• Published 20th Jul 2012
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The Conquering of Love - Littlecolt

Twilight finds she and her friends are trapped in their own minds and must escape.

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Horizons Ch 4 - Burst

Book Three: Horizons

Chapter Four - Burst

I definitely feel that! Discord shouted inside of Celestia’s mind. It just keeps getting more and more delicious by the second!

Celestia hauled plot through the streets of Ponyville, pushing towards Sugarcube Corner as fast as she could. How, exactly, are you helping again? Celestia projected back at Discord, once again annoyed by his presence.

You’re being followed, Discord responded. Celestia could almost hear his shrug following the statement. She turned her head and glanced back, spotting Rarity running behind her in the distance.

Rain suddenly began to pour down from the sky, accompanied by whipping winds. Celestia beared down toward the ground as she continued to gallop to the center of town. Rarity did not cease her pursuit either, though she was not making any ground on Celestia, despite the fact that the princess had to press a hoof against her head several times to keep her newly-acquired hat from blowing off of her head.

I could go up there and find out what’s happened, Discord said seriously. If it continues at this rate…

I can feel it, too! Celestia said, cutting her unwanted companion off. I intend to go up there as soon as I meet with Twilight and--

A loud boom, accompanied by a flash, cracked through the air from Cloudsdale. Celestia turned her head up to look, but couldn’t make out anything through the thick clouds of the floating city. She glanced back at Rarity quickly, and saw that she’d stopped in her tracks and was staring up at Cloudsdale as well. Celestia took the opportunity to lose her, ducking into a northern alleyway along the road.

No time to waste! Celestia thought, bursting from her disguise. Her wings shot outward like kites catching a strong wind, and she flung herself skyward with a single, mighty wing beat. Twilight will have to wait! Fluttershy may be in danger!

So you’re just going to charge in, not knowing what’s going on? Discord asked with a wicked sounding laugh. I love it when you get desperate.

You’d never understand, Celestia thought as she barreled towards Cloudsdale.

Of course I understand! Discord protested. We have to save Fluttershy! The poor dear is probably facing unspeakable horrors up there!

You’re just full of surprises today, Celestia retorted.

Discord laughed again. Of course, if anypony else could wield her Element…

Celestia shook her head. See? You don’t understand!

And I don’t want to!

Then shut up and let me fly!

Celestia didn’t hear anything from Discord for the rest of her flight.

On the ground, Rarity stood and stared towards Cloudsdale as the moon-shrouded outline of Celestia shot up towards it before her eyes.

“Princess… Celestia?” Rarity asked, placing a hoof to her chin and ignoring the now torrential downpour that was completely flattening her previously elegantly-styled mane.

A brief moment later, the hat that the inspector had taken from the shop floated down, landing in the mud in front of Rarity. She took three steps forward and looked down at the hat. Lifting off the ground with her magic, she shook it a couple of times and placed it gently on her head.

She raised her gaze skyward once more, pressing the hat down onto her head with a front hoof. “What does this mean?” she asked herself in confusion.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a flash coming from the intersecting road ahead of her, followed by Applejack running at top speed towards the center of town.

What’s going on? Rarity thought, and took off after Applejack. As she turned the corner, the hat blew off her head from another sudden wind gust. Before it could get far, Rarity instinctively twisted her head and bit down on the brim.

“Somepony is going to tell me what in the blazes is going on here!” she said through her clenched teeth, increasing speed as best as she could, Applejack dead ahead of her.

On the day of the royal wedding, the changelings beat us, Rainbow Dash! They beat us and now they’re feeding on us!

Rainbow Dash lay on the ground clutching her head. Fluttershy’s words ran through her mind over and over, never silencing.

That’s impossible! Rainbow Dash thought, opening her eyes and staring up at the wall beside her, which was covered in Wonderbolts medals, pictures, and certificates.

Doesn’t it seem a little too good to be true?

Rainbow Dash stared at the wall of her accomplishments with wide eyes. She reached a hoof out towards the wall, her foreleg shaking as she tried to recall details about each thing that was hanging up there.

It’s real! It has to be real! Rainbow Dash thought, her eyebrows lowering and her teeth clenching harder. She breathed heavily, each breath raspy and growling as it left her nostrils.

