• Published 28th May 2012
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A Twilight Princess - Mekon

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Shadows

Last Time:

“The element of magic. I SEE! It seems the spark was finally revealed,” he said and then chuckled to himself.

“What?” Twilight demanded.

“Spark...Sparkle. How appropriate,” he said, covering his laughs with his left hoof, finding the pun hilarious. Twilight frowned and facehoofed. Here she was in a strange, mystical and faraway land, and a strange “prince” that claimed to be Celestia's and Luna's brother was making jokes! “I'm sorry about that. It was just so funny.” Twilight let out a long sigh, her patience wearing thin. “Anyways, no matter what you say Twilight, no pony is just granted a crown.”

Α~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Ω

Chapter Two: Shadows

Twilight stared at him, mulling over what the strange alicorn had just said. “That's just.....it's because....well...no...It's just an element of harmony. There is nothing that points towards me being royalty or a princess,” she firmly denied, refusing to trust a single word of the gray alicorn. She didn't even know if this “Caesius” actually was an alicorn. For all she knew, he could be some evil avatar of the unusual world she currently resided in, plotting to catch her off guard, steal her powers, take over Equestria, become supreme ruler, and commit a myriad of evil acts. Twilight couldn't trust him.

“Do you really think so?” Caesius asked calmly, no amount of detectable treachery in his voice, “If that is so, why are all the other elements of harmony only necklaces? Why is it that only your element, magic, is a crown? Doesn't that strike you as odd?” Twilight blinked slowly, processing what the gray alicorn had just said. It did seem a bit odd, but something else was also a bit off.

“Wait a minute! How did you know that the other elements of harmony, manifested as necklaces?!” she snapped, trying to find any reason to shut out anything Caesius told her. He chuckled, his eyes lighting up in amusement.

“My dear, the elements of harmony are thousands of years old, older than I, Luna, and Celestia. Ever since their creation, they have manifested as necklaces donned by their respective bearers. I do not believe that they have had any reason to change, and of course, it is plain that the element of magic is a crown.” The once-lavender unicorn spluttered indignantly, her attack shot down and obliterated.

“That still doesn't mean anything,” Twilight answered grumpily, grudgingly allowing her first argument to wither up and die.

“That is not the only proof of your true nature Twilight. Your own magical signature and essence is of the same form and strength as my sisters and mine,” he continued.

She shook her head fiercely, refusing the accept all the evidence that Caesius was presenting her. “I'm just a unicorn, a plain old unicorn living in Equestria with her friends. Sure lots of crazy things happen to us, but that doesn't mean anything,” the female unicorn asserted, stomping her hoofs in defiance.

The gray alicorn fixed her with a quizzical stare that seemed more amused than actually curious. “Just a plain unicorn?” he asked almost smugly. Twilight shuffled her hooves uncomfortably, knowing already that she was no ordinary unicorn. “Tell me then 'mere unicorn', how is it that you find yourself here? This realm is not just open to the casual passerby. A certain kind of magic is required to enter and leave this place, a magic that no 'ordinary unicorn' possesses, Twilight Sparkle.”

The female unicorn quirked one of her eyebrows in confusion, her intense curiosity goading her to investigate. “What do you mean?”

“Well as I have already told you, this is the realm of twilight....In Equestria there are three distinct realms, if you want to call them that. Most ponies just refer to it as 'times.' The day. The night. And the twilight.”

“What about dawn?” the unicorn Twilight countered, hoping that she had found a rather large in the alicorn's explanation, because that would prove everything he said was a lie, allowing Twilight to completely disregard everything about her being a princess and having unique otherworldly magics. Caesius smiled, glad that she seemed to be paying attention.

“The dawn and the twilight are one and the same. However, they are mirror images of each other, but are both made up of the same energies. You can say there are four times, but there is not four realms,” he smoothly answered, not missing a beat. Twilight sighed in frustration, throwing her hooves up in the air.

“So? What does that have to do with me?” Twilight asked impatiently. All she wanted was to get out of this freaky place and get a daffodil sandwich. Caesius smiled apologetically.

“I'm getting to that Twilight. First, let me ask you this. What is the twilight?” the male alicorn questioned, conjuring up two chairs and a table for them. They seemed to be made of the strange landscape itself, constantly changing colors and matching the background behind. Only a thin gray line kept the shape of the furniture intact. Caesius motioned for Twilight, patting the chair next to him. Hesitantly, she made her way over to the seat.

