• Published 24th Jun 2017
  • 2,170 Views, 26 Comments

Rise of the Shadow Empire - Splash Surfer 216



When King Sombra returns to Equestria with an army of shadow ponies, Twilight and her friends travel west to seek out an old Equestrian ally to help them save their homeland.

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Chapter 2: A Gala of Nightmares

Excited voices filled Canterlot Castle as swarms of ponies and creatures of all kinds poured in the minute the drawbridge was lowered, granting full access to Equestria’s capital.

The Grand Galloping Gala had finally begun. In the foyer, the first of many sights the guests had the pleasure of experiencing, was Princess Celestia and Princess Twilight trotting down the stairs to meet and welcome all who were attending, however Twilight only did so for an hour or two before leaving with her date to enjoy the rest of the festivities.

The ballroom, on the other hoof, was the main attraction. Over on one corner, the banquet stood filled with delicacies and refreshments of all kinds, from fancy cakes, to bowls filled with either punch, or apple cider. On stage, a small orchestra of ponies stood, playing their classy, sophisticated instrumentals.

Among the many guests in attendance, three young mares, a unicorn, earth pony and pegasus, roamed the ballroom with a much younger alicorn filly trailing behind. Cadence had thought it a good idea for Flurry to spend some time with the now adult Cutie Mark Crusaders. She was certain that the three would be able to help keep her daughter out of mischief.

While the celebration grew more lively on the inside, Outside the castle, from the outskirts of the city, watching the festivities from the hilltops stood a hooded, black, unicorn creature. An army of similar creatures stood behind their leader, awaiting instructions.

"There it is, my friends...," Maldark turned towards his clan. "The capital of this kingdom that shunned and banished us a millennium ago. If all goes according to plan, we shall be victorious. Everypony remembers their orders?"

The other Umbrum hissed with malicious thrill. Indeed they were ready.

"Good, now to put things into effect. Remember that we must blend in until further notice in order for this to work."

From beneath his cloak, Maldark revealed a long staff made of black crystal. The staff’s overall design was gnarly and twisted, and atop stood a glowing gemstone held in place by three claw-like fingers.

With one wave and a firm bang on the ground, the staff’s green jewel fired a bright green beam of light that hit a select number of Umbrum and in an instant, they resembled real, living ponies.

Their leader glanced back at Canterlot Castle and began to slowly lead the others down into the city undetected.


"So then, when I went to look for my gear, I found out that the other guards had glued all my stuff in my quarters to the ceiling, even my bed!" Flash finished.

"Oh, that’s... terrible!"

The two sat at a table alone in one corner of the ballroom. Flash had thought it a good idea to tell Twilight stories about his first days as a guard.

"Well, that's how guards can be when they're off duty. It used to bother me a lot, but I eventually got used to it and pretty soon, they started pranking me less often."

"My friend, Rainbow Dash went through something similar on her first day as a Wonderbolt..." Twilight put her hoof on her chin in reflection. "They gave her a nickname that unbeknownst to them was an old label she was given back in flight school. They still call her that every now and then, but she eventually overcame it."

"Hey, she should be lucky it was just a nickname," Flash chuckled. "She can be glad they never dragged her into the bathroom and shoved her face in a toilet. I still have nightmares about those times."

The two ponies laughed. All of a sudden, Flurry Heart popped up from underneath the table.

"Auntie Twi!" she chirped.

"Oh, Flurry!" Twilight nearly jumped out of her chair. "You mustn't sneak up on me like that."

"Hello there, Flurry Heart." Flash eyed the young, curly maned, pink alicorn. "Your aunt was talking with me earlier about the times you spent with her out of the Crystal Empire."

"It’s true, my Auntie Twily is the best aunt and princess in Equestria!" Flurry piped. She then leaned closer in Flash's ear, "I think she likes you..."

"What?! No I don't, Flurry!" Twilight yelled, starting to blush. "J-just ignore her, Flash. She's only nine years old and she tends to spread..."

"Not anymore!" her niece replied. "I’ve been learning all about honesty!"

"Flurry Heart...."

"He's her special somepony! He's her special somepony!" Flurry began to loudly sing repeatedly. Her aunt desperately tried to shush her niece before things got any more awkward, but to no avail. Flash raised an eyebrow, confused at the display before him, but couldn't help chuckling at how silly Flurry Heart was behaving. Twilight on the other hoof, grew even more flustered, her blush becoming a brighter crimson red.

"Flurry Heart, sweetie," she said through her gritted teeth. "Me and Flash are a little busy right now, so why don't you go off and play with your friends or raid the dessert table?"

"Alright..." the young alicorn snickered nonchalantly. "I'll leave you two to it..."

And with that, Flurry flew off to meet back with the Crusaders. Twilight took a deep breath of relief.

Hopefully that’ll be the last time my friends and family members embarrass me tonight, she thought to herself.

"Sorry about all that, Flash," Twilight brushed the back of her mane, sheepishly. "Flurry's adorable and full of energy, but sometimes she can get a little too rambunctious and drives some ponies up the wall. She's still family, nonetheless."

"I know exactly what you mean," the orange pegasus laughed. "I have a younger brother who practically worships me, to the point where he often follows me around and tries to do things like I would. He sometimes drives me to the limit where I just want to dump him in my waste basket but I wouldn't have him any other way. Family members and friends can sometimes be the most annoying yet loving parts of one's circle."

“Twilight?”

At the sound of her name being called, the alicorn turned her head to see Cadence standing nearby, motioning for her to come over to talk. Twilight then looked back to Flash, "Would you excuse me real quick?"

"Sure thing! Take as much time as you need," Flash rose out of his chair. "I was actually thinking about going to watch more of that distraction... I mean... show your friend Pinkie was putting on..."

He pointed over to the stage, where Pinkie stood trying to keep the celebration lively by performing her silliest gags and songs, while the orchestra took their intermission.

The two ponies chuckled and nodded to one another and then set off their separate ways so Twilight could talk with Cadence.


Elsewhere, in the far eastern section of the ballroom, amidst an entire crowd of ponies, stood one lone unicorn stallion in particular. He was dressed in the fanciest Gala attire he had, his cloak hanging neatly around his neck, and currently checked at the dessert table.

Equestria has really changed since we’ve been gone… He thought to himself, taking note of the abundance of creatures besides ponies that were in attendance.

He then helped himself to a small slice of pie and immediately spat it out after realizing how unbearably sweet it was.

“And especially, what is with these ponies and their newfound appreciation for such sweetness?"