No, Rainbow Dash, what’s crazy is all this. Where did all these medals and pictures even come from if they made you a Wonderbolt so quickly, and the captain no less?

“Shut up…” Rainbow Dash snarled under her breath. She continued to stare at the wall, her extended hoof shaking, her eyes darting from one thing to another. As she thought about each one her eyes crossed, rage built inside of her. “It’s my dream! I’m living my dream!” she cried out.

This is a dream, Rainbow Dash. None of this is real.

A dream...

Rainbow Dash’s breath went still for a moment and a glowing aura began to form around her. She suddenly felt energy building up inside of her, trying to force its way out. She’d never felt anything like it before. She inhaled deeply as she felt her mind fill with swirling confusion.

Outside of her room, green lightning shot out from the clouds. The clouds themselves began to twist outward, away from her room in a wide radius. The stone that made up the tower cracked in several places, dropping debris downward, through the cloud ground and towards the surface.

Rainbow Dash pushed herself up to a sitting position. Her mouth gaped open as she stared down at her hooves in front of her. “What…is this feeling?” she said aloud as she noticed the pulsing and flowing magical aura that was beginning to seep away from her hooves. “Is this… magic? Is this really happening?”

What if this is all just an illusion, Rainbow Dash? What if none of this is real, and we’re all just dreaming?

Rainbow Dash raised her gaze towards the fireplace mantle. She stared up at the pictures of her friends. Fluttershy… What did you mean? What’s happening to me?

She raised her right hoof again, pointing it towards the mantle. She concentrated on the pictures of her friends. It’s real, it’s real, it’s real… her mind repeated internally over and over. Sweat began to bead upon her brow, her whole body shook as she flexed her muscles uncontrollably, and the pictures on the mantle began to shake.

They lifted into the air, levitating upward and towards her. She raised her other foreleg and began to move it in and out, moving the pictures along with it. With a quick motion towards her face, she pulled them inward. Her eyes stared blankly at them as Fluttershy’s words flowed through her mind.

You not wanting to go see a friend? That’s what’s crazy, Rainbow Dash, and you know it!

The lightning outside intensified, rain began to fly through the air, and strong winds began to blow in through her still-open front door. Rainbow Dash stared at the picture of her and her five best friends in a group hug. Her body still shook, and she felt the uncontrollable energy inside of her suddenly reach the breaking point.

None of this is real, Fluttershy’s voice shot once more through Rainbow’s mind.

“Shut up!!”

The picture fractured and broke into nothing but jagged shards floating in the air. A second later, a pulse of energy shot out from her, and the pictures, medals, glass panes on frames, and everything else hanging on the wall exploded with a bright flash. Her furniture blasted into bits. The fire in the fireplace burst upward. A cloud of magic and debris sprayed away from her, covering the room, impaling the walls, and scorching the ceiling..

What’s happening to me!? she thought, sweat dripping from her forehead. She stared towards the flame in front of her, still burning, and suddenly began to see a dark, twisting break in the very fabric of reality..

What’s… that? she thought, reaching out towards it, her body beginning to glow brightly once more. The green energy flowing out of her began to seep towards the fissure, and was met with a deep red-colored aura that was leaking out from the crack. The two magics intertwined and began to overlap, absorbing one another.

Cracks… she thought. Cracks in the world. Pinkie Pie said that. Everypony thought she’d lost her marbles, but… she was right! Unless… am I losing it, too?

Rainbow Dash wiped her forehead and then reached out towards the red magic. It began to come towards her. What are you? What am I?

The red energy touched her hoof, and her previously green glow began to change, becoming deep orange. Who’s there? I hear you… Rainbow thought. Pinkie?

What are you, you ask? a distorted voice echoed in Rainbow’s mind. You are exactly what I’ve been searching for. Now let me show you the way… the way to the truth!

A loud sound came from Rainbow Dash’s front door, a hoof knocking against it. The glow, the crack, and the dark magic vanished in a single, quick pulse. Rainbow jerked her head around and stared towards the doorway. The figure of an alicorn stood at the entrance and stepped towards her, into the living room.

