• 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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Intermezzo 4

The Conquering of Love

Chapter 51: Intermezzo 4

Ponyville, Reality, Midnight

Trixie slumped down on the ground, letting her back fall against the tree trunk she was beside. She mentally took inventory of her situation. Mane, ruined. Hooves, filthy. Coat, soaked. Hat, lost. Situation? Completely messed up! Who were those ponies? Were they ponies? She lifted a hoof up in front of her face and stared down at it, remembering how mangled the creatures’ hooves looked, and then noticed something new about her own. Correction! Hooves, chipped! This night just keeps getting better...

She turned and proceeded to make her way through the forest. “Great idea, Trixie. Come back to Ponyville while Twilight Sparkle and her friends are away in Canterlot. Seems like Trixie wasn’t the only one who had that idea!” she said, suddenly stepping into a deep mudhole and falling forward, her face planting itself firmly into the ground. She flailed her front hooves angrily for a moment and then went limp. She spat a few times, but it was of little use, her snout was completely covered in mud. “What in Equestria was with those two, anyway?”

She picked herself back up and made her way to the other side of the patch of woods, finding a dirt road. In the distance, she could see a grass-roofed hut with a bridge and a stream out front. Trixie raced down the road, skidding to a stop beside the stream. She took a moment to splash water onto her face and bangs, cleaning them of the mud and leaves. Behind the hut, she could see the edge of the Everfree Forest.

“Lovely, this might as well be a dead-end. There’s no way I’m going into the Everfree at night!” she said. She crossed the bridge and slowly made her way to the hut, peeking inside the window to the right of the door. “Nopony’s home. Surely they won’t mind if Trixie comes in from the rain… and the freaky shapeshifters.” Trixie put her hoof on the door handle and turned it, grinning when she found it was unlocked. She pushed the door open and then heard a voice coming from her right side.

“Do not continue through that door, and track mud onto Fluttershy’s floor.”

Trixie turned her head and saw a strange, striped creature staring back at her. “So it’s one of Twilight Sparkle’s friends’ homes. Great. Trixie can’t escape them even when they’re gone.”

“What is your intent, stranger? Speak quickly, or there may be danger.”

Trixie stamped her hoof. “Are you threatening Trixie? And must you speak in rhymes?”

“I do prefer to rhyme, but nay, I am just used to speaking this way,” the striped one replied. “So you are Trixie, or so you say. What brings you back out Ponyville way? Last I’d heard, you’d fled this town. We did not think you’d be back around.”

Trixie shut Fluttershy’s door and sighed. “So, you’re a zebra, right? Trixie is not so ignorant that she hasn’t read about your kind, but this is awfully far away from home. What brings you here?”

Zecora let out a slightly annoyed sound. “My home is wherever I choose to be, and these days, that is the Everfree. You presume to know many a thing, but ignorance is what you sling.”

“Sling? Really? Can you please cut out the bad rhyming, it’s starting to get on my nerves,” Trixie said, stomping down the path away from Fluttershy’s hut and over to Zecora. “If we have a conversation like this, it’s going to take all night! Trixie will catch her death of cold! Or maybe she’ll just die of old age.”

Zecora grinned. “I will cut my rhyming dry, if you refer to yourself just using ‘I’.”

Trixie grimaced, hesitating for a moment. “Tri… I don’t see why that’s such a big deal.”

“I don’t see why my rhyming is such a ‘big deal’,” Zecora responded in a snap. “Now, back to my question, what business do you have with Fluttershy? If she were here, she’d surely—“

“Cry?” said Trixie with a grin. “I thought you were going to stop.”

Zecora nervously tapped her hoof. “Sorry, it is quite a habit.”

“Trixie understands. Anyway, I’ll tell you everything you want to know, but can we please get out of this rain?”

“Very well. We shall journey into town and take shelter in—“

“No! Bad idea, trust me. We can’t go into town. It’s not safe.”

Zecora narrowed her eyes. “Then the auras I felt were not just my imagination. Follow me,” Zecora said, rushing up the path to Fluttershy’s hut and opening the door.

Trixie tilted her head. “I thought you said we shouldn’t go in there.”

Zecora shook her head. “No, I said that you should not. I am here to check on Fluttershy’s animals while she is away. I hereby invite you inside, but please do wipe your hooves.”

Trixie and Zecora, after a thorough hoof-wiping, stepped into Fluttershy’s hut and were immediately greeted by a very stressed-out Angel Bunny. Zecora laughed and patted the tiny bunny on his head. “Calm yourself, my little friend, and your problems I shall mend. I apologize for coming so late, I had hoped the storm would soon abate,” she said, and glanced at Trixie who was sighing and shaking her head. “Uh, yes… I shall make short work of refilling food and water here, and then we shall talk about what you saw in town.”

“I will just have a seat over here, then,” Trixie said, adding a bit of emphasis to the ‘I’ as she sat down on Fluttershy’s couch.

“Hold! One moment, if you please!” Zecora shouted, scurrying into the next room and then tossing a towel to Trixie. “Do mind your moisture, if you would. Lay down a towel first if you—“ she said, and then stopped herself. She cleared her throat and continued, “if you don’t mind.”

Trixie laughed, ran the towel over herself one time, and then laid it down on the couch before taking a seat. Wait, I just dried myself and then put the wet towel on the… Oh, nevermind. I’m too exhausted to care.

After a couple of minutes, Zecora joined Trixie with a pot of hot tea. She sat down on the opposite end of the couch, setting the tea tray down on the table. “Here, warm yourself with this, and tell me what has happened in town.”

Trixie stared down at the floor. “It’s really quite shameful, but it all started when I came into town earlier this evening. I had heard of the wedding in Canterlot, and I knew Twilight Sparkle and her friends would be out of town. You said you already knew about what happened the last time I was here.”

