• Published 11th Nov 2011
  • 1,645 Views, 19 Comments

Descent Into Shadows - Golden Hoof

Struggling with amnesia, a colt struggles to rediscover his identity in a dangerous world...

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We passed through the doorway into a dimly lit hallway. The silence that met us was as still and cold as death; I couldn’t even hear the storm raging outside. The mare looked back, edging me on. “We’re almost there,” she said. “It’s just over here.”

Our footsteps echoed around us as we pushed onward, driving ever deeper into the unknown. As we turned the third corner, a moment of uncertainty passed. Slowly, I began to trail further and further behind, my head filled with questions. “Um… Where are we going, exactly?” I asked timidly, struggling to keep up.

“The library,” She said without looking back.

“Why there?” I pressed, still curious.

“It’s probably the safest place we can be right now.”

“Sorry if I’m not entirely convinced.”

“You’re just going to have to trust me,” She said, glaring. “Not that you have much of a choice otherwise.” Before I had a chance to respond, she shot ahead, broadening the gap between us.

No matter how paranoid I was, she was right; I didn’t really have many other options besides going back to die at the hooves of whatever I saw in the doorway. I sighed and picked up the pace. After a few minutes of catching up, the mare finally stopped at the end of the line; a lone door ornately decorated in symbols from a strange, obscure culture. “Here we are,” she said, pulling the latch. “I give you; our sanctuary.”

I stepped through the seemingly ordinary entrance, amazed at what I saw: A massive circular antechamber, bathed in a beautiful golden light coming from dozens of candles that floated over my head. Shelves lined the walls and filled the room before me, each holding hundreds upon thousands of books of every shape and size imaginable. I stumbled forward, barely able to contain myself. The unicorn stepped beside me, gazing around in awe. “Amazing isn’t it?” She said, a gleaming smile of anticipation spread across her face.

“I admit; it’s a bit more than I expected.”

“I had a feeling you’d be impressed. I was just as surprised as you when I found this place. There’s a nice spot over there where we can rest.” She said, disappearing into the maze of shelves. I followed in tow, though I had no difficulty keeping pace this time. Every so often she would stop to grab a few, select books from a shelf. At times she seemed overwhelmed. I didn’t blame her. I even found myself scanning the shelves every so often as we passed by. After a short while, we reached the edge of the library; a small space set aside for private reading with a few chairs and a small end table. She pulled up a seat, laying her impressive collection of books aside as she folded her legs together, staring expectantly at me. “You said you had some questions. So ask away.”

I shook the haze of awe from my head, snapping back to reality. “Oh right, the questions. Ok… I think a good start would be the subject of what the hay is going on around here?”

“You know, I’m not really sure.” Twilight answered blankly. “Everything was perfectly normal until you came along; well, about as ‘normal’ as this place can be.”

“Are you saying I had something to do with this?”

“No, not at all.” She said, calmly setting down her book. “Look, I have as much of a clue on what’s happening as you do. I can’t be sure if you’re involved or not, but I just can’t rule you out as a suspect.”

“So it’s an issue of trust then?”

“We’re not here to debate trust."

I sighed, slumping against the wall. “Alright... next question I suppose. Where are we? How did we get here?”

“That, I do have an answer to. We’re in an old castle called Time Manor: It was built long ago as a gift for the Grand Mage Clockwork. It's passed through several hoofs over the years, but now it’s ‘supposedly’ abandoned. I came here to investigate possible instances of dark magic.”

“All by yourself?”

“Yes, why?”

“Then how did I get here?”

“Not sure. You must have been here some time before I arrived, because it looked pretty abandoned a few hours ago.”

“Alright… I think I have one last question. Do you have any idea who I am?”

“Nope, sorry, you don’t ring any bells.” She answered hurriedly. “What, you don’t know your own name?”

“Are you sure you don’t recognize me from anywhere?” I asked again, pressing the question. “Just think for a second; you’ve never seen me around before?”

“I’ve told you everything I know already, isn’t that enough?” she said, deflecting the question.

“Alright, never mind then…”

“Now then, is that it, or do you have any other questions?”

“Actually yes… Do you recognize this symbol?” I said, flashing the diary from my pack. "It's the same symbol as my cutie mark, but I don't recognize it from anywhere. Maybe you can shed some light."

She squinted, taking a closer look at the torn diary. “Hmm… I can’t say for certain, but it looks like ancient Sumarean. Or maybe its Ponyptian..."

"Ugh... never mind. Thanks for answering my questions and all, but I think I'm gonna have a look around. Maybe i'll find something out on my own.

“Be careful.” She said, diving into another book. “We may be safe for now, but it could easily go the other way if we’re not careful. Try not to wander too far off.”

I rolled my eyes and stepped through the gap between two shelves. As I walked through the narrow paths scattered around the library, I started scanning the shelves. If I was lucky I could find something interesting, maybe keep myself occupied. It was about halfway down the third shelf that I noticed something strange. I began naming the books automatically, without even looking at the titles. I stepped back and checked off a shelf at random, naming each book left to right with ease. “What the hell is going on…?”