“Princess Celestia?” Rainbow Dash asked, her eyes wide with fear from all she’d just gone through.

Princess Celestia narrowed her eyes and her horn began to glow. “Yes… Rainbow Dash?” she said in the form of a question. “What’s happened here?”

Twilight ran towards Ponyville as fast as she could, her eyes occasionally glancing upward towards Cloudsdale and the increasingly turbulent weather coming from it.

The princess will be heading back to Sugarcube corner, too. I have to get there fast, she thought. She pushed her way past a gate on a fence, which swung back as she blew through the opening. A moment later, she heard the gate slam behind her, accompanied by approaching hoofbeats. She turned her head back and saw Applejack approaching with great speed, gaining on her. Not now, AJ! Bad timing!

Twilight charged her horn with magic, concentrated, and vanished into thin air with a zap. She reappeared a good three blocks away, popping back into existence, still running forward with all her might.

Applejack grunted as she pushed forward, seeing Twilight’s quick teleportation after having been noticed. What’s she hidin’? Applejack thought as she tried to push herself even faster. She knows somethin’ about this storm. It ain’t natural, I can tell that much. What’re you thinkin’, Twi?

Applejack zipped past an intersection of two streets and a second later heard Rarity call out to her. She didn’t stop to listen to what she said, but a moment later heard the sound of the unicorn giving chase. Glancing back for a brief second, she saw the purple-maned mare running as fast as she could, holding a fancy short-brimmed hat in her teeth. Applejack chuckled briefly, then turned her eyes forward once again.

Twilight arrived at Sugarcube Corner and pushed the door open, rushing upstairs to Pinkie’s room. Mr. Cake barely had time to turn his head and speak before she’d already passed through the shop and up the stairs.

“Hey Twilight, find out… anything?” the baker asked with a confused look on his face.

“Not yet, but stay inside! There’s a bad storm going on!” Twilight shouted down to him as she turned down the hallway and shoved the door to Pinkie’s room open. She shut it after herself and clicked the lock. Leaning up against the wall at the bottom of Pinkie’s staircase, she took a moment to catch her breath.

“Okay… break time’s over,” Twilight said after a few seconds, pushing herself up the stairs. She glanced around habitually to make sure no one was there, and then flipped her bag open, levitating the small Colorscope lens out. She approached a window, pushing the curtains to the side. She slid the lens’s chain onto her horn and placed the lens itself up to her left eye. She looked out the windows up towards Cloudsdale.

She immediately noticed places along the clouds that stuck out like a sore hoof where there were small gaps in the fabric of the dream. Those must be the cracks the Pinkie was seeing, she thought. Raising her gaze even higher, she saw a massive green aura pushing its way out in pulses from Cloudsdale. She’d seen this sort of aura before, in her own dream. Changelings!

Then finally, the sight of Princess Celestia, undisguised and flying upward, caught her eye. She only saw her for a brief moment before she zipped past the upper cloud layer and out of sight.

Shoot… I wish I could get up there somehow, but I suppose I’m just grounded, Twilight thought. She levitated the pink communication gem from her bag and positioned it into her ear. Tapping it a couple of times with her hoof, she hunched down and hid.

“Come on, Pinkie. Please, be there!” she whispered.

“Why are we whispering?” came a voice through the communication gem.

Back in the streets of Ponyville, Applejack had reached the town center and stopped running, looking around for signs of where Twilight had gone. Rarity, breathing heavily, finally caught up and sat down next to Applejack. She pulled the hat out from her teeth and put it onto her head.

“That pony…” Rarity started, breathing heavily between every couple of words, “with Twilight… was… Princess Celestia.”

Applejack stared at Rarity. “You sure?” she asked. Rarity just nodded as she continued to breathe deeply. “Well I’ll be. Wonder why she looked like that.”

“She said… she was… investigating Pinkie Pie,” Rarity managed to exhale.

Applejack stared gravely down at Rarity. “You didn’t break yer Pinkie Promise, did ya?” she asked, swallowing roughly. Rarity shook her head. “Good. Can’t be havin’ that, now.” She turned her head towards Sugarcube Corner at the far end of the square. Movement from the top floor window caught her eye, but when she looked in that direction, nothing was there.

