• Published 12th Apr 2015
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What Didn't Happen: After - Zeg



A Princess and a Queen share the same one dream, but on nights separated by over six centuries worth of time. Is the dream a warning of what is yet to come?

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Planning for Yesterday

What Didn't Happen: After

by Zeg

Chapter II – Planning for Yesterday

Twilight descended the short staircase that ran just along the wall outside her office leading her into one of the interior hallways of her castle. She stopped just past the last step to glance about the empty hall before calling out. “Julie?”

“Yes, Princess! I’m here,” called a voice from one of the adjoining halls. A second later, a unicorn with a light fuchsia coat and light green mane trotted briskly into the room holding a translucent slate of crystal in her magic at her side. Her mane was done up in a single bun on the back of her head, and some of the hairs even shined with a crystal-like glint as she passed by the early morning rays of sunlight filtering in through the windows. One could easily tell that Juliana Gem, or Julie as Twilight liked to call her, had a partial Crystal Pony heritage, even if her coat did lack the translucent, glass-like quality. “I didn’t realize you were awake,” Julie said as she stopped before Twilight and gave her an apologetic smile.

“I’m up a bit early this morning.” Twilight glanced to the side when she noticed one of the castle’s staff rushing a silver cart out into the room. Twilight smiled and nodded to the young mare as she parked the cart nearby and stepped away with a quick bow. She stepped up to the cart and selected a breakfast pastry from the many available and then poured herself a cup of chamomile tea from the small kettle. “So, my schedule for the next two days...,” Twilight said. She paused to take a quick bite of the pastry and sip of tea.

“Right,” Julie said with a quick nod as she brought the crystal tablet up before her muzzle much like a clipboard. She lifted a forehoof and tapped it against the surface, causing it to light up with words from top to bottom. She waved her hoof just over the tablet a few times in a vertical sweeping motion, causing pages and pages of words to scroll upward over the tablet’s surface. “Do we need to make a few adjustments?” she asked as she quickly read through the details of the day’s schedule.

Twilight opened her mouth, hesitating for a second before saying, “I need you to clear it.” She lifted her tea cup to her mouth, holding it there as if hiding behind it as she took a tiny sip.

Julie’s ears flinched forward, and her eyes suddenly grew a bit wider. “Oh, I see,” she said as she furrowed her brow at the tablet.

Twilight’s ears fell back at seeing Julie’s troubled look. She slowly lowered the tea cup and set it back upon the cart before turning her attention back to her assistant. “I know it’s asking a lot.”

Julie quickly glanced up. “Oh! No, not at all, Princess,” she said, quickly shaking her head. She looked back to the tablet again, chewing at her bottom lip as she pondered over it for a few seconds. Her eyes drifted up toward Twilight a few times before she pulled the tablet to the side. She tilted her head slightly as she asked, “It may not be any of my business, but is everything alright?”

Twilight put forward a gentle smile and shook her head. “Don’t worry yourself. Something has just been... brought to my attention. I just need to devote some time to taking care of it.”

“I understand,” Julie said as she turned her attention back to the tablet. “Don’t worry, Princess. I’ll find a way to reschedule things.” With a few quick back and forth motions of her hoof over the tablet, she began to shift the blocks of words about as she reorder the day’s scheduled events for another time.

“Thanks, Julie. I think it’s fair to say I really owe you a big favor now.” Twilight turned her attention back to the cart long enough to freshen up her cup of tea and pick out another pastry. She happened to glance out of the corner of her eye at just the right moment to catch Julie staring at her from over the tablet. Julie quickly averted her eyes upon being noticed, focusing on the glowing words before her. Twilight tilted her head curiously as she asked, “Something on your mind?”

Julie’s ears flinched back before she peaked over the tablet. She slowly lowered the tablet, holding it in one foreleg against her chest as she sat back. “Well... since you mentioned a favor, it reminded me of something I had been meaning to ask you, and I had planned on asking you this morning.”

