• Published 13th May 2015
  • 2,211 Views, 104 Comments

The Return of Sunset Shimmer - Never2muchpinkie

Sunset returns through the portal when it opens again, wanting to make amends for the past. However, things get complicatred when she discovers a familiar dark artifact. Lured by a promise of power, can Twilight save her from herself a second time?

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Chapter 7: Great power

“Celestia is going down!” Sunset said sharply, “For me, and for all the ponies lives she endangered.”

“That’s the spirit!” said the Alicorn Amulet.

“Starswirl, I promise to avenge you and use your power for the betterment of others.”

“No, no, no,” he responded. “I must ask you not to call me Starswirl. I discarded that name long ago, but you wouldn’t have understood who I was if I didn’t say it. I certainly don’t want Celestia’s false 'honor' that she named a section of the Canterlot library for.”

“Oh, okay,” Sunset replied, shrugging. “Well, what should I call you then?”

“Call me Stardust Flare.”

“Well, it’s similar enough. I don’t think I’ll forget it.”

“There’s just one last thing to do before Celestia arrives tomorrow.”

"What’s that?” asked Sunset. “I’ll do whatever it takes to make her pay for everything she’s done.”

“Fighting two alicorns at once is a bit much, even for me. And so… you must KILL Twilight Sparkle!”

“WHAT?” Sunset said, her voice cracking. Her anger immediately lessened, replaced by fear.

“No!” she said firmly. “Absolutely not! She saved me from myself, and she offered to be my friend when everyone else wasn’t willing to give me a chance. She showed me to friends I could trust that have brought so much joy and happiness to my life. Kill Twilight? She hasn’t done anything wrong.” Her face scrunched up, an eye closing. “I can’t. I won’t!”

‘Shoot!’ Stardust thought, feeling the huge shift in her emotions. ‘I got too excited and moved too fast. She’s fighting my control. I have to do something quick before I lose her.’ After musing for a few seconds he got an idea. ‘Ah! That will do it. Sunset needs to see me as an ally. I can’t take back what I just said, so why not push forward?’

To Sunset he said in a stern voice, “So what then? Will you do nothing and allow Celestia to get away with her crimes?”

“Didn’t I just get finished telling you before I don’t want things to be the way they were in the past? Celestia is my only target. I don’t want there to be any peripheral victims.”

“And I told YOU that Twilight is being controlled by Celestia and that she has no sense of self anymore but what Celestia wants. Would you want to live a life like that? If you leave Twilight alone and try to fight Celestia then Twilight will join in, obviously. Do you think you can fight two alicorns simultaneously, and avoid harming Twilight at all? She must be taken care of before Celestia arrives, or this will come to nothing! Don’t you get that?”

“I DON’T CARE!” Sunset shouted. The glow from the jewel grew steadily dimmer. “Twilight means more to me than anything. I won’t betray her, not even if it makes fighting Celestia harder. Magic fades when the user is unconscious or dead. If I can just kill Celestia Twilight should be freed from her control.”

“And do you really think you have that capacity? You’re not going to ruin everything. I’ve been waiting for far too long for a suitable host to help me get my revenge on Celestia, and you’re not going to screw this up by taking such an enormous risk. I’m stronger than you. If I have to I can just take over your body and force you to do what is necessary, whether you like it or not.”

“Just try it!” Sunset said angrily as she felt that same cold dread when she had first picked up the Amulet. “I won’t let you have my body. I put on this amulet to PROTECT my friends! I won’t use it to hurt them!”

“So that’s your final answer?” he replied, rage filling his voice. “You’re that determined, are you? You won’t attack Twilight no matter what? Even if it means not having my power?”

Sunset could see the Amulet wasn’t what she thought it was. She lifted her hoof to take it off but halfway there it halted. She could feel odd sensations going through her body, and especially in her hoof. It was hard to explain how it felt. It was like a weight on her soul, like what she was inside was slowly being supplanted, like an intruder in her mind chipping away at what made her who she was.