Pinkie Pie, eh? Applejack thought.

“Come on, Rarity. I just put 2 and 2 together,” Applejack said with a grin.

Rarity, who had regained her composure but was now soaked from the rain, stood up and began to walk towards Sugarcube Corner. “I never knew math was your strong suit,” she said jokingly.

“Hardy har,” Applejack replied. “Let’s go, I got a sneakin’ suspicion that Twilight’s in there and she knows way more’n she’s tellin’ us.”

The two ponies made the way to the door of Sugarcube Corner and pushed it open, entering the shop. Mr. Cake looked up at the two wet ponies and shook his head. “It’s not the kind of night you’d wanna be out there, ladies. You lookin’ for Twilight?” he said in greeting.

Applejack just nodded her head while Rarity advanced quickly towards the counter and picked up a towel from behind it with her magic, daintily mopping her mane dry. As if by magic, her mane regained its previous form as the water was gradually wicked away.

“Let’s go, Rare,” Applejack said, trotting towards the stairs in the back. “Twi’s got some explainin’ ta’ do.”

Rarity shrugged and followed Applejack up the stairs and down the Cakes’ hallway towards the door to Pinkie’s room at the end. Applejack reached a hoof out and grabbed the door handle, turning and pushing, but it resisted with a metallic clanking sound.

“Locked…” Applejack said suspiciously.

On the other side of the door and up the flight of stairs that led into Pinkie Pie’s room, Twilight Sparkle sat against the windows, clutching her hoof against her ear and whispering at the communication gem. “Pinkie, something is going on here, and I still don’t have a grasp on all this!” Twilight whispered back urgently. “Princess Celestia has flown up to Cloudsdale, which is hovering over Ponyville for some reason! Pinkie Pie apparently went crazy and has disappeared, and nopony knows anything about where she went, or at least won't say anything about it! She wrote a bunch of crazy notes all over the walls here about cracks in the world, and I can see them everywhere through the Colorscope!”

After a moment of silence, Pinkie’s voice crackled through the communicator. “So, I guess it’s pointless for me to ask you to connect me to Pinkie now, then?”

“Like I said! She disappeared! Nopony knows where she went!” Twilight whispered back, at almost a speaking level. “Pinkie, I don’t know what to do! The green magic coming down from cloudsdale is just like the changelings had used in the other dreams! Something awful is going to happen, I just know it! Fluttershy is up there, and I have no idea if she’s okay or not!”

“WHAT?” Pinkie shouted through the communication gem. “What did you do, split up?” she asked, almost scolding.

Twilight hung her head. “Yes, we did. We thought it was Rainbow Dash’s dream, and so Fluttershy went to Cloudsdale to try and get her to come down and see us all together…” Twilight said, hesitating at that point. “But I don’t think things went as well as planned. She could have been spotted by the dream's Fluttershy, or even tried to wake up Rainbow Dash on her own!”

“Well that last one could be bad, but shouldn’t end up being the worst, right?” Pinkie asked, looking for a positive note. “I mean, you’re still there. The dream isn’t ending.”

“That’s just it, though. I think this might be Apple Bloom’s dream!” Twilight exclaimed, not even whispering anymore. “I saw her use a strange power at the farm just before this all started happening! I don’t know for sure, but I think it was lucidity!”

A banging at the door interrupted Twilight. Applejack’s voice shot across the threshold. “What about Apple Bloom? Twilight, we know yer up there, let us in!” she yelled. “What’s goin’ on, and what was Celestia doin’ here disguised?”

Twilight fumbled to stuff the Colorscope lens into her saddle bag. “Applejack’s here! She heard me! I’ll tell you more later!” Twilight whispered, then levitated the earpiece down into her bag as well. She stumbled towards the staircase and used her magic to unlock and open the door. She was greeted by Applejack’s glaring eyes and Rarity’s still partially soaked visage.

“Hey girls,” Twilight said nervously. “I guess this must seem kind of strange.”

Applejack glared. “Look, Twilight, I’m sure you have a reasonable explanation fer this, and I’d love ta hear it.” She pushed her way past Twilight and walked up the stairs to Pinkie’s room, taking a seat by the window. Twilight followed her slowly, her eyes trained to the floor. Applejack pointed a hoof out the window. “This crazy storm and green lightnin’ pops up all the sudden, and you take off like a bat outta Tartarus. I don’t know much about magic, so I got no clue. I just know it can’t be good.”

