• Published 10th Jun 2020
  • 1,090 Views, 40 Comments

Splintershard - TheMajorTechie

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

  • ...

2|1 ◈ Of Mistakes

Author's Note:

It takes only a single mistake.

A slip of the tongue,

Or a grievous misdecision.

And all may come tumbling down.

Another piece of bark shattered mid-air. Starlight wiped her brow, bending down to pick up her next target.

"C'mon, Starlight, it's pretty obvious that you've already got amazing aim. Can we go now?"

Starlight shook her head, winding up to throw the chunk of wood. "Not yet. I'm still not all that great with my accuracy. If we wind up going through what I had to go through before I... y'know, died, then you'll need me to protect you."

"...Riiiiiiight. Says the mare who took over my body and obliterated over twenty targets in a row."

Starlight flung the bark, readying Splinter to fire another bolt. Seconds later, the target exploded, raining more ash over the slowly growing heap on the ground.

"Twenty-one," she smirked. "Here, if you really want to leave, then I'll just have a go at four more targets, 'kay? It's just... it's been so long since I've been able to truly do something!"

"Fine. But you gotta teach me how to shoot lasers later, then."


Emily strolled along the bustling streets of the shopping district. Now that she wasn't being dragged around by Mister Blueberry, she could actually see some interesting things among the piles of stuff being bought and sold; little wind-up toys, a model engine here and there-- she turned her head at the sound of a typewriter.

"You like mechanical trinkets, don't you? Your thoughts are occupied by them."

The girl nodded, continuing her browsing and ignoring the pressing question of how a pony could possibly use a typewriter. Then again, how were some of these ponies around her even able to hold things with their hooves?

"Don't think too hard about it. It's for the better," Starlight deadpanned. "A certain friend of mine told me how she learned that the hard way."

Alright. Don't think about the weird pony physics. Noted. Emily turned away from the typewriter noises. Maybe she'd finally have the opportunity to find someplace with some good food... Preferably something that wasn't hay-based this time around.

She wandered around a corner. More shops lined the sides of the street, stretching on to the edge of the fort's walls.

"See any restaurants around, Star?"

"Donuts. There's..." Starlight's voice was tinged with confusion. "There's a... donut shop near the walls. Why would the nobles want to keep something that they'd consider commoner food?"

Emily shrugged. "'Dunno, but donuts are donuts. Do... you know what the currency around here is?"

Starlight's facehoof echoed through her head.

"I mean, either way, I'll probably need to get an allowance from King Blueblood anyway..."

"Just..." Starlight let out a heavy sigh. "Listen, if you want something to eat, then we should head back to the palace. I think it'd be best if you don't attract too much attention to yourself."

Rapid hoofsteps approached from behind. The girl turned just in time to spot the edges of a cloak fly past her eyes.

"Hey..." Emily pointed after the cloaked pony. "Should we--"

"They're a returning spy. There used to be a formal intelligence agency that essentially sat around doing nothing, but the Old Guard made quick use of it once war broke out. Looks like things are still tense as ever."

"Wanna see what they're gonna say?"

Starlight hesitated. "I... sure, I guess? I mean, I was a trusted advisor and all before everything began to crumble, but--"

Emily broke into a sprint. She heard all that she needed to hear.

The girl stood with her back against the wall, silently listening to the report. She was a little late on account of trying to keep pace with a small horse, but that wasn't much of a problem. Being a little late never bothered her much anyway.

"--arswirl's time travel spell has been spotted within Ashen territory. Our attempts at retrieving the scroll were unsuccessful, as we are unable to track its movements within their borders. We believe it may be headed towards some kind of guarded facility within Canterlot for further analysis."

Starlight's voice gasped. Was it something the spy said? Something offending, or--

"No no, it's... I thought that spell was gone for good. If... if more copies of that scroll exist, then... oh, no no no... this is bad--"

Emily inched a little closer, tuning out Starlight's increasingly broken muttering.

"Understandable," Blueblood's voice hummed. "I assume you are making preparations to try again at retrieving this scroll?"

"Indeed, sire. My ponies and I are detailing plans to infiltrate this facility in search of the spell."

"And what if you fail?" Blueblood's voice growled a little with that last word.

The spy seemed unfazed by the King's hostility, droning on in a near-monotone. "It is for this reason that we shall be split into two groups. If one is stricken down, then the other shall rescue those who survive and return them to our territory."

"Hmph," Blueblood grunted. "Very well then. Ensure that your operations remain as covert as possible, and we will retain the element of surprise lest the Ashen attempt to strike. You are dismissed. Starlight!"

Emily shrunk back at the mentioning of the mare's name.

"Starlight, I know you have been eavesdropping. Please, show yourself, and we may discuss the spell openly. Perhaps we may even let you wield it for yourself once it has been retrieved."

"Star!" Emily whispered, stepping from her hiding place. "Starlight! You done rambling yet? We've got a sticky situation with the King to handle!"

"...Yes. If needed, I can give you pointers on what to say. Please don't mess things up this time."

Emily nodded, though that wasn't necessarily a promise. She stopped in front of King Blueblood, bowing slightly.