She gritted her teeth, trying to lift her hoof to the amulet but her own body was fighting her. “I… won’t… let… you… control… me! I won’t… hurt… Twilight!” Her face was bright red and sweat was pouring down her face with her exertion, but her hoof was slowly reaching upward, despite the Amulet’s attempts to stop her. “Twilight… is… my… hero!”

The spirit let out a relieved sigh. “Thank goodness.”

The pressure on Sunset suddenly faded, and she felt it retreat from her. Her body was in her control again, but she was too surprised by his abrupt withdrawal to remove the amulet now that she had free reign again. “Thank goodness?” she repeated, panting slightly.

“Forgive me, Sunset, for putting you through that, but I had to know. I had to know which way you’d choose. This kind of power is awe-inspiring, and in the wrong hooves could lead to disaster. I was betrayed by someone I thought was a friend. How could I lend my power to a pony that would do the same? How could I give incredible powers to another, only to have them turn out to be another Celestia?”

Sunset blinked, still panting a little. “You mean that was just a test?”

“Yes. Your loyalty to your friends is impressive. The truth is that I can’t truly make you do anything. Even if I take over your body you’d only allow me to do the things that you would do anyway. If I tried to force you to do something that conflicted with your values then your will would reassert itself.”

In an encouraging voice he continued, “You should be proud of yourself, Sunset Shimmer. Your big fear was what you would do with tremendous power. Your strong convictions wouldn’t allow you to sacrifice those you care about simply for power and status. If your friends meant nothing to you then I would easily have been able to control you, but you fought to your utmost to protect them. And isn’t that what you sought out to prove when you returned here?”

Sunset looked around the clearing, not really seeing it. “I… I did. I… I have changed. I did my best to help out those I care for.” She smiled, her heart feeling light, a few tears coming down her eyes.

“I’m relieved. After being betrayed by Celestia I didn’t think I could ever trust anyone again. I’m convinced now that you are the pony I’ve been waiting for, the one who will help my dreams come true. Once you take care of Celestia I’d be honored to continue lending you my power, even after I help you become an alicorn. Now that you’ve shown you can resist the lure of power for selfish motives I believe you can handle that immense power.”

Sunset’s smile faded. “Celestia…” Her bright mood and the joy of success washed away. “Do I really have to kill her? Can’t I just lock her away somewhere?”

Stardust quietly growled, thinking, ‘In order to maintain my good standing with her I had to act as a friend. Even if it was necessary now her anger has diminished, so her higher thought processes are coming back, and her natural reluctance to disturb the harmony of things is returning.

‘Hmm. I think it’s best for now to back off. It’s not Celestia that I have to work on. That test just now confirmed it. It’s her bond with her friends that is making it hard to sway her to my side. Priorities, though. I need her to trust me and see me as just as good a friend as the rest of them.’

“Sunset, you’ve seen what’s happened to all of Celestia’s enemies that she simply locked away. They’ve returned, hundreds of years later, causing pain and suffering for others. However, if we can just find a way to remove Celestia’s power then there may be a chance. And then maybe Twilight will be freed too. We could get through this with no one dying. That would be wonderful.”

Sunset wore a sad smile. “Yeah, that would be great.”

“Anyway, let’s worry about the details later. You’ve proven yourself to me, so now I will teach you the prototype spell for alicorn transformation.”

That caught Sunset’s attention. “Prototype spell?”

“Yes. When a pony is transformed into an alicorn it causes a dramatic shift in that pony. They gain a pair of wings and their body’s capacity for generating magic increases massively. This spell was my early attempt at becoming an alicorn. You’ll be granted a pair of wings. However, all it will do will allow you the power of flight. It won’t increase your magic capacity. You’ll still have to rely on me for that for now.”

“I understand,” Sunset replied, nodding.

“Very well. Relax your consciousness.”

Sunset felt him intruding into her mind again. However, it didn’t feel nearly as unpleasant as before. For a few seconds she fought, but her curiosity got the better of her, and she allowed him in. She reasoned that she could fight him off again if he tried to do anything suspect.