“The period in the evening between the light of the day and the darkness of the night,” she answered almost instantly, like a reflex. Her response was strictly denotative, and Caesius grinned causing Twilight to scowl. “What?” He waved her off.

“Essentially correct,yes. However, on the most basic level, the twilight is nothing more than the mixing of the night and the day, a synthesis of light and darkness. The darkness dominates the twilight while the light leads the dawn.” Any surprise that Twilight felt at the moment was masked completely, and instead, she turned her attention to studying Caesius. Nothing in his tone or body language seemed to elude to deception; everything he said seemed genuine.

“And?”

He smiled and looked over to the sitting unicorn. “Surely you understand the complications of mixing two opposite energies. Isn't it logical for the two sides to cancel out and become nothing? A void? Non-existent?” Caesius asked, his expression expectant and knowing. Twilight was silent, wondering how Caesius seemed to know exactly how she thought. He continued, “However, this is not the case. An anomaly occurs, something that surely caused you to investigate, leading you here.”

“What does that have to do with anything! You haven't explained a single thing to me about this place, how I got here, who you really are, and if I can even trust you!” she snapped, now at her wits end. She had been patient and waited and waited and waited, but so far, no answers had been revealed to her by the strange alicorn that was currently sitting down to her right as if it was some casual cafe meeting. Caesius sighed.

“We are getting there my dear,” he said, knowing that he was being a bit indulgent in their conversation. He hadn't talked to anyone in a couple thousand years after all. “Perhaps I should start with the trust obstacle. There really isn't any point to this if you aren't willing to listen and learn.” Twilight snorted.

“How are you going to prove that one? Show me a memory spell or something? The mind can lie,” she answered flatly.

“True. But the heart cannot,” Caesius countered, his horn beginning to glow. The unicorn began to protest, saying that no one can read a heart, proven for centuries upon centuries and tried by powerful unicorns throughout history. However, he ignored her and finished igniting his horn, his magic beginning to envelop the smaller pony. Twilight gasped as her sentience was sent back in time, and she saw and felt it all, the creation of Canterlot, the first cities being erected, the arrival of Celestia and Luna, the love Caesius held for them, and then the birth of civilization as she knew it. There was just so much, little moments that Caesius had spent teaching Luna, helping Celestia in her studies and even simpler moments such as them eating dinner. Suddenly, a shadow passed over the vision, and an dark cackle rang through her ears. Then everything disappeared.

Twilight whipped her head back as she was forced out of the memory. She looked up to see Caesius panting, obviously taxed.

“Do...do you trust me now?” he huffed out, beads of sweat dripping down his face already.

“I...I don't..I don't understand...That seemed like a memory spell....but I knew it couldn't be. I felt it. I felt you.... Regular memory spells don't work that way,” she said slowly, trying to make a heads or tails out of the things she had just seen.

“It was...a memory...a heart memory, one that I hold very close. That is why you felt it. A plain memory held in your mind holds no attachments. It is just information. But the memories of the heart hold it all,” the gray alicorn explained, his breathing beginning to even out. Twilight pondered this new information and the heart memory she had just experienced. She knew it was true; she had already admitted that she had felt the memory.

“What...what was that blinding darkness at the end?....and that evil laugh?” she asked, faltering over her words while trying to grapple with the feelings of absolute terror and sadness that were associated with that part of the memory.

“That....that was the last thing I ever saw and felt before coming here.”

“What was it?” Caesius shook his head, saying he would tell her after he had gotten all of the other important things out-of-the-way.

“But...Do you trust me now?” he asked looking her in the eyes. Twilight returned the eye contact confidently. It didn't take her long to respond.

“Yes,” she answered with no lack of conviction present in her voice. Caesius smiled, glad that he would finally be able to talk to the unicorn comfortably.

“Good. There is much you must learn before you leave this place. I fear that there is not much time left.”

“Let's start with how I got into the twilight and this 'power' you keep mentioning,” Twilight said, finally able to act out her list of questions that she had been making in her head for the last twenty minutes. He nodded.

“Twilight, what would you describe Celestia's magic as? And likewise Luna's? Either light or dark?”

“Umm...Well, Celestia's is definitely light magic....Luna's would be...” Twilight hesitated, knowing the stigma that was attached to the phrase “dark magic.” Once again, Caesius chuckled at Twilight behavior, amused by her courtesy towards his youngest sister.

