• Published 28th Mar 2020
  • 1,802 Views, 25 Comments

Starlight Glimmer and the Runekeepers - JPHyperX

Starlight Glimmer's life changes when she finds an ancient secret she must uncover. Meanwhile, assassins plan to kill Twilight Sparkle.

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Chapter 1: A New Problem

Written by JPHyperX
Translated by Assarak and JPHyperX
Proof Reader Moonshine Nutrix

Magic comes in all shapes and colors. Every living being is connected to it, some stronger than others. Unicorns and alicorns, for instance, have a rather strong bond to the arcane forces. That’s why they can use them actively.

There is active magic and passive magic.

Active magic is recognizable by its visual appearance. A shine, flicker or beam.

Give three examples: Unicorn Magic, Changeling Transformation and Chaos Magic

Passive magic is hard to control, but can be triggered by emotions or is inherited in creatures and objects, such as artefacts.

Give three examples: Cutie-Mark Magic, Crystal Heart Magic and The Magic of Friendship.

Starlight Glimmer gave full points for this answer. This student had a really good understanding of this subject. That was five points and an extra point for mentioning the magic of friendship, an important subject for their school.

She leaned back, took a sip of tea and glanced outside the window into the late night. Finally, her work was done. Time to get home. Tomorrow she would present her students' test results. After a short sigh, she stood up from her chair, watered her plant Phillis, turned off the lights and left the headmares room.

She stepped through the chilly hallway towards the exit. On both sides, busts rested on their marble pedestals, each showing a different pony. The six so-called Pillars of Equestria. At night they looked a little spooky, because it was like they were watching all the time.

At the exit to the inner schoolyard, she looked at the clock above her. “Darn! It’s so late already?”

In five hours Twilight would raise up the sun again. She needed her sleep, or else the students would have to wait even longer for their test results. Swiftly she stepped outside, closed the door and almost forgot to lock it. She dug the key out of her bag, but unfortunately it fell on the floor. This had to happen in a hurry. As she picked it back up, a sudden shivering chill ran down her spine. “Who’s there?”

She turned around, but nopony was there. The square in front of the building was completely empty. Only the fountain in the center made a peaceful lapping of itself. Probably it was nothing. So she locked the door and crossed the yard, over the stream, past the splashing fountain.

She had the lingering feeling that something was nearby. Stalkers annoyed her, and if it was Discord again, with one of his lame jokes, she’d have to banish him from the school ground again. She whirled around with a glowing horn, but once again, she saw no one. Pretty strange, how paranoia suddenly caught up on her.

“It’s alright, Starlight. You’re just tired, that’s all,” she told herself and continued her way home with more awareness. Sometimes ponies happened to stray around here. That was nothing unusual, because the school was still rather new in Ponyville and there were these nocturnals that liked to dwell beneath the dark sky. There wasn’t much illumination on the school grounds, so every star in the sky shone bright and vivid.

She gazed upwards and found herself confirmed. The various constellations twinkled down on Equestria as they’d done for eons. There couldn’t have been a night more peaceful then this one. It probably was the last day of summer, so surely nocturnals weren’t unusual. As far as she knew, her friend Trixie Lulamoon, also liked to sleep beneath the clear night sky. But what was this cold?

That shiver wasn’t really there. It was her magic that shuddered. Starlight didn’t like that one bit. In a rapid trot she moved on towards the stepping stones that led across the small lake in front of the school grounds. But the feeling remained, so she decided to probe the cause of this strange sense.

Her horn lighted up and focused on a particular magic aura, but there were so many of them. In every house she sensed all the ponies sleeping peacefully in their beds. It was easier for Starlight to find the anomaly. A cold gust of wind hit her when she felt an unknown presence. “What in the name of Tartarus is that?” she whispered to herself.

She wanted to notify Twilight, but she had to let the sun rise soon. Besides, it would have taken too long to get parchment and feathers together. She had to deal with this on her own. The road led back to the school. She looked around and increased the radius of her spell.

She sensed a weak aura. A pony was behind the building, and Starlight felt the life force of this being fading. It was dying.

