• Published 10th Jun 2020
  • 766 Views, 31 Comments

Splintershard - TheMajorTechie



Once upon a time, Equestria flourished. That time is now long-gone.

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Prologue ◈ The Madness

Everything was silent, but time would progress.

The world moved on, and started anew.

The destruction was fierce, yet courage still stood.

But the madness set in, as she always knew it would.

...and it all begins here.


Emily groaned, slowly lifting her head. Dirt. There was dirt under her. She rolled over, blinking in the bright sunlight. She could barely spot her backpack nearby. It probably was thrown off her shoulders when she lunged through the portal.

Wait-- she sat up, taking in her surroundings-- this was decidedly not a high-school bathroom that she was in anymore. Starlight actually did it, that absolute madmare! She'd opened a portal back to her homeland! Speaking of Starlight--

"Hey," Emily muttered under her breath. She slipped the stick-wand thing back into a pocket. "Starlight, you recognize any of this?"

No response. She must've been knocked out or something by the strain of the spell. It looked like the portal closed behind them too, like what Starlight worried would happen. Though... it probably wasn't gonna be that big of a problem. Starlight did seem to suggest that opening portals was basically just a matter of getting a good picture of the place in her head, after all. No need to worry about that sorta stuff yet.

With a grunt, Emily hopped back to her feet. Another glance at her surroundings revealed the true enormity of her environment-- dark, ancient trees loomed on one side, clashing against the rolling hills and fields of the other. This place really did feel like some kind of fantasy world! Then again, all she'd really seen so far were trees and hills, so that might've been a bit of an overrea--

"Urrgh."

"Rise and shine, sleepyhead," Emily smirked. "Guess what? You're home! We're in the land of pretty pastel ponies!"

"What? Wait--" Starlight's voice sputtered. "Where-- where's the portal? Emily-- where's the portal?"

"It... closed?"

"Oh, no no no... this isn't good! This really isn--"

Emily raised a brow. "Isn't good? C'mon, lighten up a little! We're back in your homeland! Maybe we could even get you a body again or something! What's the matter?"

"I don't know how to get back, that's the matter."

The words struck her like a slap in the face. Starlight didn't know how to get back? B-but the spell--

"Before you rushed in, I was trying to warn you that I likely wouldn't be able to get you back! Now we're stuck in the Everfree Forest! This isn't even the place I was trying to connect to!"

"So? Just take over my body again, and I can tell you what the place is like."

Starlight's annoyed groan only deepened her fear. "No... that's... that's not how it works, Emily. You need to have more than just a casual knowledge of the location. The portal spell relies on the caster's experience of the other side as well. If that isn't provided, then I cannot guarantee that the next portal will take you home."

Well, crap.

"HALT," a voice boomed behind her. "STRANGE TRESPASSER THAT SPEAKS OUR TONGUE, WHAT BRINGS YOU TO OUR LAND?"

"Oh, horseapples."


To be honest, getting thrown in a cage and carted deeper into the nearby woods was not what Emily was expecting to happen. In her mind, there were a little bit more fairies and witches, and a little less tribal forest horses.

"I really should've expected this," Starlight's voice sulked in the back of Emily's mind. "I... should've warned you about the world I came from. Do you want to hear the full story of how I got stuck in your head?"

Emily shrugged, grunting as the cage lurched for a moment. "Sure, I guess. Not like there's anything else I can do at the moment. Also, why do the tribe horses look so... uh, refined?"

"Exiled nobles. I fought in a war alongside them. I tried to defect at the last second, but... things weren't exactly working to my advantage, so to say. Kinda sorta maybe died, and that's why I'm stuck with you now."

"Oh."

"Also, that's pretty much the full story. I don't wish to go into the details. It's painful enough to think about them."

"OH."

A dull stick prodded Emily in the side. "SILENCE!" the stallion whispered fiercely. He signaled for the rest of his group to pause as he dropped the stick. "Creature, you must stop talking to yourself!"

Emily folded her arms, making a face. "And why should I do that? You're the ones that threw me in a cage, after all."

"Shhh!" the stallion hushed again, quieter this time. "Not only will your incessant blabbering put you in danger, but it will do the same for us as well!"

A distant half-roar helped convince Emily to follow their orders. Maybe it was time she started taking this place a little more seriously. Being dead wasn't exactly the best way to get back home, anyway.

