• Published 31st Jul 2012
  • 15,352 Views, 623 Comments

A Link to Equestria - Wandering Quill



The Hero of Time's arrival to Equestria bears more consequence than anyone expected: the discovery of a common History... and of common enemies.

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In the Dark

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The familiar aroma of the forest that wafted in the cool air, freshened by the loud downpour in the distance, stirred Twilight back to consciousness. Her eyes, barely even open, were caught by surprise by an unexpected radiance that was too close for comfort. The unicorn grunted at the fleeting pain in her eyes and pulled her head away. A quiet crackling, associated with the warmth on her muzzle, denounced the presence of a flame burning in front of her.

Slowly, Twilight raised her head, rubbing her temples with a hoof before attempting to focus on her surroundings. She had definitely been lying on the cold, hard surface of a cave, and the latent headache she felt further confirmed that.

The events that had led to her slumber, especially in a cave, were hazy in her mind. She vaguely recalled earthquakes tearing a castle apart, leaving her involved in a wild-goose chase for the exit while the halls crumbled behind her, and upon reaching the exit, she met not the door to freedom, but the imposing figure of a dark demon. She remembered feeling lighter not a moment later, and the monster unsheathed its sword. Just before it fell on her, however, there was a flash… and everything disappeared.

Could it really have been just a dream? she pondered, gazing past the blaze before her at the mouth of the cave. It was clearly nighttime. A stormy, foreboding one at that. The occasional thunder startled her out of a trance. It didn't feel natural to the unicorn. Only once or twice had she experienced this sort of storm, and neither occasion had been pleasant.

Just then, something touched her back, putting the fur of the mare’s coat standing on end. Was there something else in the cave? Had she been abducted by some foul manticore and dragged to this cave? Who had started the fire, then?

With all the care she could muster, she began turning around, hoping to catch a glimpse of her companion without upsetting it.

Reality became painfully obvious when the green clothing of the creature sleeping beside her came into view, its shield and empty scabbard left standing against the wall while a book lied on the floor at their side. It had been no dream; Canterlot really had been attacked, and she really had escaped the clutches of evil. The ambush at the archives flashed before her eyes, reminiscing more vividly than she would have liked the fall of the provisory captain of the Royal Guard, leading to their escape and this creature’s attempt to defend both from the tall demon.

She frowned. Despite herself, it was at this young being that she felt angry. ’Hero of Time’… Big hero, can’t even defend himself…

The unusual sound of lumber plummeting against rock brought her attention back to the entrance, where a mound of small sticks now was. Throwing caution to the billowing wind outside, Twilight rushed forth, instantly feeling the full force of the rain the moment she stepped away from the grotto.

She narrowed her eyes and struggled to identify anything that could be exposed to such a rainstorm. The heap had obviously been carried by somepony before being dropped there, and it was likely that such individual was related to their situation.

It was at the verge of desistance that she spotted a figure far, far away. Its silhouette was conveniently made clear by a thunder that punished the earth beyond the hill where it stood. A cape fluttered in the wind behind it, and it was evident that, just like she observed it, so did the obscure character observe her.

When a powerful gale washed upon them, it unfurled its wings and fluttered away, blending with the ominous clouds that populated the sky. Twilight, still wrapped in an attempt to piece everything together – but finding the jigsaw much too difficult to complete – leisurely turned and left, her body begging for the comfort of the campfire.

As she lied down again, the Hylian shifted in its sleep, but did not wake up. She was unsure if she should be relieved or not; on one hoof, it was much more experienced in combat than she was. On the other…

“I need to do something else,” she muttered in a brusque effort to stop her train of thought.

We can’t leave while this storm is out there… we wouldn’t last the first mile without coming down with a cold…

Incapable of getting up again, she summoned her magic to bring the book to her side. The Hylian had promised to take care of it when they left the archives, and take care of it it had. Here was the book, in the same pristine condition she had found it.

A page was marked, and she commenced her reading there, where Equestrian was luckily the dominant language of the manuscript. The author went on to describe something the Hylians once called ‘Loftwings’, a rough sketch of an oversized pelican, ridden by a creature, following suit. The report dragged on and on, meeting its climax with the description of somepony they called ‘Hylia’, who had given birth to their realm of ‘Hyrule’. The librarian mare found herself chuckling at the etymology.