After scraping the taste out of his mouth, he then grabbed a cup and filled it with punch, hoping to get the sweet taste out of his mouth, but just as he was about to take a sip, all of a sudden, four young ponies excitedly ran up to the dessert table and in the clamor, bumped right into him. The stallion stumbled to the ground and dropped his cup of punch. The hat he was wearing, also flew off his head and onto the ground and a strange looking stick tumbled out from underneath his cloak. As he staggered to his hooves, he was met with the face of a young pink alicorn filly.

"We're terribly sorry, mister..." Flurry Heart said, politely.

"Oh dear, Why can't yearlings today watch where they're going!?" the strange pony grumbled as he brushed the dust off his clothes.

"Can we give ya a hoof?" Apple Bloom asked.

"Hold on, sir. Let us get those for you," Sweetie Belle offered, as the other Crusaders and Flurry started to pick up the stallion’s scattered belongings one by one.

"Okay, I found the hat..." Scootaloo held up a large top hat and the stallion grabbed it back with his magic.

"Here's the punch cup..." added Flurry Heart.

"And I found his..." Sweetie Belle then paused to look at the strange possession she was holding in her aura. She was intrigued by its long, crystallic design and the green jewel clutched on top.

"His... wand?" she wondered.

"Oh, give me that!" the stallion growled, snatching the strange artifact away from her. "Don't you know you're not supposed to touch things that don't belong to you?! And it is NOT a wand!"

"Okay, okay, mister! We're sorry!" Apple Bloom cautiously took a step back, intimidated by the stranger's angry tone. She then returned back the hat and cup to him. "There ya go, yer welcome..."

But instead of a simple "Thank you.", the stallion suddenly let out a horrid, terrible growl as his eyes glowed bright green with fury. The four ponies screamed at the terrifying sight and ran off in fright.

"And watch it next time, you little wretched brats!" he snarled back at them. Quickly concealing his staff underneath his cloak, Maldark left the eastern part of the ballroom, but not before taking a good look at the chandelier hanging above in the center.

Not much longer now.... he thought to himself.


"It looks to me that you and Flash are starting to develop a better connection..." Princess Cadence chuckled as she and Twilight strolled through the ballroom, surveying all of the activity.

"Ugh, go buck yourself, Cadence..." Twilight groaned. All the playful teasing she had been receiving from both her friends and family was starting to become too much.

"Okay, there's no need for that kind of language," the pink alicorn reprimanded. "But I digress, I just came by wondering if you were ready to tell the princesses about the 'you-know-what' yet."

"The what?" Twilight then remembered. "Oh, that. No, I haven't. To be honest, I had forgotten about that until you non-specifically brought it up."

"Trust me, once you tell them about your dreams, you'll be able to relax even more tonight, I could tell Flurry wasn't helping much with your stress."

"Oh, you saw that, didn't you?" Twilight sighed.

"Almost everypony overheard, I think I saw a few others snickering. I don't think it was at you though,"

The two alicorns stopped in their tracks. Twilight noticed Princess Celestia talking with her sister nearby a secluded part of the stage where Pinkie Pie was still singing. It was almost time for Starsong's show to begin, and Celestia was to be the one to announce her appearance. At that moment, seeing the one pony in Equestria that she looked up to, gave Twilight's mind a sense of courage. Celestia had done so much for Twilight ever since she was a young unicorn filly studying under her watchful eye and guidance.

I have to tell her... she thought. It's now or never, I have to get that horrible unicorn king out of my thoughts as soon as possible…

"There they are..." From the look on her sister in-law’s face, Cadence could tell that Twilight was thinking once more. "So, are you ready?"

"It feels like it's time..."

"Then in that case, let’s get this over with."

The two mares slowly trotted over to the two alicorns, Twilight knew that if anything, Celestia could help set her mind at ease…

"Excuse me, Princess Celestia?"

"Ah, greetings Twilight!" Celestia turned upon hearing Twilight’s voice, pleased to see her approaching. "Once again, you and your friends have made this the most successful Gala that Equestria has ever seen."

"There's the 'mare of the hour'!" came another voice. It was Rarity, trotting up to the young princess with the rest of Twilight's friends sans Pinkie Pie, who also voiced their agreement.

"Pardon our interruption, Aunt Celestia," said Cadence. "But are you and Aunt Luna busy at the moment?"

"Well, I was just about to announce Starsong's show in a few minutes. What brings you both by?"

"Well, I've been talking with Twilight, and she has had some thoughts on her that have been plaguing her mind, and we both agreed that you should hear them since we’re mostly alone at this time."

"Are ya sure yer ready ta tell them, sugarcube?" Applejack whispered.

"Yeah, tell them what?" Rainbow Dash asked suspiciously. She had unfortunately heard the farmpony.

"Yes, I'm sure. It's a good time right now that they should know..." Twilight replied.

"Well in that case, let us hear what she has to say," Luna said.

"Indeed, sister," Celestia nodded. "What's on your mind, Twilight?"

"Well..." Twilight began, "You see, ever since the..."

But before Twilight could continue her thoughts, they were interrupted by the sound of four young mares squealing in panic as they approached the group, their dresses and hair were completely disheveled from running, and their faces had gone completely pale white, with barely any noticeable color.

"Mom! Rarity! Applejack! Rainbow Dash!" they all yelled, overlapping one another. The terrified expressions on their faces greatly alarmed their friends and relatives.

"Sweet mother of Celestia!" Rarity exclaimed.

"Apple Bloom! Are ya alright?" Applejack took her hyperventilating younger sister into her hooves.

"What's going on, squirt?" Rainbow Dash patted Scootaloo on the back in an effort to calm her down.

"What happened to you?" Cadence asked the quartet.

"S-s-some nasty pony..." Flurry Heart shuddered, her face soaking wet with tears, "...yelled at us..."

"We bumped into him on the way to the dessert table," Sweetie Belle stammered.

"And when we... tried to help pick up... his stuff," Scootaloo panted as the sickly white tone faded back to her normal orangish coat color, "he hissed at us!"

"He had fangs an' a tongue like a snake!" Apple Bloom yelled.

"And he looked like a Changeling!" the foursome cried out in unison.

"Shh... shh.. it's alright girls," Cadence petted Flurry’s mane, comforting her petrified, sobbing daughter as the Crusaders' siblings continued doing likewise. "Now I'm sure that pony was just some crotchety, grumpy old stallion with an attitude. Wherever he is now, I’m sure he won't be upsetting you anymore tonight."

"Wherever he is..." Rainbow Dash snorted, unfurling her wings defensively. "I'll pummel him to the floor!"