“Indeed. It is not every day that an ursa minor wanders into town.”

“That wasn’t my fault, though!”

“It is true, those two foals were to blame, but you boasted that the beast you could… uh, defeat.”

“Right, and I couldn’t. I was humiliated! Run out of town! All because Twilight Sparkle had to show me up!”

Zecora raised an eyebrow. “Twilight Sparkle did what she had to do. She saved the town,” she said, and then took a sip of her tea. “She saved your life.”

Trixie gritted her teeth. “I know that! I know that better than anypony! That’s the worst part about it! After that, word spread fast about what had happened. Every town I went to, I was treated like a clown rather than a magician! All my tricks and amazing magic was just laughed at because everypony knew I was just second fiddle to Twilight Sparkle! So, I began to study! Not magic, though, no, I studied her.”

“You seem to have developed an obsession. Not healthy, not at all.”

“You don’t get to judge Trixie. Know your enemy, they always say, and I had decided that Twilight Sparkle was my enemy. I learned everything I could. I went to Canterlot and read about her days at Celestia’s school. Indeed, it is no wonder I was bested! She had been hoof-picked by the princess! It was almost like she was grooming an heir! Not to mention her rich upbringing. Favoritism, I say! Even now, her brother, who happens to be captain of the royal guard, is marrying a princess! Marrying a princess!

Zecora sat her teacup down and breathed in deeply. “It is a good thing to vent to others. I will listen to all of your grievances in time, if you would have me do so, but we need to return to the matter at hoof. We need to get back to what happened in town tonight.”

Trixie took a moment to calm down. She levitated her cup of tea to her lips and had a sip. “Ah, that’s good tea. Sorry. Trixie… I mean I, didn’t mean to vent on you like that. I just don’t have anyone I can talk to, and it just came out.”

“Quite alright, Trixie my dear. Now, please, do continue.”

“Right. Okay. So I arrived in town with my cart in haul. I won’t go into the reasons too deeply. I could end up ranting again. Anyway, I came to town, and I was going to set up a show in the town square. With Twilight and her friends gone, there would be no one to rival my magical skills, and maybe I would be able to woo the crowd and get some support back. I set up my stage, and a few ponies had gathered, but then the mayor came and told me to get out of town!”

Zecora nodded. “I suppose it is somewhat understandable considering what had happened the last time you were here, but that sounds a bit extreme.”

“Exactly! But that’s not all. When I protested, the mayor looked behind me at my stage, and her eyes seemed to lit up with this strange green color. In a flash, my whole stage was on fire!”

“That sounds like some sort of magic, but the mayor is an earth pony. Her eyes flashed green, you say?”

“Precisely, but that’s not the only strange thing. This is where it starts to get scary. This pink pony with a flower cutie mark--”

“Miss Cheerilee, the school teacher.”

“Whatever, she popped out from nowhere and attacked me!”

Zecora’s eyes went wide. “Attacked you, you say? But Cheerilee is one of the most gentle ponies I know!”

“It wasn’t her, though. It just looked like her. I defended myself, surely justified at this point, and shot out a light blast of magic. She shrugged it off like it was nothing and just came at me again, so I charged up my horn and really let her have it!”

“My word! What happened then?”

“Well, Trixie may be one to boast, but her, I mean my, magic power is not weak by any means. When I say I let her have it, I mean the blast I gave her should have knocked her unconscious at least!”

“I take it that didn’t happen.”

“That’s right. What happened next, I… I almost don’t want to recall it. It was like a nightmare,” Trixie said, her eyes becoming wide. She nervously took another sip of her tea before continuing. “It was like that Cheerilee pony and the mayor, along with every other pony that had gathered from the commotion, they just… they just ignited! Bright, green flames lit up Ponyville’s town square, and before I knew it, they had changed!”

“Changed? Into what?”

“I… I don’t know! They were all black with blue, jagged wings and sharp horns! Their legs had these holes in them, and they had eyes like terrible, big… bugs!”

Zecora shakily picked up her own teacup, her mind racing with possible explanations for the story.

“Except those two, the mayor and the teacher, they were different. They had these bright, shining gemstones socketed into their horns. Their features were more like a pony than an insect, and their wings were bigger and pulsing with magic. I knew I was in trouble!”

“How did you escape?”

“I panicked. At first, I couldn’t move. They were closing in on me, but then suddenly, I remembered a spell I had read about, a teleportation spell. It was advanced magic, and I had never tried it before, but I gave it my all and then, bang! I found myself halfway across the town. I ran, hiding in the shadows. I could hear them looking for me. I dared not use any more magic. I eventually got out of the main town and wandered my way to this hut.”

“Your tale troubles me so. These creatures could take the form of the mayor, Miss Cheerilee, and other ponies. One must wonder, where is the real mayor, or the real Miss Cheerilee?”

“I don’t know, but they seem to be able to take the form of anypony they want to. When I heard them looking around for me, I peeked around a corner and saw one of them, but it had changed again to look like me! Imagine it! Someone actually impersonating The Great and Powerful Trixie! I’d be flattered if I weren’t so infuriated!”

Zecora sat her teacup down on the table and took a deep breath. “Something must be done. If these shapeshifters can look like anypony they want, then we must assume everypony we meet from here on out is one of them. With Twilight Sparkle and the others out of town, the job of protecting it falls to you and I.”

“Wait just a second!” Trixie protested, nearly slamming her teacup down. “I didn’t sign up for some Ponyville defense mission!”

Zecora frowned and stood up. “Very well, you leave me no choice, then. I shall venture into Ponyville on my own. I am an expert at hiding in shadows and not being seen.”

Trixie’s jaw gaped open. “No, you can’t! It’s too dangerous!” she shouted, and then turned her head away from Zecora. “And besides, that would leave Trixie all alone here! You can’t just leave me.”

