• Published 31st Jul 2012
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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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On the Right Track

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The earth’s very core shook beneath the hooves of the majestic being that plummeted before him, deep azure wings spread as wide as it stood tall, a mane like the starry sky that seemed to possess a life of its own, flowing over its dark cloak. It was possible that Twilight couldn’t be more overjoyed than she was when her eyes met the winged unicorn before them:

“Princess Luna!”

“It is my pleasure to meet you again, Twilight Sparkle,” the alicorn courteously replied, bowing her head ever so slightly before her relaxed gaze was twisted into a terrifying glare. The incoming Stalponies were none the more intimidated, which got the sovereign’s horn to shimmer and magically toss aside the zombies, her power so much vaster than the purple unicorn’s that a great amount of the horde was shoved aside.

With the temporary reduction of the mass, the princess needn’t even turn to raise a foreleg upwards before waving it forward; a battle cry was heard in the distance, and soon after, platoon upon platoon of armored ponies flocked from within the clouds, weaponry ranging from the Royal Guard’s characteristic spears to bows and - though rarely – swords already at hoof for the impending scuffle. The four grounded ones could only watch with varying degrees of awe as the Stalponies found themselves as the targets of the fearsome Night Guard’s wrath.

Twilight was well aware of their reputation; Luna’s private guard was far more aggressive than her sister’s, or at least were garbed in order to appear as such. She’d never really interacted with a pony who belonged to it, nor had she seen one up-close like she had the day shift, but rumor had it that in order to belong, changes to their very appearance were required. She’d once overhead it was about ‘order and progress’. Of course, rumors could be just that, rumors and speculation.

What wasn’t speculation was their efficiency, as she witnessed first-hand how the bat-winged ponies skillfully pierced through the enemy forces with their lances, diving in the next moment to retrieve their weapon of choice and even score a hit on some other fiend’s skull, their job finished by those who dove with the handle of a short sword on their mouth. The sharp arrows of the airborne bowponies proved to be a sufficient deterrent and sometimes deadly weapon against the skeletal beings, who were disoriented by the spike precisely stabbed between their eyes, providing all the distractions other guards needed to deliver the final blow.

“We must leave,” the princess spoke, turning to briefly study the Hylian boy, whose eyes hadn’t lain off of her since the pony’s sudden arrival. Though he tried to cover it, the princess easily saw through the façade of determination, where sincere wonder at her appearance rested.

Courageous. Defiant, but courageous, she mentally noted, lightly tilting her head with her eyes closed; a gesture the boy returned.

“The Guards will keep them away from us, but not forever. If we are to reach Ponyville in time, then we cannot wait any longer.”

“Wait, princess,” Twilight’s voice called out just as the alicorn was about to move. “Why is all of this happening? Why weren’t you with Princess Celestia at the castle?”

Luna averted the unicorn’s eyes upon the mention of her sister’s name, instead focusing on the flash produced by a lightning in the distance.

“I was busy. We were busy. There is not much I can tell you right now,” the princess spoke carefully. The last sentence irked Twilight to no end, but she remained quiet. “I can, however, tell you this much, Twilight Sparkle…”

The unicorn had never seen her princess’s features become as somber as they had now, when even the wind died to heed the alicorn’s words.

The gates of Tartarus have been opened.

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“Why are you so far away from the meeting spot?”

“Oh! You’re back!”

Miraculous though it may be, Rarity had begun to miss the pink party pony’s constantly cheerful demeanor. Forelegs on the rocky walls around them, Pinkie Pie hopped from place to place with the enthusiasm of a foal in a candy shop, admiring the pale blue minerals that stuck out from everywhere. With every new corner of the cave she visited, she would tap the stone lightly with a hoof, and right on cue, the pebbles would respond with an echo of their own, inciting an even wider smile to appear on the pony’s muzzle.

A very quiet sigh from the unicorn’s side snapped her back to reality, instead facing the yellow pegasus whose head was closer to the ground than it was to its proper position. She did feel sorry for her, what with having endured the surprise attack from those hideous, walking skeletons. Thinking back to it, she may have actually been lucky that she had appeared at such time – a moment later could perhaps have been too late.