The roar faded away. After a short period of absolute silence, the ponies surrounding her cage nodded to each other and continued their journey.

The forest around them seemed to steadily grow denser with every step-- the trees were bigger and closer than ever to the dirt path. In some places, the vines and shrubs touched, and at times even connected to one another, forming long, spindly pillars of green stretching from the ground to the canopy. Emily spotted one such pillar dangling just overhead, clearly slashed at some point by a traveler.

Strangely, Starlight remained largely silent throughout the entire journey. The most that'd been audible of her these past minutes were more or less only low mutters and murmurs too quiet to understand.

The guard trotting directly in front of the group gestured for them to make a turn. Emily's eyes widened at the new sight before her-- the looming walls of an overgrown fort.

"So they've persisted, then," Starlight commented. "Looks like they've expanded, too."

Persisted?

Another one of the guards-- a unicorn, this time-- stepped in front of an unassuming rotten tree trunk, lighting his horn. A soft, pale-green aura enveloped both his horn and the rotting wood, lingering for a moment before an abrupt crunch emanated from beneath. A low, drumming hum filled the air next, stopping at times for hisses of air to escape as the walls of the fort began to open themselves. Emily watched in awe at the sight; for a species without hands, their knowledge of mechanics was amazing!

A final puff of steam rose from somewhere behind the still-opening gates. The unicorn guard glanced back at his fellow ... tribe-horses? Er... band members? Comrades? Emily shook her head. What to call the guard's fellow ponies wasn't important right now.

Her cage began moving again, passing silently through the towering gates.


For a fort that looked like some long-forgotten temple on the outside, what Emily was seeing now was surpassing her expectations.

...Far-surpassing them, in fact. What fort in existence had a shopping district?

She grunted as the cage was parked in a stall near the gates. The wooden door swung open, setting her free. Of course, she was still surrounded on every side by the ponies that'd found her, but at the very least she was now outside of that cramped thing.

"Where are you taking me?" Emily asked, glancing about. "To be honest, I was half-thinking that I was going to be eaten or something."

The mare to her left raised a brow at that second part but nevertheless remained silent.

"I believe they may be taking you to their leader," Starlight's voice finally broke its silence. "It was standard procedure to capture and interrogate trespassers, last time I was here."

Their leader, huh? So this whole place was more of a kingdom than a fort, then.

"Hmmmore or less. I think. I've still yet to recognize any faces, though. I'm beginning to suspect that some amount of time must've passed since I departed."

The group stepped into a thinly-marked rectangle, surrounded by an outgrowth of plant life and crystal fragments. Immediately after the final pony stepped inside, even fainter rune lines lit up, shooting a coating of mana over all of them.

"Well, that's new," Starlight hummed.

Her surroundings immediately shifted as the teleportation completed, depositing her and the guardsponies at the entrance to some sort of palace.

"Is this new as well?" Emily whispered.

"Yup."

The guardsponies signaled for the doors to open, leading Emily into the sprawling structure.

...And just as it was with the fort, it was certainly not what she'd expected to see. Though totally overgrown with greenery like much of the surrounding city and forest, the palace had an overall more... refined look to it. Little details, like the spindly vines draping over the walls, clearly were being channeled through grooves to form patterns, for one, and the light fixtures looked decidedly high-tech compared to their environment.

Emily felt a nudge on her back, breaking her train of thought.

"Continue," the mare behind her deadpanned. "The walk's not that long."

The girl rolled her eyes but nevertheless complied. She was led a little deeper into the building before being faced with yet another set of mechanical doors.

One of her guards lightly rapped on the hardened wood. He stepped back to let the doors open, nodding to his fellow guards to lead her in.

This entire place was just surprise after surprise after surprise, wasn't it? This particular place was clearly a throne room, and yet...

A loud clang caught her attention as torches along the stone walls lit up, adding an orangeish hue to the already-sunlit room. A tattered flag unfurled above her, with an emblem of two... horned... winged... ponies?

"Alicorns," Starlight corrected. "I'd recognize that beat-up flag anywhere. Welcome to my old home away from home, Emily."

An off-green aura enveloped the flag, rolling it back into the ceiling to reveal the ruler of the place-- a plain-white unicorn stallion.

"Guards, who is this?" the pale stallion glared at Emily. "More importantly, what is this?"

"Emi, permission to take over? I might still be remembered around here, though I still have no idea how much time has passed."

