• Published 18th Feb 2015
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The Fallen and the Forgotten - PCDenton

A broken dimensional mirror, a pony’s existence undone and another’s destiny at an end. Shouldn’t be a problem for a couple of Twilight Sparkles to fix, right?

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5. Entwined

The mares had made good time on their journey towards Ponyville since leaving Canterlot. The condition of the southern path had surprised Twilight once they were clear of the Canterlot gates. It still snaked down the side of the mountain’s rock face, but it hardly saw any use anymore as a primary roadway into Canterlot. Instead, it had deteriorated into a dirt path with unkempt wild brush that crept up from the outer mountain face. The further they proceeded down the path, the more unrecognizable the road ahead looked. By midday, the pathway was barely half the width that it would regularly have been.

The girls formed a loose single file line. Twilight, who had taken up lead of the travelling party. Sunset, followed a few paces behind. Light, took up the rear nearly two dozen paces behind Sunset. Twilight used her telekinetic magic to adjust the harness that held the saddlebags in place she wore on her back. The saddlebags and the cloak where parting gifts from Princess Celestia. Unfortunately it seemed it was fitted for an earth pony so it kept riding uncomfortably up into her wings.

She glanced back towards Sunset and Light, who both adorned identical cloaks and saddlebags. Sunset met her glance with fleeting smile. Further back, Light’s attention was preoccupied with her footing while she walked downhill on the narrow path. The brief glimpses of light reflecting from the moon was welcome, and provided enough illumination to see their surroundings.

“I didn’t think we where literally going to hoof it,” Light grumbled.

“It was the only option,” Twilight replied. “I couldn’t carry both of you and fly to Ponyville. Teleportation isn’t viable either. Even the Friendship Express line was totally shut down. I doubt we could have done anything to convince a team of engineers to run one train to Ponyville for the three of us after the last one went missing,” Twilight shuddered. The mere thought of the story Princess Celestia had told them would have made for a great story around a campfire. Unfortunately, it was more than just a tall tale.

Twilight recalled the story inwardly: A train had left Canterlot a few days after the the endless dusk had began. The train had left on schedule as usual, but never arrived in Ponyville. Princess Celestia had sent out a small detachment of her already stretched thin Royal Guard to investigate, but not a single trace of the train could be found along the length of rail between Canterlot and Ponyville. As far as the guards could see it had simply vanished. With few passengers and engineers that were brave enough to travel after that event, Princess Celestia chose to shut down that train line until further notice.

“I know, Princess Celestia’s story spooked me. I wouldn’t want to ride, let alone work on a train after an incident like that. I just wish there was an alternative. All this walking on all fours business is surprisingly tiring,” Light sulked.

“On the bright side, you’ve adapted to walking quickly. Learning to walk on just two legs took far more effort. Now that was an unsettling experience,” Twilight remarked. “Sunset, how about you? How’s it feel to be on your own hooves again?”

“Living on the other side so long, you kind of get used to walking on two legs and having hands and fingers, so I never really thought about it too much,” she replied. “It does feel nice though. Having a horn and being able to use familiar Equestrian magic I did definitely did miss. Being back here, I feel like the research into the magic on the other side does make it feel very close to the Equestrian magic here, but it’s far stronger over here.”

Light shook her head. “I don’t believe magic ever existed in my world in any tangible amount, at least until Sunset Shimmer came through through the mirror. I’m not even convinced what you call magic is, well, magic.”

“Even after all you’ve seen in the last day. Everything you’ve read, you think magic isn’t real?” Sunset Shimmer said. “Or —I hate to think about it— when I tried to take over the CHS with Twilight’s crown?”

“What little I have read of the history of Equestrian magic so far is certainly fascinating, and I want to learn more about it both here and back home before I can come up with a real hypothesis what exactly magic is.”

“Well, you’ll have some time this evening to get a little more reading done. We’re almost at the rest stop,“ Twilight said.

“We’ve been walking that long?” Sunset replied. “With no day and night cycles, it’s kind of hard to tell.”