She examined the cave in silence, casting a longer stare at the tunnel to her right before stopping on the restless pink blur.

“Pinkie, where is Rainbow? Or Applejack?”

“They’re not back yet,” she managed to say in one of her breaks. Rarity’s expression turned sour, a sentiment that morphed into forlornness when she turned to watch the darkness at the end of the passage again. Though she was well aware of both of her friends’ abilities, what means those monsters would employ to achieve their ends were still strange to her. Adding such competitiveness between them to the mix, trouble was sure to brew. “You don’t see these everyday! Actually, nopony sees these everyday! Can you imagine if somepony did? It’d be really dangerous! And boring, too!”

“Pinkie, please, this is not the time for-”

“I don’t think aaaaanypony could spend sooo much time looking at these rocks! But even if they did, it wouldn’t be a problem, because it’s these rocks, and not some other rock!”

This is starting to get too random.

“You know who’d just loooove to see one of these working though? Twilight! I mean, it didn’t work last time, but it’d really work this time!” By now, the mare was hopping on the center of the cave, forehooves waving above her head. “And then she’d shift back, then forth! Then back, then forth! Hehe! They should call these Teeter Stones and not-ooooh! What’s this?”

As she turned her back and reached into a concavity in the rocks, Rarity took the chance to roll her eyes, finally granting her friend the satisfaction of attention.

When her leg pulled back, she held a tiny, perfectly round gem in her hoof. The designer immediately cringed at the repulsiveness of its gray, blotched hue, but gradually became enamored with the clear etchings on its sparkling surface, dripping little glittering dots from the edges. The impression of an eye stared back at her, and an engraving of what seemed like a tear fell from its lower eyelid. Before she could notice, the item was floating towards her, engulfed in a blue aura.

“I knew you’d like it! It’s perfect for you, because you like to chat, and gossip, and it’s a Gossip Stone and you love gems so you probably love that gem too because well it’s not a gem but it can be!”

“It… can?”

“Well, yeah! The core is a gem!”

“But Pinkie, why… how did you know this was there?”

“Because, silly, Gossip Stones grow near these-”

Ain’t no reason to go’n leave me alone!!” the discernible accent the infuriated howl carried with it was enough to direct both ponies’ attention to the tunnel, from whence two figures began to emerge into the weak luminescence of the cave. “Ah better not catch ya doin’ that again! Somepony could’ve gotten seriously hurt!

“I see you are both well,” Rarity deadpanned, stirring a quiet giggle from the pink earth pony.

“Well, duh! Of course we’re okay! Takes more than a bag of bones to take me down!”

“Tsc, yeah. ‘specially when ye’re flyin’ over’em.” Feeling the remark had accomplished its desired goal, Applejack allowed herself to flash a cocky smile at the pegasus beside her, who remained gaping for a few moments before groaning in defeat. That mild grin would fade once she spotted the other winged pony. “Is, huh, Fluttershy okay there?”

“I-I’m okay.” The own pony replied before her companion could, much to Rarity’s surprise and delight. “I just… just want to get out of here. Those things… aren’t normal…”

“Could not agree more, darling. We simply must get out of this wretched cave.”

“Found anythin’ we can use to escape, Pinkie?”

“Huh?” the mare replied, spacing out for an instant after being distracted from her current prospecting. “Oh! Yeah! Here, follow me!”

“She’s real excited about this place,” the orange pony couldn’t help but comment as they followed Pinkie’s lead through the tightening walls of glistening stone, corridors where their only light source, much like in the cave, was the pale blue light from the naturally luminous minerals.

“I know.”

With a precautionary glance back to confirm that Fluttershy was following them taken, Rarity’s gaze fell upon the perfect sphere she still held with her telekinesis. Skilled in the action, she had already verified the contents of the orb, confirming that there was, indeed, some sort of precious gem within. What it was, or even the identity of the material surrounding it, she could not establish. Whatever it was, she could sense a great amount of magical power irradiating from inside it.