Starlight gasped, how could she not notice anything? While she had peacefully finished her work, there was a pony lying in the garden, obviously badly injured. How could it be? She hadn't heard a scream, not a single fight. It was like it was lying there all the time. Starlight galloped along the path to the rear garden. It was getting colder, but it wasn't the pony that caused these low temperatures. There was something else in the bushes here.

"Hello?" She shouted in a loud whisper. Nothing came back, but something was there, she could feel it clearly. The aura of the wounded pony was nothing more than a faint flicker. Starlight realized from the aura spell that it was already too late, it was no more.

But still, she had to retrieve the body. Secretly she hoped it wasn't one of her friends, lying dead in the garden. Her heart pounded wildly with these thoughts. But no matter who was lying there, she had to prepare herself for a terrible sight. She took a deep breath and moved on.

As she entered the garden, she thought she was stepping into a new cold season. The area was unusually icy for this late summer night. She heard heavy breathing. An unknown creature was there, something she couldn’t detect with her magic. She let her horn glow more brightly, and the turquoise magic light searched the trees and somewhere in between, a figure had bent over a body. It looked like a pony, all scrawny and pale. From there, Starlight could see that it had no mane and no tail.

“Hey! You there,” Starlight called out, not knowing where this courage came from. She heard a loud munching sound and then she realized this thing was eating another pony. She felt like she was going to be sick. The dinner consisting of a hay sandwich and an apple tried miserably to get through her gullet and caused great stomach ache. “Oh, no,” she gasped.

The pale pony with the curved horn lifted its naked head and turned it slowly around. It was completely furless. The skin seemed to stretch like leather over a bony frame. And there were its eyes. They were hazy and white, small pale pupils staring directly at the unicorn mare. In its mouth hung the bloody green leg of the victim.

Starlight swallowed a lump in her throat. She was unable to move, numb with shock. This scrawny figure walked towards her and dropped the leg to the ground. Blood dripped from its mouth. Then a long black tentacle tongue crawled out of it, hungry for more flesh.

Starlight was overwhelmed with new feelings. With shivering eyes she stared at the decapitated unicorn. Starlight knew this pony by sight. He'd been a student of this school.

“You’re one ugly motherbucker!” Starlight said to the pale monster in disgust. Her legs carried her back as it came closer. Starlight heard her heart pounding, her natural instincts begging her to run, to teleport or to scream. But what if it took more victims? This thing was in the middle of the school ground. A serious threat to her students and neighbors. She couldn't let that happen.

The pale pony drew its head back and let it snap forward, its tongue darted out. Starlight dodged it and showed her enraged and belligerent face. All tiredness was gone, the adrenaline rushed through her veins, her magic force raised.

“Oh, you want it the hard way?! You get the hard way!” she shouted. Her horn flared up. She shot a magic beam at that thing. The pale creature simply absorbed it and Starlight realized, “It feeds on magic?”

This was a good time to turn tail. Starlight jumped out of the bushes and ran back to the school yard. The creature chased her with a fast gallop despite its fragile frame.

Arriving in the yard, it jumped predator-like over Starlight and blocked her way. She curbed sharply. Her hooves dug into the dirt. Then she conjured a crystal shield in front of the creature and turned back, trying to escape into the building. The key refused to fit during all that panic, and she would have to gather enough concentration to simply teleport inside. But at the moment she couldn’t calm herself enough for that. The pale pony hurled its tongue through the shield as if it was nothing, towards Starlight. She ducked and the tongue slammed against the door.

Then she had the simple idea of kicking the door in, just like her friend Applejack during Applebuck Season. After two violent kicks she noticed, that the door had been built incredibly solid. The tongue returned and wrapped around her right front leg. A sharp pain spiked through her hoof. She cried out loud. The tongue pulled her rudely through the lawn and let her smash through a bridge railing, but she had hardly felt that, nothing hurt as much as her hoof. She felt something was draining her energy.

Then she was thrown into the river of the yard. The water splashed in all directions. As Starlight reappeared, she saw the tongue coming towards her again. This time she was prepared. She built up a water fountain and could fend off the next attack. When the tongue pulled back, Starlight finally had time to reach the riverbank and get out of the cold water. Her mane was soaking wet, and she was furious, incredibly furious. "You'll never French-kiss again!" she growled.

