• Published 19th Aug 2015
  • 856 Views, 26 Comments

Witchcraft is Magic - wingdingaling

Nightmare Night draws near, and as it does, strange things begin to happen around Ponyville. Scary strangers threaten the town, and things will change for the Cutie Mark Crusaders forever.

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Prologue: A World Apart


A World Apart

Nightmare Night will be upon us soon. But, do you know how it began?

Centuries ago, in a far away land, ponies believed that there was not only the world we live in, but another one that existed on the other side of darkness. They believed that when nighttime came, our worlds would cross over, and the ponies of this world and the creatures from the other world could see one another.

What were these creatures from the other world?

Nopony knows for sure. But, I heard once that they were more terrifying than anything you'd ever seen. They were supposed to be horrible things that were indescribable to the civilized mind. And they were equally malicious.

It was when Nightmare Night drew near that the barrier between our world and theirs would grow thin, and the creatures from the other side could roam freely among the ponies to destroy property, eat animals, and sometimes even steal away young foals who wandered too far away from home at night.

To fool the creatures from the other side, ponies would disguise themselves as one of them, so that they could roam freely at night without fear of being taken away. Others would leave baked goods on their front porches in case the creatures came to wreck their homes. By giving them this treat, they would take their tricks to another place and spare the home that appeased them.

And you'd do well to follow these rules. Because, those who don't will surely be met by these horrors from beyond.

In my day, there was a young stallion who was walking home late one night from his usual bar the way he had always done night after night. But, this night was in the coming weeks of Nightmare Night. And he would soon find that the way home was more dangerous than he could have known.

As he made his way through the back roads of the woods toward his home, the moon went behind a cloud. It was then that he felt a hot pain in his shoulders like he was stuck with a pair of needles that were taken out of a fire.

When he looked ahead, the stallion saw something that made his blood run cold.

There before him, he saw a pair of eyes peering at him from out of the darkness. He would never have seen them, if they weren't glowing the way they were with their eerie light. Past them, he could see the black, darkened form of the creature they belonged to. Even though he couldn't clearly see what it was, he knew it was nothing good.

Those who knew the stallion would call him brave, or foolish, depending on who you asked. But, he knew that when faced with something evil, the worst thing you can do is to turn your back to it.

With a silent prayer to Princess Celestia, he rushed toward the unnatural beast.

As he did, the creature he faced charged its way towards him with a fierce hunger.

The stallion ran, trying to think of a way to survive his encounter.

All he had with him was a box of matches in his pocket. But, that was all he needed. He had been told the same stories as everypony else, and knew that the dark creatures couldn't stand the light.

He took the box out and readied a match.

In only a few more steps, he was close enough to the beast now to feel its hot breath against his face.

The monster had only to lunge for it to get him.

Before it could, the stallion struck the match.

In the split second that the match was lit, it flared brightly, allowing him to see the creature's horrible face as it bellowed in pain and covered its eyes. Seeing the horror's face made the stallion lose his hoofing, and fall off the side of the path into a puddle where his match was doused.

The stallion wasted no time to get back to his hooves, and ran the rest of the way home, not once daring to look back.

He got to his home safe enough, and the monster he faced would only ever be a memory. But for the rest of his life, he cautiously heeded the warnings he'd been given when he was a foal. And he always carried a box of matches at night.

He was lucky to have escaped that night. But, for anypony who doesn't follow the advice of those who know better: they may not be so fortunate.

"Wow! Apple Bloom, you were right. Granny Smith does tell great stories," Scootaloo said.

She and Sweetie Belle only met Apple Bloom earlier that year, and knew nothing of the Apple family tradition of Granny Smith's yearly scary stories that she told every time Nightmare Night came around. It took a little convincing to get them to go to her house to listen, instead of cramming in a little last minute crusading, but a bribe of Granny's apple pie swayed them.

That night, after the pie was eaten, the three fillies gathered in the fire-lit living room of Apple Bloom's house to hear the story that was in store for them.

The idea of facing something evil instead of running away from it nearly overwhelmed the fillies to the point they wanted to stop hearing it. If it were them, they would have ran full throttle in the opposite direction. The only thing that kept them listening was the fear of not knowing how that story ended.

"I told ya it would be better than tryin' to get a comic artist cutie mark," Apple Bloom said as she flaunted the new accessory that she had acquired earlier that day. It seemed though that nopony noticed, having been too engrossed in everything else they were doing up to that point. The current of which was hearing Granny's stories.

"What's the next story?" Sweetie Belle asked. The only scary stories she knew were the ones her older sister told her, but those were always about somepony wearing the wrong colors or accessories with certain articles of clothing. The story that Granny Smith told outscored them by miles.

"I got a million stories, youngun. In all my years, I heard just 'bout every scary story there is. An' let me tell ya: each one of 'em's scarier than the last," Granny Smith answered as she creaked back and forth in her rocking chair by the fireplace.