Twilight nodded, it had been a surprisingly long day. They had been walking for almost eight hours, with only a couple of short breaks in between. She had made this hike with Spike on a few occasions in the past, but she had usually done it over a two or thee days. Her usual rest spot on the second night was just up ahead: a group of cabins for rent along the side of the road. The reports from Princess Celestia’s Royal Guard indicated that the cabins where still run by the same friendly couple that she had gotten familiar with over the last couple of years. Twilight grimaced inwardly. “It’s not like it matters, they won’t know who I am,” she thought to herself.

“We made excellent time, just over the crest,” Twilight said, attempting to sound cheerful.

The trio fell silent, plodding up the hill. To either side of the trio, the overgrown brush and the forest beyond had been uncomfortably still. Twilight had expected even the odd rustling of a wild animal, but in the hours they had spent walking down the path, not even a single sound other than the plodding of their own hooves. Twilight was relieved when she spotted the group of cabins as they had made it to the top of the crest. The main cabin at the front, where the owners lived had lights emanating from a lone lantern that flickered a pale yellow.

“Looks like somepony’s home,” Twilight said, relieved at the sight.

At first, the owners of the inn had been extremely leery of Twilight and her companions. The combination of Twilight dropping a few extra bits and the cloaks that bore Princess Celestia’s emblem that they wore eased their trepidation of the visitors. The elderly stallion at the front desk of the proprietors’ cabin obliged their request for lodgings with the large three bedroom cabin near the owner’s cabin. His wife was gracious enough to bring over all of the ingredients needed to make a hearty vegetable stew. Sunset had prepared everything and tossed it all in the pot over a fire that Twilight was now absentmindedly stirring with a wooden ladle.

Sunset sat on the oversized couch that faced the fire. She flipped through book she had borrowed from the archives. Light stood to the left of the couch, her own nose buried in one of the books she brought with her. Twilight released the ladle from her magical hold, it gently coming to rest at the edge of the pot. She sat on her haunches, watching the embers of the fire under the pot crackle and glow bright orange. A particularly loud pop from the fire snapped her out of the reverie.

Her attention drifted to Light, who appeared to be focused intently on the book she had propped up on the oversized hoofrest of the couch. Twilight got a better look at the book and had instantly recognized it as the first volume of Principles of Magic. She had the entire set in her own library, which she was particularly proud of. Twilight noted that Light’s expression had grown increasingly sour over the last couple of minutes.

“How’s the studying coming along?” Twilight asked, curious of Light’s progress.

Light awkwardly spun around and gestured at the stool that sat between them with her snout in a huff. “I’ve been trying a basic telekinesis spell for the last half an hour,” Light huffed. Her expression scrunched up, frustrated. Light paced between the hearth and the stool. She nudged the object that lay on top of the stool with her hoof: a small red apple. It hadn’t moved since she put it there.

“Once you wrap your head around a simple telekinesis spell, things get easier,” Twilight assured her. A faint purple glow enveloped the apple and floated upwards a couple hooves before returning to the uneven wooden floor. “Single minded focus is a good first step to mastering this spell. Eventually you’ll be able to do this without batting an eye. This would take a unicorn filly a few weeks to even nudge an object this small on demand, so don’t feel like you have to master this in a single night,” Twilight added.

“How long did it take you to successfully cast this spell?”

“For the first time? I think it was about two days,” Twilight said, blushing, “but I had read Principles of Magic cover to cover at least a dozen times before I even attempted it for the first time,” she hastily added.

“What about you, Sunset?” Light asked, turning to Sunset.

Sunset had put down the book she was reading and stood up approaching the fire. She stirred the pot of stew and carefully levitated the ladle in front of her, the piping hot liquid steaming in the chilly air. Considering Light’s question, she finally replied, “Five days, give or take, but I didn’t start out with studying. It was more of a force of will to control my raw magical potential,”

“Well, do you have any tips for this?” Light asked.

“Before I was accepted to Celestia’s school for gifted Unicorns, most of my early magical training was done by an overpriced tutor in Canterlot yelling at me non-stop. I don’t think much of that was very useful,” Sunset sighed. She paused for a moment, collecting her thoughts before continuing, “The only thing I can think of is try to concentrate not on the words of the spell, but the meaning behind the words. Try to imagine how the magic meshes with the world we are in, how the magic should feel. That helped me when I was just starting out as a filly, at least. Of course, that could just be clear as mud.”