She sat down, putting her hooves together. It was odd seeing her body moving without her doing it, like she was just a spectator looking through the eyes of another.

Her horn began to glow a bright dark red. In the air in front of her an outline of a pencil began drawing. It quickly sketched a pair of wings before a paint bucket appeared, splashing them with her color. The wings came toward her, and she felt a weight on her back.

He withdrew from her mind, saying, “Well? What do you think?”

Sunset looked behind her, seeing her new wings. Her eyes lit up. “Oh, wow! This is so awesome!” She went to the small watering hole and looked at her reflection. “I really look like an alicorn now.” She flapped them a few times. They looked just slightly off.

“I can sense your confusion. What you’re seeing, Sunset, are not true wings. They’re basically solidified energy. They’ll act like real wings, but they’re not quite the same. Pegasi magic naturally allow for flight. However, it usually takes a lot of practice to become proficient. These wings, since they run on a different mechanic, should present you little difficulty. You have to use your will to control them, as they’re not truly a part of your body the way wings are to a pegasus.”

Sunset looked behind her again, concentrating. She began to flap her wings hard, willing herself to leave the ground. It took a few seconds until she mustered up the necessary force to defy gravity and lift herself up.

“Whoa!” Sunset exclaimed, hovering a few feet off the air. She began experimenting, going in a circle a few times. She was surprised at how easy it came to her. Once she became comfortable she flew up higher. She was planning to soar as high as she could, but just before she cleared the tree tops she felt her body stop as the spirit took control of her. “W-what are you doing?” she complained.

“Use your head, you fool. You don’t want to be spotted in the open air. You don’t have wings, remember? Anyone could see you and notice you, and then the game will be up. I don’t care if you practice. Have fun with it, but you mustn’t be seen.” He withdrew from her.

“Spoilsport,” she said under her breath, but she couldn’t stay mad as she continued experimenting with her new wings. She flew around in fast circles, causing a small tornado. She did flips and twirls and spins. She couldn’t test her straight line speed since she wasn’t allowed to clear the tree tops to use the open air. However, she had fun swerving around trees.

When she began to get a little tired she landed on the ground, wiping her face. “Phew! That was intense. I think I’m actually feeling a little jealous of pegasi. They get to have so much fun.

“I’m surprised.” She looked behind her, giving her wings a few flaps. “I know you said it would be different for me, but it comes so naturally to me it felt like I was always meant to be a pegasus.”

“Or an alicorn?” added in the spirit slyly.

Sunset giggled. “Maybe.”

“Those are enchanted wings, designed to bring out the maximum capabilities of the user. As a unicorn and a bit old at the time of my sealing I didn’t want to get my wings only to be crashing around into everything. Since they don’t have all the bones and skin and hinges that true wings have they can change position as needed to better catch the wind and thus keep you airborne. They’re also designed to flap perfectly in sync, another cause of crashes in new fliers. Finally, they have a built-in anti-crash charm. If you get hit and are stunned while in the air they will automatically flap to keep you from smashing into the ground. Of course if you’re knocked unconscious by an attack it will only stop the crash. It can’t protect you from anything else.”

“This is absolutely amazing!” She hopped around a little, giggling like a filly. “I really have wings! I’m one step closer to my ultimate dream.”

“Yes, you are. Listen, Sunset. It’s late, and that zebra will be wondering where you’ve gotten off to if you don’t hurry up. You can practice magic in the morning. And speaking of…”

He entered her again. She didn’t fight him. There was a flash from her horn, then a sound like breaking glass. The weight on her back vanished, and she quickly looked behind her to see her wings dissolving into pieces and falling to the ground before vanishing. “HEY!” she complained. “What did you do that for?”

“Use your head, girl. You don’t have wings. How many times do I have to tell you that? That zebra will find it odd that you somehow went from a unicorn to an alicorn over the course of an hour. You won’t be flying while you’re sleeping anyway. Once we leave in the morning I’ll give them back. Don’t worry so much. We’re friends, remember?”

Sunset frowned. “Yeah, I guess so.”