Twilight sighed. “You’re right, AJ. It’s not good. I don’t know how bad, yet, but it could be…” she hesitated, searching for the right words. “It could be the worst imaginable event.”

“So tell us, my dear,” Rarity said calmly as she finally made her way up the stairs to join them. “We’re your friends. You know we’ll stick by you no matter what, so you have to tell us. It must be serious to have brought not only you, but the princess, back from canterlot a day early.”

Twilight breathed in deeply, knowing that her choice of words, and the story she tells, could have similar catastrophic consequences to whatever might have happened in Cloudsdale. She glanced around the bedroom, the walls covered in writing and pictures, and suddenly focused in on three big scribbled words.


“What if I told you that Pinkie Pie wasn’t so crazy after all?” Twilight proposed, moving her hoof in a circular motion against the wooden floor. “What if there really were cracks in the world, as it were? What if something awful was trying to break through and destroy Equestria?”

Rarity sat down and also stared toward the ground, her eyes shaking slightly. Applejack looked at Twilight with intensity.

“I’d say we need ta stop it,” Applejack said matter-of-factly. “But you gotta tell us everything. We heard ya in here talkin’, Twi. I know you talk to yerself sometimes, but that didn’t sound like yer usual anxious banter. I heard ya say somethin’ about Apple Bloom. Apple Bloom’s dream, you said. Does this hafta do with her… weird cutie mark?”

Twilight looked up at Applejack. “Weird? What’s weird about it?” she asked nervously, cursing herself for speaking too loudly to Pinkie Twi.

Applejack shook her head. “As happy as she mighta been ta’ discover her talent, there’s always been a naggin’ suspicion at the backa my mind. That talent don’t seem natural. It’s somethin’ a unicorn would have, not an earth pony like Apple Bloom,” she rattled off. “Does that hafta do with what drove Pinkie ta’ run away? She started seein’ those weird cracks, as she called ‘em, the very same day Apple Bloom n’ Sweetie Belle got their cutie marks.”

She explained it away all by herself… Twilight thought, dumbfounded. It’s almost like she can see… what’s not quite right here. All those events are parts of what’s wrong with this world.

Twilight looked up at Applejack and into her eyes. The intense stare that met hers made her remember the real Applejack and her determination.

“Rarity, the princess had gone to see you to ask about Pinkie Pie,” Twilight said. “You were the last pony to see Pinkie before she disappeared.

Rarity looked up at Twilight despondently. “She asked me, yes,” she replied nervously.

Twilight noticed Applejack lowering her head and rubbing a hoof against her other foreleg nervously. She looked back and forth between the two of them for a second before finally turning back to Rarity. “And?” she asked expectantly.

“And I couldn’t tell her anything,” Rarity admitted. “I… I couldn’t… I made a Pinkie Promise.”

Twilight’s jaw dropped. “What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked, her voice becoming angry. “You can’t be serious!” Twilight stood up, waving a hoof in the air and shouting now.

Applejack raised a foreleg towards Twilight. “Come on, Twi, you know you can’t break a--”

“Like buck you can’t!” Twilight said, glaring down at Applejack. “I’m shocked at you, AJ! For a second, I really thought that might be you, but you can’t even…” she stopped herself.

To break a promise would be dishonest, too, but… no, I’m going down the wrong path! Twilight thought. AJ would know better than to keep a secret that could save a friend, even the entire world! I have to make this seem even more urgent.

“I’m sorry, girls,” Twilight said, sitting back down. “I’ll be straight with you both. If we don’t find out what Pinkie knew and where she went, as well as what happened up there in Cloudsdale, there will be an event that will make what happened in Canterlot during the wedding seem like Trixie issuing a threat against Ponyville.”

Applejack shook her head. “What… does that mean?” she asked, swallowing.

“Changelings, girls. We don’t know how, but Pinkie may be the key to this. As soon as the princess gets back, we can explain in greater detail, but for now--”

Twilight was cut off by a flash of yellow crashing through the window behind her. Fluttershy spilled into the room and tackled Twilight, rolling them both across the floor.