Zecora sighed. “I can, and I must, but before I go, we must come up with a way to identify one another in case we meet again. As I said, these creatures can look like anypony, even you and I, so we must come up with a distinguishing feature to use. Something that lets us know we’re us and not them.”

Trixie nodded her head. “Right, like a mark on our legs or a piece of cloth wrapped around one of them. My, you’ve really thought this through, even in this short period of time.”

“Precisely,” Zecora said as she got up and walked over to a closet at the edge of the room. “Surely Fluttershy must have something we can use. It needs to be something less obvious than a cloth wrap, though, if they can mimic as well as you say.”

“Good thinking. That one who impersonated me was even wearing my cloak, so they can even impersonate clothing.”

Zecora rummaged through the closet a bit longer, then finally turned away from it. “Here, I believe this will do nicely,” she said, producing two tufts of pink hair.

Trixie blinked. “What are those?”

Zecora chuckled slightly. “Tail extensions, but we’ll use them differently. Weave this into the underside of your tail. If we see somepony who looks like us, we will recite a code phrase. In response, the other should swish their tail, flashing the pink at the other.”

Trixie coughed. “Could we not use the term ‘flashing the pink’?”

Zecora tilted her head for a moment, and then her eyes widened with realization. “Indeed, perhaps we should not. You understand, though, yes?”

Trixie nodded. “Right, so what’s the code phrase?”

Zecora placed a hoof against her chin briefly. “The code phrase is ‘Some weather we’re having.’ A phrase that will not be suspicious in the current weather conditions, I would think.”

“Right, and if we say it and they don’t swish their tail and show off these… tail wigs, we run.”

“Precisely so, although I intend to try and blend.”

“If you can keep your rhyming under control,” Trixie said with a smirk.

After attaching the pink hair to the undersides of their tails, Zecora headed straight for the front door. Trixie held out a hoof to her. “So, wait, you’re just leaving? Right now? Wouldn’t it be safer to wait until morning?”

Zecora shook her head. “Indeed, it would, but I must not. Every minute spent waiting is a minute somepony else could fall victim to these creatures.” She opened the door and took a couple of steps outside into the rain, then turned back to look at Trixie. “Stay indoors, ‘Great and Powerful’ Trixie. We wouldn’t want you getting wet, again.”

With that, Zecora shut the door and took off into the night. Trixie rushed to Fluttershy’s front window and glared out at Zecora as she galloped down the muddy road away from the cottage. “She dares to mock the Great and Powerful Trixie!” she shouted. A flash of lightning and the sound of thunder crashed down just as she finished saying her name. She ducked down below the windowsill and shivered. “T-T-Trixie isn’t scared of this storm! Trixie fears no shapeshifting creatures!”

Trixie leaned up against the front door and felt her body tensing up. “It’s not like Trixie is afraid of staying here by herself, either! I’ll show that Zebra that she shouldn’t underestimate Trixie!” She kicked open the door and burst out into the rainy night, quickly skidding to a stop and running back to close the door. Once it was shut, she ran across the bridge and down the muddy road after Zecora. “Hey! Wait for Trixie! I mean, me!”

Just a bit earlier, in Canterlot…

Morosa and Duval filed into the throne room of Canterlot Castle, along with many other changelings, ranging from drones to generals. Chrysalis looked down upon them all and smiled. She glanced at Morosa and Duval and pouted her lips, kissing the air and then blowing towards them.

“Good of you all to volunteer for this. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, something has gone rather wrong within the dream web. You will all be going in at once to get control of the situation. We’re activating the reset swarm spell.”

Morosa sighed and shook his head. He turned to Duval and whispered. “I wonder if this has anything to do with Mulcibar and—“

“Precisely, Morosa!” Chrysalis shouted from the throne. “Precisely. I’ll not sugar-coat this. Mulcibar and Linnai are traitors. I want them brought back here alive. Morosa, Duval, you two know them well, so you will be sent into the dream where they’ve currently taken shelter. I’m sure you can manage.”

Chrysalis stood up from the throne and stepped down from the raised platform it sat on. She walked out among the troops and lit her horn up with magic. A second later, one of the cocoons up above began to glow. Within the cocoon was a blue pegasus pony with a rainbow-colored mane. “That is where you are headed, you two. Remember, do not go easy on them, but do not be too reckless. All you have to do is kill them within the dream world. Any other kills beyond them would just be bonus points,” she said, and then continued to walk, firing small blasts of colored magic from her horn up into the cocoons. “Other than that one, there’s only a few dreams I want you all going into for the time being. I’ve lit them up, please take a look, and feel free to choose randomly. You shouldn’t encounter much resistance, but don’t expect it to be easy, either.”

The cocoons she’d covered in magical glows contained a pink earth pony with a wavy mane, a blond earth pony wearing a hat, a white unicorn with a styled purple mane, and a small purple dragon. “These are the primary targets. The three ponies I’ve highlighted are ones who bear the Elements of Harmony. I want them woken, but not put back to sleep. You see, it’s become personal,” Chrysalis continued, firing a beam of purple magic up at a cocoon containing a purple unicorn. “This one, Twilight Sparkle, has really started to get on my nerves, along with Princess Celestia and their timid little friend, Fluttershy.” She lit up Fluttershy and Celestia’s cocoons, as well. Celestia’s cocoon hung prominently in the room, right above the throne, which Chrysalis began heading back towards.

The queen sat back down upon the throne and aimed her horn out towards other cocoons, speaking and firing magic to highlight them as she spoke.

“Don’t worry about Twilight, Celestia, Fluttershy, or the cocoon that holds three little foals. It is too late to act upon them directly, we’ll just pop the reset swarm into their dreams. Secondary targets are as follows,” she said, firing magic from her horn.