“Oh, stop moping. You won’t betray your friends, so I won’t betray you either. I don’t know if you know this, but this amulet was enchanted so only its user can take it off. I wouldn’t lend you my power if you didn’t earn my trust.”

Sunset just shrugged, looking longingly behind her.

The spirit lightly sighed. “You’re a pain, you know that? Buuuuut… I can’t say I don’t understand your feelings. I too longed for alicornhood and had it torn away from me. Damn Celestia!”

He sighed again. “Very well. I’ll let you play for a little longer, but then you have to go back. We don’t want the zebra to come looking and see you.”

Sunset gasped, her body twitching as power seeped into her being. It was mind-blowing. A bright glow came from her horn. She had to release it, or she thought she’d break in two. She focused it ahead of her, seeing magic far greater than she had ever mustered before shoot from her horn.

It shot forward, obliterating a number of trees in its path before it came to a stop as the spirit took control of her again and severed the flow of magic.

Sunset just stood there, shock on her face, panting just a little. It had to have destroyed almost fifty trees. “Whoa,” she said in a subdued voice, far detached from her actual feelings. She had actually felt it. POWER! True power. Power that eclipsed anything she had seen by anyone other than the princess or the Elements of Harmony. And that was only supposed to be a sample, allowing her to “play around.” If she could harness its full power, along with a true alicorn upgrade… nothing would ever be able to stand in her way again. She would always be able to protect her friends, no matter the danger.

Sunset was shaking, both intrigued and frightened at what she could accomplish with that level of power. “So much power,” she said, her expression vacant. “So… much… power.”

Once again the glow from the jewel began to increase. The spirit gently laughed to itself. ‘There we go. She’s starting to grow obsessed with power like before, disguising it underneath the desire to use it to protect others.’

To Sunset he said, “You need to learn to focus. In order to be compatible with my power you have to trust me more. I lent you my power as a gesture of good faith so you could experiment a little before we returned. However, you resisted that energy, and it flowed in the opposite direction of your natural flow, making you feel like you were being crushed by it, and you threw it off, carelessly firing it. In order for you to use my energy properly you must flow in the same rhythm as it, like an extension of yourself.

“We can deal with that in the morning, though. For now, move over.”

He took control of her body again, her horn glowing bright as before her eyes the trees reassembled themselves like time was going backwards, but only for those specific objects.

Once the trees were back he left her body, Sunset once more just standing there enraptured by the kind of power at her disposal.

“You remember how I was testing you and telling you to kill Twilight? How did it feel when I was trying to control you?”

“Yucky,” Sunset responded, shaking her head at what she just saw. “Like bugs and worms crawling around in my body.”

“And now it doesn’t, right? Because our goals are merging, thus you’re allowing me in because you’re choosing so. This latest time you already have come to recognize my touch and are coming to trust me with your body, so you don’t fight. That’s a good start, but for you to really manage my power we need even better unity. The same way that you let me into your body you need to trust in my power and believe that it won’t destroy you.

“When I transfer energy over to you than you have to WANT that power. You have to WANT to use it. Otherwise, your body will reject it, just like it did before. I suppose it was to be expected, maybe. After all, you probably assumed from my words I was going to give the wings back. I didn’t explain that I was going to allow you to experiment with my magic.

“You showed before that you can resist the lure of power if it would endanger the innocent or your friends. Thus, you have no need to be afraid of wanting power. Wanting the strength to protect those you care about is a beautiful and noble thing, so there’s really no reason you should reject my power, is there?”

“There shouldn’t be…” Sunset walked over to the pond, looking down at her reflection, seeing a scared pony looking back at her. “I… I don’t know if I can trust myself with that level of power. I do want to use it to protect my friends, but…” Her reflection seemed to change from her pony self to the demon she became when she put on the Element of Magic. “What if I can’t control it? What if I go crazy like before? I could lose myself and become power obsessed and that could lead me to hurting those I love.” A tear dripped down into the pond, sending ripples through the water. “I wouldn’t be able to stand it if that happened.”