"Honestly, Dashie," Applejack sternly lectured. "Ya can't just go pick’n fights an’ harassing ponies much older than you. Besides, snake-like tongues an’ fangs? It sounds like th’ girls are so spooked that they’re exaggeratin’ a few bits of their encounter."

“No no!” Apple Bloom stomped her hoof. “We’re not making it up, sis! He really…”

Before she could finish, two other ponies came rushing up to the group, a unicorn stallion with a neatly combed blue mane and matching mustache with a monocle on one eye, and his wife, a slender white unicorn mare with a pink mane. Like Flurry Heart and the Crusaders, they appeared to be disheveled and disturbed, only instead of frightened, their expressions were indignant and disgruntled. Fancy Pants’ usually prim and tidy tuxedo and mane were messy, and covered in stains. His wife fared no better either, her golden gala dress was torn and dirty around the skirt, and her mane a complete wreck.

"Thank heavens, there you are, Princess!" Fancy Pants sighed in relief.

"Oh, good evening, Fancy Pants. Fleur de Lis..." Celestia turned her attention to the couple. "What seems to be the issue?"

"Princess, you have to do something," Fleur de Lis huffed. "Some unruly guest out in the gardens is creating a disturbance!"

"Indeed..." Her husband nodded. "There's an insane, out of control, and despicable pony out there, who's devoured everything from the food stands out in the gardens, stank up the entire area with a repulsive odor, sent all the animals into a stampeding frenzy, repeatedly violated some of the other guests, and has been spitting some disgusting substance everywhere at everypony, that not only smells foul, but also singed my darling's mane!"

Fleur de Lis stepped forward, revealing her mane, which indeed looked like some of it had been terribly charred near a few strands. Everypony gasped in shock at the damaged state she was in.

"Oh, you poor thing!" Rarity exclaimed, “Never fear darling, I have just the thing to fix your coiffure!”

She then took Fleur de Lis with her aura, leading her away from the group, and pushing through a crowd of ponies to find a good spot to set to work.

"Everypony clear the way, this is a fashion emergency! Spike, be a darling and go fetch my emergency mane styling kit, I'll also need a bowl of warm water, some rubber gloves, and a medium size towel!"

Spike looked back at the other ponies and shrugged before leaving to follow the two mares.

"Not to worry, Fancy Pants..." Celestia reassured. "We shall deal with this disruption right away."

"Uh, Princess, I…?" The lavender alicorn raised a hoof to speak.

"This won't take long, Twilight, We know how to deal with situations like this. It must be another intoxicated pony."

“I don’t know, sister,” Luna put a hoof to her chin, suspicious. “I’ve never heard of intoxicated ponies terrorizing small animals, raiding food stands, and spitting corrosive substances. Therefore, I shall also accompany you.”

"Captain Shining, Noble Sword, Sturdy Shield..." Shining Armor and two other unicorn guards approached upon hearing the princess’ request.

"Yes, Your Highness?"

"There are reports of a disturbance in the gardens. We must go at once and clear out this unwelcome guest."

"But…" Fluttershy began to ask, "what about the entertainment?"

"Don't worry," Cadence stepped forward, "I can announce Starsong in their absence."

And with that, the two princesses headed off with their guards to the gardens. The pink alicorn headed up onto the stage to hook Pinkie off so the show could begin. Twilight could only stand there and let out a sigh.

It’s fine, Twilight, she thought to herself. You can tell them later….

Applejack trotted up to her friend and placed a hoof on her shoulder.

"You alright, sugarcube?"

"I'm fine," Twilight sighed. "It's just..."

"Hey, don't worry 'bout it, t' night is still young," AJ glanced over at the sea of ponies gathering at the stage. "And ah think somepony might be needing somepony on t' dance floor..." she teased, motioning towards the orange pegasus among the crowd.

Twilight blushed once more upon also noticing Flash and headed over to join him among the crowd.

Applejack's right... she thought. I still have all night, and while I'm at it, maybe one of Starsong's songs will cheer me up…

“Are you alright, Twilight?”

The princess’s mind snapped back upon hearing Flash’s voice. He eyed his date with a look of concern on his face.

“You look like you’ve got something on your mind.”

“Oh! I’m just fine, Flash.” Twilight quickly replied. “I just had to speak with Celestia about something but it’s not important right now. Really!”

She chuckled nervously. For a minute, Flash stared back at her with uncertainty, before shrugging it off. “Well, alright then. We should get to our spot, the show’s about to begin!”

Twilight and Flash joined the rest of her friends in the crowd, gathering by the stage. Everyone watched as Cadence levitated Pinkie off and took hold of the microphone, tapping on it a few times to get everypony's attention.

"Once again, mares and gentlecolts," she announced. "Welcome to the Grand Galloping Gala! I hope you are all enjoying yourselves so far."

The crowd of ponies stomped their hooves and cheered in agreement.

"Well, there's more to come tonight," she continued. "As we continue to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of my sister-in-law, Princess Twilight Sparkle's coronation, we have a wide range of entertainment planned for you this evening, including the unveiling of Madame Pastel Colorsplash's latest masterpiece, and as always, an air show from the Wonderbolts."

The ponies cheered again as Rainbow Dash and the Wonderbolts flew up on stage and bowed before flying off to another corner of the ballroom.

"But first, it's time for the moment you've all been waiting for, taking time off from her tour around Equestria, and here to sing one of her latest hits as a tribute, please give a round of applause for the 'Pegasus Pop Star of Las Pegasus', Starsong!"

Once more did the ballroom erupt into a thunderous roar of cheers and applause as the lights began to dim and the voices became faint, the only other lights and sounds being that of a spotlight and hoofsteps as a dark purple coated pegasus mare stepped into the bright light. Her mane was of many different shades of pink, with two star-shaped barrettes clipped onto the sides by the front of her ears. She wore a matching, flowing purple and blue dress decorated with pink, purple and blue stars on the skirt, sparkling blue slippers and a pearl necklace. A wireless stage mic clipped securely onto her right ear.

"Thank you, thank you everypony, it's wonderful to be here..." Starsong said as the cheers slowly died down. "There's nothing I love more than a great audience. It just gives you that feeling, that you've succeeded at one of your biggest dreams. Now, probably the best moment in my life was when I was introduced to Princess Twilight, personally by my little cousin, Fluttershy. Thank you, Flutters!”

Fluttershy warmly smiled offstage at her cousin as if to say, “You’re welcome.” as the purple pegasus continued her introduction.