“Dark magic. Do not fear it Twilight. Darkness is not the same as evil. Evil and darkness were never the same,” Caesius finished, “I've always found it strange how ponies classically paint the darkness as bad and the light as good, don't you? Even in my time, they did that.” Twilight nodded, saying that she had expressed a similar sentiment only moments before she had entered this realm. “They forget that true evil does not distinguish between light and dark. True evil is as comfortable in the light as it is in the dark.”

“I guess ponies think darkness is evil because it's misunderstood.”

“Exactly.”

“Plus, the Nightmare Moon incident probably didn't help ponies think any differently,” Twilight added, not thinking about the connection between the past-villian and the alicorn in front of her.

“Nightmare Moon incident?” Twilight opened her mouth to explain how Princess Luna had turned into an evil alicorn that wanted to bring about eternal night, but thought better of it, seeing as she was talking to Luna's older brother.

“Um...some evil confused pony who wanted to bring about eternal night, but realized the error of her ways and is now a good pony who serves Equestria faithfully. Nothing too serious,” she dismissed quickly, not wanting to elaborate on the unfortunate tale.

Caesius stared at her as if scanning her very soul for the truth. Twilight blanked her face and stood firm in her choice to hide the truth from him, even though she couldn't hold a secret to save her life. She guessed that she had been successful for once, because he eventually let it go.

“You were saying about light and dark magic?” Twilight pressed on, hoping to get as far away from the subject of Nightmare Moon as possible.

“Right. As I said, do not fear darkness. It is natural and a part of everypony's world. And as I stated, the twilight is a state of light and darkness, together in harmony. To enter one must be able to break the light and darkness at the same time for they are the ancient guardians of this place,” Caesius began.

“Break the light and darkness? Together? How?”

“Yes. First..What do you get when light and darkness mix? Tell me Twilight,” he coolly asked. Twilight only blinked in response, thrown off by the abrupt riddle. She assumed that the answer had to do with entering this realm somehow.

“Um....not life.....not a heart...um..” Twilight attempted to deduce, with very little success. With each answer, Caesius' smile continued to widen.

“I'll give you a few hints. This object follows you around wherever you tread in Equestria whether you see it or not. Everything and everypony has one.” She thought long and hard about all the clue Caesius was giving her. It was a mix of light and darkness. Everything and everyone had one. It followed her around whether she could see it or not....what could it possibly be?

Caesius could almost literally see the gears turning ferociously in Twilight's head as she searched her vast library of knowledge to determine a possible answer. He decided to spare her before steam started streaming out of her ears, pushing her into meltdown mode.

“A shadow, Twilight. The answer is a shadow,” Caesius said, placing a calming hoof on Twilight's right shoulder.

“A..shadow? I don't understand. How is a shadow light and darkness?” she asked.

“Think about it. How can a shadow exist without light or darkness? It needs both to exist, and likewise....” Caesius started.

“....shadow magic needs both light and dark magic,” Twilight finished.

“Correct. This is what allowed me to show you my heart memory. Hearts have both light and darkness within them, so with shadow magic, you may venture into your heart and others', unharmed.”

“But I can't do light magic or dark magic. Only Celestia and Luna possess those powers. All I have is regular unicorn magic.”

“You continue to reiterate 'the fact' that you are a regular unicorn, but we both know that you are anything but normal,” Caesius reminded, “You are the element of magic, what magic can you possibly not possess? It is against your own nature. And who knows? You may have already performed shadow magic without you knowing it.” Twilight rubbed her hooves together uncomfortably, knowing the truth behind those words. Reflecting on her memories, she was sure that she had used the same heart memory spell to save her friends from Discord's mind spell, and of course her entry into the twilight would have required some form of shadow magic.

“You're saying that I can raise the sun and moon like Celestia and Luna do, that I can paint the stars and black out the sun, that all the powers that the princess's possess, I have,” she murmured, thinking about the spells that she had already traced and unraveled from Celestia and Luna.

“You do....this power is a part of who you are. Why? Does it bother you?”

“Yes! Of course it bothers me! Who said I wanted to be as powerful as Celestia? How do you know that I want to help rule Equestria?” Twilight shouted, thinking about the consequences and ramifications that could result, “What if they want to banish me!? What if Celestia sees me as a threat!? What if I have to fight them!?” She trembled at the thought of fighting her beloved mentor.

“Twilight!” Caesius boomed, causing the once-lavender unicorn to revert back into her meek state, “Do you know Celestia and Luna? Are they your friends?”

“Yes.....Celestia is my teacher...and...I saved Luna...” Caesius smiled, glad that Twilight had already met and gotten to know his sisters.

