• 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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Ghost Town

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“The Light Force…”

Her part of that power was entrusted to you, and nopony else.

“Why did you have to do it? Why… me?”

The answer to such a question was painfully obvious. There were, in fact, several reasons she could point as to why she, of all of the princess’s subordinates, had been chosen as the vessel that would carry half of an enormous magical power.

If she chose to have faith in you, then I, too, will.

The princess hadn’t selected her as somepony to pass the baton to somepony else; she’d required one thing and one thing only when their eyes met for the last time in the heat of the battle:

Find me.

The cracking of a fallen twig beneath her hoof startled her and brought the path back into focus. Ponyville drew ever closer, and while she did feel extremely happy for returning to where she belonged, to the house she had been longing so much, the welfare of her friends, whose whereabouts were completely unknown to her, continued to tug at her heart.

Luna will watch over them. She won’t let anything happen.

“Hey, huh…”

Now there was a voice she hadn’t expected to hear. Just slightly tilting her head to the left, she spotted the green sprite flying at her side, at the precise position where both she and Link could face her at the same level.

“I’m… sorry,” Olivia apologized, her voice low. “You know, for… snapping back there.”

Twilight’s mouth subtly gapped in surprise, something her wide-open eyes instead expressed rather straightforwardly. It’s difficult to determine just how honest someone is being when all you can see about them is a colorful blur that might blind you when you’re too close; all you can use in those moments is their voice and your instincts. But after standing by someone’s side in a battle, your confidence in said characters develops, and in Olivia’s case, the simple fact that Link accepted her company was sufficient proof that, at least in this moment, she was being honest.

“It’s okay,” the mare finally spoke, an understanding smile slowly creeping across her features. She did, after all, own some of the blame for the untimely display of anger. “I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t have assumed anything.”

“That tends to happen with us…”

“You didn’t exactly cause the best impression some weeks ago in Canterlot.”

“…I didn’t do anything,” the fairy’s voice dripped with desperation; the silence that ensued spoke volumes for what she couldn’t say. Judging from the position of the wings, she was no longer facing the unicorn, but rather an undefined point ahead. “I don’t have anything to do with Chrysalis. Not anymore.”

“So you… participated in the attack?”

“Not directly,” Olivia replied almost instantly. Twilight began to frown; the attack did not hold any good memories for her. Perhaps more painful ones than anything else. “I was just a scout for her. The mission was simple. Infiltrate the castle, gather all the information I could about where the couple was staying, study the bride and the groom, and return with the information. But I made a mistake.”

“You were found out.”

“A guard saw me as soon as I was leaving the castle for the last time and thought I was a parasprite.”

“And Shining Armor went on full alert. The barrier. You caused the whole thing.” The inescapable flame of anger burned in her mind. By now, her voice revealed utter disbelief; she was still connecting the dots, but she had already figured it all out. “You’re responsible for the whole attack.”

Olivia barely had time to react before being plunged against the ground by an invisible force that threatened to crush her with all its might, and Twilight took the chance to loom over the defenseless sprite. Her gaze was tarnished with a rage that had been rekindled by memories deliberately pushed to the back of her mind when her fuming snout was inches away from the fairy’s bioluminescent body.

You caused everything that happened in those two days, you’re the one who led the Changeling Queen straight into the castle, and you’re the one who caused Cadance to be imprisoned in those dungeons.

“I had NOTHING to do with it! It was that or being used as fodder!”

“Then how come you’re here?! Why aren’t you with your ruler plotting against somepony else?!”

“Because I fled! Got that?! The moment Chrysalis took off to invade Canterlot, I fled! Because the last thing I wanted was to be under the rule of somepony like her!” the fairy shouted. Her voice echoed across the empty plains for a moment, as if to allow the unicorn to study her tale. “I had to do it! I didn’t have a choice!”

Link frowned at Olivia’s excuse, but kept any complaints he had to himself. He had, after all, learned much in the past few moments, especially regarding the fact that everything was in fact not always well in this land where mythical creatures roamed. Not only that, but he began to question the legitimacy of the fairy’s promise of leading him back to Hyrule, now more than ever with the new details on her background. She had lied for a living once; what kept her from doing it again now?