“Twilight! Rainbow Dash! Changeling! I told her--!” Fluttershy started before Twilight forcefully twisted her head around so she’d see Applejack and Rarity. Fluttershy stared at them for a moment. She cleared her throat and breathed in deeply. “I told her about changelings! She said she remembered them! That was all! It was a nice visit! Hehe!” she said, still shouting.

Twilight slapped a hoof over her face. Great! She tried to wake up Rainbow Dash, and when Dash turned into a Changeling, she ran. Hopefully the princess can handle it quickly without any problems, Twilight thought, looking out the window. The rain had stopped at some point, and she hadn’t noticed. There was no more green lightning, either.

“Good, Fluttershy,” said Twilight, pointing out the window. “I don’t think there’s much to worry about, though, other than the Pinkie Pie issue. And the fact that she noticed the changelings were going to invade before anypony else did. Remember?” she asked, hoping Fluttershy would get the picture.

Fluttershy nodded, finally getting off of Twilight and joining Applejack and Rarity by the now broken window. Twilight followed her after pushing herself up from the ground as well. She took a seat next to Rarity and put a hoof on her shoulder.

“Rarity, I know you made a promise, but the fate of Equestria could be riding on what you know, what Pinkie Pie knows,” Twilight said.

Rarity shook her head. “Why couldn’t you tell us?” she asked, not looking at Twilight. “Why did the princess disguise herself? Why didn’t you come to us all directly?”

“Rarity, we were--” Twilight started, but was interrupted by Rarity turning to look at Twilight, tears now streaming down her cheeks.

“You were what, Twilight? Aren’t we all friends? Aren’t we all the bearers of the Elements of harmony for a reason? To protect Equestria, right?”

Applejack intervened. “Come on, Rarity, Twilight and the princess musta had their reasons,” she said with a nod. “Trust has ta go both ways, ya know. What matters is she told us now, and I think you can see as well as I can that it musta been important to keep it quiet.”

Rarity wiped her eyes and smiled. “Sorry, I just… very well,” she said. “Pinkie Promise or not, if we can save Equestria… save Pinkie… then I will tell you what Pinkie told me. I don’t actually expect you to believe it, though.”

“After what I’ve been through, I’d believe a lot of things, Rarity,” Twilight responded confidently.

“Just give me a moment, please,” Rarity said. “I need to think for a moment to make sure I am remembering everything. A glass of water would help, too, I’m rather parched after all that running.”

Twilight smiled. “Let’s go down to the shop, then,” Twilight replied, not at all nervous about the Cakes overhearing them.

In fact, this whole situation has reminded me of something that I may have forgotten briefly, Twilight thought as the four of them went back down the stairs and away from the strange atmosphere that enveloped Pinkie’s room. Dreams or not, these are all ponies that are based upon my friends. If anything, the Cakes will be relieved to finally hear about Pinkie and be given some reassurance that we’ll find her.

Celestia turned her head, looking around the mess of a room that she now found herself in. The entire place was in shambles, as if a tornado had torn its way through. Rainbow Dash sat as still as can be, staring up at the princess with nervously shaking eyes. The princess stared back down at her, seeing the fear in the blue mare’s eyes.

“I’m sorry, are you okay?” Celestia asked gently, not wanting to scare her any further. She stepped forward and reached a hoof out towards Rainbow Dash, who hesitantly took it and pulled herself up to a shaky standing position. Upon contact, Celestia closed her eyes briefly, trying to feel any resonant magic that was clinging to her.

A vision of two brightly shining white eyes, surrounded by pulsing dark magic appeared in her field of vision. She quickly opened her eyes again, gasping slightly. Rainbow Dash flinched back a bit in response.

“Sorry, yeah,” Rainbow Dash finally managed. “I’m just a bit shaken up, sorry.”

“Understandable,” the princess responded. “So, what happened here?” she asked again.

Rainbow Dash shook her head. “I don’t know. It was like… crazy. I couldn’t keep track of it all… There was this-” she started, and then was cut off by a piercing pain shooting through her head.