A pod containing a white unicorn with spiked blue hair lit up. “Vinyl Scratch, a known anarchist even within pony society, I’m sure she could be troublesome if awoken in the dream world.”

Next to light up was a pod holding a brown earth pony that sported a collar and tie. “Doctor Hooves. He’s just an earth pony, but I can feel his raw potential. His intellect would translate to powerful dream magic if awoken, and we can’t have it.”

Her magic next illuminated three pods that held three fully uniformed Wonderbolts. “Spitfire, Soarin’, and Fleetfoot. The wonderbolts are trouble enough in reality. If Twilight and Celestia reach any of them, it would be a real setback.”

Duval groaned. “Your majesty, you said they were all in this rainbow pony’s dream right now. We can just stop them all right there. No need for all these contingencies.”

Chrysalis smiled, her eye twitching slightly. “Duval, sweetie, as much as it’s appreciated, did I ask for your input?”

Duval gulped and shifted slightly. “No, ma’am.”

Chrysalis leaned forward and nodded her head. “Then I would greatly appreciate it if you could keep your slime-sucking mouth shut!” She cleared her throat. “Very well, it is noted that you want to get on with it. Let’s move to the main event, then. Feed!”

Chrysalis lit up her horn and began to flutter her wings. A massive, pink cloud of energy began to flow from her body, as well as all the cocoons in the room. The miasma floated down to the ground, surrounding the rows of changelings, and then all opened their mouths and began to pull the love magic into themselves. A group of several changelings that were sitting at one end of the back row found themselves surrounded by a particularly bright cloud of magic. They all took it in and blinked, their eyes shaking momentarily.

The changeling at the very end glanced over and whispered to the one next to him, who nodded in response and then turned to the next changeling, passing the message. The six of them all looked upward at the same time, staring up at the same cocoon.

Chrysalis leaned back against the throne and gestured upward. “Alright, you’re all sated I hope. Now choose one of the pods I pointed out and focus on it. Enter that dreamer’s mind. Your mission is to go in, find the dreamer, and eliminate them.”

Streams of green magic shot down into the crowd of changelings, and their eyes quickly fell shut. Chrysalis stood up from the throne again and made her way down again, this time cornering back to the door that led to the rear chambers, down the stairs to where Cadence was being held. She found Cadence hanging down from the wall, limp and lifeless. She stepped over to the captive alicorn and tapped a hoof gently against her cheek.

“Still alive?” she asked, tapping a bit harder. Cadence’s mouth fell open and blood began to drizzle onto the floor. Chrysalis’ eyes went wide and her face hardened with anger. “No you don’t, bitch!” she screamed, lifting Cadence’s head and prying her mouth open with magic. Inside her mouth, she could see that she’d bit about halfway through her tongue. She was still breathing, but shallowly.

Chrysalis’ horn blazed brightly, lifting Cadence up and slamming her back against the wall. Cadence let out a scream of pain, blood spraying from her mouth. Chrysalis pressed both her hooves against Cadence’s chest and stared into her mouth. She concentrated her magic on Cadence’s tongue, now, slowly mending the flesh with a healing spell, shouting at her all the while.

“You will die when I say that you may die, and no sooner! How dare you try and end your life before that!? You little, sniveling, lowly beast of burden! You belong to me!” Her magic poured into Cadence’s mouth, her tongue nearly healed completely after less than a minute. “I do not put up with anypony damaging my property, do you understand? And make no mistake, you are my property! You will do as you are told, which still entails hanging from this wall and bleeding love magic! Not actual blood!”

With another blast of magic, a bridle with a bit attached appeared in the air next to the two of them. Chrysalis stuffed the bit into Cadence’s mouth and strapped the bridle tightly onto her head. “You made me do this, do you understand? I didn’t want to demean you further, but you leave me no choice!” she shouted, releasing Cadence. The princess fell forward, letting out a pained grunt as the chains snapped tight against her weight again. “Now I have to punish you, too. I’d hoped we were past this, honestly. I’d thought that I’d broken you sufficiently to where you would just hang here like a good little girl until this was all over. Now you’ll suffer far worse, and I don’t mean physically. You clearly don’t care about your own well-being any longer, so allow me to show you just how much worse it can get!”

The tip of Chrysalis’ horn popped with magic briefly, and a small beat of light appeared in the air just above Cadence’s head. Cadence’s ears twitched slightly and her eyes opened a mere sliver. “What is…” she muttered, no strength left in her voice.

“Yes, listen closely,” Chrysalis said with a smile. The tiny bead of magic was emitting sound.

After a second, Cadence realized it was the sound of someone lightly snoring. She sighed. “You’re going to subject me to snoring? For what, to keep me awake? I’m already used to it, Shining Armor snores every… night…” she said, her voice slowing as she finished her sentence. Her eyes turned up to look at Chrysalis, only to see a sadistic, full-toothed grin spread across her face.

“He sure does snore, doesn’t he? Sounds like he’s sleeping pretty peacefully,” Chrysalis said, turning and heading towards a door in the front of the chamber. “Let’s put a stop to that.”

“No! Stop!” Cadence shouted, straining to raise her voice. “Don’t hurt him! Please!”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Chrysalis said as she opened the door. In a flash of green fire, Chrysalis changed, her body taking on the form of Cadence. “I’m just going to go check on him, the sweet thing.” She left the room and slammed the door behind her.

Cadence hung limply again, staring at the floor. What is she going to do to him? she thought, her mind racing. Tears fell from her eyes as the sound of Shining Armor snoring filled the air. After a couple of minutes, she heard a door open from the bead. She heard hoofsteps and then the sound of someone crawling onto a bed.

“Shining, sweetie?” she heard her own voice saying.