“Fine,” the pony sighed, raising her head again. Her horn’s faint shimmer died away, and the fairy’s wings once again buzzed with her ascent. “I… believe you.”

Without a word more, Twilight turned sharply and trotted off. Olivia simply hovered in place, gaze certainly locked on the mare that distanced herself from her and her Hylian companion. Had she a face capable of demonstrating emotions, apprehension was indubitably the feeling it would convey.

“You know… being a Changeling gives you some… perks,” she mumbled. Her tone, however, held no sentiment of its own. “You can… feel… the emotions of the others. Kind of like reading their mind. Whether you want it or not, they naturally… flow towards you.”

Link listened intently, a short nod his unasked consent for her to continue.

“She won’t forgive me. She doesn’t trust me yet. But deep down… she’s trying to. Trying to make sense out of the whole thing.”

She fell silent, absentmindedly flying forward. The boy took notice and promptly began to walk along.

“Maybe that’s just how she works,” he proposed, hoping to continue the conversation with the only friendly being in that land that understood what he said.

But the exchange ended there.

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Admittedly, she’d never been to Canterlot much.

Having been brought up in a farm for almost all of her life, Applejack was perhaps the least appropriate pony to ask for a description of the capital of the Equestrian expanse. Amidst her breaks between plowing the lands and harvesting their apple orchard, she often cast an inquisitive gaze at the distant city perched on the mountainside, its bright, marble walls shimmering dazzlingly even from such a distance, and planting in the pony’s mind the seed of curiosity regarding how it was to live in such a city. After all, Canterlot was not just any urbanization, like Manehatten had been in her filly-hood; it was much more than that, it was the hub of any and all royal activity. No matter how much the fanciness of such places failed to spark her interest, there was always a little voice in the back of her head that insisted that business there would skyrocket the moment it was set up.

But now… now there was none of that. Even when the intermittent lightning bolts shone upon them, the tall, fortress-like walls of the city never sparkled, always retaining their dim color. Everywhere they looked, smoking wreckage was all they saw, the vibrant flames burning behind the curtain of pollution appearing as the only source of light in that sinister new place.
They hadn’t seen even a single pony pass by them since their arrival, and the exit they had used was well behind them already.

There was more to this abundant, terrorizing stillness than what met the eye, however. A vicious howl boomed in the distance, then another one, and another one, until a disturbing humming perked their ears up. The cruel fate that had befallen this city suddenly became that much more apparent with the nauseous trail of crimson liquid that stained the walls and the ground, the extent of its destruction climbing the closer they got to the center of the deserted settlement. The houses, once topped by beautiful golden stars, had been reduced to a blazing pile of rubble; the fertile gardens that populated the sides of the Canterlot streets lay in total mayhem, the earth that provided a bed for their elegant flowers strewn over the pavement they stepped in a sickening mix with the ponds of water that the rain had created in its gaps.

Fluttershy shrank against her oldest friend at the sight of an ashen skull that unceremoniously rolled in the mud, the remaining bones that composed its body just a few steps away, a pile of scorched fragments waiting for Nature to do its job. The other pegasus sighed, but ultimately stretched a wing over her friend, a protective act the meeker pony gratefully took.

She couldn’t blame her; the sight was disgusting to say the least. She was on full alert herself, as, she was sure, were the others, her eyes frantically shifting left and right in a constant search for the creature that was right now targeting her as its next victim. Perhaps there wasn’t even anything watching them, lurking in the shadows and waiting for its opportunity to strike.

But it sure felt like they were being followed.

“Guys…” Rainbow whispered, coming to an abrupt halt; Fluttershy was quick on her hooves to make up for this, instantly pacing backwards to the wing’s comfort. “T-There’s something around here…”

“We know, Dashie!” Pinkie piped in before anyone else could respond. “But if you just pretend it’s not there, then it doesn’t get so scary!”