It wasn’t just for that one shelf either. Everywhere I went, I found myself naming books from the shelves without even reading the spine. Some had no title to begin with. I pulled them off as I named them, double checking the cover, and I was right every single time. Even their weight felt familiar. I was checked the title of the last book on the shelf and stopped. I looked back to where I started. Hundreds upon hundreds of books between me and Allie, and I could recite them purely from memory. A sickening feeling began to rise my chest. “How… how is this even possible? It isn’t… It shouldn’t be… without years of learning…” Then, a thought hit me: maybe I had been here before.

I slipped into a trance, wandering aimlessly between shelves as familiarity began to settle in. I had been here before, though it seemed like a millennia ago. The distance in time made it seem unreal. I saw myself reaching out for book after book, painstakingly memorizing page after page of details, desperately searching for knowledge. No matter what I did was never good enough. There was always more, always more ground to cover, something else to learn. I was chasing after someone… And I was close…

Suddenly, I snapped back to reality. My entire body was frigid and shivering. I opened my eyes and glanced around. I was no longer in the Library. No, this was something much different.

Books had always been a big part of Twilight's life. They were her sanctuary from the real world; a place she could go just to be alone. Things seemed calmer, more planned out. They also helped to distract her from a few particularly troublesome issues. The stallion and his array of questions, for instance, was one such problem. He knew she lied about something, or at least, a part of him did. It wouldn’t be long now before he came back, pressing for the real answer. Hopefully this wouldn’t happen. She sighed and flipped to the next page. Things weren’t going well, not well at all. It was only a matter of time before he figured it out, and then… She already knew the answer to that question, but now wasn’t the time for that. Twilight squinted to read in the dim light when suddenly, a shadow arced across her page. She glanced up for a moment; expecting to see that stallion, back again for answers. Instead, she found someone completely different.

Hourglass stood a few feet away, a cold smile etched across his face. “I thought I’d find you here.” He said. Twilight jumped from her seat, taking a few eager steps back. “Please try to remain calm.” He continued, taking a warmer tone. “I have no intention of harming you.”

Twilight paused, glaring at him. “Why are you here?”

“To converse with a friend of course, what other reason could I have for coming to visit my favorite mare?” Hourglass said, grinning as he set his book on the pile Twilight had created earlier. “May I have a seat?” he asked. She gave no response, staring back as coldly as he had before. He chuckled, taking his place in the unicorn's chair. “So, why don’t you start us off, Twilight? What’s running through your mind?”


“Yes… just as I thought. Let me guess, not what you were expecting eh?” he joked tossing his book aside. “I bet Celestia didn’t prepare you for this scenario. She never was a pony of foresight, you know. She always tried to do the right thing as things appeared. I can see she passed her flaws on to her student.”

“I don't know what you're trying, but it won't work on me Hourglass.”

"What ever could you possibly mean?"

"All these questions, the jabs at Celestia; you're trying to provoke me. I'm going to stop you now and tell you that it won't work."

"Ugh, you're no fun Twilight." Hourglass said, rolling his eyes. "Fine, to show you my good faith, I'll let you ask the questions... for now."

"When are you letting us out of here?" she began, jumping at the opportunity to get some answers.

“Good question. Not until I’m finished with my business I suppose. You’ll be fine, to say the least. I can’t say the same for your friend, however.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s none of your concern.”

“I thought you were answering my questions?”

“No, we’re conversing. There is a big difference. It would be good for you to learn it.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Whatever.”

“It would be wise to show your host some respect, little pony. Getting on my bad side is certainly not your best option.”

“You know what? I couldn’t care less about you! Why are you holding us here?! Why won’t you let us leave?!

“So much hostility from such a naïve mare; what is wrong in having a conversation with a friend?”

“You’re not my ‘friend’,” she spat. “And stop trying to be so polite; your little façade isn’t going to work on me.”

“And to think I thought we could be friends. For some reason, I’m getting the feeling that you really don’t feel kind towards me. What have you been told? What did your teacher say about me?”

“I don’t have to tell you anything.”

“True, true, all part of the conversation I suppose, but isn’t it much more fun to share things you know with other people? I mean, I’m sure your friend would love to know why you’re really here…”

“How do you know-?

“I’m insulted Twilight!” Hourglass gasped. “You really think me so ignorant that I would just invite guests to my humble home without knowing a thing or two about them in advance? Of course I know why you’re here; I knew the moment you took a step through my doors what your true intentions were. What confuses me, however, is why you didn’t follow through with your objective when it was staring you right in the face… Unless... What did Celestia say?”

“I…” Twilight stuttered. “… She told me enough.”

“Go on.”

“She told me what happened to you… all the pain… I can’t imagine what it was like.”

“Your pity is wasted on me.” He replied stoically.

“I didn’t think it would…” she said, lowering her head. “Maybe what she said is true then.”

“She said more? Tell me.”

Twilight tried to glance away, looking off to the side.

“It’s not polite to look away when someone is talking to you.” Hourglass said, tilting Twilight’s head back towards him. “Now as I said before; please continue.”