“Sunset,” Stardust said in a concerned voice, “do you trust me?”

It took her a while to respond. “Yes,” she finally said.

“Don’t be afraid, Sunset Shimmer. I am here to help you. I am stronger than you. I’m not saying that to brag. It’s just a fact. And just as I can’t force you to do anything you won’t do, the same holds true in reverse. You can’t make me do what I don’t want to do. My power is only at your disposal so long as I will it to be that way. So if you become obsessed with power and try to use it to subjugate others in a cruel way, or become reckless and begin attacking ponies at random, then I will cut off my support and leave you only with your modest unicorn powers, and the likes of the princesses and the Elements will easily be able to handle you then.

“Don’t worry so much. I consider you a friend. I won’t allow you to lose yourself. I’ll help keep you on the right path so you don’t wind up like Celestia. Alright?”

Sunset shivered slightly, wiping her face as she cried. She got a sudden mental image of a stallion giving her the same kind of warm, encouraging smiles she got from her other friends. She nodded, saying, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Sunset.”

“Would you like to give it one more try before we head back?”

Sunset looked around uncertainly. “Well… I guess so. If I can’t handle this power I’ll never be able to subdue Celestia, and then we’ll both be sunk.”

Sunset leaned back on her back legs so she was straight, closing her eyes as she began a steady breathing pattern. She thought of all her friends, and her fantasy before of teaming up with Twilight to take down a monster. “I can do this. I have to… for their sake.”

“Are you ready?” Stardust asked.

Sunset gave a quick nod, tensing her body in preparation. Her body twitched as she felt energy begin to flow within her again. Just like when he took over her consciousness it didn’t feel so scary or oppressive the second time around. She kept her eyes closed, trying to rid herself of the feeling of instability in her veins. ‘Wanting power for the right reasons is not a crime,’ she thought to herself.

For a few minutes she remained still, getting used to the increase in power until it began to feel more natural. She opened her eyes, a calm expression on her face as she lifted a hoof and pointed at a tree. A narrow beam came out of her horn, hitting the tree. Before her eyes the tree began shrinking until it was only a sapling.

“Very good, Sunset,” Stardust said, pride in his voice. “You were able to channel and control my power without being overtaken by it.”

Sunset let out a relieved breath, wiping her face of a bead of sweat, beaming from ear to ear. “That was awesome, Stardust! I really did it! I’m learning fast. Soon…” Her gaze grew distant as she envisioned herself on the throne again. She lifted a hoof, looking down at it as she clenched it. “Soon no one will be able to stand in my way.”

There was a flash of the gem, and Stardust giggled to himself like before, thinking, ‘Don’t you want to add to that, Sunset? Something about protecting your friends with that power, not just 'no one being able to stand in your way?'’

“Stardust?” said Sunset, pulling him away from his thoughts.

“Yes?” he replied.

“This is going to sound odd, but I just can’t picture you as Starswirl the Bearded.”

“So you’re calling me a liar?” he responded, an edge in his voice.

“No, no.” She shook her head. “It’s not that. I believe you are who you say. I guess maybe it’s because I’m calling you by a different name but I just can’t picture you being that old. When I try to match your voice to a face I see someone about my age.” Sunset shook her head again, gently laughing to herself. “Oh, forget it. Just ignore me. It’s been a crazy day. I barely know what I’m saying anymore.”

She sighed, wearing a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “I’d like to stay out here and practice all night, but I know that’s not in the cards. Zecora knows the Everfree Forest well, and she’d definitely come to look for me after Twilight told her I’d be staying the night.”

She let out a deeper sigh, and now her smile left too. “Well… I guess… I’ll see you in the morning.” She lifted her hoof to the amulet, pulling at it.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Stardust said, sounding panicked. “What are you doing, Sunset?”

Sunset halted her actions, still holding it slightly away from her body. “You’re the one who got mad at me before for almost blowing my cover with my new wings. I can’t just go into Zecora’s wearing the Alicorn Amulet or she’ll know that I took it. I have to be discreet, right? In the morning we can-”

“No!” he said strongly. “You can’t!”