"Starlight," Blueblood's voice dripped with warmth as he smiled. "You remember using that spell, do you not? My historians have told me all about you. Your past, your old... obsessions-- I know it all."

"I... yes," the girl forced a grin. "I'll admit that some of my past... uh, hobbies were a little--"

"Controlling? Powerful?" Blueblood cut in, "Indeed, Starlight, I am quite aware of your magical prowess. My advisors have been over their heads in discussion of your potential in retaking Canterlot from the Ashen."

Bad idea bad idea bad idea-- where the heck was Starlight?! She said she'd be giving pointers! Letting the conversation turn towards war plans was not a good place to be headed!

King Blueblood cocked his head. "Do you feel ill? You do not appear to be very attentive to my words."

"No!-- I... I was just thinking, that's all. Why do you wanna ta--"

"Tut--" Starlight abruptly interjected, forcing her own words from Emily's mouth. "Ahem. Sorry about the stutter, your majesty. What I meant to ask was why you wish to attempt to retake your homeland now, of all times. After all these years spent growing your stronghold in the Everfree, what purpose would retaking Canterlot even serve?"

Emily sighed as she felt Starlight recede again to the depths of her mind. Even if it was a little... sudden of a save, she'd probably have to thank the mare later for that one. Though, why she didn't just keep on controlling her body was beyond her.

Blueblood, for his part, remained silent, staring deep into her eyes. She shifted on her feet, looking away.


Her attention immediately snapped back to the stallion. His eyes were still locked firmly on her.

"Unification," the King repeated, "The Ashen is a splinter group that formed solely to follow the will of the late Twilight Sparkle, even when it was obvious that their inexperience in leadership would lead to great strife across the fracturing nation. We of the Old Guard only wish to re-establish order within their anarchistic bounds, and bring peace back to the land. If the Ashen are intent on fabricating our undoing by tampering with the past, then we have no choice but to declare war and defeat them before it can happen."

That... actually sounded like a pretty decent idea. To be honest, she was expecting something more along the lines of 'GARRR, ME WANT LAND AND POWER, I AM BAD FLUFFY ROYAL PONY'... or something like that.

"You are an absolute child, Emi."


Blueblood took a deep breath, recomposing himself after his brief monologue. "Do you have any other questions?"

"Tell him no," Starlight's voice whispered. "Asking more may make him suspicious."

Emily shook her head.

"Then you are dismissed. You may return to your quarters, but please--" a smile formed at the edge of his lips. "--if you wish to listen to my conversations with my fellow ponies, feel free to come into the open. There is no need to hide."


"Starlight, what the heck was that?"


Emily rolled her eyes, sitting down on the edge of her bed. "That. Y'know, the whole thing where you said you'd be giving pointers?"

"I did give pointers," Starlight's voice countered, "It's just... I was a little lost in thought, that's all. It's really nothing important."

"You're hiding something, aren't you?"

"Hmf. You think?"

"Yup," the girl folded her arms. "It's in your voice. I might not be the greatest at reading people, but it's pretty obvious that something's up. Spill the beans, Star."

Starlight remained silent.

"C'mon, it can't be that bad, can it? Is it about your old friends again? I know you probably want to see them, but--"

"It's about a mistake. A very big, very bad mistake from a long time ago."

"Well, if it's from a long time ago, then why would it matter? You can't change the past. If you hurt anyone, then they're definitely long-gone by now. Why are you thinking about this stuff now? It's probably best to move on from it. You shouldn't be beating yourself up over things from ages ago."

"Heh. Can't change the past," Starlight scoffed. "Easy for you to say. I nearly destroyed it."

...Destroyed it? So, what, did Starlight screw around with ti--

"Yes. I broke what was more or less a sacred bond out of spite, and every time I returned to the present, things were worse than they'd been before. The time that finally broke me was the timeline where this-- all of this-- was nothing but an arid wasteland. I'm starting to think that maybe..." Starlight's voice paused for a breath, letting it all out in a heavy sigh before continuing. "...Maybe this world is one of those bad timelines, too."

"Oh," Emily mumbled. "I... don't really know what to say about that. I... wow, shattering the timeline... no wonder why the King keeps prodding us to do some fancy spe--" she gasped. That time travel spell thingy that the spy was talking to Blueberry about! Was that the spell Starlight used to--


Emily pushed herself back up, her hands balling into fists. "Well then," she began, "How 'bout this-- we steal the spell, and get rid of it before anyone else can possibly make the same mistake?"

"We'll need to get out of here first. King Blueblood, or 'Blueberry' as you keep calling him, seems to want me to go into battle again for him. If I'm going to have to fight, I want to fight against him and his cronies. The Old Equestria is long-gone, but they don't seem to be able to get that through their thick skulls."

"I don't know, Star, we've only just gotten settled. Do we really have to--"


Emily sighed. She glanced at the window, then to the floor beneath her and the bed.

"Fine. Let's get out of here tonight. You can probably just teleport us or somethi--"

"No magic. With how obsessed Blueblood seems to be with magical artifacts and spells, this place is probably swarming with magic detection and nullifying fields. I know some old passages from the days of this place's construction that we can try taking. Not sure if they're still around anymore, but..." Starlight huffed. "It's worth a shot."

Alright, sewer-crawling it is!