horror, like the symbols of my anguish. This was how I would die? As some replacement for a mare who could have done a better job? My eyes lowered to my hooves. I failed. I was going to be stuck here forever, and I had no one to blame but myself for my failure.

"Twilight!"

I looked behind me, seeing my friends rushing towards me. Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash. Suddenly, my eyes sparked with understanding. I felt my spirits lifting from their fog, as a euphoric tingling traveled down my spine. This wasn't just about me. It was about them. I wasn't alone. I stood up, and my friends gathered beside me, each making sure I was okay. I was better than okay. I had the answer!

I turned to Nightmare Moon with a confident smile. "You think you've won? By breaking the physical Elements, you think we're now powerless?" I bared my teeth in a smile of victory. "You're wrong. We don't need those trinkets; we are the Elements of Harmony."

Nightmare Moon smirked. "Another ploy? Really now, this is getting pathetic."

I chuckled at her naivete. "Think back Nightmare, to all of those trials. Remember the cliff? Applejack spoke to me, and she promised my safety when I had no reason to believe I would survive. For her honorable word, she bears the Element of Honesty."

Some of the shards glowed orange, and flew next to Applejack, hovering around her. She gave them a cursory glance, and looked back at Nightmare with renewed vigor. Nightmare's smile disappeared, replaced by a hint of anxiety.

I took her expression as a good sign, and continued. "Fluttershy, when faced with a creature on the attack, saw its pain and she alone acted to ease its suffering. For her compassion, she bears the Element of Kindness."

Fluttershy was now surrounded by shards glowing pink, but she was a bit frightened by their sudden approach. But I continued. "Where horrid imagery shocked and repulsed us, Pinkie laughed away her fears. For her optimism against all odds, she bears the Element of Laughter."

Pinkie was now surrounded by glowing blue shards. "When a serpent lost something precious to him, Rarity gifted him something valuable to herself. For her sacrifice, she bears the Element of Generosity."

Rarity was surrounded by glowing purple shards. "When offered the chance to join a prestigious group and rise to the top, Rainbow Dash chose to stand with those she cared about most. For her unwavering devotion to her friends, she bears the Element of Loyalty."

Rainbow was surrounded by glowing red shards. Nightmare Moon looked very nervous, but she wasn't backing down. "You haven't won, either! You don't have the Sixth Element!"

My face softened into a heartfelt smile as I looked over my friends. "No, we do. I understand now that the book didn't refer to a literal spark of magic. There's a spark in us all, just waiting to burst, ready to ignite the flames." I glared at the increasingly nervous Nightmare with a smile. "I knew what the Sixth Element was the moment my friends returned my hope to me. For the way I feel about the ones who have saved my life numerous times, and touched me with the actions that exemplified their virtues as my true friends, I have become the bearer of the Sixth Element. I bear the Element of Magic, the one who represents the power that true friendship wields."

From the ceiling, an orb glowing a sharp white descended over us. It was the Final Element. It bathed us in its glaring light, blinding us with its manifesting power. It hovered over my head, but I could feel it transform into a crown. It alighted onto my head, and I opened my eyes, immune to the now blinding light. I looked to see my friends now floating into the air in magic light, wearing their respective Elements around their necks. I smiled, and faced Nightmare Moon, who was quivering helplessly in fear.

I cannot hope to ever describe what I did. The power I wielded in concert with my friends felt incredible, and together, we all directed it towards Nightmare Moon. I couldn't describe how I knew what to do with the power of my Element. It felt completely natural, and I didn't even bat an eye when our combined power manifested into a brilliant rainbow.

The rainbow smashed into the petrified Nightmare, who screamed in terror and anguish at the flood of magic. As one, we amplified our power, and the world soon went white.
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It was hard to say how long I was out. Five minutes? An hour? It couldn't have been very long, since it was still dark out. I sat up and rattled my head into a more wakeful state. My friends were coming to as well, still adorned with their new jewelry.

"Everypony okay?" Applejack asked.

"Looks like it." I said. I looked over to where I last saw Nightmare Moon, and she was still there. She was unconscious, but she looked very different. I turned my attention back to my friends, feeling that we were still safe for the moment.

Rarity was hopping for joy, holding her newly grown tail. "Oh, thank goodness! I'll never part with you again." She spoke lovingly to her tail. I rolled my eyes at this. Oh, Rarity and her eccentric love for her own appearance.

Fluttershy noticed the design on Rarity's necklace. "Oh, what a lovely necklace. It looks just like your cutie mark."

Uh, cutie mark? I was about to ask what that was, but everyone looked between their necklaces and their tattoos, finding that they looked alike. So, I figured that we called the tattoos "cutie marks". What a strange custom these ponies have.