Sunset looked down at it oddly. “Why are you getting so worked up? It’s not like I’m abandoning you or anything.”

“If you set me down or leave me in a saddlebag or something there’s a chance that I can be stolen or hidden away by someone else. So long as you wear me I can’t be taken away from you. Only together are we at our strongest. Isn’t that the very nature of friendship?”

“Yes, of course, but I still don’t get why you’re so afraid.”

“Sunset,” he said in a strained voice, “I’ve been locked away, fully conscious, for hundreds of years, and no one was eager to keep me for long. You’re the first host I’ve had in over three years. I don’t want to be separated from you. I’m scared that I’m going to lose you if we’re apart. You can’t understand how terrible an existence this is. I’ve been alone for so long. Even if it is just for a night I don’t want to experience that loneliness of solitude for even one more hour when I’ve finally found a friend who shares my values.

“Please,” he begged, sounding on the verge of tears. “I… I don’t want to go back to that cold and lonely place.”

Sunset began to cry herself, his words sounding just like hers. She knew that feeling well. The time she spent in the human world, when she was forced to rely on herself and her own wits, was almost pitch-black, so much so that only the pursuit of knowledge helped to hold off despair.

“I’m sorry,” Sunset said emotionally, wiping her face, but more tears just came pouring down. “I’m sorry you’ve had to go through so much torment.” A strong flash went through the jewel as Sunset’s face narrowed in anger. “Cursed Celestia. So much pain and misfortune, AND FOR WHAT?” She shook in anger. “We should be able to live our lives freely, without being afraid of becoming just a little too much of an inconvenience. It’s not right!” She flashed back to her own past, seeing a kindred spirit, someone who could understand her past. That was why he felt safe opening up to her.

“Calm yourself, Sunset,” he responded gently. “Now is not the time to lose your head. Leave those feelings for tomorrow.”

Sunset felt her anger fading as her thoughts became consumed with pity for Stardust. “I hope you won’t take this the wrong way, but maybe when all this is over and I become an alicorn I could… release you from your prison. If I can just destroy the Alicorn Amulet… you wouldn’t have to suffer anymore, unable to do anything but watch unless someone is wearing you.”

“Oh, Sunset,” he responded gratefully, “you are truly a wonderful child, but I must endure. Who else can educate you and advise you and teach you about the things you need to know as queen? Who else can offer their aid in power should an overwhelmingly powerful force come to call? It’s a sad life being trapped in here, but being able to watch you grow into your best self makes it all worthwhile. Being able to have a host who truly understands me already makes this existence bearable. I don’t feel so lonely as I did before, just from having a single friend.”

Sunset knew that feeling well, thinking of Twilight. With a teary smile she nodded, saying, “Yep!” She got a thoughtful look on her face. “Okay, so I guess I’ll just have to wear my cloak to bed or something.”

With a flash from her horn she summoned her brown traveling cloak, leaving the hood down, and walked back toward Zecora’s house.

When she arrived she saw Zecora walking around the outside, looking for something. It was probably her. “Hey, Zecora!” she called out.

When the zebra saw her she ran over. “Oh, thank goodness you are alright. You gave me such a fright.”

“I’m… I’m fine.”

“Off in the distance I heard something explode. I immediately went into defense mode. I ran back home to check if you were okay. I saw no sign of you, and didn’t know what to say.”

Sunset flushed, remembering her blowing up a bunch of trees when she lost control of the Amulet’s magic. ‘I guess I shouldn’t be surprised she heard it,’ she thought.

“Um… that was me,” she said out loud, awkwardly rubbing her head. “I, um, decided to go for a walk and ran into one of the freaky monsters in the forest. I was so startled I just got a little carried away trying to stop it.”

Zecora gave her a funny look. “I suppose that is a relief. I was shaking like a leaf. Such a commotion in this forest I’ve never heard. My fears of attack have turned out to be absurd.”