A magic wave shot from her horn and stirred up water and dirt. The wind whipped against the window shutters, letting them rattle loudly. But the pale creature didn’t seem to be impressed at all. No, it even consumed this magical energy.

The powerful unicorn mare levitated a few rocks towards her, but her right hoof was still burning. So much so that she had to falter. She looked at her limb and saw that it had turned dark. The pain pulsed like a living being of its own. “Ah! What’s that?”

The pale pony gave her no time to find out. It shot a white light beam out of its horn. It hit Starlight hard. She flew over the meadow like a toy doll and crashed head first against the next house wall. Headaches and an exhausted magic told her that this was probably her end. So soon after Twilight's coronation, so soon after her taking over the school and what about all the things she had planned for the future?

Her pale death slowly strode towards her, taking its time as it let its long tongue wave lazily through the air. Probably she would follow this student, but not before she’d revealed an ace up her sleeve.

This monster didn't notice the well hovering above its head that Starlight had ripped off its hinges when she fell. Before it came into range, she simply let go of her telekinesis. The pale monster was buried under it without even knowing what it was hit by.

Starlight granted herself a weak smile for her work. The creature's head stuck out of the rubble, its tongue still hanging out of its mouth. It looked like a flattened frog with a horn, that’s why she had to grin like that. But she was also badly hurt. Two broken ribs, a head trauma – that was her guess, and a disfigured hoof. She remained laying there and waited. There was also passive unicorn magic. It could initiate self-healing if the wounds weren’t too severe or magical. This was barely healable. The wounds closed and the dull pain in her head went down, too. But her hoof, it had taken on an even darker shade, no healing at all.

She looked back to the well in front of her and startled she realized that the pale creature dissolved like ashes in the wind. So there was no proof of the creature's origin. "This cunning thing," Starlight thought.

"I had fought, and lived to tell tales about it." That's what it would say in one of her diaries she was planning to write for posterity. All the students would find the school yard and be flabbergasted. The damage could be repaired, the school was well insured. She could tell them it had been the attacker. Would they believe her? That thing was gone, turned into ashes. But all this were sorrows she should deal with later. After she had closed her eyes, the dawn slowly set in.

Four hours later …

“Headmare Starlight! Headmare Starlight!”

The addressed mare suddenly woke up. At first it seemed to her as if she was back home in her bed and everything was just a nightmare, but she was lying exactly where she had fallen asleep. A pink hippogriffin and a blue-plumed griffon knelt before her. The hippogriffin held her healthy hoof and patted it. "Are you all right?"

Starlight groaned. She had no idea how to tell it. “Some rotten pony ate my magic.” No, nocreature would believe her, except Twilight and her friends, maybe. They'd been through enough to believe something like that. She tried to explain, "Silverstream... I’ve been... attacked, but the threat is over... OW!" Her leg still burned.

"Wait, I'll help you!" the griffon said. He tried to pull her up, but that only increased the pain.

"Gallus, it hurts! Better a teacher comes and takes a look on it!" lamented Starlight with sweat on her face.

Alarmed, he withdrew his claw. In the next moment they heard a familiar voice, "Please let us through! School counselor coming through! Thank you, thank you very much!"

Trixie squeezed her way through the crowd and pushed Silverstream aside. When the blue unicorn reached her, she gasped, "Oh, gosh! You look like you’ve been trampled by a buffalo stampede!"

That was her typical reaction. Amongst best friends, Starlight couldn’t help but agreeing with her. Sunburst stood next to her in a dark blue starry cape. "What happened to you, Starlight?" he called worried.

"I should have taken the work home with me after class, but I probably prevented a disaster," she moaned and looked at her darkened limb. "Sort of..."

Sunburst and Trixie helped her up gently. She didn't dare to put the right hoof on the ground because it was already hurting. Trixie noticed it and Starlight didn’t have to wait for her remark, "And your hoof... What happened to it? Looks like you walked through a fire!"

“Didn’t you prohibit magic experiments on school premises?” Sunburst added.

Starlight shook her head vigorously. "No, no, it was an attack. It was a..." She searched for the right words and looked at the students in order. "I can't put my hoof tip on it... Dry, bald, skin and bones... And when I destroyed it..." She pointed with her healthy hoof to the well. "…there it turned into dust."