I looked down to see my Element, but I remembered that mine was a crown. I lifted it from my head and examined it, seeing that it was, in fact, a tiara. It was a tiara with a big pink star on it, much like my own "cutie mark". I was a little disappointed, though. "Man, why did I have to get the tiara? I want a bitchin' necklace, too."

Pinkie appeared next to me as if from out of nowhere. "Don't be so sad, Twilight! With that Element, that means we're best friends forever and ever!"

Applejack nodded and stood next me. "That's right, Twilight! Ah mean, ah thought you were just spoutin' a lot of hooey, but ah reckon we really do represent the elements of friendship."

"Indeed, you do." Spoke a regal and powerful voice. Blinding light flooded the room from a nearby window, which I didn't immediately realize was from the rising sun. An orb of light separated from the sun, and entered the room, bursting into the form of a royal white alicorn. Her radiant tri-colored mane billowed in nonexistent wind much like Nightmare Moon's, but her's was clearly meant to astonish, not intimidate. She wore beautiful golden regalia, including a brilliant golden torc with a shining amethyst around her neck, and crown behind her horn. I guess the crown should be considered royal, but in all honesty, my crown is better.

Now who the hell was this? She must be important if she's wearing all that jewelry, and winged unicorns are very rare if Ponyville is anything to go by. I noticed my friends bowing to her reverently, but I found that I couldn't do the same. We just met, how can I enact such a greeting? So instead, I went with something far more casual.

"Uh, hello there." I said, waving. The others gasped at my rather informal greeting, as if I'd just said something rude.

If the alicorn took offense to me, she wasn't showing it in the earnest smile she gave me. "Twilight Sparkle, my Faithful Student. I knew you could do it."

Aw crap, someone else who knows my persona. It was nice of her to give me my full name and relationship to her, but I still needed a little more to work with. For example, what was her name? Hopefully I could trick her with some of my fast talking. "Do what?"

This gave her pause, and she looked at me like I asked a really weird question. "...Saving Equestria from Nightmare Moon, of course."

"Oh, right. The Nightmare business. Yeah, we took care of that." I replied smoothly.

She looked amused at my answer. "So I can see. I knew of Nightmare Moon's return, and I knew you were the one with magic inside to defeat her. But, you could not unleash it without first accepting true friendship into your heart."

I stared blankly at her, masking the bemusement I felt. Yep, that was certainly a cheesy thing to learn. Glad to have helped in the corniest way possible.

The alicorn looked across the room, her face unreadable. "Now, if only another will, as well." She walked past me, towards the fallen Nightmare Moon. "Princess Luna!"

Nightmare Moon, who I guess was really named Luna, gasped in fright. She stared up at the approaching white alicorn with dread. Huh, it's strange that I almost feel bad for her right now. I don't, because the bitch tried to throw me off a mountain, but it's a strange feeling nonetheless.

The unnamed alicorn lowered herself next to Luna. "It has been a thousand years since I have seen you like this. It's time to put our differences behind us. We were meant to rule together, little sister."

My friends and I gasped, but while theirs were gasps of surprise, mine was in revelation. So I've finally met the Good Sister of the tale. Now, what the hell was her name? It's not like I could ask.

"Will you accept my friendship?" Asked the alicorn.

While my friends leaned forward in suspense (hee hee, Pinkie fell over!), I was astounded at the dick move everyone was ignoring. Luna, man, I know I hate you and all, but you're getting shafted on this deal! If she's your sister, why is she demoting you to friend? That's like being a manager and becoming an associate. Or maybe I'm looking too deep into this. I mean, it's not like that happened to me or anything.

Luna rushed up to her sister, nuzzling her apologetically. "I'm so sorry! I missed you so much, big sister!"

The unnamed alicorn nuzzled her back. "I've missed you, too." They sat together, sharing in their sweet, tearful reunion. I smiled beside myself. This was definitely a happy ending.

Killing the moment was Pinkie Pie, crying dramatically one moment, then gasping with an overwhelming smile on her face the next. "You know what this calls for?"

Everyone looked at her, wordlessly asking her to answer her question. She didn't do so, instead trotting happily to the exit to our confusion. She turned to us, and waved for us to follow before leaving the room.

"I guess we should just follow her." I suggested. Agreeing with that idea, we all walked to follow our bouncy friend.
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Pinkie's wordless journey took us all the way through the Everfree Forest. Applejack, Rainbow, and Rarity tried on multiple occasions to ask her where we were going and what we were doing, but she quickly shushed them and merrily trotted down the road ahead of us. She didn't explain herself or anything. At least going back the way we came was mercifully uneventful. Though, at some point, Luna and the other chick disappeared on us. I couldn't tell you how.