“I- I didn’t think it was possible. Celestia said you couldn’t be saved, no matter how much compassion or effort you were given. I didn’t believe her. Everyone should have a second chance, right? Looking at you now though, I see that she was right… You really are lost… Incapable of emotion or rational thought; mind set on a single, unachievable goal that so far has only brought you more loneliness and pain.”

Hourglass fell silent. Something passed through his eyes, but only for an instant. “Not yet… but…” He turned away. “I have one last question for you before you go running off, Twilight.”

“What is it?”

“There comes a time in everyone’s life when we must make a choice; one that will define our future existence and change the outlook of our entire lives.” He paused, as though in deep thought. “This singular choice is defining and irreversible… for better or for worse.”

“What are you saying?”

He paused, turning back. “Tell me, Twilight, who do you care about the most in this world?”

“My friends.” she said instinctively

“Now, tell me; what would you do to save them if they were in trouble? How far would you go, how far would you fall?”

“I would do whatever it takes.”

“What if it meant doing something terrible? Is the price of but a select few worth that of possibly a hundred other people? Maybe thousands?”

“I… don’t know.”

“It really is something to think about, isn’t it? One could spend hours, maybe even days pondering such questions. I know some who spent months to no avail. They bring out the worst in us; show us that a dark side really exists in every person, no matter how pious or kind they may be. We are so easily corrupted; so easily dissuaded from the truth…”

“Why are you telling me all this?”

“All in due time, little, naive pony... for now, just think of it as a lesson to mull over. One you should soon understand. I want you to think about what I’ve told you here. Take it to heart, and perhaps, take a glimpse at how you should see the world.”

"Ok... if that's what it takes to get out of here, then fine. I'll consider your words, no matter how twisted and vile they may be."

He chuckled. "As I thought you would." As he turned to leave, he glanced back on last time. “Oh, and on the subject of Rune, don’t worry about him. If everything I’ve done here pays off soon... well, let's just say that he will be well taken care of. That I promise." And suddenly, in a flash, he was gone, though the air still felt chilled from his presence.

Again, silence filled the room. Twilight returned to her seat, still processing the event. “What has happened to you Hourglass?”

I was in what I could only guess had once been someone’s study. The room I awoke in and this place were much the same. Light came from two candles lit on either walls, and though light was scarce, it was clear someone else had gotten here before me. Books had been ripped from their shelves and thrown across the room from toppled bookshelves. Floorboards that were ripped from the framework were piled in a corner near the lone desk like firewood. I kicked up stray papers lying around my feet as I crept further in the room.

“Well, somebody was looking for something…” I thought, scanning the room. A desk across the room caught my attention. It was, as far as I could tell, the only thing around that hadn’t been completely ransacked.

I stepped over to it, taking a seat behind it, wiping a fine layer of dust from its finished surface. The glossy overcoat beneath still shone in the candlelight. I casually searched the room from my spot, and a sense of familiarity began to settle in. I had been here before as well, though the memories seemed a bit clearer. Instinctively, I reached down and opened the bottom cabinet. Inside, buried under a pile of letters, was a small box. I pulled it out and set on the desktop. It was beige, tied neatly with a green bow. A note clung loosely to the package by a string. Nervously, I flipped open the message, quickly reading over it.

Happy birthday Rune! I hope this gift helps you bring light to your darkest hour.

~Love, Mystique

The same, sickening feeling from earlier filled my stomach. “That name… That is… my name? Isn’t it?” I read over the note again, mouthing the words over and over again. Rune… Rune… it wasn’t familiar, but it fit. I drifted off from one word to the other, finally landing on the name attached to the message, Mystique… This one was different. I felt as though I knew that name, but couldn’t grasp it. I could only picture it in my head. I closed my eyes and a faded picture began to form; bright, sky blue eyes, light hair, and a smile that glowed as brilliantly as the sun… looking at the beautiful image before me filled my icy soul with a warmth previously unknown. It was only there for a moment, before it suddenly vanished.

I opened my eyes, wiping away a tear. Was I crying? I shook my head, turning my attention back to the package. I carefully tore the bow, lifting up the top. Inside was a lantern, intricately engraved with symbols that seemed to shift and shimmer in the dim light. I studied it with awe, testing its weight. As it lifted it from the table, something fell out of the bottom, clattering lightly against the wooden surface. “Hello, what do we have here?” I reached out for whatever it was when suddenly, Twilight burst through the door behind me. Before I had the chance to utter a word, her hand was over my mouth. Her face was frozen in a look of sheer horror. Suddenly, a pair of heavy footsteps emanated from just beyond the door.

“We need to hide.” she whispered, panic rising in her voice. “Now!”

Author's Note:

If you see any mistakes and such, point it out in the comments and I'll get right to it. Thanks for your time.

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Comments ( 4 )
Comment posted by deleted Mar 17th, 2013
Comment posted by Lucefudu deleted Mar 17th, 2013

So how's that rewright coming?

Too bad this never was picked up again in more than five years, this had so much potential to explore interesting topics in a great setting with intriguing characters that seemed perfect for this kind of story.

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