“Back then, I had a very busy schedule with my career. I hadn't realized until too late that I was neglecting my old friends who I hadn't seen since foalhood. Yet they still remembered me and wanted to rekindle our friendships. When I met Twilight in person for the first time, she showed me that I shouldn't forget about my friends no matter how much my career takes out of me and suggested that I juggle my responsibilities with doing what I love and my relationships with my friends. If she hadn’t had done that, I wouldn't have become the kind, well-organized, and relaxed pony that my fans and friends know me as today. So when Fluttershy contacted me a few days ago and asked me to perform at the Gala tonight to celebrate her friend's coronation, it was a request I couldn't refuse. So that's why my first song tonight goes out especially to Princess Twilight Sparkle, and her amazing group of friends. And this particular song is very special to me as well, as it was also one that Princess Twilight herself taught me..."

She motioned toward the band onstage to begin. With one small breath and readying his hooves, the pianist began to play the first couple of notes as Starsong began to sing.

"Nothing stays the same for long
But when it changes doesn't mean it's gone
Time will always get away
As it leaves behind another day
Things may come and things may go
Some go fast and some go slow
Few things last, that's all I know
But friendship carries on through the ages..."


On the other side of Canterlot Castle, Celestia, Luna, and the three guards had just entered into the gardens. When they arrived, they found the entire area completely deserted and everything was in shambles except for the trees and flowers, which were coated in a thick, dark and misty fog.

“Yeeeesh!” Shining Armor’s eyes boggled in astonishment, “What in Equestria could’ve done this?”

"Who or whatever was in here certainly made a mess of things," Noble Sword surveyed the area while picking up pieces from the ransacked stands and bits of food on the ground.

"Shh... It might hear us..." his comrade whispered.

"The coward must have retreated into the fog that’s covering the hedge maze," Luna muttered.

"We'll have to lure it out somehow," Celestia pointed towards the different entry ways into the maze. "We'll split up, look for clues, and try to locate it. Luna and I will take the right entrance, Captain Shining, you and your guards will take the left entrance."

"Yes, princess."

The two groups set off into the gardens and began searching the dark, thick fog, their horns lighting the way. Soon, a sense of eeriness washed over the guards as their inner fears began to manifest themselves in the form of ghostly whispers. Strange eyes and gnarled faces began to appear in the trees, the trees themselves seemed to be slowly leaning forward, ready to fall onto the three ponies.

The wet, cold mist crept onto their faces, and shadows began to flit through their vision.

Out of the three guards, Sturdy Shield, grew more uneasier than the others, jumping at any sudden yet small noise he heard..

"Captain..." he whispered. "Captain... Captain..."

"What is it?!" Shining drew his head around and glared irritably at the guard..

"D-d-do you also have that feeling as though something is watching us?"

All of a sudden, the sound of rapid hoofsteps in the dirt emerged in the fog. A strong gust of wind began to blow, accompanied by a whistling howl resounding in the distance.

"Shh... what was that?" Noble Sword alertly looked around, his ear perking up to listen closely.

They quickly stopped and found what appeared to be a misty trail of black smoke standing out in the fog.

"I think it went that way..." Shining pointed to the right, where the trail led to another section of the maze.

In the distance, they could almost make out what appeared to be the shadow of a pony-like figure disappearing around the bend, leaving behind the same trail of black smoke.

"After it! Don’t let it escape!”

The guards immediately started after the mysterious figure, their horns lowered and ready to blast, running deeper and deeper into the fog.

Elsewhere, on the other side of the gardens, the two alicorn sisters continued their own search for the intruder. So far, all they found were a few mysterious hoofprints on the ground and small frightened animals hiding in the trees and holes.

"I'm afraid we won’t find any other sign of an intruder, sister," Luna sighed. "Whatever force that pillaged the gardens and terrorized the guests seems to be long gone."

"Shh..." Celestia froze in her tracks and held up her hoof behind her sister.

"Huh? What are you..."

"Shh!” the princess hushed. “Do you hear that?”

"Hear what, sister?"

"It sounds like a whistling howl, almost like a ghost..."

"A ghost? In Canterlot Castle?" Luna let out a chuckle of skepticism. "You must be mistaken, Tia. There has never been any reports of paranormal activity from anypony as long as Canterlot Castle has stood."

Unfortunately, Celestia was right. The howling began to grow louder and louder, almost as if whatever was making that noise was getting closer, and closer. Both royal siblings could only move out of the way, when at that moment, from around the bend, a large cloud of mist featuring the ghastly form of a dark colored, glowing green eyed stallion came racing past them with blinding speed. His front hooves left trails of black smoke in their wake, and a deranged, fanged smile was painted on his face.

They could only look at each other in pure shock, unable to believe their own eyes. This simply was no ordinary intruder. As a matter of fact, to Celestia and Luna, what they just saw seemed vaguely familiar.

Shortly after that, Shining Armor and the two other guards came rushing around the bend, stopping to a halt to catch their breath.

"Your Highnesses! We take it… that you saw it too?" Noble Sword gasped.

Luna nodded affirmatively, "Yes, and we believe that it is headed back into the castle...".

"We can't let it get anywhere near the ballroom," her sister added, turning towards the entryway to the castle from which they entered before and started running towards it. "We must track it down at once. Follow it inside and take it down!"

The search party sprinted back into the empty halls of the castle, and quickly caught the shadowy form of the intruder crawling on the walls. Lowering their horns altogether, beams of magic from their horns fired at the form, blasting a large hole in the wall where the figure’s shape was illuminated.

"Huzzah! Gotcha!" Luna cried triumphantly.

The sound of a deranged, high pitched cackle emerged, coming from the other end of the hallway along with a garbled voice that sounded like it was trying to say, "Missed me!"

They rushed further down the hallways and fired again at the shadowy form, leaving yet another hole in the wall when the dust settled.

"Got you that time!"

Once again, the cackling voice called out to them once more. "Joor zill yit!"

"Hold still, thy vile trog!" The dark blue alicorn growled.

They followed the shadowy form and the deranged voice accompanying it until it reached a dead end, the throne room. They looked around. The intruder was nowhere in sight within the dimly lit room.

"There's nowhere for it to hide now..." Noble whispered. “We’ll catch it for sure.”

Shining cast a light spell and began scanning the room for any trace of movement or shadows. "Where is it?"

Losing her patience, Celestia bravely yelled out, "Show yourself!"

The sounds of the unseen force cackling echoed throughout the area. The guards shone their lights at various corners of the throne room, but the room was still so dark, they could not find anything. The search party looked at each other puzzled, what exactly were they dealing with?

"Psst... uh yeer..." the voice whispered.