“She’s right ‘bout that. We dun’ wanna provoke these things, if they’re still here,” Applejack piped in.

“Just keep moving, darling,” Rarity added. “I’m sure there’s still somepony around who can help us.”

Despite her best efforts, the feeling wouldn’t go away. She slowly resumed her normal pacing, anxiety peaking at every little sound that reached her. She could fly away, she realized; surely, those things couldn’t catch her in the air.

And if they’re attacked? What then?

There was barely time for her to curse her bonds before a wail broke out much closer than any other had before, causing the canary yellow pegasus to crumble to the ground in shivers, forelegs over her eyes to avoid watching the impending assault of the undead.

“They’re comin’! We gotta run!” the cowpony shouted before turning sharply towards Pinkie. “And no more playin’ make-believe, Pinkie! Either we get outta here or we’re as good as dead!”

Having half-expected an unenthusiastic rebuttal, Applejack was as pleasantly surprised as the situation entitled her to be when the party pony’s expression exuded seriousness like she’d only seen few times before.

The flash of a lightning called their attention to what was behind them; it revealed the outline of a figure at the end of the road that approached them at an alarming rate; even more alarming, however, was the absurd amount of other bodies that followed the former, their cries for bloodshed becoming increasingly higher and fervent – time was running out.

“The maze. We’ll hide there.”

“That’s where there’re least ponies… so it’s where there’re the least of these things. Good thinkin’, Pinkie!”

“The buck are we waiting for then?!” Rainbow’s slip of the tongue cost her a glare from Rarity, but even that was soon forgotten when the group was on the run again, Fluttershy constantly attempting to keep up with her eyes closed while Applejack and Pinkie led the group through the debris, the skeletal foes hot on their tails even at their speeds.

Too hot at one point, in fact, as the cowpony was forced to retreat to the rear of the group to handle a pony that had risked getting too close, its prize a well-aimed kick that managed to eliminate even others that were behind it.

Grass finally became the floor that supported them when the houses and walls disappeared, giving place to the lush fields and tall trees that had somehow been spared from the tragedy that took the city just next to them. The orange pony allowed herself a moment of relaxation with their return to something remotely familiar: the wide open meadows surrounding the great labyrinth.

It was strange to note just how untouched this area was, as if the monsters had chosen that the city was an abomination and decided that it should be brought to the ground, but considered this to be too beautiful a sight to tamper with.

Even odder was the fact that they were no longer being followed, as the entire group noted – much to their massive relief – upon entering the Canterlot Gardens. The high walls of the maze loomed over them already; the diversity of statues symbolizing relevant Equestrians began to populate the grass. From previous visits, Rarity had gotten to know the names of some of these, and recalling that had a peculiarly soothing effect on her. She could clearly remember the names of the three musicians who were prominently featured all around: Natural Scale, the Baroness Plainsong, and Prince Baton, all three of which important symbols and references to ponies like the Grand Galloping Gala performers.

The arrangement of the statues, she noted, had been changed this time. Part of her knew the reason for this: the sculpture of the spirit of chaos had been relocated, this time occupying a major position directly in front of the maze’s entrance, its frightened gape still the same as it had been when her friends, the Elements of Harmony, imprisoned the fiend in its stone cage once more. Both the Baroness and the Prince had been moved to either side of Discord, their grandiose poses, for all eternity frozen in the rehearsal of a melody, appearing to be the reason why the draconequus cowered. She couldn’t help but giggle at the sight.

“Y’think they’re gone fer good?”

“They left us alone, and that’s all I care right now!”

“I wonder… if the Elements can fix all this…” the fashionista pondered out loud, eyes still set on the cringing bust. None of her friends answered, instead choosing to face the same way she did. Little drops of rain fell on her already ruined mane, but for once, she paid it no mind. With her magic, she pulled the Gossip Stone out of her bag, allowing its one-eyed look to see into her mind again. It was hypnotizing, staring into that little circular etching on that simple, sparkling rock. “Maybe this is why we were called to Canterlot after all… Maybe we were already too late.”

