• Published 12th Feb 2021
  • 590 Views, 37 Comments

When the Stars Sleep - Sea Gnash



Have you ever wondered what happens when the sun sets, but the moon doesn't rise to take its place?

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0. Prologue

~*~ Chapter 0 ~*~

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~*~ Prologue ~*~

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Doors closed up tight and window shades were drawn. Lights were turned off and lanterns snuffed out. Open signs turned to 'closed' and doors were locked with the clattering of keys. This was Ponyville's evening tune and Twilight Sparkle still loved it even after spending so much time in the small town resting under the shadow of Canterlot Mountain. It always felt much more homey than the more clean and mechanical nature of Canterlot.

With a box from Sugarcube Corner held protectively in an aura of purple magic, she allowed her eyes to drift up towards the sky where a relaxing mix of oranges and pinks melded together like a warm blanket for the eyes. A welcome change of scenery for the worn unicorn.

Her latest shipment of books on magic discoveries made it hard to schedule in any free time. So much so that simply picking up a box of assorted cookies to snack on while reading felt like a crunch, though definitely a welcome one. Even she needed a break from constant study every now and again, no matter what her friends might think.

She did find herself looking forward to delving into the next book on her list, however. Normally she wouldn't put much thought into a book on mythical beasts, but spending weeks surrounded by magical runes and formulas would make even the most devoted magician look for something simple to relax with and clear their mind. She always wanted to know more about the stories passed down by ponies living outside of Equestria's borders and now seemed like just as good a time as any.

Her home came into view just as the sun retreated behind the foothills on the outskirts of town, cloaking the library in a soft darkness kept away by the gentle lights filtering through the windows. Pushing against the front door with a little piece of her magic, a subtle creaking of its worn metal hinges welcomed her inside. She always thought to herself that she should get the old thing fixed, but something about that noise always felt comforting to her whenever she came home. Like an old ripped blanket you knew was past its prime, but loved anyway.

“Spike, I'm home!” called Twilight as she set her box of sweets down onto the nearby kitchen counter.

When no response came back down, she assumed the little dragon had gone to bed a little earlier than usual that night as he often did during her lengthy reading binges. Along with complaining about how watching her sit around with her nose buried in books all day was way too boring for him to handle. At the very least, it meant he would get up and take care of his chores sooner.

With another gentle touch of magic, Twilight untied the ribbon from her box and opened it up to reveal a collection of a dozen equally-sized sugar cookies, each one bearing a perfect recreation of her cutie mark done up in icing. Pinkie Pie truly did enjoy giving that little personal touch to every order, and that was something she could appreciate.

Taking three of the sweet treats onto a little plate, she shut off the lights of the first floor and made her way up the stairs at a quiet canter. On her way to her bedroom, she snuck a quick peek into Spike's room to see that little ball curled up in his basket, the sight putting a little smile onto her face.

Closing the door to her bedroom behind her, she set the plate of cookies down onto her desk next to the twin stacks of books and the pile of parchments filled with notes that took up the majority of the workspace. With one little glance out at the darkening sky, she turned her attention to the book sitting atop her to-do pile and picked it up. This would be a nice break from all of the magic runes she had been copying down the past few nights.

With a fresh cookie in her glowing magic and a soft pillow under her flank, she settled in for another night spent in the pursuit of knowledge. The book opened with the crackle of a brand new spine, a lovely sound that she would never grow tired of.

* * *

“Twilight! Come on, get up!”

Twilight groaned. Judging by the feeling of stiff paper against her cheek, she had fallen asleep at her desk. It had been quite a while since she last let herself get so engrossed in a book to do that. But right now, that was the least of her concerns when she had a baby dragon yelling in her ear.

As her eyes slowly creaked open, the blurred image of something purple and green filled her view. After a few blinks to allow her eyes to adjust to Spike's form, she found her vision filled by a concerned dragon's face. He had hopped up onto her desk to shake her awake.

“Spike? What time is it? Shouldn't you still be in bed?”

Judging by the darkness outside, it couldn't have been much later than three or four in the morning. That only rose further questions, like why he was awake in the first place or what was so important that it couldn't wait until sunrise.

“Funny hearing that from somepony I found sleeping on a book,” retorted the little dragon, making Twilight sit up with a little huff. “Anyway, there's no time for that! You gotta come outside and see this!”

The tugging on her mane forced an annoyed grumble out of Twilight. Spike was often one to get overly worked up over simple things, but humoring him was often the quickest way to calm him down and she was far too groggy to argue.

“Alright, show me what this big an important thing is so I can get back to sleep,” relented Twilight as she rose back up to her hooves.

The trip down the stairs was as short as expected, even if her state of half-sleep made everything feel like it was moving in slow motion. Spike refused to answer any of her questions about what it was he was trying to show her, so she had given up on asking pretty quickly. Instead, she took to matching his pace the best she could.

Somehow, the squeaking of the front door felt much less comforting than usual that time around. The air outside felt oddly heavy, like a weighted blanket was covering every inch of her body. And as her mind steadily woke, she could sense an odd stillness filling the entire town. The gentle night breeze that often ran through the valley couldn't be felt running over her fur and no rustling of leaves overhead could be heard. It was as if the air itself refused to move.

Other ponies were standing just outside their homes or holding their heads out of windows. It seems like they weren't the only ones awake that night. However, it wasn't until Spike tugged on her tail that Twilight was shaken from her confusion just enough to realize they were all staring in the same direction.

With some hesitation, she turned her gaze eastward and then up. What greeted her nervous eyes wasn't anything she was prepared for.

Nothing. What she saw up in the sky was nothing. No moon, no stars, nothing. Just a deep, dark blackness that almost felt like it would start beckoning to her to somehow get closer if she stared at it for too long. A deep emptiness that sent the coldest of chills down her spine and through her tail. Despite her fear, she almost felt like she didn't want to look away from it. As if staring at it for long enough would give her the answer to why it was there in the first place.

Dong...dong...dong...dong...

The sound of the town's tall clock tower shook Twilight from her trance, seemingly doing the same for the other townsponies she could see. Taking a deep breath of that heavy, stale air and closing her eyes, she tried her best to focus her mind and shake away that groggy feeling that just wouldn't leave her.

Dong...dong...dong...dong...

The tower's bell almost felt like it was louder than usual. Like the noise was ringing out directly into her ears and only disrupting her thoughts more than everything else already was. Like it was begging for her attention.

Dong...dong...dong...dong...

“What do you think it is, Twilight?” asked Spike, the little dragon hiding underneath her with his shaking claws wrapped around her left foreleg.

“I don't know, Spike. But it's noon.”

Author's Note:

Hello world! This is my first true piece I've written with plans to submit here. I've spent countless hours reading the wonderful stories here and have always wanted to add my own works to the lists.

Any feedback will be greatly appreciated and I hope to be back with Chapter 1 ready to go very soon!