• Published 5th Jun 2012
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Twidark - Isseus

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The Thing On The Doorstep

The scalpel was glowing gently in the dark purple aura that was keeping it afloat in the air. Underneath the blade lay the patient (or victim, however you wanted to look at it) on the cold metal surface. The room was devoid of any windows. She and her assistant were covered in total darkness, only contrasted by the brilliant luminosity of the work light above the operation table.

The first cut was the one that always made Twilight the most nervous. After that the routines always kicked in, but until then she couldn´t help but hesitate. It was not the first time she had done this, nor even the tenth. Still the feeling of the first incision breaking the skin was the hardest, always feeling so... wrong.

"Spike! Sponge!" She managed to whisper from her sandpaper-covered throat. The voice was barely audible through her surgical mask. It was making her breath cloud over the goggles she was wearing. Her assistant nervously dabbed her forehead, wiping away the beads of cold sweat.

"Umm, Twi ... You really don´t have to do this. The Princess knows you are thorough even if you don´t resort to stuff like ... this."

"Not helping, Spike."

Her voice was still only a whisper in the darkened room. "Did you make sure that we´re all locked up in here?"

"Of course!"

"I want you to double—"

"I´ve already double AND triple-checked. We´re alone and it´s the middle of the night!"

Sometimes the unicorn librarian´s obsessive compulsions could feel really frustrating to the little dragon. Complaining about it usually just agitated Twilight, so he decided to remain quiet.

"Don´t you understand? There can be NO distractions. This is delicate work. I need all my concentration to leave as little proof of ... of intrusion as I can."

"It´s Okay, Twilight. Let´s do this so we can get to bed."

"Spike! This is important!"

She was getting annoyed with the baby dragon by her side. He was still too young to understand the gravity of the situation. The all-too-tight strap of her goggles was not easing her irritation either.

Better get started though. I´m not going to feel any more comfortable with this.

Here spread before her was not a mere object to be played with, but a work of organic art. It was only a shell, she knew. Yet, she was cutting into something that had lain still so long, already partly decomposed. How could they have done something like that? Leave their old friend just laying there without taking care of them. Abandoning them alone to rot. The patient (it´s not a living thing! Don´t think like it is!) was old, its skin cracked and stretched.

This is the last chance to get anything out of him (It! It´s not a person!). I can´t fail now.

She took a deep breath through her clammy mask and pushed the blade down, cutting.


After an hour of grueling work she had finally gotten all three locks off. She had hoped to avoid just slicing them off, but the keys for the locks had vanished ages ago. Had the keys been available, it would have taken a miracle and a lot of industrial solvents to remove the rust from them. Using her innate magic for such precise tasks was trivial for someone like Twilight Sparkle, the most faithful student of Her Majesty, The Co-Ruler of Equestria, Lady of the Morning (etc. etc.), Princess Celestia. Still doing it for an hour in one go was giving her a stiff neck and a throbbing headache.

"Forceps!"

"Wstfgtl ..."

After a while of nothing else happening, she reiterated in a louder voice:

"Spike! Forceps!"

"Rarityyy ... Look at how many gems I can fit in my mouth."

Sigh. Already asleep. Well it IS kind of late for him to be staying up I guess. I wish Owloysius had hands instead of zygodactal talons. And he has such trouble with reach too. Maybe if we practiced with some simpler tools first? I need to get him a perch in the lab too. Maybe if he used his beak to handle the implements it could work. And he has good night-vision too. If I drop something he´d find it quicker than Spike with that little flashlight of his. Good thing I did, though. It was really hazardous to let him use his firebreath for lighting anyways. Especially here with all the flammable chemicals and delicate study subjects. Oh right I was doing something. What was it...

"Focus Twilight!"

She gave her head a brisk shake. Attempting to banish her ornithological musings, she decided to pick the tools she needed from the table next to her by herself. The thought of doing so was completely alien to her. She was a professional after all.

"Let´s see what you are hiding underneath all that mold and dust shall we? Don´t worry; I´ll be gentle!"

With her telekinesis she manipulated two pairs of forceps to the book, clamping them on either side. Slowly, she started lifting the cover up.

Good thing I invested in these Cantermalt forceps. Those old Halstable mosquitoes had
were so unwieldly, and I could never get a good grip.

She was already anticipating the pages to be stuck together, so she didn´t apply too much force. Multitasking even more, she was about to insert her scalpel, when she quickly pulled out.

"What the hay am I doing!? No no no no no!"

With just a bit too much force, she shoved her razor-sharp blade back on the tray.

Of course, a long cut like this requires a number 23 scalpel! I almost ruined everything with that silly number 10.

After finding the correct tool for the job she returned her attention to the book. With a long delicate cut, she separated the first page from the cover. Taking care not to lift too hard, she turned open the cover, while speaking softly, like to a small scared filly:

"Hello. My name is Twilight Sparkle. What´s yours?" She asked, smiling under her mask.

On the inner cover was only an ominous text.

"Ye whoever shall open this accursed book, turn away now.
Neigh but sorrow and madness follow in its wake.
Turn away now, as I should have all those years ago.
Burn it,
destroy it,
kill it,
for I cannot."