Please, no, she prayed desperately. “Don’t hurt him! I’m the one you’re mad at, leave him alone!” she shouted into the chamber, her voice echoing ineffectually off the walls.

The sound of Shining Armor yawning and stretching now came from the beat, followed by his voice. “Hey, pumpkin. Something wrong?” he asked. Cadence couldn’t help but feel like she wanted to smile just from hearing his voice. His adorable, sleepy, ‘I just woke up’ voice. “What time is it?”

“It’s still the middle of the night, but I just had to wake you up and tell you something,” Cadence’s voice came from the magical sound bead.

“Oh yeah? What’s that?” Shining asked, his tone becoming playful.

“Mmmm, you know,” Cadence’s voice responded.

And then, there was silence, or at least that’s what Cadence thought at first. Her ears twitched as she heard the sounds of increasingly heaving breathing, as well as the sound of lips and tongues gently caressing one another. Her eyes clenched shut and she could feel her mind burning.

So this is what she meant! She pushed against her chains and screamed as loudly as she could. “Stop it, you bitch! Get off of him!”

The only response was the sound of shuffling happening on the other side of the sound blip. The slight noise of the bed creaking, and then Cadence’s own voice once again.

“Oh my, you’re so forceful! Go easy on me, sweetie, I—“

Her voice was cut off by the sound of flesh slapping against flesh, and then moaning, breathing, gasping for air. Cadence’s entire body felt like it might erupt, that her spirit might burst from it at any moment. The sounds of pleasure and ecstasy echoed off the chamber walls for a minute, then two, then five. She heard herself calling out Shining’s name, she heard Shining calling to her. She fell back down limply against the chains’ grasp, wailing as tears fell from her eyes just as the sound of the climax of pleasure erupted from the magic bead.

“Thank you, baby. I needed that so badly,” Cadence’s voice said through the tiny rift.

“You were incredible,” Shining responded, his voice distant and drained. “What a night. We should get some sleep, though.”

“Mmmm… yeah. That sounds… nice,” Cadence’s voice replied, sounding tired as well. After a couple more minutes, the sound of heavy breathing, almost snore-like, came from the portal. Cadence was still hanging from her chains, staring lifelessly at the ground, when she heard a slight tapping sound coming from the bead.

“She is asleep, now,” a voice whispered.

Shining Armor could be heard sighing in response. “Yeah, but for how long, though?”

“About the same as last time, I’d think,” the other voice responded, now clearly identifiable as Chrysalis.

Cadence perked up slightly, concentrating on the sound coming through the bead of magic.

There was a sigh and the sound of covers being rolled around on. “I don’t know how much longer I can stand this.” A voice quietly whispered, but Cadence knew it was Shining Armor. “It’s disloyal, despicable… Even if I almost completely lose control when you… she, feeds on me, it feels like part of me is dying inside.”

“Just a bit longer. This will all be over by daybreak if things go as planned.”

“It’s not like I have a choice. She just takes what she wants. You haven’t even explained to me who ‘she’ is.”

“When there is more time, I will tell you everything. I’m so sorry about this, my love.”

“Don’t call me that,” Shining whispered back with annoyance. “Speaking of which, where is Cadence? Is she okay?”

“She’s still fine, and so is your sister. They’re both fighting in their own ways, and you must also fight in yours. I’m sorry your way involves so much, uh… meaningless sex.”


Chrysalis could be heard laughing quietly. “There are plenty of stallions out there who would kill for such a posh job on a mission.”

Shining could be heard chuckling back, though his voice was still on edge. “I guess I’d be in that boat, too, if I didn’t feel such pain in my heart for Cadence. She’s the one, you know? Without her, I’d just fall apart.”

“I know,” Chrysalis replied, her voice sounding slightly annoyed now, as well. “Don’t worry; I’ll always make sure Cadence hangs in there. That’s the only reason I can’t just end—“

“Don’t talk like that,” Shining said, cutting her off. “When this is all over, I’ll protect you. That’s the deal. You’re as much a victim as me. She uses your body just like--”

“I must go. She stirs.”

The sound of Shining Armor snoring quickly returned. Cadence was now staring at the ground, her mind racing with thoughts about everything she’d just heard. She recalled something that Chrysalis had said to her before.

Help me… You have to stop her.

She’s waking up again. I can’t stop her alone. Find a way. I don’t know any other way, so...

Kill me.

Cadence blinked and swallowed weakly. She seemed off. Why would she want me to kill her? Why is Shining Armor vowing to protect her, now? Who or what is it that she keeps saying is ‘waking up’?

“Typical stallion,” Cadence’s voice came from the magic bead. “One shot and then he’s out. I hope you were listening well, little princess. Just remember, you’re both my property.”

Cadence shook her head slowly in shock. She really doesn’t know! She really has no idea what she and Shining just talked about! She’s right back to the plan to torture me! Chrysalis… Just what sort of power struggle is going on inside that head of yours?

Cadence felt magic building up in her horn. She concentrated on the words she’d heard Shining say just a moment earlier and gritted her teeth with newfound determination.

She’s the one, you know? Without her, I’d just fall apart.

“I won’t let you fall apart!” Cadence screamed as her crystal-encrusted horn blazed involuntarily, firing off a blast of love magic into the room that filled it completely. As the love magic syphoned away through the portal, Chrysalis returned through the door she’d left from before.

“So, did you enjoy our little performance?”

Cadence growled and bared her teeth at Chrysalis. “It was very enlightening!”

“Good,” Chrysalis said, and then headed for the stairs that led back up to the throne room. “Never forget it, princess.” She left the chamber, slamming the door at the top of the stairs behind her.

“Don’t worry,” Cadence said aloud. “I won’t.”

Princess Luna's Dream, Present

Scootaloo rolled across the floor several times and then stared up at the ceiling. “I’m so bored!”