"There! Right there! Shoot it!" Sturdy Shield pointed up at the center of the ceiling.
Charging their horns, the search party fired their beams of magic all together at where Sturdy had pointed. Unfortunately, the force of the blast caused part of the ceiling to collapse. Celestia focused her horn and casted a shield spell around everypony as bits and pieces of dust and debris from above began to fall onto them.

"Wissed gee! Wissed gee! Nagga gabba quiss gee!" the voice taunted, as if it were an unruly foal misbehaving.

Then came the sound of hacking as out of the shadows, a green, slimy substance fired out from above where the intruder was hiding, landing beneath the hooves of Celestia and the others. They watched in shock and horror as the foreign substance began to eat away at the floor, leaving a hole where it landed.

Every time the shadowy figure spat more of the corrosive substance, they would fire in that exact direction until the entire throne room was filled with dust and debris, and when it finally settled and Celestia's magic illuminated the throne room, the mysterious being was nowhere to be seen.

"Damnit, It's gone!" Shining Armor stomped his hoof into the ground, baffled.

"The pest must have vanished back outside, we lost it!" Sturdy Shield threw off his helmet in frustration.

"Nevermind the intruder," The young alicorn sister sighed in defeat. "Wherever it is now, let us hope it shall cause no more harm to anypony else."

"We must head back to the ballroom, Luna," Celestia turned towards her sister. "After this encounter, I have a very bad feeling about this..."

"So do I, Celestia," Luna nodded. “So do I...”

After quickly repairing the walls with their magic, the guards proceeded to follow the princesses back into the hallways towards the path to the ballroom. As they slowly trotted back towards the ballroom, Princess Celestia sensed danger approaching very soon. Yes, she could feel it, and whatever it was, it seemed very familiar...


Outside in the dark streets of Canterlot, a grey pegasus mare trotted alone on the empty path, a cart filled with muffins from Sugarcube Corner, towed behind her.

"Oh, these muffins smell so tasty!" Derpy said to herself, her mouth watering at the aromas permeating from the tasty treats. "I could just taste one right now and... No no no, pull yourself together Derpy," she recomposed herself to focus on the road. "Remember what Mr. Cake said, 'These muffins are for everypony, wait until you get to the Gala before you help yourself to a few.'"

Unfortunately, Derpy didn't realize until too late that she had taken a wrong turn and was now far away from the castle."I must've missed a sign, I should have paid attention..." she sighed.

A dark mist began to rise around her. Derpy looked around, but could hardly see anything through the strong, thick clouds.

Gee, what is this? No pony in Cloudsdale informed us of plans for a fog or anything! she thought to herself, growing unnerved at the thought of being alone in the dark.

Just then, in the distance, she could make out what seemed to be the shape of a few ponies, standing in front of her. Maybe they could help.

"Hello? Is anypony there?" she called out to the figures. "Can you help me? I need to find Canterlot Castle and I can't see a thing in this fog!"

Derpy suddenly froze. Piercing green eyes emerged from the darkness as the figures began to move closer. What sounded like an unearthly hiss and a few growls from all sides around her began to grow louder. She started to back away slowly from the figures, afraid of what they were and what they wanted.

That doesn’t sound like a pony... she thought to herself. And not a royal guard, nor any animal’s mating call.

Once the figures were close enough could Derpy finally see who or what she had been trying to communicate with, and she wished she hadn’t.

Standing before the young pegasus, completely frozen with horror, were several black, pony-like creatures with long curvy unicorn horns, some with bat-like wings, and some without any at all. The monstrous entities stepped closer towards the trembling mare, all with bloodthirsty looks on their fanged smiles.

"S-s-s SHADOW PONIES!" Derpy screamed.

Terrified, the klutzy pegasus began to run, the muffin cart trailing behind her. The creatures immediately gave chase, snarling, hissing, and baring their fangs.

Another group of the monstrous ponies appeared in front of Derpy and started to advance, forcing her to stop in her tracks and maintain distance.

"Stay back! Back!" she cried. "Don't hurt me!"

The demonic creatures slowly started closing in on her. It seemed as though there was no way out. Thinking quickly, Derpy spread out her wings and leaped high into the air. She could see the castle straight ahead from afar, if she could fly fast enough, she’d make it there in no time. She and her cart were safe, or so she thought.

"Blast her!" one of the ponies bellowed.

A few of the creatures aimed their horns at the airborne pegasus, before shooting out a blast of dark magic.

Derpy felt a sharp pain in her wings as she plummeted towards the ground, colliding with it hard. Then another pain in her hind leg. The muffin cart’s wheels split and the entire cart toppled over to one side.

Derpy tried to hover back off the ground, but she couldn't. Her wings had been broken by the creatures' magic, and her leg had broken from landing on the ground

"Somepony help! Please!" she screamed in terror.

Derpy took one look behind and saw the creatures charging up behind her leaving behind them, a cloud of black smoke big enough to swallow anything in its path. With as much strength as she had, the grey mare began to push and drag herself away as fast as possible. Up ahead, she could see the entrance to Canterlot Castle and tried to gain as much speed as possible. The drawbridge was just a few dozen more hoofsteps away.

"Please, please help!" she cried as she ran straight towards the castle with what little strength she still had. "Let me in! LET ME IN!"


Back inside the ballroom, Starsong was still performing her song, and everypony else was either watching or dancing along, enjoying the night of their lives.

"Every single style has something different it can say...
There's nothing wrong with being unique and special in your own way…

Amidst the sea of ponies dancing the night away, was Princess Twilight and Flash. Surprisingly, Twilight's mind was once again at ease. With Flash around her, it seemed as though Twilight was in her own little world, where nothing bad could happen. The two ponies continued to dance, alternating between stepping on the ground and gliding through the air.

Starsong's song then took a small quick change of pace from slow and sweet to something more peppy and upbeat.
"Maybe you wanna be a popstar..." she continued to sing as multiple flashes of cameras went off in the crowd.

"Get your fifteen minutes of fame... Woah, ohhh!
That will last forever
but friendship remains the same, oh, oh, oh!"

The song was almost coming to a close, when Starsong invited a few ponies to join her in finishing it up, including the Crusaders, Flurry Heart, and of course, Pinkie Pie.

"Things may come and things may go
Some go fast and some go slow
Few things last that's all I know
But friendship carries on through the ages..."

The finale was becoming so powerful that even the crowd of dancing ponies began to join in the merriment of singing.

"Things may come and things may go
Some go fast and some go slow
Few things last that's all we know
But friendship carries on through the ages..."
"Ohhh... carries on..."

Starsong finished as the final chord on the guitar played.
The crowd once again erupted into cheers and applause as Starsong and her "backup singers" each took a bow and began to disband from the stage. Twilight finally landed back on the ballroom floor with Flash.

