• Published 18th Dec 2014
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Double Trouble: The Flaws Within - Masterius



Two Twilight Sparkles are not better than one, especially when each are stranded in the wrong world! With the Crystal Mirror broken, is there any way for them to find the way back to their respective homes?

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Chapter 6

Chapter Six

Considering the alternative—everypony enslaved by Lord Tirek; all of Equestria under his despotic, all‑powerful rule; Princesses Celestia, Luna and Cadence eternally imprisoned in Tartarus—having your treasured library home destroyed as a result of one’s battle to defeat that evil was a minuscule sacrifice, especially since vanquishing, and subsequently banishing, that evil tyrant had also freed everypony and restored their magicks: earth, unicorn, pegasus, and alicorn alike.

Truly, that was all Princess Twilight had seen as the goal: the defeating of Lord Tirek and the saving of Equestria. Moreover, just as honestly, she hadn’t expected any reward to accrue as a result of her decisions and actions. That hadn’t happened before, and this certainly hadn’t been significantly different than the numerous other times she had come to the defense of her monarchs, her friends, or her world.

Nevertheless and notwithstanding, events had been different this time, and on a much larger and more grandiose scale than even she had become—albeit grudgingly, at times—accustomed.

Poor Twilight hadn’t, as yet, grown used to her crown and Princess status, and now she had her own Kingdom.

Princess Twilight Sparkle, the Princess of Friendship, monarch of the Friendship Rainbow Kingdom…

With her own Castle, no less!

It was, everypony admitted, a unique yet appealing castle. The lower half resembled the destroyed Golden Oaks Library she had come to love as her home, but was several times larger and definitely crystalline in nature. The upper half, perched amongst the boughs of said “tree”, more closely resembled the typical castle, with spires, towers, balconies, turrets, ramparts, and watchtowers.

It was also much, much larger than Golden Oaks Library had been...and wasn’t “just a library” any longer. In fact, that not-so-little detail had been a major source for several of Twilight’s initial problems with settling in.

Princess Twilight hadn’t been the only one with acclimation difficulties. For years now, Spike had been Twilight’s assistant and, in fact, his duties—often self‑assigned and self‑assumed—went far beyond that of a mere assistant. In addition to aiding Twilight—and, now, Princess Twilight—with her studies and researches, Spike cooked, cleaned, laundered, mended, set and made appointments, drew baths, groomed Princess Twilight…the list went on and on.

The important detail, however, was that Spike did all of that.

The Castle of the Friendship Rainbow Kingdom, however (as previously noted) was enormous, many times the size of Golden Oaks Library. In addition, unlike the library, such a Castle was expected to be, for the most part, open and available to the public.

(Granted, Golden Oaks Library had originally been open to the public, too. However, once Twilight had started residing there, Ponyville had graciously and happily granted the Library to Twilight as her home. And, since it now was her home they’d treated it as such, granting her that measure of privacy and proprietorship.)

Princess Twilight—and Spike—had resisted tooth-and-hoof and fang-and-talon at first, but it rapidly became apparent to the both of them (sometimes for different reasons) things just couldn’t go on as they had before at Golden Oaks. They needed…

Staff.

Servants.

Once that door had been opened, it became a flood. You couldn’t have just one or two, because then those one or two needed management or assistance, and then those needed it…

There were ponies responsible for keeping things clean; ponies responsible for maintaining the castle interior and exterior, like linens, laundry, pennants, and banners; ponies responsible for keeping the castle grounds in good shape, like gardeners and landscapers; ponies responsible for administration, helping guide visitors and assist petitioners, setting up appointments and similar duties; ponies responsible for keeping all of those other ponies properly fed, keeping the pantries and larders decently stocked, and assuring the occasion feasts or banquets were exceptional.

The list just went on and on.

Poor Spike. He saw everything he took pride in accomplishing helplessly dribble through his claws. And the awful thing about it was he couldn’t really refute anything that was changing. Their Castle might not be as large as were either Canterlot Castle or Crystal Castle, but, within days, Spike had to miserably admit it was simply too big to keep up with on his own and by himself.

He wasn’t the only one having to come to grips with unpalatable necessity.