But the sketches engraved upon its surface were still what piqued her curiosity on the tiny object – it was barely the size of the underside of a hoof. The large eye, which occupied the entirety of its side, possessed a single, flawlessly round pupil that consistently stared directly into her eyes, and perhaps, she believed, even beyond that: into her mind.

“…I know.”

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The night had inexplicably grown calmer. With the ceasing of the downpour, only the distant rumble of a thunder remained echoing in the air, reverberating throughout the cave where they had taken shelter. Surely enough, the night guard seemed to have survived the skirmish, now having taken to keeping watch at the cave’s entrance, spears once more hoisted next to them should the undead foes return. The Stalponies, too, had regressed to whatever dark hole they had crawled out of, granting the group of weary ponies some much deserved rest.

The military provisions that the guard had brought along had been the first thing they had eaten since escaping the castle, supplies that the silent sentinels gladly gave away after the details of their flight from Canterlot were made clear.

Luna quietly digested the information she was receiving from her perch on the other side of the campfire, her gaze never shifting from its sternness, not even when the gruesome details of the assault were given out by Twilight herself.

Reluctant at first, the guards were eventually forced to grant Link the permission to wander with his equipment; the word of the princess was indisputable. The Hylian sat at a sort of intermediate point between the two mares, Olivia appearing to be asleep on top of his hat while he patiently waited for his turn to pipe into the story. His meal had been nothing but a couple of empty, half-eaten slices of bread; but he couldn’t complain. Hyrule had already been much crueler to him before.

“…and then we just… woke up in a cave. I know we were teleported out of there, and when I came to, I went outside and saw a winged pony fly away from us. And that pony had a cape… like yours…”

“I believe I understand what you are implying, Twilight Sparkle. However, I am afraid I did not so such a thing.” The unicorn raised an eyebrow, but before she could argue further, the princess took the word. “You did… mention, however, something peculiar. You said my sister… ‘gifted’ you the remains of her energy…”

It was clear that the memory was just as sensitive a subject for the alicorn, despite only being able to imagine how violent the scenery must have gotten afterwards. The pause was interrupted with a dismissing shake of her head.

“The only reason we found you was due to a burst of light in the middle of the woods. It… pains me to believe in such a thing, but this is my sister we are talking about,” she continued.

“I-I’m not sure if I’m following.”

“Naturally,” the matter-of-factness in the princess’s tone appeared derisive, but all present remained quiet. “It is obvious that you would not know about such a thing. But you are well-versed in all that is arcane to your limitations. Tell me, Twilight Sparkle, where does an alicorn draw its power from?”

The purple mare was obviously reeling back through her knowledge, searching for the answer.

“I… suppose from one’s own energy? Like a regular unicorn pony?”

“…you are close enough,” Luna replied, sighing in apparent relief. “Though an alicorn draws its power from ‘one’s own energy’, that is but a fraction of what one of us can accomplish. There are different sources for different alicorns: my sister relies on the sun, and I, on the moon.”

Her gaze fleetingly drifted to the relentlessly ominous clouds that concealed the sky above.

“And then… there is the one we both share. The power we, as sisters and equal rulers of Equestria, split into equivalent proportions and took for ourselves. The same force that has allowed us to shine forth through the many difficulties, and that I eventually grew to… gloat…”

Twilight knew very well the particular part of her history that was about to be told, so she inched closer to her, resting a hoof on her shoulder, getting to feel just how tense her body had gone with the mere mention of her past.

“…power is a dreadful thing to have. The power we, the alicorn sisters, wield, is by far the most frightening one of all. A power that was bestowed upon us so that we could endure the bleak events that were part of the foundation of Equestria itself, as wished by the three founding races. A power that we came to call… the Light Force.”

