• Published 17th Nov 2011
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Twilight Then, Twilight now - Paradise Oasis



From across time, Two different ponies named Twilight are drawn into a mystery transcending the ages

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chapter 16

Then...

"What should I do, what should I do?"

In the darkest hours of the night, Twilight Sparkle lay awake on her bed, thinking over all that had transpired. It had been eight days since she and the others had arrived in Tambleon, and over the past week she and four of her friends had been getting to know these five wonderful stallions, that they had met here in the extreme cold of the north.

Every day, Twilight was busy in the library with Booker, going over some text or another, and comparing notes on their independent research. Fluttershy had spent her week helping Avian care for the wounded and sick birds at the aviary, while Rainbow Dash and Sureshot soared high above the skies of the town each morning. Rarity spent all of her free time in Slick's shop, and had prepared a whole new line of dresses for him to sell. And every evening, the couples would gather at the tavern, to watch Pinkie and Hopper put on the new show that they had rehearsed every day together.

Twilight and her friends were happier than they had ever been. And yet... it was her job to report back to Princess Celestia, her teacher and mentor, what she had found here in the laboratory Princess Luna had established in Tambelon. But when the Princess found out about the sea ponies and flutter ponies... Booker might be in big trouble for his part in all of this! She was unwavering in her devotion to Celestia, but she couldn't let something bad happen to this stallion she was coming to care a great deal for!

"Celestia's my teacher, she'll understand." Twilight Sparkle told herself. "She'll realize Booker didn't do anything wrong.. she won't hurt my stallion..."

Having reassured herself, the purple unicorn mare closed her eyes, and tried to go back to sleep.

The evening’s peace in the city of Tambleon, was shattered by a loud howl outside the city’s walls. Everypony in the city woke and the sound, and the terrible sounds of struggle that followed.

“Girls! Wake up!” Rainbow Dash yelled, looking out the window. “There’s something going on out there!”

“Rainbow, it’s four in the morning!” Rarity grumbled, levitating her sheets off. “What could possibly be-”

“She’s right! I hear yelling out there!” Twilight Sparkle yelled, galloping out the door after the blue Pegasus. “Come on, girls!”

“Great, there goes my beauty sleep.” The white Unicorn complained, trotting out after Twilight.

“I’m scared, Applejack.” Fluttershy replied nervously, quivering beneath her sheets. “What if there’s something big and mean out there?”

“Come on, Fluttershy!” AJ put her hat on. “If it’s a ornery critter, they might need that stare ‘o yours!”

The six of them galloped out of their rooms, running past the houses and empty streets, and up onto the city’s walls. Many of the guards were up there, and also there were the six stallions they had met only a few days before.

“Girls! Up here!” Sureshot waved them up, as soon as he saw them.

“What are you six doing up this late?” Avian asked, as Fluttershy and Dash flew up beside the two Pegasus Stallions.

“We heard the racket out here, and we came to see what it was.” Applejack replied, as she and Pinkie Pie ran up the Steps.

“Take a look down there.” Hopper replied, as they all looked to the ground outside the walls.

Three of the town guards were fighting three green... creatures, who stood upright and bipedal, like the Diamond Dogs. The creatures were crudely clothed, and armed with spiked clubs, and bashed against the unicorns’ energy shields again and again, even as the Unicorns tried to get a kick in against the brutes.

"What- what the heck are those things?!?" Rarity shrieked.

"Goblins." Slick replied ominously. "A tribe called the Troggles live in the foothills beyond the Town. Raiding parties occasionally attack the town's walls, but they have yet to get through our defenses."

"Wait, Goblins are real?" Twilight Sparkle asked in shock. "Pony xenobiologists only found trace evidence of their existence!"

"Lets just say certain facts were... omitted from the books." Booker replied shamefully. "To keep the Equestrian citizenry from panicking."

The three Unicorns seemed to be holding their own, until twenty more goblins poured out from the tree line on the horizon. They joined their comrades in bashing on three Unicorn guards shields. The force of the blows finally broke through their concentration, and the beasts swarmed the three guards.

"They're in trouble! We gotta help them!" Rainbow Dash started to fly up, but Shureshot and Avian grabbed her tail in their mouths. It took the two stallion’s combined strength to pull her down. "HEY! WHAT'RE YOU TWO DOING!?"

"No Dash! It's suicide!" Sureshot yelled, through gritted teeth. "Those goblins have a volley of archerers waiting beyond the tree line!"

"You'd be dead before you reached them!" Avian continued as the two forced her back to the gound. "There's nothing we can do for them now!"

The ponies on the wall could only watch in horror as the goblins gutted the screaming stallions like fish, then carted them back into the tree line. The six mares from Ponyville just stood there in shock.

"You... you didn't even do anything to help 'em!" Applejack snorted angrily. "Y'all didn't even try! What's wrong with you ponies?"

"We lose more stallions trying to stop them, than we end up rescuing!" Bronco snapped back. "Those three fellers were warned not to go outside the gates after dark!"

"They.. they killed them..." Rarity replied, shell shocked at the carnage she had just witnessed. "They're even more vicious than the diamond dogs..."