Ooh how exciting. Must be a horror novel. I can already feel the shivers on my back. Tee hee.

After managing to slice open the next page, she was finally introduced to her new friend.

NECROPONYCON
The Mad Ramblings
Of The Bedouin Al Khamsa

As Translated From Al-Azif
By Olaus Martingale

Yesyesyesyesyes! This is not just an old horror novel! This might be something even BETTER!

Taking out a clean scroll and dipping a quill in ink, she started meticulously transcribing the ancient volume. She only tried to hurry enough that she wouldn´t lose anything, as the tome´s contents were rapidly destroyed by contact with clean air after so long. Only the rasping of her pinion pen and the quiet snoring of his number one assistant kept her company in the small hours of the night.


The loud banging from somewhere above disrupted Twilight´s concentration on her task. She didn´t know how long she´d been at it, but suddenly she felt that all that time had caught up to her in an instant. As she craned her neck she heard a few loud crackles as her joints re-aligned themselves. After such a long static excercise, the movement caused a boost in her blood circulation, making her eyes black out for a second. She felt the floor wave dangerously underneath her as a feeling of nausea washed over her. She had to steady herself on the edge of her workbench so she wouldn´t fall down.

Still the incessant knocking descended on her, bringing with it painful memories of yesterday, and especially of promises and schedules. One particular marshmallow-white mare intruded upon her cognitive capabilities, accompanied by a healthy dose of guilt and gut-wrenching panic.

"SHOOT! SPIIIIIIKE!!"

"Whathuh? Is it morning already?"

"More like NOON!" she exclaimed while looking at the small alarm clock, sitting forgotten on a nearby shelf.

"Why didn´t you wake me up! Or tell me to go to bed! Or SOMETHING!"

The little dragon didn´t seem to understand what was going on. Or where he was. Or even who. He was still laying on the floor with his scaly tail clutched to his chest like a pillow, trying to open both of his eyes at the same time. After this herculean feat, he decided that panic was indeed par for the course.

"Rarity! We were supposed to meet her at the café! Now what are we gonna do? Is she here? Are my scales straight? Have I grown a moustache yet?"

Unfortunately for the dragon it was quite impossible to hold a conversation alone, so he could only dash after Twilight.


"Rarity I´m SO sorry! I completely...."

"Say no more Twilight Sparkle! I can see that the emergency is even more dire than I thought possible. Just tell me who did this to you and I´ll make him pay!"

"Wha ... huh?" was the only thing Twilight could say as she was bodily pushed back inside the library from the door.

"Darling you simply must tell me what is going on! You look absolutely dreadful! Should we call the police? Royal Guard? Princess Celestia even?"

"I know I missed our appointment at the café, but aren´t you overreacting a bit?"

"Overreacting? Twilight how CAN you say something like that? Have you seen yourself in a mirror? If there ever was an emergency fit for Rarity, the most generous (and stylish, she added in a whispered tone) pony in all of Ponyville, it is nigh! Luckily for us I ALWAYS carry an emergency make-up and grooming kit with me."

Sensing that this was something more than just the usual hamminess of Rarity, the purple mare decided to saunter over to her bathroom and take a quick peek at the mirror. It was probably because of the horrid images from her last night´s reading, but she immediately recognized that she´d been turned into one of the creatures from her book.

In her reflection two crimson orbs stared at her like the blasphemous embers of some lost dream-quest. Underneath them the folds of a horrid ancient monstrosity were trying to envelop the chafed and opprobriously cerise facial features of the once likable librarian. The cyclopean apparition was made even more grotesgue by the shaggy mane of some proto-beast from ancient times, which was now skewered on her horn. To top the ensemble of fungoid terror was the slimy, sweaty apron, that might have once been some other color than that of mold and ink.

"SPIIIIKE!!"

"Umm...Yes Twilight?" came the careful voice outside the bathroom.

"Make me a quadruple espresso. Stat."

"Oh-kay. Want some sugar in it?"

"How much do we have?"

"Got it!"


After Rarity had, quite literally, worked her magic, she declared Twilight to be ´passable`. It did take almost half an hour of work and depleted most of her emergency rations, but that´s what friends are for.

Twilight´s mane was now straight as usual, and the irritation of the mask and the goggles was covered under several layers of make-up. The fashionista couldn´t do anything about the bloodshot eyes. Only a full night´s sleep would suffice for them.. Still, considering where she´d started, the results were nothing short of miraculous, even if she did say it herself. She did.

Rarity was putting away the tools of her trade while her friend greedily downed her second batch of coffee, hoping to drink it down before the cup melted.

This is why Spike is my number one assistant. Celestia bless that little alchemist. I have to buy him some nice gems as thanks. And a new cup. This one´s already paper thin.

"I know that you are a respectable mare, and you know me well enough to know that I don´t pry into the comings and goings of my closest friends, and that there is nothing I value more than privacy—"

"It´s OK Rarity. I think I owe you an explanation. And an apology. I was so caught up in my work that I completely forgot the time. Can you forgive me?"

"Don´t worry about such small things darling. The weather is ALL too hot and dry for my tender complexion anyway so staying inside is a welcome change of plans."