Eventually, we arrived back in Ponyville, where the streets were eerily quiet. We went to the main square without even a glimpse of other ponies, and it was getting to the point where I was legitimately freaked out. Finally, Pinkie stopped and turned to us. We leaned forward in anticipation of what she was about to announce.

Pinkie threw up her hooves. "A party!" She proclaimed, ponies bursting out of their homes in celebration. Decorations suddenly appeared on buildings and trees, and we found the royal sisters approaching on a large chariot pulled by four armored pegasi. I relaxed after the initial shock of the sudden festivity around me, shaking my head in good-natured disbelief. Pinkie was making a big deal out of celebrating our success, and just being overly dramatic. Silly girl.

I looked over to Luna and the other girl, seeing that Luna was still upset over recent events. That changed when two children put a necklace of flowers around her as a sign of goodwill, and managed an optimistic smile. Spike ran up to me from the crowd right then, grabbing me in a grateful hug. I pat him on the back and looked around to the cheering and smiling townsfolk. This was a great day for us all, and I was glad to be a part of this wonderful scene.

Manage a great celebration: Check.

Defeat Nightmare Moon: Check.

Make some friends: Check.

Learn something cheesy: Double check.

Great! Now all that was left to do was to go back... home.

The white alicorn noticed that I was sagging, and went to console me. "Why so glum, my faithful student? Are you not happy that your quest is complete and you can return to your studies in Canterlot?"

Well, besides the obvious fact that I wasn't going back to Canterlot to "study", I was glum. I looked over at my gathered friends, the friends I would have to leave behind, and answered with half-truths. "No, I'm not happy. I have great friends in Ponyville, and it breaks my heart that I have to leave them."

The alicorn smiled. "Spike, take a note, please." She dictated. Spike took out a scroll and quill from... somewhere, and wrote as the alicorn spoke. "I, Princess Celestia, hereby decree that the unicorn, Twilight Sparkle, shall take on a new mission for Equestria. She must continue to study the magic of friendship. She must report to me her findings from her new home in Ponyville."

That was a nice effort, Celestia, but it wasn't going to do me any good. I'd love to stay in Ponyville with my new friends, it was just too bad I would be leaving soon. I understood why I had to leave. This life wasn't for me, it was for the real Twilight, wherever she was. She deserved this more than I did.

I smiled as sweetly as I could. "Thank you, Princess."

Heh, it's funny. Maybe it's my paranoia from watching too much C-SPAN, but that speech of her's sounded rehearsed.

My friends surrounded me in a group hug, and I returned it as hard as I could, for I knew that I wouldn't get another chance. The celebration lasted for a few more hours, and everyone finally had to say goodbye and rest from their tiring day. After all, most of us were awake for over twenty-four hours, so we were really tired.

I approached my friends one last time to tell them the truth. I wanted to come clean about being a human, to bid them farewell without any lies masking me. But just looking at them, I couldn't bear to tell them that this was really goodbye. No, I couldn't tell them that uncomfortable truth; I would be heartbroken to see their reactions.

We said our good-nights, and I entered the library with Spike to sleep in Ponyville for the first and final time.

I closed my eyes on the bed, fully expecting to wake up the next morning in the hospital or my apartment, with Equestria being nothing more than a very happy memory.
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I awoke to the sound of pattering feet. I was pretty tired still, and I wasn't much of a morning person, so I just pulled the covers further up my head and tried ignoring the footsteps and get some more sleep. I noticed that the smell in the air wasn't the sterile atmosphere of a hospital, so I guessed in my sleepy state, that I was in my apartment. But if I was in my apartment, why was there someone in here? I don't remember having a room-mate. And why did I smell books?

I sat up, the act itself being more uncomfortable than I remember, but I just blamed that on morning stiffness. I opened my eyes finally to see that I was in no-less-familiar surroundings, but I thought it was impossible. This couldn't be Golden Oaks Library. I left last night, right?

My question was answered when Spike came through the door. "Hey Twilight, want some breakfast?"

Author's Note:

Woohoo! 12 Likes! I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting to get 12 views, much less 12 likes! Thanks for that!

Now, I hope you didn't expect things to end so soon. I don't do short stories, and when I do, there are sequels. This isn't a short story, so there's way more ahead.

It won't be all sunshine and rainbows in the land of sunshine and rainbows, but "Twilight" is going to have a hell of a time getting there. So expect bitchy griffins! Shamans! Bakeries! Hot tubs! Chaos!

And as usual, ponies.

But on a slightly more disappointing note, I may not get the next chapter out next Sunday. Sorry, but real life is happening, and I just might have to push back the next chapter.

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