Apple Bloom knew this to be true. Ever since she was able to remember, she heard stories from Granny that truly terrified her. The only time she felt safe hearing those ones was when her sister or brother were with her to hear them.

At that moment, the front door opened.

"You should tell 'em the one about the ghost that carries his own head on his back. I always liked hearin' how his head was always smilin', an' how his eyes zip around like flies, lookin' in different directions. That's some scary stuff right there," Applejack offered after she walked in through the front door with Winona, the family dog.

She had just finished the day's work in the orchard and was ready to wind down with one of Granny's stories. And she began settling in by dousing the lantern she always carried when it was dark out.

"Eeyup," Big Macintosh added as he walked in after Applejack. As the oldest of the three Apple siblings, he had heard more stories than either of his younger sisters, and even so, he was still scared stiff by a few of them.

"What's your favorite story, Big Macintosh?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"My favorite's one that Granny only told once when me an' Applejack were foals, an' Apple Bloom wasn't born yet," he answered, unusually loquaciously. "The story's 'bout a pony who's goin' a few towns over to visit his mom. But on the way, the folks tell him not to go out at night. Naturally, he doesn't listen. An' while he's walkin' down the road, he meets what looks like a pony. ‘Cept it’s made o' wood, an' it has green eyes an' fangs like a timber wolf."

"Does he get away?" Scootaloo asked nervously.

"Sorry, Scootaloo, but that'd be tellin'," Big Macintosh answered, not wanting to spoil the story.

Apple Bloom had remained silent, hoping that somepony would notice what was different about her. So far though, everypony acted like she looked the same as ever. Even though she was wearing it all afternoon, her friends, nor her family said anything. All except for Winona, who was staring intently at it.

"Isn't anypony gonna ask about my necklace?" Apple Bloom asked aloud, now getting everypony's attention.

Around Apple Bloom's neck was a black choker necklace, made of velvet with a silvery-white satin lace around the edges of it. In the center was a broach that made of silver with red jewels embedded in its surface. Apple Bloom wondered how they could have missed such a thing around her neck, but savored how her friends were marveling at it. But her family had different opinions about it.

"Apple Bloom, where'd ya find that?" Applejack asked, knowing that something like that wouldn't be dropped anywhere by just anypony.

"I found it in town when I was goin' to meet my friends after school today. It was just on the ground by Carousel Boutique," Apple Bloom answered.

That seemed to clear things up for Applejack. From what she could gather, that necklace may have been something that Rarity made to fill some kind of order for a customer.

"In that case: I think ya better try returnin' it to whoever lost it," she told her sister.

Apple Bloom knew that her sister was right, but a part of her didn't want to give up the necklace. When she put it on, she looked at her reflection in a window and saw how beautiful it made her look. After she saw herself with it on, she couldn't imagine herself ever taking it off. Something about it made her feel like it was meant to hold fond memories and become something she would cherish. But now, she was being told that she had to give it up.

"Aw, but I wanna keep it," Apple Bloom protested.

"Only after two weeks. If nopony claims it by then, it's yours. 'Til then: you best be makin' some fliers to put up around town," Applejack answered.

Apple Bloom knew that she could never win an argument with her older sister, so with a sigh, she conceded to Applejack's will.

"Okay. But if somepony gets it back: I wanna see if Rarity can make another one like this," the filly said.

"Will do, sugarcube. Right now, let's hear what story Granny's got for us next," Applejack said as she sat on the floor between Apple Bloom and Winona.

Unseen by the others, Winona was still looking at the necklace. Why, or what it was about it, the dog couldn't understand.

The hours passed on, and Granny weaved all manner of spine-tingling tales for the five younger ponies in the room. She even told a few new ones that her older grandchildren hadn't heard before. Out of the new ones that Applejack heard, the one Granny told about a mare who was found dead in an orchard made her glad she quit working before the sun went down completely.

Before the hour got too late, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo were sent home for the night, but they hesitated when they opened the front door.

Looking out into the night, they could see the property of Sweet Apple Acres illuminated by the ominous, dim glow of the moon. The gate to the property seemed to pull away further from them as they took their first step onto the porch.

They froze, and gazed warily to the darkness.

As they looked out into the night, their imaginations wandered to what kind of horrible things may be lurking beyond the porch. The longer they stayed, the further the gate got from them, and the more things they could see peeking from behind the stacks of hay, or climbing out of the well on the property.

"M-maybe we should take a box of matches with us," Sweetie fearfully suggested.

Applejack understood their fears. But, she knew that they were only stories, despite her own uneasy fears at that moment. Even so, it was dark out and it would be unwise and irresponsible to send two fillies out on their own.

"Big Macintosh: can ya walk Apple Bloom's friends home?" she requested of her brother.

"Eeyup," came his affirmation as he walked out the door to nudge the two fillies forward. "Come on. Let's get you two back home."

A devious thought occurred to him.

"Best be quick if we don't want the kelpies to get us," Bic Macintosh said.