The students looked at each other in concern. Starlight couldn’t blame them. What if another one of these creatures showed up or maybe that thing survived? After all these thoughts she made a decision, "School’s closed! You're all on holidays, till we know what’s going on."

"What!?" the ponies and non-ponies shouted at the same time. The whispers became louder. Starlight didn't care what they were saying. She had spoken and limped to the entrance of the school building. Sunburst and Trixie went after her.

“You seem to be a little upset,” Sunburst said calming. “Maybe you could take a day off und we take care of the school for you. Or we could ask Twilight to fill in for you.”

"She has enough on her plate already and I hardly think the problem will be solved automatically with the princess present."

Trixie piped up, “But what about Twilight’s other friends?”

“They’re all scattered. Rarity is in Manehattan, Pinkie Pie is on her way to an event with Cheese Sandwich and Fluttershy is visiting Discord’s dimension. Only Applejack and Rainbow Dash are in Ponyville, but they’re certainly busy”, explained Starlight. She dug the key out, opened the door and let her two friends in.

The students left the school yard. Starlight had hidden the fact that a student had died. She didn’t want to cause any panic. But in the empty auditorium, she revealed it to Trixie and Sunburst. While she explained, she took the bandages from a first aid kit and wrapped her foreleg around it to cover her ugly injury.

Both remained silent when she finished this story. Trixie looked at her supervisor with complete dismay and open mouth. Sunburst took off his glasses and cleaned them with the brim of his cape. The levitation of his magic shuddered and he snorted deeply through his nostrils. Then he breathed frantically against the glass and cleaned it for the third time. “We have to tell Twilight”, he said stern.

“But she…”

“This is a serious situation, Starlight! A student is dead and we have to check your leg. Whatever it was, it hit you pretty hard.”

“If you say so,” Starlight sighed and levitated some writing materials from the podium over to her. She let a quill slide into the ink and wrote everything down. What kind of face would Twilight make if she read that note? The first letter she got from her former pupil and friend Starlight Glimmer ever since her coronation years ago? A face Starlight was glad to miss out.

“It’s our only option,” Sunburst said as Starlight wrote. The ink splashed a little because she had used too much of it.

In the past, she had often written to her, but answers always came back late. She was probably just busy.

Starlight mentioned the monster and described it, the dead student, the temporary closing of the school and also her injured hoof. She waited for the ink to dry and closed the parchment with the seal of the school, then she immediately teleported the letter to Twilight.

It took a long time, very long. Trixie rested her hind legs on one of the tables. Essentially a rather bad paradigm for a guidance counselor, but Starlight hadn’t the nerves to discipline her. Sunburst incessantly fiddled with his beard, deep in thought. Starlight tried to sit comfortably, but her leg didn’t make it easy for her. The limb felt numb, the fur on her hoof seemed to fall out and the skin looked leathery. The bandages seemed to help, but not very much.

Suddenly the three ponies heard a teleport spell from outside and then several more in a row.

"This must be her. Did she come by herself?" said Starlight excitedly. She hadn't seen Twilight for years. Sunburst looked up in doubt.

They left the building and Starlight closed up behind them. There were several guards outside, all dressed in gold armor with the pink star in the center of their breastplate. Most of them were male, but there was also a female guard with dark purple fur and a pink, punkish mane. Her biggest mark was a broken horn. The cool, light blue eyes probed the area in astonishment when she noticed this chaos on the square.

The guards were accompanied by a big chariot, which was of a plain frame but decorated in gold and blue. The chariot’s door was already drawn open.

The tall guard mare took a step towards the three teachers. “I’m Captain Tempest of the Royal Guard! Princess Twilight Sparkle wants to see you immediately!”

Starlight limped to the guard mare. "I'm glad to hear that. How come she doesn't appear in person? After all, we’re good friends!"

Tempest just looked at her coldly. “Well, she wanted to come, but her presence is needed in Canterlot. She ordered us to get teleported here, so we would lose no time escorting you to her. The flight shouldn’t take longer than half an hour.”

The six white Pegasus stallions stepped forward and tied themselves into the harnesses of the carriage. After the flowing movement, they turned their eyes straight ahead, waiting for new orders.