“Julie,” Twilight began as she approached her assistant and gently laid one hoof upon her shoulder. “You’re clearing two entire days worth of time for me on a last minute’s notice.” Twilight withdrew her hoof and sat back as she shrugged her shoulders. “The least I can do is spare a few minutes for you. Please, ask.”

Julie smiled brightly and sat up a bit taller. She quietly cleared her throat and then said, “It’s a request, for my daughter. Her school is holding an event soon, this Thursday. It’s bring your foal to work day, and... she’s really wanted to visit the castle.”

“That’s in three days,” Twilight said. She lifted one hoof and rubbed it just under her chin as she let out a thoughtful hum. Her plan was for her task to only require the next two days. After that, things would hopefully be back to normal. She smiled and and shrugged her shoulders again as she said, “I don’t see a problem with that at all.”

“She was actually hoping to meet you,” Julie added.

“Ooh,” Twilight said. She gave Julie a knowing smile as she slowly nodded her head. “I see.”

Julie nervously chewed at her bottom lip again for a second, and then said, “To be honest, she hopes to convince you to tutor her.” Twilight’s ears flinched back, and her smile quickly vanished. Before she could respond, Julie quickly spoke up again. “Now, I’ve told her that you are rather busy, far too busy for a student, but she insists on asking you herself.” Julie paused long enough to let out a light sigh, closing her eyes as she shook her head. She glanced upward to Twilight with an apologetic smile. “I know how unlikely it is that you can simply take on a young student that just walks up and asks. You hardly have time in the day for yourself.”

“Well, I’d hate to disappoint her,” Twilight said. Her eyes drifted down to the floor between them, and she furrowed her brow as thoughts of times long past made their way to the forefront of her mind. Only once had she taken on a dedicated student to train in magic. And while it was in no way fair to compare her assistant’s daughter to a student that had come seeking knowledge with ulterior motives, she couldn’t help but worry that the end result could be the same. Even an innocent mind stumbling upon forbidden spells by accident could end up causing a disaster. Twilight’s shoulders slumped slightly as she let out a silent sigh. “You’re right, though. I... doubt I would be able to tutor her. I’m sorry, Julie.”

“Oh, no. There’s no reason to apologize, Princess.” Julie said as she waved off the apology. “If you think it would be too much of a bother, I could just tell her myself.”

“No, that’s alright. It should come from me.” Twilight took a couple steps closer to Julie, lowering her head to her assistant’s height and lowering her voice to just above a whisper. “Hopefully she’ll understand, but if she doesn’t then I’d rather her be upset with me than her mother.” Twilight leaned back as she smiled.

Julie smiled back as she looked up to Twilight. “You always have had a gentle heart.” She then stood and took the tablet in her magic. She quickly cleared her throat as she glanced over the schedule once again. “Well, I’ll take care of this and notify the staff that you are not to be bothered unless absolutely necessary.”

---

Twilight stepped into one of the many chambers of her castle, pulling the door closed behind her. The room was momentarily plunged into darkness, but then Twilight’s magenta aura glowed from her horn to give the room some light.

She stepped forward into the circular, windowless room. Etched into the floor was a circle about half the diameter of the room itself, and at the center was a crystal spike that was about as tall as she was. She stopped just as her forehooves reached the edge of the circle, and then she slowly lowered her head so her horn was nearly touching the floor. Her magic glowed brighter for just a moment, and then symbols lit up and moved in patterns about the inner circumference of the circle. Lines of light traced across the floor to the crystal spike in the center, filling it with light and brightening the room.

The tip of the crystal spike lit up with a bright white glow and then cast a horizontal beam of light out toward Twilight that swept over her from head to hoof. Then the crystal pulsed, sending a dim glow rippling out across the floor. It continued to do this in a slow, steady rhythm as Twilight patiently waited.

A couple silent minutes passed, and then beams of light projected outward from the tip of the crystal to the right of Twilight. As the light passed over the empty area, a translucent image of Princess Celestia was revealed standing at the edge of the circle.