Time…” a disembodied voice spoke. Hearing those words was enough to quake the pony’s body and mind. “You claim to know what… time… means…

“W-Who’s there?! Show yourself!” Rainbow blurted out, only to immediately scold herself for it with the sudden burst of smoke from the cracks on the earth underhoof, geyser-like strings of dark purple fog like leaks in a gas pipe. She retreated as fast as she could, but the jets would follow her, eventually forcing the pegasus to take off so as to avoid being hit.

“A-Ah dun like the look’a this! Rarity, get away from there!”

However, the unicorn did not move. Her item floated gently back into the saddlebag, its flap closing as quietly as the swirling haze that surrounded her, creeping against the floor in a perfect circle.

“W-Who… are… y-you?”

Are you afraid, unicorn?” the voice spoke again, this time clearly originating from the clouds around her. “Do you wish to suffer the same fate as the ones who dared oppose me?

She said… GET OUTTA THERE!

No sooner did the voice finish its question than Rarity was snatched off the ring of clouds and tossed away in a messy snowball effect with the blue pegasus, their trip ending only upon crashing against the pillar of a nearby stone representation of the sun.

Humph.

The ominous vapors began to spiral upwards, surpassing their height by twice at its highest point. When it cleared, they beheld a monster unlike anything they had ever seen, its movements suggesting it was climbing its way out of a deep pit inside the sinister mist. It walked on its back legs, and the entirety of its body was covered in a dim red cloak, head kept under a shade by a large hood that revealed only its abnormally long nose and frowning mouth.

None of the ponies moved as the creature gazed around, as though the gardens had suddenly become very appealing to its hidden eyes. Tired of the landscape, the creature turned in a swift motion, cloak fluttering in the wind behind it, making its way towards the chaotic being’s prison. A gloved hand reached out for gray statuette, carefully touching the cold stone.

“The spirit of Chaos…” It uttered, raising its head up. “We seem to be alike… do we not?”

A metallic sound rang from the entity before a faintly gleaming blade escaped the inside of its coat.

Though our goals may be different… we share one weakness…” They could not see it, but they felt the creature’s eyes rest upon them as he uttered those words. “The Elements of Harmony.

The statue cracked loudly as the sword pierced it in a single, nearly imperceptible thrust, prompting gasps from the ponies that watched powerlessly. The weapon was pulled out with another revolting noise, steel slicing through stone and enlarging the fissures that already propagated from the point of encounter.

Rise… Discord.

All at once, the sculpture began to fracture itself, its once clear surface now completely scarred by a multitude of breaches that gave off the impression that the weakest of breezes could blow it apart like a house of cards. Then, when it seemed that the statue could not take it any longer, an intense light burst forth from its crevices, and before any of the present could find shelter, it exploded in a spectacular display of pitch-black smoke and lights, every fragment that composed it wildly hurling through air.

“Sweet… Celestia…” the cowpony muttered under her breath, finally daring to raise her head and let go of her hat when the resulting gale of the blast waned. Despite the thick layer of smoke that shrouded the area, there was clearly something shining ahead: a glistening pair of circular rubies that pierced the darkness and cast upon them a wicked glare, one of utter madness that could only be associated with the thundering, maniacal laugh that boomed ever louder in perfect synch with the lightning overhead.

And when that faded and the dust began to settle, their worst fears were confirmed.

“Hello… my little ponies…”

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The boy’s lower jaw hung in awe at the village that stretched in front of him, covering a good portion of the little plot of green land cut into the forests that surrounded it. He had been expecting something largely different – or so he thought, because in reality he hadn’t expected to see anything at all. How these beings had constructed the variety of yellow and white buildings that dotted the land was beyond him, but the fact was that they had.

The beaten earth road ended there, where the extensively colonized fields of grass began. Here and there, streetlights sprouted from the ground, adding the vivacity of their glow to the faint, dark orange brightness already provided by the population of thatch-roofed houses.

