• Published 17th Nov 2020
  • 8,179 Views, 285 Comments

Six Little Words - SpectralFury



Six little words slowly destroy Twilight’s faith in her mentor, and lead her to a different destiny.

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Paranoia

Twilight,

There is a matter of grave importance to discuss. I will visit your dream tonight at midnight.

Luna

===

Twilight was busy creating what she believed to be the new Fifth Law of Magic. Symbols and glyphs and beautiful math covered her mile long chalkboard. Her calculations were perfect. Her logic was sound. She turned away to quintuple check her notes. Yes! The next revolution in magical theory was at hoof! She turned back to her board, and screamed.

All her work was gone! The numbers and lines scrambled! Years of work, gone! All turned into-

“Wait, what?”

The lines and calculations had transformed into a flat drawing of Princess Luna. Twilight yelped as the drawing seemed to leap out of the board, resolving into her usual form.

“P-Princess! What have you done? All my work, my research! You…”

Luna’s horn flared blue, and Twilight froze as she suddenly became aware of the fact that she was in a dream.

Twilight gasped. “Ohmygosh! I’m so sorry, Luna! I didn’t know-”

Luna held up a hoof. “Tis fine, Twilight. I often get similar responses whenever I disturb pleasant dreams.” She frowned, clearly having been under stress.

Twilight smiled. “Right, right that makes sense. Er, are you okay? Been dealing with a lot of nightmares?” She looked around before giving a bit of will, shifting the dreamscape to her home at the Golden Oak Library.

Luna shook her head, and sat down on a chair. “Nay- er, no- er, yes. I have dealt with a baker’s dozen nightmares tonight. However such work is hardly winding. No I am...conflicted, about what I learned today.”

Twilight gave her full attention, bringing her own chair nearby to sit in. “Did you find out what Celestia wants from me?” Luna nodded silently, and Twilight winced at that. “Is it that bad?”

Luna sighed. “No. I maintain that she wants only the best for you, but…”

Twilight leaned in.

“I must beg your forgiveness,” Luna said sadly.

“You’re not going to tell me?” Twilight asked incredulously.

Luna sighed again and looked away with a wince. “This is...difficult. Celestia is my sister. You are my best friend. What she told me in confidence is...substantial. I promised to assist you in finding out her secret, however what I have found out…”

She swallowed. “Please understand, I still wish to help you. However doing so would mean massively betraying my sister’s trust. I am asking- nay, begging you to not force me to choose.” She looked to Twilight, her expression contorted by fear and guilt.

Twilight wanted to be mad, and was in fact outraged that Luna would go back on her promise to do this, but she also had felt the pull of being forced to choose between the trust of two friends before. It was not a pleasant experience.

Like a steam release, Twilight let out a breath, and with it, her anger. Old Twilight would stop at nothing to learn all she could, and damn whoever got their feelings hurt in the process. New Twilight…

She couldn’t do that to her friend.

“I won’t force you to choose.” She squeaked as the Lunar Princess surprised her with a hug and several impromptu tears.

“Thank you. You are the only true friend I have made since my return. The thought of losing you is...unthinkable. Tis been you that has made these early months bearable.” She let out a shuddering breath, and Twilight returned the hug. They sat there silently for several minutes before Luna finally pulled away, wiping away her tears.

“I understand that you can’t tell me directly,” Twilight said. “But can you give me anything? Nothing is fine, but…”

Luna nodded. “I understand. My plea is evidence enough that this is major, and I still wish to help you. So I shall give you some...assistance.” She paused in thought for a moment, playing with her tail a bit. Twilight had noted that Luna did that when in deep consideration.

Finally, she smiled gently. “I believe I can point you in the right direction. Yes, she is preparing you for something incredible. Something with a very heavy amount of responsibility. Tell me, do you have access to the Restricted Library?”

Twilight paled slightly at that question. “The Restricted Library?” The place where dangerous magic, dark magic, was contained. “I mean, I went in there a few times with Princess Celestia for some very limited research, but otherwise, no.”

Luna frowned slightly. “That is a setback. The knowledge you require is in there. I will not ask you to break in, especially as it is much more secure after Celestia’s previous student abused the rather lax security.”

Twilight remembered hearing something about that once at school. Sunset-something was her name. Started studying dark magic without permission and got banished for it.