"He's so handsome..." she said to herself.

"Huh?" Flash raised an eyebrow.

Twilight realized that she almost let her emotions slip out and blushed again.

"I-I mean, uh.. your dancing is handsome..." the princess stammered, trying to cover up what she had just said. "I mean, uh... oh look, Cadence’s about to say something."

And Twilight was right, just after Starsong had left the stage with her bodyguards to rest and mingle, Cadence once again appeared onstage with the microphone in her aura.

"Thank you once again, Starsong for that amazing performance," Cadence announced. "Everypony else, I hope you enjoyed that little song, and please stay tuned for more coming up tonight with..."

SLAM

The ballroom doors burst open and everypony turned to see a grey pegasus mare barging in, all in a tizzy.

"Help! Somepony help me!" Derpy cried, pushing straight through the crowd up to the stage. Everypony else could only whisper among themselves at the sight of the pony before them, panicking and running around as if she were a chicken with its head cut off.

"They almost got me! They tried to eat me!"

"Whoa, whoa, slow down, Derpy..." Rainbow Dash flew towards the grey mare in an attempt to calm her down. "Who tried to eat you?"

"Muffins! Muffins!" Derpy spluttered out, not realizing what she was saying.

"Calm down, darling, you're delirious and causing a scene..." Rarity trotted over to help try to soothe her as well. She then levitated a paper bag over to the pegasus, who was still panting heavily. "Here, use this..."

After a few deep breaths in and out of the paper bag, Derpy was slightly more calm, but still terrified and panting.

"Now repeat that again, sugarcube," Applejack came to Derpy's side as well. "What tried ta get ya? What was chasing ya?"

"S-s-s-shadow p-p-p-ponies..." Derpy shuddered. "N-n-nasty, vicious, bloodthirsty shadow ponies!"

At first, there was silence among the crowd until finally, the entire ballroom erupted into uproarious laughter. Derpy's ears slowly drooped toward the ground.

They didn't believe her…

Rainbow Dash then held back her guffaws and asked, "Wait, wait, wait, were they big shadow ponies?"

"Huge!" Derpy confirmed.

"With spooky, glowing, green eyes?" Twinkleshine asked, pointing at her eyes and making them spin as everypony laughed even harder.

"Exactly!"

"Did any of them have wings like a bat pony?" Sassaflash flapped her wings mockingly.

"Big and ugly ones too!"

"And long, curved horns?" Shoeshine laughed.

"Yes!"

"And sharp, jagged fangs?" Lemonhearts stretched out her mouth to make a funny face.

"Yes! Yes! Blood stained, sharp teeth!" Derpy said. "They chased me here, they chased me there, and all the way back here again! You gotta hide me! You gotta help me!"

"Would somepony get that delusional mare out of here?!” One of the high class ponies demanded.

Two royal guards grabbed her by the hooves with their magic and began to drag Derpy out.

"Wait, wait, what? What're you doing?! No! Stop! It's true!" The grey pegasus mare stammered and struggled to break free.

Before she knew it, she was thrown back outside the castle, landing face-first into a puddle of mud, groaning and feeling quite humiliated.

Back inside, everypony continued to laugh.

"That’s our Derpy for you..." laughed Lyra Heartstrings.

"She's off her gourd more than usual, tonight!" Bon Bon put her hoof around her friend, sharing in the laugh.

"Everypony, that's enough!" Rarity spoke up, disgusted at the treatment of a fellow pony being displayed.

"Derpy is our friend," Applejack scolded. "An' Ah think she was try'n ta warn us about someth'n important! She looked really terrified, what if there really is something out there we should be concerned about?"

"Come on," Rainbow Dash stopped laughing for a moment. "A shadow pony? Why would a shadow pony be in of all places, Canterlot on an important night like this? Even if that chandelier were to come crashing down, I still wouldn't believe it!"

While Rainbow Dash continued rambling on about Derpy’s seemingly outlandish claims, unbeknownst to her and the other ponies, the chandelier hanging from the center of the ballroom ceiling began to shake uncontrollably, bursts of electrical sparks exploded from all around it.

The candles in the ballroom began to flicker.

At last, the chain and wire holding the fixture in place finally snapped in two and the chandelier began to fall at an alarming speed, right where Twilight was standing.

Twilight looked up a little too late to see the chandelier heading straight for her, and an entire crowd running to get out of the way when…

"Twilight, look out!"

Before she could react, the princess found herself pushed out of the way, and landing flat on the ballroom floor as the chandelier finally hit the ground and shattered into a twisted, broken mess.

The entire crowd of ponies gasped.

"Your Highness!" a few guards shouted, charging into the spot of the accident.

When Twilight opened her eyes, she looked up in awe to find Flash lying right on top of her, acting as a shield from the shards and pieces of glass and metal that scattered across the ballroom. Once the dust had settled, the stallion quickly got off of his date and slowly helped her get back on her hooves and straighten out her dress.

“Twilight, are you okay? Anything broken?”

"Flash... y-you saved my life..." Twilight gasped. While she was beyond shocked that she had almost met with the tragic fate of being crushed beneath a large fixture, she was more surprised that Flash, a pony she was just starting to get to know better, had just risked his own life for hers.

"Even when I'm off duty," The orange pegasus smiled, "it's still my sworn mission as a royal guard to protect the princesses, all of them."

Twilight’s cheeks went pink upon hearing Flash’s chivalrous, heroic statement. She then refocused her attention towards a crowd of concerned ponies, her friends being among them.

"Princess! Are you hurt? How did that even happen? Say something!" they all cried simultaneously.

"I'm fine, everypony," She assured. "My only question is, how did that fall all of a sudden?"

"I did not see that coming..." Rainbow’s jaw dropped, completely speechless. "But, that was the single coolest thing I ever saw a guard do, period! You were wicked, Flash!"

“Do it again! I wasn't looking!" Pinkie Pie pleaded.

Spike could only facepalm at the pink earth pony, completely missing the point that Flash had just saved their friend from being killed.

Cadence flew over to inspect the damaged chandelier.

"That doesn't make any sense," she said. "This chandelier has been bolted securely to the ceiling ever since Canterlot Castle was built."

"How could it have come loose?" Rarity wondered.

"Wait a minute..." Twilight trotted closer to also survey the damage. On the ceiling, the bolts, hook and a few small bits of chain and wire were still intact, but the rest was a heaping mess of crooked, twisted metal and broken glass.

Looking back down on the chandelier, everypony noticed that the other half of the chain had been cut, or from the looks of it, the wire seemed as if it had been bitten through.