No, not yet. In any other circumstance, letting Starlight take over might've made for another fun ride, but this?

"We believe she may be one of the long-mythologized 'humans' that Twilight Sparkle once claimed to have contacted, though she looks nothing like the old photographs we have seen."

...Yeah, it was time for serious Emi. She could feel the tension surrounding her.

"I see," the pale stallion nodded, looking over her again. "Human, do you speak?"

"I..." Emily hesitated. "...yes?"

"Search her," the pale stallion turned around. "I'd rather not have invited an Ashen spy into our hidden kingdom."

Hold up, she was not about to let them do that.

"Emil--"

"Not now, Starlight!" Emily snapped under her breath. "I might be a numbskull half the time, but I will not let a buncha horses do anything weird to me!"

The guard directly beside her lit her horn, tugging lightly at Emily's shirt.

"Oh no you don't!" Emily reached for her wand-thing, pulling out... a spoon?

Great. Well, this life was pretty heckin' fantastic while it lasted. A good 7.8/10-- too much weirdness in the past couple days, though.

The mare raised a brow, turning the focus of her telekinesis to the spoon as the others continued to search Emily's pockets.

"Hey--" Emily complained as the spoon was taken from her grasp. She felt the stick beginning to come out of her other pocket. "Hey!"

A heavy thud distracted her momentarily, as well as grabbing the attention of just about everyone in the room. The stallion looked down at the textbooks and binders he'd pulled from her backpack, then to Emily.

"What in the name of Celestia is this?" the mare who took the spoon exclaimed, turning Emily's phone around in her aura. "Some kind of glass slate?"

"That's it, I'm taking over for you," Starlight groaned. Just as before, Emily felt her entire body convulse, barely staying on her feet before the unicorn in her head took the reins.

"Listen," Starlight spoke in Emily's voice. "First off, that's a phone. Secondly--"

She reached over and snatched the stick from one of the guards, allowing mana to flow freely into it once it was firmly in her grasp. A bolt of mana shot from the tip, hitting one of the guards' weapons and turning it into a teacup-on-a-stick. "--I am Starlight Glimmer."

Thankfully, the pale stallion looked far less confused than his guards.

"Starlight Glimmer..." the pale stallion furrowed his brows, muttering to himself. "Starlight, Starlight... where did I hear that name before?"

"The fall of Old Canterlot," Starlight began, "I assume it must've taken place long ago by now. You likely study it now, don't you? The civil war that tore apart Old Equestria when Twilight disappeared off the face of the planet? The one against the Ashen Phoenix faction?"

The pale stallion nodded slowly. "Yes... yes, I do believe I am aware of it. It is a tragedy that we continue to be under constant threat of Ashen invasion in modern times. You still have not stated your significance, however."

"I was among those who vanished in-battle," Starlight added. "I don't know much else, unfortunately, given my disappearance shortly after Princess Cadance's own."

One could almost see the switch being flicked on in the stallion's head. "Ah!" he exclaimed, "Starlight Glimmer, Arch-Magus of Twilight Sparkle!" He toned his excitement down a notch, cocking his head. "I must ask, however-- how is it that you reappear now, centuries after your disappearance, in the form of a human girl?"

"To be honest, even I still don't know. I only manifested in this body around two and a half days ago, in fact."

"...Manifested?"

Starlight nodded. "This body isn't my own. It's only by pure chance that I woke up to find myself in it. Would you like to speak to the owner of this body?"

Emily mentally rolled her eyes.

"One last request, first--" the pale stallion stepped closer. "Starlight, I have heard stories of you having the capability to perform wild magicks on the levels of Alicorns. Please, demonstrate such a spell, and we will return your items and let you be."

"You'd better show 'em," Emily's voice grumbled. "My mom's gonna kill me if I break my phone. Also, again with turning things into teacups! One of these days, my parents are gonna notice the missing cutlery!"

Starlight pushed aside the complaints of the girl. "I-I'm sorry, but my mana reserves are almost entirely empty right now. I was able to return to Equestria via a portal, but it was unstable, and..." she took a deep breath, forcing the faint aura around herself to brighten. "Honestly, it would be ideal if I were to rest first before performing any more magic. Even maintaining control over this body is taking a toll on m-me...e."

Emily felt sensation beginning to return to her with Starlight's final, stuttering words. She teetered on her feet, slowly tipping backward. The stick fell from her grasp, hitting the floor as she too began to falter.