“Twilight? Is something wrong?” Celestia asked. Her voice had a resonance to it that made it sound more distant than it should have, almost as if she were speaking from across a long empty corridor.

Twilight turned herself slightly to look toward Celestia’s image, but kept her forehooves at the circle’s edge. “Possibly. I’ve sent this call out to everyone. Will Luna be able to join us?”

“I’ll make sure she does.” Celestia’s image faded when she quickly stepped away from the circle’s edge. She was only gone for a matter of seconds before the light projected her stepping back up to the circle again. “It’s a rare thing for you to call a council meeting, let alone an emergency meeting.”

The crystal cast more beams of light off to Twilight’s left, and the empty space there was filled with an image of Princess Cadance. “I’m sorry, I hope I didn’t keep everyone waiting,” she said.

Twilight glanced to Cadance’s image as she shook her head. “We’re still waiting on everyone to gather.”

“Has something happened?” Cadance asked, the concern in her voice matching with the look on her face.

“Not yet,” Twilight said. She then glanced back to the far right side of the circle when the crystal projected its light there to reveal an image of Princess Luna. “Good morning Luna. Sorry to disturb you this early, I know you probably just got to bed.”

Luna stifled a small yawn as she shook her head. “This must be very important if you are the one calling us all together, Twilight.”

“It is,” Twilight said quietly with a single nod. She then looked off to the far left of the circle when the crystal projected its light there and revealed an image of Spike. He was right in the middle of a wide-open yawn that he was attempting to cover up. “There you are. I was beginning to wonder if you were going to join us.”

Spike attempted to shake off the yawn with a quick shake of his head. After unfolding his wings for a good stretch, he folded them back just as he crouched down at the edge of the circle and laid himself down so he was resting with his forearms folded on the floor just before him. Lying at the edge of the circle, his image appeared no larger than any of the alicorns gathered around. “Sorry,” he said with a deep grumble as he blinked his tired looking eyes. He then glanced up and around, seeming to notice for the first time that there were others gathered there. “Oh wow, everyone’s here. What’s going on?”

“I have something to tell all of you,” Twilight began. She waited until all attention was on her and then continued. “First, I should probably explain what I’ve been doing recently.” Twilight called upon her magic, using it to reach out to her pocket dimension. She mentally located something she had stored there and pulled it forward, causing a book to appear from a flash of light grasped in her aura. “This is one of my personal journals,” she said as she opened the journal, turning it to a certain page. “Specifically, it’s my account of the events that took place when Spike and I traveled to Equestria’s alternate timeline. I happened across it on a shelf in my library by chance a few weeks ago. What’s strange about that is this journal should have been secured in a vault.”

Spike leaned his head and scratched just along the edge of his ear fins with a single claw. “You sure you didn’t just lose track of it? I mean, that thing has to be... what, a few hundred years old?”

“It’s been over three hundred and fifty years,” Twilight said. She glanced up from the journal’s pages to Spike. “And yes, at first I thought that perhaps I’d just accidentally had it reshelved with the rest of my books.”

Twilight’s horn briefly lit again, and the magic circle around the room sent another pulse of light rippling toward the crystal at the center. Light beams quickly scanned over the journal, and then Twilight made a quick gesture with one forehoof that caused projected mirror images of the journal to fan out across the room. One projection of the journal stopped at a hover before each of the others gathered around the circle. “After rediscovering this journal, I decided that I would make an attempt at constructing Dusk.”

“Your celestial weapon,” Celestia said thoughtfully as she looked over the projected copy of the journal open before her. She glanced up from the journal, looking to Twilight as she said, “So this is what you have been busy with.”

“Yes, and I’ve made good progress but it still isn’t complete.” Twilight glanced about at the others around the circle before letting out a long sigh. She began to use her magic to quickly flip through the remaining blank pages to reach the end of the journal, a motion that was mirrored by all of the projected copies. “What actually has me concerned is what I found on the last few pages of my journal this morning.” Twilight stopped at the very last page, and then used her magic to turn the journal over to make the last page appear as if it were the first.