"This was no accident. Somecreature, or something forced the chandelier to split from it’s chain and collapse!” Twilight pointed towards the damaged chain.

"But what in Equestria could've done something like this?" Cadence wondered

"Allow me, to give you a clue..." came a voice.

Everypony watched in shock and horror as a large cloud of red and black smoke and fire exploded from the center of the ballroom, pushing those caught in its wake backwards, and launching the chandelier up into the air, where it fell back down onto the banquet table, destroying it. From the cloud emerged a pair of glowing green eyes and an unholy, sinister cackle.

When the cloud had settled, standing before the surrounding crowd of ponies, was a tall, cloaked creature unlike anything they had ever seen before.

He appeared to resemble a simple unicorn pony, but was all black with a noticeably curved horn that stuck out from his hood. His face was obscured, the only noticeable features including his glowing eyes billowing with green mist, and a venomous, fanged smile as unholy as all of Tartarus, creasing his face. His hooves resembled that of a Clydesdale, but instead of fur, wisps of black, smoky matter flowed beneath them.

The crowd immediately burst into a panicked frenzy at the sight of the figure that stood before them.

"That's him! That's the pony that tried to hurt us!" Flurry Heart pointed a hoof at the creature accusingly.

"Eeek!" Minuette cried. "It's a rogue Changeling!"

"Ugh!" Fleur de Lis groaned in disgust. "It's horrid!"

"Chrysalis has returned!" yelled some of the reformed Changelings in attendance. "It's a Changeling civil war!"

"They're gonna steal our souls! Run for your lives!" Roseluck, Daisy and Lily all screamed.

"SILENCE!"

The entire room froze in terror at the sound of the creature's ear-piercing shriek, which sent out another huge shockwave that cracked all the windows. Recomposing himself, the beastly creature moved closer towards the two alicorns and five other ponies both onstage and offstage.

"The ‘Changelings’ of whom you speak of I can assure you, I am not of." he proclaimed, his voice in an otherworldly, echoey tone.

While the guests’ fearfulness at the sight of the figure before them remained, A few took small, uncertain breaths, relieved to find out he was, in fact, not an unreformed Changeling.

He looks like one of the creatures from my dreams, Twilight thought to herself, eyeing the figure standing before everyone in astonishment. To her, this particular being seemed familiar indeed. "Then... Who are you? W-what are you?"

"Who am I? What am I?" came the figure’s response. "I believe the true question is, what are we?"

The crowd of ponies and creatures looked at one another, did he say that there was more than just him?

"We are known by many names, princess..." he continued, a sly grin slowly creasing his face. "We are the fallen angels of Equestria, cast from paradise into a dark, lifeless, purgatory far worse than Tartarus itself. That being said, our species' identity shall remain a secret to the likes of you, but you may know me solely as Maldark."

The cloaked unicorn took a moment to breathe in the air around him. "There's so much fear in here, and it is delicious..."

"Alright, you better state your business here, 'Maldork'!" Rainbow Dash assertively flew over toward the figure, bravely intent on confronting this mysterious character head on. "You're crashing an invitation-only party!"

She suddenly froze as Maldark's horn enveloped in dark magic. Her throat squeezed tightly as his magic began to choke her to the point of suffocation.

"One more move or a word out of you..." he warned, his tone deepening and close to anger, "and I toss you out the fucking window..."

Maldark then threw Rainbow across the room, as if she were a rag doll. The pegasus landed on her side with a sickening crunch.

"Rainbow Dash!" Applejack and Scootaloo cried as they and the other ponies quickly ran to their friend’s aid.

The unicorn creature removed his hood, revealing the rest of his face and his mane, which billowed with dark magic as did the rest of his body, and turned to face the spectating crowd before pulling out his crystalline staff from under his cloak.

"That's the stick he dropped before!" Sweetie Belle pointed out.

"More than any stick you've ever seen, you wretched little mare..." Maldark taunted. "This is the Staff of Maleficence. A staff with powers beyond a pony's wildest nightmares. Any pony who uses it is granted unlimited power far greater than that of any other magic charm in the land."

He stomped his hoof on the ground, and from above the ceiling descended Nightshade, followed by Shadowy Eclipse, who arose from the shadows on the ground. The crowd gasped in fright at how nasty and hideously ugly the shadowy creatures appeared. Nightshade’s teeth had bits of gold in them, most likely from where the chandelier was bitten off its chain.

“That’s the one!” Fancy Pants pointed a hoof accusingly at Shadowy. “That’s the beast that singed my sweet Fleur de Lis’ mane!”

Shadowy let out a low hissing growl toward the couple, baring his sharp, fanged teeth as if he were a vampire, causing them to jump back in fright.

"Listen up, little ponies of Equestria..." Maldark boldly announced. "You have all been marked by our curse over one thousand years ago. Surrender to us now, for we have returned. Equestria is now ours, and we shall control everything within it, your magic, and your lives!"

"No, you won't..." a voice called from behind, drawing the attention of the warlock.

The crowd turned to face the source of the defiant voice.

There, in the doorway, stood Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, followed by Shining Armor and the two unicorn guards. The tall alicorn’s wings spread outward as she and her sister walked into the ballroom, positioning themselves in front of Twilight and the vile entities before them.

"Princess Celestia!" Her former protege was glad to see that her old mentor was alright and ready to help defend against whatever these demonic ponies would do next.
"Twilight, keep your distance from that warlock," Celestia warned sternly. "He's no more of a pony than I am a mule..."

"Ah, Princess Celestia..." Maldark hissed. "Such a dishonor it is, being in your presence again after so many years..."

"How did you escape?" the princess demanded. "We banished you and your entire cult!"

"You never really learn, do you, Celestia? You can't contain a being of pure shadow, we always find another way back inside."

"What do you want this time, Maldark?" Luna indignantly asked.

"My, what an interesting question, Princess Luna..." The warlock gently rubbed his staff while he pondered the alicorn’s question. "Now let's see, what do I want? What do we want? Well, I can safely say that it's not just what we want anymore, but also what our king wants..."

"King?" Rainbow Dash whispered. "What’s he talking about? Isn’t he their...?"

"Shh!" Rarity hushed, and covered the pegasus’s mouth.

"Yes, our new king to be exact. And as his second in command, it is my duty to carry out his every order and wish and it is also my clan's duty to ensure that said commands are accomplished. And he demands the immediate surrender of your throne, your kingdom, your subjects, and all of the magic in Equestria from every living thing that possesses it. It's a very simple request..."

"And what if we refuse?" Celestia raised an eyebrow.