Starlight nodded understandingly. That was one of the reasons why she didn't want to be a princess, bound to one place to lead the pony folk. She'd rather pass on what Twilight and her friends had taught her. She wanted to make a difference with her own powers to prove that everyone had the chance to make friends, no matter what the creature was made of. Was she successful? Yes, certainly. Her school wasn’t just for ponies. It was the means of future alliances for Equestria. This has developed over the years. Ponies, dragons, yaks, changelings, griffons, hippogriffs and the kirins all came to learn together at this school.

After Starlight sat down in the carriage with Sunburst and Trixie, her eyes went absent-mindedly to her closed school.

The pegasi left Ponyville quickly. They passed through several clouds and flew on the direct way to Canterlot. Flying up in a carriage was much more pleasant than going by train that had to traverse several tunnels and bridges in order reach Equestrias capitol.

They approached the palace that towered over the city on the edge of the cliff. It was surrounded by inner walls that limited the area of the courtyard. Meadows and bushes made the whole thing look more natural, as if the building had grown out of the earth. Even luscious green ivy grew up part of the wall. A river surrounded the palace, on which swans floated, their wings elegantly flapping and splashing water. Much to the annoyance of the palace gardener, because he was the target of these animals.

The carriage landed gently on the lawn in front of the palace and all the passengers stepped out. Tempest led the way, followed by her guards who escorted Starlight, Trixie and Sunburst.

The palace was ominous, and Starlight hadn’t seen it for a long time. It felt strange. After all this time, she felt something big was coming. As if the building was trying to tell her that it was time for a new challenge.

They walked up the white steps that bordered the palace gate. As the ponies stood directly in front of it, Tempest strode ahead and touched the great gate with her star-shaped jewel on her armor. Only then did it open for them.

The entrance hall was huge compared to the school. Back, when the two sisters had ruled over Equestria, there were two kinds of stained glass windows, representing day and night. But here they were dark purple with a pink star and the formerly red carpet was violet, which led over several steps to the higher level.

Tempest guided them through the bright corridors with even more colored windows. However, they were much taller than the first ones and each told a story. How Twilight and her friends defeated Nightmare Moon or how they saved the Crystal Empire.

Starlight only knew these stories from hearsay. Back then, she was busy subjugating a village. Yes, her story had been full of darkness and thoughts of revenge. She had even tried to change Twilight’s mindset, and although everypony involved had forgiven her, it still pained her to be reminded of this part of her past by something or someone.

Seeing these pictures made her realize, that she’d never go down in the history books as a heroine. She gave a snort, not only to suppress this unwelcome thought, but also to give vent to the pain in her hoof. It seemed to hurt even more the closer she came to the doors at the end of the hallway.

As they approached, the large folding doors opened and revealed the throne room. The first thing that immediately caught the eye was the symmetrical interior design. The throne in the middle stood on a ramp, to each side there were three water basins built in a row, sloping down. The water flowed down from basin to basin and ended in a small canal that led outside. The cool marble floor reflected the morning light shining through the windows. Thanks to the colorful patterns it added a rainbow shimmer on it.

The banners of the six pony heroes hung from the ceiling everywhere. The largest banner, of course, was that of Twilight Sparkle, and she herself sat on the throne directly below it. Next to her stood a few servants, all holding parchment rolls on a tray. The princess was really very busy, that much was certain.

But there was one thing Starlight noticed in particular. Twilight had grown. The purple alicorn was about the same size as the former princess Luna some years ago.

Captain Tempest bowed before the princess and everyone else hurried to do the same. Twilight finished the sentence on her parchment floating in front of her and put it aside on one of the trays with the others. Then she stood up, the servants next to her took a step back.

And how she had grown… Her wingspan had expanded considerably. That’s why the servants had to step aside to avoid getting feathers in their faces.

“Rise everypony, my closest friends don’t have to bow before me,” she said in a gentle voice to Starlight, Sunburst and Trixie and all three relaxed visibly.