"Thank you."

Rarity could see her friend visibly relax and lower her shoulders. She knew very well that Twilight was punctual to fault, which made this tardiness even more interresting.

"I´m usually always on time, and I feel awful for making you wait and having to come check up on me like this."

"I already said that it´s all right, sweetheart. Let´s let by-gones be by-gones. But if you don´t mind me asking, what were you up to with that simply hideous getup?"

"Yes, well, it all started yesterday when I suddenly got a package from the Princess."

"A package? From Her Highness Celestia?"

"Yeah. It was so big that Spike almost lost a tooth erm ... delivering it."

A light shiver ran through the fashionista, luckily unseen by her number one fan. It wasn´t that she didn´t like Spike. At least in a friendly, platonic way. But some of his bodily functions didn´t always agree with her stomach.

"Anyway the package contained a letter from the Princess, and an ancient tome in an ornate box. Apparently it had been discovered at some archeological dig site far to the South-East. They had already stopped most of the excavations, because all they´d found were a few hundred identical pillars covered in sand in the middle of the desert. One of the archaeologists leaned on a pillar by accident and managed to topple it. According to Her Highness, his academical career would have been over then and there, but under the pillar was that box. It was sent to Canterlot, and because Princess Celestia knows how much I like books and restoring them ..."

She gave a small shrug but forgot to hide the guilty grin on her face.

"I see. But what led to the travesty I was faced with at your very own doorstep?"

"Isn´t ´travesty` quite a strong word? I´d maybe go for ... I don´t know—"

"Horror?"

"No I—"

"Atrocity?"

"Umm Ra—"

"Hideous farce?"

"Rarity! Are you making fun of me?"

"I´d never do such a thing to my DEAR friend," she said in a tone of hurt that was almost conceivable, apart from her mischievous grin. "But darling, honestly! I may have saved your social standing in Ponyville! I mean if you´d gone out in that ... let´s call it ´condition`, for now, you could´ve never shown your face outside again for shame!"

"Yes, yes, I get the point."

"So do continue."

"Well there´s nothing much to say. I take restoring books pretty seriously, and I have a well equipped workbench downstairs. I had to work late yesterday evening indexing the "History" shelf after the little mishap with the ´Applebloom-and-hoofballs-inside- the-library` incident."

It was impossible to miss the compulsively twitching ear of her friend, but Rarity decided not to mention that little fact.

"So when I finally got around to the book, it was getting pretty late. I was only thinking of maybe doing a preliminary analysis on the covers, maybe try to date the style of binding. I couldn´t help it! It was so EXCITING! I just HAD to open the book and read a few pages!"

"Yes darling don´t we all just love reading musty old tomes in the middle of the night?"

"Exactly!" Twilight continued without breaking a stride, paying no attention to the marshmallow pony collapsing on the table with rolling eyes.

"The book is so fascinating! I only got about a hundred pages in, but I think I´ve never seen such a book before. It´s a collection of ancient myths and prophecies from ancient times. Just the images of the horrors described in the book might keep me up at night!"

Even that seemed to excite her, making her giggle.

"And the stories! They tell of beings older than the Royal Sisters, and how they ruled Equestria before a single pony even existed. It´s, of course, all fancy and make-believe, but the ways in which they are described are so vivid. Wait a second and I´ll go get the copies I made and you can look for yourself!"

Hearing her cue Rarity perked up in her chair.

"No need to burden yourself for little old me. I´m sure the book is just marvelous, and those old fairytales must be a fantastic read before bedtime, but I simply MUST return to the Boutique. I have a customer coming over soon, and I need to prepare some fabric samples before he arrives."

The look of disappointment on the bibliophiliac librarian was quite evident, but Rarity decided to disregard it. Self-preservation is a useful trait when dealing with Twilight Sparkle, she´d learned.

"Well ... Thanks for coming over to meet me and we have to re-schedule our meeting in the café for some other day."

"Don´t mention it, sweetheart. Now I really MUST dash. Ta ta!"

And with that she galloped out of the library. If Twilight had paid any attention to the fact, she´d have noticed that her friend had exited with considerably more haste than maybe was ladylike. Fortunately she already had other things on her mind.

"SPIIIKE!"

"Ouch, Twi, I´m standing next to you."

"Good! Fetch me the checklist for today! I have to make sure I don´t miss any more appointments today!"

"Are you sure about that? Maybe you should take a little nap? You just pulled an all-nighter, remember?"

"Your concern is very touching. But I´ll just turn in a bit earlier today. And I feel totally FINE. Great even. Just. Great."

Her dragon assistant just sighed, not daring to mention that the amount of caffeine and sugar the librarian had imbibed could cause a manticore to suffer a heart attack.

He also didn´t mention the nervous ticks that had appeared when she´d been talking with Rarity, nor the fact they hadn´t stopped since. Or that her voice was a lot louder than usual.

What he did do was get the checklist for the day, because the sooner she was done with her chores, the sooner he´d get her to go to bed.

"First off: See Mayor Mare about the Emergency Dam Repairs."

"Oh goodie! Time to mix some magic and masonry!"