Now, there positively were things about her castle that Princess Twilight found a definite step‑up from Golden Oaks: the bedroom and bathroom, for instance. Or, more accurately, The Royal Bedroom Suite. Now, while Princess Twilight wasn’t as hedonistically inclined as her friend Rarity—who, when she’d gotten her first look at the furnishing and appurtenances, had cooed, rolled her eyes, and fainted in bliss—but even Twilight admitted having felt shivers of pleasure upon seeing the comfy canopy bed and the sunken Jacuzzi tub.

What wasn’t anywhere near as delightful, however, were the Royal Guards that Princess Celestia and Princess Luna had fobbed off on her.

Twilight thought it was grossly unkind and unfair of Princess Mi Amore Cadenza to have joined ranks with Celestia and Luna when she’d complained to Cadence when the Guards had first arrived. And double unkind of her when Cadence, instead of commiserating with Twilight, had, instead, then sent her own company of Crystal Pony Royal Guards!

Friendship Rainbow Kingdom, Princess Twilight had complained, was not at all the same as Equestria or Crystal Empire. Her castle was not the capital of a nation or seat of government! She didn’t need all the same trappings and appurtenances both Canterlot Castle and Crystal Castle did!

Her fellow Princesses sympathized with her, true enough, but stoically remained unmoved by her plaints. Her castle was, like it or not, more than just her home, more than just a library. And Royal Guards were more than just a token, more than just a visible symbol of her position and prestige: they helped guide as much as guard, assist as much as defend.

And so her castle now employed staff and servants—which didn’t please Spike even if he knew they were a necessity—as well as Royal Guards—which didn’t please Princess Twilight, even if she had grudgingly caved in to her fellow Princesses’ insistence.

There were, however, two things Princess Twilight flatly decreed that nopony was going to argue about, and both involved Spike.

First, Spike was her personal aid. Nopony else was going to interfere with, or get their grubby hooves involved with, Princess Twilight’s personal affairs. Spike kept her appointments, kept her rooms neat and clean, made sure her clothes and linens were laundered. The kitchen staff might prepare her meals, but Spike was the one that presented them, and cleaned up afterwards.

Secondly—and again, on this she would brook no arguments—Spike was her chamberlain. Although he was unable to personally perform all the chores her new castle household required, by Celestia’s Sun, he would be in charge of managing those duties!

Spike had been enormously flattered and extremely proud of that appointment. It was still difficult for him to let most things go, and he constantly struggled—often very hard—not to get bossy with everypony and continually stick his claws in where they weren’t needed.

Right this moment, though, Spike was desperately wishing somepony else was in charge!

He’d known that Twilight would be returning to the human world today and bringing Sunset Shimmer back with her. If it had involved a risky task or something potentially hazardous, Spike would, of course, have accompanied Twilight. However, this was just a quick trip back and forth, something completely innocuous and dull, so Spike had elected to remain behind and assure the “Welcome Home” refreshments were up to snuff.

He had not, at all, been expecting what had actually transpired.

Oh Spike! Princess Twilight needs help! Something went wrong with the Crystal Mirror, and she’s also gotten a fearful knock to the back of her head!

Those terrible words kept echoing in his head, Sunset Shimmer’s voice distorted with frantic fearfulness: Princess Twilight needs help! Princess Twilight needs help! Princess Twilight needs help!

He had dashed off, racing through the corridors to do just that: help Twilight. Problem was, he didn’t know what to do to help. He needed to get help.

But he was the one in charge. He was the one making the decisions. But he didn’t know what to do!

Skidding around the third corner, he almost barreled right into three Royal Guardsponies, two of them looking extremely spent, exhausted and heavily lathered, both of them unfamiliar to him. They jerked back in alarm as Spike almost charged into them, then, as he started heading around them, the third Castle Guardspony started speaking. Spike cut him off, holding up a paw as he panted. “It’ll have to wait. Princess Twilight needs help.”

All three Guardsponies tensed in alarm. Suddenly, a thought hit Spike. “You,” he stabbed a talon at the Castle Guardspony. “Sergeant Lance Bearer, right?” The Castle Guardspony nodded. “Twilight’s in the Portal Room along with Sunset Shimmer.” Spike didn’t notice the other two Royal Guardsponies’ sudden, widened eyes or flattened ears. “Go there and check up on her. I’m getting a doctor up here.”