Tempest took a step aside for Starlight so she could greet her old friend. She was thrilled by her sheer height. They hadn’t seen each other for a long time. Twilight had been a little smaller back then. An amazing amount of time had passed and she wished she could relive the good old days again, “Twilight! I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you …”

She wanted to extend her left hoof, but the pain in the other one suddenly spiked, as if a buzz saw was starting to move along the bone. She cried out, withering in pain. Her hoof cramped and gave off odd, gurgling noises. Then she lost control of it. Her leg swung towards Twilight, who stepped back in surprise.

Immediately, the guards came running, dead set on protecting their princess. But the out of control limb was incredibly strong. Without her intention, Starlight flailed around, forcing the guards to back off and forming a protective line in front of Twilight. The leg snarled and twisted in a nasty posture. All of a sudden, it started to glow in Starlight’s turquoise colored magic and extended to a grotesque tentacle. It lashed out for Twilight like a whip. Starlight screamed in the highest octave. One of the guards screamed as well, “STOP IT!”

Multiple guards jumped in the line between Starlight and Twilight. Each of them took a blow from the thing that used to be Starlight’s hoof, sending them flying against the columns and walls. Starlight tried to hold it back, like a crazed mutt, but it continued its attack unfazed. It reached back for a fatal blow, violet thorns suddenly sprouted from the tentacle’s flesh. Twilight applied a dome-shaped shield spell and the whip lashed aggressively on it.

Tempest’s broken horn sparked brightly. A blinding firework shot out, hitting Starlight and hurling her away from the purple alicorn. Starlight felt the burning pain, where Tempest had hit her. Her demonic limb wormed around, seemingly looking for something, hissing and growling like a wild beast. Starlight struggled to get on her hooves. Behind the wall of guards, she saw that look in Twilight’s eyes. This look she would always remember. It seemed to ask, “Why?”

Tempest reared up and threatened, "Don't move, whatever you are!"

She was prepared to fire another blast. Because of her broken horn, her magic was more uncoordinated and could get pretty rough. Starlight didn’t even dare to move towards her. Only her possessed hoof was eager to rip the princess into pieces.

Starlight slowly crawled to one of the bowls of water in the side of the throne and quickly dipped her tentacle hoof in. Her leg slowly returned to normal, but the throbbing pain persisted. With watery eyes and clenched teeth, she watched it under the water surface. It moved like it was breathing and she heard mad pounding sounds of a fast heartbeat. She held onto it until it finally calmed down. Then she gasped in relief. But she didn’t dare to move it. Who knows what else might happen.

The relaxed atmosphere in the room was completely gone. Instead, the servants and guards showed a distraught face. Sunburst and Trixie had also become quite pale. What had just happened there was like the result of a nightmare.

Completely drenched in sweat, Starlight turned to the princess. “Twilight … a shield, hurry!” she called out.

The princess kept her eyes locked on her old friend. She couldn’t believe that she had almost escaped death.

“Twilight, come on!” she cried in despair.

On her second plea, Twilight’s horn glowed pink and an equally colored transparent wall separated the whole room from Starlight.

Captain Tempest began to yell, “By all hells, how dare you attacking the princess!? Your longtime friend!” she huffed furious.

Twilight raised one hoof to calm her down. Starlight didn’t answer. She carefully pulled the hoof out of the water. It was like nothing had happened, but the black burn remained. Fortunately, she didn’t feel this thing inside her hoof anymore.

“Whatever it was, it wasn’t Starlight Glimmer. She tried to keep it away from me,” Twilight said.

Starlight at the throne-well closed her eyes in relief. She was overjoyed that Twilight believed her. Many years ago they had been enemies, then they became friends and day by day the trust between them grew. And till this day, she stood to her friends and her word was law. She had grown to a princess thoroughly.

“But I won’t touch you until we know what this is. I wanted to see it with my own eyes, but apparently it responds to my presence,” she continued.

Starlight looked at her hoof. It didn’t hurt anymore. It was either a one-time reaction or it was in resting. Regardless, she needed new bandages.

Sunburst and Trixie ran to Twilight. “But we can go to her,” said Sunburst. “We were with her the whole time, and nothing happened.”

Twilight nodded and opened a part of her shield spell. Starlight’s friends passed quickly through and the barrier closed behind them.

Sunburst examined his friend’s hoof very carefully. He seemed to be using an x-ray spell that could reveal Starlight’s guts under her coat.

“Don’t you dare looking at my flank, you perv,” Starlight joked.