Yet the place held resemblances that reminded him of Hyrule, if not for the little similarities with Kakariko Village (save, perhaps, for the lack of a graveyard), then for the way it fit so naturally into the environment to the point that it blended with it, like his home, the Kokiri Forest.

Such likeness was magnified exponentially with their approach to what the mare had called her house, and Link couldn’t help feeling a pang in his heart when he found that this was, in fact, their destination. Residing in a tree – that hit too close to home for the young hero.

“This place…”

Though it was certain that the unicorn couldn’t understand what he said, sometimes pictures speak a million words, and looking back to check on the boy, the darkness was no obstacle in the interpretation of the forlorn gaze he possessed. The frown she’d kept all the way since her quarrel with the fairy softened.

“Do you like it?” she asked quietly. Link wasn’t facing her when he nodded, still engrossed in the memories and emotions a simple tree house had surfaced. Twilight smiled sympathetically, completing the final steps towards the door. “I just hope Spike isn’t too worried…”

Summoning her magic in complete silence, the door slid open, and the tree’s interior became illuminated soon after the mare went in. A weak smack of Olivia on his arm incited him to move after.

“You can, huh, put your stuff over there. I’m just gonna check on Spike and get you a place to sleep.” No objections made, she started up the staircase, disappearing behind the walls just moments later.

As per her suggestion, Link settled the scabbard and shield against the wooden bust placed on the center of the library. The first thing he thought was how… appropriately… sized everything was in comparison with him. The door frame would perhaps fit the average adult, but any taller would impede their entry without crouching.

Olivia idly browsed the books on the shelves, her intentions in actually reading any of them obviously null.

“Magic 101, Modern History of Modern Equestria for Modern Ponies, Supernaturals…” she distractedly quoted, any interest she may have had in the tomes dying with the shelf’s extent. Not finding anything worthy of her time, she let herself slump towards the boy’s hat. “I’m bored. Goodnight.”

Link did grunt at the way the fairy’s lack of consideration, but that fell on deaf ears. Reaching into his tunic, he removed the book Twilight had asked for him to keep. He’d never lost any belongings before, and he’d carried many more, so a manuscript was barely any more uncomfortable than a handful of Deku Nuts in the pocket or a boomerang and a slingshot on his belt. Or an egg. He didn’t think too fondly of the time when the egg he’d been asked to carry was nearly broken because of a Deku Scrub’s pellet.

The book ended up revealing nothing he didn’t already know; the Triforce’s creation by the Goddesses, the spirit of the hero, the Master Sword…

The Master Sword…

His latest rendezvous with Ganondorf hadn’t been the most fortunate one, and just thinking about how shoddily he’d performed made him blush. Not just that, but he’d lost his sword as well. A lengthy piece of wood was all he had for a weapon now.

“You think… we’ll be able to return home now?” the boy quietly asked.

“Yeah, yeah, I have a plan and all that…”

“And what is that plan?”

The fairy’s prolonged silence gave Link all the answers he needed.

“Just… don’t worry. We’ll be out of here before we’re neck deep in these ponies’ problems.”

And there was the fundamental reason why she wasn’t Navi.

“I was thinking we should… help them…”

“You help’em. You’re the one who wants to get back to Hyrule. Not my war to wage.”

“Link!” the mare called from the top of the stairs. “I’ve set up the guest bed. You can stay there for now. Oh!” A purplish aura enveloped the book and lightly tugged it towards the mare, as if asking for his consent. When he released it, the tome flew towards her, remaining in the air while she continued. “I see you’re reading the Sky Book!”

Slowly getting up and retrieving his equipment, he made his way towards the stairs, stopping halfway to make his attempt at communicating with her. It took several moments of pointing to and fro plus much shrugging and a great amount of groans cursing his failure, but the lavender unicorn got the point.

“I’ll just be studying this. Maybe I can find something that can point towards how we’ll fix this. Oh, don’t worry!” she quickly added when Link raised an eyebrow. “It’s not the first time I’ve done this! Seriously! Just get some rest, and I’ll tell you everything in the morning!”

…Whenever that may be…