Sunset saw that Zecora believed her tale, and her heart began to settle down. She yawned. “Uh, listen, I don’t want to go outside again in the dark so I think I’m just gonna hit the hay. I repaired all the broken stuff as best I could, and I’m sorry for the accident before.”

Zecora smiled at her. “Apology accepted. My tower of respect has been once again erected.”

She went inside her hut and made a makeshift bed for Sunset to use. Once it was finished Sunset bowed her head and said, “Thank you, Zecora.”

She gave a quick nod as she took one of the blankets off her bed and placed it on Sunset’s. “I wish you a healthy rest. A good night’s sleep is always for the best.”

Sunset lay down in her bed as Zecora got into hers. As she got comfortable she let out a troubled breath of the stress that had been building up at different points of the day, especially what awaited her the next day.

She kept tossing and turning, unable to find rest. ‘Is this really the right thing to do?’ she thought heavily. She pictured herself engaging in a magic battle with Celestia.

Stardust spoke to her. “Sunset, are you having doubts again?”

‘Of course I am!’ she thought angrily. ‘Why shouldn’t I?’

“We went over this already. This is for the good of the kingdom. But I’m not going to go over it again right now. When the morning comes you will have to decide whether you’re going to go through with this or not. Don’t exhaust yourself by dwelling on things all night. I just want to see you happy. If you don’t want to do it then I can do nothing to make you.”

Sunset found herself thinking once again of being a true alicorn, of seeing the crowds of ponies bowing in respect and love, cheering her very existence, and a few warm tears came down her face. ‘I don’t know. I just can’t decide right now.’

Her stomach suddenly jolted as she realized something. ‘If… if I do this and everything turns out the way you said it means that I would have to leave my friends in the human world behind. If I rule over Equestria I can’t go back.’

“I already told you I’m asking a lot of you, Sunset, but a ruler must be willing to sacrifice their own wants and needs for the good of their subjects. Once you ascend and become the leader we can work together to undo the damage Celestia has caused and make sure we raise good, kind-hearted ponies with unselfish motives just like us to be the leaders after us. Your friends let you leave with their blessing, understanding that you may decide to stay. If they heard you became a queen and need to be around to rule Equestria then they’d surely understand why you can only visit for three days at a time.”

Sunset turned onto her side, holding her stomach. ‘I can’t think about this right now. I need to sleep.’

“I understand. Be strong, Sunset.” With that he withdrew from her.

Sunset found herself torn again between the two worlds and her two sets of friends. She could always just forget about Equestria and go back to the human world. But if she did that what would happen to Equestria? It would continue to be ruled over by Celestia. Was that really her concern? She thought of Twilight, and she knew the answer was yes.

Twilight pursued her mainly to get the crown with the Element of Magic back, but when she, Sunset, threatened to smash the portal to get Twilight to hand it over she refused. Though it wasn’t her own world she was willing to stay trapped in it for the rest of her life to protect it from being taken over.

Painful as it may be she owed a duty to Equestria to see it safe, if she had the capacity to. She would be doing Twilight a disservice as a friend if she refused to follow her example, as well as let her be used by Celestia.

She hardened her heart. ‘This is the way it has to be. I respect Twilight too much to just let things run their course.’

She let out a heavy breath. Just knowing it was right didn’t make it easy, though it did settle her racing mind and she gradually fell into sleep.

As Sunset began to lightly snore the Alicorn Amulet gently glowed. ‘Finally!’ Stardust thought. ‘Ordinarily it takes a few weeks to properly control a respective host, but I don’t have time for that. If she had taken me off before I would have to start this whole seduction process all over again. I have to overwhelm her mental defenses by tomorrow morning so she’ll do whatever I want, and the fact that she’s going to be dreaming is just perfect. I don’t need to convince her that what she’s seeing is real. I only need to stir her fears into a frenzy and create enough doubt in her friends that she’ll turn to me for relief.’

Stardust gently laughed to himself. ‘The Elements of Harmony are powerful, yes, but not invincible. If they purged the darkness from your heart then I’ll just have to create new darkness to take its place.’

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