Twilight considered the advice, finally nodding. “That’s a great idea, Sunset. It’s worth trying alternate methods if you are just starting out. Emotion is an important aspect of magic, so you could try approaching it from that perspective,” Twilight agreed.

“How it should feel… Worth a try, I guess,” Light muttered. She returned her attention to the apple on the floor. She squinted, focusing solely on the apple. At first no change, not even a wobble. After a few moments, to Twilight and Sunset’s surprise, the apple started to shake.

“Good! keep going,” Twilight encouraged.

Light nodded, focusing her concentration entirely on the apple. The apple shook more vigorously, eventually lifting about a hoof from the surface of the stool top.

“Excellent!” Twilight exclaimed. Sunset shimmer nodded in approval.

“Finally!” Light grinned, her attention wavering from the apple. A dark, viscous cocoon momentarily enveloping the fruit whole. A slushy popping sound snapped Light’s focus back to the task, albeit too late.

Sunset Shimmer yelped at the sudden sound, her telekinetic grasp of the ladle cut short, the momentum causing the spoon to fly right towards Twilight, who managed to catch it in midair before it smacked her in the head.

Light, momentarily stunned, realized what had just occurred. She began jumping up and down, excited at the result. She managed to levitate the apple, if only for a few seconds.

“Your raw ability is very strong, so that’s good news. With enough practice you’d make a fine student of magic,” Twilight said. “We need to work on some discipline training first. A simple telekinesis spell shouldn’t result in the subject being pulverized like that.“

“Enough magic business. Lets eat,” Sunset said. She hastily filled three bowls with the hearty stew she had tended to. The bowls and spoons drifted in the air and came to a rest in front of the girls.

“Smells delicious, Sunset,” Twilight said, taking a whiff of the steaming bowl in front of her.

“I spent a ton of time learning to cook for myself on the other side. I probably know more ways to prepare vegetables than spells at this point,” she joked. She looked to Light, who had just settled in front of her own share of the meal. “It’s a bit tricky to consume with just your hooves without some practice.”

“I’ll manage. I’m just going to let it cool down a little first,” Light said. She looked down at the bowl, nudging at the spoon. “So, from my few hours in Canterlot, the effects of this war Princess Celestia is fighting seems to have taken it’s toll on the city. I don’t think I spotted more than a dozen other ponies on our way out.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen the city this barren before. Even when Celestia had high profile visitors, the palace always had a a few ponies going about their business. The Dusk and the war against Sombra has changed things.”

Light nodded, her attention drifting to the bowl of stew. Her confidence of consuming the contents of the bowl wavered. The task looked too difficult when she considered the hot liquid. “I did get to read up on a collection of recent events over the last few years here, I haven’t gone through it all, but Princess Celestia had kept a fairly in depth collection of news throughout the lands she watches over.”

Sunset gently let the bowl she had held with her telekinetic spell to the table. “Oh? Anything interesting?” she replied.

Light shrugged. “Lots of fascinating events, but I don’t know if any of it’s helpful. There was one report of a town way out west that’s under the protection of a powerful unicorn. I think her name was Starlight something or other. The report went on to say that Sombra had left that tiny little pocket of land alone, for now at least.”

“Somepony I’d love to meet under different circumstances,” Twilight mulled.

“Down near the Badlands border is a different story,” Light continued. “Only a couple of unsubstantiated reports of something called `changelings` skirting the Macintosh Hills.”

Twilight frowned. “Queen Chrysalis’ hive no doubt. Assuming she’s even the hive queen in this reality.”

“You’ll have to tell me about changelings and this Chrysalis later,” Light said. “Anyway, to the northwest of Canterlot, Cloudsdale has been getting help from the gryphons.”

“That’s something I never thought I would hear,” Sunset snorted. “Even when I was a filly, gryphons never really got along with anypony.”

“They’re not all bad apples,” Twilight sighed. “Light, what about of Ponyville? Did you read anything about that?”