"You girls have never seen a pony die in battle before, have you?" Hopper asked, looking at the horrified Pinkie Pie. "You've never seen that much blood and carnage."

"This isn't the cozy and safe insular bubble of Equestria, ladies." Bronco Snapped. "There are no parties or friendship problems to solve out here. Those monsters kill, cook, and eat ponies"

Upon hearing that, Pinkie Pie immediately turned green, spun around, and emptied the contents of her stomach over the side of the wall.

"Bronco, shut up!" Avian smacked him in the back of the head with his hoof. The Pegasus stallion then went over, and tried to comfort Fluttershy... who was curled up in the corner, crying and quivering.

"I wanna go home... I wanna go home... i wanna go home..." She kept sobbing.

Booker looked over the six mares. The toughest of the two, Rainbow Dash and Applejack, seemed to have taken what they had witnessed with a great deal of anger. Rarity seemed shocked but mostly alright, while Pinkie Pie was traumatized into silence, and Fluttershy was terrified to the brink of snapping. The only one he couldn't read was Twilight Sparkle, who trotted down off the wall, and just stared off into space.

"Twilight... are you all right?" He asked in a worried tone, following her down the steps. "Im sorry you all had to see that. We stallions all acted pretty much the same way when we saw goblin savagery for the first time ourselves."

"I've read about battles and killing in books... but I've never seen..." The purple unicorn turned to face Booker. "How can such cruelty even exist? My teacher Princess Celestia always told me that friendship always triumphed over hatred. But this..."

"Goblins are evil creatures, friendship means nothing to them." Booker replied sadly. "Their numbers are nearly limitless. You point elements of harmony at them and blast away, a swarm will come up to replace the ones you just turned to stone. Even the most powerful Unicorn Mage or the bravest Pegasus will be overwhelmed."

"That's why Tambleon was built here." Twilight Sparkle replied. "To act as a buffer for them to throw themselves against. If they got far enough south to the Greyvale pass..."

"They would get though the pass and into Equestria." Booker finished. "Every Pony town and city would be burned to the ground. Ponykind would be powerless against the sheer numbers."

"But Princess Luna or Celestia could-" Twilight Sparkle started to protest, but Booker raised a hoof to stop her.

"My studies show that goblins rally behind a strong and powerful leader." The unicorn stallion adjusted his spectacles. "And I believe there is a much more intelligent and powerful being directing the Troggle tribe's actions. If they are trying to fight thier way into Equestria..."

"They're confident they have a warlord capable of taking on the Princesses." Twilight finished nervously. "But goblins are stupid, right? They may just think they have a leader powerful enough to-"

"Goblins are not the brightest candles in the candelabra, Twilight." Booker replied, shaking his mane. "But stupid, they are not."

"There's got to be a way to beat these monsters without bloodying our species’ hooves." Twilight insisted. "Ponykind’s existance is based around friendship, Booker! We can't become killers, we just can't!"

"Booker! Twilight!" It was at that moment, that Avian came flying down. "Hopper and Sureshot did something very stupid!"

"And that‘s unusual how?" Booker said with a sigh. "What is it this time?"

"They felt so bad about letting those uglies kill the guards, they chased after them into the woods." The Pegasus stallion replied.

"Ugh! Stupid stallion masculinity." Booker slammed his hoof into his face. "They're probably trying to impress Pinkie and Fluttershy."

"We'd better go after them." Slick Styles finished, trotting up to the three of them.

"Actually.." Twilight replied. "Maybe my friends could help with that..."

------

Having chased down the fleeing goblin troops, the two foolhardy Stallions were on the ground and wounded. Surrounded by the forms of the dozen or so Troggle tribesmen they had managed to knock unconscious, they could see the circle of fifty remaining goblins closing in on them.

"Well, this is it, old friend." Sureshot groaned, trying to lift his broken wing. "Was nice knowing you."

"Eh, at least I won't have to see your ugly mug anymore." Hopper replied, trying to stand. "Still it's been a blast."

"Ohhh, more stallion meat!" One of the goblins smacked his lips. "Me hungry for dessert!"

But just as the goblins were about to close in, a sonic rainboom sent them flying back.

"W-wha?" Sureshot struggled to stand up. "Rainbow? That you?"

"Less talk, more running!" Came from the blue Pegasus overhead.

At that moment, Applejack came galloping up, ramming into three of the goblins, and sending them flying.

"Thanks for the save, girls!" Hopper replied.

"Y'all get outta here, now!" The orange earth pony replied.

But as they started to flee, a deep guttural growl filled the woods, and the remaining goblins all scurried away.

"Uh oh..." Hopper replied.

"That don't sound too good." Applejack commented.

From the trees, a large grotesque figure began to emerge from the mists. Standing as tall as tallest pine trees, the morbidly obese horror was clad only in a ragged lion skin that barely covered its purple hide. It looked down at the tiny ponies, and greedily smacked it's warty lips.

"Oh, great." Sureshot's voice was shaking. "They have a hungry pet troll...."