Luna stood up. “We will bide our time. In a few months, I will suggest to sister to grant you access to it. She wishes to test you, and so I will propose a test. Unless...of course, you ask me to simply express my…” She hesitated. “...disapproval, at what she desires of you? To help nip this in the bud, as they say?”

Twilight thought about that. “What do you think?”

Luna smiled softly. “I believe that you have the potential to bear the burden admirably, however I also believe that you should have a say in the matter. What she will eventually thrust upon you is great.”

Twilight thought about that for a moment. “Actually, no. Let’s leave it alone for now. After all, I can always decline it if I want, right?”

Luna was silent, but frowned.

“Luna?”

“I am sorry, my friend, but I can not answer that.”

Twilight looked at her, but then smiled faintly. “I think I understand.”

“Thank you.”

===

Twilight wasn’t having a good day. First her brother Shining Armor was getting married, which in itself wasn’t a bad thing. The issue was that he sprung this on her the day before. Supposedly there was some kind of imminent, yet vague threat. So he was busy maintaining a massive shield over Canterlot by himself. His special talent may have been in abjurations, but even he had his limits.

The second problem was that he was marrying Cadance, or rather Mi Amore Cadenza as she had demanded to be called. Again, not something bad in and of itself, but her old foalsitter, who was the kindest and best pony ever, had gone rotten to the core. She was callous, dismissive, and practically had gone off the deep end of snooty noble behavior. She was a princess, but she had always kept away from that kind of acting when she was younger.

The final straw was the thing Twilight was running away from. After eavesdropping on a conversation between Shining and Cadance, she spied the evil pony using neuromancy to force him to concede a disagreement. Mind magics were highly restricted, punishable by banishment to Tartarus for unauthorized use.

“You’re sure it was neuromancy?” Luna asked with a level tone. Twilight had gone straight to the royal sister that was awake, and since it was night time, that was Luna. Even if Celestia was up, Twilight would have probably gone to Luna anyway. A vague threat to Canterlot had ‘test’ written all over it, and Twilight was not willing to gamble her brother’s well being on that. Celestia was untrustworthy. She had some kind of plan, and had gambled with lives in the past. Twilight refused to allow that to happen again.

“Well, maybe?” Twilight said uncertainly. “When she zapped him, he collapsed, his eyes unfocused, and he looked dazed. After that he seemed to go along with whatever she said.”

Luna frowned, fidgeting with her tail. “While it’s hearsay, your description does suggest you are correct. The behavior you’ve described of our adopted niece is most odd as well. She’s usually always so...bubbly. It could be simply stress, as your friends describe, but it takes a considerable amount to change a pony so. Do you have anything else to add?”

“Well…” Twilight gently tapped at her forehead. “Oh! Her magical aura has changed. It’s supposed to be blue, but now it’s this bright green color.”

Luna frowned. “Bright green. That sounds familiar, but I’m afraid I can’t remember exactly where from. Aura changes are not unheard of, however. It could be irrelevant. After all, some spells have their own color by themselves.”

“So what are we doing to do?” Twilight asked, starting to get frantic. “My brother is being mind controlled by that...she-demon, and nopony believes me!” Luna put a comforting hoof on Twilight’s withers, and with a few gentle pats, the edge of the unicorn’s stress was taken off.

“Calm yourself, Twilight. We must tread carefully, and plan. To act rashly is foolish. After all, a general consumed by their emotions will almost always be easier to defeat than one that is cool and collected. You must not succumb to your nerves. Now, release your stress.”

Twilight nodded and took several minutes, and calming breaths, to bring herself down to a level of significant, but manageable, worry.

“Well done, my friend. Now, in any engagement, information is crucial. Walking onto a battlefield blind is the easiest path to defeat. What do we know?”

And so they discussed what they knew, and fashioned a hypothesis. There was an anonymous threat against Canterlot, and thus Shining Armor was shielding it. The threat, at least the obvious one, had yet to appear, so Shining was spending energy on a possible hoax, and tiring himself. If the enemy wanted they could simply wait for him to collapse from exhaustion, and attack while the main defense was spent.

Should Twilight have been correct, that meant that Cadance was allied with this threat, or could have been the mastermind behind it.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Twilight said. “Cadance was always so kind, caring, not...callous and evil.”

“You forget, Twilight, that anypony can succumb to darkness and hatred. Simply look upon me for an example.” Twilight cringed. “No, Twilight, do not feel guilty for bringing it up; my guilt has been eased considerably. I will always live with what I did, but it was you that not only brought the Nightmare low, but also helped bring me back up.”