Despite her nervousness, Trixie earned herself an impish smile. But the stallion kept a straight face, continuing his search.

Sunburst looked inside her body. He stayed like that for a while and concentrated on searching the inside of her hoof. Then he narrowed his eyes and tilted his head a little. Starlight began to feel uncomfortable. He could practically see her organs and that was more than just entering her comfort zone. Suddenly, Sunburst jumped up screaming, so that she startled. Her friend covered his face and screamed like a banshee.

He must have seen something terrible. Starlight crawled up to him and took him in her hooves. At first he struggled and whimpered like he was having a bad dream. Starlight tried to calm him down, “Sunburst! Sunburst! Open your eyes!”

Breathing heavily, he calmed down and looked on the floor. “There’s something incredibly evil in there,” He said with a sore throat. “I have no idea what it is, Starlight… but it reminds me of King Sombra’s dark magic.”

The entire room seemed to gasp. Twilight’s eyes widened in horror, “But my friends and I destroyed him once and for all! How can this be?”

Sunburst stood up and adjusted his glasses. His hooves still swayed a little. Slightly stressed he explained, “Sombra is gone, that’s for sure. But maybe there is someone or something with similar abilities. Dark magic is as versatile as light magic.”

Starlight knew the principle of dark and light magic. Both were caused by strong emotions. If catalysts like rocks or crystals were exposed to hope and love, they shone in a beautiful light and banished darkness. But if hatred and fear took hold, they turned dark and even could act destructive. But this wasn’t about crystals. This kind of dark magic was completely new.

Twilight turned to her, “Then the creature you told me about in the letter probably corrupted your hoof, just as Sombra did with the crystals of the Crystal Empire.”

This made sense. King Sombra had been a pony who had given himself completely to the dark powers. Starlight had to ask, “I don’t understand one thing. Why did my hoof attack you?”

Sunburst cleared his throat, “I have a theory: This, I say “curse” is made to attack good or light magic and there is no more delicate target than the Princess of Friendship.”

A shiver rippled over Starlight's back. Tempest took a deep breath, her ears flicked. "But doesn't that mean that..."

"Yes," Sunburst decided to end his statement, "we are talking about an attempted assassination!"

And again the throne room gasped for breath, this time much deeper. Twilight couldn’t get her mouth closed. “Oh, no…” She swallowed loudly and grazed her lung neck. Then she looked anxiously at her throne, as if she feared to see it about to burst into flames.

Starlight answered in a grasping voice that betrayed her rabid beating heart. She knew all too well that the princess would be struggling and doubting herself if nobody said anything. “Twilight, It’s only a theory, but I’m willing to protect you. You are the embodiment of the true Magic of Friendship, and you have many friends around you, including Sunburst, Trixie and myself. Whenever we’ve faced a problem, we’ve always faced it together. Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie! We all are there for you!”

“And don’t forget Spike,” Sunburst said with a smile. “Where is he anyway?”

“He is here, writing a book about the relationship between dragons and ponies. He’ll freak out when he hears about this,” Twilight replied.

“All right”, said Sunburst firmly, “we must find out what attacked Starlight and we must figure out who is behind this dark magic. Where do we begin?”

The princess smiled delightedly about this question, "Of course, where all the knowledge of Equestria is concentrated in one building!"

Trixie laughed and rolled her eyes. “Well, let’s go for the books then.”

Starlight nodded in agreement. Some things would never change.

Twilight focused her horn on the shield. It bent into a bubble around Starlight. On the ground a pink spell circle appeared with a star in the middle and several cryptic writings.

"I'm so sorry to have to do this. But it's for the best for both of us," said Twilight and walked towards her. Starlight had to accept this with a heavy heart. She cursed the creature in her mind that had done this to her. Her eyes became glassy and reflected the pink light of Twilight's magic.

The princess continued, “I will take you directly to the restricted section. If something has been written about dark magic, I am sure we will find it there. So, be ready!”

Again, her horn glowed and teleported Starlight, Sunburst and her most trusted guard pony Tempest from the throne room. Trixie remained rooted to the spot in front of the servants and the remaining guards.

"Uh... Hey, what about..." As soon as she finished her sentence, she disappeared with a bang.