But there was also something that was consistently spoken of throughout the document. It was a weapon, persistently labeled ‘Blade of Evil’s Bane’ – what a romantic name – that was mentioned over and over again as the sword that the hero of legend carried in its journey to purge evil from the land.

Her will to read any further was suddenly lost as the remembrance of the rendezvous with the demon – Ganondorf, it said? – surfaced again. That was not what had affected her so greatly. Rather, it had been a particular element of one of the guards’ report to White Castle that she was chastising herself for ever even forgetting.

The remaining Elements of Harmony are on their way to Canterlot!

Twilight found her head resting over the closed tome, absently staring at the flames.

“I hope you’re safe…” she murmured, closing her eyes. They had been heading to Canterlot. Into Canterlot. Where it wasn’t safe. Where monsters crept. Where their likely master was. “Please be safe…”

Exhaustion soon caught up to her for the second time that night.

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The dream always started in the same way…

When her eyes opened again, she would find herself lost in the immensity of a circular chamber, its ceiling so tall not even the clouds seemed to reach it. Large as it was, though, the room itself was rather plain: four lonesome banners adorned the walls north, south, east and west, the fine tissue that composed them illustrating the silhouettes of a pony, a dragon, a griffon and another, stranger being she could not recognize, while the ground was simply devoid of any decorations. She had learned from previous ‘visits’ to this place that, from a bird’s eye view, the colorful tiles beneath her hooves revealed the same design found on compasses: a rose.

Behind her towered an incredible stone door of immense complexity in design, the variety of symbols etched upon it simply too much for one pony to take in at once. Two icons stood out from the rest. They were a pair of insignias that she had seen her entire life and recognized very well. They were the cutie marks of Equestria’s sovereigns, rationally placed at the top of the twin entryway, high above all the others, representing the royal house of their territory.

But the thing about this place that she was always amazed by was not something she could see – it was something she could hear.

It was the melodious sound of an instrument that she could not even see (was that a cello she heard in the foreground?), the same pleasant tune she knew since she was a foal and often whistled to the animals she took care of as a lullaby, a harmonious ballad apparently conducted by the pony who stood at the exact center of the rose. The untrained eye would have considered the constant waving of its hoof to be a random gesture, perhaps even madness, seeing as there was nothing else in that enormous location but the two of them.

Fluttershy knew better than that.

This pony was conducting an unseen orchestra.

“Hum… excuse me…” she murmured, but the pegasus stallion in front of her paid no mind. “Ahem… would you, hum… could you tell me where I am?”

Once more, her silent squeaking did not produce any results.

She would stand there for what felt like an eternity, in the shade of the stallion’s ignorance, her location still unknown to her. The song would carry on; the maestro would continue to guide its ensemble and their instruments in the correct direction, and she would just sit there, her innate patience apparently everlasting. Occasionally, he would rise in the air, as though taken away by excitement.

He was perhaps a prototype of the ideal stallion all mares wished for, with the flowing tailed coat on his back and faded red mane and tail over a pure white coat, strong looking wings spread out in the midst of its vocation. She knew that though she shouldn’t, she still eyeballed him enthusiastically, and the time that had passed no longer mattered.

Then, when the composition began to fade to perfect quietness, the stallion would speak, not once locking eyes with her. Instead, he would turn his head north, and stay there for the duration of his speech.

“It is the will of harmony that our legacy must shine forth.”

The monstrous roar of a train cabin scraping its way down a rocky hill muffled her shriek of panic and prompted her to violently turn her head to the left, as if to avoid witnessing a gruesome view she could not even perceive. Forelegs over a chest that rose and lowered in quick succession, she inched back from the only light source of the tight spot she had been confined to. A shadow obscured the gap soon after, and the pegasus mare held her breath.

She could barely make out what exactly that thing that dutifully patrolled the smoking rubble was. Its features whizzed by her one very thin line at a time, the bone-chilling clatter it produced with its every movement reverberating in her lowered ears.

Her heart yelled at her that she shouldn’t open the makeshift doors that secluded her from these beings, but her brain so demanded it; even if they were out there looking for her, they would never succeed if she remained hidden.

With a trembling hoof she reached for the couple of metallic surfaces. She drew her head closer to the fissure between the two surfaces to discreetly peer at her surroundings. She was still in the caves beneath Canterlot, a solid black haze still surrounded the wreckage that was once a train, and these creatures still rummaged the debris.