Twilight smiled with an embarrassed blush, and looked away for a moment. “Thank you.”

“You are most welcome. Now, dark magic is insidious. It’s possible that Cadance doesn’t even know what she is doing is wrong. However, we must not let her know we are suspicious, lest she spring into a rage, and threaten our subjects.”

“You have a plan?”

Luna smirked. “I do.”

===

Celestia, along with the Bearers, looked horrified at the black, buglike thing held securely in Celestia's magic. It was a simple plan: suggest that Shining Armor was exhausting himself, and have him checked by the garrison's doctor. Cadance had tried to stop this unsuccessfully, at the cost of drawing more and more suspicion on herself.

“Cadance?” Twilight asked weakly.

‘Cadance’ laughed, a wicked and hate filled thing that sent shivers down the spines of every pony there. “As if I would ever be a pathetic pony.”

“A changeling,” Luna said evenly. “A race long since thought defeated.”

“Luna and I locked them away,” Celestia explained. “To prevent them from draining the love from our ponies. It seems that they escaped. Who are you, broodmother? How long has it been since Metamorpha’s rule?”

“My grandmother died centuries ago in that blasted volcano,” the changeling growled. “I am Chrysalis, and it is my job to feed my subjects. I had planned on taking Canterlot. Equestria is filled with love; you ponies would have sustained us for years.” She scoffed. “It seems that my deception failed. Tell me, Nightmare Moon, how did you find out?”

Luna’s nose scrunched a bit at the name. “I didn’t. Twas Twilight Sparkle.” She gestured to the unicorn in question. “Apparently she found your acting to be quite lacking.” Chrysalis sneered. “So she and I planned to investigate you. I had my guard set up outside during the rehearsal, and requested a doctor to be on standby. It was simple to separate Captain Armor from you and have him examined. Should he have been clean, they would have dispersed. Twilight?”

Twilight stepped up. “The doctor found several geases on him, and there’s evidence of a chronic magical drain. He’ll be fine though. He’s headed to the infirmary to have them dispelled.”

Luna nodded. “It is unfortunate this truth has come to pass.”

“Where is the real Cadance? Celestia demanded.

Chrysalis laughed wickedly. “I’ll tell you nothing. Unless you release me, she will eventually starve to death. Even now, my soldiers are assailing your shield. Once they reach me, you will never find your precious Princess of Love.

Luna raised a brow in bemusement. After ordering Shining to allow her to assume responsibility for the shield, she stepped in with ease. “Is that what that is? Strange, I barely feel it. Much like a cloud of gnats trying to penetrate steel.” Rainbow Dash snorted in laughter at that before Luna approached the trapped Queen. “You will tell me where my niece is.”

Chrysalis glared. “Or what?”

Luna smirked. “I believe it’s not appropriate to say in polite company.” She motioned to the guards, who proceeded to throw the captured changeling in irons and a magical suppressor. She struggled, but the amount of ponies was simply too much, and she was led away.

“Luna,” Celestia said tiredly. “Those days are behind us.”

“The past seems to have clung to us, despite our attempts otherwise,” she replied cryptically. “I have borne this burden before, I will do so again for my niece.”

“Um, Twilight, what is she talking about?” Fluttershy asked quietly. Twilight simply shook her head. Speaking of what Luna planned would terrify the poor pegasus. Based on their expressions, only Pinkie Pie was the only other one that didn’t understand what wasn’t said.

“My own niece replaced, how did I miss this?” Celestia asked.

“You have always been too farsighted, sister. You focus too much on the future, and miss that which is right underneath your nose.”

Author's Note:

Fun fact: this chapter originally had a little over a thousand more words describing the execution of the plan. Unfortunately, this wasn't relevant to the focus of this chapter, which is Twilight's shift of trust away from Celestia and towards Luna.

A Canterlot Wedding gets tons of flak from the fans, and rightfully so. The Mane 5 basically forgot the aesop from Lesson Zero and abandoned their leader in favor of a princess they met only a few hours prior. Could Twilight have shown more tact? Absolutely. Cadance doing an almost complete personality flip should have been a huge obvious tell for Celestia, however. Stress, my butt. She knows her niece better than that.

Out of Character Alerts exist for a reason, after all.