"Quit scarin' the foals and take 'em home already," Applejack admonished her brother.

With a good-natured chuckle, Big Macintosh escorted Apple Bloom's friends home without any further mischief.

Since that was taken care of, now came the next matter to handle.

"Get out some papers an' a couple o' pencils. We gotta start makin' those posters for that necklace yer wearin'," Applejack told her sister.

The Apple sisters spent the next half hour drawing up posters, so that the owner of the necklace could find and claim it.

After she saw what her granddaughters were doing, Granny offered her hoof at making a poster. When she was declined, she made one anyway. In the end, her rendering of the necklace turned out to be more accurate than what either of them had drawn. Even the lace on the edges was drawn in immaculate detail.

Applejack decided to let Granny draw the rest of the posters, so that Apple Bloom could get to bed, since it was almost bedtime anyway.

Before she went to bed, Applejack retrieved her lantern and lit it so that the light shone dimly within. Now that the darkness would be abated, she headed for the stairs.

Apple Bloom went up the stairs ahead of her sister and closed her bedroom door behind her. She had already lit the lamp in her room before, when it was starting to get dark. Mainly so that she wouldn't be stumbling around in the dark when she was finished hearing Granny's stories. That, and the presence of light helped to keep any irrational fears at bay.

But it did little good to stop her from jumping when her door started creaking open.

The filly gasped and shot her eyes to the door, where she saw something poke its way through the open crack. She let out a sigh of relief when it turned out to only be Winona.

It was strange to see the dog in Apple Bloom's room, since she always slept beside Applejack's bed. But, it was nice to have company like her after hearing such scary stories.

The day had ended, and the filly took her bow out of her mane and hung it up in her wardrobe. Then she took off the necklace she wore and put it on her nightstand, before she turned out the lamp and crawled under her sheets for the night.

Down by her hooves, Apple Bloom felt Winona jump to the foot of the bed. There, the dog curled up to sleep.

Though Apple Bloom tried to sleep, something felt very off about that night. But what, she couldn't put her hoof on it. If she had to explain it, it was as if the very night itself was trying to waken her, and show her what was amiss.

At the foot of the bed, she felt Winona tense up and raise her head.

Apple Bloom looked to her, and saw her dog staring alertly at the window.

It may have been the filly's imagination, but she thought that she could see a dim light that should not have been there coming from somewhere outside. As she lay in her bed, she watched the light and hoped that it would go away. But when time had passed, and the light remained, she debated whether or not she should investigate.

Curiosity won out over fear, and she cautiously walked toward her window with her dog in tow.

At first, Apple Bloom only waited beside the window, trying to work up the courage to look outside. But, she would run the chance of being seen by whatever made that light.

She swallowed hard and peeked around the edge, only to see nothing there.

Feeling slightly bolder, she stepped in front of her window so that she could get a proper look outside. What she saw made her more surprised and curious.

From her bedroom window, Apple Bloom had a view of the apple orchard. Past that was a view of the Everfree forest. Both were normally unremarkable at night. But as she looked outside, she could see lights in the Everfree, glowing one second, and then dimming the next as if there were a great mass of fireflies in the woods.

She had never seen anything like that in her entire life, and didn't know anypony else who had. They were unnatural. And if Granny's stories were to be believed, anything unnatural couldn't be good.

Out of the darkness, a choir of howls sounded. Timberwolves signalling the start of a prowl. Their song echoed eerily through the night air, letting ponies know to beware their presence.

Then it happened.

Another howl joined the chorus. But, as soon as it had, the other howls went dead silent. The new howl was louder and lower than than the others, and sounded somehow different. As if it had been sounded from something more beastly and terrible than any timber wolf.

It was enough to make Winona whimper fearfully and back away from Apple Bloom's side, signalling the filly to get away from the window.

The howl subsided and sounded once more. Then, there was only silence.

Apple Bloom listened closely for anything else that may have been out there, but could only hear the normal sounds of the night. The wind whistling through the trees and the rustling of leaves were all that she could hear.

The wind almost made a tune of some sort as it blew by, making the filly swear she could hear instruments playing faintly in the distance. The closer she listened, the more she could hear its eerie melody beckoning her to go out and investigate what was happening.

Another whimper from Winona snapped her out of her thoughts

With a shudder, the filly and the dog retreated back to the bed and hid under the covers, hoping that morning would come soon, as they drifted into a restless sleep.

Author's Note:

That story that Granny Smith tells is a real story. My grandpa told me that one when I was but a child, except it was about a man named Jack, who was faced with a monster named Nuckelavee, instead of a shadowy beast with glowing eyes.
And if you want to know: kelpies are water monster that look like waterlogged horses, but on stormy nights, they take on a more humanoid form. There are many versions about what form they take, but my favorite's the one where they look like monstrous fish men. A kelpie is also a type of herding dog.
So, there's that first chapter of this new story. Hope you all liked it, so rock on to the next chapter \m/

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