Light shook her head. “Nothing recent. Only tidbits about Princess Cadence and Shining Armor keeping the peace there. Considering how close it is to Canterlot, I think it’s still well protected.”

“Ponyville will be fine, the residents are a strong bunch,” Twilight. “I do hope there is some degree of normalcy, but we’ll see for ourselves what we’re dealing with when we arrive in the morning.”

Light yawned. She nudged the empty bowl in front of her with a hoof. “Pardon me! Dinner has made me sleepy. I think I’m going to do a little more reading before I hit the hay,” she said. She clumsily got up on all fours arced her back, attempting to stretch.

“G’night, Light. Try to get more sleep,” Twilight replied, nodding.

“To you, as well. I promise I’ll only spend an hour reading,” she said. Light headed to her bedroom, awkwardly nudging the door shut with a hoof.

Sunset finished her own dinner and stacked the dirty bowl, along with Light’s on a tray at an end table. Looking out to a nearby window, it was just as dark as when they had arrived, and outside was just as unsettlingly quiet as their entire walk here. She returned her attention to Twilight, who had been sitting quietly, seemingly list in her own thoughts watching the embers flicker and crackle in the fireplace.

“This is a pretty nice place. Has this always been here?” Sunset spoke, breaking the silence.

Twilight blinked a couple of times, her own thoughts returning to the room. “Yeah, its been here for quite a few years. I have stayed here a few times and had gotten to know the Timbers. Wonderful family. Normally, almost every cabin is full of guests. I can’t recall ever coming through here and seeing not even one other guest.”

“With this endless night, I can understand the average pony not wanting to travel,“ Sunset said, “It is unfortunate the Express isn’t running. It’s been ages since I had ridden on that line. That would have been fun.”

“Princess Celestia’s decision to shut down the line is a prudent one,” Twilight said. “At least the tampering with the sun and moon has played to our favour. If winter was in full swing we would have had a tough time making it even a third of the way here on hoof.”

“True, not having to slog down a mountainside knee deep in snow was great. Our new friend Light would have had a difficult time,” Sunset said. She picked up the cast iron prod with her magic and poked at the logs on the fire. The agitated wood popped and cracked. “You think we’ll find your friends in Ponyville? Princess Celestia didn’t exactly paint a great picture of what’s going on in this world. Who knows what we’re dealing with now.”

Twilight nodded. “I can’t be one hundred percent sure of anything anymore but at least one of the girls should be there. Once we find one of the girls, the hopefully that will point us in the direction of the rest. One thing that has been bothering me is what happened to Spike. Princess Celestia never had a dragon egg in her possession to begin with so where could he be? Does he even exist? If so, would he even be the same Spike?”

“I’m sure he’s fine here with a nice group of dragons,” Sunset offered. “But our first priority needs to be focused on recovering the Elements of Harmony, not tracking down Spike.”

Twilight glared at Sunset. “Spike isn’t as important as the rest of my friends?” she questioned.

“That’s not what I meant, I—” Sunset paused, considering her next words carefully. She knew she had struck sensitive subject. “I’m sure he’s fine in this timeline. But that’s just it, Twilight. This timeline isn’t ours. The sooner we figure out what in Equestria caused all of this, we can work to fix it, and get back to our own timeline. To our… home.”

Twilight’s features softened, her attention returning to the embers crackling in the fire. “You’re— you’re right. The last twenty-four hours is getting to me. I— no, we have to focus on what’s ahead.”

Sunset simply nodded. Both of the girls resumed watching over the last remnants of the dying fire.

“So,” Twilight began.

“So,” Sunset echoed.

The awkward silence hung heavily in the air. The remaining embers of the wood in the fireplace tried it’s best to liven the room. Twilight managed to force sound out of her throat first.

“A full day of walking on all fours, that must of been different than you are used to,” Twilight said.

“Getting to stretch the old legs felt pretty amazing,” Sunset Shimmer remarked. “It’s been too long since I’ve been able to just run like that. Even being on the other side for so long, walking like this feels so… right. I didn’t think I’d actually miss something this trivial,” Sunset remarked. “I’m impressed that Light adapted to her transformation quickly.”