I-I… I can’t do it… she thought, slowly pulling away from the metal plates. T-They’ll catch me for sure…

A yelp escaped her throat when a loud, cracking noise reached her from all around. Mouth kept shut tightly by a hoof, she noticed just how much the air had stilled, and how not even the slightest hum was heard. Her body tensed and her breathing stalled. Uncertainty clung to her mind like a heavy weight in the brief moments where not a single shadow crossed her path.

A-Are… are they gone?

Her question did not remain unanswered as a simple movement in her prison was enough to summon the howls of the creatures outside, the two metal plates protecting her suddenly being ripped apart to reveal the disfigured, skeletal visages of her invaders. Their long, cadaverous arms reached out for her all at once in a cannibalistic endeavor for the pony. She froze as she stared into the glowing orbs that were once their eyes, their remainders flickering like the dying blaze of a candle. She felt herself shrinking further and further against the seat mattress that had kept her comfort. The situation reminded her too much of a coffin to not yell her lungs out:

“H-HELP! S-SOMEPONY! P-PLEASE!”

It had been in vain, she would realize when a fang latched onto the coat of her foreleg and attempted to pull the rest of the member with it, succeeding only in removing a patch of fur that it immediately spat away to resume its assault. She knew she could not reason with them, for they were anything but animals – she could not stare into their eyes and almost telepathically guess what cruel twist of fate had provoked them into this aggressive behavior. The inevitability of the situation simply served as an incentive to further crying. When her voice grew tired, she simply rested her head back, and fell into a quiet prayer.

And as if those had been answered, one of the demoniacal beings’ head flew off, causing its body to crumble to a pile of bones. An entire arm casually slid into her hideout, and she attempted to kick it away with her hind legs. Soon after, the beasts began to fall one by one as a flurry of pebbles flew in front of her.

The creatures were quick to ignore the canary colored pegasus and instinctively turn to their new enemies. The creaking of their bones at their every step was becoming as unbearable as a claw scratching a chalkboard, so much that Fluttershy covered her ears and ducked in her characteristic manner. The fright that she had managed to keep inside during the incursion was only now finding its way out of her system. She could feel the ground tremble with the on-going fight. Nevertheless, her hooves never left her ears, the idea of confronting the beasts being repulsive enough on its own.

The moment something touched her leg was the moment she unfurled her wings and slammed against the mattress as hard as she could. No matter how much she tried, she would not go through the object, and the poking continued until her legs were forced off her ears.

…please don’t hurt me please don’t hurt me please don’t hurt me please--

“Thank heavens, she’s alright…” the pony holding her spoke. Fluttershy instantly curled her forelegs against the pony, not even granting it the chance to sigh. She didn’t need to open her eyes, for the voice she’d heard was proof enough. “It is safe now, dear… they’re all gone…”

“T-They were s-so many, Rarity…” she sobbed, searching the unicorn mare’s eyes. Rarity’s worried frown soon melted into a warm smile. She embraced the pegasus as well, consenting to this ephemeral moment of relief. “W-Where are the others?”

“Waiting for us,” she whispered. “Rainbow and I were looking for you, so she’s probably gone off to find Applejack as well.”

Feeling her friend had calmed down, Rarity slowly pulled away, carefully lifting her chin so that they could look into each other’s eyes.

“Listen, dear; there are more of these foul creatures in here. Celestia knows what they’ve done to my mane… But I need you to stay strong and focused.”

Fluttershy’s attention, however, was elsewhere. She was nervously observing the cave, her mind beginning to wander back to before any of this happened. Taking note of her spiritual absence, Rarity sighed once more.

“What h-happened?” the pegasus finally spoke, a trail of tears still fresh on either side of her muzzle. “All I remember is somepony shouting a-and…”

“I don’t know…” Rarity replied. Her expression grew apprehensive. She remembered it very clearly. Looking out the window and spotting something running at the vehicle’s side… it had the appearance of a beast she was sure she would only see (or rather, imagine!) in the most horrifying tales of Nightmare Night…

To think that she would be forced to fight these beasts was something she had never dreamed of.

Then again… When did we ever have it easy as Elements of Harmony?

“R-Rarity…” Fluttershy sniffed. The unicorn hummed in reply. “C-Can we just… wait here? For them?”

She didn’t know what was going through her head when she accepted the proposal.

For her sake, was the only justification she found.