For a moment, there was nothing but silence from the others as they read the page. “Whoa,” Spike finally commented in a low, quiet breath.

“Twilight,” Luna said, quickly looking toward her from the journal’s page. She furrowed her brow as she said, “This is temporal magic.”

Twilight closed her eyes and slowly nodded her head. “Yes, it is.”

Luna looked back to the page before her. “But, the study of temporal magic is forbidden, except when approved by all members of the Elder Council.”

“And I’m very aware of that, since I was the one to propose the law.” Twilight used her magic to turn the page, revealing the rest of the spell. “Still, I have reason to believe that I am the one who wrote this spell.”

“Twilight,” Celestia said with a stern edge on her voice. “The law applies equally to all, including us,” she said as she laid a forehoof against her chest.

Twilight quickly grimaced. “Maybe I should have said that I believe I will write it.”

“It says to bring Dusk and the Elements,” Cadance said. She squinted her eyes at the page before her, and then glanced up to the others in the room as she pointed a hoof at the page. “It’s written at the very end.”

Spike let a low grumble echo through his throat as he squinted at the page. “Twi, that’s your writing,” he said as he glanced over to Twilight.

“Yes, it is.” Twilight glanced about to the others, seeing them all looking to her for some sort of explanation. She looked at the pages of the open journal before her. “I believe this spell was somehow written here by my future self, though I don’t have anything other than circumstantial evidence to prove that.” Twilight’s magic closed the journal, and the mirrored copies blinked out. She held it in her magic to her side so the front cover faced toward the others. “This journal was inexplicably out of place in my library, and I am the only one who can gain access to the vault it should have been in. Two sets of coordinates are included on the page after the spell, which itself requires an origination point and a destination point to work. One of the coordinates is tomorrow, in the Everfree Forest.”

“Tomorrow?” Spike said as he suddenly sat up a bit taller.

“Yes, and I don’t believe that to be a coincidence for a single second. There’s just one last thing that I need to verify.” Twilight glanced over toward Luna’s image. “Luna, did you happen to notice my dream last night?”

Luna seemed taken aback by the sudden question, her ears quickly laying back when all attention shifted toward her. However, her serious demeanor returned after only a few seconds. “I was occupied elsewhere. Pray tell us, what does this have to do with your journal?”

“So, you didn’t sense a nightmare,” Twilight said, more as a statement than a question.

Luna stood there silently for a moment before finally saying, “I did not.”

Twilight nodded her head as she lowered her gaze to the floor before her. She closed her eyes and took in a deep, calming breath before looking back up to the others around the circle. “Before I woke up this morning, I dreamed of Equestria disappearing.” Twilight gave her statement a few seconds to sink in, and it didn’t take any longer than that. The others around the room all quickly glanced around to each other seeming worried or even shocked, almost as if to make sure they had all heard the same thing. When all eyes turned back to Twilight, she continued. “I believe I have received a warning of what may happen unless we act to stop it. I also believe that this spell is part of the message. In light of what I have discovered so far, I have a request that I would like to make of this council.”

Spike’s image sat up so he was perched upon his hind legs. “You know we’ll do whatever we can to help,” he said as he crossed his arms across his chest and gave Twilight a confident grin.

“Of course we will!” Cadance said as she quickly glanced about the circle, to which the rest nodded to her. She looked to Twilight and asked, “What do you need us to do?”

Twilight smiled for a few seconds, but the smile fell from her face to be replaced by the look of determination. “I need the Elder Council... to grant me permission to use temporal magic.” Another round of shocked looks passed between the others before all eyes looked to Twilight again. Her eyes trailed down to the journal that she held in her aura just before her. She reached a forehoof up and touched it lightly against the blank cover.

“I have to go back.”