“For sure. Honestly, it’s remarkable that the Crystal Mirror somehow helps you adjust to the physiological changes when you move between worlds. It’s some seriously complex magic.”

“That was a puzzle that had eluded me since I had known about the mirror. I spent every waking moment for the months leading up to crossing over for the first time. Even with that all that research, I had barely scratched the surface of the intricate weaving of spells that went into creating the mirror when I had decided to step through,” Sunset said, collecting her thoughts.

“I’ve read just about every historical entry and likely every single book you had managed to track down. Between the two of us, we probably know more about it than even the Princess does at this point,” Twilight joked.

“I feel like I’m the luckiest pony on either side the mirror. After what I had done, being given the opportunity to grow into something wonderful has been an amazing experience.”

Twilight regarded Sunset, who had been gazing at the fireplace. Sunset appeared lost in her own thoughts.

“You know you can come back home at any time, right?”

Sunset bit her lower lip. “I know, and I’m thankful. But, I don’t feel like I’ve earned that right yet. I know I’ve gotten the same invitation from Princess Celestia that you’ve also extended, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the bridge I burned with Princess Celestia the moment I crossed over to the other side could just be rebuilt just like that. I need to find a my own way to earn that right,” Sunset said, steeling herself. “Besides, with senior year coming up I have so much left to learn.”

“After your senior year, what then? Your recent letters have focused on all of our friends’ plans and very little on what you want to do.”

“I don’t know, maybe go to a college on the other side? There are many areas of science over there that interest me, and it’s a topic I seem to have a natural affinity for.”

“Well, that’s a start. I’m glad that you’re looking forward,” Twilight replied.

Sunset simply nodded, averting her eyes from Twilight’s gentle gaze. “Forward is the the only direction I should be going in. Looking back just brings up all sorts of things I’d rather not think about.”

“You mean how you left things before you left our dimension?”

Sunset nodded once more. “That’s part of it. I really didn’t have many ponies that I would have considered myself close to back then. Even if I did, I doubt anypony even remembers who I am.”

“You do have at least one friend back home. Two if you count Spike,” Twilight said, smiling.

“And I’m grateful for that,” Sunset replied, her expression shifting to a brief glimpse of melancholy. “I haven’t even seen my parents since the last parent teacher day Princess Celestia’s school for gifted unicorns, and that was over a year before I had crossed over. They are both undoubtably off doing their own important work. Probably didn’t even notice that I had left. They were always nonchalant when it came to the topic of me,” she finished.

Twilight paused, searching for the right words. Sunset rarely wrote in the book about her own life on the other side, other than magic and the goings on with their friends. Even more rarely about the life she had left at her original dimension. Not wanting to pry further, she chose to be a supportive friend. “I’m sure they miss you. If you do ever choose to come back home, I can help get in touch with them.“

“Thank you,” Sunset’s features relaxed, her usual restrained expression melting away. She looked tired. “I’m sorry… there’s more important things to worry about than listening to me moping about myself. Constantly second guessing every decision I make. How one bad choice could dredge up my power hungry demon side again. The mere thought of it terrifies me.”

“Trust me. With more responsibility even seemingly trivial choices can feel like a burden sometimes. Having wonderful friends that have my back is reassuring though. That’s something we both have plenty of,” Twilight said. She raised a brow and tilted her head, quizzically. “I don’t think you ever need to worry about going full demon again.”

“Oh, I know,” Sunset abruptly answered, her usual guarded expression returning. “Anyway, we’ve got a long day ahead of us,“ Sunset said, letting out a a big yawn. “I’m going to try to get some shut-eye as well. Thanks Twilight, for listening.”

“Of course,” Twilight responded. “Have a good sleep.”

Sunset slid off the sofa and headed to her darkened room. Twilight watched on as the door quietly closed. She unsuccessfully tried to stifle an involuntary yawn. Stretching out to the entire length of the warm sofa, she let her head rest on the hoofrest. She watched the dim orange glow of embers fade, before nodding off to sleep.

Author's Note:

This sat in editing hell for a long time.

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Comments ( 1 )

Glad to see this story has life breathing in it again

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