“Yes, Sir!” Saluting Spike, the Castle Guardspony turned and rapidly trotted off. “You might as well go with him,” he told the remaining two before racing off again. Moments later, he was screeching to a halt at the main entrance, alarming the two Royal Guardsponies stationed just inside the main entrance and flanking the doorway itself.

Whoa, Spike! Hold on a second here, bud! he thought as he stood there, gasping for breath. You gotta stop running around like a headless cockatrice! Think! Think!

Taking deep breaths, Spike struggled for composure. One of the Guardsponies started addressing Spike, but he cut him off and shook his head at him. “It’ll have…to wait. Twilight needs help.” Both stiffened as Spike continued. “You,” he said, pointing a claw at one of them, “Go to…Ponyville Hospital. Tell them…to send a…doctor. Twilight’s been injured…and needs help,” he gasped.

“Yes, Sir!” the Guardspony saluted, immediately dashing off.

“Go with him,” he told the other.

“Yes, Sir!”

As he galloped off to rejoin his partner, Spike leaned over, paws on thighs as he huffed and puffed for breath, trying to think what else needed to be done or whom else he should call for. At the moment, he couldn’t think of anything else, so he stood there, fretting, gnawing on his claws as he impatiently waited for the Ponyville medical team to arrive, when what he really wanted to do was race back and be there at Twilight’s side. But somepony had to stand there at the door to guide the medical team when they showed up.

Dancing in place, fretting and fuming, Spike abruptly took off running, yelling out as he dashed past a roving pair of Guardsponies on routine patrol, “Watch the entrance!” He didn’t bother checking whether or not they’d listened, and his claws scraped and scrabbled as he sprinted through the castle and back to the Portal Room.

“Twilight!” he softly cried out as he entered the room, seeing her gracelessly sprawled unconscious on the floor. “Twilight! Are you all right?” Spike choked back a sob as he hastily knelt next to her. Gently resting a trembling paw on the side of her chest, he heaved a broken sigh feeling the slow, regular beat of her heart; seeing, as well as feeling, the steady rise and fall of her chest.

Glancing up, his eyes widened in horrified shock upon seeing the mirror and device…or what was left of them anyway. Even he could see that both were far more than just damaged: they were undeniably wrecked.

Behind and to one side, he was dimly aware of the unfamiliar Guardsponies helping Sunset Shimmer to her hooves before leading her out. Twilight, however, was still unconscious, so she must have borne the brunt of whatever had happened here. Whatever that was, Spike had no idea, but he wondered if Sunset Shimmer knew what had happened. Speaking of which…

He blinked, abruptly aware he had seen her being led off. Quickly gazing around, he confirmed she was, indeed, no longer inside. “Where’s Sunset Shimmer?” he asked the remaining Guardspony.

“They took her away.” he replied.

What!?” he blurted. “Who took her away? And why?”

“The other Guardsponies. They said she was under arrest.”

Spike lunged up, startling the Guardspony into snapping his head back and forcing him into backing up a pace. “Under arrest!?” he scowled. “For what? And who were they?”

Beads of sweat popped out on his head. “They…they said for treason. And they were Royal Canterlot Guardsponies, Sir.”

Watch Twilight!” Spike yelled as he dashed back out again.

Stupid idiots! Spike mentally growled. Do they still think Sunset Shimmer is a traitor? I’d thought that had all been cleared up by now!

He caught up with them just as they were approaching the main entrance. “Stop!” he yelled to the two Guardsponies there.

Spike skidded to a halt as he reached the five of them, the group just shy of the enormous double doors there. “I said stop!” he screeched, as the two Royal Canterlot Guardsponies, after having halted a moment, continued on their way, one of them tugging with his teeth the lead line connected to Sunset Shimmer’s halter.

Except it wasn’t a halter…it was a muzzle. And then everything else registered, and Spike felt a wave of white‑hot fury whelm him.

“Stop them!” he commanded the two Guardsponies at the door.

“But, Sir!” one quailed. “They’re Royal Canterlot Guards!”

Spike started replying but suddenly paused, eyes narrowing a moment as he focused on one of the two Castle Guardsponies, one that had been assigned to them by Princess Cadence herself.

A Crystal Pony Guardspony.

Stabbing a foreclaw at the hapless Guardspony, Spike growled, “Who am I?”

The Guardspony immediately snapped to attention. “You are ‘O Great and Honorable Spike the Brave and Glorious’.”