Link’s ears twitched upon ‘hearing’ the term. Luna seemed to take note of this, as she watched him from the corner of her eyes. He still couldn’t understand exactly what her position about him was, for in all the instances in which they’d crossed gazes, the emotions they transmitted had been mixed. As if desperation met hope and the two switched places every so often, regularly replacing each other.

“When there is light, there is darkness. They are two sides of the same coin that must coexist so that the balance may be kept. When envy began to grow in my heart, so did the inevitable corruption of the light within me. Before I could even realize it, something new had been born.”

“Nightmare Moon,” Twilight concluded. Luna offered only a weak nod in reply.

“If what you said is correct, then the only way to vanquish that spirit is to use the power of the Light Force.”

“Then… why didn’t Princess Celestia do it when she had the chance?”

“…because both of us had to be there.” A lonesome tear rolled down her cheek as she closed her eyes in contemplation. “I fear that my sister may have given you that power so that it could not be caught by the Nightmare. In doing that, she put herself into a greater risk, for she fought a dangerous enemy unarmed.”

Still, Twilight was not satisfied. Her eyes were set on the dimming flames, staring absentmindedly at their darker core, where the temperatures were higher. Something did not add up.

“But when Princess Celestia fought Nightmare Moon… wasn’t she alone too?”

“That… is a problem he is related to.” Link very nearly leaped onto his feet when all eyes were set on him. “You see, I was the vessel for the spirit of Nightmare Moon – not only that, but the ghoul had naught but been given birth. There was also the matter of the Elements of Harmony – my sister had none of those this time, I believe.”

“That must be why it was demanding that the princess relinquished the Elements…”

“Tsc… the nerve… to attack in her weakest moment… typical of such an avatar of malevolence.”

“But… what does… Link… have to do with it?” She clearly had not gotten used to how unique the name sounded yet. Luna did not answer straight away, instead taking her time to word her answer carefully.

“As you are aware, the vessel is of Hylian origin. You have witnessed already that Equestrian magic was futile against it.” Slowly turning to face the boy, she continued. “Like my sister and I, the Hylians, too, were blessed with a power greater than that which they could possibly fathom. They call such power ‘The Triforce’. Link, I believe, possesses a part of that power. Unfortunately… it would seem that the vessel, too, carries one.”

“T-Then… what does it mean?”

“I am not sure myself…”

The confession hit the unicorn’s mind like a brick, but deep down, she knew she had been expecting this. The failed confrontation with the towering creature, her tutor’s defeat at its hands… and now a mystical power that all of them seemed to possess. It was quickly becoming too much for her to assimilate, let alone believe.

“If I had to hazard a guess… I would say that the only way to defeat this foe is to somehow combine whatever power we have. Without Celestia, however… I am not sure how we shall do such a thing.”

Rising to all four legs, a movement that Twilight did not delay in following, the princess rested a hoof on her sister’s most prized student. There was a sense of familiarity in the action that she could not exact, but settled with taking in the soothing effect of the moment.

“I will trust my sister’s judgment. Her part of that power was entrusted to you, and nopony else. If she chose to have faith in you, then I, too, will.” Needless to say, Twilight was nothing short of amazed; if not for having been delegated the total confidence of her two sovereigns, then for the swiftness with which Luna had accepted to do so.

“…Thank you, princess.”

“There is much we still do not know, and even more which I have yet to tell you. For now, I must return to Canterlot and see whatever damage that has been dealt with my own eyes. I am afraid that the Night Guard will be extremely necessary there.” She raised a foreleg towards a particularly bright point in the horizon. “Ponyville lies that way. From what the guards have gathered, it is still safe to cross the periphery of the town. Worry not for the monsters you have encountered, nor with the nightmare that is Tartarus; I shall personally see to it that Ponyville remains safe.”

The alicorn lowered her head in a discreet bow, which Twilight mirrored.

“I wish thee luck on thine return home,” she bid.

“Thank you… hum, there is something else I must ask…” With the consenting nod of the princess, she sighed, summoning all of her strength to not look fragile in the moment she needed fortitude the most. “When you get there… please… find my friends. Guide them to safety.”