I can’t tell her, I can’t tell her! Rainbow Dash thought to herself, almost as if driven by an outside force. This world is a fraud! I have to get out of here! I can’t let her stop me! She shook her head again and placed a hoof against her brow.

“There was this lightning,” Rainbow Dash finally finished.

Celestia nodded her head. “Yes, I saw it. It almost seemed to be coming from here. I was worried about you, Rainbow Dash.”

“It shot through here!” Rainbow Dash said, swinging her hoof forward from her forehead. “That must be it. That’s why everything’s destroyed in here. Sorry, I’m just a little shocked,” she finished, adding a forced chuckle.

She’s lying to me, Celestia thought, lowering her eyebrows and staring at Rainbow’s face. I’ll try a different approach.

“Was Fluttershy here?” Celestia asked outright, watching to gauge Dash’s reaction.

How did she know that? Rainbow Dash thought, turning away from Celestia and stepping away from her.

“Yeah. It’s a good thing she left before this all happened, too,” Rainbow responded semi-honestly. “Why do you ask?”

“I was down at Sugarcube Corner with Twilight waiting for her to come back down with you,” Celestia said plainly.

“Why were you there?” Rainbow Dash asked, looking over her shoulder. Her eyes were immediately met by Celestia, which were staring back with intensity.

She knows! the distorted voice whispered in Rainbow Dash’s ear.

“Where did Fluttershy go?” Celestia asked, not giving a response.

“Was it something to do with Pinkie Pie?” Rainbow asked, her mind filling with the vision of the crack in reality she’d seen.

She’s stalling, Discord’s voice whispered to Celestia.

“Where’s Fluttershy?” Celestia asked again. The tension in the room was palpable.

“Did someone break a Pinkie Promise?” Rainbow Dash asked, wide-eyed as sweat rolled down her cheeks.

“What happens if they do?” Celestia replied, her curiosity over the obsession with Pinkie Promises getting the best of her.

Rainbow Dash averted her eyes and turned away from the princess. “Sorry… I don’t know where Fluttershy went. She left,” she said. “I’m sorry, Princess Celestia. I think I need to get some rest.”

Celestia sighed. “Very well, then. I’ll return to Ponyville,” she said, taking a few steps towards the door. “I’m looking forward to your show tomorrow, Rainbow Dash. I hope you’re ready for it after all this.”

I’ll stay and keep an eye on her, Discord said with a laugh in Celestia’s mind. The chaos is swirling all around her. Something happened, and she’s not telling us.

No, you should return to the ground with me. We need to make sure Fluttershy is okay and Twilight knows what happened, Celestia repsonded. Besides, I’d rather you not run off on your own.

Hmmph! Discord scoffed. You can’t stop me, Celestia! You’re not my keeper in this world!

Celestia walked out of Rainbow Dash’s door, narrowing her eyes. If you ever want a chance at real freedom, you’ll do as I say.

Discord growled at her ultimatum. You should know that won’t work. Do you want me to stay and watch her or not? he asked. I won’t play your mind games, princess.

Celestia sighed and shut Rainbow Dash’s door, taking one last look at the blue pegasus, who was still sitting and staring towards her silently. Do as you please. Just don’t cause any trouble. Whatever happened to Dash, us being here may only exacerbate the situation. I honestly think it’s best that she rest. The possibility of her being the dreamer has... risen dramatically.

If you say so… Discord said, his smirk able to be heard through his tone.

What’s that supposed to mean?

There was no response. Celestia sighed and began a more calm downward flight towards the ground. The weather had calmed down, the green energy was no longer flying through the air, and the rain was now just a memory.

As the princess flew out of view from Rainbow Dash’s room, the door to her quarters opened once more. On the other side, Rainbow Dash sat with her hoof outstretched, staring through the open doorway for a moment. With a flick of her hoof, the door closed and then a layer of clouds spiraled upward, shouding the windows and covering the doorway.

A barely noticeable flash of red, followed by a steady orange glow, emanated silently from behind the clouds.

Rainbow Dash… The Element of Loyalty… You shall be the bringer of this world’s end.

Author's Note:

What now, Rainbow Dash? Reach into the void and find the truth.

The truth shall set you free... right?

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