Apple Bloom glanced over at the orange pegasus. “Aww, you’re just sore because ya couldn’t go along and see Rainbow Dash.”

Scootaloo scrunched her muzzle. “I am not!”

“Ya are, too!”

“Now, now, girls, no need to argue,” Sweetie Belle intervened.

“We weren’t arguing!” the other two said simultaneously. “Stop copying me!”

Scootaloo scooted across the ground towards Pinkie Pie, who was sitting in front of the pink-colored portal. “Pinkie Pie, let’s play a game or something.”

Pinkie Pie turned her head and started chattering what sounded like words, but were too fast to understand. Scootaloo jumped into the air, flapping her wings and floating back away from her.

“What in the world?”

Discord zipped through the air, stopping right above Pinkie Pie. “I didn’t quite catch all of that! Care to repeat it?”

“Oh, they woke up the Pinkie in Rainbow Dash’s dream! We still don’t know what to call her, but… Oh hey, that’s kind of scary.”

Celestia joined them, tilting her head. “What’s kind of scary?” she asked, watching with confusion as Pinkie’s face contorted from expression to expression.

“Uh… Nevermind, not anymore. Oh hey, bonus! We can stop the reset swarm! Get to it, other Pinkies!” she shouted, and then leapt to her feet and shuffled across the room towards the hallway where they’d first entered Luna’s sanctuary. She pointed her horn upward and the ceiling above her dissolved away, revealing the sky. Everyone else went over to her and looked up into the sky. A slight crack in reality could be seen forming above.

“What is that!?” Celestia gasped.

“Reset swarm. Big changeling invasion spell thingy that seems pretty scary, but actually it’s not that scary if you figure it out. Good thing Dashie figured it out!” She fired a big, swirling beam of pink magic into the sky. The fabric of the dream world seemed to shatter around it, then quickly repair itself, until it finally blasted through the sky and left sight. A second later, the small tear in the sky vanished and Pinkie re-formed the sanctuary ceiling. “Now if only she could figure out Fluttershy.”

“What about Fluttershy?” Sweetie Belle asked, still trailing behind Pinkie Pie, along with the others, as she made her way back to the pink portal and sat back down.

Pinkie patted the filly on her head. “Grown-up stuff. I’ll tell you all about it when you get older.”

Sweetie Belle shrunk down. “Grown-up stuff? Oh my gosh, I hope she didn’t get bit!”

“Bit?” Apple Bloom asked, tilting an eyebrow.

Sweetie stared ahead blankly. “The baby will burst out of her belly.”

Scootaloo shook her head and shrugged. “What are you even talking about?”

Pinkie Pie, meanwhile, was busily tinkering with something in front of the portal. Discord landed gently beside her and propped his chin up on his claws. “What have you got going on here?” he asked.

Pinkie shrugged. “I have no idea, you’d have to ask Pinkie Twi. According to what I can comprehend of her thoughts, this should be able to probe into Pinkie’s dream world here, and pop her awake in a jiffy. We won’t even have to go in there looking for her!”

As Pinkie was speaking, a flash came from the other side of the room.

“That sounds pretty convenient,” Twilight’s voice spoke from the direction of the flash.

Everyone in the room turned to look. “Twilight!” they all said at once.

Several more flashes followed as the others who had been in Rainbow Dash’s dream emerged. Mulcibar, Linnai, Fluttershy, and Princess Luna all appeared.

Scootaloo scampered forward, glancing around nervously. “Rainbow Dash? Where’s Rainbow Dash?”

Princess Luna smiled and patted Scootaloo on the head. “Don’t worry, little one, she was just saying goodbye to a couple friends of hers. She’ll be along shortly. Given the speed of that dream world, I’d say very shortly.”

Inside Rainbow Dash’s Dream World…

Rainbow Dash stood in front of a swirling, magical vortex. Pinkie Pie, Daring Do, and Gilda stood before her.

Rainbow smiled and spread her wings. “This isn’t goodbye, it’s just for a little while. Twilight and Princess Luna say that we might need to come back here again sometime. Because this dream world is moving so fast, it’s the perfect place to rest, not to mention that hotel I made is totally sweet.”

Gilda nodded her head. “Right on! We’ll be waiting for you whenever you come back. In the meantime, I think it’s about time I headed back to Avenport and checked up on my aunt and uncle.”

“Tell them I said ‘hi!’, would you?” Rainbow Dash said, and then turned to Daring. “What are you gonna do?”

Daring shrugged. “Well, I’m a changeling, so I guess I could have some fun with that. You know what, though? I think there’s a certain bartender here in this hotel that I need to have another talk with.”

Pinkie Pie laughed. “You go, girl! Meanwhile, I’ll be working with the other Pinkies on stuff! If you ever need to send us a message, look no further than your nearest available Pinkie!”

“Okay, you three. I’m out!” Dash said, and started to turn toward the portal, but was stopped by a wave of Pink magic.

“Oh no you don’t!” Pinkie said, levitating Dash over to her. “You aren’t getting away without a hug! You two, too!”

Gilda and Daring both sighed, but joined in on the group hug. Dash squirmed slightly. “Okay, okay, sheesh! I’ll miss you guys, too.”

Dash finally made her way to the portal and began to step through when she heard Gilda calling to her.

“Yo! Dash!”

Rainbow glanced over her shoulder.

“About Fluttershy,” she said, pausing to think for a moment.

“Hmm?” Dash uttered over her shoulder.

“I hope you get it all figured out. Good luck.”

Rainbow Dash smiled, nodded her head, and stepped through the portal.

Back in Luna’s dream world…

Rainbow Dash appeared in a flash of light. She looked around the sanctuary, her ears falling back against her head. “Nice… place you got here, Princess.”

“Rainbow Dash!” Scootaloo shouted, leaping into the air and latching onto Rainbow’s neck.