“Glad we have that settled. You will make sure these two,” he growled, “don’t leave this castle without my permission.” He didn’t bother to see if he’d be obeyed; he knew he would be, so now he was free to turn his attention to the true source of his fury.

“Release her. Now.”

Although he could be easily riled up, Spike scarcely ever became genuinely enraged. It took a great deal of provocation to truly fire up his furnace.

This was one of those times.

The two Royal Canterlot Guardsponies shot glances at each other before one gave Spike a hard stare. “Sunset Shimmer must accompany us to Canterlot, there to be judged of her crimes.”

“What crimes!?” Spike howled. “I know for a fact Princess Celestia pardoned her for what happened in the past.”

“We saw Sunset Shimmer strike down Princess Twilight with our own eyes, back there in her chambers.”

Spike’s head kept whipping back to Sunset Shimmer, his fury increasing each time he did so. Not only had they cast a magic muzzle to keep her silent, they’d also magically cast hobbles on forelegs and hind legs, forcing her to take half‑steps and thus preventing her from bolting. But as bad as all that was, what really had Spike poised on the brink of mayhem was left to the gleaming toroid seated over Sunset Shimmer’s horn.

An enchanted, steel dispersion ring.

No wonder Sunset Shimmer looked like the walking dead, her eyes empty and hollow.

“I don’t know what you think you saw,” Spike said in a deadly soft voice, flickers of flame escaping from gritted teeth, “but if it hadn’t been for Sunset Shimmer, Princess Twilight would still be in another world, trapped there. So would I. We would be adoring slaves of three Sirens there. Princess Twilight couldn’t have defeated them without Sunset Shimmer’s help. She’s our friend.

“Now get those awful things off her right now!” he roared, paws leaving the ground for a moment as a true jet of green flame lanced out.

Between Spike’s obvious fury and the now‑flat, hostile glares they were getting from the Castle Guardsponies, the two of them were beginning to look uneasy, tails nervously swishing back and forth.

“What are you two even doing here, anyway?” the highly irate little dragon growled. “You’re not assigned to our Guard.”

“Lord Spike,” the Crystal Pony Guardspony answered for them. “These two have been sent directly from Canterlot Castle bearing an urgent message for Princess Twilight.”

“So,” Spike rumbled, little wisps of flame still issuing from his clenched jaws. “What’s this message?”

The senior Royal Canterlot Guardspony paused a moment, obviously considering his orders versus the actual situation as currently obtained. “Princess Twilight Sparkle has been urgently summoned to immediately attend Princess Luna at Canterlot Castle.”

The muzzle and hobbles on Sunset Shimmer abruptly flashed into nonexistence as their spells were dismissed. As his partner levitated the dispersion ring up and off her horn, Sunset Shimmer powerfully shuddered. Turning her head, she gazed at Spike. “Thank you,” she softly said.

“What did happen back there?” he asked her.

“I…I don’t know, Spike,” she honestly replied. “Everything was fine at first. And then the Mirror, it…it just seemed to explode.” She slowly, haltingly, explained what had occurred as best as she could remember, and as she described how oddly Princess Twilight had been acting, Spike grew more and more fretful, gazing down the pathway and wondering how much longer the medical team was going to take.

“I did cast magic on Twilight, Spike. I had to!” she almost sobbed. “She was about to teleport out of the room and that would have been the end of her!” and at that she did cry, tears that had been filling her eyes now spilling down her cheeks. “I put her to sleep, but that was all. I swear!”

Spike glared at the two Royal Canterlot Guardsponies, quite audibly growling his anger. Thankfully, whatever he’d said about them was low enough to be inaudible. Then he grew thoughtful as something the senior of the two had said just earlier registered. “Why Princess Luna?” he asked. “Shouldn’t she still be asleep? Why not Princess Celestia? And why didn’t Princess Celestia send her summons through me like all the messages she sends to Twilight?”

The two of them looked at each other then back at Spike. The senior, once again, seemed to be weighing orders versus initiative. Finally, he sighed then nodded to himself. “That is why Princess Twilight had been urgently summoned. Princess Celestia has been struck down by some sort of magic and is in a coma.”

With an anguished cry, Sunset Shimmer rocked her head back and keened as her legs trembled, then slowly collapsed to the ground, as Spike stood there, stunned and shocked.

Author's Note:

Revised 02/08/2020