“Then you know, as well as I, that they would never do those things. They will accept you, no matter what you are. To them, you will still be Twilight Sparkle and will always be Twilight Sparkle. Your other friends will treat you the same way. They will support you one-hundred and ten percent,” the gray alicorn soothed, “Do you really fear such things may come to pass? Are you afraid of the power that you really do possess?”

“Yes...and...I don't...I don't know really...” Twilight answered, once again rubbing her hooves together to avoid answering all together. True, she had always dreamed of possessing such power and being a princess like Celestia and Luna. She should have been ecstatic and deep down, Twilight knew she probably was. But that wasn't all she felt....she also felt...terrified. “I'm just afraid that things will change....and I'll end up alone again....” Caesius gave her a sympathetic smile.

“Change is inevitable, but you will be okay Twilight. You will always have your friends there to help and guide you. When the day finally comes, you will still have them right there next to you.....Now, we must get you out of here-” he said, dropping his voice to extremely low levels, almost to where it was inaudible, “-before IT finds out.”

“It?” Twilight said in her regular voice, not catching on.

“Shhhh..IT is the shadow that you saw in my memory. IT was trapped here, along with me, condemned for all eternity. But I fear any possibility of escape...the results would be disastrous!” Caesius muttered.

“What is IT?” Twilight whispered, feeling the atmosphere drop a few degrees and the air become thicker.

“The Umbra Magnus....an ancient evil that wished to consume Equestria's energy. By my sisters' powers and mine, we were able to seal it here after I battled it and severely weakened it. I had to be sealed along with it, here, and I, the light, and the darkness have been standing guard ever since,” he explained, “It cannot learn that we are going to create an opening to Equestria through which it may escape.” Suddenly a dark, low laugh surrounded Caesius and Twilight. It was already too late.

“Well well well....how flattering....ancient evil no doubt.....and what do we have here? Prince Caesius and a strange, insignificant unicorn that has fallen into my realm. How wonderful of you to drop by and create an exit for me to leave through!” the dark voice said as a ball of black and white flames smashed into the table where Caesius and Twilight were sitting, throwing the occupants into the ground and disintegrating the furniture. Instantly, Caesius sprang into action.

“Umbra! Show yourself! How did you get out of your shadow cage!” he yelled into the shadows, his head darting back and forth, anticipating the next attack. He was greeted with another dark chuckle.

“Let's just say that....time rusts all locks. It definitely didn't have to do with the enormous surge of power that happened to reverberate through this realm a few minutes ago,” Umbra taunted. Twilight gasped, knowing what the true cause actually was; it was her. She had to help! Twilight leapt to Caesius' side, igniting her horn, preparing for the worst. “How amusing...the little unicorn thinks she can stand up to me? Pathetic. Die.” Twilight gasped as a storm of spikes materialized out of the shadows and sped straight towards her. She conjured up her strongest barrier, hoping that it would stop the oncoming needles, but Umbra's spikes were too powerful and made her barrier look like wet newspaper.

They instantly shredded the construct and continued to pursue their target.

“No! You will not harm her!” Caesius yelled as he summoned a tidal wave of shadow about ten times taller than him, which rushed forward, absorbing the projectiles and providing them with the briefest amount of cover. He turned towards Twilight, having only seconds before the wave dissipated and reveled them. “You must leave now! I will hold him off for as long as I can. Find my sisters as soon as possible and tell them what has transpired here...”

“I can't leave you here all by yourself! You need help!” Twilight protested, preparing to stand her ground. Caesius closed his eyes regretfully.

“I'm sorry Twilight. You are the world's only hope,” he said as his eyes changed, one glowed with the purest white while the other was the deepest black. His horn began to hum with power, and he released. Twilight screamed as his bolt of magic struck her horn directly, and she saw no more. “It's up to you now Princess Twilight. I wish you luck....My dear sisters...know that I will always love you both, and I send to you the only salvation.” With a flick of his horn, a hole in the floor opened up and swallowed Twilight. She was gone just as his attack disappeared.

“Fool...you shouldn't have given her the rest of your power. Now you can never hope to defeat me!” Umbra laughed manically as a form cloaked in shadowy flames materialized in front of Caesius, “You are doomed!”

Caesius smirked and replied coolly, “Perhaps. But only one may hold the power of the twilight. I was already destined to pass it on. But even without all my powers, you won't be having any picnic fighting me Umbra! En garde!” Caesius exclaimed as he brandished his magic-covered horn like a sword, knowing that this would be his last epic battle and it would end in shadow.

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