Dash fell forward slightly, lifting a foreleg to catch the little filly. “Whoa! Hey there, squirt! I’d heard you were here.”

“I am so, so, so, so, so, so, SO,” Scootaloo said, taking a breath in the middle. “SO happy to see you!”

Rainbow raised an eyebrow. “Yeah. Good to see you, too, kid,” she said, setting the filly back down on the ground. “Good to see you all.” Her eyes scanned the room, landing on Discord. “Well, most of you, anyway.”

Discord smirked and rolled through the air. “So, tell us, who’s your new changeling friend?”

Everyone turned to look at Vitra, even Pinkie, who had been previously distracted. She shrugged and went back to what she was doing. “That’s Vitra, she’s creepy and probably evil. She’s also apparently obsessed with Applejack even though they’ve never met. Creepy!”

Vitra gasped and pulled her hat’s brim down over her face. “Little ol’ me? I’m just here to investigate a phenomenon. I’ll help ya’all on your quest if’n ya…”

Linnai smacked the brim of Vitra’s hat and knocked it off her head. “Knock it off, princess,” she said, and then put on her own country accent. “It ain’t right fer a princess ta’ talk like that.”

Vitra stamped her hoof and growled at Linnai. “You’re just no fun at all! Fine, whatever,” she said, and then smiled, turning to the new faces in the group. “Hi there, my name is Vitra. I am the daughter of Queen Chrysalis, heir to the changeling throne, and a member of the Order of Ismara. I am at your service,” she said, and then took a bow. “Oh, and don’t worry, you don’t have to call me princess.”

Everyone stared at her, jaws dropped. Celestia stepped forward. “So, you’re her—“

“Bravo, bravo!” Discord intervened while lightly applauding, having taken his seat next to Pinkie Pie again. His voice dripped with sarcasm. “Great introduction! Were all very impressed! Now, if you don’t mind, I have a few questions about your mommy dearest.”

“Twilight!” Pinkie Pie shouted over Discord at the end of his sentence. “Do you have the gem thingy? I need the gem thingy!” Discord turned his head and looked at the pink pony, a look of insult spread across his face.

Pipe down, Celestia’s voice shot through Discord’s mind. We should be cordial, she might be more willing to talk if we’re nice.

Twilight calmly walked over to Pinkie Pie and sat down beside her, wedging herself between her and Discord. Discord sighed and rested his chin against his claws again. She floated the communications gem up in front of Pinkie and whispered to her. “Here you go. Why do you need, it, though? You’re already awakened.”

Pinkie didn’t respond, but instead started to tinker with the long, arm-like device in front of her. Twilight shrugged.

“Questions about the queen? Hopefully they’re all general questions, she and I aren’t that close,” Vitra responded to Discord.

“Not very close?” asked Celestia. “She’s your mother, so surely you—“

“I think I can solve this little misunderstanding,” Linnai spoke up. “You’re all too pony, no offense. For a changeling, a mother is just the one who brought you into this world and fed you until you could fend for yourself. Sure, she’s the queen’s daughter, but all that means is that she’s got a birthright to the throne and her word carries weight. I guess those concepts aren’t too much different from pony royalty, are they?” She flashed a grin at Princess Celestia, who returned a rather uncomfortable sort of look.

“That’s about the size of it,” Vitra said with a shrug. “It’s true, even Luzon holds a higher position than I do. At least he probably won’t live much longer.”

Linnai scoffed. “She’s also a colossal bitch, but I’m sure you already picked that up.”

“Enough, you two,” Mulcibar intervened. “Regardless of any of that, you might have some information we need. I certainly have a question or two I’d like answered.”

“What about me?” Discord said in a pathetic tone.

Pinkie began to speak loudly to Twilight, despite her earlier whispering. “Basically, this little doohickey here should be able to take the communication gem and push it into the dream world through the portal. We can then use the sound coming from it like echo-location, but with magic.” The gadget in front of her began making loud mechanical sounds.

“What’ll that do?” Twilight asked, cocking an eyebrow.

By this time, everypony else in the room had turned to stare at the back of Pinkie’s head.

The pink pony continued what she was doing, her horn occasionally sparking up with magic at seemingly random moments. “Well, if it works, which we’re 98.33%— repeating, of course—sure that it will, then it’ll zap itself to the real Pinkie and then hopefully awaken her.”

“I’m not so sure we should take a chance with it unless you’re 100% certain,” Twilight said nervously.

Pinkie giggled and placed a hoof on Twilight’s back. “Oh, Twilight! Don’t be silly. Pinkie Twi says that’s less than a 2% margin of error, it’s nothing to worry about. You should know, she’s your Pinkie!”

Twilight sighed. “That’s true, but it still makes me nervous.”

Mulcibar cleared his throat loudly. “As I was saying—“

“I tend to agree,” Princess Luna said, making her way over to Pinkie Pie and looking over her shoulder at the device. “Dreams and lucidity can be frightening when awoken. This isn’t going to be the same as waking up one of you dream Pinkies. This is the real Pinkie, her mind is supporting a whole dream world.”

“A whole dream world that’s getting ravaged by the reset swarm. We’d thought about all that, and if us Pinkies agree on one thing, it’s that we’d take the gem as a breath of hope in a dark situation like that! We’re all based on the real Pinkie, after all. I think it’ll be okay.”

“Yes, that’s all very well and good, but let’s just table that for now,” Mulcibar continued, realizing that he was going to have to speak up and quickly. “Vitra, have you noticed anything strange about the queen’s behavior in the last ten months? Any, let’s say, personality quirks?”

Vitra gazed down at the ground and rubbed her forelegs together slowly. “What do you want me to say? That she’s gone mad? That we’re all blindly following her as she leads us all to our deaths?” She turned her eyes up to Mulcibar, tears starting to form at their corners. “You’d said something similar to me before, Mulci. Do you really think she just wants us all to die?”