"Well, then..." the demonic unicorn chuckled. "We'll just have to take it all from you, by force. Even if it leads to your demise..."

Celestia and Luna both looked down at the ground and then back up at their returned foe.

"You are but a fool, Maldark, if you think that I would give up the lives of myself and my subjects and submit to you and your king. Leave now or your fate will be worse than banishment."

"You're all talk, Celestia," Maldark roared, his impatience growing. "You never had the damn guts to outright defeat me!"

"You have no power here," Luna pointed her hoof at the warlock, commandingly. "Begone with you and the other unclean spirits that you dragged out with you and return to the dark, lowly void from whence you came..."

The shadowy unicorn let out a sinister, defiant chuckle.

"So be it..." he snarled, raising his staff high into the air with his magic. “Let tonight’s entertainment… BEGIN!”

With a great amount of force, Maldark drove the Staff of Maleficence firmly into the ground, creating a small earthquake. Electricity surged around the artifact, its jewel began to flicker, glowing brighter and brighter as numerous lightning bolts erupted from the gem and hit a few ponies in the crowd.

The crowd gasped in horror. Those hit by the bolts staggered, changing back into their ghastly true forms. Outside the castle, storm clouds began to form and loud crashes and flashes of thunder and lightning rang out across Equestria.

The entire ballroom fell into chaos as the shadow ponies began their attack against the screaming, panicking guests. Pastel, among them, grabbed her painting with her magic and tried her best to protect it. Starsong scrambled back to her dressing room as her bodyguards provided cover.

"Every pony, remain calm!" Cadence pleaded. "Everything is under control!"

"Listen! Everypony needs to evacuate right now!" Shining Armor called out. "Get to safety, lock your doors and protect the foals!"

The entire crowd began to clear out of the ballroom.

"SEIZE THEM!" Maldark boomed.

At those commands, a few of the Umbrum gave chase to the crowd and began wreaking havoc throughout Canterlot.

In the ballroom, the only ones left were a small army of Umbrum, the four princesses, and their friends and family. Maldark began to levitate himself high into the air with his magic, a strong wind billowing beneath his cloak.

"Well, well, well, a room with enough little flies for the spider..." the Umbrums' leader sneered, looking down on the ponies, some poised to attack while others backed away for safety.

"Alright Maldark, if my mom was able to defeat a shadow pony before, so can I! Put up your dukes!" Flurry Heart yelled, boldy squeezing through past the Crusaders and flying up to face the warlock.

"Flurry, what are you doing?" Cadence shouted. "Get back over here!"

“Listen to your mother, this is going too far! You don’t know what you’re doing!” Twilight shouted.

"Flurry Heart, we are not going to say it again, get over here this instant!”

But Flurry didn't listen. She instead ignited her horn, poised to attack. "Face the wrath of Flurry Heart, the future warrior princess of the Crystal Empire!"

Unimpressed by the pathetic display before him, Maldark raised his staff higher into the air. A bolt of lightning from the staff’s gem zapped the young alicorn filly, immobilizing her wings, and rendering her unable to move. He lowered his horn, a large magical bag appearing below them, and with his magic, proceeded to drop the helpless filly inside it.

"Flurry Heart!" the Crusaders cried, rushing to help.

"Girls, wait!" Shining Armor yelled.

But it was too late, Maldark scooped them up with his magic and dropped them into the bag as well.

"You gelding!" Cadence growled. Angry tears filled her eyes, her wings outstretched like her aunts, and ready to attack. "Don't you touch my baby!"

"Release my niece's daughter and her friends at once, Maldark..." Celestia ordered.

Maldark let out another sinister cackle, and suddenly transformed into a spectral cloud of black smoke. "You'll have to come and get them yourselves..." he then turned to Nightshade and the rest of the soldiers. "Nightshade, take care of the plucky young princess and her friends, and Shadowy Eclipse, head outside and assist the others."

Shadowy Eclipse snarled excitedly, opening his mouth, allowing drops of his toxic saliva to dribble out as he sucked it back in. He then disappeared outside to join the mayhem.

After that, Maldark flew off out of the ballroom and into the hallway.

"He’s headed back for the throne room," Shining Armor said.

"If we hurry fast enough," Luna concluded, "we might be able to retrieve that bag before we lose the girls altogether."

"Princess Celestia," Twilight asked. "What are we going to...?"

"Twilight," Celestia turned to her former faithful student. "Stay here with your friends and help defend the castle. Captain Shining, head out with your guards and help the others get to safety. We'll take care of Maldark."

And with that, the three alicorns flew off after the warlock.

"Flash, you and the other guards come with me," Shining commanded.

"Yes, sir!"

The guards quickly left to help defend the city, leaving Twilight and the rest of the Mane Six to deal with Nightshade and the rest of Maldark's forces.

"Alright, ponies." Rainbow Dash laughed, ready to defend and get her game on. "Let's shed some light on these shadow pony bast... Ah!"

Rainbow Dash was suddenly cut off before she could finish.

One unicorn Umbrum had focused her magic on the blue pegasus and the others to hoist them off the ground. Twilight’s eyes shot upward in horror as she saw her friends being lifted high into the air.

A large cage made out of dark crystals appeared out of thin air, and the five ponies and dragon were thrown in and locked inside.

"Girls!" Twilight cried out in horror. She watched as a few of the creatures grabbed the cage, holding it steadily in place with their magic. "Nicely done, my dear Moonlit Shadowdancer..." Nightshade glanced over to the one unicorn shadow that conjured the cage.

Moonlit Shadowdancer winked flirtatiously to her lieutenant.

"Now Princess Twilight, it's just us and you..."

"You horrid little villains, let us go!" Rarity demanded, pulling and shaking the bars of the cage.

Nightshade just laughed, and then turned to the other creatures, "Let her have it, my fellow shadows. Don't let her get away!"

Twilight Sparkle now found herself surrounded by an entire circle of shadow ponies. But this time her mind ran with determination, she had to save her friends, defend what was also her kingdom, and protect those who were also her subjects.

As her horn began to glow and she stared directly at her opponents, ready to battle, she thought to herself, I have to fight… for my friends… for my subjects… for Equestria!

Author's Note:

Wow, this by far, one of the longest chapters I’ve ever published. Funny story, it was going to be much longer than that, but I decided that I’ll save what I had originally planned for the chapter for chapter 3 and leave this as a cliffhanger.

Hope you guys enjoy and also check out the also recently updated “Ponyville Runaways” story.

As always, comments and polite constructive criticism is always welcome.

Stayed tuned for chapter 3 coming up soon, and remember to keep riding those magical waves of friendship!

Update: Edited on 9/5/18!