The sound of her single, forced footstep echoed throughout the entire room. Starlight's aura faded away.

"Very well then," the pale stallion nodded. "I will allow you a day's rest. Until then, however, you will remain in a monitored chamber, and your possessions shall be placed in a secured chest." He turned around again. "That is all, take her away!"

Emily flinched at the sudden touch of a foreign aura on her skin. The stallion it belonged to glanced back at her, gesturing to follow.


It was amazing to see just what kind of society existed within the fort. Starlight continued to comment on the progression of magic and technology as they were led down the streets, pointing out the little changes she'd noticed compared to the last time she'd been in the place. Even with the entire society having been designed to be obscured by the forest, there were apparently some ponies who were unafraid to travel by air between some of the farther regions of the city-state, taking hot-air balloons, and even at times rudimentary airplanes powered by sputtering engines.

Emily and her guards collectively ducked as one such plane narrowly glided overhead, coming in for a short landing in the middle of the street.

They took a route back through the towering gates of the fort, entering the dark wilderness of the Everfree. Though, rather than backtracking along the path she'd originally been taken in on, they circled around to a side-road.

"Starlight?" Emily whispered, "Where do you think they're taking us?"

"I'm not sure. A lot of this is new to me, like I said before."

Eventually, the caravan stopped in front of a massive, aging tree. One of the guards stepped forward, knocking some sort of code into the peeling bark of the trunk. It took a moment, but a faint aura began to materialize around the trunk, opening a drawbridge-like door into an interior elevator room.

"In," another guard gestured. "This will be your quarters for the night. The enchantments we've applied will deter you from escape if that is what you plan to do."

Emily blinked, watching the elevator's lights flicker to life. These ponies really weren't trying any chances with her, were they? She looked at the guards standing beside her. There probably wasn't going to be any way to escape anyway, even if she wanted to. She huffed. Maybe Starlight actually was good for something.

"Go on, it's not gonna hurt you."

She tentatively walked onto the elevator's platform, flanked by her guards. The trunk began to close itself again as the platform began to descend. Against the metallic sheen of the flooring, Emily watched the blurred reflections of the guards watching her.

The platform hit the bottom with a metallic clang. Another magically-sealed doorway opened up, this time leading into a short hallway lined with rooms.

"First corridor to your right," a guard ordered. "Don't mind the roots emerging from the ceiling. We are still waiting on the royal gardener to trim them."

Emily did as she was told, silently entering the doorless room. The open corridor began to seal itself behind her, leaving a narrow window in its place. She could see the heads of the guards bob in a series of nods before they left her view.

"So," Emily groaned, "I'm stuck in a weird tree dungeon, my stuff is locked away who knows where, and you are out of magic. What do we do now?!"

Starlight didn't respond. She was probably still knocked out cold from what happened earlier.

Emily let out a heavy sigh, turning her attention instead to her cell for the night. For what apparently was supposed to be some kind of high-security prison, it certainly didn't look the part; there was furniture, for one, and even a decently comfortable-looking bed. She walked over, pressing a hand into the mattress-- yup, it was a bed alright. And for a moment there, she'd been expecting a haybale with sheets!

The lighting in the room was a little odd, too. Sure, it came solely from a single lamp on a nightstand, but she couldn't see where the thing plugged in anywhere! Was the lamp battery powered? Wait... no, it was probably some kind of magical lamp thingy. The world she was in now was probably brimming with all kinds of enchanted objects like it.

A thought struck her mind: What the heck was even happening anymore? Literally only some thirty-odd minutes ago, she was still at school, shutting herself into a bathroom stall! How did things come to this? And she still had school tomorrow, too! And-and she was supposed to be home by now! What was going to happen now that she was just... gone?

"Sleep," a strange, half-giggle escaped from her lips. She turned back to the bed. "I'll just go to sleep, and tomorrow, everything will be normal again! No portal pony world, no enchanted lights..." a relaxed smile spread across her face. "...who are you kidding, Emily? That's not gonna happen. It didn't happen with Starlight, and it won't happen now."

Emily gave the bed a good kick. "STUPID!" she screamed, "WHY DID YOU HAVE TO JUMP THROUGH THAT PORTAL?! NOW..." she heaved, balling her fists. "NOW YOU'RE STUCK, EMI! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW?"

She fell to her knees, sinking a little into the soft bedding. A quiet sob escaped her lips.