Mulcibar took a step back, surprised to see Vitra suddenly having an emotional reaction. “No, I’m not saying that. Not exactly,” he said, and then lifted a hoof up towards Vitra. “You’re thinking about her now, though. Linnai isn’t completely right, is she? It’s been happening to me, too. You look back at the past and see it in a different light.”

“Pinkie Pie, please desist!” Luna said from the other side of the room. Everyone turned their attention back to her and noticed that her horn was lit up and she was glaring down at Pinkie Pie. Twilight was also grabbing ahold of her, restraining her forelegs. The pink portal in front of them was now crackling and flashing brightly.

“Pinkie, we can’t just take a chance like that! You said you weren’t 100% certain, now stop this,” Twilight said. She stared into the fluctuating pink portal. In front of the portal was a metallic stand with an arm attached to the top of it. The arm was extended to the point where it was almost touching the portal’s surface. The pink communication gem was flashing in time with the portal, just centimeters away from it.

Pinkie slumped forward in Twilight’s forelegs. She sighed and lit up her horn. “Fine. I’ll stop it.”

The probe retracted, pulling the gem away from the portal. An arc of magic energy zapped between the gem and the portal with a loud bang. Everyone flinched back from the sound, and Twilight quickly used her magic to grab ahold of the gem and pull it away faster.

Two more bright flashes of magic jumped from the portal at the gem just as Twilight had grabbed it with her front hooves. The gem exploded with magic and an even louder crashing sound, and Twilight was launched backwards by the explosion.

“Twilight!” Pinkie shouted, leaping in her direction. “Are you okay?” Everyone else gasped. Celestia, Luna, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash and Linnai also leapt to Twilight’s side.

“Prudicorn! Speak to me!” Linnai shouted, grabbing ahold of Twilight’s foreleg, which was blackened slightly from the explosion.

Twilight waved her other front hoof in the air and coughed. “I’m fine. I’m fine. What a crazy backfire!”

Linnai breathed a sigh of relief and pressed her cheek against Twilight’s hoof.

Luna shook her head. “It is good that we stopped you, Pinkie. Imagine if we’d tossed that into the portal, or if it had been in Twilight’s bag when she entered.”

Twilight lifted her head and looked over at Pinkie and blinked as the portal behind her surged with power. “Uh… is it supposed to do that?”

Pinkie Pie turned her head and stared back at Twilight, her eyes glowing brightly. “I thought that we were friends!” she shouted.

Everyone gasped and took a step backwards.

Twilight shook her head and reached a hoof out towards Pinkie. “Of course we’re friends, Pinkie! What’s happening to you?”

Luna closed her eyes and lit up her horn. “I can no longer sense my dream’s Pinkie Pie. It’s like she vanished!”

“Look!” Fluttershy shouted. “Her horn and wings! They’re gone!”

Luna’s eyes shot open again. “She’s right! That’s not the Pinkie from my dream world! She is an intruder!”

Pinkie Pie turned and smiled widely at the princess. “Very astute! You’re absolutely right!” she shouted as the corners of her eyes began to bleed dark, shadowy magic outward. “I’m more than some figment of your imagination! I’m greater than this pathetic little earth pony!”

Twilight lit her horn up and stepped forward, pointing it right at Pinkie. “Let my friend go! She’s the real Pinkie Pie, isn’t she?”

Pinkie Pie laughed. “I still am! Come on, Twilight, don’t you recognize one of your bestest friends? Tell you what, I’ve got some new friends for you to meet! They’re just dying to get their hooves on you!”

“Pinkie! Why are you doing this! Stop it, now!” Rainbow Dash shouted as she spread her wings. “If you don’t stop, I’ll have to knock some sense into you!

“So violent!” Pinkie shouted back. Her eyes flashed and the portal behind her surged in size, swallowing her up. “Come join the party! I’m throwing a big bash for all of you!”

“Look out!” Twilight shouted. Everypony turned to run away from the portal, but it was too late. It bulged outward, swallowing them all up and then flashing closed, leaving no trace of its existence.

Twilight groaned and opened her eyes. She slowly stood up and tried to take in her surroundings. She found herself inside a dark place with no discernable features. The floor was cold and strangely sticky, and the only source of light was bleeding in through a barred window on a distant wall. “What happened? Where am I?”

“So, you’re awake,” a voice spoke from somewhere.

“Who’s there?”

“Don’t worry about that. Just know that you’re going to pay for what you’ve done. You’re all going to pay.”

“What we’ve done? What have we done?”

“Don’t play games. You know what you did. You hurt Pinkie Pie’s feelings! And now you’ve come here to rub salt in the wound. Well, we won’t let you!”

“Hurt Pinkie Pie? Salt in the wound? What are you talking about?”

“Stop pretending! Now, prepare to die!”

Bright lights suddenly flashed on above Twilight, combined with a spinning, prismatic disco ball that shot various shapes out all around. She found herself inside a massive coliseum. The floor appeared to be made of a shiny, pink substance and the air around her suddenly burst with the scent of candy. The stands were made of various confections with balloons for railing. The seats were jam-packed with changelings, and they all suddenly erupted with cheers.

A big, puffy marshmallow floated in the air above her, and standing upon it was a large, undisguised changeling with an amber gem socketed into his horn. He stared down at Twilight and smiled brightly. “Hi there, Twilight! We’re so happy to finally meet you! Pinkie’s told us all about you! Now, despite your past, I’m afraid we can’t let you live anymore!”

“This can’t be good,” Twilight said to herself, taking a defensive position.

To Be Continued in Book Six: Pinked

Author's Note:

Not much to say on this one! Next book, it's time to get Pinked! :pinkiecrazy:

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